Myself, Aaron and Dan on Bike support started the route at the Bat and Ball pub at 06:50 weather was overcast and 14 degrees, 98% humidity and a slight breeze. We had a game plan of running 10min miles for the first 20 miles then trying to hold onto 11min miles after that. The first few kms is on the road winding through a lovely little village with the river Avon running through.
We got to the Godshill checkpoint about a minute behind schedule but made up the time getting to Ashley walk this section has the steepest and tallest hills on the route. The next checkpoint Milkham is the furthest checkpoint along the route between another checkpoint roughly 5.6m, again this area is hilly and quite tough. We hit Milkham around 7 minutes ahead of schedule. This part of the route is quite open and we were very lucky that it was overcast keeping the sun at bay. Then next checkpoint was the underpass again we made up some more time and reached that 9 minutes early. Both feeling very comfortable at this point and happy to keep pushing the pace. Bolderwood was the first support point which Tom kindly met us with some much needed water top up, gels, food and a quick change of vest for myself and we set off roughly 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
From Bolderwood to Millyford then to the reptile centre is a beautiful part of the new forest with some amazing woodland and trails, the scenery on the part definitely took your mind off running. Leaving the reptile centre and heading to Balmer lawn was interesting the route we had chosen to take had a lot of tree roots, fallen trees and low branches but it was the most direct route, although the pace dropped a bit at this point the directness made up for it. Aaron was hitting a little wall but knowing his wife and kids were meeting him at the next check point spurred him on and before we knew it we made it to Balmer Lawn 30 minutes ahead of time. Again Lou and Poppy kindly waiting for us to arrive another quick stop so that the legs didn't seize, water bottles refilled food supplies topped up and off we went, with just a half marathon left.
The next check point at Ranswood was 4.5miles from Balmer Lawn but it felt like 10 well for me, I hit a wall about 2 miles into this part a small walk to eat an Oat bar and peanut chew bar and I was good to go. We made it to Ranswood and although we were both running well you could tell by the silence we were both filling it now, Dan was doing a great job to spur us on. The run from Ranswood to the carpark in Beaulieu was all on road and although running on the road isn't the most enjoyable the legs welcomed the break from gravel. Luckily, there was a water fountain at the Beaulieu carpark which we topped up our water bottles just in case as there was still 8 miles to go and it was starting to really warm up now. The next check point Moonhills had a nice hill for us to climb and we knew this was coming but it seemed to go on forever, again I had a little walk to take on a gel and try to stretch out some cramp I was having on both my knees. The little walk seemed to help the pain went and i was able to get going again. We got to Moonhills and we knew that we had done the hard bit now, there are a few hills in front of us but nothing to bad. Aaron was now having issues but refused to give in and walk he just kept going and couldn't talk much. We were soon at Dark water, with no need to stop we pushed on with a small climb on the road before hitting the trails known by the locals as the Lepe loop. Coming accross the fields the sea started to come into view which picked the spirits up, we kept pushing forward the gates didnt help but with the finish line insight it was easy not to stop running. Coming down the sea front with Kim, Lou and Poppy cheering us in, it was a great feeling of achievement making not only finishing but running 35 minutes faster than we planned and claiming a new FKT!
Thanks again to Callum for creating the route, Dan for the bike support the whole journey and Tom, Lou, Poppy, Kim for Car support at the checkpoints.