A Runner's High in the Sussex Downs
I've been running since I was 18, to clear my head, and to get time alone (not to mention an amazing endorphin high). But even though I love running, and have been doing it for more than half of my life, I’d never joined any kind of organized race until last weekend.
On Sunday, I ran the Seaford Half Marathon to raise money for a child we know who has Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. The course begins on the sea front and moves into the Sussex Downs. And where there are Downs, there are Ups! It was a hilly, challenging run with incredible views and a companionable crowd. The local Lions Club did a fabulous job of organizing it.
There were a few quintessentially English things about this race. Because it was mostly off-road, there weren’t many non-runners around. But those who were able to come out to their front yards and country lanes to cheer did so in a very subdued way: “Well done,” they intoned, clapping softly. I just loved every one of them for it. At some of the water stations, volunteers passed out plain digestive biscuits. Who knew these were the perfect re-fuel at mile 10 of 13? I didn’t feel like eating a whole biscuit—the sun was hot, and I was really running hard. But at mile 11, a small boy appeared with a box of Jelly Babies (which are like Gummy Bears, only bigger and dusted with powdered sugar). He gave me a purple one, and it saved my race. The last mile, I felt like I was flying down the chalk cliff out of the hills and along the sea front. At the end of the race, volunteers handed our cups of Ribena, a blackcurrant flavored juice. I usually don’t like Ribena, but this time it couldn’t have tasted better. It was the most wonderful day.