100K in one day in May

Well that has to be one of the craziest, hardest and most rewarding things I have done… so far! Running from London to Brighton (just over 63 miles) for nearly 24 hours was tough (when I say running, there was jogging, trotting, walking and very nearly crawling involved as well) but the event itself was so well run and supported it did help.

My friend Dave and I arrived at registration for our 7.15am start, surrounded by a few hundred other runners, joggers and walkers.  The sun was shining and there was a real buzz about Richmond Park and it wasn’t long before we were herded into the starting pen.   When the horn goes for a normal race, everyone sprints off trying to be first but for a 100km challenge it’s completely different with no one wanting to lead the way but that was it, the beginning of our epic journey.  The first 25km was relatively flat, along the Thames then out of London towards the first major checkpoint.  We made great time and were feeling good, it still amazes me that Dave only started running 2 years ago and for us to get to 25km ahead of schedule was a real boost, not wanting to lose the momentum we made it a quick stop and carried on.  The ‘halfway point’ was actually at 56km which psychologically makes it a completely different feeling, that, coupled with the hot sun and running through open fields, made this by far the toughest stage for us.  All the great running we had done at the start was quickly undone as our pace dropped and we had to focus on taking on enough fluids and fuel over keeping a good pace.  Knowing our families were waiting at half way kept us going but at a pace way below what we wanted. The ‘halfway’ distance in itself is further than we had ever run in training, knowing this and feeling exhausted doesn’t spur you on for the following 46km.  We had a good chat with our families (that helps put things into perspective), forced a meal down, took on fluids, changed our clothes and rested for about 30 minutes before taking to the trails again, feeling refreshed.

The next 25km is a blur, we had some highs where we were running with other competitors and taking in some amazing views of the countryside but we also started running into the night.  Head torches on, we followed the clearly signed route of glow sticks through woodland, over fields and through towns and villages, this was a sobering end to the day and only seeing what your head torch picks up becomes demoralising after a while.  We listened to music (Dave’s dance anthems at one point perked us up into a run) to help us through and talked to as many different competitors as we could, everyone in the same boat, trying to achieve the same thing and supporting each other throughout the day was an amazing thing to be part of.  The 80km check point at 1am was a dark time for everyone, at this checkpoint we saw 3 people pull out, others having legs strapped and even the odd competitor having a nap.  It is as tough mentally at this stage as it is physically so we had to make the best of it, I munched through a plate of pizza and chilli (strange combination but desperate times…) and Dave got a massage to loosen his ever tightening legs, we pack ourselves up with snacks and Haribo and trotted on to the next checkpoint.  By the time we met the hill up to Brighton it was beginning to get light again, the worst part of walking up this huge hill, knowing you still have another 10km to go, is your alarm from the morning before going off; I genuinely can’t remember the last time I stayed awake for 24 hours, let alone ran, jogged and walked the whole time!  The last 5km were slow going, the views over Brighton were probably lovely but we were only focused on finishing and rounding the corner of the race course, seeing our families at the finish was a surreal feeling of relief, excitement, celebration and everything else.

So, 100km and 23 hours later we have done it- 100k in a Day in May.  More importantly I have raised £950 for Deal Breastfeeding Support Group from my GoFundMe page and cash donations which will help enormously with the work they do in the South East Kent area. A huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored me through this crazy challenge, it made a big difference to me during the challenge knowing so many people had pledged money that I couldn’t drop out and it will make a big difference to new mums and babies too.

Thank you for your support.

James Anderson

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Manager & Design Technology Teacher