Run to the Sea Brighton 50k 2023 Race Report and Results

Race Date: Saturday 6th May 2023
Race Report by: Bryan John

For my 1st ever Ultra marathon I chose to run the 50k point to point Run to the Sea Brighton. (Apologies as I will be jumping between miles and KM throughout!) Organised by the relatively new running events company Ultraviolet (their other runs are the Round Reading Run since 2017 and Run to the Sea Bournemouth since 2020). Starting at the beautiful setting of Christ Church Horsham, the route takes you through the South Downs link for the first half – joining the rolling hills of the South Downs and eventually into Brighton where you emerge at the Sea front and the finish line. There are 4 check points en route roughly 10k apart and you have to cross the timing mat at each one to get a final time and place.  

Firstly, I wanted to point out the brilliant organisation by Ultraviolet. I was initially worried about the logistics of running a point to point race, but they provided the option of catching a coach at the finish line for an additional £6, meaning we could stay in Brighton the night before. The coach arrangements were sent out the week before and everything ran on time. The coach dropped us off at Christ Church school in Horsham where the race starts. We picked up our race numbers and dropped off our bags (which get dropped at the finish line for you, along with two optional personal food drops at check points 3 and 4). My only grumble was the limited number of toilets within the grounds, but overall was very well organised.

Runners set off in waves with each wave setting off in 5 minutes intervals due to the narrow paths of the South Downs link. The rain which was to blight us for the entire race had just begun to trickle as we set off at 8.35.  The link is roughly 15 miles of flat track which used to be a railway line, now converted to a walking path much like the Monsal Trail but without the views!  The elevation map showed that overall, this part of the route was downhill – but of course when you are running It, it doesn’t feel like it is! My plan was to run this part in just under 9 minute miles until the 2nd check point at 14.8 miles in and I managed to achieve that – getting to the check point in about 2 hours 10 minutes. The check points were well stocked with water and coke in dispensers, as well as sweets and crisps. 

I didn’t hang around as I knew that the second part of the route was completely different and just around the corner was the 1st of 4 big climbs. And it big it was. 1.7 miles and very steep, I attempted to run some of it, but it quickly turned into a power walk. About halfway up, the hill levelled out a bit and I was able to run again. At this point the rain was really coming down and I was glad that the organisers stipulated that a rainproof jacket was mandatory kit, although putting it on while running was a tricky task! 

The reward for such a climb was the stunning views from the top of the South Downs, something all the race reviews I had read before had pointed out. However, we didn’t get to see any of this as the rain and fog meant that we could only see about 20ft in front of us! A fellow runner I chatted to who had run the race the previous year assured me the view rumours were indeed true. 

What goes up must come down, and the down hill sections were fantastic to run, but before long another hill was in sight (only just). At the top of the 4th climb around 23 miles in, I knew that the rest of the course was relatively down hill from here on. But my hips had started to hurt, and I spent some time at the summit having a good stretch. The weather had really taken its toll on the paths and the next couple of miles were a very slippery and messy affair. 

At the end of the Downs was the final checkpoint. While I ate all the food I had dropped off at check point 3, I couldn’t stomach it at this point and stood under the gazebo for a while out of the rain which was at its worst at this point. I was told there was one last smaller hill before we hit the trail of parks and recreational grounds that linked us through Brighton. The sun had made a brief appearance now and I was feeling a lot more hopeful. As we left the final park and turned right, we could finally see the Sea! It was roughly a mile left to go, and it was all downhill. My hips held out, but I was hurting everywhere. We crossed the main road and turned left along the seafront to the finish line. There was no fanfare like the Manchester Marathon a few weeks earlier, but I was glad of that as my grand plans for a celebratory pint at the end were changed to a wet painful walk back to the apartment we were staying and a long shower.

A final point about the organisers, our bags at the end were absolutely soaking wet, not a problem for me but others had planned to change at the end before getting the train home. The next day we received an apology email, and they said lessons were learnt and it would not happen again. (Last year’s run was sunny apparently!)

I finished the race in 5:39:30 well within my target of 6 hours and coming 88th out of 300 finishers. As far as I am aware, I was the only Strider running, although I’m sure I saw another runner in the famous green and yellow which looked like it could have been an older design?

The race was won by Neil Kirby in a ridiculous 3:44:20. The 1st female runner was Emily Proto in a very impressive 4:27:02. Special mention for my friend Mike Francis who came 17th overall 4:40:28 (Sheffield runner but not a Strider)

Would I run it again? No. But that has nothing to do with the course or the organisers. Its because I am never running further than a marathon again!! Until the next one of course!

Striders results:

Position Name Category Time
88 Bryan John MV40 05:39:30

Full results can be viewed here.

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