NDW50 Wk 11: The Stepping Stones (wc 23.01.17)

An Unexpected Sunrise

6.21 miles, 59:52, 9:39 min/mile, 177ft elevation

One of those runs that you really don’t want to do, especially after 16 miles the day before, & then when you finally pull yourself out of your comfy bed & hit the roads you are SO thankful you did!

Mainly because I got to see the most spectacular of sunrises!


Bang on 30/30

7.2 miles, 1:00:01, 8:18 min/mile, 550ft elevation

The inaugural Striders of Croydon 30 minutes out & back at your own pace run.

Damn pleased with that distance, time & average pace especially as the route included Gravel Hill. Though my mile splits was all over the place as it was so undulating I was bang on with my 30/30 split. I don’t think I could have got any closer!

Leaping over the stepping stones…

13.25 miles, 2:25:29, 10:59 min/mile, 1,800ft elevation

The highlight run of this week was 13.25 miles along the North Downs Way on Saturday morning. Proper, real training on the course & the route for the big one, AND I got to leap (lol) over the Box Hill Stepping Stones for the first time!

I met a couple of guys from Striders, Martin & Myles, at Box Hill Station at 7:30am. Myles is also doing the NDW50 & Martin had recently run a 50km ultra in the jungle in Thailand (so I’m sure the NDW seemed easy by compassion!). We headed immediately for Box Hill. During the Three Mole Hills race in November, the only other time I’d climbed Box Hill, they’d re-routed the course due to bad weather to go over the bridge rather than the famed stepping stones. I FINALLY got to jump across the stepping stones… Well, as the photo shows, somewhat tentatively step across the stepping stones…


And then we hit the 289 (I think, I didn’t actually count I was concentrating too much on breathing…) steps up Box Hill. They’re not any easier when you’re expecting them (at Three MoleHills I had NO idea that steps were involved), but we hit the top of Box Hill before 8am, on a Saturday morning when almost everyone else we knew were still in bed. Get in!

We’d perfectly timed it for sunrise.

Except there was no sun.

Still spectacular views though.


The next few miles went by without incident as I remembered the route from one of my little adventures late last year. There’s a good running stretch through the woods not long after Box Hill, the kind of surface & terrain I like & so I was able to get a bit of pace going.

Stopped for a quick group selfie by the quarry. It was really good to run with others, all my previous runs on the NDW had been solo runs so it was great to have some company. It was also quite nice, from my point of view, to be feeling fairly confident about the navigation of the route. Martin had plotted it on his phone but we didn’t need to refer to it once as I recognised landmarks & turnings from my previous runs. This gives me a little bit of confidence for May.


And then we hit Reigate Hill. And took a little snack (aka walking) break! Once at the top of Reigate Hill it’s another pretty decent run, a chance to pick up a bit of pace again as we headed towards Merstham & our intended stopping point.


We’d seen very few other people out on the trail which I was surprised at but I guess it was early & it was, at least initially a little grey & miserable. Randomly just after Reigate Hill Golf Club we acknowledged three runners running towards us in the opposite direction & then realised it was Susie Chan & Cat Simpson (whose Dad is a Strider). I’d run with Cat on the head torch run on Wimbledon Common just before Christmas & Martin & I both knew Susie from social media. Really bizarre seeing people you recognise when you’re out & about!

We hit 10 miles in Merstham, Myles opted to stop. To be fair he was still recovering from his first ultra, the 43 mile Country to Capital two weeks earlier. Martin was aiming for 18 miles as he was running Seville marathon in four weeks & I really wanted to get to 12 so I ran on with Martin for a while. The sun had just come out & I decided to get to the top of Merstham Hill to take in the view then I’d loop back to the town to head home.


Views like these are one of the reasons I love running!


I said goodbye to Martin at the top, he was carrying on to Caterham. I was very, very tempted to join him but knew I needed to obey my training plan! I flew back down the hill & back into Merstham where Myles had very kindly waited 30 minutes for me to give me a lift back to Croydon!

Home by 11am. Husband was out so I had a shower & a nice little nap to recover!

The week also include my first hill reps session for about four years. At 5:30am, in the dark & cold…! And a 5am chasing the night buses recovery run on the Sunday morning post NDW LSR.

Week Eleven: 37.2 miles in total with 3,400 ft elevation gain IN ONE WEEK!

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