Uphill struggle the perfect preparation for Great South Run

The Year 6/7 race gets under way at Butser Hill
The Year 6/7 race gets under way at Butser Hill
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So that’s why they call it a challenge.

The ups and downs of running, quite literally, packed into one race.

With the Great South Run about a month away, what could possibly be a better training session than taking on Butser Hill?

The first big ascent up to the highest point on the South Downs was always going to hit hard and it didn’t disappoint.

Then, for good measure, came the obstacle of clambering over the first fence, creaking under the pressure of hordes of already-fatigued runners attempting to hoist themselves over, any which way possible.

As if there weren’t enough mental obstacles to overcome.

By the time I started the second uphill stretch, the leaders had already raced off over the horizon and were not to be seen again.

Some frontrunners, however, had clearly started a little too quickly as the battle between mind and body intensified.

A chance to pick off some rivals perhaps but, hang on, I’m running up this hill and they’re walking alongside me.

At this point, realisation dawns that my running is more plodding and it’s barely quicker than walking pace.

Having made it to the top, the next blow was to see the walkers, recuperated somewhat, come searing past again.

But while considering the merits of their tactics, the next downhill section approached and it was time to press fast forward again.

The third and final climb of Butser seemed to wind on and on before, eventually, the final downhill stretch was in sight.

I’m usually quite proud of my sprint finish on the final stretch, it’s not Mo Farah-esque but I hope to overtake rather than be overtaken.

Perhaps it is just a desperate bid to end the suffering as quickly as possible.

Either way, after crossing the line, it’s clear that running – not walking – up Butser Hill three times, rates as one of the very high points in my fledgling racing career.

And after completing this challenge, those 10 miles around the streets of Portsmouth can’t possibly prove to be such an uphill struggle, can they?