A run along bouncing bomb alley!
The coast line along the route was used to test prototypes of Barnes Wallis's bouncing bomb. This area was chosen for its seclusion, while the clear landmark of the church towers and the ease of recovering prototypes from the shallow water were probably also factors. Different, inert versions of the bomb were tested at Reculver, leading to the development of the operational version known as "Upkeep". This bomb was used by the RAF's 617 Squadron in Operation Chastise, otherwise known as the Dambuster raids, in which dams in the Ruhr district of Germany were attacked by formations of Lancaster bombers. Just last year a bit of one of the bouncing bombs was washed up on the beach here!
We're returning for the sixth year to the lovely coastline at Birchington-on-Sea. The route is an approximately 6.58 mile out and back that you'll complete four times (for a marathon distance run) on near dead flat tarmac and concrete, the total elevation gain is I calculate, or more correctly my Garmin calculates as 16 feet. In total, not per out and back! Very, very flat, quick course, zero navigation, very straightforward!
Having completed lots of marathons we believe we know what it takes to put on an enjoyable marathon for the fit, the dedicated and the hardcore long distance runners. And for those, like myself, who fit none of those categories, we'll do our best to get you round!
Dambusters Challenge Medal - Complete with Spinning Bomb!
Come and join us for a bit of a run along the Kent Coast, we'll have a well stocked aid station, nice custom made medals and goody bags that actually contain goodies!
We put on events exactly the way we wish they were all run. Low key, friendly and with most of the entry fee being spent on the runners. Please explore the races and consider joining us in Kent for a long run or two.
This event forms part of a 10 Challenges in 10 Days Challenge, each event though is totally separate and you are free to just take part in one event, two events or however many you wish!
Starting from the end of "The Parade" in Birchington, Kent the route heads out on the Viking Coastal Trail in an almost direct line West towards the ruins of Reculver Castle.
The 3.29 miles outward bound route is all on wide tarmac and concrete paths (95%+ is tarmac), the only hazards being the occasional dog walker, cyclist and seagull. The route is right by the sea and runs alongside what's known as Minnis Bay, it's virtually impossible to go astray, you simply go past the first gate, and turn around at the second gate just short of Reculver Castle. A short distance beyond the second gate is a concrete wall, so if you run into that, you've gone too far, pick yourself up and head back again.
The Turn Around Gate in front of Reculver Castle...
There are no left or rights, nothing! Just straight along the sea wall, straight back to base camp for four loops of 6.58 miles, making the marathon distance of 26.2 (well, OK, very slightly over if my calculations are correct.
You can view the route here... http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/260016143
Points of interest you will see
Reculver Towers and Fort: Romans built a fort at Reculver two thousand years ago to guard the channel separating the Isle of Thanet from Kent. More than half of the fort has been washed into the sea but the southern and eastern walls remain. The twin towers of Reculver are the remains of a medieval church.
Just before the turnaround at Reculver Castle is a working oyster farm.
Salt water lagoon: About half way along the route by a slight bend in the sea wall and a shingle ridge has created a sheltered area with a salt-water lagoon. Sea Purslane, Sea Beet and Saltmarsh Rush grow on the clay and shingle banks.
The is a train line that runs parallel to the course, its not very interesting, but the occasional train breaks up the otherwise fairly mundane coastal scenery. It really is very flat, off to sea are some wind farms, a few sea birds, doing what sea birds do and I've seen a couple of snails on the route (try not to tread on them!). It's up and down the sea wall I'm afraid no herds of wildebeest, mountain vistas or tropical islands are on view. Bring a friend to chat to or wear an iPod is my advice. Ah, so occasionally people DO read the course description pages then!
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I get?
You will receive each day...
1) A really special finishers medal, custom made and designed, not a generic one.
2) A goody bag at the finish, which has goodies in, not a bunch of adverts. There will be nothing healthy in our goody bags, things they contain for example, chocolate, crisps..
3) A well stocked base camp with plenty of nibbles and refreshments for post race replenishment. Again there is nothing healthy here, no isotonic drinks or fruit. But cookies, crisps, nuts, pringles, M&Ms and those sorts of things!
Where do I park?
There is lots of free unrestricted street parking right near the start on The Parade. There is also "paid parking" slightly closer, at the time of writing it's £4 per day. We'd expect everyone to be able to easily park within 300 yards of the start and for the sake of walking a 100 extra yards we'd suggest just parking along The Parade as there are well over 100 car parking spots there. Post code for Sat Navs is CT7 9QP (Google Maps)
When do I get my race number?
You'll pick this up on race day morning from the race base camp.
Are there time limits?
Yes, six hours to run as many laps as you can. You can finish at any time within the 6 hours and your final distance will be recorded along with your finishing time. Only complete laps within the 6 hours will be recorded or you must have left the aid station for your last lap by 5.59:59 after the event start, even if you finish after the event time threshold. Any runner completing 4 laps will have completed marathon distance and will count as a marathon finish for the purposes of the 100 Marathon Club, if you complete 5 or more laps then you've completed an ultra. As long as you finish one lap then you'll receive an official finish time, medal and goody bag. With timed events there are no DNFs as long as you complete one lap..
Do you have secure baggage facilities
No. But you're free to leave bags at the start/finish. There will always be someone around but we can't guarantee their security, in the event of rain we can't guarantee things won't get wet.
Can I leave my own drinks/food at the aid station?
Yes no problem at all, we have a dedicated table for runners own supplies if they have anything special that they'd like to bring along..
Trail shoes? Road Shoes?
Road shoes. Its 99+% on decent tarmac/concrete.
Is the course closed to the public?
No. We are using the Viking Coastal Path which is part of a cycle route and is a nice enough walk alongside the coast. Runners do not have the right of way and need to be considerate of other users of the land, especially near the start/finish area which is a popular area for people walking their dogs, so beware of animals and leads. Please don't litter. We'll have a bin at the base camp.
What on course facilities do you provide?
Water, squash, nibbles, starter, timekeeper and encouragement every lap! Base station will be well stocked for all runners. This is a typical example of the picnics, sorry aid station, we have...
Are there any facilities at the start/finish area?
Aside from base camp, no. There are public toilets at the edge of the paid car parking behind the cafe and bike hire shop, and a cafe nearby too. Please be aware that the official opening time for these is 0800. There are also toilets behind Reculver in the car park, so you'd have to go a bit long on a lap if necessary but there if you're in need, I'd say it's about 300 yards past the gate.
On the Reculver Marathon route you'll pass within a few yards of both these sets of toilets.
How far apart are the aid stations?
You'll be back at the base camp at 6.55 miles, 13.1 miles, 19.65 miles.
Can I use an ipod or mp3 player on the course?
Yes. Though please be aware that you are running on public footpaths with the general public so make sure that you pay attention to cyclists, people, children on bikes, wildlife and so on.
Birchington-on-sea has a train station, about a mile from the start/finish.
Could a supporter meet me at Reculver?
Absolutely, its well worth a visit for a little while. There is paid parking there and a visitor centre, a pub and some ruins. Its a short walk down to the route from the ruins.
What are the nearby hotels?
There are lots of B&Bs in Birchington, the Trip Advisor list of reviews starts here.