Recently our hero Charlie Meyrick has run an astounding 100 miles in a day, raising an equally astounding £4440 so far for our work.
Charlie completed the SDW100 which is a one hundred mile race taking in the entire South Downs Way national trail, starting in Winchester and ending in Eastbourne with a total elevation of 12,700 feet. He did an amazing job and achieved the ‘One Day Running Buckle’ awarded to those who finish the race in under 24 hours!
Here Charlie writes about the day:
“One hundred miles is a long way to drive and its one hell of a long way to run!
As I sat in the car at 4.00am on Saturday 14th of June with the rain hammering down around me I wondered for the thousandth time what had ever made me believe that I was capable of running 4 marathons in one day.
The truth is my ego had put me in this spot. 6 years previously I had given up smoking and taken up running. After a few months with a 5km fun run in the bank a new challenge was required, naturally it had to be bigger and better than the last, a 10km followed, then came the first 10 miler followed by the half marathons, the full marathons, the first 50 mile ultra, 100km, the 120km alpine ultras and then here we were toeing the starting line of one of the UK’s toughest and most iconic races, SDW100. 100 miles to cover, 12,800 feet to climb and 96 gates and stiles to negotiate inside the 30 hour cut off.
The fear of failure had haunted me for weeks, was I fit enough? My last 50 miler in April had gone according to plan but on my last big training run 3 weeks before the wheels had fallen off after 30 miles and my long suffering wife had been scrambled to scoop me up off the downs. Had I eaten enough and drunk enough? Ultimately I would drink over 20 litres of water during the race, burn 18,000 calories and eat my own bodyweight in my youngest sons’ delicious homemade brownies.
Many, many people had been very generous with their time, their sponsorship and their support; it was time for me to deliver.
By 6.00am the rain had stopped and the sun was putting in an appearance as 300 runners set off from Chilcomb Sports Ground Winchester, destination Eastbourne. I had three lucky breaks on the day, the first was the fine weather, the second was the most refreshing downpour and the third was a running mate in the shape of local ultra-marathon runner Gareth Fish.
The first five miles passed in a flash as we climbed up onto the South Downs and across the top of Cheesefoot Head, the giant natural amphitheatre where Eisenhower had addressed his troops. By 7.45am we were through the first 10 mile checkpoint and running through some of the most stunning scenery that England has to offer.
Soon we were heading towards Queen Elizabeth Country Park at mile 22 and the first opportunity to meet up with my support crew in the shape of my little brother Hugo and his sidekick Larry with a boot load of spare kit, food, water and hydration supplements. Both had kindly crewed for me in the Alps last year so were well versed in the fine art of crewing. We climbed out of the valley the other side of the park listening to Hugo’s telephoned excuses as to why it was in fact the sat nav’s fault that we would have to run a little further before my stocks could be replenished!
By midday we had covered well over 30 miles and the temperature was beginning to get a little uncomfortable, remembering to take the electrolyte replacement tabs was going to be the name of the game. The stretch between Harting and Bignor Hill is surely the most beautiful part of the South Downs Way with seemingly endless views beyond Midhurst on the left and over the Channel to the Isle of Wight on the right. It is also my home territory being close to home and part of the trail that I have run hundreds of times.
By mid-morning Hugo and Larry has caught up with the race and their presence at the checkpoints was a huge lift to the spirits. I had given Hugo the keys to the family Land Rover and during the course of the day and night they made it their mission to cut the trail at places that certainly didn’t appear on any maps.
As we crested Bury Hill at mile 45 we were met by the sight of the darkest cloud rumbling towards us from the direction of Amberley, a few minutes later the heavens opened and delivered the most welcome shower of all time. 10 minutes later the rain stopped and we pressed on towards Washington and the half way mark, our clothing and packs were soaked. They would soon dry out but critically the rain had lowered our core body temperatures making the afternoon session considerably more comfortable.
Physiologically the halfway marker is a huge milestone, the point where you can start counting down the miles, we passed through Washington at mile 54 in good spirits and picked up our mandatory night gear including head torches and spare batteries.
I was still running with Gareth, a man I had never met before but had found myself chatting to at the start 10 hours earlier, we would still be chatting away when we reached Eastbourne later that night.
The next few hours passed without event and we got to Clayton Windmills at mile 70 for what we thought was our last rendezvous with my crew and family before the night leg. As it turned out the ‘terrible twins’ decided to see it through to the end if I bought them a curry – seemed like a fair deal!
The last 15 miles of the course includes some of the toughest climbs on the whole trail. We left the checkpoint at Southease at mile 84 beginning to feel the effects of our ordeal, blisters on blisters and legs that were beginning to push back.
We reached the village of Alfriston at just after 1 o’clock on Sunday morning and at that point with 8 miles to go we knew we were going to finish, pure adrenaline carried us the last few miles, all the aches and pains disappeared as we felt stronger and stronger the nearer we got to our goal.
The trail ends 2 miles above Eastbourne, its then a long downhill into the town and into the athletics stadium and a victory lap around the 400 metre track before crossing the line to the finish. Even at 3 o’clock in the morning there was a decent crowd gathered around the finish including of course the terrible twins!
I had run 100 miles in 21 hours and 27 minutes to finish in 48th place.
The following Saturday I returned to the downs and ran in the South Downs Marathon.
I’m delighted to have been able to use the event to raise money for Children On The Edge, a charity that continues to do incredible work, giving hope and help to some of the most disadvantaged children in often forgotten corners of the earth. I hope I can help again in the future as they are a cause well worth going the extra mile for.”
We’d like to express the hugest amount of thanks possible to Charlie for taking on this Herculean challenge for us, as well as our congratulations for such an incredible achievement!