Stephen Sutch

Hong Kong: Saikung 50

Firstly I would like to say I always raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust in memory of my cousin Nick Jollyman.

It was only 4 years ago that I started running. After hitting 50 in 2015, I decided I needed to get fit and started on the NHS couch to 5k program. At that time I was living in Washington DC, and about to move to The Hague in the Netherlands with my wife Deb. I was travelling a lot with work and in fact travelling was one of the reasons I started running, as it is something I can always do provided I have a pair of shoes in my case.

My first ‘competitive race’ was to enter the half marathon in The Hague in early March 2017. Having completed that, a friend encouraged me to think about doing the Clarendon event later that year. Although not living in Hampshire for the best part of a decade, I still count it as home. I had already signed up to do the Winchester half in 2017, so signing up for the Clarendon half a week later seemed a bit daunting. Completing both, although not in record breaking times, encouraged me to think of doing a marathon, so I targeted the Clarendon marathon for 2018. Unfortunately a few days before the event I injured my knee on a very short run and so decided to register for the half instead - after 18 weeks of training I felt that was the least I could do.

I still felt there was a first marathon in me, so when I returned to Hampshire for Christmas my friend Andy (a multiple Clarendon veteran and ultra-runner) and I ran between Salisbury and Winchester cathedrals along a then very muddy Clarendon Way. Although it took over five and a half hours, it was my first marathon distance and I finished it relatively unscathed (just one sprawling fall on a slippery patch heading from Dean in to Winchester).

New Zealand: Up in the Mountains on the Tongariro Crossing

In 2019 I targeted the Leiden event (a short distance from The Hague) as my first marathon race. Training started at Christmas in Hampshire and continued for 18 weeks. Despite a heavy travel schedule I kept the training routine going for a total of 63 runs (708km) in 21 different cities, across 8 countries: Netherlands, UK, Hong Kong, Thailand, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and Cyprus. The running highlights for me were competing in a 12km hill race in the New Territories of Hong Kong, Sai Kung, and running the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the middle of New Zealand’s north island,. The crossing goes through the volcanic scenery of the two volcanoes of Mount Ngauruhoe (‘Mt Doom’ in Lord of the Rings films) and Mount Tongariro, a total of 20km and elevation of 900m.

Clarendon Marathon: Crossing the River Test

I am aiming to keep the training going for the next 18 weeks leading up to Clarendon. I have settled for a routine of 3 runs a week, an intervals run, a tempo run, and each weekend a long run building up to 32km. I’ll keep this going until a month before the race. Living in South Holland makes training for hills difficult but running on the dune trails gives me a good workout and I don’t complain about being able to run along the coast every week. On race day I just want to take it easy and get to the half way point in Broughton with plenty left in my legs for the climbs out of King’s Somborne, up to Farley mount, and then to head through Ham Green where I should get a support boost from my parents, who live just off the Way, with 4k to go. The great things about the Clarendon for me, is the amazing support from the numerous marshals all along the route, and the views are amazing. The hill climbs can be tough but the sight of runners streaming over them makes a for a great spectacle, and its worth pausing for a moment on the way up to take in the sweeping countryside.