Recently my blogging buddy and running inspiration, Runner Beans, wrote a great piece about her Top 5 Running Moments – she is a prolific marathon runner and her list included the London Marathon twice, Berlin Marathon, New York Marathon, and a beautiful sounding Valentine’s day run with her other half. Inspired by this, Stuart Storr wrote his list, he has been running a little while now and was at the very first London Marathon in 1981!

Now I reckon it’s my turn. What are yours?

London Marathon, 2012

My first marathon, all smiles at 18 miles!

My first marathon, all smiles at 18 miles!

I won a place in the London Marathon on the ballot, I had entered just because, and, if I’m honest, had no desire to actually do the race. When my number came up, however, I was instantly gripped by the idea running this iconic race.

The race was full of incredible moments; from the excitement at the start line, to the incredible tour of London’s landmarks; but it was the people that made this one of my most moving memories of all time. From the start line, every yard of the 26.2 mile course had supporters of all types – all offering words of support, cheers, and, most importantly, Jelly Babies.

Writing about it here really makes me want to go back and run it again..

London to Brighton, 100km

Running London to Brighton

Route finding while running London to Brighton

In March 2014, Sophie, Alex Ledger, and I set off at 5am on a normal Saturday morning to run 100km on a mostly off-road trail from Fulham, London, to the beach in Brighton. None of us had ever run further than a marathon each and had no idea what we were in for.

This was not an organised event so we had the excitement of map reading, carrying all our food and hydration, and not having the help of a support crew but we set out for an adventure, and what an adventure it was! We had one rule; whatever happens, we finish this together, and we did.

My favourite moment from this day was just as we came over the North Downs, 26 miles into the run. I turned to the others and said ‘One marathon down, 1.4 to go’. What a ludicrous thing to say? We all looked at each other, smiled, and carried on.

Chamonix Vertical KM

Breaking out above the clouds

Breaking out above the clouds

Vertical KM races are exploding all over mountain ranges, these short but brutal challenges have a simple rule; the route must be gain at least 1000m of ascent in less than 5km of distance; steep, in other words!

The Vertical KM in Chamonix is a stunning line that rises out of the centre of town, at the church, straight up under the Brévent ski lift. With the stunning late autumn weather, Sophie and I were looking for something to do and finally decided it was time to put ourselves against this local test-piece. The weather was pretty terrible and as we started the run we were in thick cloud. As we set off up the route, the close cloud gave an atmospheric feel to the run but it was halfway up that, suddenly, we felt the sun on our backs and, turning round, realised we had come out over a cloud inversion to the most stunning view – the whole Mont Blanc Range.

It sent shivers down my spine, feeling like a secret world that only we had discovered. A truly magical moment.

Winter Trails in Chamonix

Winter trail running for a Sidetracked magazine shoot, photo by Daniel Wildey

Winter trail running shoot for a Sidetracked magazine, photo by Daniel Wildey

Over the winter, while training for Annapurna, I had my first experience of winter trail running. My first foray into this was on a summer classic up to Merlet, above Les Houches. This winding and moderately steep trail gains 600m over about 10km giving a perfect half 20km circuit.

Normally this route takes me about 2 hours but I knew it would be slower with the 20cm of snow on the ground. 3 hours 30 minutes later, when I made it back home, I was glowing; inside and out. The work and effort of running in snow was something else, entirely, but it was the peace and solitude of running in this environment that easily puts this run on my top 5 moments.

This amazing photo was taken by Dan Wildey for a shoot Sophie and I did for Sidetracked Magazine in partnership with Salomon.

Annapurna

A sunrise boat trip to the start of my run

A sunrise boat trip to the start of my run

This didn’t quite go to plan but that doesn’t take away from what a truly magical and incredible experience. It was after I had to bail on the main run that, whilst licking my wounds in Pokhara, I went on a stunning 10km run up and round the lake the town sits on.

I took a boat across the lake at 5am and, after gaining the main ridge line, I witnessed the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever been fortunate enough to see in my life. Well worth the early morning rise.

by Charley Radcliffe

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