This month (18 March) the Coastal Trail Series comes to East Sussex. With a 10k run, half and full marathons and an ultra event (an ordinary marathon seems ultra enough to me, so I double-doff my metaphorical hat to anyone doing this), there's something for every endurance runner looking for a tough and scenic test.
And scenic it surely will be. Taking place around Eastbourne and Seaford on the South Coast, the routes cover such renowned beauty spots as the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head,
following the trail along the top of those iconic white chalk cliffs - just a stone's throw from the varied terrain of woodland and pretty villages inland towards the South Downs.
I'd guess the competitors won't be paying too much attention to anything but their own legs and lungs, but if you're support crew or spectating you'll have the best of both worlds - the excitement and the scenery. Without the pain (though I imagine that if you're part of a runner's crew and based in self-catering accommodation for the event, you'll probably be doing the cooking).
Having walked much of this area I know it can be quite deceptive. Those rolling hills don't look much from a distance but there's nothing small about them, and they can really take it out of you. The effort is well rewarded, though, with fantastic views in all directions. For the less fit or able there are plenty of places you can park and take a short stroll, though, so everyone can enjoy this gorgeous part of Sussex. And if it's too chilly to picnic there's no shortage of pubs and tearooms for a refreshment stop.
Crucially, of course, there are also plenty of self-catering places to stay in Sussex for the Coastal Marathon. It seems to me that self-catering is the ideal accommodation for this kind of event as you can work everything around your own agenda, whether you book a short stay or a make a week's holiday out of it.
We wish all the competitors good luck, strong legs... and a speedy recovery.