Ahh shit. Here we go again. Just over six months after becoming a marathon runner it was time to put on my running shoes and do it all over again. This time, in Brighton, a seaside city on the south coast of England.

I didn’t make such a big deal about my second marathon on social media for one simple reason – I wasn’t fundraising.

Miles for Mind

I loved fundraising for Mind as part of my 2021 London Marathon journey and I’m thrilled with the amount we raised together. Fundraising for a charity and cause that means so much to me is something I know I’ll do more of in the future. And for that reason, I was quite comfortable taking a break from it for this year.

That said, the mental health awareness side of it was still there. Which is why I still ran in my blue vest and reunited with the friends I made in 2021 as we all contributed toward one simple message – for better mental health.

Ready to go again

Preparation

There was a big difference in my preparation for Brighton compared to London. I’ll be the first to admit that. Firstly, I ran around 600 more training miles for London. I also stopped drinking alcohol two weeks before my first marathon and my all-around diet was better. In part, I think this was for the fundraising element of things. Ie, a lot of people had put money into my fundraising pot and I didn’t want to let them down. Plus, London was my first marathon so the incentive to give it my all was there.

London throwback

My intentions when signing up for Brighton were simple. I knew I wanted to attempt an Ironman in August 2023. And with the London Marathon taking place in October 2021 (just before winter) I wanted an event to motivate me to maintain a good level of fitness during the winter months. Enter Brighton.

I had two simple aims for the event itself. I wanted to run the entire thing (without stopping). And I wanted to enjoy it. Any other positives on top of that would have been a bonus.

My training plan still consisted of four exercise days per week. With London they were four different types of run, whereas I mixed it up with Brighton. A slower run to start the week, followed by a gym session where I used the stairmaster and incline treadmill (to prepare for the hills of Brighton), a swim, and finally a weekend long run which is the most important of marathon training.

Getting the miles in at Park Run

I knew for a while beforehand that I wasn’t going to beat my London time of 4:19:41, which was absolutely fine. At the end of the day it was down to the less intense workload I’d put in, so you were never going to see me push for it, let alone moan about not getting it. I ultimately completed the 26.2 mile slog in 4 hours 50 minutes and 27 seconds. Just over half an hour slower than London. However, I didn’t stop running the entire time. Unlike in the capital where the second half was very stop/start.

Brighton Marathon – the hills.

I’ve only been to Brighton a handful of times in the past. Mostly to see friends who lived there as well as a trip to the Amex to see West Ham. It’s one of the more popular cities in England, especially with students, and is considered by many to be the LGBTQ capital of the UK.

Brighton Pier as seen from the finishers village

Brighton is a hilly place, and these hills feature heavily in the first half of the marathon route. Fortunately, I was aware of this after being informed by people who have run it before. Therefore I was able to prepare for them as best I could. Although at times this involved a stairmaster or incline treadmill seeing as Chelmsford – the city I call home – isn’t the hillyiest of places.

The hills come at you thick and fast in Brighton. And by that I mean within the first half a mile upon leaving Preston Park. From my experience there are two types of hill you can come across when cycling/running. Short and steep or long and gradual. The first one of Brighton honestly feels like a combination of the two. In a way I’m glad it was this way because it’s over and done with but within the first corner of a 26.2 mile route is a bit much. I’d barely found my feet before it was time to attack it.

All smies before the start of our second marathon

Over the rest of the opening 13.1 miles of Brighton Marathon there’s a mix of inclines. There’s a very short and steep one in the city centre which didn’t cause too many issues. Plus a long and gradual one along the seafront away from Brighton and out toward Ovingdean and Rottingdean. I’m glad I was aware of the hills because if I hadn’t prepared it would have been a nightmare. Especially when you compare the route to London which is about as flat as they come.

Brighton Marathon – a very demoralising course

When it comes to the things I didn’t like about the Brighton Marathon there is one that is head and shoulders above the rest – the ‘there and back again’ sections.

In the end I lost count of how many times runners were heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. Or when you could see Shoreham Power Station (where we knew the marathon was heading) in the distance. It was getting closer and closer, then there would be a sharp detour into a housing estate out of nowhere for a five-mile detour.

A 26.2 mile route around the south coast.

I don’t mind loops/laps while out on a run but I honestly think it was too much at Brighton. In part, I think this is because it’s marathon distance so you just want it to be generous. But also, there are no mile markers when I’m running around Chelmsford. Whereas in Brighton I would see a mile marker on the opposite side of the road which said 19 while I was plodding along at mile 15. It was just too much if you ask me.

My Brighton Marathon

So there we have it. Goodbye, Jordan Camp, marathon runner. Hello, Jordan Camp, 2x marathon runner.

Although my time was 30 minutes slower than what I ran six months ago, I do consider Brighton a better run on a personal level.

All smiles after my second marathon

With the benefit of hindsight I set off too fast in the London Marathon. The first half was remarkably consistent with pace. The sub 4 hour dream was in sight, however, at mile 14 I stopped to use the toilet facilities and couldn’t really get going again. The remaining 12.2 miles were very stop/start.

My London marathon splits – clear room for improvement

After letting the dust settle following the London Marathon I studied my run and what I needed to do for Brighton was clear – start slow. Which is exactly what I did.

I did next to no speed work while training for Brighton. Instead I focused on distance and heart rate work, with the aim of keeping it as low as possible. The work paid off, and my average heart rate for Brighton was 147 beats per minute (bpm) compared to 164bpm for London.

Apart from finishing the thing, I consider my heart rate to be the biggest result for Brighton on a personal level. It also painted a clear picture of one of the things I need to work on moving forward. Strength and conditioning.

I’m a 6ft 4 man who weighs somewhere between 80-85kg (the last time I checked) so my body needs to be conditioned in holding that weight upright for long periods of time. In all honesty, I couldn’t tell you the last time I lifted weights in the gym. So I knew it was something I’d have to work on eventually.

Comparisons of my two marathons (chip time is wrong on both)

I know I need to work on this because during Brighton I felt absolutely fine the entire time on a respiratory front. It was just the body aches from holding up a man of my size which was an issue. I know this is going to happen on a 26.2 mile run regardless. However, if I can prolong that by lifting some weights then I’m all for it.

Despite running it better and enjoying it overall, Brighton wasn’t the perfect marathon experience. The original plan was that my partner and I would run the whole thing together. However, 21.5 miles in, after catching up with one of her work colleagues who was running for British Heart Foundation, we decided we’ll run the full distance together another time.

All in all, I’m happy to have completed Brighton Marathon but I can’t see myself returning to take part in it one again. There’s an abundance of good to take from it, both from an Ironman wannabe perspective and for my overall self-esteem. But I just see it as an event I’ll only ever do once.

If you’re a beginner and looking to sign up for your first marathon I recommend getting another medal under your belt first.

The bigger picture – the Ironman

Focusing on the Ironman for a minute. In August 2023 I have to run that distance immediately after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112.

As it stands, there’s not a chance I could do such a thing, which is fine. That’s why I’m preparing more than a year in advance. However, using my good friend Google I found that the average Ironman marathon time is 4 hours 54 minutes. After Brighton Marathon I now have firsthand experience of what that feels like.

If I could emulate my Brighton Marathon experience in Cork in August 2023 I would be elated. But trust me when I say there is a long way to go. It’s just nice to learn something from an achievement that lends itself to the bigger picture. If I’m honest there’s an abundance of these when running a marathon which can be applied to everyday life, just ask anyone who has completed one in the past, but being Ironman specific, it’s a huge step in the right direction.

Up next on the Ironman front is phase into front crawl and dust off the cobwebs of my road bike, while also preparing for my next running event in five weeks time.

Like what you see? Please take a look at some other my other posts below
My Ironman Journey posts
My London Marathon experience
The Wim Hof Method

Other links
Mind website
Cork Ironman

Ironman Journey – part four – 2022 Brighton Marathon

Jordan Camp


I’ve been sharing my writing with the world since 2015. Back then it was about travel, then I transitioned into wellbeing and mental health awareness. Soon after I was being paid for it as I wrote about sports, politics and, of course, the pandemic. My words have been published in the i, Mancunian Matters and a number of the South West London associated publications. In 2021 I ran my first marathon, for the UK mental health charity, Mind. I currently live in Essex where I am training to become an Ironman.


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