Facing the Firehills

Today I was invited to join some of my fellow RPCCers for a run around the East Hill and Firehills. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty, with brutal hills, steps, ups, downs and mud. Its an ideal OCR and off road training ground, and it’s right on our doorstep.

One of the many stunning views over the Firehills
One of the many stunning views over the Firehills

We met up at the ungodly hour of 7.30am on A Sunday morning, and without any time to ease into the situation it was straight up the East Hill steps – these are steep, and long, and a pretty brutal way to warm up. My legs were screaming before I had even got half way, but a bit of a rest at the top to make sure we were all together, to catch our breath and take in the morning views over Hastings and we were off again, over the East Hill and heading for the Firehills.

Firehills Elevation Graph
Firehills Elevation Graph

This run takes you through some stunning countryside, but is definitely not for the faint hearted.  A downhill stint down some uneven paths, a bit of off-road fence climbing to get round some fallen trees, over and under yet more fallen trees then up what feels like a never ending set of steep, huge steps. Don’t think you are done once you reach the top though, a difficult section where you (try to) run up steep steps, only to come down a section and then head up yet another set.

Another stunning vista over the Firehills
Another stunning vista over the Firehills

Once you are finished with the stairs come the hills, up up up steep hills that feel like they go on forever, but my goodness the views up there are breathtaking (or maybe that was just the running).

Another of the picturesque views on the way round
Another of the picturesque views on the way round

Once you have finally made it to the top of all these hills, you end up near the coastguard cottages and you have amazing views both back towards Hastings and over towards Rye. When you stop to look back it makes you marvel at how far you have come – Not a huge distance according to the run-keepers but its all up and down some steep hills (I think I might have mentioned the hills?!)

Me trying to keep running up yet another hill
Me trying to keep running up yet another hill

At this point I was starting to have a bit of a falling out with my shoes – up until today I was having a bit of a love affair with my Inov-8 Mudclaw 300s, but today for some reason they started to rub a bit on my left foot, which unfortunately got steadily worse on the home stretch, infact for the final part of the run, once we got back on to the East Hill I decided to do it in my socks, I didn’t want to risk a massive blister before the Beast in the East race next weekend.

The final part of this run was much easier than the first leg, it is mainly down hill, partially on tarmac before heading back onto the East Hill, and it was here that I found I could get some good pace going (would have been even better without the aforementioned rubbing shoes).

Back to the top of the East Hill steps where we caught up with some of the faster runners in our group, a bit of a rest before heading back home for a shower and a protein shake. What an epic way to start a Sunday!

Panoramic view over Hastings from the top of the  East Hill steps
Panoramic view over Hastings from the top of the East Hill steps

For those people not so into their running this is also a fantastic place to go walking, take a camera and a picnic and spend the day (although fair warning, it can be steep, and I’m not sure if I have mentioned it, but there are a few steps!)

Our route over the Firehills
Our route over the Firehills