Brighton & Seaford, UK: Lotsa Fun and Races to Run

Brighton, England, is an unlikely running destination. Like cotton candy, the party-hearty city is a brightly colored swirl of sweet temptation that’s tantalizing to taste but leaves you sticky and queasy. Running in the region is the perfect cure for a hangover from too many hours in Brighton’s pubs or on its pier.

Our family had a blast when we headed south from London in June to take the kids to the rickety rides at the beach. We spent a couple of nights there, and I balanced out my pub crawling with waterfront running. Then we headed east a half hour, to the quaint Sussex town of Seaford, for one of our favorite half marathons ever.

Our kids flipped for the Brighton Pier ...

... and then Morgan and I flew through this half marathon in Seaford, which ends along these chalk-white cliffs.

If you want to combine a dazzling seaside destination with running, consider Brighton and one of these two races: The Brighton Half Marathon, held annually in mid-February (on Feb. 20 in 2011), and the Seaford Half Marathon, held in early June (June 5 in 2011).

I can’t vouch for the Brighton Half Marathon, but RunAbroad.com’s review recommends it as a fast, flat run along the seafront. I’d gladly run the Seaford Half again, though, and urge anyone who visits Brighton to detour east and explore the Sussex area known as the South Downs, even if you can’t be there for the half marathon.

Morgan and me at the start of the Seaford Half Marathon. The fog burned off as we ran through green pastures and a 14th-century village.

Around Mile 2 in the Seaford Half, traversing an area known as the South Downs.

The course starts by the beach and follows a trail through sheep pastures where the grass is as perfectly cropped as carpeting. It then intersects a fairy tale village called Alfriston with Tudor-style inns and pubs from the 14th century. We ran through bucolic back roads and along a gurgling stream until reconnecting with the coast that crashes against dramatic cliffs.

One of the backroads by Seaford and Alfriston, outside of Brighton.

For lodging, I recommend The Grand in Brighton—a classy grand Victorian—and The Silverdale B&B in Seaford. And if you’re traveling with kids, definitely take a detour to Drusilla’s Zoo, a first-rate zoo specializing in small animals and hands-on exhibits. Check out the Seaford Striders running group for info on other races and group runs in the area.

Other South Downs events and trails:

All photos copyright by Morgan Smith.

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  1. Seaford Half Marathon, UK | RunAbroad.com - October 24, 2011

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