Monday 27 June 2016

Energia 12hr

Energia 12hr Victoria Park, Belfast 63.85 Miles (102.77 km's)

This was the national 24 hr championships held at a new venue in Victoria Park, East Belfast.

Kris and I represented Crusaders at this event. I took on the 12hr event option and Kris took on the 24hr event. It was moved from the Mary Peters track as a dress rehearsal for the World 24hr championships that are due to be held here in June 2017.

At the Start
Around 150 took part in the 24 hr, 12 hr, 100K and team relay events that were all on at the same time on the same course. The main event being the solo 24hr event. Everyone arrived hours early to setup their stalls. The Fil-Irish had a full self sufficient
village setup, beside them encamped MCI and opposite them the Trailheads with DBRC split between their own tented village and closer to the start-finish with the Mayflies. Also there was the Irish defense forces tent that you could have parked a jumbo in. Lots of various clubs mainly from the north fitted around these areas and we in turn fitted in around these with our Aldi tent and Lillian's table.

Parking was an issue as we had to park on the far side of the carriageway and hump all our gear across the foot bridge. I was able to move the car in the middle of the night to the main car park but this may be something that has to be addressed for the worlds.

The Victoria park run went off at 9:30 am together with some of the relay guys and the atmosphere started to build. Registration was simple and efficient and we were given 2 numbers for multiple shirts as well as what turned out to be useless florescent band. At 12 noon we were set off by Mary Peters and spent a few hours getting used to the route. The 100K was the first race to catch fire as in the mens section the O50 world record went in 7:07 with the winner lapping everyone at will. The ladies winner in 8:10 also ran very well and I believe she just missed out on a UK team qualifying time by a few minutes.

The weather was very humid from the get go and temperatures were a lot higher than expected and when the sun came out there was lots of red faces and bodies around.  I suspect there was little sun cream on. Even early we saw some of the top guns struggle and there were regular drop outs during the day.

The route itself was flat and around the periphery of the park. As the day went on even the slightest incline became noticeable as did a slight camber. The path was rock hard concrete that pounded the body and was no doubt the reasons for many blisters and dropouts. In the inside of the path was a lake that was nice for the first while but became unnoticeable later.

Championship Ireland timing was used as the timing company. As you crossed the mat at the start/finish line your distance and no of laps came up on the screen. There was sometimes a significant lag which meant you missed your name and someone shouted after you and there was a major malfunction for quite a while late on the Sat which meant no-one had a rashers where they were. But it all came back and everything was fine. I had one query about a missed lap but that got sorted quickly and without fuss.

I managed a 4:13 first marathon and 5:08 50K and was delighted when my sisters family came along to support us all with Kieran doing some marshaling. Round and round and round and round we went.

There was a great atmosphere through the tented area and the support was relentless from everyone for eveyone. I felt everyone knew my name (It probably helped that I had "Lundy" on the front of my vest and "Leo" on the back. It retrospect I wonder how wise it was wearing a "Lundy" shirt in East Belfast coming up to the 12th July. My choice of Ambroisa Creamed rice and bananas with Coke and water seemed OK and I didn't try any of the sweet stuff and there was no need for Gels. There was a bewildering range of food on display from everyone.

On the course itself in general things were good but there were quite a few locals with attitude out there demanding that they walked 3 abreast or had their dogs off leads but in particular kids riding bikes against the runners was particularly annoying. However the marshals were fantastic and always supportive.

Kris mean time had long overtaken me but I got a shock as I passed the first aid tent and there she was (about 8 hrs in). It turns out she had blistered her toe and it was not in good shape and had spent 25 minutes with the medics getting it sorted. After a change of shoes and socks and major toe stuffing she soldiered on (no doubt in pain).

Coming thru Start/Finish
There was very mixed fortunes with everyone else. Some DBRC were having stonking runs (Gary in particular). I didn't see Anthony all day even though he must have passed me at least once as he ended up a couple of miles ahead. Mirko who is normally around me also must have being going at a similar pace as I only saw him once. Collette was flying and went on to do a massive PB (there is definitely 50 miles in her) and walked away with a special achievement award as the oldest athlete. Brenda was struggling a little and called it a day at 100K, Sean was really struggling and was at least 4 hrs off his normal time for his 100K. Teresa due to injury was walking her 100K and went on and on and on, it was awesome to watch. Ger called it a day after 60 miles. Sharon and Anne were steady and paced 100 miles perfectly. Paddy, Enda and Derek also paced things well and got their 100 miles.  The Fil-Irish were struggling except Rex who had a brilliant run. Don had a PB and Donna gave up twice and had a mid-race love affair. Finn and Catherine started slow and steady ended up in a fantastic battle for 2nd and 3rd place with Catherine being victorious in the end and both took home national medals. There were so many stories going on it was overwhelming and I am sure I have missed a few and I apologise.

50 Miles was passed in 9hrs and double marathon in 9:30. I was well down on my Portumna 100K time and was slowing to 13 or 14 minutes a mile with stops every lap to take on food and water. Given it was my 5th Ultra in June what did I expect.

Night fell and the much talked about temporary lighting came on. It was fine and it was actually quite a bright night anyway and warm with temperatures not dropping below 13 degrees. There was certainly no need for head lamps. The event supplied Pasta (Tuna , Yum) was delicious as was the porridge in the morning and as everyone had there own supplies it wasn't really needed except maybe for the supporters.

The last 2.5 hrs I managed only 10 miles which included a big effort over the last miles as we got close to the end. In fact the last mile was close to 10 minutes as we went as far as we could in the 12 hr time limit. The hooter went off at midnight and we planted our flags and all the 12 hr people stopped and waited to get measured. There was lots of hugs. As we walked back to the tented area we passed all the 24hr guys starting their second half and I was glad I was done. In total I managed 63.85 miles or 102.77K which was the furthest that I have ever ran.

Kris's day went from bad to worse after having got over the blisters her ankle started playing up and she decided early to walk the last load of miles to get her 100 miles and stop immediately. This undoubtedly was to do with the surface. She managed this in 21:28 and earned the coveted 24:00 100 mile club jacket which this year was in DBRC blue. Job done.

In summary I think there are things that need addressing for the world championships including parking and the public on the course. The surface will be tough but I doubt there is much that can be done about that. But I am sure that will be all sorted out and it will be roaring success.

Photos: Philip McEvoy and Emer McVeigh and Gary O'Daly and Mark Ramsey

Stats from Strava

Saturday 18 June 2016

Cookiethon Fudgeathon

#140 #141 Cookiethon and Fudgeathon

This was a couple of themed 8hr timed events around Kings Wood in Kent.

Day 1 Cookiethon   3rd out of 120 finishers  37.6 miles in 7:23:43
Day 2 Fudgeathon  12th out of 112 finishers 32.25 miles in 6:56:12

Not only was this a run but in line with the theme for the day there was a cookie baking and fudge making competition with the entries becoming part of the aid station. It was amazingly well supported with many cookies and fudge flavors. Fudge was my favorite and Jackie Hearne is a goddess.

The run itself was around the forest park. It was hot on both days and humid from early. The course was also very hilly with an estimated 100ft climb per mile on average. That was >3500ft on day 1 and 3200ft on Day 2.

Starting from the aid station we headed steep downhill for around 800m. This was rough flinty ground with lots of trip hazards and included 200m of an open field. Reaching the main fire trails we turned left and kept descending (sometimes steeply) following the main fire trail. The trail was in good condition and if you wanted you could let go on this section (I didn't).  The down hill wandered deep into the forest and was very far away from everything. There were a few dog walkers but apart from that the forest was ours. After about 1.5 miles we reached the bottom of the downhill section and started the first climb. It was steep (un-runnable after 1st loop for me) and lasted about 1/2 mile before flattening for around 800m. Followed quickly was  another steep downhill for 100m which led to the second steep climb of the day. This was shorter and steeper and again un-runnable. Cresting it was a flat and gentle downhill for a couple of minutes. Turning right we hit the longest and main drag of he day. It was runnable in the early laps but eventually it was a run/walk for most. It went on forever with many false summits (probably lasted only a mile or so but felt longer). Eventually we crested and turned right onto a long gentle downhill on good fire trail. Turning left of this trail, we hit a rough section downhill for 800m that was muddy and slippy on day one but Ok on day 2. Turning left we entered a steep uphill section that was muddy and rough. We kept ascending through a right turn. From here we climbed until we reached the small out and back section retracing our initial steps over rough ground for 800m back to the aid station. The loop measured 5.37 miles , had 500ft of climb and it was 5 laps for a marathon and 6 or more for an ultra.

Over the 2 days my quickest loop was 52 minutes and slowest was 1hr 10.

On day 1 I had the strategy of not taking cookies at the aid station. This saved me 15-20 minutes on the field but when I finished there were no cookies left. I didn't make that mistake on day 2 of the fudge.

It was slow going and it was hot and humid. I had decided that on Day 1 I would go for as long as I could starting  my Lap 7 after 6hrs and 25 minutes. Coming in after the 7hr cutoff I had to stop. Fortunately for me others also found the day tough and most finished at marathon. Noone stopping at marathon distance broke 4hrs (but 1st and 2nd overall did). It turns out I was the only person that did 7 laps with 2 of the younger faster guys managing to do 8. Amazingly I therefore came 3rd overall out of the 120 finishers covering a nice 37+ miles. Given this was only 4 days after my first 100K that wasn't bad.

On Day 2, I was sore as hell and from the start took it easy and had every intention of stopping at marathon if I could even do it. It was slow and pain full stuff and I absolutely loved the fudge at the aid station. It naturally took a lot longer and surprised myself when I went out on lap 6 to make an ultra. I thought I would have no chance of making lap 7 so discounted it. Then Ellan Yak came past with about 1.5 miles to go and disappeared into the distance. My watch told me if I ran the rest of it (uphill) I could just make 7 hours and have an option of 7th lap. Off I went and I managed to keep Ellan in my sights and by the time we were on the final stretch uphill she was only 50m ahead. We met Traviss at the bottom of the out and back and he said "will you catch her ?? Maybe not" and I kept going. Ellan was walking the last bit and I drew level. I was desperate to make a sub 7hrs and kept running to the end. When I arrived at the aid station (6:56) I was given the option of doing another lap but declined. I managed in the end 6 laps for 32+ miles and 12 spot out of 112 starters.

The medals as always were fantastic and this brought my weekly mileage to >130 miles. WOW!

Now for some rest.

Photos Courtesy of Dee/Philip Rand

Strava Cookiethon

Strava Fudeathon

Sunday 12 June 2016

Forest 100K

#139  Forest 100K Portumna

10th and 8th (1st woman)
This was a big one for me and by quite some distance the furthest I have ever been at 100K or 62 miles. I also was taking advantage of a free entry as I won my age group in 2015 in the 50K and Seb (Race Director) kindly allowed me transfer to the 100K.  Kris traveled with me again having won her entry for coming 3rd in the 50K in 2015 and was using this as her last long run before the Energia 24 in a couple of weeks.

It was a 7am start and we traveled from Galway city getting to Portumna in plenty of time. Registration was straightforward and we had organised in advance to put our food and things in the ever present FilIrish tent (thanks Paulo and Rolando). There were around 30 starters in the 100K and maybe 100 in the 50K that was due off at 7. The half marathon would kick in at 9:30 and the marathon at noon.

It was warm and humid as we set off on the traditional 5K loop. The loop started with a nice downhill section that winds its way through a tree covered area for around 1km. This tree cover was very welcome later in the day as the temperatures soared when the cloud broke in the
early afternoon.  The second  km opened up to a wide gravel trail that seemed an endless drag. Eventually it joined the out and back section which was roughly a km each way. This section out was predominantly a drag up as well as it passed the marina section and wound its way getting steeper  passing the ruins to the turn around point that had a very good aid station. Turning back on ourseves this time downhill for another km we retraced our steps to the 4km mark (this section always seemed like a rest). A sharp right turn on a nice gravel track brought us up hill to the start finish area and another well stocked aid station and our own stashes. It was 20 laps for the 100K with each runner being responsible for their own lap count before peeling off to the finish area.

I started reasonably fast at around 28 minute 5K's and have to admit that I got caught up with the 50Kers a little and was way too fast. I spent some time with Finn and Paddy Quinn during the first few hours staying steady at just under 30 min laps. Half marathon in 2:01 and full in 4:02 was testament to steady running. It then started to get warmer and warmer. Between marathon and 50K I again got caught up a little and over stretched for a good 50K time of 4:50 (which in itself would have been good enough for a top 25 in the 50K and 2nd in my age group). Finn followed me over the line for a massive 4:52 50K PB (good luck to her in the Energia 24hr). Kris was through in 4:54 with myself in 10th spot and Kris in 11th.

I kept going into the second half and as the sun was now up I had slowed to between 30 and 33 mins per 5K loop.

I felt relatively comfortable and came through 39.3 miles in exactly the same times as Tullaroan the previous week and through 50 miles in the same time as Fowlmead in April. If I had a plan I was on it.

I walked very little though my pace had dropped. For hours, I was not being passed or passing anyone and eventually when Kris who was getting ever closer passed me after 36 miles I was still in 10th spot. Kris was pacing things perfectly and was easing her way through the field and she inevitably lapped me after 50 miles and by that time had long since lapped all the other women in the race and was well ahead.

The last 4 laps were tough and the 100Kers were on our own now with the half, Marathon and 50K long since over. It was freakishly empty except for the start finish area which still had a great buzz.

I had now dropped to 35 -37 mins per lap and it was a tough old slog home.Then on my 20th lap I spotted Kris coming against me on the out and back. By my reckoning she should already be finished. We quickly checked her Garmin and sure enough she was at 64 miles and on lap 21. It wasn't funny at all and off she went to the finish.  She was first across the line regardless as she had already lapped all the other women in the race at least twice, and at the finish her 20 lap time was recorded as 10:10 which was a massive 1hr 30 min PB and another victory. Meanwhile I was eyeing up a sub 11hr finish and as I came through km 98 I knew I had to get a move on and really sprinted at 11:30 pace for the line. Eventually I came over the line in 10:57 and delighted to still be in 10th spot. Plan A success.

This again was a super organised event and I love it, but will have to pay in next year.

Photos: Peter Mooney and Mary Mockett and Amy Devlin (Amazing posters)

Strava stats for the day

Monday 6 June 2016


#138  Tullaroan Ultra   6:26:52

I was a relatively late entry into this event and am using it as my last long training run before the 100K in Portumna. Vincent Guthrie is the race director and I always have promised myself that I would do one of Vincent's races in his home turf. It was also Catherine Gutherie's 100th marathon and had shared a lot of Catherines events over the last few years,

It was an early start at 3:20am to get breakfasted and on the road for the 1.5hr drive to Tullaroan in Kilkenny. We were due off at 7am and I was on a tight time schedule for the day so was not going to start late. I picked up Kris at 4:15 and an uneventful trip got us to Tullaroan early. This was my first race in Killkenny and county no 31 in the my UK and Ireland County challenge.

It was muck spreading season and Tullaroan smelt beautiful in the warm early morning. It was funny seeing Kris gagging on leaving the car declaring it smelled just like Laois.

Vincent, the RD got us parked up and we met with Louise who had made the long trip from Galway and was also early. At 6am registration opened and we got our numbers. It looked like there were 37 entries in the first running of this Ultra. There were also 3 starts to the marathon with those also doing Derry and Cork joining the 7am start with the Ultra. There was much talk of hills. It made the results of the marathon quite confusing as the top 10 came from a mixture of all 3 starts. We briefly met Catherine on her 100th but the way the events fell I didn't see any of the 8am or few of the 9:30am start marathoners and it was also Paulo's 100th but I didn't see him.

Roasting at 7am
Vincent did a quick funny race briefing around 6:55 and the Ultra guys walked about 400m off course for their start while the early start marathoners started at the bridge just as the Ultra guys came past. The first mile and half was relatively flat as we exited the village and hit the country roads. I felt uncomfortable from the get go. Immediately wanting to go to the toilet and sweating profusely  and it was very salty and cutting the bejeysus out of my eyes. We turned left and started a long climb. The climb was endless and generally up for the guts of 5 miles and eventually eased off around the 10K mark. It was relentless. The front of my calves were also killing me at this stage. I stopped for an elongated toilet stop just before the top of the first part of the climb. Done, I then filtered back in near the back of the pack.

I felt a lot more comfortable and set about catching everyone that had come past me. First up was Derek and Shane who were running with John Dolan from DBRC. I stayed with them for a bit but John and I pulled away on the steepish downhill section after the house with the gnomes.  We turned left and passed a well stocked aid station and kept straight on for once a flat bit. I pulled ahead a little form John but heard a shout "Leo this way".. I had missed a turn and was happily going the wrong way for around 100m. I got back on course to find it was actually well signposted and I had obviously just zoned out. I would rue this 200m detour later as it cost me one or two places.

Bob on way to 2nd in the Mara 3:01
I pushed on from John and was shocked at the hill at 10.5 miles which for me was unrunnable and I hiked up it (it lasted about 1 mile), but then enjoyed the predoninantly downhill last couple of miles back to Tullaroan village. This was really a terrible first loop for me at 2:03 and all aspirations of a sub 6 or even a PB were gone.  Lap 2 started and felt way more comfortable than I did the first time round despite the heat rising . The highlight of this lap was Bob Cahill passing me in the lead of the marathon. He had built up about a 100m lead at his mile 8 (my mile 21) and looked comfortable. The heat got to him and he was eventually caught, but managed a 3:01 for second place. But his course record remained in tact. Meanwhile the heat had seriously turned up and it was well in to the 20's of degree in heat (some estimated 24 or 25). There was next to no shade on the whole course and the wind was marginal. Elevation turned out to be >750ft for every 13.1 mile loop which was a very hilly marathon and well over 2000ft in total for the Ultra. Near the end of lap 2 I also caught up with John and Shaun Boyle (not related I think) whom I had been with before my toilet break. On the downhill at 23 miles I pushed on and was soon on my own again.  I was through marathon distance in 4:13. It was great to see Gina from smelly Laois on the course with her dad supporting. That was a big and unexpected lift.

Kris and Gina in background
The third lap was pretty uneventful, just hot and hills. Luckily there were a lot of pop up aid stations and I reckon there were 8 on the lap with water, coke, sweets, jaffa cakes and sun cream. There were well needed and much appreciated. 6hrs was gone as was a PB 6:24 but I felt that 6:30 was possible. I pushed really hard over the last couple of miles (sub 9 minute) and spotted what I thought was another Ultra runner about 400m ahead. We had filtered into the 10K, Marathon and half marathon at this stage so it was busy. Coming into Tullaroan I had cut the defecate to 100m and kept pushing. By the time I had come over the bridge it was down to 10m and he came across the line 4 secs ahead of me. He was 9th finisher and I was 10th in 6:26 , damn close to my PB and but for that 200m detour.

Kris meantime had run a steady race with each lap under 2hrs, for a sub 4 marathon time and a 5:58 overall time and a massive PB. This gave her 4th overall and first lady for a famous victory.

I cant fault the organisation. There was a wonderful atmosphere and a fantastically organised race and a feed that would choke a horse at the end and there even was a bar and an ice cream van.

I had to rush home to Dublin for a dinner appointment but it was a good day.

Strava results from today

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Wedding and KRR

Greg And Janets Wedding challenge 36.25 miles 7:56:27  (1st overall)
Kent Road runner 4:25:32 (257th out of 458 finishers)

Wedding party on the course
Very steep downhill
This was a busy weekend. The weather forecast was good (if not very warm) and it was new course for this quite unique event. Greg and Janet are two regulars on the SVN running scene and ever present and they were getting married in the area on the Sunday. They were there dressed in wedding dress and tails complete with many family members and even bridesmaids. Pretty cool really.

The course itself was a last minute one in Ashdown Forest as the head ranger scuppered the original route. It was due to be hilly. No one really new how bad. To compensate for the elevation it was an 8hr time limit. 79 people started the event and you could run as far as you liked in the 8hr time period. It was a 1.9m loop that frequently came past the ever awesome aid station.

Steep uphill section
Stunning views
The event started on time at 9am and the first 50 m was gently down hill over grass before a left turn and gentle climb back to a car park for a couple of hundred meters. A sharp right brought us through a short forested section that had many tree roots exposed and a tree that had to be hurdled every lap. I went over on my ankle a couple of times in this section but survived. Exiting the forest you climbed a gentle hill back towards the start but continued straight. The views from here were spectacular. The course now started to go downhill and after 200m turned sharp left and started a very steep downhill section. This was very rutted and tough to keep a pace on. After carefully getting through this section the trail opened out briefly and you came to the lowest part of the course crossing a bridge before starting a very steep and long climb. For me this was only runnable in short bursts at the start and at the end. The rest was a steady hike. At the top again we had unbelievable views over Ashdown forest and I suspect most of Sussex. Cresting we turned right and had the only flat bit of the trail for a couple of hundred meters before again climbing steeply for a short time.This then flattened as we met the runners coming against us starting their very steep section. A left turn brought us to another steep unrunnable section for a short period before turning right back to the aid station.

14 laps was a long marathon (26.75 miles) with 15 or more being an Ultra. This was as tough a course as you could come across and the warm weather made it even tougher.

Round and around we went. It was slow going with not that many people ahead of me I was averaging 12 to 13 minutes a mile. Half marathon came at 2hrs 45, it was going to be a long day. The wedding party out on the course was a distraction but the heat was very wearing and the near endless climbs took its toll. Many stopped early. I was expecting very few to go further than marathon and was surprised when I noticed the leader in the marathon continuing on for extra laps.
I struggled to a 5:44 marathon. As the first marathon time home was 5:16 that made me feel a lot better. Meanwhile the leader had lapped me and I noticed her going out on lap 17. As I came to finish the marathon distance she lapped me for a second time and she stopped. I felt Ok and kept going determined to do 18 laps. Also going well was James, who I guessed was just behind me. I came round thru 17 and kept going. 18 came and went and I kept going. James finished at 18 and I was confident that as I came through 19 and the finish that there was noone else left. As it turned out I was right and 19 laps and 36.25 miles was good enough for my first ever race victory. YAY!  I was knackered.  As well as an epic medal and winner badge I also earned my 500 miles with SVN marathon series. I reckon that was my 18th run with them.

I felt Ok and headed for home. Bad traffic and 3.5hrs got me back to Basingstoke on a bank holiday Friday evening.

It was an early start again on the Saturday as I headed for the Cyclopark near Gravesend. I had run here before on a trail, this time we were actually on the park for a 21 loop marathon. This had been regularly voted a top 10 event in the UK and it had a huge reputation. Many who were running on Friday were also here. My legs were completly shot especially the quads but I was here.

Off we went. The first lap was a short one and we were given elastic bands to count down the rest. It was just over a 1 mile loop with one long drag and one long down hill. After a couple of loops it was impossible to tell where you were in the race as it was all mixed up. As you passed the start finish line a big screen gave you the number of laps competed so it all worked well. I got the feeling that this race was better suited to spectators as you could sit in one spot and people passed you often. It was also quite sociable and there were great aid stations. The weather was better for running than Friday as it actually rained for long periods which kept the temperature down.

As my legs were shot I had no expectations and was quite surprised that I came through half way in 2:06. I kept going and actually ran the whole race. I had myself come through marathon distance in sub 4:20 but found the race a little long with my official finish time being 4:25.

Nice video of the day

This was a good race that was quite unique and the medal was truly awesome.

I am back again in Sept for its sister race the Coyote.

Photo's courtesy of Philip Rand

Wedding Strava

Kent Road Runner Strava