Sunday 25 September 2016


#156  Rocky  Milton Keynes  4:24
#157  Night Phoenix  Walton Upon Thames  5:44

Lots of Bling
I had 10 days or so to complete 52 in 52 (just a personal challenge) before my marathon count started going south as I had done a lot from Oct 1st on wards in 2015 and during September when I got married I had done none. I knew if I didn't complete it this weekend my last chance would be next weekend in Monaghan but anything could happen and I was really trying hard to get it over with quickly.

I was just coming off a completely rubbish run at the Tolkein Ultra and I knew my legs were shot. I have run a few double marathons as part of ultras so two in a day should be no problem should it? How wrong was I.

I knew this was going to be a long day but it was only one day. 4:45am the alarm went off but I was already up and stuffed some breakfast into me and it was off to Milton Keynes for the the first installment. It was 1.5hr drive to Caldcotte  lakes and I knew the road quite well. This is not my favorite course but today it suited and the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the release of Rocky 1 attracted me.  I arrived in plenty of time.

Now my strategy for today's first run was predicated on me having enough time to get to Walton on Thames afterwards and at the same time not kill myself. Given I was in bits after the Tolkein run it was amazing that I was here at all. I decided I wanted to go no slower than 5hrs and no faster than 4:30. That should give me enough time to travel to the next venue. There was actually a double on today at the lakes but I had chosen a different path. The run was 7.5 laps round the lake. The weather was due to be warm in the early 20's Centigrade and sunny.  I lathered on the sun cream and had on my trusty old worn out Hokas and Injinji socks (both of which stayed on all day).

Great medal
 At 8:30 we were off. I went off steady feeling a lot better than the Tolkein run. I was through 10K in just under the hour and was running pretty much by myself for most of the day. 2:04 saw the half marathon and I decided I needed to slow down a bit as it was going to be a long enough day. I therefore forced myself to go slower and started talking to anyone that would listen and walking every incline I could see. I spent some time with Karen Summerville who was a bit worried about her own two in one day but I hope I encouraged her as she looked really comfortable and it would be no bother. She would go on to do a negative split on her daily marathons. We also discovered that today was both our 156th and 157th marathons and we had well over 25 years cumulative experience since we did our first. Brian Mills who was party to our celebrations was not impressed.

I eventually finished in 4:24 which was faster than I anticipated and when over the line got the most gorgeous sip of ice cold coke form Noel Kennan (from Monaghan roots) who had been running amazing all week in his own challenge and was soon coming up to his own 50th marathon.

I didn't hang around and got straight in the car. I had 2.5hrs to get to the start line in Walton Upon Thames. Easy Peasy I thought, that was until I hit the traffic jam that is the M25. 2hrs 10 mins later I arrived in Walton and by the time I registered and stuffed my face with pasta I had 5 mins before the start. My legs at this point had given up and I hobbled to the start.

Closed Phoenix Medal
This event was part of a double itself and as we started at 3:30pm people were still finishing up from their own morning event TOP GRUN. There were a few there that I knew that were doing their own double so I felt in good company. I spent the first two laps in the company of Enda Cleary from Monistereven. Pace was hardly blistering at 11 minute miles but we had 6hrs to complete the course. We were also obliged from 6pm to take a head torch as that was dusk. It was 8 out and backs along the tow path for a marathon.

The first 10K was in 1:15 or 5hr marathon pace. My legs had been screaming at me from the start. My heart rate also seemed high for the effort that I was putting in (175). That was something that I would have to monitor but thankfully it settled down. This was easily the worst stiffness that I have ever experienced and I had thoughts of not making the cut-off.

I felt that If I managed a 2:30 first half I could crawl home. Some were not taking it as serious and Enda headed off after 3 laps (but only got credited for 1) and there were lots of 99's and lollies and even pints being drunk on the course. It was easy to see those that had only one race today as the sped past everyone.

Open Phoenix medal 
One of the big advantages of this course is that you meet everyone twice a lap so it is very sociable and there is lots of encouragement. The aid station is also passed often and has everything including Haribo mini men which is my favorite.

2:35 saw me through half way and the head torch came on.  I normally enjoy running in the dark but I was in so much pain this time that the fun was curbed somewhat and it really became a count down the laps excruciating exercise. Some people like Jon Carson were running great and there were regular finishers from 3:30 on wards. Soon there were few of us left and it was dark but camaraderie was great and I got regular high fives from Costas and made sure to say hello and encourage Emine who had expressed worry about the dark bits (and there were dark bits).

I had 2 laps left to go and 1:55 to do it so knew that I was Ok for cut off but had really slowed to a
Aid Station
jog/death march pace and the legs had not improved. I never was so glad in my life to go out on my last lap and managed to make it home in 5:44. This is my slowest marathon by far but I have to say one of the toughest.

Definitely doing 2 marathons in one day with a 2hr drive in between is more difficult than a double marathon in an ultra. But I got it done and complete 52 in 52 and can now go on and try some less silly personal challenges.

There were very few phots taken today.

Strava results for today.

Friday 23 September 2016


Tolkein Run  (30.8 miles)

5th out of 102 finishers

Super medal
The 3rd Tolkein Run was back in Samphire Hoe. It was the first time I have been back here since the 100 miler in July.  Though it started off cloudy it was always close and got warm very quickly and also very sunny. That was not in the forecast.

The theme for today was JR Tolkein and there were a few had turned out in fancy dress (not as many as normal). This included a Frodo who did his last lap in bare feet (over gravel and everything). Well over 100 took part. I suspect a lot were there only because the medal was super awesome.

I had really pushed myself on two quite hilly courses the previous 2 weekends (both sub 4) and I totally underestimated how shredded my legs were. Right from the get go I was struggling and after 2 laps I knew this was going to be a long day as I was already under pressure. Given I was attempting 3 marathons and an ultra this week I decided early that I was not going to put myself under any more pressure than I needed. This was going to be the Ultra attempt which didn't need anything special in terms of pace.

I ran lap 1 with Lee who commented that it already was a lot warmer than predicted and he headed off after lap 1 to change. It was very humid and there was a lot of sweating going on. I knew every inch of this route and there were lots of flashbacks to the 100 miler. In particular I thought that if I had felt this knackered so early on in the 100 miler I would not have finished. Fortunately for me everyone else seemed to be struggling today too. The first surprise was Tracey who normally is as solid as a rock in 3:45ish bowed out early. She cajoled herself by saying she wasn't chasing numbers and didn't have it today. I joked to her I would try for an ultra (that was a mistake).

Half came and went in 2:17, well down on previous runs but it was now hot and humid and concrete. I started to walk a bit more than usual and my lap times went up and up. At 17.5 miles Enda came past. He told me earlier he was pacing 5hrs but that he would probably go ultra today. He probably was close enough to 5hrs in the end but didn't go out again.  I had started to take on a lot of water at the aid station. I missed the fudge and fruit  and usual selection of cakes today and in general the aid station wasn't up to its normal extraordinary variety. I think is more a reflection as to how spoiled I am than anything lacking but as usual the encouragement every time I passed it was super. I'm sure the bakers and fudge makers will be back again soon.

Lap 5 and 6 were not enjoyable at all with a mixture of heat, humidity, walking and a little slow running. Garry and Philip also seemed to be struggling bad today and surprisingly were not catching me. As I came up to the marathon finish in 5hrs odd I was 50/50 about stopping but seeing Enda flaked out on the grass made me decide to go on.  I had noticed about 4 or 5 others that had gone ultra and I had plenty of time so off I went on lap 8. Surprisingly I felt a little better on this lap and managed to run most of it (I giggled at Frodo who had taken off his shoes for his 7th lap and was gingerly making his way over the gravel). As I came to the end I was super surprised to see Gary go out on his lap 8. I felt that was brave. I finished and actually felt OK. I picked up my fantastic JR Tolkein themed medal and goodie bag and a lovely chat to skinny Gemma and Maryanne who is coming up to her 100th soon.  Over all I had a rubbish run but that was the last few weeks catching up on me. Well done to Traviss and Rachel and the volunteers who make for such a good atmosphere.

Strava stats for today

Monday 19 September 2016


#154 Kent Coyote Marathon (KCM)  3:56:54

Fantastic T and Medal

This is the sister event to the Kent Road Runner (KRR) that is run by TZruns (Ian and Sandra Berry). This is also likely to be the only running of this event as TZruns are exiting the event management business. They put on a hell of show but even they with all their extras were unable to sell this event out and only 250 took part. The organisers took a bath on the event.

The start was 9am so it was an early start from Basingstoke to get there on time. I am a big fan of Beetroot juice and its V02 enhancing properties and headed off with my 500ml of "beet it". Unfortunately my bottle was leaking and by the time I reached the services 30 miles from Gravesend in Kent there was a lovely splodge of "beet it" down my front. Straight to the toilets to clean up and I left it looking like CSI Las Vegas crime scene. A good start. Luckily I had a change of clothes with me.

Donna (just back from Rio)
Getting to the Cyclopark and parked up it was all too familiar from the recent Cyclopark series but this time we were on the actual Cyclopark itself. It was defined as a road marathon and the reverse of the KRR.

A very efficient registration with new T-Shirt had me ready in plenty of time. The next hour passed quickly chatting to everyone and hearing mythical stories of yesterdays Beerathon and celebrations that went on late into the night. There were a few hangovers around.
Pre start chats

Numbers were visibly down and there also seemed to be a lot less really fast guys around. The route was to be 20.5 laps of the park (in reverse) with chip timing keeping count. At 9am we were off on the small lap. I had forgot how hilly this course was and for the marathon it ended up being close to 1200ft which is hillier than the Connemarathon.

Just catching Tids
I started off trying to go as fast as I could and started ticking off the laps. 26mins 30secs had me through 5K. This was a little down than the previous 2 runs which was definitely down to the hilly nature of the course. A consistent next 5K had me through 10K in 52 mins. I wasn't the only one that had tried to go out hard with Louise Tidsbury and Glenn Keegan well ahead of me. It turns out they did a 48min 10K which was way way ahead of normal. There was lots of lapping and getting lapped and as the process went on you got the opportunity to spend sometime with most everyone in the race.
Suicide pace

I have to say I found it very weird that there was only one twin there.

Surprisingly to me I came through half way in 1:49. This was actually faster than I

had been recently but I hadn't noticed speeding up but I will take it. I passed Louise and Glen around now and they both agreed they had gone out at suicidal pace. Amazingly they both held on. Louise with her fist sub 4 in 3:58 and Glen with a 3:59 and first sub 4 in 8 years. Two very happy campers.

I did slow in the second half and started to hike up the two steepish hills on the back half of the loop and took on a lot more water at the well appointed aid station. Thanks to Malcolm for the coke around 20 miles. That was a life saver. I always felt in control of a sub 4hr today and as the laps counted down I had an ever increasing cushion.

And home
As you went through lap 20 the commentator rang a little bell and you were on your last lap. A special effort on the last lap had me coming through in 3:56:54. Very happy with todays performance.

There was a massive medal, buff, photo's and a beer at the end and much congratulations to everyone. There
was also massages, showers and a cafe for everyone. A super event over all.

Its a pity this is likely to be the last Coyote. I suspect the circuit marathon series which is due to take over will struggle even more to get people to turn up. Short laps are a love it or hate it format and I am reasonably ambivalent to it.

Photos courtesy of Philip Rand and TZruns

Strava stats for today

Monday 12 September 2016


Dundalk  3:58:11

When Collette O'Hagan announced this event a few months back I have never seen as much good will towards an event ever. There was just positive energy (north and south of the border) everywhere and help offered from all quarters and we were all kept abreast of what was happening by the very informative Facebook group page that was setup. It was a great showcase for Dundalk and Louth.

9am start
Collette with MCI's backing and a hoard of volunteers were well ready in advance. Being thoughtful Collette had even organised activities for the kids.

The Rosewood Country Club (formally the Sportsman) was a fantastic HQ with great facilities including free parking, a great hall and toilets. Being just off the M1 it was one of the more accessible venues if you came from the south or the north and there was a great mix of both.

It was to be a road marathon (maybe a half as well next year)  in and around the Cooley peninsula just North of Dundalk. It consisted of a 800m out and back followed by a 15 mile loop and a smaller 10 mile version of the same loop. It was shockingly hilly but very picturesque as you got off the main roads.

Organisation during the race was faultless with very well stocked aid stations every 3-5 miles with
everything you would want. The marshals were just great. There was two starts a 8am start and a 9am start.

Kris and I traveled from Crusaders and arrived just after 8am to see the back of the very large 8am start heading off.  Registration was a breeze and we picked up our numbers and chatted with many for the next hour which flew by. Since we were passing HQ 3 times you could leave your stuff there for handiness.
Nasty little hill

We were off at 9am with the first mile a short out and back. The field quickly spread out. My strategy today was do a fast first half and hang on. To this end I went out at sub 8 minute mile pace as the first section was flat. I however hadn't factored in a strongish wind that was into the face for most of the first 10K. 5K was passed in 24:30 and 10K in 50 minutes. Kris had stayed with me (this is her marathon pb pace) and after 10K she and Michael McKeown form East Down AC headed off into the distance and I lost touch with them before 10 miles. I was through 10 miles in 1:23 and this is where I came across Eimear Hurley who had come a cropper and was getting her knees bandaged. A quick high 5 and I was off again.

It was very rural and there even was a man on the side of the road with a big gun.

My plan was half way in 1:49 but the unexpected hills and wind had put paid to that, but I was still through in 1:52 (this was the same as Longford a couple of weeks ago) so I knew there was plenty of work to do to break 4hrs particularly as this course was way harder. Fortunately, while still having sore feet I didn't blister today (No Hoka's) and I always felt my pace was good enough.  The end of the 15 mile loop brought us on part of the tow path that is used by the DUNE race which was very pleasant running. Overall the scenery was fantastic and it was a great challenging loop (except the nasty little incline about 1km from the finish).
Lady's winner

The second 10 mile loop was similar except you were directed through some short cuts but it still had plenty of hills. I was doing fine upto 20 miles (2:53) but struggled with the last 10K. In fairness it was a tough last 10K. I even caught Michael McKeown near the end and had a reasonably strong finish for a 3:58:11 and was delighted with sub 4 no 54 and 49th marathon in the last 12 months.

At the end
Kris meantime had a 1:48 first half and came home in 3:43 for first lady home and had a very enjoyable run.

Afterwards with Tea and cakes and sandwiches there was a great
Cru on tour
atmosphere inside HQ as everyone from the 8am and 9am starts came across the line. The was great excitement as Team Kerr came in. Also inside HQ there was a Heineken Lite promotion with free beer. What wasnt there to like today and I have to say the best MCI event that I have been to and gives Craughwell a run for its money as the best small event in the country.

Photos Paul Fegan and Helena Dornan and Elma McEvoy and Sarah Mc Eneaney

Great set of photos  Click Here

Strava Stats for today.