Saturday 22 October 2016

Winnie the Pooh

#161 Winnie the pooh Wander  31.5 miles 6:23:35
#162 Tigger Bouceathon    5:57:06

Amazing ledals

Twins (same fancy dress both days)
This was an AA Milne themed weekend that is sure to go on and on with next year already booked up with Eeyore and Piglet in the spotlight. AA Milne lived in and around Ashdown forest in East Sussex and it provided the inspiration for 100 Acre Wood and all of the familiar areas that featured in the Winnie the Pooh series of books.

Pooh Start (150)
This event had long sold out and there was a reasonable crowd of us had traveled over from Ireland for the event. As it was fancy dress friendly we all had made an effort to dress up. Some more than others with Collette O'Hagan's Piglet being special. Collette, Kris and Finn were with me and we rolled up to the new venue early on the Saturday dutifully dressed up to pick up our numbers. Finn unfortunately, just back from vacation in Spain, had a trail running incident that had likely cracked a couple of ribs and struggled all weekend, but bravely did 10 miles on day 1 and 15 miles on day 2 when less would have sufficed.

Fun before the start
There was also great secrecy around the medals which would only be shown after the start. During the race briefing Traviss also announced that the course was a little hillier than he remembered and the the cut off for being out on the last lap would be extended to 6hrs. My intention was to run all of the allotted time on both days. Spot on time we were off. The weather for day 1 was perfect with just the right amount of chill in the air.

The course was a figure of 8 with a small and a big loop meeting back at the aid station. The first loop of just over 2 miles, and reminded me a lot of the unbelievable course that was "the wedding day challenge", just down the road (also in Ashdown forest). It was hilly, very hilly. For the first mile you plunged down hill on open rough trail until you hit a small forested section, which when exited,  you kept going down along a long grassy section until you hit the low point of the course. Then you zig zagged your way all the back up again with long flat bits interspersed with 3 un-runnable sections. This is as hilly as you will ever come across and by the time we had made your way back to aid station the field had spread out. The second 3 mile odd loop was a lot flatter but still had some long drag uphills. The trail was generally good condition and the views when you reached the heights were spectacular over Sussex.
Coming to the end of small lap

Bounceathon start
Kris had pulled away quickly and Collette did what Collette does with Finn struggling bad from the rib injury. I really enjoyed the course, difficult as it was, and ran most of it on my own passing and being passed by a few (except Paul Cummons who stuck with me for 2 days). At >3000 ft climb over marathon distance it was one of the most challenging trails that you will come across. As I came up to marathon distance in 5:08 I was well within the cut off and quickly decided to keep going. When I eventually came in after just over 50K, I was 6th overall out of 150 starters. Mean time Collette finished her marathon and Kris managed a 36.8 mile distance for 2nd overall and first female home. The medal was special and in the shape of Pooh's head. One thing we noticed about today was that there was no water bottles on the aid station and we really struggled for sugaury drinks. We didnt make that mistake on day 2 and had a ready supply of coke and Mountain Dew.

Kris on the way to a double b2b win
We got back to the hotel and had a lovely surprise when Sean and Brenda turned up and after a bit of "not finding a restaurant" we ate in the hotel and had an early night. Mean time a storm moved in and it rained and rained and rained.

Double Ultra winner (Tigger)
The results of the rain were obvious the next day as the course had really muddied up and I was jealous of all of those with trail shoes as there was definite advantage today.  About half the field were back for a double with a lot of fresh legs around and big Tigger theme with lots more in customs compared to the day before. The rain was still falling as we started but was due to stop with in the hour which it duly did.

Collette after 52 miles
The running conditions were OK but the course was a lot more difficult and with road shoes I had to go very carefully especially on the steep downhill. I started a lot slower today and around laps 3 and 4 got very slow and struggled to get any pace going at all. Kris again had gone quickly into the distance and Collette does what Collette does. Finn was feeling a little better and started late and manged 3 laps. I think she would have finished marathon if she had started on time. I was too-ing and frow-ing a lot with Brian Mills today who was remarkably strong.  I was spot on 5 hrs when heading out on my 5th loop and Brian was just ahead of me. At the 2 mile mark he stepped aside and I was determined to try and get under 6hrs if I could. I decided to run all the hills in the final 3 miles and soon pulled away. I even managed to catch around 5 others on this loop and did a 57 min final lap nearly 16 minutes better than the previous 2 laps. This brought me in just under 6 hrs. I thought for 10 secs that I could go out again but decided against it and stuck at marathon. Kris mean time did 31.5 miles and came in 3rd over all and first lady again. Collette as normal finished her marathon on what has to be said was a tough tough tough course in difficult conditions and you will go a long way to find a tougher b2b.

Fancy cake
There were lots of 100 marathon celebrations this weekend and the most amazing cake for Crustie and Liz.

We headed off to the airport all tired and muddy and still in fancy dress and have booked up for next year already. I suspect it will sell out pretty soon.

Photos courtesy off: Philip rand and Paul Johnston

Strava Stats for the weekend

Winnie the Pooh


Tuesday 11 October 2016

Numbers game

#159  Its a numbers game day 1  4:17:31
#160  Its a numbers game day 2  4:50:40

The concept for this was simple. Pick a number that was significant to you and that is your race bib. Run a double marathon over 2 days and receive a personalised medal. The medal is one of the biggest in the world for a marathon and at 1.25Kg is the heaviest.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to run 52 miles for a 52 in 52 aged 52. I was lucky enough to get the number 52.

Enda getting 50th from Brenda
Both days were in Walton On Thames using both of Rik's courses. There was a reasonably modest field of 50 on both days with I'd say around 30 doing the double marathon. The weather was due to be perfect for running and it was mud free.

There was a reasonable Irish contingent running with Brenda, Enda
Day 1 start
and I all doing the double. Noel and the Twins (with Irish roots) also there for the double. There was also one Irish girl I didnt know running.

Day 1 started with Enda getting his MCI 50th medal. We were started on time on the 10K out and back route which ran to Hampton court on the tow path. Its a pretty straight forward route following the Thames with its many boats and particularly at this time of year rowers. The path itself was reasonably busy with bikes, prams, kids and dogs so you had to work around them.

I started off relatively modestly at just 4hr pace and came through the first of 4 laps in just under 1 hr. The aid station was as always a sweet shop with Freddo bars galore. There was everything a runner could need. You passed everyone 8 times in the run so you could judge how everyone was doing. One guy Lee was off like a bullet and would go onto beat 3hrs not only on day 1 but also on day 2 (very impressive). Most everyone else was taking it easy except Noel Kennan who blasted out a 3:40 to be followed by a 3:50 in day 2.
Photo: (Jeremy Fuber)

Medals from day 1
Lousie and Chris also started fast but Chris seemed to stop for a picnic at half way and Louise while well under her PB splits had a spectacular blow up at 20 miles.

I was through half way in just over 2 hrs and decided to ease off as it was a long weekend. The race itself was pretty uneventful as we clicked off the laps. As there was only 50 running it wasnt that busy in terms of runners and you got to spend a lot of time on your own. Costas, Enda and the rest of the gang likewise were taking it easy and there was a steady stream in around 4:30.

Fiona at the Aid station kept everyone amused with her cheering (if that is what it could be called).
Day 2 start

I eventually finished in 4;17 without busting a gut. Home it was for a quiet evening of cooking, kids and Narco's on netflix.

Day 2 was more of the same, except that this time we went the other way on the tow path, on the 5K out and back towards the Walton bridge. The rowers were back and it was even busier on the tow path. Naturally today was a lot slower. But since this was the same course that I did the 2 in one day, and finished in a disapointing 5:44 I was not complacent. I was in a lot better shape than the last time and started reasonably knocking off the 3.3 mile loops in 35 minutes for the first half marathon. 2:10 saw me through it.

Day 2 finish
Its a very straightforward route and the only thing that is annoying is a fecking bridge that you have to go over 16 times. I ran the first 10 times but walked the last 6. I slowed badly in the second half but was determined to get under 5hrs and ran a pretty good last 10K in 1hr 10 to come in 4:50. I was reasonably pleased with that. Most everyone else had reasonable runs  though nothing spectacular (except for the ones mentioned above).

The medal was truely spectacular.

Strava results for both days:

Monday 3 October 2016


#158 Monaghan  4:21:29

Great medals

This was the second time I have run this event. I did it last year as part of a b2b with Galway. Having run well in Galway 3:49, I was very slow in Monaghan and had very few memories of it.

Lesley had been promoting it all year together with a b2b and a half marathon it was sold out. I traveled up on the morning from Dublin which was an easy 1.5hrs (despite freaky fog en-route). Finding the Clones Rd we were directed to the KFC car park and it was an easy 400m to the club house/start area. A very efficient registration and great toilet facilities had us ready in great time.

The only question was what to wear. It was forecast nice (if not warm) but was absolutely freezing at the start. I chose just my Cru running vest and it was the wrong choice as I was freezing for long periods of the morning.

Everyone seemed to be there and we had a good catch up.

Race in Progress
The start line was around 700m from the finish and we walked down as the b2b, marathon and half were all

starting together.In bright but cold conditions we were off. The first 10K was a loop of the town before coming past the start and doing 4 x 5.25 loops of the beautiful if hilly Rossmore forest.

Steve mcGowan's shorts were special (and maybe the new secret to fast ultra running) and there seemed to be a rash of new boy pony tails which had me very perplexed.

I of course went off too fast and a 7:50 first mile had me thinking of a sub 4. Kris also went off fast and quickly pulled away. The loop of the town went quickly and Leslie even managed to put on a brass band in the town Sq and a Cheile band along one of the green ways. Quaint and nice at the same time.

Town center (photo: Ray Bruen)
A short out and back let everyone know where they were. Kris was well ahead and Finn was just following me followed closely by Donna and Ray. This was the only time we got a chance to say hello to everyone.

Photo (Neil McSorley)
5K was through in 26 mins but the top of my right calf got very tight. This has happened me before but I generally run it off. I blamed my Vanquish II Hoka's again. I seem to always have had problems with

these shoes.

We came past the finish area and headed up a long drag to the entrance to the forest. This was around 10K and I was through in 52 minutes. The calf problem seemed to have moved up my leg and was now bothering my hamstring and eventually hip. Finn came flying passed at this point. She was racing the first half and seeing what would happen and headed off into the distance.

The forest is absolutely beautiful and has some long tasty climbs as well as some beautiful flat running along side a couple of lakes (probably the same lake from 2 sides) and a lovely sweeping downhill. I managed to keep a decent pace going for the first loop but the leg just got worse and worse. I decided I would tough it out until half way and see what happens. I was through half way in 2:00 even and mid way into my second of 4 loops of the forest. At this stage I really had to reel it back as it was just too much.

Photo (Neil McSorley)
The Cheile band had relocated to the forest and some bag pipes appeared. It was all a bit surreal.

My 2nd and 3rd loops ended up being close on 1hr each which meant that 4hrs was not going to be even close. I also could not get warm and was freezing for most of the time. Given those around me were complaining of being warm and many deciding to run topless I must not have been well.

I ran with many I knew and a few of the faster ones even lapped me with the guys at the very front absolutely flying (2:44 was the winning time).

Things seemed to settle down for me in the last lap and I was able to get a decent pace back up and took nearly 10 minutes of the lap time and I even started to lap a few people as well. Surprise of the day was Ray Cassin who with 2 miles to go flew past on his own b2b. He would go on to record exactly the same time to the second as his day 1.  I managed to hang onto his coat tails and came in 4:21 and have to say it was a very uncomfortable run.

The afters were fantastic with some great soup and sandwiches and lots of cakes and a cup of tea. Yum!!!!

We chatted to a few afterwards and got back on the road to Dublin and was home and settled by 4pm. A great day.

Not many photos today and I will add them when published.

Strava Stats for the day  (GPS lost a little in the forest)