Monday 19 June 2017

Hants Hoppit

Hampshire Hoppit  6:34:14

You have to ignore this time because of the week that was in it and it was a really hilly trail event anyway.

This run was based out of Kingsclere in North Hampshire and was only 20 mins away from the house. The route itself took us on a one lap tour of North Hampshire, very close to village Overton that I used to live back in the early '90's.

There was a half and a full event put on by the Basingstoke running club. As it traversed the infamous Watership Down the theme was rabbits. The only rabbit I seen all day was in a big costume at the start finish line. Did I mention it was due to be 30 degrees, windless and very humid.

Tracey (From Tadley) 100 Mara
I arrived early and parked up. It was a 10 minute walk to registration which was simple and I left a bag of drinks off for later (I knew that it was  a waste of time with the heat but did it anyway). Sean & Brenda arrived and had Maighread and Paul in tow from Dublin.  There was much talk of times and what had to be a mistake on the program of it taking 150% of normal. I thought that was about right. There was a lot of 100 mc members there as we had Tracey doing her 100th and even Anna was there after her SDW100 triumph last year.

One of my first mistakes was wearing my Endure 24 T-Shirt as it was bright yellow and attracted millions of little black flies that absolutely covered me and to much amusement left everyone else alone.

At 10am we were off with a quick in and out of the forest and a trip around the car park before hitting the main hill for the day. It was vertical and described as barely walkable. The heat was also up so it was a slow start and the sweat was lashing off. After 30 mins I had just done over 2 miles. Naturally as I already had 130 miles in the legs from this week I was also completely knackered right out of the gate.

I was surprised at the hills on this course and though nothing as bad as the first they were relentless. There were lots of popup aid stations which were needed and I carried a 500ml bottle which was necessary. I was at the back of the pack all day.

Emma and Johnathon
Most of the course was off road on decent trails but there were some sections that were heavily rutted and difficult. I spent a lot of time on my own but did too and fro with Julia (who has lost a ton of weight) and Emine. I also chatted to Emma and Johnathon for a while who were dressed as rabbits. I ate a lot at the aid stations and drank everything I could get my hands on. I came through half way in 3hrs 15 and the pace didnt really pick up from there as the hills kept coming and coming.

There was supposed to be a cut-off at 16 miles but I was well under that.

I have little memory of the rest of the race as it all melded into one. I do however remember coming through 24 miles close to the Hannington TV mast and hearing and seeing the finish. Cruely as we ran down towards the melee we were directed back up towards the mast for quite a climb before coming back steeply on a tree routed unrunnable section back towards the start finish. I was delighted to get to the bottom and flatten out for the 800m run towards the finish. I was done.

Over the line we got a medal and engraved pint glass (with beer if you wanted) and a nice goodie bag.  There was also Cornetto's (50p and I had no money). Thankfully Gerry Fuber was there and got me it. Thanks Gerry.

Sean was in after an amazing 3:40 and age group winner and Maighread was just laughing at the difficulty. Eventually Brenda and Paul came in with Paul declaring that it was the most difficult thing that he had ever done.

I was really glad to get this one done and it is up there as one of the toughest.

Stats for today

Saturday 17 June 2017

Dorney Lake

Dorney lake  28.8 Miles 6:15:58

I was in the area and I signed up for this one. I knew it was only going to be 4 days after Endure 24 but I had never guessed that I would have done 100 miles the previous Sunday. Still it was a 6hr challenge and it was flat and I didn't care if I was slow.

Dorney Lake was the Olympic Rowing venue that is now attached to Eton college and the course was basically out and back's along the lake. It was a 2.62 mile course so 10 laps was a marathon.

The event was run by Running Miles who turned out to be Neil Skeltons' cousins and I talked to a couple of his cousins afterwards. Around 80 turned up for race and I knew quite a few. There was even a few from Endure 24. Richard was there, he had excelled in a team and Hannah who was a solo at Endure and had completed 12 laps (60 Miles) and would do 3 today.

Everything looked good with the organisation. There was plenty of toilets, the aid station was
awesome and there was sponges and loads of water. We headed off on time and I started slow around 5hr pace and was walking from early. The route was pretty non-descript. Wide tarmac flat roads along side a lake that you could see from time to time.  You turned just before the main rowing boat house and on the way back you got a glimpse of Windsor castle (the queen was home).

I plodded round, talked to Pam for a while and watched some of the fast ones speed by.  Craig Lovelock really has got fast recently and wasn't that far behind Steve Edwards. Lee was late again and was as usual blaming May. It got very hot and everyone was suffering. I came through half marathon in 2:35 and trudged on with a walk run strategy. I was well down the field. But since it was only a 2.62 mile loop it would have been remise not to try for one extra lap. At lap 7 Lousie Tidbury lapped me but decided to stay at my sedentary pace for the rest of her run. It was her 98th having come off a DNF at last Sunday's SDW100 and was suffering from an achilles problem and was protecting everything. She really is a lovely young girl with an exciting future ahead of her as she moves to Cumbria later in the summer. She helped the time pass quickly and she was done. I still had another lap to do and headed off. I was well under the cuttoff when I finished my marathon and headed out for one more lap.

I followed Nick Nicholson around as he continued his epic year and finished 28.8 miles in 6hrs 15.

The medal was unique in that you could move the base and front independently to reflect the miles you had completed and you also got a goodies bag with ice cold coke (YAY!). I probably should not have done this but it is done. Amazingly few went out for ultra today and I came 8th overall (which is a bit of a cheat).

I'll add more photos should they appear.

Stats for today

Endure 24

Endure 24   100 miles 25:32:17

This was an accidental 100 miler. My preparation was awful, in that since I fell in early April I have been really struggling with knee problems, and frustratingly it has only very very slowly been getting better. It has meant that I have not been able to run mid week and May was the least that I have run in years.

I was encouraged however that Tullaroan recovery had gone well and my knee seemed reasonable and I was confident at the very least of making the start line.

I traveled over with Kris who had been in brilliant form recently and was using this as a training run for her big 48 hr attempt in July. As this was to be held in Aldermaston in Berkshire, it was very convenient to my house in Basingstoke and a nights sleep was followed by a lie in and a trip to M&S and Asda for breakfast and supplies. For me today it was mini men, rice pudding, coke , fruit and Irn Bru.

We arrived at the venue at around 10am for the 12 noon start. I have to say I have never seen such facilities in a running venue, with a bar, massive village and as much camping as the eye can see (great toilets and showers). It really is setup for teams, families and supporters. As we were both running solo we had no tent, family nor supporters. We were also late and just about managed to squeeze into the solo parking area. I was amused about being given out by a duo team who had a massive tent and lots of family and supporters for us taking up one car space. Beside us was Chrisie and Ellie (supporting). Chrisie was on her second attempt having run 95 miles the first time in 2014. As it turns out I never saw her at all as we were on the same lap the whole time. I'm glad to report she came 4th lady home and managed her 100 miles.

The plan
We didn't know what to expect in terms of the course. We had heard rumours of hills but was not prepared at all for what was in front of us. Also as it turned out neither Kris or I needed a tent as we both stayed on the course for over 25 hours (you were allowed to finish your last lap that you were on at 24hrs). The weather was also forecast hot and it got into the mid to high 20's during the day and maybe 16 at night (no need to run with a coat).

Also close by was Jools ably assisted by his partner Kat. They had prime position and  knowing Jool's form recently that he would blast this race. We spent some time with them before the start.

Finish straight
At 12 noon we were off. There were around 3000 runners in total with most in teams of 2,3,4,5,6,7 or 8. It seemed that with solo's there was about 1000 on the course at any one time. It was very crowded at the start with lots of walking in the first 800m and even more when we got to the "Hill of no return". I walked this hill every time until the cattle grid at "The  church view crossing".  I then ran for about 400m before being forced to a walk again up to the first crest (tough start) at just over 1K. The next 1K was relatively flat though undulating on nice forest trail.  K's 2-3 was punctuated by what is known as "Little steep" which was a near vertical 200m section that took all the puff out of you. It did lead to a quite wide forest section that was gently up hill past "Far away forest" that ended at 4K at the VW van cocktail bar
 that was blasting music out all day (quiet at night). 4-5K was gently down hill past a lake and you eventually got to a very well equipped aid station. This was a prelude to "Heart Break Hill" that again was an unrunnable 900m hill that crested at the "Dark Damp Swamp". I was glad to see this every time. Then came a very technical part of the course as we went downhill through the "Fairy Forest" with lots and lots of trip hazards (it

was all lit up with fairy lights at night and even had real fairies at one stage). Coming out of the forest there was a short very steep downhill section before a more gentle 1K downhill section that wound its way back towards the start. Another twisty bit through a forest brought us back to the campsite which we ran around before coming across the start finish line at 8K. It was hilly. Just over the start finish line there was a tent with water and a drop off zone for refreshment.
VW Cocktail bar

I did out a plan,  but early on because of the hills I was way behind. But as the plan was for 22:30,  I always knew I had a little in store so never felt under too much pressure. Because of my knee I was always prepared to drop out at any time particularly when I went over marathon and Ultra distance.

Drink station
At marathon distance I took off one of my knee braces as it was restricting blood flow. That helped, and the single band did the job for the rest of the day. I was slow all day coming through marathon in 5hrs 15 and 50K in 6hrs 20. This was way down on normal. 50 miles was 11hrs 10 (way way down). I remember coming through 100K in 13 hrs 45 mins (a good 1hr 45 down on where I wanted to be).  But still I kept chugging on. I sorted out a blister on my big toe but didnt go near what was happening on my little toes. Gators worked well keeping out the stones and mud.

Start at night
At dusk I stopped to pick up a head torch and put on mosquito spray. I inadvertently got some on chaffed areas which hurt like hell and some on my lips which swelled up (that was scary). It turned dark around 10pm and the head lamps came on. I immediately noticed what I thought was millions of insects in the torch beam. It was in fact rain, that stayed with us all night and softened up the course somewhat (It was steady). As it wasnt cold I stayed in my Tshirt (Poor Kris was only in a vest). I had now settled into a 1hr 15 to 1hr 20 lap times and kept fairly consistent from here on in, though there seemed to be a lot of walking in the later stages. There were some familiar faces like Richard Boese and Noel Keenan who kept the spirits up and Jools and Kris lapped me every 4 or 5 hrs and they shouted encouragement.

Men's 100 mile club (YAY!)
At about 20 hrs in I knew I was going to finish and quite enjoyed the last few hours. Some of the faster teams were still spinning around but the field was visibly thinning as people just gave up (particularly the solo's). Generally there are only 15 people go 100 miles or more. This year 30 went over 100 miles.  Jools finished at 100 miles in 21 hrs for 6th spot over all. Kris however passed 100 miles and kept going and managed another 3 laps for 115 miles, 3rd overall and 1st lady. She also managed
the 2nd longest distance by a woman on the course since the event started.

I came through 19 laps in 23 hrs 40 and started my 20th lap. I have to say as time pressure was off I walked the last lap in a very sedentary 1hr 50. When I eventually came around they were dismantaling the course and the prize ceremony had started. I picked up my medal and watched Kris pick up her trophy and then we were both inaugurated into the Endure 24 100 mile club.

Well done Kris.....

It was back to Basingstoke for some sleep and a bath. PHEW!!!!

Video of the event (Click here)

Stats for today (because of forest cover GPS is a little short).

Tuesday 6 June 2017


Tullaroan 4:34:12

Early start
Very late in the day I decided to enter this event. My recovery had been going well and I was going up the walls with frustration, and this weekend alone I had missed out on Tullaroan (the main event), Derry and Cork.

Marathon Club Ireland had decided to put on this event as because Cork had been moved the Sunday it left a day free. Rather than use the long 13.1 loop a smaller 3.5mile loop was measured and it was easy to marshal and only one aid station was needed.

As usual the start was at Tullroan AC and it was brilliantly organised by the Guthrie family and Lindsey was the RD for the day.

25 turned up which included most of the big number marathon runners in the country including David Brady, Larry Rigney, Ger Fay and Jerry Forde. In fact I believe that the average was well over 100 marathons across the field.

Also there was Catherine Gutrie (cheering on) and Aidan Hogan both on the Irish 24hr team for the up and coming world championships.

The weather gods were with us and even though it threatened rain all day it stayed dry. The course itself was hilly with >1500ft of climb over the 7 laps.

The lap was very straight forward we started by running around the periphery of the GAA club and headed out to the roads. Straight out of the gate was a long steep up hill that climbed for the guts of a mile. Turning left was down down down for 1 mile as we passed the "angry" sheepdog and the house with the water bottles left outside. A left turn kept us going down until to we came across a small bridge and tree covered section (and from time to time another angry dog). A short drag brought us back up into Tullroan village. A left turn before Seanie's brought us back to the GAA club.

I found the route very interesting and enjoyable and I was on my own for the whole race. The hill up gave an enforced walk break and the rest was pretty much runnable. The aid station had everything and you passed the toilets every lap.

My knee felt OK today and I obviously have learned to strap it well. A steady 2:16 brought me through half way and 2:18 was a steady second half.

I'd say most of the field also had a double and treble marathon on this weekend and at the back there were a lot of tired legs but good fun.

After I finished there was a beer and showers and the main Tullaroan fantastic medal, if you wanted them. I didn't hang around too much and headed back to Dublin due to the bank holiday traffic. But that was the best value race in the country and counted for everything including UK marathon club, Road and Irish.

Funny of the day was because I got lost on the course last year, Vincent had painted "LEO turn left" in big red letters on the road for the main event. You a funny fecker Vincent.

Stats for today.