Friday 28 December 2018

Dawn to Dusk

Dawn to Dusk Ultra  7:18:00

I was really looking forward to this one for some reason. It was run by Sikhs in the City and was held on a 1.25 mile circuit in North East London. I don't know why but I was looking forward to it.

It did not disappoint as I had a super day.

I picked up Brenda and it was quite a drive (about 1hr 45) to get to the venue. We were there in plenty of time and could only find parking about 1km away from the start.

We brought all of our stuff with us and registered. It was the soft velcro around the ankle timing chips and once registered we hung around to the start. It was freezing.

There was a fairly big crowd and more would join throughout the day including a separate 10k race on the same circuit a couple of hours after us. It was a min of 50K for an ultra finish today. That was 25 laps. It was also significant elevation at 1600ft for the 50K. Special today was Martin Bush who had just completed his 1000th marathon.

107 years old
Leaving the start finish area about 200m of flat brought us to the start of "the" hill.  I had decided early that I was going to walk all the hills. This hill went up for around 800m to the 1km or half way mark. Parts of it were steep and it was fairly twisty but some people decided to try and run it all day.  I was not one of those. It was through a predominantly residential area and the path was footpath or road. At the 1km mark there was another timing mat to stop people cutting corners.

After the half way mark after about 200m of flat we turned left and it was a gentle downhill all the way back to the start area where our times and lap count was taken again. It was a very straight forward quite boring course but it was very urban.

At the 2km mark at the timing mat, there was a massive TV that immediately showed your name and how many laps you had done. I have to say it was one of the best timing setups I have come across.

The aid station was at this point and it had everything you would need and all day there was Indian food being prepared and doled out. It really was great and it was a great atmosphere. There was also no pressure on time as we had from 8:03 in the morning to be on our last lap by 3:53pm which was approx 8 hrs.

I didnt see Brenda all day until the 47K mark when she caught me up.  I was glad she had gone out and did ultra rather than stand around and get cold. She managed to take 7 minutes out of me in the last 3K (speedy!!!).

I came through marathon in around 5:50 and an extra 4 laps saw me in for 50K in 7:18:00.

It was not a very taxing day and I really loved it. A long sleeved top, a nice medal and a full Indian take away including curry, Nan bread, bhagi's and Somas as well as a small goodie bag were icing on the cake.

We also had the pleasure of the oldest marathon runner in the world make an appearance at 107 years old. He holds the word record for 100+ which he did in 2011. Amazing really.

Stats for today.

Winter Connemarathon

Winter Connemarathon   6:06:40

Given that I have done a 3:42 on this course in the past it shows the depth of the slump I am in when I was only eyeing up 6hrs today.

But it was a big day for me as this would be my 100th ROI marathon and together with my 116 in England meant that I would join a very exclusive band of runners by running 100 marathons in multiple countries.

In fact the calibre of the incumbents reaching this milestone is that they have done on average 1000 (one thousand) marathons each.

Today's event was on the classic Connemarathon course. A course that was the scene of my first ROI half marathon back in 2004 and this would be my 15th time over the course. It was being run by MCI with Ray O'Connor as the RD. Back in his rightful lace if you ask me. timing was by team Gutherie.

A bus picked us up from the Galway Bay hotel in Salthill and brought us to Connemara. We picked up some more of the gang at Peacocks and we were deposited at the start line. It was chilly but for Connemara real nice.

After a very emotional race brief by Ray and Vincent we were off. There was a full bus load running today.

Video of the start and speeches

The weather was as good as I have seen in Connemara and the first 6 miles were the nice flat bit along lough Inagh. I wasn't really feeling it and quickly hooked up with Isabella from GCH and a Scottish lady (I've totally forgotten her name) from Mayo. We walked and ran our way chatting up hill and down dale making good progress to Linnane. It was very enjoyable if slow.

At Linnane, Collette and Eimear caught us up but stopped off for coffee and we were back to our little gang again. The weather was still great. At mile 19 Colette and Eimear came past again and I fell off the back. I was really struggling. David Brady soon caught me and headed off into the distance.

It seemed a long day as I covered the familiar route through Maam and hit the hell of the west. I was walking at this stage but knew I was going to finish in and around 6hrs. In fact at the top of the hill looking back I could see Humphrey catching me and this gave me a spurt and I ran most of the last 2 miles to finish.

I was glad to get there and got my medal and a chat with Ray, Catherine and Vincent before heading to Peacocks for a sandwich and soup (Humphrey was a brilliant negotiator to get us a chicken sandwich).  The bus left us back to the hotel in Salthill.
A quick return home for a bath and it was back to Salthill for the MCI Christmas dinner. A lovely
evening was had.
100 marathon in Multiple countries

Irony was that one of my best ultra runs was on this course in terrible conditions and was pretty much in the same time as my marathon run today and that was 39.3 miles.The  New year will be different

There were very few photos from today.

Stats for today

Winter is coming

Winter is Coming Ultra   6:41:24

This was a Saturn  Running event that was in Runnymead just under the M25 along the banks of Thames. I had run this route before but then it was roasting today it was gloves and coat weather but still pretty good conditions.

I also liked this course as it easily could be broken down into manageable chunks.

I picked up Brenda enroute and got there early. This one is fairly convenient and we got there in no time despite taking a wrong turn just off the motorway. Parking is still steep at £6 for the day but Saturn do give a £3 refund. facilities are great with a couple of toilets at the car park and at registration.

Registration was easy and quickly we were all at the start line ready to go. I was determined to go ultra today which would be my 84th ultra. After a quick briefing we were off at 8:30 for the early start. I knew the route well and a couple of locks, the hotel a few forest sections and the motorway as well as a couple of bridges all in 1.6 miles broke up the race.

I went off steady but not too fast and ran the first couple of laps with Olga (aka Rat girl) who while based at Oxford was finishing her PHD in statistics. You never really know who you meet at these events. I stayed in and around Olga all day as she went on to finish her own 50k run.  She has done a lot this year.

Outside of that I was pretty much on my own. I came through half marathon in a slow 2:38 and did quite a bit of walking in the second half. I was never really in too much trouble today and kept plodding it out. Most people today stopped at Marathon as usual but a few did go on to do an extra lap or finish with a 50K.

I came through marathon in 5:40 and immediately decided to go back out again. Brenda was behind me so there would not be too much waiting around.

When through lap no 9 I stopped though I did have time to go out for the 50K I declined it.

A lovely "game of thrones" medal and a goodie bag were received as well as one of the sausage rolls and we were off home.

Photos: Saturn running

Stats for today

Monday 24 December 2018


Remembrance marathon


This was one the Phoenix running flag ship events in Walton upon Thames. It was by far the biggest event that Phoenix had put on and nearly 400 of us took to the marathon course over the 10.5km loop in Walton.

To make things a little special this was also the 100th anniversary of armistice day. As is normal now on these events the medal is kept secret and only unveiled during the race.

We were lucky with the weather and though the course was puddly underfoot the bad weather stayed away. Never the less it made for a very muddy affair with lots of puddle jumping.

Also there was Maighread and Brenda and also travelling over was Philip and Francis though we all ran our own race there was lots of passing and we all kept in touch.

I found this race tough going and didn't really enjoy it. To make things worse about 1/4 way through the second lap I lost my footing at a very slippy bit and did a full slow motion fall right into a puddle. I ended up prone right in it and soaked and muddy right up to and including my face. I wasn't the only one who fell as I saw Mel having a muddy time as well.

I was lucky though as I managed as I was falling to roll and did not land heavily on my knee. That would have been a disaster. Being only a marathon there were lots of traffic all day with some of the fasties finishing just over 3 hours.

My times at the moment are not good and a 2:45 first half was followed with an even slower second half.  I really did not enjoy this run.

I did however have the pleasure of running the last 5K with Julie Twinny and we had a good chat. It clicked over 6 hrs before we finished.

The medal was as always spectacular and we even got a second for free as it was Phoenix's 100th event and Rik had crafted a special medal for that. In addition Rik had 2 x florescent phoenix wings for me as I had finished a 52 in 51 and 100 in 100 at his events.

As soon as I had finished I left Maighread to the train station. She was attempting to get to Gatwick. Brenda was there waiting when I returned and we said our goodbyes and left.

The journey continued when flying back to Ireland the next week, security took the medal off me as a dangerous weapon and after some negotiation it ended up flying in the cockpit with the captain and given back to me when we landed in Dublin.

Photos: Ian Pullen

Stats for the day..

Monday 10 December 2018


Ballinasloe  or Ballinaslow

This was my second time doing this event. Last year it was the penultimate event before my 10 in 10 attempt and I was happy to get around in 4hrs 30. I wouldn't get close to that today.

During the week I had been diagnosed with Metatarsalgia which is the cause of the the pain that I have been feeling in the ball of my foot. I explains why I can't run during the week and am in constant pain when running.

It was an MCI event and great value at €20

The HQ was the rugby club outside Ballinasloe and we had use of the bar area, toilets and hot showers afterwards.

This year there was only one start and the course would be run in reverse. There also was a half marathon and 10K scheduled later in the morning. Aidan Sheridan and family were the hosts for today.

I have to say that running in reverse was much better and much safer than last year.

We headed off at 8:30 on the dot with around 50 in the race. It quickly settled down. We turned left towards Ballinasloe and climbed for around 800m before a 1K gentle downhill to the motorway roundabout. Skirting past the roundabout we traversed a footbridge over the motorway before heading down a very well heeled road parallel to the motorway. About 1K later we climbed steeply on a cross road over the motorway which immediately brought us onto the long straight bog road. 1.6 miles of nothing later we turned at a cone and still on the bog road headed for home over some fairly rural Galway back roads.  There was some long drags but nothing too severe. Turning right onto the main road again we faced the traffic for 1 mile until it brought us back to the rugby club. The loop was 6.5 miles.

I was through 1 lap in 1hr 8 mins and headed out for lap 2. Apart from one shower it was dry and cold and pretty good running conditions. I dreaded the long big road section everytime we came to it.

Lap 2 was 1hr 18, Lap 3 was 1hr 28 and I put a real effort in for lap 4 for 1hr 18.   So half way was 2hrs 26 and full marathon was 5hrs 23 just faster than I finished Chicago.

All in all I ran well but my foot was agony.

In to the clubhouse afterwards there was a great spread of sandwiches, cake and tea/coffee. Great value for €20.

Today was officially a road marathon and my 96th one of those and my 99th ROI marathon.

Photos: Kasia Skowron

Stats for today