Saturday 14 May 2016

Top G'Run

#135 Top G'Run  4:08:50

Some of the pilots
Great medal
This was part of the movies series of Phoenix Running and was based on the movie Top Gun. I suspect that the medal was the thing that got most people signed up as it was pretty cool. It had sold out very quickly and 104 started on this 6 hour challenge.

Todays run was on the 'B' route for Phoenix running that went towards Walton Bridge from The Weir Pub on a 3.35 mile out and back. It was basically 1.6 odd mile straight up the tow path turn around and come straight back. You passed a rowing club, a pub and a small but steep enough bridge on the route each way. There was a toilet block and ice cream van at the far end.

8 laps was a marathon and you only had to complete 1 lap to finish.

Now the weather had been pretty bad during the week before and it muddied up the soil based parts of the course and had left puddles on most of the rest. In fact the night before there had been some trees blown over but these were dealt with before we arrived. They were navigable with a few jumps and side steps and were awkward all day.
Downed trees

Finn O'Mara over visiting her daughter at a local university was also signed up and knowing her phobia or bridges I wasn't sure at all that she would handle the route. It turns out she was fine.

The weather on the day was absolutely stunning. I reckon it got quickly upto 24/25 degrees with some estimating it 27. It was hot.

It also being a themed event there were quite a few turned up in fancy dress. I recognized a few from Basingstoke that had turned up. It was very hot for fancy dress but amazingly the person first over in marathon distance was in a full fling jump suit.

The aid stations were as always stunning and wanted for nothing.

At 9:25 we were given a rousing (Top Gun Themed) race briefing by Rik Vercoe and by 9:30 we were off. i started at the back and took quite a while to find my place in the race. This led to a very slow first couple of miles.

Aid station
On the out leg the wind was stiff enough in you back but as the heat rose this got tough and very warm. When you turned it was in the face and was cooling but stiff enough in your face. All in all it was a very very warm, humid and tough day. To add to this a lot of people went off like hares. Paul, and particularly Nick went off fast. I am normally well ahead of both but today I was way way behind.

To add to my woes, the front of my right lower leg got very sore and tight in the first 10K. Fearing injury I dialed it all back a bit and hoped it wasn't serious. This led to a very slow first 2 laps in over an hour (Way off 4 hour pace). After 10k the leg seamed to ease and I managed to get a pace going again and managed half marathon in just under 2 hrs.

Race Briefing 
The heat was having its toll and a lot of those who started fast faded and I caught most of them. More than half the field also stopped before marathon distance which meant that from a busy course early it became very quiet in the later stages.

The heat also got to me and I started to take on a lot of water. Everyone else was suffering badly as well. The guy who was way way way out in front bizarrely stopped after 7 laps not completing marathon and the winner was in after 3:43 which shows how difficult he conditions were.

I came through 6 laps in 3 hrs exactly and knew then that 4 hrs was gone and eased up a little and eased home in 4;08;50. This was good enough for 17th overall and 15th at marathon distance.

Finn had a strong run in 4:21 which was good enough for 2nd lady overall and 1st at marathon distance.

The medals were pretty cool and it was lovely to spend an hour after a shower in the leisure center at the pub for some dinner. Lovely day.

Pictures Nick Onslo and Philip Rand

Nice album from today  HERE

Nice bling

Strava Stats

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Milton Keynes

#134 Milton Keynes  3:54:20

In retrospect I shouldn't have done this one as it was just too much travel for a run. I started the bank holiday weekend in Galway at the Theater festival. I managed to get to no less than 5 shows on Saturday for about the price of one show in Dublin. There was some very innovative stuff on offer. The weather was great and it also involved many trips to coffee shops and pubs.

On Sunday afternoon it was back to Dublin to pack and catch an 20:00 flight to Southampton. I didn't get to Basingstoke to close to 23:00 and it was soon off to bed. I was up at 6:00 to get ready and breakfasted and it was on the road to Milton Keynes. 1.5 hrs and little traffic and I was there by 8:30. I was lucky enough to have won a free entry into the race with the 100 marathon club UK and splashed out £7 on VIP parking at the MK Dons stadium which was the start and finish of the race. This allowed me to park within 200m of the stadium. The stadium was open for late registration but I already had got my number posted out. Queues for the toilets were very long so a trip to McD's across the road sorted that.

The weather was to be very windy (30mph) and getting quite warm (18 degrees). When the wind was behind you it got very warm and when in your face it was in your face so a tough enough day. I knew relatively few people at the race as my normal crowd were down in Kent.

It was a big race with 3000-4000 odd running in a marathon half marathon and a relay. It was busy but a lot more comfortable than London. About 10 minutes late we were off together with the half marathon and relay. The half would peel off at around 7 miles and return to the stadium. The relay wasn't an issue and was well marshaled.

The first few miles twisted in and around industrial estates and roundabouts and main roads around Milton Keynes. It was fast and the first 5K was 25 minutes exactly and the 10K was 51 minutes. This was ahead of London but I knew I was putting in way too much effort to sustain this. Soon after we went off the main road and most of the rest of the race was in a multitude of parks on their main trails. It was quiet and picturesque through reasonably narrow. There were lots of bridges and lakes to pass the time. The route was marked every mile and there were lots of regular aid stations.

Every now and then you would see a sign "look left for windmill" or "look right for concrete cows" which was interesting and thankfully we stayed away from roundabouts and the town center. However I found the route very samey and am sure we passed by the same spot several times when I know we didn't.

It was very blustery and I came through half way in 1:48 , a minute down than London but should easily make 4 hrs from here. My pace slowed quite dramatically in the second half as it became a little hillier and the temperature had started to rise and the last couple of months caught up with me. Thankfully there were lots of well stocked aid stations and I took on a lot of water and Gatorade as well as supplied high 5 gels. There was also lots of sweets en-route. I wasn't the only one suffering as around me you could see a lot fading and walking from early. I only had brief walks at the aid stations and ran the rest.

I came through 20 miles in 2:49 which normally means an hour left (or better) but I couldn't manage that. At mile 25 the stadium came into view and once we had circumvented it we entered and did 3/4 of a lap until the finish. It was a good finish. I crossed the line 3:54:20. This event has been voted in the UK's top 10 but I am not really sure why. It wasn't that picturesque but was functionally OK.

Then the real marathon started as I had 4 hrs to get to the car, exit the stadium (took 30 mins), drive to Basingstoke (luckily traffic was moving all the way took 1hr 40), shower, pack and hump to the train station to get to Southampton airport. I made it with 20 mins to spare and straight back to Dublin for work on Tuesday. It was just too tight to be comfortable.

It was a super medal and a great T-Shirt of a cow in Sun Glasses.

Strava stats for today