Friday, 30 December 2016

Frozen Phoenix

#172 Frozen Phoenix Walton-Upon-Thames

Former world record holder Rik
This was really a bonus run as I really only got the opportunity to run at the last minute. I got in very late the night before, not getting into Basingstoke until 11:00pm. The Frozen Phoenix was an event put on by Phoenix Running in Walton-Upon-Thames and a route that  I was very familiar with. Today we were on the short course which is a just over 5K out and back. 8 laps make a marathon and 9 an Ultra. I had only one thing in mind today.

I also needed 30 miles to make it 3000 miles for the year total.

Well stocked aid station
Rik from Phoenix had decided on a relatively late start of 9:30 and the Frozen Phoenix lived up to its title with the temp in the car being -4. I decided on a base layer, T-Shirt and bravely shorts. Leaving Basingstoke at 8:20 I got to Walton by 9 and checked in early in the leisure center.

A big enough crowd was there and the BBC were there to film Ryan Holmes as he finishes his world record attempt to be the youngest person to complete 100 marathons at 21 years old. Also there was Nick Nicholson who was closing in on his own record 200 marathons in 2016.

A quick briefing and we were off to the start. Immediately we started and I decided today to take it easy as Portumna had been a fair effort. Settling in at 9-10 mins/mile pace,  I stayed at this pace most of the day. It was cold, very cold, but bright in the sunshine and there was an eerie early mist that was coming off the Thames.

Opening Phoenix medal
Fully open 
This course can easily be broken into a number of sections. You start on a muddy trail that winds its way beside the river. This opens up to some yacht clubs and river fronted parks and houses as you still follow the river to the  pub.  Past the pub you continue on the tow path until you come to a small but steep bridge. Today this became treacherous as the thaw set it and as most people struggled getting up and down I didn't seem to have a problem. Later in the race a elderly couple fell and there was a lot of commotion helping them. After the bridge a small muddy section opens up under Walton's main bridge and you pass a coffee shop, toilets and many geese and swans to the turn around point. You then retrace your steps.

Being such a short out and back you pass everyone often and its very friendly.

Taking it steady but slow I came through 4 laps in 2:15 which was Ok and kept it going. Stopping to chat to a few like Elaine who was completing a European beating record 120+ marathons in 2016 and a few others to wile away the hours.

Laps  6,7,8 were relatively straight forward but still cold and when I came to marathon distance in circa 4:40 I was always going out for one more which was duly completed in just over 5 hours 20 mins. Few went out for the Ultra and I came third of those that did which also gave me third overall.

That brings my total to the year of 53 marathons or longer and 26 of those were Ultras. I doubt if anyone in Ireland has completed more ultras in a calendar year, but no such record is recorded (for now anyway).

Stats for the day

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