Monday 10 April 2017

Rachels Ramble

Rachels Ranscombe Ramble  30.5 miles 7:36:38

9th out of 60 finishers
After the extremity of last weekend on the track this was never going to be easy. But it was an 8hr challenge and you can do anything in 8hrs, right??

This was on a new route around Ranscombe for me and was allegedly the hilly route and was predominantly the regular routes in reverse with a few addons. The forecast was hot hot hot and there was no mud. Being spring there was also a chance of seeing a wild flower or 2.

First climb
Because it was a b2b with the Ranscombe Spring challenge the day before and also Brighton, SD50 and Paris were on this weekend it was a reasonably modest field at 60 and a lot of the usual's were missing. Still there was Philip though with his dodgy ankle didn't go far today. Gerg and Janet were there out flying the flag. Nick Nicholson was there on his quest and he tells me that Guinness only recognise Ultras of 50K or more which means a lot of what he has done to now has been wasted miles. He would be the only person to go beyond 50K today. I didn't see her at all, but I did hear Fiona there. Checking the results she wasn't too far behind me all day. Also there was Gary Wayman extending his SVN ultra record (27 miles+). Last but not least there was Enda Cleary who the day before had run his 100th marathon and was the newest Irish guy with that honor.
View and very steep hill

It was an 8am start and pretty much everyone was there early except Leon who took a wrong turn and ended up in Ashford and arrived with seconds to spare. It was hot from the get go starting at around 10 degrees and rising rapidly to mid 20's by late morning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and it would have been a lovely day if you weren't running. From time to time there was a slight breeze.

Ploughed field
The loop itself was 4.37 miles long which is a great distance for a loop as you can break it up into very manageable sections. After 100m of steep tarmac downhill we turned left into a forest section that was undulating and full of trip hazards (more of that later), after about 800m you exited the trees beside the railway line and for the next mile gently climbed by the railway line, relentlessly up. At the 2nd bridge we turned left again and faced the fist significant climb of the day. This was close to a mile long with most people walking at least half of it (This was still on the reverse of the old course). Cresting we turned a sharp left down a fire road that was very steep and short downhill. Coming through a kissing gate we entered the ploughed field section that had a nice sweeping downhill followed by a steep climb out of the field through a kissing gate hugging the hedge up up up to the top of the field.
Fire Road

Beside Railway line
Following the edge of the field all the way round was a steep downhill section that brought us around to the second steep climb of the day. It was only 0.15 miles long but was nearly hands and knees stuff until you crested at the "He loved this view" seat for splendid panoramic views of North Kent. Turning right through a kissing gate and back on the old course in reverse a mile downhill eventually led to the main open field which was traversed to the Gas station (it stank of gas). Through another kissing gate and another steep up hill brought us to the last up hill section close to the aid station and we were done.

Due to the heat and the hills things were slow with only one sub 4 marathon from Martin Devine and even Lee Rogers coming in at marathon in 4:40 (wow!).

Steep down after fire road
He loved this view
My own race was over after 800m, as when up at the front of the pack I hit a stump or log or root or something and had the most spectacular face plant. In slow motion I went down knowing it was a lottery if I could get back up. First my hands hit and I felt the gravel embed in my palms. My forearm hit a stump and is bruised and sore. Next my right knee took my full body weight and on the hard mud surface was lucky it didn't twist. Finally my shoulder hit and felt like I had just let off both barrels of a shotgun. I immediately got up and feigned Okness. Lots of people stopped to help but I said I was Ok and they headed on. I was far from Ok and it took a few minutes to gather myself. My choices were to go back to the start and go home, do one lap and pick up a medal and go home or something else. I decided to hobble on and see what happens. It took a couple of miles of hobbling before I was even able to get a jog going but even at this it was hurting. I was more than likely last at this point. I finally made it to the aid station after an hour and again feigned OKness when questioned and decided to go on. The minimum from here was a marathon or it was a waste of time.
Enda the new 100er

Jimi Hendrick tells me that the log or root or stump has become known as "Leo's log" and people are warned off it ahead of time.

The next few laps were painful as I felt my knee every step of the way. In fact it was only when I got to 20 miles was the first time I didnt feel it. Half marathon was 3hrs odd. Now to say the trail was easy is wrong as each mile had about 150ft climb which is in the upper end of very hilly. Still I was way down on normal.  Never the less very few people were lapping me and it was only as I was coming up to lap 6 that Gary Wayman came past with about 1 mile to go for his 7th lap. I tried my best to keep with him and as we approached the aid station I just about unlapped myself and found myself out on lap 7. For a few laps I was having a too and fro with Emily Holland and she duly came past me in the middle of lap 7 to take the honors.  Most stopped early today and only Nick went out for 8 laps and I ended up in 9th place. It took 7 1/2 hours and it was roasting and it hurt like hell.  I'll be glad of the couple of weeks rest now.


Photos courtesy of Gary Groutage

Strava Stats for today

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Crawley 24

Crawley 24hr Track event 23:17:40

I really have no idea why I did this event as I have done a track marathon once before that really did not go well and I did not enjoy it. It's not how they are organised, that is usually fine, its just the monotony and lack of atmosphere at the whole thing.

Irish corner
What tipped me was that Brenda, Sean and Kris had all committed to do it, so I did as well.

This particular event was in the K2 stadium in Crawley. This was a reasonably modern, fully equipped leisure center with integrated track and grandstand and all the facilities you would expect. The event itself consisted of a 24hr event which Kris and I were in, a 12 hour event that Brenda was doing and a 6hr event that Sean had entered. This was Sean and Brenda's second Crawley.

We set up our stall in the far corner of the stadium in what became known as the Irish corner which was a misnomer as Kris was from Australia and Sean from South Africa as well as Vanessa from England all sharing the facilities very kindly provided by Sean and Brenda. Seans children Sinead and Conor were there with Sinead in particular doing a good job all day crewing.
Start of 6hr and 24hr race

Serious tactics
The schedule for the day was the 24hr and 6hr races which would start together at noon on the Saturday and the 12 hr race would run over night along side the 24hr race starting at 8pm. 30 took part in the 24 hr race, 17 in the 12 hr race and 15 in the 6 hr race.

This meant for a busy but not too busy field. There were also all sorts and standards there, including some members of the elite GB ultra team who were preparing for the World 24 championships in Belfast in July. The amazing Ann Bath was also there who at over 65 years old is a shoe-in for the masters world title in Belfast and duly did well over 100 miles in this event. There were also a multitude of odd ball runners who I didnt know and came with an assortment of crew and amusing race tactics.

Kris and I were there representing our club Crusaders and had spent the morning shopping for empty calories and and settled on a melange of Coke, Rice pudding, more Coke, Iron Bru and Mountain Dew. Salt tablets still remain a topic of debate.

After a race briefing where we were told to give track priority to faster runners and if wearing head phones to use lane 2. This eventually had a very significant affect in that my own race was 6 miles further on my Garmin than the official distance which could be accounted for by running the whole race in lanes 2 and 3

There weere some celeb Ultra runners including Dan Lawson of Team GB, William Sichel, a multi-record holder and the first Brit to finish the world’s longest foot race within 52 days (3100 mile self transcendence race around 2 blocks in Queens New York), and Abichal Sherrington who has completed that same race 6 times among dozens of others from marathon to 1000 miles..  Here all of them talk in the podcast at the end of this blog.

Lane 2 
At 12 noon we were off and the elites started spinning around in 6-7 minute miles. As the 6 hr event was on at the same time, their leaders also went off at frenetic pace. This included our Sean who was 2 miles in the lead after 3 hrs but faded slightly and ended up coming 4th overall. Also running great in the 6hr event was Ireland's own Nuala Smyth who won first lady. There was a very tight race for the top 2 spots in particular. Also going out at suicide pace was Georgina who was well under 4hr marathon pace for the first few hours. She slowed but held it together to complete 100 miles in 22.5 hrs and 3rd female over all.

We changed direction after every 4 hrs. The most exciting thing that happened was Kris nearly loosing her Ipod down the toilet. It was a long day. The weather became quite warm through the afternoon and most were running in T-Shirts and vests well into the night. Night came at 19:30 and the 12 hr race started at 20:00 under floodlights.

My own race started steady with the first marathon distance being around 4hrs 30mins . In fact I was fine until I hit 50k when as normal I went through a tough patch. I dropped down the field at this stage and was languishing in 18th spot over all. Kris also started strong tracking me through the first 6 hrs generally on the same lap. I shook of the bad patch and picked things up and by 100K was in 9th spot which I managed to keep to the end. My 50 mile times was 9hrs 30 mins and 100K was 12hrs 10 mins.

Cru on tour
There were some really fast guys in the 12 hr race who were pushing each other and they hogged the inside lanes. After midnight, under clear skies it started to get very cold and at one stage absolutely freezing with a heavy dew soaking all of us and an hour of very freaky hanging mist. Eventually everyone (including Georgina) put coats on. I ran really well throughout the night knocking off the miles keeping well above my 4 mile an hour goal and getting closer and closer to the 100 mile target. Kris on the other hand after 50 miles started to have some tummy and sleep issues and took a nap and had to visit the first aid tent a few times. This cost her a lot of time off the track and her 100 mile goal disappeared with it. Meanwhile Brenda had a brilliant 12 hr event going well over 50 miles and 2nd lady home.

There was not really a lot else happened. Pam and Gill brought out food
Timimng System (automated and manual)
on a regular basis but I turned it all down which was probably wise as I ended up with no nutrition issues despite hardly eating anything. The 12hr race finished at 8am and the track became quiet as quite a few of the 24hr people had finished already and the last 4 hrs became a death march for most. By my watch I passed 100 miles at 21:18:41 which would have been a huge PB (by well over an hour) but my official distance was much less but I was still comfortably under the 24hrs official despite walking the last 6 miles and barely making 3miles an hour.

Eventually I came in for 100 miles 23:12 and had to finish one more lap to get it recorded, which bought the finish time to 23:17. I immediately decided to stop as my goal had been reached. Most of the others decided to walk on gathering a few extra miles. I lost a few places in the overall standings because of this but that was a decision. Kris was back on the track at this stage and one of the few still running and eventually registered 82 miles for her efforts.

Showers, Buffet, prize giving and massage was all on offer afterwards. We packed up and left for a flight to Dublin.

Photos courtesy of Sean Smith & John Lavis

Nice outside broadcast from the event click here

More images from John Click Here

Strava Stats for today