Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Runner Bean

The Runner Bean 5:53:07     4th out of 121 finishers.


This was a new course and I would arguably say a new county but those who know say it was Essex and not Hertfordshire.

It was about 1hr 30 away and I picked up Brenda on the way. Near Luton airport we arrived about an hour early at the Woosh Canoe club allegedly in Essex. A quick registration and we hid in the car until close to off.

At the race briefing I got presented with my 10-in-10 Global marathon Challenges Medal which was nice. At the rather late time of 9:30am we were off. The challenge today was to run as many 3.28 Mile loops along the banks of the river Stort as you could in 6 hours.

The first 3/4 mile was along the bank on good trails. It was flat and the path wound close to  the river. In the early stages it was quite congested with no more that 2 a breast but after we reached the end of the path the field was pretty spread out. Climbing slightly from the path we crossed over the river by a bridge and passed in front of the Beefeater and Premier Inn. Tunning right onto the other river back we climbed slightly on a grassy path before hitting quite significant mud. The muddy path (very muddy at times) wound its way along the riverbank for about 1.5 miles (passing the start finish line opposite). Another steepish bridge brougt us back to the dry bank. Turning right onto the path we found our way back to the start finish area and picked up a hair band to count a lap.

It was 8 laps for a marathon and 9 for a small ultra. I picked off the laps in around 35-40 minutes in an easy paced race. They say never try new things in a race. I made a mistake and used brand new calf guards. Half way through lap 1 I felt I had no blood going to my right calf and it was very painful by the time that I got to the end of the lap. I stopped and removed the calf guard and also my knee brace. Things immediately calmed down and I proceeded.

I ran most of the day on my own today spending a little time with Theresa and Haley near the end.

In a pedestrian race I came through half way in 2:24 and finished the marathon in 5:08. I went out for one extra lap to finish Ultra 66 in 5:53.

It was a really lovely course that will be a lot faster when the mud subsides. But one of my favourite Phoenix courses.

Photos courtesy of Brenda and Philip Rand

Stats for today

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


#227 Fowlmead Challenge Bettsanger Park, Nr Deal, Kent

I was back again to try and tame my Bete Noire of a course where I had been timed out of an attempt to do a 10 in 10 ultra. It was to be the exactly the same 4.37 loop. The only major issue for today was that it had rained for 2 days solid which meant it was going to be a mud fest.

The usual gang had turned up for the 9:30 am start. Registration was in the cafe where we huddled before going out into the zero degree temp for a race briefing and the short walk to the start.

About 120 toed the line. We were off with a run across the grass for 100m before traversing some clag and we were soon on the normal Fowlmead loop. Immediately we hit the massive puddle on the first corner that was too deep to go through so everyone gingerly went around it with jags and branches hitting you everywhere. Some smart ones found a way around the back of the bush that avoided this puddle. Soon the feet were soaked.

Its safe to say the rest of the course was for the first few laps avoiding the big puddles and using the grass as much as possible. Even this got very squelchy and muddy and un-runnable.  Once the rain started (and it never stopped) even that became impossible and it was a slosh fest of going through the puddles or trying to avoid them. I wore a coat the whole time but ditched the hat and the gloves after lap 1. The coat was needed as it stopped the core getting cold.

I made steady but unspectacular progress coming through half way in 2hrs 25 before slowing in the second half, having to stop at the aid station every time to bring on fluids and calories.  I was pretty much on my own all day and well under the cut off.

There was absolutely no chance of me not going ultra today and the poor marshals and clippers who were drowned just shook their heads as I turned for a final lap at 5 hrs 20. After the ultra lap I also did the out and back for 50K distance and was very very glad to get off the course and into dry clothes for the 2 hr drive back.

That was the last event of the year which was 55 marathons (of which 27 were ultra). That will never happen again.

Stats for today

Monday, 1 January 2018


#226 Portumna Forest Marathon

This was the annual post Christmas run around Portumna Forest Park. As usual it was hosted by MCI and on the small loop around the forest. This meant it was 16 laps for a marathon generally on good trails. RD Ray O'Connor just back from Peru ran today.

I traveled up and down on the same day and decided to go for the early start which meant a 5:30am start to get to Galway in time. Similar to last year the 8am start was optimistic as it was delayed by 30 minutes to allow dawn to come. This led to some interesting toilet antics with torches pre-dawn as there was no lights.

The highlight of the day was presenting Theresa Grimes with her 52 in 52 cert and medal from Global Marathon challenges.

A big crowd went off at 8:30 and we started the loop. Starting downhill in the forest it followed the traditional route for around 1K. Then it turned right towards the lake (slightly different) and after a small incline came back on the normal 5K loop. A gentle uphill section opened up on good trail. Rather than goto the marina we turned left back to the start finish area. Electronic timing kept score of the laps and there was a small aid station setup.

I wasn't fully feeling it today and plodded around. I was also breaking in a new set of Hoka's and after about 6 laps I had to take an elongated break to change them back to Asics for the remainder. I guess I have some more work to do on these. Pleasantly Sarah and her dog just happened to be walking in the park and that was a welcome distraction near the end.

Similar to previous years the half marathoners and the quick guys managed to get some soup but It was gone by the time I got there. I must get quicker.

There were very few photos taken today and in general it was a very uneventful race.

Stats for today