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Friday, 31 December 2010

Yearly Stats

It is that time of year when I lament about the successes of 2010 and areas for development for 2011. A broken leg has cut my year short and is 46 weeks in total. 2010 was my best year running. Not the fastest, but the longest:

Here are my Stats for 2010. I won't run again like this until 2012. My last run was November 30th so I have a month missing!

Total miles run: 1901.1
Max mileage month: 296.8 (august)
Lowest mileage month: 66.0 (feb)
Max weekly mileage: 109.49
Average weekly mileage: 41.32 (based on 46 weeks)
PBs: 0
Races: 5 Ultras, 4 marathons, 2 14 miles stages of a relay, 1 half, 2 10k, 1 5 mile, 3 club XC.
Marathons completed to date: 18

Best moments; Ridgway UK ultra champs: CP3-5 and the last 3 miles, last 8 miles of South Downs Marathon, last 13 miles of Neolithic Marathon.

2011 will not be the same. 2008 was about PBs: 5k, 5mile, 10k. 2009 was about getting longer (PBs half, marathon) and 2010 was about going long. 2011 will be about learning to walk, something I had taken for granted for 35 years. Then, with some leg brace support, learning to run. Hopefully I will get back to the club and start to run with a slow group. My goal was to get to 20 marathons this year, somthing I missed. Will I be able to run a marathon in 2011? Here's to hoping and running again. Happy New Year!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Exercise Bike and XTrainer

I have bowed to the inevitable and purchased a X-trainer and exercise bike. Something more advanced than in the picture but necessary all the same. 4 weeks since the accident I have kept morale high and endeavoured to keep a semblance of fitness. It has been a week since the spreadsheet started and I have walked another mile on crutches today, completed arm curls, crunches, reverse crunches, a style of press ups that furnish me with arm exercise but does nothing to hinder the leg (imagine knee style-press ups) and have been using every excuse to take the stairs, managing approx 150 a day.

Because of all of this, my upper body resemles something around 6 years ago, many months after joining the gym. Now if Mohammed will not travel to the the saying goes......then I shall have an XT machine. It is possibly the only thing to keep me sane.

In addition, the more I research, the more I get excited about the rehabilitation process. Learning to walk, thinking about running. When the cast comes off I shall furnish you with pictures of my withered quad. Once mighty, burning through the miles of trail at the UK ultra championships, now is a body double for C Montgomery Burns. Years to build, 4 weeks to disappear into the ether.........

It will come back. Stronger. Merry Xmas all ultra marathoners, running bloggers and runners of all shape, size, fast or slow. My hat goes off to you and hopefully I shall join you once more. Pounding the streeets.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Witham Boxing Day 5 cancelled again

crystal palace park in snow, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

This is the second year in a row. OK us XC and fell runners would laugh at the mere thought but this is a road race and there are a lot of fun runners too. I think it is best that it is cancelled bearing in mind the roads. That means I will not have missed one since 2006 since I can't run it this year! Not that I am selfish.

It does call into question some of the events that are run though. Unless there is a problem for competitors getting to the event, closed roads/trains not running then I think that events, particularly XC adventures, should always go ahead, especially when competitors have trained and are ready for the event. Culture thesedays so often tends towards the "where there is a blame there is a claim" when the unprepared or undertrained competitor gets injured, but seasoned marathoners and ultra-runners often brave sub-zero conditions and trecherous highways and byways. The only drawback is that of being a marshall. Standing in the cold for hours on end is perhaps the most thankless task of the day. I raise a Christmas glass to all marshalls everywhere who tolerate terrible conditions for the love of the sport. Here's to you! Here's to seeing you at the Witham Boxing Day race next year!

Friday, 24 December 2010

fracture details

Having spent the last 3 weeks explaining it in "laymans" terms I thought I would demonstrate the nature of the injury. It is known on my medical records from my consultant as a Weber C Fracture. This constitutes 2 fractures to the tibia, one further down, on the ankle joint to the medial (inside) and a 2nd fracture to the tibia further up and to the distal part of the joint. Finally the maisoneurve fracture to the fibula.

This has a great diagram, although my fib is fractured some 25-30cm higher than on the diagram.

I am awaiting feedback from the physiotherapists to assist in my rehab programme. However I am picking through the small crumbs of comfort that I am spending 30 mins a day on core and upper body exercises. One must not break into a sweat as the cast will start to smell!


There ar 2 types of support; mental and physical.

I am thankful for the former and researching the latter. I have had tremendous support and many visits, lifts, cards, cider and wine from friends and well-wishers during my tenure at broken leg-ville, to which I am eternally grateful and will never forget. I can never thank you enough.

The latter is about what to do when I am out of cast. I have spent the morning emailing Physiotherapists in order to find the best support for my rehabilitation process. It feels groovy when we plan the future. Always looking forward, whilst never forgetting (but not dwelling on) the past. We learn from our mistakes and take the necessary steps to find the best path forward. One step at a time. Hopefully one step with an ankle brace!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Mersea Island

me coming up to the line, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

I'm off to the folks this chilly Thursday for the Xmas break. I thought I might dwell on the fact that this will be the first time in 5 years that I will not be able to run "Round the Island" owing to the broken leg. I secretly reminisce of each summer when the Round the Island half comes round and whether I can PB the course again one day. Last year I was slightly out of sorts as I was concentrating on LSRs and had lost some VO2 max. Mum and Dad are always somewhere on the route to pop up for encouragement. This year they were on the line which was great. I pulled up with a sore Soleus at mile 11 across the sand and slowed for that mile. The pain wore off as I plodded a 9 min mile opposite Bradwell-on-Sea, the ominous looking grey concrete building signalling just 2 miles to go. Following this mild hiatus, I powered to the line and completed the round in 1.31.30, which was no where near my 1.30.14 PB, but pleasing as it was a journey, not a race. Perhaps I will have a gentle run on this fair track in 2011, as a recovery, with a 2012 PB attempt at a sub 1.30 half.

This Xmas, I will not have my usual round the Island training run on Xmas eve and again on Xmas morning. Something I think I am going to really miss. The first mile to the sea is glorious, with views over Brightlingsea and Point Clear. Reality bites like the cold headwind between coopers and West. Finally, past the fisheries and the backdraft home! Wow

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I used no fluids or gels to get to the shops and back but I managed 1.2 miles on the crutches in the snow and ice. Sweat-wise, I managed to lose more than in the traditional 10 miler on a tuesday afternoon, although I had opted for old running t-shirt cotton wear with a woollen outer layer, scarf, hat and single Karrimor Walking boot. I have the feeling that I was carrying unnecessary mass. Wicking fabrics would have rendered me frozen in -3 degrees conditions.

I intended the return leg to be a negative split but had not factored in a reduction in temperature, rendering the slush to form ice, fatigue and a really heavy rucksack full of cider and other Xmas goodies, totalling about 20kg.

The Garmin stated that I was doing 50 minute miles but I have looked through the manual and can find no evidence of an "on crutches" sport option. I have since contacted Garmin who have stated clearly that they do not intend to bring out a watch with that feature, which I replied was a shame. There might be only a tiny market in ultramarathon GPS watches, but I replied that there was a growing market in ultra-crutch racing. The response surprised me and is utterly unprintable.

The recovery includes apple-based rehydration

Rattling around

cast number 4, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Rattling around inside the cast.....might need a new one. Rattling around inside the house. Might need to get out!!

Eating my way out of trouble

Who ate all the pies?, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Managing a return from injury is particularly difficult over the festive period, especially with a broken leg. All manner of situations arise with the notion of no outlet to burn off excess calories.

Luckily, I have taken to a mild exercise regime of crunches, dips, arm curls, stretches and crutch walking. In true OCD fashion I have generated a spreadsheet to chart my progress and to better myself on a daily basis. Body mass has dropped in recent weeks although I am not convinced that this is due to muscle wastage or the effect of reducing intake of food, particularly red meat. I seem to crave chicken and cheese, although not at the same time and I am sure the vitamin supplements, green tea and ginseng are going to help.

It has been a great opportunity to catch up on the blogs of other marathoners and ultra runners.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Pinned Down

X-Ray of tibia, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Well I finally had my second appointment at King's College Hospital in Denmark Hill, London today. This is the internal outcome. The consultant stated that the bones have meshed together well and it is unlikely that I will need another operation as yet. The maisonneuve fracture of the fibula will heal naturally.

There was a lot of blood loss at the time of operation to cast 3 (the orange one) and this was highlighed when the cast came off, my foot was sat in a pool of dried blood which took the nurse some 20 minutes to clean off. Some of the pain I was experiencing over the last few days was due to skin deterioration being next to wet dressings, some due to shrinkage within the cast due to swelling reduction and some due to lack of hardcore pain relief.

My next set of x-rays are on 10th January. No weight-bearing until this date and with some intensive physio needed between then and the next few months, I think I will be running possibly between easter and the summer.

There are some obvious things I miss. Getting out to run 50 miles a week being the major one, but work, standing up to cook, going to the pub, even getting out of the house. I am working a few hours a day via email but it is really slow going owing to the painkillers monging me out.

Still, I read Dave Immune clocked a 3.18 marathon. Wow! The guy is literally....Immune!

I think for me, the idea of a marathon this year is fanciful, and I need to just get back on my feet before I start making plans. The quadricep muscle after 12 days of non-use has virtually disappeared. However, the pectorals, with the use of the crutches are firming up. Lets look on the bright side!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Break for months

After a lovely 20 snow run on tuesday as work shut early due to snow I went down to the shops on weds eve after a short recovery run. 150 metres from the hous I slipped on the ice and something bizarre happened. I felt like I had passed out, all sweaty and hot but awoke on the pavement. As I attempted to get up my leg bent in the middle around about the bit that was hurting when I was lying on the floor and I went down again. Concious that I had twisted an ankle I hobled home but had to crawl on hands and knees. I sat up in the lounge of the new house Susie and I had bought 4 days prior to this moment. Susie in Malaysia at Chris and Penny's wedding I panicked and phoned Glen and Sue to take me to hospital but they were snowed in.

After a call to a cab firm I found myself passing out in the King's College Hospital A&E and was quickly taken to X-Ray and was administered painkillers. Morphine and a drip later I was flat out in a resus room and was told that I would need to stay over for an operation. I thought I had twisted an ankle but oddly, after a second set of X-Rays I had discovered I had a compound fracture of the distal tibia, fracture of the upper tibia and Maisonneuve (spiral) fracture of the fibila and ligament damage. 3 days later I left the fantastic nurses and consultants in the Matthew Whiting wing of Kings Hospital. Having had 4 titanium screws to bolt back together the tibia and 3 casts, one after another to hold together the shattered leg but with removals for a severed vein, I left hospital with the knowledge that I would at worst be on crutches for 6 months and at best 3-4 months.

I can't believe that after consideration for the SDW and NDW double 100 milers in July and August 2011 and some BGR recces, that I will be just coming back to walking by that time next year.

Next time I want to pop out for some garlic brea, a pizza and a bottle of wine, I will stay at home and wrap up warm.

There is only PMA in my head as for 2012 I am going to do 2 100 milers and aim for a top 20 at the Ridgeway UK ultra distance championships. Until then I must only dream. But dream I will......

Monday, 25 October 2010

Race report: Founders Marathon

It is with some trepidation that one enters a XC marathon with no marshalls and a set of directions with no more than 30 miles a week under ones belt 8 weeks after the Ridgeway but bumping into a couple of familiar faces after a cold start cheered me up.

I caught up with Irish Tom who just made it to the start. Some runners had gone off early but a small field left for a lung-bursting 2 mile uphill from the start line at Peaselake Memorial Hall in the Surrey Hills. 3 runners went off like the clappers up the hill, then followed by a couple. I presume they were all on the marathon, rather than the shorter loop of 16.

Tom and I settled down with a group of about 12 runners who, apart from the faster few were at the head of the field. The directions are always going to slow you down and more heads are better than one. It is so easy to go wrong. Having said that, we made a steady pace towards CP1. The weather warmed from a chilly 1 degree and the presence of the sun and the hills meant that I was glad I left the extra longsleeve in the car.

After CP1 the field began to split. I was aware that the field was stringing out and out group had pulled clear of the rest of the field. Tom stated at the end that he thought I had chosen to go hard and break the group. I was not aware of doing this but was running on feeling, with the Garmin tucked under my ronhill. We ran and chatted and soom enough, caught the 100 marathoners that went off half an hour before us. CP2 was full of lovely sandwiches, biscuits and crisps. Filling up on water bottles and we were off.

Tiredness inevitably crept in and we went wrong. Twice. We added at least 2 extra miles and at Friday Street, were caught by the fastest of the leading pack, who were in fact, 2 chaps who went off 5 mins before the start.

We dropped them again and after literally a minute at CP3, hot footed it up the steep hills to the end. Some of the hills were more like scrambles and the heavy rain had made the pathways rubbly and dangerous but we were better than that. At the finish we signed in, to find ourselves equal 6th. No other runners made it under 5 hours and fair play as it was a tough and technical challenge.

Cider at the finish to watch the rest over the line was the order of the day

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Coming to an end

Sunset from Peckham, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

The year is coming to an end and although the mojo is back, I am just not putting in the miles. Time is the biggest blocker here. Work pressures and all of the things that allowed me to run long have gone on the back burner for the moment. I can easily do 10-12 miles running back to back mon-weds but consistency and the LSRs on a saturday morning just are not happening. Still, 14th Founders Challenge tomorrow and hopefully all will be fine. Something that I am looking forward to, despite all of this rain.

It has been an incredible year. It looks like there will be 11 marathons and ultras for this year, with Founders and Portsmouth Waterside coming up in the next few weeks.

The notion of getting faster was potentially my goal for 2011. I am back running with the elite group at the club, although not comfortably. I guess there are 3 issues here: 1, improving VO2 max; 2, speedwork down at the track (no way!); and 3, mind over matter. Building the confidence is a lot of the problem with quicker running. However, I am now committed to the Thames Trot 50 in feb and the SDW 103 in July. These are my goals for the first part of 2011. Heck, I might even have another pop at the Ridgeway.......but I would like to get an overseas marathon in too.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Getting my Mojo back

Looking across Llynnau, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Is it me or is it something to do with a long long race and it all goes quiet afterwards?

I was quite bullish in the week after the Ridgeway. All endorphins and big chested. Then came a week of being able to run. And run fast, 6.30s to be precise. And then I got ill. A cold, followed by another cold followed by a very high fever and 2 days off work. I never take days off work.......and no running of significance.

I am now in the mood to regain my Mojo although I appear to be hampered by meetings, weddings and weekends away, planned in the dim and distant past......."Oh that's's after the Ridgeway, I'm free then". But the hardest thing is getting started to want to get outdoors and hit some 8 minute mile railway that lasts for 3-4 hours in the days that are gradually being stolen by the nights, bit by bit by bit. Soon it will be time to get out the longs and the hat.

So I need a challenge. Winter Tanners. Tick. Country to Capital. Tick. (Housman 100 for summer 2011. Big Tick!)

But what until then. I need a couple of good quality XC marathons. Dirty. Fun. That's what will bring back my mojo.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

2011 - Possible plans

I said never again after the Ridgeway. 88 miles of fantastic countryside. The last 12 or so miles I said never ever. Ever!

On reflection and after a few days of rest I am ready for the next challenges. 3 things stand out for me.

1. Eric has suggested organising a run across Hadrian's Wall. 85 miles. Fantastic!

2. Housman 100 - I can't wait to become a centurion in 2011. May 28th Bank holiday weekend in Shropshire.

3. C2C - Alfred Wainwright's epic 192 mile walk from St Bees to Robin Hood Bay from East Coast to West Coast across England's highest mountain ranges; Lake District National Park, Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. It is has been run a number of times, although mainly supported. There is a sherpa company that does bag drops and hotel bookings to allow you to travel unsupported. I propose doing the run in 5 days.

The draw of the Lakes and the mountains is a magnet to my running radar. Although this is not an event as such, it is a journey, a right of passage.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Ridgeway Race Report; CP9 to finish

The easy bits I forget. The hard bits I remember. At this point the guys at Cp9 said less than 10km to the finish. Bollocks. It was 13km+

That was negativity slipping between the cerebral hemispheres. The bastard had got in and was starting to rot my PMA like it had done with Dave many hours earlier. We had targetted finishing at 9.30am. I knew that we were 25 minutes outside our last estimate for CP9 so I feared for where we were going. A sit down and watch the rest of the runners go past and amble in under 24 hours was a flood that was suddenly taking over my brain. Dave was good here. He was playing reverse psychology. At the time when I needed it most, the big man from Molesey was there and demonstrated that his ball of PMA was massive. Well at least acorn sized.

The Ridgeway is a ridge. Just that. The last leg was undulation from 160-280m on long slow hills. Metalled track gave way to rutted muddy pathways, too deep to run properly and switching from rut to rut demoralised me. We saw a few runners in the distance. The sun picking out the reflective strips and day-glo colours from the chalky farmland that surrounded them.

The last 5 or so miles were a bit of a blur. I couldn't walk. However, the last ounce of energy, the last gift in the sac magique was to run. That was all I could do. Spasm in calves and the knowledge of lost and broken toenails gave way to a trot. the trot broke into a canter and then a gallop as we descended from Fyfield Down and off the hills down Herepath. As we did we flew past 6 totally dejected runners and did what we always do when we run. Finish strong. We did a sub 11, a sub 10 and then an 8 for the last 3 miles. 8 minute miles are bread and butter to most runners but 8s at 88 seemed a symetrical way to end the best run of my life.

And then it ended......

At the line, handshakes and medals. The UK Ultra Trail Championships were over =46th place for me and Dave. Bacon butties cider and a sleep in the crew car all the way to London.

Sublime. Ridiculous. Unforgettable.

We said never again. Ever. But now? I think maybe 100 next year.

Thanks Astrid and Susie, Jezza and Dave. Massive well done to Di, Dave, Tim and Linda for support. Thanks to Susan Smith; Chairperson of DPR who turned up and waited for us hour after hour at some ungodly hour! Well done to Claire and Helen, Draconian one and Colin. Well done to Beardy man and the PMA stealers. Well done to the Jungle crew. Well done to you all. If you came 1st or last. That was a run that defied expectations and gave everything in memories that it took from you in spirit and energy.

See you next year?

Ridgeway Race Report; CP8 to CP9

first go at lomo, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

This was the hardest individual run I have ever done and this was the hardest part. We arrived at CP8 to a roaring fire and Swindon Striders were manning the CP. Flat coke and coffee was all I could muster. I attempted a Jaffa cake but my mouth was not accepting it. We had arrived at the CP expecting solace and all we had to do was soldier on. Bloody friendly bunch though and I made sure I thanked everyone at the station as at 4-5am, what a great thing to do for others. I think that is one of the essential components to the success of this event. The cameraderie and the unselfishness of the supporting crews and marshalls. This cheered me up no end thinking about this.

Dave was poking his head above the flatline where depravity ends and humanity begins. He warmed to the log fire and found some elbow grease from somewhere and off we went...after a piss stop of course!

This stage was a long one and soon off Ashbury Hill at Bishopstone, we descended off the downs from Foxhill to Liddington. The down was an opportunity to have a speedy hill descent and we quickly caught up with Beardy Man who we had seen at Chequers (and had found a £20 note blowing across his path!!) and had a chat with him. He was in good spirits but as soon as we had conversed, he had an impromptu stop and was not to be seen again.

A long and boring stretch of tarmac now and a gentle upwards towards the M4. Crossing this dirty track via a bridge we noted on articulated lorries on the road, pushing on through the night with the drivers in comfort, while we were in agony.

Off the road finally which was a welcome break and another punishing 700ft climb past the aptly named Upper Upham. Right! Dave darted behind a redundant combine harvester, fresh from the threshing of wheat the day before (we did spot one at CP7 working through the night) and alerted me to his toiletary requirements. After this Dave was back from the dark side!

Whilst Immune dealt with the necessary ablutions, 2 runners attempted to steal my PMA and this had a lasting affect on me. Both were suffering. Badly. All they could do was tell me how hard it was and after asking me how far did I think it was to the end, they scoffed and said it was much further? So why ask and why steal my PMA?

Anyway. Dave came back from the rim of hell and we started to get a clip on. Onwards towards Ogbourne St Andrew and we had decided to keep our windstoppers on as they were breathable. If we walked, we would still be sweating and get cold, as it had dropped to 7-8 degrees and we would be more likely to cramp. Light had crept across the contorted duvet of pathwork fields and downs, dithces and woodland. Torches were off, saved now for some other senseless run.

We approached Ogbourne down a quad busting mile long hill and after taking the PMA-stealers, we took another runner, clearly limping and enduring huge sufferage. He was nearly crying. Words of encouragement as we sped past was all of the crumsb that we could offer. Aside for a serious injury, all of my energy was focused on the Self and Immune, who was now very perky. I sensed that Immune was an anti-vampire. a man scared of hard work in the dark! All of these silly thoughts kept me going as we raced past these poor souls. Each time my feet chiming to the rhythm in my head of "Another one bites the dust".

It was my turn to feel the pain. Dave was feeling good and had a fast clip. I lagged behind for longer periods now, having spent a long time focused on both of us I now needed to look inwardly to myself. Sugar and caffiene was lacking from my bloodstream and I knew it.

Lying between us and CP9 was Barbury castle. A 700ft climb of relentless and head on windiness. This was ultra running stripped bare. 7.30am and I found a capri-sun and flake in my back. I necked both, feeling sick but knowing that otherwise a balckout would ensue. I quickly reminded Dave of the 3 in my club who had failed at the final hurdle and to keep an eye on each other, as low blood pressure and the wall were looming ominously on the horizon. My mind was on overtime. At the top, the beacon of CP9 and a luke-warm coffee and the support crew! Susie and Astrid we late and we saw them pull in. We needed to motor on but seeing Susie's eye well up in acknowledgement that the pain written across my face was unbearable nearly made me cry. Onwards...quickly.

Ridgeway Race Report; CP7 to 8

Salisbury point to point, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

The have lots of Horse racing on the Downs, I told Dave, and recounted stories of gambling and horse racing and why I am not a fan of gambling. I am rubbish at it!

If we could see the downs, then they may have looked like this. However, we continued, up to some of the higher points on our journey. Rams Hill, White Horse Hill, Lammy Down, Uffington Hill and I recounted the history of the White Horse and Wayland's Smithy. We chatted with a couple of runners who caught and left us on this oppressive stage of the race. We looked down at the watch and we were close to 70 miles....and despair. All we had to look forward to was the next CP. We were pretty quiet now. Occasionally we discussed athletics. Mostly we were quiet. Moving forward. Slowly. I can't remember how many times we stopped for a piss. Both of us felt dehydrated but urine colour analysis proved otherwise. Nothing else to do but move forward. I popped an anti-inflamatory pill.

Ridgeway Race Report; CP6 to CP7

broken, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

I have to admit that his pace quickened across the top of Bury Down but Dave appeared broken. Even the little piss take (East Ginge Down!!!) went down like a sack of shit and the little jokes and gee-ups were not working. There was no plan B. Plan A was to put one foot in front of the other and as quick as possible.

The relentless North Wessex Downs offered little in the way of anything to pass the time other than the red-topped masts that dotted the horizon and made you feel like you were on some night time treadmill going no where. We passed the point where Dave wa in new territory, over 57 miles. I tracked in front of Dave for long periods here, part trying to give myself a PMA and part from not letting any demons get inside my head and make me negative. The only solace was to count off the miles and to stop us from going to slow. Jezza had stated that 3 miles an hour at night across the hills would be good but that would have been too slow. We had to keep the pace up if we were to challenge for a sub 24 hour time. We were in dangerous territory here. Road crossing after cart track came and went and with some deft navigation, we apexed corners and made it to CP7. Dave was coming to the light at the end of the tunnel, but her wasn't there yet. I was in some form of madness/psychosis as the marshalls at CP7 thought I was mad. Coffee here (note to self; should have had sugar!) and a top up of water was needed. I couldn't face any food which was silly as I would need it too later as I was to find out.

Off we went

Ridgeway Race Report; CP5 to CP6

Crew car, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Say goodbye to the crew car. After Goring where Jezza arrived as we left, although I didn't see him we walked for a while to let the food go down. After a mile or so of crossing the Thames and roads,we hit the trail again. I turned my headtorch off as Dave's was bright enough and the stars and the moon were out. Up to Bury down (Down was up!) and as we approached the 50 mile mark Dave started to nose-dive into a patch of not feeling great.

We were up on the downs and it become very open with the relentless gentle up and down that we had been used to on Neolithic. It was too steep to run up to Bury Down so much of this we wlaked. Dave was dropping back so I tried everyhing to gee him up, asking questions and whittering on about stuff. We approached and overtook a runner who I had to block out mentally. he was so negative about everything and I had to work hard in my head not to let the negative thoughts creep in just as I could have been feeling crap too. I had to drop back and keep Dave away from him as Dave was not feeling great and this negativeness could really kick him in the goolies. We let him pass but we were conscious of the ticking clock and made our way towards CP6. As we got there we picked up 2 other runners. One was an essex girl who told us of the Jungle Marathon that she had run. Her and her mate from "team Jungle" had met and run the race that Mark Hines wrote a book about. We listened in and I was in very high spirits at this point. I left them with Dave to have a chat. Dave was not chatty but they were. I took the opportunity to head about 500m in front of them to do some thinking, keep my head positive and have good run walk posture, making sure that I was tracking towards CP6 by cutting off apexes and not going wrong with the mapreading.

A mile from CP6 we went under a road bridge with the most minging murals on. It looked really grim. Up the hill and the word was that CP6 had hot dogs. I had a call from Susie to let me know that. They had left CP6 to go to the hotel. Unfortunately we missed them. Up the hill towards CP6 I ran all the way and arrived about 5 mins before Dave. Cup of coffee and 2 hot dogs later I was right as rain, fueled by cheap flat coke I was read to rock and roll. Dave on the other hand, looked grey. He managed a cup of tea and off we went.

Ridgeway Race Report; CP4 to CP5

CP5 Goring food stop; 9pm, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

This was the longest stage of the day so far and we were keen to keep the pace high. I must admit that as we entered Grim's Ditch, a 5 mile long earthworks that I was feeling a little low. We had been running with Draconian One and Colin on and off for some time but something was bothering me. My arse! I was going to have to stop for a moment. relief! I bounded up to Dave who had kept running so I knocked off 1km at about 7.30s to reach him. Grimmer Ditch I thought.

It was surreal running along the earthwork thinking that some 2500 years ago many people had built this and we conversed about why they had done it. There was a lot of downhill on this stage and we made quick work of what seemed like over an hour of the ditch. Straight forward towards the River Thames and towards the halfway point. The light faded quickly and we ran walked along the thames watching parties and boats and big houses whicle we chatted as a group of 4. We picked up a couple of other runners as we left the Thames and it was now pitch black. Through the beautiful village of North Stoke and along pathways and roads towards Goring. I have a habit of speeding up towards checkpoints. Why? Perhaps to stay longer and organise, perhaps for the sweet thoughts of food and hot drinks. ANyway, I motored ahead of the group, leaving them for about 2 miles and to Goring, where my food was on the table before they arrived. Brilliant service from the marshalls and volunteers and thanks for my coffee, jacket potato with beens and cheese and homemade quiche!

Shoe change! Wow. Comfort from the buggered up old shoes. This was the 44 mile point and I was in need of fresh feet. This would be the last time we saw the crew until CP9 tomorrow morning, but at what time? Dave and I departed in total darkness with headtorches showing the way

Ridgeway Race Report; CP3 to CP4

Of all of the legs of the race, I must admit that this one I think I remember the least for the terrain and the most for the people. It was a short leg by the standards as we had already done at least 2 from CP3 to the support crew car before. There were plenty of roads to cross and the trail led across golf courses and probably the most populated part of the journey. Lots of walkers and people were out and about in the afternoon. I spied Susie at a junction with camera in hand with Astid on support. Amazingly, Di and Dave from the running club were on hand to give support and encouragement. It made us feel like we had an extra 10% energy and with a quick 2 minute chat we were steaming along to CP4.

Then we hit some serious hill and valley territory. The last hill was unforgiving as the crew were shouting from the top but all runners were walking this one!! Up to CP4 at Swyncome, there was a tent, Di and Dave had joined the support crew for encouragement and also, Tim and Linda from the club who had biked up in their leathers! Wow! this was like another 10% boost! A cup of tea and a change of clothes to night wear. We were concerned that with the next leg being 12.5 miles that we would be in the dark and so we dumped the bottle belts and opted for rucksacks with extra food and headtorches. Both of us were feeling really good and kept up a good pace during this leg.

Ridgeway Race Report; CP2 to CP3

Approach to CP3, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

We didn't stop at CP3 at all. We went stright on through and past 7 or 8 runners. It looked a well manned CP with loads of food. Instead we soldiered on and to the meeting point, which we assumed was half a mile or sop onwards. Actually it was about 2 and a half and Immune was out of water.

We had a sock change here which felt like heaven. I really had enjoyed this stage, despite it being the hottest of the day and hilly. The views were just amazing and we got a serious clip on during this part of the race and overtook quite a few runners, seen as we had started the race in the last 5 off the hill at Ivinghoe beacon. What really gave us a boost was the territory was fairly even although there were road sections that were long and I felt for those in trail shoes. I am glad that I stuck to road shoes throughout. I had asked Susie for a shoe change at CP3. On hindsight, I am glad I left it to CP5.

Ridgeway Race Report; CP1 to CP2

Immune 39 and me 50 at CP2, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

To start this challenge with talk of urination would be odd, but it was pertinent. About half a mile out of CP1, I had to go. I went, looked round for Jezza and no one was in sight. We had a gentle start towards CP2 and with it only being 6 miles to CP2, we were sure that with our pace at a comfortably relaxed rhythm that Jezza would catch us up. Approaching Princes Risborough we spotted Jezza on the long straight before the ascent to the monumented hill with the view of Chequers. He was about 500m or so behind. We stopped and chatted to a couple of walkers and they took our photo (although I relinquished the camera at the next CP as it was extra mass) and we plodded on.

Coming into CP3 we had 7 minutes, a ham sandwich, coconut water and a refill of the belt bags we were carrying. Astrid and Susie were in high spirits but wondering were Jezza was. He eventually came in 5 mins later.

Ridgeway Race Report; Start to CP1

12.00 wave and the whistle blew. I was expecting the speech, the health and safety but no, off we went on the whistle. A great chance to talk to Helly D, Claire, Robby Elson and to meet COlin, fresh off the back of lakeland 100. The sun was out and after a bit of kit tightening and adjustment, we were on our way.

We needed to motor as CP1 was a 2 hour cut off. Rather tight but can you imagine being shut out after that time! We made our way up the Chilterns as a 3. Me and Jezza up front and Dave behind, his usual chatty self, gleaning hints and tips from all manner of runners. We were off at sub-9s which was about right but kept having to haul ourselves in from going faster as up onto the Chilterns, this was all uphill through gorgeous scenery.

We hit CP1 and what we should have done was organised the crew with what we wanted, a mistake that we would not make again. 6 minutes at CP1 was long enough although Jezza spent a lot of time in his bag. And off we went......

Team UltraBobban

Team UltraBobban, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Well at least we were matching

Hats off to the support crew.

Before the race report, a few words to the crew, whom without their tireless dedication and hard work, Dave, Jezza and I would have found this nigh on impossible.

Thank you both for your brilliant work!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

What will it look like on Sunday?

Hopefully this will be the picture. Feet up. Wine. Relax in a hot bath and chill.

It has been a big build up. I signed up on 3rd March but truly started training for this the moment I crossed the line of C2C. This week has been slow, with 40km completed in the dreaded taper. I have been to work a few times in my holiday (?!) and I have planned food bags, hydration and laminated the maps. We have conversed daily by email, weekly by phone and it feels like ages since I competed after 6 marathons and ultras in 12 weeks.

There is just 36 hours to go until the start of the Ridgeway challenge 2010. I have a couple of treats for the chaps on the journey. I think that the niggles are starting to iron themselves out and some carb loading is taking place. Kit checks tomorrow and medical kit and sartorial changes will be planned. Fruit will be purchased tomorrow. Then saturday morning it will be sandwich making, measuring out Nuun and Electrolyte/energy drinks will be made in labelled bottles.

All I can hope for now is to maintain PMA, charge the Garmin and get some good quality sleep.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A mountain to climb

Scafell Massif, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Immune said to me that he was bored shitless with his taper, or words to that effect on Friday. At least I remembered that he had telephoned me in the Southwark Tavern as I had just returned from the fabulous Borough Market with a face full of Bratwusrt and 6 pints of Aspall's Cyder in my bloodstream.

I fucking hate tapers. That is why I never do them. Dave is right. They suck. Each time I walk up the stairs or to the pub or the shops I think about a niggle in my knee, a stiffness in my achilles and a twinge in my back. For goodness sake I have been knocking out 130k week in week out and as soon as I stop, the mind games set in.

So the only thing to do was to go for a few pints with good friends and enjoy the taper. Enjoy might be the operative word as at the time it seems that but after a few hardcore ultra sessions and the local chippy getting more service from me in the wee small hours that I care to remember it is time to hang up the hangover. Admittedly in my gregarious state I have had a whale of a time and enjoyed company and many good beverages, at least 6 types of cider, coffee martini's and is time to get the brain and body focused on the task ahead. Ridgeway mode.

The entry list came through today and it is great to see so many friends running the route. I am more nervous about going back to school after the hols that the race.

Jezza has purchased new shoes and I am about to do the same. Asics gel cumulus 11 as they are the best shoe I have found for my feet and gait. In 16 marathons and ultras, not one blister and only 1 lost nail. And that might have been the inov8s anyway.

Sartorially I am nearly ready. More clothes changes that a presenter at the MTV awards and the team UltraBobban crew t-shirts which are chav-chic is a billy-bonus.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

It's a long and winding road but the end of part 2 is in sight

Hardknott Pass winding road, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

It's been a funny old week.

As weeks go, it has been OK, but funny. Part 2 or the year is nearly over. Challenge 2; the Ridgeway is almost upon me and I am feeling nervous and excited. Good.

Ran to the Summer League last round today in Battersea. Only 6 miles to the start but did 8, before allowing the legend that is Steve Beard to draft me and in doing so knocked 4 minutes off his PB. 2 things are going on here. Steve is less fat than me and it was a windy day, hence him tucking in behind my massive arse. Secondly, the profanity that ensued was enough to put anyone off loving me, hence the wide berth that we were being given.

Hell, it was a chance to get a PB, something he was going to do and if I was going to run at 7.30s then I was going to make him suffer. 36.59 on a slightly long 5 mile course was 4.20 off his PB. What a star!

Anyway I was all up for running home and then I found the table with free Pimms. I had a few and then some quiche and peanuts ready for the run home. Ultra food I told everyone. Then the rock of the club that is Smithy the Chairwoman roped me into the relay. Great. A moment where I knew I was going to be a vomiter. Then this girl looked at me as if I was going to say hello? Who the hell was she? After the relay in which I ran for the B team in a very respectable 53 seconds (note; watch the crowds look on as I let the other competitors race off and I took last place so that none of the wiley characters could put pay to my Ridgeway challenge. Anyway a lollop around in a time that was good enough for second fastest in the A team.

Anyway, this girl comes over and it was none other than Serpie Claire who I ran with at the C2C in January. Being her first ultra, she was just utterly brill and finished a few mins ahead of me. She then reeled off a load of races that she had done and it was true that she was turning into a legend too.

Anyway I have an invite to the Hardmoors 110 in 2011 which I could take up. And we'll see her at the start of the Ridgeway too on the 12.00 Elite start....... and possibly not after that as she looks in fine fettle. As the start approaches, the long and winding road to the Ridgeway comes to a close.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Bob Graham Round

Approach to Mickledore route, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

For about 3 years I have been thinking of the BGR. 42 peaks in 24 hours. Looking up at Scafell Pike through the Mickledore Route (although this is not the route I would take!) it seems insane that Joss Naylor can run up and down England's highest peak in well under an hour and the record is 49mins 50 sec to the summit and back down to Wastdale Head car park. I really want to plan for this in 2012 and I think that it would be great to do it as part of a small team. Only just over 1000 people have ever done it and I can see why. Just for the fact that there is so little visibility above 600m on an average day means that GPS is a must! Better start saving!

Walking, not running

After Scafell; Cider, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

2 weeks to go until the BIG race. A little R&R in the lake district to take in some clean air and panoramic views. The new TNF trail shoes stood up to a scrambling ascent through the difficult Mickledore route to the top of Scafell PIke at 3208ft from Wastdale Head. They are very comfortable and I think possibly will get some use on the Ridgeway, particularly good on stony ground as have grip but also a lot of cushioning. The previous day I entrusted the Inov8 gore-tex roclite 312 for a fell run. We took a hilly route up to Vile Crag and Loughrigg which was in it's part, not a huge run, about 10km, but Mrs UB enjoyed the views of Windermere and gave her Inov8s a good road test too. Slightly stiff quads from the descent of scafell pike and I think that this week will be mild on the mileage, particularly after last week and the 130km achieved. This being my biggest week and that with 2 1/2 days off running. Perhaps this could have been much bigger, although perhaps it would have ended in injury. We finished off the week on saturday afternoon with an 8 mile run round Croxteth Park in Liverpool and some of the more interesting areas of the outer City Centre.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Downland Challenge Race Report

A beautiful day......

The previous evening supping a small amount of shandy with Jezza in prep for the big one. Then an early night and then in the car at 6.50am and down to Jack and Jill for 8.30am down the A23. What a great meet at the foot of the biggest hill between Snowdonia and the Massiv Central. Johnny Mac, Robert, Matt UltraFlynn, Super Irish George and Helly D plus other that were ready in the 130 strong field ready to hit some Downs.

Having had a conservative (with a small c) start up Jack and Jill and onto Ditchling Beacon to test out the legs that were on the stiff side after 127km week (my biggest ever!) I had a few miles with a super duper newbie to Ultras...Josie......a brilliant young runner from Metros in Pinner. We felt a little naughty as both of us had bunked the London Summer League meet that our clubs were taking part in and had seconded ourselves to the finest Ultra in the South. Having said goodbye to Josie who wanted to run a little slower I caught up with George on the downhill off Ditchling and up to 8 miles I found out about the Cotswolds 100 that he had just ran. The man is an hero. A legend. He is sooo relaxed. Brilliant! After about 10 miles I hooked up with Matt aka UltraFlynn and Helly D adn we ran together until the end....well almost the end.

Dropping down to CP 1 was a breeze. CP 2 got hotter and at this point we saw strugglers. On the way back up from CP2 we were met by the leaders on the switchback, a small group of runners including 2 colchester harriers whom I have seen before at the round the island half. We began to pass runners and we had a run walk strategy that was purposeful but preparatory for mine and Helly D's Ridgeway Challenge. We did not want to get injured! Mile 16 to 20 was pure uphill but spirits were kept his by a mixture of profanity and Flynn's wittering. At the top of the mettaled track we came across a sight to behold......a naked ramber. We exchanged a woo hoo with him and then swifted upon our ascent negotiating kissing gates and wondering on the chaffing and sunburn issues that this gent might have. At least he had shoes, which was more than could be said for the barefoot runner.....Ouch!!!

Climb and climb and climb and then we were back at Ditchling. Flynn took after Green and the Maltesers and finished 5 ahead of us, racing the last 1.7 miles leaving me and Helly D to chat Ridgeway stuff. I came in about 9 minutes slower than last year but Immune will tell you just how bad I was at 22 last year. This time bother. Felt really great at the finish and managed a sprint to the line and a 45th place. It was such a different story to last year where Ditchling finished me off. This time round I was fresh and conscious of not pushing it at all, using the sort of strategies that I will want to employ in the Ridgeway. Now to work on the water and Nuun strategy!

What a super day. Loved it. Loved the company and will see you all next year

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Race Report Fairlands Valley Marathon

rotten apple II, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

You often find that when you do well for a while, it is a shock to the system when you perform less than you have got used to expecting from yourself. 4 great XC marathons or ultras and what seemed to be a Royal Flush was on the way today.

No way. Not ever. Physically it was stacked up against me. Sore achilles, lack of miles this week, less than good diet this week, late nights home from work and then a curry last night and 3 glasses of wine and a champagne mojito. OK, the last 2 I really was asking for it. To top it off (my fault again) I rushed out of the house without either sunscreeen or breakfast.

Having said all of that, I had a great day out. Running with Johnny Mac aka Sole Man fresh from Marathon des Sables fame we decided to run together. Johnny is younger than me by about 150 years and is about 30 seconds a mile fitter than me at the moment. We swapped stories as we meandered through the rolling hills of Hertfordshire as after we had left the turd that is Stevanage (certainly not the jewel of Hertfordshire) we got into deep conversation. The start was in 3 waves 30 mins apart and with a set of directions and a checkpoint stamp card we set off at 10.00am.

There was minimal road running as we kept to byways and tracks of Watton, Knebworth and Datchworth. Stopping to check the map was frequent but not an issue as there were plenty of others doing the same. We caught up to the previous wave after 15 miles and shared a laugh with more runners than I have ever seen from the 100 marathon club and after circumnavigating the whole of St Albans Striders we were on our way to the next CP.

Johnny Mac managed to get hold of Liz Hurley on the way, but he couldn't get her top off. I suggested that he bite it; and that helped. Soon he had peeled off her outer layer and was rummaging around at the bottom end, snaffling for loose nuts. Aside from the excellent bread and butter pudding (better......wait......better than the C2C!!) Johnny had taken to the Elizabeth Hurley Bars (??????)

The charge of the light brigade from 18 miles a la Me and Immune never materialised this time. A gentle waddle at 9.00s plus sent me into a spin of physical hatred for not being prepared (no marathon is easy) and a few needed walk breaks up the gentle undulations ( this point, everyone was walking and we were genreally running...except a few bits) and then it was left for us to reminisce of the quaint pubs, railway bridges, clear crisp gugling water of the streams and reed-filled rivers and return to modernist hell of the turd-like estates of outer Stevenage and in the words of Jeremy Clarkson......."Across the line" in a slow but map reading respectable 4.19

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Feet up!

Runners that can't run = misery!

Following a 600 mile round trip to a fantastic wedding in Den Haag I have been pained with a sore left achilles at the point where is gets close to the heel. Consequently with late evenings at work and a summer snotty cold I have completed one run; 22km in the sunny London streets on Wednesday and nothing since. Even the quiet Thames Path plan this morning hit the skids as I perhaps enjoyed a beer too many with my good buddy Keith last night.

Perhaps my body is trying to tell me something? One thing is true is that if you don't run, body mass sky-rockets. I have noticed that as my diet is getting up to 3000 kcals a day, not running has put on 2kgs in 7 days! Another week of this and I will be Homer Simpson!!!

Fairlands Valley XC marathon tomorrow. Johnny Mac and a couple of others will be down there but I am going to take it nice and slow. Easy on the achilles and about 4 hours will be fine. I noticed that after a few days off and the 22 on weds that I was running in 7.30s! Not tomorrow though. 6 weeks hols commence tuesday afternoon so my 100-130km weeks will be in the next 3 weeks plus gym every day will hopefully get me up to speed.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Tanners Race report

5 pages of directions!!, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

You can't go wrong for a fiver.....well if you are me then you can..... and then some! the 50th Summer Tanners is the last before the retirement of the Tanners Committee. Winter re-runs will exist but no new runs...ever. I am ever the endeavour-ist but reading a sweaty direction sheet is not my forte. Maps are mine, so this was a real challenge. I needed the miles so 3-4 extra was no problem.

A mixed field of a few faces recognisable from other events but it was not until mile 13 that I struck a conversation with Vinny and Carl, fresh from the GUC 145 mile race. I say a conversation, I felt like Jeremy Paxman asking all of the questions. What a super pair of blokes. Carl crewed for Vinny and ran with him after the alloted 70 miles until 145. Baby food, pot noodle and smoothies.....i.e liquid food was the order of the day, the night and the next day. These guys were brilliant and all hail to Cromer and place for hill training! It gave me some real insight into the latter stages of the Ridgeway and what challenges Jezza, Immune and myself will face.

Back to the race and after my 2 diversions I settled down into a nice pace. The new Raidlight bottles on shoulder straps were OK, but I am still searching for a quick way to get fluids into my body without the suck factor and having-to-reach-round-the-back-of-my-bag-and-get-cramp option.......There were very short sections of tarmac with 90-95% being open track, pathway and shaded woody pathways. I decided to bag the sunglasses as running through dappled shade was fraught with slips and trips.

The last half was ace, Holmbury Hill, Leith Hill and along the dragon's back of the North Downs. Undulation, heat and dust kicked up by the occasional mountain bike took its toll, as did the 30 degree heat. I was drinking at double the rate of a normal marathon. The checkpoints were poorly stocked and absent of any food which was a shame. CP4 were even rationing water! The last 10 miles were great. Back to workman-like mad dash for the finish and the garmin shows that this was the fastest part of the race, having clocked a few 11 and 12 min miles earlier in the day. A fast finish saw me overtake lots of runners and in spirit of finishing on a high, clocked a 7.34 and a 7.40 which I know Immune would be proud of. Cider at the finish in Leatherhead and despite the detours, 5.40 for 34 miles was fine. A super day all round.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Some time off to enjoy the cricket

Susie, Anouck and Simi, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

What a well deserved weekend off with 3 marathons in 8 weeks and up to 90km a week, I needed a bit of R&R, especially since having a viral bug which kept me low for a few days last week. Unusual for me. Anyway with a short run on saturday early, I went off to a wedding on saturday which was fantastic and a day at the cricket with my best mate Simi, his gf Anouck and Mrs UB. England were head and shoulders above the Aussies and it was really good to see how the team has come on in the last 12 months.

No running sunday or monday gave me a revitalised 15 miles tonight and after 5 miles of long slow hill reps I ran to the club and had a great chat with Victoria and Claire. Theme; Isn't it nice in Dulwich and Forest Hill!

Felling great and thinking positive about upping the mileage over the next couple of weeks to over 100km. This will be hard in 2 weeks as I have a wedding in Holland on a weekend. However, come the school hols, I will be running twice a day 3-4 days a week and LSRs on the weekend. At least I will have time to fit in the gym, of which I have not been to for 3 weeks owing to work committments.

Luckily, with regard to the Ridgeway, the checkpoints seem to be at the same places each year. TRA have sent nothing through yet so I am getting a little edgy as to how we can sort out drinks and nutrition. I am looking forward to a feast!!!!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Mind over matter

Knowing that I will be at work until 8.00pm and not home until at least 9, with a late one tomorrow, a wedding Saturday and then a drive to Manchester on Sunday at 6am to watch the 2nd ODI as England look to take a second win against the mighty Australia makes me wonder where the miles will come from this week. 90+km will be a real struggle.

On this note of struggle, I can't see my weight coming down.....In fact it is rising, accumulating fat for my impending oddessey. So I have 2 dilemmas; not enough time to train and too much work and therefore rubbish food. The Tanners is entry on the day at 10.00am in Leatherhead and that can't come soon enough. Wisely last night I ignored the Midsummer relays at the club, chosing to run down with the big kit bag and time the relay teams and not engage in anythig silly to gain injury.

Prior to this I embarked on a pre-run stretch which took at least 20 mins. My quads are in knots and I think it is time for some is just when ?!?!?!??!

Mentally and physically I need 3 hours on my feet to do 20 miles this week. it might be friday night. Possibly by then my new Raidlight Bottles with straps to fit onto the Salomon Raid Revo 20 will have arrived and cheered me up. £16.99 each was quite a bargain. Immune bought a new rucksack and I watched with some green tinges at the ease at which he could remove and return bottles. I am not going to faff about with a Camelbak and bladder, I want bottles and lots of them. Saves time at checkpoints. The thing is the Raid Revo is the most comfortable of rucksacks and believe me I have tried many. So I have opted for front bottles with straws. Brilliant.

Entry for the Downland Ultra 30 was confirmed so I have 2 x 30 hilly races in July and then I just need to find a marathon in August as my training will peak at about 110km a week on the first week of the hottest month. Lots of twice a day training followed by ice cold baths and gym work.

So, I am not f##ked, but growing stronger and stronger. PMA

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Round the Island - Race Report

me coming in to finish, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

I love this race. I love the weekend. It changes with the tide. Literally. It can only be run at low tide as the race from 7-8 and 10.5-11.5 miles are only accessible at low tide, otherwise the sea comes up to the cliffs.

This is my third outing at the Round the Island Half. Mum and Dad live on the Island...Mersea Island which is accessible by causeway at low tide in North Essex. The wildlife is just sublime as the Colne and the Blackwater Estuaries meet. Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Sand Piper and Egret were all spotted today.

A smaller field than last year (same day as the North Downs Run) but the visit to the folks was more important. After the South Downs Marathon 8 days ago and the fear of running too fast to get injured I went off far too fast. The first 3 miles in 22 minutes into the wind saw me in about 25th out of 200ish in the field. I was not a fan of the first 3-4 miles but soon got into a rhythm and overtook a couple of runners on the Strood turn. I then ran with a Springfield Strider who was first woman for the next 4 miles. She was hurtling along at about 7.08s and I was just about to hang on after a 7.20s last couple of miles. She pulled off to tie her lace near water stop 2. Within about 2 miles her fellow runner went past and was now 1st female.

I then had a nightmare mile. The course had not changed since last year but a number of runners took the longer route across the sand rather than through the grassland. There were no marshalls at this point so I followed. With a steep incline in the short sandy bay, I pulled a Soleus muscle and dropped to an 8.30 for a mile in the sand. Back on the coast road I picked up the speed for the last mile or so but was totally blasted from last week's marathon. 1.31.42 was 90 seconds slower than last year but upon reflection not bad for this year. Mrs UB flew across the line in 2.08 which was 7 mins faster than last year so brilliant, despite her taking a tumble. Brilliant day!! Managed a 5 mile recovery run 6 hours later and feel much better on the Soleus

Monday, 14 June 2010

Lucky Charm

Fertility Charm, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

I need one, I think. Having got over the fact that my Garmin went for a burton, the new one is fine. Racing yesterday, the day after a marathon is a first for me. 36.50 for a 5 mile XC in Eltham Park is not exactly PB material. In fact, it is 5 mins slower than my normal time for that distance. Who cares as the marathon was just brill!

The splits on the 2.09 website make impressive reading. We aimed to go out easy and I finished in 156th, with Dave in 157th. However, our slpits for the last 7-8 miles were the 27th fastest on the course. Nuts! Bonkers! Twice now we have done that at this distance.

Perhaps I now need a lucky charm? Tanners in a couple of weeks and then Downlands Ultra at the end of July. There is a cheeky marathon that needs to pop into my radar along the way to complement these excellent events!!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

South Downs Marathon; Race report

Hopefully on the Ridgeway 85 mile race we don't attempt things that are too silly but today was a good laugh and a great day out....despite the issue with me bringing my bad luck to the arena of running perfection - the south downs.

The day started in QEII car park at the end of the Downs near Portsmouth. Immune met me in the car park and we caught the bus to the start. Deep in discussion about training plans (interestingly nothing about diet this time?!) mileage and what-not. We got on to discuss Garmins and I showed Dave the ding in my 310XT and that it would not be a good idea to do a triathlon as there was a crack in the glass, top right corner.

On to the start at Slindon College, despite a bizarre detour by billy the bus driver. Soon we met up with Sole Man aka Johnny Mac fresh from his tour of the MdS. It was like a who's who of ultra runners as we bumped into loads more people, Dave from Billericay Striders, South Down's Man and Mkie and George from ORR. George is incidentally using this as a cheeky taper for his Cotswold 100 mile challenge in 2 weeks. He looks amazing!! Then, shaking Johnny Mac's hand I realise my 310XT had fallen off....literally. No Garmin for the race, despite a search for about half an hour. Thanks btw, for the help Immune.

On to matters running and after a look at the course profile of 5728ft and a hot day, it was with intrepidation that we set off. The first 4 miles felt tough as they were all uphill to 650ft and on the Downs. Stunningly beautiful vistas punctuated with nutters on mountain bikes hurtling toward you and lots of walkers. Occasionally a relay runner would shout and charge past. CP1 was at the foot of a 700ft hill so a welcomed refuel and onto CP2. This time of year is amazing, nightingales and larks punctuate the air with trill tunes and the crops take on a wave like compression and rareifaction movement in the wind. We were bimbling along at theis point and at CP2 we made half way in 2.04. Leg 3 was the toughest and time to take control of the race. I had been feeling a bit rough from 1-5 and from 9-13. This soon somehow disappeared and Dave, who had been positively chatty got down to running the most difficult leg with me as we began to overtake more and more runners. At mile 18-19 Stuart Mills; of wave 2 came storming past up the hill and then across the top of Harting Down (a vicious climb) at 7 minute miles. Dave shouted out..."Stuart Mills", I turned round to cheer him on and promptly stacked it into the dust! Marathon 13 struck again! How amazing to see a 40 something balding Professor fly towards the finish. I was fine by the way!!!

Mad dogs and marathon runners go out in the midday sun. This was Immune and UltraBobban in the zone. 18-26 miles were our fastest splits for the whole race and mile 20 saw a 7.10 mile. We whizzed to the finish up and down, up and down just rehydrating on water as we had enough fuel to finish. This is 2 marathons in a row that we have blitzed the last quarter. Our splits from Dave's watch show this was the fastest part of our race. Indeed, my attempts at picking up a relay runner and allowing him to draft me down the hill for 1/2 mile while having a chat was just completely insane. Turkey mincemeat quads or what?!

Sitting down at the finish after a 4.11.32 with a beer and a chat with George was great. I managed to pick up a new 310XT from Up and Running in Dulwich for £ expensive day out but at least there will never again be a marathon 13.........

Saturday, 5 June 2010

the long road

There are probably some ultra runners that will laugh at covering 91km in a week. I've just upped to that from 80km and am going to go through another 2 weeks until I hit 100km a week in mid-June. There are a few sacrifices; Friday at the pub, saturday and sunday lie-ins and non-running social life. Having said that, the miles are coming and going and I am trying not to have junk miles; i.e. coming home and running for 45 mins and just getting warmed up. Better to have a day off and run 15 miles the next day rather than 2 x 7.5 miles. This morning was a pleasant but slow run, after getting up early I read for a while and missed the start of the club beginners so had to catch them up but had a nice chat with Eric on our run afters. Crown green bowling on Peckham Rye Bowls Club after the race tomorrow. I believe this will be the first outing into bowling land for me.

Onto matters running. A week to go to the SDM and hopefully the weather will cool down. I have just been reading Mark Hartell's blog (uber ultra-runner and Bob Graham round in 14:54 and record holder for the Paddy Buckley (the hardest round in the UK at 18:10) and am jealous at the cool temperatures that some of the Northern events are run in. OK, my run is only oging to be 26.2 and a few thousand feet of climbing but I would rather run cold that hot. Track back to summer 2008 with a run in Phoenix, Arizona where I dived into the swimming pool at the end of my run and was sweating from the only point of my body above the head. 2 hours later and I was still sweating in an air-con room after running in 44 degree heat. Now switch this with 3 days prior and running in the Grand Canyon......30 degrees at the canyon edge but as soon as you hit the ravine hundreds of metres below, it was soooo cool.

Note to self....must run GC again oneday.

So the the SDM. A lightish week planned with a club race 10k tomorrow, run to and home. 15 miles on monday and 12 or so tuesday followed by rest until saturday for the SDM. Looking forward to running with Jezza and discussing tactics for the Ridgeway. I have scoped hotels and recorded all of the checkpoints for the crew. Sadly, I have recorded the event by printing out some crew t-shirts. Susie and Astrid are going to crew for the 3 of us. Note to self 2; get them a nice hotel!!! SDM will be in the new road shoes with 2 600ml bottles of Georges Game water melon and 2 buzz bars. Hopefully Immune will finish near abouts our time and we can have a cider with Jezza....and plan the 50th Summer Tanners Surrey Hills 30 miler together.

Sunday, 30 May 2010


Orchid at Wilmington End, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Walking on the South Downs today brought me to life. A luncheon of game and good cider followed a walk up and beyond the Long Man of Wilmington where I photographed this orchid. Having run this way on a number of occasions it has drawn me to next weeks South Downs Marathon and my utter love of running these chalky Downs.

After my 3rd week of 80km I am pleased with my progress. Dropped some mass and have strengthened the core. Had a great 18.5 miles yesterday and am ready to jump to 90-95km next week. Now I need to finish the consumption of the days other delicacies.....Suicider and ImPearMent; A top class cider and a perry from Middle Farm picked up earlier today which has left me thinking about what I would like to consume on the finish line of the Ridgeway Challenge.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

UltraBobban at the end of stage 5

Not sure how to feel about this one. Much faster than last year and at least an hundred increments hotter. Wow. Felt good in the last 8-10 miles and despite the new socks, felt like I could do it again tomorrow.

Green Belt relay

Don't these beautiful people look they should have run faster???!

GBR start 2010 Hampton court

GBR start 2010 Hampton court, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

It started at about 8.00am. Green Belt Relay. 220 iles around the best parts of outer London. With the Nuns and the Gimp People we were unsure about arriving early as there were possibly some late night stragglers but a superb day as DPR managed for the first time to field 2 full teams. Looking at the competition, it was tougher than last year. 10 more teams, no jokers in the pack and lying 36th and 32nd with mixed teams was a hard task. Tom came 7th today in his leg, Chris managed 14th and me, 21st. A really really good field that have seen DPR in the last 5 in nearly every stage. Having said that, what a beautiful race with so many great people. It's no wonder we are now making this a permanemt race fixture in our calendar.

My leg, Great Kingshill to Chipperfield, only 13.5 miles but with 14 tomorrow and both the hardest legs of the course, I feel a bit tired before my ascent of the Downs for a couple of hours tomorrow.

Can't Wait

Monday, 17 May 2010

Let's go!

Let's go!, originally uploaded by ultraBobban.

Well I have my 100 mile plan from Immune. I have now fully organised the crew for the Ridgeway as Mrs Ultrabobban and Astrid are being just brilliant and helping out. Work has taken its toll on the mileage as I managed 79km last week and will struggle to hit that again this week. I feel like I should be moving up to about 90km+ within the next couple of weeks.

Injury is not as much of a worry as it was last week. The speedwork session in the Brooks T5s did me no good at all. I managed 9 laps of the track with recovery at about 4.50s but after donning the cushioned Asics it was a stiff run home and had to pull out of the fast group at the club the next day. Having said that I had been at a conference in Nottingham all weekend with my good buddy, "greaseless Bengay" Kenneth (don't ask) and we did a fantastic Nottingham Parks and Gardens 8.50 in well-sub 8s. That after a fair few wines the previous night and a morning run too.

It's the Green Belt Relay this weekend so at least I know I have a couple of tough 14 milers in a row. Can't wait!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Ready for the summer

Decided this morning on waking up that the best thing not to do would be the Orpington marathon. Perhaps it was the thought of unlucky "13" or the prospect of running down the A21, the fact that there were just 24 competitors last year. Maybe it was the notion that Eric was not running or even the remote possibility that my legs were empty and I had 3 ciders last night. Anyway I opted for a nice chatty 12 with Isidro from the club and heling out at the beginners. A new Haglofs top for my birthday from mum got a good outing and is very comfortable (along with a Ronhill Singlet...cheers Mum!), as are the Sunwise sunglasses, although I opted to leave these at home today. Owing to a metal fence post on the Neolithic marathon I am awaiting my new Asics Cumulus 11s to arrive and to top this off, I am heading off to Decathlon for some new shorts as mine are shot to bits in the nether regions as spotted by Immune on Sunday! Enough of shopping!

85.45km this week and a busy week at work so quite pleased with that.

Dave Immune has sent me the training plan for the Ridgeway 85 and I am feeling confident after our chat at Neolithic last week. at the moment, 50 miles a week until the end of May is the schedule. June will see a gradual hike from 60 to 65 miles a week and we should be on 70 miles a week by July, peaking at 85 miles in the first week of August. This fits right in with my summer 6 weeks holidays so I am happy.

I have runs coming up that I have entered and club runs:

Green Belt relay: 22/23 May
Dulwich Park Runners Summer League 6 June
South Downs Marathon 12 June
Eltham 5 13 June (plus run there and back, 7 each way)
Mersea round the island 13

and have further plans to run South Downs Ultra and at least 4 more marathons. I am not planning on running in excess of 30ish miles for my longest runs owing to recovery time but am planning to run at least 10 miles the day following a marathon.

I am looking forward to the Mersea round the island half as it is a nice course, apart from the first mile and a half on sand and the penultimate mile on sand. Last year I found my Dad waiting at the finish line with a can of Carlsberg Export. Fantasitc! No wonder I did a PB

Monday, 3 May 2010


Well the 6 miles at 8.30s turned into 8 at 8.15s this morning. Recovery runs don't often make me feel good about anything really but this morning was a breath of fresh air. There is something cheeky about running early on a Bank Holiday. Am I meant to be at work? Is this like bunking off? Well if it was, and it is (!) it was a worthy use of morning with a 2 mile run to Dulwich Park gate and a flat run that dropped to 7.50s with a great chat with Eric saw me sweating in the unseasonably cold May morning. There were so few souls about that it appeared in my mind to be a bit post-apocalyptic but my thoughts waned to the excellent 1000 mile compression socks that seemed to be making my legs feel better.

A slight niggle in the left knee after a couple of stoppages but with a rounded up 8s at sub-8.30s I felt that the conversation with Anna yesterday was a good idea. Batter some resilience into those legs and the long long sessions will feel less of a chore. The probability of the Orpington marathon on saturday seems good, suffice to say that a couple of days rest and plenty of good quality vegetables and salads will perk me up will be a good thing. I have heard on the grapevine that a mystery runner will be running Orpington. I think I know him but I will wait to see if he turns up in "those" hotpants on the start line. If I could keep up then I am fitter than I thought I was but if not, this is training and the bigger picture is the most important thing. Immune is going to send me the training plan for a 100 miler. Can't wait