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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.