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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Gatliff 50km Ultra - Race report

Gatliff XC Ultramarathon by ultraBobban
Gatliff XC Ultramarathon, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
I nearly hit the alarm and kept counsel under the duvet but instead, at 5.00am, put the kettle on for some strong coffee and a hot shower to wake me from my slumber.

Anyway, with a small stop off for a bacon bap (thanks to Costa at Esso) I bimbled down to the start and by the time I'd sorted out compression socks and body glide, the legends that are Jezza Ultra Magic Forest and none other than the emperor of the ultra; George Celtic Tiger, fresh back from GUCR glory.

Start to CP1.

The Garmin required some maintenance at the start so a 7.45 kick off allowed the morning air to lighten up. It was overcast and miserable. We had a new recruit, Barry, or as he is now affectionately known; Bazza. It wasn't 1.5 miles into the course that we stopped and perused the directions as we realised they had been put together by someone insane. 10 mins running around a golf course looking for markers. Over the railway and away we went. Through and out of Edenbridge and towards Tandridge. Now I have looked on Google maps, across the affectionately known "Rabies Heath Road" which conjurers up all sorts of insanity and frothing at the mouth.....oh yes; Ultra Runners.


Frustration for me here as I thought I knew where I was going after Merv had directed us incorrectly (through no fault of his own; an experienced man that he is) owning to piss poor instructions. After feasting on Jelly Beans, we were all in a better mood and the profanity polluted the Kent and Surrey with our disgusting language.

I bought a cheap 2MP video camera from Ebay that weighs in at about 25g. I'm not Spielberg but I'm practising!

The CPs kind of blend in to one another now but we crossed the M25 and up the North Downs escarpment, ensconced in smutty jokes about ejaculation and the like. 116 steps up the hill and I sensed that I had a bit of oil in the tank for the day.

I was beginning to take more interest in the directions as we had gotten lost a couple of times now and wasted an hour or so, although it was all shits and giggles. We got to a road crossing and what could be described no less than an "utter codpiece of a woman" retorting at my statement about the LDWA directions. "THESE......are not LDWA directions!!" she said. The directions were clearly wrong but she could not resist attempting to remonstrate about teh aboricultural error in the handout. "It can't possibly be that says Cypresses and those....are Scots Pines". After a merry dance down a big hill we reverted to route one and went back to the site and indeed found the Cypresses.....which in actual fact were Leylandii.

Rule number One. Never, ever listen to an old fucker who looks and sounds posh and haggard enough to know.

Lunch was a village hall that had been converted into a sauna at Woldingham. Milky teas and 3 sandwiches later, we decided to head off under the amazing directions that stated turn left......with the organiser stating that we follow the arrow...pointing RIGHT!

From this point on I really enjoyed the race. I felt light on my feet and from CP3-4 whizzed along, talking to George and following poles and even adding extra miles onto the clock while Jezza and Bazza followed us across hill and down.

CP4 was the best of the lot. Some of the marshalls actually had humour.....which was nice. Not only that, they had a great camper van for dogging. Wow.

High on endorphins by now my brain was saturated with the feel good buzz that does not go until at least Wednesday and we hopped across fields (of clay) with vim and vigour. We connived to celebrate Bazza becoming an ultra athlete through Westerham and indeed he did! Good show Baz.

Between CP4-5 I feel a little bad as I should have said to the boys that I wanted to go for it. We came up the Vanguard Way off the North Downs, then onto the Greensand way and towards Chartwell. There were a couple of real killer climbs and I felt like running both up and down at this point. Baz was about with me and then 2 fellas from Reigate running club came past and we got chatting....and then I twisted my ankle. Stopped. Panicked...and then thought...Go!

Then I took a tumble. Don't read maps when running over tree roots. Head over heels and back up with only a key stab mark in my thigh to prove it.

I soon realised that heading though Chartwell and back down towards Crookham Hill that I was miles in front. By CP5 I saw Bazza at the out and back and G and J about 10 mins later. I took a gamble on doing this on my own.

CP5 to the finish was lots on me talking to myself, going wrong 3 times and hydrating. A lot of this was fairly flat and mainly wind behind stuff. he watch hit 33 miles and I knew the finish was close........and then it hit 35 and finally I came into the Edenbridge sports and social club to no applause but a firm pat on the back to oneself on a job well done. According to the legend Jezza, 3825ft of climbing and in excess of 100 styles and kissing gates, many many gates to lock and unlock, slippery slopes, steps, killer hills and no wonder it took 7 hours 43 mins! I think the course record will stand for a while at 5 hours.

Sorry I didn't wait for you both at the finish. 20mins later Bazza came in and by then my legs seized up so I needed to be home and in need of a good cider. These guys are legends and just amazing to run with.

Thanks for a super day chaps and good luck at Brecon next week

Thursday, 24 November 2011

SDW100 I'm in!

Orchid at Wilmington End by ultraBobban
Orchid at Wilmington End, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Deck the halls with blah blah blah........Deck the nips with

I'm in SDW100. The Elson massiv. My favourite running grounds on Gods earth. End of June 2012, 3 weeks before my wedding to the delectable Mrs UB. Please sign up for crewing duties etc. I am over the moon and hopping mental for this event.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Long run is back

london bridge by ultraBobban
london bridge, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I felt a little bad as I missed the club champs 5k this morning, had a little sneaky extra lie in and then plenty of coffee and headed down to Greenwich. I can follow a small river and get to the Thames crossing only a couple of roads so amazingly traffic free for about 6 miles. Under the footbridge and out across the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.

Despite a river wind, it was warm and I was over-hot in a merino wool top and short sleeve top. Running around Limehouse basin and along the Regents canal is never a dull run. I find the architecture, graffiti, wildlife and the constant dodging of cyclists, runners and walkers along the route. The only time I really run in the countryside is when I race, but urban squalour and deep-seated decay afe just the tonic for a loping strider through the byways of Hackney, Islington and Shoreditch.

I often read Jezza's blog and get jealous about the North Downs at dawn, but have to concede that my prep is far more low key; take a tenner and cash card. Start running. Luckily I never have to carry anything as I can just stop at a shop. Today I tasted for the first time, Cola Capri Sun. Amazing! A first for rehydration. Anyway I realised that the clock was ticking so I zipped along to Islington, then a Southerly turn towards the river again and back home.

A consideration of mine has been to remove my beard, something that has been growing for 5 days...however, it seems they are on a comeback. Shoreditch and Hoxton were awash with hirsute hommes.

Viva la long run!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Wheels off

I've been ill this week. Horrible, horrible virus with lots of and cold. Time to recoup and get some energy back.

All being well I will have a sort of LSR 20 on Saturday, which will include the club champs 5km on Saturday morning. The course is undulating but I have been training in CP Park which is a beast. I'll run the 5 miles there and race.....have a sit, chat and re hydrate as Mrs UB is driving down to compete in the same race. I'll hopefully find a running partner for the next 10plus and then saunter home for a relax. This is my mini-ramp-up before Gatliff. All being well, this should be OK. If not....???

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Double Race Saturday

Driving road by ultraBobban
Driving road, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Some things come unexpected and this weekend was one of those running weirdness-es. Friday night, rolled in after a 60+ hour week at work and felt like doing nothing over the weekend. Got up Saturday feeling lethargic but ready to trot round Parkrun at Palace. Now CP Parkrun is not flat. 247ft of climb over the 5km route. It is very twisty and turny and most of the club say that this adds about a minute onto the time.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I pb'd by 16 seconds and came 8th. Following that, an 8 mile bimbly warmdown at about 8s, cleaned the house, chatted with the 12 ladies thathad come round for the double baby shower, chowed down on a bacon buttie and then left for the second race of the 2XU cross country league.

I felt pretty tired on lap one of the race and having gone off a bit fast (erm.....6s) I gained a good pace at about 7.15s but it was a very congested race. A simple non-technical course around Epsom Downs but hard to overtake unless the long grass was the best way. Tappo came in 29 mins, followed by Chris, Rich, Smithy and then I managed to almost clip Tom P at the line. We had a full turnout and Glen even came in 11th with a sub-40.

Having a busy week of late things going on I know I'll struggle to get in the 55 miles I did this week but at least a 8 mile recovery this evening has filled be with tiredness and some hope. Bring on Gatliff!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hot Action

Hallowe'en by ultraBobban
Hallowe'en, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Back in the black as one might say. A nice 14 miler on sunday, 7.5 hilly but slower recovery run and a hilly 10 mile club run tonight. It felt magic to leave work about an hour earlier than normal but got in early to do stuff so felt vindicated. I took the club run to a new hilly route with relentless long hills to put hairs on the chest of a really big group of 15 in our category tonight.

Gatliff looms and I am slowly building up the stamina and positive mental attitude to be on my feet for possibly 6 hours plus. All being well this should be a 50+ mile week so am feeling back in the hot zone

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Withnail and I moment

Bampton Phone box by ultraBobban
Bampton Phone box, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

If you have not seen the film "Withnail & I" then I suggest you do. Download, rent or buy the best film known to humanity. I spent at least 20 seconds in the phone box of said film 2 weeks smelled of wee.

I'm now in GATLIFF mode. I have a nice 14 miler under my belt this morning with another few to come from my 2 run a day sunday run. Despite turning my ankle on an unseen discarded coke can at the top of the Norwood Ridge (aka Crystal palace) and a bruised ankle, I knocked out 14 lovely miles with Beardo and Tom H. More your mum jokes than you can shake a stick at and some time discussing poo and social housing....although not together. up though Sydenham, Forest Hill and down to Beckenham Place Park, Kelsey park and then back up into London.

Now I have realised that the problems of swollen and bruised ankles rest in long distance driving, I am vowing to drive less for long periods........and tackle the Gatliff Marathon (50km) where the course record is a v slow 4.54.......I can only imagine it is a quagmire.....

get IN!