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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Awesome year

This time last year I was returning to Mersea Island for Xmas with the folks and a run round the Island.

Looking back sat in our lovely cottage in south London and awaiting both families to arrive for an amazing Xmas I can reflect on an awesome year. Not only did I get married to Mrs UB, which was the most amazing day ever, we had the perfect honeymoon in Sri Lanka.

On a running front, it was all about one first 100, the SDW100. Firstly, I wanted to finish (readers will remember that 2 years ago, a leading consultant at King's said I would never run a marathon again after breaking my leg in 3 places...."maybe some light jogging Sir") a 100 miler and catch up with great buddies David Immune, Jezza and George. Not only did I want to do that but I wanted to prove that I could do it. I then set a goal of finishing in under 24hours. I did this too! Add in another 11 marathons and ultras and 2028 miles (3264km) so farand I've had an awesome year......not the quickest, but the furthest.

Here are some stats:

SDW100 - 23hrs 30 mins

12 marathons and Ultras

18 races in total.

Fastest marathon 3.43 (slow by my standards.......I did want to go sub 3.15 this year and never got near to even my PB)

Highest placing: 9th Bewl Water marathon (I won't count the 1st place lost on the last 1.5 miles of the Founders Marathon!)

5 x marathon/ultra top 20 placings

Slowest marathon - Gatliff 50km (actually 58km of mud bath and flood) 8.03 in appalling conditions and still came in 17th!

Fastest race: Stage 11 of Green Belt Relay 7.6 miles in 51 minutes, 6.35s on a cross country course through fields and a highest GBR placing for me of 7th.

Favourite race of the year: SDW100

Total miles so far 2028 miles (3264km) with a week to go.

So, to targets for 2013..............

SDW100 where I will aim for a sub 22 hour 100.

Another 100 to be decided.....

Winter Tanners 30 in a couple of weeks, followed by St Peter's Way 45 mile in Feb. No doubt the Stinger, Bewl and 3FM will feature as they are favourite events. I think that 2300 miles is not unachievable and I would still like to think that I can go a bit quicker........

.....finally a word about Mrs UB. She is in for London Marathon 2013, which will be her 3rd Mara. Support and training provided by Mr UB of course.

Happy Xmas and happy running to everyone!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Catching up with the year behind.......looking ahead 

I purchased some new trail second pair of Saucony Peregines gave up the ghost after 2 ultras. Jon Broxap himself had sent me the second pair but with only about 120km in them, they fell apart. So, a switch to a pair of Inov8 Roclite 255 trail shoes. Light, nice wide toe box and near to zero drop.  They feel much more robust, without shirking on protection.

I'm looking back over the last year in the next few days. Looking back at the achievements of the year. At the same time I am going to be looking forward to an even bigger and better year for 2013. I've got 2 firm plans for big runs.....but more of that later.

I've not downloaded my Garmin to the PC for a month or so but my weekly mileage has ensured that I topped 2000 miles for the year a little while ago. That said, the last 5 months has been far less so the first half of the year I was topping 60 miles a week. All said, 12 marathons and ultras including the SDW100, my longest event yet, I am pretty happy with the way the year has panned out. I always feel like I could have done more, trained harder, run faster, thought more. However, 2 years ago I was sat here blogging having been told I would never run a marathon fair play.

I've just started training again after a few weeks of light running. The Tanners 30 is in 3 weeks. St Peters Way 45 is a few weeks afterwards. Mrs UB will be training for the marathon so we will be training together. I have had an amazing 2012. Can't wait for 2013

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Entry to Winter Tanners confirmed

keria in the snow by ultraBobban
keria in the snow, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

One of the highlights of the year. The LDWA Winter Tanners. £4 entry to the 30 mile event and what an event it is. There is a stellar line up with friends and fantastic ultra runners taking part. Last year was very cold at the start....-3 and the year before it was snow. What will be the conditions for this most excellent round?

The route is different each year but takes in the same landmarks.....Tanners Hatch, some bench for an LDWA founder and Blatchford Down.

What you have to do is follow the instructions as it is very easy to go......"it's this way......" when we've done countless marathons and ultras on the same ground and getting lost is NOT an option!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Confirming my entry to St Peter's Way Ultra

Thankfully Jezza's blog reminded me of the St Peter's Way 45 miler in February and that he is sweeping the event.

I've put my entry in. Now St peter's is the church at the end of the flat coastline of mid-Essex, not too far as the crow flies from my own St Peter.....or my Dad to be precise.....who will be 70, just 4 days after this event.

I think a bottle of St Peter's ale at the end of this event with St Peter himself! My dad loves an ale.....and I'll duly carry one 45 miles to the finish. Shaken, not stirred!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Gatliff Race Report

.............So if you look in the dictionary under Gatliff, it reads: Not easy, wet, challenging.......different every time. Fun!

So we headed down this morning at early doors, down the chicane of the high st in S. London as the drunkards were rearranging the cones into a street montage.

Down to Edenbridge and a change of tack as we had to change the route as a fallen tree blocked the road by Chartwell.

Sue B and I arrived at the start, signed in and then as per LDWA events (sorry, I think you'll find it's not LDWA but COPSE events - only Jezza will find this funny!) and started off without any pomp nor ceremony. Within a mile we were joined by a chap with the map reading skills of an ant. The gentleman who shall remain nameless made a number of significant errors in the first 5 miles.......I listened to him not a jot, but there were always cross words....."No it is not that way.......If you ACTUALLY read the directions, that will not come up until the NEXT paragraph......"

And so Matt Biggin, ultra legend and a tough man of muscle, sinew, brain and braun caught us up in no time, went wrong, caught up again and went off again. My duty was to stay with Sue on her first ultra since meeting Jezza and George in 2008. Matt was incidentally on that very same race!

CP1 at Toys Hill came and went and after a while I said to Sue that she should not follow this chap who couldn't navigate. We ran on and I ran to the next turn/stile/gate and waited. In about 25 metres, both were having a chit chat and missed me pointing, shouting and waiting and ran straight on. I didn't see Sue again but she said that at CP2, just 6 miles further I was 30 mins ahead.

So, through the wet, waterlogged fields, streams, bogs, floodplains and even streams running down paths I forged. I had been running with 300+ marathon legend Peter and 100 marathon legend Jackie and I managed to catch up with them again after about 6 miles. The trails of trail shoes grew thinner in the mud as fewer runners were in front of us. CP2 came and went and CP3 in Chiddingstone village was a good stop for soup, sandwiches and a cup of tea. 10 mins later we were back on the trail.

Now this part of the course was hard going. Not that the first half was easy. The water and mud were obstructive enough to keep the first 30km to nearly 4 hours 25 mins! Yes! Going was soft and slow.

Out of CP3 the head was down and the grinding out of this event began. The Garmin was showing the CPs were not even slightly out but a long way. If this were just me, I would have laughed it off because we all make minor mistakes on these self-nav routes but by now, we were all celebrating a cheeky half back to base.


So onward through undulations....never really going as high as the 771ft Toys Hill. and often dropping into flooded river valleys.

CP4 at Cowden, we realised that the round was going to be long. Not a problem, in terms of distance, but the Weald mud was like Blu-tac and the running across fields was far greater than I had done in any race before. In fact, if we weren't running across a field, we were running around one.

Out of CP4 we got a move on. Ultra-Shuffle style. Rain came down, stopped, then came down again. We lost one of our group who decided to walk the rest of the way with Merv. Merv had not come in by the time I had left after waiting for Sue.

On up to CP5 at Dry Hill and the long drag up through the woods was run and not walked. Footprints ahead were fewer further between. We hit Dry hill CP with 31 miles on the watch, going wrong perhaps rarely.

At CP5 we were overtaken by the course record holder, which I am sure you can Google. Despite a "Hi, how are you.....looking good, moving well despite these conditions....." a total blank from the chap.....rather rude I thought. As far as ultra colleagues have made me aware, they seem to think he designs the routes. Whether they are right or not.....this guy was totally rude. Nuff said.

CP5 was allegedly 3.6 miles from the finish.........Well it was 5 miles. We had waded through the last 6-7 miles of pure mud and water, save for the odd 850m on tarmac. Down by the River Eden, it was wet. The river was ripe for bursting, with the water tantalisingly close to breaking the bank and rushing over the flood plain. As light faded, we made the last mad dash over the aerodrome, 6 inches deep in water and back to the start.

I've run the last 40 miles of a 100 miler quicker! This took me 8 hrs and 3 mins. Sue came in 90 mins later. A piping hot shower, hot dog and soup later and all was well. Not a drop of cider in sight, despite running through the domain of my favorite Chiddingstone Bone Dry Cider country.

Gatliff we love you......58Km instead of 50? Hmmmmm.

Will I be back next year?

Does a badger shit in the woods?!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Gatliff approaches

The hardest 50km on the calendar approaches. Gatliff, which is a looop of the North Downs and The Weald....course record 5hrs 34.....yes the record is that! I think it might be beaten this weekend as there are a few non-W100 running it that I know.


It is tough
It will rain
It will be very muddy underfoot


It is tough
It will rain
It will be muddy underfoot
We might get lost
Especially if there are wrongly identified trees

Monday, 12 November 2012

Washed out

Mystical water B&W by ultraBobban
Mystical water B&W, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Just as I was waxing lyrical about feeling the buzz of running lots........I get sick. I had to take a day off work as felt sick, had virtually no sleep, then, after calling work and emailing in instructions for the day, it was back to bed for 6 hours and after a bath, then a blanket in front of the TV with the heating on full beginning to feel better. I hate being ill. I also don't like not running, but there are times when a run might undo the good recovery work.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Ron Hill-ing it through the autumn colours

Central Park pathway by ultraBobban
Central Park pathway, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I love this time of year. The colours of gold, copper, bronze, sanguine red and fading to brown leaves on the trees and on the pathways and parks of leafy South London.

I think it is a response to stress at work but I have felt much better running every day. I have now managed 8 days in a row. I must admit that Friday evening was a bit tough, especially as I had picked up Mrs UB from hospital in the West End where she has had a cyst removed from her vocal cord. All is absolutely fine but she is not allowed to speak for two weeks. I felt guilty about going out so kept that to a minimum 6k and a quick one at that. That has been the shortest run by far. this morning I ran with Glenn, then ran with Sue. Yesteryday I marshaled Crystal Palace Park Run. It was chucking it down so there was a dwindled field and had I have run, would have probably been in the top 5-10 runners! But then went out and did some wet miles up to Streatham and back.

I'm loving the running everyday........just need to get some more kit!!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Ultra training route of interest: Little London to Big Brother

New Cable car over London by ultraBobban
New Cable car over London, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I've been sitting here with the builders in so have not been able to go out much....except to pop to the shops.

In addition to the school work I have been catching up on, I have scoped out a really cool "Country to Capital" route which involves a train out into the sticks of deepest darkest Essex. I'm calling it Little London to Big Brother. Essentially it starts at the hamlet of Little London near Stocking Pelham on the Essex/Herts border not far from Stansted airport. it follows the route of the river Lea from source to confluence with the Thames at Leamouth with the finish being the Trinity house Wharf opposite the 02. This is only one of the possible routes as the Lea starts at Leagate near to Stevenage and 4 other locations.

I thought that with a nearby train station, the route of 35 miles could be completed as a training run and with a small camera, charting the route of the Lea Channel would be an interesting experience as well as good training. There is a really cool 50s diner at Trinity Wharf for a fat burger at the end.

I am planning on doing this in the next couple of months so please contact me via twitter or Facebook if you fancy a bimble!


No climbing by ultraBobban
No climbing, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

My legs feel like lead. Tight. Knotted. I have perhaps struggled to get some form after the Dublin marathon. What I should have done is go out next day, but car journeys and flights have left me a bit tight. Hence, my 2 runs of 10k and 11k with continuous hills have been slow and very recovery like. Next stop......Gatliff. Perhaps the toughest 50km race around.

Last year I ran Gatliff with Jerry and George. There were only 4 runners who achieved under 6 hours, giving you an indication of the terrain, the map work and the sheer hardness of it all. This year I might give it some more beans as there is a lot of track that is on the Founders Challenge, of which, with my getting lost, was 50k in 2 hour 20 mins quicker than I ran Gatliff last year.

I'm confined to the house today as I have the builders in doing much overdue work on the old upstairs bathroom, now bedroom, so will not be out running but will get in a long run tomorrow to start the week.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Race Report - Dublin Marathon

Well it being my first overseas marathon I was quite excited! Having put in no training at all and been sick to the point of taking a couple of days off work......(I didn't, but struggled through Thursday and Friday, hoarse, dehydrated through constant nasal blowing and coughing) and then up at 5am to fly to Dublin where we stayed with the awesome Jen and Keith in their new house in the West of Dublin.

After an afternoon of walking around Dublin City centre and having picked up my number from the RDS in South Dublin (smooth organisation.....far more organised than VLM) I decided not to hang around the running stalls after a quick peruse to scout out any Ultras....and then it was off to the sights of Dublin city. Dinner was Thai at Saba where we quaffed plenty of rice, prawns, chicken and beef dishes, all washed down with a few large glasses of red. Returning home I quickly went into re hydration mode, bathed and went for an early night.

Up at 6am and after a smoothie and a bowl of cereal, Keith drove me to his office on the River Liffey in an area not dissimilar to London Docklands. I walked the mile and a half to the start which I was glad of as it was only 3 degrees and I needed to warm up. A coffee later and I was at the bustling bag drop, not too eager to rid myself of my warm gloves, coat and hoodie.

Although the marathon appeared very well organised, I spied a maximum of 8 portaloos for the elite (orange) and mid paced (green) start waves. I needed a dump but it could wait.......

Off to the start and it took about 2.5 mins to get over the start line in the "elite" group of about 4,000 runners. I oped for the rear of the group, but unbeknownst to me, there were plenty of green and blue (4.30-6.00 finishers!) runners in the way so I bode my time and after an 11 min first mile I was underway.

As city marathons go, I think this felt like it was going to be a good one. Aside from the odd idiot who often adorn the first few miles, cutting up all and sundry, it was a nice feeling with reasonable crowds and good city scenery. Passing the giant phallus and the famous GPO, we were now underway!

I ran the first quarter about on schedule.....not that I had a schedule....I was just happy to be running in the cold overcast morning, having not run for a week with a heavy cold. Last Tuesday night I left Woolway after a mile of the club run only to turn back and relieve my lungs of phlegm all over Dulwich. So, being at the back of the fast start suited me fine. Round granite city streets and up to Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo and around the top of the City was where I found some rhythm. The fog barely lifting across the panoramic view of the cityscape. Mrs UB and Jen were at mile 8.5.....I stopped for a chat and to see how they were.....they were off for a coffee. I then saw Glenn at 10, so stopped for a chat too. Within no time was halfway. Well oiled and well drilled scouts/boys/girl brigade thrust water, juice and gels at me as I hit the tenement greyness of Crumlin. I've never done a marathon on gels alone, but that is asll they had, so I duly took a couple and on I ran. Lots of the early nutters fell by the wayside and I was shocked to see so many pull up with cramp in the 13-18 section. I bimbled on, metronomic in my own pace. I looked at my Garmin about 20 times during this section, sure that the damned thing was jammed as the min/mile pace was exactly as it was at 8 miles! Frustrated by this I, and as I saw a lot of runners falling by the wayside, I hit the afterburners at 19. Usually, this is my favourite zone....acceleration is my best medicine. This usually lasts for the rest of a marathon and I was pleased to see that until 22.5, this was the case. Then, marathons find you out. If you don't train for this, it always gets you. Saunters across the countryside are good, but good hard 20+ weekly Sunday runs are what maketh the road marathoner. After hitting the city centre again, I felt a little hamstring issue, I slowed, pulled in the reins and glided through the last 4, focusing on form and soaking in the thousands that had lined the streets. I did lose some time here as I was on for about a 3.35.......not amazing, but the only training I have done since the SDW100 are long slow marathon runs, nothing quick.

The last mile was amazing. I can see why so many come back again and again for the adulation of tens of thousands of screaming fans.A cacophony of noise ensued as I headed through central Dublin, less than 500m to go and then a blaze of marshals shouting at everyone to sprint to the finish.

A most surreal moment enveloped me in a bubble. The whole street was carpeted green, the marshals screaming at every runner to race for the line and as tired marathoners, experienced or not exploded into a burst of last-gasp-speed for the became a war zone! I must have overtaken 50 people in the last 3-500m........hamstrings, quads, calves.........all giving way to unadulterated bravado.......

Strange......but funny all the same. No problems though as most hobbled across the line to pick up an amazing medal, t-shirt and bag. Awesome road marathon. Awesome organisation. I had picked up my bag, had a cider and a bag of monster munch in my hand within 10 mins of being over the line......and I walked 5 mins to an offie to purchase them anyway!!!

I'll be back Dublin.......but next time I'll have 16 weeks of road training under my belt!

Thursday, 25 October 2012


pants by ultraBobban
pants, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

I've mustered up a phenomenal 25km running in the last 5 days. OMG! What is going on? Sunday, no running. Monday, a lovely 9 mile continuous hills up and off the apex of the Norwood Ridge traverse and then a paltry 6 mile run with the club, which included 4 miles of me running before and a mile of running and a slow mile back.

I've been ill, had a heavy workload and have then taken work home. In fact, if I didn't have to do what I had to do, a couple of days in bed dosed up and in a warm cocoon would have been the tonic. So now I sit here feeling pants. Before you call the Police, dear reader, this is a metaphor for illness, rather than some washing line knicker thief-type of feeling PANTS!

I'm off overseas this weekend to go and visit friends and have been tidily roped into an overseas event which, not my liking-style of event, will still be a test of guile and mettle.

I'm just using it as a way to see the sights.

I'm now booked in for the SDW100 for 2013. Having run 23 hours this year I am going to aim for something much better next year. With a bit of luck and a lot of training, I think a target of sub 21 will be my goal. This will be the first of my BIG BIG runs next year. I have a plan for a run longer than 100 but that will be kept close to my chest to avoid any unwanted attention until the event is due.

Meanwhile, I'll fight this cold and come back smiling after the weekend.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

recovery and a need for a map

Race HQ by ultraBobban
Race HQ, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Directions are one thing. Next time I do a self navigate marathon, I'll pack some sort of map.....and listen to no one! my directions have always been spot on....only when tiredness creeps in do I doubt.

Recovery run yesterday was a pleasant 10k at the club at 8.00s. I had a good catch-up with Woolway fresh back from his honeymoon and was great to have a chin-wag about Zambia and Tanzania, train journeys and the like. We did a flat route to Nunhead Cemetery and back around the Rye in Peckham. No getting lost here!

I've just taken delivery of a load of reading material today at work, including the acclaimed "Waterlogged" by doctor Tim Noakes.....a serious medical textbook read on overhydration and endurance events. On more lighter reading, histories on Docklands and London's hidden rivers which I will be running over the coming months. I have run the Ravensbourne and most of the River Peck, but now there is the Effra (which starts only a mile from here, the Wandle (I haven't run all of it) the Fleet and a load of others. I'm sure this will give me new areas to run around London and take Mrs UB on some well needed marathon training for her upcoming VLM in April. After she has done that, we will be thinking about kids......well dear reader, you heard it here first!!!!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

You've not won a marathon until you win it crossing the finish line!

16th Founders Marathon race report........ ('s not over until the fat lady sings......or........don't tempt fate!)

Driving down to Peaslake memorial Hall in the Surrey Hills, the temperature gauge dropped to just 1 degree. It had been colder as the local cars left outside the pub no doubt from the previous evening had a good frost on. pulling in I bumped into Helen, whom I had run the SDW100 with. Her and her group were going off earlier than the advertised start time, for a bit of a bimble.

By the time I had got my gear on and signed in, sorted out my drinks and food (only 3 checkpoints on this course) it was 955am, so i thought I would go a little early, just to warm up.

I ran alone for the first 5 miles, the first 1.5 miles a brutal climb out of the valley to 700ft along the trail. Mile 2-3 the directions were open to interpretation with the light trails crossing the path and no doubt I took a wrong turn and dropped back into the valley, only to spot the windmill which was a marking point on the route. If you are not a regular reader; LDWA events are non-marshaled, non-mapped written directions. They can be a little confusing at the best of times. I've snapped an example below!

 But it won't turn round the right way!

Anyway, I caught up with Anna who I ran with for about 3 miles. She was on marathon 43 and in good form. She said she couldn't keep up with my pace so we duly departed and I whizzed off on my way up to St. Martha's Hill, up a route I had not taken before to CP1. Spending just a couple of mins at CP1, I thanked the marshals and got on my way, and soon caught up with Helen and Anna Finn. Anna is a legend in ultra running circles....she has just come back from injury to the Plantar and Groin. We ran together for about 4 miles but after some confusion at mile 9-10 about a gravel path, we were on our way. I'm not even sure how we became separated, but we did, such is this business of XC marathons. Getting slightly lost as I accidentally turned over 2 pages of instructions and found myself in a stately home driveway. Quickly realising my mistake I about turned and up to the 900m climb and to the highest point of the course at 840ft above sea level. I was caught and overtaken by a group of 6 chaps who were running at a fair clip. I decided not to join but to go at my own pace which after joining the NDW and less of a need to follow the instructions.

I caught up with this group of 6, who then became 7 with me, then dropped to 6 as one chap fell off the back. Small talk and direction reading for the next 7 miles until CP2 was the name of the game.

The only real way to run these events is to keep a check on the directions and TRUST NO ONE! I say this in a positive way. Not 2 miles from CP2, but one of the group was followed without question and a mistake was made. I then took over and as we passed a few runners who were confused, I took the lead of the group. I felt good and realised that a couple of the chaps were struggling. Approaching CP2, we passed more runners, picked up hydration and some peanut butter sarnies and went off again. I was 9th through the CP

CP3 was 23 miles into the event. Within a mile there were 3 more runners passed and our group had dropped to 3. The next few miles were of that running ENDORPHIN that I love and crave. I felt smooth and checked my hydration, food and feet and all were great. I was on a roll! The chaps were now struggling a little and I pulled a few mins ahead, navigating my way. CP3 came up in no time. There were 2 guys there......both had started 30 mins before the official start time. We were now in the lead!

Ok, technically, these chaps were in the lead as I started 5 mins before. Could I take 5 mins out of them in the last 3.2 miles? Well I felt strong! Another mile went by and I took a 300m lead. I could hear the guys following me and I took a little walk break up a big hill. They caught me and then the DECISION.

We were at a 5 pointed trail divide. I had my eye on a path but the compass came out from one of the guys (Phil) and we chose a path. It is one of those defining moments when people (including me) try to make the directions fit the terrain. Scarily, we crossed 2 roads and followed fencing etc which was pretty damned close to what it should have been! It didn't pull off. I went one way further on. BIG MISTAKE! I ran on up the hill for what felt like forever. I found a walker with a map and realised I had gone wrong big time. I had no clue where I was and had made a mistake of not going back to the point that I was unsure. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, no map and a set of redundant directions, my first place slipped through my fingers like the Greensand I had just traversed!

Garmin compass engaged, I had a 5 mile run to the finish instead of 1.5! I legged it, hard and fast down country lanes. Nothing was taking me in the right direction, so I decided to take the law into my own hands......a back garden, a hand grabbing bramble shocking scramble up the steepest part of Hombury Hill, bracken above head height, a knee high stream, leg punctured twice by unseen barbed wire, a country estate and a fair few fences.

My first place was now in the realms of my dreams........Don't ever utter the words......."one of us is going to win" to anybody........

So I rationed my drink and sauntered over the finish line, powered by compass alone, 6 miles over the distance.....probably in some crap placing........but still felt that I had something in the tank. I'd prepped for a 26 and ended up doing 32 miles. It's not a problem. Thats what LDWA events are about.

So. The moral of this story is that it is not over until the fat lady sings. I had this event in the palm of my hands. I never have listened to others for directions......who know why I did this time. The thing was, it was such a good day for running, I have a small amount of frustration, but a huge amount of buzzing for such a good event!

Next time!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Eat and Run

So apart from a good read, this is what I am planning to do tomorrow. I have been extremely busy at work this last few weeks and as such, you will know that the miles have not been pounded away on the streets of South London, but have been hard at work instead training and planning at school. I don't often talk about the minutiae of school but today (yes, working on a Saturday!) has been awesome with amazing feedback from our Open Day.....a lot of hard work from all have come home for a relaxing saturday afternoon, a beer and some sport on telly, eating and relaxing ready for a marathon tomorrow.

As with the last marathon 4 weeks ago, i have kept this fairly low key. The wife, Eric, Beardo and George know about it but that's about it. in 2010 I was in canny fine fettle and off the back of the UK Ultra Distance Champs where I came in 42nd place, not 6 weeks later I came into the finish in a bullish 7th place.

This year is a different story. Short of autumn miles, hard at work in arguably the quickest improving school in South London, my training has taken 3rd place to work and home improvements. Nevertheless, I am going to hit the trails of he North Downs with vim and vigour tomorrow and give it the best that I have to offer. The kit, unusually is out already. I'm hitting the trail in minimalist Saucony zero drop trail shoes, my SDW100 race kit clothing (light) and the ultrAspire race bottle pack. We are looking at about 3000ft of hills tomorrow so my 7th place with 4 hrs 52 ( is that hard!) will be unlikely, but with self navigation and 6 marathons on the same(ish) stretch of hills, I am hoping that the day is a memorable run and the chance to catch up with some familiar faces and meet new ones.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dulwich 10k race report

Although I wasn't competing, I took some shots of the club event in our lovely local park. Here is a rather blurred picture of Beardo, sweating after only running 10 feet. As you can see, dear reader, he is a formidable chap, one who grunts and uses a simple sign language.

Aside from this distraction, the rest of the club fared well. Chrissie ran a PB in 37.57 and Richard ran 39mins. There are a few pics on my flickr that sum up the morning, which was ace. I then continued my run for another 21km over to Deptford and then Greenwich, turning back to run the Waterlink Way. One day I'll run it all, from source on the North Downs, down to the Thames.

I'm attempting to pick up the miles again after a slack couple of days. I seem to manage a good Sunday, monday, tuesday but then work takes over. There should be 50 base miles this week and ready for the longer run on Sunday.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Farnham Pilgrim Marathon. Race report

Hats off to the organisers of the Farnham Pilgrim. What an amazing marathon. This is the far end of the NDW and I don't often get down to here unless it is an LDWA event.

This was my 30th Marathon. Somewhat of a milestone I guess. There were no personal expectations as readers of the blog will know that since the SDW100 and achieving a sub 24 on challenging territory, I was somewhat bereft of my mojo for the last 11 weeks. Having done nothing more than about 15 lazy miles as a long run recently, I knew that today I was going to struggle. The run yesterday, along with the 2.5 hour coaching session had left me aching in new places but a big dinner of veg from the garden and pasta allowed me to have a few carbs course through my veins!

At the start I met Dave Immune in the car park. Dave looks in fine form, as lithe as a ginger greyhound (he'll kill me for stating this!) and was in no mood to entertain my plans to bimble around and use as a "get the miles in" run. "my run will start with a 3 in it" said Immune......

At the start I bumped into Helen who i had run with for the whole of the SDW100. As the gun went off, Dave started at the front and I ran with Helen. Not having LSRs in my legs I bade farewell to Helly at about mile 3 and ran at a comfortable pace. Being the Pilgrims' there are lots of churches along the way. To the keen reader, this may not seem such a problem, but many of these vestibules of Christianity are in prominent places and often atop hills. The climb up to St Marys is nothing short of brutal, made worse since the last 3/4 of a mile is in sand......

St mary's was close to the half way point and I felt pretty good. Unusually, I didn't really strike up much more than a few words with fellow runners and neither did they. Most went about their business. "You done this before?" "No, me neither....beautiful though isn't it?" "Fucking sand!" was the level of dialogue.

There was a cruel little climb and switchback at St. Catherines ruins at about 16 miles, then back down and along the river (or maybe it was a canal!) where the scenery was stunning. At this point I realised that I had left my ibuprofen in the car and my lower leg near to the break last year started to give me a little niggle. I still felt mentally fresh and my legs were working well.

Hitting 20 with a cheeky 10k to go I had passed maybe 50 or so runners who had perhaps gone out too quick and were walking not the hills, but the flat parts. Usually I switch on the afterburners and head off at a hard pace and bang out the last 10k faster than the rest of the race. Upon reflection, back towards St Lawrence's, maybe a slight change in my gait and cadence developed into a touch of cramp or some sort of muscular niggle, coupled with my lack of long miles left me wanting at about 21 miles. I wanted to get home injury free so dropped my pace significantly and as such, from a sub 4, to a finish of 4.12. Slightly disappointed not to sub 4 but upon finishing meeting up with Dave who did 3.38 after doing 3.15 a few weeks ago, realised that perhaps this was a tough old beast.

It was a beautiful run and really well organised event and for £20 with a medal, T-shirt, loads of food, amazing marshalls and well stocked aid stations, organisers of ridiculously expensive events need to take note!

Marathon #30. Done.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

What are the streets of London paved with?

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

As the rays of sun struggle to peer their way through tall buildings and trees as the autumn equinox approaches, I find myself looking at the social and income deprivation that surrounds our beautiful capital.

It all depends on where you run but like most South Londoners, you can't run far without crossing postcode borders, from classy big houses with gates to tenement facades and new-build legoland houses. Occasionally there is a bin upturned and unashamedly emptied across the pavements by festering foxes. Litter provides a good indicator as to the social deprivation of an area; whether from the dumped mattress or from cans of super strength lager or half eaten boxes of chicken and chips.

What I noticed as I was on my 7th run in 7 days earlier this week was the amount of men, mostly middle aged, drinking on the streets while walking, possibly home from work. London doesn't usually faze me but once I had my eye in, I could spot these ruddy faced fellas from a way away and then smell them as I strode by, avoiding litter and dog faces on the way.

The concentration of these chaps centred on areas of income deprivation so I ponder when running the indices of income deprivation now need to include these poor lost souls. I need to add that to the index of number of chicken shops per street, litter and dog faeces. A new method to the game of Map My Run

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Night Run (Downs NRG)

kent house by night by ultraBobban
kent house by night, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Downs NRG (Night Running Group) reconvened on Friday night not far from where we left off last time and after picking up Jezza, we headed to Foal Farm it was quickly into the evening discussion of Olympics, new backpacks and the recce for the October 16th run with the joining forces of possibly 3 running clubs worth of talent.

On a high elevation already, we headed for the old Spinning Wheel and looked to traverse the highest point in Kent. After just a mile or so, we switched to headtorches as the sun went down and we were in wooded territory.

Just then, a rustle in the scrub. A fox? A squirrel? No! This was massive! A bloody badger ran into our path, stopped us in mid stride and the bugger ran across my feet! Heavy little shits badgers are.

So on we went and after a pause to locate the highest point in Kent at 251m above sea level we headed slightly downhill and in search of the highest point on the Surrey part of the Downs. Not before we came across a field with blokes flying remote controlled planes in the dark. Could this night get any weirder?!

Onwards and to the ups and downs of the Downs and to the trig point cleverly hidden behind a tree between two masts and the highest Surrey Down was located. Back down the ridge and full of jovial Friday night banter. We arrived in no time at the pub for a pint of Stowford Press cider and 20 minutes of reminding ourselves of why we are real runners who run for runnings' sake and not for anything other than shits and giggles.

And back.......slightly slower, bellies full of apple juice. Until we were stopped by an Asperger's farmer who considered us for a short time as lamping Gypsies. Clearly we were sartorially different, minus greyhounds and rabbits......but we listened to the man who had a 19 inch neck and who gave up running to take ups......well we weren't going to mess. As he continued his monologue, we disappeared into the night and back to the car and then to civilisation. Downs NRG is alive and well and after another run just 10 hours later, I'm more than a little tired and enjoying a Kingston Episcopi 7.2% Botley Mill dry cider. wonderful

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Product review - Haglofs Endo GoreTex Jacket

The rain on the SDW100 hammered it down within 3 miles and I got wet. I purchased an OMM Kamelika 2 years ago and the coating that was so very impressive and waterproof then, sadly after some very wet ultras and marathons and even more wet winter training runs on the mean streets of South London finally gave up the ghost. I got seriously wet.

Then came wedding and honeymoon and I forgot about getting wet to the core until my run from Crystal Palace, up and along the Thames Path, round the Dome/02/North Greenwich Arena (delete as appropriate) and back through Greenwich park and along the Waterlink Way. It wasn't a long run (15 miles) and it wasn't winter....but it got me thinking......I need something better (btw, I was in a vest and shorts)

So, I took the plunge and invested in some good quality Gore-tex. This jacket from Haglofs retails at £230 so was not an impulse purchase.

The OMM Kamelika was £130 so hunting around on the web, I found the only size L (40 chest) in the marvelous Ellis Bingham shop (winter and extreme sports) and it arrived this morning (£172.00 in the sale). They even sent a txt stating it would arrive between 8.31 and 9.31am. Luckily I am school holidays!

So, the road test was a wait for the rain. This afternoon a downpour ensued so I cut off the tags and went out in the rain. Apologies for the crap pics from my phone!

The positives..........So the Haglofs Endo was a good fit. Not as long as the OMM jacket but a snug fit with lots of stretch in the arms and in the torso when turning around. It felt good to wear and after 30 mins of running was dissipating any internal moisture faster than anything I have worn before. The noticeable benefit was the sleeves. The OMM would gather condensation from the arms and the velcro fastenings would gather pools of moisture. This gathered no moisture and also did not pool. The mass of the jacket is 300g so is no heavier than your average winter thermal layer and stows into the size of an apple. Excellent.

Whilst on the arms........

There are thumb loops which offer protection from the wet/wind/snow etc which will no doubt keep the handies warm

Onthe underside, something a little more grippy but this may be discussed in the negatives......

The front is good with an easy access pocket which stayed dry, not only in the rain but in my shower test.....see later. I think this also looks pretty good too.

The hood is really close fitting and breathable. My barnet was dry, from rain and from perspiration. There are 2 drawstrings, around the hood face and around the back which pulls close to your head. This for me was counter intuitive as with the OMM, I had a billowing sail that would rival something off the Round the World Yacht race spinnaker, but I could hear and see. With this I could see and hear and didn't billow or buffet.

The negatives......

probably a crap pic but the drawstring round the base was not a great deal of use as for me with a 6ft 2 frame, the jacket came up perhaps a little short. I want to make sure that the crown jewels are kept in a non-soaked way so that after hours of cold wet rain, they still work.If the jacket was  longer would be great. The next size up would have been too big on the chest though.

Finally, lets get back to those hand grips. Great when it's cold, but an issue here is that to check the Garmin 310XT, is an effort. Unless you have the beeps on, getting a view of the watch is a bit of work and I hope over time does not stretch the fabric and compromise its waterproofness.

So many more positives than negatives and in the rain, this will be in my running kit for the Winter marathons and Ultras.

Finally, the "grey T-Shirt test"

I stood in the shower with this on with a grey t-shirt underneath for about 15 mins.....putting the shower on at  a number of different settings and angles. VERY IMPRESSIVE.

I think I have the upper body kit for quite a few Winter Rounds now. Gore tex appears to be better. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sinking feeling

Sinking feeling by ultraBobban
Sinking feeling, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

Recoveries are strange things....sometimes they are quick and unexpected. At other times, recovery is slow and there are setbacks along the way. There are not many people who I follow either via blogs, twitter or facebook that can race at their full potential week-in, week-out.

Normally it takes a good run on the North Downs Way to clear my thinking, blast away the cobwebs and set some new goals. Last week Eric and I did a route that I have done a couple of times, starting out at Knockholt Pound, through Otford and Kemsing. I really struggled. Yes, I had run 80km in 4 days but that is not a huge deal usually.

Completing the 100 miler was my ultra mission this year. Completing it in under 24 hours was my next mission. Both of these were achieved so I think the drive and determination are somewhat lacking at the moment and this mental block, as much as the physical is the cause of this malaise.

So, new gear is a way to cheer up and I have purchased a couple of beauties.....

1. A new backpack. The UltrAspire Fastpack. regretably my trusty Salomon Raid zip has finally bust and the stack pockets have holes in. No other pack has been so good so I'm hoping the amazing Fastpack will live up to its reputation. Straight out of the wrapping this morning and it feels very comfortable and fits like a glove. I'll do a report on it soon.

2. A new jacket. My old OMM Kamelika has lasted 2 winters but the coating is coming off and leaving the arms in particular quite damp when it rains hard. I have invested and hope this is a good one: Haglofs Endo. I'll road test it in the rain that is forecast over the next week or so. It is a Goretex triple shell and very lightweight so am quite excited about going out in the bad weather. I'll continue with the OMM on short training runs when the weather gets worse but this fella is for the long training runs and winter rounds that are coming up.

I know Jerry will be proud of this sartorial nonsense so I look forward to strutting it at the next ultra!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

a hotter round

mersea island. on the map by ultraBobban
mersea island. on the map, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.
 Sometimes when you don't get up as early as planned, the heat can get to you. Don't get me wrong, I like the heat but yesterday came as a 30 degree surprise. I enjoyed the first 10k up to the hammerhead. Unusually the tide was way out so I ran most of the way along the sand. There were loads of people, something that I haven't experienced before. usually, Xmas day, or a wet November, there will be the odd dog walker.....but there were hundreds on the beach.

Arriving at the hammerhead, Mrs UB, with bottle of juice joined me for the back of the island. Running past the sailing club a huge banner "well done Saskia" a tribute to Mersea's own silver Olympic sailing medalist and back to solitude. Over the Strood and the sun was high in the sky, on a cloudless, windless midday. We quickly quaffed all of the juice and stopped occasionally to admire the vista. Going became slow due in most part to the overgrown-ness of the coastal path, with Mrs UB face high in wildlife. When the oyster fishery fishery comes into view, it is 2 miles away and a further mile from home, always a welcome site.

22km of beach and trail running later, we were hot and sweaty and in need of refreshment. Luckily the kids had a mega-paddling pool set up
In the garden so after little Charlie had attacked me with the hosepipe I dived in and lay in the pool for 10 mins with a cold can of sprite. Sunburnt, tired and warm. Great run though.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Getting ready for the winter season

I've got a few things in mind. i have changed my plans for the autumn and winter season as there are a few things that have cropped up.....weekends away visiting folk and also some further commitments. I'm revising my schedule and have a few different things to run.

1. I can't see myself going through the same challenges as last year (bar say Gatliff, which is a challenge)
2. Familiarity breeds contempt
3. I am going to do some running up North where things are f'ckin 'ard.

So I am reviewing my footwear for the winter season.

Saucony Peregrine 2s...light fast trail shoes.

Vasque 2.0GTX Chillis......erm yellow and Goretex but about as heavy as Salomons. These I might be using for the likes of Gatliff and the wetter muddier courses. I think these might survive a nuclear war.

I don't really like the heavy shoes but having sent back a pair of flimsy Asics Gel Fujis straight out of the box, these look like the sort of chaps that will endure the most difficult of conditions. If I end up sweeping for the Winter100, they may be well used.'s a long time until the rain comes back so I'll be trotting the streets and trails of S. London in something far more suitable for the time being!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics

London 2012 Olympic Triathlon - Team Brownlee for GBLondon 2012 Olympic Triathlon - Brownlee goes for GOLDLondon 2012 Olympic Triathlon - blink and you'll miss it!London 2012 Olympic Triathlon - massive crowds try to catch a glimpse of history in the makingLondon 2012 Olympic Triathlon - France train

London 2012 Olympics, a set on Flickr.

Switching from discussing running to discussing the 2012 Olympics.....What a sight to see the Brownlee brothers take Gold and Bronze in Hyde Park. When the crowd was 50 deep, this was not an exaggeration! There must have been a million people lining the route. Imagine the buzz of winning in front of that many people?! Amazing!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

honeymoon running on hold.....

After the trainer wars by ultraBobban
After the trainer wars, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

It was the coolest evening so far. 32 degrees, about 90% humidity. Shorts on, no shoes, no top, nothing else. I was already sweating. My first run of the week lasted 3km. this one was shorter. running on the beach barefoot is tough. I don't fancy my chances inland, you see. Fucking great 2 metre long monitor lizards in the jungle.....crazy insects too. The roads are just too dangerous to run on. Pedestrians are target practice. What can be safer than a run on a deserted paradise of an Indian ocean beach? Nothing......except a rabies infested dog that chased me, snapping at my heels for a mile. I went it the sea. Fucker followed me. It bit my leg so I shouted, but I dont think it understood until I threw 2 coconuts at its head. It ran away, but left me with rabies.

So the running shoes are hung up for the rest of the holiday. I might enjoy a few white Russians and beers instead.......and the rest of my honeymoon

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

running away from it all!

I didn't expect to be writing while on our honeymoon but a moment out of the baking sun listening to the roar of the Indian Ocean not 30ft from the back door and me and Mrs UB are planning the first run of our honeymoon and the second run of our married life. The likelihood is that we will don our beachwear and run left..... ....or go right. either way, a barefoot out along the beach and back...or maybe carry the trainers and come back via the jungle. we might just call this a run-ymoon!!

Friday, 20 July 2012


I'm leaving the running behind for the afternoon and engaging myself in wedding duties. In 24 hours I will be wedded to the Mrs UB.

Here's me at the end of the SDW100 with Georgie, (I'm not marrying him....he is holding me up after my sub-24!) who is reading at the wedding tomorrow and being an amazing usher for the groom's party.

There will be a cohort of ultra runners indulging in alcohol based carb loading and Jezza no doubt will be by the coleslaw! Anyone running crazy distances this weekend will jump up the standings as there are going to be a lot of hungover ultra runners!!!

Monday, 16 July 2012

An idea!

I've got a plan. At the moment only 2 people in the world are aware of it.....well one, until the second one wakes up and checks their phone.

It is extreme. If it comes off, it will push the limits of the body beyond what it has done so far. It could be the gateway to bigger things......

Time will tell. It is long. It has altitude. It has attitude


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Rusty....crank it up

williams and son by ultraBobban
williams and son, a photo by ultraBobban on Flickr.

2 weeks after the SDW100 and I'm starting to get back into the fold. The euphoria has all but worn off and its about getting back to normal. I've got some niggles mind. I feel like I could do with an MOT and a good oil and service.

I thought that getting back to it after such a long ultra would be slow and am pleased-ish with my progress. 20 miles last week was all I could deal with. I have run twice today. Crystal Palace Park, Wells Park, Alex Park and Mayo Park were on my sunny route with Mrs UB at a nice pace.

This evening was about pushing my body a bit further. What would happen when I cranked up the speed? Well, after a warm up mile or so, I went with how I felt and not what the watch stated. I did glance down and was pleasantly surprised to knock out a few 7.20s, particularly on the long drag from Beckenham up again to Palace.

So. Aside from reading the excellent stories written by new running buddy Mike Sartorius

and Jezza's amazing recount of the GUCR, it is now about looking forward, rather than looking back.

Salisbury 54321 is only a few weeks away so that will be the first test.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Planning for the rest of the year

I've left a big blank in my calendar as I did not know where I would be in terms of fitness, injury and morale following the SDW100. it is now 11 days since the completion of the "century" in just over 23 hours........I have had a few days of tiredness and my longest run this week has been just 9 miles. It is slowly, slowly at the moment as it will take a few weeks to recover.

However, this is my anticipated schedule until the end of the year:

12th August - Salisbury 54321 50km
19th August - Ultra peaks 40
16th September - either Rings around the Rodings 30 or the Green Chain 27
16th October - 16th Founders Challenge
25th Nov - Gatliff 31.3 miles

and then there looks to be some tantalising ultras over the half term holiday. Other than that, I am going to be seeking out some new/different events. I think 6 marathons and ultras in the next 5 months is a modest and achievable target. I'll be crewing at the Winter 100 too.

exciting times ahead

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hungry, tired.....this is a recovery

After a euphoric week of 100 mile smile, I have gently landed in the swamp of mild depression.

All I have done for the last 7 days is eat and drink. Favoured foodstuffs amount to anything. I feel like I am eating crap but actually, when I analyse my intake, I have been drinking lots of milk, eating tonnes of fruit, cheese appears frequently and I've had more meat than usual.

Reading James Elson's amazing blog entry about post-100 mile recovery, I concur with his ethos. I know people who have ridden that wave of euphoria and hit the deck with a bang. Bone density needs to recover. I'm going to keep drinking milk and let the osteoblasts and osteoclasts work their magic.

Unusually, I haven't been ill. I sink into some form of heavy cold or stomach bug....but not to date. I have entered a mental state of malaise where work is stressing me out even more than it should. Each setback, question or personal remark from staff seems to cut that bit more deeper than usual.....and I am lingering on it.....not good.

There is a wedding to sort and I need to be positive! I went out tonight not for miles but for form. True to my word I kept a nice tempo, never quicker than 8s, never slower than 8.30s, along the Riverview walk route. This cheered me up no end. I now need to focus on not recovering the mileage too quickly. I think back up to 50 miles base mileage a week by about late August, early September. I'll need some new shoes to cheer me up too.

But first the Aviva Diamond League with my 2 best Centurion buddies.....Immune and Jezza. We have cider drinking to do!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Unlike the last recovery from the Ridgeway, this was different.

I donned my SDW100 t-shirt, with my 100 miles-1day belt buckle in pocket, I decided to run the DPR club handicap. Ian had said that if I wanted to run higher up the field, I needed to run "scratch" I did. I had planned on trotting round at 10s......but I felt good so speeded up. I was never out of breath, never in any discomfort. I ran the course in 6.58s.....

So, 2 days after the epic 100 and with a 130 mile week, no problems. A nice chit chat with the brilliant runners from the club and a fish and chip supper......amazing.

There are 2 issues now......some rather random tanlines and an insatiable appetite to go a little further. I have something in mind.........but I'll save that for a later date ;-)

Monday, 2 July 2012

SDW100 Race Report

I don't feel that I was the most prepared I could have been, in fact, I felt quite the opposite but like anything, once the ball is rolling, there is no time for nerves and protocols and practicalities set was all about the SDW100. was a long day so might be a long blog post!

So it started at 4am, an alarm and a jump out of bed at a grim but well stocked running HQ.....aka Travelodge. A nice hot bath to warm up the muscles and a cup of tea and hot cross bun for brekkie and it was off to the start of the SDW100 at Chilcomb in Winchester. Arrival at the scene of the start of an event like this has not girded my loins since the start of the Ridgeway in 2010 at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. As soon as I arrived I spied Helly and Claire Shelley, Essex Dave, Elaine, Allan Rhumbles, Kev and a few others who are omnipresent at such events. Queue for the mens was about 20 deep so I went to the briefing by Centurion organiser @Badwaterjames or ultra legend, James Elson.

The start was the usual affair, a couple of laps around a large field to string out the throng and allow the fastest runners to the front for the narrow path section before the trail head opened up.

After lap 1 I decided to leave the race, run back to the car park and get out of my trail shoes and into a pair of newish road shoes. It wasn't that wet. Then anyway!  The end of lap 1 saw a shameless show of stupidity when a runner took to the front and into lap 2 ahead of some of the GB trail athletes and internationals in a show of extreme arrogance in leading the pack onto the trail head.

It was on to the SDW! After a couple of miles of muddy trail and a chance to catch up with Helen and Claire, the heavens opened and runners dived for cover to encase themselves in the lightweight waterproof gear stashed away in rucksacks and day packs.

It was within the first 5 miles that none other than 100 marathon legend Johnny Mac. I had not been expecting him so was a complete surprise when he popped out of a wet hood and I ran over for a big hug. I was provided with a Clif bar (not sure) and a satsuma (which was declined) and I headed off again through the mud and rain up Cheesefoot head. After a long climb and back down again, Mac was there again. This time I stopped for a satsuma and a chat. Mac was getting ready for the Boddington marathon on Sunday and had come to wish me well. It was now pissing it down!
CP1 came and went. It was well stocked with Coke and crisps and sandwiches. I had ham and cheese and a couple of cokes. By now Helen and I had developed a rhythm, never quicker than 9.30s, never slower than 10.30s and this forged a partnership that would hopefully see us to the end. Two massive climbs were already out of the way and we had just come off Old Winchester Hill and Johnny Mac was there again, as was Mrs UB and Tom Lane. Tom was out for his usual Saturday morning run on the Downs as he had just moved to Winchester a few weeks ago. He wanted to check out new running territory so tagged along for a chit chat. He then stopped back to chat to other runners. It was probably hard for him to run so slow as he would happily trot at 7s. Nevertheless, it was a long drag up to Butser Hill, going past a few runners to mile 22 CP2 and then Tom left to go house hunting. I changed tops as the red Salomon stank!

CP2 in QEII Park was another lush spread. It was like a gigantic picnic. These chaps at Centurion are ace. James Elson...hats off to you fella!

Helen and I recounted various stories of the next leg which was on her favourite stomping ground, the SDM marathon. Up up up to Harting Down and Beacon Hill. We stopped at CP3 for 5 cokes, a scotch egg and a pork pie. (I was asked at work today how many gels I took over the 100 I must be mad! was the reply......little did they know!)

On to the Devil's Jumps, Treyford Hill, Didling Hill and Lynch Ball all the way down to Cocking for CP4. Much jokeage was made about Cocking and all the anecdotes under the sun were shared and guffawed at. Helen and I scoffed crisps and coke and sandwiches, while Mrs UB took pics and told us that we looked brill!

I was blown away by the views of the SDW. Usually, we are running the other way on the SD Marathon but the scenery was just uplifting. I remember looking at the Garmin and at about 38 miles in, proclaimed to Helen that either I had consumed too much caffeine, was on a sugar low or rush, or was getting an absurdly high runners high with endorphin overdose!! I have never felt so good on a run. Never more composed. Never so excited about the hours and miles ahead of me. That moment will stick with me for life.

We stuck to the top of the Downs for a while which was a welcome break from the massive hill ascents and descents, which allowed us to tick off 40 miles in no time. Up to Bignor Hill for the 41.7 mile checkpoint of water only. This was perhaps the only time I felt alone during the run. After chit chat with Helen and David, we all had a stage of running alone, never more than about 100m apart, but time to take in the scenery and reflect on our own progress and the struggles to come.

Down into Amberley and this was the first time that my quads and ligaments around the knee started to ache. 46 miles in and the pain was creeping up my legs.

Tim and Linda from DPR came with Mrs UB to meet us. I was so happy to see them. Amazing to come all this way to see a sweaty lad requesting coke and crisps. I love you both millions!

Sated with coke, Helen and I traversed the River Arun and up up up to Rackham Hill and on to Kithurst Hill CP which was the halfway point. A relatively quick stop and it was some seriously quick miles from 50 to 54 to the hot food stop at Washington. We spent 30 mins at this oasis. 4 hotdogs and beans, 2 cups of tea, peanuts and an energy drink later, I was lying upside down with my legs in the car boot doing a leg drain with shoes off. I realised I might have a blister at this point. I changed socks but left the compressions on and shoved vass in my toe area. Surely it would do the trick?

Mrs UB was amazing at being crew. I owe so much to her selfless work over the weekend and as such, am glad that she is going to be marrying me in just 3 weeks.

Helen and I set off, full and ready for action. Up to the next familiar marathon haunt of Chanctonbury Ring. was stunning and at 790ft, a long climb. We were coming off the top and chatting away when Di and Dave from DPR took some pics and then joined us. I was expecting them at 4am so was shocked to see them approaching mile 60. We ran down across 3 Forts marathon territory and into the next CP for a quick pit stop. Di and Dave were amazing and really lifted our spirits to the next level. Di also taught us how pigs have sex......typical!

The next 6 miles were tough miles that you need to bed into and grind out. Helen and I overtook loads of runners walking up Truleigh Hill whilst we ran it.....on to Fulking and Devil's Dyke.

Out of the wilderness stepped a sartorially elegant best man Simeon. He was more than his usual chipper self and offered sage-like advice (having only run for his tailor) and helped me feed and water myself.

This was an unscheduled stop so we agreed to meet later and on we trotted.

Fatigue was just rearing its head when we approached CP10 at Clayton Windmills. We panicked a little as the CP signs were not clear and we had done slightly over mileage but sure enough, we found our way to the  windy ridge by Jack and Jill. I've run the Downland Ultra 4 times but never had actually been to Jack and Jill. A quick leg drain, 3 cokes, a tea and 10 roast potatoes and I was good to go. It was great to see Susie Wood to cheer us up and wish us well! Helly and I set off from Clayton at 9.45......we were now on course for a sub-24!!!!!!!

The next few miles were sublime.....old territory, 2 ultra runners, overtaking all and sundry, we ran up Ditchling all the way (bearing in mind this was 72 miles in......all hail to us!) and on to Black Cap.

Black Cap is a significant landmark for any seasoned ultra runner....Downland Ultra and London to Brighton. It is a landmark that needs to be respected as if you miss the turn into the is bye bye SDW! But we knew the trail, and we picked up the amazing Mike at this point. Mike was, like me, running his first 100. He was at a good pace but we had to work hard to convince him that he was going to go sub 24. His missus was at the CP and there was some confusion as to whether he would drop out if he was off the pace of the 24 hour mark. This man wanted the belt buckle......he now needed the PMA!

Only Housedean Farm and this would be the last time I would see Mrs UB until the finish. We donated milk from the car to CP11 and had a coffee. George joined us here and we started the great climb of Newmarket and Castle Hill....a real walker now. George was due to be with us for 7 miles. We chatted and ran-walked. Tiredness was now well and truly in our veins. Spirits were high as we reached Southease with ease and Mike was happy to be with us as we knew every inch of the track, from "naked rambler corner" to the "yellow brick road", Helly and I were night-time sat-nav for weary runners!

Di and Dave were at Southease but asleep in the car. Rather than wake them we carried on, George at the helm, as we ran-walked up to Beddingham Hill and Firle Beacon. It was clear here that many runners had gone wrong as we saw lights all over the downs. Even though we doubted and double checked a couple of times, we never, ever wavered off course.

The rain beat down upon our faces from the right side as we traversed Firle Beacon. We were approaching 91 miles and we had just under 3 hours to do it. We stopped at Alfriston for about 15 minutes. It was like zombie town. There were runners in bits. I used the facilities and had to apologise profusely to the poor lady that was next in the queue! Helly was adamant that I ate some food, like some scolding mother figure! I duely ate a plate of beans, washed down with a coke and a tea. Off we went to the final CP at Jevington. In the way was the Long Man of Wilmington and 670 ft of climb.....small but at 93 miles in....a mountain.

I started to hit trouble. Fatigue had its claws around my neck and was gradually sapping my inner soul. Every now and again we would break into a trot for maybe a quarter of a mile. Mike would shout out the pace and the time left for sub 24. We had a number of "casualties" that tried to sap our strength by suggesting other routes, other ways as they were riddled with their own self doubt. We pulled the map out for the first time and Mike used the GPS. Jevington arrived down a long descent and a small church hall with snacks and coke did little to warm my heart. I wanted to finish.......Di and Dave were there with massive encouragement but I was now in pain, zombie like and in the "zone" finish.

The final 5 miles was in sunlight. Little was said. George just kept looking at me to check I was OK. From leading the group right through to mile 94.5, I now sat on the back.....hanging on, pulse racing, having stopped all sweating. I glugged on beetroot and cherry juice, which sugar and liquid stirred me back into life. We hit the trig point at Jevington and it was now 2.6 miles downhill!

When we say downhill, we mean down a rutted stream bed. The it was into Eastbourne and along an anonymous road around the hospital and into the sport college. How long was the road? It felt like forever. Occasionally we trotted, mainly walked and talked of a shower and a silver belt buckle. Mike gave us a countdown commentary. We were close the the finish......

.......and there it was. Mrs UB, Di and Dave shouting and screaming like banshees. Allan Rhumbles overtook us on the way into the sports ground and then we decided to sprint finish for the line. Mike, Helen and I arm in arm over the finish line. 23.26 hours, thousands of feet of hard chalky trail later and we clasped onto our 100 mile - 24 hour belt buckle!!!!

I have never felt so good as the last 23 hours. The perfect running day, supported by the most brilliant people and the scenery and atmosphere was excellent. This is running nirvana!

36 hours on........much stiffness, a 13 hour day at school and a cider later. Walking is fine and I'll have a go at running tomorrow. Thank you James Elson and Centurion. My offer of crew for next year and/or the NDW100 stands.

I feel alive!!