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Sunday, 6 December 2015

Trailscape East - Cuxton marathon (27.2 miles) race report.

Last run of the year and with Gatliff just 6 days ago and a 60+ hr week at work, I was left wanting. What a nice course though, taking in the Wealden Way and NDW. Very muddy again and ferociously windy. So good to spend time catching up with 260 marathoner Robert Cameron-Wood for a few miles. What a legend. 


My shoes had barely dried from Gatliff and here we were again. In the mud. The first few miles were technical and even though the course was well marked, was tough going. After a while it opened out into some form of track and it was time to get a move on. CP1 was only 4.5 miles in. straight through and off to Vigo village for the turnaround. There are some big hills there and you go right down to the Medway and back up which means 3 big 600+ footers in a row. The one at the end of it was a beast. 

To give you an idea of the terrain, the 10k was won in a pedestrian 52 mins.....but onwards. Feeling tired I necked gels early and hoped to hang on. Flat on my face in the mud after 10 miles only spurred me on. I ran all of the race alone, save for a quick chat with a couple of people I passed or half marathoners being overtaken. 

Pleasantly surprised with 14th place and a 4hr 31 in these conditions. 20 mins quicker would have been a podium so not a bad end to the year. Marathon #66 done. 

Gatliff race report - never a dull race

Usually the Gatliff 50km is long. We ran 56km this year. I ran the whole thing with shits and giggles himself Matt Biggin. We went wrong once, I stacked on a style. We watched poetry in motion as a  runner hurdled 2 styles.


This race is a fucking joke to be honest. The directions are piss poor, the course is never ever 50km and I usually finish in the dark. Why come back for more you say? Well it is full of people I know very well now, close to home, never anything less than a challenge and always full of laughs at the end of the year. 

A great sunday out although no way a course to get anywhere near a PB. Just a few kms longer than the Stort 30 a few weeks ago but 8 hrs 2 mins. Hilarious. See you next year. Never will I forget "oh fuck off you lanky binman"

Trail Running Association UK Ultra Championships 30 Mile race report

Potentially a lucky number according to my wife and indeed it was auspicious in terms of my day. having run this last year and enjoyed it, I was up for some serious beating of my time last year. After minimal faff and again travelling very light....bottle and a couple of gels, it was race briefing and then off. Watching Centurion running Craig Holgate blast off at the start was awesome. He gained the course record in......3 hrs 12 mins! Insane.

Back to planet earth and I was on a mission. It was muddy underfoot but I was going off at a good pace.....drafting some guy for about 6 miles at 7.45s and feeling good. Then I got stung by a bee. Right in the calf muscle. This pissed me right off so I overtook the chap and off I blasted. Last year I went hard and regretted it in the back half. I hit halfway and bumped into Nathan, whom I had ran with the previous year. We had loads of banter and quickly knocked off the miles. I got to marathon point in 3hrs 33 and felt pretty good. The wheels fell off in the last couple though and I dropped to 9 min miling which meant my overall was 4hrs 10 mins. Still a big 24 mins inside my 30 mile PB. Top 20 and 4th MV40 (narrowly missing out on a podium) at the UK Championships. Maybe an extra gel next year and I can aim for sub 4?

High Weald Challenge 50km race report

Having really enjoyed the 50k earlier this year I thought I'd have a go at the autumn version, albeit on a different part of the Weald, tracking North instead of South. Arriving early I hadn't expected the drop to 4 degrees in the middle of October. I had come in a t-shirt......brrrrr! Good to meet up with George again at the start, David Thompson (in a vest!) Rich Stewart and Dave Barker. A short trudge to the start and it was off. George and I ran together for the first few miles. I guess we have run together over 30 times now but is rare that we are both in the same vein of always does better!

After a hilly first 5 miles I was feeling the early undulations. Travelling light with a bottle and some gels, I finally got into a rhythm and ran with something a bit more like I was enjoying it, but pushing myself. After about 10 miles I began to find some form. Sometimes of the early miles are slow, I can speed right up. The cold lifted and so did my spirits. Running atop the High Weald and Ashdown Forest was delightful, the gradients seemed to flatten and I gained lots of places during the second half of the race, although the sedentary start meant that a 5 hour time was out of the question, although it was a hilly course.

In the end I nearly caught up with Rich Stewart, who was building up to the Autumn 100 and in great form. 26th place and 5 hours 12 mins. The reason for doing it was that RD Stu Mills gave me the earthenware mug that my wife had asked me to bring home. Marathon #63 Done.

Kent Coastal Marathon

Only a week after my disaster at the Ridgeway I had a race booked in. Originally with Sue Byrne and Cookie, Sue pulled out owing to injury. My plan was a non-competitive recovery run. The week had gone reasonably well with a hard but productive week at work. I drove down to the start on a blustery but sunny coastal crispy day.  Bumping into some familiar faces is more of a regular occurrence than not and the start line in sunny Margate was no exception. It was a pleasure to catch up with George at the start. George is having an amazing year of running. 

Off down to a windy start and I hooked up with a slightly nervous Cookie with his dad and bumped into Sue who had had a gentle trot down from her weekend flat in Broadstairs just up the road. The field was packed and we aimed to head off about 30-40% back from the front. George went off with his crew from Orpington Road Runners with Cookie and I settling into an early but fast-ish pace. A switchback partway to Margate along the Parkrun course and it was off up the hill past Joss Bay and the hilly coastal path to Broadstairs and then Ramsgate. I saw Peter Johnson marshalling.....I think he lives round these parts. Sue bimbled with us for a mile or two then cut off home. Our glorious forst 6 miles was punctuated with an "I need a shit stop" from Cookie. That came out of nowhere. I knew a public bogs from a training run with Sue a month earlier. I watched most of the field go past as I waited for captain shitter. We had a laugh and knew that this was a jolly up and not a competitive run. 

Slightly lighter than before, Cookie made some speed up, with us chugging along to Ramsgate and the turnaround point. This event was well supported and I encouraged Cookie to take up some jelly babies that were on offer. I necked a gel and in no time we were at half way stages. Cookie slowed. I was chatting away, looked around and he was gone. I stopped. Waited. Then we continued our conversation. Cookie drafted like a cyclist behind my broad-shouldered frame and we repeated this chat, stop, wait a few more times. Spotting a runner that I knew I called out...What have you been up to? "Oh the usual" Whatever that meant.  As we traversed the promenade at Margate about 2 miles later, chatting away, I turned around and Cookie was probably a fair few hundred yards behind. I knew he would understand. 

I necked another gel and went for it. Our leisurely 8.30s pace, plus the 10 mins of shit stop and waits felt like a launchpad to bang in some faster miles. The last 10 miles I averaged 7.30s but that included the into the wind stuff. The big turn around felt like forever around a nice beachside estate. It was head down and knock out the last few miles. Feeling very good I caught up with George with a mile to go. Despite our slow start, a 3.45 on an undulating and windy course was pretty fine. George came in a couple of mins later, with Cookie in about 30 mins later. 

Will definitely do this next year.