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Wednesday, 14 December 2016


As one approached the end of the year there comes that natural time for reflection. An excellent start to the year with the Tanners, Dymchurch and then my very first ever Ultramarathon win at the Midnight Ultra 33 mile race down in Kent. An exceptionally muddy course and an awesome course record by 21 never to be beaten as RD Mike Inkster has hung up his boots and the race no longer exists in this format........Followed by a sketchy 45miler the following week at St Peters Way, where I blew up in the last 4 miles...then it was a down hill trail all the way through the summer with a drop down to 6 hour challenge from the 100. That was the low point of the year, even though I technically won the 6 hour challenge. At the end of the summer after the worst marathon I have ever done (organisation and boredom) at the Not the Rio Marathon, it was time for a change.

Mid September I opted for a coach and who better than ulramarathoner and women's 100k National team runner and professional coach, Gemma Carter Since then I have had a steady increase in form and a removal of almost all 'junk miles'. Working a 50-60 hour wek in school and with a toddler and a new baby, training has been tough, so I have had to make it count. Diet has significantly improved and the training is starting to pay off. The mental toughness is coming back after a couple of lousy DNFs and a loss of mojo.

I am looking forward to 2017 already. Stronger and faster and more mentally prepared I am already looking forward to a few races:

  • Winter Tanners 30 mile
  • St Peters Way 45 mile
  • Liverpool to Manchester 50 mile
  • UK ultra championships 85 mile - Ridgeway (to vanquish the demons of 2015)
  • High Weald 50k
  • Welsh 3000s (15 3000 ft peaks in Snowdonia in one round)
but the key focus is the planning and preparation for 2018 which will be the Bob Graham Round which I am aiming to attempt in late July 2018. 

Base miles with strength and conditioning work whilst enjoying my training is the key to early season success. I think I will post a deeper review of the highs and lows of the year along with my stats towards Xmas. 

Bring on 2017!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Behind with my blogging

I'm a little behind with my blog.....

At some point in the near future I want to spend some time writing about the difference coaching is making to my training, my performance, positive metal attitude and overall good feeling about running. I have refound my mojo!

In the last 8 weeks or so I have run:

High Weald 50km (got seriously lost but had a good day out running and enjoyed the dace)
Ranscombe Challenge on the NDW - 2nd place in the marathon
Gatliff 50k (56 actually) - I ran a PB on the course by 1 hour and 21 mins, also 1 hr 38 mins faster than last I love this muddy race!

Updates and images to follow in the near future. 2 kids, lots on at work and a million other things to do before I update this.

78 marathons or beyond now.....

I have a bucket list for 2017 and then the big one in 2018......all will be revealed!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Soul Day Marathon

Not a fast time.....we had just got back from hols but the opportunity to do a Thursday marathon? Well why not. Down near Dover on Samphire Hoe this was a small affair with 150 runners. I wanted to enjoy the morning and by 12 the temperature was up to 28 according to the weather, but 31 on the car. I do like some of Traviss Wilcox' races. This was friendly affair and with bright light glistening off the sea bundled along in about 1.45 for the first half. A few chats with other runners including the amazing Ollie running his first ever long race. Overheating was an issue for many and quite early on, people were dropping like flies. I moved into 4th place, although this was not a competitive race with toned and honed marathoners, I held that for the rest of the race, despite having 2 x 5 min stops at the CP to cool down and hydrate.

Not competitive, but a fun day out. Just what I needed to cheer me up after an awful last race. A gentle long slow run in just a bit over 4 hours. Marathon #75 done.

Not the Rio Marathon

Billed to be an awesome adventure around all parts of the Olympic Park in August. I don't want to get angry again but the worst marathon I have ever run. For £40 you got to queue up for 40 mins to pick up your race number, the start was delayed because of this.....the course was 4.41km loops around the velodrome and after 16 miles the checkpoint ran out of everything but water. At 21 miles it ran out of water. Quite frankly after 2 laps I was not in the mood, save for catching up and having a much overdue catch up with Helen Smith. Pretty much everyone was complaining. It was dire. Criss-crossing the A12 4 times per lap. Dull and repetitive. Finally we crossed the line after having a walk for the last 2 miles as was parched out of water and it was 27 degrees and into what was billed as a lap of the velodrome.......nope.....finish up the stairs.....the marshall said that we could pick up our medals from 'over there' but we must only take 1 bottle of water as they didn't have enough. I went straight over to the RD and asked if I could take some water outside. He said that they "had to ration it" and then walked off.

What was brilliant was catching up with Helen, Elaine and Peter Bowles at the end. Thank goodness for some lager-based electrolyte replacement. I ran most of the way back to South London too.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Sheldon Fell Race

To sum up how fell races are is to want to never run again, yet carry on running forever. I certainly felt these emotions leading up to and during the race. Normally I am blogging about marathons and ultras....this time, a short sharp fell race that just happened to be taking place during a brief holiday to the Peak District.

I don't think I have ever been so nervous leading up to a race. I ate very little, drank a little caffeine and went for a morning run up to Monsal Head along the Monsal Trail. I took it fairly easy and stopped to take some pics and take in the views

Later in the day it was up to the village of Sheldon. 216 starters outside the Cock and Pullet at 7.30pm. A thursday evening run in the warm Derbyshire sunshine. After a congested start in which I should have started in the top 1/3 not the last few runners (I was so nervous I thought I would finish last!) I found my footing and it was quickly off road and over a drystone wall. Another runner tripped and landed face down.....I check with him "Are you OK?" the reply came back....."you concentrate on your own fuckin' race!" So I did. It was then 700ft+ down and only later looking at the garmin stats did I dip into 4 min miling.......Jeezus. After a brain shaking descent it was along the valley floor and then a series of stepped inclines. I had passed maybe 100 runners. At just over halfway, a muddy scramble hands on rocks and mud and a heart rate that was popping out of my lungs, brain and skin. Sweat was dripping from me like never before. I passed a few more but this was getting harder and I drafted where I could into the calm evening breeze.

Onto the lazy incline that topped out.....phew. Or did it? A false flat and then up for a bit, down and then up more. Much more. I spied the car park at the finish about half a mile away. I was passed and then I passed more. The peak gave way to road and then downhill on the track to the village. So mashed were my quads that a video that Mrs UB took looks like I am running through the sea. In fact a cute cameo of sub 6s to the finish and held on to my place. Worried about being last? 46th out of 216. A smarter start would be top 30 but who cares. This was both brutal and yet phenomenal at the same time. The most running endorphins since my win earlier this year.

Amazing and so good to see the kids at the finish line. If I can find the video from WhatsApp I'll upload it.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

after the Samphire

So after a couple of weeks of reflection, and a few DMs from Traviss Wilcox - RD for the event, I ended up finishing the 6 hour event in 1st place. A small crumb of comfort and now feel much more positive about the running. I have a couple more events to go that involve doing laps and then that is it for me......point to point, trail or what's the point.....

4 toenails lost at this event......ouch

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Samphire 100

Baby Greta arrived.....toddler Audrey rebelled and didn't sleep. Hit that with some hardcore work issues and preparation was pretty rubbish. Mentally and physically I was left wanting. After 33 miles I was running in 6th and feeling great. 4 miles later I felt like a tide of shit had flowed up, left its backwash and also kicked me very hard in the exact place that my titanium pins had been removed from my ankle after being told I would never run again. 

Awesome to run for a few hours with Jon Fielden and hope that Natalie T also blasts around. Hero to zero for I don't know why. I've sat here tonight and booked 3 more races but basically I have come to the conclusion.......100 much as I love them, I can't do this with young kids....both the training and the mental toughness that you need not to worry about not coming home if there is a potential that you might end up up shit creek and also the down time needed before attempting such events.

I dropped down from the 100 to a timed challenge. 60k in 6 hours.....OK in 28 degree heat.......but shit in the scheme of things. Pocket ultras for me and the relentless focus on the marathon......for ayear or 2

Rachels Ranscombe Ramble

Missed this one out.......26.7 miles and 4000ft of climb. 11th place and a nuts course. Marathon #71 done

Jeskyns Marathon

Marathon 72 was a quick drive down to the North Downs along the A2. Feeling exceptionally tired after the birth of Greta and the sleepless nights ensued by Audrey, added to some super hard training this was a chance to get some competition miles under my belt. Starting well and with the legendary Jon Fielden and Tobias from the Queens own Cavalry we blasted out the first 18 or so.......banter lively. I then had some digestive issues......well a lot of a 3.25 ish turned into a 4.08. Nuff said. Good course and will be back for the hills, oast houses and vistas acrosss the Thames Estuary.

Marathon #72 done

Sunday, 10 April 2016

St Peter's Way 43 mile ultra race report

A week after a 33 miler, a 43 was not a great idea. However I was desperate to get back on the trail. A cold and total full on headwind was the order of the day. I ran with good pal Nathan for 10 miles or so, laughed at a runner who fell face down in the mud, then promptly fell face down in a bunch of nettles. Karma. 10 miles in I realised last week had taken a huge toll on my legs and glycogen stores.

25 miles of undulation from North London to mid Essex near Chemlsford, then a drop to pan-flat estuarine unabated headwind. The scenery was stunning. Such an underrated part of our countryside. I love it. It reminds me of my mum and dads.

So after 4 CPs on the whole course, I was undernourished and underhydrated....I ran well until 35. I caught up with Nathan and we ran together in 5/6th place.

The world of hurt then set in. BIG style.

It was like Don Quioxte with the relentless fields of wind turbines. I mumbled some excuses to Nathan and promptly dropped 3/4 places along the 2 mile beach wall levee at the end. 9th place (maybe 10th?) I think but a great finish at St-Peter-on-the-Wall in perhaps the most remote part of within-100-miles-of London.

A great medal and a chance to catch up with the top 10 whilst we waited in sub-zero conditions in the chapel until the buses came to take us back to the start.

Nice to have a good catch up with RD Lindley Chambers at the end and also Naiomi Newton Fisher. A pity about the 2 1/2 hr wait for the bus back to the start. Never been so cold.

Mid Feb, another great race and what a start to the year. Marathon #70 done.

Challenge Hub Midnight Ultra - RACE REPORT

Who would think that a cross country trail ultramarathon would be run IN THE DARK, in FEBRUARY in deepest, darkest swampiest (well marshland) KENT?! Bring it on.

My prep for the day included Brockley market picking up some excellent and super strong coffee, a scotch egg (remember secret weapon at our podium #2nd place at the Norman Conquest 50 miler?!!!!) plenty of organic veg and some meats. I spent the day with the family and then bimbled off to between Whitstable and Margate for a 7pm start.

It was wet, raining and very muddy at the start. I had a brief catch up with out of sorts Jezza. It is great to see him back on the trail. It will be even better when he is back to his best.

Pitch black and raining, I set off with a bunch of waterproofed and headtorched brave souls. I chose to travel light. One hand held and a merino sweater and gloves. Lap 1 I stuck with the front group. The pace felt comfortable so I held back. I felt great......probably unlike I have EVER felt before. One by one the front group got smaller until there were three. I made an early acceleration to test the water. No one responded. Potentially I thought that this was a ruse and they were holding me at arms length and then would pounce. No matter. I had to stop and wait as I did not know the directions and needed the reassurance of Paul, who had run the course last year.

For 30 mins I ran with him and gained confidence in the surroundings. I necked a caffeine gel and pushed again. Not the fan of wearing a headtorch an becoming accustomed to the night I switched off and ran....within myself but it just felt good. Not realising this until the end but apart from lap 3 where I motored, my pace was even throughout. I saw headtorches behind so kept pressing on.

Late on lap 3 I lapped Jezza. By mid lap 4 I felt for an overtightness in my OMM running shorts. At mile 23 I borrowed scissors from a first aid kit at the CP and cut them through. Relief.

Final lap! At the CP I stated this. You are 15 mins in the lead! stated Race Director Mike Inkster. All that blurted out of my mouth was the fairly sombre "Well its mine to lose then!"

Final lap I had a few demons between 27-29 miles. Once over them I went as full gas as I could at 11.30pm in the dark in Feb across marshland trails with wet feet. Unbeknownst to me I had overtaken all but the top 5 runners. Ever time I dared to glance back, a headtorch brought the same question......lapped.....or catching me?! My heart was literally beating out of my chest.....too much sugar and caffeine or the potential that I might actually get a WIN!!

Straight into the final CP and 33.1 miles (the RD even asked to see my Garmin to confirm! NEVER EVER THINK ABOUT CHEATING!) and that was it

1st PLACE!

2 trophies and a medal

Interview on camera. "How does it feel to win?"

"I'm fucking STOKED!"

"We can't publish that....anything else?"

"No. I am genuinely fucking stoked. Well happy....did I really win?!"

"By the broke the course record.....BY 24 MINUTES!!!"

Wow. I went back to the car for my phone for some pics. It was now past midnight. I said the to RD I'd wait for P2 and P3 to come in. I waited 21 mins for P2. I got in the car and went home.

Everything had gone right. Food, hydration, pace. I think this is what you call in the ZONE. For me, a total enjoyment of every single minute.

I got home and had a beer and a pork pie. How better to celebrate?


Marathon #69

Dymchurch Marathon Race report

Traviss' races are no-nonsense fuss free races where you can crack out run with a bunch of friendly people. We'd organised for the family to come down not far away for a weekend on the train and meet me straight after the race for dinner and some R&R. 

A misty sunrise gave way to a 2 hour session of sea fog, something that was a bit magical. This was an out and back along a totally pan flat concrete sea wall. Knowing we had baby UB2 on the way, this was about fitting in a convenient marathon. No frills. No thrills. After probably 17 miles I was on for a 3.25 ish, but a combination of the working of the same muscle group (I do prefer the hills for a proper workout) and not feeding so well early on and this slipped to a 3.37 in the last 6 miles. This was a little disappointing as I dropped probably 6 or 7 places to finish in 14th. Having a blast 7.30 for the last mile cheered me up immensely and I cursed my lackadaisical attitude in the previous 5 miles. Nuff said, it was off for fish and chips and a couple of big glasses of Coke. Marathon #68 done. The BIGGEST MEDAL I HAVE EVER SEEN!


Winter Tanners Race report

I haven't written my blog in about 3 months so apologies dear readers as I have been mega busy. It is time for a catch up on the start of the season which has been arguably the best start to a season I have had ever.

it was an exceptionally muddy trail for one of my favourite runs. This seemed to be less on the tops of the NDW and Weald and more in the valley bottoms this year. Mud and more mud.....followed by calf and occasionally knee deep water. Great. My good running buddy Johnny and I set out for this beautiful race early doors. We cracked on with a big group of runners including a good catch up with Jenni Cox who is returning back to form after a year break following a stellar 2014. The skies were clear and my mapwork was good for this odyssey. Only 3 Checkpoints on this long route makes this a bit more of a day out.

The first 20 miles were an absolute joke in terms of running. Real challenges in terms of grip, constantly wet feet and the inability to get into a good clip. The last 11 miles were much better. We made some real progress....then the boy JJ slipped and fell on his hand on a flinty path. Much blood later and a quick final checkpoint, we were off and coursing through the final few miles, running in to a 5.51 finish and joint 13th place. Bearing in mind the conditions, we were happy. JJ is one of the most awesome people I have ever had the pleasure of running with. May it long continue.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Mount Snowdon Run - New Years Eve 2015

Mild it might be, but my experiences in mountain craft have taught me that even when the weather is good, it can turn quickly and a lack of preparation could be a life or death experience in the event of an accident or sudden weather change. Today we were well prepared. George and I had decided to fastpack to the top, run with minimum but enough gear for the cold, a compass, map and of course our phones.

Our drive to the Pen-y-Pass car park was rewarded with a pre-dawn parking space. It was new year's even but we didn't want to have to run an extra few kms from the next car park. The car park was pretty full, but I think many had opted to sleep in cars until dawn. 

We set off by head torch light and although the car suggested 6 degrees, it was considerably colder in feel owing to wind chill. The first km was a wake up call but we settled into a rhythm, up the Pyg track and upwards and upwards and upwards. Overtaking only about 8 people the whole journey was a godsend. The rock was all but deserted. It was ours to run on, so we did.

As we turned the corner, we could see the snowline, at about 2400ft. Great to see, but we know it would be tough going, especially with the perishing downdraughts bringing icy cold air from the summit of Crib Goch.

We had a stop for a pic and to get our anoraks on but with 3 thin layers and an anorak, it was cold if we kept still for more than 10 seconds. Despite the now deepening snow and the howling wind, we were still running as much as we could, traversing the waterfalls slowly, then picking up the pace again quickly. 

Up over the ridge at the top and now with 4 inches of snow, I was questioning whether we were indeed insane. Clearly in shorts, I was. From the top of the ridge we knew there was about 400 ish feet to go, which was a relief, although almost impossible to run in a straight line owing to the 50+ mph gales blowing us about all over the place. Only ONE pair of shoe marks in the snow! Wow.

We made it. 3560ft and the highest mountain in Wales and England. Just time to hang around for a quick few poses.

and some bravado in shorts. It, according to the mountain rescue summit weather was -10 at the top. 

That was it, a quick chat to Jeff, another runner who had done the Llanberis path. No one else in sight. It was now bloody freezing so we ran back down......actually much harder than I thought in 4 inches of snow.....but run we did, all the way back to the car park. Above the snow line, we crossed paths with just a few other walkers and that was it.......through the ice rain and spindrift coming off the summits......then as we turned the corner for the last 15-20 mins, tens, even perhaps a hundred walkers heading upwards. Such a relief to have gone early. Most braced for the now heavy rain but a few total idiots, not even in waterproof gear or jeans!

So we hit the car park and the car, there and back moving time of 109 minutes. Awesome. Steaming stripped naked bodies in the car park to cool off in the pouring rain......10 mins later, in the car and home!

Snowdon NYE summit run. Done!
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