Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Spine

I have really lost the plot now!!

From 14-21 January 2012, I am competing in the first running of The Spine. Labelled as "Britain's most brutal race", The Spine is a non-stop 268 mile winter ultramarathon encompassing the entire length of the Pennine Way.

Running from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, the Pennine Way crosses some of the most beautiful, difficult and challenging terrain in England, including the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park & The Cheviots. Competitors will face the most extreme weather conditions England has to offer - deep snow, ice, wind and rain in a gruelling 7 day race. Tiredness, fatigue and sleep deprivation will also play havoc with performance. It promises to be "interesting".

In a moment of complete and utter madness I've entered this crazy event.

The Spine home page

The Spine facebook page

I'm hoping to raise some money for Help for Heroes and have set up a Just Giving page.

I'd be really grateful for any donations - they may just ease the pain a bit.

Cheers and Merry Christmas everyone - will keep you updated

The route!!!!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Brecons Ultra 19th November 2011, 45 miles

A rather belated write up of The Brecon's Ultra.

Interesting race for me – slightly disappointing result but learnt a lot.

I had been feeling great all week before the race and was really up for this race, and amazingly in good health!! Drove down to Talybont-on-Usk making really good time to not-so-sunny Wales. Soon settled into the bunkhouse arranged by members of the MdS forum, registered for the race, meeting Martin & Sue Like (of Likey's fame) - what a lovely couple. Had a splendid dinner of chilli, rice etc. Good chat with Mike, Bill, Jeff and several others. I was in a 4-berth room but was only joined by another Richard - we had a good natter re ultra's etc! Didn't sleep particularly well - my bunk was like concrete.

Woke early, had a good breakfast of porridge, oat cakes and the staple PowerBar and then wandered through the village for the 7.30 start.

The field of 150+ congregated on the canal and soon we were off at a fairly aggressive pace. Made my way to about 9th then hit a very big hill which seemed to go on and on. Power walked most the way, making good time. Caught Neil Bryant going up then lost about 400m going down - must work on the downhill running - easier to run with gravity rather than against. Was running quite happily in 7th and 8th place at 15 miles, having a long chat with Neil (having caught him again), an experienced ultra-runner who has down several long distance events including Spartathon

Well all good things come to an end.......somehow my bag opened itself and all my kit fell out. Lost a minute or so, trying to get it all back in. 100 m later my shoe lace came undone – another minute lost as my hands were cold and not good at tying laces! Getting annoyed, twisted my ankle. Getting angry, missed a turn (sound familiar) and probably lost 8-10 minutes. Particularly annoying as there were 2 runners about 50m behind me who must have seen me going wrong. Well…..pretty p*ssed off now and mentally totally lost my focus. Tried to pick up the pace a bit but really not bothered after a bit. Got to halfway and spent 5 minutes wondering whether I could be bothered to run another 22+miles. Gave myself a good talking to, put on a cabaret show for the benefit of those at the checkpoint, and with the immortal words “F*ck it!” off I went, probably in 16th/17th place.

Still not mentally very focussed, I totally died going up the bloody big hill for the second time but manned up and got to the top only losing 100m on the guys in front of me. This was helped by the most generous offering of a superb slab of fruitcake by a fellow runner - must have looked a little worse for wear! Praised the Lord when I got to the top of the bloody big hill and knee promptly seized up (ITB, I think) and had to walk all the way down the bloody big hill!! Lost another couple of places. Wondering why I’d ever started doing ultras!! Prolonged walk/run section feeling very sorry for myself with another runner - we felt sorry for ourselves together! Then I got my 2nd wind coming off The Gap and ran most of the rest at 7 min mile pace, picking off a few runners in the process!! 
Funny old game!

Eventually finished 17th in 7:44 and after all that only 24 min behind the 9th placed runner 

Was really chuffed to have “manned up”, toughed it out and finished – and I really shouldn’t be too tough on myself, as I only started running for over an hour again in April and have now finished 4 ultras in pretty good positions – but I now have high (hopefully not too high) expectations of myself. All part of the learning process, I guess.

Check out the first hill......nice!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Next up - Brecon Ultra

So, this week was meant to be the start of a taper (ish) for the Brecon Ultra 45miles next Saturday (Nov 19th).

Had a really solid weekend - 23 miles on Saturday and felt amazingly good doing 15 miles on Sunday. Definitely feeling stronger and generally more resilient to the training burden & stresses. Another week of 60+ miles - happy with that. Gym on Monday, fast 6 miler around work on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday but accidentally (?!) did a slow steady 8 miles, and another 8 miles or so yesterday steadily building up. Definite rest today - haven't got any kit whatsoever with me. Benefit of my job is that I can do most my mid-week running at lunch-time as I can just about 80min running if I'm organised enough. Hill training - no chance - flat as a pancake in rural Lincolnshire - biggest hill is a railway bridge!

Quads seem to have finally settled down and groin is pretty much there too - touch wood. Not surprising that I've been having niggles all summer/autumn as prior to April I hadn't run for longer than an hour on the road for several years and not consistently since my triathlon days finished in 1998. Although always aerobically fit, nothing can really prepare your legs for the pounding!

One thing I've discovering and am really enjoying is running with a headtorch - it's really therapeutic being out in just your own bubble of light - very peaceful.

Really looking forward to the Brecon race - never been to this part of the world before. Hoping for a good run - last ultra of the year and quite possibly last race of the year, so will hopefully hit race day just right and give it a whirl!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Caesar's Camp, 10th October 2011, 50 Miles

What a mad race!

I was entered in the 100 miles race - facing 10 laps of the reportedly extremely tough 10 mile course. However, mentally I wasn't really there for a 100 - I'd had a bad cold (almost man flu!) the week before, my groin had been playing up, and I'd been feeling really lethargic which may have been due to a long taper. I also had to to drop Jenny at Newark train station on the way down - she was off to Minneapolis for the week.

Anyway, I made good time and accompanied by loud music arrived well in time for the noon start. I was met by a large flat sandy expanse - very picturesque. Lots of tents already up. Got talking to some guys from the Isle of Wight who appeared to be eating a 5 course dinner - chicken drumsticks, bagels etc. I had a Powerbar, some nuts and a Rice Krispie caramel bar (yum) - I'm a carb burner!

Henk, the "interesting" Dutch race director informed us that "Registration is open, dickheads" which set the tone for the day! I attached my number 172, attended the highly entertaining brief and then Henk started us with the immortal words, "Right, f*ck off dickheads!"

Well.....the course was flat for at least a couple of minutes, then it was, to put it mildly, undulating for the next 4 miles. Some really steep climbs and even steeper descents on a mixture of sand, loose rocks and path. The steepest bits would be virtually unrunnable even on fresh non-ultrarunning legs - so walking was necessary right from lap 1. Then some pleasant woodland trails to CP1, and jaffa cakes and sweeties! Some more undulating trails, some lovely single track running before a final nasty climb at about 9 miles. Then down(ish) to the start.

My plan was to do the first lap or 2 at around 1:45 so I took the first lap nice and easy and did 1:34!! Calves were really stiff which I think was a side effect of 2 weeks running in my first pair of Inov8's (Roclite 315) - I had decided to start in my Brooks ASR trail shoes which are so comfortable and were fine for this. Nevertheless, was tempted to pack it in after 1 lap as calves were so tight - needless to say, the sight of the start/finish was a lift so off I went on lap 2. Knew I was going way too fast to have any chance at the 100 so made a real effort to go slower and completed lap 2 in 1:36! This lap felt a lot more comfortable and was beginning to get into the race.

Laps 3 and 4 followed the same pattern - toughing out the first few miles then enjoying the middle sections on well-marked trails. Lap 3 in 1:44 and lap 4 in 1:52. Made a risky decision at the beginning of lap 4 to not get my head-torch - the last 15 minutes were "interesting"!

At 40 miles I knew I didn't have 100 in me so made a policy decision to do the 50 and avoid the DNF, safe in the knowledge of a very nice 50 miler. Pfaffed around getting my night kit/head-torch and off I went again. Definitely walked a little more on this lap - think I did 2:12 including a prolonged pitstop at the beginning.

So finished with 50, just under 9 hours and pleased with the effort and also with making a sensible decision. In reality probably not quite got the base yet for doing a 100 miler but I've never been one to not take on a challenge!

Some great positives - kept going at a decent pace for 50 and although I had the to-be-expected few little downers, there was no major melt-down or wall-hitting. Hydration and nutrition was spot on - take home message has to be to take on food regularly - I became addicted to Jaffa Cakes in this race.

Recovery is slow - it's Friday and I may attempt a run today. Not as fatigued as I was after the High Peak 40event but legs just feel "bruised". On great thing is that I have no focal areas of muscle pain/injury - it's totally symmetrical and generalised, rather than my traditional trouble spots.

Would I do this again? Oh yes, its brilliant madness

Am I mad? Probably.......definitely....just ask Jenny!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tapering for Caesar's Camp

Getting ready for Caesar's Camp next Saturday (Oct 22nd). Great hard hill session last Wednesday to finish proper training. Now on a taper which started with much shorter weekend runs (15 and 10 miles) - was out at 03.45 on Saturday morning to practice a headtorch run and also to be back in time for the rugby (World Cup quarter finals). Feeling very strong - weight sessions (via Rory) definitely paying benefits. Niggly injuries seem to be getting better - sore ankle from High Peaks and sore groin.

Think I'll start in Roclite 315's with my very comfy Brooks trail shoes on standby.

Getting excited but rather wary of the unknown territory I'll be entering - we shall see!

Got a really heavy cold (almost man-flu!) - professional hazard.

Loving this ultra-business - it's like a big new adventure!

Friday, September 30, 2011

At last...... last I seem to have recovered from the High Peaks race and my prolonged viral illness. Knew I'd put a lot into the race just to finish but I was beginning to get very fed up with feeling knackered all the time!

Tried a couple of short runs last weekend but felt so tired with absolutely no strength in my legs. Resting heart rate was still 7 or 8 up on normal so I should have guessed the likely outcome. Did investigate a little bit of the Viking Way going south out of Lincoln though which was a pleasant change, as I'm getting really frustrated by the lack of hills etc round here - at least it was mildly undulating!!

Anyway, took Monday off and then did a belting 6 mile tempo run Tuesday lunch-time and that got the endorphins going! Longer slower run Wednesday lunch - feeling good again but managed to re-strain one of my left hip flexors. Very gentle 7miles yesterday just to confirm that my groin really did hurt! Really must learn to listen to my body rather than paying homage to the training diary/weekly mileage.........

Hopefully decent long run first thing in the morning - planning to try out my new LED Lenser headtorch in preparation for my attempt on Caesar's Camp - and then 3 week re-taper, if I can actually manage to do the rest thing!

It will have been my first proper week's training since before the UltraRace Peaks - I'm not including my Castleton recce 2 days?!

Caesar's Camp?! Yes, a moment of madness.....but nothing ventured, nothing gained .....or something like that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

High Peak 40 Challenge, 17th September 2011, 40 miles

Writing this 4 days after the race, I'm still tired and my legs are still feeling battered! This was a tough race physically and mentally.

I'd had a stomach bug all week and had been feeling fairly lethargic with it. So an enforced rest/taper for a few days. In fact I'd done very little since my recce 2 weeks earlier due to a slight hip flexor strain. So not ideal preparation - did think about not starting but that would have been far too sensible.....and it's not as though I should know better....

Arrived in Buxton, went for a quick jog and actually felt pretty good. Jenny arrived from Manchester and we went to an Italian for tea - not the best. Back to the hotel, hard bed - and just to add insult to injury, there was a wedding reception until 1am so minimal sleep. Up at 5.20, creeping round the room trying (unsuccessfully) not to wake Jenny up.

Walked to Buxton Community College and registered. Had a natter with Helen & Will, fellow "wrong turners" at UltraRace Peaks - assure them I have my map! Chat with some walkers - they'll be out there 10-12 hours!

Then we all walked down to Broad Walk and it stopped raining just in time for the start at 8. The course essentially heads out east from Buxton goes around Chapel-en-le-Firth up onto Rushup Edge, over Mam Tor, down into Castleton, work its way to Tideswell via Cavedale, down Monsal Dale, up Deep Dale then turns westwards for the last  7 miles back to Buxton - sounds easy! It wasn't!!

Settled into a reasonable pace from the start and began to pick a few people off going up the first hill. Straight away noticed my heart rate was 5-10 beats higher than it should have been for the pace - hmm, thinks I, this could get interesting! A long fast descent to Fernilee Reservoir which I know will induce shin splints post race - I just have to accept this fact after any hard downhill racing.

Felt pretty good until the climb up to Rushup Edge at about 14 miles - no much strength in legs and stomach really "churning" as it had been doing all week. Had to stop behind a wall once on top to "admire the view" but felt a lot better for it.

Met up with Jim who had been in the leading group but had taken a wrong turn and was now heading for CP7 to meet his girlfriend. We ran at a good pace into Castleton where Jenny was waiting to greet us. Was surprisingly told that we were in 10/11th place. It was great to see Jenny but very tempting to jump in the car! Having contemplated stopping here, legs were feeling a lot better so decided to at least get to Tideswell at marathon distance.

Cavedale....ah yes, Cavedale. I died a thousand deaths going up Cavedale out of Castleton. No energy at all, legs cramping - walked almost the entire way whilst Jim shepherded me on and upwards. Realised I hadn't drunk that much and had only eaten half a banana and 1 gel.....bad mistake. Had been so concerned with my guts that I neglected the re-fuelling. Silly boy! Ate lots, drank lots
Got going again on the long downhill section to Tideswell but had pretty much decided to jack it in there - a marathon would be a respectful day out and deserving of at least some ice cream! Jenny was waiting in Tideswell looking very cheerful. Told her I felt shit and was struggling and then I think I said "See you in Buxton" or something equally stupid. I had decided to go into Ironman mode - checkpoint to checkpoint.

Along Monsal Trail something at the top at my left thigh started to go into spasm, followed by something on the lateral side of my knee - insertion of ITB? This led to me running 50m, hopping to  a stop, walking a bit, then doing it all again - must have looked quite comical. Remembered my nurofen, chucked a couple down which seemed to settle thinks down. Walked most the way up Deepdale1, still with Jim - we had begun to lose a few places by now. We were passed by a couple of people Jim knew so he went of with them - I was so grateful for his support - no way would I have finished if I'd been running on my own.

Refilled all my bottles at the top of Deepdale, and had another piece of flapjack. 7 miles to go and now I knew I'd finish and I began to focus on this. then followed a mindless, straight 3mile road section - lovely after 33 miles! And the heavens opened. The forecast rain had held off until now and in fact we had had quite a few sunny spells. Donned by Omm Kamleika waterproof for the first time - very comfortable, very impressed. Walked/ran along the road road section and was grateful to hit the path again at King Sterndale where the sun cam out again too.

Having recce'd this bit I knew Deepdale 2 was approaching - a deep ravine that appears out of nowhere at the bottom of a field. I picked my way carefully down and then walked strongly up the other side, overtaking someone sitting on a bench having a cake stop! Feeling much better now and finishing strongly, ran across the fields to the last CP and hit my emergency jelly beans and chocolate coated coffee beans. Nice!

Then the last 2-3 miles across some fields passing a few slowing runners. A final hill in Buxton and down to the finish where Jenny was waiting - a sight for sore eyes! Received my commemorative mug - makes a change from a medal.

I was so pleased to finish - it had been a really tough day both mentally and physically and was really chuffed to guts it out and finish. Surprised to find I was 19th - thought I had dropped more places.

41.2 miles, 1775m ascent, 6hrs 45 min, 19th/200, 4220 calories burnt!

A really well organised event with a good but low key atmosphere. Well marked course. Perhaps a bit too much road which made it more punishing but some great views along the way. Suffering forgotten, I'll probably do it all again next year!

No wonder it hurt!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Next up - High Peak 40 mile Challenge

High Peak 40 mile Challenge on Saturday which I had been really looking forward to since my last race and particularly since my recent recce.

However...I tweaked something in my groin last Tuesday doing a fast 6 miles, then stupidly tried to run it off the next day. Rested Thursday & Friday and it felt fine. Saturday planned 10-12 miles slow and was fine for 45 min - then sore again so called it a day. Lots of stretching and a couple of gym sessions since. Just done my traditional 3-4 gentle miles as last pre-race run and it feels OK - fingers crossed. My left thigh/groin seems to be rotating it's injuries round at the moment!!

Also think I've got a bit of a bug - been feeling nauseous for 2-3 days and absolutely exhausted - really lacking energy.

Hopefully all will be well by the weekend and I'll feel motivated again but right now, the thought of running 40miles on Saturday doesn't sound like a heap of fun.
Must watch a motivational video!

Monday, September 05, 2011


What a surprise - after Thursday and Friday's effort, my shins really hurt.

Have taken Rory's advice and purchased some Brooks Adrenaline trainers - much lower cut at the back, which should help my Achilles and apparently much better for preventing shin splints - it's all about the angle I think!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Peak District recce

Spent Thursday & Friday in Castleton checking out the route for the High Peaks 40 Challenge - well, I don't want to get lost do I!

On Thursday, I ran from Castleton following the course most of the way to Buxton - Cavedale, Tideswell, Monsal Dale, Deep Dale, then along the road to Chelmorton finishing the route at Cowdale. Then I fiddled my way bak to Castleton via the Monsal Trail and the Limestone Way, the latter of which was not a bundle of laughs. By the end my hip flexors were shot and for half an hour after finishing I could barely walk - but fortunately did make it to a very nice ice-cream shop! Very useful though as a recce and definitely clarified a few possible "going the wrong way" places. All in all, 4:53 and 32 miles - although I was probably out for more like 7 hours. In the evening I had a highly deserved dinner at Ye Old Nags Head in Castleton - sirloin steak which all the trimming, and treacle tart with ice cream - very nice.

On Friday, with hip flexors miraculously OK, I ran along the road to Hope then picked up the old Roman Road (skirting under Win Hill to Hope Cross), then down the valley to Edale, Upper Booth, Barber Booth, up onto Rushup Edge. Then right along the ridge to Loose Hill, down to Hope (which I knew was giving me shin splints) and back to Castleton and a slab of Bakewell Tart with ice-cream :-)
Really nice run, 2:55 and 19 miles.

Even though I'm very familiar with walking along a lot of this (especially through Edale & Rushup Edge), it's so different when running. had a really fun 2 days - although probably not everyone's idea of fun

Friday, September 02, 2011

Fitness Assessment

Met with Rory Coleman at Fitness First in Derby yesterday for a Fitness Assessment and general chat re training.

After a general chat re aims & goals etc and a brief warm-up, Rory flogged me on the treadmill for 12 min up to maximum effort. After this, he calculated my VO2 Max and a predicted time for marathon and 1/2 marathon - 2:35 and 1:14 respectively. Yes, that somewhat surprised me too!! Then he ran me through a new gym session (my thigh adductors are so weak!) , some core stability work and finally he gave me a 12 week macrocycle. We had a chat re upcoming races and diet - must eat more! Altogether I was there for the best part of 3 hours.

Really helpful and productive session which I would highly recommend. Rory is highly motivational and I left really invigorated, and with a real sense of purpose.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

UltraRace Peaks, 21st August 2011, 40 miles

Alarm set for 4.30 am so woke at 2.30am!! 2 thick bits of toast with honey, and PB & jam - yum. Left at 5.30 and arrived at Fitness First in Derby nicely in time without any wrong turns (see later).

Registration was at Derby followed by bus trip to Cromford - all very smoothly done and according to time schedule. A good chance to meet some new people. Had a good chat on the bus - helped ease my nerves. Several uses of the public conveniences at Cromford. Long time since I've been at Matlock Rugby Club. At 7 we started - I got myself a little in no man's land - 100m behind the leading group of 10ish but 100m ahead of everyone else but I gradually got up with the group up the first hill , running well in my HR range. Feeling very strong.

The first half essentially went from Cromford, up Middleton Top, along High Trail eventually joining Tissington Trail. This part was lovely - very picturesque. Long drag up Middleton Top but otherwise flatish with a few undulations. No real navigation required (see later). Mainly hard packed trails with a short field section and even shorter road section. Tissington Trail was long and straight. 3rd at CP1, 2nd at CP2 and feeling really good - eating, drinking well and HR in zone. 

Note to self - should I really have ignored my planned walk:run strategy?
Aid stations x3 were every 10 miles - plentiful water, 9 bars (became addicted to these - yum!), Soreen & winegums. Perhaps something salty/savoury might have been nice. 3rd also had energy drink.

After checkpoint 2 it was down into Ashbourne and here the fun started. Direction markers were by way of painted arrows on the road, small arrows sprayed on lamp posts, small stickers on lamp posts and red & white stripey tape. I was on my own through Ashbourne and had to stop at virtually every junction to ensure I went the right way - I found the markers very hard to spot at times. I think some had also been removed overnight. Then through some fields again with difficulty.Had really lost my rhythm now and hip flexors really started to hurt. Road section through Osmaston, to Shirley (a village!) with 3 others who had joined me.

The group of 4 of us then completely missed a turning and did 1-2 miles extra before CP3. Lost a few places.

Nasty ie painful long undulating road section next. Long Lane - it certainly was! Running in 5th/6th place now - legs hurting a lot, hanging out for the uphills to walk up. I do wonder how much stronger I would have been through this stage if I stuck with my pre-race run:walk strategy - didn't ever feel I was pushing it, but legs might have coped better.

Along with another runner, missed another turning adding another 2-3miles which really was soul destroying. Swore I'd never run more than a half marathon again. 

Finally, back on route, through fields to Mackworth and I seemed to regain some running rhythm as I passed my home until the age of 18 in Mackworth Village. Then through Markeaton Park, through Derby to finish. We had been given a map of the final 2 miles which I religiously held in my hand - wouldn't want to go wrong!! 

Coke, water, medal and LS shirt at finish - Rory & Jen very approachable. Shower at Fitness First was great - having to go upstairs was interesting! Started planning my next ultra!

I can only blame myself for navigational "issues" as most got it right. However, I do feel turns could have been more clearly marked and also with more warning prior to the turn - running for me is a fairly introspective experience so I need something in my face!! Lesson learnt - if in doubt, check map - which I did have in my bag! However, I now know I can do 45 miles!!

I wouldn't hesitate to do this race again - picturesque route and generally well organised - and I have unfinished business.

Well chuffed to now be an official "Ultra Marathon runner" 

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Woke up at 4am and the race isn't even until tomorrow! 

Feeling pretty good though - legs well rested. Will do my traditional 15-20 minute jog/stretch thus afternoon mainly to get some blood low through my rested muscles.

To pack - rain top, map, spare socks, buff, sunnies

Food - gels, power bars, nuts & trail mix, peanut butter & jam sandwiches. Perhaps a revitalising Mars Bar too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ready for my 1st ultra-marathon's my 1st ultra-marathon on Sunday - UltraRace Peaks 40 miles. Excited but nervous.

Training has gone pretty well. I've done some solid long runs, with 5-6 runs over 20miles, going up to 27miles. Have been sticking to my plan fairly well. Did some great hill walking in the Spanish Pyrenees (post to follow!) during our 2 weeks in France/Spain at the end of July, and also a few really nice hilly & sandy trail runs around the flat in Moliets.

A few niggly injuries - left quad. seems to be a law to itself, with a different area sore after each run. Achilles just about holding up but a bit sore over this weekend. Hoping a restful week will do the trick.

Major points going into the race:
1. I have to get comfortable with the run/walk tactic - planning a 25:5 run:walk on Sunday after the first hour running.
2. Don't forget to drink!
3. Don't forget to eat - have to make a conscious effort to keep the calories going in. Planning to take about 100 kCal/30min eg 1 gel or half a powerbar. Will start with 1 bottle electrolyte & 1 bottle carb/electrolyte in order to get Cals in early.
4. Ignore pace and try to run to body/HR - I need to make a conscious effort to start slower and keep HR around 130 or less well into the race.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sponsored marathon 2011/07/08

Did a sponsored marathon at work on Friday morning - 26 "there-and-backs" on an absolutely straight, flat bit of road. The idea was for a team relay - I decided to be a team of one! I was, unsurprisingly, the only person to do the whole lot solo, but the run organiser manfully ran alternate laps with me. Have to say that it wasn't as mentally tough as I thought it would be - once I had 10 miles under my belt, I was nicely in the zone.

Thigh has been a bit troublesome so I took it fairly easily and for the first time tried a run 20, walk 5 strategy which I stuck to religiously. Felt a bit foreign at first but I have to say seemed to make a massive difference, so extremely useful learning there. Used a Gu Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel towards the end with was awesome - and Blueberry Pomegranate flavour was a taste sensation.

Did 3:54 for the run - averaged pretty much 8min/mile for the running. Garmin said 27.1 miles - so does that count as an ultra!!! Felt amazing good afterwards and no untoward injuries - but having the weekend off.

All in all raised £250 for the RAF Association Wings Appeal so chuffed re that.

Here's my scenic route!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


So what is the Marathon des Sables?

The MdS is a multi-day, ultramarathon, held annually in the South Moroccan desert. Run in six days over a course of approximately 150 miles or 240 km long. In 120 degree heat. With a back pack on. The race is self-sufficient - competitors have to carry all their own kit, including food for the entire race, sleeping bag and compulsory items including tropical disinfectant, anti-venom pump, and a signalling mirror! Water is supplied, but rationed to 12L daily. Competitors stay overnight in a tented village, comprised of bivouacs that sleep  8 competitors.

Although the routes and exact distances change every year, an example breakdown would be: Day 1 - 25 km; Day 2 - 34 km; Day 3 - 38 km; Day 4 - 82 km; Day 5 - 42 km; Day 6 - 22 km.  There is a rest day after the longest stage but it’s worth remembering that it may well take you into that day before you get to the finish.

Typically around 1000 runners and up to 200 members of the press, plus the support team of around 400 set off annually for the mere 250 kilometers of vicious terrain ahead of them. There are 300 places for British athletes - for the 2013 race, these places were taken within an hour of entries opening - there are plenty of madmen, lunatics, nutters, headcases and masochists out there!

So why do it? 
Why not.....because I can.......challenge......pushing the limits.......I can't wait!!