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!