On Saturday 31st of October I did the Trailscape marathon in Newport. This was the Northern race in the Trailscape rail to trail series that heads North, East, South and West of London so runners can race some great trails. I was asked by James and Claudia to join the AR (Advent Running) Adidas trail team a few weeks ago and instantly accepted the invite to race with them. Since meeting Advent Running we have enjoyed some great events, we smashed the Adidas Thunder Run, ran 50k (58k in the end) along the river crossing a lot of bridges on the way and have run for all kinds of reasons including bagels and beers.
I run for a lot of the same reasons these guys do and therefore I’m looking forward to doing many more events and races with the team. The team is being supported by Adidas (as you could probably tell) and Stance socks which is great.
Despite doing the Bristol+Bath Marathon on the 25th of October I couldn’t resist signing up to the first trailscape race and decided the marathon distance would be a good challenge to see if I could recover quickly enough. I have tested myself in quite a few ways this year from numerous half marathons, marathons, Wings for Life (being caught by David Coulthard) to 24 hour team relays, fell races etc. I was nervous but excited to see how I would feel on this second marathon in six days. In the week between Bristol+Bath and the trailscape marathon I didn’t run much. I was back in Holsworthy, Devon for a couple of days after B+B and therefore couldn’t resist about an 11 mile run on Tuesday taking in my old stomping grounds. Holsworthy Viaduct
I visited all the houses I used to live in whilst running through my hometown taking in the park and some great views.
The only other running I did in the week was the Victoria Park Harriers 2.9 mile handicap on Thursday night. I was planning to take it easy and use it as a shakeout run but those of you that know me or have read previous posts will know what happened. I said I was going to run 18 minutes for the 3 laps but ended up doing closer to 17 minutes as I felt good, I finished in second. In hindsight I maybe should’ve taken it a bit easier but I’ll learn at some point. I rested on the Friday and got a pretty early night after going to watch Spectre (great film!). I woke up at 5.30 on Saturday to get my kit ready and head to meet James, Claudia and Gabriel for 6.30. My legs felt relatively good but I could definitely feel the effects from the marathon the previous Sunday. We got to the race village in good time and set up the AR tent and collected our race numbers etc. The marathon started at 8.30, for me this was good as I don’t like to be hanging around long before a race, I prefer to crack on. There were roughly 50 runners taking part in the marathon, it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. In the marathon for the AR Adidas Trail team was me, James, Ben, Spencer, Claudia, Gabriel and Lucy.
Having looked up the winning times from last year we knew we would finish highly. Myself and James headed off at around 7:15 min/mile pace, pretty much the same pace I did the Bristol+Bath Marathon at. A few other runners were with us for a bit but after a couple miles we opened up a gap. We were chatting away about the Beyond 26.2 event in The Running Works on Wednesday etc and unfortunately didn’t look down to see an arrow pointing right. After a half mile or so we realised we hadn’t seen any tape for a while so turned round to see a lot of other runners heading in another direction. We soon got back on the right trail and made up the ground quickly whilst chatting with fellow runners and AR Adidas Trail teammates. We soon got back into the lead holding the pace we thought was maintainable. It was good to share a lot of the miles with James. Being tired from the Bristol+Bath marathon etc it was good to have someone to chat to. James having completed 5 ironman triathlons, Western States 100 (which is on the bucket list), UTMB and Autumn 100 is a great person to listen to and pick up tips from. Over the marathon and ultramarathon distances pacing and nutrition is key and this is something I am going to experiment with more in the coming weeks and months. One thing I will be trialling is a caffeinated gel for the last 5 or 10k. I generally use the SIS gels, one every 7 miles or so which tends to work but every now and then I feel like I need an extra boost especially in the latter stages of races, hopefully a caffeinated gel has the same effect on me as James, he flew.
Another plus of running with James was that I could see where his foot was gripping or slipping. I took the front every now and then but predominantly I was following him. The course was really varied, there were sections where your feet would slide around, other sections where the mud would stick to your trainers (I wore my Inov-8 Race Ultra 270) and there was a knee deep “puddle” to swim through. It was quite good that the course was two laps because once you’d done the first lap you knew which “racing lines” to take. Albeit every now and then you could still be sliding around like Bambi on ice but that’s all part of the fun right. It was quite good fun to just run through the knee deep puddle, there was no tip-toeing around that. Photo courtesy of @trailscape
I may have to invest (I’m justifying buying more running shoes!) in some more trail shoes soon, my inov-8s were good but it probably would’ve helped to have something with a bit more grip/larger lugs. If anyone has any recommendations give me a shout.
We ticked off the miles. As we were getting closer to 20 miles I started to tire, James was looking strong and started to up the pace a little. I had to ease up as I didn’t think I could maintain the pace and I thought I would be risking an injury if I upped it. James carried on at around 7:15 pace; I really struggled over the last 5k or so. Mentally it was quite hard to fall back and have to run the last few miles on my own. However I decided to ease up a lot and just get round. I just visualised the last section of the route and remembered it was downhill to the finish. A couple of runners passed me on the last few miles and I was thinking “Bloody hell, these guys have paced their marathon well!” Then I remembered the half marathon and 10k had been going on and they were racing in those distances. However I picked up the pace a little for the last mile or so and got the job done. I was disappointed I couldn’t hold the pace and give James a race for his money/wooden plaque prize. Overall though I was happy to get round and be able to enjoy 27 miles through the countryside. I can’t complain with second place in 3:30:27 six days after doing my 5th marathon. That’s six marathons in 18 months now, little bit mental really. It’s good to know I can do marathons back to back weekends, albeit in compromised times, but I’m not planning on doing it often. A huge thanks has to go to the Trailscape organisers, the event was really well organised. The medal, t-shirt and buff are awesome! Well done to everyone that ran the first trailscape race whether you were doing the marathon, half marathon or 10k. The AR Adidas trail team was represented strongly:
10km – 1st Alex Van Oostrum @alexvanoostrum
Half Marathon – 3rd mens Fabio Rizzo, 2nd female Frida Sofia @missfridasofia
Marathon – 1st mens James Poole @jamesdpoole, 2nd mens Me @stephenskinner6, 1st female Claudia Schroegel @claudi8sA lot of the team also placed in the top 10 across all three distances and some great times were achieved on a tough course. If you want to follow more of the teams racing and adventures I recommend you follow Advent Running on Facebook, Twitter (@adventrunning) & Instagram (@ar-collective). There is a lot coming up! I personally can’t wait for the next trailscape marathon on the 5th of December in Cuxton, Kent for the East race. I also need to look into the logistics of doing some of the Maverick races next year.
Well done to everyone that ran in the New York marathon at the weekend by the way. Looking forward to hearing about it, see a lot of you soon.