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Salomon Sunset Series – Box Hill, London

On Saturday the 24th of June I took part in the Salomon Sunset Series London 10k. I always keep an eye on Salomon Running on social media because their kit is great, they create some awesome videos and sponsor many of the best trail/ultra-runners. When they announced they were organising the Sunset Series a few months back I was really keen to get involved because I’d never ran around Box Hill, I knew some friends would be taking part and with OCC coming up I need to get some hills in. I was lucky enough to be offered a free place as I have reviewed some Salomon shoes in the past and I’ve recently been selected to take part in the Suunto Training Squad.

I was really looking forward to the event but knew that it would be a big challenge as I took part in the Orion Fell Race in Epping Forest on Friday night. The 5k included 900+ft elevation gain. I finished 7th in 22:20 knocking 48 seconds off the time I ran in 2015, my legs were not happy. During the day Lorna and I travelled east to have lunch with friends. It was nice to catch up with Ben and Maz and meet Will, Hayley and baby Jackson. Late afternoon I started my journey across London to Box Hill. I bumped into Mollie and Frankie on the train, it was good to have a catch up and speculate how tough the event would be.

We arrived at Box Hill an hour or so before the start meaning we could have a good chat with some of the Advent Running/Adidas Running lot, sort our race kit and drop bags. Throughout the afternoon Salomon had been putting on trail workshops and Q&As, it was cool to hear from Max Nicholls about his training, racing and goals. To loosen my legs up a bit I did a few strides before listening to the briefing and positioning myself near the front in the start pen. Knowing the 10k course included 250m+ of elevation gain I took it relatively steady off the line; I wanted to keep the lead pack in view but was confident that I would be able to move through the field once we got to the hills.

Having not taken part in many trail races recently I was excited to tackle the challenging course and I enjoyed the fact I didn’t need to look at my watch as I wasn’t aiming for a time.

Photo courtesy of @claudi8s

After 2k of running on the flat I arrived at the first hill, we gained 60m in 500m then from 3k to 3.7k we ran up another 100m. Thanks to the OH Fell Race my legs were tired but strong at the same time; I managed to overtake quite a few runners on the first couple of hills and was feeling good and enjoying the descents. From 7k to 8.5k there was a really nice smooth downhill section where I let my legs go. With more than a kilometre to go though I knew there would be another sizeable climb. There was a U-turn at the bottom of the hill to pretty much go straight back up again.

The final big hill was really demoralising as it was open, you could see the brow of the hill from the bottom and couldn’t help but long to be at the top with the click of your fingers. I could see two runners up in front and used them as motivation; with some words of encouragement from JP who was descending parallel to me I got my head down and refused to slow to a walk.

Iffley Road Cambrian River T-Shirt, Iffley Road Thompson Shorts, Stance Run OTC, Salomon S-Lab X-Series

Once at the top of the climb the last 500m or so was pretty flat. I crossed the line in 45:04, surprisingly in 3rd position.

https://www.strava.com/activities/1052324835/overview

Photo courtesy of @claudi8s

Overall the race was a lot of fun; I definitely need to run more trail races. After grabbing my wooden coaster, bottle of water and clif bar we cheered in the rest of the runners.

In the next few months I am going to try and make it a priority to run more trails and venture further out of London.

If you haven’t given trail running a try I would definitely recommend one of the Salomon Sunset events, fingers crossed they’ll be around next year and more people will get involved.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

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Advent Running 2016

Those of you that follow me on Instagram or Twitter will be aware that throughout December I have been taking part in Advent Running.

The AR #runforsprouts & #runfromsprouts tees 

Advent Running is the brainchild of James Poole & Claudia Schroegel; it’s a free and simple challenge that aims to keep people active throughout the busy month of December. The aim is to do 30 minutes of exercise each day whether that is running, swimming, cycling, yoga etc – it doesn’t matter. As I’m predominantly a runner I chose to run for 30 minutes every day, this is my second year taking part as I really enjoyed the run streak in 2015.

Running isn’t just for Christmas, James and Claudia lead runs and coach sessions throughout the whole year. They take a track session on Tuesday nights at Mile End Stadium, starting at 7pm. If running around in circles isn’t necessarily your thing you could join the group on a Thursday morning bright and early to run for bagels. They meet outside Beigel Bake on Brick Lane at 6.45am for a 10kish run around London, taking in the sunrise and city sights. If that wasn’t enough, you can get your long run in with AR, generally a lot of the group train for marathons and so they share the miles together on a Sunday. They meet at 10:30 in the London Marathon Store.

Claudia leading the group over Millenium bridge on the Christmas jumper bagel run

As well as continuing their normal running schedule/structure James, Claudia & the AR elves put on some extra special events in December.

 

DJ JP (photo courtesy of Michael Koball)

There is always a big launch party, escape the city trail runs, run for pizza events and they put a festive spin on the track sessions (#TrackCheeseday) and the bagel run (run in Christmas jumpers, run for trees etc).

Obligatory jazz hands…

 … and jumps! 

These events definitely help me get in the festive spirit, normally I only really feel like it’s Christmas on the day and that’s it. The run streak gets me into a good routine and makes me realise how you can get miles in around work etc. 

This year’s Advent Running has been a little different to 2015 due to the formation of Adidas Runners. They put on sessions on Monday evenings (normally 6:30pm at London Bridge with James, Noel & Olivia) and Friday mornings (normally 7am at Workshop Coffee with JP & Claudi). Due to it being the off season and there being lots of promotional activities in London, Adidas have been able to invite special guests along to many of the sessions. This has included the likes of Tom Daley, Jo Pavey, The Brownlee Brothers and Jessica Ennis-Hill. I have been incredibly fortunate to get places for a few of the events; this has meant I’ve been able to chase Jonny Brownlee in a Friday morning Fartlek session and learn some drills from Jessica Ennis-Hill at Battersea Track. 

Due to working for Run-Fast/at The Running Works I was also really lucky to have a great chat with Jo Pavey over brunch in The Secret Frog Coffee Shop. She’s incredibly inspiring and ridiculously humble.

The Run-Fast/The Running Works Team and Jo Pavey

Those of us taking part in the Advent Running streak are on the home stretch, it’s these last couple of days that are the most challenging but I hope everyone can get their 30 minutes in. Advent Running is one of the biggest reasons I decide to run on Christmas Day. I recently wrote a blog for Iffley Road about “the virtues of the Christmas Day run” you can read it here: https://www.iffleyroad.com/blogs/journal/the-virtues-of-the-christmas-day-run. I apologise for writing this blog now if you’re only just finding out about Advent Running, there’s always next year I guess and I’m sure it’ll be even bigger and better (if that’s possible) than ever. If you’re reading this James & Claudi, thank you for thinking of and organising such a great initiative. I’m glad you’re sharing your passion for running with everyone and it’s great to see so many people getting involved.

Good luck for the rest of the run streak everyone and I hope more people will get involved next year.

Happy Christmas!

Steve

2017 races, goals and adventures 

Now that I have run my last serious race of 2016 it’s time to start looking forward to 2017, set some goals and plan races and adventures. This year I managed to achieve some big goals, for example going sub 1:15 in the Cardiff Half Marathon and getting to run the London Marathon. Similarly to 2015 once I had achieved certain goals I failed to set new targets for the second half of the year. Despite that I ran some great races and was happy with my times.

My PBs I will be looking to better in 2017 are:

1 mile: 4:43 (City of London Mile 2016)

5k: 16:31 (Run Through Battersea Park 5k 2015)


10k: 34:50 (Orion Harriers Fast Friday 2016)


Half Marathon: 1:13:22 (Cardiff Half 2016)


Marathon: 2:54:08 (London Marathon 2016)

I always find it hard to set new goals but I think the big one for me in 2017 has to be the Marathon. I was hoping to go closer to 2:45 in the London Marathon this year but I couldn’t quite hold the pace in the last few kilometres. Due to Boston including heartbreak hill I may have to look for a flatter quicker Marathon in the second half of the year to improve my time considerably. However I’m going to be prioritising track, tempos, hills and the long run in training for Boston and I will see how it goes. Here’s a list of the races I’ve got lined up so far and my aims:

Brighton Half Marathon – 26/02/17 – 1:13

Essex 20 – 05/03/17 – improve on 2:03 from 2016

Colchester Half – 12/03/17 – beat 1:16 from 2016

Boston Marathon – 17/04/17 – 2:45-2:50

Night of the 10,000m PBs – 20/05/17 – sub 34 minutes

City of London Mile – ? – 4:35

I’m really looking forward to the races I have lined up. As well as the ones mentioned above I am going to take part in a couple of XC races in January to build some strength. I’m always on the look out for more races so if there are any you’d recommend drop me a message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram etc. Also let me know what races and adventures you have planned.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be carrying on with the Advent Running run streak and may take part in the odd parkrun/Santa run to keep me entertained until the new year.

See a lot of you soon

Steve 

First Cross-country fixture: Not much mud

On Saturday the 15th of October I took part in my first cross-country race. A couple of months ago James & Claudia (Advent Running/AR Collective) announced they would be putting men’s and women’s teams into the Surrey League. I was interested straight away as it made me think back to when I ran a couple of cross-country races at school. I just remember it being freezing cold, tipping it down and struggling to stay on my feet due to ALL the mud. It was so much fun! If you’ve read my blog before you probably know how much I enjoy racing, I couldn’t wait for the first xc fixture to come around.

Being the “new kids on the block” we have joined the Surrey Cross Country League in Division 4. Going into the first race I was a little apprehensive, as I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was wondering how quick our competition would be and how tough the course would be. Things not worth thinking about really as I couldn’t control them. I was also apprehensive because I didn’t know how my legs would feel being just two weeks after Cologne Marathon and six days after the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Wanting to do well I decided to rest a lot in the week, the only real hard session I did was at Track on Tuesday night. The rest of the week I kept my legs ticking over by doing the Running Works Run Club on Wednesday and Thursday lunch times.

As the race started at 2pm I got a nice lie in and chilled for a couple of hours before heading to Wimbledon Common. Luckily as I now live near Oval it didn’t take long to get to the Common, once I arrived I met up with the lads. As James (Poole) was pacing Nic at Autumn 100 and Claudia was racing in Nonsuch Park, James Brewster & Tony To got us organised handing out our cool AR XC race vests and race numbers.

Once we’d all got our race kit on, including race spikes or trail shoes, we got in a couple kilometre jog to warm up. We ran the first few kilometres of the route; it was good to see how muddy and narrow/wide it was going to be.

Photo courtesy of Tony To

Once we got back to near the start line we were greeted by some of the girls, they had travelled over after their race to support and cheer us on. They let us know their race had gone well.

As the start time neared we positioned ourselves behind the line, knowing there were a couple of narrow sections we got pretty close to the front of the pack. It’s only when everyone makes their to the start that you realise how many runners are competing. For some reason I imagined that there would only be 50/60 runners racing, turns out there were hundreds. This was because we were racing with Divison 3. We were due to be given division numbers to have on our backs so we knew who we were racing but unfortunately none of the teams were given them. Before we knew it we were off. Thinking the route was 5.6 miles (as described on the surrey league website) I set off at what I thought was a maintainable pace, somewhere around 3:45min/km pace. The first few kilometres were spent trying to work my way past runners, in hindsight I should’ve positioned myself a little further up on the start.

I settled into my pace/rhythm and was feeling good; the course was pretty firm which helped. There wasn’t much mud at all. After 2km or so there was a section through a field where the grass was pretty long and soft and this meant more effort was required to maintain a good pace. The first 5/6 kilometres went by really quickly, mainly because the route was varied, there were a few ups and downs and I was focussing on the runner in front trying to chase them down. Knowing the route was two loops was a little surprised that I hadn’t passed through the start area until I got to around 6k. I was thinking, “this course is a hell of a lot longer than 8k, maybe we are doing 11k?” or “ok, the second loop isn’t the same as the first and will be 2/3k long”. I carried on running between 3:45 and 4min/km pace and just thought I’d have to hold on for as long as possible.

It was great to have a cheer crew, complete with cowbells, around the route. Having started pretty quickly the last few kilometres were always going to be about holding on. My legs were tiring quickly; they felt heavier and heavier having to lift them out of the long grass through the open field for the second time. I passed Spencer and Cassie (the dog) on this section and it definitely helped seeing a friendly face there. I really enjoyed the section after that as there is a slight downhill and you’re weaving your way through some trees. I soon got to 8k and knew that I was still a fair way from the finish line. I had to ease up a little as my legs were tightening up, especially on the one long hill. I got up the hill eventually, I felt as though I was crawling with concrete blocks tied to my feet. Once over the hill I knew there was only a kilometre or so to go on the flat.

I passed the Advent Running crew again and collected a power boosting high five from Claudi. I was working hard and couldn’t wait to see the finish funnel and clock. My watch had just ticked past 10k and then I was on the home straight. I would’ve like to have been capable of a sprint finish and to catch the runner a hundred metres or so in front of me but all I could muster was a slight increase of pace trying to avoid pulling a hamstring. I crossed the line in 38:56 but more importantly in 23rd position overall and 5th in Division 4, helping the team.

Once through the finish I spoke with Martin who had a great run, he was the first of the AR team to finish in 3rd place. We cheered our teammates in, and they were crossing the line thick and fast. Not knowing which runners were in Division 3 or 4 we had to wait until Saturday night for the results but we knew we’d done well as everyone was placing so highly. Post race we refuelled, Nikki had baked some delicious cakes for us, and Claudia had brought along some bananas etc.

On the Saturday evening my phone was going crazy with notifications from Facebook due to photos being uploaded. Then the results were posted and Claudia announced the girl’s claimed sixth place in the league, well done!! She then let us know that we are at the top of the men’s league by a considerable margin. Great work lads!

Overall it was a great day, I can’t wait for the next fixture in November and I’m hoping for more mud. To keep up to date with how the AR teams are doing follow @ar_collective @adventrunning on Instagram & Twitter.

Next up for me is Tough 10 in Epping Forest on Sunday, should be a fun event!

See a lot of you soon

Steve

The Royal Parks Half Marathon 2016

On Sunday the 9th of October I took part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I decided to enter the ballot earlier this year because I ran the event in 2014 and really enjoyed it. Back then I wasn’t in great shape so I thought it would be good to take part again and try and achieve a better time. When I signed up I didn’t know I was going to be doing the Cologne Marathon the weekend before so my approach to the race changed slightly.
During the week between Cologne Marathon and the Royal Parks Half I rested quite a lot. The only real running I did was for The Running Works Run Club and even then I did less sessions than normal. Thanks Nikki for looking out for me and telling me to rest. As the race was approaching my legs were feeling more normal as the days were passing. I knew they wouldn’t be completely fresh but I was hoping they’d feel good enough for me to give it a good crack.

With the race starting at 9am I got an early night on Saturday. Lorna and I woke up a bit before 7am to give us time to get stuff together. She would be cheering me on from the sidelines as she had chosen not to enter due to other races and the entry fee being expensive. For the second week running (pun intended) Lorna looked after all my stuff so I didn’t need to use the bag drop and gave me lots of loud cheers. It definitely helps having someone alongside you at races to take away some of those little stresses. We got the bus to Hyde Park Corner and met up with Tom at the entrance to the park and Ash, Julian, Laurent & Mark in the race village.

The race start time came around really quickly. As I had put in an estimated finish time of around 1:20-1:25 (I think) I was in the orange start pen, which was good as it meant I didn’t have many people in front of me. Mark Foster and Ben Fogle did short speeches about the Royal Parks and the race and before we knew it we were off. I’d decided to aim for around 1:20 so set off at 3:45min/km pace. I wasn’t really sure whether my legs would have it in them after Cologne Marathon but I was willing to find out. I think its good every now and then to push it on tired legs, as I mentioned in my last blog post I am trying to use races to pick up fitness and get back into the shape I was in when I ran Cardiff Half.

I started the race with a 3:43 minute kilometre, which is testament to getting in one of the front start pens and the width of the roads in that section. After 1km you are running through Green Park and shortly after you head past Buckingham Palace and along Birdcage Walk. Running in that area of London always gives me flashbacks to finishing races like the London Marathon, London 10,000 and the Westminster Mile. I’ve got some great memories of racing near Buckingham Palace, I feel incredibly lucky to run in London day in day out around such epic landmarks. The next few kilometres were less scenic as you are running along a few main roads, you run east to near Somerset House before doing a U-turn to head back along the strand and onto The Mall. At this point I was feeling strong and maintaining my goal pace. That said it was early days as when you are running along The Mall you have covered 5 miles.

The crowds were out in force as it was such a nice day. It was particularly busy around Buckingham Palace and up Constitution Hill, which was good, as when trying to hold a quick pace, that straight seems to go on for a while. As mentioned by Ben Fogle on the start line you don’t want to be struggling as you enter Hyde Park, there is still 7 miles to go. I still felt good at this point but knew that at any moment my legs could tighten reminding me I’d run a marathon the weekend before.

 I covered a few kilometres within Hyde Park but then unfortunately came a first for me in a race; I needed to nip to the loo. I was around the 8 mile point and had to ease up. I ran at around 4min/km pace for a while before getting to the toilets near the bandstand on Serpentine Road. After a quick stop I was back on my way, I knew that 1:20 would definitely be out of reach but I aimed to claim a few seconds back over the next few kilometres. Despite my best efforts my stride had been broken and I could only manage around 4 minute/kms until the finish.

 I was a little frustrated that I couldn’t run quicker and get closer to 1:20 but on the other hand I was happy to be able to run a nice half marathon the week after a marathon and enjoy it. My legs were tightening as the final kilometres were passing and I was entering cruise/damage limitation mode. I got massive cheers from the Advent Running crew at mile 12 and from Lorna and Nat as I was running down the long home straight of Kensington Road. Thanks for the shouts everyone, really appreciate it! 

 I crossed the line in 1:23:11 finishing in 86th position, pretty happy with that considering the circumstances. One day I’d like to race the Royal Parks Half fully rested and see what I could do. 

  

I collected my medal and then joined Lorna and Nat in cheering other runners through the line. We didn’t quite have the same effect on runners as the guy with the megaphone 800m or so before the finish line shouting “push, push, push, push!!” but we tried. A big shout has to go to Ash, Tom, Laurent, Mark, Julian etc for all running great times.

Overall the race was great fun, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone. I’d kind of class it as a mini London Marathon so if you want to run a flat, fast route and be cheered on by great crowds then enter the ballot. After all everyone loves a ballot right! Ha

Hope those of you in the ballot for London got in and to those of you who didn’t there are plenty of other great marathons out there so start doing some research.

Next up for me is some cross-country on Saturday with Advent Running. See a lot of you soon.

Steve

The North Face Zagori Marathon 2016

On Saturday the 23rd of July Lorna and I took part in the Zagori Marathon. We signed up a few months back and the initial plan was to run it with Michalis and Freya. The main reason we signed up was because Michalis is Greek and could show us around but unfortunately due to injuries etc neither of them could make it. Having paid for the race, accommodation and flights Lorna and I still made the trip. We travelled to Athens on the Wednesday before the race and spent a day and a bit there before heading north to Aristi, near to where the race started.It was my first trip to Greece so I didn’t really know what to expect. We arrived on the Wednesday afternoon and headed straight to the pool on the roof of our hotel for a spot of swimming and sunbathing.

The weather was awesome, roughly 30 degrees, I may have burnt a little. In the evening we went to a restaurant, recommended by Michalis, just down the road from our hotel. The food was amazing; we had Greek salad, lots of bread with tzatziki and Souvlaki. The wine wasn’t quite up to standard but it was really cheap so we couldn’t complain really.

On the Thursday morning we went for an exploratory 10k of Athens. Michalis had sent us over a route to follow so that we could take in some of the ruins and run passed the Acropolis Museum etc.

We started our run at around 9am and already it was baking hot. We kept it nice and steady bearing in mind we had a mountain marathon in two days time. After the run we rehydrated and found a nice little bakery near our hotel that sold massive ice creams. We returned to that bakery a fair few times throughout our stay. In the afternoon we chilled by the pool, it was so nice to just relax and not have to do anything. We went for an amazing meal in the evening at Orizontes which is situated at the top of Lycabettus Hill. The hill is the highest peak of Athens which overlooks the capital from 277 meters. This was one of my personal highlights of the trip; we had great food and wine and then watched the beautiful sunset.


After a nice couple of days in Athens the time had come to head up North. We got a taxi to the bus station and then boarded a bus for the 8 hour trip to Ioannina. Once we arrived in Ioannina we were picked up by a taxi arranged by Michalis, we were driven to fifth element to collect our race packs before being taken to Aristi Mountain Resort where we would stay for the weekend. The resort was amazing; the views of the mountains were awesome.

We carb-loaded up before getting an early night as we had to be up around 5 o’clock to get organised and get a taxi to the start.

Our taxi arrived at 5:30am to take us to the race; luckily it was only a half an hour drive to the start, in the village of Kipoi (750m altitude), as the race started at 6:30am. We took a few pre-race photos, dropped our bags off and before we knew it the race began.

Being a mountain marathon there wasn’t the sprint start of a shorter distance race but some of the elite guys took off pretty sharpish. The first 700m or so of the race was on road, luckily I wore my Salomon X-series which have good grip for trail but due to not having any real lugs they are also good on road. Then we ran over a three arched bridge called Kalogeriko entering a well preserved path. Within the first couple of kilometres we went over a couple of stone bridges, the runners at this point were still pretty bunched together. Having not done much research into the route both Lorna and I were surprised at how rocky and technical the terrain was. We followed the river bank for about 2km before running inside the gorge, we found ourselves clambering over massive rocks/boulders. Despite the challenging route we were making good time and knew we’d make the cut off time of 4.5 hours for halfway.

 We passed through a couple of refreshment stations, one at about 7k and another around 11k. The next station was at 17.5km in the Voidomatis springs. This was where the intense uphill for about 10 kilometres started. Papigo was the site for the halfway point and aid station number 4. Lorna and I had made it to halfway in roughly 3 hours. It was a relief to get there in good time and have the opportunity to fuel up; there were crisps, cake and boiled potato etc. Having looked at the elevation profile a fair amount we knew the hard work was ahead of us.

The uphill was pretty brutal, it was still incredibly rocky. In hindsight prior to the race we should have hit the trails more often and prioritised hill sessions, however we were managing. The poles were coming in handy and Lorna felt more stable using them. Every now and then we had to just take some time to look around and enjoy being in the mountains, the scenery was spectacular.

None of the photos really do it justice. We continued climbing up until around 28k where there was a short sharp downhill section. This proved challenging as it was so steep and the ground was sliding away from beneath us, we had to put the brakes on. After the downhill section there was a little more climbing to do before a sustained period of running downhill. With the course profile in mind I knew where the ascending and descending was, the only thing I didn’t know was that not an awful lot of the downhill section were runnable (for us anyway). The 80km and marathon routes overlap so we saw some of the ultra-athletes flying down the side of the mountain. It was awe-inspiring to see them running with such balance and quick feet.

After the 6th refreshment station at around 31k things were pretty slow going, we were tired from all the climbing. We were running for what must’ve been close to two hours before reaching another aid station. Lorna asked one of the photographers on the route how far we had left to run and he replied “6 or 7k” we couldn’t quite believe it. We finally made it to Avgerinos and the 7th aid station; this was 37.7k into the race. Having done the first half marathon in 3 hours we couldn’t believe we were going to be pushing it to finish in the cut off time of 9 hours, especially with so many other runners behind us. We started to question whether we would even get a medal or anyone would be there at the finish. The pace picked up a little but a considerable amount of time had passed and the finish line was still not to be seen. On the horizon we could see a small marquee with a few people outside, we’d been running for ages since the last checkpoint and thought we must be approaching the finish but no it was another aid station. We were both thinking “this has to say 40k+, we haven’t just run only over a kilometre”. To our amazement it said 39k. It goes to show you can’t underestimate the terrain in trail races; kilometres can take a seriously long time. We shot off from the aid station in a bid to make the cut off time.

The first kilometre or so from the aid station was ok; we could hold a decent pace. Then came a section where we had to zig zag down the side of a hill. At this point we could hear and see the crowds at the finish line in the distance; Lorna and I were trying to predict how far away it was and how long it would take to run there. The final kilometre was pretty flat through a town on the road; this gave us chance to pick up the pace. We made it onto the red carpet/finish straight and could muster a sprint finish. Luckily we had made it across the line in 8 hours and 45 minutes. It was such a relief, we received are medals and then grabbed a drink to rehydrate.

It was such a long day running through the mountains but what a day! It was such a brutal but beautiful route, one I hope to tackle again in the future.

After the race Lorna and I had a few days in Aristi and Sivota to relax. We went rafting and chilled with Fred the Flamingo on the beach.


 On a whole the trip was amazing; it was nice to spend time in Athens, explore the mountains and then chill by the sea. A massive thankyou has to go to Michalis for helping me and Lorna get organised and travel around Greece.I’m already thinking about the possibility of doing the marathon again or even the 80k. Athens Marathon will also have to be done at some point soon.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Stance European Street Art Tour – London

As I work in The Running Works (http://run-fast-retail.net/) I was lucky enough to be invited to the first part of the Stance European Street Art Tour in London a couple of months ago. Stance is an American sock and underwear brand. They produce all kinds of socks, ranging from casual everyday socks to technical socks for professional athletes competing in the NBA and MLB to name just a few.

Over the last few months we have been selling the technical running socks in store. I have to admit before the tech rep/s came in to the store to let us know about the product I hadn’t heard of Stance. My manager and the reps let me know that they are massive in the states especially as they are the official sock of the NBA and MLB. As members of staff we were given a pair to try out. Initially I was thinking “Oh it’s just another sock, it’ll just be pretty comfortable as they all are”. Prior to wearing Stance I wore lots of different running socks. I would make a day to day decision based on what trainers I was going to wear and what the weather was like, I’d alternate between Balega, X-socks, Hilly and Adidas. Now I generally always opt for Stance. The reason being they are super comfortable due to the 200 needle count and they have a reinforced heel and toe so they hold their shape really well. This was demonstrated to me by one of the reps, if you put the sock into a foot shape it will stay in that position. There aren’t many socks that will do that. They also come in a variety of heights (tab, crew, OTC) so you can choose which you prefer depending on what run your about to head out on, for instance if I’m going to do some trail running I’ll put on the OTC to save my legs from being scratched and to provide some compression.

Another big selling point for Stance is that they look good. There is a wide variety of Fusion Run socks available (https://www.stance.com/shop/men/performance/run) so depending on what trainers you wear there will always be a pair to match them up with. Having a large (read massive) collection of running trainers it has been fun in recent months to play around with different sock/trainer combos.  

James, Claudia (Advent Running founders and Adidas Runners captains) and I coined the phrase #STANCEOFF a while back and have been sharing our favourite sock and trainer combos on Twitter & Instagram, just search the hashtag and get involved. It has been funny to see the likes of Anton Krupicka & Rickey Gates sharing their Stance sock pics with the hashtag too.

Right where was I, oh yeh the Stance European Street Art Tour. When I received the invite I was excited because I knew that they would organise a cool, fun event. It was definitely that. I arrived at the venue, which was a basement in East London, after work around 6pm. I’d sprinted up from the office to make it in time as it was a pretty early start.  

On arrival there were displays showcasing some of the Stance collection and there were a lot of blank rectangular cardboard boxes stacked on the back wall. I had a look around the venue, checked out what socks and goodies I’d been given in a tote bag and dropped off my bag so that I was ready to run. Having been on a street art tour (organised by Freestak/Like the Wind mag) before I was looking forward to it. It was a really nice evening to be exploring East London.  

 We convened outside for a group photo and then we were led off by our tour guide.  

    
There was a pretty big group of us running, it was good to catch up with Claudia and James, Mollie (PT Mollie) and have a good chat with Kieran Alger (ManVMiles).   
The tour took in a lot of street art including works by Banksy, Eine, ROA and Stik etc. 
   When we arrived back to base we realised that the blank rectangular boxes were actually a canvas for a graffiti artist to create a work of art on.  

We watched him working his magic for a bit but then pizza arrived, pizza is always a big priority. Another cool thing Stance put on was you could have a photo taken and it could be printed onto the side of a bottle of beer, clever! Most people stuck around for a while to enjoy the DJ set, eat food, drink beer and chat about running basically. 

As the event was coming to a close Simon, Julie, Lenka and Alex (all of Freestak/Like the Wind) dismantled the wall of cardboard boxes and handed one out to each of us. 

We were all given a piece of art to take away with us which was a nice touch. Overall it was a great event! Here is a link to a video of the evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oeeKPKurVg

If you want to find out more about Stance follow them @Stance & @StanceRun #theuncommonthread

See a lot of you soon

Steve

P.s. Stance even do socks with cactus with sunglasses on  

 P.p.s. Excuse the pasty white legs!