Tag Archives: inspiration

Great East Run 2017


On Sunday the 24th of September, I took part in the Great East Run (Ipswich Half Marathon). I decided to do this race because Lorna and the rest of Team Elliot (Alex, Rob, Phil & Rachel) wanted to do it and renew their sibling rivalries. Fortunately, I was contacted a few months ago by Duracell, one of the headline sponsors, and they offered me free entry. Winning!

As Ipswich is relatively local to Lorna’s family we stayed with them in Colchester for the weekend. We arrived just in time for dinner, Rob had cooked chicken and sweet potato fries and Sheilagh (Lorna’s Mum) had made her amazing sticky toffee pudding. Similarly, to before Colchester Half earlier this year on Saturday morning I ran 5k with Rob to shake the legs out. We had both tapered well during the week but wanted to keep the legs ticking over ahead of the big day.

In the afternoon, I played golf with Alex, and Lorna’s Dad Bob. As I don’t play golf regularly anymore it was great to get out on the course, it was a closely fought contest but I just managed to win as Alex found the pond near the 18th green (sorry Al I had to mention it). Lorna, Alex, Rob, Ray and I headed to Nando’s (#NandosAthletes) to fuel up on Saturday night before getting an early night.


The race started and finished just outside Portman Road, Ipswich Town FC’s Stadium. The race village was positioned on the AstroTurf just outside the stadium and conveniently there were lots of large car parks nearby.

Representing #TeamIffley. Photo courtesy of Rob (@rob_elliott_1991)

Number Collection

As with most large running races our numbers were sent to us in the post. I am glad that races now share their race programmes online and that they keep what they send out to a minimum. Attached to the race number was a bag drop label and a few promotional offers.


After fuelling up on bagels for breakfast we arrived at the Race Village around 9am, roughly an hour before kick-off, so we only had to spend a short period of time in the queues for toilets. There seemed to be plenty of toilets available between the car parks and start area and on the AstroTurf near the baggage tent. The bag drop was efficient as the tent was large and each coloured start (orange, green, white) had a designated section. There were lots of volunteers on hand and they all seemed eager to help which is the most important thing.

The Race

Having not visited Ipswich before I didn’t know what to expect of the route. It is becoming increasingly popular that running events start and finish at football stadiums; Colchester Half, Reading Half, Manchester Marathon to name a few. I guess it makes sense as the infrastructure is in place to cater for thousands of participants and supporters. The race started on Russell Road, it was relatively wide and there was room to do a few strides along the pavement before making my way onto the start line. As the weather was nice the crowds were out in force and the adrenaline was pumping.

The first few miles are nice and flat so you can get into a good rhythm and figure out who you’re going to be racing. Around the 5k point near Holywell Park there are some short sharp inclines to contend with but you are soon back on the flat alongside Ipswich Wet Dock. This was one of my favourite parts of the course as supporters cheered energetically from the pavements. The runner in first position was off into the distance but as I was in the chase group we had a cyclist escorting us, geeing the crowd up.

Once we had made it onto the South side of the River Orwell gaps were opening and I knew I would be in a group of three for a while. The other two runners seemed to be holding the pace relatively comfortably, I felt good and decided as there was a long way to go I would tuck in behind to try and shelter from the headwind which was quite strong.

Photo courtesy of Andy Abbott.

At around the 10km point, passing under the Orwell Bridge, I knew a PB or sub 75 was out of the question but I wanted to give it everything and see if I could finish on the podium. Running into the wind and up a long hill that lasted roughly a mile from 12k my pace dropped considerably. However, I knew that the wind would be at our backs once through Freston and heading towards Ipswich city centre.

After 14km one of the runners pushed on and was looking strong, I guess he was aiming for sub 75 and a championship entry time in London next year. I too had picked up the pace a little and so pulled away from 4th place. From 15k I was in no man’s land. Luckily as I was making my way along The Strand and then the A137 I got so many cheers and words of support from runners heading in the opposite direction. It was cool that I got to see Lorna and her brothers and sister and shout at each other, encouragement not abuse ha.

I was starting to hurt with 5k to the finish line. I had no-one to chase, I knew I wasn’t far in front of 4th, my legs were heavy from completing OCC three weeks prior, it was a long straight road but I had to hold it together. Whenever I am in a race and struggling I just keep thinking “I haven’t run this far at that pace to ease up or stop now” or “throughout this race I’ve had a few ups and downs, I’ll feel good again soon”. I held my pace between 3:30min/km and 3:40min/km and refused to turn my head to see how much of a gap I had on 4th.

After crossing the river, there was 2km to go. As I neared the finish line the crowds were growing, the man on the bike accompanying me pointed at the KFC to the right of us and said, “there’s no time for KFC now, you’re almost there”. I turned the corners around Portman Road, I couldn’t hear footsteps or a runner breathing heavily behind me. I upped my pace, I didn’t have a sprint finish in me but I had made it to the line in 3rd position, 1:16:07.

The volunteers at the baggage tent cheered my arrival, I caught up with Lorna’s Dad and did a quick interview (Hi mum!) before cheering Team Elliott and Robbie Smith through the finish.

Left to right: Me, Lorna, Alex, Rachel, Rob, Phil & Robbie Smith.

Everyone ran well and achieved great times; Alex finished in 1:31:27 in 99th position, Lorna crossed the line in 1:32:55, 7th lady and 4th in her age category, Rachel ran a 20 second PB in 1:42:24, Rob did 1:42:51 which is even more impressive given he suffered cramp at 20k, and Phil clocked 1:47:40 despite not training much since his wedding and honeymoon. Overall, I really enjoyed the course and it was a great race. For some reason, I envisaged the route would be pancake flat and so was surprised by the hills but I would still recommend the event for someone looking to do a well-supported, scenic, fast race.


The Great East Run (Ipswich Half) medal is nice; good size, weighty, smart design. Bling geek!

The goodie bag was substantial. It included; a protein bar, oat breakfast drink, water, promotional leaflets etc.

If it fits in the race calendar next year I will definitely return to try and beat my time and position. It was a lot of fun this year!

Next up for me is the Lisbon Marathon in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping to get one decent long run in and then it’s taper time again.

See a lot of you soon,



Night of the 10,000m PBs 2017

On Saturday the 20th of May I headed up to Parliament Hill Athletics track to take part in Night of the 10,000m PBs. In 2015 and 2016 The Running Works retailed at the event so over the last couple of years I have seen how the event has developed and grown. The atmosphere was electric, I wanted to take part and experience the race from lane 1. Last year I ran 34:50 in the Orion Harriers Fast Friday 10,000m at Walthamstow Track allowing me to register for the Highgate 10k. I was initially put on the waitlist as the standard had risen but in the week or so leading up to the races I found out there was space for me. On seeing the start lists I realized I was the slowest, by quite a margin, in the E race. I knew this meant I would be left behind and lapped but I was still really excited to take part, spend the rest of the day cheering on friends in other races and watch the World Championship qualifiers.

I arrived at the track in plenty of time to register, pick up a race day programme from Left Spike Fanzine and sort my race kit. 


Having tested the Science in Sport Go Caffeine shots on Thursday morning before a track session with Hannah Walker I opted to take one at 2:45pm (30 minutes before the start of the race as recommended). It definitely perked me up; I was feeling ready to race and hoped that my legs would loosen up after a few laps. On the start line I had a quick catch up with my friend Dom, chatted to some of the other racers about goal times and then we were led to the start line. Knowing the majority of the guys in the race were aiming for 31-32 minutes I positioned myself at the back as I didn’t want to get caught up, go out too fast and blow up as there is nowhere to hide on track. I stuck to my plan of starting at around PB pace (3:30min/km). The first few laps passed and I was on pace, however it was feeling tough as my legs were heavy and I was already a good few hundred metres behind the rest of the group. I was immediately thinking “Ah man, I probably shouldn’t have pushed it at track on Tuesday or done so many kilometre reps on Thursday morning.” On the other hand I was thinking “Ease up a little and get it done, it’s good training to try and push the pace on tired legs and it’s been a good week mileage wise in training for OCC.”

Photo courtesy of @jamesbrewster 

My race “Afternoon of the 10,000m sufferfest” had begun, luckily though I was ticking off the laps quickly (mentally) thanks to friends and supporters shouting “Go on Skinner!!” every hundred metres or so. It was frustrating not to have any speed in the legs as I was breathing so easily, if someone was running alongside (unfortunately not the case) I could’ve had a nice good chat with them. I was lapped a few times which was demoralising but at the end of the day I couldn’t be too disheartened as I had put myself in that position, the pain was self-inflicted. Every kilometre was becoming slower and slower, I had gone from 3:28min/km to 3:49min/km throughout the race, there were so many times when I thought “I could walk off the side of the track and not many people would notice” but on the other hand I was thinking I would be letting Ben Pochee and the people supporting me down. I finally crossed the line in 36:21, a minute and a half slower than my PB. It was a humbling experience and I learnt if I want to race or do a decent time I definitely need to taper.

Photo courtesy of Steve O’Sullivan Sports Photography 

After finishing the race I walked past two guys lying on the floor exhausted. I felt guilty that maybe I hadn’t put in as much effort as them but once a PB was out of my reach self-preservation was my main priority. I did a quick cool down with Dom, he too struggled on the day but we both know why and what we need to do. I then met up with the Advent Running crew trackside; the first thing I said to them was “don’t ever do 10,000m on track”. The second thing I said was “there’s a 5,000m/10,000m event at Walthamstow Track in a couple of weeks” ha. I grabbed some pizza and we got a good position to watch the rest of the races unfold. In the men’s C race Ben Johnson (Run-Fast) had a great run beating his PB by 15 seconds or so. He’s in great form at the moment having finished the London Marathon in 2:21 earning an England vest in the Toronto Marathon later this year. It’s great to run at track on Tuesdays with the likes of him and Pete Huck (sub 30 minute 10k runner) and see what it takes to get to that level.

I felt relieved to have finished my race; I could relax and enjoy watching the rest of the races with Lorna and friends.

 I was looking forward to seeing who would win out of Dewie Griffiths, Andy Vernon and Ben Connor and the women’s start list was stellar. Andy Vernon opened up a large gap with 10 or so laps to go, the pace wasn’t quick enough to go sub 27:45 (World Champs qualifying time) as it was a little windy, but Andy finished first in 28:16.

 In the women’s race the favourites were Steph Twell, Jo Pavey, Beth Potter, Katrina Wootton and last year’s winner Jessica Martin.

 In the end Beth Potter ran away from Steph Well to win in 32:04. Steph finished just one second outside of the 32:15 qualifying time for the World Champs in August and Katrina Wootton took third after a good battle with Jo Pavey.

 The atmosphere was awesome for the A races, it makes me want to get quicker so I can one day take part in one of the later races.

For a more in depth recap of the day read this great article by sixth counter: http://www.sixthcounter.com/from-highgate-to-stratford

Overall it was an awesome day of running to take part in and observe, I can’t wait for next year already. Thanks to everyone that cheered me on in my race.

I am racing in the Westminster Mile on Sunday so if you’re going to be there give me a shout.

See a lot of you soon


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


The Christmas 5ks 

On Saturday the 10th of December I took part in the Christmas 5ks at Battersea Athletics Track. The event was organised by the Clapham Chasers. Since the Fast Friday 10k track race I took part in early this year I have been on the look out for more track events. I’d mentioned this to Sam Cornforth (runs at track on a Tuesday night and works at Runners Need) and a week or so ago he let me know about The Christmas 5ks. I didn’t sign up straight away just in case other races/events popped up (I get pretty bad FOMO!) but as the day neared the calendar was still free so I registered. 

It had been a little while since I’d raced the 5k distance (apart from the odd parkrun) so I was looking forward to pushing the pace and seeing what time I could manage. Having only just got over the lurgy/a cold I wasn’t too sure how I would feel trying to run quickly so I calculated what paces I’d need to run for various times. The times I had in mind were:

a) 16:30 – 3:18 min/km

b) 17:00 – 3:24 min/km

c) 17:30 – 3:30

As I had been taking part in Advent Running my legs felt quite tight in the week before the race. I think this is mainly because I took part in a shorter track session (including drills) on Monday. Taking this in to consideration I thought I would probably be capable of between 17-17:30 but if they did loosen up and feel good I would try to get as close as possible to my 16:31 PB. 

I ran 4K to the track to warm up and got there in plenty of time to pick up my race number and watch some of the other races. 

I chatted with a couple of other runners and bumped into Joe Spraggins (Clapham Chaser, we met at the Olympic Park Mo Santa thingy last year). We had a good catch up, discussed our goal times for the race and jogged a couple of laps. 

I headed to the start area and did a couple of strides just before the 11 o’clock start. The event was really well organised, there was a special area coned off for us to warm up in. We were all called to the start line where we discussed what our goal times were and what paces we’d have to run. The pacer in our race was for 17 minutes. Initially I was thinking to aim for 17:30 and then up it if I felt good but due to there being a pacer I decided on the start line to follow him and see if could hold on. 

After waiting for the last two runners to join us we were sent on our way. Straight from the off there was a group of four or five of us tucked in behind the pacer. I positioned myself at the back of the pack initially as I didn’t want to have to take a wide line and clock more distance than required. It took a couple of laps for me to find my stride but the legs soon loosened up and I was feeling comfortable running around 3:25min/km pace. I was focussing on keeping close behind the pacer, as the group thinned out a little I passed one or two runners to make this easier. 

At the halfway point the group had shrunk. One of the runners dropped out and two or three others had eased up. There was three of us still on the tail of the pacer, sub 17 minutes was still in our sights. The laps went by really quickly, I guess only having the Fast Friday 10k to compare to it would feel quick. The legs were starting to tighten but there was only a few more laps to go. With 2k left I picked up the pace a little to get alongside and eventually pass the other two sub 17 hopefuls. Before I knew it we were into the last kilometre, I surged again. Due to some decent pacing I had some energy for a sprint finish to cross the line ahead of the other two runners in 16:49. Mission accomplished. 

Here are the stats/splits:

I really enjoyed the race, it was just what I needed to assure myself I still have some speed in the legs despite small mileage over the last few months. Racing with quicker runners is always great too, I feel as though I have picked up some much needed motivation. I will definitely try to race over 5k and 10k more in the new year. 

Joe crossed the line sub 17:30 which was bang on his plan. Well done mate, cracking run! He is going to be training for two Ironman triathlons next year, good luck with that. After my effort I watched the final race with Calum, Scott & Ben (Run Fast cheer crew). This race included a fellow Run Fast member, Davide. 

He ran well and finish in 16:30ish in what is only his third proper race back from injury. Well done mate! 

I hope those of you that have/are racing or training this weekend run well and enjoy it. 

See a lot of you soon


The City of London Mile 2016

On Sunday the 19th of June I ran in my third City of London Mile. In 2014 I ran the race after completing the Hackney Half Marathon; it was a really good idea to put on a wave which allowed runners to travel across from East London to take part. It was the first mile race I took part in; I really enjoyed it and although I was fatigued from running the half marathon in the morning in the heat it gave me a benchmark to know how fast I could probably run a mile. I ran 5:42 which I was happy with considering I ran a 1:21 half a few hours before (not far from my PB at the time). In the first year I was still working at the London Marathon Store and had heard about Run-Fast/The Running Works/City of London Mile via social media. In April 2015 I started working in The Running Works, I couldn’t wait for the City of London Mile to come around as I knew it would be a fun day to work, and run in one of the waves.
Last year I ran in wave 2. Having ran the Westminster Mile in 5:03 a couple of weeks before the COLM I knew I would get close to that elusive sub 5. Being in training for Race to the Stones 100k scuppered my plans a bit. I needed to be doing more mileage so had ran 19 miles on the Saturday before the race. Despite the long run I felt pretty good on the day and managed to run 5:02. I was happy with the result but ultimately I wanted a time with a 4 at the start. With a shortage of mile races around I knew it would be a fair while until I could give it another crack. I really enjoyed the event last year, the atmosphere was great again and it was awesome to see so many friends racing and beating their PBs. I found it really good fun to cheer on other runners, from elite athletes to parents and children in the family waves. The mile distance really is great as it is so inclusive. There was a similar atmosphere to parkrun, there’s a great sense of community.
This year in the build up to the City of London Mile, James, David, Nikki and I headed across the city to show our support for the Ealing Mile. It was a good team outing and another opportunity for me to attempt that sub 5 again. You can read about what happened here: 


After going sub 5 at the Ealing Mile I wanted to try and scrape some more time off. Having been to track regularly over the last year and a bit I was quietly confident, however due to lots of running in the Black Forest and Endure 24 etc my legs were feeling a bit knackered. On the Saturday Lorna and I did a long run to Greenwich and back in preparation for the Zagori Marathon in Greece, it was a really nice day for it, it’s always good to do a long run along the river. On Sunday I woke up bright and early to head towards St. Pauls and the race village site. I couldn’t believe our luck with the weather, it was so nice and sunny. The first couple hours of the day went really quickly, helping to set up The Running Works retail space and putting out signs etc. At about 9:30am I had to run down to Monument station to let one of the vans into the race area, this doubled up as a warm up/shakeout ha. I got back to The Running Works tent to put on my racing singlet and split shorts and then jogged down to the start line outside St. Pauls for 10 o’clock.

In the lead up to the race a number of friends had signed up and were aiming for a time similar to mine, sub 5 again. In the store we had a board put in place for people to write down their predicted times, initially I had set mine at 4:57. This kept creeping down as Ken (massage therapist at work) was coming in to the store and putting down one second quicker than me. This resulted in the hashtags: #KenVSteve, #SteveWho, #KenWho etc. Andy Cohen-Wray had also been making predictions and was dishing out the trash talk pre-race on Twitter. In wave 1 was a couple hundred people, including: Ken, Andy, Robbie Smith, Adam Lennox, Fabio Rizzo, Alex Van Oostrum, Billy Rayner, Ed Price, Paul Martelletti and Gemma Hockett. I positioned myself a couple of rows back from the start line and then before we knew it we were off. Knowing that if I ran around 3 min/km pace I would finish sub 5 I glanced at my watch a couple of times in the first few hundred metres to check I was on the target pace. I felt good after the first 800m so started to up it. I was overtaking quite a few runners and as I took the few corners around Bank I could see Ken. I tracked him down and then on the last corner before the straight up Cheapside I passed him. My legs were still feeling good and I managed a decent kick up the home straight despite it being a little in to wind.  

 I ran straight through the finish line not looking at the clock but I knew I had gone sub 5 again. I love the adrenaline rush you get from racing, especially over the shorter distances. I’ve started really enjoying pushing the pace on shorter reps at track. Having not stopped my watch on the finish line I was wondering what time I’d done. 

In the finish area Ken, Andy and I congratulated each other on a great run, Ken beat his estimated time finishing in 4:48 and Andy ran 5:07. He’d raced the day before and has been racing a huge amount recently, or at least that’s his excuse ;).


After completing my mile I spent the majority of the day in The Running Works tent selling our COLM tees and taking photos of people with the selfie frames. I feel that the event was even more enjoyable this year than last. One of the massive contributing factors to this was a lot of the lead volunteers were Advent Runners. James and Claudia did a great job in helping organise the start and baggage drop areas. The whole group of volunteers were so enthusiastic and energetic in helping make the day great fun for everyone. Another reason this year was better than last year was the Amba Hotels, Mizuno Running City of London Mile t-shirts. It was great to see so many people wearing and running in their bright yellow tees. The selfie frames were also great fun, since the event so many great pics have been posted on Instagram and Twitter using #RunCityMile and/or #CityMileSelfie. A fair few runners from The Running Works Run Club ran in the mile which was good. A lot of them were doing their first mile race, for some it was their first race full stop. Well done to Spencer Herbert, Kay Ma, Effy Bailey, Jo Osmond, Adam Turnbull, Yann Lancien, Rohan Chaffey and Martin White for running great times.
 A special mention has to go to Tony Lee. Tony started running with us in the couch to 5k group a couple of months ago, since then he has been doing parkrun regularly, he smashed one in 25 minutes a few weeks back. On the Monday before the mile we ran the distance on a route near Shadwell basin, he wanted to see how it would feel and what time he could run. We managed to clock a time of 7:31, this gave him a good gauge as to what he could do on race day. Straight after we’d finished the mile he wasn’t out of breath and he could easily ask me what time we’d done, at that point we knew he could run a mile much quicker than that. On race day Tony flew round the City of London Mile course finishing in 6:59! It’s been amazing to see how much he has improved over a short period of time and to go sub 7 is awesome, well done Tony! 

 I hope everyone that attended the event had a great time. I’m looking forward to next year already! Fingers crossed it doesn’t clash with many other races and more people can make it.

See a lot of you soon


Race to the Stones 2015: The start of my ultrarunning 

I’m sure most of you that are reading this are aware that I managed to complete Race to the Stones on Saturday 11th of July. It wasn’t easy or pretty but it has to be up there with one of the biggest and best things I’ve achieved. This is going to be quite a long post and I’m going to try and describe how I felt along the way, aiming to give some tips to those of you thinking about doing ultras.

I’m going to start by explaining why I signed up to this 100k in the first place. There are quite a few reasons, one of them being that a few friends ran RTTS in 2014. After hearing about other runners experiences of the race I did some research and found out about the great organisation of the race, large number of aid stations (mini heavens) and lovely route along the ridgeway. After looking on the website, almost every time I was online the ad for the event popped up. It was as if something was telling me to sign up and of course I couldn’t resist. Another reason I chose to sign up was that it was relatively easy to get to from London. I wanted to do an ultra almost instantly after finishing the Manchester Marathon in 2014. That’s quite strange given the fact that I didn’t look into nutrition, had a rubbish taper and paced myself terribly for that run. However once I knew I could run 26.2 miles I started to wonder how far I could run. I enjoyed the long runs in training for Manchester, using them as a way to explore London and therefore I wanted a greater reason to go out and do larger mileage weeks.

Although I didn’t have a specific training plan for RTTS I began running more seriously again on the 1st of January. This was after not really running for the second half of 2014. The main reason for this was work. I was working long days including weekends and wasn’t making running a strong enough priority. My fitness deteriorated drastically after doing so many races in the first half of last year. I flicked a switch moving into 2015 and decided to start running more seriously again no matter how tired I was feeling before or after work. I found almost instantly I started to feel better and that combined with eating more healthily and sleeping more I started making swift progress. It has been a long journey to what is now the best shape I’ve been in. I still had a certain level of fitness but it was a struggle to do a 5 miler at 8-9min/mile pace.

Soon after gaining a bit of fitness I signed up to a few races including various 10ks and half marathons. I found this a good way to gauge my fitness and see the gap between where I was and PB shape. I gradually upped my distance with a few key races like Reading Half and Brighton Marathon in the not to distant future. Luckily I had enough time to get in PB condition, managing 1:17:01 for the Reading Half and the GFA qualifying time for London at Brighton doing 3:02:48. These races acted as stepping stones towards Race to the Stones. Having rekindled my love of running again I raced a lot in May equalling and bettering a few PBs over some shorter distances. If you want to hear about them I have written about most of them earlier on in my blog. In hindsight I maybe should’ve prioritised RTTS more and done bigger mileage weeks in May but I’ve had such fun racing various distances and on various surfaces.

June was a big month for me. I decided to only do a few races and up the mileage. Some weeks I got in 90 miles. Luckily the running community in London is huge and amazing so I have run with so many awesome groups and people so not to get bored with my own thoughts. The longest run I did was with advent running. It was 58k along the river and you can read about it in my “Stepping into the unknown” post. This was a great run and gave me a lot of confidence having already done around 50 miles in the week before that. However in hindsight running 58k on road doesn’t really prepare you for 100k on trail which has a lot more elevation gain. Had I started training for RTTS earlier I would have gone further than 58k because jumping from that to 100k is a fair way. When I say jumping it’s more like shuffling thousands and thousands of small steps. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, it can’t improve my time of 13:28 but it will help me achieve greater things in the future. In training I regret not hitting the trails more often as I underestimated the mental and physical strength required to negotiate even the not so technical trail.

In the build up to the race I lowered my mileage quite drastically doing 60 miles two weeks out and about 20 miles the week before. For once I enjoyed the taper, probably because I hadn’t really rested since Brighton Marathon. I also booked the day off before the race so I could relax and pack thoroughly (and watch the tennis). Here’s a quick lowdown of my race kit:

Bag/vest – Salomon S-Lab Adv Skin 3 12L. I decided on this race vest because it has room to store a waterproof jacket aswell as all the necessities. The pockets are well positioned and the soft flasks are comfortable and easy to refill. The soft flasks carry 500ml each so I took SIS lemon electrolyte in one and water in the other and drank 1L per 10k+ section of the course.

Waterproof jacket – I bought an OMM Kameleika jacket (which I’m sure I’ll test out soon) however due to the weather I left it behind.

Headtorch – again luckily not quite needed but I went for a Petzl Tikka XP which has four settings and is extremely bright. Looking forward to using it soon but worried now I have the possibility to run 24 hours a day haha

Vest – Salomon S-lab sense tank. Really lightweight and super comfortable. Have to confess it was my first time wearing it but luckily no issues.

Shorts – Adidas split shorts. Due to the weather opted for my lightest and shortest shorts, all common sense.

Socks – I opted for my Hilly Supreme socklet mainly due to good padding and breathable on top. Also good fit with my trainers.

Trainers – Decided to wear my Salomon S-Lab x-series which are a light citytrail shoe. Proved to be a good choice, really comfortable and no blisters or any issues. Saw lots of runners wearing Hokas and maybe a bit more cushioning would’ve been good, I will be trying out the Cliftons soon.

Nutrition – Took Clif Bars and SIS lemon and lime isotonic gels as back up if I didn’t get on well with food at aid stations but it was fine.

On the Friday evening we got into High Wycombe and went for Pizzas and Pasta to fuel up. The next morning I woke up at about 5 o’clock, this gave me plenty of time to get organised and have some porridge. Surprisingly those Quakers oats pots are quite good. Helena (@the_fitadvisor) was crewing Matt and I for the day, she was a great help. Before we got picked up by Matt (@thebaldrunner) to head to the start we watched a couple of Salomon Running (your probably recognising I like what Salomon do) inspirational videos. In a positive state of mind ready to take what RTTS had to throw at me Matt drove us to the race village. Being our first 100ks we didn’t really know what times we would be capable of. We got our race numbers etc and headed to the start line.

In the crowds me and Matt ended up going separate ways. Matt had a phenomenal run and finished in 11:58, massive well done!! I on the other hand had a tough and much longer day running. I started in the middle of the pack and stuck to a plan of going off really steadily trying to conserve energy for the second 50k.

To think I could conserve energy and push on in the second half of the race was an incredibly naive thought to pass through my mind. Especially considering I only knew what it was like to run 58k on flat road. Things went to plan through the first 3 or so aid stations. I was a bit slow out of aid station one but once I learnt to put my electrolyte tabs in the soft flask first instead of fiddling etc I learnt to be more efficient as the day grew older. I picked up bananas, ready salted crisps and granola bars and ate whilst running and walking some of the hills. I was fine with eating on the go but after aid station four I didn’t really want to eat crisps or bananas anymore and my stomach was a little dodgy (kind of as expected). Next time I will probably vary the food a bit more and have a clif bar or two. I’m not sure if the exact mileage but it was good to see Helena relatively early on. It was nice to see a friendly smiley face on the course.

 I was really enjoying the run. The first few miles were kind of mesmerising following so many legs it was as if looking through a strange kaleidoscope and this meant having to focus on your every step especially through the trees. Things were going well but then around the 18 mile mark my right hamstring became quite tight. I think this was due to running on a softer surface than what I’ve trained on and because of the ups and downs of the route. The overall elevation gain for the whole course wasn’t huge but running on flat road in London probably wasn’t amazing prep. This means in the future I will head out of London more frequently when training for trail races. When approaching inclines it’s funny to see what everyone else does whether they think “this is runnable this!” or “this is definitely a walking section”. What I found is that your emotional ups and downs very rarely match the course profile and therefore if you feel good run some ups and maybe even walk some flats if you have to.

What made these constant decisions harder was the tight right hammy. I had to keep the finish line in mind for more than 44 miles and coax it home. It was frustrating for this to be the case but I felt lucky that it was great weather and I had some awesome views to take in along the way. Having been running in London for the last year and half plus, it was nice to run a route that reminded me of home. I also kept reminding myself of how lucky I am that I can cover that distance.

Luckily fellow ultra runners (I’m an ultra runner now!!) are like minded and are the friendliest bunch of people you will meet. I ran alongside more than 10 people throughout the whole race. The guy, in the photo above, behind me and the other runner passed me about 20 times and we finished roughly together. We discussed trainers, past and future races and he was also struggling with the fact he wouldn’t make his goal time of around 11 hours (that wasn’t my goal time btw). We could both still appreciate the fact we could make progress and get to the end.

I saw a groups of friends at aid station 8 and they went on to finish in a great time. It’s great to share running experiences with inspiring people and runners that are pushing their limits. Aid station 8 was probably my favourite, I now know why lots of ultrarunners love flat coke and bread. It tastes so good! Putting yourself through 100k makes you appreciate the little things. I slowly shuffled my way to within about 4 miles of the finish. Helena having seen Matt into the finish ran out to join me for a few miles before the loop around Avebury Stones and the straight to the finish. It was great to have company and once I started running my legs actually loosened up and I managed the last few miles at the quickest pace I’d run all day. I could hear the crowds at the finish line from a few miles away, including Sorrel Walsh (judging by the awesome reception I got from her, WMN Run 100 founder and 2nd female finisher in 10:20!). Also thanks for the support and photos Stephen (London Brunch Club). The run through the stones was cool and then a couple of turns to the home straight, I felt energised hearing the support from afar and I stepped on the gas (probably 9min miling really) to see the finish line.

I took a couple quick looks behind me thinking of how far I had run and what an enjoyable day it had been.

I couldn’t help but put my arms out and smile my way across the line, it was done. The journey from a slow 5 miles to 100k complete.

I recommend those of you thinking about stepping up to ultras to think carefully about why you want to do it. If the reasons are strong enough your body will be strong enough. As Scott Jurek (just broke the record for the Appalachian Trail running 50+ miles for 46 days) said “Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn’t sure he can accomplish”

On that note, what’s next!? I’ll keep you posted!


P.s. Thanks for all the good luck and well done messages. Also thank you to those of you that have put up with me running alongside you talking rubbish and making terrible jokes/puns all the time.