Tag Archives: Salomon Running

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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Second Cross-country fixture: Much more mud

On Saturday the 12th of November I took part in my second cross country race. It was held at Epsom Downs racecourse. With there being heavy rain the few days prior to the fixture I knew that conditions would be muddy underfoot, especially compared to the first race around Wimbledon Common. I was excited to be racing on softer terrain and experience more normal cross country conditions.

With the race starting at 3pm a group of us got the 12:30ish train from Victoria. There were mini groups of Team AR (AR collective/advent running) XC heading to the racecourse from different stations. We arrived in plenty of time and all convened at Beefeater just opposite the start area. Some of our runners got their pre-race coffee fix and we kept warm for as long as possible. Once James arrived with the team vests etc we headed to the car to pin on our race numbers and drop our bags.

I opted to test out my Salomon Speedcross 4s. I think you can guess if this is pre or post race.

We then headed around the first part of the route, as we did at the first fixture. This was a) to warm up (definitely needed in the cold weather due to the wind) and b) to do some course research. Having learnt from the first race most of our team positioned themselves near the front of the pack. As JP mentioned it’s probably best to be overtaken by a few people than have to go around a load of other runners if you start too far back. Before the start everyone observed a minutes silence for the two girls who tragically lost their lives earlier in the week whilst out running. I think the whole running community has been shocked and deeply saddened by the event, my thoughts go out to all their friends and family.

3..2..1..GO! We were off, hundreds of runners stampeding down the racecourse like horses. Mud and sand flicking up our legs, that initial heavy breathing to get into a good position and on a good pace. The first kilometre or so was fun, jostling for a good line around the first few corners and down a couple of sharp slopes. Once we hit the first couple of inclines everyone had spread out and there was more room to breath. Initially there were four or five Team AR runners within a couple hundred metres. The course was nice and varied and there was only really one long steady incline. At this point I was chasing JP and Martin and wanted to close up with them in the next few kilometres.

Once back on a flatter section after approximately 3k I passed James. I then set my sights on reeling in Martin and overtaking as many other runners as possible. As I found with the first fixture I find it really motivating to be chasing people down as opposed to running for a time which is normally the case with road races.

Photo courtesy of Emily @em_runs_

I completed the first lap and was feeling good, my legs felt light but strong. I enjoyed the first section of the lap again, with more space to choose the racing line. I passed a few runners on the long incline and was gradually closing the gap to Martin. I knew if I could get close to him I would place pretty highly. With a couple of kilometres to go I upped my pace and continued to close the gap. The last kilometre being slightly downhill I pushed and overtook a few rivals. I just about managed to out kick a few runners and finished two seconds behind Martin.

Photo courtesy of Sarah @stella_runs

We congratulated each other on another great run and cheered the rest of the lads through the finish line. It wasn’t long before JP and Brewster were flying passed us. The team was super consistent again and I knew we’d be in with a chance of winning the fixture. It wasn’t as emphatic as our 90 point gap last time out but we still won by 7 or so points to increase our lead at the top. Great running lads! To be fair we were aided by having an awesome cheer crew with all sorts of musical instruments.

Once we’d all finished we tucked into some awesome AR XC branded cupcakes made by Roland and family, they were delicious. That is what cross country is all about, racing hard and enjoying the carmarederie. Overall it was a great outing and I can’t wait for the next fixture already, here’s hoping for even more mud!

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Spitfire Scrambled Legs

I wasn’t planning on doing the Spitfire Scramble this year but a friend of mine, Helena, signed up forgetting she was busy. Luckily I’m always keen to race and therefore jumped at the chance to join the UKRunChat Team Blue! I ran in the Advent Running team for the Adidas Thunder Run 24 hour team relay so kind of knew what to expect to a certain degree. However this time I was in a team of 8, most of them being strangers apart from knowing some of their Twitter handles.


I packed up basically the same kit I took to TR24 (including tent, Thanks Dave!) and headed for Hornchurch Country Park on Friday evening. I didn’t time it well; I turned up at the campsite/race village around 7ish just as it started to tip it down. The first people I saw were Natasha, Helen, Emma, Laurence (Team Red boo!) and Paul. We had a good chat about our running and how we thought the weekend would go. Once the rain had eased we headed to the UKRunChat area to set up our tents, at this point pretty much everyone had arrived. We all helped each other to get the gazebo (luckily it actually was a gazebo, those of you that read my TR24 post will understand) and tents up, complete with UKRunChat #TeamBlue sign and bunting which me and Ben (@RunnARGHHH) put up with precision. Just a tip for any of you camping and doing a 24 hour team relay in the future, don’t trip up your own team mate with your tents guide ropes! Sarah (@SezSaysStuff) had a stylish fall that Ben (cause of the trip) rated 8.8, it was impressive. We decided to head to Tesco (other supermarkets are available) to get some energy boosting treats before ordering and collecting Domino’s (other pizza manufacturers are available) pizza. We enjoyed the food and had a good chat about running and various other things, some things you don’t want to know about (mainly runners/Jeffs @UKRunCat crusty & moist feet). I would attach a picture but I don’t want to lose readers!


We decided to hit the hay relatively early given the fact we would only sleep for a couple of hours between 12pm Saturday and 12pm Sunday. On Saturday morning we all chilled out and got food and before you knew it, it was 12pm and Natasha (@NElsdon) was off on the first #TeamBlue lap alongside Laurence for #TeamRed. Having discussed the running order (literally) the previous night Jeff our leader decided on: Natasha, Steve (that’s me), Helen, Paul, Ben, Emma, Sarah, Jeff 

Running order (literally) 

Natasha sped round the first lap; it was 12:49 and time for my first lap. I was glad to get going, its weird waiting around for half a day before a race. It was good to get round a lap and learn the ups and downs of the course. Feeling pretty fresh I managed a time of 34:53 even though it was pretty hot. I was happy with the time considering my 10k PB is 35:31 albeit the Spitfire Scramble route was 5.8 miles. A massive motivation to run faster was the fact the sooner you get your lap done the quicker you get to eat and rest up. Also knowing I would only have to do 4 or 5 laps as opposed to the 6 at TR24 I knew I could push the pace and the route had already been described to me as relatively flat.  

 Setting off on my first lap

The route was a nice cross country route. The first mile was flat so I could get up to speed; the second mile there was a hill to zig-zag up so my pace dropped between miles 2 and 4. The last 1.8 miles were pretty flat and there was a nice section through the trees with a mile to go. The last few hundred metres you got to run around the outside of the campsite which is cool as you get lots of support from various runners and then I was onto the home straight to spot my teammate (Helen @Helen_Ridgway) to hand over the snap band for her to speed off into the distance. I learnt from TR24 that it’s good to keep moving after each lap to loosen up. Between laps one and two Emma’s (@emmah1506) family were on site with a football so we had a kickabout. This was a good way to keep moving and it was fun to mess about with a football for a change. I also prioritised getting in food as soon as possible after each lap, making sure to choose a “meal” high in protein. The catering was good, I opted for a bacon, sausage & egg sarnie for breakfast, pasta and chicken for dinner, tuna jacket potato after my second lap. I felt really well fuelled throughout the whole 24 hours.

I completed my second lap by 8 o’clock. Having warmed up I managed to get round the course in 34:46 knocking a whole 7 seconds off my first lap. I knew I would feel good on the second lap as the same thing happened at TR24, and recently I have done some double and triple run days and always felt better on the last run. I got food, loosened up by walking around a bit and then relaxed in my tent and got an hour or so sleep. This sleep was broken up a bit due to other runners out on the course shouting for their teammates to get ready to be tagged in. It was a bit over the top in some cases as I could hear a runner that had just entered the camp site and shouted at the top of his lungs “Graham!!!!!” I think all the Grahams in Hornchurch would have pricked their ears up. The time between laps went really quickly because by the time you’ve eaten, caught up with team mates and other teams you’re back out tackling the course. My third lap was at 01:40 and for me the laps in darkness are what the 24 hour events are all about. It makes you feel somewhat hardcore to be shuffling out of your sleeping bag in the early hours of Sunday with your head torch on to get your miles in. My legs were starting to feel heavier but I wanted to get as close to my two previous times. I clocked 36:36, which I thought was pretty good pacing but there were certain sections of the route I had to take steady, for example over small stiles. It also took me a mile or so to loosen up, that much so that when Natasha was handing over to me I took a little longer putting the snap band on as if to say “Do I really have to do this, can’t someone else do this lap!”

After my third lap I wrapped up warm including hat, gloves and compression socks. By this point I was also wearing 2xu calf sleeves on my laps which I find good to aid recovery and stop my muscles from oscillating when on the uneven trails. I got another hour or so of sleep and before I knew it it was 7:15am and time for what I thought was my fourth and final lap. My legs were still feeling really heavy but I managed to beat my lap 3 time. This lap was really nice as it was still cool and the sun was beaming. I pushed the pace and gave it everything presuming I didn’t have another lap to do. 

 

4 laps done, thought that was it!


I handed over to Helen again and she went out and smashed her 4th lap, some seriously good pacing was carried out by Team Blue. Consistency is key in the game of 24 hour relays and because we were all clocking consistent laps we were around 7th/8th in the table out of 42 teams. This featured some really strong teams, lots of them consisting of serious club runners. Natasha, Helen, Paul, Ben, Emma and Jeff all clocked great times on their fourth laps. Emma did her lap in a speedy 48 minutes leaving Jeff with a window of an hour to get round to get me out on the course again. He smashed it getting in around 11:55ish so I headed out again. It was great to know this was definitely the last lap so I pushed the pace again to try and finish in style. I managed my 3rd fastest lap time, 36:15. It was a great lap to do because the organisers had sorted for a spitfire to fly over at 12, I only caught a glimpse of it over the hedges but still got goose-bumps, it was cool. I enjoyed the lap for the last time; I sped down through the trees at around 5 miles appreciating how much fun the whole weekend had been. We all ran into the finish line together mimicking a spitfire. That was the only way to finish the event. 

  

  

Jeff, Natasha, Helen, Sarah, Emma, Paul, Ben and me aka the awesome Team Blue!


To the teams surprise we finished in 6th place completing 31 laps. It was a great performance by the whole team. It was such an awesome weekend with part of the UKRunChat family and hopefully there will be many more in the not too distant future. Well done to Team red also who finished in a great 17th place. Also happy birthday Jenni (@_jen_mo) what a way to spend your birthday.


I hope those of you that were at the Spitfire Scramble enjoyed it and those of you training or racing elsewhere had a great weekend.


Steve


P.s. The photos are courtesy of Jenni and Jeff mostly! However here’s one of mine: 

 

The Adidas Thunder Run Weekend

This time last week I was resting up preparing for my first ever head torch lit run as part of the epic weekend that was the Adidas Thunder Run with Advent Running. It’s going to be hard to put in to words how much fun that weekend was but I’ll give it a try and the photos will tell a lot of the story. 

James and Claudia, the brains behind Advent Running, let me know about a possible place on their Thunder Run team when I joined them for one of their Bagel runs on a Friday morning a fair few weeks back. I was apprehensive to begin with, knowing it was only two weekends after Race to the Stones 100k, and as I explained in my last post I thought my legs would still hate me at that point. However on their return from the amazing Western States 100 I saw them at the Like the Wind mag Trails in Motion screening and they were already scheming the next challenge. A place on the team was still being spoken about and the offer of a different kind of challenge proved too irresistible. 

Luckily I recovered from RTTS quickly and with a parkrun and the Harry Hawkes 10 miler sandwiched in between I felt strong and ready for multiple 10ks over 24 hours. We headed up to Burton upon Trent late on the Friday evening. We arrived around 10:30ish and began setting up our camp. James logically unpacked the “gazebo” first. The only problem was that it came in a small bag and instead of being a gazebo it was a swinging baby cot contraption. Laughter ensued with the weekend getting off to a great start but luckily that was our only hiccup the whole weekend. It was also lucky we turned up with the rain easing to drizzle, result! We set to work putting up the tents, luckily these were actually tents. I was sharing with David, he had brought along a massive 4 (could’ve been a 10 man tent) which I would give a rating of 5/5 if I were to rate the stay on tripadvisor. It took a while to put up, looking at YouTube videos for instructions, but it was well worth it. We had that much room we could all lay out our clothes for the task ahead. 

We all headed to sleep pretty swiftly. Surprisingly I slept really well. I can imagine I had a much more comfortable night than one of our neighbours, David from the Like the Wind team apparently forgot his sleeping bag so was camping a bit Bear Grylls styley. I guess it’s all character building. Most of the AR team awoke around 8/9ish so we toured around the race village catching up with familiar faces and grabbing some food. We relaxed for a couple hours and then James, our captain, began the 24 hours by speeding off the start line at 12 o’clock. 

He got us off to a flying start clocking a 41ish minute 10k, despite the wet and muddy conditions. The order of play was James, David, Me, Claudia, Ben then Spencer. David kept the momentum going with a quick 10k and then I was up for my first lap. 

 With the course drying up I managed a 40:23 which I was happy with considering the winding course and close to 500ft of elevation gain. I handed over to Claudia and began my rest period of about 3 and a half hours. I grabbed food and then we scuttled around the race village to cheer on our teammate and other runners on the course. It was amazing to see so many solo runners on the course resulting in a shout of “Well done solo!” Claudia, Ben and Spencer posted great times and with the first round done we’d set the bar high. With the ground becoming firmer James sped around the course on his second lap and beat my time, a mini comp between me and him had begun. It was great to have this competition as it motivated the both of us to get round the course as quickly as possible each time for pride and to drive the team forward. I responded with 39:41 which ended up being mine and the teams quickest lap of the weekend. The whole team kept incredibly consistent times throughout the whole 24 hours but obviously the most testing laps were the headtorch laps. 

Having only ran with a headtorch twice, on Advent Running’s Friday night trip runs, it was new for me to be racing at speed through trees and up hills with a small circular beacon of light. It took a while to get used to but it was great fun and the weather was nice and cool. Over the two night laps I posted 41:40 and 44:18. The second lap was seriously hard as we decided to pair up. This meant I did one lap then chilled for 45+ mins with Claudia out on the course and then did another lap. It was a relief to get the double run done in the dark and get through unscathed. I then had a good few hours to sleep. I grabbed food and headed straight to sleep as I was knackered. In hindsight this was a bad move as I should’ve walked around to warm down and loosen up. I ended up waking up at 3am cramping up with a dodgy left calf. At that point I was like “how the hell am I going to get up around 6am and run another 10k”.

6am came round and my legs still felt stiff but with a lot of stretching and a bit of walking I loosened up. Within 200m of my 5th lap my legs had loosened up and I was back running 7:30min/miles. I posted a 43:25 and calculated the order of play meant that would probably be my last lap. We were in about 6th/7th place in the teams of 8 category and the handovers etc were like clockwork. We were nearing the end of the challenge. James did his 6th lap and we then decided he would hand over to me to try and squeeze in another lap. Unfortunately it ended up being the case that I would’ve had to post a sub 40 minute 10k to get another lap in and with the weather deteriorating I only managed a 43:52. Once I knew the extra lap was gone I was just aiming for another sub 45.  

 

The last lap was probably the most fun because I knew we were nearing the finish line and I could empty the tank as it were. The team were there to cheer me whole heartedly around the course and then some of the guys joined me to kick to the finish. 

crossed the line about 5 minutes past 12 which was a bit annoying but we finished in 6th place in our category, with only 6 runners, out of about 220 odd teams. Job done! 

I really enjoyed the challenge and being part of a team for a change was great fun and added extra motivation and responsibility. Overall a great weekend and I’m looking forward to my next 24 hour team relay. It just so happens to be 2 weeks away! 

  

  

I hope everyone else that did the Adidas Thunder Run had an equally good experience. Check out Advent Running on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, they have a lot of cool events and things planned. The photos are courtesy of Claudia @claudi8s & Lucy @ljhoare.

See a lot of you soon.

Steve

P.s. #nevernotracing 

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!

Steve

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.

Review: Salomon X-scream 3D

A few weeks ago I received an email asking if I wanted to try out the Salomon X-scream 3D trainers and give them a review. Having wanted to run in some Salomon trainers for a while I jumped at the chance to get my feet in them. The reason I’ve wanted to try them is that since I’ve got into running more I’ve seen their amazing videos on YouTube. If you haven’t already seen them check out the Salomon Trail Running YouTube page. Personal favourites are “Why we run”, “The Original”, “The Ultimate Fan” and “Of Fells and Hills”.

Another reason I wanted to try the X-scream 3Ds was that I’ve been running around London including up to and around Hampstead Heath where a mild trail shoe has been required when the trails are dry and firm. I am also in training for Race to the Stones 100k so have been trying to run off road more often. I was excited to receive the trainers and my first impression was good as I think they look pretty cool. Working in a running specialist store I know it’s not about aesthetics but at the end of the day everyone wants something that has style and substance. This shoe definitely has style but would it have the substance.   I put them on straight away. These are the first trainers I’ve owned that have quicklace. I quite like this as it means you can get out the door quicker. I tend to run in the mornings, often straight after waking up. The fit for me feels a little generous due to the fact I normally wear an adidas size UK 12 and the shoes I have tested are also 12s. However I will continue to do some of my longer runs in these trainers so a little room is probably a good thing. Having ran in the Adidas adios and adios boosts for the last couple of years I have gotten use to quite a lightweight, reasonably narrow fitting shoe. Therefore at first the X-screams felt quite heavy but at 290g it’s not bad for a well cushioned longer distance trainer. 

I planned to take them out for just a few miles but due to them being really comfortable I ended up doing 10+ miles. These miles were all on road and the grip seemed good as I went round corners and changed direction.  In the last few weeks I have ran approximately 30-40 miles in the X-screams. I have done a few runs on firm trails and the grip has been good. In wetter conditions I will probably opt for a trail shoe with larger lugs but for long training runs along the canal, around Victoria Park and up to Hampstead Heath I will use these trainers a lot. One issue I have had with them is that the plastic cup in the heel is quite high and therefore has rubbed on occasions. Due to the weight and firmness of the shoe I will probably continue to do most of my mileage in my beloved adidas adios and adios boosts but there is definitely a place for these shoes in my training. 

I have been impressed with the X-screams and with just a few minor tweaks it would be a great shoe. I am incredibly tempted to buy some S-lab Sense 4 Ultras now as they have been receiving some good reviews but for now I will continue to hit the city trails.

I will be attending a Salomon community run in Fulham on the 27th May so it will be good to test some more of their kit then. Lookout for a post about that.

Has anyone else tried any Salomon trainers recently? How have you got on in them? Let me know by tweeting me or messaging on Instagram @StephenSkinner6.

See you on the city trails! 

Steve