Tag Archives: trail

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

Trailscape Marathon – Ashurst, South

On Saturday 23rd January I took part in the trailscape South marathon in Ashurst. Having done the previous two marathons in the series I was looking forward to getting back out on the trails. However, I was a little apprehensive because the first 3 weeks of the year I’ve been doing pretty big mileage (for me) as well as going to track and pushing the pace. I definitely approached the marathon as a training run and it was quite good to go into it relaxed not worrying about finishing time or positon.
With the race starting at 8:45 I woke up at 6am to head to James and Claudia’s. I was lucky enough to be asked to run as part of the AR (Advent Running/ar collective) trail team for the trailscape series and they’ve been kind enough to give me lifts to the races. After putting up the marquee and AR banner we had time to catch up with other members of the AR team and familiar trailscape faces from previous races.   

 The AR Trail Team (photo courtesy of Emma Sherwood @emmash32)

Jonny, Freya & me (Photo courtesy of Freya @fhotson)

Jonny & Freya, who run with a couple Nike run clubs and do long runs with me and a group of friends, were signed up to the marathon too which was good. We didn’t talk about goal times or anything but due to the fact we were all treating the race as a training run we ran together. Having done the last two trailscape races I learnt that the event is much more fun if you’ve got people to share the miles with. In the first event I ran a lot of the course with James and in the second race I made friends with an experienced marathoner. We settled into a good pace in the first few kilometres, the only problem was we ended up heading off course. I’m not 100% sure what happened but a small group of us missed a sign somewhere. All I know is James and Andy two fellow ARers were near the front! Haha After the slight detour we found ourselves back on course but behind a lot of other runners that went the right way. When doing tiring muddy trail marathons (that are generally longer than a marathon anyway) the last thing you need is to add distance.

The good thing about going the wrong way is that when moving through the field (pun intended) you get to see lots of other runners and have a quick chat. The miles went by really quickly, I’m not sure what me, Jonny & Freya were talking about half the time but we had lots of laughs.   

 Photo taken by Lucy @ljhoare

One thing we discussed was motivational/inspiring quotes. There was a hill to climb, only was it a hill!? We came up with the motivational saying “The hill is only as big as it is in your mind”. The marathon was a two lap route. This was good because we got to see other runners and high five; I have really enjoyed the trailscape races because all of the participants and organisers are so friendly. One of my favourite parts of the race were the aid stations, I described the event to Jonny and Freya as a long distance picnic. I had forgotten how much I enjoy Soreen, Hula Hoops, Jaffa Cakes and coke. 

 Why would you place a photographer just after an aid station!

We kept a pretty steady pace all the way round, we didn’t stop at the aid stations for long and only really walked the seriously muddy climb near the end of the route. We finished in around 4 hours and 10 minutes, Freya was 2nd female and me and Jonny finished in the top 15 or so.  

 

The medals are definitely worth the effort!

Once I finished I caught up with James, he finished 3rd. He was disappointed but he still achieved a great time especially considering the big mileage he has been doing and the tough conditions. Andy finished first in 3 hours and 20 minutes which is amazing on a course so muddy and undulating. I peeled off my muddy compression socks and got into clean warm clothes and then we cheered in a few runners and watched the presentations. It was great to see a lot of the AR trail team crossing the finish line, some of them were doing their first marathons and Hannah finished her first of twelve this year. After Freya collected her Buff for finishing second we headed back to London, we carried on the picnic in the car with pork pies (recommended by ultra-runner Holly Rush ha) crisps, and brownies/rocky roads. Overall a productive Saturday. My weekly mileage totalled 130k+ and therefore I rested on Sunday. My recovery rate is improving and I’m aiming to do a few more weeks of around 120k including track and do more speed work in February and March. I hope everyone had a great weekend and that your training is going well.

See a lot of you soon

Steve

Follow me on Twitter &/or Instagram: @StephenSkinner6

Also follow: @adventrunning @ar_collective @trailscape

Trailscape Marathon – Cuxton, East

Over the last three weeks or so I have been taking it relatively easy. It took me a while to recover from the Bristol + Bath and North trailscape marathons. On Saturday I travelled with the Advent Running lot to Cuxton in Kent to run the second marathon in the rail to trail series. Being a trail race I hadn’t really given it much thought and knew not to worry about pace or finishing time. Knowing the course was 27+ miles and included 3,000+ft of elevation gain I knew it was going to take a while to get round. The winning time from last year was 4 hours and 51 minutes which says it all.

In the week leading up to my second trailscape marathon I increased my mileage a little. I ran two 14 milers the previous weekend, this was because I wanted to run one of my favourite routes along the canal, up Primrose Hill, up Haverstock Hill, up Swains Lane and up Parliament Hill. The weather was awesome: 
 The next day I ran another 14 miles along the river with Lorna, Freya, Jonny, Bart, Emily and Caroline. The weather wasn’t great that day but as Bart said “It’s cold, windy and pissing it down with rain but look how happy we are because we are running!” He had a good point; the miles went so quickly because we were all having fun despite the weather. The key to keeping motivated through December is to give yourself a strong enough reason to get out there and run. I’m lucky to have great sights to run around and great people to run with in London, I want to be running pretty much all the time. A big reason I will be doing high mileage in December is Advent Running. I run almost every day normally but this month is going to be particularly special as James and Claudia have loads of great events lined up. It all kicked off on Tuesday, we ran from Redchurch Brewery to the Olympic Park and that big RUN sign. 

  The group was massive; it was a great get together. Lots of different people from various running clubs showed up to start their month of running in style. Fast forward to Wednesday, I went to the “Fall in love with running seminar”. We got to hear from Holly Rush (ultrarunner @rushbynature), Vicky Gill (triathlete @vickster_tri), Simon Freeman (Freestak & Like The Wind mag @simonbfreeman) and Alan Murchison (triathlete @performance.chef). 

It was great to hear about their racing, experiences and achievements. I always leave Like The Wind and Advent running events really inspired. On Thursday I got my 30 minutes of running in with The Running Works Run Club: 

 On Friday I had the day off to go to the London Illustration Fair and chill with Lorna. I could’ve had a nice lie in but knowing there was a crazy gang of runners meeting up at Beigel bake on Brick Lane with amazing Christmas jumpers on I had to get involved.  

 Ok so this is supposed to be a race recap, my bad I got side-tracked with all the fun events/running last week. So, Saturday morning I woke up at 6am to get my stuff together and get to James and Claudia’s to travel to Cuxton in Kent. Having not done many trail races I was a little apprehensive knowing the distance and elevation gain. I was confident I would finish but knew it would be a long slog. Being competitive it was hard to hold back at the start but I knew that I would never be able to keep up with a lot of the runners in front. It was good to be running through some beautiful countryside and not having to worry about pace. After a few miles I ended up running alongside a guy called Nick Butcher. We had a good chat about our running; he has completed 94 marathons and is looking to join the 100 marathon club soon. He had taken part in Race to the Stones and finished 30 minutes or so ahead of me in that. He recently did the Druids Challenge which was a race I was thinking of doing. We chatted for a good 10 miles or so about various races, training etc. Just after we started the second loop of the marathon I started to feel good so I picked up my pace a little to get the miles done. I paid the price in the latter stages of the race and in hindsight probably would’ve been better running with Nick the whole way. 

 I quite like two lap courses because you can break it up into chunks and I like to know what to expect. I was enjoying the run but then hit a bit of a rough patch around mile 23. To be fair it was all a bit of a rough patch with how muddy and windy it was but anyway (such a fair weather, road runner!). Around mile 23 my left quad start playing up, this wasn’t ideal with lots of stiles to negotiate but I took my time and waddled my way round the last four miles or so. My legs were battered and the hills were horrible near the end. I definitely need to do more trail miles and hill sessions to keep doing more races like this. Once I got to mile 26 I was so relieved as I knew the ordeal was nearly over. What I didn’t know was how long that last mile or so would take; the answer is a long time.

I was within half a mile from the finish running down a nice trail towards a gate. I was starting to feel pleased with myself knowing I was about to finish the race and then a massive gust of wind blew my Advent Running trucker cap off my head. A few girls doing the 10k flew passed and straight through the gate with no problems. I on the other hand turned so quickly to chase after my cap that I tripped over some long grass and aggravated my right hamstring. I then hobbled down the hill, that my cap had just rolled down, to collect it whilst trying to stretch my hammy. I turned back round to head up the hill, I initially didn’t have to climb, where two runners glided through the gate; they were both looking strong and had clearly paced their runs well. One of the runners was Nick. I went through the gate and shuffled down the hill to the finish. I was a little annoyed I had slipped (pun intended) from 9th to 11th within the matter of seconds but it was one of those things. I crossed the line and was relieved to complete the race. I feel lucky to have got through it and not get injured. I learnt a lot! 

 The trucker cap made for adventure 

Well done to everyone that raced at the weekend whether it was the trailscape race, endurancelife, a various santa run or parkrun etc (oh yeh parkrun isn’t a race, my bad!). Next up for me is the Mo Santa Olympic Park thingy next Sunday. That will be my last race of 2015, should be fun. I hope everyone else’s Advent Running is going well too.

See a lot of you soon 

Steve

P.s. I’m now stocked up for Advent Running and training for Paris, London & Edinburgh marathons 

 

Trailscape Marathon – Newport, North

On Saturday 31st of October I did the Trailscape marathon in Newport. This was the Northern race in the Trailscape rail to trail series that heads North, East, South and West of London so runners can race some great trails. I was asked by James and Claudia to join the AR (Advent Running) Adidas trail team a few weeks ago and instantly accepted the invite to race with them. Since meeting Advent Running we have enjoyed some great events, we smashed the Adidas Thunder Run, ran 50k (58k in the end) along the river crossing a lot of bridges on the way and have run for all kinds of reasons including bagels and beers.  

This  was taken by Ash Tehrani (@ashrunstheworld) on a recent Friday morning beigel run.

I run for a lot of the same reasons these guys do and therefore I’m looking forward to doing many more events and races with the team. The team is being supported by Adidas (as you could probably tell) and Stance socks which is great.

Despite doing the Bristol+Bath Marathon on the 25th of October I couldn’t resist signing up to the first trailscape race and decided the marathon distance would be a good challenge to see if I could recover quickly enough. I have tested myself in quite a few ways this year from numerous half marathons, marathons, Wings for Life (being caught by David Coulthard) to 24 hour team relays, fell races etc. I was nervous but excited to see how I would feel on this second marathon in six days. In the week between Bristol+Bath and the trailscape marathon I didn’t run much. I was back in Holsworthy, Devon for a couple of days after B+B and therefore couldn’t resist about an 11 mile run on Tuesday taking in my old stomping grounds.  Holsworthy Viaduct

I visited all the houses I used to live in whilst running through my hometown taking in the park and some great views.

The only other running I did in the week was the Victoria Park Harriers 2.9 mile handicap on Thursday night. I was planning to take it easy and use it as a shakeout run but those of you that know me or have read previous posts will know what happened. I said I was going to run 18 minutes for the 3 laps but ended up doing closer to 17 minutes as I felt good, I finished in second. In hindsight I maybe should’ve taken it a bit easier but I’ll learn at some point. I rested on the Friday and got a pretty early night after going to watch Spectre (great film!). I woke up at 5.30 on Saturday to get my kit ready and head to meet James, Claudia and Gabriel for 6.30. My legs felt relatively good but I could definitely feel the effects from the marathon the previous Sunday. We got to the race village in good time and set up the AR tent and collected our race numbers etc.   The marathon started at 8.30, for me this was good as I don’t like to be hanging around long before a race, I prefer to crack on. There were roughly 50 runners taking part in the marathon, it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. In the marathon for the AR Adidas Trail team was me, James, Ben, Spencer, Claudia, Gabriel and Lucy.

Having looked up the winning times from last year we knew we would finish highly. Myself and James headed off at around 7:15 min/mile pace, pretty much the same pace I did the Bristol+Bath Marathon at. A few other runners were with us for a bit but after a couple miles we opened up a gap. We were chatting away about the Beyond 26.2 event in The Running Works on Wednesday etc and unfortunately didn’t look down to see an arrow pointing right. After a half mile or so we realised we hadn’t seen any tape for a while so turned round to see a lot of other runners heading in another direction. We soon got back on the right trail and made up the ground quickly whilst chatting with fellow runners and AR Adidas Trail teammates. We soon got back into the lead holding the pace we thought was maintainable. It was good to share a lot of the miles with James. Being tired from the Bristol+Bath marathon etc it was good to have someone to chat to. James having completed 5 ironman triathlons, Western States 100 (which is on the bucket list), UTMB and Autumn 100 is a great person to listen to and pick up tips from. Over the marathon and ultramarathon distances pacing and nutrition is key and this is something I am going to experiment with more in the coming weeks and months. One thing I will be trialling is a caffeinated gel for the last 5 or 10k. I generally use the SIS gels, one every 7 miles or so which tends to work but every now and then I feel like I need an extra boost especially in the latter stages of races, hopefully a caffeinated gel has the same effect on me as James, he flew.

Another plus of running with James was that I could see where his foot was gripping or slipping. I took the front every now and then but predominantly I was following him. The course was really varied, there were sections where your feet would slide around, other sections where the mud would stick to your trainers (I wore my Inov-8 Race Ultra 270) and there was a knee deep “puddle” to swim through. It was quite good that the course was two laps because once you’d done the first lap you knew which “racing lines” to take. Albeit every now and then you could still be sliding around like Bambi on ice but that’s all part of the fun right. It was quite good fun to just run through the knee deep puddle, there was no tip-toeing around that. Photo courtesy of @trailscape

I may have to invest (I’m justifying buying more running shoes!) in some more trail shoes soon, my inov-8s were good but it probably would’ve helped to have something with a bit more grip/larger lugs. If anyone has any recommendations give me a shout.

We ticked off the miles. As we were getting closer to 20 miles I started to tire, James was looking strong and started to up the pace a little. I had to ease up as I didn’t think I could maintain the pace and I thought I would be risking an injury if I upped it. James carried on at around 7:15 pace; I really struggled over the last 5k or so. Mentally it was quite hard to fall back and have to run the last few miles on my own. However I decided to ease up a lot and just get round. I just visualised the last section of the route and remembered it was downhill to the finish. A couple of runners passed me on the last few miles and I was thinking “Bloody hell, these guys have paced their marathon well!” Then I remembered the half marathon and 10k had been going on and they were racing in those distances. However I picked up the pace a little for the last mile or so and got the job done. I was disappointed I couldn’t hold the pace and give James a race for his money/wooden plaque prize. Overall though I was happy to get round and be able to enjoy 27 miles through the countryside. I can’t complain with second place in 3:30:27 six days after doing my 5th marathon.  That’s six marathons in 18 months now, little bit mental really. It’s good to know I can do marathons back to back weekends, albeit in compromised times, but I’m not planning on doing it often. A huge thanks has to go to the Trailscape organisers, the event was really well organised. The medal, t-shirt and buff are awesome!    Well done to everyone that ran the first trailscape race whether you were doing the marathon, half marathon or 10k. The AR Adidas trail team was represented strongly:

10km – 1st Alex Van Oostrum @alexvanoostrum

Half Marathon – 3rd mens Fabio Rizzo, 2nd female Frida Sofia @missfridasofia

Marathon – 1st mens James Poole @jamesdpoole, 2nd mens Me @stephenskinner6, 1st female Claudia Schroegel @claudi8sA lot of the team also placed in the top 10 across all three distances and some great times were achieved on a tough course. If you want to follow more of the teams racing and adventures I recommend you follow Advent Running on Facebook, Twitter (@adventrunning) & Instagram (@ar-collective). There is a lot coming up! I personally can’t wait for the next trailscape marathon on the 5th of December in Cuxton, Kent for the East race. I also need to look into the logistics of doing some of the Maverick races next year.

Well done to everyone that ran in the New York marathon at the weekend by the way. Looking forward to hearing about it, see a lot of you soon.

Steve

X

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 

Richmond Park Half Marathon 2015

Last Sunday I ran the Run Through Richmond Park Half Marathon. As with all the Run Through events it was amazingly well organised and so smooth in terms of picking up my race number, dropping my bag etc. If only I was as organised as them! So I knew there were railworks going on and that I would have to either bus it, walk or run from Hammersmith, but being lazy I didn’t really research the route. I also didn’t take into account how much slower my walking pace is compared to running and therefore left myself a bit short of time getting there. I tweeted the other day saying how I sometimes leave a minimal amount of time to get to a place so it becomes a running challenge. I tend to only do this on occasions when it doesn’t really matter if I’m late but it still feels like a running version of a Top Gear challenge to me!

Right where was I, Sheen gate that’s where I was. Making up for my poor planning skills before, I nipped to the loo, before collecting my race number, as the queue was short. Something my “pacer” didn’t think of doing. I say pacer but if I’m honest we don’t really know who was pacing who and neither of us were aiming for a time. I spontaneously signed up to the race in the middle of the previous week and then Helena followed suit having seen the deer medal. It looks a lot like Bambi but I’m sure it’s probably called Barney or something or looks slightly different for copyright reasons. Casual as you like we headed to the start line having speedily sorted bags etc.  

 Photo of where I finished my run on Saturday, Hampstead Heath. I stopped to start following the Western States 100.

Helena had already run 7 miles to the start and I’d done 17.5 miles the day before so we basically decided to run at “party pace”. This was only the fourth time I’ve run a half marathon with someone else, two times I ran with my uncle and once was to about 10k at the Hackney Half with Alan. It’s good to run with someone and chat all the way round, the miles go quickly. Also because the route was 4 loops I didn’t really seem to notice that which could’ve been annoying if racing. For most of the run it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a race. I guess that’s due to running steadily and there not being large crowds. That being said though at around halfway we got a rapturous reception from a young boy. When I say rapturous I mean he was clapping. I compared this to the London Marathon Tower Bridge moment! Big! 

I knew that another friend of mine was running and gunning for a PB. Nicolas achieved that PB in around 1:27. He stayed after and gave us high fives just before we started our last lap. We got round the last lap knowing the medal and a roast dinner was waiting for us. We finished in around 2:20, averaging around 10 min/mile, which was a good pace for the both of us and good to get some trail miles in. Helena tried to outsprint me at the finish and although the photo shows she did that, when the results came through we got the same time and I was placed infront, result! I love chip timing!  

 I’m smiling thinking “My chip time will mean I’m higher in the results!” Haha

After crossing the finish line we collected our medals and tucked in to some flapjacks etc which is another reason I love the Run Through events. 

After the race we eventually located a pub that served roasts. Yep that’s right, we came across a pub that didn’t serve roasts on a Sunday, pure madness! The roast was epic and was great recovery food and carb-loading all in one. So much so that after a power nap I was able to do a quick 10 miles around Viccy Park in the evening. 

Overall an enjoyable and pretty busy weekend of running. I hope everyone that’s been running and racing lots recently has been having fun. 

Steve