BULLSEYE

BULLSEYE

So. This is my 50th, yup, FIFTIETH post on this blog.

Back in February, I celebrated my 50th birthday (I know, I don’t look a day over 49!), and in the same week, I started this blog.

Inspired.

Inspired by having the belief to be a ‘writer’. That belief coming from the ‘me’ that is the ‘me’ that I never knew I could be. As regular readers will know, I attribute this ‘me’ to the wonderful world I am humbled and so fortunate to share with my incredible wife, Nicky.

The first blog post was inspired by, what I believed to be, a bit of elitism, a bit of snobbery, as we struggled to our epic DNF at Portland way back then. Check out that post here.

I went straight in to writing another post inspired by our fantastic holiday in Cornwall, and witnessing the incredible boys and girls taking on the Arc Of Attrition. Maybe have a read of that too, here, if you fancy.

The Arc Of Attrition. I don’t think it’s any longer a secret……. 2019…….

Having been told to ‘Man The **** UP!” by the afore mentioned Nicky, she gave the me gift of a journal to record my journey to attempting a 12 hour race, The East Farm Frolic.

Every day is like Christmas, the gifts of love, laughter, of adventure and of sharing life…. I truly feel like my heart has won the lottery. Every single day.

2017-03-16 19.52.09The gift of this journal is so symbolic, I’ve been to some dark places, literally and metaphorically, in the past. And here I am in the light. In the quiet. Inspired.

People from 61 different countries have read this blog (over 8000 times!). Hello South Korea, thank you for tuning in. It’s rather humbling to think of somebody in Brazil, Bulgaria or Bahrain taking the time to read my words.

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16th May 2015 the best day EVER

So, as I suspected, I really, REALLY enjoy writing. I really, REALLY enjoy running and the running community. That’d be a marriage made in heaven then. What a coincidence…..

So, here we are, 6 months later, after plenty of adventures and events. One of us has smashed their marathon PB and achieved even more open water swimming goals (neither of them were me!).

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One of us smashed their marathon PB in May!

We’ve done marathons, 10ks, ran in heat, in mud, in Cumbria and Snowdonia.

There’s been incredible tales of achievement in our family, young and old. There’s been chips, and pasties and cakes and ice creams (apart from when we’ve been ON IT!).

There’s been mild controversy, particularly after THIS POST. And I still stand by the ‘not good enough’ statement. We’ve been good enough for marathons over Mount Snowdon, the fells of Coniston and the 50km of brutal Cornish Coastline (to name but 3), but not good enough for……… (the race which isn’t mentioned!)

There’s been an almost political post, and I’ve touched on the pressures domestic life can stretch us, and how we support Nicky’s Dad.

But mostly, it’s been about running.

Oh, and me gushing about Nicky, much to her embarrassment.

She’s been at it again this week, inspiring and relentless. Last weeks RAT (see blog here) came in the middle of her preparing for a job interview and presentation….. Which were both successful. I don’t mind embarrassing her, I think we’re a great team and my pride in everything we achieve in life, and in being half of that team, swells by the day.

Anyway…

I have ideas for the blog and, as and when time allows, hopefully some of these will appear on this hallowed page. Maybe some interviews, maybe some more feature type posts. Any suggestions welcome….

In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away sharing thoughts and ramblings on this amazing journey that is life. The blog isn’t thrown together but there is improvisation. Last weeks post was pretty much composed whilst sat on a bag of cement during my breaks at work.

I’ll leave you with a montage of images from the last 50 posts and a massive THANKYOU for reading and engaging with these humble tales…

Keep on keeping on….

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The Places We Run, The People We Run With

FeaturedThe Places We Run, The People We Run With

 

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Organised chaos!

“I’m retiring. Yup this is my last ever ultra. Uh huh, it feels good.” Nicky (my rather gorgeous lady wife) proclaimed to anyone who’d listen.

“Without question, this is my favourite event EVER, and I’m coming back next year to do The Plague” I equally enthusiastically declared. Again, to anyone who’d listen.

wp-image-1413360077Mudcrew’s The R.A.T. trail running races. As David (one of the kit check guys) declared, this is the Christmas of trail running.

All run on the breathtaking Cornish coast line, there are 11, 20, 32 & 64 mile options.

Four years ago, unbeknown to us, we were about to become a couple. Nicky was here completing the Red Rat (20 miles) and I was burying myself in eyeballs out road training, chasing faster and faster times…..

Here we are, now 3 time veterans of The Black Rat (32 miles), absolutely basking in our unapologetically self congratulatory glory of another medal well earned.

wp-image-1676347441This is pure running adventure.

“Does anybody else fancy driving this down these lanes?” enquired our chatty coach driver as we inched our way towards St Anthony’s Head.

An hour earlier, four coaches left Porthpean at 7 am after a safety presentation and welcome from one of our incredibly enthusiastic race directors.

wp-image-540564259“Keep the sea on your right!”

A small bank of portaloos welcomed us to the National Trust car park at St Anthonys, and our good friend and fellow adventurer Martin made short work of the sprint from the bus, ensuring a clean seat and fresh paper for his pre race rituals.

wp-image-1677273735Some nervous chattering and shivering as we awaited the clock to strike 8.30 in the morning drizzle.

Like the security guys in the car park, during registration and at kit check, numerous smiling, happy and enthusiastic Mudcrew marshalls were overseeing the start.

Before we knew it, we were off. Straight on to the coast path, encountering a couple of Plague runners (these guys had started at 5 past midnight and were doing the course as an out and back 64 miles) who still had time to make the turn before the 9am cut off. They received much applause and encouragement, it had been a rough night of weather in the dark for those incredible chaps and chappesses.

 

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It goes up….. and down…. A LOT!

Apparently the leading pair turned by 6am!! And finished in just over 12 hours, a mere 6 seconds apart.

 

wp-image-1785018289Last year, with us not quite so well prepared, the field had eased away from us quite early and we didn’t much change our position throughout the race.

Cooler air this year, and Nicky stronger than ever, carrying Snowdonia’s efforts of a mere 20 days previously, but relentless.
The first checkpoint appeared in no time. As always, attentive, thoughtful, encouraging and knowledgeable crew, in numbers, to ensure we had food, drink and no ailments. Onwards.wp-image-765942649 Tucked well up into the pack of runners, Nicky, watchless, pushed on towards her alleged retirement, unaware that we were putting time into our previous best on this course. Running the runnable bits and marching on the tricky bits and eating up the steps.

The Roseland Peninsula offers a new and spectacular view after every turn, picture postcard fishing villages and terrain to test even the most hardened trail runners.

And steps.

Lots and lots of steps. Or ****ing steps as they increasingly became known as morning became afternoon.

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Portloe Checkpoint

The second checkpoint, at Portloe, also served as the starting point for the Red Rat (20 miles), those runners having been set on their way some 30 minutes before our arrival.

As I double checked that we truly were going as well as I’d thought, we were again fed and watered by the incredible team of volunteers. Seeing us on our way with huge cheers and encouragement.

wp-image-2066299383wp-image-450684104It’s quite a while before the next checkpoint, but again, despite this, time just flew by (as it always does when we run together) and we were still catching the odd fellow Black Ratter and occasionally a Plague infected warrier.

wp-image-1205760288“I enjoyed the night, lovely and cool in the rain” one responded as I tried to glean tips and tales in anticipation of me wearing the lime green vest this time next year (The Plague runners wear their official vest as their top layer at all times making them easy to identify.)

“The night? It was a ****ing nightmare!” said another.

“No!” said another, head down, determinedly trudging on after a mere 45 miles or so! I didn’t push for an elaboration!

wp-image-1674708693I’d better not turn up unprepared next year either, there’s nowhere to hide and no easy way on this course!

 

No, Kevin, Monk doesn’t begin with ‘P’

Two ultra veterans, Jessica and Duncan Williams set up a ‘pop up’ aid station at Port Holland. This is an annual tradition and their ‘P’ themed fancy dress this year was priests……. a very welcome drink and great to see Jessica, one of the runners we had cheered on in The Arc Of Attrition back in February. That was back when this blog was a shiny new thing – read that post HERE if you fancy.

 

The Arc Of Attrition….. hhhhhmmmm

wp-image-1867096456 Met this guy, Andrew, a couple of times during the day, he was savouring the chips in Mevagissy

I managed to resist tempatation twice in Mevagissy, firstly the incredibly smiley and enthusiastic marshall offered us chips!! Secondly we actually passed within 100 yards of our B & B for the weekend and it’s warm shower and welcoming duvet……..

 

That’s our lovely snuggly bed just up there!

This last 10k or so is probably the toughest we’ve encountered in any of our events, the climbs, descents and ****ing b****** steps go on and on and on.

And on.

Ice Pops from heaven!

This final 10k section also starts with the most atmospheric aid station and checkpoint I’ve encountered in trail running. The Ship Inn at Pentewan shares its outside space with The RAT for the day. The busiest checkpoint of the day even has ice pops, refreshing water melon and yet more attentive, caring and knowledgeable crew. Filling your water bottles, fetching your fruit and looking us square in the eye to check we were as we should be.

Or the best we could be at this stage of the race!

They know what they’re looking for too. Over 60 successful 100 mile events have been completed by the Mudcrew crew on duty.
With the pub having live music in the garden, and it now being well into the afternoon, there were some quite beery cheers too, to set us on our way.

We could not have been in safer hands, with the addition of fabulous medical cover and massage on duty at all the checkpoints, all we had to do was enjoy it!!!

One or two of these……

“I don’t care how long it’s taken, just happy to get it done” lied Nicky as we trudged up that last hill.

“We’re on 8 hours and 9 minutes and the finish is literally just at the top of this hill” I remarked, this being the first time I’d shared our progress on the clock with Nicky.

“WOW!” she said, I sensed just a little more skip in her step, “that’s so much faster than either of our other races here!”

YES!!!

It sure was. Feeling like superstars as we held hands and sprinted (well, maybe not actually sprinted) for the line. Great big smiles all around.

Catching Martin’s eye as we were presented with the medals (7h30m for the Silver Fox, chapeau sir) there was an exchange of fist pumps. This moment was caught beautifully on camera by our number one supporter Gloria, another RAT ever present, cheering everyone home in the fabulous crowd at the finish.

 

Happy RATs

 

All three race directors (this event is 18 hours long, never mind the time before and afterwards for the organisers) cheer, hug, back slap or shake the hand of every competitor across the four distances as they head for the line.

Martin made short work of a couple of Rattlers!

I don’t mind saying I’m proud. Firstly, my bursting pride to be able to share such wonderful adventure with the most incredible, beautiful, inspirational, HOT lady in the WHOLE world!

Never touched the sides!!

Proud to be part of this top, top event and amongst the best of the best in the trail running community.

Celebratory dinner in beautiful Mevagissy

Proud to share the weekend with such great friends in Gloria and Martin, who make the whole experience so much fun.

Sunday morning, not quite so mobile!

Do you know what? I’m proud of myself. I don’t apologise for having a moment of self congratulatory indulgence. These endurance tests aren’t for the faint hearted and preparation and the hours in training are essential to maintain the effort level and to have maximum ENJOYMENT on the day.

If our proclamations are accurate, next year, one of us will be having a sleepless night, the other will be having a full cooked breakfast……………

Two weeks until the Frolic now, I’ve put in lots of miles but probably not as many as I would have needed to be doing if I was to be in with a chance of hitting my secret target…..

Nor the target Nicky has set me – “if you don’t win, don’t bother coming home!”

She’s joking of course….

She is joking isnt she????

 Show, don’t tell 

Featured Show, don’t tell 

Tell you what, those mandatory kit lists for trail and ultra events….. have a listen to the interview with Adam Campbell on Talk Ultra….. I’ll be carrying the essential items EVERY time I go off the beaten track.

Both interviews with Adam are on the podcast including the latest, after completing the Hardrock 100 .

Anyway.

To the soundtrack of my own paddles breaking the smooth surface of the dark, becalmed water, I, almost blindly, forged into the darkness.

That sensation when you’ve set a ridiculously early alarm. Suddenly sitting bolt upright “I’VE OVERSLEPT!!!! Oh no, it’s only 11.30…” Repeated at regular intervals until the alarm actually chimes at….. THREE THIRTY A.M.!!! Yup 3.30A.M.

Hence the dark on the river. I know the river fairly well and the banks and massed trees loomed with sinister shadows to either side, even in the almost complete darkness. I stuck to the very middle and daylight gradually improved my navigation as I approached our rendezvous.

 

Chilly? Looks it from the warmth of the kayak!

 

Another weekend of adventure was well and truly under way….

I humbled am blessed to be sharing these precious weekends with my incredible, inspiring and, I don’t mind saying, HOT lady wife.

 

And they’re off

 

Our friend in adventure, Martin, was driving himself and Nicky to Totnes. From there they would swim back to Stoke Gabriel from where I had just paddled (having left the car there).

I love it when a plan comes together!

“I say old chap, the water really is rather nippy” (or words to that effect) Nicky exclaimed as they entered the river at 5.45AM. Martin concurred.

Just a couple of false starts as they acclimatised then off. Approaching the first set of bends, the sun introduced itself through the trees. To describe the scene as idyllic would be under selling it rather.

Over the next 2 hours we all agreed we had shared a magical and quite priveledged experience.

 

Martin & Nicky, as majestic as the river itself

 

Being Martin’s first river swim this year, he wasn’t quite as confident as Nicky who was really powering on. At one point I had to signal her to slow down as I was uncomfortable with the gap between them.

It might seem overly risk averse but, perhaps especially because of the early hour, any other river traffic we might be unlucky enough to encounter would be unlikely to be expecting to see two swimmers. Keeping both of them close to the kayak gives others more chance to spot us.

As they climbed from the water, with most of the world yet to start their weekend, we were all smiles and back slaps.

Leaving them to retrieve vehicles, I set out on the next instalment of the weekend. With The East Farm Frolic looming, I felt my fatigue from the weeks work and a rather short sleep, plus this morning’s hard kayak to Totnes would help me replicate running tired in the later stages of the 12 hour event.

I was right. I felt very tired. Having waxed lyrical about last week’s long run, I won’t dribble on…..

Suffice to say I stuck mainly to trails, some of them completely new to me and managed a satisfactory 30 miles. Loads of great routes to check out here.

I arrived back home, into the garden, to the wonderfully chaotic scene of grandchildren, step daughter, father-in-law and a refreshed and beautiful Nicky. All seem pleased to see me and enjoyed a “MAN DOWN!” moment as I slumped onto the garden bench!

My recovery was accelerated by the invitation to join the imminent mob march to the beach for ice cream.

ice creamRaberry pavlova. Mmm mmmmm.

Too tired to join our neighbours barbeque gathering, an early night beckoned. They are a musical crowd and it was quite mellow drifting off to the distant strum of a ukulele…….. I’m sure I dreamed of cleaning windows……..

Phew! So rest day Sunday…… naahhh…..

It’s a family affair….

Totnes 10k.

Love this race.

The year Nicky and I got together, we were both at this event. We didn’t spot each other but less than a month later we were embarking in this incredible adventure that is our life together.

So it’s always a special day. But this year topped them all. After 30 miles the previous day I was fairly confident I wouldn’t be troubling my PB list!!

 

Nicky and her beautiful girls

 

So, with my parents supporting, step daughter, Lou supporting too, it was a true family affair.

 

Sprint finish!

 

“Go get ’em Mum” yelled my other step daughter, Alisa as the two of them tore across the field towards the finish line. Three ladies from the incredible Plymouth based club, Storm, vied with them to cross the line first.

This was Alisa’s first ever race as she continues smashing down the barriers on her incredible journey of weight loss, healthy living and fitness drive.

Proud.

Lou and myself both seemed to have something in our eyes as Nicky and Alisa crosses the line.

 

The boy is a STAR!

 

Proud too as I lined up with grandson, Callum for the fun run prior to the main race. He blitzed around his mile in under 9 minutes and it definitely loosened my creaking legs!

 

The scene at the front prior to the race, old training partners Rob & Jerry raring to go

 

One of the best family says on the local race calender, the 10k itself winds it’s way to Dartington via the trails alongside the river. There’s a lumpy section with one proper climb about 2/3 of the way and the going is sapping, but after the Snowdonia Trail Marathon the other week, it’s pretty much flat!

 

Martin finishing strong

 

Setting off with the afore mentioned Martin, we ran toe to toe for about 4 miles until he goaded me in to running harder. I was really pleased to clock a couple of swift miles towards the end and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

A fabulous event, thoroughly recommended, great to meet up with so many familiar faces from the running community.

 

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STORM – setting up camp at a race near you!

Two clubs in attendance on mass were Teignbridge Trotters and the afore mentioned Storm. Storm are quite a success story, in only their second year and have well over 1000 members. Over 100 of them toed the line in Totnes today, a fine blaze of purple.

 

The Teignbridge Trotters, meanwhile, our hosts for the day, provide (as with all of their events) a fabulous atmosphere, family friendly environment and set up barbeques, hot drinks, a bar, a constant running commentary which is quite legendary, photographers (piccies are free!) and a fantastic, well marked, brilliantly marshalled course.

Sign up early next year, it was massively over subscribed this year.

Next up for us….. the RAT 32, miles on  the Cornish coast…….

Meanwhile some more piccies from the weekend….

 

Sprint finish from friend Jan too

 

 

Event photgraphers giving their time (and their photos)

 

 

Another sprint finish – Callum smiling as he hurtles in

 

 

Nicky & Alisa and some of the many Storm runners

 

 

All smiles on the start line

 

 

Something resembling a sprint from this lanky fella too

 

 

And all called home and congratulated by this relentless chap

 

Been on a quad

FeaturedBeen on a quad

A quick post typed on my phone, check out the piccies at the end of the blog…..

I’m always so grateful to marshals, staff, helpers and crew at races. Whilst I often bemoan the lack of time to enjoy the things we enjoy so it always amazes me the philanthropic nature of so many kind souls.

“Which way do we ******** go here!!??” A voice from the other side of the hedge yelled. This startled me.

This startled me, mainly because it was a voice from a group of runners I had yet to see. In my rather complicated marshalling position, I met the intrepid Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k competitors twice. Well, most of them!

The Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k. A completely voluntary event. Regular readers (listen to me, “regular readers” la de da, I’ll be saying ‘friends of the blog’ next!) will know of, actualy most of you probably know him in person, Jamie, the organiser.

My annual, tiny return back to the sport I love is to turn up and help at this lovely event.

As the runners approached me after about 2 miles I informed them “right, left, around the gate, right at the end, right again and then left into the hay field.” Simples.

They then approached the same point from yet another direction after about 5 miles, “left here, careful it’s slippery, then left again, then follow the tape back across the field. Oh and watch out for runners still coming up!” Again. Simples.

Somehow, a lead group had managed to ignore the marked route, make their own route up and approached me from yet another different direction. All but one seemed to see the funny side……

The bulk of the 180 or so which completed the full course did so with big smiles on their faces. Several stopped to fuss Charlie who was helping me marshalling and all seemed to be loving the challenging but beautiful course.

“Alright boy!? Pick up the mut and jump on!” Bellowed the friendly guy (Mark?) who saved me the mile and a half or so hike back to the village by giving us a lift on his quad.

“BEEN ON A QUAD!” Charlie couldn’t wait to tell the grandchildren. I think they’re starting to suspect Charlie can’t ACTUALLY talk, but, honestly it’s all he’s been saying all week.

Do check out the Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k (ish) and sign up early next year, it sold out very early this year. Jamie had secured so many great gestures from local businesses and the village really embraces the event.

Hoping to see ALL the runners twice next time.

I’m off for some kayaking and running tomorrow and the Totnes 10k Sunday. The weekend will be over all to quickly….

All my running is on Strava and Fetch. Please keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, comment here or email kbonfield@live.com

Thank you for the interest in my little blog, please check out previous posts too, nearly 50 of them now.

Smiles a plenty
Thumbs ups a plenty too
Plenty of local clubs represented
Nicky on the way out, Charlie is just out of shot
Mark, ultra runner extraordinaire
Martin, all smiles
Brian, runner, coach and local event organiser
Not a bad spot to be marshalling

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It’s not the same without you….

FeaturedIt’s not the same without you….

 

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And off I go….

I’ve never ran this far before on my own.

 

Nicky and I have completed four 50km events whilst running together, and she has, of course, topped all of that with her South Downs Way 50 miles.

So, with the East Farm Frolic looming and the small matter of Snowdonia Trail Marathon still heavy in my legs, I set off at the crack of dawn….

Knowing I intended to run on some very challenging terrain, and that I hoped to be out for 6 hours, I set out tentatively.

I always feel so lucky that Paignton faces East. These early morning runs are so often blessed with such dramatic lighting and colours, today was no exception.

It’s also great when the tide is out. Running along the

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Mile 1 – a deserted Paignton beach

beach, reigning myself in, drinking in the fabulous, flickering, coloured reflections of the

 

sun and clouds on the wet sand.

Determined to keep to as many trails as possible, I ran the grass next to hard footpaths wherever possible

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Mile 2, the tide has left plenty of seaweed on Goodrington sands

to protect my aging bones!

 

Again, I also feel lucky that I simply enjoy the very basic pleasure of running….

I’m not really a ‘group’ runner, but love running with Nicky & Charlie (the border terrier). I’m also quite happy, and motivated to run and train alone.

I was expecting this epic to test the meditative state running can give me to it’s limits.

 

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Mile 3 – not the most inspiring section!

Before Nicky and I were together I was less adventurous with my running, mainly sticking to roads, and entering events with ‘PB potential’.

 

But, I was always motivated to train hard and rack up the miles on my own. I did speed train in a group from time to time. It was focussed,  eye balls out, intervals and time trials and I could always dig deep for them.

 

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Mile 4, the sun appearing over the fields above Clennon Valley
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Mile, er, 5

Now, I feel I have taken that rather single minded focus and have added a layer of adventure, a layer of exploration and of finding new challenges in endurance and terrain.

 

I’ve found, since writing this blog, that I read more and more excellent blogs from other runners. It always astonishes me how much detail people remember.

I know I enjoy waxing lyrical about this life of adventure and running with my wonderful wife, soul mate and fellow adventurer, Nicky, but I can never remember the points of a run in any sort of chronological order.

Hence this blog. I set out to take a photograph at every mile or so, then upload them in order.

 

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Mile 6, Stoke Gabriel, I wasn’t going that badly….yet!

The idea being, for those that are interested, the ‘journey’ of this mammoth training run can be charted by way of photograph.

 

 

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Mile 7, the dramatic skies above Galmpton
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Mile 8, The last time I climbed this stile, a herd of frisky bullocks increased my pace and heart rate rather!

By my Garmin watch I covered 50 kilometres , but the Strava app on my phone gave me 32.5 miles or so. Check out the route here.

 

There was definitely a ‘Snowdon Shuffle’ feel to this run, particularly in the latter stages, after that brutal coast path from Kingswear to Brixham.

On a couple of the tougher stairs sections, I actually had a word with myself to ‘Man the F*** up’! as my good lady wife would say.

‘Tis tough though, as anyone who has run or walked it will know.

I wonder how many people actually talk out loud to themselves whilst running in deserted, wind and rain swept. It feels bloody lovely.

Until you round the next corner and bump into an intrepid family hiking in the rain! I’m sure they were smiles of pity as they quickly scurried past me!

 

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mile 9, Galmpton creek (and a sweaty thumb)
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Mile 10, the fabulous view towards Dartmouth from above Greenway
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Mile 11, still smiling was trying to digest a Mars Bar

Well, this year I’ve run (at the time of writing) 1,450 miles, climbing 125,000 ft of elevation at an average of 45 miles a week. I run about 8 hours a week on average.

 

The event is 12 hours on a loop of about 4 or 5 miles, off road and hilly.

Not as hilly as this though!

Whilst I was battered after 6 hours and 31 miles, I did do 5900ft of climbing, only 6 days after doing 5800ft of climbing in The Snowdonia Trail Marathon, so I am pretty pleased.

Another 6 hours is a bloody long time though!

 

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Mile 12

I think I shall (*stolen from Steve Skedgell) be the tortoise not the hare!

 

I even practised eating!

Actual food.

I had a mars bar, two packets of honey and oat bars and a bag of mini cheddars.

I also drank my full bladder, 2 litres of zero sports drink.

I’m ignoring the question….

12 hours running round and round a farm in Dorset. How hard can it be.

I’m off again Saturday, maybe a slightly less brutal route and maybe slightly further than last week. hopefully a bit quicker. Although it’s the time on my feet I need, rather than any particular pace.

Anyway, enough of this rambling, time has beaten me this week, so hopefully you’ll enjoy the rest of the pictures from this run.

Please keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Strava, by commenting on here, or by email, kbonfield@live.com

Keep on keeping on……

 

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Mile 13, as you do….

 

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Mile 14, down to Kingswear

 

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Mile 15, if you go down to the wood today….

 

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Mile 16, I chose the longer option….

 

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Mile 17, even in the lashing rain the coast path is stunning

 

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Mile 18, I don’t remember…..

 

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Mile 19, LOOK! eating AND running….

 

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Mile 20, I do believe that’s Mansands ahead

 

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Mile 21, does this look like a man who shouts at himself?!

 

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Mile 22, Berry Head appears in the gloom

 

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Mile 23, amazing how challenging these start to look!

 

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Mile 24, leaving the solitude of the coast path for the bustle of Brixham

 

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Mile 25, Shoalstone Pool, tempting…

 

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Mile 26, Battery Gardens

 

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Mile 26.2, pretty pleased with that!

 

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Mile 28, Kayakers enjoying the empty seas in the foul weather

 

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Mile 29, surely the last set of these!

 

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I’d hoped to do 30 miles in 6 hours, so extremely happy with this

 

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Mile 31, this man needs an ice cold coke (and a shower!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s 3 YEEESSSSSSS’s

FeaturedThat’s 3 YEEESSSSSSS’s

If we 100% KNEW we would succeed, well, it wouldn’t be a challenge…..

Prior to this weekend just gone, my proudest ‘Team Bonfield’ moment had been when we crossed the finish line of the Dartmoor Discovery 50k Ultra just inside the time limit.

 

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Nicky eating up the early climbs

The Snowdonia Trail Marathon topped that, in so many ways. WOW. Too many breathtaking views to take in. WOWs  by the sack full.

 

AND 3, count ’em, THREE ‘YEEESSSSSS!’ moments.

Ahhh, the dreaded cut-offs. Only one here, after the climb up to Pen Y Pass. About 19 miles in. From there it’s up the mountain proper on the Pyg Track.

As we left the starting pen in Llanberris, nothing was certain. Nearly 700 runners, some strutting, some staring, some nervously pacing or muttering (‘madness’ whispered one guy as he fidgeted and fussed), listened to the race briefing.

Yes we can hear you at the back. Yes we can clearly hear that it is VERY important not to veer from the route and DEFINITELY not climb any gates or fences. More on that later…..

 

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Everybody listening??

We had dined with my brother and his wife, who live in Kimnel Bay, a feast on the eve of this epic adventure. Regular Snowdonia hikers, they were eager to share their local knowledge and we pored over the route to get ‘beat the cut off’ tactics in place.

 

9am. A brief road section through the crowds of spectators and Half and 10k runners awaiting their turn. Then up.

And up.

 

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Top of the first climb. WOW the views!

Nicky pushed hard here, brisk hiking the steepest bits, easy paced running where possible. When we reached the top of this climb, the 3.5 miles had taken us about 15 minutes less than my loose plan. Result.

 

Some moor like terrain, downhill and flat and we were feerrrlying…… oh hang on….

A queue. When I say a queue, probably about 200 people waiting to negotiate a stile. Hhhmmmm.

Some, whose race was obviously more important than ours, decided climbing a padlocked gate followed by a wire fence would mean they didn’t have to wait like everyone else.

Mildly annoying after 5 minutes.

Annoying after 10 minutes.

Absolutely infuriating when, after 15 minutes, the marshall charged with the unfortunate task of policing this area shouted to the approaching runners at the back of the field to take this alternative route…….

Nicky had worked so hard to get this far in this time, yet, now I was contemplating the cut off again whilst participants who had taken considerably longer on the climb didn’t even pause as they disappeared off ahead of us.

Potentially, a scenario where some of those runners who hadn’t had to wait at all, but took 15+ minutes longer than us over the first 4 miles, narrowly made the cut off whilst we narrowly missed it, was starting to play out in my head.

We were cross.

2017-07-23 09.32.08Once we were over the stile, and then through the next couple of miles and occasional further stiles, we made great progress on the rough terrain. Unfortunately the field of runners was out of sync now and we were constantly trying to weave through those who had been behind us until the stile incident. Or stilegate, as it shall be known.

Once we’d reached mile 6 we had found some space to run in and easier terrain for a while. A familiar face, Kevin (a regular face at events we have enjoyed in Dorset), greeted us at this point which was a real boost as well. We settled in to rattling off some miles as we ran through forests, around lakes, alongside miniature railways. All to the spectacular backdrop of the mountains around us.

Progress was good. I started to fear the cut off less and less and more and more enjoy absolute joy of running in this incredible place with this incredible woman.

I made a pact with myself to take no pictures until we reached that cut off. After negotiating a runner-jam in a single track section through the woods at the bottom of Pen Y Pass, we freed ourselves from the pack and marched the 2 mile climb to reach the cut off with about 40 minutes to spare.

 

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Cut off smashed??? We’ll drink to that….

YEEESSSS!!!

 

 

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Up

Now the hard climbing started. Please forgive us a smug moment here! We are rather proud to be running grandparents knowing our grandchildren can point at a map of Snowdon and say ‘Nanny and Grandad’ did that!

 

It’s a great leveller, a mountain and we were amongst runners of all ages as an unspoken comradery developed.

Nicky, strong as an ox. The climb is about 5km long from that point and is pretty relentless. It scrambles and winds and teases then punishes and it does go on and on. All to the incredible backdrop of the peaks and ridges all around.

My sister, Karen, who regular readers will know, was taken from us just so tragically early, would have loved to see us doing this. She would have revelled in the happiness I have found with Nicky and would have been championing us in all our adventures. I wore my ‘Karen Ribbon’ for this run, and definitely felt a gentle extra push as we reached for the top of the climb.

Talking of which, it turned out my brother, mother and uncle were all glued to the tracker and shared in our ‘YEEESSS!’ moments ‘live’!

Suddenly, through the descending mist (which was quite welcome as the heat was starting to build), a high-viz vest in the distance, still way up above us, but a welcome sight.

 

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Top of the Pyg Track – glad we didn’t go DOWN that way!

YEEESSSS!!

 

2017-07-23 15.18.32Exiting the other worldly atmosphere of the Pyg Track as the tourist trail becomes the Miner’s Track, with the train passing too, was completely bizarre and quite magical.

Knowing it was quite literally all down hill from here, we high-fived and then set about the descent…….

 

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DOWN!

Unfortunately, almost immediately, Nicky had a sharp and immobilising pain in the back of her knee. This stopped us in our steep and gravelly tracks, on this, er, steep gravelly track.

 

A fistful of vitamin I (Ibruprofen), gently and gingerly building up speed, we soon got up to ‘Ahhhweeeeeee’ velocity as we tumbled down and down and down.

2017-07-23 15.29.52Llanberris was soon coming into view, as we went further down and down and down. The very bottom of the descent was sooooo steep as it turned to tarmac before a naughty loop through a park and we could clearly hear the announcer calling the runners in.

“….. and coming in now, holding hands, in a cracking time of 7 hours and 24 minutes, it’s KEVIN BONFIELD and AMY SOMETHING…………..

…….. oh No it’s not it’s Kevin and NICKY BONFIELD!!!”

YEEEESSSSS!!!

 

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Sooooo proud…. I think there may be something in my eye…..

We truly felt (still feel) we had achieved something extraordinary.

 

 

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Down in one, down in one….

A fabulous, brutal, beautiful event. It’s big, probably 2000 runners across the 3 distances, yet it was so welcoming, brilliantly marked and marshalled (I think stilegate is a glitch, it needs addressing, but certainly the only real blip) and the event base in Lanberris has the cosy feel of a much smaller event.

 

 

2017-07-23 17.59.01-1It wasn’t necessarily on our bucket list, but it has given us a wonderful glow……..

 

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Howard and Hilda enjoyed Pen y Pass so much, they went back the following day!

 

Next up, the Cornish coast beckons in the R.A.T. ……..

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Silence Is Golden)

FeaturedExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Silence Is Golden)

I was a publican back in the day.

 

off to bed
Off to bed!

I couldn’t do that now. I’m tucked up in bed hours before pubs close!

 

Anyway, a member of staff systematically stole off me for a while back then. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was quite clever what he did and it took me a while and a couple of observant and loyal customers to catch him.

Obviously, his welcome in the pub ended at that moment.

It was quite a surprise when, a few months later, I had a telephone call from a pub chain in London asking me to provide a reference for this chap. Apparently it was for a key holder position.

After holding back a whole Ramsey of expletives, I apologised and said that I was unable to provide a reference. Rather than wade into the reasons why, I decided to simply confirm his employment dates and then say nothing more.

I try to focus on the positives in this blog, it is only my thoughts and my opinions, yet I tend to avoid long descriptions of things which I don’t particularly recommend.

 

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She’s in there somewhere

My wonderful and relentlessly inspiring (and HOT) wife, Nicky completed another swim today, a 5km river swim. It’s an out and back course with the ‘out’ being against the incoming tide. She truly is amazing……

 

So, a review you say?? Of this event you say??

I’d rather tell you about the latest book I’ve read………….

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer, a quite sparkling read.

Tackling one of modern history’s most tragic and startling episodes, the story is told to the backdrop of the terrorists attacks on The World Trade Centre’s twin towers, 9/11.

Whilst a work of fiction, amongst the, quite literally, thousands of tragic tales resulting from the attacks. It is a tale of loss, of identity and of searching told through the eyes and mind of a 9 year old boy. Oskar, the 9 year old, lost his father to the attacks.

In searching for reasons and understanding, Oskar comes across a key. He believes this key will open something, a door, a box, a security lock and the story is his trail through New York attempting to piece together a mystery, to find a connection to his father again.

2017-07-06 07.34.45Voices from family members past are used to link the characters and bonds of love, friendship and kinship are quite beautifully knitted together. The fact that this process is narrated by a (admittedly unique and advanced) 9 year old, makes the story even more beautiful.

If you don’t shed tears, chuckle, and need a hug or two from reading this book I’d be most surprised. It takes some ‘reading into’ to get the feel of the prose and time structure, but once you’re in it, you’re staying!

I won’t give too much away, as the journey with the key, the history as told by his grandmother and the snippets of clues as to what ACTUALLY happened to his father are mesmerising.

Certainly one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

 

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Great Grandad’s prompt and efficient taxi service

Nicky and are both avid readers and, whilst we have our favourite styles and authors, nothing is off limits for having a read. We’ve agreed, too, that it’s ok to give in and put a book down half read if we’re really not engrossed by it.

 

Nicky is certainly more prolific than I, perhaps because she doesn’t rattle away on the keyboard like this, instead happily snuggled up with Charlie and I on the little sofa, ploughing through the chapters whilst I click-clack away.

 

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You just wait until I can reach the handle

In fact, only this evening, she proclaimed “I still haven’t found her head!” whilst buzzing with the intrigue and page turning suspense of another Peter James novel….

 

Anyway, I had a lovely trail run whilst Nicky was swimming today, followed by a well earned sausage sarnie. Our Saturday date with the family is becoming more regular, and the grandchildren didn’t disappoint with their comedy gold moments…

VERY peaceful after they’d left!

Just thought I’d check in…

Keep on keeping on people….