(No) Jacket Required

(No) Jacket Required

Sporting a shiny new MOT certificate the trusty Micra bumped across the field to be directed into a lovely parking space by the familiar face of Jamie.

Jamie has featured in this blog on numerous occasions as he tends to be omnipresent in the local trail running community.

And here he was, at the crack of dawn marshalling the car park for Pure Trail’s Race The Tide.

Good job he was. “Take your kit for inspection at the registration tent Kev”

Ahhh. I immediately remembered NOT packing my running jacket…..

 

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Sharing a coffee with Jamie

So, as I collected my race number and tucked Jamie’s jacket into my running pack after he had saved the day, the sun was already beating ahead of the 8am start. Hopefully I won’t be needing it I mused as I poured myself a coffee from my flask and humbly offered Jamie a cup as a thoroughly inedaquate thank you.

There was a healthy looking gathering of far better organised athletes than I mulling around the start line as I sauntered into the pack.

It’s not the same on the start line without Nicky, I can’t lie. I absolutely love running and enjoy many a solo hour on the trails but there’s nothing quite like lining up with my beautiful lady wife for these scenic trail events.

In the circumstances, Nicky on a powerful recovery from a calf injury and focusing on her Half Iron Distance triathlon in a months time, she was happy to be tackling the 16 mile version whilst I faced the full blown 29.

With Nicky, along with fellow Half competitors Martin & Abi, plus our ever present supporter, Gloria, arriving some time later, I wasn’t my most organised self, in fact, without Nicky guiding me, I did well to be dressed, and was still mentally checking I’d got everything I wanted to take in my running pack as we set off into the Flete Estate.

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I was sure it said ‘fast and flat’ on the flyer….

I’d been originally training for a 60 mile event this weekend, as regular blog readers will know, so the theory was I should be ‘comfortable’ with the prospect of tackling half the distance….

Having enjoyed the Half Marathon last year (check out the blog HERE), I was looking forward to once again enjoying the runnable trails through the Estate alongside the River Erme. Once over the upstream bridge, the route winds its way back towards the sea before the marathon route splits off and heads off towards the River Avon.

Running through woodland, river trails, farmland, footpaths and quiet lanes, this really is trail runners heaven. And the best was yet to come.

Regular readers will know, I am rubbish at recalling accurate mile by mile, blow by blow accounts of my runs, so forgive me if I ramble randomly…..

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Nobody was going hungry or thirsty!

So heading towards the sea again, running periodically with some great company – Gus, David and Rebecca, we caught up with two more runners. Luke and Adam, both regulars on the trail running scene, who appeared to be wading into the sea!! They believed they had already reached the point at which they should be ‘racing the tide’ and had taken on the fast moving current.

 

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Luke survived his ‘extra’ water crossing

 

They decided to backtrack and helpfully gestured us to not take the same path as them, which meant we momentarily snuck past them as they squelched across the sand. There was much hilarity and banter as we crossed the sand and headed for Burgh Island. The Island is accessible without getting your feet wet at low tide and we got bemused, even admiring glances, from day trippers as we climbed up for our loop of the island.

 

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I don’t know WHY we run here

This is truly a breath taking area of natural beauty and it was a treat to be enjoying it all in such glorious weather. Off the beach, we came to one of the fabulous aid stations. Further adding to the lovely family atmosphere generated by Pure Trail events, this food market of a checkpoint was manned by the parents of one of the Pure Trail’s event organisers. I managed to get a picture of Steve’s Mum and Dad which, in the case of his Mum, is quite a rarity.

So, fuelled again by coke, water melon and Jaffa cakes, I set off to enjoy the coast path between Bigbury and the actual ‘Race The Tide’ crossing at Mothercombe.

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Gus mulling over the selection of food on other!

Gus and I had barely started saying “So, poles, do they really help……” when Luke deftly produced his and sped past us up the next grassy hill!

We reached the crossing of the Erme with plenty of time to spare before the incoming tide arrived and we ventured onto the next section of glorious coastline. The route is so beautiful, demanding for sure, but stunning, that as we turned back in land after about 23 miles, I started to feel a twinge of sadness that we’d reached the final 10km….

Every aid station we passed was stuffed with such a wonderful array of goodies, it would be easy to pile weight on DURING the run. The watermelon though, wow, how utterly refreshing was that!

Turning back along the Erme Estuary for the final trudge back up to the finish line, I had a wave of pride at my performance. Not because of the time I’d taken, or the position I’d finished, but because I seem to be getting so much better at judging my effort level to get maximum pleasure out of my time out on the course.

*NOTE FROM NICKY – He’s also under strict instructions not to end up in the medic’s tent like after his Eden Marathon ‘efforts’!

And what a course.

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Thank you to the organisers for this picture, I almost look like an afferlete!

Due to the way the different distances of the day’s races were timed, I managed to cross the line about a minute before, our great friend, Martin, a regular feature in this blog. He hadn’t been with us last year and I just knew he was going to be waxing lyrical, in his sexy brummie twang, about how gorgeous the route is. And he was, he also loved it

Another great friend, Gloria, had enjoyed a lovely walk and paddle in the Erme before setting herself in prime position for finish line photos.

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Nicky & Abi – wearing the smiles of a happy run

Before long Abi, another great friend, fresh from her marathon debut in London, and Nicky, were giggling their way through a mock sprint finish to the line. They had nattered and munched and selfied their way around the beautiful route and Abi declared it her new favourite race!

The School House Café literally next door to the event field, was our destination for mammoth cakes and happy musings of a wonderful day.

Asked how much I enjoyed it, I declared it to be, out of all the events I’ve ever tackled WITHOUT Nicky by my side, it is my absolute favourite. Pure Trail give their events that feeling of being involved in something quite epic, whilst keeping the atmosphere of hanging out with your mates and family. The route was well thought out and maximised this incredible location, the marshals and organisers were all smiles and supportive, with so many experienced trail and ultra runners on the ‘staff’ for the day, the participants were more than safe and catered for.

I was sooooo busy enjoying the views I forgot to take much in the way of photographs but hope I’ve captured the flavour of a wonderful day.

FOOTNOTE – After 107 blog posts, you’d think I’d start to understand WordPress a bit better. apologies for some of the picture captions!

 

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FOOTNOTE 2 – my quads were loving this today!!!!

 

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No Sleep ‘Til Streatley

No Sleep ‘Til Streatley

Welcome to the 100th episode of this little blog of mine.

To celebrate, here is your chance to win an absolutely FREE entry into the T Series 100 mile ultra marathon. Find out all about it RIGHT HERE.

It’s on Friday 24th & Saturday 25th August, starts at the Thames Barrier in London and finishes in Streatley. The lovely people at T SERIES RACING have given the blog a FREE PLACE to give away.

HOW TO WIN…

SIMPLY POST A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG AND YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAW TO WIN THE PLACE. YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY 27TH APRIL TO GET YOUR ENTRY IN.

JUST TO CONFIRM…..
SIMPLY POST A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG AND YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAW TO WIN A PLACE IN THE T-SERIES 100 MILE ULTRA MARATHON ON 24TH/25TH AUGUST 2018. YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY 27TH APRIL TO GET YOUR ENTRY IN.

While you’re here, you may like to see what else I ramble about…..

I compiled a ‘best of the blog’ for 2017, check it out HERE

By way of a quick introduction, I am a 50something runner, sharing an amazing life of endurance adventure with my beautiful, precious, inspirational, wife and soul mate, Nicky. We care for her father, Frank, who is sadly suffering with Dementia. We also have Charlie, the Border Terrier, who features regularly on the blog.

I’m also a proud Step Dad and Grandad and this also features regularly in my wittering.

I’m also an aspiring writer……. I keep another (very) occasional blog which charts my all too intermittent efforts at moving my novel along. With its working title Dogs That Don’t Look Like Their Owners, it trundles along…… slowly!

The fact that I’m a builder by day also features regularly in the blog as my daily efforts quite often impact my planned running.

The blog is a hobby and I absolutely love writing it. If each post brought a moment’s pleasure to just one reader it would make me a happy, and proud, writer.

Thank you for taking the time to check out the blog, and do check out the T Series event in August, I am so very grateful to them for donating this place, giving one reader an opportunity to test themselves along this iconic trail.

SO, THE COMPETITION AGAIN:
SIMPLY POST A COMMENT ON THIS BLOG AND YOU WILL BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAW TO WIN A PLACE IN THE T-SERIES 100 MILE ULTRA MARATHON ON 24TH/25TH AUGUST 2018. YOU HAVE UNTIL MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY 27TH APRIL TO GET YOUR ENTRY IN.
THE DRAW FOR THE PLACE WILL TAKE PLACE LIVE ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE AT 7PM ON SATURDAY 28TH APRIL 2018.

ME ON FACEBOOK HERE

ME ON TWITTER HERE

ME ON INSTAGRAM HERE

GOOD LUCK!

99 problems….

99 problems….

But the blog ain’t one….

Peter Rabbit with the grandchildren. Charming.

Yes this is the 99th instalment of the blog…..

…….. So the burning question is…. Just how will we celebrate getting to 100?

By giving away a place in a 100 mile ultra marathon, that’s how.

There’s been some lovely early morning trail runs this week

Oh yes, we’re going BIG TIME here in Blog Towers.

Anyway, after the excitement and amazingness of our Cape Town trip and the Two Oceans Marathon, we’re back to earth with a few bumps but raring to go onto the next round of challenges.

Work has been in some lovely remote locations too

Unfortunately my next personal challenge, the T60, has, for reasons outside of anyone’s control, had to be cancelled. I was starting to believe I was going to be good and ready for this and was gearing up to give it a real good go.

C’est la vie, as they say.

T-Series racing, the hosts of the afore mentioned T60, also stage 100 and 185 mile Thames races in August. The lovely people of T-Series Racing have very kindly donated a place in the T-100 for us to give away through the blog.

This coincides rather neatly with the next blog post being the 100th. I know. slick eh?

So, the blog started all those months ago with a bit of an observational rant (HERE) about perceived elitism and has been through the highs and lows and hills and mud of mine and Nicky’s journey through life over the last 15 or so months.

I find it wonderful to be able to express, through these pages, how blessed I feel to share this wonderful life with my beautiful and inspirational lady wife.

If the sun forgets to come up I just give it a prod

Anyway, if anyone seriously fancies a crack at the T-100 then I’d recommend checking for the 100th episode of this here blog on Saturday…….

The Cape Town Chronicles #2 (Up Top)

The Cape Town Chronicles #2 (Up Top)

2018-03-30 15.49.03.jpgAs hinted at in the first of this series, Nicky and I fully immersed ourselves in the tourist lifestyle in Cape Town. We’re normally the couple who avoid eye contact and park ourselves in the quietest spot and devour books.

Not on this trip. Hell, no!

We bought ourselves a 2 day ticket for the brilliant hop-on-hop-off busses and set about seeing every corner of this boisterous city.

We were fortunate that we chose to visit the Two Oceans Expo and sort our entries out and collect our numbers on the day it opened, leaving us free to explore the city on the 2 full days we had before the race. Apparently people queued for 3+ hours to register over the next couple of days.

2018-03-30 16.10.59Anyway, we giggled like children, sat in the poring rain ‘up top’. We went on the Blue Route, the Red Route, the Yellow Route and the Purple Route. We went on the Harbour Cruise and the Sunset Tour. We didn’t see the sunset though, through the thick rain and fog!

And it was brilliant.

I think I speak for both us when I say that one of the great things about our whirlwind romance was that we both just want some peace and quiet! Coastal winter walks are about as crowded as we normally like to encounter. And I know I speak for both of us when we say we surprised ourselves by how we immersed in the hustle of this city break.

I was torn between the incredible scenery, the  mountains, the beaches, the magnificent stadium, the modern architecture, the wildlife and just looking at my beautiful wife….. Pinching myself regularly to check that I was indeed having this amazing time in this amazing place with this AMAZING lady.

 

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You just HAVE to check out the sunset on Signal Hill

We ate like kings, gawped at enormous sea life in the aquarium, held our noses and chuckled at the seals on the marina, and tempted ourselves with some beautiful original art.

 

Yes those first two and a half days were absolutely PACKED and we hunkered down Friday night wonderfully exhausted, with a stupid o’clock alarm set for race day.

I know these ‘Cape Town Chronicles’ aren’t following a chronological pattern, but hopefully they give a flavour of this incredible trip.

Don’t forget to check out The Capetown Chronicles #1 HERE

 

 

It’s ok, I’ll run

It’s ok, I’ll run

I’m self employed. Saying that, I’ve mostly worked for the same small firm for the last two years. I did go out on loan for a while (see THIS BLOG), but even that was for a friend of my current boss. Though I’m self employed, said boss still texted me to check I was OK with travelling to and from the customers’ house on both SNOWMAGGEDON days this week.

 

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It’s ok, I RAN home

“It’s OK,” I cheerfully responded, “I’ll run home”. Secretly hoping for a white deluge, I stuffed a load of running gear in a rucksack and drove the 6 miles to work. Rather disappointingly, on Wednesday, the threatened snow barely materialised and the trusty Micra scuttled me safely home.

 

And then scuttled me back to work Thursday morning. The difference being, the snow actually came on Thursday. And didn’t it.

Another text from my boss, basically saying have a half day, “It’s OK, I’ll run home.” I reassured. Then the call from Nicky came. She was more insistent now that the weather had deteriorated sufficiently for her office to close early. For those who are new to the blog… WELCOME!!…. Nicky is my wife, my inspiration, my heartthrob, my passion, my reason, my life. Feel free to read back through the blog for more, suitably gushy, posts about how I treasure every moment of our lives together and the incredible adventures she dreams up for us.

Anyway.

2018-03-01 12.44.37I am learning to understand when “I think you should leave now” means “You ARE leaving now.” Not to worry about the chances of the Micra getting home in one piece, I reported…. “I’ll run home!”.

So, as Nicky left her office a couple of miles from home, I washed up my decorating gear (by the way, once this project is finished I’ll be striking out on my own, so if you’re local and have property repairs or renovations needed…. get in touch) and donned several layers of running attire.

“When you said ‘it’s ok, I’ll run home’, we thought you were joking!” exclaimed the customer as a thick veil of snow started to hide the rather tatty Micra from the beaky eyes of their neighbours.

An hour and a half later, I met Nicky sat in stranded traffic at the bottom of our road! Torbay ground to a halt as the heaviest snow I can remember combined with a ferocious easterly storm to close roads and challenge the authorities and emergency services.

2018-03-01 13.21.12For me, though, what a treat, running 6 miles on crisp fresh snow on the country lanes. T’was quite beautiful.

I’m always jealous of those people with their ideal jobs, showers at work, gym on site. So many magazine articles suggest ‘squeezing a run in at lunch time’ for those of us with time-poor lives. Not much use for us hairy-arsed builders. Unless we want to stink all afternoon. The same goes for running to work – I’d have to carry so much (I have an ENORMOUS lunch box – come on now, no sniggering at the back!) and would be rather sweaty and smelly.

That leaves running home as the only possibility. The challenge here being, again, carrying my work clothes and paraphernalia and, of course, then not having my car to get to work in the morning. For a long time I cycled to work trying desperately not to be a sweaty mess on arrival and weighed down by so much STUFF.

So, with work related runs not really an option for me, yesterday was a real treat. Emerging from the silent, bright white lanes into the ring road on the outskirts of Paignton, I saw the full extent of the travel chaos. I helped a couple of motorists battling the challenging conditions up the first hill before zigzagging my way home via more unused tracks and lanes.

Since the advent of cameras on mobile phones and the instant world of information we now live in, we are all ‘on the spot’ journalists to our little world.

Nicky, Charlie (the intrepid Border Terrier) and I ventured out into the snow last night for a great fun walk, and to record Paignton in the snow – not something we see very often. We avoided the beach area, Storm Emma was throwing crazy waves up and over the prom.

We should all consider those less able to cope than us, the frail, the elderly and keep an eye out for our neighbours. I have to say, it’s been heart warming to see the army of 4X4 vehicle owners and those with spare rooms near hospitals, some pubs, shops and cafes, all start to offer their generous and selfless support once the extent of the extreme weather became apparent. Getting people safe and warm and where they need to be was the mission and so many joined the cause.

In a world where nobody has any time for anyone, there has been a real sense of community around here, and I for one think that is a fine thing.

Saying that, Nicky and I are grandparents ourselves, but nobody had traipsed across the snow currently covering our garden to ask us if we need any bread or milk….

So, this morning a lovely run of nearly 7 miles with Nicky and Charlie (see HERE) was slightly hampered by a lot of the snow being too deep for Charlie’s little pins! He’s collapsed on the sofa now and avoiding eye contact! But how beautifully the forces of nature had prepared the countryside for us today us today.

So another week of limited running has bizarrely been rescued by the very weather which has hindered people getting out at all.

Nicky’s troublesome calf seems to be giving cause for very tentative optimism and our entries into the 2 Oceans Marathon have finally been confirmed. Little by little……..

Hoping for two long outings over the weekend, watch this space……

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam

This blogging thing.

jogger readingI get such incredible pleasure from writing, I have said it before…….. if just one person were to read any of my scribblings and gain even the tiniest bit of joy from them, then I would be a proud man.

 

statisticsWell, despite me claiming not to be egotistical, the blog host, WordPress, readily throws statistics and ‘performance’ analysis at me. Inevitably, I do get a bit of self-congratulatory pleasure from a ‘like’ or ‘share’. So, a massive THANK YOU to all of you who take the time to have a peruse of, and engage with, the blog.

likeI’ve noticed this week that quite a few viewers are from the United States of America. Well hello there on the other side of the Atlantic, I humbly thank you for spending your precious leisure time reading my words.

The running scene in America is every bit as fascinating as in the UK. Listening to the  Talk Ultra podcast with Ian Corless and Karl Mezler is fascinating, the tales of those iconic US 100 milers and Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempts. This makes it all the more fun for us ultra fans when the quick US runners come to the big European ultras. The likes of Hayden Hawks, Jim Walmsley and Tim Toffleson lighting up the races in Europe’s mountains.

By the way, a podcast giving a UK slant on the ultra running scene is the British Ultra Running Podcast with James Elson (of Centurion Running fame) and top British ultra runner, Dan Lawson.

 

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Barkley Marathons – fast, flat and well marked… apparently

During the last episode, James revealed that he has a place in this years Barkley Marathons. He was able to reveal that much, but is sworn to secrecy as to the date, as this notoriously gruesome and secretive event had actual spectators turn up last year (which is frowned upon!). The race consists of 5 20 mile loops (which are always plenty more than 20 miles) has a history full of mystery and very few actual finishers. I implore anyone curious as to what this is all about to check out the extraordinary film The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.

 

ANYWAY.

2018-01-26 12.33.54Since the last blog, I’ve managed to miss a few planned runs. As readers from the real world will know, sometimes life is just TOO DARNED TIRING! Although I’ve still been getting a sweat on at work…..

 

 

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Very spring like weather up on the moors this morning…..

And today, as ever my beautiful wife inspired me to get out there as we did a proper hilly Dartmoor road run. “Road?” I hear you squeal……. Well, I guess it’s becoming less of a secret that on Easter Saturday we’re going to be having a crack at the Two Oceans Marathon. Gulp. Hopefully avoiding the gun!

 

So, today, starting in wet darkness and finishing in even wetter daylight, we pretty much did half the distance and half the climbing of Two Oceans. Apparently it won’t be hard driving freezing rain and wind on race day, blimey it was bleak up there today. A quick drive up to Princetown afterwards for our, now traditional, fry up at the Fox Tor Café.

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Ebenezer (good)

Ebenezer (good)

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Mevagissey, in the heart of R.A.T. territory. An easy drive down, captain chatty – our Martin – for company. Nicky (for the uninitiated, Nicky is my wonderful, amazing lady wife) leading the charge to the portaloos as we ordered and devoured our pre-match coffees.

 

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Taking it all VERY seriously

The Scrooge, a firm fixture on the local running calendar, popular as ever (well over 400 finishers) – 7.5ish miles of mud, water, hills and enough fun and hilarity to last the week.

 

 

 

 

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Jamie – local running legend – loitering….

Another blog regular, Jamie, was loitering with intent at the start and was encouraged into some well fitting festive wear.

 

“Oh look, a Santa….” “Oh look, a snowman….” etc etc. But elves were, for sure, held a majority today. Plenty of “I’ve been on an elf and safety course….”, “did you have an elfy breakfast?” etc etc

A boisterously chanted “10, 9, 8….” “MERRY CHRISTMAS” and we were off.

On the steady climb up the back lanes to The Lost Gardens Of Heligan, Jamie ably bouncing off to trouble the scorers nearer the front, leaving the three of us warming up nicely…..

Into the ponds. Shut the back door! That first one was cold. Oh, and yes, DEEP (especially for Nicky!)

Then (oh and forgive my reassuringly non-chronological powers of recall) it was up a hill, through some mud, along a stream, up a hill, through some mud, jumping off a pontoon into some water…..

Oh, and then UP UP UP DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN UP UP UP DOWN DOWN DOWN…..

Then some really quite sensible, undulating trails, then through the entrance area to the gardens themselves (to the delight of the bemused visitors!).

Then back to the ponds. Still deep. Still freezing.

The last mile is a charge to the finish.

 

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What mid life crisis??

 

And at the finish, the rather splendid boys and girls had laid on mince pies and cider.

 

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YUM YUM

Oh, and some fine catering, a disco/barn dance and relentless laughter.

 

Oh, and the results and FREE photographs were pretty much ours by the time we drove home. For the record we smashed last year’s time and over half the field were still out there having a hoot by the time we finished….

What’s not to like????

NOTHING! Roll on next year.