Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Pilgrims Way Challenge

The Pilgrims Challenges is a 2 day ultra across the North Downs Way, UK. Day one is 33 miles from Farnham to Redhill, day 2 is a return leg totalling 66 miles. I had been doing some long runs in the Falklands and wanted to test myself over an ultra challenge.

I prepared my race pack with enough food and water to last me for the entire race, with Emma providing me with one top up at one of the checkpoints. Unlike some of the others I didn't want to stop at any of the 4 checkpoints. Even though the entire route is marked my the North Down way sign posts, there was a few places where mistakes could be made. Thankfully I had prepared by downloading the gpx file to my Suunto Sport. This meant I could check the map at key points and had the confidence knowing that I was on track. This was re-assuring on day 2 when I ran out front by myself. After the first 8 miles on day one, I found myself running with one other who was training for Marathon Des Sables (as was a few other competitors). We decided we had enough of a lead to take a bit off the pace and save our legs for day 2. This helped in the leg burning sections such as the steps up to Box Hill. We took this at a walk (which may have been quicker) in order to save our energy. The amount of mud was more than expected and there was sections I was slipping everywhere. However, my Inov8 Roclite 305s  were excellent at dealing with this. We finished day 1 together in joint 1st with a 15 min lead over 3rd place. It would be a matter of who could recover the best.

My legs were pretty heavy that evening so I had a massage and went for a walk and did some stretching. The next morning my legs were very stiff and sore. I didn't know if I could run the race, let alone be competitive. However, after a mobility warm up and different pair of shoes I felt some what ready to run. We all started out slower than the day before and I could tell others were also in for a long day. I pulled away about 5 miles in without too much effort. The rest of the day was more about survival rather than racing. I targeted slower runners and walkers who where set of 1 and 2 hours before us. Getting to 20 miles was tough, but knowing I had an off-road half marathon still to go was tough mentally. Being out in front helped me motivation, as did seeing Emma at the checkpoints.  I crossed the line in first place with a comfortable lead over the 2 days. I great race, but I won't be doing any more 2 day races or ultras for a long time.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Falkland Islands - 6 Months of Training

What does the Falkland Island offer for runners?

After spending 6 months an island only 700 miles from Antarctica, I have more appreciation for the UK weather and multitude of country lanes, public footpaths and bridleways to run on. Out in the Falklands I was constantly battling the high winds and boredom of running through a mainly baron terrain day after day. The lack of any trees, hedgerows and buildings means that the only place to hide from the wind is the treadmill in the gym.

I found about 5 decent routes along the gravel roads to run on. There are mountains, but most of the land is private farmland or is so rutted and rocky that walking alone is difficult. The conditions did help with my resilience and there was the odd day where the wind dropped and the sun shone as temperatures reached 20 degrees. However, later that same day the wind can change and bring snow!

The positives are that I had plenty of time to run, swim and train in the gym. I put in some good mileage, but missed some quality. There is very little traffic and times where I was completely alone running on the bottom of the world. Occasionally across the white sand beaches, devoid of any litter and guaranteed to see penguins, dolphins and other wildlife.

The local running club organised a half marathon, which was a point to point race starting outside Stanley, the capital and finishing at surf bay. It was gravel track and hilly. I came first in around 1hr 13min. I missed out on the March Marathon, with a prize of £1000 and attracting runners from South America.

Another challenge I set myself to keep the motivation going was running from Mount Pleasant Camp to Stanley. I completed this 33 mile run on xmas eve as the conditions were perfect and I wanted to build up my appetite for xmas dinner. This took about 3hrs 50min.

I managed to improve my general fitness and endurance, but it terms of overseas training camps I would pick many other places!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

2017 so far...

Cross country season fully underway now and I compete at the South of England XC Champs as part of the Bedford AC team. Tough 9 mile, hilly course, I went off controlled and managed to maintain a good pace and finish in 23rd pos and 2nd placed team.

Next couple of races were for the RAF. The RAF XC champs at the traditional RAF Halton course went well and I managed to get first place and win the historic trophy that goes back to 1920. 

It was then a long drive down to HMS Raleigh for the inter-service XC championships. I sunny day and muddy course gave good condition. The Navy runners went off fast, but soon faded and it was myself and Kallenberg. I eventually pulled away and crossed the line in first. That evening we had an end of season meal at Plymouth Aquarium.

With XC season at an end it was back to the roads with the Fleet Half Marathon, RAF champs and Inter-service championships. I hadn't ran this distance for a while, so went off a bit conserved, also there was a strong wind. I found myself in 5th place and the top 3 had pulled away in the first few miles. However, I was running strong and caught 3rd place by 8 miles and 2nd place by 10 miles. I finished in a pb of 69.05, but a fair bit off Kallenberg who won in 67.20. 

Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 Round up and into 2017


Standalone 10km
, first in 31.44 (+£100)

Fenland 10, first and pb of 52.35. Flat course around a foggy Fenland course. I entered on the day as I knew I was in pb shape and that the course would be quick without the usually Fenland winds. I was running well and at 2miles. I was running alone with only the lead car for company. The clock on the car meant I was literally racing the clock. I managed to stay strong and finish in a pb.

RAF v Eastern Counties and Cambridge Uni XC - 6th (had been ill)

Aircom XC champs Poland. The RAF team headed out with a strong field of runner to Malborg, Poland for the biannual XC fixture against Poland, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and USA. The 10km course consisted of 5 fast laps around the castle, mainly in the moat, with one very low archway. This made it good for spectators and also to check position. Poland had a strong team, with two Olympians, one of who finished top European at the 2012 Olympics. I ran well and finished in 7th, behind Kallenburg and the majority of the polish team. The men's team finished in 2nd overall.


National Relay champs, Mansfield. I made the A team of 4 runners to compete over a 5km XC course against the other top clubs in the country. I ran a competitive last leg. I started out fast, a bit too fast, but I wanted to stay on the heels of second place. I managed this for the first lap, but slowly lost places as the fast pace sapped the speed from my legs. I finished a respectable 6th, but was outside of the medals.

Uk cross challenge and Chiltern league, Milton Keynes, 32nd.

Cyprus 4 day international challenge. the RAF athletics tour this year was to Phapho, Cyprus. The team stayed together and competed for the overall win over the 4 consecutive days of racing. Day one consisted of a 6km time trial along the coast. Mike kallenburg finished in pole position with me 8 sec back. Day 2, was a point to point hill run over 11km. Mike and I broke away early on as we found our way up the steep uneven terrain. The scenary was amazing, but the hill was lung bursting. A gap formed around 8km and Mike finished at the hill top village 45sec ahead of me. Going into day 3, we was firmly in 1st and 2nd overall. The team was also in the pole position. Today was a long multi terrain half marathon, finishing on the beach. I ran conservative with the guy in 3rd and let mike go onto beating me by 2min in around 1hr 15min. Day 4. Mike had secured the yellow Jersey,but I was looking for the win in the Phaphos 10km. Neither new how our legs would respond after 3 days of racing. I did know mike had gone pretty hard on the half marathon. My legs stayed strong and I broke away around 5km to finish in 32.15. 2nd overall and first team. The following evening was a gala dinner, where we received our prizes. Free holiday for one for the winner and a GPS garmin watch for me.

Chiltern league, Luton 3rd. Behind Ian Kimpton (England team for marathon)

2016 pbs
10mile = 52.35
5mile = 26.02
3000m = 8.30
1mile = 4.21
1500 = 4.03

2017 races and targets

31 Dec, 2016 : Just won a local 10km race in Anderstorp. Won a BBQ and a pastry

Currently sat around the fire in a log cabin in Sweden, planning ahead to 2017.

HM (67min): Brighton (Feb) and Bath (Mar)
10km (30.30): Brighton (Apr)
5km (sub 15min)
Marathon (Sub 2.30): Edinburgh (May), potentially London (Apr)
50km (sub 3.05)

Sunday, 11 September 2016

English Champs and Manchester International 3000m

This year at the Inter-service championships at RAF Cosford, I decided to fill a free spot in the 1500m. I had done a bit of speed work and wanted a to get rid of my pb of 4.17, set back in 2001! I managed a 4th place finish and a big pb of 4.03.

31 July 16, I competed for the UK Armed Forces at the English Championships and CAU Inter-services at Bedford. I was entered into the the prestigious mile event and was hoping to have the advantage of competing at my home club's track. However this was a drop in distance for me and I was up against a quality field. I finished in a pb of 4.22.4.

Off the back of my previous 2 races I was selected to compete in the 3000m at the inaugural Manchester International at Sportcity. I would be up against top runners from England, Wales, N.Ireland, Scotland, British league and GB under 20. Live coverage was also available via Vinco, so friends and family could be there.

I stayed with the pack for the first 1km, but was starting to fall of the pace. However, the pack then re-grouped and I got back onto the back. I stayed with them until the last 600m, when moves at the front split the pack again. I finished within 100m of the winner and have beaten my previous pb by 20sec to get 8.30.6.

I was really pleased with this as it was the last race of the season and will help with the winter training. This winter I look to do some XC and indoor races.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Update on last few months

On 20 May I went to get a fast 5 mile time at Blisworth 5  as part of the East Midlands League. It was a hillier race than I expected and a lot faster due to Toby Spencer (recent Bristol 10km winner). I managed a pb of 26.02min on an undulating course, but I am hoping to break 25min for the 5 mile this year. I finished 2nd and got a voucher which I have now spent on some XC running shoes.

Next race was the London Vitality 10km on 30 May, inc the British Championships. This was a RAF fixture, so I ran in my RAF vest, however I was put down as running for Bedford and County. Great race passing all the likes of Big Ben and running along the Strand. Touch competition with an ex European 10,000m medalist and current Scottish 5000m record holder in the field. I finished 21st in 31.40. A little down on the time I hoped for, but I was happy with the position. After seeing the results, I realised that 2 other Bedford runners had ran fast and finished high and after some calculation it was clear that we had finished 2nd overall and due £1000 in prize money to split between us. However, I was later to find that I was to be disqualified from the team result as I ran in my RAF colours and not the Bedford vest. A little disappointed as it would have also meant a silver team medal at the British 10km Championships. Will have to seek this next year.

Later that week I did my first race for Bedford in the 5km in a British League event at Bedford. I didn't have a good run and finished in 15.27 and 6th. Only 1sec off my pb, but a long way off my sub 15min aim and current form I felt I was in.

Emma and I then had a weeks holiday where we had planned to cycle about 200miles self supported alongside the Danube River. We began our trip in Passau, Germany and went through Austria (Linz, Vienna) and ended our trip in Bratislava, Slovenia.

Back to work, training and Emma's sister's wedding before heading off again for the next race. This time it was in Val d'Isere and was part of the Sky Running World Series. The race I entered was a vertical kilometer straight up mount Belvadere and back down on the ski gondolas. The race was very competitive with runners from multiple countries aiming to win the first prize of 2000 Euros and a BMW 2 Series being leased to them for 1 year. The race began at 1900 meters and at 1700. Runners were set off individually at 30sec intervals, with the more established runners going last. It was lung bursting from the gun and a running pace wasn't possible on a lot of the sections with a 50% gradient. Hands on the ground for a lot of the time, made running and balance difficulty. I finished at 2900 meters in 44min, which was only good enough for 24th place. No BMW for me. Those used to these events could be spotted from a distance as they had a good running rhythm with the use of hiking poles to propel them up the scree. I'm glad I gave it a go, but a few more mountains to practice on was needed.

4 Days back from this I was due to race a 1500 meters for the RAF in the Inter Services Track and Field Championships at RAF Cosford on 13 Jul. I had been training well over some short intervals but had not done a 1500m since 2003 and had a pb of 4.17min. I have been used to 12 laps of the track so the race was a quick blur of just under 4 laps. I held on for 3 laps and tried to come past an Army runner for 3rd place, but he just beat me on the line. No medal but a massive pb of 4.03.88min to take away and give me a knew target of breaking 4min for the 1500m

Next up is the Olympic Park 10km on 17 Jul.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

2016 so far...

2016 so far....

Decided to try and keep this blog updated so people can check in and see what I've been up. Mainly in terms of running.

Goals this year is to:
  • Break 15min for the 5km.
  • Get England Qualifying times:
Event Men Women
3k 8:30 9:40
5k 14:40 16:40
10k 30:30 34:30
10 miles 50:15 56:50
Half Marathon 1:07:00 1:16:00
Marathon 2:22:00 2:39:00

 I had some good winter training under my belt, which was good as I was away in Germany learning how to ski in the week prior to the inter-services. Luckly I returned with no injuries.

The season started off well with a 2nd place finish at the Inter-Services Cross-country championships at RAF Halton. The RAF won the team prize and had the second best team result in history of the event against the Army and Navy.

 I done a few park runs in Bedford and Cambridge, but my next big race was at the Chichester 10km. I was in good shape on a course where I had previously achieved a PB.The pace was good and I felt strong and went off fast as I knew the last 2km was pretty much all downhill. However, I began to die off the pace and the downhill section was into a strong headwind. I finished in 31.55 for 17th Place.
My first spectator role this year was at the Eton Dorney Sprint Duathlon, where Emma was doing a 2.5km run, 10km cycle, 2.5km run. She did this race in Jan and had since done some training and learnt how to use cleats on the bike ready for this one in Feb. She had a good run, cycle and transitions to finish 1st Lady. The combined run time was 24min for 5km. This is all practice for the London Duathlon in September.

We travelled up to Manchester for the weekend and some walking in the Peak District. But not before I done the Trafford 10km as a representative for the UK Armed Service Team. This is one of the fastest and competitive races in the country, and was well worth the trip as I knew I had trained well. Condition were perfect and  I was under 5min per mile all the way around. I finished in 30.52 for 52nd position. The top 28 runners went under 30min. The greatest depth of British runners in a race for a long time.

I did a few local races just to have some tough training runs:

  • Berkenhampstead Half Marathon - 4th
  • Welwyn Garden City 10km - 2nd
  • Cambourne 10km - 1st

I have recently joined Bedford and County AC, and now have a good group to train with on the track 1 or 2 nights a week. Its handy as I can drive their on the way home from work and it isn't too far out of my way. They have some great middle distance runners (including GB U23 athetes), which will help me improve

Lastly, I have been for a week in Majorca for a Triathlon training camp. Lots of cycling around the hilly island, which is packed with lycra and like minded cyclists. At this time of the year there are more bikes than cars on the road. I did a bit or running and swimming and picked up a cold. The Sport Hotel was great as was the buffet food in the mornings and evenings as we were burning a lot of calories.

Thats all for now. I will try and make more regular posting on here as I don't like putting lots on social media.

Friday, 25 July 2014

First outing for my new RAF Running kit at the Worcester Half Marathon. May 2014

Saturday, 16 April 2011

90 Mile River Wye Canoe

Sunday 10th April.

Began at Glasbury in Wales, where me and Lee loaded up our boat with food, BBQ, clothes and camping equipment. Didn't start until 2.30, and had a clear blue sky. River was low, which meant the rapids where not fast flowing, which meant hopfully we would not capsize with all our stuff. Paddling was slow going and could only manage about 4 miles every hour. We stopped at around 18 miles to set up our camp and BBQ. At this point we were not sure we would make our 90 mile target to Bigsweir.

Monday 11th April.

On the river by 7.30 to put in a long day of canoeing. This meant sore hands, backs and bums as we continued on to Hereford. Long break at Hereford to restock on food for the rest of the trip. This was about the 40 mile mark in total. Was a cloudy and cold day, but had put in a lot of hours. Stopped for a coffee at 7.30 and still unsure if we would make it. Had to be at the finish by 4pm the following day for pick up and return to the start. We decided to put in another hour rather than stopping. That night we paddled until after 9pm and used head torch to canoe by and set up a camp. Was nearly 11pm by the time we stopped, but this set us up well for the next day.

Tuesday 12th April.

On the river just after 6am this morning. Was still cold and misty, but soon warmed up with paddling and another sunny day. After the first 10 miles we knew we could make the finish in time. We went through Symmonds Yat and lots of nice scenery. Eventually making Bigsweir about 2.30pm. So really it only took us 2 days to do 90 miles, which we were told was very quick.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Endurance Life Half Marathon

16th October. Bright sunshine for my first endurance life half marathon as part of the coastal trail series. Set off about 10.30am with my hip pack, consisting of food, water, hat, coat, mobile, plasters, whistle and emergency foil wrap.
first 1.5 miles went across the pebbles and shingle of Charmouth beach, which could easily drain your energy if you went too fast. then we hit the hills of the jurassic coast and i moved though from 5th to 1st now that i found my stride. hard to find a rythme though as it was a lot of up and down and offroad, but nice views and after 3 miles i had a lead which i held to the end of the race. At each checkpoint we had a tag on our wrist that was dipped into a machine at checkpoints. due to the fresh weather and short distance i wasn't slowed by having to stop for food and drink. was over 2min clear at the finish, but the difficulty of the course had punished my legs, but was pleased with my 1hour 38min time considering the course.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Powderham 10km multi terrain and Ron Hill

First race since I completed the 1000 mile cycle ride. Had a couple of solid weeks training, with some good mileage,but nothing as quick as my 10km race pace.so the 10km race around powderham was tough. however was hot, sunny and a nice course ahead, along with marathon legend Ron Hill running it (now 71 years old). He is a former marathon world record holder and european and commonwealth champion.
I ran well, but was hard as i was shadowed by pete for the whole race and both spent time in the lead. I thought i had broke him on a few hills, but he came back at me. i almost conceeded to 2nd place, but found something on the last hill and pulled away in the final 1km to cross the line about 14 seconds ahead of him. I was pleased with the result, but am a bit rusty at the shorter fast distances at the mo. At the presentation i met Ron and recieved a £50 running shop voucher.

Friday, 20 August 2010

John O Groats to Lands End

After a day and a half travelling up in the back of a car with our
bikes we finally made it to lands end and left on the 2nd of
August 2010 about 4pm.Before we left we exchanged our 'Top Gear' gifts to carry for the journey. Lee's pink hat made it the whole jouney even though it was made from cardboard. He did get plenty of abuse and comments along the way.

Day 1: Once our bikes were assembled and our panniers and tent strapped on we cycled about 25 miles before our first 'wild camp' alongside a stream along the North Coastal road of Scotland. Lee armed with his lump of cheese for the trip and me without much food as i cant ration.

Day 2: We cycled 67 miles along the coast and then down into the centre of Scotland. Very nice scenery and didnt see another building for about 4 hours (but some sheep almost knocked Lee off his bike!). Wild camp again but got eaten alive by swarms if midgys. had to stay in our tent and i didnt even get dark till 10pm so not much to do. luckily we were pretty tired.

Day 3: Hilly 72 mile cycle to Drumnadrochit (hard for lee as he had been feeling ill for last 3 days!). We were now a couple of miles away from Loch Ness and stayed in our first camp site.

Day 4: A shorter 54 mile day to Fort William where we camped under the shadow of Ben Nevis, which we planned to climb in the morning. Spent our spare time eating and stocking up on Tesco food for the next day.

Day 5: Climb up to Ben Nevis started ok, but was misty and raining towards the top so no view. Took us about 5 hours round trip and was back on our bikes by late afternoon to ride a cold and wet 21 miles to glen coe for another wild camp.

Day 6: This was one of our best days. Had rained each day so far but today was looking a lot brighter and we rode through the valley of Glen Coe and down towards Loch Lomond. There was loads of downhill riding and we covered a lot of ground quickly.This gave us time to stop for a swim in loch lomond and to visit aScottish Summer fair in a little village which included caber tossing, bag pipes and traditional dancing. We finished the day off by getting around Glasgow and camping behind a bank and trees at the side of a quiet road about 15 miles south! (87 miles in total.

Day 7: Another day - same cycling shorts! And same routine: Wake up, get dressed, take down tent, get on bike!
We were feeling stronger on the bikes now as our body had adapted to all the riding and all the camping. Total we put in a big 104 miles which seriously dented scotland and put us about 10 miles from Gretna Green and the English boarder. We camped near a beach overlooking england.

Day 8: Today we left Scotland and headed to the Lake district to tackle Scarfell Pike. We made it to Keswick in 55 miles. however we were tired and it was 3pm and the start of the climb was still a 9 mile ride away so we decided to take the afternoon off rather than rush it and had a BBQ instead, overlooking the lake and mountains.

Day 9: Got up nice and early (6.30) to ride to scarfell pike and climb it. again no visibility on the 4 hour round trip which was really windy and bitterly cold. we were both freezing by the time we returned to our campsite and got on the bike again. Had a better afternoon though as we warmed up and covered 52 miles to Kirby Londsdale (plus the extra 18 miles to the mountain and back.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Lands End to John O'Groats continued

Day 10: This day was probably one of our worst days. It had been raining all night so tent was soaked and we got wet as we packed up. Roads had huge puddles and it was again really cold as traffic passed us. this lasted about 2 hours and included a traffic diversion due to a jack-knifed lorry. also my cycle computer had given up due to the bad weather, so didnt even know how far we had gone. but today we still managed 102 miles with the help of warm coffee and £3 curries from morrisons! we ended up just south of warrington,so past manchester and liverpool area. Yet another B&B for the night (behind a bush!)

Day 11: Putting in a lot of miles now that the mountains are behind us. spending about 8-9 hours on the bike, but stopping for breaks about every 2 hours. done 92 miles today and got just past Hereford. Nearly in the South West Now
Day 12: Entered Wales today and first stop was Monmouth were i had to replace my old tyre due to the wear from the last few hundred miles. Lee also got his 2nd puncture of the trip. After that job we snaked down the Wye Valley to Chepstow where we crossed the river Seven on the old bridge. It then took us about an hour to skirt around Bristol and the industrial area of Avonmouth. Eventually we did and made it just below Bridgewater for the night that we spent in a field again after 86 miles.

Day 13: From Bridgewater we entered Devon and went across some hilly roads through Okehampton and found a local pub to eat just past Launceston where a local farmer said we could camp in his field (we probably would have anyway!). 100 miles done today which set us up nicely for the final push.

Day 14(15th August): The hilliest day so far as we went across Bodmin moor and down to Redruth. Was also the hottest and sunniest day so far (was scotland before today). The final few miles were very hilly but we eventually rode in to lands end about 4pm, which is the same time we left John O' Groats, so we made it in 13 days. Riden over 1000 miles, two highest peaks climbed and spent over 100 hours on the bike and no punctures for me! To celebrate we had a BBQ and camped on the golden sand and clear water beach of Porthcurnom, with a clear night and fireworks provided by the Minack theatre!.