stories about my running adventures

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After my unsuccessful attempt at the Grand Union Canal Race at the end of May, I decided that I would try again…

Being the impatient person that I am, luckily for me there was another option meaning I wouldn’t have to wait a whole year.

The Kennet & Avon Canal Race, organised by the same people in the same format, was being run for the first time this year on 28 July 2017.  A little soon, perhaps, for another go at such a huge distance but worth a try, surely.

So, I purchased my one way train ticket to Bristol hoping to cover the 145 miles back to Paddington on foot.

The race started on a Friday at 6 am, so I journeyed down on the Thursday afternoon to register and stay overnight.  Whilst sitting on the train waiting to leave Paddington, I spotted some luggage tags on bags looking very like those I had!! Yes, other mad entrants. Upon leaving the train, I introduced myself and it turned out that 2 of them, Fiona and John, were staying at the same hotel as me.  I had met Fiona briefly before on another crazy event so, when she was told at the hotel reception that she had booked the wrong night and there were no more rooms available, I offered her the sofa bed in my room which she gladly accepted.

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Fiona looking every so slightly mad…

After getting food surplies and going to registration it was off to the pub with some other runners for an early supper – then an early night with the alarm set for 4 am. The race start was under the clock tower at Bristol Temple Meads station, and after a short walk from the hotel and dropping my bags in it wasn’t long until Dick made a short speech and we were on our way.

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Just 20 minutes to go…

With only 76 starters I knew that I would be on my own for a lot of the race but I didn’t have a problem with that and set off at a nice steady pace.

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It was 13 miles to the first checkpoint just before Bath which passed fairly quickly, the weather was cool and it was pretty along the route – all was good.

Leaving CP1, it was 14 miles to CP2 which was an absolutely lovely stretch of running. Heading through Bath, and then on through Bradford on Avon, crossing 2 aqueducts. The sun was shining, although not too warm and I was listening to Eddie Izzard’s life story on my ipod.

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After my downfall on GUCR, i decided to take this one a little steadier.  I reached CP2 at 11.20am which was just 10 mins ahead of my plan but still 1hr and 25 mins ahead of the CP closing.  I had a drink and took some fruit out of my drop bag and cracked on.

It was now over 17 miles to the next CP but I knew we were going to pass Caen Hill Locks and I was looking forward to that.  A couple of other runners, Roz and Kate, caught me and for a good while we were passing each other, breaking up the running with a walk.  By the time we reached the locks at mile 35 the 3 of us pretty much marched up the hill together. Thanks for the company girls.

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Caen Hill Locks..

After that it was a bit of a slog for about 8 miles to reach the CP. but worth it, as there was hot food – soup and potatoes – and I had a sit down to change my socks.  I was determined to look after my feet this time and had spent a lot of time researching blisters and how to try and prevent them.  For me, this meant engo patches in my shoes, taping of all the problem areas with kinetic tape, blister powder and twin skin socks.  And for good measure, I laced my shoes with the ‘heel lock’. It appeared to be working well as my feet felt good, but after only 45 miles my feet, ankles and legs were all aching and tired.  I hoped that the food would give me a lift and set off for CP4 at 60 miles.

I decided that some music may lift my spirits but that just got on my nerves after about half an hour.  I know that there are highs and lows but I couldn’t seem to get the negative thoughts out of my head, and then it started to rain.  On with the rain jacket, but then I was too hot… it’s a good job I was on my own with only myself to moan to!

With about 4 miles to go until the checkpoint Kate came past and urged me to run so that we would reach it by 8pm.  Try as I might I just couldn’t keep even an ultra shuffle going and I watched her disappear into the distance.  Finally, after what felt like an absolute age, I reached the CP at 7.45pm – 45 minutes behind my schedule.  I decided my feet were still good and didn’t need attention, so just had a sit down with a coffee.  Roz arrived not too long after me, she mentioned her hips were painful and thought that she would probably walk most of the way now.  I didn’t know if I could face walking for over 80 miles but there was time if that’s what was needed.

Knowing it would be dark before the next CP at 72.5 miles, I got my head torch out of my drop bag and set off.  It started raining again and as darkness fell there wasn’t a lot to see and everything from the waist down was beginning to ache.  No highs were forthcoming…

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Can you spot the heron?

The maps weren’t really needed on this stretch until coming into Newbury – the first sign of life I’d seen for a good while.  After going through the town, I convinced myself that I had gone the wrong way, although I was on the correct side of the water.  After not coming across the CP, I was doubly convinced that I’d gone the wrong way and turned round to head back to town to see if there was an alternative that I had missed.  I met another runner who was sure we were right so I turned and followed him and loe and behold, just around the corner from where I had turned around, there was the CP.

Already feeling low, this finished me off and so with 74 miles on my watch I decided I’d had enough, my head nor heart were in it and so I told the CP staff I was calling it a day.  I called Geoff to let him know, and so he could come and scoop me up, and then sat down to wait.  Whilst waiting, Fiona came into the CP with none other than the marvellous Mimi Anderson – even the prospect of reversing my decision and going on with them couldn’t motivate me!

Sadly, Fiona didn’t manage to get very much further due to a foot problem, neither did Kate who was at the CP feeling very unwell nor Roz – who also called it a day a bit further along.

In fact, of the 76 starters, there were only 37 finishers.

As I hadn’t reached the CP until 12.30 and they were due to close at 1.15am, Pat ‘Paddy’ Robbins was kind enough to give me a lift to the next CP at Reading, as that didn’t close until 7.30am, and I could wait for Geoff in relative comfort.

And so ended my second attempt at a canal run.  I can’t make excuses, I wasn’t ill or injured but I was extremely fatigued.  Whether that is due to running 100 miles less than 2 months previously and then 100k 2 weeks after that, or just the fact that I am expecting too much of my ‘old’ body.  Whichever it is, I will recover and earn one of those Canal medals….

In the meantime, I have the lovely SVP 100km to run this weekend (Saturday 12 August) and un-finished business at the Centurion A100 in October.

 

 

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All smiles last year before it all went wrong...

All smiles last year before it all went wrong…..

With my 2nd attempt at the Centurion Autumn 100 only 5 days away I thought I would ramble a little about some lessons learned this year.

Since my last post after the SVP100km, I have re-focused a little more on my running.

After two failed attempts at long distances this year (the GUCR and the KACR) and an un-appreciated attempt at supporting a friend on her first 100km race, I feel that I have much more experience to apply to my running and am going into this event much better prepared.

For some mad reason, I decided to sign up to #runeveryday in October even though I knew I had 4 marathons and a 100 mile race booked. The month started with the Stour Valley Special on 1 October – I had missed the summer version and didn’t have my 4th year medal – so I was grateful to Kevin for putting on the extra event so I could remedy that.  It was a very small field, and so it felt like I was running on my own, but I absolutely loved it and managed my best time of the 4 SVM’s I have done.

 

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So, the month started well. After a week of short runs it was off to Barrow for one of their Autumn Marathons. The Clover course is one of my favourites, however it was being run the opposite way to usual so that could be interesting.  Again I was running on my own, and with no agenda I just enjoyed the beautiful Suffolk Scenery and it felt like running an entirely different race.  Everything felt good and I came home in the quickest time of any of my Barrow Marathons (and I have done 27 of them) and, in fact, the 2nd quickest marathon I have ever run.

 

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Barrow No. 27

 

So, we are into the 3rd week of my #runeveryday challenge and so far it has been a very good and positive thing.  It seems to suit me, running every day but for less distance.

So, focusing on the 100 miler. The biggest thing I need to get right is my feet.  My failure at the GUCR was definitely due to my lack of feet preparation and maintenance.  Prior to this race I had only ever run 100km and my feet had always been ok, if a little sore, but nothing I couldn’t put up with for 14 odd hours.  Even after 18 hrs up and down around Snowdonia on all kinds of mixed terrain, they were not that bad.

So, I didn’t pay the necessary attention to preparing my feet and not dealing with hot spots when they started and then ignoring the blisters when they started. This resulted in an extreme amount of pain and my dropping from the race after 100 miles.

I did better at the KACR, and although my feet were sore after 74 miles this wasn’t the reason for dropping. I had a low point just before reaching a checkpoint and instead of working through it, I just ‘gave up’.

But on both of these occasions, the decision to drop was mine and mine alone and this is how it should be. Trying to run somebody else’s race just doesn’t work.  Sure, it’s great to have some company and support but, on the reverse, it can be difficult to maintain a pace that you’re not comfortable with – be it slower or faster.  So, although I will be happy to continue to support friends running, I will not sacrifice my race for somebody else.

I’ve also learned that you get much better results when you’re not half a stone heavier than you’re comfortable with. A little too much alcohol and sweet treats meant that I was a little ‘soft’ around the middle and carrying those extra pounds really makes a difference.  So, since early September, I have abstained from the ‘sauce’ and eaten a lot more fruit and I really believe that this has helped with my improved performance.

So, all in all, I am in a good place with my running and feel positive going into this event. Having started last year, I’m familiar with it and I think that could help.  It’s an easy event in that there are 4 ‘legs’ all starting and finishing at a central hub where you have access to a drop bag.  Also, I will have company from 2 good friends, for the last 50 miles, 50 to 75 because this will be during the night and Geoff worries about me and the last 25 so that I can’t get away with just ‘giving up’!!!

So, I’ll stop waffling now and sincerely hope the next post I write will include a picture of my finisher’s buckle.

In the word’s of Karl ‘Speedgoat’  Meltzer ‘’100 miles, it’s really not that far’’

Bring it on…………………..I know I can do it!!

 

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SVP 100km – 2017

I ran this event in 2015 and vowed to return.

In 2016 I volunteered, sweeping the second half of the course, and earned myself a free place.  Also, a very good friend of mine, Sam Cooper, was running this as her very first 100km so I decided that I would support her.

As regular readers of my blog will know I have been running a lot of long events recently, so I was going into this pretty tired but confident that I could make the distance so I had no agenda other than to cross the finish line with Sam.  In fact, if it hadn’t been for her I would probably have had a lie in!

The event starts in Newmarket, about 45 minutes from home, so it is not too much of an early start.  I sorted everything the night before – which is very rare for me – and got an early night setting the alarm for 4.45am.

When the alarm went off, I had a moment before it dawned that I had to run 63 miles that day and I did sort of feel that I would rather have rolled over and gone back to sleep but – as they say – no rest for the wicked.

Geoff had offered to take some pictures of the runners as well as supporting me so I knew I have a lift home and didn’t have to worry about logistics, like you have to sometimes on a point to point.

Arriving at the memorial hall in Newmarket, I met with 9 other Sudbury Joggers towing the line as well as plenty of other runners that I know so lots of friendly faces.  I did smart a little at one comment of – are you going to finish this time?.  OK, yes I didn’t finish the GUCR or the KACR and yes I probably have been over doing the long events….but I know I have learned valuable lessons.

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Getting ready for the off

So at about 6.50am we left the hall to walk up to the start line.  After a short briefing, we were on our way.  The first mile or so is a bit tedious along the main road but once you turn off onto the Devils Dyke, the terrain becomes more like what you are going to encounter for most of the day.  I felt that we were taking it very steady and once you are on the dyke you are pretty much single file anyway.

The plan was to just focus on each checkpoint and there were 12 miles to the first one in Great Thurlow.  The majority of the route was trail, there were a few puddles around but it was all pretty easy going underfoot.  I was thinking that I didn’t remember there being so many ‘inclines’ but perhaps that was just the tiredness in my legs.  Also, worryingly my feet was still a bit sore from the KACR, but it was only 63 miles and I had painkillers.

We reached CP1 in 2hrs 18mins, I thought at a reasonably steady pace but Sam would have liked to be a little more steady I feel.  However, I knew that we would slow a lot later, so wanted to get some time in the bank.  Geoff was at the first CP taking some pictures, and after looking at the table I couldn’t see anything savoury on offer so asked for my bag which I had asked him to bring to each CP.  Unfortunately, as he was focused on the pictures and taking care of the 2 dogs, he had forgotten to bring it.  My initial action was to grump and stomp off….and had to wait until I next saw him to apologise.!

So on to CP2 at Clare Country Park, 11 miles on.  The weather, I thought, was kind however I was just really hot and couldn’t seem to regulate my temperature.  Perhaps its just because I’m a menopausal old lady (sorry guys)…and that could explain the grumpiness…….

I tried to keep the pace steady around the 11/12 min mark which is slow for me, this early on, so I was tending to get ahead a little but I made sure that I was always in sight and regularly walked so that Sam could catch up.  Also, I wanted to try and keep plenty of time in the bank for the later stages.  I was a little worried that Sam didn’t appear to be enjoying herself as much as I thought she might and in hindsight I guess it was because she was running harder than she wanted to.  But I reminded her that there are peaks and troughs, highs and lows and didn’t mention that I felt dead on my very sore feet!

 

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Knowing the CP is just around the corner

We arrived at CP2, 23 miles, in 4hrs 45mins so we were well ahead of cut offs.  The offerings at this CP, and all subsequent CPs, were fantastic so I feasted on mini sausages and water melon – yes, at the same time.  There was great support from fellow joggers so whilst Sam changed her socks and shoes I had a quick chat but did gently encourage her to not get too comfy.

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Carl & Geoff – The Support Team

The next section of 10 miles to the CP at Long Melford are particularly nice, passing through Cavendish and Glemsford.  Geoff was out on course taking some pictures and Sam’s hubby Carl was supporting, all was good but Sam still didn’t seem to be feeling the love.

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Running through Cavendish

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Passing Kentwell Hall

 

Coming into Long Melford, we were told that Carl was going to the shop to get some ice lollies and as we ran down the high street I saw him ahead of me coming out of the shop but he took off like a rocket so we were going to have to wait until we got to the checkpoint for refreshment.  CP3 was being manned by Sudbury Joggers, and as it is on the Cricket Pitch there is always fantastic support there.  The array of fruit on offer was awesome so I had my fill (I love fruit on long runs) but I still managed to find room for the ice lollie.

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Sam even got a massage!!

Leaving the CP we knew that there would be even more support from the Joggers at the Mill Hotel, Sudbury.  It has become a bit of a tradition for club members to meet there on race day, so much so that runners wonder whether it is an official CP.  It’s just about 3 miles to there so broke up the 11 miles to CP4.  A very quick pit stop and a small sip of cider and we were on our way again.

Leaving Sudbury there are a couple of sharp hills and fatigue was setting in.  The pace was slowing and I was beginning to get a bit concerned about the cut offs.  Whenever there was a flat stretch or down hill I encouraged a bit of ultra shuffling but I could tell from her body language that Sam was not feeling great.

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Henny Church….still smiling – just!

A couple of miles outside of Bures we were caught by a guy wearing a SVP yellow crew shirt, and he informed us that he was a sweeper.  Not great news, but we were still within the cutoffs.  I walked with him for a bit chatting, and learnt that he was the ‘early’ sweeper and he was carrying on to Nayland for himself.  The later sweepers hadn’t caught us….yet.

Turning back to Sam, I could tell that this had knocked her confidence and she started to doubt herself.  I had a few words…..

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Coming into Bures

Checking my watch as we came into Bures, CP4, we were still ahead of the cutoff but it didn’t leave a lot of time to dally.  Once again, there was support from fellow joggers which lifted Sam’s spirits and after a bit of a sit down, a couple of salty potatoes (heaven!!!!) we were on our way again with about 10 minutes to spare.

Sam left with a spring in her step and I had to put in a real effort to keep up with her for the next mile, as she lives close to this section I was hoping that it would lift her spirits a bit.  Not long after that we came across the runner in front of us, waiting for a bit of company.  He had decided he had had enough and was just planning on getting to Nayland, so we all carried on together.  We had left the sweepers at the CP at Bures, but the last runner had dropped there so they caught us with a couple of miles to go to CP5. It was becoming increasingly clear that we were not going to make the cut off unless we managed a couple of 12 minute miles, and none of us could see that happening as much as the sweepers were great and encouraging.

It was then just a painful walk to Nayland, arriving at 7.27 pm – 22 minutes after the cutoff and game over but 50 miles covered which is a personal achievement for Sam.

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A welcome sit down

So a dnf for me, but this event wasn’t about me.  I so wanted to support Sam and help her achieve her goal and, in a way, I feel that I let her down.

But, like I have this year, I’m sure that she will learn from this and that 100km medal will soon be hers….

 

 

 

Norfolk 100km

I had entered this event months ago as part of the positive steps ‘grand slam’. I had completed the first of the three events in January this year – The Peddars Way, 48 miles from Knettisham Heath to Holme next the sea, this would be the 2nd followed by a little 50k around the kings forest in November.

The timing wasn’t brilliant, just 2 weeks after my attempt at the Grand Union canal race but with a fairly generous cut off of 16 hrs I thought I would give it a go.

The original plan, when I booked it, was to stay overnight at the finish location – Sheringham – and catch the organised bus to the start – Castle Acre – in the morning. But, the desision in the end was to drive up the morning of the race and then drive home after. So alarm set for 3.30am to leave at 4.30am for the 2 hour drive.

Arriving at the start location around 6.30am it was great to see a fair few familiar faces and with only 30 minutes to the start there was just enough time to get registered, collect my t shirt and have a quick loo stop. Then it was a brief briefing from Kevin, race director, and we were on our way.

I had a loose plan of trying to get half way in about 6 hrs so that I knew I had plenty of time to get finished if I had to slow a lot. My feet had not really healed properly from the GUCR but Geoff had got me some blister powder and twin skin socks and I taped over the worse of the blisters, but resigned myself to the fact that my feet would hurt.

The first 20 odd miles is along the Peddars Way so I was familiar with that. It was cool and even a little drizzly to start with so the first 2 or 3 hours I felt pretty comfortable. The first checkpoint at 9 miles came along fairly quickly and I just had a refill of my bottles and a swig of coke and was on my way.
After another 5 or 6 more miles I started to feel a bit tired.  As I’d only had a couple of slices of toast for breakfast about 5 hrs previously I thought I better eat something. I looked in my backpack for my goody stash of cheese, crackers and nuts only to find it wasn’t there!! I tried to think what had happened to it and remembered that when I had come back from the loo Geoff had already put my kit bag away and passed me my bag pack….so, it must have been in my kit bag still. As Geoff was out in the van following the race I tried to call him to see if he could meet me to give me it…but I couldn’t get through – probably a good thing as I guess I would have been a bit grumpy.  The next checkpoint was about 22 miles so I’d just have to wait until then. Luckily, however, Geoff was waiting around 20 miles in …. so I managed to grab my cheese and crackers which gave me a boost.

Arriving at CP 2 around 11.15am my 6 hr plan for the first half was looking hopeful. From Holme you then joined the Norfolk Coastal path. I had been looking forward to reaching the coast and there were some nice wooden boardwalks to run on which were pretty easy on the legs…and sore feet.

After the long slog of 13 miles between cp1 and 2 there was only around 6 miles to cp3 at Titchwell. It was on this stretch that I got chatting to a guy from Southend Flyers called Chris – who was to become one third of the orange amigos….the other third was to be Trev, a fellow jogger, who had got a little lost when we caught him up. The three of us pretty much stuck together for the rest of the day.

Coming into cp3, I was greeted with a ‘hello gin’ from the volunteer who turned out to be a fellow runner I had met doing the heritage coast marathon a few weeks ago. It’s always nice to see a familiar and friendly face, and he told me he would see me again at the cp at Cley – 53 miles. I sincerely hoped that would be the case.

The sun had now come out and the temperature was rising. It looked like it was going to turn into a hot day.

I hadn’t put any sun cream on at the start, nor had I put my visor on so would make sure I took care of that as soon as possible. As luck would have it, Sarah – the tonic of ‘Gin and Tonic’ and Geoff were on the route around mile 29 so I managed to get some sun cream from Sarah as i couldn’t find mine nor locate my visor. Thinking about it i concluded that they were both still on the bed at home along with my gaiters which I hadn’t been able to locate earlier. Note to self….don’t forget important things!!!!

The next cp was around the 36 mile mark and with a cutoff of 3pm. But I didn’t see that would be too much of an issue. I have covered the first 30 miles in around 5hrs 50 so my loose plan was a little tighter….

After a couple of miles, coming into Brancaster Staithe there was an ice cream van on the quay….luckily I carry some money so was able to enjoy an ice lolly. I was so interested on the lolly that I preceeded to wander aimlessly around the quay side….closely followed by Chris and Trev…

Finally we managed to work out where we had gone wrong and get back on the path. Again there were some nice wooden boardwalks along this section so I was able to trot along for a bit.

Coming into cp4 I had about 50 minutes on the cutoff so felt comfortable knowing I had 8 hours to complete a marathon distance. After a pit stop for mostly fruit – I was on my way ready for the beach section. Kevin had told us about a diversion on the beach at Holkham to avoid the coastal path but I think I was on the beach a lot longer than I needed to be, however it meant I missed out the sand dunes…

Some of the sand was packed and easy to jog along but there was also a lot of fine stuff. Without my gaiters and with a hole in my shoe there was soon a lot of sand rubbing my already sore toes. There seemed little point, until getting off the beach, in emptying my shoes so it was just a case of ‘keeping good humour’….this was helped by seeing what I thought was a naked man walking towards me.  Turned out he was…!!!!! Not the prettiest sight as most nudists tend to be old and wrinkly….as was this one.

Finally, after what felt like an age, i got off the beach and into Wells. I had phoned Geoff to ask where he was so knew he was going to meet me with fresh socks and shoes. I did throw a ‘small’ diva moment when he suggested I walk over to the van – which was all of  200 metres away – but I plonked my arse down and told him to go get them…..sorry Geoff and the other excellent supporters for having to witness my stroppiness.  Sarah applied more suncream to my arms and face but I had already told her not to worry about my legs – what a Muppet!!!

Chris and Trev patiently waited whilst I got my feet washed and re-powered. Then on with fresh socks and bigger shoes which helped a lot.

It was busy with tourists through Wells, crabbing, eating fish and chips and icecreams and sitting enjoying the sun. What they thought of our motley crew I chuckle to think.

Heading back out onto the coastal path I was really starting to feel the heat. I wet my buff and drapped it round the back of my neck but there wasn’t a lot I could do about the backs of my legs which were becoming increasingly salmon pink – if only I’d let Sarah put a bit of cream on them.  It was just a case of head down and get to the nice checkpoint at 46 miles.  By the time I got there, I was seriously over heating but thankfully a lovely supporter gave me an extra buff which Geoff doused in water and I placed on my head.  That helped a bit and with some strawberries and coke it was onwards to the final checkpoint at Cley.

For a fair while you could see Blakeney in the distance but it seemed an age before finaly getting there.  I’ve been to Blakeney many a time and have walked the path from there to Cley so I knew it well.  It was very runnable and Chris and I did our best to shuffle along a bit.  If it seemed to take a long time to get to Blakeney it took an eternity to reach Cley but reach it we did eventually.  Luckily, as I was familiar with this bit I knew exactly where the path went, Chris being with me was ok but Trev had dropped back a little and he didn’t appear to be following us…we could see that even if he carried on the road he would rejoin the path so we carried on.  Chris’ wife had been out meeting him on the course and we saw her here again – he had been telling me about the plan for her to run her first marathon at Snowdon this year so I had a little chat with her about that.

Arriving at the cp, there was some comments that the cut off was 7.45pm which with only around 10 miles to go and deadline 11pm seemed a little harsh.  I arrived at 7.37pm so was ok and was told by Peter all was fine to go on.  Geoff had got some more fresh fruit and I stuffed my face full of it.  Due to the heat, other than drinking that was all I was managed to eat but thankfully I didn’t appear to be having any ill effects from it.

The next 3 or 4 miles were the most brutal and arduous of the entire day.  With very sore feet, having to tackle miles of pebble beach is definitely a mental test.  Geoff walked along with me for about a mile which was nice, but then I have to stop to get the stones out of my shoes and the other two orange amigos started to vanish into the distance.  Luckily we hit a bit of grassy stuff and I could trot to catch them up.  Back together again.

It was really just a case of walking now, willing the end of the pebbles to arrive.  It did eventually with a nice couple of hills into Sheringham and the sounds of a Saturday night.  People in the pubs and music playing.  We jogged along the prom, looking forward to the final climb up Beeston Hill (Bump).  It was just starting to get dark now, and the moon looked fantastic from up on the hill.  Coming down the other side we were met by the race director Kevin, who preceeded to run us into the finish.  Asking how far it was he replied only 1/2 a mile….but when we started to go ‘up’ I did mutter a bit…perhaps…but was promptly told to stop complaining….!!!

And, finally, the finish was in sight…just a jog across the cricket field and over the timing mat.  15hrs 17mins….not a very impressive time but well within the cut off of 16 hrs.  More important was the fact that I finished…after my DNF at the GUCR I was just very relieved to do that….

Chris had completed his further distance ever and Trev was not too far behind to complete his grand slam.

It was a very tough day at the office.  Of the 62 starters 15 dropped out which is 24% drop out and given the heat and terrain I was proud to get that medal.

And now just the matter of a 2 hour drive home…not sure how I managed to stay awake, just glad I wasn’t driving.

Arriving home, getting showered and getting a bowl of soup down, we finally got into bed around 2am – a mere 22.5 hrs after getting up…

Oh…and did I mention the sunburnt legs??? No? – well I have very sore sunburnt legs.

Another lesson learned…

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After my failed attempt at the Centurion Autumn 100 last October the prospect of 145 mi was a little daunting but I had already put my name in for the ballot so had to leave it to chance. The draw was on the eve of my birthday and Geoff and I journeyed up to Buckingham to attend – I was keen.

As luck would have it, although not successful in the ballot, Keith appreciated my efforts of driving for 2 hrs and gave me one of the discretary places. I was in!!!

Fast forward to 2 weeks before the start and a slight hiccup in my training when I tripped over a tree root on the local canal during a practice night run. A heavy blow to my ribs left me with a suspected crack so I doubted if I would be on the start line fully fit, if at all. Thankfully in the following 2 weeks, it did ease a bit so although still uncomfortable it was bearable. Some taping and a very supportive bra helped a fair bit and as long as I didn’t fall on it again I should be ok.

So, day before race day. I journeyed up to Brum Friday morning, having bought a one way train ticket, odd knowing I had to get back on foot. All I could think whilst sitting on the train was its a bloody long way!!
I spent the rest of Friday enjoying the art gallery, registering and meeting up with other runners. Some I knew, some new but known through social media. I must say, though, that everyone was so friendly even if I felt like the new kid on the block having only ever run 100km. But I was assured that it wasn’t the big issue that I thought it was.

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A little pre-race culture…

Retiring at 9.45, I got a great nights sleep only being woken by the alarm at 4.45am. Some coffee and as much as I could eat and then a short 3 min walk to the start. I have seen pics and videos of the start of the GUCR loads and was so very exciting to be a part of it. A short speech from Dick and we were off at 6am sharp.

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Very excited Gin…

It was 10.7 miles to the first checkpoint (the shortest distance of them all) and I had decided I would run the whole way at a nice steady pace.

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Yet to leave the city…

Leaving Brum it was so lovely, cool and easy running that the pace crept up into the 9 minutes – I slapped my own wrist and slowed it down to 10’s. It took a while to get out of the city but it was all enjoyable. I arrived at the CP at 7.56 am – 4 minutes up on my planned schedule. I appreciate a lot of people say it’s hard to keep to a plan in these kind of events but I wanted to have some kind of guideline. Perhaps that’s just my inexperience….

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So quick stop, bottles filled and on to CP2 – 12 miles on. It was still cool, the canal was coming to life and I felt good.

Into CP 2 at 10.19 am, 11 minutes up on schedule. It was heating up so I got my hand held bottle out my bag as I was only wearing my waist bag and wasn’t sure I’d have enough water for the next 12 miles. After a quick nibble, some coke I was on my way again keeping a nice steady 11/12 min mile pace. The field of 107 runners had spread out but there were a few similar pace around me that I would pass and they would pass me.

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Happy families…

Chatting to people, seeing loads of ducklings and cygnets, people on barges clapping you, resident barge dwellers knowing what you are doing and wishing you well. All was good and I came into CP3 – 36 miles – at 1.24 pm over an hour ahead of my schedule. Had some soup and potatoes and decided to change to wearing my backpack so I had more water, plus the fact that the handheld bottle was really annoying me.

The next stretch was 14 miles and it was beginning to warm up. Did a bit of running with a couple of people which was great but just as happy with my own company. Finding a shop and having an ice lolly was a bit of a highlight….
it was on this stretch that my race began to unravel, my feet were beginning to get sore. I was getting hot spots on my heels and balls of my feet but I couldn’t do much until I got to the next checkpoint, 53 miles, where I arrived at 6.05 pm, just 10 mins ahead of schedule but 1hr 25 mins ahead of the cutoff so all ok.
I decided to change shoes to a more cushioned pair, more Vaseline, and changed my socks. Had a quick refuel, water top up and onwards for 17 miles to the next checkpoint. Enjoying the early evening sunshine, my feet felt a little better for a while but not as comfortable as I had hoped. Other than that I felt good, strong, really positive and was enjoying it.

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My aim was to get to cp5 at midnight. Being 70.5 miles it’s almost the half way point so a nice mental boost. I had put a long sleeve top, arm warmers and a jacket in my pack at the last cp but didn’t put any of them on. That was a mistake as as the sun went down I started to chill and by the time I reached the cp I was pretty cold and starting to shiver – another rookie error. It was 11 pm, an hour earlier than I had hoped and 2 hrs ahead of the cutoff so I took a bit of time to have some hot coffee and get warmed up after going into full on shaking mode. Other than my feet, this was my first real negative point but the volunteers were great and helped to get me on my way in some warm clothes.

It was another 17.5 miles to the next checkpoint and for the first few I was fast walking with a lovely lady called Debbie Jewson who had experienced the event many times. We had a good chinwag and this took my mind off my sore feet for a while. At around 2am, I had a real tired moment and dropped back a bit whilst Debbie went on and I was on my own in the night. I decided to put my iPod on and use that to concerntrate on – it helped and I arrived at CP 6, 84.5 miles at 3.50am an hour and 25 minutes up on my schedule and over 3 hrs ahead of the cutoff. Other than my pesky feet my race was going really well. At this point I should have paid attention to my feet but I didn’t….BIG MISTAKE….perhaps my inexperience, tiredness, laziness but whichever it would have a big impact.

The next stretch was shorter at 14 miles and dawn was about to break which I hoped would give a boost. I was jog/walking now but still getting along at an average of about just under 4 miles an hour which was all good. The canal residents were starting to wake up, there was a lovely mist on the canal and I was positive I could finish – how quickly things can change.

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Before it all went wrong….

By about 8.30 am my blisters had become a real issue. Again, in my inexperience I had left my medical supplies in my drop back so had no choice but to limp on. I could feel them popping and rubbing even more….only 6 miles to the cp, get there and sort them out. But I got slower and slower, it became more and more painful to keep moving, my pace slowed to about 2 miles an hour and my whole mental attitude changed. Doubts began to creep in, it was still another 50 miles, I had more than enough time to walk it in but not at 2 mph.

I made the decision to get to the checkpoint and call it a day. I finally limped into the checkpoint at 10.15 am, 15 mins behind my schedule but still 1 3/4 hrs ahead of the cutoff. I had phoned Geoff on the way in and he was driving up to get me. The relief of laying down on the cool grass and taking the weight off my feet was immense. I took my shoes off, which felt like the final nail in the coffin and the certainty that I wouldn’t carry on – I don’t think I could have got them back on. I had some soup and a roll whilst I waited for Geoff to arrive, which he did with a cold can of coke and lots of lovely fresh fruit – heaven.

The drive home was interesting with my sore throbbing feet and cramping legs but I felt otherwise okay and in good spirits. Upon getting home, Geoff was a star sorting my feet and feeding me lovely homemade soup. After a shower, a soak in a bath of Epsom salts and a couple of hrs snooze I felt OK. Yes a bit tired but I had been awake and on my feet for over 28 hrs.

As an aside, a huge clap of thunder woke me in the night and then the church clock chimed 3am…..cutoff…..

So, no I didn’t finish the race but did achieve a personal milestone of over 100 miles and for the whole it was great. My inexperience showed with the lack of feet preparation and maintenance and as this is what finished the race for me I have learned a very valuable lesson.

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The star shows how far i got…

Looking at the results the following morning there were 107 starters with 41 retirements. I am not going to beat myself up….but have decided to be proud of what I DID achieve and not disappointed with what I didn’t.

I will take so much from this event. It was so fantastic and with some more experience and, of course, the already mentioned feet maintenance I know I have it in me to complete it.

When does the ballot open??? 😊😊😊

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My last catch-up blog covered adventures up until December 2015, but other than my last extra awesome adventure (blogged separately) I have still squeezed in a fair few during 2016.

The year kicked off with another of the ‘Endurance Life’ Coastal Trail Series, this time in Dover.  It was the first year they were running this one, and it’s always nice to be part of an inaugual event. My running partner in crime (that’s Tonic) fancied this so we were going to tackle it together.

Tackle being the best word I think to describe it.  Tackles are often brutal and so was this. There was a bit of mud and a lot of hills but it was a beautful course.

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Gin & Tonic 

The following day I was heading back to Benfleet, Essex to do the Benfleet 15 for the 3rd year running. (guess I kind of like it!). After feeling a bit like Billy No Mates the previous year, I convinced a couple of others to join in this year and enjoy the mud with me!

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Other mud loving fools…

But even Benfleets’ mud couldn’t prepare me for the Thames Path in February. The Thames Trot – 50 miles – was going to be my training run for the Thames Path 100 I had booked for the end of April. I was really looking forward to it, it was going to be my second furthest distance and I had company on this as well.

Driving down the night before made sense and I managed to find a nice little B & B a 10 minute walk from the start. I managed to sleep well and was feeling good and positive.

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Ready to go…with Kev

There had been a fair bit of rain and we were warned that the path was a bit muddy in places…A BIT MUDDY!!!!…that was the understatement of the year.  I had chosen to wear my Inov8 Race Ultra 290 which are really a hybrid shoe which can cope with a bit of light mud but I found it almost impossible to do anything other than walk.  Kev had more manly shoes on and he was making much better progress than me.  I felt like I was holding him up so told him to crack on without me – I was already beginning to think I may not make it.  I wasn’t enjoying it and there was, what I felt was a tight, cut off of 11 hours. At CP 2 – 19 miles I was only around 16 mins ahead of the cutoff and was all for calling it a day there.  However, Lindley Chambers (of Challenge Running) was there to give me a talking to and suggested that I at least try to get to the next CP at 27 miles. So, I set off and regretted it after about 2 miles as the conditions really weren’t improving. But, only another 6 miles so I ploughed on finally arriving at CP3 in 6hrs 12 mins, about 18 mins ahead of cutoff but I decided it was enough for me. My 2nd DNF…

That rocked my confidence a lot and I began to start having doubts about the TP100 in April.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to tackle that just yet…

So, after a little rest I then took part in my first International Event. Barry and I were off to sunny Seville to run the marathon and have a little mini break.  It was a new experience for me although Barry had done international marathons before, and one I can say I absolutely loved.  It wasn’t too big an event and we had no fixed time in mind so could just plod round and enjoy the sights.

We then spent a few days sightseeing, although next time perhaps I may choose to sight see first then run the marathon – the legs were a little tired!

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Sunny Seville

Also in February I returned to the Challenge Running St Peters Way event.  This had been my first real step into ultra running so I was interested to see if I had improved any! The first time I had done it, the mud was pretty bad but this year it was lots drier…The route is a lovely one, organisation superb, directions brilliant and I absolutely loved it.  In 2014 I needed my headtorch but I didn’t this year….managed to knock 53 minutes off my previous time.

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All done…and still daylight!!

I was a little emotional at the finish of this one, the last time my mum had been there to hug me…so no hug this time other than from Lindley!!!!

A little break now until one of the Spring Marathons at The Great Barrow Challenge. I had volunteered my services to get myself a free run – but was lucky enough to run first and then watch everyone else the next day.  Shortly after getting started I found myself running with Paul Buckle, a guy that I had met at SVP the previous year. He is a much quicker runner than me so I guessed that he would soon leave me for dead – I had set my Virtual Partner on my garmin for 10 min/mi pace. Anyway, chattering away, I soon realised we were a little ahead of that schedule – I would say ‘I need to slow down’ and we would but were soon picking it up again.  We finished in 4 hrs 17 mins which was my 2nd quickest marathon time!

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With Glen and Nick from The GBC

The following weekend I was going to do the LDWA Essex Walker event, another I had done before in 2014. This time I was running with Sam Cooper as it was going to be her first marathon.  Sam had done the Benfleet 15 with me and I was looking forward to supporting her.  It was a lovely day and the course is nice – the LDWA give you very detailed written instructions so there isn’t too much chance of getting lost.  The CPs are always really well stocked and they are an absolute bargain to enter.

And what a jolly nice day out it proved to be with Sam in the Essex Countryside.

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Bit of a photobomb from Mr John Stoneman

Next on my schedule was the Haverhill Marathon, a nice local event. I was going to run this with Barry – again with no real agenda.  However, it was not to be…after about 4 miles I was getting serious cramping and my feet were going numb.  I decided to call it a day and let Barry go on alone.  My 3rd DNF..!

My next sceduled event had been The Big One…TP100 at the end of April, but after my disaster at the Thames Trot in February I had decided to postpone my attempt at 100 miles until I felt better prepared so instead, on May Day BH it was off to Milton Keynes marathon.  I used to live and work there so thought it would be a nice one to do, also it was sold as flat. I was running solo here so I was planning to just run to feel and see how it went..it all started well with a good pace and covering the first half in around 2 hrs, however then the wheels fell off. I started to struggle both physically and mentally – the course was really boring, a lot of up and down ‘boulevards’ and seeing people coming the other way knowing they were ahead of you is always tough. Going out of the city didn’t improve much and I was very pleased to see the Stadium where we were finishing…

So not a good run but a lovely medal and brilliant T Shirt!

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I do like a nice bit of bling…

The following weekend in May was Halstead Marathon.  This is where it all started for me and will always be in my race calender.  This was my 4th and I was running with my ‘Tonic’ again. Because the course is so local to Sudbury, there is always massive support from the Sudbury Joggers and this year was no different. It is a tough course with a few ‘inclines’ but lovely scenery – I really enjoyed it.  Tonic found it a little tougher than I did but with a shot of Gin she got the job done and had enough left to outsprint me to the finish…

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Wait for me…..

The weekend after Halstead, G & T were in action again doing the Positive Steps Bury to Clare Challenge together. An absolutely delightful 18 miles of trail running and being right on the doorstep no need to travel miles.  Finishing in Clare Country Park you can sit and chill, have a picnic and visit the icecream van…what’s not to like.

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A great turn out from the Sudbury Joggers

Now into June…that means it’s Stour Valley Marathon time. The 3rd running of this event and I’ve taken part in all 3.  A bit like Halstead this is a permanent fixture in my running calender as it’s a great event and very local. The chosen beverage for the day was G & T so a girlie day out running around the Suffolk countryside in the sunshine…what could be better?

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This is how to spend your Sundays…

So, it was June. This time last year I had attempted my Great Barrow 10 in 10 challenge but only managed to complete 9. So, I was going to go and try again…!!!

Did I manage it….? Wait and see….

 

 

Snowdonia 50

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To date, this is definitely my greatest running adventure! So, sit down, make a brew and enjoy reading it because I absolutely loved doing it….

The plan had been to run a trail marathon in Snowdonia back in July to give me a taste of the terrain as this is certainly not the sort of underfoot conditions I am used to – but that didn’t happen (it’s a long way to go!!!) so I was a tad nervous…

Included in the race entry was 2 nights camping so I thought I would take advantage of that, driving up on the Friday to arrive in daylight with plenty of time to pitch the tent, eat, drink and listen to the briefing – did I mention I was nervous? Well, after that I was terrified! Looking around at the other entrants I felt like I should have been popping to the shops not attempting to run 58 miles around Snowdonia…oh yes, you get a bonus 8 miles for free!

So, what with the heavy rain and the nerves, didn’t manage a lot of sleep. But, thankfully the rain eased off around 2 am and by the time dawn was breaking it looked like it could be a nice day. My alarm went off at 5 and with a second briefing at 6.10 there was plenty of time to get ready – or you would have thought! For whatever reason, I was running around like a headless chicken at 6 still in my flip flops and falling face first over guy ropes..not the best start, BUT at least I had a focus……….trying to actually be ready to start at 6.30.

I just about managed to do it, running into the school to ‘dib’ my dibber pre start as everyone was running out of the school gates. But, hey, as Barry said (who was a godsend by the way) it was a long way and starting a couple of minutes late was not really the issue. (sarah, if you are reading this, I think you would have had a heart attack!!!!).

So, on my way.  An easy walk down the main road towards Betws Y Coed trying to get a signal on my Garmin.  The easy walk didn’t turn out to be easy for long, we turned off the main road within a couple of minutes and started to go up….and up….and up….but that was ok, I was fresh as a daisy.  I was surprised, in fact, how quickly I caught up and passed a few people – noting a couple of ladies that appeared to be struggling up that first climb I felt better but did wonder how they would manage as we hadn’t even covered a mile.

As I was climbing, I came up behind a lady who seemed to be doing well and being the chatterbox that I am struck up conversation. Within a couple of minutes, I’d decided that this ladies agenda seemed to mirror mine and as I had always hoped I would pair up with someone, she copped it!!! Let’s see if we can stick together, I suggested, and I didn’t hear a ‘oh god’ or anything under her breath so Gin and Louise it was all the way!

There was around 6.25 miles to the first CP at Dolwddelan Train Station and after the first climb it did level out a little and it was actually beautiful running in the morning mist. I am a huge fan of trail running and I was beginning to think that maybe, today would be ok after all. Before I had started, I have made a little chart of the CP’s, distances and estimated times based on a 17min average mile (optimistic) and a 19 min mile (realistic) and arriving at the first CP I was pleased to see we were 9 minutes up on my optimistic time.  I knew it was early days and that wouldn’t last but hey it does boost the morale slightly.  After some coke and banana, which sounds hideous but was delicious, we were on our way to CP2 at Blaenau Festiniog,  Just as we were about to leave, Barry arrived at the CP – perfect timing!

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Early Morning Mist

The next section started to show the mixed terrains that we were going to cover, with some wooded sections, water logged bogs and slate quarries. The section through the woods was particularly interesting, it looked like a mountain stream to me…but no, that was the route so up we went.

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Up here, really?

At the briefing, Henry (the organiser) had mentioned that once you come out of the wooded section you needed to look out for the bits of bamboo pole with cut up day glo jacket strips attached to give you guidance over the bog! Well, we reached the end of the wooded area, climbed the ladder effect stile and proceeded (under my instruction) to turn left…wrong!! After about 5 minutes I felt we were perhaps not going the right way and not appearing to spot any of the aforementioned ‘markings’ we stopped to check. I think, at this point, Louise decided to not just follow me and looked at her map.  With that, and spotting some people going in the opposite direction (over there in the distance) we turned around and went back to where we went wrong and turned right!! I then proceeded to end up knee deep in a bog which wanted my shoe as a souvenir but with a helping hand I was out, shoe just about still attached to my foot.

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I see no bamboo or day glo!!!!

Once we managed to get across to firmer ground, we were then going through the slate quarries. The tracks were pretty water logged so we started by trying to go along the sides on the grass but this really wasn’t any drier so we decided that the firmer ground underfoot was better and waded through. The scenery, though, made up for the cold wet feet.

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Now I see a sign!!!

As we  were coming into CP2 we started to see some evidence of the ‘zip lines’ in this area and there was also a downhill mountain bike event going on.  Watching them hurtle down the hills, I said ‘wow’ I couldn’t do that. But, I guess they couldn’t do what we were doing..

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Err….no thanks…..

Into CP2, around 13.5 miles in 3 hrs 46.  Not a record half marathon time!! but still 3 minutes up on my optimistic time despite detour, bog incident and stopping to take a few photos!!!

To the next CP at Croesor was only 5 miles but it took us nearly 2 hours.  Looking at my data, there was nearly 1000 ft of elevation so perhaps that’s why?? We were met by Barry and Louises’ husband Andy who jogged in with us to be greeted by another well stocked checkpoint, manned by friendly, helpful volunteers. Checking the schedule, I was pleased to see that despite the slowness, we were still 9 minutes up on my realistic timescale.

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Jogging into CP3 with Barry

It was another short section to CP4 at Beddgelert at about 4.5 miles and more down hill than up. I visited this area around 8 years ago and had walked along the river leading into Beddgelert so I was looking forward to this. It didn’t disappoint…it was also nice to see some tourists milling around, most of which probably thought we were out for a little jog round the village. As we came to the bridge over the river, we had a little ‘dilemma’ and a bit of a this way, that way moment and decided to cross – only to be told as we arrived that we were supposed to be on the other side of the river!

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Even a hand hold for the less brave

Running into the CP we passed a lovely ice cream parlour and I was very tempted to have one, Barry offered but as the CPs were so well stocked I said I’d save it for another time. As, as it happened, we returned the day after and had some of their delicious icecream.

So, reaching CP4, we were still only around 23 miles – not even half way but still inside my realistic schedule by 9 minutes! Re-fuelling on chocolate spread sandwiches (that’s a first for me) and fruit loaf (yum) we were ready to tackle the longest stage at about 10.5 miles to Llanberis.

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Time for a re-fuel

It had turned out to be a fantastic day, the sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot and we could see the peak of Snowdon!

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Who says it always rains in Wales!!

The scenery was so fantastic that the camera did have to come out a few more times.  We had met up with a lovely couple of guys so we were chatting with them, they would go ahead, we would catch them, it was all very lovely….until the HILL!!!! Yes, there had been a lot of inclines but this one, coming at miles 32/33 was a killer – it took us nearly an hour to cover those 2 miles and it was the only point that I felt a bit p****** off. Even hearing the steam train whistling and then seeing it fly past was only a minor distraction from the fatigue I was feeling.  Not only was it UP, there was still boggy bits to sink your feet into….I was seriously losing my ‘good humour’ but knew that once we reached CP5 at Llanberis we were well over half way and had been told it got easier.

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A bit of ‘Train Spotting’ !

Finally, after what seemed like an age and despite Louise telling me it was just over that hill, around that corner, just down there, we did arrive in Llanberis to be greeted by my favourite volunteers of the day.  Everyone was lovely but perhaps it was the fact that they were two delightfully lovely young men that they were my favourite…but it was more the fact that they have a microwave and a kettle so HOT food and coffee!!! Heaven….but despite my best efforts I couldn’t stomach the pastie so had some soup instead. Feeling a bit nauseas for the first time, I also opted for a couple of ginger nut biscuits. I usually don’t like them but they really did the trick. This was the only point on the event where there was a cut off, it was 12 hours and we were at 10 hrs 36 so well within that…phew…and checking my now dog eared schedule we were bang on 19 min mile target! Going into the event, I had a target time (if you can call it that) of 18 hrs and if we could carry on at the pace that would be 18 hrs 3 minutes BUT we still had 24 miles to go and it was going to get dark.

Leaving Llanberis we had about 4 miles of respite from climbing until it started again. And despite a couple of ‘which way’ moments we were well on our way to CP6 at Bethesda. Again we encountered, who I know now were, Huw and Gordon. They were such characters, particularly Huw, and a real pleasure to chat with. Huw is training for MDS and Gordon, I found out, had just run the Ring of Fire……in road shoes!!! Fantastic…

I had sent a message to Barry when we left Llanberis as that had been the only CP he wasn’t at – he had his own little adventure running up Snowdon…- so he could make his way to meet us there which he did with Andy as well. It does make all the difference having support on these events, a friendly face, a hug, a kiss – it all helps.

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What a motley crew!

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Penultimate Checkpoint

So, CP6, 42 odd miles and still just about daylight! More hot soup and coffee to tackle the next 9 miles to the final CP at Capel Curig. We were reassured that it did really flatten out now and the path was easy to run on and also easy to follow – which it was, mostly…!  I hadn’t really had any ‘bad’ moments apart from that bloody hill but I was about to throw my toys….! It was now properly dark and we came upon a campsite area and could not work out where the path went.  Taking what I suggested was the ‘right’ way we ended up again in knee deep bog and at a dead end!! Another loss of good humour time…but with some team effort we worked out we needed to be on the opposite side of the river to which we were so backed tracked, or back waded, to the point we knew was right – and loe and behold there was the gate we needed….I swear that it wasn’t there before!! So, drama over we carried along being glared at by hundreds of pairs of eyes!!!  Sheep and horse eyes that is….i hope anyway…

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My new favourite place…

Finally, we saw some lights and arrived in Capel Curig.  Never have I been so happy and relieved to get some where. As we hit the road we could see a ‘fire’ over to our right, hear music and cheering.  Is that for us? we thought….and yes it was.  The coolest CP ever!!! Just Henrys’ brothers trailer but there were armchairs and everything!! I will say I didn’t sit in one otherwise I would not have got out again.  Music was playing, Barry was drinking beer!!!! – it was just awesome and most awesome of all, only 6 miles to go!

The final section to the finish was through a wooded area dropping back down into Betws Y Coed. It was fully dark now and late and I was super tired after 50 plus miles, so tree roots sounded scary…..!! When it was suggested that we could take the main road option instead – it was the same distance – we gladly accepted. So now we knew we had just 6 miles of path to cover, mainly downhill and we would be done!! What’s not to be happy about? We set off down the trail and took the first left, as advised, but that just took us around a toilet block in a circle and back to where we started….only a bonus 400 metres luckily. So, a bit further along the trail and we hit the road….and did the Ultra shuffle………

And shuffled…and shuffled…and shuffled for a very long 5 miles until we came across a very welcome sign!

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The emotions were building…..we’d bloody done it!!!   Mustering the energy to run (well sort of) up the road into the finish at the School we were greeted with huge cheers and bells ringing (or was that just in my mind???) and the sign saying FINISH…

With a hug from Henry I was handed the most awesome ‘medal’ I have ever had….

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Barry said I looked like the ‘green goblin’…..

Time?  17 hrs 52 minutes…..but not 58 miles Henry….60.49 thank you…..and 8600ft of elevation. (Snowdon is 3560ft high to give some idea).

Although we were almost the last finishers to come in, the vibe at the school was great. Still a good few people milling around and to chat to, I was handed a beer before making my way to the best bit…..a shower! Set up in the school playground….

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It’s Huw and Gordon!!!

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A nice touch…

So, it was time for bed….and sleep….still buzzing….

The following day there was a presentation for the winners at 9.30, then time to pack up the tent and head home. But time for a quick walk, rather stiffly, around Betws y Coed and Beddgelert – well I had an icecream due to me!

I will finish by saying that this was the most fantastic experience, mainly due to the location but also by the organisation and support of each and every person involved. I cannot recommend this event highly enough.  I’m not sure I could manage it again, I made my target and really don’t feel that I could do any better but it anyone wants a support crew just give me a holla……

And a new friendship was made which I can see lasting through a good few more adventures….eh Louise?

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