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Monthly Archives: May 2014

I think we’ve almost all run for charity at some point, we’ve all asked for sponsorship and we’ve all pulled our hair out trying not to have to stump up our own cash to reach donation levels or to get people to donate.

We’ve also probably all sponsored runners too because we like to support our loved ones or friends but I’m a little concerned about the way that running and charity seem too often to be linked.

Don’t get me wrong I think that running for a charity is a lovely idea and that raising money for worthy causes is increasingly necessary in these times of austerity.

However, more and more the races I’d really enjoy doing are placing demands on us to drum up cash. The classic example of course is the London Marathon. I’ve now attended the London Marathon (as a spectator) about 10 times and always enjoyed it, the elite racers, the club runners, the fun runners and the comedy runners but each year the presence of charity has gotten larger and the presence of running has gotten smaller. How often do we hear about how hard it is to get into London? Or on race day to get a rhythm going as you try and avoid the plethora of giant chickens or whatever mascot is being highlighted. I realise that the charity aspect of London is vital and perhaps it’s the VLM USP but it could be that the balance between running and charity isn’t quite right.

If we consider the amount each individual is required to raise this is some commitment – in quite a short space of time. As I understand it each charity is charged several hundred pounds per place they are allocated and they do need to ensure they get a decent return on investment – but imagine if you told somebody they could have a place at the London Marathon for just £2000 in the ballot – they’d think you were mad. However, tell someone they can have a guaranteed place but need to raise £2000 and suddenly that’s okay. I’m not so sure.

It’s not the only one though – lots of races from the Age UK 10km series through the Race for Life to the British Heart Foundation runs all have fundraising at their core and not running. I would love to have run the Tower of London recently but was put off by the requirement to fundraise. Even ultras are starting the process of becoming more charity friendly – the London to Brighton Challenge and its sister races all have ‘fundraising packages’ – again this leaves me a little cold, a race I really want to do but the fundraising element is a bit of an issue.

Plus just how often can we keep going back to the same people asking for cash? And I realise we have bake sales, charity BBQs, just giving pages and events which help but for people who live already hectic lives it’s just not always viable that we can spend the rest of our time baking, tweeting our charity pages to strangers or whatever to raise charitable funds. And yes I’m fully aware that the charities themselves help you out in information and support about how to raise cash but you’ve still got to find the time, you’ve still got to have the capacity.

What about the human endurance element and shouldn’t we celebrate this by supporting a persons preferred charity? You’re pushing your body and people respect that and want to support you (in amongst other ways through charitable donations). But I’ve seen a number of requests for people doing 5km races and still asking for donations – I’m not opposed to this but I feel if running is going to be used as a tool of charity then it should be for the spectacular stuff. And I’m fully aware that for some people 5km might be spectacular but I think it perhaps needs a little perspective. Most of us have a finite pot to draw from, so where do we draw the line? For me that line lies in the spectacular.

Spectacular Running?
@peteralton88 ran dozens and dozens of marathons last year dressed in his vibrant pink get up for Breakthrough Breast Cancer! I ran past him at the 2013 Kent Roadrunner, what a guy. He did something truly extraordinary and deserves sponsorship.

@ChiltonDiva who has run a series of endurance and road races in support of Ovacome – each time pushing her boundaries that bit further – is an inspirational runner. The fact she’s supporting a great charity and racing lots of times give you a sense that she is really working for the funds she’s raising. Awesome and well worth supporting.

The dozens of runners who do things like Brathay 10in10 – 10 marathons in 10 days, that’s awesome! The skill and tenacity needed to do something like this is bordering on unimaginable.

I can understand and really get behind truly inspirational endurance – this is deserving and needing our support.

Bigger Picture
Perhaps it comes to the bigger picture. Charities clearly need runners, especially the smaller charities. Successive governments have failed to financially aid our need for research, care or support to the level that we as a society demand and the shortfall is picked up by charities. So far this year I’ve donated to fifteen different runners and (because of the Virtual Running) more than 20 different charities and I’ve been very happy to do this because the runners I’ve supported are running for charities I believe in and/or are exceptional human beings doing something awesome.

But let’s also not forget that as a country we are incredibly generous – Sport Relief, Children in Need, Comic Relief, the National Lottery, endless charity shops. Given the amazing amount of charity we engage in I’m disappointed that some races and runners are looked at as fundraisers rather than sports people.

So what do I do for me?

Possible solutions include:

Avoid the races where I feel guilty for not being the type of person who can raise money with any great capacity? However, should I be punished because I don’t want to hammer my friends bank balances because of my running obsession?

Should I just donate the required amounts to reduce my feelings of guilt?

Should I stop donating to lots of runners so that I can focus on one – me?

Should I spend all my time making new friends who I can then press for donations?

What’s the answer?

I’m not so much of an arsehole to ever suggest we shouldn’t run for charity, not at all, I’m just suggesting that running is running and fundraising is fundraising and while the two can work beautifully hand in hand please don’t penalise us if it’s not our thing.

I realise this post is unlikely to make me the friends I need to turn to for donations but as a final point I’d like to extend my huge respect to those that do run and fundraise regularly – you guys deserve all the plaudits and I am sure it’s not just myself who is in awe of you.

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1. Don’t race too much
The last couple of years I’ve raced on average once every two weeks, this year I’ve raced big distance at around the same amount and what I’ve learnt is that the body doesn’t have time to recover and that training is badly affected because you feel as though you are in constant taper. Worse than that, when your training takes a hit then your race pace drops off. Racing should be part of your running I believe because it gives us targets and opportunities to test ourselves but it shouldn’t be at the cost of regular training.

2. Train enough
One of the things that many runners do is get to a point and suddenly think that’s it, they can do it and they can just continue to do it but the reality is a little different. We need to make sure that we continue to train year round to maintain the continuous health benefits of running. It doesn’t take much to actually feel much better from running but by the same token it doesn’t take much to feel lethargic when we don’t. Your training will be determined by many external factors but it’s worth keeping your running consistent and doing it regularly. Short but often pays bigger dividends than long and occasional.

3. Listen to your body
Believe me your body knows best, listen to it when it calls out for rest, listen to it when it says it go faster. Don’t ignore your body be they good times or bad.

4. You will be your own worst enemy
You’ll become a bit like a petulant child, wanting to do more, achieve more and you’ll push yourself, you’ll go too far either physically or emotionally – I think we all do at some point. Try and listen to common sense, if something sounds stupid then it probably is.

5. Make sure your shoes fit
I’ve spent the best part of my running in shoes that are too small for me. I should be a size 9.5 (UK) but I’ve been running in size 9s, it’s not a lot but what it does in my case is push my toes against the end of my toes and leaves them susceptible to blistering. Over longer distances this is exactly what happens and each person is different – so if you haven’t been fitted, please go and get fitted, there really is nothing worse in running terms than a pair of shoes that just aren’t right.

6. Don’t get caught up in technologies
Calorie Counters, GPS, video cameras, hydration systems, number belts, boosting trainers, minimal trainers … the list of things we apparently cant live without goes on and on. Running stores are constantly offering us new ways to part with our hard earned cash. Sometimes all you need is a pair of trainers and any old clothes. yes having the kit is great (and I’ve got a lot) but there is a lovely sense of getting back to those first few runs when you pick out a comfy pair of runners and hit the trail. Remember the joy of running.

7. Don’t run before you can walk
You know that feeling just after Christmas when you’ve put on a few pounds and you suddenly think it would be a bloody amazing idea to start running? Then you see yourself as a bit of Usain Bolt and that first run you feel like a legend – you probably did a kilometre, maybe two – then it takes you a week to get back out there? I’m not the only one who has been through these various stages. Anyway, the point is that as you come to running it is important that you take things slowly – build up your endurance, your distance, your speed, work on the way you breathe and learn how to get the best out of both body and kit. Plus remember that doing 5km where half of it was walking is still more impressive than sitting on the sofa watching cat videos on YouTube.

8. Eat for the running regime you do
I should listen to my own advice on this one – I’m a terrible eater, I don’t carb load, I barely eat vegetables, I don’t like fruit very much and my one remaining tastebud is targeting Mexican food and Mexican food only but because of this (partly) I can be prone to weight that bounces around and a lack of energy because I haven’t fuelled properly for my runs. Eat properly! Eat enough! Eat the right things!

9. Get to know other runners
Each runner is very individual and we all have our nuances and idiosyncratic ways but we’ve all been there and done it. We know what it’s like to lose toenails, to buy I’ll fitting shoes, to wear neon in public. I turn up to ultras now and there is almost always somebody I know or at the very least have met and chatted with before, infact I’ve raced so much in the last three years that even when I turn up to a 10km race there is a very good chance I’ll meet someone I know. This community spirit is in part why I really love running, but that same community is a great source of information, inspiration and fun. Next time you’re out running maybe just say hello to a fellow runner and see where it leads you.

10. If the plan isn’t working, change the plan
Training plan says ‘Monday AM – 10km jog’ and you get there and you simply can’t manage it or you don’t feel like it but by Monday PM you are feeling guilty. What to do? Change the goddam plan! No sense in being ruled by your training plan, you are in control and if something hasn’t happened then do something else. Don’t give up because you miss a deadline

11. Enjoy running, if it regularly becomes a chore something’s wrong
We all have days when the wheels have come off and you don’t feel like running and that’s fine but when it’s a regular thing you should perhaps ask yourself if there isn’t something else you can be doing. We run for pleasure (most of us) therefore if it makes you miserable step away from it. I’m the moments when my mojo has deserted me I tend to rock up and watch a race or two and I know that the moment I see runners streaking last me I’ll want to be out there – doing my thing and earning my bling.

12. Vary your training
A necessary evil? Probably. However, mixing up the way you train means that you are more likely to be successful on completing the races you do. For me I’ve found that varying my training has meant that I can roughly retain a respectable pace for a 10km while still running ultra distances. If I focused on one of these things I’d be much better at it but the training variations mean I can keep completing these races even if I’m not a a competitive any longer.

13. Vary your locations
There is nothing more fun that running down a new street, hitting a new trail, finishing up at a new cafe, getting lost in a country that you don’t speak the language in. Whatever you do try new routes, variation – see the world through running eyes because believe me it’s amazing what we miss as we drive to places. I found that I was getting bored of my evening commute from Regent’s Park to my mainline station in the evening and so to jolly it up I remembered that I live in one of the most exciting cities on the planet and so I started looking for memorials, sculptures, signs, famous buildings, infamous places and even culture events to run through, beyond and even in some cases – above. This meant I had to go via different routes, sometimes just a single street but now each night I see something new when I run and that fills me with joy.

14. Leave the GPS at home
I love my Suunto, I love watching running data and yet I love the freedom of not tracking what I’m doing and just running free. During races you can be held accountable to the watch, equally so in training – beating yourself up for not reaching the six minute mile, annoyed because you failed to do the whole 13.1miles, getting only to 13.02 before you’re stood outside the gates of your house. Humph! Leave the GPS at home sometimes and throw off this (very awesome) bind.

15. Do other sports
Running is very much my sport – I love every minute of it, even when I hate it but it does produce a tremendous amount of wear and tear on our bodies and we are susceptible to injury, fatigue and even occasionally a bit of laziness. I’ve found that by mixing up my running with other sports that I gain a better all round fitness.

I tend to find I focus on swimming, hiking, ‘countryside outdoor pursuits’, cycling and Pilates as my other sporting activities but team sports are equally wonderful and all you need do is tap into your personal interests and find something that you enjoy.

16. Run in the dark
Actually this should be ‘run at different points in the day’ but for me not enough runners run at night time and this in my opinion is an awesome time to do it – there’s peace, the roads are quiet and you really get to the heart of your thinking process and focus on the job at hand. For ultra runners the benefit is that we acclimatise to the fears that come during the night time, there is nothing worse than seeing shadows moving and fearing the worst – the dark can be a great friend.

17. Buy last seasons trainers
You want the latest kit? But the truth is that this stuff is usually untested by the majority – by buying last seasons kit not only do we benefit from runners experience and reviews but also it’s usually cheaper.

18. Always save something for the end
Jimmy McKenna, the only man who ever gave me running training (aged 8) left me with a piece of advice that has stuck with me for nearly 30 years. ‘Always finish strong, doesn’t matter how you run but cross that finish line like Steve Cram’. And he was right, I finish my races with a push, arms pumping, chest thrust forward and both feet off the ground. It always makes me feel good.

19. Don’t be afraid of failure or the DNF
Who cares? Well you will when and if it happens, you may well even cry but the important thing is to get straight back in the saddle. A DNF can show a positive attitude to your body, if you’ve pulled up with injury what’s the point in risking more damage by continuing. Equally though knowing when not to DNF is vital as you should try not to give up unless it’s necessary. Some of the most useful learning I’ve had as a runner have come when things have gone wrong, perhaps the most important thing is to learn from this and hope not to repeat it.

20. Have pride in your achievements
Wear your medal, wear your shirts, brag about distance, brag about times – like the manufacturer says ‘just do it’

21. Don’t mull over a slower than expected time
You’ll run pretty crappy times periodically – both in training and in racing – get over it. Don’t let one bad experience ruin a week or month or a years hard grafting on the road. To dispel he myth of bad running I simply adhere to the idea of producing a PW or personal worst, this means I’m always achieving some form of target even if it’s a rubbish one 🙂

22. Don’t forget the back end
Running takes huge swathes of our time in both the training and the getting ready to run. Sadly kit doesn’t clean itself, Suuntos don’t magically upload and races don’t book without you. Running isn’t a hobby it’s a lifestyle.

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This weekend I stupidly entered the Challenge Hub 24hr.

Why stupidly?

Well this was my fourth ultra marathon in just 42 days, my sixth ultra of the year and thirteenth race of the year. I was exhausted going in and despite warnings from both my partner, running friends and my own body I had the desire to go for it because I’d heard so many positive things about the event organisers.

Now normally I would go on to talk my race through but I don’t really feel the need – we all know it probably went badly 🙂 however, I did pound out another ultra distance, claim another medal and have the honour of meeting some of the most amazing runners running today – you know who you are (Mal, Peter, Chris, Mike, etc).

What I would like to say is that Mike at Challenge Hub puts on events to rival anyone’s. You go to his event and it immediately feels like family, everyone involved in the set up (organisers, volunteers, medics) are amazing characters, and hugely friendly, as well as 100% effective. All the runners came away feeling very well looked after and having been put through a heck of an endurance event. If Challenge Hub comes back next year I will certainly be signing up to it. There was something beautiful and blissful about running around a multi terrain quarter marathon track as many times as you can with nothing but the sound of the frogs to scare you witless.

This was 100% awesome.

I learnt so much about endurance this weekend both in terms of how to treat your body but also how to keep running big distance into your 50s and beyond. This felt very much like a lesson in how to ultra. I’m so grateful to everyone. So for those that don’t get in to the North Downs Way 50 or some other equally interesting race can I recommend that you campaign vigorously (and sign up) for future Challenge Hub events and be involved in something truly special.

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I’m finding my dreams to be a little disturbing at the moment and I think it might be something to do with the anxiety of becoming a parent.

Let me explain.

I get ready to go running
I hook around myself a harness
I place UltraBaby into the harness
I set off running with UltraBaby
I fall forwards and crush UltraBaby to death

There are variants revolving around other sporting activities but effectively in my dreams my actions are causing UltraBaby harm.

I’ve talked it through with the GingaNinja and she tells me it’s just a dream and probably a metaphor for the train wreck of a parent that I’ll make (thanks Ginge), but it is becoming a worry. It’s a bit like that sensation when you cross a bridge and you imagine what it would be like to just jump over the railing. It could well just be my fear of failure and simply accepting that I will worry about something so new and untested in natural – hmm.

In reality I know I’m being stupid yet it is waking me up regularly during my sleeping hours and that surely can’t be good for what little sanity I’ve got left.

Bugger.

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As regular readers will know I’m one of those runners who converted to Hoka One One maximal running shoes about a year ago and have generally been very happy with the results this change has given. I converted mainly to help reduce the damage being done to my feet over the ultra trail distances and this has worked fairly well. So when I heard that Hoka would be at the London Marathon Expo I decided I would pop along and try out some of their road running shoes.

I tried both the Stinson Tarmac and the Rapa Nui 2 both aimed at the road runner and with a great deal of satisfaction I decided I’d purchase the Rapa Nui 2. I liked the aesthetics of the shoe and I liked the stiffer feel but also the slightly lower profile than the Stinsons. I felt for road that sitting so high up I was probably asking for trouble as I bounced on and off pavements.

Therefore almost a month later I’m now committing my first running thoughts about these shoes to blog. Let’s start with the numbers, I’ve covered around 200km in the shoes taking in two ultras and a 10km race. But what details do Hoka provide?

Best use: Running
Shoe type: Cushioned
Footwear height: Ankle
Footwear closure: Lace up
Waterproof: No
Upper: Polyester/TPU
Lining: Polyester
Midsole: EVA
Outsole: Carbon rubber
Heel-to-toe drop: 5mm
Weight:
Tech: MetaRocker, 21-26mm Cushioning, Single pull lacing.

But are the Rapa Nui 2 Tarmac any good? Well… my first run in them came as a fast(ish) 5km, taking in some of the speedier downhills around Kensington and Victoria, here the Hoka felt fast, light and fun and after a couple more lighter excursions including a swift 10km around Regent’s Park I decided that these would be my primary footwear for the WNWA96 – more a swift hike than a straight run.

The shoes performed admirably across the first 15 or so miles but after this there was a deep sense of fatigue in my feet. The unrelenting tarmac, which I thought the Rapa Nui 2 would eat up, was causing problems on my feet. The shoes felt like they had no give in them and despite the cushioning I could feel every bump or lump on the road. At mile 26 therefore and the first significant stop I made haste to change out of these and into my much loved Stinson Evo and the difference was enormous – despite being a trail shoe they offered a lot more protection over the next section.

I had thought this might just have been that my feet hadn’t properly broken in the shoes and so in my training after the WNWA96 I continued to wear the Rapa Nui 2 and in fairness to them they covered the 10km distances I was running with great aplomb and they felt light enough on my feet that I was confident I could run them across the National 100km distance. The trouble was that long before I rolled my ankle in the race the footwear was proving to be a bit troublesome, for my money they are just a bit too stiff and cause too much foot fatigue over distance – at least in my experiences with them.

I don’t want to be too downbeat on them because there are tonnes of positives, they are comfortable, spacious, they feel incredibly well made and they look beautiful – less moonbootish these days. They do however remain rather expensive and I’m disappointed that the purpose I bought them for (road and summer ultras) they probably can’t fulfil. Additionally they don’t feel super fast enough to be able to unleash over shorter distances – you’d still go for your racing flat over these. So a mixed bag I’m sorry to report.

So in conclusion I’m a little disappointed by the Rapa Nui 2 Tarmac – these are not the all singing solution to every runners problems – but if they weren’t quite so stiff they might well be and I’ll be looking at the version 3 whenever it comes out.

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Despite feeling a bit better on the Sunday (after my piss poor performance at the National 100km) I decided that I needed to get straight back on the horse.

My original 2014 plan had been to run ultras in order of distance, rising gently throughout the year C2C and SPW both 45miles, SDW was 50miles and then the National should have been the first of two 100km runs before I returned to the 100 mile distance. Things obviously became a little skewed by the WNWA96 because this sat right in the middle of two of the other races and basically left me without sufficient recovery time. But what I did learn was that I probably need to commit to trying to run 100 miles in 24hrs because mentally I felt bereft after the National and confidence was shot to pieces.

With all this in mind and my usual bullish charm I signed up for the Challenge Hub 24hr Challenge in a just 10 days time. The great thing about these North East Kent events is that they aren’t races, they are events designed to test the human capacity to endure. I am aiming to endure about 100 miles, I need to prove to myself, that pretty much unsupported, I can make the 100 mile (and more) distance inside the one day because I want that Centurion one day finisher buckle – actually this year I want two of them. So Challenge Hub here I come, to test myself and my ability on your loop. Feedback from @abradypus about their Moonlight Challenge was so good that I’m really looking forward to this.

Deflated after the National? Not me … now where’s my saddle?

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Sssscccrrreeecch

This was the sound of my flight landing at Gatwick on Friday evening, I’d been in Budapest for a week enjoying the cultural highlights of the city – highly recommended is the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art.

It was now just short of 9pm and we were off to get the car – I needed to spin round the motorway and get to a Sainsbury’s fast as I had no running food supplies. My other half put her foot (legally) to the floor and by 9.38pm we were filling a trolley with falafel, malt loaf, lucozade and a gigantic lasagne thingee from their nicer tasting food range – it was going to be a long night.

I got home at around 10.30pm – the GingaNinja threw some lasagne at the oven and I started to get my kit ready for the National 100km. It normally takes about 2 weeks for me to prep for an ultra – this one took less than 40 minutes, it’s not that I’m getting faster it’s just I was being tired and sloppy. At 12.54am I was in bed and exhausted, my hip stinging gently in the darkness of the early morning hours and me with the knowledge I needed to wake in just over 4 hours to run my third ultra in a month.

At 5.00am I turned off the alarm of my phone and stood exhausted in a shower of steamy water and thought to myself why do I do this? Regardless I applied the usual liberal amounts of Vaseline to all the usually affected areas and proceeded to get dressed. I’m much happier preparing for trail ultras but I figured this would be much the same, albeit with the addition of my box of goodies from Sainsbury’s. When I arrived at the Gravesend Cyclopark I could see that it got treated very differently. The other runners were mainly in low profile racing flats (I’d gone for Hoka Tarmac) and nobody was carrying a pack, I felt that my inexperience on the track was now showing a bit.

At the off though there was a very nice atmosphere as the group of runners straddled the start line and Ian, the race director, gave us a few final instructions and the location of the toilets. And then we were off!

The leaders from the national teams set off at a blistering pace and while we watched on in awe I think it dawned on most of us the challenge that lay ahead – 48 laps of a tarmac track with a couple of bitchy hills. Now I’ll be honest this, on the face of it, wasn’t going to be as tough as any of my previous ultras and as I drifted along at 5.05 per kilometre I was perfectly happy. In fact things couldn’t have been going much better, the toe infection I thought would be causing me problems was nicely secure in my Hoka and the various blisters from the WNWA96 and SDW50 that still hadn’t healed were holding up beautifully thanks to some strategic strapping and compeeding. Even the exhaustion I was expecting from my late night exertions at the airport hadn’t kicked in and so by about 14km in I was a very happy bunny. I was even remembering to eat and drink regularly which is something that often kills off decent times on an ultra for me.

It was when I making my second stop at the feeding table and having a bit of a laugh though that I ruined the race. Here’s what I think happened.

1. Stuffed Jaffa Cake in gob
2. Told a moderately smutty joke
3. Set off wiggling my arse and throwing hand shapes around in the air
4. Wasn’t looking where I was going
5. Slipped off the tarmac
6. Twisted right ankle and knee
7. Cursed myself – may have dropped the C bomb a couple of times

Before the end of the lap I knew that the 100km was out of reach as I was hobbling pretty horribly and even the 50km would be a tough ask within the time limit of six hours – to say I was devastated is an understatement as I’d be running well enough to do the distance in 10.5hrs which was the Spartathlon qualifying time. As I meandered what would have been about lap 8 I decided that I’d risk further injury and give it everything I had for the 50km.

I was now much, much slower and the pounding of the tarmac was making my feet feel heavy and combined with the injury the wheels just started to completely come off. I stopped remembering to eat and drink properly, I was leaning away from the right leg too much which meant the weight was pressing heavily on my already destroyed hips and worse was the sun was coming out and I didn’t have any sun cream – nor had I put any on.

15 laps in and I’m a bit dazed and confused but still going forward having finally figured out a method of movement that didn’t cause too much discomfort, I was back to eating sensibly and drinking but my skin looked a bit like crispy fried duck – I’d burnt badly. However I stayed in good humour and chatted with runners as I passed them or they passed me.

As I passed into the final lap I gave a little jig or two to offer a bit of amusement to the crowds and then pushed on doggedly. Despite it having been a disaster of a race, the like of which not seen since the Bewl Water Marathon last year, I was feeling okay if a lot despondent. I approached the final ascent up the unofficially titled ‘Tourette’s Hill’ and crossed the line.

‘Are you okay?’ was the question
‘Disappointed’ I answered wearily

I took my medal but stupidly left behind my excellent goody bag, I wasn’t much in the mood to celebrate as I crossed the line. For a while I sat in the coffee shop mulling over my disappointment and my scorched skin and decided to leave both of these behind in favour of supporting the other runners home – probably the best decision I’d made all day as this really lifted my spirits seeing dozens of runners completing the race and achieving such amazing feats of endurance.

A few words about the race
The chaps at TZRuns are Amazeballs, they really care about racing, running and runners – it is all extremely well planned, well executed, brilliantly supported and reasonably priced. The National 100 was a race you could enjoy and while I had a personal nightmare that was nothing to do with the organisation.

The Cyclopark in Gravesend is a great course with great facilities, toilets, coffee shop, children’s playground – if you want a family friendly race location then this is it.

Special Mention
The supporters, photographers, medical guys and the marshals – epic. At every turn they offered a friendly face, a bit of a laugh and the right amount of food and drink. I wanted for nothing (except sun protection cream). In fact all the personal stores I took along with me pretty much went home because the feed stations were so well stocked.

Conclusion
Great race, with the 100km record time broken, stunning supporters, amazing organisation and great facilities. Add to this a course that was challenging and hard on your feet but fun to get involved in and you have perfect race conditions.

I’ll be going back for the Kent Roadrunner in a few weeks time (just 17 laps this time) also organised by TZRuns which I think says more about the organisers than anything I can possibly commit to my writings.

The only problem with this race was with this runner and I aim to fix that in time for the marathon.

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