- 315km run
- 50 ‘Cultural London RunCommute’ photographs shot
- 44 sculptures/statues discovered
- 43km longest run
- 24 days of running
- 13km daily average
- 12 Classic, handwritten blogs
- 9 Blog posts
- 8 Buffs used
- 6 ThunderPad Runs
- 5 UltraBaby Runs
- 4 days of the galloping trots
- 4 rest days
- 3 running events
- 3 medals
- 2 pairs of trainers
- 2 events entered (Green Man, Skye Ultra Trail)
- 1 Beard grown
- 1 round of Tonsilitis
It’s been a great couple of years with Virtual Runner UK. I (the GingaNinja, UltraBaby, ThunderPad and even Pops accompanied by Jimmy) have done quite a few events with them with the highlight definitely being the Poppy Challenge – a little over 300km in 24 running days. It’s actually going to be a little bit sad for me not to be doing them for a while but I try not to repeat myself too much in my running and so I’m off to concentrate on the build up to my 2016 ultra events – BUT I WILL BE BACK
I’d like to say a gigantic thank you to the lovely and dedicated Susan who has provided some excellent events since she set up VRUK and I’ve been incredibly grateful that they’ve kept me going during injury rehabilitation, the GingaNinjas pregnancy, tough working situations and a whole load of other things that, had it not been VRUK, might have stopped me running. So thank you.
And now to the the Poppy Challenge which has given me the opportunity to go on a creative tour of London as I have racked up the miles. Below are a selection of the images taken during the month as I sought to find both culture and fitness in the name of rememberance.
But what of the final full week of the Poppy Challenge. I was left with just 37km to go. By Monday I had dropped this to just 25km and by the time I was drifting to sleep on Tuesday I had less than 15km to go. But what to do? I wanted to finish at exactly 300km, this meant reaching 290km by Friday and doing my Movember Greenwich 10km on Saturday and concluding the event. I decided bugger it, I’d just have to pass through the 300km mark and forget about the numbers.
The good news was that I reached and passed the 290km on Wednesday and relaxed a bit with some gentle and short jogs too and from my office. And so I strode up to the start line on Saturday – moustache and other facial hair adorning my chiseled good looks and set off around the hilly Greenwich Park pushing UltraBaby in the UltraMobile.
As I crossed the line, 55 minutes later, I was elated but not as much as my legs were ‘Time for a rest UltraBoy’ they chimed in unison. 315km done, my Poppy Challenge complete. A great event and I feel properly ready for Saintelyon and I have few days rest ahead of me before the final and main event of 2016 kicks off – so thank you Susan, it’s been a blast.
Week 3 of the Poppy Challenge saw the start of a bit of tapering for Saintelyon. Week one was over 110km, week two was just over 80km and week three saw me bring this down to 73km. However, the 73km were high quality kilometres – hills, resistance and speed work all part of the plan. I added in a huge amount of ‘sculpture finding’ too and came across a number of hidden London gems including the Green Man up at Woburn Square (more of a rectangle to be honest). I even managed to get the dog out again to increase his mileage to the 20km mark! And this was all done with everyone at my house being ill again for the second time in a month! Still best to get it out the way now.
This therefore means I’ve only got 37km to go, 8 days to do it and I’ll have reached my 300km target and then I will stop despite thinking if I pushed myself just a little bit I’d make 400km no problem as for the first time in ages I feel fit.
As a final note I’ll say it’s been a mighty privilege so far to take part in this challenge. I’ve been incredibly inspired by the outstanding efforts of my fellow participants and if you happen to be running in Central London this week and see a neon clad, Hoka wearing runner stopping outside of a London sculpture, statue or monument be sure to say hello – it’s bound to be me.
Good luck for the final push guys.
My grandmother I should point out is an old style racist, the kind that makes snide comments about race, colour, gender, sexuality or appearance. She doesn’t appreciate that the attacks in France were NOT committed by Muslims, Catholics, Christians, Jews or any other religion – they were committed by people who hate and more importantly people who hate everyone and everything.
Obviously my grandmother is concerned that I’m off to race the Saintelyon in a few weeks time. She’s worried that a big event with runners might be a perfect target for a terrorist attack and in this she’s got a valid point – I mean let’s not forget how vulnerable runners are – Boston was not so long ago.
But at no point after the horrific events of last week did I think ‘maybe I shouldn’t go to France’. Infact I think it’s vital that I go to Saintelyon, it’s vital we all go and when asked on Twitter if I’d been put off I suspect my answer was already known.
I remember growing up with the IRA bombing cities and towns not far from me but there was never any doubt that life just went on, we got on with things and while I realise that this modern warfare is a whole new level of danger we must ensure we stand strong and simply ‘get on with the life we were leading’. Disruption, difficulty, suspicion, hate, panic these are the things that the attacks are meant to create – so why play into their hands? I’d rather be tolerant, supportive and tenacious.
So I am going to continue to be.
I’m not changing my avatars on social media instead I’m going to do what I always do and that’s be me. I’m going to go to France and enjoy the Saintelyon, I’m going to continue as a citizen of the world and embrace its diversity and I’m going to hope that there aren’t too many people like my grandmother out there because we all need to pull together whatever your background.
Vive le France
Week 2 of the Poppy Challenge brought us to Armistice Day and I used this as an opportunity to run down towards St Pauls post work and share a few moments of quiet rememberance. Sadly week 2 has been a mixed bag as my working hours have been stupidly crazy, public transport has been rubbish with all the ‘leaves on the line’ and I’m not really recovering from illness. Now work will abate eventually and the trains will sort their shit out but this lingering illness is wiping me out. I’m properly struggling to get into a stride as my chest is constantly on fire. Still when all said and done I managed 80km in week 2 and with a final push I should make my 300km total soon.
Finally my congratulations go out to everyone for their week 2 efforts, there’s a tremendous amount of effort kicking about and you should all be hugely proud of your achievements.
1. Really well organised. Despite a relatively small car parking facility and the area for registration equally small the organisers managed to get it together and keep runners and supporters aimed in the right directions. You’d probably say there was a good flow to the people traffic pre-race. The bag store was good, the start line was nice and wide, there were showering facilities and delivery of numbers was quick and efficient. The organisers should be congratulated for an easy pre-race.
2. Excellent aid stations. You can have no complaints at the aid stations for this marathon, drink options and food options. Not much for the savoury fan but then there rarely is at any marathon.
3. Reasonable Route. There’s only so much you can do with the Thames Path – it’s a path along a river. The scenery was pleasant and weather conditions made it more testing than a normal Autumn marathon. The path thankfully wasn’t too busy with normal route users either but it still felt a little cramped in places but if you like looking out over a river then this is the run for you.
4. Medal and goody bag. Medal was classically awesome and chunky too, not Traviss chunky but it’s nice. No goody bag but I think the price of the marathon reflected that a goody bag was not needed. Plus these days the ‘goody’ bag is usually rubbish anyway
5. Atmosphere. Very positive, good vibe with the runners, small enough field to feel intimate (350ish) but big enough to feel like a race. As usual the people who were most chatty and keen to have a laugh were the ultra distance runners I knew in attendance. So my thanks go especially to Rob and Gary both banging out further miles after successful recent ultras – special mention must go to Emma though who I ran with briefly and was properly awesome as she hammered out a great time despite illness and the wheels coming off about halfway through. The other point to make about the atmosphere is that the volunteers/marshals/medics were 100% outstanding, 100% jolly and a superb asset to the race, my thanks guys.
6. Good value for money. The race was pretty inexpensive (about £30) came with lots of positives and a great medal. I’ll be honest you can’t go wrong
7. Again? I wouldn’t do it again anytime soon but with a couple of years passed I’d be tempted to go back. There were so many positives to take from this but it wouldn’t make my favourite races list. I’m probably being a little harsh in that I fell a couple of times on the route, I was feeling ill anyway, I’d stopped to help an injured runner to an aid station and I was exhausted going into the race from my over training in the days leading up to it. But it’s certainly one I’d recommend having a going it and maybe you’ll be more inclined to be a regular repeat runner for the Thames Meander Marathon
8. Overall. 8/10 visit hermesrunning.com for entry details for all their races
I’ve been mulling over next years ultra options in the last couple of weeks and I’ve seen a problem and that’s Transgrancanaria – a race I’ve been looking forward to since the moment I heard about it. I signed up in a moment of madness just prior to my attempt at the CCC but after my failure there I regretted the entry.
The reason I suppose is not that I believe I’ll fail at TransGC – quite the opposite infact, my training has been going well and my injuries haven’t been as hideous as in 2014. No the reason I’m not so keen anymore is that I think this big race so early in the year might negatively impact the rest of the year and I’ve got some properly interesting stuff waiting in the pipeline. I’m already in for Country to Capital again, I’m off to the Skye Ultra Trail and I’ve made my first tentative enquires about running the Leeds-Liverpool Canal 130 for my big A race of 2016 and then I’m hoping to finish the year with Haria Extreme in Lanzarote (another reason to not do TransGC – I don’t want to visit the Canary Islands twice in a year).
As an alternative to TransGC too we’ve got The Green Man Ultra which I’ve been wanting to do for absolutely ages and it’s the same weekend, so I’d still get to ultra, just in a more Bristolian way!
So the question is chaps, do I just let the entry to TransGC slide away and continue on my path of running smaller, potentially more ‘me’ ultras or should I just say sod it and run TransGC anyway and hope it doesn’t ruin me for the other races?