Race Reports

London to Brighton Run (57ish miles)

/media/22617/Emma UltraRun.jpg

This race is billed as a challenging self-navigated off road run from London to Brighton, facts which I am not sure I really understood when I entered. The more people I spoke to, the more horror stories I heard about checkpoints being abandoned and bags just left at the end, and the more concerned I became.

The fact that the map book only arrived 3 weeks before the race was not terribly helpful either, especially since I had begun to recce the course as per previous years and there had been significant changes.  In fact I was more worried about getting lost than running the distance.  

However, I did manage to run the course south of the M25 in bits and pieces prior to race day, which calmed my nerves somewhat. 

Race day was a 6am start in Blackheath with registration in a TA hanger full of fit looking people and the discussions of previous races began.  It is pretty difficult not to doubt yourself when surrounded by multistage desert racers and people using the race as training for the 400 mile Arctic Yukon race, but too late to back out now.. 

I have to say the run was scenic, even through London.  The course ran through Lewisham, Bromley and to the west of Biggin Hill, crossing the M25 just north of Limpsfield Chart, then east of Edenbridge and East Grinstead.  The run then goes via Wych Cross to Horsted Keynes and then through Chailey Common heading south to cross the Downs at Black Cap, then through Falmer to Brighton.

The 5 checkpoints were well stocked with water, bananas and in the latter stages cakes, biscuits and also cold roast salted potatoes dipped in tomato sauce which have to be one of the most delicious things known to mankind when running this distance.  

I managed to go off course 3 times (once was in Ashurstwood which is a part of the course I had run in training) but nothing too terminal, adding 1 or 2 km at the most and was never running alone.  The people were friendly and happy to chat as we ran which was encouraging and also useful as many of them had a great deal of ultradistance running experience.  I did meet 2 other people who were also doing their first ultra and both finished just ahead of me.  I was pretty amazed at the number of experienced runners who were happy not to look at their maps and just follow inexperienced people like me, especially when I was joined by Rob and Jamie, acting as tour guides for the latter stages of the run. 

Overall, the run went pretty much as expected for me.  I was comfortable until about 35 miles and then began to tighten up as we climbed from Weir Wood reservoir and it was then that Rob and Jamie's support was invaluable.  Rob ran with me for about 15 miles from mile 31 and Jamie joined us in Horsted Keynes at about mile 40 and ran to the finish.  

I enjoyed the day, despite the pain.  Interestingly I learnt that it is possible to run through pain and out the other side to a stage where running is actually more comfortable than walking (although up hills are still very difficult after 50 miles with weak legs).  I was pleasantly surprised that, even when we were within a mile or so of our house, I was not tempted to crawl into bed with a cup of tea! 

The low point was leaving checkpoint 5 knowing that I had the walk up Black Cap ahead, but thehigh pointwas reaching the top with Jamie and seeing not only the sea, but also Steve and Kay, which was a real boost.  I knew then I could get to the finish and promptly ran past 3 other runners, one of whom tagged onto Jamie and I and then finished with me.  He was a French guy called Sebastian and a mutual thumbs up was our signal to each other of a job well done. 

As I look back I am not sure I would do it again, although as my legs recover I could change my mind..  

All I know is that I could not have done this without all the encouragement from everyone I know.  It is fantastic to belong to a club where people don't tell you that you're mad when you suggest something like this.  Claire Cresswell deserves special mention for getting me to start running on the Downs and Rob for training and company on the day. 

I will be forever grateful to my amazing husband Jamie for putting up with my training and for his help on the day.  Not only did he run about 20 miles with me, he kept my spirits up and force fed me jelly snakes on a regular basis to keep me going.  He always knows just what I need and that is just one of the reasons I love him. 

Statistics

  • 3 runs a week in training
  • Longest run 35 miles
  • Time to finish 12.24 (cut off 13 hours). 
  • Not sure how far I actually ran (Garmin packed up after 65km)
  • Number entered 290+, 196 started and 88 finished

I finished 58th (7th female)

Emma Goodhead

 

Barns Green Half Marathon (1)

'Vincit Qui Patitur'


This ever popular hilly road race had 1,319 finishers. The impressive African winner, Yared Hogos, finished in 1:06:53 (a couple of minutes outside the course record).

This ever popular hilly road race had 1,319 finishers. The impressive African winner, Yared Hogos, finished in 1:06:53 (a couple of minutes outside the course record). 

A decent showing of 10 MSTC members produced some good performances and PB's in near perfect conditions. 

I had a nice chat with Rachel, Lucy, Emma, Mike and Helen before the race. However, I did not manage to meet up with Steve, James, Hazel and Martin at all. Helen was the only one I managed to spot coming over the finish line with a stunning sub-2 hour run that was 10 mins better than her previous best. 

Residual fitness from ironman training earlier this season allowed me to take 4 mins off my 2011 Barns Green effort to get a very pleasing PB. Funny how months of training/racing at HR 140bpm allows one to get PB's racing at HR 170+bpm. Thought I'd managed my first ever podium finish for this 3rd in age-group result, only to find this race only gives awards for 1st and 2nd in age-group! 

Gun times (no chip time available at time of writing)

  • Jim 1:22:36
  • Mike 1:28:16
  • James 1:29:28
  • Steve 1:32:32
  • Martin 1:37:25
  • Lucy 1:44:10
  • Rachel 1:46:38
  • Hazel 1:51:51
  • Helen 1:57:06
  • Emma....................chip failure.....finished in a good time apparently

By Jim Graham

Club Records: /about-mstc/club-records.aspx

Results: http://www.sportsystems.co.uk/ss/results/Barns%20Green%20Half%20Marathon/851

St Peter & St James Hospice

/media/22593/Charity letter logo.jpg

Charity letter.jpg

Le Jog Day 10 The Final Chapter

Tain to John o' Groats 89m 6h7m15s 14.54mph average

Total 904.3m

Our final day dawned bright and sunny. Quite remarkable because we knew that big storms were due for this area from the next day. The route north followed the dramatic eastern coastline but with a variable wind and undulating road it was not an easy day. We all knew that for the second day running there would be one evil climb somewhere in the middle. 'Watch out after Helmsdale' was the warning...... 

We stopped in Helmsdale for a brief coffee, as there were very few places open on a Sunday and then the fun started. The first skirmish was a steady 5% climb out of town for half a mile, followed by a brief flattening out. Then came what we thought was the main event with a 10% climb for about 2 miles, but it was a steady climb which we took in our stride. Churchill commented how he felt cheated out of a proper climb but was soon to rue those words. One mile later there was a dramatic descent with a 90 degree bend at the bottom, immediately followed by a hairpin bend with a 13% climb on the other side. This was about a mile long - and was much like going up Kidd's Hill, in length and difficulty, but the real problem was how strength sapping it was. 

After this the road was undulating and quite windy until we changed direction for the last few miles into Wick. Then we had a tailwind and were really shifting. We stopped at Tesco for a quick meal (we had long found that supermarkets on the outskirts of towns give you a quick decent meal at a sensible price) and were ready for the final stretch, 16 miles to John o' Groats. By this stage Churchill was beginning to suffer and anything remotely uphill was becoming a challenge. Everyone pulled together and we finally reached the outskirts of town and stopped for a photo at the town sign. 

The final mile down to the harbour will long live in the memory. The realisation that we had reached the end was just amazing. The Saint was waiting for us and went ahead to film the final arrival. 

From my perspective I feel this has been one of the hardest challenges in my life but it was made achievable by having the company of 4 super companions and the support of the Saint without whom the whole thing would have been so much worse. We have laughed so much over the last 10 days you would not believe.. In spite of our West Coast drenching we were remarkably lucky with the weather. Bad weather throughout would have been purgatroid - a new word coined by Saint but it sounds right! 

Summary

Ox (Ian Anderson) - super strong throughout, may need some new bib shorts !

Brace (Mark Jordan)- creaking bottom bracket, creaking right knee, (one of the 'limpers')  but never wavered and stayed very strong. 

Wobbler (Brad Williams) - creaky knees (the other limper) but always prepared to laugh from his belly ( you have to see the video when we can get it uploaded!!) 

Cling On (David Ricketts) - chuffed to bits to have finished and always maintained his steady pace. Will dine out on this achievement for many years to come!

Saint (Emma Alden)  - what can I say - indispensable!! Did so much behind the scenes to make the ride a pleasure for the rest of us. Thank you so much from all of us. 

Churchill (Steve Alden)  - Totally knackered!! But is he still bobbing his head ?  OH YES!!!!

 Photos here

 

Le Jog Days 8 - 9

Day 8

Dumbarton to Spean Bridge 101.18m 6h49m04s average 14.84

Total so far 728.96m

What a difference a day makes!!

Today we had virtually wall to wall sunshine although being so far north it has been quite cold. We were delayed at the start when Churchill realised he had a puncture. Further investigation revealed not one but two Dumbarton thorns had pierced right through the tyre. The first one was easy to spot but Brace's finger found the other!

Dumbarton is just on the West side of Glasgow, but is only a short distance from Loch Lomond. In bright sunshine the two hour ride along the lakeside road was amazing. We had to stop for a photo call to capture the scenery. Ox took a picture on Wobbler's
camera and he had to ask how to change the camera angle. 'Move the camera'  came the reply!!

Once we left Loch Lomond we started the climb into the Highlands - for over 5 miles, fortunately interrupted by a stop at the Crianlarich Hotel for a snack as there were no towns for the next 36 miles.
Luckily Saint stopped to join us and we were able to put on extra layers as in spite of the sun it really was very cold. We then carried on to the top, where the scenery was truly breathtaking, with high mountains all around, small lakes dotted about and the road rolling ahead of us. There was one more big climb near the ski area before the drop into Glencoe and some of the views here were stunning. The descent was fast and furious, and even Cling On got wind  burn
with his brakes glowing - at one point he thinks he may have hit 16
mph!

We stopped for tea and cakes in a tea shop in Glencoe village before
crossing the Loch and heading for Fort William, with Wobbler setting a very strong pace and the group functioning as an effective peloton. The last 10 miles to Spean Bridge was rolling with one final climb past the commando memorial to our B&B.

By mutual agreement, yesterday must have been one of the worst ever days cycling for any of us, but was today one of the very best?

Oh Yes!!

 

Day 9

Spean Bridge to Tain 86.34m 5h29m16s 15.73mph  average

Total so far
815.3m

Last night's B&B was the best accommodation yet. Our hosts kept shaggy, horned highland cattle which were totally friendly and happy to eat toast! The location was just North of Fort William under the shadow of Ben Nevis, so stunning scenery as well.

We awoke this morning to a thick blanket of mist as we were quite close to Loch Lochy. It was also very cold, about 4 degrees. We set off suitably wrapped up and by the time we rode through Fort Augustus the sun was shining. We then followed the West bank of Loch Ness, keeping our eyes peeled for signs of any strange beasts. Local reports did
suggest 5 strange beasts, but this has not been confirmed. The road here is surprisingly undulating so was quite challenging.

After a morning tea stop in Drumnadrochit we elected to go cross country to avoid going through Inverness. Here we found the one true monster of the day - the climb out of town. It had an average gradient of 15 % and was about a mile long but with the cumulative fatigue it was a really tough test. Some sections were very steep but we all got up - even the Ox had to use his granny ring but stayed seated whilst everyone else was standing on the pedals (except Brace who managed it even without a granny ring). The real reason Ox remained in the saddle was that he was hoping no-one would notice his bib shorts. He was wearing his special Ann Summers bib shorts again, but rightly decided to wear a second pair on top. The problem was that these were on inside out!! At least this way he got an extra days use out of them!

Once North of Inverness we had arranged a tea stop with some Help for Heroes supporters, close to the Cromarty Bridge. As we approached the Bridge we were cycling as a fast peloton, as one in perfect harmony. Everyone knew where the meeting point was and Brace was pushing hard at the front. Unfortunately he completely ignored the signs and bunting that had been put out for us and shot round the roundabout to go over the Bridge, closely
followed by Wobbler, whilst Churchill and Ox could only look on in dismay as they went the opposite way. Cling On came to the rescue and just managed to stop them going over the bridge and back to Inverness.

Tea and buns had been laid on for us and several local cyclists also met us there - they all seem to have done Le Jog at some stage so they really understood what we were doing.
After the very welcome tea we cycled the last 20 miles to Tain like an express train, alongside the Cromarty Firth led by the Ox.

So we now just have one day to go!!

 

Photos Here

 

Cast List

Ian Anderson - now known as 'the Ox' - for his formidable power over any terrain and in any circumstances.

David Ricketts - after tenaciously sticking to the back end all day yesterday - now known as 'Cling On' Cling On clung on as only a cling on can!

Brad Williams - needs no introduction as he is the legendary 'Wobbler' and has already lived up to his reputation.

Mark Jordan - now known as 'The Brace' after hobbling everywhere the day before the ride with a purpose made knee brace pretending to be injured before wiping the floor with us on his bike. Whilst riding if you hear the command 'Brace! Brace! ' it means that Mark has another puncture!

Emma Alden - now known as 'The Saint' for her amazing efforts behind the scenes, driving the van, making sure everyone has a proper breakfast, loading and unloading and generally being completely fantastic!

Steve Alden - now known as 'Churchill' - because of his natural leadership and organisational skills. NO - it is because he nods his head when he rides - just like the dog on the insurance advert - Oh Yes