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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Portland Coastal Marathon

If there’s one thing Britain has got in abundance, it’s dramatic coastline, providing the perfect setting for a series of trail marathons. The venue for stage 3 of the Endurancelife Coastal Trail Series (CTS) was Portland, and fitting perfectly with my build-up for the year, I decided to give it a whirl.

A 4.15am alarm call on Saturday morning was a real shock to the system, but as soon as my mind had triggered there was a race to be run, my heart rate instantly doubled and I was fully awake and getting ready for a 5am departure.

Event HQ was the impressive sailing academy at the end of the causeway between Weymouth and Portland, a cracking facility which will no doubt have an important role to play when the Olympic sailing competition comes to town in 2012. There were three race distance options to choose from: 10km, half marathon and marathon. The marathon it was.

The marathon race start was at 9am, the route being a two laps of the ‘island’, pretty much following the perimeter coastal path with a short out and back section along the causeway at the end of each lap. I started fairly conservatively, admittedly feeling a little rusty after a recent manic period of travel and work, but I made sure I kept in touch with the two guys ahead who were evidently feeling a bit fresher than me. They were roughly a couple minutes ahead of me by half way and if anything, were starting to pull away. Perhaps having shaken away the cobwebs, or gaining a mental boost from starting the second lap, I started to pick up at about 15miles and found some extra strength to push on which I consciously did. As I did so, I started to catch the half marathon runners who set off on the same course 1.5 hours after us.

By this point I was certainly a man on a mission, now into second place, on the hunt for first, but having the problem of overtaking runners on the narrow single-track section of the course. One-by-one I politely asked the runners ahead to give way, but there were hundreds of them! They all kindly allowed me through, but it wasn’t an ideal situation when there was serious racing to do! By about 20 miles I started to reel in the leader, and at 21 miles overtook him, pushed hard to build a lead and held on to win in a time of 3hours 36minutes. It certainly wasn’t a quick time, even for a trail marathon, but the course was technical and the going along the beach sections extremely slow.

All in all it was a great event and well worth the trip down to the south coast. The organisation was excellent, the course well marked, race HQ facilities impressive and Portland provided a perfect setting for some superb trail running.

See results here: http://www.endurancelife.com/assets/results/2009_cts_portland.htm

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cannock Chase Trig Points Race (15 miles/ 1500')

I’m not sure the text book of ‘peak performance’ will tell you to run 80 miles in the 6 days before a race, but the opportunity to run the classic Cannock Chase Trig Points race on Sunday seemed too good to miss, so after noticing it in the FRA calendar on Saturday morning (after a 10 miler) I decided to give it a whirl.

The format of the race seems to fit perfectly with the time of year - rolling runnable hills on most well formed tracks and trails - making it not too severe and a great interval training race. Well that’s how I approached it anyway.

Conditions were surprisingly good, much milder than it's been of late, albeit fairly windy on the exposed tops. As expected a couple of guys went blasting off from the start, but I happily settled in with a group further back, reassured to have others with route knowledge around me. I honestly don’t have a clue when it comes to navigation and Cannock Chase area, it was the first time I’d step foot in the area, so I was really in the hands of the goods, or should I say the lad from Mercia Fell Runners who in our group and seem to know all the quick lines. The most part of the route followed the main tracks across the chase, but there were also plenty of the usual cut throughs and fast lines which give added excitement to the fell races (and get the adrenaline going when you go wrong).

I stuck with the group of five or so runners for most of the race. I don’t think I was the only one in the group benefiting from the Mercia FR guide. Despite plenty of mileage during the week I felt pretty strong throughout the race, and probably ran a bit within myself during the second half, but the risk of going astray if I had pushed on was high, and one not really worth taking. It inevitably came to crunch time on the descent from the final trig point – when we all knew where we were going - and the group split by means of an all out sprint down to the finish. I think got a bit caught off guard with it all, but managed to wind it up sufficiently to make 5th place in a time of 1h48mins. I was fairly pleased all things considered.
I have to say that in terms of enjoyment it was up there with the best. No pressure, a great bunch of competitors and well organised race. Looking forward to next year’s race already.


Friday, 2 January 2009

Mud, Sweat & Tears

Just stumbled across this great new website which has loads of interesting material about all things off road running.