Tarawera 100k 2015

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When you fly to the other side of the world to run a 100k trail race that you have to give it a go right? Well, 
that's what I've been telling myself since race day and it was all going so well until three quarters of the way 
through the race until I started my usual party trick of vomiting everywhere. Nothing has changed that much from 
my nights out at university really? 

When I got an email in December from the Ultra Trail World Tour asking if I would like elite athlete support I
thought it was a little bit too good to be true, especially when they agreed to fund a trip to run one of my
bucket list races in New Zealand.
Running around for some photos in forbidden locations pre-race. Lyndon Marceau
Running around for some photos in forbidden locations pre-race. Lyndon Marceau
It's the biggest thing I've got out of this running lark so far and I was really excited. Training went well for
January and three big weeks got me in good shape before my taper and thirty two hour set of flights. I had a good
 mix of hills, speed-work and mileage that had knackered me out but, with some good rest in my taper, I was happy
 with how the legs were spinning over. 

The level of competition was getting stronger and stronger as the race got closer, with international athletes
such as Dylan Bowman, Jorge Maravilla, Yun Yan-qiao, Pao Bartolo, Mike Wardian and Vajin Armstrong lining up at
 the start with a twenty four hour running inspiration Yoshikazu Hara, who had run 285km in December toeing the
 line as well, I knew that if I raced sensibly and finished strong, like I know I can, I could maybe break the
top 5 or hit the podium. 

With a rousing Haka at the start, whilst I was hidden in the bushes for a final pitstop, the race got underway
amongst the great redwood forests of Rotorua, with some sick single track trails ahead for us to enjoy. Pockets
 full of homemade rice cakes and some CLIF shot bloks, the legs and mind were feeling good and I felt like I
belonged on the front of the thousand runners lining up for an adventure.
Lining up at the start facing an adrenaline pumping haka amongst some top ultrarunners.
Lining up at the start facing an adrenaline pumping haka amongst some top ultrarunners. Lyndon Marceau.
When discussing the race beforehand with the other nippy chaps they had all hinted towards an easy paced start
for the first twenty or thirty kilometres to ease us into this early season race. Unfortunately no one had
mentioned this to Yun, who was dead set on an improvement on his second place finish last year.

Expecting Bowman and co to mark such a strong move from this omni-smiling North Face runner I just settled in
behind him and trotted along. It felt a little quick but I figured he'd settle down when he realised the chaps
ahead were only racing the 60k race.

No such luck, as I let Yun race Moritz just ahead as I knew he was planning on a slightly shorter day than us. I
settled into a rhythm and enjoyed the wonderful crowds and volunteers at the aid stations and chowed down on my
food every half hour. Bryon Powell was pretty shocked to see me in second early in the race, a little wary that
he might actually have to interview this cheeky little British chap for his website irunfar.com one day. One day
 you will have to Bryon and I know you'll enjoy it. 

Mr. Bowman, a fan of the game of darts and a dedicated Phil "the Power" Taylor fan, came past at about 50k into
the race and moved very strongly uphill, so much so that I just had to let him go straight past. He was having a
great run and would smash the course record in a wee while. Then I went past Yun & Moritz after we all took a
slight wrong turn into some bush and I was to have the pleasure of Yun's company for a few kilometres after that.
Majell joined at 55k & 2nd Place, yet we finished in 7th... What's going on there Maj? Kurt Matthews.

Majell joined at 55k & 2nd Place, yet we finished in 7th… What’s going on there Maj? Kurt Matthews.

From 55k onwards I was joined by Majell Backhausen, pronounced My-Elle I learnt two years too late, to pace me
through to the finish. He was in town for a wedding so it seemed like a good chance to catch up with a friend who 
lived on the other side of the world. 

Yun and I were having a great little ding-dong battle along the trails, both struggling over fallen tress due to
our less than giant frames and sneaking underneath some that I'm sure Bowman and Maravilla, now ahead, would have 
hurdled. Good things come in small packages eh?

After watching Yun grin wildly at every obstacle so far, even when we interrupted his pit stop on the side of the
trail, it wasn't good to see him slump down into a chair at the 70k checkpoint. We had been pushing each other,
racing for third now, for 70k and now he just had nothing left.

Powering out of the 70k checkpoint, happy that I was leaving Yun behind, it wasn't long before my body decided
that I was trying just a little too hard. The racing had meant that it was happy to run or digest food, but not
both, and I chundered everywhere on the loop of despair, as Hara literally jumped, skipped and hopped up a gnarly
looking incline I was stumbling up.
Determined to keep moving but feeling empty at 85k
Determined to keep moving but feeling empty at 85k
This was not unusual territory. I knew I had to get fluids, electrolytes and energy into my body before it chucked 
them out again so I continued eating as much as I could, but energy levels were real low. Flat and downhill were 
fine but any type of incline just sapped me and I slowed to a crawl. Armstrong passed at 85k, Wardian at 95k and 
Bartolo around 97k, all with encouragement and good will. There really are so many nice blokes in ultra racing 
and they'd all been there.

My pre race aim was sub 9 hours so coming through the finish at 8:45:11 was something I might have taken at the
start, but on race day I had to make a decision in the thick of the action. I could have eased off, let Yun go
and tried my best to finish in the top 5 or I could try for the win. It's a decision I'll make the same way every
time but if you don't go you'll never win. One day they'll not seem me again until the finish line.
Crossing the finish line with good friend Majell, even if I can't say his name. Lyndon Marceau
Crossing the finish line with good friend Majell, even if I can’t say his name. Lyndon Marceau
Overall New Zealand was a great experience, a country full of beautiful, green trails, super friendly people and 
enough mountains to keep you entertained for months on end!Majel and I explored the North Island afterwards,
tramping over Maungatautari, running up Te Aroha and sitting atop the Pinnacles on the Coromandel Peninsula, all
great adventures in their own right. I think I'll need to go back for the South Island. Maybe Tarawera needs
another crack too eh?
Dusty: Our trusted car/hotel/kitchen/wardobe for the North Island Tour. Majell Backhausen.

Dusty: Our trusted car/hotel/kitchen/wardobe for the North Island Tour & post run fizzy pop! Majell Backhausen.

A huge thank you to the UTWT, Paul, Tim and everyone at Tarawera Ultra, Majel, The Byrne family for looking after
me in Auckland and Lynn & the Tylees for being my co-adventurers around Waikato. Inov-8, Julbo and Petzl made
sure I didn't have to run naked, the sun didn't get in my eyes too much and I didn't have to run in the dark at
the start. The X-Talon 212s were awesome on the single track and I didn't smash my face into the ground once.
Hot Geysers and a mistimed jump seemingly make for a great photo. Alexis Berg.

Hot Geysers and a mistimed jump seemingly make for a great photo. Alexis Berg.

2015 is looking real nice.

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After my first year as a Team inov-8 Runner spent running around the mountains, 2015 is another fantastic looking year with a mix of mountains and running around in circles in a GB vest!

Inov8 on HelvellynTo start things off I’ll be running at Tarawera 100k in New Zealand, a beautiful course along the woodland single-track and lake side course out of Rotorua. I can’t wait to get into the thick of it and smash it down some hills in my X-talon 212s.

April see’s another opportunity to put on the hallowed GB vest and run around a loop in Turin to try and better my previous 239km best for 24 hours. We have a great squad going out there and I cannot wait to be part of it!

After Turin I’ll have some down time before heading to Portugal with Danny Kendall as a British pair at the Carlos Sa Geres Trail adventure. 4 days of beautiful mountain running trying to keep up with the quickest Brit at MDS ever. Should be fun racing friends Jo Meek & Holly Rush too!

So UTMB is the main focus for the year and after a reasonable 26:48 last year I know that to step up to the next level I have to be in the mountains to train for them so Paul Navesey, Majel Backhausen and I will be shacking up in Les Houches to give ourselves the best chance to compete in those massive hills!

There are also other possibilities about the year and an an awesome adventure with fellow Centurion Ultra Team runner James Elson, but more of that later in the year when we have the ball rolling.

All this wouldn’t be possible without help from British Athletics & the Ultra Trail World Tour, as well as my partners inov-8, Julbo, Petzl, TomTom, Big Balls Beanies and Lyon Outdoor.

I hope everyone is excited about 2015, I know I am!


New Partner Big Balls Beanies

New Partner Big Balls Beanies


How to stop the suffering of Ultra Marathons as quickly as possible.

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IMGP4651Whatever your reason for running an ultra marathon, be it a personal challenge, to raise money for charity, get yourself a sub 24hr buckle, enjoy a day in the great outdoors or be competitive, every wants to get a little quicker right?

Maybe quicker isn’t the right word, how about more efficient, more comfortable? I’ve run 100 miles in nearly 28 hours and I know it was a lot more comfortable, dare I say enjoyable, running it a little bit quicker. It just hurt less and I got to sleep sooner. I love sleeping.

I’ve decided to forego my right, by Fijian by-law 573, to an afternoon nap for the next few weeks and I thought I would try do something useful with my time and write a series of blogs about ultra marathon running and how to make it as easy as possible.
Running these races is never going to actually be easy but if you can make it 5% less difficult than “really bloody tough” then you’re going to enjoy your day just that little bit more and there is a bunch of stuff you can do to make it as easy as possible on the day.

Keep goingI’ve teamed up with www.run247.com and I’m going to break it down into five different headings, five things that I think are important to running 30 to 153 miles.

Each week I will write down my thoughts on those matters, hopefully get some ideas from some friends as well and some input from everyone else. 

I’ll keep them brief, light hearted and, fingers crossed, useful. The six things I reckon you can work on to get to that finish line a little speedier are as follows, with a link to the first article that went up yesterday.

The Need for Speed (speedwork & fitness) - 

Making it as easy as possible (Efficiency)

Eat, Drink & be Merry! (Nutrition, Hydration & Electrolytes)

Mind Games (errr…Mind games)

Check yourself before you wreck yourself (Pacing)

Feel free to drop me an email and mention anything else you reckon I could inlcude and I’ll do my utmost to make it readable and beneficial to all the crazy suckers who want to move long distances in a competitive manner.

The Need for Speed

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An article on Run247.com about why speed work isn’t just for 5k runners.


Run fast, race easy.

Box Hill Xmas Fun Day with Coxy & Robbie.

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December. It’s the season to be jolly, to sit around with family members whilst devouring whole boxes of Celebrations and to drink egg nog (Does anyone even drink that stuff any more, what the hell is it?). 

Well we thought that it would be best to earn that little off season with the family and get some hard work done the weekend before on a lovely hill in wooded Surrey, so Coxyand I are going to dish out some Christmas Joy of our own, painful joy, to those who want to come down to Box Hill on Sunday 22nd December.

Same drill as usual, drop me an email at Robert.britton@live.com with the heading “All I want for Xmas is some suffering” and I will add you to email list with all the details.

It will be 3 hours maximum of hill work, functional exercises, trail running and good fun from 11-2 on the Sunday and afterwards we shall be hitting a local pub for a feed up and some beverages if they allow us.

Think of it as a horrible present from us to you…

Box Hill Training Day – 9th June. Are you in?

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Are you training for your next big challenge, be it the Three Peaks Challenge, your first marathon, triathlon, Ultra marathon or some meaty 100 miler?

Team GB ultra-marathon runner Robbie Britton and Life after Desk PT Rebecca Cox lifeafterdeskpt.com want to make you suffer a little, just a little, to make sure that when it comes to race day it will take some serious shit to stop you moving forward.

For 3 hours of your life you can come down to Box Hill, Surrey and get a tough training session to help you pace, increase mileage and most importantly endure. You’ll also get some great tips on how to prepare for the big day, manage nutrition and cope with the latter stages of a strenuous physical event.

Hell, the pair of us have both run 100 miles in under 24 hours, Coxy crawled across the desert with shredded legs and I managed a cheeky 149 miles for Team GB at the 24hr World Championships in May. We’d like to think we know what we’re doing.

The cost? The only currency we require is your time and a little bit of misery. Spaces are limited so email me if you’re interested at Robert.britton@live.com. First session is 3p.m. on Sunday 9th June.

It’ll be fun*.


20130529-190711.jpgCoxy and I training the MH2YH.com boys. They still look happy, right?

Proud to be running alongside the Team GB Commonwealth Champion John Pares.

World 24hr Championships

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So I need to write about possibly the greatest weekend of my life and make it interesting for everyone else too. The World 24hr Running Championships in Steenbergen Holland and the first chance for me to wear the hallowed GB vest. Surreal doesn’t quite cover it… Bloody unbelievable? Phantasmagorical… I don’t even know what that means, but it may do.

After running 231km in Barcelona last December I had the chance to try and recreate, or better, that amongst some of the greatest 24hr runners in the World (including the best of all time, Yiannis Kouros, but more of him later) and boy was I going to take this chance. My training had PB written all over it, I felt good, felt strong, but now I had to come with the goods in the day. I couldn’t wait!

We flew out on the Thursday, Micky Seymour, the best thing to come out of plumbing since Mario and Luigi, and I jetted out and spent the day in Amsterdam where we drank coffee, ate sweets and had a peek at the naughty ladies (I’m not wasting my energy on them before you say anything). We met up with the squad and headed down to Bergen Op Zoom, the location of our Athlete’s Village. Athlete’s Village, hell yeah, I felt like Usain Bolt! I even took the chance to get in on the Japanese team photo and then run off before they noticed!

20130519-135309.jpgBefore anyone points it out, I’m the one on the left and I know I’m still not the tallest!

After an easy night I was up for breakfast but the world of International Sport was calling and I had been called for a doping test. I’m no fan of needles but I loved this, the fact that my sport was important enough to warrant these essential features of modern day athleticism. Only Big Time Charlie’s get dope testing and they wanted little me? This is how you pass a drugs test Lance, you twat.

With a sore arm but a sense of pride I now had to carry the flag at the front of the GB team for the opening ceremony and parade. Oh what a great honour my teammates had put on my shoulders, I thought. Turns out that carrying a flag for over an hour before race day is just something they wanted to avoid! Ha! I’ll carry it every time if needs be, I loved it, struggling to keep a childish grin off my face.


On race day we headed down as a team, with the likes of John Pares, Paddy Robbins, Steve Holyoak, Matt Moroz, Lizzy Hawker, Emily Gelder, Sharon Law, Debs M-C and Karen Hathaway we had a strong team, both male and female. The pressure had been put on the girls before the race but they had some strong personalities who were going to go for gold on race day, there was even talk of World Records.

20130519-112729.jpgThe GB team “Reservoir Dogsing it” to the start.

20130519-113149.jpgMick and I at the start. His support was invaluable. His humour, sometimes unnecessary, but often essential.

Wearing the GB vest and 2 pairs of shorts, just to make the most of it, we set off at 12 and people were flying! The Latvians were on a bloody mission, Matt Moroz was off with Lizzy Hawker at the front and Yiannis Kouros seems to be out to try improve his own records as I tried to mimicking his style from behind, albeit with somewhat limped wrists.


I settled into a wee jog, enjoying the company of the other athletes and plodding along, I wanted to maintain 11k per hour for the first 12 and then slow it down a bit so I dealt with 1k at a time and got on with it. The rain started. It was going to be a long night, but I felt NICE.


The pictures of the night are somewhat limited, mainly due to the pleasant, intermittent, torrential rain and the morale sapping hail. The forecast midweek had me worrying about overheating, the actual weather had me more concerned about drowning, I’m not the tallest of chaps.

Chucking on my La Sportiva Goretex Active Shell Jacket ASAP really saved my bacon that night. Runners were getting cold and having a torrid time, although it was no worse than a British Spring night (I.e. awful), the number of competitors out on the course reached a noticeable low during the evening as great runners had to take shelter and rewarm. The increased stress on the body of a 24 hour race leaves you much more susceptible to other factors you would usually jog off. I reached 130k in 12 hours, bang on target. Now to relax a little and ease to a 100 mile p.b.

At the 100 mile point Paddy Robbins was leading up the way for Team GB and reached a 100 in less than 15, a monster effort. Paddy’s night was not to be a good one though and he suffered in the small hours, having to take a break and having no energy. Unusual for such a strong runner who usually gets quicker as the race goes on but a pit of proof that he’s actually human and not an android set back in time to conquer the Grand Union Canal Race for the good of mankind.

At this point only Steve Holyoak and myself were out on the course for the men’s team, whilst Lizzie and Emily were having a bad day at the office for the ladies. Debs and Karen were plugging away and Sharon Law was cheerfully bouncing her way through the women’s rankings. The only bad point of Sharon doing so well was the infrequency with which I saw her in this race, normally jogging along with a row of men reluctant to overtake or trying to chat her up. Always a pleasure Sharon ;)

Food wasn’t going down too well at this stage but I was still munching some oranges and Cliff Shot Blocks, whilst vomiting every now and again. Morning was coming and it would soon be business time, time to get my act together and start pushing on!

About 19 hours in, fuelled by plenty of flat coke, I was feeling good and started to put in some quicker laps. It was at this point I considered the gamble. I felt good so should I pace it out steadily until the finish, still some 5 hours away, and hope that it all held strong or should I smash the hell out of it now, in the present? My legs haven’t been an issue in races, just my fuel, so I could move quickly and decided to go for it. Make hay whilst the suns shines (or not) as they say.

The next few hours were wonderful, I was lapping people, including Yiannis Kouros, and I felt real strong. Cor Blimey, I even posted my fastest laps of the race about 22 hours in! I was actually lapping the race leader, Jon Olsen, although he had a healthy lead by now, it helped with my confidence. Could I keep this up until the finish?

Alas, it wasn’t to last. I keeled over half way round a lap and threw up about 2 litres of Coca Cola, much to the delight of the nearby photographer who was snapping away. I haven’t seen the photos but if they come up on some fetish site could people let me know…

The last two hours were just a situation of hanging on and moving forward. John Pares, Paddy and Lizzy Hawker were all back on course and all moving round. Even Matt Moroz was putting the odd lap in to boost morale. It was a solid team effort and Steve Holyoak was doing the boys proud with a steady, mature, excellent race. The girls were chomping round too, with Karen, Debs and Sharon all adding to great over night totals.

20130519-115703.jpg Steve pounding round like the running Adonis he is. A fine specimen, with some excellent stories.

I had the pleasure of running my penultimate lap with Chisholm Deupree, a wonderful American runner who helped me when I was feeling low, in return for the encouragement I had given during the race. A real moment that reminded me why I loved ultra running so much. We’re all in this pile of shit struggle together, we’ll get through it.

Happy to finish my last lap near the start, I plodded round for a final one with a Union Jack across my shoulders, but Paddy had other ideas. The “A” standard for qualification was 239km, my last lap was 238.3 or something like that and Paddy was going to drag me kicking and screaming to that A standard. I smashed it round, slapping a few hands but I’d played up to the crowd the lap before, now we had something to aim for. The feed station was crowded with supporters but Paddy went first and was my battering ram. We knew it would have to be past the support tents but where that magical 239 point was, we did not know.


I gave everything I had left and sprinted until that final buzzer went. Once again I knew my legs had much more in them, much more. It is just a case of finding out how to get the fuel in. I crashed to the floor as the horn went, half tempted to throw my finishing marker as far into the distance as I could manage ( which would have been about 8 inches), I just laid it down on the floor next to me. If it wasn’t enough, then oh well, we’d tried.

Mick was there at the finish shortly, and solely to test the quality of Adidas’ waterproof top, I let out a flood of tears, emotion had got too much for me again, but they were tears of joy. The top worked, Mick stayed dry, and I recovered to let people know “I’m not crying, it’s just been raining on my face”.

239km? Did I make? Did I care? I went and sat down next to Sharon.

20130519-120853.jpg She had just set a new PB and a Scottish Record. Enough to secure the 3rd Place in the European Championships individually and the girls took 2nd i the European team event. Brilliant performance! The Team GB performance of the day in my eyes. Steve Holyoak was the top GB runner with 246 km. Great effort.

My results finally came through and it was 239.008km. Ha! I had made it by 8 metres! The first thing I had thought…I wish I’d of known, I could have collapsed 8 metres earlier! That last lap was more painful than anything I had ever done but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

At the end of the day it couldn’t have been done without the great support of my friends and family, the GB support crew, especially Micky Seymour and Richard Brown, the great team out there, all the other runners and everyone supporting back home on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks everyone!

What next? Spartathlon is the next big one, end of September with hopefully some other smaller ones in between. For Team GB? Next World Champs next year, I don’t mind if I do!

Evesham 45, some “wild camping” and a lot of sheep.

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With the World 24 Hour Championships in 3 weeks time in Holland I needed a last long run before the big day and I thought 21st April would be a good day. I couldn’t really find any events on that weekend of marathon distance (God knows why?) so went for the 45 mile Evesham Ultra in the lovely Cotswolds run by Cotswolds Running.

After arriving in Evesham on the Saturday night and practically sleeping in someone’s garden near the start, I then pinched a free breakfast at the hotel (I think the breakfast was solely for runners staying at the hotel but i was staying just outside) and got to the start line in my Team Centurion top and La Sportiva Raptors, thinking that the tough, dry, rocky trails underfoot would warrant a tough mountain shoe more then usual.

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Perth 50k, Craig Charles and the Anglo Celtic Plate

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Scotland, land of Haggis, mountains and cold weather (http://www.mydestination.com/users/mrcastro/bbb#tab) and the Perth 50k race and a 100k race that would host the Anglo-Celtic Plate this year. It was also going to be the setting for the Team GB 24 World Champs strategy meeting and a chance for a couple of us to prove fitness.

I have the joy of flying up, after bussing it up to Scotland last time, and I get to Perth and bump into Dave Mitchinson at the train station, who’s running the 100k for England and has never gone over 50k before. Fair play, I thought, although he didn’t mention his 2:18 marathon that led to this selection, but more about Dave later.
Meeting up with the rest of the team was fantastic, not only did we have familiar faces like Commonwealth Champ John Pares, Grand Union Canal Race monster Paddy Robbins, Bislet 24hr winner and Hezbollah Mountain Biker Steve Holyoak and Barcelona 24hr chum Matt Moroz, but there was also our medal winning and record breaking women’s team! Emily Gelder, Sharon Law, Debbie Consani-Martin and Karen Hathaway are a great bunch and have countless Uk Champs, Grand Union Canal, 100 mile and 24 hr wins between them.

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Epic on the Thames Path and a bit of sprinting in Scotland.

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After an epic weekend at the Thames Path 102, which saw great efforts by some first time 100 runners, course flooding, a near flawless effort by Centurion Running to stage another great race and victory for “an overweight alcoholic” (Martin Bacon’s words, not mine, I think he looked quite svelte crossing the line and picking up his beer) and Debs Martin-Consani, it is nearly race time for me and I am itching to get going, the TP runners really inspiring me in tough conditions!

I believe the Thames Path was much tougher than the conditions I had to run in last year, mainly due to the difficult ground underfoot. The cold weather wasn’t too bad for running, a little chilly for crewing though. I felt honoured to be able to hand out some very well deserved medals and hard earned buckles at the end of the race and most people thought I was James Elson anyway. They must have thought you got better looking after a couple of nights without sleep?  Read More

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