So for a bit of fun, Rebecca “Coxy” Cox, a cheeky but sadistic personal trainer, and myself were putting on a training day for the lads of www.mh2yh.com, 10 chaps of varying fitness, attempting to cycle, swim and run from London to Amsterdam in aid of Parkinson’s Disease. My House to Your House they called it.
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.
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.
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
The Hardangavidder, the biggest mountain plateau in Northern Europe and where the top Polar expeditions come to train, so it makes sense that ITACE 2014 (www.south2014.com) has come here for our first major Polar skills training jolly, two weeks of tents, skiing, kiting and all kinds of shenanigans… Read More
So now Moses Kiptanui has come forward and claimed that doping is rife in Kenyan athletics, to add to the claims and positive tests in the last six months. Whilst it is a horrible thought, it is nothing new, Kiptanuin was complaining about doping back 2003 after Bernard Lagat’s failed tests (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/athletics/3084110.stm). So why does it make me feel a little sick to the stomach and why does it make me feel like we are on the edge of a much bigger story?
Back in 1960 Abebe Bekila won, barefoot, on the cobbled streets of Rome. He won the Olympic Marathon without even the advantage of wearing shoes (whether or not this is an advantage is another debate altogether), but it was a significant act that would have long felt repercussions in distance racing, East Africa was awoken and marathon runners everywhere would live to rue the day.
Many simply explain the rise in Kenyan and Ethiopian distance runners as “genetics”, saying “oh they are simply born a lot better than the rest of us”, but this is not the case. A very interesting book by Matthew Syed, titled Bounce, is a review of this belief and advocates that although genetics may pay a part in some sports (my NBA career was over before it even started), it is the case that purposeful practice and competitive, high level practice environments that create world class athletes, nobody is born a world champion.
Just being Kenyan doesn’t make you a great marathon runner, just ask my mate Alex Goodenough, whilst a top lad and decent rugby player, he won’t beat me over 26.2 miles, let alone Wilson Kipsang. It is Syed’s and other’s opinion that 10,000 hours of quality practice make a world class athlete and many Kenyan runners in the Iten area of the Rift Valley get these hours from an early age, running to and from school, training against quality opposition, receiving the high level of coaching now in the region as soon as their potential is seen. Runners in Iten are not all going to be world champions but many will earn a living as professional athletes or obtain college educations that would otherwise be completely unobtainable for a young villager in the Rift Valley ( which just so happens to be at a very good altitude for distance running).
In my humble opinion it is often poverty that is a driving factor in creating world class athletes are they are that more willing to put in the hours of quality practice as there is often no other way out, no more luxurious lifestyle. Look at basketball in Harlem, sprinting in Jamaica, football in Brazil, rugby in the Pacific islands. You have seen your forefathers achieve success and you know it is possible, then you put in the effort. It is not always the case but it does explain the large concentration in certain areas. If it were genetics then why do we not see any Eritrean marathon champions? Practice, purposeful high level practice and lots of it.
But what do recent doping allegations in Kenyan athletics mean? It means money and professionalism are once again corrupting sport and this, i believe unfortunately, will always be the case, I really think people should now focus on different ways of entertainment like slotzo.com games online since in other physical sports some athletes will always find a way to cheat. As long as there is money to be made people would look at shortcuts and it is a real shame as there are athletes out there who stay clean and see dirty athletes take the prizes and face the biggest challenge yet, do I follow the immoral trail and make a living or am I true to my sport? If you are running for the money, for the fame, for the lifelong security the prizes can mean for your family then that is an easy decision right? You cheat like everyone else and get what you entered the sport to win.
That is why I am happy to be an ultra marathon runner. Running a 100 mile race won’t pay the bills (it merely creates them), it won’t provide fame, except amongst fellow nutcases and, I hope, for this reason it also won’t attract the doping and the cheats. Part of me still lacks faith in the human condition and I have heard stories of athletes cutting corners and cheating themselves, but I hope they feel empty at night as it is only yourself who you are cheating. It just drives me to that finish line a little quicker, makes me train a little harder.
I’ll keep training and working towards those 10,000 hours and I hope, like many hope about Kenyan Athletics, that I never have to hear a dark truth about my sport, but if I do hear the stories start I won’t hide my head in the sand, Kenyan athletics needs to stand up and admit it’s problems, take a lesson from Lance, it’ll catch you in the end. Doping is a huge part of modern day athletics and it up to each individual to make their own stand.
Revenge, a dish best served cold apparently. So a February race on the North Downs
Way that was possibly one of my worst ever experiences first time round, a knee
injury causing me to walk the last 13 miles and finish long after dark.
To say I've matured as an ultra runner from 2009 would be an understatement but
also XNRG, the Pilgrim Challenge organisers, have gone from strength to strength
and they offer some of the best value for money and the most fun for a messy
weekend in the country.
66 miles over 2 days along nice, muddy, hilly trails, all leaning slightly to the
south and heading over some of my favourite hills including the meaty Box Hill
with its stepping stones and steep steps! Team 9bar were there in force with
Justin Montague (last year's winner) and myself, as well as Liz and Alan armed
with a bucket full of healthy goodness! Daryl Carter (2012 Brecon Beacons Ultra),
Craig Stewart (2011 GB 100k champ) and Sondre Amdahl (2012 Ultima Frontera 83k
winner) all lined up at the start and we were good to go!
|Justin and I at the start with Daryl Carter (30) and Danny Kendall to the right|
The starting pace was electric, led by Sondre, it was all I could do to hang on
for dear life but I was happy to be pushing myself to such a level, chucking in
miles well below 7 minutes off road, on hills and through mud. A lead pack soon
emerged, then reduced to the three of us and before long Sondre and Danny Kendall
were off into the distance. Haribo and 9bars at the checkpoints kept me going but
my pace definately dropped as the course went on. I just hoped the front two
hadn't kept it up I'd have no chance on day 2! I managed to hang on for a 3rd
place on day 1 in about 4:21, about 20 minutes behind the leader and a few
minutes ahead of Craig.
After some showers that were so good that they set the fire alarm off, a spot of
rugby and a carbo loading pasta meal, there was a talk by Andy Mouncey, a top end
endurance athlete and engaging public speaker and I won a pair of wigwam socks
which were rather nice to have on my feet for the Sunday. They fitted nicely in
my new La Sportiva Raptors, a comfortable off-road shoe with a good level of
cushioning and excellent grip. Not one blister from the weekend.
Then we all settled down into the hall ready for our staggered starts in the
morning, walkers at 7, elite runners at 9. The weather was looking fine, chilly
and windy on the Sunday and we the wind was coming directly at us but at the
start it was the same again when Sondre and myself pushed the pace at the front,
both of us knowing we had to make up some time to have any chance of winning.
Danny knew he just had to mark the front runners and Craig wasn't letting anyone
sneak away today, so the 4 of us went off.
At the first large downhill I decided that I had to try and make a break for it
and managed to open up a nice, 50-100m break between myself and 2nd by the base
of the hill. I hoped I could keep a study pace and keep ahead, or at least tire
the others out when they tried to catch me.
A lovely plan. In reality I was reeled in and spat out the back like a break away
rider in the Tour de France, allowing me to see Danny and Sondre disappear rapidly
up a hill, forcing me to throw caution to the wind and promptly get lost. Serves
me right for sprinting down another hill...
After choosing to add a couple of extra miles on around one of the small towns on
the route, I probably confused Craig a little by turning up behind him after the
last check and telling him that "Henrik was coming!" I then sprinting off like
a man possessed. With a couple of miles to go I saw Danny and Sondre up ahead,
about 500m away, and like an excitable dog chasing a car it has no chance of
catching, I was off!
We came to the nice grassy finishing stretch and the two leaders were totally
unaware of the mad man chasing them at full pelt in an attempt to change nothing,
they both had big day 1 leads. I managed to finishing about 5 seconds after them
and collapse to the ground, confident that whilst my effort was relatively
pointless, I would never have it any other way. Every Ultra marathon needs a
Team 9bar were there and XNRG's Neil offered a medal and
then I was left to recover on the finish line, not before shouting "has anyone
got a 9bar?" to keep the sponsors happy!
|Pop up flags are all the rage these days,I’m in a pile on the floor just next to these ones.|
So after just over 9 hours of running I was happy. Happy I'd come back and run
the whole course, happy that my fitness was at a pleasant level after Barcelona
and happy in the knowledge I will just keep getting quicker. Next race in Perth,
50k, sub 4 hours please, maybe another sprint finish?
|I recce’d the course online. I didn’t want last year’s winner, Kai Herzog, having too much of an advantage with the route.|
At the track I started to see some familiar faces, the formidable Garfield Jones, the rather pleasant Matt Moroz, who’d been at UTMB and Tooting Bec, Mr. John Pares, GB 24hr hero and the new face of Richard Brown, manager for the GB 24hr squad who had been here to help Lizzy Hawker (who unfortunately had to withdraw with a niggly injury) and myself run around the track. Richard is a fantastic runner and race walker who held the JOGLE record, going quicker than most that cycle the distance. With my beautiful assistant Micky Seymour, the lovely Anne and the experience of Richard I really had no excuse but to run the 230km required of me. I was set a steady pace by Richard: to run the 230km I just had to run each 436m later in 2 minutes 30 and keep that up all night long. I had my usual stacks of food, including malt loaf, cheese, flapjacks, crisps and some sandwiches. I had a ban on sugar until the 12 hour mark but I knew my faithful jelly meerkats were there, waiting for me to gobble their little heads off. BRING ON 12 HOURS!
|Turn right, turn right, turn right, turn right. The race briefing was complex.|
|Ah, ah, ah, ah Stayin’ Alive. Just about.|
|(L-R) Matt Moroz, Oliver Leu, Moi, John Pares at the finish. I’m just getting something out of my eye.|
Next year I will be again supported by the great guys at 9Bar (www.9-bar.co.uk) and I will also be part of Team Centurion with James Elson, Drew Sheffield, Neil Bryant, Paul Navesy and Ian Sharman, a great bunch of lads (www.centurionrunning.com/team-cr). I know it is just the start of things to come and I won’t be happy with less than 240k in Holland so I best get a bit of work done before hand and start stockpiling those jelly meerkats.
Before I jet off to Barcelona in the morning for my next race and having upped my training mileage to a reasonable level for the first time in this lovely Autumn/Winter season there are a few things I do to try and keep myself going and getting out of that door and I thought I would share them with the world.
1) Make a plan, write it down and write down your progress (alternatively use one of the fancy online equivalents, I just like having a little notebook)
2) Get on the trails, the hills, the footpaths, just somewhere a little more interesting then your normal run. This isn’t too difficult if your normal run takes you along the Old Kent Road and through Lewisham… Good for Fried Chicken stops though.
3) Get competitive. Race your own times on similar routes. Race friends times. Think about how the training will help in the season to come and how that chap in the hognail boots with the limp won’t beat you next time, because he’s tucked up on the sofa eating PIES. I did take this tip from a Lance Armstrong book though, so maybe this is cheating?
4) Make it part of your journey or a commute. I jog to my climbing gym, mainly because I am poor as dirt, but also because in my mind, I have to go there, so I have to jog 15 miles and if I stop, I’m in Catford or Lewisham and I’ll get mugged. www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/2437568.0/
5) Go on a treadmill in a nice warm gym. Not really. That is no way for any self-respecting person to improve their cardio-vascular performance as the counter-effect of “becoming a wuss” will slow you down in the long run.
6) Get a friend to keep you company, then you feel bad if you let them down, or some similar feeling. Or the misery is halved. None of my friends want to run with me any more, anyone fancy 30 miles on Sunday on the North Downs Way?
7) Book a little race, like the Grand Union Canal Race (www.gucr.co.uk), the Thames Ring (www.tra-uk.org/thames-ring
), the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (www.ultratrailmb.com), a little Centurion fun run (www.centurionrunning.com) or Spartahlon (www.spartathlon.gr/en.html), and scare yourself into activity. That always works for me. IMAGINE FINISHING BEHIND JAMES ELSON! Or not at all?
8) By far the most effective method of getting out of the door and training, for me personally, was the decision to move in with my father for a short time. That man could drive me to the ends of the earth with his lectures, drunken rambling and skewed sense of right and wrong. Just live with someone you don’t like talking to, works a charm.
for next years World Championships in Holland and I’m feeling confident. I’ve trained hard, I’ve downloaded some Infant Sorrow and Lonely Island tracks (check out Youtube for a laugh) and I’ve had a haircut so I’ve got no excuse now, I’ll just churn out those miles. FINGERS CROSSED. Follow on www.corredors.cat if you like?
After a summer in the Arctic Circle with youth development charity the British Exploring Society, I had managed a longest run of 6km and clocked a few good days of hiking and crossing glaciers, but most importantly, I had rested my body and let it recover from the niggles picked up during March’s 100 miler and May’s England 24hr Squad. Plus I had become quite accustomed to atrocious weather and, as will become apparent in a paragraph or two, this could have been the best bit of prep I’d done for a race in a long while. I got back from Arctic Norway on the 27th and was back at Gatwick two days later and hoping that my travel into to Switzerland this time involved a little less nudity than the Basel jolly (I had my mum with me and she would not be happy if I got pulled over at Customs like Howard Marks on a “business trip”).
|The Start. If you look carefully you can see James and I in the middle looking little two little kids, with Mark Collinson, Luke Carmichael and Paul Bennett|
I did have a carton of beetroot juice to help me performing at altitude and the study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was beautifully paraphrased by the wonderful, hate and fear-mongering Daily Mail but what they don’t tell you is what happens if you drink a litre in one go and what kind of affect this will have on an athlete’s performance. Therefore don’t try and take a litre through customs and then drink it all.
My body was extremely unhappy with the beetroot but it had not dampened my spirits, this race has been something I’ve been looking forward to all year and now the nice 105 mile race was promising to have bloody horrible weather to make it that much sweeter. The UTMB race directors had text everyone warning of rain, snow, winds and temperatures of -5°C and the necessity of at least 4 layers and I saw this as a great sign. 6 weeks of rain, snow, wind and cold temperatures in Arctic Norway had hardened this soft city boy and I was one of the only people in Chamonix urging the weather to be nasty as others would drop out I thought and I would not. I did not however have the previous experience of Centurion Running’s own James Elson, here on his 3rd attempt to run the full 100 mile UTMB course, James had seen bad weather at the race before and what it could do to the course. With James as a bad luck charm, it was only a matter of time until the race directors did what they had to do and let everyone know that we wouldn’t be going up any mountain passes, we’d only get to run in France and, the worst news, we’d only get to run 100km with 6000m of climb. My first reaction was anger and disappointment. I had come all this way, a lot of money had been spent and now I was going to have to run a race that was a little too short for my liking.
I did cheer up though when I saw Luke Carmichael and James Elson as James looked so miserable I had to laugh. Now 3rd time unlucky, will this chap ever get to run the UTMB? Has he done some unspeakable wrong in a former life that deserves this treatment from the French Alps. I reckon so. Chatting to other runners and supporters did help though and it wasn’t long before I remembered how lucky I was to be out in Chamonix to run this Diet version of the UTMB and it would just be a good introduction to the serious level of racing on the continent. Every other person in Chamonix looked like a top, elite Ultra Runner and I knew this was going to be a massive challenge. Even though I was here just to complete the race I had wanted to run under 30 hours and now I didn’t really have a race aim or plan. I thought I’d just trot off at the start and enjoy my first 100k race. After failing when it came to resisting bundles of brand new gear in the ridiculous amount of outdoor shops I came out with a new Quechua 5l racing bag (30 Euros and a good alternative to the £90 Salomon equivalent) and some UTMB compulsory tights (3/4 length ones that are actually full length on my stumpy little legs). Last thing to do now was stuff all the required kit into my mincy little bag and get to the start line.
2400 people started the UTMB and nearly every single one of them wanted to get to Les Houches first, nailing it through the streets of Chamonix which were lined deep with hundreds of people and a far stretch from your usual ultra race start, where numbers can be as low as 10 including the racers! This was my first introduction to racing with poles (the long, sharp, walking ones not the tough, East-European chaps that can’t be underestimated in a race) and running along the streets of Chamonix the walking poles were out in full force, dangerous weapons of trail running. I wasn’t carrying them, it seemingly terribly un-British to have these poles helping you walk up a hill but I’m sure 100km of the Alps would probably change my mind about that and remember that I’m here to learn from the best. Anyway we steamed off, soon down to one layer, three less than recommended by the directors, and rather toasty. Maybe the weather would be lovely after all? Then we went up.
50 times this year and that is right steep, so when we got to the climb up to Le Delevret, about 750m, I was absolutely loving it. The course we had been set went over 6 noticeable high points but at times went uphill for miles on end and it was a little tiring!
|Anerley Hill, Crystal Palace. Perfect UTMB training ground you see!|
|The wonderful Jelly Meerkats.|
|The jog down to Argentiere, knowing that food was nearby|
|Support providing excellent support at the finish.|
Getting asked to represent my country is something I’ve always dreamed of, maybe on a football pitch as a youngster, but when I started running Ultra Marathons I knew I was still a youngster and that, potentially, I could one day do rather well at this sport I’d started. People peak in their late thirties to late forties in the sport and I thought that left me with a fair bit of time to get to the top, but in the past 3 years, since starting running marathons, I have somehow jumped up to running 100 mile races and become pretty good at it. I finished my last 100 mile race in 16:02 and apparently that was enough to get the attention of the GB 24hr Selectors. 24hr races are simply seeing who can run the most times around a set loop in 24 hours, ranging from a 400 metre track to the 1099 metre track I would get to saunter around in Basel on May 12/13th and the next youngest person to be racing would be ten years older than me. At 25 I was the real baby of the bunch and I jumped at the chance to run in an England vest for the first time, with the hope of running the 230k to qualify for the 24 hour World Championships in Poland in September.
After struggling through passport control and, after the strip search, feeling quite relieved that they didn’t search my bag and find the bundles of secret gels and powders I had stashed in there, we make it to where England Athletics had put us up, the Ibis Hotel in Basel and stuffed my second pizza for the day down my gullet. I went through my pre-race prep and tried to get some kip.
On the day we were in the middle of a Swiss sports complex, running around a tarmac track that went around a bunch of football pitches, set up by the Sri Chimnoy Marathon team there was tents for our crews, inspirational messages on the course, countless flags and a small glockenspiel style band that was to play popular Swiss club tunes for most of the night… At 12 midday we all lined up, met our individual lap counters and we were given a detailed description of the route: Take the first right, then turn right, take the next right and then le tourne à droite and repeat for 24 hours. The gun goes and we’ll off at a frantic pace and by frantic I mean snail paced.
|Jogging past our lap counters with Bislet 24hr Race Winner Steve Holyoak|
We watched a few guys shoot off but I was happy to jog along with Steve Holyoak (my fellow England debutant, but also winner of the Bislet 24hr Race) and John Pares (Top GB 24hr runner and Commonwealth Champion) and let the Swiss chaps shoot off at the front. The England contingent was completed by experienced GB Runner Heather Foundling-Hawker and Adidas Thunder Run Winner Karen Hathaway. One guy was lapping everyone extensively and breathing heavily on each lap. I was sure he wouldn’t be able to keep it up so we let him steam on, we’d pass him when he blew up later on. It was a bit of a rainy day but nothing too bad, we plodded on and, with the help of Team Manager Andy Smith, we ate, drank and were merry on the way round. 24 hours is a long race and you really don’t need to do any racing until the final 6 hours at the earliest so I settled in for a steady night. The leaderboard went up after 40 or so laps and it provided a small piece of entertainment to watch Steve, John and my name slowly creep up as the race went on. My early “pace” had given me a two lap cushion on Steve and John but I was happily lapping with them. It wasn’t until about 100 miles in when Samuel Nef, the chap who’d be puffing his way round at the front, suddenly crashed out of the race. His laps stopped going up each round and we were gaining as news went round that he’d done something to his hip and that it was his first 24hr race, proof to me that he’d shot off way too fast. I went through 100 miles about 20 minutes before 16 hours in a new personal best and I felt fine, whilst John had picked up a gear and we were now running on level par.
|England Base Camp – Team Manager Andy Smith and Karen’s Dad. A pleasure to see them everytime I went round, but unsure if the feeling was mutual.|
It was getting closer and closer to the 24 hours and nearer and nearer to the joy of being mathematically safe in 5th position but I wasn’t going to let the great support team down by finishing early, this was my first appearance in an England vest and I was going to give it all I could. I’ve not DNF’d a race yet and I wasn’t going to do it for the first time with a Red Rose on my chest! I pushed on towards the end and just about managed to hang
on to 5th place. Not quite the GB 1,2,3 that we were thinking about at 100 miles but I still managed 222.5km or 138 miles in the 24 hours and I was the only one in the top 10 aged under 45!
|How one should look after a 24hr Race; Shattered but satisfied.|
I’d been well on for the 230km at 20 hours and the wheels just came off a little in the last 4 hours, possibly because it had only been 8 weeks since my last 100 mile race, probably because I’d tried to race the Commonwealth Champion and gone for the win, but if you don’t try then you will never know. I do know that this is just the start of my 24hr racing career and if I don’t sneak into the GB 24hr squad this year (No dice, I’ll have to make do with UTMB) I’ll be back next year to earn a place myself and prove my worth. This is just the start and I know my experience with ITACE 2014 (http://www.south2014.com/) will only make a stronger competitor and vice versa, the physical and mental strength I gain from this races will put me in good stead should I make it onto the ground in Antarctica. In the final. few laps Karen Hathaway was unfortunately pushed into 2nd place after leading for hours, but it was a honour to see her push on to make the qualifying standard for September’s World Champs, displaying a such a strong desire to succeed I was hugely impressed!
|Steve, John Pares and I at the awards ceremony. Bother rather nice chaps!|
Needless to say I know that I’ll be remembered by the other GB competitors and managers I met that weekend, be it for my performance on the tarmac or as that strange young lad who got strip searched at the airport because he had sello-taped his photo back into his passport when it went through the wash. Let’s hope it is the former!
|England Team (L-R) Steve Holyoak, Heather Foundling-Hawker, Karen Hathaway, Me.|
|Just past the checkpoint and already a little behind Craig. I’d catch him this time but stick to to run/walk strategy.|
We got to Henley and not only had Richard Cross turned up with his little man bag of a rucksack to help me out, my father and his mate Micky Seymour were there to put together the dream team of a crew. If you thought I could talk, my dad is a brilliant tonic for checkpoints and along the trail, he’ll talk and talk and talk and before long you’re flying out of checkpoints just to get away. The pair of them really keep me going though and at the NDW 100 last year I couldn’t have done it without them because more than anything they believed me when I said I could do it, that I could run it under 16 hours, they had long since given up doubting
that I’d lost my mind when I started running Ultras. Far from it, I finally seemed to know what I was doing for a change! Even if Mark Cockbain at Marlow checkpoint informed me I was going too fast and if I hoped to conquer his Viking Way I best slow down.
the van. Dad, Mick and I had a long drive home to SE London and I needed some rest.