Run for Felix followed by Chilly Hilly 10K

“Two runs and one great morning”, that sums up today in one short phrase. Felix lives locally in Swanmore and was involved in a serious traffic accident in October 2015. From being a high achieving young athlete he is now facing the toughest challenge of his life on his road to recovery. The 3.8K run through the 100 Acre Woods was the first fundraising event for 2016 with a number of others planned for later in the year.

The muddy cross country route started at 9.10am and the idea was for people to have fun running in the forest and also give donations. It was good to catch up with Emma Burton, thanks to Brian Penniall for telling me about the event and I was also lucky to have a quick chat with Felix dad, Stuart. There had been some good coverage in the local media but as I reached the start I couldn’t believe that there were a good 400 people there. I took it steady and aimed at weaving my way in and out of the masses. There really was a “feel good” factor and I’d imagine a lot of money was raised. The link to this run and other events is on their website. I was proud to have contributed to the £5,000 raised !!

100 acres 100 Acres with hundreds of people !!

After a quick clean up and dash across to QECP I was parked and getting ready for the 11am Chilly Hilly 10K. The chilly refers to both the temperature and the bowl of food at the end !! I was also aiming to meet up with a couple of people I’ve chatted to on Twitter, Kyle from Hackett massage and James from eGlove. James was busy selling gloves but I managed a quick hand shake and hello. Kyle said he saw me at the start but had to press on and leave as soon as possible. He certainly was in a rush, he came 3rd !!! #awesome.

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The 10K course promised to be very muddy and it didn’t let us down, I was really pleased with my Saucony Peregrine trainers in the testing conditions. We had a good turn out from the club as the photo suggests and there was quite a mix of local club runners too.

The route began on firm trails but we were soon on steeper muddier trails where the recent rain was also playing it’s part. I didn’t know the route that well but suffice to say there were endless ascents and descents which meant you never got into any kind of rhythm, in other words, proper cross country running. I almost fell just before half way but managed to rescue myself with some comic arm and leg movements to get my balance back. The combination of a chalk surface under the mud can make it like an ice rink at times. A big thanks to the numerous marshals and Pompey Joggers for hosting it.

We have two Rob Morgan’s at the club and English Rob was testing out his new Gopro so I look forward to watching that as he was near me for quite a while. Our post race chilli really hit the spot and Paul volunteered to take Kyle’s award on his behalf. So, when the two morning runs were coupled with miles to and from the start/finish I clocked 12.4 bringing my January total to 101.3 miles. Countryside running, “Simply the Best” !!

chilly First 3 Crusaders, Robert Morgan (Welsh Rob) 26th, Rod Nairn 41st, me 83rd !! Out of 231. Full Results

SDW & Staunton Way, “way” too much fun !!

As Paul Coates, Howard Stinton and myself chatted in the car there was a definite air of excitement and expectation which could only mean one thing, we’d met up for a long countryside run. The plan was 18 miles and 2,100 feet to start from the Sustainability Centre. Our 8am departure was met with quite low lying fog and as we were on top of the Downs the wind meant early morning egloves.

Howard set off at quite a spritely pace (his Ironman training is obviously going well) on the 4 mile South Downs Way (SDW) trails that led to Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP). The tracks wide puddles were a good indication of the conditions to come. As we descended from the top of Butser Hill you couldn’t see QECP, half a mile away, but the wet springy grass underfoot did need our attention, so we concentrated on that rather than the view !!

Once at the QE park run it was great to see a number of Fareham Crusaders, some running and some marshalling. I had a chat with Phil Hobby from Peak Health who was also adding extra miles and in no time we were off. Simon Hanson and Robert Morgan (new trail shoes) were to join us on our second batch of extra miles after the 5K. The park run itself was considerably heavier going than last week and as such a good test for us, while still being achievable for everyone. The forested 5K was an enjoyable two lap course of muddy trails. Results wise 4th Simon, 15th Paul, 19th Rob, 26th Phil, 46th Howard, 56th me, 78th Paula Williams, 79th Gary Galliford. Marshals, Sarah Beattie & Tracey Morrison. Well done all.

So, Paul, Simon, Rob, Howard and I set off on the next 6 3/4 mile leg of our run. Our first task was the climb out of QECP along the SDW, so soon after the hilly park run. I’d mapped that the park run had 450 feet and this loop 850 feet of “great” elevation ascents. The trail is firm underfoot here so good progress was made. My first surprise for everyone was a left hand turn onto a steep trail with a number of tree roots that leaves the SDW, now when I said it was a 100 feet, that was the elevation and not the distance so I did get some abuse at the top !! The wide forested track that followed led to an open field with no crops and compacted soil as well as a gradual drop down to New Barn Lane. It was here I realise I had a bleeding nose that had come from nowhere, but we pressed on.

Now, with any “offroad” running a downhill is naturally followed by an uphill, this was in the shape of a tarmac country lane moving onto a narrow chalk/muddy lane. As we passed through Chalton everyone was in good spirits and “enjoying” the terrain I’d mapped out and that none of them knew. We joined the Staunton Way for a long gradual climb back towards QECP that went on for ever !! We all had to dig in along this section and the fact that the fog had hidden the style and woods we were aiming for made it more of an unknown. After gels, drinks and some more “thanks” for the route choice, we were off again and joined the lower trail from the earlier park run which was now considerably more churned up after the 100+ runners from the hour before !!

Today was Rob’s first experience of a longer muddy off road and the first time I’d run with Simon, we shook hands with them and they both said they’d be back for more. So we “just” had Butser Hill and the last 4 miles left. Butser is about a 400 feet climb so this was done in combinations of running and quick walking, I have to say it was hard work and after reaching the top all three of us were thankful to of made it to 15 miles. The remaining miles were steady and satisfying in the knowledge that we’d done all the hard work. The chat and banter came back and it was all smiles by the time we’d had a cuppa at the centre and I’d also had a ginger beer for some added sugar !!

My Saucony Peregrine shoes that I got for Xmas were really comfortable and dealt very well with the conditions. Paul kindly took lots of photos and videos today and I’ve compiled the best of them into a video diary with music. All in all thanks to Paul and Howard for a great mornings running that also involved lots of like minded “off road” runners. It’s great to be out in the countryside with friends 🙂

QE Park Run, some extra SDW miles & 1,500 ft elevation

If you want a rural park run with some challenging hills and beautiful countryside you won’t do much better than the QE Park run. Situated in the scenic Queen Elizabeth County Park close to Petersfield the course consists of two laps that will test you with their ascents and descents. The nature of a park run is that’s it’s just that, a run so it can be treated as a great hill session which will improve your strength for both uphill and flat racing as well as quite simply being a great place to take your exercise.

I was meeting fellow Crusader Paul Coates with a view to adding some South Downs Way miles onto our park run 5K. On arrival it was -0.5 degrees and I was glad I’d brought my Xtreme eGloves with me that are suitable for 3 degrees and below (see my Reviews write up and the 20% discount that you can use). I was pleased to see both Ros Clarke who I’ve known for some time and Andy Paton (Liss Runners) both at the start line. I say start line, to be fair it’s a start hill !!

I introduced myself to Race Organiser Kiernan who I’ve talked to on Twitter before and it was time for the race briefing. Essentially we were to run through our forested surrounding and whenever we came to a junction, turn right. The cold air hit your lungs from the very first step and caution was needed what with the frost making the mud quite rutted but it’s always a joy to see so many people who may never race an actual race enjoying the park run experience. Results wise of the 78 people Andy P was 7th, Paul 8th, I was 35th and in 54th and with a course p.b. Ros. Great work guys. A great route, thanks to Kiernan and his team, I’d recommend it.

We then convinced Ros to join us on a section of The South Downs Way run. She wasn’t sure initially saying we were too quick but that isn’t always a factor in long distance training, time on your legs can be just as important. As we ran up the hill out of QECP the early morning sun was starting to appear and it must have been at least 1 degrees !! With the competitive element of the morning out of the way and a steadier pace it was time for some banter and a catch up. However, don’t be fooled, there are numerous short sharp hills along this trail and we were all still working hard.

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Google maps is a wonderful tool, here is a link to the cottage Ros wants to own and once you’ve navigated 180 degrees you can follow the street view by clicking ahead along part of the route that we took. I don’t imagine the fields, hedgerows and landscape has changed much out here for hundreds of years, it’s quite simply beautiful to run through.

My new Saucony Peregrine’s were great to run in and my Xtreme eGloves kept my hands warm, while still being able to take photos wearing them. Paul headed on further and I ran back with Ros, 11.4 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation for us plus more for Paul. A cracking mornings run with friends, looking forward to next week already !!

It’s Game on : 2016, I’m Mad for it

After the best part of 6 weeks with a cough/cold this afternoon’s run restored my confidence, self belief and hunger for 2016. I’m buzzing with anticipation and considering it was a boring steady tarmac run then “role on” the countryside miles.

After 4 runs that totalled 19 miles last week I must admit I wasn’t “feeling it” so todays run was still a case of exploring what stage I’m at. When running is such a large part of your life, if it isn’t going well, it has a knock on effect. Yes, I have to admit I’ve been Mr Grumpy recently but after today I’m back to being Mr Positive.

The run it’s self was largely uneventful as it was along the main road and apart from Titchfield Hill it was pan flat. The enjoyable part for me was the fact that I was getting descent lung fulls of air and this meant a growing sense of anticipation for 2016.

As darkness fell and only the street lights marked my way forward there was even less to look at but it didn’t matter because I knew I could start to think about planning ahead.

I’ve had a number of improvements lined up but they were all waiting for my germs to go. I’ve changed my watch to the Forerunner 305 so I can start playing with the heart rate option to run more efficiently with aerobic fat burning. I’ve got new Saucony Peregrine trail shoes and the kind people from eGloves have given me two parts of gloves to try (separate Blog to follow after next weeks forecasted cold weather).

On the back of all this positivity I now have to decided what to enter next.  The answer is The Imber Ultra, March 6th 33 miles and 3,100 feet of elevation. So my second weeks mileage started with 10 and finished with 27 #gameon !!

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