Wickham Whistler

DSCF4502Today I thought I’d try something different, a 3.5 mile, multi lap, timed event with a maximum time limit of six hours. The newly created On the Whistle Ltd (OTW) team had come up with this concept and seeing as¬†the Meon Valley Trail (MVT)¬†is quite close to¬†me I was keen to support it by entering. With today being OTW’s first event they must have been really pleased to have sold out a few weeks ago with 150 runners.

The MVT was origionally the railway line from Fareham to East Meon and today was the anniversary of the last passenger train to operate on the line some 55 years ago !!

The¬†Wickham Whistler is in reference to the guards whistle¬†so lets get all the puns out of the way now. Yes everyone had been “training”¬†and it was “full steam ahead” for the 9.30am start until the end of the tracks at 3.30pm. Race HQ was aptly named the Aid “Station” and¬†it was near¬†this tent that you collected your coloured wrist band after each lap.¬†When you no longer wanted to head out for another lap there was a bell to ring to¬†“signal” you had finished. I was aiming¬†for a steady¬†21 miles or 3 1/2 hours.

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Before¬†collecting my number I’d talked with Kiernan¬†E. from OTW who I know from being a director at the QE parkrun and it wasn’t long before I bumped into some familiar faces near the start line. Crusader runners¬†Paul Coates, Joy Rich Smith,¬†Sharon & Paul Gwyn as well as twitter runners Hannah & Graham and Phil Hobby from Stubbington Green runners.¬†Phil Hoy & Teresa from Second Wind Running¬†were there (well done Phil on your London marathon 2.59.47). I also spotted fellow blogger¬†shewhodaresruns Tina. However, the surprise of the day was¬†to see Steve Cousins from Film My Run who¬†takes his gopro to numerous races and his films are really worth a look at. You can read Steve’s report and watch his film of the Whistler here. Uplifting music,¬†creative camera angles and a real sense of why we run the trails.

So¬†the stage was set as¬†we stood on the “platform”, sorry, start line. The one factor that came across immediately was how friendly everyone was, local club runners, unattached runners and the quick boys all had time for words of encouragement as Kiernan gave his pre race talk. I think the nature of the six hour time slot had relaxed everyone so the concept really did work.

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The laps ticked away with the sun shining and thankfully the tree cover did mean we were sheltered from the direct sun but I still came away with a bit of a glow on my face as well as a great big smile.

Now, an out and back distance of 1.75 miles could be seen as a bit boring, however, this meant¬†frequent encouragement, banter, high five’s and either a smile or a nod to¬†our fellow runners, something that just isn’t possible in the pressured atmosphere of a 5 or 10K. The nature of the route also meant¬†we ran under four different railway bridges too !

There was a slight gradient on the outward leg but this naturally gave you a slightly easier return trip. My first 4 laps passed without any incident and, as well as chatting with people, I did enjoy that for once there weren’t any big hills to tackle. I love a hill but it does make a change to run a largely flat but still beautiful countryside route. Laps 5 & 6 were harder but still enjoyable. I left taking any video until the last lap,¬†then I rung the bell¬†and that meant the end of a great day.¬†Hopefully the film sums up the route and the people.

Considering this was On The Whistle’s first race it went without a hitch as far as I could see, so it’s a big vote of confidence to Kiernan, Claire & Del. As our American friends say the medal was “awesome”.¬†Race Results¬†I came 48th out of the 143. Finally a date for my diary July 17th and OWT’s World Emoji day run¬†with the same¬†6 hour format.

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Running Awards 2016 : #community

DSCF4472I’d like to say thank you to Strava and the Running Awards for¬†looking after¬†us Bloggers before and during the Awards. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone that voted for my blog which meant I could be shortlisted and attend.

As I made the two hour drive I pondered on how surreal the day felt. I joined twitter Christmas 2014 and started my blog a year ago, in that time I have talked to and met so many like minded spirits and that’s the beauty of¬†our running #community, so,¬†as The Clash once said it was “London Calling” !!

On arriving at the O2 I’d pre booked parking so there was no stress involved there and I had all afternoon to take in the sights and sounds of the area as well as the London marathon exhibition. On walking towards the O2 I saw this sign in memory of Prince which I thought was a nice touch, what with it being such an iconic music venue. Later that evening there was also a sign that referred to the¬†weather … “Purple Rain”¬† ¬†ūüôā

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As I caught the tube/train across to the Excel there was no doubt it was London marathon weekend as I saw countless club T shirts. I chatted to 2 Welsh runners on the tube and chaps from Exeter & Hull while waiting for my return trip. The Excel was a hive of activity with runners collecting their numbers etc before entering the Expo.

I’d sum up the Expo by saying it was like being a kid in a sweet shop.¬†My highlights were meeting Mike Gratton of 2.09, talking with the chap from the Lock Ness marathon¬†(“If you’re going to¬†put yourself through hell, you might as well do it¬†in heaven”) and the enthusiasm of the Runtastic people.¬†The Runners World Trailblazer lady was very interesting and I told the Saucony people how much I like my Peregrine 5’s.

I noticed the time was getting on so I made my way back to the car, full of anticipation for our run with the Strava guys out of¬†the Intercontinental hotel that’s just behind the O2.¬†A number of people including the bloggers had been invited to go for a run with the Strava representatives before the Awards and attend a Q&A chat with Parkrun COO Tom Williams, Strava UK’s Simon Klima¬†and Marathon Talk’s Martin Yelling. As I registered I recognised Runners Knees (ukrunchat’s Darren Smith) from our twitter conversations and we were paired up with room keys to change in the hotel and shower after (separately) ūüôā

As we stood outside the hotel for a quick H&S chat¬†our group included¬†Susie Chan & Shaun Marsden, Runners Knees,¬†the The Mohican runner (Richard Hayes) and Nikki Jones, who is a local blogger and friend of mine, as well as her also being shortlisted for the Blog Award. I also chatted with Ryan from Ireland and Shaun about his recent Arctic adventure. As we reached half way this group selfie in Greenwich Park, from Susie, summed up the informal chatty run that we’d been on. The 6.6K also ran along the Thames to give us that “London” feeling.

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I apologise to the other guys for not¬†remembering¬†your names. We headed back, showered and changed and¬†as we¬†walked over to the O2 Indigo Rooms I chatted to Ian Visser who concentrates on speed, hence his twitter name & blog being called Sub what ? The awards styled “running man” outside was a reminder that there would eventually be winners later that evening but¬†to be honest I was chuffed with my shortlisted lanyard.

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The other Strava groups gathered in the Balcony bar as well as¬†our guests for the Q&A. We talked about the impact of parkruns, the growing strength of Strava with photos to develop¬†more of a¬†social media side and all three guests kept up a lively and interesting chat with the banter we have come to expect from Marathon Talk.¬†Food, drinks and more chatting followed in another bar and then it was time for the Shortlisted bloggers to join the rest of the “downstairs” invited guests.

Photos : The Balcony bar & the dinners downstairs.

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With wine and beer available on the table I carried on with my coke (hey ho !!) and I chatted with Rhona Red wine runner who’d come down from Scotland to combine the marathon with the awards. I cheered loudly when Absolute Running placed third as they are my local running shop. Equally ¬†I’ve chatted to Andy Palmer recently from White Star Running so it was great to hear their name called out by Mike Bushell from the BBC who was hosting the night. Well done to everyone that was either shortlisted or in the top three for all the categories.

In the end my Blog didn’t feature in the top three but I’m pleased and proud with how far it has¬†progressed and¬†the new running friends that I have made along the way, in our great running #community. Happy Blogging !!¬† & there’s always next year ūüôā

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PS I may add more photos of the night as they become available.