QE Spring marathon : 1,000m elevation in the 26.2 miles !!



Today’s marathon was one of those days were it was a pleasure to take part. Second Wind Running  (SWR) always put on a great race (I’ll let Phil off with the 26.6 miles as everything else was spot on). The combination of a challenging course (1,000 metres elevation), lots of trail running friends and the March sunshine made it a day to remember.

With the marathon setting off at 9.30 and the half at 10.15 there was a lot of activity in the race HQ area. I bumped into Mark from the New Forest as well as Paul, Allie and Richard from Fareham and Ian from Chichester. Paul Jeffrey, a fellow runner & blogger was there as well as Ros, Dean & Kiernan who were out on the course marshalling. It was also great to get a shout out from Fareham’s Mel and Trevor who were just arriving as the marathon set off. Ironically within a mile I was chatting with Thom from Fareham Crusaders who I’d seen on the race entries but didn’t know. We chatted briefly and agreed to train in the future. This pre marathon photo of the two Pauls and Allie shows you what a scenic location we were in.


The first 2 miles are largely uphill so the initial banter soon went quiet as we all pondered that this would be the same for miles 13 to 15 with today being a two lap course. Regardless of the incline I could hear lots of people saying how beautiful the trail and trees were as we threaded our way through the forestry commission woods.

A group of about ten of us had joined up and as we passed marshal Dean the pace was in line with a 5 hour marathon due to the frequent hills. I chatted with Ian from twitter/Chichester and he mentioned he had a 100 miler in five weeks !! By the 4.5 mile mark we had our first aid station. The group largely stopped on mass so I couldn’t resist running straight through so as to get a head start on the steep incline back out of the park. Today I had two 250ml and one new Osprey 500ml soft flask in my waist belt, these take up less room and work well for me. With five feed stations I only needed to stop at three so it saves a certain amount of time but more importantly you keep on the move !!


By the top of the climb I seemed to have distanced myself but I figured it would only be a matter of time before they caught me up. With us still relatively early in the run I spotted Stuart March ahead taking the official photos. As he appeared to be taking a long shot and a close up I had time to ponder on what pose I’d go for, as it was, I think the smile on my face summed up the whole day. Trail running with friends …. “it’s simply the best” 🙂


I thanked Ros for marshalling when I passed her and this took us down a welcome decent for a while. The sun was becoming stronger now and I exchanged places with brothers Simon and Jonny from Pompey Joggers for a number of miles. The Staunton Way took us back into the park with a long drag across the fields as we headed for the forested area. While I took a gel I snapped this photo to give a sense of the long drag.

DSC00252The second lap started with a slap in the face of realism, this was going to need some concentration. My legs were feeling good but I chose to progress steadily seeing as I haven’t run more than 17 miles this year 🙂 The Pompey brothers appeared again and we had some banter. It’s funny how we chose different sections of the hills to take short walks, so we kept on overtaking and reovertaking (made up word !!)

The Queen Elizabeth Country park was now full of visitors seeing as we’d moved into the afternoon. I’d kept my snood twisted around my wrist and this was very useful to wipe away the sweat from my eyes. After passing Ros & Kiernan marshalling at 19 miles the South Downs Way becomes a narrow tarmac (hilly) road that then gave way to a downhill section which meant my gps watch alarm went off for 20 miles (deep joy)


The drinks station at about 22 miles couldn’t come soon enough and I have to say I slowed down as we rejoined the Staunton Way for a second time. The final mile and a half through QECP was quite emotional because I knew I’d had a good run and shared the experience with lots of friends. The sound of a woodpecker echoed through the trees and the smile on my face was getting bigger each hundred metres.

My time was 5.07 which I was happy with considering the hills, heat and lack of 20 mile training runs. For a bargain £3 there was chilli con carnie & a roll on offer so I scoffed those down as I chatted with lots of the people I have mentioned. As you saw at the start of my blog the medal and T Shirt were eye catchers and I finished off the day with some photos of the people involved.

DSC00256This is my trail running best buddy Paul, then below me, Ros & Richard.

DSC00257And finally I owe a debt of thanks to Simon and Jonny who kept me on my toes for quite some time, thanks lads.

DSC00258 Last but no least thanks to Phil & Teresa from Second Wind Running for hosting a great race and a great day. Lots of complements, I recommend if you are in Hampshire, look them up 🙂 Yes trail running can be challenging but it is also very rewarding.


Free trainers for a year !!


I had some really unexpected and exciting news on Monday. This twitter post seemed too good to be true but sure enough, after replying, I found I’d won 4 pairs of Asics trainers. I’m not gloating, in fact I’m still in shock but tomorrow I’m off to Gosport to try on a selection of road and trail Asics running shoes at Absolute Running .

The random thing is that all I had to do was follow Asics (8,000 twitter followers) and retweet that they were celebrating their 1,000th tweet.

The moral of the story is, “you have to be in it to win it”, don’t delay, enter a competition today 🙂

I will post again as the story unfolds ……. Needless to say, thank you very much to Asics

#tobecontinued #luckylad


Gel-FujiTrabuco on the left (road/trail) good for the Spring Summer with firmer trails.

Gel- Kayano on the right, road shoe

Look forward to testing them 🙂

A 10 mile windy taper run, down to the Coast


With the Second Wind Running QE marathon a week away I chose a 10 miler down to the coast and back for my taper run. Generally speaking I try to avoid tarmac pavements but today it was worth it to witness the sight of the swell on a windy day. The combination of running against the wind for the first half and watching the kite surfers made for an interesting change in scenery.

Today, I also made the decision not to run with a watch. It’s funny how liberating this experience can be, no pace guide, no mileage guide. Naturally I had a fair idea of the miles I was running but it certainly added to the taper mentality by running how I felt and just listening to my breathing. I’d recommend this now and then because you relax into your run and find your natural rhythm.

The outward miles were against the wind which suited me perfectly knowing I would get the benefit on the way home. I ran past an old friend, Andy Rogers, on the way out. He was running in his Southampton FC top and no doubt had a few comments from passing Pompey supporting car drivers !!

The wind was certainly getting amongst the road side daffodils which meant they looked like they were dancing from side to side, all they needed was some music. Also the tall trees on the outskirts of Stubbington looked like the wind was trying to shake the very last of the leaves that Autumn & Winter hadn’t dislodged.


Once down at the coast I ran along Hill Head to try and get some photos of the kite surfers who were revelling in the windy conditions. In a way they were a little too far out to sea to get a good photo but at the same time they looked like colourful seagulls flying to ad fro. I ran down onto the beach and could taste the salt water that in the air.

I’ve always lived near the coast and days like today make you feel privileged to have it only 5 miles away.

DSC00227 Heading down Lee On Solent seafront there were numerous runners, cyclists and simply people out enjoying a mornings walk in the “fresh” air. I reached the half way point and noticed an immediate difference when running with the wind behind me. These seaweed covered boulders help with the beach erosion but also make a great contrast photo wise !! The Absolute Running breakfast club runners would have passed this way at 8am today, I was closer to lunch time 🙂

The second half of my run was pleasant with the supporting wind and my mind turned to the coming week. I’ll be keeping up my liquid intake up (no cider) stretching whenever possible and then hitting the pasta towards the end of the week. Am I prepared for 26.2 miles, probably not, am I going to let it worry me, probably not. I’ll start at a steady pace and use my local knowledge to spread out my efforts. I’m really looking forward to both the race and the challenge. The thousand metres elevation will be #hilltastic 🙂

My Trail Running Introduction in our local magazine :-)


I was very pleased to be asked to write an introduction to Trail Running for our local magazine. The links in a blog that I’d written were what the editor had seen so I was only too happy to put together a piece. The final result came out really well due to the layout that the magazines used.

The link to the magazine is here.

Have a read 🙂 This is my first published article so I thought I’d share it with my blogging friends.

PS remember it’s not too late to vote for irunoffroad in the Running Awards Shortlist here

Many thanks, Roger.



QE Parkrun & 13 mile recce with SWR


The aim for today’s run was simply to get a descent amount of miles and hills done as preparation for the Second Wind Running (SWR) QE Spring marathon. Seeing as SWR’s Phil & Teresa had organised a 13 mile guided tour of the half marathon route for 10am Paul Coates and I decided the 9am QE Parkrun  would be an ideal addition to our day. The Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) is one of my favourite places to run what with it being in the South Downs National Park and only 13 miles from home. The Forestry Commission people had been logging recently so as well as the mud, hills and chalky paths we also had to keep an eye out for where their machinery had churned up the soil.

Park run wise there were 69 runners (I checked the results) taking on the two laps that make up the 5K. Temperature wise we started with misty fog that lingered between the trees giving us quite a spooky atmosphere. I bumped into Phil Prophett from Fareham Crusaders and found he was also running both the parkrun and recce.

Well done to Race Director Katie from Liss Runners and James at the 3K marshal point who was volunteering for the 100th time. It’s both a challenging and beautiful 5K route through the forest but today I limited myself to 9 minute miles. Paul’s 23.01 was good enough for 10th place on the day.

Meeting up with Phil and Teresa at the QECP centre there must have been about 15 of us for the 13 mile loop that makes up half of the March 26th marathon. I was pleased to see Mark Lee who had come up from the New Forest and who we know from previous runs. The banter between Phil, Paul & I started almost immediately as we haven’t seen each other for a while.


I knew from previous experience that the first 2 miles are quite steep so we made a steady start, climbing in elevation, and running into the hanging mist. It was apparent fairly early on that regrouping would be the order of the day but that’s what running with a group is all about. No one should ever apologise or say “sorry for slowing you down” because all miles are good miles, regardless of the speed. Conditions underfoot were reasonable with sections of mud rather than it all being muddy !! There was a great atmosphere with everyone chatting when the terrain allowed it 🙂

Dropping down through the park we reached where the first water station would be at about 4.5 miles. This water station is of note because after it there’s about a mile climb back up through the trees which tested us all. Those that knew about it could afford a smile and some light hearted comments, the rest realised it was a test when the chat quickly turned to silence as we got going. Once regrouped over the other side we encountered our first real mud.


As we re-joined the South Downs Way we bumped into Aaron from Fareham Crusaders out on a Saturday morning walk. Pressing on there was a pleasant downhill section which would only mean one thing, yes, another uphill section which by now was taking some prisoners, from a walking point of view, but again this is inevitable as well as understandable. We took a quick drinks pit stop and all agreed what a beautiful location we were running through. It was also noticeable the sun was trying to shine through too.

DSC00203Setting off again we were making our way towards Chalton were one of the ladies needed to rehydrate at the Red Lion pub. A pint of squash seemed to do the trick and the rumour was that some alcohol was consumed, as well, but I couldn’t comment because I wasn’t there 🙂 The Staunton Way took us back towards QECP. This is a good mile long and the style that takes you back into the park can be seen from quite some distance away.

Tersea took great pleasure in commenting that she was way ahead of Phil on a hill which is a comment that few of us have ever been able to make !! That’s Phil in the distance with the orange top making sure everyone was being looked after. Or had he been in the pub ?


We were within 1.5 miles of the finish now and allowed ourselves a group photo. Sorry I snapped you with your eyes shut Teresa. Judging by all the smiles even though it had been a challenging run everyone had really enjoyed themselves. Paul and I agreed that SWR put on great running events, whether its a race or a recce. I enjoyed meeting Phil from the Crusaders who I didn’t know before, as well as Mark. The added bonus was lots of new runners I’d never met before. Caroline, Nick, Emma & Co. I hope to see you on the  trails again.


In total today was 16.5 miles “logged” with great company !!