For me running isn’t just about your race time and position, it’s where and who you trained with and the shared experiences of both that training and race day. Running may not be the team sport that say eleven footballers have but as a group of individuals we support each other in so many ways. The running community is effectively one great big team.
2017 has been a memorable year with personally, my first double marathon and blog wise a number of achievements. However, most memorably it has been a year of widening my running circles and talking with people who have a similar outlook on life.
My main focus for 2017 was Race to the King (RTTK) with its 53 miles and 5,000 + feet elevation along the South Downs Way (SDW). Generally speaking I’ve found that if peoples reaction to what you say you have in mind are …. “that’s madness” or “oh my god” then you’ve pitched your challenge at the right level.
I entered Second Wind Running’s (SWR) Spring marathon (3,000 ft) in March and the 3 Forts Challenge in Sussex as April’s yardstick. The Spring marathon was on familiar territory around QECP but conversely the 3 Forts were further along the SDW and would be a pleasant surprise, especially with the 27.2 miles and those three big hills !!
One trick I’d recommend for races you haven’t done before is either recce different sections over the weeks before race day or watch the many videos that are available through bloggers and youtube.
The one common factor my top 5 races all had was that my training buddy Paul Coates entered them all as well.
The Spring marathon was notable for the heat and banter with a number of Pompey Joggers. This banter started with race organiser Phil Hoy who pulled up next to Paul and I before the race started. One of his marshals had commented “look there’s two runners over there” … he repeated this comment to us and then said … “no it’s Roger and Paul”, and then drove off laughing. We have exchanged many such comments with Phil but the timing made all of us laugh. P.S. I’d highly recommend Phil’s SWR events as challenging and very well organised.
My second Joggers interaction was with bothers Simon and Jonny Langley, who I hadn’t met before but as we constantly traded places over four of the five hours, we certainly motivated each other.
In between these two races I attended the Running Awards as my blog had been shortlisted in the final 12 for the second year running. I’m very proud of this and once again this gave me the opportunity to meet people that I had only been able to tweet previously. Mark Gallacher, Liam Martin and Paul Addicott were all great company on the night. I also had a quick hello with 401 marathons Ben who won the category.
3 Forts wise I met Phil Hall at about 3 miles in. We’d only talked to on social media previously so it was great to actually have a chat face to face. Likewise I met Paul Webster from Fareham Crusaders and even though he shot off into the distance we did see him on the out and back section. The views from Devil’s Dyke were amazing, miles of countryside in one direction and the coast in the other. It did rain towards the end but I’ll be back in 2018. My valuable lesson from the day was that walking more hills than usual was definitely the tactic to employ for our RTTK adventure because I finished in good shape due to a measured approach earlier.
The elevation had us all walking at points including Dave, Kate and Lucy from the Crusaders who entered a number of the big five I’m reviewing. I also made a point of eating which I wouldn’t usually do on a marathon but with RTTK ahead it was a strategy we needed to get used to following. Cliff bars, jelly beans and nuts were all experimented with.
My RTTK preparation included a 25 mile run to Winchester with Del Roberts from On the Whistle who I hadn’t met before and who is currently training for the MDS. This nicely leads me into a very inspirational evening I shared when a number of us listen to Dr Dan Roiz de Sa at an event organised my Absolute Running. Dr Dan specialises in extreme climate endurance and works closely with disabled athletes, usually ex military. He ran the Marathon Des Sables in 2017 with double amputee Duncan Slater.
This inspiring evening also meant as a consequence of my blogging it, I ran in the following weeks with James Yeardley (Fareham Crusaders & MDS finisher) as well as chatted on social media with Tom Evans (the UK’s endurance rising star, who came 3rd overall !!) Talking with these people who have achieved so much really does fire you up for your challenges.
Consequently I raised over £300 for Walking with the Wounded as part of my RTTK run.
RTTK was 53 miles, twelve hours and six minutes of my life that I will never forget. I measured my efforts early on and when Paul pushed on at about 22 miles that was when the day really started. I would like to thank Cat Underwood for her vocal support along the way and the organisers for the attention to detail that flowed seamlessly between the start and finish.
I will leave the link to my blog from the day here because I simply can’t summarise what went through my mind and how the day panned out in a couple of paragraphs. Suffice to say I think that day was my finest in 30 years of running. I was also very proud that the organisers asked to use my blog in their 2018 race promotions. Read my Blog here
The Purbeck marathon was my 4th big race of 2017. I’d heard lots of great reports from Nikki Yeo and a number of other runners so Paul and I set off for Dorset to see what all the fuss was about. The coastal location and rolling cliffs meant we were in for both a visual and leg straining experience.
This photo from Dave Fuller above and Paul and Ben’s below give you a flavour of the hills 🙂
The coastal section was breath taking and once we came inland the hills just kept on giving. At around two thirds through I joined Essex Julie and Devon Chris. I don’t think Julie will mind me saying but I heard her before I saw her 🙂 #classic Essex. At this stage Nikki also caught us up. The next few miles were very hilly but also very entertaining. Thanks Chris, Julie & Nikki. With a bottle of cider as part of the goody bag it was another great race.
The remaining weeks of 2017 weren’t as full of running as they should have been but this didn’t stop me entering the Portsmouth coastal 50K.
On the run into the coastal ultra I guest blogged with Winchester Bloggers and look forward to attend a get together with both them and Portsmouth Bloggers on different dates early in 2018.
I’m proud that I was shortlisted in Runultras Best Blog during December too.
The coastal ultra started in the cold early hours of the morning and ended in light rain but the 31 miles were made so much more enjoyable with the amount of runners that I saw racing as well as spectating. Fareham Crusaders male and female captains Paul and Mel also deserve mentioning here for their motivation.
Meeting Craig from the clothing line Runr and Spencer from Centurion running also added to the day. The shingle sections were testing but the support was amazing. Special thanks must go to Hayley from Gosport RR and her tambourine !!
It’s difficult just mentioning a certain amount of people when our running community is so wide spread, whether it be the local clubs or the wider twitter runners and bloggers. Thanks to everyone that has helped make this a great running and blogging year.
I run off road because it makes me feel free. It’s a combination of mindfulness and challenging your efforts while pushing your limits. Running through the countryside is so rewarding but running it with friends is even better.
Once again thanks to Paul Coates who I train with the most. Thanks for the lifts and photos but most of all thanks for your company mate. This is Paul, Nikki and me before the coastal ultra and thanks to Nikki for the early morning photo above.
If you have enjoyed reading my review there’s still time to vote in the 2018 Running Awards Best Blog. This link will take you to the Publications and Online section, then its the Blog section and scroll down to irunoffroad.
So VOTE here
Many thanks for reading in 2017 and see you on the trails in 2018. I’m also excited for RED January (Run every day). Happy New Year !!