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I’d hurt my hip flexors at some during the Pennine Bridleway 55 (race review here) but when I saw a social media posting from fellow runner Yvonne I felt the whirring of brain cells and realised that I was going to be at Lochore Meadows with Rona during the Lochore 10km.

Boom.

And so after the excitement of Craggy Island Triathlon and the marriage proposal (read about that here) I readied myself for a gentle bimble around a place I really enjoy running.

What I hadn’t expected upon rolling up to the race on the Sunday morning was that I was really, really tired. When Yvonne approached me at the start line I think I was in mid yawn, I really didn’t fancy running.

However, I was there and a chat with the truly spectacular Yvonne, adorned in her neon London Marathon 2021 shirt, who just a week earlier had blasted around the capital, was just what the running doctor ordered.

The race had a couple of hundred runners at the start line, which handily began at the motorhome parking, which I’d be visiting later in the day.

I was concerned, on the start line, that I hadn’t managed a pre-race poo and let’s be honest nobody wants to witness a middle aged man taking a dump in a lovely country park, so it would have to be a case of corking a potential monster. I could feel my guts engaging in a bit of an internal battle but with some deep breathing and the race about to started to dig deep and told myself, ‘it’s just an hour or so’.

I really did intend to go out slowly, I started at the back of the amassed runners and I made no attempt to push through the runners ahead of me but I jokingly shouted to Yvonne, ‘I can’t let you beat me’ and that was it, I’d set myself up and so I locked in a sensible pace of about 5 minute kilometres and pounded the ground.

The course was two laps of the loch and at all sides it is a delight, offering good cover from the weather, which to be fair was excellent but also good views. The route was also almost identical to the Parkrun that I had done here a few weeks earlier (only in reverse) and so I felt confident that I knew where I’d have to dig in a bit and where I could open the taps.

Within the first kilometre (and therefore also kilometre six) I knew there were a couple of small ascents to get over, which on tired legs felt harder than they should, however, I powered up the lumps and thrust myself forward to catch some of those faster runners at the front. As kilometre after kilometre fell I could feel myself moving slowly up the field and occasionally being overtaken by others.

There was a great atmosphere that ran through this event and all the wonderful marshals and volunteers were bringing big wonderful smiles to help keep us going. It was such a great experience that you couldn’t help but want to push yourself.

My problem came between kilometre two and three and I could feel my hip flexors wanting to fuck me over and they really did. But I had a choice – ease off and run slowly thereby reducing the risk of further inflammation of the injury or run like buggery and hope for the best.

In my head I heard the words and tune of ‘Danger Zone’ playing as I chose the latter. I started pushing a little harder as the route entered the muddier trail sections of the route, knowing that this was were the fun was to be had.

Puddles littered the course but rather than run through them I simply noted their location and put them in my ‘fun’ drawer for lap two when I might take a little dip or two.

As I headed to about the fourth kilometre and the way to the finish line and the start of lap 2 I noted a gentleman behind me who was running a very steady race, I joked, ‘I’ll make you earn this overtake’ but he didn’t join in the banter – he was 100% focused much more on the race than on the other runners which I understood but I couldn’t shake him. He just ran beside me or just behind me, this did have the benefit of serving as an excellent pacing and as we passed the halfway point I could feel him closing.

However, with ever step closer he took I would change my stride and put some distance between us.

The second lap had the field spreading out and it became easier to identify the next person you could target to overtake or use as your pacer. However, with my pacing shadow behind me I felt like I couldn’t slow down and who the hell knew how far Yvonne was behind me! So I pushed onwards even though my hip was burning and sending shooting pains down my legs.

As I hit the kilometre eight I could feel myself slowing and knew that my pacing shadow would soon overtake me but then a lady hauled ass past both of us and I clung onto her for dear life albeit just for a seconds but it was enough to stop me slowing.

As I watched the lady leap gazelle like along the side of the loch I saw another opportunity called Andrea (as I would later discover) go past me. Andrea was going at a fair old lick as she caught me but I managed to run alongside her for a few hundred metres and bit by bit we were chomping away at the race. I was also now well clear of my pacing shadow but a quick look behind me showed that I needed to deliver a proper finish even as a young lady Hanover Marathon shirt passed me.

I knew where the finish was and I knew that there were about 400 metres left to run, in the distance ahead I could see Andrea and a little further along I could see the Hanover marathon shirt and a couple of other runners.

Well the competitive part of me caught up and I suddenly felt urgency and blood rush from wherever it was most needed to my legs and I pushed and pushed. I called out to Andrea as I flew past her to push harder but then my feet carried me beyond her, I caught another chap and then in my sights was Hanover!

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The sound in my head was the sound of beating feet against the floor as I apologetically hurtled past Hanover with less than 50 metres to the finish and then into the finishing funnel and across the line to the safety of the finish and a medal.

At the finish a young girl or boy, I don’t recall which tried to hand me over a Tunnocks Wafer but I was too ruined to think of chocolate and so offered it back to the very helpful young volunteer. With ringing in my ears and my heart thumping I thanked the volunteers and left the finish line area.

I’d made it to the end and I was just about in one piece.

I stayed around the finish line to cheer in and congratulate some of the other runners, and because I had time I waited until some of the back of the field runners were finishing. I’ve always found great joy in cheering on those who take the longest to finish because often that’s me and I appreciate a warm welcome back as a race concludes.

I caught up briefly with Yvonne who cracked out a great time – especially when you consider she ran a marathon the week before – I have no doubt she’d have wiped the floor with me when she was fully rested, she’s a great runner. And then there was the general amble around where I met a lovely lady, I’m going to say her name was Annie from the Running Friends Scotland group and she recognised from all my silly pictures of running that I post in the group.

But now as the race wound down all I wanted was that poo that had been bothering me since before the race started, did you need to know that? No but here’s some things you should know!

Overview

Distance: 10km
Ascent: 50 metres
Date: October 2021
Location: Lochore Meadows Country Park
Cost: £14
Terrain: Mixed (tarmac, hard pack trails, light trails)
Tough Rating: 1/5 (depending on how fast you race)

Route
It’s a lovely route, lots to see, lots to enjoy and you get to run it twice.

It’s a route that lends itself to first timers because it really isn’t that tough or it would lend itself to running flat out and fast – there’s space on the route, lots of places to pass and the trail itself is well maintained. Lochore Meadows is a great place and it is a great place to run.

Thanks to Gordon Donnachie for the photograph

Organisation
Number collection was really quick in the main ‘Willie Clarke’ building; there were toilets available and the cafe was open for a caffeine filled start to your race. Lochore Meadows also has easy and ample parking and while you wait for the race start there are lots of opportunities to have a little explore around the wonderful park.

The organisers used the facilities well and the fact the loch is pretty much a 5km loop makes it a no-brainier to organise a two loop 10km. The ‘into lap 2’ and ‘finish line’ was nice and easy to navigate – I doubt anyone could have missed the markings on whether to complete lap 2 or head to the finish and the route markings were clear and readily available (I’d even use them to help navigate my OHs father on his folding bike round the loch later that day). All in all the team behind this event did a really good job.

There was also a lot of Active Root on the course with a useful ‘help yourself’ set up just beyond the halfway point and I liked that because I’m a big fan of Active Root. The fact that they sponsor and are at lots of races across Scotland is something that I approve of greatly, you can learn more about them here.

Value for Money
Nice route, good logistics, free parking, a place to buy coffee, medal and a fabulous atmosphere. What more do you need for your £14? Really good value for money and well worth getting up on a Sunday morning for.

Awards
It wasn’t a bespoke medal but there was a medal and for small races like this I can understand why they don’t want to incur the costs of making bespoke medals. What I do know is that mine will hang right next to all its siblings because I love a medal, no matter the size or shape. More importantly on the reverse it told me the race I ran and that is the important thing about this medal because it will bring lots of memories of a great event.

Volunteers and Support
The support was really, really good, everybody was so cheery and wonderful but I want to draw attention to a young lady and a little boy who were stationed a little way past the first bridge crossing. Not only was the little boy cheering his heart out but he had the biggest smile on his face. Having just taken my daughter volunteering for the first time at the Craggy Island Triathlon I know how hard it can be to keep them enthused about what they are there to do. So I take my hat off to both of you and it was a delight to speak you both as you made your way back off the course with the markings – I hope that little man has aspirations to become a runner one day!

One awesome runner and then there’s me

Runners
Lots of runners, lots of swift runners, lots of less swift runners, it was such a wonderful mixed bag of experience and expertise. I love meeting runners and having a laugh on the course and this was one of those ones that allowed me to do that – from the lady in the Devil o’ the Highlands t-shirt that I joked with about walking the hills to Andrea who inspired me to a fast finish.

However, to the gentleman who shadowed me for much of the race I pass on my thanks and also my apologies in case I was irritating you, this runner ensured that I ran as fast as I could despite really not wanting to, his pace made my pace quicker and post race that made me feel really good about what I did at the Lochore 10km – so thank you.

And finally Yvonne – you’re a little star, a massive bundle of energy and a great runner that it was my pleasure to meet at the Splash n Dash in St Andrews and to chat to properly here. Keep it up and keep informing me of races that I can sign up for!

My Race
I ran too fast, my hip flexors are fucked and I loved every second of it – I mean not while I was doing it, while I was doing it I just wanted to die. However. In the afterglow of wearing a medal round my neck for the 12th time this year I felt pretty amazing.

Conclusion
Great race, really well put together with excellent on the day organisation. If you run this you will not regret it. Fast, furious and in a beautiful location – Fife has lots of great racing options throughout the year but you should consider marking this one on your calendar for 2022. Enjoy it, I did.

It’s worth noting that I have no affiliation with the race organisers or Active Root and am not sponsored nor have I been paid to write this review – this is 100% independent (and probably unwanted).

I ran the up the field, urging a lady named Karen to give it a bit of welly and then leaped across the line myself and so I drew to a close the Whitley 10km.

As most who read this will be aware I am partial to an ultra marathon and so a 10km you might think would present no real challenge but let me assure you that a 10km, this 10km was a challenge. My ultra running is a slow and steady affair generally and a 10km offers the opportunity to instead run more quickly. It’s worth noting though that the day before the race I had driven down from Scotland to sunny Cheshire, something I can’t recommend before a race. There was also a miserable nights sleep on an uncomfortable bed at a hotel in Lymm to add into the mix and so when I arrived in the delightful town of Whitley I wasn’t in the best of moods. However, the day was clear and it was near perfect running conditions and thus my race day truly began.

I ambled up to the race HQ to find a mass of race vests that I remember from my youth growing up in the north west of England, there was also the broad range of accents that a Cheshire based race would attract, Mancunian, Scouse and other more local accents beat against my ears and I found this rather soothing as I collected my number. The race had a well organised and yet small feel to to it despite there being about three hundred runners milling around but I found myself keeping myself to myself – I enjoyed the anonymity of being somewhere that absolutely nobody recognised my face.

At about 10.45 runners were ushered to the start line and I moved to the back of the field expecting to run a very slow 10km. At the back of the field I was surrounded by lots of lovely runners, first timers, old timers, returners from injury and bimblers and when the race started I set off the watch and began.

The route was mainly through tree lined closed roads and was a reminder to me that the north of England is, in many places, very attractive and worthy of exploration. I was setting a reasonable pace and decided to use my energy in the first half and then use sheer willpower through the second half. I started to overtake people in kilometres one and two but then noticed that my legs felt heavy and so too did my breathing – I was about to have a very bad day. The next three kilometres felt like the hardest distance I had run in years and the long, never ending roads seemed to taunt me, I had long forgotten what stretches of tarmac like this felt like.

However, it wasn’t just the tarmac that was giving me concern, I had the problem of finding my Altra Escalante a little uncomfortable and causing me distress through my left foot. No matter what I did I couldn’t shake the pain I was in and I’ve come to the conclusion that my latest attempt to love Altra road shoes has ended in failure and I should instead stick with Topo Athletic for the road running.

Regardless of these minor issues I found myself enjoying the experience of racing the Whitley 10km and its rather scenic roads. Once beyond 7km I also started to relax into event and fInd my rhythm, slowly picking off runners who had jumped ahead of me and although the pain in my foot remained I was perfectly happy ambling along and as I passed the 9km point I knew that I could ramp up the pace and finish with a bit of a flourish. It was here that I met Karen and for most of the finally kilometre we egged each other to go that bit faster and as we approached the final stretch and a loop of an altogether unnecessarily hilly field I urged her to take me down with a sprint finish and we crossed the line roughly together.

Wonderful.

I picked up my medal (rather pleasant too) as I was ushered through the finishing area and had my timing chip removed and then I was free to head back to sunny Scotland – safe in the knowledge that fun had been achieved.

Conclusions

A well organised and executed 10km at a perfectly sensible price and a great warm up race for your spring marathon(s). The Whitley 10km was more than scenic enough and if you enjoy road racing along country lanes than this is just for you. The closed roads and wonderful volunteers coupled with a light, bright attitude just made this a great day out for runners, highly recommended.

Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run, Run, Run! That’s how it felt, like a rabbit in the headlights – it might only have been 10km but I felt it.

My return to running from retirement was in the form of the infamous Chislehurst Chase.

I hadn’t run at all since my testicles had been consumed by the almighty chaffing fire at the Ridgeway Challenge and my disagreement with the GingaNinja had stopped me running altogether and enforced a diet of pizza and chocolate for about 3 weeks. However, armed with resolution from the disagreement and the High Weald 50km a little over a week later I decided to enter the Chislehurst Chase. It should be noted that the CC was rescued from oblivion by the brilliant people at ‘Bridge Triathlon’ who took it on after it looked like it might not return a couple of years ago. Now sadly I didn’t run it under the previous directorship but I have run a couple of ‘Bridge’ events and so I was very confident I’d have a load of fun.

The race itself takes place in Scadbury Park, an obscure and hidden treasure of a park near Orpington, two loops and lots of hills – both up and down. I lined up with about 300 other runners, waved goodbye to the GingaNinja and UltraBaby and loped gently beyond the start line. As a previous resident of these parts I knew these woods very well and had run them many times on training runs with my beloved spaniel and so I knew what was coming.

The ground was good to firm and the trail was well shaded on a pleasant September day. I bounded along the down hills (of which there were many) and a meandered on the up hills but all the time maintaining a reasonable pace. Sadly I was going to be nowhere near my 41 minute personal best for this 10km route but it wasn’t about that it was about enjoying a delightful race that has been on my radar for several years.

I came out towards the biggest of the down hills and realised that if I wanted a decent time I would need to power down this until we hit the ankle grinding uphill back to the second lap. This I did with great aplomb and powered past my fellow runners, giving me some much needed momentum into the uphill. Thankfully the grass was receding in the gaze of autumn and it had been a few days prior to the race so the uphill had decent traction. In the distance I could see volunteers directing back towards the car park and what I describe as the fun fast section where we split off for a second lap or onto the home mile.

I thundered out for my second lap but my body was now tiring, the lack of running clearly rearing its ugly head but such was the fun I was having that I was happily able to maintain my sensible pace and give it enough riz to reach the final mile.

It was here that I could feel my blood boiling and the dozen or so people in front of me looked like targets. Boom – one, two, three, seven, ten down – all easy. Miss Eleven went with about 300 metres to go but I wanted the dozen. Mister Twelve had 50 metres on me but he didn’t have any momentum, nor an afterburner button.

I drew level with about 100metres to go – he was about my age, local club vest and had clearly given his all. I thankfully hadn’t. BOOM. The afterburners fired and I was flung forward to cross the line with my chest beating and my lungs on fire. BOOM – I was back.

Conclusion: Great route, great race, traditional organisation – felt like a great Sunday morning run. Medal, sweets and water all available and the local cafe as a sponsor provide excellent toilets and an even better pre-race Eggs Benedict.

There was also the added fun of the 2km children’s race, which UltraBaby ran and you can read about here. All in all this was brilliant and if you’re local this is a must-do and if you’re not then it might well be worth the journey for a beautiful September 10km.

‘Can I help you?’ said the surly train guard. I responded with a polite ‘thank you, no, I’m waiting for the train and to use the toilet’. ‘Keep away from the yellow line’ she replied, spun on her heel and stormed off. She clearly believed me to be suicidal and ready to hurl myself under a South Eastern Railway train. Perhaps she knew how badly my race had gone or how little I liked South Eastern Railway.

I was tempted to nip indoors and assure her that despite a bad run I wasn’t ready to kill myself but my urgent need to unburden my bowels of their content won out and I stood quietly in the queue.

Anyway let me roll back a few hours – I had travelled to Greenwich Park to participate in the RunThrough 10km. I arrived nice and early, had a flat white in Blackheath, did some warming up and collected my number when registration opened.

All very easy.

As I’m sure many of you will know Greenwich Park is not a 10km park, using the twists and turns you can get a decent 5km out of it and then do that twice – the bad news was that the good people of RunThrough decided instead on three shorter loops which were okay but a lot less interesting than say the Movember or the Tough runs that also take part in Greenwich.

I did a slow loop of the course as part of my warm up and felt reasonable despite another poor nights sleep and a back that was in agony from a poor sleeping position. Post loop I drifted as I always do to the back of the start line and awaited the starting gun.

Boom.

With the Ridgeway Challenge less than a week away this was only ever intended to be a leg stretcher but I was enjoying the knowledge that this would be amongst the shorter races I would complete this year. At 3km I was feeling pretty good, I admired the giant ship in a bottle and prepared for the ascent into lap 2 and then cramping happened.

Bloody hell my left calf muscle had simply stopped being muscle and become like depleted uranium – very fecking dense. I kept the pace going as I was set for about a 42 minute 10km at this point but within a few hundred metres I had ground to a halt.

In my head I could hear the two arguments

  1. The first was provided to me in the voice of @ultrarunnerdan ‘so stop, don’t risk the ridgeway, show some common sense!’
  2. The second was in the voice of UltraBaby ‘go dad run, no chop choo’

Well as much as I think Dan is awesome he’s always going to play second fiddle to my daughter and so I pressed on, mercifully I was still able to run through the pain but it felt like much harder work than it should have.

Now while I should probably have stopped at the shorter 5km distance given that I was now crawling to a reasonably pathetic pace I instead continued to amble round and up and down Greenwich Park until I reached the final sprint. It was with all the effort I could muster I pressed home to catch the 10 or 12 runners ahead of me and ensure this didn’t feel like a complete waste of time.

At this point I’d normally hang around to cheer runners in but with medal around my neck I stomped off, I was in bad mood and just wanted to catch a train and make my appointment with the rail guard and commit to a giant dump in her station toilet – that’ll teach her for being a bellend.

It sounds like UltraBoyRuns didn’t enjoy himself, that can’t be right – can it?

I had been considering the Run Through events for a little while and although I’m glad I did it I don’t think I’ll be going back – well not unless they start allowing buggy runners.
There were a lots of positives though – it was very well organised, well attended, included in the price race photography, they paid to have the toilets in Greenwich Park opened up for runners use (free of charge instead of rummaging round for a 20 pence ), flapjacks and bananas by the bucketload, good social media and communications, relatively inexpensive with a small but bespoke medal as a memento – sounds pretty good so why would I hesitate to go back?

The thing was I felt out of place, there was a lot of posturing from individuals about how fast they were or how hungover they were. People seemed to stick to their little groupings and perhaps I’ve been spoilt by the ultra community but this had a very different feel, not bad – just different. It may also be the fact I don’t enjoy tarmac anymore or maybe it’s because it wasn’t a longer distance – I’m not sure but ultimately it wasn’t for me.

The most disappointing thing though was the route and I believe if this took in more of the park then the race itself would really benefit – 2 laps, more in and out, up and down. Other race organisers have used a wider spread of the park which I feel gives the runners a a better event as well as a grander atmosphere.

That said the volunteers/staff were all incredibly enthusiastic and committed to getting you round in the most positive fashion and they were a real credit to the organisers. I’d like to finish on a positive for RunThrough events by saying if you’re looking for a no fuss 10km in London then these are worth checking out at www.runthrough.co.uk

‘That’s right Kathryn … just like a bear I like taking a shit in the woods’ – these were the words I left my boss with as she went on to her annual leave. She’s American, not 100% sure about my deadpan style of humour and it amuses me to tell her I leave big pooey deposits in the woods and then simply hang up the phone. You may call this childish and in fact it is but talking about it brings me to a problem that has been causing me nonstop grief for my last few races … that’s right the pre-race poo and the effect of not having it.

Now this is the final warning you’re getting, this post may contain words like poo, dump, turd, anal sphincter, streaky, sloppy or worse, you have been warned.

So far in 2015 I’ve raced 7 times and of those 7 races I’ve had problems on 4 occasions.

Let’s start at the Vigo 10 where my lack of ability to use the facilities (in this case because of forgetfulness) caused me to squeezing my arse cheeks together from about mile 2. There is no doubt that my need to keep my peachy cheeks pursed will definitely have had an effect on my time at the race.

The Brands Hatch Half came next and this time my need to use the facilities wasn’t seemingly needed until about mile 3 of the race – thankfully I was able to pull in at one of the facilities later in the race (but I had already used the facilities fully that morning). I mean seriously body, could you not hang on?

Next up was the SDW50 – the good news is that on an ultra I’m always prepared for this eventuality (poo bags and shit roll) but I was lucky that I wasn’t caught short until well beyond mile 40 and actually it would be more problematic to stop and shit than simply keep going. The bonus here was I’d managed to visit the little boys room at the start and despite my fear that my deposit was simply an uncorking it proved just the tonic to get me most of the way around. However, I had been concerned that very much like the 2014 edition of the SDW50 I might have to find a discreet place and do like the bears do. Weirdly I had a little smile as I went past the place I had stopped last year, not so much happy memories as glad I wasn’t stopping there again.

And finally to the Darent Valley which despite only being a 10km proved that ‘poo’ can fuck you over whenever it wants. I knew it was going to be a problem because it was an 8.30am start, I needed to leave the house by 6.40am and I was cycling on rough roads and toughish hills – all these things have a habit of making me need the loo.

I was aware on arrival that my morning visit to mr armitage and mr shanks would be due shortly but the brewing of my morning offering would be incomplete before the race commenced. What to do? History has shown that running and needing to have a crap causes all sorts of physical and mental problems but trying to force Mother Nature is probably never a good idea 10 minutes before the race begins.

There was no compromise I was going to have to run with ‘the urge to go’. With a bit of luck and a fair wind (poor choice of words) I’d be back in 45 minutes or so and could then avoid the large crowds of people queueing and make my call of nature.

However, more than on any other race this year the pain was excruciating, stomach cramps, sphincter clenching and a mental fear that I was going to douse myself in filth going up or down a hill was my only thought as I hit the second kilometre marker. You will of course be pleased to hear that I made it back to the finish without leaving any UltraBoy fecal matter on the mean hills of Kent but there is no doubt that the pain I was in and the urgent need to go is having an effect on my times and at the Darent Valley it was noticeable.

What’s Happening? Undoubtedly I get nervous pre-race and know that a lot of runners do and the galloping trots is not unheard of. Also not unheard of is the fear of using the portaloos/toilets – myself included. I will never forget the state of one of the toilets at C2C in the pub at the start line, the poo was poking above the toilet seat line – if you saw that you’ll never forget it, nor did you want to use it (additionally though I’d like to praise the organisation of the C2C team, the toilet issue was beyond their control).

Then there’s the shaking and the jiggling of the running (and in the case of my last 10km the cycling) which just makes everything that bit more mobile in the colon! And sometimes the effect of this is that you’ve simply got to go in public. My experience at my first SDW50 was so mortifying that it brings tears to my eyes simply thinking about it, but the worst bit was it took me more than 5 miles to find a discreet spot not too far off the course that I could relieve myself with some modicum of privacy.

What do I do? Well no chilli, no curry, nothing spicy, nothing too salty or sugary in the days leading up to a race – I eat bland food, increase vegetables and avoid things I know will upset me. I try and rotate my day round a little bit so that I can hopefully visit the little boys room earlier in the day without it feeling unnatural and I try and sleep more than I do in a normal week – all of this helps but I believe that my preparation for races in 2015 has been less structured and this might be the cause of my race day toilet disasters.

Curious? I’m somewhat curious about other peoples poor pre race toilet experiences and how they have coped with them? Not out of some weird fetish but more to see if there is something else I can do to resolve getting to the start line with stomach cramps or the need to be clenching inside! I can believe this is a post that won’t be to everyones taste (poor choice of phrasing again) but it is one of those topics that we have pretty all been affected by but avoid talking about because it is pretty grim.

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After the highs and lows of the WNWA96 I was very keen to get back to running. It’s been a couple of weeks since I did much more than a couple of kilometres and the 100miler at the weekend has left me both physically and emotionally drained. However, to the rescue has come the Virtual Run and so this evening I strapped on the only shoes I could get on my feet – that’s right my old and very battered Newton Distance and decided I would do my 10km.

After about 4km I was very keen to give up, but with the deadline for entries only a few days away I knew that I needed to push this one out and so with a push I hit the first 5km in about 28 minutes. At the 5km point I dipped away from the rather sunny Regent’s Park and started my journey across London. The first five were much more like the warm up and I drifted perfectly happily between the streets of my city, stopping only occasionally for red lights and swift moving traffic. As I approached Piccadilly I added a bit of frenetic pace and hurriedly moved through the human traffic – even daring the odd raid through the cacophony of noise that was the road traffic. I blasted through Haymarket and down into Trafalgar Square were I completed the 10km in under an hour – which was the aim.

Thanks once again to the VirtualRunnerUK for getting me out there and a special congratulations for successfully completing the London Marathon as well as continuing to keep us all active!

I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about the rising cost of races for some time, I tend to race regardless of the cost but not everybody can do this and so having competed in over 50 races in the last 3 years I thought it was worth looking at the cost of the races and the value that I got from each race. I’ve picked 3 races at different price points and all 10km.

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Name: VirtualRunnerUK 10km run
Cost: £5
Medal: Yes
T-Shirt: No
Competitors: Variable
Marshalling: No
Aid Stations: No
Goody Bag: No
Support: Online

I’ve been banging on for a little while now about the VirtualRunnerUK – I’m a big fan. The £5 buys you quite a lot of stuff. First you get a race number emailed to you, secondly you are making a donation to a charity, third you get to race and finally you get a medal and congratulations letter. It’s very true that it’s not a UKA race, there’s no competitors around you to push you on and there is no goody bag or finish line banner but I think of the virtual run like being a kid with imagination, let me explain… When you were a child you could make a castle out of pillows, spaceships out of boxes and dragons out of sofas – the virtual run plays to our imagination and I know that those who do it get as much out of it as they put in. It’s run monthly so if you miss an event you simply go back and do another a few weeks later, it’s open for several weeks per event so you can fit it around your other commitments. The medals are actually pretty nice, much better than some of the actual ‘races’ I’ve lined up for and it feels good running it. Some would argue that there is limited support on a race of this nature but actually through the power of social media it’s actually always about and how often do we get a cheery wave from someone we meet out as we are running (aside from Central London obviously). Well living in a Kent you get lots of people offering bits of encouragement – I can only give this race 10 out of 10, it’s perfect.

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Name: Dartford Bridge 10km 2013
Cost: £15
Medal: Yes
T-Shirt: No
Competitors: 200
Marshalling: Yes
Aid Stations: Yes
Goody Bag: No
Support: Yes

The second race I’m looking at is the Dartford Bridge 10km, a review of the race itself in 2013 can be found here. However, I’m looking at value for money and I’m glad to report that one of the smaller, local races has it by the bucketload. One of my bugbears is that races, especially the big ones, have become a bit faceless and this means that races become a little soulless – however in the hands of these local events we still very much have the charms and personality that I very much associate and appreciate in racing. The Dartford Bridge 10km had more personality than you could shake a stick at, it started I suppose with the MC and DJ for the morning a man who I now know and run with, he was infectious and you suddenly felt like you were at an occasion – I half expected him to put on. Ride of the Valkyrie before the start. Your money though didn’t just buy you the entertainment it also covered a near traffic free course on excellent paths, great marshalling, portaloos, a bit of a coffee portable coffee shop, secure bag storage and a little tent if you really needed a changing area, the best bit though? an excellent PB course. The medal was also pretty nice given the cost and all in all it felt like an event run by runners for fellow runners. The nice thing was that it was partly run through new housing developments which meant that the supporters could cheer from the comfort of their beds and so as you went round there was a near constant minor stream of support as well as the main swelling at the finish line. This meant that over the two lap course you felt very well supported and part of a very nice race. If you were looking for minor improvements then maybe chip timing instead of gun timing but other than this I had a really good time and I know many of the other runners did too. It be criminal not to award this 9 out of 10.

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Name: Bedgebury Trail 10km 2013
Cost: £30
Medal: Yes
T-Shirt: Yes
Competitors: 200 (multiple waves)
Marshalling: Yes
Aid Stations: Yes
Goody Bag: Yes
Support: Yes

If you want a prime event, with a great medal, great T-shirts, great organisation and a generally great time then you’d have to a long way to find much better than the excellent Rat Race events. Having run with them several times, including ultra distances and obstacle courses I had no hesitation in paying £30 for what sounded like a great race. Bedgebury itself is a pinetum and houses wonderful trails for any type of trail runner, it also houses an excellent hill at kilometre 9 which was a 100% bitch of a hill to get up. The course other than that was pretty fun, perhaps one might say standard good quality trail, it wasn’t the kind of mud fest that comes with some of the winter races either, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your perception. It’s also a well covered and well marshalled course with lots of lovely people egging you on, so there is no lack of encouragement and the organisation is first class. Additionally as with all Rat Race races there is the excellent medal and even a good quality, event specific T-shirt. You couldn’t ask for much more, right? Well rate Race even manage to thrown in the car parking, a day at the pinetum and some excellent pre and post race extras (like a bouncy castle for kids), these are the nice touches. However, I found this bigger, bolder event a lot less personal and that is where I think I felt as though it was probably a bit expensive. Had someone said £23, maybe £25 I’d have walked away without complaint because the whole set up is outstanding but I did come away from it feeling like I’d been sterilised of enjoyment because sadly it didn’t have the individuality of say the Dartford Bridge 10km.

The truth is I didn’t get anything more from Bedgebury than I did from my virtual runs or the Dartford Bridge and they were at least half the price. With the rising cost of races it has become important that organisers understand what we want – Rat Race who organise Bedgebury, as indicated above, really do offer a great day out, but the price of this 10km and ones like it are too much – especially at times of austerity. I would heartily recommend that if you considering any race – be it 10km, half marathon or even an ultra then look around, there are great value, hugely atmospheric races at very inexpensive rates. Some people like the big races and the special medals but for me, increasingly, there is something more valuable, and that is having a great time and that doesn’t need to cost a large sum.

Enjoy whatever races you’ve got coming up guys

 

MarchVirtual10kmI’m not allowed to run the Nuclear Blackout on Saturday as my OH refuses to take me to the start line so it seems that my next race will be the excellent March Virtual 10km (the OH is doing the virtual 5km). Having completed the UKRunChat Virtual 10km last month this seemed like a great opportunity to grab another medal. If there is still space I would highly recommend going over to www.virtualrunneruk.com and signing up – you won’t regret getting out there and earning another medal for your collection and you’ll be donating to charity too.

Have fun running

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I’ve banged on extensively about the need (for me) to try different types of racing, so as regular readers will know I’ve done things like the Sweatshop 5km, been a member of the London Social Runners (and was a founding member of its Wednesday nights), adventure racing, track racing, road racing, every type of distance, I’ve even raced on the water and taken up cycling to further my adventures. But yesterday I saw a tweet from @VirtualRunnerUK inviting runners to engage in a virtual race with the benefit of a medal.

The idea is brilliantly simple, you run a specified distance during a specified period of time (seems like a couple of weeks) and then you bang out the mileage you’ve signed up, send in your proof that you’ve done it and a medal is despatched to you. The fact that the organiser is making money only for Charity makes this even more appealing and at £5 you’ll never find a better value race or better organised (because you’re organising the running bit yourself!). This, to me, all sounds like heaven and I’m thinking, well presumably 12 virtual races would give me 12 medals in a year?

Let’s hope that’s right because I’ve got an idea… while bumming around on Twitter I agreed to engage in a Twitter challenge with @michloise, the challenge was that she will break Sub50 10km and I’ll get back down to the sub42 (possibly a sub40) 10km. The problem for me is all the ultra running takes away from racing 10km races but if I had a method of earning medals and at the same time engaging in the racing without impacting my ultra running that would be perfect and here it is. So I’m now waiting for the date to arrive so that I can do my 10km and then kick back waiting for my medal.

Good luck to all the virtual runners taking part and more importantly to those runners that aren’t – why not get involved yourslf at http://www.virtualrunneruk.com

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Armed only with my trusty Adios and Ambit I set off on this evenings run and belted out another successful 10km. A bit chilly and the human traffic was high but I made steady progress despite the 12kg of weight I was carrying on my back and I was very pleased to see Charing Cross. Annoyingly though my lack of real effort means I’m going to have do a ‘proper’ LSR at the weekend with a marathon distance Saturday and probably 15km on the Sunday! Bugger, but at least that will put me back on track for my 400 in 30. See you tomorrow chaps for a fast and furious 5km I think and happy running.

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I set out yesterday with only one thing in mind – 15km. By the end of my evening run I had three things on my mind 1) I really needed a toilet 2) I must have taken a wrong turn 3) when the bugger did I press pause on my Suunto? The toilet was pressing, my navigation skills were disappointing and the pressing of the pause button instead of the light button was annoying but 10.82km down only 389.18km in 29 days to go.

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Between March 3rd and October 26th 2013 I earned 15 medals, 21 Tshirts and 22 race times. Not quite the 25 I was aiming for in 2013 but it was an injury riddled year. Proud of these races and medals though I am, 2014 is set to be bigger, more challenging and all together nastier. I hope each of my fellow runners takes a little look at their own medal haul tonight and thinks, ‘yep, I’m pretty amazing’. Well done guys

You’re watching the road
You’re watching the sky
You’re watching the arse of the pretty runner in front of you
You’re waiting for the horn to go off
You’re anticipating the moment you cross the line
You’re thinking of your sprint finish

And you’re thinking that you really want to beat the guy stood next to you because he’s a bit of a dick.

Let me start properly by saying that I loved running the Dartford Bridge 10km race. Yes it had much to shout about as an event, it was flat, fast, easy to get to, good range of post race snacking, an excellent and reasonably price tea wagon, it had an announcer who was an absolute legend bringing us home along the final stretch and it had a race organiser who I found it an absolute privilege to chat with.

Anyway as I am sure you are aware I’ve been on the comeback from injury recently, after a year of niggling and not quite so niggling injuries I’m still not better but continue to race but the injuries are slowly easing and therefore I decided that this was to be an on the day entry. I rolled up at 8am, nice and early – handed over my £16 and got hold of a precious race number. The people organising the event were an absolute delight and I enjoyed their company for a bit before strolling off for a steamy cup of delicious tea and a wander around the course.

Being early let me watch the build up play out quite nicely and although the field could hold about 400 runners there was about 250 there which gave it a nice enough race atmosphere when combined with the supporters. The race was set to kick off about 10am and so after a quick change of clothes, a deposit in both the bag store and the loo and I was ready. My aim was under hour but in my head I had about 52 minutes.

I set out from the back of the course with my fellow tweeter @RichKisbee who I’d met just moments before the start of the race and after a minute or so I threw the gauntlet down to myself and kicked on passing a couple of other runners who I either knew or knew by sight. The reality is that the course wasn’t the most picturesque but it wasn’t without its charms and with both Essex and the Dartford Bridge in the background actually I quite enjoyed it. As the first lap came to a conclusion I grabbed some water, had a laugh with the crowds and some of the marshals and picked up my pace. I’d had a slightly slack moment between 3 and 5km which was going to affect to my finish but this was due mainly to the fact the injuries I had been suffering with were back and kicking at me. Anyway the second lap had a slightly faster pace, I’d picked myself a runner up who was using me as a pacer (Kimberley, I found out her name near the final corner so I could shout her in!) and I felt I could manage a sub50.

With a faster push towards the final kilometre I knew I could start to pull away from Kimberley and continue overtaking people. In the distance I could see the clock counting towards 50 minutes, never have my little feet and Hoka pushed so hard to cross a line and failed to deliver – I really didn’t have much of a sprint finish left in me. However, I crossed the line with the clock at about 50:14 which gave me a 49:30something finishing time and I’d take that at the moment. I collected a decent medal and some lovely biscuits and swiftly turned around to congratulate Kimberley who had been my shadow until the final few hundred metres.

Anyway, after standing on the sidelines to clap in some of the later finishers I can quite happily say this was a great little race and I will certainly be turning up to this again next year. The people at the Dartford Bridge Triathlon are a great group of people with a great series of events. This was a race with something for everyone and I look forward to seeing you all there next year.

This was the inaugural Oliver Fisher 10km held in the delightful Capstone Country Park in Kent and what a little corker of a 10km it was. Now let me start at the beginning … on the Thursday before the race I decided that it was important to finally go to see the physiotherapist about my hip problem (something that only started after I took up cycling). Anyway, I he decided that if his general pummelling would get me across a 10km line I’d sign up for the race. Well fellow runners the good news was that a combination of acupuncture and pummelling did indeed free up all the muscles and I was able to run.

The night before the race I decided I’d loosen up the limbs with a little 4km run and this set me up quite nicely for deciding whether I was going to turn up and rock this one out, the 4km was slow and steady on the tarmac of London, the race was very different – this perhaps is what you get for not reading about the race or the profile or even the ground you’ll be covering.

Saturday morning rolled around and I headed off to Gillingham and Capstone Park feeling rather pleasant, there was a light wind, conditions were damp but not torrential and it was only 10km. I picked up my race number and hid back in the car, the autumnal morning was rather getting to me and there was still an hour before kick off.

With 15 minutes to go I started a gentle warm up and thrust myself through the wet grass and let it whip around my legs, lovely and then disaster as I crossed a very wet bridge – I slipped off and straight down the little embankment. Annoyingly I landed on my hip and I’d tried to save myself by also falling on my wrist. With 7 minutes to go before the gun went off I was a little embarrassed and also a little sore, however, I dusted myself off and took my place near the back of the group.

In my head I had assumed this would be a PB course! no idea why but I imagined, flat, fun and fast – what I got was wet, hilly and challenging and I was incredibly grateful for this. There was a huge sense of delight as I raced my way through the crowd and wound my way into the secondary pack of runners, catching them at about the 1km marker and although I knew I wasn’t going to keep pace with them for long it was nice to be able to see the leaders for a little longer than normal. Hitting the first hill I went at it hell for leather and attempted to make the first few kilometres count.

But i discovered I was much more interested in the scenery and having a bit of a laugh and so I chatted with a number of my fellow runners and just had a good time. As I turned into the final corner of lap one I saw the final hill which I’d have to do twice and as I turned into it I gave it all I had but then as a rather cruel twist I saw the other runners walking the bugger. And yes I slowed to a pace more associated with my injured crawl back from an ultra marathon.

With lap 2 I therefore knew what was coming up and I was able to pace the distance, prepare for the hills and punch it when there was an opportunity and with that knowledge I actually ran the second half of the race a little faster than the first and as I thrust myself forward for my sprint finish I knew that I had achieved my primary aim which was a tough trail run in under an hour (actually about 57 minutes). Not a fast course given that the leader only actually did it in about 40 minutes but it was a lovely race.

I have not a single complaint about the race, it’s organisation or the medal and Tshirt – it was a £15 race with a medal, tech Tshirt and a great route on a Saturday morning, seriously if this one runs again I hope to see you all on the starting line supporting a fantastic event.

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