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I’ve reviewed the Kent Roadrunner before, a relatively local race to me and a really fun day in the sun – please note this race review contains poo, pain and a giant piece of bling – you have been warned.

On the Friday I packed the smallest amount of kit in the universe, buff, shorts, t-shirt, socks, race vest, iPod and brand new Inov8 Xtreme 208 (that’s not much when you’re used to ultra sized I ate a reasonable sized bowl of carbs and some delicious ice-cream, laid out my kit and went to sleep to the delicious sounds of Pearl Jam.

I didn’t sleep very well but nothing worse than normal and managed to get ready and to the race in plenty of time – as per usual it was the same mix of warm sunshine and party atmosphere as it was in 2013. I met up again with several runners I knew or knew of from my local Parkrun and in the distance I had spied TP100 runner Naomi Newton Fisher and several of the ultra runners from the National 100. Given my recent performances and a less than memorable face I kept my head down and went to drink coffee.

The race itself is 17 laps of the rather wonderful Cyclopark facility near Gravesend in Kent. My plan was simple, the first half would be bang on 2hrs and the second half would be about the same – this would give me the confidence to know I could pace @hitmanharris for the Summer Breeze Half next week. I trundled slowly around the course, waving at my partner, occasionally grabbing at some liquid refreshment and generally doing okay. My pacing was proving to be bang on the money despite the gradient of the course and because at 13.1 miles I was rather pleased with myself I tweeted out a picture of my Suunto.

There were however two rather large problems – the first was that at just 11 miles in my hips started to give in on me again and the second well that was a call of of nature at around 8 miles in.

Let me roll back an hour or so to being sat curled up on the loo trying to make haste with your morning deposit – but my body just wasn’t playing ball – so I lined up to the race knowing that I was carrying around the course a dump that could have fought off Godzilla. Anyway with my pacing going so well I decided that I would thrust aside my problems and clench deeply and as I hit 13.1 miles I knew what would be my first port of call – the portaloo. I’d very much like to thank TZRuns for having a well stocked and clean portaloo which made my 12mins 18secs stay more pleasurable than it had any right to be.

Leaving the portaloo I felt lighter and much more refreshed but now that one troublesome weight had been dispensed with I had to deal with the other – my useless hips. I pushed on through each lap, waving merrily at several of the runners and hurling slightly abusive encouragement at others. In the hazy memory of the melee that were the last few laps I finally managed to get into a bit of a rhythm and plodded onwards until hearing the sound of the bell to signal my final lap was ringing in my ears. I drifted around the course much as I had done all morning and it wasn’t until the final push up Tourette’s Hill that I opened my stride out and flew forward like the wind, crossing the line in my customary sprint finish and beating the two runners who had been significantly infront of me only half a lap earlier.

It was a disappointing time, a disappointing way to run but a great race and I’ll probably be back next year to see if I can actually run a decent time on this lovely track.

I did learn a few things though regardless of my disappointment – the first is that you probably shouldn’t wear new trainers straight out of the box for a marathon – my Inov8 are lovely and comfy but it was my first time in any of their road shoes and my first time in minimal trainers for ages, a mistake I feel. I also confirmed to myself that tarmac running probably isn’t my primary thing, nor is sunny running – winter trails seem to be were I am happiest. I can also see that I am steadily getting worse at running because of injuries and running too many races and I am finally addressing this issue after more than a year of suffering. The GingaNinja who was at the race described my running as painful looking and that I wasn’t enjoying myself and she was right, there was very little in terms of big strides, sprinting or good form – so I am finally being looked at more seriously to get to the root of my problems.

TZRuns put on excellent races, offering really good quality medals and a handsome goody bag. The quality of the event and the marshalling is unquestionably good and it’s a small enough field for this to still feel intimate but not too sparse. If you haven’t run this one before then do consider adding into your late spring schedule – you won’t regret it.

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400km in 30 days isn’t actually that much and I had started it not so much as a running challenge but more a Hip scoring exercise, just how much could my hip handle? Well the answer to that was ‘not much’. And I’m going to need to figure out just what my body can handle as this is a year that I can’t afford the time off for surgery or things of that nature plus my physio has been instructed to just help keep me on the road – he thinks I’m mad by the way.

With that in mind I haven’t run since Friday in an effort to rest my hip and burning shin. I’m going to ease off the big distance and go gentle for a week or so and build back up, although there will be a slow 10km done tonight to complete my Virtual Run.

With the St. Peter’s Way Ultra just a couple of weeks away it’s important that I get my hip as strong as possible or at least as pain free as possible, I know I’m capable of completing it even in the event of being injured but with 2 UTMB points on offer I’m keen to put in a real shift and run a decent time. But this all remains to be seen.

In other news I was leaving the train station on Friday night and a chap tapped me on the shoulder and asked about my trainers. I told him where I’d gotten them, gave him as much advice as possible and then discovered we would both be running the SDW50 and live about 5 minutes from each other – weird and cool.

I did also manage to pull a 15.30 4km – which makes me pretty happy but the continued accuse of my body makes me much less happy. Still it’s the price we pay for racing glory.

Finally before I go I shall update briefly my race status and announce that. ‘Yes’ I managed to book my place for the Winter 100 with Centurion Running, this has been on my mind for months – the need to book my place! Therefore on a bright shiny Saturday morning I sat waiting for entries to open and at about 10.51(ish) they did. With a urgency not seen since the last someone said there is only one Kit Kat left in the cupboard I made my application. Approved. I was in the Winter 100 – phew. It was at this point that not only was I was raving on about how wonderful it will be to run in an epic 100 ultra in beautiful English countryside but I also updated my blackboard of races and here I saw a problem.

No Marathon.

I quickly returned to the computer, connected to my friend Google and slammed in some variables. Within seconds Google was suggesting races all over but it kept coming back to one particular one the ‘Kent Roadrunner Marathon’. Now as some of you will know I ran this race last year and so I was a little hesitant but Google came to my aid.

‘I’ve searched this bad boy out for you, you enjoyed this race, you know the course, you know people doing it, you like the medal, its big and it jingles, plus you weren’t happy with your time last year, maybe you could go back and do a bit better.’

I could hear Googles words in my ears and suddenly I found myself signing up for a race that I’ve already done – not something I am in the habit of doing and there was a nagging in my mind even as I paid my £33 entry fee about running 17 laps or so round a track (again) and then I heard it.

In the background Google was cackling at me, ‘remember UltraBoy, you’ll have run 42laps round that very same track just three weeks earlier as you do the National 100’.

Shit burgers, Google had screwed me like a $5 hooker – damn it. Too late now, but still the Kent Roadrunner is a favourite of mine and did really enjoy the day last year, so lets hope for more of the same and a slightly quicker time.

So there we go Ultra number 7 and marathon number 1 of 2014 booked. Still looking for the perfectly timed beginners Triathlon though. Hmmm. Have a good running week chaps.

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