February 2012 News & Reports


Alsager 5

The first race of the road-running calendar took place at the weekend with the ever popular Alsager 5 road race. After heavy snow the day before the race the big question beforehand was weather the race would take place or not. Luckily the conditions just about allowed the race to go ahead in slushy conditions but with police advice to only make essential journeys the field was down by about half on previous races. This however did not stop the band of hardy Trentham Runners making the short journey to South Cheshire and a total of 36 of us were out running.

First home for Trentham was Carl Platt in a time of 28:31 and 57th position. Andy Cotton 29:41(73) and Phil Mainwaring 30:56(98) made up our top 3 men. For the ladies Jo Donnelly (32:06), Laura Thompson (32:28) and Sharleen Hollinshead (33:02) were the first back. Trentham had some good team results with the Lady Vets getting 1st place, The ladies team overall coming 2nd and also The Men's vets got 2nd whilst the men's open team were 7th overall.

We've had 2 race reports in so far with the first one in coming from Mark Day who has recently discovered his running bug:

On Sunday morning we left home at 8 o'clock not quite sure what to expect. Plenty of abandoned vehicles remained where they'd be left on the upwards A50 slope by the Britannia Stadium. Thankfully though the council had worked hard overnight to get the main roads completely clear so we got to Alsager without a problem. We got our stall set up and at that point I started to think more about the race.
My running over the last two years has been hit and miss to say the least as I've struggled with injury, niggles, injury and niggles.  Thanks to recent physio visits, I do now understand the problem and have just come through 5 weeks where I ran 3 times a week. That hasn't 
happened for a long time. On club runs recently I've felt surprisingly strong though, which 
meant I knew I'd do OK at Alsager. I was sure I would beat the time I  did there 3 years ago, which is the last time I ran it.
After a warm up with Jill, we all gathered in the slushy road at the  back of the leisure centre. The overnight snow and ice meant the field was about half what it normally is, but there was still well over 500 of us ready to go when the klaxon sounded to start the race.
I tucked in behind Greg, Phil and Andy and knew the first mile was quick. Quick glance at the garmin as it beeped for the first mile confirmed that was indeed the case (6:52). I really felt better than I thought possible with my lack of real training though and overtook Phil and Andy just afterwards. Greg by now had pushed on ahead (great running!).

I did comment as I passed Phil & Andy that I knew I'd pay for the fast start, and I did start to slow later on. Phil and Kerry both passed me around mile 3 and I used that to stop my 
pace slowing any further. I did have a moment of clarity though, remembering that this year isn't about smashing PB's every time I'm at a race, and I ran the last couple of miles happy that I'd done better than I expected.
The last mile was tough. Rose passed me somewhere in that last mile, which brought back memories of when I previously raced regularly (back in 2009) as I often finished close to where Rose did. Finally, anyway, that turn into the leisure centre appeared out of the 
mist and I did have something left for a sprint finish. I crossed the 
line and my garmin said 36:40 Very very happy with that, its a minute quicker than last time I ran Alsager and was only 20 seconds off my 5 mile PB. For this early stage of my return, I'm over the moon with that. The trouble is, typically for a runner, I now want more !

A special thanks to everyone who came along to support the race. I had no awareness of anyone cheering or taking pictures (probably too concerned about the slushy conditions) apart from Linsey and her kids who offered brilliant support. The kids really made me smile shouting 'Go on Chewbacca' when I passed you all the first time. It's a parkrun thing before you ask
Anyway, in summary, I'm glad to be back. Haven't planned any more races yet apart from entering Potters Arf as I want to build more strength and fitness over the first half of this year. I'm sure I'll get tempted by something else soon though. See you out there!

Thanks for the report Mark and well done on your return to competition. I'm sure that the times will start to tumble with all the training you are doing at the moment so good luck for future races. Next report comes from Andy Cotton who was, as previously mentioned, 2nd home for Trentham:

It's Saturday evening and the U.K. has been hit with a deluge of snow. Everyone is panicking. Facebook groups and runner's world forums are awash with frenzied remarks of "Will the race go ahead"?  If there is one thing I've learned from my family of runners it's that nothing and nobody  will stop TRC from competing (bring on the snow...the worse the better) hey Lee. Whilst networking that evening I managed to organise a lift with Carl Platt in the process. BOOM! (this is good news as he can give me some great pre-race advice).
 
It's now Sunday morning 7.30 A.M. I throw back the covers, take a gander out of the window and see that nothing has changed. I nip downstairs, put the kettle on and fire up the laptop to have one last check we are still on...WE ARE and all systems go. Ready-brek and a few massive dollops of Honey is the breakfast of choice (Standard!). I get showered up, sort my race gear (which includes my new purchases of a 'Gore'  headband and a my Adidas Adizero Hagio racers - which I fully recommend) and it's not long after that Carl picks me up.
 
After news of poor conditions to to minor roads we decide to stick to the major roads as far as possible. After a bit of banter along the way we are there in no time and get on the car park. We make our way to race HQ to pick up our T-Shirt and have some banter with the TRC team (I pick up a few things from Bee Healthfoods inside the hall). We then go for a warm-up with one of Carls pals, Tom Holloway and chat about what time we are going for. I decide on sub 30 and I'll be happy, especially with the conditions. A quick changed back at HQ and it's time to make my way to the start. I decide to jog up with Dan Peel and then go off on my tod for some strides.
 
Within moments of me finishing my strides they call us up to the start.  There was a lot of people I didn't expect to see standing right near the front which made it quite congested for us fast starters to get an ideal starting position. I decide to tuck in a couple of rows back on the inside. 3...2...1...GO and I get off to a blistering start and manage to break out of the pack in order to get some space. I see a green vest in front and assume it's Platto so I decide to follow in hot pursuit. Along the way to mile 1 I here shouts of encouragement from our No. 1 supporter...Let's all here it for Linsey Hughes!!! (Awouga, wouga, wougaaah). I'm feeling comfortable with my pace and decide to keep this up and it's not long before mile 2 is upon me and who do I see that passes by, only the green vest of Carl that I thought I was following. God knows who it was I was hunting. Anyway, after seeing Carl I thought, Winner I must be hitting a cracking pace.
 
My plan now is to try and keep him in my sight for as long as possible. When mile 3 comes round I must of been about 25 seconds behind (I think I'll have to try some of these 5K races). I have a look over my shoulder and see Tom Holloway down the road. I decide that if I can stick with him then I'd be sure to get the time I wanted. I dig deep and manage to hold him off until half way through mile 4. We are coming back past the school now and I know it's close. Another great cheer of support from our Linsey and I know it's close. I don't know who it is standing by the side of the road (think it's Dale) but they tell me there is 200 metres left and to give it one last push. Well this was exactly what I needed and summoned up the strength to burst past Tom (Staffs Moorlands) and a couple of South Cheshire lads to finish in 73rd place in a time of 29 minutes 41 seconds.
 
This race was ideal for me as I've only been running on and off for around 8 months. That will almost certainly be my last race in the U.K. now until October. I'm off for a 6 month secondment to Australia. I'll be joining 'Darwin Runners and Walkers Club' while I'm there and will be entering in many races with a half marathon as a climax in July. I wish you all well with your training
.

Well done Andy, or Anthony if you prefer, and good luck with your time in Australia. Make sure you let us know how you get on in any races you decide to do out there. Well done to all of you who did turn out in very tricky conditions and good luck with your racing season. Just had another report in and this one comes form Dan Jordan who is set for a real battle this season as you will read here:

Along with many Trentham runners I expected Alsager to be off given the amount of snow over the weekend.  That trusty tool Facebook, however, was able to get the message through that all was on for the morning.  Up and out in plenty of time (or so I thought), then we had to clear the drive and push the car several times just to get out onto the road, but then the route to Alsager was fine.  We didn’t know the location of parking or race start so we followed runners and got pointed in the right direction.  Just as we parked we saw Lee Jones, Phil Thomas and Gary Payne and we had a nice group photo before the off.  I went on a ¾ mile warm up with Gary as he talked me through the course, and we ended up at the start line with a few hundred others.  It didn’t seem as bad as I’d been told and Gary and I got about 6 rows back on the left hand side along with a number of other Trentham runners and my running nemesis Dave Pickstock. 

Now, Dave has been improving massively over the last few months and I know from training with him that he’ll be a serious threat today.  In fact, he’s the only threat; I only have eyes for Dave!!  We’ve been having a lot of banter about beating each other and this is the first race of the year and it’s an NSRRA race and we are both in group C, so the competition between us is mounting.

Dave is a few rows ahead of me at the start line and I know he’ll go off too fast, so my tactics for today’s race are to give it plenty but not too hard early on, reel him in by about 4 miles and push on to the finish.  Just before we’re about to go and a runner and her mum come in from the side in front of Gary and I.  I hear one say to the other “Well I’m just jogging round”.  Jog to the back then, I think, so I told Gary and we pushed around in front of them

And we’re off.  Dave goes off like a hare, he must have done a 5:20-5:30 first mile!  I’ve got my garmin set to just show distance so I don’t get distracted, but when it auto-lapped I glanced down to see I’d done a 6-min first mile, which was perfect.  Dave was now a good 30 seconds ahead of me, though, and I could see Laura and Dan Peel catching up with him.  Gary was with me and he said “Look, he’s slowing already”.  And Dave had slowed, but it wasn’t for long, he regained his composure and kept going steady.  I tried not to push too hard now and I could see that slowly I was reeling him in, but it was very slow and he had quite a lead on me, and the race was only short.

As I very slowly gained on him over the next mile and a half I realised I needed to change my plan.  If I left it to 4 miles I probably wouldn’t get past him, so I really pushed on from about 2.5 to 3.5 miles and was just a few metres behind him when Linsey and family were at the side of the road cheering us both on.  Dave knew I was there now, and I thought that if I just tried to drift past him at my current pace he would stick with me – I’ve trained enough with him to know he’s a tenacious so-and-so, so plan B it was.  I pulled onto his shoulder and legged it, showed him my heels and took him and about 5 other runners to move about 15 metres ahead of him.  Of course, that took the puff out of me and I took a breather and then tried to hold on.  I didn’t look back, but as we went round the left hand turn at just after 4 miles I could see he was at about the same position as when I’d passed him.  I dug deep to keep going over the last mile, and had a little battle with an A group runner right at the finish, but when I went to overtake him I just ran comedy style on the ice and had to tuck back behind him on the cleared track until the finish.

My time was 32:42, over a minute off my PB, but most importantly, first race to me!  And do you think Dave quietened down.  NO! “It’s all about Stafford now, I’ll have you at Stafford”. 

Whatever happens during the season, the camaraderie and competition of other Trentham runners and NSRRA runners really pulls you along.  I’ve no doubt I would have been 40-50 seconds down if I hadn’t had a real target for the race.  Bring on the rest of the season, Go Team Trentham :-)

Many thanks for the report Dan and good luck with your battles with Mr Pickstock. It might be good to get Dave's side of the story from the next one too so I'd better wish Dave luck against you too as not to appear biased. I'm sure you will both be doing yourselves and the club credit, so well done to you both. And here is the much anticipated race report from Mr Pickle himself:

This is my first race report so here we go.  Like most people I expected it to be called off, because of the snow.  As I woke up on the Sunday morning I was like a kid at Christmas, not because of the race (oh no!) it was the challenge of racing against Dan Jordan and winning Group C.

With a big smile on my face I made my way down to Trentham Hotel where I had a lift off Greg and John Guest.  On the way there all of us were having a laugh and a joke and building one another up for the race ahead.   As we arrived at Alsager, I had a quick warm up with Laura and Charlene and I was ready.  Making my way to the starting line I could see all my rivals Lee Jones, Gary Payne, Andy Greensmith, my nemesis Dan Jordan and some snake called Lee Ellis (!!); I have never seem him before at Trentham!!!

3, 2, 1 GO the race has started.  Like an idiot I went off too quick.  Half a mile in my shoe laces came undone, but that wasn’t stopping me; all I could think about was putting as much distance as possible between me and Dan!! A mile and a half out Laura has come past me looking strong.  I knew if I could keep her in my sights I would alright.  Third mile has come and only 2 Group C runners had come past me.  I was in good company with Franco and Guy, and Laura was still in the distance but no Dan Jordan?? But I knew he was coming!!!

3.7 miles and it’s battle time.  I ran past Linsey and she was cheering me on – Happy Days! But in her next breathe it was “come on Dan”.  Oh S*** Dan is here!! The move of the century was about to be put upon me.  Dan come along side me and sprinted past me like Usain Bolt!! If he  had jogged past me I would have kept with him, but he put so much distance between me and him that he broke me! I was still pleased with myself as there were only 4 Group C runners in front of me.  Coming to the last 200 metres Charlene came flying past me which put a smile my face.  I got over the finish line and looked at my watch and saw 33.12 which is a good time considering my results from last year.  Having seen Dan over the finish line with a big smile on his face, yes he has won the race, but he hasn’t won the battle …….. it’s all about Stafford now!! 

Well done to all 36 who ran.  Especially Dan Peel, Laua Thompson, John Guest and Greg for great results.

Well done Dave and Dan as mentioned before. It does look like we are going to have a race by race soap opera to look forward too this season and long may it continue :-)

No more reports as yet so in the meantime HERE'S the results!


Stourbridge Stagger

Whilst most people were carefully making their way to Alsager one Debbie Thomas was heading off in the other direction to take part in this race accompanied by Fiancée Adam Brearley and also Pete Caci. Unsure of the conditions before they set off they were heading into the unknown a little so read on to find out how they got on:

The Stourbridge Stagger is a 10.3 mile multi-terrain race involving a one lap course on parkland, tracks, footpaths with some road. This is an undulating/hilly route which can be muddy in places and, thanks to the snow received on Saturday, it was also extremely slippery for most part! The start is from Mary Stevens park and the route has a total climb of 175 metres, and apparently this route is actually equivalent to running approximately 11 miles on the flat. As none of us wanted to suffer the monotony of Alsager, myself, Adam Brearley and Pete Caci set off at 8.30am to Stourbridge via the snow cleared M6 and M5.

An hour later we parked up and walked down to the HQ to find the start. We completed a warm up, and then lined up to start at 10.30am. The start was at the bottom of a playing field and we were told to beware the sledgers as we ran up the hill and across the top, but thankfully the sledgers held back whilst we completed the circuit. The loop was very slippery due to the sledgers having smoothed the snow, and it was a battle to remain upright until we headed out through the park gate to cross the road into the football pitch where we ran the perimeter, into another field and then out onto the road to head up a hill and into more fields. From then on it was a mixture of trail paths, fields and climbs, and just before half way there was a steep climb where marshals were directing us to walk rather than run as it was exceptionally slippery with the grass underneath the snow and we wouldn’t be going up any faster! I tried to jog up but had to give up after a few yards as I was slipping back down just as much as I was getting up the hill.

A runner behind me commented that I “was making him feel sea sick” because I was all over the place with my footing, and he found it quite amusing that I was almost bent double, bum in the air, with my hands to the ground trying to climb up! Running down the other side wasn’t too bad as long as you switched off trying to brake and just let yourself go. By now I was being told by the marshals as I passed them that I had gained into second lady place, which I was pleased with but as we were only half way through I made sure I kept the effort up so as not to get passed by another lady. I couldn’t see the winning lady in front to know whether she was catchable or too far in front so I never thought about chasing her down, just about keeping the third lady away from me!

The second half of the course eased off on the climbs and even had a good half mile road section which was a massive relief to the legs, but then we were directed back onto fields and trail paths that very lumpy and frozen, and almost impossible to run on. I decided to shorten my stride and tried to keep balanced on top of the lumps rather than walk which was what most others were doing, no doubt to try and avoid a sprained ankle or bad fall. As I passed other runners I must say they were very friendly and accommodating in moving over to let me past, and they always wished me well; this is part of the reason why I was really enjoying the run – the banter, friendliness and encouragement from other runners and the marshals was exceptional. 7 miles done and I can feel myself waning due to the physical demands of the course but then I get stuck behind some other runners up a narrow path and I don’t overtake more than two steadily so as to enjoy a brief respite for whatever the last 3.3 miles have in store…. At the top of the climb we drop down a good way and have to then take a sharp left, which was very difficult when you keep sliding to the right as I was; I almost fell flat on my face in front of some supporters!!

The final couple of miles flatten out and you come back over some of the fields you started out on and then cross into the road to head back through the park gates and into the finish. Adam was stood on the road cheering me on as I made my way to the finish which was lovely! My time was 1.17.49 and the winning lady was 1.17.02 so I was a little way off but not too far away…. Next time I’ll know not to take the start as steady, and hopefully there will be no snow next time! I thoroughly enjoyed this race from beginning to start. The weather added a fun element to the race and made it more challenging, however it also kept you working hard. Massive well done to Adam for coming in 15th in 1 hour 12 mins and Pete Caci for finishing in 1 hour 29 mins, great results and a brilliant run. All finishers received a hand towel (pink for the ladies, dark blue for the gents) and my second lady prize was a lovely little crystal bowl engraved with the race title and £10 cash – bonus!

Just had this report from Adam as well and who can blame him after such a fantastic result:

Headed up to Stourbridge on Sunday for the Stagger 10.3mile Off Road/Trail Race. Drove down with Pete Caci and Debbie Thomas, unsure what to expect. Firstly because I haven’t had the best of times fitness wise (what's new!) just lately, and with the heavy snow and the supposedly undulating course, I thought I might struggle with the distance. I had an easy week leading up to the race, so at least was relatively fresh. Had a clear tactic in mind to start off steady and try and build from there.

Won’t go into the detail of the course as Debs had already explained on here, but can definitely vouch for the hill which we struggled on. As we approached around halfway, I could see people walking up it. Well I have a principle of never walking up a hill, but as I got about a quarter of the way up I started to slip back down !! So on hands and knees almost crawled and slipped to the top. Halfway up I put my hand on a guys shoulder to help me, with which he replied ‘I’m not a gatepost mate’. Will try to get any advantage I can !! From this point I started to push on as was feeling pretty good, and for the last 5½ miles really dug in.

With about a mile and half to go a Marshall shouted at me and the guy who was about 10 seconds in front that we were 15th & 16th, which gave me a boost. Aim now was to beat him and see if there was any chance to get the fella in front of him. Managed to pass him and had opened up a gap of about 12 seconds by the finish line, which I came through in 15th in 1:12:42. Really pleased with the position and time on a really tough course and taking into account the conditions. Deb had a brilliant race with 2nd lady, as did Pete who managed to hold off a couple of guys with a sprint finish ! For anyone who enjoys off-road running, I would highly recommend this race. It’s a tough, but fantastic course, and the marshals were brilliant all the way around, possible the best I have experienced.

I'm sure Adam means the marshals were just as good as the ones for the Dave Clarke 5 race and the Trentham 10 race there :-) Thanks for the report Adam and well done on a great race. It's good to see so many guys running so well and doing the club and themselves great credit.

Well done to all three of you and especially Debbie for coming 2nd and winning back some of the petrol money and her crystal bowl in the process. Results for the race are here with a couple of photos of the guys in action below.

 

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Birmingham XC League - Finals!

 

It was the final race of the Birmingham XC league at the weekend and with Trentham almost certain of promotion there was no shortage of runners lining up to celebrate on Stafford Common. Men's captain Dale Colclough has sent us this brief rundown of the day's race:

The final fixture of the Birmingham League cross Country was held on Stafford Common, so almost a home fixture and buoyed by the fact that our men’s team were topping the division, they were in confident mood. Our strongest team today turned out with no less than 17 Trentham vests out and that didn’t include Jason and I who are both side lined through injury.

Following last weeks snow and the icy conditions all week great thanks must go to Stafford Harriers for ensuring the course was set out and fit state for the race to go ahead. Having finished 3rd in the previous two fixtures Stephan went in to the race confident that by sitting instead of forcing the pace early on would bring an improved result. 

After the first of 3 laps Simon Bentley ( Dorrige AC) lead the way with Stephan on his shoulder and Ian in third.  Carl  was about 20 yards back in Fifth.   Another Lap saw Carl make his move and bridge the gap to the leading two so as they went in to the last lap a three way battle was on.  Further back Ian 8th Roger 15th, Adam 20th and Saul made up the count, with great support from Andy Cotton , Phil Mainwearing, Sam Newton in the top 30 and Martin Hull, Paul Clinton and Paul Burslem in the top 40.   Further down the field Rob Tabinor, Callum Dillon ( Our newest member ) , Dave Pickstock , Gary Payne and Greg Jullian were all battling hard and ensuring a great team result.

The leading trio were neck and neck until Carl decided it was time to make his break for glory. He soon gained 10 yards on the Dorridge runner, but Stephan was not to be out done today and went with Carl before making his own decisive break with ¼ mile to go. A great effort from both Stephan and Carl brought them home in 1st and 2nd .  Fantastic.            

The last lap saw Ian hold on to 8th with Saul storming through the field to finish 11th .  Adam and Roger battled on and picked up places to finish in 17th and 18th. A fantastic all round team performance and easily enough for us to win on the day and be crowned division champions for the season.  An added bonus for Stephan was by winning on the day he was elevated to 2nd overall for the 4 fixtures so picked up the silver medal.   ( Stephan has to take the runner of the day performance )

Well done to all the guys over the four fixtures they proved that with a clear goal and focus ambitions are acheived.       

Results Below :             

Stephan 1st
Carl 2nd
Ian  8th
Saul 11th
Adam 17th
Rodger 18th
Andy cotton 27th
Phil. 28th
Sam 30th
Martin 36th
Paul c 37th
Paul B 38th
Rob  49th
Callum 59th
Dave  85th
Gary 118th
Greg 145th

Well done to all concerned there and well done to Dale as well for pulling the team together and providing the inspiration for some of the guys to perform so well. Thanks also Dale for the report. So Division 2 next season and another challenge ahead for the Green Army. I'm sure everyone is already keenly anticipating next year's races and don't forget that there is also the Midland Champs ahead too.


Hellrunner

This report is from Phil Thomas who decided a few months ago to enter a race on Cannock Chase in February that involves crossing water. Hmmmm, let's read how it all went for Phil:

This will be the first race report I’ve written that has an advisory warning at the start. CONTAINS SOME NUDITY!

 

This is my story of the day I ran through hell and it starts the night before the race with a noisy neighbour issue! I never hear a peep from my neighbour but it seems she has chosen Friday the 10th of February to hold a huge party! Ok this is fine as the HellRunner race in the morning is only a fun event and I’m not taking it seriously. I can’t afford to injure myself this close to my big fund raising project; the 6 Towns Runs start on the 28th of March and I’ve been working really hard now since the start of December to make sure I’m ready and able to run 12 half marathons on 12 consecutive days, so picking up an injury in a crazy race like the HellRunner would be suicidal to say the least.

 

That said I was furious with the lady that lives next door for her apparent lack of consideration for others. I went to bed at a decent time and dropped in and out of sleep. I kept getting woken up by doors slamming shut! I reckon I got about 4 hours sleep in the end and woke up feeling very groggy but ready to run. I’d packed all my dry gear the night before and just needed grab some breakfast and a coffee and then I’d hit the road.

I’d convinced my best mate Carl who lives near Birmingham to take part in this too and we’d meet in the car park at the race site in Cannock Chase about an hour before the race start.

Carl text I at 7:55 to say the van he was due to travel in wouldn’t start and so he was using going to use a different car. I laughed and thought “this could only happen to him”!

 

I double checked all that I needed was in my bag and then jumped in my car. It wouldn’t start!

No matter how many times I turned the key in the ignition I was going no where.

 After 3 or 4 minutes of sheer panic I called Carl as I knew he was on his way and would need to tell him he was on his own now. I thought about taking a taxi and how much it could cost but that wasn’t an option. I tried the ignition again while on the phone to Carl and on the second attempt the engine fired up. “Ok I’m on the way; panic over. See you in about an hour”.

 

I stopped for petrol on route and the damn car wouldn’t start again! What the hell is wrong? I’ve only had the car a few months and it’s been rock solid till today! Eventually it started and I carried on down the road to hell and finally got to the race and met Carl and Dean another friend who came to support us. As we walked to the race area from the car park I spotted search and rescue Land Rovers. “Hmmm what kind of race needs mountain rescue teams instead of St John ambulance folk”? I was impressed with the scale of the start finish area and the organisation seemed spot on. We handed our bags in the baggage tent and posed for some pre race pics before we both did a quick warm up.

 

The race was started by the Devil himself with fire dancers and green gas going off around us. It was ace and got us well and truly in the mood to tackle hell on earth. We started near to the front with the elite group and started well but within seconds I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe! Carl turned around to see me and then turned back around and went headlong into a tree branch almost taking out an eye. He spent the first mile running with blurred vision!  I then spotted a guy in a mankini run past. Glad I only got the back view!

 

The race started on well warn tracks and like the previous week at Alsager we all ran in single file through the ruts. The difference this time was the terrain wasn’t a road but a hard track churned up by heavy planet vehicles and tractors, it made keeping your balance while running difficult. Keeping upright and moving forward is every runner’s priority but constantly running off balance was starting to feel like the norm in this event!

 

Some of the hills felt like I was on natures big dipper, it was relentless. I’m sure we were running on mountain bike trails. Steep does not do it justice. It was one after the other, with no let up and still being very mindful of the icy conditions we both ploughed on. I remember Carl saying there should be a rope to help get us up this hill. Going down hill was far trickier and I slipped on the ice and landed my butt on one of the hills.

 

Around what I judged to be the half way mark I started to hear what sounded like gun shots going off around us. “Bloody hell they’re shooting at us”! I suddenly felt liked we’d ran onto the set of the new Tropic Thunder film “Arctic Thunder”! The bangs and small explosions went on for about 20 minutes or so! As there are no mile markers and I didn’t put my Garmin on as I knew it would get very wet in the water we would be running through later I could only guess as to where we were in the race.

 

We ran past a frozen lake which had been set up for us to run through as it was tapped off now and had a gantry at the far end of the lake which was stuck in the ice. This was a little disappointing as we’d both said we’d be up for the water obstacles no matter how icy it was.

Going through water was one of the reasons I wanted to do this as it’s so different to the races I normally take part in.

 

But I guess health and safety has even reached Hell it’s self now!

We carried on through forests and up and down more hills. Some of the views at the top were stunning. We reached the 2nd water station and this shows you how cold it was. My bottle of water was slush!  It was all starting to feel like a very extreme trail race by this point and I was going through the motions and wondering how far we had to go now.

 

As we rounded a bend I started to hear the crowd roaring and then saw an advertising gantry. I shouted to Carl “this is the finish” and he surged forward and I followed. Before we realised and had time to slow; we tanked it straight into the “bog of doom”! Which was a semi frozen muddy lake? The shock of hitting the water took me by complete surprise and winded me, though that was nothing to then loosing my footing and going completely under the water.

I hadn’t realised at the time but I’d also gashed my left shin on an ice berg too.

I wondered how mankini man had got through this lake. Probably best not to think about that actually!

 

This was what it’s about; I climbed out of the lake smiling like a complete loon. Then I started to run again and soon found running in ice cold wet gear was not ideal. Mercifully we only ran for about another one and half miles before we crossed the finish line tired, wet and very cold. We filtered through the finishing area collecting a great goody bag, tech T-shirt and survivors medal.

 

After collecting our bags we looked for the changing tent, once we stood still we started to shiver and getting out of our wet kit was a major priority now. I asked some one where the changing rooms are and got directed to the bag drop again. We could see both men and women getting changed all over the place at which point we realised there didn’t seem to be any where change and we had to get dry and warm and so wondered into the forest, well actually we went behind the corporate hospitality tent and started to strip out of our kit.

 

We had one towel between us and with no feeling in out hands and feet getting out of wet running tights while trying not to show the world your frozen bits was an issue and it probably took me 20 minutes to get fully dressed. I was glad that my Trentham goodie was a tad big and covered my vitals while I could get some dry boxers on!

Going stark bollocko in a forest wasn’t part of my post race plan but it was the only way to not die of hypothermia!

 

It was after the race that I realised that I’d cut both legs and knees and bruised my upper right leg and hip. And once feeling retuned to my toes they started to wince too. Oh and off course my car wouldn’t start straight away and I had to beg and plead with it to go! 

Looking back now would I do it again? YES, would I do it again at the height of winter? I’m not sure! It was one hell of a run and a great day for sure. I finished in 545th place out of 1157 runners and my time was 1.46.43 (Chip time).

Well done Phil and congratulations on completing such a demanding race and coming out the other side with only a cut on the shin. Thanks for the report and I'm sure that we are all wishing you luck for the 12 Half Marathons you have planned for March/April.

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