July Race Reports


Roaches Summer Series

Thanks to John Guest for sending in this race report from the recent Summer Series race at The Roaches. Sorry for the delay in posting it on the website John:

A sports massage @ Coles Therapy immediately before a race was probably not the best preparation for a Thursday night event in the Staffs Moorlands, especially one over the The Roaches at Upper Hulme. Although I'd fooled myself into thinking that I wasn't going to overstretch myself with the Cheadle 4 approaching on the Sunday. Brian Cole spent a good 30 minutes "gently" encouraging a few stubborn knots out of my calves that wouldn't leave without a degree of discomfort, (for discomfort read PAIN!!), but I did feel invigorated and my legs much more relaxed after the session.

On arriving at Upper Hulme, I spent a few minutes chatting to Debbie Thomas in the bright sunshine (and very humid too), before the start of the race. It was a lovely summers evening with no sign of the forecast heavy rain - are those weather forecasts ever right? After 20-30 minutes into the race - after ascending, choosing foot placement very carefully over the rocky Roaches and past the trig point, then galloping down the other side to the road - dark stormy clouds appeared from nowhere and loomed ominously over the moorland hills like vultures looking down waiting to devour their prey, their target identified as a long line of colourful mammals foolishly dressed in summer running attire.

I'd managed to latch onto Rob Mayers of South Cheshire Harriers on the road section, who like myself was having a steady run, or as he put it "just tinkering around". It felt like morethan just a "tinker" to me as I'd struggled to narrow the gap to reach him.
I thought maybe we'd get back to the finish before the heavens opened, but the storm was upon us in a flash, opening with a chorus of very heavy rain. We gloriously stuck to our task and bathed in the huge rain drops, as we splashed and sploshed our way off the road and onto a rutted track ideal for puddles to gather, like a gang of hoodlums sneering and teasing, working together to obstruct your path so that you'd evade one of them only to run straight into the next, but we were determined and already drenched by this time so we ploughed straight through, splattering them aside.

As we entered the "boggiest" part of the course, running at an angle in a field on a slant - where the slimy, claggy mud tried its best to suck the shoes off our feet and devour them in the depths of the murkiness like a...... "Mud Monster (Modderus Monsterum Atroxius), a predatory creature that lives in water, made out of mud and can weigh from 300 to 780 kg" (Urban dictionary)....... the storms' force built to a crescendo as we were lashed mercilessly by vicious hailstones, aided and abetted by cruel crosswinds, and they were so very cross!

As we left the mud monsters lair and onto some firmer ground an angel appeared in the form of Debbie Hope of Staffs Moorlands, who was marshalling bravely at the edge of the field, soaked to the skin and looking bedraggled, she still managed a smile and some words of encouragement as we passed.

Rob and I chatted our way to the finish undeterred by the never-ending downpour as we turned right into the field and the finish line. Now for the hard part - trying to get wet running gear off and dry yourself without getting your dry clothes wet and not soaking the inside of the car, while trying to stay out of the still pouring rain.
A big thanks to Debbie Hope and the rest of the Staffs Moorlands marshalls and officials who did an amazing job in such atrocious conditions on the night.

Apart from Debbie Thomas and myself, the only other Trentham runner I noticed was Ken Bloor, Ken having abandoned his funky red shorts and sensibly wearing tracksters for this one. Despite the conditions it was good fun and I know "mud monster" Lee Jones would have loved it!

Well done John and a massive thanks for sending in the report.


Cheadle 4  

We've had two race reports from the recent Cheadle 4, both from gentleman who are ever improving. First one comes from Mr Rolo, Phil Mainwaring who is running amazingly well at the moment. I cannot think of anyone else who better deserves his current success and long may it continue. Here is Phil's report:

On Sunday I was one of a large field of Trentham runners competing in the Cheadle 4. I went for what turned out to be a two mile warm up with Adam, Carl and Mandy and returned just in time to see the junior Julians finishing their race with a clear win for Harry and Sophie not far behind. I hoped this would be a good omen for my battle in the NSRRA rankings, with Paul struggling with injuries it was left for me to pressure Nick Hackett of South Cheshire Harriers for the lead of group B. I know heís around five minutes faster than I am on a half marathon distance so my only real chance to close on him is on the short distances, generally when heís a bit tired as well. This worked at the Stone 10K but he pulled away from me at Berryhill so I was intent on racing him in Cheadle.

I was fuelled up on power bars, energy drinks and beetroot stamina all ready for the start and after getting plenty of advice on the course I knew I had to push early on so I hit the first mile in 5:37 surprising myself by staying in sight of the leading pack. I pushed on the hill trying to work on my advantage as a big thighed fell runner and took a few places before getting to the top. I know from experience when getting to the top of a hill that most people feel inclined to ease off and recover so I stepped up a gear and took another few places before I realised Nick had done the same and stormed past me at no less than a 5:30 pace. I didnít try to stay with him and by the time we were descending heíd managed a stretch out a firm lead. I started to pull him in very slowly down the hill but he knows after the Stone 10K not to let me get close enough for a sprint finish. I managed the last two miles in 5:59 and 5:53, which disappointed me given that they were largely downhill and despite closing the distance Nick beat me by 14 seconds.

I also missed out on a sub six minute mile thanks to the stupid hill that took 6:49 to reach the top. So overall, not happy but I finished in 19th place and Iím competing against a runner who I never would have considered racing had I not been in NSRRA. If I wasnít in road runners I wouldnít be pushing to the same extent so I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is considering joining, if only to give a sense of winning or losing a race when the top runners are minutes away from you. Also well done to Mandy on winning for the second year in a row and for the second time this week, always nice to see Trentham runners stacking up the victories. Add that to Dan Bowman getting the best running photo of the day and you have to feel proud to be part of such a club ;)

Well done Phil and despite you saying you're not happy that you failed to get 6m/m pace I think you can be very proud of yourself. Next report is from another one of our speedier runners, Mr Jordan. Dan has also joined NSRRA and this has also meant he is now even more competitive than before. Here is Dan's report:

Turned up nice and early for this and Pickles and I got our numbers and went for a warm-up, as it happened along the race route. We went slightly past the one-mile marker, looked up at the hill on the left that we would be going up, and then turned around. It was only on turning around that we realised we had been running downhill! We got back to the start and I chatted to Lee Ellis who wasnít running due to injury. Normally this would have been welcome news (not that heís injured, just that he couldnít beat me today), but Iíd actually got my head in the right frame of mind to take him on today, so I was actually gutted he wasnít running. I then thought I should pick up 50 points in my group, but of course I didnít know who else was running.

Anyway, once we set off I made sure I made good time on that first mile. I was running alongside Mandy, Ruth and Rebecca who would end up as the top three finishers in that order. It got a bit lumpy after about half a mile and Mandy and I were stuck behind the others so I made a mini-break to get past the other girls and some other runners and get a bit of clear road ahead. I knew Mandy would follow me, and she broke away from the other girls as we headed for the one mile marker and the hill.

Iíd been told that the second mile was all uphill but with it being such a short race it was important to push up it. Iíd decided to target someone better than me, and with having Mandy alongside, she was it. Going up the steep part at the beginning was OK, but as the road flattened out and then started to rise again she was cruising ahead. As she pulled away (she must have put 40 secs between us in that second mile) I had no-one to target, there was just empty road ahead of me, and loads of good runners somewhere close behind me. I kept pushing up the hills and flats to approx 2.5 miles when the road turns downhill back towards Cheadle. I let my legs turnover but I obviously wasnít running fast enough as two guys came past me on the downhill

And then my race changed. I hit the bottom of the downhill and I was struggling, with about half a mile to go. Others were coming past me now and NOOOOO, a C group runner. I tried my hardest to hang onto him, but it was to no avail, and I ended up 2nd in the group in a time of 26:08 on my garmin (26:12 official). I was disappointed not to take the group but as he shook my hand afterwards it turned out he was David Betteley from South Cheshire who is joint leader in our group with Lee Ellis, so no shame there.

I was quite pleased with my run, Iíve never ran a 4-miler before and think I got it about right. I could have ran it slower up the hill and had more at the end but I think it would have been the same result anyway. Well done to all the Green Army, some fantastic results Ė Harry Julian, 1st in the Fun run, Carl 6th, Adam 13th, strong performance from Phil Mainwaring as well. Mandy 1st, Stan 1st in his age group

Thanks for the report Dan and well done on the race, a very good time and second in your group is a good day on any level. As previously mentioned Mandy won the Ladies race, in a time of 24:32 over a minute ahead of the second placed lady, Ruth Watchorn-Rice. Carl Platt had a magnificent race finishing 6th and only a minute off the winning time set by Ryan Holroyd, who beat Ben Gamble to take the tape. Adam Brearley also had a fantastic race coming in under 24 minutes. Stan Winterton claimed the MV65 trophy and as also mentioned success for the juniors with Harry Julian winning the junior race. Results for the Cheadle 4 can be found HERE!


Trentham 10

Sunday 15th July was the Trentham 10 race around Tittensor and Beech with all of the hills that entails included. Performance of the day was from Phil Mainwairing who came home in 12th being the first Trentham Finisher in 62.57 whilst Ben Gamble won the race. Winner of the ladies race was Ruth Watchorn-Rice.

There were plenty of other Trentham runners out for this one despite the fact that many were on marshalling duty. One of those on duty was Ken Pearson:

I had a run round the course on Saturday to check that the surface was OK for my choice of rubber. Quite a lot of gravel and mud on the way up to Beech Caves but the really sharp corners were clear so no off road treads needed.
Race day came and I arrived very early and waited in the car park until the start time approached. I was full of fluids at the start so no bum bag was needed as there were plenty of drinks stations. I managed to get to very near the front for the start and didnít get in anyoneís way as we went down to the first corner. The pack was quite bunched but it was clear that Ben Gamble was pulling in front of the field. Going up past Beech Caves wasnít as difficult as I thought it would be, but I was a bit hot by the top. I got round the tight bends without a problem and caught up to the course car that was waiting to lead the runners to onto the main road. Ben overtook me at this point, I knew I couldnít overtake him so I waited for the chasing pack.

Through the cones and a steady 11 mph along the road to the drinks station but Eva wouldnít pass me a drink so I carried on. The chasing pack was after Ben but he was well out of sight by then. Not much traffic to worry about along the A519 and A51. For a change, the farmer hadnít removed the 8 mile sign. Quite an easy run down Winghouse Lane and we picked up the pace a bit there.

Past the second drinks station onto lap 2 and I still hadnít managed to grab a drink. Up the hill again at a steady 9 mph in first gear and it still felt easy all the way past the drinks station and along Bottom Lane towards Swynnerton. I pulled in front slightly along the slight climb here as one of the chasing pack started to speed up and leave the rest behind. The pace had picked up a bit and I sensed the following runner was trying to catch me. He nearly caught me as we overtook the last runners just before Cumberstone Wood with about a mile to go but I managed to nip in front of the ambulance and stay ahead even though he picked the pace up to about 12 mph down towards the Beechdale Lane turning.

I felt really good up the hill and down to the finish and gained a bit of ground on him. Unfortunately I missed the finishing funnel so I was disqualified and didnít record a time although I did get a T shirt at the end to help with the polishing.
I gather Mr Volvo also missed the finish funnel and was also disqualified but 4 wheels really is cheating! There is a bit of a conspiracy going on here as both of us have also been removed from Bryan Dales photos.
The real result should have been.
1 Mr Volvo 54:45
2 Ben Gamble 54:51
3 Mr Tiger 57:35
4 Carl Moulton 57:41

I really enjoyed the day and Iím now wondering if I can do the Thunder Run with a set of knobbly tyres and a very large T shirt!

Well, in case you hadn't worked it out Ken was actually on his motorbike leading the chasing pack around the course and a great job he did too. Wonder how many of you reading this actually thought he was running just behind Ben Gamble :-)

Thanks for the report Ken and hopefully we will have one from a runner soon. The results for the race can be found on the front page. HERE is that race report from a runner, and What a runner - 1st home for Trentham Phil Mainwaring:

I didnít have much expectation on Sunday after pushing as hard as I could in Cheadle and still losing out on time and points so I had a week off from running before the Trentham 10. I had a chat before the start to most of the green army who were collecting their marshal bibs and setting off for different sections of the course. Carl, Adam and Mr High Voltage told me not to get overexcited at the start and try to leave a bit of pace for the descent on the second lap where hopefully I could pick up plenty of places but I didnít want to get left behind at the start so I tracked down Lee knowing he would be trying to psych out Ben Gamble for the first 100 yards and lined up next to him.
We started well and had a great cheer when we took the first right turn towards the hill and I tried to ease off to a manageable pace letting Ben and his chasing group drift away towards the horizon. I reached the top of the hill and managed to increase my pace shortly after a big shout from Phil Thomas and concentrated on keeping my posture right and my stride short because I think this has been slowing me down on recent runs. A South Cheshire runner tried to pass me but I matched his pace and didnít let him go in front of me keeping pace with him for a good portion of the race. I increased my pace again for the main downhill of the course and had Adam telling me Iím in the top 10 and both Adam and Carl screaming at me to ĎRelaxí knowing that otherwise Iíd treat this as a five mile road race.

I felt good at the end of the first lap completing the first 5 miles in 31:05, getting an awesome photo by Walter and a drink from Harry Julian leading the scouts on the water station. On the second ascent of the hill, my breathing was getting heavier and my legs were tiring so I knew at any point my best NSRRA buddy was going to storm past me but I managed to get to the top and tried to replicate my first lap pace on the long descent. I was struggling not to lose places here knowing as soon as I did I would lose all momentum and give in entirely so I fought for every place and tried not to look back for a light blue vest closing in on me. Chris Mosiuk waved me off to the left to take the 2nd lap route to the finish with the encouragement; ďI canít see that guy from group BĒ so I pushed on and matched a Cheadle runner stride for stride before getting to Adam and Danny who were both shouting me on and Carl ďLegendĒ Platt who ran a least a mile with me screaming support every step of the way.

With just over a mile to go a South Cheshire runner caught me and said ďYouíre having the run of your life here Phil, stick with me to the end, I have to beat KelvinĒ so we worked together counting down the seconds to the finish only to see the timer at the end of the race counting up to 63mins. I sprinted out the last stretch to complete the second 5 miles in 31:52 and to complete the course twelfth in 62:57, also picking up 50 points in NSRRA after beating Nick Hackett by a 2mins 19secs. This leaves me with a pointís average of 49.22 and Nick with 49.27 and a promise that my battle with him can go to the final race especially as he is on holiday for the next two races.

I wanted to write this report mainly to say thank you for the fantastic support throughout this race. This is true credit to the supportive culture of Trentham Running club and everything from the organisation to the screams of support on almost every corner of the race was brilliant. Even runners from other clubs were pushing me on because of this and I couldnít help but smile every time I heard the volume of cheers go up a few notches each time I went past the five mile drinks station. I needed a lift after disappointment at Cheadle and now Iíll be stepping up my speed work ready for the rest of the seasonís races.

Many congratulations on your race Phil and thanks very much for the report. Good luck with your forthcoming race at Meerbrook which I know you are now looking towards.

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Burntwood 5

Thanks very much to Sam Newton for sending us this race report from Saturday's Burntwood 5. I know it was hot so read on to find out how Sam got on:

To set the scene, it is no exaggeration to say that thoughts of breaking the 30 minute barrier for a 5 mile road race have increasingly plagued me since completing Alsager in 30:36 back in 2007. And after several particularly agonising near misses over the last two years, including times of 30:13, 30:08 and 30:03 in a tally of eighteen sub-32 minute 5 mile races in total, I did question whether the feat was simply beyond me, much to the annoyance, Iím sure, of Dale and others who knew better.
However, being due to start back in Uni again for my crucial third and final year this October, I knew that it could well be a case of now or never. So after feeling a bit hard done to once again after a hot, hilly and wildly inaccurate Strawberry 5(.09!), I set about the task of targeting a flat, precise 5 mile race without any distractions from my local North Staffs rivals. I then stumbled across the Burtonwood 5 which seemed to tick all these boxes, promising a well-organised event with a free burger for a meagre five quid.

(At this point, I am not proud to admit that I used GarminConnect and Google Maps to measure and view the course trajectory, even going to the lengths of viewing runnersí past performances over the course when compared to their other 5 mile results using the Powerof10 results website.) Plus, it was only a 45 minute trip up the M6 and was a cockstride from Warrington Ikea which would serve to minimise my pangs of guilt at having wasted another of Lauraís afternoons watching me run through another unfamiliar town. I also noticed that the JCB 5 was 10 days before Burtonwood which I intended to run on tired legs to get some race fitness before a short taper towards the main race.

Having slept in nice and late on Saturday morning safe in the knowledge that the race was a 4pm start, I drew the curtains and found Mr Sun staring squarely into my face and not a cloud in the sky. On the one day where I wouldnít have minded overcast skies, it seemed the weather would disappoint me again this summer. We set off for the delights of Warrington at 10am and, having trawled around several featureless retail parks, headed for Burtonwood our big blue bag of brightly coloured, machine-crafted objects in tow.
Being in plenty of time we drove around the larger lap of the course which had much in common with Alsager, being as flat as an oatcake as my earlier research had indicated and mainly along quiet residential streets. We then arrived at race HQ which was a small pub, half of which provided the backdrop for the familiar dance of skinny folk jostling for safety pins and race numbers.

As I was attaching my number to my little green vest I noticed a couple of Congleton Harriers craftily slipping their half-marathon leaflets under windscreen wipers. One of them was wearing a Trentham 10 t-shirt and it reminded me how strong our running community is across the country. Shortly after that we bumped into Sharleen Hollinshead and family. Her aim for the day was to get some speed back after a while without racing.

After a few jogs up and down the finishing 400yds, I made my way to the start line. By now, the sun had disappeared behind the clouds a bit which I was glad of. With a rundown of the usual racing etiquette and a casual ďGo!!Ē from the chief organising bloke, we were off. Although I took my Garmin, I really didnít need it and ran pretty consistent splits throughout of 5í55ish per mile. I knew if I could hit the 4 mile marker under 24 minutes, adrenalin would kick in and it did. After an almighty cheer on from Laura at the 400yds to go marker, I knew a sub-30 was finally on the cards, but gave one final push to secure it. Crossing the line in 29:39, I seem to recall shouting ďYES!!!Ē and throwing my arms in the air with joy- the beauty of running in a place where no one knows you!

On reflection, it is hard for me to identify any physical reasons why I should have been able to run faster on that day than any other. Unlike 2011, I havenít seen Northwood this year at all but have generally increased my mileage on training runs. Itís probably a clichť, but when all is said and done, I think it boils down to pure mental determination which I see in the faces of many Trentham runners that may have occasionally let me down in the past. Actually, thinking about it I was only 40 seconds from a sub-29. HmmÖ

Well Done Sam Newton, I know how long you have being trying to beat that marker so a massive well done, and you didn't just creep under either, you smashed it! Good luck with the Uni course Sam and hope you are available for cross country mate, especially in this form.

Summer Series

The Summer Series has been in full flow for the past few Thursdays with some very tough and competitive races taking place across the hills and valleys of the Staffordshire Moorlands. One of our boys has been trying to compete in as many as possible following a string of unfortunate injuries in recent times Adam Brearley has been getting back to the kind of form we know he is capable of. Adam has kindly sent us this report on his series with only one race left:

Due to consistent injury problems over the last 2 Ĺ years since I started running, I now have a very different outlook on things. I am now happy just to be able to run, hopefully train hard and then hopefully race. Anything else i.e. decent performances are just a bonus. I can hardly train on road at all so all my stuff is off road which to be fair I do enjoy. So here are a my brief race reports from the Summer Series as they happened.

First race of the series and really struggled tonight. From the moment I set off I felt heavy, had no rhythm and it is a flattish course which doesnít tend to suit me. Took all my mental strength just to battle round and not give up. Did manage to gain time on two guys in front, but got done by both of them at the end in a sprint finish. One of the lads was 16 mind, so he has slightly younger legs than me ! Finished 12th which is about right at the moment. The one thing I have already noticed this year is that the standard is higher than in 2011 where I managed to achieve a highest position of 3rd so should be an interesting 10 weeks.

Horrible night weather wise, which I actually donít mind as bad weather never fazes me. Always had the attitude when footballing that if my opponent was affected by bad weather/conditions then I had an advantage straight away. After all, rain doesnít melt you ! This was more my type of course, very hilly and quite technical. Eased into the race and ran the last lap and half (3 lap course) really hard. Managed to beat the youngster who out sprinted me at Tittesworth by around 40 seconds I think, which goes to show the difference between a flat and hilly course. Was 20 odd seconds behind Robin Hope from Moorlands who I would like to be around, so room for improvement. 9th on the night and fairly happy.

This course is definitely technical with a couple of decent climbs and a really fast downhill section through the woods which tests the concentration levels. Again I worked myself into this race with the aim of running the 2nd lap hard. Managed to catch Rob from Moorlands with around 200m climb to the finish and managed to hold him off by about 12 seconds. Really pleased with my mental approach in this one, constantly eating away at the time to a couple of guys who were leading me before finishing strongly on the hill. 7th on the night, pleased with progress.

My first ever Fell Race tonight and was really looking forward to it, although at the same time slightly apprehensive. At the back of my mind I have wanted to get into Fell Running eventually, as feel it suits my style. Before the starting gun went, we were informed that this was Ďa really tough courseí. Great ! The first 10 minutes were through fields on the flat and a bit of downhill. At which point I saw the first climb into some woods. What I didnít realize was this climb was relentless, moving onto road, trail, grass and fells. I reckon it must have been a solid 15minute climb, really tough. Got to the Trig Point at the top and took a sharp downhill before turning left along a ridge. The terrain at this point was the hardest Iíve ever run on and I went over cutting my knee, but still tried to keep battling the conditions. Eventually got to the top of another long climb before dropping down. I managed to blurt out to a lady marshal asking if there were any more climbs and she said ínot reallyí. NOT REALLY ?!?! Jesus, the worst was to come. For about a mile or so all I could see was a horrendous climb !! A guy in front who had around 20 seconds on me started walking. There was no way I was going to stop and this gave a glimmer of hope. Didnít managed to catch him, as when I was counting in my head I was making massive inroads on the uphill sections but on the downhill he was taking at least 20s out of me !! Came through in 7th again, but actually felt this was my strongest run so far. This was my toughest race since I started running but loved the course (after Iíd finished !!), and canít wait to tackle more of the same in the near future.

My worst race of the series so far tonight. From the beginning, couldnít get into a decent stride, concentration was all over the place and was breathing heavily. Ended up 30s down on previous year when I wasnít really fit and finished 8th. Actually the worst I have felt in a race since I started running. Got a point to prove next week.

Decided to miss the Roaches race last week, as had been feeling really tired this last week and really didnít want to break down with injury again, so decided to have an easy weeks running. The Sunday prior I entered the Cheadle 4 Road Race as hadnít raced on the road for a year and half ! Was happy with that run, and gained a bit of confidence going into Cheddleton. Went off a bit harder tonight, as starting to slowly get a base of fitness and strength back, after 3 months of no injuries. It became clear after 1 lap that I was racing a race within a race as there was only me and a guy from Macclesfield together, no one in sight in front. Was feeling strong and decided to kick on down the long canal stretch on the final lap, as this fella had beaten me at the Wetton race. I like to think am strong on the hills but so was he, so my plan was to get to the climb up through the woods near the finish before him. Pulled away and came through 30 odd secs in front, again in 8th. Pleased with run and just concentrating on building a solid base for the rest of the year now. Special mention to Deb, who had been ill all week and only decided to run on the night, having a fantastic run to finish 3rd

Oakamoor is my favorite race of the Summer Series having done it a few times during my pre-season training over the years. Having come up to 3 months training injury free, which is just about my longest spell since I started running, have started to feel a bit fitter and stronger just lately. Decided at the weekend that I was going to go off hard and see how much I could hold on. Carl asked me again on the night if I was still going to do it and I said yes. He told me after that he was unsure it was the right decision as it was so hot etc, but am of the opinion that itís about hurting yourself and pushing through the pain barriers, both mentally and physically (as Carl can do himself) so was sticking to my plan. Went off much harder and got to the woods after about ľ mile in the leading group. Jase from SMAC accelerated away up the woods, as I tucked into the chasing group. The 1st 2/3 of the course is really undulating, with a nasty climb at about halfway. At around 3 Ĺ miles I was still with the leading group, guys that I have been roughly 2mins behind recently, but was tiring badly. As I turned on to the long slog of a railway track around a mile or so from the finish Iíd dropped off the pack and was really hanging on. Luke, my Monday night training partner, caught me with about Ĺ mile to go and pulled away. At this point I was really struggling but dug in as best I could. Came through in 5th, my best position on the series (there were a couple of guys missing to be fair), but 50s up on last yearís time. Happy that I gave it a go to go harder , next aim is to last the pace but sure that will come with consistent training.

Enjoyed the series and happy overall with my performances. Interestingly since my opening line about being unable to train on the road, these last few weeks have actually felt able to, and have started to feel the benefit. Now just looking forward to staying injury free, keep improving and most of all, enjoying my running.

Adam, thank you so much for that fantastic and inspiring report. After what you have been through and the training you've done you deserve every success mate and believe me I know how hard it can be coming back from injury so you have my ultimate respect. You can find all the results from the Summer series HERE and there is one final race this Thursday if anyone would like to try.

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UltraTrail Peak 40


Jill Phillips and Frank Murphy went along to Ashbourne for the UltraTrail Peak 40 and Thanks to Frank for sending this race report (you may want to make a coffee first):

28th July 2012 saw me starting a 50 mile ultra distance marathon. I crossed the finish line in the early hours the next morning, feeling fresh, if not a little broken. My time of 16 hours 25 minutes left me feeling I still had a lot to prove. As soon as I got home on Sunday night I started looking for another challenge, something that would push me but I could push back harder. I wanted to challenge myself, give my everything, and come out the other end having proven to myself and the people that get behind me, that I am more than capable of pushing myself and hitting my targets.
I found the ULTRApeaks 40 miler starting near Matlock, and ending up in Derby. Perfect. I was injured from the Lakeland 50 and my main goal of the year was to do well at the Meerbrook 15K in a few weeks. I decided that to train for the ultra, or even Meerbrook would lead me to injury so thought it best to do nothing. Iíd seen Brian Cole countless times to help sort my legs out, and each time I said Ďjust get me right for Meerbrook, Iíll worry about the rest afterwardsí.
Meerbrook came and went, I worked as hard as I could and smashed last yearís time by 8 minutes and knocked 101 places off last yearís. Soon enough I found myself back in Brianís clinic as my leg was yet again wrecked!!
Now it became Ďjust get me right for the ultra, Iíll worry about the rest afterwardsí! And he did! I felt fighting fit, despite not having ran properly in weeks I felt really confident I could go out and do what Iíd wanted. I had no plan, just to go out and run hard. Grit my teeth and run hard, and not stop running hard until I crossed the line. I decided to go hard, but gentle enough that I could do negative splits over each 5 miles. My last 5 miles was going to be a sprint, there was absolutely no doubt about that. Iíd said for a while that unless I crossed the finish line exhausted and in pieces then I wonít have worked hard enough. Iíd prepared all my kit over the week and by Friday afternoon I was raring to go, well and truly in the zone. Normally I carb load for a few days before the big runs but had said to Brian a few days before that I want to test myself, see what I can do without sports supplements. He told me about a run of his where he was ahead of time for miles and miles, but because he hadnít taken on enough nutrition, he flopped towards the end. I just thought he was telling me his story. Looking back, Iíve realised he was saying Ďdonít be a plank, thatís what theyíre for, use themí!
I was all set, raring to go and just before bed, I text Jill Phillips, a team mate from Trentham RC, to see what time sheíd like to be picked up. Her reply; Ďthe race is on Sunday, not tomorrow.í What a moron. Iíd entered Ďrace-the-trainí on the Saturday and given my place away so I could do the ultra, but the idea I was racing on a Saturday still stuck with me. All the hype Iíd built up in myself dwindled away. I went through the next day like normal, didnít have the winning feeling Iíve had a few times in the past when Iíd built myself up to do particularly well; like I had for Meerbrook.
On Saturday night I went to bed at 21:45. 4 hours later I was still awake. What seemed like 10 mins later Jill phoned me telling me itís 05:00 and to get some porridge down me! zzzzZZZZZ! I never have breakfast, and donít like to do anything differently on race days so I headed off to pick her up. We got to fitness first in Derby at 06:45, registered, filled water bottles and did other boring bits, and before long we were on the busses being taken to the start point 40 miles away. I sat next to a woman who had been working till 19:00 the night before and had entered when she got in from work. She didnít expect to do very well and said sheíd be last but just wanted to do it!
After a boring 40 mile journey, where she obviously flirted with me most of the way, and stole as many passing glasses as she could, we arrived at the start! A quick briefing and we were off. The first mile was along a canal towpath, single file-ish where and into a pace of about 10 min/mile until I could over take a few runners and took it up to 9:15 ish. I felt comfortable at this and knew from past runs I was more than capable of going at this pace for ever. The start of the second mile brought us to the foot of a killer, mile long hill. Iíd brought some cheap walking poles to test on this run, and if they were any good was going to buy some decent ones for some real ultras. No good left in my van though were they?! It was one of those horrible hills where you think the bit you can see ahead is the top, but once you hit that bit there is more to come, much more. It went on for a full mile at the same angle of incline and I made quite a few places up, I was in 19th now. I was happy with that, although Iím never concerned with placing, Iíd like to place well up in the results. The route flattened out and broke in to hills again and continued on the same way for a few miles. I hit the 10K mark bang on 1 hour. A bit slow but I was happy with that, Iíd planned on negative splits so had to give myself some leeway!
I had done the LL50 with a Bergen because the kit list was so comprehensive, but it wrecked my traps as I hadnít run with weight for over 10 years, so for this I brought a waist pack with two loops for bottles. The weight from it had started to pull on me and over just the next half a mile had gone from a niggle to complete agony!! I finished one water bottle and put it in a bin, it was that bad I would rather limit my fluid than carry extra weight round with me. The leg pain in my tibialis had started to flare up again, it was only mild and I could work through it and take some pain killers at the first check point.

I was having a bit of craic with three Dublin lads on the way round, they were running at a far slower pace, but were far stronger on the hills than me so we seemed to be neck and neck up till now, but theyíd started pulling ahead. A glance at my Garmin told me it was my pace that was lagging but I felt like I was still doing the same as when Iíd started. Not long later I heard somebody coming behind me. I could tell by the breathing that they were working hard to catch me. I wasnít pulling away and turning it into a race, that was for the last 10 miles. It dawned on me why they were working so hard so early. I knew who it was, I wasnít turning around and finding out, but it wasnít long before Jill came along side and said Hi, and then trundled off!! She kept up the pace, and soon enough was flirting with the 3 Irish lads a few hundred metres down the track. It was ok, I had my game plan and would get my place back soon enough, she would tire before me, despite my sore leg and the pain worsening in my back, I knew what I was doing. I had less than 33 miles to go; I could grit my teeth through that easily.
A few miles on and both my legs were killing and my back was in bits, I normally get 17-18 miles out of my legs before my tibialis start giving me grief, so why the hell were they playing up so soon? My back also was in tatters. I had taken my belt of and had strapped it over my neck. It was such a relief to have taken it off my waist; it literally was like a weight had been lifted off me! Then that started to rub on me! That was it; I wasnít enjoying any of it. Every step brought agony and negativity. There was nothing in this race for me. I was a few miles away from CP1, when I hit that I would jack in, sit down, strap my feet up and get in the sick wagon for a nice ride to the end. Iíd learn from this and come back next time and do it properly. I carried on, my pace had hit probably about 11 min/mile by now and I felt worse than Iíd ever felt on any run. Iíd be ok once I hit the checkpoint and gave up. My Garmin went off announcing I had hit the 10 mile mark. I was on the middle of a bridge. According to the plans there was a CP at the 10 mile mark. This was my chance to jack and it wasnít here. After only 10 miles Iíd forgotten the first rule of ultra running; never believe a single word the organisers tell you!! Round the corner and into a car park and the checkpoint was there in all of its glory Ė a table with a few bottles of water!! I caught a glimpse of Jill just leaving; sheíd seen me coming in and legged it!! Iíd get her! I begged the lady at the checkpoint to let me leave my waist bag, if she didnít have it off me Iíd sling it and that would be littering and sheíd be responsible! It worked!! I took out my map, an energy gel, and a sachet of maximuscle powder Brian had given me. Filled my water bottle and was off. Exactly as I planned at the CP, less than a minute, I see no point in spending any longer than you have to there, the more time spent at the CPís the less you have to run.

I entered the checkpoint in 35th position. A loss of 16 places in 8 miles. It didnít concern me yet as I knew other people would fatigue, they werenít prepared like I was, and a few were bound to drop out at each checkpoint. Hang on; wasnít I going to drop out? Shit. Iíll drop out at the next one. 30 metres down the path and I realised that they had snickers at the check point and I never took one! Iíd gone too far to turn back to get one now, so Iíd have to wait until the next CP.
A few miles on and we turned off the trail and went cross country, this is what I liked, when itís more technical, I seem to focus on the trail and the miles fly by. Then out of nowhere, the worst thing in the world. Iíll jump out of a plane, Iíll bungee jump, Iíll do anything. Nothing fazes me. But put a horse in the middle of my path and I melt. So guess what was standing there right in front of me threatening to undo the last 12 miles of hard work!! The stupid big nosed good for nothing mule wouldnít move, so like the big brave man that I am, I ran off and did about an extra 200 metres just to dog-leg round it! Over a few more fields and stiles and we rejoined the trail where Rory, the race director was waiting with encouragement and a camera Ė and a few words for me...íyour lady says the drinks are on youí Iíd been winding Jill up a few days before saying I was that confident Iíd thrash her that the last one in buys the beers. That was all I needed, I found my second wind and was off like a flash. No way would I live this down, I had to catch her and I would do it before the next check point! 50 metres later and I was back to normal! I couldnít open my stride at all and my pace had gone right down. I was on my chinstrap and the next CP couldnít come quick enough. I was jacking when I got there, all I could think of was quitting. There was no shame in quitting, and I could get a rest and a nice warm drink. Then the devil on my other shoulder would speak, telling me to get a grip, no way in the world was I quitting. If for no other reason, then Iíd never hear the end of it of my Ďfriendsí! My Garmin told me Iíd done 14 miles. I told myself there was no way I was quitting now Ė Iíd only got a marathon to go! What kind of complete eejit justifies it to himself that way?!
I was suffering now and the next 6 miles were a haze. I ran on every single blade of grass at the side of the trail to try and make it easier on my legs, my back was still in bits and my knees had started to hurt now, I couldnít believe what a state I was in and only after 15 miles! I had started to walk to ease the pain, and when I did it took all of my energy and morale to break back into a run. As soon as I started to run again, every inch of my body was screaming for me to walk, just for a bit. It went on for miles, the angel on my shoulder would talk me into walking, then the devil would scream at me to man up and run. A runner caught up with me and stopped to ask if I was alright, the fact he needed to ask was answer to his question! I planned on going to the nearest shop I saw and getting some pain killers, like a prat I left mine in my bag at the check point and hadnít taken any! He gave me 2 of his, a gift from God himself! Then a fella called Oscar caught up, he had loads of ibuprofen so gave me a sleeve. That was the best present ever! The first guy asked to have my mobile number to give to the check point staff as he was worried I wouldnít make it. He was worried for me and suggested I stopped at the CP. My expression and response seemed to be enough to let him know that I thought he was a little bit silly for even suggesting it; I was finishing even if I had to crawl! The rain started to come down, a nice relief in the heat, but sadly didnít last long! There were hundreds of cyclists along the trail, some right sexy ladies too! They were getting more and more frequent, to the point of annoyance, they were expecting me to move for them. I canít stand civvies and this stupid attitude! At around the 19 mile mark the trail widened to a tourist centre, with a tuck shop! My bottle was empty, and the angel hopped back on to my shoulder and told me to go over, get an ice cream and a drink and stretch my legs. Ace, Iíd got my order ready in my head, I could even taste the hundreds and thousands, but then right on track the devil came back, swore at me loads of times, called me a few names and told me the best I could do was go to the toilet and fill my water bottle! (not from the toilet). That alone was a godsend! I realised how long it had been since I had a drink. I had a wee bit of water left in my bottle but was saving it in case I really needed it later. Now I had a full bottle and 1 mile to go I feasted like a king on it and it didnít half bring me back to life! It was also a chance to take some pain killers. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I took 8 ibuprofen, 1 for each foot, 1 for each shin, 1 for each knee,1 for good luck and 1 for next year!! With this new lease of life came a new found energy to run at a pace of 12 min/mile!!! What the hell has happened to me!!!

I came into the check point, just short of the 20 mile mark and sat down to refill my already empty water bottle. They had cans of coke too, Iíve never tried it before for a race, but apparently it is like rocket fuel so I had half a can. I checked on Jill, sheíd passed through about 15 mins before and was 1st lady!! I was delighted for her, and it made me more determined to catch her up, just to make sure I could do all I could for her to keep her place. I checked what my position was. 55th. not bad I said out of 85. No, out of 61 the lady said!! I was devastated. How the hell had I let that happen? I had to pull something out of the bag now or I would never be able to live with myself.
I set off at what felt like a sprint. In reality it was probably just under 9 min/mile, but my watch said 16 as Iíd stopped for a few minutes at the CP. The track went on and I made a few places up here, then we went into a long old rail tunnel. I could see two runners at the end and they were my targets. I love when I run like this, slowly picking off the runner in front. When I get in this mind frame, I wonít let anybody past me, and everybody I see in front I have to take over. From this point not one runner took over me, and every single person I saw in front I overtook, I just wish it had come 14 miles earlier. We broke off the trail and into some roads, I think in Ashbourne, although Iím still doubtful that the place even exists. Ashbourne is signed from every single place in England, but you never actually get there! I went on, not letting anything slow me until at 24 miles in we hit some steps which seemed to go up and up forever. Iím sure I caught a glimpse of a runner, that was enough for me, until I caught him, I had to regard the steps as flat, I went on and on but no sign! I eventually found him halfway through a field and took him, he was the guy that gave me his pain killers earlier. I thanked him for my new lease of life that he gave me in tablet form and passed on. I looked at my watch and seemed to be having trouble breaking the task of 11 min/mileing which Iíd set myself. The going was getting slightly more technical but it was no excuse, I worked and worked to open my stride but my mind wandered, I found I had to keep pushing it every 30 seconds as I kept falling into a trot.

The trail turned into Osmaston estate and downhill. My legs were screaming but given a choice off 55th out of 61 or sore legs for a bit Iíd take the sore legs every time. I came past a few walkers and asked had they seen any runners, they told me theyíd seen 4, but seemed to lose the ability to remember where about theyíd seen them. Wazoks. Eventually, and thankfully, the downhill turned into an uphill and as I shuffled my way up the path I saw a few rabbits sat on the path, not good, meaning that the 4 runners in front had been through at least 10 mins before. I ran and ran and about 2 miles on I caught the first, then the second but that was it. We hit metalled road, so I had the chance to up my pace again and did as best I could until we turned down a trail. I saw him there in front about 500M ahead and that was it, he was mine, I worked and worked to catch him and after a few minutes had halved the distance. Then, completely unnecessarily, and very selfishly a woman riding one of those horrible four legged massive scary animals came out into the track and got between us! I had to stay behind until she buggered off and let my heart rate return to normal and then I chased him down again. I caught him and not far in front was number 2. By now we were at about 28 miles in, I just had to keep up my pace to put enough distance between us to give me enough chance to get sorted at CP3. I carried on, and soon enough, at 29.5 miles was the check point. I had a can of coke and a few pieces of snickers, the first food Iíd had all day apart from a banana and tin of sardines when we arrived. I hoped they would do the trick and give me the energy to push on and finish within 8 hours, Iíd been working it out and I had a lot of work to do to hit it, but figured that seen as we had been told the last 10 miles was down hill into Derby it would be do-able. Off I went, and after about half a mile, over took another 4 runners all running together.

These next few miles was just what I wanted, as Iíd overtake one runner, Iíd see the next on the horizon which gave me someone to aim for. Down the road in front of me about half a mile away, there was a bloke running on the opposite side of the road towards me. I was on my arse, the sun was blazing, and I could think of nothing worse than running. EVER. After this I was quitting running, itís stupid, thereís nothing good to ever come from it. Why would anybody do it? Why the hell was this bloke out on a day like this, in the middle of nowhere and running for fun? As he got closer, he crossed the road, it was Rob Tabbinor, heíd ran with Jill and had come back for me. Ace! And he had a bag of goodies too!! He gave me a bottle of orange isotonic drink which was real life amazing! We ran together for a while, then he said heíd go back for his van which was parked at the pub. Iíd passed that a while ago and I remember thinking he must have done more miles back and forth than I had!! Before he left he had told me that this road had some serious hills on it, and Jill was doing ace. The two best things for me to hear! The hills would slow everybody down and that was my chance to strike. If Iíd see somebody in front over the brow of a hill, it was all the fuel I needed to charge up them. Iíd picked out 2 or 3 more runners by the time Rob came past in his van, he pulled up alongside and asked did I want anything, I asked him to take my bag as it was annoying me, but it had my map in and would need it back before we hit Derby. I made the mistake of giving him my energy gel too! I wanted to take it at 33 miles, give it 2 miles to kick in and then use it for the last 5 miles. Another plan stuffed up!

I ran on and on and the road was unforgiving and relentless. I found out after it was called Long Lane. 10 out of 10 there then. The only way they could be closer to the truth was by calling it really really long hilly everlasting steep painful lane, but I donít think they spell too well in Derby! It went on and on, I eventually came up to Rob and ran with him for about half a mile until we went off road. I had my gel and took my map off him and went off. The next bit was the worst part, only about 4 miles to go but it was over ploughed or recently harvested fields. There were markers all throughout the course for us, yellow arrows sprayed on the road for us to follow, but they seemed to have left the village clown in charge of marking this section. I wasted valuable seconds going back and forth looking for the sometimes non-existent markers.

We came through Mackworth where the arrows pointed to a church. I had the choice to go into the church grounds that had no ground sign that people had passed through, or take one of 2 paths. Neither were marked so I chose the one that looked the most worn and went on for about half a mile before I picked up the first sign to say I was on the right track. Through the village took us into Markeaton park and following the arrows was quite easy here Ė thatís if it was a triathlon. The arrows pointed right into the lake. Seriously. I asked a few fishermen had they seen any runners but nobody had. I ran back and retraced my steps then came back following the arrows and ended up back at the lake! Luckily, from working a lot in Derby I knew the area, so went of in the direction of the city centre, where by coincidence I picked up the markers again. With 2 miles to go until the finish, this is the bit where everybody would pick up the pace. With an increase in pace comes less concentration on the route, so itís vital that the route was clearly marked. Fail. Twice more the arrows just cut short!! I stopped and asked somebody for directions but she had taken far too much heroin that day and just stood there scratching her head. I ran off and left her mid slobber and blagged my way back to somewhere I knew where I was. Again by coincidence I picked up the markers and followed them. I worked my arse off for the last 2 miles (as my pace of 13:44 & 11:46 reflect!!) to get a time of 8 hours, but crossed the line in 8:06. Not to be! Strange to think that the winner of last monthís Lakeland 100 mile race ran at the same pace!!
As I write this Iím still broken! My legs donít work, my back is wrecked and every inch of my body aches!!
Iíve learned massive lessons from this monumental cock up!! And Iíll never go into a race injured again (except the Dave Clarke 5K next week). Hopefully Iíll not be so stupid next time and Iíll stand a chance of breaking the race rather than the race breaking me! Hopefully Iíll be fit enough for the Snowdon Marathon in Oct; otherwise I might be silly enough to run anyway haha!
My splits;
Leg 1, mile 0 Ė 10 1:42
Leg 2, mile 10-20 2:14
Leg 3, mile 20-30 1:50
Leg 4, mile 30-40 2:20

Total running time 7:34
Total race time 8:06

Garmin report

Thanks to Frank for that epic race report from what sounds like an epic race. Well done to Frank and especially Jill for coming away with 2nd place in the Ladies Race

Results can be found HERE!



Page last updated 27 August 2012


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