Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Annual Review - 2009

As usual for the last post of the year I intend to look back over the previous twelve months and briefly revisit some of the many highlights of 2009. I hope you enjoyed reading about them at the time and that this post refreshes your memory as well as it refreshes mine.

Announced my intention to raise money for Orchid by undertaking a (very) long run from Otley to London. Spent three weeks looking at maps and planning a suitable route before beginning specific preparation by using a headtorch for the very first time. I also spent lots of time writing letters and emails to suitable businesses in the hope of arranging sponsorship. I currently have two sponsors so all that time was worth the effort but overall things could be better on the sponsorship front. Perhaps the economic climate is against me at the moment. Very cold weather this month made training difficult at times.

The Run To London route was measured at 218 miles. The cold weather continued and in the middle of this month I caught a cold - my first since 2006. At the end of this month the website for the Commonwealth Ultra & Mountain Running Championships was launched and The Wharfedale & Airedale Observer published a lengthy article about the Run To London.

Began assembling a dedicated crew for the Run To London. Ran most of the route checking for road works, diversions, etc. Sponsorship reached £1000 - all going towards research into the prevention and cure of men's cancers (penile, prostate and testicular) and at the end of this month Up And Running donated lots of kit, and some shoes, for me to use whilst on the long road south.

At the start of the month I took part in the North of England 12 stage relay for my club - Otley AC. Had a very enjoyable day in Stockport where we qualified for the National 12 stage relay for the first time in the club's history. In the middle of the month Keir took part in a 5k race in Leeds as part of his Duke of Edinburgh (bronze) award - very proud of him.

Three women and one man represented Britain at the World 24 hr Challenge in Italy where Anne-Cecile Fontaine ran 243.644 km to fall short of the world record by an agonising 13 metres. Also this month Nadeem Khan wrote a profile of me for the IAU website detailing the Run To London. At the start of the month I had three very successful crew meetings in Leeds where I met many of the dedicated bunch of helpers for the first time ... I was very impressed by their dedication and willingness to give up their weekend to help me raise as much money as possible. And then I resigned (after almost ten years) as secretary of Otley AC and as race director of the Otley 10 ... the workload was becoming more and more unmanageable and the resulting pressures had meant that something had to give. Also attended an England Athletics ultra squad weekend where I met a few of my heroes for the first time. Interviews with Radio Leeds and Yorkshire TV Calendar followed towards the end of the month. Oh .. and then there was the Run To London.

Donations are still welcome at Bmycharity.

Began training seriously for the Commonwealth Championships later in the year. There was also the Otley 10 where I helped at the finish for a change. This was followed a few days later by a large get-together of myself and many of those who helped raise well over £2000 for Orchid a few weeks earlier. Later in the month Assist Creative Resources decided to sponsor me by supplying Shotz electrolyte tablets, Shotz gels and Shotz energy bars - all very welcome for the race(s) in Keswick (and beyond). At the end of the month I ran a 5k race around a reservoir near Rochdale and was rewarded with an age-graded pb. Considering I ran 218 miles only four weeks earlier this was a big surprise ... as was the presentation by Andy O'Sullivan before the race.

Greg Mulholland MP tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons about the Run To London followed a few days later by phone confirmation that I had been selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Championships. In the middle of the month I had a bad race in Hull - I guess my body needs more than seven weeks recovery after 218 miles in 45 hours. At the end of the month I took part in the Washburn Valley Relay for my club.

The England kit (part of it) arrived in the middle of the month and I road tested all of it at least twice. Cannot be too careful about seams, good fit, chafing, etc in long ultras. Felt a bit strange though running around Wharfedale in England kit. At the end of the month I spent a week crash training ... ran over 160 miles and spent over 32 hours running, cycling, stretching, strength training, etc. A very tiring month.

At last ... the Commonwealth Championships ... I spent five nights in Keswick and my race was on days two and three. Overall it was a very good few days and I was very pleased with my position and my team silver medal.  Less pleased with my overall distance though - I should have run at least 4k more. I know I can do that.

At the start of the month a family member died and at the end of the month I spent a few days in hospital having a throat operation. Also in this month came the sad death of the brother-in-law of Helen Barber - one of my helpers on the Run To London. He had been suffering with penile cancer for a while but was hoping to run part of the way with me. Sadly he took a turn for the worse and his health then sadly deteriorated quickly.

Greg Mulholland MP tabled another Early Day Motion, this time trying to get the British media to give more coverage to ultra distance running. Spent this month slowly getting back to fitness after my illness and surgery.

Finally got around to analysing all the lap times from Keswick. Set personal bests at 50k, 100k, 150k, 200k, 50 miles, 100 miles, 6 hrs, 12 hrs and 24 hrs. At the prestigious BBC Sports Personality Of The Year I was disappointed that the Commonwealth Championships were not deemed worthy of even a brief mention. Very bad weather this month caused the cancellation of the Otley AC Christmas handicap for the first time ever.
Overall 2009 was an amazing year with two big highlights. I'd like to thank everyone who contributed in any way whatsoever but particularly my sponsors ASSIST Creative Resources Ltd., FitnessFootwear.com and Alan Young for all his help and advice (for 2009 and beyond).

As for the future ... well May 2010 has the World 24hr Challenge in Brive-la-Gaillarde and in September there's the Perth 24 hr race (probably). The only downside is that UK Athletics won't select the team until February - so it's a case of keep training for now and hoping for that UK vest. Possibly fit in a couple of other races too but these are my 'target races' for the next twelve months.

If not this year then I'm confident of putting in a very good performance in Perth which will strengthen even further my case for selection for the 2011 championships.

Happy New Year and/or Hogmanay to you all ... and thanks for reading.

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