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.

Monday, 28 December 2009

shoe review

The North Face - Hedgehog GTX XCR

Many thanks to FitnessFootwear.com for these shoes.

The first thing to note about these shoes is the soles. As soon as I removed them from the box I noticed that the very deep lugs seem more than capable of dealing with all trail running possibilities.

The shoes are marketed as being for 'fast paced hikers' but I guess most trail runners would be more than happy in these as they are lightweight, waterproof, breathable and durable. The North Face have designed these with a grippy Vibram® outsole and a low-cut profile for fast movement across varied terrain.

Other features include: waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex® XCR® membrane. Abrasion-resistant, bomber synthetic nubuck and breathable sandwich-mesh upper. Northotic ergonomically-designed footbed with Poron® forefoot and heel inserts and AgION® antimicrobial footbed covering a lightweight, compression-molded EVA midsole.

I have used these shoes quite a few times this month running on The Chevin, through Danefield and along other paths and trails around Otley. The uppers have not really proved waterproof but that is probably more due to the snow (deep in places) than to wet grass and mud.

As expected the grip has been excellent in all conditions except black ice but, surprisingly, the laces are a weak point and are frayed at the ends already.

Overall an excellent choice for trail runners ... and they are available in various colours and styles. All available here.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Christmas handicap

Today was my first quick training session since my illness.  It was going to be Otley AC's annual Christmas handicap near Timble in the beautiful Washburn Valley.

Unfortunately, due the very bad weather recently, it was cancelled yesterday morning.

So ... this afternoon I did a tempo run.  Three miles at about half marathon pace on a course that still had a few icy patches.   Fun.

Very surprised by my time which worked out at about 6:40 per mile.  My target was somewhere between 6:37 and 6:45 per mile.

Further proof that I'm getting back to fitness ... rapidly.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

TV news coverage

Did anyone watch television last Sunday evening ... in particular the Sports Personality Of The Year on BBC 1. Here are my thoughts:

Let me begin by congratulating the BBC on a first class program.  As always it provided an excellent general review of the sporting year.

This year though I felt that something was missing.  As the program was essentially a review of the sporting year I feel that mention should have been made of a Commonwealth Championships which took place only three months ago.

The championships in question had 16 gold medals at stake which included men, women and teams.  British sports men and women won well over 50% of the medals on offer.  Yet no mention was made of their achievements either on sports programs or news reports at the time or on the Sports Personality Of The Year program.  A little unfair I believe.

What's more, these championships were not for a so-called minority sport such as darts, gymnastics or archery but for two branches of the mainstream sport of athletics known as ultra distance running and mountain/fell running.

In my event, the 24 hr running race, John Pares (Wales) claimed an individual bronze medal in the men's race. The England women's team were awarded the gold medal and the England men's team the silver medal. Sharon Gayter (England) won the women's race with Vicky Skelton (England) finishing second and the Scottish women claiming a team bronze medal to add to the team bronze medal their men had won.

Yet no mention of any of this on a national news or sports program when the event was held in September.

In May next year the 24 hr World Challenge will be held at Brive in France and many people have predicted that the UK runners have a good chance of bringing home some medals. Hopefully mention will be made on BBC news and/or sports programs of all their achievements.

As England's first finisher in the Commonwealth Championships (fifth overall) I know that ultra distance runners are just as dedicated and train equally as hard as athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah - but without any lottery funding whatsoever.

The overall perception of ultra distance running with the public is not helped by commentators such as Brendan Foster who portray the marathon as the ultimate endurance race.  It isn't, for ultra distance runners such as myself 26 miles is just another training run - not a particularly long one either.

Hopefully things will change regarding media coverage of our events ... but I fear it will be almost as long as some of our races.

Friday, 11 December 2009

recovery complete

Went to hospital this morning for a check up after my recent illness and the good news is that I've completely recovered and can now begin training normally.

Obviously I'm not going to run anywhere close to 100 miles next week ... or even manage a 20 mile long run. But from a modest base I can now begin to build with confidence.

I have been trying to maintain fitness as much as possible and I believe I'm in a good position to begin training and making plans for next year which will hopefully include the World 24 Hour Challenge in Brive (13/14 May).

I don't expect to hear about possible selection until mid February at the earliest which is a bit of a nuisance really ...

Finally managed to analyse the mass of data I received from the England management following the Commonwealth Championships.  This data comprised full lap times for every runner which show that in Keswick I set personal bests at 50k, 100k, 150k, 200k, 50 miles, 100 miles, 6 hrs, 12 hrs and 24 hrs ... not bad for a days work.

The data also shows that after about 19 hours (120 miles) I was slowing drastically and between 21 and 23 hours it was just a case of hanging on.  I did up the pace ever so slightly between 220k and 230k which I'm pleased about.

I've also just updated some of the stuff on the sidebar to the left.

Monday, 7 December 2009


My love of coffee has been well documented on this blog quite a few times in the past couple of years.  At the moment I'm drinking Starbuck's Christmas Blend ... and enjoying every mouthful of the spicy, sweet, dark roasted brew.

Earlier today, whilst reading the Mud Sweat & Tears website I came across a link to an article about the effects of caffeine on athletic performance. The piece originally appeared in The New York Times back in March this year but you can read it here.

It's good to know that caffeine is helping my ultra distance races although based on personal experience after my most recent three or four races I'll probably try caffeine tablets rather than a caffeine loaded drink. This is because I don't drink enough at any one time to get any significant benefit, ie 200ml drink doesn't contain enough caffeine.

My usual drink, Lucozade Sport with caffeine normally contains about 32mg caffeine per 200ml.  This equates to about 0.57mg per kg of my body weight and from my research I would suggest I need about 3mg per kg body weight.  Which is about 168mg caffeine or 1050ml Lucozade Sport.

It's obviously not practical to drink more than a litre all at once during an ultra race ... so caffeine tablets may be the answer.

Monday, 30 November 2009


Getter better all the time.  Now I'm able to increase the pace of my runs slightly, no quicker than about 7:45 per mile though (4:48.9 per km).  I'm also not to run for longer than an hour or so for this week and next.

Things are looking good though and all is set for me to begin training as normal on Saturday 12 December.

Recently I've also been cycling quite a bit and doing the usual stretching and strength/conditioning exercises which has taken my average weekly training time to more 10 hours for the first time in two months or more.

The first thing on the horizon really is the Otley ACs annual Christmas handicap held near Timble in the wonderful Washburn Valley about 7 miles from my house.  A very good social event which will be held this year on Sunday 20 December.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

mini update

England Athletics have produced a newsletter, Setting The Pace, which is available to download from their website. The winter 2009/10 edition has a short article about the recent Commonwealth Championships in Keswick.

I've also noticed that recently England Athletics have started putting much more ultra stuff on their site and have even included some English records - take a look.

At the moment I'm averaging about 8h 45 training per week which I'm quite pleased about considering my recent illness.  I know it's a long way short of the 20 hours + I was managing at the end of August but I'll get there in the coming months ... the key is not to rush when it comes to recovery from either illness or injury.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

progressing well

Everything is progressing very well following my recent spell in hospital.  Running has to be slow at the moment - my throat is still not up to 'puffing and panting'.

Lots of cross training though ... stretching, cycling, strength exercises.

Overall I'm feeling very positive about things at the moment - things are looking good.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

A few weeks ago, before my recent illness, Adam Smith of fitnessfootwear.com let me have a pair of shoes from North Face - Hedgehog GTX XCR.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to wear them enough to give a proper review - they have been good though on the times I have worn them.I will review them properly in December after I've worn them around the Wharfedale fields and tracks a bit more.

In the meantime you can read more about them here and here.  Other North Face shoes can be found here

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

running again

Earlier this afternoon I went out for my first run since leaving hospital.  Only 40 minutes at a slow pace but it was good to be out in the fresh air and exercising again.

I now truly feel that I'm on my way back ... to some good performances next year.

Because of my recent illness I've had to change my list of upcoming races - a revised list of stuff I have planned at the moment is here.  Of course, this list is always subject to change.

I'm glad I had a supply of decent coffee to sustain me during my time off.  Recently I've been drinking Italian Roast by Starbucks which is excellent.   I do like the dark roasted stuff, I also seem to like Indonesian coffees and on the whole I like the excessively nutty and/or fruity coffees less.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

more media coverage

Received a letter recently from my MP (Greg Mulholland). Parts of it read:

"As I've previously told you, running is one of my passions, and it is great to see so many nations featuring at such a vibrant event [as the recent Commonwealth Championships]."

"I have tabled Early Day Motion 2193 ... I've drawn particular attention to the fact that there is, in my opinion, far too little coverage given of running on television.  I hope that future Championships gets a higher priority which will in turn encourage young people to get involved in the sport."

The Early Day Motion can be seen here and on reading it it is obvious that he wants the sport of ultra distance running to have a much higher media profile - particularly on television.  Let's all hope broadcasters take notice.

Thursday, 5 November 2009


You've probably all noticed that I haven't posted for a while.   The reason is straight forward - I've been ill.

If you read my report of the Commonwealth Championships you'll be aware that as a child I had a recurrent papilloma on my larynx which I last had removed in 1983.

Well, my recent illness was diagnosed as a recurrent papilloma.  To say this was a massive surprise is surely the understatement of the year.  One good thing is that when I was younger the removal of the growth was by scalpel whereas nowadays they use a laser.  This cuts down the recovery time substantially.

One minor operation later and I'm now back home and planning to start running (interspersed with walking) next week.   Until December I've got to be careful to avoid heavy breathing ...

For the past few days I've been living on soup and ice cream - the chocolate & ginger ice cream that Fay found in Ilkley is wonderful.  Almost worth having a throat operation just for this [or maybe not !!!].

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Shotz, ultrarunning and me

Jim at ASSIST creative resources [the people who have been kindly supplying me with Shotz since June] phoned me a few days ago to congratulate me on my performance at the recent Commonwealth Championships.

I had previously sent a copy of my race report to Steve Raven - the man at ASSIST who I had been in regular contact with - who forwarded it to Jim.

Jim then wrote a good article about me, Shotz and ultrarunning in general which he posted on two websites here and here.

Also today, Wendy Lynas (Team Manager for the Commonwealth Championships) emailed her Official Report of the event. It makes very good reading indeed and there's lots for me to learn from and take with me to any future championship race I may be selected for.

Wendy also forwarded an excel spreadsheet from the lap recorders on which are all the lap times for all the runners in the event.  Fantastic reading for 24 hour runners who need to know exactly where things worked, where they didn't, where they slowed down, speeded up, toilet breaks, walking breaks, etc, etc.

All in all this is a fantastic resource to help planning future race and understand how I could have improved.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Tooting Bec ... update

I've just seen the official results from the Tooting Bec 24 hr race and it appears that Richard Quennell was just short of 235 km.  Still a very good result for him though.

This means that the UK still has only two men over the A standard for the 2009 World Championships.  And now three men over the B (team) standard of 225 km, ie myself, Jim Rogers and now Richard Quennell.

This means, in theory that, if the qualifying standards for the 2010 World Championships remain at 2009 levels then John Pares and Stephen Mason will be automatically selected based on their performances at the Commonwealth Championships.

Then, if UKA decide to send a full team, they can choose one or two or three from myself, Jim and Richard.

Now, having achieved a personal best in my first championship race is surely a point in my favour.

I know I can improve on that too - I just need a chance to prove it ... in Brive next May.

I feel a bit better than I did last night.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Tooting Bec 24 hr race

Congratulations to Richard Quennell who won this race with over 236 km (147 miles).

He's achieved a really good distance which relegates me to fourth in the UK this year ... and possibly means that I won't be selected for next year's World 24 hr Championships in Brive.

For this year's World Championships the qualifying standard was 235km and if it remains the same for 2010 the UK has three men ahead of that already - John Pares, Stephen Mason and now Richard Quennell.

Having the live updates on the website worked really well and it was good to be able to follow the race every few hours. It would have good if the Commonwealth Championships could have had something similar in place.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

new training schedule, new sponsor

First of all I'd like to say a big 'thank you' to FitnessFootwear.com for supplying me with more shoes, this time for off-road training.  About twelve months ago they provided me with a pair of New Balance MR1062 but now they've let me have some North Face Hedgehogs.  They'll be very useful as I plan to train off-road more often in the future as it does lead to less injuries than road running.

Thanks also to Tom Meldrum for all his encouragement this year ... and for the comment on my report from the Commonwealth Championships (see previous post).  I'm not sure about being described as a hero though. I hope he has a good race at Tooting Bec this weekend - and that his ankle holds up well.  The webite indicates that there will be regular updates throughout the race.  The address is http://uk.srichinmoyraces.org/ultras/24hour_09/home09

I now have a training schedule in place taking me up to May next year and, hopefully, the World 24 hr Challenge in Brive, France.  After evaluating this year's training I've decided that a couple of things could do with improving: nutrition/diet and recovery between training sessions.

For the nutrition/diet element I know that the main thing is to increase the amount of fruit and veg I eat and also to cut down on the number of croissants [that will be difficult - but worth it next May].

For recovery I need to a proper post training plan in place which will include hydration, nutrition, rest, etc

I'm also re reading the articles by Frank Horwill and trying very hard to implement the nutritional advice he gives.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

lots of pages updated

At last ... here it is ... my report from last month's Commonwealth Championships.  As I mentioned in a previous post it was delayed due to death, illness, Annual General Meetings, etc.  You can read all about the race here.

I'll also put a link on the left hand side, near the top.  Which reminds me, quite a bit of the side bar has changed in the last day or so, and also there's been updated to all these pages:

Future Races
Help And Advice
My Races
My PBs

Hope you enjoy reading about all that happened in Keswick three weeks ago.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

hope you're still waiting

Well ... "we're waiting" I hear you all shout.  I know you mean my race report from the Commonwealth Championships.

It'll only be another two or three days - and here's why (without going into too many details):

- a death in the family held things up big time last week
- I've developed a horrible cold this week
- I've also been planning my training for the next eight months or so with lots of help from Alan Young
- other pages on this site needed updating too, more details soon
- had an AGM to plan for Otley Parish Church Scouts (I was the secretary, now chairman and newsletter editor)
- had to attend the AGM of Otley AC (I was the secretary and race director of the Otley 10, now vice president only)

As you can see I've hardly been idle.

Anyway, the wait is almost over.  Just hang in there another few days.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

world 24 hr challenge 2010

I've just been looking at the IAU website on which are the up to date world rankings - thanks to Andy Smith.

Looking carefully at the statistics shows that if those were the finishing distances and positions in next year's World Championship then the UK men would finish as fourth team behind Australia, Germany and Russia.

That is a fantastic thought and surely on that basis John Pares, Stephen Mason, Jim Rogers and myself will be selected for the race which is on May 13/14 next year at Brive-la-Gaillarde in France

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

random thoughts from Keswick

I'm just starting to get a report together about the race but in the meantime here are a few random thoughts, in no particular order:

The camaraderie was absolutely fantastic, not just amongst English 24 hr runners, but amongst runners in all races from all participating countries.

Thanks to Wendy Lynas for making sure I didn't collapse/faint/pass out at the end of the race.

The staff at the youth hostel were amazing, particularly those in the restaurant who kept us fed and watered ... and laughed at the size of my appetite the evening before the race.

Learnt a lot from Chris Finill, at about 16 hours it became obvious that he was struggling and was having a bad time.  He still continued though and kept plugging away right to the end for the sake of the team.

An amazing new pb from Sharon Gayter - 226k

And from John Pares - 244k

A Commonwealth Record for Martin Fryer - 255k

The temperature dropped to about 7 degrees C overnight and the sight of Arun Kumar Bhardwaj (from India) in multiple layers of hats, gloves, tops, etc was a sight to behold.  At this time of year the night time temperature in India is about 24 degrees C.

Andy Eccles was a magnificent cheerleader.

Alan Young must have some stunning and amazing photos from all four days of competition and from the medal presentations too.

It was a pleasure to meet people whose careers I've followed in magazines for years, eg Bashir Hussain, Carolyn Hunter-Rowe.

Meeting an old friend in Keswick on Sunday afternoon.  I hadn't seen Sharon since 1986 and to see her again was great.

Lots of local people stayed awake all night to watch and cheer the runners.

The smell from the portaloos at the end of the race ...

The weather was fantastic during the race and good for the other races too.  Hardly any rain for four days in the Lake District - miraculous.

The Canadian mountain runner who, on Monday morning at 8.30am, realised he needed to be at Heathrow airport for a 12.05pm flight home.  He had no transport arranged and no money either.

The speed of the 100km runners - sprinters !!!

The thought of Pat Robbins and Andy Eccles carrying Don Ritchie back to his hotel from the pub at 1.00am on Monday morning [this is true - it actually happened].

My fifth position in my first championship race - with a pb too (231k). Also my team silver medal.

Wow ... all those memories. Enough to last a lifetime - or until next time.

Monday, 21 September 2009

back home ... happy but weary

Not been back long and I thought it appropriate that my first post should be a quote from the letter I received from Walter Hill (men's team coach) before he left Keswick.  I hope he doesn't mind, I don't think he will.

"Sorry that I had to go

first England vest
first English runner
fifth in the Commonwealth
silver team led in by you

Well Done
An outstanding achievement [and a new personal best]

What more could we ask for"

When I read the above on Saturday night I almost burst into tears.  Up until that point everything had still been a bit of a blur and it none of what happened in the race had sunk in really.

Thank you Walter for making me aware of my achievements.

Monday, 14 September 2009

nearly there now ...

I've got a few minutes spare here so I thought I'd post something.  At the moment I'm making sure everything is in good working order and that I have all the food/drink I need - as well as all the other stuff.

food and drink ... check
racing kit ... check
other clothes ... check
first aid stuff ... check
toiletries ... check
maps, books, mp3 player, mobile, etc ... check

For the past few days (and the next few days) I'm not doing much at all.  Carbo loading, relaxing, resting, visualising, banishing negative thoughts, carbo loading, reading, packing, trying to keep calm, last minute planning, eating.

Things I'm not doing:  caffeine, alcohol, running (much), loud music, wasting nervous energy.

Over the past six weeks I've had numerous emails from Wendy Lynas (England team manager - 24 hr) and from what I know I would say she's done a very good job so far keeping everyone informed and no doubt answering lots of questions and queries from those new to international competition (like me ...).

Richie Cunningham has a good piece on his blog about the 1978 Football World Cup and the brilliant goal scored by Archie Gemmell against the Dutch team.  Richie seems to use this to psyche himself up for his own attempt at 'beating the English' in Keswick at the Commonwealth Championships.

Does Richie also remember the Home Championship football competition from the same year when England beat Scotland 1-0 at Hampden Park with a goal by Steve Coppell ?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

team news

Recently there's been a couple of last minute additions to the England team for the 24hr race in next week's Commonwealth Championships.  The five men are:  Ken Fancett, Chris Finill, Pat Robbins, Jim Rogers and myself.  The five women are:  Sandra Brown, Marie Doke, Sharon Gayter, Vicky Skelton and Ramona Thevenet-Smith.

There are 22 runners in the men's race and 22 in the women's race from the following countries:

Australia (six men and six women)
Canada (three men and four women)
England (five men and five women)
India (one man)
Isle Of Man (one man and one woman)
Kenya (one man)
New Zealand (one man and three women)
Scotland (three men and three women)
Wales (one man)

A few surprises here:   Kenya - hope their guy isn't as good as the top 10k and marathon runners; only four countries have sent men's teams - increasing the likelihood of England being among the medals; no runners from South Africa (none in the 100k race either).

I would guess that the individual favourites would be Martin Fryer and Jonathan Blake (both from Australia) and Sharon Gayter (although Vicky Skelton isn't far behind).  Martin ran a fantastic 48hr race in Surgeres earlier this year to place second on the all time list with 433.686 km - his feet were a real mess afterwards though.  Sharon had a great run at Badwater [hope she's recovered].

Still relaxing lots - no loud music, no late nights, no stress ... and no caffeine.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

nine days and counting

Everything seems to be moving in the right direction again thanks to my father (Keith), my mother in law (Elizabeth) and most importantly my father in law (Keith).

Special thanks to Sharon too ... reading her email brought a tear to my eye !!!

Back to normality.  Over the last few days I've been buying last minute supplies of custard, protein recovery bars, flapjack, jaffa cakes, dried apricots.  Only have grapes to buy and obviously I'm going to get those nearer the time.

Second week of tapering and I'm beginning to relax a lot more now.   Tim Noakes writes: "the more time you can spend in solitude and in personal reflection during this period, the better you will cope with the mental demands of the final quarter of the ultra marathon."

With a teenage son I know this isn't going to be easy but it can be done and now that all the planning and shopping is out of the way there's an increasing amount of time for relaxing.

Nervous though - this is easily the most important race I've taken part in ... and I started running in 1972.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

well prepared

Well, today is the first day since my crash training week that I've not felt tired.  The worst day for tiredness was yesterday ... five days after crash training finished.  I've still been training - about half my normal load, but that's OK as I'm now in tapering mode anyway.  The big race is only two weeks away ...

I've also had a headache for the past couple of days (it is slowly getting better now though) which I reckon is due to my switch from normal to decaffeinated coffee in preparation for the Commonwealth Championships. Caffeine withdrawal sucks.

Now, lets have a look at some statistics.  These figures refer to an 'average' week between 1 Aug 2009 and 28 Aug 2009.  I've included for comparison, in red, figures relating to an 'average' week between 31 Aug 2008 and 28 Sep 2008 which was just before my last 24 hr race (when I set my pb).

miles per week ... 104.34 ... 87.68

running time ... 15h 11:16 ... 12h 54:34
cycling time ... 2h 19:25 ... 2h 05:24
stretching time ... 1h 47:13 ... 1h 25:09
strength/conditioning time ... 1h 15:52 ... 1h 41:42
eccentric achilles stretches time ... 30:01 ... 27:21

total time ... 21h 03:46 ... 18h 34:10

running sessions ... 8 ... 5.75
cycling sessions ... 2.75 ... 2.5
stretching sessions ... 8 ... 6
strength/conditioning sessions ... 2.25 ... 3
eccentric achilles stretches sessions ... 2.25 ... 2.5

resting heart rate ... 43.4 ... 45.5
weight ... 57.2 kg (126.0 lb) ... 57.7 kg (127.1 lb)

The upshot of all this is that I appear to be quite a bit fitter and healthier than I was 12 months ago.  I'm in good shape to do well at the Commonwealth Championships in a couple of weeks time - I'm looking forward to it.  Seven days intensive training inevitably took it's toll but I'm feeling much better now and tapering hard.

Although as a non-driver it isn't going to be easy getting there on public transport, especially as Keir wants £200 to £300 in the next fortnight as a deposit for a school trip to Russia as part of his A level History course. Is anyone out there driving from (or through) West Yorkshire to Keswick on Wednesday 16 September and can give me a lift ?

Friday, 28 August 2009

crash training - day 7

7.25am steady (approx 6.5 miles)

noon stretching

2.25pm tempo run (approx 10.5 miles)

5.45pm stretching

6.50pm strength and conditioning

7.35pm 50 minutes on the bike

Heavy rain and strong winds this morning.  The plan for this afternoon's run was to do 8 miles at 6:37 to 6:42 per mile.  It was far too windy and in the end I was pleased with 6:53 per mile.

Well, it's all over ... at last.

Overall I spent over 32 hours 20 minutes training during the past seven days.  This included over 162 miles of running in over 23 h 41 m.  Cycling took over 3h 20 m, stretching took over 3 h 5 m and strength/conditioning exercises took almost 2 h 14 m.

Got to go now ... very tired ... zzzzz

Thursday, 27 August 2009

crash training - day 6

7.40am steady (13 miles +)

11.35am stretching

1.50pm eccentric achilles stretches

3.20pm strength and conditioning

6.35pm stretching

7.15pm social run with club (6 miles +)

I had noticed that my morning runs were becoming slower as the week progressed: 8:20 per mile last Saturday, 8:51 on Sunday, 8:36 on Monday, 8:41 on Tuesday and 9:10 yesterday.  I decided to try and run a bit quicker this morning - despite my tired legs - and managed a very pleasing 8:16 per mile.  Ankle is good.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

crash training - day 5

7.35am steady (15 miles +)

12.45pm stretching

3.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

7.05pm fartlek (6 miles +)

8.15pm stretching

Not as tired as expected. Ankle still not perfect. This morning's run was on the slow side but the weather was terrible. Finding it quite hard now to generally eat and drink enough throughout the day.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

crash training - day 4

7.25am steady run (17 miles +)

1.10pm stretching

3.30pm strength and conditioning exercises

6.20pm stretching

7.20pm social run with my club (Otley AC) (6 miles +)

Ankle is not getting any worse despite all this training. It seems to be an old injury flaring up - and I know exactly how to manage it. It's nowhere near serious enough to stop me training.

a lift anyone ?

Another appeal for help ...

If anyone reading this is travelling to Keswick by car (or van) and passing anywhere near Otley, Leeds or Bradford on Wednesday 16 September I would appreciate a lift. Obviously I would make a suitable contribution towards fuel costs, etc.

If you can help please email chris.carver@btopenworld.com

I have to be at the youth hostel in Keswick at the very latest by 3.00pm on Wednesday 16 September and I'm expected to stay until Monday 21 September.

Even if you can only offer a lift one way it would be much appreciated ... and there's so much happening in Keswick between 17 and 20 September - see here for details.

Monday, 24 August 2009

crash training - day 3

7.25am long run (20 miles +)

1.00pm stretching

2.15pm eccentric achilles stretches

3.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

5.20pm stretching

7.20pm fartlek (5 miles +)

Ankle felt a bit sore during first and last ten minutes of this morning's run. Nothing to worry about though, plenty of ice through the day and everything seems fine.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

crash training - day 2

8.45am steady 19 miles +

1.40pm stretching

2.55pm strength and conditioning

6.30pm fartlek (8 miles +)

8.25pm stretching

Felt a bit tired this morning but this evening's fartlek was very good.   My ankle/achilles is much better today - not perfect but obviously on the mend.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

crash training - day 1

8.10am 20 miles +

1.35pm stretching

3.00pm hill reps (18 x 250m steep hill) (almost 9 miles in total)

6.15pm 50 minutes on the bike

8.20pm stretching

Pleased with the hill reps, I felt strong and ran well - keeping my form throughout.  Now though, my right achilles feels a bit sore.  I'm sitting here with an ice pack on it and I'll monitor it for the next few days.

I am prepared, if necessary, to have a few days rest from training.  I'm confident that won't be needed though.

Friday, 21 August 2009

testing the new kit

My England kit for the forthcoming Commonwealth Championships arrived yesterday.  Two vests, a pair of shorts, a long sleeved top, a windproof jacket and windproof trousers.

Now I've got to wear everything, and have it washed and worn again.  And washed a second time.  Nothing is to be worn for the first time during an ultra - everything must be thoroughly tried and tested to make sure all the seams are comfortable and nothing rubs anywhere.

During a race that lasts for 24 hours I'm sure chafed nipples would be extremely painful.

Tomorrow I begin a week of crash training.  This is basically an extreme training week in which I double everything.  Double the mileage ... double the cycling sessions ... double the strength sessions ... double the fartlek, tempo and other speed stuff.  Before last year's Tooting 24 hr race I did this and four weeks before the competition is ideal because I know that the following week can be an extremely easy training week because I begin tapering.  I first came across the idea of crash training when reading this article by renowned coach Frank Horwill.

Yesterday's training went much better than expected.  The plan was to do a 7.6 mile tempo run (using the mile markers for the Otley 10) at 6:37 to 6:42 per mile.  As it was very windy I didn't hold out much hope so I just set off at what I guessed would be the correct pace and as I passed each mile point I refused to look at the stopwatch.  I expected my speed to be up and down so I figured it was useless looking at the watch as it would just let self doubt creep in.

Anyway, at the end I stopped the watch at 51:08 which represents about 6:43.7 per mile.  Very happy.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

world challenge

The United States of America have announced their qualifying standards for next year's World Championships 24 hr race which will be held in Brive (France) in mid May.

They have decided that American men need to record 135 miles (217.262k) and women need 120 miles (193.122k).

By contrast it is likely that here in the United Kingdom the standards will be 146.022 miles (235k) for men and 132.353 miles (213k) for women.

The population of the UK is about 60 million and the population of the USA is well over 200 million. Also, overall the United States is much better at athletics than the UK - just look at the medal tables from recent Olympic Games and World Championships for proof of this - so why is our qualification standard so much harder?

On a slightly different note, I'm sure Dan Rose will be able to make the grade at the American Championships later this year. So long as his recent calf injury worries are behind him and he can get some decent training under his belt.

Otley AC handicap

Left home at about 5.15pm yesterday to run to The New Inn, Eccup for the start of a four mile club handicap. My 1 hour 45 minute warm up took in Pool, Bramhope, Cookridge and Adel and was about 12.5 miles in length.

The actual event - which includes two miles of trail and a large hill near the end - took me just less than 26 minutes.  I was well pleased with this as it was my fastest time since the year 2000.

I set off with Chris Stacey, Huw Illingworth, Laura Martin and a new member whose name I don't know. Huw set off faster than expected and within 400m I knew I wouldn't catch him unless he faded badly.  At about half a mile Chris edged ahead of Laura and myself with the new kid just behind.  About half way along the road by Eccup Reservoir I pulled away from Laura slightly and about a mile later unexpectedly caught Chris on the rough trail leading into Harewood Estate.  At this point I glanced behind and knew that Laura wasn't going to catch me again, out in front I could see lots of the earlier starters and began picking them off one by one - Tom Hannah, Phil Robinson, Elizabeth Ashton, Carol Armitstead, Carl Walsh, Dominic Egan, Racheal Bamford and Graham Stead.  I was feeling good and even managed a good sprint finish to hold off Graham when he tried to pass me again.

The 8.7 mile run home was completed in just over 70 minutes.  Again, it wasn't exactly flat, but the last two miles were downhill.  The pace was good and I wasn't trying too hard.

A very good run which will be my longest now before the Commonwealth Championships in mid September.

Monday, 17 August 2009

early morning run

This morning I left home at about 7.25am - and went for a long run, probably about 27 miles.

The route was, from my house in Otley, over the Chevin via West Chevin Road and then into Guiseley from where I took the main road through Rawdon and Horsforth to Kirkstall.  In Kirkstall I joined the Leeds Liverpool Canal and ran to Shipley before taking the main road through Baildon and up Hollins Hill then through Menston back to Otley.

The early morning peacefulness (when not on the main road) was amazing.  Hardly a soul about, I practically had the road/towpath to myself over the Chevin and along the canal - which accounted for about half the distance.

There was a bit of a headwind along the canal, and the occasional shower too, but nothing major.  Other highlights included a bloke taking his pet ferret for a walk and a group of cyclists who obviously had no intention of showing any respect for other towpath users.

I didn't move, one of them almost went in the water, hopefully they changed their minds.

At about 22 miles I arrived at the bottom of Hollins Hill which is a long drag of at least a mile climbing about 90m or so.  No problem ... up and over then down into Otley.

A very enjoyable run, not quick but as I skipped breakfast I burnt a lot of fat - a very good thing in ultra running.  Back home I had a large coffee as usual - Whittard's Breakfast Coffee today.

Four mile club handicap tomorrow evening. I plan to incorporate this into tomorrow's long run.  I'll run about 13.5 miles to the start at The New Inn, Eccup then run the four mile handicap then run almost nine miles back home.

Friday, 14 August 2009

official confirmation

A letter arrived this morning from England Athletics:

"I am pleased to inform you of your selection to represent England in the Commonwealth Championship 24 Hour race at Keswick Cumbria on Thursday 17th September 2009, Start time 12 Noon."

etc, etc

The letter was dated 31 July.

As a non driver I find that the journey from Otley to Keswick on public transport isn't going to be the easiest journey (especially as I have to take clothes for five days and everything required for a 24hr race).

If anyone reading this is travelling to Keswick by car (or van) and passing anywhere near Otley, Leeds or Bradford on Wednesday 16 September I would appreciate a lift. Obviously I would make a suitable contribution towards fuel costs, etc.  If you can help please email chris.carver@btopenworld.com

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

crew needed

Just had some bad news.  It has now been confirmed that Fay will not be allowed time away from work to crew for me in Keswick at the Commonwealth Championships.

I hope England Athletics are able to provide someone to pass me food and drinks at the appropriate time ... and look after me post race.

It has also been confirmed that the England squad will be staying at Keswick Youth Hostel and the 24 hour runners have been given rooms with bunks which are not on the ground floor.  I can imagine climbing onto the top bunk after a 24 hr race !!!

I'll have the bottom bunk.

Monday, 10 August 2009

training going well

Been training hard recently.  Long runs around Wharfedale interspersed with lots of fartlek, hill reps and faster running.

Tomorrow I'm planning to run around the Washburn Valley and the area of Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs. Only got 18 days training before I begin my usual three week taper in preparation for my most important race of the year - the Commonwealth Championship 24 hr event.

I've tailored my training in a slightly unusual way this time.  As the race begins on a Thursday (ends on a Friday) I've changed my training week to begin on a Saturday.   It is usual for training weeks to begin on Monday ... but most races are on a Sunday.

It took a while to get used to this minor change but everything is falling into place much better and it did make planning the training schedule much easier.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Guinness World Records (TM)

Late last week I received an email from Guinness World Records (TM) about the Run To London which read:

"Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for 'run from Leeds to London'. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record."

"We receive over 60,000 enquiries a year from which only a small proportion are approved by our experienced researchers to establish new categories. These are not 'made up' to suit an individual proposal, but rather 'evolve' as a result of international competition in a field, which naturally accommodates superlatives of the sort that we are interested in. We think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those that reflect the greatest interest."

"Guinness World Records has absolute discretion as to which Guinness World Record applications are accepted and our decision is final. Guinness World Records may at its discretion and for whatever reason identify some records as either no longer monitored by Guinness World Records or no longer viable."

Of course I'm disappointed and I thank everyone who has offered words of congratulations even though the event will not be recognised officially as a record.

All this was brutally put into perspective though by the news I received yesterday afternoon.  As you will know if you were a regular reader of the Run To London blog, one of the helpers, Helen Barber (Sly), has a brother in law (Mick) who has penile cancer.  Well, his cancer has spread and it isn't deemed curable ...

I really don't know what to say at this point.  I've never met Mick but Helen and I have exchanged a couple of emails recently and obviously she's a bit numb with shock at the moment.  I know from experience that the shock will pass and then the job becomes one of living life to the full - as much as is possible in light of things such as pain, swelling, morphine, etc.

I believe Helen knows this and, although my cancer obviously wasn't terminal, it does seem strange offering support because one of the few ways I know how to do that is to relate some of the things I saw and did whilst I had cancer.  I also know that talking about one's own medical history can be incredibly boring and off putting to most people.

If ever Helen needs someone to talk to though, to 'get things off her chest' perhaps ... I am more than willing to be there for her.  Just to listen, read her emails, whatever she wants.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Sorry about not posting for a while ... not had a lot to say recently.

I've decided though that I could informally and unofficially include my Run To London in the yearly 48 hr rankings produced by the DUV website.

I ran approximately 218 miles/350.836k in 45 hours on the roads between Otley and London.  According to the DUV website 350.836k would rank me at number 7 in the world if it had been a 48 hr race.

Please note that this is unofficial.  The Run To London was not a race and shouldn't be included although I was aiming for a decent time.

The actual figures can be seen on the Rankings page.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

world 24 hr challenge 2010

I've obviously not been looking.   It's been on the IAU website for a few days apparently but yesterday I received official confirmation that next year's World 24 hr event will be at Brive-la-Gaillarde in France on May 13 and 14.

The website for last year's race in Brive is here.

Now then ... what do I have to do in Keswick to be selected ? 235k perhaps ... can I do that ?

Of course I can ...

PS - very well done to Sharon Gayter who had a great run at Badwater.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

temporary marking paint (not)

For the past week or so I've been the subject of quite a few jokes regarding the orange paint on the road near the scout hut on Burras Lane in Otley.

The paint is supposed to be 'temporary marking paint' but despite lots of rain since the Run To London it still hasn't proved to be temporary.  It has faded slightly though in the nine weeks it's been there.

Although most people who see that writing will know what it was all about I have to have a laugh to myself when I think about the markings on the road at 100 miles, 200 km, 150 miles, 300 km and 200 miles.  People who see those will have absolutely no idea why they are there or what they are for.

The 100 mile mark was about 2.5 miles north of Melton Mowbray, just outside the village of Scalford.

The 200 km mark was in the village of Great Easton, just south of Eyebrook Reservoir.

The 150 mile mark was less than a mile south of Hinwick.

The marks for 100 miles, 200 km and 150 miles were on relatively busy country roads but the 300 km mark was on a very quiet country lane just south of Breachwood Green.

By contrast the 200 mile point though was a couple of miles south of Hatfield on the main road known as the A1000 or the Great North Road.  People must see the words '200 miles' on the road every day and wonder what lies 200 miles away and why those words are there.

Photos by Keir Carver, Huw Illingworth, Helen Barber, Huw Illingworth and Steve Harvey.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Washburn Valley Relay

Despite the rain - heavy at times - and the extremely muddy conditions a very good time was had by all everyone in this years Washburn Valley Relay which took place a couple of days ago.  If my memory is correct it often seems to rain at this popular summer evening relay.

Anyway I ran the first stage for my team ... probably the muddiest stage ... and was pleased to record 21:38 for the 3.25 miles.  Especially as trail running isn't exactly my favourite racing surface.  The track through the woods to the north of Fewston Reservoir was really bad in places.

My trail shoes helped a lot though ... Innov 8 Terroc 330 ... the grip on mud and wet trails is brilliant, not much grip on wet stones, rocks, etc but that didn't matter in this race.

Otley AC won the event and my team finished 39th out of 54.

Thanks to all the organisers, timekeepers, etc for putting on a good event in bad weather.

This afternoon I completed a tempo run of six miles. The plan was to run at about 10k pace but the wind wasn't going to make it easy. My target was 6:37.4 to 6:42.0 per mile and my splits were: 6:18 ... 6:24 ... 6:53 ... 6:35 ... 6:42 ... 6:50. Very pleased with this especially after it comes only a week after a quick 46 miler [see Monday 13 July 2009] and less than 48 hours after the Washburn Valley Relay.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

page updates

The following pages have been updated today:

Personal Bests
Future Races
My Races

Also updated some of the stuff on the left hand side of this page - particularly in relation to coffee.

Recently I've been drinking some coffee which I've bought at Betty's in Ilkley. So far I've tried Bosque Lya (from El Salvador), Ethiopian Mocha Limu, Galapagos Islands, Java Jampit and Sumatra Mandheling.

I've not come across Galapagos Islands coffee before and this is full bodied, rich and caramelly (very enjoyable).  My favourites though have been those from Sumatra and El Salvador - they both have an almost chocolaty taste (Sumatra is dark and El Salvador is milk).

Monday, 13 July 2009

a bad day at the office ...

Well, here's what happened ...

Arrived the night before with a tent and two crew members (Fay and Keir).  Everything was fine ... runners and the organiser, doctor and other officials were chatting away and eagerly anticipating the weekend's race.

Just before going to sleep I stubbed my toe and a toenail came off.  I know it had been loose since the Run To London but I didn't realise it had been so bad.  An omen perhaps.

Woke up in the night with cramp in my left calf ... things were not going well at all.

Before an ultra distance race I usually snack on high carbohydrate foods right up until the race starts.  This time I decided to just have a large breakfast about two to three hours before the race.  The idea behind this change is that food eaten within one hour of a race stimulates the release of insulin, which increases the amount of carbohydrate used during the race.

About an hour before the race I ambled down to see the woman from the Northern Institute of Massage to see if she could help with the cramp problem I had about six hours earlier.  After about ten minutes on her table I felt much better ...

The race began and I felt strong, it went like this:

plan - to run at 7:47 per mile (1:56 per lap)
actual - ran at 7:47 per mile (1:56 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 7:51 per mile (1:57 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 7:41 per mile (1:55 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 7:59 per mile (1:59 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 7:59 per mile (1:59 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:03 per mile (2:00 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 8:03 (2:00 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:07 per mile (2:01 per lap)
actual - walked for 7:30 then ran at 8:07 per mile (2:01 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run at 8:15 per mile (2:03 per lap)
actual - walked for 8:45 then ran for 8:55 per mile (2:13 per lap)

plan - to walk for 7:30 then run for 8:19 per mile (2:04 per lap)
actual - walked for 10:00 and later for 5:00. Ran at 9:03 per mile (2:15 per lap)

During the seventh hour, when I was beginning to try and understand why I was struggling, it suddenly occurred to me that the 218 mile Run To London was only seven weeks ago and it was obvious that I hadn't recovered enough to be able to run a quick 100 miles.

What came to mind next was a section from Tim Noakes' book Lore Of Running (fourth edition, page 662):

"Continuous running during marathon and ultramarathon races produces a specific form of fatigue due to eccentric-induced muscle damage with associated changes in neuromuscular function."

"Once this fatigue develops, it is irreversible, causing the runner to slow precipitously, or even be reduced to walking.  Complete recovery may take weeks to months."

I then decided it would be wise to stop as I didn't want anything getting in the way of a good build up to the Commonwealth Championships which are only nine and a half weeks away.

Another thing I was trying for the first time was a different length of walking break.  I usually walk for ten minutes every hour but this time I thought I'd try seven and a half minutes in a slightly shorter race.  It worked well for the first five hours but then I needed more time walking ... I had been running faster than usual though. This needs to be tried again when I'm fresh.

Some of the new food and drink choices weren't due until a few hours after I stopped running so I still don't know whether or not they would have had any benefit.  The Shot Bloks electrolyte chews were very good:  a useful way of taking on board sodium, etc and easier to chew and swallow than expected.

The REGO Rapid (protein drink) tasted much better without the addition of a Shotz electrolyte tablet.

After I retired I spent much of the remaining 17 hours enjoying the race and talking to people such as Alan Young, Adrian Stott, Eleanor Robinson, Mike Blamires, etc. I'm always willing to listen and learn from what others have to say about training, racing, nutrition, etc.

- Seven weeks recovery after 218 miles is not enough for me.
- Alan and Adrian very kindly pointed out that two bad races [by my own standards] from nine ultras is quite a good ratio.
- passed the marathon distance in 3h 38:39 and 60k in 5h 16:17 (the latter a pb by over 20 minutes).

Many thanks to Dave Annandale for organising a fantastic event and thanks also to all the lap counters too (especially Emma Annandale who was mine [sorry for not collapsing at the end though !!!]).

Thursday, 9 July 2009

experimenting in Hull

As I'm only going to be running 100 miles at the weekend, and as my major race for the year is the Commonwealth Championships in September, I've decided to use the race in Hull this weekend to experiment with one or two things.

A few different foods, hypertonic drinks near the end instead of isotonic.

Different amounts of electrolytes ... and a different source.  Thanks to the good folks at Shotz for this.

I'll also be trying a different run-walk ratio and a different running speed.

As the weather forecast is for quite a bit of rain I guess I'll be also using, for the first time in an ultra race, clothes to try keep me dry.

I'll report back after the race to let you how the experiments went.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Commonwealth Championships

Well, well, well ... what can I say except "at last ..."

Had a phone call early yesterday afternoon from Norman Wilson [chairman of ultra selection - England Athletics].  He was phoning to confirm my selection for the Commonwealth Ultra Running Championships which will take place in Keswick in mid September.

I've been selected for the 24 hr event on condition that I run no more than 100 miles next weekend at the East Hull Harriers 24 hr race. This condition poses no problems at all because I was never intending to run more than 100 miles ... I want to make sure I'm fully recovered in time for the Commonwealth Championships.

Still a few questions need answering about the Championships - crew, accommodation, meals, kit, etc. I'm sure these will all be answered in the next few weeks.

For now I'm just happy to have my selection confirmed - only about six or seven months later than expected.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

weekend away

Just returned from a good weekend in the Yorkshire Dales.  On Saturday morning Fay and I left for Barden Bridge, a few miles north of Bolton Abbey, in Wharfedale.  Arriving at 10 o'clock we then walked along the Dales Way for about 14 miles or so to Kettlewell - stopping at Grassington for something to eat.

This is a really enjoyable part of the Dales Way.  From Grassington to Kettlewell is one of my favourite stretches with wonderful sights from unusual locations.  For example Kilnsey Crag is hardly recognisable from the other side of the valley but can be easily found by looking for Mastiles Lane which snakes up and over the fell onto Malham Moor just to the south of Kilnsey.

We were lucky with the weather too.  The forecast had been for an increasingly showery afternoon and evening.  What we actually had was sunny spells and quite high temperatures all day until 5.30pm by which time we had already arrived in Kettlewell.

Apart from having an enjoyable walk the other reason for our trip to Kettlewell was to attend the wedding reception of two friends - Jake and Becca - at the village hall.  A fantastic party ensued until the early hours when a group of about a dozen of us trekked up Great Whernside to Hag Dyke which was where we were staying for the night.

Finally got to sleep at about 4.00am - woke up at 7.00am at the very latest.  A group of six of us then proceeded to make breakfast of coffee, tea, bacon sandwiches, croissants, pork pies ... and cereal.

After packing everything away we all walked back into the village and helped with the clearing away of the stuff from the village hall.  The DJ, another friend, was with our group who stayed at Hag Dyke and he left his stuff overnight in the hall.
After another coffee in a local cafe we left for home, finally arriving mid afternoon.

A fantastic weekend with a brilliant party and good company.  All the best to Mr & Mrs Carpenter - may you have a long and happy marriage.

Almost forgot ... pork pies.  The reception was slightly unusual in that the food on offer was pie 'n' peas.  The pork pies were absolutely brilliant though, quite a few of the 200+ guests mentioned that they were the best they had ever tasted.  At the end of the evening there were a number of pies left so we took half a dozen or so up to Hag Dyke.

Friday, 3 July 2009

early day motion

Had an interesting lunchtime today.

The Member of Parliament for Leeds North West (which includes Otley), Greg Mulholland has been in fairly regular contact over the past few weeks regarding my Run To London.  He's a runner himself and completed a marathon at the beginning of May.  Anyway the point is that he recently felt compelled to mention my Run To London in the House of Commons in the form of an Early Day Motion.

For those who are unfamiliar with the workings of the UK Parliament the official website states that:

"Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons.  However, very few EDMs are actually debated.  Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.  An MP can add their signature to an EDM to show their support.  They can also submit amendments to an existing EDM."

Today, at noon, I met Greg Mulholland and the Otley Town Mayor (Councillor Gerard Francis) and was presented with a framed copy of the wording of the Early day motion.

  • That this House congratulates Mr Chris Carver on the extraordinary achievement of completing a 218 mile run from Otley to London; further congratulates Mr Carver on managing to raise over £2,000 for the charity Orchid, a cancer charity dedicated to preventing, diagnosing and treating male cancers; is hugely impressed that he managed to complete this challenge in just under 45 hours and recognises the physical and mental discipline as well as intensive training that is required to complete such an impressive example of ultra distance running; and wishes him every success in his future endeavours, including the Commonwealth 24 hour Championships which takes place in September.
Very impressed that my fundraising and ultra distance running exploits seem to have reached an audience of MPs - unexpected though.  In some ways it's all a bit strange; doesn't the UK Parliament have more important work to do other than briefly talking about people such as myself.  Funding research into the prevention and treatment of cancer for example.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

long runs

Yesterday morning I had a good long hilly run around Fewston and Swinsty Reservoirs.  Although the paths around the reservoirs are not really hilly - they're not flat though - and the road to/from my house also includes some serious climbing.

I knew the weather was going to be hot so I decided to run in the coolest part of the day - morning.  When I left home at 8.30am the thermometer showed 19 degrees C (68 degrees F) in the shade.  On the exposed hill top roads of the first and last five miles it was quite a bit hotter.  The trails were excellent and had lots of trees providing nice shade.  A really enjoyable run in one of my favourite local places.

When I arrived back home at 11.50am (after 21+ miles of running) the temperature had risen to 24 degrees C (75 degrees F).

This is the area where Otley AC stage their annual Washburn Valley Relay.

Today I decided on a different route of exactly the same distance (21+ miles).  This time I ran up the valley to Chelker Reservoir and back.  Not as hilly but with a bad climb at the far side of Addingham.  Included in this run was 10 x 5 minutes at 10k pace - hard work but enjoyable.  I left home at 8.30am again when the temperature was 20 degrees C (68 degrees F).  When I got back home at 11.25am the temperature had risen to 22 degrees C (72 degrees F) but it was far sunnier than yesterday.

Only nine days to go before my next race - Hull 24 hr track race (but, as you know, I'm only running 100 miles).

Sunday, 28 June 2009

new fitness website

Apologies for not posting for a few days. I've had a few internet connection problems over here.

Great run by Jez Bragg in the Western States 100. Third place is a fantastic result and under 17 hours is a great time too.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

short race

Yesterday I travelled across the Peninnes to take part in a 5k race.  The organiser, Andy O'Sullivan, donated £50 to Orchid when he heard about my Run To London and he has since been wanting to meet me at one of the many races he organises.

In the Rochdale and Littleborough area he has organised hundreds of races over the past 26 or 27 years. They mainly range from 5k to 10k but are often around local reservoirs or in other scenic places.  They may not attract hundreds of runners - they are usually pretty basic (the race HQ is often a pub) - but the friendliness is always there.

Andy and I couldn't chat for long because, as race organiser, he was rather busy as you would expect.  Before the race though ... at the start line in fact ... there was a rather nice surprise.  He presented me with a boxed presentation salver. J ust like the picture but engraved with the words PRESENTED TO CHRIS CARVER FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO ATHLETICS.

Not sure what I've done to deserve that but I handed it back immediately [to look after until after the race].

The race in question was the Ken Taylor Cowm Reservoir Road & Trail Race. As the name suggests, Ken Taylor of Rossendale Harriers was also being honoured 'for his outstanding contribution and for being such an inspiration'.  He is also having chemotherapy at the moment as he has cancer.  Cowm Reservoir is about three miles north of Rochdale on the Bacup Road.

Anyway ... the race.  Began with half a mile uphill then two laps of the reservoir then half a mile downhill. Simple really.  The strong wind didn't help at all though and the narrow paths made overtaking difficult in places.  Reached halfway in 10:10 feeling strong, out of breath and expecting to slow slightly.  At the finish I couldn't believe the time - 19 minutes 15 seconds.  That means I completed the second half in 9:05 (5:50 per mile).  No idea about my position.

This time represents an Age Graded personal best of 17 minutes 28 seconds.  Something I'm very pleased about as it came only two days after my previous race and not too long after the Run To London.  Speedwork seems to be working OK then.

Updated the Personal Bests page too.

Friday, 19 June 2009

various things

Harrogate League race 3 last night. Richmond & Zetland Harriers organised the 5.4 mile race with a big hill in the middle - it seemed like about a mile at 1:8 (12%). Lots of people were walking up the second half of this hill which always seemed to promise to end just around the next bend.  Lots of broken promises in Swaledale last night but I was pleased that I managed to run to the top.  The weather was rubbish too ... wet and very windy.  Scenery was OK, as was the generally downhill finish.

I guess you could say it wasn't my favourite course and I'm not sure whether to be pleased with my time or not ... 37:58

Ran 6+ miles first thing this morning.  It was still very windy and my legs were a bit tired but I was pleasantly surprised at how quick it was without trying.

All the best to Richie Cunningham who's running the West Highland Way Race tomorrow - hope the weather's kind ... and for Alan Young too (he'll be there taking loads of photos).

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Just secured sponsorship from the UK distributor of Shotz nutrition. They have agreed to provide electrolyte tablets, energy gels and energy bars.

I have been using Shotz electrolyte tablets for the past couple of years now and they are very good at providing all my electrolyte needs for a 24 hr race (or even a 45 hour race recently !!!)

Check out the product here or here

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

fund raising

At our 'reunion' on Sunday all of the people there suggested they would give up another weekend to help me on another fundraising adventure.  While it's wonderful to have that level of friendship and respect - especially from those helpers who were complete strangers four months ago.  I'm completely humbled by all that but ...

"Oh shit ..." I thought, "what have I started."

Well I thoroughly enjoyed myself that weekend so I probably will do some other fundraising run BUT NOT UNTIL 2011 AT THE EARLIEST.

There are four reasons for giving it a two year rest (minimum):

(1) it would be unreasonable to ask for the same level of donations and support every year
(2) I need to consider other ultra races I may be interested in
(3) I firmly believe that to raise money for charity by 'doing something' you have to be 'out of your comfort zone'.  This means it could take a while to decide exactly what to do, and then there's all the planning and organising (and that's worse than the training ...)
(4) I need a twelve month break from all that stuff

In the meantime if anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Run To London - revisited

Yesterday I met up again with seven of the people who helped during the Run To London and we all had a good time refreshing our memories of the whole weekend.

In my case some of the holes were filled in.

Thanks to everyone who bothered to send an email recently after reading the report.  It seems that you all enjoyed reading it and I certainly plan to re read it every once in a while to remind myself of the '45 hours of madness' which was one of the greatest adventures of my life.

A couple of people recently have suggested I write a book.  I know that I do a lot of writing and I have worked as a journalist but a whole book is a bit daunting.   It will need a lot of thought first.

In general my recovery has gone very well so far with not even a minor illness or ache/pain any more.  Back to a normal training schedule now but at a reduced level (only 50 miles this week).

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Otley 10

Otley 10 last night.   I handed over the race director's role earlier this year and the new guy seems to have done a fantastic job gathering over 60 volunteers - marshals, car park attendants, timekeepers, etc, etc.

My job was recording finishers' numbers.  The first time since 1998 that I've actually had a specific job to do.  So, I stood in the drizzle for 40 minutes or so shouting out numbers while Hugh Pearson wrote them down.

From what I could see everything went well.

Photos, results, etc available on the Otley AC website.

Monday, 8 June 2009

training plans

I Hope you all enjoyed reading the account of the Run To London. Some of the photos, I think, are excellent but my favourite is the one below which was taken by Huw Illingworth. I'm on the right and Andy McMenemy is on the left. I'm not sure if anyone will understand why this photo means so much to me but I'll try and explain briefly.

In the photo I've just completed 300k in over 39 hours and on I go into the night with Andy in tow. It was well after midnight and I was feeling low at this point ... but still I plod on.

I think Huw just captured the moment without thinking about it too much - he must have been exceptionally tired at this point too having been on car duties for (too) many hours.

Anyway, that inspirational photo is now firmly installed on my PC desktop.

Training now begins in earnest for the Commonwealth 24hr Championships in Keswick on 17/18 September. The plans have all been written and, on average, I aim to run about 6 - 7% more miles per week and be on the bike three times a week instead of twice. Strength training will probably be about 10% less than last summer but hill reps will make up the difference hopefully.

Official selection date has now been put back to Monday 29 June 2009 although as I already have the 'A' standard from last year's Tooting Bec race I'm very confident of being selected.

I've also got some shorter races planned - they can be viewed over on this page.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

various updates

Just finished updating various pages:

my personal bests

my ultra races

my future racing plans

Also updated the section in the sidebar detailing my ultra personal bests in brief.

All this needed doing after a successful Run To London almost two weeks ago now.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Commonwealth Championships

Started planning my training for the next 15 weeks which will take me up to the Commonwealth Championships.

It will basically be the same mix as usual: two long runs per week along with fartlek, hill reps and tempo runs. The long runs will not be quite as long as they were in the lead up to the Run To London. I'll also be doing the usual cycling, stretching and strength exercises - perhaps a bit more than before.

I'm going to try and make more time over the summer for a regular footcare routine and also proper recovery time where I'll just chill out every now and again in a stress free environment.

Will probably do one or two races as speedwork in July and August and I plan to run a quick 100 miles at the Hull 24 hr race in mid July.

For the past 18 months I've been running three consecutive days then having a day recovery - perhaps now is the time to increase that to four days on and one day off.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

future plans

Been back from London less than four days and I'm still aching all over. A couple of hours ago my thoughts turned to training and planning for the Commonwealth Championships which are now only 16 weeks away.

The thought just crept in there - I didn't encourage it, honest.

Hope the soles of my feet stop hurting before then.

Friday, 22 May 2009

all the best to everyone

I know I've got a big event going on this weekend - see this page for details - but other ultra runners I know are also racing this weekend and I wish them all the best in their endeavours.

Sharon Gayter is in Surgeres doing the 48 hour race and Pam Storey & Gil John are taking part in the Wessex 100 (LDWA event).

I've also updated the media page with a new newspaper article.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Ultra Squad Weekend

I was at the England Athletics Ultra Distance Squad Weekend in Gloucester on Saturday and Sunday.  I wasn't particularly looking forward to the five hour journey involving two buses and two trains. It could have been worse though.

Everything was fine until we reached Birmingham a bit late. The train was supposed to arrive at 1107 but arrived at 1128. My next train was supposed to leave Birmingham at 1130 so I was beginning to panic a bit until I found that it was due to leave from the same platform I had just arrived at ... but it was going to be 10 minutes late.  We all got on and a few minutes later heard the following message over the public address system:  "this train will now leave at 1200 because there's no driver available."

Arrived in Gloucester half an hour late and not too happy.

Got to the hotel at two o'clock, on the early side but it would give me time to meet everyone before proceedings began at three.  Never been invited to one of these before - never considered myself 'elite' before and that's still an unfamiliar tag.  Chris Finill, Vicky Skelton, Ramona Thevenet-Smith, Andy Smith, Jez Bragg, Dominic Croft, Matthew Lynas, Brian Cole and the other runners I spoke to were great at making me feel very welcome and I'm very grateful to them for that (particularly Chris and Ramona - you were both fantastic).

I always find these type of get togethers rather awkward, mainly because I'm a shy and introverted person by nature - mainly because of my medical history.  Apart from cancer as an adult I had recurring major throat problems as a child and I spent three or four weeks in hospital every 18 months or so having throat surgery and not being able to talk for a couple of months afterwards.

Had less than four hours sleep before going for a run on Sunday morning with Jez Bragg, Chris Finill, Matthew Lynas and Dominic Croft.  I found that quite a surreal experience ... running down the road with a group of international runners, chatting away and covering well over nine miles in 70 minutes or less before breakfast.

Then came a long relaxed breakfast before the rain started.  That wasn't good as I had to walk back into Gloucester to the train station [no buses there on a Sunday].  Journey home was uneventful except that we left Sheffield seven minutes late and arrived in Leeds two minutes early !!! The scheduled journey of 48 minutes actually took 37 minutes - very strange.

Overall a good weekend.  I picked up a few tips from Chris Finill, Andy Smith and Hilary Walker and learned about the forthcoming Commonwealth Championships. It still rankles a bit that I haven't been officially selected yet even though I exceeded the tough qualification criteria easily in my last 24 hr race ... all this waiting makes planning and training a bit difficult.

Oh yes, less than four hours sleep.  Well, the bloke I was sharing a room with snores, loudly.  Very loudly at times.  So loudly that, a couple of hours after getting into bed I decided to try using my MP3 earphones as makeshift earplugs.  Not much better but I eventually drifted off to sleep ... sort of.