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SJ Weekly Run Down – March 4th to 10th

Club Announcements

Tuesday saw the AGM with a decent turnout of roughly fifty members. A number of committee members stepped down so thanks to all for your hard work over the last year. A number of members stepped up and have taken on roles with the committee so well done for putting yourselves forward! It looks like it will be another exciting year!

The Annual Canal Run will be held on Sunday 24th March with groups leaving Frimley Lodge Park at the following times.

9.30am start – 20 miles
10.00am start – 15 miles
10.30am start – 10 miles  

For simplicity this year we will all run from Frimley Lodge up the Canal and then turn back at either 5, 7.5 or 10 miles (or further if you really want a long run). This means that total distances will be 10, 15 or 20 miles.

Afterwards, the plan is to retreat to the Kings Head for a well earned recovery drink. Please let Dave Breslin know if you are planning to run the Canal Run, and the distance you plan to run.

Onto the weekend running and starting with parkrun…

Bracknell parkrun attracted 14 members this week and many of them finished in the top 3 in their respective categories. Duncan Laurie-Pile took 1st in his age group. Krzysztof Zielinski, Martin Steadman, Patrick Wadsworth and Sharon Fields finished 2nd in theirs. Jackie Kent took 3rd on hers. Standout run was the PB achieved by Lisa Humpries so huge kudos to her!

Over at Frimley Lodge ten members gathered to celebrate Gareth Hopkins’ 50th parkrun. Janet Venables finished 1st in category and Dave O-Toole 2nd in his age group.

The popularity of Rushmoor amongst members has been waning with new local options available but the venue returned to joint most popular this week as 14 SJs finished. Lyn Davis and Roy Bentley enjoyed PBs so congratulations to you both! Lyn also claimed 2nd in her category while Sarah Alexander took 3rd in her category.

Event 3 at California Country parkrun and lots of members turned up to both try out for the first time or return for another run. George Green and Jon Green have completed all three events here and Jon celebrated completing his 50th parkrun by smashing his course record. George also ran a CR here as did Mark Pattrick. Jon also took 1st in category, Andrea Vincent did likewise. George took 2nd in category as did Royston Crandley while Lou Gubb took 4th in her category. Very special mention to Richard McCready who completed the course just weeks after kidney transplant surgery!

More long distance parkrun tourism tthis week although we still had our regulars Sharon Conquer and Andy Summerskill at Northampton and Houghton Hall respectively. Locally, members took on the challenging XC type courses with Clive Rolfe at Alice Holt, Stuart Overhill at Homewood while Richard Boese sampled the hilly and scenic course at Henley.

We had tourists far and wide this week. Jim Haffey and Katy Kennedy headed up the M3 to run at Old Deer Park and Crane Park respectively. Alurie Dutton and Yvette Glacken were in Lowestoft while Dick Newman and Erol Ali ran at Weymouth. Overseas, Kate Parker became the 5th SJ to run at East Coast Park, Singapore but Matt Jones claimed the title of furthest travelled this week as he ran Hamilton Lakes in New Zealand.

Other Saturday events…

Down at the Thames Meander Spring Half Marathon Sophie Le Saux took it easy but still recorded 1:59:53 before going in search of an additional 5 miles. In the Full marathon Charley Bryant had a great run beating 4 hours with 3:59:13 and was spotted the following day flying around Junior parkrun with her son. More strong runs from Tina Acock who finished in 5:53:19 and Martin Gould in 5:32:12.

Sunday events…

The Grizzly is a legendary event for Sandhurst Joggers and one that many members rate as their outright favourite. Many of the regulars returned and a few first timers were added to that list. We’ll have more on this one later in the week but in the meantime here is a photo montage and the results (which did miss Sarah Hyatt who definitely was there!)

Two members ran at the Wiltshire Downs based Larmer Tree Marathon. Jonathan Taylor and Andrea Hadfield both enjoyed great runs on the hilly predominantly off road course.

Huge gusts of wind challenged our team at the Surrey Half Marathon on a course that started and finished in Woking Park but they all rose to the challenge with some impressive finish times.

Claire Rowse was our only member brave enough to go up against Mo Farah at the Vitality Big Half on a London landmark laden course starting near Tower Bridge and finishing at the Cutty Sark. Mo got lucky and gave Claire the slip but she still recorded another great time over the 13.1 mile route.

SJ Marathon Legend Leon Hicks is raising the bar even higher this year and took on the Samphire 100 Ultra on a 3.71 mile course near Dover that would have to be completed 27 times! Challenging winds and some health issues held him back this time but he still completed an impressive 50 miles and learnt a huge amount along the way.

Strava

Some big totals on Strava this week as Marathon training ramps up. Kath Shaw claimed the top spot for the second week running. To take part in this just create a free Strava account and link it to the club in your profile. Here’s the top 10 from last week:-

Club Events for the week ahead…

Monday: Patrick Wadsworth will be leading/has already led the Monday night chatfest from Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm. The route will cover approx. 6 miles and is back on the road so don’t forget your head torches and high viz. This is one of the most sociable runs of the week and a great opportunity to catch up with friends or discuss the preceding weekend.

Tuesday Club Run: The biggest club run of the week will as always offer multiple groups to cater for all abilities from beginners through to faster and more experienced runners. It’s perfect for novices and those coming back from injury or a long lay-off because you can start with an easy group and work your way upwards. The start time is 6:30pm as always this week from the regular start at Sandhurst Memorial Park.

Tuesday Intervals: Later the interval sessions will meet at The Tythings in Yateley at 8pm. The session will be at Waitrose and will consist of 6 x 4 minutes with 1 minute recoveries. You can read more about the Tuesday night intervals HERE

Wednesday: Variety is the spice of life and the Wednesday crew have some surprises for you this week with a mixture of great routes and some fartlek style efforts. Join them at Sandhurst Memorial Park at 7pm. There will also be run options for those that graduated from the 10k and 10 mile courses to ease you into the regular run.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the Golden Retriever route. Meet at Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm and don’t forget lights and high vis clothing. The run is a great way to improve fitness by running as a group at a slightly harder intensity. There is a shorter route available and a sweeper so nobody gets left behind.

Friday: Track is still free and the coaches have some great sessions planned for all abilities to improve fitness and technique. This is a great way to improve your running form and fitness, get faster and help prevent injury. If you’ve never ran on a track before give it a try, it’s a lot of fun and you are never more than 200m away from the start.

Saturday: Lots of members will be enjoying their weekly Parkrun fix at 9am on Saturday morning. Wherever you are parkrunning – Don’t forget your barcode! Woodley parkrun is out of action for 4-6 weeks as they resurface the path around the pond. The re-start date is still to be confirmed but won’t be until late March. And if you haven’t already done so make sure to add ‘Sandhurst Joggers’ as you club in your parkrun profile. there are detailed instructions on how to do this HERE

Sunday: Come along and give the The Sunday Lookout run a try. They say its the best run of the week but might be a bit biased. It’s a flexible run leaving from The Lookout at 9am with different groups to suit a wide range of abilities. The three ‘Cs’ of Coffee, cake and chat are enjoyed in the cafe post-run.

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Goring 10k – Jon Green report back from this varied course

I entered the Goring 10K for two reasons, primarily because there was an opportunity to purchase a fantastic looking florescent yellow technical t shirt bearing the name of the event but also because I hadn’t run a 10k race since Mortimer in the Autumn.

I had no idea what to expect and could only go by reviews of the race online which a few described as undulating but well organised. I would prefer ‘flat’ but not to worry I was confident that the beautiful rolling countryside of Goring would more than make up for a few hills.

When race day came it brought with it the beginning of Storm Freya. I didn’t let this deter me as I collected my number from the school and then sat and waited patiently for the start of the race in the warm school gymnasium. As the race began I felt confident and full of energy and powered up the first hill not even thinking of the wind and rain. The downhill that followed was very welcome and I was able to let my legs go and get some speed up.

However as I reached the end of the road at a crossing point, the marshal told us “you have to wait here we are letting a few cars through”. I couldn’t believe it. I had to stand and wait as they let 3 cars in each direction pass through. One runner ignored the marshal and just ran across anyway ignoring shouts of “Stop!” I tried to not let my annoyance of this ridiculous decision bother me and I crossed the road and onto the field.

I had previously thought that the race would be entirely on road but clearly this was not to be the case. However we were soon back on the road again and before not too long met with an incline. I didn’t let this affect me too much and just carried on at roughly the same pace. The race continued up and down and I was acutely aware that the race finished at roughly the same point we had started and that we had a bit of height to make up somewhere. I also remember reading online that the race has a downhill finish so I knew the climb would be coming soon enough. Sure enough after a right turning I could see runners ahead of me on a long sweeping uphill section. Just as I started on the hill, the wind associated with Storm Freya picked that exact moment to blow straight into my face trying to push me back down. I gritted my teeth and carried on trying to remind myself of the downhill finish.

The easier last mile or so was much needed and I even tried to put a sprint on halfway across the finishing field, taking care not to slip on the wet grass as I crossed the line.

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Bramley 20/10 – SJ Member Highlights

Alison Jones – “Do not take part in a tough boot camp session on a Friday evening, followed by a 10k race on the Saturday and expect to run a pb 20 miler on Sunday”

Jim Laidlaw – “I actually enjoy the long run at Bramley . Lots of people had asked me before hand which marathon I’m training for , when I reply I’m not I’m just running this for fun I get a few weird looks. I felt relaxed going into this one with no really pressure on. I knew my running had improved a lot over the last 12 months and so has my mental metal . I had a target of 2.30 set this would give me a big PB and put last years collapse well and truly to bed. I ran most of the course with a Jo and Alasdair (JLPT friends) who are both mid way into their own Marathon training we agreed a steady 7.30 pace would give us a good run and then we could see how we felt  later stages . It was a lot easier running as a group . We all run similar paces and the chat was easy enough.  I saw Patrick and Paul our of the course, exchanged quick hello. The weather was pretty decent as per normal with a little breeze in parts. I finished in 2.30.06 very happy with the days work . Will be back next year to try a sub 2.30. Now I have a week to recover before another crack at Wokingham.” 

Patrick Wadsworth – “20 miles in sunshine along a well marshalled quiet countryside route. What’s not to like apart from the hills being towards the end of the 10 mile lap. My third time and definitely not my last.”

Blanche Barnes – “1st timer at this event, expecting a relaxed steady pre-marathon training run… until I found out (a few minutes before the start) about the 4 hr cut off, which meant having to produce some unplanned effort. Still enjoyed it immensely, quiet scenic country lanes, & great support. Course was challenging being mostly downhill for the 1st 5 miles, then mostly uphill for the last 5, that made it “interesting” on the 2nd lap. Great freebie zipper wristband at the end too.”

Sharon Burfield – “Bramley was a lovely race.. nice route with really pretty surroundings. Challenging to do two laps but well worth it at the end! Definitely one for next year.”

Charlie St Aubyn – “Just enjoyed it, ran comfortably and liked getting out to support all the 20 milers. It’s my favourite race.”

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SJ Weekly Run Down – February 18th to March 3rd

It’s a bumper double edition of the Run Down as we cover the last two weeks but first we have some important club notices…

Club Announcements

It’s you last chance to submit your nominations for the Sandhurst Joggers Member of the Year Award. Here is your chance to recognise the great work of your fellow club members. The person is nominated by you, the club members, and ideally should be a person who has contributed to the mission and goals of the club or gone above and beyond their normal role / membership of the club. You can nominate up to 3 people for Member of the Year – don’t delay as nominations close today! You can access the form by clicking here

Don’t forget its the Sandhurst Joggers AGM this week on Tuesday 5th March at 8pm. The venue is Edgbarrow Sports Centre, Grant Road, Crowthorne, RG45 7JL. All members are welcome and encouraged to attend, it’s YOUR club and it’s YOUR wishes and opinions that drive how it’s run. At the AGM, we elect the entire committee for the coming year.  It’s always good to have new faces on the committee.  Descriptions of the positions will follow by email and are on the website, but for the moment, just have a think about whether you’d like to stand, or encourage those you think should! We already know that the Secretary, Social, XC Captain and Thursday GM positions and one of the Events roles will be vacant.

Deadline extended until Friday 8th March for entries for the 2018 Sandhurst Joggers Club Championships. The club championship is an annual competition and is calculated by looking at your best performances over a number of events during the 2018 calendar year. To qualify, you need to have completed at least 5 of the following events between January 1st and December 31st 2018:-

You need at least 1 event of 10 miles and above:-
10 Mile
Half marathon
Marathon

And up to 4 events of 10k and less:-
Parkrun / 5km
10k
Woodland 5
SJ Club Handicap
Thames Valley Cross Country League

Please ensure you have completed details for at least 5 qualifying events. Remember the Club Championships is open to ALL members who have completed 5 of the qualifying events regardless of ability so if you qualify please share your results so the Club can recognise your achievements. Full detail on how to enter online can be found Here

Its not too late to get your tickets for the Sandhurst Joggers Annual Ball which will take place at Easthampstead Conference Park, Off Peacock Lane, Wokingham, RG40 3DF on Friday 29th March 2019 at 7.30pm.  The cost of the tickets will be £35.00 per person. SJ Social Secretary Lisa Harrold has sent all the details by email. Please respond to secure your tickets asap.

Onto the running and starting with last week’s events…

Nigel Evans completed another marathon at the Phoenix Excalibre Marathon.

Sarah Jones completed another 5km as she ran the Reading Edition of the Run For Chocolate series.

New member Jonathan Taylor tackled the Hillingdon Half Marathon finishing in 2:18:39.

Dave Metcalfe made it a trio of the Metcalfe family to complete a half marathon in recent months. He made the Thorpe and Egham Half Marathon his first Half in 20 years as he finished in 2:02:29.

Angela and Mark Foker tackled one of the muddiest Brutals on a course near Borden.

Fern Stonestreet and Ian Bromley took part in the Spier Winery 5k and 10k near Stellonbosch in South Africa. It was hot but both enjoyed fast runs!

Graham Robinson travelled to Harewood Park near Leeds for the National Cross Country Championships. In a high quality field he finished in 384th position out of the 2008 finishers in a time of 43:39.

Finally, the big event this week was the Wokingham Half Marathon. We’ll have a big highlights report later in the week so keep a look out for that but in the meantime we have the results for the many members who ran…

Next this week and up first is parkrun…

10 members in action at Bracknell with Krzysztof Zielinski the first SJ into the finish funnel. A slew of category podiums with 1st for Sam weller, 2nds for Krzysztof, Martine Steadman and Bracknell first timer (and in only her second parkrun) Jane Crawford. First timer Ryah Johnson also enjoyed a great debut with 3rd in category.

Frimley Lodge was the biggest event locally with 616 runners of which 6 were club members. Simon Whillis was first member to finish en route to claiming 3rd in his category. Alison Bone took a strong 2nd in her category.

Dave Bartlett led home the SJs at Rushmoor as 5 members enjoyed the alternative Wellesley course. It was chaotic under the bridge as 399 runners tried to negotiate the narrow section but that didn’t stop Graham Bolton taking 2nd in his category.

Young local parkrun California Country Park attracted 274 runners to their second event including 13 members. The diverse course saw a high ratio of flying feet and all commented on the friendly atmosphere and impressive number of newbies and walkers. Its a decepetively fast course and there were some great runs with Sarah Hyatt and Sarah Alexander taing 1st and 2nd in their category while Mark Pattrick and George Green both claimed 2nd in their respective categories.

Some old and new venues on the SJ parkrun Tourism map this week. The regulars John Tovell, John Featherstone and Yvette Glacken were at Crane Park, Basingstoke and Luton Wardown respectively. Neil Praine ran at super fast Worcester Pitchcroft and missed his PB by just 1 second!

Locally Jim Haffey ran his 51st parkrun at Guildford, Nick Metcalfe at Alice Holt and Jane Ralls at Brooklands. Further afield Royston Crandley was at Longrun Meadow in the South West and Alurie Dutton at Andover.

Other Saturday events…

Patrick Wadsworth completed the 45 mile Winter Green Man Ultra on a course near Bristol. Huge kudos and conquering this beast!

Nigel Evans and Mar Neve added to their marathon tallies by completing the Phoenix Spring Marathon.

Sunday events…

The Goring 10k was held on a hilly course with some off road sections plus some vehicular obstacles to overcome. Rob Jerrett and Jon Green both had great runs finihing in 41:41 and 50:40 respectively.

Strava

Some big totals on Strava this week as Marathon training ramps up. Patrick Wadsworth claimed the top spot for the thanks to his Ultra endevours. We now have 194 members of the Strava club, to take part in this just create a free Strava account and link it to the club in your profile. Here’s the top 10 from last week:-

Club Events for the week ahead…

Monday: Patrick Wadsworth will be leading/has already led the Monday night chatfest from Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm. The route will cover approx. 6 miles and is back on the road so don’t forget your head torches and high viz. This is one of the most sociable runs of the week and a great opportunity to catch up with friends or discuss the preceding weekend.

Tuesday Club Run: The biggest club run of the week caters for all abilities with multiple groups that cover beginners to faster and more experienced runners. It’s perfect for novices and those coming back from injury or a long lay-off because you can start with an easy group and work your way upwards. The start time is 6:30pm as always, this week from the Morgan Rec in Crowthorne as its the first Tuesday of the month. This also mean sit will be very easy to get to Edgbarrow School which is also in Crowthorne by 8pm for the AGM.

Tuesday Intervals: The Interval session is cancelled this week as it clashes with the AGM. Please attend the AGM if you can as its important that your views are represented!

Wednesday: Variety is the spice of life and the Wednesday crew have some surprises for you this week with a mixture of great routes and some fartlek style efforts. Join them at Sandhurst Memorial Park at 7pm. There will also be run options for those that graduated from the 10k and 10 mile courses to ease you into the regular run.

Thursday: This week the threshold/improvers run will be on the Coat Hanger route. Meet at Sandhurst Sports Centre at 7:30pm and don’t forget lights and high vis clothing. The run is a great way to improve fitness by running as a group at a slightly harder intensity. There is a shorter route available and a sweeper so nobody gets left behind.

Friday: Track is still free and the coaches have some great sessions planned for all abilities to improve fitness and technique. This is a great way to improve your running form and fitness, get faster and help prevent injury. If you’ve never ran on a track before give it a try, it’s a lot of fun and you are never more than 200m away from the start.

Saturday: Lots of members will be enjoying their weekly Parkrun fix at 9am on Saturday morning. Wherever you are parkrunning – Don’t forget your barcode! Woodley parkrun is out of action for 4-6 weeks as they resurface the path around the pond. The re-start date is still to be confirmed but won’t be until late March. And if you haven’t already done so make sure to add ‘Sandhurst Joggers’ as you club in your parkrun profile. there are detailed instructions on how to do this HERE

Sunday: Come along and give the The Sunday Lookout run a try. They say its the best run of the week but might be a bit biased. It’s a flexible run leaving from The Lookout at 9am with different groups to suit a wide range of abilities. The three ‘Cs’ of Coffee, cake and chat are enjoyed in the cafe post-run.

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Meet the Member – Jim Haffey completes 50 parkruns

Q) For members who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself? 

A) Originally from London I have been sneaking down towards the coast via the M3 through Shepperton, Woking and Yateley and ultimately we will go via the A303 to Somerset or Devon. Spent most of my time working in IT and Telecoms aside from spending a year being a bike mechanic after taking redundancy from Virgin 6 years ago. Back into IT now though and quite fortunately took a new job in December right in Crowthorne so I will be able to join in more SJ runs.

Q) How and when did you get into running? 

A) I loved cross country running at school then stopped for 34 years. Since 2011 I have been into Audax which is long distance cycling but I started running in 2017 whilst recovering from a couple of bike accidents and got hooked. Finding Parkrun and then joining Sandhurst Joggers last summer has meant the bike is now second choice for me.

Q) What do you enjoy most about being a member of Sandhurst Joggers? 

A) The variety of options on offer throughout the week is impressive, there really is something for everyone and having the coaches at track is a real benefit! I had primarily joined for the XC plus the track to build up some much needed running form and speed but a problematic Autumn and early Winter put paid to that this season. Roll on next season!

Q) On which of the weekly runs are we most likely to bump into you? 

A) Right now the handicap and track although I will be back alternating with intervals. Now I am working locally I will be trying to get to the Thursday tempo’s and on Sunday’s drag myself away from Minley Woods and Fleet Pond loops and join SJ on the trails at Swinley.

Q) You’ve ran most of your parkruns at Frimley Lodge, tell us what you like about that event?

A) I enjoy the course as it is a fairly decent mix of field, canal and a couple of short woody sections plus it is where I achieved my best parkrun PB. Additionally it has plenty of car parking and decent facilities there. Like all parkruns they also have a decent core volunteer team and I have really enjoyed helping them out to help make the parkrun happen.

Q) Of the 5 other parkruns you’ve run, which was your favourite and why? 

A) Plymvalley in Devon, gorgeous scenery and nicely undulating as you would expect in Devon.

Q) What other events are on your programme for 2019?

A) I am looking forward to my first marathon which will be later in the year at Bournemouth, not been beyond a half yet and I would like a trail marathon too as I do prefer being off road.Between now and then I am aiming to attend as many SJ Handicaps as I can and improve every month. I am also running in the Fleet Half Marathon, Hook 10 mile and one of the Yateley 10K’s plus whatever else may take my fancy as the year progresses. There will also be a fair bit of Parkrun tourism including the Wöhrder See parkrun which is in Nuremberg.

Jim ran his first Parkrun on 10th June 2017 at Frimley Lodge, here’s some more achievements for the statos taken from the ‘Parkrun Challenges’ Chrome Extension:-

50 x Parkruns in Total

39 of those at Frimley Lodge

10 x Personal Bests (fastest ever is 24:26 set at Frimley Lodge in June 2018 )

6 x Different venues

Groundhog Day completed at Frimley Lodge in September 2018

Most parkruns in a single year is 24 in 2018

32/60 scored in Stopwatch Bingo

1 x Christmas Day parkruns completed in 2018

20 x volunteering in 8 different roles

Jim has completed the All Weather Runner (complete at least one parkrun in each month of the year) once and his most active month is September.

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Hampton Court Half Marathon – Phil Guy reports on his 2nd fastest half

The Hampton Court Marathon is a great event, one of the best I have competed in, the course is pretty flat, pleasant surroundings and well organised.  I only entered last week so had to pick my pack up on day.  There was a park & ride bus option for £10, which I thought was pretty expensive. I got there an hour before there was a lot of free street parking it was only a 5 minute walk to race village. The start was a very early 8:30, unlike the last few weeks the weather was very good, sunny, and cold with little wind. The start is at Thames Ditton (I guess Hampton Court is a more appealing event). The race is a combination of road for the first mile then roads, paths and towpaths along the Thames.  The course takes you along the A307 towards Kingston then along the river Thames the towpaths were good for running on, they were pretty wide and easy for overtaking.

In Kingston you go around the town centre and then re-join the Thames path on the other side going past Hampton Court including Henry VIII before going back on the road going over the bridge and then finishing the last 3 miles heading back towards Thames Ditton for the last 100m dash on the green.  The course was great pretty flat, the marshalling was excellent as there were a number of roads that cars had to wait for runners and there were no issues in losing directions.  My target was to break 1:28, my first 4 miles were pretty fast sub 26 minutes, my next 4 were pretty steady I got to 9 miles before the hour then held on the for the run back, which felt quite tough, I was hoping for a downhill finish but not to be. My Finishing time was 1:27:24 my second best run.  The finishers pack was pretty good with the running shirt was really cool orange another colour to add to the collection.

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Lord of the Rings meets a Doughnut – Nigel Evans tells of his first back to back marathons with an impromptu Ultra thrown in for good measure

It’s amazing what you can achieve when you put your mind to it and are a bit stubborn, add in the odd doughnut and the thought of getting your very own “Precious” and you have the recipe for a great weekend of running.

Last year I so got fed up with time chasing when running events or even training that my running mojo had fallen off a cliff and I also felt that when constantly pushing myself to go faster I was risking more injuries especially now I am no spring chicken at 54.

I decided last April to run Leon’s 100th marathon (only my 4th ever Marathon) which was a Phoenix Running lap event in Walton on Thames.

I was not sure what to expect but it was absolutely brilliant and I loved the lap format and the more relaxed atmosphere where for most of the runners the distance was the challenge and not how fast you could run it. I completed the marathon distance and my running mojo was back with a vengeance.

I already had quite a few events booked in for 2018 so I made the decision to switch to Marathons after a short break from running last year to train on the bike for Ride London 100.

Since Ride London I have been slowly clocking them up and love the slower paced but increased distance of my runs now and so far touch wood it is going well and I am loving it!

For the weekend of February 9/10th I had booked back to back Marathons, both of these were Phoenix Running  lap events where you can run anything from 5k to Ultra Marathons within a 6hr period on a 3.28 mile out and back course along the River Thames in Walton on Thames..

The start is at the Weir pub near the Xcel Leisure Centre in Walton on Thames and another bonus for me is they are only about a 35minute drive away.

Saturday was the Lord of the Rings based “One Run to rule them all” and on the Sunday was the “Doughnut Dash” with the promise of doughnuts at the aid station.

Saturday – One Run to rule them all

Saturday was a very popular event with over 200 runners entered and gathered outside the sports centre for the race briefing before the short walk to the start by the Weir pub ready for the 9.30 start, this would also be  a special run for me because I would complete my 12 Marathons in 12 Months Challenge.

For the Marathon distance you have to run 8 laps of the flat course with the only climb being the infamous small blue bridge with an added bonus of every 3.2 miles being back at the amazing food station which offers a wide variety of sweets, snacks and drink to keep you going. I also keep my running bag there with my running essentials and my own nutrition namely a Marmite and honey sandwich and a bottle of strawberry milk. I also run with a hydration pack and carry 500ml of drink, 2 gels, a packet of CLIF BLOKS and a Kendal mint cake.

9.30 and we were off .

The weather was dry but a bit chilly with a  strong cold headwind  from the start to the turn point just past Walton Bridge which made the run feel like  two separate events because running out the wind sometimes felt like it was going to blow you backwards, so made it tough but when you hit the turn point and ran back you flew with the wind behind you and it was difficult to keep your pace down.

Running the same lap 8 times may sound a bit boring but it really isn’t because along the river there is always something going on and Saturdays are very popular with rowers so there are lots of boats on the water with their coaches cycling along the path shouting instructions at them, you also get lots of support from the other runners who you pass on each lap and of course the marshals on the food station who are all lovely and very encouraging.

My aim for this event  bearing in mind I was running again on Sunday was to run a nice steady 6 laps between  6-7 minute km’s  then walk/ run the last 2 laps to keep something in my legs but as it turned out I actually felt pretty good except for getting soaked on the last lap by a heavy shower so managed to run it all and claim my awesome “Precious” medal and my 12 in 12 months challenge T-shirt and medal.

Sunday – Doughnut Dash.

I managed to get an early night Saturday but was a bit worried because I hadn’t felt like eating very much Saturday evening and my legs were feeling tired.

As usual I was up early Sunday to have my bowl of porridge before setting off hoping that the fuelling I would take on during the run would be enough to get me through another Marathon.

If someone had told me 12 months ago that I would be running 2 marathons in a weekend I would have thought they were crazy but here I was for my second Phoenix event that weekend waiting for the 9.30 start looking at the amazing variety of doughnuts displayed on the food station giving the run its name.

Again the weather was dry but the wind had dropped considerably which was good.

After the first lap I had warmed up nicely and to my surprise my legs felt pretty good but I still made a conscious effort to keep my pace nice and steady at around 6.30/km thinking I would rather run at a slower pace than run quicker and end up walking towards the end, also for me mentally once I decide to walk its seems harder for me to start running again so if I feel tired I will slow my pace right down, recover for a bit then pick the pace up without actually walking and this seems to work for me at the moment.

The run was going nicely, I felt comfortable and as I reached  ½ marathon distance one of the marshals on the food station said I was looking strong (this is standard even if you look awful) and asked me if I was going for an Ultra? “Err probably not” I told her but this planted a seed in my mind that maybe I could do it as I was feeling OK but would I still be feeling this good after another 13 miles? From then on after every lap the marshal was encouraging me to go for 9 laps (29.5 miles) especially when I told her that I had never run an Ultra Marathon before.

For me the mental side of running is very important especially since I have started to run greater distances so if I am getting ready to do a marathon I have no doubt in my mind before the start that I will be running 26.2 miles and with any  luck my body follows, if I start an event with any doubt about running the distance (whatever that distance may be) I personally seem to find it physically harder and more of a challenge. So with the marshal giving me the confidence and the self-belief that I could do it, when I came in after lap 8 (26.2 miles) I gave her a smile and set off on my 9th lap and despite getting soaked again, by a heavy rain shower, ran the lap (29.95 miles on my Garmin as I took the very slightly longer but less muddy route)

I got another brilliant Phoenix running medal and a doughnut to celebrate my first ever ultra!

When I got home and finally crawled out of the car I felt shattered but elated, what a great weekend!

My long term goal is to complete my 100 Marathons during 2021 but for 2019 I have decided to also do the 26 Marathons in 52 weeks (26in52) challenge which if all goes to plan will be in July and I may add 12 Ultra Marathons in 12 months on the way to the 26in52, I say “May”.

Leon, I totally blame you!!!