Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dartmoor Vale Marathon Race Report by Dave Webb

My book on Running does not recommend spending the night before the marathon watching your country in the Rugby World Cup Final, getting over-excited, struggling to sleep, then getting up at 5.30 to drive to the race. But I am a free spirit, and decided to do all that anyway.

I got to the course in good time, and was able to drive round the route dropping off energy drinks. Reports of the route being fairly flat and dominated by housing estates seemed alarmingly mistaken, hills and countryside being a better description. The race starts and finishes at Newton Abbot race course, which means there is handy parking and plenty of space.

The Marathon and Half-Marathon races start at the same time, but at different places. As we lined up I heard the race director telling someone that she had decided to include some steeper hills so as to give the race a bit more character. How thoughtful of her. The Marathon begins with a mile around the racetrack (on tarmac) before heading out of the arena, so after a couple of miles we began to overhaul the slower Half-Marathoners. The route is fairly flat until 6 miles, when you go up a hill into Chudleigh, which is comparable, but longer, to the main hill on the Taunton route. Around this time there was a slightly tricky combination of more traffic and more runners to overtake. After a brief downhill there is then a much bigger climb up to Ugbrooke Park, followed by some nice countryside until you re-enter the built-up area and run up and down a number of slopes in the housing estates that so irritated Lesley.

As we approached halfway I found myself behind a curious, peroxide blond character whom I had noticed before the race, when he strode bare-chested into the toilets and put his running vest down on the floor by the urinals. Not someone who gives hygiene a high priority, and nor would you describe him as quiet and shy. As I drew closer to him I realised that he was intermittently grunting and shouting. I passed him at halfway, in about 1.34, and he announced that he normally did the first half in 1.25, and he couldn’t understand why he was so slow. He then proceeded to speed up, repeatedly shouting ‘Come On!’ to himself, and I found myself just in front or just behind him for the next 4 miles. At this point I went past him fairly easily, and I heard him shouting after me that his knees had gone.

I now faced the 2 main hills again. I got up the first one OK, but struggled with the second and had to walk part of it, as I passed the 20 mile mark in 2.26. I still felt fairly strong, and reached 22 miles in 2.40, but the climbing had taken its toll and miles 24 and 25 were particularly hard, before I managed to dig in and get a fairly good pace going again for the last mile. I had hoped to get under 3.13, though on seeing the course I realised that might be optimistic. In the event I managed 3.15.35, for 19th place, which was a decent effort for the course and probably a better performance than my Taunton time of 3.13 in April. My peroxide friend came in at 3.21, very cheerful and full of what a good race it was. It’s very friendly and well-organised, but I don’t think I’ll be going back, when there are so many other marathons to consider, and this is neither especially scenic nor very fast.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Kamikaze Adventure Run

The Kamikaze is the toughest, but most fun 8 miles I have ever run!

Go here to read more about it, and let me tell you that it lived up to its billing:

Despite a dodgy ankle and still-sore calf muscle, Lin led the women through half of the first lap before being overtaken by the eventual ladies winner. She stayed well ahead of all the other women though, collecting a shirt and an interesting trophy. But the real prize was the hour and a quarter of sheer fun (and a lot of hard work) on the many and varied hills comprising the course.

We started with a mad charge down the first hill to a bog at the bottom, then on up a long grassy slope. This basic pattern was repeated at least 10 times with a selection of hills of differing degrees of steepness, interspersed with all the fun stuff like rope swing, water slide,
bogs, streams, logs, and finally after the second lap, a haystack, scramble net, and the piece de resistance, the dreaded wall.

By the time we reached the wall, we were obviously tired, and so what would have merely difficult when we were fresh was now going to be extremely challenging. My plan was to get up first, and sit on top to help Lin if necessary, but just as I was about to offer her a hand up, she lost her footing and slid to the bottom, resulting in an impressive set of scrape marks on her stomach. She succeeded on the second atempt, and we finished together and then enjoyed an entertaining few minutes watching the next 30 or 40 finishers tackling the wall. Most needed a leg up, or at least a lot of encouragement. Quite a few literally "hit the wall".

It was all a lot of fun, and although it was tough, and we collected more than the usual amount of mud on our shirts, its definitely one we'll do next year.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Parrett Trail Relay - 1st Anniversary of the Blog!!!

Sorry Phil, Eric has beaten you to it!! Here is his excellent race report. Well done for another great Maiden Newton Running Club team effort...........Martin & I will save details of the Kamikaze adventure until you have all recovered from your exertions....................

Race Report
Parrett Trail Relay 2007 (<--- Click for results)
Leg 2 – Bridgwater Docks to Burrow Mump
7.9 Miles
Leg Start 10.00am

Tales From The Back Of The Grid
With a little help from Jimi Hendrix…

Well, Dan & I actually had four races today: our own respective legs plus the car journey to the start line of each our legs! We got to Bridgewater Docks with 5 minutes to spare – enough time for me to register and inadvertently insult Jackie!! (Oops!)
After having three Weetabix for breakfast and a can of Redbull in the car on the way I went to the start line feeling good. As I followed the small crowd to the start line I surveyed the runners looking for any old dodderers that I could potentially finish in front of. Sadly, the old dodderers that I did see were lithe and fit looking. Bummer! So feeling resigned to the prospect of being the “Tail-end Charlie” we set off.
Now, as I don’t use a watch or fancy GPS device that is so common amongst the running fraternity, I tend to time my races with my iPod! Today I raced with the esteemed company of Jimi Hendrix and this is how it went:

1. Foxy Lady 3.19
Started off at a sensible pace, ducking under bridges along the canal and quickly found a comfortable rhythm. It was a little misty, quite warm and humid with very little breeze. There were a few runners behind me so I was feeling good.

2. Purple Haze 2.57
I felt a pain in my chest and quickly realised that it was one of the safety pins! My left knee beginning to throb a little. (All those beers and weight-gain due to a running drought over the summer clouds my thoughts!) A purple haze began to brew in my head but as my pace settled down and I took in more oxygen I began to see again. I was still ahead of some runners and feeling good.

3. Wild Thing (Live) 3.31
Things went wild for the first time! Instead of going under one of the canal bridges, I went over the top, crossed the road and ended up on the wrong side of the canal! One runner followed me, so after establishing that neither of us had reckied the route, we doubled back and found the concealed path under the bridge. I am now the tail-end Charlie, so new target is to keep runner ahead in sight at all times-even though she knows as much as I do about the route!!! I’ll pay for that later on!

4. You Got Me Floating 2.47
Wish I was floating but sadly my bladder is beginning to shout at me – the RedBull coming into diuretic effect!

Wait Until Tomorrow 3.01
This is where I passed under the motorway. The two runners in front of me had organised their spouses to meet them there for a drinks break. The Yeovil runner is cunning and her partner runs beside her while she drinks, the other runner (who followed me into the wrong turn earlier) stops for refreshment – yippee!!! The race is back on! I could win this now! So I up my pace a little and feel a bounce in my step and my knee has stopped throbbing, although my bladder really starts to yell at me. Sadly before the song is over I am overtaken again!

Fire 3.43
But alas, all is not lost! I pull over to call time on my burning bladder and continue and try to narrow the huge gap that has been created

Little Wing 2.27
May This Be Love 3.11
Red House (Live) 11.07
Purple Haze (Live) 6.56
By the end of this selection of songs I have reduced the gap to the runner in front down to about 20 yards. Its still misty and there is no breeze at all. My legs feel good and the terrain here by the canal is fairly flat and dry. It is about halfway and I now try to navigate the road section knowing that the runner ahead hasn’t a clue. The Yeovil runner in front of her has disappeared completely from view – my heart sinks, all is not quite right!

Castles Made of Sand 2.47
All gong well I think – even if the Yeovil runner – my only navigational hope – has vanished. She couldn’t have picked up the pace that much? Could she? Anyway, I kept on going regardless trying to work out where I was on the map.

Hey Joe (Live) 4.49
I get carried away with this song as Jimi is so obviously bored of playing this hit that he decides to guitar acrobatics and treat the listener to lots of wailing feedback. Then I am jolted out of my skin by the rather loud horn of car wanting to pass me on this single track road. God knows how long they were behind me! There was a bit of a queue behind them though!!! So after being hassled by this motorist, I use the 30 or so seconds at standstill to check out the map. It’s not looking good.

Love Or Confusion 3.13
No, it was definitely confusion! Up ahead there is a woman on a bike checking out her own map. She beckons me over to tell me that I should have crossed a field back at the last left turn! But she points me right and seems to think that the distance is the same either way. It turns out in retrospect that the Yeovil runner had shouted to me when she noticed I had gone wrong but due to Hendrix blasting through my head it was in vain! By the end of this song I had rejoined the official route and could now understand the map!

Red House 3.44
I still had the runner in front pegged to about 15 yards and was weighing up how much I could push harder now or push when we got to the dreaded Mump – which according to the terrain printout given to me By Phil, looked like Everest! (I’m sure Richard & Lesley will put me right about this assumption!!!)
Red House had a good beat and I was able to pick up my pace a little and close the gap even more on the runner in front.

EXP 1.55
Foxy Lady (Live) 5.19
Back on the canal path and scanning the horizon for the Mump. Dan had said that Leg 2 is good, you just locate the Mump on the horizon and head straight for it. (???!!!!) You can’t see the Mump from Bridgwater Docks!!! However, my spirits were high, pace was good, I hadn’t stopped for a rest yet and had no intention of doing so – which surprised me as my last 2 runs had been lousy! There was a tractor mowing the canal bank and the grass was quite slippery under foot. Still no breeze and the mist was beginning to lift a little.

Hey Joe 3.30
Starting to get bored of the canal now, it seems to go on for ages!

51st Anniversary 3.16
This is a song about marriage. Marriage is beginning to seem a lot easier to deal with than running at this point! I began to build up a lot of body heat and there was no breeze at all to cool me down. The mist was quite oppressive with the warm ambient air temperature. Still looking/hoping for the Mump – no sign yet!

Remember 2.48
I see the Mump, I see the Mump! It’s bloody tiny!! And I had been expecting something like Glastonbury Tor combined with St Katherine’s Chapel in Abbotsbury!!! Instead it was this small mound – I can’t even remember what was on the top of it save for a group of people.

Tax Free 9.24
Back onto the road, there are traffic lights ahead, a horse and rider on my right and need to cross the road. If I time it right I can get ahead of the horse and across before the oncoming traffic – bingo!!! The horse felt a little too close though! Now where the hell do I go now?! The runner ahead has vanished!! Oh no!! No, wait, what’s this gate? A signpost for the Mump took me up some steps – there’s the runner – come on tail-end Charlie we can do it. At this point I thought of Richard and his Fell Running on the Isle of Wight – now the Himalayas – as I began my ascent. The runner ahead was walking – a gift, come on. It was no good, I had to walk too. “Come on Maiden Newton Runners!!” I heard someone shout, “Christ!” I thought, I had better start running. I got to the top, saw Di, I said something to her and her to me but what it was I’ve no idea! I over take the runner at the top and start the descent – it’s slippery, steep and full of potential embarrassment should I tumble. The runner overtakes me again and I have start bounding to avoid falling over near the bottom but it isn’t enough, I’m just pipped to the post and all is over! How nice it was to see Di, Phil, Jackie and Dan at the finish!! Thanks guys!

Parrett Trail Relay 13/10/07

Saturday saw the fifth running of the Crewkerne runners Parrett Relay. 53 miles 6 legs & 2 Counties (that's what is says on the Tee shirt). this is a great day out starting at Steart where the river Parrett meets the sea on the west coast of somerset and finishing at Cheddington (right out side the wynyards gap pub) now you see why its a good day out. This was the third year MNR had entered the event, this year saw a male only team of all first name club members how did we manage that.
Oh well I can't put this off any longer, I did the first leg mainly because no one else would get up at a silly time on a Saturday morning to get to the start for 8.30 at Steart. Having done this leg last year you would have thought it would be easy, I started well managing to keep up with Fred from Yeovil RC in fourth place but after about four miles he started to leave me behind. This was OK while we were running a long side the river, but when the trial started heading across fields I soon fond my memory of the route was not as good as I thought. not wanting to get lost I slowed to let a Crewkerne runner catch up, we ran together for some time but feeling confident I had remembered the route I set off on my own again(big mistake). I soon found my self coming out in the middle of a housing estate with no idea where I was let alone which way the finish was. more by luck than judgment I found my way back to the finish at the docks in Bridgewater, unfortunately I was approaching the finish line from completely the wrong direction. so not only having to join the hall of shame for getting lost the team could be looking at a time penalty for me crossing the line in the wrong direction. fortunately as I had lost 3 places and about 5 minutes we did not get a time penalty. But I did spend the rest of the day paying for my mistake, the only saying was even tho I got lost I still came in a head of Martin Chaffy (that I would never of lived down) Ironman to lost man in a few short weeks

Leg 2 saw Eric take over, traveling to the start with Dan had its own entertainment value. having spent some valuable time driving around and around Bridgewater they finial found the start with about 10 mins spare and Dan having to deal with a bit of road rage(whats wrong with stopping in the middle of the road to let a runner get out). Eric had a great run finishing at the Bottom of Burrow Mump, having climbed up it first looking like he could carry on to leg 3

Leg 3 was Ian's turn, he had run this 2 years ago but unlike me had not forgotten the route. he seemed to have escaped most of the mud on this section and finished in a very good time

Leg 4 and it was over to Dave C to do his best, Having spent the day before on some sort of pub craw around Exeter I was pleased he had even turned up, but again it was another quick finish.
the confusion only came trying to find where he had parked is car!!

Leg 5 over to you Dan, again there was little time to spare at the start with there combine navigating skills not quite up to the challenge (I know I am not in any position to make that sort comment) Dan not only manged to navigate the hole route, he managed to keep talking all the way as well (good job Martin was not with him)

Leg 6 What can I say Dave W took over what is probably the toughest leg of the route, but it does finish at the pub. He ran this last year and again had no problems finding his way to the finish to complete the route for MNR
The overall finish time has still to be confirmed (come on Crewkerne get the results up) By my time keeping we have an overall time of about 7hrs 30mins putting us in about 8th or 9 place out of the 21 teams.
the overall winners were Yeovil A in 6hrs 44mins first mixed team Chard RC in 6hrs 49mins and first ladies team Exmouth in 7hrs 39mins. all the above times may very to the official results, as there did seem to be some confusion prior to the winners being announced.
For the more observant of you you will have noticed there is no photo of me finishing, it wasn't only the time keeper that did not see me coming (the wrong way)
A great team effort.
Thanks Phil

Monday, October 01, 2007

Clarendon Marathon Relay

On Sunday the team of Richard, Lin, Martin and Lesley, AKA "Three Hares and a Tortoise" represented MNRC at the 10th Clarendon Marathon Relay. The route was from Salisbury to Winchester via Broughton along the Clarendon Way. I had a really funny bit about the use of the word eponymous here, but Lin advised me to remove it, so instead here are some of the pictures we took along the way.

The results are here
Individual race reports to follow: