Ultra Running & Reviews

Archive for August, 2010

Race Report “450 Miles of JOGLE” April 30th – 7th May 2010

by on Aug.06, 2010, under Race Reports

this is how we all looked before the start

Well its taken me a long time to get my head around writing this report, not because I’m sad about how far I got but because of how emotional it all was. I think everyone involved with this race/run shed at least a tear or two at some point, I know I did. It all started for me a few months before when I completed all the training runs. The first run gave me an insight on how hard this was going to be, after the the first day I was completely exhausted & didn’t think I could do the second day! I got out of bed & was so stiff & sore it felt like I’d been hit by a train. This was a wakeup call & made me realise how much training I needed to do. Over the next few weeks I increased my mileage to 180 miles a week plus loads of gym work. I also did every ultra I could in the lead up to JOGLE just to build up some mental strength.

I was the last one to board the sleeper coach which was to be our home for the next few days & had already met most of my fellow runners on training weekends or in other ultras over the past few months. By this time we were all quite experienced ultra runners but none of us had done anything of this scale before. Most ultra distance races are over a single day or a couple of days but to run this kind of mileage over and over again would be something new to us all.

John O'Groats 2010

Just before the race I was lucky enough to get sponsorship from Hilly Clothing who supplied all my socks for the event & Soreen my favourite energy food & Buff Headwear and for energy drinks I also got Science in Sport who are local to me. This was great as it covered some of my expenses & as I already used all of them in my training runs I was familiar with them & knew they worked, this is good as you don’t want to be finding out you don’t like something after the first day!

Chris who I met on a mountain in Scotland doing JOGLE on his bike

As we all lined up on the start of the first day I cant help feeling we were all unaware of the way we would feel over the next few days. The first day was quite an easy day as we were all fresh & running on adrenalin for the most part. I did worry on the night before as I’d had a problem with my right knee, I fell on it in training and this caused my kneecap to rub on my femur. I’d been having intensive physiotherapy on it over the previous weeks with  Amjad Butt who had done a great deal of work with me in getting my knee ready but who advised me to rest for at least another 4 weeks. This I couldn’t do so I just had to risk it. The night before the race started I had a quick jog down the road at John O’Groats & my knee just felt wrong. I would either be out of the race before the first mile or it would be OK, I wouldn’t know for sure until the start! I managed to make it through the first day & ran 63 miles without injury & in pretty good shape, the next day I woke up & was very stiff & sore but felt OK to carry on, after all we only had 58 miles to run today!

what hills?

We all set off to meet the support van every 10 miles along the rout. As I reached the van at the first checkpoint I saw someone sat in the passenger seat, it was Joe who had picked up an injury on the first day & her foot had not healed overnight. We all felt sad when someone left & it never got any easier. The A9 was a hard road to run down, the traffic was showing us no mercy. With 28 miles to go, Justin was now feeling crippling pains in his feet. We had run together all the first day & now Justin was feeling the miles. Later that day I approached the support van & Justin was out. Because we had run so far together I really felt it when Justin left as I knew the days were going to be a lot lonelier without his company & humour. Annette and Graham were also beaten by the miles today, this made me wonder who would be next?

I had 54 miles to run on the third day & felt terrible, it just seemed to take forever. The hills were taking their toll on me & I was feeling the pain. Me and Bethany ran together & as the day went on it became apparent she was in pain with her back. At the checkpoint Rory looked in her pack and decided she may not need all the things she was carrying such as spare head-torch batteries in the daytime! She emptied a load of weight from her backpack & we carried on together. She was in great pain & I felt useless as there was nothing I could do to help. I didn’t want to leave Bethany on her own as I knew how hard it was keeping going alone & trying to keep yourself motivated in such pain. Amazingly Bethany managed to walk the 9 miles back to Spean Bridge. Smithy was also having a bad day with severe shin splints. He had gone industrial with the pain killers & managed to make the end of day 3 in one piece.

ah Soreen!

Day 4 was 55 miles & we were all suffering in our own ways, Bethany was still in severe pain from day 3 & wisely decided to call it a day. She had been up all night & couldn’t sleep in her bunk as she was in agony with her back. I set off with Smithy who was by now keeping the workforce at Voltarol in overtime. It was a very cold misty start to the day & it took us a while to get to the first checkpoint. Steve was also having trouble & was in pain from the start of day 4 & unfortunately didn’t make the end of the day, we were all beginning to wonder if anyone would make the finish! Even Rob who led the race was in trouble with his right ankle tendon gone & limping badly. As I reached another checkpoint Rory told me Smithy who I ran with earlier in the day was out. I’d miss his dry sense of humour which had kept me going at the start of the day. He said he was the the token Southern softy in a race full of hard as nails northerners, I think it was humour in the face of adversity which was keeping most of us going by this time.

land of the giants 🙂

Day 5 & 57 miles, Rob was in such pain he didn’t start today. I think we all realised early on that if Rob had made the end without injury the rest of use would have been left in his wake. I was sad to see the big man go.

By this time we had started to find ways of adapting to the hardship & one of the things we learned was how to find ways to go to the loo whilst on the road! We couldn’t use the loo on the coach so everyday had to find somewhere to go. We were consuming massive quantity’s of food & needed to go a few times a day. We found one of the best things to use was a car tyre wedged between two stones! I also found that as we ran along lots of dual carriageways cones turned upside-down made a great mobile toilet (sorry road-workers!).

the road is long

new trainers after 3 days of JOGLE

bad ankle day

Day 6 & 58 miles By this time everything hurt like hell! Every day we would set off in pain & know it could only get worse. The days would seem to last forever & getting to the next checkpoint was all I could think about. I’d run almost 290 miles now & Rory said I looked in the best shape, this made me wonder what state the other three were in? Mark was still suffering with severe shin pain which he’d had for days, how was he keeping going? Dave had pain in his feet & Neil was struggling with ankle pain, I had swelling in my lower legs from being on my feet so long. At every chance I got I put my legs up to try to drain some blood from my swelling feet. I ran with Mark today & somehow we both decided after consulting our Google maps that the right way to go from a roundabout was onto the M74! As we made our way along the hard shoulder a truck came up behind us with bright yellow flashing lights and Mark said he thought he saw lights flashing on the road in front of us, I looked back & saw a truck was following us and the driver was telling us to get off the motorway! We didn’t know what to do as we were so tired the thought of going back was a none starter so we just carried on & ignored it. After a while we found a place where we could climb over a wall and get off the motorway so we did, straight onto some private land, a security guy started shouting to us from his hut & again we decided to ignore it & carry on. A few minutes later the police turned up! They took our names & addresses & were about to take us in when we decided to tell them we were running for a famous cancer charity. On mentioning this everything changed & they decided to give us a lift to where we were supposed to be on the other side of the motorway! By this time it was getting dark & we met up with Rory & Jen who had a good laugh at our expense. The next few miles to the end of the day & the coach seemed to take ages but we made it.

Day 7 & 58 miles. By the end of today I would run 406 miles, I felt good & keen to get started on the day. Rory told me I needed to stop talking to passers by & get on with it. No more f***ing around! It went well today & I made it through another day without injury. Everything hurt like hell but the swelling in my feet had gone down a bit which was a bonus. It got harder & harder to find something that made me want to eat but that was a daily struggle, at first sweet things taste great but after you’ve eaten them for days you begin to crave just savoury things.

Day 8 & 60 miles. I didn’t know it yet but this was to be my last day of JOGLE 2010. I set off & felt OK to say I’d run almost 450 miles. As I passed some roadworks the workmen shouted to me “didn’t we see you yesterday in Carlisle?” yes I said “have you run all this way” yes I said & they started to clap as I ran past. This spurred me on when I felt low, it was things like this which kept us going at the bad times. I had a bad patch on the way up the Shap later on that day & a cyclist shouted to me ” you look like you need a brew mate!” he had a cottage on the other side of the Shap & said if I stopped he would make me a brew. He did and gave me some loo roll which was great. I was so tired I was falling asleep & the coffee woke me up.

I wasn’t beaten by the clock but by the map! I took a wrong turning at a roundabout and ended up running about 16 miles in the wrong direction, if my iPhone had been with me I would have been fine, I’d been using it for navigation most of the way. When Rory told me I was out I’d done 45 miles on my Forerunner so would have only had 15 miles to go to the finish. I feel this could easily have been done as I was going well with no injury and absolutely gutted to have to stop.

the end

I’d just like to say of my fellow runners, every one of you are fantastic, I cried most days when I was running alone, not because of the pain but because I’d never seen such bravery in people before. We all went through so much pain & suffering it would have put most people out after the first few miles in Scotland. I met some fantastic characters who’s humour lifted all our spirits & made me cry with laughter daily. It was a very emotional run that’s for sure! However for me the biggest pain was being separated from my wonderful family who supported me through all my miles of training leading up to the run and the run itself.

We all thought we’d lose loads of weight, I heard two stone mentioned. I lost one pound, so wouldn’t recommend the JOGLE diet! My body fat % went from 12% to 7% though! This one is going to be filed under unfinished business and after seeing how well I recover . . . . . maybe. I’d just like to mention my fellow runners who finished JOGLE in 2010,  Mark Cockbain is an absolute star & showed immense courage carrying on with severe injury, a true legend in the ultra running world for good reason. David Miles who’s humour kept us going when things got tough & always has a smile for everyone & Neil Bryant my friend from the Ridgeway who can push on no matter what injury he has & is always extremely positive in adversity. I’m sure the Bryant family are very proud of their son. Your all winners & made it to the end!

Happy Running!

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Driving to Slovakia

by on Aug.05, 2010, under Blog

Just got to England after driving to Slovakia to see my son Alex get married to Vladka. It was an epic drive through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Slovakia & Austria all in a week. We drove a total of 3,500 miles which was a bit of a driving ultra! We really noticed the difference between driving in the UK and driving on the continent. Most of Europe we drove at 70-90MPH on some great roads & only got stopped by one traffic jam for 10 minutes in around 2,200 miles! Back in England the traffic crawled along at 50MPH through endless cones & roadworks with nobody working on them. 

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