Ultra Running & Reviews

2nd Training Weekend [14th-15th November 2009; Days 9 and 10 of the actual JOGLE Ultra]

by on Nov.16, 2009, under Training


Saturday 14th of November

As usual I started preparing for this run about a week before & kept a keen eye on the weather reports. The night before the run it said the weather was going to be 70mph winds and pouring with rain. Not the best weather to run 100 miles in! The good thing about this weekend is it started at Preston railway station at 5am which made it much easier for me. The first day was 49.7 miles from Preston Railway Station to Tarporley; the second day was 47.5 miles from Tarporley to Church Stretton. I arrived at Preston railway station just as the other 6 runners were preparing to leave! I slung on my Camelback and set off, as soon as we got going things didn’t feel right, I had a lot of tightness in my calves & really didn’t feel like I was ready to run another 50 miles. We set off with our head torches on as it was pitch black and we had to run some of the way down a dual carriageway. This time I also used a small L.E.D. light for the back of my pack & some extra high viz clothing after nearly being hit last time.

JOGLE training weekend 100 mile run

I was running at about the same pace as Justin Mclaurin so we ran together. When we got to the first point where we needed to check the route I reached into my pocket to get my SatMap out and it wasn’t there, this was a disaster as I had left the paper maps in the car. I must have dropped it when we set off, I called Samantha to see if I’d dropped it near the car & she said she’d have a look. Luckily it was in the back of the car & she said she’d find me somehow. We used Justin’s maps for the next couple of miles until we saw Samantha & the kids driving up the other side of the road, she pulled up to where I was and passed it out of the window while we kept running.

We carried on into the dark and the next stop was for food and water at 10 miles. By the time we reached Rory at the support van my calves felt much better but I still couldn’t get into a rhythm. I set off and just didn’t feel as good as usual. At least I wasn’t feeling sick though and managed to get plenty of food down. This time we ate some chocolates and I took some Nutrigrain bars for later. Filled up my Camelback & in a couple of minutes we were off again. About 10 minutes into the next 10 miles the sun came up & I wished I’d left the torch in the van.

This wasn’t the most scenic run I’ve ever done, most of it was on the A49. We passed through Leyland, Wigan, Newton-Le-Willows, Warrington, then back out into the sticks for the last 20 miles. By this time the wind & rain had really picked up and my ankles were sore from constantly being blown into each other. Rory met us at the mile 30 checkpoint and told us one of the other runners had dropped out. Both me and Justin made it to mile 40’s checkpoint together but he was having problems with a previous injury. We set off again and Justin said he was suffering a bit with his shins, he was going to have a walk for a bit & see how it went. I carried on alone, it’s nice to be able to run with someone as the time passes much quicker when you’re having the crack with someone. Justin dropped out somewhere between mile 40 & 50.

At about 41 miles I came to a road which was straight for as far as I could see, maybe 6-8 miles in the rain. These are the times when you need to dig deep and try not to let negative thoughts enter your head. I had to stop to climb over a tree at 45 miles, it had blown down in the wind. Climbing over the branches made me realise how sore my muscles were. At the 40 mile checkpoint Rory told me the MacDonald Portal Hotel was hard to miss so I didn’t need to look at my map which was good because it was getting hard to see in the rain, it kept filling the screen up with water every time I took it out! My feet were so wet they’d been squelching for the past 30 miles. The only thing on my mind was getting to the hotel.

Eventually I reached the sign for the hotel and turned off, my mind & body had started to shut down when I realised the sign was pointing not to the hotel but to a country lane which led to it! Just as I was hitting a low point my wife Samantha & my 3 children came round the corner, I was so happy to see them I sprinted after the car. The hotel was maybe a mile down the lane & I felt so good I ran it as fast as I could down the front lawn. The woman on the front desk asked how far I’d run, I told her from Preston and she looked at me in disbelief.

My room was massive & it had everything you could want, I got changed and went down to the pool. It was nice to have a swim & take the weight off my feet. I tried all 4 of the different saunas before going back to my room to meet the family & go for something to eat. I was staying at the hotel on my own so that I could get a full nights sleep & meet my family again at the end on Sunday.


Sunday 15th of November

I woke up feeling refreshed on day two & started putting my kit on, it was then that I realised I’d forgotten to pack my new socks. Not only that but I’d put my wet socks in the sink & they were wet through! I put them on & squelched my way through the hotel, making my way to the start. We were to be joined by Jen for the first 20 miles. Jen is Rory’s race organiser and a great athlete in her own right, she was off like a rabbit! We made our way into the dark again but this time it was dry. Justin and I ran together again and we both seemed more comfortable than the day before. We made the first checkpoint at 10 miles in good time. Again I set off with the bloody head torch on for the second 10 miles just as it came light!

We could see Beth one of the other runners up ahead and see her lights turn from red to white as she checked how far we were behind her. We came into the 20 mile checkpoint just behind her & quickly filled our Camelback’s and food supplies & hit the road again. Some of the roads we ran down on this stretch were very long and straight & we cursed the Romans! As we ran along I started to feel like I needed the loo, probably something to do with all the Nutrigrain bars I’d eaten! As most of today’s run of 49 miles was through the countryside it wasn’t possible to find a loo so I went into an old derelict cottage in the middle of nowhere. As I climbed through the front door which had a tree across it & looked like it had been there for ages, a load of bats flew out. I went into what would have been the living room and it was as if it had just been left, with an old radiogram and settee and two chairs! All covered with about an inch of dust, very spooky. I did what I had to and left, climbing over the fallen tree as fast as I could.

Justin was out of sight when I got out and I decided to try to catch him up. We’d run from Tarporley and were heading to Whitchurch, I saw Justin in the distance & decided he must have turned off down the hill when he got to the roundabout, I was wrong. I carried on until I got to a long stretch of dual carriageway where you could see far into the distance & decided he must have gone the other way, the right way!

I took out my SatMap & could see I’d taken the wrong turn off at the roundabout. I’d have to join the road I was supposed to be on about 2 miles further on adding another 2 miles to my day. Ah well at least the weather was on my side, the sun was back again.

As I ran down the lane I noticed Justin in the distance & started to run a bit faster to catch up. We ran together for a few more miles then parted again just before Shrewsbury as he had shin problems. I got lazy again with the maps outside Shrewsbury & got lost again. Luckily a young lady stopped to help when she saw me looking confused at my satnav, she was a local runner & was very helpful. I was soon on the right road. Just as I made my way through Shrewsbury I bumped into Justin again. It was nice to know for sure I was on the right track.

Once we reached Longnor it was a straight run through Leebotwood & on down to the finish at Church Stretton. The last part of the run was pretty uneventful, it passed slowly in my mind but I felt strong. As I got within a couple of miles of the finish Rory rang me to ask where I was & I said I don’t know. Just then Samantha & the kids came past me & again I started to pick the pace up knowing it couldn’t be far to go to the finish. When I saw the traffic lights I knew I was within yards of the finish and started sprinting, it felt great to go all the way & feel strong at the end.

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