No Finish Line, Monaco

Well, I thought it was about time that I reported on my biggest race of 2010, the 8 day No Finish Line in Monaco.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored me, the money has been taken to Kiyindi and will be put towards the building of the orphanage.
I flew out to Nice with my good friends Alan Young (from Dundee) and Richard Gurd (from Horsham). Alan has been to this event several times but it was Richards first time. I went in 2009 but only to ‘watch and learn’ and jog a few training runs as I had a Marathon in the U.K. the following Sunday. I loved it so much that I decided to take part in the full 8 days in 2010. Richard normally only runs Marathons so this was a whole new experience for him.
From Nice we took a bus to Monaco enjoying the ride round the mountains in nice sunny weather. Alan was sharing a portacabin for accommodation but Richard and I decided to take tents (bought from Tesco’s for a tenner each!). On arrival we pitched our tents underneath the shelter of the harbour wall and this was to become our home for the next 9 nights. That evening we went to a nice restaurant for a pizza to enjoy our last ‘civilised’ meal for several days.
Unfortunately the good weather was not to last as it became wetter and colder as the week went on.
We met several runners from previous multiday events and lots of new faces also. Great camaraderie amongst these guys.
The race was started by Princess Stephanie at 2-00pm on Saturday 20th November with not only the 50 or so 8 day competitors but also loads of local runners, joggers and walkers. The object of this event now in it’s 11th year, is to raise vast amounts of money for a local childrens hospital. All competitors hire an electronic ‘chip’ and every time they cross the mat on the 1km circuit a euro is paid to the charity by the sponsors (Royal family and banks etc). Every man, woman, child and dog (with chip on collar) seemed to be on the circuit which became quite congested. At the end of the day Richard decided that a van should come along, round everyone up, and take them to the ‘funny farm’. Little did he know that by the end of the week he would also be ‘hooked’ and wanting to complete as many laps as he could each day! Every evening we were given a hot meal and a beer but the rest of the time we were self catering. There was a ‘cookhouse’ for our use in a small tent that had a fridge freezer, two ring cooker, microwave and kettle. The supermarket was 15 mins walk away so we didn’t go hungry.
My target was at least 50km a day but I had all day to do it so I was hopeful of reaching my target. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too good and I struggled to run in the torrential rain. It was also cold and I had not taken sufficient warm kit so I eneded up walking rather than running to avoid having to wash clothes daily. This was a challenge as the wash hand basins did not have plugs. After a few days a very kind ex. pat lady offerred to take some clothes home and wash them in her machine for me. Very kind of her and she delivered them back to me the following day. One of the things I love about this event is that the locals are all so friendly and supportive.
Richard got completely into the spirit of the event and ended up doing at least a Marathon everyday. Things didn’t go so well for poor Alan who tripped on the ‘chip’ mat on the 3rd lap of day one and tore his hamstring Ouch! He rested for a while, took some photos, crewed a bit then decided he was getting bored. He then walked/jogged around but was obviously in some pain.
One of the things I like about this event is the groups of children that come out each day from the school which is situated on the circuit. The teachers just send them on their way with a chip on their shoes and a different class come out each day. For the second year running (excuse the pun) I met up with young Hugo Hakkinen who tells me his dad is a racing driver! We did a few laps together with some of his chums talking about school etc. Such well behaved and friendly children and great to be able to chat to them without worrying about the consequences!
At the end of the week my good friends Elaine Oddie and Heather Foundling-Hawker arrived to take part in the 24 hour race that started at 9-00am on the Saturday together with Abichal Watkins who had come to help Alan crew for Heather. I had promised Elaine I would go round the entire 24 hours with her day and night so we trotted off together soon to be reduced to a walk but enjoying each others company. Heather set off at a good pace looking to run 200km to qualify to run for England in the Commonwealth championships in September.
As I was behind on my daily target I assumed I would be able to make it up during the last 24 hours. Wrong! I was so tired that by the early hours of the morning I was flagging and so decided to take a couple of hours sleep at 5-00am so as to keep Elaine company for the last 2 hours of her race. When I woke up it was pouring with rain so we walked together until the end when Elaine went back to her hotel for a bath, some food and a rest before coming back to see us finish at 2-00pm. The rain eased off towards the end and after the finish we all walked one lap with Prince Albert and his entourage. Wine and snacks were served and we all congratulated each other on our achievements over the last 8 days. It was quite emotional as we had literaly lived, ate, slept and competed together which is what I love about the multi day fraternity.
I was pleased with my result of 360.844 km considering I had run very little and walked a lot but Elaine was a bit disappointed that she didn’t mange her 100km target even though she kept going for the full 24 hours and Heather also did not make her 200km. Richard clocked up 401.688km and I think he enjoyed the experience.
After the race I was blessed by being able to go with Elaine to her hotel where I had a lovely bath and a couple of hours sleep before returning to the harbour to meet the others for a meal. I then returned to Elaines Hotel with her for my last night. After Elaine went home the next morning I went back to dismantle my tent and head off to the airport with Richard, Alan and our Swiss friend Freddi. Heather had already left.
Well, it was a great event and I am really looking forward to going again next year.
I raised over £500 for Advance International Ministries and shall contine my JustGiving.com site until after the Virgin London Marathon.

Milton Keynes Enigma track Marathon

Gil and I both ran this event recently, it was actually my first official track Marathon. Obviously having run Barry 40 three times and fourteen 24 hour track races I am used to going around in circles but it has been a while since my last track race so I really enjoyed it. The weather was perfect and I was pleased with my 5-40-54 finishing time. Legs were fine the next day so I am really looking forward now to the No Finish Line 8 day race in Monaco starting on the 20th of November. My target is 250 miles so that’s just over 50km a day. Managed it for 6 days last year so I hope the extra 2 days won’t be a problem.

Leicester Marathon

Just had a great weekend with Gil in Leicester. Managed to visit my cousin Peter (81 years old) who has been an athletics official most of his life and now lives in Oakham, Rutland. Also had a look around Rutland Water for the first time. From there, went on to stay with friends Geoff and Elizabeth Oliver, about 30 mins away where we stayed the night.
Sunday morning we drove to Leicester for the Marathon, Geoff was only running the half and was running home (10 miles) afterwards.
After a dull start weather soon brightened up and it became a lovely day. Although not planning to run with my good chum Elaine Oddie, at about 6 miles we found ourselves along side each other so decided to complete the race together. We had plenty to chat about so it was nice to have company as otherwise we would have both been on our own until the end. We walked a lot in the second half so crossed the line in good ‘nick’ in 6hrs 12 mins. At the finish there was a little party as one of the 100 Marathon Club ‘wannabees’ had just run his 100th Marathon and a nice group of club members had waited for us to finish. We weren’t last as another club member came in just behind us followed by 4 more ‘stragglers’. Jouney home was a nightmare with the traffic but we made it back safely.

Next one for me is a track Marathon at Milton Keynes on the 6th of November, a first for me although I have organised several.

This is all part of my preparation for the No Finish Line event in Monaco on the 20th of November. This will be my main fundraising event for this year so I have set up a Justgiving.com page (see the link). I am hoping to do 250 miles in the 8 days.

Two2Go Marathon

Gil and I set off at the crack of dawn for our journey to Hackney Marshes for the coach trip up to the start at St Margarets. Herts for the Marathon which runs down the Lea Valley and finishes close to the site of the Olympic Stadium.
There is oficially a 6 hour time limit and last year, as I got lost, I pulled out at 25K thinking I would not make the cut off. Therefore this year I was detemined to finish especially after the disappointment in Perth. Shortly after the start whilst running near the back of the field I met a lady called Debbie and we jog/walked the whole race together. I was really pleased not to have to run alone and I enjoyed her company. Eventually we were the last runners but because we were experienced Marathoners the organisers let us finish and we crossed the line together in 6-34. She had a couple of chums waiting for her at the end (I also knew them) and I had Gil. Mike Gratton who is involved in this race was also waiting so it was nice to have a chat with him. My total Marathon/ultras is now 136 but actually I have only done 91 Marathons so. hopefully in 2012 I will complete my 100th Marathon.
Next race is Leicester Marathon in a fortnight, hope to break 5-30!

Perth Ultrafest

Oh dear, race didn’t go to plan. Went o.k. for the first 10 hours (approx. 60Km) then it all fell apart. Wasn’t happy running around the dark sections of the park made worse by a gang of youths generally making a nuisance of themselves. Decided to take a short break while the police sorted the situation but felt ill and didn’t get going again. Spent half an hour in the first aid ambulance (3 young men taking care of me!). They suggested that I should pull out and sleep so that’s what I did. I was fine after a few hours sleep and a bowl of porridge. Watched the rest of the event (24 hour race) and enjoyed the rest of my time in Scotland. Stayed with great chum Alan Young in Dundee before travelling home by train on the Monday.
At least I did not wear myself out for the Marathon the following Saturday.

Perth Ultrafest

I didn’t think I would ever run another 100Km race as the time limit in the U.K. races is usually 11 hours so I was pleased to see a 100Km race combined with a 24 hour race in Perth this weekend. There is a 20 hour time limit so I am going to give it a go. Off on the train today for tomorrows race. Looking forward to running a multi lap event with lots of my ultra chums.
More to follow….

Boddington Marathon

Had a great weekend in Gloucester, where we ran the Boddington Marathon on the 19th of June.
Unusually I ran the first couple of laps with Gil (we were running 12 laps in total) then met Collette O’ Hagan from Dublin. We jog/walked together and crossed the line in 5-26-53, my best Marathon time since Hastings in December 2008. I was well pleased with that! Still need to ‘up’ the training though. Would b e nice to get closer to 5 hours again. Maybe next year, who knows.