Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Plymouth 10K - A bit of a blustery run!

It's now November and 32 events out of the 37 already completed, it was time to complete some more and that leads me on to this blog.

Having to reduce the mileage down in my final events from ultras and marathons due to my current on going knee injury, I decided on ones no further than 10 miles at the most for the remainder. Having smashed out other smaller events since Equinox24, it was time for Event 32 of 37 the Plymouth 10K.

Due to issues, with the previous event organisers, (the same company that organises the half marathon) this 10K was cancelled earlier in the year. They put it down to not being allowed to expand it to take in more athletes to cover increasing costs, in my opinion on looking into it, and how they run the half marathon it was more about not able to make more profit and they threw their toys out of the pram.

Plymouth 10K for a lot of runners in the area is a special one, as for most it's their first race they ever ran, so when it got cancelled there were a lot of disappointed runners. However a few months a go, a company in talks with the local council soon opened the new 10K to get it up and running. Obviously this pleased a lot of runners, despite other good events on at the same in the area such as the good Cornish marathon and Drogo 10 miler. Despite the short notice, it soon filled up with 1600 runners, which wasn't too shabby for the time frame it was put together.

Early start
 Event 32 of 37 - Plymouth 10K

With the race starting at 8.30am, and club photo at 8am, it was going to be an early start to get into the city centre getting around the road closures and to find a spot to park before it got chockers. Grabbed myself a hot chocolate from the Costa machine in my local garage and off I went. It was dark, wet and miserable start to the day with the wind picking up slowly. Luckily I had already picked up my race number the day before from the Race HQ so I didn't need to attempt to do it just before race start when it was stupidly busy.

Plymouth Musketeers RC at Plymouth 10K (pic taken by Tracey Taylor)


With the group photo out of the way, I was soon met by a friend who wanted me to get her round. Not that I thought she needed help, but as always I was pleased to help. It was her first race and first time to cover 10K, however I knew through training she was capable of doing it.

The start line area was soon buzzing, as they organised a quick warm up session for the runners, prior to the start. We soon gathered on the start line, with the announcements of some of the elite runners with Cornish ladies legend Emma Septo among them. Bang on time the hooter went and we were off, the event was chipped time, so regardless of when we crossed the start line, we'd have a time that reflected when we officially started and finished.

The course is pretty simple, and not the toughest 10K either, it's good for PB's although not entirely flat, I would say there is some gentle inclines that all throughout the course. From the start you head off down Royal Parade, where even at 8.30am the support was amazing. Out onto Exeter Street, down through Gdynia Way to Embankment. As this is 5k turning point, the support wasn't as plenty as in the city centre it's self but it was still there. Even in the miserable weather, the support kept cheering and clapping all the way through. Just after we turned round to head back there was a water station manned well by a local air cadet group, the route was well marshaled along the way also. The marshals were great and highly motivated as well which you like to see as a runner.

The route was headed back the exact route that you ran out in until you crossed the finish line, with the wind in your face it was harder going than it should've been. As you came in to the city centre there was even more support out, obviously the noise from the support at 8.30am start woke the locals up and they must have came out to see what all the fuss was. It was brilliant, I'm not going to lie. Once you finished you funneled out to collect your goody bag. For the first 10k from this company at short notice I can't really grumble to be honest. It was well organised, the goody bag had more in it than the bigger half marathon event that's held in the city. You even got a t-shirt along with the medal included in the price of this event. The goody bag wasn't quite as good as the more established Bristol 10K I ran earlier in the year however it was of similar cost which it was almost on par to a bigger mass participated 10K.

The Route
Would I run this one again? If it remained as good value and well run as this years, then yes I would. If it went towards the way the half marathon has gone, then no I wouldn't especially when there are two other good events in the area. I would recommend this 10K to first timers as it would set them great for future 10K times.

Done!

 So that completes event 32 and since then I've also completed event 33 of 37 which was the "Poppy Challenge" in aid of the Royal British Legion. Another event done, and more miles for my friend Phil. I can't believe where this year has gone to be honest. It's flown so quickly and my body has taken a beating. My blogs have been nominated for an award so please if not for me but for the miles I've run for my friend give us a vote by following the link. The Running Awards vote here!

Event 34 of 37 "Poppy Challenge 33k"


Until next time thanks for reading, and the continued support.

ps here's a peak at the route for #YOLO7dayUltra 2017

Taken by the International Space Station

Friday, 25 September 2015

Equinox24 Endurance Event - Sun Downers and Sun Uppers.

After a long journey all 6 hrs of it, in the car from Plymouth that was made longer thanks to the lovely M5 traffic jams, we made our way down a dusty track heading towards lights and sounds that were on the horizon, and with Belvoir Castle (near Grantham) glowing due to an orange light I was starting to get pre event excitment or as my wife who is my support crews says starting to become a pre race arsehole. I still don't know what she means by this as I'm always calm and collective prior to any running event!

Glamping was available (Photo by Mark Ratcliffe)
 Met at the campsite area by my good friend Duane of Team Buff UK, he guided us to the area, where he and the others were pitched along the start finish line. Probably one of the longest start finish lines I've seen for sure and arriving late meant we didn't get the best of spots but it wasn't the worst. It was dark, so we didn't hang around and soon got our shelter up in quick time thanks to lending hands of my Team Buff friends. We've gone for a different set up to our HOPE24 set up. Mainly for ease as our massive tent is a nightmare to put up and down for such a short time. With it up and done and only the stuff for the insides to sort out we went off to our hotel to try and get a good night sleep prior to a long day ahead of me. We checked in and put my best support crew member (my 5 year old son) into bed and I and the wife soon dropped off to sleep.

All set up!
Event 28 of 37 Equinox 24 - 24 hour Endurance Event

I slept pretty well, unlike my wife she had a pretty rubbish sleep which was not good considering she was going to be crewing me later on. I still had to register to pick up my race number and finish setting up our stuff for the event,  so we left the hotel early, grabbed a big breakfast and made our way to the event.

All ready for the go!
The place was buzzing with the very atmosphere I like. People were up and getting themselves ready, campsite was a lot more filled and I couldn't wait to start. I registered straight away and picked up my race number and the Equinox24 Morph (a bit like a Buff) and preceeded to finish sorting out my stuff, getting it all prepared. Even though I had some various snacks out on the table, I decided to try something different. As I had no minimum laps or a target it didn't matter if things went wrong. I was out to enjoy it as much as I could and try new things. Having heard about a nutritional product called Tailwind from Duane, and knew other friends raved about this product, I thought I'd give it ago. I filled up my bladder in my race vest with water and added the naked flavour Tailwind powder to the water. As it was a 2 ltr bladder and normally the sachets give two scoops for 500 ml, I added 7 scoops to the water. I went 1 less as I had a feeling 8 would be one to many.

Duane and myself
As I was getting ready, the fun run for the children was set off and it was soon good seeing them having fun. Some with their parents some with out. It was a lap of the camping a field about 1KM I think and it was good to see all the solo and team runners cheering them on as they went around. I stuck my hand out for a high 5 like many of them will be when I am running about, but alas none took up my offer. I felt slightly rejected by this but I knew they were focused on their goals hehe!

Team Buff UK's Sarah, David and me!
As 11.30am approached everyone made their way down to the start finish line for the run director's briefing. Johnny Nicol with microphone in his hand mentioned the usual rules and regulations you would hear at a 24 hour event. This is the 3rd year the event has been put on and has grown massively since the 1st year and this year there was about 1200 odd runners either running the 10K, team relays or as soloists and this was showing in the atmosphere around the arena.

Last few minute preps and I made my way to the start line, with so many people on the start line, I was towards the back. Everyone was eager to go, like horses in the starting pens. The big and small hands hit 12pm and we were off, the supporters along the start straight finish cheering us on as we made our way out of the area. Each lap was 10KM and was made up of mainly tarmac with some grassy areas, having asked a few veterans of the course, I asked how it compared to HOPE24's course and was told it's not a challenging but the extra 1.2 miles makes up for it. The course lead us out down the road before turning right up an incline and the first of the grassy areas. It took us around a field before back on the road and heading back towards the way we came. Not far after the 3KM sign we turned right and headed down a slight incline towards and over a bridge near two beautiful lakes at the 4KM point. Straight after the bridge we made our way up a long hill, it wasn't steep but it went on for about 1 and 3/4 KM's where you hit a water station.

Race start briefing
 We turned left onto another grassy field where it took us past the 6KM marker towards a steep short downhill section. The downhill was also at a camber all the way down to the bottom where you turned left toward what they call "That Hill". This was a short steep hill, which brought you back up to the top towards the tarmac. It wasn't a tough hill but it was enough to make you walk it. At the top turning right along the grass you soon hit 7KM and eventually heading down the tarmac which we came up before hand. Half way down the hill where a marshal waited for us we turned right into another field and down a slight incline towards the lake. You can see the arena from here and one of the lakes. We turned right at the bottom and headed past the 8KM and turning right over the bridge and back up the incline towards the arena. 9KM's led you back into and around the arena. The route lead us around the arena where some of the best support you could imagine were located until you hit the finish start straight which was a really slight incline and that was your lap done!

That Hill
 So how did my event go for me? First two laps were pretty good, straight away I went with run the flats and downs and walk the hills from the very beginning, and making sure I soaked up the event with the mindset of enjoying it all the best I can. I didn't stop between the first two laps but after finishing the 2nd lap I had to change my shoes. I was wearing my Hoka Speedgoats, but due to the amount of tarmac it just wasn't worth trail shoes. I had another pair of trail shoes and only one pair of road shoes. I went with the road shoes which happened to be my famous Hoka Flops from my epic adventure. Even though I knew it was going to get damp during the night on the grass it was worth the risk I thought. The sun was beaming down on us, and it was redders out on the laps. I was making sure I took my salt capsules every hour due the heat and sipped on my tailwind from the race vest's bladder. I had a cup of water when I reached the water station. As I made my way up the long hill for the 3rd time, the back of my right knee blew out on me. The injury I sustained during the 7 ultras in 7 days reared it's ugly head once more. It proved I wasn't fully recovered and now it was a case of damage control during the laps. I got back to the tent, and the support crew aka the Wife was waiting ready to go. She knew exactly when I was coming, due to hiring a tracker for the weekend for this purpose. It saved me using texts on my phone and it worked very well.

Digging in deep (Photo by Curly Photography)
I'd taken my poles out for hills to give my knee some respite and soon 5 laps had gone, each marshal I passed on each lap got a thank you, because they rotated with different marshals through out the 24 hours, I didn't know if I'd see them again. I crossed the line and grabbed a top up of the bladder and my head torch ready to dig in deep for the night. Each lap finished with that amazing support, there were cow bells, cheering, clapping, and signs. On one lap I had a runner called Paul Ross from Shabba Runners recognise who I was and came over to me as I passed and shook my hand. I stopped and chatted as he introduced me to his team and told them of what I had recently done in my epic adventure. The awareness of what I set out to achieve over the year is working and it makes me very humble. During lap 6 I had other runners slow down and chat to me asking me about what I did. I was humbled and my spirit was lifted because of this. Also my wife was now having a nightmare due to my boy being poorly and vomiting everywhere, the last thing she needed was to deal with me. I had 30 min break and headed out once more my thought with my wife and boy now and not on the run. I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't that cold. it was cold but I coped with just my X-Bionic Trick shirt and Gillet my arms and legs felt warm. On the other side of the lakes there was a big wedding going on, with a terrible saxophonist and a DJ giving it large, I was able to guess the tune and have no need for headphones. It went on til late into the night/early in the morning so wasn't much of a quiet period.

Great support throughout the event by Team Bear Tri
 Eventually I came in from my 7th Lap, it was not good with my knee, I felt great otherwise, with Tailwind doing what I expected. I still hadn't needed any food and I seemed to have solved my issue with eating right here. It was 2.48am and I went out for 8th lap but 2 minutes after I couldn't go a step further with my knee and with my boy being ill I didn't want to go out (in my head anyways). I hobbled back and I went for a lie down. Something I didn't want to do or plan for but I did it. I got my head down about 3am and it wasn't until almost 7am that I give my mind a telling off and dragged me out and back on the course. I kept hearing the other runners go past and I had to get up, I had to. The sun was coming up with a little mist over the course. It was stunning, and with that second wind you get first thing when the sun comes up, I went out put in a good 8th lap, I saw a field full of ducks which was something I didn't expect.

Photo by Mark Ratcliffe
 Now I went on for my 9th lap with time to do another and another I had in mind, but as I made my way around the course, my knee had nothing left pain, pain I hadn't felt since the third day of #YOLO7dayUltra. the day I couldn't barely walk. That was it, my event was over for me. The rest of me was good to go, and if I hadn't had stopped for almost 4 hours I could've done even more. Was I disappointed? No I did what I set out to do and that was to enjoy myself. My wife met me at the bottom of the finish straight and walked with me to the finish. I received a great man hug from Johnny who's words were "You're going to be the first to punch me for saying one more lap aren't you?" "No, my knee has had it" was my reply, with that I ended my run and collected my lovely medal. I was very pleased, that I survived pretty much on Tailwind alone with no issues, no sickness, cramp or feeling hungry. I had fuel in the tank and it was great. I was reasonably happy with my performance and the fact actually I could of nailed more laps really but this time just 93KM's were completed but they were happy 93KM's.

More miles for Phil
 What can I say about this event? It's a very special event. The atmosphere is amazing, the support is something I've only seen really at events this. The marshals are everything you want from a marshal they kept your spirits up and made sure everyone was ok as you went around. There was plenty of food selection in the arena, from fish and chips, jacket potatoes to pizza. There was a double deck beer bus which supplied throughout from Friday on wards.The event is amazing and if it grows even bigger I hope it doesn't lose the spirit, the atmosphere I love about it. I've met and created new friendships, Sid the man who wore a Morph suit throughout another inspirational man and Nikki Reeves who had more changes of outfits than the London Fashion show you smashed out an awesome 111K whilst still fitting in a long sleep. The winners Gary and Kirsty were amazing and put in outstanding performances.

Johnny and Laura have created something special here, long may it continue. Definitely one as long as I'm not at sea I will go back to.

I must thank my wife and son for being an amazing support crew once more, X-Bionic and Sunwise for the continued support and the amazing kit.

Top Crewie!
I've 9 events left to do now and more miles for Phil to run. Until the next time!

Owain




Friday, 14 August 2015

#YOLO7dayUltra - New Forest (Southampton) to Land's End

It's been 4 days since I finished this epic journey and as I still recover it's best to jot down some words whilst it is still fresh in the mind although I doubt I will ever forget each and every mile.

Last year whilst at work, I received the news from one of my best friends that he was diagnosed with Oesophaegal cancer and that they were going to operate on him. Not long afterward he had the op, however he then informed us of the worse news anyone can hear. It was terminal and continueing with the op wouldn't help. It hit home, he was at the time only 32 with a young wife and a 1 year old. Not too much difference to my self. Now he continues his fight and has passed the 12 months he was given and even has a little baby girl addition to the family. So if he is still pushing his limits it only meant that I should too.

Knowing I couldn't help him personally by curing him or find operating on him as I wasn't that talented, I decided to use the only skill I had and that was run. By running, I could raise awareness and some money so that maybe I could make a difference to others in the future. I chose a small charity as they always get over looked by the bigger ones such as Cancer Research. The charity was Ochre http://www.ochrecharity.org.uk/ which is a small Oesophaegal cancer charity.

So I sat down and thought what could I do? I thought about doing the JOGLE race, but I didn't have time with work and I also didn't want the chance of failure due to cut of times etc. So I looked at however far I could go in a day allowing me enough time for some recovery, eating etc. I always wanted to finish something at Land's End and being raised most of my life in Cornwall this was fitting for me. I worked out roughly 7 days of running and looked at a map. Phil, who this is all about moved from Cornwall where he grew up to the New Forest nr Southampton to set up his family home as he left the Army. So that was it I was basically running from Phil's new home to his old home. 14/15 months ago the event was created I was going to run from the New Forest to Land's End via Phil's childhood home on the last day.

Event 26 of 37 - #YOLO7dayUltra - New Forest (Southampton) to Land's End

We arrive at our hotel the night before the start of the event which was about 30 mins from my starting point. I couldn't get any closer due to the busy period of summer and every where cheap enough was booked out. I was accompanied by my support crew which was made up of my wife and 4 year old son and Les who will be the medic. My sports masseuse will be joining me later during the week. Also joining me is a good friend Luke Elliott, who recently won the Ham to Lyme 100k event. He has given up his time to support run the first and second day with me.

Pre Event beers with Luke
We gathered in the pub that evening, discussed the first day of runnings route and timings. I discussed what I wanted from my support crew, wife using her vehicle for the Check Point (CP) food and drink stations, and Les's truck for the kit. Having never done anything to this extent before none of us knew exactly what or how to do things. It was going to be a learning curve over the next few days. Each day was going to be an early start of 7am and I had a time of 12 hours planned to finish each day to allow for as much recovery time as possible. The earlier I can finish the better of course, but with out knowing how each day will be I didn't want to take too many chances. The aim was to run/walk/shuffle/crawl to each day's finish line if needs be!

Day 1 - New Forest (nr Fritham) to Dorchester 

We left the hotel early doors and made our way to the start line in the New Forest. We soon arrived, and I got my self sorted to go. 7am Luke and myself checked the first part of where we were heading to and off we went. Both of being off road runners, tarmac didn't exactly excite us, however the first part of the tarmac took us through the beautiful scenic parts of the New Forest. If only the rest of the route was going to be like this. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, and we soon hit Ringwood area heading towards the A31. Having driven the A31 many times before I was in no doubt how busy the route will be for traffic. As we made in to the town we hit our first CP. Now I decided that I wanted each CP to be approximately every 5 miles. I could then treat them like laps of a 24 hour endurance race and tick them off. We quickly took on some snacks like pork pies and crisps check the next part of the route and said good bye to the support crew.

The very start with the support crew
We made our way through the town and soon after took the wrong turn and heading the wrong way. Luckily this mis direction took us down a trail much to Luke's delight and continued until we could hear the busy A31 traffic.

Goodbye Hampshire hello Dorset
As we hit the A31 it was as expected very busy. Unfortunately the first couple of days was going to have to be on the busy A31/35 as going off this route would add further miles and it wasn't something I could afford to do time wise. This was already the longest day out of all 7 and needed to make sure it was nailed. The route took me down duel carriageways which despite being busy weren't that bad due to having a fair bit of space on the side of the road to run on. When we got to the single lane roads of the A31 and ones with out pavements which was pretty much most of we ran with the flow of the traffic. Now we did try and run on the correct side of the road towards the on coming traffic but we found we almost got hit more times on the correct side than when we were going with the traffic. Despite some members of the public trying to tell us which side we should be on, we stuck to our guns and made our way to Dorchester.

At one point as we made it down the single lane A31 there was stand still traffic in the opposite direction. Luke being a much faster runner would run a head for a bit and stretch his legs out. Knowing I still had 6 more days to go I wouldn't be stretching my legs out that fast. Walking the hills and running as much of the rest as much as possible was my plan and it seemed to be going well enough.

Luke at one point spoke to one of the drivers who asked him what was going on casuing the traffic jam. As I caught up with said driver he soon started cheering me and beeping his horn which lead to a couple other cars starting beeping for me. Luke told them what I was up to and it was the kind of moral boost I needed.

It was a warm day on the roads I was definitely feeling the heat. We were making good time though and hitting the CP's and I was ticking each one off. It was during the first day that I had a great idea of having a Callipo ice lollipop. God, it was so refreshing it was like a cold cuddle that was definitely needed. Luke still by side, kept me going as we took the mick out of other and when I started to flag he helped pick smaller goals to run/walk to. Lamp posts, signs, trees whatever we could.

Eventually surviving the first day we made it to Dorchester where we would be staying the first night. We eventually made our way through Dorchester town to the car park where my first finish line was. 11 hrs 4 mins and 40.3 miles I crossed the the finish line of Day 1 of 7. (All times each day include the rest stops at CP's and injury treament times) I was pretty pleased with the time although not quick, it was within the 12 hrs I set and I still had 6 more days to go. Never done multi staged event  like this before I didn't want to risk pushing my self that would break myself too much. I was sore, but nothing unusal at the end of an ultra.

Day 1 Ultra 1 done!
 We stayed at the Thornycoombe Farm which gave us a really great deal on the accommodation. We went out for something to eat, and I came across my first problem. I wasn't able to eat properly, food was starting to unfriend me and not a good sign for the forth coming days.

Day 2 - Dorchester to Honiton

Well I got about 6 hours of sleep, I say sleep my eyes were closed but I was only lightly sleeping and for a heavy sleeper that's not great but it was better than nothing. Starting at 7am again we're all up early packing everything up and getting ready for what will be the toughest route out of all 7. Why is tough 1000 metres of climb in total but the climbs aren't stupidly steep they are very long. Again, I knew the route and I know the A35 very well driving it a lot because of work.

Day 2 Ultra 2 start
I eat some food, took a couple painkillers and then went in front of the car and threw everything up. Not a start I wanted, my body was starting to react badly to wanting to go again. I stretched a bit to try and ease up my legs and off we went. Again with Luke at my side we started off with a little walk to try and ease my legs in. The back of my right knee, became very painful. We broke into a run and I had to stop immediately. I called the support crew to pull over so I could get to them. I hobbled to the truck, and I could barely move my right leg. We taped up the back of my right leg to see if that would help at all. It seemed to help slightly as although in pain, it let me get a run/walk on.

We made our way out of Dorchester and on to the A35 heading towards Honiton. As we got about 2-3 miles down the road, I hear a friendly voice I recognise shout out of one of the support vehicle windows as they over took. That voice belonged to Duane Roberts of Team Buff UK. He had traveled down from the South East after visiting his daughter and the birth of his first grandchild to Bridport the night before slept in his van. Got up early ran to 16 miles to Dorchester to meet me. He stopped in the McDonalds for a coffee and missed us go passed. So my support crew found him and brought him to us. He then joined me and Luke for my run. This man is on form at the moment, acquiring quite a few podium places. Recently securing 2nd place at Thunder Run 24 smashing in 125 miles only just over a week before.

That was it now, there was 3 of us on our way heading to Honiton. The weather was close in temp but over cast, with a tiny bit rain to start with. This soon changed as we made our way to Bridport, and it became very warm and sunny once more. With Duane and Luke pushing me, I was starting to feel it. We were hitting the check points, but I was struggling to take anything but fluids in. Everything felt very dry even when mixing it with water I struggled.

As we approached Bridport, I thought Duane would be stopping but no he was going all the way to Honiton, morale levels up now but pain levels increasing. My feet were getting painful as they were swelling. I had bought shoes a size bigger in anticipation of this but they were growing a size and half bigger in width. With the pain behind my knees I was struggling not including the heat.

Goodbye Dorset hello Devon with Luke and Duane
 As we got to Bridport there was a fatality accident closing one of the roads, so traffic was at stand still however despite the good feeling of passing the cars and going faster than them, my support crew was stuck in it. I made the decision to not have the next check point and to just crack on as it meant I could be waiting a long time for the crew to arrive. Eventually they made it through and set up at 18 miles at the top of a really long climb.

The day seemed to get longer and longer as we made our way to Honiton, knowing the route didn't help as I knew when the hills were coming and they just never ended. Duane and Luke were pushing me as best they could and with the final hill climb completed it left with a down hill finish in Honiton. I crossed the line a very broken man mentally and physically. 11 hours and 53 mins to cover 36 miles. Short route than day 1 but 3 times tougher!

A mutual friend of Phil's called Brendan Hooper lent us a student house he owns in Exeter which isn't far from Honiton and Torquay (Day 3's finish) so we were setting up HQ there for the next two nights. The wife took Duane back to his van in Bridport, and Luke and Les took me back to the house. They set up an ice bath (which the ice was kindly provided by Brendan for me as well as other stuff) and boiled me up a ration pack meal I had. I managed to eat 1 and a bit of spag bol ration packs before getting my head down. Luke was taken to the train station as he had work to do for his Masters to get on with and I went to bed. Day 3 was going to be difficult as I knew I was going to be alone for most of the day and because of how I was feeling I was starting even earlier.

Day 3 - Honiton to Torquay

Welcome to hell! That's probably my best way to describe this day. So much so I've pretty much blanked the majority of the day from my memory. This section is going to be short because of that very reason, I don't want to relive it as much as possible.

Knowing I was going to be slow due to being by myself and in severe pain and with the weather turning to shit I took the decision to start at 5am not 7am.

Day 3 Ultra 3 start
I made a start again with a walk to try and get the first few bits to ease my legs off. However it turned ugly for me. With my feet in severe pain, the legs so stiff and my back of my right knee in a bad way I was struggling.

We only had one vehicle today as were returning to the same house and being by myself the medic jumped in the wife's car. This allowed him to jump out and walk with me for a bit. I got to 5k and my pace was so shocking I had to call a pit stop. 45 minute miles was happening! Physically and mentally I was broken. I sat on the boot of the car and went over everything in my head. I received a phone call from Duane who tried to pick me up. It was no good, I had to do something and quitting completely was the likely option.

I had a think and decided to get a couple hours sleep and see how I felt when I woke up. I woke up, smashed in some food and decided to crack on. I felt better for it. Weather was still poor, but I was making better head way than I was. The wife had been drumming up support via social media and seeing it all helped me mentally. I found out 3 runners were going to join me out side Torquay for the last 10K of the run. I had to get there.

Eventually I made it and they met up with me. A lady I met during Imrey's Trail Half marathon who I helped finish it, Mark Stockman and Steve Hookins who I met through the Hope24 event. Suddenly it was like a new lease of life! They got me to the finish line in Torquay and helped me end what was the lowest part of my life. The best way to describe how I felt during the 37 tough miles and 14 hours of hell was suicidal.

Day 3 Ultra 3 finish 2ith Mark, Steve and Chrissy
 A day I do not want to repeat ever again! My sports masseuse from Muscle Mechanic based in Hampshire was at the end to greet me. Despite being 8 months pregnant Amanda still came down and started right away as I tucked away into food (I had demolished a child's burger and chips) on my legs. She flossed my swollen joints which was my left ankle (an injury from Endure12/50 a couple of weekends prior) and my right knee. A painful procedure but worth the pain for the pain. When we got back to the house, she went to town my body. She was amazing!

We took the tape off my feet to try and let the feet breath a bit and to see damage caused it wasn't a pretty sight. With tape running out quickly, the crew rang MyRaceKit and spoke to friends Elisabet and Colin who swiftly dispatched more in time for our arrival in Plymouth. Those two have been a god send to me and I can't thank them enough.

Blisters on blisters

Nasty!
 Day 4 - Torquay to Devonport (Plymouth)

Starting at 7am again we were up early back into Torquay ready to go. Unexpectedly I was joined at the start by Brendan Hooper. The guy who lent me his house for two nights, had just finished a night shift and was now joining me for the start of the run. Amazing! He pledged to run for the first 4 hours so he still had time to get some sleep and get ready to go back for another night shift.

Day 4 Ultra 4 start
 Amanda had given a quick sort out prior to leaving the house, and although still stiff and sore I was able to go again. So because my feet suffered badly the day before I made alterations to my shoes I cut  into the side and this allowed the pressure to be released. My poor shoes, however a size bigger wasn't cutting it.


My feet felt so much better and I was making good picking small goals to run/walk through. I seemed to be getting stronger as the day went on as well making my way through South Hams district. Food was going down, I was doing well on crisps, Muller rice etc. Soon Brendan left me and I was on my own once more, but this time I felt better. I was in a positive place both mentally and physically.



I got CP3 where Amanda had her table out ready for me, she gave me another going over. Whilst there two elderly ladies asked what was going on. Soon they were off to their cars getting some money to donate. Both of them lost their fathers to Oesophaegal cancer. Another morale boost from this because strangers were donating!

I went on my way feeling good, sore, achy but good. Heading towards South Brent I could see the moors of Dartmoor in the distance. I was getting closer to where I live but more importantly the finish. I made my way towards Ivybridge, coming down a 20% incline wasn't good for my legs, but as at 1.5 miles outside of Ivybridge where the next CP was, I was joined by friend from my local running club the Plymouth Musketeers. He was going to run with me to the finish, the day was heating up and it was the morale boost once more I needed.

Gary kept me coming from Ivybridge
We made it through to Ivybridge and to the CP. I took on my snacks and liquid now consisting of Milk, Coconut water and flat coke as standard. We were given a Callipo and on my way to Plympton power station the next CP. Along the way my best mate Adam who had just finished work and caught me up for a bimble. I left him and off we ran on our route. This route had kept me off the A38 luckily and around the back roads. Although one part took us up a public footpath it was so muddy it had been recently used by 4x 4's for green laneing. I tried to keep out of it now, as by this point my feet had swelled in width and length a size and half and had now cut the toe box up to allow the ends of my toes more room. Last thing I needed was my feet to be wet and muddy.

With the next CP done and dusted I was no in Plympton where I was joined by another two Muskies, Stuart and Adrian and then making my way past my house I was joined by Amie who is a parkrunner at the parkrun I run direct at and a member of the Sweatshop Running community I go to. I now had 4 runners with me and still about 10 miles to go. As we approached Marsh Mills CP I was joined by more Muskies and Sweatshop Community runners (SRC) including Luke who took a couple hours of uni work. It was mad, I was now surrounded by runners and I felt like I was the PM out on a run. We made our way along the embankment towards the city centre where I was then joined by Pete Waumsley a Tamar Trotter and owner of Frank Elfords Sports shop. A good friend who has given me lots of support over the last year in my journey towards this event.

I made my way through Plymouth and I could feel the end was coming! I eventually came to the down hill to the ferry terminal finish line, I finished strongly and crossed the line with everyone behind me. It was so great to have my local running friends join me!

Day 4 Ultra 4 done!
 35.5 miles and in 11 hours 3 minutes I actually felt really positive about the last 3 days!

Day 5 - Devonport to Lanydrock House (nr Bodmin)

Today started with a final sort out by Amanda before she had to shoot off back home to Hampshire. I can't thank her enough really for the work she did! It was truly appreciated and definitely needed! Thank you Amanda! After a night in my own bed, it was very difficult to get out of bed and I did not want to leave my house, however I knew I had to.

Day 5 Ultra 5 start
I got to the Ferry terminal in time to catch the 0645 ferry across to Torpoint to start Day 5 and soon enough I was across the other side. As I made my way through Torpoint I was met by a lady runner called Carole, who found out about the event through her news feed. Having never met her before this was amazing, she wanted to keep me company until the first CP. It was great, totally unexpected but great. We chatted along until she finally had to leave me. I made 3 more miles up until once more I was joined by another runner called Jane. She is one of the Mud Crew Event directors. Mud Crew put on events such as the Dark, Scrooge, ultras such R.A.T Plague and Arc of Attrition 100. Amazing events organised by ultra runners who know what runners want. Jane was wonderful she was going to keep me company til the end!

Carole joined me for a few miles

The lovely Jane
 We made away along the route dodging a lot of the A38 around the back roads. With some steep short climbs this would be another tough day and with the weather getting better as we ran along it wouldn't be long before it was hot. As we made our way I was soon joined by Ross, my next door neighbour who is a rugby player not a runner. He came out to keep me company for a few miles and managed to knock out 6 miles. It was great and I felt so humbled by this!

Next door neighbour Ross did some miles too!
Ross soon left us and myself and Jane made our way, eventually having to run a small part of the A38 heading down in to Glyn Valley or as I call it death valley. Luckily it wasn't for long and we again went off into the back roads, through more places I have never run before. Very scenic areas and having Jane as company made even more pleasurable. The hills still kept coming but I was in my stride and made our way closer and closer to the finish.

With Lanyhdrock House in close proximity I picked up the pace, and powered my way over the finish line once more. Another 33.3 miles smashed out and this time in 10 hours and 58 minutes. Jane was an angel on my shoulder at all times and I was so pleased we finished ahead of time. Great not only by my support crew but a friend Tammy from the Subaru owners club I belong to. It was so nice to see her at the end.

Day 5 Ultra 5finish with Jane.
 We arrived at our hotel and for the first time, I managed to smash in a proper adult's size meal. It was very good!

Day 6 - Lanhydrock House to Blackwater

A late start today at 9am why? Well I decided I need to complete another event. Event 27 Lanhydrock parkrun. Jane once again met me as it was her local parkrun that she also run directs. Along with some fellow muskies who came down to support, this parkrun wasn't going to be easy deemed as the 2nd toughest in the UK due to it's elevation profile I was just going to continue in the same fashion I had for the last 5 days.

Event 27 of 37 start!
I soon made my way round the course to the finish line where I was greeted with cheers and claps from a lot of the other parkrunners. I didn't have time to hang around though I was back on event 26 and and making my way out of the House grounds and on towards Blackwater (nr Truro).

I was accompanied by Jon Anderson who is also a fellow Muskie and SRC runner like myself. His lovely wife let him keep me company all the way til the half way point at Indian Queens. Now during the time the temperature rose, it was in around 26 degrees and the route had very little shelter, being very open. I was catching the sun nicely and I was definitely feeling the heat. my thoughts then turned to all those I knew who completed the Marathon de Sables event. Thinking if they can endure hotter for 6 days I can endure this for today. At one point a random runner out on his training run, spotted us. He asked the crew what we were doing and then caught us up to wish us luck before going back on his way. Humbling!

Jon kept me company from the park run for a few hours
Making good time, again I was ahead of schedule. Jon soon left me at Indian Queens where I was met by another good friend of mine Craig. we started running together when we both looked at losing weight and I got a place in the London Marathon 2010. Since then he's go on to smashing out ultras and marathons with good ease. He also support crewed Hope24 for me back in May.

Off we left the CP at Indian Queens and away we went but not along after I was surprised by Tony and Natalie Wallbank who were down on holiday. Natalie jumped out of their motor home with one of their dogs and joined me for about 4/5 miles, whilst Tony drove on and took some lovely photo's. You often find these two taking pics at various sporting events around the globe like the World Triathlon series. Randomly whilst also truly amazing, a guy called Pete (didn't get his surname) heard about me at the parkrun and caught up with me at Indian Queens and donated some money. I'm not sure if he went out of his own way or was on his way home either way it was great.



I was in a good place and we carried on smashing out the miles in the heat. I said my byes to Natalie and Tony, and continued on my way with Craig. Soon I was on the A30 getting closer and closer and when I finally got to the last check point I was met by Craig's wife Zoe (who is currently in training for her first ultra). Zoe had already been on a run this morning and as both had too go away for the last day they decided to support me today.

Tony and Natalie Wallbank top friends!
It was great two of my good friends keeping me company, pushing me on to the finish! No sooner said than done, we got on the downhill finish to Blackwater and we crossed the line! I was greeted by Phil's mum, my mum and dad and a few friends such a nice feeling.

Day 6 Ultra 6 finish with Craig and Zoe
31.3 miles in 9.52.03 and a parkrun nailed!

However feeling very broken I asked a friend for a favour, she allowed me to disturb her BBQ with runners from Carn Runners to give me an emergency massage. Alison from West Cornwall Massage Therapy worked her magic at short notice and it helped me start the final day! She saved me!

My 1 size bigger Hoka Flops shame my feet grow 1.5 sizes bigger!
Day 7 - Blackwater to Land's End via St Day (Phil's childhood home)

So here it is the final day, a day which at one point I didn't think I'd get to event though I didn't have a choice it did feel it could've been over early.

One final time getting up at 5am to prep myself for a 7am start, getting the vehicles ready and today I knew I was being joined by some other friends of Phil's who pledged their support be it for a short run or the whole day. At the start I was joined by Adam my best mate who doesn't run, Luke Collins another friend who is a second row 19 stone rugby player, Donna who is a casual runner but likes to keep fit, her friend Sharon, Wedge who is Phil's best friends since they were children and a friend of mine. He used to be a runner and a good one. Also joining us for a bit was Kathryn from Carn Runners who wanted to show support for a few miles as well as David who found out about the even through a post on his page.

Day 7 ultra 7 start
All their fresh faces surrounded me at the start line where I was definitely showing signs of being broken over the last 6 days. After a few photo's we started just after 7am and made our way to St Day to Phil's childhood house to quickly see his mum. The road to St Day from Scorrier is a bit hairy so we jumped on the trail which was a lot safer than the road way especially with such a large group.

We arrived at Phil's mum house for a couple of photo's and again made our way on to the first CP in Redruth. Kathryn left us and we made our way then on to Camborne to CP2, everyone still in high spirits, with Wedge providing the entertainment of bad jokes and bashing into every lamp post and sign along the way (nope he never got bored of it and did it till the end, we did however got bored of it hehe!)

Phil's mum Gill

Kathryn departed after a few miles
The miles were ticking off nicely and Adam was still going. I expecting him only to do a few miles as he never runs, but there he was still going. We made it to CP2 and 10 miles nailed. Next up was Hayle and we went via the old A30 slightly tougher route but not so busy with traffic. With the support vehicles warning other road users of us on the roads, we made our way through Connor Downs where I was then joined by local ultra runner who works in At Your Pace running shop in Helston, Loyd Purvis. I met Loyd during Arc of Attrition this year and became friends since. He came out to support me and get some time on feet prior to running UTMB in a couple of weeks.

Local legend Loyd from At Your Pace trail team
Not sure what he was expecting by the runners that were with me but he was soon being entertained by Wedge. We made our way through Hayle, to CP3 next to Philps Pasties. I didn't have one though sadly. I went through my usual routine now, and the crew are all over it having it ready. It all seems to be working very well now. Adam however was starting to feel it now with his IT band starting to give him pain.Convincing him to go on, because it was for our friend Phil he did and we left hayle making our way to St Erth. Where I met Pete Drummond who was on holiday. Pete anotehr ultra runner and MDS finisher in 2014 I met through Hope24. He along with friend Danny Slay organise the event, and I know if Danny wasn't in New Zealand on a well earned holiday he'd also be running with us.

Hope24 legend Pete
Finally we made it to CP4 which was 21 miles in and I finally said good bye to Adam. He was broken and in quite a lot of pain with his knee. The man who never runs, smashed out 21 miles for Phil supporting me. I was in awe! The others who started with me were still going and big Luke was still going however he was starting to feel it as well as Donna and her friend Sharon who are doing well and into a distance they have never ever been before.

Best mate Adam!
 Through into Penzance we finally came across signs for Land's End and I knew it won't be long. I ignored the Cornish miles signs as being raised in Cornwall I know how much they lie. We powered up the hills and the soon the ladies were feeling it too. We got to the next check point and it went from me being looked after to Luke, Donna and Sharon being treated for blisters, and sore joints. Making sure they took in snacks as well once they were sorted we made our way where two more of Donna's friends from the gym joined with 7 miles to go.

It suddenly was me encouraging those not used to the distance but it was great, seeing them push their limits made me continue to push mine. With support from Loyd and Pete the miles to the last CP flew by and we soon was in and out and on our way to the finish. As we got closer I was joined by other friends Stuart, Ben, Jackie and Luke Elliott (he had to finish with me). Then as we came through Sennen I was joined by 3 more runners who I never met before but have been following me via social media before eventually by my big Sis Rowann who has only just started running and my eldest nephew Jago.

We came toward the finishing straight and there is was Land's End! I picked up the pace a little more and with 200 yrds to go I was joined by my son and wife until the finish line! I did it I crossed the finish line!
Finally Day 7 ultra 7 done!

Relief!!

 248.2 miles from New Forest to Land's End and after 87 hours and 14 minutes (including all CP stops and injury treatment and day 3's 2 hours rest) I did it! 7 ultra marathons in 7 days via a route no one has done before and understandably so!

A feat I would not have completed if it wasn't for my support crew and all the support runners that came out from start to finish.

Day 7 support runners!
People asked how I felt when I finished, I felt relieved I had no more tarmac. It wasn't until 3 days later I woke finally realising what I had achieved and I felt legendary.

What a lot of people don't realise is how much work, the support crew did. Setting up the CP's ready for me, treating me, feeding me, getting fluids in me, answering my beckon calls. Then on top dealing with the social media sides of things, trying to keep people updated of timings, drumming up support, fundraising and then keeping my 4 year old occupied and happy. My boy considering still thinks it was a holiday and was good as gold. He had his moments but then if it was you in the same situation as my boy you'd have your moments too lol

One of the blisters at the end
My thanks goes out to once more

X-Bionic and Sunwise for the kit they provided me and the continued support.
All the support runners (so many to list)
Thornycoombe farm, Brendan Hooper, My parents for helping me out with accommodation and reducing costs.
All the support via social media.
Amanda from Muscle Mechanic (Sports Massage therapy)
Alison Campbell from West Cornwall Massage Therapy
Elisabet & Colin Barnes from MyRaceKit 
L &E Designs - Thank you medals for any runner that supported me.
Les my Medic
My Wife and Son who made all the rest possible!

Sorry if I forgot anyone, or missing pictures there was a lot.

BIG THANK YOU TO THE CREATOR OF CALLIPO ICE POPS YOU WERE MY SAVIOUR!

During this time I reached and smashed my target for the whole year Just Giving Page reaching to date so far £2,255. I still have 10 events left to go so please don't stop following my journey.

Remember "You only reach your limits when you've tried something you can't do"

Thank you! A lot of lessons learnt but a lot achieved!
Owain