Friday, 25 November 2016

Escape from Meriden 2016 - Could I escape?

Sometimes there comes along an event that sounds so simple you aren't sure how well it will go. Well "Escape from Meriden" was one of those type of events.


When I entered I had not long come off the injury bench and needed an event before the end of the year, after I had finished all my professional courses for work as I couldn't afford to get injured during them. It just so happens this one popped up on my news feed on Facebook. I had a brief look saw it wasn't expensive and sounded fun!

So the weeks went by and I was busy with my courses slowly realising the event was getting closer. Soon enough I had finished my courses and the week later the event was on.

For the first time ever when it came to a big event I was so unprepared. The route wasn't planned (which was very important for this event) and kit wasn't even sorted (not until the fee hours before leaving the house).

I think all my courses I had done had zapped any enthusiasm or motivation for anything. My wife went on to the Good Run Guide and planned my route out at her work, printed off snap shots for me to use if needs be. Already she is back in to Support Crew Mode Level - Veteran and we hadn't even left yet!

Eventually we had left and got on the road picking my son up from school along the way. We had to travel into two vehicles as I had to shoot off for another course starting the following Monday in Portsmouth so we didn't have much choice. The wife was dropping the boy off to the Grandparents which just so happened the route headed towards, and then she would drive down to the start leave her car there and drive the support van around.

My head wasn't quite in the game as that Thursday just gone my Aunty was pronounced brain dead after a major Epileptic Fit where my cousin had to carry out CPR for 25 mins after he found her. Friday they switched off the life support machine. So I was now running for 3 people, Phil my best mate who died in March, My Nan who passed away in August and now my Aunty. Let's just say I have had a better years and my head has been in better places.

I am a lucky man though because I can run and with this event I can run anywhere and any distance I wanted!

So the quick concept of this event for those who don't know. Basically you enter, turn up to the registration between 10pm and 11.55pm then the race starts just after Midnight. Once started you run, in direction as far as you can within 24 hours. The aim is get as far as you can as the crow flies (straight line) so it doesn't matter if you ran 90 miles on your watch if the crow flies only 45 that is your official mileage. There targets to aim for 30 crow miles - certificate (pathetic distance certificate as it's called for not planning route better etc) 50 Crow miles - Silver Crow, 60 crow miles - Gold Crow and the big one 90 crow miles for the Black Crow!

So as you probably realised a good well planned route where you lose little mileage is needed.

I arrived in Meriden known as the Centre of England around 7.30pm the traffic on the M5 was horrendous due to all the road works. I sorted my feet out and partially got ready. I grabbed some food from the local chippy and decided to try and get some sleep where I could before registration opened. I set my alarm for 10.30. The wife was on her way back and due around the same time.

Getting changed in the Van
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. I could hear the traffic around me for quite a while and thought well if nothing else I get to chill out prior to the run.

Knock Knock on the van side door "Owain" said my wife, I opened my eyes and thought awww my support crew has arrived, time to get sorted. "What time is it darling?" I asked. "11.30pm I got caught in traffic because they closed part of the M6 on the way here"

"F@&@, why didn't my alarm go off??" Looks at phone "ahhh I selected 10.30am!! Bollocks!!!"

Runner Mode Level - Idiot achieved! Made panic set in. I only have 20 mins to get to the registration and it's 10 min walk away from where I was parked at the start.

Shoes quickly on, left the wife at the support van and off I ran to the registration which was in the village church hall. I arrived mid safety briefing and tried not to look panicked at all.

Runner Mode Level - Act Cool achieved.

The safety brief finished I collected my number and tracker (vital bit of kit as that's how they know the distance we finish at)

Despite not looking ready at all compared to the everyone else, I pegged it back to the van, where my wife had my stuff ready for me. Anything else I will grab at the first CP she'll set up. Support Crew mode Level - Done this before.



The start sort of ready
I had a few friends entered and supporting in this event and I managed to see a couple just before we started. All asking where I had been. Doh!


Start
Not quite the start I was after. Soon enough the words "Go" was said by the RD Richard and we were off! 100 entrants either as soloists (80 of them) or in pairs scattered in various directions. Now this is where as a viewer of the live tracker came into its own. Obviously I was running so didn't see but seeing screen shots it looked brilliant!

20 Mins after we started the tracker looked like this
 I headed off in the direction my wife pointed me in and soon joined by a lady runner called Fiona. Our paths unknowingly crossed before at this years Hope24. We chatted for a few miles where she said her goal was to run for the 24 hours then continue on to Aberystwyth (135 miles) by Sunday night. Bloody bonkers, but then it's the crazy things like that, that I love in this community as people who don't run don't understand why we do it. Soon our paths changed and that was it then I was now alone. I say alone I still knew others were racing with me but weren't with me. It was a strange feeling!

My first destination was Birmingham. Yep during the early hours of the morning I was risking running through Brum. My support crew (yep no longer wife now as I was in full runner mode) was tired but worried about my safety running alone through Brum stayed awake every so often stopping where she could checking I was ok and keeping me on track.

I was making my way through Brum passing fresh puddles of blood on the floor, which obviously made me feel great when I got stopped by two drunk blokes. In my head I thought "uh oh I'm not going to blend in dressed like I am" They asked what I was doing, so I engaged in conversation. Told them what I was doing, next thing I was accepting sips of their whisky and doing some random handshakes like I was in the Stone Masons. Yes it was wasting some of my time but to be honest at this point it didn't really matter as long as I didn't get a certificate I was going to be happy. I left them and made my way through the Bull Ring dodging all the night goers. The directions I had from my support crew was head to the Odeon Cinema then the museum. Well I was on my way to the Museum and with little signage I ended up running past it.

After not having a clue where I was I got on the phone to the support crew. Trying to describe where I was, wasn't working so now I had resorted to facetiming my support crew at the "You are here" tourist sign.



Yes I was here
Then out of the darkness came a young woman in tears in her best trapping gear. "Please help me, I need to get to the Hyatt" she said
" I am sorry I am not from round here of you can guess, I am lost myself" I replied. This produced more tears bear in mind I am still facetiming the support crew at this point "I'll call you back darling" and I hang up.

"Please you have to help me" she cried.

I get out google maps search where she was after. Jesus is was miles away. Not knowing the best way to go I just said "Just head down that way keep going until you get there and stay safe" and I sent her on her way. I did laugh to myself though hoping she'd be alright.

So back to myself in that time my support crew was all over getting myself out of the mess I was in and guided me out of Brum to the CP set up waiting. According to my wife "Never in my life would I have thought I'd be on the side of the road with a camping stove on boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea for you at about 3 in the morning waiting for you to run here" I have to admit neither did I!

It was feeling very cold but it was remaining dry. My support crew was was tired but now at Support Crew Mode level - Trojan.

I was feeling ok, apart from cold I was going well and despite losing time in Brum, I was making good time. I had made it out of Birmingham in piece and safe. I was then told there was a runner only 1 mile behind following my route called Sammy. Little did I know at the time it was Sammy Daye from Atlas Running famed with events like Last Man Standing at this time.

2hrs in I'm number 193
I thought to myself "Yes I am not going to be alone, they're bound to catch up" Sadly our paths didn't cross as Sammy took a slightly northern route where I continued to cross Westerly. I continued on my way, following the route given however I then reached a point when I ran out of path along a road, so took a public footpath which seemed to follow the road. Not a great idea as it took me on the canal path and eventually off the route I was heading when I get a phone call from the support crew. "where the bloody hell are you going?"

"I don't know do I? Lol" so have getting a stern telling off for going off piste I was soon put back on track.

After 25 miles I was sat in the van trying to warm up, I added more layers on as the temperature just didn't seem to want to rise. I was looking forward to the sunrise because I knew once it was up it was going to be better running. Soon enough around 7.30am the sun rose and when asked what I needed at the next CP I responded a Maccy D's Breakfast Wrap and hot chocolate. I kept passing Macdonald's along the way and thinking I could do with some of that shit. What a great choice it was! I needed something warm to eat and drink. It tasted so good! I was now running through Staffordshire countryside enjoying the scenery.


Breakfast on the run!
Running on the frozen roads and paths wasn't easy I had to be careful. I had already slipped on black ice and smashed my knee.

8hrs 20 mins in!
The miles were ticking off, I was making good time and around 12 hours in I stopped for a 45 minute lunch break. The support crew had warmed up one of my acquired ration packs from work. It went down well. It was from this point the temperature had started to drop again as the sun went behind the clouds.

Good ole Rat Pack food!
My support crew during this time had informed me my friend Luke Elliott (a fantastic runner) still hadn't reach the 30 crow mile line yet. I had been passed it for a while so thought "Holy Crap this has never happened before me in front of Luke" Despite he had covered slightly more miles at the time. It was showing what a great route decision my support crew had made for me.

I soon hit Shropshire and heading towards my first chosen goal Shrewsbury where my boy was staying. I ran through the beautiful Ironbridge again where I was started to chat to locals asking what I was doing but time was ticking on and I had to crack on.

Shropshire!
The skies had turned dark and head torch was back on. Shrewsbury was in sight 5 miles to go. I plodded on and I arrived at the CP. I was by now in pain, my back was in bits from an injury that hadn't healed properly from a course I did a couple weeks prior and my feet were aching. It was here I was told I had half a marathon to go to reach the Gold Crow 60 Mile as the crow flies target. I had already covered 59 miles. I had the time even if I crawled it I could still achieve it. My brother in law who lives in Shrewsbury came out to pace me to the last half marathon. My support crew pointed me over the roundabout telling to aim for the green lights I could see at the time and head down the by pass.

Not the quickest but happy with progress!
So off we went and I head down where I saw green lights. I didn't realise as I chatted away to my brother in law that it didn't look like a by pass. My phone rang, I thought "that'll be the wife telling me I have gone wrong again"

"Did you purposely mean to take the wrong road?" She asked

"No why would I want to do that?"

Oh bollocks! So I added about another mile on to my journey and the fact I now had to go through Shrewsbury town centre late at night with traffic. Not the greatest ideas I have ever had.

I got to the point met by the support van with 11 miles to go. Little did I know those 11 miles would turn into what was the longest 11 miles of my life.

Runner mode level - Dribbling heap

Each mile seem to last longer and longer the more pain and uncomfortable I felt. My conversation went downhill and I start to lose the will to live. It was this point with around 6 miles to go I had to dig deep, I looked up to sky and asked my best mate Phil for some strength. It was his turn to be there for me. It seemed to work I with the help from my bro in law dragged my sorry arse across the 60 as the crow flies mile line. As soon as the support crew refreshed the tracker and it showed I had done it. I sent the text and switched the tracker off. 22 hours 41 mins 73 miles later I did it.

Just outside Oswestry I completed what turned out to be a brilliant but simple event. I had such an experience. I finished 26th soloist and 34th overall out of all the entrants. Runner Mode level - Gladiator

The finish tracker pic after 24 hours, that's how we ended up!
A result I wasn't expecting. I have to thank my sponsors X-Bionic UK, Sunwise and Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continuing support and faith in me.

I was overwhelmed but the support online, I think they probably had the best online tracking experience to date, my bro in law for coming out and getting me through the last section and of course the biggest thanks was for my support crew my wife - Support Crew Mode Level - Legendary whom without I'd not have achieved any of it.

Back at the start to retrieve the Wife's car.
I dedicate this run to my best mate Phil, my Nan and also my Aunty who never left my thoughts throughout.

So that completes my last big event of the year. It's now time to start helping my wife run her first ever marathon at London (she doesn't currently run hardly) whilst also start looking at the big 2017 year.

Until next time


Owain

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Classic Quarter 44 2016 - Beauty and the Beast's love child!

Trying to think of an appropriate title to describe the event and the blog proved to be harder than I first thought. Many variations went through my tiny mind until I decided to stick with the one I have now. I think it pretty much sums it up because if Beauty did make a child with the Beast I think this is what it would be like but obviously in a running route way.

Since Hope24 just about a month, I took all the positives from that event and used towards my plan on how I was going to run the Classic Quarter. Knowing I was able to cover the distance and in the time frame was no problem, it was just the added pressure of cut off's that always bugs me. As I lose a lot of time on the climbs, I knew I had to make sure I made up the time elsewhere. I'm still trying to improve my pace on the climbs but until then, I had to do made best elsewhere and with the help of my wife crewing me I knew she was going to make a big difference.

Race number all picked up with free Clif bar and shots

In the lead up to the event, I got more nervous about the cut off's especially with the fantastic hot weather we were experience knowing that the heat could be a major factor. However the forecast kept changing saying it was going to be nice, then raining, then overcast etc. It didn't know what it was going to do. I planned the points the wife was going to meet me along the route and we spoke about my plan of attack. The only thing left to do was run.

Friday evening we arrive down the Lizard straight after work to pick up the race number. It was nice to catch up briefly with a few friendly faces, Mark Evans a centurion grand slam buckle owner, Duane Roberts of Team Buff UK, good friend Stuart Queen (who was apart of the race crew)a few local faces of Sharon Smith, Gary Richards (winner of this years Hope24) amongst others. With the fog closed in on the Lizard and the sound of the lighthouse fog horn going off, the weather conditions for me were looking perfect. I just was hoping it would last.

Staying at my parents place in Redruth meant we had an early start, luckily leaving my son with my Mum for the day meant my wife only had me to concentrate on.



Pre start gathering
We arrived back down at Lizard Point, and the atmosphere of the start was building as we made our way down to the start line ready for the race brief. There was a buzz of a drone roving round filming, I saw more faces I knew the likes of David Andrewartha, Sharon Sullivan, Paul Reeve and Phil Bolt. All of us wishing each other good luck for the race.  Eventually with the race briefing done about 0636 we mass started, the soloists first followed an hour later by the relay runners.

Nerves were in full swing at the start
The start was packed as you could imagine with 265 runners making their way down the narrow coastal path, making it difficult to make any good progress until after the first couple of miles. With the first cut off at the 9 mile point CP1 it was important to get a good head start. To assist my wife I set up the Race Drone app tracker so she could hopefully keep an eye on my progress and have some idea where I was. However knowing this was the Cornish Coastal path I knew it wasn't going to be as good as proper tracker due to the lack of phone GPS signal.

The weather at this point was cool and over cast, and I made good progress, and I was feeling good on the climbs that I already come across so far. The wife appeared before CP1 and we swapped my bottles. To save time having to fill my water up at the aid stations my wife had spare bottles and it was a case of one for one. Also having a bladder in my pack full of Tailwind Nutrition, I knew that was going to last me the whole race. I arrived at CP1 with over an hour spare of the first cut off of 3 hrs. This was great as it meant I had 4 hours then at the maximum to get to the half way point CP2 at 22 miles.



Beautiful Cornish Coast
Around the 10 mile point is where it all started to unravel for me.  The sun came out, the clouds disappeared and the heat turned up to around 20 degrees. With no shade, my pace fell away I couldn't sip on my fluid quick enough. My body was cool enough thanks to the great X-Bionic kit I had but I couldn't keep my head cool enough. I went through Porthleven as quick as I could saying hello to a good friend Loyd Purvis (winner of this years Enduroman 50) and continued on. It didn't matter what I was trying I was suffering badly from heat exhaustion rapidly. I still moved forwards but each mile was getting harder and with the climbs added in, I was slowly losing time. I got to 19 miles at Praa Sands and again got supplied by my wife, who already had been assisting other runners who were struggling at that point. I informed her it was not going well for me, and I said against our plan I wanted to see her at the halfway point of 22 miles. I stopped at the kit check stop managed to go through the mandatory kit check and went on. Not with out having a selfie being taken with a new friend Andrew Phillips. He was running in the relay but doing the second half so was out supporting.

Official race pic
As I wobbled in to the half way in a daze, I dibbed in after 3hrs and 20 odd mins since CP1. The marshal asked if I had a drop bag to which I managed to get out "No, I have a wife" I was told to move on to which I then went an almost collapse in a heap. Luckily my wife came and found me and dealt with me as no event staff checked up on my well being at this point. I was ready to retire from the race, however the wife picked me up dusted me off and kicked me out of the half way. I got to 24 miles where the I had planned originally to meet the wife, so I could change my shoes to road ones as I was starting a stint from Marazion to Mousehole which the majority was tarmac. As planned the wife was there, she quickly whipped of my trail shoes and socks and shoved fresh socks and my road shoes on. She also handed me a Callipo ice lolly and kicked me on my way again. The clouds came over and soon enough it was like I had a second wind, with the Callipo in my hand I started knocking off the miles and I felt good. 29 miles soon came and I had a quick bottle change before heading into Mousehole. I made up a lot of time and clawed back the time I lost at CP2 and prior to that.


Official race pic (Marazion)
With the plan to revert back to trail shoes at Mousehole, I decided against it. I knocked back a quick cup of flat coke from the wife and cracked on. I got to Lamorna CP3 in just under 3 hrs again from CP2 under the cut off time of 9 hrs by 43 minutes. I knew those 43 minutes were going to be needed as the next 6 miles was going to be the toughest section of the race. I wasn't wrong and to add to it the sun and heat had come out to play once more. Again it knocked me for six, making for me what was already a hard section even harder. My mind was starting to weaken and knowing I had to get the Minack Theatre (Porthcurno) with in the cut off time. Although not a CP but a water station you still had 3 hrs from CP3 to make it in. After climbing the steps eventually crawling into the water station I had made the cut off and was met by the wife and friend Laura Millward, who gave me a hug and told me to get on with it. I quickly changed by bottles which now was ice cold and was given my 4th or 5th Callipo by now. I moved on foot in front of another, running when I could and walking the hills. I finally had some company for the last stretch of 5 miles with a guy called Fred who was running his first Ultra. We chatted as we went along, and the final miles fell away. It had cooled down now as well as it became over cast once more. Soon enough we saw the last mile sign and the sense of relief had left me as we made our way to the finish at Land's End knowing we'd be finishing within the final cut off time.


Stunning Porthcurno Beach.
I ran in to cheers from my parents, my son who ran the last bit with me, one of my best friends Craig who waited around for me to finish after all his club members had long finished and gone home as well as all the other supporters at the finish. I completed the last 11 miles including the 6 really tough miles from Lamorna to Minack in 3 and half hours. This meant I finished the whole event 2 hours under the finish cut off in 11 hours 57 minutes 5 seconds.


My splits
If it wasn't for the heat I was looking good for around 10 and half hours but I'm not disappointed, apart from the heat which was out of my control my plan worked well and obviously having a great crewie that is my wife who knows me so well by now, she was all over it like a well oiled machine.

As an Endurancelife event goes, it was what is was. I was fully aware of what I was getting for my money prior to entering. I entered for the route and course really nothing more than that. It's a good training event for next years epic adventure. What did surprise me and made my event was the support along the way, it was fantastic! Not only did I run along such a stunning route, which looked like I could be in the Med when the sun was out, the support was brilliant. At one point there was a little cottage in a cove where the old couple was bringing out glasses of cold water for the runners. I couldn't tell you how limited the CP's or Water stations really were as I never used them, but at a glance they lived up to what they said in the race brief and race information.

It was a little lumpy
The kit I used was X-Bionic " The Trick" Top and Shorts, X-Socks marathon socks, Ultimate Direction AK 3.0 Mountain pack, Sunwise "Odyssey" and "Canary Wharf" Sunglasses (I didn't have time to change the lenses from yellow to dark on the Odyssey so it was easier to change glasses), Tailwind Nutrition (Tropical Flavour), Hoka Challenger 2 Shoes (trail) and Saucony Kinvara 7 shoes (Road). I don't regret any choice of kit and all worked well to help me achieve my goal.

Well earned recovery drink!
So where does this leave me? Well there is still a lot I need to improve on especially getting quicker on the climbs and my over pace, however this is one of my better performances and I hope to improve on it. I came away with only a couple of tiny blisters which compared to Hope24's performance it's a world apart.

Andrew Phillips wanted a pic whilst I was at the kit check point
I need to thank my sponsors X-Bionic UK/X-Socks UK and Sunwise for the fantastic kit they provide me. I know for a fact I'm able to achieve what I do with the kit they provide.

Now to continue with training and focusing on the areas I need to improve on. Until next time!

Owain

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Hope24 2016 - "A very special type of 24 hour endurance event."

For me this always has a special place in my running heart, it's sometimes difficult to explain why a 24 hour event would be that special especially when there are other great versions out there. However Hope24 is a little bit more than another 24 hour running event. Is it because it's not organised by a business or company? Is it because it's organised by one man who manages to seduce the running community in to help him create the event? There are many factors that could be considered but by being a small part of it, I understand why this small non profit charity event won 3 National Running Awards this year. Yes 3, it became the Best Trail Event (under 1000), Best New Event and was 3rd Best Charity event. 3rd, is fantastic when the winner was Race for Life an event that is national and has 100,000's of runners all over attend one of their events and Hope24 last year only had 450 ish in total. That alone shows you already why this has become a special event in the running calendar.

3 x National Running Awards

This year was no different when it came down to the effort put into setting up. The days before I along with a couple other local runners went down and helped Danny Slay set up the course and the arena, marking out a slightly modified route which is each is slightly different to the previous years to keep it fresh and keep those coming back wanting more. After walking setting up plenty of it, and later running it during the event I can tell you honestly, it was a stunningly tough course which was slightly tougher than the previous years.

Just setting it all up, the buzz we were having about the event was already showing between the 4 of us. By Friday morning, we had pretty much set up everything which previously we'd still be marking things out.

It all started to come together

After a few beers in the Friday evening catching up with friends and listening to the band laid on for entertainment I decided this year to sleep at home to try and get a good night sleep prior, however with my 5 year old son, this was but only a nice thought and I didn't get a sleep I wanted. I arrived early Saturday morning at the arena and wow! The place was heaving with runners and supporters. I knew we had more numbers this year but the atmosphere was electric. Bimbling around chatting to people and seeing others there were many nervous and excited people about. By now Colin and Elisabet Barnes (myRaceKit) who have been very supportive to me had arrived with their pop up shop. They love the event are big supporters of it. It was great to catch up with them and have a good natter, as I knew I'd not get a chance later on. These are two of the finest athletes and human beings I know and I know a lot of people take my word.

Myself with two of my favourite runners and friends Elisabet and Colin Barnes (MyRaceKit)
This year was also a first for Hope24 as they were hosting two children races a 2.4km run and a2.4 mile run depending on the age of the children. My son who's started to get the running bug big time and has already run a few parkruns now, weeks before decided he would actually like to run the race. So the 2.4km was his first official race. Despite only recovering well enough to go to school the day before from days of fever he still ran. Despite coming last it didn't matter, the atmosphere for him was electric. If you have ever seen an Iron Man event where the winner is high fiving everyone on both sides of the finishing straight, this was my boy. He was milking it big style and it made me a very proud dad I can tell you! I was even given the medal to present to him, trying not to well up was difficult but I managed it.


My son and wife before his race start. I was very proud.

Soon after all the runners from soloists to team relayers were gathered on the bank behind the race village for a group photo. It's mad that from the 1st year of just over 100 runners in a small group photo to around 600 runners which 200 were soloists were now gathering to do the same thing.

A quick thank you and race briefing was given by Danny and his partner in crime Pete Drummond (who like Danny is another ultra runner) as they prepare everyone for the start. Soon enough the runners took their place on the starting line, this that line was missing the two previous winners Richard Keefe (2014) and Matt Biscoe (2015 and course record holder 135 miles). They were however there in support of the event and the runners, like true gents.

I'm not going to go into too much of my own run as I don't feel the need to, I will briefly mention up until 15.5 hours and 10 laps (50 Miles) I was feeling fantastic but I had shredded the bottom of my feet (something I need to find out why) and I couldn't continue on, but I wasn't gutted just annoyed at my feet as I felt good for another 20/25 miles and I was mentally on my A game. I live to run another day.


Just before the start
The race started with the horn and clock started to tick down! As mentioned previously the course was definitely tougher, in the same distance covered in the 24 hours last year there was another 1000ft of climb in total I covered on 2015. The start took us around the arena where it was a slight decline until you reached the first bridge to cross. Low and behold one of the greatest marshals I have ever met and now I can say a good friend Captain Pink Beard himself Kevin Guild stood proudly. Every year he has stood there for the whole day, night and day supporting every runner who passes him by, offering support and even charging up phones so I hear this year. One thing this event does well and that is marshal! This year even more people came forward to help out which shows what sort of community event it has become.


Captain Pink Beard himself pic taken by himself
Turning right from Kevin took you straight up the first hill, which after a few laps felt it went on further than 1.5 miles. It wasn't steep but it wasn't a slightly incline! Once you reached Thomas (or Gordon the debate is still out on this one) the Tank you have a slight decline so a bit of a respite as you made your way to the next marshal point.

With the well known course landmark is it Thomas or Gordon?
Upon reaching these forever cheerful and motivating marshals which were rotated about throughout the 24 hours, you turned up another climb to the bluebell woods, this is a stunning section of the course. Eventually what went up must come down and we soon ran down a steep  technical decline. The route from the bottom then takes you along side the river towards the shooting ground, this year we didn't go through the shooting ground, but we went up the next steep climb which is around 2.5 miles in to the course, until you reach the marshals at the top again. Once you've caught your breath a nice downhill section before one more little climb. Just before you got to 3 miles you started the long downhill back towards the arena and this was a mixture of track and grass with the grass bits at a slight camber. Once over the bridge at the bottom you go back through the arena however as each lap you do you notice it is a very slight incline and you start to feel it each lap heading into the next section of woods, where you then greeted by another group of marshals who spent the entire 24hrs camped there, cheering everyone on, watering them, feeding them etc. I say group because they're made up of my wife, son and my in laws.

All the runners felt this every lap!

Their CP soon became known as "Disco Corner" and one of the runners favourite parts of the course, sometimes only second to the finish. My wife even came for a run with me around the next section which took you over a bridge up and zig zag incline and then down and around back to the CP. Little do people know how much my family put into this marshal point, with just a event shelter and wobble light provided, all the food, water, additional lighting, music, generator which ran the music and the wobble light (and fuel) as well as morale and support for the 24 hours. (Next year my wife has decided she wants to run the event for the first time so all this won't be provided by my family next year).

 From there you hankered left up up another small climb into another section of the woods which is new this year following a trail will took you above the arena, you could see all the lights and partying going on down below. Eventually you came down a grass bank and into the arena on to the finishing straight.


Disco Corner - created by my family
The whole atmosphere in the arena was out of this world, the supporters camping, around wood fires, drinking their wines cheering everyone on, the other runners supporting everyone in and around the course, is still something I have yet tried to find close to at other events.

Now let's look at other aspects of this event, the cost was £45 across the board for every runner, which makes it one of the cheapest endurance events out there and most definitely the cheapest 24 hour event in the UK currently. You get a nice tech t-shirt, a fantastic medal, some little bits of goodies and we had a bottle of beer at the end. Additionally you could buy a Hoodie and also a limited edition Hope24 Buff original (those who know me know I love my Buff's). Also in the entry you got to run a very beautiful tough well marked, well marshalled course with some amazing people!



Pete kept everyone going as MC all 24 hours with his music and commentary. The weather was hot during the day and Baltic during the night (cars were frozen solid and frost on the ground) and then red hot again once the sun was up. People were putting some of the best if not thee best performances of their lives in. Friends of mine were running further than they have ever run before and I truly think it was down to the event for helping them do so.

My boy and I with our medals
So far the event has raised over £12,000 for the charity Hope for Children which the charity themselves even had a team of 4 running. It's an event I have been looking forward too all year, and I am already waiting for the registration to open for next year as is many others. With a limit of 750 runners I would be very surprised if it doesn't reach it this year and it won't be long before some sort of waiting list or ballot would be needed as it's popularity rises. With this event and Mudcrew's Events down here in the South West we are starting to have some great races in this part of the world, which means those who do live locally finally do not have to travel to get to a great event. The fact people are willing to travel from the most northerly part of the UK as well as abroad shows that down here we put on some great events and long may it continue!

Sunday morning at Disco Corner with my in laws pic by agimages 
So why not head over to the website and when registration opens, you enter one of the best events in the UK Hope24 Website

For me this event was about training, and until my feet issues everything went well, the kit I used from my sponsors X-Bionic UK and Sunwise worked for me very well in the day and night. I can't thank my sponsors enough, they continue to support my efforts and the kit they provide is the best. So despite me only running for 15.5 hours I still very pleased how things are going, and now starting to focus on my next race which is the Classic Quarter 44 in June.



Thanks for reading

Owain

Friday, 1 April 2016

How the bad news inspired me!

As most of the regular readers would've known in 2014 I was given the news that one of my best friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Although it was him who was diagnosed to me and his other friends from Cornwall it was like we were all diagnosed.

It hit us all in different ways but we all knew there was little we could do to change it. He was like our brother to us, we'd been in fights together (not starting them but defending each other), drunk together, fallen out, there for each other when times were tough. We looked after each other no matter what.

The news inspired me to do things I never thought I was capable of. Yes I knew I could run ultra marathons but I never knew I could push my body so far. I just wanted to make my body broken, in a state I was tired and in pain as often as I could so I could feel that little bit like what he was feeling every day. It was my way of showing him he wasn't alone with his fight, except we knew that it was me that was going to survive at the end of it all. Whilst doing all this I wanted to raise more awareness of his type of cancer and some money so maybe one day it may help someone else.

His fight inspired me to go beyond what I thought was my limits! I've yet to reach my limits and despite on Monday 21st March 2016 receiving the news my friend Phil has finally become pain free and is now looking down on us, I am continuing doing what I do best and that is running. With plans in full swing for next years epic #YOLO7dayUltra 2017 it's going to be another amazing adventure.

Along the way I'm again running ultra's using them as training for the big adventure and I've not set myself another challenge along the way. 6th November is Phil's birthday, he would've been 35 years old this year. On his birthday I will be starting a 35 day running streak. Day 1 is 1 mile, Day 2 is 2 miles and so on. On the 35th day I will be running 35 days for his 35th birthday. It's going to be tough, challenging but I will suceed!

So to my friend, my brother Phil thank you for inspiring me to push my self and achieve so much which in turned so I have been told has inspired a lot of others to do the same since. Until we meet again

Phil Corbett 26th Nov 1981 - 21st Mar 2016

Thank you

Owain

Thursday, 17 March 2016

A Well Travelled Runner!

I thought I'd write down a few bits about my experiences in my short but eventful running career so far, to give the wider audience. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading this!

As I work away a lot, I am very lucky to run in some amazing places and some not so amazing places. I do as soon as I can go out and get a run in, prior to doing anything else. It helps really with finding out where various things like the bars, restaurants etc are and getting lost just adds to the fun. I've run in very cold places to very hot places, each place has good running memories even the place it's self isn't in my opinion very good.

I'll start with one of favourite places to run, in 2012 I was working away in the Baltic, I got run in various places like Denmark, Germany, Norway and Poland. It was that cold in some places, the sea had frozen and we had to break the ice as we came into harbour. Eventually our trip took us out of the Baltic and up north to the Arctic Circle. We were conducting exercises for a couple of with with other countries. Prior to the start we anchored off Harstad, Norway. This gave a chance to those who wished to go a shore for a couple of hours if allowed by their department. There isn't a lot to do in Harstad to be honest, as I was one of the lucky few, I wasn't going to waste the opportunity. Myself and one of oppo's decided we would go for a couple of hours running, whilst the rest went to try and find a bar that was open. We landed a shore and the place was stunning, the little town was covered in thick snow. Off we went and we decided to go run up a mountain. Obviously we weren't going to the summit but we were going to make the most it.



Harstad, Norway



Fjord, Norway

Considering how cold it was temperature wise, you wouldn't have thought so. I had my leggings on, base layer, my VLM running jacket, hat and gloves. I went with my most grippiest (is that even a word?) shoes I had at the time on board which were at the time my Adidas Kanadia's. It was great running in the snow, chatting away as we ran upwards taking in the scenery. Eventually we had to turn round and make our way back down stopping by a souvenir shop prior to jumping back on the boat back to the ship. It still remains one of favourite places I have ever run to date and one I would love to repeat.

So that was one of favourite runs now for one of my ermm embarrassing moments whilst running. On one of my visits to the Arabian Gulf regions, we stopped in Bahrain for the a few days.Due to the time finishing work, I hadn't gone for a run yet and also being where we were where there were areas of black flags flying it wasn't safe really to run by myself. I had spoken to another oppo about going for a run early doors to try and beat the heat as much as possible. So that was the plan, were going for a 3-4 mile run because in that heat even at 6am it was going to be a killer and I knew I wouldn't probably be able to muster any more.

That night I went out with the lads for a few drinks, luckily Bahrain they allow alcohol in establishments unlike other Middle Eastern countries. One drink led to another and soon enough I was rolling back to my bed around 2am. We had a curfew because of where we were and what had been going on in the region recently so couldn't be out later than that anyways. I climbed just about into my rack and got my head down. about 5.45 I woke to my alarm, dragged myself out and chucked some running kit on. I met my oppo and off we went into the 34-38 degrees heat at 6am. I was seriously hanging badly from drinking the night before, but I wasn't going to let it stop me. The heat kept our pace down to around 9.30 min/miles, I was glad I had some water with me for sure.



Bahrain mid run photo with Ed
We ran along through the area, and soon enough came to turn around time. However not long after turning round I started to get that terrible feeling, the one where you know it's not going to be a good ending. I starting to clench my arse cheeks as I ran, but soon enough with still a mile and half to go I couldn't hold it any longer and soon it fell out. Yep my arse gave way and I filled my compression shorts I was wearing under my running shorts. Luckily they were compression shorts as it kept it in. But because I was aware that I just shat myself I ran slightly behind my oppo as we ran back hoping he couldn't smell anything. As we approached where our ship was, I said I was going to warm down with a walk and let him go ahead. We were berthed in a dockyard where we had to go through a US base, so I had to pass through strict US security with a pair of shorts full of shit. It wasn't a quick process either, well not as quick as I'd like.

He ran off as I walked through the base to where our ship was. However he was waiting for me prior to going back on the ship! Again I walked slightly behind up the gangway, saying good bye to my oppo I quickly scooted to my cabin where the other guys were still asleep, grabbed my towel and wash gear as well as laundry washing liquid and scootled off to the showers to clean up.

Not one of my finest moments but still a run to remember and there isn't such a thing as a bad run! Thank god for compression shorts that's all I can say.

Being an F1 fan, having the opportunity to run around an F1 track is not one I would turn down, I've run two now. One being Silverstone during the half marathon that's held there and the other was in Abu Dhabi. Every Tuesday they open the track up to runners and cyclists for free. So it's like parkrun but on Tuesday in the evenings and around a F1 track. It was absolutely amazing, I ran two laps, so 11K in total. It was very warm and sticky at night. I thoroughly enjoyed everything about it, the atmosphere and experience was brilliant.If you're ever out there get on that track and go for a run, or cycle the bike are free to hire. The restaurant is fab and they have changing rooms and showers.

Abu Dhabi, UAE F1 GP Track


Other countries I have run in, in addition to one already mentioned are UAE, Jordan, Oman, France , Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Holland, Qatar, Malta, Libya, Pakistan, India, Greece among others. Libya and Pakistan were conducted on a treadmill on board though because at the time it was too unsafe to be allowed ashore due to security issues going on. Yes there were rounds being fired not far from us. I've also ran around the ship on the upper deck in the middle of various oceans and seas, as well as on the treadmill during some rough weather which always makes some interesting training sessions especially when it's set to 0% incline and you're running up and down hills as the ship rolls.

I've sailed all the way around world (literally) prior to my running career and there are some countries I have visited I'd like to run in, especially ones out in the Far East.



Muscat, Oman another favourite places to run

Aqaba, Jordan

In Spain with Emma after running from Gibraltar

Normandy, France

Valletta, Malta


Goa, India

Training in the Mountains of Kos, Greece


Halfway point in the Paris Marathon

Middle of the Indian Ocean

Early morning run in Corfu, Greece


Lisbon, Portugal
So there, you go just a little bit into my travels, I may do some more stories another time. As for now I'm currently in training for this season and the next big adventure next year. My next event is Hope24 in May.

Until next time!