The Reggae Marathon (paradise found)

“Brexit! Yeah Mon, Brexit. HA HA ”

We had a lot of shouts from spectators and fellow runners. Wearing Union Flag vests, it seems, attracts a lot of cheers and banter….

“God bless the Queen” “Ingerland” “Go Great Britain” “Do you guys speak English?” even “Go Canada”!

But “Brexit”!!! It appears our country’s decisions are the subject of much mirth even this far from home.

Anyway.

Here I am feeling like my heart has won the lottery, lying on the beach in paradise with the most beautiful astonishing lady in the whole wide world.

I’ve said it before, but every single day I feel truly blessed.

The Reggae Marathon. The pressure of representing Team GB lessened as we realised the number of British competitors milling around at the start was swelling.

Team GB discuss tactics

Gravitating towards each other, we exchanged greetings and soaked up the bubbling atmosphere. The sweet smell of weed drifting across the runners with the deep reggae bass.

With the 10k, Half Marathon & Marathon there were 2000 runners ready at 5am for the best running party.

All three races go off at 5.15, the torch lit road guiding the runners into Negril town where the bemused but encouraging locals lined the streets despite the early hour.

Apologies here….. We bumped into so many lovely people and even had shout outs for the blog at the pasta party. This was not just the UK runners either. The Dutch and French contingent it turned out are blog readers!

Some of Team GB

We cheered and high fived runners from Poland, Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, The USA, Canada and, of course, the beautiful island of Jamaica.

So, “hi” to (and this is a far from exhaustive list) Darragh, Rachel, Sue, Gary, Elise, Cédric, Adele, Samira, Pieter, Don, Tracey and the boys from the resort shouting “GO BOSS” from the window of their bus to work.

HOT!!

Grandson Ollie could have commentated here – one of his first words was “HOT” as he was warned clear of mugs of tea etc.

After turning in Negril and heading back past the start & finish area, the route headed out past our hotel. Which we did four times!

Our goals were simple: have fun and try to finish. The build up to this holiday has been rather demanding and family illnesses and caring issues, for a while, looked like jeopardising the trip.

So lining up at the start line felt like an achievement and a massive relief. Not as much of a relief as the timely positioning of a (already well used!) portaloo at about 5 miles…….

After the 1300 or so 10k runners had peeled off to turn for home, that left us running with the Half Marathoners heading back towards home.

You don’t like reggae?? Probably not the marathon for you, these guys were everywhere

The Half was won in 1h15 and a lovely chap staying at our hotel, Steve, came 5th in 1h25. Of course they were too quick to enjoy what we were going to be treated to……….. It was going to get really HOT!!!

We got to the half way point, where the field was packed with partying finishers from the shorter races, in just under 2h 30m. With the temperature rapidly rising and the sun getting higher in the sky……..

HOT!!!

As the 2nd half started the frequency of seeing other runners diminished but that only made those of us still out there even more determined to high five and cajole each other, shouting determinedly our encouragement.

HOT!! the roads were lonely and exposed making the last hour quite brutal. Nicky was starting to wilt as I tried to help by running with my shadow cast over her.

We repeatedly crossed the road in search of shade and were more than ‘quite’ relieved to see the mile 26 sign and run in our traditional hand holding style!

I truly AM blessed.

“Made it!!!”

2 years ago when we were here the finish area was pretty much packed up by the time we arrived. It was no different this year, the stage and p.a. had already been dismantled as had the bar etc. Luckily we had preempted this and frozen a couple of bottles of coke and put them in our drop bag.

Nectar!

This event gets listed by many in those ‘must do’ lists. It’s easy to see why….

Like Seaton on Grizzly day, the whole town chips in. The main road is closed all morning (apart from a free shuttle bus service which crawls up and down all day). The early morning, torch lit start is quite magical. The sounds, sights and colours (especially in the first half) are quite magnificent and the atmosphere amongst the runners is special and really heart warming.

The route is repetitive and tedious, especially noticeable as it gets hotter. BUT we just focussed on the amazing place we’re in and had (and are having) an absolute BALL!

Will we be back?

To Jamaica? Undoubtedly

To Negril? Almost certainly

To do the marathon???…….

Maybe the 10k………

I WILL write a book…

Sounds more authoritative than ‘I would like to…’ or ‘I want to…’

Ok, so it’s taken me a few weeks to get around to writing a new blog post. Citing work commitments, fatigue, time, time, time and all that STUFF that fills our lives. But, if something is truly a goal, then just make it happen.

Actually, since the last blog there’s been a few events…..

THE EAST FARM FROLIC I know, I know, this was going to be my ‘target’ event for the year…… in the end a fabulous day out at a wonderful event. Fine fun in fine company….

The next day we went and did the LUSTLEIGH SHOW 10k another lovely day. Both of Nicky’s lovely girls came along, Alisa running her second 10k and Lou looking after the youngest two grandchildren whilst Nanny and Grandad ran too……

Oh, and I marshalled at City To Sea, a marathon and ultra marathon, in appalling conditions.

Then came the weekend just gone. Nicky, once again moving the bar, taking 20 minutes off her time for the River Dart 10k Swim. She finished alongside our great mate, Martin. Whilst they would earn a gold hat if they were to come back for a third year, it looks like chief goader (Nicky) has (once again) hooked chief goadee (Martin) and next years goals look slightly different……. But first, some pictures from the swim……

Soooo, whilst I’m threatening to go long (er) next year (and write a book of course), Nicky and Martin have quite publically announced their intentions to ………… drum roll……. do a Half Iron Man!!! There, it’s out there………

Martin has been walking like John Wayne this week, and he’s only sat on the bikes in Halfords so far…..

Then, on Sunday just gone, I ran the inaugural Torbay Tornado Half Marathon, Alisa running her first ever ‘solo’ race, did the 5k. A quirky series of races organised by relative newcomers, Riviera Racers. We both had great fun battling the tough point to point routes and more than earned our medals…

 

 

Torbay Tornado
Proud Step Dad alert….

 

 

So, as for my targets…. well I (under the prompting of my wonder woman!) have entered the Gower 50 which is only 3 weeks away!

With this in mind, I ran to the start of the half marathon and then ran home afterwards (making 27 miles in total).

I’m planning a big run on Saturday to confirm to me that I’m fit enough for the challenge, then my wonderful lady wife and I are off for a weeks r’n’r in the sunshine….

Where……

I shall be writing for my book….

 Show, don’t tell 

Tell you what, those mandatory kit lists for trail and ultra events….. have a listen to the interview with Adam Campbell on Talk Ultra….. I’ll be carrying the essential items EVERY time I go off the beaten track.

Both interviews with Adam are on the podcast including the latest, after completing the Hardrock 100 .

Anyway.

To the soundtrack of my own paddles breaking the smooth surface of the dark, becalmed water, I, almost blindly, forged into the darkness.

That sensation when you’ve set a ridiculously early alarm. Suddenly sitting bolt upright “I’VE OVERSLEPT!!!! Oh no, it’s only 11.30…” Repeated at regular intervals until the alarm actually chimes at….. THREE THIRTY A.M.!!! Yup 3.30A.M.

Hence the dark on the river. I know the river fairly well and the banks and massed trees loomed with sinister shadows to either side, even in the almost complete darkness. I stuck to the very middle and daylight gradually improved my navigation as I approached our rendezvous.

 

Chilly? Looks it from the warmth of the kayak!

 

Another weekend of adventure was well and truly under way….

I humbled am blessed to be sharing these precious weekends with my incredible, inspiring and, I don’t mind saying, HOT lady wife.

 

And they’re off

 

Our friend in adventure, Martin, was driving himself and Nicky to Totnes. From there they would swim back to Stoke Gabriel from where I had just paddled (having left the car there).

I love it when a plan comes together!

“I say old chap, the water really is rather nippy” (or words to that effect) Nicky exclaimed as they entered the river at 5.45AM. Martin concurred.

Just a couple of false starts as they acclimatised then off. Approaching the first set of bends, the sun introduced itself through the trees. To describe the scene as idyllic would be under selling it rather.

Over the next 2 hours we all agreed we had shared a magical and quite priveledged experience.

 

Martin & Nicky, as majestic as the river itself

 

Being Martin’s first river swim this year, he wasn’t quite as confident as Nicky who was really powering on. At one point I had to signal her to slow down as I was uncomfortable with the gap between them.

It might seem overly risk averse but, perhaps especially because of the early hour, any other river traffic we might be unlucky enough to encounter would be unlikely to be expecting to see two swimmers. Keeping both of them close to the kayak gives others more chance to spot us.

As they climbed from the water, with most of the world yet to start their weekend, we were all smiles and back slaps.

Leaving them to retrieve vehicles, I set out on the next instalment of the weekend. With The East Farm Frolic looming, I felt my fatigue from the weeks work and a rather short sleep, plus this morning’s hard kayak to Totnes would help me replicate running tired in the later stages of the 12 hour event.

I was right. I felt very tired. Having waxed lyrical about last week’s long run, I won’t dribble on…..

Suffice to say I stuck mainly to trails, some of them completely new to me and managed a satisfactory 30 miles. Loads of great routes to check out here.

I arrived back home, into the garden, to the wonderfully chaotic scene of grandchildren, step daughter, father-in-law and a refreshed and beautiful Nicky. All seem pleased to see me and enjoyed a “MAN DOWN!” moment as I slumped onto the garden bench!

My recovery was accelerated by the invitation to join the imminent mob march to the beach for ice cream.

ice creamRaberry pavlova. Mmm mmmmm.

Too tired to join our neighbours barbeque gathering, an early night beckoned. They are a musical crowd and it was quite mellow drifting off to the distant strum of a ukulele…….. I’m sure I dreamed of cleaning windows……..

Phew! So rest day Sunday…… naahhh…..

It’s a family affair….

Totnes 10k.

Love this race.

The year Nicky and I got together, we were both at this event. We didn’t spot each other but less than a month later we were embarking in this incredible adventure that is our life together.

So it’s always a special day. But this year topped them all. After 30 miles the previous day I was fairly confident I wouldn’t be troubling my PB list!!

 

Nicky and her beautiful girls

 

So, with my parents supporting, step daughter, Lou supporting too, it was a true family affair.

 

Sprint finish!

 

“Go get ’em Mum” yelled my other step daughter, Alisa as the two of them tore across the field towards the finish line. Three ladies from the incredible Plymouth based club, Storm, vied with them to cross the line first.

This was Alisa’s first ever race as she continues smashing down the barriers on her incredible journey of weight loss, healthy living and fitness drive.

Proud.

Lou and myself both seemed to have something in our eyes as Nicky and Alisa crosses the line.

 

The boy is a STAR!

 

Proud too as I lined up with grandson, Callum for the fun run prior to the main race. He blitzed around his mile in under 9 minutes and it definitely loosened my creaking legs!

 

The scene at the front prior to the race, old training partners Rob & Jerry raring to go

 

One of the best family says on the local race calender, the 10k itself winds it’s way to Dartington via the trails alongside the river. There’s a lumpy section with one proper climb about 2/3 of the way and the going is sapping, but after the Snowdonia Trail Marathon the other week, it’s pretty much flat!

 

Martin finishing strong

 

Setting off with the afore mentioned Martin, we ran toe to toe for about 4 miles until he goaded me in to running harder. I was really pleased to clock a couple of swift miles towards the end and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

A fabulous event, thoroughly recommended, great to meet up with so many familiar faces from the running community.

 

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STORM – setting up camp at a race near you!

Two clubs in attendance on mass were Teignbridge Trotters and the afore mentioned Storm. Storm are quite a success story, in only their second year and have well over 1000 members. Over 100 of them toed the line in Totnes today, a fine blaze of purple.

 

The Teignbridge Trotters, meanwhile, our hosts for the day, provide (as with all of their events) a fabulous atmosphere, family friendly environment and set up barbeques, hot drinks, a bar, a constant running commentary which is quite legendary, photographers (piccies are free!) and a fantastic, well marked, brilliantly marshalled course.

Sign up early next year, it was massively over subscribed this year.

Next up for us….. the RAT 32, miles on  the Cornish coast…….

Meanwhile some more piccies from the weekend….

 

Sprint finish from friend Jan too

 

 

Event photgraphers giving their time (and their photos)

 

 

Another sprint finish – Callum smiling as he hurtles in

 

 

Nicky & Alisa and some of the many Storm runners

 

 

All smiles on the start line

 

 

Something resembling a sprint from this lanky fella too

 

 

And all called home and congratulated by this relentless chap

 

Been on a quad

A quick post typed on my phone, check out the piccies at the end of the blog…..

I’m always so grateful to marshals, staff, helpers and crew at races. Whilst I often bemoan the lack of time to enjoy the things we enjoy so it always amazes me the philanthropic nature of so many kind souls.

“Which way do we ******** go here!!??” A voice from the other side of the hedge yelled. This startled me.

This startled me, mainly because it was a voice from a group of runners I had yet to see. In my rather complicated marshalling position, I met the intrepid Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k competitors twice. Well, most of them!

The Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k. A completely voluntary event. Regular readers (listen to me, “regular readers” la de da, I’ll be saying ‘friends of the blog’ next!) will know of, actualy most of you probably know him in person, Jamie, the organiser.

My annual, tiny return back to the sport I love is to turn up and help at this lovely event.

As the runners approached me after about 2 miles I informed them “right, left, around the gate, right at the end, right again and then left into the hay field.” Simples.

They then approached the same point from yet another direction after about 5 miles, “left here, careful it’s slippery, then left again, then follow the tape back across the field. Oh and watch out for runners still coming up!” Again. Simples.

Somehow, a lead group had managed to ignore the marked route, make their own route up and approached me from yet another different direction. All but one seemed to see the funny side……

The bulk of the 180 or so which completed the full course did so with big smiles on their faces. Several stopped to fuss Charlie who was helping me marshalling and all seemed to be loving the challenging but beautiful course.

“Alright boy!? Pick up the mut and jump on!” Bellowed the friendly guy (Mark?) who saved me the mile and a half or so hike back to the village by giving us a lift on his quad.

“BEEN ON A QUAD!” Charlie couldn’t wait to tell the grandchildren. I think they’re starting to suspect Charlie can’t ACTUALLY talk, but, honestly it’s all he’s been saying all week.

Do check out the Stoke Gabriel Carnival 10k (ish) and sign up early next year, it sold out very early this year. Jamie had secured so many great gestures from local businesses and the village really embraces the event.

Hoping to see ALL the runners twice next time.

I’m off for some kayaking and running tomorrow and the Totnes 10k Sunday. The weekend will be over all to quickly….

All my running is on Strava and Fetch. Please keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, comment here or email kbonfield@live.com

Thank you for the interest in my little blog, please check out previous posts too, nearly 50 of them now.

Smiles a plenty
Thumbs ups a plenty too
Plenty of local clubs represented
Nicky on the way out, Charlie is just out of shot
Mark, ultra runner extraordinaire
Martin, all smiles
Brian, runner, coach and local event organiser
Not a bad spot to be marshalling

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We Never Expected That

2017-04-16 13.45.42I was wrong (I know!), shopping trolleys are EVERYWHERE…..2017-04-15 08.46.49

 

 

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It hasn’t ALL been frantic

So, a 4 day weekend, what bliss, it seems to have passed by all too rapidly but there’s been plenty of fun and frolics, some lovely time with the Grandchildren and a ride out with Nicky’s Dad. Then today, another little road trip.

 

 

Yeovil this time, as an ultra trail running friend quipped, “all the way to Yeovil for a 10k?!” I know, and a road 10k as well.

Nicky and I do like a road race, especially as we’re targeting a road marathon in a couple of weeks. We also like a road trip, so this ticked a few boxes.

Yawning and delaying getting up, our mojos weren’t bouncing this morning and I think if either of us had pulled the plug we’d both have gone down the hole.

We managed to get in the car though and had an easy, uneventful drive to get parked good and early for Yeovil Town Road Running Club‘s flagship fast and flat 10k.

Has anybody heard the expression ‘a visit from the gingerbread man’ in relation to running? Well, it refers to a sudden need to, well you can guess the rest. The gingerbread man was well and truly knocking on my door this morning. You could actually hear my stomach grizzling over the road noise driving up. We got ourselves a coffee (“just make a donation”), eyed up the cakes, had a cheeky custard cream,  then headed back to the car, both yawning and stretching and mumbling. We reluctantly stripped to our running kit and donned our numbers. I went for a warm up (there’s a running track on hand) and, after a visit to the portaloos, so did Nicky.

2017-04-17 10.32.57
Nicky was sooooo keen for a pre race piccie

Regular readers might know that Nicky isn’t renowned for her warm ups, they normally involve keeping her hoody on until the last minute. BUT we have been doing proper warm ups in training, so she did some laps and stretches too.

 

In a previous post on this blog I received some online, er, banter, for suggesting that they may be a bit of elitism in running. Either about speed, kit, age or ability, any thoughtless quips, mockery or dismissive looks can have a truly demoralising effect on a runner perhaps lacking in confidence or maybe new to the sport, or who is trying to lose weight, or, indeed, for any other reason. Anyway, and I won’t labour this point, as the 400 or so runners were heading over to the start I over heard one lady say to her friend that she was very nervous. Maybe it was her first ever event, maybe she’s been injured, maybe she’s never run that far, maybe, just maybe there are reasons that are none of our business. Well, watching her head drop as a gentleman marching past in his high-viz vest retorted “Who on earth gets nervous for a 10k!?” I guess it was rhetorical, as he didn’t wait for an answer as the lady in question looked at the floor. Come on guys….

Just my opinion.

So, the race…….

My stomach seemed to have appreciated the warm up and I settled in to the pack as the low key countdown set us on our way. Anyone reading this blog hoping for a blow by blow chronical of every footstep is going to be disappointed. I’m really not very good at remembering these things in order….. or at all sometimes. I remember getting my DVD in the post after the Paris Marathon and being surprised to learn that I’d run (I say ‘run’…) past the Eiffel Tower!eiffel tower

When I’d been training well in the past, I’d managed to get under 40 minutes for 10k, so I was secretly hoping to be in that sort of territory again. The group I was running with seemed to be in the same level of discomfort as me, so I guessed we were pacing it right, the first mile in 6m12s seemed to feel right and somebody in the group had the breath to comically ask if any of us were pacemakers, “Is this the 40 minute bus then?” I semi seriously replied. Another member of the group chipped in “FORTY MINUTES, I CAN’T RUN FORTY MINUTES!” and promptly slowed down and disappeared behind us. Sorry mate!!

Mile 2 in 6.23 as the countryside rattled past. I’m so used to running for longer than this that, as mile three beeped on all the watches around me, I smiled to myself that we were halfway already and it felt like we had just started.

After 6.17 for mile 3 I sort of teamed up with a Yeovil runner (Darrell, I think, thank you mate for the rhythmic pacing) and we pushed through 4 in 6.13 and 5 in 6.14. We were both pushing hard now, and as I slightly slipped back he glanced over and gave me fantastic encouragement to keep up with him. 6.18 for mile 6 and he pushed on for a sprint finish as my legs turned to jelly and I wombled  up the finishing straight to finish in (chip time) 39m26s. Chuffed as a chuffed thing.

2017-04-17 11.46.13
A chuffed person earlier today

Just as there had been around the whole course, there were so many welcoming marshals and volunteers at the finish, with much welcomed fluid and a fabulous quirky medal.

 

I know you readers are all thinking “what about NICKY?!”…..

Well I rushed back to the car, still sweating, pretty much stripped off (apologies to the people I hadn’t noticed cooling down in the field behind me) towelled off some sweat (only for it to be immediately replaced) had a quick spray and rushed back to the finish line.

2017-04-17 11.58.45-1
Nicky smmmmASHING it!

I was right to rush back, Nicky came storming around the corner in little over 55 minutes looking really, really strong. As ever, she had paced it brilliantly and her fastest miles were at the end of the race. Proud husband alert…..

 

A cracking event, I guess by its nature aimed at the speedsters, but lots of great encouragement for everyone throughout the field and definitely recommended, particularly if you are chasing a time.

So it’s 13 days to NDVM……………………………………….

 

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Consecutive numbers, aaaahhhhhh