Country Miles (Dorset Invader Marathon 2018)

 

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Nearly 29 miles of this! Mmmmm Mmmmm (as grandson, Olly, would say)

If you’re looking for the finish line in a trail marathon, you won’t find it at 26.2 miles! Certainly not at the fabulous Dorset Invader. We’ve tackled many White Star Running events and you’re never short changed on distance. More muck for your buck, as it were. I whole heartily approve, we’d soon be moaning if it was short!

In a break from tradition, our wingman, Martin, was chauffer for the day, his new stead a step up in size from our mini. We settled into the Volvo luxury and headed east. Yet again, it was destination Dorset for #TeamBonfield and our sugar fetishist running chum.

As the main man at White Star pointed out in response to a couple of social media grumblings, these wonderful country routes which trail events companies map out for us depend on the good will of the people who own the land we have the pleasure of skipping through.

With farmland being at the mercy of climate and delicate crops needing to be avoided, routes will be varied and negotiated on a race by race basis. This year’s Invader route being quite different to the one we ran two years ago. A clever quirk of this year’s route was the loop which was repeated, the way it was set up, it never felt as if we were running laps.

With the forthcoming storms holding off until after we’d finished, there was only a wild wind to contend with. So much of this gorgeous route was on trails through woodland and alongside tall hedgerows that we were only intermittently exposed to the howling breeze.

“Are you two going to do ANY running?” Martin briefly turned to ask. The three of us started together, Martin speeding off as we, at best, sauntered up the first field. There’s plenty of time, we assured him, fully intending to use it.

dsc_12174040429068873134989.jpgA big centurion, and indeed a little centurion, both on horseback, ceremoniously set us on our way for this Roman themed event.

About 250 runners were soon spread out as the course picked its way through the fields and tracks of the host farm. After a couple of miles (bearing in mind, my memory is rarely chronological and certainly not detailed) we reached the one road crossing in the event. It was expertly and safely manned by a team of marshals, with clear and precise instructions as to how and when to cross.

Oh, and some 6 hours later, when we were on our way to the finish, the same crew were still there, still cheerful and still as attentive. A massive thank you to them and all of the fabulous volunteers, marshals and aid station crews on the day. Above and beyond as ever.

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Martin, on his way to 3rd in his age group, despite starting with us!!!

After the road crossing, we started to make progress as we warmed to the task. Nicky is a serial start-at-the-backer, much to Martin’s chagrin. His argument is that if you start behind somebody who is going to run at exactly the same pace as you throughout the event, you will end up behind them by the amount of head start you gave them. My argument is: SO?

Nicky’s thinking is a tad more considered. If she starts too far forward in the pack, then runners covering the ground quickly will be scuttling past. Potentially demoralising.

We always say, as runners disappear away from us early in the race, if they are that much quicker than us, then we won’t see them again and good luck to them. If they are a similar pace to us then they may be setting off too quickly and we’ll catch them later on anyway.

BUT, we won’t have had a stream of faster runners whizzing past us.

It didn’t do us any harm, despite starting with a saunter up the hill, behind everyone, there were over 100 behind us 28 miles later. Actually, it didn’t do Martin any harm either, he finished an hour in front of us and third in his age category. And we ALL got stonking great medals at the end, regardless of where we finished.

There was a quite flat and runnable 2 mile section along the old Somerset and Dorset Railway which is quite unusual for a White Star event and some of this featured twice. A cracking section to tick a few miles off and fascinating to run through what used to be stations.

If you enjoy running on corn fields, gravel tracks, wooded trails, quiet lanes, old railway lines, farmyards, bridleways and like a good few hills, then this is definitely for you.

We took the whole thing VERY seriously….

Well, we’re off to Cornwall for my favourite ever event in just over a week. The R.A.T. festival of coastal trail running (read all about last year HERE). With this in mind, completing a lovely long trail marathon has given us both a confidence boost about our fitness as we start to, er, ‘taper’……..

You can check out our Dorset Invader performance on Strava HERE.

So much to say, so little time…. stay tuned and keep on keeping on folks…..

A banquet fit for a (king or) queen

2017-03-25 06.19.23What a beautiful sunrise this morning, the sun rising through the haze of sea spray as an north-easterly whipped the tops off the waves. Like running through a watercolour.

Chilly for sure, but good to have some bright weather to run in. We’re not Saturday long run people normally, preferring the traditional Sunday long one. I set off first, aiming to do about 11 miles at marathon pace before joining Nicky after she’d done 3 or 4 for another 16 or 17. Simples.

Marathon pace was barely happening today so I’d actually done 10 by the time we met up. Reassuringly, Nicky was also ‘not feeling it’.

Saturday, you see. Our highly and finely tuned elite athlete bodies are programmed to run 3 mile time trials on Saturdays, this was never going to be a successful experiment. That, combined with the sore knee Nicky is nursing meant she wisely finished at 10 miles, before the knee starting affecting her running too much. She’ll do a smaller run tomorrow instead.

Whilst I was feeling sluggish (half a packet of dark chocolate digestives last night can’t have helped!), I wasn’t in pain luckily so I carried on and did an easy paced hilly loop. This brought my run in at 26.2 mile! Well, if I’m going to do well in these ultras later in the year, I’ve got to be capable of this sort of mileage. Click HERE if you like run stats.

ANYWAY…….

Pretty hungry after all this, which got us to thinking about post race/run noshing. Nicky and I, er, like our food (not something you can regularly get away with saying to a lady!) so we’re always keen to get our nashers chomping after a run.

 

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Larmer Tree Chef, well good grub

The last marathon we did, the wonderful Larmer Tree (see previous blog), not only had a quite beautiful, peacock medal but also some lovely hot food for the runners included in the entrance fee. There was a choice of burgers, pizza, salads, vegetarian and vegan options, plus a bar and coffees a plenty.

 

What to eat after a marathon? We’ve tried everything. There’s a cracking pasty shop in St Austell, open well into the afternoon on Sundays, so they’ve had plenty of our hard earned shillings after some cracking events down that way.

I will, actually, eat anything after a run, that’s a danger time for me. Chips, chocolate, crisps, pork pies, bacon, cake, cake, cake, crumbs found in the well of the boot of the car, half eaten hot dogs found  on the floor, you name it, I’ll eat it!

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Post run essentials

 

We tried taking our food with us, lovingly preparing bagels, fruit, small snack bars (who wants a SMALL snack bar??) you name it, we’ve tried it but somehow those, cling film wrapped warm bagels, sweating in the boot of the car just don’t cut it.

 

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After conquering the South Downs Way 50 Nicky was presented with 50 cream eggs! Now THAT’S a post race nosh up!

 

Nope, it’s got to be pasty, coffee and cake for us and when we get home on race days it’s takeaway night. House special chow mein with fine noodles mmm mmmm.

After todays efforts it was belated porridge and a walk down to the sea for coffee and cake.

Looking forward to next Sunday’s Devonshire Dumpling where we have had to pre-order our pasty (meat please), included in the £8 entry fee!!

Keep on keeping on people….

The Marathon I Haven’t Run

I don’t just throw this blog together you know….

One idea I’ve been mulling over is to have an occasional series of interviews, with ordinary people. People who are into running would be good. Whatever form that takes and whatever running might mean for people.

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Fancy being interviewed for the blog?

Only, I don’t want to be too obvious, I’d like to find out more, delve deeper into the inner workings of the minds of those out on the paths, roads and trails.

Without asking the obvious………

Or taking it too seriously……..

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Nicky censoring her replies….. interview coming soon….

Nicky says “you can interview ME if you like!”

Stay tuned for that one……

So, I thought I’d kick off with a quick interview with……

……. Myself

Asking the questions I definitely won’t be asking anyone else……

Q: I hear you’re a runner, have you done the marathon?london marathon logo

Me: The marathon?

Q: You know, London

Me: No I haven’t

Q: (disappointed look) Oh dear

Me: I have run 30 marathons though, some of them ultra marathons

Q: But not in London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: What’s an ultra marathon?

Me: I believe it’s any running race that’s further than 26.2 miles.

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Nicky & I in our first Ultra – The Imber on Salisbury Plain in 2015

Q: Are they in London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: Oh, never mind. Anyway, isn’t running bad for your knees?

Me: Not so far, I’ve found kneeling down on cold wet concrete at work is worse.

Q: Are you going to run the London Marathon?

Me: I don’t think so, there’s so many other places I’d like to run.

Q: But not London?

Me: No, sorry.

Q: Great North Run?

Me: Nope, again, the crowd thing.

Q: So where have you run a marathon?

Me: Most recently an off-road marathon in Dorset.

Q: Was that as far the London Marathon?

Me: It was, it’s actually a bit further, Dorset miles are longer.

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Another flat, fast Dorset mile ahead!

Q: What music do you listen to when you’re running

Me: I don’t

Q: You don’t?

Me: No, I prefer an empty head, the sound of the sea, birds, my foot strike, breathing, the sound of my beautiful wife talking, that sort of thing.

Q: Do you do the MoBot?

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Wonder if either of these two are free for an interview?

Me: Nope

Q: The Lightning Bolt?

Me: No.

Q: You are a runner, mate?

Me: I like to think so.

Q: So who’s your favourite runner? Mo Farah or Usain Bolt?

Me: if you mean ELITE runner I’d have to say Callum Hawkins or Laura Muir.

Callum Hawkins
Callum Hawkins

Q: Who?

Me: Never mind. But actually, my favourite runner is my beautiful, amazing wife Nicky, she truly is my inspiration. She believes in me, I believe in her.

Q: Was she in the London Marathon?

Me: No.

Q: The Olympics?

Me: No.

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All the inspiration I ever need (this was Windemere Marathon the day after our wedding)

Q: Right? Have you got many cups?

Me: Two, but I don’t run for cups.

Q: So why do you run?

ME: I enjoy running.