Monday, 4 June 2018

The Longest run home - Peterborough to home (approximately 50 miles).

02/06/2018 - To set the scene and provide some context to my doing my longest run home I need to explain a couple of things. Firstly I like the challenge of being dropped somewhere and having to get home using only my own two legs. Secondly my wife is a volunteer for an amazing charity ( Respite at Home Volunteers West Mid Beds and Ivel Valley (RHV).) and I wanted to do something to help raise some money so that they can train more volunteers.

Respite at Home Volunteers are a group of amazing caring people who give up their free time to help and support people with life limiting illnesses.

Now training had not been going that great this year. I'd like to say it was injury or something uncontrollable but in truth I was having a lazy start to the year. I was still running but not as often or for as long as usual so if I was going to do this I was going to have start getting some longer runs in and not to rely on my basic fitness to get me though. 

My training routine (Vietnam)

So I set out to do at least one long, 20 mile plus, run every weekend in the run up to the event. I also booked into the Milton Keynes marathon as a training run.

The MK marathon proved to be the perfect pre-event training run. Temperatures neared 30 degrees C and the heat destroyed me. I finished it but with the slowest time ever, I had to drag myself round which actually was great preparation for the 50 miler.

Half way point of the MK marathon - a good friend provided beer

So to the run itself. I had originally wanted to set off from Peterborough at around 6am as I knew it was going to be a long day and I did not want to finish in the dark. Unfortunately due to the fantastic work of the rail companies implementing a new time table everything early got cancelled so I ended up at Peterborough train station at 07:45 not the 05:45 I'd originally planned. A quick coffee and a quite lovely bacon and egg roll from Waitrose cafĂ© and I’m ready to set off. First thing is to work out which direction I’m supposed to be running in – I’ve got it wrong in the past, I once did the cycle section of a triathlon twice because I “missed” the end of it.

It’s only a few minutes into the run before I realise how warm it already is so I strip down to my Respite at Home running top and hope it’s not going to be a hot day – it was. Fortunately the MK Marathon had prepared me for this.  It did not take long to exit Peterborough and hit the B roads. You don’t really get a sense of a road from google maps, you have to run it, and I was to discover that the roads from Peterborough to home are long and tedious. Not a run I'll be recommending to anyone. I had run from Cambridge to home last year and that was 29 miles of joy. Ever changing views and conditions from pathways to road to grass to gravel - lovely. Getting home from Peterborough was going to be a grind.

Pretty but miles and miles of this and nothing but tarmac to run on.
The run became miles and miles of tarmac and though once out of Peterbourgh the views were lovely they never really changed, just fields, so ultimately you stop looking. Which was I guess a good thing as a lot of the roads do not have a pathway for walkers so I had to keep a close eye on the oncoming traffic. When running on roads, as when walking, you run toward the oncoming traffic, this allows you to see the cars hurtling at you and jump out of the way if needed. Thankfully most drivers are very good at avoiding you and giving you plenty of room so I rarely had to jump into the bushes. When I did it was to allow large lorries to get past. The exception are the drivers overtaking cars behind you at stupid speeds and fly past your shoulder without warning, missing you by inches and getting ones heart rate up a bit. You also need to keep an eye out for the detritus on the road that you need to avoid stepping into, dead rabbits, hedgehogs and the worst – dead badgers. It constantly amazes me how close you get to their live counterparts when out running, baby rabbits allow you within a few feet, squirrels, the odd rat, birds of prey and occasionally a deer (one nearly knocked me over on a previous run).
Five hours after I started I was out of water and gasping for fluids, the sun had been burningly hot, at which point an oasis appeared. A pub, So I stopped, got my water bottle refilled and out of politeness had a beer and a glass of coke. 

Carbs for runners - the drink of professional athletes.

Fully refreshed I set off again. After another couple of hours I stopped for some food and a small rest, checked my stats and I’ll completed 27 miles – very slow but steady.
The next few hours were much the same though my right leg had started to be a problem. I was having a sort of pain and weakness behind the knee that was making it rather hard to run. A chap stopped his car and asked if I needed a lift, so I must have looked pretty bad. I was at about the 35 miles stage so I would be lying if I said I was not tempted but thanked him and refused. I was stopped whenever I found a pub and got them to top up my water bottle – what will happen when all the pubs have gone?
Around mile 44 ish it was getting dark and I popped my lights on and wondered if I was going to have to abandon the run for safety reasons, also I was having issues with my right leg was still causing me problems with running so I was walking a lot. What I don’t have in my fitness I make up for in stubbornness so I kept going, even when I was offered a lift by another good Samaritan – he looked confused that I wanted to keep running but left me to my stupidity anyway…. staggering and stumbling I continued on.
Eventually in the dark I hit the edge of my home town and my wife was there with the lovingly warm welcome of “How long does it take you to get into the car?”

Home at last
So according to my Fitbit that day I had completed 108,779 steps, travelled 54.72 miles and burnt up nearly 7,000 calories. 

If you can please donate to this amazing charity:

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The TOC - Tour of Cambridgeshire 2017 

04/06/2017 - Booked myself into the Gran Fondo Sportive at the TOC 2017 as I'd never completed a closed road sportive before. There's a whole weekend of cycling events/races and it bills itself as "UK's only UCI Gran Fondo World Series ". The Gran Fondo Sportive was going to be 80 miles of closed road joy.

As is my way I got there stupidly early, if you're wondering how early well the race started at 12:30 and I was parked up in the car park at 0600 am. Still it gave me time to register, have some breakfast and a little kip. By 12:00 (the official start) I've been waiting at the start line for about 15 minutes and hoping that it was not going to rain. 12:30 and we're finally off. I'd been hearing horror stories from last year about it being so crowded that loads of people were crashing. One chap said out of 12 of his group last year 4 of them crashed because of being bumped at the start. So it was with some trepidation that I started to wind up the speed. I need not of worried as the organisers had obviously taken note and by staggering the competitors into starting pens, based of expected average speed, and allowing time between gate releases I found my way quite happily through.

It felt very weird at first having both sides of the road to ride and going round a roundabout the "wrong" way was very odd. It was fantastic though and I had to stop myself from pushing too hard as I did not want to burn out. At first it was the usual thing of passing slower riders and being over taken by faster ones (some people I constantly met along the way where I'd over take them, then them me and so on).

After about 20 miles I was over taken by a pony tailed chap and I found that he was going at a pace slightly faster than I was so I kept on his rear and enjoyed the pull along. After a while I pushed in front to take my go at the lead to give him a rest but he seemed not to get this and just immediately overtook and took the lead again. Tried to lead a few times more then gave up as he clearly just wanted to be in front. About half way there though he bonked, dropped back, and I never saw him again.

I had decided not to use the food stops and sailed past the first one, then sailed past the second one but by the third one I was starving. So I pulled in and wolfed down a sausage roll and a chocolate bar. After 10 minutes I set off again. On leaving the food stop I had a laugh as I was held up a little by a lady who'd somehow managed to get through the road blocks etc to get onto the road. The motorbike police were not happy and were doing their bit to get her off the road - all quite amusing if somewhat dangerous. Still fueled up I set off with renewed vigor.

The last 20 miles were tough as I didn't want to lose time as I wanted to see how fast I could cycle such a large distance without road traffic to hinder me. When I get tired my mind starts to wander and as a runner at these times I'm not adverse to spotting a nice derriere to follow to keep me focused. On the bike I found myself admiring nicely turned calf muscles. Sad really.

So it's 15 miles to go, I'm tiring and the wind has picked up and Cambridgeshire is open and flat. I getting chatting to a lady and we push each other on. Suddenly I get a surge of energy and push on and pretty soon I'm on my own again .... relatively (there's thousands out cycling).

The finish seemed to take forever to appear but when it did the elation was incredible. I flew to the finish like I was winning the TDF and celebrated accordingly. The two ladies I passed on the finish line, my arms aloft, were clearly impressed (well that's how I;m choosing to read their expressions).

So what an amazing day. I finished in 4 hours 28 minutes - so taking off the 10 minutes for the food stop that approximately 4 hours 18 minutes so 19 mph on average for the day. Not bad for me, a long way off the good cyclists but I'm happy. What I did learn was that I'm nothing special on the flats, nothing special up the hills, rather fast coming down (no one overtook me and I overtook loads) and particularly fast on the corners (probably a lifetime of motorcycling perhaps?).  So an excellent day and I'd do it again though it would be nice to find someone to rode with me.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

The long run from Cambridge 

18/03/2017 - There's a great charity that provides volunteers that visit people in their homes who are suffering with Cancer or life limiting illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons and Motor neuron disease. They offer friendship, support, and advice to them and their families, They also give their carers much needed respite. They are Respite at Home Volunteers and my wife is one such volunteer. She was only able to do this because of the training she received through the charity but this costs money and with funding being ever harder to find without support they are finding it increasingly hard to fund the training these volunteers require.So I decided to take a train to Cambridge and run home from there. I'd calculated the mileage to be around 26 miles but with my track record for getting lost who knew?

Saturday morning on the 18th March and having been dropped off I'm on the platform at Hitchin train station waiting for my train to Cambridge. I take a seat on the platform next to a young man, hunched over and seemingly asleep. I start reading the paper when movement to my right catches my eye and I turn to see the young lad flop off the bench and onto the floor. I get up and go to check on him. First hing I notice is the can of Fosters lager that's disgorging it's contents onto the platform floor.  So I right that and check on the lad. He's so drunk he's out cold. Cue check he's not in immediate danger then pop him in the recovery position and get him some help. Got the help of a couple of train station staff and as my train rolled in I left him in their capable hands.

On the train to Cambridge
On arrival at Cambridge train station I decided to start the day with a coffee and some breakfast. I went for a bacon sandwich which was a mistake, nothing wrong with the idea just the execution. A horrible plate of bread and pork inspired in-edibility which I struggle to beat into submission. So far not the start I was hoping for, but the sun had come out and it was looking like a good day for running.

Lovely - Not!
So a quick stop at the nearby Sainsburys saw me stocked up with chocolate bars, cans of coke and doughnuts - nice. With my energy needs sorted I set off in the direction I hoped was correct. For once I fluked it correctly and was heading out of Cambridge in the direction I needed to be heading.

 After a few miles I came across a sing to Trumpington, which made the 4 year old in me giggle so I took a picture.

Leaving Cambridge I got to run alongside the A10 for a while. The path was fine but it was a little noisy with the cars but not nearly as busy as I thought it might be. Still I was used to running across quiet fields so this was still too busy for my liking and I hoped that I'd be leaving the A10 sooner rather than later.

Having run through the town of Foxton I eventually I came to a turn off the A10 that took me in the direction I needed to go, away from the noise and into the countryside. I was finally where I wanted to be, running in the woods and fields on my own. But I got carried away and missed a turning if you watch the following video you'll see me run straight past a wooden bridge, that was the point where it went a little wrong and I got rather lost.

After about ten minutes of running I realised I'd taken the wring route, my phone mapping software was flapping about and next to useless. I made the brilliant decision that instead of turning back I'd use my amazing sense of direction and keep going. That was a mistake.

So I kept going, into the countryside, under a bridge, down pathway after pathway thinking I was heading in the correct direction.

I was wrong. An hour later and I arrive back at Foxton, the little town I'd left an hour before. I had managed to do a full circle and put myself the wrong side of Foxton - genius. So once again I run through Foxton and come to the turning off the A10 where I went wrong previously. Taking the turn I see the bridge I missed the first time round and crossing it finally head off in the correct direction.

Finally I make it to Bassingbourn and stop for a beer and a bacon and brie sandwich - bloody lovely it was too.

Beer - carbs are important
Having "carb'ed up" with a pint I set off again. By now the weather was getting a little less pleasant. Still enbiggened by the beer I put my head down and run on .... in the wrong direction. Thankfully I noticed this quickly and only lost about ten minutes. Once I was back on track I recognised where I was and knew the way without the map. Lovely run across the fields toward Liddlington. 

Little houses in Liddlington
Out of Liddlington and onto Ashwell. Ashwell was going to be my second refuelling stop of the day. By now it was raining and a fierce wind was blowing so I was keen to get into the warm and dry. Finally I get to Ashwell and head into the Rose and Crown. I needed to carb up so I went for a Moretti, a nice Italian larger that would carry me the last 7 miles home.

Lager drunk I set off for the last leg of the journey. I'd planned to get the the Chequers pub at 6pm and realised that I was pretty much bang on for that. Picking up the pace a little so I would not be late.

I walked in through the pub door and two minutes past - excellent. Straight to the bar and ordered a Peroni and found a table to wait for my wife to join me. My wife arrived a few minutes later and some of my friends a while after that and I had a number of recovery drink followed. In the end I'd run 29 miles so not too many off the plan - I could have got much more lost than I did, believe me. Next day I had a bit of a hangover, an athletes hangover.

No more running for me today.
Please if you can give a little to the Respite at Home Volunteers via the link below - thank you, it's greatly appreciated.

Respite at Home Volunteers

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

New Bike - Boardman Team Carbon Review

09/10/2016 - Having owned a Carrera Virtuoso since 2013 it was time for an upgrade. Now don't get me wrong the Carrera has been a brilliant first "proper" road bike. Three years of faultless riding, triathlons, sportives and some long rides where it's never let me down and always performed has given me a lot of respect for the Carrera. If you have a limited budget I think you'd find it hard to find a nicer bike for the money.All that aside I wanted to move to carbon and the Cycle2work scheme meant I had a £1000 to spend so the Carrera was going to be relegated to a winter hack.

Carrera - sweet first ride
So what to buy. Well the £1000 budget was going to limit the field if I was going to go for carbon, and I was because I wanted carbon damn it! I had a few weeks after applying for the vouchers to look for something. The bike I fancied, a Specialised Roubaix, was well outside my budget and there was no way I was going to be given permission by the sensible one in my marriage to spend more than £1000. In the end based on a whole list of things from looks, components, availability and of course price I eventually narrowed it to two bikes. A Boardman Team Carbon or a Focus Cayo Tiagra. After a lot of googling the Boardman was coming out on top in the review stakes and coupled with the very upgrade-able frame and that the price had dropped at Halfords to £799 it was a clear winner.

New Boardman Team Carbon
Decision made, voucher received it was off to Halfords. I ordered the bike, spent the difference (£200) on accessories and left a happy man. Two days later I get the call to pick the bike and accessories up. Best not go into the collection process as it's an hour of my life that I'll not get back unlike the £1000 that was incorrectly charged to my Connect card which I did get back only after it had put my account into the red. Anyway got the bike home, popped off the supplied caged pedals and put on my Shimano SPL's, adjusted the seat height, removed the wheel reflectors, pooped on my new Lezyne lights and gave it a kiss. Sadly the first ride would have to wait as I was off to Birmingham for the weekend.

Eventually it became first ride day, well evening. Kitted out in my new gear (|Boardman jacket, Boradman Helmet, Boradman gloves - went a bit Boardman crazy) I set off. First thing I noticed was the geometry, knees much closer to the handlebars than on the Carrera and I felt taller on the bike. It really suited me being in the drops, which is where I prefer to be so that was good. Second thing I noticed was that it was jumping out of gear. Another Halfords set-up success. So off the bike,a quick visual and the rear deraillier looks miss-aligned so give the adjuster a quarter turn. Better but still not quite there so another quarter turn. That seems much better but a few miles down the road it's obvious it needs a bit more. Another quarter turn seems to have it. After 25 miles it still not perfect. So next day off out again, still not quite right so another 1/4 turn on the adjuster and bang, I've found the sweet spot. Off I ride for another 25 miles of faultless gear changes.

So after 50 miles of cycling what's my feeling on the bike?


The pictures don't do it justice. It looks class in the flesh. I was not sure if I'd like it until I saw it for real and I know looks are subjective but I love it. 


Seems to fit me especially when down in the drops, comfortable from the get go and after a medium distance ride.


Well the Carrera had Sora gearing which to be honest are OK as long as you look after them but the Tiagra's were definitely smoother (once correctly set-up) and very confidence inspiring - I like them.


Very good if a little sharp, I'll change the pads to a softer compound as I feel that will give me more progressive braking. 


Compared to the Carrera, which is in no way a heavy bike, for someone with my limited experience it feels it's as light as a feather. From review and speaking to friends who are much, much more experienced at this sort of thing than me it's a frame that will allow me to upgrade the components when and if I want to.


This is where I really found the biggest difference between the Boardman and the Carrera. The ride was so much more comfortable on the Boardman, the frame softening the bumps in the road and giving a much less jarring ride than the Carrera on poor roads. 

The Boardman's lightness and the gearing making climbs considerably easier and it accelerates much quicker than the Carrera. This showed itself when at the end of the first ride, without trying and the initial gearing issues, I'd stuck 1 mph on my normal average for a gentle ride out. I also pushed it on one climb and one straight as comparisons and in both cases I set PB's that blew my previous PB's for the same sections on the Carrera. 

One thing though is that it is much "twitchier" than the Carrera. Any body movements on the bike translated into a much bigger effect on the bike than the Carrera - I nearly veered off the road and rode into a bush just because I looked down at the chain. I'm over cooking it in the corners at the moment as well as the Boardman steers in so much quicker than the Carrera. I'll get there.


I love it. I bought it as an upgrade to the Carrera and it is. Now for the money the Carrera is a cracking little bike but the Boardman feels like an upgrade in every department. The only other bike I have to compare it with is the Cannondale I rented in France which I rode for 4 days in the Alps. The Boardman is better. I can only see me upgrading it over the years not replacing it and I can't wait to do some serious miles on it and show it off to my mates, most of which really could not give a shit.

I just need a hybrid now, and a cyclocross and and mountain bike and ...............

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Since the Spitfire to another Spitfire

12/08/2016 - After the Spitfire Scramble in August 2015 I avoided any more races and just run and cycled for fun for the rest of the year. So did anything happen between then and now for me? Well there was a  couple of trips and nearly a couple of marathons in the early part of this year.

The year pretty much finished with a trip to Prague for a long weekend. It was my first time there and it's lovely city and being so close to Christmas had Christmas markets littering the city. Was somewhat pissed the whole weekend having made good use of the outside bars. Going back this year for sure.

Then it was a couple of weeks in St Kitts and Nevis, which was very nice, deffo going back there,

Fat lad beaching it (well beached)
Beached again - ribs were amazing here.
Then I needed to lose some weight so started upping the training including a week cycling, and unhelpfully eating brilliant food, in the French Alps where I cycled up Col de joux Plane - one of the toughest climbs on this years TDF (oh yes - I nearly died), another cracking time was had. The Tasty Ski Company did an amazing job - deffo use them again as I'm deffo going back.

Half way up
At the top - beer never tasted so good.
After climbing the mountain on day one I went out cycling for the next couple of days with my wife following on an electric bike .... well except up the hills where she went flying past laughing. She now wants an electric bike. Amazing time and an amazing place.

Ahhh coffee.
Also did the Manchester marathon ...... well nearly. I messed up badly. I decided it was "only a marathon" so had a slice of toast in the morning and decided I could leg it round. So I did. After 15 miles I was 45 minutes ahead of my previous PB. After 19 miles I was walking and wondering if I was going to perhaps die, well shit myself first and die - I just know that's how I'd go out. By mile 23 I was sitting on the pavement waiting for my brother to rescue me. Plonker - me not my brother. Felt gutted seeing everyone with their lovely big medals.

So the following weekend I did the Milton Keynes marathon. Loved it. Just chilled round, chatting, helping people with cramp etc, just enjoying it. Even sprinted the last 1 mile and 1/2 like a nutter as I knew I could not mess it up this late into the race.

Shiny medal
Oh I also went up North to ride round Yorkshire with a good friend and showed what an amazing cyclist I am. More accurately we did 50 miles where he dragged me round the flat bits, killed me going up the hills and terrified me going down. Keep in mind I did an 86 mile ride the week before in Cambridgeshire without breaking sweat I think highlights that Yorkshire miles after much much tougher than Cambridgeshire miles. Still a brilliant ride, next year I hope to be better :).

After the ride the beer in my mates home pub - sooo envious.
Then we get to the Spitfire Scramble 2016. I was hoping to get into the top ten this year, hope over reality entirely but we can but dream. Sadly, due to very good reasons, my support crew could not make it which would proved to be critical deep into the race. So Billy no Mates settled in Friday evening, downed a few beers and a couple of shots of JD and an early night.

Had a lovely sleep and got up, bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast and got ready for the race. One of my mates, Neil, arrived who was also solo'ing the race and after a promised hug (bit grabby but I'll let him off ;) ) we strolled to the start line.

Sexiest Men of the Day award winners
5,4,3,2,1 and we're off..... well myself and Neil are keeping to the back and taking it easy. After lap two I lost Neil and never saw him again in the race. Turns out he was going for the best average lap time which he won easily by only doing two laps - top winning.

Top running sexy dudes
So I started plodding round lap by lap, enjoying every lovely change of scenery from field to woods, only the suns heat an issue. It was really rather warm.

Six Million Dollar Man
As the evening wore on I was well ahead of my schedule and feeling pretty good. Lap 6 (miles 30 to 36) was a little tough due to the heat which had been beating down all day and was wearing - so after the lap I stopped to get a little more food down. So chips it was. After a decent calorie laden meal laced with fruit smoothies I felt much much better, stinky but better. Lap seven was a blast, loved lap 7, lap seven was my mate, I might have been inappropriate with lap 7.

As you'd have guessed lap 8 was a disaster. It was so hard to get round, literally hated lap 8, hated ultra running, in the words of Danny Glover "I'm too old for this shit". Got back to the tent wondering what the hell I was doing with my life. My wife was relaxing in the garden, drinking champagne in the sun, while I was running round in circles in fields. So I sat down and decided I just needed a 1/2 hour sleep to make everything right and so I set my clock and took to the sleeping bag in the tent. Four hours later I awake to realize that I'd hit to alarm and slept on. Oh bollocks - this is why I needed a support / friend with a sharp stick and a wicked temperament. So I decide "sod it" that's enough, bloody stupid idea anyway, and go and get breakfast. 30 minutes later I quite fancy a run and decide to do a recovery run so set off for another lap.

Recovery run
Having done another lap I decided I liked running again so did a tenth lap. Coming in after lap 10 I decided to have a look at the race placings. To my surprise I was in 7th place for the soloists - the heat had obviously hit people badly. So I thought unless I went out again I'd probably lose that placing, so I did. So 11 laps it was, not what I had planned and a disappointment that I only got to 65 miles but chuffed still with my placing - 7th soloist and 13th over all (500+ runners).

So apart from a small "moment" I had a cracking weekend and will deffo try to do better next time.

Oh and please if you can support my current fav charity by clicking the next link and donating via my Justgiving page to the amazing Make a Wish Foundation. Thank you.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Spitfire Scramble Ultra run

Spitfire Scramble 2015

15/08/2015 - The week started brilliantly as I'd taken the Monday and the Tuesday off work to go cycling. Monday the weather forecast said rain so I decided to go for a run instead. Backpack on I set off in the morning, running off into the waiting countryside. After a couple of hours I stopped for a packed lunch before running another hour and stopping at a country pub for a pint. After that I had a nice kip in a farmers field, as you do, and after started the journey home. The weather was actually nice so I could have cycled but still it was lovely to get out. Next day the forecast was lovely and with the sun shining I went on a 60 mile bimble around Cambridgeshire stopping at the Wimpole Estate for a packed lunch. I found loads of new and beautiful routes and some lovely countryside. A perfect day.

A gurning man lunching at the Wimpole Estate
So I'd had a lovely start to the week and just three days of work before my biggest race of the year, the Spitfire Scramble, a 24 hour trail ultra run held at the Hornchurch Country Park. Leaving work as soon as possible on the Friday I headed off to Hornchurch, got a little caught up in the M25 traffic but still managed to arrive just after 5pm. Set up the tent and got settled just as the rain came belting down.

All rather damp on arrival
Still I was dry and with the kettle on I could not have felt better, though I did a little later after a beer and a couple of glasses of Thunder toffee vodka.

Tea made

I cooked myself up a lovely dinner and with that gone, and a couple of drinks down me it was getting dark and there was not much to do so I settled in to my sleeping bag and read for a while before having an early night. I did not stir again until 07:30 in the morning which was nice. Cooked up a cracking fried breakfast and took a walk over to the section of the campsite I knew there would be some friends camping. Sure enough there they were and it was lovely to see them and chat for a while (Pete, Jo and Neil it was a pleasure). They were there competing in the team event for the second year so were quite relaxed about the whole thing. I wish I had more time to spend with them as other than chatting on the Interweb I'm lucky to see them once a year, in fact Neil I was meeting in person for the first time. We wished each other the all the best and I went back to my tent to prepare for the start. As is the nature of these things the start came round very quickly and not wishing to make the mistakes of the past I put myself right at the back on the starting group. At a similar event last year I'd gone off like a loon and really suffered for it later in the race. So the countdown began, reached zero and we were off, me very very slowly.

At the start I'm second from last.
First lap was definitely going to be a lap of discovery as I had no idea what to expect though I'd read it was reasonably flat and a real mix of surfaces. I was actually finding it hard to keep it slow, the plan had been to run slow and steady and walk up any hills but I found myself running everything and constantly having to check my pace. I was actually surprised how nice the views were being so close to Romford/Ilford, sure there was the occasional geeza sitting on a park bench with a few cans of cheap beer, his bull terrier at his feet while on the phone to "mate", but that just added a touch of urban colour to proceedings. The first part of the route goes through more open fields with expansive views and ends running through some lovely woodland, my favorite bit. I think that I finished in about 1:13 ish which meant I my pacing about right. I popped over to my tent for a water bottle refill, a glass of fruit smoothie, my new best friend in the race nutrition stakes, and set off again. Second lap was pretty much a carbon copy of the first but I stopped a little longer for a toilet break and to add in a couple of tiny scotch eggs and a toffee yum yum into the nutritional cocktail. After five laps I took time out for a meal before heading off out.

At the marathon point - yay!!

By lap 7 it was getting dark so the headtorch had to go on. The place looked quite different in the dark and at one point I took a wrong turn but fortunately I realised pretty quickly and turned round. There is something quite haunting about sitting on a dark hill in the countryside, alone, removing a stone that had got into my shoe and looking down at the bright lights of London - should have taken a picture.

By the end of lap 8 I needed a break so I decided to take time out to have a snooze. So I set my alarm for 90 minutes sleep and went to bed. 90 minutes later I'm awake and pulling myself out of a lovely warm sleeping bag to take my now aching body outside in the cold to run again. Not an easy thing to do. Still I managed it and off I went out into the cold dark night like a hero, a grumbling stinky hero. As it turned out the rest did me the world of good and lap nine, though it will show as the slowest on my timing sheet because of the sleeping was probably the fastest lap I did on the day. I went round the course route feeling great. I reached the 50 mile mark during this lap, a major milestone for me as I set it as the minimum target for the weekend.

50 Miles, bloody cold but actually happy (no really)
At the end of the lap I went through the process that had worked so well for me, refill water bottles, drink some fruit smoothie, eat a toffee yum yum and a couple of tiny scotch eggs. If running 50 miles was my base target then doing ten laps was my pre-race goal and as soon as I started I knew I'd do it. I came in at the end, cheered on by my mates who gave me great support and decided sod it I'll do another lap. So after the usual drink refill etc and a toilet break I headed out for lap 11 and my next milestone and one I was not expecting to get today, 100 kilometers. I got round and crossed the finish line to applause from other runners waiting for their team members and called it a day. I had enough time to go out again but I'd already achieved more than I'd thought I would so opted for a bacon and egg roll instead.

A knackered me with my lovely new medal

After getting rather messy with runny egg from the breakfast roll I went over to check my confirmed laps just to be sure I'd not miscounted and sure enough there it was, 11 laps. That's 65 miles or 105 kilometers in new money. I was officially very pleased.

So would I do this event again. Quite simply yes. It was well organised, the marshaling was great as they both informed and encouraged us runners round. One took my name as I passed and cheered me by name every time I passed by him after that. The location is also much prettier than I'd expected, and relatively easy for me to get to, the M25 willing. Also it's a good and mostly flat route though you need to be used to running on multiple surfaces as it switches from grass to tarmac to gravel, to mud to soft woodland trails. I'd say that this event is actually hardest on the feet and mine were no exception. So if you want to try a fun, friendly, well organised 24 hour running event near London then this is the one for you. Oh yes and the t-shirt was one of the very best I've ever got and the medal is cracking, though my daughter's trying to steal it off me as she wants it. \Lastly because you get actual Spitfires doing flyby's, bloody Spitfires - bloody brilliant.

UPDATE: Results have been published as I was 13th in the male solo category and, if I can add up which is debateable, it seems 18th overall - very very pleased.