Green Belt Relay

Sunshine, map reading, cider, a bus called Phoenix, and running round the M25 – what more could you want from a weekend?!

The Green Belt Relay is a 22-stage race around 220 miles of the Green Belt round the outside of London over a weekend.  Each team has 11 people and the Chasers had 3 teams participating with around 30 others – it looked like it was going to be a scorcher.


My alarm went off at 5am on Saturday morning, which seemed slightly outrageous, but I tried to remember it was supposed to be a fun weekend and dragged myself out of bed.  I met Frankie and we walked to Clapham Junction to meet the rest of the group where our 3 minibuses were waiting.  

As the most important factor of the weekend was to simply enjoy ourselves, Bryn had done an amazing job organising us into teams with a good mix of runners so we could all have a bit of banter and compete amongst ourselves.  This also meant the strongest runners opted for the tougher legs (chose/forced/blackmailed….) which I was eternally grateful for  – I think some of the legs would have almost killed me!

This isn’t your usual kind of race, as there were only 30 odd runners on each leg chances are you would be by yourself for at least some of the race.  One of the race rules is that you carry a copy of the stage map with you, however, for the navigationally challenged (me…Ruth…Hayley…) a map doesn’t always have the answer so I was worried!

Bryn and Hayley had created packs for everyone that included maps of our selected legs, our race number, and details of which minibus we would start and finish the day on so we knew where to put our ‘pre-run bag’ and ‘post-run bag’.  It was quite a logistical challenge to organise 33 people over the course of the weekend and Bryn had clearly put a lot of time into a very complicated spreadsheet outlining timings and locations.  He  really couldn’t have made it any easier for us – which obviously meant we were all confused…turns out we’re not that bright (sorry Bryn!)

We all headed to the start at Hampton Court to collect some race bits and see our first stage runners, Pete, Luke and Marcus, off at 8.30am, before going our separate ways.  We had a group WhatsApp which allowed us to all stay in touch (particularly useful when people still ended up on the wrong bus…Cat, Chris…) and have some banter.  We came up with some team names – Team 1 – Luther Van Lost, Team 2 – No Direction and Team 3 – Marooned 11…

Pre race briefing at Hampton Court


I was in Team 1 and on the second leg with Ruth and Kim which was 9.6 miles from Staines (aaaiiiiii) to Boveney Church.  The route went through Runnymede, Datchet and Windsor, mostly along the river, and had a difficulty rating of 3 out of 10 (with 10 defined as bloody hard!).

All the stages start at a fixed time, rather than when your runner reaches the finish, to make the event run smoothly.  Clutching our maps, the stage was set off at 9.42 and we had a fair few Chasers cheering us over the start line.  It was hot, very hot considering how early it was, so my energy started draining at some point running through a field, getting stung by nettles, that I desperately hoped was the right way after losing sight of the guy in front of me…  Maybe it was time to check the map?

I heard someone shouting my name and realised Kim was just behind me – never been so happy to see her!  We finished the rest of the course together which was helpful as she was a brilliant navigator (having studied the map much better than I had seemed to).  A fair amount of the route was off road, which slowed us down, but it was pretty with a good view of Windsor Castle and there were several marshal points offering water which was gratefully received in the heat!


There were people waiting for us at the finish, cheering us on, and I was done, hot, hot, too hot.  Laying on the grass in a heap Chris said, ‘sorry to rush you but we really need to get going – one of the other buses has broken down’  Uh oh…

Back on the bus I found out that Pete, who ran the first stage for our team, had won it outright!  I wasn’t surprised, he’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him kind of runner, but I had very much not won my stage so I felt sad about knocking us some way down the leaderboard after we had such a strong start (goal for next year – learn how to run).

The 2 functional buses made their way to the broken bus (later to be named Phoenix after it was resurrected) so we could rearrange people and get runners to stage 5 at Great Kingshill.  Unfortunately, this meant we were delayed and Mike, Frankie and Cat started 25 minutes late – not ideal for a 13.5 mile leg rated 10…aka bloody hard.

A broken down Phoenix…


We collected the stage 4 runners from Great Kingshill (having also ran a 10/10 leg) and headed to stage 7 in St Albans to be reunited with Phoenix (which was now working) so some of us could marshal and welcome the stage 6 runners, Chris, Clare and Sophie, home.  

Phoenix had turned everything into a bit of a logistical nightmare with some runners not getting their bags at the end of their runs, people in different places than planned, more drivers needed (Pete ended up spending most of the day driving) and people having to swap legs, but we wouldn’t let it ruin the day! 


A group of us on Phoenix went to marshal stage 10, somewhere in Essex, and we found out Hayley had also had a fantastic run to win her stage, not only for the ladies and Chasers (and Team 1) but outright – she’s pretty phenomenal! 

During my marshaling responsibilities I accidentally sent a Serpie the wrong way – I genuinely didn’t mean to but it put Chris in second place who was conveniently a Chaser!  After we sent the final 2 runners in the right direction (who ignored the map and got completely lost) it was time to head to the end of the last stage of the day to welcome the Chasers home.  

We also discovered that bloody Phoenix also didn’t lock very easily – you wouldn’t have though it was a brand new vehicle…maybe Phoenix is an ex Serpie bus?

Chris and I trying to be helpful


As it was now about 8pm, and we had a table at Strada booked for 9, we needed to go straight to the restaurant without a post run shower, lovely!  The Saturday night Chelmsford clientele were clearly unimpressed with our efforts, and we got more than one  funny look – Steve still had mud on his face!  

I suppose it might be the first time they’ve seen a group of sweaty, smelly runners, possibly ever, but definitely traipsing through their town whilst they were ready for a night of twerking in 5 inch heels, 2 inches of make-up and an orange tan – there was definitely twerking, we witnessed some (poor) twerking.

After some food and much deserved wine we headed to the Miami Hotel (Essex’s finest) and got to bed sometime around 1am.  And how did the teams stand?  We were in 9th, 10th & 11th overall (pretty good considering the 25 minute penalty) – Chasers 3, 1 and 2 respectively – with very little in it there was all to play for in day two!


Sunday’s 6am alarm was delightful and we were off again.  I was on the second leg on Sunday, a shorter 6.6 mile stage from Thorndon Park to Cranham, with Clare and Sophie.  It was only rated 2 out of 10 but it warned it was a complex, twisty course with a mixture of fiddly urban turns, woods and fields – what could go wrong?  Our minibus headed straight to Thorndon Park  and we sat in the sun studying the map – I was determined to be more prepared today, it felt a bit like revising for an exam.

As we set off I was pretty confident I knew the map – but that didn’t mean it would make sense in real life (for example, does coming off of a dirt track onto grass mean the end of a path?? Apparently not…).  I enjoyed the run a lot more than Saturday even though it was still hot – the course went through some wooded areas and there was a fair amount of downhill.  It went well until around 5 miles where I came across the is it/isn’t it the end of the path bit but eventually I came out of the woods and down the home straight.


Sunday went a lot more smoothly with all buses in order, although I think Sophie would say her stint behind the wheel through very narrow country lanes was tougher than her running stages, I didn’t envy her!  There were some more tough legs today, including a hilly 13.3 miler, which the boys nailed, and a technical route along the North Downs Way finishing at the top of Box Hill, everyone ran really well.

Our bus (Phoenix, obviously) didn’t have marshaling duties today so we concentrated on dropping off and picking up runners before finding a spare half an hour later in the day for a vodka and diet coke in a can – cheers!

Yep, we took a selfie..


The final leg finished at Hawker Leisure Centre in Kingston where there was a lot of support for the final runners, Juan, Natalie (first lady!) and Ruth, and there were drinks and a BBQ.  It was time to celebrate!

The final results put the Chasers teams in 8th, 9th and 10th overall with Team 1 in the lead clocking a total time of 27 hurs 56 mins – job done!  After some drinks in Battersea, Frankie, Sham and I couldn’t resist last orders in the pub on the way home…



The Green Belt Relay was an awesome weekend with awesome people – thanks to everyone who came, especially Bryn, for being an organisational genius, and all the drivers who became experts at maneuvering minibuses everywhere from country lanes to car parks to motorways.  

I genuinely can’t think of a better way to spend my weekend than running round the M25 in the sun!  It seems the only people who believe me are the ones I was with…

Can’t wait for next year, but Phoenix is most definitely not allowed to come!


Owning the Night

Last year Nike’s We Own The Night 10k was one of my favourite events ever.  Unfortunately, as with all good things, this year didn’t quite match 2013 but I still had a wicked night with some booze, some dancing, some pampering and some running!

The organisers had clearly taken on board feedback from last year and changed the Victoria Park course to make it wider as well as introducing guest wrist bands to allow supporters into the race village.


The weather wasn’t on our side and Gemma and I arrived at Bethnal Green to heavy but sporadic showers – quite a difference to lazing around on beanbags in the sunshine last year!  We quickly put our names down for a manicure in the Elle tent (we could only get a post race appointment even though we were there early) but there was no free copies of the mag.

New this year was a hair section where you could sit and use some dry shampoo or styling products – we took some flower clips for our hair!



We went to explore the other areas of the race village, where we got a back massage, before heading to the bar for a quick pint of cider before the run….well, I was under instructions to take it easy after a lot of racing so I thought what the hell?!

We did get a few peculiar looks from other runners…



The start area was much better this year with 6 different zones rather than 3 – no one was checking the wristbands though so you could have gone anywhere really (Gemma had lost hers and had no problems getting to the front).  They had a separate VIP line at the very front so there was no starting with Paula this time but we scooted our way forwards!



The route was 2 laps – the first 5k was fine after some people dodging in the first few minutes and there was plenty of music and bands on the way round including 2 party tunnels with flashing lights and music.  Run Dem Crew were there in force and, in the absence of a Chaser crowd, they are definitely the next best thing!

Run Dem Crew sharing the love and the party tunnels



The second lap didn’t run quite so smoothly.  As soon as I passed the 5k marker the course became very congested.  They had obviously decided to set the groups off in waves with gaps inbetween which makes sense…unless it’s not a 2 lap course!

The second half of the race was hard work with a lot of weaving & diving and running on the grass to get through.  I’m sure it was just as annoying to have people continuously brush past you as it was for those on the second lap. Definite area of improvement.

At about 8k I had most definitely decided drinking a pint of cider before running was a very bad idea, I felt a bit queasy…  The finish line came around and there was a big sign saying ‘the party starts here!’  We were given a goody bag and there was a table of Vita Coconut water so I stocked up on a few boxes.  I saw Gemma (who was delighted with her PB – cider made her run faster!) and we made our way out to collect our Alex Monroe finishers necklace – a nice touch for a women’s only race.




We went back to the Elle tent to have our manicure (Nails Inc, teal, very nice!) and spent the rest of the evening dancing in a festival atmosphere where Nick Grimshaw was the DJ.  Disappointingly, they issued a token in the goody bag for a glass of prosecco this year, rather than an unlimited supply, so we made sure we went back to the pub for last orders before panicking we had missed the last tube home!


I’m not really sure about what I think of women’s only events, I prefer running in mixed races (where I can pick the men off one by one as I run past them…) but Nike do a good job with this one and, with the guest passes, it was definitely more inclusive this year even if I did have to compromise on the prosecco!

Good job Nike – maybe change the course to a single lap next year though?


Being a Warrior is hard

The Warrior Adrenaline Race (WAR):

” A tough 10k run across Dunstable Downs including lots of obstacles, hills and muddy terrain…The obstacles and course are designed by our Ex-Army Physical Training Instructors who used similar courses to get our troops fit!”

When Laura suggested we take part I tried to think of an acceptable reason to politely decline her offer but I really couldn’t think of one.  So I had to say yes.

Obstacle courses require upper body strength, balance, control, co-ordination and a strong core.  I have none of these things.  I am exceptionally bad at obstacle courses…


We got a team of 4 together and named ourselves Team Holy Moly after Laura exclaimed, ‘Holy moly what have we done?!  It seemed apt.  In a pitiful attempt to prepare for the event we got together for a couple of self run ‘boot camp’ sessions in Green Park (this allowed the Queen to watch us).

We attempted a series of sprints, burpees, planks, push-ups, star jumps, tricep dips, hanging from a tree like a monkey (vital for monkey bar success), making human tunnels and crawling through them (vital skill for avoiding barbed wire in the bum) and running like Phoebe from Friends (vital for laughter and attracting strange looks from tourists).   Try it – I dare you!



However, I wasn’t convinced our 2 sessions would quite be enough to grant us true Warrior status…

We went up to Leighton Buzzard on the Friday night train with a can of M&S Pina Colada/G&T (very Warrior like) and stayed with Laura’s family who were very hospitable and fed us big plates of pasta and red wine to prepare us.

It was a fairly easy trip to Dunstable Downs in the morning but it was a large open space so very windy and cold!!  At registration they gave us a WAR body sticker/tattoo thing with your wave number on instead of a number, so I stuck it to my cheek. Quite a good idea really – my race number in the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest was ripped off in the early stages of the race!

There was also an army dude with camouflage face paints making everyone look like Warriors so we got into the spirit of things.


Team Holy Moly got involved with the warm up and at 10.30 our wave set off.  We started running in a zig zag on the grass (the whole course was off road)  before reaching the first obstacle – giant steps.  There were a couple more, including a barbed wire crawl, run up a hill with a weighted bergen and a ladder thing before a stretch of running.

There was actually more running than I had anticipated, I think it was because the obstacles were grouped together rather than spaced evenly but it definitely seemed like more than Survival of the Fittest.  I didn’t mind though, even the hills, the running was the bit I could actually do!

Ladder Thing…


For the next obstacle you had to pull yourself up a steep slope with a rope, get over the top and climb down the other side. Simple? Maybe for most people but my foot slipped, I went splat and had to be yanked up by the army dude.  Everyone gave me a cheer when I reached the top though!

There was a stretch of running with a log (for some reason I picked a big one?!), a spider web thing which hurt if you got pinged by it, some balance challenges and tunnels as well as some fairly steep hills to run up.  When we reached the Monkey Bars I was relieved to see another army dude helping people across.  I definitely would have fallen off by myself – turns out hanging from trees isn’t the best preparation after all…who knew?

Barbed Wire Crawl…


When we got towards the end of the running we got to the bigger obstacles and, as this was near the finish area, lots of spectators!  One of these involved climbing some scaffolding (no problem) and jumping off onto a big crash mat 5 meters below (problem).

Not sure what happened but I was up there for several minutes before jumping off – jumping off and kneeing myself in the face upon landing after ignoring instructions (well, I didn’t actually ignore them, my body just didn’t do what I told it so it wasn’t my fault)

Zip Wire…(I don’t know who this is but it’s the only picture I could find!)


Team Holy Moly waited for me so, with bruised face, we went off to the firemans pole (which I skipped like a loser and now wish I hadn’t), zip wire (so much fun), freezing cold dip tank (which involved ducking under logs 3 times, brrrr), a slide on a big mat (weeeeeeee), some more crawling and paintball!!

Paintball wasn’t on the list of obstacles so I’m guessing this was the unspecified ‘new obstacle’ – they gave me a helmet and I sprinted across the danger zone narrowly avoiding getting hit.  Unfortunately Laura and Helen both took a paintball to the leg and ended up with lumpy bruises – ouch.

Finally there was the big wall and then the finish line.  Team Holy Moly completed the challenge – wet, cold & dirty!


The Warrior Adrenaline Race was fun!  There’s a 5k or 10k option with people setting off in several waves to help keep congestion on the course to a minimum.  There was about a 5 minute wait at one of the obstacles but the rest were fairly quick moving.  I thought it was quite well organised with all the obstacles manned with at least 1 army dude who were willing to help if needed.

The only complaint I would have is the lack of water – there was 1 water station on the route but there were no drinks at all at the end which I thought was quite poor.  We did get a medal and a t-shirt though.

The only thing that’s worrying me now is what’s next for Team Holy Moly, I have a feeling it’s not over yet…


Why I Ran 2 Marathons in 2 Weeks

People say I’m impulsive.  They say that I rush into things.

Two days after I returned home from the Rome Marathon I entered the Manchester Marathon…and I would be running it a week later, so they may very well be right!


I didn’t peak in Rome, I knew that much for sure, and I felt like I had wasted months of training – I was looking for redemption and I still wanted a sub 3.45 to qualify for London GFA.  Physically I felt OK, sure I felt like I had been on a long run but I definitely didn’t feel like I had after previous marathons and, given my pace was a fair bit slower than my training runs, I guess this wasn’t surprising.  Most importantly I didn’t have any injury niggles, if I did I wouldn’t have even considered it as I knew it was a risk to run a marathon so soon anyway.

I was aware the Manchester Marathon was 2 weeks after Rome and I was pleasantly surprised/scared they were still taking entries so late.  Claiming to be the flattest marathon in the UK (I’m not entirely sure about that but we’ll come to that later!) I couldn’t help but sign up, surely it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t miss?!

Was I mad?


I didn’t keep it a secret but I didn’t tell  lot of people, mostly because I didn’t want to hear that it was a bad idea and I shouldn’t do it!  I took advice from some more experienced runners in the Chasers and was happy that they didn’t tell me it was a stupid idea –  instead they told me to focus on rest and recovery.  So I did.

A couple of Chasers were also running  Manchester and they invited me to post race lunch.  I was pleased to have some friends to celebrate with at the finish, a lonely marathon runner is a sad marathon runner after all.

I was aware that achieving the ultimate goal would be somewhat unlikely after Rome but I figured I had nothing to lose and running 2 marathons in 2 weeks would be a new achievement anyway. Win win?!

So Saturday came around and, questioning my sanity again, I headed to Manchester with just a backpack and bag full of food (travelling light is a challenge it itself for me, what do you mean I can’t take 4 pairs of shoes?!).  I made my way to Old Trafford to pick up my number from the race village which was in the car park.  It was most definitely the smallest race village/expo I’ve ever seen…


However, there was no queuing, the staff were friendly and it did the job!  I headed to my hotel to put my feet up and eat more food.

The hotel was in a fairly quiet area so I was glad I had planned ahead and made a big tub of tuna pasta for dinner, it also meant I could relax and not leave the room for the rest of the day.  Having learnt from Rome I took a big pot of tea bags & milk and proceeded to drink 2 cups of tea at a time to ensure my caffeine intake was up  (well, the cups were small!)

Arriving at the race village the next morning (with Martin Yelling no less) there was a lot more going on and I picked up a pace band from the Asics tent.  Whilst I was queuing I gave my parents a call to let them know what I was up to as I hadn’t told them my plans.  They were a tad surprised!  The bag drop was quick and fuss free and, whilst there was a queue, there were a lot more toilets than in Rome, phew!  Heading for the start line I made my way through the crowd to get to the 3.45 pacer, Ben.

I believe the race was started by Ron Hill but I didn’t see him.  A group us us ran with Ben and the pace felt OK, I most definitely would have gone off too fast without him.  If I’m honest I didn’t really notice much of the course, I simply concentrated on running, so I couldn’t tell you what I saw.  I did notice the course wasn’t as flat as I thought it would be though!  It wasn’t hilly but I’m sure there were more inclines than in London…

There were a couple of switchbacks early on and I shouted out to Keith and Matt in their Chasers vests.  At mile 9 I saw my friend Kim who had come to support Keith, she cheered and shouted and I was pleased to see a friendly face.

I was impressed with the water stations, rather than bottles (that are a hazard when discarded), or cups (which are difficult to drink from whilst moving), they supplied pouches which were very easy to carry and water only came out when you squeezed it.   They’re also much less of a problem when on the race course as if you tread on them they simply squirt out any left over water.  Why don’t all races have these?

At half way I was still feeling good but I wasn’t convinced my legs could go the whole way at the pace I wanted them to.  At mile 16 I started to drop back and I saw Kim again.  She jogged alongside me whilst I started chatting.  She told me to stop talking and get on with running – fair enough!

Mile 16…still smiling!


From about mile 18 I knew I wouldn’t finish under 3.45 but I kept pushing.  I think the last 6 miles were more challenging than any other marathon I’ve run (and I’m sure it was all on a gentle incline!) but mentally I was feeling tough and I kept going.

The crowd support was great, unfortunately as a late entrant my name wasn’t printed on my number but  everyone still cheered me on, it really does help!

As I ran back towards Old Trafford the crowds lined the street and I crossed the line in 3.56.  The finish was smooth and quick and I got my medal, water and goody bag in minutes.  In fact I got 2 goody bags because whilst I was debating if I wanted the small or extra small t-shirt (always difficult to know with unisex sizes) the man gave me both!


I saw Kim and Keith waving and was very grateful they waited for me (for an hour!!), as I didn’t think I would find my way to the pub for lunch by myself.  We shuffled along to Salford Quays where I refueled on a chicken burger and cider (Kopperberg, which apparently is wanky London stuff…)

I eventually got home at 8pm and was absolutely exhausted (although Liam Gallagher was on my train so that made it more interesting, shame I both looked and smelt like a tramp).  I ate 2 bagels and went to bed, yes, 2!

I thought the Manchester Marathon was very well organised, especially after Rome.  The only small thing I would change would be to add some kind of sports drink at some of the stations.  I never drink a lot of this but I often get a craving for it in the later stages.  They did give out Shot Bloks though which I’m a big fan of (a bit strange to hear people shouting out ‘shots’ in the middle of a marathon!)

The race village, marshaling, water stations, crowd support and even the finish area were fantastic.

I would definitely recommend the Manchester Marathon but would I recommend running it 2 weeks after Rome? Only if you’re as tough as me!


What I learnt from this marathon is that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.  Last year I thought running 2 marathons in a year would be too much for me but now I’ve run 4 in the last 12 months including 2 in the last 2 weeks!  I’ve also been overwhelmed by the support I received from everyone offering advice, encouragement and, most importantly, their faith.  Thank you.

The only problem now of course is that I have a double dose of the post marathon blues…


Maratona di Roma…ice cream, pizza and running

I was initially going to call this post ‘Where did it all go wrong?’ but, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that was unfair and would indicate that I hadn’t enjoyed the race which simply isn’t true.  Sure, there were ups and downs (mentally and physically what with the hills) but hell I was running round ROME!

I arrived in Rome on the Friday night to leave plenty of time to settle and go to the Expo, plus I couldn’t think of a better place in the world to carb up!  The Expo was a little out of town – the queue was pretty long and Katherine, James and I found ourselves queuing across a road that cars were still trying to drive on…this was the first organisational fail.

We (or rather James) was amused by the people dressed up as New Balance trainers and he insisted we pose for a photo for the Chasers site (funny innit).  Collecting our race packs was petty simple but leaving the Expo was not – you’re forced around numerous stands in little more than single file and you get told off if you try to sneak out!  The goody bags were much better than Frankfurt though with a New Balance backpack, technical t-shirt, sports drink and (obviously) some dried pasta!


When we eventually got out we stopped for pizza and I headed back to the hotel for some rest.  Travelling, tapering and excitement is all very exhausting!  I went out again in the evening to meet my friends Ruth, Nathan and Paul for dinner and then got an early night.  We arranged to meet at 8am at the Arch of Constantine for an 8.50 race start.  Simple?

Well, not so much… I sprang out of bed when my alarm went off and made myself some porridge with the little kettle in my room and left the hotel at 7.30.  We were all staying in different places so I headed off towards to Colosseum on my planned route to meet my friends.

However, the route I was planning on was closed off and we were sent round the houses (or round the ruins should I say…) which was beautiful but I didn’t have a clue where I was and even less idea where the Arch was, there were loads of arches?!   Following the crowd I realised I would be starting alone, alone in the rain.

Oh, did I mention it was raining?


Attempting to drop my bag off was the next challenge and next organisational fail.  I ended up trying to push my way upsteam in an overly crowded area to the female baggage drop which was, of course, at the very back.  Without meaning to offend, I found the Italian men very rude.  There was pushing and shoving and elbows in the face, no chivalry here!

It wasn’t a great start, I was stressed.  Of course when I finally managed to get rid of my bag I had to fight my way back down again, the clock was ticking and I couldn’t start a marathon without going to the toilet first!

Mr New Balance showed up for race day…


The next fail was the lack of signs and toilets – it looked like there were just 8 portaloos and there was no systematic queuing.  I waited for maybe 15 minutes in torrential rain (hail at one point) before coming to the conclusion I would miss the start if I waited any longer and I was no closer to the loo.

So I did what any self respecting athlete would do moments before the gun – I peed in a bush.  I met another woman doing the same, she didn’t understand a word of English but we understood each other!

I rushed off to the start area where there was more congestion and no way to get through to my start pen – there were only 4 but I was in Pen C and really didn’t want to be at the back of Pen D.  But I was.  Eventually we got to some railings that separated the start pens but no one was checking who went where and it was a chaotic free for all.  I got into Pen C, relieved, but my relief didn’t last when I realised all the pens merged into one a few metres later and I was no better off than I was before. CHAOS, ARRGHHHHHHH


As soon as I got over the start line I was weaving and weaving in and out of people ‘scusi’, ‘excuse me’, ‘pardon’, ‘MOVE’ .  By this point I gave up and just started shoving my way through which was met by some angry shouts in Italian. Don’t have a clue what they were saying but it probably wasn’t pleasant.  Whatever.

All my early miles were 20-25 seconds slower than I wanted them to be and by mile 7 I realised I wouldn’t be able to make the time back.  I think at that point I mentally gave up.  I was delighted to bump into Ruth who was full of positivity, I thought about trying to keep up with her but, mentally I was out of the game and she sped off.  I knew she would nail it.

The route was pretty awesome.  Starting near the Colosseum the course wound round the city and along the river taking in temples and churches, passing St Peters Square and the Vatican, through Piazza Navona, round Piazza del Popolo, past the Spanish Steps and back towards the Altar of the Fatherland (which is a spectacular if controversial monument) and the Colosseum to take you to the finish line. There’s plenty to look at!


There were cobbles, but I was prepared for that and they weren’t really that noticeable for the most part, even in the wet.  There were also some inclines but they were tolerable and the declines were enjoyable.

The water stations were a disaster.  There was no water! At least no water readily available, you had to grab a cup and wait for someone to slosh a bit of water in – they weren’t generous with it either, were they rationing water on race day?!  I dread to think how much worse it would have been on a warmer day.

There was Gatorade and food stations with oranges, bananas and biscuits as well as some other bits.  I didn’t have any food but Paul had a full on picnic…he still beat me by some way!

Through a combination of a chaotic start, slow early miles, lack of organised water stations and generally feeling not quite right (I realised too late this was caffeine withdrawal, my usual 10 cuppas a day had been reduced to none…error!) I finished in a disappointing 4.04.

I got a lift when a group of British people shouted ‘go on the Brits, go on Katherine’, and James shouted at me with his little daughter Jessica at 36k. I’ll also never forget the look on Nathan’s face when he saw me walking at 37k – a combination of pity and errr, what are you doing?!  ‘Just 5k, just 5k‘, he said.  But 5k seemed so far…

Some thoughts I had whilst I was running:

  • Get out of my way
  • Italian men are rude
  • I’m never running a marathon ever again
  • Maybe I’ll give it one last shot in Amsterdam
  • Ooooo look at that!
  • I’m going to pull out
  • No, I really really want that medal
  • Oooo look at the pretty big building
  • Oh good, it’s raining again
  • Why do the Italians think a shot of water will get me through the next 5k?
  • I wonder what that building is…
  • Why are there twice as many sponges as cups of water?
  • I’ve just put my entire foot in a puddle, perfect
  • Does the Pope live there?
  • I’m embarrassingly uneducated
  • I’ve just been overtaken by a man with a distinctive limp
  • Whhhaaaaaaaa
  • I’m never running a marathon ever again…

As I rounded the corner from the Altar of the Fatherland I saw what could be the finish.  However, my Garmin was well over 26.2 and I didn’t want to get my hopes up, from the experience I’d had so far it could be a decoy!  Luckily it wasn’t.


Marathon number 5, and my 3rd international, was completed.  Job done, now where’s that medal!!

The post race goody bags, which contained all the drinks, was just as chaotic as everything else.  Pushing, shoving, elbowing.  Frankfurt may only have had cups of water at the finish but at least there was plenty of it and I didn’t have to fight!  I was ready to get out – it was a shame I didn’t see any of my friends at the end, especially as Katherine had run a similar time, if I had known we could have run together.

Anyway, I made it back to the hotel for a shower and a snooze then headed out for dinner and celebrations.

image   image

The Rome Marathon is a beautiful course in a beautiful city but it’s not well organised.  As long as you go expecting that, and maybe even taking your own water, you should enjoy it.  I really do love Rome.

What did I learn from this marathon?  The Italians are not good at organising events but they are awesome at making ice cream.  I tried 9 different flavours.  Well, when in Rome…


Race Review: Brighton Half

It’s fair to say the weather has been pretty wild.  As I drove down to Brighton on Saturday afternoon my car swayed in the wind and the rain came down so hard I could barely see the road…it could be a tough run along the seafront in the morning.  However, there were no signs of the event being called off despite the promenade looking like this…


The organisers promised to clear the stones and the weather even promised all day sunshine – we would be very lucky if conditions were favourable.

My alarm went off at 6 and I sneaked downstairs for porridge and tea trying not to wake my cousin who I had stayed with.  She fed me a big plate of pasta and salmon the night before, complete with some go-faster sticky toffee pudding (I’m sure that’s what it was called…), so  I was fueled and ready to go.

The Brighton Half has been on my list for a while – I know there have been problems in the past, in 2012 the race came under fire for coming in long at 13.42 miles.  They blamed ‘human error’ but it didn’t go down well with PB hunters.  Learning from mistakes, they seemed to turn it around last year and, following winning the title of ‘Most Improved Race’ in Runners World 2013 Personal Best Awards, the 2014 race sold out in June.  I had fairly high expectations for a good race and a fun day.


I had’t really thought through the logistics when I entered last year but, when the race pack arrived, I realised I needed to be down at Madeira Drive, where the race started, at 8am.  I live in London.  That would be an early/middle of the night start then!  Luckily my cousin lives down the road and didn’t mind me staying the night before so I could get up a a reasonable time.

My other cousin (also a local!) walked me down to the start bright and early and wished me luck before I headed off to find the baggage area…I walked…and walked…where was it?!  I started to panic that I would have time to hand my bag in and go to the loo before the start.  I have to say some signs wouldn’t have gone amiss, but I made it to the start line in good time bumped into a few Chasers.  A friendly smile and matching vest is always good to see!



The route took us up to the Royal Pavilion and St Peter’s Church, then headed east along the front towards the Marina which involved a steady incline to the cliff top.  It was a glorious day, the sun was out and I was feeling warm but managed to keep a steady pace despite the hill.

We then turned back on ourselves towards the pier which offered some stunning sea views.  Although the incline wasn’t particularly steep, the decline was welcome by this point.  We ran past Brighton Pier and the West Pier, with great crowd support, but by mile 8 I was really starting to feel it.  I think I was too hot and dehydrated – long sleeves were definitely an error.

I really wasn’t sure about the mile makers and several other people also mentioned this.  Mile 1 popped up with 7.05 on my watch and I knew I wasn’t running that fast, then mile 5 appeared when my watch said 5.16 miles.  I was starting  to wonder if the distance would be wrong again…

Past the piers, the route headed into Hove along the Kings Road and up to Hove Lagoon before turning left onto the seafront.  The organisers had done a brilliant job of clearing the stones and the path was relatively clear.  By mile 10 I was really thirsty and woozy and thought it was a good idea to down half a bottle of Lucozade.  It wasn’t.  Of course it wasn’t.

After that I readjusted my goal from ‘finish under 1.45’ to ‘get to mile 12 without puking and you’ll be fine’.   Maybe it was the heavy marathon mileage in my legs, or last Sundays 19 miler, it could have even been the sun, but I was finding the last few miles really tough.  This was my shortest long run in ages and my pace was fairly controlled (mostly because the incline stopped me speeding off!) so I wasn’t sure why.

My pace slowed as we headed back to Madeira Drive, where the finish line was, but not as much as I thought at the time.  The crowds were lining the street either side and, despite really wanting to stop and walk, it obviously wasn’t an option so I pushed on.  Heading into the last half mile the screaming crowds got thicker and they spurred me right to the finish.  Thanks Brighton!

I finished in 1.46.49 but, despite missing my goal, it was a pretty good tempo run in preparation for Rome which is now less than 5 weeks away!

With Nick & James at the finish.  They beat me!



After the race I took a short walk back to my cousins where she had laid out a buffet lunch.  I wasn’t expecting to be fed so I was more than excited by the homemade bread, chicken fresh from the oven, salad and strawberries!  After some family time I popped in to see a friend on the way home and made it back to London at about 7.  I was exhausted, totally exhausted!

Yesterday hurt, I could definitely feel it.  In fact, it hurt more than 19 miles the week before.  But that just means I was working hard right?!

In summary, the Brighton Half is a glorious race along the seafront with PB potential if conditions are favourable.  It’s well oraganised with a great atmosphere and awesome crowds.  Although I can’t remember how much the entry was, it was no more than any other big race, with a decent medal and a goody bag full of food!

Would I do the Brighton Half again? Definitely.  If you’re keen I would enter quickly when registration opens!


A Date With The Devil…

“Brooks HellRunner offers trail running at its toughest and most enjoyable. 10 -12 miles of challenging off-road running… tough, twisting trails… including the famed Hills of Hell and the Bog of Doom!

The Finish will bring redemption… but only to successful HellRunners.


Shivering uncontrollably, covered in mud, and with my fingers so cold I couldn’t even bend them to untie my shoelaces, I swore I would never ever do HellRunner ever, ever again…

…yesterday I completed the insane course for the 4th time.  I have honestly never been so cold in my life.

It was -6 on a cold November morning in 2010, (that’s 6 whole degrees below freezing) and myself and 3 friends had just run a 10 mile trail race around Longmoor Military Camp.  When I say ran, we scrambled up and down the never ending ‘Hills of Hell’, splashed through the ‘Bog of Doom’ and shuffled through the ‘River Wade’ then, as if that wasn’t tough enough, about a mile towards the end they hit you with energy zapping sand dunes, if you have any energy left of course.

They say a picture paints a thousand words – I genuinely had no idea this was being taken during the River Wade…


I think I finished in around 2 hours.  I spent the journey home shivering quietly, I just shivered and shivered and I decided I had hated every second of it.  In hindsight I might of even had a mild case of hypothermia, I didn’t even want to eat Percy Pigs!  I had a shower…and I went back to bed.  The next day I could barely move.


Around 9 months later Kate suggested we enter again…ermm, no, no, absolutely NO.  But it was August, it was a warm sunny day, and it was difficult to remember just how painfully cold I had been.  So I signed up!  The Devil had beat me once, it was time for a re-match.

But as the Summer passed, it got colder, race day got nearer and I started to experience mild to moderate panic as I realised what I had committed to.  I was driving this year so there was no getting out of it.  I decided to go a bit nuts on layering, the the year before I had foolishly worn one top so this time I wore 3, and took a post race flask of hot tea.  It would all be OK…

Luckily when the day came it was about 10 degrees warmer than the year before so we took Laura with us as photographer and headed back to the Bog of Doom.  The increase in temperature made a huge difference (in fact I got too hot) and it was actually fun!

I’m not very confident going down the hills and much better at scrambling up them, a man cheekily said to me ‘you run down hills like a girl!’, I remember thinking, ‘I’m still beating you though aren’t I?!’  It was all in jest so I didn’t mind.  I was much quicker this time and finished in 1 hour 37 and 32nd female, screw you Devil!

Much happier this time!


When I entered for the 3rd time in 2012 I was supposed to be running with some friends but they all pulled out.  I was running solo!  It was still fun, and much better than the 1st time but it would have been better with some buddies.  It was a gloriously crisp sunny day so conditions were favourable and I really enjoyed it.  I decided it would probably be my last.


The 2013 event was postponed from November to January this year due to military training but I had no intention of doing it.  On a whim, I entered a Brooks competition and I won!  The prize was VIP entry to Hell Up North, Brooks Cascadia Trail Shoes, some funky capris, a t-shirt and a cosy hoody!

The only problem was that I live in London and the North event is in Chester (about 1 million miles away) and it was just 6 days after the Frankfurt Marathon (I clearly didn’t read the details when I entered).  Even if I did get there it would have been pretty risky so soon after that.  I was gutted.

I emailed the Brooks lady and asked her if I could transfer my entry to the South event (including pictures of previous participation so she could see I was a committed HellRunner!)  To my surprise she said yes and sent me all the goodies!  And so I was entered for a 4th time.

Awesome Brooks kit


Over the last 2 weeks we’ve had torrential rain in the UK, it pretty much hasn’t stopped and caused some serious flooding.  Combined with post Christmas blues and my desire not to get injured I decided I wasn’t going to run, I was adamant.

By Friday evening I had a sore throat, I knew I was getting ill, and it was still raining but I found myself packing my bag for the morning, just in case.  I didn’t sleep much and woke up with a raging sore throat and even more heavy rain.  But could I really be a DNS on my first race of 2014?  OOooohhhhh!!

I got up, ate my porridge and went through the motions.  It was absolutely pouring with rain and, knowing the course, I really didn’t want to go. But I did.

The rain slashed down the whole way there, to the point where I couldn’t see the road, and I genuinely wondered why I wasn’t still in bed.  Why was I so inconceivably off-my-face mental???  The forecast for Longmoor was 100% chance of rain all morning.  This really would be hell this time.

It was a relief to see other people when I got there, people who were as mental as me. I wasn’t going to be running alone!  I wrapped everything in plastic bags, pulled my hood up and went to the start area.  To be honest it did seem much quieter this year.

Previously I don’t remember getting properly dirty until the Bog of Doom around 6-7 miles in but this year I had mud in my eye after the first 1.5 miles and had already jumped into a waist deep ‘puddle’.  The course, although different from other years (not sure if this was deliberate or due to the weather) was horrendous.  Thick, sludgey, 6 inch deep clay mud type stuff and blocks of water to jump in every few meters.  Whilst I don’t mind this, and it was actually quite fun, it was near on impossible to run for most of it (unless you were willing to risk life & limb which I was not!).  It was slow going, and that made you cold.  There was also a lot more bottlenecking than I remember and some waiting around in places but people were friendly.

The hills come thick and fast and hit you hard. If you’re lucky there’s a tree or branch or barbed fence to desperately cling to as you slip and slide all over the place.  If not you just clamber around the best you can hoping you don’t get wiped out by someone slipping over behind you.  The hills are relentless, nature at it’s worst (or best..?), if you’re not used to them you’re in for a shock!

The Bog of Doom was deeper than usual.  It’s only ever been chest high before, allowing you to wade through with a smile, but this year it was straight up to my neck and a few steps later I couldn’t feel the bottom, I was swimming through the bloody Bog of Doom and my god it was COLD!!

The cold literally took your breath away and I very almost panicked, why wasn’t I moving forwards?!  The atmosphere is fantastic and spectators line either side to cheer you on but the devil is there to spray thick mist over the bog so you can barely see as you move under the arches of fire.  The Bog of Doom lived up to its name.

Coming out of the bog you’re heavy from all the water and numb from the cold, it’s difficult just to get moving again let alone tackle the next mammoth hill which is even more slippy when you’re soaking wet, but you just have to get on with it, there were still 2 miles to go!  The hills seem to get worse after this point, steeper, longer, muddier.  It might be my imagination but I’m sure they save the ‘best’ for last!

Amazingly the rain stopped just before the start and held off for the whole race, except some light spitting.  My new trail shoes proved to be grippy in all the right places and I was glad I had decided to wear them despite the mud.  The hills were steep and I had to learn to trust them on the declines although some were still much more appropriate to slide down on your bum than attempt upright!

I’m not going to lie, it was the toughest year I’ve run it.  Yesterday I finished the 9.7 mile (according to my Garmin) course in 2 hours 45.  That’s well over an hour slower than my best time.  We won’t mention that again!

I’m not sure I really enjoyed it yesterday, I got very cold and I would have preferred it if I could of run a lot more, but I knew what the course would be like after all that rain.  It was as fantastically organised as ever though with extra marshals at the Bog of Doom to help those in difficulty, however I did miss my For Goodness Shakes drink at the end!

I finished my first race of the year and got a new medal and t-shirt…and bragging rights, I definitely earned those!


HellRunner isn’t an obstacle course like the man-made Tough Mudder, it’s real trail running, in a natural environment, on a military camp, and it’s tough out there.  If you fancy a date with the devil check it out –  they hold 3 events, Hell Up North, Hell in the Middle and Hell Down South.

As for me, I think after 4 dates the devil is dumped!

….although I might change my mind come August…

This years medal and t-shirt are definitely the best!


Facing my Cross Country Demons…

When I was younger I hated running.  HATED it.  My brother would go and win races outright that he was technically too young to compete in, whilst I would take 15 odd minutes just to run a mile.  It really wasn’t my thing, English was my thing, Maths was my thing, not sport.

As you can imagine, school cross country was my worst nightmare.  Some of the girls would sneak off in the early stages and join back in when the group came back around but I don’t remember doing that, I was too goody goody.  So I would struggle round and come last, or nearly last. Cold, muddy and last, I bloody hated it.

When the Chasers stared talking about cross country season and encouraging everyone to get involved I knew I didn’t want to be a part of it.  A few hills and mud don’t bother me anymore, Hellrunner is one of my faves, but XC?  No way. What if I came last?  In a Chasers vest?!  I had the fear.




After volunteering at the Men’s fixture on Mitcham Common (Ruth and I were in charge of making sure everyone’s finishing position was recorded correctly…a big responsibility!) I started to re-think.  Maybe I should face my fears and give it a go?  How bad could it really be…?

The 2nd women’s fixture was at Farthing Downs (the first one wasn’t an option, it was just before Frankfurt and I don’t have the best track record running off road).  There hadn’t been much rain, and it was a nice day considering it was December, so conditions were as favorable as they could be.

I found the Chasesr area near the flag, registered and got my race number as well as a number ‘1’ for my back.  Didn’t even know what that was for.  Ruth was as worried as I was, even more so after she had seen the course and spotted some ugly hills.  Were we having fun yet?

I was still stressing about coming last and being rubbish when Nathan told me that the number 1 on my back meant I was in a division 1 team so I couldn’t come last, look at all the division 2’s!  I was quick to point out that I was in no way responsible for the clubs division 1 status and the number 1 did not necessarily make me a worthy player!  But there was no more time to worry about that, it was 11.55 and we needed to line up.



Finding a warm spot in the middle surrounded by my friendly Chasers my stomach churned.  At lot of these girls looked like ‘proper runners’, they were Surrey’s best, what the hell was I doing here?  Sharing worried glances at Ruth, the man shouted ‘Go!’ and we were off.

These days my pre race nerves tend to be limited to big races, or PB worthy courses, and they subside pretty quickly after the gun.  But not today, 1km in and my stomach was still churning.  It was going to be a long 6k (yep, just 6k and I was still worried) .

The ground was pretty solid but muddy and slippy in places, I didn’t have spikes, just trail shoes, so I was hoping they would give me enough grip.  The ground was slanted so I was constantly leaning one way which didn’t help with the balance issue and then we got to some slippy stone type surface, it didn’t last, but I didn’t like it!


After about 2 miles we got to a flat solid grassy path where I felt much more comfortable and picked up the pace…then I got a stitch, not a bad one but I haven’t had a stitch for years, great!  I can only assume it was from holding my breath whilst negotiating the slippy slopes and tree roots rather than breathing like a normal human being. Idiot.

Trusty support crew cheering us on.  I didn’t see any other clubs with big flags…just saying…



We came to a steep uphill, which I didn’t mind, but it was narrow and I was stuck behind someone slower.  Coming through! I vowed not to let her overtake me again!  There was more support on course by now, people with eyes who were watching.  Then there was an even steeper hill, a total energy zapping lung buster of a hill…I guess this was the one Ruth was talking about.  I briefly walked then realised there was quite a few supporters and this wasn’t acceptable.  Get up the hill.  Now!

People cheering my name helped and then there was the finish!  3.92 miles and I was done.  It hurt.  I was however far from last, all of the Chasers were far from last (ahem…division 1…) so that was a success right?!  Back in the Chaser camp I was offered a piece of James’ homemade marble cake.  Thank you, please, I feel better already!

I woke up on Sunday only slightly achey so Ruth and I ran to Wimbledon Common, did 10 hill sprints (sort of sprints….we ran as fast as we could on post XC legs…) had a cheeky cuppa in the cafe and ran home.   I only clocked up 8 miles yesterday but my legs weren’t going to take me any further, I felt like I had run 18!  I still ache a bit today but I’ve got the club run tonight and track tomorrow… I can’t wait for Wednesday!



26.2 on the streets of Frankfurt

Watching the wind whip the German flag outside the hotel round and round its own pole, and the street sign across the road move back and forth whilst we ate breakfast, it was clear that it was going to be a blustery day.  There was a storm approaching and we were about to run a marathon.  Perfect.

Arriving in Frankfurt on the Friday the weather was quite mild and pleasant, pretty damn good running conditions if it had stayed that way.  The hotel was ideally located less than a 10 minute walk from the Expo and the start line so it didn’t take long to collect our race numbers and goody bags of German magazines, dry pasta and a car air freshener (not the best goody bag…)

The rest of the day was spent taking a stroll through the fairly seedy red light district (apparently one of the largest in the world) and around the City past the Old Opera House and having a coffee in the main square, Romerberg.  It’s fair to say Frankfurt is fairly dull and uninspiring, which was probably a good thing as I didn’t really want to be caught up in being a tourist when I should have been saving energy.  However, the company of my Chaser buddies more than made up for it.

On the Saturday we took part in the 5k Pretzel Breakfast Run.  I’ve never run the day before a marathon before so I was a bit apprehensive but I was ready to try a new tactic and remind myself that I knew how to run.  It was actually enjoyable, despite the very heavy rain before it started which almost made me change my mind – in hindsight I was actually more worried about ‘jogging’ to the start with the boys than the 5k itself (their idea of jogging is my idea of a tempo run…) but they kept it easy!



I spent the rest of Saturday pretty much with my feet up until it was time for dinner.  We’d found a great little Italian that served massive bowls of pasta the night before but they wouldn’t take us.  Who knew finding an Italian to cater for 12 on a Saturday night before a marathon in Germany would be a challenge?!  We convinced another restaurant we would be quick and they let us in – the highlight was James ordering pasta…and a pizza on the side just in case the pasta wasn’t big enough…

I slept pretty well despite the slight stress of the clocks changing, even a full on thunder storm failed to disturb me, and I didn’t wake until 4.30 which is pretty good for the night before a big race.  I had my porridge, worried futilely about the wind and rain and then it was time to go.


As the hotel was so close we didn’t need to leave until an hour before the race started, all we had to do was drop off our bags and line up which was a refreshing change from usual pre-marathon travel panic.

Ruth & I ready to go!


The start area wasn’t as well organised as I expected, it was pretty much a free for all.  It didn’t make much difference to me as I didn’t want to risk going off too fast (lesson learnt!) but the faster runners struggled to get near the front.

We were let off in waves to help congestion but as I crossed the start line the worst thing that could possibly happen at that moment happened.  Despite checking and double checking, my Garmin had gone onto standby.  Panic!!!  I had now started running and my watch was trying to locate satellites in an area of tall buildings whilst I was moving.  Luckily it didn’t take too long, I guessed I lost about 30 seconds before pressing start but I was more worried about my mile splits at that point anyway.

Despite being a fast and flat course, the same course in fact that Kipsang very nearly took the world record on 2 years earlier, fierce winds were going to be a problem. Then there was the rain, rain was forecast from 1.30 and with a late 10.30 start time I would be heading into the tough later miles at this point.  I don’t mind rain but I didn’t really fancy an additional challenge at mile 20!

The first 10k or so winded round the City centre, with crowds of supporters on the street, before heading out along the river Main and back along some kind of duel carriageway(?!) then heading through the City centre again.  Somewhere in that first 10K it started raining, luckily it didn’t last long but the stormy winds were to follow.

There’s a lack of water in the early stages – this made me quite thirsty later on so I had to really slow down at the water stations to be able to drink enough from the paper cups.  I know bottles can be a hazard but at least you can carry them with you and drink more than a couple of sips.  There was also some kind of fizzy drink and cola available, apparently it was flat, but it really wasn’t what I wanted at that point!

I paced well, I went off faster than goal pace but I held it quite steady until 22 miles so I don’t think it was an error.  I saw Ruth at around 26k which really lifted my spirits but we parted ways a few kilometers later.  After 22 miles the wind and fatigue got me, I was too tired to fight the gusts that were pushing me the wrong way.  By this point I knew I was going to miss my 3.45 goal and none of my mental tactics were working to keep me going.  I was sure it was going to end badly.

The finish was pretty spectacular – it ends inside the Festhalle on a red carpet with flashing lights and loud music, it’s a party zone.  It was a shame it didn’t last longer as it was over in a few seconds.  They funnel you out of the hall to collect your medal and there’s tables with various food and drink.  They still weren’t supplying bottles of water though, just poxy cups, why didn’t they understand I was thirsty???



I crossed the finish line in 3.47.29…it wasn’t what I wanted…but it was a PB by 2 minutes.  It’s difficult not to be pleased with a PB, or the fact that I paced pretty well up until the last 4 miles but I still have mixed emotions.

Will I ever actually improve my time?  Whilst it was only 3 minutes quicker than London 6 months ago It was a massive improvement on strategy – it was a 4.5 minute positive split, much better than the 12.5 in London – at least I had improved something.

The post race area wasn’t easy to navigate.  You had to collect your bag from one floor of the Festhalle, and then return your chip somewhere else so you didn’t get charged €25, and try to get through all the supporters who kept walking into me…OK maybe I was walking into them…

I had just crossed the finish line, everything hurt like hell, I was disorientated, I didn’t know where to go, I was thirsty and I was about to cry.  Luckily I bumped into fellow Chaser Adam and was hugely grateful he helped me out so I didn’t need to cry in the end!


I guess you learn something new in every marathon – this time I learnt that I was capable of pacing well, I just had to man up in the last 4 miles.  But I also learnt that maybe I’ll never be as fast as I want to be – my last 3 marathons have been just a couple of minutes apart, maybe that’s as good as it gets.

Anyway, it was time to park that thought and eat…


…and drink!


So, that’s marathon number 4.  I have a new PB so I guess that’s a successful marathon number 4.  Don’t get me wrong, I still want to smash it, and I’m not the type to just give up, I’m just not convinced I’m good enough.

What next?  Probably a Spring marathon, maybe Rome, maybe Hamburg, maybe Vienna…


Race Review: Down Tow Up Flow Half

Yesterday I swapped the busy, polluted, noisey streets of London for the quiet and scenic trails of Marlow & Windsor.  What a great idea that was!

With 13 weeks left until the Frankfurt Marathon the weekly long runs have picked up and I had my eyes on the Purple Patch Down Tow Up Flow Half Marathon.  It’s a point to point race which changes direction each year, this year it was Down Tow starting in Marlow and finishing in Windsor.  Windsor only took 40 minutes to get to then I got one of the organised coaches to the start so my car would be waiting for me at the end, that’s a quicker journey than my last 2 London races!

The course was described as ‘multi-terrain’, I quickly learnt that meant it was 95% off road, not that that was a problem but there would be no PB’s today!  There was also a bit on congestion at the start where the paths narrowed but the organisers had set us off in 3 waves to make it less disruptive.  It was, however, flat and a beautiful course, we ran from Marlow through Maidenhead, Cookham & Bourne End to Windsor and it looked a bit like this…



and this…



There were boats on the river with people clapping and waving at us and there were a couple of areas with pedestrians lining the street to give us a cheer and a smile, everyone was lovely!

There were several shady areas through the trees but the sun was out and the heat was rising, together with the trail underneath my feet, I was starting to find it tough but I still felt fairly strong and found the power to overtake several people in the last couple of miles.  The finish came around and a couple of people shouted ‘go Clapham’ in the final stretch.  I finished in 1.50 and was tired & thirsty (sooooo thirsty!) but still felt pretty good which makes me less nervous about my impending 15 miler on Saturday.



I highly recommend this race – fantastic organisation, a beautiful course and a lovely medal, what more could you want?!  I had forgotten how much trail races take it out of you though…I’m back to the penguin walk today…

Look at my really cool medal!