Archive for the ‘Running’ Category

Scottish Islands Peaks Race

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
This should do the trick but those Jelly Babies are not for sharing!

This should do the trick but those Jelly Babies are not for sharing!

Oh dear, here we go again. This time I am joining the crew of the Good Ship Brimble, a 27ft Twister. There will be more space onboard than Sumara but still pretty cosy with five runners and all the kit. I’ve been a bit disorganised this year struggling to find the time to sort out my kit. When I went down to my yacht to collect my boots, hat, running compass and other gear I found she had been locked in a shed so I’ve had to buy a load of new stuff. There is a strict kit check before each run so there’s no busking it. Every runner also has to take 250g of chocolate on each run. Something to look forward to!

We are getting the sleeper to Glasgow tonight so we will arrive in Oban on Thursday lunchtime. That should give us enough time to get ready before the noon start on Friday. The weather isn’t looking too bright but at least we won’t be rowing again.

Three Forts Challenge Half Marathon

Sunday, May 1st, 2016
This thirsty dog had a medal too!

This thirsty dog had a medal too!

1st May 2016
This was the opportunity for all of the Scottish Islands Three Peak Race running team to partake in a hilly run together and have a chat about the final arrangements. After a week of winter weather with frost and hail we found ourselves in idyllic sunshine at Worthing’s Hill Barn Recreation Ground ready for the start. There were about 800 competitors for both the races (there was a tough marathon option). We got there in plenty of time to park up and prepare.
It was one of those well organised non-commercial events that I really like with plenty of smiling volunteers and a great atmosphere. There were some runners with harnessed dogs who set off before us. We started at 1030 (chip timing) and for the first two miles climbed gently to about 600 ft along rough paths before a pleasant decent to about 250 ft before a long slog to just over 800 ft. On top of the Downs the running couldn’t have been better, with sea views and soft short grass underfoot. This part of the course is shared with the Steyning Stinger – another great event. There is then a drop to about 300 ft before climbing again to about 600 ft with a small descent and a final little hill before a two mile fast run back to the finish line. This last descent had a somewhat tricky narrow chalky path which was vee shaped and could have caused a few slips if the ground was wet. Luckily in the dry conditions the entire course was easily runnable. Although it can’t be described as flat there were no really taxing hills, more a matter of endurance rather than strength. It could be interesting in really wet weather!

A big thank you to all the organisers and volunteers (and cake makers) for making it such a great day out.

Any bad points? Only my usual gripe about runners tossing gel wrappers on the ground in the lovely countryside. Maybe a volunteer will pick them up but surely its not too hard to find a way not to litter in the first place.
Results? I finished just under two hours (about 1 hr 58 m) which I was pleased enough with for a hilly run.
Afterwards we all met at the Old House at Home and discussed tactics for the big race over a pint of Harveys and roast lunch. A very pleasant day.

Getting Sumara ready for the sailing season

Saturday, April 30th, 2016
Pulling the bearings off my Aerogen 4

Pulling the bearings off my Aerogen 4

The Arthur Beale project has been zapping up all my spare time so some things are being neglected. Most of all I’m not getting to see all my buddies so that certainly needs to be rectified soon! But I realised the Good Ship wasn’t going to get all the love that she would normally get so I decided to ask Harry Kings Boatyard to help out. I’ve had some pretty mixed quality work done in the past when I have called in the professionals so I was a bit nervous about getting work that I’d normally do done by a boatyard. However I went to the boat last weekend and was very pleased with the quality of the work that Lee had done. So now I can relax knowing everything is in safe hands.
I am partaking in the Scottish Islands Three Peaks race on Brimble at the end of May so I won’t be sailing until June but I like to get her afloat before things heat up on land. Hopefully she will be bobbing up and down on her buoy in the River Orwell in the next few weeks. I still need to varnish the mast. She is all sanded and ready but I need that rare thing a dry still day before I start to varnish. I’m replacing the runners this year too due to finding a loose strand during the annual inspection.
One little job I have proudly finished is the renovation of my 20 year old Aerogen 4 wind generator. The bearings had gone and I managed to snap the hub when attempting to get it off the shaft so I relegated it to the boat jumble. When I was offered £20.00 for it I refused and decided to mend her myself. Now she has new bearings, newly tapped fin holes, a new hub, and a repaint job. I feel very proud, as she looks like new and I reckon fit for another 20 years. The great thing about the Aerogen generators is that they are virtually silent.
Tomorrow we are running the Three Forts Race with the Brimble Team. It will be a team bonding session and a chance to see how fit we are so we can pair up for the Scottish Islands Race. Better get some pasta on the boil!

The Steyning Stinger Half Marathon 2016

Sunday, March 6th, 2016
The Steyning Stinger Team - Grit, Alasdair, Alex, Kerry and John

The Steyning Stinger Team – Grit, Alasdair, Alex, Kerry and John

6th March 2016

It is cold and grey with hail pounding heavily against the window as I write this on the afternoon of the Steyning Stinger but this morning conditions couldn’t have been more perfect for the event. It was cold but the sun was out and there was just a gentle breeze. Underfoot it was muddy in parts but hey who would want to do the Stinger without a bit of mud? On the Downs the views were breath taking!
I think I am willing to stick my neck out and say this is the perfect ever race.
There is a community feel about it and it is very inclusive. If you are not a runner, you can start at about 7am and walk the half marathon course. If you are a runner but a little bit slow then you can start early and still get a time. If you are mega fit then you can even enter the full marathon course – which must be really gruelling. You can even change your mind half way through, but I wonder if any “Halfers” decide to upgrade! You can join the mass starts, or run the race peacefully by yourself.

There is no commercial feeling about this event, it cost less than £30.00 to enter and you get an organisation which is simply the best I have ever encountered. At the end you get a decent looking medal, free photos by Sussex Photography and to cap it all a free full English breakfast served to your table by the local cheery schoolchildren.

As for the run itself it is wonderful especially if you like hills! It is 90% a trail run with just the odd quiet stretch along tarmac road. It is a run you need to train for as the ascents are quite taxing although they are all runnable. That said many runners take the sensible decision to fast walk the steeper parts without really losing any time. I know they didn’t lose any time because I decided to run the whole thing and couldn’t gain on the walkers on the steep inclines. The route takes you on a long uphill path onto the South Downs where it joins the South Downs Way in parts. There are some fast stretches along the top (not for me though) with long views to the sea on one side and inland to the north. The descents are interesting and require some technique. One downhill through the woods follows a chalky hollowed out path which is rutted and covered occasionally in slippy chalk slime, occasionally in leaf mould and sometime loose flint boulders. I would be interested to know how many get injured on these paths. Maybe St Johns Ambulance have some figures. I suspect the tired marathon runners must find these descents even trickier.
I ran the race with my nephew Alex and his partner Kerry who confidently overhauled me after a few miles and finished in about 2 hours 7 minutes. Grit, John and myself all fell in behind. It is not a race for PB’s and you would need to be pretty fit to get in under 2 hours.

During breakfast we clocked a large contingent of German runners and wondered if they had come especially for the run. They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves washing down their breakfast with Strongbow Cider!

We were doing it as part of our training for the Scottish Islands Three Peaks Race at the end of May. Next up is the Three Forts Race.
Will we do the Stinger again? Of course we will!


Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail Shoes

Saturday, February 27th, 2016
My new Salomon Speedcross 3 brand spanking new. Don't they look lovely!

My new Salomon Speedcross 3 brand spanking new. Don’t they look lovely!

I’ve signed up for the Scottish Islands Three Peaks Race on the good ship Brimble so some panic training is needed. Next week we are running the dreaded Steyning Stinger, one of my favourite races. My old Salomon Speedcross 2 shoes are unbelievably still quite serviceable although I fear they will clap out just before the race so I decided to buy some more. This time I decided to buy Speedcross 3. I hate buying online but none of the London shops had size 12.5. I don’t normally take size 12.5 but my old ones were this size and I tried size 11.5 and they were too tight. After a three week wait it transpires the shoes were left in a local sweet shop but no one bothered to tell me. I never have a smooth ride with online purchases. I picked them up this morning and decided to give them a go in Oxleas Woods. The new shoes have the treads moulded to fit the shoes whereas the old ones the tread was cut from a regular pattern sheet resulting in nobbles very close to the edge. They both have a great lace system. It looks fragile but it is really tough. You just pull on the clip to tighten then tuck the excess into a little pouch. The shoes are really well padded, I reckon you could run a half marathon in them from new without any trouble. They are really light and grippy. During the last Scottish Islands Three Peaks Race my running partner was wearing Inov8 shoes which lost all their nobbles on one scree slope! These Salomons will be good for several years. Highly recommended but take care on the sizing.

My old Speedcross 2 still going strong after four or five years! They just need a good wash.

My old Speedcross 2 still going strong after four or five years! They just need a good wash.

After my first run, seemed a shame to get them muddy.

After my first run, seemed a shame to get them muddy.


Marlow Half Marathon 2015

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

1st November 2015

I needed to enter a race before the busy season at Arthur Beale takes over my life. The last time I entered the Marlow Half if was badly flooded. This time it was dry but foggy and rather warm at about 14 degrees. The sun managed to burst through the fog on the hills and the autumn trees looked at their finest. The race started with a big firework going off bang. The start is crowded as we all squeezed through a narrow gateway with the chip timing mats but then it opens up along the high street until we all turn off onto the narrow roads and lanes which make up 90% of the course. It is gently undulating with a couple of small hills and all on tarmacked surfaces. The route is very pleasant countryside with a few small hamlets. It was awash with ambulances and their were plenty of marshals and well staffed drinks stations. I was a little upset to see some runners had dropped their gel wrappers in the road but I am sure the organisers will pick them up. It is a bad habit when out in the countryside and I hope it doesn’t catch on. A chap seems to run the course each year with a video camera and I am sure he upload his video to You Tube any minute now. At the finish line Dave the DJ did an amazing job encouraging the runners in. He gave me the feeling that he personally knew the whole fleet. Dave had some good banter about Rosie who was being waited for by some members of the crowd. He kept suggesting a search party should be sent out but in reality she ran a very fast race. Full marks to Dave the DJ.
The race was very well organised with friendly staff and everything you could possibly expect, save perhaps the slight shortage of toilets at the start – but that is a pretty common problem and runners always seem to cope. My time was 1 hour 49 minutes and 29 seconds which I was quite pleased with considering my lack of training. I’m sure I will be back.

Update: The chap with the video camera was John Pennifold who has sent me a link to the final video. I bet it took a long time to sort out – it always takes me about three times the time allocated to get a video uploaded – so a big thank you to John!

Stroud Trail Marathon

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

10th May 2015

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Tim and I enjoy a moment at the end of the Marathon

Tim and I enjoy a moment at the end of the Marathon

That’s Stroud pronounced a bit like a shroud rather than Strood which sounds a bit like rude. I mention this because a lot of people thought I was running in a flat area of Kent rather than the hilly Cotswolds. I’m sure Strood is very nice but it can’t be as nice as Stroud. This trail run is a corker. It has 800 m of ascent with running alongside shady canals, through woods covered with wild garlic and bluebells and up onto open heath with long views. There is a choice between a “Half” Marathon and a “Full” Marathon but both are slightly over length. There were a few of us running equally split between the full and half distances. The route is the same for 14 miles but the start times are an hour apart so we couldn’t run together. We had perfect conditions with pretty dry surface but nice and soft underfoot. I ran in “barefoot” trainers, well Nike call them barefoot. Trail shoes would be needed if it was wet. We had to carry a 500 ml water bottle although it need not have any water in it. I wore a belt, some had rucksacks and some ran with an old water bottle in their hands. I ran out of steam at around 20 miles and slowed down a bit but still finished at 4 hr 54 minutes which was mid fleet. Fastest time was about 3 hr 30 min and slowest was near to 8 hr. This is not a route for PB’s but can’t be beaten for organisation and gorgeous scenery. Highly recommended,

Eastbourne Half Marathon

Sunday, March 1st, 2015


1st March 2015

Eastbourne Half Marathon Finish

Eastbourne Half Marathon Finish

I know, I know, it was meant to be the Steyning Stinger, my favourite Hilly Half but sadly the application forms posted in December came flying back through the door last week with “insufficient postage” plastered over it. The Steyning Stinger was full and Eastbourne had places and so Eastbourne it was.
The appalling weather on Saturday encouraged me to wear a 250 g merino top for the race which was a big error. The sun came out on Sunday and blazed away all day. I nearly boiled over. I even had to grab some water en route – a rarity for me. I had a feeling it would be a flat run. There was mention of a hill which for some reason I thought would just be a minor bump – but I was wrong. After mile two we began to climb and it went on and on! At each “prow” there would be a turn and I would think “ah off down again soon” but once I arrived at the turn it climbed again. I suppose it wasn’t too bad but I just misjudged it. Most of the route was a friendly affair along the sunny seafront with drummers and cheering crowds.

Pier 150301We did a tour of the marina and headed back to the start which had one of those sneaky extra legs shoved in just when you don’t need it. My second half was slow and I let quite a few people slip past only managing a brief burst for the finish line. A well run fun race. My final time was a poor 1 hour 48 minutes and a bit. Oh well, must try harder.

Deal Half Marathon

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Deal, Kent

8th February 2015
I decided to attempt the Deal Half Marathon again this year, swayed partly by a kind offer of local accommodation and feeding by my friend Philip. Deal is a well run friendly event hosted by the local triathlon club. It starts at a very civilised 10.30 and you can register on the day. Philip had fed me well and drove me up to the start. It was a glorious dry sunny day and not too cold. During the run I found myself behind a couple running together and the male half told his female partner that she should drop behind if she was struggling and he would wait for her at the end. She did drop back and eventually dropped behind me too. At about mile 7 I caught up with the male runner and stayed about 50 m behind for at least a mile. At about mile 9 I heard someone coming up behind me with a strong powerful pace and his partner powered past me with a big smile on her face. I decided to try to close on the male runner to get his reaction as she caught up and he looked slightly peeved! They ran together for 100 m then she shot off ahead probably saying “if you are struggling just drop behind and I’ll wait for you at the end”!
I finished after 1 hour 44 minutes and 43 seconds my best ever time. The day was topped off by a whacking great big roast beef lunch in the newly decorated Rising Sun in North Street. Brilliant day!

Next on the running agenda is the very tough Steyning Stinger on 1st March. It is a struggle to beat two hours on the very hilly cross country course.

The finish line of Deal's Half Marathon

The finish line of Deal’s Half Marathon


Sunday, November 30th, 2014

29th November 2014

Southwark Park 5 k Parkrun

My friend across the road mentioned these park runs to me. Amazingly I had never heard of them despite the fact that 60,000 runners run them every Saturday morning at 9 am. Yesterday I gave it a go and was really impressed. To enter you go online to and fill in a simple form. It is FREE! You then need to print out your personal barcode. They advise that you laminate them and keep various ones in handy places (on your bike, glove compartment, under the insole of your trainers etc). Once you have your barcode you can turn up at any of 3,500 parks at 9 am (9.30 in Scotland). No need to book. They give a little briefing for all the first timers. At 0900 they set you all off. You don’t need to show your barcode to enter. There were 89 people running in Southwark Park. After three laps of flat tarmacked paths you enter the finish funnel and are given a barcode chip. You then take this chip with your personal barcode to one of the many volunteers who logs your result. Later in the day you can see how you did by going online. Brilliant. I managed 22 minutes 23 seconds and 70.98% age grade which wasn’t too bad. Coupled with a swim in the local pool it is a good way to kick start your Saturday. Give it a go!