Blackpool Run the Lights 2019

Reviewed by Deb Rochelle

I loved this event on Saturday night. It started at 9pm and the run was through the illuminations along the promenade to the Pleasure Beach and back. The first half was running into practically gale force wind and bloody hard work but at the turn around point we got a lovely push along from behind. I collected my number early and had no problems. There were not enough toilets (as per usual at events) AND I’ve been left out of the result listings, which I’ve emailed them about…but overall, in my opinion a great run!! The medal actually glows in the dark!!

Rock N Roll Liverpool Half Marathon

Can’t rate this enough as a race! 100% epic!

Live music every mile, plenty of water stations, jells and lucozade. Loads of support, locals come out of their houses and cheer.

Always found it friendly, I’m a party at the back kinda girl. They have running angels for the last 2/3 miles to help anyone struggling or just to tell you your doing great!

Best bit is… You get a free pint at the end!!!

There is also a festive and live stage after party that had Toploader headlining this year.

All round a fucking epic weekend. Loads of bling too if you do the Saturday 5k and the Sunday 1/2 or marathon!

I nearly forgot about the goodie bags! You get loads of snacks, haribo, drinks, crisps!

I’ve entered for 2020 (3rd yr running) it’s my fav race of the year without a doubt!!

Reviewed by Sarah McGenity

UK Fast City of Manchester 10K

UK Fast City of Manchester 10K

Etihad Stadium – 7 July 2019

If you’re not a city supporter and you dislike hills, this probably isn’t the race for you!

Woke up on Sunday 7 July bright and early in preparation for one of a few 10k’s booked for the year and off I went to meet my fellow RBR runners at the Etihad.

The morning was warm but jeez as we set off, the arena felt like it was 80 degrees. From that moment on it just got hotter and hotter. I know you can’t help the weather but f*%k me, once we started and I saw the incline in front of me I knew this was going to be tough. One incline after another, with a man at one point breathing heavily down my ear, followed by the bliss of going downhill, at times with the heat I felt like I was crawling up those inclines.  The worst thing was knowing I had to do part of the route again before swooping through gates and up the biggest hill you have ever seen, to make matters worse it was painted blue!!

The marshalls were all friendly and encouraging and on entering the stadium the crowd were applauding the finishers over the line.

The medal at the end was worth the torture and the goody bag was pretty good considering the cost of the race.

Energia24 Review

In the aftermath of the final ever Energia24, which took place in Victoria Park in Belfast on 22nd/23rd June, I was sunburnt and sleep deprived, even after a night in my own bed. My big toes were both one massive blister and my legs were so seized up, I suspected that I’d be walking downstairs backwards for a week. And I had a ball!
It was like a music festival for runners. Crappy portaloos, scummy showers, loud rock and tents, all taking over Victoria Park. Except that the portaloos were clean and consistently very well stocked with bog roll and the showers were plentiful and clean. Hmmm, so maybe not too like a music festival then 😁 We were also incredibly lucky with the weather, so didn’t have to contend with the quagmire that Glasto usually becomes. Thank goodness, because running in the rain is okay, but hanging about and supporting in it, not so much!
First, a word to our sponsors. We arrived before 10am on Sat to find the gazebo already up. That was thanks to our wonderful clubmates. It was great to get there and have a base to set our tents beside. That was the start of a weekend of a constant stream of people arriving with food, necessary plastic items and most importantly encouragement, hanging about the gazebo, passing runners their water and energy drinks as they went by, clapping, shouting and generally letting us know that we could do it, we could complete this stupid…I mean challenging… task that we’d set ourselves. We (I mean the runners) were never alone. Partners, family, and Ward Park Runners members were always about. There was also fantastic support from other runners and clubs. Runners are a supportive bunch. We were next door to the Scrabo Striders and across the way from North Down AC, so there was plenty of shouting at all hours, as any of our three club’s runners went by.
I stumbled upon a perfect example of the sort of nutty, but amazing encouragement we got at 3.30am Sunday, just half an hour before my final stint. I was headed to the loo. Gotta get that last poo done before a run. 💩😂 I heard my name shouted and it was a runner from a different club, sitting on bench, offering random runners burgers 🍔 He’d done a run to Micky Ds on his way to support after work. Never has a burger tasted so good. That’s just the way the whole event felt. Very “One for all and all for one.”
My task, as part of a relay team, was to run for a two hour stint, pass on the baton (in this case, an armband) then rest up and refuel for my next go, six hours later. We all took three turns. Running for two hours is something I don’t normally find too much of an issue. My pace may vary, but I can stay upright and in forward motion for that time, no problem. Doing it three times within twenty-four hours is another matter. I found the second time the hardest. I still had a goal in my head as to how many miles I’d like to do in that time, so I wanted to live up to that. The third time, I was just concerned with keeping going, so distance was incidental, just a by product of moving forward, and I wasn’t overly worried about a goal, therefore I put less pressure on myself. Even though that section of running was 4am to 6am, it wasn’t the toughest.
End result? I did it. I got through my three legs of the relay with nothing more than a couple of big blisters, sore legs and an almost psychotic desire to “ate the leg o’ a scabby wain.” 🍔🥪☕ I covered thirty-three miles in total. Very respectable. I was well chuffed.
Now, running for six hours, in three, two hour chunks, was tough, so what, in the name of all that’s sensible, persuades someone that it would be a good idea to run for the whole twenty-four hours solid? I’m serious. What sort of buck ejjit does that? There were about three hundred just such ejjits, two from my own club. The heart and guts they showed was inspirational. I get that if you’re not a runner, you’d wonder why. What is it about doing this that’s so alluring? Why would anyone even think about it? I know that even other runners wonder at the desire to torture oneself this way. 5k or even 42k? Sure, but to run the whole clock round? I can’t say I get it myself. It’s beyond my comprehension. But those that did it just kept going. There were highs and lows in mood, but they kept going. When the final hour came and we saw them still on their feet, still going, it was genuinely emotional. Runners helped support other runners to the very end. When the timer went, I felt myself welling up. Sounds a bit dramatic,  but true.
Midday on Sunday, we had friends, family and even more club members about, seeing it though to the end. The moral of the tale is that my team mates rocked, big style, and our non-running team mates (by which I mean all family, partners, club members, children, dogs, Uncle Tom Cobley and all!) rocked harder. What a stunning experience.
And what’s next? Well, my diet for the next few days consisted of left over chicken sandwiches and protein bars. Would I do it again? The following day, the answer was uncategorically not just “No,” but “Hell no!” Today? 🤔  Heaven help me, I probably would 🤣

Dig Deep Races – Ultra Tour Of The Peak District

Dig Deep Races – Ultra Tour Of The Peak District
60 50 Miles // 10000ft 8500ft Elevation
https://www.digdeepraces.co.uk/races/ultra-tour-of-the-peak-district/

TL;DR

Signed up for and started the 60 mile event, dropped down to the 50 mile event, suffered, looking forward to doing it again.

//

Intro

I signed up for this event on a whim about 4 months ago. It was to be the first time traveling on my feet more than 30 miles and when I did that it was 15 years ago, during military training and I was a hell of a lot fitter.

I began running again in February, heavily overweight and from a negative baseline of fitness after listening to David Goggins on Joe Rogan.

I’d heard of Goggins a few years previously after watching a video where he talked about running 150 mile weeks, whilst holding down a full time job as a Navy Seal.

Pretty inspiring bloke, definitely worth listening to some podcasts he’s been on. Anyway I digress.

Running in the beginning was difficult, I eventually reached 10km and that was a good achievement. I think my first 10km was something like a 1:08 which I’ve just recently got down to 0:53. After that I started adding distance. I read a few books and got to a point where running a training half marathon in 2:10 was fairly comfortable.

I was always drawn back to the mental aspect of completing a distance that seemed unfathomable as a bit of a test for myself. This, plus the fact I love walking in places like the Lake District inevitably drew me to trail / hill / fell / whatever you want to call it running.

Googling a few races I found the Ultra Tour Of The Peak District which is a 60 miler across the Peak District with about 3000m of total elevation on the course. I’d never been to the area but looking at OS maps it seemed similar to the lakes and that was good enough for me.

I ramped up the distance, ultimately hitting a 19 miler but it was slow and painful. Anxiety was setting in but with a bit of naive math for min/mile splits I knew I could hit the cutoffs if I just kept moving.

The Run

The UTPD starts just south of Sheffield at a place called Whirlow Hall Farm. Over the weekend there are various events as follows:

  • Ultra Tour – 60 Miler
  • Peak Trails – 50 and 30 Miler
  • 12.12
    (I think this is a half-marathon, didn’t look into it.)
  • 10km

The Ultra and Peak Trails follow a similar loop, starting and finishing at Whirlow with additions at various areas based on the distance.

Luckily for me, the 60 and the 50 shared an almost identical route save for an additional 10 miles over the high peaks after a town called Edale.

We set off from Whirlow Farm at 6am and a decent pace was being set from the start by the frontrunners. I’d promised myself I’d start slow and carry on slowly, I had a personal goal of sub 16 hours but would be happy to complete as it was my first ultra and first anything on foot over 30 miles.

The course has 21 checkpoints, some manned, some unmanned, some with water and 3 of them being main aid stations separated basically 15 miles apart. Aid station 1 (CP5) is at Moscar. I’d set a goal to reach this at around 3 hours, I was feeling good here and strolled in and out on time after topping up food, water and having a handful the things provided (mainly the best kind of carbs, Haribo)

I set off feeling good, checked my phone and had a bit of craic with my mates and missus via Whatsapp. The next checkpoint is at Edale and the main obstacle in the way of that is Win Hill.

Win Hill has to really be seen to be believed but it’s steep, there’s a checkpoint at the base and the trig at the top 0.8 miles away but it took me something like 30 minutes to summit. That I think, was the beginning of the end. I hit the top and set off on a long downhill section but my legs weren’t working (I’ve since learned that my eating on ultras needs a lot of work, I’m also shit at hydrating properly) and I felt sluggish and weak.

At this point we’re 24 miles in, I’m climbing Nether Tor just before the descent into Edale and checkpoint 2 and I lost my mind. I was struggling and looked west towards the high peaks which are where the additional ten miles for the 60 miler go and I broke.

At Edale the route for the 60 and the 50 split. 60s head west over the high peaks and the 50s continue through Edale towards the Limestone Way and Bradwell. The thought of adding an extra ten miles to what was slowly becoming a torturous experience was not happening and I called Ian, the Race Director and asked if I could drop onto the 50 route. This was kindly allowed and I trotted into the Edale aid station after a knee bashing descent, pissed off with myself and the inherent weakness I’d shown.

Looking back I believe it’s the right decision but it doesn’t make it sting any less. I definitely have unfinished business with the route and will be going back next year, well trained, to right a wrong.

Edale onwards will make very boring reading but ultimately it reads like this, I walked the remaining 20 miles.

The Bradwell aid station was a welcome site and I had a cup of tea, lots of savoury food and felt a whole lot better as I left there. This was shortlived as the climb out of Bradwell is a grim experience when walking on flat ground is a chore.

Every step was painful but oddly it wasn’t until the final 4 miles when I considered fully quitting. I knew I wouldn’t quit but it was a recurring thought where I did a whole lot of mental gymnastics of how it would all be ok, I’d be fine, I could come back next year etc etc. No. I wasn’t going to allow it and kept on plodding.

The final 2 miles were never ending but my mind was distracted from that by a runner from the 60 catching me up on the last straight, dropping slightly ahead and then just talking. She talked a lot and it was very welcome after 20 miles of loneliness to have someone just talk at you with no frustration that my only replies were grunts and the odd snippet about being excited (read: relieved) to see my wife at the finish line. Lorraine, you got me through those last 2 miles and it is very much appreciated.

On Kelly.

Kelly, my wife, had completed a full day at work in Newcastle at 5pm, got on a train to Sheffield and then a taxi to the farm only to have to wait around in the cold for me to finish. I knew this was happening and reckon it’s a massive factor in how I actually managed to finish. Quitting and then having to face Kelly after she’d done that would have been a pretty shit time.

You’re an absolute legend and I thank you a lot.

I crossed that line in 15:05:27 and surprisingly second last, I firmly believed the whole way round that all of the other 50 milers had finished hours before and were all sitting around laughing heartily at the fact I was still out there.

Epilogue

My main failure I think coming into this was a lack of the 3 main factors for ultra-running. Training, Food, and Hydration. Oh, and time on feet. I ran well in training but I didn’t run for long enough, I did next to no elevation training and I did zero experimenting with food and water or how I’d feel over distance.

All of this will be rectified for 2019 when I’m not only going to complete the 60 miler but also in a time of sub 12:30.

Main assistance will come on the dietary side via help from David Stache, popular sports nutritionist from Sheffield who I’ll be enlisting to help with keeping energy levels as high as possible throughout future ultras.

Thanks for reading, Darren.

RbR Club and parkrun

We’ve now registered as an official club with parkrun so you can update your parkrun profile and select RbR Club as your club if you don’t already run for a club.  Every week on a Sunday we’ll be making a note of everyone’s results at parkrun and updating the RbR Club parkrun 2019 league tables.  You will be able to see how you and all the other RbR Club members have done here:

Age Grade Results: https://www.rbrclub.co.uk/age-grade-results/

Attendance Results: https://www.rbrclub.co.uk/attendance-results/

Time Results: https://www.rbrclub.co.uk/time-results/