Last weekend Jen Sangster from the club run in the Chester marathon for England, we asked for her story:
This weekend, in Chester, I had the huge honour of qualifying to run for England in the Marathon Age Group Masters for the second time. But this year was different. I really wasn’t ready. After an awful year of numerous personal struggles and losing my job, I hadn’t put the training in and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. It was taking a lot of mental strength and talking to myself to get to this start line. But I had to be honest with myself, I knew I could do it, it wouldn’t be my best performance but I wanted to do it feeling good and feeling strong. So I gathered myself together and went and did this one for myself.
So there I was lining up right in the middle of the paddocks at Chester racecourse with everyone in their red and white kit… shaking with cold as it was 4 degrees! Well, the heat wasn’t going to get me in this marathon!
Andy and the boys were there to see me off and meet me a few miles later in the city centre and then I was on my own running through the countryside. I met up with another England runner, Jayne and we ran for ages just chatting about absolutely anything and everything! Before I knew it, 18 miles had gone by. Wow!
The rest of the run I was on my own as Jayne sped up and I purposely slowed a little. I was feeling great and I wanted to keep it that way. I was thinking of everyone’s lovely messages on Facebook from the night before – “Come on Stealth” you’re doing this.
The hills that got me last year felt like little slopes, and the hard sapping finish on the grass was amazingly different this time as I encouraged another runner to run the last bit with me. I saw my boys and Andy at the side and I ran over, gave Luke a huge high five and promptly knocked his big foam ‘high five hand’ onto the race track! Oooopppsss!
Then it was the sprint finish and big smiles. I’d done it – 3.13 (only 10 mins slower than last year when I got my PB) 13th in my age group and 4th in my age group from the England Masters entrants.
I remember writing about the lessons I learnt last year, that every run is different and that’s what makes running such a special sport. You are constantly learning about yourself. This year, I also realised how important mental attitude and training the brain really are. Believing in yourself, being honest with yourself and you’ll succeed at anything you do.
Steve Morris and Paul Newton from Redway Runners are UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) 2018 Finishers
The UTMB® is a trail-running event full of superlatives! An event for trail-runners from all over the world. Each year, the elite of the trail-running world find themselves in Chamonix alongside almost 10 000 runners keen to participate in one of the event’s 7 races.
Paul ran in the CCC from Courmayeur in Italy back to Chamonix on a 101km route with 6,000m of climb and a 26h30 time limit.
Steve took on the full loop of the Mont Blanc massif through Italy, Switzerland and France starting and finishing in Chamonix covering a race distance of 171km with 10,000m of climb and a 46h30 time limit.
You can see a race video at:
Steve said ‘This race has been on my mind for 6 years since I first found out about it so I’m delighted to be a UTMB finisher. It has been a journey of highs and lows, during which I’ve run 33 ultras and been to some very dark places mentally, questioning my ability and will. Sheer determination, relentless hard work and training over the last two years has finally led me to earn the right to stand on the finish line with tears rolling down my cheeks. Thank you so much to everyone from the club who supported, tracked me and sent positive vibes. This experience is one I’ll never forget.’
Paul gave a full race report with:
Walking down the road having tears in your eyes for complete strangers becomes a phenomenal that happens every August and into September in Chamonix France….
I went to the CCC race ( short story version) Or I went to the CCC and…carry on reading for long version 😉
It was back in 2012 when I first heard about the UTMB races…I watched the live feed of the races and wishes that one day I would have what it takes to complete a race…when I looked into entering I soon realised it wasn’t just a case of entering online or entering the ballot, instead you have to accumulate points from different races and then enter a ballot.
I was given a book as a birthday present and that had some of the worlds most iconic races to run. Some of these races gained you the points needed to enter the ballot..at the time I didn’t know it but my UTMB journey had started…as most of my FB friends will know I get a buzz from running off road and like a challenge. So rarely do I run fast times but have encountered some very demanding terrain, often mountainous. Just love being in the mountains, as long as you respect the mountains, pack safe and act safe you should be ok…
My first attempt at earning points was a multistage race around the active volcanos of Sicily, unfortunately the ruling for the points awarded was changed and the race was deemed too dangerous to earn me the points. I then had a couple of years with setbacks as I learnt more about my body and what I needed to do to keep running. Still learning.
A few years pass, through our wonderful running Club I met this crazy guy Steve whom becomes a very good friend. We bounce off each other and one of our very early conversations involved the UTMB…
The Ultra Trail Mont Blanc.
With Steve Morris’s help i soon witness what it takes to truly have a passion about something. I remember hearing about his preparation for UTMB and then watching the tracker when he raced all from the comfort of home and being envious that was him and not me. I needed to change that…then seeing the disappointment when he had a bad race. A did not finish.
My first DNF came after I attempted to do the maxi Ultra around Lake Annecy at the end of May, I was just back from a triathlon training camp in Italy and raced 205km with over 10000 meters of climb, which took me around 10 hours on the bike…I didn’t make it to the finish line as my legs became too sore and was convinced my feet were a mess…36 Miles done but no finish, no medal. This was part of my mental learning. Finding my own levels of pain, or the Newton pain scale as I like to call it. Each pain/discomfort can be acknowledged and then put to one side to deal with later. If the pain becomes too high then you may need to review the situation!
If you don’t already know I became a runner due to some sad times in my life and I’ve used running as one of my outlets to help deal with the sadness and depression day to day. Most of the time it works pretty damn well.
Where possible I find two races a year one around April and another around September…historically they have to be harder than the previous race to keep pushing myself as I want to feel that I’ve given maximum effort. I’m currently lucky enough to be fit and healthy to do what I want and so many other people in the world can’t. For me, the loss of my Mum and also my best friend Mark helps put things into perspective. Life is too short.
2017 I entered the ballot “again” for the CCC. The date of the draw was marked in the calendar and the following years events were just a maybe in my diary…it was all about the UTMB draw for 2018. January saw both Steve and I be accepted for our races…sh*t was real…could I stay injury free? Could I train well enough?
Training was steady but wasn’t the quality i needed so a few tough days out in the mountains gave me the confidence to make the start line. Steve had started his planning and wanted to reach 10000 metres of climb a month in his preparation…for me I would fit In what I wanted and could around work and life…Once again Snowdonia became my playground.
The year was flying past at an alarming rate and before I knew it I was travelling to Chamonix on my own. I’d changed my original plans and went out 5 Days before Steve & Sinead Bradbeer . I opted to stay in a hostel to keep costs low as I was informed that Chamonix is expensive. I also wanted to meet new friends. Chamonix is expensive, Beautiful but expensive, especially during UTMB week when even the price in the local shops get a little added on!
Some how, the computer whizz that Steve is ( or geek ) that I love about him manages to find Chloe’s training camp. He’s lucky enough to bag a spot but I ended up shelling out a load of euros. The training camp was so much better than I expected and although i used to run with a fell Club in South Wales I hadn’t learnt how to train on the hills. I’d only ran on the hills! I Truly met some lovely inspiring people on the camp from Elite Runners to more social runners and at the after party at the Patagonia store. A couple of the locals took me out on the town and I did my best to join in. Just because I was running one of my toughest races didn’t mean I wasn’t going to have a drink or two. I ended up in a jazz club and had a fun night. Maybe if I had a goal other than to finish then i might have been different. I made sure I didn’t have too late a night but still struggled to sleep. The whole time the CCC race was on my mind. These are big mountains compared to the UK. When Steve @ Sinead arrived I transferred to a shared apartment and instead of taking the lift I climbed the 3 sets of stairs to our room. For the first few days I was as much out of breath as if I’d just ran a fast 5k…now the realisation of being at altitude was playing on my mind…the course profile went from exciting me to being a concern. Did i have the ability to make the cutoff times, would my legs/ feet be able to get me up and down all the mountains…would I eat n drink enough to give myself half a chance.
I first arrived in Chamonix to thunderstorms, it seemed like a very dramatic welcome and was worried about being out in one!
Luckily come race day the weather had cooled and was not as extreme as previous years. The weather had always been on our minds whilst talking about UTMB..you can only control the controllables so that was what we focused our energy on. For example a few days before the race there was a large rock fall on one section which unfortunately killed a 69 year old. As a result the race route had to be changed making the last descent slightly more technical.
I think Steve was having his Pre race afternoon nap when i went off to collect my race number.
About two weeks before the CCC an old school friend Nicola Churchill had informed me that her friend was also running the CCC, I knew the name but couldn’t place the name. Think I was about 15 when I saw him last! Sent him a quick message and we said we would try and meet up in Chamonix. In the end we met at race registration and I instantly remembered so many memories from School. David Tarbuck was in the same year as Mark and the same form as Nicola. We chatted for a while and because we had similar race numbers and running goals we thought it possible that we would see each other on race morning.
Race morning for me involved waking before my 5:15 alarm, Steve’s girlfriend Sinead made sure I left the apartment and i walked through town to catch the shuttle bus to Carmoyeur In Italy. It was there where David and I met up, took a few pics and made our way to our pen. We wished each other well, took in the atmosphere of the music, helicopter and drones flying overhead. The streets were lined with supporters, many had cowbells and set off on our race, both anxious about the enormity of the race ahead. Yes we had both trained hard, yes we thought we were worthy of being on the start line but the course profile was like nothing we had encountered before. We both expected it to take about 24 hours to complete …actual time was 25:51 Running in the mountains takes a balance between using too much energy on the up hills and staying efficient on the down hills. Too slow and you don’t make the checkpoints, too fast and you can become dehydrated or run out of fuel. Then you have the weather and ground conditions to stay focused on, this determines how fast you can move over ground and what you need to wear or carry. Then you also have to share the trails with other users be it Runners or hikers.
I knew that from race start Courmayeur in Italy to the first climb was mostly along a road and if you wanted to get a good position for the first climb then you would have to start off first, so that was my initial intention but once on the start line it soon became obvious that we were in the last of three waves to set off. Which ended up being 30 minutes after the elite runners set off. Don’t remember reading this on the website or in any of the literature, also the race organisers didn’t add the time on for us, which meant we had 30 minutes less than the advertised cut off. We ran steady gradually going uphill until we reached the first climb, it was still a bottle neck and we hiked up the first mountain pretty much with my face in the bottom of the person in front and the person behind was the same, you couldn’t go at a pace you wanted but I was still working hard and overtook anyone whom stumbled or hesitated for a second. That first climb started at about 1200 metres and climbed to 2584 metres. For those of you that have climbed Snowdon in the Uk, this is like starting from the top of Snowdon and then climbing Snowdon again. I’ve ran up Snowdon in under 1hr30 but this was the first climb and a small descent to the checkpoint took 3h30, but being an Ultra I wanted to take it easy but because there was so many people on the trail I had no other choice. As you can imagine that first checkpoint was busy. Once out of the checkpoint I had more opportunity to overtake people on the way down but it was still very busy and often I tucked behind a train of runners who was going slower than I wanted to go but tolerated the pace as I still had a long way to go…the next climb was again one of waiting for the single track to have enough width to make my passes without stumbling on the trail and causing an injury or falling off the mountain. Each pass involved a burst of speed and then a sudden slow down to gain another place. 4hrs54 min later and I was at the next checkpoint Bonatti. I drank two cups of tea, 2 bowls of soup and 2 cups of coke, grabbed some cheese and sucked on some oranges before heading back out onto the trails. The trails were still bunched with groups of runners but it had now started to thin and most of the runners were willing to move to the side of the trail and let you pass if you asked them to or if you alerted them of your intention. I really enjoyed running the trails to the next checkpoint Arnouvaz 27k done and another 1hour since the previous stop and then more soup n tea at the checkpoint before the next big climb. With more food in me and eventually the trails were starting to widen I was able to overtake people. I was still in just my running vest and shorts as we climbed into the clouds and rain began to fall. The wind also picked up as we climbed. I was moving really well and was picking off each runner and then reaching the next and so on, then instead of trying to reach the next person I was chasing down the tenth person ahead of me and kept repeating this process. When my hands started to get cold I put on my thin gloves thinking that this would give me enough protection against the cold and wet, nearly everyone else on the mountain had stopped for a minute or so to put on there waterproof trousers and jackets but I thought, im ok, I’m used to running in colder conditions in the Uk, I will just push on…as I climbed closer to the 2537m Summit the wind became biting and I eventually realised I was now too cold, my pace slowed and I put on my waterproof jacket…this had already been too late…I was wet and my hands had gotten far too cold. This was my first mistake of the race and I was annoyed with myself for not listening to my body earlier. The descent down to the next feed station was a long way and really runnable terrain for me. I tried to run as fast as I wanted but my hands were going numb and hurting enough that i was close to tears. I tried running with my hands on my chest or in my armpits but stumbled a few times and really didn’t want an injury caused by cold hands. So eventually I stopped running, jumped across onto some rocks to allow other runners to fly past me and attempted to put my warm gloves on. If I’d had done this before my hands had gotten cold it might have taken maybe 2 minutes, now I struggled with all my strength to pull on my gloves, using both my teeth and my other hand to force my hand into each glove, i was getting frustrated at how hard this process was and must have taken about five minutes, I had just got them on when i realised i had put my bag onto the floor and still needed to clip my bag straps together, something I couldn’t do whilst wearing my warm gloves, I tried running with the bag on my bag but not done up, hoping I’d move quick enough to generate some heat, and although my body felt warm my hands still hurt. So I stopped again, gloves taken off and I fumbled with my cold numb hands to fasten the straps on my bag. This again took forever and then I had to repeat the process of getting my gloves on. Eventually I got running again and enjoyed the down hill section, apart from the fact that my hands were so numb I kept dropping my running poles as i couldn’t grip them hard enough. As i was descending down to La Folly in Switzerland at 1592m I became warmer. My phone alerted me to the fact that I had ten minutes before the start of Steve’s race. I ran for a few minutes before I found a section wide enough to stop out of the wind with a little cover from the rain, i then tried to call him but he didn’t answer, i then tried to get onto Facebook but the signal wasn’t strong enough. So i continued to run. Once at the next feed station of La Fouly 42 km into the race I took the time to get warm and eat well, the next sections would be into the night. I was two hours within the cutoff and was starting to feel in a good place again. I was still concerned about how much I had in my legs to finish this race but was confident I could keep moving. It was around this point that David and I would keep seeing each other in feed stations, I think he was in and out where as I liked to take a bit longer, having two cups of tea instead of one. A lot of the runners had friends or family that would crew them, someone whom basically catered for all there needs during the feed stations, helping them to make the correct decisions and get food and items from their bags more efficiently. I’m not used to having that so will take a little longer if necessary.
Then we got talking about our old school friend Mark Adlem whom passed away on September 5th 2005, seemed very strange that David and I were both on the Ultra Trail with the CCC race as our focus and old school friends. Suddenly i didn’t care about what position I finished. It was just about finishing within the cutoff and making sure we both finished. I was a little concerned towards the last descent as time was starting to slip, at one stage i ran off down the mountain, stopped at a waterfall to fill my water bottle thinking David was just behind me, 20 Runners came passed before I decided to carry on to the next checkpoint before I got cold again. I waited there in what looked and smelt like a cow barn. I’m pretty sure the cows in the field opposite had only been kicked out the week before! Luckily they had tea and it would take more than some cow sh*t to put me off a cuppa!
We continued along the course chatting when we wanted to and generally being positive that we would finish. As we ran into Chamonix David said he was going to run down the finish line with his daughter. That was cool with me.
There were two sets of steps over the road and the second set I was determined to run over…boom! Legs still worked, yeah the feet and toes hurt but generally I felt good…maybe I have a few more miles in them yet!!!!
The finish line of the UTMB is truly awesome, I love Ironman events and those finishers bring a tear to my eyes but I think the longer the race the harder the emotions…David and I were running next to each other fighting back the tears of pain and emotions and also tears of happiness.
Steve’s friends Stephen Turner and Margot as well as Anne and Toby were waiting for me at the finish. Also one of my new mates a local said you can’t run the UTMB and not have someone wish you in. That was really cool because before I finished I had been watching other races finish with friends and family and I was thinking it’s a shame I’m missing out. Steve would still be running the UTMB…I joked with him that I’d cross the finish line laughing at the fact he still had about 50 miles to run when I finished!
Well as I ran down the finish line someone with a camera followed me, didn’t know who she was with a GoPro and then I spotted my mate, Lisa King stopped and gave her a quick kiss on each cheek. Obviously the French thing to do and then made that finish line. Turned and congratulated my friend David Tarbuck I was then introduced to his wife and his Daughter. Then I posed for pictures with Stephen and can’t thank him and Margot enough. I can’t think of my finish without fondness for them both. They are truly loverly people and hope I get to spend more time with them in the future. My mate came over and I think originally the deal was a drink if I went sub 24hrs but I settled for a coffee in town…was surprised to find a gathering of ladies whom made my time in Chamonix pretty cool. Thanks to Emma Burton who gave me my pre race and post race massage in the alps. If you are ever in Chamonix make sure you find her. She also runs a B&B with her husband Paul…he’s pretty awesome too…he ran the TDS this week and smashed it!
I didn’t stay long in the cafe, I thanked the girls for all the support and then headed off to my apartment for a much needed shower. I forced myself up the three flights of stairs…legs still work but couldn’t wait to throw my bag on the floor and not need to pick it up again. After my shower i played some music to myself and generally felt damn pleased with myself for finishing. Had a cuppa tea and then after being awake for 36 hours i had a two hour nap. I then went into town with my mate and ate as much melted cheese, potatoes and ham as I could. Think it’s called TArtiflette, very tasty, then took a Minty ice cream to the race finish and watched some more finishers.
I didn’t stay long as I was shattered and needed to get off my feet. I messaged Sinead and asked her to wake me up when she got back from crewing Steve on his race, I get checking the tracker and sending messages but got nothing back..this year he was focused…Sinead agreed to wake me so I didn’t miss Steve finish. Could you imagine if I had…well I was awake by about 4am reading FB posts and felt as hungry as…so made a cuppa and a bowl of cornflakes…then I read my book a little it’s called Seven steps from Snowdon to Everest!
I then dozed for a bit but kept tracking Steve…then i messaged Stephen to see if he was planning to go see Steve , basically he was and he agreed to pick me up. Whoop whoop, I was going to be able to see Steve out on the course..Sinead had done an awesome job at crewing and she really has been lovey this weekend. Margot and I were fighting back the tears when we spotted Steve coming towards us and was soo good to see him. He was in a good place and we could now relax a little, Stephen, Margot and I had the luxury of getting breakfast from a bakery and then went back to theirs to talk about races and drink coffee before heading to the finish to cheer Steve in. That was just as emotional as i thought it would be…and as I’m standing there…watching runners cross that finish line I start thinking, start imagining, start to visualise me crossing that finish line….how cool would that be…..
I didn’t know it but maybe just maybe my journey to the UTMB has already started….Steve wtf you crazy friend.
Later after many shouts of bravo, tears, smiles. I hug Steve and tell him he’s awesome. We all hug, i then meet up with my mate David for a couple of beers, we talk abut everything..so much, I forget about the after party…we were having our own, we then hug…I go back to the apartment for a cuppa with Steve and manage to drag him to the afterparty…we missed the free beer n free socks but chat with a couple of finishers have a pint and then head back to the apartment for more tea.
I love tea!
I also love the support from all of my friends whom have read this and understand what I love doing.
So many wishes and likes helps make my smile go that little bit further.
Running any distance can bring out emotions in you and I find the longer the race the bigger the emotions.
Our running club is such a good source of inspiration and I hope everyone at some point in there personal journey receives the love and support that I have from friends.
You are all awesome and are capable of doing so much more than you may first think.
Train hard, check every detail like your name is Steve Morris and enjoy.
You haven’t come this far to just come this far
Chamonix has been awesome, I love the mountains here and the people I have been lucky to meet have been cool. Hopefully I will stay in contact with them and new adventures will develop. I don’t think I’ve been to a race and felt so welcome.
The training camp Steve and I was on will almost certainly change our training for the better and I’m excited to get running again. Thank you to my Chamonix team… Chloe Lanthie Chloe Lanthier, Kaz Williams, Kaz Williams Thank you David for being a great new old friend.
Steve I’m not talking to you…too jealous that you are off to Zermatt and i have to work!
Anything is possible 🙂
Well done massive achievement Steve and Paul
Could you run 8 consecutive parkruns and do each one in a time of under 19 minutes and 30 seconds? Well that is exactly what Redway Runner Jamie Farmer did last week at the London Marathon and in that heat.
Added to that Jamie had run Brighton Marathon just the Sunday before!
This gave Jamie a finish time of 2 hours 39 Minutes and 57 seconds beating some of the elite athletes taking part, in what looks like the fastest time of anyone from Milton Keynes an astounding performance. He came in 148th from a field of well over 42,000 runners.
Jamie said ‘Super happy with 2 sub-3hr marathons in 2 weeks. Brighton in 2:45:35 was quicker than planned and expected but paced it well and finished strong. Easy recovery week followed ahead of the London marathon with a target of sub-2:45 for a Championship time. Paced the race well and finished 5mins ahead of target in 2:39:57, very happy considering the heat on the day and 7 days after Brighton! Big thanks to all the RR out supporting on Sunday, always gives you a HUGE lift when you need it and nice to see so many faces along the way.’
More stats to make your eyes pop a half marathon time for the first half of 1 hour 19 minutes and 11 seconds and the second half at 1 hour 20 minutes and 46 seconds.
Not sure what words to use but wow and what an honour to run in the same race last week (in truth I was just behind Jamie – broad use of the word ‘just’)
So massive well done Jamie
We asked Kerry Huntley who completed the London Marathon for her account as one of our Zero to Heros for her journey, this is it:
“Time is not measured by clocks, but by moments” … said a wise meme on Pinterest, and never have truer words been printed on the world-wide interweb as those.
The first moment in my long line of moments happened when I hauled my large, sorry-for-itself, wobbly butt out of my Freelander on a cold, icy January morning back in deepest darkest 2017, when, in my haste to escape the kids, I thought it would be a great idea to take up a new sport that would be kind to someone in her advancing years. Something challenging … but not TOO challenging, something social … but not TOO social, something energetic … but not TOO energetic.
Marathon blingFast forward 16 months and not only have I changed my car and shed a bit of poundage but I’ve also gone from Zero2Hero and have just run a “not too challenging, not too social and not too energetic” marathon … the London Marathon no less. Go me!! But London was never the end goal of the Zero2Hero course. The end goal has always been to graduate at the MK Marathon …. we’re the Redway Runners, we run Milton Keynes – it’s fitting, it’s apt and it’s where the last part of this journey is taking me. And oh my goodness what a journey it’s been.
Z2H is officially completed in 2 phases, the first phase is gaining a good understanding of the basics such as bra’s, hydration, running stance, strength – both leg strength and core strength, gadgets – and how you really only need a decent pair of running trainers (and a decent running watch, base layers, bone conductor headphones, running belts, hydration packs, calf sleeves, hi-viz running gear, a running torch …. and the list goes on … but don’t worry .. it’s a cheap sport really 🙂 ) and finally, the most important part of phase 1 – how to stay injury free in preparation for phase 2.
z2h AMPhase 2 is where the mileage starts ramping up and there are certain running milestones that we use as our running goals starting with a 5k, then a 10k and moving up to the MK Winter Half Marathon, the Oakley or Bedford 20 until we finally reach the lofty heights of the MK Marathon. Phase 2 is also where we get to find out who our mentors are. For anyone following my SavageMumRuns blog (shameless plug!) you will know that my mentor, Steve Boothby, has taken me through the entire journey from a true Zero to a wanna-be hero and I genuinely don’t think I could have had a better mentor / counsellor / first-aider / Sargent-Major / chief nagger / friend as Steve…. and as an added bonus for me, Steve comes as a package with the beautiful Mrs B – I definitely should have placed a couple of quid on the Lottery, because I was one helluva lucky lady with my mentor (NB: all of the mentors were amazing by the way .. I’m just a lot bias when it comes to Team Boothby!).
It’s a this point that I would like to add in an unofficial 3rd Phase and 4th Phase to the training. Phase 3 is actually the lead up to applying for Z2H – the best way to describe this phase is the “Hazy Phase” .. this is the moment in time when you’ve had a fair few bottles of wine and you think that plodding a mere 26.2 miles will be like a walk in the park. This phase also has a habit of re-appearing throughout the other phases when you least expect it too!.
Phase 4, is what I am calling the “reality phase” – it’s at this moment in your journey when you realise that actually .. no one is going to run this for you. You’ve been given the fundamental’s on running, you’ve been given a mentor, you’ve been given your milestones but no one’s going to be giving you their leg’s in order to run it for you. The coat tails have been severely severed and it’s down to you to put in the hard work. Your social life is no more, forget about a clean and tidy house, everyone will be nice enough not to comment on the fact your ironing pile is the size of Mount Vesuvius and your kids look like they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, you’ll only have 8, (maybe 9 if you’re lucky) toenails to paint when summer comes round, no one will enquire about your weekend plans because you won’t have any, people may once in a while, ask you how the training is going but in reality, as their eyes glaze over and they slowly yet noisily drink their coffee to drown out your commentary on split times, hill training, intervals and tempo runs, they don’t really care – they’re just being nice and potentially feeling a little sorry for your family at this stage, and talking of family …. get those divorce papers in order before you sign up because this is intense stuff and you haven’t got time to do this mid-training. Eyes on the prize folks.
I joke about this of course, but only partially. You can’t train for a marathon and not have it change your life in some way. My training went well until The Great Calf Explosion of October 2017 (clearly I missed the session on “injury prevention”) and as I watched from the sidelines, my fellow Zero’s all became Hero’s in their own right. Yet despite being relegated to the subs bench for 8 weeks, not being able to attend the Z2H Tuesday night sessions and then having to play catch up, with the power of social media, I was at least still able to keep in touch with people …. regardless of whether they wanted to or not #GradeAStalker. But more importantly for me, the wider club members rallied around to support you. The club already does a lot for its members and certainly in the run up to marathon season, there are club runs tailored to support those of us crazy enough to be running a marathon and it was the wider club sessions that helped me keep my sh.. stuff together and focus on the end goal. Everyone of the club members I know, have offered me something over the last year, whether that be their precious time, their support and encouragement through to a shoulder to cry on, a chinwag and even the odd bottle of wine and that makes me so proud to be a Redway.
Running London was an amazingly awesome experience, how cool is it to come in in 32,219th place out of over 40,000 runners in one of the worlds best-loved and most incredible marathons 😉 but at the same time, there is something to be said about running a marathon on your home turf with the people you’ve spent the last 11 months training with (albeit on a ‘virtual’ basis) and with the full support and encouragement of the Green Army. The Z2H course has been tough, it’s been emotional, it’s had really high, high’s and sub-zero low’s but on the 7th May 2018, I will proudly stand on the starting line with the remaining Z2H’s and finally bring my marathon journey home.
This is Nicola Murrs story with Redway Runners to the London Marathon, well done Nicola
At the end of April last year I started Martin’s Beginners group along with 30-50 other people, when I was asked my reasons for joining it was to get fit and maybe run a 10K! I really enjoyed the beginners 10 weeks and was inspired by Martin and Sophie and pushed by Becca and Karen within the beginners group. By the end of the 10 weeks I found i was running up to 5 miles and really enjoying it, on my own I had only ever ran up to 4K and found it very difficult. Becca and I signed up to Women’s Running 10K the day after the graduation 5K and Sophie got us both round the course in 1.08. I remember desperately wanting sub 1hr 10 and would stop at nothing until i got there!
From there i found myself running regularly through the summer and entering more 10K races until Karen suggested Rockingham 10 miles in November. Again Sophie was there to guide us and i remember the joy of completing it. As Leigh says i am the most hyper person post-race and no one can wipe the smile off my face!
Following that I was lucky to put my name in for a sponsorship place for the London Marathon 2018 and to be honest I was going to take it one week at a time. I had a plan and I followed the plan (Sian I listened!) week by week. Training for a marathon isn’t easy, but if it was many more would have a medal! The training through the wet, snow, -1 weather is really tough but if you want something enough and put in the hours you can get it. I was determined to make it and planned in lots of races in my training as check in points as I always perform better in races.
I ran on Sunday in the hottest weather the London Marathon has seen. I didn’t get my target time I was 17 minutes off but I followed the instructions and ran through the showers and took water when it was on offer. I was lucky to finish and very much looking forward to the next one If someone said to me when I joined the beginners group I would run a marathon I would tell them they were joking, but it was a privilege to run through London with 40,000 others. My PB for a marathon is now 5hrs 17 mins and a time on the board!
However, it wouldn’t have happened without joining Redway runners and the support and messages I received pre and post race were so encouraging I was totally overwhelmed. To hear people tracked me on the app and vividly watched as I came across the line is amazing. Thank you to Martin P and Sophie who have encouraged me in beginners from the start and Becca and Karen who kept me pushing through the weeks of beginners. From help and encouragement from Siân Marie stick to my training plan.
Thank you to Simon, Daria Janet Kathryn, Stephen, Sadie Angela, Steve, Sue, Leigh and to Alistair running the whole 9 miles of my long run with me on a Sunday as I was having a bad day. To everyone at Redway Runners club (anyone I’ve forgotten) who have looked after me since I started less than a year ago.
I also kept a blog of the honest ups and downs of my training and raised money for Mind – for mental health. https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaMurr
Now onto planning my next Marathon (there was never any doubt this was always the start!) and to get stronger and quicker!
Below is Pedros race report from Prague half on Saturday 7 April 2018
“Redway Runners!!!”, I hear myself shouting as I get to the start area of the Prague Half Marathon on a very sunny Saturday morning. There, in front of me are Christina and Dom. 2 other club runners whom I had not met before. Small world, big smiles.
Let me rewind to a couple of days earlier. I got to Prague on Wednesday with my family, taking the opportunity to visit friends we made during our 2 years living in this beautiful city.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent catching up with friends and with the city. Prague is one of those cities you never get bored to visit given its beauty. It is also fairly cheap to get to (WizzAir flies from Luton), to move around (the tram, bus and metro system is amazing and you get a 60 minute ticket for 24 CZK for an adult – half for a child over 6 – which is valid across different types) and to eat and drink (you can get a meal for under 150 CZK and a pint of beet for under 40 CZK).
Friday morning I went to the expo, which rivals most major marathons. Lots of brands represented, workshops, lectures, giveaways, etc… My hint, get there at 10am and you have the place for yourself. Easy to walk around, have a look around and get your number comfortably. English is not spoken by everyone but most people will have a try.
Saturday morning, I got the tram and the metro to get to the start area. It is free for runners on race day and from most points of Prague it will not take you more than 20 minutes. The day was sunny, beautiful and not too hot. Although I got to the start area before 9am, for a 10am start, the area was already fairly busy. it is well laid out, signaled and furnished with portaloos. The queues for these are not very long given the number of available loos.
In the so called Technical Area, you can find plenty of changing tents, a great bag deposit area which is setup by the last 2 digits of the runners number – meaning there is a large area but it is easy to get your bag back – massages, showers, taping and medal engraving at the end.
Once you go to your start area, the wait begins. A nice area with enough space fora gentle warm up. The only negative side was most of my area being in the shade which made it quite cold. Shortly before 10am we started having all the announcements about the elite runners, advice, etc… All of this in multiple languages as there were 80+ nationalities represented.
10am and the race starts. It is a fast downhill start, albeit with cobble stones and tram lines requiring you to look where you are stepping. The first few miles have a good attendance on the side of the road although the noise level is quite low. The course is mainly along the Vltava river, taking in the famous Charles Bridge, the Dancing House, the National Theatre, crossing over a few bridges and even passing a famous brewery around mile 3. Along the way, there are plenty of refreshment stations (at least 6) with water, Gatorade, fruit and sponges. There are also portaloos at every refreshment station (I did need a quick stop at one so I can tell you they were there – clean and quick).
Around half way and with the sun getting hotter, we pass the starting area (the course is a sort of figure of eight) and a lot of public clapping and cheering in this area. I also see my family who give me big smiles and high-fives to keep going.
The second half of the race takes you to areas with much less public, when you most needed it. The course is still flat though and you can surely aim for a PB here.
My race revolved more around pacing myself properly and keeping my energy up than getting a PB and it went to plan. The gels before the start and at miles 4.5 and 9 as well as the water at most stations helped me keep going, with the use of wet sponges nearer the end as the sun was making it quite warm.
You finish on a red carpet and are treated very well afterwards. A beautiful medal, water, fruit, the works. You have to walk a fairly long way though to get back to the baggage area and then to exit the Technical area. On a sunny day like Saturday it is ok. Not so much if the weather is miserable (as the first time I ran this Half, 5 years ago).
I did not manage to see Christina and Dom along the course but checked that they finished and also found out that Abi also ran it. Well done to everyone!
I finished the race in 1:36:36, which was almost a minute faster than what I was aiming for and felt that I had enough energy on my legs to keep going. So much so that, having flown back on Saturday evening, I even managed to join the club’s Sunday Social Run.
In my opinion, Prague is a must-do Half. The entry is not too expensive (50 EUR early bird) and getting to Prague and staying in Prague is not dear. The city is beautiful and the course is flat and definitely has PB potential. Maybe a club trip in 2019?
Name: Caroline Bray
Joined Redway Runners: 12 January 2017
We go on the run with our members and we find out a bit more about them – which we thought would be great to share, this time it is with Caz
17 March 2017
When did you start running and when did you join Redway Runners?
I joined Ros Crawley’s beginners group back in January 2017- on a cold Wednesday evening!
Have you run with other clubs how does Redway Runners Compare?
I’ve never run with another club, I’m not sure I would ever want to, they would have a lot to live up to!
What’s the best thing about being in a running club?
The best thing by far is the undeniable support- support from people you have never met before on a club run, the support from everyone at events cheering you on, the support from running friends you have made as a result- it just cant be beaten!
How much does running with Redway Runners mean to you?
It means a great deal. The safety net of running with the club is huge, sometimes it’s not much fun on your own especially during the winter months. The variety of runs is undoubtedly amazing; to suit all abilities and busy lives. I value being able to run after work at 7pm in a large group, the run leads are running angels!
Tell us about your first time? (with Redway Runners)
I think every beginner feels some nerves- it felt my first day of secondary school all over again! There really was nothing to worry about, everyone was so incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Tell us your history of running?
Zero basically. I did use the treadmill when I was a member of a gym many years previous but not that many times! I avoided PE at school, I genuinely thought I ‘couldn’t run’!
What has been you best running achievement?
Other than completing my 1st parkrun, my best achievement has to be taking part in the Redway Runners Festival of Running last year. I managed to get myself an entry to the 10K the night before- it was my first ever event/race. Although it was tough as I had only covered 7 miles as my furthest distance prior to this, I really dug deep and was elated to cross that line!
What is your running ambition?
My ultimate ambition is to run a marathon. I was due to start training for the MK Marathon at the start of the year, IT band issues have hampered this and still continue to do so. I have since changed my entry to the Half Marathon (this will also be my 1st HM) so this is my new revised goal! With this I want to also promote that anyone can run as I thought I couldn’t be a ‘runner’. Size, age, gender, ability is not a factor.
Why do you run?
I run for fitness, to push myself physically and mentally.
Who have you see while running?
I saw Chris Moyles running round Caldecotte once!
Favourite place to run?
Linford Wood is up there with my favourites! I do love Leigh’s Monday 7pm Summer Step Up route too!!
Tell us about your worst run?
My worst run was a week after I injured myself, I thought I would be able to manage a few miles on one of the social runs- come 2.5 miles, I had to stop and walk back. It was too much. I was so deflated and frustrated.
Best running phrase?
A 12 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile
From the Festival- I was so happy with running my 1st 10K event!
Do you always round up?
Always!! It’s the law!
What do you think about when you run?
What I’m having for dinner, what snack can I eat whilst I’m waiting for dinner, why do I run, I want to walk, I don’t want to walk, dinner again, I feel like I’m running faster than what I actually am.
Love or hate loop backs?
It’s a love/hate relationship!
Run to time or distance?
Depends on the circumstances but normally time with a goal in mind.
If you don’t share your run in social media, did it happen? Where do you log your runs and do you stalk others runs?
If its not on Strava, it didn’t happen.
If you could choose anywhere in the world to run, where would it be?
I’d love to run in America.
Favourite parkrun and why?
Linford Wood- the route is lovely, a real mix bag of urban and woodland. My PB stands at Linford.
What’s your one race essential?
Water! I crumble without.
Have you considered joining the cross country team?
I couldn’t cope with the mud!
Feel free to tell us more
Originally I entered to do the MK Marathon in May 2018. Due to injury this has now changed to the Half Marathon. The main reason for me entering this race was the location, Milton Keynes. As my home town it felt fitting complete my 1st major milestone here. The stadium finish is also a reason, I’ve seen the photo’s over the years- it looks amazing! I’ve been envious but this year I won’t be! With the route taking in some of our beautiful scenery, I couldn’t run anywhere else. I was very lucky to achieve an Ambassador role for the event, helping promote running to everyone and the event itself.
I am also raising money for this, again locally based and the Club’s Charity of the Year- MK Hospital Charity. In my mind, I’m running for all those who dream of running but who physically can’t.
I can’t wait to complete my first Half Marathon in Milton Keynes on 7th May 2018 as a Redway Runner, injury or no injury!
10 hardy Redway Runner souls ventured into deepest darkest Bedfordshire on Saturday afternoon for a frolic in the mud at the Combined Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire County cross country championships. Held in the palatial grounds of The Manor House in Shuttleworth we were surrounded by 425 acres of beautiful parkland and a stunning building designed by prominent Victorian architect Henry Clutton. Apparently, the building contains many fine examples of 19th Century Victorian paintings by artists such as Sir Frank Dicksee and George Cole, sadly we had little time to appreciate the architecture or the artwork as we slogged our way around the 425 acres of ‘gently undulating’ parkland.
Those familiar with cross country will be aware that course measurement is somewhat subjective and one always arrives at a course with the hope that the officials have overestimated the distance rather than underestimated it and that the undulations are rather gentle as opposed to ridiculous long drags. Well dear readers and fellow Redway runners, the officials in this particular race had certainly used the beautiful landscape to its maximum potential by making us run up any slope, hill or incline. These included incredibly long painful drags that went on for ever and short sharp climbs just to make the legs and the lungs burn right at the point one was ready to give up.
And as for the distances, well, one would have thought that with two counties worth of officials then the distance would be vaguely close to the estimate Oh how wrong we were…. It became clear after the first lap of the men’s race that the ‘estimate’ of 11km was considerably out in what eventually became a 25% under estimate with the eventual distance being almost 14 km !!! Talk about hanging on during the last lap !!! The ladies faired no better and were equally faced with a 25% underestimate where they were supposed to run 8km but actually ran 10km !! But where would the fun be in cross country without mud, hills and vague guestimates of the distances to be run.
We had a solid turn out in the men’s team, with 8 hardy souls competing, in the combined Senior men’s/V40/V50 race the men were led home by Dan Hippy in 19th place and 5th in his age category , next in was Adrian Maidment in 23rd place and 9th in category, Andrew Dodds followed close on Aidys heels in 26th place and was the first of the Senior men in 15th place in category and Ben Munns chased him in 36th place and 20th in the youngsters category, Neville Rowles chased Ben home to finish in 41st and 5th in the V50 category closely followed by Richard Doherty in 46th place and 18th in category, Kevin Taylor brought the team home in a fantastic 50th place and 10th in category.
As the observant of you will note, there were eight men competing and so far, we have only mentioned 7, well one of our members was lucky, it seems that the officials were treating him with special dispensation, he had a bright red line across his number and that indicated that he belonged to a different class of runner. Luckily for him that meant he didn’t have to run as far and did one less lap than us !!! Once we realised how far we had to run, it was incredibly tempting to find a pen and put a red line across our numbers and join Derek on his shorter run !! Mind you, Derek didn’t have it all his own way as he had to still do the hills, rain, wind and mud 3 times and finished a fantastic 3rd place in his age category.
The ladies were brilliant in their vocal support of the men and clearly enjoyed the suffering that we endured, but clearly didn’t have to be too gleeful as their time was yet to come !! Redway runners were represented by two brave ladies who ventured out to Bedfordshire, both runners did fantastically well, battling not only the landscape but the weather conditions which had turned somewhat damp and chilly by the time their race started !! Rachel Edwards was first home in 9th place and 1st in her age category and Victoria Berry, running for the first time ever in spikes (brightest ones I have ever seen ) chased Rachel home in 10th place overall and 3rd in her category.
With regards to overall team positions we had enough to score in the Men’s race and finished 5th team overall with a combined time of 5.57.25 and in the Veterans race Redway were 3rd team overall with 3.59.18. Target for next year is a podium finish in the Seniors team and to win the vets category by making sure we have a full-strength team
Fantastic performance by all, well done. Onwards to the next Chiltern League race at Keysoe on Saturday !!
By the end of 2016 I had been running for a few months and somehow getting caught up in all the excitement led to me booking my place in 2 marathons!! I had never really run with people other than Parkrun’s of which I’d completed 29 and after forging ahead managed to complete the winter half (my first half and longest run) in a respectable 1.49 before the close of that year but I knew 2017 would present some challenges….
The year started with a huge high, after some Strava banter I met up with a fan of mine Nicky. She made quite the impression during our first parkrun together, swearing most of the way round! I then took up the New Year’s Day opportunity to run to Willen and complete my second parkrun of the day. I think this was the main difference (there’s been a few) with my running this year, having the confidence to run to runs or put in additional miles before or after planned outings.
At this time Nicky was running with Sweatshop running club and I joined her for a couple of their evening runs…… after a couple of conversations with Martin I took the plunge and joined Redway Runners. I picked RR due to the huge amount of different runs starting all through the week, it just worked with me and my shifts at work – Martin had also mentioned they would be doing marathon training, just what I needed. I attended my first run on the 8th Jan, a Sunday club run hour…. plus a bit extra! This was my introduction to the colossal size of the club and Martins time keeping!! January also saw me on the track for the first time since …. School probably, another dimension to the club runs and one I utterly enjoyed.
February and March saw the introduction of Beat the Street in Milton Keynes and it’s fair to say no-one embraced this more than Martin, with runs being centred around collecting as many points from the blasted things!! After a little bit of moaning I managed to steal Nicky away from Sweatshop to her new home with the Redway runners and set a PB of 45mins for my 10km during the chicks & chaps series.
In the run up to my marathons I tried my hand at a mixture of the runs being offered by the club including Friday mornings, Sunday social, weekday intervals and tried to go to parkrun as often as I could. Me and Nicky would often hashtag runs and ensure selfies were taken while getting as much enjoyment from every run. In the first few months of 2017 I got at least 5 of my non running friends to lace up and join me, which I am very proud of!
March saw my first real run with a target for the year, Silverstone Half! I don’t normally set targets, and I certainly don’t advertise them ( fear of failing I think) but I set a target of 1.45 which after my winter half time I thought was realistic, I was very happy with my 1.41 but also with the way I still felt strong in the closing stages. It was also great seeing a few friendly RR faces there.
April was about one thing….. BRIGHTON marathon and after completing all my training during the chilly months you can imagine my excitement at the announcement that it would be run during a heat wave yay!! And WOW was it hot! I adjusted my game plan slightly walking through the water stops towards the end and made it,…. Just! 26.1 miles is a LONG way and do not let anyone tell you different! Completing under 4 hours was a huge buzz (3.51) as was the support from the crowds and Nicky who made the trip. The beer afterwards nearly knocked me off my feet! I was surprised how uncomfortable running was for the next few days but with the support of Nicky and the club runs I did get moving and eventually back to something that resembled a run, about time to because May brought with it the MK marathon! Although I may have felt ready for this, looking back I don’t think my body had long enough to recover from Brighton however I completed it and that really was the target for this one, I surprised myself a bit with the time, in that it was exactly the same as the previous one.… Mr consistent! Annette’s beginners group had a surprising amount of ‘helpers’ the following day.
In July and August I tried to do a bit of speed work, on one occasion I got Nicky on her bike to pace me which was certainly an interesting experience and I was on the track again which I hope to see more of in the new year.
I managed to find to time to set a fastest mile of 6.21 during the RR green mile but also have lots of fun during every run I got to including both mine and Nicky’s 50th Parkrun, which was made extra special with an appearance from Greg Rutherford.
September saw my next challenge in the Bedford half. It’s fair to say I was not feeling this, very much under the weather in the run up to it, struggled massively after 8 miles but found some strength towards the end and completed in 1.39! mixed up things towards the end of sept by attending a few of Katie’s killer classes. October brought along the fun of a treasure hunt, dressing up and winning costume award at Halloween parkrun.
November I dragged myself to the 6.40 club…. Thanks Paul, man those guys are fast, pushed myself and very happy I did, getting quicker is certainly a target for 2018. Sadly in December the winter half was cancelled due to snow….. and yes it did actually snow, very disappointed I went out and completed 15 miles anyway and it was beautiful. That’s about my year, December has seen more dressing up, (and down). I have wound down my running miles but still completed over 1,300 miles this year.
2017 has been a fantastic first year for me and running, aside from a couple of small injuries I have smiled, laughed, and giggled more times than I could even try to count. I’ve met some lovely people and made some amazing new friends for which there are so many memories from Janet stripping in the woods to Nicky running down Bow Brickhill hill quicker than I ever seen anyone move. I’ve been introduced to the social fun side of what I still believe ‘outsiders’ think we are crazy for doing. (sometimes I even get close to agreeing with them!)