Wednesday 17 August 2011

Long Tour of Bradwell - August 2011

I recently completed the Long Tour of Bradwell, a 33 mile race in and around the Hope Valley. This was my second race in the RunFurther series of races, and was in the "Short" category. It is odd to think that I have gotten to the stage where 33 miles is considered a short run, but it is funny to see that my friends have become completely desensitized to these things. When informed that I was "off up a mountain running a 33 mile race" by my fiancee Jen, her friend responded "oh right, so just a quick run then?". However, whilst the distance was short, the elevation most definitely wasn't. Whilst only a third of the length of the South Downs Way from a few weeks ago, the elevation was almost half that of SDW (~7,000 feet). And SDW was pretty darn hilly. I guess that's why they call it the Peak District...

Whilst I live in Cambridge (sooooo flat!), I was quite surprised at how close the Peak District actually was. I headed up on the Friday evening and crashed at a friend's house who, fortuitously, lives only 20 minutes away from the start of the race. My friend, Colin, was unfortunately away but was kind enough to hide a key for me to use. I hope that my fumbling around in the back garden under the cover of darkness didn't attract too much attention from the neighbours...

I woke up early on Saturday morning and headed towards Bradwell Sports Pavillion, where the organisers from Dark and White were in the process of setting up. The weather was not looking favourable. A heavy downpour had hit on the short journey, so heavy that it was difficult to see the road. When I arrived, I seemed to have outrun the rain, but the clouds were not looking promising. The forecast was suggesting that the rain would hit at about 9am and would last through the day until about 4pm - pretty much exactly the time that I was likely to be running. Things were looking like they were going to get wet! To avoid carrying too much equipment, I decided to wear a warmer top and a winter hat so that I could stay warm whilst up the hills.

Monday 1 August 2011

It's An Ultra-Marathon, Not a Marathon

It has just occurred to me that I never posted this, and given the amount of hard work that went into it that is unforgivable on my part! In April this year, I made my first foray into ultra-running by adding a 96 mile warm down run onto the end of my first ever marathon which I ran in London (I blogged it as I went, starting from here). This was all in aid of the Epilepsy Society, to help raise as much money as possible, and kind of started off as a joke that spiraled out of control! This was before I really knew anything about ultra-marathon running, or that people do stupid things like running 120 miles non-stop all of the time. As with many people, I've now been well and truly sucked into the sport...

My fantastic friends Dan, Pete, Dave and Zoe, and my wonderful long-suffering fiance (soon to be wife) Jen followed me through the night, driving from village to village and making sure I wasn't eaten by bears on my travels. Pete is an avid film-maker, and spent a lot of time filming proceedings. This is a short version of the film that he has put together, which is frankly fantastic (cinematographically speaking - the running leaves a lot to be desired!).

It was really interesting for me to see events from their point of view. I can't help but feel that they had a worse time of it than I did!