Thursday 6 November 2014

Piece of String a Race Report 2014 - No strings on me!

I've got no strings
To hold me down
To make me fret, or make me frown
I had strings
But now I'm free
There are no strings on me

The Piece of String Fun Run is a singular race, with a simple premise - nobody knows how far it is until they finish (possibly including the organisers). It is, to assign the required superlative necessary for any ultra race, the Most Pointless Race in the World (TM). It began 2 years ago as the fevered dream of James Adams, with a little help from James Elson who is a little more au fait with the logistical management skills necessary to arrange such an event. Now in its third incarnation, it has become something of an institution (albeit a stupid one) in the UK race calendar.

Pretty much sums up this race.
The first year's race was a lot of fun, despite being in just about the worst conditions I have ever run in. 120 miles (and about 36 hours) later and I was one of only 2 finishers of the inaugural race. The second year's race was much nicer in terms of conditions, but the ante was raised with a trip to the other side of the country thrown in to keep people guessing about where and how far we would be running. An injury at about 120 miles meant I had to stop - as it turns out only 10 miles from the finish. But what would they throw at us this year?!

Monday 3 November 2014

The Wisdom of Pooh

If you've ever run for over 24 hours in the arse-end of nowhere, you know that Pooh is an inevitability. But I had never really fully appreciated the poignancy and philosophical leanings of the little yellow bear until I had a child. Now, reading through the many adventures of Pooh and his friends on practically a daily basis, I see many lessons that can help us all to become better runners.

With the third edition of the Piece of a String Fun Run due to kick off tomorrow, I have found myself taking advice wherever I can get it. For those who don't know, the concept of the race is that runners do not know in advance how far (or indeed where) they will be running - until they finally cross the finish line. How do you plan for a race like this? Therein lies the game.

Only 2 people have finished each year, making it one of the Toughest Races in the World (TM). I was one of them in the inaugural event, after surviving 130ish miles of floods, mud, wind and rain. Last year's conditions were much more pleasant, but I pulled up short only 10 miles from the finish after a day and a half of running with a knee injury. Tomorrow I will see if I can redress this balance and go 2 for 3 with the World's Most Pointless Race.

In last year's event, the stakes were raised considerably, with bluffs, double bluffs, and general evil conniving on the part of Race Director James Adams. What could he possibly have in store this year I wonder? I have my suspicions...

The beauty of this race is its simplicity; run until we say stop. It really is no more complicated than that. So for somebody whose running philosophy revolves around maintaining an air of general stupidity, who better to advise me than that silly ol' Pooh bear. Here are a few words of wisdom from the willy, nilly, silly old bear:

Teaching my little girl philosophy from a young age (yes that is hand painted)