Saturday, 30 October 2010

Autumn Colours

Just an easy run this afternoon. Took my camera to get some shots of the autumn colours in the last of the afternoon sun.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Kielder Results

It is nearly a week since Kielder Marathon and I have had the full week off running to recover. I picked up one or two niggles training for this race and I want to give them time to settle down before training hard again. However, I am going down to run with the club tomorrow morning. It was the National Cross Country Relays at Cumbernauld today, I was sorry to miss that but hopefully it means everyone will be taking it easy tomorrow.

A week on and the Kielder results are still incomplete. There is no age group or club information included. I contacted the organisers who said they won't be updating them now but as they have had a few queries about this they will definitely be including this information next year. Not a great response but fair enough it is a new race and there are one or tow lessons to be learnt. It was a lovely course to run and I was pleased I decided to go and run it.

The race was won by Midlands based Kenyan Zachary Kihara in 2.29.06 under a minute ahead of Polish runner Bartek Mazerski and fellow Kenyan Julius Kimeu in third. Darran Bilton from Leeds easily took the vet category win, the V45 finishing in an amazing 2.34.31. Ultra distance mountain runner and world 100km champion, Lizzie Hawker was first women in in 2.58.22. This course must have suited the ultra runners with Scottish 50k champion Marcus Scotney finishing 7th in 2.42.29. I knew at the start that I had no chance of winning my age group when I spotted Sedgefield's Gary Hetherington lining up. I was flying earlier in the year and ran a great time at Dentdale to finish 10th but Gary was almost 5 minutes ahead of me. It was no surprise then that Gary took the V50 title, finishing 11th in 2.51.58. The lack of age group data means I can't be sure where I finished in my age group - I suspect 2nd or 3rd but, taking into account my limited training and the challenging course I was pleased with 33rd place and 3.13.42.

I am going to have a few weeks easy running now but my next race is likely to be the Glasgow Uni 5 miler in two weeks time.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Killer Kielder

I ran the inaugural Kielder Marathon this morning. 26.2 miles of undulating trails around the largest man-made reservoir in Northern Europe. With the paths recently finished to complete a full circuit of the lake, the race was the idea of Steve Cram.

The temperature was -3c as I drove from Hexham into the Kielder forest and reservoir area at 8am this morning but by the time the race started it had cleared up and was a lovely sunny day. Two things struck me as I arrived. The first was the absolutely stunning scenery that confirmed Steve's claim that it was the most beautiful marathon in Britain, the second thing was the huge area the reservoir covers and reality sunk in. I was about to start the most challenging race I have ever done on less training than is probably needed.

Up at the start there was a short delay to allow all competitors to be bussed up from the car park but that was the only blip in what was otherwise an extremely well organised race. There were around 1500 runners lining up, including an elite team challenge of teams from Britain, Europe and the rest of the world. Steve Cram started the race before joining in, though it was rumoured he would be dropping out at half way.

I was slightly concerned by the uphill start that went on for the best part of a mile before dropping down to the finish area and we were away on the paths. My race plan went out of the window early on as I got into a group and felt comfortable knocking out 7 minute miles. This was a little faster than I had planned for but it felt OK and I got chatting to a local runner from Hexham, who had run exactly the same time as me in London. The course was undulating but we were either running up or down, never on the flat. Whilst there were no very severe hills in the first half, there were some fairly steep climbs but my legs were recovering well on the downhills. I went through halfway in just under 1.32 but the locals warned me there was a tough stretch coming up. They were not wrong, some steep climbs and steep descents until we arrived at the dam at 18 miles - the only flat section on the course. As we turned to head back to the finish there was a strong head wind that didn't bode well for the last 8 miles but we were sheltered a little by the trees and so it was the hills in the last 6 miles that proved to be a real challenge.

The course marking was excellent with mile markers, all but two were very accurate, and warning signs for every steep incline or decline. This seemed a bit of a luxury but the downhills tended to be quite twisty and so extra care was needed to avoid skidding off the paths. The downside of this though is the last thing you want to see after the 22 mile marker is a 'steep incline' sign!

In the last 4 miles or so, I was tiring but still relatively strong. However, the hills were energy sapping and I had a few heart stopping moments on the downhills as my hamstrings felt like they were cramping up. At half way I was in 37th position but, despite the field being strung out by this stage, I think I passed five or six runners who were really struggling. Two passed me looking very strong so I reckon I was comfortably in the top thirty five when I crossed the finish line in 3.13.40. Consensus was that the course was about 20 minutes slower than a road marathon so it compares with my London performance but official results are not yet available.

This was a great race to be part of, a friendly atmosphere, and great scenery. It seemed to me that most of the runners were from the North East but there were some from further afield. I would certainly recommend this if you are looking for a real challenge and something a bit different - but don't expect a PB!

Steve Cram finished the race in 3.47, looking very fresh.

Official results

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Kielder Marathon

I am looking forward to tomorrow's Kielder Marathon with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. A trail marathon around the largest man-made lake in northern Europe is probably the most challenging race I have ever attempted. I ran 2.54 at London Marathon in April but there will be a world of difference between that race and tomorrow's. There will be no crowds 6 deep in places to urge the runners along over the last 6 miles and the course is bound to be more exposed to the elements than the streets of London.

It is rumoured that Steve Cram will be competing having just returned from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

I won't be bettering my London time on this course and so my plan will be to run very comfortably for the first half of the race to get the measure of the course and conditions and then try and run a negative split by pushing on in the second half if I feel I can do it. This is the opposite of my normal London tactics. I will be happy with a time of around 3.15 tomorrow but I have no idea whether this is realistic for the course so I might have to adjust my targets as I go along. I have run London Marathon 18 times but I may just learn something new about marathon running tomorrow.

If I survive I will post a race report tomorrow evening.

Results should appear here after the race

Friday, 15 October 2010

Kielder Countdown

I have just returned from a short break in the lovely Polish city of Krakow. Had a great time but I am not sure it was ideal final preparation for the Kielder Marathon on Sunday.

Too much eating and not enough running but that might not be a bad thing the week before a marathon. I managed two easy 6k runs around Krakow Old Town - it was very cold first thing in the morning.

I now have to turn my attention to Sunday's race and I am not sure what I am letting myself in for! This will be a significant challenge for me for a number of reasons, I have never run two marathons in a year, I have never run an off-road marathon and most importantly, I have not trained anywhere near as much as I normally do for London Marathon. Running a trail marathon will be very different from my annual run around the streets of London and as this is the first ever Kielder Marathon I am not sure what to expect. From what I can find out the course is undulating but I don't think there is much steep climbing.

If nothing else, it will be good to be part of a new race and an interesting challenge but it is difficult to know what my target should be time wise. The course will be a lot slower than London and some chat on the Runners World forum suggests it could be about 20 minutes or more slower than a road race. I will need to have a think about my race plan over the next 24 hours!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Mugdock Turbo X

I was down at Mugdock early this morning and ran for around an hour before the Turbo X race started. I wish I had been competing again this year, it is a challenging course but great fun. However, it is far too close to the Kielder Marathon next Sunday so I had to sit this one out.

I ran around parts of the course and although I missed out some of the more challenging parts, it was clear that the recent wet weather was going to make it tough going for the competitors today.

As I was running round the course I spotted a few good spots to take some photos and watch some of the action. Some of the best parts of the course are quite inaccessible, so I settled for taking some within a mile of the start and then jogged through the woods to take some more at about 8 1/2 miles and just near the end of the fearsome 'Turbo X' zone.

Not surprisingly, the fell runners dominated the race. Shettleston's Tom Owens romped home with a lead of over 6 minutes from second placed Brian Mcewan who was first vet home in an impressive time of 1.15.29. Anna Frost was 12th overall and first woman home in 1.22.29. VP City of Glasgow's Jacqui Thompson was third woman and first vet in 1.29.59, and as far as I could see, Victoria park's only entrant today.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Mugdock Extreme Trail Race

It is the Turbo X extreme trail race in Mugdock tomorrow. I ran this last year and it was great fun but I won't be able to run it this year as it is too close to the Kielder trail marathon next Sunday.

I am planning to go and spectate this year and will take my camera to get some photos.

This is 10 miles of off-road terrain that takes the runners through some extreme challenges. Energy sapping hills, cold rivers and muddy channels are just some of the obstacles in store for competitors tomorrow. In the later stages of the race comes the 'Turbo X' zone, the most difficult part of the course.

I am sorry to miss this one but I am looking forward to going down to watch.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Liverpool training and Kilomathon Update

I have been in Liverpool this week and managed a few easy runs along the waterfront towards South Liverpool. It is a good few years since I ran along here and the landscape has changed dramatically. I have run the Riverside 5 mile Road Race many years ago but a marina and hundreds of flats have appeared since then.

Kilomathon results are now available. I finished 16th overall and first vet50. Obviously I now feel a little differently about the entry fee - big budget races may have big prizes!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Scotland Kilomathon (plus a bit extra)

So history was made today - the first time the 'kilomathon distance has been run in Scotland. If you put aside the outrageously expensive entry fee it wasn't a bad event and I enjoyed taking part but there were a few glitches to be overcome for next year's event. For such a well publicised event it wasn't a huge field. This may be because it was a heavy weekend fixture wise with the Loch Ness Marathon, the Scottish Vets Half Marathon and the McAndrew Road Relays keeping many of the top club runners away.

The course itself was far more challenging than I thought it would be. Starting from the Royal Highland Showground at Ingliston just outside Edinburgh. The first few km were around the showground and along rough paths around the perimeter fence of the airport before heading off along country lanes to the Forth Road Bridge. Crossing the bridge was good but it was a steep incline and went on for much longer than I expected. Coming down off the bridge just after 10k marker, the leading runners were heading back in the opposite direction. By this time the field was strung out and whilst there was not much chance of me catching anyone, there was a big gap behind me too. Running through the picturesque riverside town of Queensferry should have been enjoyable but the cobbled streets made it a bit of a challenge. We then hit a huge climb out of the town and by country lanes back towards the airport and the finish line.

I finished in 1.47.08, slightly slower than my target time but well up the field (no results yet but I think I finished in the top 15) and I was relatively pleased with the first part of my double marathon challenge (the easiest part admittedly). It was a good hard workout and I enjoyed racing over an unfamiliar distance and along a course I hadn't run before but there is plenty of room for improvement.

Firstly, the race was supposed to be 26.2 km but every one's Garmins were reading 26.5. Fair enough, it could be argued that Garmins are not 100% accurate but the consensus was that this course was slightly over distance. Once I downloaded the data it appears that three of the km's were about 100 metres long the rest were about spot on. The second problem was trying to get out of the car park after the race - it was chaotic and took the best part of an hour! (and they charged us £3.50 to park!).

A nice touch was getting your finish time texted to you within a few hours of finishing but it was disappointing that it didn't include finish position or age group position. Despite this it has the makings of a good race and I was pleased with my performance. The race takes place next year on the same day as the London Marathon, so I won't be able to take part but it is timed about 5 weeks before Edinburgh Marathon and so I can see a much bigger field next year - hope they sort the car park out by then!

Update and full results will follow when available.