Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ultra Marathon Raffle to Raise Money for the Epilepsy Society

Last year I was hoping to arrange a weekend holiday event for ultra runners at CenterParcs toward the end of the year, but unfortunately it never really took off. One of the events that I had organised was a raffle of various ultra-related bits and pieces in order to raise money for the Epilepsy Society. I have been sitting on the prizes that were kindly donated and have been waiting for a good time to set it up again (but this time as a standalone online event). In the interim, Neil Bryant organised a similar raffle for the Facebook Ultrarunning Community page so I didn't want to step on his toes. But I think that enough time has passed that hopefully people will be interested in taking part.

Some of you may know that I suffer from epilepsy myself, although I am very lucky that it is kept completely under control through medication. Other people however are not so lucky, and the Epilepsy Society work tirelessly to help those for whom epilepsy can have a terrible effect on their way of life, as well as funding cutting-edge research to try and understand the disease. Whilst it is one of the most common neurological disorders in the UK, with around 1 in every 100 people suffering from the disease, we don't really understand much about it and a quite frightening number of people still think that it has something to do with demon possession! Very sad.

Anyway, it was actually raising money for the Epilepsy Society that got me into the world of ultra running in the first place, so I wanted to have another go at raising some money to help them in their work. I have been contacting as many people as possible to get as many awesome prizes lined up as possible, and have some pretty cool stuff including lots of signed gear from ultra elites like Mike Wardian, Ellie Greenwood, Mike Morton and Robbie Britton, as well as signed copies of some fantastic ultra-running books and free entries to some of the top races in the UK. There are more irons in the fire, so hopefully this prize list will only get bigger!

If you would like to enter the raffle, simply go to the Just Giving page above (or click on the Just Giving button on the top right of the blog page) and donate towards this amazing cause. For every £1 you donate we will put one ticket into the draw for you. Winners will be drawn on Saturday 21st June, and will be announced in the next edition of the free online ultra running magazine Ultra Tales (due out in July), as well as on this blog. 

There's a little bit of small print to be aware of, but it's nothing too concerning! Firstly, please be sure to leave your contact email address so that I can contact you after the draw to let you know that you have won. Also, please note that where applicable delivery of prizes is limited to the UK only (as it's all coming out of my pocket). But if you are from outside of the UK and would like to enter, I have no issues with sending things overseas if you are happy to put in a contribution for the delivery. Feel free to email me at if you have any questions.

The most important thing is that, if you would like to be included in the raffle, we will not be able to take Gift Aid on your donation, so please do not tick this option.

If you have any questions, or if you would like to donate a prize (the more the merrier!), then please email me at

Prizes currently up for grabs include (please note that more prizes may be added as we approach the draw): 
  • Signed men’s running gear from 4-time USATF Ultrarunner of the Year Mike Wardian 
  • Signed Mountain Hardwear Race Vest from 2012 Ultrarunner of the Year Ellie Greenwood
  • Signed goodies from 2012 Ultrarunner of the Year Mike Morton, including the singlet he wore in his 1997 win at Western States (it's been washed, honest!)
  • Signed running gear and one month’s free coaching from UK Ultrarunner of the Year Robbie Britton
  • Signed copies of ‘Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons’ by iRunFar creator Bryon Powell (one of the best intros to ultra running around)
  • Signed copies of ‘Running and Stuff’ by James Adams (an incredibly funny story of an ordinary guy competing in an extraordinary race)
  • Signed copies of Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run’ by Dave Urwin (an incredibly moving and funny story of Dave's battle with addiction through running)
  • Free entry to South Downs Way 50 or North Downs Way 50 miler from Centurion Running
  • Free entry to the Challenge Running Stort 30 miler 
  • Free entry to the Inov8 “Plague” 100 Km Roseland Trail Series Race from Mud Crew Events
  • Free entry to the Likeys Brecon Beacons Ultra

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Top Shelf Ultra Mags

In this world of instant connectivity through the internet, it is very easy to keep up with the whacky world of ultra marathon running. If anything, it is possible to get overloaded by the amount of information available through blogs, websites such as IRunFar and Ultra168, and podcasts such as Ultra Runner Podcast and Talk Ultra. But if, like me, you can't get enough of it, here are a couple of magazines that you may find of interest.

First up is UltraRunning magazine, possibly the original source for all things ultra. Since its inception in 1981, UltraRunning magazine has given comprehensive results and reports from the US ultra scene, as well as reams and reams of stats and articles from some of the most knowledgable people in the sport. It is definitely American-centric, possibly making it a little less interesting to people from outside of the States, but there is still a tonne of information in there for anybody looking to improve their running. Plus many of the most well-known races are American anyway, so you can read all about your Western States and Badwaters in there. Until recently, it's been pretty difficult to get hold of in this country, but now you can order it directly from Ultra Marathon Running Store. The January/February edition of the magazine contains interviews with American ultra runners of the year Rob Krar and Michelle Yates, as well as a fantastic article from Ian Sharman about how to finish your first 100-miler and a great review of some of the latest trail running shoes on the market. The March issue is available now.

Monday, 17 March 2014

What to expect in 2014

Good grief. It's March! That's, like, a quarter of the way through the year. I've only just gotten used to writing "2014" instead of "2013". There's only 283 shopping days to go until Christmas! Okay, ignoring my histrionics, it is still a little late in the day to be writing a post about my plans for the year, but in fairness the season is only just starting really. Plus nobody cares anyway. Still, it's good to get this stuff down on paper, if only so I don't forget.

2013 was a bit of a damp squib running-wise, mainly due to an injury at Transvulcania which awkwardly occurred slap bang in the middle of my main series of races. Add to that the whole "having a baby" thing, and my running kind of fell by the wayside. Probably for the best to be honest. The end of the year was a case of getting rid of the remaining niggles and avoiding making things worse, which unfortunately resulted in pulling out of the Piece of String so close to the end. Still, it was all good fun, and I have had an amazing year getting to know my little girl! She's almost walking now, and is definitely not a baby any more. Her cheeky little personality should keep me on my toes in the years to come - I can't wait!

But now we're into 2014 and I have some plans. Things have settled a bit in my home life, in particular with respect to sleeping. She's still not sleeping perfectly, but it is a million times better than it was last year. And being able to sleep more than an hour at a time does wonders for your ability to run. Rehab on my knee went well last year due to some sensible decisions on my part, and some great work on the part of my physio, Chelsea Harding. So the only issue is that I have started the year in worse shape than I started 2013. It's not terrible, but I have definitely lost some speed. It's on the mend, and there's plenty of time to get myself sorted. But it will require not eating quite so much cake. Damn.