Friday, 22 September 2017

Ultra Chicken

Ultra chicken loves to run,
She runs around the world for fun.
Come scorching sunshine, rain or snow
It's Ultra Chicken; go, go, go!

Now here's a very silly thing,
This race is called the Piece of String.
You must run, and run, and then
Go out and run, and run again.

No one knows quite when to end,
S' enough to send you round the bend.
But focus, try, and persevere...
You'll likely fail - so try next year!

The mountain race UTMB
Is held each year in Chamonix.
In the mountains way up high,
It's clucking tough, and you might die.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

UTMB Race Report 2017 - Needs More Cowbell

The UTMB is one of, if not the most well known mountain ultra in the world. Granted, that is a fairly niche category in which to find yourself at the top of the heap. However, find yourself in Chamonix or any of the villages surrounding Mont Blanc at the end of August during the UTMB festival of running, and you might think that you had stumbled upon a big city marathon nestled away in the mountain valley. The atmosphere is, quite simply, electric, with the sounds of cowbells and shouts of "Allez!" ringing out day and night. And the finishing chute in Chamonix, where runners pass hundreds of cheering supporters high fiving kids as they go, is teeming with energy no matter the weather or time of day (or night).

Race week consists of five main events; the titular UTMB (Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc - Chamonix to Chamonix, 171 Km, 10,000 m ascent), the CCC (Courmayeur to Champex-Lac to Chamonix, 101 Km, 6,100 m ascent), the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie, 119 Km, 7,200 m ascent), the newer OCC (Orsiéres to Champex-Lac to Chamonix, 56 Km, 3,500 m ascent), and the team based PTL (Petitie Trotte a Léon, 290 Km, 26,500 m ascent). They are spaced out so that there is always something going on around Chamonix, with the main event of the UTMB concluding proceedings.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

At what point do I stop calling myself an ultrarunner?!

Boy, I am out of practice. Not only at writing this blog (I think this is my second one so far this year), but also at running in general. I hurt my foot in November 2015 (annoyingly it wasn't running related), and it has never quite been right since. It's not too bad, and I still run on it most days without too many issues, but if I try and run longer than 5 miles I quickly remember that it is not "right". I've tried various different treatments to no avail, so now I'm just going to bite the bullet and pay to get somebody to MRI it and get a good look at what the issue is. I just need to finish selling my house first so that I actually have some money...

But what I am struggling to get my head around at the moment is whether or not I still count as an ultra runner. I don't really care too much about being able to say I run ultras (I actually dislike the phrase anyway and tend to just call myself a "runner"), and my wife will tell you how poor I am at counting. But I do love running longer stuff and making a day (or two) out of it. And this is what I haven't really done for a long time - and I'm really missing it.

Because I wasn't running, and because of moving my whole family across the country to start a new life (which is going marvellously, thanks for asking), I've been away from races and away from social media a lot. And to be honest I am struggling to get back into it all. Who would have thought posting inspirational memes could be so hard. But I really miss the community of ultra running and I'm going to try and ease my way back in.

I even tried to race a few weeks ago, taking part in the Serpent Way 100K from Haslemere to Petersfield. The race ran through various trails around the South Downs that I have never run on before, and due to its winding nature it was never more than about 45 minutes away from where I live. I figured I could give it a go, and if it all went to shit I would be able to find a way back without too much hassle. 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Hey guys, remember me?

Dear diary,

It's been a long time since I wrote anything. You're probably wondering what the hell happened to me! 

No? Anyone? 

Well, okay, probably nobody really cares, but it has indeed been a really long time since I blogged anything. There's two main reasons for this silence: 1) I've been busy, and 2) I haven't done anything worth blogging about.

The last year has kind of sucked in terms of running. I injured my foot over a year ago, and still haven't got to the bottom of what it is or how to get rid of it. The most annoying part is that it wasn't  even running related - it happened while walking around the Natural History Museum. It's manageable, I can still run, I just can't train like I used to. I've seen various people, had a rather useless few months going through the NHS, and still don't really know what it is. So I'm just cracking on, and it's okay - it's just not right. I miss just going for a run and not having to think about things.

Anyway, the point is it sort of put a damper on last year. I was still able to run, and managed the first two races of the Centurion Running Grand Slam; the South Downs Way 100 which was great fun (unlike the year before), and the Thames Path 100 which I finally finished after 2 botched attempts. But the week before the North Downs Way 100 I developed some worrying symptoms that freaked my doctor out and led to a whole barrage of tests (all negative thankfully). I could barely stand up straight, never mind run and things were still a bit iffy for the Autumn 100. So another year, another failed Grand Slam. Sigh.