Some video footage of this years Wall Run .. I also note the entries are open for 2014 😉
Stage 3 – 13 miles (3 hours 24 minutes)
Leaving the Half Way point I felt pretty low which was a quantum shift to how I felt 45 minutes previously upon arriving. I think it was seeing my support team and knowing that they were about to jump into the car and take a meer 45 minutes to get to what would take me at least 3 hours. I also knew I had the monster hill which would have me scrabbling up on hands and knees. I’m sure the folks who do this event over two days have a pretty nasty shock as this will be about 10 minutes into the second half of the course.
Upon getting to the top I recorded another video on the GoPro. This put my mind back to 12 months previous as that was the last video I recorded. The pain and mental anguish last year meant the last thing on my mind was video recording. Today was different. I knew the next 7 or 8 miles was mostly down hill and once again my mood had shifted. It was in a good place as I started to make my way back of the hill and onto the open (and very straight) road. I came across a couple of folks, one of whom was struggling to run (severe pain in his hip). He was however keeping quite a good 4mph pace while fast walking so I decided to walk with him for a bit. He had completed parts of the West Highland Way, another run I’d like to do at some point, so it was great to get some further insight into that particular race. We chatted for about 30 minutes and then as we approached another down-hill section I said my goodbyes and started to run. We had now passed the 40 mile marker and my legs felt really good. I stretched out a bit on the downward section, reaching the dizzying heights of 6mph … the sun was on my back (as was the wind), the scenery was fantastic and I felt good – this is why I love to run I said to myself.
Another key point to compare myself with last year was the last 1 mile before the check point. Last time out this again had become mental torture as I anxiously looked for the Race Race flags that would mark the check point. I believe (Alistair can confirm) that there was quite a lot of swearing. This year however I shuffled along (not at 6mph now) and reached the check point (and my support crew) with a smile on my face. Some more food, filling up the water bottles and a further change of socks and I was ready to hit the next section – all 17 miles of it.
Stage 4 – 17 miles (5 hours 25 minutes, including a 30 minute pitstop)
Leaving the pit stop I decided to stick on some music. I wasn’t going to let myself think about the distance and my pace (which while currently hovering around 4mph would I knew drop below that). In my normal life I’m not a big trance fan but when running I love it. I must have looked like a throw back to the 80s with my florescent colours and spandex, while throwing some never-seen-before dance moves.
About 6 miles out from the check point I met up with another runner (well shuffler) who again looked like he was struggling. I myself was starting to really feel it in my legs and so started to walk with him (it would turn out we would stick together for the remainder of the race). Keeping an eye on our pace (to ensure we didn’t get too slow) we set about trying to maintain a brisk walk on the uphill and level sections, breaking out into a trot when possible on the downhill bits. While I felt I still had some running inside me I felt we both needed a bit of company to keep us going. I’m so glad I made this decision as with the banter (he was from the South of Ireland with me from the North) flowing the miles (despite the slower pace) started to tick down. It did make me laugh that he kept trying to do mental arithmetic, failing miserably. It would go something like … so we are running 4mph … so in 3 hours we will be … okay so we left the last check point at 7.30pm … we should arrive at …. Oh hang on .. so we ran ..
We passed the 1st of two pit stops on this section and took on some more water. At this point, despite it still being quite light I decided to get into my night gear. It would save having to stop later in evening. We were also going to be passing through some forest areas where the light would be much worse. Onward and forward, from time to time a shout of “hey You Tube guy … you can do it” would echo over the course …
Reaching the final check point we were told it was 6 miles to go. I argued that this could not be the case as the course stated it was 5 miles from this point. I then remembered that this was the same check point we were told it was 12 miles to go rather than 7 (that we had mis calculated) last time, so I took the 1 mile increase with a smile and moved on. A few blisters on my feet had started to give me a bit of bother but again nothing like last year. Mentally I was feeling strong although tiredness was certainly kicking in. As we ticked into the last mile before the final check point I dreamt of warm coffee .. something to kick me back into gear. 1/4 mile to go read the sign. It lied. It was still about a mile. Perhaps this was the extra mile the folks at the last pit stop were talking about. Arriving at the final check point felt good. I had made it though that last 17 mile section in reasonable shape. The check point however resembled a scene from World War Z. Given we were now 17+ hours into the race it was never going to be full of athletes ready to bounce through those last 7 miles. There were groans, people being sick, laying around and generally in a pretty bad state. I did what I could to encourage, going around each of the worse for wear folks and offering a word or two of encouragement. Some acknowledged, others just stared out into the distance. I knew what they were feeling. I was there last year and those 7 miles may have well have been 700. As I hitched up my pack for the final time and stepped out into the darkness it had started to rain. There seemed to be a bunch of runners heading off at the same time so this would be a good group to run (or get lost) with. This was it … the last 7 miles. Let’s do this shit.
Stage 5 – 7 miles (2 hours 37 minutes, including a 30 minute pitstop)
I started to think about last year again. We would soon be passing the point of my DNF. Running past it I recorded a short go-pro (a frame of which you can see below). I felt quite emotional and my thoughts again turned to Alistair who had unselfishly decided to DNF at the same point. Despite the pain in his shins he could have finished if he had wanted to but confirmed we started together we would finish together – no matter where that was. A true friend and his unselfishness at this point both shows the his true character and will forever live with me. Thanks Buddy.
We passed that point and then I realised from here on in it was all new. I’d not run this part before and I was looking forward to the moment when we dropped down beside the Tyne and the bridges were in sight. A few of the group were from the area and were able to confirm when we would see the bridges, how many there were etc…
As the first of them appeared from around the corner a huge feeling of relief rushed over me. Okay Nigel, just keep on plodding, nothing silly. It was at this point that 3 of us realised we were going to be cutting it very fine if we wanted to get under 20 hours. We started to pick up the pace. As we entered the last half mile I picked up the pace even more. It was a strange sensation. I couldn’t feel my legs but I was moving forward and that was all that mattered. Under the Tyne bridge, the Millenium bridge was in view. As we crossed it a few finishers from earlier gave us support. The finish line in sight along with the support crew who were cheering me home. Over the finish line …. I had done it.
69 miles, 2 pairs of trainers, 5 changes of socks, blisters, chaffing, tiredness, pains, over 8k calories burnt and 20 hours 58 seconds (dam you 58 seconds) on the clock.
Alistair once again came up trumps with a cold beer in a proper glass – despite it being 3am I gulped it down. The folks taking the finishers pictures did look rather confused as to where I had managed to get this from. (or perhaps it was just the sight of a a 69 miler ultra marathon finisher drinking a cold beer at 3am on a rainy morning in Newcastle)
I hobbled across to pickup my bags, said my goodbyes to the folks I’d been shuffling with the last 5 hours and headed for the car. A short journey back to the house and into bed (okay I’m not including the 20 minutes it took me to drag myself up the stairs at his house – Ultra Runners need to live in bungalows I thought)
As I lay on the bed, and despite the pain and tiredness, I had a huge smile on my face. I had come back to bury my demons from 12 months previous. And this I had done.
Indeed, The YouTube bloke had done it 🙂
I took part in last years event which didn’t quite go according to plan. This year I felt better prepared having not only put in extra training but also focused on trying to keep my feet in one piece during the event.
I did however feel so much more nervous than last year – I think a mixture of actually knowing what the event could and most likely would entail, but also the fear of failing AGAIN. I didn’t realise how much it was playing on my mind until the train passed by those famous Tyne Bridges – this was it, no turning back now. (well I could have but it was a long run back to Cambridge if I did)
It was also at this point that it hit home that I would be doing this without my running buddy, Alistair. It would later hit me (hard) how much I missed his company. As I left Alistair, his wife Lauren and my own wife Nicola (who once again would be spending her birthday chasing down her husband across muddy fields) I felt sick. I felt excited and if the truth be told quite emotional.
The train across from Newcastle to Carlisle was packed full of other runners – it was however difficult to strike up a conversation to pas the time. I tried with one girl who looked like she may be running it, but upon me asking “you running?” .. she looked confused before answering .. “no I’m on the train !!”
As we arrived in Carlisle the first thing that was (very) different from last year was the weather – it was dry. It was actually sunny. As we arrived last year we could have charted a small fishing boat to take us from the station to the Castle. A rather uneventful registration (apart from some bloke trying to feed me some kind of flapjack which to be honest tasted like 3 day old socks wrapped in pine nuts – I tried to be polite and swallow but couldn’t stomach it and proceeded to yak it back up into the one thing that was in my hand – my hat. The poor bloke looked shocked and moved away)
It was as I was leaving I got my first “Hey, are you that guy from YouTube?” comment … This made me smile as I nodded. “Good luck this year, you can do it” he followed up …. Made me smile even more …
I was staying outside of Carlisle .. which after last years events (read 4am no sleep due to clubbers outside my window) was a godsend. The Taxi driver, after hearing me chat about the following days events, proceeded to inform me that there was a really nice 6 mile run around the hotel if I fancied it …. err no thanks. Strangely the receptionist also made this recommendation and also how well equipped their gym was.
No thanks …. just show me where I can eat the animals !
Dinner and my usual pre race pint of the Black stuff and it was time to hit the sack – but not before another chap asked me if I was that YouTube bloke ….
Right time to get some sleep …. they say today had been the Longest Day but as I my head hit the pillow (or rather some flimsy excuse for a pillow) I had sneaky feeling tomorrow would run it a very close second.
I also realised my hat still smelt of pine nuts ..
Well I type this sitting on a train heading to Newcastle … Then onto Carlisle for pre race registration. Yes it’s less than 24 hours until I start on my biggest and most likely toughest race of the year – The Wall Run.
Feeling a mixture of nerves and super excitement .. Probably in equal measures …. Race bags are packed …. Today is all about two things; relax and EAT. I’ve held back on eating too much this week so today I get to fill my boots (and the probably eat those as well).
Perhaps it was easier mentally last year as I had no idea what 69 miles running felt like ….. This year I kinda do (well I know how 67 of those 69 felt) and believe me it was tougher than 3 day old steak ….
It also looks like rain for at least part of the course (aka probably all of it) ….. It can’t be as wet as last year …. Can it ?
Today they say is the longest day ….. I reckon tomorrow may trump even that 🙂
See you on the other side !!
As I posted earlier I’m planning a 12 hour training run on 25th May. My plan is to try and cover 40 miles over the 12 hours, and indeed try and keep a steady 4 miles per hour pace (and before you question my calculation I’m allowing for an hours worth of stopping to take on fuel over the course of the day (probably at least 30 minutes or so after lap1).
I know a few have expressed an interest in joining me for part of the run. Below I’ve listed out the route I plan for both lap1 and lap2. Basically both are quite similar in parts. I’ll leave home in Fulbourn, run through Cherry Hinton and then on into town. From here I’ll make my way out Madingley Road then onto Coton. From here it’s across into Granchester, over to Shelford and then back up over Lime Kiln Hill to Fulbourn. This will mark 20 miles and the end of lap1.
At this point Nicola plans to feed me .. and then run with me, for what will probably be her longest run to date (just over 8 miles). I’ll drop her off at Schlumberger and then out again to Coton and once again onto Granchester. At this point however rather than heading out to Shelford I’ll start making my way back into town with the finish on Jesus Green and a well deserved pint (or 2)
Fancy joining me for part … well you should be able to work out roughly where I am and on the day if you consider the 4mph pace. I’ll also keep FB updated with the status. Would be great to run with a few of you .. although again bear in mind it will be a very slow pace (4mph) to allow me to get going throughout the day.
Lap1; 7am – 12pm
Lap2; 12.30pm – 7pm
The plan is to finish at 7pm at the Cambridge Beer Festival – for much needed restoration of course 🙂
I’ve had a week of the running … again it was a planned one. Time to get back on the horse as they say. A couple of double-ups (as I call them) this week – which basically means running to and from work, a total milage of around 15 miles. I’ll do this today (Tuesday) and tomorrow. On Thursday just a 6 miler (as per my normal weekday running route)
Then on Monday (6th) I’ll be in Belfast running my 3rd Maraton there … this marks the start of a pretty crazy month of running in May – more on that later.
A quick 6 miles today (54.30) in the beautiful Spring weather followed by a warm down in the gym. Hit the showers and as I getting changed I notice a bloke proper staring at the junk …. he catches on that I’ve spotted him and instead of getting embarrassed or packing up his stuff and getting the hell out he nodded and said .. “Nice Pants mate .. where did you get them ” …. Given they had a huge NEXT blazoned across the rim kinda gave it away …
I think at this point he knew he had been rumbled and went as red as a tomato …. I caught the reaction of another bloke standing behind him .. …. open mouthed ….
I think it’s time for new Pants ……