Monday, 24 November 2014

Final fell race of the year

Another weekend, another race. This time I was far from concerned about a time, and was more looking forward to running over the hills, seeing some spectacular scenery and potentially have an element of competition thrown in. The race provided 2 out of 3; thick mist scuppered any decent views.

The Kendal Mountain Festival is mostly about screening adventure films, but they threw in a 10k fell race that went over some of the foothills around Kendal. The first couple of miles climbed up Beast Bank and, knocking off the first couple of miles at 6:15 pace, was tiring and a bit of a shock given the ascent! I was about 5 seconds behind Tom Addison (English Fell Running Champ) as we started to traverse Scout Scar. By this point, we were in the clouds and I was losing a bit of focus on the undulating terrain. Tom began to put some distance between him and soon disappeared into the mist. My legs felt fine, I just missed the technical ability of running efficiently on the uneven surface.

As the course started to drop off the ridge, we emerged from the clouds and I was about 30 seconds begins first. It would take a huge effort on the descent to close this gap and it was at about 8k that I realised this was the case. We dropped down towards Kendal across a golf course and then back into the town through some narrow and steep alleys. The finish was fantastic, right in the centre of the town and amongst a festival atmosphere. I crossed the line in second, about 50 seconds behind first, in one piece and with no aches (as seems quite often the case after fell races). Not a bad effort given my recent training along the pancake flat Thames Path.

The countdown is now on to the last couple of races of the year: IFXC on Wednesday, Sri Chimnoy 10k on Saturday and then Met League before Christmas, but at this point I'm very much looking further ahead to the major events of spring 2015

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A damp day out at the Ballbuster Duathlon

Having got painfully close to the course record last year, I wanted to put in an effort that would challenge the course record (which I think is about 2:34). I had no idea what the opposition would be on the day, but there are so many uncertainties on the course that positions can easily change throughout the race and it would be necessary to race hard all the way to the finish.

The race certainly is iconic, taking in 5 laps (2 running and 5 cycling) of an 8 mile circuit which includes the Zig-Zag climb at Box Hill. There are fast sections, technical sections such as through Headley village and tough sections like the climb up Box Hill (and the whole 8 mile run having already completed the first 2 legs of the race). The race all kicks off at 8am in the morning and I imagine it must be one of the only times throughout the year that you get well over 500 competitors and spectators gathering up at Box Hill at that time in the morning. Believe me, I was questioning why I'd signed up for this race when my alarm went off at 4:45 in the morning!

As per last year, I deliberated a fair bit about the choice of bike, to the point where I took both a TT bike and my normal road bike to the start. In the end I opted for the TT bike...possibly a poor choice as you will understand reading on. I felt good on the first run, starting out steady at about 5:30 pace, picking up the pace in the mid section to 5:15ish pace as the course descended, before putting in an effort on the Box Hill climb (although this results in a drop in pace given the ascent). I wasn't aware of anyone too close to me at the end of the first run, but a strong cyclist can easily overhaul a deficit on the bike. This race is heavily weighted in favour of runners given about 60% of the time is spent running. For this race, I feel that you should take the first run comfortably and not exert too much energy given that you still have a good 2 hours of effort ahead.

Prior to the start of the race, there had been a little bit of rain which had made the course a little greasy in places. The first bike lap was 'OK', there was minimal rain and traffic and I could put in a reasonable effort throughout the course. The only mishap occurred after 4 mile when my Garmin fell off my bike whilst doing about 30mph; I went back to pick up only to find it was completely smashed to pieces (hence reverting to the watch to track my effort). This frustrated me a bit, but these things happen and I tried not to let it loose my focus for the race. As I started the second lap, the rain started to fall a bit harder and the race traffic began to build. I was constantly having to shout 'keep left’ to the other cyclists as I overtook them. Combine this with the increase in traffic along and the deteriorating conditions, and it all became tough going. When I realised the course record was out of reach, I made the decision to just make sure I finished in one piece-I’ve never been so concerned about my safety on the bike in a triathlon/duathlon before, but the circumstances were just not right. I spent little time on the aerobars, a fair amount of time on the brakes and as a result felt as though my effort over the bike course was limited. But the big relief was to finish in one piece!

Having not pushed so hard on the bike, I had more energy to try to make amends on the second run. I followed a similar strategy to the first run and felt strong all the way to the finish. I got good support from other riders and the slightly easier bike leg meant I could push harder on the second run. I finished in first in 2:37, some 3 minutes off my best and 9 minutes ahead of 2nd, but very pleased with my running and also to negative split on the run.

It is a good event and can be extremely fun in the right circumstances, however I just did not feel comfortable with the conditions today. Whilst closing roads can be impractical, I'd suggest to the organiser to investigate the possibility of either closing the ‘back road’ or making it one way to help reduce the chance of incident. I don't really like to suggest putting 'red tape' all over races, but I guess you need to be mindful when you're hitting speeds well over 30mph.

Thanks to Team Lifeventure for getting me a place in the race.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Red Bull Steeplechase video

The team at Red Bull put together a video of the Steeplechase Race. Here it is!

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Red Bull Steeplechase

Its 8am in the Peak District and Hope Valley is under a layer of mist, with only the higher ridges exposed to the morning sun. Down in the mist are over 400 runners gathering at Castleton and getting ready for the 21 mile Red Bull Steeplechase. I’d heard about this race through a number of clubmates who’d been taking part in it over the past couple of years. The format is synonymous with that of an elimination cycling race: 3 cut off points after 8, 12 and 18 miles where 90, 110 and 70 runners are pulled out at each point respectively. Pacing correctly is essential, as any marathoner will know that 21 miles really is quite some way, however the 4,000ft of climb adds an extra dimension to consider.

With the mist having lifted, the race got underway with an ever-present sprinter getting to the foot of the first climb with a 100m lead, soon to be swallowed up by those runners taking it steady and with a greater appreciation of the task that lay ahead. The race opens with 550ft of climb within 0.5 miles, so it was a case of climbing on all fours, unless of course you’re my clubmate Glenn who sailed up it with ease and immediately put some distance between him and the rest of the field.

 We continued along The Great Ridge, past Hollins Cross, on to Lose Hill, and all with stunning views of Edale one side and Castleton the other. There was even a brass band half way along the ridge! I’d caught Glenn by this point and, at the first major descent, I managed to open up a bit of a lead over 2nd and 3rd places.

No sooner had we descended, we were back climbing again, this time over to Ladybower reservoir and towards the first check point at Bamford. Up, down, up, down was certainly the theme of the day, this coupled with having to maintain full concentration on your footing to avoid slipping and wiping out. A lot of the route seemed vaguely familiar, having come to the Peak District with my Dad when I was growing up, and this helped provide a degree of awareness about how far I was from each checkpoint.

I arrived at Bamford feeling fine, relatively fresh and with about 30 seconds on 2nd place (a fell-runner from the Czech Republic). I declined some Red Bull at this stage thinking that water was probably more suitable and cracked on to the ascent of Win Hill. Glenn’s strength on the uphill meant that he reeled in a fair amount of distance at this point. Despite the massive desire to walk on the ascents, I pushed on as best as possible knowing that 2nd and 3rd were not far off. A single trumpeter was on the top of Win Hill, marking the highest point on the 2nd stage and the start of the steep descent down to Hope.

 Shortly after the second checkpoint I was starting to tire. As I rattled through 10 gates at the start of the third stage, I was aware that the Czech runner was moments behind as I could hear him too rattling through the gates. Fortunately there were no significant inclines on this stage and I got into a decent rhythm. Feeling low on sugar, I chugged half a can of Red Bull at a water station and flew all the way to Edale, the third and final checkpoint.

The last stage was relatively short at 3 miles, however slap bang in the middle is The Great Ridge separating Edale from the Hope Valley were the finish line was.  I looked behind and couldn’t see 2nd place; this was fairly comforting as I was really starting to flag and the last thing I fancied at this point was a sprint for the finish line via a massive hill. A group of supporters had gathered at Hollins Cross and gave a cheer before I started the final descent. A few things were going through my mind at this point: don’t get lost in the last mile, don’t stack it, don’t cramp up, my ankle hurts, I’m massively dehydrated, I cannot wait to put my feet up….all the normal stuff.

Anyway, I did make it, and took 1st place in 2:37, which was far from what I’d imagined going into the race. Glenn Hughes was 3rd, Hugh Torry 4th and Simon Barrett (Baz) 10th. In the women's race, Katie Williams was 2nd and Helen Palmer 4th. Not a bad team effort.

The finish and ‘after party’ was just about as spectacular as the race itself with a hog roast, bar, and all the competitors having re-assembled from each of the other cut offs. I’m not sure whether the race is on again next year, and I’d almost certainly aim to do it again, but judging by how my legs feel right now, I might take a while to recover!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Rubicon 70.3 triathlon

The last time I did a middle distance triathlon was in my build up to my Ironman back in 2010. Since then, my triathlon training has stepped up significantly and I felt that, certainly this season, I'd done sufficient endurance training to warrant doing a 70.3. I thought I'd give the Rubicon Tri in Yorkshire a go, a relativity new event and were there was some good competition in the form of professional Joe Skipper (2nd in UK ironman 2014).

The swim followed the river Ure downstream 1700m, before doubling back upstream for the final 200m. I found I was able to get on the feet of other swimmers which helped pull me along and maintain a relatively good pace. Despite being my weakest discipline, I was pleasantly surprised by my swim, finishing 8th and only 2 minutes down on first.

The bike was on a fast 2-lap course, mostly going up and down A roads, and with only little wind. After 5 miles on the bike, a group of 4 of us was strung over 50m on the road (to avoid the drafting) and we periodically took it in turns to take lead and help maintain a reasonable speed. Up ahead a couple of minutes was Joe Skipper and one other, whom I later found out was part of a relay. I managed to maintain a consistent pace, averaging about 24.5mph for the 51 mile course, and finished the bike feeling relatively ok and about 4-5 minutes off the 

I started the run with a skip in my step with a 5:17 mile followed by a 5:13 mile. This was probably not the wisest idea to start with and I paid for that as I detonated at about 9 miles....but I felt I needed to give it everything on the run to have any chance of reeling in the leaders. At about 6 miles I realised the deficit on first place was too large, but I was comfortably in second. In the end I finished 2nd in 3:51, 3 minutes behind first. I have lots to learn here across pacing, race nutrition (I only had one gel and half an energy bar during the whole race, which is probably not enough) and specific training sessions. That'll be it for triathlon for 2014. I'll give the Ballbuster Duathlon a crack in November, and then consider my 2015 race plan sometime early next year.

Myself, Joe Skipper, Sam Village

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Step up to elite racing at The London Triathlon

This was my first taste of elite level triathlon racing and my first impression is that it is a huge step up from the open triathlon races I've always done in the past. When I've raced road or cross country race in the past, I know the other athletes to look out for, how long before you need to be at the start line and where to push on in the race; essentially a good familiarity with the situation. However the elite triathlon is a new world, I didn't recognise anyone, I didn't really know the race protocol, I didn't even know before I got there whether the wheels I was using were legal for the race! The wheels turned out to be fine, I got my bike racked and walked through transition so I knew what to expect when switching between the disciplines.
The most significant difference between open and elite racing is that you are able to draft on the bike, and this means that its a significant advantage to come out if the swim in a reasonable position in order to get into a cycle group where you can work with others. I thought I'd had a reasonable swim, I certainly gave it everything, but landed up coming out of the water dead last which was my first real indication of the increase in standard compared to what I was used to. Fortunately there were a couple of other guys just ahead of me and I started the bike in a group of 3, hardly comparable to the packs of 10 that had formed ahead.

The group soon became 2 and I worked together with another competitor (Anthony Meager) to share the pace. Whilst our 56 minute bike split wasn't a disaster and only a couple of minutes off the pace, I was left thinking it would have been a far easier ride had I been in one of the packs up the road. I saw starting the run almost at the back of the field as an opportunity to significantly move up in the standings. As I began my first lap, the eventual winner (Mark Buckingham), was starting his second lap of the 3 lap run course. I decided that I'd try my best to stay ahead of him (possibly to the frustration of the motorbike rider trying to film just the leader), and this helped me to maintain a fair pace. I worked my way through the field to finish 19/40 in 1:52:05.
As a debut elite triathlon, it certainly wasn't a disaster and has made me think about how I should structure my training over the winter in order to work on my swimming. Currently I'm only swimming 1-2 times a week on my own and clearly that is not enough!
Next up is the UK age group triathlon in Liverpool on Sunday followed by a few easier weeks before the XC season kicks off. I may even throw in a Middle Distance triathlon before the end if the year.

Swim: 22:22
T1: 2:09
Bike: 56:24
T2: 1:31
Run: 29:42

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Training in the Alps

506 miles cycling, 27 miles running, a track session and 68,000 ft of climb was what it took to break me (not quite literally, as I'm not actually injured), but just physically exhausted. 

View from the Sarenne
Having spent a reasonable amount of time over the years in the Alps during the winter, a trip to the Alps in the summer is something that I've always wanted to do in order to see the mountains in a different light. Fortunately I have 4 other friends who also have an affinity for cycling up hills, and hence a trip to the town of Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of Alpe d'Huez was an obvious place for a holiday. Yes, Bourg is a mecca for cyclists, but you don't get the feeling that the place is overrun with a huge number of cyclists, and there are so many cycle routes radiating from the town,
that quite often you'll find yourself climbing
the routes alone.

Cycling off the Galibier

In the first 2 weekends of August, I have my first elite triathlon, a fell race, and then the British Age Group Triathlon Champs to follow, so a trip dedicated to cycling and running 2 weeks out  was ideal. I won't go into the detail of every climb we did, (most of the rides are here) but the aim was to try to complete most of the major climbs starting out of Bourg d'Oisans.

Top of Galibier (Chris, Bellew, Me, Freddie, Steve)

One notable ride we did was The Marmotte - a 174km, 17,000ft cycle taking in Col du Glandon, Col du Telegraph, Col du Galibier and finishing with an ascent of Alpe d'Huez. This was possibly one of the toughest things I've ever done, and I tried to attack every ascent which wasn't the wisest thing, but having Chris to 'race' up Galibier against certainly made that 17km climb a little more interesting! The photos here show just how stunning the scenery was, and that has largely been our view for the past 7 days. 
View on the way up to Col du Croix de Fer

Those Tour riders who get a view like that every day for 3 weeks are certainly a lucky bunch! To put some context in this ride, I managed it in 7:50 (which excludes lunch/ice cream/beer stops), compared to Laurens ten Dam (currently sitting 8th in the Tour) who managed it in 6:08!

Hopefully I won't have lost too much running speed this week and, once the legs recover, I'll be able to benefit from all the climbing and my biggest training week. If anyone thinks going cycling in the Alps is something they'd like, then drop me a note and I'd be happy to suggest somewhere to stay in Bourg d'Oisans and a few other useful bits of information.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Drovers 1,000ft effort at Welsh Castles Relay

My 11th consecutive running at the Welsh Castles Relay and 11th different stage to take on. So which stage was I running this year? Stage 14, Drovers, and all 1000ish ft of climb. A mountain classic by WCR standards. I met James McMullan (previous winner) on the start line, so knew that it would be a decent race to the top.

Conditions had been variable over the previous 24 hours but, with a bit of luck, we'd avoid any rain storms and run in sunshine. The first 6 miles roll along the A483 and, after a first mile of 5:05, I started to pull clear of James. I was a little concerned that he'd be strong on the climb, so my plan was to try to put as much distance between him and I as possible before ascending. The WCR is a very well supported event in terms of minibuses and car loads of teams from all competing clubs all pulling up at lay-bys on the route to cheer on all the runners. In amongst the cheers, I did find out that I'd managed to put about 200-300m between myself and James by mile 6, at which point we turned on to the quiet road that winds it's way up to the Drovers Arms.

It was now quite humid, sunny and there was absolutely no chance of rain. I decided to try and keep a metronomic pace to the top, so started up the hill at a steady pace. I was probably climbing at about 7:30 mile pace and focused on simply putting one foot in front of the other. There was a stunning view down towards Bullith Wells that I couldn't really appreciate and decent support that I couldn't really acknowledge but was very welcome.
The finish is visible from about 1.5 miles out, with a sizeable descent to wind it up on followed by a final climb to the end. By this point, I had half an eye on breaking the hour and so pushed on despite 2nd place being a couple of minutes behind. I clocked 59:17, a new stage record on the 'new' course. (However take note that one of the finest runs I've ever seen was Phil Sly running 58:00 in 2005 on the older and longer course, so still a way off that).
Definitely no 5ks today.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

London Hyde Park Triathlon

Today was the open race for the London ITU triathlon. Whilst the elites had gone yesterday, where Mario Mola (Spain) had won the men’s race and Gwen Jorgensen (USA) had won the women’s race, the prize on offer today was just as monumentus as the race incorporated the 2014 Serpentine Club Triathlon Championships (Olympic distance). A fair number of Serpies had landed up in the same wave, so the 11:10 start line resounded with various chants of encouragement for the club.

The start was far less aggressive than normal, in that I didn’t get hit or kicked on the head, and I soon found myself in the slightly unfamiliar position of leading my wave on the swim. Yes, I did have to continually look up to check that I was heading the correct direction and, for much of the swim, there was an element of ‘have I gone around the correct buoy the correct way?’ But the swim element went fine, and I came out the water in about 20 minutes.

Having carefully walked through a practice run of the transition area prior to the race, I knew exactly what to expect and, despite stopping to put shoes and socks on (I still haven’t mastered the elastic bands and bike shoes yet) and the typical issue of getting my wetsuit off, felt as though it was fairly efficient.

On to the bike of 5 laps and 36km around Hyde Park. Now I was in wave 29, and so I had gone into the race thinking that there’d be a fair number of other riders to dodge on the course. However, the field was fairly spread out and, along with a few shouts of “keep left!”, I found I hardly needed to brake at all when it came to overtaking. The course is fairly technical with a couple of dead turns, sharp 90 degree bends and a number of speed bumps, so you have to keep alert the whole time. I think I kept the pace fairly consistent; I tried my best to keep the speed as close to 25mph as possible and didn’t really think twice about holding anything back for the run. I took a gel after 3 laps, felt a bit funny immediately afterwards (although that’s generally the case and by the time I was on the run, it was fine), and my only error was filling my water bottle half full given I was so thirsty by the end. I landed up coming into transition in about 55 minutes.

On to the run. Surprisingly, it was this part where the course was most congested, but I think that is because the paths around Hyde Park are slightly narrow. I felt fine and have been accustomed to running 10k recently, so I went out at a fair pace and soon settled into the run. The best part of each lap on the 4-lap race was about 3/4 through where a bunch of my friends had come to watch and where shouting a lot of encouragement. Yes, I did speed up for that bit, and then slowed down…but that’s what you do right?! I finished the run in 31:18, so imagine the course to be a little on the short side.

I landed up finishing in 1:52:14 which appears to have been the quickest time of the day according to the website, so pleased with that. And infers that I probably won the Serpentine Club Championships as I made sure I wore my running kit today!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Highgate Harriers Night of the 10,000m PBs

For anyone enthusiastic about athletics and wanting to watch some of the best domestic talent race around 25 laps of the track, Hampstead Heath track was THE place to be last night. After the success of last year’s ‘Night of the 10,000m PB’s’, Ben Pochee and his team at Highgate went one step further to deliver, what I thought, one of the best track events I’d ever been to. A giant TV screen, inspirational tunes picked by the athletes playing out, BBQ, beers, and 300-400 people cheering from lane 4, all helped to create a fantastic atmosphere for the 125 athletes competing across each of the 5 10,000m races.

A strong wind didn’t make ideal conditions for PB's, but the very fact that each race had been carefully seeded, meant that individuals were competing against others of a similar standard and hence likely to encourage faster times.

I was in the men’s B race and looking to break 31 minutes. I thought I may as well go for it at the start, use the group to help drag me around and, in particular, shield me from the gale in the finishing straight of each lap. This was fine up until 5k, which I reached in about 15:15, however the quick early pace hit me from 5-8k, where I lost the wind shield and started to go backwards. Despite the sub 31 target drifting away, the music playing out and crowds of people supporting on every lap helped push me along and I was able to pick up the pace for the last 2km, eventually finishing in 31:27. Slightly disappointed, but still a 2 minute PB on the track.

Then it came to the 2 main races of the evening, the women’s and men’s A races. Assembled on the start lines were athletes that have been to the Olympics, Commonwealths, World Championships, and several of which were aiming for a European Championship 10,000m to be held in Zurich this August.

Jo Pavey and Sophie Duarte took it out on the first half of the women's race, closely followed by Fionuala Britton. However it was the pace that Jo Pavey continued to knock out the laps at that eventually broke her away from the field to take victory in 32:11. This not only achieved the sub-33 minute Euro qualifying time but also recorded a W40 British record by over 2 minutes.

In the men's A race, the AFD duo of Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson pulled clear of the rest of the field early on and appeared to have a sufficient break. But Johnny Mellor worked hard to reel them in, at which point Andy Vernon launched an effort, broke away and started his run of 67ish second laps. The battles at both the front and mid pack were keeping the crowd entertained as the atmosphere on and around the track continued to build. However, on the night, Andy Vernon was a class above the rest, and obviously in great shape following his recent 13:11 5k, he clocked a 28:26, ahead of Chris Thompson (28:49) and Johnny Mellor (28:52) who battled it out for 2nd and 3rd respectively.

All in all it was great to see domestic athletics so well supported, and huge respect to Ben Pochee for organising the whole event. Hopefully there’ll be more to come again in 2015!

Monday, 28 April 2014

6 races in 3 weekends

After a slightly disappointing February and March, a decent 6 races in the past 3 weekends has given me the enthusiasm to update the blog.

Earlier in the year I’d steadily increased my mileage up to 80 miles per week, things were going well, I had plans to have a crack at the London Marathon and I had a string of good race results in January. However, I knew I was pushing the mileage too high and unsurprisingly soon found myself injured. Marathon plans abandoned.

So come the middle of March, I decided to re-assess my training and took on a ‘sessions only’ approach, whereby I’d run hard 3-4 times per week and replace any steady running with time on the bike or swimming. An unconventional approach, but if it means staying injury free, then I’ll take it. I’ve relaxed this slightly in the past couple of weeks and worked in some steady runs, but my training now seems to favour the bike, doing about 40 and 160 miles per week running and cycling respectively. This seems a bit convoluted given that I’m training for running races, but I find cycling out in Richmond Park in the morning before work is too bigger draw.

Anyway, here is a summary of my 6 races:

Winchester Parkrun (12/04/2014): Race/run/Saturday morning outing

London Marathon (13/04/2014):  I felt like a little bit of a fraud lining up a Blackheath knowing that I was going to pull out somewhere between 13 and 15 miles felt, but conditions were great and I thought it was a good opportunity to put in a decent tempo run. I ran with my training mate Jonathan Poole and Highgate Harrier Richard Scott for most of it. These two guys know how to pace a marathon and and sticking to a metronomic 5:25 mile meant we hit half way in 70:48 and they went on to run 2:22 and 2:24 respectively. There was a small inclination to carry on and complete the full 26.2 miles, but I took the sensible approach and forced myself on to the side of the road just before the 15 mile point. Pleased with the effort and should provide some endurance without feeling the effects of a huge mileage.

Isle of Man
Did it really take 3 years to recover from my last trip to the Isle of Man? It’s a class place to spend the Easter break if you like running and drinking. A look at the entry list suggested competition for the Festival would be strong and so it turned out to be.

Port Erin 10k (18/04/2014): The Friday night 10k in Port Erin is the one opportunity where most people are completely fresh and have no ill effects from the day before. Conditions were near on perfect for the undulating course and, after an early breakaway by Adam Grice over the first 400m, the pace settled down. Despite a fair climb out of Port Erin, the leaders still went through the first mile in sub-5 minutes and a sizeable lead pack (8-10) stayed together and went through half way in about 15:30-15:40. At this point, Alex Short, Glenn Phair, Matt Leach and Will Mackay started to pull away from me and I became a little isolated for 7-10k, but knew that Andy and Dave Norman were only just behind and this helped force me to maintain the pace. The course continued to undulate in the second half of the race and there was speculation whether the slightly different route made it tougher than usual, however a steep descent back into Port Erin meant a quick run in to the finish where I came 5th in 31:41.

Peel 3.5 mile Fell Race (19/04/2014): Saturday afternoon in Peel is the venue for the 3.5 mile fell race. I’d not run a fell race since the last time I was here in 2011 and conditions were pretty similar: dry and breezy. The first climb is bloody hard work for someone used to running up and down the Thames Path, and I found myself in 4th at the top. The 10k winner, Alex Short, and my club mate and NZ mountain runner, Glenn Hughes, battled it out for much of the race ahead of me. I went into third spot ahead of Matt Leach at the top of the second climb, but the Cambridge guys took it out on the final descent and pushed Glenn and myself back into 3rd and 4th respectively.

4*5k Relay (20/04/2014): Assembled on Douglas Promenade on the Sunday morning were a fair few blurry eyed runners ready to take on the 4*5km relay up and down the sea-front. The 10 mile pub crawl back from Peel coupled with the fell race was hardly the greatest preparation for a 5k, but mostly everyone was in the same state. A very strong headwind from Douglas out to the far end of the course meant that no one was that willing to take it on and hence we opened with a relatively slow 5:15 mile. At the turn around and as expected, the pace increased rapidly. Alex Short immediately put a decent gap between myself and Glenn Phair and went on to had Cambridge over in 1st place. The tail wind helped me clock a 4:39 mile on the way back, although I struggled in the final kilometre, getting overtaken by a couple of guys, losing a bit of ground on Glenn and eventually finishing in 15:31. By the third and forth legs, Cambridge and Doss were well up the road and took first and second respectively, whilst Serpentine held on to 3rd, only 10 seconds ahead of Manx Harriers.

Ful-on-Duathlon (27/04/2014): Given the fair amount of cycling I’ve been doing recently, it seemed sensible to have a go at a duathlon. The 6k/23k/6k race took place at Dunsfold Aerodrome, AKA the Top Gear track. My strategy for the race was fairly simple: go out hard on the run, ease off a little on the bike and then do the second run in as close a time as possible as the first. It more or less worked out that way; I think that the bike could have been a little quicker had I actually got the TT-bike set up right, but that’s what you get when its not ridden for the winter. I landed up finishing first about 3 minutes ahead of second, although my lap time was way off the pace to make it onto Clarkson’s list.

So a fairly busy last few weeks and, despite this, I’ve got no niggles or pains so this bodes which I’m happy about. The next race is the Highgate 10,000m where I’m aiming to go sub-31. The elite race (which I won’t qualify for) should be great to watch.