Tag Archives: Blisters

Cotswold 100 mile UltraRace

When you are running through the stillness of the English countryside at 2:00 in the morning after a perfect summer’s day, chasing a full moon with nothing but the bats and badgers, foxes and fireflies to keep you company, there is a lot of time to think and enjoy the views and the imposed solitude of the environment.

So I was more surprised than anything that I found myself concentrating mostly on getting food and sickly sweet caffeine laced carbohydrate juice in my mouth and calculating my time to the next of the 10 mile checkpoints on the basis of my pace over the last kilometre for the majority of the one hundred and sixty kilometres in my latest ultra-marathon.

Not quite the romantic image one might have of a long distance runner but then perhaps I am sadly deluded that ultra marathon running has romantic overtones 🙂

The Cotswold 100 or, more officially, the UltraRace 50/100 was my second Rory Coleman (of seven times MdS fame) organised event of the year but the first of my 3 one hundred milers planned for the summer, so this was the moment of truth. How would my training pay off? How would this compare to Mont Blanc? The next 24 hours would tell – hopefully!

[singlepic id=189 w=320 h=240 float=left]The day had started in a far more relaxed fashion than some of the other races I have done; I had taken the day off and we travelled up to our guest house in Stratford-upon-Avon without incident and the only frustration was the traffic on the M25. The course started and finished at Stratford racecourse with a rather elongated circular 100 mile loop in between, traversing well known Cotswold places such as Snowshill, Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Bourton-on-the-Hill and Chipping Campden and although the hills are nothing like the lake district or Mont Blanc, the Cotswold’s are certainly not renowned for being flat.

44 people in total had signed up for the races this weekend, 34 for the 100 mile and 10 for the 50 mile distance.  Of those on the 100 mile run, 21 people estimated their times as +24 hours and so had already started (during the heat of the day!) at 12:00, and 10 were non-starters, leaving only 3 of us to go at the 6:00pm (sub-24 hour) start.  The 50 milers were to start at 5:30am the next morning from checkpoint 5.

My wonderfully supportive wife and family accompanied me to the racecourse for 5:00pm where we waited for Rory and the anticipated UltraRace entourage to appear and although slightly off-put by the fact that only Rory in his mini-cooper turned up and that there were only three of us starting (having not know about the non-starters at that stage), we nonetheless listened to final instructions (follow the yellow-on-black ‘100’ stickers for 98 miles, then the red-on-white ‘Ur’ stickers for the final 2 miles) and attended to the usual pre-race prep, although this took all of about 3 minutes for all of us.

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A Good Year

2009 ended up being another good year.

Many new experiences with the Marathon des Sables still long in the future, but in the end the new experiences were so much more than just ‘make-weights’ on the journey back to Morocco.

February – 3 peaks

John always goes to walk the 3 peaks in Yorkshire on the last weekend in February with friends. A long standing tradition of his and this year I joined him on his tour of Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough. No running involved at this stage, but a good practice out in the elements, 24 miles with a good 2000m ascent on the circuit.

March – Reading Half PB

As part of my training for London, I normally add a half marathon or two to test myself, but it had been some years since I had done Reading. John a I were optimistic after a good few long but fast training sessions and eventually we both ended up with personal best times

April/May – London Disappointment

After the exuberance of my half marathon PB I was struck again by a mystery injury to my foot which took a period of settling down and rest to recover from. My disappointment at missing yet another Marathon through injury, especially after my training had seemed to be going so well was hard to bear, with 5 weeks where I had to limit my mileage to less than 15 miles.

June – Welsh 3000s

On the longest day of the year Greg, John, Tim and myself made our way across to Snowdon for a little ‘hill training’ – Eldir Fawrunfortunately the beautiful evening journey turned into a shocking morning, demonstrating vividly how mountainous regions can have their own micro-climate which bears no resemblance to surrounding lowlands.  We traversed only 3-4 of the 14 hills of the Welsh 3000 but were all circumspect about the experience prior to Mont Blanc.

July – Classic Cliffs

Things started to get serious in July after another solo attempt on the Welsh 3000s where I scaled Crib Goch in the fog and then the midnight start at the end of July of the 57 mile Classic Cliffs – a trail race along the south-west coast path from Port Isaac in Cornwall to Clovelly in North Devon.  The race was fantastic practice for the UTMB with the nighttime start and ascents and descents along exposed coastal trails.

August – Mont-Blanc

Finally, the crowning glory of my running year, completion of the Mont Blanc.  The race was an incredible experience,Lac Combal - A new day dawning my first at that distance and although I swore never to do it again at the time, it seems a bit like a hangover where oncethe physical effects have worn off, the addiction and desire to experience the event again is just too great an opportunity to miss out on…. while there is still breath left in my body, etc, etc 🙂

Ever since then, albeit only 4 months ago (it seems like a lifetime) I have been in a strange holding pattern with my training, regularly completing 40 mile weeks, I am now looking at 5 events from February to August, including a (fingers crossed) third London Marathon and a hopeful PB.

2010 is shaping up to be quite exciting as well but with the Marathon des Sable in April 2011 to prepare for remaining injury free is becoming as priority as I test out all manner of methods of blister prevention.


Endurance Life Classic Cliffs Ultramarathon

As we drove across the countryside from Ottery St. Mary to first Clovelly in Devon, and then to Port Isaac in Cornwall, the five of us in the car for the final part of the journey were remarkably ‘chipper’ a phrase which would be used again on more that one occasion over the next 24 hours.

Endurance LifeThe Classic Cliffs ultra-marathon, the second in a series of three, organised by the Endurance Life team, was a 57 mile trail race along the north Cornwall and Devon coast path between the small fishing villages of Port Isaac and Clovelly.  Taking in the undulating and dramatic coastline we were told to expect up to 5000m of altitude change.  John, Tim and myself were attempting the full distance by way of training for Mont Blanc and Liz, David and Pen were sharing as a relay 13 miles each basically to keep us company – although Liz was anticipating attempting a double leg, 26 miles, as one of their original team had dropped out.

We arrived with about 35 minutes to spare before the midnight start on the Friday night and quickly got our packs assembled and ready before going to the local pub to register and get the safety briefing.  As we walked in, we weighed up the opposition and they similarly weighed us up, as our rucksack buckles clanked like spurs across the strangely subdued bar.

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Medical Update

Okay – so these are minor blisters compared to any I might expect during, or subsequent to the Marathon de Sables, but today in my office with my socks off trying to dry them out (the blisters that is) I am led to contemplate the enormity of the task ahead – in about 8 months time, my body and that of 800 ish others will pushed to it’s limits and beyond, and then some more.

The training is just a commitment to an event, and an attempt to remove or reduce the impact of any unknowns, such as

  • Running distances over consecutve days
  • Dealing with physical and mental exhaustion
  • Managing in extreme temperatures and humidity
  • Carrying weight (12-13kg) from point to point
  • Travelling through sand and unfamiliar terrain
  • Surviving on minimal rations and dried food

Any of the above on its own would be a challenge over a period of a week, but all together has undoubtedly been devised by a psuedo-sadist and is only taken up by those with semi-masochistic tendencies.

Still, I’m rambling.

The skin is off the right foot blister to reveal a bright red 2″ oval of raw skin. As I’m intenting to keep running from Wednesday, I hope this calms down a bit – any hints or tips on the dealing with blisters greatfully received – Over the next few months I’ll probably be trying taping and foot hardening concoctions until the cows come home.


Arrrrgh – Blisters!

Ok – so I didn’t use the new shoes today for the long run, but in an attempt to stop the black twinge re-appearing on my middle toes just before the nails drop off – I wore some thin socks (1000 mile – guaranteed no blister!!!!)


So much for guarantees.

Ended up having to shorten the long run as running with 2 massive blisters on both in-soles after 13 miles.

Disappointing as up to then a great run – Guildford town up the mount / steep hill at the bottom of the high street, along about 1 mile then down across to University of Surrey, up back to hogs back, down to Compton, Puttenham, back through to Wey canal just before Bramley.

Ready for Yateley 10k Wednesday – we’ll see. Sub-40min on cards.