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Friday, October 03, 2014

Getting Ready to Pace Basingstoke Half Marathon

After doing a number of runs on the Basingstoke Half Marathon course, meetings, seminar  and practicing the required pacing, the race is nearly here as I have created my pace bands.

All it needed was a print out of the required pacing, some multi colour pens, scissors (required adult supervision) and the obligatorily sticky back plastic. I was getting flash backs to watching Blue Peter as a child.

In Blue Peter style here is all the required items that you need to make the pace bands.


After a bit of cutting and taping, here is two pace bands that I made earlier.


You can tell I work with data and reports as each band has a different representation of the same pacing data.

The left band has cumulative total based on the varying splits based on effort (extrapolated from one of the lead pacers previous BHM race times) with a couple of checkpoints highlighted.

The right band has at least three pieces of information per mile. These are the split time for that mile, uphill or downhill (identified by colour and letter) and how steep (based on spark line length). There is also approximate location of the water stations and any significant parts of the course such and the "big dipper" and a tunnel with a sharp 90 degree turn in to an incline.

Strangely the pacing band prints the times out in a small font in grey, so I had to use a black pen and write the times over the top and slightly bigger to make it hopefully easier read when running without require to stop to check.

Along with these I will have a GPS watch (for approximate values) due to hills and tree coverage on the course and another stopwatch, so I should have enough information. The main data will be the mile markers and the time at each which as correctly measured as may not be running on the measured (sometimes marked with a blue line) route.

Due to the course there is no consecutive miles at similar pace, as we keeping the same effort that should not change much but the pace should change by about +/- 1:30 per mile. That means there will be about 14 different pace changes on the course!!!

If it was a flat course I would get the pace in the first mile and that would be it for the race, along with this being not my natural pace this is going to be a bit more challenging.

Although I have paced the Dublin marathon a couple of times with the last having a giant pink weather ballon between the pacing group!!!

All that is required on the day is to the move right foot then left foot repeating about 12,000 times and following the instructions and should meet the target chip based time.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Endure 24 - 2014 Race Report

My Endure24 started a couple of days before the race when I started to pack my car. This turned in to a car full with lots of bags with running clothes, food and drink and camping equipment.

When I got to the event the day before the race it was nice and sunny and warm :-)

I decided to go to solo area (was close to course entrance) rather than my running club which was about 100m away on the other side start/finish area of the course.

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I then put up my tent with slight help from my former running club that was nearby about the guide ropes. I kept them low and close to the tent, as I did not need much support from these but did not want to trip over them in the night despite having torches. This was not bad effort for my first attempt at putting a tent up on my own. I then realised in the two person tent there was not enough room for all my bags, so I left most of them in my car that was next to my tent.


Despite it being off road I thought the condition had been dry for quite a while and I have previously ran parts of the course on over races in road shoes without any problems.

I just had to get my race number, timing chips and race t-shirt, no turning back now.

As I had nearly 24 hours to wait until the race I started to chill with my club mates with some relaxing chilled drinks, in what I named CPRC lane due to both side of the access way were the club member's.

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There was a food area so I decided to use that if I needed any hot food and drink that I had not brought with me.


In the afternoon I checked the first 1km and last 200m part of the course to familiarise myself with that. As the first part had the biggest hill on the lap and 2 cattle grids (covered during the race).

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Race morning

On race day I was up early but there was a lot of hanging around until the midday race start, normally race I have done start 6am to 10am or in the evening so this was an unusual pre race wait.

Then 1 hour before the race start it started to thunder and lightening with torrential rain. I was then sitting in my tent wondering if the race will go ahead let alone what to wear and how many layers.The start was delayed by only a few minutes to check course and marshals.

At the start line there was a good atmosphere with mixture of solo and teams and the other team member on the side lines supporting.

My plan was do 2 laps then 15 minutes rest then another 2 laps then 1 hour rest (kit change) with run/walk strategy all the time (about 1 hour ish per lap) and walking any incline, then repeat as long as possible, simples so I thought.

I started near the back as going to be a long 24 hours and did not want to get my pace carried away with the race start.

The 5 mile loop start with a short grass section before turning left on to the only tarmac, this was a lot of support as running through the main camp area.

Then the first cattle grid covered with wood which then lead on to the first incline which wasn't steep but on for 1km with the next cattle grid then on to gravel footpath which then had some more undulating inclines. Then the last cattle grid on the lap and in to the off road portion of the course.

This narrowed in to a mud footpath and marked the start of the woodland section with a large hedge to the right hand side. There was some gravel footpath sections and rolling short incline and declines before a long steady incline and a steep down hill section between some lakes which there was a number of puddles / mud in this section before another uphill section.

This area I have ran as part of old running club and their XC races organised. Then the course turned through the new path for the race which was nice and soft in the soil /mud, there were a few tree roots to watch out for , especially near the end of this section which reminded me of a Motocross course.

Which then turned on to a clay footpath section which had plenty of puddles and mud.

My road running shoes in a really good state at this point.

It then returned along near the lakes with a flatish 1km run to war the aid station was, had water and some gels.

Then the other hill on the course which was steeper and about half the length of the other hill. However had a lot of mud /liquid mud which made it harder to climb all the way to the top with a bend and steep section at the top.

Then run a long path which narrowed near the turning point which was muddy and there was a vw camper van stuck in the mud I think it was going to be additional aid station.

Then followed yet another muddy path for 1km with a nice long downhill of about 200m, this was my fastest part and best part of the course that did not have any supporters. There was then a flat section along a tarmac path for 500m which lead in to the field and the end of the lap.

Photo (c) Peter Cook.

There was plenty of support as you came in to the field.
Photo (c) Peter Cook.

Then around the numerous S bends to the finish of the 5 mile (8km).

Just another 23 hours to go!!

My nutrition I was using one sports drink and gel plus small ginger nut bar was lasting me two laps, with option top up at aid station on the course (5km). Then a red bull before each change over 4 laps, with water with salt tablet, honey spiced tea as needed during any stopped time at my tent.


The non running relax time in tent gave me time to stretch out, clean myself a bit and change of clothes that made feel more fresher then actually was.

The course marked in km so it seemed to go quicker despite having GPS watch on which showed how long in time and distance I had done. I kept my GPS watch charged using external battery pack which worked for the race.

The first few reps of the course was ok and went as planned.

With the 200 solo and 200 and teams, with the rain it was really starting to get muddy and slippery in places. In the field you had to run round the edge of the course due to the amount of mud even the finish area was getting quite muddy and slippery.

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Photos (c) Peter Cook.

When I changed shoes a couple of times had to pour water on them to clear mud of enough to be able to undo the shoe laces.


Then I let kit dry out a bit on my camping chair before packing it away.

Each bag in my car had specific type of kit, so I was taking a bag to pick my kit out of the car was like shopping trip each time. It made it easier to get the best kit for the weather conditions and how I felt.

At the start finish area you could easily see which way the wind was blowing all the clouds and rain in by the number of flags.

Then on 6th lap half way round started to rain really heavily again. I had short sleeve kit on and was getting very wet and cold, which is not good on endurance event.

So I decided to take extra rest and put lots layers 3 or 4 on and sleep in my tent, as my muscles were starting to feel fatigued. I was warm enough with the deep heat, ibugel, cold freeze providing extra heat to my muscles and interesting smell. I had some different food and drink as well compared to when running I think they were scotch egg, hula hoops (salt and vinegar) and protein milk shake.

In the night I could hear the rain, plus everybody running past and those waiting for change over shouting for who they were waiting for. I could hardly hear the announcer over the small electric generator that was making more noise than all the other generators combined. This was a side affect of being that close to the start area, so didn’t get that much good quality sleep but I had done some training on lack of sleep.

I woke up some point after 2am to do a night run with my head torch and hand torch. It was good to do at least one lap in dark and strangely enjoyed it. They had put some battery powered lights (Christmas tree) and glow sticks on some of the course to mark the route. Plus you could see everybody else's head torches particularly from the hill on the first km you could see the lights from the last downhill 1km from the end of the lap on the other side of the field.

The sun seemed to come up quickly as on the second lap around 4am it was starting to get lighter and by the end I did not need the head torches.

Then I was starting to get significant amount of muscle fatigue then had a few 3 to 4 hour rest with my running club area on the other side of the start/finish area.

I then went out on 1 last lap to finish the run after midday and complete the 24 hour race.

There was a lot of crowds at the end cheering you on, and the sun was out again finally.

I completed the 24 hours and did 11 laps at 55 miles.

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It was mentally and physically tough but I think I will be back again to take on the challenge.

Included is a CPRC club video of the event which shows the condition changes throughout the 24 hours.

Included below is a video of the event from YouTube.

Monday, May 26, 2014

100th Basingstoke parkrun

I finally have done my 100th Basingstoke parkrun, which I was one of the few that was there over 5 years ago for their event #1. I have done a lot of other parkrun events so I already have my 100 club t-shirt and jacket which I had to wear today.

I even beat a minion.

Photo (c) 2014 Emma Brown.

Even the rain and mud did not put me of, I am happy :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Been Training

It's been a while since I have posted as been busy training for an trail ultra marathon, all 24 hours of it. I should be back posting again more frequently and may back date some race reports.

In the meantime I have won my local triathlon club's male club champion and part of a team that won an award for most active workplace in the county. The county level completion we collected our award at a ceremony which was really inspirational to hear about other sports people in different sports and categories.