Tooting 24h Track Race – 2017


It turns out that just as there are different kinds of pain, there are different kinds of listening too.

There’s a silly joke that somehow managed to become my overriding training motivator:

If I listened to my body, I’d never get out of bed

No wonder I kept getting injured.

I’m standing at the starting line on the 400 meter track in Tooting Bec, waiting along with 46 others for the signal to start our journey to self transcendence (hopefully) by running, walking or crawling as many laps as we can over the following 24 hours.


Not for the first time I reflect that I really have no business being here, I haven’t been able to train properly for 5 months (3 of those didn’t involve any running whatsoever) and should have given up my place to someone more deserving.

I didn’t though, the need to be part of an event is like the irresistible lure of a narcotic, an itch that hasn’t been scratched for over a year. This isn’t just any old event either, encapsulating nearly everything I love about long distance running, especially the small field and quirky mix of runners and supporters. Most ultra runners think 24h track racing is weird, let alone the general population, and that suits me just fine, presumably because I feel comfortable in the mix.

People are drawn to this race (and type of event) for various reasons; curiosity to how far they can run without the distractions of navigating (or distractions of any kind!), attempting to qualify for national teams, or maybe just to see what the fuss is all about.

I’m glad I did turn up. I ended up having the best race I’ve ever had, and I wasn’t even racing.


No PB, no great epiphanies, no new friendships forged from grinding out painful mile after mile together. I ran and walked 101.7 miles, and nothing really hurt very much. I was happy and calm (most of the time), tested different food than I normally eat (partial win), experimented with a very controlled caffeine intake (fail – fell asleep for an hour!) but above all I listened to my body.

A few months ago I saw a therapist to help me give up smoking (hardly a useful habit, even if you don’t have aspirations of being called an athlete), mostly using hypnosis to allow me to think clearly and calmly, without distractions.

The session worked and over the course of it a couple of, ahem, “matters requiring attention” broke free from their shackles, and now out in the open couldn’t really be ignored for much longer.  I booked myself back in for some follow up discussions.

We’ve all got issues, and they affect us in different ways. I learnt a lot about myself over the subsequent months, but importantly we didn’t dwell on what caused those destructive tangled pathways and instead were very focused on the future. Considering how to apply the lessons I’d learned, looking ahead with a slightly raised chin, that little bit better equipped mentally, and a feeling of being a smidge more in control of my destiny.

You can hear noises without listening to their meaning or content, the sound waves pass through your passive body, or the signals from nerves dissipate without triggering any response.

Automatons and reflexes manage to cover the bulk of events that manage to break though the first barrier, and even if some thought is required, you’re often in autopilot mode. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: we don’t have the time or capacity to employ deep thinking for everything that comes along.

There are some things, and some times, when a good listen is the only appropriate action, when ignoring it could lead to your relationship breaking up, or irreversible health deterioration, or something else you really don’t want to happen. The big stuff, or the big life changing outcomes at any rate.

It’s easy to gloss over lots of things in your life that seem to be the norm, an innate and unchangeable part of your personality, but sitting in a quiet room, wrapped in a warm blanket with nothing else to do for an hour, with a non judgemental, objective listener, who was asking good questions, has a way of allowing you to question some of those.

For example I hadn’t considered the relationship between my mind and my body. (I’ll spare you the other revelations).

“Relationship” sounds daft, but of course they’re related, and both can affect the other. Generally it seems that the mind decides and the body obeys. Certainly in my case anyway, and most of the time my body does what it’s told, until it just stops and refuses to play any more.

When I dug deeper, it became clear that over the last year or so I’d become angry and upset with my misbehaving physical parts.  I’d begun doling out punishment in the form of withheld rest, booze and gruelling workouts in return for the disappointment of injury which was thwarting my grandiose plans of running successes.

When prompted to remember times when I was in a better place, two races came to mind immediately. One was the Crawley 12h track race, when I felt that I was gliding effortlessly along above the ground, in a very happy place. The other was surprisingly the Spine Race: I remember being in complete awe of my legs, I kept eating and they just kept moving, for days and days, with no complaints.

I need more of those kinds of memories.


As I gently trundled around the Tooting track a large chunk of my attention was constantly assessing pain levels. Nothing unusual about that, but I was very clear that I’d stop if anything hurt too much, something I’ve never allowed myself to think before.

I had some secret and not so secret mileage goals, but for the first time wasn’t all that bothered whether I hit them or not, they were further down the priority list than finishing in one piece.

My race plan had been to start slowly and slow down, but I hadn’t anticipated being behind the 83 year old for over 7 hours! Thankfully he slowed down a bit and let me save some face.

I knew better than to chase the “sprinters”, some inevitability burnt themselves out, but a few kept up an amazing pace for the entire race. Norbert Mihalik ran 161 miles, that’s 6 back to back 4 hour marathons… mind blowing.

A few friendly faces turned up at different times and provided a bit of distraction, not that I was particularly bored, but it was nice to see Debbie and Martin, who have been very involved in my running ups and downs, as well as giving me food experimentation ideas (and incredibly useful nutrition and training plans).

Marissa popped in for a while for some nice chats and to drop off some more food and water, all very much appreciated, as was my now very neatly organised table.


James and Ben swung by on their way to the pub, then decided to stick around and cheer me on for a couple of hours instead. They provided some good entertainment but I was very tempted to stop for a can of beer and some pizza!

Ben even came back the next morning on his long run, ostensibly to make sure I was ok but I suspect to take photos of the mess he anticipated finding. He took the disappointment well and did some kit maintenance chores for me.

Anna B was lap counting during the night, and her whooping and cheering really helped me to keep smiling, even though by that point I was staggering all over the place like a drunk. I think it was due to lack of caffeine but it could be lack of practice too – training your child to make their own breakfast at the weekend is so worth it.

My family and in laws turned up for the last hour, which was just the best thing ever. The shouts of “come on daddy, run!” even got me out of my ultra shuffle for a few laps.

Even though I covered a lot of miles without any training – which I think demonstrates that a strong base fitness and endurance level does last a long time – I definitely suffered in other aspects. My feet hurt a lot, and I didn’t make it through the night without sleeping, neither of which are typically a problem in a relatively short race like this. Also I was incredibly tired and hungry for the next week, so my recovery was a bit slower than normal.

I’m still unrealistically ambitious, but I’ve got a new angle now. Lots of attention to what I actually need, from better core strength to more sleep and less time exercising (really!).

I want to be able to run as I get older, at any speed, much more than I want to win any races.  

Listen to those niggles, they need just as much attention as a hungry belly, and get that foam roller out of the cupboard, it’s your new best mate.


Relax. Eat. Drink. Keep moving.


Relax. Eat. Drink. Keep moving.
I’ve gone from about as fit as I’ve ever been to not feeling very fit at all over the last 6 months.  The fitness/freshness chart below sums it up better than I can:

So what makes me think I have any business getting ready for the Tooting 24h race tomorrow?
If I’m totally honest it’s mostly curiosity.
I know I can grit my teeth and grind out mile after mile, that’s the main reason for the last two injuries after all, but I wonder how much endurance and stamina remains after week upon week of no training, bad food and wine.
Six months ago I was running 80 miles a week, I’ve been happy with 30 recently, at a glacial pace. Any longer or faster just makes my still-not-right hamstring flare up.
It’s an experiment, starting tomorrow at midday.
Wish me luck!

Mind over matter, or mind over mind?


I don’t know exactly when it happened, in fact I’m not sure there was an actual “it”, but I do know when I started to realise that I’d been running on the wrong side of the line for too long.

I’ll just get to the end of this week, ignore the pain, next week is much lower milage, then holiday the week after.  Then I can rest.

I should know better by now.

Eight months ago, I was in a good place.  The stress fracture in my hip had healed, and a couple of brutal ultras had been notched up.  Legs were happy, I’d lost weight, and the Crawley 24h track race, 7 months away, was beckoning.  I hadn’t overcommitted myself, and had set in motion a long but balanced training programme designed to pitch me onto that 400m loop in peak condition.

What could go wrong?

The line, do you know it?  It’s a thin strip of nothingness, existing in the far corners of your mind, when you’re fit and healthy that is.  When you don’t allow your body to rest enough, to recover from the punishment you’re dealing out, it turns into a very real physical barrier, only now you’re on the wrong side.

It’s that fine line between peak fitness, and debilitating injury, and the trick is to stay as close as possible to it, without straying into the darkness beyond.

The problem is, often you don’t realise you’re on the wrong side until it’s too late.

With experience you can learn to recognise those little niggles, and ease off the training.  Spend some money on a sports massage or two, buy a bag of magnesium salt and take some long baths.  Buy a foam roller, and use it.

In fact you can do all those things, and more, but if you don’t rest, if you don’t let your body adapt to the training stress, then it will sabotage everything.  It has to, to protect itself.

I often joke that if I listened to my body, I wouldn’t get out of bed.  It’s probably impossible to run an ultra without ignoring the screaming pain from each and every body part, and the thing is, the problem that I’ve only just realised existed, is that there are different kinds of pain.

Not the difference between bone pain and a bit of an achy leg, but the difference between pain that is a warning, a precursor to something much worse, and the pain of being on your feet for hours or days at a time.

They both feel similar, but the more long races you do, the higher your upper threshold moves.  What might have once been a 9 on the pain scale, is a mere 3, after you’ve gritted your teeth through a hundred mile race.  The more you put yourself through, the higher that threshold goes.

So when your hamstring gives a little yelp for help midway through a 6 mile commute, it feels as trivial as a slightly sore neck after a bad nights sleep.  You’re aware of it of course, but it doesn’t deserve all that much attention, other than perhaps a slightly extra long stretch.

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 21.08.07

Two months ago I was running 60-100+ miles a week, I’d put in two long training runs, at 70 and 45 miles each.  I’d been going to the gym 3 times a week, working on leg and core strength.  I rested too (a bit), and did all the other things you’re supposed to do.

Now I have an extra 10-12 hours a week, more if you count the time saved showering and changing clothes several times a day.  Even more if you count the time spent obsessing about the training plan and when I might be able to squeeze in an extra few miles.

It’s not all bad, I’m writing a bit, drinking more wine, spending more time at work (which is needed), and spending more time with my family (needed even more).

I still feel like a fool. I should have known better, I’ve run myself into the ground before, and I thought I’d learnt a proper lesson.

What went wrong?  It’s not complicated.

I ignored the pain, I ran when it hurt and I kept running, until it was too late.

No stress fracture this time, just a spot of tendonitis.  Just everywhere on my hips and hamstrings.  Just all my bones out of line, so much so that my chiropractor couldn’t believe a person could appear so chipper with the pain I was supposedly in.

It didn’t really hurt all that much though, not until it hurt so much I could barely walk.  Only then did I take painkillers, so it wasn’t even that I’d masked it with drugs.

I need a better pain barometer.

Failing that I need to purposely allow sufficient rest in my training schedule.  I need to master my own mind, in a way that allows me to realise when I’m getting too close to the line.  To step away, to hell with the plan.


Listen to your body, no matter how small the problem is.  Listen to your inner mind, that small feeble voice at the back.

That feeble voice is the real master, it knows the matter always wins.





Country to Capital 2017 – Race Report


“Daddy, pretend that bear is happy”

“Go on then”

“I am pretending”

“No daddy, you have to say it too”

The Country to Capital 45 mile race marks the start of the UK ultra season, and (I think) this was the tenth year it’s been staged.

Starting at the Wendover Red Lion pub in one of the shires, it follows muddy footpaths through some lovely countryside before picking up the Grand Union canal at roughly the half way mark.

Finishing in Little Venice near Paddington means getting home is a doddle (if you live in London anyway).
It’s extremely well organised. Registration was a breeze, and the frequent aid stations were well stocked with friendly smiles and heaps of cake.

They even delayed the 8:30 start slightly to allow people arriving off the 8:15 train from Marylebone to register and drop their bags off.


Turbo in good spirits

This was to be my final tune up race before Crawley, a chance to test my pace and fuelling plan.

The plan. There’s always a plan.

Mine was to avoid bonking by eating frequently, stopping as little as possible and finish somewhere near the sharp end without doing myself any more damage.

The Thursday before the race, I’d left work to trot the usual 10k home and went straight out into a filthy snow and sleet storm.

Despite wearing skimpy shorts and no gloves, I thought I’d soon warm up and tucking my chin in bravely barged my way into the wall of frozen sky.

I didn’t warm up. At all. In fact I was frozen in no time, and a miserable 50 minutes later limped the final few meters with ridiculously sore legs.

Not being a doctor or in any way professionally qualified to comment on the optimal operating and recovery temperature of muscle cells, I do have anecdotal evidence from a few years of running.

They seem to work better when they’re warm.

A cold bath can reduce soreness after a long run, but icy cold during exercise just means poorly functioning body parts, that don’t recover quickly.

My legs still didn’t feel right, in fact they hurt horribly throughout the race.
The canal section called for gritted teeth and the “just give it up and walk” part of myself needing a stern talking to.


When strava meets reality, nice to meet you Brynn

The first half was really nice though, crispy frosty fields and picking up 24h race tips from the affable James Elson, even if he did accidentally make me sad.

I was working pretty hard, but could still hold a conversation, James was clearly just out for a Saturday morning jog, and remarked that this was his 24 hour pace.

My 6 hour pace was his 24 hour pace. Good lord.

Better eat something.

The cake went down very well, but sadly I had too little food overall and pretty much ignored the eating part of my strategy.

Apart from breakfast, I covered 45 miles in just over 6 hours on: 2 snickers, 500ml of mountain fuel and 3 small squares of fruitcake. Nowhere near enough and I paid the price with a decreasing pace and prolonged recovery.

I wasn’t even that hungry at the end, I think my stomach had given up on me. A hot cup of tea did go down very well.

I was very pleased with my time, finishing just behind the first lady, but it required a lot more fighting than I was hoping for.


Nice sit down at the end

The lesson? It’s all very well having a plan, but if you don’t follow it you may as well be pretending.

To quote my 6 year old:

It doesn’t count if it’s just in your head, you have to do it too

Obligatory strava link


Happy bears, silly voices optional

An ultra distance London trail adventure?

Long run

It’s 4am and I’m scaling yet another 6 foot fence somewhere in South East London.  I land gently on the pavement and look up into the wide eyed stare of two lads sitting in a parked car.  We all silently contemplate the unlikely situation, before I turn, run over the road,  climb the padlocked gate into the next park and run into a dark forest.  Laughing.

This is the longest training run I’ve ever embarked on.  It wasn’t planned to be a solo effort but I wasn’t going to squander the opportunity.

taking a break in highgate woods

The full Capital Ring is around 77 miles.  A (mostly) signposted route that links together various trails and paths, encompassing inner and central London.  It was first discussed in 1990 by the London Walking Forum, and was completed in 2005 (wikipedia).

I first noticed bits of the route on an easy run along the Greenchain Walk one weekend.  I kept seeing the distinctive signs alongside the Greenchain ones, and after a bit of research found the idea both daunting and strangely compelling.

The usual way to complete the full route is over two days or more.  TFL (Transport for London) have an excellent guide with printable maps and directions to and from local trains and tubes.

someone has a sense of humour

Taking a map is a good idea, some boroughs take signage more importantly than others, Harrow and Richmond being very thorough, while Newham was distinctly lacking.

My training plan had called for a 12 hour run, but I couldn’t find a weekend free in the family calendar, so I took the completely logical step of getting up at 1am on a Saturday morning.  An hour to wake up and fill myself with food and coffee, 12 hours of running, with a 2 hour buffer for food and faffage.

I had to be home before 5pm to have enough time to de-grime myself, put the child to bed and help prepare for supper guests arriving at 8.

Apparently that isn’t normal person behaviour, but I’m so far into this long distance running malarkey, that my reality filter is completely twisted.

Actually you don’t need to look too hard or far to find similar examples of how people fit lots of running into an already full life.

I’m not comparing myself to Ricky Lightfoot, but he’s a great example of juggling a full time job, family and huge amounts of training.

Debbie Martin-Consani is another person to aspire to, there was a great quote in a recent trail running magazine:

…to improve your running stamina, you need to run.  As they say you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots!

From a practical perspective, doing the whole route in one go is feasible, as long as you don’t mind jumping over lots of fences (or finding the long way round) in the dark.  Having said that I did this in early December when it’s dark nearly all the time.  A more reasonable early start in the summer would probably get you round before parks start being locked.


I reckon that 70% of the route is on trail, which is pretty amazing for inner London!  There are a few opportunities to buy food and water, but not that many.  I spotted a 24 hour shop on Prince Regent Lane (the greenway crosses this on the way to Stratford) where I filled up my water bottles, but this was the first one I’d seen since starting 25 miles ago.

There are other shops, probably just enough to get you round.  The highlight was a little coffee van just outside East Finchley station.  The coffee man even had a few croissants warmed up, what a treat.

DIY aid station

Do take a map though, or at least a readily accessible GPS unit to keep you on track.  There are sections with hardly any signs, some have fallen over, others twisted 90 degrees sending you in completely the wrong direction.

I’d relied on having the route on my watch, but had forgotten how much that drains the battery.  In the end I managed to get google maps working on my phone and just ran with it in my hand.  Annoying, but not as annoying as constantly backtracking.

I got as far as the A3 by Richmond Park before running out of time and getting a cab.  70 miles with 12 hours of moving time wasn’t too bad, but shows how much faffing around I’d done.

Ok, so I’m not so bonkers to suggest that everyone should lace up their shoes up and set off on a 75 mile run around London, but the fact that you don’t need to plan a whole weekend away, or even to travel at all, to see a different side to something otherwise familiar is something worth thinking about.

Maybe you don’t live near the Capital Ring, but I bet there are some local trails or walks that can be joined up and made into a loop, or maybe hop on a train after work and run home along a canal?

If you look hard enough, there is adventure just round the corner.

Oh and the dinner party went well, I even managed to stay awake until after pudding.

Of course it’s on strava

It’s all in your head.  Or is it?  An alternative report of the LakeLand 100


I wasn’t going to write this, or rather, when I started thinking about writing a race report, I was in such a dark mood that it didn’t seem fair or reasonable to inflict the miserable torrent of words on anybody.

Since then I’ve had some time to reflect, run over the paps of Jura and immerse myself in normal life for a few weeks, my mood has lightened but I still haven’t quite figured out what I left on those Lake District fells.

You can enter a race to finish, or you can enter a race to compete.  Either way you need to have a clear idea of your goals, and be prepared to put the right amount of preparation in.  Managing your own expectations is key.

The race also known as the Ultra Tour of the Lake District, is actually 105 miles (the extra 5 miles were free apparently, nice touch). 

The route doesn’t hit any of the main peaks, but still manages to rack up a hefty 22,000 foot of ascent and descent. Starting (and finishing) in Coniston it takes you on a huge clockwise loop, taking in loads of beautiful views, calf screaming ascents and terrifying technical descents.

It’s bloody lovely.


On the face of it, I had a great race, and the race itself was brilliant. Well organised, beautiful weather, plenty of like minded people to chat to (and follow, negating the need to use my map and road book).

Placing 28th overall in a shade over 27 hours put me in the top 8%. With 345 runners and a cut off of 40 hours, this was a sterling performance however you look at it.

I’d quietly hoped to do better though, which is where the problems lie.

My secondary goal, the one I actually spoke out loud, was to get back before my friend Ben and make it to the pub before it closed (11 hours before the cut off).

In Ben’s words:

You’re racing someone who isn’t even doing the same race, what’s wrong with you?!

His arbitrary target for the 50 miler was to get back before it got dark (because he’d never navigated by torch light before), which meant that our finishing times should align. Sounded like a race to me!


I beat Ben by about an hour, so why do I feel like I DNF’d the 100?

I was very positive throughout the race, happy and chatty, no dark patches or times when I ran out of energy (kudos to Debbie for nutrition advice). 

It seemed like the Spine support and running crew had turned out en-mass.  It was really nice to catch up with various people and it’s always a great boost seeing a familiar face when you’re deep into a tough race.

At one point I even had a nice chat with running legend (hero!)  Debbie Martin-Consani, who even recognised my name (presumably from being Strava-stalked, she was all smiles nonetheless).

I had one slight wobble just before the Ambleside checkpoint. The sun broke through the clouds just long enough for me to overheat (about 4 minutes), but a short sit down and some water soon sorted me out. This had the added benefit of forever ruling out the Marathon de Sables – if I can’t cope with sunshine in Northern England, the Sahara desert is definitely out of bounds!  I’m more of a mud and drizzle sort-of-a chap.

Nothing was really sore, and everything was still in good working order, but about 10 miles from the end I quietly gave up.

Didn’t stop moving, though I slowed down a bit, and still felt positive, I just, don’t know, stopped caring about my finishing position. 

I remember thinking that if I walked the rest of the way, I’d probably still be in under 28 hours and that would be just fine thanks.

I didn’t actually or consciously give up, or decide that I’d stopped racing, it’s more like I forgot about earlier goals and the driving spark just went out.

Mind mutiny?

If it wasn’t for the fact that I was running with Lee who was still going strong, I probably would have walked. This was his first 100 – what a machine!


For weeks afterwards I wallowed in a depressive fug and groggily tried to dissect what had actually happened.

At first it seemed that the day of the race was guilty.

We’d got stuck on the M6, and instead of having a lazy afternoon fettling my gear in the sunshine, it’d been a mad dash to get kit checked, packed and into the briefing. For a few hours I thought I might even miss the start of the race (one of my recurring anxiety dreams).

On top of all that, I’d been pretty relaxed about what I’d need and hadn’t really thought it all through. Resulting in a load of other errors: crappy old pack that chafed my lower back horribly, a near empty bar of body glide (at one checkpoint I asked if they had vaseline, and nearly took them up on the closest thing available – butter), baggy annoying shorts and heaps of heavy stuff I didn’t use.

No doubt that all contributed.


At some point (probably when I got my feet wet in a bog) lots of memories of the Spine race came flooding back. They weren’t the good memories either. Then and there I decided to pull out of next years race, and actually the next two races I had planned (Ultra Tour Monte Rosa, King Offas Dyke).

All standard stuff for anyone who runs long distances, so what else?

Deep down I want to be good at this. I can’t run very fast, but I can keep on going when others fall by the wayside. 

Everyone wants to be good at something, I think I’m a not bad nerdy mathys type, I’d just really love to be good at running.

The realisation that I wasn’t going to make it into the top 20 was the final motivation killer.

Of course I had no right to expect that based on time off due to injury and a lackadaisical training regime, but those points only occurred to me recently.

Unrealistic expectations.

Last year I came 3rd in the Crawley 12h, recovered from a stress fracture and completed The Spine Race. Somehow I thought that meant I’d do well at anything I tried.

You get out what you put in.  Yes it’s a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

My next target is a 24h track race next April. In the meantime I’ve taken a large dose of humility, am planning a proper training and nutrition plan and am slowly starting to enjoy running again.

The mountains will have to wait for a bit.

I’ll keep hoping, I’ll keep keep training.

Never give up.

No goubunku.

Obligatory Strava link


The Spine Race 2016 – Kit Notes


Another list for the kit geeks, you know who you are.


I’m a top down sort of person, so let’s start with my head torch.

For reasons I’ve forgotten, most excellent reasons I’m sure, I bought a Petzl Nao with a spare battery.

I’d read that batteries don’t like the cold much, so I also bought the extension cable so I could keep them nice and warm (assuming I wasn’t also frozen).

I also threw in an old Petzl Tikkina for backup, and a Petzl Elite for emergencies (at 35g it seemed silly not to).

I don’t really know why I didn’t use my trusty Led Lenser, which has very useful dim (to save power) and narrow focus (to spot those elusive national trail signs) features. Probably because the battery compartment is a bit fiddly and the little Petzl was more self contained.

The Nao lit up the surrounding area really well, it was like a floodlight and I needn’t have worried about the lack of beam focus.

Battery life was, ok ish. I was pretty disappointed when the first one lasted only 5 hours, I’m sure lesser torches go 12 hours on 3 AAAs. The second one lasted 6, and after that I just planned accordingly, making sure I always had a backup in place.

Next time I’ll take 3 batteries, and after seeing various multi USB chargers in CPs, I’ll be taking one of those too (in a busy CP you’ll be lucky to get one plug, and I also lost one of my adapters, not helpful).

This setup worked pretty well, though due to my close fitting pack the only potential home for the batteries and spare torch was a small area at the top of my chest. Uncomfortable at first, but with enough time you can get used to anything (probably anything).

For more excellent reasons I had at least 4 hats packed (I was expecting rain), but only wore one.

This was made from super soft possum wool, transported by my lovely mother from New Zealand a few years ago.

It was really warm, even when wet (but dried out quickly), long enough to pull down over my ears when I needed it to, and was my almost permanent comfortable head wrapping companion.

Until David Lee commented:

It looks like a really itchy hat that, is it itchy? It looks it.

It wasn’t. Then it was.  Really itchy (I’d had other things to think about). At that late stage in the race I wasn’t going to ditch my new best mate, so itch on we did.

When I was buying a new dry bag at Snow and Rock, I noticed some buffs by the till and grabbed one. Total spontaneous purchase that turned out to be spot on.

The (weirdly named) Turtlefur was really warm, and tight enough to pull up your face when needed, but not so tight that you get panicky moments of feeling that you’re being strangled (I’m looking at you, Nike Thermal Neck Warmer).

I like the idea of merino wool buffs, so much so that I’ve got 3, but after about 10 minutes they seem to droop down and provide no neck comfort whatsoever. I kept an inov8 one handy though, for the two occasions when it was too hot for my wonder-hat, but too cold to expose ones bonce completely.



Two Helly Hansen “warm” baselayers that I rotated, an OMM Rotor smock to keep in my pack and don for the chillier sections, and a bullet proof North Face Summit Series goretex jacket with the bestest tent like hood ever.

Oh, I wore Bontrager arm warmers (snaffled from my bike kit) because forearms don’t do much when you’re walking and mine always get cold.

Nearly forgot my Patagonia primaloft gilet, which I wore nearly all the time.

Why I didn’t feel the need to add another layer to my upper arms I don’t know, I only just realised they’d been left out actually, but they didn’t complain so don’t see any need to change this setup.

I love all this kit, and with the exception of the OMM smock I’ve had it all for years and it’s all been thoroughly battle tested in ultras, endurance sailing and skiing.

The HH warm tops are close fitting and made from merino wool. I was warm and dry at all times. Apart from once when I thought I had hypothermia.


It was on the way to Bryness and I could actually feel icy tendrils of doom snaking their way round my sides and clutching my chest. Pretty scary to be honest, and precipitated my only (short) run of the race in a desperate attempt to warm up.

Like a fool I’d left the underarm vents on my jacket open after getting a bit hot earlier and had completely forgotten.

That’s what 12 hours sleep in 6 days will do to you. It took me a while to warm up, even with my heart still hammering away.

Still, this is a good demonstration of making sure you’ve got decent kit and are confident in its abilities. All it took was a couple of drafts and I was being slowly frozen, even whilst marching hard through the snow.

Having managed to borrow a lightweight PHD sleeping bag for the race, I splashed out on a new pack. After enduring considerable agony on the challenger with my cheapo, not fit for purpose, overstuffed rucksack, I was hoping to do better this time.

Aarn packs first came onto my radar a couple of years ago when chatting to Papa Ferret before he started his Spine attempt. I was very intrigued by the size of the front pouches, and the number of straps and fiddly bits.

From the reviews I could find, people were generally very happy, “once you got it adjusted correctly”, which was enough for me – surely I could get it right with a week of constant use. There were a few useful videos on their website too.

I went for the Mountain Magic 22L, deciding against the larger one as I figured I’d just end up taking more stuff.

The pack itself is a bit heavy, around 1KG, so the challenge was to add as little extra weight as possible, whilst making sure I had everything I needed in an emergency.

Setting aside all non essentials I got it down to about 8KG including food and water, much better than the 14KG I lugged round on the challenger.

The two 1L pouches on the front of the pack, coupled with an insulated bladder and hose, meant that aside from adding/removing layers, I didn’t need to take it off at all.

My hose still froze (oo-er missus), -15C takes some serious insulating against, but I had a couple of 250ml soft flasks that mostly survived the cold, presumably the movement helped.

After much deliberation I went with a super basic sleeping mat, a bog-standard foam roll-up job. Not particularly compact, but at around 200g and providing cushioning and warmth for a small handful of £s, it was a no brainer.

My bivvy bag was a non breathable basic something or other, but very light and waterproof.  Condensation was a problem but the only time I used it I also had my waterproofs on, so that didn’t matter.

I know that breathing outside of the bag prevents that, but it was condensation or frostbite. Another easy choice.

I threw in a silk liner just for that extra bit of warmth, and it definitely helped. The main downside is that it’s not stretchy, so couldn’t really be “snuggled” down into. Anyway it’s main use this time was to keep mud out of my sleeping bag, and as Shippo pointed out, a bin liner would do that job just as well.

I bought some SealSkinz waterproof mittens for the challenger, but they weren’t going to be enough on their own, even though I don’t tend to suffer from cold hands. After some research I bought a pair of Montane Via Trail gloves, which turned out to be ideal.

The description said they come up a bit small, which in reality meant that they were close fitting enough to maintain dexterity – tying shoelaces for example. They also have sections of conductive thread, so you can operate your favourite touch screen device.

Having two pairs of gloves was great, it gave me an easy way to regulate temperature (sometimes just removing one mitten was enough to cool me down) and meant that when I needed to fiddle and faff, my hands didn’t freeze completely solid.

Next time I’d take something to clip my mittens to though, I dropped one a couple of times and it was sheer luck that there happened to be someone behind me who picked it up.

Before I forget about touch screens, a note on phones and battery life.

Switching my iPhone 6 to 2G mode and enabling low power mode meant that I only needed to charge it a couple of times, and managed to take a few photos and send the occasional text.

The real cellular workhouse was a very basic Samsung (£10 from Tesco) which kept me in touch with the outside world and still had battery left at the end of the week. It took me bloody ages to get used to predictive text again though.



Again, I’d packed a pair of leggings for each leg (of the race!), but ended up wearing pretty much the same combo for the whole week.

I did have a few pairs of decathlon wicking pants though, there are limits to recycling, even when racing. These are amazing, and coupled with some body glide meant the end of chafed nether regions.

Unlike Mr Valentine, who entertained us during the trudge up to Malham Tarn with an innovative use for a buff.

Some un-lubricated, persistent, bollock on thigh action had rendered both areas excruciatingly painful. We’ve all been there, and the thought of stopping is very high on the list of outcomes.

Not when you have a handy buff! Just wrap it round your thigh and scamper on happily.

Buff! Top to tail protection, from cold, wind and friction!

Don’t forget to put that buff in the special do-not-recycle bag.

In fact we bumped into an unhappy lad at one point who was suffering from the same affliction, I wonder if he took the advice.

I wore some new 3/4 length inov8 leggings under the extraordinarily awesome Rab eVent over trousers.

My legs were warm and dry throughout, and if the lower bit ever got wet, they soon dried out due to the excellent breathability of the fabric.

I picked up a few minor rips round the ankles, which given how many sharp things they encountered isn’t too bad (including my own knife, embarrassingly, whilst cutting off lumps of frozen mud).



The long seal skinz and injinji liner sock combo worked well on the Challenger, and I saw no reason to risk something different.

Your feet do eventually get wet, and if you’re dunking them in icy muddy water for hours on end, they do get cold as well.

On the whole however, my feet felt warm and comfortable. I changed liner socks at every CP and outer socks half way (along with shoes).

I can’t remember where I picked up the tip, but the first thing I did at a checkpoint was to get shoes and socks off and flip flops on. Pretty sure that this really helped prevent blisters.

Speaking of which I managed get two, one tiny one on my heel which didn’t cause any bother, and one huge deep one on the outside of my foot. No idea how it happened, and though it was sore if I poked it, or side kicked a rock, didn’t cause a fuss.

Seeing the big puddle of blood when it was lanced was slightly disconcerting, but an interesting new experience to tell the future grandkids.

My trusty (and still slightly too small for the double sock setup) inov8 trailrocks rose to the occasion, and a good friend lent (gave, nobody lends trail shoes) me a slightly bigger pair.

Having lost nearly all my toenails, I might invest in some even bigger ones for next year, though that won’t stop there being an abundance of highly kickable rocks along most of the route.


And eyes

Goggles were part of the mandatory kit list, and after a load of people dropped out last year from semi frozen eye balls (!?!), they seemed like a valuable item to have.

Obviously I just chucked my trusty 7 year old ski goggles in the bag, safe in the knowledge that they worked fine a year ago on some bright sunny French Alps.

Eh, no. I could barely see a thing, especially with the dearth of sunshine. Luckily I was able to twist my hood round and deflect the artic gale away from my face.

Recently I bought some new swimming goggles (Aqua Sphere Vista), they’re almost like something you’d wear scuba diving, I might take them next year, or something small enough to fit in a front pouch – I saw one person with little round goggles with leather sides, maybe not, they looked a bit creepy.

I’m generally pretty hopeless at sleeping so bought a fancy eye mask to use in checkpoints. The Bedtime Bliss from Natural Revolution was top of the list on Amazon which I think just means that you pay over the odds, but I’d had enough of price checking by then and just went for it.

Turned out to be bloody brilliant! Not a peep of light gets in and it’s super comfortable.

And ears

Whilst on the subject of sleeping, I did a bit more research and ordered a bag of Howard Leight Laser Lite ear plugs, another awesome purchase and now that spring is finally here they’re doing a great job of letting me sleep though the dawn chorus.

My hat was long enough to cover my ears and kept them toasty. On the rare occasion that I got slightly too warm, I could roll it up and let the breeze in.

This had the unfortunate side effect of making me look a bit like a binman however, which is something to be avoided when the Racing Snakes photographer was constantly popping out from behind walls and bushes.


And mouth

Somehow I managed to forget lip salve! Luckily my mother in law came to the rescue with that and a load of food for the race, I just wish I’d taken more of the fruit cake, it was a perfect blend of just-right sweetness and not too hard or too soft.

These things are important towards the end of a long slog!

I listed a load of food on my main report, but here it is again:

In my pack (replenished at CPs):

  • Pepperami – went off these very quickly, going to take proper French sausage next time
  • Snickers – obviously
  • Wine gums – first time on a race, good addition
  • Cooked pizza – didn’t seem to mind being in my bag for the best part of a week, went down very well
  • Beef jerky – fresh, from the savanna at London Bridge in London, separated into a freezer bag per leg
  • 9bars – threw them away, too sweet
  • Shotblox – given to me by a friend of Tonys (I think), awesome, need lots for next time, had forgotten how easy they are to get down
  • Decathlon cereal bars – basic but ok
  • Lucozade gels – not much to say: they work
  • Fruitcake – top of list next year
  • UCAN super starch (plain) – it works and saves having to eat too much actual food. Anything other than plain makes me retch though. Had 5 little bags, one per CP
  • Salted peanuts – another first, lovely

I read somewhere that Ian Bowles took whole blocks of feta cheese with him, cracking idea.

In my drop bag:

  • Extra portions of all of the above
  • Expedition foods, spag Bol, macaroni cheese,…
  • Small pots of ambrosia rice pudding – my stomach has never been in a bad enough place to refuse one of these, life savers
  • Bought/foraged in the wild (not including checkpoints, the noodle bar or the Bryness B&B here)
  • Chicken sandwich from the awesome Bill and Janet who tracked and intercepted me in Lothersdale
  • Steak slice from the COOP in Gargrave, so hot it burnt my mouth, could’ve done without that, also topped up on snickers
  • Large bowl of chilli and rice, washed down with a black coffee in the Pen y Ghent cafe outside Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I also picked up a replacement sleeping mat here.
  • Massive plate of food in the Tan Hill Inn
  • Multiple bags of crisps and pints of orange and lemonade in Duftons Stag Inn

Almost stopped at the Twice Brewed off Hadrians Wall, but decided to make the most of daylight and pushed on, Stevies crew gave us some bacon and eggs, which was lovely

I’d definitely make sure to have at least two bags of heatable food before setting off over the Cheviots, one for each hut.


And nose

Some people seem to spit a lot when they run, I just produce a lot of mucus. I don’t know the reasons for either, but both are pretty disgusting.

The combination of that, with a propensity for nose bleeds (despite an operation when I was 16), meant that I tended to arrive at checkpoints etc with a frozen, bloody, snotty mess on my face.

I thought about taking a balaclava next year, which gives me the option of looking like a ninja (in my mind), a terrorist (everyone else’s mind), or an assault victim.

Not sure which is best really, but no doubt the inhabitants of the Stag Inn in Dufton wouldn’t bat an eyelid. They seem so used to spiners arriving in various states of disarray, and would probably just make you some room by the fire, regardless of what you looked like.

Think that’s it!

(Full report)


Upping The Ante; Why I Entered The UKs Most Brutal Race

pre race

I needed a hobby, at least I thought I did. It wasn’t that I was bored, a twenty something in London has plenty of distractions, it was just that I needed something to focus my jumble of thoughts. Something to stop them from ricocheting off the inside of my eyes.

Writing software was one option, I had no shortage of ideas for websites. But I already spent all day hunched over a keyboard, tapping out line after line of algorithms and business logic for a ‘certain to be the next big thing’ start-up telecoms firm. Any more of this and I was sure to turn into a full-blown, out-and-out computer nerd.

The pub was an excellent distraction, it calmed my swirling mind, and there was never a shortage of drinking partners.

Ah, the pub. The lovely, lovely pub. A dear friend on the surface, but sadly one that doesn’t really have your best interests at heart.

An expanding waistline and a chance conversation with a recently reconnected Brummy friend, and running was suddenly something I was going to do. Maybe this could be my hobby?

In keeping with how I approach most things in life, I embraced this new pastime with arms wide enthusiasm and went at it with everything I had.

Typical “too much too soon” injuries followed, but after a few years my body settled down, and I started training for The Fell Race (there is only one worth mentioning, like The Marathon).

I’d never been all that interested in the Paps when I lived on Jura, fell running and young teenagers aren’t an obvious pairing. Now that I was a Runner however, the lure of the challenge was drawing me in.

Trundling around my now favourite 20 mile loop which took in the West End of London and many Thames river sights, I noticed that something strange had happened to my body.

It was a bit sore, but seemed to want to keep going. Not fast you understand, but not walking either.

“Just to see if I could”, I rapidly increased my long run distance, and a few weeks later clocked up 26.2 miles in 4 hours.

The subsequent euphoria damped the complaints of my (now very sore) legs, and I dreamily contemplated a future of long distance running.

It turned out that running produces endorphins (endogenous morphine – say no more!) which not only give you a nice post run boost, but imbue you with a calm and gentle feeling of wellbeing. The perfect antidote to working on a busy and aggressive trading floor (which is where all that tapping had taken me).

Some years passed, I accrued running paraphernalia (garmin watches, heart rate monitors), obsessed about nutrition, gained and lost weight, and entered the odd race here and there.

Dimly at first, I became aware of something called “ultras”, or more precisely ultra marathons. These were foot races longer than a marathon, typically at least 30 miles but apparently there was no upper limit.

Someone at work had started doing them, I thought there was something wrong with him, he didn’t even look all that fit.

Running a marathon was hard, ‘AL’ Fell Races were even harder (category A, long. Jura falls into this classification), why on earth would anyone want to do anything even harder than that? The whole idea was preposterous.

The seed wouldn’t go away though, as much as I tried to ignore the idea of these races, the ridiculous concept kept finding it’s way into my thoughts.

Inevitably I gave in (home alone with a bottle of wine and the internet, I’m not the first and won’t be the last to do something silly in that situation). The dusk till dawn ultra marathon sounded perfect.

I was keen to minimise time away from my (now) wife and small child, so the idea of an overnight race was ideal. Sleep deprivation was something I’d been practicing, (unintentionally, babies force that upon you), so that aspect didn’t bother me much.

Neither did the facts that it was to take place in October, was 50 miles long, entirely on muddy hilly trails in the Peak District, and was the inaugural running of the event.

They should have caused me some pause, as it turned out to be really hard (and cold, and wet).

I finished though, in a respectable position. Other than a few scrapes and aches I didn’t suffer particularly afterwards, and felt, quite frankly, invincible.

Without really seeking them out, I stumbled into various races over the next few years, invariably longer and tougher than the ones before.

They were all hard, and I swore I’d never run an ultra again through gritted teeth a few times, but the memory of pain fades quickly, and more challenges duly presented themselves.

Which brings me finally to The Spine Race.

I don’t know where or how I first heard of it, but the mere suggestion of taking part made me feel physically sick. No other race had done that before!

The details don’t sound all that bad:

  • 268 miles of trails, in the UK, in winter
  • 31,000 foot of ascent and descent (Mount Everest is only 29,000 by the way)
  • A generous sounding 7 days (and nights) to complete the route

The description from the website adds a bit more colour however:

The MONTANE® Spine® Race is a 268 mile, non-stop, uncompromising winter challenge encompassing the entire Pennine Way. Widely recognised as one of the most demanding National Trails in Britain. The Pennine Way crosses some of the most beautiful and, at times difficult terrain found in England, including; the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park – finishing on the Scottish Borders.

The MONTANE® Spine® Race is open to anyone with appropriate experience* who wishes to test themselves and compete in a truly demanding race. Expect to race through extreme weather, deep snow, ice, mud, bogs, strong winds and rain in a gruelling non-stop, 7 day race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm.

It’s not just the conditions that are against you – your own body could become your worst enemy with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation, exposure and the general pains of wear and tear playing havoc with your performance. To finish you must be prepared and willing to push yourself harder than ever before.

Ok, that was more like it. Throw in the fact that only 25% of starters typically get to the finish, and you have something that sounds really preposterous.

I turn 40 this year, and what better way to celebrate such a significant milestone than by putting myself through the most gruelling ordeal I could find, and pay cash for it too.

After months of fretting and feverish planning I toed the muddy line in Edale with 67 other athletes (I’m calling myself that now!) on Saturday the 9th of January, and gently trotted off into the unknown.

4 hours shy of 7 days later, I touched the wall of the pub that marks the end of the Pennine Way, in Scotland.

I was physically exhausted, had found places in my mind I didn’t know existed, and was sobbing like a child.

I’d done it.

That was nearly two months ago, and so far at least, I have no desire to up the ante on this one.

Mind you, I met someone who went there and back, so there’s a thought…

[Full report here]

South Downs Way 50 – Race Report


Go out fast and hang on as long as possible

When that’s your last minute race plan, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re not going to have a “fun” day.

First woke up at 2am when the child got into bed with me. Alarm went off at 4:40, ten minutes later managed to rouse myself wondering what I was thinking drinking a bottle of wine last night and staying up past midnight. Rookie errors all round.
Make brekkie and stumble into a cab, making sure not to forget bag of mini saucisson: race food experimentation.

Nice journey to Worthing with the other horses from the stable.

Everyone spends most of the journey eating and moving kit between race packs and drop bags.

Starts to rain when we arrive, which suits me fine.

The rain looks like it might stay away and the forecast is good, means more kit shuffling – we’re going to be hot very soon as the route goes straight up a hill.

Surprised by how many people there are at registration, feels very different from other UK trail races I’ve done.

All very well organised though and it’s not long before we’re off.

Bump into Mark from the spine, ask him how his feet are then quickly apologise, no doubt he’s had enough of that question (though if you’ve seen the photos you’d ask too, stuff of nightmares).

Concentrate on overtaking as many people as possible, running faster than I have since last August, heart rate over 170 which feels weird after months of SLOW training at 136.

Weather clears up, feeling happy and sprightly and keep up a good pace into CP1 at 11 miles.

Don’t stop and head straight off up the next hill, nibbling sausages.

The glute I tore two weeks ago has set up a persistent complaint, the other one and both hamstrings soon join in.

Decide to ignore them and keep pushing on, despite inevitable telling off from physio and subsequent lingering pain.

Pass the fields of pigs, respectfully wait until I’m out of sight before having another sausage.

Get to next CP at the 17 mile point, top up water, grab 2 biscuits and a jelly baby and head off into the rapidly warming day.

Starting to feel a bit heavy and sluggish, the wine from last night and lack of training adding to the cacophony of “body parts requiring attention”.

Actually realise am feeling decidedly peculiar. Very hot, very heavy and on the verge of being sick. Decide to slow down and force some food down, and drink more. Very aware that it’s far too early in the day to vomit and still make it to the finish.

Soon pass a digger and a massive mound of stinking black stuff, speculate that it must be condensed farmyard excrement. It takes a lot of willpower to keep what little food I have in my stomach, in my stomach.

Spend some time thinking that the sloshing from my water bottle is very annoying and it needs to be upgraded to a soft flask like the other one, even if letting the excess coke fizz out does feel like you’re milking yourself. Disconcerting, but makes me laugh.

Feeling better arrive at CP3, 27 miles. Look at the ham sandwiches, stomach says no, take a bite anyway. Whole body says no, compromise on two biscuits and a jelly baby. Head back out up yet another hill.

Relish the thought that it’s over half way. Concentrate on keeping the pace up and drinking water. Eat the odd sausage and some shot blox.

Remind myself for the hundredth time today that I must buy new trail shoes, 500 miles isn’t so bad, but after 5 years they have zero cushioning left and I can feel every pebble on the amply pebbled trails.

Next couple of CPs come and go, fill up with coke and water, supplement the biscuit diet with a cherry tomato and a couple of satsuma segments. Worry that there is going to be a lot of leftovers.

Skip the last CP as only 4 miles to the end, slide down the sticky muddy path to Eastbourne and push as hard as I can along the horrible flat road to the end.

Can’t stomach anything other than the food of champions at this point (snickers), luckily always have a few stuffed in my pockets.

Knew about the lap of the track at the finish, but still seems like a cruel joke.

Finish in 8h 47m, 72nd finisher. Chuffed.

Very surprised to find my fellow stablemates cheering and hugging me, wtf? Surely I would have noticed them coming past me? After some confused questions realise they dropped out at 27m and got a cab to the end.

Shower, hot dog then back on train to London (with wine).

Despite feeling ropey for a while, and the lack of training making everything hurt much more than it should have, had a good day out.

Very well organised and amazing support. Definitely up for more races at this distance, very pleasant contrast to the spine.

Wish I’d put some sun cream on though, ouch.

Oh, and the sausage experiment?  Nice and tasty, but a little too strong after a while – need something milder…

[obligatory strava link]

SDW50 – A View From The Stables

pre race

Spring is threatening to show its face in the UK, and as such marks the start of my offices Ultra Squad racing season for 2016.

We’ve got three horses saddled up and ready to hit the trails of the South Downs Way early tomorrow morning.

50 miles of well-marked national trail, in a decently sized field. Hosted by Centurion Running, the SDW 50 is quickly becoming very popular, with all places selling out ridiculously fast.

For a bit of fun, here is a bit of pre-race commentary along with some ranking predictions from a horse’s mouth.


To avoid getting too carried away, the focus is on each animals relative ranking in their gender category from their publically available data on Statistik DUV

A score of 1 translates to a win, score of 0.5 is firmly mid-pack, and a score of 0 gets the last finisher prize.

By supplementing this sparse data set with rumours and observations, I will give my guesses for where our horses will finish in Saturdays race.

First up, TurboHarris

Looking at historical results, it’s clear that Turbo has a preference for long, hot, sandy races, placing highly in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Marathon Des Sable races.

The usually soggy and slippery routes in the UK seem to have slowed the pace somewhat, though having said that, racing a staggering total distance of 556 miles last year didn’t seem to do any harm to the final race, with a 0.3 placing, up 15% from the NDW just a few months earlier.

Turbo doesn’t disclose her training data, but has been quietly putting in some serious training mileage this year, narrowly missing out on completing the whole February “Run Till You Drop” challenge. However the poker faced investment banker has been heard muttering phrases like “this is a pure training race”, and “oh gosh I’m so unfit”.

Take these with a pinch of salt, just look at the raw data:

Race Stats

2012 – 156m

    0.58 (45/107) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

2013 – 261m

    0.66 (48/143) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

    0.23 (17/22) in NDW (May, 50m)

    0.44 (1105/1957) in Comrades (up) (Jun, 54m)

2014 – 252m

    0.83 (22/128) in MdS (Apr, 152m)

    0.08 (22/24) in TP (May, 100m)

2015 – 556m

    0.78 (40/185) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

    0.42 (14/24) in TP (May, 100m)

    0.29 (24/34) in SDW (Jun, 100m)

    0.15 (22/26) in NDW (Aug, 100m)

    0.30 (21/30) in Autumn (Oct, 100m)

Verdict? The SDW doesn’t play to Turbos strengths, being too short and lacking any sand or sun, but don’t be fooled by the self-deprecation, the monikor is no accident and expect a rank of at least 0.4, that translates into a placing of 63/105.

Next out of the stable, RaketeGnodtke

Rakete is something of a wild card here, with only a smattering of races to his name, but a serious uptick in placement since arriving in the ultra-scene in 2014.

The only horse to have completed this race before (though all are familiar with the route, from non-public races and the SDW 100), should give a small advantage too.

The word in the stables is that this creature has almost convinced it’s peers (and itself) that not only is it lame, but has a hoof stress fracture. No vet has been contacted yet though, so the jury is out as to whether this falls into the psyche category too – nobody is showing their cards.

The Rocket will be riding tandem with his brother on Saturday, on his inaugural 50 mile race, just to further complicate the data.

Race Stats

2014 – 150m

    0.12 (226/258) in SDW (Apr, 50m)

    0.18 (80/97) in NDW (Aug, 100m)

2015 – 100m

    0.43 (90/158) in TP (May, 100m)

Verdict? The beast has potential, but with a lack of 2016 training and a potentially dodgy hoof, I’m going with a conservative rank of 0.25, a placing of 267/357

Lastly, and most leastly, Latimeistro

This horse was showing incredible potential this time last year, taking a number 3 spot in a 12 hour race.

It all went south after that, with a spate of injuries, gluttony and lethargia all conspiring to massively restrict training.

The spine race came and went, a decent placing but it was a slog over a long and cold 7 days (and nights).

Training mileage has picked up in the last month, though a torn glute set things back recently.

The course plays to the nags strengths, wet and cold are predicted, though the field size is large enough to overshadow any half-hearted efforts.

Race Stats

2012 – 50m

    0.76 (10/42) in DtD (Oct, 50m)

2013 – 112m

    0.43 (656/1159) in CCC (Aug, 62m)

    0.72 (17/60) in DtD (Oct, 50m)

2014 – 362m

    0.72 (5/18) in Spine Challenger (Jan, 108m)

    0.76 (12/51) in GUCR (May, 145m)

    0.53 (16/34) in Tooting 24h (Sep, 109m)

2015 – 79m

    0.79 (3/14) in Crawley 12h (Apr, 79m)

2016 – 268m

    0.71 (12/42) in Spine (Jan, 268m)

Verdict? Poker face firmly in place, but the inside view is that if the legs don’t fall off then a rank of 0.7 is attainable, 107/357.


Past performance is no indication of future performance, various endogenic factors can severely affect an animals ability to race (donuts, Netflix and red wine, for example). None of this is serious and everything should be completely ignored.