Imber Ultra

08 Mar 2015

The Imber Ultra Marathon is a trail run of approximately 33 miles. It starts at the Leighton Recreation Centre in the town of Westbury at the north west of the Imber Ranges.

Over the first couple of miles runners ascend the escarpment of Salisbury Plain, then follow the Imber Range Perimeter Path in an anti clockwise direction.

The first 10 miles circumnavigates the town of Warminster and a number of iron age hill forts on footpaths. Then the running is on metalled roads, bridleways and tracks east then north.

The route passes through some of the most remote parts of southern England, apart from a German village around the halfway mark! The final 10 miles are westward along the north side of the training area. Here the going is good on roads or big tracks, but it will be against the usually prevailing wind to add to the challenge. The final couple of miles include the biggest descent of the day, back to the finish at the Leighton Recreation Centre.

I started the day off with a sharp pain in my left sided hernia which failed to pass with time. It felt like the stomach muscles were being strained by the weight of the bowel protruding through it. I also had a permanent feeling of needing to pee. Not a slight pressure of just beginning to need – but the sharp pain of needing to wee after you have held it in for way too long!! This feeling stayed with me (periodic checks of the said lump showed that it had become bigger than it has ever been before. This chronic desire to urinate magically vanished at about 23 miles. Ta dah! I originally set off with Richard Corp and his mate Steve from Frome Running Club. Strangely, I stopped after about 6 miles to pee and shouted to Rich “I gotta wee – I will catch you up”. I never actually did catch them back up. I saw them in the distance for the next 5 miles or so but never hooked up with them. Not surprised to find out afterwards that they both finished in 5 hours and 59 mins – way ahead of me. Hats off to ya both. I met up with a squaddie called Rob who had travelled down from Birmigham that morning. In his own words he stated he was “under prepared and under equipped”. We stayed together from the 13 mile point right to the finishing line -33 miles and a time of 6 hours and 40 mins. However my Garmin recorded 34.97 miles. Recalibration needed me thinks. Check out the mug from the finishers goody bag. Way better than a medal.

www.imber-ultra.org

https://www.facebook.com/AVRimberultra

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Cotswald Way 50K (Unofficial)

28 Feb 2015

I managed to catch up with my old friend Richard Corp before the event and teamed up with his missus Emma Flexon for the day. Rich wasn’t running this one as he had The Bath Half the following morning. We started on the playing fields in Weston, Bath, and made our way to Old Sodbury….. before turning around and headed back to Bath again. It was incredibly muddy on some sections and the route took us over a serious of undulating countryside (for undulating read “hilly”). Emma and I made a wrong turn after the golf course, but luckily realised our error relatively quickly , so after approximately half a mile returned the way we had come and found ourselves at the back of the pack. My knee had been playing up the week before but was holding up well ….as in the fact that I was aware of it but it never really bothered me too much. I was using this event as a tester for my knee before I committed myself to the Imber Ultra on the following week. My left groin however (the same issue as at Salisbury 54321 last year) was causing me more grief than the knee!! We reached the turn round point at The Dog Inn at Old Sodbury, stopped for a quick pee break, and ploughed on. On the return journey we were joined by a chap called John who had never ran more than 5k before. Don’t let that fact fool you however. He is  a member of The Long Distance Walkers Association and was walking as fast as I was running! Hat off to the guy. The weather got colder and wetter as we continued and the sun going down brought not ony the darkness, but also more rain. It was becoming more and more precarious with each step so our little group took the decision to call it a day at the aid station in Pennsylvania. Do Nothing Foolish! 6 hours 45 mins and 25 miles of hills and mud, followed by a lot more hills and lots more mud = loads of fun. I have to pay a special thank you to the ladies that ran the aid stations. This was a free event, having been organised by Tim Lambert and Chris Mills from the Social Ultra Group. As such the aid stations were being ran by wives/girfriends of runners taking part. All the food at the stations was therfore either bought by them or made by them. It would be fair to say the choice of food and drink at the stations could put some other paid events to shame!! Fantastic day out with fantastic people. This is already  in my calander for a “must do again” next year – whatever date it falls on.

www.socialultra.co.uk

Salisbury 54321

10 Aug 2015

The Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 is a well established event over distances from 10K to 50K in the countryside around Salisbury. The event name is derived from the route taking in 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 large country estates, 2 castles and 1 cathedral.

My day started at 6 am – WTF – its Sunday Neil don’t ya know! A quick shower was followed by peanut butter on toast for breakfast, and then the last few bits were packed in my bag. Now I was ready. My daughter Stacey and her other half Jon arrived promptly on time and we set off on our way to Salisbury. We arrived early, but as it was absolutely lashing it down, it meant I registered quickly and we waited in the shelter of a hangar as we watched others que in the rain to register. Bonus! I made a last minute snap decision to change out of my road shoes and into my trail shoes – it proved to be a wise move. The recent and current heavy rain had turned some of the tracks a bit muddy. Aggressive soles Jonny!! The race started at 9 am prompt and we legged it – so to speak. It was somewhat congested to begin with but things settled relatively quickly and space was found. The rain also stopped quite quickly too. Alas, I had prepped for a full day of rain and maybe even some thunder and lightning. Thank you Mr Weatherman. I wore a long sleeve compression top, a t shirt, and waterproof jacket. The resulting ceaseation of water falling from the skies lead to my jacket being removed and tied around my waste, where it remained for the next 29 miles or so! There was sporadic rain for the next few hours – but not enough to make me put the jacket back on! Things bumbled along well and I got to the 3 hour point before I realised. Now….. those that know – know, but for those that don’t know – I have had a double hernia since Dec 2013 and have been waiting for an operation since (it is now 2015………and i am still waiting!!!) I am genuinely undecided if what follows is a result of the hernias or not. It was at this point that I began to get a sudden and sharp shooting pain in my left groin (I have had this before on long runs) that intermittently visited me for the remainder of the run. At the 4 and a half hour point my right groin thought to itself “Actually I want some of that too” and decided to join in, although with much less frequency or intensity than its left sided sibling. I found if I stuck my hands deep into my groin and gently massaged the muscle there that I got some relief. Thankfully it is school holiday time and I don’t recall running past any schools when we returned into the city. I fear that had the opposite been true then I could of found myself generating some interest from the local police as I ran past a playground of school children, with both hands deep inside my shorts, and an obvious relieved impression on my face!! I ran from the 5 hour point with a lady from London who’s name I didn’t ask. With about 1/2 mile until the finish I told her I was cramping up really bad and for her to go on ahead, which she dulely did. I just didn’t fancy telling her about my groin issues! I crossed the finishing line after 6 hours 10 mins having met a lot of nice people and chatted to many of them on the way around which added to the overall ambience of the event.The organisers did an absolutley amazing job and the flapjack and bread n butter pudding at the check points were outstanding!! Will I go back again? Definitely!! A huge thank you to Donna Mounty for paying the entry fee and staying at home with lil lady whilst I was off sauntering around the Wiltshire countryside. Likewise a massive thanks to Stacey Turnbull and Jonathan Hoare for chauffeuring there and back, for staying and supporting me, and for the big fat burger n chips when I finished.

www.salisbury54321.com