Monday, 3 August 2015

Pacing a legend

Robert Young is in my opinion a living legend. Known as the MarathonMan he has completed some amazing feats including winning the Race Across America and running 370 official marathons in 365 days. These included many ultra marathons which he classed as just a marathon.

I was recently lucky enough to be included as crew for Rob's recent challenge. He was inspired by Dean Karnazes and his epic run of 350 miles without sleep and he wanted to break that record.

I was going to join Rob at the 350 mile point in Milton Keynes for the next 53 miles before I would hand over to the next pacer. This blog is a summary of that little jog we had.

My daughter had kindly agreed to take me to the meeting point on the main dual carriage way of the A5 in Milton Keynes at the MK Stadium roundabout. This was the agreed meeting point and the 350 mile marker. It was at this point the Karnazes collapsed with exhaustion and could no longer continue. Could Rob make it to this point....I had been following his progress since he started on Tuesday morning at 9.30am and it was now Friday morning at 11am.

We drove further down the road as we thought it would be fun to go Rob hunting and see where he was. I had seen on a previous crew post that he was currently between Wing and MK so I knew where he would be.

The rain was pouring down and there was Rob with 3 pacers running down the centre of a very busy dual carriageway. This road has nowhere safe to run apart from the centre but due to the appalling conditions lots of cars had been phoning the police to complain. We met Rob just before the police were asking everyone to kindly get off the centre path and move onto the far more dangerous side of the road.

A quick conversation and we left to secure the necessary McDonalds and extra strong coffee that Rob requested at the handover point.

I had never met Rob before, never even spoken to him but I felt honoured that he would allow me to run with him on this challenge and that he would let me be part of the historical miles. I had been warned that he is a bloody nice bloke as well as an amazing athlete and being a miserable old git I was sure this wouldn't be the case.

So there I was waiting in the driving rain for Rob to finally arrive, and we waited and waited and then waited some more.

He was running well, the weather was not so bad so what was happening. We got in the car again for a quick recce to find him but no ROB! Suddenly an ambulance flew past us sirens blaring and we thought the worst.

I had mentioned that the main A5 was a really busy road with no footpath and maybe he would be better off running down the old A5 Watling Street as this had paths and was a parallel road and if anything would add a mile or so to his planned journey. maybe he had decided to run this route instead. We drove up that road and still no Rob, this was getting worrying.

I quizzed the crew via the chat, kept ringing their phones but no one was answering and still no sign of him.

Then I got a message, they had stopped to play a game of Quoits in a field as you do 345 miles into a run with no sleep.

We started to race to McDonalds but the road was blocked. I decided to run there instead to buy food and coffee and asked my daughter to drive back to the meeting point. I had around 5 minutes to buy the food and run back to be there at the correct time. I ran into the most packed McDonalds ever with kids and parents queing up inside and outside in the drive through. This was a big problem but a quick conversation with Tony the manager and he very kindly gave me a bag of burgers and a coke and refused to take any money!

Rob ran up the slip road to the 350 mile point, I was expecting fireworks, high fives, screaming and shouting about his amazing achievement but in true Rob style he just said "Ah well" and sat down to eat and drink.

Crew handover at mile 350

A few handshakes of congratulations and then things got a little strange for Rob. Picture the scene, we are sitting on a main roundabout at the top of a slip road and suddenly the bushes opposite start to move and four ladies come out from the undergrowth and run over to Rob. They were some of the ladies I train in my run club and they had come out to find Rob and get a kiss and a cuddle and give him their support.

Enough of the jollies it was time to run and off we went into the unknown. I won't say I was feeling 100% happy as it was just me and Rob now, on the crazy busy dual carriageway in the driving rain. How would he be? would he stay awake? what is he collapsed on my watch! what if this and that.....the questions were endless.

I didn't need to worry as Rob was overloading on caffine now and began to tell me all about his remarkable and terrible life. We swopped a few tales and the run was becoming great fun despite the weather. he managed a steady run walk strategy and when he was running it was around 8-9 minute miling and his walk rate was 15 min pace.

video


Then the pain really started to kick in. his legs were suddenly not responding. I asked how he was and in typical style he said his legs hurt a little and he would love a massage but that was impossible.

Kev to the rescue! I called my great friend and superb massage therapist Sarah Nesbit  and cheekily asked if she was busy. Sarah knew what we were doing and 15 minutes later she drove past us and said she would meet us the the Stony Stratford exit by the Travel lodge. I had visions of Sarah massaging rob in the rain on a portable bed but she had somehow managed to secure a room for free where she could work on Rob! This was becoming a bit of a theme where the people and business freely gave to help this amazing man.

Sarah's magic hands
Sarah worked hard to try to ease the pain, I worked hard to keep his spirits high and to ensure he stayed awake and lucid. I had to check his feet as he had been telling me how they were the perfect example of a runners feet according to a leading expert. No blisters at all, no damage of nails just wet feet! This was crazy, how could he have 0 blisters after all this running and in soaking wet shoes. Rob explained that he looks after his feet well, yet more subtlety.

We were then joined by another one of my athletes and another runner who had been following my progress reports on the Ultra Running Community Facebook page. Helen was also an ultra runner and was fairly local and had asked me if she could join in the run.

Her addition to the run was amazing as she brought out the fun side of Rob where I was all about the running business. So off we went on the road to Towcester still on the A5 but with a path this time, what luxury! The rain continued to pour and the lorries kept us covered in spray and dirt. Rob had changed his running gear after the massage as I had brought some spares with me but we were now out of gear.

Shitty weather circa mile 365
This is where the back up crew came into play. There was no back up crew so I created one on the fly. I called my wife Julie and asked her to come and help. She brought loads of fresh kit, socks, shorts, tops and jackets. Helen called her man John and he turned up with more gear and the game was back on.

We were regularly running at 7 min miling at this stage and walking fast in between. Julie and John were driving ahead and stopping every few miles to give fresh kit or food as needed. Things were looking good.

video


Stupidly I mentioned to Rob that at Towcester the back up crew had secured pork pies and sausage rolls, he launched into a 5.30 min mile pace and I started to curse him as I couldn't run that fast for a sustained period. This shows the strength of the man and what a machine he really is.

Towcester check point came and went, more new clothes were required as the waterproof jackets were useless at this stage and everything seemed to be constantly soaking wet. The night was approaching and Rob was beginning to deteriorate.

The walk breaks were getting slower, the runs slower still, he was retching, not drinking enough and in a bad way. The rain continued to pour and Helen and I continued to keep his spirits up. John and  Julie kept driving ahead every few miles and did what they could to help. Things were getting bad now as Rob has lost all sense of humour and I actually heard him say he wasn't feeling that great.

NOT FEELING THAT GREAT!

The master of humbleness and understatement as always.

Despite this discomfort Rob showed himself to be a true gent as he was more worried about Helen being hit by branches than he was about himself. As we neared the next agreed stop point Rob began to get worse. Once we go to Weedon he asked to sit in the car for a bit as he didn't feel great. His head was spinning and everything was hurting.

I was now in a real situation. I had a duty of care to Rob and had to make some very tough choices.

The next 7 miles would be all on road with nowhere to stop for us or the cars.

We had run out of dry kit and shoes and although we had food none of it was palatable at this point. Rob was dehydrated and getting worse.

His throat was very painful and he was worried about everything. I took a picture and called a Doctor friend of mine at 22.11pm. The diagnosis wasn't great but this was a telephone call and a picture that wouldn't bloody send.

We decided to call 112 the non emergency service and requested an ambulance to attend and make an assessment of Rob. Our thoughts were that if he left the scene and went to hospital the race was over but if they came to him he was still in the game. Who do you call for adjudication for records like this. Especially at 22.30pm on a Friday night.

The ambulance finally arrived, Ron was sweating and shivering. we briefed them on the situation and the assessment started.

Whilst this was being done a car pulled in and a couple got out and asked if we knew anything about a crazy runner or had seen him! It was one of Rob's old army mates and he was driving around trying to find him. I wasn't the only one playing find Rob games that day.

The ambulance crew were very concerned about Rob's heart rate and in their opinion the race was over and he was to be taken to hospital. We had a quick discussion and agreed that after 373.75 miles and around 90 hours this little jog was over.

We all followed the ambulance to the hospital and I went in to see Rob. The doctor assessing him was asking questions and Rob was saying things like "I've been for a little run". His humility even at the lowest point was superb.

The doctors were understandably concerned about his heart rate but as he is such a supreme athlete his low heart rate is natural. Throughout the time in hospital Rob continued to talk about running the Thunder Run 24 hour race the next day! This was in the original plan, run to that race then race it.

Rob did make it to the race to cheer on fellow runners and support others in his selfless way. He will be back to smash other records and is already talking about the lessons learnt from this little jog.

So what lessons did I learn and can pass on to others.

First and most important is that we truly are more capable than we think we are. Watching Rob's progress throughout the 24 or so miles I ran with him shows me this. The strength and determination he showed was truly epic and will inspire me on future runs.

The value of a crew is paramount and ensuring you have enough clothing, shoes, nutrition and drinks seems obvious but cannot be emphasised enough. That said it was crazy to see how far Rob managed to run on very little nutrition and hydration.

Some of the things I expected Rob to know about considering his recent achievements were not things he had heard of or ever considered. Things I take for granted as an ultra runner such as

Magnesium flakes for recovery and spray during running
Spirulina Energy Bits (which he tried one and hated)
Taking Paracetamol instead of Nurofen for pain (during the entire run he only took 1 tablet at my insistance)
Compression socks

Some other surprising facts
Rob also suffered from severe chafing but never once did he mention it. I offered him some BodyGlide but he politely declined despite the secret pain he must have been suffering.

Rob never swore during the entire time I was with him.

He maintained a positive attitude at all times and was grateful and a gentleman to every person he met.

There are rumours of animals spontaneously exploding as he ran past but that's for another writer to document.

I can honestly say it was one of the most rewarding runs of my life and I would run with Rob anytime of day or night if he calls upon my services again. I would encourage anyone to follow him on Twitter and Facebook and if you get the chance to run with him then seize that chance.

Finally this was all to raise money for Rob's chosen charities so please make a donation of any kind through his website at this LINK



Friday, 17 July 2015

My best selection of Ultra Running books and Podcasts

I read a lot of books. A huge amount of books. and when i'm not reading them i'm listening to them through audio books and podcasts. I see a huge amount of threads where people ask what are the best books for Ultra runners, Ironman Triathletes and what the hell are podcasts anyway. I'll cover podcasts in another blog.

So here is my definative list in no particular order and with a little summary from me. You could even buy them if you click one of the links and I will earn about 5p if i'm lucky

Books

Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
by Chris Macdougall.
If you haven't read it you must have been in a Mexican Cave for many years. Yes the story moves around the place and yes there has been massive discussions about barefoot running but this is still in my top 10 of all time best books. I love the stories and the science. This shows the true capabilities of the human body and what we are actually capable of doing.

Natural Born Heroes: The lost secrets of strength and endurance
also by Chris MacDougall
An amazing book not only about running but about the true life heroes of the second world war as well as mixing in parkour, strength and conditioning, nutrition, a variety of heroic stories and a detailed explanation of fascia. This was a medical term I was unfamiliar with but have now learnt is of massive importance to everyone.

Ready to Run
by Kelly Starrett
The go to book for ALL athletes in my opinion. Kelly breaks the body down and shows you how to rebuild it in a stronger, more effective way. There are no stories about endurance or achievement but if you want to be the best runner you can be then get this book.

The Endurance Handbook: How to Achieve Athletic Potential, Stay Healthy, and Get the Most Out of Your Body
by Dr Phillip Maffetone
I LOVE the Maffetone Method. Running at your optimal heart rate and allowing your body to naturally get faster, healthier and stronger. What's not to like in this latest book for Dr Phil. I have personally trained dozens of athletes in this method and all have seen amazing results and many who used to hate running now run at least 5 times a week and ADORE IT.

Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel: A trail running, ultramarathon, and wilderness survival guide for weird folks
by Jason Robillard
I bought this book originally because I thought the title was fantastic and hilarious. What is contained within the book however is pure gold if you like running ultra marathons or are looking to do your first ultra.

Running and Stuff
by James Adams
James is a lunatic, he looks like one, acts like one and runs like one. Actually he is a bloody nice bloke and yet he still manages to knock out amazing ultra marathons in the UK and abroad. His funny and irreverent stories of races and the way he speaks to you through this book is brilliant.

Out There: A Story of Ultra Recovery
by Dave Clark
Dave is my current coach, I sought him out after reading his superb book as I felt a connection with him and his achievements. This is no ordinary ultra runner who has lost a few stone and done some amazing races. NO!!!! Dave is an ULTRA GOD and a thoroughly nice guy. His book will shock you, upset you, warm you and amaze you as you read about his triumphs, massive failures and the person he was and has become.

Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons
by Bryon Powell
This was one of the first books I read on Ultra Marathons and it's still one I refer to one a regular basis. Get this for the plans alone as they are tried and tested by many athletes in the same way that Be Iron Fit is used for Ironman triathlons. Bryon runs IRunFar and covers all major ultra marathons through his website, twitter feed and facebook and is one of the most knowledgeable people on the American scene.

Running with the Kenyans: Discovering the secrets of the fastest people on earth
and
The Way of the Runner: A journey into the fabled world of Japanese running
both by Adharanand Finn
I have chosen both of these books as they are both superb reads. To get an insight into the Kenyans from someone who has lived with them and trained with them is superb. The tale of the Japanese dedication and how highly they value ultra runners made me want to move there instantly.

The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei
by John Stevens
The definitive account of the truly mind blowing Marathon Monks from Japan. These guys take Ultra running to another level in the aim to achieve enlightenment and become living gods. Forget DNF's these guys have to commit suicide if they stop at any point in the long 7 year journey which sees them start with 100 days of consecutive 40k runs up and down mountains and progresses to the 7th year where they have to run100 consecutive days of 84k folowed by 100m days of 40k just to finish them off. They also have to do a shit load of other crazy stuff to achieve complete control of their mind and body but if I told you it would spoil it. Needless to say this is one of the best books I have read on controlling human suffering with the mind.

Athletes Guide to Recovery: Rest, Relax, and Restore for Peak Performance
by Sage Rountree
We all like to exercise and run and there are never ending threads about recovery and how long it takes between races. Yes there are lots of super human athletes like Dave Mackey who seem to be able to knock out ultra marathons on a daily basis and the Marathon Monks mentioned above but they all have got there through listening to their bodies and understanding what it takes to recover. This book will help you to understand your own body more and you will be amazed at how long it actually takes to recover properly.

If you have any books you think deserve to be included in this thread then please comment. If I haven't read them I will buy them and report back

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Running in Crete in the land of the Natural Born Heroes

Chris MacDougall has got a lot to answer for.

He first wrote the amazing book Born to Run: The Hidden Tribe, the Ultra-Runners, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen which is still in my all time TOP 10 best books of my life and believe me I have read a lot of books in my time.

Then recently he released his latest book Natural Born Heroes: The lost secrets of strength and endurance.

This is a mish mash of stories about the 2nd world war hero's in Crete weaved cleverly with Parkour, strength training and other tales of heroic acts that mystify and entertain.

When I first read BTR as it's now commonly known I was drawn to email Caballo Blanco the mysterious white horse/ghost runner who is the main focus of the book. We conversed many times and I signed up to run the 3rd version of the race with a couple of other UK runners. Unfortunatly due to a stupid injury and cash issues I was unable to make the race and it is still one of my biggest regrets. Not because of not being able to race but also not actually being able to meet Micah True (Caballo).

For anyone who doesn't know the tale this fabled ghost runner died recenly doing what he loved best, running on the trails of the Copper Canyons in Mexico. His legacy will live on for many years with his race the CCUM (Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon) which was set up to help the Tarahumara people which this book BTR is based on.

So enough about BTR what about NBH (Natural Born Heroes).

The Cretan people according to MacDougall's book have long been associated with heroism. Zeus himself was born in Crete and Pheidippides the legendary Greek runner was also from Crete.

Pheidippides the Hemerodrome


Birthplace of Zeus

Like BTR this latest book has a main character and for me it is focused on George Psychoundakis a Cretan peasant who became a war hero in WW2 by continually relaying messages back and forth across the mountainous terrain of Crete. These routes were often ultra distance and over the craziest terrain I have ever run along.



I developed a huge respect for George with my exploration of a small part of Crete in the week I spent there on holiday in July.

It's not just the mountains, and there are many of them. It's more the punishing foliage that greets you at every twist and turn. Think UTMB on steroids and throw in a miriad of the nastiest bastard thorns along the lines of Barkley.



Not that I have experienced Barkley but I have seen the videos and read the reports and can only associate parts of the Cretan landscape with that sort of terrain.

I ran every day, and every day I got covered in scratches, twisted my ankles, feet and knees in every way imaginable. Now bear in mind I was running for fun, training for my next 100 mile run and so not covering vast distances and certainly not under constant threat of my life.

I did however get chased by a little handbag dog and another nasty little bastard. I learnt a new use for water bottles that day when a quick squirt in the face stopped them in their tracks!

The twists and turns, roots and rocks reminded me of the worst parts of the TDS and CCC in Chamonix. The scenery was spectacular and haunting at the same time. The Cretan people lived up to their reputation as the most hospitable people in the world. They are even a little odd at times as we found out one day on a drive through the mountains.

We stopped at a cross roads, hopelessly lost with a choice of 6 different roads to choose with little or no signage. It was reminiscent of the Northants 35 Ultra where there is a road like this that everyone gets lost at!

Suddenly this tiny old lady who was sheltering from the sun comes up to the car. It's lunchtime, bloody hot and we are in the middle of nowhere up the top of a mountain and there she is sitting in the little shade there was.

A brief unknown conversation starts and we try unsuccessfully to ask directions and she tries unsuccessfully to talk to us. Then she gets in the back of the car!!!

She then proceeds to tell us where to drive. This wily old woman wanted a lift and was going to take us roughly where we wanted to go as long as it was along the route she wanted to go.

We laughed long and hard the whole way as she blithered on in Greek about the towns, the scenery, food, at least that's what we thought she might be saying.



We drove for an hour around the craziest of roads and mountain passes and see some beautiful villages that you would not know existed. Always getting waves and Kalimera's from the lovely few people who lived there, in the middle of nowhere. We dropped her off and found out later that this is normal practise in the mountains for the people who live there.

They can wait for hours for a car to pass and then however many of them can fit will get into a car and be eternally grateful.

The Cretan's are also blessed with over 100 different edible weeds. These weeds it seems are natures Super Foods and all at our feet. Horta seems to be the favourite on the marketplace although Horta seems t be a word associated with a variety of different weeds which all look different. Think of spinach used in a salad or steamed with some olive oil and salt and a gazillion health benefits.

Kalitsounia was a sort of health pie that I searched high and low for but was unable to find. You can buy the sweeten version anywhere but the true Kalitsounia seems to be only available in the mountain villages. This is often made with Horta and local cheese and is supposed to provide immense nutrition to ultra marathon runners.

It seems the Cretans have a endless supply of highly nutritious food growing in abundance everywhere and this is another fabulous fact in NBH. Chris tells you all about the weeds you can eat and how amazing they can be for your body.

So would I go back......

In a heartbeat.

Crete was beautiful, magical and tougher than anything I can imagine. I would love to run an ultra there one day and experience more of the Island.



As for the book Natural Born Heroes.....well lets just say I now have it on Audible too as there are so  many nuggets of fantastic information that you can often miss when reading it.

I highly recommend Crete for training camps or holidays but like any Greek island the true spirit is lost in the commercial, tourist parts and the best is always high in the sky. Up those bastard mountains covered in spiky, vicious brambles, tripping over rocks and roots in the trail of the heroes.








Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Thames Path 100 the ultimate DNF

Th ultimate DNF is how I have taken to describing the experience this weekend at the Centurion Running Thames Path 100 mile Ultra marathon. it was supposed to be flat, easy, a little bit muddy in places and all that other stuff you read about in other reports and actually trust.

The reality was a little different......

The first 50-60 miles are very runnable and I was glad to be using road shoes as this helped me in getting a great start at hitting the 50 mile point in 10.00 which gave me loads of time to do the 2nd half or so I thought.

Training had not been ideal for this race. I had concentrated too much on my athletes and getting them to a finish in Barcelona Marathon. It wasn't anyone's fault except my own and I knew deep down I hadn't respected the distance as much as I should have. Having completed the South Downs Way 100 in 2012 in 24.08 I had an idea of what it would take to finish sub 24 hours and I believed I had it in me.

I would rely on my stupidity, stubbornness and a sprinkling of Irish lunacy to get me there. I had trained for 2 years at heart rate and knew I would be in good shape in terms of speed without causing myself any trauma.

A little too much wine, cheese, crisps etc in the weeks and months leading up to the race meant I was over my ideal weight but not that bad.

I had learn to use fat as fuel and had many 3-4 hour runs on nothing but a cup of coffee prior to the run and a few sips of water during the run so I knew how to tap into my Chateauneuf du pape gut and use that vital fat to fuel me.

I ran the first 50 on a few hand full's of nuts and seeds and a few sips of water. I later realised that I was getting dehydrated as the sun was out a bit and my lovely Irish skin was burning, mixed with some red urine I knew I had to start hydrating and fast. The hell with Tim Noakes and drink to thirst, I had done that and was now having issues. Maybe I wasn't hydrated enough before the race and a few beers the night before and a bottle of wine two nights before probably didn't help. Getting lost a few times didn't help the mindset but It was under control and I only ran around 2-3 bonus miles.

I picked up my first pacer Lisa at the 50 mile point and we had a good laugh as we took off. I was now on the run 25 and walk 5 mins strategy and we used this to good effect. The pace was fine and I still felt good apart from a sore right knee and a very strange feeling in what I thought was my left adductor. It was causing me pain when running and walking which was odd.

Pacer No.2 2 was Donna and under my orders of just talk shit to me and don't expect conversation she did a great job. We learnt a lot about each other and had a real laugh.

Pacer No.3 was Tina who is a bit like a female James Bond but I can't tell you any more than that. Needless to say the conversations was really interesting and kept my mind off the growing pain in my left adductor and groin area.

Pacer No.4 was Dave and unfortunately for him we got lost, we missed a fecking bridge near Reading and carried on right through the town centre through the main restaurant areas and beyond. I didn't worry at this stage about lack of markers as the river was on our right the whole way so assumed they had been removed. There was also a couple of other runners behind us so they were either following us or we were on the right track.

Big mistake

We ran around 2-3 miles before I took stock and said we have to turn back. I was kicking myself for being so dumb. The runners behind us had gone and we set back off through the pubs, restaurants and clubs checking every turning or gap along the way. My mind was getting aggitated and I was really pissed off at this stage.

Finally we came back to a fucking bridge I had mentioned as we passed it earlier and there was a bastard little bit of tape hidden away in the dark. I love centurion Running but some of the markings were poor at best. James and I have discussed this and i'm not being critical more an observation for future events. It messes with your mind when you get lost and running 100 miler's is tough enough. Poor Dave had to put up with me swearing for ages until I have vented my spleen enough to move on.

Pacer No.5 was Stuart, the partner of Tina and another secret squirrel. I mentioned what had happened in the previous section and we started off with enthusiasm.

Fuck me we only got lost again......and again, these bonus bastard miles were really beginning to piss me off now. The safe time I had for a sub 24 hour finish had now gone and I was against the clock now.

Stuart did his best to keep my spirits up and encourage me to keep moving. The problem was that my leg was now in serious pain, walking and running hurt s I couldn't do either very well and whatever I did was slow.

Pacer no.6 was my long suffering wife Julie, it was her birthday and I was gifting her with a pacing mission with a sweary, Irish lunatic who was in a bad way and really pissed off with life. the universe and markers. Julie knows my pain tolerance level is up there with the best and she has seen me complete races I should never have done and DNF in a race I should never have entered. She was sure I would be fine and kept encouraging me.

This was where the meltdown started to happen. Somewhere between mile 85 and mile 90 things went rapidly downhill. My left leg was now in a mess. The terrain was now a mud fest, the rain was annoying and the distances between aid stations seemed to be all wrong. I couldn't lift my leg, it was like someone had snapped a tendon in my groin area. I still thought it was adductors and kept massaging the area as I shuffled along.

Some quick maths confirmed I could finish if I could maintain my 30 mins per mile pace.

30 minute fucking miling.....WTF!

I was when I realised we had less than a mile to get to the sub aid station at 95 miles and it had taken me over 2 hours to do the last mile that  knew I was fucked. We asked someone how far to the aid station and they confirmed a mile. Slipping and sliding, cursing and crying it took nearly 3 hours to get to the road to crawl into the ambulance that had been arranged for me.

Two Volunteers from the Streatey Check point had come to my assistance, Ian and Mark acted and crutches as we moved along an inch at a time. Ian suggested I swear as that helps, being a loon I didn't need asking any more and a tsunami of expletives spilled from my frustrated mouth as the futility of my situation hit home. Those two guys epitomised everything that is great about centurion events and I would help them out any time they need me.

I have to thank my wonderful support crew and pacing team for everything they endured. They are all part of my family and my athletes. For some strange reason all wanted to be part of this journey. I think it's safe to say that they may stick to marathons now!

By the way it was all my fault for getting lost as it's my race and I should have been more aware so don't beat yourselves up or else I'll kick your arses in training this week.

So why the ultimate DNF?

I think when you have given everything to a race, when you leave a part of your soul on the course, the you know you have tried your absolute best. In my previous DNF at the TDS I had a mental breakdown but my body was ok.

In this race my mind was fine, no sleep demons, no hallucinations, spot on nutrition and eventual hydration. It was like a car with a flat tire, then the 2nd one goes bang, then the 3rd busts and you know any moment the 4th will explode in spectacular pain.

I have no bad feelings about not finishing as I learnt a lot from the experience. One of the main lessons is that I can't make my wife suffer like this any more. I can't let my athletes, friends and pacers see me in such a sorry state. The trauma for them is too much and they are not used to it. I will ensure any future races are not done on Julie's birthday and may even ban her from being there if it's a long, stupid event. Mind you I've been told in no uncertain terms

"NO MORE 100 MILE OR ANY OTHER STUPID RACES"

We will see about that my lovely.

I did say I was stubborn and stupid.