Cycle to dover

The cycle from london to dover yesterday went pretty well. I always find the first couple of hours on the bike tough but once it starts hitting silly distances I seem to speed up. I cycled it with Jason, one of my crew, and we passed Nicky doing an A2A attempt about 20ish miles in. We went on for a bit then stopped and waited for him to pass so we could cheer him on a bit. It was great to see him and Ed on route and give some encouragement. He finished the run in just over 21 and a half hours and is currently swimming the channel.

This morning I went out for an intended 2 hr swim. It was a great swim and had to be called to shore so i would get out (they managed to get me out after 2hrs 15mins) A perfect day for a channel swim so am quite envious of Nicky today. He has the weather I ordered so there better be some nice weather left over for me!!!!!!!

Ultra runs

I have rebooked my arch to arc attempt for september 2011. A lot of people have been asking why I am waiting this long to do it again. There are several reasons for this, least of which being I couldn’t possibly afford to do it again in a years time. I am hoping to get sponsors to pay at least part of the fee this time round. I am currently back training in the pool breaking my swim stroke down to ensure it is perfect by the time 2011 comes around. I need to increase my upper body strength and swim speed so if anything goes wrong next time then there’s less of a chance of everything falling to pieces in the channel.
I hope to have moved to the coast by the start of next summer to make the sea swims more accessible.
I also need to take a bit of a breather from the intense training and try and have a bit of a life again even if it is only for a short while.
I am focusing on a few ultra runs in the next few months, September 4-6th is the Eagle Isle Ultra, 3rd October is Caesars Camp 100 while December is the Beacons Ultra and I have had some interest from a fairly big running store wanting to arrange an event with me (there’s quite a big sports company involved too). Its early days in the organisation of it so thats about as much as I will say for now. It appears that not completing A2A has not done my reputation any harm thank god.

Arch to arc take 1

Everyone who has followed my progress will know by now that I did not succeed in completing Arch to Arc (for now)

The weeks leading up to the event were pretty sunny so I was hopeful that the weather would stay as nice for my attempt. Typically the weather turned a few days before the start of my slot so myself and my crew were left in limbo waiting to hear when we would be setting off, however that is always a risk with swimming the channel. During this time we keep an eye on the forecast and prayed for a break in the weather to allow an attempt, it wasn’t looking too good for it. To top it off the guy that was supposed to be filming the event decided he didn’t want to hang around even though he had been told there was a high possiblility that we would be delayed for a few days as the weather may be unsuitable for channel swimming. I am currently waiting on a refund from him.

Cameraman gone we focused on more important things like keeping an eye on the weather. A small break in the weather was showing for Thursday morning so we took the decision to start the run on Tuesday night. At 5.15pm Tuesday evening I set off from Marble Arch having been waved off by a few friends, Oli and James ( 2 fellow ultrarunners were there which calmed my nerves a bit.

Once I was running all nerves were gone. I had great crew (Fiona, Jason and Rosie) who managed to get me to eat with hardly any complaints, anyone who has met me in a race knows how much of an achievement this is so they deserve a medal. I did the run with some small rests. At about 3am i was starting to feel a little sleepy so decided to take a power nap. This decision, however, lasted about 5 minutes as I thought f**k it I’d rather walk for a little bit instead of sleeping so I had a coffee then carried on. As we approached folkestone the BBC crew came along. This was an incentive to keep running. They stayed with me for a bit then carried on to Dover where they filmed me coming in, the last section into Dover is downhill and I knew I had less than half an hour to break the stage record. Of course I chose this time to have a massive sugar level drop so had to cram loads of mini chocolate bars in to keep running. Luckily it had no effect on the time I did 18hrs13mins, 17 minutes quicker than the boys. This will be a time I will aim to better in 2011 when I return to do this event justice.

Once in Dover we headed off to the hotel where I freshened up then went for some food. I only managed to force down half of my meal though and went to bed for a couple of hours before getting up to try to eat again. This time was more successful and went back to sleep with the aim of getting up to see the boat pilot at 3am to check if the swim could go ahead. When we spoke to him he said the weather was closing in but he would start the swim. If it looked like the weather was turning I would be taken out of the water and he would return to Dover. Eddie asked me to make a decision, swim or not? The rest of the swim slot was pretty much a no go as the weather was due to get worse after that day so I thought about it and decided to go for it.

I’m not sure whether that had some effect on my mental state, I knew there was quite a high chance I wouldn’t have the time to get across the channel. Maybe that mental state affected my physical state. Either way I knew 6 and a half hours in I was not going to make it across. My arms were fatiguing, I had a brief respite when I thought they were getting better but that lasted about five minutes then I was struggling on again. For the 2 hours I carried on knowing I was moving too slowly to get across and that I was going to get pulled out. I wasn’t getting out unless I was told though. It was a crushing disappointment to me and writing this report now is incredibly hard to do without reliving that feeling of total and utter failure, something that will not go away until I complete this event.

As soon as I got on the boat I said to Eddie – we have to talk about another slot for my next attempt, I don’t think he was too surprised. The Boat pilot, Chris, took us into Calais so I could do the bike section too. Might as well make it a decent recce for 2011. After the rest of the crew arrived in Calais with the van and bike I had a short sleep then started the 180 mile cycle to Paris. Even though I had done the route at Easter there seemed to be a lot more hills than I remembered. The weather did turn nasty too, a small consolation to me as it meant I probably would have been pulled out of the water later anyway. The storm was pretty spectacular and some way into it Eddie and the crew decided I should sit it out as the wind was pushing me onto the wrong side of the road. Much as I wanted to finish the cycle quickly I didn’t want to die doing it so I agreed. After a shortish stop I was back on the bike and heading to Paris. The route is pretty amazing and I did enjoy it although I was swearing a lot on the up hills

Finally after 23 hours we got to Paris, the cycle up to the Arc de Triomphe was incredible. I became very Parisian in my attitude to all other vehicles at this point, in other words “out of my way, I’m coming through!”

I had an amazing support team Jason and Rosie, they helped me recce it all and I cannot thank them enough for all they did for me. Fantastic people, I look forward to doing it all again in 2011 – swimming into france instead this time rather than hitching a ride. Fiona, you were a great help. Now you understand what this ultra madness is all about

Eddie as race director was great, only sent me the wrong way once! Top bloke

Thanks to Dave Scott too, although he wasnt crew he has done an awful lot to help me out in my attempt. Look forward to catching up at Eagle Ilse 40miler

On saturday the guys at held the second of their ultra running series. This was to be a 40mile run across the Brecon Beacons.
Due to the bad weather a contingency route was put in place and it was about 38miles.
I travelled there on friday evening with Gary Dalton, a relative newbie into ultrarunning but doing very well at it. The last couple of miles getting there were difficult enough as the snow was coming down so heavy we couldn’t see out of the windshield!
It was a bit of a miserable night but we got there and registered…….with Gary telling me I was to blame for him entering these silly events as I was the one who told him about them.

The conditions looked set to be pretty challenging as the forecast was for fog/mist……well who wants an easy ultra?
At 715am Matt held the race briefing and we set off a little after 730am. The conditions seemed pretty good and the temperature was not too bad…..still cold enough for hat and gloves etc.

As I had been suffering with some bug since coming back from Indonesia I had decided that I was not going to race the event, just run it and enjoy it. Amazingly I actually was able to do this, I didn’t have my competitive head on and was really enjoying the race.
The scenery was spectacular ….although I have run in this area several times it looked completely different covered in snow.

The first half of the race was deemed to be the toughest going, however due to the snow cushioning the rough terrain I found it not as tough as I was expecting, apart from a few climbs of course. There were a few obligatory falls and faceplants in the snow at times though!
We were told that after CP4 it was downhill all the way and was a lot easier than the previous section……from CP4 to CP5 was actually the toughest section for me. There were what must be Welsh downhill sections (uphill) and a lot of cold slippy slushy snow to run through.

Just before CP5 I was suffering with a sore back so had some painkillers…these kicked in just after CP5 along with a sugar rush from some jelly babies and just in time for a great downhill section in the snow. I must apologise to Darren, who I ran about 30miles of the event with, as at this point I turned into a hyper child.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The last few miles were along the canal, which seemed to be never ending. I was running with Darren and Yin Hi at this point and we finished pretty much together.

Gary had unfortunately been injured during the event but still managed to finish well and in front of me.

The event was very well organised. I have to say I enjoyed almost every second of it.
Well done to everyone who took part, it was great to meet new people. Massive thanks to all the crew who were out on the course on such a cold day, I’m glad I was running rather than crewing. It was great to see some familiar faces in the crew.
Shame we couldn’t stay the saturday night but had to get back to London.

What else is there to say about the race? Not much except I had a great day and would recommend doing it to anyone and I am looking forward to the 50miler in March.

6 foot waves!!!!

As I headed down to weymouth on the train yesterday I thought it was going to be another easy enough swim in calm water as the weather seemed pretty perfect. When we got out of the sheltered harbour waters I was proved very wrong indeed. The water was very choppy, there were no areas of calm at all so it proved to be a very tough swim. The decision was made to cut the swim short at 6 hrs (Tom reckoned a 6hr in that water was worth a 10hr swim any day and that he knew I could be pushed to 10hrs even in that water) At some points during the swim I could see the boat being tipped almost to its side, apparently Tom and Lynn did get a bit wet at times. During the feeds I had to push the boat away from me as the waves kept pushing it into me.

I was told after I got out that I had been swimming through 6 foot waves and was swimming in a Force 5, usually they don’t like to swim you in anything above a force 3 in the channel. Things can change while you are swimming in the channel though, and what starts as a calm swim may turn rough so I would rather be prepared for the worst.
According to Tom I still kept up a stroke rate of 60 and covered a fair bit of distance in that time so its good to know that, even if the conditions do turn a bit ropey during the swim, I can still swim at a good pace.
The only problem with swimming in these rough waters was that I did not feel like eating much. Luckily I was able to take plenty of lucozade so can still get the calories I need.
I was pretty tired by the time I got home, I actually fell asleep at the kitchen table while waiting for my dinner to cook (and no I didn’t burn the house down, I only dozed for a few minutes). I am actually looking forward to the taper. Maybe I can get some sleep for a change

Epic journey to UB

If the journey to Mongolia was anything to go by then this race is going to be a tough one. It started off fairly well with the flight from heathrow to moscow leaving on time. I was travelling with Al, another competitor who didn’t tell anyone he was racing again. He did the race last year but decided he would surprise a mate of his who is also racing.
Our journey to Moscow was fairly uneventful.

Once we arrived at Moscow I asked a lady behind the desk which way it was to the connection for Ulaan Bataar. Bearing in mind she was sat behind a desk with a name badge and airport ID I thought it was safe to assume she would be able to help. It seemed I was wrong as she looked at me strangely and said “I don’t work here”  ummmm then why are you wearing an airport ID? Not a good start.
We met Duncan, the race medic here, who was also waiting for a connection. We were due to leave at 8.20pm local time but that time came and went without any announcements. Eventually they told us it was delayed until 930pm so the crowds that had been queueing dispersed – it turns out they love queueing here even more than the brits do.
By 930pm the queue had optimistically formed again, we were sat down though, there was no sign of any Aeroflot staff so it wasn’t looking good. Again there were no announcements and the flight actually vanished from the departure list. First thought was that it was going to be cancelled but it was frustrating now as if we had known there would be such a delay we could have had time to get something to eat. By 1010pm we were told the flight was delayed til 1045pm, hmmmm I’ll believe that when I see it. Amazingly it did start boarding at 1030pm so it looked like we would actually be leaving.
When queueing to board some poor lady in front of me was fishing about for her boarding pass, holding the queue up for a nanosecond and one of the crew shouted at her to get her to hurry up – like it was her fault the flight was nearly 3hrs late. The poor woman scurried forward looking petrified. I can’t imagine I’ll be flying Aeroflot again in a hurry.
The flight itself was an hr longer than they said it would be. Not sure how that happened, must have taken the scenic route, and the inflight entertainment was ok if you understood Russian.
Eventually we arrived and were picked up by the lady running the hostel which is pretty nice.
After a bite to eat we went back to the hostel for a siesta and went to the local Irish bar to watch the England v Germany game. The Mongolians have really got into the world cup. There was a massive big screen set up outside the bar under a pretty permanent looking “World Cup” Marquee. It was an amazing party atmosphere with the the locals switching between supporting England and Germany depending on how the mood took them. Some were genuine England fans and were gutted when they lost though. It was an incredibly surreal way to watch an English match, outside an Irish bar in Mongolia surrounded by locals who had their faces painted with the St George’s flag, quite the experience. One I doubt will be repeated.
We fly out to the desert tomorrow and the race starts on Wed morning, I’ll report back after the race.

6hrs on a treadmill!!!!!!!

In the run up to the attempt I decided that doing a 6hr session on the treadmill would be a good idea. I managed it yesterday but it didn’t get off to a great start as my legs were feeling pretty heavy – think I am due a sports massage – and I was wondering if I would be able to cope with the boredom of being in a gym for 6hrs straight. Somehow I got into it and managed to keep going, even upping the pace towards the end. I did find it incredibly boring at times but luckily I had some company for parts of it so these times were not so bad. I will have a few people with me for the 24hr attempt at all times so at least I know this will keep me going.
I talked to the Esporta people yesterday and instead of doing the 8hr session mid feb they are looking at the start of march as they want to publicise it more. Apparently they are getting quite excited about being a part of this and are looking to see what they can do for me. Seems like it is all coming together but I will admit I am looking forward to doing some outdoor training after it is all done and dusted

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Last long sea swim

Monday should see my last long swim. Forecast so far looks rubbish for sunday but good for monday so hopefully there will be no reason for me not to complete 10 hrs. A 10 hr swim will set me up nicely for the channel, from then its just a month until the start. Apart from the swim I will be getting a couple of runs in and getting on the bike for a few hours.
I will report back on how it goes as soon as I can, I can’t quite believe how close it is to A2A now. It has been almost 2 years since I decided I wanted to do it but it seems to have come round so quickly. When I finish this 10 hour swim I can be confident that I have done everything in my power to succeed in the channel and have to hope that sea conditions are in my favour on the day