Turns out I had signed myself up to something quite ridiculous. We were going to attempt to run 90km a day for 20 days and on the final day compete in the Comrades Ultra Marathon. I was so bloody scared of what I had signed up to do but also intrigued to see how far my body could go.
The Comrades Marathon is an ultra marathon of approximately 89 km which is run annually in between Pietermaritzburg and Durban in South Africa. It is the world’s largest and oldest ultra marathon race with 20,000 people entered into this years race. The direction of the race alternates each year between the ‘up’ run starting from Durban and the ‘down’ run starting from Pietermaritzburg. This year I would be towing the line and attempting the Down run!
Fancy darting through Sherwood Forest as fast as possible whilst trying to read a map, firing bow and arrows and climbing up castle turrets then this race is for you!
Read my full write up of this adrenaline pumped and Red Bull infused orienteering race on Hard as Trail
After a summer of running around and up and down mountains in the Alps I got home and decided to look for an autumn marathon to run. Chester marathon caught my eye as a lovely marathon that started in a pretty historic town and then wound it’s way through scenic country lanes. With 7 weeks to go I signed up and started training. I also moved house and found a new running club to run with – Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow (WSE&H). Conrad Milton took me under his wing and helped me with a marathon-training programme that would provide a much needed shock to the system. I instantly loved the WSE&H training sessions as the training group I was put in. I had a lovely group of girls to train with which was a welcomed change especially to Sunday long runs.
I got off the train in Zermatt and the first thing I searched for was the Matterhorn unfortunately with the low cloud you couldn’t see a thing above the village. It would take me 3 days until I eventually got to see the Matterhorn in all its glory and the first sight of it was completely encapsulating, for a mountain it has a strange and mesmerising hold on you. I was in Zermatt to take part in The Matterhorn Ultraks 46km Skyrace. This would be my first Skyrace, first mountain race and first ultra marathon and what better place to do it than in picturesque Switzerland. I decided to head out to Zermatt a few days before the race to practice running in the mountains and recce as much of the course as I could. My experience of running in the mountains consists of 8 days spent in Chamonix last month where I incorporated the Tour of Mont Blanc so you could say it is somewhat limited so why on earth did I decided to do a 46km race with 3600m of climbing in the middle of the Alps? For the challenge of course!
I first heard about the tour of Mont Blanc through a couple of friends that had taken part in the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) a crazy race that sees hardy individuals complete the 170km route through 3 countries dipping down into several valleys and raising up many cols to total 10,000m of climbing in one go. Having not really spent that much time on my two feet in the mountains and the fact that you need to gain sought after qualification points and be successful in a ballot before even gaining your place on the start line completing the UTMB is currently out of my reach (for now).
Eight weeks ago I got picked to be part of Team Whole earth and to take on Man V Horse on the 13 June in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. I was really excited to be chosen as one of the 6 members of the team and I was looking forward to what the next 8 weeks of training. Over the next few weeks I spent a significant amount of time at Boxhill, as it is the only hill in Surrey, running up and down as many hills as I could. I loved training on the hills and the trails and found it a lot more enjoyable than the roads mainly because of the awesome views, change in pace and challenge of the mud and rocks underfoot. The week before the race training was going well I had begun my taper and then I got a chest infection, I was pretty annoyed but little did I know this was a blessing in disguise!
Yesterday morning I made my way to London for the Bupa London 10,000. As I got to London I made my way down The Mall in search for the Championship Tent. I eventually found it and automatically felt like I didn’t belong in there. I took a seat between Beth Potter and Jo Pavey and to say I felt slightly out of my depth was an understatement. There was a splattering of GB and Commonwealth kit and a myriad of abs on display all over the tent and nervous anticipation in the air as the Bupa 10,000 which incorporated the British 10,000 Championships was little under an hour away.
As I sat in the tent wondering what the hell I was doing there I started to listen to some of the other girls saying how they weren’t going to PB or do well. To me this is a very silly thing to think just before a race. If you don’t think you are going to do well then you won’t! Get that negativity out of your head ladies and tell yourself and honestly believe that you are going to smash that race! Then you will…simple!
Yesterday morning my alarm started to beep at a very early 05.30am to wake me up for the Highland Fling Relay! I wasn’t entirely sure what I was about to embark on, needless to say this was completely my own fault as I decided to keep my leg a ‘surprise’. All I knew was that I was going to run on trails for around 14miles and would have to run up and down Conic Hill in the process.
So I headed to a car park in Milngavie to meet the rest of my team. For 6.30am everyone was in incredibly high spirits potentially due to the mountains of cake we had secured in the boot of the car. Making our way to the start Marnie was up first and at 7am along with the rest of the relay runners disappeared into the distance. We hopped back into the car and drove to Drymen to where I would be taking on the relay baton or timing chip in this case.