How was your weekend running?

As the clocks went back this weekend, the wintry temperatures moved in but there was still lots of great racing around the UK…

Top of the races on the South Coast it seems, was the Beachy Head Marathon and 10km, which starts in Eastbourne. We had lots of runners from the community taking part in one or other of the distances. If you’ve not heard of this race, look it up for next year (Oct 26, 2019) because it is a stunning route (particularly the longer marathon route) which takes in the beauty of the South Downs National Park in the Autumn.

Picture: Jo Prior

Renowned for spectacular scenery, steep ascents, punishing descents and a fantastic friendly atmosphere (even a music band and a tabletop  of currant buns and sugary tea at some of the refreshment stops), this is a fantastic bucket-list event. Or you can use it as training for an ultra.

In, fact, we were  on a 50 mile bike ride the following day with the third placed women’s marathon finisher, Bethan Male, who got to the podium with a time of 3 hrs, 21 minutes and was using the event as training for an ultra race in about a month’s time which involves a double – almost-ascent of Pen Y Fan!

As the clocks go back, this was the weekend that saw the launch into the night trail races, with Maverick Silva Dark Series in  West Sussex (try their Surrey one on 10th November if you’re in the South). But  our favourite of the weekend was definitely an event that one of our Scottish GRTW contingent ran this weekend, the Illuminator Night Trail Race, a 15  mile route with four big ‘ole climbs, lit by your head torch only. Well done all those who ran it, it looks beautiful and tough.

Which brings us to another race that we  missed mentioning last weekend when we missed our regular debrief, The Dramathon, which offers a marathon, a half or a 10km, with the full route tracking the Speyside Way from Glenfaricas Distillery to Glenfiddich and ending, of course with a dram.

Scotland, we salute you! Definitely winning hands down on the variety of the races offered, both in terms of challenging terrain and exploring!

 

 

How was your weekend running?

There were some big hitters in this weekend’s races, such as the Chicago and Chester Marathon. But what caught our eye was an event that helps put on the agenda the question of how much waste is produced by running events… 

So, Mo Farah won the Chicago Marathon this weekend in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 11 seconds, his first marathon win. Meanwhile, on European shores, the Chester Marathon took place. This is an event where age group recreational athletes are invited by English Athletics to compete for their country. If you think there is no way you could ever represent your country, it is worth taking a look at the qualifying criteria and applying if you are interested because it IS possible.  For more details, click here.

(By the same token, if you have your heart set on running the London marathon, or any of the other Majors, it is worth looking at the qualifying times you’d need to get for your age. You have to be in it, to win it as the saying goes and our virtual marathon training can help you get there).

Elsewhere in the UK, our core GRTW team were also taking part in events. Tara Shanahan, our Brighton and Hove Co-ordinator took fourth woman at the Bright10, a ten mile flat road race in Brighton in a time of one hour, 2 minutes and 37 seconds while co-founder, Dawn Buoys took on the Downlink 38 mile ultra. Elsewhere, we had lots of runners at the Oxford Half marathon – well done!

But it was an event run by one of our community, the Penicuik House Trail 10km, a new race that takes place in the grounds of Penicuik Estate in Midlothian, Scotland that caught our attention. Obviously, a beautiful part of the world to run in Autumn but it was the medals that caught our eye, made of wood that had from the Estate while the the first lady and man home received hand carved bowls from trees from the estate.

At at time when so much is being written about the waste in the fashion industry, perhaps it’s also time to turn our attention to running races. How many plastic bags are given out at a race finish, often containing lots of useless items including at least three printed leaflets. Then there are the t-shirst? How many of us really wear them again?

So, we applaud any event that introduces a way to prevent the waste of materials and plastic.  And if you’re interested in this subject, do check out the community interest company, Re-Run. Set up by ultra runner Dan Lawson and his wife, Charlotte, they are prolonging the life of running kit by re-purposing old race medals or event t-shirts to make new items which they are selling and using the profits to go back into supporting running projects.

How was your weekend running?

As we officially hit Autumn, the running season is hotting up with road and trail races taking place all over the UK this last weekend. Not least the Maverick Inov-8 X series Snowdonia 2018,  the first of our UK wide GRTW Get Together Events

From 3,145 feet on the shortest route to 4,055 feet on the middle route and up to 6,277 feet, the Maverick inov-8 X series Snowdonia race offers three distances, 17km, 23km or 43km but all three require a different approach than any usual road – or even trail – race because this is the mountains. And they take no prisoners!

We had 20 runners taking part, across all distances and everyone set off together up the Llanberis path  towards the summit of Snowdon with most runners adopting a fast hiking method before the tarmac even ran out.

My approach was to run everything I could, and if it became so steep that running became ineffective, to hike as quickly as I could. It wasn’t long after the tarmac section that I joined everyone else in walking. Lots of runners had set off with collapsible poles and, having not done any mountain races before, it was interesting to note the way runners used them, swinging them forward and using the swing of the pole to almost glide forward up the hill. (If you want some tips on techniques for running up or down technical terrain, listen to our YouTube interview with the women of this year’s marathon winner, in a time of five hours and 1 minute, Julia Davis by clicking here).

We could not have had better weather as we climbed up and up, the sound of everyone’s heavy breath joined by the huff and puff of the Snowdon train, a plume of smoke trailing behind it, as it chugged up with the many passengers who must have been surprised to find the trails full of up to 500 numbered runners.

As we climbed, the weather got colder and windier, so it was time to stop and put on a jacket, buff and gloves, which was at just about the point that the 17km route turns to descend again (not quite making the summit, which disappointed some of our runners) while the middle route continued up to the top and then it was a thrillingly, hairy descent (near the top, the marathon route also veers off to follow a separate route) to the refreshment table at the bottom.

After a big ascent and then trying to jump from rock to rock, my thighs were like jelly, and I certainly did not look like the couple who had climbed next to me and then disappeared down the trail, literally dancing amongst the jagged rocks, seemingly oblivious to the tiny narrow spaces where you had to place your foot.

By the time I hit the refreshment table, I was very glad of the coke, salted crackers, potatoes and cola bottles that were on offer, all which went in, in one handful. A short road section on the level was soon followed by another ascent along a zig zag path and then finally, a runnable trail path back to the race finish.

This was the first of our UK wide Get Together races, where we invite runners from around the UK to join us at an event, which we choose based on it offering a challenge but in an inspiring location – we provide the training plan, you train and meet us there. So well done Kate Dolphin from Malvern who joined us there and took on the mighty marathon and her sister, Lily Price.

 

 

Elsewhere in the UK, there was also lots of other events going on including the Windsor Half Marathon , a two lap, undulating race that takes place with Windsor Castle as a backdrop. Well done to Jenny Hall, who ran.

There was also Barnes Green Half Marathon, a road half marathon, renowned for fast times and for attracting lots of club runners. It’s definitely one for the calendar if you’re looking for a good one to train for next September. Although if you’re looking for the perfect Autumnal run for next year…one of our runners took on the Forest of Dean Half Marathon.  She reported that it was full of trees ablaze with the colours of the season.

So, well done to all of you who ran this weekend. If you’re interested in our Get Together races in 2019, sign up to our newsletter (visit the main page of our website) as we are just finalising the events and will attempt to organise discounts with the event organisers. 

Did you PB this weekend, run somewhere amazing that other women would love to hear about? Comment below and share your news.

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

The weather over the weekend for the South coast led to a string of event cancellations but up in Scotland and elsewhere it was a different story…

Pic: Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon

A sparse weekend it seems for events, but the big one that lots of our community took part in was the Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon and 10km, which looked glorious. Did you run it? It’s definitely one for our bucket list both for the beauty and for the fact that the first half is almost all downhill! Check out that route profile.

 

Even further up the UK, the weather was even more glorious with blue skies at the Tufty Trail, an off road event in Fife that takes place in the Scottish estate of the Falkland Estate. A five mile woodland trail race,, this one is a flat one and looks beautiful.

But while the weather looked great up in those parts, in our neck of the woods – or beach and Downs, it was a damp squib.

Rain, rain and more rain, heralded the arrival of Autumn with a big bucket of a soaking. More formal racing was taking place at SEAA Road Relays at Crystal Place where our Brighton and Hove Coach Co-ordinator, Tara was racing. A team relay event, it’s a fast paced competitive event but fun too.

But what the weekend weather did help remind us of is the need for good kit.

Despite having been a runner in all weathers since the year 2000, it’s amazing how quickly you forget over the summer the kit that you MUST have to make your running in the winter enjoyable.

If you want to see what our community members think are the best waterproof jackets, join our Facebook community and look under Topics, Kit.

 

How to thrive, not just survive a Ragnar Relay

Want to know the best way to approach a multi-stage team relay event? GRTW Co-owner, Dawn Buoys reveals all …

A few months ago I got a call from my friend Tom asking if I fancied taking part in a relay team for Ragnar in Hamburg. Our last event in 2013 had been in San Francisco, where I’d run over the Golden Gate Bridge so, to be honest, the box was pretty much ticked with bells on. But since I’m currently training for a 38 mile ultra event, I thought at least it would be a good training weekend.

I didn’t realise I’d totally missed the point.

You see, Ragnar is not really about running, it’s about everything else that goes with it; it’s an adventure with your friends where you get really tired, probably lost, and go a bit feral. And if you get the right team, you spend most of the time struggling to speak not because you’re out of breath due to running but from laughing so much.

To get the most out of the weekend it’s all in the planning. Think about how best you can look after everyone on the team so that they can enjoy their experience. Our team leader knows what he’s doing so he matched each relay legs to each individual’s running ability based on distance (each relay leg can vary in distance), running experience and who would be best to run in certain areas in the dark. For instance, some of the relay legs are van supported and so, while they can be a bit longer, suit runners who prefer the security of a van nearby.

Sorting out a buddy system over night so that everyone has company when they need it is also vital – and most importantly, get an extra, non running person to drive.

Needless to say, in Hamburg we had no driver so were doing it all ourselves which unfortunately meant a few mess ups, like turning up at the wrong checkpoints at the wrong time. It meant one of our runners, Will was left stranded at the end of his leg but he fortunately made friends had eaten chips and got chatted up while he was waiting for us.

Also, keep the van tidy – I can be terribly messy but it’s exhausting if you can’t find what you need when you need it, especially at night. We kept a food, drink and lie down section at the back of the van, wipes, loo roll, bin bags in the passenger door and all the high viz and lights in the driver’s door. On that note, any extra head torches, or lights of any kind are super useful at night.

As a physiotherapist, I’d also recommend you try and keep moving. Once it gets cold at night it’s really tempting to hibernate in the van but your legs will stiffen quickly. Get out, walk around, support the others runners and do a few stretches; your legs will really appreciate your efforts.  And eat!

Realistically, sleeping is unlikely so keep fuelling your body so it can keep going. Try and rest but don’t be upset if sleep doesn’t happen, your adrenaline will be pumping and it’s hard to totally switch off. Even if the day is warm you will get cold, I thought I had over packed in Hamburg but was so grateful for all my extra layers and especially my beanie hat and waterproof.

But most important of all, bring the right attitude. We vowed to never mention if we were cold or tired, as it’s pointless. That’s the challenge and that’s the bit that makes it worthwhile.

There are big highs and big lows often in the same mile. I was running through a cabbage field at three am panicking that it looked like an episode of Wallander when suddenly the clouds cleared, a huge moon appeared and shone so brightly that I found myself singing my heart out to Razorlight feeling like the luckiest girl in the world to be there.

So am I pleased I went to Hamburg? Of course. Was it better than San Fran? Actually it was, because I made some amazing new friends, had the biggest adventure and enjoyed so many belly laughs and that’s what a Ragnar is all about!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

While we were exploring trails and yoga postures to improve recovery at our Girls Run the World retreat, this weekend was a big one for running events, not least, the biggie, the Berlin Marathon where Eliud Kipchoge smashed the world record with such effortless grace

 

Last year, I saw the Richmond Running Festival and thought, ‘I must put that in the diary for next year,’ and promptly forgot until I saw everyone’s posts about it this weekend on what was perfect late summer weather for running. This event offers a 10km flat race in Kew Gardens on the Saturday and then you can switch to a Half Marathon or Marathon on the Sunday (again, it’s flat apparently). This is in addition to all the other kids events and a 5km Pirate themed race.

It’s a beautiful place to run and by all accounts, a great place to get a personal best offering both a flat course and – crucially if you get bored of road running – great views due to it’s location.  Another great trail event of multiple distances was the Maverick Kent race in the beautiful grounds of Groombridge near Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Maverick races are the scene of our Get Together event this year in few weeks in Snowdonia, and they seem like an event company to watch offering something a little bit different from traditional running event companies with a manageable number of runners so it feels friendly and – crucially – it means that you don’t have to turn up hours in event to queue for starting pens, bag drops and toilets.

The same of course can’t be said of the Berlin Marathon, one of the World Abbot Majors (which includes Chicago, Boston, New York, Tokyo and London) where queueing before the race is all part of  such a massive event. Lots of you ran it this year, many for the first time, (well done Sarah Shaw) and got to share the day when the World Record was smashed by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds beating the last record by one minute.

Most of you will have seen his final mile by now and the effortless grace in which the 33 year old strides – well, sprints – into the record books. Yes,  he’s an elite athlete and yes he trains all the time. But there is something truly inspiring about watching a runner break a record in such a way. I for one woke up this morning feeling inspired to sign up to another marathon in 2019.  Have you?

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

From the beach to The Beast, there were plenty of unique events taking place over the first September of the month – not to mention our monthly Parkrun get together…

Pic credit: Ian Corless

 

Just when you thought we were bidding goodbye to the summer, the warm weather returned this weekend but with much more manageable heat for running, which made for some fantastic events this weekend.

There was the Kent Coastal Marathon, a beautiful road half marathon that starts in Margate and travels along closed roads to take in Ramsgate and some of the rest of the Thanet coast. Word on the street is that it’s a bit of a loopy course though…did you run it?

And it was to Margate again this weekend that the inaugural RedBull Quick Sand event took place. A one mile race of two 0.5 mile loops, it sounds easy but it certainly isn’t when you learn that the event takes place on sand and you run up and down huge hills topped with stand castles and sand trenches that sap the energy from your legs. The event is split into male and female heats and you race other competitors to either go through to a semi-final or to a qualifying round. Let me tell you, it was a killer on the quads (race review coming up). RedBull’s goal is to build this event and eventually grow it so that the format can be taken elsewhere in the world. It’s a fun format, and definitely one to do with a group. But bear in mind, a mile is not a mile when you run it in sand!

And then on to The Beast, an event that one of the GRTW the community took part in over the weekend which caught our eye. A beautiful 12.46 mile trail event that takes in place along the beautiful Dorset coastal path…which means it’s brutal. With a maximum elevation of 1697 feet, this is one off road event that is all about the ups and downs! It’s too late for this event for 2018, but The Beast is part of a Purbeck Coastal Trail Series, which comprises six races – and there are some unique ones still to come this year, including the Studland Stampede, a 12km route over the beaches on Studland Bay on October 15th.

But over to you. Where did you run or race this weekend? Did you Parkrun debut or PB? Did you do a unique event that you want to shout about? Let us know!

 

 

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

August Bank Holidays, it appears, are very quiet on the race front although there was the South Coast Challenge, an ultra marathon of 100km from Eastbourne to Arundel over one or two days, as well as the some oddball village races involving a 5k race from one pub to the next…

Just when we thought the gorgeous holiday running photographs had petered out, up they pop again as everyone makes a last minute escape to warmer and drier climes than the weather that confronted most of us in the UK this weekend. Luckily for those taking part in the South Coast Challenge, a supported 100km ultra that can be done over one or two days, Saturday was beautiful.

We had one of our runners who undertook this event, a courageous attempt considering she’s only done two marathons before this, one of which was this year. An insane amount of climbing, this is a tough event with the knowledge that you have to run through the night if you’re doing the one day event. Did any of you take part? We are not quite sure about the part of the route where runners had to come all the way off the South Downs Way and down to the seafront in Brighton on a busy Bank Holiday, only to have to ascend again right the way back up to the South Downs Way. Did you run it? We’d love to hear what you thought.

Meanwhile, on Bank Holiday today, myself and the amazing GRTW Brighton head coach, Tara Shanahan (you’ll understand why I say this in minute) undertook the rather brilliantly named, King’s Head Canter. A 5km race over undulating village roads, it starts outside the Six Bells in the village of Chiddingly and ends at the King’s Head pub in East Hoathly, where you can exchange your race number for a pint at the pub.

This village race was started 21 years ago and attracts all kinds of runners, from young juniors to those in their seventies who run-walk it right the way through to club athletes. And we must congratulate Tara, who was running for her athletics club who took the 1st lady position in a time of 18 minutes and 24 seconds. And before you think, ‘Yeah, well she’s probably been running all her life and was always good at running.’

Not so. Tara is testament to the fact that you can start at any age, and keep improving no matter what your age. Which mean at 48, Tara is beating many runners half her age. (Psst! She’s also a very good coach and mentor).

Where did you run this weekend? We’d  love to hear about any funny Bank Holiday Monday runs similar to the King’s Head Canter. Comment below. 

How was your weekend running?

While many of you all seem to be making a final escape to European shores with some beautiful holiday running pictures being posted, back in the UK there have been some equally stunning races taking place from the Sussex Hardway 13  (yes, it was hard!) to the intriguing sounding Two Tunnels Half Marathon… (18-19th August)

Why would you run up tank tracks ascending 419 ft with a gradient of 13% on a August summer Saturday? This is the very start of the appropriately named The Hardway Half, a just over half  marathon (13.7 miles)  event from Sussex Trail Events. It’s an evil start to a stunningly beautiful route that follows the South Down’s Way at a time of the year when the fields are full of golden wheat and you can see as far out to the Seven Sisters.

A group of GRTW runners took part, mainly as training for the upcoming Get Together Maverick Snowdonia. As my glutes felt like they were on fire on the return leg of this out and back race, all I kept thinking  is that the Snowdonia event will be a great deal more difficult, climbing to over 3,000 ft in the first five miles (agh!).  But then, that’s the beauty of doing an event as a training run; it pinpoints EXACTLY what you need to focus on in your next block of training and helps focus the mind.

The GRTW ultra coach, Sarah Sawyer placed second lady in this weekend’s event and her secret for getting super strong on the hills? Lots of hiking up hills with 8kg of dried chickpeas in her backpack (her A game is the Grand Raid des Pyrenees, a 123km races with 7000 metres of ascent which takes place over the August bank holiday – good luck Sarah!)

And one more thing to add about The Hardway Half…I thought it was called this because it was a hard trail half marathon. However, it could equally have been called this because actually, the second half of this race is MUCH harder than the first. Bear that in mind if you do it next year!

Elsewhere, we loved the sound of the Two Tunnels Half Marathon by Relish Running Races in the beautiful West Country around Bath. Taking in the gorgeous countryside of the Limply Stoke Valley, the route is on mixed terrain footpaths and trails, taking in the beautiful city of Bath before going to the riverside and traveling through the Combe Down Tunnel, which at 1672 metres long, making this event the one with the longest underground section of any race. Through Monkton Combe village and along the Somerset Coal Canal before merging with the Kennet and Avon Canal, this sounds like a truly stunning route.

They also have half marathons in May and July, so it may be worth checking out their events for 2019.

 

But over to YOU! Where did you train or what event did you take part in? Anyone run Parkrun abroad this weekend?

Based in Brighton? Don’t miss our Adventure Runs every Thursday this summer. Details of all Brighton events can be found here

 

 

How was your weekend running?

While the weather broke almost all over the UK this weekend, that didn’t stop the GRTW community taking on some absolutely beautiful events from the magical Mhor Marathon in Scotland to the Sailsbury’s 54321 Half Marathon in the West. Where did you run?

August 11-12, 2018

As the summer holidays begin to draw near to an end, there are not so many of our runners posting from far flung destinations but there are some equally as stunning routes as part of events taking place here in the UK which is showcasing just how beautiful running can be in this country in the summer when you can actually see the scenery without cloud, mist and/or snow.

A case in point is the magnificent Mhor Marathon which one of the GRTW runners participated in this weekend. Also available as shorter distance, the full marathon takes in the breathtaking mountainous terrain which make up the Trossach’s National Park, with a maximum ascent of up to 2250 feet , with enough level parts to allow you to take in the stunning Lochs Lubnaig and Voil.

It’s certainly an event that would have benefited the runners from all over the UK who will join us in our first GRTW Meet Up at the Snowdonia Maverick event (it’s almost sold out, book it if you want to meet us there!). There have been lots of training runs recorded over the weekend from these runners, although for us Southerners, nothing quite as hilly as we need.

Elsewhere, runners took part in the Salisbury 5,4,3,2,1 Trail Half Marathon, although again, this event offers a range of distances from 5km up to a 50km ultra. Why the name? It passes 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 country estates, 2 castles and one cathedral.  The terrain is mixed using bridleways, trails and road but allowing runners access to private country estates which are usually closed to the public. Beautiful.

Where did you run this weekend and what were you training for? Comment below. And if you ran either of the races above and would like to contribute to our Race Review section, please email rachael@girlsruntheworld.co.uk