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 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?

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

 

Vegan Curry

This delicious curry is SUPER quick to make and it’s also raw! Which means it’s perfect for these hot running conditions, while also being really tasty…

Ingredients

2 avocados, 2 lemons, juiced, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 2 tbsp curry powder, 4 carrots, 1 apple, 3oz green beans, 1 red onion, 2 stalks celery, 1 red pepper, 2oz pine nuts, 1oz raisins.

Method

Blend avocado, lemon, sesame oil and curry to a cream in a food processor. Meanwhile, grate carrot and apple, fine slice green beans, onion, celery and red pepper. Add remaining ingredients, stir and serve.

How was your weekend running?

Mountain running and park runs , I’m a little late with this weekend post from 7th-8th July but my excuse? Holding running in the lovely Italian Dolomites and Lake Garda…


 

If you ever fancy a DIY running holiday,  I can’t recommend Lake Garda and the Dolomites enough. I was there last week, firstly in the Dolomites to take part in an arduous but absolutely amazing cycle sportive, Maratona Dles Dolomites. I then stayed on and just ran the trails that I could find. Hilly, hard but absolutely stunning with nothing but the babble of mountain springs and the gentle ring of cowbells through the clear air.

The amazing thing about this area, Alta Badia is that during the summer, they even put on regular weekly runs for five euros, that you can just join and they’ll guide you through amazing mountain trails. I didn’t have time but I definitely plan to return. Details here

Running is big in every country now but, until I went to Italy I had no idea just how huge the trail running scene is, not to mention fantastic ultra trails. Just a weeks before,  was the Laveredo Ultra Trail Race  which The Guardian’s Adharanand Finn wrote about last week (read it here).

A few days later, I travelled from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, where I kept coming across placards on the mountains and billboards advertising incredible races. On one hike, I saw signs for the Lake Garda Mountain Race. Sounds amazing, I thought. The clue was in the name though, this is a race that starts on the lake level at the beautiful Malsecine and climbs from 68 metres to 2128 metres. Bearing in mind I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for 48 hours from walking down, you can imagine how crazy fit you’d have to be.

Still some way to go

But this area holds a special place in my running heart, as it is Lake Garda that was my very first marathon – it was hot, it poured with rain, the race refreshment included biscuits (which I tried – doh!) and there was Prosecco on the  finishing line. (You can read the article I wrote about the race here). It was also the location of one of our busiest race trips with over 32 Girls Run the World runners joining us for the 10km and 15 mile race.

But back here in the UK,  it was a super hot weekend with lots of our runners reporting suffocatingly hot park runs from Scotland to Southampton. Did you run?

And if you are off on holiday soon, what do you do about running? Do you still run, how do you explore?

We’d love to hear from any of you who race, where you ran, what you thought, would you recommend it? Comment below or in our Facebook group.

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

So, I’m a bit behind with our #medalmonday post – while most of you were running fantastic races like the Two Castles Run (from Warkwick to Kenilworth) and the St Alban’s Half Marathon, I was taking time out from the purity of just running to participate in the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman

 

 

Graeme always has terrible weather at his events,’ confided one of the marshals the day before the 113 Cotswold Half Ironman, as I eyed up the lake I was due to swim 1.9km in the following morning. The next morning, I stood there again, having awoken at 4.30am to rack my bike in transition by the cut-off at 5.40am and to be ready to swim. Except we didn’t. The fog was so thick, you couldn’t see 100 metres on to the lake, let alone the buoys to swim to. And so we waited, all 1000 participants, for 90 minutes until it was safe to get out on the water.

This was my second half ironman distance triathlon this year, which comprises a 1.9km swim, 56 mile bike ride and a half marathon.

If you’re a runner who feels like they need a bit of a change, or you’re injured and need your ‘fix’ without running, or you value the importance of an all over body discipline, then triathlons are a great accessory to add to your running arsenal.

Running is my first love but I decided to take six months out of just ‘pure’ running to help my body grow stronger in different areas, try something new and give myself some ‘mental’ space from chasing marathon PBs. And triathlons have certainly given me that – as well as providing me with new mental strategies that I will now take forward to my final half of the year, focusing on my next ‘A’ race, the Girls Run the World Get Together at the Maverick Snowdonia off road race.

When you’ve got a swim, a bike and THEN a run to do, it’s easier to keep focused and not get overwhelmed by expectation, which can tend to happen with running after you’ve spent 16 weeks training for just one event. Triathlon teaches you to break everything down into manageable segments. On the bike, instead of thinking, ‘Jesus, this is so hard, I’ve got 20 miles to go,’ I focus on eating every 20 minutes, keeping my legs moving and thinking of the strategy for my run.

And on the swim, I just enjoy the vibe and think about what I’m going to do when I get out of the water as I transition on to the bike. (To be fair, I haven’t mastered this and generally tend to faff about!).

And like many triathlons of a longer distance, the runs are almost always broken into laps. As a runner, I used to HATE laps, thinking it was so boring. But when you’re focusing hard, laps have a curiously comforting element to them. This weekend, I focused on one lap at a time, putting the thought of the pain and discomfort of the entire distance away in a box.

Although a great thing about triathlons if you’re runner is that you’ll find that you often get overtaken on the bike, and then you’ll reel them all back in on the run. So,  rather than succumbing to the heat and discomfort on the run, I decided to count every person that I passed and those who passed me. I counted 346, which means that I passed over a third of the field on the run, with only two passing me.

How can I apply this to running, when it really isn’t so easy to pass people? If you tend to go off too quickly in a running race, being secure enough in your running to let others go in front, keeping your pace in check and then reeling people in is a great race strategy. I’ll be trying it.

As for the Cotswolds 113, I’d recommend it if you’re after a longer distance triathlon, friendly, and flat for great PB potential – plus some GREAT pubs to celebrate in!

Thanks to all those who kept me entertained virtually on Sunday morning by sharing where you were running, from the Chew Valley 10km to the Stanwick Lakes Half Marathon to the Parkrun mile to the Hull 10km. We’d love to hear how your running went the past weekend. Let me know!

Psst, if you like the vest design, they’re our limited edition ones, if you want to get your hands on them, give us a shout. They’re £15 plus P&P.