Running the 66-mile Vanguard Way: 28 days to go

The following contemplations emerged today as I ran 30 miles. I should note that I am writing this while crammed on a train feeling nauseous. My judgement is impaired. Firstly, running along the North Downs Way is hard. My only previous experience of the route was the relatively flat and fast Guildford to Westhumble stretch….

Running the 66-mile Vanguard Way: 31 days to go

Tomorrow is May 16. In one month’s time, on June 16, I will – injury and illness-depending – equal the furthest distance I have ever run. That previous run was the 66-mile Bob Graham Round, completed in 19 hours and 32 minutes in 2012. This year’s run is the Vanguard Way footpath, another, coincidental 66…

Three Forts Marathon and the need for constancy

The essence of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is that Arsenal is the author’s constant in life. Amid the flux of education, work, relationships, happiness and sadness, Arsenal and football remain resilient to the vagaries of his existence. Running has been my constant since the age of 18. Through university, through jobs, through seasons, through highs…

South Downs Way 50: over before it began

Three unfortunate things happened this week: Monday – I drive from Lancashire to London. As I leave St Annes on Sea on the Fylde coast, I reset the mileage clock to zero. I watch as the miles tick by. Reaching the end of the M55, I turn right onto the M6, cross over the River…

How I almost won the Steyning Stinger Marathon

I could have won the Steyning Stinger Marathon. I should have won the Steyning Stinger Marathon. Had I been running the 2012 version, I would have been clear in first place by 18 minutes. As it was, I was 40 seconds behind yesterday’s deserved winner, Stuart Mills. Mills – known as UltraStu – is a…

The 66-mile running specialist

I’ve found a running niche. I am a 66-mile specialist. My training program is geared to running this exact distance, not a mile more, not a mile less. Apart from parkruns, cross countries, 10ks, half-marathons, marathons and ultra distances, I will only entertain 66-mile runs. The Bob Graham Round – all 66 miles of it…

Ultrarunning: eliminating the ‘poison’ of doubt

Not a day has elapsed since June 3, 2012, when I haven’t reflected on the events of those 24 hours: a successful Bob Graham Round, all 42 peaks, 66 miles and some 27,000ft of it. I am continually inspired by what happened that day, imbuing a (so far) life-long sense of if-I-can-do-the-Bob-Graham, I can do…

I am the 1739th member of the Bob Graham Club

It is official. I am a member of the Bob Graham Club. Member number 1739, sandwiched between Martin Spooner (1738) and Andrew Kirkup (1740). This is a reward (one of many) for 19 hours and 33 minutes of toil on an endless June day when possibilities seemed limitless. Happily, the updated list, including those who successfully completed the Bob…

Nocturnal wanderings in Surrey and London

A night run of at least 30 miles from Guildford to London had seemed a good idea earlier this week. Today – at home, in the warm and dry, surrounded by food – it seems a good idea. Crossing the M25 at 11 o’clock last night, having negotiated 15 miles of the North Downs Way…

2013: so far, so underwhelming

I have been underwhelmed by 2013. Isn’t a new year meant to herald inspiration? Where’s mine? Blogs, Facebook and Twitter were bursting with positivity on New Year’s Day: people embarking on their first exercise of 2013, people announcing goals: marathons, ultra-marathons, Ironmans and the like. The peer pressure to do something, anything, was overwhelming. After…

That winning feeling at the Broadway Tower Marathon

I won a race yesterday. A running race. I was the fastest. The victor. On one day, in one place, no-one could beat me. This isn’t gloating; it is savouring a moment that may not happen again. I’ve said it before on this blog, but while there is pleasure to be gained by running, the…