A RACE WIN- COASTAL TRAIL SERIES NORTHUMBERLAND ULTRA

The decision on whether to race or not when carrying injuries is always a tough one. For me it usually comes down to factors that include

1)    Is the race somewhere beautiful. That I want to run

2)    Is the race important

3)    Am I going to make the injury worse by running and

4)    How sore will it be

Approaching the finish

Approaching the finish at Banburgh Castle

Endurance Life put on an excellent series of races, deliberately stationed in areas of natural beauty. Living in Edinburgh, I do like a good castle, and the Northumberland coastal trail has castles in spades.  I have not spent much time exploring this coast before, and on foot, during a race seemed an ideal way to do so.  The knocks I was carrying were more annoyances rather than significant injuries. I’d been elbowed in the ribs and had my foot stood on playing football in midweek (that is what I get for having a clumsy touch!).  The ribs grumbled taking a deep breath and when running quickly, whilst my foot has some interesting looking bruises.

These annoyances were blown out of the water by the prospect of a decent outing on a baby blue weather day. The van was fully frosted over, and the stars out by the time I got to sleep. Having come directly from working at the Edinburgh vs Ospreys rugby game I wasn’t sure I’d packed a pair of trainers- leaving office shoes or rugby boots as alternatives. I’d ran a few hills before in a pair of office shoes and did not fancy a repeat.

Fortunately when I woke out the Merrell’s were there, and I jumped on the bus to the start line. The route itself was a linear and varied one. The birds sang and my mood splendid at the start. After only a couple miles my race was nearly over. Having already been outwitted by one gate, I tried to jump one, and succeeded only in giving myself a fence in the baby making department.

With one thing and another- running quickly was catching my ribs a bit I ran a pretty conservative race. The course was a superb mixture of coastal trail, sandy beach, dunes, along with some mud (where would we be without mud in March) and road.  It was great to see great fields for not only the ultra, but also for the marathon, half marathon and 10km- many people I spoke to said it was their first.  I was a little caught up in the scenery, getting a little lost a couple times although this was entirely my own fault- the routes were well marked.  I ran steadily, taking a gel every 30 minutes, and aiming for make sure I finished in 4 hrs 40 minutes as my good friends Mike and Jess McKenzie were getting married nearby- this would give me the time to scrub up.

Banburgh Castle imposes itself for many miles. Spectators can see the finishers approaching many miles off, and the encouragement was welcome. I finished in 4 hours 32 minutes, finishing first in the Ultra and well in time for the wedding.

Sun and a medal- I'm happy

Sun and a medal- I’m happy

Endurance Life put on a fantastic series of events, I can recommend trying one of them for yourself.  I used Merrell’s new kit for the season, the All Out Rush trainer (review can be found on runblogger) and Science in Sport nutrition.

Good luck to everyone running races soon- next one for me is the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon at the start of April.

Andrew

 

NEW YEAR TO GET OUT AND GET ACTIVE

lappingthecouchFirst of all the great news. Thanks to the huge generosity and efforts of family, friends, and companies like Footworks Edinburgh, Merrell UK, Tribesports, the Balmoral Hotel and UVU racing, and dare I say it many people reading this blog, we reached our targets from Lessons From Africa. A special thanks also to Arnaud le Marie for his fantastic and unstinting website work, and to Ross Lawrie for producing brilliant Graphic Designs, posters, and other great stuff all of which has led to the success of this project, and previous ones also.  Over 1000 pairs of shoes have been sent out to support Running Across Borders, over £10,000 raised to support African Palliative Care Association, and vital medical equipment has gone out to support Chogoria Hospital. Massive, massive thanks everyone.

New years bring new ambitions. I love the simplicity of a poster I saw “No matter how slowly you are going, you will still lap those on the couch”. It’s kept me going in December, when times were slow and the days cold.

2014 will be a huge year for sport in Scotland, and one that I’m looking forward to enormously.  There will be fairly major personal challenges from a running/ adventure point of view, and some great stuff going on at work.

Next week sees my first outing race wise of 2014, racing the Anglesey Coastal Trail Series  http://www.endurancelife.com/event-new.asp?series=82&location=267 . It’s a 34 odd miler, with about 1000metres of ascent and descent in a fabulous part of the world.   I’m usually one to pick races based on a place I fancy going and the seaside villages, coastal tracks and stunning beaches as well as the customary hills sound an ideal way to spend a Saturday morning.  As a bonus it is on a Saturday, so we can go climbing in nearby Snowdonia the day after.  The last time I was in Snowdonia, I did the Welsh 3000 feet peak challenge in winter, climbing all the 3000 peaks consecutively and running between them. The itinerary on Sunday might be a little less hectic.

The weekend also offers a chance to race in some new kit. My principal sponsor for 2014 are Merrell UK. I’ve enjoyed working with them last year, partly due to the top quality of their footwear and clothing but also they are good people- for example donating 150 pairs of new trainers to Running Across Borders during last year’s Africa trip.  I’m delighted to be a brand ambassador for both footwear and clothing this year, and a Merrell Pack leader. You can join the pack here, for information and lots of free giveaways.

Both weekends so far have offered the chance to do what I enjoy best- get outdoors. Last Saturday we had some fairly variable (glorious sunshine to white-out) weather up Beinn a Ghlo and a few of the Perthshire mountains and felt we’d earned a beer at the finish. In preparation for an epic challenge this summer, both Donnie Campbell and myself will be spending a load of time in the mountains.  This weekend I’m up in Crieff with the family enjoying some outrageous sunshine and doing a load of outdoor things.

Last year I had the chance to climb, run, bike and hike in a load of cool places, from the Dolomites to East Africa, but actually many of the amazing days were in the UK- running along the Giant’s Causeway and immense adjacent rock formations to days in the forests, on the coast, or in the mountains of Scotland. We also had some almost perfect weather for a week in the lake district.  This year will be no different, with trips planned at home and abroad- it is incredible what you can see in even a day.

Andrew & Kids

Work wise having largely worked in sport for the last year, I’ll start to direct more efforts into getting more people more active more often. For some of the reasons why check out a cool video called 23 ½ hrs, whilst January means that 6 Nations Rugby is round the corner, where I’ll be assisting Dr James Robson with the Scotland team during February as well as doing ongoing work with European Tour and Challenge Tour Golf, and the SportScotland Institute of Sport.

I’ve also started writing my second book – which will offer insights and smart solutions into the Science and Medicine of running for longer, and faster. I’ll share excerpts from this on my blog.

I’m speaking at a few (public) events in February, these ones feature some great line ups: Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival and Sports and Exercise Medicine Symposium.

Andrew