extreme2015, race reports

Hell up North and Cannock

Ali and I spent the night before the event with our friends Chris and Bethany over by Delamere Forest where we’d be doing a muddy half marathon event run by the Hell Runner team on the Saturday. Then we’d head over to Cannock for a long bike sportive.

The double weekend events have been the things that have most improved my fitness this year. Having to do a tough event two days in a row has definitely tested us as you’ve not fully recovered you find that you really have to push hard to complete the second event.

I’m prone to making some bad mistakes in terms of race day preparation and this weekend was definitely a doozy. I’d not met up with Chris for a while so we had loads to talk about; as is our way we decided to pop down to the pub for a couple of pints. These couple of pints ended up being a few pints; some wine and several double whiskeys.

Hell up North was feeling pretty bad the next day as I woke up with a hell sized hangover. Clearly this was self inflicted so I was just going to have to tough it out. Ali wasn’t going to put up with any moaning.

The race event is described:

Fancy a swift half? Bog off to that. This is the UK’s toughest half marathon where Mother Nature will deliver that sinking feeling and more. The bar in extreme mud runs is about to be set at a new level (which is incidentally chest high in “Lucifer’s Lido”). Methane-munching HellRunners are now being recruited to tackle the notorious Bog of Doom — where the heart-thumping Devil’s Disco will rock you to glory.

Epic will not describe your experience. We’ll have you in tears… pain and laughter in equal doses actually. Pyro, samba band, fun run, hose wash, fabulous finish line rewards. It just doesn’t stop… but will you?

As running experiences go, this is Heaven from Hell. Run Happy.

The run was amazing; we headed through the woods and before long were clambering up steep slopes and natural obstacles and then into the mud. There was a lot of mud. We pushed through the miles and eventually hit Lucifers Lido which was a freezing water feature. We started out waist height and then soon found ourselves neck deep. Eventually I started swimming.

Getting out of the water I found myself serious sapped of energy but still had three miles left and significant mud features to overcome.


Cannock Sportive

The next day we found ourselves in Cannock for a 55 miles sportive bike ride. We were pretty tired but went out as hard as we could. The day was tough and i ended up coming off my bike three times; once nearly wiping Ali out. Lucky for me I managed not to cause her to much trouble.

I can’t really remember much of what happened because I was so tired but there was some spectacular scenery towards the end.

A lady at the end who we’d been speaking to donated £10 towards our extreme 2015 charities which was awesome considering we’d just been chatting to her to keep our spirits up when trying to get up the last hill.

Would like to do this event again; hopefully next time i’ll not be recovering from a hangover and not have done a hellish half marathon.

Tough weekend made tougher by being a muppet.

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Running Warrington Way Ultra

I am never, ever going to run further then 30 miles. I recall this thought vividly as I finished the Cortina trail. I was absolutely destroyed. Ali and I had been running for just over 9 hours over mountains; doing 2750m ascent and descent. Our quads, hamstrings and knees where kaput.

Two hours later I got this tweet:


The Warrington Way starts and finishes in the lovely Cheshire village of Lymm, about 5 miles east of Warrington.    The route takes in the villages/areas of Warburton, Rixton, Birchwood, Winwick, Burtonwood, Bold, Penketh, Sankey Bridges, Moore, Appleton, Hatton, Stretton and High Legh before returning to Lymm.

Hmm – I wonder if I could run 40 miles? Its flat – how hard can it be?

A couple of weeks later I’d signed myself, Ali and Andy up for this.

I really felt that we had to keep pushing ourselves; we’d done an Ultra but it seemed like we could go further and I kept thinking that the point of this year was to push ourselves as much as we could. In the end I stopped arguing with myself and just signed up.

Our training leading up to Warrington involved doing all our other events; basically – Ride London, Race the train, London Duathlon, Dam Ard Triathlon, Hell Up North and Cannock Chase Sportive and six park runs with a small number of long runs.

So when Alison said we’d not done enough long run training I wasn’t worried – i’d run a muddy half marathon with a hangover – that was tough.

Andy wasn’t convinced about getting around leading up to this but he’d had some good races he’d done so i figured he’d be fine.

The week leading up to the event was pretty stressful for me as I had a presentation at the NEC for work. Diet that week wasn’t great and along with late nights and a few beers I wasn’t in the best shape.

Mentally I felt pretty good though as we drove across to Warrington the night before; I’d had a great week; got the presentation out of the way and now could blow some steam off over 40 miles.

Dan used to live in Lymm and his parents Silvia and Roger had kindly offered to put us up.

Silvia and Roger looked after us that weekend and it was great not having to worry about going home after the ultra. We can’t thank them enough for their hospitality that weekend.

Dan and Rachel and their daughters Emily and Fran has been supporting us all this year and we’d now got Dan’s parents in on the act too along with Dan’s sister Jo. I think we must have seen them about 6 times along the way which really helped keep our spirits up.

40 miles is a long way but I figured that I could run 30 as we’d done a couple of 20+ miles runs. I figured by 30 we’d be tired and the last ten would be just a matter of dragging ourselves around.

A week earlier we’d all got together for a run and came up with our race day strategy; which was basically a run/walk strategy. Plan was to run 2 miles; walk three minutes and then repeat for the entire event. I figured that we’d be looking at 8-9 hours.

The day started off wet; I had wet feet just going into register. There were two categories of runners; a relay team who comprised 4 runners each running ten miles and the nutters doing the 40 miles.

In our briefing we discovered that there was a diversion due to utility company doing some work so our 40 miles run was expected to come in close to 42 miles.

My knee decided to to feel sore.

Andy and I decided we’d better try and stick with Ali – as the only one who can run a consistent pace she was our best bet of finishing.

We’d warned Andy that Ali and I would likely have an argument at mile 18-19 as we always seem to go through a sticky point at this stage and he said he’d force feed us if we looked like we running low on energy.

The race started in the dark and the rain but Ali and I managed to try out our Montane jackets for the first time and found them pretty good for keeping the rain out.

startlineAfter about three miles we took the jackets of as very warm and the rain had stopped. Our feet were socked from running through the puddles. It seemed pointless to try and avoid them.

Running and ultra is pretty relaxing in a way; you are going a lot slower – think we were averaging about 11 minutes a mile (including the 3 minutes walk every two miles) – so you can talk. Andy was in his element and kept the discourse varied over the next twenty miles.

In addition we had some notable people joining us at some strategic points!

Dan met us around the thirteen mile point and ran with us for quite a few miles.

At the marathon point (26.2 miles) Andy, Alison and I were crusing. We all let out a cheer that we’d done a marathon. We completed it in just under five hours and had about 16 miles left – I didn’t feel too bad. Andy had been getting worried from about 8 miles as he felt way too tired early on and started to struggle after 26. Roger joined us to run along the canal stage leading up to the third stop. Andy was really struggling and Roger pulled him along to the next stop where he was able to get some fuel. He was contemplating dropping out at this stage but after a brief respite and waving one of the marshals away started to recover.

Getting started was the most difficult point for me after each 10 miles respite; I couldn’t keep my legs from tightening up and it took me a couple of miles to loosen up again.

Despite our exhaustion the last ten miles were great; Alison got stronger and stronger and Andy was back on the pace (well after chucking up). Andy had the answer with some jelly babies and started to make a swift recovery.

At the last three mile point we met up with Rachel; who had been toying with the idea of running with us. We were unsure if she was going to though because shes only just started running; having done her first park run recently. So it was brilliant to see her as we crossed over a bridge and saw her in her running gear. She looked very clean! Her new trainers swiftly turned brown as we crossed a field. Rachel had been worried she wouldn’t be able to keep up with us but believe me that wasn’t a problem we noticed.

My garmin run out of juice around the 39 mile point (wuss); I understood how it felt but didn’t have the luxury of bailing out.


The very last mile i’d stopped for a quick call of nature and found I couldn’t get my legs moving again. I was really struggling. Rachel stuck with me and coaxed me though the next mile and I managed to scoff a few jelly babies which helped.

We met up with Emily and Fran and I ended up racing Fran through the park leading out into Lymm.

I finally caught up with Ali and Andy at the last hill; and we crossed the finish line together. This was a tough challenge and really needed the support from Silvia, Roger, Jo, Rachel, Dan, Emily and Fran to get through this. We all had rough spots and managed to work as a team to pull each other through.

Looking at our splits compared to others we managed pretty consistent times which I put down to going out slow for the first ten miles. There were quite a number of other runs who were twenty to thirty minutes quicker then us but blew up after that. Our consistent pace was definitely the right strategy and we finished in 8:24


Surname Forename Club Awards Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Total time
SHARPE Charlie Spectrum Striders 1st male 01:06:00 01:16:00 01:17:00 01:12:00 04:51:00
SMITH Alison Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:08:00 02:05:00 02:16:00 08:24:00
SMITH Michael Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:07:00 02:06:00 02:16:00 08:24:00
WICKS Andrew Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:07:00 02:10:00 02:12:00 08:24:00
extreme2015, news, race reports

RACE RESULTS: Warrington Way 40 Mile Trail Race – 7th November

Surname Forename Club Awards Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Total time
SHARPE Charlie Spectrum Striders 1st male 01:06:00 01:16:00 01:17:00 01:12:00 04:51:00
SMITH Alison Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:08:00 02:05:00 02:16:00 08:24:00
SMITH Michael Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:07:00 02:06:00 02:16:00 08:24:00
WICKS Andrew Abbey Runners 01:55:00 02:07:00 02:10:00 02:12:00 08:24:00

Mike Smith Warrington 40

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RACE RESULTS: Harewood 10 (Trail) – 8th November

Fabulous turnout by the abbeys with several getting 1st or 2nd in their category!!!  What a great achievement and well done to Greg & Dominic for coming in the top 10.


Pos No Name Club Cat Time Pos in Cat
6 614 Greg Weatherhead Abbey Runners Msen 63.39 5
10 493 Dominic Nurse Abbey Runners M40 65.48 1
12 203 Richard Gaffey Abbey Runners M40 66.26 2
56 484 Sean Maccarthy Abbey Runners M40 72.54 15
63 255 Martin Jones Abbey Runners M40 74.04 19
89 262 Craig Kent Abbey Runners Msen 77.26 40
96 375 John Ward Abbey Runners M60 78.57 1
111 381 James Whittaker Abbey Runners M40 80.00 31
112 291 Zellany Neal Abbey Runners F45 80.05 1
147 183 Ruth Dorrington Abbey Runners F45 83.58 2
181 138 Garry Brownbridge Abbey Runners M50 87.29 35
184 460 Martin Browne Abbey Runners M50 87.50 36
219 271 Laurence Lennon Abbey Runners M50 93.19 39
244 385 Liz Willis Abbey Runners F45 96.13 9
283 317 David Rayson Abbey Runners M40 105.02 61
293 320 Amanda Rhodes Abbey Runners F35 108.27 34
304 477 Lisa Hitchen Abbey Runners F35 112.46 36
310 175 Carolyn Dewhirst Abbey Runners F45 120.40 25
316 622 Samuel Black Abbey Runners M60 133.48 17


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Race Results: Yorkshire Marathon & 10 Mile – October 2015

Yorkshire Marathon

Pos. No. Name Chip Time Chip Pos. Gender Pos. Cat. Cat. Pos.
286 964 Richard Gaffey 03:17:08 292 265 M40 68
462 464 Martin Jones 03:27:18 479 428 M40 107
568 470 David Nahal 03:30:54 581 525 M50 35
801 965 Matthew Laird 03:41:07 844 724 M35 136
987 1795 James Whittaker 03:45:55 970 867 M45 137
1334 919 Helen Roden 03:55:41 1343 187 F40 45
1380 966 Stephen Greene 03:58:35 1496 1177 M 304
1803 3093 Clive Walton 04:11:48 1804 1500 M45 230
1876 1786 Elizabeth Willis 04:11:54 1891 326 F50 15
1921 3149 Katie Taylor 04:13:13 1933 341 F 115
2434 1799 Tom Broadley 04:32:20 2562 1910 M 497
3131 6052 Jane Oughton 04:50:02 3047 819 F55 28
3629 1798 Stephen Broadley 05:34:32 3664 2565 M60 71

Yorkshire 10 Mile

Pos. No. Name Chip Time Chip Pos. Gender Pos. Cat. Cat. Pos.
38 10536 Luke Wray-Rogers 01:06:14 41 37 M35 6
549 11108 James Balkwill 01:24:29 476 420 M45 56
1407 11105 Kieren Balkwill 01:49:24 1393 683 F40 107