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This will be my penultimate post of the year; I’m excited to look at the end of year stats, milage, race count etc etc, but that will come in Decembers post between Christmas and New year. I’ll just have to be patient.

The past 8 weeks have been so much fun, and at times pretty horrendous too. It is certainly a tale of highs and lows… plus vomit, lost bags, missed races, new races, and exhaustion.

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Let’s first point out that November 1st signified week 1 of my 37 week programme to get me fit, ready and over prepared for my World Record Attempt next July; i’ll be heading back to Northern Ireland’s rainy coast to start the 3 day 350 mile journey to Mizen Head on 18th July. Leading up to November however wasn’t all ‘feet up’ and chill though. The last 4 races of the year were ahead of me and I wanted to give it my best.

So October… The 10th month of the year and strangely my first race in France. Note to self… do more races in France.

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I heard a friend was running a 20k event in Paris, adptly named the Paris 20k, a race distance i’ve never really ran, be it 1000 meters short of a half it almost seems silly. It certainly wasn’t on the wish list but a quick check of the calendar showed i was free that weekend, so how could i turn down a little jog around the capital with friends. (I later realised I wasn’t in fact free and had double booked, my neat organised calendar system was failing me somehow)

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Anyway, after inviting myself along, together with another friend, Mike, we hopped on our respective method of transport and had 2 fun days in Paris. The race though was a little strange… possibly the most poorly organised race I’ve come across. Never mind though, a cartoon medal, and a good catch up. A worth while trip plus i managed a 01:19 half Here’s some pics.

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Just a week after Paris I had a 200km race. The Sandstone Way Ultra. This race offers runners an opportunity to run this 120 mile semi marked trail. The Sandstone Way route runs from the very top to very bottom of Northumberland. Starting in Berwick Upon Tweed and finishing in Hexham.

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The Sandstone Way has been developed as a Mountain Bike trail that is designed to be ridden in three to four days or 2 days by the “fit and fast.” If ever there was a statement to get an ultra runner going then that is surely it. The Sandstone Way full course also provided 4 UTMB points.

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This weekend didn’t exactly go to plan. After a long 10 hour drive from Bristol I arrived in the middle of nowhere. The postcode had taken me to a small hamlet no where near where i needed to be. After asking for directions from Friday night drunks and a call to the race organiser I arrived at almost midnight. Due to the length and linearity of the race there was a shuttle bus service to take all the runners from the finish to the start early on race day morning. This was so our cars and travel was all instantly available at the finish. Most races like this tend to offer the same. So a 4:30am alarm woke me up. I slept in the car the night before as i often do. The shuttle bus arrived and i spoke to the driver, he confirmed we would be leaving at 5. 15 minutes later at 4:45 after a visit to the car to get my last few bits and pieces including my 3 drop bags filled with food and supplies for the 30 hour race. I turned around and the coach was driving off. It left early, without me.

As you can imagine after a 10 hour drive and an early start it was rather frustrating. No answer from the race organiser left me stranded. Although i could drive to the start line 120 miles away and beat the coach there, my car would then be 120 miles from me when i crossed the line a day later with little or no energy. Just not possible. A grumpy few hours passed with me back in my sleeping bag. Just to remind you, this is Northumberland, in October. Cold and Wet.

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After a few more hours of sleep i woke up with a fresh perspective, i have everything ready for a race, so let’s find a race. A 20 min google i found a race the next day, some 300 miles south. Only a 10 miler, but the entry was open and available on the day. The Draycote Lake 10 miler was to be my somewhat shorter substitute.

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I did still have an entire day though and i was only a few miles away from some of the best hills and trails in the country. Quick look at a map and I was on my way to the Lake District.

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What could have been a pretty diapponting weekend turned into 40 miles running around a reservoir, a short race on Sunday where i finished 7, beautiful views, another little medal and some great photos. A great wintery weekend and 700 miles driving. I was pretty tired but content i made the most of the situation. Here’s some pics.

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Despite my tiredness, training continued. Just a week later I had the 3 race weekend in a row. The Original Mountain Marathon. The OMM. A 2 day test of endurance, teamwork and mountain skills, held in some of the most remote locations at a time of year when conditions can be extremely challenging. The OMM was hard, beyond hard. The race was supposed to be just 65k over the 2 days. It’s a pairs event so i teamed up with runner and friend Gary. He has also ran The Marathon des Sables so we thought we’d be alright. His map skills are better than mine also. Needless to say it wasn’t enough.

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So another weekend and another drive up the country to Scotlands Glentrool on the west coast (not really coast, more like edge). We left Friday afternoon and it took us another 10 hours. We arrived around midnight, the designated car park was shut and we were ushered into a temporary spot. Pitched the tent in the rain and darkness, got a few hours kip, got our bags on, moved the car and began the hike to the start line. Yes the start line was 5km away. My bag was too heavy and it’s fair to say i was starting to think i had underestimated this race. We reached the start, were given our maps, way points, tracker and set off on day 1. This was a 27km course. 14 hours later, cold, tired and defeated we reached the finish of day 1. As you may notice 27km in 14 hours is pretty poor. Well the truth is, we didn’t cover the entire course, we got lost pretty early on and missed the last 3 check points. Not only did we miss these checkpoints, and were timed out, we managed to cover 60km. Over double the designed distance. To this day we still don’t know how we did that.

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It must be said Gary was in a much better position than me. my bag was way too heavy and i had made some very rookie mistakes with food too. I was holding Gary up for about 80% of the route. We abandoned day 2 and drove home in the morning after a few pity sausage sandwiches provided by the organisers. Although it was a complete disaster and we were rubbish it was actually quite fun. The pain and disappointment has warn off and we are signing up again next year. This time we won’t be attempting the A class. We’ll stick to something more navigationally simple.

Thanks Gary for a great weekend. Next time will be different.

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My trio of races of the first few weeks of October weren’t exactly as planned but non the less, some great weekends.

Here’s a few photos from some non running commitments throughout the last couple of months. My sponsor Pro Direct have been working with me for sometime, some great kit, events and photoshoots. Here’s what we did for one the many brands they offer through their online store. Falke.

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A good day, and great to meet a few other members of the pro direct crew and fellow runner Laura. If anyone wants a great winter jacket for the new year. Falke offers this.

Besides from running this year i’ve been putting a lot of effort into organising the next couple of years of events. Next year as previously mentioned there is a lot on. But 2018 is even bigger and even better. Watch this space

Check out my 2018 webpage for info. As part of 2018 I needed a long term nutrition sponsor to provide me with electrolytes, energy drinks, and all the essentials from running multiple races. I am fortunate enough to have secured High5 as my sole nutrition for the year. Thanks High5. If anyone is interested in some great products, be it running or other sports, check them out.

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My 24 hour treadmill challenge also took place recently. Mid November I thought it would be a good idea to stick myself in a hot gym, on one of the nicest days of the year, and run for 24 hours and see how far i could get. The main attraction for this was to test the non physical side of running, the mental toughness to continue when faced with boredom. I can confirm the boredom of running for 3 hours on a treadmill let along a whole day was going to be good practice for other mind challenging races. Needless to say it was boring.

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My aim was to reach 120 miles, which i did, and with relative ease. I had fantastic support. Nuffield gym, who also sponsor me and give me access to train let me use their gym as home for a day. I was joined by gym friends throughout the 24 hours, to keep me company, provide me drinks, keep me sane, and confirm i was actually there and running. Special thanks to Dani who stayed with me all night, unbelievable. And also to those who did a few hours with me overnight, coming in at 3am on a Friday morning was a big ask. We raised about £400 for Cancer Research and i learnt that running on a treadmill with another to watch other than the BBC news channel on mute wasn’t the brightest idea.

Here’s a few photos from my long 24 hours.

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Other than great races, photoshoots and sponsorships these last few months I have also had an interesting trip to Bangkok.

I signed up for the Bangkok marathon several months back and added it to the calendar as a last minute little extra treat to myself. I organised my friend Dani to come along with me, so we could make the most of a few days in Bangkok. Have a few days taking in the sights, take a few photos and run the race, and back home. We booked flights, sorted a hotel in the centre and we were set.

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Sadly shortly before the race Thailands King Bhumibol Adulyadej died. Due to the countries mourning policy the following 30 days would change the day to day running of Bangkok. This meant, you guessed it. The marathon was cancelled shortly before we flew out. With a non refundable hotel and non transferable flights there was little we could do. We had 5 days in Bangkok with no race. To say i was grumpy and disappointed was an understatement but the trip then turned into a sight seeing mini break. The trainers were hung up for 5 days and we went out an made the most of a bad situation.

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The first 3 days were fantastic… but in similar fashion to the last couple of months the trip didn’t go to plan. So at this point over the past 8 weeks, I had missed the start of a 200km race, i had got lost on the infamous OMM, and now just 2 days before flying home from Bangkok… I caught the Norovirus… I spent day 4 and 5 getting to know the hotel’s bathroom and toilet rather too intimately. I had 36 hours of vomiting and diarrhoea that left me feeling a skeleton of a man. Thanks once again to Dani for feeding me water, and pro biotic yogurts. Due to the fact that i was now very contagious, getting on a plane was out of the question. Not to mention the thought of spending a day on a plane feeling like i did. An additional 2 days in the hotel, i hardly left the confines of the cold bathroom tiles.

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Eventually time to go home, which felt like weeks. I had started to feel like i could eat… i was wrong. My body still wasn’t having any of it. Skip forward several visits to the bathroom on the plane and we landed back at Heathrow one step closer to my own bed. Now at 23:30 in London we waited for our bags at the luggage belt, we waited some more, waited some more, the belt stopped. After a 20 minute queue to see the airport staff it was confirmed my bag was still in Bangkok. Of several hundred passengers on that flight, my bag was one of 5 that couldn’t quite make it. What a trip. Started as an exciting 5 day trip to run a hot humid marathon and finished with a cold, sick, bagless mess.

Regardless of all these issues throughout the trip we had a blast, for a while anyway. The photo opportunities were great. Here’s a few.

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In summary October and November were great, highs and lows, but what a way to conclude the year. A huge thanks to all those that have supported me in any capacity. The donations, the hours or help with race prep, the sponsor deals… and the kind words of encouragement. Thank you.

December’s post will summarise in full.

Let’s have a quick look at next and what fun adventures are planned. Each year that passes i’ve managed to race more and more. Next year is no exception.

November started my 37 week programme to get me to the start line of my second world record attempt in Ireland. July next year will hopefully see me complete my challenge and finally hold the record.

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So that’s the training plans for the next 6 months. This will include a 3 week cycle of 1) hard hills and endurance, 2) medium endurance, 3) recovery. Each week the miles increase by 5. My Recovery week starts on 50 miles and the hard hills and endurance starts on 100… By the time i get to July i will have run the distance over and over again. My stamina should be higher than ever and i’ll be running around 300 miles a week.

November started strong despite the sickness of Bangkok. Here’s week 2’s overview from Strava to demonstrate a general gentle week.

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2017 events include Rome marathon, Lisbon marathon, Bournemouth Marathon, Paris Marathon, Paris Half Marathon, 8 smaller 10ks, and a selection of fun trail training events such as the CTS races in Britain. I’ll also be ticking off 3 of the Ultra Trail World Tour events including The great Australia 100 in the blue mountains, the epic and hilly Transgrancanaria, plus Italy’s Lavardo trail race. The calendar has 22 races so far… and the year hasn’t even started yet.

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Between now and January I’ll be skiing, climbing and training in the beautiful Canadian Rockies to round off the year. My January will kick off with a gentle training run from London to Paris. Me and a few friends will trot the 300k route from central London to the Eiffel Tower in 3 days, camping along the way. It’s only a matter of weeks away. Keep following me on twitter and Instagram for more updates.

Oh and finally it’s worth mentioning i’ve discovered a great website called Blurb who make photo books and magazines. I’ve been making some to highlight my trips, a great alternative to the conventional photo album and they make a good present too. I’ve just published my Bangkok mag and this year’s hell race, Marathon des Sables. I’m really pleased with how they look.

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Once again another post in a few weeks, probably while i’m in Canada exploring the sights.

Thanks for your support everyone… the next 2 years are going to be incredible.

Please Check Out My Website

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