The South West Outdoor Festival, organised by the National Trust, took place in the Heddon Valley of Exmoor from the 23rd to the 25th September. The aim of the event was to provide an action packed weekend of camping and outdoor activities for people of all ages. Through doing this it would promote the area and the fun to be had being active and enjoying the great outdoors. Continue reading
I’ve done it, total success! I can now proudly call myself a marathon runner! It still doesn’t seem real. It was less than a year ago I lined up for my first 10km race and the thought of me running a marathon seemed like such a distant dream, something only ‘real’ runners could do and an almost impossible distance for me to achieve. Now, with a little bit of determination and a lot of hard work training I have done it. Best of all I even enjoyed the experience!
Sunday 21st August saw me tackle the notoriously hilly original race organised by Pure Trail …… The Dartmoor Volcano. This was a 10.25 mile route starting and finishing in the village of Scorriton that included the highest point of southern Dartmoor, Ryders hill as well as Snowden and Pupers hill before hitting the ‘Volcano’. This is in fact just a spoil heap, the remains of Red Lake china clay works abandoned in 1933. It does however make an impressive target on the horizon to aim for and some great pictures! With almost 500 metres of ascent in not a huge distance you sure do notice that you’ve done some climbing.
Butterflies having a party in your stomach, feeling nauseous, an inability to eat or even sit still. Frustratingly can’t sleep, can’t think straight and that ever present frown on your face. Doesn’t sound like fun does it? Yet racing is meant to be fun, that’s the whole point isn’t it? That’s the focal point of your hobby!
Nerves can put a real dampener on race day. I know this from my own struggle with them, one I am still battling now. Whilst some people seem to be immune from this issue, most of us will at least feel a little nervous, especially as we come to line up at the start line. This is an inevitable result of all the hard work and preparation that’s gone into being ready for that moment, it’s also a sign of a desire to do well. It is only when these nerves get to such a level that they detract from your performance and enjoyment of the day that they become a problem.
On Saturday 23rd July I took part in my second Half Marathon ‘The Great Escape’ which was organised by Pure Trail. This was to be a linear route on Dartmoor starting from Princetown heading off across open moorland to South Brent on the edge of the National Park. This was one part of Pure Trails first ‘Big Day Out’ as they were also running an Ultramarathon of 34 miles called ‘The Crossing’ which had runners traversing the entire moor from north to south – Belstone to South Brent. The Half marathon was definitely a big enough challenge for me at this stage!
Lately I have found myself spending increasing amounts of time trawling through endless fitness websites. With a half marathon next weekend and the big aim – my first marathon, looming ever more present on the horizon I have been searching for advice on the right way to increase my training programme. I had been hoping more knowledge would work to stem the panic but infact the more I read the more confused I became and the more inadequate my own training efforts felt. It was all aerobic/anaerobic/lactate thresholds, VO2max intervals, protein shakes, measuring your heart rate, counting your steps and having a target pace for every mile you ever run.
It was all so far from everything I enjoy about exercising.Continue reading
The morning of race day dawned with perfect clear blue skies and the most stunning drive up through Wales into the Brecon Beacons to find the quaint little village of Talybont-on-usk. The event organisers Trailevents had picked a great location here with all the facilities you could need all within easy walking distance. There was a small shop, cafe, 4 pubs, toilets in the village hall registration area and the campsite where we parked for a small fee of £5 also included a proper toilet block with hot showers – massive bonus!
The only thing marring this perfect morning was the return of the dreaded chronic nerves. I thought I had started to get them under control last weekend but they seemed to be back in full swing that morning. I’m putting it down to the race being over a much longer distance than my previous ones and only having ever run that distance once in training. I’m also beginning to learn, much to my own self denial, that I am quite a competitive soul so to just finish is not good enough for me, I have to do respectably well in my own eyes.
The dramatic scenery of the Exmoor national park coast certainly lived up to all the hype at the Endurancelife organised Coastal Trail series race on Saturday 9th April. It was the perfect opportunity for me to put my personal resolution NOT to get so stressed about it being a race into practice. Instead I wanted to enjoy this opportunity to run in a new place on a course chosen specifically to showcase the best that area has to offer. This race certainly did that with views so stunning it raised a new problem of trying to take it all in whilst keeping at least some focus on foot placement. The narrow little path hugging the cliff face that we were following didn’t leave much room for error!
How many times as a runner have you come across the incomprehension of non-runners upon announcing your intention to head out for a long run or intervals session. They screw their face up tight, frown and bark out WHY??? Or better yet come out with the cocky “Where’s the lion?” Coach Kevin Smith has the perfect response –
“People ask why I run. I say if you have to ask you will never understand. It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain but deep down know how good it feels.”
I am willing to bet that almost all of the readers of this blog will have at some point benefitted from the kindness of volunteers. They fill a vital role in the running of every event we all enjoy so much yet do we take them for granted? I have recently been unable to participate in a couple of my planned trail running races due to injury so I took the opportunity to gain a different perspective and volunteered instead.
I felt volunteering would be a worthwhile way to combat my initial frustration at being out of action. It gave me a way to still be involved in the excitement of race day and meet other like minded individuals that share my love of running.
Proceedings at the start line of the Hameldown Hammer were supervised by chief marshall – Mrs Ewe