It’s Grim Down South

Forgive me bloggers for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since I last got off my fat arse and moved faster than a shuffle. I was suffering from infectious slobitis and generalised exam anxiety, but that is over now and today I paid a big price for my excessive slothfulness. Sitting here shattered and barely able to string a coherent sentence together, I would say that penance has definitely been paid.

Three of us (OGB, Tanya and myself) found ourselves huddled round a pint of beer last night, escaping from the torrential rain and trying to determine whose crazy idea it was to enter an 8 mile mudfest in December.


We weren’t a great deal wiser this morning as we brushed sleep from our eyes and tried to follow the signs to a place called Grim.

We were damn lucky with the weather but by heck it was freezing. We all lined up at the portaloos and sat in adjacent cabins just to keep warm before the race – I’ve got over my earlier toilet phobia.

As Tanya was a complete race virgin we decided to run this event as a team, attempting to stick together through thick and thin.


This proved to be a bit of life-saver for me but was probably jolly tiresome for the other two. Poor ole OGB had to resort to a peculiar bouncing action with occasional stints of running on the spot so he could slow himself down to my pace.

At “The Ravine”, the competitors were forced into single file to enter the first area of flowing water and I was grateful for the 10 minute hold up so I could get a breather and try and stick with the clan for a bit longer when we set off again. Unfortunately I took a stumble at the bottom and ended up in freezing water up to my waist – wet pants kinda slow me down.

Wet but happy

The next obstacle was a scramble net leading directly into a gloopy expanse of potters clay. I seemed to take the gloopiest route and immediately fell to my knees as the clay grabbed me by the legs and refused to relinquish its grip as the rest of me attempted to move forwards. I dislodged one leg and slung it to the right where I felt I’d reach firmer ground. I ended up stuck again but this time in a semi-splits stance which proved rather uncomfortable and almost impossible to escape from. Thankfully Tanya and OGB were within yelling distance and they came back to assist. Tanya scrabbled around digging the clay from around my foot and OGB just yanked wildly. I managed to lever myself up by applying pressure to his shoulder. Just sufficient pressure to force him upto his knees in the same trap and yet still ensure my escape. I stormed off, trying to get another headstart while they strained to free each other.

I got my cummupence pretty quickly as a root shot out from nowhere and threw me into a commando roll. I landed on my feet eventually but they had already regained the lead.


The whole 8 miles was a relentless cycling of cold ponds, cold swamps and cold clay traps. Freezing, one could even say horrendous and yet it was all strangely invigorating. Who hasn’t wanted to don wellies and jump slap bang in the middle of the biggest puddle recently?

I did have rotten stomach cramps today though and I’m not sure that cold water immersion will ever take over the more usual hot water bottle and chocolate remedy.

We were still smiling at the end, chuffed to bits with our t-shirts and already planning our next mudfest – Hellrunner anybody?


Here’s the crazy route if you can make head or tail of it. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, I just felt like we’d been put in washing machine and spun around:

Grim 8 at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

My time was 2:09, the other two came in a little before me as I released them for the last mile. Excellent first race Tanya, you’ll have a whopping pb here next year!

First Last

Richmond Park Time Trial

Finally the time trial bandwagon arrived in Richmond Park and I was there to “enjoy” the inaugural event. What a gorgeous day! Freezin, crisp, but absolutely beautiful, I’ve had to nick a couple of photos off the parkrun site to illustrate the morning and save me going all poetic. I think Paul S-H was the photographer for the day.

With only 42 runners in the field it was not too surprising that I found myself alone for most of the route. Still, when you run in a park this stunning, who needs company?


By all accounts this is a tough time trial and folk look to be recording times in the region of 40 secs + on their Bushy Park pb’s, although I imagine this gap will narrow as the route becomes more familiar. Its a hilly route but the scenery takes your mind off a lot of the pain, or at least thats what I felt after I’d finished – before I finished I’m sure I was cursing 5k time trials.

Anyway, back to the title of this post, whatdya know, I was last. Dead last. A first for me but I’m sure it will become a regular Saturday morning ocurrance for a while. It was all perfectly enjoyable as well, a whole load of the early finishers had hung around the end and gave me a good cheer over the finish line – thanks guys.

RPTT 1: 5 km, 0:35:24

As update to last weeks reccy, I can now post the “official” route map:

Richmond Park Time Trial at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

Gyro 10k

Isn’t it lovely when the powers that be decide to organise a running event slap bang on your doorstep? I was still luxiariating in my bubble bath as registration was opening, which has got to beat bouncing up and down with a fitness first instructor as a way to warm up…… mmmm let me see….. aerobics or radox muscle soak?

The start of the race was tucked away across Barnes Bridge in the well hidden Civil Service sports club. I arrived and immediately started worrying about my inevitable back of the pack placing. This was a small race, maybe 240 which doesn’t bode well for company in the longer distance races, not that I’m fussed about being last as such, but I would rather not finish 30 mins after the rest of the pack.

Gyro 10k

So, I started the race bringing up the rear and held onto that coveted spot right the way to first km marker where our first run/walker showed her strategy. I passed her, which immediately triggered a 10 second comeback, she passed me and stopped to walk again less than 5 metres in front of me, so I passed her again, she put on a little spurt and fell back to a walk about 4 metres in front of me. Now, I have nothing against run/walk as a race strategy but it does wind me up quite a bit to be someone’s repeated trigger, can’t you use a tree or a lamppost? I was wondering if I could possibly handle this too and froing for the next 9km but she never made another comeback after the 5th passing. The first psychological battle was won but now I had to worry that she’d actually quit the race, she can’t quit or I’ll be back to last place again!

I had an atrocious run last night, a planned 5k route that degenerated into a 1k run and 2.5k sulky walk, so I wasn’t sure what to hope for today. I set my garmin virtual partner for a 75 min target but at every check I seemed to be gaining distance on my plan. It took me about 10 mins of mental arithmetic to work out that I was actually on target for time close to my pb – 72 mins and something. I couldn’t remember what that something part was though and anyway I had my garmin set up so that I couldn’t read the seconds after it ticked past the hour.

In the latter half of the run I managed to pass a few more runners who had dropped right off their original pace and I crossed the line in 72 mins and something, I just had to wait for the official results to see if a pb was recorded.

gyro 10k

Triathlon World Championships Hamburg

It was a pretty good event, all the entry fee went towards Sport Aid, the t-shirt wasn’t too bad and they had a bbq at the end – a bbq with beer no less. Talking of beer, I caught the highlights of the world championship triathlon held in Hamburg, did anyone else see the huge glasses of beer the podium winners were given? There must have been about 10 yards of ale in those buckets.

Oh yeah, and they had chip timing, with the results piped down the phone line within 2hrs of finishing.
Official time: 1:12:23
11 flippin secs short of my pb and I could have had those 11 seconds if I’d been a bit more organised.

SportsAid Gyro 10k at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

GNR Weekly summary Wk 7/10

Mon: nowt
Tue: nowt
Wed: 42 km bike
Thur: 42 km bike
Fri: 5 km run
Sat: 3.5 km run/walk disaster
Sun: 10 km run (race)

Bluewater 10k – What No Cows?

It was a less than an auspicious start to my East London running debut. I took the carb loading to a whole new extreme and I was still bulging at the seams when I was dragged from my bed this morning at 6am.

Knowing that it was a ridiculously early start I had travelled over to OGB’s last night, so we were practically on the race doorstep. Before leaving my house though I polished off the left over pasta for my tea, and then on arriving at his folks house I discovered that I’d been included in the family dinner arrangements and there was a whopping great plate of chicken curry waiting for me. Well it was all jolly nice but I have to say I struggled to get that plate clean! From there it was on to the pub where for probably the first time in my life I was unable to finish a pint of Stella. Absolutely bursting.


As I couldn’t drink, it seemed that the next best thing was to start an argument. I chose East London and the complete absense of wild life as a starter. Firstly, my companiable Bexley Heathian drinking buddies took offence at being called East Londoners, it seems that despite being to the most right of London I’d ever been I was still not in East London! Goodness knows where this strange land is. Secondly, one bloke put up a good fight for the existence of a few cows in a field somewhere to the left of an unlit snicket. On further cross examination it appears that the said cows all had brightly coloured caravans attached to them and it was deemed that these cows fell into the species of “gypsy ponies”. Case closed, no wildlife existed and I got to go home and quietly explode.

Race day dawned and as OGB was still smarting from his unexpected bike ride to Bushy Park yesterday, he attempted to punish me by making me run behind the car as he drove to the shopping precinct – oh how I laughed!

As is usual for the start of race events we were both in a jolly foul mood and wondering who we could blame for the race entry, running and probably even life in general. On arriving at the Bluewater shopping centre I found another grievance, I needed someone to blame for building the mall and therefore the start of the race at the foot of a flipping great chalk pit. We were surrounded by cliffs and it was clear that this flat (as advertised) race was going to involve some serious climbing.

I’m going to struggle to keep expletives out of this post, those XXXXXXX hills were absolute XXXXXXXXX monsters!


We had runners dropping to walking on that very first incline, still within ear shot of the rabble rousing, horn tooting, starter man whatever his official name is. Now I don’t have a problem with walkers per se but it still continues to wind me up no end that these same walkers seem to stick with me throughout the race and on many occassions beat me soundly at the finish. There ought to be a law against walking and still beating me! As it happens its not solely a back of the pack predicament, OGB had exactly the same problem 21 minutes up the field as he was trounced by an “elderly” hill walker.

As can be seen by the elevation profile, kindly supplied by Dom, the first half was pure evil interspersed with some joyful, head over heels, crazy downhill sections. As I am now a veteran fell runner (ahem) I made the most of these sprint sections, and there was one particularly vicious switchback downhiller at 3.4k which I careered down at break neck speed overtaking about 15 in the break away group. Its one of those occasions where momentum favours the fat, trouble is the downhill soon turned into an uphill and the moment I turned that corner someone slung my 5 stone coat of lard back on me and I came screeching to a near standstill. Tis a bugger that I have a head craving speed yet a body designed for lethargy.

Second half was fairly flatish, it was along some motorway, possibly the M25 but then maybe not as they’d managed to close it for the occasion. I was afforded a little extra joy at the end as there was another smashing downhiller back into the chalk pit and across the finish line. Managed to pick off another bunch of pesky run/walkers on my best ever sprint finish. Overall time was still a bit pants though, but what do you expect when you have two pre-race dinners?

SheRunsHeRuns Bluewater 10k at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

SheRunsHeRuns Bluewater 10k 1:16:04

Great organisation and good marshalls but its only going to appeal to the car owner as there are no baggage drops and its too early for public transport. Bonuses were ashtray sized medals and a dinky little lego brick for the kids. I wish I got a lego brick, but I won’t moan as I did get a pot noodle which made me very happy as I like pot noodles but I never buy them because they are the meals of pikeys just as kebabs are, and I never buy those either.

Lanterne Rouge

The day dawned excessively early as Shakti and I were off to the Trailblazers event in the South Downs, Shakti was booked in for the 4 mile walk and I had opted for the 6 mile trail run. We both like to arrive places early so with each of us allowing for emergencies we arrived 2 hours too soon. We had a minor row on the way down as I made Shakti circumnavigate a roundabout a few times while I eenymeenyminymoed about which exit I was going to choose – the wrong one as it happened. She unreasonably questioned why someone would have no less than 3 GPS enabled gadgets and not actually use any of them.

No need to stress though, we were hardly threatening to miss the start. I had plenty of time to reassess my initial understanding of the phrase “Trail run”. When I signed up I was thinking trail = muddy, which I thought would be fun, when I arrived I was reminded of the alternative translation, trail = f’kin hills! Not quite so much fun.


It was a little tricky to find the start at this early hour, I spotted a group of women walking along a ridge and strode after them assuming them to be the running sisters of the Brighton and Hove Running Sisters fame. Shakti held me back and insisted on asking a passing Gurkha for directions. Turns out the women were doing Trailwalker. Sounds similar enough to Trailblazer but in practice it would have meant a difference of 90 km and more than 24 hrs. Lucky escape methinks.

Trailblazers at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks


The route was wonderful, it started with a cobbley incline but soon enough turned into a delightful downhill run on lush grass. This coincided with a great tune on my guest playlist – Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson and I am now convinced that Country music hits the spot for trail running. I was bounding along and felt like leaping in the air clicking my heels together. The spirit of Judy Garland obviously inhabited me for a moment.

Trailblazers running

Trouble with downhills is that they are too often replaced by uphills and the music changed to a very freaky song with lyrics along the line of “BannanaTerracotta” and knocked me out of my heel tapping mood. The next descent was steep. I’ve read fell running books and know to relax into the gradient but I very rapidly became a very rapid, out of control orange blur. I think I scared a number of exhausted Trailwalkers who must have thought they were going to be engulfed by a tango rhino. My thighs are going to make me suffer tomorrow.


I lost sight of all running bodies in death valley, not really the place to be abandoned and I had to climb the punishing Snake weaving in and out of the poor Trailwalking souls. They had covered about 90km by this stage and had been walking for more than 28 hrs which put my pain into perspective a bit and encouraged me to keep trogging up the hill.

I finally came in to the heroes welcome reserved only for the last runner plus a bit of jibing from Shakti who was basking in her second place in the walkers “race”. Unlike the race organisers, I knew there was one more runner out there – we had been battling for the back of the starting group before the gun. She has run every single Trailblazer event so I knew that regardless of how slow she seemed, she’d be steady and well aware of the challenges of the course. She would definately be finishing!

She crossed the line maybe 10 mins later, stealing the legitamcy of my blog title. Still, I believe in artistic licence and we are still in the TdF season so Lanterne Rouge is staying.
Great run, well organised, super friendly marshalls and its not often you get cheered on by Gurkhas.

20 Km Route – Kew & Putney Bridge Eight

This long figure of 8 loop, is another flat, largely traffic free, riverside run, that forms an extended version of Boat race run. You could start this pretty much anywhere, with Barnes Bridge or Hammersmith being the most obvious points to join.

If you start at Barnes, take the river trail from Barnes Bridge, along the southside of the Thames, passing the brewery at Mortlake just before heading under Chiswick Bridge and along to Kew.

At Kew Bridge you cross the river and then pass down to the north side of the Thames and continue along Strand on the Green. When you get to Chiswick Bridge, drop down the steps, pass the rowing school and follow the river path all the way back to Barnes Bridge

Cross at Barnes Bridge, back onto the south bank and run along the river towards Hammersmith Bridge.

Continue running under Hammersmith Bridge, along the river trail to Putney Bridge. Cross here and head back along the north side, through Fulham Palace gardens and head back towards Hammersmith Bridge. Carry on through Furnival gardens and along the swanky Chiswick riverside streets, finishing back at Barnes Bridge

Kew to Putney Bridge Round at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

3.5 Km Route – Chiswick Bridge and Barnes Bridge Round

As with all the Thames running routes, this is a flat course (apart from climbing the steps to each bridge) and includes a really nice scenic stretch.

My particular favourite view is taken just after Barnes Bridge as you run by the The Ship pub on the way towards Chiswick Bridge, its a little industrial for some, but I love the view of the brewery and its reflection cast in the river.

With this being a circular route, you can start it wherever you like. Barnes Bridge is as good a point as any though, and has useful transport links – use either the mainline train or bus numbers 419 or 209 from Hammersmith. Quite a few good pubs in the vicinity as well, if you like to reward yourself after a run.

The satellite image, just about demonstrates that there is a clear footpath all the way around the river route, so there isn’t really any option to get lost.

Map created by EveryTrail: GPS Travel Community

This is the shortest route on the list but it is a good staple run and very easily extended, it forms part of the larger runs such as the 8.1 km Kew & Barnes Bridge Round and the 10 km Chiswick and Hammersmith Eight.

Running with Everytrail

I’m still intent on running home once a week, so today I repeated the exact same running route as last week. I again finished the 10k distance in 1hr 20mins, and was strangely within 15 seconds of my previous time.

Given that it was direct replay of last weeks route, there isn’t much point me repeating the sporttracks image. Instead I’ve used it as an excuse to introduce my new discovery – I first came across this on The Trail Runners blog which is certainly worth a read.

Everytrail allows you to upload your running tracks directly from your GPS unit, add waymarks and photos and provides a really simple way to share the route as an iframe on your blog. Non of this is all that new really but I’m particularly happy that I can also directly upload the gpx file. This means I can plot out a route on memory map and upload it without actually having to cover the course with my garmin. I used this feature when I needed to plot my friends planned commute. I was able to stick it on the web for him to peruse at work and determine whether it was a manageable distance.

If you use another mapping package that saves the routes in an alternative format (eg tracklogs), you might want to try out GPSBabel which is a free tool for converting routes into the gpx format.