Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Grimsthorpe 70

Pre Race

The last few days have been rather crazy to say the least.
As I was working the late shift last week I managed to swap a shift with a colleague which meant finishing work at 10:30pm on Wednesday and going back in at 6:30am on Thursday but with my son in law and running partner Paul Bennett turning up about 11:30 I managed to get about 4 hours sleep before the alarm went off at 5:00 o'clock.
Finishing work at 1:15pm I then dashed home, showered got something to eat, did some last minute kit checks and loaded the car before driving the 3 hour journey to the camp site near Bourne in Lincolnshire.
Sat-nav took us strait in and within no time we had the tent up tea brewed and dinner on the stove.
Now it was time to call home and report in. my wives first words were why didn't you take that new sleeping mat I just bought you? What? Why have you left your air mattress at home? Things could only go down hill from here.
Dinner out of the way and a couple more cups of tea later, the light was fading and it was time to turn in and relax before the god only knew what the following day. Have you ever tried sleeping in a sleeping bag with nothing below you except a very thin ground sheet? (Not recommended believe me). Apart from that I had no pillow so was relying on my kit bag for some kind of comfort. Well, by morning I had had about 3 hours of broken sleep and with the lack of sleep the night before things were just not looking good.
Cup of tea, tent packed away and we were in the car and on our way to Grimsthorpe Castle which was only about 8 miles away.
After registering we got the smaller 2 man tent put up to hold the kit that we would need during the the event.
I ate a pot of cold Italian style pasta while we listened to the race briefing at 8:00 o'clock then tried to chill out for while before making our way down to the start line for 9:00 o'clock.

The Race
All lap times include stoppage time at the main check point as the next lap time started as the runner was checked in.

The route itself was a 10 mile course consisting of 7 laps and after a quick good luck message for Keith the organizer, the horn blew and we were away.
(The 105 mile runners had to follow Keith who was driving his 4x4 for a short 5 mile loop before joining the rest of us on the 10 mile course).
Me and Paul set off with the intention of running at least one full lap so settling down to what we thought was a decent pace a ran about two thirds of the way down the pack at a pace of just over 5mph and we were going out on the second lap after just 1hr 55min.
We then discussed slowing down a little and decided to run the easy sections and walk the hills but Paul got carried away a little and after I had a nature stop I never saw him again until later on in the race.
Now we were both running our own races which were mostly with ourselves rather than the other runners so I settled into a steady run with brisk walks up the hills for the next couple of laps.
The second lap was done in 2hrs 9min so still not bad considering the amount of walking and the third one was covered in 2hrs 48min and but that included a short pit stop back at the main checkpoint. (Start/Finish line).
Pit stops after each lap were the norm now to top up water and take on extra energy foods etc and the following lap was covered a little faster in 2hrs 42min.
It was 18.37 when I came in on lap 4 and as it was raining I decided to change into some warmer clothing and but mu Montane featherlite jacket on to keep dry and as this took up extra time, lap 5 was done in 3hrs 14min but the time wasn't helped by the fact that I was now starting to feel a pain in the side of my left knee which was enough to make me limp al little.
Even so, the fact that I had covered 50 miles in a little under 13 hours put me on course for getting the 70 miles done in under 20 hours which was the goal I had in my head.
Going out on lap 6, I was feeling a little apprehensive about using the head torch bur after about a mile the pain started to get stronger in my knee and not long after it had really slowed me down to a stupid limp which meant a slow walk for the rest of the lap. The pain wasn't helped by the fact that a lot of the course was over limestone trails and grass so dropping into potholes and kicking clumps of grass in the dark all added to the pain.
Not only was it slow going but because of this I was not going fast enough to produce any body heat and there was times when I shivering uncontrollably and felt that hypothermia might have been kicking in.
That was definitely the worst lap of the event and every runner that passed me asked if I was ok. “Yes I'm ok but I'll sort my knee out when I get back to the checkpoint”.
About ½ mile before the end of the lap a voice familiar voice came from behind.
Kev, is that you? Paul had just turned up and was about to finish his last lap but looked about as good as I did and suffering from the same knee problem. He asked if I'd be ok on my own as he wanted to carry on and get finished so I told him to carry on and not wory about me.
Just before I got back to the check point another runner came past and after the same questions I told him I was about to call it a day.
No, you can't do that, you only have 10- miles to go. You can't give up now”.
That whole lap took 4hrs 9min to complete and really felt like giving up.
Coming into the checkpoint at 2:06am I went straight into the main tent for some physiotherapy on the knee.
During the massage I was informed that I had a tight IT band that was giving me the problem and that there was a cream available that would help me to carry on but with me still feeling the cold I said I was going to climb into my sleeping bag for a while to get warm so would go back and get some when I went back out.
Still shivering I crawled into the tent, struggled into the sleeping bag and crashed out but woke every now and then by the pain in my leg. Not only that, Paul as now in his bag and struggling to cope with cramp in his legs.
(I hate to think what people thought about all the groaning noises coming out of that tent at three in the morning).
I woke at 6:00 to the tent shaking in the wind and rain bouncing of the thin material and really didn't want to go back out and do that last 10 miles and I was still ready to call it all off until I finally came to my senses nudged Paul and told him I was going out to finish the job. Your crazy, your bonkers was about all I got out of him except please don't fall on my legs on the way out. (Bloody wuss).
I went to the main tent at 6:30 to let them know I was going back onto the course but couldn't find anyone from physio to sort my knee out. In fact it didn't feel too bad so I hit the course running for a while but soon felt the pain coming back on while running the downhill sections and after a couple of short attempts I decided to stick to a brisk walk. Half way round it was time for breakfast which included jelly babies and a bottle Gatorade.
“Man” I was imagining what each of them babies were and came up with a great game. The yellow ones were egg flavoured with the red ones being bacon. Orange was beans and white ones were mushrooms. But the real treat was black. “Black pudding). Wow, did they taste good.
And what about that Gatorade? That was the best cup of coffee I have ever had.
Breakfast out of the way and it was now time to kill this lap and go home.
About 3 miles from the finish I passed Ria Bright who also looked in a bad way but she assured me she was ok so I carried on but after about 100mts I looked back to see her on her knees with her head on the ground. After returning to check her out she again told me she was ok but just trying to get a couple of minutes sleep. (That's one hell of a way to sleep Ria).
3 hours and 6 minutes after starting that last lap it was all over.
Job done! Mission accomplished! Call it what you like but this guy has just completed a 70 mile ultramarathon at the age of 58 after just 18 months of running.

Post Race

My race was finally over at 9:36am and it felt like a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
One thing that kept me going and got me back out of that sleeping bag was the thought of all the people that had sponsored me for the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.
I am convinced that the kit I was wearing also gave me the edge. I wore Skins ¾ length compression tights for the day run and changed into the full length ones for the colder night time run. I know I suffered from stiff upper limbs and a tight IT band but without these tights things could possibly have been a lot worse.
As for the footwear, I was wearing Salomon XR Crossmax trail shoes with a pair of More Mile London socks. I can honestly say that I have never had one blister during or after the event even though a lot of the later stages meant running through wet grass. Because of the lack of blisters I was reluctant to change either the shoes or the socks thinking that this idea could have been a bad move.
In fact the only thing I change before leaving Grimsthorpe was my footwear choosing a pair of Clarks slip ons for the drive home. The Skins were left on to aid muscle recovery which I think worked as I recovered a lot quicker than Paul did.
Between the two of us we must have put on a great performance while trying to take the tent down as we both had trouble getting down to pull the pegs out and fold the tent up.
After some effort the tent was just scrunched up and thrown into the car boot with the rest of the gear thrown in any old how.
A few photos later and goodbyes said to the few remaining people on site and we were on our way home but first we had to stop and have some real food rather than pasta, gels, jelly babies or electrolytes. With us both now having well over 24 hours of sweat stuck to our bodies we didn't fancy eating in a cafe so decided on a McDonalds. [I know] not real food but at least this time it just tasted great and kept us going until we got home.
On over three hours in the car we finally got home but it wasn't easy getting out of the car or walking to the house which gave some of the locals a bit of bit of a laugh.
Once in the house it wasn't long before some weird and wonderful smells were wafting about and I was told in uncertain terms to get them socks in the garden and leave them there.
I had three cans of lager that night and went to bed at 9:15, fell strait to sleep and never even heard the five Grandchildren playing outside the bedroom door.

It is now Tuesday and I have been back at work for couple of days and things are starting to improve. The legs have no stiffness but my knee is still sore a little after I have been sat for a while. The lack of sleep is now starting to catch up and this morning was the worst morning for getting out of bed as I have to get up at 5:15 to be at work for 6:00. I think this morning was even harder than getting out of the sleeping bag on Saturday to do another 10 miles.

That's about it then but I would like to thank Fat Feet  who organised such a great event. The marshals also need mentioning as they were great and couldn't do enough for you when returning to camp after every lap. They were very friendly, helpful and full of encouragement.

Another mention should go to Liz Tucker and her colleague (sorry, can't remember his name) from 9 Bar who produce some great tasting, nutritious energy bars and who were sponsors at the event and were handing out energy bars for most of the race. and they were still there to see the final runners coming in. During the race Liz was giving me a lot of moral support as well as motivation and I thank her very much for that. 

 Sprint finish for the cameras (all of about 5 mph)

Photo shoot with Sarah L Hutton on the left (One of the 105 mile runners) and Ria Bright (centre) 

This is the wages for over 24 hours hard work


  1. You did a great job Kevin, I have been there and sometimes one feels like just staying in the sleeping bag. But you didn't, you got up and soldiered on. You should be immensely proud of yourself. I am thinking of running the 105 over there next year.

  2. LOVE the pictures! You did so well! Do you know what caused the knee issues?

  3. Suza@ While I was on the bench getting the massage, the guy said it was down to a tight IT band. I Googled it and found that this band runs from the hip down past the knee and can suffer from friction after intensive exercise such as endurance events.