Category Archives: Ultra Marathon

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#68 Race to the Kings: Karaoke Ultra Challenge: Complacency Hurts (Part 2)

So from the previous post, 6 verses were accepted out of the 10 submitted. A bit harsh on Morning Has Broken, but have to accept the rules.

My Polar Buddy used to drill into me “If there is a problem, sort it sooner than later to circumvent any future issues.”

So onwards to checkpoint 2 (CP2). Here’s the first song after CP1.

“Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics: Accepted as first verse was sung correctly

During this part of the journey, stones had been rolling in and wedging themselves between my right foot and the sole of my sandal but they would also roll out.  It seemed strange there were so many. I ignored the warning dull sensation and sometimes over-pronated my landing to avoid landing directly on a stone under the ball of my foot. There was always a song to sing to divert a pain.

“Take A Chance On Me” by ABBA – Accepted as words to first verse were correct.

As time went on, the underfoot jabs began to intensify.  I stopped several times to wipe the underside of my foot. Then, took my sock off believing there to be something stuck in the sock. I believed this helped, but in truth did nothing. There was a small callus on the ball of the foot, so thought this was actually the issue and would fix this at CP2. Though I did think it strange that the stones kept rolling under my right foot,  I continued to over-pronate for some miles believing it would only be for a short while. In that “short while” a hip flexor niggle began to surface. Of course another song was due and Alison and Nicky came to my aid to provide another short distraction from my own discomfort.

“Ging Gang Goolie” a Camp Fire Song with Alison and Nicky: Accepted as TL corrected words when fluffed!

I continued over-pronating believing everything would be fine, just wanting to get to CP2, but complacency is a fool’s symptom. I would complete about 9km landing in a way that was untrained.

The hip flexor niggle became sore. The Tyre Lady hobbled into CP2.

Whilst talking through the situation with one of the participants (Craig), I took off my shoe and found there was no foot pain when stepping on the soft grass.

The pennies fell out of the sky. Embedded in the under-sole of the sandal was a stone that had an evil sharp edge that had pierced the top of the sole. Though Craig took out his big blade, I managed to womanly handle my sandal and prised out the stone. I handed the knife edged stone to Craig and his buddy to admire and immediately went over to the medic tent. There, my sandal was patched with KT tape. However the fix might have come too late…But a song was due.

HoleyShoe

At Checkpoint 2: “I’m Gonna Be” dedicated to John Lennon – a Parkrun buddy. First verse accepted.

…although Ian said he wouldn’t join me, he really did want to join in 🙂 That was him whistling in the back ground at the end.

Thank you to everyone at CP2 and Alison, Nicky and friend for completing I’m Gonna Be.

So 4/4 songs accepted which brings the total to 10 songs by CP2.

Next post: Onwards to CP3 and paying the price of a school girl error

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#68 Race to the Kings: Karaoke Ultra Challenge: Verifying Start to Check Point 1 (Part 1)

Event Type: 53.5 mile trail ultra following the South Downs Way with a couple of miles on the main road.
Start Time:
Depends on how fast you said you would complete. (Between 08:00-08:45)
Weather: Between @ 16 degs C to 19 degs C. Some showers and lots of wind
Checkpoints: Well stocked with all sorts of food & drink, with porta-loos,
Mid-Point: Check out the cake buffet, then the pasta and pizza buffets. Massages, Beer, Hot showers 🙂

During: Professional pictures taken were streamed live to your Facebook profile via Pic2Go if you had subscribed.
At the End: Medal + food to eat

Website:http://www.racetotheking.com/

Overview: This event is like going on a long haul 20 hour flight in Business Class

StartPhoto

uk.virginmoneygiving.com/TyreLady

About EarthWatch: Many diseases like cancer, asthma, eczema, etc are linked to the way we treat and live within our environment. Our sustainability practices are key to our well being and to live in harmony with our environment. EarthWatch funds scientists to assess and monitor our impact on the world, as well as to establish sustainable practices that we can implement in the way we process our world such as in fishing, farming and transportation.

Sing at least 53 complete verses from 53 songs over 53 miles.

  • Evidence must be produced in the form of a video recording of each song + words.
  • A chorus is not counted as a verse unless it really is a verse within the song. An email was sent to the organisers to confirm the challenge would take place.

 

Below are the first 10 video submissions that have been verified and counted. All videos can be found on YouTube with words to verify the verse sung. Warning: lots of heavy breathing.

Disallowed: Tyre Lady did not complete a verse, letting Patrick and his team do all the singing.

Disallowed: As the intention was to sing the correct words, the last line was incorrectly sung.

Anyhoo thank you team Pom-Orange for trying to help 🙂

Accepted as one complete verse was correctly sung

Easy acceptance by the panel: Song dedicated to Kalpa’s daughter Jill who celebrated her first birthday on 24th June. Thanks Stuart for celebrating.

Disallowed: Chorus only and incomplete. Thank you Gary…..ya got away 😉

This song is from the TV show, The Big Bang and is dedicated to 2 great friends Sharon and Jessica who helped me learn these lyrics two nights before race day. The operatic version is dedicated to Claire from “The Stables” in Fontwell, Chichester.

Thank you to Holly, Sue and Lana for lending your operatic voices.

This one is a close call. The panel gave the benefit of the doubt and has allowed this as a verse.

Thank you to Ellen and Liza

An easy acceptance by the panel. Thank you everyone that was at check point 1

An easy acceptance by the panel. Thank you to Anna and Edward

So from the first submitted 10 songs, the panel have allowed 6 out of the 10 songs to be counted towards the final count. Do the public think this is fair? If TL does not complete 53 verses from 53 songs, the event will be a DNF (Did Not Finish).

Part 2 coming up: Onwards to Check Point 2

 

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53 Verses 53 Songs 53 Miles

My main enjoyment for running over a period of time is for: the meditative part of the run; to battle and resolve the daily challenges of living; to observe one’s own surroundings; and on a trail: to allow one’s senses to dance with nature. By the end of a marathon or ultra there is a thorough feeling of well being….

RunnersGotTalent

Yes, easily persuaded when you are tweeting nonsense to Stuart, who is an amazing positive person and a fantastic human being. Yes easy to get caught up in the moment and then boom a challenge results.

With Stuart’s encouragement, I wrote to the Race to the Kings organisation (a 53 mile event) telling them I was going to do this singing challenge “53 verses from 53 songs in 53 miles”, to cement my commitment. Additionally said DNF me if am unable to complete 53 verses and will produce video evidence.

Completing 53 miles with a tyre over the South Downs is going to be hard enough in the current heat wave we are experiencing (35-35 degs celcius) so what fool world was I in? Just to really really ensure I did not back out, I sent another email to EarthWatch to cement that commitment that I will be singing to raise funds for the:

…as well as on social media to tell the world my intention.

The truth is, I do like to belt out the odd ballard on a run to occupy my mind. This is normally somewhere in the middle of the event distance, for a couple of minutes to motivate myself. However my preference is to save one’s breath for breathing, contain the moisture in one’s mouth, and listen to the natural world as well as Drue singing “Take a Chance On Me”

So in the last couple of weeks I have tried to remember verses from 53 songs. I know odd lines from songs but not 53 full verses. My mother has helped me find more songs we used to sing together on car journeys when I was a wee lass – a very nostalgic moment.

Then tried singing for an hour on a run. After 15 minutes, it all just sounded like noise.

I enjoy being at the back of the pack in my own world in my own silence but a challenge has been set for Race to the Kings and rules have been made.

Rules

I am nervous about this, but as the good Doctor (David Tenant version) says “allons-y” and if I’m to make a noise, let’s hope it’s a good noise. Public decides.

Anyhoo, maybe Stuart will be dancing at his next ultra challenge 😉

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#66 St Illtyds Trail Race 50K: The Tyre and the Snail

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Event Type: A trail ultra with a couple of miles on the main road as well as through some villages. The route is an out and back.
Start Time:
9am.
Weather: Started at @ 9 degs C at 8am. Increased to to 13 degs C by about 11am
During: 5 checkpoints in total stocked with food + water to refill
At the End: A large medallion medal + t-shirt and food to eat
Website: http://www.goeventswales.com

After Rovaniemi 150, 23 Feb and 62 hours of no sleep during the event, I took 2 months off to stabalise my sleep patterns. At the Glen Coe Skyline 2015, and after 5 days of very little sleep, I learned that I really do need sleep for my head to allow my physical being to work effectively. St Illtyds 50K Ultra in South Wales would be the next event at the end of April. 3 weeks before the event, my legs were strong and pulling Big Bluey (15kg tyre) in 5K events. However in a marathon I will always bring a lighter tyre. So Drue (an anagram from Reduce), to Wales we go……

Some Preamble Event Thoughts

Croeso. Cymru am byth! (Welcome. Wales Forever!)

….When I was 8 years old, our Welsh teacher felt he had a duty to teach us these words. I think he brainwashed us because I have remembered these words since then. We also learned that Wales has the longest town name in the UK: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll and the train station you need to go to if you want to visit this place is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yep learned all of that at primary school.

April 2017 Snapshot

“Change” is rapidly occurring around us. Stuff that we thought was just fiction in the movies is now real.

•    A snap shot on computer technology advancements:
TechnologyAdvancements
Computing technology is moving exponentially fast with AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) presence now built into our devices; our increasing dependency on robotics (yes Humans is around the corner); computers interfacing with our brains (2010)

See https://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves

….and Facebook’s recent announcement of augmented reality via Oculus means Star Trek’s Holodeck is fast becoming a reality or perhaps “Total Recall” will emerge. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2U9lXEnHns It is only a matter of time when runners will be telling us of their VR experiences, such as running with the dinosaurs.

•    On the political scene is certainly changing with Brexit; 2 crazy guys in power: North Korea and the USA seeing whose bomb is bigger; and Marine Le Pen coming closer to being President of France with the potential to bring France to Frexit.

Pre Race Day

So to be in Burry Port, South Wales where the pace of life slows down was just pure bliss with its hilly green views, sweet smelling air, and water that is soft and sweet. Additional bonus, we were greeted to a show of crepuscular rays over the port.
CrepsularBurryPort

The BBC weather forecast was rain and wind for race day. But just as we are interfacing with computers what if we could really “plug in” to our weather patterns. I would unite with my fellow Ultra colleagues, organisers and volunteers to see dry weather for at least the start of the event.  The night of the event, our doors shuddered in the accommodation as the wind vortexed through the room. As I lay in bed listening to the howling wind, I willed it to keep blowing the rain clouds further away. The reward was a dry start on race day. Thank you to everyone who pictured a dry start to the event. We did it.

Race Day

Registration was inside the Neptune pub. A small intimate group collected with many seeming to already know each other through Twitter with #UKRunChat #Whatever.  This day, I learned Twitter is a place to “meet up” with mainly 30 to 50 whatever year olds.  For me, Twitter was mainly a blog feed, and chatting was in Facebook.  Oh well, another social media to suck time away.

Anyhoo race briefing with Nathan (RD) warning that the Tyre Lady would bounce her tyre Drue on anyone dropping their litter along the trail. That would surely make me a grumpy lady and no one likes a grumpy lady especially with a 10kg lump of rubber handy! Of course some thought the Tyre Lady was a Welsh country myth.

08:00, We started with the 100K participants, an hour ahead of the 50K participants.
StartOfEvent
Love a head start. Feels like a hare being chased by the hounds.  How far would we get before the first 50K runner overtook us? What time would they pass us? (Stephen Shanks was the first to go by at 10:07, completing the entire course in a stonking 4:24).

The course starts off flat and I met a couple of perhaps retired Welshmen riding their bicycles. They tried to have a conversation with me and unfortunately I had no clue what they were saying to me. I could only imagine what they were saying and responded according to what I thought they had asked, until one of them threw some coins into my bucket and said something with the word “charity” in the sentence. I responded EarthWatch www.justgiving.com/tyregirl

Gave me a thumbs up, so must have been the correct response!

Thus, decided I had to make more of an effort to practice my Welsh and greeted other passerbys with Cymru am byth! At checkpoints I practised saying my number with a Welsh accent. Of course with a sing song Welsh accent forming, it was time to sing songs in the woodlands as Drue got caught on rocks and roots.

StuartTree

Just behind us in Stuart’s photo above, I got stuck between the fallen sawn tree and immediately after Drue was stuck. Suddenly we were all giggling at the thought of going on a diet just to fit thru the tree on the way back. Elevation

As for the hilly terrain, it is true that any tyre is a drag going up hill. On this event there are quite a lot of them.

However for every up hill, most of them had awesome downhills. Drue loves a downhill thrill,  except one where Drue dumped bucket on his head for wobbling all over the place.

GoingDownHill
There are a couple of main roads we have to venture out onto, but the majority of this event is on trail with gorgeous scenic hill top views and pretty woodlands filled with bluebells and interesting tree shapes + some posh houses to pass (reminded by the amazing Jane who popped up all over the event doing bonus miles and kept going to the end)

Bluebells

No Bluebells were dragged up during this event.

At about 1:30pm, the heavens opened up and the wind blew. Drue loved the rain, becoming an easier pull uphill!

Between the final 2 checkpoints, I met Rob Mills doing his second lap towards the 100K still smiling despite the rain and soaking wet (he said forgot to put on his waterproofs!!!). He had about 35K more to do. Gave him a big hug and told him I’d see him at the end. Rob was the only finisher for the 100K, completing in a brilliantly run 12:33.

As for the snail at the beginning of this post: after the final check point, we were joined by the final 50Kers: Lyndon and Aimee. Aimee was doing her first 50K (no training, no other running events prior like a ½ marathon or marathon, just straight into an ultra!)

LyndonOur conversation veered towards technology, social media and how children today were lacking social skills to be able to read and negotiate with each other (think Lyndon brought this topic up). More cyberbullying was happening with schools seeing an increase in child depression due to cyberbullying. We decided that children and adults today need rules and regulations with using “chat” apps to express their feelings.

Do we need to keep ahead of technology? Parents certainly do need to know about the different apps in order to protect their children, especially with adults pretending to be kids and sex grooming. All of us will be forced to experience augmented reality via VR to protect our children.

As the gentle Aimee diverted her path to avoid crunching snails, Drue waited for the snails to pass.

SnailSpeaks

And we learned that although our social interaction is changing, we need to teach our children about the joys of the outdoor, the physical world and the creatures that will touch our lives. Snails are cute!

Aimee you did brilliant and hope to see you on another.

Besides the top of a red gel tab, there was absolutely no runners’ trash on the course. So you all rocked!

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Thank you to the organisers for doing a litter run at the end and picking up 2 full bags worth of garbage left on the trail by the general public. Tori and Nath thank you for a truly excellent event that was well organised and for using biodegradeable compostable cups and bags for the “disposable trash”. Big hugs to all the volunteers for being out there for us even in the wind and rain and to Stuart and Rob for letting me use your tweeted photos. Lots more photos of the event can be found here at Rob’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/awv/albums/72157683182452006

And a view of the event from the organisers: http://nathanflear.co.uk/2017/05/02/st-illtyds-ultra-marathon-race-report/

Finish time = 10:48 (watching snails passing by)

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#65 Rovaniemi 150: Luck, Angels and LSD

Rovaniemi 150 Background

150results

2017 Results

Ultra races are a test of mind, some body and a lot of soul. The added snow and ice gives an ultra an added twist. Here participants can die from hypothermia or become badly wounded with frostbite. Temperatures can swing from 5 degrees celcius (in 2016) to -27 degrees celcius (in 2017). No year is the same.

Superficially participants come to be out in the wild to survive. In reality, they come to face their demons. Everyone of us (readers included) have hurts and fears that we have pushed to the dark corners of our mind.

60 people entered the 150, 45 completed the entire event. Unless you have formed partnerships, you will be alone, perhaps in darkness, listening to the forest “pop” sounds.

It is in those moments of loneliness that our minds wander along the corridor memory banks searching those hidden corners, pulling forth the demons so that we can do battle. Out in the darkness, with no one around, no distractions, our demons are exposed and we must fight them. So that we can find the peace and joy of the world around us.

The demons I fought in Arrowhead 135 (which I have yet to complete), caused tears to fall. I had to stop my emotions running away as my eyes began to form ice, and were sticking each time I blinked. The second attempt to complete Arrowhead, ended early with grade 2-3 frostbite which took 3 months for the outer skin to heal and nearly a year for the finger to have 95% feeling but I was still in battle mode.

2015, Rovaniemi 150, sickness prevented me completing. Although I made the time limit, it is miserable when you are fighting yourself and fooling yourself. When your health is poor an endurance event will not heal it!

2017, Rovaniemi 150, I am at peace with my world (see previous post). With prayers and scripture behind me, I was prepared regardless of the lack of physical training. One more of “Peter’s winds” would try to hijack this victory…. a sleepless, restless night.  In total, 22 hours awake before the event had started.  Faith and trust were my focus.

The 150 Race

routemap

Map of route but plenty of markings/signage to indicate direction

route-markers

Yellow and black route markers by the side of the route – photo by Watson Bassett

Although this is called a race, it is also about humanity. We all have our reasons for being here, but this is an evemt where participants help each other to be safe. The cold can kill. And it soon becomes apparent we all want each other to be well. Sometimes we have to take charge of a fellow participant, ordering them to put on clothes and gloves, to dry out, or making sure there are logs for the next participant to make a fire.

 

new-old-friends

The 2015 gals are back in town; Rachel to complete 300km; Marketa to complete 900km – photo by Aleksander Wiatrowski

It was great to catch up with Rachel who would go on to be the first lady to complete the 300km event and Marketa who will complete the Lapland Challenge, a 900km event, that will end on the 20th March. These are women who are filled with joy and love, with spirits that dance in the wilderness and watched over by angels.

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Lumi posing with Rachel and Aleksander

A glorious, sunny bright day, sees everyone start with gusto, a quick “get-away” on Lake Porohovi for the next 12.5km.

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Lake Sinettäjärvi – photo taken by Paolo Della Patrona

Despite a night void of sleep, my mind feels alert and thus the body is able to jog the first 10km. After all, dragging a 30kg pulka on a solid flat icy ground is effortless, though the lungs had to do a little adaption to the -10 degs C start.

This year the hills were easier to climb ….though many people still overtook us (Lumi and myself), I could breathe!

This year, the “pain in the arse” first forest section ground was solid – no snow shoes were required unlike 2015. Though care still needed to be taken on the steep undulations. 30kg smashing into your legs is a little painful!

Entering Lake Sinettäjärvi, we could resume a run, walk. In fact, I walked more of this as I enjoyed the feeling of health and thankful for my face mask to protect the face from the biting breeze. This is a long 20km lake stretch and with nothing to torture my mind, except a Mongolian song to loop round over and over again.

Unfortunately as this route unfolded, gel and bar wrappers had been left on the ice. Perhaps accidently dropped. After having picked up 5 wrappers, decided to leave the couple more I came across, hoping that someone behind might pick them up. It was a moral dilemna of responsibility as the area is pristine and yet annoyingly there are wrappers seemingy tossed on the ground by other participants! Plastic trash that will pollute the rivers that would eventually end up in our oceans or swallowed by a fish. I did not pick up 2 that I had seen and now was guilty of ignoring the trash on the ground, just as so many in society ignore the trash around.

More than 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans….Read here from the UN.

5 measly pieces of trash…..I was ashamed for turning my face away from the rest. It would be great if the organisers gave an award to people who picked up other people’s trash so that everyone took responsibility. However, I believe that there were other “aware” participant who would have taken responsibility for the trash I refused to pick up.

Note to other participants: I still have someone’s selfie stick that was dropped on the trail.

The Dancing Lights

arctic-lights

Captured by Watson Bassett

As night fell, temperatures rapidly dropped. From the lake to CP 6,  we would continually leap frog a Spanish duo (Carlos (150km) and Esteban (300km)) who would in turn overtake us when we were going up hill.

Approaching CP4, Carlos and Esteban stopped. Their light beams seemed to capture ice crystals suspended in the air that surrounded us like fairy lights, and there was a strange alien green light swirling in the sky.

At this point my Mongolian head song is interrupted by War of the Worlds music by Jeff Wayne:

The Pain in the Arse Rickety Bridge

bridgepain

Photo by Watson Bassett

By about 8pm we are crossing the rickety bridge. My plan was to turn the pulka on its side to drag Lumi’s fat rubber body thru. In 2015 I had managed to wedge Lumi between the wooden posts and was forced to climb over the pulka to release Lumi and carry her separately to the other side of the slippery bridge.

My plan to drag Lumi on her side failed. Thankfully Carlos and Esteban graciously helped me, carefully carrying my pulka across the bridge.

As temperatures dropped to -25 deg celcius, I put on my big mitten gloves. Unfortunately I dropped one of them in the forests. My one hand was becoming frozen. I knew I needed to find the lost glove or face having another round of frost bite.

I called back to the Spanish duo and they had thankfully picked it up.

Energy renewed, we were on our way to CP5. There I met a participant who was shivering by the fire and commanded her to put on clothes and her overgloves. Immediately I apologised for being so authoritive, though it was what was needed. Sometimes we think we are with it, but actually we can become confused, as I was at the end of this tale. She was at a check point, safe. It was questionable whether she would go on. I left her to be looked after by the volunteers so that she could deal with her demons.

As we headed into midnight, we were treated to another blast of green swirling lights. We were in a magical wonderland and still feeling very lucid despite the sleep deprivation.

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CP6, Kuusilampi in the twilight. Photo by Paolo Della Patrona

CP6 @ 02:00. The plan was to spend @ 3 hours at Kuusilampi, to eat and dry clothes.  It is the only hut that has a closed door and a burning fire inside. It was great to see Ollie and Jaana again.

I was surprised to see Simone enter in only 1/2 an hour after me. She had got herself together and made the journey to CP6. Her boyfriend had only just left CP6 as I could not give him positive feedback on whether Simone would make it. He had waited some hours. I felt bad for her and found myself again commanding her to get her clothes dry.

Being dry does much to lift the spirit. We talked and she seemed much more positive. We both filled our Nathan Bladders with hot water. As I continued to bimble around, Simone felt ready to face the world and went on outside to move onto the next check point. Unfortunately her bladder somehow burst and her clothes were wet. At this point she decided to call it a day and I left her in the safe hands of Jaana and Ollie. I thanked God that my water bladder did not burst in the same way despite me filling it with very hot water.

My gripe to other participants: Trash was left on the floor and on the benches of the Kuusilampi hut. This is a self supporting event that just so happens to have an awesome shelter that was built by Ollie! If you enter this event again, please leave no trace and be responsible for your own trash!

downhill-with-lumiSunday, 6am the motivation for hauling Lumi up hills is to use her as a seat to ride down. Va va voom.

Note to other participants: If you use your pulka as a sled, remember to check for road traffic and slow down at the road crossings. Always listen for the silence.

Just over 24 hours into the event (plus the 22 hours of sleep deprivation), my concentration was sometimes waning and I took a 2 hour detour believing I had seen the correct signage. Before I went up the detour, a lady called me. She had seen a glove on the road that I had left at my break stop and had decided it belonged to me. It was my glove! I thanked Geoff and Stephen for their prayers as a lot of “luck” was accumulating. Snow shoes on, I wandered along the incorrect track believing signage I had seen was the event’s signage. After 2-3km in, decided I was just on an exporation route. With a sudden sense of urgency, I returned back to the road and met Stein who confirmed the correct direction.

Reflecting back, nothing was really correct, but my mind tricked me into believing it was correct. I had to be more careful. Although I thought I was lucid I was tired. It is @ 52 hours since I last slept (about 30 race hours + 22 deficit pre-hours). Here now in broad daylight on the track up to CP7, I began to have minor hullucination, thinking I could see people dressed in red or blue, the trees in the snow looked like a little cemetary, and sometimes I thought I heard voices. I let my brain toy with me, sometimes enjoying seeing an imaginary building in the woodlands. Who needs LSD!

lumi-towards-cp7

Little trees making cross signs

CP7: I forced myself to drink some luke warm chicken soup. After all I didn’t really want to continue to the end with 2 litres of liquid still in my pulka. I still had a mostly full 750ml bottle and 2 litres in my bladder.

Having forced myself to breathe through my nose though most of the journey, I found that I didn’t need to drink so often. My throat was fine. I could still sing to the weary participants at CP7 to get them going with “eye of the tiger” or “when you’re happy and you know it….” I must have been annoying!

Sunday @16:03

on-the-trail-with-lumi

Selfie with Lumi

On to the “never ending road” and Alex (Organiser) passes by, asking me who I am!….Guess I must have looked wild with white frozen hair and a tyre behind. You know beared guys look like Santa Claus with their ice white frozen beards!

Note to self: If you have to pee, just pee and don’t worry about anyone seeing you out on a long road…..far better to get it out than having to deal with an embarrassing accident!

Onward bound and as darkness set in, I checked the markers mulitple times, no longer trusting my own eyes.

56 hours sleep deprivation and at the lake before the final check point Porohovi, I had to make a decision to go left or right. I took out the map to make sure the signs I was following was correct.

Now in the final woodlands, after flying down a hill, I decided I had gone the wrong way. So stormed back up 500m to confirm I had gone the right way! Oh well “whee” all the way back down.

Back on the final lake pass with the city lights in sight. I found the city lights annoying as they never seemed to be in focus. Instead I enjoyed looking at the signage waving at me as I went by each one of them!

60 hours sleep deprivation (38 hours 49 mins race hours + 22 prior deficit)  – a gang of 4 fat bikers cheered us in through the door. We clocked in at 38 hours 51 mins.

Our first snow and ice ultra completed with loads of thanks to the volunteers; organisers; Esteban and Carlos for being my initial angels, Rev Jeff & parkrun buddy Stephen for prayers; the participants who stayed to support incoming participants; Bjorn for helping me take my gear to the wrong flat (my fault), getting me to see I had taken him to the wrong flat and then him helping me take everything over to the right block of flat; and thank you to God and his team of angels.

Sending apologies to the flat owner whose bell I rang at 1am and probably rang a couple of times as I thought the button was the light switch. I was so confused about the door change! (wrong building)

To get a feel of Rovaniemi 150, here is a French version with moving pictures: http://www.lci.fr/sport/la-rovaniemi-150-kilometres-en-laponie-seul-face-a-soi-meme-2027255.html

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#65 Rovaniemi 150: Preparations

Some History: Better Heath than Being A Hero

One day, as I was completing a 50km event in Salisbury, a fellow participant told me about Arrowhead 135. He had tried to fat bike the distance and failed and was unlikely to enter again as it was too hard…….so I entered my first snow and ice event in 2012. I failed due to not understanding how to work with soft packed snow under foot and suffered with “beaten up” achilles.

I attempted again in 2014 and failed again due to not being vigilent enough and being complacent. Extreme cold is unforgiving and frost bite can take hold in 5 minutes! I had frost bite on my fingers by the first check point and thought I’d prefer to have working fingers rather than be a hero.  The hand specialist in London wanted to chop, thankfully I had spoken to more experienced consultants in the North of the UK and Minnesota who gave some sound advice….leave it to see how it heals. However my confidence for dealing with cold by myself was low.

I needed something shorter, so I entered Rovaniemi 150 in 2015. At the start of the event, I was not well. However a Polish participant had given me some anti-flu pills and I felt temporarily good. I pulled myself out at 115km due to lungs seemingly blocked and breathing difficulties despite the warmish weather (about -5 deg C at the time).

After all as Alex (the Event Organiser) has said to his participants: “This event will  be back next year. Better safe than having permanent health issues.”.

2016 I didn’t attempt any snow ice events due to insomnia messing with my system. Sleep deprivation before an event is hard to deal with. For the Glen Coe sky running event, I had 5 days of no sleep prior and was on the start line thinking “Just enjoy the scenery and hopefully you will physically exhaust yourself to sleep deep”. I completed 1/2 of the course. Note this is a tough event as you do have to scramble up mountains and I did not take a tyre companion with me.

Really there are no failures in life, just as long as we reflect and make our experiences to become better the next time.

….and here we are in 2017…. I have kind of learned how to deal with the insomnia!

Preparation

homewood-parkrunHmmm…..Parkrun 5K every Saturday (this is free to join – walk it, run it, pull a tyre in it)…if I felt like it.

Life has to keep rolling forward. It is not that I was complacent, but I was focusing on the thoughts of tax, work to pay for stuff, renovations, fixing stuff, social stuff…… you know living!

Ok really….I focused on “seeing” myself complete the event. Those who have been following this blog will know I finally understood the power of visualisation in the Rome Marathon and separated it from the “imagination of the distance”.

4 weeks before the event, Isaiah 40:29-31 was given to me.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

NIV version

And I met a Buddhist monk friend who reminded me about Peter trying to walk on water. Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

NIV version

My preparation was spiritual to remind me God can take us through the worst storms.

2 weeks before the event, I checked into my local church to see how they were going. I saw they were still trying to raise funds for their building. However they had progessed on forward and borrowed the funds instead to make a vision reality. They now need a couple of million to pay back and it seemed right to dedicate this event to them and God. If you want to support me in my endeavours, it would be great if you could place a donation with them to help them with their building which serves Egham community and put “TyreLady” in the reference so I can thank you. (See previous post)

The Winds of Doubt

A week before the event, a cold was sneaking in. Also I did a 4 mile cross country event on the Saturday prior and appeared to have a niggle on the left foot. On the Tuesday prior to the event, I completed a 7 mile run with Runnymede Runners and my left foot was sore with tendonitis. My thoughts flashed back to Peter……and like the wind he encountered, this too would just blow over. Prescriprion “calf massage and R&R (Rest and Relaxation)”.

Calf muscle massage saw me in giggle fits (very tight calves). As for R&R I still had packing….which took me all 3 days prior to flying. More insominia smacking me round the head….average 3-4 hours a night. But still it would all be positive, afterall I would be looked after. I had reverend Geoff of St John’s praying for me + a running buddy Stephen from Audio Kitchen keeping me safe in prayer.

Wednesday evening I was ready.

Thursday evening we had arrived in Rovaniemi and I was ready for bed!

sledarrival

Sled arrived in one piece

Thursday’s sleep was great and by Friday, we had rejoined with Lumi

lumi-ready

Next post: Rovaniemi 150: The Event.

The Green Ultra Challenge (part 2)

Following on from the previous post….for those looking for the petition see here.

Nerves? Or Negative Mental Attitude?

From August 2015, a sleep disorder has been driving me crazy. I used to think I could make my body move even if I was mentally exhausted. But in Sept 2015 and after another zero hours night’s sleep (from little mosquitos nibbling my face), I was at the start line of an event in Scotland thinking I need to be in bed. I couldn’t even run 3 kms. My head told my body to quit and it did. So I DNFed and it became the start of months of bad running mojo. My July high had swung to the opposite direction. I didn’t want to run.

As the Green Ultra Challenge event date drew near, I became anxious. I was snatching 3-4 hours sleep leading up to the event. 2 days before the event, I was cleaning the top of my water bottle in the bathroom and the drinking nipple part went flying into the toilet bowl……so I pulled it out and set about sterlising it…..Well the toilet wasn’t that dirty, I had only flushed it beforehand! 1 day before and I had a warning headache. On event day “boom”…..that girly thing began. It’s no wonder I’ve been so blur! So I drank a strong cup of coffee to shake up my system….and it did wake up my system right into the night after the event!

At 06:30am volunteers had arrived to go to their stations. I was awarded lucky number 88. Being of Chinese descent, 88 means double happiness, so I bade “bye bye” to my negative attitude. UR 88 – how cool.

Map2

The route

So What Are You Doing?

RailBridge

Photo at the start point (taken by the Green Race)

As my first lap ended, some of the participants that were doing one or 2 laps headed towards me. They had started their lap. “Lucky dudes” I thought, “I’ve got 4 more to do”.  I needed to get a move on. Once I had checked in, I immediately turned back out.

More People

The temperature was heating up and there were more people on the trail…..more people to ask me to take photos with them; more people to ask me if they can have a ride – “Sure. It’s a $100 a centimeter. Want or not?” – no takers.

 

….more people to stop me to ask me what I was doing……”stop the cross rail link coming thru this treasure”….more people to tell me isn’t this hard enough…..”If I can pull a tyre, you can make an effort and reduce your single use plastic” after all the event was about raising awareness of sustainability and a pledge tyre called Peace, a hefty 15kg baby, was waiting at the end point to encourage folk to change their ways (if they hadn’t done so yet).

After all the organisation itself was trying to have a zero waste event with a “Bring Your Own Cup” for drinks.

TGOpen

The long stretch before the Durian Walk

The Other Stuff That Was Happening

1/2 way round into the 2nd lap, I began feeling light headed. I hadn’t been drinking enough. The volunteer at Dairy Farm offered coke. I accepted, mixed it in with my 1/4 full squash and greedily guzzled it down. Then like “Oliver” I coyly asked for more. It fixed me and I gave the volunteer imaginary hugs and kisses.  At this point I decided to walk up the hills!

At 10:00 the sun was sizzling as I ventured onto the long open stretch before reaching the cool canopy of the Durian Walk, but it had to be done.  But I dreaded the 3rd lap even more as the sun would be hot enough to cook the skin.

As I checked in for lap 2, I wondered about sun cream but was distracted by SynTech, a manufacturing company that was at the event creating awareness about keeping Singapore’s water ways clean.

NeWater is reclaimed waste water that meets 30% of the nation’s water needs. SynTech had information about products that we use that pollute our water ways and that we should stop using so that our aquatic life and us stop ingesting plastic and other bad stuff. Microbeads are plastic particles that a lot of popular brands use to help us clean stuff and require very fine filters to take out of the water. If you want to know what other products contain microbeads, check here.  SynTech suggest sticking to products with the Green Label.

It’s 11:20 and I really was dreading the 3rd lap. The heat was affecting me. Not only me but the animals too. Along the Green Corridor, an electric blue snake glided across the path way. I later found out it was a Blue Malayan Coral Snake, and highly poisonous. But it was so beautiful.

Towards Diary Farm, the monitor lizards were running for cover and of course the cheeky monkeys came out to laugh at the mad humans running around in the hot sun.

I thought of Acres, a local charity I run for because I like wildlife and over 90% of the funds they raise goes back to their cause (See Singapore Charity Commission). They rescue all sorts of injured animals or illegal foreign animals that have been dumped at Bukit Timah/Macritchie forests. They will fix the animals up and return them to their country, if they have enough funds. However some are so big, that the expense is unaffordable. Having animals that do not belong to a country can upset the biodiversity. In Singapore the turtles that are in Machritchie reservoir are from the US that were set free by owners and have out competed the local turtles. See here for more information.

Acres want to turn their backyard into a sanctuary for the animals that can never return to their homeland, however unfortunately they had the misfortune of hiring a rogue company that dumped a whole of toxis waste in the area they were supposed to prepare. See Straits Times Article for more information.  But they will forge ahead with that dream.  A number of participants asked me how they can donate to Acres. To support the work that Acres does, you can donate via giving.sg. In the mean time if you see an injured animal whether that is a wee bird/lizard/snake/turtle/what ever call Acres on 6892 9821. You can also link to them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACRESasia/

(thank you Abi for your very kind cash donation to Acres)

Home Runs

Checking in for my final lap, the SJI (St Joseph International) students had come to do a litter sweep of the area and collected 2 large bags of litter on the first 5km of the route. This was litter that some may have been accidently dropped by runners, but the majority would have been from people out enjoying the area. After all I had seen a group of guys with cups of coffee walking along the trail and later seen a couple of those same coffee cups on the trail where they had walked. Thank you SJI for cleaning up after everyone.

Speaking of litter, we were given a couple of Lucho Dillitos guava snacks Guava Snack wrapped in a leaf! The leaf definitely protected its contents just like a normal “plastic” wrapper as I had been fully doused with ice water before laps 4 and 5. The sweets wrapped in paper were a little damp but the contents of the Lucho Dillitos was dry! So instead of a gel (and there were a couple of accidently dropped empty packs on the trail), try this instead because dropping the wrapping isn’t as bad…a leaf on the trail to join the other leaves 🙂

Also thanks to Ngee Ann Poly, Bukit Batok Secondary school (your cheers for every lap were awesome), the volunteers who poured ice cold water over us, and all the other volunteers that were out there baking in the hot afternoon sun.

5 laps and 47km completed in 09:12:20. A big thank you to the organisers (Sanmuga/Ash/Farhan) for a well executed 1st event and giving me the time to complete my first event of the year and my 58th marathon.

#58: The Green Ultra Challenge (27 Feb 2016): Part 1

Those who follow me know I’ve been AWOL. I lost my mojo to write blog entries. One blog entry takes me hours, and even then I find it reads rather procedural….like my job (programmer)! As I began my 4th lap along the Green Ultra Challenge’s, and psyching myself back along the dreaded heated corridor (1st 3km), a participant stopped me:

Participant: “Where have you been? You’ve been missing?”
Me: {uncertain about the question} “I’ve been running around this nature reserve, just like you”
Participant: “Have you been hiding?”
Me: “Err no…I’ve been on this course, trying to catch up with you”
Participant: “Your site lah….”
Me: {light bulb moment} “Oh ya sorry…..I have been missing…..sorry….I will write….thank you……I must go”…..and off I plodded…..

And so to that participant, this blog entry is for you.

I have been hiding! The last event I did was a DNF on a 50 mile team event and I was mighty p***** with the person who asked me onto the team and seemed to make no effort to make the distance whilst the sun was out.  Ok I am still rather peeved with wasting my time on an event when I was suffering from food poisoning and there were other stresses happening in my life at that moment before the 5th Dec.

…And then I did no more running except for the odd 8 miler and 5K runs.

Sometimes in one’s life, we have to just get on and deal with the pressures of life. No matter how overwhelming those pressures are, we deal with them like a marathon. Chew off a little, bit by bit until all is done and then give yourself a little reward. I decided to see my family in Singapore, and this event’s organisers kindly accepted me, providing the extra time I would need to complete 5 laps of the course (@10km a lap) to make this my 58th completed marathon.

On my first lap, I enjoyed some stillness and comtemplated why a progressive society would think developing thru/under a rainforest is progression?

So Whilst I Have Your Attention….

For some months a petition has been going on to ask the government of Singapore / Land Transport Authority (LTA) to not do any type of development in Machritchie Reservoir (MR). If you still have not taken notice there is a development to put a tunnel under MR despite all the media news, see below.

Why should you care?

  • Because it is going through primary forests that is older than everyone and is a natural heritage of Singapore.
  • It breaks founding principles that the late Lee Kwan Yew (LKY) set a precedence for clean, green Singapore and protecting national treasure.
  • It is an environment where the last indigenous “Singaporean species” live.  Yes it is hosts to species that have been around long before us!
  • It puts us on the same level as every other country like Malaysia and Indonesia when it comes to discussions about progression and rainforests.
  • COP21. Singapore has commited to reducing carbon emissions by 36% by 2030….and if you think you’ll be dead by then, God will keep you alive to show you.

If you want to read more about the impact of the development, read here (PDF “Love Our Macritchie Forest” created)

Singapore, as a country has progressed immensly. However anyone saying this development has to occur for progression is still in a 1990s time warp. Singapore is a major port, a major business/financial centre; has just been noted to be the 3rd richest in the world and has just been recognised as a UNESCO city of design.

I wonder if the forward thinking LKY had decided on this test, to see if his people would stand up for the principles that the founding fathers have moulded this tiny dot on and made into a first class country.

This green space is a fragile nature reserve and as an educated society who knows about global warming and suffers first hand from environmental issues, Singaporeans/PR/those who enjoy this country should stand up.  Be zealous. It is too easy to be a bystander and then think after we could have done something.  Developments will always cause a negative impact, especially so with natural environments.  A petition has been going on for some months to have zero impact on Machritchie and it is shameful that less than 1% of the population have bothered to sign it….Apparently it is “green groups” vs “the government”.

I hear too often, “It’s the government, so what ever we do is a waste of time”. This is pure apathy. After all why would the Straits Times, that the government controls, voice concerns over the area? AND The petition takes less than 5 minutes to sign. Click here for the petition.

As for my take, the carless Sunday at the end of each month is great. However for a truely sustainable effort in making this a “car lite” country, it would be great if the government can could lead the world to change in its actions:

  • Diverting the MRT round Lornie Road will encourage potential road users in this area to get on the train (noted the LTA is making some attempt to show willing for this option)
  • Convert the road widening program to make dedicated non-motorized lanes for vehicles such as bicycles so that trees can be kept instead of destroyed. I have observed that new pathways have been built and the old ones will be integrated into the road widening. The old pathways could be made into cycle lanes!
  • Re-think the Green Corridor development. Dumping a tarmac/concrete path along it and putting up concrete buildings is certainly neither “green” nor “clean”. Singapore has lots of pretty manicured parks. Leave the last vestiges of natural Singapore….natural. As the late LKY said:
    • Nature calms the spirit and make people feel relaxed.
    • Trees provide shade and thus a respite from the sun.
    • Trees absorb carbon dioxide (a common greenhouse gas).

For those who are concerned about the diversion costing an extra $2 billion – put it in perspective: the whole line might cost @ $40 billion – see Straits Times article. We can only guess how many will travel on that line (est 1 million at $2,80 ave fare – you do the maths!).  And those along Lornie Road will have better transport options.

As Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”

So at the very least in one’s own busy life, stand up for the preservation of this natural heritage and let the government know one voice about this Click here to sign the petition. (This includes Singaporean visitors/PRs and anyone who understands societies need to change as we become more educated about our impact). And please get your friends to sign this petition to show the government we care.

Also write to your local MP voicing your concerns or “facebook them”, asking them to protect your natural heritage. Here is a suggestion for your usage: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wEKumtUBO2zjA9EQtRXuEvu8AFFSpGLiyU1ThPcV_AA/edit

For those who fail to understand the importance of protecting primary forests, take a guided walk: https://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com/love-macritchie-walks/ or go visit Sungei Buloh which the late LKY wanted to see expanded.

For those who think there is nothing wrong with “some” compromise to a part of the rainforest, means those areas will continually be compromised in the name of progression. You only need to see the BKE has already started the division of the rainforest and then what else in the future? The buck stops here and we can make it so! Let’s at least get this petition representing at least 1% of this island.