June / July / August 2015
At least I'm not boring by writing too much too frequently!
It's been a mixed quarter. 2 x failed (but close) Bob Graham attempts, 1
x £25 scratch card wins, 1 x DNS Outlaw and success at the UTMB.
1st Bob Graham attempt - 3rd July:
I set off with some random bloke known as 'Vespa'. Brutal's Claire nearly
joined the 'team' and fortunately for her she didn't. We were starting at
2230, the weather was looking very wild (as was Vespa). I soon realised
we were never going to be best mates or able to run together given the difference
in pace but we went for it nevertheless. After a couple of hours the thunder
storms kicked in and stayed with us through to 8am. The storms were later
described as 'biblical' which summed them up pretty accurately. We were
right 'in' the storm as in above the base of the cloud line. Lightning flashed
down beside us. At around 4am we met and passed some dude pushing a MTB
near Hellvelyn, nutter. Had a couple of disaster nav errors, lost a couple
of hours and eventually arrived in Wasdale with no hope of completing the
round within 24 hours so bailed.
I now had the BG monkey strapped to my back. I needed to nail this like
nothing else. As if by magic I then received a message via the FRA forum
from 'Dr Patrick Barry' asking if I wanted to try again in 5 weeks time.
Tough decision, I had the Outlaw booked in right between these two attempts
and then the UTMB 3 weeks thereafter. I went straight back and said I'd
love to. I then emailed Coach Carter and launched my persuasion campaign
that it would be ok and could be done. As always he backed me up with a
programme and the knowledge to try and get through everything that lay ahead,
on the understanding that I would probably be racing more hours over these
events than I had trained all year and that it could and probably would
all turn sour.
The Outlaw - 26th July:
A Bob Graham/Outlaw sandwich/Bob Graham, not to everyone's taste. My triathlon
allergy kicked in a week prior to the race resulting in a cold, poo. As
race day approached the decision to pull out came much easier as the crap
weather that the great British summer had on offer was forecast. I felt
no remorse in not racing as at peed down all morning and I switched the
heating on for an hour....
2nd Bob Graham attempt - 7th August:
Plans were made with 'the Doc' (Dr Patrick Barry), I also persuaded a mate
Lee to crew the road crossings. We then gained a couple of other strangers/runners
through the forum, Geoff and Rowan. Geoff was attempting the round and Rowan
was going to run as far as he could. What could possibly go wrong? We all
met up at a campsite in Keswick and planned out times, supplies etc etc.
We set off at 2230, oddly enough with Vespa starting 15 mins behind us on
his next attempt. The 4 of us nailed the 1st leg, the Doc went lame on the
2nd leg with ITB issues an dropped back, so then there were 3. Towards the
end of this leg the Doc miraculously reappeared dancing down the hillside
(illegal drugs) and made his way back to us. At the end of the 2nd leg we
were expecting to see Lee parked up with a table laden with hot/cold goodies
and a big smile ready to replenish our dwindling packs. As we descended
towards Dunmail there was no sign of my car - shite, we got down and found
Rowan's (known as Vernon for the trip as I couldn't remember his real name)
dad with Rowan's tranny van. He said he hadn't seen Lee since the last crossing.
This was disaster on a monster scale, we were bang on time and all felt
brill. The weather was nigh on perfect, and the Doc's ITB was looking good
again but, without any supplies we were totally screwed. Vern's dad had
a malt loaf, some roll-ups and water. The 4 of us were faced with a 6.5
hours section over tough terrain, it wasn't meant to be. Geoff and Vern
took everything that the Doc and I had (along with the malt loaf and roll-ups)
and forged ahead, we went with Vern's dad to try and find my car and Lee.
We found them parked up about 6 miles away at the other dual carriageway.
Table laid out like a wedding buffet. It soon dawned on me that Lee (who
doesn't know the Lakes) had gone to where I'd said (end of the dual carriageway
and turn back on yourself then park on the verge) and that I'd forgotten
to explain which dual carriageway, doh!!! The doc and I scoffed a load of
soup, coffee, pork pies and biccies and then decided to go back to Dunmail
and continue, knowing that we wouldn't make the time, so we did. The refuel
worked wonders and 4 hours later we'd caught up with Geoff and Vern who
had left an hour or so ahead of us. The downside of the new pace was the
Docs ITB kicked ass again and he was limping like a limpet. We all decided
to reach Wasdale and call it a day, gutted, we had it this time, we all
felt fine (apart from the Doc's ITB). Ah well...
UTMB - 28th July:
Bucket list job, always fancied it and tough to get in making it even more
enticing. The timing of it this year wasn't ideal with only 3 weeks to go
before the Brutal Triple but it is was it is and can't be changed. We went
to Chamonix to be greeted with 35+deg stunning sunshine, set for the entire
week. The place was bouncing with excitement as other races set off and
then build up began to the big one. Friday at 6pm the famous Comrades de
Paradiso was played out in the town square and 2300 fellow nutters and I
set off on a journey that will never be forgotten. The run is 105m with
10,000m of climb on mountain paths through 3 countries. Friday night was
great, running through hillside farms with bonfires and French people partying
and swinging cowbells, the climbs were relentless and longer than anything
I'd gone up before but the descents were equally as impressive - handbrake
off, nuts out and see how quick you can get to the bottom, a technique not
many of the euro athletes shared as they all sauntered their way down using
poles and paths. At the end of each descent I was a dripping mess, I'd rolled
my ankles countless times, jumped rocks to overtake and acted like a 15
year old on a skate park. Self control was never in my house. Sunrise was
stunning, as was the descent into Courmayer. The climb back out was a killer,
for me anyway. Smacked round the chops with the back of a guitar. I was
ready to give in, couldn't see how I could knock out another 50 odd miles,
the heat was rising, I was dripping and I felt crap.
As with all ultra events there's a series of 'I'm gonna make this, I've
got it' and 'I feel like shite, I can't do it' moments. These usually only
last for short periods and only happen a couple of times but for some reason
there were lots of these, and each was extremely convincing. I read somewhere
that you'd experience the highest highs and the lowest lows, how true this
was. I carried on and tried my usual distraction techniques along with telling
myself that the longer I walked for the longer I would be stuck out there.
We'd done France, then Italy and were now heading down into Switzerland,
this is where my wife and children appeared. Huge boost and very emotional
moment. Then my daughter begged me to go back on the bus with her, I wanted
to give up again and appease her. Leaving there was tough but I battled
on, by now it was starting to get dark - again! Saturday night was hideous.
I had one more lovely meeting with my family, and then the doctor for a
full checkover before heading out into the dark, some 20 hours after starting.
The sleep monsters were out in force. I amused myself as rocks started to
look like animals and conversations started with bushes. After a while I
caught up with 2 head torches on a woody descent. As I approached the torch
at the back stopped, took off his pack and threw it to the ground and then
shouted 'I am going to do something' in an eastern block accent. Odd I thought,
but then wondered if it was really happening or not?! I carried on, carefully
past the couple and continued down to the next checkpoint (checkpoints for
the UTMB are unreal, proper wedding reception banquets with everything on
offer). As I was about to leave after devouring my standard 2 bowls of hot
salty noodle soup (with a torn slice of bread and dash of cold water, to
speed up the process), 3 chunks of bananas, 4 wedges of orange, 2 bits of
dark chocolate and topping the bottles up I met the other head torch coming
in looking very pasty. I asked what happened and he said that the guy he
was running with for the past couple of hours had said that the rocks were
attacking him and then went to war with them! He came in shortly after looking
a 'bit' wired, scary bloke with 1 eye and a skinhead but looks can be deceiving.
I went off on what I though was the final climb, I could taste victory and
feel the discomfort of the pull out beds mattress in our apartment not far
away. I shot up the climb (with fear of the one eyed rock fighter catching
me) and then started to descend, feeling good. There was a stable type check
point on the way down checking people were off, I asked how far to the finish.
'It's only 5k to the next checkpoint and then 20k to the finish from there,
over the bad climb', WTF? I asked the Frenchman to excuse my French and
went into a tailspin/Tourette episode. He can't be right, surely this was
a wind up?? I then walked all the way down, totally despondent and uninterested
in finishing the bloody thing. The carpet had been whipped right out from
under my arse and I wasn't happy.
Got down to the next check, done my usual soup/supplied routine and then
onto the final mountain - 20k to the end of the torture, it was now around
2:30am. Flat section for around 2 miles felt good and then I reached the
last climb, the real bastard of climbs. As I got nearer marshals started
to say 'good luck' to me, really? Was it that bad?! I could see around 15
head torches scattered in a random formation going up a huge shadow of a
mountain in front of me. Their route looked by chance and not a real route.
What was I facing to finish this bloody thing? (more homework next time
FFS) The climb was tough, it was very steep in places and hands were needed,
it went on for what seemed like a cats lifetime but eventually the summit
grew near, well it flattened out over a dull plateau. That's it I thought,
yet again, it's in the bag all I have to do now is run downhill to Chamonix
and then the pull out bed, oh how wrong was I. The 'descent' was a traverse
and the best part of 6-7 miles, it was a boulder/rock route which made its
way along the side of the mountains, in places in dropped down and then
back up again, it was a nightmare. Your ankles and feet got ripped apart
and twisted in every direction. Finally the hell gave way to the 'final'
micro-checkpoint at La Flegere. I was offered soup but I refused it, I wanted
to get down off this damn thing now. 'How far' I asked, 8k I was told. I
ploughed on, knackered, sweating, hallucinating and pissed off with rocks
and boulders and people fighting with them. The route down wasn't too bad
and soon I was in Chamonix and on familiar ground, Hayley had got the children
up to greet me and run in the final ? mile, which we did. Mega emotional
moment crossing the line. It took just over 36 hours to complete, finished
around 325th out of 2300 starters with approx. 1000 DNF's due to the heat.
The pull out bed beckoned and didn't fail on it's discomfort.
My A Race - The Brutal Triple 19th September (and the main reason
for writing the blog):
Returning from Chamonix with 2.5 weeks to go made me realise that this wasn't
going to work. The UTMB had taken out far more than I'd expected, mainly
due to the Saharan heat wave. I had to make a decision and couldn't face
starting the Brutal knowing there was a huge chance of failing it, so I
contacted Claire and explained the situation - I was totally done in. Claire,
bless her heart, was extremely understanding (being an ultra nutter herself)
and agreed and that it was the right decision to make, so that was that
my A race wasn't going to happen, until next year...
It is with great sadness to say that I wont be finishing my Brutal Triple
journey this year. I wish all that do tackle the magnificent challenge put
on by Claire and her team the best of luck and that TC you've had a lucky
Thanks for reading
Apr / May 2015
Ok so you've probably gathered by now that writing a regular blog in my
mind really means quarterly, or thereabouts, still regular mind...
April was time to focus on proper Lanza training, which to be honest went
well and felt great. A whole month with no sniffling cold and in a healthy
house, weekly programmes from Daz that were completed in full rather than
a load of sorry excuses. All was looking good! I figured that with 4 weeks
solid training and 2 weeks taper I could knock out a decent Lanza, maybe
even a PB. The new 2nd hand bike wasn't playing ball though, the bars were
creaking like a 90yr old hookers knees. After several trips to the LBS and
some new parts it hadn't improved so was a case of praying nothing snapped
in the race. Got the beast back the day before we flew so lobbed it in the
bike box along with my pair of shorts and toothbrush, and then helped load
the other 6 cases and wife's bike box into the minibus for our family holiday.
Lanza is great in IM month. The week(s) prior see Puerto Del Carmen's clientele
transform from mainly drunken sun-scorched fry-up woofers to the finely
tuned tanned euro triathletes, with a mix of us Brits in there...
When we arrived I assumed my normal duty of hunter-gatherer and hit the
local corner shop. As I went to pay 'Mrs TB' (as she is now known in our
house and possibly many others) decided to blatantly cough the entire contents
of her lung?(s) over me, without any effort to cap the erupting volcano
of phlegm from her mouth. I remember at the time thinking that there's obviously
nothing wrong with her hence her slapdash free for all display so I carried
on excitedly back to the apartments with my bath-load of bottled water and
packet of Weetabix. 3 days later my chest started feeling 'raspy'... Pre-race
paranoia? Possibly. As the days passed it worsened, the day before the race
I tried to transfer it to a mega fast mate who was out there (Carl J) or
defer but no go so I decided to stick the bike into transition and set the
alarm and see if any overnight miracles took place.
Race day: Woke at 4:30am, felt dodgy, decided to walk down and pump tubs
up and then see. By 6am I was back in bed. After 10 mins Hayley kicked me
out and told me to give it a go or at least try the swim (she wanted to
go back to sleep and my huffing was chuffing her off) so I pulled my trusty
wetsuit on and in doing so felt a strange sensation of freedom, checked
in the mirror and the arse had split out of the suit. There was an 8 inch
split across and a cheek cheekerly poking out, albeit covered in a tri suit.
Surely this was an omen. Undeterred and now with Hayley peeing herself in
laughter I left and trundled down to the start with minutes to spare and
a hand strategically placed across my cheek, rear cheek. I took my usual
place on the front row wide (I'm not a good swimmer, just like the thrash).
Swim went ok, very relaxed and felt fine. Start of bike felt good, even
started believing I was ok and would finish it.
Climb up Timafaya found me coughing everything I had up, 10 miles later
tried to explain to the ambulance crew that I was pulling out because of
my chesty cough, they thought I was having a heart attack. I rode back to
PDC from Tinajo, in doing so had several cars pulling alongside me screaming
I was going the wrong way! Got back to transition, about half way along
where there is a way in/out and told the guards I was finished - he seriously
thought I had finished the bike course and was leading and started flapping
around taking me to the red carpet into transition. Eventually got my kit
and got out and felt as flat as the fens. Next day docs.
As we sat in the waiting room somebody walked in coughing, Hayley nudged
me and it was Mrs TB herself looking like death revved up, she looked at
us and then at the floor...
Recovered for a week and then knocked out a great trail run, unchartered
territory, even Daz said it was impossible to make it across but after my
IML flipflop I was determined. The route was from PDC (bottom right of pic)
over to Papagayo Beach (gorgeous beach only reached by rough tracks).
I guessed it was approx. 20 miles. The first part was road onto trails and
then remote trails and then bugger all mountain range with little sign of
life/existence/civilization. The plan was to leave early, stop after 6 miles
at the last hamlet and load up with water from the convenient vending machine
and try to make it over in time for lunch. Game on! This was one of the
most memorable runs of my life. The trail eventually headed inland (as Daz
had warned) so it was time to run/scramble up through the the rough volcanic
ground. Even the goat tracks I found were sketchy/dodgy, even for goats.
Discovered some hidden bays which were perfect for a cool down, also found
a sheeps skull alongside a sheeps body worth of ginger fur?! Odd. But after
4 or so hours I finally made it to the other end and in time for pizza!
Back from Lanza and back to reality and a nagging feeling of needing a successful
race fix. Training resumed and all was good, kept my nose clean and kept
myself out of trouble. Next race was the Outlaw (end of July), Daz had said
that there was time to get an easy ultra in beforehand in training for UTMB
and the Brutal so I started the search. Nothing really hit the spot so I
decided on a training session in the lakes for a couple of days, which then
led on to looking into the Bob Graham Round and maybe doing some sections
of that, which has since developed into a full blown registered attempt
at it with a bloke I've met on the Fell Runners Association forum who goes
by the name of 'Vespa'. Funny how things work out! The plan is for a slow/steady
round but to complete it within the 24 hours to join the prestigious BGR
club (and save the legs for the Outlaw 3 weeks later), we start on Friday
3rd July at 11pm. Anybody free that weekend and in the area and able to
pace/support then please get in touch ASAP! (Email
Thanks for reading!
Feb / Mar 2015
Having a haircut. All was well until I was asked 'how long to your next
race?' - without thinking 'Lanza in May' I replied - 'Only a couple of months
then?' he said. This 'kick up the arse' shock came right out of the blue.
For some unknown reason I was still in winter mode and the heat of Lanza
seemed to be seasons away. The reality is that I have missed lots of training
through colds/flu and am not in the best of shape considering the colossal
year ahead. I casually brushed the exchange off with 'it's just a training
session really, in prep for the rest of the year'. This left me open to
'training?! What for? What else are you doing?' I then reeled off the short
list of long events (with explanations of distances etc) which included
the UTMB as another 'training session' in prep for the Brutal Triple. By
this point I had lost the belief of my barber who now had a 'you're taking
the urine' look upon his face. Another 'cricket-bat across the arse' moment
occurred as I realized the recovery gap between UTMB and the Brutal Trip...
something I'd previously glossed over in the excitement of gaining the slot.
After the wake up calls I decided to do what any long distance nut would
do, get a race booked. I wanted/needed a hilly ultra of a reasonable distance
to test myself and through a club mate Giles found the Hardmoors55 in North
Yorkshire. (I had considered Brutal's own Oner but coach had said that it
was too long too close to Lanza L) The Hardmoors55 ticked all the boxes
in terms of date, distance (55m) and ascent (2700m). Training now focussed
on run sessions and getting back into swimming with the odd bike thrown
in. The beginning of March saw the arrival of yet another cold, a tough
bugger which lasted a fortnight. After that my confidence to finish the
ultra was rock bottom, let alone race it. Race weekend arrived, I picked
Giles up and drove up to Guisborough. Had a massively crap night's sleep
in a cold and damp tent, rushed into the bus taking us to the start (point
to point race with camping at the finish) where we were taken to Helmsley
and was stuffed into a bacon fumed humid hall with an epic bog Q. After
2 hours of checking kit, Q'ing for bog and inhaling bacon fumes we were
ushered out towards the start. I took a last minute behind the village hall
diversion and ended up at the back of the pack. As I sauntered down the
gun/whistle/party popper/fart went off and everyone started to shuffle forward.
I clocked Giles and had a wee chat before walking 50 yards to 'the gate'
where a backlog gathered as people tried to squeeze up a narrow path. This
pace suited me. Once through and on top of the bank the pace picked up and
me being me decided to start picking people off.
This race really was a journey into the unknown in terms of fitness. I truly
had no idea what was in the tank due to the lack of real ultras I'd done
over the past 12 months so took it steady. Through a 'technical' issue,
wrong mileage and a double shot of numptiness I ended up running the first
20.5m on only 2 x 560ml drinks and 1 x gel (which were both gone after 12
miles), this didn't help morale but I got over it. Fortunately later on
I tagged on to Nigel who I'd passed and been passed by several times at
around the midway mark. We kept each other going, as with most ultras, and
made the finish line just as it was getting dark. 9:48, 35th out of approx.
300. After the race the thought of sleeping in the tent wasn't doing it
for me so I did a quick recce and found a superb B&B. Couple of pints and
a burger and then head down. Giles did well for his first hilly ultra and
his longest race, especially considering the size of his pack (he's a big
lad) and came in within the hour.
Very seldom do I check my 'other' inbox on Facebook, in fact I doidn't even
know it existed. I was mid purchasing another bike and had been told that
I'd been messaged and to check there so I did. I came across a message from
a Gerhard Flatz explaining that he was the MD of top clothing company KTC
who develop and make high performance sportswear for companies such as Rapha.
They had also worked with the 2012 Brutal winner on race kit and consequently
wondered if I'd be interested in working with them for the 2015 Brutal Triple
to find the best clothing for me throughout the race. After a long chat
with his R&D guru Ted I was left very excited at the prospect of testing
and developing kit specifically designed for me to race the triple in.
I made the top 5% last year in Ironman which is a miracle given I wasn't
really 'up' for any of the races.
A week after Hardmoors I had another cold which then converted into tonsillitis.
The anti-bi-rockets seem to be working (maybe something to do with me taking
2 extra yesterday thinking they were paracetamol) so hopefully a few more
rest days and then head down all the way to Lanza...
Dec / Jan 2015
'I'm all about that base
'Bout that base, no speedwork
I'm all about that base
'Bout that base, no speedwork
Large dose of LSD has been prescribed (long slow distance not the hallucinogenic
tab) over the winter months. Lots and lots of base building sessions, which
were predominantly aimed at the Spine Race for early Jan. Unfortunately
a combo of colds and work meant pulling the plug on this which didn't come
easily. All the training had been done, extensive (expeditions to North
Pole need less) kit purchased and crew man lined up (cheers Craig). A week
before the off I contacted the organisers and withdrew from the race which
devastated me. I was then left me tracking the athletes/nutters/complete
fruitcakes online as they fought their way 'up North' against the lovely
warm and still weather.
After the disappointment of missing out on the Spine my mojo took a nose
dive what with the next event on the calendar some 5 months away, however
during that week of misery and jealousy of the suffering that the athletes
were relishing a massive light flashed up at the end of the long dark tunnel
which was a bit like the Bat-light although this had UTMB instead of a flying
rat. I'd finally got my place, which also means I don't 'have' to keep UTMB
points topped up and takes the pressure off of completing at least one 100
miler every year. Happy days! The UTMB being at the end of August will also
act as great training for the wee tri at the end of Sept in Wales...
Now my mojo has perked up a bit and the snot has dried up it's time to start
logging some serious miles. With that in mind then maybe another bumpy ultra
in perhaps April would work well. There's a little oner down in Dorset somewhere,
bit of a brute by all accounts...
Bike has been a mix of Wattbike and winter bike so either bored out of my
skull and sweating like a soiled towel in a sauna or freezing me nads off
on slippery roads wrapped up like a spring roll. Roll on spring. Running's
been good, lots of mud, restricted volume of sweat and no flies. Swimming...
yep I still find it hard to show any sign of excitement at the thought of
4km pull buoy at 6am. I have just invested in a waterproof mp3 player, could
be a game changer!
So, for now it's head down on training and start to focus a little on the
events coming up in more detail. Daz is tailoring the programme in his wizard
like ways to ensure I get to each event tip top and ready to launch myself
like a human cannonball. It's going to be a long year of long miles but
a bloody good year! ;-)
Summer is over...
Dragging myself out of bed at 5:45 to swim was almost bearable when it was
light and the birds were singing but now it's pitch black and cold, even
after the swim. Running's ok as it doesn't take much extra clobber to get
out of the door and as all the running is off road it saves time in the
shower as the filth is now stuck to my leggings. The bike however is a different
Daz generally plans me a long ride for a Saturday morning which at the moment
is around 5-6 hours. Now the weather has changed the inner meteoritical
expert in me has appeared and I spend the week checking weather sites and
apps just to confirm that it is going to be wet, windy and bloody cold every
Saturday morning. The fast summer bike with bling wheels gets locked away
and out comes the heavy winter beast with mudguards and lights. Then there's
the clothing gamble, trying to calculate just the right amount of warmth
without overdoing it and carrying too much. Get this wrong and it's game
over and the ride is even more miserable. Last weekend I ventured out with
my local club - Ely Tri Club, on a hill session. I rode in to meet them
with 'big dog' (epic MTB rider) and then the group of approx. 15 headed
out into the 'hills' around Newmarket (for us these are hills). After 7
or 8 miles the first puncture casualty, less than 20 yards after that 'big
dog' had the next, 5 miles later there were 2 at the same time - you're
getting the picture!
Did the OMM long score at the end of October with my crew man, Leights.
Always a great no frills back to basics weekend of running and getting lost
in bigger hills than we're used to. Day 1 went well and we were leading
as we came in, unfortunately this was short lived as we'd miscalculated
the time due to being late in every past attempt, this time we had a spare
hour! Day 2 was ok, we got a little lost but recovered it and then missed
a control towards the end of the day.
The Hereward Relay was on the 23rd November. This has been around for several
years as a 4-person relay race from Peterborough to Ely, mainly off-road.
Within the past 5 years, and with ultra runners beginning to become more
'normal' the organisers opened up an ultra category. Unfortunately the numbers
never really took off so this year they've dropped the ultra, officially.
Unofficially they allowed me to enter as a 1-man relay team as a training
run. It was difficult to get my head round in completing a race without
competitors and with only teams to race against. I decided to take it steady
and use it purely as training, until the gun went off.... The inner beast
saw my conservative 8 min miles drop into the mid 7's and my goal had now
become beating as many relay teams as possible along with my previous time
form 2010. Following a solid night of downpours and heavy ran set to continue
throughout the day some sections of the course resembled Glastonbury at
it's best. Shoe choice was my trusty Inov-8 Tallons, still damp from the
OMM. The only downside with these are on the road sections which are on
the last leg. After stage 1 I settled down to a steady 8 min pace and felt
good, too time at the checkpoints and chipped away at it. Total time was
around 5:20 for the 39m, 10mins better than last time and in far worse conditions.
At least a third of the teams were behind me which was also a bonus!
Next on the hit list is the Spine in Jan... until then it's now scraping
ice off the windscreen for early morning swims and trying to keep upright
on the bike whilst fending off the urge to train indoors..... zzzzzz
I have never written a blog before so please bear with me if I waffle on
about rubbish, I'm sure I'll get better at it as the months go on...
The Brutal Double cropped up a few years back and immediately stole my attention.
Soon after I'd entered and had started to ask advice on how the hell it
was supposed to be tackled. Unfortunately at that time there were only a
few of us up for the mentalness of it and the race was postponed. Fortunately
Claire kept working hard and got it off the ground the following year with
the addition of the half and full distances.
For various reasons I couldn't race until this year when I attempted the
double. Daz worked hard in providing me with good and well structured weekly
training programmes throughout the year in order for me to arrive in Wales
fully prepped up, which I did. The racing year had been scuppered with an
irritating viral chest thingy which I was unable to shake off for the two
IM's I competed in, but some downtime seemed to do the trick. Everything
was in place, we were staying in a house on the bike course just outside
of Llanberis, I'd been up with my crew man Leight's a month previous to
recce the course, I had no viral chest thingy, the weather looked scarily
good, I'd won £25 on the lottery and I was feeling confident...
Confidence is a funny thing. Sometimes it enables you to work well and achieve
everything and some, sometimes it makes you feel invincible and sometimes
it just kicks you in the nuts when you least expect it! As you can probably
guess the latter happened for me at the Brutal this year. The swim went
well, nice and steady - 1st half was 1:14 and 2nd half 1:22 - 3rd out of
the water and feeling great, a little too great. Hit the first bike lap
in 1:45, way too fast by 10 mins so then started holding back as I knew
it'd bite me later on. Managed to get past 2nd and 1st riders and then played
cat and mouse for a few laps with a French dude and his crazy car full of
supporters/crew/groupies/hitchhikers. I'd planned to ride TT bike and then
road when it started getting dark. This didn't go to plan as the road bike
with fancy electronic shifting packed up 5 miles down the road. Lost a good
45mins and the will to live switching everything onto the TT bike and then
went like an idiot to try to regain some time.
Off the bike still feeling good, TC and a French dude somewhere high up
ahead of me as I started up Snowdon. Running is my strongest discipline
and I knew I had the legs to knock out a decent run so off we went, full
of 'confidence' still. 2/3 of the way up something strange was happening,
I couldn't see properly. I was unable to focus on anything and had started
staggering akin to a good Friday night out. What the hell was going on?
I've never had this before, even after running through the night. Legs were
good, everything was good other than my eyes. I told Leight's (epic crewman)
I needed to lay down for a min to get my head together. I stuck all the
clothing I had on, climbed into a foil survival bag and crashed out within
seconds. At this point I was not feeling as confident as I had before, neither
was Leight's, in fact he was getting very worried as the cold had started
to get into me. He woke me up after 10 mins and dragged me down to the medics
tent for a once over and a 'head back down' kind of chat. So that was it,
game over L. My first DNF ever and something I hadn't banked on ever happening
or having to deal with.
I became quite philosophical about my DNF. It had put so much fire in my
belly it's hard to describe. When I woke later that day I was trolling the
www looking for another double to enter immediately, I had unfinished business,
I felt empty and words could not describe my disappointment. Luckily there
were no other races for my knee jerk reaction entry and after spending the
rest of the week in Llanberis the plans for 2015's race were firmly set.
Leight's was up for crewing again and Daz had also agreed to help out. So
that was that, a short wait for entries to open up and bingo, or so I thought...
Claire emailed to say that the entries were going live the following day,
great I thought. The following day I opened the page only to find the 'Brutal
Triple' now being available. Cheers Claire! With my 'If it's there then
do it' approach to pretty much everything in life within minutes my entry
had been accepted and I'd popped a little 'share' on FB much to my families
and friends amusement. Daz got in touch with the words 'you have the engine
for it you will do well', Mrs T said 'you must be bloody mad' and Leight's
said 'I might need some help with the mobile tuck shop now you're doing
the ruddy triple!'.
Daz now has the uber important task of conditioning me over the next 11
months into a triple animal. Along the way there are a couple of IM's and
some ultra's to chew through.
The training never stops...