Monday, 22 June 2009

A Bridge Too Far

The Humber Bridge on race day, Sunday 15 June 2009

I’m pleased to report that last Sunday’s Humber Half Marathon went well. You may recall that my coach, Laith, had given me strict instructions to take it easy, so that my training for San Francisco would not be affected. As a result, I tried to take it easy, run steadily and efficiently. I felt strong and finished in 1:40:06, which was 7 minutes quicker than my PB (personal best). It was the first half marathon I’ve run since 2003 and it shows the difference that Laith’s help has made. Either that or I’m getting better with age. If it’s the latter, and with that rate of improvement, I should be running a world record time just before my 70th birthday. There’s something to look forward to.

I hadn't tapered down my training before the race, so I'm keen to see what I could do with a proper taper and permission from Laith to let rip. I’m tempted to book in a race for late November, once the fivemarathons are over. Preferably a flatter course than in Hull, which was surprisingly hilly, and perhaps on a day that isn't as viciously hot as last Sunday. Shouldn’t be too hard to arrange in late November.

Humber Half Marathon

The Humber Half is a really good race and very well organised. Unlike Barcelona, the distance markers were actually in the right place. The bridge itself has the curious characteristic of appearing to be uphill in both directions. Probably just my legs wishing the race were over. Roll on the Golden Gate and Verrazano Narrows bridges in San Francisco and New York respectively.

I spent last night high in the Lakeland Fells. My good friend, and fellow North Doodle guide, Tei ( in Shap for the weekend and we took the opportunity to complete one of the high mountain camps which are required for our next mountaineering qualification, which specifies a UK overnight camp at over 700 metres. Having camped at over 21,000 feet, you’d think it should have been straightforward, but we managed to turn an otherwise easy task into our customary pantomime. Having chosen Rest Dodd for its relatively out of the way location, we pitched the tent, ate and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Until we checked the map and realised that the summit is only 696 metres. Another fine mess. We discussed the options, not least a re-enactment of The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain to find the missing 4 metres (

I can assure you that our organisation will be flawless for The Lakeland 100 (, when North Doodle will be one of the principal sponsors. The Lakeland 100 (UTLD – Ultra Tour of the Lake District) takes place on the weekend of July 31st-August 2nd and is the most spectacular long distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK. The circular route encompasses the whole of the Lakeland Fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent, and consists entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads south before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale Fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here, the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston. One hundred miles in 48 hours over the Lakeland Fells certainly puts fivemarathons into perspective.

North Doodle will man the Mardale Head checkpoint for the duration of the event. If you’re sufficiently brave and / or foolhardy to take part in the race, we look forward to seeing you there.

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 22 June 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 23 June 2009 Speed work
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 3 miles easy
Thursday, 25 June 2009 10 miles steady
Friday, 26 June 2009 Rest
Saturday, 27 June 2009 Fly to Geneva and transfer to Saas Fee / 4 miles easy
Sunday, 28 June 2009 Climb to Britannia Hut (3,030 metres)

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004