Saturday, 21 December 2013

Specialized Body Geometry FIT

If you've ever thought about having your bike adjusted to your body but found it hard to justify the cost. Or you think it's all a load of mumbo jumbo reserved for the elite fraternity or people with general body issues, then think again.  Following months of uncomfortable rides, recurring knee and achilles injuries, I decided to go for a Specialized Body Geometry Fit and it has transformed the comfort and results of my rides, for the better.  

Why won't you get a professional bike fit?

1. Too much money. You can save it by just copying what people say on YouTube.
2. Too proud.  Why should someone else tell you what you can do yourself. 
3. All mathematical bollocks: What's a few centimetres and degrees here and there, hey?
4. Why worry about injuries: You get them all the time so used to it now.
5. Waiting for a new bike: You're waiting until you get a swanky bike in 3-4 years. 

Why should you get a professional bike fit?

1. Money: In the long run it could be the best investment you ever made.
2. Pride: Because the people doing it actually know more than you. Believe it or not.
3. Angles/Inches: They make the world of difference, especially when it comes to efficiency.
4. Injuries: You've still got them (and moan about them) because you're not addressing them.  
5. I'll wait for a new bike:  Bad excuse. You can transfer you're measurements to pretty much any bike in the future.  You're riding badly because of your setup to the bike NOT whether the bike is the latest carbon race-horse or not, and which of course, will fit you like a glove without any adjustment. Wrong.

Why am I writing this post?

Because I've just had a Specialized Body Geometry Fit and had all the conflicting thoughts that I've highlighted above. Am I glad I did it? You bet. And here's why... 

What is BG FIT?

Firstly, here's what it is. Dr. Andy Pruitt Ed.D., PA of the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine developed BG FIT, which is a comprehensive fit philosophy created to help cyclists ride faster, longer and in greater comfort, while reducing the chance for injury. BG FIT technicians are trained by the medical consultants and expert staff at Specialized to analyse each rider’s unique attributes, pedal stroke and body position.  Using the data gained during the assessment, they optimise the bike and equipment to match the rider’s biomechanical profile.  The technicians have to pass exams to offer the service. 

The process starts with an interview - like going to a psychiatrist and telling them your history and affair with your body and bike - and what you want to achieve with both in the future.

You then go through a series of body evaluations, aimed at building an accurate picture of your flexibility and other physical attributes, including assessment of foot structure, knee position, spinal curve, shoulder extension, hip flexion and leg length, among others.

Your side view is then assessed. The goal is to deliver a correct neutral position that’s both powerful and comfortable through adjustments to seat height, handlebar height, stem length and cleat position.  The technician uses eyesight and camera techniques.

This (below) is the side view to assess foot position. Only a 0.5 cm change on the right foot but the left foot was 2cm out. I thought I had set both cleats up identically - I had - but my feet and legs are different, which is why the dynamic fit shows all this up and proves that what my body wants isn't what they tell you on random YouTube videos.  For instance, I found out my feet actually supinate!!  I've been running for years and have been on numerous machines and assessed by running shops, who didn't notice it. Although I had moulded insoles from Cycle Fit, we still needed to add an insert underneath that on the left foot.

This (below) is the side shot showing the greatest change - the angle of my leg. The saddle was too low and with the adjustment of cleat and saddle, a 10 degree change. This was undoubtedly the cause of the pressure build up on my left knee. The saddle was too low, too far forward and cleats too far forward too.  All small changes but as a whole make for a more comfortable ride.


The biggest change. 10 degrees in leg angle.

Your frontal view is then assessed to optimize hip, knee and foot alignment for greater performance and balanced power delivery. Includes analysis of pedal and shoe placement and squareness on the saddle. The technician uses eyesight and camera techniques.

Again, lots of adjustments along the way, but this highlighted an issue with the left foot/leg.  The supination and minor arch collapse on the left foot was corrected with an insert. As you can see from below the left leg is straighter, with the end result showing that my legs moved up and down in a straight line.  Again, possibly another contributor to a pain on the outside of my left leg. 


After a week or so, the technician contacts you to discuss the effectiveness of the adjustments. My technician is James Bracey (@jamesbracey) at Pedal Heaven, Fleet, Hampshire (@_PedalHeaven), and I know that 'follow-up' means 'come in and chat about it whenever you need to'. It's like a doctor/patient thing.


All things considered, my seat was raised, my bars dropped, my cleats moved, my saddle moved back and all angles adjusted. I won't bore you with all the numbers but I can honestly say I've never felt more comfortable on the bike. This sounds cheesy but I sort of feel like the bike is more of a part of me, whereas before it was uncomfortable and felt like I was fighting it sometimes.  

The investment, in my view, is worth it. The videos and report mean I can take this fitting with me when I upgrade to the next beast, barring any major changes in my body of course.

Do it. It works. No more knee pain or achilles strain - thanks to Mr Bracey at Pedal Heaven and Specialized.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Reach your perfect racing weight

Base training for the year? Dropping the excess weight in preparation for the fastest ultra or Ironman? You're not alone. The more you run, cycle or swim, the more you want to eat!  How the dickens do you know when to stop eating too much, and actually add value to your plan to conquer the world, instead of adding centimetres to your waistband.

This is a good book from Matt Fitzgerald 'Racing Weight' explaining how to get lean for peak performance. Pretty interesting stuff and dispels a few myths, opening your eyes to the right way to do some things.

Mix this up with this book by a chap called James Duigan 'Clean and Lean' approach to food, and you'll start to see changes.  Ignore the very soppy book name which includes the word 'diet' (for extra sales effectiveness no doubt), it actually has some good advice in it, and some good meal plans. He tends to push his own product along the way, but that's par for the course with these things. Trust me, you will look at food and it's benefits slightly differently.

Whilst you're reading those in front of the telly or more appropriately - during your turbo session - check this site out. It's a site aptly named 'I want Six Pack Abs' and vanity aside, it has some great exercises for your core.  It's also perfect for the thick people like me who can't translate an explanation into an exercise without seeing it! Click here to view the site

And then just to ensure you know why you're crunching the hell out of your stomach,  here's a good article on the importance of a strong core with some cracking illustrations and equally impressive medical names.

By Darren Roberts

Friday, 8 February 2013

Core workouts for cycling

Yes, yes, it says its a 'Lance Armstrong' series but I'm more interested in what Peter Parker has to say about core workouts to improve longer rides.

Core blimey

HATE doing this sort of stuff but for the 3 minutes that this takes, got to be worth it.  More core tips for running.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Lacing techniques to reduce foot problems

Got a few foot niggles at the moment, so here's a few useful links I've come across on foot injuries and lacing techniques.  'Foot pain' from and Common injuries in endurance athletes from Osteopath Andrew Peters.  Here's a nice little infographic from REI sports. Includes lacing techniques for different foot problems which is interesting.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

2003 Luz Ardiden still inspires

Just not sure what to feel about Armstrong at the moment. Robbed? The number of hours being inspired reading his books or watching TV. Yes, lots of other cyclists were supposedly doping at the same time, but a decade of lies is hard to back out of. Impossible.

That said, I wall always look at this 2003 Luz Ardiden climb as awesome. Of course, we now know this was chemically-assisted, but the mental strength alone to come back after the crash, will always make me want to get out on the bike.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Buying a good bike light

There's nothing worse than getting caught out in the dark with your pants down, not being able to see what you are doing.  I'm not talking about the latest fling with the farmer girl down the road, I'm talking about being on your bike and suddenly becoming the one thing on the road that has more gravitational pull than the sun.  Add a rubbish set of lights into the mix and you tend to feel just a wee bit exposed.

So, off to the shop you go and check out a new light and WTF!?!.... look at the price of that!  Looks like it's going to have to be another 'sneak into the house without the wife seeing' moment.

Well, I wasn't satisfied with this, so I had a hunt around. Here's my criteria: small(ish), sturdy and bright (damned bright).  Here's a few initial finds:

Lezyne LED Micro Drive 150 Lumen RRP £69.99. (Perfect for commuting apparently. Really? In a well lit London street perhaps.)
Gemini Lights XERA LED 850 Lumen RRP £80.00.
Cateye Nano RRP £99.
Lumicyle Elite RRP £200.
Exposure Reflex 2200 Lumen at a whopping RRP £449.00.

Just as I was resigning myself to spending more, a chap a few doors down from me with a slightly scary fetish for torches, told me about Cree LEDs.  'Brightest things you'll ever get' he grinned, shining his latest 3 inch long model directly into my retina. 'Yes, I can see that' as I reeled backwards down the driveway.

I marched through my front door and fired up the Internet, or as most kids call it now, Google.  'Cree' 'Lights' '1600 lumen'. And there it was, £27 for a front and back light - with a battery, head torch and attachments too. Ordered. Delivered.

And this is it, unbranded and very well made.

On the bike it looks like this:

NB. Battery pack slots nicely under the handlebar but could easily go behind stem.

Does it work? You bet it does. Boooooom - the whole road lit up. I felt empowered again. Visible to everyone else on the road for a change. The front light has 3 settings, of which I use the flashing one, not only at night but daytime too.  The back light is good and has multiple settings. Add a Knog Frog on the back of your helmet for added strobing and you're in business.  Do the maths; 2 of these equal 3200 lumen for 50 odd quid (as opposed to 449 for 2200 lum for the Exposure Reflex).

Where do you get it?
Amazon sell them. Here it is  Why pay more for a hell of alot less I ask?

By the way, I'm not associated to the seller of this kit in any way at all. It's just a similar example and it's good kit.  If you search, you can find alot of similar bundles/offers. I'm just merely opening your eyes to the cheaper options. Hope it worked.

By Darren Roberts

Monday, 14 January 2013

Good base layer for cycling gloves?

Finger pain caused by the cold can turn the first hour of a cycle ride into a very grumpy experience. To the brethren based in climates that are far more extreme than Britian, I tip my hat.  A 0 degrees ride is uncomfortable here, so god knows what a -20 degrees ride is like.  Having said that, everything is always relative, and I'm in the UK, not Canada - and it's ruddy baltic here.

Despite wearing a pair of Endura Strike lined and waterproof gloves (which above 4 degrees are warm) my hands felt like a pile of Birds Eye fish fingers, just out of the freezer. They did eventually warm up but I vowed to find a good base layer to help them function. 

Here's what I've found so far, and it's interesting to see the different combinations of materials - all of which will work in different ways for different people I'm sure. As always, cost is a part of the purchase process and if you look hard enough you can find some good alternative options to the expensive brand offerings.

I started at the obvious places, sport brands, and then moved to the outdoor manufacturers. Then surprisingly, found some great bargains at places like Primark!  You just have to keep saying to yourself 'It's warmth you need, at a good cost, and the damned things are a base layer, so no need for brand logos!'

Icebreaker £18 

Under Armour £15 
Berghaus Power Stretch £13 

Sealskinz £8 
Terra Nova Thinnies £8  
Thermal Silk Liner £8  
Decathlon Silk Liner £5 (if you opt for the luscious pink or pedestrian tan colour they are only £2.99! Bargain.)

Magic Stretch Winter Gloves £0.99!! 
Stretch liner gloves at Primark! Can't find a link but they're about 80p. Booom.

These are just a few and I'll add more as I go. Having had this quick look, it shows you don't need to pay the earth. Let's be honest, the amount of times these damn things get separated from left or right, and the number of times you leave one at the roadside burger van, it might be worth exploring a cheap as chips pair to get the same job done!

(Will test silk ones from Decathlon first, so will post back the result.  If anyone has any other suggestions/experiences, please do comment.)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Wass all this palava about Strava?

When it comes to lighting a fire under my training, Strava is just what the doctor ordered. It's simple: go for a run or cycle (swim etc) and then upload the data to the site. Your times are then pitted against your previous efforts and other people's times. Essentially, it's gamifying sport. Added to that, you get the chance to participate in globally accessible challenges sponsored by big brands eg. Rapha.  

It's interesting to see how your (perceived) herculean efforts stack up against some seriously fit people around the globe.  I'm sad to say the real Hercules does not live in my house.  

Then there's the chance to get a 'King of the Mountain' on a particular section (known as 'segment'). As an article from Outside magazine (below) says, all of a sudden things start to change. I've got 2 KOMs and a CR now, and I can tell you, they took bags of snot, dribble and aggression to achieve, for what I'm not sure, but it felt good. Unfortunately, the damned things will be stripped from my worn-out virtual body before the sun comes up tomorrow. That I can be sure of. Which is why I'll get out of bed and throw more snot and dribble to the wind in an attempt to win it back. 

That folks, is the beauty of Strava.

Nice article from Outside magazine on Strava.  Click here to read

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Achilles is a pain in the ass

Got an achilles problem but not sure what caused it? Join the club. Infact, I only joined the club in the past week and it's very very minor but concern about the effect on training is high - which, ladies and gentlemen, is a head fuck for people like us.

So in the pursuit to make sure it doesn't stop me running, here's some things I've come across. Before starting though, I'd like to add that in no way am I medically qualified to offer advice and have no experience of this injury to backup any of this research - I'm just sharing what I've found and have added some of my own assumptions (for my own injury) which you can ignore at your own will.

What is it?
The achilles tendon connects your calf muscle to the back of your heel. As the Police sang, it does it's duty in every step you take. These videos show what tendons do and what achilles tendonitis is.

What could have caused it?
You know what you were doing around the time of the injury and because alot of us record our efforts on things like Strava, you can track back quite easily.  It could simply be overuse, which is very likely if you're training hard for something. It could be a little less straightforward though. Did you change anything?

Have you changed a component on your bike? Have you introduced a mahoosive hill into your route? Have you changed your trainers or cycling shoes? Have you done too much in one day? Did you change your insole? I started at this point because my intensity and frequency is the same as it ever has been, so it must have been something different.  Track back to when the pain started.

My spidey senses got to the conclusion quite quickly: I did a run and a long bike session in the same day. Yes, you could argue its overuse but I've been doing that for a while. Same trainers for the run. Same bike for the ride.  Or was it? No. I did upgrade my seat the day before. The chap in the shop measured my buttocks on a seat-measuring-tool thing, advised the seat I should buy (which is very comfortable I might add) and fitted it for me and...err... screech to a Roadrunner halt right there.

Did he fit it with the same adjustments as the previous seat?
Did he lower the seat post?
What did he do differently?
Did I ride differently because I had a new seat?
Am I droping my heel or pointing my toes too much?

Whatever happened, it has given me an injury. I'm going to march [hobble] back in there and smack him (not really, nice chap and all that).

What do I do about it now?
Once you've stopped overthinking the problem, do something to fix it. If you're like me, it's the initial stages and is termed as 'acute' not 'chronic'.  If you're not acute and in a lot of pain just walking to the snack cupboard, go to the docs, you damned fool.

Like I said, I don't know what the dickens I'm talking about on this subject but sought some simple advice from the best channel on earth - YouTube.  Lo and behold, the search served-up a straightforward chap who fixes Premier League football players - Neal Reynolds.  Topline is 'don't screw around with this injury'.

Here he describes 3 stages to addressing the problem.

Initial treatment of Achilles Tendonitis

Rehabilitation of the Achilles Tendonitis

Late stage rehabilitation of the Achilles Tendonitis

Exercises to help
Neal mentions eccentric exercises for Achilles tendinopathy to get back on track, so here's a few from La Trobe University Musculoskeletal Research Centre:

Part 1 (bit slow but bare with it)

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Stop doing what you think you did of course.  In my case, there is an immediate need for some bike setup advice - and that's a bigger story - with more Tinternet research. Standby for a post on that.

Lastly, if you've got some KT Tape, here's a supportive strap-up which could be useful.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Swim better, faster and easier

Life's best tips normally come from a friend, so when one handed a new book to me the other day quoting that it changed his swimming dramatically and for the best, I dived into it pretty quick. The book is called Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin and it's good.  Simplifies the way to swim, explaining it in easy steps and hammering it home to you that you don't have to blast it down the ruddy swimming pool as hard and fast as you can.  The concept of making your body as looooong as possible certainly made me change my shit style pretty quick. Of course it introduces more bad days but at least it's for the better. 
Here's another great article on Triathlon Europe 'The Seven Keys To Freestyle Swimming'

Diamond Triathlon Sprint

So I completed my first triathlon last week: sprint distance at Diamond Tri in Eton Dorney, Windsor. Which is strange because I've always been a runner and have actively avoided triathlon. I just didn't see how I would ever get the same emotional connection like I do from ultrarunning.  Triathlon just seemed too aggressive and all about the 'wasted seconds' in transition or on the bike. It didn't seem, well, spiritual enough if you know what I mean. Nope, not for me.

Until now. But why? Three months ago I started cycling to work. At 40-miles each way, it came as a shock at first, but slowly my body acclimatised to the onslaught of commuting and the seemingly never-ending ride home.  Indeed, the first week of the commute killed me. My wife feared for my return. Nothing short of a whole braised minted lamb shoulder would satisfy my hunger and a new respect for regular long-distance cycling began to develop. One month into it, I thought to myself 'you're banging out some miles here boyo, and running at weekends – why not put it to some bloody use?'.

The natural move would have been to sign up for a duathlon and be done with it. Indeed, that may have been the case had I not happened to watch the Brownlee brothers at the Olympics. The sheer determination they showed us moved me so much, I was inspired to get online and sign up for something. Anything, as long as it started with a 't' and ended with a 'riathlon'. So I did. Done. Paid. Then I reminded myself that I'd neglected swimming for way too long...

To cut a short sprint short; I found myself standing thigh deep in the water at Eton Dorney. My first tri in uber-shit weather and I was nervous as a calf in a slaughterhouse. Go!

The swim was surreal, like two worlds: chaos on top of the water and calm underneath with zero sound. The bike was lonely, an almost virtual battle with myself. The run, well, that just happened and I floated through it with absolutely no feeling in my feet.

And it was over. 26th out of 280. 11 whole minutes behind the winner - which is like Earth to the Moon in triathlon. 4th overall in the run and 9th in age group which, by way of reminding me, is Veteran.

I'm in. This year I doff my cap to triathlon. But it has to be with a twist because once an ultra-oriented brain, always one.

Err, waiter, a Norseman please.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Tidball's do Hever Castle Mid Distance

Top effort from Nick and Steve Tidball today, coming in 1st and 3rd. Superb effort gents.  and to dad, Roger Tidball in at 122nd. Grand.

The Norseman Xtreme Triathlon

You just know when you've seen your next challenge. You get a sort of weird feeling that you know its the next big thing to do.  The Norseman looks amazing.  Is that just the best freaking water start ever?? Love it.

Added to that, all the training and hopes for a class finish, could all be dashed half way through the run, which is a marathon uphill - a mountain infact. I say dashed because if you are not in the first 60 people you are stopped from continuing. This is the difference between winning a 'black' or 'white' t-shirt. Black is Top 160. Not sure how a white t-shirt is viewed but I would personally take that as a loss.

The Norseman is a point-to-point tri. 4km swim, 180km bike and 42km run. Check the video out.

Jungle Marathon 2009

Finally committed some photos to a movie. Crude but gives a feeling for some of the race.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The Green Gobblin

Life's a bit of a rush most of the time and I've been searching for the ultimate speedy but nutritious way to break fast. If you commute to work you are probably looking at a 6.30am start every day, and if you're elbows deep in training for an event, you also need to get some trail or gym time in too. Finding the quickest way to get some valuable nutrients on board is a challenge.

The question is: What constitutes a quick nutritious breakfast?

By all accounts it's good to take on vegetables and protein in the morning. Be that as it may, the thought of ramming a load of cooked broccoli and a slab of beef down ones neck at 6 in the morning is just plain bonkers. Not to mention the fact that your missus doesn't really want to be woken up by a layer of burnt steak smoke. 

It's also true that fruit should be a part of your intake. Having said that fruit holds a lot of sugar and a smoothie can quite quickly ramp up the calorie quota.  So, I've concentrated my search on a vegetable smoothie solution. It's taken a while but I've found it. 

The solution appeared via the book called 'Clean and Lean Cookbook' by James Duigan. As well as offering superb crap-free meals, the book offers up some great shakes.  One of them is called "S&M Greens'. God knows what the S&M stands for but it's a good way to take on raw food. Admittedly it looks a little like the green goo that Rene Russo presented in The Thomas Crown Affair, but I've been supping this for 3 weeks now and by jimminy, it's ruddy fantastic. 

So here it is. I've added to the original recipe to get some more calories in and this is marked with an *.

Handful of spinach
Half a green pepper*
Handful of lettuce*
Half an avocado*
1 stalk of celery
1/4 cucumber
Chunk of raw ginger (with skin cut off)
Squeeze of lemon
Tablespoon of Wheat Grass powder*
Teaspoon of Spirulina powder*
50ml of beetroot juice (James White Beet It)*
100ml water

"What the dickens?" you're probably thinking "How can you say that this saves time?".  
Well I'm a sad bugger and I've timed it - it takes 5 minutes max. That's it. All you need is a food processor. Not an expensive one, a simple one like the pictures below - they all do the same damn job after all - it's just that some have posh buttons and plastic on them.  Most importantly, DO NOT use a juicer. Juicers get rid of all the marvellous bits of pulp which is good for you. Chuck it all in, process it and drink the ruddy lot. 

Cost wise, it's not expensive either. An initially outlay for the powders but the rest of it should already be on your shopping list and all you have to do is replace that mahoosive chocolate bar with more green things.

There you have it. I present to you 'THE GREEN GOBBLIN'. It tastes like shit but blimey, it makes you feel good the whole day, and you know you've got a fair few good food items into your system. (Add a bit of honey to make it taste a wee bit better.)  

The Green Gobblin (350 Kcals)

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Trials of the UTMB 2011

2245hrs Friday 26 August.  I pulled the 2XU calf compression socks from the neatly presented packaging, having only worn them once before to test they fitted. I had argued with myself about wearing something new and untested, but talked myself out of my paranoia. What can go wrong? I convinced myself. it's only Lycra. Famous last words....

Click here to see the full post

Great video 

Viva la UTMB.  
By Darren Roberts

Friday, 11 February 2011

UTMB kit list & pictures

Chamonix weather can be beautiful but it can also be brutal. The race is in August and mountain weather at this time of year is very temperamental.  If you are Killian Journet or Jezz Bragg and nailing the course in 20 hours, it is likely that you'll have the very minimum of kit to see you through a day of running.  If you are like me, a normal bloke, you are probably looking for 35-45 hour finish time.  That means two nights and two days of running. So, at the very worst, imagine yourself in a storm from the starter gun to the finish line, and then slap on top of that, 28,000ft of height change and possible snow - for two days. That will help you determine your kit requirements if nothing else. Prepare for the worst....    

Click here to view the Kit List

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Chia what?

Born to Run mentioned that the Tarahumara tribe used Chia seeds in their diet to help their running performance. Bonkers I thought, but being a person who doesn't like knocking things before I've tried them myself, I bought some.

A packet of tiny poppy-like seeds arrived and I set about making the gloopy frog-spawn-like substance. Days later, as all the runners were preparing for the start of the Lakeland 50, I stood in the pouring rain glugging my homemade concoction (sans sugar/lemon). It seemed utterly ridiculous to be doing this instead of noshing on a tasty cookies-and-cream protein bar.  Ten minutes later - we were off. God knows if it was the seeds, but my first 22 miles were run fast with the front group, something I never do, and it felt damn good. If it wasn't for a major attack of the cramps clouding an otherwise good day, I would have said that the chia seeds played their part. They definitely had an effect. Not sure what and maybe it was psyco-somatic, who knows.  

Anyway, thought I'd share a few resources on these supposedly magic seeds. Try them.    

Buying them:  You can buy off Amazon but its more expensive (P&P is double on Chia4UK though)
Making them: 
Runners videos on seeds:

Saturday, 29 January 2011

"I cut my balls off because they got in my way"

Ironman vs. Ultra-runner. Brilliant video from James Adams @ (tweet from @PolarOliver )

Is £24 for an 8-mile off-roader justifiable?

I ran the GRIM Challenge for the 4th time a couple of weekends ago. The race has grown in popularity since if first started and I remember racing against 100's in the first race over 6 years ago. Now there are thousands of people of all levels of fitness.

This year was more about encouraging my younger brother to get off his arse. At the age of 37 he's out-of-shape. He did it and it was good to see other people out and getting fitter but it occurred to me half way round that this is one hell of an expensive fun run - £24 for an off-road 8 miler. Now that is an expensive gig considering any decent running club hosts similar races and charges around a fiver! Lets say about 5000-7000 people signed up to race The Grim - that's £120,000 - 168,000. OMFG!

The finishers bag didn't exactly match up to the price either - a t-shirt, a plastic water bottle, a small protein bar and an energy powder sachet. Compare this to the Helly Hensen Adventure Series and it pales into insignificance - baseball cap, t-shirt, lots of different food bars, stickers etc etc.
My point: Is this taking advantage of the 2-times-per-year-not-so-fit wannabee-fit-person? Damn right it is.

I paid to race The Grim this time but no more. That fee is the same price as a yearly membership at the local athletics club - The Fleet and Crookham Athletics Club, a place with like-minded people where you can improve/run Tues, Thurs and weekend - that's roughly 100-150 times for the same damn price as 1 day at The Grim.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ultra reflection

Not sure why, but this piece of music from The Cinematic Orchestra seems like the perfect track to reflect on 100-miles just run...

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010

UTMB: UK Qualifying Races

Source: UTMB website 17/10/10.

Race Distance Elevation Points
AFOOT IN TWO DALES 81km 1700m+ 2
BEACONS ULTRA 72km 1700m+ 1
CLASSIC QUARTER 70km 2090m+ 2
COAST CHALLENGE 160km 10000m+ 3
DORSET DODLE 53km 1400m+ 1
EAGLE ISLE ULTRA 120km ??? 2
HARDMOORS 110 ULTRA 177km 5900m+ 4
LAKELAND 100 161km 6300m+ 4
LAKELAND 50 81km 3350m+ 2
LDWA 100 161km 4030m+ 4
LONDON TO BRIGHTON 90km 1480m+ 2
LYKE WAKE RACE 67km 1200m+ 1
OLD COUNTY TOPS 60km 3000m+ 2
OXFAM TRAILWALKER 100km 2755m+ 2
ROUND THE ISLAND 111km 735m+ 1
ROUND THE ROCK 76km 1000m+ 1
SENI EXTREME 200 322km 2000m+ 4
SOUTH DOWNS WAY RACE 164km 4145m+ 4
SPAR COAST 168km 5000m+ 3
THAMES TROT 80km 240m+ 1
THE BOB GRAHAM ROUND 116km 8230m+ 4
THE FELLSMAN 100km 3500m+ 3
THE LONGMYND HIKE 81km 2400m+ 2
TOWN2TRING - TRING2TOWN 128km 200m+ 2

NB. it's worth checking this page to see the list of past years qualifying races.

(If anyone knows the elevation of those missed out, leave a comment please)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

UTMB - as it finished

Been following a few mates all weekend - they did an incredible job. From a selection of people en route tweeting/blogging, here's what happened in the midst of all the confusion (as far as I can tell anyway):

The full race (166km/103miles) was cancelled at Col de la Seigne due to severe weather and landslide Everyone was bused back to Chamonix and 1300 selected to run a mini-UTMB the following day at 10am - starting from Cormayeur.

A lot of unhappy people but generally recognised that safety comes first. A few of the North Face guys properly upset from disappointment (Check the muscle strapping - amazing) The weather was grim. One lead runner of the CCC rolled in with mild hypothermia! Here's a video of the organisers explaining why the race was cancelled

The restart route course followed that of the CCC, which happens every year in addition to the full course and starts at Cormayeur. It is 98km (60miles). The weather at the start was pretty good, sun was out, but in patches throughout the day it continued to be uber-shite. Here's a vid of the start Check out the cloud level and snow in the background. Reports of snow down as low as 2000-2500 metres during the night looked to be true.

Some of the elite runners, such as Killian Journet, who won the full route last year - opted not to run the shorter route. In the end, Jez Bragg won in 10:30:37, 8 minutes ahead of Mike Wolfe (fellow runner from the jungle). Lizzie Hawker won for the 3rd time - making it a double Brit win (11:47:30). Ace. Here's Jez's pre-race interview Here's mid-race video and here's a video of Mike & Jez at the end (Incredible effort Mike!) As you can see - the end of this race is unbelievable in terms of spectator support - it's also like that for the normal people amongst us too. You've got to experience it - its amazing.

So, here's how Alex and Nick faired on their first trip to the best race in the world:

Nick 'I have a permanent smile' Wright, and a mate called Joe Gale ran together and finished together. Results put these guys across the finish line in 18:18:17 & 18:18:18 - 434th and 435th. Damned excellent effort Nick. Here's a breakdown of your race

As for Mr Alex 'the student who runs like a horse' Bamford, he had a cracker too. He got to the 1st checkpoint in 568th position. He finished in 208th and 101st in his category (23-39yrs). Supreme effort. He crossed the line in 16:06:34. Here's your journey Brilliant.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc 2010 has started

By Darren Roberts

It's hard not to feel very jealous of the folks starting the race today. The UTMB is possibly one of the biggest physical and mental experiences of your life. It was awesome last year. 106 miles with 28000 feet of ascent, passing through 3 countries - France > Italy > Switzerland > France. Jaw-dropping scenery.

My thoughts go out to 5 people today: Alex Bamford - my team-mate on The Jungle Marathon, Nick Wright - a fellow-runner from The Namibian 24-hour Ultra, Andrew 'Bullet' James - an old Army buddy, Tracy Garneau and Mike Wolfe - fellow runners on The Jungle Marathon, who also race for The North Face. All top, top people.

2 hours + ago, they all started the UTMB 2010. Mike and Tracy spoke about the race on a bit of content that The North Face published. Click here to view the video

My thoughts however linger on Alex and Bullet. Alex texted me today to say that he had woken up this morning with some sort of fever and didn't feel at all well. Didn't sound good but could just be 'race fever' I guess. Whatever it is - 106 miles with the flu is shite - he's hard though - hope he's still going..

The other is Bullet. He's nails. He's also a proper old school gent and a bit of a loon. He came 1st in the Lakeland 50 this year in a quite stunning time of 7hrs 46mins (or something like that anyway - awesome). He went to Chamonix a few weeks ago to 'test' the route out - and ended up pulling a muscle or something. He's gone dark since and I have no idea if he started today... but his aim is to beat the British record of 24 hours or something.

Who knows.... we will in 30-20 hours or so.... I remember last years race, thinking "I've been running for 2 days and folks back home have got up, done a days of stuff and gone to bed twice"

They'll start the race to this Conquest of Paradise