Monday, 14 September 2009

Chippenham Course Record

Its been a few months since I laced up my racers so it was great to blow away the cobwebs at the Chippenham Half Marathon on Sunday and come away with the win and new course record having taken 39 seconds off Dave Mitchinson's time from last year.

Racing half marathon's during a marathon build up is always a tricky one for me and probably the main reason why my half marathon PB is totally out of line with my 10k and marathon times. Invariably I'm running on tired legs and in the groove of marathon pace as that's what i'm actually training for. And yesterday was no exception. The first few miles felt as if my legs were going to fall off they were so stiff and tired from a really hard 10 day training block. It was good to have some company for those first 5 miles before I was able to ease away and settle into a nice rythmn. The last mile had the benefit of a few hundred metres of downhill which made for a nice fast finish which I'm sure will have been welcomed by most of the runners.

The event itself was really well organised. I would say that this is the best medium sized race I have been to in the UK in terms of organisation and the race 'village' on the cricket field was excellent. With a bonus for a course record and a pair of Saucony running shoes from local sports store Sportzform it was also a profitable morning's work.

The women's race was won by the fast improving Helen Taranowski of Coventry Godiva and in the vets categories the evergreen Zina Marchant of Bath ran away with the V55 prize in 1hr 35 mins.

Photos: Diane Vose, Wiltshire Gazette and Herald


1. 69:36
Adrian Marriott
2. 72:41
Stephen Paterson
3. 72:59
Martin Shore
4. 74:34
Tom Fisher
5. 75:24
Darren McNeely

Full Results

In the news:
This is Wiltshire
Chippenham Half Marathon

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Autumn marathon plans

Berlin ? Chicago ? Amsterdam ? No to all of the above and yes to 50km round Gibraltar at the end of October. Its not April Fools day or a typo, I just fancied something different this autumn and believe it or not there is some method in the apparent madness of racing 50km around the 'rock'.

The race is the IAU World Trophy race and i'm lucky enough to have been selected off the back of five consistent marathons in recent years. So why this one ? Well most of my marathons have been pretty lonely affairs. Its a harsh reality that if you are running the pace I do then there are not many folks for company these days. To be in a group you have to be ready to run 63 for halfway in a big marathon and even the small races will tend to go out in 65 even if the winning time ends up around the 2.15 mark. Last autumn I tried to be clever and run a smaller race in Geneva so that I could actually be competitve and even that turned into a burn up after a steady first km. So with an extra 8km, a testing course and some warm weather I reckon I should have a better chance of being in a decent sized group for at least half the race. And i'm looking forward to the prospect of racing out the second half.

As for preparation, well 50km is fairly similar to 42km so I'm following a normal marathon build focused on being in about 2.17 shape and putting in a couple of longer runs just to get the feel of being on my feet for close to 3 hours. then come race day just run a bit slower to conserve fuel and see what happens in the last 10km ! Training is going well and last week I hit my first long MP session at 3.14/km and felt good which is always encouraging.

Come spring 2010 I will be back to 42km in London and the trials for the Europeans and Commonwealths which should both be wide open with a qualifying time of 2.18

For now my next race will be the Chippenham Half Marathon this weekend which I'm looking forward to.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Live High, Train Low - in Europe

I've just got back from a couple of weeks training in the alps and things went pretty well. After numerous trips to altitude over the last 5 years i'm now at the point where acclimatisation happens very quickly so I can basically continue normal training as soon as I arrive, with a few adjustments to pace. Even this only amounts to about 5 seconds per km at this altitude. This rapid adjustment makes a hug difference in a two week trip whereas once upon a time I would have spent the first week taking it easy and acclimatising.

St Moritz is my favoured location (below, in the distance as viewed from Muottas Muragl) for the same reason as many others use it as a summer base. Plenty of trails, easily accessible track and reasonable cost at this time of year. We were particularly lucky with the weather this year. After a miserable July that included snow August turned out to be stunning with blue sky and temperatures in the 20s most days. You really couldn't ask for more.

With the Worlds on during my first week there weren't too many top athletes around though Kara Goucher and Adam were around until 3 or 4 days before her race which I found interesting. Not many mzungu runners can race well coming straight down from altitude - i've tried it several times and only had one good run (15km XC), the other efforts have been woeful. Clearly they had worked something out that was good for her and i'm guessing it may be something to do with sleeping in an altitude tent most of the time which would make the 6000 feet of St Moritz feel OK. After the championships the rest of the Salazar group appeared and american readers would have been dribbling into their Gatorade at the sight of Rupp, Ritz and Teg on the track.

Anyway back to the title of the post and the Goucher bit was a weak attempt at a link to 'live high - train low'. While in St Moritz we paid a visit to Muottas Muragl, a 2500 metres (8000 feet) bluff overlooking Pontresina and the inspiration for Bloefeld's lair in Ian Fleming's 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' (although the movie was filmed in the rotating restaraunt on the Schilthorn). Perched on top of the cliff is a hotel (left) and heading out into the mountains behind it are a number of trails on which you can do easy runs. The hotel is used by a number of Swiss athletes, especially triathletes and marathon runner Viktor Rothlin who was in residence with his wife and 'rabbit' when we visited. while the 10 minute funicular railway ride to the valley floor is a bit of a pain of you were doing it several times a day it is manageable and their are plenty of trails from the bottom of the railway in both directions along the valley floor at 1800m.

First week back at sea level has gone really well, after a couple of days feeling flat the legs have felt good and I'm really looking forward to racing again and testing my fitness in advance of my October marathon.