Friday, 29 July 2011

Etape Bornholm Stage 5 results

Hot off the press from tonights final 10k stage as we make our way home.

Ben saved his best until last pulling an awesome finnish to surprise everyone. Having been dropped in the woods at 6km as Martin hit the front and pushed the pace, Ben rose to the challenge with a big move late in the day. Sniffing the consolation prize he threw everything into the final minutes to catch Jussi on the line.

Martin kept up his record of 4th places with another near miss for a stage podium and i had another good race. On a night after truly awful weather the course was waterlogged in places and a stiff wind made for tricky running. While most folks were a minute down on their stage 1 runs i was just over 10 seconds and secure in 10th overall (left Top10 from left Jussi, David Nilsson, Ben & Martin).

Stage Results|1|M

Final Overall Results|1|M

With a 4am start to the long trip home the boys took the opportunity for a cheeky nap on the ferry after a big breakfast (below)

Etape Bornholm Stage 4 Results

Day 4 and the rain arrived with a vengeance to turn the course into a mudbath more suited to a cross country race at home. Starting by the harbour at Hammershus Havn against a backdrop of wind and rain lashing the harbour wall the route quickly climbed up to the cliff top overlooking northen europes biggest medieval castle.

In a bid to repeat yesterdays stage 3 victory Ben was again pushing the pace at the front with Jussi and David in tow. Martin was again isolated in 4th and i had a poor start today and found myself well down after 1km.

Things improved for me mid race and with Martin in sight i was able to work my way through to 7th place. Up front Ben slipped off the pace on the narrow muddy paths at 5k.

So with a kilometre to go we were all bracing ourselves for the uphill finish, and what a finish. 500m up the side of the cliff to the lighthouse. With an extra timing mat at the bottom to get our times for the climb the race was on. After 300m of steep, slippy grass we hit the tarmac and 3 sharp hairpins Alpe d'huez style including names painted on the road and a tightly packed crowd. Great atmosphere !!

Ben couldnt respond to the flying fin and ended up third but still in with a shout of snatching 2nd overall in the final stage. Martin was solid in 4th with a monster sprint finish and i gave up 3 places after towing the third group to the foot of the climb.

The final day is a flat 10k road stage and no doubts there will be some tired legs around so the top 10 could change around quite dramatically.

Stage Results|1|M

Overall after 4 stages|1|M

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Etape Bornholm stage 3 results

The British challenge really got going today led by Ben's stage victory in the 8k forest race. With an undulating course similar to a domestic cross country profile and good underfoot conditions we were able to crank out 5 min miles before the sting in the tail finish, a sharp climb of 300m metres.

With two races in the legs and not getting home until 10pm mornings are focused on recovery with an easy shakeout run, dip in the baltic, a big breakfast to replenish the glycogen stores and some stretching to get loosened up (left, above).

Taking the lead in the first mile Ben steadily built his lead to come home 18 seconds clear of race leader Jussi Utrainen to give himself a fighting chance of catching the race leaders in the final 2 stages.

Martin had a good day consolidating his 4th place overall with 4th on the stage and i had my best run so far finishing 8th and just a few seconds from 5th. I'm still 11th overall but now with three positions within touching distance so plenty to run for on stage 4th.

Our diet of fish and potatoes got some variety today with a trip to a local pizza restaurant where we celebrated Bens win with a glass of local beer and an ice cream on top of our mid-morning Danish pastries (left) which may have been the secret ingredient in Ben's victory.

Thursday the race moves on to our local course in Sandvig. An 8k race on a hilly course with a gut wrenching climb up the cliffs to the lighthouse to finish. Should fun and theres plenty of scope to make up time if rivals crack on the final climb !

Overall results after stage 3|1|M

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bornholm stage 2

The fightback began along the shoreline of Dueodde with my Wells clubmate Ben Tickner taking second place after a very close race with stage 1 winner Jussi Utrainen.

With 2km along the beach (left by Jens-Erik Larsen), a short loop through the village and another stretch of beach before the final climb through the dunes todays stage is almost certainly one of the hardest of the week.

The early pace was red hot with a cash prize at the sprint prime after 1.5km and i was well off the pace and struggling early on while Ben tracked Jussi a few metres behing the glory hunters. A bit further back Martin was hanging on gamely to protect his overall position on his least favourite surface.

With the sprint out of the way the sharp ended turned into. Head to head between Ben and Jussi while i picked my way through those who went out to hard and martin was limiting his losses against the other leaders. A brutal final kilometre through the dunes in deep soft sand was a real strength sapper. Martin held on for 9th and i was a few places behind in 12th place (finish left by Jens-Erik Larsen).

Roll on tomorrow and the undulating 8k forest race which should be our kind of course.

Writing this on the bus back to base there is stunning sunset over the baltic and the prospect of freshly smoked makerel for dinner courtesy of Martin and Bens foraging skills this morning.

Full results at

Bornholm stage 1

Day 1 proved pretty eventful for the british contingent of Martin Williams, Ben Tickner and myself at this 5 day stage race. After a late arrival last night (Bornholm harbour left) we are staying in a lovely little cottage in the north of the island and the other invited runners are spread out around the village.

Stage 1 was a 10k race starting on the road before following the shoreline for a few kms in the forest. It was still a pretty quick course though. First to show were Ben and Martin along with last years runner up, David Nilsson from Sweden and 62 minute man Jussi Utrainen of Finland. I was tucked nicely into the second group and trying to keep out of trouble...

By half way Jussi had a made a break and Martin was placed a handy third with Ben somewhere in the forest taking a comfort break. Meanwhile I had taken on the pace in the second group only to get tripped from behind at 4k as folks went head down to check their garmins. I did a 'Wiggins' and hit the tarmac hard. After surveying the damage (cuts and bruises but nothing out of place) I got going again and managed to reel in half the group by the finish before getting patched by the Danish para-medics.

Ben ticked along in 4th but GB honours and our in house green jersey went to Martin for a strong 3rd place in 30.39. This morning watching the tv highlights he was finishing better than anyone in the Top 10 which bodes well for the rest of the week. As for Ben and me, well weve got some hard work to do to climb back up the GC, starting in this evenings 6k beach race.

1 819 Jussi Utriainen Lahden Ahkera FIN

2 783 David Nilsson Högby IF SWE

3 1984 Martin Mccallum Williams Tipton Harriers GBR

4 1982 Ben Tickner Wells City Harriers GBR

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Taking 'down' weeks

Marathoners will know the feeling well. A week or so into the pre-race taper you feel very tired to the point of being totally exhausted. Even very easy runs seems like a struggle whereas just a few days earlier knocking out another brutual 22 miler seemed like a piece of cake. You wonder what on earth is going on.

I was remined of this feeling this week. After a good block of training including some long tempos and a fun 2hours 40mins with 6000feet of ascent at the weekend I'm taking a 'down' week and today I felt really tired, even running easily. Thats my body telling me that the last few weeks have been a good stressor and now I need to recover to take my fitness to the next level.

The body is very good at getting into a rythmn of handling hard work week after week. It learns to fool itself about its true level of fatugue. And in that fooling lies a potential elephant trap that most runners have fallen into at some point. Feeling invincible you keep pushing and pushing until you go completely over the edge and breakdown with illness or injury or worse still overtraining which requires a period of sustained rest to get over.

We all know that fitness comes from repeated cycles of stress and recovery to produce adaptation. So what can we do to give our body the best chance to adapt ? Regular 'down' weeks are a staple for many elite level runners and work just as well for club runners. Inefffect they serve as a mini-taper. The idea being to take quite a big drop in training laod for a week every 3rd or 4th week.

What does a big drop actually mean ? Well some runners will go for a 50% reduction in training load. So three weeks of 80 miles would be followed by 40 for example. Hard workouts would see a correspong drop in the volume of faster miles run (though you need to maintain the pace to keep the neural pathways ticking over). The temptation is to go for just a small reduction (usually induced by fear that less training = losing fitness) whereas if you are really taking a 'down' week then you should make it really down. The use that freshness for the next training block.

So ask yourself whether you have been running the same training for a while or reached a bit of plateau ? Then take a down week and recharge the batteries then take your training to a new level the week after.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Bornholm Stage Race 2011

With the Tour de France starting today stage racing comes to the front of many sportsmans minds. While the science of cycling (wind resistance at speed, very different physiological profiles of climbers and sprints etc) makes it ideally suited to team tactics and multiple stages there are also some running stage races around.

I've got memories of the Sunlife Great Race in 1990 which I think lasted 2 weeks and was a big breakthrough event for Paul Evans. And for a few years there was a week long race in the North East of England.

Though the format seems to have fallen out of favour here there are plenty of week long race series in Europe
and one of the most popular is the Etape Bornholm, held in the last week of July on the Baltic island of Bornholm (Denmark). With over 1000 runners and childrens races as well its a certainly an event to be taken seriously and this year I will be racing it for the first along with a handful of other Brits making the trip. I'm really looking forward to it and the format of 5 different surfaces/terrains adding up to a marathon distance should provide plenty of challenges.

Technology permitting I will be posting a daily report after each stage and hopefully some interviews with leading athletes. It should be a fun week !