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Post by Gaynor kay – February 2017

Increasing the miles was going to be the toughest  challenge for me – not just because its further to run, but its the time it also takes up as well.

I had incorporated the miles in with park run so that I managed to carry on with that helping keep in touch with friends briefly before and afterwards but it also breaks up the longer distance nicely.

After the Helsby Half I really felt awful and it was a good few days before the cough and aches subsided.  I didn’t run for three days and then when I did go out on the Thursday it was for a very easy 3 mile run with Harmony and the buggy.

Week seven of the marathon training that I am loosely sticking too – at least for the long weekend runs required a 15 mile run that weekend.  Perhaps unwisely I decided to run to the stables on the Friday afternoon with the buggy for a 5.5 miler but it didn’t seem to have an effect on me that Saturday morning.  I actually felt very good the whole way around.  Considering how rough I had felt the previous Sunday where it literally felt like someone had pulled out my batteries I felt absolutely fine and even after the 15.2 miles could have kept going.

This was the first time I had run to park run from home in Lymm into Warrington.  A couple of years ago the thought of that would have seemed impossible and yet now it feels quite natural to just be able to go out there and run that distance.  Mike Hall had offered me the option that if I felt terrible after Parkrun that he would drive me back home.

The run was also a good test for my new running shoes which felt great.  Think they are properly bedded in now.  I could feel a bit of niggling with my left arch but I thinks that mainly because the support in the others had completely gone and I have always had problems with the left arch.

Thankfully I didn’t need the lift and set off after saying goodbye to Mike Hall and Louise Blizzard (who asked if I would make it next week for her 100th run).

It is 14 miles roughly from home to park run, park run and then back again so I had tried to work out the extra bit of mileage on my run the previous afternoon.  However I had not banked on loosing GPS signal just after running under the M6 Thelwall viaduct.  I didn’t get the signal back until after getting to the end of Dane Bank Road when I was almost home.  I calculated in my head, having run that distance so often that it was roughly 1.4 miles that had been missed off.  I added the loop that I had calculated the previous day around Bollin Drive to add on the distance to get me eventually to around 15.2 miles.  Time to complete 2.23.43 with an average pace of 9.27/mile.

With that in mind I was very close to entering the Manchester Marathon but to make sure I just want to get that first 17 mile run in (week 9) and then if that feels good then I have no excuses.

I managed to get out a few times with the buggy for week 8, and the third was perhaps an unwise decision given it was so frosty and cold.  I don’t think it did me any good although Harmony was well rugged up I think by the last 10 minutes on the way back she was fed up and we were both glad to be in the home and warm.

Saturday I really dithered about whether to run or not.  The plan was for a 9 mile run – so just to park run from the stables and back.  I really wanted to be there for Louise’s 100th run as well but it was raining and I had started to worry about the possibility that the soreness on one of my toes on my right foot was a chillblain – which obviously wouldn’t be helped by getting wet feet.

Anyway I eventually decided to do it.  I ran the first 3 miles with an average pace of 8.33/mile and then Mike and I zoomed around park run with a 25.14.  Mike seems to be doing really well recovering from his injury and I’m looking forward to when we can start to run faster again hopefully in the summer and we can both aim to smash some silver standards.  At the moment though the running is about clocking up miles and not about running fast.

I did end up with soaking wet feet and a 9.1 mile run with average pace of 8.33/mile.

I ended January with a couple of buggy runs to finish with 100.4 miles for the month.  It seems bizarre to me that now that I have supposed started training for a marathon my mileage has actually gone down!  I think the main reason is I have shortened the runs in the week because of the cold weather and not wanting to stay out there with Harmony in the buggy whilst it has been so bitter.

Today after being told by the doctor that my sores are chillblains and giving me some advice on how to treat them and to carry on running as that will help the circulation, I set off for a longer run with Harmony.  The weather much warmer at 11 degrees.  Wind was blowing and there was a brief threat of rain but then the sun came out.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable run of 6.3 miles up through Grundy Park and onto Barsbanks then down the main road past the dam up to Outrington and then down around Wet Gate Lane.  Very enjoyable and even had Harmony asleep since getting home for an hour too.

I’ll write more about the chillblains when I try things out and see what actually works.  So keep posted for that information.

This Sunday is a planned 17 miles.  I have worked out that if I set off at 7.30am and run down to the stables (2.6 miles) and then turn Libby out and then run from Thelwall to High Legh where Lymm Runners are doing a practice run of the High Legh 10k (another 4.2 miles), then the High Legh 10k run (6.2 miles) leaving me 3 miles to get home. This takes me to 16 miles so I just need to run the long way back home which should get me to roughly 17 miles.  I imagine with the High LEgh 10k route starting at 9am, that I should get back home at some point around 11am.  Seems like a very long time but with stops and starts, and turning out horses clearly it would be longer than if I just ran the 17 miles.  At least this way I feel like it is achievable.  If I manage this distance okay then I am entering the Manchester Marathon.  I’m not going to convince myself otherwise!

Post by Samantha Tennant – August 2016

Olympic Track Trivia


To mark the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics track events here is a little quiz to test your knowledge (and maybe your age)

1. What was unusual about the winner of the marathon in Rome 1960?

2.Who won four gold medals in track and field in LA 1984, duplicating Jesse Owens achievement of 1936?

3.Which 80’s middle distance rivals barely ever met outside of Olympic finals?

4.Where did Derek Redmond finish in the 400m final in Barcelona, 1992?

5.Which track athlete was the poster girl for Sydney 2000?

6.What was remarkable about Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100m final in Beijing 2008?

7.What nationality was the gold medal winner for the men’s 100m in Moscow 1980?

8.What did America’s David Neville do to claim his bronze medal in the 400m final in Beijing 2008?

9.Which Olympics saw the first women’s marathon

10. How old was Linford Christie when he won gold for 100m in Barcelona, 1992?

1. Abebe Bilika of Ethiopia ran barefoot. He completed the course in 2hrs 14 mins 16.2s.
2. Carl Lewis took gold in 100m, 200m, long jump and the 4x400m relay.
3. Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett only met six times, four of those meetings were Olympic
finals for 800m and 1,500m.
4. Derek Redmond officially did not finish. He tore a hamstring but was so determined to
cross the line that he hobbled on, helped in the final straight by his father. He talks about it
5. Cathy Freeman was the first ever Aboriginal Olympic gold medallist in a track event and lit
the torch at the opening ceremony.
6. Bolt had one shoelace untied but set a new world record of 9.69 seconds.
7. Running for Great Britain, Allan Wells from Edinburgh won in 10.25 seconds. The USA
and Caribbean boycotted the games.
8. Neville literally dove across the line:
9. Los Angeles 1984. Before the introduction of 1500m in Moscow 1980 the longest race
available to women was 800m, and even then not at every games!

Post by Samantha Tennant on 7 October 2015

Running  Bug  is  hosting  an  ongoing  online  survey  asking  “Are  event  entry  fees  too expensive?  Have race organisers got greedy? Has running become too big a business? Is running now a middle class activity? Or are the costs fair?

Currently 89% say prices are too high and only 11% think they are reasonable, but then different runners value different aspects of a race.  Perhaps a better way to qualify whether the event is value for money is to ask if we’re happy to pay for what the race has to offer. Do we just want an accurate race time, or do we want a more memorable experience complete with the bling?  Would you prefer to be able to opt out of the medal?  Are high prices a barrier to people on low incomes who want to enter races to give their training focus?  Are young people being priced out?  As long as the cost is proportionate, does it matter whether it’s 5k or a marathon?

One argument is simply that the organisers charge what people are willing to pay.  At £230 the New York Marathon is extraordinarily expensive but over 50,000 people finished it last year and countless others who wanted a place didn’t get one. Surely there is no incentive to reduce high entry fees when that many people are keen to hand over the cash.  Race organisers would point to the costs involved in staging a race, which don’t necessarily decrease  with  shorter  distances.   Road  closures,  insurance,  chip  timing  systems,  refreshment stations,  finishing  medals,  T-shirts,  goody  bags,  advertising,  the  list  goes  on.   Even  with partnerships  and sponsorship  the  costs  soon add up.  There  will  be  plenty  of  keen  volunteers offering their services for free, but there may be paid staff too.  And although distance is not a determining factor not all races are equal; its hard to compare a race involving major road closures in central London with a rural race across open parkland.

An article in The Washington Post outlined a breakdown of the costs of the Marine Corps Marathon (a relatively cheap US one).  They reckoned that the 2013 entry fee of $99 per person was spent as follows:

  • $36 for course operations – toilets, buses, chip timing, rubbish and the like.
  • $34 for “event enhancement” – entertainment, advertising and the pre-event expo.
  • $34 on security.
  • $22 on “other ops” – staff salaries, utilities, vehicles etc.
  • $13 on your bling – the race numbers and pins, T-shirt, and medal.
  • $12 on food, including the aid stations within the race (and doughnuts at mile 24 ).
  • $6 on registration, which is likely to include whatever online registration system they use.
The total cost per runner adds up to more to than $99 (to $157 in fact) as sponsors make up the difference in either cash or provisions.
Seven of the top 10 costliest marathons are in the US.  Entry to the New York City Marathon would set a UK adult back around £230 – that’s £8.76 per mile and excludes the non-refundable $11“processing fee” payable upon application.  So how do UK marathons compare, and interestingly how much would you be prepared to pay per mile?
Thankfully there are still plenty of lower key events that happen every weekend across the UK.  An online commentator responding to an article on race costs observed “If you want value for money, you need to take up fell running.  Typical race entry fee £5.  You’ll probably get a pie at the finish as well.”
Realistically, in the big scale of things, running is a relatively cheap hobby, especially at entry level.  The biggest investment you need to make to begin with is a good pair of shoes.  Of course after that there comes the “would be nice to have” list and then the sky is the limit but steering family towards the right kind of socks for Christmas can be a positive thing.  Personal circumstances mean that I am not able to “compete” as much as I would like to, but if like me you look at an event as a sociable day out doing something you enjoy then I think it starts to look like pretty good value.
UK’s best value Ultras (starting at £7)


Post by Samantha Tennant on 30 July 2015

“You are a triathlete” – four words I never imagined anyone would ever say to me.

OK so Deva Divas wasn’t an olympic event but at the weekend I and a couple of hundred other women of all shapes, sizes and ages lost our triathlon virginity.



We swam 750m in a cold river, the bottom of which couldn’t be seen but felt like deep slime, then hauled ourselves out and ran to transition.  Getting out of a wetsuit is not easy at the best of times but it was managed whilst running towards our bikes which had to be identified in a sea of others.

We ran, pushing our bikes, to the mount line then cycled 25km into the wind and rain avoiding traffic and potholes without the benefit of fully padded cycling shorts.  Then on dismount we had to run on jelly legs to find where on earth the bike should be re-racked. 

Still a bit wobbly and, in my case, with frozen feet (I felt I was running on stumps) we then ran 5km.  To add a little insult to injury this was composed of two laps and only a stretch of orange netting separated the end of lap one from the finish line, very tempting!

Looking back I find myself getting frustrated about some elements.  My swim did not go well!  I couldn’t get my breathing into a rhythm (probably psychological) and ended up swimming backstroke and not in a particularly straight line.  I struggled to find my bike at T1 because I ran straight past it instead of concentrating.  

And then I stop and remind myself that I finished.  I did what many people walking along the street believe they are incapable of and will never achieve because they will never ask it of themselves.  One of the biggest things I have learned about myself over the past few months of training is that when you think you’re body has done enough, that you’re pleased that you kept up and completed the session, you can always do just a little bit more.  Whether its running up a hill to collect cones or cycling home, I surprise myself on a regular basis.   I  will never be in the same league as our little running club’s elite athletes who time and time again achieve awesome goals, but, like them, I’ll still try to reach for the next step.  Standing in the middle of the Dee waiting for the hooter on Sunday I still wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the finish line but I did, and I did it sprinting.

You may think I’m mad but I’ve already entered my next one and if I can do it so can you, your self-confidence will thank you!

A guide for beginners:

List of events:

One to keep the elites happy:


Post by Samantha Tennant on 15 July 2015

Shoe Shopping

I’m not a “girly” girl but I do like shoes.  As I’m not blessed with slender feet shopping for them is always a frustrating experience but one undertaken with minimal encouragement.  Now before I lose the gents completely, yes this is going to be an exploration of the world of shoes, in particular when its time to buy new ones, but I’ll keep to trainers and stay away from Louboutins.

So when should running shoes be replaced?  Running in excessively worn running shoes may increase your risk of repetitive injuries in the feet, legs and pelvis and certainly increases the chance of you turning and ankle.  ASICS Podiatrist Clifton Bradeley explains that when you take your new shoes out of the box all pristine and clean, they are at their most protective and supportive but like any product used regularly, they will eventually wear out.  How quickly this happens is determined by your mileage, body weight and foot type; a heavy overpronator will wear their shoes out faster than say a lighter, neutral runner.  You should also consider the terrain you run on – running on the road all of the time will wear out your shoes quicker than running off-road

The consensus of opinion across the internet seems to be that you should change your shoes between about 450 and 550 miles but apart from keeping a mileage log, there are a few tell-tale signs to help you identify when to buy your next pair:


  • The outer sole has worn through to the white midsole
  • The midsole feels too soft and collapses easily under pressure. You may see longitudinal creases in the midsole
  • The heel counter becomes mobile and less supportive
  • Your toes wear through the toe-box, and the shoe upper tears
  • One shoe sole becomes asymmetrically worn compared with the other
  • One or both shoes no longer stand up straight when placed on a flat surface

Obviously gait analysis is a good idea for your first pair of shoes but experts recommend getting reassessed regularly as leg and foot mechanics change as you strength and mobility change through time.  If you find a pair of shoes that really suit you though buy two pairs and alternate between them (an excellent excuse).

A final thought:  Children in India and around the world are not permitted to attend school barefoot.  Soles4Souls is a charitable enterprise that collects and then sells or recycles any kind of shoes, whatever their condition.  They then use the proceeds to employ a local cobbler to make school shoes which are gifted to local children.  On average every 2 pairs donated raise enough money to enable a child to attend school.  I think its a no-brainer so when you treat yourself in the sales I will happily dispose of your cast-offs.


Post by Johnny Smith on 20 May 2015

Great Wall Marathon Race Report


Since its inception in 1999 by the Danish company Albatros Adventure, the Great Wall Marathon (not to be confused with the Great Wall of China Marathon) has grown into a highly respected international event . This year runners from 70 different countries made up the 2,500+ field, which also included a half marathon and a fun run. With its hilly course, 5,164 steps, uneven terrain and hot and humid conditions it is widely considered to be one of the world’s most challenging marathons.

To enter the race non-Chinese residents have to sign up for either a 6 or 7 night tour package. I chose the 7 night option and went through Albatros Adventures themselves, although there are other more British centric tour operators you can choose, such as 2:09 Events. I went for the 2 star hotel option and was assigned to a group of 35 who were also in Ping’anfu hotel in Beijing. Our tour leader was an entertaining and eccentric Chinese lady called Nancy.

The package was pricey but outstanding. It was a busy schedule; this was not a ‘relaxing’ holiday. Before the race day we had guided tours around the Forbidden Palace, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs, a jade factory and a cloisonné factory. I signed up for all the optional extras so I also went to a kungfu show, an acrobat show and the day after the race (despite my protesting muscles) to Beijing Zoo, the Summer Palace, a tea ceremony and the Olympic stadium. We also had excellent Chinese meals provided at expertly picked restaurants.

On Thursday we had a ‘route inspection day. ‘ This meant a drive to the Great Wall at the stunningly beautiful Huangyaguan. It is a mountainous area in Tianjin, north west of Beijing. It is a part of the Wall rarely visited by tourists and was a lovely contrast to the polluted and bustling Beijing. There is actually only a 3.5km stretch on the Great Wall during the race (the full marathon runners do it twice, the first time from east to west and then from west to east later on). The rest of the route takes in the valley and surrounding traditional villages. IMG_0132

On the route inspection we walked the 3.5km part of the Wall. This proved to be invaluable as it was a great opportunity to take photos, take in the views and check out the terrain. I was left feeling a little daunted but also excited and awestruck.

It was an early 3:30 departure from our hotel to get to Huangyaguan on the race morning. It was actually quite cool when we first arrived but it didn’t stay like that for long. I made sure I put on plenty of sun tan lotion and I wore a hat throughout. I carried a bag with some (emergency) supplies: lucosade sport, energy gels, Kendal mint cake, painkillers and a whistle. The race start was split into 5 waves to try to alleviate the congestion on the wall. I was in wave 1 and we got off to a prompt start at 7:30am after an opening ceremony that consisted of speeches from various Tianjin province officials and one Australian.

The race started from Yin and Yang Square in the old Huangyaguan fortress. We went in an easterly direction on the Jinwei and then Changcheng highway. The first 5km was all uphill but It was on tarmac roads and I found it easy going. I was soon up amongst the leading runners and was enjoying the scenery. This was a huge relief as I only did 2 runs post London and they didn’t go very well. I got water at the first aid station and from then on I almost constantly had a bottle of water in my hand. It was essential to stay hydrated and I managed that part of the race well. There were plenty of water stations – I’ve never drank so much water in my life! I think the temperature was mid 20 degrees to start with and then rose to at least 31 degrees later on.

After 5 km we came to the entrance to the Great Wall and the first of many steps. My main priority was to get through this section unscathed as it would be easy to twist an ankle on the uneven Wall surface. I was surrounded by spectacular scenery of pine green mountains but I was keeping my eyes fixed on my feet. I went up the steps quickly but was careful coming down. It was great fun (but I didn’t think that the second time round)! In some sections the steps had eroded away so you had grip onto the handrail to stop yourself sliding uncontrollably. There were towers, tunnels and ramparts along the wall and some of the steps were really quite big and it was very steep but I made good time. Almost all of last km on the Wall was a steep descent known as the ‘Goat track.’ I was relieved to get to the bottom without falling (but I knew I’d have to go up that way later on).

We left the fortress again, this time heading towards Duanzhuang village. The first section was along a fairly busy road. I was wary of the traffic as the Chinese are crazy drivers. They overtake on both sides of the road, rarely indicate and treat pedestrian crossings as voluntary. This was the only part of the route that had any serious volume of traffic. A local drove alongside me and recorded me for a while. After the road we were directed onto a dirt track that ran alongside a river and into the village. There were lots of happy little Chinese kids about and they liked high fives and asking where you were from.

After Xiaying Village the route turned away from the river and the halfway point marked the start of a long (miles) ascent that eventually took us through Qingshanling and then Chedauyu village. It looked like the whole village had come out to watch; some looked a little bemused but the crowds were friendly and shouted encouragement (I think). My calves were starting to hurt by then and I was slowing down but I kept going and was still enjoying it. Back in Duanzhuang village the marathon route merged with the half marathon and we headed back towards the fortress. As I entered the square I made sure I got a wrist band, otherwise I’d have had to go onto the Wall for a third time. Marathon runners have to reach this stage by the 6 hour mark or they’re not allowed to continue.

From the first step I knew it was going to be much more difficult this time. I had already run 21 miles and my legs weren’t impressed. At a time where I often ‘hit the wall’ I had to scale the Great Wall. It was more a case of hauling myself up and occasionally progressing into a trot. The guys just ahead of me were struggling too but there was a German guy who powered past us. I stretched my calves a few times, had my lucusade sport and Kendal mint cake and managed to pick up the pace a bit. Although I was going slow and it was gruelling the bit on the Wall didn’t seem to last too long and then suddenly it was a 5km stretch downhill to the finish . It was painful but I was able to get a reasonable pace going at just over 7min/m.

It was an incredible feeling running back into Yin and Yang Square and crossing the finish line in 7th place (in a time of 4:09:57), after an unforgettable marathon. The winning time was 3:41:40. I was soon greeted by members of my group who had completed the half marathon; we had developed a great team spirit by the race day and most of us stayed to watch and cheer the rest of our runners home. I was entitled to a free massage but I was enjoying sitting down with a beer and watching people finish. There was a celebration dinner and after party on Sunday evening which went on ’til 3am and then, sadly, I was up at 6 to get an early flight home.

The trip was a perfect introduction to Chinese culture, history and cuisine and a great opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world with a shared passion for running. The race wasn’t bad either! Albatros Adventures also organise the Big Five, Petra Desert, Polar Circle and Bagan Temple marathons. Yet more races to add to my to do list…



Post by Samantha Tennant on 13 May 2015

Mounds of Opportunity

I competed in a 10k recently that should have been no more than a few laps through a very pretty park.  We started with a lap of an athletics track and then wound down a tree-lined path to the entrance to the clough – a very steep downhill.  All the while there was a nagging voice at the back of my mind reminding me that this was a circuit and what goes down will eventually go up.  And it did, a couple of long but unmistakably uphill slopes crowned by a hellish climb.   Repeat two more times.  I quickly realised the only place I could make up a bit of time would be on the downhill section so tried to fight my instinct to slam on the brakes and strode out a little.  I need to practice hills more, both up and down.  In our hearts runners know hills are good for us but living where we do they’re not abundant and they are seen as muscle-sapping obstacles that break your rhythm and get in the way of fast times. 

Some of the leading Swedish experts on hill training carried out a study on marathon runners and discovered that, after 12 weeks of twice-weekly hill sessions, their running economy had improved by three percent.  Although they were experienced runners, that could shave two minutes off their 10-mile time or six minutes off a marathon.  So what exactly does hill training do for you that regular strength exercise doesn’t?

Strength exercises fortify tendons and ligaments, reduce the risk of injury and improve form, but done in isolation they focus on individual joints and small muscle sets.  Hill sessions are effective because they force muscles in the hips, legs, ankles and feet to contract in a co-ordinated way while at the same time supporting the full body weight, as in regular running.  In addition, on uphill sections your muscles contract more powerfully than usual because they are forced to overcome gravity to move you up the hill.  The result is more power, which in turn leads to longer, faster running strides.         Research has shown that runners who train on hills:

  • have much higher concentrations of aerobic enzymes in their quads than those who do all their running on the flat, allowing muscles to function at high intensity for longer periods without tiring.
  • have improved elasticity in muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing them to work harder with less effort and fatigue.
  • are less likely to lose fitness when they take time off from training.

The ups:

Runner’s World tells us that we should “Shift gears both mentally and physically and prepare to attack the hill; don’t let it attack you.  Running hills well is all about rhythm; if you let the hill break up your rhythm you will slow dramatically. But if you make the proper adjustments and maintain your cadence you’ll make molehills out of the mountains.”

  • As you start uphill, shorten your stride. Don’t try to maintain the pace you were running on the flat. You are aiming for equal effort going up as well as down, not equal pace. 
  • Take ‘baby steps’ if necessary and try to keep the same cadence that you had on the flat ground.
  • Your posture should be upright – don’t lean forward or back – your head, shoulders and back should form a straight line over the feet. Keep your feet low to the ground.
  • If your breathing begins to quicken it means that you’re either going too fast, over-striding or bounding too far off the ground as you run. Use a light, ankle-flicking push-off with each step, not an explosive motion, which will waste energy. 
  • If the hill is long or the gradient increases, keep shortening your stride to maintain a smooth and efficient breathing pattern. If the gradient decreases, extend your stride again.  Try to maintain the same steady effort and breathing throughout.
  • Run through the top of the hill. Don’t crest the hill and immediately slow down or pull back on your effort.

And downs:

Like me, most runners make one or two obvious mistakes when running downhill.  They either sprint, which causes severe muscle soreness later on, or they’re constantly braking, which fatigues the quads.  The optimum pace is somewhere in between.  Try not to let your feet slap the ground, step lightly and don’t reach out with your feet.  Slapping can be a sign of weak muscles in the shin area, in which case you need to strengthen them.

  • Try to visualise gravity pulling you down the hill.
  • Try to maintain an upright body posture, keeping your torso perpendicular to the horizontal.
  • Keep your feet close to the ground for maximum control, and land lightly.
  • As you increase your pace, emphasise quicker turnover rather than longer strides.
  • The key to efficient downhill running is to stay in control. When you start, keep your stride slightly shortened and let your turnover increase. When you feel in control, gradually lengthen your stride.  If you start to run out of control, shorten your stride until you feel you are back in control again.

In summary, hill running (up and down) will make for a stronger, faster and healthier runner.  In addition, the benefits can be seen relatively quickly.  In as little as six weeks of regular hill training you can expect to see a significant improvement in your muscle power and speed.  I’ve done my homework now and all being well I’ll enter the same course next year and finish in a faster time.


Tips for running uphill:  

Tips for running downhill:

Have a go:                     

Samantha Tennant

Post by Samantha Tennant on 5 May 2015

26.2 Marathon Facts

1.  The length of the marathon at the London Olympics in 1908 was intended to be 26 miles, from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium but Queen Alexandra requested the distance be extended 385 yds to the East Lawn so that the royal children could watch the race from their nursery.  

2. A 140-pound woman running 10-minute miles will burn 2,777 calories during a marathon.

3. The oldest annual marathon was inaugurated by the Boston Athletic Association in 1897 and it has been held every year since.

4. Paula Radcliffe, holds the women’s world record, set at the London Marathon in 2003 with a time of 2:15:23. Dennis Kimetto of Kenya set the men’s record in 2014 at the Berlin Marathon, running the course in 2:02:57.  The fastest female wheelchair athlete was Tatyana McFadden (USA) coming in at 1:46:02 in London, 2013.

5. The highest altitude marathon is the Everest marathon which starts at 17,000 feet – a downhill course.

6. The New York City Marathon started in 1970, 127 runners paying an entry fee of $1 to run several loops through Central Park. In 2010, more than 45,000 men and women finished the race, making it the largest marathon in the world.

7. At 6 years old, Wu Chun-hao completed the Fubon Taipei Marathon in Taiwan in December 2010. He finished in 5:11, according to the China Post.  The youngest marathoner in the world, Indian slum orphan Budhia Singh ran 48 marathons before he turned 5 years old.

8. The Badwater Ultramarathon claims to be “the world’s toughest foot race”. The 135 mile route stretches from California’s Death Valley, the lowest point in North America, to Mount Whitney, the highest in the lower 48 states, and covers three mountain ranges.

9. In 2011, Belgian runner Stefan Engels ran a marathon every day for a year, covering a total distance of 9,569 miles (1,5401 km).

10. In 1972 Boston became the first marathon competition to allow women to enter. The first women’s Olympic marathon was in 1984 at Los Angeles, won by Joan Benoit of the USA.  As some women collapsed during the 1928 Olympics 800m race, it was decided that 200m would be their maximum distance as anything beyond that would be too strenuous!

11. The Marathon of the Sands lasts six days and covers around 155 miles of the African Sahara. The longest day covers 52 miles, and runners must carry their own food and kit along the way (water and tents are supplied).  Rachid El Morabity, the 2011 winner, finished the course in 20:56:19.

12. At 100 years old, Fauja Singh became the oldest person to finish a marathon when he crossed the finish line at the 2011 Toronto Marathon in 8:11:6.

13. During the Great Wall Marathon in China, racers run up and down 5,164 steps.

14. The London Marathon is the largest annual fund raising event in the world, earning charities over £500 million in the past 30 years.

15. The North Pole Marathon, which holds the Guinness World Record for the northernmost marathon, bills itself as “the coolest marathon”.

16. The southernmost marathon takes place in Antarctica where the average wind chill temperature hovers around -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

17. The typical training period for a recreational runner is 22 weeks during which time they will log a little over 600 miles before getting to the start line. An elite runner will log 100 miles per week.

18. According to dieticians many elite runners cross the finish line 7% dehydrated. 36% of runners drink on a pre-set schedule, 9% drink as much as they can as often as possible, however drinking too much water can cause low sodium levels, triggering hyponatremia.  Experts recommend drinking 400-800ml/hour, and consuming energy gels every 45 mins.

19. The Walt Disney World Marathon course runs through Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Animal Kingdom Park, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Mickey, Minnie and the gang cheer you on from the sidelines.

20. In 1980 Rosie Ruiz won the Boston marathon in 2:31:56 but was later exposed as having joined the race near the finish line. Shortly after, her 1979 New York City marathon time of 2:56 was revoked when it was discovered that she rode the subway to the finish line.

21. The first black African to win an Olympic gold was the Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila in 1960. Much to the dismay of shoe sponsors Adidas, Bikila ran the race barefoot.

22. The Marathon du Médoc in France is the most indulgent which starts with a sip of wine. The runners then navigate vineyards dotted with 22 refreshment stands and 21 gourmet food stalls plus a red carpet for the last 100m.

23. Human beings are the best long distance runners on Earth, beating horses.

24. Sir Ranulph Feinnes ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents. He did so after a heart attack and bypass surgery.

25. Studies show the most likely cause of hitting the wall is depletion of muscle glycogen. Runners have enough glycogen in their bodies to fuel 13.1 miles which is why without proper nutrition there is  a much higher chance of hitting the wall between mile 20-26.

26. Japanese Marathon Monks run a marathon a day for 100 days and do this every year for seven years or commit suicide if they fail.

And the final 385 yards …

Fantastic marathon Finishes:       

8 Stages of Marathon Running:     

Comprehensive Training Plans for all abilities:

Samantha Tennant


Post by Samantha Tennant on 8 March 2015

Up with the larks

I keep chickens, just three of them. They wake with the sunrise and let me know that I should be up providing them with their breakfast; after all, it’s what they do for me. I don’t complain because stepping out of the back door in dressing gown and wellies is one of my favourite parts of the whole day. I love the blast of precious, fresh, clean air and inhale deeply. This Sunday I was greedy and wanted more so quietly got my gear on, left a note, grabbed my phone and sneaked out for a run before the rest of the house awoke.
The experience was new to me but I’m sure lots of you have been doing it for years and there are some persuasive arguments for it, even for setting out pre-dawn! Greg Strosaker from Predawn Runner writes:
“First, You get a big accomplishment done before most people even wake up. No matter what happens the rest of the day, no one can take this away from you, and you’ll enjoy a boost in confidence and satisfaction that lasts for several hours.
“Second, getting an early start extends your day and allows you to get more done. When you don’t have to deal with fitting in your workout later, you’ll find a lot more time on your hands to deal with your other responsibilities. Sure, you may have to go to bed earlier, but for many, late night is the least productive time of day anyway, so what are you really losing?
“Finally, you’ll find an inner peace and comfort running when all is quiet. There is little to disrupt your flow and rhythm so early in the day, and you’ll find that not only can you get in a quality workout, but also some valuable time to think while you are out on the roads.”

So now you agree it’s a good idea here are some tips:

1. Lay out all your gear the night before. Running in the early morning can actually be safer as there is significantly less traffic on the roads but the little traffic there is will not be expecting you so high vis. gear is essential.

2. If the weather is going to be iffy, leave your ‘phone by your clothes to check the weather. If contingency clothes are needed, lay those out too.

3. Only use your smartphone to check the weather! No email, no Twitter, no Facebook. No one expects you to be awake anyway, so no one is expecting a response. They can wait until you are done. This is your time.

4. Set things up to be efficient after your run too. Before your other commitments also means you can start your workout later.

5. Know your routine, your route, and how long it should take. You don’t want to find yourself half an hour from home when you should be in the shower!

I am a fresh air freak and enjoy the 7pm meetings in the dark of winter when I would otherwise be sat in the house but my dawn reck out the links below and if you are already more of a lark than an owl please let us know why and share your hints and tips.

Running in the morning            Predawn running            How to become a morning runner

Samantha Tennant