Friday, 9 August 2013

The Great British Beerathon - 5 miles, 4 pints, 4 bits of food - 1 almight hangover

Sweetheart's back fat ... possibly
The Great British Beerathon is a five mile slobstacle race, where runners run five-one mile laps, drinking a pint and eating some food at the end of each lap. 

Now in its fourth year, I've always hidden behind my organiser role to avoid having to take part, preferring to laugh at friends from the safety of the pub and hint that if I were to run I'd obviously blitz it. 

Having won two of the previous years Sweetheart insisted that I run this year, partly to shut me up, but probably more to do with his concern over what the calories would do to his back fat.

Fancy dress chosen, I was feeling pretty confident.  I'm not in the greatest shape, but I can drink like a champion (at least in my head) and six minute miling should be fine, even with a baby bump, giving me 90 seconds per transition. 
Event briefing
After an inspirational speech from Sweetheart, explaining that he'd laid on several specialist areas around the course should we feel ill, also known as walls, 120 of us lined up in full fancy dress.  The first mile was pretty quick, two people leading out the first lap in 5.20 or so, I came in 17 seconds behind, charged up the stairs, grabbed my Guinness and muffin and headed for the beer garden. The two ahead of me became one, we guzzled, then gasped and we were off again 1.06 transition, piece of cake ... literally. 

James West leads out the start

The second lap felt ok if a little slower (6.12).  The leader dressed as a Evel Knievel (Matt Wilto), took another fifteen seconds out of me and I began to notice I was being stalked by a monk (Andrew Fargus), I began to feel like Robert Langdon (but with the ability to solve simplistic puzzles on the first page). Back up the stairs for bitter and samosa.  The samosa was a decent size and piping hot, but we were making our way through it as the monk inhaled his and took off with the Evel.  25 seconds later and I followed.

Guinness and muffins
We were beginning to attract a bit of a crowd on the course.  The builders' laughs grew louder with each lap, there was a homeless man, asleep on a step motionless throughout (I hope he was asleep) and the tourists were sometimes already filming as we passed.  The roads had been closed for the London cycle the next day, but the tourists assumed we were the main event and were getting fully behind us.  To be fair the Evel was running quick enough to be a cyclist.
Third lap of 6.09 and we were back in for slobstacle three - lager and a Cornish pasty, I say Cornish, only because it was the size of Cornwall.  My chomps were merely flirting with it, but thankfully nearly everyone was struggling. My only solace was that a friend of mine Jody had the vegetarian pasty and it was bigger than his head (and this is man who needs custom made cycle helmets). He flashed me a look of 'this is all your fault you bastard', it hadn't been planned, but I wish it had.

Evel and the Monk
Another friend Chris strutted in with a half eaten pasty. He's not a bad runner, but definitely a better cyclist and seeing him so close behind me was surprising. Then it all made sense, not only was he an ironman with a hunger like no other, but boy does he have a mouth on him (in the best possible way.) Evel was in a world of pain, the monk going steady and Chris was devouring like a hungry hippo. Chris was out first, followed closely by the monk, I struggled and after 4.47 finally headed out for my fourth lap.

Chomper Chris
Devo in happier time
My belly was bubbling by now and starting to pick up a momentum of its own. I was still trying to keep the pace up, knowing that the next slobstacle was a smaller porkpie. If I could get in quick there was a chance I could neck the pint and be back up with the leaders. 6.11 for the fourth lap and then it hit me. The cider was sweet and sickly, the porkpie burningly hot, but thankfully not that large. 

The belly had been doing a pretty good job as a washing machine and felt like it was frothing up my neck. I couldn't even take the smallest bite of the pie without the feeling that it was all going to blow. A friend of mine Devo was sat in the corner still on his pasty. He would have been a favourite for the race, but he was coming back from injury and on Thursday night had taken on the Red Dog hot wing challenge. His stomach still hadn't recovered and having snuck into a corner for a bit of privacy, expelled its content right in front of the race photographer to the cheers of the crowd.  

The finish
I saw away the cider, but was still left with my entire pie, as Chris and then the monk strode away. Minutes later, stood in the corner, I was battling to swallow anything without having to fight to keep the food down, dry retching with each attempt. Knowing the race was lost, I forced the pie into my mouth and set off, mouth still full of pie, a woeful transition of 6.49.

I felt like I was moving ok for my final lap, waving at the builders and dodging the tourists. I looked like a pregnant samba dancer, waddling like a duck. As I rounded the final corner, I kicked in for a sprint finish only to hear the pounding of footsteps behind me - Evel was trying to take me on the line. Thankfully I still had a but left in the legs and ran into the cheering crowd with a time 45:09, six and a half minutes behind the winner Andrew Fargus, the monk,  in 38:42. 

Chris and I finished, with Andrew over-shoulder
I felt pretty rough, but a couple of decent burps and we were back on the sauce. The race had been a lot harder than I had expected. The booze and the running was fine, but the food just sat in your stomach and by the cornish pasty there were no gaps left to fill. Great pacing by the monk and much kudos to Rob Foster, the current world record holder who averaged 7:30 per mile with food and drink.

The rest of the runners slowly filtered in and we started the customary drinking circle to wrap off the event, dishing out drinks as punishment theroughout the race (of which there was plenty.)

Seaman, last seen stumbling towards a hairdressers

Special mention must go to Zacharay Davidson, winner of the best male fancy dress category, dressed as David Seaman. He won over the crowd's hearts and as a result ended up having to drink his body weight in beer and half again in gin. 

We'll be back next year and I'm planning on running again. Don't think I could get the record, but with a bit more chomping, will hopefully put up a fight until the last lap at least.

If you enjoyed this post, please share on social media and subscribe to this blog in the top right of the page!!!

Monday, 5 August 2013

UK Challenge - Stage 3 - Successful Formula

Stage 3 was a 3 hour mountain bike. Team of 4. The result = the team with the most points receive a 00:00 stage time, the team with the least points receive 3:00 hours, all the other teams were distributed between those two times using the formula:

or something like that. Crickey!

The scenario was forming a grand prix team and racing to win championship points. Each team needed to buy a driver, a car and then enter races - visiting the start and finish of each race. The better the driver and car, the higher your placing and more points received. If you entered a race that you didn't finish (by visiting the race points) you received a considerable penalty. Teams could upgrade their driver or car at any time throughout the 3 hours and there were investment points that could be visited to gain more cash to pay for the upgrade.  We were given our map in advance and there was a clear loop that could be used from the start to visit the best driver and best car checkpoints. We still didn't know the times of the races or their location and there were also quite a few single-track, one way routes to add to the confusion, so we couldn't determine how many races we should attempt in advance.  Unless the first race was extremely early and with a long gap before the second, it seemed to make sense to buy the best driver and car straight away to get the maximum points from each race.

Leo, Vanessa and Simon were joined by Dan Adams - our Senior Executive (which explains why I'm low on detail for the race, as I was busy drinking tea and chatting up the Sainsbury's girls.) Just before the start they announced an extra element to the scenario - all races had to registered in advance by foot and the number of entrants for each race was limited, so there was a dilemma of how long to plan for knowing that the better the planning the more likely the races would be full.

Sprint Start - I'm 2nd red from the left, 5 - Stuart is a 2.45 marathoner, 16 - Glen is UK standard steeple chase 

I ran for the envelope of race times in the mass start and within the first ten meters I decided that jogging was good - why pull a hamstring? to the disappointment of Dan, who had been regaled with tales of my London marathon sprint. Start times in hand the team ran towards the registration points, that had become a bun fight, with teams pushing and shoving to get their registrations in. Leo confessed to registering for the wrong race, then registering for four more, before thinking sod it and on the spur of the moment registering for a sixth.

The scrum to register for races

Off they raced, while I prepared myself a little corner of the van to nap in. Two and half hours later and Vicky and I were waiting nervously by the finish. Nearly all of the teams were in, but Accenture 4 were nowhere to be seen. We had no idea how many races they had gone for, but there were a lot of teams having disasters. The RAF team didn't make it to the start, their van's engine blowing on the drive to the race course, Perenco had only been able to register for two races, having a 45 minute break in between the two and Accenture 5 had not dibbed properly for their driver and started their first race without one. At 2.58 the team came running home - all looking knackered, but all grinning - six gone for, six achieved, some with only seconds to spare. We'd been lucky to go for the six correct races, but they'd then cycled like hell to complete them all.

Becky and Rod from Accenture 5

Syngenta were the only other team to have attempted six and only a puncture on the way in stopped them finishing in time, meaning that we'd won the stage and managed to take half an hour out of AWE's lead. We were now up to third, twenty minutes behind the leaders. Traditionally the Friday evening was a build stage, a bit of a lottery for us, but it was non-physical, so we drunk our For Goodness Shakes and headed back to the university, knowing that it was now game on!

If you enjoyed this post, please share on social media and subscribe to this blog in the top right of the page!!!

NumberTime TakenBonusPenaltiesStage Time

Friday, 2 August 2013

New shoes - Kalenji Kiprun HM review

I've been sent a pair of trainers to try out and they're the best kind - they're free. They're called the Kalenji, not heard of them before, but they sound kind of Polish, so I was expecting them to be hard working, but for the male versions to be somewhat unattractive ... casual stereotypes over I was asked which pair I'd like - the 10k, half marathon or full marathon version.  The range is Kiprun and the concept is that each pair is designed to suite each distance - more support and cushioning the greater the distance.  Nice idea and certainly far easier to decide which shoe is right for your needs than having to decode the usual marketing language. Wanting the best of both roads I of course opted for the half marathon version and soon enough a lovely new pair were delivered:

I give you the Kalenji Kiprun MD
They looked pretty good and most importantly the lime green matched my Inov8 running bag - turn my swag on!

To help you understand my review it's worth stating that I am a neutral runner and a massive shoe whore. I was lucky enough to win 8 pairs of trainers during the Nike Grid and have managed to win or been given several other pairs of Adidas, Saucony, Brookes or Asics since, so haven't bought a pair of trainers in 4+ years. I therefore do not have one preferred trainer to compare against. I also seem to be blisters free, no matter the shoe, which allows me to whore my feet about so readily (like a gigolo immune to stds) or something like that.

I was heading to Portugal that weekend for a friend's wedding, so I put them in my hand luggage and psyched myself for some hardcore running. The wedding was intense - 30C heat, serving unlimited booze, pre-poured and lined-up into 15 or so different spirits - far too many to choose between, so I systematically worked my way down the line; the weekend run wasn't looking that realistic.

Sweetheart at the top of Estrada de Serra 

The morning after my friend Sweetheart was insisting that instead of running along the coast, finishing where our friends would be surfing, we should instead head for trails. Being too hungover to disagree we jumped in a cab and half an hour later, lost and fed up of driving round in circles looking for a dam, the taxi driver dropped us off in the middle of a national park. It was 38C, we were in the middle of nowhere and having been unable to navigate our taxi driver to anywhere of note, I had no idea how we were going to find a taxi to eventually take us home. Sweetheart started us running aimlessly until we saw some flour on the floor - he'd brought me to the Lisbon hash (I run with city hash in London). We still had no idea where the start was, so he thought it wise that we run up the hill until we find them. 4.5 miles later and 1000ft of ascent, there was still no sign of them. So we decided to take some action shots of the shoes.

Definitely going to be the next cover shot of Runners World
Happy that we'd not looked too pretentious to any hidden doggers (we saw no one the entire time we were here and believe me sweetheart went looking) we headed down the hill and put the trainers to the test.

We raced down, passing some walkers who turned out to be the Lisbon hash. There were 12 of them, they were lovely, but they were all walking due to the heat. 8 miles later having had to run every checkpoint and loop (they called them rambo trails) by myself, I was pretty broken and delighted to find a platter of crisps, nuts and drinks to welcome us back. They then handed out beers for people to down (in a ritual known as the circle, will have to explain in a later post) when I realised that they had been eyeing up my trainers. One of the rules of the hash is that you never wear new trainers - if you do, you have to drink a pint out of them. Aware that I was already in the middle of possible the worst debut review ever, to then end it with a beer covered trainer was nearing disrespectful. After some negotiation and explanation of the review they compromised, allowing me to drink out of a cup from the shoe.

Possible a half of Tanglefoot - get it!
Unbeknownst to Sweetheart (hash name) and myself it was gay pride in Lisbon that weekend. We then found out that having two males arrive, both fairly camp, called Sweetheart and Princess (my hash name) they had made one conclusion too many and we were the gossip of the hash. So not to disappoint, Sweetheart and I left arm in arm, catching a ride back with one of the local hashers.

I had found it hard going in the trainers, but in their defense they weren't designed to be warn in 38+C heat, running down steep descending trails as a first outing. All I conclude was that they weren't great trail shoes - worse reviewer ever. I also concluded that weekend that chocolate was not a great material to make a teapot out of and that razor wire isn't a great product to build seat belts from (that was awkward.)

Review part two

The following week I went for an interval session with heathside running club on the heathside extension

I was running on a mixture of road, woods and fields, with a few inclines, so it was a good mix of terrain to try out the shoes. There was plenty of cushioning and they felt comfortable, with a lot of space at the front for people prone to blisters on your toes. New trainers tend to feel very springy, but the Kirpun do not give a huge amount of bounce. I'm not sure whether they're intended for training for or racing a half marathon.

For me there is too much cushioning and not enough spring for me to consider racing in them. Even half marathons can be quite a quick pace and I've always opted for a lighter/faster shoe on race day than the Kiprun. I'm not sure I'd even wear them for a marathon for the same reason, so I'd be interested to find out how the Kiprun marathon trainer feels. I do often race in Adizero's though, one of the lightest shoes on the market, so maybe I'm just an extreme.

As a training shoe these would be very good for your longer runs with plenty of support to reduce the impact on your knees and lots of space at the front of the shoe to reduce the onset of blisters. The good thing about a training program is that the race is at the end, so if you're looking for a mid-range shoe to train and possibly race in, give these a go, you can always drop down to the 10k pair if you want to a faster shoe come race day.

If you enjoyed this post, please share on social media and subscribe to this blog in the top right of the page!!!