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Thursday, 12 October 2017

KARKOA: The bag that does 7,000 miles & ALL the snacks

As I was dashing to the gym the other day, juggling phone and kit, I received an email from Karkoa asking me if I'd review one of their sports and lifestyle bags. I have to admit, I thought “What relevance does a lifestyle bag have to me?”

Then I looked down at the bike shoes I was clutching in one hand and the Tesco carrier bag containing my towel, drinks bottle and hoody in my other hand and realised that actually a decent bag might really come in handy. So I shot them back an email saying “Yes please.”

But how do you test a bag ... apart from filling it up with kit?

It was a good time for a bag to arrive especially as I was back to being a student for 6 months again (training for a new job so I could avoid the instant noodle eating, partying until the wee hours and getting lots of piercings) as well as trying to juggle family life and triathlon training. This would involve long hours on a train at the mercy of Network Rail and London Underground during which I'd be carrying notebooks, textbooks, folders, snacks (Of COURSE – I haven't TOTALLY changed), gym and triathlon kit, towels, drinks bottles, uniform and assorted makeup, shoe polish, pens and tissues. Plus my usual assortment of painkillers, hayfever tablets, plasters, safety pins and crayons.

Just SOME of the detritus I carry around daily ... and this is BEFORE I've packed my A4 folders and laptop!

So the bag had a BIG job to do.

Luckily, although on the outside it appeared to be the size of a normal rucksack, inside it had positively TARDIS-like proportions. And just when I thought I'd investigated all the pockets ... there were more. And more. I love a good pocket and this had plenty of good pockets. 

One of the most handy was the small one at the very top which was just big enough for keys, phone and bank and travel cards. And because it was right at the top of the bag, it was in a position which would make it very awkward for anyone trying to stealthily undo it and take out the contents. Perfect for public transport. 

However, that was only my SECOND favourite pocket as my very favourite one was the snack bag. Yes – it comes with a snack bag. What can I say. It's like these bag-designers have me sussed. My only disappointment was that it didn't come pre-filled with snacks … but can't have it all, right? This bag came in extremely handy as anyone who knows me, knows I like my snacks but what I hadn't taken into consideration was that rush hour on the tube in London gets very hot … my chocolate melted and covered all my other food … but as it was in the snack bag, it stayed in here as it is waterproof.

I totally didn't STILL eat the snacks. Honest. *hic*

There's also a padded pocket for your laptop, plus room for the wires and cables and enough room for a large A4 folder in the main pocket. There's a roomy pocket on the front which the snack bag fits into, a laundry bag(!!) AND a waterproof pocket on the bottom of the bag for gym kit. Plus a circular side pocket for a drinks bottle.

And yes … ALL of this stuff fits in together. Which quite frankly is a minor miracle.

The bag is also a really good looking bag too. I'm not ALL about the aesthetics, for me if a piece of kit does the job that's the main thing but it was lovely to have something that did a good job AND looked great. Plus I had compliment after compliment about it.

However, what really matters is NOT what a piece of equipment looks like when it's brand new, but what it looks like when it's fully packed and has been used for a few months. I have a much loved piece of hand luggage (of a different brand) which I adored when I bought it, but which looks like a sack of potatoes when fully packed.

So I decided to put the Karkoa bag through its paces.

It has so far done:

  • 3,960 miles with Network Rail …
  • 2,288 on the tube …
  • Approximately 1000 miles in the boot of the car ...
  • Multiple gym visits where it's been shoved in a locker and filled with damp kit ...
  • 18 weeks on the floor of a classroom, under a desk, on the floor, in a locker ...
  • Several evenings under the tables in a bar and on one memorable evening in the middle of a dance floor being danced around where there wasn't a cloakroom but we WERE NOT MISSING THAT DANCE!
  • And even to my horror it had a cup of coffee knocked over and into it by a friend, who I've 
  • still not entirely forgiven ...

So how does it look after all of this?


I thought the bag was quite pricey at £65 ish for a rucksack / gym bag but after the abuse it's inadvertently taken by being my go-to bag for the last 6 months, it has come out the other side still looking marvellous. There's no damage at all to the exterior, the stitching has stayed perfect, the straps haven't worn in any way that I can see. The only thing I can see that this bag has travelled over 7,000 miles is that the writing on the snack bag has slightly worn away. And that's it.

Only area of apparent wear - ignore the chocolate stains *burp*

I'm not convinced that this sports bag will EVER wear out, in fact I suspect it may well outlive me the way it's looking at the moment, but if it does I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.

I'd like to find a downside to balance the review out a bit, but quite frankly the only one I can find is that the writing has rubbed off the snack bag. After 7,000 miles and quite a lot of snacks. Which is pretty bloody good.

This is a link to my exact bag here

And because I'm lovely here's a discount code if you wish to buy one that gives you 20% off the retail price: SARMYA20

Monday, 18 September 2017

IAAF World Championships: Amazing Athletes, Popcorn & Remote Controlled Javelins

So I went along to the IAAF World Championships 2017 in London! Not competing – I WISH!

Had lots of fun and ALLLLL the popcorn.

Had a BRILLIANT TIME! Corey and Becca got a hug from Hero the Hedgehog ( I have NEVER seen 2 grown women so starstruck), Pete got his Smurf on, we all saw the 400m medal ceremony, the 800m heats and the 200m and triple jump finals! 

 Pete smurfing it up.

 Check out this amazing view! 

We MAY have been slightly excited to be watching the IAAF...

I was surrounded by all these amazing athletes but I was mesmerised by the javelin car. An actual Thing. Basically, the athletes throw their javelins and someone straps it to the back of a remote controlled car and whisks it back to the start line. 

Javelin car ... mesmerising!

Javelin car! Who controls it and how did they get this job?? #NewJobGoals

The triple jump finals!! I couldn't believe the speed they were running OR the distance they were jumping ... Inspiring stuff. 

I came away from my evening determined to run more, to do more and to try more. I may never get to the standards of these athletes but I can be the best me!

*Puts down the beer and picks up her trainers*

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

ASICS International Meeting: SUP, Wakeboarding and Partying like an Athlete

Why is it that I never seem to manage to start an adventure without excessive amounts of silliness? 

Something always happens … whether it's a flat tyre, forgetting my sports bra before a race (I've done this TWICE now … thank goodness for small boobs) or losing a shoe.

I'd been invited to the ASICS International meeting which was basically 2 days of running, partying like a rock star, stand up paddle boarding, wake boarding and sunshine in Germany. Obviously me being the super organised person I am, I got packed weeks before, booked my flight and had everything sorted super-early and organised myself like a champion.

Hell. I couldn't organise a cliff jump for a gang of lemming at the White Cliffs of Dover.

It turns out that there were NO flights out of London to Dusseldorf AT ALL on Friday or Saturday. So knowing that I was finishing work at 3pm on Friday, I decided that catching a flight at 7pm in Birmingham was going to be no problem. Even if I had to nip home and pick up my kit from Rugby.

Most stressful Friday ever. Let's just say I made the flight after what must have been the most strava-segment-worthy dash through Euston, Rugby AND Birmingham airport. Seriously. I should have started my Garmin. I would have been segment queen for a day,  

Picture the scene, you're enjoying a nice wander through the airport when some banshee of a woman comes tearing past with a suitcase with only one working wheel, taking out ankles and scattering holiday makers. If I was responsible for blackening toenails and upsetting small children I can only apologise.

On the plus side the flight was delayed by an hour so at least I got a pint in departures. It's like holiday-law, right? 

After making a friend in the queue, (another airport commandment – make friends in departures) I had a nice nap on the plane and landed uneventfully at Dusseldorf airport and made my way to the hotel where I emerged into the middle of an ASICS party in full swing. Or rather ASICS athletes who were demonstrating German hospitality and promptly handed me a pint. I love German athletes. And pints.

I only had one pint (get me! I may not be able to organise a drinking contest at a beer festival but at least I was winning at roomies) as Holly Rush, ultrarunning legend and ASICS superstar had already checked into the room we were sharing so I did the quickest change into PJs ever and got into bed for some sleep. 

The first day of adventures was an early start but a MASSIVE breakfast which sounded a fair trade off to me. We were all heading to the ASICS HQ in Dusseldorf so we grabbed a lift with a German FrontRunner, Katya.

The ASICS building was gorgeous. Massive and covered with mirrored panels which reflected the bright blue sky, we really felt like superstars as we posed for photos outside. Or rather, I FELT like a superstar, but after viewing the jumping photos in which I apparently jump like a brick and gurn like a chimp I didn't look like one, I decided that I'd leave the jumping to the experts and concentrate on the things that I was good at. Apparently, breakfasting like a sump wrestler. I'm REALLY good at breakfast. 

We all sat in the airy ASICS presentation room and had the most enthusiastic welcome ever! It was so special to feel a part of the  ASICS community. We've got some amazingly talented people representing the brand and a wonderful mix of abilities and strengths and characters. Everyone was so friendly and it was such an amazing thing to feel part of. I really felt so honoured to have been invited. 

After a very enthusiastic introduction from Jan Erik Kruse who is the Marketing Manager, we were shown the new product ranges. I LOVE having pretty kit and it was exciting to be one of the first to see the new kit available. There were some great colours and there was some amazing kit based on sakura which is the cherry blossom of Japan and the festival. 
I loved the new kit colours, particularly the pinks, an ivy green and a deep purple shade. Yep. I'm a total kit tart. 

I was therefore totally made up to be given some of Roadhawk shoes (which I refused to take off) and the smallest FrontRunner Europe top ever. I also refused to take this off. Breathing is optional, right? It's MY kit and therefore I will wear it even if I appear to be unable to move my arms. 

We had some great guest speakers including Matthias Schwarze who spoke passionately about the Bob Graham round and really gave me a hunger to try it. He was extremely inspirational although he appeared to have developed a fear of sheep through the experience. 

One of the events was a night run through the beautiful town of Neuss. Let me set the scene, a group of approximately 100 runners, chattering and walking through cobbled streets, dressed in beautiful kit and one banana. Yep. FrontRunner Pete has decided no race would be complete without his banana outfit. Well, at least we couldn't lose him in the crowds. 

Marcus, Anna and I. (Photo from instagram of @marathonmarcus. Photo by @teddymorellec)
We stood at the start. All ready and shiny and excited. And one banana. The gun went off and off shot Banana Pete like poop off the proverbial. Anna, Marcus and I decided to run together and we chatted the whole way. It was a very warm evening and I was already having a hard time at 2km. In a 5km … this doesn't make for a comfortable race. Woman-up Sarah! Smile for the camera and keep an eye on where the beer is. 

The course was made up of 5 x 1km loops and despite some sharp turns and bottlenecks I really couldn't fault the race. The support was EPIC and it was such a pretty place to run! I couldn't quite work out where the finish was but I could definitely remember where the bar was so that was ok by me.

 We rounded the last corner and a MASSIVE finish gantry seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. We crossed the line to cheers and a hug.

Lots of friends had already finished and we were over the moon that Holly had podiumed! And Matt!! He was 2nd in the 5k despite helping someone who had fallen over - and missed the win by 11 secs. And Pete was up for a prize too. Top banana. 

We had lots of sweaty hugs and in the best British spirit all the UK runners headed straight for the bar and the beer. We DID notice that everyone else was drinking water but we didn't judge. Or stop. 

Because the ASICS bar was right by the course, we took our pints and sat on the kerb and cheered everyone in who was running the 10k. It turns out that supporting is even more fun than running! Especially when you have beer. 

In great spirits (and beers) we went back to the hotel to do a quick change out of race kit and a shower and we all headed out again to dinner in a bar! It was like our favourite thing. Nightclubbing, free bar AND buffet food. ASICS certainly know how to throw a party. 

The shots came out early on. There was dodgy dancing, a planking competition and lots of group hugs. We'd had a brilliant day and now we were having a brilliant evening. And a brilliant morning. 

I knew I'd had a good night when I woke up the next morning at 6am and my Garmin was already showing 11,000 steps for the day from all my dodgy dancing in the small hours! A quick breakfast and I made my way to the ASICS building where Anna and I tackled the sample sale with gusto.

Now we all know how gorgeous the ASICS kit is and here was the sample sale with tops  and shorts for 5 euros! I left with about 5 beautiful tops and a gorgeous jacket. 

After inspecting our haul, we headed out for another day of adventures. We were all meeting at Unterbacher See which is a beautiful lake in Rothenbergstrasse. Surrounded by sandy beaches and green trees, the lake reflected the bright blue sky and looked incredibly inviting.

We were greeted with a BBQ and a welcome to the days activities. The first thing on my agenda was a group warmup in which we learned the hacka. By now, I'm sure you know how coordinated I am. If everyone is stepping right, I am leaping left. I am APALLING at group activities, but at least I am appalling with enthusiasm. 

Wakeboarding was my first sport to try. It was LOADS of fun! But my ability to do it was hampered somewhat by my utter inability to stay upright. However I had an amazing time trying. And at least the water was warm! After my turn was over, I swam out to the pontoon and watched the advanced wakeboarders doing tricks. I didn't aspire to tricks. I just wanted to stand up. Big dreams. 

Photographer must have been REALLY quick to catch me standing up ... (Photo by Inger Diederich)
My next adventure was stand up paddle boarding polo. Not sure how I managed to bypass the this-is-how-to-paddleboard-lesson and launch straight into a game of polo on the board but I decided that the best way to learn was to have a go … right?

Wrong. I was appalling. Not only was I hampered by my complete inability to catch the ball, I was also slightly disadvantaged by the fact I was completely unable to stay upright. Or even stay on the board.

It probably didn't help that I found out halfway through that I had the board backwards. Probably happened during one of my frequent falling-in moments. I think I was the only person to get pruned fingers and toes from paddleboarding. 

I got a bit worried at the end when they called us over to paddleboard towards the hut to line up for a photo. I was completely unable to paddleboard over there and could only go round in circles. I had to lie down on the board and paddle with my hands to get over for the photo. And then I couldn't line the board up and knocked poor Matt Rees off his board. 

Me causing absolutely bloody chaos. (Photo by Inger Diederich)

Not sure I'll be invited back for more SUP. Everyone else was playing polo on their boards. I was just falling in standing upright. 

But I was falling with enthusiasm. Totally counts.

I had the most AMAZING weekend and after hugs and promises to write I left Germany with some beautiful kit, new friends and some amazing memories.

ASICS International Meeting, you were BRILLIANT. Thanks for the adventure.

Monday, 14 August 2017

London Marathon: I'm SO sorry random man. It was the SUGAR.

I always get extremely excited before the London Marathon. I don't know why, I've done plenty of marathons but there's something authentic about the London Marathon. Maybe it's the size, or the landmarks or maybe that I know I'll see familiar faces among the 30 odd thousand people running. I'm not sure. But I feel very special to be able to run it.

And as a result I always get horribly overexcited even WHILE I'm running it. Most people get to mile 19 or 20 and start shutting up. Me? I'm AWFUL to run with. I get MORE excited the closer we get to the end.

Excited? Moi?

And this year was no different. Here's a quick video I took at about mile 19. The girl I'm running with is my friend Ann. The man? No idea. He was running nearby so I decided to get an impromptu video. 

Random Man, if you should ever read this I'm SO sorry. I'm sure the last thing you wanted ¾ of the way through the marathon was some insane woman asking you questions and being all hyperactive. Blame all the sugary gels.


Ann and I ran together until 20 miles at 8 min/miles as agreed and then I think the enthusiasm got too much for her and I buggered off to finish the last 6 miles on my own. It's ok. She forgave me. And probably had a lovely peaceful last 6 miles without the inane chatter. And the videoing. And the ridiculous selfies.

Luckily she didn't have enough energy at 20 miles to smack me in the chops. 

Race splits

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Coventry Way 40: Sulks & Rabbits High on Pick'n'Mix

A day of decisions … it was forecast to be very hot so I had to be sensible with the weight of my race vest.

So I decided to pack as light as possible, forgoing even the hand sanitiser (ergo absolutely no al fresco poos) but decided to be safe with food. So packed my my body weight in snacks. Normal Sarah decision making model right there.

THIS is why I'm not allowed to take the run photos ...

I had a couple of speedy friends racing the event so thought I’d run with them for as long as possible before I was dropped. The conversation would make the miles go past quicker and they could chat and I could listen while I was trying to breathe and not die at the pace they were making me go. I hadn't seen Richie or Mike for ages and they'd both had some exciting adventures recently on the Bob Graham Round and I wanted to hear all about it.

We met at the pub early at 8:30am so we could go off with the relay teams and use them as pacers. (This is one of the beauties of this race – it starts AND ends at the pub so somewhere to park up and a pint at the end while cheering everyone else in). We considered starting earlier but although we wouldn't get the hot sunshine we might also miss the opening times for some of the later checkpoints and I wasn’t going to miss my chance at scoffing chewy crisps and melted winegums. Thank you VERY MUCH. That's about 80% of the reason I race ultras right there.

We had a chilled out start while getting our kit and shoes on and we stood around and admired Mike’s solar powered shower, compared race packs and discussed the benefits of elastic lacing. (Nice and bouncy but frays in case you were wondering) … and then realised the relay teams were nowhere to be seen. They’d already left while we’d been discussing snacks.

The Coventry Way has staggered start times which means you can start at any time between 5:30am and 10am which is good for chronic procrastinators like me, but bad if you're planning on catching other teams or trying to race a buddy. It means that when you see other runners, you never know when they started their race so it can turn into a bit of a mind game. “Are they in front of me? Behind me? In a relay? Are they planning on trampling me then looting my pack for snacks?”

We decided that we'd admired the solar shower enough and got a move on to register quickly inside the Queen's Head and at 8:31am we were pegging it down the pub steps in an attempt to catch sight of the relay runners.

Me, Richie, Mike

The race starts with a steep set of steps and then up a sharp grassy field. You get no time to warm up before you're pelting uphill with your heart hammering, feeling as though your lungs are about to come up your throat before you come into the churchyard of St Laurence in Meriden. One of the benefits of this event though is that it's mainly through fields and trails which means there are multiple kissing gates, stiles and other things to climb through / over and around. While this might not initially sound like a benefit, it IS because it means you get to have a sneaky breather every couple of minutes. If you can't visualise it, imagine a running track, covered in grass and with hurdles every 100 metres … but instead of jumping the hurdles you have to climb laboriously over them, while carrying your bodyweight in pick'n'mix, 2 litres of water and assorted other bits and pieces which seemed absolutely crucial the night before when you packed your race vest.

On the plus side, the more snacks you eat, the less weight you have to carry.

I was enjoying running with Richie and Mike who were brilliant, entertaining company. Mike had recently completed the Bob Graham round in a bit over 23 hours and Richie had been Snack Monitor and pacer for sections. It sounded like an amazing adventure – if absolutely insane – and the miles flew past in a whirl of conversation about lonely peaks and howling winds. Very strange in the hot April day.

We caught up the Kenilworth relay ladies and had a brief chatter – they were running really strongly and I saw my friend Cath from Northbrook who was running the Coventry Way as training for the Lakeland 50 later in the year. I love this about this event – every mile brings more familiar faces. It's definitely a bonus to have such a great run so local to home.

Richie had been suffering with an injury and while he was speediest short distance runner between us, he wasn't enjoying the run or the faster paced miles along the Kenilworth Greenway. He dropped back at CP1 to grab a refill of his water and then caught us up a bit further along the road but dropped back again. I was a bit concerned about leaving him but Mike reassured me that he'd discussed this with Richie before the event and they'd agreed to run together as long as Richie wasn't too sore. Better to slow down than aggravate an injury. Slow down and eat all the snacks today, go on to run another day. Or something.

Mike was going for the Kenilworth Runners Coventry Way record which was 6:40 so we were aiming to stay below 10min/miles which would bring us in just below it. This sounds a very easy pace, but the terrain is deceptively tough and with over 80 stiles and kissing gates, there was the additional time spent climbing these, checking our numbers into the volunteers and refilling our water bladders which would eat into our margin of time. We decided to run between 8-9 min/miles to try and give us some leeway for when the heat rose.

There was a diversion after the greenway so rather than our usual climb up the rather awful Knowle Hill at Kenilworth, we had to follow the main road while leaping into the hedge to avoid the traffic every now and then. This would miss out the golf course as there was a tournament on and it was felt a bunch of scruffy runners might lower the tone and get in the way of the balls.

The temperatures were really rising now and it was already the hottest day of 2017. People were shedding layers and looking like very garish lycra clad mummies, with race kit wrapped around their waists and shoulders. I was feeling very smug about remembering the sun cream despite it only being April. Mind, it was the ONLY thing I was being smug about. I'd dropped my pick'n'mix somewhere and had visions of hyperactive bunnies bouncing around deliriously happy in a sugar haze. I was overheating and grumpy.

I saw my husband about mile 13. He was looking even grumpier than me. Although it was probably only his usual running face. He isn't really THAT keen on running. I probably shouldn't have entered him into a 40 mile race, really. He DEFINITELY wasn’t looking happy. I passed him and turned around to ask if he was ok. He said “NO!” and then told me to go on. In a REALLY cross voice and waved the route map at me. I did what I was told for once.

A lot of the fields were ploughed but it wasn't nice soft earth, it was lumpy, high ridges which were solid dirt and hard as tarmac and which would turn your ankle if you didn't pay enough attention. I picked my way across, conscious that Mike was really moving on and I'd have to keep the pace up or I'd be running on my own. I couldn't ask him to slow down for me and jeopardise his shot at the club record.

We came up to Ryton-on-Dunsmore which gave us a bit of road to run on. I liked this bit – it reminded me of my 35th birthday which I'd decided to celebrate by running 35 miles on the CoventryWay but it was 40 miles and it was December and cold. But hell. We did it. And because it was December we got mulled wine when we finally made it back to the pub.

We crossed the road and ran a few miles down the A45 with cars and lorries zipping past, marvelling at these ragtag runners, sweating and burning in the sunshine. Over the hill and towards Brinklow and the Roman Fort. I love this bit. Yes it's uphill and I MAY have used the ultra rules and walked this bit. Y'know … if a marble rolls down it, then I'M not running up it. Any excuse for a walk and a snack! Spotted Lee in her red and white Massey top and had a quick chat then over the fort and back down towards Brinklow and CP4 …

...which had completely disappeared.

OK. Which sod has stolen the checkpoint? We spent a bit of time wandering around aimlessly before giving in and asking a dog walker for directions. The CP had been moved to a hut tucked away in a far corner of the field (bonus mileage apparently) so got ourselves moving towards it and through the door. I needed to fill up my water bladder so Mike grabbed some snacks and went and I agreed to chase him down. One of my run club buddies, Jo was in front of me for the queue for the cola. Cheeky cow pinched the last bit of cola. She totally owes me a drink next time I see her at the pub.

Sprinted out of the CP and caught Mike up on the trail out towards Nettle Hill Bridge. I was having a tough time now and actively looking forward to the stiles as it gave me a chance to slow up a bit and take a bit of a breather while I waited to climb it. What awful irony. Me who loves a run but hates any kind of cross training …

I lost Mike around mile 27 on the canal section. My least favourite bit. Several miles of unshaded, bumpy, muddy path which all looked EXACTLY THE SAME. I stopped to tie a shoelace and Mike was going on ahead. I was going to call to ask him to wait … but couldn't. It had always been the agreement that the club record was the priority.

So now here I was. On the equivalent of an outdoor treadmill. Not even a canal boat to break up the monotony. Got a proper grump on … and started walking. Then started sulking. I decided I was too hot, too grumpy, I'd lost my pick'n'mix so I was going to drop out at the next checkpoint. Stupid running. Stupid stiles. Stupid rabbits eating my pick'n'mix sweets.

I got to the next checkpoint. Which was in a field. In the middle of nowhere. With no cider OR snacks.

Screw dropping out here. I'd drop out at the NEXT checkpoint.

I started running. I wanted to be able to drop out as soon as possible after all. Then ground to another sulky halt at a massive lumpy ploughed field. I'd swear the ridges were as high as my knees. Well I am a bit short. I passed the time by grumbling with another runner who was also enjoying the field as much as I was. Apparently the farmer had ploughed it 2 weeks before the event. ON PURPOSE. Stupid farmers. Stupid fields. Stupid running.

I remembered the next bit so had a bit of a trot. Then the next bit. Oh ok. Well THIS bit isn't too bad. And there's a duck. I like ducks.

Me and Roy from Rugby Tri

I decided to carry on for a bit. There was a checkpoint a bit further on and it would be a shame to miss out on the chewy crisps and curling sandwiches. Saw a couple of runners who were undecided about the route so gave them directions and decided to run with them for a bit. Had a chat for a while completely not knowing that I was running with Roy who I'd been talking to on Facebook about the event – a fellow Rugby Tri member. He was running with Eddie who he'd met up with during the event and they'd teamed up as they were both running about the same pace. Ran into CP5 with Eddie and Roy and saw Amy – a really good ultrarunner who has done more 100 milers than I've run parkruns. She always looks so cheerful and is one of the most laid back people I know. She probably wouldn't even fight me for the sweets at a checkpoint.

Me and Amy at CP

We ran on out of CP5, through the roads of Bedworth and on towards Stream Junction. More miles in the fields now and I was extremely careful to avoid the stump at mile 33 which I seem to kick EVERY DAMN TIME I run this route. Very pleased to say I managed to knock THAT tradition on the head this year. Who knows, I may come through this season with toenails intact. Nah … it wouldn't be marathon training unless I had at least one toenail banging around in my sock at the end of a long run.

We saw Anne-Marie in this section – she is one of the smiliest people I know – even at mile 35 of a long run. We stopped for a quick photo and then ran on to find more trails.

Me and Anne-Marie
Roy and I left Eddie a few miles before CP6. He was having a really tough time, having trained in the damp and cold of English springtime and was struggling with a knee injury. He told us to go on and we promised we would wait at the end and spring him a pint of cold beer. Roy and I ran on, up a PLOUGHED FIELD. It seems that my 2nd wind comes around mile 35 of an ultra. There wasn't even any swearing about farmers this time.

Roy was doing amazingly well. This was his first ultra and even at mile 35, he was running and chatting away quite happily. I wondered whether he was on some sort of drugs. And if so why he wasn't sharing them.

Saw Amy again and we kept leap frogging in the race. Nice to see a friendly face. Not so nice when she kept overtaking me. I'd have sulked but she'd just too nice. Still wasn't going to share any of my sweeties with her though.

Roy and I ran through Corley Moor, soaring on our 'Almost-The-End-Of-A-Long-Run' enthusiasm and and checked in at the last checkpoint by the pub. THE PUB. Where families were sitting around in the sunshine and drinking beer. COLD COLD BEER.

Dammit running. I could be sitting there enjoying cold beer if it wasn't for you. Stupid running.

The last mile of the run is all downhill and it's such bliss to be on road. And going downhill. Well … it is for the first half a mile. After that your legs remind you that they've been carrying you for quite some time and they'd quite like a nice rest now if it's all the same with you. And then you remember that the run is over distance and it's over 40 miles and you STILL can't see the pub at the end.

And then the Queen's Head comes into view. And the food tent.

And then it's all over.

One of the best things about this race as Mike reminded me, is that it starts and ends at the pub so no matter how hellish your day is, you know you can finish it with a pint in a chair.

In fact it was a pretty decent day. I got a suntan, a pint, a couple of new friends and was 1st lady and 5th overall and got new Northbrook ladies Cov Way record :)

Me and Jo. Still friends even if she got the last of the cola ...

Plus I was TOTALLY counting this 40 mile race as 2 x 20 mile runs for London Marathon in 2 weeks.

TOTALLY counts, right?

Me and Eddie. Got my pint!

Sad to say that Mike missed his club record by ONE minute. But next year my money's on him smashing it.

More info about the event: Coventry Way
Strava link: Strava