This is a proper way to spend a bank holiday. Not traipsing around IKEA looking for stools.
I arrived on Saturday morning with Ian Corless and was immediately getting in the way of an adventure race where runners and cyclists have to travel to far out checkpoints and earn as many points as possible in five hours. The location was great for this, a private estate about 10 miles from Plymouth with very little traffic and great scenery. We bumped into a few of the Endurance Life crew and chatted over coffees and seaweed burgers.
I was tempted to do the Aquatrail, a new format from Endurance Life in the UK based on the O till O race in Sweden where you run across islands and swim between them. However I did not have a wetsuit and though I tried some second hand ones on (and ripped them a bigger backside) I was more worried about the temperature of the water and decided that in my first outing as an Endurance Life Ambassador I probably should avoid situations where I have to be rescued from the sea frozen.
We watched the Aquatrail, it looked horrible. Most of them seemed to be enjoying it though, running in a wetsuit along the beach and then swimming in trainers around a bouy and then heading back out of the sea where the general comments were "that's f****g horrible" before running some sections swimming more. In total 10k was covered, 2k in water in 9 swims and 9 runs. The winner was Serpie Will Forbes in a time of 1.36 or somewhere there abouts. Neil Bryant did pretty well too despite doing breast stroke in the swim. I would have done breast stroke if I had done it. Doing front crawl makes it harder to chat to people beside you.
It was quite funny watching people running around the estate in cut up old wetsuits. They were clearly boiling.
Later that day we sat beside a campfire and listen to a professional storyteller thrill us the the tale of how the secret of fire was given to the human race from the mouth of a dragon via a wily fox, a nimble squirell, a brave badger and a slippery frog. All seemed to add up to me. Dan Bent was getting excited like a little child about it. I admit I got excited about the badger.
It was great to discover that the beer vans were seeling a couple of local Devon beers as well as the regular Carlspiss Export. Carlsberg don't do beer, cos if they did it will be rubbish. I enjoyed drinking lots and lots of those throughout the day. The food was great too, a choice of veggie burgers or meat burgers. I tried allsorts, chickpea burgers, bean burgers, seaweed burgers as well as the old classics, Cow and baby sheep.
While watching the end of the aquatrail I missed the start and finish of the backwards race which I was keen to do. Later we were treated to the Live More Lectures where people come in and talk about amazings things they have done before. I was honoured to do such a talk a few months ago in Angelssey about my race across the USA. I think I broke the record for "erms" in a talk. It was my first one though and I have got much better since.
Tonights bill started with Richard Askwith, author of Feet in the Clouds and in a typically British and Fell Running understated way he brought the world of fell running to us. It was an amazing talk and I don't think he mentioned his book at all which is great and well worth reading. His talk spoke about the Bob Graham Round, an epic 24 hour challenge in the Lake District that involves climbing the 42 biggest peaks in the area within a day. Yes it's on the list. In the question and answers session I mentioned a couple of friends of mine James Edgar and Allan Hall were just finishing the Bob Graham Round as we sat and whether he would talk to them at the end when it was confirmed they had finished. He said he would but unfortuately had to leave before they had finished (which they both did in 23 hours). Amazing effort.
Another amazing ultra running effort that concluded that day was Rainer Koch finishing the John O Groats to Lands End race. His time was astonishing, running 10 hour 100ks for 15 days in a row without seeming to break sweat. Neil ran with him a bit earlier in the week and could not believe how effortless he made such a difficult mega multi day race.
Chris Martin then spoke about rowing across the North Pacific. 6 months in a boat with one other guy while rowing 2 hours on and 2 hours off. Mental. Tempting. We then had a presentation from Vic Verdier on natural movement followed by a great talk of a couple of ladies Tori James and Anna Shekdhar who climbed Everest. Not on the list. For now.
Anyhoo I think I had too much beer and we headed back to our hotel at around midnight and had an early start for the main event of the weekend. As usual there were choices of an ultra (36 miles) Marathon (28 miles) Half marathon (15.5 miles) and 10k (13k). I think the Endurance Life measuring wheel is broken.
I woke up, tired from not doing a lot other than talking, listening, drinking and eating. It was time to do something else that I like doing, running in amazing locations. This area of the coast was beautiful like all other events. It's great just how stunning yet varied each of the coastal events are and if you don't believe me look at these great photos from Kris Duffy who took loads across the 7 hitherto Endurance Life races.
I lined up at the start with Oli Sinclair and Neil, with no hope of keeping up with them who in turn had no hope of keeping up with another guy who has represented the UK in the Olympics for the marathon in Syndey. I was hoping to have a good run but it really didn't turn out like that.
The first few miles were on some nice trail and then there were a few muddy sections. There was a wrong turning taken by most early on, mostly by the ambassadors. Never Ever follow them in a race.. The miles just didn't seem to be going by today and it took seemingly ages to get to just 4.9 of them. I ran to the second checkpoint faster getting to about 12 miles in two hours and then I just got a brain piercing headache. It could have been dehydration, I was drinking plenty of water and electrolyte so I suspect it may have been the previous day of drinking nothing but beer and coffee. Actually that is what I normally drink.
A silverlining was that I was given a pair of Wigwam socks by Ed to try out and they were awesome. My feet wouldregularly get immersed in water but only took a few minutes to get warm again. I've never really thought about socks before, I just wear normal socks from M&S but these were really great. Even when my shoe came off in the mud. I was most upset to find out on getting home that I now only have one wigwam sock. Doh.
Well anyway I suffered with a headache for the rest of the run which was beautiful but I decided to "only" do the marathon and skip the last 8 miles. If I needed an excuse it was that I wanted to go back for a nutrition talk that started at 3 and if I did the ultra I would have missed it. I know what you are thinking, "what do I need to learn about nutrition" but it was a great talk and demonstration from Ed Chapman, half of Ed and Phil and I really enjoyed it. Have a look at their website for more info.
After finishing the run I chatted for about 5 minutes, went over to the burger van and then had to lie down in possibly the worst state I have been in after a race (except perhaps my first Spartathlon and some days in New Mexico last year). I don't know what came over me but I felt dizzy and sick and had to lie down, still with the headache. After about an hour and a paracetemol it disappeared.
Later in the evening people were more up for drinking and the local beers ran out leaving us with the fizzy Danish wee. There were more great talks again, kicked off by Anne Daniels who told us about going to the North Pole. She has the most time ofany woman spent in the arctic and it was a very impressive challenge. Next was Ian Corless who stunned the audience with a really gripping tale of running 8 marathons in 8 days during a time of close family crisis. I really wasn't expecting to hear anything quite like that and it was possibly the bravest talk I have heard so far. Amazing.
The talks were finished off with Debra Searle who became famous for rowing with her husband across the Atlantic despite him leaving her after two weeks. She made it to the end on her own and was hilarious. The quality of the talks was amazing.
So all in all a fantastic weekend and I recommend anyone to pencil this in for next year.