Friday, 4 January 2013

Tales of the unexpected!

Since the last post I was just about the embark on the Stansted Stagger.

This was a 25 mile trail route organised by the Long Distance Walkers Assoc. (LDWA). They are a group that focuses on walkers but also hold events open to runners such as the Stagger which is a 25 mile trail route starting and finishing in the small village of Stansted Mount fitchet in Essex.

I was asked by a fellow running club member if I would like to join him on a slow run of the course and I thought this would suit my ultra training. I decided to wear the New balance MT110’s even though I’d only worn them for a few miles and again combined them with the Sealskinz ankle waterproof socks.

Because I knew the pace would be slow I packed some extra kit in my OMM rucksack and at 8.30 we started the route with a slowish jog. The kit I was using felt good and I was looking forward to the day especially as the weather looked to be clear but soon our pace slowed again and we were soon run/walking. My partner was feeling ill and as a result we eventually came to a halt at around 10 miles. Up to this point we’d been ok but he was now being sick and I had visions of him pulling out at the single CP that was coming up as I was a little worried.

We had already been passed by many runners but now we were even being over taken by walkers. I wasn’t a race so wasn’t an issue for me really, I was just concerned for my mate. He’s a very experienced runner though so unless it got silly I was going to let him make his own mind up.

Kit wise, up till now we’d covered large patches of water and deep mud and with care the footwear had done its job and my feet were even dry!!!! We got to the CP and set about eating and drinking as much as possible J I love this bit! Looking back, the only kit points at this stage wear my back was wet from sweat due to the backpack and was cold as it couldn’t dry due to lack of ventilation. This wasn’t a huge issue but due to the slow pace would prove to niggle. Also the pack was causing my shirt to ruck up my back which meant I regularly had to pull it down but again nothing to bad.

My friend was starting to look a bit better so we started on the home leg but after a while I knew any chance of running was gone and we walked the rest of the way. I pulled on my windproof after a while as the air was a little chilled where I was sweating and that was fine.

Regarding sweating and fuelling. Unlike a run, I’d not drunk loads and I’d not even felt the need to have any of the gels which I’d brought. This was interesting and a showed that the slower pace equalled a different strategy required and this would probably be the same on the ultra coming up.

We eventually finished in 7.5 hours (including 20 mins lunch) and even though it was slow, the experience of time on feet really helped especially as the terrain was really difficult. I loved the event as it was so well run and will definitely sign up to the LDWA and more events.

In the days after the Stagger, I noticed also that the legs didn’t feel sore at all? Again not sure 100% why but can’t be a bad thing? As a result 2 days later I decided to fit in the last of my long runs.

I planned a route that I knew would be approx. 17-20 miles mixing road and trail. This time out I wore MT110’s with normal socks as it wasn’t as wet and ran with my Inov-8 bum bag.

The course was quite hilly taking in one of the highest “peaks” in Essex and despite not feeling up for it at the start, I was really enjoying the early morning sunrise in the country. I decided to test out the lack of gels in the Stagger event by running as far as I could before refuelling. I used my handheld bottle filled with hydration tabs and ate a few wine gums on the way, it wasn’t until 15 miles that I decided I’d take a gel where normally I’d start at 5 miles. I’m sure taking them early doesn’t hurt and I sent an email to the well-known ultra runner Catra Corbett in the States recently and in her reply she said that one of her biggest tips was fuel early! Oh and to “Kick Ass!”

I got to the end of my running actually thinking I could carry on but called it a day with 17.5 miles on the clock. Again the recovery was amazing and I even did another few miles the day after.

I’ll try and fit another couple of 10 milers before the 45 next week but really now rest J


  1. Ian,

    An event that might interest you (if a little out of your area) is Combe Gibbet to Overton in April. It's 16 miles along the undulating Wayfarers Walk in West Berks & North Hants.
    I'm doing it for the first time this year (in my Xeros of course!).

    You can find details at


  2. Cheers Simon... Don't mind a bit of travelling and actually appreciate the new areas :) Might have to get a barefoot group there!

  3. My own local race (which I organise) is the Gibbet Challenge ( Only a 10K however.
    Anna and David (Barefoot Running UK) have suggested they may come along this year if available.