Picture by PictureArt
Date: 28-29 March 2015
Back and forth along a section of East Coast Park over 16 hours
Terrain: Concrete/tarmac pathways.
Location: Singapore
Check Points: Every 2.5km with food and drink. The mid-way has the most food (sandwiches, pot noodles, watermelon, and more) and loads of toilets along the route.
Scenery: Sea, airplanes, ships, people having BBQs, restaurants. Between 7 - 11pm expect a lot of people on the pathway from the Event Site to U-turn Point 2

My nutrition: During an ultra I like to eat protein, fat and some carbs. During the night I had 2 Tai Pao (big buns) filled with chicken, egg and fat bits + 2 cliff bars + 2 crackers + 4 cups of coffee (3 in 1) + an ice lolly someone passed me (thank you).

Website: http://www.twilightultrachallenge.com
PictureThe revised incomplete mural
Twilight is an event , located along the East Coast  of Singapore, where you choose your own distance to complete within 16 hours. The event starts at 7pm and continues until 11am the next day.  At least temperatures will be in the 20s (degs Celsius) rather than the 30s. It would have probably have been wise to have had an afternoon nap before the event. Although that would have been unlikely in my household, where the kids and I were painting a mural.

My "little monkeys", originally wanting to create a mural with dragons attacking people, were persuaded to change it to a less violent picture with a "How to Train Your Dragon" theme.  Time passed quickly as we painted, and the time to venture into the Twilight zone soon arrived.

Going the Distance
Now prior to the event the question of "Going the Distance" seemed to take on a poignant  reminder of recent historic events: the passing of a leader, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), who led the country to its current position and the significance it enjoys in the world today. The relevance to this particular event being the limits of time to achieve distance. As LKY demonstrated stamina to stand for progress!

The Number 91
LKY was the first Prime Minister (1959) and the founding father of the economic success of Singapore, passed away on the 23rd March 2015 at 3:18am at the grand age of 91.

Tyre Boy (Ah Siao) had earlier on sent out an invite to a number of folk to join him to run 91 km for LKY. The organisers put up a special 1km turning point for anyone wanting to achieve the distance. The possibility of running that within 16 hours with a tyre on tarmac paths was very slim unless it rained (Tring the tyre glides on wet paths). Tring normally completes marathons in 7-9 hours.

As it so happened it turned out to be a relatively warm, humid night, where temperatures felt in the late 20s and parts of the pathways were sticky.  After a 91 second silence to mark LKY's passing, the event started. I reflected on Singapore and the days that have been spent mourning the death of this very special leader.

Have been told that the 1st 3 deputy prime ministers that served with LKY also died when they were 91. Here's what I found:
  • Dr. Toh Chin Chye: 10 Dec 1921 - 3rd Feb 2012 = age 90 (10 months and 7 days shy of 91)
  • Goh Keng Swee: 6 October 1918 – 14 May 2010 = age 91
  • S. Rajaretnam: 25 February 1915 – 22 February 2006 = 90 (just 3 days shy of 91)

The Number 65 and a Bit of Singapore History
When Singapore was thrown out of Malaysia on 9th August 1965, LKY had to regain credibility and created a vision for Singapore to strive towards - to be a multiracial, clean, green country.
  • Multiracial - to improve harmony and diversity within the society and for meritocracy to be applied in all government positions.
  • Clean -  to improve living/hygiene standards; as well as amongst government officials and within business practices.
  • Green - to improve living conditions in the local environment: flora and fauna rather than dull grey concrete building blocks and grey road dividers that are seen in many cities.

Days earlier I had joined the thousands to pay my last respects to LKY at Parliament House. Waiting in line for 4 hours, one lady commented on appreciating LKY but found the many rules and regulations tiring.

I could not hold back and reminded her that these rules have greatly reduced corruption and keep Singapore clean, such as banning the sale of chewing gum, penalties for littering, spitting, and not flushing.

Rules like these were necessary to transform Singapore from a 3rd world Asian country with little resources to a 1st world and 1st class business hub. The surrounding countries should be on a more advanced standing, unfortunately the inability to change has caused those countries to progress at the pace of a tortoise.
Queue to Parliament House on 28th March

Some Stats and facts:
- In the UK, it costs the country £60 million/year to clean up chewing gum off the streets (source: Local Govt Association)
- Spitting can spread airborne diseases like tuberculosis

PictureMaslow's Hierarchy of Needs
She agreed and repeated "But sometimes these rules are too much".  I suggested she should consider traveling to other countries to appreciate what she had here. I pointed out that some parts of the UK and the USA are struggling to provide their citizens with suitable levels of Safety. In Singapore concerns of drug abuse is low due to the enforced death penalty; drinking of alcohol in public places has now been placed within a time frame to reduce alcohol abuse/violence; fear of being shot is practically non-existent, and as a woman one feels safe to travel on the public transportation.

Generations of Singaporeans feel a sense of accomplishment and belonging due to Singapore to where it is today.  The astute LKY was a visionary and an intelligent leader, in my opinion, the greatest leader in all time.

The lady agreed, perhaps to close the conversation and stop my "nationalistic jabber", adding
that when she traveled out of Singapore, it was a pleasure to come back to a place where things worked and she could always find a clean toilet!

The number 50:
Singapore has reached their 50th year of independence.

Back to the Event
As the night forged ahead, I went into ballad mode, singing all sorts of songs. At about 3:18, with my mind reflecting on LKY's dedication to Singapore, I was singing the national anthem. At the U-turn pt 2 (see map at top), the volunteers had become a choral group, and their angelic voices blended together to continue the anthem.
PicturePolystyrene balls littered along Pulau Ubin coastline
The Green Vision
I have always appreciated the greenery within the city however would like to see Singapore be far more green. Around the different coast lines, plastic trash drifts onto the beaches. The white dots seen in the picture is the result of the degradation of disposable polystyrene cups and bowls and we know the marine life are ingesting these polystyrene plastic bits. Additionally
of about 0.7 million tonnes/year of plastic waste is produced in Singapore, only 10% is recycled. The rest is burned and goes to landfill.

Was happy to see we were encouraged to BYO (Bring Your Own) bottles to this event.  Would be great if participants were also encouraged to carry their bottle so that check points would not have to provide plastic cups at the U-turn points. Furthermore participants might be encouraged to BYO cups to contain hot liquids so that polystyrene cups would not have to be used. 

PictureTring completed 65 km
The Numbers Game
  • 16 participants completed 91 to honour LKY.
  • One participant completed 90 km - LKY was PM until 1990
  • 3 participants completed their distances of 50km and 45 km in 9.1 hours.
  • 51 participants completed their distances of 50km - the number of years Singapore has been independent
  • 9 participants completed 65km - Singapore was given independence in 1965.

Thank You List
Thank you:
  • To the many who signed the tyre as a pledge to reduce their single-use plastic garbage. It is easy to do by bringing your own cup, cutlery, plate and bottle to all events (Steve, Andrew, Eric, Priscilla, Henry, Sam, a number of volunteers and other runners).
  • To the high fives, salutes and thumbs up from participants, as well as conversations with Henry, Sam, Andrew and Eric to keep me entertained.
  • To 2 supporters whose names I've forgotten who passed me a coffee and the other passed me a delicious popcicle.
  • To Aunty Jo, my most excellent friend, who kept me upright in the Singapore marathon in 2006 - my first marathon ever. Thank you for letting me encourage you to complete 65km. It was an honour to have completed the last 5km with you.
  • To the wonderful organisers, volunteers and photographers who worked throughout the night, looking after us all.
  • To Ripley for sorting me out for this event.

PictureCheck Point 7
Date: 21-22nd February 2015
Type: Self-supporting.

Circular with markers

trail - snow and ice. Expect soft deep snow when going through two "pain in the arse" forest sections. Snow shoes would definitely be useful.

Check Points: There are 9 checkpoints at different spacing. Longest distance between 2 check points is 35 km. All except one check point has water and a fire.

Scenery: Lakes, very quiet villages
, lots of forest sections. This is a very peaceful race

Website: http://www.rovaniemi150.com/

24th Feb:
My housemates observe: "You sound sick".
I respond a little dismissive "maybe"
Housemate 1: "Did you race?"
Housemate 2: "You know it is dangerous to do physical exertion when you have not completely recovered from a cold. It is bad for the heart"

My mind reflected back to last week. In the past my body has been able to shake off a cold within 3 days.  So when a cough eased into me on the17th Feb, I expected it to be gone by the 20th Feb. 18th Feb I had fever, 19th Feb I was sneezing and occasionally coughing......Friday I believed I was feeling better. However a Polish group of supporters/racers give me some "drugs". I readily took the Ibuprofen that day, before bed and in the morning of race day. Besides a little niggle cough I felt pretty well on race day.
PictureThe amazing positive women
21st Feb
Temperature range was predicted to be a warm -1 to -4 degrees Celcius. So I wore:
- Legs: Running tights and shorts
- Feet: 2 thin pairs of socks + waterproof socks + gaitors over running shoes
to reduce snow entering in
- Top: Sports bra, technical vest top, pink base layer + shell
- Neck gaitor and head band
- Thin base layer gloves + one pair of glove/mitts

We (Lumi and myself) took our position with the rest
of the group. There were at least 10 women participating. 2 in the 66 North and rest of us in the 150K. These women bubbled with positive energy. It was contagious.

Start - CP1 (Porohovil) = 10.9K
The start is flat and fast along the river. The sled slid fairly easily despite my tyre buddy Lumi's extra weight. This meant we could jog all the way to the first check point in 1.5 hours.

CP1 - CP2 (Sinetta) = 10.3K

The route transitions from the river into a village and then onto undulating forest trails. CP2 is a vehicle set up just before the first "pain in the arse" forest section of deep snow and pine tree obstacles.

PictureLeaving CP1
CP2 - CP3 (Vittavaara) = 23K
I armed myself with snow shoes. Lumi had a glint in her threads. It looked like someone had dug out trenches in the snow that we would have to pull our sleds over.  But perhaps these were "snow angels" and deep holes cut out by the earlier bikers. These would cause the sleds to topple over. Lumi hung on steadfast despite the bucking sled. She was awesome.

Lots of "things" were being left in this section.
Someone had forgotten to take their harness with them, and was left hanging off one of the sign posts. The Englishman in front lost his roll mat when he had not noticed his pulk was dragging upside down. Fortunately there was a Spanish pair who picked it up and chased after him. I picked up a thermos flask as well as a mobile phone that was buried in the snow. Alex' (RD) reclaimed the phone, having lost it in that section the week before!

Met Simone (Canadian) who had been suffering with cold/flu before the race and in this section decided to stop before she wrecked damage on herself.
Gave her a hug and decided to continue on with my journey as I still felt reasonable.

PictureAbout 18K of river
This 700m took 45 minutes to get through and then turned onto a lake.

It was suggested that there might be overflow along this area. However, being daylight, it was easy to see where there could have been possible underfoot problems. Some bikers beforehand  had made cuts into the ice where the ground might have been soft.

It was here when I first met the three Belgium guys who were enjoying being out together. We would be seeing each other often as we leaped frogged each other from here until check point 7.

Picture3 Belgium Guys enjoying each others camaraderie
They got to CP3 15 minutes before me and had dinner (@17:30). I sorted out my hair (it had been annoying me for a while and if I had a pair of scissors, I would have chopped off the fringe) and got my large jacket out for the night section.

CP3 - CP4 (Morajarvi) = 15K
My mind was extremely alert however I found myself slightly disconnected with myself. As the night got colder and windier, I found that I began to cough more. I slowed down my pace as a precaution and found I coughed less.

This 15K section took 3 hours to complete.

CP4 - CP5 (Peurajarvi) = 12K
This was the second "pain in the arse" section through deep snow and "biker trenches". The sled got caught on branches and Lumi was finding it a little more difficult to get  through the tree gateways. The "open seasame" password was not the same as the previous forest section. Then came the bridge section.

Lumi was too wide for the bridge posts. However the bridge was narrow and she spent a good 15 minutes being stuck on just a short bridge section. We laughed at the absurdity. Am sure Lumi was laughing with me as her rubber midriff was trapped. "Lumi you need to lose weight!"

Found another dropped thermos flask in this section.

PictureAt CP6
The chest seemed to not appreciate the hauling and it felt heavier and congested. 3.5 hours later at CP5, decided to take a 1/2 hour rest. After all they say "rest is good for a cold".

CP5 - CP6 (Kuusilampi) = 10K
Just outside of CP5, the Belgium guys decided to kip down for the night. I snuck pass them, knowing I would see them later.

My mind was still very alert but my chest was indicating other things were happening and my throat felt it had a lump. However I could still breathe through my nose. 3 hours later, I got to CP6 and a strained voice came out from me. I had time so decided to rest for an hour in a hut that had a log smouldering away and an Italian participant who was in a deep slumber.

PictureA nice warm hut
My mind was too awake. I had to get up and change my socks. I made my way back to the hut with Jaana and Olli (marshals) as it was warm. As I tried to speak, I began to wheeze. I looked at Jaana, shocked at what was happening. The last time I wheezed was over 10 years ago when I had an allergic reaction to a new carpet.

"Oh dear I might have to stop" I gasped to Jaana.
"Do you want to stop?" Jaana responded.
As the wheezing continued,  I took deep breaths and thought calm thoughts so that I would breathe properly...."Let me give myself an hour to think about it"
"Be wise with your decision" Jaana seemed to warn

I dried my shoes and thought about it. I had a whole day in front of me and would prefer to be outside then back in a hotel room.
"I'm going to take a slow journey to CP7 and see how I feel." Gave Olli and Jaana hugs and I was off onto CP7.

PictureGoing uphill
CP6 - CP7 (Toramokivals) = 34K
I had to move slowly up the hills. Any faster caused my chest to feel tight and the congestion caused me to cough up phlegm. I didn't want to cough any more.

Josh the Italian guy who had been asleep in the cabin overtook me 5K away from the CP. He gave me a hug and continued running. I watched as his pulk smacked into the back of his legs as he went down hill. He unhooked his pulk and ran with it, pulling it along side him.

PictureGoing downhill
A hill + sled would seem to me an opportunity to have a bit of fun...and so woohoo. I entered a road section and saw Maria (event co-coordinator).

"Sorry can't stop and chaaaaattttt", my sled had become a road vehicle and Lumi had become a perfect seat to steer the sled.

I was having fun, but my throat was numb and felt like a fist was inside. I had to approach the hills slowly so that the chest was not being strained. I was wrestling with the thought of finishing my race at CP7.
I wanted to push myself to finish this event, otherwise face regret at not "seeing if I could" but at what cost to myself? The 35K would mean 8-9 more hours.

My mind went to thoughts of my nephews who I was to see the week after. I miss those "monkeys" and I became emotional at the thought of potentially disappointing them if I became too sick after the event.  I imagined my "Singaporean Aunties" telling me off for being so stupid. I had dedicated this event to all of them, and so I made up my mind 15K before the check point that I would force myself to stop even though I would make the cut-off time.

I enjoyed the final 7K of hill fun and made the check point to applause from the Belgium guys. I could no longer speak as phlegm was compressed on the vocal cords and thick chunks were being spewed out.

I was asked to continue 2K  to the road
to meet Maria who would pick me up. As I trudged along, I was changing my mind. Perhaps I would carry on.....and there she was ready to take my sled away. I went willingly after all there is always another time and better a living dog than a dead lion.

Thank you to the race organisers and volunteers for setting up a wonderful race.

Special thanks to
- Julian for lending Lumi to me
- Rachel for caring and looking after many of us in the race.

Note: The night I had stopped, I had coughing fits throughout the night that lasted 2-3 minutes. Had to sit up to sleep.

PictureTG, Bisaniiwewin, Chamey, new kid Fire and Luck High School
Eric (RD for Gandy Dancer): Dear TG, we have a local tire called "Fire" who will be waiting for you at the Luck Community School!

TG: Way coolio - an American tire :)

Amy (Director): Hope you don't mind, we got the whole high school to welcome Fire.

TG: Woohoo!

PictureChamey checking out Fire and Bisaniiwewin's grooves
Bisaniiwewin on her Arrowhead DNF: Life is a game of snakes and ladders. Snakes are there to help us raise our game in life; ladders can be found by being proactive and meeting challenges head on.

TG: I have a buddy called Simon, who is an excellent rock climber. He used to tell me "to be better at rock climbing you have to be willing to fall"....and so in life, the fear of failing can be an obstacle to us progressing forward.

After all, our so called "failures" in life are really a time of learning and reflection, that should help us to change our approach so we can be better at life.

PictureStudents at Luck pledging to reduce their single-use trash
For our environmental failures, we need the next generation to change the way our society works. We are overwhelmed by the extent we are rapidly consuming our resources and polluting our environment. Thus we do nothing.
I choose to focus on one thing - our current disposable society.  So the first challenge to all our "change makers" is to raise their own game by reducing their single-use plastic trash with a B.Y.O attitude (Bring Your Own....bottle/ cup/ plate/ cutlery/ bags/ etc to anywhere that will be providing disposable plastic)

After all the N-Parks slogan is "Leave No Trace". That is a slogan that should be applied to our home, environment, and planet.

TG: Final question - is "Fire" a girl or a boy tire?

Laura (student):
Gender shouldn't matter as long as he or she can do the job.

And so it is, TG has now got a trans-gender tyre called "Fire"
that will live at the Luck Community School to teach them how to run to reduce their risk of getting injured whilst running. A new school sport has been born ..."The Fire Tire Run" .

Thank you Amy for the use of your photos.
Thank you Luck Community School for listening to us (TG + tyres)

Reu is a multi-purpose tyre. She is a racing tyre and a pledge tyre.
PictureReu hanging out with the awards
Organisers: Dear TG, the Cheltenham Challenge would like to present an award to you. Please can you and your tyre (Reu) come to the ceremony? You can have tea and cake whilst Reu gets a rub down.

TG: Dear Cheltenham Organisers, that would be fantastic.

This was Reu's time to bask in appreciation. The worn treads were worth it as she sat with prestige in the chamber of commerce.

Reu tried to angle herself in on the photo shoot of all the event winners. See some of the photos below
At the end of the day, Reu excitedly received her award from the mayor, supported by TG.

The mayor pledges to reduce his single use plastic rubbish by consciously putting in effort to BYO (Bring Your Own) everything that is possible:
- BYO thermal cup for coffee/tea
- BYO reusable drinking bottle for walking events
- BYO reusable bags to the supermarket/shops
- BYO reusable take away containers for take away
- BYO plates/cutlery to events that might provide plastic plates/cutlery
- and anything else you can think of.

It is easier to just put "stuff" in the recycling, it takes effort to change our "disposable" mindset, but the mayor is going to move in that direction. Can you take up the challenge?

As Reu had to be taken away for another event, this means Reu pledges to come back to the Cheltenham Challenge event in the future.

Type of Race/Course: Trail & road with 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 large country estates, 2 castles, and 1 cathedral. Sign posted all the way
Location: Salisbury
CPs: Regular CPs @ every 3 miles.  Water, squash + snacks + cake.
Weather: Raining for 1/2 the time! (my total time was 7:43)
Start Time: 08:15 for the runners; 08:30 for walkers/slow runners
Finish: Salisbury Fire Station
Post Runner Recovery: Certificate + medal
Water + supplies carried: 3 breakfast bars + cocktail sausages

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/salisburyfirestation/salisbury-5-4-3-2-1

Today the world ticked slowly. I tried to boot up, but my system was behaving like a Windows machine. I tried to give it a shock by drinking a cup of tea (caffeine has a long effect on me, well into the night) but the system felt like a file was missing. Girly time had snuck up on me and thus was behaving like a Windows 3.1 system. Only one system task at a time could be completed, all other tasks had to wait or be forgotten.
- I had left my keys in the door - thankfully a friend found them and put them safely away
- I had brought the wrong running gear - thankfully I can just about run in any shoes, even sandals on muddy trails
- I had forgotten my rain gear - thankfully Uncle had a spare jacket
- I had forgotten my water bottle - thankfully there were lots of water stations

My job today was to complete the 50K.

Initially had expected to do better than the last time I completed this event in 2010, but woke up with a headache and a fog had settled in my head. Though I might have drunk enough water at Jeremy's party the night before (the lovely Jeremy from Osmotherly), the first day of "girly time" can demand priority. With the rain pelting down, I would have loved to have stayed in bed. However Jeremy had ensured we were up and about with breakfast ready (thank you Jeremy for all your support). It was important to look for positive points about this event. I readjusted my expectations and simply looked forward to the long downhills.
PictureChamey is under the rain jacket
As we arrived at the fire station, the morning ablutions took over priority. Spying toilet facilities in front of the fire station, I rolled out of the car, pulled all my stuff out and waved good bye to Uncle. It was only after I had been relieved, I realised no water bottle. The mind went into a mild panic wondering how the body would cope. It then readjusted to the knowledge of regular water stops about every 3 miles. Next priority was to pick up numbers etc. and saw a lot of familiar faces. Somehow I had not been registered, thankfully Lido's (RD) daughter sorted me out.

Rain drops were flowing freely from the skies above, nevertheless it was time to soldier on for the 50K before the pack of runners left for their respective events. On leaving the registration, I was told the route had changed from the previous years and was handed a map. The start point swayed from side to side as the wind swirled. I headed for it head down and was sucked through. Within 100 metres, I hit a cross road. An arrow pointed to the left and an arrow pointed straight ahead. I took out the map, which was instantly pelted with rain drops to smear the ink. A foggy head made a quick map confirmation: the left arrow was for the 10K and the yellow arrow was for the 50K. With no one else to follow, I had to do as "Dorothy" (Wizard of Oz) did, I followed the yellow arrows.

PictureAmazing marshals - happy despite the rain
Normally I would run the first 10 miles before drinking anything. I was thirsty after the first 5 metres. I can only blame this "girly time". I needed to focus on breathing through my nose to reduce the water loss, concentrate on smelling the wet pine forest and the wet summer smells. Sometimes I licked the water falling onto my face.....but I knew I was playing a psychological game with myself. Despite the disgusting weather, the marshals were out smiling and applauding, cheerfully handing out water. I took a cup from the first station and kept it with me until the end. Again I was thankful for the plentiful water stations. I stopped at every single one of them and downed many cups of water, paranoid about being dehydrated.

(thank you Barry Light for your encouragement, use of your photos and donations to my cause)

PictureOn the road to the first estate
As I motored down the first downhill, my mind reflected on the event when all the marathon runners had overtaken me at this point. There was no one but walkers. It wasn't until I headed towards the first estate, that marathon runners would past me in a steady stream. More friendly faces passed me by. I was a little confused, but thought there would be a 50K diversion at the end to make up the distance.

Sure there was later a  very narrow passage, a muddy farmland and a barrier to get over that I had not remembered in the previous time I completed the event, however
I felt displaced. As the rain slowed to a piddle, at the back of my mind there was something amiss. For the final 7ish miles, I met James: a triathlete who thought he'd walk the marathon to recover from his last week's triathlete event (see I'm not the only crazy). I recapped with him on the entire route. As we chatted, the dawn arose in my head - my first cross road. 10K + marathon route = 50K.

When ever there is a decision about a direction, I hear Freddy (from Oliver and the Over World) "You can't go wrong if you just go right 'cos right's the proper way! That's what my dear ole grand-dad always used to say". It's a great song, but ain't always right!

I felt an overwhelming sense of failure - I had properly FAILED to complete 50K. Job incomplete. ....but as my friend Welsh Womble would query, what were the 3 Ps?
1. Falling short of the distance meant at least, I completed a marathon distance (42K) in 7:43 - an hour better than the last performance in the Yorkshire Dales and also could add this to my tally.
2. A swollen belly and iron depletion was happy it was only a marathon distance.
3. It was great to be out and about despite the initial weather and we ended in glorious weather...and thus the foggy head had cleared with the sunshine.

Next year is the 20th year of the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 and I will be back to complete 50K properly!

Type of Race/Course: Trail with lots of steep hills in North Yorks. Made the "Hill of Despair" in the Cheltenham marathon (previous blog entry) seem a minor inconvenience! Worth ascending/climbing every mountain for the marvelous English countryside scenery .

The written route description from the site needs to be complimented with a map and some orienteering will be required (see image below)
On the left are the written instructions from the website. I decided to reformat to something I could more easily digest. After all we always have a choice as to how we want to read our situations.

Location: Osmotherly village, North Yorks national park
CPs: There are self CPs (clip yr own card + token into bucket) + regular CPs @ every 3-5 miles. Water, squash + snacks
Weather: @24 degs C; very sunny; very exposed.
Start Time: 09:00 for all runners
Finish: Ends at Osmotherly village
Post Runner Recovery: Certificate + badge + plenty of village pubs to down a pint or three.
Water + supplies carried: 2.5 litres of salty squash + 3 breakfast bars + 2 jam sandwiches + 2 sausages
Mandatory gear: Map, compass, waterproof trousers/jacket

Website: http://osmotherleyphoenix.wikidot.com/
PictureWith Linda (missing Gerry) - end of the event
TG: Dear Organisers, my tyre and I wish to join your marathon. We know not what we are getting ourselves into, but as this is the land for adventure, please can you entertain my tyre desire.

Hi TG – we think you are MAD! This qualifies you and your Tyre for a place in the Phoenix – no extra charge for the tyre!

...and like the merry dwarves..... "hi ho hi ho it's off to research I go...."


PictureThe Cleveland Way. Somewhere in the middle it says Cleveland Hills!
Osmotherley is a village, on the outskirts of the glorious North Yorks national park and the start of this crazy marathon. According to local folklore (well a chappy in the local museum) there was a Viking who presided over the area way before I was born. His name was Asmund or Osmund as the Saxons would say.  One day his mother had gone out and never returned. Her son Osmund became anxious  and went out to search for her. Sadly he found her dying in the snow. Unable to carry her back, he lay down in the snow and died next to her. Thus the place was called Osmund's Mother Lies, hence Osmotherley.

PictureKiwi Alert! Discovering Captain Cook's Schoolroom Museum in Great Ayton
This area is essential history for all the Aussies and Kiwis out there. This is the motherland, the start of where the New World would be mapped out by Captain Cook. So you can do a marathon, stay in some lovely B&Bs or campsites and explore the life of Captain Cook. There are 3 Captain Cook museums, one is free :). Of course, it would be rude not to visit a number of village pubs in this "ancient world" as well as to stuff yourself with fish and chips.

PictureNew Forest runners and the lovely Jeremy
We stayed in a B&B about 5 miles away from Osmotherley called the Swan House. This is an excellent B&B run by Christine and John who cannot do enough for you. Recommended to stay there if you are late booking into the village or cannot get in early enough to the camp site (gates close at 9pm).

Here we met the lovely Jeremy who needed a ride over to the village. Uncle would drop us at the village and be checking into the local Parkrun at Ripon.

Jeremy would accompany me for the first couple of miles, before leaving me in his trail of dust along an ascent up a steep hill.

Lots of hills, disappearing people and Wain Stones on the right
About 6-7 miles in, I lost everyone. I was pretty sure people were following me, but when I looked back there was a deserted trail. In the route description it read: "For the purist, keep ahead and climb Cringle Moor to view finder (GR534034) ...."

Later the route description referred to an alternate route:
"For those who prefer speed to the views, it is possible to contour round Cringle Moor to the North..."

Of course I am a purist, and was pretty sure there would be more purist. I mean what's a hill after having ascended 3 steep hills? A crow circled above and squawked out, "hills roll along this route".
In my head I heard Mohammed Ali say:

"If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain"

So Tyregirl must go up every mountain! The crow squawked "fool, fool" then drifted off over the moors.

I looked up and cried out: "Hills are fun, especially going down!"

...Not these ones! Most of them I had to carry Reu up due to kinks, ruts and rock protrusions along the route. Many of them I could not simply run down due to those same tyre grabbing rocks descending  the hill. And then there were the Wain Stones - a bunch of large boulders thrown up on the top of a hill. Tourist sat out on the canter levers admiring the views below. We had to climb it....as in there was a "high" step and a narrow passage meant I had to lob Reu onto a boulder, which would enable me to step up and shimmy through. Perhaps there was an easier route....oh yes that's where everyone disappeared to.
So I was on my own, no one behind and obviously those who were in front had long disappeared into the horizon.

I had blindly followed the Cleveland Way, and 10 miles in, the signage was not altogether clear as the sun baked upon my head. Thankfully, the map reassured me I was going along the correct route, warning me of more hills along the way......great. My initial enthusiasm of hills had waned away. Without being able to hurl myself down a hill, Reu was a drag (sorry Reu), often being tipped over and bouncing on bucket instead. This caused the tension in the rope to change and fray and would soon become an issue as further beatings upon bucket meant the rope would snap and threaten to let bucket loose. Time would have to be spent stopping to do bucket checks, attempting to keep the rest of the thinning rope intact.

As we headed off the Cleveland Way, I would take a wrong path searching for a hidden gate that headed towards Bilsdale Hall. I should have remembered the song by Freddy and the Dreamers in Oliver and the OverWorld "Oh you can't go wrong if you just go right 'cos rights the proper way." Here is a clip of a childhood memory that my brothers and I used to sing along to in the car.

PictureThe smile is due to the applauding village finish
After a 20 minute delay, whilst retracing my steps, I was fortunate to see a group climb down behind a small mound to the gate towards Bilsdale Hall, and hence would help me find the next CP, Chop's Car Park in Seave Green.

Using the map to navigate the next part of the route, we ascended another steep hill. A passerby pitied me as I must have looked a tormented soul.

I might have felt lost momentarily, I meant have regretted going the hilly route, but the finish was fantastic. Made it within 10 hours to a heros welcome by the entire village and participants clapping every last person over the end line.

After 9 hours and 47 minutes playing with hills and open landscapes, my mind had to catch up, suddenly back in civility, soaking in images of kids playing in the street, people taking in laundry, pubs over flowing from walkers and participants, and people happy as the rain had held back and the sun had smiled throughout.

It was tough out there; apparently a number of people had to be pulled off the course with sunstroke!  I sat in a pile in front of the end desk. My legs had made it, my arms and back had a tyre work out from lifting and carrying 10 kilos, and I was happy I had climbed every mountain. The positive reception at the end made the event worth doing.

So I leave you with another oldie song. The original on the left or on the right if you want to hear a more modern take.

Thank you to the donations (6.50 raised) + photos from Jeremy.
PictureRD takes Reu for a run. Perhaps "tyre pulling" should be an official category
Type of Race/Course: Trail with a "Hill of Despair" (in photo background) that has to be done twice, 3 styles to leap over plus a number of kissing gates. Excellent views over the Cotswolds
Location: Cheltenham Race Course
CPs: @ every 2-3 miles. Water + snack
Weather: @24 degs C; very sunny
Start Time: 08:00 for marathon runners
Finish: Ends at Cheltenham Race Course
Post Runner Recovery: Small snack bag + water
Water + supplies carried: 2.5 litres of salty squash + 3 breakfast bars + 2 marmite/honey sandwiches

Website: http://www.cheltenhamcircularchallenge.org.uk/

TG: Dear Race Organisers, Please may I pull a tyre on your course. I promise to carry my tyre when the paths are narrow and could potentially damage flora & fauna, impede a runner, as well as could potentially damage farmers crops

Race Organisers: Dear TG,
you need to be fully aware that the course is predominantly off-road, following public footpaths, crossing stiles and kissing gates, over farm land, and passing through a registered AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) and SSSI (site of special scientific interest). You may find that there are long stretches where you would need to carry the tyre rather than pull it. You also need to be aware that this is a fairly tough course with some significant climbs and rough tracks.

TG: Sounds like an excellent challenge for the day after the longest day of the year.
What could be worst than Rhonda Rollercoaster?
Picture2 lap marathon course
The route takes you through the race course on a gradual rise through some SSSI, and then there is this hill. We (Chamey, Reu and I) looked up this hill....South Downs marathon's "hill of dread" flashed back in my mind. They call this Agg's hill.....and that's what everyone would have to do to get up it....."agg agg argh agg".....Follow the rhyme with "agg agg argh" steps and that hill will  slowly be mastered.

Agg agg argh step, Chamey's head was down.....Agg agg argh step, TG's head was down....Aggie aggie aggie, Reu says keep on going!!!

Yeah - fine for a 10kg lump of rubber!

PictureSpots of purple to colour the grassy landscape
The top of the grassy slope, marks the beginning of the tarmac climb which tapers off for about 1/2 a mile to a gentler climb, entering a clay, rocky grooved path. the actual top is in an AONB where butterflies and dragon flies abound and your eyes can feast on a panoramic view of the Cotswold and the race course.

After that, the challenge turns into a slope teaser,. The route meanders down and then meanders up again, occurring several times to perplexing this tyre runner's hope of running down a gradual slope to the bottom.

Another gradual climb and the trail opens up into a wide field and later skirts around a golf course.....yeah yeah yeah bucket would be good target practice....."Bucket in one eh golfers...."

A sharp right angle turn marks a short steep descent followed by a gradual gnarly path down to the road and back towards the race course to repeat the route again.

In this marathon, I am learning to breathe through my nose! This reduces phlegm and the need to drink as much. Also teaching myself to allow my foot to relax onto the ground to spread the impact over my entire forefoot. I noticed I have been slightly pulling the toes back, causing the fore foot to arch on impact. Long term this becomes an "oucher" and should be avoided!

Thank you to the fantastic welcome and cheers from all the volunteers/organisation, the encouragement from fellow runners as well as the donations from you all that will go to EarthWatch......and runners/walkers, let's make next year a litter free course.  Leave all rubbish at checkpoints and BYOB - Bring Your Own Bottle to refill at checkpoints :-)

All is all this is a challenge, so do not expect a PB. Aim only to beat the person in front of you :-)
PictureSJI students pledging to reduce their trash
At @1.5 tonnes per head/year, the average resident in Singapore produces more trash per head than the average resident in the USA! A number of students at SJI were not surprised. Singapore has become an even more "disposable society" than the USA, with the  "if its old, chuck it" attitude. There are very few charity shops in Singapore as many residents are suspicious of other people's stuff and a number feel the cost of the items are only a little cheaper than the new items. Additionally few knew about freecycle or trashnothing. Perhaps schools in Singapore can look at freecycling school uniforms from fast growing kids!

It has been estimated that Singapore's only landfill site (Pulau
Semakau) will be completely full by 2035 and Singaporean residents do not appear to be slowing down their disposable attitude. Singapore currently manages its waste stream through recycling and incineration. Incineration reduces the trash to 10% of its volume and then the ash is landfilled. If incinerators do not burn at high enough temperature, dioxins and furans are formed from burning plastic and rubber waste (can cause cancer and respiratory problems).

Singapore also has a "haze" problem that residents indirectly support by purchasing products such as soaps, fast food, chocolate, biscuits, etc that contain palm oil. A number of these companies are not scrupulous about where they source their palm oil from and have been found to import palm oil through the destruction of Indonesian rain forests (Nestle is an example of a company that Greenpeace have urged to stop supporting the destruction of rainforests to palm oil). The very same destruction that is causing "the lung killing haze" continually encountered in Singapore,

It was fantastic to meet the change makers who want the "buck to stop here".

PictureHanding over the pledge tyre who is waiting to be named :-)
The vision is for Singapore to be a zero trash society:
- that reuses and repairs "stuff" at home
- and what cannot be reused or repaired is then upcycled or recycled and in turn is again reused

...Thus reducing the poisons we release back into our environment; our demand on resources and our impact on our precious rain forest resources. Some will go for the baby steps provided with the B.Y.O attitude, and others in the school will guide the way to help their home, school and society become totally sustainable.

The dream is possible with a bit of determined effort....just as a "gal" drags a tyre in a marathon.

Thank you to Martin, Frances and Clare, the brilliant teachers who have supported this cause and will continue to guide the change makers to be more sustainable.

My leg is nearly healed after 2.5 weeks of hobbling around. I am quietly amused by my whole antics of slow walking/hobbling in an effort to keep my leg working, in the hope that it is dynamically stretching the tightened muscles and unravelling the twisted tendons and ligaments that took place in the last 60 miles of the Ultrarace 100. Resting is not really my thing!

3 months ago, the Ultrarace 100, sparkled and enticed me to join even though Rory (RD) refused my tyre entry. This event started at mid-day and would be held on one of the longest days in the year, 28 June. This meant I would not have to get up early and the night part would be relatively short.  It was a perfect event to enter as a training run to kill a couple of demons in my head, if I was going to re-attempt the 135 miler (Arrowhead). However there are two parts to every event. First there is the training to get to the start line and second there is the completion of the event. So far I've failed only one event for the latter and none for the former....but there is always a first time for everything.

After Ridgeway 40 (11 May), I completed a second 40 miler the following weekend in just under 8 hours sans tyre. Still feeling strong my target for the 100 miler was to finish the event within 24 hours. 

Four weeks before the event a past back strain came to haunt me as I dragged piles of rubble around (more building work!). Unable to run for 2 weeks due to chronic back pain, I considered cancelling the event.....after all everyone around was nagging me.........that is until I attended my local church.

With the church's vision for a church centre to be a cornerstone in the town and their appeal for funds, I got excited. Perhaps the vicar had put the thought in my head, perhaps God or perhaps I just needed a little more purpose. As I left the church, I did a u-ee (u-turn) and declared to the vicar that I would dedicate my next run to help them raise funds (see https://mydonate.bt.com/events/rimaultrarace100/100147). Errr.... no I did not tell him I had a bad back.

Two weeks before the event: Still unable to run, I downgraded my time estimation to completing the event within 30 hours and sheepishly announced to those around what I was planning to do.

"Roll the eyes and shaker the head."

Okay so I had 2 weeks to sort myself out and if God wanted me to do this event, my body would be ready on the day. I had a plan to continue with my daily pseudo-pilates and secondly get my buddy Sharon to attempt to clear my knotted back as well as the stiff neck that had been niggling me for a number of weeks. Her first attempt to ease the back had me giggling with pain as she discovered a very tender spot on my glutes, however after her manipulation, I managed a slow 10 mile run 2 days after. The weekend before the event, I slow jogged a 5K and then had Sharon attack my back and neck a second and final time to remove any further tension. The rest of the training plan was to simply eat to put on some weight and ask some church members to pray for me the week before the event! 

Four days before the event: Everything was coming together. Me back feeling was better, that girly thing came a week early...but sniff sniff. My nose was runny, had a slight headache and the throat was feeling a little discomfort. I was coming down with a cold. As long as it didn't affect the chest, I would be okay. My touch rugby buddy Kate reminded me to gargle with Listerine. I did for the next 2 days. I was adamant this cold would last 3 days.
Event day: Just a sniffle left of the cold and a slight tension in the lower back - no show stoppers. I had made it to the start line as fit as I could be: very little running in the last 4 weeks and lots of eating. ***lots of imaginary fanfare sound effects + yahoos*** The plan was to keep everything easy and enjoy the sunset and sunrise.

The weather: The day was cloudy and cool at 18 degrees C. The early morning drizzle had died out by about 10am. Rain was forecasted to fall at about 6pm. The next day would be hot and sunny.

The Start: Having walked off in the wrong direction to the registration building/startline which was only 5 minutes away from the hotel I stayed overnight in,  I was anxious. I was anxious about getting lost and I was anxious about being itchy and clawing my skin apart in the slightly humid conditions (I suffer from eczema). To circumvent the latter, I had a whole anti-histamine before starting which was a bad idea. 

Two experienced ultra runners who had done this event assured me it would be hard to get lost on this route. As a newbie (well I've only completed a 40 mile event as my longest and failed the 135 mile event) I thought I'd pick their brains further and followed their advice to reduce my bag of surplus weight of extra water, food and clothes. After all each checkpoint is only a training run away (every 10 miles).

Final Kit: Small running backpack; spare long sleeve (parkrun jacket); a couple of cereal bars + one gel; one 750 litre bottle of water; pair of sandals; small towel (to wipe the sweat away and hopefully reduce the eczema itch); head torch; plasters; ankle brace; string (in case I needed to tie anything - like if my shoes fell apart!); small tube of sun cream; small tube of moisturising lotion; toothbrush with toothpaste, rain jacket, emergency blanket.

The last thing I needed to do was to flush out the system of negative thoughts, however I hadn't really thought to do so. I knew I could complete 100 miles, I already had the mental capability. The questionable part was in what state I would leave my physical being.

Anyhow it's late, I've got to go to bed, then work and do all the normal shenanigans normal people do.

In the meantime, I'd like to suggest that future running events have a pen, paper and bucket for you to write down any final negative thoughts as you wait because you arrived ridiculously early for registration. The bucket should be placed at the start line, so you can throw your negativity into the bucket to leave it at the start.

Good night and be with you all again next week for part 2 if I haven't bored you already :-)
Signing the New Holland East Coast Pledge
The New Holland pledge

1. To reduce consumption - reduce purchasing stuff
Think about reusing and repairing things before you decide to throw it away. Perhaps Freecycle/Freegle or some type of share organisation will have the item you are looking for.

2. To reduce trash
...By reducing trash that you bring home by applying the simple principle of "Bring Your Own" (BYO)
a) BYO take away containers to restaurants/take out shops
b) BYO thermal mug to the coffee shops (it also is so much nicer than polystyrene cups)
c) BYO bag to the shops

Also think about using Freecycle/Freegle or some type of share organisation to move on the items you no longer want. In the UK broken vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers go very quickly! Let someone else fix it and make some spare cash.

Recycle as a last resort and not as a first resort.

3. To stay active forever (minimum is 20 minutes a day) to combat stress, health issues, reduce dementia, and more. Activity creates a free happy drug - Endorphines! That's why active people are so happy :-)

The Expo had a village feel about it due to art and craft produced by the Garden Spot Villageres, foods from the Amish community, companies with clothing lines and companies from other marathons.

The Garden Spot Village marathon decided to try out the Hydro Pouch as a way to reduce the number of throw away cups on the course. I wonder what feedback has come back from its use. I decided to continue using my water bottle so that I could continue to carry a larger quantity of water on the course and by pass checkpoints/aid stations.

The pasta dinner was again excellent with a vegetarian option. Desserts came in the form of cheese cake, carrot cake, mousse and am sure there were some others. Just couldn't fit them all on my plate!!!

Where does your trash go? To a landfill site!
The Pasta Talk

Different messages were delivered that the audience could choose to go home with:
a) Dragging tyres is about putting life in perspective. b) Challenge yourself to keep your mind young.
c) We, as a technologically advanced society should be aiming towards zero waste! We, as a collective group can make a difference to our environmental impact to the world.

My challenge you is to reduce your outgoing household trash to one small bag a day or even zero trash and to move away from the "disposal society" we have become.

The amount of trash we produce is steadily increasing and the resources we have to supply our consumption is decreasing. As an alternative to oil, bio-diesel is being produced. However this means vast areas of rain forests are chopped down to make way for acres of crops like palm oil trees (in 2008 a Horizon report suggested 5 football fields a day were being slashed in Indonesia). Additionally our toxic plastic waste is making its way into the oceans creating vast plastic expanses (some estimate this to be the size of America), suffocating life and making its way back into our food cycle. Think Capt. Charles Moore explains this best.
Comparitive Figures of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)(Household waste) or when available SW (includes industrial waste) Produced

Currently it is estimated that the world produces 1.3 billion tonnes of solid waste per year and it will increase. A search on the web has produced these figures below. It should be noted that China is a big importer of many developed nations "recycled" trash, including USA and UK. What ever cannot be recycled is landfilled there! With the introduction of packaged goods in China, China's MSW will only rapidly increase with more "throw away" plastic.
MSW=@250 million tonnes/year *
GDP=$15.09 trillion**
Population=313,914,040 ***
MSW/person=@796 tonnes/year
Total MSW recycled=34%
Plastic waste=31 million tonnes/year
Plastic recycled=8%

* epa.gov - 2010 figure for only household waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure
***U.S. Census Bureau - 2012 figure

SW=@140 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$2.43 trillion**
SW/person=2,234 tonnes/year
Total recycled=@40%
Plastic waste=5 million tonnes/year***
(2.4 million is plastic packaging)
Plastic recycled=24%

* Environmental agency - 2010 figure for all waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure
*** British Plastic Federation

Note: To check how good your town is at recycling click here
MSW=@250 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$7.3 trillion**
MSW/person=@185 tonnes/year
Total MSW recycled=23%
Plastic waste=Unknown since they are global importers of the world's plastic waste

* Facts & Details - 2012 for only household waste
** World Bank - 2011 figure

SW=7.2 million tonnes/year*
GDP=$239.7 billion**
SW/person=1,400 tonnes/year
Total recycled=60%*
Plastic waste=0.7 million tonnes/year*
Plastic recycled=10%*

* nea - 2012 figures for all waste
** world bank - 2011 figure

Note: Singapore incinerates its waste, converting it into energy. The ashes are used to reclaim land!
So do we care to work collectively to change our consumption habits? I know Modesto and New Holland care. Hope to find out if this has progressed forward for each marathon's 10th anniversary!