Type of Race/Course: Desert, hilly, rocky, sandy trail - some single track, some very rocky, others lots of fun. Expect uphills and downhills.
Location: McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Arizona; Entrance fee = $6 USD
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent organisation. For a change I did not get lost on the trail! It was so well marked :-)
CPs: @ every 3-6 miles with water, gatorade, salty snacks, sandwiches/bean rolls, chocolate, oranges, bananas and excellent, encouraging volunteers.
Weather: 32 degs F - 57 degs F; sunny
Start Time: 07:30
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food/drink

Event's website: http://www.aravaiparunning.com

Having been in Arizona once before, I had expected hot, dry,sunny afternoons and  cool mornings. I had not expected to find ice on my windscreen that I could not scratch off with my bare hands! Emergency shoe, well sandal, saved the day becoming an adequate ice scrapper.

Thankfully got to the park 15 minutes before the start, to a relaxed atmosphere and a breakfast banquet table. Pledge tyre in one arm, Reu in the other, we were ready to recruit runners/volunteers/spectators/others to think more seriously about the trash they generated and to pledge to reduce their single use plastics with a B.Y.O. (Bring Your Own) attitude. Thank you to the organisers for promoting the B.Y.O cause and thank you to everyone who has pledged to reduce their single use trash with B.Y.O. The tyre is now living in Paradise Valley High School to encourage the change makers (students) to find a solution to our society's apathetic attitudes towards trash.
For a slight difference in the journalling, thought you might like a video log and some waffle about the run, the weather and the location.....which I thought was "mind delicious"....could have spent a day taking photos if time permitted....I love them 1...2...3... hundred year old cowboy cactus.

Hardest part of the event was the last 5-6 miles. On 3 occasions it looked like the trail would take us back to the finish point, and then an evil bend would appear to take us further away....a mind torture. There was a final sado-masochistic short steep climb to the finish. It was awesome!

In summary - an excellent organised event and probably my favourite for the year based on the scenery.
PictureHanding over Rizzy to Jack Clark (CREST)
Monday 9th December:
Paradise Valley High School

It was time to give the pledge tyre a name and a home at Paradise Valley High School and CREST.

Here we met the change makers of the future. The generation who can make a difference by changing their ways, find ways to make it easier for their parents and relatives to change their ways.

It was time to pass on the dream to have a zero trash society:
- that reuses and repairs "trash" 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 as well as 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 50K marathon.

Found dumped and alone in an alley, our pledge tyre was named Rizzy (as in Resilient) by the resident sustainability instructor, Andrew Bernier. May Rizzy inspire many more students to be the change that the world needs.

Thank you to the brilliant teachers for their support and the classes who listened.

Type of Race: Trail - it is 100% flat! This is a series of 4 marathons in 3 different states. I did the last 2 days
Goody Bag: Great shirt and picture card momento
Course: Trail route that is out and back. Day 1 repeats the route 4 times; day 2 repeats a varied route 2 times
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent organisation, despite the organisers travelling to different states for the 4 marathons in 4 days with equally excellent volunteers.
CPs: @ every 1-2 miles with water, gatorade, salty snacks, sandwiches, chocolate, oranges, bananas. On the second day there was pizza at a lot of the CPs
Weather: Day 1: @ 35 degs F - 75 degs F; Day 2: @ 40 degs F - 75 degs F. Both days there is a lot of sun
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Day 1: La Lorona Park; Day 2: Field of Dreams
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food; milk; drinks

There is a prize for the last runner. I was honored with this on my first marathon day!

Marathon #38: Breaking the Rules
I have read and been told the ground rules of marathon running and I broke all of them for the first marathon.

Reu dolled up with box and bones
1. Sleep well the nights before the marathon.

These count more than the night just before the day of the marathon. Had about 4-5 hours a night for the last 4 days (work and jetlag), including the night before as I was trying to dress up Reu (my tyre). The day of the marathon, my neck was sore :-( and still is sore. Ahh the joys of stress!

First 10 miles was fine but quickly after that my head and eyes were tired. I wanted to lie down. Thankfully Frank (one of the volunteers who was lead biker) decided to keep me company for the last 10 miles! Although I normally hate talking during the end stages of a marathon, the brain stimulation helped and was gratefully accepted.

2. Carbo-load the day before the marathon.
Didn't have much of an appetite the days before the marathon, but I did eat bread and junk snack food 2-3 days before the marathon. The night before the marathon, I wanted something healthy so I had a large green leaf salad.

On the day of the marathon, I carried 3 cereal bars and ate all 3 of them starting from mile 6 onwards. However the aid stations had plenty of food. Despite the leafy green salad, I did not particularly feel massively hungry and bowel functions were fine! No nasty "chemie" gels (like gu and others) were consumed. As DIY Diva (a running buddy) would say - "eat before you are hungry". This is a philosophy I now always use and don't need to eat those nasty gels!

The "evil" goatshead thorns
3. Never try something new in a marathon.
As well as Reu being a virgin tyre and would be her first run with me ever, I'd forgotten my sandals that I'd run in for the last 5-6 marathons with Ecuder. I had a pair of shoes I'd run in, but really wanted a pair of sandals as I hate hot feet. So the day before the marathon, I went sandal shopping. As this is the wrong season, shops were not selling sandals. However at the nth hour someone directed me to a "Payless" store. I power walked over there as time was ticking on towards shop closing time.

There was one style of sandals, a mens sandal reduced to $8. There were 2 sizes available: mens 8 or 9. I tried to kid myself I could fit into an size 8 and ran around the shop in them to test them. The shop assistant tactfully told me the mens 9 would look better on my feet! She was right, a mens size 9 fitted better, and so purchased them and ran in the marathon the next day. No regrets at all! Just had to learn to avoid the "evil" goatshead thorns that clasp onto your flesh and wedge into the sole of your foot. Having pulled out a ton of them from my sandals, I was glad I was forced to purchase a new pair of sandals as these nasty devils would have certainly pierced through the sole of my older pair.

In the Army
Doing a out and back 4 times to complete 26.2 miles is a brain challenge. As I am not particularly fast, a change of scenery helps stimulate my brain. However, quick exchanges of encouragement between runners is also helpful.

On the second lap of the out and back, the army were doing 5K runs along the trail. Am not sure if my exchange of "If I can take a tire, you'd better beat me to the finish!" was helpful. Well I was called an "animal"!

Having high-fived a number of marathon runners, one runner (Scott) pressed a medal into my hand. He runs for the fallen military heroes who have given their lives to their country. Although I certainly do not feel worthy of such a medal, thank you Scott for the encouragement to continue on with promoting "Reduce Your Trash".

Am hoping all runners can BYOB: "Bring Your Own Bottle" - to fill up with water/energy drink along the marathon course. This has the added benefit of being able to drink when you need it, rather than to drink when you have to because you are waiting to get to an aid station. Drinking from cups means the contents often spill on the ground and then the runner tossing the plastic cup on the ground a couple of hundred metres from the aid station.

Last lecture: Volunteers volunteer their time which is often unpaid time. Although picking up runners trash has become part of a volunteers role, it would be nice for them never to have to pick up runners' trash especially sticky gel packs that become glued to the ground. Runners: BYOB and leave trash at an aid station.

Marathon #39 to be written up at the end of next week!

Ecuder following the Ridgeway signs
Type of Race: Trail with way markers and some signs. It is an easy route to follow and did not need the maps I had printed......although a running buddy still managed to get lost (probably due to being busy nattering) and saw him again an hour later!
Course: A point-to-point route through the countryside from Avebury to Streatley (For the history of the walk, click here)
Organisation and volunteers: Awesome
CPs: Described below.....and has a mythical CP that is often dreamed about by runners
Weather: Cold bitter wind @ 6 degs C going up to @12 degs C - cloudy and sunny at times, rainy sometimes too!
Start Time: 07:42 for me
Start Location: Overton Hill, past Marlborough
Views: Hills, countryside, pigs, more countryside views
Post Runner Recovery: Loads of different types of cakes, biscuits, crisps, fruit and tea

If you find navigational marathons difficult - this one is definitely easy navigation. Just follow the way markers that point towards the Ridgeway Byway.

Website: http://www.ridgeway40.org.uk

Turn Back Time to 2012
In 2012, the Ridgeway 40 was evaluated by my Oxon 40 buddy, Michael (see http://www.walking100miles.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/ridgeway-walk.html for his take on the Ridgeway and photos). After having been lost in so many trail events through mis-interpretation of the directions, Mike assured me 

"it's almost all on the same path so the navigation required is minimal (which also makes it a bit boring at times), very few hills and almost no mud."

Those words...."minimal navigation".....sounded so enticing, my fingers could not help themselves and sent a quick email to the organisers if they would accept us (Ecuder and me). The response was: 

"We think you are mad but you can enter. You will need to comply with the rules of the event--especially the checkpoint
cut-off times."
Check point times
A quick wander over to the website
revealed generous checkpoint times from CP5 onwards. But surely I should be able to make the earlier CPs easily?

At times we can believe we are superheros, anything is possible and I had to question was that the superhero head that I had on, or the realistic head? I've been told I tend to be in fairy land!!!

Reality check.....little navigation so perhaps little chance of getting lost, nice trail route......what did I have to fear???....

TG response: "Trevor thank you so much for my New Year's present. :-)" and I signed up.

Maps viewed in different ways :-)
Return to 10th May 2013
Being a little paranoid, I printed off the route directions and maps for a bit of reassurance that if I did go wrong I'd have some chance of finding my way back to the path. Too many people have told me I'd never get lost, and I did....even on a marked marathon! (Modesto). Must be getting older.....

....but perhaps not much wiser, as I still ran around the house to prepare my kit and tyre until midnight.

11th May 2013
This year I have changed my attitude towards getting up for an event. Usually I would get up 15 minutes to 1/2 an hour before we were due to leave and drive to the event to get there about 15 minutes before starting. Now-a-days I wake up an hour earlier to prepare my body for the onslaught and at the very least try to get the morning's abolutions done before the event.
Doc Leaves: To sooth the sting from stinging nettles
Unfortunately despite the 5am wake up and leaving at 6am, one's business did not want to arrive (I blame it on the head refusing to wake up) until I had got to the start point, which was pretty exposed and lacked toilets. The start point marshals told me they were sure there would be better coverage up the hill. However the bodily signs were telling me I needed to go now. Despite the mental tiredness, I scanned the area for choices. I headed towards a car and considered that I would be exposed on one side to other event participants signing in. But then I spied a small tree and a kind of plant covering. I headed in......to nettles......it accomplished its assigned task of maintaining my modesty, but I stung my butt.

Someone said there should be some doc leaves near the nettles, however with a cold cutting wind blowing through and time ticking on, decided it would be best to ignore the discomfort and get up the long starting hill that was calling. 

07:42 - On the Trail
It was a nobbly trail and Ecuder kept tugging back at me. Perhaps he wasn't in the mood for this either or perhaps my tired head was putting a negative spin. I needed to cast out the demons and comfort us with the knowledge there is a downhill. As runners, walkers and fetchies passed me at the start, I began to feel hot. Alas my hands had reynauds. Still the legs needed to be exposed as running when feeling hot slows me down. Due to numb hands, it took me nearly 10 minutes to undo the button and clasp of my trousers and when it came to the zip......well I ripped it off! (mental note do not use buttons and put a tab on the zip) Oh well will probably not need the trousers again for this time.

Finally I could begin to make some waves going down hill. I could hear a "yahoo" from Ecuder. Ecuder was happy now, we were motoring along and overtaking walkers. To further lift our spirits, Ecuder burst into song: "Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me......Gonna do my very best and it ain't no lie."
The CheckPoints
CP1 (@09:15): Was a water/squash stop. I was asked what I was doing. I said I was taking my tyre for a walk as the dog didn't want to come along!
CP2 (@10:00): Was a water/squash and orange stop.
CP3 (@11:30): As above. Tucked into one of the fish finger sandwiches I had prepared earlier on.
CP4 (@12:45): Lunch stop: Jam sandwiches, rice pudding and beer was on offer. Skipped the beer and went for the water.
CP5 (@13:45): As CP2
CP6 (@15:00): Runner's heaven stop: Cake, cake, cake, cake, cake - a cake tent in the middle of no where, with all types of cake!!! This is the type of CP that runners dream of on a training run. All were welcomed with "would you like a spot of tea love?" The tea/cake sirens were beckoning, luring all to stay. It was tough to not just sit down and call it a day. However the caffine in the tea hit the brain. I was awake and after 10 minutes of sampling cake and drinking tea, Ecuder nudged me to move back on to them rolling hills.

(Michael there are LOADS of hills in this event!)

CP7 - CP9: We could relax, as the cut off times were far more generous at this point......but whatever tea I had just drunk pushed me on and Ecuder was being unbelieveable awesome. There was now a group of us constantly overtaking each other. When we went up hills, walkers over took us. However come the down hill, we flew by overtaking back "the walkers". The final hill was a long glorious hill down back to Streatley Youth Hostel. Ecuder was gliding and I was running until we hit the final flat part. We were in Streatley with less than a mile to go. This was probably the only navigational part to be weary of. Thankfully there were plenty of walkers heading in the same direction to follow to the finish which welcomed us with cakes, fruit, biscuits, crisps and of course a spot of tea.

Event completed by @ 19:11. Estimated time for completion was 11:45, knocking off 1/2 an hour off my fastest 40 miler. Another PB in the bag for Ecuder!

Thank you to all the "tyred" and "drag" jokes from passing walkers/runners as well as the fabulous volunteers/marshals for being out there in that bitter wind and rain.
Picture by Paul from Ealing Half Marathon
Type of Race: Trail with mile markers and some signs + marshals to keep you on track
Goody Bag: Technical t-shirt, a bit of food, stuff.
Course: Round a park so you have park users cheering you on throughout. One 12 mile route and then 2 laps of the park perimeter.
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent with very awesome volunteers
CPs: Every 4 miles with water, bananas, sweets and later gatorade.
Weather: Started cool @ 6 degs C going up to @18 degs C - cloudy and sunny at times.
Start Time: 09:30 but I snuck off at 08:10
Location: Richmond Park, Sheen Gate. You will see deers and wildlife on the lakes.
Post Runner Recovery: Snacks+ free massage

Website: http://www.richmondparkmarathon.co.uk/

The last time TG ran Richmond Park Marathon was in 2011. TG dragged Landy round the park and up a slope that has been embedded in her head as Hell's Hill! That rogue Landy has only completed one marathon 'cos he was such a drag! I wonder if he and Red have been conspiring to not do marathons. They have been such a reluctant couple, preferring shorter distances. You can read about their profiles in About Tyres.

This time round, the organisation had revised the route and cut out the insufferable Hell's Hill. This was replaced with a short steep hill that was far more preferably.....lovely......that is if a hill can be called "lovely". Yet with all the lovely hills, the speedster Ecuder has entered the Tyre Pulling Hall of Fame once again with a shiney PB (time to be confirmed). It should be noted he has had a lot of practice from his last two hilly marathons (Forrest Gump Challenge and Garden Spot Village Marathon).
Picture of Ecuder by Paul from Ealing Half Marathon
So what is happening?

It was a hard decision for TG to leave Red in the treads of Landy, however on hindsight, it was the best decision. The speedster Ecuder has put himself in Tyre Pulling history during the last 2 months! We have seen him progress from marathon to marathon. It was thought he would be a hard pull with his initial performance in Modesto. Apparently he had taken advice from Red, and decided it was best for both the puller (TG) and himself to revise his tactics.

Ecuder has learned how to be great a tyre and he is awesome!

Thank you to:
- The organisation and all the volunteers for making us feel so welcomed and all their encouragement thru CPs
- The passerbys for their continued repeated quibs that keep TG entertained such as "you must be tyred"; "you must have lost your car"; "excuse me did you know a tyre is following you"; "wouldn't you find it better if you took the tyre off"; "can I have a ride"
- The kids who also kept me entertained with "Mummy what is that lady doing?" TG's reply was something like....."Keeping in touch with my eccentric self")
- The runners with their encouragements as they overtook me as well as some who said "Now you're making me look bad"; TG's reply "Well you'd better work harder and lap me a second time"
- Paul from Ealing Half Marathon for the photos.
- Gaz and Ray - you guys rock!

I learned a number of things from running 4 marathons in 2 weeks with a tyre:

1. Thought I would get slower and my legs would feel heavy and rigid. Instead and my body soon adjusted to running lots.

After Modesto, my legs were tired. Thankfully they were sorted out with a free massage. After Crazy 8, I actually felt okay and could run slowly after. After Forrest Gump Challenge, my legs/body felt incredibly great! I could have probably fit in another couple of marathons after. With a small one week gap and doing nothing, my legs after the Garden Spot Village marathon went back to nearly feeling like after the Crazy 8. It is no wonder my body craved to run during the week I deliberately took off as a break.

2. I believe a once a week spin session helped me strengthen the complimentary muscles which in turn does improve my running!

3. If you are okay with much lower crowd support, smaller US marathons look after the runner far better than the larger marathons. It is like working with a small company who is much more personalised, with an attention to detail, rather than the larger corporations. This year, so far, Modesto and Garden Spot Village have provided first class treatment to their runners from the Expo to the run to after the run. Their "pasta dinners" are definitely worth going to. (Forrest Gump and Crazy 8 did not have pasta dinners). The Garden Spot Village had a yummy vegetarian offering of broccoli, baby sweetcorn, tofu and bamboo shoots.

Look forward to the future to see how Garden Spot Village and Modesto improve on their sustainability programs.

Thank you to all the organisers and volunteers for their hospitality and ecnouragement, and to everyone (including runners) for the acceptance of my madness.

Run on, be happy, throw trash only when at the aid stations and live in peace :-)

Next marathon will be a return to a local marathon that started up 2 years ago: Richmond Park marathon
Some of the resident volunteers
Type of Race: Road with signs for every turn + mile markers. 
Goody Bag: A tote bag containing hydro pouch, technical t-shirt, a bit of food, nipple plasters, deep heat gel, and something for the end of the event.
Course: Partially closed roads from Garden Spot Village out into the country and back
Organisation and volunteers: Extremely well organised event with enthusiastic volunteers.
CPs: Every 2 miles with.....well just think what your grandmother would have stocked up in the cupboards if you were to visit her. The tables were ladden with water, gatorade, bananas, oranges, savoury snacks, biscuits, gels, energy sweets, bars. 
Weather: Started cold (@ 3 degs C/30s degs F) going up to @ 12 degs C/57 degs F plus sun
Start Time: 08:00
Location: Garden Spot Village, New Holland and there are lots of helpers carrying "Do you need help?" signs.
Finish: Garden Spot Village
Post Runner Recovery: Lots of food (everyone commented it was the best they had ever experienced)
+ free massage + hot tub + showers
After:  Take the family/yourselves around Lancaster and experience life back to how we might be forced to partly live.

Website: http://www.gardenspotvillagemarathon.org/

Real stuff is placed on this plaque!
I was warned about the hills, repeatedly

Participant during expo: "You're going to drag that? (tyre) Have you been on the course?! There are some big mean hills"
TG: "Just had some practice in Missouri. Should be fun"
Participant: "And then there are road apples"
TG: "Road Apples?" - I prodded something that was shown to me
Participant: "Wouldn't touch that if I were you"
TG: "Feels kinda soft......"

The course was hilly as promised and the big hill was long but being cold, a good hill was just what was needed for the soul. Runner's trash in the form of an emptied gel packet began to appear from mile 3 onwards and for whatever reason I felt complelled to pick it up. A couple of gals from Girls on the Run helped me pick up runner's trash along route so that I wouldn't have to keep stopping to put it in my box. Was disappointed they the gals weren't with me for the whole marathon (they completed the half marathon). Some of the half marathoners thought they would give me their trash until I told them it was a $5 charge for me to carry their trash. They looked shocked at me so I pointed them to leaving their trash at an aid station that was only a 100 metres or so down the road. One gentleman picked up a household's newspaper to give to me as trash. Not sure if he was serious!!!

Box with trash in it
After the half marathon route, there was not as much runner's trash. Full marathoners appeared to have given more consideration. I picked up less on the rest of the full marathon only route compared to the half marathon route compared to where the full and half marathoners ran together. There were a couple of accidentally dropped items (unused gels, hydro pouches, clothing items) but on the whole full marathoners appeared to be more considerate of the countryside, leaving trash either at mile markers or at aid stations. Hope to see the half marathoners remember the "Leave no trace" ideology that NParks have established......and if you did drop trash along the route, you owe me $5. You can donate that to the Garden Spot Village Benevolent Funds by clicking here. I had to donate $5 to the fund due to box being very naughty and redistributing the contents back onto the road!

Only some of the roads were closed but drivers were considerate when driving past on the open roads. This is one event I wouldn't have wanted completely closed roads. It was great to be running alongside horse drawn carriages, and they gave the runners a wide berth when passing. Some of the Amish/Memonite community came out to watch/cheer us on and will have a memory imprint of the 3 Amish boys who sat behind a wall clapping their hands as runners went by.

The check point/aid stations were first class, the best I have ever seen in a running event.....guess we should expect that as grandma knows best!

Finished the event in 07:17 and it made me wonder what my time would have been. I had stopped to pick up trash and at one point the contents of my box went flying everywhere when Ecuder got stuck in a hole. Had to stop to collect and put the trash back into box. Think box, being new, needed more training and decided to leave him with Scott (RD) to train.

If you want to be spoilt on a marathon - this is certainly one to put your name down for.

Thank you to the aid station at mile 16, your enthusiasm and cheerleading was amazing and thank you to everyone who donated. $57 USD was raised and has gone towards the Benevolent Fund.

Some photos of the course:

Tring: Protecting Our Animals
Protecting Our Animals:
Resort World - Let the dolphins Go

The Singapore Marathon fills me with dread. The energy sapping humidity and the almost unbearable heat will cause many to suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion, including myself. Unless the marathon is completed under 4 hours, a number will fall by the wayside, having underestimated the heat intensity as time ticks on towards 10:00 

But I had promised to run with a message for Acres to Resort World to please let the dolphins go. I support their call as Singapore is a progressive nation, and keeping intelligent species enclosed in a pool is like putting a sane human being in a padded cell and bringing them out for one's own amusement. If you let the dolphins go, it will be a day that will be remembered, sending a message to the rest of the world that we need to change our attitude to other species on this world. Come on Resort World - the world needs you to lead by example. Let the dolphins go.

Acres actively rescue and protect our local indigenous species. If you care about preserving the local biodiversity of Singapore please volunteer or to support the cause click here..

Discovering a Son:
Running for Bone Marrow Donor Programme (BMDP)

As the marathon time was approaching, I dicovered I had a long lost son who tracked me down through the inter-web. Like any mother who discovers she has a child - it was a surprise.  After all - would I like him? Would he like me? ....and all those other concerns that goes through a mother's head. His tyre draging proved that he was coming from the same family. I could not reject him.

He still has much to learn to train his tyre. Of course,  I disapprove of him tying a chain around his ahlianchanel69 and bumping her up and down. She is looking a little worn out. However he has done his mum proud, completing the marathon in a great time of 7:20 and at the same time raising awareness for the BMDP.

He carried a burden for the event, entertaining all around and striving to give hope to the leukemia, lymphoma patients and others who need stem cell technologies to get them back into health. To be a donor click here or to support the cause click here

Type of Race: Route description, self navigation
Course: It’s the Chiltern Hills so it was hilly at first and at the end but mostly flat
Route Description: Personally thought it was excellent.
Organisation and volunteers: Fantastic
Food: Biscuits and water at 5 CPs
Weather: Dry and hot (20s degrees celcius)
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Ruislip Fire Station

We had just arrived at the fire station, and a participant approached TG.
Participant:  So what’s your tyre’s name?
TG: Red
Participant:  But it’s orange!
TG: It’s all about primary colours.
Participant: Oh I get it…..

After the last marathon's conversation about colours, TG excused herself about needing to visit the loo (toilet). So Chamy and I (yes we do not go everywhere with TG, despite what people say) decided to play on a fire engine. Whilst Chamy climbed up, I got chatting to a cute fire truck tyre with a lovely rim.

TG had other ideas and so we were pulled off to listen to the RD (Nick) about healthy and safety on the course. Bucket was not too happy about the idea of having to cross two golf ranges and Nick's joke about bucket being used for target practice, left bucket feeling a little apprehensive.

It was time to hit the streets! As TG pulled us out of the fire station, bucket wanted to turn back.

Bucket:   TG, Ruislip is in London. This is going to have awful scenery and you’re tired. We should just quit now whilst we’re ahead
Red: Don’t know what you’re worried about. I’ll probably get hit first.
TG:  Errr - I’m the bigger object….anyway it’ll be good to see a new area of London. It's supposed to weave into the Chiltern Hills.

We headed onto the Hillingdon Trail and were all surprised about how country-fide it all looked.

Our fourth last hill was at the bottom of the last golf course. TG belted across as golfers fired away. Bucket became a quivering wreck and by the time we had completed, bucket was trying to hide in me.

Silly bucket!

Thank you to everyone who donated (£20). All your donations will go to Earthwatch.....and special thanks to the man who stopped his car and threw coins at us, at this point bucket was hiding.

This is an enjoyable marathon and a great way to explore another part of London :-)

This is the 27th Marathon, but only the second one for the year.

Type of Race: Route description, self navigation
Course: First 25 miles, mostly flat and some minor hills. Last 15 miles, there were quite a few steep hills. Ground was muddy from the last couple of rainy days.
Route Description: Personally thought it was excellent.
Organisation and volunteers: Excellent
Food: When there was some, very good. Carrot cake was divine at CP2
Weather: Dry and perfect (10 degrees celcius and overcast)
Start Time: 07:00
Location: Henley Upon Thames

Dear Organisers,

Please can I pull my tyre, Red at your event.

Yours truly

Dear Tyregirl

We don’t discriminate against people with dogs; so is the tyre obedient?



Of course Red is now obedient. Since her redesign and marriage to Landy, she has settled down and been fine on muddy grounds

4th May 2012: Final Preparation
The plan was to have a cheesy pasta dinner and then sleep early, but preparation continued. First with touching Red up with some fresh paint and then was sucked towards “the cloud”.  The internet has replaced television to providing an unlimited amount of information, entertainment and socializing.  My route preparation to the venue, took a diversion to replying to emails, chatting to friends on facebook, and browsing websites in my search for solar ventilation/heating.  My early night was midnight and a conversation in my head told me 5 hours sleep would be fine…..that is, if I had slept.  The engine in my head was still churning out thoughts and it was about 2am when I resorted to a tension technique in order to relax the body.

5th May 2012: It's All About the Food
I wrestle with early mornings but I did manage to get myself out of bed by 05:15, eat the rest of last night’s pasta and a sausage for breakfast and was out the door by 06:00 as planned.  Arrived at the venue by 06:35, tried to check in. My name was not there! Thankfully I had my event number and found myself....of course ...listed under “Tyre”.  After all this was Red's event. I was simply the "dragger".

I was anxious to get going, however my reins were held back.  I had to chill out with the other walkers and do a mass start at 07:00.  So I fubbled, that is fussed around with my gear and bumbled around and tried to get the morning’s abultion out of the way.  Guess no such thing when one has had carbohydrate, fat and protein for dinner and breakfast.

A carpet of bluebells in a "magic" woodland
07:00: Early morning chatter
Announcement: There is flooding on the banks of the Thames…
Mutterings: And there is still a hose pipe band!
Announcement: So there is a diversion at Goring. There will be a marshal to guide you.  You can see the new route on the map over there. So now if you are ready, tear off your “tear-off” strip off your event card into the “Start Time” box and have a great day!

My brain cells are rarely awake in the morning and there is a dull sense of awareness. Morning conversations are generally avoided.

Chamey is bewildered!
Walker 1: You going to be pulling that tyre all the way?
TG: Yes
Walker 1: Does it have a name?
TG: It’s a “she” and her name is Red
Walker 1: But it looks orange.
TG: Her name is Red!
Walker 1: Why not Orange?
TG: You’re only looking at her superficially. What primary colours make orange?
Walker 1: Oh yeah, I get it.
TG: Anyway I have to do a short run as Red wants to get moving.

The walking mass were a couple of hundred metres ahead of me, so running really did not get me very far before I had slow down back to a walking pace to meet another inquisitive older walker.

Walker 2: Are you doing 40 miles with that?
TG: Yes I will be doing 40 miles with Red.
Walker 2: But she doesn’t look Red
TG: Yes I know. She likes the name Red
Walker 2: She is orange you know.
TG: Yes she doesn’t like being called orange.

I could not push forward as we were grouped together on a narrow street. I was trapped with this older gentleman.

Walker 2: You know it’s going to be all countryside on this route?
TG: Yes I know. I like small quiet marathons.
Walker 2: Well you’re not going to get any donations.
TG: Yes I’m not expecting any.
Walker 2: And there are lots of obstacles like roots and rocks and stiles….
TG: Yes I’m good with all of that. I’m a professional now. So how many marathons have you done?

Have found a question is always a good way of deflecting off negative conversations.

Walker 2: Oh I just did 50 miles last weekend, 40 this weekend, and will do another 50 next weekend…..you know you’re not going to get a lot of donations

Oh dear perhaps he has a little dementia? Or perhaps he was just adamant to make his opinion known.

TG: Wow that’s a lot of miles. What was last week’s marathon like?
Walker 2: It was a little wet and muddy. You know us walkers and runners won’t have any change on us because we want to be light.  See change makes us heavy.
TG: Notes will be fine….
Walker 2: I mean you are expecting change in your bucket, right?

My synaptic neurons were pulsating away to bewilderment. After a little more of the same conversation, the path widened enough for me to run ahead and find my own space.

Church after CP1
Where's the Banquet?
By 09:00 Red and I were motoring well, reaching CP1 (6.6 miles). Scoffed a piece of cake, and was soon out onwards to the next check point. The plan was to eat a cereal bar every 30 minutes, and then eat something heavier at the “lunch time” check points.  The LDWA events are known for having plenty of food, especially at lunch time check points.

Awesome carrot cake at CP2
11:30: CP2 (16.1 miles). Red and I were a mile ahead of ourselves, as had expected to roughly complete 3 miles an hour. There was some cake and chocolate bars. It was a bit early for lunch, though was sure the next check point would have a banquet of food as can normally be expected at an LDWA event.

The route description appeared easy to follow. This was a dangerous thought, for when fatigue crept in, concentration can go. Soon our route diversion began and I don’t think the group of us really listened to the instructions from the marshals.

Marshal: Turn right at the green bridge

I was distracted by a Welsh runner donating 50 pence, and then a passerby throwing £2 into the bucket. I had forgotten what was said and foolishly assumed that the four others ahead of me would get it right. They turned left and so did I. The route description no longer made sense, until another passerby corrected us. (phew).

Pfaffing cost @ 10 minutes.

Heading towards Goring and a diversion
13:00: CP3 (20.2 miles). There was one chocolate bar left and crumbs. Where was the banquet of sandwiches, cake, pastries....? My expectations had been demolished. The marshal was very apologetic. I would have to go onto my emergency ration of three scones. My mind wanted something more substantial though my body would have to accept it didn’t need anything more. After all I was not really staving. I’d already eaten 5 breakfast cereal bars, 3 pieces of cake and two chocolate bars.

My mind and body were wrestling, and the hills were now biting hard into the quads. I spaced out briefly.

I allowed my mind to be distracted with food illusions and found myself wandering back and forth in a woodland, trying to make sense of the route description. I was now lost. I asked a family where we were. They had no clue and I began to feel a sense of hopelessness. I’d have to call the organizers but they too would probably not know where I was, if I could not say where I was! I wandered around further and found a “godsend” sign post pointing me towards Stoke Row, the next checkpoint. I had been going in the opposite direction. Admittedly I was a little fed up, but really just needed another feed.

Pfaffing cost @ 1 hour

Michael led the way up hill
16:00: CP4 (25.8 miles). 3 hours to complete 5.7 miles meant I had spent my excess time. If we got lost one more time, it would be game over. The check points had a time limit and the next one closed at 17:15. We had 5 miles to complete however my head was a little distracted to complete the mathematics. Here there was a banquet of food! So thinking I had time, I slammed dunked some jam and cheese sarnies, followed by more cake and replenished my emergency supplies.

It was 16:15 when I departed, watched by the marshals peering out the village hall windows, shaking their heads as Red pulled away. My head was now in a better place, so my body felt better as we ran into the distance.

About mile 27, I did not see the stile and carried on up a hill. Again the route description was not making sense. I began to think about a DNF. It was so easy to do. I’d already DNFed once this year. No big deal to fail on another, or would that just be failure after failure.

Fortunately in the woodlands, there was a house and a resident for me to enquire and thus had to retrace my steps back down the hill to find a stile and Michael!

Pfaffing cost @ 15 minutes

Typical English countryside scenery
Michael had started at about 07:20 and was surviving on 2 hours sleep. He was steadily moving along but in no hurry. He looked tired but his head was stubborn. He became my energizing buddy. I knew there was no way we would make the next check point by the set time limit, however he was still hopeful that they would allow him to continue. He was tired though still positive so I tried to shut out my negative thoughts. At the pace we were going it would be approximately 21:00 when we would complete. That is one hour after the event closed. However Michael remained enthused in positiveness. Loved the attitude and so decided to pick up our pace! In order to make faster ground, I carried Red except on hills. We ran down hills and despite Michael’s initial cautiousness he was soon speeding down them hills with us! We were flying on endorphins.

17:55: CP5 (31.2 miles).  By this point we had caught up with a couple.

Marshal: Sorry guys but you are 40 minutes late at this checkpoint so am going to have to retire you. We can give you a ride back to Henley.
Michael: Well I would like to continue, if you all (the couple and me) want to continue
Marshal: This will be at your own risk. So if you fall over and break a leg.....we are not responsible
Michael: If we stick as a group, we’ll be fine

The couple were not going to continue. Everyone looked at me to confirm my intentions. It would be so easy to return with the couple, but no way was I going to let Michael and Red down! It was just under 9 miles to go even if there would be nothing for us at the end. No food, no welcoming committee, just a dark hall and the mere satisfaction of completing the event. This was now personal.

TG: Well we just need to food to keep us going.
Marshal: So happy to hear that. We have got loads! Here take what you need but remember you are on your own.

Armed with marmite and cheese sarnies in our pockets, ALLONS-Y, we went steaming ahead. 1 mile completed in 10 minutes. Michael and I looked at each other, perhaps the route description was a little generous, or we were really moving much faster than when we had first met. We were utilizing each other’s energy and fast walked together as if we were old friends, and ran down hills as if we were kids. It was great to have a buddy to check the route description.

18:45: CP6 (34.9 miles).  The check point marshals were just completing their pack up when we arrived. They were beaming because they could off load more food unto us and we were beaming back from hill racing adrenalin. We were packed us off with more food and a tin of rice pudding and fruit cocktail for Michael.

20:23: End (40 miles).  There were still walkers who had only arrived about 10-15 minutes before us. The organization had only begun packing up. We had made it and we were elated.

Red’s official time: 13 hours 23 minutes.

Thank you to the fantastic organisation and to the folks who donated. Your funds will be going to EarthWatch. AND, Michael it was a real luxury having you as a buddy! :-)

Next event 26th May
Felix (from Kilimanjaro trip) once asked me "Does Peace come before Love or does Love come before Peace?"

My mind has pondered over this thought. Is it possible to say we love this world without peace? If we loved this world, we would fight to protect this world. In order for us to protect this world we must find peace with this world. That is we should be in harmony with this world. Yet corporates tell us to spend on trivialities, spend on toys/goods that won't last, spend because that is what makes the world go round and that is what will get us out of recession. Firstly what are we supposed to spend when inflation and wage freezes have meant we have less money? Secondly change that word to "consume" and I cannot find peace with those thoughts. Our economics and greedy corporates need to change to become more sustainable so that each one of us can find peace with the way we live our lives and look to protect our natural world or we will continue to destroy our heritage for us now and for our future generations.

We all need to pull together for peace!

Eszter and her big bike - purple monster!
Bisaniiwewin would remind me of this continually throughout this trip for I was nervous about this event. My preparations were haphazardly put together, but some how everything came together in the penultimate days leading up to the event.

Just days before, Dave (Arrowhead organiser) found me a buddy, Eszter, a biker and a great athlete who finished in the top 10 and smashed the women's record by 2 hours. She sorted out my accomodation and ride up to International Falls.

Another racer's plastic sled and my sled
_Nicole, another amazing woman who is a friend of a friend, lent me her gear. I cannot complain, but when I saw the 5ft fiberglass sled she had lent me, I thought "oh dear". It was beautiful beast, weighing about 8-10 kg that needed two hands to carry it. In comparison, I could lift other racers' plastic sleds with my little finger. My second thought, was no big deal, I've pulled 60 kgs before.

With that thought, my mind went into expedition mode and began to load my sled for survival instead of opting for drop bags at check points. Wrong mode! Eszter helped me to adjust my head. So I left the snow shoes and a small bag of gear for a drop off at the finish, but still forgot to take out the over boots and a spare bag of thermal clothes that I would never use. I still had all of my food. All of which would be dead weight, and contributed to a total sled weight of about 30 kgs alone.

Most sleds in the race had a total weight of about 12-15 kgs.

6am check in for race start at 7am
Again, I thought "no problem", this would be great practise for an expedition. My head was challenging my body and my body was rising up to the challenge. My mother asked me to leave the tyre behind, but how could I leave Bisanii behind! Tim, another bike racer, who picked me up and dropped me off at the start point, commented at how heavy my sled weighed. However, at 6 am on race day I was committed.

The night before the race was an unrestful night as being a girl, my menstrual cycle was happening. Yes that "girly" thing that makes us crabby and snappy to those around us! This meant my body temperature was on the rise and thus the room felt hot and sweaty. It is typical for me to have insomnia the night before when that "that girly thing" is about to happen, although I managed to snatch an hour or two of sleep! It is typical for me to have an upset stomach and diarrhea when "that girly thing" is happening. Thus I had several moments in the toilet before the race started and unfortunately I had to be in the toilet when the race started! It is also typical for me to feel extremely tired when "that darn girly thing" is happening. This is a mind game, and the only way to defeat the mind was to keep everything positive.

The start of the Arrowhead trail
The Race
I raced over to the start line and saw everyone's flickering racer lights disappearing into the distance. I was 5 minutes behind everyone but no big deal as I normally started a race behind everyone!

We were briefed at the pasta dinner that the first 25 miles would be flat with undulations. After that the hills would strike with increasing severity.

Within 3 miles I had caught up with 4 other walkners (walking runners). Ryan from Manitoba was attempting this event for the second time (he completed the event). His motto was to just keep going. Jen had completed the bike last year and was now attempting to complete the distance by foot this year. Her head was not in a good place starting, so I tried to encourage her. She kept up with me at first but had to stop for water for about 5 minutes. I stopped with her but later had to question myself why I was stopping. Ryan kept going. On her second stop I had to apologise to her that I needed to keep going. As a racer, it is important to stop only when you need to stop. With cut off times, time was an important consideration and I wanted to be going at least 3 miles an hour in the beginning. When I next looked back to see if Jen had caught up with me, she was in the distance with another walkner.

Tree lined trail
The trail was easy to follow, with marshals located at turn points to ensure you stayed on the correct path. Temperatures this year were warmer than last year starting at -14 Celcius. However the soft snow packed trail would collapse unevenly under foot. I did not consider that this would have a significant impact on one's ankles and would force John, the walkner who had won the event 3 years in a row, to quit 10 hours into the event.

Day 1, 10am: I was at mile 10 and was fairly happy at the progress being made. However the yaktraks that I was wearing in case of ice, were making my feet impact with the ground sooner than I had expected. I had only tested using these for about 5 miles prior to the event. I decided to bear with them until the first check point as I would have to also remove my gaitors in order to remove the yaktraks.

There was only a french man (Jean) and a lady (Angela) a couple of hundred metres behind me. Both had completed 100 mile marathons before this marathon, both were looking strong and both would eventually catch up and overtake me back. First Jean at mile 11 and then Angela caught up with me at about mile 20 something.

It was nice to have a chat with someone, but as we continued a wave of lethargy washed over my being. I blame it on the "girly thing". It is when the brain vacates the body, leaving the body to feel alien and wanting to stop and sleep. It was 3 pm, too early to be in a zombie stupor and I would have to fight this, but I needed to do this alone. So I shooed Angela on ahead of me so that she would not pick up any negative emotions I would be feeling. I decided gels would be my answer.

3 slow hours, 3 slow miles and 3 gels later, my head began to sync back in with my body. By this time I had caught up with Chuck, a man on a mountain bike with normal mountain bike wheels. I guess if the snow was hard packed, the wheels would have worked, but being soft snow, the ground below collapsed into crevasses making the bike inoperable and useless. However Bisanii packed down the snow for Chuck, and made the route a little easier for Chuck to cycle on but not significant enough. He would make the first check point just after the cut off time.

Anton snatching an hour after 2 sleepless nights
Day 1, 5 pm: Anton, a volunteer with a snow mobile who was looking after participants on the course told us the first checkpoint was 5 miles away. Just before Anton came by, I began to have an achilles niggle on my left ankle. Dave and Ron who were behind me decided to dig in to make the checkpoint by 7pmish.

Unfortunately again I had to slow everything down. I was annoyed at myself for even having an achilles problem but continued to find difficulty with the soft snow to correct my technique. I felt the real problem was having left on my yaktraks and now my "girly thing" was really kicking in. Yuck! But I was close to the check point and would be able to sort everything out in the warmth of the service station.

Some slopes presented themselves, steep enough for me to dive onto my sled, head first, to take a ride down. My first attempts to use my body weight to steer the sled, ended with me crashing into a bank of snow and laughing to myself. I looked forward to more hill runs so that I could perfect my technique. However there would be no further runs until the first checkpoint, which I reached by 20:22. This left 38 minutes to top up water and sort out gear. Having over compensated on the right leg, my right shin decided to play in the pain game. I should have strapped up my left ankle, but time was ticking away fast. I was able to remove the yaktraks and just hoped this would help to make the ankles play nice.

Day 1, 21:00: I was back on the course, excited about the night. The ankles felt slightly better with the short rest, or perhaps it was the milky coffee I had at the service station. I walked without my headlamp on so that my night vision would have a better panoramic range rather than being light focused.

As I turned back onto the trail, I met a very positive Jen, who thanked Bisanii for making her so happy!

Day 1, 22:00: another wave of tiredness swept over me. I decided to use my secret weapon - red bull. It's sickly sweetness made me retch but unfortunately I had filled my bottles with energy drinks for the night so just had to deal with the sickly sweetness.

The trees were shimmering a strange green tinge. I looked up at the sky and it was a muted, faint green. Perhaps this was the Northern Lights, but as the sky thickened with clouds, the green tinge quickly disappeared. Or perhaps I was just high on caffeine. Regardless I was happy with my "illusion" even if it was watered down.

In the gloominess the pine trees appeared to have big broad prehistoric leaves laden with snow. Outlines and shadows took on shapes of animals and everydday objects. Every now and then light would catch onto the snow falling from the sky, making me think I was catching up with someone. I was happy my mind was entertaining itself but I could not stop the achilles pain that would occasionally cut across the back of my ankle with a shooting sharp pain when I did not concentrate on keeping my form. Soon a battle was stewing in my head:

The negative side: "You have a 100 miles more to complete and this could have a long term impact on your achilles. It would be better to consider a DNF (Did Not Finish) in order to save your achilles."
The positive side: "This will be your first DNF. You know about running techniques, you can correct yourself and you'll be fine."
The negative side: "Additionally you have slowed down to a mile an hour. You are not going to make the second checkpoint."
The positive side: "You can overcome your pain and have done so before"
The negative side: "Yes you broke an ankle because you strapped up a sprained ankle so stupidly tight in order to continue with your sport. You were out of sport for a year. Also remember your brother who continued competitive squash with a badly sprained ankle and won the game but suffered for years after."

TG: Okay you two sides, I will go to the second checkpoint which will probably be late and so will be kicked off the course anyway. So leave me alone to continue with whatever hallucinations my mind wants to entertain me with.

Anton came back to check on me and again asked me if I wanted to leave the course as there was a minivan with participants who were leaving the course. My mind was made up, and besides the trail was getting better with a hill to climb and a hill to go down. My spirit was alive. Bisaniiwewin was riding on the sled with me.

Day 2, 4am: There was the minivan with Ron, Jean and Lynn. The boys were sleeping at the back. Lynn said they were feeling too tired to go on. I tried to persuade her out but she had made up her mind as had the boys. My achilles and shin were now just a dull pain despite a flush of heat upon the achilles. I was high on hills and suppose the pheromones were dampening any pain.

Day 2, 6am: More participants were being snowmobiled out. I was surprised to see Angela and asked her to continue. She did not want to do another night. She had made up her mind that she had done enough and just wanted to get back to see her kid.

Day 2, 7am: I was now steadily completing 2-3 miles an hour and looked forward to the sun rise, to watch the sky lights changing. Anton came by and asked me if I wanted to leave the course. Again I responded no. However he wanted to reason with me and said I would miss the checkpoint time. I wanted to head for the second checkpoint. He decided he would leave me for a couple of hours to think about it. But I was adamant that I wanted to make that second checkpoint.

Day 2, 11am: More hills and I was feeling very good. 60 miles completed and 12 more to go. Anton came back to see how I was.

MelGeorge (CP2)
_TG: Anton at this moment in time I am feeling strong. My head is in a good place.
Anton: Yes you look strong and we have no idea how you are hauling that load the distance you have done but you are not going to make the second check point. You have 3 more hours to make that checkpoint. At the rate you are going, you will need 4 hours.
TG: Well I do not want to go back to International Falls, I want to keep moving forward and get to Mel George (second checkpoint).
Anton: I can take you there because by the time you get there, the checkpoint will have packed up and have moved on.
TG: Am okay with that. I have everything here to support myself, including stoves to make my own water. I would like to carry on under my own steam.
Anton: Okay well, I will wait for you and support you.
TG: Please do not, I will be fine.
Anton: I want to ensure you are safe.

I felt guilty about my own selfish pride and I buckled. Anton had been working non-stop throughout yesterday and the night checking on our health and safety. It would have been unfair to have made him cover the extra distance and cause further concern just because I felt I had to go the distance. It was after all just an event and mentally I knew I had the capacity to go on.

It was time to use the achilles card and allow someone to help me. So it was at mile 60 I was snowmobiled to MelGeorge. Unfortunately I had caffeine coursing through my being, thus was wide awake and at a loss at what to do. The caffeine would not release me until 22:00 on day 2.

Lisa and her trolley sled!
_I decided to support the rest of the back guys. At mile 85, Lisa started to have negative thoughts. But I would not allow her to entertain those thoughts. After all she had to carry on as there were only 2 women left out of the 7 who started and she had less than 50 miles to complete. She completed in 59:29 (59 hours and 29 minutes). Alicia, the other woman, completed in 55:56. This apparently doubles the number of women who have ever completed this race on foot!

Out of 51 walkners, only 45% of the entrants completed the entire course.  A number of drop outs were hard nosed ultra runners who by MelGeorge were suffering with all sorts of ankle injuries. Last year out of 55 walkners, only 36% of the entrants completed the entire course.

My sled weight was a contributing factor to my slowness but my tyre was certainly not to blame. If my ankles were perfectly fine, my sled weight would have been a non-issue. I will be back to slay this dragon and so will Bisaniiwewin.

Thank you to all the excellent volunteers and the organisation. I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and the course, and feel lucky to have watched the sun set, wandered through the woodland trail corridors, watched the sun rise in a beautiful natural place and play on the snow and hills. This is a fantastic race and one that I look forward to completing the next time round.