PictureChris (RD) - gave me a brilliant number
Type of Race/Course: Trail and very muddy + route directions + signs + marshals at key points
Location: Stratford Upon Avon
CPs: Water stops @ every 4 miles, food and booze midway
Weather: @6-10 degs C, misty morning on 29th Nov. Both days sunny
Start Time: Full Marathoners = 09:00; TyreGirl start time = 08:05 on 29th; 07:35 on 30th
Start/Finish: Cricket Club
Post Runner Recovery: 29th: Medal, + cider + buffet; 30th Medal + wine + buffet
Water + supplies carried: 2x 500ml bottles + sausages

29th November: A Muddy Day
It has been some time since the event was completed. I tried to create a song with a video, but it's pretty rubbish. However for your entertainment to see how bad it is, I thought I'd post part of it up for your entertainment. Yes folks, I won't give up my day job....the words continue...

The route became real muddy
Especially after 5 miles
The river was percarious
As Chris (RD) had found
(hope the ribs are healed)

We turned onto a road
Too soon into a muddy field
Back onto a puddly lane
Followed by a muddy bath

so shlop shlop shlop shlop shlop shlop
Shlopping all the way
Oh what fun it is to slide
Right on your bum
This video was created to prove if Reu could dig up a nice lawn as accused by lady in front of her house when I jumped up onto the grass verge to avoid being run over by a car. She pointed to an area of lawn that had been churned over by someone's car wheel that had been driven over. Apparently a tyre on it's side can leave tread marks!

Completed event in 8:45
To the mid way
Where Mike would give a wave
Back the way we go
Laughing all the way

As I turned into a lane
A car was on the road
So I jumped onto the verge
And a crabby lady blast

"This lawn belongs to people
Your tyre dug up their grass
So don't you dare come up on here
Cos you'll give my grass a tear...."

Look at this lady...
It's a tyre on its side
It can't pull up an established lawn
But driving over it can
PictureLovely muddy hill
30th November: The Tyre Lady Rises

This was a great route, that involved a very muddy down hill. It was AWWWEESSOME. Reu acted like an anchor and I glided down using my feet....unlike some of my fellow participants whose muddy sides told another story.

PicturePicture of Stocks to remind myself!
Only got lost at one spot. I forgot what stocks looked like and totally missed the turn off. Spent an hour wandering around to complete one mile.

PictureThe Tyre Lady is now active!
Enjoyed this route and number 50 was completed in 7:45
The Tyre Girl has now graduated onto the next level!

Thank you to all the marshals, everyone who donated (£35 and $5USD will go to EarthWatch); Chris (RD) for putting on a great event. You wouldn't know he had broken ribs and was in the middle of a house move!

Thank you also to Jo, Simon and Chris for the use of their photos on this site.

PictureDonna encouraging me to the end (in this story)
Type of Race/Course: Trail with plenty of hills and single track trails. Plenty of marshals + sign posts all the way.
Location: The Sands Recreation Ground, Farnham, UK
CPs: Regular CPs @ every 3 miles.  Water, squash + snacks + cake. Some with cool down sponges
Weather: Needed a light jacket + gloves at start, but overall excellent weather
Start Time: Full Marathoners = 09:30; TyreGirl start time = 08:30
Finish: Support around the course is withdrawn from 4pm.
Total Time: 07:54:41
Post Runner Recovery: Medal, t-shirt + cake
Water + supplies carried: 3 breakfast bars + sandwich + water bottle

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

Insomnia....you close your eyes hoping to sleep, but your mind is wide awake. You try to relax yourself but as time passes, anxiety settles in and the rest of the night is a simple wish to go to the magical world of sleep. This happens for a couple of days every month for me. Yes it ties in with that special girly time. So I can unfortunately feel zonked, grouchy and impatient with people for a day or so. However this time, insomnia lasted for 2 weeks before the Pilgrams.

I tried to think of peaceful thoughts, but the mind was skipping, jumping and diving into the project I was on. I went on short 5-10 mile runs to hopefully tire the body, however the mind was stronger. I tried holding tension in my body and then relaxing from my feet upwards. This normally works, but alas my mind slapped away any idea of sleep. I thought deep breathing would help....I later found out that was energising my body - delivers more oxygen. For 2 weeks I would have to get up and work the night, investigating subject matter so that my mind could move on. It was more constructive than worrying if I was going to fall asleep. A couple of hours rest before getting up to work would have to suffice. In the week before the Pilgrams, I managed to have one night of 4 hours and felt I had achieved a break through. Alas this was only for one night. I would spend the rest of the nights tossing and turning, getting up to write down thoughts......well who needs sleep!

The night before the Pilgrams was no exception with a gain of about 2 hours of sleep. I got up eagerly looking forward to the Pilgrams knowing (and hoping) it would physically exhaust me.
PictureTG, David and Reu
David (RD) met me at the beginning to go through logistics. It was 08:00 and I was keen to get started to get this day done and a cold breeze was eating through the single jacket layer I was wearing. However I was to patiently wait for the monk lead biker to guide me and be traffic control for my  first couple of miles. A morning guide - awesome - those who have read my stories will know I have a tendency to get lost in the first couple of miles when am by myself. At 08:25, David gathered anyone to the start line to provide my first celebrity send off in any marathon. "The Tyre Girl is leaving!".

Any thoughts of tiredness left me as nerves gathered and the adrenaline began to pump thru.

PictureThe Monk Lead Biker
A count down was provided for me and as I passed through the spectating runners, I heard a familiar voice belt out encouragement - Merrilyn (a most excellent runner) had entered the grounds :).

As the monk led me through the small country lane, the lane seemed fairly busy with cars. With all the "rubber-necking" I chuckled at what the drivers must have been thinking.....a monk on a bike followed by a gal with a lizard hauling a tyre.

However after about a mile
I was glad to be left on the North Downs Way and the monk to return to the start so that I could have a quick quiet "wee". I had about 1/2 an hour more before the "hounds" would be released.

This has become my favourite game - to see at what mileage the first runner would catch me. Perhaps in the future there should be a prize for that first passing runner.
The hills were hilly (see above) but nothing could beat Osmotherly! The ground was a mixture of rocky, hard packed trail, grass and sand. Though it was fairly level it was rough to pull a tyre over. By approximately 7.5 miles, the first runner had overtaken me along a single lane track. I moved into the under growth to allow runners through. After-all it is important to me that I never impede other runners especially those trying to make a time.
Through forest and up o'er sandy tracks, me and Reu went. To rediscover ancient forests and ruins of days gone by. But behold, one thing that would irk us most were the constant and almost periodic litter drops by selfish runners on the trail. It's a trail run so keep your litter on you!
One of the Gels dropped on the course. Seemed to be spaced out every 100 m in the last 7 miles. "Leave no trace" runners!
In the last 8 miles I had slowed down considerably. In the last 5 miles away, Donna, a final familiar person would over take me. She is another 100 marathon club wannabee and is well on the path to getting there.

About under a mile away from the finish line, she was heading back to the car park. We saw each other and waved acknowledgement. As I struggled up the road, Donna decided to run with me.

"Darn" I thought as I had thought about walking up. Donna encouraged me and decided to talk to me.  I could only respond with one word answers
as I worked hard to get Reu up the hill. Heading into the final approach, I saw my mother (this is another first) and so decided to put on a show for her. Had to put on a final sprint with Donna to pace me into the finish with a warm welcome from the Pilgram marshals.

Thanks mum for coming, Donna for making me work harder, and all the amazing marshals for their support, grand welcome back and the
£41.54 donated to Earthwatch.

Also thanks to Gareth for the invite back to Richmond Park Marathon
. I will be there in May 2015 :)

That night the insomnia spell was broken. I entered into the magic sleep world and slept 8 full hours. Thank you Pilgrams for letting me be on your course.

Next write up - Gandy Dancer Marathon and a fire tyre

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 :-)
PictureLevitation at Stonehenge. Reu was keeping grounded!
Type of Race/Course: A couple of big hills and then undulating on hard gravel track....lovely for a tyre. Easy to follow signs and mile markers.
Location: Avebury to Stonehenge
CPs: @ every 2-3 miles. Water available. Second CP and 11 mile CP had food that you could purchase.
Weather: @15 degs C; mostly sunny
Start Time: 10:30 for runners; Earlier for walkers
Finish: Ends at a car park a mile away from Stonehenge
Post Runner Recovery: Small snack bag
Water + supplies carried: 2.5 litres + 3 breakfast bars + 2 marmite/honey sandwiches
Extras: Free entry into Stonehenge (@ 13.90 GBP)

Recommend this marathon and doing some pre-reading beforehand
to really appreciate the area.

Website: http://www.wiltshirewildlife.org/sarsen-trail

Exploring the South West of England
Tyre Differences
Last week the South Downs marathon, had amazing sea cliff views, rolling hills and dales, panoramic checkerboard views of rape seed fields; broccoli and other green veg. But the hills were long, the hills were steep and Red was certainly giving me a hard time by sucking in her grooves and tumbling down hill. As a BMW tyre she believes this is all beneath her and she shouldn't be dragged through muck and mud. I had to repaint her when I was painting Reu. She got her wish to be Red and now she's got her wish to be put to bed. Oh well she'll make a nice plant pot or something ;-)

The Neolithic marathon was easy in comparison. Reu was a delight to pull up hill and glided down hill (as all good tyres should), but let's not get ahead of myself.
Awl Right Me Lovers
Yes we are in the heart of Wiltshire. It is an area that is still intertwined with ancient history, with Stonehenge standing tall amongst a network of roads (thankfully there have been some changes), Chalk horses and giants etched into the ground, ancient burial grounds and vwoodhenge (a new discovery for me)!

There's a kind of mystical air in Wiltshire, with tales of Dragons, Druids, Witches and King Arthur's last battle on Salisbury Plain.....and then there are those mysterious crop circles. But then after all we are surrounded by dead people (West Kennett and Silbury Hill)

The area seems to buzz with energy. This is my third marathon in Wiltshire
- Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1
- Ridgeway 40

....and I am still enthralled by the area. Entering Avebury, I could hear Enya singing out her rich celtic melodies.

The Event
This event caters for walkers, runners, and bikers. Walkers can start at any time, runners have to start at 10:30. I decided to become a wunner (walking runner) as this would allow me to start the event earlier than the runners.
I started at 08:05.
....obviously Tyre Pullers are not dangerous
Reu and I were having a blast, talking and passing walkers. Yes we were passing walkers! I was warned by several walkers about the "boring stretch". However, there is only one road stretch towards Redhorn, that is a little disconcerting. It is a narrow road with coaches carrying walkers chundering up the hill to the 11 mile marker to start the 15 mile walk. All along this stretch of road (and other roads) there were warnings about dangerous walkers/runners. The coaches were far more scarey as they rumbled by you.

From Redhorn there were more warnings. We were entering Salisbury Plain and on that day there were military exercises going on. Reu wanted to play chicken. I played the chicken and pulled her back onto the gravelly road.

Runners Coming
The lead runner came through whilst we passed mile 14. From there on, we were running with runners. Normally we are running with walkers or behind walkers, but for some reason, either the walkers were slow today, or the Wiltshire air was in me legs.

Armoured vehicles entertained the "boring stretch" along with a couple of Chinooks flying over head. I enjoyed the boring stretch far more than I think I should have.
"Just a girl" at Woodhenge (taken later)
Driving towards Avebury Village
Start point is in Avebury village.
A "dangerous" marathon!

The pre-pack information made me a little nervous with warnings of Lyme Disease in the area. After all Bart Yasso nearly died of Lyme disease. However ticks can be pulled off......my memory drifts to a trip in Scotland where we were all infected with ticks after camping in a forest. We discovered ticks on our bodies as we dropped off a friend at his mother's. His mother gave us dettol to wash ourselves down! We spent hours de-ticking each other!!!

The route itself starts in Avebury village (well worth wandering around to hug a henge or just have clotted cream scones and tea). Am not the most alert in the morning so missed a sign and did a 1/4 mile before meeting someone else who "got lost".  We back tracked and found the "missing sign" to head up onto a long hill that merges onto the Ridgeway. Once up on the ridgeway the eyes feast on a panoramic  views of hills, dales, farms and far away ancient villages.

Thereafter you head back into another village. If you've timed it right, the jubilant chorus of bells from the local church will welcome you in and then the waft of BBQ will reel you into CP2. If you have time you can head to the local library to read a book or two.
Other side of CP2, Reu wanted to be read a motorist manual
Runners over took me telling me I was hard core...."hard as nails"!

Gosh I'd always thought I was just a bit of a girl. However I've been wearing pink more often so I'm can't be mistaken for a bloke (as I usually am when I go to a counter of some sort, like an airline counter...."hello sir where are you going?....")
The Finale
The runners' route goes an extra length that both myself and another walker took. Well I was a wunner and he was a fast walker! Last check point, met the James' family with 4 young kids who had woken up early to do 15 miles (age range about 7 to 12). I was so impressed. I do not believe at that age I would have wanted to complete 15 miles! But here they were, all excited and full of beans on the last 5 miles. Kudos to them. As we neared Stonehenge, and more mounds of ancient dead people, young Amy (12) ran the last couple of miles to ensure I ran to the end. At mile 22 I had run out of water and did not want to bother to dig out my final bottle from my back pack. I thought I could make it to the end. After all it was only 4 more miles in glorious sunlight.

Somewhere on the last mile I lost it, feeling dehydrated and a little zapped.  I could no longer push myself along and had to stop to find my last water bottle. I thought I'd walk in, but Amy cajoled me along to run the last couple of hundred metres with her (thanks Amy).

Completed at 15:26 - making that 7:21 completion time. A big difference from last week's time of 10:13 and there were still participants finishing behind us and there were still people lolling around!

Thank you to the folks who donated on the day and pledged to reduce their trash. Raised 23.70 for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Type of Race/Course: Navigational with a route description that was easy to follow. The course itself is very hilly and seemed to be more up than down! Some muddy tracks.
Location: East Dean Village and heads onto the South Down Way.
CPs: @ every 6-7 miles. Second CP had sandwiches,  cake, tea, coffee, sheltered in a village hall. The other 2 CPs had water and biscuits.
Online progress: RFID provided so online progress could be monitored
Weather: 12-15 degs C; cloudy, windy, rainy and some sun
Start Time: 09:00
Finish: Ends at start point
Post Runner Recovery: Baked beans on toast; rice pudding and tea/coffee.

Overall: Excellent scenery, lots of hills and an easy route description to follow

Website: ldwasussex.org.uk

The last time I went out for a drag was in February 2013. I had to negotiate round dog poo littered on the streets of London, and was pulled through thick glutinous mud. Thankfully I was able to woo Donkey Boy to carry me over muddy stretches. What kept me sane, was the thought of being back with my Landy. BUT on returning back home, he was rubbing up against some younger tyre called Reu. He said I was looking "worn". I was so traumatised, TG put some new paint on me and sent us both off to the tyre-rator, where we screeched through some tracks and made up.

TG was so pre-occupied with Ecuder and Red, that I thought I had been retired. Landy and I enjoyed time together, sitting around, talking about rubber, treads and grooves whilst watching tyres roll in unison to move bits of metal around on the road. We would have long in depth discussions about what would happen to them after they "expired".

....And then TG picked me up and said "c'mon Red we're going for a run".

I was like "Woah what happened to Reu and Ecuder? They're younger and more willing."

TG explained that Ecuder had become a pledge tyre and had been left in Modesto and Reu wasn't feeling prepared. As my pet bucket was all ready to go, I had been volunteered for the job. Bucket was excited, Landy was encouraging me to go and have a new experience, other tyres were telling me I was so lucky......Under pressure, I agreed as long as
1. Reu stayed away from Landy.
2. I was not dragged through mud and poo, after all no one likes poo stuck in ones treads.

TG said she'd ensure I was kept reasonably clean and took Reu over to see grandma Tam in the garden. "It's unlikely to be muddy", she said, "as we'd be going over limestone hills and dales"
PictureTG following a route description to take us out of East Dean
Satisfied, I went along with TG to a small village called East Dean. TG was provided an RFID card so that our progress could be monitored online. We were impressed.

We left at 08:15 and very soon headed up a hill and over a stone wall. As much as I could, I glided with TG as we wandered into a valley that joined the South Down Way. Rabbits sprung out from hidden grounds as we passed a Dew Pond, and as we headed up another hill, we were joined by a couple who had also started early and who we would come in at the finish after us!

Up and down over the hills we went
Thru the Seven Sisters valley
Where the wind swept trees were bent
And from whence we left the white cliffs and sea

Up another hill, clambering over stiles
Passing new born lambs huddled close by
But TG was not paying attention
She pulled me through a somewhat boggy path
So when she tried running downhill through a field
I decided to take a tumble!

Alas poor old TG, had to carry me down
For fear of losing me in the farmer's crop
TG thinks it was only 8 miles
When the main lot of runners came to the top
(happy 100 Jane)
And it was about 10 miles when Adam said hi
Hmmm I wonder....Back in February 2013, when I became difficult, Donkey Boy carried me over muddy grounds.

"Treads dig in, let's make some magic happen."

Adam would not bite. TG proclaimed she loved a good struggle and continued to have a "deep philosophical discussion" on intelligence and such......"what's intelligent about pulling a poor defenceless tyre through muddy grounds?"
Long Man of Wilmington (image from CountryFile)
PictureAt the Hungry Monk with Adam and Martin
Chapel Hill was merciless, having many phantom tops and yet TG continued to drag me up with stubborn determination. I thought I looked pathetic going up the hills, but runners/walkers took pity on TG! Unbelievable! It's harder on my rubber than on the soles of her shoes......and there was Adam opening and closing gates for TG.  I must have left my "human whisperer" charm with Donkey Boy way back in February 2013.

About 6 miles from the end, passing over the Long Man of Wilmington, we met the incredibly young looking Martin (you'd never guess how old he is) and we all took a photo at the Hungry Monks to celebrate the creation of Banoffee Pie.

Anyway we got to the end, TG polished all food put before her and I think I have now convinced her to let me gracefully retire so that I can continue to snuggle up to my hunky Landy. The last I heard, she was grumbling about how naughty I was!

Overall time = 10:13

Thank you to everyone who donated. Raised 9.20 for EarthWatch. You can still donate at http://www.justgiving.com/tyregirl

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.