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.
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.