After the Arc of Attrition, I felt I could use a different sort of challenge. One that didn’t involve wading through bogs, or slipping down rocky paths in the middle of the night. The answer popped up on my Facebook feed: Foxy from Enigma Running had one place remaining on his “Week at the Knees” 7 marathons in 7 days race around two lakes in Milton Keynes.
I’ve run a couple of Foxy’s MK lake marathons. They are very low key affairs. Most of the participants are either 100 marathon club aspirants, or existing members journeying toward their next goal: 200, 500, 1000 marathons. You’re never far from a finisher’s t-shirt for a 12-in-12, 270 marathons in 52 weeks, or some other absurd achievement.
There’s a timekeeper noting down people’s lap times, a single aid tent with some water and nibbles that you pass on each loop, and some flour on the ground for route marking. The simplicity of the race setup is countered by Enigma Running’s signature medal designs. So, for those looking to notch off another marathon on the flat, and grab a good looking piece of bling while they’re at it, Foxy has the setup down to a T.
Week at the Knees takes this tried-and-tested formula and extends it over a whole week. You can enter individual days, or for a very modest discount, the whole week, with the promise of an eighth Week at the Knees medal if you complete.
I reviewed the winning times going back a few years, and figured that averaging sub 3:30s would likely be sufficient for a win. So I set myself a target to run 3:30s, unless there were any faster runners I had to keep up with. Simples.
Read more “Enigma’s Week at the Knees”
I’ve had a burning desire to run Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, Europe’s premier trail ultra, for some time. Each year, I dutifully entered the ballot; and each year, in short order, I received my rejection.
However, in 2020, my luck changed, and my name was chosen. I didn’t have enough points at the time to qualify for the full UTMB race, so I entered the longest one I could: the CCC.
Then came Covid, and with it, the cancellation of all races. I rolled my place over to 2021, and so began a whole year of stress and uncertainty, trying to navigate the Covid regulation minefield cooked up by the UK, French, Swiss and Italian governments. It’s the only occasion I’ve experienced where making the start line of an ultra was harder than making the finish.
Yet, through it all, I did make it to the start line. Then I pushed on through periods of self-doubt, through fatigue, through injury, and back to the UTMB arch in Chamonix, in a time of 16 hours 45 minutes 48 seconds, putting me in 227th place. For my first race in proper alpine mountains, I was satisfied with that – but it was the experience, and the memories that made it special.
Read more “UTMB CCC 2021”