IN THIS ISSUE REGULARS WARM-UPS HUMAN RACE FEATURES JUNE 2018 COACH GEAR RACE NATURAL HIGH Ultrarunner Vassos Alexander sometimes wonders why he tests his mind and body to such extremes on brutal endurance races, why he endures the pain. Then he signs up for another race. ON THE COVER Photographer Natalia Weedy Hair and makeup Jamie Warzel Styling Argy Koutsothanasis P14 The Superfruit That Speeds Recovery Blackcurrants are good news for runners P30 Get Up And Go How to create your ultimate running adventure P42 The Life-Airming Lure Of Ultras Radio 2 sports presenter and dedicated ultrarunner Vassos Alexander on the strange joy of going very long 004 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 P46 Stepping Up In The World’s Highest Stair Race How to climb 11,674 steps to the top of a Swiss mountain. And why P54 Sun, Sand And Sufering Welcome to the new Marathon des Sables Peru, almost 250km over six days, through desert and along the Paciic coastline. Astonishing sights, remarkable achievements P66 Run Easier Right Now! Five ways to unlock the power of your glutes P72 Curb Your Sugar Habit Sometimes you don’t even know it’s in your food P80 20 Coolest Summer Tops Running in the sun is all about staying comfortable, but if you happen to look good, so be it FOAM SWEET FOAM Enjoy the support TAKE THE SKIP ROAD Not just for kids REGULARS P6 Rave Run Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh P98 I’m A Runner Comedian and reality-TV star Joel Dommett P28 P11 Fitness Skip your way to a better running body P17 Mind + Health Drink in nature’s wonder to recover P19 Social Climbing The inaugural RW London Peaks Relay P52 True Grip Trail shoes that will eat up the toughest terrain MOUNTAIN TOPS P71 You’ll Go A Long Way How to build up to a 10-mile run P75 Have Your Cake And Eat It Easy-to-make salmon ishcakes P76 Strong-Arm Tactics Build those arms to improve your technique Sugar is a hard habit to break. p72 Injury The resting squat is not easy, but it’s worth the efort P22 Stand Up And Be Counted Running saved comedian Liam Withnail from himself Check out our new Runner’s World podcast at soundcloud.com/ runnersworld.co.uk. You can run to it! COACH HUMAN RACE P20 Silver Sprinter Ida Keeling, 102-year-old record-breaker P36 Gently Does It Low-intensity steady-state exercise (LISS) is the new kid on the block P13 TUNE IN FEATURES WARM-UPS S H O R T S , TO M TO M S PA R K 3 WATC H , AS I C S F U Z E X R U S H S H O E S COV E R C LOT H I N G : ( L E F T ) AS I C S R AC E R BAC K B R A , L U L U L E M O N Q U I C K PAC E S H O R T S , G A R M I N F O R E R U N N E R 35 WATC H , A D I DAS S U P E R N OVA S T S H O E S ; ( R I G H T ) N E W BA L A N C E C B K B R E AT H E TA N K , T H E N O R T H FAC E B E T T E R T H A N N A K E D WE’RE ALWAYS RUNNING AT RUNNERSWORLD. CO.UK The year the Barkley won: the 2018 Barkley Marathons from the perspective of participant Jamil Coury. runnersworld.co.uk/ barkleymarathons GEAR P84 Sun’s out, runs out: wear the right kit. p80 Murphy’s Lore For Sam, running routes have meaning Foam, A Friend Why the new generation of foam midsoles is a boost to your running RACE P23 By The Numbers Nick Butter is running around the world P88 The Main Event The Swansea Half Marathon P24 Your World Your views, your news, your pages P90 Race Recce The Strathearn Marathon, Perthshire P26 Tonky Talk This year’s Paul misses last year’s Paul P91 Short Haul/Long Haul Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon and Kaunas Half Marathon P27 My Running Life Andrew Matthews, bobsleigh brakeman P93 The Start List May races SECURITY BREACH Race organisers have said runners’ credit card details are potentially at risk. Find out more at runnersworld.co.uk/ activenetwork JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 005 RAVE RUN ARTHUR’S SEAT, EDINBURGH THE EXPERIENCE ‘Last year, Rick Pearson, RW section editor, told me he was organising a relay linking the highest points of London’s 32 boroughs (see p36). Did I want to arrange a sister event in Edinburgh, my home city? And so the Edinburgh Peaks came into being – a run connecting the tops of 17 city council wards, beginning in the southwest Pentlands on East Cairn Hill (567m) and culminating under the Forth Rail Bridge in South Queensferry, 49 miles away. Here’s the view across to Arthur’s Seat (251m), the ninth summit.’ To read the full account of Edinburgh Peaks, visit runnersworld.co.uk/ edinburghpeaks PHOTOGRAPHER Jonny Muir ABOUT Jonny Muir is an Edinburgh-based runner and writer. His book, The Mountains are Calling: Running in the High Places of Scotland, is published in May. SEND YOUR RAVE RUN PICS TO RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK/ RAVERUN JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK ORLD.CO.UK 007 Andy Dixon EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JOE MACKIE Deputy Editor KERRY MCCARTHY Commissioning Editor RICK PEARSON Section Editor JOHN CARROLL Chief Sub Editor WAYNE HANNON Creative Director DEAN FARROW Art Editor BEN HOBSON Digital Editor JANE MCGUIRE Deputy Digital Editor JO PAVEY Contributing Editor VASSOS ALEXANDER, KELLY BASTONE, ANITA BEAN, JONATHAN BEVERLY, IAN CORLESS, DUNCAN CRAIG, JAY DICHARRY, JEFF GALLOWAY, WARREN GREENE, MICHAEL JENNINGS, ROB KEMP, CINDY KUZMA, SAMANTHA LEFAVE, TOBIAS MEWS, ADRIAN MONTI, JONNY MUIR, SAM MURPHY, MOLLY RITTERBACK, MARTYN SHORTEN, PAUL TONKINSON JAMES WILDMAN CEO CLAIRE BLUNT Chief Operating Oicer SURINDER SIMMONS HR Director SOPHIE WILKINSON Acting Head of Editorial Operations PAUL CASSAR Chief Digital Oicer CLARE GORMAN Chief Operations Director JUDITH SECOMBE Director, Hearst Brand Services ALUN WILLIAMS Managing Director, Health & Fitness NATASHA MANN Executive Assistant to Chief Brand Oicer and MD Health & Fitness JANE SHACKLETON Head of Marketing, Health & Fitness PHILIPPA TURNER Senior Marketing Executive ANDREA SULLIVAN Director of Sport DENISE DEGROOT Director of Travel JIM CHAUDRY Director of Motors JACQUIE DUCKWORTH Client Director, Personal Finance NATASHA BAILEY Client Direct Director, Health and Sport 020 3640 2220 JANE WOLFSON Chief Agency Oicer JONI MORRISS Group Agency Director CLARE CROOKES Regional Agency Director VICTORIA SLESSAR Client Manager, Fitness 020 7439 5252 LUCY PORTER Head of Business Management 020 7439 5276 GEMMA THOMPSON Business Manager 020 7297 3480 LEE RIMMER Head of Classiied 020 3728 7707 REID HOLLAND Marketing & Circulation Director 010 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 What’s top of your runningadventure bucket list? ‘The Italy Coast to Coast Relay, which takes teams of three or four from east to west across central Italy: magniicent landscape, ideal runners’ fuel, some wine. Perfect.’ – John Carroll ‘A bothy-to-bothy run on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides (population: 22).’ – Rick Pearson ‘The Inca Trail Marathon in Peru. It’s not an organised marathon event, but you have to run-hike your way along a suggested route that culminates at majestic Machu Pichu.’ – Kerry McCarthy ‘The Big Five Marathon in South Africa – in my head, spotting an elephant would make those 26.2 miles easier!’ – Jane McGuire MATT BLAIZE-SMITH Head of Consumer Sales and Marketing JUSTINE BOUCHER Head of Subscriptions Marketing VICKY CHANDLER Subscriptions Marketing Manager VICTORIA GREENWOOD Subscriptions Marketing Executive SEEMA KUMARI Digital Marketing Director BEN BOLTON Deputy Head of PR & Comms FAY JENNINGS Head of PR Media enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org VICTORIA ARCHBOLD Director of Events & Sponsorship, Hearst Live JENNI WHALE Events Executive, Hearst Live EMMA KING Worklow Director ROGER BILSLAND Production Manager JONATHAN STUART Ad Production Controller SIMON HORNE SVP/Managing Director Asia Paciic & Russia RICHARD BEAN Director of International Licensing and Business Development KIM ST. CLAIR BODDEN SVP/ Editorial & Brand Director CHLOE O’BRIEN Deputy Brands Director SHELLEY MEEKS Executive Director, Content Services Call our subscription enquiry line on 0844 848 5203 for annual rates for the UK, back issues, enquiries, change of address and orders. Lines open Mon to Fri, 8am to 9:30pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm. Subscription address: Runner’s World subscriptions, Hearst Magazines UK Ltd, Tower House, Sovereign Park, Lathkill Street, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 9EF RUNNER’S WORLD is published in the UK Copyright © All rights reserved. RUNNER’S WORLD is printed and bound by Southernprint Ltd, 17-21 Factory Road, Upton Ind. Estate, Poole, Dorset BH16 5SN. RUNNER’S WORLD is distributed by Frontline Ltd, Peterborough. Tel: 01733 555161 RUNNER’S WORLD is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards and want to make a complaint please contact email@example.com or visit www.hearst.co.uk/hearst-magazinesuk-complaints-procedure. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit www.ipso.co.uk EDITOR’S LETTER HAVING BEEN A RUNNER for over a decade, and lived in the same city and run the same routes for all that time, I feel I have to work a bit harder to find inspiration and fulfilment as the years pass. Our goal in this Adventure Issue of RW is to inspire you to seek out new experiences and add fun and challenge to your running. When we think of adventure, we tend to think of far-flung places, and we certainly tick those off this month. On page 46, our reporter is surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Swiss Alps, but does not have the energy to appreciate it as he battles the world’s longest stair race. Or if desert is more your thing, check out our feature on the beautiful but brutal Marathon des Sables Peru on page 54. But we also wanted to show that you don’t need to go far to enjoy a running escapade – all you need is a shift in mindset. Our feature on page 30 shows you how you can create your own running adventure on the streets of your hometown – whether it’s racing buses or ticking off historical landmarks on the move. We were so inspired by this DIY ethos that we created our own event on our doorstep – the London Peaks Relay, in which a group of like-minded friends were tasked with running 150 miles to the highest point in each of the capital’s boroughs in less than 24 hours. Read all about it on page 36, and then get planning your own adventure. The only limit is your imagination. CONTRIBUTORS IAN CORLESS TOBIAS MEWS The accomplished ultrarunner, Ironman and 2:53 marathoner is also a photographer and writer who specialises in covering trail, ultra and mountain running. He chronicled the irst Marathon des Sables Peru for us in Against the Grains on p54 . The adventure athlete, journalist and author has tackled many of the world’s toughest races, but in this issue he tells us all about the idea that inspired his latest book, Go! An Inspirational Guide to Getting Outside and Challenging Yourself, p30. FITNESS NUTRITION MIND+ HEALTH INJURY WARM-UPS The TIPS YOU NEED to GET UP to SPEED GENTLY DOES IT When it comes to training, LISS may well be more MIND HOW YOU GO Tortoises don’t move fast, but they can live to well over 100 years, so they must know something WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S PERHAPS IT’S TIME TO GIVE high-intensity interval training (HIIT) a miss. The latest trend is for LISS: low-intensity steadystate exercise. LISS torches fat, it’s enjoyable and you’re more likely to keep doing it. A study by the University of Bath has found that LISS can be just as efective as HIIT when it comes to weight loss. For the study, participants exercised ive times a week at diferent intensities – half the group worked out intensely and the other half exercised moderately. After three weeks, both had lost the same amount of weight. Another study, published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, found that ‘prescribing a higher-intensity exercise decreases adherence and results in less exercise’. In other words, the softly-softly approach may be the way forward. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 011 WARM-UPS ROPE AND GLORY WHO STAIRS WINS Think skipping is just for 12-year-old girls and boxers? Wrong. It’s great for runners, as it builds calf strength, boosts endurance and helps you reduce ground contact time Limit your arm movement. As with running, you want to reduce any unnecessary movement, so try to let your wrists do most of the work with the rope. WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : AU R O R A P H OTO S / Z AV E S M I T H 1. N O R T H A M E R I CA N M E N O PAU S E S O C I E T Y 2. B M C G E N O M I C S , N OV 2 01 7 Use the correct rope length. ‘If you bisect the rope by putting it under your feet, the handles should reach your sternum,’ says Ruth Martindale, Everyone Active itness manager (everyoneactive.com). Feel the rhythm. ‘You can skip as fast as you want,’ says Martindale, ‘but getting into a good rhythm can make it easier and much more enjoyable’. Don’t jump too high. ‘You’re looking for quick, shallow jumps, not huge leaps: remember, the rope is only an eighth of an inch thick,’ says Martindale. FITNESS A new study1 has found that stair climbing lowers blood pressure and builds leg strength – particularly in postmenopausal women. Stair climbing also aids fat loss and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Women in the study climbed 192 steps two to ive times a week, leading to reductions in arterial stifness and blood pressure, and increases in leg strength. 50 Percentage of VO2 max governed by genetics and environmental factors, according to a study.2 The rest is down to hard work. Try this LET’S GET DIGITAL IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a quick, simple and cost-efective way to improve your running form, reach for the skipping rope. Skipping can burn more than 1,000kcals an hour, but its beneits for runners stretch far beyond the aerobic. It also teaches you to land directly underneath your body, rather than out in front, and will help you to reduce your ground contact time – a hallmark of quick, eicient running. In addition, skipping can help to increase calf and foot strength, while giving your arms a workout, too. Seriously, you’d be hopping mad not to do it. TRY THIS SKIPPING SET: Do two repetitions of this set, with a minute’s rest between sets. Total time = 10 minutes 1 MINUTE OF SKIPPING 30 SECONDS OF HIGH KNEES 1 MINUTE OF SKIPPING 30 SECS OF SKIPPING (LEFT LEG ONLY) 1 MINUTE OF SKIPPING 30 SECS OF SKIPPING (RIGHT LEG ONLY) The Zwift Running app (zwift.com/run) is transforming the treadmill experience, ofering you the chance to train with others in the digital realm. You’ll need to download the app and purchase a foot pod, such as Stryd or Milestone. You then choose from a variety of workouts and locations, and run with people anywhere in the world. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 013 CURRANT AFFAIRS Blackcurrants can speed up recovery, burn fat and boost performance Try this mentioned, blueberries tend to grab the headlines. But it’s time we talked about another B-word: blackcurrants. Scientists are inding that adding these nutritional pocket rockets to your diet can result in some remarkable beneits – from speeding up recovery, to burning fat, to enhancing performance. That’s largely thanks to the fact blackcurrants are loaded with anthocyanins, which can increase blood low by up to 35 per cent. This, in turn, results in increased haemoglobin and improved oxygen uptake and utilisation during exercise. They taste good, too. TEN Speed up recovery Boost your performance Burn off the fat A dose of blackcurrant extract could help to speed up your recovery. A study1 found that lactate clearance was greater in 64 per cent of participants who had taken blackcurrant extract before a high-intensity interval session. Another study2 found that taking blackcurrant extract triggered a 6.9 to 8.2 per cent increase in the diameter of the femoral artery, resulting in a 20-35 per cent increase in blood low. Enhanced blood low means muscles experience less fatigue, leading to better performance. A study by the University of Chichester into the efects of CurraNZ blackcurrant supplement found that it led to a 15-27 per cent increase in fat oxidation at low and moderate exercise intensities. Number of hours in which you should consume your daily food – rather than the more common 15 hours – to optimise weight loss.3 014 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 QUALITY CONTROL When it comes to weight loss, it’s the quality of what you eat, not the quantity, that counts. A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found those who cut back on processed foods, added sugar and reined grains, while still eating lots of vegetables and whole foods, BLACK FOR GOOD CurraNZ blackcurrant extract capsules (£21.75 for 30 capsules, curranz.com) are 100 per cent natural and have been shown to trigger increases in running performance, fat burning and rates of recovery. Each capsule contains the equivalent of 83 blackcurrants. FRUIT FORWARD Blackcurrants are big hitters lost signiicant amounts of weight over 12 months. Interestingly, the strategy worked for people whether they followed diets that were either mostly low in fat or in carbs. The indings suggest that concentrating on the quality of food – rather than counting calories or worrying about portion size – is what helps people to lose and better manage their weight in the long run. WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S 1. U N I V E R S I T Y O F C H I C E S T E R 2. N U T R I E N T S , J U N E 2 01 7 3. C E L L M E TA B O L I S M WHEN ‘SUPERFRUITS’ are WARM-UPS MIND+HEALTH BUZZWORD AWESOME RECOVERY! Let the magnificence of nature soothe your weary body after a hard race WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . I L L U S T R AT I O N : JA N N I E I LVO N E N . P H OTO G R A P H : G E T T Y I M AG E S 1. U P P S A L A U N I V E R S I T Y, S W E D E N 2. J O U R N A L O F B O N E A N D M I N E R A L R E S E A R C H ADD AWE TO YOUR RUN LOOKING TO RECOVER more quickly after a big race or long, hard run? Take a walk somewhere that makes your jaw drop in wonder. A study by the University of California, US, found that the feeling of awe you experience in beautiful outdoor places helps to reduce IL6, a molecule that encourages inlammation after trauma has occurred to tissue. ‘Awe has a strong negative relationship to [IL6], a phenomenon that seems like it would be beneicial to runners,’ says study author Dr Jennifer Stellar. So, after your next race or long run, think about adding a little natural wonder into your immediate recovery. It’s certainly a great deal more inviting than an ice bath, foam rolling and a deep-tissue sports massage. GO OFFROAD: the UK is blessed with many awesome, runner-friendly trails – take this opportunity to explore them. GO POINT-TO-POINT: starting and ending in the same place is practical but not exciting – go from A to B instead. STATE OF WONDER Nature can add a sense of magic to any run GO SLOW: if you’re always staring down at your split times, or gunning for a PB, you’re unlikely to enjoy the views. Plogging The latest trend to sweep Scandinavia: locals go jogging and pick up litter en route. They’re doing themselves good while helping the community. It’s a win-win. 36% The percentage decrease in heart disease among people who own a dog.1 Previous studies have suggested canine ownership relieves isolation and depression, both of which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and early death. GOT YOUR BACK DRINK TO YOUR HEALTH A small amount of alcohol each day can help the brain clear away toxins, according to a study by the University of Rochester in New York. While excessive intake of alcohol can have ruinous efects on the central nervous system, a glass of wine or a pint of beer may, it now appears, do you some good. ‘In this study, we have shown for the irst time that low doses of alcohol are potentially beneicial to brain health; namely, it improves the brain’s ability to remove waste,’ said Dr Maiken Nedergaard, who led the study. We’ll drink to that. But only a little. There are many ways in which running helps you stay strong as you age: it maintains the health of your cardiovascular system, builds strong bones and improves mental health. To that list can now be added the vital matter of spinal marrow adipose tissue (MAT). In a study2 that involved runners, cyclists and sedentary people, runners had the lowest levels of MAT, which means they were better able to keep making red blood cells and bone. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 017 WARM-UPS INJURY SQUATTERS’ RIGHTS Here’s an easy win: the resting squat, a common seated position in many developing countries, can improve hip and ankle flexibility, and reset your posture – all of which will help to create efficient, injury-free running. Here’s how you do it Try this JUMP TO IT The Rebounder Bounce & Burn Mini Trampoline (rebound-uk.com, £89) claims to absorb about 90 per cent of the impact you experience when running on a hard surface. As such, it’s a great cross-training tool for those looking to give their joints a rest. Fun, too. 1 Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, and lower yourself into a deep-squat position. WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H : M I TC H M A N D E L 1. J O U R N A L O F O R T H O P E D I C A N D S P O R T S P H Y S I CA L T H E R A P Y 2 Hold this position for 30 seconds, ensuring that your heels stay on the ground and that you are looking straight ahead. TIP: If you can’t hold the position at first, put a broom handle under both your heels to raise them off the floor 3 Return to the standing position and repeat the move twice more. YOU KNEED SPEED The faster you run, the less stress you put on your knees What role does speed play in the impact the knee experiences when running? In a study,1 participants ran 1km at three diferent speeds: 5mph, 7.3mph and 9.8mph. While the impact stress per stride was greater at faster speeds, the total stress was 30 per cent less, owing to the fewer number of strides needed to cover the same distance. Based on these indings, running longer distances at slower speeds, particularly when you’re fatigued, could contribute to overuse injuries of the knee. PASS WATER A recent study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, found that coldwater immersion made little to no difference to recovery following intermittent running exercise. ‘Athletes and coaches should use this time for more effective and alternative recovery modalities,’ the study concluded. You won’t find us complaining... JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 019 STAND UP AND BE COUNTED How swapping booze for running helped comedian Liam Withnail hit his stride 020 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 THERE ARE SOME DATES Liam Withnail never forgets, including family birthdays, his wedding day and April 22 (this year’s London Marathon – his irst). June 29, 2015, is another date that will always stick in his mind. ‘That was the day when I broke down crying while speaking to a bunch of recovering alcoholic people about my drinking,’ recalls Liam. He was 26 and it was the irst time he’d attended a meeting for people trying to overcome a drinking problem. ‘They had diferent lengths of sobriety, ranging from a few months to 25 years. I wasn’t sure I’d have deined myself as an alcoholic; I just knew I wanted to stop drinking and, after failing, I needed help.’ His journey to that point began at the age of 13, when he would drink lager with mates in the local park. At 15 he was getting served in pubs; this often led to him sleeping of the efects of eight pints by curling up for the night in a shop doorway. ‘At that time, I wouldn’t have said I’d a drinking problem,’ says Liam, now 28. ‘It only got bad when my friends WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : J O H A N L E Y unplanned gap year wasn’t travelling around Thailand or working abroad, but sitting alone in my parents’ Essex house for weeks on end, drinking vodka.’ By then – and for the next seven years – he drank almost every day, often until he blacked out. Things got worse in 2008, when he moved to Edinburgh to study, which gave him free rein to live how he liked. By then, he was not only drinking heavily, but also experimenting with various drugs. ‘I got a taste for a non-stop party lifestyle and saw myself as some sort of bohemian, when actually I was living in a grotty lat with a bunch of hippies,’ he says. But the following year, his life began heading in a diferent direction. At an open mic night in his students’ union, Liam found he enjoyed – and had a talent for – stand-up comedy. It eventually led to him dropping out of university and popping up on the Scottish comedy circuit. But often it was booze more than adrenaline that fuelled his act. ‘Doing comedy is an ideal way to hide your drinking,’ he says. ‘You’re often performing in pubs where people want to buy you a post-show pint. Many times, I would drink into oblivion, barely remembering the next morning that I had even done a gig the night before. ‘I would arrive at gigs drunk or not arrive at all. I became that man in the pub who has drunk too much and is spouting nonsense. Sometimes I did that on stage, getting through my 20 minutes of material without messing it up, but not always. When it went badly, I wouldn’t get booked there again.’ Finally, following yet another lost weekend while doing several gigs in Aberdeen, Liam realised his life was stuck in a blurry, alcoholic loop. ‘The day after returning from Aberdeen, I tried going for one day without touching alcohol. I’d successfully reached early evening when someone asked me to meet them in the pub. I ended up drinking and so I failed miserably.’ His failure convinced Liam he needed help. The next evening H R JOKING ASIDE Liam loves the feeling of achievement he gets from running Liam’s tips for kicking the booze 1 / Stay out of the pub: it sounds obvious, but don’t put temptation in your way. 2 / There’s strength in numbers, so join a support group where others share your experience. 3 / Find a hobby that gets you out and is a healthy distraction. Running worked for me. he went to his irst meeting for recovering alcoholics. ‘I’d seen these types of meetings on TV, with people standing up and talking about their drinking, so it was weirdly familiar, but really scary, too,’ he admits. After discovering he shared many similar experiences with those who were there that evening, he vowed to attend as often as possible, especially during his irst three months of recovery. He hasn’t had a single drink since that day three years ago. His sobriety has stabilised his mental wellbeing, too. It was during the six months before he tackled his drinking that he tentatively started running. Liam describes himself back then as an ‘unit mess’ but his decision marked a signiicant lifestyle change. ‘I’d read about the Couch to 5K programme and it appealed to me to follow a plan,’ says Liam, who saw running as a way of adding some much-needed routine to his chaotic life. He loved building up his strength and stamina by regularly tackling the run up Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s famous peak. ‘Once I’d stopped drinking, I would wake up refreshed, energised and ready to run,’ he says. ‘I’d also given up smoking and drugs, so the more I ran, the itter I felt. I loved that whole ritual of putting on my ‘I WOULD ARRIVE AT GIGS DRUNK OR NOT ARRIVE AT ALL. I BECAME THAT MAN IN THE PUB WHO HAS DRUNK TOO MUCH AND IS SPOUTING NONSENSE’ trainers, listening to my music and feeling fresh air in my lungs.’ Liam was soon running every other day. He entered 5K and 10K races, and, in May 2016, ran his irst half marathon. More followed. ‘I enjoyed the goal of training for a race by following a plan. When I was drinking I would think about something I wanted to do, but it never happened; I wouldn’t have the drive to see it through. But now, sober, I love the feeling that running gives me of achieving something totally by my own eforts.’ His love of running convinced him to enter this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon and fundraise for the charity Scope, which supports people with disabilities. ‘It seemed the next logical step,’ he says. ‘For 10 years I’d abused my body with alcohol. So it felt right to help Scope, which supports so many people, some of whom who may never be able to run a marathon.’ Liam believes he will always run, as it’s now part of what deines him. He hasn’t yet written any comedy routines about running, but he has toured with a show that mines his old drinking habits for humour. He still attends meetings for recovering alcoholics and volunteers at them, too, as a way of giving back to those who helped him. ‘I never used to understand why people exercised when they could be in the pub,’ says Liam, who is now married and settled in his career as a stand-up and a comedy-club host. ‘But I’ve become that person who would rather go for a long run, when before it was drinking into oblivion.’ JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 021 Murphy’s Lore BY SAM MURPHY WHAT SAM... Attended… I come in from my run, grinning with the pleasure of it. ‘Where did you go?’ asks my husband, Jeff. We’re on holiday, and just getting to know our surroundings. ‘Down the zigzag track, then up the path that turns back on itself and through that dingly dell.’ He looks blankly at me. ‘Down the zigzags…’ I begin again. ‘Yes, I know the zigzags,’ he says impatiently. ‘Then up the path that takes a hairpin bend off the road…’ His eyes float upwards: he’s following my route in his head. ‘Then through that bit with the overhanging branches covered in moss.’ This evidently doesn’t tally with his own mental map, so he asks, ‘Which path did you take out of the clearing?’ ‘What clearing?’ ‘At the top of the path, there’s a clearing with three different trails off it. Which did you take?’ ‘I don’t know,’ I shrug, as if it doesn’t matter – although I feel as if I’ve failed some kind of test. ‘It felt like straight on to me.’ By now, both our moods have soured. But it’s not our fault that we can’t share this visual joyride. We simply see the world differently – and the map that each of us has created of this place in our mind’s eye is unique. Mental maps aren’t clinical, like paper ones. They are shaped not by 2cm squares but by the experiences we accrue as we run: here’s where I felt scared by the remoteness of the trail; this is the route I ran the last weekend I saw my nan before she died. We don’t just run a route, we engage with it. What intrigues me, though, is what each of us senses in a landscape – what landmarks we choose to plot our journey. Research has shown that navigation develops new grey matter in the part of the brain responsible for complex spatial representation. In a 2006 study, London taxi drivers 022 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 The Balanced Runner's Feldenkrais and running workshop in London, with Jae Gruenke (balancedrunner. com). Ran… A half marathon in which I was neck and neck for much of the way with a man in Donald Trump fancy dress. Took part in… The London Peaks Relay – the challenge thought up by RW’s own Rick Pearson to race to the highest point in every London borough in under 24 hours – a distance of 150 miles (see p36). – tasked with holding an entire ‘A to Z’ of maps in their heads – were found to have more grey matter in this region of the brain. Jeff orienteered at a national level as a junior, before taking degrees in geography and town planning. It’s no wonder he sees landscapes in terms of topography and compass points. I spent most of my childhood getting lost – literally, or with my head in a book – and I still find it hard to recreate even my most well trodden running routes in my mind’s eye. I can picture the beginnings and ends, and recall random landmarks – a majestic oak, a dead owl, a discarded teddy – but some of the middle miles are missing. It’s the equivalent of losing your GPS signal in a tunnel. However dodgy my mental maps are, though, I can trust my feet to link together the missing pieces once I’m out there. And, thankfully, it’s not because I’m relying on GPS, which scientists believe may erode our mind-mapping skills. When Japanese researchers1 tested the navigational prowess of their subjects on six routes, using either GPS, a paper map or direct experience, they found those using GPS made the most mistakes and afterwards were the least able to sketch a map of where they’d been. Other researchers have voiced concerns that GPS is causing us to disengage from our environment. A couple of days after ‘nav-gate’, Jeff and I are running together through dense forest and we keep losing the path. ‘Ah, it’s this way,’ I suddenly say, confident because I’ve run this way before on my own and remember having to crawl through the mud under a fallen branch. ‘Do you think you came this far?’ Jeff asks doubtfully. ‘Yes. I remember seeing a Diet Coke can on the ground.’ Moments later, we pass the can. I L L U S T R AT I O N : P I E TA R I P O S T I 1. U N I V E R S I T Y O F TO K YO WE DON’T JUST RUN A ROUTE – WE ENGAGE WITH IT H R CITIZEN OF THE WORLD On his great adventure, Nick has been alone for long periods, suffered aches and pains, met wonderful people, seen some extraordinary sights, made a smiley face from a piece of watermelon and, occasionally, tried to remember which country he was in. You can follow his progress by visiting nickbutterrunning.com 1,200,000 APPROXIMATE NUMBER OF STEPS TAKEN SO FAR ON THE ADVENTURE BY THE NUMBERS NICK BUTTER WO R D S : R I C K P E A R S O N . P H OTO G R A P H S : N I C K B U T T E R 28, BRISTOL, RUNNING A MARATHON IN EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD NICK BUTTER was in the Sahara when he decided to run a marathon in every country of the world. That’s 196 marathons. He was running the Marathon des Sables and was bunking with Kevin Webber (RW, April 2018), who has terminal prostate cancer. ‘Kevin told me, “Do what you really want to do,”’ says Nick. ‘And what I’d really wanted to do for many years is to run a marathon in every country.’ The journey itself is remarkable, but it’s the message that is truly important: raising awareness of prostate cancer. ‘It’s such an underfunded, poorly understood disease, so it’s great to feel this challenge is helping to bring it to people’s attention,’ says Nick. Sixty Average number of hours spent in each country The number of days the challenge will take. (Rest days are crucial!) -26C Coldest marathon so far, in Toronto, Canada. ‘It was the first of the whole trip’ ZERO 4:11 19 TWO 15 THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT. ‘THE WHOLE TRIP IS CARBON NEUTRAL,’ SAYS NICK Number of blisters Nick has developed…so far Bumps on the head to date: one from a tree and the other from a road sign £250,000 AMOUNT OF MONEY NICK IS AIMING TO RAISE FOR PROSTATE CANCER UK (PROSTATECANCERUK.ORG). Fastest marathon so far, in Trinidad Number of pairs of trainers Nick will wear out Hottest marathon so far, in Haiti. A support car was used to ensure Nick’s safety JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 023 YO U R WORLD LETTER OF THE MONTH INJURY TIME TO THINK BACK ON THE ROAD Joanne enjoys her PB moment MIND OVER MATTER I picked up Runner’s World the day before I was due to run the Inverness Half Marathon. I was reading it in the evening and came across the breaking barriers article (Smash that Wall, April). The bit about the ‘mental wall’ caught my eye, and I read it and reread it a couple of times. The following day arrived and of I went with my running partner. The mantras kicked in: I found myself mentally checking in on my body and telling myself I felt good. Even during the last mile, when muscles hurt and energy Injury happens to everyone. And it always happens at the worst time. This is the hard lesson I’ve been learning over the past four weeks. There I was, running the fastest I had ever been, all set for a PB in the Cambridge Half Marathon and getting ready for my irst marathon, in Brighton. Then injury struck: a strained lower back muscle. My initial reaction was devastation. But the experience has taught me valuable lessons. First, you’re not invincible. Second, do some cross-training. Third, even though you’re not running, you will not lose all of your itness in the space of a few weeks. Recently, I ran the London Landmarks Half Marathon. It was my second run in four weeks and I smashed it – achieving that PB I had missed out on. Joanna Colley, Cambridge levels were low, I kept going. Now for the Dubrovnik Half Marathon at the end of April. Thank you for a short paragraph that changed my run. Oh, as for time? I am not the quickest, but I inished in 2:21. Simon Venn, Tain, the Highlands Advice from RW kept Simon on the road THE POWER OF RUNNING I work for Welsh Athletics’ social-running arm, Run Wales. Carmarthenshire Council has invested money in a mental health project, trying to get people with depression outside to do some running, in a group environment, with a goal of completing the Swansea Half Marathon in June. My role within the group is to motivate and coach them towards the goal. Through this work, I have been reminded of the fundamental reasons why I enjoy running: it makes you feel better in every way. The members of this group are open in saying that they feel so much more positive; they don't go back to bed in the afternoon; one has gone back to work; and on the days they meet, they know they will smile that day. Sharon Leech, Cross Hands, Carmarthenshire WHAT UDDER RUBBISH! I certainly do not disagree with the Dear Dairy: It’s Over headline in the May issue of RW. I accept that since I stopped drinking normal milk I have greatly enhanced my health and lost weight. My issue with your article is that you do not mention goat’s milk. I can recommend this as an alternative to normal milk. Your article missed a trick, I am afraid. Keith Runciman, via email In our defence, Keith, we were looking at non-dairy alternatives to milk – be that milk from a cow or a goat. MUM’S THE WORD I am writing in the hope that you may be able to recognise my amazing mum, Julie, in your magazine. She turns 70 in April, although she probably won’t thank SNAP CHAT #RACEDAYKIT We asked you to take a pic of your favourite go-faster clobber. ‘My daughter Daisy painted my nails coral and blue to match.’ ‘The hat makes me more aerodynamic.’ – Theresa Slater – Mike Harvey ‘Flamingo leggings!’ – Hannah Hunt Next month: #SummerRunningKit. Show us your favourite piece of warm-weather clothing. 024 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 ‘Last year’s Sheield Half Marathon.’ – Lynne Gregory H Running has seen Julie through some dark times RUNNING SHINES A LIGHT Running is part of my identity and is what brings extra light to life. It became even more important to me last summer, when my husband left me after nine years together. That meant, for me, quitting my job and moving back to France, because WE ASK, YOU ANSWER ‘IT’S NOT THE DISTANCE THAT HURTS – IT’S THE SPEED.’ DO YOU AGREE? ‘100 per cent agree. 400m is tougher than a half marathon.’ – Mark Burns ‘Clearly, the harder your heart has to work and the more lactic acid you produce by going faster makes it hurt more than miles at lower intensities. – Sam Paine ‘Deinitely. I can do 20 miles at 7:00min/miles and feel I could turn round and do it again. But I did a 16:45 5K recently and wanted to die in the last half mile.’ – Kane Green ‘Absolutely. For me, a very fast 5K is harder than a decent-paced half marathon.’ – Barry Clegg ‘Long runs you enjoy at the time; fast runs you enjoy after.’ – Gavin Strathearn P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S ‘I ind endurance harder. I like speed. I feel more tired from slower long running and it takes me longer to recover.’ – Catherine Daly ‘Speed only hurts if you get your pacing wrong. 400m pace doesn’t hurt if you run it over 400m; it does if you try it over 5K.’ – Martin McEwen ‘This is absolutely correct. At steady pace, most distances are easy up to a half marathon’ – Dom Reed ‘Blimey, no. It’s the other way around! I ran at much the same speed for 5K or 10K.’ – Michele Tansley R my work status and visa were dependent on him. Running kept me going, got me to get up every morning and ind a way to deal with the pain and hardship of that situation. When my grandmother, whom I was very close to, died exactly six months later, running continued to support me through my grief. One month later, a long run was cut short because of a stabbing pain in my pelvic bone. After a month of not running, X-rays and an MRI, I received my diagnosis: a stress fracture. I would be interested in hearing from runners who sustained similar injuries and how they got through them and avoided re-injuring themselves. I cannot wait to put on my running shoes again and have promised myself I will enjoy every future run as if it were the last. Julie Guillaume, Paris THE POLL What's your favourite time of year to run? 50% FROM HUNTER TO HUNTED My rather simplistic and, I’m afraid, somewhat ruthless running strategy used to be to ind someone faster to train and run with until I was able to get past them, then look for the next victim. Now, having reached 70 and picked up the cross-country Scottish and GB masters prizes, the tables have turned and I am now the target for many younger runners to get past. I even heard a father telling his 16-year-old son to make sure he got in front of that old guy! On the other hand, there are some nice compliments. Alex Sutherland, via email 45% 24% 23% 8% 0% me for telling you! Both my parents came to running later in life. In fact, they ran the London Marathon for the irst time on my dad’s 50th birthday, where he ran for Marie Curie in honour of the passing of his beloved dad, Harry. Since then, my mum has raised thousands of pounds for Children with Leukaemia, and is now clocking up times that see her place in the top 10 per cent of her age group. All this from someone who sufered with lymph-gland problems in her legs for most of her 20s, 30s and 40s. She’s a total inspiration. Hannah Arrowsmith, via email A B C D A. Spring B. Summer C. Autumn D. Winter WHAT’S INSPIRED, IMPRESSED OR, PERHAPS, ANNOYED YOU LATELY ABOUT RUNNING OR RUNNERS? THE WRITER OF THE WINNING EMAIL OR LETTER RECEIVES A PAIR OF SAUCONY HURRICANE ISO 2S, WORTH £135 RUNNER’S WORLD, Unit 9, Apollo Business Centre, Trundleys Road, Deptford, London SE8 5JE Email firstname.lastname@example.org Tweet @runnersworlduk Facebook runnersworlduk JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 025 Tonky Talk BY PAUL TONKINSON RUNNERPEDIA Ice treatment (n) How you make a postrace gin and tonic feel better. Attitude training (n) t’s the last 600 metres of the South Manchester parkrun and I’m gearing up for a big finish. Over the last quarter of a mile or so runners have cruised steadily past me; it’s been a living nightmare. My arms sag ineffectually by my side, my legs lost in a lactic fog. I’m not very fit at the minute. The contrast between this year and last is stark. In spring 2017 I was cresting my highest mileage ever, merrily doing Yasso 800 sessions, 22-mile long runs and racking PBs every weekend. I had a goal, a sub-three-hour marathon; it was magic and all-consuming. But in spring 2018, Slacker Tonks is doing half the mileage, mostly unable to make track Tuesday owing to work commitments and posting personal worsts at every opportunity. Today, for instance, I’ll be a minute and a half slower than I normally am. Some of this is physical. I had back spasms that lost me two weeks; then the ‘Beast from the East’ hit me hard and I had ‘that flu’ that everyone got. I was in bed for a week and, three weeks later, I'm still not quite right. But it goes deeper than that. I’m having a bit of a crisis. Strap in. In Anthony Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right, a character says, ‘They are most happy who have no story to tell.’ I wonder if it’s hard for me to be happy about running unless I’ve got a race to aim for. I am like a character in search of an author at the moment. The sub-three push was amazing, but I’ve struggled to replace it. I lived, in essence, like a full-time athlete for six weeks or so last year, knocking back work, sleeping during the day, getting massages, chomping overpriced energy balls and visualising. It was as committed as I’ll ever get, so I’ve had to accept that I’ll probably never get faster over the marathon. If nothing else, my wife would leave me. So what now? I fantasise about an ultra but don’t know if my body will take it. My Morton’s toe is an issue. Every runner, it seems, gets an injury to manage and this is mine. It seems to flare up if I go over 50 miles a week. I 026 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 Running while wearing an expression that says, ‘Don’t even look at me! Did you just look at me?’ Warm up (v) Prepare for a run with a lovely cup of coffee. Enough, but restrictive and possibly harmful if I push into an ultra. I have another fantasy about being one of those happy runners unmotivated by time – just running for experience. You know the type – they wave to all the spectators, thank all the marshals, talk during the race and smile throughout. I like this. I can see this being the future. I do love running and I want to encourage others. But in some way I’m wrapped up in the idea of being fast, and I’m annoying myself. This morning, for instance – I am trying my best, it’s just nowhere near enough. And the less fit you are, the less you’re used to really surging into pain. As we approach the track for the last 300 metres or so, an old and quite fit bloke high-steps it past me. For some reason, he becomes my target – runners of all shapes, men and women, have gone past me this morning, but he’s the benchmark. I stay in contact, tuck in and as we hit the synthetic surface, a sense memory hits me. I’m back at school, or even last spring, and I pass him (I later find out he is 64) and then someone else. There’s a runner 10 metres in front of me. I know I can take him, but I slow down. I feel embarrassed, I feel that I don’t deserve to go past. Let him have it. In the chute I am leg-weary and breathing hard. There’s a pleasure in that, certainly, but I’m feeling a bit stupid. This isn’t me; it’s an impersonation. As track season approaches, I know that the only way through this is to run hard. I just haven’t been training hard enough. Everyone runs for different reasons and all running is good, but I’ve realised there’s still a bit of pride in it for me. My identity is tied up in it. Happy comes later. I L L U S T R AT I O N : P I E TA R I P O S T I ‘I’LL PROBABLY NEVER GET FASTER OVER THE MARATHON’ MY RUNNING LIFE H R ‘BOBSLEIGH WAS NOTHING LIKE I EXPECTED’ ANDREW MATTHEWS, 33, SLOUGH, BOBSLEIGHER BIG CHANGE Andrew was brakeman in Team GB’s four-man bobsleigh crew at this year’s Winter Olympics sprint skills to push a training trolley at a track in Bath. I was hesitant at ﬁrst. I N T E R V I E W: R O B K E M P. P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y I M AG E S When I began bobsleigh racing, the behind-the-scenes work put me of. It wasn’t like athletics, where you just turn up and run. We do all the humping and dumping. We’re constantly polishing and maintaining the sleigh, rehearsing our start technique, training and then travelling between events. He had a calming inﬂuence on me. He taught me masses, including patience. That’s where my talent for running really took of. I was quicker than everyone else, beating other footballers to the ball and winning the school races. I really didn’t take running seriously until I was in my late teens, when I joined a running club at Windsor. A coach there gave me the conﬁdence to compete and I made the Team GB squad a couple of times. I had some great successes as a sprinter. I was national and European 60m champion but when I went to the trials for London, I was carrying an injury. I hurt my groin and had to pull out. I was devastated. I’d been running for 14 years and thought it was all over and time to look for a new career. He took over my coaching. What an inspirational guy. if I fancied trying out for winter-sports bobsleigh, using my CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM ‘Linford helped me realise that I was sometimes too eager to be the best. I’d get frustrated too easily. He’d rein me in and get me to go back to working on the basics.’ You’re thrown around, turning over and over. You go into survival mode, preparing the body for impact, trying to keep yourself moving to stop getting ice burns. That said, I had more injuries as a sprinter. I was coaching with a guy from GB Active. He asked me to come along and run some ﬁtness boot camps, which I do with other Team GB athletes. I incorporate a lot of plyometric and resistance work into fun ﬁtness sessions. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 027 SILVER SPRINTER Ida Keeling is 102 years old. Here, she tells RW the secrets to her long life and running success 028 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 . . H R Ida has some sound advice for younger runners: ‘Stay strong, love yourself and do what you need to do’ Well, I didn’t expect so much, but I’m very happy it turned out this way. I was just exercising and now I’m all over the world. I wrote about it, but it’s over. The past is sometimes kind, sometimes horrible and miserable. Feeling miserable is a bad thing; it slows you down. I don’t like to slow down. I want to be ready to move. WO R D S : C I N DY KU Z M A . P H OTO G R A P H S : P O O N WATC H A R A-A M P H A I WA N TWO YEARS AGO, IDA KEELING RAN THE 100-METRE DASH in 1 minute and 17.33 seconds to set the world record for women aged 100-104 – then she dropped to the track to do press-ups as the crowd roared. In her new book, Can’t Nothing Bring Me Down, Keeling, now 102, talks about thrilling moments such as this, but also her struggles: growing up poor in Harlem, New York, working in factories during the Great Depression to raise four children as a single mother, and losing two adult sons to unsolved cases of drug-related violence. This last one sank Keeling into a depression at the age of 67. So her daughter Shelley, a track-and-field and cross-country coach, took Keeling to a local 5K. Miss Ida, as she’s known, felt clumsy at first, but ultimately uplifted. ‘The good part was that the sad part left,’ she says. ‘Running to me is like medicine.’ Since then, the 4ft 6in, 37.6kg (6st) dynamo has raced all over the world and set multiple world records. ‘Every day is another day forward,’ she says. In February, she broke the 100-and-older 60-metre record, finishing in 58.34. Here, she tells Runner’s World about her life, her training regime and the importance of Hennessy brandy. FOUNTAINS OF YOUTH MISS IDA’S KEYS TO LIFELONG RUNNING: START EARLY Keeling circles her legs in bed – ‘I’m up, they got to wake up.’ She also squats as she cooks and cleans. REST Take breaks before races. ‘If you get tired, don't push it. Put your legs up on the couch.’ Your balance is more off than normal. You have to think everything through before you take your steps. So you pay more attention to things, stay alert. That was terrible, but I said, ‘Well, I got to get up from here.’ I’ve been doing well; I just don't want to overdo it. People make mistakes, they say, ‘I won't pay the pain no mind.’ That's stupid. The pain – you better pay it some mind. It’s telling you something. I go to the gym, take a strengthening class that has some dance steps. Other days, I’ve got my bike and my running and my [1kg] weights. I squat with them, stretch my arms out. I try to do 10 minutes, three times a day – then it's nap time. When a race gets closer, I also go with my daughter to the track for a 40-minute session of warm-up drills and a single 60-metre run. Stay strong, love yourself and do what you need to do, not what you want to do. GOOD NUTRITION Her diet includes greens, fruits, nuts, orange juice, and cod liver oil and molasses for joint health. HENNESSY Three or four times per week, ‘I put a little bit in my cofee or in some water’ to aid circulation. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 029 030 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 DIY EVENTS UR E THE ADV E NT ISS UE JUNE 2018 RUNNER’SWORLD.CO.UK 031 very adventure I’ve embarked on seems to begin with this simple statement: ‘I’ve got an idea…’ These are words my friends and family are now accustomed to – they usually result in a few raised eyebrows, a snort of laughter and, if circumstances allow, another drink as we discuss the merits of my idea. I’ll admit that some have been pretty out there, but as extreme adventurer Anna McNuff once told me, the genesis of every great idea starts off as ‘bonkers’ and goes through the reining-in process until it becomes ‘just about possible’. Ever since I pinned on my first bib number to represent the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in cross-country, some 15 years ago, I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery. The army awoke in me this nagging feeling that I was not tapping into my true capabilities. Through my training, as I delved deeper into the unknown, I learned to read my surroundings – the going of the land, access and escape routes, moving at night. Having retired my commission, the same drive led me to complete some 250 races, but then I started to look for something beyond organised events. Yes, they offer support staff, marked routes, medical backup, goody bags, timing chips, aid stations and all those confidence-inspiring things that mean you just have to turn up and run. But that very buffer can diminish the sense of adventure. For one thing, a great part of any adventure is the planning – coming up with that bonkers idea, spreading a map on the table, chatting with friends and working it all out. This is the bit race directors get to do. And, of course, organised races happen in set places and on set days. When I finished the Dragon’s Back Race in 2015, which formed the final chapter of my first book, 50 Races to Run Before You Die (Aurum), I was blown away by what I’d experienced, but gutted when I realised I’d have to wait another two years to repeat it. Then it occurred to me: what if you were your own race director, creating your own race, that you can do any time, anywhere? Wouldn’t that be great? The race-it-yourself running adventure concept was born. But how do you go about creating your own running adventure? Well, whether you’re planning a 60-minute challenge or one that will take years, the first key ingredient is a map. The next (optional) ingredient is a drop of alcohol to fire the more adventurous 032 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 of your synapses. (Man v Horse was born in a pub; even the genesis of the super-serious Ironman came about over a drunken wager.) And the third ingredient is friends. A running adventure shared is the best kind. Next is time. The most accessible running adventures are those you can do in and around your working day: racing the commute; a 60-minute running adventure during your lunch break; perhaps following underground rivers or running your city’s bridges. But there are also more expansive and creative things you can do with longer stretches of time, which is why, over the following pages, I have broken up the whys and wherefores of various running adventures by time. Now you have a decision to make: just like in the film The Matrix, you can swallow the blue pill (by skipping the next few pages) and you’ll continue just as you were. Or you can take the red pill (by reading on) and you’ll see the world in a new light – one filled with possibilities. Time. It’s our biggest constraint, our most valuable asset and, so, our favourite excuse for not doing something. We say we don’t have enough of it: too much is spent commuting, working, feeding the kids, catching up with friends, or on our DIY. But there are 1,440 minutes in every day and you can achieve a lot by running for just 60 of them, or even less. The late Sir Roger Bannister managed to squeeze something rather amazing into just four. With that as inspiration, your own challenge could be broken down into either ‘How far can I run in four minutes?’ or, as Bannister preferred to see it, ‘How fast can I run a mile?’ Of course, you may not have the extra time needed to get to a running track, but the key to any DIY EVENTS Collect as many blue plaques (or similar) as you can in 60 minutes. GPS-enabled smartphone with camera, running shoes. SIGN UP Even time-constrained runners can add a little adventure to a run. And some culture, too time-pressed running adventure is adapting it to your surroundings. With almost 90 per cent of the UK’s population living in urban areas, it’s easy to think we urbanites are hamstrung in our ability to create adventures. On the contrary, towns and cities are a veritable playground for running mischief. If you live in an urban sprawl, you may assume that adding ascent to your runs is asking a lot. But running the New York City Marathon gave me a new appreciation for bridges. The blighters had me huffing and puffing, and the different perspectives they gave on the city were wonderful, too. If there’s a river in your hometown, try running a stretch, crossing each bridge as you go. This can be a lot of fun, and surprisingly tough. Talking of rivers, in some cities they are hidden beneath our feet. London has dozens, invisibly meandering deep below the metropolitan maze. With a little research you can lace up your trainers and try to trace their watery courses as faithfully as the city will allow. One of my favourite running adventures was following one of London’s subterranean rivers, the Fleet, from the trickle of water at its source on Hampstead Heath down to the mighty Thames. Thinking bigger, there are your five-to-nine possibilities. Adventurer and author Alastair Humphreys is a proponent of using this 16-hour window to do a micro-adventure. You could even fit in an ultramarathon between leaving work on Tuesday night and the ‘cut-off’ of being back at your desk on Wednesday morning. You will probably be in need of a lot more coffee than usual. There are a huge number of possibilities on our urban doorsteps – you can vertically challenge yourself by running up skyscrapers; run underground routes overground; race boats, trains and buses; or throw dice to determine your running challenge. The only limit is your imagination. Time limited to 60 minutes. Penalties given for going over time – deduction of points, buying a round of drinks etc. Proof of plaque recorded with selfie photo. All plaques get one point, with bonus points awarded as follows: Playwright – 2 points Knight of the Realm – 2 points Statesmen – 3 points Prime Minister – 4 points Field Marshal – 4 points Houses with two plaques – 5 points (there are 18 houses with two blue plaques) London Underground plaques – 6 points (there are only four with the ‘Johnston’ typeface) London’s blue plaques have been commemorating notable men and women for over 150 years. This is your chance to pay homage. Do it alone or, better yet, grab a few friends and make it sociable. Set the countdown timer on your phone to 60 minutes and start running, aiming to find as many of the 900-plus plaques adorning London’s buildings as you can. To make it more challenging, give bonus points as outlined above, or you could set a boundary, such as a postcode or borough to limit your search. The City of London has around 160 commemorative blue plaques within its borders. If you are doing it with friends, finish in a pub, with points deducted for every minute over the 60. Loser buys the round. Obviously. Download the English Heritage blue plaques app to assist you in your search. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 033 NATURE’S CALL Tackle a sea-tosummit challenge Those precious hours between finishing work on Friday and being back at our desks on Monday morning offer the perfect opportunity to squeeze in an adventure on a slightly grander scale. Something that takes more planning and a few more glasses of wine to lubricate the grey matter as you hover near the bonkers end of the bonkers-possible continuum. In every running adventure, you are your own race director. You decide how long you’ll give yourself to complete the challenge, who you would like to join you and what time you set off. Many of my favourite adventures have taken me through the night. I love the potent cocktail of trepidation and excitement as I watch the sun go down, then switch on my headtorch, knowing that a new world awaits me, one where my senses are heightened as I become more focused on my immediate surroundings, not what’s over the horizon. And, of course, revelling in the knowledge that while my friends and loved ones sleep, I’ve got this world to myself. If running in darkness isn’t for you, try a race-the-sun challenge. I was inspired by the Outrun the Sun challenge, where two relay teams battled it out to run around Mont Blanc before the sun set. But instead of running around a mountain, I challenged my best friend, Phil, to map, running shoes, food/ water, passport. An adventure between the first flight out and last flight home. GPS watch, running backpack, 034 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 The run challenge must be completed within a day. Costs should be kept to a minimum (less than the entry to a Tough Mudder or similar event). Skip the entry fees and accommodation costs of a destination race; just shell out run with me across one, connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Indian Ocean via the spine of Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park in South Africa. We stopped for lunch in a gastropub, took tons of photos, had a picnic, climbed Table Mountain, descended by its treacherous trails and finished off with a well-earned pint on the beach. It was glorious, but you can race the sun anywhere – from city limit to city limit, across postcodes or from town to town, along rivers or canals, around local hills or along nearby trails. As a trail runner and wannabe fell runner, I’ve long been fascinated by the Bob Graham Round [BGR]. It’s one of the greatest running adventures in the UK, but to run to 42 of the highest peaks in the Lake District within 24 hours is a bit steep for most of us. However, as with many great challenges, you can break it down to the core elements and build back up to an adventure tailored to your ability and location. The BGR is basically a peak-to-peak adventure and you can replicate that idea very easily, even in a city, as seen in our own Runner’s World London Peaks Relay. In March, RW recruited a team of runners (including me) to run a 150-mile relay route that included the highest points in each of London’s 32 boroughs (see p36). If you live within striking distance of the coast, you could try a sea-tosummit challenge. Pick a point on the coast, then plot an interesting route that will take you to the highest point in the county. A classic example is Caernarfon to Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales. If you don’t live near the coast, you could adapt this idea to start at a lake or reservoir. Lateral thinking is the key. One New Year’s Eve, I persuaded my girlfriend (now wife), to forgo a night of partying and accompany me in running the Monopoly Board – which turned into a 50km adventure. We still regard this as one of the best New Year’s Eves we’ve ever spent. on a single-day return flight that allows you to complete an epic adventure in time to catch the last flight home. Choose a destination where you don’t have to go far from the airport to escape built-up areas. And pack light, travelling in your kit, with your running pack as hand luggage. I once tried to run around the island of Jersey as a one-day flight challenge, reaching 26 miles before I realised I was going to miss my flight. I turned back and had to sprint to the gate at the airport. Though I ‘failed’, I had an awesome time and made some friends. If you can’t find a flight, take the same principle and apply it to ferries and trains. DIY EVENTS Grab your trail shoes and follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. P H OTO G R A P H S : JA M E S CA R N E G I E A LEAP OF FAITH Take your time, make a plan and go as long as you can Midweek and weekend miniadventures are great for a quick fix and allow a degree of spontaneity, but sometimes you want to go a bit more epic. When you feel that irresistible itch to tackle something worthy of mention in the history books, try a long-term burner. There are challenges that might take as long as a couple of weeks to complete, but could still fit into a holiday. And then there are more ambitious challenges that can take a lifetime to achieve. The individual components may be achievable in a weekend, or less, but the sum of those parts gives us the focus of an enormous long-term goal. An excellent source of a long-term burner is the art of peak bagging. Many people aim to bag a list of peaks over the course of a year, or a lifetime. Or there’s Steve Birkinshaw, who, in 2014, broke Joss Naylor’s 27-year record for the fastest completion of the Lake District’s 214 Wainwrights, finishing in six days and 13 hours (Naylor’s time was seven days, one hour and 25 minutes). There are also more theoretical challenges. For instance, over the past few years, come January 1, I’ve set about racing to space. Not literally of course, but figuratively, by trying as quickly as possible to accumulate 100km of vertical gain through the course of my running – the equivalent height of the Kármán Line, which marks the edge of outer space. Aiming a little lower, you could try to run 8,848m, matching the height of Everest. Or you could think flatter and try for 24,900 miles, equal to running round the equator, plotting your progress on a map as you go. Whether it’s a race to space or a historical trail run, following in the footsteps of our forebears, a longterm burner can keep you motivated for many years to come. Trail shoes, GPS device, 20-litre running backpack, waterproofs, food and water, emergency kit. None. As I ran along the chalky surface of Britain’s oldest road, The Ridgeway, passing 5,000-yearold burial mounds and ancient stone circles, and following in the footsteps of monks, soldiers and pilgrims, it felt as if I was travelling back in time. There are ancient footpaths all over the UK and beyond. The Ridgeway is an excellent example, or you could head further afield to the Camino de Santiago pilgrims’ route across Spain, tackling the 500 miles in one long holiday, or split into sections over several trips. The essence of this challenge is to run or fastpack (backpack at speed) along an ancient trail, learning about its history as you go. Turn this into a running holiday where time stands still. It’s just you, the trail and your imagination. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 035 SOCIAL CLIMBING UR E THE ADV E NT ISS UE Inspired to create an epic running adventure on our doorstep, RW gathered a group of friends to run 150 miles, reaching the highest point in every London borough in under 24 hours. This is the story of the irst London Peaks Relay. RW’s Rick Pearson hits the high notes JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 037 W Kensal Green tube station and a prominent mound on Putney Heath? They’re all the highest points in their respective London boroughs. How has Runner’s World acquired this rather esoteric knowledge? By running to them, of course – as part of the recent London Damian Hall and Dan Peaks Relay, a race against the clock to the Hallam cross under the A13; then they summit of each London borough. scale the Beckton When we talk about adventure, most of us Alps; the entire route probably think of places such as the Amazon, the on Strava Himalayas or the Sahara. Very few of us think of Bromley...Enfield…Croydon. But we wanted to explore the idea that adventure can begin at home – or, at least, a short tube ride away. I must confess to having ‘previous’ in this area. As part of my podcast, London’s Peaks, I’m attempting to walk to the highest point in each London borough with an interesting person from each locale. While hiking in the highlands of Hammersmith and scaling Mount Merton, an idea had hatched in my mind: might it be possible to run to all the London summits in 24 hours? I’d be lying if I said this idea was without precedence. In 2014, ultrarunner Jonny Muir – a friend of mine and veteran of the more illustrious and less carbon monoxide-fuelled Bob Graham Round in the Lake District – ran to the highest point in each of the 12 inner London boroughs, a distance of 41 miles. However, no individual or group had been brave – or, indeed, foolish – enough to attempt to run to all the London summits in one go. Until now. Our venture soon became known as the Smog Graham Round. Having the idea is one thing; making it a reality is another. There was no London Peaks map to follow; no Runner’s World forum on the subject. This was something new: a voyage into the unknown. Having established where each of the summits is located, it was then a that included authors and matter of picking the most efficient ultrarunners, City types, a nurse, route between them. Undoubtedly, even a magician – all united by a there is a scholarly way of doing love of running in London and this, involving complex algorithmic a willingness to get involved in a formulas and highly dexterous daft do-it-yourself adventure. mental arithmetic. However, with For reasons of safety and only a mathematics GCSE to my name, I was forced to sociability, runners would take adopt a less cerebral approach: pick a peak in one of the outer part in teams of two, completing London boroughs – in this case, Bromley, southeast London – two nonconsecutive legs of the relay. At and create a route that corkscrewed inwards, finishing at the the summit of each borough, the ‘baton’ – an iPhone X inside a towering 52m summit of the City of Westminster. (Or, more waist belt – would be passed on to the next pair, and all this accurately, at The Washington pub in Hampstead, about a mile would be tracked using the nifty tech of Strava Beacon, a safety past it, as no feat on this grand scale should end anywhere that feature allowing runners to follow each other’s progress in doesn’t serve beer, wine and an expansive selection of crisps.) real time. The London Peaks Relay would begin at midnight The route was 150 miles in total. Now, there are individuals on Friday, March 23, and our aim was to finish before the clock who can cover such distances alone within 24 hours, but none of struck midnight on Saturday the 24th. While oxygen would them currently work for Runner’s World. And nor would a solo not be required to scale the peaks – the highest summit is a distinctly un-alpine 245m, the lowest a flood-vulnerable 16m – effort generate the camaraderie we felt was an essential element we would have to average 9:30min/miles to complete it within of this endeavour. So we began contacting friends, and friends 24 hours. When you factor in that many of these miles would be of friends, and the team began to assemble: a disparate group 038 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 P H OTO G R A P H S : JA M E S CA R N E G I E hat links a toxic spoil heap in Newham, a nondescript road by LONDON PEAKS RELAY that it’s possible to climb the Alps without leaving the M25 or venturing higher than 35m? (That’s the Beckton Alps, in case you’re wondering, the highest point in the borough of Newham). Just ahead of the runners trundled our state-of-the-art support vehicle – a minibus borrowed from a south London At its outer limits, London doesn’t feel very much like London at Methodist church – which was all. Large parts of the night route were testament to this. We ran stocked with the latest in across muddy fields, forest tracks and empty roads: the stuff of performance sports nutrition: the countryside, not the city. But to run to London’s summits is to cold Co-op pizzas and a multipack of crisps. Powered by such be continually surprised. Who knew, for example, that someone attention to marginal gains, we bagged Bromley, Croydon, has constructed a tree fort at the highest point in Croydon? Or Sutton, Kingston, Merton and Richmond before sunrise and were five minutes ahead of schedule. However, with Horsenden Hill next to come, followed by the highlands of Hillingdon and Harrow, keeping on track would be a test of our runners’ endurance and navigational skills. Not that this was a clock-watching exercise. On the contrary, focusing your run on a geographical feature – in this case, a summit – forces you to truly engage with the landscape in a way you don’t when your only concerns are distance and time. Small changes in elevation are registered; innocuous high points become places of celebration. To Barnet and Enfield next, following the northern fringes of Monken Hadley Common, before the baton was handed over at the summit of Pole Hill, the highest point in Waltham Forest (91m). Now on the outskirts of Epping Forest – former hunting ground of highwayman Dick Turpin – the route became even more rural, causing one runner to almost lose a shoe in the muddy foothills of Havering. From the hills to the tunnels, as our runners crossed under the Thames via the Greenwich foot tunnel, re-emerging south of the river to summit Shooters Hill. At this point we were scheduled for a 10:45pm finish, but with the packed pavements of the inner London boroughs to come, there was a good chance our pace would drop. But it did not. In fact, by the time our runners had reached the crest of Crystal Palace and then the high ground of Haringey, we were 15 minutes ahead of Alison Hamlett and schedule. Excitement began to build at our race John Carroll set off HQ, The Washington pub, with many forced from Horsenden to calm their nerves by imbibing that ancient Hill; James Poole medicinal combination of a pint and a Jägerbomb. and David Smyth Tracking the dot on Strava Beacon, we knew cross the M11 our runners had left Kensington & Chelsea and were headed to the final peak, in the City of Westminster. A sudden bout of altitude sickness notwithstanding, they would surely get the baton home on time, wouldn’t they? Then we saw them, charging up the final hill to the pub door. I glanced at the time on the iPhone: 22:35:36. We’d done it! Cue huge celebrations, a few more pints and the unbeatable feeling that we had, in our own small way, made history. So, what has the London Peaks Relay proved? Certainly it proved that a lot can be accomplished in 24 hours, if you have a wonderful group of people and industrial amounts of caffeine. But, more than that, we hope it shows that adventure is really just a state of mind. If you can reimagine London as a mountain range, you can do something similar in any UK city. It needn’t be based around peaks, either: you could just as easily theme an event around following rivers, forgotten pathways or favourite pubs. Or you could, of course, try to beat our time… run in the dark, and that all them would be unmarked and involve numerous road crossings, it was no easy undertaking. But this wasn’t about setting a FKT (fastest known time) or indeed an OKT (only known time). This was about adventure – in its purest, silliest form – and about the shift in mindset that can unlock the hidden potential in all our towns and cities. The molehills were calling… If you’re inspired to create your own running adventure, please get in touch to tell us about it at rick.pearson@ rw.co.uk. And send us some pictures, as we’d love to share your story and spread the word on runnersworld.co.uk JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 039 Friends in Camaraderie, friendship, adventure, unhealthy snacks: 14 BARNET Leg 11 Hillingdon to Harrow (4.1 miles) 08:10 Leg 9 Ealing to Brent (1.7 miles) 7:00am ● Runners: John Carroll and Alison Hamlett ‘Our irst leg began at around 7am, on top of Horsenden Hill, west London,’ says John. ‘This meant getting up at 5am, but given that other runners were only going to bed at that time, I’m reluctant to complain. Which is a shame. Much later on, our second leg, in southeast London, included some thrilling descents but we always knew a long, exhausting climb would follow. High points: the whole day and telling a man that his house was the highest point in Bexley. Low point: being asked by the photographer if we’d take a detour at the end our long second leg and run up a series of steps in Crystal Palace. Then another.’ Runners: Anna McNuf and Jonty McNuf ‘The London Peaks Relay had everything a great adventure should have: uncharted territory, snack stops, a willingness to embrace the unknown and, above all, a irm commitment not to take things too seriously,’ says Anna. ‘I loved the chance to scamper through London streets and past green ields in suburbia that I’d never seen before (and perhaps won’t ever see again).’ 13 Runners: Georgina Pearson and Tariq Knight ‘We discovered a side of London previously unknown to us,’ says Georgina. ‘We weren’t particularly fast, but we felt like heroes reaching our destination.’ 11 EDGWARE 5.5 miles 10 27 HARROW 26 25 28 9 BRENT PARK WEMBLEY FIN 29 ISH 30 0.1 miles 8 6.2 miles RICHMOND HOUNSLOW 7 6 Leg 7: Richmond to Hounslow (6.2 miles) 05:10 Runners: Tobias Mews and Vassos Alexander ‘Most people will have reasons why you shouldn’t get up at 4:30am,’ says Tobias, ‘especially while it’s still drizzling and dark, to meet two other runners at the highest point in Richmond, before darting of in the opposite direction towards a random street a little south of Heathrow, some 10km away. But it’s enormous fun; it’s diferent from anything we’d done before; it felt like a team efort; and, most of all, it makes me want to do it all over again.’ 040 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 Leg 13: Barnet to Enfield (4 miles) 09:40 5.2 miles 12 WATFORD 23 TWICKENHAM 5 MITCHAM Leg 4: Kingston to Merton (9.8 miles) 03:00 Runners: Susie Chan and Cat Simpson ‘The lowlight was having to get up at 1:30am,’ says Susie, ‘but I got over that pretty quickly. There is something serene about running at night through empty streets. I enjoyed ticking of the miles and putting the world to rights with my friend, Cat.’ SUTTON 3 4 8.5 miles 22 LONDON PEAKS RELAY high places RW’s inaugural London Peaks Challenge had it all. And more… Leg 15: Waltham Forest to Redbridge (7.5 miles) 11:45 ● 15 2.8 miles 16 17 Leg 24: Tower Hamlets to Hackney (4.2 miles) 20:10 Runners: Kate Carter and Adharanand Finn ‘My highlight was the man who yelled “F***ing weirdos” as we ran through (hipster central) Shoreditch,’ says Kate. ‘As Adharanand said, if we had gone through there while ire-juggling on unicycles, no-one would have batted an eyelid. But running! That’s insane!’ HOLLOWAY 18 7.8 miles 19 Runners: David Smyth and James Poole ‘Unlike some of the runners on the outskirts, James and I had a couple of sights on the route,’ says David. ‘Soon after we started we went past Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge from 1543. Then we found what appeared to be a carving of a dementor from Harry Potter in the woods in Hainault. Ours was a greener route than many: we got muddy in Hainault Forest Country Park. But we also crossed the M11.’ Leg 18: Barking to Newham (7.8 miles) 14:00 ILFORD 24 Runners: Damian Hall and Dan Hallam ‘Our second leg, from Barking to Newham, was a revelation,’ says Damian. ‘The inish point was a genuine steep hill, the excellently named Beckton Alps. This former dry ski slope towered above all of London. It was exciting – and not exactly easy – to run up and reach the top, and see London spread out in all directions below us.’ 9.3 miles Leg 17: Havering to Barking (3.5 miles) 13:20 ● 20 WELLING DULWICH VILLAGE 9.0 miles 21 Leg 1: Bromley to Croydon (8.4 miles) 00:00 CROYDON 2 Runners: Rick Pearson and Stephen Pinkster ‘We set of at midnight,’ says Rick. ‘Our route was a celebration of remote London: empty ields, muddy tracks, panoramic views, nocturnal wildlife. Baton passed over, it was back in the support van to follow the runners through the night.’ AR ST 1 T Leg 30: Kensington & Chelsea to City of Westminster (3.5 miles) 22:05 ● Runners: Brian Otten and John Pickup ‘I was honoured to be part of the team that took the baton home,’ says Brian. ‘There was a really nice gradual incline to inish things of, and the streets were a lot less crowded than I thought they might be, which allowed us to run fast and freely. There is adventure to be had everywhere, folks!’ Runners: Carla Molinaro and Helen Coachman ‘Helen and I met at a beautiful village green 105m above sea level,’ says Carla. ‘We had great views of London, Essex and Kent. Barking is a place that seems to be obsessed with whales: we ran past whales carved out of wood, roundabouts named after Moby-Dick and we ended up on Whalebone Road.’ JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 041 042 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 THE LONG WAY UR E THE ADV E NT ISS UE JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 043 2 1 They just follow me limply about, attached to my waist but utterly incapable of independent action. I haul myself where I need to go. That first night, I flop onto the mattress, with my legs hanging over the side. And that’s how I stay, sleeping in the shape of a twisted right angle. The prospect of having to sit up and force my legs into a position where they’re not making my lower back ache is worse than the pain I already feel. I’m thankful that I’m too dehydrated to need the loo. The following day, I muster all my remaining energy and crawl to the 044 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 3 bathroom, slither over the edge of the bath and lower myself into the water head first. It takes an hour to get washed and dressed, and I’m proud I manage it so quickly. I need wheelchairs to get me through the airports. At Heathrow my children are somewhat taken aback to see me so incapacitated. I suspect my wife is, too, but she’s better at hiding it. I’ve never been happier to see them. We head straight to hospital, where I'm given a walking frame. Over the next few days, life slowly begins seeping back into my legs. Meanwhile, goodness knows what I’m sweating out. I spend the first week sleeping on the sofa (the stairs being a challenge too far) and wake up every morning with the cushions soaking wet. We end up having to buy a new sofa. And it’s while I am researching the sofa purchase online that it happens: my browser search history changes from ‘London sofa shops’ to ‘worldwide ultramarathons’. When you run silly distances, the question ‘why’ pops up a lot. Why run for five hours when you could stay in shape in 20 minutes? Why push yourself to extremes? Why isn’t a marathon enough? Why choose a sport in which blisters are a badge of honour and suffering is mandatory? Why, when there’s little prize money on offer? Why, when even the very best endurance runners are not well known and most have to work proper jobs just to get by? Why, when training requires so many hours alone on the trail? Why aren’t you normal? That’s the heart of the matter. Are we really ‘mad’, like so many people seem to suggest? Many years ago, I was told the following tale by my grandfather, as I sat on his knee one sweltering summer afternoon in the house he built by the sea. For a long time I believed it was ancient Greek wisdom, passed down from generation to generation. I liked THE LONG WAY 4 S PA R TA P H OTO G R A P H Y C L U B P H OTO G R A P H S : I A N C O R L E S S (O P E N E R ) , A L A M Y, S T UA R T M A R C H P H OTO G R A P H Y, VAS S O S A L E X A N D E R, 5 to think you could trace its origins back through the mists of our family, through Cretan mountains and remote island fishing ports, way back to the great Athenian empire, to the dawn of philosophy and civilisation. Back, in fact, to the original ultrarunners. To those legendary long-distance messengers such as Pheidippides. As it turns out, it’s actually a Cherokee parable from Tennessee, US. An old man is teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he explains to the boy. ‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, arrogance, self-pity, resentment and ego. The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, determination, humility, fortitude, compassion and truth. ‘The same fight is going on inside you – and it’s going on inside every other person, too.’ The boy thinks about it for a minute and then asks his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ 6 The old Cherokee smiles and replies simply, ‘The one you feed.’ And that’s the point of this, really. All this endless running. All the wonderful people who enter all these stupidly long races knowing they’ll frequently fail to finish. All the pain they suffer, all the injuries, the failures. All the lost toenails. But also the successes. The feeling of having pushed yourself to the edge of your limitations – and deciding not to quit. To push on regardless. To keep on running. The satisfaction of helping a fellow runner in trouble; the comfort of being helped. The lifelong friendships formed. The exhilaration of getting your body to achieve the impossible. You break yourself down, like stripping an engine, yet emerge more whole. Training for and achieving a desired time can be enormously rewarding. For ages, my holy grail was a marathon time starting with a ‘2’. Pulling that off remains one of my proudest moments. But the journey as a whole, while satisfying and 7 Opening spread: Vassos Alexander on the Dragon’s Back, Wales 1. The happy ultrarunner 2. Vassos and running pal Nick 3. Vassos touches the statue of Spartan warrior king Leonidas at the end of the Spartathlon 4. The start of the 2017 Spartathlon eventful, was never especially joyful. Definitely not the training, and not many of the races, either. Running on the trail, on the other hand... I don’t much like the word ‘ultrarunning’ because it sounds exclusive, which is the opposite of what it should be – and is. Endurance running is inclusive and quietly seems to make you a better version of yourself. For me, and so many of the runners I’ve spoken to over the years, running long gives a powerful sense of joy and serenity. There’s the warm blanket of community, too. The generosity and positivity of runners and volunteers, as well as supportive, long-suffering friends and family behind the scenes. Out on the trail, there’s the slow accumulation of problems, and the even slower process of solving them one by one. You’re in the moment. It can be like therapy, or an exorcism. A journey of self-knowledge. You’re feeling liberated from daily life but you’re also taking control, escaping into a more simple world. I’m a father to three terrific children. When each of them came into the world, I experienced a deep sense of contentment that stuck around for weeks. It seemed like everything was going to be OK and that nothing could burst my private bubble of joy. When I finished my first 100-mile race, I felt that same elation. For a month, I told everyone who’d listen how amazing it is to run 100 miles in one go. How they should try it. And so they should. I know it sounds like a long way and, of course, it is. If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be running these silly distances, I simply wouldn’t have believed you. But it comes in stages. First-ever run, then first 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon...and anything beyond is an ultra. Just build it up slowly. Reaching the finishing line is exquisite. Life-affirming and renewing. But the journey can be so very tough, and the urge to stop almost overwhelming. So why do we put ourselves through it? Simple, really. We’re feeding the good wolf. 5,6. Par for the course 7. Vassos with his very understanding family JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 045 S TA I R WAY ON THE RAILS Duncan Craig hits the 10,000-step mark – and hits it hard. Not far to go… 046 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 GIANT STEPS TO HELL UR E THE ADV E NT ISS UE STEPPING UP TO THE CHALLENGE OF 11,674 STEPS RISING PRECIPITOUSLY TO THE SUMMIT OF A SWISS MOUNTAIN, DUNCAN CRAIG TACKLES EUROPE’S CRAZIEST RACE AND INVESTIGATES THE GROWING APPEAL OF STAIR RUNNING Basic race etiquette was one of the earliest casualties. The organisers had been quite clear – should we become aware of someone trying to pass us on the single-file steps during our interminable ascent, the would-be overtaker should say ‘treppe’ (‘stairway’ in Swiss-German) and we should step aside. But there’s something about being in the red zone – deeper in the red zone, in fact, that you’ve ever been – that relegates basic manners to the most inconsequential of matters. Survival instincts kick in and you become a selfish bugger. Or at least I did – ignoring pleas from behind, sticking to my line, forcing overtakers to brave the steeply sloping, chute-like channel that separates the steps from the funicular tracks. There was no way I was surrendering even the faintest sliver of momentum. When you have thousands of steps still ahead of you, such things take on an absurd importance. The Niesen-Treppen-Lauf (Niesenbahn stair race) had captivated me since I first read of it a decade ago. The Niesenbahn funicular railway is one of the Alps’ most accomplished engineering feats. Extending up the Tobleronic slopes of Mount Niesen, in Switzerland’s Bernese-Oberland, it cuts a neat swathe through the forested foothills and clings, stiff-fingeredly, to the barren upper slopes like a freeclimber. But it was not so much this engineering marvel that interested me, as what ran alongside it, as a contingency for an emergency evacuation of the railway: the world’s longest staircase – a flight of 11,674 steps. ● JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 047 MY LEGS ARE STRONG AND MY BREATHING IS REGULAR, AND THE MORNING SUN HAS JUST CREPT OVER THE MOUNTAIN Just imagine trying to run up it, was my first thought. My second, to Google just that. And, sure enough, since 1990 – but with a 13-year hiatus as it changed its focus from a small group of niche professional endurance athletes to a larger field of amateur loons – there’s been a race. Once a year, the railway comes to a standstill until 10am to allow a field of 300 or so to subject themselves to untold suffering in idyllic surroundings. The rewards? Prestige and a few spectacularly unglamorous prizes (Odor-Eaters stood out here). The race is a vertical mile – you run from the 693m valley floor to the 2,362m summit – the incline approaches 70 per cent in places and nearly all the competitors are local. It was an impossibly seductive mix. Arriving at Mülenen, the village at the foot of the mountain from where the funicular begins, at 6:20am on race day, I find an atmosphere similar to any midsize parochial race. Names are being taken; numbers pinned; timing chips adjusted; gels stored; stretching routines flirted with. The race organisers keep up a crackly monologue of instructions, struggling to be heard over the sound of the surging meltwater river we’ll immediately cross when the race gets under way. As with every stair race, a mass start is impossible. At the Niesenbahn, it’s organised into pulses of two runners every 20 seconds, with the best stacked towards the final slots. Most seem to be runners rather than step specialists, though there’s a conspicuous glut of rippling quads on show. Advice varies. There is little consensus on the number of steps to take in one go: some say one; others are adamant it should be two; one even suggests three – the strategy employed by Colombian Francisco Sanchez, who won the 1991 race in a record time of 52:22. In 2004, it was decided to end the race at the Niesen summit, rather than the last step, adding 250m to the distance. The record for the new course, set in 2011 by Emmanuel Vaudan, is 55:55. Step tactics may differ but everyone is in agreement about one thing: don’t go off too hard. I don’t need to be told. At my first step race, the inaugural Spinnaker Tower run in Portsmouth six years ago, I went off like the clappers, completed the final few floors on my hands and knees, and spent 20 minutes dry-retching in the toilets at the finish. Chastened, I ran the Empire State Building (ESB) Run-Up six months later listening to classical music, with my heart rate hardly deviating from 150bpm. That had been encouraging – but that race’s 1,576 steps were a little more than a seventh of what I’m about to tackle. Am I prepared? Difficult to say. My training has been improvised, at best, built on three central pillars: strapping myself to the gym’s Versaclimber until my quads and glutes groaned and the cleaners moaned at the puddle of sweat; tackling as many hills as possible on my road bike; and hitting the stairwell at work. Hard. all the time. There’s a growing scene in India, China, Hong Kong.’ Gallagher did his first race, at the Gherkin in London, in 2013. Instantly hooked, he then tackled the Heron Tower and Tower 42, the Spinnaker, the Empire State Building and a string of others. He’s an ultramarathoner but he’s yet to find anything that comes close to the physical and mental torment of a stair race: ‘I really like the honesty of the sport. There’s no fooling the stairs: you try to take it easy but the stairs won’t let you. In other races, there are times when you can cruise a bit, but this isn’t possible in stair running.’ Many stair runners trumpet the crossover b enef it s . Q u a d s , g lut e s a nd core a re a l l strengthened, lactate thresholds increased and utilising the handrail to help pull yourself up (a bona fide technique that the pros spend years honing) provides a full-body workout. Bad weather is no barrier to training on your nearest stairwell and its quick-hit-return equation is another plus in our time-starved times; if you’re prepared to embrace the pain, results are pretty much guaranteed. ‘I took about four minutes off my 5K after six weeks of just stair running,’ says Gallagher. Then there’s the lack of impact. As any runner knows, the attrition rate of churning out dozens of miles a week can be high and the consequent injuries are spirit-sapping. But on the stairs, while Ten of the world’s most gruelling stair races. Tempted? 12,000 ● ● ● One World Trade Center New York – 2,226 steps ● 8,000 Rose Bowl Pasadena – 2,128 steps ON THE UP 048 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 Shanghai Tower Shanghai – 3,398 steps ● If I’d been looking for evidence of stair-running’s growth in the years since I nearly redecorated the Spinnaker Tower, it came in the response of those colleagues who caught me in the act. Six years ago, I might as well have been openly urinating in my chosen training stairwell, such were the looks of bewildered indignation. But this time round, there was altogether more understanding; all seemed to have heard of stair running, and a few had even tackled one of the UK’s growing number of races such as London’s Tower 42 or the Christie Tower Run in Manchester. There is empirical data, too. The Towerrunning World Association, the sport’s international governing body (the mere existence of such tells its own story), estimates that the number of races worldwide has more than doubled since 2010. A record 266 events in more than 50 countries were staged in 2017, from Bogota to Beijing, Pasadena to Penang, Ljubljana to Las Vegas. That’s close to 140,000 stair runners of all levels competing each year, and a growing number of these events are in the UK. ‘There are new races all the time,’ says Patrick Gallagher, founder of the independent Tower Running UK organisation. ‘When I set this up, in 2013, there were six races. Last year there were 14. Globally it’s popping up in new places Niesen-Treppen-Lauf Switzerland – 11,674 steps International Conference Centre Hong Kong – 2,120 steps ● Willis Tower Chicago – 2,115 steps ● 4,000 Menara Tower Kuala Lumpur – 2,058 steps ● Taipei 101 Taiwan – 2,046 steps ● ● 0 China World Summit Wing Hotel Beijing – 2,041 steps Eureka Tower Melbourne – 1,958 steps GIANT STEPS EARLY RISERS (top to bottom): Almost a vertical mile from the valley floor; the course featured a series of covered sections; on top of the world the cardiovascular system may be stretched to breaking point, your joints enjoy something close to a free ride. ‘I was very injury-prone as a track athlete,’ says Suzy Walsham, stair-running ‘galactico’ and multiple winner of the rival world championships staged by the Towerrunning World Association (TWA) and the Vertical World Circuit (VWC). ‘But stairs being non-impact means I don’t get injured at all. In fact, I can still train and race even when I’m carrying injuries that prevent me from running.’ At 44, Suzy is lean, bursting with vitality and seemingly getting better with every race. She runs an estimated 200,000 steps a year and shows no signs of slowing down. The former Commonwealth Games 800m and 1500m runner is convinced that such longevity would not be possible in more conventional racing. N E V E R - E N D I N G S T O R E YS Back at the Niesenbahn, those Odor-Eaters won’t win themselves. My number – siebenundsiebzig (77) – is called and I and my randomly assigned race buddy (CamelBak, neat Germanic glasses, hair as white as his knee-high socks) are ushered through the door of the base station and towards an electronic counter. This works down from 20 seconds, during which we share a handshake, and then the starter’s arm goes down and we’re trundling over the river on the elevated steel walkway. ‘Don’t go off too hard.’ The mantra repeats in my mind as I slip into a cautious early pace, aided by the walkway ramping up alarmingly, like a reverse ski jump. White socks is even slower. ‘Treppe,’ I announce proudly and he steps aside with a cheery nod. Early days. We’re all friends. I feel good. My legs are strong and my breathing is regular, and the morning sun has just crept over the mountain, flooding the valley with sunlight and taking the edge off the crisp air. I allow myself the occasional glance left and right to admire the valley opening up below. Cattle bells tinkle in the distance. I’m enjoying this. And then, all too soon, everything starts to fall apart. There’s just no let-up. In a conventional run, as Gallagher points out, you can vary the intensity, commit, JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 049 Stair-running know-how from Suzy Walsham, eight-time winner of the ESB Run-Up If you’re going to race on stairs, train on stairs. Start small and build from there. If you attempt 40 storeys straight of, you’ll fail and it will knock your conidence. Far better to do 10 loors, then have a rest. Walking two stairs at a time is faster than running one at a time, so aim for this. Running up the steps two at a time, as I do, is quite tough for the beginner but it is possible with some practice. In races with a handrail, use it to pull yourself up. It’s allowed and it helps take some of the load of your legs. Techniques vary; some runners use a double handhold to haul themselves up. then coast, then commit a bit more. This is relentless. A dull ache takes hold of my quads and calves, which, over the next hour or so, will morph into a jagged, burning sensation, and a stream of sweat falls from the peak of my cap. The variable surface is another challenge I’ve not anticipated. Single flight this may be, but it’s divided into multiple short segments: neat trellised steel steps; narrow, bricked ones; improvised stone steps so high you need both hands, and a little momentum, to even scale. Some sections have handrails, others have nothing. One unstable stretch has an accompanying rope, which I flail at. I dig in and clamber on, ignoring my first ‘treppe’ request from behind for a good 10 seconds before relenting. The gradient is shocking in places; a stone I dislodge slips into the track-side channel and bounces off down the mountainside to land in the river possibly as much as a minute later. Running down this staircase would be not just impossible, but quite possibly lethal. The first and only refreshment station comes just over halfway, at around 6,000 steps in, at the Schwandegg or middle station. I enter a cool, dimly lit tunnel and then, abruptly, the staircase stops and a walkway takes me 20 metres across to a parallel track. This is the point where passengers on the Niesenbahn must change from one distinctive red carriage to another. This enables the railway to operate on two wires rather than a single, impractically heavy one. I gulp down multiple plastic cups of water and orange squash, suddenly chilly in my saturated top and shorts, and dine liberally at the refuelling buffet. It’s fairly standard stuff, save for the enormous hunks of chocolate that I almost instantly regret gorging on. ‘Ah, you’re English!’ one of the volunteers says, when I offer my thanks. ‘Keep going. You’re almost there.’ Well, not really. Not at all, in fact. Another 5,000 steps (give or take), is going to sting a bit, I’m fairly certain of it. Exiting the tunnel, I get on the heels of a woman who has a neat, efficient technique and slipstream her for a welcome 10 minutes or so. If my pained wheezing bothers her, she has the grace not to let it show. I steal a look back: behind, stretching away to little more than dots far below, figures are bowed against the gradient, emerging from tunnels and scrambling up the track like rodents. It’s a surreal sight: part race, part train-crash evacuation. It’s around three-quarters of the way through that I spot Bruno. A tall, effervescent fellow and a training partner of the late Ueli Steck (a legendary mountaineer a nd speed climber), he’s performing the role of of f icial photographer this year. But he would, clearly, rather be out here taking part, as he has done every year since the race began. A paragliding accident has forced him to pull out; the hand he damaged is bandaged up, his telephoto lens propped in his cocked wrist. I’m fading fast, and craving some encouragement. I don’t get it from Bruno. ‘Here he is – the Brit!’ he shouts. ‘What took you so long?’ I CAN BARELY STAND, MY VISION IS OBSCURED BY SWEAT AND I’M SEEING STARS. WHEN THESE CLEAR, I SPOT A TENT SERVING BEERS 050 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 Start far slower than you think you need to. If you go too fast you’ll blow up, which, I can tell you, is horriic. I try to maintain a constant pace and rhythm all the way up, but some people get overexcited. I hang on and count the last several hundred steps to the final tunnel. It’s long and dark but at the end I know I’ll find what my legs and lungs yearn for: relief from the tyranny of the treppe. We’re spat back out into the sunshine onto a paved path, which meanders, step-free, up to the summit finish. I experience the most incredible and unexpected second wind, tearing past five, 10, 20 competitors plodding, zombie-like, towards the finish line as if in a protracted fall. I respond to the whoops from the surprisingly large crowd gathered by the terrace of the restaurant-hotel, hare it up the final stretch and collapse over the finish line. I can barely stand, my vision is obscured by sweat and I’m seeing stars. When these clear, I spot a finisher’s tent serving beers. You’ve got to be kidding, I think. Then I take one. RU N N E RS H I G H Three-quarters of an hour, two beers and one unisex changing room later and I’m sitting on the dazzlingly bright terrace of Restaurant Hotel Niesen-Kulm, taking it all in. It’s an extraordinary spot. I never imagined that the ESB Run-Up would be bettered for stop-and-gawp finish-line impact, but the summit of the Swiss Pyramid, as the Niesen is fondly known, is out on its own. I have a pilot’s-eye view of the cloud-dappled valley floor far below, yet sit above the cloud line. There’s the visceral thrill of knowing that I’ve got all the way up here under my own steam; and it’s not often you get to run a (linear) race for 90-odd minutes yet can still make out the start line when you’re done. The race is won by 25-year-old Jonathan Schmid, in what must surely have been an infuriating one hour and 20 seconds. A quick chat with the tall Swiss confirms as much. ‘I really wanted to break the hour mark,’ he says, mustering an unconvincing smile. Second is Friedrich Dahler, a man with some serious vertical pedigree – he holds the world record for the most metres climbed in 24 hours (20,407m). It’s pretty much a rule, I’ve found, that whenever you do something extreme, there’s always someone who’s way out in front of you on the scale. Prizes are handed out in a low-key ceremony on the terrace (fourth, Silas Walther, gets the OdorEaters) and everyone settles down to eat, drink and recover. I sit with Bruno and race organiser Urs Wohler, a jovial bear of a man. Bruno, who loves this mountain so much he wrote a book about it – Der Niesen und seine Bahn (there’s a chapter on GIANT STEPS the race) – regales us with stories of Francisco Sanchez’s record-breaking ascent in 1991. ‘He had incredible power,’ he enthuses. ‘He was like an antelope – it was the Niesenbahn’s “were you there?” moment.’ I quiz Urs about expansion of the race, whose limited places are known to sell out quickly. There’s clearly scope to internationalise it: the highest-placed non-Swiss runner is 38th, and I’m one of just three Brits among 227 finishers. Rather than just a few hours a year, why not take the railway over for a day? Make a party of it? Have music at the top? A festival atmosphere? Clearly, I’ve had too much beer. Urs indulges me but isn’t entirely convinced. A bigger field would have its benefits, sure, but at what price to this race’s considerable charm? I speak to Patrick Gallagher on my return to the UK. He’s a huge fan of the Niesenbahn stair race, but sees the event as something of an anomaly on the circuit (‘uniquely different’, he calls it), though an important component in raising the profile of the sport – and in helping it to earn the respect he believes it deserves. ‘It does annoy me the way that stair running is treated in some quarters,’ he says. ‘I’ve seen races screened on TV with commentators treating it as an absolute running joke. But that doesn’t make any sense: the men and women at the top level of the sport are 30-minute 10K runners. And I can tell you this: it’s certainly not a joke for anyone who has trained for one, or who has actually stepped up and done one.’ As I finish my beer, collect my sodden kit and join the queue for the Niesenbahn’s long, slow, treacherously steep descent, I can certainly vouch for that. P H OTO G R A P H S : B R U N O P E T R O N I / N I E S E N BA H N HIGH TIME (top to bottom): Duncan at the inish; from this height, paragliding is not a problem; the inal few agonising paces to the summit, the inish line and an ill-advised beer JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 051 TRUE GRIP Adidas Terrex TrailMaker £90, adidas.co.uk THE NEED -TO -KNOW Built for long days of the road, the TrailMaker is a solid choice for runners who want to take on a variety of surfaces without losing conidence in their traction. The 4-5mm lugs grip well on a wide range of technical challenges, from rocks to gravel; the tread pattern and durable Continental rubber outsole help you stick your landing, even when the rain turns the conditions slick underfoot; and the reinforced, seamless upper holds your foot in place. 052 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE XXXXXXXX 2018 2017 Wear-testers gave the lexibility low marks, but they liked the one-pull lacing system and commended the overall running experience. ‘I WAS VERY PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY HOW THIS SHOE FITTED AND PERFORMED – IT RODE WELL ON TOUGH TERRAIN, HAD GREAT TRACTION AND ALWAYS FELT STURDY.’ – LYNNE SCHEETZ Hoka One One ATR 4 £110, runnersneed.com THE NEED -TO -KNOW Think of the ATR 4 as an all-terrain version of the Hoka Clifton. It features deep lugs to deliver a super-solid grip and – as you would expect from maximum-cushioning cheerleaders Hoka – a thick layer of light foam underfoot (this was the thickest of the shoes we tested in the lab). Our testers noticed this, too, saying the supple ride felt like the perfect combination of plush cushioning and surefootedness, and gave the ATR top scores in both the comfort and cushioning departments. The upper has been changed: there are fewer overlays and it has been reinforced with internal bands over the midfoot to lock the foot down. ‘THIS SHOE PROVIDES THE TRACTION AND STABILITY THAT ARE ESSENTIAL FOR OFFROAD RUNNING, WHILE STILL MAKING MY FEET, SHINS AND JOINTS FEEL CUSHIONED AND LOVED.’ – KIEREN BECKER WORDS: MOLLY RITTERBECK, WARREN GREENE, MARTYN SHORTEN. PHOTOGRAPHS: MATT RAINEY Four great trail shoes to take you of the beaten track and help you tackle any ofroad adventure TRAIL SHOES ADV E NT THE UR E ISS UE New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V3 THE NEED -TO -KNOW The Hierro is a versatile shoe that can easily transition to the pavement when necessary, thanks to its soft cushioning. That makes it ideal for those whose adventures take in a bit of road along with the trail. A stretchy ilm wraps the upper to provide structure and protection while allowing the foot to lex freely. Testers loved the knit around the ankle, which keeps out debris. This sole is softer than that of the V2, but the shoe is a bit less lexible and heavier overall. Though our testers £110, newbalance.co.uk noticed this, they still gave the shoe a high overall mark because of its excellent allround feel and performance. ‘THIS SHOE HANDLED BUMPS ON THE TRAIL SO WELL, I FOUND MYSELF SHUTTING OFF AND FOCUSING MORE ON MY SURROUNDINGS THAN MY FOOTING. FROM MILE ONE TO 15, THE OVERALL RIDE WAS A JOY.’ – JONATHAN DURAND Brooks Caldera 2 £110, brooksrunning.com THE NEED -TO -KNOW This shoe is all about maximum comfort. Our testers raved about the cushioning, noting the supple feel on both road and trail, and our lab tests conirmed it was the softest of the shoes we tested. The new upper is made from breathable mesh that is designed to improve drainage when things get soggy. There is also an added layer of ilm over key areas of the foot to provide extra support, and a lace pocket on the tongue. While this version tested stifer than the original Caldera – in the lab and on foot – it performed superbly. ‘THIS IS EASILY ONE OF THE MOST COMFORTABLE SHOES I HAVE WORN IN 28 YEARS OF RUNNING. I PUT IN A LOT OF MILES ON TOUGH, HILLY TRAILS AND THE CALDERA PERFORMED FLAWLESSLY.’ – JIM DEMSKO XXXXXXXX JUNE 2018 2017 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 053 ADV E NT THE UR E Ag A gainst the grains ISS UE WHEN THE SAND, SUFFERING AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY OF THE MARATHON DES SABLES WAS EXPORTED FROM MOROCCO TO THE HARSH BUT BEAUTIFUL ICA DESERT ON PERU’S PACIFIC COAST, THE RUNNING ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME WAS BORN 054 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 MDS PERU SAND AMBITIONS: Among the many spectacular sights to be marvelled at during the Marathon des Sables Peru were the rolling dunes that stretched for miles in every direction JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 055 It all started back in 1984, when Frenchman Patrick Bauer completed a solo journey through the Sahara on foot, carrying everything he needed. Two years later the first edition of the race his adventure inspired him to create – the Marathon des Sables – featured a handful of runners, but in the 32 years since then it has become a flagship global event, with its 1,000+ places vastly over-subscribed. The MdS Morocco helped to pave the way for multiday races around 056 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 the world and in November last year the organisation spread its own wings at the inaugural Marathon des Sables Peru. This was the MdS, but on a new continent and in a new wild and spectacular landscape, the Ica desert, sandwiched between the rollers of the Pacific Ocean and the towering peaks of the Andes. Staying true to the values that have made the Moroccan journey so loved, MdS Peru aimed to help 1 5 4 MDS PERU WO R D S A N D P H OTO G R A P H S : I A N CO R L E S S 1 PASSING THROUGH Julien Chorier runs through a tiny rustic village on Day 1. 2 ROCKY ROAD Runners found themselves amid epic landscapes, tackling torturous terrain. 3 THAT SINKING FEELING As runners approach a coastal inish, the sun melts into the Paciic. 4 IN THE ZONE Some early morning focus to prep for a long, hard day ahead. They say ultrarunning is more about the mind than the legs. 5 HAIR APPARENT It may be 250km through hostile terrain in searing heat, but that doesn’t mean you can neglect your grooming routine… 2 3 JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 057 1 GROUP DYNAMIC Early in the day, runners are bunched together, but the miles will separate them 2 LOCAL HEROES Support for the race and a desire to meet runners added to the experience. 3 TRACK AND SHIELD Spot trackers are provided to all runners so the organisers can track their location; help can be summoned at the touch of a button. 4 FASTER CHEF Runners must carry all their own provisions and prepare their meals in camp 5 DOWNTIME Race winner Rachid El Morabity, from Morocco, tackles a dune descent. 5 058 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 MDS PERU In stages DAY 1: 37.2 km From Cahuachi, at just over 350m, to Coyungo, at just above sea level. 2 DAY 2: 40.2km From Coyungo to Samaca, with a more challenging gradient proile than Day 1; a long climb early on, a rollercoaster of small inclines and descents, plus the canyon of Rio Ica. 1 4 DAY 3: 32.7km To Ocucaje on a mixed day of lunar landscapes, stony terrain and dunes, with 550m of ascent in the irst 13km. DAY 4: 68.3km A long day. The irst 40km undulates, then it’s down to sea level before rising again. It’s tough, but Paciic views help. DAY 5: 42.2km Running along the coastline on possibly the most spectacular of all the stages, taking in beaches, clifs, archaeological zones and a most welcome breeze en route to Mendieta. DAY 6 :19.6km The big push to the inish in La Catedral is another coastal day, but with less elevation. 3 people fulfil dreams, develop their potential and open a doorway to a new world over six days and almost 250km of running. The race followed the protocols of MdS Morocco, covering the same total distance, split into six one-day stages and demanding full self-sufficiency from runners, with only shelter and rationed water provided. Nonetheless, the Ica provided a very different experience to the Sahara. The early days were raw, particularly Day 1, which covered 37.2km from Cahuachi to Coyungu – it was a day of local villages, farms, riverbeds and, surprisingly, lush vegetation. Day 2 brought rolling dunes, expansive landscapes and widescreen vistas of sandy plateaus hemmed in by jagged mountains. And by Day 4 the race had really stepped out of its sibling’s shadow, as the Pacific Ocean came into view, bringing a new outlook to racing in the desert. The following day took runners on a rollercoaster ride that weaved along the rocky JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 059 1 SHORE THING Added to the classic elements of the original MdS – sand, heat and selfsuiciency – is the highlight of hugging the Paciic coastline for large stretches. 2 WATER WORKS With rationed water part of the challenge, runners grab any opportunity to drink. 3 CAMP SIGHT Sharing the day’s events with fellow runners in the glow of headtorches is a special part of the event. 4 SCREEN TIME Spending up to eight hours under a relentless sun means the skin needs serious protection. 4 060 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 3 MDS PERU 1 The view from the trail ‘The most beautiful thing is the bivouac: listening to diferent languages; spending moments with people who share your passion, sufer like you and understand you. This communion with other people rejoiced me.’ ROCIO CARRIÓN (Peru) ‘I liked the idea of being a pioneer, of entering history.’ NAHO FUKUNAGA (Japan) ‘It’s more of an adventure and an inner exploration than a race.’ GEDIMINAS GRINIUS (Lithuania) ‘You return home with great stories of friendship, but what I learned about myself, this force deep inside, is the most amazing thing!’ BEATRIZ CAMIADE (Mexico) 2 coastline, with the mighty breakers of the Pacific a constant presence all the way to the finish in Barlovento. Runners came from more than 30 countries. The largest contingent came from France, followed by the UK and then Japan. At the front of the field, elite sand specialists led the way, with five-time MdS Morocco champion Rachid El Morabity dominating the men’s race from start to finish and multiple IAU world champ Nathalie Mauclair winning all six stages of the women’s race. The home nation was well represented, too, with Peruvians Aydee Soto Quispe and Renee Romero placing fourth and fifth in the women’s field. Runners of all levels shared the same experience of self-reliance and full immersion in nature. Deprived of any creature comforts, they ran the full distance carrying everything they needed to survive – food, clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and any luxuries they deemed worth the weight. The only thing provided by the race was rationed water and a tent to sleep in. The course was spectacular, with huge, empty, landscapes, but battling the harshness of the elements and an arduous mix of soft sand and steep gradients pushed many runners to their limits. All of which made this new adventure feel very much part of the MdS ethos, a fitting addition to the legacy of the pioneering Patrick Bauer and an instant addition to the bucket lists of running adventurers everywhere. The next Marathon des Sables Peru is scheduled to take place in November 2018 (date tbc). For more information and news, and to register to take part, visit marathondessables.com JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 061 Running rewired .......................p66 Building up to a long run ............p71 Why sugar is not so sweet...........p72 Delicious salmon ishcakes.........p75 Strengthen those other limbs .....p76 P H OTO G R A P H S : C H R I S TA A N F E L B E R ( M A I N ), L U C K Y I F S H A R P (C O F F E E ) REACH your PERSONAL BEST A CALL TO ARMS When it comes to training, most runners ignore their upper body. But if you do some work on your arms, your technique will improve, especially on long, tiring runs. The heavy lifting is worth the weight. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 065 REWIRE YOUR RUNNING The typical runner is quad-heavy and glutelight, says physio and coach Jay Dicharry. He explains how you can rebalance those muscles to become stronger, faster and more stable 066 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 TRAINING THE THRILL OF RUNNING CAN distract us from the reality of what is happening to you with every stride. Your heart beats harder, pumping blood throughout your body. Sweat drips down your forehead as your body temperature rises. You feel the wind on your face as you turn up the trail or down the road. These are the images running conjures up in our heads and they are real, but while your heart and lungs are driving your engine, your chassis is under a lot of stress. Like it or not, your body must deal with two-and-a-half to three times its weight with every stride. Think about this. If you stand on both legs, you have half your weight on each leg. If you stand on one leg, that’s 100 per cent of your weight on one leg. Now take a barbell, add about 150 per cent of your weight to it and hoist the load onto your shoulders; then stand on one leg. Like it or not, this is how much stress your bones, tendons, muscles, cartilage and ligaments support with every stride you take. As runners, we’ve been told distance running is a small amount of stress applied to your body for a long time. If anything, we could say that running is large stresses acting on our body for a long time. Further complicating matters is the fact that running isn’t just a single-plane sport. In addition to these vertical forces, we have to deal with braking and acceleration forces that amount to 40-50 per cent of our body’s weight. And that’s while our body is kicked laterally by forces of around 15 per cent of our weight just from the effort of running. Running creates huge amounts of stress that acts on the body from all sides. This load acting on your body is absolute and rather mechanical. But your body’s response isn’t just mechanical. Imagine a rubber ball. If you throw a rubber ball off the roof, it will first accelerate to the ground. When it collides with the ground, the energy of the impact will flatten the ball out a bit and then the ball will rebound off the ground and spring back up again. The ball is passive – it compresses and rebounds based on the density of the rubber from which it is made. This is a simple illustration of how a passive object responds to load. Now imagine you are soaring through the air in mid-stride and the same gravity that accelerated the rubber ball takes you back to earth. That’s where the similarity ends, because the body isn’t passive. It’s WHEN YOU RUN, ESPECIALLY AS YOUR SPEED INCREASES, MORE OOMPH NEEDS TO COME FROM THE MUSCLES THAT EXTEND THE HIPS a complex system of parts, with a neuromuscular system that actively moves, adjusts and coordinates these parts in response to the mechanical forces of running. Don’t neglect the glute When you run, especially as your speed increases, more and more oomph needs to come from the muscles that extend the hips. But it’s likely that years of overstriding have wired your muscle memory to favour the quads and neglect the glutes. Put simply, the typical runner is quad-heavy and glute-light. Most runners overstride. The lab data I’ve collected over a decade reveals that most runners don’t know how to fully use the muscles in their backside. It would be much easier if muscle control was balanced around the body, but the reality is most people are out of balance, a problem that is not exclusive to running. Dr Vladimir Janda, a pioneer in muscular therapy, coined the term ‘lower crossed syndrome’ to describe the imbalance that occurs when the hip flexors, quads and lower back muscles are tight and overused, and the deep-core and gluteus maximus are asleep at the wheel. The best way to inhibit the muscles around your hips is to screw up your posture. And then there’s the issue of tight hips. If those muscles are tight, your hip won’t have full extension to both sides of your pelvis. This imbalance isn’t a running problem; it’s a body problem. But if it’s not corrected, you’ll never be able to correct your stride. About 80 per cent of runners will need to do a lot of hip flexor stretches to improve this. Your quads are big muscles, capable of producing a huge amount of force. No matter what your running form, you need your quads to work hard. But muscles don’t act alone, and we certainly don’t want the quads to carry the torch when running. Changing your dominant muscles for moving and running is critical to improving joint health and performance. 1 / HIP-MOBILITY TEST Kneel inside a doorway, with your mid-back touching the doorframe. The thigh of your kneeling leg should be vertical and the shin of your opposite leg should also be vertical. In this position, you’ll have a small gap between your lower back and the doorframe. Now, tuck your tailbone under so that the hollow between your lower back and the doorframe disappears. To make this happen, imagine your pelvis as a bowl of cereal that you are trying to spill behind you. This movement is commonly referred to as pelvic tilt. Once you are in this position, what do you feel? If you feel a huge pull in front of the thigh, incorporate the kneeling hip flexor stretch (below) into your weekly maintenance work. If you feel nothing or just a gentle lengthening, there is no need to do any static stretches of the hip flexors. The Running Rewired workouts build in plenty of dynamic mobility movement to ensure you use the hip motion you do have. 2 / KNEELING HIP FLEXOR STRETCH Kneel on a pad or pillow, making sure to keep the thigh of the leg you are kneeling on vertical. Tuck your pelvis under (see the posterior pelvic-tilt instruction in the hip-mobility test above). Hold this position for three minutes. To increase the stretch, position the foot of your kneeling leg out to the side a few inches (this will rotate your thigh inward) before moving into a posterior pelvic tilt. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 067 The problem with quad dependency Being overly reliant on your quads creates three big problems. First, it can wreck your knees. Nearly every study on running injuries ranks patellafemoral pain in the top three injuries affecting runners. Your patella (kneecap) is basically a pulley for your quad. When you overstride, the torque – mechanical load – on the knee is greater. The quad has to work harder, creating more shear across the surface of the patella, which isn’t the best thing for the long-term health of the cartilage underneath it. Changing your muscle dominance will reduce stress on the knee. Second, there are performance implications for our bias toward the quads. Your quad has a greater percentage of fast-twitch fibres. So, for a given running pace, your quads will be working closer to peak capacity and enter into a fatigued state – or acidic state – sooner. When the muscle gets too acidic, the pH level drops and the muscle can’t contract and relax as well, so you end up hitting the wall. Since the glute has more slowtwitch fibres, it produces smaller amounts of acidic waste products and can last longer before building up a lot of waste. This means you can maintain a harder pace for a little longer without falling apart. Finally, your quads simply can't match the total body control your glutes are capable of setting in motion. Your gluteus maximus has three primary functions, all of which benefit your running: 1. It is an incredibly powerful, fatigue-resistant muscle that drives your hip from the front of your body to the back. Your quads do the opposite. 2. It is also your primary hip external rotator; in other words, it prevents your knees from crashing in when you run. 3. Finally, your gluteus maximus plays a huge role in postural control; if your glute isn't firing properly, your torso will pitch forward and cause you to overstride. Overstriding means very high loading rates with each step, putting the body under more stress with every stride. This stuff matters. See right for three glute-activating moves from the 83 exercises in Running Rewired. 068 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 IF YOUR GLUTE ISN’T FIRING PROPERLY, YOUR TORSO WILL PITCH FORWARD AND CAUSE YOU TO OVERSTRIDE TRAINING 1 / SUITCASE CARRY Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in one hand and let it hang down at your side. Keep your shoulder blades flattened down along your ribs and actively counter your tendency to lean away from the asymmetric load. Hold yourself vertical as you walk for 30 seconds. Do four 30-second carries. P H OTO G R A P H S : G E T T Y ( M A I N I M AG E S ), V E LO P R E S S 2 / KETTLEBELL SQUAT Hold a kettlebell tight to your chest in both hands, with shoulder blades spread wide and locked down on the back. Your feet should be slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Staying centred over your feet, sink your hips down in a squat until your elbows touch your thighs. Keeping a neutral spine, drive back up to a standing position. Don’t arch your back at the top of the movement to counter the weight. Maintaining a neutral spine ensures that your core works as much as your legs. Do three sets of eight reps. You can also use a dumbbell, sandbag or any kind of weight for this exercise. 3 / LANDMINE SINGLE-LEG DEAD LIFT Place one end of a 20kg bar on the floor. Anchor it in a corner. With the free end of the bar perpendicular to your body, stand on your outside leg and hold the bar in the opposite hand; let your arm hang down. Raise your free arm out to the side for balance. Hinge your hips back while keeping your spine completely straight, and lower the bar while raising your back leg behind you. Look in the same direction as your chest is facing. Moving your head before beginning the bend will bring the spine out of neutral. Push your hips forward to return to the starting position. Turn around to work on the other side. Do three sets of eight reps on each leg. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 069 TRAINING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS FROM AN EASYGOING COACH BY JEFF GALLOWAY YOU’LL GO A LONG WAY How to work your way up to 10 miles and beyond WHEN YOU need two numerals instead of one to log how far you’ve run in a single outing, you’ve reached a major milestone: many recreational runners never make it that far. The reason you should bother striving for 10 – beyond the bragging rights – is that going long, no matter how slowly you’re moving, is the best way to increase your endurance. More endurance often means faster race inishes. And long, aerobic eforts can help you lose weight and keep it of. Trouble is, if you go too far, too soon, too fast, you could end up injured. Here’s how to join the Mile 10 Club without getting hurt. I L L U S T R AT I O N : R A M I N I E M I Jeff Galloway is a 10,000-metre Olympian and well-known coach who promotes the run-walk method THE PROBLEM I find my short runs boring. How will I ever survive a long one? FUEL INJECTION On long runs, don’t let the tank run dry 1. Build wisely 2. Move slowly 3. Add fuel 4. Recover right Plan a long run every other weekend (add a half mile to the distance each time). Maintain your itness by running for at least 30 mins every other day. On long-run days, choose a route that loops past your car or home so you can pick up water and snacks. Your long-run pace should be one to two minutes per mile slower than your short-run pace. If you usually run nonstop, take a walk break after every mile or so on long runs. If you runwalk the rest of the week, lengthen the walk periods on the long run. If you’ll be out for more than an hour or so, have a sweet snack (eg a few jelly babies) of 30-40kcals every two miles. This will top up your muscles’ glycogen stores. Wash snacks down with sips of water, and drink more when you feel thirsty. Have a snack (about 250kcals) containing carbs and protein within 30 mins of inishing your run – chocolate milk is a good choice. A 10-15minute walk after your run can prevent soreness in the following days. To soothe tired muscles, have a hot bath. THE FIX Running with friends is the surest way to beat boredom, but only if you’re all comfortable holding the same pace. Beyond that, you can experiment. Try different routes. Run with music or a podcast (at a safe, low volume, of course). Do some mental maths. Compose a poem. Your brain might just need a while to remember how to daydream. Once it does, time will pass much more quickly. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 071 HOW SWEET IT ISN’T You can’t outrun a sugar addiction. Kick it to the kerb with these tips SUGAR IS EVERYWHERE . It’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That forces your body to quickly process huge levels of sugar. ‘We get less eicient at this over time, which is why we become more susceptible to problems such as diabetes as we age,’ says Gradney. That means even healthy people – such as runners – should trim their daily intake of added sugar to less than 25g per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization. (There’s no need to avoid naturally sweet, whole foods, which have water, ibre and/or protein that slow the sugar’s path into your system.) Runners can quell the sugar lood and help break a not-so-sweet habit with these strategies. Many of us are turning to ‘detox’ plans that eliminate all sugar for 30 days or more. Converts say cutting out refined sugars improves sleep, cures acne, trims pounds and boosts mood and focus. Though definitely not a panacea, smoothing out fluctuations in blood sugar could improve your energy, says Kelly Pritchett, an assistant professor in clinical nutrition at Central Washington University, US. You also may break bad food habits and form new ones that are less sugar-dependent. However, ‘completely eliminating all added sugars from your diet may not be sustainable in the long term’, she says. 072 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 L U C K Y I F S H A R P ( P R O D U C T S H OT S ) SHOULD YOU GO COLD TURKEY? GET THE POINT? It’s all too easy to get a lot of sugar into your system WO R D S : K E L LY BAS TO N E . P H OTO G R A P H S : DA N S A E L I N G E R / T R U N K A R C H I V E .CO M , in practically every food we eat and though we know it’s not good for us in excess, it’s also so hard to resist. That’s because eating sugar lights up our brains’ dopamine receptors (the same ones that trigger drug addiction), making us feel fantastic – and eager for another hit. As runners, our sugar problem is even stickier, as we rely on gels and energy drinks (and sometimes just plain sweets) to fuel up for and recover from workouts. Sadly, running doesn’t make you immune to the detrimental health efects of eating too much reined sugar. The nearly 30kg (66lb) of sugar that each UK adult consumes a year increases our risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and sleep disorders. That’s true whether you exercise or not. Reined sweeteners ‘go right from your lips into your bloodstream’, says Kristen Gradney, a spokesperson for the FUEL BY GRANTING YOURSELF THE LICENCE TO ENJOY ONE OR TWO BITES OF YOUR FAVOURITE TREAT, YOU GET MAXIMUM ENJOYMENT FOR MINIMAL DAMAGE Go natural Replace foods that have lots of added sugar (such as sweets or muins) with ones that are high in natural sugar (eg apples and dates), which ofer a hit of sweetness that’s lower in calories and higher in nutrients. ‘Sweet fruits and vegetables might not seem as appealing as a cupcake, but they’ll satisfy your physiological need for sugar and make those intense cravings fade away,’ says Gradney. Make a sweet deal ‘Earning’ your sweet treat can also help curb cravings, suggests researcher Brian Wansink, author of Slim by Design (William Morrow). ‘You impose a trade-of, so that you’re not saying no to something, but you do make it harder to get,’ he says. Want ice cream after lunch? Earn it by completing a chore you’ve been dreading, or taking the stairs instead of the lift. These negotiations cut down on impulse eating by delaying gratiication. They can also replace your craving with selfsatisfaction – you’re so pleased you cleaned out the garage that you no longer need biscuits to celebrate. Dilute it Mix the sugary stuf with something that is much better for you. Combine cranberry juice with soda water, mix hot cocoa with unsweetened cofee, swirl a scoop of ice cream into an equal quantity of berries, and mix your honeycoated granola with Shredded Wheat (which contains almost no sugar per serving). ‘You lower the overall sugar content but don’t end up feeling deprived,’ says Gradney. Portion it out Choosing singleserving packages of ice cream and biscuits can enforce a healthy-portion habit and keep you from devouring that entire pack of Hobnobs. One 2012 study, published in Health Psychology, found that people who snacked on portioned crisps ate 50 per cent less (translating to 250 fewer calories). Just be sure to read the labels, because some packaging contains more than one serving. And keep your cache of treats out of view, says Gradney, so you aren’t tempted to reach for seconds…or thirds. Time your treats Runners do get two short windows of sugar-immunity: during and then immediately after a workout, when the body metabolises sugar for fuel and replenishes muscle glycogen for recovery. And all other times? ‘The sugar that you eat when you’re sedentary is more likely to go to stored fat, once glycogen stores are full,’ says Pritchett. And yes, you will get more nutritional value from eating pineapple or chocolate milk, but if doughnuts are your guilty pleasure, it may be better to have that type of occasional indulgence within about 30 minutes of inishing a workout. Savour flavour Studies have found that the irst bite of any food yields the most pleasure – and that people who eat large servings of indulgent foods actually feel less satisied than those consuming smaller portions. When you do crave something sweet, try taking just a taste. ‘We’ve found that total deprivation just isn‘t sustainable, because many people may fall of the wagon and give up hope for healthier eating,’ says Wansink. By granting yourself the licence to enjoy one or two bites of your favourite treat, you’ll get maximum enjoyment for minimal damage. And that’s especially true when it’s a high-quality food: one square of high-cocoa content dark chocolate can often deliver far more satisfaction than an entire bar of poor-quality stuf. SUG AR SHOCKERS Runners should eat no more than 25g of added sugar a day. Processed foods crack that ceiling quickly. Check out the estimated grams in the examples below. Just one can of fizzy drink can blow your quota for the day. 11 21.7 25 35 KELLOGG'S CRUNCHY NUT CEREAL (30G SERVING) SNICKERS BAR STARBUCKS TALL CARAMEL MACCHIATO COCA-COLA (330ML CAN) JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 073 RW / / PROMOTION NAIL YOUR RACE GOALS Dream big but think small: sweat the details DRESS FOR SUCCESS No, that doesn’t mean colour-coordinating your outit or buying shiny new clobber for the big day; it means wearing your favourite running outit, the one you’ve worn on those long miles. Eliminate distractions (and chaing) by wearing something that will enhance, not hinder, your performance. EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY Training for a big event is exciting, isn’t it? Signing up for the race; following a programme; seeing and feeling yourself get fitter, faster, stronger. Science in Sport was founded by – and exists for – people like you. They get how much sweat, energy and commitment it takes to hit your goals, so they work just as hard at pushing their own boundaries to create the very best sports nutrition, for elite competitors and everyday athletes alike. Their newest innovation, WHEY20, is a game-changer and will redefine the way you think about post-training nutrition. You may know that protein is essential to help repair the muscles after exercise, but which type of protein to take? And is messing about with powders and shakes really for you? WHEY20 is the only whey protein supplement on the market to come in gel form. It has a yoghurt-like consistency that is easy to swallow, needs no refrigeration and is simple to transport – so making it part of your regular routine is a no-brainer. At this point you may be wondering, ‘Why Whey?’ Well, Science in Sport use it because whey protein has one of the fastest-known digestion rates, meaning it’ll start repairing your body quicker and with minimum fuss, leaving you to focus on the important business of smashing out tomorrow’s session with supreme confidence. You’ve trained for this day, so fuel up properly by working out your food and hydration needs in advance for before, during and after the event. What are you going to take? How much are you going to need? Be sure to take on protein 30-60 minutes after the race ends to start your recovery, so you’re ready for the next challenge. RUN YOUR RACE PACK A PUNCH Available in Mango Passion Fruit, Chocolate Orange, Caramel, Lemon and Strawberry lavour. Each gel contains 20g of quality protein, 6g of BCAAs (essential for the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass) and just 1.8g of carbs, 0.1g of fat and 88 calories. GIVE YOUR BODY THE FUEL IT DESERVES, CHECK OUT SCIENCEINSPORT.COM See those runners a few hundred metres in front, runners you can deinitely overtake? Ignore them. It’s good to be competitive, but do it with yourself, not others. So stick to your plan, maintain your target speed and inish with a huge grin on your face. FUEL WO R D S : A N I TA B E A N . P H OTO G R A P H : A D R I A N L AW R E N C E NUTRITION per serving 556kcal, 31g protein, 29g fat (10g saturates), 41g carbs (8g sugars), 4g fibre HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT Get yourself into the recovery position with these delicious fishcakes These fishcakes are a great source of carbs, protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3s, which makes them the perfect recovery food after a hard run. They contain sweet potatoes, which have more beta-carotene and vitamin E than ordinary spuds. Save time by baking the potatoes in advance. SWEET POTATOES HAVE MORE BETACAROTENE AND VITAMIN E THAN ORDINARY SPUDS Serves 4 (makes 8 fishcakes) sweet potatoes salmon illets, skinned butter milk fresh parsley, chopped Grated zest of 1 lemon Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season egg, beaten (approx.) plain lour dried breadcrumbs rapeseed or light olive oil for frying rocket and watercress salad 1 Bake potatoes at 200C/ 180C fan/gas mark 6 for about 45 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool. Alternatively, peel, cut into large cubes and boil for 10 minutes until soft. 2 Meanwhile, poach fish for 10 minutes in enough water to just cover. Drain and flake, checking for any remaining bones. 3 Cut the baked sweet potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh (or, if boiling, drain) and mash with the butter, milk, parsley, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Mix in flaked fish. 4 In three separate shallow bowls, place the beaten egg, flour and dried breadcrumbs. With floured hands, shape mix into eight round cakes. Coat each cake with the flour, egg, then the dried breadcrumbs and, ideally, leave in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up. 5 Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry fishcakes for 4-5 minutes each side, or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately. Alternatively, bake them in the oven: lightly brush with a little olive oil, place on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 075 STRONG-ARM TACTICS LET’S FACE IT: runners aren’t known for their arms. That’s not a dig – it’s just that it’s easy to neglect your top half when it seems like your legs do all the work. But failing to train your upper body can hold you back on the run. ‘Have you ever tried to run without using your arms? It’s weird, ineicient and hard as hell,’ says exercise physiologist Pamela Geisel. ‘Arm drive is a big part of running – when your legs get tired, you use your arms more because of the kinetic chain; you can’t have one without the other.’ 076 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 That means your strength training has to include more than just dead lifts and squats. Building a strong upper body will help you maintain good form as the miles tick by, and that stable, upright posture can increase your endurance by improving your lung capacity, explains Geisel. ‘Improved upperbody strength also reduces oxygen requirement, meaning you’ll run faster while using the same amount of energy.’ In other words, you slice seconds of your splits. And a faster pace is not the only reason to strengthen from the waist up. ‘Just pumping your arms back and forth only builds muscle endurance, but you need to also build muscular strength to create bone density and prevent injury,’ says personal trainer Nick Pags. Why? Remember, our nerves, bones and joints are interconnected. ‘The gold standard for runners is 165-180 strides per minute – if every one of those strides is bad, that’s thousands of strides per run that you’re doing poorly, often leading to injuries such as tendinopathy and stress fractures,’ says Geisel. ‘It all goes back to poor mechanics, and that results from not strengthtraining your entire body.’ WO R D S : S A M A N T H A L E FAV E . P H OTO G R A P H : C H R I S TA A N F E L B E R To become a better runner you need a strong upper body. It’s time to reach for the heavy stuff BODY+MIND The solution, however, isn’t picking up weights at the light end of the rack. ‘If you want to prevent injury, improve your speed and last longer, you have to be willing to lift heavier things,’ says Pags. Lifting light weights for a high number of reps isn’t bad; it just achieves the same goal as running – building endurance, not strength. ‘The goal is to stress the muscle to the point that the tissue is breaking down, creating micro-tears. When the muscle rebuilds, it is stronger and leaner, which doesn’t necessarily happen with endurance training,’ says Pags. ‘IF YOU WANT TO PREVENT INJURY AND IMPROVE YOUR SPEED, YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO LIFT HEAVIER THINGS’ That’s why he recommends lifting heavy weights and using exercises that speciically target your arms, lats (the wide, lat muscles that run from the lower back to the upper arm) and core two or three times per week. We’re not talking bodybuilding stuf here, but a focus on building strength in the muscles that help propel you forward. If that dedicated strength work sounds like a chore, Geisel says it’s OK to break it into 10-minute increments. ‘Runners often don’t strength-train, because they think there’s no time, but a strength session doesn’t have to last for 60 minutes for it to be efective,’ she explains. ‘Taking 10 minutes of the duration of your run and doing a quick strength set provides more beneits than 10 more minutes on the road.’ If your goal is to get a PB, save the hardcore lifting for your crosstraining days so you can focus on getting in a quality, high-intensity run, says Geisel. (And skip heavy lifting altogether two weeks prior to race day, so you don’t wear yourself out or pick up an injury.) Otherwise, schedule a short circuit of prerun strength exercises: a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that doing so can make you more likely to do extra reps and help you maintain proper form throughout. And if walking into a weights room makes you want to gouge out your eyes, Geisel says you shouldn’t worry. Your body weight can be more than enough, especially if you’re new to strength training. Think about how much you weigh – being able to move that much weight through exercises such as press-ups means you’re lifting far more than 5kg dumbbells. ‘I think it’s the most beneicial to runners, too, because your body is what you’re moving in space,’ she says. Whatever you do, be sure to warm up with foundational exercises such as hip bridges, planks and side planks. Geisel recommends performing each for one minute (switch after 30 seconds on the side plank), then move into upper-body work. ‘They’re activation patterns that ire your glutes, core and hips, all of which you want to wake up before you lift heavy, so you can do so safely,’ she says. The extra efort – and weight – will all be worth it for faster, easier runs. HOW HE AV Y IS HE AV Y? Now that you know why you need to increase the weight you have to lift, how far can you go and still stay safe? Here’s how to work out what ‘heavy’ means for you Focus on form No matter how much you’re lifting, if your form is poor, then you won’t see the beneits and you risk injury, says Pags. Ask a trainer how to correctly perform rows, chest presses, triceps kickbacks and curl variations, he suggests. Then set up in front of a mirror to keep an eye on technique. Fatigue the muscle To reap heavy-lifter rewards, Geisel says you need to exhaust the muscle 100 per cent, meaning that you can’t do another rep at that weight. If you’re new to strength-training, practise your form with a lighter weight, then start with 5kg to 10kg for eight to 12 reps until you have nothing left to give. Once your form is solid, go for fewer reps (ive to eight) and more weight (10-20kg). Go for broke If you reach 10 reps and aren’t feeling the burn, increase your load by 5kg to 10kg, says Geisel. And be honest with yourself. Are you calling it quits because you can’t physically do another rep, or because you’ve mentally checked out? Pushing your limits (safely) is how you’ll create real change. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 077 LAST CHANCE TO ENTER RUNNER’S WORLD RUNSTOCK! ENTER FROM £60 * How far will you go? Pick up a lap band for every 5K you complete! Runner’s World Runstock is a family-friendly running festival suitable for runners of all ages and abilities, from fun runner to ultrarunner, and produced by Rat Race Adventure Sports. Runstock features a 5K lapped offroad course and a glorious summerfestival feel within the stunning grounds of Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Run solo, with a team or even the whole family and see how many lap bands you can collect in eight hours. JUNE 9, 2018 •FESTIVAL WEEKEND •UNLIMITED 5K LAPS •BESPOKE 50KM MEDAL** •7 FUN-FILLED OBSTACLE ZONES •CAMPING AVAILABLE •WEEKEND KIDS’ ACTIVITIES •POSTRACE PARTY/LIVE MUSIC •LIVE ENTERTAINMENT ENTER AT RUNSTOCK.CO.UK * BA S ED O N A T EA M O F 1 0 * * W I TH U LT RA-ATT EMP T UP GR A D E RW / / EVENT GEAR GIVE YOURSELF the EDGE 1 3 4 SWEAT AND WILD Summer tops that offer a blend of fashion and function 5 2 Women 1. Columbia Titan Ultra 2. Saucony Freedom Tank 3. Asics FuseX V-Neck From £25, columbiasportswear.co.uk £35, saucony.com £30, asics.co.uk This lightweight vest is a great option for races and speed sessions – the anatomical cut means it’s not too tight and will move nicely with your body. It features a scoop neck, racerback (put on sun cream unless you want a diamond-shaped tan mark) and an extended lower hem for extra coverage. This is an excellent training top that works well over a variety of distances and is ideal for cross-training, too, as it’s durable, soft and unfussy. It comes in several colours, but the white option is a little see-through, so wear a boldly coloured layer underneath or give it a miss if you’re on the shy side. This is packed with smart features: a dropped rear hem to cover your bum, fast-wicking polyester, an antimicrobial treatment to ward of odour and a series of small blue circles woven on the inside of the top that react with your sweat to generate a cooling sensation. 080 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 4. Tribesports Engineered ShortSleeve Tee 5. Ashmei :RPHQ·V7HH £35, tribesports.com No, we haven’t lost our minds; we know that £75 is very pricey for a T-shirt, but if you have the money to spend, you’ll ind the premium blend of merino and carbon results in a piece of kit that helps to regulate your temperature, wicks superbly, dries quickly and feels utterly dreamy against your skin. A itted T-shirt that is best suited to those who have an athletic physique. The ergonomic panels allow it to move in perfect sync with your body on the run. Minimal seams cut down on irritation, while mesh panels on the back and the chest ofer excellent breathability. £75, ashmei.com 6 9 8 7 6. Canterbury Racer Vest 7. On Tank Tee £19, canterbury.com About as loaty and lightweight a top as you’ll ind. Some sports tops get heavier as they absorb sweat, but there’s no risk of that here because the breathability of the stretchy fabric is excellent. The tee sits loosely on the hips, lares subtly at the bottom, has large arm holes and will keep you cool on the hottest summer runs. Rugby brand Canterbury has branched out into kit for running and other sports. This entry-level vest does everything that you would expect for the price: it’s a standard cut with medium-sized arm holes; and wicking and breathability are reasonable. The latlock seams are a bonus. £60, on-running.com 10 8. 2XU Ghst SS Top 9. Crewroom Essence Tee 10. Adidas Ultra Primeknit Parley Tank £40, 2xu.com £34, crewroom.com If you’re going to a hot country for your summer holiday, bung this top into your suitcase. Not only does it weigh a mere 96g – so it won’t put you over your allowance – but also the weave contains xylitol, which produces a cooling sensation when in contact with moisture and also acts as a UV relector. A decent mid-range top that will serve you just as well out on the roads as it will in a gym class or yoga studio. Its wide neckline and loose it around the hips mean it’s suitable for a variety of body shapes, and the supersoft weave is stretchy and also wicks away sweat with ease. £60, adidas.com/uk This top keeps you cool, dry and comfy, and you’ll be doing some good for the environment: as with all products in the Parley range, some of the yarn is made from recycled plastic waste that’s been taken from beaches and coastal areas before it gets to the ocean. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 081 1 5 3 4 2 Men 1. Under Armour Swyft Hoodie 2. Patagonia Windchaser Shirt £60, underamour.co.uk £55, patagonia.eu This loose-itting top will suit most shapes, although dedicated club runners might ind it a tad heavier than is comfortable. As part of UA’s HeatGear range, it does a good job of wicking sweat away and the huge ventilation strips also work well. The hood will keep the sun at bay and could prove handy in a summer shower. This is a super-light polyester top that does everything you would want from a warmweather T-shirt, but the bigger story here is an ethical one: it’s part of Patagonia’s Fair Trade Certiied sewing programme, so the factory workers share in the proits from sales. 082 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 3. Sundried Les Diablons Muscle Tank 4. Adidas Freelift Climachill Tee 5. Dhb Run Singlet £40, adidas.com/uk £30, sundried.com A mass-appeal tee of the type that Adidas is so good at: boxy cut for all body types, a weave that wicks superbly and a durability that means it retains its shape wash after wash. There are also small aluminium-silver dots on the inside back that conduct heat away from the body. If you saw this without the Dhb logo you’d never guess it was an entry-level vest. It looks and feels like a pricier top: ergonomic cut, latlock seams for minimal chaing, arm holes that aren’t too cavernous and lappy, and even the presence of anti-odour treatment Polygiene in the weave, so you won’t have to bin it after a few races. The name of this top is a little misleading: it is just as good for race day as it is for treating everyone to a gun show in the gym. The polyester and polymide mix of the fabric makes it soft and stretchy – and durable enough to last you a couple of summers. £11.99, wiggle.co.uk GEAR 9 7 8 10 WO R D S : K E R R Y M CCA R T H Y. P H OTO G R A P H S : L U C K Y I F S H A R P 6 6. Castore Harrop Tee 7. Björn Borg Tee 8. 2XU Ghst Tee £25, bjornborg.com/uk £40, 2xu.com £95, castore.com This one comes with a bold claim from the company: ‘this T-shirt is one you’ll want to buy in bulk.’ Asking for trouble, you might think, but this is excellent value. It has few bells and whistles but it’s comfy, reliable, distinctive, hard-wearing and comes in a standard cut that’s accommodating without being shapeless. We like this top so much that it features in both the women’s and men’s line-ups in this review. Its primary function is to be comfortable and light enough to make you almost forget you’re wearing it, and it does a great job. For long training runs in the dog days of August, this should be a go-to piece of kit. A premium price, but if you have the money, this is a good investment. It features some of the best anti-odour technology we’ve come across and is cut from one piece of cloth to limit chaing. It may be a little heavy for some, but the weave helps to regulate temperature, so you’ll stay cool. 9. Falke Air Ventilation Tank Top 10. Soar Raglan T-Shirt £80, falke.com Raglan sleeves are always welcome in a running top – the greater freedom of movement they ofer means there’ll be no riding up or underarm chaing on long runs. It’s a semi-itted cut, so it sits quite close around the hips and stomach. There are relective logos on the front and back for running in the twilight. £69, soarrunning.com The clue is in the name here. It’s a close-itting top that is, in essence, just one big mesh panel. But it manages to be breathable, ventilated, wicking and fast-drying with no fuss. Think of this as the butler of your running wardrobe: classy, unobtrusive and eicient. JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 083 FOAM, A FRIEND Soft and bouncy midsoles are the hottest feature in shoes right now. Here’s what that means for your running 084 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 GEAR WO R D S : J O N AT H A N B E V E R LY. S H O E P H OTO G R A P H S : M I TC H M A N D E L & M AT T R A I N E Y; CO U R T E S Y O F AS I C S ( A S I C S M E TA R U N ) It’s a sleek little number with a simple knitted upper that sits on top of a single layer of extra-thick ‘React’ foam. In a trend sweeping the running-shoe industry, Nike is centering its attention and fanfare on the properties of this newfangled foam, rather than highlighting other parts of the shoe. ‘React is our most complete foam ever,’ says Ernest Kim, director of advanced footwear at Nike Running. ‘You not only get great energy return – 13 per cent greater than Lunarlon – but a much softer experience as well.’ For a runner who wants a shoe that feels springy and light, and can hold up through plenty of miles, Kim believes Nike nailed it with React. Sound familiar? No doubt. Last September, Brooks revealed its DNA AMP foam, also touting a blend of cushioning and energy return. In 2017, we saw Altra design its first shoes with the cleverly named Altra Ego foam, which – you guessed it – distinguishes itself by its soft step-in feel and bouncy ride. There’s also Under Armour’s new HOVR foam, Reebok Floatride Foam, Saucony Everun and New Balance Fresh Foam. It seems that every major shoe company now makes its own hero foam. But the question is: does it really make for a better run? How we got here To understand what made the world ready for bouncy-foam shoes, let’s rewind a few years. In 2009, Christopher McDougall wrote a book called Born to Run, which challenged what was historically accepted about running shoes – namely, that perhaps we didn’t need so much shoe – and some believe it launched the barefoot or minimalist movement. Propelled by plenty of new research touting the benefits of light, barefoot-like shoes, minimalism experienced a meteoric rise. But in 2012, a class-action lawsuit against Vibram FiveFingers for deceptive advertising was the loud thud that marked the end of the minimalist running movement. At that point, many runners sidelined with injuries found minimalist shoes to be untenable, and most of the running community quickly returned to shoes that offered more padding. But by that point, the world had changed. The research that led the minimalist movement, proving that shoes didn’t work to prevent injury as we had once believed, didn’t just disappear. Throwing out running shoes altogether wasn’t the answer, but neither was turning back to overbuilt, stiff, heavy, controlling shoes. One researcher, Benno Nigg, professor emeritus of kinesiology and director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary, Canada, suggested that your body knows best. His studies revealed that running shoes chosen simply by which felt the most comfortable were also the most efficient and best at reducing injury. Common runner knowledge shifted and comfort usurped control as the basis for shoe selection. With running-shoe companies no longer able to successfully market their multi-density ADIDAS BOOST: ENERGY BOOST, 2013 soles with plastic posts, shanks and trusses, the properties of the foam itself rose in importance – and runners were ready to pay attention. The energy surge Enter the Adidas Boost. You can trace the running industry’s foam obsession back to a compound in this shoe, introduced in 2013. While running shoes have used foam for cushioning since Forrest Gump’s 1972 Nike Cortez, Adidas’s Boost foam promised something new: energy return. The term, while great for marketing, can be a bit deceptive. Let’s be clear, no shoe will defy the second law of thermodynamics and actually create energy that will do the running for you. The energy for your stride comes from you pushing against the ground. ‘When you put something soft underfoot, it’s robbing energy,’ says Golden Harper, founder of Altra. ‘The best foam in the world will never return energy.’ Martyn Shorten, a biomechanics expert and director of the RW Shoe Lab, can quantify that energy loss. Most shoes with traditional foam (called EVA) tend to dissipate 40-60 per cent of the force needed to compress them. The best new foams lose only HOKA RMAT: CONQUEST, 2014 NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM: FRESH FOAM 980 V1, 2014 PUMA IGNITE: IGNITE, 2015 ASICS FLYTEFOAM: METARUN, 2015 SAUCONY EVERUN: TRIUMPH ISO 2, 2016 JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 085 SIGN UP FOR THE SPITFIRE London: Saturday 1 September, 9.00am Cosford: Sunday 2 September, 10.00am Standard Entry: £22.50 Discounted Entry: £20.50* (*Members of UK Athletics afﬁliated clubs and Armed Forces Personnel) For more information about the race, how to enter the Spitfire 10K and the new Spitfire Family Run please visit our website www.rafmuseum.org All runners must be 15 years and older – under 16s to be accompanied by an adult. Held under UK Athletic Rules. UKA Licence applied for. RAF Museum (Charity No. 244708) RAF 100 Appeal (Charity No. 1167398) Align. Strengthen. Restore. SPREAD YOUR TOES Anatomical toe spacers, designed by a sports podiatrist, to be worn while running. Footwear must be widest at the ends of the toes. Learn more at CorrectToes.com UK stockist since 2011 EmperorsNewShoes.co.uk GEAR REEBOK FLOATRIDE FOAM: FLOATRIDE RUN, 2017 ALTRA EGO: ESCALANTE, 2017 around 30 per cent of the energy. Though ‘energyreturn foam’ is a bit of a misnomer, we admit it is sexier than ‘less-energylost foam’, so we’ll stick with it. And, while not as amazing as gaining energy, losing less energy is a good thing. And consumers agreed. Sales of Boost shoes fuelled double-digit growth in running revenue for Adidas in the ensuing years, and the Boost foam rejuvenated the once-slumping brand among retailers and runners – so much so that Adidas has struggled to keep up with demand. Hooked on a feeling BROOKS DNA AMP: LEVITATE, 2017 UNDER ARMOUR HOVR: NIKE REACT: EPIC REACT FLYKNIT, 2018 To foam or not to foam? As magical as new foams may feel, they aren’t for everyone. ‘Shoes are so personal,’ says Harper. ‘There will be people who put on an Ego shoe, and it doesn’t connect with their stride, doesn’t feel good underfoot.’ This has always been the case with shoes, but new foams can be even more finicky because of the timing of the bounce-back. ‘The response is focused to a narrower range of runners,’ says Shorten. Which is why there will never be a holy grail of foam for all. ‘In the past, we searched for the one perfect shoe,’ says Kim. ‘What we’re realising now is that doesn’t exist. There are distinct populations in the huge world of runners. The idea that you can make one shoe that can work for all the runners in the world seems just a little bit crazy.‘ Instead of making one ideal, brands are finetuning foams to maximise different experiences and letting runners decide what they like best. The feel of each foam differs depending on each runner’s unique weight, stride, speed and mileage, which also means you might prefer a different foam on different days. Kim says Eliud Kipchoge – he of the 2:00:25 marathon – likes the new Epic React, but only for easy runs. You may find one foam feels best for your fast days but that you prefer another foam for going long. What’s next? Where will the shoe industry go from here? The experts we consulted agree that the focus on foam will continue and even more advances are just around the corner. That’s all good news for runners, too, because as foam continues to dominate and brands create increasingly refined rides to match every possible taste, the chances that you’ll find your perfect road partner get better and better. ▲ S H O E P H OTO G R A P H : C O U R T E S Y A D I DA S ( A D I DA S + K A N Y E W E S T Y E E Z Y B O O S T 3 5 0 V 2 ) SONIC, 2018 Put aside physics and what the new foams can’t do, and what really matters is how the material interacts with your stride. New foams deliver two properties that had been mutually exclusive: cushioning and responsiveness. Before Boost, shoes felt soft or fast, but never both. Energy-return foams accomplish both with a well-timed reaction. The cushioning dissipates excess forces, but unlike old marshmallowy foams, energy-return soles then firm up underfoot, which allows you to push off powerfully. ‘It’s not about absorbing energy,’ says Spencer White, vice president of Saucony’s Human Performance & Innovation Lab. ‘We want to take that force you create in landing and help you generate force so you can move.’ It’s the difference between bouncing on a soft pillow and on a trampoline. In the end, as Nigg’s research shows, it comes down to what you feel. And what you feel is probably something new and amazing. ‘[Foam] feels soft and comfy when standing, and firmer and faster when moving quickly,’ says Harper. Perhaps more revealing than the physical feel is the emotional response. ‘We’ve heard a lot of “It makes running feel fun!”’ says Kim. ‘It’s not something we usually hear.’ W H E R E F O A M M E E T S F A S H I O N While new foams may have emerged primarily for function, the shoes that feature them have slid smoothly into streetwear. The versatile comfort of foam midsoles makes them suitable for all-day wear, and without visually screaming, ‘I’m a runner!’ Plus, brands are increasingly topping foam midsoles with simpler, knit uppers that look and feel as much like clothing as they do footwear. The result: shoes that look as appropriate when you’re running errands as they do when you’re putting in the miles. It’s a win-win-win blend of comfort, function and style. Adidas + Kanye West Yeezy Boost 350 V2 JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 87 RACE A WALES OF A TIME RW’s Adrian Monti finds the Swansea Half Marathon is really a race of two halves TO BE HONEST, I’m not a fan of most out-and-back courses. Running to a set marker before heading back the same way leaves my running mojo deep in sleep mode. I’ve run enough of them on dull streets, in uninspiring locations, to know that if it’s ‘meh’ on the way out, it’s going to be ‘double meh’ on the return. So when I was asked to race and review the Swansea Half Marathon, my expectations dipped somewhat once I saw the course map. But at the same time I was intrigued to find out why this race has become so popular in such a short time. With a field of 6,000 (up from 2,000 when it began in 2014), it’s now second only in size to Cardiff in the Welsh half-marathon pecking order. I soon discovered the excellent reasons why. 088 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 LET YOUR RUNNING LOOSE We began in the hub of Swansea, close to its ancient castle ruins and the modern high street. On cue, moments before the off, the steady drizzle that threatened to dampen proceedings ceased and sunshine took over. As a first-time visitor to Swansea, I was happy to circle and see the city before heading out along the main coast road. As well as noting the civic buildings, the university and the superb national swimming centre, the towering floodlights of St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground caught my eye, at mile two. Being something of a sportingtrivia anorak, I knew this was where West Indian great Gary Sobers made history in 1968 when he smashed six sixes off a single over in a cricket match. P H OTO G R A P H S : R U P E R T F OW L E R SWANSEA HALF MARATHON Most of the course was as flat as the wicket Sobers batted on that day. Only as we neared Mumbles, the pretty fishing village on the western fringes of Swansea Bay, was there the hint of a climb. With the sea to the left and inviting cafes, pubs and shops to the right, this area is easy on the eye and the legs. No wonder it was a favourite haunt of one of Swansea’s favourite sons, the poet Dylan Thomas. There was the promise of more stunning beaches beyond, where the coast curved away towards the Gower Peninsular. But as we reached the ice cream parlour on the prom, it was time to turn. And this is where I was pleasantly surprised. I was running along a cycle path only a few feet from the natural sweep of sandy Swansea Bay. This smooth path cut through two miles of delightfully lush, green parkland space. Through the trees I could glimpse some of my fellow runners heading in the opposite direction SWANSEA, UK THE RUNDOWN Swansea Half Marathon (2017 results) First man: Dewi Griffiths, 1:04:48 First woman: Claire Gibbons-McCarthy, 1:14:35 No. of finishers: 4,867 Last finisher 4:09:49 Finishing stats ● 1:00-1:30: 4% ● 1:30-2:00: 40% ● 2:00-2:30: 38% ● 2:30-3:00: 15% ● 3:00-4:15: 3% before turning, but I still felt I was in a totally different race to the first half. Even though I was going back on myself, I had no sense that I was retracing my steps. Simply by swapping the road for the trees and street signs for the seashore, it felt like a new racing experience rather than a repeat journey. My visual guide on the horizon was the Meridian Tower, the shiny, modern, 29-storey residential high-rise with a restaurant at its pinnacle. It’s the tallest building in Wales and so, unsurprisingly, it dominated the skyline. With water stations manned by scores of well-drilled army cadets, enthusiastic crowds strung along the course and live music along the bay area, I could see why this race was such a winner. Little things impressed me, too; having runners’ names on their bib numbers meant we all received shout-outs along the way, while pacers at a selection of times ensured there was someone for runners of all levels to chase. As we returned to the city, we snaked through the Maritime Quarter and then SA1, the rejuvenated waterfront area that was once the city’s docks. And after our trainers had echoed across the sail-shaped Millennium Bridge, which spans the River Tawe, there was only a mile to go to the finish. There were no festivals, hog roasts, beer tents or other add-ons currently popular at larger races, but there were plenty of volunteers going about their business with an air of unflappable efficiency, mingling with hundreds of runners who were happily donning lurid-pink finishers’ T-shirts and inspecting the contents of their generous goody bags. I tried hard to find fault, simply to confirm my pre-event prejudice, but RACE the only thing I could come up with was that my banana was too green. In truth, this race thoroughly deserves its reputation and in the years to come it will surely be luring even more runners across the Severn Bridge to join the plethora of Welsh club vests already among those in the know. The 2018 Swansea Half Marathon takes place on June 24. For more info, visit swanseahalfmarathon.co.uk Like this? Try... Three more Welsh wizards CHAPARRAL ABERSOCH HALF MARATHON WALES MARATHON ANGLESEY HALF MARATHON This popular resort in North Wales is the backdrop to a race that uses its sandy beach as a memorable home straight. The half, along with a 10K and triathlon sprint, make up a unique Triple Crown series of summer events. The half is the last of the three; the irst two take place in June. With climbs galore, this is not a race for runners who dislike our sport’s ups and downs. You’ll encounter the irst ierce hill soon after you leave the seaside town of Tenby. Then it’s on to historic Pembroke before you loop back to the town where you began. It’s a toughie, but the scenery is a joy. After crossing the magniicent Menai Suspension Bridge, a glorious run along the island’s coastline leads you to Beaumaris Castle before you return the way you came on a course that somehow manages to be both undulating and fast. Try not to be distracted by the views. North Wales, September 22, abersochtriplecrown.com South Wales, July 15, thewalesmarathon.com North Wales, March 3, 2019, alwaysaimhighevents.com JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 089 RACE RECCE STRATHEARN MARATHON Race director Cathy Tilbrook guides you along this road marathon through rural Perthshire ‘The race, which was irst staged in 2012, is organised by Strathearn Harriers club,’ says Tilbrook. ‘It’s got some nice quirky touches that make it a bit diferent. For instance, runners can request the Comrie Pipe Band that are here on the day to play their favourite tune on parts of the course. It’s a hilly route through farmland and past a few villages and settlements. But despite about 450m of climb (mostly in the irst 13 miles), some runners do achieve their Good for Age London Marathon qualifying time here. The feedback we get always includes comments on the beautiful views on the route and how friendly the event feels.’ START You begin at Cultybraggan Camp, where German POWs were kept during the Second World War. As the pipe band sends you on your way, you pass some of the Nissen huts used to house the POWs. MILE 2 MILE 4 Here you climb out of Glen Artney, a beautiful valley that was namechecked in the famous Sir Walter Scott narrative poem The Lady of the Lake, published in 1810. Enjoy the stirring views across the rolling landscape of heather moorland and keep an eye out for wildlife such as red kites (pictured below) and buzzards. COMRIE CRIEFF River Earn 22 25 24 23 19 20 21 Strowan Road 26 AUCHINGARRICH START FINISH W I L D L I F E C E N T R E 18 17 01 02 16 D R U M M O N D CASTLE 03 CULLOCH 04 15 *The 2018 race is on June 10. Visit strathearnharriers.org.uk 05 MILE 10 MUTHILL 14 06 13 Here you will pass the site of Ardoch Fort, regarded as one of the most complete Roman strongholds in Britain before it was abandoned in the second century AD. 07 B827 12 08 09 11 FEET BRACO FINISH 800 600 400 200 0 5 10 15 MILES MILE 15 MILE 18 Another ascent leads you round the back of the Drummond Castle estate. This location was featured in the 1995 ilm Rob Roy, which starred Liam Neeson as the Scottish outlaw and folk hero. Here you run alongside the River Earn and skirt the edges of the town of Crief, home of Caithness Glass, where the trophy given to the winner of Mastermind was designed in 1972 by Denis Mann. 090 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 The red squirrel is common in this part of Scotland; hence the medal design. 20 25 You now drop back into Cultybraggan and inish your race to the sound of bagpipes. Then you tuck into a muchdeserved feast that’s largely made from crops grown on the allotments at the camp. WO R D S : A D R I A N M O N T I . P H OTO G R A P H S : G O R D O N D O N N AC H I E ( R AC E I M AG E ) , G E T T Y 10 RACE MY FAVOURITE FIVE LONG HAUL/SHORT HAUL The races that really get you going NIGHT AND DAY HARMANDER SINGH Age: 58 Job: Social Policy Analyst Years running: 40 GREAT NORTH RUN My uncle got me to step up from 10K and I did this as my first half marathon in 1985. This year will be my 34th. September 9, greatrun.com TORONTO WATERFRONT MARATHON I did my 100th marathon there and have now done it 15 times. October 21, torontowaterfront marathon.com LUXEMBOURG NIGHT MARATHON Look further aield for your race ix Tromsø Midnight Sun Marathon Kaunas Half Marathon NORWAY, JUNE 16 This is an event where the lines between night and day are blurred. In northern Norway, the sun does not set between May and July, so while the clock may say that it’s the witching hour, you’ll be running in broad daylight. Good thing, too, as Tromsø is a stunning location. So take your place alongside 8,000 other runners to gawp in wonder at the mountains, fjords and islands you’ll pass along the way. Flights from…14 UK airports via numerous airlines. One stop and prices from £140 return. While you’re there…Visit the Polaria Arctic Aquarium (polaria.no). The building resembles a series of ice floes set at alarming angles. A good example of the type of thing you typically get at Baltic races: huge crowd enthusiasm; a flat course (just 14m of elevation); some old-school architecture to enjoy – including, in this case, Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Soviet – and an endearingly chaotic but eagerto-please vibe at the race village. There are also marathon, 10K, 5K and 1.5km fun run options. Flights from…London, Edinburgh and Bristol direct to Kaunas from £40 return. While you’re there…Scare yourself into being better behaved with a trip to the Devil’s Museum. It contains over 2,000 depictions of Satan in paintings, carvings, sculptures and, er, soft toys. msm.no kaunasmarathon.lt LITHUANIA, JUNE 10 SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Running at night in Tromsø and (inset) during the day in Kaunas WO R D S : K E R R Y M C CA R T H Y. P H OTO G R A P H S : TO N E M E T T E Y T T E R G A R D/ M S M ( T R O M S Ø) I love the experience of starting a race in the evening and the Samba bands are fantastic. May 12, ing-nightmarathon.lu/en SIKHS IN THE CITY DAWN TO DUSK SUNLIGHT ULTRA A 2km multi-lap event in London, with onion bhajis as you go. December 19, sikhsinthecity.org HONG KONG MARATHON There are plenty of amazing sights, such as the Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower. February 17, 2019, hkmarathon.com JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 091 START LIST RACE THE START LIST Our selection of the best, fastest, toughest, quirkiest and most enjoyable UK races this month Summer Welly 10K A new event hoping to match the success of its winter forerunner, which also takes participants through the picturesque grounds of Wellington College. If you’re feeling speedy on the day, it might be because the aura of alumnus and 1976 F1 champion James Hunt is hanging about the place. Berkshire, June 2, muddywelly.com FESTIVAL OF FILTH Mud Monsters Run The organisers of this East Grinstead event have done a terrific job of summing it up: ‘This obstacle run takes you across muddy fields, up steep hills, through woods, fighting your way through deep muddy bogs, with 130+ obstacles along the way.’ Choose from 5K, 10K or 20km – and it might be an idea to avoid public transport on the way home. P H OTO G R A P H S : S T E P H E N H A N C O C K ( WO O L AC O M B E ) . * BA S E D O N A N R W O N L I N E P O L L O F 3 9 9 VOT E S West Sussex, June 3, mudmonstersrun.co.uk RW POLL Would a midrace injury make you drop out?* 1% 13% ULTRA GORGEOUS Defo. I hate pain. Yes, if I thought carrying on would make it worse. 58% Race to the Tower A double marathon through the finest scenery the Cotswolds can muster. You’ll travel north from Stroud, in Gloucestershire, passing charming villages, medieval burial grounds and historic landmarks along the way, before crossing the county border to Worcestershire, finishing at Broadway Tower. You can run it or walk it, complete it over two days or in one epic effort. Brought to you by the organisers of the popular Race to the Stones ultra, it’s impeccably signposted and picturesque throughout. Gloucestershire, June 9-10, racetothetower.com Only if I physically couldn’t run. 28% Never! I am the William Wallace of running. WET WET WET Beat the Tide One of the Stroke Association’s stable of fundraising events, this is a gorgeous 10K through the seaside resort of Hunstanton in Norfolk. The route – which is as flat as a Dutch motorway – takes you right along the beach towards Heacham, then heads back again before the tide comes in. At least, that’s the plan… Prepare to get very sandy feet. June 24, Norfolk, stroke.org.uk Yeovil Marathon Stick on your finest retro running gear and get ready to pound unsteadily along the golden sands and over the dunes of this gorgeous stretch of coastline. You might want to do some ankle-strengthening exercises in preparation for this one. That tune in your head is from Chariots of Fire, but please, no running in slow motion… This is a great event, with a boutiquesized field (just over 200 finished last year) and a military flavour. The lumpy route takes in the picturesque country villages surrounding Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton. Support is thin on the ground on this two-lap course of quiet country lanes, but many of the views are stunning. The race proceeds go to the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, St Margaret’s Hospice and the Yeovilton Military Wives Choir, who will be bellowing out the tunes at the finishing line. Devon, June 10, woolacombebeachrun.co.uk Somerset, June 10, yeovilmarathon.com SAND AND DELIVER Woolacombe Beach Run 10K London Cardiff 24 Team Relay Teams of eight to 12 runners have up to 33 hours (but can you do in 24?) to complete a 24-stage, 160-mile route from Twickenham to the centre of Cardiff. So, who’s doing the muchloved 3am stint? Someone has to… June 1-2, Middlesex, wolfpackrunning.com Southend Half Marathon Squeeze the last pips out of your spring training and see how fast you can do this flyer along the Essex seafront, which attracted almost 2,000 runners last year. It’s quick, the air is bracing and the views over the Thames Estuary are splendid. Essex, June 10, havenshospices.org.uk JUNE 2018 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK 093 START LIST HILLS AND SPILLS Endurancelife Classic Quarter Endurancelife has become renowned for its scenic coastal courses – and this one is the jewel in the crown. You make your way from Lizard Point to Land’s End (the most southerly and westerly parts of England), so you’ll be running 90 degrees of the compass. The 44.5-mile route is incredibly varied and tough: as the organisers say, it’s ‘the ultimate trail-runner’s rush, all just a stone’s throw away from the potentially pounding Atlantic swells’. WE ASKED READERS: WHAT’S YOUR MOST DRAMATIC RACE STORY ‘I had a heart attack at mile 10 of the Richmond Half. There was no-one to help me, so I walked the inal three miles, inished in 2:22 and got my medal. Then I went to hospital for a week, had three stents put in and couldn’t run for several months.’ – Rikus Maximus Cornwall, June 9, endurancelife.com ‘I broke my femur at a 10K race, about two miles from the end. Managed to run it all and inished among the irst 15.’ – Joana Marini ‘Tore my plantar fascia at mile seven of a half. Hobbled the inal six miles and inished in 3:25; even the inish-line photo guys had gone home!’ – Michelle Lewandowski Derby Half Marathon This beaut of a race takes runners on a flat, fast route through Derby city centre before winding through the extremely scenic Elvaston Country Park and back again. Football fans will be delighted to know that the start and finish are both at Pride Park Stadium, home of the mighty Derby County. FAMILY FUN Runstock This one is staged by your favourite running magazine, in collaboration with Rat Race. The running bit is a 5K obstacle-filled route round the grounds of Boughton House, near Kettering, which you can repeat as many times as you like within eight hours. Elsewhere there’s a camping village, full-on festival, kids’ activities, beer tent, live music and postrace party. It’s a family-friendly event and a celebration of all things running. Northamptonshire, June 9, ratrace.com SPEED DEMON Gosport Golden Mile ‘My friend farted and “followed through” ive minutes before the start of a marathon. He didn’t have a change of shorts so ran regardless – the mess had turned to a sort of dust by the end.’ – Ryan Donaldson Last year, 600 budding speedsters forked out £10 to belt along this promenade in South Hampshire. There are senior and junior versions of the event, so drag your kids away from their computer games and get them in on the fun, too. Hampshire, June 17, nice-work.org.uk Ranelagh Harriers Richmond 10K Derbyshire, June 3, runforall.com A RACE ON THE UP AND UP Glencoe Trail Running Challenge If you’re familiar with gentle Sundaynight BBC drama Monarch of the Glen, you’ll have a fair idea of what this lovely event offers. It’s set in the Glencoe Mountain Centre and you can choose the 10K, ‘half’ (15 miles), ‘marathon’ (27 miles) or an ultra (distance yet to be determined). Take advantage of the fierce climbs and majestic scenery, and treat this one as more of a leisurely amble than a race; it’s well worth it. Argyll & Bute, June 16, trailevents.co 094 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 RW ONLINE RACE LISTINGS Thirsty for more? Simply go to runnersworld. co.uk/events, the UK’s most comprehensive race database, where you can search over 4,500 races by location, terrain, distance and more. FOUR-DAY BENDER Tour of Tameside What’s better than one race in one day? Answer: four races in four days. Each event in the Tour of Tameside has its own personality. There’s a 10K trail race, a six-mile fell event, a half marathon and, finally, a flat seven-mile road race to test how much speed you have left in your legs. (Clue: not a lot, probably.) You can sign up for individual events or, if you’re feeling brave/bullish, do the whole thing. Greater Manchester, June 14-17, sportstoursinternational.co.uk A chance for London-based runners to bag a 10K PB. This incorporates the Surrey 10K Championships, which is testament to how flat and fast the course is. But it also attracts loads of recreational runners, who come to enjoy the views as they run along the Thames towpath. Surrey, June 17, primoevents.com Welsh 1,000m Peaks Race One for veteran fell runners. A 30km mountain race, it starts at sea level, finishes on top of Snowdon and takes in the five peaks in Snowdonia that exceed one vertical kilometre. Oh, you’re busy that day, too? 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Discount code cannot be combined with any other offers. To place an order by cheque, make cheque payable to FutureYou and send details of your order and the cheque to FutureYou, Ravenscroft House, 59-61 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AB. I’M A RUNNER JOEL DOMMETT THE COMIC AND REALITY-TV STAR ON MIDRUN CRYING AND KEEPING UP WITH JESUS ‘There’s nothing like that postlong-run hunger – it’s much more intense than anything else’ I RUN THREE MILES EVERY DAY during the week (it’s a mile and a half to the gym) and then do a long run every weekend. I recently went to Japan, Peru, Tahiti and India for my TV series and I loved training while I was out there because I got to go out and see all these incredible places. Running is the best way to see a city. MY TOUGHEST RACE was an ultra I did in Mexico a few years ago. It was 32 miles of crazy hills and mountains. At 25 miles, I couldn’t stop crying. Running makes me emotional, anyway; I don’t know why. People in the village ofered us little bits of food to keep us going but I was being overtaken by these 60-year-old guys in jeans and Iron Maiden T-shirts; it was surreal. I crossed the line in 5:15 and just burst into tears again. I’d run the ﬁrst eight miles in sandals because I tried to run it authentically, like the local tribes do, but my ankles and toes were bleeding, so I had to put on trainers. I wore their natural dress too, which was actually really handy, as it was a loose-ﬁtting red top and white skirt, so it was chafe-free. SPORTS-WISE , running is the only thing I’ve ever been half-decent at. I’ve got pretty good 5K and 10K times (18:30 and 39:30). Recently, I’ve been doing loads of parkruns, which I love so much. DECIDING NOT TO WEAR HEADPHONES and also to run alone changed everything for me. I write a list on my hand of ﬁve things I want to think about before I go running. I think up a lot of my stand-up 098 RUNNERSWORLD.CO.UK JUNE 2018 routines on a run, as there are no distractions. By the end of the session I feel that I have really cleared my head of all the clutter. I RAN THE LONDON MARATHON this year. It’s always felt like the ultimate run to me, ever since I bought a London Marathon medal at a car boot sale as a kid. I had it on my bedside table for years and always said one day I’d run London, so this year felt like a coming of age. Follow Joel on social media: @joeldommett on both Twitter and Instagram I PLAN MY RUNNING OUTFIT carefully, based on what the weather’s going to be like – there’s nothing worse than getting cold extremities on a run. And I’ve just started running in the New Balance 1080v8, which I love. They’re so comfortable. THERE ARE SEVERAL PEOPLE I’d really love to run with, but I reckon Jesus would be the best, as he’d have some great stories for a long run and when you got thirsty he could turn your water into wine. He looks pretty lean, too, so I think he’d be a good pace-setter. I N T E R V I E W: M I C H A E L J E N N I N G S . P H OTO G R A P H : I A N H A R R I S O N THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE that post-long-run hunger – it’s so much more intense than anything else. A Sunday roast is usually my go-to. Mind you, a new poké [raw ﬁsh and salad] bowl place has opened where I live, so at the moment I’m just living on poké bowls and protein shakes, which I’m also addicted to.