Sotong, a running buddy has a moto: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger".  Recently I've heard a lot of other Singaporean buddies quote this saying.

Well here's a song for all you buddies, especially sotong and roentgen ---->.

Anyway, I never really understood it. After all if am injured, I am not going to run......unless I am trying to complete an event and then have to have someone tell me I am being really stupid to carry on for 90 more miles! I know of many who continue to run with injuries and seen some injuries go from bad to worst as those persons have continued in self denial that there is anything wrong. Then *bam*.....they can't run and the specialist has to say "sorry love - your run is over".
PicturePulling tyres in a 5K charity event
However due to a series of events that have happened over the last couple of weeks, I thought I'd recapture what I have finally understood.

Last year my alter ego had to learn a tough third generation language to redeliver to a customer who demanded to have a female instructor. As it so happens, it appears that this language is dominated by male instructors. Being technically minded and having created many custom solutions in 4th generation languages the company continually requested me to learn and deliver. I finally agreed and learned what I could. Two weeks before leaving I developed a nagging cough but still went out running. By the time I was at the customer's venue, my nagging cough had developed into a horrible chest infection
causing me to pull muscles in the chest.

PicturePulling a sled to the North Pole
So here I was in a hotel, in pain and I wanted my mummy! :(

I had no choice, despite the cough and the pain, the company wanted me to deliver the course content. I reflected on the events I had completed so far and slapped myself. After all, I have beaten my body in a 5K with 5 tyres and in a 100 mile event that year. Also I was in a strange land and the only thing I would be able to do is to sit in a nice hotel feeling sorry for myself until the flight home.

I found this to be my toughest event! I didn't sleep for the whole week due to the pain and cough and I needed to continue learning/completing my own projects to ensure I was way ahead of a very intelligent class. By the end of the week I had delivered and was exhausted. It probably was the most torturous metaphorical "ultra marathon" I had completed.

I had forgotten all of this, until one particular company reminded me that pulling tyres in marathons and ultras has made me stronger. As a facilitator of soft skills, I will coach/mentor 10 students at a time. The day before the event, I arrived at the venue and found my student numbers had been doubled and there were issues with the hardware. Many would have walked out. I stayed for 8 hours into the night ironing out the hardware issues and decided to see if I could raise my game to cope with double the numbers. After all, what's the point of sitting in despair when one can chip away at a rock to make it crumble, to move it out of the way. A strategy was created and managed to gain a magic helper, to aid with various tasks I would normally have to do myself (thank you Marta).

I have learned life changes when we continue to challenge the way we are. And challenges that hurt and feel torturous move us forward. What doesn't kill you does makes your mind stronger to cope with the "stuff" life will throw at you.
PictureTess Burrows at the South Pole
Tess is a beautiful, spiritual person who had a 13 year mission to unite all corners of the world in peace. Thus she collected peace messages from everyone and anyone who dared to share even a fragment of this vision and took them to the highest points on six continent to speak out and deliver their message to the world.
- Magnetic North Pole
- South Pole (how do you get funds? - mortgage your house!!)
- Point furthest from the centre of the Earth
- Point nearest the sun at the turn of the millennium
- running up the tallest mountain......
...........go see her and she'll tell you (see below)

PicturePulling for Peace up Kilimanjaro
It was fantastic to join her on her "final" trip up Kilimanjaro (well nothing is ever final in a world that is connected by energy).

Her attitude and resilience to continue despite the odds is inspirational to all ages. On her time off, she writes books and provides motivational talks.

So she has been offered a venue to speak at a beautiful oldie-worldie13th century hotel called the Spread Eagle Hotel on Tuesday 2nd December.

Of course I am encouraging you to take a trip over and meet this woman 'cos not only is she amazing, she is my tyre dragging buddy and the only tyre-dragging gran that is crazy enough to say "yah" to the idea of pulling a tyre up Kilimanjaro.

So if you want some inspiration to get moving, feel some peace and to be entertained go see Tess on 2nd December 2014 at 18:30 to 21:30:

Location: Spread Eagle Hotel, South St., Midhurst, West Sussex, GU29 9NH
Cost: £15 to include buffet supper, tea/coffee (pay bar)
Raffle: FUNDRAISING for school children in Tibet and Africa
What to wear: A big smile
What to bring: A peaceful heart

To book a place: Call Spread Eagle reception 01730 816911 More info:  Call 01428 724060 or email Tess

NB: Spread Eagle Hotel will be offering special B&B rates for those attending the Peace Evening

For kids - Halloween is a celebration of sweets and chocolate
Sugar! It is in many foods that we consume in the hidden form of other sugars (fructose/lactose/high corn syrup/glucose and many more)

Some experts call it toxic and addictive
Pictureimage from
Sugar contributes to obesity ( and type II diabetes and we already eat far too much of it.

With all the supporting evidence of problems with high sugar consumption and that fact that we already have a high intake of sugar whether we realise it or not, why do parents encourage children to collect candy? Yes there is already an
insidious epidemic of high sugar consumption that is deadly and we continue a self denial that we are eating in moderation......then we wonder why someone who appeared to eat healthy/seemed healthy had a heart attack/stroke/cancer/etc.

I rant here, but if parents are encouraging kids to collect candy, we might as well throw in the cigarettes and hard core drugs..... None of it is responsible.

As for it just being about a party and a good time? The images I am being fed about Halloween is about creepiness, underlying evil and nastiness. I prefer celebrating something positive that encourages and inspires.

So I know its a rant but it's all about our societies needing to change.

I'd like to celebrate "Killing Halloween". Would anyone like to join me?

Thought this song would be appropriate as you view Fire's scrap page!
Type of Race/Course: Mostly flat leafy trail. There is one small undulation. Plenty of marshals + sign posts all the way.
Location: The town of Luck
CPs: Regular CPs @ every 3 miles.  Water, gatorade + snacks + fruit.
Weather: Started at 27 degs F (@-3 degs C) and rose to @50 degs F
Start Time: Full Marathoners = 08:00; TyreGirl start time = 06:39
Start: At the fire station
Finish: Luck main street
Post Runner Recovery: Medal, t-shirt + some other food....and then there is the bar after that I didn't make
Water + supplies carried: Ham bagel  + 3 bars
Total Time taken by TG: 07:21

Fire's Scrap Page
My Host Family
This is the awesome Pedersen Family. They looked after TG (I'll introduce her later) and me. TG says they make great Maple Syrup (High Point Maple Syrup) and as it fueled her run.

Paul challenged TG to complete the run in 06:45 and told her there were very few leaves on the trail.

Paraded as a Pledge Tyre
We had a party at Eric's place. TG ate "man sized" portions of spaghetti bolognese whilst I sat around looking pretty. TG found she only needed to eat cake on the morning of the run.

This is my puller TG.  After starting, TG left me on the trail to hunt for her water bottle. She told me she had left it at the registration area. I think the excitement of having a photo shoot with a bunch of fire men (my owners) went to her head!

TG left me 3 times on the trail. She said she had to do a couple of pit stops.

Paul's not much leaf trail! :p
Good thing they let us out before the main runners. I cleared the trail for runners the whole day.  TG says that she saw very little "runner's litter" on the course (a couple of cups and one gel pack and one shotz on the 1/2 marathon part of the course) and some runners kept their cups between aid stations.
The Last Mile
TG's friend's son who is 4 years old ran with her for the last mile. As we hit the road, in the final 400 metres, the tarmac tried to suck me in, but James' enthusiasm helped TG drag me over the finish line.
This is Eric (RD) who organised a great race. He lovingly painted me and has promised to look after me until TG returns to pull me for their 5th Anniversary.

Eric says Amy and the Luck Community School will look after me.

TG's Thank Yous xxx
- Lynn and Daryl (Arrowheaders) for joining me in this inaugural event.
- The marshals and runners who threw money into my box to donate to Luck's Fire Department
- Ben (from Cyclova) for keeping me entertained part of the event.....NB it is a $100/cm for anyone who wants a ride.
- The marshals for their enthusiasm and smiles
- The last lady runner who helped me sort out a bloody nose that I had sustained during the last 6 miles
- Eric, Amy and the Pedersen family for looking after me
- Lynda from the local press for her article on me and on reducing trash in our environment to help sustain our resources
- Fire for being an excellent tire. Hope the school looks after you well.
PictureTG, Bisaniiwewin, Chamey, new kid Fire and Luck High School
Eric (RD for Gandy Dancer): Dear TG, we have a local tire called "Fire" who will be waiting for you at the Luck Community School!

TG: Way coolio - an American tire :)

Amy (Director): Hope you don't mind, we got the whole high school to welcome Fire.

TG: Woohoo!

PictureChamey checking out Fire and Bisaniiwewin's grooves
Bisaniiwewin on her Arrowhead DNF: Life is a game of snakes and ladders. Snakes are there to help us raise our game in life; ladders can be found by being proactive and meeting challenges head on.

TG: I have a buddy called Simon, who is an excellent rock climber. He used to tell me "to be better at rock climbing you have to be willing to fall"....and so in life, the fear of failing can be an obstacle to us progressing forward.

After all, our so called "failures" in life are really a time of learning and reflection, that should help us to change our approach so we can be better at life.

PictureStudents at Luck pledging to reduce their single-use trash
For our environmental failures, we need the next generation to change the way our society works. We are overwhelmed by the extent we are rapidly consuming our resources and polluting our environment. Thus we do nothing.
I choose to focus on one thing - our current disposable society.  So the first challenge to all our "change makers" is to raise their own game by reducing their single-use plastic trash with a B.Y.O attitude (Bring Your Own....bottle/ cup/ plate/ cutlery/ bags/ etc to anywhere that will be providing disposable plastic)

After all the N-Parks slogan is "Leave No Trace". That is a slogan that should be applied to our home, environment, and planet.

TG: Final question - is "Fire" a girl or a boy tire?

Laura (student):
Gender shouldn't matter as long as he or she can do the job.

And so it is, TG has now got a trans-gender tyre called "Fire"
that will live at the Luck Community School to teach them how to run to reduce their risk of getting injured whilst running. A new school sport has been born ..."The Fire Tire Run" .

Thank you Amy for the use of your photos.
Thank you Luck Community School for listening to us (TG + tyres)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next write up - Gandy Dancer Marathon and a fire tyre

Reu is a multi-purpose tyre. She is a racing tyre and a pledge tyre.
PictureReu hanging out with the awards
Organisers: Dear TG, the Cheltenham Challenge would like to present an award to you. Please can you and your tyre (Reu) come to the ceremony? You can have tea and cake whilst Reu gets a rub down.

TG: Dear Cheltenham Organisers, that would be fantastic.

This was Reu's time to bask in appreciation. The worn treads were worth it as she sat with prestige in the chamber of commerce.

Reu tried to angle herself in on the photo shoot of all the event winners. See some of the photos below
At the end of the day, Reu excitedly received her award from the mayor, supported by TG.

The mayor pledges to reduce his single use plastic rubbish by consciously putting in effort to BYO (Bring Your Own) everything that is possible:
- BYO thermal cup for coffee/tea
- BYO reusable drinking bottle for walking events
- BYO reusable bags to the supermarket/shops
- BYO reusable take away containers for take away
- BYO plates/cutlery to events that might provide plastic plates/cutlery
- and anything else you can think of.

It is easier to just put "stuff" in the recycling, it takes effort to change our "disposable" mindset, but the mayor is going to move in that direction. Can you take up the challenge?

As Reu had to be taken away for another event, this means Reu pledges to come back to the Cheltenham Challenge event in the future.

Type of Race/Course: Trail & road with 5 rivers, 4 hills, 3 large country estates, 2 castles, and 1 cathedral. Sign posted all the way
Location: Salisbury
CPs: Regular CPs @ every 3 miles.  Water, squash + snacks + cake.
Weather: Raining for 1/2 the time! (my total time was 7:43)
Start Time: 08:15 for the runners; 08:30 for walkers/slow runners
Finish: Salisbury Fire Station
Post Runner Recovery: Certificate + medal
Water + supplies carried: 3 breakfast bars + cocktail sausages


Today the world ticked slowly. I tried to boot up, but my system was behaving like a Windows machine. I tried to give it a shock by drinking a cup of tea (caffeine has a long effect on me, well into the night) but the system felt like a file was missing. Girly time had snuck up on me and thus was behaving like a Windows 3.1 system. Only one system task at a time could be completed, all other tasks had to wait or be forgotten.
- I had left my keys in the door - thankfully a friend found them and put them safely away
- I had brought the wrong running gear - thankfully I can just about run in any shoes, even sandals on muddy trails
- I had forgotten my rain gear - thankfully Uncle had a spare jacket
- I had forgotten my water bottle - thankfully there were lots of water stations

My job today was to complete the 50K.

Initially had expected to do better than the last time I completed this event in 2010, but woke up with a headache and a fog had settled in my head. Though I might have drunk enough water at Jeremy's party the night before (the lovely Jeremy from Osmotherly), the first day of "girly time" can demand priority. With the rain pelting down, I would have loved to have stayed in bed. However Jeremy had ensured we were up and about with breakfast ready (thank you Jeremy for all your support). It was important to look for positive points about this event. I readjusted my expectations and simply looked forward to the long downhills.
PictureChamey is under the rain jacket
As we arrived at the fire station, the morning ablutions took over priority. Spying toilet facilities in front of the fire station, I rolled out of the car, pulled all my stuff out and waved good bye to Uncle. It was only after I had been relieved, I realised no water bottle. The mind went into a mild panic wondering how the body would cope. It then readjusted to the knowledge of regular water stops about every 3 miles. Next priority was to pick up numbers etc. and saw a lot of familiar faces. Somehow I had not been registered, thankfully Lido's (RD) daughter sorted me out.

Rain drops were flowing freely from the skies above, nevertheless it was time to soldier on for the 50K before the pack of runners left for their respective events. On leaving the registration, I was told the route had changed from the previous years and was handed a map. The start point swayed from side to side as the wind swirled. I headed for it head down and was sucked through. Within 100 metres, I hit a cross road. An arrow pointed to the left and an arrow pointed straight ahead. I took out the map, which was instantly pelted with rain drops to smear the ink. A foggy head made a quick map confirmation: the left arrow was for the 10K and the yellow arrow was for the 50K. With no one else to follow, I had to do as "Dorothy" (Wizard of Oz) did, I followed the yellow arrows.

PictureAmazing marshals - happy despite the rain
Normally I would run the first 10 miles before drinking anything. I was thirsty after the first 5 metres. I can only blame this "girly time". I needed to focus on breathing through my nose to reduce the water loss, concentrate on smelling the wet pine forest and the wet summer smells. Sometimes I licked the water falling onto my face.....but I knew I was playing a psychological game with myself. Despite the disgusting weather, the marshals were out smiling and applauding, cheerfully handing out water. I took a cup from the first station and kept it with me until the end. Again I was thankful for the plentiful water stations. I stopped at every single one of them and downed many cups of water, paranoid about being dehydrated.

(thank you Barry Light for your encouragement, use of your photos and donations to my cause)

PictureOn the road to the first estate
As I motored down the first downhill, my mind reflected on the event when all the marathon runners had overtaken me at this point. There was no one but walkers. It wasn't until I headed towards the first estate, that marathon runners would past me in a steady stream. More friendly faces passed me by. I was a little confused, but thought there would be a 50K diversion at the end to make up the distance.

Sure there was later a  very narrow passage, a muddy farmland and a barrier to get over that I had not remembered in the previous time I completed the event, however
I felt displaced. As the rain slowed to a piddle, at the back of my mind there was something amiss. For the final 7ish miles, I met James: a triathlete who thought he'd walk the marathon to recover from his last week's triathlete event (see I'm not the only crazy). I recapped with him on the entire route. As we chatted, the dawn arose in my head - my first cross road. 10K + marathon route = 50K.

When ever there is a decision about a direction, I hear Freddy (from Oliver and the Over World) "You can't go wrong if you just go right 'cos right's the proper way! That's what my dear ole grand-dad always used to say". It's a great song, but ain't always right!

I felt an overwhelming sense of failure - I had properly FAILED to complete 50K. Job incomplete. ....but as my friend Welsh Womble would query, what were the 3 Ps?
1. Falling short of the distance meant at least, I completed a marathon distance (42K) in 7:43 - an hour better than the last performance in the Yorkshire Dales and also could add this to my tally.
2. A swollen belly and iron depletion was happy it was only a marathon distance.
3. It was great to be out and about despite the initial weather and we ended in glorious weather...and thus the foggy head had cleared with the sunshine.

Next year is the 20th year of the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 and I will be back to complete 50K properly!

PictureHatfield McCoy 2011
22nd Aug Update: Thanks all - this competition has now ended and only the top 2 were chosen. However we got Alexis into the top 6 on the leader board.

Original post:
Hi all. I need your help to help Alex who has been a great "driver" of fitness and health in his home town.

I met Alex in 2011 in the Hatfield McCoy marathon in West Virginia. He warmly welcomed me at the end and since then, I have watched his running progress from Strength to Strength thru to his health campaigns in his area to inspiring others to get fit.

PictureAfter a year of training, joy! 1:37 1/2 mara PR
Right now he wants the opportunity to get on the front cover for Runner's World and thus be a statement for a community that has struggled with obesity, diabetes and heart disorders.

You see Alex lives in West Virginia which has a high prevalence of obesity and is in fact the fourth obese state in the US. West Virginia also has the second highest rate of physical inactivity at 31% of the adult population. (

Up until 2008, Alex was part of that statistic and looked likely to follow in his parents' health footsteps: heart problems and type II diabetes.

In 2008 an event happened that would "kick him hard in the head". Alex saw himself! A person with low esteem, overweight and on a road to health destruction. This was a turning point: either continue along his self destruction or to proactively change his ways. In 2008, Alex attempted to run a mile. It started with what seemed a long 1 mile walk. But Alex was determined to make that change. It would take Alex 3 months when he could run his first mile without stopping. And if he could now run a mile, he would go for 2 miles and when he could run 2, he entered a monthly 5K race.

PictureEncouraging others achieve a fitness regime
In 2010, Alex completed his first marathon in an excellent time of 4:16. In May 2013, Alex ran his first sub 4 marathon and in 2013 has run his fastest time of 3:49 in the Flying Pig Marathon.

With being fitter, Alex found a new confidence and wanted to be able to encourage others to get out of the spiraling circle of obesity and poor self image.

In 2012, the number of adults with obesity in West Virginia increased to 33.8% up from 27.7% in 2003. With the rising trend, Alex joined Mingo Coalition Diabetes to encourage his local community into health and fitness as well as became involved in volunteering and supporting fitness events. You will see him as a volunteer or as a Race Director in a number of running events in the Williamson area.

So why should you support him:

Because he turned his health life around, discovered a running community that has supported him and now helps others change their "health life" so they can also be rewarded with life changes. After all it isn't just about the money you make, nor
is it how long you live, it is about the positive change and difference you can make. Alex has helped so many others to make
that life change.

So am asking you to help him be awarded the Runner's World Cover for December by simply voting for him using your facebook or twitter account. You can vote for him at the following URL:

Please vote for him daily until 15th August.

Let's encourage a community to be proud of its member and to inspire them to take the journey to health and fitness.
Celebrating the Tour De France. Lots of painted bikes for sale! Though think someone didn't read the brief about them being only yellow!
Picture08:30 RD Steph briefing the walkers
Type of Race/Course: Trail with some steep hills (3000 ft of ascents) and lots of excellent points of interest. Route description provided.
Location: Dacre Banks Including parts of the Ripon Rowel Trail, and passing through the Valley of Seven Bridges and Brimham Rocks
CPs: Couple of self CPs (clip yr own card) + regular CPs @ every 3-5 miles. Water, squash + snacks + cake and there is a lunch stop as featured in many LDWA events.
Weather: @24-26 degs C; very sunny; exposed.
Start Time: 08:15 for the runners; 08:30 for walkers/slow runners
Finish: Ends at Dacre Banks (loop trail)
Post Runner Recovery: Certificate + badge + a brilliant buffet.
Water + supplies carried: 2.5 litres of squash + 3 breakfast bars + 2 cheese rolls/2 hot cross buns + cocktail sausages


Top Photo: At the top of a hill (starts with a steep hill); Bottom Photos: The enchanted Valley of 7 Bridges Deer Park. The rivers were dry
The Difference Between a Northern and a Southern Event
Up Norf, people are more likely to:
1. Talk to you (even if you don't drag a tyre around with you)
2. Look out for you and help you
3. Be more generous
4. Have a general community spirit

In the South, commuting distance to London, I think we can be more paranoid, with a tendency to be quite self centered!!!  Or perhaps as I tend to work in London, I see the dog eat dog world. I feel the aggressive emotions of commuters trying to cram into trains, and cars that will cut you up and run you down. Its bad to have eye contact with anyone and you will see the same people on the platform that will never talk to you unless the train is late or an accident has happened. In rush hour commuter traffic, I have watched commuters tut and push aside an older looking gentleman who was perplexed about how to use his ticket to get through the station's barriers. I assume if they had helped him, they would been a couple of seconds late to stand in the queue on a crowded platform.

This and the last event, have both been in Yorkshire and has certainly been a breath of fresh air physically and mentally.

Implied Companions
The day started slightly cool and I attempted to stay ahead of the walkers. However the route starts with a hill and, for obvious reasons, I slow down on hills and then speed up on the down hills over taking many people. Initially two guys (Andy and Graham) became my "implied" buddies as we continually overtook each other and dished out banter to amuse ourselves. They would confirm the route I was taking, though by CP3 I could no longer keep up with them. However I was never alone with walkers still behind me overtaking me on yet another uphill slope.
Approach to Studley Park church and side view of church with Obelisk to the left of the church.
Acts of Kindness
The sun shone brightly, and the day certainly grew warmer. Two women (Fiona and Marion) passed me on the approach to the church, however the heat was taking its toll, so they decided to take a respite in the shade of a tree outside the metal gates of the church entrance. Fiona on hearing Reu nearing and seeing me closing back in, walked back 10 metres to open and hold the gate open for me. You might be reading this thinking that is no big deal....but NO-ONE has ever gone backwards to help me.

Embarrassed, I thanked Fiona and checked that her buddy Marion was well. Her reddened, anguished face was a concern and so ensured they had electrolytes and water. They ushered me to keep going, assuring me they were fine. There is only so much mothering one can do, before it becomes overbearing. I continued on and they followed soon after, though I lost them on the downhill at Fountains Abbey. They became another pair of "implied" companions who I would meet again in the last 5 miles.
PictureThe clasp broke! A spare karabiner was used to hook on to some string
As I jollied along a tarmac road, my load suddenly lightened. I looked behind and Reu was waving goodbye. Another first in 45 marathons, the wire hook that I had created for Reu had snapped.  The beating Reu had taken 2 weeks ago at Osmotherly might have caused lots of contortion on the wire weakening it until now broke!

A passing participant stopped for me as I figured out what I should do. Thanking him, I ushered him on. A family (Peter, Sue, Sammy) also stopped and would not be ushered on. They stayed to ensure that Reu was suitably fixed. Fortunately, I carried a spare karabiner and thus hooked my load bearing rope onto some of the string I used to secure bucket onto Reu.

I became confused and told them I was doing my 44th marathon, and thereafter I was sure I was on my 44th (at the end Grahame and Fiona would tell me I was on my 45th). They became my third set of implied buddies, looking out for me whenever they saw me. I left them on a downhill, though I would see them again in the last 5 miles with Fiona and Marion.

Reu was no longer dragging well. The new position of the rope caused her to bounce and topple on any slightly rocky terrain or grassy fields and again had to carry her even on the downhill slopes. She was only happy on tarmac or a gritty path.

PictureCP4: Lunch stop + ice cream
Lunch Stop
CP4 was a fantastic stop. Food galore and with the hot weather there was an ice cream stand! With it being so hot, couldn't eat any of the wraps, cake or snacks on offer, but the ice cream was like food from the heavens.

The great thing about the ldwa events is that they are low cost (less than £10), food at every CP and there's always the banquet at the end. They provide certificates and some give cloth badges, at others you buy the badge. I prefer this rather than the "technical" t-shirt and "bling" other marathons provide. However there is an orienteering element to the events, and you are expected to find your way with a map and/or route description.

PictureStepping stones for Reu to jump over
Guiding Lights
After grabbing an ice-cream, I headed back out onto the trail, which was another steep hill.  Having plodded half way up, I heard some recognisable voices behind me: Grahame and Andy! Another merry short banter and then they were gone, disappearing over a stile or through another kissing gate as the hill continued to rise. But at the top, is a downhill which meant I traveled faster even though again Reu would bounce and had to carry her down. I caught up with them again and thankfully so, as I don't think I would have ever found the stepping stones which was on a switch back route.

They also ensured I found my way through a wooded area where paths split off into different directions. Although they were ahead of me, they were just holding back so I would see them. Nonetheless, I could not keep up with them. Reu was getting caught on protruding roots and rocks and had to carry her through the woods, anyhow the route was soon clear on the direction I should take.

The magnificent Brimham Rocks
There were still participants overtaking me and would also aid me to find the Brimham Rocks, boulders balancing on top of each other. I will have to come back here in the future to clamber and sit on the top. My mind reflected, and with my frost bitten finger with now 80% feeling, I believe am ready to get back into rock climbing.

CP6 was just inside the park and everyone seemed to take a sit down break by the rocks. I allowed myself a chance to refill my bottle before heading back onto the trail. As I headed onto the wrong track, another participant called out to me and corrected me. Eventually the family, Fiona and Marion caught up with me in the final miles. They also corrected me as I was obviously no longer fully comprehending the route description.
I ran the final mile with the family/Marion/Fiona cheering me on. I arrived 2 minutes before my last companions and to a hall full of people applauding my efforts. Yes there was a hall full of people! And a gammon feast at the end of the hall! With being so hot, the only thing I could eat was 2 bowls of ice-cream and jelly. (By the end I had eaten 2 breakfast bars, 1 cheese bun and drunken 3 litres of squash)

Thank you to all the guiding lights who helped ensure I navigated the route correctly, the organisers who put on a brilliant event (the same ones who put on the most excellent Smugglers Trod event), and all those who encouraged, kept gates open for me and donated funds.

£40 on the day for EarthWatch.

Though this is Rock and Rowel, it has a real soul. Really enjoyed this event :)

Next event is back to Salisbury.