In short: Hideously tough & super brutal! That didn't hurt - much! In full: To think I actually did this twice last year to complete the Picnic marathon... How the hell did I do that?!
Parts of this course need to be steam rollered to be a bit flatter, ie the steps to the river, The Chute, the Eiger Steps and the hill down to the half way! The added twist to the course this year, 'The Tightrope', the narrow undulating section close to the river between the footbridge and stepping stones turned out to be my Nemesis. I suffered severe cramp trying to keep my balance on the return to the finish! All said and done I can bask in the glory of completing another Trionium event but may I congratulate anyone and everyone concerned with the production of this race...
Firstly the cheerful and charitable marshalls who gave unconditional verbal, edible and liquid support along the route. Many, many thanks to them, it's people like yourselves who make the difference and punctuate the pain with rays of light. It gives all the runners that extra injection of beleif when the storm clouds have started to roll in and the thoughts of 'Why?' turn to 'This is why!'
Secondly, the runners! It is not until you complete these kind of events that you find out what you're made of. Every runner no matter if they were 1st or last is a winner, it's as simple as that. The support from fellow athletes along the way is priceless and I for one appreciate that. In return I will give a smile, nod, grunt or 'good effort' wherever I can - I'm in it to win it (to finish the job) and respect everyone who crosses both the start and finish line in equal proportions. So again well done to all who had the nerve to give it a go. ;)
Lastly and not least a massive bow of appreciation to Rob for another mammouth effort and a truley special event, well done sir! You certainly know how to produce stunning races and along with everyone else I'd like to say many thanks for a special day. Much respect.
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.
In short: The stuff above was good - the stuff below was horrendous at times In full: Muddy and mental! Didn't kill myself as I have the 5-4-3-2-1 Salisbury Trail marathon on 9th August! Took a big fall, SpLaT! straight into one of those quagmires but got straight back up and soldiered on. Had a bad mile between 10 & 11, had a groin strain and cramp to contend with too!. Took a few pictures of all the mud at the 12 mile marker, it was ridiculous!! The stuff above was good - blue skies and sunshine! The stuff below was horrendous at times - ankle deep mud / water and no grip! Hilly and tricky but overall a lovely course. The marshalls were fantastic, I would employ the marshall at mile 8 - she was amazing, give her some pom poms next year, very uplifting! I did the Picnic marathon in June, reputed to be the 'Hardest in Britain'. I did the first half in 2:39 and this half 2:15 (My PB on the road is 1:44). Tough is measured in different ways - hills and steps are tough and ankle deep mud and sliding sideways at 90 degrees with no grip at all is wierd but it added to the fun! Missed out on the mixed showers but I'll be back next year! ;) Date of review: August 2, 2009
In short: A fantastic inaugral 10K race in beautiful surroundings. Perfect. In full: I feel privelaged to have been accepted to run in this race seeing as I was a late entry but the race director Sam was very accomodating. Having never raced this late before and having the possibility to run in the UKs' largest urban park meant it would be a special occasion. There was a small field of runners, 40 or so but that added to the all round atmosphere and gave complete strangers a chance to say hello before the run began. Soon after 6:30pm we were underway and heading into virgin territory. I held 4th place for the 1st mile or so before dropping to 5th by missing a road crossing, my fault - my head was down and I didn't see the marshall! There followed a mildly challenging hill section before a nice run out to a watering station around the 3KM marker. A right turn then led onto the 2nd hill section which was unexpectedly long and I lost a further few places here as I had been pushing hard to this point. After a matter of seconds to catch my breath I continued as I could see runners ahead and knew that the worst was over. Another road crossing and I was feeling strong again and pushed harder. I claimed back a place and continued strongly to the finish getting a PB of 47mins 16 secs. I was dissapointed to take a wrong turn and drop a few places but happy to enjoy a great race in the evening and get a PB! Many thanks to all involved in organising the race - registration, marshalls and especially Sam, well done mate. Keep this race small, it has potential to become a classic 10K.
In short: There's tough and there's The Picnic! In full: Just a quick note to let all you nutters out there that I've put 3 videos up on YouTube, 2 at the Start of the race and 1 of me cruising down the Burford Slope to the finish! Type The Picnic 2009 or my user name RED1028 into the search box to view them and other footage of Trionium events I've done. I will add a full review soon but now I'm off to bed as tomorrow I'm going to a Healing Festival in Guilford which is called, strangely enough, The Picnic! Great effort today guys: Rob "pain is my middle name" Mccaffrey, the runners, marshalls, supporters and the weather DJ in the sky, a fantastic event. Date of review: June 21, 2009
In short: *** Snow doubt about it, *** This race was ice! *** In full: I knew that this race was going to be special if just for one reason, the SNOW & ICE! I had never run in these conditions before so was slightly apprehensive but it actually turned out much better than I'd bargained for as I discovered as the morning unfolded.
I arrived early and picked up my number from the registration before sorting out my footwear. After a marathon in a torrential downpour in Istanbul in October I now, as then, always apply Vaseline to my feet before every run for 2 reasons: waterproofing and no friction, a little runners' tip for you all! With the days' conditions underfoot it turned out to be a wise choice! I double laced my Adidas Kanadia trail shoes (I love 'em!) and joined the 280 odd loonies at the start line. The sunshine was glorious, the air crisp and the sky a magnificent blue. The national anthem was sang heartily and we were underway...
The earliest part of the course was along a tarmac road before turning off along what would have originaly been a single track road but, due to the conditions, had morphed into a mush of anything wet - snow, ice, mud and lest we forget, freezing water! I always take my camera on a run and stopped to take 2 photos on this section - (1) As the track disappeared into the distance surrounded by fields of glistening snow and (2) Runners ploughing through (or around) the icy puddles. I lost a bit of time taking photos but would be mad not to, it's not every day you run in such stunning conditions!
Then came the psycotic side of my psyche (which I blame Rob McCaffrey, organiser of the Knacker Cracker for!)... He said "Once your feet are wet they can't get any wetter!" and with that I ran top speed into the frozen mudbath of a puddle in front of me... Yeah man! I was having fun and this is what it's all about!
So what if I got cold and wet, it wasn't always going to be that way... live for the moment and enjoy the madness! :)
From what I remember the 1st mile and a half was uphill and mostly single file tracks followed by a playful, weaving and undulating section before climbing to reach the highest point of the coures at 3.5 miles. The climb to the half way point was quite dodgy at times but you had to expect that, I had to walk at one point 'cos running, for me at least, was not an option!
A picture postcard view of the church at the 4 mile point near the water station was worthy of a photo but I was now focussed on the fast descent between 3.5 and 4.5 miles, I knocked out a 7:40 for that mile and was pleased with my effort. A short, sharp half mile uphill section under an arched bridge had me striding and not running, again! Plenty of mud lay underfoot on the last part of the trail and I so nearly went over at one point, stumbling from the left hand side of the track to the right, my feet sticking in the mud - it was ridiculous but funny all the same!
Eventually I made it back to Terra Firma and I said to the marshall "Is this a different planet?" such was the contrast in terrains! I tried hard not to lose my position in the last few hundred meters but had given it my all and sacrificed my place to a sporting lad who had been tracking me down. He knew I was reluctant to lose my place, we exchanged knowing smiles and I acknowleged his efforts by giving him a pat on the back as he passed by. I actually overtook around 25 runners along the route such was my desire to clock a good time and I reached the finish just the wrong side of the hour in 1hr 2mins covering 6.94 miles according to my Garmin GPS.
The course was well marked and there were plenty of decent marshals dotted along the course, without them the race is not possible so thank you all for that. At £16 I thought the race was a little expensive but knowing that all profits were going to the Down Syndrome Association made a difference plus you can't put a price on a great experience like today! Conratulations to Andy Fay and his crew for a fantastic event, it will be remembered fondly, well done!
A decent race deserves a decent review, I hope I have done it justice. See you all soon for more merry madness!
In short: Engage legs, disengage brain! This is the Knacker Cracker! In full: Last year's Knacker Cracker was my debut on the course and I had so much fun that when I'd finished I wanted to go backwards and do it all again! Forunantley I am not as stupid as I look (although many would disagree!) so I waited a whole year to take part in the 2009 event. The title "Toughest 10K" and with it being on New Year's Day had people phoning the funny farm to get me sectioned and when they realised I was doing it in fancy dress they just threw their hands to the sky and walked away shaking their heads in disbeleif... there really is no hope for a Knacker Cracker runner! I was amazed to see that many more runners had made a special effort to come in fancy dress this year, myself included. It really adds to the overall attraction of the race, it is unique, no two ways about it. To think that a portion of the entrants may have been half cut from New Year's celebrations and still made the effort to show up is equally impressive! The last time I heard a countdown to zero wast last year approaching midnight, the next one I heard was Dr Rob reminding me that this was it... my Knacker Cracker was about to start.... ARRRRGH! Is it me or did that 1st hill go on for ever and ever? Just my imagination, as I thought. It was the 2nd hill called Juniper Bottom, it was tougher than trying to cycle up Everest backwards whilst playing a trumpet! Listen to my heavy breathing (if you like that kind of thing!) as I am videoing Andy Fay, the coalman, passing me by the PUT SOME EFFORT In sign! I enjoyed the run through the forrest and leaping over the odd stile and tree trunk but was disappointed the puddle before the Smith & Western diner had dried out, I had psyched myself up to paddle through that! The ominus "CHUTE" lay in wait and I revelled in the madness of trying to stay upright as I trundlled downhill, ducking, diving, bobing and weaving with a silly grin on my face (not that anyone could see it as I had a scary mask on!) I passed what I thought was an impromptu party in the CHUTE but discovered later that the Tin Man and his ensemble had an injured female in the goup with a cut knee, sorry I didn't realise or stop! Still upright I negotiated the sharp right turn at the bottom before the 3rd climb on the course, refeshingly enough to a drinks station! (It was hot in that mask!) The legandry steps appeared soon and it was a bit like rush hour on the Tube escalators, plenty of people in a hurry! It was slippery and at one point I encountered a mini pile up as someone fell over, no harm done though. The bridge over the river was exposed, unlike the prep run on the 17th so with that obstacle ticked off the hop, skip and jump of the stepping stones appeared! I safely negotiated them too and then the freeze frame, slow motion of the climb up the steps began... 1,2,3,4,5.... 126, 127, 128, 229, 230, 231... 270.... Oxegyn please Dr. Rob! With the Krypton factor assault course conquered a short run lead to what is commonly known as THE best finish of any foot race - FACT. You are rewarded for your 9K of blood, sweat and tears with a fantastic, wide open and extremely gratifying vision of the finish line. Take it at your lesiure or, as I did, embrace the oppurtunity to hurtle into the New Year giving it all you've got! I even managed a PB in fancy dress knocking 36seconds off last years time! Simply Fantastic! I love this race and will be back for the hat-trick in 2010! Thumbs up and a big pat on the back to everone involved in making this race possible and for reaching number 4 of ALL the races voted for in 2008.
My videos of the race are here: http://uk.youtube.com/RED1028
The name - TRIONIUM, The man - Rob Macaffrey, The outcome - Legendary.
In short: Bewl 15 is Kewl... a fantastic middle distance trail run with great organization. In full: I was in 2 minds about doing this race because a) I got home late from the Iron Maiden gig at Twickenham on Saturday evening at 1am and b) I'd done no training since my marathon in Cork 3 weeks ago! Oh well, what the hell, let's give it a go! Got up at 8am and waited for my work colleague to arrive at 8.15 as planned the night before.... 8.20am and a text saying "Got a sore throat and dehydrated, can't come!" Lame excuse! That could have been my cue to throw the towel in but I've heard about this race before from another guy so I was keen to find out 1st hand what it was like. A 40 mile drive, reliving the previous night's gig with an Iron Maiden CD, and with the car parked up I had registered with just enough time to change and get to the start - perfect, this is what Sunday's are for! An overcast but curiously warm morning was a great way to start the run and a strong turn out was an encouraging sight. I had no huge ambitions for a PB during the run especially as it was a trail run and I'm predominantly a road runner. The terrain was obviously a concern to me and within the 1st mile my foot twisted sideways hurting my ankle briefly, couple that with the stile where everyone had to stop or clamber over a fence with barb wire... interesting! I came for a challenge and got exactly that - a course full of uneven ground, cyclists I didn't see 'cos I was looking at the ground and a bit of wind and rain thrown in - it was great fun!
The organization of this race is impeccable, from registration to the post race results and free showers. The marshals as with any decent race can be the difference to the whole experience. I was encouraged along the way by so many warm hearted people with generous offerings at numerous water and sports drinks stations, jelly beans and hand clapping from marshals who even got soaked from the downpour for their kindness! The mile markers were a little suspect but overall pretty accurate but at everyone's favorite marker - The Finish, was a homemade cake selection to die for! Top that with a brass band playing away in a scene similar to that of sitting in a car wash and you get the whole point of this race - you'd be mad to do it and mad to miss it!
Only one point to mention, the goody bag- not so good. A t-shirt would be good for next year to celebrate the 10th anniversary. Apart from that well done to all concerned for a fantastic event, marshals and finish line staff - give yourselves a pat on the back, nice one! Date of review: July 7, 2008
In short: Madsummer Munro 2008 - a marshal's perspective... In full: I have run so many miles in various races around the UK and elsewhere I knew that today was going to be different in so many ways, not least because after failing to register in time for the race I was going to be a marshal! I had the privilege of running in the Knacker Cracker on New Year's day and I was buzzing for ages afterwards! From my experience of that 'little' 10K(!) I was gutted to be missing out on this race but more than happy to help Dr. Rob with this one, I felt I kinda owed him one for starting my year with such a fabulous event. Carrying the kit up the hill and setting up the registration desk etc with the other marshals led to actually meeting and greeting the runners and handing out the numbers and sorting out the key drop etc. It is a totally different experience to be on the other side of the desk but a pleasure at the same time to meet so many brilliant people with the desire and fire in their eyes to participate in such a prestigious event. After the race had started I discovered that of the 270 runners who had actually registered only 170 crossed the starting line - amazing... and there I was eager to participate but couldn't!! I was able to video the National Anthem and start of the race for the runners (also on YouTube under RED1028)and then to round it all off I was given the task of taking each of the runners times and positions as they crossed the line (ably assisted by 4 other marshals - thank you). The race winner came over the summit in fine shape and cruised over the line in an unbelievable time of 1h 44m... WOW! Respect to that man and each and everyone of the finishers whatever your time or position, you are all incredible people with amazing characteristics. I must mention Justin from Coulsdon who arrived nearly half an hour late but despite this and being a little stressed collected his number and set off on his own to complete the course and he didn't finish last either! Credit to the city gent, No71, who ran the whole course in a pin-stripe suit, shirt, tie and bowler hat, carrying a brief case and an umberella... Ha ha ha! His pyroeting Ginger Rogers stylie had us in stitches as he descended the hill towards the finish! There was the girl running down the hill at full tilt screaming "I CAN'T STOP!" and the bloke who had run God knows how many miles with a pretty nasty looking cramp, they all crossed the line - TOTAL RESPECT to all of you! The comment that tickled me the most was from one male runner who, with what seemed to be the last breath in his body, said "and don't forget to dip" as he leaned forward to knock a nano second off his time as per an elite 100 metre runner... pure class! I was smiling for ages after that! It's a rare thing in this day and age to pay for something and feel totally satisfied that you haven't been ripped off but with any event that the Trionium crew host you know that you'll get you money's worth... and then some. The organization, rewards and feelings you get, the things that money can't buy, will stay with you indefinitely. Congratulations to all concerned with the 2008 Midsummer Munro, priceless.
I am putting my name down for the 2009 Picnic guys, are you mad enough? I do beleive you are! Check out my videos on YouTube Date of review: June 24, 2008
In short: I LOVED IT! Totaly insane! Challenging course but great fun! YEAH BABY! In full: Whilst many people were unfortunate to have the Christmas flu bug or a hangover or both I was focused only on preparation for this race! At 9pm on the 30th Dec I did a 10K prep run in North Wales on the coast to burn off some of the Christmas crap before I returned home on the 31st. Dedication...?! The weather was drizzly on the morning of the run but everyone was in great spirits and anticipating the lunacy that lay ahead! Runners were started under 5 minute handicaps given their estimated finish time, slowest 1st, fastest last. This is not a PB course, that is a fact. If you finish this race in good shape you have done well. There are 4 ascents / descents of Box Hill varying in difficulty, Hard, Harder still, Even harder than that or Harder than hell... all challenging but so rewarding! The 2nd, 3rd and 4th ups are murderous it has to be said. The 3rd downhill consisted of some 200 odd steps (which you return up!) but the stepping stones over the river were great fun! The 4th downhill was simply the best I have encountered for a long, long time... fast, open and such fun! 200 or so people competing in this run is great testimony to Dr Rob McCaffrey and his team. The organization is fantastic, the marshals and spectators were hugely encouraging. A great T-shirt with a list of all the runners on the reverse plus a medal and commemorative mug and as much food / drink as you could manage was the prelude to the post race awards ceremony which was worth turning up for in it's own right - Dr Rob ad libbing his way through the awards plus a raffle / lucky bag with numerous prizes and the generosity was heart warming, everyone was a winner! Special mention for the guy who set a new course record - 44mins! Also a thumbs up for the fancy dress runners and the now legendary BORAT! How we laughed!
Please check out these links for videos I took of the awards ceremony, great memories of one of my favorite races to date... (Or view my videos on YouTube - I'm RED1028).
Box Hill... The Start. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOl7CTpGmgk
Box Hill Knacker Cracker - 1st Female & Male. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUrHwEKkbHg&feature=related
Shortest Course Record Of All Time..! plus Female Fancy Dress Winners... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x40v-pg8gz4&feature=related
Male Fancy Dress Winner... BORAT! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1x20DEu_is&feature=related
Box Hill Knacker Cracker 2008 - Post Race... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FJRi6O_Ux4&feature=related
See you next year! Date of review: January 8, 2008
In short: A must do race, A Classic 10 miler. In full: Can not fault this race - Fantastic, challenging course in glorious countryside. Mile markers are very accurate, marshals were excellent and a great mix of runners contributed to a classic 10 miler. Good T-shirt and a £5 voucher were also a nice reward for a morning's run. The weather was perfect too, what more could you ask for?! Traveled 85 miles from Croydon on the morning of the race and returned home with a PB of 1hr 22mins. Well happy and well done Witney Road Runners! Date of review: September 12, 2007