Over 1,200 runners arrived for the annual Portsmouth coastal waterside marathon today. Pompey was battered by high winds of 22 mph with heavy rain, overnight and this morning. So conditions underfoot will be very testing. 

Today is a mix of clouds, rain and sunshine reaching 11C.

Just three weeks after my recent 100 miler, I feel well enough to run today, however I have not run over 10 miles since, and I feel I may fatigue very rapidly. I have no time in mind, just an enjoyable training day with running friends, to end the year off nicely...

This is my 2nd Portsmouth marathon.

I am fortunate to be driven to the start from Bosh runner Tina. Gary and Shawn have joined her to support myself and Steve running today. 

The rain is heavy and we arrive wet. Numbers attached we look out for the others. I see ultra runner Paul Ali, and chat about 2014 plans, after his amazing achievements this year. 

This morning I had a bulletproof coffee, which I am finishing now. Half an avocado with fried kale, few walnuts and some coconut water. I am really not hungry but finish the coffee anyhow.

Steve attempting his 2nd marathon

We see Sharon, who is very nervous, Sue and then Kevin. Outside it is brighter and the rain has stopped. Sheridan and then Keith arrive. We get a group pic. I spot Jonathan and Jane, wishing them all the best. Lots of chat and well wishes, then it is time to head to the start. 

Just myself and Steve, we say our goodbyes and wait in the pen patiently. The rain comes down heavy, again. The wind blows, drowning us wet from behind. I can feel the damp cold soaking through my back. Everyone groups together like a herd. 

This is crazy!

Rain cleared for now...

BOSH boys

With no warning or loud speaker announcement, the group move off slightly awkwardly, before setting off to a sprint. I weave in and out of the runners until I find a comfortable place to stay and get my pace.

Miles 1-13
Fastest pace/mile 6:57
Slowest pace/mile 7:47
I remember the route very well from last year, and shortly the promenade path ends to head on towards the waterside. The front pack already are minutes ahead further up the track. Navigating on pebbles, puddles, mud and seaweed. The path is just one big obstacle course. Luckily the rain has stopped and it is just the wind to deal with. 



Following the narrow dirt track and other runners, I am feeling ok in my legs and strong enough to keep up the pace. 

Weaving around the water edge, small pubs and waterside houses are dotted up the course. Soon enough, we reach a check point. I gulp some water from the cups supplied, then head back out of the car park and on the main road.

Before running parallel to Eastern Road and passing the water sports centre, it is over a small bridge then the route uses a cycle path. Adjacent to the A27. 

6 miles in, It is only a few mile stretch, but enough time to feel the boring pounding of smooth tarmac. 

Soon enough the path ends and it is back off road into the mud. Back along to the waterside and over a pebbles beach, then a stretch of puddles and grass. Like last year I use the raised ledge by the water, careful to keep close to the grass. 

The next water stop I can see a Mrs Santa supporter ahead, in a Bosh tee. At closer inspection it is Nuala. She jumps up and down, cheers to me and waves as I approach. She is in knee high stripy socks and must be so cold in the wind. She looks awesome for 50! 

She makes me chuckle. 

The wind still very strong, pushing me from the other side as the route curves clockwise. The track widens and becomes more muddy and wooded. The sun comes out to shine, low in the sky but it is pleasant to feel warmer. 

I wonder if I left my coffee too late, as I have very slight indigestion going on.

The elite runners are already heading back from the half way marker. We stay to the left to allow them room.

Within another mile or so I can see the water stop and the turnaround point. More spectators cheer us as we switch back. Some more water then back down the track the way we came. 

Miles 14-27
Fastest pace/mile 7:33
Slowest pace/mile 9:29 
Within seconds I can see Kev up ahead. 'Go Lukey boy', he shouts out as we pass. I thumbs up then see Ian, further along, who stops to snap some pictures. Steve and then Sheridan soon follow in his steps. It is a good few more miles down the route before I see Keith.

I look out for Sharon and other familiar faces, but there are too many groups coming towards me. After 16 miles I can already feel my body fatigue and my pace drop. I try to keep strong and maintain it, but I think the last 100 miler is still too fresh in my system.

Once the body gives up, when not fully recovered, it is impossible to keep up a race pace.

By 17 miles I am ready to walk, I am done, I want to stop.

Back along the ledge with the wind fierce on my face. Another runner is on the ledge, then jumps off, but slips, he falls landing awkwardly. He shouts out in pain, causing the other runners to look back. Number 3 is on his bib. I stop to ask what I can do, another runner stands bewildered, just looking. He yelps out, it is his left calf. I lift his foot and raise his leg, then pull his ankle straight, like he tells me to. Soon enough the cramp stops and his leg comes back to life. I help him up and onto his feet again.

He thanks me for stopping, and sorry it has delayed me. To be honest I was ready to have a walking break, but this wasn't what I had in mind. I run close by until number 3 is looking good again, he soon increases pace and is gone out of sight. It is Christmas and I couldn't just leave him there in pain...

Switch back time


With just some cups of water at the next two aid stations. A small gulp of olive oil to lubricate my dry mouth. Then a few sips of my special brew (espresso, chia, coconut water). 

Near-by shouts of 'Go Bosher' and 'good running Luke' from the spectators here and there. I do not recognise everyone but then at 21 miles just before the water sports centre I can see friendly supporters Alma and Lesley shouting and clapping. It is great to see so many come out and brave the harsh wind and wet. 

The mud and puddles are even more slippery on this leg back. My legs really are finished for the day and more rest is required. I manage to keep going but the last few miles are a long, drawn out chore, I really am not enjoying this feeling and it is familiar to after running the Thames path 100, back in March. 

It very rarely happens, but today I do not want to run, I am not enjoying the discomfort and low energy response. 

Soon enough I reach the seaweed water edge from the start and tip toe around large puddles. Other runners are racing past me for the last stretch home. I couldn't race even if I wanted to. My pace is a slow 9:00min/mile average at the moment...


Once back on the promenade of the seafront and back towards where we started, I can see the pier in the distance, then eventually the pyramids centre creeping into view. Clapping and cheering from the spectators and sunday strollers along the beach. It really helps lift my mood and stops me from crawling to a walk. 

The last 0.25 mile feels like I am running the end of a 100 miles all over again. The finish looks so close but so far... 

I can spot Shawn, then Tina and Gary just before the finish shouting 'go Luke, come on'. I can see the time, dissapointed how much slower I come in to the finish, but grateful I made it around injury free and strong as I can be considering still in recovery...

3:28:41 is my chip time, another 20 minutes slower than last year and in 106th position. A total of 1,163 runners finished the marathon today. 

Marathon number 20 is complete to finish off the year.

I think Jane had too much fun!

He made it...

I collect my goody bag, which has nothing, in my eyes that is very good, all grains and quick fix sugar that I wouldn't use after a race. 

The medal though, is a big improvement to last year, A very distinctive and suitable choice for Pompey. I like it and will get the back engraved. 

Sharon, she struggled with the technical terrain and did not enough it as much as she had hoped. Jane, however seemed to have way too much fun falling in the mud. Kevin and Keith had lots of fun with the day, as they always do. 

Steve came in 4:47:53. He was aiming for 4:30 but honestly for his second marathon, on multi terrain and in very wet and windy conditions. This is something to be very proud of. 

We are all proud of how far Steve has come, from his first 10k race to marathons in just one year! 

A true Bosh runner.

A nice new medal design this year

Thanks to Fit Pro Bob for another successful marathon in Portsmouth and to everyone who organises, volunteers and makes the event possible. 

Big shout out to all the Bosh Run support and words of encouragement, If it wasn't for my running group, I probably would have given it a miss this year! I am glad I didn't, I enjoyed the company and team support.

Thank you to Steve, Tina, Shawn and Gary for the support today and the chauffuer drive. 

Great to see everyone and Happy New Year! 



2013 has been quite an epic year of achievements and reaching my goals. I knew it would be a crazy year of racing planned, since becoming an ultra runner in 2012. To actually complete as many as I did is rather remarkable. 

With 9 ultra (2x 100 miles) and 10 marathons, a few were top 3 and top 10 finishes. I really have learnt a lot in 2013. I am still learning about what ultra running will bring to me, but I am enjoying the journey and experiences that are on the way...

Nutrition has been one of the biggest changes and then the importance of cross-training and resting. I had a few marathons that I did not start due to injuries, which is just as well with the amount I was racing. Highs of finishing 2nd place in my first 100 miler event. Then lows in the summer, from my first DNF, which was the hardest, but most sensible decision I encountered in 2013. 

After a harsh and bitter cold to the end of 2012. January started just as cold, with training lighter during the deep snow, but I still went ahead and completed the 'Go Beyond Ultra Country to Capital 45'. Starting in Wendover, then finishing along the Grand Union Canal in Little Venice, London. 

For my first ultra of the year, it went pretty well, although I struggled with the canal route of hard pavement and an ITB issue. I hit many lows but did finish strong, eventually. 12th place 6:09:00

Total running miles: 250

The weather didn't improve much this month, still cold but then came the wind and rain, lots of it... My miles increased and training off road went to plan. I felt strong and running in extreme conditions really toughened me up. I started longer back to back runs. 

My 2nd ultra of the year was the 'Go Beyond Ultra Thames Trot 50'. From Oxford to Henley-On-Thames. With heavy flooding to the Thames River, the route was made slightly shorter to 42 miles. But was the only safe option to avoid the burst banks. 

Too many roads

The weather was a bright brisk day, I paced myself well and feel that the training really pieced together the race nicely. I made a few wrong turns, but with the help from others I finished in 8th place 6:21:46

Coastal Trail Series 35 Devon

Just one week later I traveled to South Devon. Tired after work and then the 6 hour drive. I had a further long drive to the start of the 'Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series 35' event. 

This was a severe category run, along the moors covering steep climbs and dangerous descents on rock, grass and clay.bI really struggled during the second part of the race, lack of rest and the previous race from last week took a toll on me. I finished in 11th place in 6:23:06

The only half marathon of 2013

Another week later is my local Brighton half marathon with fellow BOSH running friends. 7628 runners swarmed the seafront, in this fast and flat race. 

I raced on how I felt, although not recovered from the last two events, I felt confident enough that the short distance would be over in a flash. Soon enough it was and I raced a hard 1:24:41 coming in 139th place. A surprise PB on this distance.

Total running miles: 272 (highest month)

The Steyning Stinger marathon starts off the month. A small, local, hilly trail run along the downs. just over 200 runners. Feeling very conditioned and fit, without much struggle on the climbs, I come in 7th place in 3:24:28

A week later I take part in the Worthing 20 road race. Another small local run of 478 runners, designed as preparation for Brighton and London marathons. The route consists of four 5 mile laps on residential streets.

I came in 2:12:59 in 17th place 

Worthing 20

With my last high mileage week reaching a total of 83. I feel strong and fit enough to start a three week taper, for my first attempt at running Thames Path 100.

Again the river is flooded in some areas, so the route has been rerouted, starting in Richmond then ending in Cookham. Consisting of two out and back spurs, finishing in Windsor at 102 miles. This would mean passing Windsor three times.

A cold 3C with bitter winds and sleet. Still nursing a cold from the lack of activity, my start wasn't very pleasant. I started the first half rather too quickly, then eased into a steady pace and soon the training paid off for the rest of the day. 

Slowly runners suffered in the wet, cold and started to drop. I crept up on the route to the front pack, before eventually making the finish in 2nd, just 4 minutes from 1st place in 18:14:18. 

First 100 miler event

I felt amazing finishing my first 100 in such extreme conditions, and so well. A door had been opened and I craved to run long again...

Total running miles: 259

Brighton Marathon number 4 takes place in April and always brings back fond memories, as it was my first marathon in 2010 and in my home town. Lots of friends and runners come together for this popular event by the sea. Now with 10,000 runners.

Trying desperately to achieve a sub 3 hour time, but sadly it was not meant to be. I cramped at 24 miles and had to walk a minute or so until it passed.

I finished in 70th place 3:00:18

One week later I experienced my first ever Virgin London Marathon, with over 33,000 other runners. The squeeze in the good for age pen was immense, and it was scary but amazing to be a part of it. I enjoyed every moment of the sights, support and route. A true people's race. I felt fantastic throughout, with only a slight low, briefly. The crowds really do pick you up. 

I finally reach my sub 3 hour goal. A PB of 2:57:47 in 1,068th place 

First VLM

Total running miles: 210

This month kicks off with running my second Three Forts Marathon. A huge improvement to the damp wind and wet of last year. I wore the wrong footwear, choosing my Vibram Trek Sports (4mm sole) over trail shoes. The hard stone trails really battered my foot bed and slowed me towards the end. This still stays in my mind as 'The Tough One'. 

An improvement this year of 3:43:49 in 11th place

Two weeks later I head to Florida for a brief break, and to run the Keys 50. Although I felt trained in the distance, nothing could prepare me for the lack of heat training and intense Floridian sunshine. Temperatures reached 30c and with very little shade. I really started to suffer after just 10 miles. I had GI issues and severe stomach bloating. It felt like a crawl to the finish. 

I reached Key West, the end of the US-1 in 9:18:13 in 5th place

First overseas ultra

One week later I head up to Edinburgh for the marathon festival weekend. I have never been to Scotland until now so enjoyed the sights, and the surprising, scenic route out of the city. 

Some 25,000 runners take part in this event. I feel just about recovered enough from Florida and some how manage another PB, sub 3 hour time.

2:56:26 in 68th place

EMF with Joyce

Total running miles: 235

This is the start of a very busy month. 

First I try out the South Downs Marathon, from which I have heard great things. The route, the scenery and the climbs. I found this even harder than the Three Forts in places. It is a point to point course in Queen Elizabeth country park. 

I really did suffer but managed to come in 37th place from just under 500 runners.

The next day is the popular Seaford Half Marathon with friends, that I committed to. A local off road on the downs, with 1,400ft of elevation. 476 runners took part.  

It was one of those events that you read great things, and just unfortunate it was the same weekend as a marathon. I wasn't going to treat this as a key race, but more of a training run for my next ultra. 

Although I felt tired and fatigued in my legs, falling over at one stage. It was a good test on my body for what is to come.

I came in 19th place in 1:39:21

San Francisco Marathon with Mark and Lucy

Next up is a 6 day trip to San Francisco for the marathon. A slightly hilly road marathon that attracted over 5,700 runners. Joined by our Brighton friends Mark and Lucy. 

This was the earliest race start I have encountered at 5:30am, whilst the streets are still dark. We was very lucky to experience the sunrise over the Golden Gate bridge. The first year without any fog. The weather was glorious and the scenery through the park was brilliant. I started to suffer towards the end, jet lag and lack of sleep started to set in. 

I came in 3:04:10 in 84th place

One week later I fly up to Newcastle, then head over to Carlise with my sister for The Wall Ultra. I am one of the 322 expert runners to complete the route along Hadrians Wall from Carlisle castle to Newcastle Millenium bridge in one day. 

A scenic 69 mile course, although, only 20 miles was part of the actual Wall ruins. This was too much road for me to endure and was the start of a ankle ligament injury. I suffered huge blisters wearing a birkenstock running sandal which I now no longer wear.

I came in 3rd place in 11:05:50

The Wall

Total running miles: 226

With physio and lighter running, my ankle soon improves, but is still not 100% healed. 

I still commit to running Race To The Stones 100k along the Ridgeway trail. The oldest pathway in England. 

Again I have gone for the expert one day challenge, with 227 other runners. It soon becomes the hottest day of the year reaching 33C with no shade. I suffer with the heat and it brings back memories of Florida. 

Again I have stomach issues and go off my food. My ankle starts to really nag towards the end and I eventually finish in a not so good 11:54:10 in 13th place 

I wore my Luna sandals this time and suffered no blistering on the feet. 

Struggles with 33C heat 

Total running miles: 133

Finally the month arrives to attempt my second 100 miler event from Centurion Running, the North Downs Way. With a much lighter month of running and strength training to help my ankle.

 I feel ready to run, but I am not sure the outcome of the race. After coming in 2nd for my first 100, I am being watched today. 

I have just started to tap into my nutrition and have been fueling on fats over glycogen. It has been working great for my performance and training.

The first 35 miles went well and I felt good. I did slip on rock landing hard on my hip at Box hill, then slowly the ankle started to ache, then discomfort, then pain with swelling. 

I had to make the hard decision to drop at 43 miles. It was either make the injury worse and finish walking. Or stop now and start healing it properly. It is my first DNF race.

This also ends my running streak after reaching 273 days...


Total running miles: 78

After some time out, cross training then light running again, I feel confident I can finish the London To Brighton Extreme Running event. 

A 59 mile self navigating trail route, with no course markers or GPS allowed.

I have trained some of the route on bike, and ran with Mark (one of the organisers) and another competitor, Shawn, on two of the sections previously. 

A field of just 55 runners take part this year in the off road run from Blackheath Common, taking the Kent and Sussex border south to Brighton. 

My nutrition really helps today and I feel strong throughout, although my pace starts to drop with the steep elevation and again, my ankle discomfort. I go off route in some areas and waste over an hour getting lost. 

The ankle gets sore during the last 10 miles, but with the race almost over I carry on and finish in a disappointing 11:43:20 in 9th place. 

First barefoot shoe runner

On a more cheery note I am the first barefoot runner to complete the course since starting in 2008. I wore my trusty Luna sandals again with no blister or foot problems.

Total running miles: 117

Heading to Cologne to run the Koln Marathon whilst staying with friends. 

This is my first marathon in Europe. One of the many popular and professional German events with over 4,000 runners. The route was a very scenic, sight seeing tour of the city with a few switch backs. I felt pretty good through out but not my best in the later stages. 

My legs still feel the previous ultra, injury and lower mileage, so I soon start to fatigue quickly. 

This is my slowest road marathon of the year in 3:15:55 in 329th place 

Koln Marathon

It is quite amazing to go from strength to strength, and love the buzz of running, then all of a sudden have the set back of injuries and less training. 

I have learnt to discover I am unable to train for ultra and then race road marathons hard, at the same time. I need those rest periods after the longer distances, and then periods where I can add intervals, speed training and hill repeats. 

The end of 2012 I was just focusing on marathon. Where as now I have grown into an ultra runner, this has become priority. Although my speed has dropped my endurance and stamina to go long, has improved with base training. 

Beachy Head Marathon

The end of the month is my second try at the Beachy Head Marathon. This steep hilly off road route with over 3,000ft elevation, is still a very popular, sell out event for East Sussex. 

Over 1,700 runners took to the hills. 

Going in with an open mind and running on feel, I perform consistently and my pace stays pretty solid. I get the job done. It is still one of my all time favourite trail marathons and the grueling route is forgotten by the amazing scenery. 

As usual it is a very windy day but with sunshine. 

16 minutes slower than my first try last year, in 4:06:29 in 151st place 

Total running miles: 122

My birthday month soon swings around, and it is another try at running a 100 miles! Hopefully with a finish this time. 

After a very pleasant 10 days in North Tenerife hiking Teide and Anaga Mountains. I feel rested and recharged to battle the Winter 100 event. 

This course is a cross section, of out and back spurs along the Ridgeway and Thames Path routes. Using Streatley as a base. I have the experience from many previous races, so feel confident I know most of the route. 

My nutrition has really been going to plan, and now fully fat adapted. It is one less thing I need to worry on during these longer events. 

The first half went very well, maybe too well. I raced pretty hard and felt great. I stayed in 4th position throughout and reached 50 miles in a PB time of 7:35, but after this my pace started to slow considerably. 

Although I felt tired, my legs kept on moving and with correct fuel at the right times I stayed strong until the finish. 

Maybe I could of pushed a little harder towards the end? enjoying the long run too much, I really felt like I was back running my first 100 all over again. I was on such a high and knew I would finish strong but just not in a top 5 position. 

I eventually came in 4 minutes slower than my first 100 miler in 18:17:51 making 8th place. 

My 2nd 100 miler race

Now although I hoped for maybe a top 5 position, after the on-going ankle injury I sustained. To even finish was such a buzz and without any ankle discomfort. 

I really feel this ended my 2013 on a high. To actually finish 2x100 miler events, totally 9 ultra this year and 11 life time, in total. I feel like the journey is just beginning...

Total running miles: 241

The end of the year, and another shot at the 4th edition of the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. Just three days before Christmas. 

This waterside multi-terrain course has become a keen choice among locals of the South. The out and back route to Hayling Island is always very muddy in places with a combination of grass, road, stones, puddles and seaweed. It makes one very interesting race, although practising on this type of terrain is recommended. 

Still very flat, it attracts the fast elites. Over 1,170 runners braved the high winds and rain. This year I had the company of more running friends, old and new to experience Pompey. 

The rain eased after the start, but the wind kept on pushing. I felt good on my feet and strong enough during the first half, then the switch back section, I started to slow and struggle. 

It has only been three weeks since the Winter 100, and this is where I started to suffer. My legs kept moving although my body wanted to call it a day. 

With everything I had left to give, against the strong winds. I did make it, finally, into the finish but another 20 minutes slower than last year in 3:28:41 in 106th place.

I was just grateful to actually be able to find the strength to reach the finish. 

I am finding that ultra can take it out more so on the body, physically, rather than the actual running side of it. 

Another week, or two to fully recover, I think I can get back to the trails and start adding the time on feet once again. 

I am starting 2014 lighter, and with logistics and costs of the winter events, I have decided to wait until April for the first big ultra. I have a few smaller local races to keep me busy until then, but I really want to focus on building up my base and hills for the key 100 milers I have planned.

Total running miles: 98

Total 2013 running miles: 2,244.5

One great thing that has seen 2013 end positive, is my adaption to learning about my body and how I fuel my nutrition. Through eating higher fats, no sugar, no grains and low carbohydrates. 

You can listen to some interviews about my nutrition below.

Podcast interviews:

Vinnie Tortorich Episode 218

Paleo Runner Aaron Olson



On 30th November a field of 95 runners will toe the start today and 9 of these runners will be Centurion grand slam entrants, who aim to complete the last and final 100 miler of the year.

One to watch in the mens field is elite ultra runner Ed Catmur, who has had a fantastic 2013 of course records and top wins. The only runner to finish at the Saxon Shore 100 earlier in the year, then smashing a course record at NDW100 in August. Ed is set to run this race strong and very fast if the weather stays milder and dry as predicted. 

'Luke is an Enigma, and if he comes to the race with his game face on, he could race Ed hard' -James Elson

I do think finding my balance, too many marathons and a few injuries on the way, has dented my racing strength some. I am still learning my nutrition, building a base and racing on feel. 

Lucky number?

With a sensible taper and a walking holiday in northern Tenerife I feel rested and injury free to race. Although a little under trained, but confident to not let it effect my performance...

Helly Nansen Waterproof (after 50 miles)
SealSkinz socks (after 75 miles)
Merrell Trails (after 75 miles) 
Inov-8 wrag, waist pouch and cap
Karrimor and Nike running gloves

With fellow Bosh runner Shawn, having another attempt at 100 miles

Staying in nearby Reading just 20 minutes off the M4 we make it to race HQ at 8:15. Today I have Sunday with me as crew and pacer for the early hours. I am greeted by a very warm welcome from Nici and the Centurion team, after. Bag drop with Paul and kit check with Robbie, I head back to the car to finish my coffee.

Today breakfast was a wheat grass shot, a small avocado, salted water and a bulletproof coffee (made with MCT oil). I had to make do with Starbucks brew from the hotel. 

By 9:00 I have finished my coffee and head out to meet fellow runner Shawn to see how he is. He slept well and is in good spirits. I can tell he is ready to get going! 

The race brief is held inside HQ. No crew are allowed access, as the room is just too small, so Sunday waits further down the lane for the race start. I spot a few familiar faces from previous events. I wish Gran Slam entrant Wendy Shaw best of luck. Then a very polite lady introduces herself, Anja, follows my blog and we wish each other the best. She is also running her 2nd 100 miler today. 

I was ready yesterday!

I wish Shawn the best and will see him shortly at the switchbacks. I make my way closer to the front for the start. 

Miles 0-25
Passing the church and Sunday filming, we head onto the northern Thames Path route following the striped tape and trail markers. Ed Catmur and David Ross are tearing off flat out, my Garmin says 7:00min/mile so I slow down a gear and will see how I feel in a few hours. 

Lucky with the recent dry weather, the conditions are a perfect 4c with light breeze and the sun looks to shine later. The trail is dry below and I can concentrate on getting comfortable in my pace and enjoy the river view. 

Aid 1: Wallingford
(7:40min pace/mile)
Maybe heading out a little too fast, but feeling strong, and running on feel. At the first aid stop I sip some water and head straight back on the route. The course is very familiar, counting, I think this is my fourth time racing along the Thames. I didn't recce any of the route, as confident my memory serves me well. 

Typical leaf coverage in many parts

Parts of the route along the Thames start to look very familiar and eventually the sun starts to break through. Still low in the clouds, but it is pleasant to have some warmth. 

Winter sunshine 

I see Ed racing back from the next check point already, then shortly
followed by David in second. Matt Winn-Smith comes by soon enough in third. I eventually reach the end of the route. 

Aid 2: Little Wittenham
(7:40min/mile pace)
Thanking the volunteers, a cup of water and my number is recorded. Then it is back the way we came from. 

I have NUUN in my backpack water and some diluted coconut water in my carry bottle, which I just sip when needed. 

Wallingford crossing

With just a small group of runners on my tail I am pretty much alone for most of the return spur, with the front pack nowhere to be seen. I text Sunday an update, he is concerned I am speeding too fast, too soon. I slow some, and will see how I am feeling for the next section.

I exchange well wishes to the passing on-coming runners, then hi-five Shawn when we meet, he is looking strong and in good spirits.

AID 3: Wallingford
I stop in to have my number recorded and a cup of water. With help, I refill my bladder.

After 18 miles in I have a few sips of olive oil, (yes I run on oil like an engine) fat burning energy which lubricates my throat and my lips. 

Almost reaching 3 hours, I take an S!Cap salt capsule. 

Feeling good

AID 4: Streatley
(7:55min/mile pace)
I am greeted by a warm welcome. I take both headlights from my drop box, a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, seed mix, then some cherry tomatoes with water. I thank the team and head outside to my crew. After a gulp special brew (espresso, cacao, chia seeds and coconut water) and slice cheese I am set. 

Miles 25-50
Saying bye to Sunday, it is onto the high street and over the Thames following the orange tape. The route continues north, on the other side of the river, through South Stoke, before leading to the Ridgeway path towards North Stoke. A scenery of lush fields and forests. 

North Stoke Sunset

AID 5: North Stoke
My number is recorded, I have some water and head back on the route. The terrain starts to get more technical with tree stumps, rock, scattered leaves and then rolling hills. I take it easy on the climbs and start to walk for the first time today. 

The narrow, bumpy path leads through a dense wood, over styles and through more gates before another steep climb, followed by a deep drop. I can see a runner approach, and once closer I notice it is Ed. Checking my Garmin, it looks like I have another mile or so until the end of the route on this spur. 

Daylight come to an end

Once out of the woods No2 catches up, we chat before he picks up pace, he hikes through the corn fields and I stay close. We smile and thumbs up the photographer before heading through more gates and styles. Matt then David soon come back down the path on the return spur. Through a smaller wood, up a lane passing cheering spectators, then just at the top is the last aid station. 

AID 6: Swyncombe
Arriving to clapping and well wishes, James, Robbie and Paul are all here at this check point. They joke how I nearly ran straight past them, I was so focused looking ahead at the next junction. I am greeted by running friend Alma, who gives a warm welcome and some supplies of, olives, cheese and boiled eggs. I eat some but save the egg for later. I have some water and then head on back for the return leg. I thank the team and make my way back down the lane. Barry in 5th place has already left ahead of me.

Determined No2

Checking my garmin, Ed is 38 minutes in the lead. Back through the gates, passing smiling, oncoming runners through the woods. It is becoming dusk and the day is drawing to a close. I start to feel my endorphins kicking in and I am smooth and light on my feet. Although a dull ache in my quads, I am still strong and fresh. 

Tree roots hidden

Back through the tricky, narrow, section of undulating path and leaves. Eventually it is time to turn on my headlight, front cat light and rear light. I see Shawn approaching looking good. He says he has had a few lull moments, but it has passed and is feeling good. I warn him of the steep climbs and tree roots that scatter the path way ahead. We wish each other the best and carry on. 

AID 7: North Stoke
Eventually back into the familiar village and a quick stop to record my number at the check point, a cup of water, back out on the route. I head on too far, but then soon realise my error.

Soon enough it is dark and getting colder by the minute. I will need my warmer gloves and jacket for the next spur out. Glow sticks hang from trees and shrubs along the river, the still breeze and eeery quite is all that occupies the dark. Above, the stars shine bright in the clear night sky. Once into South Stoke and civilisitation, it is over the bridge, on the high street and back into base at Streatley.

AID 8: Streatley 
(9:06min/mile pace)
Reaching 50 miles and half way in a PB of 7:35. I enter base with an applause and congratulations. Taking extra batteries from my drop box, some peanut butter and seeds, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, cheese and some avocado washed down with coffee. I think I am almost set. I refill, add NUUN to my water and change into a fresh long sleeve. James checks I am well and says I ran very strong for the first part. I hope to keep it up, but I am not sure my legs will let me keep up this pace.

Sunday helps me outside change into my warmer jacket, gloves and swap batteries, as the SE07 headlight is already fading. I change carry bottles with a fresh coconut water. Helen is on her way to base, so I should see her on the return. Already 20 minutes has passed, so I say my goodbyes and head right on the high street following the pink tape this time.

Miles 50-75 
The markers direct me up the road and across, heading over then passing Goring golf course, up a small lane then eventually meeting the bumpy Ridgeway road, out into the wide, open fields of Berkshire. 

Fortunately the Ridgeway is fresh in my memory, this summer, I ran the Race to the Stones and then a year ago the Oxfordshire Ridgeway along the same path. The steep uneven climbs, then steady descents start to really test my tired legs. 

Nothing but large open fields, with a stronger wind chill blowing in, my buff is my saviour to protect my constant streaming nose. I listen to my ipod as a lift to help me through the lonely night. Feeling in the zone and running on auto-pilot. Already an hour in, the headlight is starting to dim, even on a 70% beam. I eat some nuts and check my olive oil I am carrying. It has chilled and gone too thick to drink in the cold. I have another S!Cap tablet with some coconut water. 

Once up close to the A34, the track is very muddy in sections and the route markers are not so clear in the blackness. I can still remember the route and follow the track under the road then out onto the steady incline up towards Bury Lane. The wind comes in across the valley and all that can be seen is twinkling lights from Chilton, some miles away on the horizon. 

Soon I can spot headlights approaching nearer, and it is into the marquee at the next stop. 

AID 9: Bury Lane
I drink another small coffee, eat some cherry tomatoes with some water melon, and have a cup of water. Stretching my legs and hearing more clapping, Ed races in in from his return leg, an hour ahead in the lead. He is looking tired and clammy and is struggling for words. He is still in his shorts and tee...

Thanking the team I carry on up the hill into the dark.

Shortly, further up the track, Matt passes me on his return, then followed by David and Barry. My light is getting dimmer by the minute and soon enough it flashes on and off, before finally dying. I am plunged into complete blackness and thumble for the PETZL headlight. I didn't notice but it has already drained to very low and the beam is so faint I can barely see the track below. I aim the light straight to the floor and keep my head down climbing the last hill to the last check point on this spur. I can see the monument 'Battles of Inkerman and Arms' standing high up above, so I know am on the right track.

Two bright car lights beam down the track up ahead, just another mile or so and I spot that the lights are moving and these are actually from the team at Chain Hill. I can hear calling and clapping then eventually the team come into view.

AID 10: Chain Hill
(9:39 min/mile pace)
Greeted by a warm welcome and 'Hello Luke' from Tim, a fellow ultra runner. 'What do you need' he asks. With his help he changes the dead battery on the SE07 headlight and gets me back on the road safely. No hot water here, so I make a cold coffee, which amuses the team. I eat few cherry tomatoes, nuts and refill my backpack, adding another NUUN tablet.

Thanking the support, for all the assistance. I head back down the hill, for the return back to base. The cold wind is not so bad now it is behind me. Again I find the headlight starting to fade. Within a few more miles and after the next stop at Bury Lane the light blinks, fades then dies... rather annoyed and frustrated with this, and no more power left in the PETZL, I decide to use my iphone torch, which surprisingly is very bright. Angled correctly, it guides the track very well. Luckily I always carry an ANKER back up battery with me on these events, and I still have more than half the juice left.

Soon enough, and feeling my body lifted from my beats, ironic that 'No Limit' and 'Stronger' shuffle round twice during this spur. I head down the small lane and back past Goring golf course then swing down onto the high street, where Helen is waiting with the camera, huge grin on her face!

AID 12: Streatley
(9:54 min/mile)
I head on into base after running for 12 hours and 24 minutes. I am greeted by a loud cheer and applause, Nici checks in my number and congratulates me on how I am doing. Time to change my shoes into Merrell Trails and put on the SealSkinz socks for added warmth. I eat some more seeds, peanut butter, nuts and cheese. Sip some olive oil from my box supply and have a strong coffee. Another water refill, and I think I am ready to keep moving. 

Streatley base

Miles 75-100
I see Helen and Sunday outside, thanking her for coming by and that will catch them both at Reading. This section is left again across the bridge then over the road, to the other side of the Thames Path route for the last 12.5 mile stretch before returning back again.

The path feels familiar from when I ran in the Thames Trot race and the only difference is it is the other direction. I leave the urban street lights behind me and I am plunged into darkness again. The grass is thick and frosty below, with the cloud low, creating a thick fog. I run close to a pair of runners, Eduard and David I think. We chat some before I head on, leading the way, 'Go get that sub 17 one calls back'.

The fog makes it very hard to see where to go, so the only way is to look to the ground and stay on the small track in the grass. The gates appear frequently and glow sticks are the guide. Eventually the fog lifts slightly and visibility improves.

Heading into a deep wood and then climbing over more tree roots and leaves, the terrain is tricky and the path very narrow in places. The drop by the path is steep down to the river so I stay close to the bank. I walk the hills, and really start to feel my legs crying with the stress of the day. It is the first time they really have felt tight. Starting to jog and pick up pace is very difficult after walking. My legs feel like wood... I remember the big steps when they approach, and I have to hold onto the support to walk down. 

Soon enough, the path leads back into residential areas and then eventually a guy comes running by and shows me it is the next turn, then up the hill to the Whitechurch aid station. I see the markers and follow the signs into a small cabin. It is very quiet and empty but the team are helpful. I just have some water and handful nuts before leaving. 

AID 13: Whitechurch
I head back onto the lane towards the bridge, go the wrong way, before noticing the other two runners going over the bridge, which is closed off to cars at the moment. It is a sharp left then back along the river before coming out into a housing estate. The turns to get out are here and there, and rather confusing, but it is clearly marked with tape. 
Back along the main road and over the railway, nearly at the end of the route. Sunday text, but with cold fingers it is easier to call him. Explaining they cannot get over the bridge and sorry they missed me at the last aid station. I didn't know they were trying to stop by. The pathway is a cycle lane and clearly lit by street lights. This section feels the longest of the day and I really start to slow in my pace...

I text Sunday to ask how far. I am really tired of the view and the hope that the next stop is close, when it isn't. Nearly there you done it, is his reply. I soldier on and turn up my music. I am still using my iphone torch as my guide as it is the most reliable continuous light I have. 
I can hear some cheering and 'come on Luke' called out from ahead. Finally the end of the road and time to meet my pacer...

AID 14: Reading
(10:23 min/mile)
Sunday comes down to to help me up the stairs. I see Helen inside, who greets me with a warm welcome and hug. I see running friend, and super trooper volunteer Brigitte. who welcomes me with a big grin. We swap my coconut water over, refill my backpack and finish off the remaining bulletproof coffee. I eat some nuts, (energy pate) a mix of butter, seeds, salt, raw cacao and coconut oil I made up in a dish. Which looks gross, but actually tastes good when the body needs energy. Brigitte has some boiled eggs, so I tuck in. Sunday has last few bites of cheese then packs babybel to take with us. Again I have stayed too long, I blame Bridgette for making the aid station too cosy, again, like last time. I hug her and thank all the team. Helen is already downstairs taking pictures.

At 87.5 miles and a helping hand needed from my Pacer 

Sunday has my trusty Silver Trail headtorch, so I use him as my guide. My legs are stiff as a board and it takes a good 20 minutes for them to loosen up. I am shaking like a leaf with the cold and it is a while before I feel warmed up. Sunday keeps talking to distract me from feeling the cold. I hear about the day and all the amazing support from running friends and my running group. My sister and parents have been following my Runkeeper and the live feed on Centurion. 

Once we are over the railway bridge, we pass on-coming runners, congratulating them when we meet. Back up the road then into the housing estate again. I tell Sunday we may hit some fog, but luckily it has lifted the time we get back to the river. The section is darker this time as the cloud has lifted and the glow sticks are starting to dim, however they still show up from a fair distance. Sunday is really impressed how effective they are. 

Just a quick stop into Whitechurch aid station, I have a few pieces of dark chocolate washed down with some strong coffee, it tastes good as it melts in my mouth. I am really not sure if the sugar will lift me any, this late in the race, as I am just visualising the finish in my head. My legs are done!
We reach the wood and I have help climbing the steps back up. Few more runners pass our track and we stand aside to cheer them on, keeping clear from the edge. Walking the last few climbs and eventually coming out to built up areas. 

I can see some houses and the odd light come into view. 'This is it' says Sunday, you done it. I am so pleased inside, but my quads are screaming at me to stop! The familiar bridge is nearby and we pick up some pace. I head up the road and back on the high street, Sunday is right behind me and starts to clap. Over the bridge then around the corner and back up to base. Helen is waiting and cheers us on. I walk inside to a great welcome of applause and congratulations! 

I feel great and buzzing to finish a 100 miles for the second time this year. 

I didn't quite beat my previous time, but for 3 minutes, I am just grateful to finish without any pain or stomach issues. Running completely on NSNG has helped wonders today. 

I receive my one day buckle and tee from James. Fellow Bosh runner Darren is waiting here for Shawn, to pace him out on the final spur. We chat and eat before thanking everyone for all the great support and great team work they have done to see us through to the finish.

8th position 18:17:51
I would like to pay special thanks to Sunday, Helen, my friends and family for their continuous support and encouragement. Thank you for believing in me.

A huge thanks to Nici, Brigitte, Alma, Tim, James, Robbie, Paul and all the team and volunteers for making the Winter 100 a great success.

See you next year! 

The one day Buckle


Happy with a top ten result and to finish strong and injury free. I am starting to build a base up again and since my ankle issues in the summer, I am finally getting back to how I once was. It would have been good to finish in the top three, but to get my nutrition to where it is and the fuel during the race spot on, I can look to racing harder for 2014. I had no GI issues or stomach troubles during running and my energy levels felt sustained without any crash. I kept in check my hunger and drank to thirst. Racing without the worry of feeling terrible is no more! Thanks to experimenting and living a NSNG lifestyle, the future for ultra racing looks promising...

Sharon Law first lady

Edward Catmur 16:05:10
Matt Winn-smith 16:39:52 
Barry Miller 17:14:32

Sharon Law 18:44:09
Charlotte Black 19:51:11
Wendy Shaw 20:51:56

90 runners towed the start and 69 runners completed the event. 

Check out Episode 218 from Vinnie Tortorich podcast, that features a short interview running the Winter 100 completely fueled by NSNG.

Best piece of kit for the weekend:
This has to be the most comfortable running backpack vest I have owned to date. Light, breathable material, no rub anywhere, easier to tighten if needed. So many little pockets tucked away for carrying everything of all shapes and sizes. 

Most reliable piece of kit for the weekend:
I never seem to feel much, or any hotspots or friction when wearing the Injinji socks. I only sustained a few very small blisters, the largest around the big toe. No blood blisters anywhere, unlike when I run a marathon I usually get one... Pleased I have happy feet. 

Worst piece of kit for the weekend:
Now I really had high hopes for this Lenser light with an easy USB rechargeable pack as back up. Maybe I have a faulty light or the damp cold drained the power faster, but I thought it was built for all conditions. The max light I received from the rechargeable and AAA batteries was approx 3 hours. Which, when listed as 5 minimum, is a rather poor performance. I will contact the supplier to discuss.