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London Marathon 2015

Posted May 14th, 2015 in Race Reports by Kay

AW article pic
London 2015 was an incredible, unforgettable experience for me for so many reasons- not least the race! Being included in the press conference and photocall, having a pre race interview with Colin Jackson, lining up on the elite start with incredible world class ladies, having supporters out of the course including my family, husband, coach and Cornish running friends and then a post race interview with Gabby Logan and Five Live! It all seemed surreal at the time and even now doesn’t seem like it could have all happened to me. I’ll always treasure it- especially as I only decided on the Monday before the race to actually run it- as I had had terrible niggles in the last few weeks of training and missed a lot of speedwork and some mileage. I’d nearly pulled out of it and not gone!!
Cutty sark
The first half of the race was a bit of a struggle to get going and I was soon running on my own with quite a stiff headwind for long sections. Both British ladies had pulled a large gap on me. I had to keep going for the team and my family who had come so far to watch. Even my favourite part of Tower Bridge felt tough this year. Then at 14 miles I took a gel and got the boost I needed. I felt great for the second half of the race and eventually pulled back the second placed GB lady, Rebecca, at 20 miles and passed her. Then I knew I had to run strong to open a gap and keep ahead of her, and my racing adrenaline fired up. I really enjoyed that last 6 miles! (apart from the last endless 600m of course- OUCH!) I was over the moon to finish 2nd GB lady in 2.35.41- a course PB for me by a minute! I wasn’t expecting that at all! Brett was there with a massive supportive hug and a huge smile…once he could
see I was OK!

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I was so pleased with my new T7 racers- I’d gone up a half a shoe size and had not a single sore toe or blister- and the Brooks compression socks had held my usually cramping calves really snuggly, so ‘d had no problems there either! The right kit can make all the difference for sure! 3 x half packets of Lucozade gels consumed (hands wouldn’t squeeze the rest of the gel out!) and 2 x elite drinks bottles knocked on the floor and undrunk (my hands wouldn’t grab them off the elite tables). Hmm I need hands that work next! Afterwards we had a fantastic afternoon and evening meeting up with the CAC runners – hearing their achievements and celebrating together. And to top it all off our wonderful ladies team medalled in Silver position in the UK Marathon Champs, within the London Marathon! ETERNALLY grateful to Cornwall friends and family, team mates, AYP, Brooks and everyone who battled to get me there- massage, physio, chiro, etc etc. There’s no way I could do any of this alone.

Emma Stepto

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Bath Half Marathon 2015

Posted May 11th, 2015 in Race Reports by Kay

AW pic from Bath

Bath Half Marathon 2015 was such a memorable weekend for me, for so many reasons. Winning it was a big surprise as I was aiming to test my fitness half way through my marathon training, rather than thinking about placings. I still can’t believe my name will be on the winners trophy!

It’s also one of the first big races I ever did after joining CAC, so it is a sentimental race for me in a way. On top of that I had the absolute honour to meet and race with the incredible Mara Yamauchi (2nd fastest ever UK lady marathon runner after Paula Radcliffe), who was kind enough to offer me encouragement and support ahead of my elite start at London last year.Also my husband and club mates all ran the race too. Lorna, one of our beginners group and now a CAC club member ran it as her first ever half marathon and raised £665 for the Bristol Children’s Hospital charity.

I was so proud of everyone! Bath Half is supported by Brooks and has all the big city organisation and incredible atmosphere, in one of the most beautiful cities. I highly recommend it as it is a great course too! As always I am extremely grateful to Brooks and Kay, At Your Pace, for their amazing support. I am delighted to be able to get another good result to pay the back for their belief in me.

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Reading Half Marathon 2015

Posted April 16th, 2015 in Race Reports by Kay

4th UK lady, 5th lady overall. Time 1:13:30

emma stepto reading half marathon picWith Bath Half Marathon only 2 weeks prior and lots of marathon training mileage in between, I arrived at Reading feeling less than 100% and also very aware that I was racing with some the top endurance ladies in the UK, but I was determined to have a better race than 2014, when I had finished disappointed. The weather on race day was clear and cool, so runners were largely feeling confident, but there was quite a stiff breeze to consider and it was difficult to tell where on the course it would affect us.

I lined up, delighted to see Eleanor Davies (Newquay Road Runners) on the elite start, fresh back from training in Iten! It’s great to have Cornish runners taking part in national races at a high level- the more the better! So, with big names like Helen Clitheroe, Aly Dixon and Susan Partridge to name a few, we knew it would be a fast race. The race organisers said the route had been revised to take out one of the hills, but there is still a drag early on up to the Uni and another at about 8 miles, interspersed with some tight twists and turns through the city, and long straights too- so it’s quite a mixed bag!

I found myself in about 7th/8th place in the ladies race and gradually managed to pick off the ladies I could see during the race, but unfortunately the leaders were out of sight and I wasn’t feeling comfortable. I didn’t want a repeat of 2014, so I just kept battling on. At 8 miles I was about 20 seconds behind Helen Clitheroe and really tried to increase the pace over the last 3 miles to bridge the gap, but Helen had a great run and finished 30 seconds and one place ahead of me.

When I initially finished, I thought I had run the same time as last year, but actually it was 20 seconds faster and my second fastest ever Half Marathon (although it certainly didn’t feel like it!) I would have loved to have been in the medals – as it was the EA Half Marathon Championships- but I was pleased that mentally I hadn’t given in and slowed down, even though I felt under par. Good mental training! Eleanor had a fantastic race, finishing inside the top 10 and with a huge PB. Her progress is fantastic and thoroughly deserved. I was so pleased for her!

Brett and Alan had been out on the course to provide a supportive cheer and seem to have had a lot more fun than us runners, stopping to have their picture taken with the glamorous cheerleaders along the way!

Straight back down the M5 after the race, to begin a full mileage training week the next day. But just 2 weeks to go before I taper for London. Now that’s when I have to feel 100%! Fingers crossed!

Emma Stepto

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Barry 40 2015 Race Report

Posted March 27th, 2015 in Race Reports by Kay

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It has taken a while before I have felt I can write this race report. I had really hoped for a good performance, and a quicker time than last year, and possibly a chance to be selected to represent Wales at the Anglo Celtic plate 100k in May. This year it is to be held in Wales, so it would have been such an honour. But after my poor race, I was clearly not going to stand a chance of being selected.

Running feels fantastic when you are running strongly and well, and the icing on the cake is having a great result at a race. But when things go wrong, running can feel terrible. This was sadly my experience at the Barry 40 this year.barry 40 A leg injury caused problems for me at about the marathon mark, and it was all downhill from there. I got slower and slower, and yes, I finished, but it was not what I had hoped for. But races have positives, and this event organised by Mick Mcgeoch and his team is a truly fantastic event. It has so much history, and is super friendly and organised. I was able to share time on the track with some fantastic athletes, and witness some great running. So definitely a race to be recommended and hopefully one I will return to next year.

And thanks to my lovely lap counters, David Angilley and Mike Feighan. And to Kay at At- your –pace for her continued support.

Photos courtesy of Paul Stillman, and super jacket from AYP!

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The Spine Challenger Race 2015

Posted January 31st, 2015 in Race Reports by Kay

The Spine Challenger Race 2015 by Andrew Fergson, Mudcrew, Cornwall

Spine Challenger Race 2015 Think Scrooge like terrain for 112 miles, with torrential rain , hurricane force winds and with a load of deadly slippery wet/ ice covered slabs and the odd mountain thrown in for good measure and it will give you some idea of what this footrace is all about .

I gathered in Edale with 4 others from Cornwall , Richard Fish , Sharon Sullivan , Rob Coleman and James Turner all Mudcrew trail runners and experienced ultra marathoners , this would need every ounce of that previous experience .

We started at 6.30 AM in the dry but by 6.35 it was like a different world, on the first big climb up to Kinder Scout it was torrential rain and hurricane force winds so much so they delayed the start of the full Spine race .

We were in it and didn’t we know it, blown off my feet and thrown up in the air on several occasions just wanting to get some shelter to put on extra layers and a balaclava ( yes balaclavas are compulsory kit )

Kinder downfall water full was literally being blown upwards such was the force of the wind, quite a sight and something I will always remember .

Made my way with Sharon slowly but surely up through Devils Dyke and onto Bleaklow Head before descending at last into Torside Reservoir to be met for the first time by Caroline Cable from MC and FRR who had madly volunteered to be support crew ( an endurance challenge in itself )

After some TLC and a strong mug of coffee Sharon and myself were off up another steep climb , Sharon was beginning to have breathing difficulties and not long after had to retire ( no doubt she will be back next year ) .

I pressed onto picking up the pace trying to catch up with some guys in front of me, the extra effort was really hard work and I was using more energy than I wanted to be doing ( this is a race about conserving energy not using it if you just want to finish it ) I was beginning to feel out of my comfort zone for the first time but eventually caught up a girl called Maxine and another Emiko who I had previously met a few weeks ago in the Brecon Beacons when on a training race for this event .

Having company again and with the pace slower I plodded on in continual bog with many deep river crossings , their wad virtually no visible path for several miles , I was glad I wasn’t alone as dark was descending as the hours just passed .

Spine Challenger 4Pressed on and on and on in the darkness and caught up with 2 great lads from Guildford Mike and Ash whom I spent the rest of the night with making our way to the 1st CP at Hebden Bridge , snow was now falling heavily on the higher ground turning to heavy sleet and rain at lower levels .

After spending too long at the checkpoint ( not my normal tactics ) but I wanted to stay with Mike and Ash as they were good company and the weather and navigation was so bad it was safety in numbers , we made our way up a huge muddy hill on the way up to Oakworth Moor ( I’m sure it’s very pretty in the summer but it’s complete grimsville on a January night in a storm )

Endless slippery ice covered slabs of stone mixed with deep bogs made it treacherous and slow going , somewhere along this moor we lost the path and spent 45 mins train to find it again .

Daylight seemed to be an eternity but eventually it came , it crossed my mind that I still had to do another full day and night and probably best part of another day without any sleep , I was only just approaching half way where I was met by Caroline again with Sharon now for company , they told me the news that Richard Fish was in hospital ( heart issues ) Rob Coleman had fallen and badly sprained his ankle and now James Turner was out with knee issues, this race has such a high DNF rate , well over 50% , I was now last man from Cornwall standing making me even more determined to push onwards.

Can’t remember much about the next day it passed in a blur of cold wet and extremely shitty weather, I had on 7 layers at some points in this race and I was still cold at times on the high ground , Lothersdale came and went at around 65 miles , it was around there that Mike was really struggling and began to drop off, Ash was really suffering with the cold and after a particularly nasty Tor we had to climb where conditions were apocalyptic they decided to call it a day both saying they couldn’t face another night of this weather.

Bugger I was on my own again , I knew their was a group of 3 behind me so waited for them to catch up Emiko from London , and a couple of guys from Lancs who had recced this part of the course ,( I thought that could be very handy ) and decided to stick with them like glue through the second night.

Onto Malham and arrived at the pub there just as it was closing but pat least I had some crisps and Coke, caught up with my ever suffering support crew again and then off again to the next CP on Malham Tor , a godforsaken hell hole of a place and conditions were bloody awful.

The 3 guys I had travelled with for the last few hours wanted to rest, I did not as I wanted to push on to make sure I wasn’t chasing cutoffs in the morning , luckily I met with a mate from Surrey Allan Rumbles one of the country’s most experienced ultra runners and whom I had last seen sprint past me in the last mile of the Cotswold 100 back in September my last long event .

This proved to be a real stroke of luck as it was out of there in 5 minutes and onwards to what was to be the most exhilarating and scary part of the whole race , we made our way across Fountains Fell in what can only be described as hurricane conditions , I was hallucinating a bit through lack of sleep but the adrenalin of trying to stay on my feet and stick with Allan kept me wide awake, we were alone out there as unbeknown to us the RD had diverted the race off the highest ground around Peny-y -Ghent , we were the last to leave the CP before Mountain Rescue stopped anyone else leaving , they were diverting runners off the mountain and getting them to low ground in Horton where an emergency shelter in a cafe had been set up .

I made a call from behind a rock to Sharon Sullivan to meet us in Horton with some dry kit and more layers , she arrived just as we got to the emergency shelter( I got to say I was scared for my life at times during that descent into Horton , when we slid, got blown, stumbled to the bottom of the fell I Allan turned to me and said ” well that’s one to tell the grandchildren )
Myself and Allen in the emergency shelter( Peny -y -Ghent ) cafe .

Spine Challenger 2The race was held up for 2 hours whilst conditions eased , we were off again in 30 mins as we were the last ones to arrive .

The terrain from Horton to Hawes was a lot easier but the conditions weren’t , it did make for easier going though as nav was easy as this part of the Pennine Way was well signed , the winds over Dodd Fell were extreme and I again got taken off my feet several times but the thought we had now passed the 100 mile mark made things easier to deal with I was on the home stretch .

Finally I came over a hill and Allan said , that’s Hawes in the valley , such is the ethos of the race their are no banners or fanfares , we simply walked into the village hall where we were met by Sharon , Caroline, Rob and James ( Richard Fish was still in hospital ) and the Spine staff .

All in all not the toughest course I have ever tackled that has got to be the UTMB with the elevation but certainly the worse conditions by far , coupled with the fact you have everything inc the kitchen sink on your back and the navigational issues it will forever live in my memory……will I go back …….never say never , I learnt a lot and know I could vastly improve on my time and 22nd place .