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This blog is my professional view and opinions on anything related to massage and fitness. This may range from new therapies, training modes, interesting aspects of massage or fitness, to food, recovery and other aspects to remain in good overall health.


By Lee Weston, Mar 6 2020 04:18PM

So if you have read the first part to this blog then you will know the reasons why I decided to sign up to what most people consider stupid, crazy, ludicrous race in the middle of winter. Four years of wondering if it was possible and 2 of those training my ass off, coming down to 28 hours, 18mins and 38 seconds of a truly surreal experience. In this part, which is a very long read (sorry not sorry), I will best try to give you an insight into what I experienced as part of the race and a review of the race itself to help me process the dream like memories I have.

The lead up to the race was a bit different to normal, potentially because it has meant so much to me as a goal in the months/ years leading up to it. I was over analyzing every part of the race, kit, prep, nutrition and also what my body was doing too. With having 2 weeks over Christmas of training through family visits and a weeks skiing some of my maintenance work (strength work and stretching) had been neglected even though I was still putting in 50+ mile weeks. This resulted in very unhappy legs & knees. This interrupted what was suppose to be my peak volume week of training and had to work around this fact. Thankfully I managed to get on top of it but only for other niggles with the calves/ feet and back to start to play on my mind. Was it a case of over thinking I’m not sure but after a few sessions with Alex Prince, an osteopath, the back was better than it has ever been and the rest I could put out of my mind. I ended up reducing my mileage hugely in the taper due to not needing the mileage, making no difference to my fitness if I done a 2 hour run or not 1 week before the race. So I sat back and got onto a spin bike and completed the maintenance work in the gym reassuring myself I was best prepared and not to think the worst. A few reassuring words from Michelle, my run coach/mentor, and Matt, a soft tissue therapist and colleague who was keeping me moving, was much needed to reassure me slightly nervous brain.

I had the foresight to cut all my 6.30 am clients in the week leading up to the race and all clients from 6pm onwards too so I could focus on getting to bed early and “banking” my sleep. This was all good in theory however it was hard to get to sleep with the what ifs circling in my head.

The days leading up I managed to shop for the race to ensure I had all the nutrition and water I needed with the support crew (brother and wife) and then packing what felt like all my run kit. All possibilities were covered. After reading blogs and watching you tube videos of previous runners the main key things to keep in mind were the following:

• If you can, take everything you think you may need for any eventuality. This lead to separately bagged kit and spare head touches, packs, all types and sorts of nutrition if my stomach went inside out, spare poles if I broke mine, literally everything!

• Stay positive & enjoy (as much as one can). This was a great bit of advice which I tried to embrace but failed towards the end.

• Take a hand torch. Something I had read a few times but didn’t really understand why but if its cold the water vapor from your breath condensing will obscure your vision as you breath out and in the night that’s not so good. Also to help sight in the dark without having to turn your head.

• Don’t stop too much with crew. This I felt was a good bit of advice and easy to lose lots of time if you stick around chatting.

• Keep moving, keep eating, keep drinking regardless. This is and was essential and in essence this got me to the end when I was pretty much broken.

These top tips couldn’t have served me better and I felt like I had everything planned and a clear game plan in my head of how I would like the race to go and how I would deal with the race if/when the shit hit the fan. This led to a really good night’s sleep for the two nights sleep before the race.

Arriving down to Porthtowan on Thursday and walking out the car journey checking out the last mile of the course to the end was a good mental prep. Registration was simple and painless with MudCrew , as always, super organised with kit check and registration very simple and straight forward, in and out in 5-10mins. Race number picked up and kit check passed.

This left me the evening to pack my race vest, sort my kit to run in and prep food to go in the support car. This took a lot longer than I expected so was a bit frustrated not to have as much time as I wanted to switch off and relax before my crew arrived late evening before getting the head down. It was all a bit surreal that It was the day prior the race.

Waking the morning of the race I felt good and got ready to head up to get my GPS tracker fitted and attend the race brief. The finish of the race was also the HQ getting coaches down to the start after the race brief, which was a classic MudCrew race brief. Light hearted yet covering all the key essentials with a dash of humor and realisation that the average DNF rate for the race is 54%. Just what you want to be mulling over for the hour bus journey to the start. The atmosphere was good and a real sense of community & solidarity between the runners and spectators alike. The feeling that this race is “proper hard” yet not commercialised or taken over with elite entries with small numbers (223 starters) and over 300+ local volunteers to make it happen makes it feel special for everyone involved.

Whist on the bus down the rain came in and with 40 mins stood at the start in Coverack waiting for 12noon I wasn’t nervous strangely. Chatting to family and my crew who had come to support was a nice distraction. With the MudCrew introducing the 12 seeded runners prior to the start there was an air of anticipation, buzz and the flairs went off and away we went…. 101.9 miles to go.

The start was a bit surreal with the first hour or so just thinking I have finally made it and am actually in this race, however not really feeling any different to being out for a training run. There was no weight of expectation or dread of the huge distance ahead. I guess that was due to having broken it down in my head at Porthleven by night fall, Lands End by midnight, St Ives by morning and finish before dark. I kept it all segmented, not allowing myself to think about the total miles left, just miles until I saw my crew next, or my next incentive (normally food based like the Double Decker to be given to me at Zennor) or sunrise.

The first 5 miles was a bit of a bun fight, single file backed up, stop start as people jostled for position. With greasy mud underfoot a lot of people were slipping all over the place heading to Kennack sands. Funnily enough I was wondering why people were running on the slippery mud and not on the rough grass to the side of the path. So I managed to get a good position taking the better ground underfoot. I bumped into a chap I ran with for a bit in a 100km race last August also organised by MudCrew. Its funny how you meet the same people, only recognising him by the sound of his voice from chatting.

Coming into Kennack sands it was great to see even more support of friends Mike and Rosie who had, for some reason, wanted to come and support me for the entirety of the race, even through the long dark night. It was really good to see them and they proved to be life savers for me and my crew later on.

The weather was warm but wet so ended up running with no jacket and just getting wet and thankfully putting the gremlins of my calf and foot niggles to bed by the first 10 miles and soon that anxiety of injury fading. I found myself flying into the Lizard Point at 11am fairly fast and looking out for my support but it was pretty busy so carried on. I knew I was going a bit too fast as I was up with the female winner from the year before but felt ok so pressed on.

Having eaten so early in the morning and being 2-3 hours until we stared the race I was eating and drinking well, every 15min taking on either carb electrolyte drink or solid food in alternating fashion. So coming into Kynance Cove I needed to restock with food/water from my crew who weren’t expecting that, neither was I expecting my support growing with my in laws. A little grumpy that I was being held up I wasn’t the most pleasant with the speed of refuel and run off already kicking myself I was being an ass to my crew already. So next time I saw them I apologised and was far more positive. I did joke thinking there was going to be a lot of strops and apologies and I wasn’t wrong.

So Mullion came and went, feeling good and on time/ pace for 27/28h finish. I was very thankful of doing 2 main reccys of the route between the Lizard and the Minack theatre as regardless of it being dark if you recognise bits of the trail It massively helps with the navigation.

Heading over Looe bar it was misty and knew I would be coming into the first check point before dark and in a good time at 4.46pm 25 miles down, a very respectable start, possibly too fast but I knew I would slow down. I needed a good start to psychologically get me in a positive head space. This particular race that MudCrew puts on is like no other I have raced or heard of. You have an individual valet that runs/walks you in to the check point from the coast path and then hands you over to an “Arc angel” who basically waits on you hand and foot getting you food, water, refills, bags of food to take with you and all the positivity/ support you need. It is amazing to chat and talk to someone, a key to keeping sane as after hours without contact or only passing conversation with other runners. The lack of company is on major disadvantage of running your own race and not buddying up. So I flew in and out of the checkpoint just having a veg soup and half a roll to keep little and often going in. I then came out of the check point and pit stopped with my crew to refill and get the head torch on ready for the darkness.

So leaving the Porthleven it was more greasy mud that made it very difficult to get any purchase and made a relatively runnable section harder than it needed to be. Switching on the head torch at 5.30pm was the start of 14hours of darkness, not switching it off until 7.30am the next day. There were a few deviations along route but minor and being with a few others helped not get lost at this point. We came into Rinsey head at around 6pm passing an old tin mine and was all rather atmospheric. Seeing my crew again and saying good night to my parents was I think more worrying for them than me. It seems like I was very much in the head space of the current and not thinking too much about the long hours ahead. Keeping an eye on the times and splits I should be running in different sections to ensure I was on form my 27-30 hour finish was keeping my mind from wondering too much. A key was thinking about the positives and listing the 3 positives at that time. For example, at that point it would have been thinking: back and calf no issues, on schedule and well hydrated. I repeated this constantly throughout the race to keep me in a positive head space, which worked for the most part until the final 25 miles.

So coming in to Marazion and along the flat tarmac path into Penzance enabled me to keep a good 9-10 min/mile pace and make up some time. I managed to slip and fall for the first time navigating the huge boulder beach somewhere before this point and it wasn’t to be the last.

Heading into the Penzance checkpoint 40 miles down an 8.14pm I was very positive and feeling good. A slight niggle was coming into the left knee from tightness in the left quad, classic ITB runners knee. Having a quick stop at Penzance, again escorted off the road into the rugby club by my valet, I was handed over and met with meat balls and boiled potatoes, a winning combo. There was Steve from Film My Run you tube channel filming the live coverage for the Arc and he soon started chatting to me seeming as there was only one other runner at that time in the check point. I didn’t realise that my wife and other supporters were watching this at home. It was quite funny as I was just having a little chat. Again in good spirits as I left I knew I wanted to get to Lands End by midnight ish and if I could still be in the game at that point, as in, not injured, not knackered and keeping hydrated I knew it would be a good stepping stone to get to St Ives by morning.

People who run/ talk about this race all mention the dreaded Pendeen to St Ives section, and rightly so, but they say that if you can get to St Ives before the cut off (2pm) and without to many issues (there is always an issue) you will finish bar any disasters. This was always in my mind too as a clear target for the night section.

I left Newlyn after persuading my crew to bog off and get food before I met them at Lamorna, 5 miles away (about 60min run at best at night over that terrain). This was my favourite part of the race that sticks out in my mind. In the thick of it, the best terrain for running the undulating trail with coarse big granite boulders everywhere to scramble over, looking down to the left to see in your head torch beam the cliff dropping away and the sea below. Great fun and knowing there was some risk too made you more focused. The feeling of running this section will stick with me forever.

At Lamorna cove, one of my favourite spots in Cornwall, I decided to foam roll my leg as at this point my leg was getting annoying and wasn’t sure if it was muscular or worse. It really helped as I pushed on to the Minack theatre, half way, taking a huge positive that it was only muscular. Getting to the Minack I was happy I was halfway and still on track time wise and felt positive having run the last 50 miles of this race the year before in the Arc 50 however not in the dark. I felt good. I was met with a surprise that my friend, James, had driven 2hours to meet me and my crew at the Minack. A great surprise and boost to the moral. He holds the world record for cycling solo across Europe, Russia to Portugal in 28 days nonstop over 2500miles. He said I was stupid running 100miles so from him that was funny and ironic but great to have his support. He stuck around until Sennen at 1.30 am before he drove 2 hours home. Massive respect for his support and effort to come and see me. Again, rolling at the Minack helped ease the leg for a couple of miles before it came back.

Heading to Lands End was arduous, it never seemed to get any closer. A disadvantage of not being able to see what is in the distance. So this is where my memory gets a bit vague, the last 50 miles, especially the dark miles in the early hours of the morning started to get tedious and had to switch off totally. Whether that’s normal for fatigue and tiredness or whether it was a coping mechanism I used to allow the time to pass on by I am not sure.

Either way I came into Lands End very relieved to finally get there and a bit slower than expected at around 1am, however still making good time. Here again lead in and cared for by the Arc angels but also made use of the medics at this point. I managed to get one to release my TFL and glut so it was easier to run for about 2-3 miles before it came back. It was fascinating how the body would hurt, give it an hour to two and it would pass and something else would complain instead. From Lands End I saw my crew at Sennen Cove where I refueled and I think it was at this point where I started to get sick of what I was eating. My mashed slightly salted avocado ½ white bread sandwiches were brown and getting mushed whilst in my pack and I was going to the toilet far too much so decided to dial down on the electrolytes and salt intake and keep up with the water.

After getting some help from the last years female winner coming out of Sennen not get lost I was on to Cape Cornwall. Very little was said and we both continued on. Struggling a little at this point it was great to see my crew on an unplanned point prior to this- Porth Nanven. I was starting to become a bit negative at 3am, as you would. At cape Cornwall I managed to roll and rethink my food options coming in. Switching to eating a bit more and natural (ish) things, pineapple, mango. Soreen cake worked well and getting the chocolate bars into me. At 200-250kcal I knew as long as I kept one chocky bar going in an hour I would be ok.

I was very fortunate with the weather on this race. It didn’t rain at all night and it was relatively mild. I was planning on changing my shoes to more aggressive Mafates shoes but didn’t feel that it would stop me from slipping or falling any less. Also didn’t want to tempt fate in getting blisters by changing shoes. However I did have to reapply sports glide to stop unwanted chafe which hadn’t set in yet surprisingly. I kept with the Speedgoats and slowly walked out of Cape Cornwall eating and trying to list the positives, which there were still a few, but harder to keep in present thought.

Around Cape Cornwall there are lots of path variations to get lost on, I felt I took the long way into Cape Cornwall but nailed it getting out. Following the signs and my nav route on my Fenix 3 Garmin was a life saver. Heading to Pendeen was tough knowing it was going to be the hardest section expecting to average nothing under a 20 min/mile pace. Heading towards the light house at Pendeen there was the eeriest of howling winds. Only emphasised the atmosphere of running through and past all the old tin mine workings/ruins. I think It was around 4 am at Pendeen and Mike and Rosie had rejoined the crew giving my wife and brother a top up of moral and hot drinks. By this point I wanted coffee and positivity and the four kept that coming in spades. I was worried about my crew at this point too as I was well aware about what I was putting them through for my own gain. Hoping they would be able to sleep before I arrived at Zennor 7 miles away that would take me about 3-3.5 hours to cover. At this point I was aware I needed change my head torch battery too, easier to do with other people holding light than in the pitch black once it run out.

I sloped off and straight away hit a navigational issue walking and pointing in different directions searching for the path that was so vague. I knew this was going to be the next 13 miles and didn’t help my mind set. Followed by knee deep bog, jumping along granite stepping stones and 20+ min/miles popping up on my watch it was tough to stay positive. By this point I hadn’t seen another runner since Cape Cornwall and didn’t see one again until Zennor- about 4-5 hours of solitude in the darkness, keeping my thoughts within my beam of my head torch. This 3 hours went in a blur and apart from seeing Rosie and mike pop up in the middle of nowhere about an hour after Pendeen, which was hilarious and surreal, I can’t really remember much. Following seeing Mike and Rosie, literally after grabbing a banana and plodding along in pain now, I slip and fell over just out of sight and they just heard me curse and see my head torch beam going around in circles. They shouted over and asked if I was ok. I had fell over again and with falling catapulted my walking pole over the edge of the cliff. Better the pole than me I guess. My first thought was am I ok, which I was, second was that’s an expensive pole and using one without the other was pretty pointless. So I went about retrieving it a couple meters down the cliff from a bush. Probably not the best idea in hindsight but I wasn’t thinking and needed those poles if I were to finish as my legs were getting a beating of their lifetime.

Plodding along it was getting towards 7am and I was getting closer to Zennor, a remote point that your crew could meet you at but only accessible via foot. I however realised as I left Pendeen they had the wrong timings from what I was working on and I would be arriving 30 mins before they would be there. So getting to a meet point I thought was correct, I was 45mins early. With no signal I had to decide to carry on with not enough water or head inland to the road to find them. If I carried on it could be bad running out of fluid but more so they won’t know I had gone past them. I deiced to head inland, getting to the road cursing that I hadn’t corrected their time sheet. Getting to the road I wasn’t in Zennor and it took a bit of time to click, once I rechecked my phone map, I was in the wrong place and had wasted 30 minutes and covered an extra 1.5 ish miles whilst loosing places to people behind me. I was furious with myself and double timed back to the coast path and picked up where I left off after going around in circles trying to find the onward path. I was in a an utter tizz and beating myself up, pushing far too hard thinking I needed to make up time. Repassing people I had passed before whilst calling myself a dickhead repeatedly. I had a few conversations with myself out loud along the 100miles, some more statements than conversations.

Seeing the correct meeting point across the valley at Zennor as the sun came up was a great relief but not seeing my crew there was even more stressful. The sun was coming up and it was 7.30am which was a great positive but I was still reeling my own mistake. As I walked up the hill towards other people’s crew I saw my crew walking/running down the path to meet me. I was on go fast, non-conversational, pissed off Lee mode. I tried to explain what had happened but I don’t think they understood my negative rambling. I topped up with water, got my motivational nutritional nugget, a Double Decker, and run off like an Lonny. Seeing my crew looking a bit worse for wear I didn’t even stop to ask or consider if they had managed to get some sleep and after speaking at the end of the race my wife was too worried about me, not being able to track me or missing me, she got maybe 30 mins.

I felt I had slipped into a dark bubble however no longer in the darkness. I was running too fast and beating myself up about going wrong and then being stressed in front of my crew. It took me some time to calm down, I started to sort my shit out. I had to slow up as I knew I couldn’t make up 30 mins by running faster, it wasn’t possible, it would just end me. I had to change my layers as I was getting too hot and had to carry on eating. I had to calm myself down and as I ate my rock hard Double Decker I laughed as this was my reward, my carrot dangling on the proverbial stick to get me through the last 20ish miles, however I was just rewarded with a work out for my jaw! Bad choice.

So I started to actually look around and appreciate the surrounding and the bleak bueaty of this section of the coast line heading into st ives. Passing a few runners, who were having difficulties themselves, someithng I learnt is very few people finished this race (49%) let along without issues or lots of pain, was encouraging. I was annouyed as now my R hip was starting to play up and also by this point the left knee had settled in for good with the left ankle anterior tendons starting to feel the strain of not picking my leg up as much due to the knee.

Again Mike and Rosie popped up out of nowhere which was again a needed nugget of positively from them, however negative I was they were always so encouraging and couldn’t tell them to F off or shut up and as a result it brushed off on me. 

Coming over a brow of a hill to see St Ives in the distance as the sun broke over the horizon was a sunrise I won’t forget yet I had zero intension of fucking around to get my phone out to take pictures. As I made my way towards St Ives I fell in the exact same place as on the 50miler last year, I got up, within a meter I fell again! F**k OFF. All sense of humor had been beaten out of me. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt unlike last year but pissed off. It was great to have support from strangers as I came into St Ives but didn’t really know what to say apart from thank you, thinning in the back of my mind I still had 22 ish miles to go. Having already added on 4ish extra miles somehow. Making it 83 miles instead of the 79 miles MudCrew stated. This also was killing me mentally knowing I had done more than I needed.

I stopped with crew and rolled feeling suitable broken at this point, their infectious positively helped and that positivity carried on in the final check point. Being picked up by my valet and cheered on my traveling fan club (parent & in-laws) was great though slightly behind on my planned fastest pace but still within a sub 30 time I was relieved to get to the checkpoint, only after the valet took me up the wrong street (&hill) to get to it. I had no energy to tell him my thoughts of his detour, probably a good thing.

My mood turned around as the Angels looked after me with coffee, rice pudding whilst I got my foot looked at by the medical team, just a blister taped and then off to the therapists to get my glut and TFL released. The longest stop of 25 mins and the most pain I’ve felt on a treatment table for a long time but worth it. I came out in the sunshine to walk and give my crew a call to update them. The next bit was 7 miles of tarmac through to Hayle, the legs feeling relativity better leaving the check point but it didn’t last long as the pounding took its toll. I hobbled into Hayle to my crew, thankful that was the last bit of flat tarmac done. I was getting concerned about my ability to keep running at this point and having thought it was the “easy bit left of 22 miles” it dawned on me I still had to actually run, walk, crawl those last 22 miles and there isn’t such a thing of easy miles after you’ve already been running 23 hours and 80+ miles. At this point I had to take off my heart rate monitor chest strap as it had chaffed and broken the skin on my chest so there was no way of gauging how hard I was working or if I was dehydrated via an elevated heart rate. I spoke to Michelle, my coach, telling me to ditch planned paces and run/move on perceived exertion, knowing that the next 16 miles over the dunes and cliffs to Porthtowan had very runnable/ploddable sections. I however was struggling with pushing off my right leg through my hip and my left leg just hating having to bend and lift. All I was concerned at this point was figuring out whether I would still make the 30 hour cut off I was aiming for. I knew I would finish even if I walked the whole way but I didn’t put in the hard training to just complete it without putting in the best effort/representation of myself. I set out to finish this thing under 30 hours and wasn’t going to let the wheels fall off now.

Leaving Hayle into the Dunes of Doom, aptly named for the issues for navigation (especially when dark), I was still able to keep plodding on the flat and downhill bits and made good progress. It was such a gorgeous day with the sun out yet windy but definitely was not cold. I made it into Godrevy in good time with 11-12 miles to go. I was pretty broken at this point and my intentions of running had evaporated with pain on each step forward. After a quick roll and restock I set off feeling pretty dejected at how much of a cripple I was and not wanting to be finishing this race broken. I had felt so good and literally overnight resulted in being broken and negative. I felt like all the training I had done hadn’t worked or been enough to finish the way I had imagined. Yes, I would finish but I didn’t expect it to physically hurt this much and for my body to fall apart in the process, especially in ways I’ve never had issues with before. As I plodded out of Godrevy over the cliffs it was 1pm and people were looking down onto the sandy beaches below at seals, I was not in the mood to be adoring mother nature. I tried to keep the legs moving but only met with no real different in my min/mile pace and just more discomfort and pain. My poles were my friends and felt I was slightly getting emotional at this point, tired and again not having had a normal conversation (not about running!) with anyone for hours/a day. With only race related chat with other runners and my crew or support I was going slightly bananas. I was feeling really crap at this point and got my wife to walk with me for a mile or so just to chat and feel a bit better. All that was going on in my head was the math in how long it would take to walk the last 8-9 miles. 3 hours at best. That was a killer when I was ready to stop. Being far too stubborn to stop I had to keep going.

It was hard to accept the positive encouragement from people as I got towards the end as the pain/ discomfort got worse and couldn’t break my negative undertone in my thinking. I decided to distract myself from the pain with music and plugged myself in which I very rarely do and didn’t want to have to but it was the only way. Coming into Portreath with 4 miles to got I was more positive and felt ready for the final push. Slightly underestimating 4 miles seeing the coast in the distance I had forgot the about the last 4 big dipper/stepped hills before the finish line. It went on and on and on. Four people passed me and there was nothing I could do and I didn’t even want to chase them, I couldn’t, literally couldn’t run at this point or it was pointless as it was no faster than my hobbling walk. As they disappeared into the distance I realised it was further than I thought. As I saw them go past the next cove and step cliff and then the next my heart sank. I knew the finish wasn’t quite in my sight. All I could do was to keep my head down and have faith that the miles would pass. This is where I was only being able to go down or up steps leading with my left leg with a heavy assist from my poles, to stabilise me down and heave my ass up. My nan could have climbed stairs quicker.

Those last 4 miles were agony. Finally getting to the last mile or so I ran out of water. I was putting off changing my top as the sun was getting lower the wind had picking up and it was getting cooler. I didn’t want to stop and waste more time changing and faffing, a big mistake. I wanted to get off the cliffs first which took longer than expected. By this point I was bitterly cold and out of water. With no crew in Porthtowan, which I hadn’t asked them to be I had to rely on some marshals for half a liter of squash, a life saver, I then put on all the warm clothes I had and shuffled up the valley. I knew I had left it too late to change and was slightly hypothermic and dehydrated, neither good but I managed to hit a new PB for the worst min/mile pace…. 33 min/min for my last ½ mile to the finish. It was an subdued crawl up the last hill, a sting in the tail as MudCrew described it. I had to stop twice on the way up to ensure I didn’t faint/fall over as knew my exertion was way higher than it should have been for walking a hill. I was met at the top by Steve filming the live coverage for MudCrew which was a surreal experience chatting to me as I made my way to the finish line.

I mustered a hobble for the last 50 meters to cross the line at 28h18m38s at 4.18pm to be met by Jane the race director and my gold bucket for finishing in sub 30hours. I stopped and was just awash with emotion as Serena came to hug me and I broken down in tears, so happy to have finished a long term goal I had been driving towards for years, for ending 28hours of a bizarre and surreal experience and for the pain to be finally over. I couldn’t help it. All on a live feed, great, everyone could see me. I sat down and took it in. It was great to have my friends and family around me but was so cold and tired I had to head into the indoor area and put on another layer whilst sitting next to a radiator. My support weren’t allowed into the area so it gave me some time to just sit and relax. I warmed up a bit after 20 mins. I had a massage but took me a good 5 mins to try to get off my shoes, socks and tights which were disgusting! I fell asleep on the couch as they flushed my legs through and although they felt a bit better for it as stood up tentatively I lost my hearing and made my way over to my family just to sit down on the floor next to a wall feeling very light headed. Another 10/15 mins passed as I felt bad that I couldn’t have a conversation with my support and thank them and engage with them. They had been trailing around after me for 28 hours and then I was just a flop at the end. However, I was in slightly better shape than a runner being helped in by two people! As I drunk a lot of water and another half hour passed my extended support left and was with Mike, Rosie, Serena and Paul. We stayed there until I was able to drink ½ a beer, have a chat and support those that were still coming in. I was starting to come around. It just all felt like a dream and all I had to show for it was that I couldn’t walk without immense effort, a big gold buckle and a million phone notifications.

After a good 2 hours I was ready to leave and it was dark, heading down to our accommodation to have a shower and get out for some food. I was surprised I still didn’t feel tired and after a shower I felt pretty good. The pub was only 30m away from our accommodation but took me a good 5mins to “walk” there. I was still bitterly cold sat in the pub for at least half an hour with my thermal jacket on sat at the table. It was funny you could see others hobbling around who had run, either distances. I managed a pint of Guinness and a burger, taking it slow to make sure I didn’t see it again. I was slapped in the face by tiredness halfway through the meal and it was like someone had switched the lights off.

I managed to make it home and with people still coming in form the race in the driving rain at 10pm my heart went out to them but was so grateful I had managed to avoid a second night.

Up early the next day and taking a good couple of hours going through messages of support I was overwhelmed. We went up to the awards ceremony and I was blown away hearing how fast the winners of the 100m and 50m were. Two of the 3 males on the 100m podium were 100mile first timers! Incredible. The camaraderie on this run is like no other race or event I have ever been too, for this reason I would love to come back and run the 50 mile race again or just be in Cornwall to support and watch people running past in the future. It’s a very special race and you really notice this through talking to and watching people in and around the race. It is something I will never do again, the 100miles hurt so much and was a one off bucket list goal for me that took over my life for 6 months in the lead up that it just doesn’t work in my current lifestyle without great financial/social cost. My wife has that on camera and something I stick by even 3 weeks post-race as I write this. Still having not been for a run since, it has taken longer than expected to recover physically from the ankle and hip issues I had. It was taken this long to digest it all too, hence why I am writing this was a way of processing the whole event.

Having completed this truly unnecessarily feat of physical endurance, mentally pushing to find those boundaries of what is humanely possible, I have experienced what most don’t ever get chance to pursue or explore. The take home message for me is the body is far stronger and way more resilient than you realise. The mind however can be fickle yet can be trained to override the physical limits/discomfort and therefore makes anything possible. Belief in achieving it is key, if you lose that believe you become mentally fragile and likely not to succeed. Train the body but don’t forget to train the mind.

106.5 miles ran. 28h18m38s. 22nd of 111 finishers. 20th male. 51% DNF rate. Never again.

P.s. a massive thank you to all the support and well wishes from my friends, family, clients, colleagues and randoms that kept me going slightly more positive than if I was left to my dark thoughts.

By Lee Weston, Jan 27 2020 04:15PM

This is the first of 2 blogs covering my first, and most likely (hopefully) my only, 100 mile ultra marathon. I felt like it could be a good insight for those who run and those that don’t to understand the reasons why you would want to attempt 100 miles, the training and all the other logistics and things you may not have even realised were a thing.

So this leads to the Why?! This seems like a very good question even to myself as I sit writing this a week ahead of the race. Thinking of how I will be feeling this time next week after running for over 25+ hours. The answer is very difficult to explain and only those who really know my character would essentially be able to grasp. Having being asked this the most out of all the questions I will try to explain.

I only started running after needing to a way to keep fit around my work after moving to Bristol and giving up rugby. This led me to doing my first marathon in Oct 2015 and went surprisingly well considering when I was playing rugby I thought running a marathon was a stupid idea. After that I ran a 40 miler in May 2016, skipping straight to an ultra distance, The Quest, along the north Cornish coast. Home for me and although a massive jump up in distance I really enjoyed it and surprised myself with coming 13th overall and 12th male. I think this was when I heard about the Arc of Attrition (AoA) run by MudCrew, the 100mile (ish) winter ultra marathon with a 36 hour cut off and 6000m (ish) of elevation around the Cornish coast from Coverack to Porthtowan. And whilst I was sitting in the pub post-race struggling to eat a burger after 9+ hours of running, totally broken I was just in awe of anyone being able to run 100miles let alone on that terrain, in winter.

It wasn’t even a dream, I knew it was impossible for me, physically, mentally, every aspect. Skipping through 2017 with another trail marathon and ultra (31miles which went badly) and a crazy solo 3 peaks hike and cycle it came to 2018 where I had been inspired to do 100km in Austria that was a bit hilly. It was different, a challenge, with good time cut offs, beautiful surroundings it was a weekend away with a friend and a 64mile (ish) run. Training went really well and in hindsight I had probably trained enough that I was capable of running much more than 100km as post-race felt really good. Good for having run 65miles & 4300m elevation. This was the tester; this was when I felt that 100m could be physically possible. So I went about working out how to gain qualification for the AoA. I managed to gain a ballot entry to the Arc 50 (50miles, the baby brother of the AoA) to see what it was like running a winter ultra with only 1 checkpoint. Again, pushing myself to the limit I finished 5th and gained qualification for the AoA, however again I was broken with back issues and unable to eat towards the end of the race and for the rest of the day. I had a lot to learn. I had entered another qualifier, The RAT Plague 100km before the ARC 50 just in case I didn’t finish it. So another 100km starting at midnight and coastal so a nice intro into night time running in the summer. Again finished feeling better but having a few bumps along route and 4 hours quicker than my 100km the year before. This was all confidence building but knew a massive step up to the next race, the A race, the main goal.

After 4 years since hearing about such a stupid race thinking it was an impossible feat, to getting myself into a position where I felt it could be possible it has then taken 2 years of planning & prep to get to where I am now. Physically prepared to complete it, quietly confident, mentally prepared to complete it, unknown. I guess that’s the key thing I have learnt is that they body is an amazing machine, it will adapt, get stronger and deal with whatever you throw at it given the right preparation. Some things you can’t physically prepare for and it doesn’t matter how fit you are if you’re not mentally prepared and motivated to finish a race then you most likely won’t and will DNF. This is the element that drives me to keep on testing myself and why I am toeing the start line to one of the UKs hardest 100milers as my first one, apart from loving Cornwall and the south west coast path, it’s the unknown limits of what your mind can achieve and what it can make your body do. I’ve not found that limit yet and although I don’t want to fail in finding where that limit is, I want to achieve something for myself that I truly believed 4 years ago was impossible. Plus I’m as stubborn as they come and won’t back down to a challenge I’ve set myself, this is a race against myself, no one else.

Hopefully that gives a bit of an insight to the why, the main question I get all the time. The short response for those I don’t have time to bore to death with the above is simply, why not? People think I am a bit mental but mostly we live within our comfort zone and totally unaware of what we are truly capable of, physically and mentally. I see so many amazing people of all ages, genders challenging themselves for many reasons in these races and all so social and keen to help each other as very few are truly in a race against anyone else, just themselves.

Training, logistics and all the other bits

The training is much like any other race but just jacked up on steroids, and this is where you find out that ultra runners are slightly “different”.

I will keep this bit as short and insightful as possible:

• A short run is 1-2 hours and not worth taking water or a phone, its more to carry.

• Getting up early is the only way to fit it in around life, 5 am get ups on the weekend and getting out is the only way to fit anything else in the day.

• Even as a PT I felt out of my depth with 3 months to go until the race and enlisted the help of an experienced ultra running coach, Michelle Maxwell, to help advise me on how to best train with the time I had. One of the best investments I’ve made as I have learnt so much and made my training time more. There is always room for speed and hill work even if you are running 100miles.

• With 6 months of training it has built to 12-16h of training a week plus stretching/maintenance takes its toll. Fitting it in around work and life gets hard to justify what you’re doing sometimes. With this in mind something always has to give, if it doesn’t you end up broken or disappointed.

• You hope and wish for understanding friends and family as they normally pay the price when you’re out running at 6am on Christmas morning.

• Also you need to be able to sweet talk them into being your Crew, supporting you and cheering you on between checkpoints, throughout the night in some cases, whatever the weather, ready to deal with whatever state you’re in, physically or mentally. I wouldn’t want to crew myself, I’m like Jekyll and Hyde.

• Strength training x 2 week of high weight and low reps, programmed properly, has been a game changer for me and feel it’s really corrected my errors from my last 100km training program. Stronger means faster, more efficient, more resilient and proven to incur less injuries.

• Training is all about volume, low intensity for 80% of the time getting in easy miles over the same type of terrain and then 20% being higher intensity. Time of the feet is key whether its walking or running. I’ve done nothing more that a 28mile run in one go leading to this race but have been hitting 60-80 mile weeks with back to back run over multiple days on training peak weeks.

• The key to ultras is to run the flat (shuffle or mince as my wife describes my running style), walk the hills (this is when you eat, the best bit!) and run the down (if you can). I estimate I’ll probably walk ~30-40% of the course (hills and just generally being broken towards the end). This conserves your energy instead of wrecking yourself by mile 50, that’s unless you’re a pro.

• Rest is not to be ignored. Sleep is king. Rest allows the body to respond to training, recover and get stronger to the demands your placing on it. However there is a very fine line between over doing it and everyone is different. Resilience to training demands, illness, stress & tiredness, physically and mentally isn’t to be shied away from when the going gets tough. Sometimes you just have to get it done however bad, low or knackered you feel. This is something an app or coach can’t tell you; this is about knowing your body and feel for the training. This feeds into the resilience/stubbornness one needs to finish a race that will hurt, a lot.

• Always take toilet roll with you on a run! From my experience it’s a life saver and leads you on a trial and error approach to pre and during race nutrition. Be Prepared to try eating anything and everything to keep your stomach from churning.

• Getting use to eating whilst on the move is key, you only aim to offset your calorie expenditure and you should never be working hard enough in a race to exhaust carb stores, mostly getting your energy from stored fats. Slow and steady, whilst eating, wins the race.

• Kit, kit and more kit. I have lost tabs on the cost of what I have spent on kit and would make me feel a bit sick if I knew how much it all was. However, the right kit is a game changer. There is no such thing as bad weather just bad kit.

• Holidays are normally a disguise to your loved ones for an excuse for a reccy of the race route or chance for a training run in a fun new environment. However you dress it up its hard to hide a 3-5 hour run.

• During a 100m race its unlikely to need to sleep even if it does take you the time limit of 36 hours. Key to this is caffeine, however this may lead to use stomach issues if relied on. Better still is ensuring your fully rested the days leading up to the race. Lots of runners have experienced hallucinations, it not uncommon.

• I find having multiple, flexi goals are important for a race of any length. For this race number 1 absolute goal is to finish, whatever it takes and having all possibilities covered/planned for. The rest will be flexible and will change to get me to where I need to be. For example best case scenario goals are the times to checkpoints to run a sub 30 hour, breaking that down I’ll know min/mile paces I need to make in sections and distances to the next check point. Ticking them off as I go and changing the ‘goal’ posts as I need to if the going is good or bad, which will happen.

• As a result of the above you’ll be a mental arithmetic ninja by the end of your training, it’s the best way to keep your mind busy whilst on the long runs, converting mile to km and min/mile pace to min/km and anything else you can calculate to keep your mind off your dying legs. I strangely find music an annoyance and want to enjoy the environment I am running in, even when its dark. My killer playlist only comes out if the shit hits the fan and I need a beat for my legs to follow.

So for me all the planning and preparation is almost over and it’s not long until race day, well to see if 4 years from inception and 2 years of training can make this personal challenge possible.

By Lee Weston, Oct 14 2019 02:46PM

00.05 am of 10th of August was the start of the Roseland August Trail (R.A.T.) running event/festival of which I was partaking in the 100km/64 mile Plague event, the longest of the 4 distances (11, 20 and 32 miles) but not the stupidest with a 24 hour Bring Out Your Dead (BOYD) event.

As with all of the MudCrew events I have taken part in it was amazingly organised and not afraid of a bit of bad weather. As other events in the south west were being cancelled like Boardmasters in Newquay, the R.A.T. was not to be delayed or cancelled with only a few well communicated logistical alterations to the event as a whole. As a result the event went ahead and as a competitor it was an amazing experience and well worth the wait from not being able to enter last year.

The evening started off wet but after registration and the customary theatrical start of the race with drums beating, green flares and some fire juggling, we under way just after midnight and only got caught in a shower at about 48/50 miles into the race. Not bad for being in the middle of a storm.

So the usual with regards to a coastal ultra MudCrew event, lots of hills (4200m), technical coastal terrain (badger holes and greasy downhill mud slides included) with a well marshalled and marked course (mostly self nav though). My first long (over 1.5 hours) night event and it was an interesting learning curve. Being up since 8 am on the Friday and setting off at midnight to finish at some point the Saturday afternoon was a bit concerning when I couldn’t get a nap in and thought I may struggle with sleep deprivation towards the end. However, this wasn’t the case but it was more the focus of running at night with very little peripheral vison allows you to get in the zone and the time flew by. Saying that it was getting a bit tedious towards the morning running a large 16mile sections mostly by myself, and how easily it is to get lost, even with a Garmin route map. It did save me going further off course and a valuable lesson learnt, its worth stopping and double checking and if you’ve got a watch with a route application on it learn how to use it.

So with a great sunrise to see in Saturday morning all was going well for the first half until 32-36 miles where my stomach was not happy, even unable to eat the bacon sandwich provided at the checkpoint at 36 miles by the amazing checkpoint crew. I wanted to eat it so badly but just couldn’t stomach it. So lesson number two was to sort out hydration and electrolytes for further races. The Tailwind that I was using and recommended by so many, just isn’t for me so on to the next. Back to the banana, orange and salted peanut combo to help settle the stomach.

With the out and back course I was worried about the boredom of the return leg but seeming as I couldn’t see anything out the out leg it was great to see the landscapes on the way back.

From 40-45 miles I had to admit that I wasn’t as well conditioned as I thought I was and learnt lesson number 3, more terrain in training and increase the core work. I had to run with poles from 40 miles as my back wasn’t happy and in all honesty my legs were kind of done by mile 20.

Coming into the back 20 miles it was hot and a surprising win for the day was that I was able to keep more hydrated than in other pervious races. This meant I could stomach a post run beer and not be in a bad place. The support was also amazing with a big pub-based festival at The Ship Inn which was the location of the last checkpoint. It was great to have the 11, 20 and 32 mile competitors very supportive to the plague competitors and everyone encouraging each other regardless of their distance. We all had to complete the last 4 miles which was most possibly the hilliest 4 miles of the whole course.

Overall the race was a great event to attend with very cheap camping on site for the two nights, good food & coffee stalls open early to late with a bar and disco for those who could stay awake that long. I was in my sleeping bag by 9.30pm as I couldn’t stand on my achy legs or keep my eyes open any longer after 36 hours awake and 64 miles run. I would highly recommend this race to anyone. A key thing I’ve learnt in the last 9 months is to always review your own performance of the race breaking down into training, nutrition, hydration, kit and pacing etc. With a 14th place, 11th male finish and approx 4 hours quicker than my 100km last year I was very happy with the result and good stepping stone on to the next “main event” the Arc of Attrition 100mile winter coastal ultramarathon. There is always room to improve and I have my 3 lessons learnt from this race.

By Lee Weston, Jun 14 2019 12:20PM

Last month I went on a dissection workshop hosted by Kings College London Guys Hospital campus where a group of us spend 3 hours in the dissection lab in an effort to understand the human body a bit further. It was run by the Federation of Holistic Therapist (FHT) and a well know physiotherapist and author of many books, Jane Johnson. I cannot tell you how invaluable the experience was as a massage therapist or as a personal trainer working with individual’s day to day who have dysfunctions, injuries or asking for general advice on health and wellbeing with regards to their bodies.

A lot of people have been saying it’s a bit weird or creepy but if you look past the dead people and see them as bodies, machines, there is a great deal to learn from actually seeing the anatomy of the human in situ, in real life, and not from a diagram or drawing.

The most valuable lesson learnt from being guided around prepared prosections (limbs and torsos that have been preserved and dissected to differing degrees to show different anatomical structures) was that everyone is very slightly different in their structure, shape, adaptations and even different in the same duplicate structures within the body. For example we were looking at peoples scapulars, the shoulder blade, and the acromion. This is the point of the shoulder blade that projects over the top of the ball and socket joint which the collar bone attaches. This is a structure which one of the rotator cuff muscles the, supraspinatus runs under. It was demonstrated that the acromion can be different between individuals and also from left and right within the same individual. This could explain why some people or a shoulder joint maybe more susceptible to shoulder impingement.

Another great observation was the Iliotibial tract or the ITB band. This is a fibrous structure running down the outside of the upper leg from the hip down to the outside of the knee. Its function is to support the lateral aspect of the knee with the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and the gluteus maximus feeding into it. Observing these structures on different individuals showed that the TFL was not the same and could be and thick fibrous or so thin and spread that it was undeferential to the other fascia of the upper leg.

These and other observations allowed me a trainer and therapist to really understand how the bodies structure is varied between individuals and how very interconnected it is with the fascia being a key component in movement and function. It has just solidified how if you have a dysfunction or restriction in one area it will effect the body as a whole as it adapts to deal with it.

By Lee Weston, May 29 2019 02:34PM

These are just a few brief reviews of the last couple of running events I have done in March and May. The pros, cons and bits you can’t figure out from event websites.

The Jurassic Coast Challenge 22nd -24th March 2019

A multi day event held down in the beautiful Jurassic coast line of Dorset hence the name, and the objective being to run, jog or walk a marathon a day 3 days in a row. This event is superbly organised and a really good multiday event with people signing up for either 1, 2 or all 3 days. The operation has been refined over the many years its been put on by VO two Ltd which reflects in the very professional and smooth running of the event.

I signed up to this for getting some high mileage in over a few consecutive days whilst my wife was away on a Hen do. The draw being the navigation being easier than most on self nav trail running events as it was a coastal route and lots of provisions in the terms of aid stations and transport to and from the start/ end points each day. The idea of camping and packing all my own provisions for 3 days isn’t my idea of dipping my toe in the water of multiday events. The biggest draw was the location, not having been to Dorset nor seeing any of the famous coast line, I thought it would kill two birds with one stone.

The accommodation for a single participant couldn’t have been easier with it being very affordable and only a mile away from the Race HQ in Chesil Vista Holiday Park. This was in a new static caravan with 2 other participants, very spacious and all the mod cons required. The site even had a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and sauna free to use. The HQ was a great set up too, utilizing the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy with food being on offer for breakfast and dinner, event shop, registration and massages available.

The course itself was A to B, B to C, C to D in nature being mini bused out to the start each day and collected at the finish to come back to the HQ. All was well run with two groups, essentially fast and slow, being dropped off and set off at different timings allowing the slow group participants longer to complete. With very generous cut off times, allowing people to walk it, it’s a great event to enter as a first timer on a trail marathon or a multi-day event as it offers you the reassurance you can finish even if a lot of things don’t go your way on the day.

The course normally goes, day one Charmouth to Portland, day two Portland to West Lulworth, day 3 West Lulworth to Studland Beach. However there was a clash with another event along the same section of coast so it went in the order or day 2 then 1 and then 3. The course itself was overall really good providing great scenery, varied under foot (beach, shingle, paths, fields, steps, tarmac) and not too technical all the time. Personally, I enjoyed the end of Portland to West Lulworth as it got hiller and more scenic on the first day and also the whole of West Lulworth to Studland Beach, day 3. This for me was my favorite day as it had great scenery, challenging hills, flat runnable pavement at times to make up ground and time and a good long beach section to finish on. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the last 2 thirds of from Charmouth to Portland as it was behind Chesil beach, with sections on the shingle, unable to see the sea and mentally challenging meandering around the farm land behind the beach clocking up more mileage with the feeling of not getting anywhere.

Over all my mileage and elevation were as below:

Day 1- Portland to West Lulworth – 27.2 miles 1118 meters

Day 2- Charmouth to Portland – 28.6 miles 1092 meters

Day 3- West Lulworth to Studland Beach – 28.1 miles 1330 meters

Overall, I really enjoyed this race with the ability to sign up to as much as you wanted and still being about to achieve it within generous cut off times. Well organised with plenty of time to recover in good accommodation and services (food & massage) provided. Shame the accommodation wasn’t on site but this is only minor disadvantage but there was free car parking at both sites. A great event to do as an individual with lots of friendly people running but also fantastic one to do with friends, all in an area of outstanding beauty.

Cornish Imerys Trail Marathon 19th May 2019

My latest race back in my home county of Cornwall getting the chance to sight see around St Austell’s China Clay works, new and old. This was a great opportunity to run a trail marathon on a route which is not normally open to the public, with some spectacular views over the south coast and of the Luna-esk quarry’s of which the region is famous for.

The event was run by St Austell running club in partnership with Imerys and staged in the grounds of Cornwall college, which was idea, holding a fun run, half and full marathon. There was a really nice and friendly atmosphere and good provisions on site for parking, food and bag drop. The number pick up was held up as you had to find your number prior to picking it up which wasn’t communicated clearly when entering. With collecting your number you received a very good technical running T shirt, much better than the normal you get. The route was well marshaled with great signage and ample water stations throughout the course.

The course itself was a very runnable trail marathon, not being too steep on the gradients so if you were able to you could keep churning out the miles without stopping. I may have walked 4-6 times briefly which isn’t too bad for me. The trails were the same for the half and full until mile 8 when the full split off for a 13-mile loop to rejoin again at the same point to finish the last 5 miles into the finish. The weather was good so some really good views and the paths not being technical at all so you didn’t have to watch your foot placement all the time. This led to a more relaxed run and being on some very wide-open quarry roads made it unique. However, if the weather had been different the course is very exposed to the elements so could have been a totally different story. In total I made the elevation and mileage as: 917m 26.1 miles.

At the finish there were a number of supporters, family, friends and club supporters, which made for a nice atmosphere when your token medal, water and banana for your efforts. Food, drinks and ice cream were available for everyone to enjoy and support the remainder of the participants coming in whilst sitting in the sun.

Overall a great event and course which is well organised, marshalled and well suited for anyone who is going into trail running for the first time or for those wanting some different scenery on their trail events.

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