Event Report- The Millennium Way Ultra

Millennium UltraI have been delaying my write up of the Millennium Way Ultra. This has been because I don’t really know what to say or how I feel about it.

Don’t get me wrong- it was a great event, with the great organisation and friendliness that is typical of a Beyond Marathon event. It’s just that I… well I… kind of… erm…

Oh ok. I DNF’d. Yep- I didn’t finish. I dropped out.

DNF. Those three letters every endurance athlete dreads but which all must face, probably several times, over the course of their running and walking careers. And I faced them today.

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The Millennium Way Ultramarathon

On Sunday I am undertaking the longest event I have done for ages- the 38 mile Millennium Ultra Marathon following the route of the Millennium Way. The Millennium Way is a long distance trail created by Staffordshire County Council and crosses one side of the county to the other.

Beyond Marathon conceived the idea of doing the whole thing in one day- 11 hours to be precise. Although the route is predominantly flat, and along canal paths and disused railway line, there are stretches across fields which are unsurprisingly wet and muddy.

I won’t be able to get away with walking it so will need to use my shambling jog as much as I can. I am aiming to finish within the time limit, and enjoy the experience of crossing a county in a day!

A Grantham Canal Odyssey

Grantham CanalOn Saturday I walked out of my house, stepped onto the canal and followed it to its end in Grantham 32 miles away. I have done this walk once, years ago, and have always wanted to do it again, so with the Millennium Ultra coming up I decided to have a little adventure.

The Grantham Canal meanders for 33 miles from Grantham through the Vale of Belvoir to join the River Trent at Nottingham. It was opened in 1797 to enable coal and other materials to be delivered from Nottingham to Grantham, but during the 19th century it faced stiff competition from the new railways that were able to deliver goods much faster. Eventually the canal fell into disuse and is no longer navigable as many of the locks are derelict and bridges have been lowered.

It runs straight past my house and is the first thing I see when I look out the window in the morning. I have watched the swans and coots raise their babies on it  and have used it for many a training run, so I have a special affection for this canal. I had decided to start the walk from my house rather than try to get to the beginning a mile further back, and after filling my flask I set off into the pre-dawn darkness.

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A Walk around Worksop and Retford

IMG_1433As part of my training for the Millennium Way Challenge I needed to complete a fairly long walk on Sunday, particularly as I missed a week’s worth of training due to illness.

I dug out my copy of John Merrill’s Long Walks in Nottinghamshire with the intention of picking a walk in an unfamiliar area so it would be an adventure as well. I decided on a 23 mile route along the canal from Worksop to Retford and back along fields and through the woodland of Clumber Park.

I started my walk at the village of Bothamsall part way along the route as this was easiest for me, and set off along fields and tracks towards Clumber Park, an ancient tree lined mound of what was once a Motte and Bailey standing proud against the skyline behind me.

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Can Going to the Gym Help Build Endurance Fitness?

endurance adventuresWhat does the gym mean to you? The very word ‘gym’ seems to instantly divide people into two camps- the regular gym bunnies who can’t live without their several times a week work out and the gym-o-phobes who have a panic attack at the thoughts of setting foot inside a gym (or was that just my sister?)

Ok maybe there’s a third camp… the people who pay upfront for a gym membership, go a few times and then never darken the door again, but are reluctant to actually cancel their membership as they could no longer kid themselves that they will ‘definitely start going again next week’.

So, can going to the gym actually help you in your quest for endurance fitness? Does it have a place alongside the hours of running and walking we have to put in?


I think it does.

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Here’s To 2014!!

2014The chocolates are finished, the cards are in the recycling bin and the tree has been unceremoniously shoved back into the under stairs cupboard for another year… and so now is the time to turn our thoughts towards 2014 and the adventures that the year has in store…

I do love this time of year. It is a perfect period for pausing and taking stock of the year that has passed, and making plans for the year to come.

So without further ado here are my plans for the coming shiny New Year;

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My Review of 2013

Cares GorgeSo as we approach that quiet period between Christmas and the New Year (or the ‘arse-end of the year as one friend likes to call it) I love taking some time out to reflect on and review 2013…

In January I didn’t actually complete any events but did travel to the Adventure Travel show in Olympia where I saw James Cracknell and Ben Fogle speak, and got some great inspiration for future adventures- all I need now is lots of money.


During March I tackled the famously muddy Belvoir Challenge, a popular old favourite which takes place around the rolling countryside of the Vale of Belvoir.

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Norfolk Coast Path- Day Two

Norfolk Coast PathIt was a nice relaxing September weekend at Wells-Next-The-Sea as I strolled along the raised beach road path into the town with my family. My happy reverie was rudely interrupted when out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sign pointing out the Norfolk Coast Path. For a brief second it pointed right at me, beckoning me with a wooden finger and reminding me that I had unfinished business with this path…

… and so, the next day, I found myself striding down that same path with my trusty old Raidlight on my back and my route notes in my hand, as I attempted to knock a sizeable dent into the remaining half of my Norfolk Coast Path adventure.

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Lost in Sherwood Forest…

Sherwood ForestIt was getting dark. I was having trouble seeing the faint sliver of path as I fumbled my way along it, overshadowed by the tall pines of the forest. I could just make out the silhouettes of the trees surrounding me, black against the dark inky blue of the sky, the slightest sliver of daylight still visible on the horizon.

Soon, very soon, it would be gone and I would have real difficulty finding my way. I stomped along the track as fast as my aching muscles would allow, hoping that this was finally the path that would lead to where I had parked my car, several hours before.

If it didn’t, I was hopelessly lost.

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Stuck in a Training Rut? Read This…

WhattonI had a little revelation the other day. There I was, happily minding my own business, then wham- into my head it popped.

The revelation? I was in a rut. Sure, I was getting out there walking and stuff, but I was suddenly uncomfortably aware that I was just doing the same few routes all the time. All of them started from my house, and I had gotten into the habit of doing them because they were basically safe and didn’t require any thought or effort beyond the physicality of walking and running.

I knew just what to expect- no surprises, no uncertainty, and no I-wonder-if-there’s-a-herd-of-curious-cows-in-the-next-field.

And… it was boring.

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