I first got into OCR in 2014, originally intending to do one Tough Mudder just for the experience! I wanted to raise money for The Neuro Foundation (now known as Nerve Tumours UK) as they had helped me through numerous surgeries and in dealing with my NF1. One Tough Mudder quickly became two. Add a Total Warrior and a World War Run, which is where I first encountered Mudstacle. Now, 5 years, countless Nuclears, Spartans, Nuts challenges, Dirty Weekends and more, I still love the sport that gave me a passion for running and fitness.
OCR acted as a gateway and over the last few years my running horizons have been expanding. It started with Rat Race Man Vs Mountain, which led to other Rat Race events, and my first Ultra with The Wall. I discovered that the bigger the distance, the tougher the terrain, the more I enjoyed the challenge. Now my race calendar regularly includes OCR, The Runs, 24-hour Endurance and Ultras.
Last year a friend of mine, Matt Buck, was attempting to set the FKT on the Greensand Way with Ben Whitfield, and was looking for people to join them for sections of the run. I planned to join them from the start for the first 20-30 miles until Matt asked me, "Why not just run the whole thing?"
So thats what I did. I joined Matt and Ben for 32 hours and 123 miles running from Kent to Surrey. The three of us now hold the FKT for that route, a feat for which 2014 me would never have believed himself capable.
Completing that FKT has piqued my interest for even more challenging endeavours.
Two weeks ago, I was glued to a live GPS tracker and a Facebook live feed as Jasmin Paris won the 2018 Spine Race, breaking the course record by over 12 hours. Watching the updates, seeing the terrain and stunning views along with the incredible feats of endurance, I had a thought. A dangerous, possibly stupid thought, but a thought none the less.
When applications for entries opened, I filled out the form and crossed my fingers and hit send. I'm not sure what I expected but 24 hours later and I was in.
Then it hit me. In 12 months I have to run 268 miles of The Pennine Way in what is known as one of the Worlds Toughest Endurance races. In winter.
"The Pennine Way National Trail is a 268-mile (429km) route from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, Scotland, tracing the backbone of England. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in the country, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over World Heritage-listed Hadrian’s Wall, on to the remote Cheviot Hills and, finally, that elusive village of Kirk Yetholm.
For the first time after entering a race I actually felt intimidated by what I had done. I still feel intimidated, but know I'm also excited by the challenge. Motivation, which has been a struggle since the FKT, is back and I have something big to aim for.
With a challenge as big as the Montane Spine Race there is a lot of preparation, training and planning to be done. My goal is to share each step of this journey with the Mudstacle Community and provide anyone looking at similar challenges or simply expanding their horizons beyond OCR, with a guide of sorts.
Over the next twelve months I hope to give regular updates looking at:
*Kit testing and reviews (the mandatory list is long and weight and comfort will be important).
*Training both mental and physical, the exhaustion and sleep deprevation will both be factors that could determine success or failure.
*Brushing up on skills like navigation and trek pole use.
*Nutrition. How do you fuel effectively for a race that will likely last over 100 hours in the cold?
*Race planning,. How to use the aid stations effectively.
*Interviews with previous participants.
I also want to try and answer questions anyone may have and if there is anything you would like me to focus on please let me know.