Friday, 14 January 2011

Winter Tanners 30mi. 09/01/2011.

With the exception of the holiday fell races, I started 2011 as I'd finished 2010 – with an Ultra Marathon. The Winter Tanners is a 20-mile or 30-mile outing which starts from a carpark in Leatherhead. Thanks to Stuart's suggestion (and accommodation) I was doing an event I would never have done otherwise. The route is changed every year. It's organised by the Surrey Group of the Long Distance Walkers Association and it's low-key with minimal support, so it's embarrassingly cheap to enter too. I was to do the 30 with Stuart, while my brother and Stuart's Dad would do the 20.

After registering with Fiona in the carpark at the wallpapering table, we were off right on (our) schedule at nearly 08:30 into the frosty, sunny Sunday morning. The informal start-when-you-want arrangement helped with the low-key feeling.

There had been a lot of rain down south so we were soon diverted away from the banks of the swollen River Mole. The muddy fields would get us later. I became glad of my SealSkinz socks.

I won't bore the pants off you this time with an event description because I haven't got the time, and Stuart has already written an excellent account on his blog, so here's a short missive from my perspective.

This should be a low pressure saunter that eases you into a new year, but it wasn't low pressure for me. I can't help imposing a certain pressure upon myself to do my best (poor though it may be relative to others). The pressure was magnified because Stuart had agreed to run with me, but Stuart is younger and much faster than I ever was. It may not have been obvious without the occasional announcement of my sky-high heart rate (high 170s), but I was running beyond my limit for an ultra as Stuart bimbled along a few yards in front or waited for me at the tops of the climbs (and at the bottoms of the descents towards the end). I was grateful for the company but I was getting wasted.

The climb up to the final checkpoint was very steep. By the time I arrived, Stuart had enjoyed a cup of tea. I didn't want to delay too long (it was a good job I had my own Coke supply!) so we were soon off on the final 5 miles. As I devoted all my efforts to running and surviving (I was even relying on Stuart to do all the navigating now because I was too far gone to think), Stuart “Twittered” our progress to friends and family on his Star Trek communicator. The scenario so reminded me of the horse-racing sketch from the Harry Enfield show – one slogging his guts out to little effect and the other breezing past with no effort for the win.

At the final major road crossing with just over a mile to go, Stuart waited dutifully for me to catch up. He saw a small gap in the traffic and said GO. I couldn't. I could not trust my body to take me safely across within the 5-second window. The 30-second wait for the next gap gave me enough energy to cross safely, by which time Stuart had disappeared up the track to go for a sub-6-hour finish. I'd held him back for 29 miles and he was finally free to give of HIS best. He gained 8 minutes on me over that last 1+ mile for a 5:58 finish. WOW is all I can say.

I had a new camera and I used it a bit. Because I was slogging my guts out, there are only a few on-route pictures.


  1. looks like a grand day nick weather wise and underfoot. which camera did you acquire per chance?

  2. Good start to the year Nick.

    Top 50% in a fell race and a 30 mile ultra. Very impressive.

  3. UC my first was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX8, which served me very well through a few thousand miles of sweat 'n' rain on the hoof. Its first event was Western States 2006. I'm loyal, so I've gone for the same brand - Lumix DMC-FX700. It's an awesomne beast. It takes high definition video with stereo sounbd as well.

    Thanks Steve :-) Not quite up to your standard but I do my best ;-)

  4. You showed grit and determination as always Nick! We expect nothing less of you. It was a fantastic day out and thanks for the great company. Really enjoyable. I didn't run the following week but did get 50 miles on the ElliptiGO which is great for recovery too! Although the route to work is a little hairy :-O thanks for uploading the pics and video Nick. Greatly appreciated. Take care. I will look for an ultra up north later in the year to hook up again. Cheers

  5. Thanks Stu. It was a fantastic day. Thanks for sticking with me for so long. I appreciated it and enjoyed your company. I'm also pleased you seized the opportunity to go for that sprint finish :-)

    For the ultra up north, make it the High Peak 40 if you can. It's a beauty. I'm about to post my entry. I would have suggested the Bullock Smithy Hike, where I'm most likely to give you a run for your money, but I probably won't be doing that as it's the week after UTMB.