Race Reports

HARP 24 Hour Relay Challenge (and soloists) - report byTracy English, Ellie Kimber & Dean Ovel

27-28th June 2015

What a weekend!  An event that surprisingly LoSS had never had a team at in the previous 3 years. I pose the question, Why not? The event itself is now well established, with male and female categories for pairs, teams of 3-5, teams of 6-8, and the lunatic soloists. Running a 4.1 mile route around very pleasant surroundings including woods, fields and country park, the event tests the endurance of everyone there, including the timing team, by trying to complete as many laps as possible in a 24 hour period, from midday Saturday. Just in case you were hiding in a cave all weekend, this Saturday was hot, that pleasant 'I want to lay in the garden drinking marguerites' hot!. Needless to say, those running the early laps hurt.

This year, 30 members of the LoSS family made up the Harp24 crew either running or supporting. Arriving at 7.30am Saturday, within 90 minutes the LoSS base camp took shape, and was clearly the envy of the other 300 registered runners, with kit having been begged, borrowed and stolen (the skull & crossbones flag), we had more comfortable cushions than a Saga cruise ship in the Med.

Making up a team of 8, the LOSS ladies were: Laura McHugh, Helen Kidgell, Alison Hall, Jo Hall, Tracy English, Ellie Kimber, Michelle Roberts, Stephanie Simpson and Gail Alexander. With some tough competition from the likes of SAC, Flyers Southend and Rochford RC, the team came 3rd in their category and 14th overall, with a whopping 37 laps, which is somewhere around the 152 mile mark. Quite amazing. Rochford RC took 1st with 40 laps and SAC just behind with 39 laps. Close stuff indeed.

Dean Ovel, Sam Luton, Peter Golding and Elliott Cone all took on the solo challenge, and John Hannan popped down to run a couple of laps just for fun as he nothing else to do!

Over a 24 hour period the 15 LoSS runners clocked up an amazing 463 miles between them, with Dean Ovel completing the most solo laps (25) covering 105 miles and finishing in an impressive 2nd place. 1st place went to SAC's Jeff Bolton with 27 laps and a new course record.

Also running were Matthew Letley and Matibini Matibini, who could be seen sporting their LoSS vests all weekend whilst supporting the local hospital team. Well done guys!

In addition to the run miles mentioned, Jackie Camm, Eric Britton and Sian Ovel used the opportunity to practice walking through the night in preparation of the fast approaching 100k challenge. Finally checking out at some point past 1.00am Sunday morning, with Sian resuming support duties.

The support received by the wider LOSS family was overwhelming, with special mention to the following:

Matt Kimber and David English for giving up their Saturday morning to assist with setting up camp.

Denise Smoothy, who not only gave up her Saturday morning, but was also part of the planning team prior to the event, spent Saturday afternoon supporting and returned Sunday morning to make the weary runners an amazing Full English. She also brought along Blue the dog, our new team mascot!

Elisha Letley, Catherine Patterson, Tim Ketterer & Theresa Philips who kindly provided a much appreciated cleaning service keeping the camp tidy though late evening. Other supporters who came down to cheer and join in the fun including Vicky Parsons, Ezio & Poppy, Colin & Elisabet Barnes, Pete Karaiskos, Katie Spicer, Fiona Walker, Danny Flint, Adam Lysons and Niki Read, who along with Steph accompanied Dean on his last lap Sunday morning (Thank you guys, DO).

Of course, Stig the dog for stealing the limelight during the awards presentation, bounding into a few trophy photos and gaining many admirers from the crowd!

And last, but most of all, to Tracy English, for organising the ladies team and their personalised jumpers, setting up camp and sacrificing sleep to keep everyone on schedule. It's a shame she had to go off to work at 6am on Sunday and miss the finale, but she still managed to squeeze in her 5 laps and a shower before heading off.

With so many stories of individual running achievement, fun and frolics around the tent and support from the wider family, this email could turn into a book. To keep it simple... Tracy English's survival/first aid kit puts Bear Grylls to shame, Ellie Kimber should not take up impressions for a living, Alison Hall loves running so much that she added on a few extra miles for fun, Jo Hall learnt how to jump, Helen Kidgell fed the 5000, Michelle Roberts completing a mud obstacle course before kick - off, Stephanie Simpson should be on Blue Peter with the skills she showed with glow sticks, and where do we start with Gail, running, walking and swimming - just super woman! And bringing the team home after everyone had showered and was tucking in to breakfast, Laura was out on course bagging one last lap. What a trooper.

Great Barrow Challenge - report by Ellie Kimber

End of June 2015

Loren Murrell and Michelle Payne’s latest crazy challenge is the Great Barrow Challenge – Michelle is running 8 marathons in 8 days (currently on number 6!) and Loren ran 4 marathons in 4 days from Thursday to Sunday. The marathons are self navigated and over routes which consisted of cross country, trail and road; and most are over 26.2 miles so technically a mini ultra’s!


Loren covered 112 miles over 4 days in 25 hours and 50 minutes - all after only 14 months of running! Here is a quick summary of her expedition:


Day 1: Got lost. 27.1 miles in 6 hours and 1 minute.

Day 2: 27 miles no wrong turns, plenty of hills! 6 hours 17 minutes.

Day 3: Got really lost! I ended up doing 32 miles in 7.42. On a brighter note that is 1 hour 50 mins off my 50k PB and they gave me a certificate to say I've completed the ultra-rather than the marathon!

Day 4: 26.6 miles in an official time of 5.50 (the fastest of all days!)


Michelle is ¾ through her challenge to run 210 miles via 8 marathons in 8 days!  Have a look at both Loren’s and Michelle’s Facebook pages to see some great photos of them enjoying the running madness!



Sunset Relay 2015 - report by Elisabet Barnes

21-25th June 2015

Sunset Relay (sunsetrelay.com) is an event organized by Garnier  Ambre Solaire in partnership with Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL). The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of the sun. As the name suggests it takes the form of a relay, in which participants race the sun for 96 hours / ~1300km. The line-up included top athletes, business people, bloggers, journalists and celebrities who would run, cycle, row, paddle or roller skate.


Staged in the mythical and beautiful Swedish Lapland during the midnight sun, three main sections forming a triangle constituted the course of this first edition: Luleå à Hemavan à Abisko à Luleå. I took part in the second section with six other trail runners (Olof Häggström, Sylvain Court, Jonathan Wyatt, Elina Usscher, Linus Holmsäter & Maud Gobert) and we were running the famous national trail Kungsleden (”King’s Trail”) northbound from Hemavan to Abisko. This trail is 430km long and offers a great variety of terrain, much of which is more technical than one might think for such a popular trail. In this part of Sweden there is still snow in June and with an exceptionally cold start to the summer it was too deep to run in places. We therefore had some last minute alterations to the route and a helicopter was on hand to help us get to the runnable sections.


Kungsleden is an undulating path. Its highest point is the Tjäkta Pass at 1150 m above sea level. The ground is very varied including rock, trails in the woods with plenty of roots and stones, miles of narrow boards over swampy wetland, meadows, and stream crossings.  Although challenging it made the journey on this trail interesting and varied. The views were simply stunning and with the midnight sun it was easy to lose track of time. Was it 2am or 12pm? It was impossible to say without a watch apart from the temperature being a bit cooler at night.


I thoroughly enjoyed the running on Kungsleden. Sweden is my home country and although I spent time in the north as a child skiing and walking in the mountains it was a long time ago.  Travelling on this trail felt almost magical. I cherished this unique moment which seemed to encourage me to be present in the now, soaking up the beauty of the surroundings, listening to the roar of the water in the streams I passed and the birds singing in the trees. Occasionally I heard the sound of a branch cracking or leaves rattling on the ground as I disturbed some wildlife. I must admit that I was a bit worried about bears as I ran on the single track through those beautiful mountain birch woods by Abiskojaure Lake. However, it was probably very unlikely I would actually encounter any and all I saw were a few lemmings.


It was a great privilege to get the opportunity to take part in this event. Aside from the experience of the trail running I met some wonderful people. I would love to go back for an ultra-trail event or maybe run Kungsleden in its entirety. It has been done before by at least a couple of Swedish runners and makes for a beautiful but demanding holiday…


For more information about Kungsleden, go to http://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/en/Discover-Sweden/Facilities-and-activities/Lappland/kingstrail/


Videos from the event:





Berlin Marathon 2014 - report by Neil Spicer

28th Sept 2014

I usually make some notes after a Marathon for my own sanity. Thought you may enjoy reading too.

Target 2:40. Aim for an halfway at 1:20 and push for a negative split.

The Start
I was allocated Block B (PB 2:40 - 2:50) The start line was about 15 meters away, so no congestion ahead. Start was 08:45 and I was ready for the 3:47/km splits.

Frist 5k the pace went off fast, I held it back and went through 5k in about 19 mins. The course is dead flat and straight and the tarmac itself is far smoother than UK roads, there were already packs of runners forming and I hitched onto a group.

10k came and passed at 38:06. Feeling fine, average pace slipped a few seconds due to lack of concentration, but plenty of road left ! First
drink station - grab a drink and the plastic cup split so managed a sip only.

15k increased the pace gradually to hit the marker at 56:58, quick look at the pace band shows me I am only 4 seconds behind target now. Drink station on wrong side of road - cannot get across in time.

20km 1:15:51 bang on target. Can feel a blister on my left foot but can deal with it. Looking forward to halfway, really want to see to see 1:20
on my watch when I go under that Halfway marker.

Halfway 1:19:56. Spot on.

25km, The Km's are rolling past. Miss a few of the markers which is a bonus, but average pace is on target. Runners are thinning out and there
are no packs close to hitch onto so running on my own. Energy drink station 'Powerbar', ahead, manage to grab a cup, half splashes out,
attempt a swig and the remainder goes over my face and into eyes. Ridiculous. Left foot is blistered.

30km, time 1:53:57, about 10 seconds behind target, push onto catch the pack in front of me and joined them by 33km. Back on target again. Drink station appears on the other side of the road - I can't afford to leave this pack, so leave the drink. My new running buddies in this pack have vests from Brazil, Venezuela, Switzerland and all running on target pace.

35km Temperature is warming up. Another drink station ahead - First cup knocked out my hand, grab for a second cup and it explodes. last chance, both hands out, I grab 2 cups-  success and both are still at half full (or maybe half empty depending on how you look at it) . A few of the guys in the pack drop out and the pace is starting to fall behind, I have to leave the pack and go on my own. Still on target. The crowds are getting thicker and the noise levels are going up. Think I am going to pull this off.

37km/38km less than a Parkrun left now. Visualise myself running along Southend. Out of nowhere a sudden stitch overwhelmed  me. I could hardly breathe. I tried to run through it but the lack of air stopped me after a few meters. Deep breaths, try running again. The lactic acid now came flooding into my legs. I run again but can do no more than 5min/km pace, I know the 2:40 is out of the window now, but maybe a chance of a PB? The stitch is still with me until past 40km mark and I realise the PB has passed me by now too.

At this moment it was a bit of weight off my shoulders (not literally) I stopped looking at my watch and chin up to enjoy the home run.

Finish line - smile, arms up high.

2:48:02....first thought, well that's a bit rubbish should have tried for 2:47:XX there.

Staggered off to get my medal and strangely not disappointed.

All in all, London wins on the crowd and atmosphere. The water/Lucozade stops are far better. The course itself is also better managed as there are barriers around the course stopping people cutting across.

Berlin wins on the wide smooth roads and less turns. Less of a party atmosphere about it. The Drink stations are a complete disaster with
plastic cups everywhere, which become slippery.

I look forwards to my next adventure.....and seeing 2:40

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