Looking back on 2014 with fond memories :)

I’ve done a fair amount of racing this year so its been quite satisfying. My racing calendar has helped me travel to some beautiful places, meet some awesome people and share some wonderful moments with them. I’ve only listed the Ultra’s below (50+ mile races), I did a few XC races, marathons and duathlons too. My season started in december as I went home for christmas last year. This season has taught me alot and made me more mature as a person, I’ve gained more experience both through racing, volunteering and listening to others. Hopefully I can train smarter and be less injury prone in 2015, I’ll definitely be racing less in 2015.

December 2013:

1. Nilgiris 100k (62 miles) – Ooty, India

It was a planned long run since it was pretty much a pre-season race so I rarely pushed. Ran with Navin and Abhijit, we finished in 14 odd hours but more importantly I had a really good time and we enjoyed each other’s company. The course had about 1500m of ascent so it wasn’t too hilly, the course was also really pretty but it was all on tarmac though!

January:

2. Neville’s Dawn to Dusk 12 hour duathlon for charity – Chennai,India

This was the second year I ran and cycled for 6 hours each. It’s a beautiful event organized by my friend Neville in aid for cerebral palsy. It was a fairly relaxed event to kick off the season and I really enjoyed the camaraderie.

March:

3. Saxon Shore trails – White Cliffs 100 miler (Dover)

Prepared well for it but the company went bankrupt so the race never materialised. Since we had our stay sorted, we went and spent the weekend there. Dover has a beautiful seaside route which would have made a great race!

4. Oldham Way Ultra – 40 miles (Oldham)

This was the first TeamOA race I did which was brilliantly organized by Wane and his friends. It was more of a navigational ultra so I ran with Nick Marriott and Suzy Coates. We ran most of it cross country without using the established trail to have some fun, things went well until mile 37 where we got lost on the Pennine way and were stuck in a boggy section for a couple of hours. Still finished in one piece and totally enjoyed the experience!

April:

5. South Downs Way 50 miler (Eastbourne)

Got a last minute entry into this one. Another excellently organized event by Centurion. The trail was in good condition and it was a great training run. I paced 19 year old Josh to his first 50 mile finish, got him around safely in 9.39 hours. I can see why Centurion are the best organizers in England, they had american style aid stations stocked with everything you can think of!

6. Hoka Highland Fling 53 miler (Highland,Scotland)

Another planned training run on the WHW, had to drop half way through at Rowardennan with a hip injury. Still had a lovely time at Jamie’s place, met 3 Irish lads and Micky too. This was probably the best organized Ultra in the UK and also has the highest number of participants, would definitely return for as long as I can!

June

7. Calderdale Ultra 50 miler (Manchester)

This was supposed to be the last long run before the West Highland Way but I was still recovering from an injury so I didn’t start this race. Heard good things about it from a friend who did finish.

8. West Highland Way Race – 95 miles (Highland,Scotland)

Brilliant race steeped in history. I struggled with a hip injury 40 miles in, kept going and finished the race but it put me out for the summer. It was totally worth digging deep for this race, I saw lots of hallucinations so got my money’s worth!

9. Long Eaton 50 miler (Nottingham)

This was a week after the WHWR so I decided to not start it, Ian started and came 3rd so I was chuffed for him! 😀 It’s my local race so would love to go and support it next year

August

10. TDS – UTMB 119 km (Chamonix-Mont Blanc,France)

I only started running gingerly a week before TDS so made the logical choice and didn’t start this one either! Since I had flights booked, made the trip across to help out iRunFar’s coverage of the race. Got to climb a couple of big ascents and spend the night in the mountains. I now realise what it takes to run this one so can plan my training in a better manner if I get in in 2015. It’s a lovely route with unparalleled support from the locals, a must do for any trail runner!

October

11. 3×3000 Ultra-Trail Skyrace – 50 miles (Lake district)

This was by far the hardest race of 2014. The trail was flooded due to bad weather but the organisers still went ahead with the race, if it were France I’m sure  they would have cancelled the race! It was an incredible experience with rain, hail storm, sub-zero windchill and all types of rugged terrain across Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. A proper mountain race but due to a lack of fitness coming back from an injury I had to grind out a finish 🙂

November

12. White Rose Ultra – 30 miles (Yorkshire)

Another cracking event by TeamOA and Wane. Won a free entry into this one through a contest so it would be rude not to start it! There was the 60 mile option which was two loops or finish with just one loop. It was very hilly route with constant ups and downs, around 50% of the race was tarmac and only 50% was on trail. I got to run with Rob Young who is chasing a world record 370+ marathons in 365 days so decided to finish the 30 mile loop with him instead of pushing on for the 60. Running short sections of tarmac on trail shoes is bearable but all that tarmac running was hurting my weak hips, if I did it again I would definitely wear a more cushioned shoe. Brilliant support and a well marked route, think they have a 100 mile option next year, I might just go out and volunteer to point and laugh at the ones who do the 100 miler! 😀

So how do I feel now?

Ash