A weekend of contrasting fortunes and experiences - everything from going up to your elbows in mud and muck to the flatest and fastest half marathon course we know with people targetting fast PB times and the annual Croydon 10k
I personally had the covering of the Brutal and Abingdon marathons to cover off on my watch through the weekend.
The Brutal 10 is still one of the best organised off road challenges there are. Whilst you can take the mass participation races all you want, there will always be an "optimum" size to this type of event. You want there to be enough people to make it feel safe, comradeship and competition, but you don't want to feel like a herd of wilderbeast being driven over a cliff. The Brutal events are unique in that all the course is 100% organic, no fake man made obstacles here and no anonymous overcrowding.
This months Brutal was a wet affair - based on the heavy overnight rain, the large ponds were about a foot deep instead of last years when they were just dry gravel beds. Photographing these things gets interesting when the spot you need to get to at 7k point on the course from the 2k point is only via boggy marshes and the ditch strewn race route itself, over one of the hills, and you have to stay at the 2k point until everyone has gone past before you can leave, and it's 2k away...
Anyone fancy a 2k XC run with 12kg pack of camera kit, over rough terrain and bogs ? I'm honest enough to say I lost the race this time - beaten by about the first 20 on my way to the spot known as "gunge alley", and going up to my knees in wet bog on the way there, but I think the effort was worth it. Big respect to everyone who did the race and jumped in up to their elbows (and right under in some cases) - the smiles and laughs at the finish however showed just how much fun it had been for you all. Thank goodness for Tom's catering at the end - we all needed that !
|Team Photo. You can pick anywhere, why not in the bog ?|
Up for Abingdon and on site at 7:50am, through the fog and dark, catch up with RachelE who was off to do some marshalling, Mick and Phil who were going to go out to the Fetchpoint drink station, and the race organisers, directors, commentatiors and the chip timing team. All familiar faces which reassure you that everything is going to go smoothly. A Quick check that the rest of the photography team know where they are going and what they are doing and its all systems ready to go.
At the start - there was Ben getting ready to hit his target Marathon for the year, aiming for 2:38 (but he hadn't told anyone he probably stubbed and broke his toe that morning), and a few familiar faces from the southern counties we cover regularly. Then with the start - a few seconds delay to make sure the timing was sorted and everyone was off with the usual nervous anticipation.
Alternating with last year, the race went through the town square instead of the arch, a small issue with the wrong bollards not being unlocked to be removed meant it was all going to get a bit tight at the road crossing but it all managed to work out ok with a bit of red and white tape as well as some clear marshalling.
The initial lead runner James Bolton (#223) went out fast, by 14 miles his split time of 1:18 suggested a finish time of 2:20, he was already several minutes up on his rivals, but with 3 miles to go the wheels came off, and he was caught by the eventual winner Paul Fernandez (#746) before they entered stadium and he finished for the win in 2:32:02. The first Abingdon Ambler to win his home race ? It was watching James run through treacle down the back straight of the track straining through every stride as Mark Greenwood closed in to overtake him and take second place from him in 2:33:53, to put James in 3rd place of 2:34:06. To give you some idea of how tough they were, 4th place was over 8m:30s behind them. Respect for all of them.
|Mark Greenwood (2nd) Paul Fernandez (1) James Bolton (3)|
I could type much more (but won't) but it was good to see my friend Jim make it home in 98th place and 3:01:17 (chip) a huge PB for him. Only a week after his 49th birthday too. Also apparently there was a world record for the 5-linked runners - photo below - very well done to them too !
So, I'll stop this endless typing, very well done to the race directors, marshals, webmasters, entries secretaries, chip timers and all other volunteers and time givers to the weekends events, and very well done to everyone who raced - perfect conditions - I hope you all had a good weekend of it too.
|The winner took the direct and map route through the water|
|Running up that hill|
|K9 power up the hill (its a 1in6)|
|Double thumbs up|
|really it's fun this brutal stuff|
|watch where your tounge goes on days like this|
|Nice bit of stream running|
|Getting clean air into the finish|
|Order for one bucket of Daz automatic please...|
|Ben getting ready to bring it on|
|My Gursky assymilation for the Abingdon Marathon|
|Ruth leaving the stadium - she was still smiling at the end!|
|Save energy and have two spare arms stiched into your tshirt|
|Paul Fernandez crossing the town square - heading for 2:32:02|
|Liz Hartney heading for first female in 2:52:19|
|Ever had that moment where you think you've forgotten something but not ?|
|Matt Dunn - 10 in 10 veteran, out for an easy jaunt|
|Frank insisted on saying "Fromage" to me whenever he saw the camera !|
|Big thumbs up for his supporters as he ran on|
|Anyone else for a "Camp Bastion Half Marathon" running vest. Abo must have been tame by comparison.|
|Dr Jim on the sly fly|
|New world record for five attached runners ?|
|Sub 3:10 - job done !|
|The joy of running|
|Medal giver outers - did a fantasic job all day|
|top tip - If you stop immediately after finishing and lean on the scaffold - don't do it right infront of the remote camera !|
|In the wilds of the countryside|
|psyching up half way round|
|keep it on nice and tight|
|Ealing Eagles - they get everywhere these days !|
|Double double thumbs up !|
Right off to bed, it's 2:40am, and kids have to be up at 7am. Got that wrong again didn't I.
Enjoy the galleries,
until next time - that will be after Beachy Head, in the forecase artic conditions. Oh hell.