It dawned on me recently that amongst my close friends I’ve now got a ‘go to’ group for all running distances and adventures. Those who just want to run with others, those who want to go away on foreign trips, those who’ll say yes to an ultra marathon no matter where in the world it is and then there are those who live on the edges of the spectrum- the group who’ll feed ideas for the longer runs, the ones who won’t say no to running non-stop through multiple nights up mountains.
Daryl, Matt and Paul make the core of our little group. They are the running addicts. The ones with the issues, the ones that have been bitten hard and the ones that absolutely love ‘it’ -the challenge, the suffering and the freedom of being uncomfortable.
Maybe it isn’t so surprising that I met all three of these gentlemen through running. More specifically I met them during races. Paul on the Country to Capital in 2019 (probably the shortest race we’ve both done together), Daryl on the TDS later that year and Matt a year later during Val d Aran.
We’ve now run numerous events with each other and also get together for some more adventures in North Wales and the Lake District every year where we scheme and plot for where our legs could take us.
2023 has shaped up as a year of adventure with them all. in some ways I did what I always do, I got sucked into the hype and couldn’t say no. Paul and Daryl had signed up to Trans Gran Canaria. After completing this race in 2019 I managed to resist temptation but crumbled after a few months. The irony is that they didn’t need to push or nag, the seed was planted and overtime it grew into something I couldn’t ignore without feeding.
Matt has also been the instigator for 2023 and has roped me and Paul into a beast we didn’t foresee. He let us know it his intention to sign up to the Article Triple 100 miler in Lofoten. Before I knew it both he and Paul were registered and once more I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Truth be told I t’s at the worst time for me in the 2023 calendar, sandwiched between the other two 100km mountain events I’d booked already. Of course I crumbled on this one too.
So 2023 now looks like
- Trans Gran Canaria – 128km
- Experts Gozo (Malta) – 50km
- Transylvania (Romania) – 100km
- Artic Triple (Lofoten. Norway) – 100m
- Mozart (Austria) – 100km
- Chicago Marathon – 42km
There will be more I’m sure (The Maverick event in Lake District is likely) but those will be the main ones. Heck, my fragile body won’t handle any more big events.
Malta, although not yet confirmed, should be a little holiday with a day of running around a while island thrown in. Nick loves the place and I didn’t visit Goza when I went to Malta and did the Malta marathon many years earlier.
Transylvania and Mozart have been on my list for a while. I did a long weekend to Bucharest many years ago and loved our visit to Bran castle. I remember loving the landscape in the drive there and now running wound the mountains really appeals to me. Plus because it is bears. Whilst I don’t want to see one, this excites me.
Mozart is another that just looks beautiful with delicious landscape and mountain trails. Those Austrian mountains. I love them so am keen to explore more of Austria after developing a real fondness for the country from previous visits.
Chicago was a carry over from 2020. I was contemplating sacrificing the already place I’d already paid for back in 2019. Was a case of weighing up the additional costs of the trip against the entry fee. But finding out Jules and Coren are also going has made logistics more manageable for 2023. Who knows, come October I might even be of the mindset that I want to do a road marathon and chase a time again…
And so to the rationale behind the longer of the events. Trans Gran Canaria is kind of intriguing for me. If I were to read what I wrote post-race years ago, I reckon it would sound like I didn’t enjoy it. I did and didn’t enjoy it at the same time. It was the longest ever run I’d done at the point, and only my second mountain ultra (ultra number x). Four years later I’m a different person and far more experienced. So now I wonder how it compares. Was it as bad (is it as bad?!) and technical as I thought? I did a really good time back then, finishing in under 24 hours. Initially I wondered if I could beat it with Paul and Daryl by my side. Recent injuries though have put that thought to the back of my mind.
There have also been some changes to the route and there’s probably about 30km of trails I haven’t done. Thankfully one of the changes is to a section I recall I really didn’t enjoy (a steep technical downhill). Also the last 4 km along the viaduct and into town is no longer there. Sadly the rocky river bed is still a major feature for the last 10km of the race. But perhaps I’ve since experienced less enjoyable rocky sections on runs!
The decision to sign up to the 100 miles in Lofoten I struggled with. I couldn’t say no. It ticks everything I’ve said about why I want to do 100 miles. Somewhere new and exciting. Beautiful landscapes and scenery. A big challenge. Yes, I only went to Norway last year and yes it broke me. But, the thought of an adventure with Paul and Matt on this series of beautiful islands and mountain passes was something I couldn’t say no too. I’ll now try and be conservative in Romania and hope one week recovery is enough to toe the line and Norway without any new injuries or too much fatigue. Like wise I’ll hope that 2 weeks recovery is sufficient to get to rock up at Mozart with.
So aims for the year, besides enjoying the incredible adventures, is to not break myself. Simple. Reality is though with a 100m sandwiched between two mountain 100ks all in a month, I think I might just be putting myself at risk of a repeat of 2022!!