Mission Statement

Welcome my little blog, my name is Martin Hookway and this blog is a way for me to log my personal thoughts & views as I am attempting to complete personal & physical challenges each year with other like minded people.

The next Challenge's:

LONDON MARATHON (21st April 2013)
EDINBURGH MARATHON (26th May 2013)
YORKSHIRE MARATHON (20th Oct 2013)

THE ADIDAS THUNDER RUN 24 hour Race
#PROJECT100in24 (27th to 28th July)

I will be running as usual with GPS with Runkeeper & tweeting as I run on @TEAMB_O_B as long as I have phone coverage so all your support will be gratefully received.

I am currently funraising for Rainbow Trust so please dig deep if you can to help this amazing charity.

Rainbow Trust is a Children’s Charity that provides emotional and practical support to
families when their child has a life threatening or terminal illness; immediate
help is available for families 24 hours a day. Support is offered from diagnosis
through treatment and, should a family become bereaved, we continue to support
them for as long as they need us. They help family members cope with the present
and prepare them for the future.
So please dig deep & help this great charity, just think £10 is a meal at KFC so by donating £10 you will not only be helping yourself but you'll also be helping others ;o)

Cheers for taking the time to read my blog, its greatly apreciated, fingers crossed it will bring a smile to your face. My challenges never quite go to plan... ENJOY.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Red Bull Steeple Chase Review

Well where do I start? I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen runners to take on this new Fell Race with a twist. I'd never run a fell race before so it all was new to me. This was a 21 mile race over the Peak District. The Red Bull Steeplechase was described as a unique and challenging knock out fell run it saw 160 runners cut down to just 40 as they progressed through four eliminator checkpoints sited at church steeples along the route.
Billed as one of the most challenging events on the fell running calendar, the Red Bull Steeplechase course took runners up steep hills and rocky ridges, through streams and marshes and over stone walls and barbed wire fences. The unique eliminator element of this race meant that runners had to battle to stay ahead of the pack and prevent themselves from being cut from the race at the end of each stage. With an overall height gain of over 1,400 metres across 21 miles of rough terrain only the fittest athletes made it to the end. The slowest 120 competitors were knocked out at various stages along the race and unable to complete the course. only 30 men from the men's race & 10 women from theirs were left to cross the finish line.

My aim was to hit the 2nd checkpoint...

I set my alarm for 4:00am & attempted to sneak out of the house without disturbing The Wife, yeah that never happened, falling over the wash bag as soon as I dragged myself out of bed put a stop to that plan. I apologised to The Wife then went down stairs & made a smoothie, dam that food processor is louder in a morning than in the day! The drive down was quite straight forward, I'd given myself loads of time to get to the race village & even had time to stop on the edge of the Sheffield to watch the sun rise before dropping down into the Peak District through the low lying fog, the views were picture perfect. I had to make another unplanned stop just down the road but we won't discuss that in detail. My body likes to, let's say; remove all unneeded weight before races, normally when there are no amenities around!



The drive into Hope Valley took me past the race route after Checkpoint 2 then onto the race village. I was waved down a lane by a Red Bull official parked at the foot of Mam Tor. The first thing I noticed was how well planned this event was. Red Bull Staff were everywhere & to say it was still early (7:00am) they were very helpful, talkative & smiles, smiles at silly o'clock on the morning! Did these guys have Red Bull piped into their veins while they slept? The race village was a couple of tents pumping out music, filled with massive beanbags, stands that showed everyone's race number & a map of the route stood in the corner attracting runners like kids to a sweet shop.



Runners arrived in dribs & drabs, I just soaked up the atmosphere, I chatted to a few guys, some beginners, some road runners & some MACHINES that obviously lived & breathed the fells. One guy stood at the route board with his eyes closed talking himself through the route, "over sty 3, bank right, steep down hill, shorten stride" BLOODY HELL i thought, now that's pre race prep to the extreme! I asked his girlfriend if he knew the route by any chance, in jest, "oh yes" she replied, "we are local but he still had to walk the course yesterday". This slightly panicked me as nowhere was there a proper map with a detailed route, even the mini map they advised us to carry (incidentally I left mine in my car) was just a map with arrows on pointing in the general direction to run. Did we need to recce the route? I thought this would have been sign posted & marked with officials. Oh to hell with it I thought, if I get lost I get lost, I turned around left the tent & had another walk around.

The first thing I noticed as the race village filled was the difference in runners, some carried Camalbacks, full compression gear, gloves long sleeves, running tights & gels, how I imagine Ultra Runners to run, others were just kitted up like Track Athletes, shoes, socks, short shorts & a vest. I was somewhere in between, I'd gone with my Saucony Guide5's as they had more grip than my Brooks that to be honest are ready for the grave, I'd opted for shorts, compression calf guards, a long sleeve Saucony top, gloves & a race belt containing my phone & 3 gels.
The fog started to lower to reveal a stunning blue sky & eventually the top of Mam Tor, the first climb of the race. I registered my arrival as soon as the registration tent opened, grabbed my race bag & headed to the HQ Tent where the pre race briefing was to start. It was here that I was called, "Did you do RelayGB? Is it Martin?" I know the running community moves in fairly small circles but to bump into Adnan Khan a RelayGB runner in a race that had only 250 runners from all over the UK. We had a catch up & to tell the truth it was nice to see a friendly face, the pre race nerves had started to set in & a conversation to take my mind off of the start of this race was a welcomed distraction.




The Brief started at spot on 9:00am, it explained the knock out rules & general safety brief before a Q&A, then the men were sent to the start line, the women were sent 15mins after we had set off. As we all lined up we could just make out the top of the 1st climb in the distance, it was a strange feeling on the start line initially, quieter than most starts, runners wished each other an enjoyable race but it all felt tense.


Well that was until the local Town Crier turned up, he started the race with a light hearted speech that brought a few giggles, pats on the back were exchanged as we all wished each other a good race. The Town Crier informed us the race would start on his 3rd OH YEY...


"OH YEY, THAT'S 1"

"OH YEY, 2" (que fits of laughter, he certainly lightened the mood)

"OH YEY!!!!"






We were off, the pack was tight towards the back where I had positioned myself, I much prefer to start further back & work my up during races but this maybe was not the best tactic for this race. As we all jostled for position down the tight road, race nerves turned instantly into race buzz, I noticed the pace was fairly high for what could possibly be a 21 mile race, but I kept in there on a the tail of a guy in bright yellow skins, picking off runners & working my way forward. The road took a steady climb as it banked to the left then we came to a Red Bull Race Official standing at a gate pointing off road to his left. "up there lads, ENJOY". As the road turned  into fell we had been directed straight into a wall of grass, mud & ferns, the 1st climb had started.



 The pace dropped instantly as we all bottle necked into single file, the row slowed as runners fought for grip in the mud & wet grass, twice I took a shoe in the chest as the guys in front lost footing so I decided to jump out of line & widen my stride in an attempt to overtake by pushing though long grass, a decision I soon began to regret, dam it was hard enough climbing on the flattened grass never mind trying to cut a new path, my calf's & thighs were in bits, the groans from other runners had got louder & the odd curse word was yelled out as the climb took its toll on us all, runners used their hands to push our knees down into the climb, my calf's & thighs were screaming out at me to stop & I was already gasping for my breath. We hit the low lying clouds so visibility lowered for a while, I'd dressed in a long sleeved top over my compression top as I'd expected it to be cold, it was far from cold, so I was overheating too. Dam this was only the start!


The climb continued & so did the groans of pain & deep breathing, we broke through the clouds to reveal a stunning piercing blue sky, by this point I was wishing the top to be closer, we continued to climb then there was a short brake from the groan's as a chorus of "Wooooooow's" came down the line as people started to look back at from where had came. Wooooooow indeed I thought looking back, we had climbed through the low cloud & although we were "running" & I use the word running lightly, into the stunning blue skies, behind us was a blanket of white cloud cover blocking our view of the ground, only the odd hill top in the distance could be seen piercing though the clouds. The feeling of being on top of the world was Amazing, for a split second I forgot that my legs had fell out with me & began to smile again, COME ON! LETS DO THIS! A final push & I was at the top, I glanced to my right looking back again at the stunning view, I was tempted to stop to take a photo but the adrenalin was flowing high so I pushed on, the climb was hard & had already stopped a few men in their tracks as they resorted to walking a while before running again.The climb turned out to only be 0.4 miles but we climbed from 940ft to1473ft,  a 533ft climb in 0.4 miles & dam did my legs know about it.



The path at the top was made of broken rocks unevenly laid, my legs were burning but it felt good to eventually stretch them out as I ran over them altering my stride to ensure I hit each one in the centre to minimise the chance of rolling my ankle if I missed one. I had resorted back to a faster pace than initially planned as I worked my way along the undulating ridge & confidence rose as I worked up the line of runners. This confidence was soon to leave me as fast as it came as we hit another climb, this time up a worn down dusty, rocky path, I was overtaken again & again as runners reeled me back in on the climb. At the top I took my 1st gel as we bottle necked at a gate, then on the flat I fought back & worked my way back up the line, another bottleneck let all the runners regroup as we helped each other over a barbed wire fence then we were onto an epic down hill. My legs were spinning like a Katherine Wheel as I continued to overtake more runners who had took to side stepping or walking down the steep incline, I noticed Adnan further down the incline & aimed to catch him but his style of skipping down hill made brilliant ground, oh & I slipped as my legs went far too fast for my body to keep up. Strangely enough as my backside hit the ground I continued to slide down the wet grass like I was on an invisible luge, I pushed off with my hands to help propel myself down, "Hell Yeah" a voice came from behind as I looked back another runner had thrown himself to the ground too & believe it or not we actually over took more runners.

Above is the video the other runner took, I'm on the 2:00 mark in black. I still can't believe how fast we were sliding & how fast I pulled away once we got up. I had NO Energy left, must have been gravity pulling me down lol.

The fun never lasted long as it we soon hit the half way point, I was in a dissapointing 112th place, only 90 runners would get through to the 2nd Stage so I needed to dig deep, I grabbed water & most of it went over my head, it was surprisingly hot on the hills. As we hit another climb a voice from behind said "Well we may as well just enjoy the race now, we are knocked out" this just gave me more drive as I pushed up the climb, I was no way giving in that easy. This was to no avail though as I was overtaken again twice, one of the guys was Pete @P_Mackintosh a runner who had cat & moused with me throughout the race, Pete gave a spur of motivation & another runner tapped me on the back & gave what he had left of his water, I was in bits as I took my 2nd gel. at the top, dug deep & picked back a couple of places, the guy in the yellow skins from the beginning was one of these & so was Pete, the ground ran along the edge of a forest & at every turn there was either a Red Bull Race Official or a sign, I had a giggle to myself at that point, thinking back to the guy at the map in the race village. I pulled away from everyone but could not see anyone in front of me, the ground at this point was very muddy & I rolled my ankle a couple of times on rocks hidden in the mud & puddles but luckily I was ok. Tired legs made a rocky downhill section very difficult & at one point I nearly went flying into a tree as I lost my footing on a fast bend.  Pete caught me back up & after a chat he pulled away as we hit the roads again, my legs were feeling it again as we crossed a river with spectators on the far bank, the race buzz kicked in again & I picked up speed, this was short lived as another small climb made me slow to a hobble. The locals were fantastic & walkers gave much needed praise & encouragement but I was spent, I was 99% sure I was knocked out on the 1st stage of 3 but wasn't sure, I can tell you now though that I was 100% hoping that I was knocked out. I was in bits the final downhill led us down a partially closed road into Bamford, I saw Pete put on the afterburners & pull away from me, Pete finished the 1st Stage in 1:38:14, I came in at 1:39:01 as the 113th male, with the next place at 1:35:31. With legs like jelly I could have hugged the lovely woman who apologised when telling me I could not run on as I was knocked out. I honestly thought I would have been upset if I never made it at least to the end of stage 2 but I wasn't, I'd given it 100% & enjoyed every minute of it. Its not every race that you can hardly walk after it but when asked by a Red Bull Official if you'd do it again, you instantly reply with HELL YES!



The Race Pack we got was fantastic, a snazzy Red Bull Towel, a shiny medal, Unlimited Red Bull & a Cracking Red Bull Hoodie that everyone I saw proudly wore, if I had to be picky the only down point was that there was no BO spray or baby wipes in it, but then again everyone on the race bus to Castleton was carrying the same well earned aroma, I just felt sorry for the poor bus driver. I stayed back & watched the rest of the men finish & watched the 1st women come through, one poor woman looked distraught when they told her she had made the cut & could run on to stage 2. The bus ride back was a good laugh as we all discussed our highlights of the race, as well as past & future challenges. The Bus driver had made sure we all had plastic shoe covers over our muddy shoes but I could not help but giggle to myself at the mud that was caked to my backside & the overwhelming smell of runners taking over the bus.

Shout outs to Roger ‏@Rogs128 & Reuben‏ @ReubenTabner, both top blokes with top banter & similar drive & ambition who made the time for the trip back fly by. I'd definitely work along side these guys on a future challenge.


We arrived back in Castleton to see 2nd place cross the line but sadly missed the 1st guy who was black with mud from head to toe, he must have chosen to take on the down hill head first! The guy was called Russell Bentley & he nailed the 21mile course in 2:48:18. The leading lady Sally Fawcett ran a cracking 3:37:03. Red Bull had put on a Hog Roast at the Castle Pub for all the runners & free bar, yes a FREE BAR! & guess who was bloody driving? *waves* I had one & as the barman congratulated me on my run he mentioned that all runners could come up to the bar as many times as they wanted, it ALL HAD TO GO!!! Gutted!!! I could not even enjoy the hog roast as I could not get food down. The one beer I had though went down a treat... It was the best bottle of larger I had tasted in months, to be honest it would have been filled with cat pi$$ & it would have been epic. I sat back & savoured every drop before leaving the bar tent & sitting in the courtyard for a bit in the sun, looking back over to hills we had just ran...


WOW what sense of achievement, I had only ran 8 of the potential 21 miles but still felt over the moon, it was Painful yet Fun, Those 8 miles were the hardest miles I have ever ran, I could hardly walk the next day never mind run, I ran 26 miles recce of  my next challenge & 47 during the Arthurs Seat challenge & although they were far from comfortable runs this challenge was certainly the hardest of any challenge I have ever attempted (to date). I aim for bigger & better, to push & challenge myself with bigger & better challenges & this was certainly in the keeping. But what now? How do I top THIS? The Red Bull Steeple chase was EPIC!

 I'll end this post with a Massive Shout out to The Wife (@_The_Wife_ ) Steve Taylor (Spud), MrsG (@NickyG25Jordan (@JordanMcQueen1) another runner that took  on the Red Bull Steeple Chase, a guy that I'd chatted to throughout the day & ended up being parked next to at the beginning of the race near the race village only to realise as we were about to drive off that we followed each other on Twitter. Again it was great to put a face to a name.

So whats next? Well its funny you should ask, this coming Saturday the 20th October (this coming Saturday) I will be attempting to race the Round Rotherham 50, an Ultra Marathon that last... Yup 50 miles! I'll be posting another blog post pre race day with more info but in the meantime please don't forget that I'm doing this for Rainbow Trust & need to raise £500 before Christmas to secure my place to run the London Marathon for them so please dig deep & sponsor what you can to an amazing charity that supports terminally ill children & their families.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving


In the meant time, thank you for taking the time out to read my ramblings & thank you for all your support. Check out the video from Red Bull & see if you can spot me. Got to be quick.
http://www.redbull.co.uk/cs/Satellite/en_UK/Video/Red-Bull-Steeplechase-Video-Highlights-021243270782554

Many Thanks

Martin @TeamB_O_B






2 comments:

  1. Good effort! interested in Ultra Tour of Peak District? 2 choices of distance next year, probably 13 / 14 July

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    Replies
    1. I would have been for sure but I'm running the Thunder Run in July as a solo runner so cant do this next year but I'll keep it in mind for future Ultras.

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