Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Wall Run

The logistics of the weekend took some working out, Isettled on leaving the car at Newcastle Station, getting the train to Carlisleon the Friday, staying in a cheap hotel Friday night, resisting the urge tohave 1 too many beers the night before because Euro 2012 was on. The plan was then to make sure I finished the wall run as my car was in Newcastle. Not finishing never really was an option. They give you a 24 hour (plus 2 hours grace) to complete, so bar a debilitating injury I was going to finish.

Even when a family member said about those who sponsored me‘nobody will think any less of you if you don’t finish’, sorry I would though,but that’s just me. You don’t sign up for these events with the back-up ofpeople saying ‘at least you tried and well done, not many people attempt things like this’, bollocks to that if you start you finish.

The night in the hotel was ok, few beers watching the Germany – Greece game, my excuse as always they helped me sleep, and I made sure I had a gallon of water before going to sleep. Which was all well and good for hydration, but ended up getting up for a pee every hour, add to that a fire alarm going off just as I was about to drop off didn’t add up to a good night’s sleep at all.

I woke up bright and early and met Kelvin Mann and his Dad Terry, who id got talking to the night before and very kindly offered me a lift to the start line which was Carlisle Castle. Due to the heavy rainfall of the week leading up to the race they had a few last minute route checks and alterations to see too. This delayed the start by half and hour, last orders in Newcastle was looking like it wasn’t going to happen.
Making our way to the start at Carlisle castle


After getting the nod we all made our way to the start, waterproofs on as the weather was looking rather grim.  Some opted for full waterproofs with about three layers under that! I thought being June was a bit OTT. I know I’d have dehydrated after about 5 miles with all that gear on.

We started to a countdown from all spectators and competitors 10 down to 1, and we were off!! a steady jog. As my training has been bitty and interrupted I had no plan of what pace to start at,what pace to run the middle at, and what pace to finish. So I just ran at a comfortable pace that I knew/felt I could sustain.

The route started flat and after running through a water logged park, (majority of us trying to keep feet dry, not sure why givent he weather and high probability of soaked feet).

After a couple of hours of running we had our first view of Hadrian’s Wall, ive always been fascinated by castles and the like so was chuffed to see such a large section adjacent to the road we were running along, made the trip more worthwhile. Some after complained of the lack of Hadrian’sWall along the route, but to be honest I was happy. Plus due to the national restrictions on even small groups of ramblers allowable proximity to the wall, I thought the organisers did alright.


I have never been to Hadrian’s Wall country so enjoyed thefirst time even if the weather was pants. The route went off road for a while,which was good news, a respite from the constant pounding to the legs sufferedduring long periods of road running. The footwear I had decided to use for the day were bang on, after looking at the route in some detail on the maps and website it transpired that the majority was on road, tarmac path, or track with hardly any (almost zero after they changed the route due to the weather) off road or on fell. So those expecting to hit some soft ground where their Walsh’s or Inov8s with trail grip may not have been the best selection. I had decided on the Hoka One One Bondi B a bit of a new concept in the world of ultrarunning. Their oversized spongy soles act as shock absorber and the only way I can describe what they are like is to compare them to riding a full suspension mountain bike. The resulting shock absorption over an ultra is something else, joints muscles feet all having taken less of a battering repair quicker and are ready for the next run planned.
After making halfway (the Vindolanda) in 5 hours 45 minutes approximately I was making good time, better than I thought. I didn’t go mad and stayed at the same comfortable pace as before.
By now I was having a bit of a to and fro with a girl in pink shorts. I would catch her up up the hills and out of check points and she would go past me on the runnable sections. Her comfortable pace was obviously quicker than mine; time would tell if both were sustainable.

The weather had got gradually better by now as we headed towards and through Hexham crossing the river tyne a few times on the way.  By now the sun was out and I was getting warmed up, im glad I saw this sign below though before I jumped off the bridge into the river to cool off??!! As if?!


The checkpoints and pit stops were manned by friendly and encouraging staff and were always stocked with food sweets water juice etc as and when required. By the 50 mile stage I was surprised by how good I was feeling (good meaning not feeling like crap), I pushed on and when i hit the sixty mile point I knew that any cramps or similar problems were not coming so I upped the pace slightly. I always, whatever the distance, seem to hold something in reserve, its not a conscious thought, maybe the central governor in my noggin is doing its best to preserve the legs the best it can. This meant a strong finish and those that had passed me right at the start were now flagging and I picked a few of them off on the last 8 to 10 mile run in to Gateshead. With about a mile to go I spotted one of the lads that I had got talking to on the train from Newcastle to Carlisle the day before. I managed to pass Carl on the Tyne riverside, he started to say something but I was blinkered and was only focused on the finishline. I powered (lol!) over the Gateshead Millennium bridge and across the line in 13 hours 6 minutes and 55 seconds in 28th place!! I could not belive the time or the position, having gauged the time against the 14 and a half I did the Lakeland 50 in last year. I was way out in my estimation, I had hoped for a top half finish somewhere between 15 – 17 hours, so I was more than happy with my performance. Here’s to next year’s events!!



Jubiliantly crossing the finish line, was great with all the support at the end, made for a really good end to an ultra.

At the end 69.76 miles later.


Me and Carl Zalek who id just managed to pip at the post!!

Oh just to add we did make last orders and a few well deserved pints were supped in the hotel afterwards :-).




  1. awesome achievement bud. I wish I'd known, you could've stayed at mine and I'd have driven you to the start - I live 30mins away!

    1. Never thought, might do it again one day, was a good day out, maybe 2014?

  2. Nice read there Chris... I should have had more beer the night before!