Updated: Jan 28, 2021
I was more prepared for this race than Tooting 24hour last year. Last year I turned up at Tooting after finding out I was in the event 2 days before having been on the lash most of the week! I had no crew, no nutrition plan as I drove to Sainsbury’s the night before to buy scotch eggs, no real training, no strategy and no idea. That event I lasted 12 hours, having hit close to world record pace for first 50km and run a 21minute 5km about 73km in!
This year the plan was different. I had employed ultra coaches DaznBone whom have been bliss to work with. There is no doubt I'd not have achieved this without their help. I am a decent club 5 km runner and my love is 10 km with a British Masters qualifying time for 45 year olds but I have struggled to convert this form into ultras. With their help I built up knowledge and experience in training but be prepared for some mad bat expletives. For example there were +40,000 that did the London marathon this year, 200 that did the nohtaraM (marathon backwards at 4am), only 1 that did it both ways!
I had a crew with me in the form of James Fox from KOMFUEL.co.uk, like the John Nash of nutrition. I had the training under my belt ; Circumnavigation of Guernsey at night, Aylesbury to Northolt 70km canal chimp bashing night run, sub 9hour 90km track run, and back to back London marathon (finish to start and start to finish) 84km in 7:10. Also I read the Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters to get mentally stronger. Beating the chimp was perhaps the biggest task.
My strategy was to run the first half of race at 5:30mins/km to 5:45mins/km. Thereafter, I was expecting “some” drift. I was not going to be a loose cannon this time. My goals
A 235km and above for possible world championship place
B 228km for either auto British Spartathlon place or entry into centurion 100mile event
C 180km for British Spartathlon ballot place
D beat the Chimp and be there after 24hours
The first ten hours were pretty good. Ran a gentle/within myself 100km PB in 9:38, however I had noticed an anomaly. In training at 5:30/km my heart rate was closer to 116... in 23 degree heat it was 126 and above. Out of zone 1 and into zone 2. In hindsight this was too high. Note to future self 1 : run at lower HR and still try and not focus on pace.
At 140km tendinitis in left hip flexor and both ankles screamed at me. I decided to turn to run/walk strategy where I'd run 5km and walk half km...this strategy came at wrong time. The heavens opened and I got real cold. I mean real cold! So cold that I could not even hold a cup of tea without spilling the lot. My crew and Tom Sawyer (crewing Sarah) decided I looked a bit hypothermic so pulled me in the pits and wrapped me up in a layer of blankets, VMLM wrapper and 2 woolly hats. OMG …I felt so cosy I just fell asleep for 30 mins. Note to future self 2 : as it rains put on lots of warm gear straight away! Note to future self 3 : Also with weak ankles after years of football : start with tubi-grips on.. maybe.
After a while of being asleep I sneezed which woke myself up. I just stood up to the amazement of the crew and said "let's do this"...still wearing the wrapper like a superhero cape to the amusement of the lap counters. I was back out there racking up the 100mile mark up in 19hours 44 minutes. After this, it was a death march to the end, targeting C goal and reached the 180km mark with half hour left. This was a real Bryn vs my Chimp battle. D goal well and truly done.
So C and D goal reached, which is a pass in my book. I will now apply to run in the British's spartahlon team in Greece in 2020. I am also looking into a Taiwan 24 hour where I can work towards goals A and B.
Nutrition wise Martens 320, with precision hydration and all the food and nut bars was a non-issue. The only time I felt sick was when I was on the last lap and that was only due to fear of having to finish! No change on nutrition for future races.
As for the venue. Basel 24hour is a very good venue. The circuit of 1.22km was perfect, enough to feel like a circuit but enough of distance to break up the monotony of 24hour running that exists on a 400m track. The pit lane actually looks like a formula 1 pit lane with its window laden building too, well it did with delusions of grandeur after 20 hours. I had no issues with the psychological challenge, if anything I relished in this one!
As for boredom this was broken up by the sporting events going on around the complex. In a chat with Mark Denby he said the most exciting thing that happened on his 24hour was when they changed the portaloos! In Basel there was beach volleyball, at least 5 youth football games and beach football... winner. The other competitors were great and I even got to use my German which most of the runners found strange as not many Brits can do German. Also great to meet Sorokin and watch this guy smash out an incredible 271Km. Furthermore it was great to watch Nele Alder-Baerens smash out several world records including the 12 hour women’s age world record. I made some great friends including Swede Tobias Lundgren and Swiss Jean-Hughes Ravel, more friends for life. So final position ….11th male out of 55 and 15th overall out of 83. On reflection I am happy with the Spartathlon ballot distance. Not to lose perspective I am proud of my achievement despite not reaching for my A goal. After all it is over four marathons in one day! Thanks again to DaznBone, James Fox aT KOMFUEL.co.uk and all my training buddies that joined me in the build up. Next stops on my journey with DaznBone, smashing out some more 10km races before a stab at British Masters 10km, then hopefully Soochow 24 hour, Kladno 48 hour and will go in the Spartathlon ballot for 2020. Thy genuinely DO love working with their athletes.