Struck Down

Yes dear reader, since Saltmarsh75 I’ve been struck down by a strange affliction that can only be the lesser known “nodesiretorunitus”. The symptoms are

  • Feeling no desire to run!
  • Finding feeble excuses not to run which have included-it’s too windy and my toe is sore (it was windy and my toe is sore, but usually tougher than that!)
  • Enjoying the non washing of kit
  • Relishing the pong free hallway
  • Experiencing no envy whatsoever when seeing others out running
  • Avoiding all running related social media in particular future Ultra events

Having made the diagnosis without the help of Dr Google, I have decided to prescribe REST until the desire returns.

The question is dear reader can one run a marathon without the desire to run and with the forecast gale force winds? Tune in next week to find out!

Posted in Marathons, Running, trail running, Training for an Ultra, ultra running | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Saltmarsh75 2017 or

the production could also be called

  • Saltmarsh78
  • Flat Ultra
  • For Gods sake give me a hill
  • The Finale

The Plot

2016 I followed CM (see below) via Facebook as she completed Saltmarsh. As it finishes not far from The Relics abode, and was logically (ahem) the next step up in the running challenges I thought why not? Why not run back to back Ultras, in flat Essex? Why not indeed?

The Scene

38.2 miles (they lied) on day 1, 36.7 on day 2 (more lies) along the Essex coast


  • The Relics-you have met these two before!
  • Essex Running Buddy (ERB) previous posts where she has made a guest appearance are here and here we were neighbours, running buddies and had children in the same class, I loved running with her during our years together in Essex, unless she had, had a ‘domestic’ then it would be challenging to say the least due to her speed!
  • Child minder runner (CM) – she first made an appearance on Shazuns here, but I we have met a few times since both at parkrun In Devon and Essex and both did the first Chelmsford Marathon, and this weekend was all her fault-see above
  • Child minder’s mother (CMM)- CMM is lucky enough to have a place not far from me that she comes down from Essex and stays at in the warmer months and when she does we meet at Seaton for parkrun and then for tea.
  •  Mrs F work colleague and friend who has featured many times but here is one and another where she has featured

Act One

I headed out the Relics home Saturday morning and drove myself to the start about 45 minutes away. It was coldish with a slight breeze. Toilet stop, registered, filled in a survey on the mental state of an Ultra Runner (more involved than the tick this box if you are mad!) and then it was time to head out to the start. The walkers had set off and hour earlier. We soon thinned out and there was along line of us along the sea wall, like hi viz ants. I tried to concentrate on getting just to the next check point and not to think of the 30+ miles ahead of me. CP were at 5.2 miles, 13.9 miles, 27.5 miles, 30.8 miles and 35.1 miles. Unlike any other Ultra I have done, you could send food ahead to these CP’s. Of course the stops had their own food laid on, the usual sweets, cakes, crisps, water etc but its handy if you want something particular. My alarm was set to remind me to eat and I tried, but this is something I struggle with and on this occasion really struggled. The weather was dull, each of these pics have been brightened for your delectation

I was pleased to get up on to the concrete path for a while as most of the time the path had been uneven, grassy and tufty, least with the concrete you could pick up the pace a bit, only a bit. The hardest part was between CP3 and CP4, as this was over 13 miles, I was prepared for that though but the flies were an added challenge! Never have I seen so many flies, they were literally pinging off my face, at first I thought it was stones/grit/sand blowing off the beach then when I realised what it was and  I kept my mouth firmly shut! I am sure my face must have resembled the bonnet of my car in the summer by the time the next mile was done. Huge thanks to the volunteers out on this stretch with the water and their cakes in containers! How horrendous for them!

On I plodded, I became aware of the need for a ‘comfort break’, mmmmmmm

I need some coverage!

Eventually a bush was found, but my it was touch and go for a while, I swayed between risking getting arrested for exposure (to be fair it would have been unlikely to see a policeman out there) or having an accident or worse traumatising another participant -like these flies weren’t enough!

At about 29 miles I was just turning the alarm off on my phone when I looked up to see RB there in front of me on the sea wall, totally unexpected (the last I heard she had rolled her foot and wasn’t running) oh but so absolutely fabulous to see her! She ran with me back to the next checkpoint where she sorted me out, (brain gone), then carried on a way before heading back. It was a real boost, fantastic to catch up on her news. I only had 8 miles to go and thought I could make it in under the 8 hours, and I would have done if the course was not 39.2 miles long! First day 8:07 hours

Glad to see the end of Act 1. But the toughest challenge was to come. What was tougher than running 39 miles? Climbing in to a Landrover Defender that’s what, do you know how high those things are off the ground? Then the challenge was not to be sick in the back as we bounced along the Essex roads back to our cars. Managed not to embarrass myself but it was touch and go. Also managed to just get back to the Relics in time to charge through the door direct to the bathroom before being sick in a quickly produced bucket!

Best part of the day by far was the warm bath, cup of tea, hot towel and pizza, great service from the Relics who took to the role of pampering butlers quite well!

Act 2

After a bad nights sleep, where the legs, body and mind would not shut down or the nausea dissipate I got myself ready for day 2. The legs actually felt ok, just wish the sicky feeling would go away. The day was set to be nicer and started well with a great sunrise

The walkers and runners started together but we soon thinned out, the scenery was much the same FLAT, with the sea on your right! Soon we were approaching Maldon. When big Madam and I moved back to the UK we used to go there quite a bit, for her to play in the water, so it was nice to return and even nicer as I knew CM was going to be there but the added bonus was that CMM had come along also, terrific to see them. They suggested using the toilets, which as it happened was a great idea! CM ran with me for a way as we negotiated our way out of the town over the water to the other side. At each checkpoint you were given instructions, they were not always easy to follow but totally take on board that that might well be just me, I find it frustrating and would prefer a few signs up and about to point us in the right direction especially at that point where you could see no other competitor. CM left me and headed back once I was safe on the sea wall, but I will see her at parkrun in Devon soon.

On I trotted knowing that Mrs F would be waiting not far away, and there she was a vision in her yellow Mac, with a bottle of water and jelly babies. I stopped for a bit and then left them to have their lunch at that lovely spot (grrrr). Only another 13 miles and I would see them again. It was going to be a leisurely lunch for them I hoped.

I offered that boy in the photo big money for his skateboard and he wouldn’t take it!

Mile 20 the egg sandwich I tried so hard to eat made a reappearance as luck would have it just as another runner passed me, not in the least bit mortifying especially as Madam has told me I am an ugly puker, though I am still not sure how to make it pretty-answers on a postcard!

Mr and Mrs F there in front on me, after what seemed like hours (oh thats right it was) I took the opportunity for a long walk break with them back in to Tollesbury, where they rescued their car from the high tide and I set off on what was the worse section-the last 8.5 miles. In and out along the sea wall, the never-ending dam sea wall, passing the man in the green shirt, to have him pass me in five minutes, keeping my eyes on the horizon for the other runners, why are they going that way surely the finish is over there? Please god where is the end? I was unable to eat anything, sipping water was tricky, then out there on my own I had a strop, where the **** is the end? I shouted and promptly dropped in to dip! Karma was telling me to put up and shut up. I did but that still didn’t stop me getting cross at the plane hovering above.

Finally we dropped off the wall. How far I asked some people joining the path? Over the field, on to the road, there were the Relics, where am I going? I asked, managing I hope to look like I was running, Daughter of man in green shirt was standing on the side, is it far I ask? FINALLY the blue arch.

Saltmarsh done.

Stats for the weekend-for the runners

  • 67 of us set out to do the full two day event
  • 22 were female
  • 3 dropped out during day 1
  • 11 did not come back for day 2
  • 4 dropped out during day 2
  • 48 completed the whole thing
  • I was 27th (as was my number!)
  • Thrilled with my third female placing!

Did I enjoy it?

Nope, nope, no, no and no

Not sure why. Is it too long? Is it the back to back? Is it too many Ultra’s this year? Was it the flatness? Was it the constant nausea? I am not really sure but I shall be drawing the curtain of further Ultras. Saltmarsh was my Finale!




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The Brecon Beacons

What do you get a man who has everything for his birthday? (after all he has me!) This year I decided it was two nights in the Brecon Beacons. Not far to travel, beautiful countryside and Welsh Rarebit, whats not to love? We even managed to escape child free, not going to lie it was bliss!

It was our first experience of Airbnb and I must admit I was a little wary, but my fears were unfounded and it was perfect, check it out here . Although we have yet to be able to pronounce where it is located….Any ideas? What the Welsh have against vowels in beyond me!

On the way up we stopped off at Goytre and had a lovely walk along and around the canal, oh and a piece of cake obviously.

From there the next stop was Abergavenny, lunch and of course Welsh Rarebit.

We had a wander around using the map from the Tourist Information Office, explored the shops, the gardens and the Castle.

We were so lucky with the weather, warm and sunny perfect for the Autumn colours which I love.

Crickhowell was en-route to the village with no vowels so we popped in to see the bridge. A bridge that has 12 arches upstream and 13 downstream although to be fair I couldn’t count more than 8 either side!

Day two was spent walking, four miles before lunch five after. Not the relaxing birthday hubby had in mind but I think he enjoyed it! The morning walk was from the Airbnb which was great just to be able to step out and get walking. The mist was down, but it was warm and dry, but not so under foot, seems it might have been wet in Wales of late.

Incredible views

The afternoons walk was entitled Four Falls Walk and was a little drive away. It was treacherous underfoot at times with tree roots, mud, stones, stairs, rocks, moss and damp wooden slats. Both of us managed to stay upright but there was some close moments with squeals or swearing.

Obviously there were some waterfalls to visit.

It was a beautiful walk, helped by the sun coming out when we started out. I loved every minute of it.  You could walk behind the last waterfall, when I saw this I was so excited. I have never done this and as I had my raincoat with me, I was good to go. What an experience that was, helped by the fact that I was the only one under there. What a way to end a great day.

We loved the Brecon Beacons and will certainly return, I understand there are more waterfalls I can get up close and personal to.

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Mimi Anderson

For those of you asking who is Mimi Anderson?


Mimi is currently running across America, starting in LA and finishing in New York. This is 2,850 miles and she is trying to break a world record that has stood since 1979 and finish in 53 days. Currently she has completed approximately 800 miles and I do hope she is not thinking ‘oh great only 2000 to go’!

Mimi and I have many things in common, but the desire to run across America is not one of them!

We are English, we both started running in our late 30’s, we are around the same age (she is a little older) and we both like a challenge although mine is on the more sensible end of the scale!

The word Inspiration is used too often I think these days, but she truly is inspiring. I am following her on every social media outlet possible, Instagram, facebook, her website. I watch the live feeds cheering her on, my mouth open in astonishment as she looks so good running 60 miles day after day, sometimes in 30 degrees!

I am also reading her book, which follows her run from John O’Groats to Lands End and also covers her other adventures the first of which was the completion of the Marathon Des Sables. Now it is dangerous for me to read of such adventures, I begin to think that they sound like something I’d like to do. The Marathon Des Sables is 150 miles across the Sahara, the conditions sound quite horrendous, but still there was a flicker of interest deep within me, but its ok family this was all laid to rest when I found out the entry fee is over £4000! Flicker well and truly extinguished!

I do like the sound of John O’Groats to Lands End though!

You will find Mimi here on her blog although she is not blogging at the moment, too busy running. This is her facebook and her Instagram,  her web site and her book on amazon go check her out and be prepared to be inspired and amazed. An ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing.


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Harrogate parkun

Back in August I was reading a post by Paige in which she mentioned that she was heading to Yorkshire in September from the States. I quickly fired off an email to check it was English Yorkshire, I am not sure there is another but thought it best to check as you know what these Americans are like they like to steal our place names!

I was so pleased to hear that indeed it was here in the UK and to be more precise Harrogate. Paige informed me the town had a parkrun, since we became blog friends during an ‘athon many years ago Paige has heard about parkruns but although they are starting to appear in the States one has yet to be local for her, so a plan was made to meet.

For those of you that are not aware of the Geography on the UK, I am located in the South-West right down the bottom, Harrogate is in the North-East, a trip across the country diagonally was on the cards.

Friday I arrived in Harrogate, first stop Betty’s Tea Rooms.

After a short wait in a queue I was shown to my table. On perusal of the menu I decided to have a quiche and a piece of cake with my pot of tea, although this was down graded to just cake and tea after seeing the size of the quiche! I’ve had bigger muffins than that quiche and they wanted £9 for it! To be honest I was slightly disappointed by the cake selection and realise just writing this will mean that I will never be allowed up North again, but it is true. Not all Betty’s fault, but I was expecting  a traditional British Tea Shop and cake, eg Victoria Sandwich, Coffee Walnut etc, I didn’t realise Betty’s roots are in Europe so the cakes more fancy and funnily enough very European. After all careful consideration I opted for the Chocolate Torte….

I sat for a while, trying to make the most of the experience, before setting off on an afternoon of mooching around the shops and exploring the town.

Late afternoon I checked the route to Paige’s Guesthouse from mine and then from there to The Stray where the parkrun is held.

After dinner Paige and I met for a drink. We first met in New York in December, it was nice to catch up on events in each others lives since then.

I headed back to where I was staying, amazed how warm it still was. I am sure I wasn’t staying in a cupboard, after all how many cupboards have an ensuite? But it was the smallest room I have ever stayed in but was in such a convenient location.

Harrogate parkrun is held on The Stray, located in the old town, which is 200 miles of open grassland, sadly the 5k is three laps! As we stood waiting for the start, every direction you looked in, runners could be seen approaching, very funny to watch. We listened to the parkrun and Harrogate newbie instructions. Then it was time to head to the start and for the Run Directors pre run chat. Simply the best, most enthusiastic and encouraging pre run brief I have ever been to at parkrun. Harrogate’s 300th parkrun was applauded, milestone t-shirts were applauded, first timers were applauded, the run/walk beginners were applauded, visitors were applauded, Paige was applauded once the RD realised New Jersey mean America! What a great first parkrun to experience, it epitomised the parkrun ethos.

Three rectangular laps were not too bad in the end, although one side had a wicked head wind. Paige managed to come 300th on the 300th Harrogate parkrun which was just brilliant and she even got a mention on their Facebook page!See you next time Paige, to run with you on your inaugural parkrun was an absolute privilege! X



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Catch Up

Last weekend we had a long weekend in North Devon catching the last bit of the summer holidays before returning to school and work.

We did a bit of body boarding, a bit of walking, a bit cider drinking, a bit of cake eating, and bit of pasty consuming. Of course I managed a bit of a run too, along the coast Croyde to Woolacombe.

As I stepped out of the caravan at silly o’clock I was greeted by this beautiful sky

and once I was at the top the first hill the sun was coming up. Anyone who says I am mad for getting up early on a weekend away needs to just look at this photo. Not mad at all, I think I would be mad to stay in bed and miss this.

No filter or setting used, taken with my IPhone this is how it was, simply stunning sunrise!

The run was less than stunning but you can’t have it all can you, beautiful scenes and wonderful running legs!

Woolacombe beach was deserted except for me and the crow, the tide was on its way out so the sand nice and compact.

Fabulous so privileged to be able to and capable of running here.

A run was scheduled for the next day also, but some truly awful weather put paid to that!

This week was a ‘negative midas’ week for me. Everything Midas touched turned to gold, everything I have done this week has gone less than smoothly, work, parenting, running. Issues with getting my car fixed and replacing a mobile phone after Madam dropped it in the toilet (Apple pronounced it DOA and I gave it its last rights and I declared it ‘ Rest In P***!’ Although she does assure me that she hadn’t used the facility yet!) haven’t helped either to be fair! I have spent so much time firefighting the past five days that I am seriously contemplating getting myself some fire retardant trousers, a yellow helmet and access to a Hydrant!

Yesterday was parkrun day obviously and also the day I said a sad farewell to young Katy (I shall be nice to her now she is going! She is 40 so not really that young!) I shall miss her but so excited for her and the husb forthcoming adventure. They have taken a year out (this I have just been told may get an extension #notimpressed!) to travel, first stop Thailand. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Except maybe when I mention the camping and cycling side of it. Brave, mad and adventurous. Go Katy and Ed! Thank goodness there is a blog to follow their travels, click here to see what they have been up to in the UK prior to their flight this week, click follow while you are there, its going to be amazing! I hate goodbyes, so it was a quick sweaty post 5k hug before I joined three other club mates for a gentle trot round the parkrun route again, after all why not repeat a muddy, slippy run if you can? The parkrun run itself was okay and I am trying to keep with my new parkrun ethos which is ‘run with effort lazy Shaz’ the result was mediocre, how can 9 seconds annoy you so much?

That brings us to today when I headed in to Exeter to run round it, using the Green Circle route. It was great to run this route again and not take a wrong turn for the first time, also great to go out of the village for a run. I saw two squirrels, two cats, a bunny and an abandoned Teddy Bear, he was wearing a hat, sensible Ted, but fear he was soaked.

So that brings you up to date with life here in Shaz’s world. I am hoping for a better week or might seek residence on another planet!




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The Crossing (of Dartmoor)

Firstly let me tell the non local readers about Dartmoor……………….

Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. Dartmoor ponies roam its craggy landscape, defined by forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). Trails wind through valleys with Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles and abandoned medieval farmhouses. The area is dotted with villages, including Princetown, home to Dartmoor Prison used during the Napoleonic Wars.
This is a map of Dartmoor
The red line is The Crossing route except it finished at South Brent-my Garmin keeled over two miles from the finish basically it was Georges was of telling me I had been out there too long, in fact he was just siding up with my legs! Thank God the brain is stronger!
Living in this small over populated Island it is easy to forget that there are areas of England where no-one lives except the cows, sheep and horses. That is what makes this area so special, miles and miles of panoramic views. 34 miles of which I plodded over yesterday.
As this was a linear route transport in the form of Double Decker buses was laid on to get us from Finish to Start. Double Decker buses are great in London for transporting commuters but load them with runners and all their mandatory kit send them up some hills and things get interesting. At points in the journey I really thought we should all lean forward just to help the bus get to the top of an elevation, but we made it at Belstone with plenty of time for three nervous wees and to register!
If you read the last post you will know that there was a mandatory kit list and because I am a good girl and there was no way I wanted to run 34 miles to get DQ’ed at the end I had it all, however it was obvious that many were not as well behaved. Sensible but naughty! My pack was heavy, Tommy the Turquoise Hydration Pack rubbed me up the wrong way, I am sure with some adjusting we will have many good adventures but right now I am sore……
angel wings my badge of honour!
Underfoot the course was the hardest I have ever done. Rocky, boulder strewn paths alternating with mudding bogs. Hills I can cope with but the unevenness of the paths soon took their toil on my body. By mile 11 my ankles hurt, I popped pills, by mile 20 my knees hurt, running was tough going, I think maybe 5 miles were on a surface you could run effectively on.
 The course was really well marked, across the moor where there wasn’t a path as such you followed little orange flags, whoever laid these out had a sense of humour or liked mud, many placed right in the bogs, deviations were needed.
The flags were quite literally a life saver, I used them to keep me going, run to the next flag Shaz, and the next one, walk to the orange flag Shaz then run and repeat for 10 miles! Despite being marked out so well, I still managed to go wrong twice-must work on that concentration.
In the beginning I saw people, I followed people
When I looked back I saw other runnersbut this was not the case for very long, soon I only saw humans at checkpoints.

See what I mean. Not a sole insight. This meant a call to Annie’s Mr Mental Toughness of as I like to call it ‘stubbornness’, a quality (I use the term loosely) that I have plenty of which probably makes me a night mare to live with, but is so very handy when endurance running!

I decided to keep myself company, conversation had dried up so singing it was then. Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights seemed apt-although the wrong moor, but seeing as I couldn’t remember the lyrics or for that matter hit those high notes whilst running I opted for the more simple, 10 Green Bottles, followed by There was 10 in the Bed and Kum ba yah, all those years Girl Guiding came in to their own!

You will notice from the pics that there is a lack of a bushes! When running distance it is critical at times to have a some cover occasionally. Fortunately a large piece of heather appeared at just the right time, my legs objected to the squat and despite a dodgy aim and consequently a wet foot, mission was accomplished before the runner behind me appeared saving his blushes and more importantly mine. God this long running stuff is just so damn glamorous!

The highlights from this amazing run were

  • The scenery
  • The checkpoints with amazing people who managed to fill my water pack up when I couldn’t think let alone operate my hands
  • The children selling water in aid of RNLI (the lowlight was my lack on cash!) bless them
  • The walkers on the moor who asked where was I running from (not who I was running from!) and wished me well with my journey
  • The ponies
  • The well marked course
  • The Medal
  • The stepping stones-although one set would have been enough!
  • The orange slice at mile 31 was simply the best thing I have ever tasted.

The whole idea behind entering this event as you know was to practice fuelling and recovery in preparation for the two-day event in October. Fuelling went well, with only one caffeine gel consumed at 25 miles, I didn’t sleep too bad last night and am not too stiff today but whether I could run that distance again today remains to be seen but until then I will try to find my ipod to save myself from my singing!



Posted in cross country, Devon, Photography, Running, trail running, Training for an Ultra, ultra running | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments