Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Marathon man Jack Brooks reports on his latest feats of endurance


Chislehurst Commons Trail Marathon: 6th August 2017

This was a new marathon near Bromley comprised of six laps of just under 7k followed by a shorter final loop. Each lap contained a very long descent of around 2k followed by a long ascent of about the same distance. There was enough variation in the surroundings to ensure that repeating the route each time wasn't boring. My time was 4:45:37.
Jack and friends at the Darnley Challenge Trail Marathon
Darnley Challenge Trail Marathon: 11th August 2017

I ran this race last year so I should have known the route, but I still managed to lose time by taking one wrong turning because I wasn't following the route description instructions closely enough. After some miserable weather earlier in the week I'd anticipated that the course could be muddy in places, but fortunately it wasn't. I finished in 5:37:50.

Leila’s Run Trail Marathon, Wheathampstead: 20th August 2017

This was the 4th time I'd run this local four lap marathon, which is held in memory of Leila Taylor (a former Garden City Runner who was a good friend of mine). The atmosphere is always relaxed and there are usually plenty of Striders running one, two, three or all four laps. I ran the first three laps with Lucy Stern and Mandy Attree and then ran much of the final lap with Apryl Hamnett and Beth Taylor-Jones from the 100 Marathon Club. The weather was kind to us and there can't be many more pleasant footpaths to run on than those around Heartwood Forest. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Running with Mandy and Lucy in Leila's Run

Woldingham Trail Marathon, Surrey: 27th August 2017

This two lap race started in the beautiful grounds of Woldingham School and it seemed the only flat parts of the course were the roads leading to and from the school. There were some truly brutal hills on the route and each of these had to be negotiated twice. This was very much in my mind as I set off on the second lap. Mark Travers from Striders was also running the marathon. He finished well ahead of me, but was good enough to wait until I finally staggered across the finish line in 6:16:26.

With Mark Travers after the hilly Woldingham Marathon

St Albans Stampede Trail Ultra: 2nd September 2017

I was injured for the first Stampede and away for the second so I was determined to compete this year. I managed just under 40 miles and thoroughly enjoyed the event. It is great to see how good the club is at staging events such as this.

Ouse Valley Way Trail Marathon: 17th September 2017

Lucy and Mandy from the club ran the inaugural event in 2016 and told me what a great event it was. I can only agree with what they said. This point to point race is nearly all off road and basically follows the River Great Ouse from Earith to Eynesbury. The course was well marked and marshalled and there were snacks and drinks available almost every three miles. I was third in the 60/69 age group finishing in 4:52:40. After two days of fairly heavy rain the footpaths were slightly slippery in places and when I run the event next year I'll consider taking trail shoes with me. The route was really beautiful and I lost count of the number of swans I saw that day. In addition I always enjoy seeing the statue of Oliver Cromwell in St Ives. I thoroughly recommend this race.

Jack joined Rory Coleman and his friends and family at the Robin Hood Marathon

Robin Hood Marathon, Nottingham: 24th September 2017

I have known Rory Coleman for most of my running life so when he announced that he would be running his 1,000th marathon in Nottingham I felt obliged to join him. Rory has had an amazing life during which he has completed Marathon des Sables 14 times and as a personal trainer coached many famous characters such as Ranulph Fiennes. In 2016 Rory contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a crippling disease, which left him wheelchair bound and physically debilitated. The prognosis was not good, but by sheer force of character Rory has fought his way back to fitness. He warned me beforehand that this marathon would be more of a shuffle than a run, but we still made it round in 5:17:46 finishing to a great reception from his friends and family. It was a wonderful day.

Windsor Marathon River Trail Run, Berkshire: 8th October 2017

This was the first running of the marathon and I was intrigued enough to enter. The race registration and finish are in Alexandra Gardens and nearby parking (£9) was expensive, but the route out from Windsor to Maidenhead beside the Thames and the route back alongside the Jubilee River were both spectacular so it was no hardship to run two laps. The weather was kind to us and there was no wind and virtually no mud along the course. Even after heavy rain I suspect that it would not be necessary to run in trail shoes. I finished in 4:25:01 and whilst I'd had a reasonable run I believe that the full distance was nearer 25 miles than 26.2 miles.

Not the most enjoyable marathon for Jack in Birmingham

Birmingham Marathon: 15th October 2017

The plus factor for the inaugural Birmingham Marathon was that there were several out and back sections and I was able to spot and call out to numerous people who I know. The downside was that they appeared to have included every hill in the city when devising the route. I started off keeping the 4:15 pace group some way ahead. Roger Attard joined me fairly early on and we ran together for a few miles. However, he seemed to be more comfortable than me and I told him to go on as he was feeling good. By around 10 miles the frequent uphill sections started to take their toll on my legs and my pace gradually slowed. I'd been running a large part of the final miles with good friends (brother and sister) Fu-Lok Cheung and Yin-Hai Cheung. Just after 25 miles Fu turned to me and said "please make this stop Jack!" That is pretty much how I felt, especially as a large section of the last mile was uphill. I finished in 4:35:41 and breathed a sigh of relief.

Preparing for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Toronto Waterfront Marathon: 22nd October 2017

I flew out to Toronto on my own, but met up by chance with people I knew on the first day there, so I had no problem with the social side of things. The weather for the race was unseasonably warm and this made for quite tough running conditions even though the course was relatively flat. The route itself comprised mostly very long straight out and back sections with little variety. I didn't find the course particularly scenic, but the race was well organised and the police took an active part in encouraging all runners, which was a welcome change. My time was 4:31:50. Now I just need to run a marathon in Nunavut in order to complete one in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories as well as one in all 50 US States plus DC. That should be in July 2018.

After Toronto, Jack now has one more marathon to complete to have run one in all 13 Canadian provinces
Blackwater LDWA Trail Marathon, Maldon: 28th October 2017

It always amazes me that the LDWA can stage trail events for what they charge. The entry fee for this marathon for LDWA members was £8 (£10 for non-members) and for that three checkpoints are provided around the route, all of which are stocked with copious amounts of food and soft drinks. Also at the finish everybody is provided with a hot meal and a finisher's certificate. I travelled down to Maldon on my own, but bumped into Rob Hardy from Fairlands Valley and Bob Parmenter from Stoke when I got there and the three of us decided to form a "pensioners' posse" and go round together. All was going well until around 19 miles, when an old injury started troubling Rob. We'd started together and decided that we'd finish together. Anyway, I hadn't seen either of them for about four months and it was good to have a chance to catch up.

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