Despite the struggle marathon one in Anglesey inspired Langley and I to change the way we look at training. Rather than clocking up as many weekly miles as we possibly could we’d challenge ourselves to find as many top trail running spots over the next month. It’s hoped this will help us prepare better for marathon two – the Endurancelife CTS South Devon race and would surely make training that little more exciting, inspiring and of course challenging.

Endurancelife’s vision is ‘to inspire you to challenge your limitations, explore the world through endurance sports and experience the way of life that is the Endurancelife Brand’.

So we went to work, desperately trying to find the most inspiring and breathtaking runs on our doorstep. Here’s what we found:

Destination Hadrian’s Wall: In the last month I have run along Hadrian’s Wall on two occasions and locations don’t come much better than up on the wall. Nor do they come any tougher!

Hadrians Wall Picture

Although we’ve only picked an 8mile run, it is up and down all the way, with rocky terrain underfoot and is a lung buster run. With views as far as the eye can see this has to be one of the best runs on offer in the UK. There’s over 1180 feet of climbing to be done over the 8mile route so it’s a real challenge for any trail runner, let alone two novices like Langley and I.

Hadrians Wall Picture

Look out for the video we’ve made of a recent run along Hadrian’s Wall

Destination Kielder Reservoir: Kielder Reservoir has long been a favorite of ours (although Langley often tells me otherwise!). In the last month we’ve ran 16miles and 18miles around the water. Staying on the trail path gives the runner plenty grip and non-stop climbs to work the legs. Like Hadrian’s Wall it is the scenery that makes you stand and take note – a beautiful place to run!

Kielder Picture

Oh and there was the excitement of a fallen tree too – I think Langley is under the tree on this one 🙂

Kielder Picture

Destination Dukeshouse Forest Trail: One day I decided to venture out into the forest just next to my parents home in Hexham. It didn’t take long to find the most fantastic trail, meandering through the trees and down the valley. Although only a short trail it offers so much that you don’t mind running it three or even four times.

Dukeshouse Forrest Picture

Oh, it can get a little muddy though!

Muddy Feet Picture

Destination Northumberland Coast: My most favourite place in the North is the beach at Druridge Bay – so what better place to run on my day off! The beach is amazing, yet almost always desolate. As I arrived my temperature gauge in my car read -1° and the wind was howling, but I wasn’t going to let the North East weather get in my way. I crossed the sand dunes and made my way onto the beach. As expected I was the only (perhaps rightly considering the conditions) person for miles. I had the whole beach to myself – this was going to be brilliant.

Beech Fun

4.5miles with the wind in my back felt amazing as I trundled along the sand quicker than I thought my legs could go. The run back into a driving wind was testing, but equally thrilling!

It was a truly great day out on the Northumberland Coastline. It was very, very, very cold though!!

Jamie Lookin Good

We’ve found some great places to run; we are feeling a bit fitter and most importantly we loved every minute of it!


It seems an awful long time ago now that we set off in complete darkness in search of Marathon 1 and the Endurancelife base camp on Holyhead Island, at which point I remember saying ‘well it doesn’t look too hilly to me’. How wrong I was, how very wrong!!

We parked up (after getting a little lost at first) and followed directions to the registration tents. By this time the sun was just starting to rise and in the distance we could make out what appeared to be the rock face of the mountain we’d been dreading. At this point I think Langley pointed out that we might have found our hill!

Heading for Registration

We arrived in plenty time and had a good look round and spoke to a few people. If I’m honest I felt like we were the novices of the pack, but everyone has to start somewhere. One day maybe we can look like hardened trail runners and fit in with all the others. As the scheduled start time approached I was filled with excitement and a little anxiety about the road (can I call it a road?) ahead. My anxiety wasn’t really helped by the wise words of the event starter who enthusiastically told us:

‘The conditions at the top are going to be mountainous. It’s going to be 5 or 6 degrees colder up there and when you turn at the peak the wind’s going to hit you straight in the face – it’s going to knock your head off. It’s gonna be awesome guys!!’

It was like a scene from Bear Grylls and didn’t sound too ‘awesome’ to me or Langley, but we liked his enthusiasm! Moments later the race was under way and we headed away from the overshadowing mountain and towards the sea before we started our slog up the mountain face.

Under Starters Orders!

The Hill to Come!

As the race went on I felt more like an adventurer than I did a runner – climbing over rocks and leaping down drops. Like the man said this was bordering on ‘awesome’. That was until mile 20 where I checked in at the final checkpoint and began the 7mile stumble to the finish line. Never in my life have I endured such a mental battle – one moment I felt like crying as the miles kept getting longer and more painful, the next I’d be singing out loud like a looney, sorry about that folks! It was like a scene from ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’.

Endurancelife’s motto is ‘never, never, never give up’. So I thought ‘when in Rome, do what the Romans do’ or in this case ‘do what the nutters from Endurancelife do’.

This attitude took me to mile 25, the point I had told myself I’d be home and dry. I did however tell myself this not knowing they’d stick a huge 650ft mountain in my way which took me over 20 minutes to climb, and I mean literally climb – rope, harness and hiking boots really should have been provided at this point. microsoft cloud . how to buy expired domain Now talking to myself I slowly but surely made it to the top where I was hit by an almighty wind which in the words of, lets call him Bear, ‘nearly took my head off’.

A View from The Top!

So here I was standing at the highest point on the island and even from this point I could not see the finish line or any of the event marquees. I descended the mountain with the wind crashing into my face knowing that I was inside my last mile. I kicked on, blissfully aware that I was now well and truly home and dry!

The End!

I’d made it and was pleased with my time of 5hours 10minutes, but even more chuffed to be presented with a hot cuppa and a seat. Quite simply the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure, but looking back it was all worth it. Bear was right – it was ‘awesome’

Chris Hay

To say I felt like Chris Hay at the end of the race was probably a bit unfair… I’m sure he felt much worse!!! Chris is a friend who ran Kielder Marathon with me back in October and I still berate him for his highly impressive (in the wrong sense of the word) finish time of 6hrs 30mins.

The day would not be complete without cheering my buddy Langley home who finished the race feeling very much the same as I did – sick and in all sorts of pain or in simpler terms ‘feeling like Chris Hay’.

So we are one marathon down with only eleven more to go, sounds good doesn’t it.

Still Alive ... but only just!

Waiting For My Chance To Come

Having rarely suffered any serious short or long term lay-offs from sport, the start 2012 came as a bit of surprise to me. A reoccurring tight hamstring and a self inflicted swollen knee has kept me off the road for 10 days, agonisingly close to marathon one at Anglesey. Frustration is mounting each training day I lose, however I am confident that I will recover in time for the big challenge opener in two weeks time – I just hope the lengthy lay-off won’t haunt me on the day.

On a positive, my last run was a 20mile New Years Eve dash around Kielder. I felt comfortable despite the 2266 foot of climb and a struggling run partner, Langley, who found it tough going on the day, but hats off to him for his fantastic week of running. plan a route . He had previously completed 45miles over the previous 5 days and after this run he’d clocked up a highly respectable 65.72miles for the week. Did he know it was Christmas?

For the record, he too lies on his sick bed nursing a knee injury – perhaps a result of such a vigorous week of running (and a little hint of old age creeping in too!!).

So I sit around waiting for the day my next run will come – I honestly never thought I would say it, but I am missing that ‘energy sapped feeling’ that comes from running your body into the ground for miles on end. Does this mean I can now call myself a proper runner? I now even have a year’s subscription to Runners World!!! Thanks to Langley’s son Zach for that one 🙂

Adventure Is Out There

I’ve ran a further 53 miles since my last blog post and I can honestly say I am feeling the benefits of all this training. No longer do I reach halfway (no matter the distance) and feel like going home for an early shower – perhaps that was the footballer in me! Instead I find myself enjoying the run the further I get into it. I’m even enjoying the challenge of running in difficult conditions, such as hail, sleet, snow, horizontal rain and complete darkness. I think it is these tests that make us appreciate the adventure we have set out on.

‎A week or so back I read a great quote by Michael Landon, who said: ‘Somebody ought to tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit every minute of every day. Do it, I say, whatever you want to do, do it now!’

Since reading this, I’ve tried to see each and every run as a new adventure – not knowing what challenge will come your way, how your legs are going to feel or how steep the next hill is going to be. No matter what it is I’m going to try and enjoy it. I’ve even started carrying a camera in my bag incase I stumble (quite literally) across something exciting when I’m out and about.

Marathon Man Jamie

On Monday I enjoyed a new route – running from Hexham up to Slaley, dropping down to Riding Mill, which then led me to Corbridge, followed by the old favourite run back to Hexham. The run was 17 miles, with over 1000 feet of climbing to be done, but I still enjoyed it! Perhaps I have gone slightly mad, perhaps it was a good day or is it the feeling of adventure that excites me? Whatever it was I was delighted to complete the run in a time of 2hours 32mins.

Times like that could see me achieve a marathon finish time of under 4 hours – If I can keep to that pace for a further 9 miles.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

I have now completed over 150 training miles and continue to make steady (bordering on slow) progress towards reaching my fitness peak before marathon number one in Anglesey.
This last week has consisted of a lung bursting 14 mile trek towards Allendale and back, over 7 miles of bounding up hills, 9 repetitions of 800 metre sprinting, with each rep closely followed by that ‘I want to be sick feeling’ and a straight forward 8.5 mile run in torrential conditions.
The long Road to Allendale

The long road to Allendale

As each and every run becomes progressively colder and darker the feeling of isolation could not be greater. While others are wrapped up warm in front of the fire I’m out trudging the streets hoping my legs will one day feel the benefit. It’s not easy being a runner – one day you can feel on top of the world and the next like a lost puppy miles from home.

Work commitments and time constraints mean that Langley and I rarely get to run as a pair. Instead we have become the ‘loners’ of Hexham – the two blokes who many must think have no friends. Or is it that no-one else is daft enough to run with us?

Almost every word from each of the 105 songs on my ‘Marathon Playlist’ is now logged in my head, as I try to deflect my focus from my aching legs. I even find myself talking with the animals, so much so that I now find myself on first name terms with many of the local sheep and cattle, and in return they no longer run away when I close in – I think I’ve simply become part of the scenery. Something I’m perfectly happy with, as the sights and views are some of the best in the country. Cardiff We’re fortunate to live in such a beautiful area and perhaps if it wasn’t for such a fantastic valley in which I run this challenge wouldn’t seem so achievable.

On a good day I get lost in the countryside around me, but on a bad day I realise how far from civilisation I am. None more so than last Sunday’s run where Langley and I found ourselves running into an almighty headwind which numbed our finger ends and froze our faces. It can be tough, but when you look back its all great really! Well most of the time.

Back To School

Sunday afternoon began with the feeling of returning to school as we prepared ourselves for the physical challenge that is the 20 metre bleep test.

The Marathon Men and their Trainer!

The Marathon Men and the main man David Osgathorp!

Set in one of the gymnasiums at the old College for Education, now Northumbria Police HQ I really expected Mr Sugden, the PE teacher from Kes, to march in armed with whistle in hand and barking orders! Fortunately we were joined by David Osgathorp, a high profile personal trainer from London, who was on hand to give us some much needed advice and feedback from the results from the test.

ZachLangley and Jamie were joined by Judy and Zach for the
opening stages of the test, but Zach soon found other interests (mostly climbing on police mannequins and peddling like the dickens on one of the many exercise bikes dotted around the room) and Judy later dropped out leaving the two marathon men to push themselves as far as their legs would take them.

The test had certainly picked up its pace by level 9 (or
were we just slowing?) and the pair sprinted from point to point to hit the beats. Looking good at level 11 quickly turned to lagging behind as level 12 closed in. Langley reached shuttle 10 in level 11 before dropping and Jamie fell a shuttle later – showing how equal our relative fitness levels are as a pair.

We await the results with trepidation and David will be setting us a series of personal goals to help us in our build up to Anglesey.

If this wasn’t enough we then set off on a 16 mile riverside run from Newburn back to Hexham. A tough run, but very rewarding on completion.

If you would like to see what David made of our efforts check out his blog below!

Running For My Life

So the challenge has been set and training is well underway as Langley and I prepare for the gruelling 318 mile ten month battle ahead. That’s right folks, we will be running the equivalent of the Hexham to London car journey (plus a little more) as we aim to conquer twelve of the UKs most challenging and daunting marathon courses.

RunnersWorldIt will be fun though… wont it?

Training began on 24th October when Langley suggested we follow a Runner’s World approved training programme titled Break 4:00 or Bust. It sounded simple enough, simply follow what the plan says and you’ll see yourself racing home in under 4 hours no problem, yeah right!

Training was going well up until the annual Hexham Bonfire Night which sees thousands upon thousands of people descend on the town for the breathtaking fireworks display and drunken night out. It was the latter that really drew me to the event, although the fireworks were spectacular! The long and staggered stumble home allowed me sufficient time to remind myself that at 9am I was to meet with Langley for our first lengthy run – a ten miler! I was now beginning to see the challenge of the training programme – keeping your body in shape and ready for the next run!

9am arrived with a spritely looking Langley at my front door raring to go – he had no drink and a big smile. I left with 2 litres of Lucozade and banging headache. Thankfully the run went well and I had suitably recovered from the night before. The morale of the story is quite simply don’t go out bingeing the night before a big run. This was something I was keen to stick to – I had learnt my lesson (or so I thought).

As the daily miles increase I find myself enjoying the challenge more and more, approaching the next run with more hope and enthusiasm. I even ran 15 miles instead of the recommended 13 one Monday morning, something I never thought I’d be saying.

In the last week I have let myself slip ever so slightly by agreeing to a weekend away in Dublin with drink yourself dead mates, you know the ones – whose night isn’t complete until everyone is their best friend and the question of one more drink is followed by a cry of make it two. Well this was how I fuelled my body for three consecutive days – perhaps not the recommended way to prepare for the next big run!

Jamie on tour!

I read on my return: As a runner it’s important that you learn to fuel your body properly. When you start running longer distances, like marathon training calls for, it becomes even more critical that you know what, when, and how to fuel your body.

On my return I decided to put this theory to the test and set off on a 7 mile hill run, in which I would take on four of Hexham’s steepest hill climbs and I would do it as fast as my legs could take me.

The result: 48.44 minutes and averaging 7 minute miles

Such results baffled me and in many ways went against what the experts say, or perhaps it was a case of a one off or fluke!

However looking ahead I have concluded that a long weekend away in Dublin, sampling the delights of Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, Samichlaus, Mojito’s, Citrus Vodka and Jameson’s should be a regular feature on my pre-marathon training calendar throughout 2012 🙂

I look forward to the year ahead and in the words of The Spencer Davis Group I’m gonna Keep On Running