Wow! This Saturday is a 'double header'!
At 6:07am on radio BBC4 there is a 23 minute programme titled "Trailblaze on the South Downs", part of the weekly Open Country series. Back in April I had a post about the new Trailblaze concept that involves running along some of the National Trails, including the South Downs, with an electronic 'dibber' to see "How far can you go?". During my Trailblaze run in April, starting at Eastbourne, I only managed to reach the 40km mark at Housedean Farm. Such is the appeal of the Trailblaze concept, there was the desire to run further. So around 2 weeks ago, starting early in the morning at 5:24am, I managed this time to reach the 56km mark at Devils Dyke. You can view my results on the Trailblaze website by clicking http://www.trail-blaze.com/race.asp?race=7You can also see the GPS trace on GarminConnect, where the elevation profile shows that it wasn't really a flat run!
Back to the headline news, yes this Saturday BBC4 are doing a feature on the apparent controversy surrounding the new scheme! Yes, believe it or not, but there is quite a vocal group campaigning against the Trailblaze scheme, who are fighting for the small white dibber boxers, located along the trails to be removed. They have even set up an opposition website using a nearly identical website address. Click http://www.trail-blaze.co.uk/ to see the opposition website!
So BBC4 decided to investigate the controversy, and in order to get a balance of opinion regarding the scheme, they needed a runner. Hence where I stepped in! Yes, I was the example runner, totally in favour of the scheme, with the strong belief that anything that encourages more people to get out into the countryside to appreciate the amazing outdoors which Britain is privileged to posses, must be a worthwhile project. So that is what I told the BBC4 reporter Helen a few weeks back, as she attempted to run the start of the South Downs Way, unfortunately for her up the steep climb to the top of Beachy Head. As you would expect trying to interview me whilst jogging beside me proved a wee bit difficult, so we soon stopped, turned around, and enjoyed the awesome view overlooking Eastbourne as she continued the interview. I can't remember exactly what we chatted about, but after standing and then walking a bit more along the South Downs Way, she took the easy option, climbed into her car, to leave me to run the short (but to her, the rather long) 4 miles along the trail, to Birling Gap, where we continued discussing the merits of the Trailblaze scheme.
So to get the full picture surrounding the Trailblaze scheme, and apparent controversy, make sure you tune in, this Saturday, radio BBC4, at 6:07am!
Will I be tuning in to listen? No, definitely not! As at around that exact time, I will be doing my final preparations for my first International race running for Great Britain. The 44 mile IAU World Trail Challenge, taking place in Connemara, Ireland, which starts at 7:00am. My preparation has gone well. The last two weeks has been all about the TOTAL preparation necessary to perform with success during Ultra Trail races, as I talked about during my recent presentation as part of the Lakeland 100/50 recce weekend. So I have been looking at my own presentation slides, and ensuring that my preparation is TOTAL, and that I haven't missed any key aspects.
So as I look forward to being on the start line, alongside 83 other male runners from 20 countries, I am really excited about running against some of the best ultra trail runners in the World. I don't think that you will be able to follow the race live, however, if I can get internet access in Ireland I will put a quick update on how the race went on my UltraStu blog on the Saturday. Otherwise, hopefully the official race website will publish the results soon after the race is complete.
Last month when I announced my selection in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team, I mentioned that there would be a post regarding the long journey from joining Hutt Valley Harriers in 1977 as a 14 year old, to gaining international selection as an Ultra Trail runner as a 48 year old! Many apologies, but the story of my journey will have to be now even longer, to include the 44 mile journey around Connemara! Hopefully within the next week or so I will have time to share my experiences with you, especially including the next few days in Ireland, which should be Ultra special!
Time to sign off with some current thoughts: "Too often it is easy to accept that one's ability is lacking, and to be comfortable with what 'cards one has been dealt'. However, 'the hand you end up with' is totally within one's own control, and is largely determined by the ability to question, to reflect, but most of all to persevere and to look deeply within at oneself, to develop the confidence, to possess the self belief, that more can be achieved, to extend oneself beyond the norm!"
May you all develop the confidence, and possess the self belief, to excel!