Pay Back at Trailblaster12

The race involves running a 3 mile trail route for 12 hours and when it’s written like that it all sounds quite simple really. For those of you who have taken part in a 12 hour ultra will know that it is nothing but.

Thankfully the start time was reasonably sensible (0800), but we still made the journey to Burnley the day before to make sure we had plenty of time to prepare. We grabbed a pub meal, booked into our hotel and spent some time preparing my Tailwind Nutrition drinks before relaxing with some TV.

Race morning started with me in a panic as I couldn’t find my Gurney Goo, I was positive I had packed it……or did I? Of course I did, I always pack it, where the hell was it? As per normal Lorraine remained calm and found for it me….panic over. Now I was calm, now I could relax, now I could race.

The game plan for this race was to run at a 10 min pace for as long as possible, the ultimate target was 60 miles. Somewhere in the back of my head though there was an argument taking place as to whether I should be racing instead of just running for distance. To late to argue now though, it was 0800 and it was time to run.

The laps whizzed past and it wasn’t long before I had clocked 9 laps(27 miles) in just over 4 hours. Everything was smelling of roses and life was sweet. Lorraine told me I was in 5th place, at first I was happy to hear this but all it did was bring the argument back again in my head. Now I didn’t have a clue why I was running this race, my head was in a spin, it was all over the place, I was totally confused but at least I was still running……for now.

33 miles and six hours in and…….Bam!!! Cold shakes, dizziness, disorientation, what the hell was going on? I was only half through the race and everything was falling apart. I was seriously worried that I would not be able to carry on, had I gone out to quick and blown everything? The calm but firm voice of Lorraine put paid to any more negative thoughts, after approx 15 mins I was back on my feet and running again. One of the great things that Lorraine gave me, was a couple slices of cake from the refreshments table. You would of thought she had gave me a new set of legs, along with the Tailwind Nutrition this was the answer to my prayers.

The argument in my head had been settled, I was definitely racing, I was ready to lay it on the line. Slowly but surely I began to make my way through the field…..6th, 5th, 4th and before I knew it I was chasing down 3rd place. John Lloyd(race organiser) and Lorraine told me that the 3rd place runner had stopped for a rest and I was now in 3rd place. This race suddenly became serious, very serious indeed. Now I was chomping at the bit, I wanted 2nd place but he was a lap ahead of me but I was ready and willing to give everything I had to catch him.

I think it was on completing lap 21 that Lorraine told me I had cut his lead down to approx 10 minutes. I was ready and waiting for news of this sort, this was my time, my moment. He was mine, no way was he keeping 2nd place. On catching him and completing lap 22 I was told I had to run another lap to secure 2nd place (this brings back some memories of Hope24). I was slightly confused by this but I very happily set off on lap 23(69 miles) with a monster smile on my face. Second place was mine, all I had to do was complete this lap. There were lots of hugs, high 5’s and hand shakes dished out to the marshals, I was on cloud 9 and floated around the final 3 miles.

I crossed the line after 12 hours and 18 mins of running, 23 laps, 69 miles and I had bagged 2nd place. I felt like I had won the race, my head was in a spin but this time for the right reasons. I have never been so proud of myself as I was on this day. I had ran my backside off for twelve hours and now I had something to show for it instead of nearly achieving something but not quite. Memories of a vile teacher from my school days came back again, he would stand me up in front of the class and use me as his example of someone who would never achieve anything in life. I think I can now say I proved him wrong, after 40 years I can now lay this to rest. Today was pay back.

Now it is time to cheer things up, drop some names and to say thank you to a few people; Firstly to Cannonball Events for organising a great race and having some of the best marshals and medics you could wish for.

Tailwind Nutrition UK for keeping me fuelled throughout the race, your product has helped to improve my running so much.

Team Buff UK for your continued support, the new kit is amazing.

Ellis Brigham(my new sponsor) and Inov-8 for sponsoring the event.

To my friends for all your comments during and after the race, they mean so much to me.

And finally………Lorraine; what more can I say that I haven’t already said about Lorraine. Lorraine is my energy, my soul mate, my wise head……..thank you, once again, Lorraine.


Team Buff UK

The paragraph below is a section from the email I sent to to apply for sponsorship and to join Team Buff UK, this explains when I found my purpose, my hunger, my passion for running.

My running history is nothing remarkable up until the early part of 2012 when I heard someone talking about an ultra runner who lived locally and was described as a ‘machine’. Once somebody had explained to me what ultra running was all about, something changed inside me, it felt like I had found my purpose. I met this ’machine’ aka Sarah Gardner Halls at TR24 2012, the look in her eyes said it all. This is what I was looking for in my running, this was the spark that lit the passion.  The transformation to ultra running has been exceptionally tough, but with guidance from several experienced ultra runners I have moved over to the ‘other side’.

For over a year I had 2 big targets to reach, one was to run 100 miles in 24 hours and the other was to be part of Team Buff UK.  Little did I know that within a 3 week time period I would hit both of these targets.  The 2nd of June 2014 started as a normal Monday back at work until I received the email from Sarah at Team Buff UK to confirm my place in the team. 5 days later I have calmed down a bit but feeling strangely nervous about donning ‘the kit’ tomorrow for 10k road race.  It really did feel like I had won the lottery when the box arrived containing my new running kit from Buff, frantically I ripped open the box and was welcomed by so many goodies as well as running shorts,tops etc.

So what does this all mean?  The answer to this question is very straight forward……..pride!!! For the first time ever I called myself an athlete, for the first time ever I have told myself I am a good runner, for the first time ever I have made to the higher levels of running. Here is something I found that sort of sums it all up;

There is a different kind of athlete.

One not content to stand still. They are brave, obsessed and courageous.

You can call them many things but never ordinary.

They push boundaries, stretch limits, challenge everything.

For them, there are no limits.

I no longer question the distance of a run, I no longer question my ability because nothing is beyond my limits.  The only thing that would stop me………is me, and I have allowed myself to run as far as I want too.

Run free, run true


BUFF¬ logo+ FLAT IS BORING horizontal  for Sports line CMYK


Hope24 race day

Everything was packed and ready to go by Friday morning as we had a 4 hour car journey to Plymouth straight from work. Lorraine picked me up from work and thankfully the trip was trouble free even though it was mid to late Friday afternoon as we drove down the M6 and M5.  We decided to pitch the tent at the event that evening to save more time on race day, this would turn out to be a wise decision from Lorraine as the weather on Saturday morning was wet to say the least.

buff start 2

The race

Nearly forgot to add this, for those of you who are not educated in the world of 24 hour ultras the race rules for solo runners are quite simple. You have 24 hours to run as many laps, each lap is 5 miles, as you can or you want too. Alongside the solo runners there are teams of 2 through to 8 also taking part, they have slightly different rules but I will save them for another day. The route is off road and I had no idea just how difficult it would be.

the runners

Race day

After a crap nights sleep in a really uncomfortable hotel bed and pre race nerves constantly charging around in my head we made our way to Newnham Park (only a 20 minute drive).  By this time I am mentally ready to run and I am pacing up and down. Lorraine told me to disappear and wonder around to chat with other runners to keep my head busy. Sometime before the race kicks off, Danny Slay(organiser) called everyone forward for a briefing and a group photo of all the competitors. this was fantastic as we were all asked to wear our Hope24 race tech shirts.

Buff start line

The kit

The running tops I brought with me were from races that either I had really enjoyed or achieved a PB, hoped that psychologically this would help. Trainers were Salomon Hornets(Up and Running), socks were X Socks Sky energisers(, Skins compression shorts with my Run and Ride long sleeve top. Nearly forgot Gurney Goo, if want to prevent chafing or blisters then this is the kit to use, thank you Colin and Elisabet from for recommending I use it.. Last but not least was of course, my Buffs(, a piece of kit you will very rarely see me without(slightly obsessed).  Bladder bag was thrown on and I was ready to go, ready to see if I had it in me to achieve one my dreams.

1200 hrs – race starts

In less than 2 mins we hit the first hill…..bloody hell!  It was a beast of a start and the first thought was that I would have to climb this 20 times in order to reach my target. Worst was to come in the shape of another hill at mile 3 and then a severe drop on the other side to let you know this was not going to be easy. The course had everything a trail route should, severe climbs and drops, adverse camber, mega puddles, mud, sheep, lambs(too cute) peacocks(noisy buggers!), slippery bridges, bluebell woods(awww!)…..and of course we had RAIN.  So lap 1 is completed in 46 mins and I receive my first reprimand from Lorraine for running too fast. The original plan was 50-55 mins, Lorraine was right, I was running too fast and I had to slow down, I had to stick to the game plan.  Laps 2,3 and 4 were at a more sensible pace and everything was good, laps 5 and 6 whizzed by and then I hit lap 7(35 miles)…..bugger!  Quads were hurting like crazy and I wanted to throw up, this was not in the race plan. Decision was made to remove all the compression kit to see if that might ease the quads and I would run 2 laps without food or fluids to hopefully resolve the nausea……Happy days on both accounts. So I was back out for lap 10 feeling on top of the world again and approx 55 mins later I had hit 50 miles.  50 miles and I am feeling great, for most of lap 11 I am asking myself, ‘how can you feel great after 50 miles?’  ‘how can you not be aching after 50 miles?……50 miles!!!  As you can tell I am in a happy place at this stage, I love everyone and everything in the world, even the hills are looking good at this stage.

Instead of counting upwards I am now counting the laps down. 8 to go, 7 to go, 6 to go and so on……I hit 5 to go and Lorraine calmly tells me I only have a marathon left to run(nearly), this made me feel pretty good as marathons are now used as speed training for ultras(had to steal that one Sarah…cheeky).  Just 25 miles left to run, just 5 laps, just 5 hours…….not feeling so good now. With 4 laps left to run I have a big head crash, I hit the wall, bonk. loads of expressions but they all mean the same……I hate my life and I hate running.  If Lorraine was not with me I don’t know if I could have dragged my sorry ass back out again. Somehow she managed to get me back on my feet and shuffling toward the start line again. It was time to embrace the pain, pain is my friend, it lets me know how hard I have worked(cheers Deb C). The shuffle slowly developed into a trot which in turn developed into running.  I was back, I was running and smiling again, I was in the place I know so well, I was in my untouchable and safe place…..thank you Lorraine!

totally Hope24Lap 17(85 miles) done and dusted, Lorraine wouldn’t let me rest on lap 18 and encouraged me to keep running and she said would run with me on my penultimate lap. The thought of Lorraine running with me was a huge lift, so off I went.  During this lap the emotions were a big problem for me as I foolishly allowed myself, all be it for a short time, to say I have now got this in the bag. No you fool, no you haven’t, you could trip and break something around the next corner and it could be all over.  I then remembered Tai Chi(spelling?), I started some breathing exercises to calm myself down and to regain control of my emotions.  I only did Tai Chi once several years ago but somehow I remembered it at a really crucial time.

Just 2 laps left and it’s only 8 o’clock, time is on my side with 4 hours to play with before the clock strikes 12.  True to her word Lorraine joins me for my 19th lap…..the penny drops, I have suddenly realise I have ran 90 miles, my previous PB was 83 miles…….smiling again, as every footstep is now a PB.  We set off together but unfortunately after about 2 miles Lorraine is unable to stick with my pace, this I think is due to the fact I am on top of the world, just having Lorraine with me has lifted my spirits. My pace is increasing, all my aches and pains have gone, my head is calm and full of peace and tranquillity.  Before I knew I had completed the lap, no time to stop and rest, I had 1 lap left…….1 lap?  Was I dreaming? Did I really only have 1 lap left to run?

Lap 20, just 5 more miles, just one more lap, just one more hour……….I only remember 3 things about this lap. These were having a chat with Kate, fellow solo runner, giving hugs and hand shakes to some of the amazing race marshalls and kissing the muddy ground at the top of the last big hill.  As I write this I am crying again, I could see the finish line, it was nearly over, my dream was in sight, it was right in front of me, I could almost taste it.  I have deleted and started again so many times about what to write for this part of the race and hit a blank, because the roar that I let out when I crossed the line cannot be put into words. The emotions that were screaming through my head are too many to write down, all I can say is for those of you who saw Mo Farah’s face when he won his first gold in the Olympics last year, his face as he crossed the line in first place was how I was feeling.  I had trained so bloody hard, I had sacrificed so much of me for this moment, 30, 40, 50 mile training runs at stupid times of the day, in all types of weather. The hundreds and hundreds of miles in training for this one magical moment.

I RAN 100 MILES! Me, Duane Roberts, the idiot who runs more than he walks, I RAN 100 MILES!  I have talked the talked for so long I am sure people were sick of my voice talking about how I was planning to run 100 miles.  But now I have actually done it!……I walked the walk…….I ran 100 miles……I AM AN ULTRA RUNNER!

As always there are people to thank, and rightfully so, because without the support from loved ones, friends etc. I am sure I would not be the runner I am today;

David Hollyoaks (Fatt Lad) and Sarah (Team Buff UK), two incredible people who have inspired me in so many different ways to continue the hard work, they taught me so much about the world of ultra running. Thank you guys.

Team Liverbirds(+ 2 blokes); Where do I start?  Everyone of you has supported me, believed in me and encouraged me in my quest to reach my dream. Some of you have shown so much personal strength to get through some very tough times in your own lives, yet you still continued to support me during these times. I will continue to draw the strength I need from this.  You are my second family, love you loads guys….thank you so much!

There are loads and loads of other friends and members of the running family that have given their words of encouragement and support to me…..thank you, thank you, thank you

That leaves one person, the most important person in all of this;

Lorraine, as I have said before, Lorraine is my guardian angel.  Lorraine is everything to me, she is my rock, my sensible head, my motivator, my support crew, my driver, my chef, my inspiration, my mate, my wife……..Thank you is not enough but sometimes it is all we can say…….. Thank you, I love you Lorraine x


Run Strong, Run free


with less than 3 days to go before I set off on a 24 hour run, I am now starting to worry. I am ok with this because it is keeping me on my toes and it is stopping me from being over confident.  I have trained harder and smarter for this challenge by setting off on my long runs on my own(between 30 and 50 miles). This I hope will prep me for the long dark hours when most people will be tucked up in their beds while I keep clocking the miles. 

My target is 100 miles and I WILL give everything to achieve this………..death before DNF!

Run free, run true

Up and Coming Ultras

the nerves are beginning to kick in, even though I still have another 8 days until ‘the race’ begins(Hope24). The fact that I have a 12 hour ultra on Sunday which does not worry me confuses me, I will be running approx 50 miles on Sunday and I have classed this as taking it easy before the ‘big run’. Either I am living in dream land or I have become a better/stronger runner.

I foolishly looked at the list of solo runners for Hope24, I am definitely in with the big dogs…..intimidating!!!

Need to stay strong and not to be intimidated by just a list of names, they are only human after all.



why am I doing this?

this is my attempt to put into written word my thoughts, feelings and no doubt my emotions about my relationship with running. Why? Well hopefully this will inspire, educate or just make an interesting read.  I have always been able to talk about running, hopefully I will be able express everything through this Blog.