Running Yourself To Death

Grim ReaperIt is often said (mostly by non-runners) that running isn’t good for you. I think the evidence to counter that is pretty clear, although some people will always be unlucky.

But us runners are a funny bunch, we like a challenge and we like nothing more than when somebody tells us it’s tough. How tough? The tougher the better. So much so that race names that reflect the fact that you might even die are commonplace.

How blatant does a name need to get before you stop and question it? You Will Definitely Die Marathon; Fatal Fartlek Challenge; Pop Your Running Clogs Canter; Death With a Medal?

Here are a list of some of the cheerily named races. Anyone tempted? Know anything worse?

The Terminator

A challenging multi-terrain course of approximately 11 miles with a gentle start across fields and a canal towpath. It then gets serious with several climbs, a sting in the tail and a free shoe-wash.


Hell On The Humber

Hell On the Humber takes place on the world famous Humber Bridge, and is truly an endurance race like no other. Competitors start the race on a Saturday in August and run, jog, walk or crawl their way through 6, 12 or 24 hours of soul destroying and body breaking 4 mile laps of the bridge walkway, racking up as many miles as they can before crossing the finish line at 7am on Sunday.


The Black Death Run

The Black Death Run, probably the toughest off road run in the Country, yet still very achievable for even a modest runner.  It is estimated that less than 3% of last years runners ran the entire course, most walked the steepest hills. So join the crowd, run when you can, walk when you cannot, and enjoy the fabulous surroundings.


The Grim Reaper

The Grim Reaper is a non-stop race that continues through the night. The route incorporates multiple loops through the beautiful grounds of the Grimsthorpe estate. Solo and Team categories will compete over various race distances (40, 70 and 100 miles) with all categories and distances starting at the same time and all having the same time limit of 26 hours.


Canadian Death Race

Since the start of the millennium, elite racers have come to the Canadian Rockies to cheat Death in one of the world’s toughest adventure races. The 125 km course begins and ends on a 4200 foot plateau, passes over three mountain summits and includes 17,000 feet of elevation change and a major river crossing at the spectacular Hell’s Gate canyon at the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur Rivers.  Extreme athletes, individually and in relays, push themselves to the limits of their endurance against the breathtaking background of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Each year, well-trained and totally committed, they battle heat, cold, altitude and themselves. Finishing is the prize.


Summer Reading For Runners

So it’s summer at last and you’re all ready to jet off on your holidays. Whether that is to some luxury overseas hot-spot or camping on the Isle of Wight you want to occupy your free time sitting about sipping cocktails and beer.

A good book is an ideal way to relax during that precious couple of weeks off work. But what do you read? Well, if you’re into running, here’s a list of some of my favourite books (in no particular order) that I’ve read in the past year or so. Most are available as paperback or ebooks if you’re a techno peep.

It’s very far from an exhaustive list (if you want that check this one out), and they may or may not be up your street, but I enjoyed them. Why not give them a whirl.


Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes

This is the very first book I read about ultramarathon running. It was the very book that made me aware that anybody ever ran further than a regular marathon.

It’s a very easy and enjoyable read and tells of Karnazes’ own story of how he got into running such distances. I think this is something of a seminal book of its age, and no doubt responsible for many people taking up running ultras.

Amazon Link


Dead Man Running by Billy Isherwood

This book is a brutally honest account of one man’s tough upbringing and alcoholism. By his own admission it’s not the most well-written book, but a perfect example of a good story shining through.

From starting running to tackling the Atacama Desert Ultra, this book tells the whole story. Finding God at the end of the book did slightly tarnish the enjoyment for me, but it didn’t detract away from the tale.

Amazon Link


A Few Degrees From Hell by Scott Ludwig

The Badwater Ultramarathon is billed as the worlds toughest footrace. If you’ve read a few books on ultras you will have no doubt heard it mentioned in passing. But what is it actually like to run?

This book is a collection of varied accounts from people who ran the 2003 event. What makes this book so interesting is contrast in the tales. A truly brutal race.

Amazon Link


Running With The Kenyans by Adharanand Finn

It’s long been recognised that some of the fastest runners, particularly over the marathon distance come from Kenya, and more specifically Iten in the Rift Valley. But what is it like to train there?

That’s the question that Finn asks in this book as he moves his entire family to Kenya to train with the best runners around. Again, it’s an easy read and one that has a nice narrative.

Amazon Link


Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

Scott Jurek is up there in the ultra running halls of fame with Dean Karnazes and not unlike Karnazes’ book this covers Jurek’s upbringing and moving into ultramarathon running.

Jurek is also one of the highest profile of a number of vegan runners and this book also covers that topic and delivers some of his own recipes.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was Jurek’s side of the Copper Canyons adventure as told in Born to Run. Always good to get a different perspective on events.

Amazon Link


Born To Run by Christopher McDougall

Born to Run has to be one of the biggest-selling running books in modern times. It is constantly at the top of the charts and has been for years.

It’s a great read that sees McDougall questioning running shoes, science and how we were born to run to hunt before following a story and trail down to the Copper Canyons in Mexico and running with the hidden tribe of running people, the Tarahumara Indians.

It also undoubtably started the modern trend for barefoot running, the merits of which are a hotly debated topic.

Amazon Link

Running and Stuff

Running And Stuff by James Adams

Currently only available in ebook format, but with paperbacks coming along very soon, this book shows just how far it is possible to push yourself once you get an idea in your head.

Adams’ is one of the UK’s most prolific ultra runners who has finished more ultras than most people know event exist. If you can think of a race, Adams has run it and it’s in this book.

This is a brutally honest and funny book. If you want to know just what it is like to run extreme miles then this is the book for you. Here’s a full review.

Amazon Link


The Ghost Runner by Bill Jones

This is hands down the best book I have read in recent years about running. It is a tragic story of John Tarant, questionably one of the best long distance runners the UK has ever produced. But this is no simple tale of his rise to stardom.

In the 1950s when it is set amateur running was a very different world. This book highlights just how bureaucratic and petty this world was and Tarrant’s battle to be recognised to be able to just run. Brilliant.

Amazon Link


Fat Man to Green Man by Ira Rainey

OK, you got me, yes this is my own book. Obviously I think you should read this on your summer holidays. Why wouldn’t I?

What can I say about this book that I haven’t already said before? I was fat, I was lazy, I got a kick up the ass through a tragic situation, and I whipped my slacker ass into shape to run a bloody long way. Lots of people seem to like it. Maybe you will too. Here’s some more info.

It’s a tale of bionics, bumblebees and bears. Go figure.

Amazon Link

Talks At The Running Show

The Running ShowOn Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd November I will be giving talks at The Running & Endurance Sport Show at Sandown Park, Surrey. I will be there on both days (schedule yet to be finalised) talking about Fat Man to Green Man, the story behind it, the people in it, and my journey through it.

My talks will form part of a bigger programme of talks and technical seminars being held over two different theatres spanning the weekend covering all aspects of running.

The Running & Endurance Sport Show also will feature the best running kit available with loads of fantastic show offers and promotions. Exhibitors will be offering services including gait analysis, shoe fitting, fitness testing and more. You will also be able to sample a wide range of nutrition and health products. Sunday morning will also feature a series of 1 mile, 5K and 10K races.

The event organisers are offering free entry to all pre-registered visitors for this year’s show. All you have to do is visit their website and register. I’ll see you there.


Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest Review

Steve VestThis post was supposed to be a proper review of the Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0. But then I wondered how do you write a review of a running vest? Essentially you put it on, put stuff in the pockets and run off into the sunset. That’s about it really.

I figured it wasn’t even worth showing a picture of me wearing it as if you want to see it in action Google it and you’ll see much better pictures of Scott Jurek wearing it which would be much more influential than seeing me. So I thought for the purposes of this review I would post a picture of my cat Steve wearing the vest.

To be fair it doesn’t fit him anywhere near as well as it fits me, but I doubt that was big on his mind in this picture. Oh, and don’t worry he does have two back legs.

So the basics. Does it fit me? Yes. I’m not a small guy, I went for a large and it fits just fine. With it tightened up it feels, what I can only imagine as a guy, like running in a good sports bra. It certainly kept my moobs in place.

SJ Vest

Do the bottles hold water? Yep. The funky teets on the top were a little odd, but fine once you got used to them. Does it have lots of pockets? Check. My only complaint was that the pockets “designed” for holding your smartphone must have been designed for a Nokia 3330. I could get my iPhone 4S in it, but only just and even then not do the Velcro up. In the end I stuck it in one of the pockets next to a bottle. Ideal.

Is it cheap? No. But is it worth it? I think so. Do I like it? Yes. Does Steve the cat? No, definitely not.

It also has a whistle on it, a big pocket on the back, and it’s grey and blue. Nice.

More info? Full specs on the UD website.