Another Ultramarathon Running Blog

2016 Run Until You Drop Challenge

“Run Until You Drop” is a running based challenge which takes place in February each year. The inaugural event took place in 2015 and participants were challenged to run a number of miles equal to the day of the month (so 1 mile on the 1st of Feb, 2 miles on the 2nd Feb and so on all the way to the end of the month).

The challenge returned this year and was even tougher thanks to 2016 being a leap year and the small matter of an extra day to complete. This year we also offered a kilometre (Kilo Hero) option aswell as the mile (Mile Machine) version to widen the audience.

A few of last years finishers decided to return and a few of the more sensible ones decided to watch from afar and enjoy everyone else’s suffering.

I would also like to offer a few public thank you’s to Richard Davis for designing the database tool for logging your miles (although this was an honesty based challenge and people could log the miles themselves) and Mark Burnell for the fantastic logo and T-Shirt designs. This year we had “Challenger” and “Finisher” versions of the T-Shirts and I hope people liked the designs.

2016 Run Until You Drop Challenget T-Shirts

Thanks to Mark Burnell for the fabulous T-Shirt designs

Finally, last year’s daily themes were replaced with a new set of “challenges” with new ones set a couple of times a week and due to be completed from the date they were set to the end of the month. Complete a challenge and you could “win” a virtual bronze, silver or gold award.. amazing stuff eh? These were designed to be a mixture of competitive such as the Everest Award for running an elevation of 8848m in a month to the fun challenges such as The Banana Mile (just like the beer mile but replacing beers with bananas) and were purely optional.

2016 Run Until You Drop Challenges

Frank Womelsdorfs end game awards

As a disclaimer, the Run Until You Drop does not follow any sort of conventional running wisdom . Running every day without rest can lead to niggles and over-use injuries and participants are advised that they take part at their own risk! Safety warning over let’s get on with the report.

We established the Facebook Group this year for more community discussion and interaction and we soon grew to about 450+ members. How many were actually taking part and how many were just there to watch the carnage was undetermined.

Participants generally came from the UK along with a group of US runners but the Swedish equivalent of the Run Until You Drop group the “Valkommen runners jag pratar inte svenska abba” (I might just have to check that translation) also got in touch aswell. Welcome to all runners of all nationalities!

And so we begin our story…

Week 1

It all started nice and steadily with an easy few miles or km’s in the first few days and everyone settling into the challenge.

Returning entrant Ash Gilbert was planning on a stealth approach this year by not telling the wife he was participating. This could go badly wrong for Ash if she finds out he’s been sneaking out at night, talking to other people on Facebook, coming home sweating and exhausted after just ‘popping out to see a mate’… what other possible conclusion could she get to?

On Day 4 Chris Parry bled for the cause with a tumble and cut his hand. We hope your legs are ok for tomorrow. Andy ‘Oi’ Woodrow was finding the mathematics a bit of a challenge as he had now gone beyond his 3.9km distance run to work.. nothing a few extra laps of a roundabout can’t fix.

On Day 6 Alexa Jury was under the weather and lying in bed wondering what day it was. Unfortunately she had a thought it was still Day 5 so she pulled herself together and ran the obligatory 5 miles and returned home. She then realised it was Day 6 and she still had ANOTHER 1 MILE TO RUN! She managed to drag herself out of her sickbed to complete the additional mile.. phew defeat narrowly avoided.

On Day 6 Samuel Bolton gave his all for the cause running through intense nipple exploding pain just to log his miles on the way to the shops to get some plasters for tomorrow. Andy Fry unfortunately dropped as he started to feel some overuse injuries. On a serious note, it’s good to hear some people are being sensible and resting when needed.

On Day 6 some RUYD participants (including myself) took part in the Thames Trot a 48 mile wet muddy and very windy ultra marathon along the Thames Path. Oh we are so going to feel it on Day 7…

2016 Thames Trot Paul Ali 09

2016 Run Until You Droppers at the Thames Trot

Craigy “The Hashtag” Norris was back again this year and was #buzzing #about #running #challenges

After week 1 we had asked the guys to report how many people were still in the challenge and we had over 90 responses although Kate Hayden and John Brountas both had to drop for childcare reasons. This is just as much of a time management challenge as it is a physical challenge. We were also sorry to hear Fay Taylor-Ball also dropped here.

Week 2

Week 2 was another fairly straightforward week for me with the current mileage similar to what I normally run so no issues to report at the moment.

Richard Tickner dropped on Day 8 although he had just completed the Quadzilla (4 marathons in 4 days) and was probably due a rest day. Robbie Macintosh also dropped as a sore calf got the better of him and common sense prevailed with some much needed rest.

One of last years finishers Dan Connors wasn’t going to participate this year as he had recently completed THE SPINE RACE and he felt that he was still recovering from this event. He definitely wasn’t going to participate beyond the first week because he had just completed THE SPINE RACE. Did Dan mention he had recently completed THE SPINE RACE?

….he was still going after Week 1 and into Week 2.

Huw Williams was updating the Facebook group with a picture to represent the number of the day but started to struggle after Day 5 (Five Star) and started to use more oblique references (I personally liked the 80’s games flashbacks).

Amandeep Frida had a bit of a wobble on Day 8, falling 500m short of her daily target and informed the RUYD group of this fact. Amandeep said “I can’t”, the group said “You can”, Amandeep said “I can’t”, the group said “You can” (that sounds like some great lyrics to a Duck based song) and rallied around her with some encouragement and support and “virtual” support walks and she went and finished her mileage! Hooray!

On Day 9, Simon Bennett immediately picqued everyones interest when his Facebook update started with the words “Imogen just blew me…” and then we realised it was a storm reference. The Brits continued to moan about Imogen a lot although Keith Page was updating us from as far away as Dubai with the warm and sunny weather and generally just rubbing our noses in it.

2016 Run Until You Drop Keith

A cold wet February for Keith

Jez Turner was particularly concerned about potential discrepancy between the treadmill and their Garmin and made sure both exceeded 9km before retiring for the day. It is an honesty based challenge but it is nice to see people really are being open with their efforts.

The bonus challenges were being put out there and Shane Birks made the first formal claim for one of our bonus challenges claiming the Bronze Award for running in 3 different counties.

Day 9 and Dave Lewis reported he was going for a doggy trot. I wonder if he mis-spelled the word doggy?

As a reminder the RUYD challenge was open for walkers and runners (although the runners may turn into walkers as the days and miles/km’s mount up) as evidenced by Kevin Hollings who despite a long term injury preventing him from running still likes to enter these ‘silly’ challenges as a walker. Good man, Kevin!

Unfortunately Richard Davis dropped on Day 9 with the parting words of “Got to be sensible”.

Day 10 saw Rob Killingsworth, Nici Griffin and Mark Fox drop. Nici was another person who tried the “stealth” approach by cheating on her running coach by going out and running extra miles. After Day 10, the guilt caught up with her and she decided to call it a day.

Day 11 saw Andy ‘Oi’ Woodrow and Dean Allaway drop. Andy was probably fed up of running an increasing amount of extra loops around the roundabout near his work to make the daily mileage. Sorry to see you go guys.

Week 3

We were nearing the halfway point in terms of days but less than 25% of the distance in terms of miles and things were going to get tougher over the next few days. A quick check with the Facebook community revealed we had about 50 people left in the competition. This was the week that we would see quite a few drops as the mileage started to ramp up, the time commitment becomes harder to manage and there is still another monster week of running to look forward to.

Personally, I was fortunate this was half term week which meant I had the luxury of not doing the school run and being able to make an extra run into work. This week I largely completed the daily mileage with a run to work, lunch run and a run home meaning I had the evenings free to ‘rest’ (i.e. spend the evening on the Facebook group).

Unfortunately Week 3 saw quite a few people withdraw.

On Day 15 Greg Beattie dropped. Greg commented that “perhaps one day I’ll be a proper grown up and listen to the advice the physio gave me on stretching. Not injured but I have a leg in need of some care”.

Sinead O’Connor also dropped.. good luck with the pop career (sorry that was a very obvious pun).

Day 16 and last years finisher Wendy Shaw was out, then in, then out, then in and then out and then she shook it all about before being sensible and dropping to focus on being fit for upcoming races. Unfortunately Matt O’Neil dropped as did Michael Lord (he didn’t have a prayer… I know the puns get worse) and Ken Hughes also dropped with man-flu (a much worse version of the ‘flu).

Dave Baker went out for a 10 mile run when his calf went… cue phone call to the wife to pick him up which was the end of his journey. Man down! Man down!

THE SPINE FINISHER Dan Connors dropped on Day 18 but he had recently completed THE SPINE so he had a reasonable excuse to rest as he had just completed THE SPINE.

Unfortunately another one of last years finishers Ash Gilbert dropped on Day 19 in his words “I felt awful; the list of those who I’d disappointed was long…. I had nothing to show for it but an irritated mind and a re-occuring stress fractured left foot.” However, the good news was that the foot injury wasn’t so bad and I had the pleasure of running with Ash a few days later during a marathon event where he set a new PB time. So every cloud and all that…

2016 The Good The Bad & The Ugly Marathon - Paul Ali 00

Paul Ali pictured with Ash Gilbert (that T-Shirt is sooooo last year Ash)

Dave Lewis dropped as did Chisholm Dupree as did Stuart Etkins as did Kelly Mitchell as did Dave Lewis as did Simon Bennett… this week was taking its toll on people and Day 19 saw a lot of casualties.

Day 20 was the day that runners would get halfway through their mileage for the month.. yes that was the good news. James Moore also worked out that we had 222 hours until the end of the challenge at a certain point in the day and 225 miles or km’s to go. I bet it took him all of his 10 mile run to work that out.

We also saw more reports of runners splitting their runs with Maya McCormack reporting a 6km buggy run followed by a very inventive 4.25km “pre run club solo warm up run” and an 8km back marking duties at the club to get the kilometres done.

However, for every drop there was still someone going strong and still some people were completing the challenge in a solo run each day. One of the most interesting updates was from Michael Craig on Day 20 who reported a “remarkably unremarkable run”… unbelievable Geoff!

Jan Carstens had a slightly more remarkable run completing a 1.2k loop 20 times to complete this mileage for the day. Kay L Scott was also feeling loopy after completing most of her miles around a 0.18 mile loop at lunch or a 0.36m loop around the house.

We also challenged our runners to spell a word on their runs with Jon Errington paying homage to the group with this effort.

2016 Run Until You Drop RUYD

It’s sort of a word

Unfortunately Vikas Kawatra dropped on the 20th, sorry to see you go Vikas.

Strava updates were getting weirder with Gerry Craig reporting “RUYD Day 20 I am officially burst”. Sorry, I’ve heard of a nosebleed, but in my many years of playing sports, I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say “I’ve just burst!” (Bonus points if anyone can name the comedy reference here)

Mark Bissett was also the first to claim the Everest Award for having run a total elevation of 8848 metres already, good effort man!

Unfortunately Shane Birks had to drop after a monumental effort including chaffed heels with his legs seizing up and a swollen calf it was time to call it a day. Great effort Shane. Andy Wicks also dropped with a “heads over legs” decision and not wanting to risk an injury.

Gordon Hughes was making a regular appearance on the Facebook group with this motivational messages and videos which kept everyone amused. Great to get involved Gordon, a pleasure to have you in the group.

Day 21 saw Alexa Jury drop. Alexa primarily covered the distance by walking with her dog, got to 15 miles last year and 20 miles this year so next year its got to be 25 miles for the pairing.. Alexa? Hello?

Darren Clark also dropped on Day 21. He contemplated dropping from miles to km but he took the purists view and made an all or nothing decision..

Kilo Hero Challenger Alex Whearity ran a 1.20 at the local half marathon despite the mileage over the previous days, good job sir!

One of the most amusing Facebook updates I spotted was by Liz Norred who simply stated “Guys, I’m tired”.

Week 4 “Hell Week”

Week 4 and 1 week to go and the finish line was nearly in sight… only the small matter of a 175 mile week followed by a bonus 29 mile day, no problem at all… not problem at all. We had about 30 or so people left in the challenge now and with Week 3 seeing a high number of drop outs.

Into week 4 and the enigmatic Seko Francis was nailing the long runs early and getting the job done in a totally understated manner.

Some of our friends from the US were going well with JP Caudill, Jim Hopkins, Andy Noise, John Wallace III all posting positive updates.

Some of our “Challenger” T-Shirts started to arrive as can be seen in the photo below:

2016 Run Until You Drop Michael 02

Michael modelling the Kilo Hero Challenger T-Shirt

Day 22

Marissa Harris was finally beaten by travel logistics on Day 22 as she spent the day on a 747 and was a bit concerned about the looks she might have received running up and down the aisle. (Shhhhh…. Don’t tell Marissa but she should have simply switched her Garmin on, sat back in the seat and switched it off at the end of the flight.. job done)

Multiple runs were common place with Michael Lunn reported his first “quad” day of the month although Jonny Pritchard was still managing single runs which was pretty impressive.

My time was now spent running 1 mile around the block whilst waiting for the car to defrost early, followed by the school drop off, followed by a short run, then work, then a lunch run, then a run home then tea then complete any remaining miles in the evening and then bed. That was my life for the week. I told myself I was definitely just going to do kilometres next year… definitely… that’s my final decision… honest.

James Moore was also sneaking in the bonus miles with a quick 2 miles during a 30 minute lecture break in his jeans and a hoody. A man has gotta do what a man has gotta do.

Unfortunately Caroline Beresford dropped on Day 22 and despite dropping happily reported that this silly challenge has got her back into and enjoying her running. Well one success story amongst tens of injuries is worth shouting about I think.

Day 23

Michael Craig was giving himself a hard time with the quality of his running (his morning sessions he classed as “technically shite”) but he managed to redeem himself later and then headed upstairs to bed at the very late time of 8.30pm.

Work commitments saw Keith Page drop with a long afternoon evening shift and no time to finish off the miles as did Jez Turner after making it to Day 22 and much further than he had expected. Well done guys!

Andrea Stewart made the switch from miles to kilometres and happily reported that the metric system was far more enjoyable.

Pictures of wine or glasses of beer in the evening were now becoming far more prominent on the Facebook group with Maya McCormack and Paul Beechey the prime suspects behind this booze fuelled running strategy.

2016 Run Until You Drop Maya 02

Maya’s loyal army of supporters

Day 24

Michael Craig reported the first completion of the day all the way from Singapore. For the rest of us in the UK (or even further West in the US) there was nothing more demotivating than seeing someone else having completed their run before you had event started yours.

Gordon Hughes continued to amuse and amaze with his daily motivational videos and was still going strong in the running stakes.

Richard Pomeroy was running all hours of the days with selfies appearing morning, noon and night or was it very early morning.. I’m sorry we were all starting to lose track of the time by now.

Unfortunately Liz Nored dropped on Day 24 as the challenge just wasn’t fun anymore. Liz, Liz… it took you 24 days to work that out?

Jonny Pritchard was still on single runs #manonamission

One of the bonus challenges was to complete “The Banana Mile” (like a beer mile but just with banana’s). Ken Hughes and I decided to give this a go. Using cold (and therefore firm) bananas, trying to run fast and then eating a banana whilst completely out of breath is a difficult feat. I managed to run a pretty quick mile for me but it took me 3 minutes to eat the bananas but I’m still claiming it as a NEW WORLD RECORD! Next year we will try a different fruit.

You can watch the video here (Facebook users)

2016 Run Until You Drop Ken

Ken enjoying the Banana Mile

Seek Francis as now showing off by running 31 miles on a 24 mile day. Peace.

Jonathan Errington was still going strong and did a pretty good Parkrun tourist effort of 25 miles including 4 Park Runs in a single day.

Ivan Kissane was hanging in having scraped his last 10km at 23.52pm in the evening to complete his mileage.. nothing like cutting it fine.

Unfortunately Gerry Craig dropped due to a reoccurrence of plantar fasciitis (I assume it was that unless PF stands for “Pretty F****d?”)

Day 25

Michael Craig managed to complete Day 25 but decided to bow out at this point. The only thing that would save him was an EPO infusion but we are runners not cyclists so no luck with any contacts there (ohhhh harsh).

2016 Run Until You Drop Jon Errington

Jon reminds us its Day 25

Jan Carstens was still hanging in after a nasty fall resulting in severe abrasions and lacerations on his leg (he grazed his knee).

2016 Run Until You Drop Jan

Man Down, Man Down

Bonus points today to Maya McCormack for wearing the RUYD T-Shirt out on a run.

James Moore had a near miss by waking up late thereby missing his morning 4 miler, going to the gym for a treadmill run, forgetting one trainer and then having to buy a cheap pair of trainers just so he could run. You know what they say in the army “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance”

The shock of the day was mile legend Rob Soutar (he runs more miles than me… my hero) dropped. Rob was a stellar performer all the way through the challenge and dropped after deciding to lie in bed rather than get up at 3.30am for a 25 mile run. Take a good look at yourself Rob.. not going out for a 25 mile run at 3.30am what’s wrong with you eh? 😉

Dave McNamara also reported he was out at this time.

Richard Pomeroy showed off with a 27.2 mile run on Day 25 or just got his sums badly wrong.

2016 Run Until You Drop Richard 02

27.2 miles on Day 25. Show off.

Kay L Scott had an injury worry after straining her right quad but was still determined to hobble out the miles… only 4 days and 110 miles to go.

Day 26

Michael Lunn reported “Nearly there”. I managed to do 5 runs in one day in the same kit. Gordon Hughes received an epic High Five from a random stranger for reaching 1000 miles in the year already. Jon Errington ran, flew to Malta and than ran again. Maya McCormack hobbled around but got the miles done. Paul Beechey did his 26 miles in a single run. Jan Carstens got his run done but wasn’t looking forward to tomorrows run after a works night out which “could get messy” and there were more selfies from Frank Womelsdorf.

The sad news was that John Wallace III dropped. John described this as a great challenge to test the body, test the mind and test common sense and common sense prevailed today.

Day 27

As it was a weekend I had the time to run 27 miles in one go. I ran 27.94 miles and didn’t even bother running a few extra yards to make it up to whole number. I must be either really chilled, got my sums wrong or totally knackered and did not want to run another step after I got back to my front door.

The regulars were reporting in that they had completed their mileage, James Moore was so happy he even gave us his famous “Blue Steel” selfie which he has been perfecting over a number of years.

2016 Run Until You Drop James Moore

“Blue Steel”

There was a late scare from Mark Bissett who reported he was close to dropping due to a sore Achilles but managed to force himself out for a run/hobble (yes, they’re the best type of runs). He was later pictured tucking into several bacon sandwiches which cures all niggles I believe and back on it the next day.

Ivan Kissane reported he was “Still in.. just”. Surely no-one would drop this close to the end?

Ahhhhh… unfortunately Howard Seal reported he was out on Day 27 after his hip went. Gutted for you Howard.

Day 28

Day 28 and a Sunday which meant it was a little easier to get the miles in with most people not working. There were a lot of single runs today so I guess most people just wanted to get the mileage done so they could relax the rest of the day.

Gordon Hughes was still posting his motivational videos on Facebook… what have we unleashed?

Day 29

Day 29 and the final day. Thanks to lots of the Facebook community for posting motivational messages for people on the last day. This is it, lets do this, lets get it done.. bring it home and all the other random power messages. Seriously, everyone who was still left in at this point are all Heroes!

Wendy Shaw reminded people how lucky they were to be participating in the challenge this leap year. You have to wait another 4 years to run the extra 29 mile day so you had better enjoy it!

Then we received some bad news.. someone had dropped on the final day! Unfortunately Warwick Gooch injured his ankle and was in pain even attempting to walk and couldn’t risk a 29 miler. I don’t know how Warwick felt (he was good enough to wish everyone all the best) but I was gutted just hearing the news.. It still hurts typing this now. Um, see you next year? Maybe?

For the rest of the runners, the positive vibes from the community were flowing. Dave Lewis summed it up well with “Go you awesome bunch of nutters!” and then the results started coming in with people finishing the challenge.

2016 Run Until You Drop Tiagio

Tiago wins!

Personally, I kicked off the final day with 6 miles at 5.45am before doing the school run and managing another 5 miles before work. I blasted (slowly) out several more miles at lunch leaving about 11 miles in the evening. Around 4pm in the afternoon the knee locked up. However, a few painkillers and a bit of walk to get going and it thankfully loosened up enough for me to plod the last remaining miles. not quite the strong and glorious finish but job done.

I was happy to complete the challenge again and as with last year was starting to feel those niggles in the last week which in all honesty was a bit of a grind.

2016 Run Until You Drop Maya

Maya celebrates with booze and cake

Tiago Bandeira de Lima posted this photo from the Strava February distance challenge. Recognise any names there?

2016 Run Until You Drop Mileage

Don’t recognise any of those names..

The Finishers

Congratulations to all our list of finishers who are listed as follows.

We had 8 Kilo Hero finishers and 15 Mile Machine finishers. If I have missed anyone off the list then please let me know and I will update this list.

2016 Kilo-Heroes!

Alex Whearity

Jim Hopkins

Ian Patterson (Strava group)

Michael Lunn

Andrea Stewart (2nd year veteran)

Ivan Kissane

Jan Carstens

Maya McCormack

2016 Mile Machines!

Craigy Norris (2nd year veteran)

Tiago Bandeira De Lima

Frank Womelsdorf (2nd year veteran)

Jon Errington (2nd year veteran)

Mark Bissett (2nd year veteran)

Gordon Hughes

Seko Francis (2nd year veteran)

James Moore

John Price (2nd year veteran)

Richard Pomeroy

JP Caudill

Kay L Scott

Paul Beechey

Thomas Hayward (Strava Group) (2nd year veteran)

Paul Ali (2nd year veteran)

Each person fully deserves their finishers T-Shirt as modelled by yours truly.

2016 Run Until You Drop Paul Ali

Finishers T-Shirt

Summary

Richard Pomeroy neatly summarised the many emotions and feelings of taking part in the 2016 RUYD Leap Year special with a “You know you’re part of the Run Until You Drop challenge when…”

· Your fitbit buzzes your step goal BEFORE you reach work

· You have to charge your Garmin more often than your iPhone

· You get through your iTunes shuffle playlist twice in one day

· None of your three pairs of trainers are dry. Ever.

· The dogs have stress injuries.

· You can’t stop yawning.

· You can’t stop eating.

· You don’t feel guilty having a beer / wine.

· Every day becomes a blurred run-work-run sandwich.

· Run – Eat – Work – Run – Eat – Sleep – Repeat

· Your local coffee shop, with whom you are are now on first name terms, has your regular order ready for when you arrive

· Your running group think you are awesome!

· The youthful staff at the local gym are marginally impressed

· Your personal trainer has threatened to excommunicate you if you take another step (Nici?)

· You need a second new pair of shoes in one month

· You have made a lot of new friends on Facebook

· You learn to love your bed once more and every early morning start is a heart wrenching event

· Going over a speed ramp in the road is like climbing Everest

· You start to wonder if wearing your running gear 6 times in a row is socially acceptable

· Your mental arithmetic, to hit an exact distance on your return to home becomes legendary

· While you are not working out your distance remaining on a run, you think of nothing but food

· The niggle-suppression area of your brain becomes super-sized

Thanks again to everyone who got involved in running, supporting or just hung around in the Facebook group. It was great to see a sense of community spirit develop between runners all over the world.

See you all in 2017? For those who want to get involved next year then you can find the Facebook Group here

 

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