Wednesday, 13 August 2014

LSD, Ozzy & the UTMB

“Cuckoo, Cuckoo, it’s great to be crazy” or words to that effect said Ozzy Osbourne to me and around 100,000 other folk watching Black Sabbath at Hellfest 2014, in Clisson, France. I’d been talking to some other festival folk earlier in the day who concluded I was crazy, because I participated in Ultra Trail running. So I suppose it depends on your perspective what crazy is, I thought after Ozzy said his piece. I certainly don’t think ultra-trail running is crazy and I didn't think I was for participating in it. Quite the opposite in fact, I think it’s a natural extension of being human. So having one of my nerdy moments I checked the definition of crazy; the online dictionary states this;

cra·zy  (kr z )
adj. cra·zi·ercra·zi·est
1. Affected with madness; insane.
2. Informal Departing from proportion or moderation, especially:
a. Possessed by enthusiasm or excitement: The crowd at the game went crazy.
b. Immoderately fond; infatuated: was crazy about boys.
c. Intensely involved or preoccupied: is crazy about cars and racing.
d. Foolish or impractical; senseless: a crazy scheme for making quick money.
n. pl. cra·zies
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Mmmm, interesting reading. It would appear then that using the word on an informal basis I can actually concur (from a trail running perspective) that I would have to tick the box for 2 a, b, & c! I would hazard a guess that most of my trail running friends would also tick these boxes in relation to their view of trail running. It would therefore appear that these people were right, I am crazy and most of my running friends are as well. Well at least when someone now says that I am crazy I can give an affirmative answer of “Yes, yes I am”. Just as a side note though, I think Ozzy definitely fits definition 1.
Nothing to see here, just an everyday occurrence in my Ultra Runners life...
So armed with my new knowledge that I am crazy a wave of relief swept over me. My trail running for 2014 has been a bit of a non-starter so far. As reported in an earlier blog, I spent the early part of 2014 on crutches and limping about due to a sub-luxed hip from the Spine Race. Once I started running though I then sustained an Achilles strain. I was trying to make up for lost training time, so when I started in April I did too much too soon, typical schoolboy error. No 10% per week increase for me it was 30%+ for me….ouch….fool.
Testing hip & achilles out at the V3K...I survived....Just! Photo Chris A Shoebridge
 I then succumbed to mononucleosis in mid-June (although not confirmed until July). As the weeks have been turning into months I have often thought why am I trying to carry on running, am I crazy or something? The only training I have effectively been able to do has been Long Slow Distance (LSD) runs,all speed work and fartlek or hill speed sessions have disappeared as the achilles and hip could not take them without moaning their bags of to my brain! "Oi! Brain, what are you making us do, we are falling apart here, are you crazy or something?" And finally, yep there was the answer all along in the online dictionary. You see, even though I couldn't run and train as I wanted, I was still ticking the boxes of 2a, 2b, & 2c. I was still following all of my running friends on FB, I was still buying trail running magazines, I was still reading trail running blogs, I was still watching YouTube clips and most importantly of all I was still trying to rebuild and refocus my training schedule and race schedule. I think I am on version 4 of the later now! Reading the definition of crazy from the online dictionary was quite amusing and made me chuckle but most importantly it reaffirmed to me the love I have for this demanding but fun sport and the beauty it gives me not only in the locations it takes me to but also the people I have met through it. At this moment I cannot envisage not being involved in this sport in some shape or form in the future. This then gave rise to a great feeling that there was no need to rush and fret about things then. It was, I suppose, about being in the moment via a route of acceptance.
Yeehaww, road trip!!
So by embracing this stance it looks like I will therefore run the UTMB in 3 weeks’ time. I use the word run rather than race as I am viewing it as a journey rather than a race. The reality is I am in no shape physically or mentally to race at the level of exertion I would feel happy with. I recently read Stuart Mills blog on his excellent run at the Montane Lakeland 50 at the end of July (another of my DNS’s!) ( . In it he talks about his race focus being on maintaining a positive mind set throughout his run. I found his take and outlook quite inspiring and if I am honest it was while reading his blog that I confirmed to myself I would run the UTMB. Every year hundreds or even thousands of ultra-runners are disappointed that they are not selected to run in this race. I have therefore been extremely lucky to be selected for this event and to miss this opportunity would therefore be a great shame. It may take me another 2 to 3 years to achieve the required points and get selected again, so carpe diem it is. It will be my first 100 mile event, and what an event and journey it shall be no doubt. As part of Start Mills pre-race training he asks himself 3 questions, "What do I want?", "Why do I want it?", and "How much do I want it?" So my answers would be; What I want….I want to complete the UTMB; , no DNS, no DNF; Why? To me to complete the whole of the UTMB would be a major turning point for me in 2014, it would show that my season and training can start and I can get the fitness and focus I want for my next race (Les Templiers ); How much do it want it?....I want this one really bad; when following the Hardrock 100 recently I was blown away by the total commitment that Timmy Olson showed in getting to the finish line despite the wheels coming off, epic! ( And also not forgetting that friend Stuart Air ( in the Hardrock 100 as well, went on to finish the race, despite being a great pain for the last 40miles and 17hours due to an ankle injury. Inspiring. So it’s quite simple, unless I'm pulled, I'm dragging my arse to that line in Chamonix for beers and baguettes no matter what. That’s how bad I want it.  Roll on the 29th August, I have an Ultra beard and I'm not afraid to use it! 


  1. There cannot be a better journey to enjoy than UTMB and a positive attitude should get us round. Hope to catch up in Chamonix.

  2. big up for the UTMB bro. Let that beard run free!!