Archive for Andy Ratcliffe’s runs


Today’s the day – the 1095miles club get its third completed member when Steve Morris does his final run later on. Having been there myself, I can attest for what a strange feeling it is… I remember being tempted to go out the next day and continue the streak but I’m glad I didn’t – I’d probably still be running two years later.

Andy and I had the chance to meet Steve last week for a drink – funny how we’ve all done the same challenge, had never met but had tonnes of talk about running to discuss. Who said it’s a lonely sport?

As Steve leaves today, so does our newest member Dominic Rees. Dom has decided that the blogging side of the challenge is not for him – as all those who’ve done it can attest, the daily blog is as much a slog as the runs at times, but being able to talk about the runs and proving you have done them by some form of GPS tracking is important to the challenge. When Andy and I did 1095miles, we both had people variously doubting the veracity of the challenge even with the GPS proof – imagine if we didn’t have it.

Dom has decided to continue running on his own and leave the blog – it’s a shame but we wish him well. To Amanda, Aoife, Ben and David (and hopefully soon to a new member Paul Wray), all I can say is keep on running. You’re all doing an amazing job and myself, Andy and Steve all look forward to welcoming you as fellow members of the 1095 miles club when you complete the challenge.


So very proud of you all….

Loving the fact that we have multiple people in different countries now doing the run…

We’re seeing an awesome effort from Steve Morris who is not far off from finishing now – and after great starts from Aoife Gilmartin in Northern Ireland and David Whitehead on the West Coast of England, it’s brilliant news that we now also have Amanda Gosek who has just completed the first week of 1095mile challenge over the Atlantic in steamy North Carolina…

It’s a great collective effort guys – wishing you all strength for the days ahead.


Day 1 – Today I ran 3 miles…

…I’m joking!

As James said typing the words ‘Miles to go: 1092’ ever again would not suit either of us! Been there, done that, once is enough to prove it’s possible by me.

It’s a shame to see Neil have to pull out on shin splints and echoing James’ words, I hope that Helen is ok. Better to have had a go guys, remember that.

All the best to you guys still going. Long way to go, but clearly it’s just not as easy as it sounds (and both James and I would agree!) so it will be a great achievement when you get to the end.

And yes, I’m joking, I’m definitely not kicking off another year. But I did truly run today…just so you know!


Today’s shoes: Silver and Yellow Kayano
Miles today: 8.68
Miles to go: 1092
Miles to date: 8.68 😉
“Besides the practical knowledge which defeat offers, there are important personality profits to be taken.
William Moulton Marston

Day 366 and beyond: 1095miles – The Aftermath and the cost of this obsession…

This is a long one. I make no apology whatsoever!

Part I: Thank you

Firstly, I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to some special people, without whom this challenge would have fallen flat. There are so very many of you, here goes. Thank you to…

Those people closest to me, from whom this challenge has, at times, distracted my attention. You know who you are. I’d like to say it’ll get better from today, but there are bigger challenges ahead as you already know, and you know I can’t pass up a challenge. Thanks for your unending support, cheering, encouragement and of course putting up with my endless prattling on about running 😉

You are closely followed by my late Grandmother, who always told me I could, even if everyone else told me I couldn’t.

To those people who took on the challenge with me, at our regular Tuesday night run, to keep me from going insane with the boredom of running alone: David, Damian, Genevieve, Alex, James, Angela…the list goes on…

…and includes my upside down friends in Oz who completed the final fortnight with me, great people and huge supporters, Michelle and David with whom I have shared the joys of Sense holidays and the joys of running 😉 Thank you guys. Run well.

Next up, the Blackwater Valley Runners club and more specifically the following people who have inspired, encouraged and advised me over the last few months (and entertained my looooooong Sunday run requirements!): Dave, Alan, Nick, Paddy, Steve, Bill, Barry and of course Sandra. Thank you guys. I really appreciate it.

I’d like to specifically thank the following people that I have met through my running addiction and whom have kept a keen eye on the blog, namely: Keith, Aussie Alex, Gill, Neil and several of my colleagues.

Thanks go to my colleagues at work with whom I have spent time discussing the challenge, asking if what I propose to do is mad enough to be labelled ‘challenging’ and from whom I have received a great amount of support and encouragement.

To the holiday leaders and team from Sense, with whom I have run a good few miles, thank you for entertaining my requests for running friends and donning your gear to keep me going at each and every opportunity.

To Sense for supporting me throughout and for providing the wonderful Holidays program which drove me to take on this mad challenge (and become a better person for it!) I thank you greatly.

To the media for responding to my incessant requests for ‘airtime’ and actually giving me some to spread the word.

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingNearly there…To everyone who has sponsored me, you know I appreciate it but I’ll say it again, thank you for supporting such a worthy cause.

To Gill for her poem and for the push onwards to the next ‘thing‘ in the saga that is my life.

And finally a great big 1095mile long thank you to James Ellis. Why specifically? Well allow me to explain… for being fool enough to do the challenge in the first place, inspiring others to follow suit, for finding me and seeing the possibility, being persistent enough to make me take it on, generous enough to let me make it my own, kind enough to support me throughout and keeping faith, and dedicated enough to ensure it lives on for another year (or is it three 1095mile years?). Thank you buddy.

There will no doubt be people that I have forgotten to mention here. I also have no doubt that I will have personally thanked you but I apologise for the omission anyway. Consider yourself thanked!

Part II: Things I have learned in the past year. AKA ‘On running and other things.’

There’s nothing quite like the buzz of a race. Really, nothing. They make great targets and milestones in a long year of running!
If you haven’t run before, start with a quarter mile and go home. Do a third of a mile a couple of days later. Within weeks you’ll be doing a handful of miles. Beyond that, the world is your oyster as they say 😉
Keep plugging away, no matter how far you can run now, it get’s better. Much better. Desire provides the drive.
Get yourself some well fitted (and gait analysed) shoes from your local running shop (and get some advice of which shop is good, all running shops were not created equal!)
Running isn’t quite as free as they’d like you to believe but it’s cheaper than many other sports. They make ‘technical’ running gear for a reason though, it works.
Pretty much anything is possible, given enough time and mileage. Get yourself a good training plan and stick to it. Your race is all in the (weeks of) preparation.
Find yourself a suitable running club, one that gives you what you need, be it motivation, fun or a regular hard run.
Don’t underestimate the value of days off (he says, on day 366 of consecutive days running!) they allow the body to recover!
A marathon is not two half marathons, it’s more like three and I mean it 😉

Part III: How do I feel?

This is a year I will never forget. That is for sure. I have so many fond memories of moments over the year. Thankfully they are immortalised in the blog pages and I don’t have to try and remember them all! I’ve come a long way in a year, as a runner and as a person. There will be something missing tomorrow, when I don’t run, or blog. I feel sad about that but it’s definitely time to let someone else have the limelight for a while 😉

Part IV – The highlights of my year…

Meeting Mo Farah was a special event, mostly because he’s such a lovely bloke and very down to earth.

Meeting James Ellis last July (sorry mate, you come second on account of not having the Gold or even the Silver medal!) as he’s a genuinely nice person and a good friend. And the mad man who convinced me to do this to myself 😉

Completing the Brighton marathon in sub 3:30, having only decided to do so that morning was a bit of a special moment and a great achievement in my running career 😉

Arriving last night, early, to meet Helen, who is lovely and then finding the group of runners just kept getting bigger and bigger. Thank you everyone, you made it a really special evening.

Running the Great North Run with “Day 363, nearly there” pinned to my back and having many many people pat me on the back and say “Only two more, well done!”

Hearing from James that we are actually quite well known in the blogging world, he was randomly recognised by someone from the Guardian who said “I love yours and Andy’s blog!” Excellent!

Joining the Blackwater Valley Runners and discovering they really are more about making running enjoyable than anything else. Lovely people with whom I enjoy spending time, and it makes me want to run too. Can’t be bad eh?

Taking my life in my hands and running up and down a dark high speed road on my Sense holiday. Not a great moment, but a moment I’ll never forget, for sure!

There’s one consistent ‘moment’ though. Every time I’ve run with somebody. I’ve run hundreds of miles on my own, that’s true, but I’ve also run a couple of hundred with other people, and they have been the best miles by far!

Part V – The cost of this obsession…

I’ve been writing a day 366 – ‘After the 1095miles year’ blog post along the lines of the credit card ‘Priceless’ adverts. Would you believe that I have covered 1700 miles, burnt 190,000 calories and ascended the equivalent of Everest…TWICE and a bit more? All to raise £1800 for charity. And to keep myself from getting bored 😉

…In the style of a well known credit card provider:

1 sprained ankle – priceless (and very painful)
100+ ibuprofen tablets – about three quid!
7 pairs of running shoes – £560
2 marathons – £96
3 half marathons – £117
1 running club membership – £25
6 10k’s – £153
240 hours on my feet – who knows!
230,000 heart beats!
18,500m elevation gained (or twice and a bit up Everest @8848m!)
190,000 calories (or 680 mars bars @ 50p) £340
1 copy of “Advanced Marathoning” – £10
Taking over my life for a year – Priceless

Oh, and I ran today, again. The Club run. Day 366? 😉 The difference? I ran out of choice rather than necessity and it felt good to do so.

The above “thank you” section has taken me about a fortnight to write, but was written well in advance of today to try and make sure I got everybody in. As of this evening, I have an extra couple of “thank you’s” to do. Firstly to Dave and the rest of the club for my honorary club shirt and medal to celebrate the completion of my year of running. It was a very kind gesture and I wish to thank you once again for it. And second, to Michelle and David for the package of TimTams (I didn’t have a clue what they were when Michelle mentioned them a few days back) so that I am now able to confirm, they are indeed superior in every way to the very British Penguin biscuit!
There have been a lot of you who have had a hand in my year of running, I hope to have acknowledged you all here. Thank you all again…

I don’t actually want a day off tomorrow, but I’m going to force myself…I’ll have to go some way yet to beat these guys anyway:
“The greatest average mileage run daily [over a year] is 61.87 km (38.44 miles) and was achieved by Tirtha Kumar Phani (India), from 30 June 2006 to 29 June 2007, in Calcutta, India. Tirtha Kumar Phani of Calcutta, India ran every day, running 22,581.09 km (14,031.15 miles) in total.”
And there is of course Dr. Ron Hill:
“Dr Ron Hill (b. 21 Sep 1938, UK), the 1969 European and 1970 Commonwealth marathon champion, has not missed a day’s training since 20 Dec 1964. His meticulously compiled training log shows a total of over 234,177 km (145,511 miles) from 3 Sep 1956 to 23 March 2005. He has completed 115 marathons, 114 of them sub 2 hr 52 min, and raced in 88 nations.”

Maybe next year eh? 😉

Speaking of which, keep an eye on over the next few days. It’s beginning to take shape!

I’ll leave you with a gallery to remind you of some of the interesting snaps from my 365 days of running.

Run well everyone…


Day 365 – I thought about how many preconceived prejudices would crumble when I trotted right along for…1095 miles ;-)

Left to Right – Molly, Gemma, David Steve, Me, Pauline, Helen, James, Jamie, Nick, Ben and James

Erm. That’s it. is it?

Well, no. There’s something interesting about today.

It’s been a long day. A very long day. Never one to let it lie, never one to leave the last little bit unfinished, I got up early and did a little running. 15.41 miles of it to be exact. Funny how that left me with just 3 miles to go to hit 1700. What a coincidence 😉

The morning run was terribly slow, terribly long and terribly hard work. The fatigue is evident, but hey, it’s the last day isn’t it! The evening run will be challenging, but there’s no rush.

The evening run was a brilliant experience. I would like to thank everyone who came to support me in my final run and to support Helen in her first. We really do appreciate it! It was truly a wonderful feeling to see so many familiar faces and so many new ones too.

It’s a bit of an odd day. I feel like I’m leaving a job after a long time working there, like I’m leaving something familiar behind me and heading out into the unknown. Help! It’s been a year of change, a year of challenge and a year of good times. Here’s to the next one…

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Lime and Blue Kayano 17s (15.41) + Blue and White Kayano 17s (3.00)
Miles today: 15.41+3.00=18.41
Target: 1095
Miles to date: 1700.00!

“I thought about how many preconceived prejudices would crumble when I trotted right along for 26 miles.”
Bobbi Gibb

Day 364 – Falling short, right at the last hurdle…

I stayed in Darlington last night on account of having to be in the Darlington office this morning. My colleague James and I had planned a 7am run – I’d explained this was the penultimate day of my running year and so clearly a once in a lifetime opportunity for him 😉

I hadn’t factored in the few beers the night before, on top of the half marathon. I felt horrible this morning. Certainly one of my worst days for an early morning run, but it had to be done, for another couple of days anyway!

This morning my legs ached a lot. What keeps me going is knowing that the end is well and truly in sight. Tomorrow in fact. Wow.

It was cold, a bit wet and frankly not too pleasant as running goes. We headed off down the road in a direction I don’t profess to know, arriving at a roundabout upon which we struggled to find any other path than the one we had arrived on. Cue a U-turn and a bit of bumbling about to make sure we clocked up 3 miles. Thanks to James for joining me and I actually started to feel a bit better as we got going.

So, this is it then, 364 days, one more to go, I never thought I’d be here but I made it. Assuming nothing happens to me between now and 18:30 tomorrow, I have done it.

Those of you who have been keeping an eye on the mileage will notice the problem I am now faced with. My mileage over the last couple of weeks has sky-rocketed, but it hasn’t been enough to get me to 1700 miles. Short of nearly 20 miles tomorrow, I’m going to be a little shy of the crazy target I set just a fortnight ago. Shame.

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Lime and Blue Kayano 17s
Miles today: 3.20
Target: 1092
Miles to date: 1681.59
“Life is short… running makes it seem longer.”
Baron Hansen

Day 363 – Great North Run 2011 Race Report

This is my third effort at the Great North Run. A potted history follows…
2009 – Three weeks into my running career I ran 2h04m and promptly found I couldn’t walk for another three weeks
2010 – Better training got me a 1h59m just two days before I began the challenge
2011 – Well now, here’s the thing…

I woke up in pain. Genuinely. I don’t often wake up and think ‘bloody hell, that hurts’ but I did today (and yesterday for that matter). I didn’t feel good about the day at all. In fact I felt I was going to have to back down to a slower pace as the pain in my shins was bad enough just walking about the house barefoot, never mind pounding the streets!

I arrived incredibly early to the start, to meet a guy called Steve who is a radio journalist for BBC Radio 5 Live.

I’ll post the interview here for your amusement once I’ve found a way to do so…

It didn’t go amazingly. Myself and the ‘barefoot for the last mile’ guy running for CAFOD, alongside whom I’d been interviewed, both remarked afterward that we’d expected them to, as they told us they would, ask us about the charities we were supporting in the third section of our sound byte. I’m reliably informed that a combination of the preceding report on Welsh miners and the scoring of, erm, points(?) in some game called rugby impinged on our slot to plug the charities (the most important bit!) And made it a bit of a shambles. Never mind. I was never meant to be famous 😉

On the plus side, being interviewed with, and then bending the ear of the Bupa Physio gleaned some interesting advice on my ongoing issues with the inner shins. Thanks!

Given my early arrival, it seemed the right thing to do to take advantage of it and make my way to the tape, camp out and wait for everyone else to arrive 😉 This I duly did, having plenty of people to talk to along the way as it got busier. Cue a guy whom I later found out was called Neil, and whom I saw again around 4 miles in…

Mo Farah fired the gun. Nothing happened for a few seconds, then a sudden surge of the crowd carried me over the line and onto the road ahead.

This year I managed to be at the front. Having last year negotiated rows of ladies wearing fluffy pink decoration whilst holding hands and walking five abreast at the start of the event, I wasn’t making the same mistake again.

Off we went. At a rate. Mile 1: 6m21s. Waaaaaaaaaay too fast! I don’t want to be the bad workman and blame my tools, but this new fandangled Garmin 610 does have a terribly erratic pace measurement!

Slow down. Pace yourself Andy. It’s about the (semi) long game today…

Mile 2: 6m42s. Better.

Mile three and four passed. Both under 7 minutes, but only just.

Then I spotted Neil with whom I’d briefly spoken at the start. I tapped him on the shoulder and said that for someone who had coughed at a guy saying he was going for a 1h30 and said he was mad, Neil was really motoring along. He was well on for sub 1h30. Neil quickly explained that this is how half marathons are for him, the first few miles are good and fast and then the wheels fall off at about 8 miles!

We talked at length about his training, what we both do for a living, his family, his 3 year old boy and my silly running challenge (and the plan for the next year!) all of which I’d deliberately done to distract him. We’d kept the silly pace for another four or five miles and not really noticed. At 9 miles we were both feeling relatively ok. At ten, just about as good. At 11 I told him I was going to wind up the pace very slowly and gradually for the next couple of miles and he looked good to do the same. We shook hands, agreed to meet ‘on the other side’ of the finish line and wished each other luck. That’s the magic bit of running events. You spot someone who looks to be at your level, you talk, you both spur each other on. Brilliant. That’s what I like about running, the camaraderie is immense. My club runs do the same thing, more motivation and encouragement, very good for your running and for you. I stalled for another half mile and then just went for it.

I knew I’d break 1h30 by this point, but the question was by how far. I felt good, but tired. I knew I could keep a good pace but certainly not drop and insane sub 6 minute mile. I went all out.

I crossed the line in 1h28m49s.

Neil arrived 55 seconds later.

My half marathon PB until today was 1h36m. Pretty damn good.

But beaten hands down by Neil knocking just shy of 15 minutes off his PB! Well done mate. I knew you’d do it!

All in all, a very good day. A time worthy of being the final event of my challenge. The Great North Run is such an amazing event that you should get yourself in the ballot for next year and do it at least once in your life. Go on, you know you want to 😉

See you there next year… :-)

And finally, I’m reliably informed that I was beaten by a smurf. I thought they had short legs! 😉

I think today’s qotd has appeared before and is no more appropriate than today. If it has made a prior appearance, I make no apology, it’s fabulous!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Blue and White Kayano 17s
Miles today: 13.20
Target: 1089
Miles to date: 1678.40
“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and your feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.”
Charles Schulz

Day 362 – I hope this isn’t a sign of what tomorrow will be like…

…My legs are incredibly sore!

I felt like a broken old man today (some would say I am at times!) and stumbled three miles at one hell of a slow pace for me nowadays.

I sincerely hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come tomorrow.

For those of you who happen to be up and about with the larks tomorrow morning, tune in to BBC Radio 5 Live to hear me be interviewed and no doubt make a fool of myself on national radio! James has offered one of his now famous pound bets that I can’t get the word ‘endurable’ into the conversation. Here goes…

To my fellow 53,999 runners tomorrow, the very best of luck. Say hi if you spot me and have a damn good time running up that big hill 😉

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Blue and White Kayano 17s
Miles today: 3.04
Target: 1086
Miles to date: 1665.20
“Desire is the most important factor in the success of any athlete.”
Willie Shoemaker

Day 361 – Why don’t they tell you it’s all uphill?!?!?

When I first ran the Great North Run two years ago, I’d been running for a total of three weeks.

At this point I’d like to introduce you to a blog I discovered at the time (and have enjoyed ever since) the Great North Run in 2009. It’s called ‘Taking Jelly Babies from Strangers’ and I’m sure if you’ve ever run a distance event, I don’t need to explain the name! Anyway, have a look at the link here: I think it’s a fair assessment of the event and course!

Here is the actual elevation profile from my run in the 2010 edition… As you can see, it isn’t flat!

I ran the 2009 race (my first ever race) in 2h04m and then couldn’t walk for three weeks. I owe the rest of my running career to the technology that is gait analysis as it’s saved my ankles ever since!

For 2010 I was determined to break two hours and did. I ran 1h59m20s. I began the 1095miles challenge only two days later. Here we are, a few days from the end and how fitting the GNR is the final event I will run.

So onwards to Given the last week or so, and the uphill course I’m not expecting a blistering performance but I’d still like to have a go at attacking the 1h30m barrier. We’ll see what happens.

The bad news:
So, my amazing taper for the run on Sunday goes as follows… I’ve run about 100 miles in ten days now. Foolish. On Sunday I will not set the world alight with a great time, that’s for sure!

The good news:
I’m actually really looking forward to the event. It’s becoming one of my favourites. I was explaining to James at work yesterday that there’s little that compares, in anyone’s running career, to crossing the Tyne Bridge with 53,999 other runners as the Red Arrows fly over your head. Nothing really comes close to a moment like that. This year will be my third shot at the GNR and undoubtedly my best yet. Bring on Sunday!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10s
Miles today: 3.16
Target: 1083
Miles to date: 1662.16
“You can’t really be strong until you see a funny side to things.”
Ken Kesey

Day 360 – So close… yet so far still to go

After a few beers last night and less sleep than the body was wishing for, tonight’s run was never going to be an easy one. I set off with the crazy target of clocking up a second sixteen miler in three days. A really tall order. I didn’t feel like it at all.

Having moaned about running over the ranges in the dark the other day, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. No, obviously not, I ran straight up to the ranges again! It got dark, I left the ranges by the road down near Ash Vale station and headed out towards the army town. I have to say, the fatigue was really starting to show, I couldn’t hold even an eight minute mile this evening. I was struggling to run to be honest.

I decided to have a bit of a review of the last year, the fun moments, the tough bits and took my mind of it all quite effectively. Highlights and interesting events of the year I managed to recall include of course meeting Mo yesterday, but also finishing the Brighton Marathon and hour and quarter faster than last year, running in 12 inches of snow in Cardiff, determinedly hobbling for three miles on the sprained ankle, torrential rain in Barcelona during the half marathon, a strong finish at Wilmslow in 1h36, running up and down a pitch black dual carriageway at Beamsley during my Sense holiday and finally, day 1 where a load of people and plenty of my friends turned out to wish me well on my way to 1095miles, despite thinking I was a lunatic! It seems so long ago 😉

I arrived home completely knackered but having completed my target of 16 miles and with a good idea of what the post 1095miles/365days blog post should be like.

Okay, two days of the absolute minimum 3 miles now, hopefully giving the legs a little time to rest before Sunday. I’ve overdone it, I know that, but at least I should be able to post a reasonable time and I’m sure to beat my PB for the GNR, being that it’s only 1h59m20s!

[A little] more tomorrow!

Make a donation using Virgin Money GivingAndy.

Today’s shoes: Blue and White Kayano 17s
Miles today: 16.05
Target: 1080
Miles to date: 1659.00
“Obstacles are those frightening things that become visible when we take our eyes off our goals.”
Henry Ford