Archive for James Ellis’ runs

The challenge that’s run its course

They say new years are about new beginnings… but they should also be about new endings.

For the last couple of months, I’ve been mulling over the future of this site and I think now is the right time to say goodbye to the 1095 mile challenge.

It’s been a long journey since I took my first run in September 2009 and some amazing people have followed suit by running three miles a day for a year (and blogging about it on a daily basis).

But I can no longer find the time to administer the site, nor can I constantly try and police the posting/blogging side of the challenge, which is the one people seem to find the toughest… but rules are rules.

It’s something I’d planned to announce in September to coincide with the 5th anniversary of my first run, my brother in law Andy taking on the mantle was the one thing that stopped me then, but given he has now pulled out with injury, I feel no obligation to carry on.

So when Richard Groenenberg completes his final run in October 2015, there will be no new postings here and new entrants are officially over from today.

Good luck everyone – and thanks for reading.


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.

James in this month’s Runner’s World

If you saw the article in Runner’s World this month and want to take up the 1095miles challenge – three miles a day every day for a year with no day’s off. Please email us you can contact us by clicking here. Please give us a little bit of your running history. It’s tough but doable.

If you’re inspired by James’s story and want some advice on physical fitness, please see for details


Two down and a special three miles…

Well it looks like our champs are dropping like flies. Helen disappeared a couple of weeks ago and despite my trying to contact her several times, I’ve heard nothing from her. I hope she is okay.
Neil on the other hand has had to pull out with shin splints – a crying shame. I got them really bad when I did the challenge and managed somehow, with the help of an excellent sports masseuse to run through them and come back stronger. But I know how painful they can be and I wouldn’t blame anyone for stopping under the circumstances.
Which leaves just Steve and Irene on the trail… good luck guys, you are going to need it…

I was in the US last week and managed to run/walk a portion of the Bright Angel Trail that drops into the Grand Canyon – an amazing trail as you descend into the heat of the Canyon from the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim. Apparently, some 250 people are rescued here every year trying to get to the bottom of the canyon and back again in a day… Which is why my running pal David and I have decided to try and do the Rim to Rim to Rim run in April.

It’s not an official race, anyone can do it… if you can manage 42 miles with a combined elevation rise and fall of about 20,000ft!

The map looks crazy – like a kid with a red pen scrawled all over. Switch to satellite view for a better idea of what it looks like… but that still is nowhere near how cool it really is!

A mention in Metro

We managed to get a great little mention in Metro today on the back of a piece I wrote on minimal running…

Take a look here to read a condensed version of the piece…

Well done Andy – welcome newbies – meeting a legend

The man called Horse is on the right!

I can’t say just how chuffed I am… this time two years ago, I was coming up to day three or four on my own 1095miles challenge, feeling as though no one was listening and having no idea whether I could even make it past a month, never mind a year.

Two years on and Andy has completed his new challenge and we have not one but four new 1095milers giving it a go… it’s incredible that so many people are giving it a go at once. I can’t wait for another year for them to join Andy and myself in the newly instigated Hall of Fame in September 2012 – and I bet they can’t wait to finish now either!!

I really want to single Andy out for a minute – he took on the site to do his own challenge when I thought it was going to die or I was going to have to carry on running and not only made it his own, but elevated to new, much higher levels. Well done mate. You’ve done amazing things and I can’t wait to read more about them on your new challenge as you attempt to do a marathon a month!

As for me, I’ve got two new challenges. One is I signed up today for two ultras. The London Ultra, which is a 30 miler in February, the other is the Ultra100, yes a 100 mile race in June next year.

The other is to try and transition to minimalist shoes. Earlier this week I attended a Saucony event and met the great Caballo Blanco of Born To Run fame. The book by Chris McDougall promoted the barefoot/minimalist craze by telling the exploits of the Rarámuri or Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who can run for miles and miles (we’re talking 60 plus) in just sandals. Caballo was a near mythical figure in the book – the crazy white guy who had gone to live among them and emulate their running philosophy.

Saucony promote three types of minimalist shoe: the Mirage (which retains and element of stability cushioning), the Kinvara (a light minimalist shoe) and the Hattori, as close to running barefoot as you would think possible.

After testing my gait, we found Im a terrible heal striker – the antithesis of barefoot/minimal running. Basically, I lead my runs with an almost straight leg and land bang on the heel – no wonder I need stability shoes to stop me from getting shin splints (old regular readers will recall me moaning about them for near on a year when I was running the challenge).

So they gave me a pair of Kinvaras to try out and so far I’ve done two miles in them on separate days, making sure I didn’t go too far and trying to change my gait to a more mid-strike one… I’ll pop back and let you know how it’s going on and review the shoes at some point.



It’s in the hills – running in San Francisco

So it’s been a while I guess since I posted on here – but I was quite conscious that I didnt want my last challenge (Brighton Marathon followed by a Brighton to London run and then the London Marathon the week after) to get in the way of Andy’s excellent fundraising effort for Sense.

Me on the Golden Gate

Now that’s over and done with though, I feel a bit more comfortable with coming back to post, plus I’m joining the 1095mile Plodders for the first time in ages tonight… who would have thought the birth of twins would mean Tuesday nights were almost a no-no for running, unless I wanted an imminent divorce!

Anyway, I thought I’d pop on and give a quick run down of one of my most enjoyable recent runs, a running tour around San Francisco with the excellent Michael Isgar of SF Run Tours.

I’d contacted Michael a week before arriving in San Fran and he’d gladly agreed to show me around the city while under our own steam. “Where do you want to go?” he’s asked and I replied: “Across the Golden Gate if possible”. Then I left it for a couple of days, and then I looked up his times on the net. 3’13” for a marathon? Oh dear.

Nonetheless, I met him at my hotel lobby as directed at 8am, we’d decided to do somewhere around 12 miles through the city itself, along the shore, over the Bridge and back to my hotel again by a different route.

It turns out Michael is actually from the UK, a Greenwich-born Londoner who emigrated to San Fran some 25 years ago and, after a couple of other business outings, decided to set up his running company. “I use it as an excuse to train more,” he confided as we set off towards Union Square where we made our first stop for a quick bit of history.

Union Square is one of San Fran’s central points; smaller than you might expect but littered with high-end boutiques, the city’s main Levi’s store (Levi Strauss actually first set up shop here in 1873) and some top, top hotels. In the middle there’s a statue on a plinth that’s dedicated to the victory of Admiral Dewey in the Spanish-American war. The statue – Victoria, the goddess of war – was modelled on local good-time girl Alma Spreckels who eventually married a sugar baron almost twice her age, which is where the term Sugar Daddy comes from.

From here we headed up (no sniggering at the back) Nob Hill and I realised that Michael’s stick-thin perfect running physique was not just down to his weekly mileage topping 50, but also because San Francisco is literally covered in hills – there are 43 of them in the city centre to be precise. Luckily, there was another pause at the top to allow for a breather as we looked on the Fairmont Hotel, one of the city’s best.

A long, low stretch followed along San Francisco Bay, where the docking piers end and the Aquatic Park starts. The reason for the flatness here is two-fold, on the one hand, you’re at sea level, on the other it’s all landfill. The beautifully neat rows of posh houses around here wouldn’t stand a chance in a repeat of the 1906 earthquake Michael claims, they’d be straight in the sea.

A little ragged stretch followed along Marina Drive, pretty but unremarkable and from where the views of our ultimate aim the Golden Gate were magnificent. There’s works going on around the approach to the Bridge itself, particularly around the area that was once a former army base Presidio and Fort Point Historic Point (from where Hitchcock fans will know Kim Novak tried to commit suicide in the film Vertigo before Jimmy Stewart came to her rescue).

Michael was concerned about a pet cemetery that used to be here under the bridge and whether it had been moved with the works taking place so we took a small detour to find it closed off to the public but still with the little crosses in place where the companions of kids from the base were buried.

As we approached the bridge, it started to speckle with rain and Michael suggested not going over as the weather can make it pretty grim going. But it was one of my main reasons for wanting a run in San Fran… and so I left him at the tacky visitor shop and ploughed on alone.

The Golden Gate may be one of the most famous bridges in the world, but it’s not even San Francisco’s longest bridge – that honour goes to the Oakland Bay on the other side of town, a whopping 8.5miler that you can only cross by car. No one’s quite sure why the Golden Gate became so famous, but it could well be to do with the fact that it leads to San Francisco’s most expensive real estate on the other side.

Another bizarre fact is that it’s actually not Golden at all but a deep red as the paint is actually primer rather than real paint. And like the Forth Bridge in the UK, painting never really stops, when they’re done, they’re almost ready to start again.

Half way across, I began to understand what Michael was talking about when it came to the weather. One of the most surprising things about San Fran is that, despite it being in California, it’s mostly freezing, to the point where Mark Twain once quipped: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

As the wind whipped up from the Pacific came towards me with nothing but Japan some 5,000 miles away to halt it’s progress, it brought rain along with it. Big juicy drops that turned into what felt like huge icicles as the wind got even stronger, stinging my face as I battled my way back from the half way point, certain that at any time a huge gust would have me over the edge into the freezing water below. Chances of survival? Two per cent apparently. No wonder Michael is reticent when the weather is bad.

Nonetheless, emerge unscathed at the other side I did and we made out way back into town. By now I’d got 12 miles on my legs and, thanks to the hills and rain, was almost ready to call it a day but one more major San Fran sight needed to the conquered: the world’s most crooked street: Lombard Street.

A series of eight switchbacks over just a couple of blocks earns Lombard the title and it’s famous for appearing in the 1972 film What’s Up Doc? in a comedy car chase scene.

Michael Isgar on the world's crookedest street

Somewhat stupidly, I hadn’t realised that to get to the top of it in order to descend the crooked part, we had to climb Lombard itself, one of the steepest hills in the city. As Michael trotted up with the agility of a mountain goat, I faltered to a walk a couple of times: the gradient is incredible. “I forget there’s nothing like this in London,” Michael said…. “Streatham Hill?’ I ventured knowing it’s little more than a mound in comparison.

And then it was back through China Town to my hotel. A lovely couple of hours out discovering the city and almost 15miles later. Michael claimed he was off to catch a bus, but I swear I saw him run off into the distance. Only another four or five miles to his home in The Haight neighbourhood.

SF Run Tours charges $40 an hour for running tours in San Fran. Contact Michael by clicking here


Long time, no see…

Congrats Andy on passing 500 miles and on his 150th day of running today… stellar effort and I thought you’d never keep it up!

So what have I been doing in the meantime? Well… looking after the twins and trying to work a couple of days a week from Chester mainly, which is why I’ve also missed the Tuesday runs… though I’m hoping to persuade everyone to change that to Wednesdays, in which case I can come back out to play.

Other than that, I’ve been trying, rather unsuccessfully to train for my other challenge, Brighton Marathon, Brighton to London run on one day (52 miles) and London Marathon the following Sunday.

I’d started off okay, got some new trainers, the new version of Brooks Adrenalins which I’ll get round to reviewing this week and had started upping the mileage again.

I’d got up to two runs in a weekend, one of 15 and one of ten when after one Sunday about three weeks ago on the former, I came home to find Laura needing some help, so without cooling down or stretching, I jumped straight into baby duties.

The next day, I was a little sore but thought I could run it off in a few days, so the following Friday, I went out and did 19 miles… oh yes James, well done, bloody great idea. By that afternoon, I couldn’t walk and couldn’t for the next five days… I mean seriously limping around here dragging my foot behind me when I wanted to go anywhere couldn’t walk.

The services of Lillian, my sports masseuse from last year, were called back into action and after some serious drawing of air over teeth, she concluded the tendon fascia that joins the muscle to the bone was being pulled away and advised… yes, the dreaded rest.

The week after, I gingerly tried to go out and got a mile from home before giving up in pain… I was hobbling so much I would only have managed to do more damage to the other leg and took another week off with ice and lots of ibuprofen.

Sunday last, I went out and managed to do six miles with not too many problems, although I was going sloooooooooooow. Welcome back to the world of 11minute miles! And I went to see Lillian again this week who has given me the go-ahead to start building up again.

I was going to run into the Express where Im working today and back, it’s about 14 miles in total, but I’ve now got a stinking cold so have decided to bus it instead.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on the road tomorrow.

Garmin Forerunner 405

When I first got the idea to do the 1095 Mile Challenge, I realised I needed a way to prove I’d actually done the runs every day – someone mentioned Garmin to me, sports watch manufacturers extraordinare, who make GPS watches. They suggested I buy the Forerunner 405, which was the latest model at the time.

When it first arrived, I was a little flabbergasted with all the various settings but soon found it was pretty easy to just press start and stop and then download the day’s ‘run’ to Garmin Connect… the downloads soon formed the basis of my daily blog.

Through the year, I managed to get more clever in using it, programming training schedules into the watch so I could train for the Brighton Marathon and other races…

Just before the end of the year, it finally conked out on me, after around 400 runs or so in total – and only then because I dropped it and the LED screen went.

What did I do? Got Garmin to send me the updated model, the 405 CX… which I will review elsewhere.

If you need a great watch to record your runs, this is it.

Costs around £260 with heart monitor strap. Buy it by clicking the link below