MARCHing to the Atlantic Coast Challange

The MARCH is taking a team to the Atlantic Coast Challenge in October. A great rugged coastal ultramarathon made up of 3 marathons in 3 days – 78.6 miles of steep clifftop running. It’s gonna be epic! More details here –

Camo is leading the team of cracking ultraMARCHers as they train for their first ultra. They have each run varying distances – over varying periods of their life (“I ran a marathon 10 years ago but haven’t done much since” was heard to echo off the pavement at an early training session…!). Over the course of this plog the MARCH will follow their endeavours as they each build up for their first ultra! We’ll also plog the race live – follow the ultraMARCHers here –

(As this is a live plog – picture blog – the entries appear in reverse chronological order so if you are new to it, read from the bottom up!)


13. Plog 13 – 6 October 2013 – Day 3 of the Ultra!

As we start the 3rd and final day it’s worth remembering the support we have had throughout this MARCH. Over the 3 months of summer training we have had a great selection of folk train with us, and cheer us on. The good people of Olswang from Partners to PA’s who dusted off their trainers to join us on our Monday night training sessions were a huge part of our campaign. And the friends and family who have suffered our absences and our fatigue induced grumpiness deserve a special mention. Particularly those who made it to Cornwall and lived the hard yards with us. John’s wife Jo and mini-MARCHers Miss Mia and Master Cosmo were a warm and welcome sight. And Camo’s wife Nicola and mini-MARCHers Master Finlay and Miss Dulcie were a joy and inspiration.

With a lot of love in the air it was time for the ultraMARCHers to nail the final day and put this ultramarathon to bed!

(And the love was catching – a warm embrace between mini-MARCHers Master Finlay and Miss Dulcie to send us on our way)

We knew day 3 would be hard. Harder than every other day. It was meant to be longer – at least 29 miles – and harder – over 1,000 feet more elevation than the day before. We were all hurting, but eager to get the job done. We had to MARCH on.

(The support was extensive and intensive. Here’s a shot of Harry who took a train from London on Saturday, sleeping on Camo’s floor Saturday night, just for the pleasure of spending the final day running with the ultraMARCHers!)

(It’s not easy keeping pace with running legend Claire! It’s out of focus – sure – but with the pace Claire keeps that’s no surprise!)

Early on both Hesham and Claire pushed on, looking strong. Camo and Scott were determined to pace well and kept things in check. JP, Olly, Marcus and John were all keen to get through the day and maintain a pace that guaranteed a finish. Belief was positive – but bodies were asking questions….

(Scott was MARCHing strong with Camo. Here you seeing him in control getting through the miles between CP1 and 2)

(That’s one important rock outcrop in the distance with an orange flag on it – that’s CP 2 and circa half way on the final day. The first 14 miles have been hard – super hard. Extreme rocks with impossible footing making for a hard slog with running impossible in places. A short break to pose for a photo is well deserved by Camo)

(And Scott deserves one too. Running stride for stride with Camo now they are both happy to see CP 2 in the near distance)

Moving from CP 2 the ground becomes more runnable. The rocks are fewer and with legs warming up, and stretching out, the pace increases. John gets in to his stride and puts the hammer down. A sore knee maybe, but he doesn’t let that hold him back! Both Camo and Scott find themselves able to maintain a strong pace too and finally see the miles start to tick by with greater speed.

(Mile 18 and Camo is descending with confidence and pace now. Still a long way from the finish but the body is starting to hunger for the end and delivers new strength to get there)

(And Scott follows suit. His knees are starting to swear loudly but they must suffer a little longer before they can rest)

(Mile 22 – the final CP, leaving only 7 miles to the finish! And there’s mini-MARCHer Master Finlay helping Daddy over the final feet. A staunch supporter throughout the 3 day race Finlay had a joyous time running with Daddy whenever he could!)

(Mile 26! So close. The final beach. The final stretch of sand to conquer. Camo and Scott really are MARCHing to the finish now!)

(KAPOW ! The end of land – Lands End !! The 29 mile final day is in the bag – BOSH ! Show us ya medal Camo and Scott !! All the ultraMARCHers are giving it heaps and working hard to make the finish.)

WAHEY ! The ultraMARCHers smash it !! 8 started & 8 finished. Top effort from Olly, JP, Camo, Scott, Marcus, Claire, John & Hesham! To MARCH is to finish – whatever your pace, wherever you place – and everyone finished ! Go Team ultraMARCHers!! Hardest of the 3 days today. 29 miles with the first 15 miles un-runnable in places with non stop rocks. But everyone dug deep & got the job done ! Camo had a strong day with the legs feeling good. Put the day away in 7.09 which he was pleased with. All times for this day were down 60-90 mins because of the extra distance & terrain.
Stoked to have UltraMARCHer Harry come down for the day to run with us – a top effort from him.
If you fancy joining the MARCH check out our kit here and look out for our monthly freebies. Sign up to the MARCH Facebook – – next freebies announced on FB next Friday…!!
Everyone was spectacular. Everyone finished. A special mention to Hesham and Claire who both absolutely stormed their first ever ultra!! THANK YOU for all the great support ! This ultra is in the bag. MARCHed over and out!
Until the next one…MARCH on !


12. Plog 12 – 5 October 2013 – Day 2 of the Ultra!

Day 2 is always an interesting time in a multiday Ultra….Sleep is never as good as it should be  (and even less so with a couple of mini-MARCHers along for the ride…) and muscles and joints start to voice their opinion! But all the ultraMARCHers were in good spirits and ready to take on the day. Communal breakfast in the mess tent at HQ was a good time to catch up and consume – sausages, bacon, porridge, bread, cereal – oh, yes, ultra-running = ultra-eating!

(Day 2 also allows some testing of a new MARCH prototype – meant to be hot so going with the new MARCH technical desert top today (note MARCH designed high collars for sun protection and reflective desert colours). Check out our current range of products here –

Almost ready to MARCH now – first wave of ultraMARCHers have just left – second wave leaves in one hour)

(Marcus and Scott ready to MARCH ! Looking pretty good for day 2. Transfer about to leave. Only about 30 mins to the start today, which is nice. The weather is stunning so everything is green for go!)

(And what a spot to start day 2 of the Ultra! Claire and Camo looking very relaxed as the waves roll in)

(Too good a spot not to lay down some photos! Claire, Scott, Camo and Marcus all looking forward to the start of day 2)

(Camo at mile 12. Hurting wayyyy more than he should be at this point. He’s been there before and he knows it will pass – but the doubts remain. Why am I so tired? What’s happened to my legs? How will I run another 14 miles? The same old questions – but the same old answer too. It will be done. MARCH on!)

(Mile 15 and Camo has caught up to Olly, John and JP who left in the first wave. The low point has finally been reached by Camo and he is on his way back up. Some electrolytes, some more time on his feet and a stern talking to did the trick and he is now pressing on and increasing his pace. Here you see Olly who remains in remarkable spirits. A classic shot of the man who always seems happy in his work. An enduring image throughout the race. Way to MARCH Olly!)

(Mile 18 and Scott is doing the business. Camo and Scott run together at this point through to CP 3.)

(Mile 21.5 and another beach! This one was looooong. 3.5 miles in the soft sand. Camo is deep in the hurtlocker now but he’s still pushing hard. His legs have returned and he’s keeping a good pace along the beach The gap behind is increasing and the gap in front decreasing. It’s MARCH on!)

(SMASH ! Done – phew! Tough day in the office. Camo’s legs just weren’t there. Yesterday took more out of them than he realised. By mile 3 he felt like he normally feels at mile 20. Very worrying realisation. Nothing there from 3 to 15 just a sufferfest. He pushed on hanging briefly with chaps along the way but he knew he just needed to dig deep and hurt alone. By 16 his legs started to return – not much but enough. Managed to start dropping in to the 9’ish min miles for brief periods and 10 in the sand. With 4 miles to go he was in to the 8’s and for the final half mile down hill he dropped to 7.30 min miles. The damage had been done in the first 3 hours but with a lot of pain and some scary internal monologue he managed to extract something from a rough day and closed the day off in 5.15. The way he was running at the end was impressive though and gave him extra confidence. Here you see mini-MARCHer Master Finlay enjoying some time with Daddy post race and pre shower!

(More ultraMARCHers arrive – BOOM ! John has tweaked his knee so straight on with the ice but the main thing is they finished day 2!)

(The ultraMARCHers break into their MARCH après wear over dinner superman style !! Marcus, Scott, Olly, Camo and JP all looking good. Soooo cool to see the team in their MARCH kit!

And so we get through day 2. 8 started yesterday and 2 days later, 8 are finished and ready for day 3. It’s going well. People are starting to feel the burn and feel the pain but they are cracking on. A good meal in the mess tent of turkey and lamb had everyone agreeing it was the best food to date – and certainly well deserved!


11. Plog 11 – 4 October 2013 – Day 1 of the Ultra!

BOSH! It’s on!! The ultraMARCHers all made it to Cornwall and are ready to fire! A good summer of training in the bank – never as much as desired, but more than some and good enough. Let’s get reaaaaaaaaaaady to MARCH!

(BOOM ! Race day !! Getting ready to roll. Race briefing, then 60 min transfer to the start just outside of Padstow. The ultraMARCHers are looking good ! Here you see Camo putting in a final plug for the homeland.)

(Mini-MARCHer Master Finlay, Mummy-MARCHer Nicola and mini-MARCHer Miss Dulcie along with Camo, Scott, Olly & Marcus waiting for the buses to head to the start of day 1)

The transfer took just over an hour, heading north of the base HQ at St Ives up to Padstow. We all started on a hill looking South down the coastline we would all get to know well. Weather was settled but a little overcast, though it looked to be brightening up quickly.
(Boys will be boys. Race start and there is a long line of chaps taking a final, nervous, pee!)
(A clean and comfortable Camo at race start!)
And with a quick high five, a couple of photos and a final deep breath the ultraMARCHers were off!!
(Claire at mile 2. A beautiful beach. A beautiful day. And of course, a beautiful ultraMARCHer too! After a fast downhill from the start we hit our first beach. Spirits were soaring as we all hit our stride. A little too fast at this stage – which is easily done and hard to resist)

(Scott, Claire and Olly MARCHing in to CP 1. All feeling strong at this early stage – and still going too fast! Camo was heard commenting “Guys, we’re running 8.30 min miles and have averaged 9 min miles the whole way. Last year a 10 min mile average got you in the top 10 for the whole race. We’re either gonna win the race or blow up…!“)

(Claire showing her strength on the gentle downhill to CP 1,with Olly blasting along too)

(CP 2 in the bag now as Camo MARCHes through Newquay. Olly has made a sensible adjustment in pace by this stage and Scott has stopped at CP to fuel up. Claire and Camo MARCH on with some tricky navigation through Newquay town trying to find the South Coast Path on the other side – without any extra miles added on by a wrong turn!)

At this point we take a break from the photos as the MARCHers dig deep to put the day away. Camo was concentrating on a few further navigation hurdles and was focusing more on the map than the camera. Working well with Claire they got the job done and didn’t miss a single turn – which cant be said for everyone…see what happened next below….

(BOSH ! Done – time for recovery drink. More later but day 1 done. Bit frustrating in some ways. Race briefing changed the course because a bridge was broken, adding 2 miles to the course. Camo running with Claire nav’d correctly to the new bridge MANY others did not, crossing the old bridge. The diversion was on wet mud so a hard 2 miles – angry Camo came out to play and made his thoughts clear. Comparing times & places therefore difficult. BUT cracking course otherwise with everyone giving it heaps. Camo knocked off the new course of 28.6 miles (not the advertised 26.2) in 5 hours 23.

All the other ultraMARCHers did the business too.

(To MARCH is to finish – whatever your pace, wherever you place. And everyone finished day 1 so a big mega cheer for the ultraMARCHers ! We will however permit one special mention for Hesham who crushed it – putting the MARCH in the top 10 ! He stormed through a very hilly coastal course in 4.21 for 7th place! And you’ll see Claire on the first page of the results too – doing the business big time – go girl!!)

With the first day in the bag everyone felt a little more settled. The system was working. The training was paying dividends. It was time to stretch out in the communal mess tent and start working on recovery! With a massage tent on hand most ultraMARCHers gave themselves a few extra hands to help out. There was free beer on hand – but no one was queuing up for that!

10. Plog 10 – 3 October 2013 – London to Cornwall – Heading to the start!

Time to hit the road Jack – and no looking back! We got an Ultra to smash! The training is done, the car is packed – it’s time to make tracks to Cornwall!

(On the road to the Atlantic Coast Challenge Ultra! A Mummy-MARCHer, a couple of mini-MARCHers and a 3 day race make for a lot of kit !)

(Arrived at race HQ in St Ives, Cornwall! Only forgotten the towels – so far….)

(The last supper – and last pasta & potatoes before race start tomorrow – Marcus, Hesham, JP & Camo. Not sure if the beam of light is an angel blessing Camo or a lightening bolt about to strike him down !!)

(On the basis that an ultramarathon is 90% mental with the other 10% all in the mind the best preparation is to relax – and the best way to relax the night before a race is with our good MARCH friend Mr Guinness ! A companion the night before every MARCH marathon and ultra (wherever the location, including 5 deserts) the real challenge is know how many one should have….)

And so it was done – the time for training, gone – the time for eating, passed – the time for drinking, sadly over. A little rest and then its time to MARCH !!

9. Plog 9 – 2 October 2013 – London taper

2 days from race start and we are now team taper!

Since the training below we have had some short sessions fine tuning our fitness and keeping the wheels turning. Difficult time in the last week or two before a race. Wierdly injuries always seem to emerge and viral loads seem to increase. JP had a groin niggle. Camo had his ever present archilles screaming, which were joined in concert by a tweaked hammie. JP and Camo therefore ended up having an unexpectantly long taper…! Claire has been carrying the firm with some long and late nights, which has made training tricky. And Marcus has confessed to the start of a sore throat…. As if a multiday ultra wasn’t enough…!!

But the team are in cracking spirits and super stoked to welcome TWO new ultraMARCHers to the team. Massive welcome and big respect to Hesham Dahman and Harry Badham who have both jumped in feet first with no time to train. Hesham is planning his debut ultramarathon (with a 75 min half marathon in the bank his challenge will be to maintain a slower pace!). Harry is grabbing a train down to run the final day. With fresh legs and a recent 25 mile run in the bank it will be a challenge for the other ultraMARCHers to stick with him on their 2 day, 2 marathon, old legs!

With taper now in full swing there is only one thing to do – carbo load!!

And finally, to thank all the fabulous ultraMARCHers who have made the London summer of 2013 a bloody great MARCH! To our racers, Marcus, Olly, JP, John, Claire, Harry, Hesham and Scott and our trainers (how cool was that – coming to training even when not racing!) Nadia, Simone, Antoni, Sara and Will, thank you.

Remember – to MARCH is to finish, whatever your pace, wherever you place!

MARCH on to the Atlantic coast!

8. Plog 8 -17 September 2013 – London Training

3 weeks from race start. An important time for training. An injury now would ruin everything but we still need to train hard….With 6 weeks or so of long runs nailed it’s time for some speed work. We need to build our lactic threshold and improve strength and anaerobic capacity. Stair work or short sprints would be great but they deliver a high injury risk. Instead, we settled for a tempo MARCH, combined with some even higher intensity longer sprints.

This was our plan:

- 10 min slow warm up
– 30 min tempo session (that means 85/90% max heart rate – you should be barely able to speak, no more than one or two words forced out of a painful grimace. 15 mins in you should be doubting whether you can make 30. At 20 mins you should be swearing under your breath. Holding that pace for another 10 will be testing, but should be doable – just).
– 5 min slow jog
– 5x 60 sec sprints, with 60 sec jogs between each sprint (the sprint should be maximum effort, all out. You should finish each 60 secs spent. At 60 sec duration there will be less explosive force than short sprints so less chance of injury but at maximum effort it should create a serious burn)

And you know what??

We did even better than that! We smashed out the 30 min tempo session at an average pace of 7.02 mins/mile. And in fact, we ran it at a negative split, with the second 15 mins at 6.47 mins/mile pace. BOOM! Followed by 5 crushing 60 sec sprints at maximum effort. Top effort from Camo, Claire, Olly, JP and Marcus.

Here you see the team having their first (!!) post training rehydration session at the pub! And more importantly, getting their MARCH goody bags!!

(JP, Marcus, Scott and Olly getting in to their goodies bag – beer included! Get your own goodies bag and accessories here – )

(Gotta have your apres styles sorted too! You can here – )

And so, a cracking session, and a cracking debrief!

7. Plog 7 – 4 September 2013 – London Training

With the Eiger expedition adding a training variation – see here – the MARCH were back training in London. And still building length in to the runs! This week we were aiming for 4 hours!!

A big ask but an important distance to get in the bag. On the day fortunes were mixed. Only 3 days back from climbing 4 Swiss mountains in 4 days Camo’s achilles were at new levels of pain and an upset tummy added to the mix. After 2.5 hours he decided to ease up before jeopardising his race prospects. Claire, Olly and JP pushed on. The two chaps cracked on for a 3 hour + run and Claire held on for the full 4. Top effort all!

Obviously unhappy to miss all the fun Camo spent a couple of days emptying cans of deep heat on to his grumpy achilles before setting out again. And there was another reason for joy….The first samples of MARCH technical kit have arrived from the factory! Pouring with rain but a perfect opportunity to both bag a 4 hour run and test the new kit! A big BIG day for the MARCH.

All went well. Keeping to a training pace only Camo got through a full marathon in 3 hours 54. Some pain, but no more than normal. Below you can see him posing for a couple of self portraits at the end of the run – in the first set of MARCH technical running clothing!

(PHWOAR! Cool kit aye!! Note the neckline design. High collar and neck line for sun protection – super funky design!)

(Ok, ok, I might be just a little cold and tired)

6. Plog 6 – 19 August 2013 – London Training

London is great in many ways. And one way must be the greener side of London life – more abundant than you might expect. So, for today’s 3 hour MARCH we settled on a tour of some of the central city parks – hoping to take in 6 different parks on our long journey…!

(Our usual starting point on the Thames. Here you see Camo – in full MARCH training gear – & Antoni easing tired muscles in to action. With a slightly more vigorous Scott in the background showing how it is really done)

Following a pleasant warm up along the river we turned inland at Parliament and hit our first park – St James Park. The oldest Royal Park, nestled next to Buckingham Palace and the affluence of the Mall, few would guess its history….It was named after a lepers hospital!

A narrow park we then crossed the Mall, gave a quick wave to the Queen in Buckingham Palace, and launched in to Green Park. Another of the Royal Parks it sports an even more dubious past. It was formerly the burial ground for recently deceased lepers from the nearby hospital!

With 2 down, it was now time for our 3rd Royal Park – Hyde Park!

(From the left Marcus, Will and Antoni stride out of Green Park and towards the Wellington Arch, on the edge of Hyde Park at Hyde Park Corner. Built to celebrate Britain’s victories in the Napoleonic Wars, Wellington Arch provides a cracking welcome to Hyde Park, one of the largest parks in central London)

(London really knows how to lay out a park. A bit of water only ever adds to the joy. On the left you see new MARCHer Marcus Barclay striding it out. His debut session and he’s looking strong. Moving to the right Antoni, Will and another new MARCHer, Claire Morrissey, move effortlessly past the Serpentine. Claire gets a special mention at this point. She has just returned from a 21 day expedition climbing Denali – one of the 7 Summits! She will be joining us for the ultra and looks to be in cracking shape)

With a long and intriguing history the Serpentine is a cracking lake in a stunning park. With 40 acres of water it was the venue for the swimming leg of the Olympic triathlon last year.

(With a park the size of Hyde Park – 142 acres – there is endless scope for new discoveries. And it’s not all grand vistas. There are plenty of delicate, pretty little spots of detail. Here you see Antoni, Will, new MARCHer John Murnaghan, Marcus and Claire blasting past a classic water fountain in a private section of the park. A big shout out to John for joining the MARCH. His debut training session, he will be racing the ultra in October and is starting to put the hard yards in now in preparation)

(And here’s another example of the diversity of Hyde Park. Nadia and new MARCHer Sara Keag outside Sou Fujimoto’s sculpure – the Serpentine Pavilion. Top effort from Sara to join in. After previous stair running races with the team it was great to have her alongside for our Park tour! And great to welcome Nadia back from injury)

After a long haul through Hyde Park we seamlessly join Kensington Gardens. Another of the Royal Parks it forms the western flank of Hyde Park. Forming an almost continuous green chain, the four parks we have now traveled are described as the ‘green lung’ of central London.

Exiting Kensington Gardens we make a short hop through some very affluent streets to arrive at Holland Park.

(Joy! What a surprise. Another great feature of London parks is the abundance of animals. Really impressive in such a big city. In Holland Park we find a couple of peacocks strutting in style!)

(Holland Park really is a pretty little park. Very intricate gardens and designs with a sense of quality and affluence about it. Considered to be one of the most romantic and peaceful London parks it is obvious why. Here you can see Marcus still looking strong well past an hour in to the run)

After Holland Park we started the long haul back through the preceeding 5 parks and back to the river. Running west we then targeted our 6th park – Battersea Park.

(Out of focus but not out of the MARCH! Camo posing on Battersea Bridge having just completed the 6th park of the tour – Battersea Park on the left of the picture. The sun has now set as we move towards our 3rd hour)

Having journeyed back along the river we finished our run and so ends this plog. A stonking effort by all. Each MARCHer chose their own distance and their own limit. Each one putting in a cracking run through some of the gorgeous greenery of London. Big thanks to Antoni for leading the park navigation. And a special mention of Claire, Will and Camo who stuck it out for 3 hours and 20.44 miles at an average pace of 8 mins 49 sec per mile.

5. Plog 5 – 12 August 2013 – London Training

With 2 hours banked last week, and a progressive training plan in place, that can only mean one thing…2.5 hours this week!

And so it was!! A cracking 17 miles was dispatched in 2 hours 30 mins for an average pace of 9 min per mile.

With mileage now building, and the struggle increasing, we thought we would break with tradition for this weeks plog. No photos, no tour of London. Instead we thought we would keep it simple and recite one great adventurers words as he described his view on why we do it:

“We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron… that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward….What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”

(George Mallory – last seen heading up the North-East ridge of Everest in 1924.)

4. Plog 4 – 5 August 2013 – London training session

That favourite of the training plog is missing – again! This time Olly has the perfect excuse – he’s on holiday in the Canadian Rockies – but he assures us he has taken his trainers this time….

In his absence we have a new MARCH hero this week. Scott Margetts! He stepped off a 28 hour fight from NZ at 5am and still pitched up for training!

And as we move in to month 2 of training Camo announces it’s time to up the distance – and up the CHallenge. The future is back-to-back…! A month of long runs, each one run back-to-back with another long run. The secret weapon when training for multiday ultras.

Sunday was solo training, with Camo leading the charge with his declaration that he had put down a 14 mile 2 hour jog on Sunday night – the aim being to hit Monday’s long run with tired legs. The basic programme is to progressively increase the back-to-back long runs over the coming 6 weeks, starting with 2x 2 hour runs.

(And if you’re running long distances you gotta hydrate – and the best way to do that is with MARCH folding hydration bottles – – we didn’t think a shot of the chaps getting changed in the bathroom was quite right, at least until we’re fitter, so figured our bottles would do!)

The weather was overcast, the heatwave and blue skies of recent weeks departed, as we started on our 2 hour way.

(We always stop on the River Thames for our stretches now. It gives us a short warm up and a pleasant spot to stretch. Here you see Scott trying to loosen up the hammies – note the bent knee….still more work to do perhaps – or was it the 28 hours on a flight?! The new Shard of Glass tower impresses in the distant background. Designed by Renzo Piano it was a controversial and recent addition to the London skyline. At 87 stories it is the tallest building in Europe)

(Early days and the rain has cleared for a bit. Scott, JP, new MARCHer Antoni and Will stride across Victoria Tower Gardens, with the Palace of Westminster looming behind them. 15 mins in to the run now so everyone is feeling fresh but Antoni should get the big shout at this point. Having never run more than 1 hr 15 min in his life he decided to take up the CHallenge and smash out the 2 hour session! A nice shot of MARCH bottles in action too!!)

We continue to MARCH west along the River Thames heading towards our turnaround point at Battersea.

(More London icons – the old Battersea Power station, with Will and Scott surely flying now – too fast for the iPhone lens! For those with a young ear for Pink Floyd this incredible structure would have been a marvel from early Album buying years. In disrepair for many years, and having moved through the hands of a few different property developers, its future now looks certain. With a new Malaysian owner, with solid funding and a firmer business plan, it will soon become a new residential development with associated leisure and business interests)

Beyond Battersea we head south across the river on the gorgeous Albert Bridge and turn back East through Battersea Park. The rain joins us at this point but the chaps remain in high spirits. Scott tells us about a new gym recently opened in Auckland by Rugby League legend Reuben Wiki – no mirrors or weights – all truck tires, plates, ropes and associated industrial machinery! We approach the 60 min mark with an average pace of 9 min 20 sec per mile. As our first long run we were looking for an easy pace, and we’ve nailed that perfectly as we start our second hour.

(Old and new. Back in to central London we cruise past HMS Belfast. A Royal Navy Light Cruiser that saw successful action in WWII and the Korean War she is now moored in Central London – providing a poignant reminder of what it takes to secure freedom. In the background you can see the growth of the City that has prospered since the War. Nicknamed the Walkie-Talkie a new 37 story skyscraper nears completion)

We near 90 mins duration at this point. The chaps have been hydrating well and still move fluidly. The rain has left us as we buckle in for the final stretch.

(Always a welcome sight. One of the most beautiful and iconic bridges spanning the Thames and our easterly turnaround point. Tower Bridge just does everything you want in architecture. Truly functional, giving both access across the river but also, swinging open to give vessels access along the river. And at the same time adding beauty and elegance to that function. JP is obscured but you see from the left Antoni, Scott and Will striding it out)

(Will, Antoni, Scott & JP dispatch with City Hall. Designed by Sir Norman Forster it has been referred to as Darth Vaders Helmet and even a glass testicle – but we like its organic form. But what’s that floating above Will’s head??! Giant bubbles MARCH alongside us in a surreal moment of Dalian magic)

Heading back to the finish all the chaps worked hard to keep the legs flowing. The 2 hour run was laid down, with everyone agreeing it was the way forward. That the furture really was back-to-back!

Without intending it, a negative split was MARCHed out. The second hour was disposed of at 8 min 40 sec pace giving an average pace of 9 mins per mile for the 2 hours. Total distance of 13.33 miles so a half marathon in the bag too! Slightly faster than was intended for the first long run but still fine. Will and Camo even put down a penultimate minute at 7 min 15 pace and a final minute at 6 min 40 pace!

Until the next long MARCH – over and out!

3. Plog  – 22 July 2013 – London training session

The hottest day in London since 2006, hitting 33.5c – a perfect day for a midday MARCH!

But what’s this…? Surely not more excitement from that Olly fellow?? Where is he? No message – surely he’s coming? “I’m not one for waiting around. We leave on the dot” announces ex Sandhurst JP. Quite right n’all – we MARCH off!

Today we have a new MARCHer joining the action – Simone turns up looking very sporty! Sadly Nadia, who hasn’t missed one yet, is out with shin splints.

(Simone leads Will and JP along the Embankment)

With a month of training behind us, it’s time to start throwing new levels of action at our bodies. Ligaments, joints and muscles should now be ready to take a little more strain – and with the race now just over 2 months away we need to start finding new ways to hurt. Leaving fartlek behind for now, Camo announces that today, we will be increasing duration to 70 minutes and running a triple negative split. 10 mins of slow warm up followed by three 20 minute sessions of ascending pace – the first at 9 min miles, then 8 min miles, finishing with 7.30 min miles. Time to feel the burn!

(Striding out past Big Ben well in to the first 20 min session)

And suddenly, as we are about to attack the second 20 min negative split what do we find? Who do we see? ‘ooray it’s Olly!! And he’s joining our MARCH madness. A little off the military timing he runs the route of the last course in reverse and finds us! We all buckle in for the hard yards.

We crash through the second negative split holding a perfect average pace of 8.03 for the 20 minutes and then charge at the third 20. It’s tough work in the heat and we’re now moving past an hour of running. We hold on well, pushing the pace and dropping to sub 7 min pace at times to hold the 7.30 min average. But as we approach the last 10 mins some of the MARCHers start to feel a few niggles and breathing becomes laboured – it’s time so slow up just a little before the conclusion of the last 20. More still to do but a very solid, almost complete, triple negative!

2. Plog 2 – 3 July 2013 – London training session

Goodness me, that Olly chap strikes again….Last session he came with too much (see below) and this time, not enough….No running shoes he announced! But you’ve got to work HARDER than that to put the MARCH off – a spare set were duly supplied!

Two weeks since the last session and time to increase both pace and duration. Looking to add 10 mins to the run, making for a 60 min jog, with an increase in pace to 9 minutes per mile, minimum.

We miss the presence of the mighty Will, a hip niggle putting him out of action but with the weather working well for us, we head off to the River Thames.

(Olly making light work of the ‘new’ shoes as he strides past that icon of many James Bond movies – the MI5 building!)

With Fartlek sessions featuring again this time we add some extra intensity to our MARCH by doubling the stair and hill sessions that we work in to the longer route.

(JP working swiftly past another London icon – erected as a temporary structure with limited planning consent it proved too popular to take down and the consent was extended! But famously British Airways (the lead sponsor) encountered construction difficulties putting it up – leaving Richard Branson to famously hire a plane to fly a sign above it saying “BA has trouble getting it up!”)

(JP in silhouette and looking far too fresh for the home straight!)

Another quality session is over. We kept to the extended distance, lowered the average pace below 9 min/mile and doubled the intensity of the fartlek elements. Another step forward in the MARCH to the Atlantic Coast!

1. Plog 1 – 17 June 2013 – London training session

A grey London day with a tantalising hint of sun – or maybe rain. It’s a London summer – either is possible. Olly impresses with careful preparation, turning up in a waterproof running jacket – and therefore guaranteeing sun & something extra to carry for the run!

Early days in the training programme so there is still enthusiasm for stretching & other attempts to do things ‘by the book’. A 5 minute slow warm up jog followed by a genuine 5 minutes of stretching in Lincoln’s Inn fields. Most MARCHers confirm their lack of flexibility is only matched by their lack of balance.

We stride out for a slow paced jog (9.5 minute mile pace) of circa 50 minutes duration.

(Iconic London red double deckers trundle across the Thames as Olly, Nadia & Will cruise)

A chance to start loosening up unfamiliar muscles & ligaments with the promise of true endeavour later in the programme – building some base fitness & avoiding injury is the key in these early days. And getting the mind used to the slower pace needed to make the distance in a multiday ultra.

(A classic scene with Olly & Will cruising past the Houses of Parliament on the south bank of the Thames)

But no MARCH can be without a little ‘interest’ so Camo introduces a little gentle fartlek training in to the jog. A mixed course of basic obstacles to add some variation to pace & intensity. A few stairs (run at 3/4 pace & repeated), some low level platforms to run up & off and some fast flat sections run at 6.5 minute mile pace.

(Camo – in dynamic MARCHman T – heading towards the Houses of Parliament)

All up a great session. 5.25 miles jogged in 47 minutes (including fartlek sessions) with everyone returning with a smile – and ready for more!

MARCH on to the next sess’ !!

One thought on “MARCHing to the Atlantic Coast Challange

  1. Great photos of some fit people. Liked that a fartlek session was included. Weather looked good.
    Love Mum xxxx