As far as running is concerned, 2021 has been a good year for me. Not on par with 2019, or plans which never happened in 2020, but a good year nevertheless. As the events industry and travel industry continues to grow I have enjoyed being able to attend more races. Restrictions have meant a lot of disappointments still, but in perspective there are greater things to be more concerned about. With a world full of covid, my family are healthy, and although we have all had covid at least once (like most of the population) we are ok. My thoughts are with all those who have lost loved ones. 2021 has been a particularly difficult year for me personally. I always wear my heart on my sleeve, being an honest and kind person in general. This year I’ve learned that this is not always enough, especially when there are people out there prepared to lie and hurt others with no care or consideration of the impact. I keep my social media focused on running and the positives, but it’s important for people to know that life isn’t always as good as it may seem on social media, and just because someone is smiling, doesn’t always mean they are ok. So at this time of year, take time to check on those around you.
The beginning of 2021
The beginning of 2021 started off slow, owing to restrictions in place. I was disappointed to not be able to go to the National Running Show and see the Running community. I was supposed to be a speaker again, giving a talking on pacing yourself. Then many events were cancelled, just as with 2020. Tokyo Marathon and Rome Marathon being two highlights which we have missed for two years now.
London Winter Run 10k
I decided to raise money for charity and try to motivate my team at work. I always look to try and encourage positivity, and using running made sense to me. My staff had been working in difficult conditions, and just before Covid began we lost a colleague to Cancer. So I set up an inclusive team of people who predominantly didn’t run. Together we raised over £5,000 which I’m really proud of.
11 Marathons in 11 Days
With the majority of races still cancelled for the first half of of year, I looked for opportunities to do something different. I had seen 10 marathons in 10 days before, but never signed up because of other key events I did not want to miss, and most importantly, worrying that I would not be able to pace accurately on tired legs. So when I had such a big gap in my diary I thought about the 10 in 10. I also wanted to raise more for Cancer research, by doing a personal challenge, so this was just perfect. I still had Richmond Marathon which fell on my 10 in 10 dates, so I turned it in to a 11 in 11.
Take a look at my blogs for more details of each day. I was surprised at how resilient the human body is, and how I adapted each day. Running 11 marathons in 11 days was the biggest running achievement to date, and to do it all within a few seconds; all 3:59:5x was a great achievement which I am proud of. With all the missed pacing, I thought this was great practice. I managed to raise of £5,000 for Cancer Research, meaning in 2021 I was able to raise over £10,000. I am very proud of this, and hope it makes a difference.
After the 11 in 11
I had thought my body would be broken after the 11 in 11, but it wasn’t. In fact, 10 days after finishing I ran another marathon, the first large event of 2021; the Kempton Park (Richmond) Marathon. I managed to run a marathon PB, for the first time since 2013. This course had no pacers and I ran a lot of it in no man’s land, I had a huge blister that left me with an injury, it was not the best event for me, but I still achieved a PB. This told me I was ready for more.
Trails and Ultras
Over the Summer months the Ultra and trail season was on, and uninterrupted. It was great to go back and run Race To The Stones again and take part in Race To The King. I was happy with my performances, finishing stronger and faster than ever before. I’m not hitting podiums any time soon, but sewing personal improvement, which is what it’s all about.
I also took part in the Penhurst Palace events and the highlight was my first ever colour run with my family. If you haven’t tried this before, you are missing out. We had so much fun.
Return to Pacing
After over a year it was great to be able to return to pacing. Lots of events were still being cancelled, including the rearranged National Running Show (and I finally could not make the date it was held due to so many clashes). So when London 10k and London Landmarks Half Marathon were both on, it was great to be back. It was like riding a bike, back to the familiar feeling of running with others, shouting out words of encouragement along the way.
I paced with Xempo and so pleased to be able to take part in these events as a pacer. I was offered places in both to run my own race, to just take part in the events. But that’s not what I love about running, so I was pleased to be able to run as an official pacer in both.
Things started to return to normal
Towards the end of the summer things started to feel a bit more normal. I ran the Big Half Marathon, and we had our first Brooks Team event in person since covid restrictions. I then turned to triathlon, in preparation for my 2020 Ironman in California, which I subsequently could not make because of travel restrictions.
It was fantastic taking part in London Duathlon which was my first Duathlon. Also the London Triathlon and Weymouth Ironman 70.3. I had been training on my Echelon to make improvements on the bike. I am better, but frankly I’m still not a strong cyclist. It will just take more practice and something I aim to improve further over the next year.
The Autumn got a little crazy. I always have back to back events, but all the race movements meant many people experienced this. It meant that I was unable to go to a lot of events as they clashed with others, but for 8 weeks in a row I took part in events, it was a whirlwind.
I was so pleased to be an official pacer for Brighton Marathon, Berlin Marathon, Manchester Marathon and Amsterdam Marathon. It was a shame I could not travel for California and New York Marathons, and I could not make it for Liverpool Marathon, but there was a packed calendar and I had lots of fun.
With Ironman California not possible because of travel restrictions, I managed to get a place at Ironman Portugal, and we made a lovely family holiday. Such a great time in Cascais, and memories that will last.
One big achievement that everyone know I’ve been working towards is a Boston Qualifier. This has been years in the making, but I haven’t got close or PB’d in the marathon until this year. After London Marathon I knew I could do more and I wanted to ensure I could get a Boston place. I entered Barcelona last minute on a whim to have one last try. I wanted a sub 3 and I raced perfectly, but I did not factor in the fact my watch and course measurement didn’t align. But I delivered the biggest PB of the year, finishing in 3:00:26 and securing my Boston Marathon place.
My final marathon of the year finished the Phoenix Firebird Series, which was 4 marathons throughout the year and the biggest medal in my collection.
Next up 100 marathons
I have been getting ever closer to the 100 marathon club, and after completing 25 marathons, 2 ultra marathons and 1 Ironman in 2021, I finish the year having completed 97 events towards the 100 marathon club. I have planned my 100th Marathon with Rik from Phoenix Running events, so that it’s a smaller official event that everyone can sign up and join me if they wish. I have paid and entered myself, and will be running the marathon, but you can run as many 3.28 mile laps as you wish and join me for cake and maybe a beer at the end.
In 2021 I completed a total of 39 events, 6 of which as an official pacer, including 1 Iroman, 2 ultras, 25 marathons. I would have liked to have paced more and hope this can improve in 2022. In 2022 I hope that I can take on more challenges and adventures. I have entered so many already, but need to access what is possible moving forward, and what I can realistically afford. But I will be joining the 100th Marathon club, running Boston marathon, Pacing the sub 4 funbus and looking for more adventures.
What are your highlights from 2021, and plans for 2022?