Running

Photo copyright the East Anglian Daily Times. On the 28th November we headed to The Kings Forest, just North-West of Bury St Edmunds, for the Festive Forest Challenge, a series of trail races organised by Positive Steps PT in support of St Nicholas Hospice. Myself, Pip Cresdee and Carl Thompson all opted for the 20 mile race, however there were also options of 10k and half marathon distance events, all three were open to walkers and runners alike. Turning up on a bright, but cold, November morning, the car park at West Stow Country Park was teaming with enthusiastic people ready to head out into the forest and take on their respective distance challenges. Festive fancy dress was encouraged and was certainly embraced with lots of santa hats, Christmas jumpers and elf costumes on show. After a run briefing, everyone headed across the road for the start of the challenge. There was a real mix of people taking part, from

The Whole Hog, organised by Eight Point Two events is probably one of my favourite alternative running events of the year. It takes place in October at Wantisden Valley, situated in the Suffolk countryside. Kicking off with an individual race, this is then followed by a team race where groups of three make their way through the 7 miles of mud, fields, woods, water and obstacles. I've taken part in the Whole Hog three times now, each time in a team of three and enjoy this type of obstacle race, one that doesn't have the time pressures of road racing. My team for this year was assembled quite late in the day and included myself, Ryan Ostler and Pete Smith. We didn't have any expectations with regard to time but decided to head out, give it our all and see how it went. The course had changed just slightly this year, setting off in

Having recently returned from a holiday in Valencia, Spain, I felt compelled to write about one of Valencia's largest recreational parks, the old Turia river bed which runs the length of the City from the North to South. Following a flood in 1957 the course of the Turia River was diverted, leaving the original river bed behind. This has since been made into a park, the Turia Gardens, boasting a variety of tracks and trails, ponds and fountains, wooded areas with flowers alongside sports and leisure equipment; there are football pitches, rugby and baseball fields as well as an athletics track and stadium. The tracks allow pedestrians and cyclists to freely move around the city without encountering any traffic - the length of the Turia Gardens is around 7 kilometres. As a runner away from home, the first thing that I noticed whilst wandering through the gardens was the sheer number of runners, meandering

Friday 8th - Sunday 10th May saw the Rat Race Dirty Weekend descend on Burghley Park in Lincolnshire. My friend and colleague, Matt Horsup, had talked me into signing up for the event and it soon became apparent that this wasn't to be any race, this was 200 obstacles over 20 miles - the World's largest assault course! Having only previously run in one other obstacle race, the (relatively short in comparison) Whole Hog in Suffolk, I thought that I knew what to expect, although the distance and number of obstacles were going to make this even more of a challenge. Rat Race do a great job of turning the event into a mini-festival, with camping, a beer tent and live music on both the Friday and Saturday evenings. We headed down on the Friday night to pitch our tent and prepare for Saturday's run. When booking online you choose a starting wave time

In October 2012 I decided that it was time for a new running challenge and signed up for the Paris Marathon. As a first-time Marathon runner I certainly learned a lot from my training and the race - so here's a brief summary of the day and a few tips and tricks that I picked up along the way the way that will hopefully help other first-time Marathon runners. The race took place on April 7th and started on the Champs-Élysées. I've never seen the Metro in Paris so busy as everyone makes their way towards the Arc de Triomphe for the start. I arrived about half an hour before my pen (3:30) was schedule to start the race, leaving enough time to get ready and into the starting zone. As Vangelis's Chariots of Fire blasted out of the speakers along the start, the waves of runners started to move forwards and

With numerous smartphone apps on the market for tracking your fitness activities, it can be hard to know which one to go for. I have tried a few different apps and websites over the years, starting out using iPhone apps and later using a Garmin watch to track my activities. This short guide compares some of the more popular activity-tracking websites and apps. RunKeeper http://www.runkeeper.com RunKeeper was one of the first fitness apps that I tried for analysing and tracking my running. The smartphone app is very simple and easy to use, providing an overview of each activity along with a map and split times. The app syncs with the RunKeeper website to provide slightly more detailed reports and graphs of activities. Pros Good value for money, it once cost $9.99 but is now free. For those who would like to take advantage of more detailed reporting, there is an elite version at a

Photo from Ipswich parkrun on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/Ipswichparkrun Waking up early on Saturday morning I decided that rather than opt for the 8am training session in Christchurch Park, I would give myself an extra hour and go and try the new-ish Ipswich Parkrun at Chantry Park. This was to be the 9th Ipswich Parkrun after it was established in early September. Parkrun, a non-profit organisation, originated in 2004 as a free running event, giving runners the opportunity to compete against themselves rather than others over the 5Km distance. The idea being that you turn up, run 5Km, are given an official time for your run and then you try to better that time each week. I was unsure how many people would also turn out for the Ipswich Parkrun on a cold, damp November Saturday morning and was surprised at home many were there, especially the number of first-timers. In total there were