Most people in the running community run a marathon every so often. One every few years, or maybe one or two a year. I’ve set the goal of running one hundred in a lifetime, so need to increase the frequency somewhat, especially considering I started at the age of 31. With this in mind, 2017 would be the year I would seriously increase the number of marathons completed, with an objective of twenty or more for the year. One of the core parts of the twenty+ goal was the Salwick Scorcher 7 in 7. 7 marathons in 7 days. The event offered other distances from 5k to 50k every day.
To give some perspective, I have run two marathons in two days (2 in 2) on various occasions over the last two years, usually aching terribly after each day and feeling like I couldn’t continue. This year I have competed in the Winter track double marathons and Summer track double marathons in Warrington. Following the Summer track marathons, I ran 10 miles on the next day for practice. Other than this, I had approached the 7 in 7 with no training, except for the other marathons I had run in the year – Leeds Canal Canter, Manchester, London and Howgills.
I had heard about the Salwick Scorcher 7 in 7 as I had competed in the “Hell of a Hill” marathon series last year, finishing 6th on the Wednesday and 2nd on the Sunday (setting a course record for single day entrants).
Finishing 2nd on the “Hell of a Hill” marathon on day 5 had been my proudest achievement up to that point.
The Salwick Scorcher is run by the same company that organises the Hell of a Hill series, so when this race series was announced, I knew I had to compete.
Fast forward to July 2017 and I had not run more than 2 marathons on consequtive days. I was fully expecting to break after three or four days and be walking around the course for the remaining days. I had booked a week off work and the following Monday to recover.
My main concern was that the weather would be warm, as I cannot run well in the heat. Day 1 was warm and sunny. On the first day, I cycled the wrong way to base camp and ended up covering 10 miles on my ride, rather than the 8 for the most direct route. The course comprises of 6 laps. The start is a short way round the first lap, to make the correct distance. The first day I completed in 3 hours 28 minutes and finished second. The first finisher – Adam Holland – I was familiar with from last year’s Hell of a Hill and knew he was completely unbeatable. For me, second would be the best result I could achieve each day. Following my finish of the first day, I gathered my kit and retired to the Derby Arms – one of the turning points on the lap. I had a couple of pints and made sure to consume plenty of protein for muscle recovery and to avoid the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). Following this, I cycled home. This would become my routine for the following days.
My plan had been to finish in around 3:30 on the first day, 3:45 on day 2, 4:00 on day 3 and as close to 4:00 on the remaining days as I could. I fully expected to break on day 4 or 5 and slow down considerably. For whatever reason, this didn’t happen. Perhaps it was the routine of protein intake with the ‘window’ – i.e. shortly after finishing a run, or the cycling to and from the event on most days. Either way, I was exceptionally fortunate to get a podium place on 6 of the 7 days and to finish second overall of the competitors who ran on all 7 days.
To say I didn’t feel it and it didn’t hurt would be a lie. After the second day, I had a mysterious pain in the back of my left knee. I was able to manage this with foam rolling, Ibuprofen gel and Ibuprofen tablets each day. I resisted the temptation of massage on any of the days.
The results I achieved would not have been possible had it not been for the awesome support I received from Red Rose Road Runners. Every day I saw someone from the club, who turned up to give encouragement or run laps with me. On several days I had supporters run half the course with me. Everyone’s efforts gave me a massive boost and encouraged me to try harder, run faster and keep going.
All in all, I would say that I surprised myself with how well things went, but I would not have managed without my team of supporters, from those that gave encouraging words to those I saw on the 7 days of the event.
For me, the next big challenges are all 5 days of “Hell of a Hill” in November and perhaps another ultra next year. I feel these will be somewhat easier! There will be a few marathons between now and then too! 🙂
Below, me with the 7 medals (taped together on the back!).
Above – me and some of the support team on day 7.