Way back in late December 2015 I decided to set myself a challenge for 2016 which would take the whole year to complete. The 12 medal challenge was simple (in terms of the rules, not the actual challenge itself) all it involved was achieving one medal per month for the whole of 2016. Any distance, anywhere, just one per month.
Today, Sunday 4th December, I have just completed this challenge and with it my race calendar for 2016. So here is a little summary of the year race-by-race. You’re welcome.
I must also add here that you are right in thinking that there are 16 medals in the picture. Overachiever.
January’s medal was for a 10k and I left it until 31st Jan to earn this one, cutting it close. The race was the Royal Parks 10k in Hyde Park. I can’t really remember much more about it. A pretty standard 10k and medal – the first one from the left in the picture.
In February, I completed my first (and slowest) half marathon of the year in Old Deer Park in Richmond. It was two weeks to the day after I had my fall and had broken my wrist, although I didn’t know it at the time. I remember being very unprepared for this event as I hadn’t been running much due to the injuries to my knee and hip. However, the 12 medal challenge was the reason I made it to the start line and I took it slowly. I also had a bit of fear about falling over again and as it was February and cold, wore clompy trail trainers and avoided every tree root, stone, puddle so no wonder it was slow! Still, medal two in the bag (the one with the multi-coloured string.)
March was the big one and the first ‘month of two medals.’ The ultramarathon was coming around quickly, but before that I had the Silverstone Half marathon to contend with. It was a nightmare to get there, traffic was awful and parking was worse. The stars aligned though and I got there at a perfect time for me – I like to trot up to the start corral and get going straight away, which is what happened here. It was a cold day but the sun was shining and I did get a tiny bit of sunburn, even in March. It was awesome to run around the race circuit and this remains my half marathon PB. I’d recommend this one if you plan ahead for the traffic. The medal is a car wheel.
Next up was the Canalathon 50k and this one was so important to me. It was on Easter Sunday from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge in Yorkshire and I had planned it to the very last detail including the after party. It was hard, the weather provided a bit of all 4 seasons in one day and I ran most of it on my own. But I think this is the medal I am most proud of this year as I wasn’t sure on that start line if I could run that far in one go. Also, having been derailed in training with my accident in February, I had extra doubt about it. But I loved this race, cried crossing the finish line and raised over £200 for Tower Hill Stables animal sanctuary. I would recommend this as a good first ultra to anyone who has done a marathon. Flat, no navigation needed, well signed, aid stations on the way and plenty of time to complete it in.
Again I waited until the very end of the month to net this one – the Lee Valley Velo Park 10 miler. The velo park runs are part of the Run Through group of races and are extremely well organised, cheap to enter and have good medals. However this particular one includes 10 x 1 mile laps of the race track with its ups and downs and solid concrete. I like it for some reason and went back again in June for a 10k. No idea why. I think I even ran to the start of this one. Mad.
Another big one this month with the Rock n Roll Liverpool marathon on 29th. This medal is epic. The race was hilly and one of the hottest days of the year which made it pretty tough. However, it was good fun and this race is my marathon PB so it has a special place in my heart. I think you can find this one in the picture without too much trouble…
As mentioned above, in June I went back to the Lee Valley Velo Park for another 10k. Six loops of the race track isn’t quite as daunting as 10. However, I was massively hungover so it was awful. But it was 25th of the month and my last chance for a medal. I was half way through by now so there was no way I wasn’t going to do it. I do NOT recommend running with a hangover and learnt a valuable lesson from this race. It’s the red medal.
Another ‘month of two medals.’
First up, an unexpected 10k at the Olympic Park for the Great Newham Run. I wasn’t expecting to do this until the last minute when I ran it with a friend as the person she was running with couldn’t make it. This run was brilliant and finishes in the Olympic Stadium. Loved it.
Next was another half marathon on Wimbledon Common where I high-fived a Womble and got medal number nine of the year. The one with the Womble. Obvs.
The third ‘month of two medals.’ Firstly at the start of the month I did a last minute 5k in Hyde Park as part of the Run Through Chase the Sun evening events to see how my race fitness was and really enjoyed smashing out a fast 5km before dinner. This is the sunshine medal.
Secondly, another big one and one of my faves in terms of medal and race. This was my second ultra of the year from Richmond to the Thames Barrier along the Thames Path. Involving some navigation and following directions, this was a really small point to point race with a brilliant, HUGE medal (the square one.) A no-fuss event along the river, I really enjoyed it.
Another ‘month of two medals’ making three back to back.
On 4th I completed the Harlow 10 miler, my favourite distance, with my good friends from running club. It was hilly and windy and although it was a picturesque, countryside course, it was tricky in places. But it was lovely to run with friends in our club vests and bag another medal – the black and yellow one.
Next up was the race I enjoyed the most this year – the Bury 10k, which is my home town. I’m shocked really that this was my favourite race as I wasn’t planning on doing it until the week before when I found out it was going to be on and I would be home coincidentally that weekend too. The course was on closed off roads around the town, nothing amazing, but it was nice to be running on familiar roads and hearing familiar accents all around me. It was good to be home. The race was amazingly well organised and marshalled, the goody bag was brilliant and the medal is lovely. 10 out of 10.
With all the ‘month of two medals’ done, October saw just one 10k which I completed with my husband for the first (and most likely only) time, under the promise that we could get brunch afterward. It was a two loop course in Hyde Park and was a lovely autumn morning. Good to bag the medal, the purple one, early in the month.
The biggy. Vegas, baby! My second and final marathon of the year and the one I had booked a year in advance. The Rock n Roll Las Vegas Strip at Night marathon. It was a spectacle indeed. A Snoop Dogg concert first, people getting married on the route, runners from 82 countries and the winner was dressed as Elvis. I am so glad I had the experience of completing this race but it was the hardest race of the year by far. The start time of 4.30pm threw me for a loop nutrition wise and I had a stitch and stomach cramps for 24 of the 26 miles. Not ideal. However, there was no way I was stopping and so this medal means more than just completing the distance to me. It is a reminder of how hard you can work if you really, really want something. The medal is a roulette wheel which spins and glows in the dark, there is no way I was coming home without it.
Also, as part of the Rock n Roll series I will get two extra medals, pretty much for doing nothing. As I completed two of their marathons in a year I get the ‘Double Beat’ medal and because they were in two different countries, I will get the ‘World Rocker’ medal, too! So that makes 18. Kind of.
This brings me back to today. A lovely 10k jog around Regent’s Park as part of my running club’s race series (the one I wrote the article about – Mornington Chasers 10k.) It has been three weeks exactly since Vegas and I hadn’t done any running at all since then, so I was happy to run with my friend who was pacing 55 minutes to take any pressure off and just enjoy the beautiful, winter morning in the park. Getting that medal was slightly emotional. Challenge complete. 2016 race calendar complete – six 10ks, three half marathons, two marathons, two ultras, two ten milers, a 5k and all the training in between and PBs in 4 distances (ultra, marathon, half marathon and 10 miles.) Not too shabby.
So here’s to 2017 and the biggest challenge yet. 100k isn’t that far, right?
Season’s Greetings, everyone!