We did it! Hell of a Hill – Our first marathon!

So after 19 weeks of training our marathon is done and in the bag.

Spoiler : we did it. I mean its there in the title of course we did.

Please note – this is a long and boring report and I apologise. But you can scroll and just look at the pictures! I don’t mind.

As I wrote last time in my rarely updated blog, February 2014 we started doing a Parkrun on a Saturday and by the following May we’d have done 50 of those.  It was about a month after where talk was starting of the next challenge. Martin had signed up for Hell of a Hill, an absolutely  brutal challenge of running 5 marathons in 5 days.

He suggested that Rach, Dunc and I sign up for the final day, but warned we should check the course first. Rach signed us up before we’d had a chance. Dunc didnt manage to get in as we took the final two places. They only allow 55 people to enter per day – 15 people doing a single day and 40 people doing all 5 days.

A week after sign up we went for our first look at the course. You can see a video of this below.

I think the majority of the video features me swearing as a new challenge appears. Its important to stress this marathon isn’t a standard marathon like London that you may watch on TV. Its more a trail type run, 8 laps up a hill, that features two flights of steps and downward paths that can be even more challenging than the uphill parts. You can see my course review I did here which features pictures from every step of the way.

In the build up to the marathon it became common place to have the below conversation about it

“Oh we’re doing a marathon”
“That should be fun where is it?”
“Do you know Rivington Pike?”
“Well its running to the top of that, then back to the bottom,  8 times”
“You’re mad”

As a training plan we went for Hal Higdons Intermediate 1 training plan. We went back and forth over plans, but this got the most recommendation, and when we were originally going to do the Novice Plan Martin managed to get us to change our mind last minute and switch to the intermediate.  I cant recommend these plans highly enough. My tip would be to read through all the notes first as they really helped – walking through water stations proved a valuable piece of advice and having a training plan that said no intervals came in useful on nights when Martin was suggesting them.

I dont want to bore you with full reviews of the 18 weeks we spent training. What I will say is I went through spells of feeling great, and spells of feeling low. There werent any set goals in the training, we didnt really know what our marathon pace was (and it wouldnt have been the same as this marathons pace anyway). The one thing I did want to do was go sub 2 hours on a half, but as that got closer my speed over 5k seems to totally die out and I lost all hope. I felt like I’d done something wrong, then all of a sudden on the week of the half everything clicked and I managed to smash my goal and finish in 1 hour 56 minutes.

As got closer there was meltdowns, Rach having one really low point halfway through our first 20 mile run was a particular low, there was pain, but there were no real injuries, and we got to the week. At this point its time to remind you, while we were doing one day Martin was doing 5. So each day we got the updates. Grotty toes.  Pain.

On the friday Rach went to see him and was greeted by a face that she said looked broken. A small walk with him later and he completed that. We went to see him together the next day, and you could tell that it wasnt the time for joking or taking the mickey out of him. He was a broken man. And here we were about to join him

November 15th 2015. Hell of a Hill

I had a restless nights sleep. I think I got 3 hours at most. I even spent time in the middle of the night googling “night before race cant sleep” only to find a multitude of people saying it’s fine, as long as you are lying there your body is resting.

I got up, had breakfast, a small bowl of cereal. We dressed and got in the car. And we got our first peak at her.

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In the run up to the marathon one of Rachels friends, Zoe and her boyfriend Paul had managed to get later entries to the run. Martin had decided to run with us, and Zoe was going to stick with us too while Paul did his thing. We were ready

12265702_10156251170135298_3547045935848691924_o (1) No one told me my top was pulled up. The buggers.

So that was it. We were off. Everyone started together, and we ran up the small road that led to the start of the lap – where the terrain went awful and went uphil. And then everyone started walking. I loved this – it was like a herd of elephants walking holding each others tails. It felt like even though we wouldnt be together for the whole thing, in that moment we were together.


The first few laps were uneventful. I’d even go as far to say they were pretty comfortable. As we entered lap 4 tho it changed. All of a sudden Rach started struggling.  We took it in turns to give her little pep talks but she was finding it tough.

As we entered lap 5, there was a friendly face stood at the end of the lap – my best man Top Dave. I’d never been so happy to see him, and having him there was amazing. It was nice just to see a face that would say nice words about me that didnt feel like lip service. I made him walk up the first bit with us, and chatted along. It gave me a boost.

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I’d started to feel some pain in the back of my right ankle every time we went from an uphill to a downhill. It became really hard to do the downs, and on lap 5 while I was at the back of our mini pack I slipped on a downhill and went down like a ton of bricks. But I dusted myself off and got back up.

At lap 6 Becca, Rachels sister arrived. This gave Rach a real boost, especially as she walked with us up the first bit. At this point we had a real pack, there was the 4 of us  – me, Rach, Martin and Zoe, I’d made Dave walk up and he was holding my Camelbak bladder like an IV while I was drinking, and Becca and her boyfriend Ash trekking up the first part of the hill. We werent even halfway up that first part when suddenly Becca declared she wasnt going to make it – it was too hard! At this point I think it gave Rach even more of a boost – she’d already done it 5 times that day and was midway up her 6th, and Becca couldn’t even do the first part. For the rest of the marathon Rach seemed energised by that.

Lap 7 began tho and I was starting to get emotional. I’d said to Dave on the previous lap that I was finding it tough. Everything hurt, and the mere thought of little things was getting me choking up. I’d told him “if you said my mum had called and she wanted to let me know that she loved me, I’d be crying right now”. As we reached the pike for the penultimate time I was at the back of our mini pack, and as we started to go downhill my ankle pain really flared up. I started to drop behind everyone else, and got frustrated as I struggled to keep up. We reached a part where the path zig zagged, and I heard Martin saying we’d regroup at the gate. I knew it wasnt far to the gate, so I dug in and pushed, hoping I could get back in the pack and everything would be ok. I pushed on, got round the corner and to the gate.

And I saw Rach running off round the next corner.

Leaving me behind.

Well, that was me done. I suddenly felt alone, and doubt creeped in about whether I could do this. The tears came, and they flowed. Everything came down to this point and I wondered if Id even make it. A couple walked past me in the opposite direction wishing me well as I pulled my visor down to hide my fat man tears.

I glanced at my watch, saw I was only around 5 hours in, and thought no matter what, I’m going to do this. I limped down the hill to where they were all waiting. At the gate. The gate at the bottom of the hill. The gate where we’d regroup.

For fucks sake Chris you emotional fool.

And just when I’m at my lowest, as we hit the stairs at the end of the 7th lap we heard a ringing in the distance. Martin was next to me and said “someones brought a cowbell.” I think both of us were hoping but didnt want to say. Then we saw him

If theres ever a loony with a cowbell who could raise a smile from a bunch of broken PRATs its our PRAT running buddy Duncs. You can hear me after I pass him really confused as he said he would meet us at the top of the hill.

So it was lap 8 and at the start of it I grabbed Rach and said “Please stick with me for the whole lap”. I also told her how I’d been crying. She hadn’t realised, and stuck by my side. We got to the Pike for the final time

Look how determined Martin was. And how happy to have got up there for the 40th time this week


We finally joined him, and Dunc suggested we get a pic. Now if anyone else on the planet at that point asked me to stop for a pic then I would have been unleashing a hail of swear words on them. But Dunc is Dunc, so of course, we all posed with a PRATs flag, and celebrated taking Rivington Pike in the name of the PRATs


There was still a good 3 miles to go tho, so we struggled on. Near the end of the lap Zoe was finding it hard so pushed forward in front of us. At one point I looked at my watch and said to Rach “We could make sub 7 hours here”, and she just looked back and said “Ive not got anything more in me”.

We pushed on.

And with 7 hours, 2 minutes and 47 seconds on the clock we crossed the finishing line.

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Emotions flooded over me. I cant really put it into words. I think this picture sums up how we felt

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The medal went over my neck, and the guy gave me a hug and said well done.

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I was so overcome

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Everyone got a hug

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It was just emotional

2015-11-15 056I looked down at the medal annoyed I was too tired to turn it round.

Then someone said “Wheres Zoe?”

She had pushed on from us but hadnt yet finished, but we hadnt passed her. As we’re trying to scramble a search party there she appears

If you look in the background you see me walk off. I was too emotional and needed a bit of space.

Went and got a cup of tea, and a soup and was ok.

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And we got some celebratory pics

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So that was it. The PRATs finished a marathon together, and now all the senior PRAT members have completed at least one marathon.

Martin managed to finish 17th in the overall standings. If it wasnt for the slow last day running with the PRATs he could have finished higher – but I dont think he cared



While we only got one piece, he got the full 5 in 5 pie


As for us – well we said all along we didnt mind if we came last… but we didnt!



You do have to say though that the ordering is very suspicious there. Theres no way you can order my name, Rachels and Martins and end up with me coming in last place, which leads me to believe that Martin slipped them a cheeky fiver to make sure they put his name first.

And to finish, heres the strava data for the run



Now… whats next?



If you’d like to follow me on Strava you can find me here (please give me kudos I love kudos)
My Parkrun profile is here
My twitter is here
The Prats website is here

Hell of a Hill course review – 15/10/15

I decided to take some pics of the Hell of a Hill Marathon I’m doing. along with Rach. A friend of ours (fellow PRAT @MaraFunRun) signed up for 5 marathons in 5 days, and suggested me and Rach sign up for the final day as we could do it as a team. He did tell us to check the course before hand, but for some reason Rach decided to sign us up before we had a chance to check it.

Big mistake really.

The course is 8 laps of Rivington Pike near Chorley. Its basically a tower on a hill. Only 55 people enter per day, 30 who are doing the 5 in 5, and 25 just doing that days race. We’re signed up for the final day. Its gonna be mental

Continue reading

Breakout Manchester Review – John Monroe’s Detective Office

BreakoutMcRThis review will not contain any spoilers for the game, so feel free to read before visiting.

When Rach and I go out, we like to do some things a bit out of the ordinary which has at times ended up with us doing some pretty fun and pretty random things as diverse as going to a Darts event where we met Eric Bristow, to sitting at ringside at a WWE wrestling event and getting on camera high-fiving. So when I heard about a new trend in Escape Rooms, I knew we had to give it a go.

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I went to the CBeebies Exhibition – Lowry – Manchester

I’d been meaning to go to this exhibition for a while, but for some reason only got round to it two days before it closed. Oops.

We probably picked one of the worst days to go as well, as when we got to the Lowry it turned out there was a CBeebies day going on, and the whole area outside was packed with kids watching a live stage performance by Rastamouse? Never heard of him.

The exhibition was celebrating 90 years of CBeebies… so what did we see?

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Football Manager Diary S3 – December – Fuck Crouchy. We have Bebe

Football Manager 2014 LogoWe signed Bebe.

I love Bebe.



5-12-15 – Wimbledon vs Bristol Rovers – FA Cup 2nd round

10 minutes in Katuka gets down the left, crosses and we have the lead through guess who

Peter Crouch Robot Dance

Yeahhhhh. Bebe gets a chance shortly after but his shot straight at the keeper forces a stunning save. Wowzer.

In the 2nd half a corner from Katuka is headed into their own net by a Wimbledon defender. Bebe comes off, job done, he’s amazing and fully deserves his 6.6 rating.

Wimbledon produce nothing, and we take the win!

Wimbledon 0-2 Bristol Rovers
Crouch (11), Lavelle own goal (66)
Through to next round!

And its another cup match too

9-12-15 – Swindon vs Bristol Rovers – Johnstons Paint trophy Semi Final south

The first half is pretty dead, Katuka has a couple of shots but nothing happens.

Into the second and the stats are showing we are getting shots but theres no highlights. Crouchy has a shot saved, but thats about it. Into the dying seconds and Parkes heads a corner wide.

Theres no exra time, its straight to pens.

Katuka for us…. shoots straight at the keeper ffs
Rowe for swindon – SCORES 1-0
Lawrence for us…. shoots straight at the keeper… but he cant keep it out! 1-1
Kasim for Swindon… SCORES 2-1
Ekangame for us… SCORES 2-2
Barker for Swindon … MANNONE SAVES 2-2
Moon needs to score… and he does 3-3
Crouchy steps up…. and its unstoppable! 4-3
Williams for Swindon… SCORES 4-4
Edwards for us… SCORES 4-5
Smith for Swindon… SCORES 5-5
Zaliukas for us… SCORES 5-6
Bennett for them… SCORES 6-6
Kellett for us… SAVED FFS KELLETT 6-6
Oglive to win it for Swindon… and he does


Swindon 0-0 Bristol Rovers (Swindon win 7-6 on pens)
Eliminated from the cup

We had 17 shots to their 2. Jeez.

12-12-15 – Preston (23rd) vs Bristol Rovers (1st)

Bebe is tired so he’s benched.

Corry gives us the lead, lobbing the keeper from the edge of the box. Thats the only highlight of the half.

I bring the legend that is Bebe on at half time, and his introduction does exactly what I wanted it to – creates no chances or highlights as we coast to a 1-0 win.

Preston 0-1 Bristol Rovers
Corry (28)
League Position – 1st

We’re drawn against Blackpool in the FA Cup

19-12-15 – Bristol Rovers (1st) vs Rochdale (16th)

BEBE STARTS…. on the bench

Rochdale hit the post early on, then have a shot pushed round the post by Mannone. We score with our first shot, Gray crossing for Crouchy to volley in. At half time I tell the lads Im not happy, and sit there waiting for the 60th minute. As soon as that moment hits… ITS BEBE TIME.

He completelyt changes the game as we go from a tight game where we’re leading 1-0 with chances for either side, to a tight game where we win 1-0 with no chances.

What a guy

Bristol Rovers 1-0 Rochdale
Crouchy (34)
League Position – 1st

Monachello asks to cancel his loan, so I agree.

Next up is a top of the table clash

26-12-15 – Millwall (2nd) vs Bristol Rovers (1st)


Katuka grabs us the lead after Corry puts him through, then a second thats almost identical. Milwall pull one back after a good move but we go into the half with the lead

In the 2nd Milwall are pushing, Sharp goes through but Mannone saves, but with 10 mins left he gets in again and this time scores.

Its a unlikely draw, as we had 18 shots to their 8.

Millwall 2-2 Bristol Rovers
Isgrove (26), Sharp (81) – Katuka (4, 23)
League Position – 1st

Well at least the points there mean we’ll be top in the new year.

Nugents loan finishes and he goes back to Cardiff.

28-12-15 – Scunthorpe (6th) vs Bristol Rovers (1st)

Absolute dominance. Which is weird, because I didnt even start Bebe. Katuka and Lawrence grab a goal each, then Bebe comes off the bench and calms the whole thing down and we dont score anymore.


Scunthorpe 0-2 Bristol Rovers
Katuka (4) Lawrence (74)
League Position – 1st

We only have 6 months left on my contract, the board suggest talks so I tell them I want a bigger wage budget, they agree to increase from 65 to 79k if I sign the deal.

375 contract


The awards are crap, Bebe doesnt win a thing. I do tho

376 MOTM

The board are happy

377 board

WTF is up with these losses tho. At the league looks good

378 League

Lets sign some players!