Still in disbelief but this week Run Like Duck won the Running Awards Best Book.
I was on a cruise boat on the Thames, surrounded by the big brands and significant people in the running world (PSH from parkrun was there), walking onto the stage to be handed a trophy the size of a brick by Mike Bushell, that bloke off the telly!
All this just after recounting my unlikely tale from sofa dweller to runner on the stage downstairs to a room of bloggers and writers. Those that have known me pre-running would struggle to pick which was more unlikely, me running marathons or me doing a stint of public speaking without soiling myself or jumping overboard.
The award is based purely on votes, so thanks to all of you who took the time to vote. Up against stiff opposition from the likes of world famous runner Scott Jurek and best selling author Adharanand Finn it was a honour to even make the shortlist.
Special thanks to my wife Cloë for supporting me throughout and being there to settle my nerves and share the experience. I promised her a romantic dinner cruise on the Thames and she tolerated the slight mis-advertising without setting Trading Standards on me.
The day itself was great and started with an afternoon organised run tour, sponsored by Runderwear and organised by Secret London Runs. I’ve done a few unusual walking tours in places whilst on holiday and find them the best way to see the real city.
Although I visit London a lot with work it’s typically tube station to generic office block so was eye opening to actually see the unusual sites and hear the history of the ‘Sinful South’ of the river Thames. The run leader was very knowledgeable and we covered a good area over the run before regrouping (we’d been split broadly into three groups based on approximate pace). As with any meet up it’s initially odd to meet twitter and facebook acquaintances in real life and not refer to people by handles. The legendary David Hellard from Bad Boy Running was there as was Allie Bailey from AB runs. Also met Mike Bushell who is a really top bloke and quite happy to get changed in the back of a van without throwing a diva fit.
Being sponsored by Runderwear we’d all received a sample of their undies for the run. Personally I find a lot of technical sportswear over hyped and unnecessary but having suffered far too often from intimate chaffing it’s a literal sore point for me. At my first 100 miler my shorts had rubbed so violently I was worried I’d be left appendage free and smooth like an action man figure. Being mentally and physically attached to certain parts of my anatomy I was keen to try the Runderwear. With a 32” waist I was between small and medium and plumped for small. They looked tiny out the packet but fitted snug once on and were so comfy.
I don’t like wasting money and wouldn’t encourage others to waste theirs so would happily call them bloody awful if that was the case (there’s an entire blog post on here dedicated to a particularly awful shoe brand that I wouldn’t wear again even if paid to promote) but I can honestly say they’re the comfiest pair of undies I’ve ever worn, for running or otherwise. They’re made on a 360 degree seamless machine and the difference is apparent as they uniformly contour with no seams to rub. I’m genuinely a convert and the fact the staff that attended the run were friendly runners also helps as you know they practice what they preach.
After a quick pop to collect the wife from work and beg a shower (plus a beer) we assembled back on Tower Bridge to meet the Dixie Queen boat that was the venue for the evening. It’s a big boat and needs Tower Bridge to raise to allow it to pass. It’s a great sight to see the bridge rise from a distance as you wait on the pier and then again as you pass back under it on the boat.
Once on board we were split into the corporate awards dinner upstairs and the bloggers forum downstairs. The goody bags were well received and I love free samples as I’m basically a tight wad and like to try before I buy. I was also hungry having forgotten to eat lunch so got into the product testing early.
- Prime Protein Snack – either apricot and sage or beef and chilli. I demolished the beef one, very tasty, perhaps a little spicy for some but often on an ultra you need something sharp to cut through the sweetness of coke and energy drinks. I’ve heard a few people eat mustard sachets for this reason but yet to try this as I’m not a bloody idiot.
- Veloforte Classico – citrus fruits, almonds and honey. A calorie dense (300) bar that tastes like something you’d choose to eat, with a soft texture, and inhaled in seconds in my case.
- Hala Bar – yet to taste, will be used on next run
- Kate Percy’s Go Bites – yet to taste, will be used on next run
- Active Root Green Tea & Ginger powder – designed to calm your stomach on a long run and fuel the miles. Single serving size will be with me on next ultra.
- Caffeine Bullets – already use these and found the caffeine hit of a chewy sweet ideal. Tend to make a couple of orders a year on these so recommended from experience. At the risk of giving Hellard a big head these are great.
- A cool hat from Mud & Blood – It looked so good my son stole it and I’ll never see it again.
The evening was hosted by Claire Maxted from Wild Ginger Runs, who started with a recounting of ultra adventures including photos to get the foot fetish people going. Then Susannah Gill covered her world record 7 marathons in 7 continents, before Eric Keeler explained his coast to coast crossing of the USA, covering 3,646 miles, a lot from someone who confesses to not really liking running.
The bar had been set high and after a promotion from Enertor on their innersoles (I have a pair and will be testing soon) it was left to me to bring the level back down with the tale of fat bloke who ran a lot of marathons trying to be a bit less fat.
I kept mostly on script but wandered off at times. When you realise members of the rival Milton Keynes running club are in the audience it’s too tempting not to have a dig (I also joined that club eventually so was in jest). The response to the talk seemed positive and even the legendary Danny Bent congratulated me at the bar, I was starstruck and forgot to get a selfie. Bloody amateur.
Talk done I could get back to the beer and relax whilst Runderwear closed the night with a sales talk on history of the company and product then dig into the buffet.
Full of food we went upstairs for the awards and sat with Girl Running Late, who was eagerly awaiting the result of the blog awards. After the various sportswear awards it was time for best book and for me to walk up on stage and collect the heaviest award I’ve ever seen. I might bench press it at the gym. Celebrating with some liberated wine back at the table, Mike ran through the rest of the awards on the stage. Sadly GRL didn’t win but it was a very closely fought category.
We finished the night off with Clean Coach Katie and James Down before disembarking at Tower Pier back for Milton Keynes, buckling under the weight of the award and two bottles of PB ale. Fair to say it was a top evening as well as a reminder of how much running has changed me, not just physically but also a slow transition from shit-scared introvert to someone who can at least fake being an extrovert and talk on stage after sufficient beer.
NOTE – I’m aware how blogging about attending a blogging event is pretty much inception level. If someone could blog about reading this blog about a blogging event we could go even deeper….