• Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon Trail Race 2018

    Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon trail running 2018

    Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon was not only my first ultra marathon, it was my first time doing trail running. I had signed up for a different team event but it was cancelled at the last minute due to safety reasons. I was determined not to let my training go to waste so I went on the hunt for a replacement race. A friend of mine introduced me to the Trail Events Co Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon trail running race and without hesitation I signed up! Registering very late (three days before the race) meant that there was no time to get apprehensive about it. I just packed my stuff and got down to the south coast. 

    As the horn sounded at the start of the race, my naivety shone through and I hit the front with another chap, albeit at a pretty modest pace.  By about 5km we had settled into a rhythm and a group of about 5 or 6 of us had formed and broken away, inter-changing positions with each km that passed. 

    By 8am the sun was already beating strong and the air temperature was climbing. I had slapped on a load of sun cream before I left but I wasn’t sure it was going to be enough. 

    Lulworth Cove Ultra Marathon running race 2018 trail running

    As soon as the race started, we were into the climbing. I remember laughing out loud at a scramble up from the beach. “I thought this was supposed to be a trail run,” I said to the guy in front of me when we got to the top. He asked me if this was my first trail ultra and when I said that it was, he simply smiled and said “you sure picked a good one to begin with!” I took that to mean I was in for a hard day and he wasn’t wrong!

    The route itself was varied, from coastal path, beach (sand and stone), steps, steep climbs and descents to forest and open country, it had it all! By 21km I felt good and was in about 6th position, which was totally unexpected and I was just waiting for something to go wrong. I didn’t have to wait long!

    At about 25km something didn’t feel right. I had planned on fuelling with solids as they had worked in training and out cycling so I thought I would stick to what I knew. However, in the heat, I just couldn’t face the dry oat and energy bars. So I stuck to blocks and gels which is not an unusual fuel source for me and I was used to them, but something wasn’t quite right.  Whether it was the direct sunlight, high air temperature, or something else, my stomach was in turmoil by 30km from which point I couldn’t keep anything other than water and electrolytes down. But as long as one foot went in front of the other, I kept moving forward: walking up the hills and jogging down and on the flat. 

    And so the kilometres ticked by, unrelenting inclines and unrelenting declines, the downs hurting as much as the ups. Being passed by a few other runners along the course went to both demoralise and spur me on in equal measure. 

    Aside from a couple of navigation errors, the finish line was quickly approaching and with 55km (34 miles) and 2,050m of cumulative climbing complete, I crossed the line and felt an incredible rush of both exhaustion and elation. I haven’t felt that sensation since my first Ironman back in 2014 and the sense of achievement still hasn’t faded... I want more of this!

    ultra running finishers medal

    Having no real benchmark to hit for that type of run as it was my first, and knowing that I wasn’t going to be competitive, I wasn’t too fussed about my result. I finished in a touch over 7 hours and was told I should be pretty happy with that. As it turns out, of the 74 starters I came 11th... I was over the moon!

    Overall, this is a brutal race with some very hard climbing and descending, over a great course through beautiful countryside. I would recommend this race to anyone wanting to really challenge themselves. I know I will be again!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • ISPO Germany

    ISPO Germany Sports Trade Show International Fitness

    ISPO Germany is the largest international sports trade fair in the world. Taking place in Munich, the event promises great networking opportunities and the possibility of increasing profitability in your area. 

    The exhibition is a 4-day event and showcases all types of sporting products. There is the chance to meet influential people in your market, try new products, and see the newest trends first. There are many areas covered from skiing to health and fitness.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Fit As A Fiddle Festival 2018

    Fit As A Fiddle Festival

    There's a brand new wellness and fitness festival coming to West Sussex in May 2018.

    Fit As A Fiddle (#FAAF) Festival on May 25th-28th 2018 is all about finding your own strengths in a motivating and positive setting. Situated in the heart of the South Downs at Plush Tents Glamping, East Ashling, the running territory is sublime, with miles and miles of treasured South Downs trails and grassy routes taking us directly to areas of outstanding natural beauty.

    The festival site itself is well equipped for an agenda full of yoga, Pilates, HIIT training and seminars with the most influential and authentic professionals in the fitness and health arena right now. There are deluxe yurts which each have a wood burning stove, beautiful lighting, sheep skin rugs and four poster beds. There’s an outdoor hot tub with panoramic views and even a moonlit cinema under the stars. 

    This is your festival if you crave high intensity training and meditative relaxation in equal measures; your festival if you love running, love the outdoors, believe in holistic living and natural remedies but don't get enough time to practice; and it is definitely your festival if you want to learn new things including how to empower yourself to feel completely nourished. We believe in living life to the full and never, ever giving up. 

    Fit As A Fiddle Festival (FAAF) is a 3-night, all inclusive, luxurious, boutique festival. It is a wellness event for fitness enthusiasts and positive women. The festival is designed to welcome people to reconnect with their strengths in a motivating, upbeat and positive setting. Set in the heart of the South Downs, high up in East Ashling, the yurts are situated in a private woodland with panoramic views across the Downs. Close to Kingley Vale, the running activities will take in 5, 10 and 20km of the picturesque views via trails; led each day by notable London-based running coaches and GB athletes. There will be 3 activities to choose from, every couple of hours, every day of the festival, ranging from seminars on topical and interesting aspects of wellness and natural remedies, with experts from fields of nutrition and dietetics; physiotherapy; mindfulness as well as many inspirational speakers all the way through to HIIT classes, independent personal training, consultations, Pilates and yoga teachers.

    The entertainment features DJs, acoustic musicians and many members of staff, to make this exclusive event one free of stress and logistics for its attendees; full of as much activity or relaxation as one cares to experience. It is the festival to attend if you believe in living life to the full! Each guest can cherry pick their activities for the days over al fresco breakfast, sat by the fire pit, in the home yurt, or gazing out across the landscape. There will be 70 attendees for the all inclusive 3 day, 3 night event, with 100 more on 26th and 27th of May - ‘day guests’ who will be able to experience everything but the yurts, until 10:30pm before being taken back to the train station nearby.

    Proceeds from ticket sales will go to charity ’MOVE’ which educates young people living with cancer on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The founder and CEO of the charity is a cancer survivor who will be at FAAF to promote her cause, tell her story and motivate others. The ethos is very much about empowered women empowering other women through sharing stories, good vibes and a healthy outlook. Please visit www.fitasafiddlefestival.co.uk for full details and for a breakdown of what is included in the ‘all
    inclusive’ ticket price.

    Check out the awesome line-up!

    The "All In" full weekend ticket is priced at £370 plus booking fees. This weekend ticket includes:

    • Luxury accommodation in a yurt for 3 nights: solid oak beds; plush furnishings; sheepskin rugs; wood burning stoves; beautiful lighting and incredible washroom facilities
    • Champagne welcome hamper for your yurt of 4 or 5 people
    • Personalised and decorated yurt for your group, including festival must haves
    • #FAAF T-Shirt and bag full of goodies from #FAAF's partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from Lu Lu Lemon's pop up shop
    • Food for the festival - with extras supplied by leading street food companies from East and West Sussex
    • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester train station on Friday 25th at 5pm and Monday 28th May at 10am
    • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
    • Unlimited yoga sessions with Together Yoga at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
    • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
    • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
    • Outdoor cinema under the stars
    • Unlimited seminars - sessions with the UK's leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness. Meet Hollie Grant; Libby Lemon; Nicky Clinch; Rosie Millen; Rhiannon Lambert; Pixie Turner; Daisy Hughes; Sundried Ambassador Pollyanna Hale and more
    • DoTerra trials - therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
    • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes
    • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
    • Access to the hot tub until 10:30pm

    Day Ticket price £100.00 includes:

    • FAAF T-Shirt and bag
    • Goodies from FAAF's partners and sponsors as well as access to merchandise from carefully selected sportswear houses and independent fitness brands
    • Shuttle bus return trip from Chichester, Arundel or Pulborough train station on Friday 25th and Monday 28th May
    • Unlimited fitness classes and your own scheduling
    • Unlimited yoga sessions at the break of dawn, throughout the days and during sunset
    • 1:1 sessions with experts in your chosen field: massage, physiotherapy, nutrition, endocrinology, sleep
    • 1:1 technique sessions with a GB triathlete and international runners
    • 5km and 10km guided running routes with master trainers (small groups designed for pace)
    • Outdoor cinema under the stars
    • Unlimited seminars - sessions with the UK's leading experts in holistic living, natural remedies and wellness
    • DoTerra trials - therapeutic grade essential oils and supplements
    • Pre and post workout hand blended protein shakes
    • Live music from London DJs and the best in UK EDM
    • Acoustic music sessions every evening
    • Access to the hot tub (12 people at a time) and exit from the festival by 10:30pm

    Use code pollyatfaaf to get 15% off your ticket price.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Kent Coastal Half Marathon 2017

    Kent Coastal Half Marathon Running Race Margate

    Kent Coastal Half Marathon is organised by Thanet Runners and sponsored by Kent County Solicitors. It takes place in the seaside town of Margate.


    The organisers state that there is ample parking, and this is definitely true. There is plenty of space to park for free which eliminates one of the stresses of taking part. As you walk towards Palm Bay Primary School where Race HQ is located you can hear the foreboding sound of a monotonous drum beat, making you feel like Jumanji has washed up on a nearby beach. While I thought this was a nice touch, it got a little annoying after a while.

    Despite the Race HQ being located in a school, there are only portaloos available for pre-race convenience, although they did eventually let people use the toilets in the school when it was very last minute. Your race number is posted to you before the event so the only thing you need to collect on the day is your chip timer which straps around your ankle. This means that there is plenty of time to stretch, warm up, and do any pre-race rituals before it's time to go.

    The race start is across the road on a large grassy area with a pop-up burger bar offering coffee and food for racers and spectators and there are tables and chairs as well. Before you know it, it's time to assemble at the start. There are pacers for the half marathon which is great, so you just find the man with in a high-visibility vest with your desired finish time printed on it and stick to him like glue. 

    The Course

    This event is a half marathon and a full marathon simultaneously, with both races following the same course to start and then the marathoners continuing once the half marathoners have finished. This does mean there could be a lot of temptation to finish the full marathon at the halfway point if you're struggling. 

    The route is advertised as being largely flat, but this could not be further from the truth! The first 3 miles loop around the local Parkrun route and are very gentle. At this point, I was happily rubbing shoulders with the pacer and was taking it very easy. Then the hills came into view.

    Margate Kent County Solicitors Half Marathon Road Race

    This is the first hill. It's at least an 8% gradient and meant that I could no longer keep up with my pacer friend. Usually, I don't mind running uphill, as it keeps the course interesting and challenging and it also usually means there is a downhill to come as a reward! However, after powering up this mean hill and using a lot of my energy expecting a downhill section to get my breath back, I was met with more hills! It just kept going up!

    After 8 miles I had completely lost the pacer and was struggling to keep going. I have never had a DNF in my life and definitely wasn't going to have one for this race, but as I continued running, wondering when the downhill was going to come, I started to think I might have to walk a bit. I hate to walk while I'm racing and I've never had to do it before, but by mile 10, when the uphill still wasn't relenting, I had to take a break. Considering it's an out-and-back course, I couldn't really fathom how the physics of it worked that I was still going uphill after 10 miles!

    By the time the downhill came, my legs were so sore I couldn't even enjoy it! However, now that I've finished complaining about the hills, I can say how fabulous the views were and how amazing the support was. There were more marshals than I've ever seen on a race and there were even people standing outside their houses offering jelly babies to runners which I thought was fantastic. A section of the run went through a fairly busy seafront section, and everyone was cheering us on and being very supportive which was amazing. 

    As the finish line finally came into view, I thanked my lucky stars I wasn't continuing with the full marathon course and there was a great reception at the end. A beautiful medal and a free technical t-shirt were the prizes which I thought I had definitely earned after the toughest half marathon I've ever done.

    Kent Coastal Half Marathon Race Finish Running


    This was an exceptionally well-organised event with lots of extra touches making it very special. There were inspirational messages written on signs along the course, such as "Everyone behind you wishes they were as great as you are". All of the main marshals had their job title written on their high-vis vest which meant you knew who everyone was (race director, lead cyclist etc). The race director had a great presence and seemed completely in control of the whole event with a very cool, calm head. They had scouts handing out water and there were plenty of water stations along the route.

    It seemed to be a very tight-knit running community with a lot of people knowing each other by name and the marshals cheering people on and chatting away as well. It was a very friendly, supportive atmosphere which was great.

    I'd certainly recommend this race, however, do your hill training in preparation and be under no illusion about how tough it is!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Garmin Ride Out 2017

    Garmin Ride Out 2017 New Forest Cycling

    Garmin Ride Out is an annual 50-mile bike ride through the beautiful New Forest countryside and is a chance for cycling enthusiasts to ride alongside some of their sporting heroes. As they warm up for the Tour of Britain, professional cyclists from the likes of Madison Genesis and Dimension Data ride the challenging course and share wisdom with their fans.


    The day starts bright and early at 8 am with registration. The ride is a charity event in aid of Action Medical Research who do valuable fundraising work to raise money for medical research to save the lives of vulnerable babies and children. As part of their £35 entry, every rider receives a limited edition Garmin cycling jersey which is fantastic; in fact, I heard that a lot of people enter the race just to receive the jersey and then don't even do the ride! 

    After receiving your jersey and race number you also receive a Garmin goody bag filled with treats from partners such as a coffee brand and some bike cleaner. There is a charity raffle as well with some incredible prizes such as a new road bike and a Garmin bundle. Once you've got all your affairs together, it's time for a complimentary breakfast and to assemble in the tent for a Q&A with the professional cyclists.

    Garmin Ride Out 2017 Cycling Road Bike Castelli

    The Ride

    The ride is a 50-mile loop around the country lanes and villages of the beautiful New Forest near Southampton. It is a stunning part of the country with wild ponies, donkeys, and cows freely grazing in the surrounding meadows and casually wandering across the road whenever they like. The scenery transitions from vast open fields to enchanting forests to quaint villages so it is endlessly interesting. There are plenty of cattle grids to watch out for and a handful of busy junctions but other than that it is a smooth ride on very quiet winding roads.

    For me, the route was not flat at all. For those on advanced £10,000 bikes it probably felt like a piece of cake, but struggling up 25% gradients on my little Boardman was no mean feat at all! This is definitely a ride for advanced riders only and you really have to have the stamina, endurance, fitness, and strength to manage it. I am in good shape and I have the advantage of youth on my side, and I found it super tough. That said, there were grey-haired gentlemen steaming past me the entire time so I think so long as you are a serious cyclist who is used to long rides you'll be okay!

    Garmin Ride Out Statistics

    Garmin Ride out Elevation


    The Ride is an annual event organised by Garmin so it is very well done. Riders set off in groups of around 20 and each group rides with one of the pros. This gives you the chance to chat to your cycling hero and really feel like you're part of the professional team, if only for a day. The mini-expo at the start provides everything you could need for the event from free bike servicing to food and drink and indoor toilets. The route is sign posted well and fellow cyclists are easy to spot in their matching Garmin jerseys in case you do think you've taken a wrong turn. 

    There is a rest stop half way (at 25 miles) with a handful of portaloos and food and drink available in the local village hall. There are motorcycle marshalls circulating the route, but there are not many pedestrian marshalls along the way. To be honest, as all the participants are serious cyclists, this isn't necessary anyway so it's fine. 

    Garmin Ride Out 2017 Edge 1030 Bike Computer Road Bike Handlebars

    I was invited to take part in this ride by Garmin to test out the new Edge 1030 bike computer. I will be writing a full review of the device once I have thoroughly tested it, but after using it on this ride I am already very impressed. The tech team from Garmin kindly loaded the route onto the device for me which meant I definitely had no chance of getting lost, and it meant I could see any sharp bends coming in advance which was handy, especially when speeding downhill. 

    The Garmin Ride Out is a truly unique experience and is totally unlike any other casual sportif you may take part in. You need to be confident on a bike to take part and the route is definitely not for the faint hearted. If you're a keen cyclist who wishes to meet and ride with your favourite professional cyclists, then this is an event not to be missed!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren