2007 Race Story

Notes > Official reports > 2007 Race Story

by Dick Kearn

2007 Race Story

The official report of the 2007 GUCR

This year competitor reports are, more or less, in chronological order straight from Jan’s race log (rather than the usual listing of retirements in distance order).  The mileage each runner covered is shown in brackets.  Excerpts from Jan’s log are in CAPITALS while my additions are in Italic text.  Regular readers will know not to take all this too seriously, first-timers should be aware that no offence is intended.

GUCR 2007 Race Log Friday
17:00  Snail plus dicK, Phil and Amy departed.
20:00 Photographer Andrew Denny (www.grannybuttons.com) called for anticipated arrival times.
20:30 Mark Reynolds called - cannot run - (problem with legs) - I can’t decide if he sounded pissed-off or just pissed.

GUCR 2007 Race Log Saturday
08:20 Keith Burness unable to make Start as wife slipped in shower and had to be taken to hospital with dislocated shoulder. Ouch!
I called Ross to up-date list of starters and inform that Jeremy is unsupported.
I called Daf with shopping list - more Jaffa cakes and mini Mars Bars.
12:25 No719 was last thru Hatton. Should Ross wait for the Shares?  DICK says OK to go as Shares are supported.
Trevor Leigh 13:45 (36) stopped at the Birdingbury Bridge Checkpoint.  A thigh muscle had been giving trouble for some miles so he decided to join his crew and continue in support of his mate Barry Mason.
14:00 Call from Angela - could hear her saying “it’s not ringing,” but nothing else.  Called her back - everyone ready at Weedon.
14:45 Called Jonathan at Weedon because forgot to tell others Jeremy unsupported.  Told him Steve Pope expected first.
15:10 Tim Holsgrove first at Weedon ref Jonathan.  Web page updated.
15:35 Simon called to see if shopping required before going to Navigation.
Wayne Simpson 19:05 (50)  Simo had earlier dropped in at the Ship Inn near Birdingbury Bridge for sausage and chips and a swift half of Guinness.  Well, you wouldn’t want a little trot to stand in the way of your usual routine would you?
19:10 Alan Kiff called - in place at Bridge 99
Jon and Denise Whyte 19:15 (48) were so certain that they would be at the back of the field they had prepared predicted checkpoint arrival times, so our crews knew how long they might have to wait.  How thoughtful is that?  They stopped at the New Inn, Buckby.  Ross first collected their bags from Weedon before driving Mr and Mrs Whyte to a hotel in Coventry.  There was a “major event” locally so no rooms were available nearer. 
19:30 I phoned Amy to check if Whytes’ transport arranged.  Ross has gone to collect.
Mark Wittering 19:55 (70) had not been well and missed some training in the build up to this race – but when you are a GUCR regular, you have to give it a bash don’t you?
Lawrence Cullinane 20:00 (50) had been limping along with a sprained ankle.  On closing the HoE checkpoint, Jonathan gave him lift to Navigation from where he became part of the fixtures in the Snail.
Angie & Kelly Share 20:25 (40) stopped at Br104 Lower Shuckborough.  Kelly was suffering an Achilles problem.  The mother and daughter pair had gone astray before the first check at CdeB and had slipped well back.  Their supporters kindly agreed to report the times of arrival at CPs so that our crews were not delayed unduly - many thanks to them for that.
Rod Palmer 20:25 (62.5).  Margo reported Rod as “cold, wet, tired and had enough” at the north end of Blisworth Tunnel.  The cold rain was possibly a shock to his well bronzed body after its recent return from yet another holiday.
Jackson Griffith 20:32 (65).  An Achilles problem caused Jackson’s retirement at Stoke Bruerne.  He has family living nearby and they were able to collect him and take him on to Navigation to gather his kit bags.
Paul Blackburn 20:40 (62) reported himself to be shaking with cold, but now sitting in nice warm car at Blisworth.  Many of the rest of us would have liked to do the same.
20:45 I phoned Simon to notify of retirements.  He didn’t have an up to date list of starters!   I assumed he had, as he’s with A-Team.  Arranged to call him back when he’d found a dry place to sit and write amendments.
Around this time Simon reported the phantom retirement of Stuart Shipley who was thought to have returned to the check having gone on beyond Navigation Bridge.  (We now think this may have been Steve Pope see 08:35 Sun.)  I should point out here that Simon was doing a great job.  Because I had cocked up, the CP was understaffed so, with the weather awful, runners dropping like flies and an ambulance being called, it was all too easy to mis-read a number.  Not only that, but Simon was finding, as were other crews, that the bubble-jet printing on their sheets was not waterproof.
Ron and Spencer Summers 22:10 (70).  Simon reported that father and son had stopped at Navigation because Spence had a torn muscle.  (Bit of a surprise – we didn’t know he had one).  Simon added that Ron had stopped to be with him “just like Lassie really”.  Jan later received a call from Ron saying that Spence had torn a muscle in his groin and could only ‘walk’ on all fours.  Apparently Glyn Marston had been their transport to MK station, but after he left they found there were no trains for Brum.  They were forced to hire a taxi for the 200yd trip to the Travelodge.
David Lock 22:51 (70) was reported retired at Navigation Bridge, “No other details available.”  At 23:55 David himself called Jan to confirm that he had been under Amy’s care but was OK now!  I think this must mean that he was the other fainter in the lorry.
23:20 DICK phoned for Paul Taylor’s contact details - ambulance called to Navigation!
Paul Taylor 23:20 (70).  I guess you can safely say your race is over when the race organiser is calling HQ home to get your home address and contact numbers because he’s just called an ambulance to take you to hospital.  When the paramedic arrived she said, “We have it down that he’s run 70 miles – seven zero?”  I said “Yes, that’s right.  He’s nearly half way there.”   Her face was a picture.
Phil and Daf followed Paul’s meat van to MK because no one was allowed in.  Phil nearly died laughing when they unloaded at the hospital as they dropped the patient, who then had to stand ankle deep in a puddle.  Had we known that all we needed to do was push him off a table into a puddle, Paul’s recovery would have been effected much sooner.
Hallam Smallpiece 23:27 (69) reported his own retirement “one mile short of Navigation”.  Jan’s note goes on “hips, legs etc hurting, but in nice warm car now – he’s full of thanks for all involved.”  Nice to know that, even at the lowest point, we are appreciated.
Midnight.  I phoned Penny Elliott at GJA to up-date list - 58 still in.  Expecting first runner soon.

GUCR 2007 Race Log Sunday
Steve Suttle 00:41 (90.5) is listed as retired “absolutely knackered” at Tesco Leighton Buzzard.  Steve does not come to a race just to finish and was not prepared to walk the 55 miles from there to Paddington.  He will concentrate on the Comrades Marathon next year but reckons to be back to GUCR sometime, to lay the ghost.
Sean Burke 00:45 (84.5) arrived cold and wet at the Bridge 99 check.  Finding a gas lantern nicely warming the trailer he settled there rather than put himself back at the mercy of the elements.
Christian Cullinane 00:51 (63) called Dick for directions from Blisworth tunnel road to Stoke Bruerne, because he could not find the gate where the route returns to the canal. (The route description will be improved in future.)  He was told that being so far from Navigation at that time, there would be no chance of making the cut-off.  The Snail, with brother Lawrence aboard, went to collect him at Blisworth Hill Farm from which point he too became a fixture until finally being discharged at Paddington Station.
Jeremy Bolam and Danny Dawson 01:03 (70).  Having arrived just outside the cut-off time these two spared Simon the agony/deprived Simon of the pleasure (given the awful weather conditions, I leave the reader to guess which is more appropriate) of withdrawing them from the race, by graciously announcing that this was far enough for them.  Despite his high race number (see Jason French’s entry) Jeremy was an unsupported runner and so joined Dave Lock in Henk’s car for a lift to London.  Danny Dawson has a GUCR claim to fame - he is the only entrant to hand deliver his entry form to my letterbox.
At this point there were still two names unaccounted for on Simon’s list.  A call to Jess confirmed that Pete Chandler had passed through the check much earlier, but there was no response from the other runner’s given mobile number.  Time for a bit of worrying.
Barry Mason 01:35 (75.8) was reported retired at The Proud Perch by his team-mate Trevor, who had himself stopped earlier near the Ship Inn.  No reason is listed in the log, but given the historic website images of these two - pint and burger in hand - at the Heart of England, perhaps they just have difficulty passing pubs.
David Sawyer 01:30 (80.4).  (Yes we know this time is before Barry’s note, but the message was left while Jan was talking to Trevor.)  Crew message says David has retired at Pear Tree Bridge No 88 “sickness” being the reason.
Mark Winder 01:49 (70).  Mark was the other unlisted runner we had tried to contact from Navigation Bridge.  He had not responded to our attempts to call as the phone he was using was not turned on!  Mark is already planning another attempt next time.
01:55 I phoned Anthony to up-date list.  Amy is there and asked Anthony to let me know that her battery (phone I think) is flat.
With Mark safely in the Snail all unsupporteds were now accounted for.  The lorry and crew went ahead to GJA for some rest while the Snail moved up to Bridge 99 for a social call and some of the same.  Alan, Anthony, Henk and Kevin were doing sterling service here, despite the generator refusing to run for any length of time. 
Graham Baker 02:45 (84.5) called Jan from the Bridge 99 Checkpoint to give ‘blisters’ as his reason for stopping.  He also said that he could sort a lift with Dick, who was now at the check.  I have no recollection of what happened to Graham beyond this point but I sincerely hope he is home by now.
03:25  D.T.  a resident of Leighton Buzzard ‘wants race stopped now’ – is being woken by his dogs barking when runners pass.  I explained it would be very difficult to contact everybody to stop the race – he said he’d do it.  
After further moaning from D. T., Jan excused herself from the ‘conversation’ by promising to get the event organiser to call.  I was similarly treated to a 5 minute tirade that included questions like “Why run at night?“ and “Why have lights?”  The happy boater also threatened to “belt the next one to come along” and to “shove any others in the cut”.  Apparently his dog could not cope with runners “looking like aliens” wearing headlights.  I did my best to explain that being 145 miles long meant there had to be night running and that with so many obstructions on the path, having a light was probably a good idea.  He was having none of it and insisted I stop the race.  When I explained that this was impossible he said, “This is utterly ridiculous, at 3:45am I should be asleep.”  I said, “If you shut your bloody dog up, you could be.”  Our chat ended.
About 10 minutes later he called back.  He demanded my address so that his solicitor could be in touch.  I gave him the address and the names of three BW contacts involved with granting permits.  I also gave my UK:A permit number and explained that people come from as far as America and Australia to take part.  For good measure I threw in that in the previous twelve years there had not been a similar complaint.  To the accompaniment of barking, his final shot was, “I’m going to call you every ten minutes so you don’t sleep either.”  My response was that, as I was not expecting to sleep until Monday morning, I was not bothered.  [For the record, I have heard nothing since.  Also, should Mr T. be reading this on t’internet - I am genuinely sorry that your ‘special family weekend’ was ruined.  If you would like to contact me, I can give contact details for both anger management and dog obedience classes, which I’m sure would be of benefit.]
Tim Walls 03:40 (84.5) called Jan from the Bridge 99 checkpoint at Water Eaton to say that “the balls of my feet feel like needles”, which sounds fairly uncomfortable - in fact he took extra days off work to recover.  Tim has since reported that he has every intention of having another stab at this race.
Hugh Hunter 03:59 (94.3) had come further than most to take part, having flown in from Germany.  With ‘sore feet’ and ‘very cold’ his crew recorded his race over at Slapton Lock Bridge.
Andy Smith 05:40 (90.5) should, as a member of the England Ultra team support, know better than to start a race suffering illness.  I am sure he would have advised any member of the squad not to start, but it is quite satisfying to know that he is just as daft as the rest of us when it comes to his own wellbeing.  Very cold, at Tesco L.B. were logged by Sue Goodwin as the reason for and site of his withdrawal.
During this early morning period Jan made a series of calls to the GJA and Bridge 99 crews.  Her notes illustrate why we ask all runners to report their retirements to the home number.  My interpretation of what may have happened follows later, after Steve Pope’s entry.
05:45 Called Penny (at GJA) to update her list – she says 11 runners through.  She asked about Steve Pope since Ian Clarke (bag transport) had told her he’d retired.  I said I had no info so not to cross him off until I can confirm.
06:38 Stuart Shipley has not retired. (ref Susanne at GJA) – Simon had declared him out at Nav. Bridge at 9ish Sat eve.
06:48 Alan Kiff called – Kim Johnston, tail-ender is thru Br99 so closing CP.
07:13 Daf (Runner and bag transport) called ex Br99 - has just woken up - nobody there!  I told him that Alan had closed CP about half an hour ago.  Daf remembers someone knocking on the window but didn’t realise what they meant.  He has some bags – should he take them to GJA?  I said yes.
07:31 Celia, Michael and Lyn at Springwell, they have brought a big gazebo to add shelter.  The chemical loo has been left there. Ref DICK- he’s now going on to Hamborough.  He hasn’t heard from Steve Pope either.
07:33 I phoned Ian Clarke to ask about Steve  – he said Steve’s crew told him at Br99 that he had retired, but Ian still expected them to have called me – they haven’t.  I will try his home contact details.  Left messages on two numbers.
Niall Dinwoodie 08:06 (100) called Jan with news of his retirement at GJA.  He told her that he’d wait there for a lift with someone.  Again I have no recollection of what happened to Niall after that, but I’m sure we would have heard by now if he’s still waiting.
08:22  DICK request to call Tim’s crew to find out if Tim has passed Hamborough.  They say he will be there in approx 30 mins, they should be there in 10.  DICK will leave Henk at CP while he delivers passengers to Paddington.
08:30 I called Celia at Springwell to update list.  Big news - Kearn’s Chemikahzi has been used for first time!
Steve Pope 08:35 (70+).  Penny Sadler called to confirm that Steve had stopped at the ‘Bridge 99’ check and that they’d reported this to the CP crew at the time.  His actual time of retirement would be between 18:38 and 21:00 on Saturday (at Navigation Bridge).
OK, we screwed up here.  I reckon that Steve probably went beyond the Navigation Bridge check and then returned to it while Stuart Shipley was on site.  Reading through the log and CP timings I think No 712 (Steve’s) retirement was logged as No715 (Stuart).  Steve’s ‘crew’ did report to Simon at Navigation - ref a note on his sheet, but not Jan, as requested pre-race.  Despite the references in phone conversations, there is no record of Steve reaching the Bridge 99 check, so I think perhaps there has been confusion caused by people saying ‘the checkpoint at/on the bridge’ or reference to the ‘previous’ checkpoint.
You could be forgiven for wondering why Jan did not simply call Steve’s crew.  The thing is that, according to our pre-race info, he was unsupported and thus did not give a crew contact number, nor was he to carry a mobile.
It may well be that I was told of changes on or before the day and simply forgot.  I am certainly not aiming to blame anybody.  We will have a better arrangement at Navigation Bridge next year. 
Garry Player 08:40 (100) was able to call Jan from the GJA site to report that although his legs were OK, his feet were too badly blistered to go on.  Having run further than ever before, he was not too sad to be pulling out.
09:40 I phoned Henk to up-date.  He confirmed Tim first through at 08:59.  I phoned DICK at L.V. to let him know and update list.
Having dropped my passengers at the station I could not resist the urge to pop up to the Finish for a recce.  At the roundabout under the Westway I happened upon the HQ lorry so we all arrived at Delamere Terrace together.  As Alan Kiff was on his way from Bridge 99 to join Henk and Amy and Glyn would be coming from Springwell to assist him, I decided to take it easy and stay at L.V. to await our winner.
10:22  736 Kim Johnston called, at 95 miles.  Will retire at GJA - hopes to be there by 12:00 cut-off.  I called Penny - she assures that there will be somebody waiting.
Tom Boother 10:17 (102) did not need to rely on our transport as his father was able to collect him.  Tom was very disappointed to pull out having come so far but another case of blistered feet was enough to stop him going on.
11:06 Henk called hoping I’d tell him that everybody else had retired.  I had to disappoint him.  He has had 5 thru’ his CP.
Tim Holsgrove 11:39 (145) made it all look quite easy as he arrived at the Finish having led for two thirds of the race.  Tim stormed into little Venice with a total time of 29:39 to be the second youngest finisher, but the youngest ever winner.
Paul Loxton 12:05 (100) was reported as retired by Penny Elliott of the GJA crew.  Paul had his own lift so was another not to bother our transport.
Kim Johnston 12:05 (100) had thoughtfully called when at 95 miles, to let us know that although he hoped to make the checkpoint closing time, he would be stopping at GJA anyway.  He arrived while Penny was confirming Paul’s withdrawal.
Mark Pierce 12:50 (115) called from the comfort of Compton Harrier Martin Fray’s car at Bridge 165 above Cassiobury Locks.  They would wait there for Lucy Gettins, who Martin was supporting, before going on to Springwell where Mark could be re-united with his kit-bags.  Jan’s note says, ‘his hips have seized up’ (i.e. Mark’s not Martin’s!)
Kathy Hearn 12:55 (112) reported directly to Dick that she would not be finishing this year.  After a brief discussion regarding her exact whereabouts in Kings Langley (during which it was revealed that Kathy did not have the GEOprojects maps with her!)  Daf was despatched from Springwell with her bags.  Kathy had friends in locally and required no onward transport.
Stuart Gillet 13:08 (145) became the European record holder for the Yukon Arctic 320mile Ultra in 2006.  I guess it being a bit chilly this weekend did not bother him too much then.  First of our unsupporteds and second overall is another good performance.
13:20 Glyn phoned, he is going straight home because of car troubles.  Amy is stranded at HAMBOROUGH.
In fact Glyn had first stopped between Springwell and HAMBOROUGH.  He coaxed the car to Southall but then found that his insured recovery was only within 10 miles of his home (Crewe).  He was told that if he paid extra premium he would then be eligible for home recovery so he coaxed the car on to L.V. and then called to be collected.  The recovery truck arrived before we left Paddington, but left without Glyn and the car because it was booked only for a 10 mile pick up.  Another truck eventually arrived, but this could only go as far as Northampton services.  On reaching the services Glyn was told that there would be a two hour wait before another vehicle could take him to Coventry where, after another wait, a different vehicle would make the final lift home.  On hearing this, Glyn threw a monumental wobbly which thankfully resulted in a courtesy car.  Despite these hardships, the irrepressible Mr Marston is up for more.
Vicky Skelton 13:25 (145) first endeared herself to me by not toeing the England Ultra Team training line, a few years back.  She has been promising to have a good bash at this race for some time and didn’t disappoint.  First lady in a new event record time of 31:25 was especially pleasing.  Her training program and race advice, for the brave to emulate, will be available on the website before long.
13:26 Daf phoned - has found Kathy and left her with bags.  Should he go back to Springwell or in to town?  I advised Springwell probably best at this stage.
Pat Robbins 13:46 (145) came to GUCR 2007 introducing himself as a relative new boy to running (4 years) and an ultra virgin.  With only the marathon distance under his belt, this was a very big step into the wonderful world of ultra.  He is justifiably pleased with his achievement and we are pleased that he found ‘our’ world friendly and enjoyable.
Stuart Fowlie 14:26 (121.5) called from the site of the detour at Mount Pleasant reporting “major problems” as his reason to stop.  I’ve had a word with the Army top brass and they’ve assured me that there will be no repeat.  Stuart had clothes and a drink with him and a crew on its way, so required no assistance from us.
Brian Davidson 15:05 (145) is another who has been promising to have a go for many years.  He and I have a long history of chasing each other about on the trails since we met, on the fabled SDW, more years ago than I care to remember.  Despite my ribbing Brian wisely waited until he was able to get some decent training in before giving it a go.  Being a friend, it was jolly decent of him to finish just outside my time so that I wasn’t too upset.  (It still rankles that he’s quicker on the WHW though!)
15:15 Susanne called in to drop off CP stuff.
15:20 Henk phoned for latest drop-outs.
Harley Inder 15:39 (145) was one of the competitors whose finish Jan and I recorded at last year’s Thames Meander (5th - 8:37).  I remember it being in a nice warm dry sports pavilion.  I think Jan was probably warm and dry when Harley finished this one, but I know someone who wasn’t.
16:04 Celia phoned to see who was last thru’ GJA and what time.  Able to check on Susanne’s list.  Still waiting for Sue Clements and Rainer.
Rainer Satzinger 16:11 (115) was disappointed at having come so far not to finish.  “I’m done,” are the words recorded in the race log.  He enjoyed his race, but realised he was going “a little too slow on Sunday afternoon”.  He knows he can do better and is keen for a place to have another bash next year.
16:25 I Phoned dicK to ask if someone needs to fetch trailer ex Springwell.  Yes, Diccon will go with Phil in Snail.
Jason French 16:14 (145) was, through an administrative error on my part, blessed with an ‘unsupported’ race number.  (I think Jason’s J became Jeremy’s J in my simple mind.)  This meant that at each checkpoint he was ‘accused’ of having a crew - which probably became quite tiresome.  Despite this irritation he held it all together for an excellent result.  His race account will be on the website soon.
16:40 Somebody phoned to ask where Finish is - wants to catch up with mate who’s running.  No names given.
Mark Cockbain 16:44 (145) must be very popular in long-running circles.  It certainly seems that way when so many runners and crews ask, “Is Mark in yet?” upon arrival at the Finish.  It’s probably on account of his charm and personality, but, of course, it could just be that with so many Marks in the field, everybody must know at least one.
Stuart Shipley 17:43 (145) was surprised, given the conditions, to reach L.V. in a new PB.  He came close to getting a bigger shock when, after a sit down to recuperate, he stood up and then fainted.  Had it not been for support from one of Scott Hamers’ crew we’d have had our first man overboard!  Stuart kindly provided me with GPS checkpoint distances after his race last year.  His total is 1.4 miles longer than the official 145.4 canal miles given by British Waterways in 1993.  The GEOprojects map states the towpath to be 147 miles from L.V. to Gas Street Basin which is pretty close to Stuart’s figure, but I’m afraid we’ll be sticking with 145 for the foreseeable future.
Karen Rowntree 17:56 (145) only did it for a medal.  I was under threat if we didn’t give a decent medal, as she was not impressed by ‘finishers receive a memento’ in the pre-race blurb.  It seems the hours spent drilling, grinding and polishing the ‘bridge plates’ were well spent as I live to tell the tale.  In truth, Karen really did it to raise a small fortune for charity – probably the best reason.
Mike Smith 18:14 (145) had a face as long as a wet weekend in Blackpool on him, as he crossed the Finish line.  Stopping barely long enough for a medal to be hung, he walked straight to his car and was gone.  It turns out not to have been something I’d said, but an understandable urge to get somewhere warm and dry.  Although you wouldn’t think so looking at the photo, he was very pleased to finish, honest.
18:15 I phoned Springwell for news of Sue.  Her crew expect her at 18:40.   Advised Diccon and Phil that they might as well take trailer.  dicK says Springwell crew can leave at 19:00 (CP closing time) even if Sue not arrived, as she is supported.
Peter Chandler 18:17 (145) made a five and a half hour improvement on last year’s time.  Judging by the pictures in Jess’s 2006 photo dairy, he suffered a bit on the way but was very happy to reach the end.  This year’s pics tell much the same story, but with such a big improvement and a load more raised for charity, there’s even more reason to be happy.
John Poole 19:00 (145) has been a regular canalrunner since 2002.  We try to identify our runners by name (easier this year with names on numbers) but some of our crews do not see them enough to achieve this.  In John’s case, in chat between helpers, we can narrow the choice to one of two because they’re always referred to as ‘that pair who are always nice and cheerful’.  He had good reason to be cheerful - a new PB.
Andy Ives 19:12 (145) was prevented from running last year by a falsely diagnosed heart condition.  Had it not been for that he would now hold the record for the most GUCR starts - instead he shares it with Anthony Taylor.  I don’t suppose that Andy is remotely concerned about this piece of trivia, but I know for a fact he is pleased that, after all these years, he is another to knock out a GUCR PB.
Ed Milbourne 19:14 (145) when he finished last year, sort of gave the impression that once would probably be enough.  It obviously wasn’t as he returned this time to knock a massive eight hours or so off his finish time.  The same improvement in 2008 would have him well in contention.  Go for it Ed!
19:15  Sue’s crew report that she left Springwell at 18:52.  Relayed to Henk.
Mark Ball 19:18 (126.4) was forced to give up the fight at Bridge 186 in Uxbridge.  “His feet are stripped and both ankles are swollen”, reported the crew.  This was a 46 mile improvement on last year so we can expect a finish next time.
Alicija Barahona 19:34 (145) has a very well deserved reputation for competing in and completing, the world’s toughest races.  Her enviable ability to keep going in the most extreme conditions has frequently resulted in first overall finishes.   Despite not being at her best as a result of a recurrent stomach problem, she could not resist popping over from America to complete her annual survey of our canal-side wildlife.  It took a little longer than she would have liked to count all those birds this year.
Sue Clements 19:55 (123) called out “Sorry Dick” from the background as her crew called in to report her race over.  Of course there was no need for the apology, but it was a sad end to her trip this year.  As for many others, the cold rain had taken its toll.  Not to be defeated, Sue is up for more of the same next year and has offered to share her wealth of experience (23 events of 100+ miles) via the GUCR site soon.
Susan Bateman and Bob Brown 20:01 (145) have achieved something new for the GUCR.  In the past the only family members finishing have been brothers-in-law Gary Barnes and Ray Willett.  This year we had mother and daughter, father and son, two brothers and husband and wife pairings set off from Gas Street.  All these others were not able to make the full trip leaving this brother and sister duo to claim a first.
Carl Sommer 20:08 (145) had a trial run at the canal race last year.  Then, his outing finished at a point just south of Milton Keynes.  That recce obviously did the trick as there was no DNF this time.
20:10 Henk finished at HAMBOROUGH - on way to L.V.
Mark Wheatley 20:11 (145) only just made it onto the entry list for this year, having spent a while as number two on the ‘waiting list’.  Sufficient early applicants withdrew in time for him to take a place.  Mark made very good use of the opportunity.
Scott Hamer 20:52 (145) could be forgiven for thinking that he was suffering hallucinations as he approached the Finish accompanied by his crew.  Apparently he could see a bar, complete with drinks and a waiter in white suite.  The really strange thing is that we could all see it too.  I can find no record of a group hallucination occurring before, so will have to conclude that Scott has some great mates who are game for a laugh.
Ernie Jewson 21:04 (145) has decided already that he will take a rest from running this race in 2008.  He doesn’t want to be too far removed from the goings on, so, like several others have done in the past, he intends to be there as either supporter or crew.  I hope he enjoys the experience on the other side.
Fiona Cameron 22:27 (145) was not especially interested in medals or photos at the Finish.  She just wanted somewhere warm and dry.  Both these adjectives had become unfamiliar to me by this time, but I suggested the B W ladies’ loo as nearest to fitting the bill, it being dry, at least.  Next year we will have a heater installed there in case of a similar request.
Andrew Smith and Stephen Clark 22:30 (139).  Well, we could write a book on what these two got up to.  Here are the highlights.  Dick received call, the conversation went, “We’re very cold and moving too slowly to go on.  Can you send a car?”  “OK, no problem.  Where are you?”  “We’ve stopped under a bridge for shelter.”  “Where is the bridge?”  “It’s a bridge near the canal....”  At this point their remaining phone went dead - Andrew had dropped the other in the canal back at Weedon!  I now had a problem, but was powerless to do anything other than organise transport and wait for another call.  The call eventually came from a householder’s phone and, having recognised the road name from last year’s route diversion, Henk and Daf were despatched.  I called the householder to thank him, but was further confused when he said that one of the runners was going to hospital and the other two were still out in the road.  To cut the story even shorter, by the time Daf and Henk arrived, Steve was already on his way to hospital with a friend (the third person, who had come to buddy) also in the ambulance.  Steve had hypothermia as a result of the slow pace dictated by an infection and broken bone in his foot.  He is fine now (at least until Andrew gets hold of him) and is known as 10k, because that’s how far he was from finishing.
For staying with his pal when he could easily have finished, Andrew is the first recipient of The GUCR Seal of Approval Medal.  This is based on the Canal Company seal and is intended to become an annual award, given to any runner, supporter or crew member judged to have done most to uphold the ‘spirit’ of trail running.
Javed Bhatti 23:00 (145) ‘picked up a tendon pull’ on the Saturday which delayed his progress for the rest of the weekend.  He intends to return next year and reach L.V. inside a target time of 35 hours.  My advice for him then is to leave tendon pulls wherever he finds them.
Ryan Spencer 23:02 (145) did his best to confuse our timekeepers by decking out his crew with reproductions of his race number.  There were sightings of number 765 reaching and leaving checkpoints from all directions.  Thankfully there was no confusion at L.V. when Emily recorded his finish.
23:10 DICK phoned to explain problem - someone with hypothermia.  Henk and Daf gone to sort it out - still not sure what’s going on.
Brian New 23:30 (145) although understandably pleased to finish back in 2005, was slightly uneasy, I feel, with being last home.  Not in the field last year, he returned this time to take nearly two hours off his time and finish well up the pack.
Lucy Gettins 23:40 (145) brought a little ray of sunshine to the gloom at L.V.  Well known for her ability to smile however difficult the circumstance, Lucy’s grin on crossing the line was well worth waiting for.  There was never any doubt that ‘our Lucy’ would make it all the way, but I was especially relieved and delighted to hang a medal on a fellow Compton Harrier for the first time.
Joan Clarke 23:45 (145) is no stranger to GUCR activity.  After a DNF in 2000 she became part of our crew for a couple of years before finishing as ‘tail-end Charlie’ in 2003.  More years of crewing followed, involving many long hours spent peering up the towpath and talking b*ll*cks (a technical term for conversation between weary helpers).  During that time we all knew that Joan was planning a ‘proper’ GUCR finish so it was very heart-warming to see our friend achieve her goal.
Jonathan Chandley 23:48 (145) should have received a warm welcome at L.V. from his sister and niece.  Sadly our inadequate facilities were little defence against the cold weather and his welcome party was forced to retire home before Uncle Jon could have his hug.  He had to make do with a medal from me instead.
23:50 Daf phoned - Andrew and Steve out.  One’s in hospital and one’s not.  One not in hospital is with family.  daf’s not sure which is which.

Jim Burn 00:10 (145) was having his blisters tended in the lorry on Navigation Bridge when Amy had to abandon him in favour of the two fainters.  He was not quite tossed thoughtlessly back into the fray, at least we managed some food and drink for him, but the lack of care may have affected his performance from there on.  Thankfully he was able to go all the way, and bears us no grudge.  In fact he’s even up for a bit of crewing next time - some people just like to suffer.
Ian Couch 00:12 (145) phoned Jan at 23:35 to say that he’d reached the end but couldn’t find the Finish.  Jan asked for his phone number (he didn’t know it), but promised she could look it up and would get me to talk to him.  I was able to convince him that, as he had passed HAMBOROUGH with the canal on his left and the canal was still on his left, he only had a bit more of the same to do.  I promised that we would not miss his arrival.  He did a bit more, we did not miss him.
Pete Johnson 00:53 (145) is the other half of ‘that pair who are always nice and cheerful’.  It has to be said that Pete was not quite at his cheery best at the Finish.  This was not his fastest run by a good margin, but it was another successful completion.  In fact, it was his fifth consecutive finish from five starts.  That’s a very impressive history by anyone’s reckoning.
Mark Beagley 00:56 (145) was kind enough to drop us a note of thanks.  He signed it ‘Last, but very happy, Finisher‘.  We are very happy that Mark is happy.  We are always happy to see runners reach the Finish, but I have to admit that, given how cold and wet we all were, we were a bit happier than usual to see Mark’s finish.  Not only were we able to pack up and head for home, but we were doing it a good two hours ahead of cut-off.  We were very happy indeed.
01:10 Last two runners in.  I’ve been told I can go to bed!
With that the race was pretty much over.  At L.V. everyone was so keen to get out of the rain that the kit was ‘packed’ in record time.  Poor Glyn was left to await his next tow truck while the rest dispersed into various vehicles to make their way home in dreadful weather.  As far as we know everyone made it without incident though Ross, who had wisely opted to stay in town with friends, was mortified in the morning to find the window of Jan’s car broken.  Well, this was the thirteenth.

The GUCR 2007 was held with the kind permission of British Waterways and the Trail Running Association
Whilst we love having a weekend on the canal and it’s brilliant seeing runners reach the Finish, without doubt the best part of this caper is knowing that, through everyone’s efforts, at least £10,000 has been raised for a variety of charities.
A big thank you to you all.