person running near street between tall trees

Virtual Challenges – #teamrularuns

#Planb Act 3

I was contacted through Instagram by Find A Race asking if I wanted to put a team together to take part in their virtual challenge #Planb Act 3. They said that they would gift me my place and then give me a code to share for my followers to join my team.

I was just finishing up the Runr Miles For Mile challenge and was wondering what I was going to do to keep myself motivated throughout June. So I looked into Find A Race a bit more. I could choose from various distances and had 30 days for my ‘team’ to complete our selected distance.

The entry fee for Find A Race Virtual Run does donate money to Alzheimer’s but I was unsure which if my followers this would appeal too. I replied to the email saying I would love to take part and set the challenge distance to 100KM. I was pretty confident that I could achieve that solo.

So #teamrularuns was set up and I shared the code on my Instagram and Facebook Page. Suddenly I got an email saying I had a teammate. Then another email and another. It was SO exciting. I loved receiving that email. I then decided to make a team chat on Instagram and to my surprise #teamrularuns took off.

Ruth running

Each time we ran, we uploaded proof to the Find A Race website. Our challenge page had a leaderboard and a section to show us our progress. We were only 2 days in and we had to increase our challenge distance to 500KM.

Then more people joined, we were all super motivated and we rapidly approached the 500km target too. We spent an evening on the chat deciding whether we should go for the highest total of 2500KM in the 30 days. We had a large team, but my concern was that I didn’t want people to feel under pressure to run. It was a fun challenge after all. But the team decided to go for it. So the new distance was the target!

We were banking miles very quickly at the start of the challenge and then the progress bar didn’t seem to move. I started to feel a little apprehensive. Then we spotted that there was a glitch with the website and our totals were not adding to the overall progress. I was so relieved that it wasn’t that we had all just got lazy!

The company were excellent at trying to fix this issue and although it was frustrating and took a while to sort, it was nice when the bar finally shot up. With a week to go, I started to feel the pressure a little. I think we worked it out to be about 5k a day for everyone in the team. Although some loved this, I knew it wasn’t going to appeal to all.

FindaRace Leaderboard

Luckily I noticed that one of the team members hadn’t logged all of her miles (I knew she had been banking them as I saw her runs on Strava) Luckily, with her miles and then a late addition to the team we covered the 2500KM with a day to spare!

Having a challenging distance was great, but I actually think the Team element of it is what I enjoyed the most. Encouraging each other on and sharing our progress together was amazing.

Since taking part in this event, I have completed 2 other virtual challenges. The Virtual Race to the The Stones and Asics 10K. The Virtual Race to the Stones was brilliant, as it felt like most of the running community on Instagram (well the people I follow) took part. I only opted for the marathon distance in a week, but some people logged 100K in a week. WOW, just wow!

Virtual Race to the Stones

Kelly made a little VLOG about her week and I even feature at the end!

You could have paid an entry fee for this challenge and get a medal/t-shirt when completed. I am having to watch the pennies, so didn’t opt for this.

Virtual Asics 10K

I did, however, pay to enter the Virtual Asics 10K. I loved this race last year (read here) mainly due to loving running in London. Also, I knew a lot of people taking part. So why pay, when you couldn’t run in London? Well, at this year’s National Running Show, Sarah bought a lovely Notch Bracelet and showed it to me. Well, that was me sold. I love them, but yet again this stupid career change/break (whatever I am doing), means that I don’t have the spare cash to splash on the non-essentials so I didn’t get one.

When this race said that instead of a medal you get a Notch Bracelet, I was in. I think the entry price was half the price of buying a bracelet, so I couldn’t resist! Yes, I know it’s still not an essential, but I have to have a little treat now and again!

The 10K was geared more towards pushing for a fast time and featuring on the leaderboard. I didn’t really do that. My plan was to just cover the 10K and now waiting for the delivery of my Notch Bracelet!

Overall thoughts

When I shared my Medal Monday photo on Instagram, I asked people what there thoughts were on Virtual Events. Here are some of the responses I had.

I totally agree with the thoughts of same routes, still solo running etc, but I think making the chat group and being a team gave this challenge a whole different feel. Being part of a team really suits me (must be from my basketball days) so it motivated me as I didn’t want to let my team down. I think the Race to the Stones event, although solo felt better as it had a community feel with so many taking part. When it comes to Virtual RACES, I’m not sure I love that. I think I need people around me, spectators and the race atmosphere to push the pace!

Some of my teammates are keen to the Find A Race Challenge again, so keep your eyes peeled on my Social Media if you fancy joining in.

Have you taken part in a Virtual Race/Challenge? What are you thoughts on them? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

The Big Half Marathon 2020 – Race Recap

Half marathons seem to be like buses; You don’t take part in one for ages and then two come along in consecutive weeks. This is my third time taking part in the Vitality Big Half Marathon and to be honest, I have had shocking races for the last two (read here) But, as I always say, there is something special about running around the streets of London.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

It was another early alarm clock and I was close to sacking this race off on Saturday night. Being at my mum’s all day, helping to arrange funeral details, I had not eaten too well, I had drunk a fair bit of tea, but hardly any water. I had cried a lot, so when I got home with a headache, sore throat and generally feeling rubbish, I wondered if it was a good idea.

I had hardly seen my husband and daughter all day and knew that this half marathon would mean that I was out for most of Sunday too! When I told my husband that I was thinking of not going and he responded with, ” Go and do it why you have the chance, you never know when you won’t be able to do these things.” So very true, so I went and got myself organised.

The weather has been so crazy that I didn’t know what to wear. I ended up sticking to the same as last week, mainly because it was at the top of my washing basket (Freshly washed!). My alarm was set for 5:10 am and I finally got into bed at 22:59!

Race Day

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

Myself, Dem and Naomi all travelled together. Dem drove us to Burnt Oak tube station and we got the tube to London Bridge. it was so bright as we got out of the station at London Bridge and the sky was blue. Yes, it was still VERY cold, but it was so nice not to have rain.

Although we left a similar time to previous years and the journey seemed to go smoothly, I felt a bit rushed as we approached Tower Bridge. We quickly sorted our bags and kit along the embankment. We only had about 15 minutes until the baggage trucks left, so we quickly made our way to drop off bags. Bag drop is well organised and very efficient, it is just always SO busy with people.

After dropping bags, you have to walk across Tower Bridge. The weather was amazing and London was looking pretty spectacular. The wind blew a bit on the bridge and I did wonder if I had kept enough layers on. I hadn’t kept a hat or buff over my ears and walking over the bridge made me think this could have been a mistake.

The Start

The start pens are immediately over Tower Bridge. I was supposed to be starting in wave D, but some of the people I was with were wave E. We decided to see if we could move back and they let us. We hadn’t seen any toilets near bag-drop. But I remembered there were some in the start pens, so waited until then.

Well, let’s just say that it is lucky that you have so long to wait until the start. The queues were HUGE. It didn’t help that the queues entwined with the people waiting for the race to start. It was a little confusing as to who was waiting. I think we may have queued for between 30-25 minutes. Our pen had started to make their way to the start line before we even used the toilet. Luckily, we knew that the start line was still a little walk from the starting pens, so didn’t panic and caught up.

A tip for anyone that runs this race; Do not discard you extra layers until you can see the start line. It’s a long walk to the start and they sometimes make you wait again until you start.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020
Startline smiles

The Race

Dem had completed a trail marathon the day before as you do. His son was running his first half marathon, so we decided to take it easy. This is a new concept for me. The previous two Big Half Marathons, I have set off WAY too fast. The tunnel that you go through goes on forever and it is pretty much downhill the whole way. This year there was a mist/dust towards the end of the tunnel that worried me a little. You soon realised how warm it was in the tunnel as the cold hit you when you came out.

Canary Wharf sneaks up on you pretty quickly and that is where your GPS goes crazy. I think my watch clocked 4 miles half a mile early. Considering how cold it was, the spectators around Canary Wharf were amazing. There were a lot of bands on the course too. I love the steel drums, they are just perfect to run too.

After leaving Canary Wharf you are just looking forward to Tower Bridge. The cobbles that come before the bridge are not so pleasant, but Tower Bridge never disappoints.

After Tower Bridge, there are quiet parts of the course. I felt pretty strong up until 10 miles, where I had to dig in. We took a water break during every water station. I knew I hadn’t hydrated well the previous day (or probably that morning too) so I needed to be sensible. I was also very hungry and looked forward to the Lucozade station around 8 miles.

We past Frank Bruno around mile 11 and then it was just about head down and getting it finished. Dem saw a friend around 12 and a half miles and stopped. I did think about carrying on as I thought that was the only way that I would beat him. But no, I stopped and waited. Only for him to leave me for dust in the final 600 metres!

I wanted to dig in and keep up with him. My legs and to be honest, my head just didn’t have it. The 26.2 miles the previous day had obviously been a good warm-up for him!! A win’s a win – well done Dem.

Official Big Half Marathon 2020

The finish line area is pretty special. The crowds are epic and finishing beside the Cutty Sark, especially in the sun is lovely. The queue to collect bags was not so lovely. I started to get cold, but that is the joy of taking part in a mass participation race.

A week break from racing and then Bath Half is on the 15th March. Did you race at the weekend?

Brighton Half Marathon Medals 2014-2020

Brighton Half Marathon 2020 Race Recap

Just to warn you, this race recap is probably going to be very different from my previous race reports, but here goes.

If you follow me on social media you will probably be aware that my mum died on the 15th of February. This was a complete shock to us all and I am currently still trying to process it all.

Both of us in Chicago back in 2019

My mum was my rock and the thought of her not being here anymore scares the hell out of me. I’m not sure how you go on, but I know you learn to cope. I learnt that when I lost my dad back in 2010. So why am I sharing this, in this post? Well, I have run the Brighton Half Marathon every year since 2014. (Read previous race reports here 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). I love this race, my mum even came with me back in 2016.


So deciding to even turn up for this race I was in complete turmoil. Who runs a half marathon the week after they lose a parent? What will everyone think? Will they think I have just moved on? Will I even be able to run it? What if I cry all the way around? Shouldn’t I be with my family?


There were so many things going through my head. Then I remembered something that my mum had said to me when we were in Chicago. We were having dinner and I was talking about running – like you do! It must have been so boring for her, but she said: “Ruth, don’t ever give up running as your face lights up whenever you talk about it.”

Remembering that, made up my mind, I was running it and I was running it for my mum. I kept questioning if this was sensible, especially when the weather forecast was predicting 45 mph gusts of wind. Part of me wanted the race organises to cancel it, as I knew that there was no way I was not going to show up. Well, they didn’t cancel it, so show up is exactly what I did!

The Start

It was a very early alarm as I was getting a lift down in the morning, which is different from normal as I usually stay over. I was surprised that the weather didn’t appear to be that bad, but it was early so who knew how bad it was going to get. The journey was fairly easy and we parked at my friend’s friends house and then he drove us into Brighton.

As we walked towards the start line, I did find myself get emotional. The wind on Maderia Drive was insane. It was VERY cold and I needed the toilet, so we went in search. We didn’t need the bag-drop and we saw a LONG queue for toilets but we had plenty of time so just joined it. After about a 5 minutes wait, other runners, shouted to say that there were more toilets further up the road, so we headed for them. I’m not sure we gained any time as the queues were still LOOOONG there too.

We made it to the starting pen with about 15 minutes to spare. I think a lot of people had decided not to travel as it didn’t seem as busy as it has been in previous years.

Standing in the pens was very cold and I couldn’t make up my mind when to remove layers, if at all. I had a long layer on, my MND vest, a long sleeve London Marathon rejection top (that I was planning to throw away) and another jumper on. A buff around my neck, a buff over my ears and a hat. Is this helping you to picture how cold I was feeling?

Let’s just say that I only removed the top jumper and the rest stayed on. There were sections when we were out of the wind that I considered discarding layers, but I knew that the last three miles along the promenade may make me regret that, so I didn’t!

Being completely vain, the only problem with all those layers and the silly hat meant that my race photos were shocking! Hehe 

The Race

Rularuns - Brighton Half Marathon 2020

Due to the high winds, the race organisers hadn’t been able to put up the start/finish gantry, so from the start pens, we couldn’t see how far away we were. We crossed the start line fairly quickly. I knew that there was a point just past the start line, where my mum had stood years back. I looked for her and the emotion started. But as I started to get lost in my own emotion, the gusts of wind started which took my mind off my own grief.

As we headed up and out towards the marina, all the runners looked drunk. The wind was blowing us all over the place. Luckily for us, the wind was behind us, helping push us up the hill.

The speedier runners were already on their way back down the hill and you could tell by their faces that were having to work hard running into the wind.

Usually turning at the top of the hill, knowing that you have downhill for a few miles is great. Well, the headwind made the downhill harder than the uphill. It was quite nice when we turned to run past the Brighton Pavillion as we were sheltered from the wind for a while.

Turning on to the Kings Road was crazy. The wind was so strong and blowing straight into our faces. The route changed slightly this year, with us running around Bedford Square and Grand Avenue; both were very welcome breaks from the headwind I would love to be able to share a route plan with you, but I managed to leave my Garmin on charge in my kitchen that morning!.

At one point running along the Kings Road, there was a break in the buildings. The wind blew so strong that it moved my leg, almost making me fall over. It was insane!

Turning at 10 miles with ‘just a parkrun’ to go, I was starting to flag. I walked a little but then the wind blew behind us. 3 miles with the wind pushing me felt far more appealing than a headwind.

Listening to the wave crashing against the sea wall was amazing. The sea was so ferocious that the waves spilt over on to the promenade. I had to stop and take it all in. It was then that running the race just felt fitting.

My mum loved the sea and once said to my Aunty, ‘When I am gone, I would like people to just walk along the beach and remember me’.

As I crossed the finish line, the tears came. I wasn’t sure if that was due to relief or sadness for my mum, but I found it hard to hold them back. Funny enough, as I crossed the line I tried to stop my Garmin, only to remember that I had left it on charge at home! It was probably one of my slowest times, but I really didn’t care, as this race was not about times.

My world has been turned upside down and I currently can’t think too far ahead. I have the Official Big Half this weekend, which I am currently planning to run. But beyond that who knows.

Also, I am in the process of changing the look of this blog; it’s helping me occupy my mind! So if things aren’t where you think they should be, please let me know. 

Raising awareness for MNDA

St. Neots Half Marathon – Race Recap

Race Information:

St. Neots Half Marathon Route.
  • Course: A figure of eight, undulating course, on the country roads on the outskirts of St Neots.
  • Elevation:
St. Neots Half Marathon elevation map
St. Neots Half Marathon elevation chart.
  • Other information: There are food outlets on the school playground for refreshments before and after the race. They do not send out race numbers, they have to be picked up on the morning of the race. Race photos were added to their Facebook page for you to take for free. they were uploaded very quickly too.

I asked on my IG post what people like reading in race recaps and to answer some questions:

What was my fuelling strategy?

Well, as I have said I wasn’t so prepared, so I picked up some Tangtastics and had some at mile 8 as I was feeling a little hungry!

How do pace your race?

In this race we just ran and chatted, not even looking at watches, so it was really on feel.

Usually I will have a goal time and then work pace from that.

How do you know what layers to wear?

I really don’t like being cold so usually layer up too much. But I think you just learn what you feel comfortable in the more you run. I still get it wrong ALL the time!

My Race:

I felt I may have been the least prepared for this race. There was no flat lay the night before, I hadn’t even thought about what I was going to wear. I didn’t know what the weather was going to be like, as I hadn’t been on weather watch for the week previous. I didn’t even know what time St.Neots Half Marathon started. The only organising I had completed, was to arrange to meet with Christine and Mike to travel to the race together! At least that way I knew I would get there on time!

As we drove to the race, there was fine rain and I can’t say that I was looking forward to running. I was glad I had opted for my long layer under my MNDA vest. There was plenty of parking on a school site, although you parked on the school field and I saw a few skidding on the way out as it was so muddy.

We headed into the hall to collect our race bibs and you get a race long-sleeve top too. From there, you are ushered through to the sports hall, where you could get your things sorted and drop your bag. This was good as it mean that we could keep warm and dry.

Pre race selfies at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019.
Keeping warm in the sports hall selfie!

I was in need of a toilet break and headed to the changing rooms, hoping that would be the shortest queue. The queues didn’t seem that long until someone told me there was only one toilet working! I think there were about 15 people in front of me, so I decided to wait and use the portable toilets outside. Well, that was a mistake.

Keeping ourselves warm and dry meant that we didn’t head out of the sports hall until 20 minutes prior to the race start. Great I thought, toilet time! It was cold outside and we headed for the toilets. The QUEUES were snaking all over the playground, so again I gave it a miss.

Toilet queues at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019.
Toilet queues zig-zagging around the playground.

It was a 5-minute walk to the start, I spotted 2 portable toilets. Yes! Oh and then I spotted the queue. The race was about to start, so I again didn’t queue. Let me just let you in on a little secret; I needed a wee for the entire race! I mentioned it a FEW times to Christine and Julie, but it was just too cold to stop behind a tree. When finished I ran straight from the finish line to th toilet and I only remembere to stop my watch once I come out of the Toilet!!!! The moral of the story is; go to the toilet before the race, as running with a full bladder didn’t make for the most comfortable race.

So back to the running, well, run/walking. Julie has been injured for a while and her physiotherapist had said that she had to adopt a run/walk strategy so as not to aggravate her knee more. When she said that she was doing a 7/1 run and we didn’t have to wait for her, I knew that wasn’t happening. It was going to be 7 minutes running and 1-minute walking, repeat. I’m nowhere near PB shape, so I really wanted to enjoy this run with friends. I also thought this meant I could take lots of photos and possibly Insta-Story a lot of the race!

We crossed the start line only 1-2 minutes after the klaxon had gone off. I tried to video the start, but ended up taking a photo of the start gantry and then desperately tried to start my Garmin at the right time too! Fail on the Insta-Stories number 1!

Seven minutes running and it was time for our walk. Out comes my phone for a photo and, oh where are they. Julie was like a rocket and had power-walked ahead. I had to run to catch up, take a quick photo and then we were off. Where did that minute go?

Mid Race selfies at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019

I had thought about taking a photo each walk break, but on the second walk break, I had to concentrate on just walking fast enough to keep up. The minute went so fast and Julie’s power walking was pretty intense that my photos didn’t really happen! Hehe. Fail on Insta-Stories number 2!

We were out in the countryside pretty quickly and the miles were ticking by. The race started with an incline and then a short sharp hill around mile 3, but nothing too bad. The scenery on the route as you run along quiet country roads with vast fields for company is lovely. There were lots of marshals on the route and pockets of support at various places.

Views at St. Neots Half Marathon 2019

The course does a figure of 8, so the mile 9 sign is between miles 3 & 4, so you know you have that hill to look forward to again.

Some spectacular houses lined the route and there was always things to look at. Not all roads were closed, but traffic was very light. There was a unpleasant hill at mile 5, but we were lucky that it coincided with a walk break. Were we really that lucky???

Mile 5 at St. Neots Half marathon

Completing run/walk intervals meant that we passed and was passed by familiar faces, so by about mile 7/8 we had a little chat with the people around us. Motorbikes passed at frequent intervals and we always got a tutu shout from one of the riders. Our MNDA vest and matching rara’s seemed to get quite alot of attention.

Mid race selfie Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019

I recognised where we were around mile 8 and 1/2 as we conquered the familiar incline, but at the end of the road instead of turning left like last time, we turned right. Both Julie and Christine have completed this race a number of times before, so they happily informed me that it was all downhill from here.

I was feeling quite strong and enjoying the run and was surprised how easily the last few miles ticked by. The road became much busier from mile 12 to 13, so you had to be aware of your surroundings. When you see the mile 13 marker, make a left turn and there is the finish gantry. I tried to Insta-Story crossing the finish line, yep you guessed it. Fail on Insta-Stories number 3!

I really don’t know how people manage to Insta-Story races. I didn’t attempt the run and talk, I thought I was doing the easy things and failed at them! How Anna managed to Insta-Story her way around NYC Marathon and record a video for running channel at the same time is beyond me!!?? Crazy #Lifegoals hehe

We finished all together which was brilliant and we got round in a time of 2:19:36, but today was certainly not about times.

So that’s it for 2019 races. Check out my races for next year here. Let me know if you are running any of the same races.

Finish Line  Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019
Finish Line Medal Photo at St. Neots half marathon 2019


  • Running with friends is the best.
  • Finishing with friends is the best.
  • Having fun with friends is the best.

Less Positive:

  • More toilets would be nice.
  • I think the hills would not have been nice if I was running flat out, but for a leisurely run it was a really nice course.

Have you run St. Neots Half before? Thoughts? Also, what questions do you like answered in a race recap? Let me know below.


Northampton Half – Race Recap

Race Information:

  • Date: Sunday 29th September 2019
  • Start Time: 9:30 am
  • Entry: Via website and I think they still had places quite close to the race and possibly on the morning too.
  • Cost: £30.45
  • Race Website:
  • Race Mementos: Medal and t-shirt.
  • Course: Starts in the town center of Northampton and is a mixture of town and then surrounding countryside. There is a large hill between mile 6 and 7, but the rest of the course is pretty flat.
  • Elevation: Mostly flat, with one awful hill!
Elevation of Northampton Half Marathon
Elevation of Northampton Half Marathon
  • Other information: Pacers were available, there were plenty of marshalls. Registration took place in a pub, so I used the toilets in the pub and there was NO queue! Bag drop was the back of a van next to the start, which was easy and efficient to use.

My Race:

When I saw the schedule for my last few weeks of marathon training and saw that I had 13 miles on the plan the same weekend as the Northamptoon Half Marathon, it felt like a no brainer. I needed to bank the miles so why not collect the bling and run with lots of people too.

I had assumed that this would be a leisurely run, as I am now tapering for the Chicago Marathon, yet when I spoke to my coach last week, he told me to go for it! What?!? That wasn’t what I was expecting. Having run a PB at Bedford Half Marathon at the beginning of the month I did think that maybe this could be my sub 2 attempt.

I spent the next few days panicking about this race. What if I went for it and didn’t get a good time? Would this knock my confidence for Chicago? But then what if I had a blinder and went into Chicago raring to go?

I was still contemplating going with the 2-hour pacer about 5 minutes before the start. Then, I decided that my main aim of this race was to enjoy it. I feel like I am losing my enjoyment of running lately, so I needed to enjoy this.

It was forecast for horrendous weather, but just as we were about to start the sun came out. So the Northampton Half Marathon actually ended up being really humid and hot.

Ruth & Christine before the start of Northampton Half Marathon
All smiles before the start.

So, I set off with Christine so we could natter away and enjoy the run. I felt like I was constantly trying to slow us down, but we probably still started to fast. By mile 3 we were running along by the river, it was pretty, my legs were feeling fine, but I looked at Christine and said: “I’m bored”. It sounds stupid, but I could have easily given up and just cheered everyone else on. This worries me for my forthcoming 26.2 miles!

All smiles after the race.

Around 5 miles, Christine started to slow and I decided to try and stick to a 9:45 pace. Just to see what it felt like. Great timing as a big hill came up. There were lots of people walking it, but I tried to run it all. Three-quarters of the way up and I started walking. I only walked a short time and then set off again. Around mile 8, I actually felt like I was in a rhythm and I was enjoying it. I decided that at mile 10, I would push on and really attack the last 3 miles.

Not sure what happened with this idea, as my two slowest miles were mile 10 and 12!!! I liked that I was passing lots of people in the last few miles and I had a sprint finish, but I couldn’t say that I finished full of confidence that I would be able to repeat that distance again. What is going on, I have trained harder than ever for this marathon, yet for some reason, I don’t feel as confident about it! Let’s hope there is a miracle in these next two weeks! This is the second time that I have completed the Northampton Half and I would definitely do it again.

If you want to catch up with all my Chicago Marathon training, please click here.


  • Local
  • Reasonable race size, so not much queuing.
  • Easy parking next to where you finish.
  • Race photos are reasonably priced.

Less Positive:

  • Some narrow sections on the course which can make it hard to overtake.
  • Finish section is on grass which is quite bumpy.
Northampton Half Marathon vest, bib and medal
Northampton Half Marathon vest, bib and medal

Do you use races to help train for other races? If you have any questions about this race, please comment below.