So it was 7 a.m. and I was half way through my challenge, I had already run 50 kms (31 miles). The time for my first 26.2 miles had beaten my previous 3 marathons (2016, 2017 & 2018). It’s safe to say I had been flying. However, as soon as I started running on the country park paths of Black Park I knew I had done the right thing by smashing as many miles as I could at Pinewood Studios. This terrain was far more tricky and full of potential trip hazards. I’ve fallen over in the armour before, it’s never a good thing.
The plan had been that the lads who had been supporting me all through the night would now be driving from Pinewood Studios to the car park at Black Park. However the car park was closed when the boys got there. I was on my own. I was really in need of changing my kit and having some food and drink but the team couldn’t get the kit to me. It turned out that the car park wasn’t getting opened until 8 a.m. The previous year (2017 - The May the 4th 40 Mile Run) the car park had been open at 7 a.m. so it was assumed that it would be the same, doh. I had been going so well but this really threw a spanner in the works. I hadn’t realised that there was a problem with the car park until after I had stripped off my costume, I then began getting cold. Thankfully Stephen and the lads carried some essentials over to me and I took on some food and water. After a full clothing change and a fresh pair of Brooks Glycerin trainers I was ready to go. My planned 30 minute stop had turned into an hour but hey, that couldn’t be helped. It was time to start running again. I was running for Make A Wish UK and Spread A Smile UK and I needed to complete this crazy challenge for these 2 great charities.
The first half of the 100 Km run can be read about here 2018 - The 100 km Stormtrooper Run - Part 1 Lucasfilm
I wasn’t taking any chances with the terrain, even though there were dozens of paths all over the beautiful national park I found the flattest ones and stuck with them. I did have a little panic for a while when it became clear that my Garmin live track feed had apparently stopped showing my progress. This was due to my prolonged stop at 7 a.m. After a quick break for some social media progress updates I was back on track!
Find out about my Live Tracking here (then come straight back!) 2018 - The 100 km Stormtrooper Run - Garmin to the Rescue
I felt like a president running with his protection team!
Problem number 2 was the big blisters on my feet. Regardless of what trainers I wear, after about 30 miles the unnatural running technique/stride/gate which comes with running as the Stormtrooper will always put pressure in one particular place.This results in a predictable blister on both feet. I had taped up my feet the night before however the blisters still developed under the dressings. This isn't a trainer issue. I have tried several different brands and have been extremely impressed with Brooks. The comfort and support which they provide is brilliant, I always #runhappy. So throughout the day I did have some slight discomfort, however apart from the blisters, my feet felt so well supported I couldn't complain.
I can’t thank my friends enough for their company throughout this special day. Not only did Steve, Andy, Simon and Marc from the night shift stay with me throughout the day, I was also joined by Ed Fisher, Darren Petford, Peter Lee, Stuart Skinner, Richard Hutchinson and Martin Woodgate. These lads kept me going. Marc even made me some noodles at lunchtime! Here I am catching up with social media again and enjoying Marc's cuisine.
It was a beautiful day, I was so lucky to have chosen such a wonderful day to run. The temperature started rising and the sun remained in a cloudless sky. Fortunately the forrest canopy provided some much appreciate shelter from direct sunlight. It was still extremely hot though, but I’d much prefer to run in a little heat rather than have my friends stuck out in the rain all day long. That would have been utterly miserable. At least this way everyone was happy.
Steve did a particularly good job of ensuring that I was well hydrated and taking on plenty of food/energy.
Black Park is stunning. I can’t recommend it enough for a great day out. There are 2 x cafes, a lovely lake, great views and a really popular Park Run (if that’s your thing).
The miles/kilometres were slowly building up. The pace had naturally slowed but I was happy enough with that. The last 40 or so kilometres were completed at a pace of about 5 km an hour. Not at all fast but considering the distance I had already covered and I’d now been up for about 28 hours I can’t be too hard on myself. As of midday I’d run 5 kms in about 45 minutes and then chill/drink/eat for 15 minutes. It was a formula that worked and would keep me on track to finish at about 6 p.m.
About half way through the afternoon I was joined by Rhiannon, one of the Make A Wish volunteers who ran with me for a while. A little while later I was also joined by Lucy and Amanda from Spread A Smile who also put on their trainers and ran with me.
My wife and children were also extremely keen to come and support the run. Just as I had reached the 80 kilometre point I was joined by my best cheer team who all took turns and ran with me for a bit.
At the 90 kilometre point I gave myself one final sock and trainer change. This time I opted for a pair of Brooks Levitates. However it was at this point when people realised exactly how big and painful my blisters were. My good friend Steve helped me change my shoes (as I couldn't bend over), as he was trying to take off the trainers to be replaced he accidentally squeezed my feet in exactly the wrong place. I couldn't help but let out the biggest yell ever which really caught everyone off guard. Sorry, especially to Lucy and Amanda who appeared to get quite upset at my distress. The new trainers were so soft they were perfect, my tired feet really appreciated the change. It felt like I had put on a lovely pair of slippers!
At the 95 kilometre point I got met by Hannah B from Pinewood Studios who joined my small band of runners and ran the last stretch with us. We headed to a side entrance to Pinewood Studios and entered the site. There we were met by a small reception team and a camera operator in the back of a truck. The truck drove ahead of us and filmed us running around Pinewood. From there it was simply a case of running around the filming lot until my Garmin informed me that we were within two hundred meters of the ultimate goal. At that point we ran towards our finish line and savoured every moment. It was lovely to see that some of my friends had been allowed to write little messages on the Pinewood Studios road in chalk.
This photo is of me getting awarded my 100 Km Last Stormtrooper Run medal by Steve. See this article for more information about how YOU can earn a 1 mile or 5 mile medal (then come straight back). 2018 - The Last Stormtrooper Run - Virtual Run Series
Pinewood Studios in particular Kathryn D have always been awesome towards The Running Stormtrooper Project. The way in which they looked after me and my team afterwards was no exception. We were all taken to a special dressing room where we had a huge bucket full of refreshments waiting for us. They provided me with a curry and a much needed sports massage. Not long after sitting down on the sofa I became completely overwhelmed and a bit emotional. I couldn’t stop myself. I was utterly exhausted and the run had been a huge mental challenge. I guess it was just a coping mechanism. To be fair I had been awake for 36 hours. My friends realised that I probably needed a moment alone and gave me some space. I quickly composed myself and everything was ok in the world. It was at this point that I had my first sip of alcohol in months. The classy photo below is of me not being able to make up my mind between a glass of fizz or a beer. I enjoyed both!
And there we have it the run was complete. Once again this Stormtrooper defied popular opinion and proved that A Stormtrooper CAN hit his target!
Some information and stats for you:
I began the run at 00.06 a.m. and finished 17 hours and 49 minutes later at 5.55 p.m.
My total running time was 12 hours 46 minutes and 18 seconds.
Throughout the day I stopped for a total of 5 hours and 3 minutes.
Average pace throughout the day was 12.19 Minute Miles
Average speed was 4.9 miles per hour.
Average heart rate was 135, max was 186. At rest it was 52.
The temperature reached 26 degrees. The average temperature was 17 degrees.
According to my Garmin i used 7,241 calories.
My total steps were 131,507.
You may have just stumbled across this blog and not actually realise why I've been doing these crazy runs. Please see the first 2 articles listed below. You'll quickly learn why I run for both Spread A Smile UK and Make A Wish UK, 2 wonderful charities dedicated to poorly children. If you have been impressed enough to make a donation to my charity page, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/thelaststormtrooperrun anything you can donate will be greatly appreciated.
My final reflection and thank you blog for the 2018 Running Stormtrooper Project will be written asap
Until then I simply must thank my support team, Pinewood Studios and Lucasfilm for ensuring that this crazy project actually happened XX