PRATs at USwim and the Hell of a Hill Marathon Lap Report

Last week was a busy and varied week for the PRATs.

Wednesday was National Running Day. Never ones to follow the crowd, the PRATs chose to celebrate by going for a swim! Keen to show the benefits of mixing up their training,
Rachel, Chris and Martin went along to a USwim open water event held at
Salford Quays.

Martin was fairly experienced at open water swimming in the Quays, but it
was the first time Rachel and Chris had braved the chilly depths of the
Manchester Ship Canal. After peeling themselves into their wetsuits, they
took the plunge. It was cold!! But after taking the ‘necessary measures’ to
warm themselves up they beasted out a good half a mile or so and had a

PRATS swimming

But the main focus for this week was the Hell of a Hill marathon reccy.

Earlier in the year, Martin secured his place in the Hell of a Hill 5
marathons in 5 days event. The fact that this is arguably the most difficult
endurance event around was just a minor detail…Martin had his eye on the
prize and that prize came in the form of 5 shiny medals; one for each day!
You might be thinking he’s crazy, but the PRAT’s would expect nothing less
from coach. He is a certified Iron Man after all!!

In a passing comment, Martin mentioned that the rest of the PRATs should
sign up for the last day and we could run it as a team. Dunc is a two-time
marathon champ, but Chris and Rachel have never run further than 10k
distance in a race. They had a half-marathon lined up in September, so
figured that could fit into a marathon training plan quite easily.

The day before they were due to go, Dunc’s knee was still causing him
trouble so he bowed out. Either that, or the idea of a Saturday morning in
bed having his brow mopped by Steph and being fed grapes was more appealing!

Martin, Chris and Rachel headed out. Martin had been sensible enough to run
the lap a couple of times before signing up so he knew the route. Rachel and
Chris weren’t that smart! After a mile or so warm up, they started the first
lap. It was BRUTAL. A sensible run/walk strategy was needed and eventually
they reached the bottom steps of Rivington Pike.

For those who don’t know, Rivington Pike is a hill summit that overlooks
various towns in the Lancashire area. It’s 1,191 feet high and unforgiving,
but the views are stunning. However, after Rachel and Chris have completed
42km and Martin a gruelling 210km (all in the dead of a British winter);
they probably won’t give two hoots how beautiful it is!

Once at the top, the welcome relief of running back down was upon them but
even that was a challenge. The terrain was tough! Just as they thought it
was all downhill, another set of steps appeared as if out of nowhere! After
a few expletives from Chris, they headed back up and before they knew it the
lap was completed! On the day it’ll only be a mere 7 more laps to go!


Back at the car it was time for a quick refuel or sausage rolls and
flapjacks and a debrief. The PRATs love nothing more than challenging
themselves with new activities and going outside of their comfort zone! And
this Hell of a Hill marathon will be anything but comfortable!!

Martin filmed the experience on his Go-Pro – check out the video below.


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