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Samantha Amend - GB & England Marathon and Ultra Distance Runner

Comrades 87k “Uphill” -Sunday, 9th June 2019

by Sam Amend - 22nd June 2019 | General News

A week on from the Comrades 87k “ Up Those Hills”  -9th June 2019. Still thinking about what was achieved and what could have been…. From Durban to St Pietermaritzburg.

Training early part of this year 2019 had gone very well with setting a new 50k PB, running the Barry 40 in challenging conditions but respectable time.  Additional to that a few low-key races with some decent performances.  Sadly, though mid-March developed a virus that took close to 8 weeks to shift and impacted my build up races and the ability to find speed.  Not being deterred once over the illness hit back at the last few weeks of training, again was covering the distance and training. 

However, a week before the Comrades and a few days after the Vitality 10k I developed chronic back pain.  No idea on what caused this but looking back now believe it could have been a combination of lifting heavy things in the garden, dancing away in stilettos and too much static sitting for work.  It started to get painful on the Wednesday 29th.  After a few days and no subsidence in the pain frantically looked at getting treatment on top of aqua jogging, so I had chiropractor work aswell as a massage preflight to Durban in South Africa.

12hrs of sitting very uncomfortable for many of which I sat there worrying about how I was going to make the start line.  Fortunately, the Team Management from Nedbank who were supporting all the international runners were providing massage on the Friday within the hotel.  I was blessed that both the consultants doing so were experienced with both physio and massage.  Sadly, it was still very tight after and I had decided to get into the best position for the race to visit him at his clinic and had a taxi to the stadium rehab unit.  It was a whirlwind 24hrs of trying to fix myself with last chance hopes.  To top this off my roommate who had a horrendous flight with many changes had come down with a heavy cold worryingly, so I was doing a wide birth. 

The team itself managed by Nick Bester was mixed with South Africa /UK/ Ireland/Poland/America/Canada/Sweden/Finland/US to name just a few of the countries being represented.  We had a great experience of being looked after, time to share experiences for the Debutants like myself and others more knowledgeable.  Our obligations were to attend some meetings, talks, number/chip pick up / press conferences and ensure on race day we were ready to rock the bus/Combi at 3.15am sharp… Yep you heard 3.15am……

Up until race day it was a lot of counting down “time” as you cannot really relax knowing what is ahead of you and also being around other athletes although not intended its another added stress.  I also struggled in South Africa for sales/ vegetarian/vegan food, and ironically the attached reference was named the “ Butchers block”.  The nights before the race they provided a lot of carbs, so I had to adapt to make sure I found something to eat, it wasn’t however my best memory from visiting South Africa.

Back to race day and team mates, well it was made up of marathon runners, some of the best ultra-athletes including the main lady from South Africa Gerda Steyn who had recently won in a fast time the Two Oceans  56k marathon and tipped as one of the favorites.  There were around 10 leading ladies potentially fighting for the podium with Gerda, Camille Herron and last year’s downhill winner Ann Ashworth.  Truth be told I would have loved to make the top 10 which was more than feasible pre- injury, but sadly had to change my goals.  I very rarely moan about injuries/pain but the back was causing me serious problems with restrictions and lack of pain free and also limiting the gait/biomechanics to run comfortable. 

Calm Before The Storm

Marlborough Downs 33 Miles

by Sam Amend - 11th May 2019 | General News

A test of endurance not speed, It’s been a while running over a marathon distance and off little training for a few months and just building confidence.

Race registration was busy and a mix of 33 miles and a 20 mile racers. I met a few local runners from my village and locally so it was nice to know I hadn’t travelled too far. I also had company with Kirsteen who my coach also looks after and she was coming back from injury and me from illness. We decided as self navigational and a ” Training Run” that we would run together and if she could hang on with me we would finish together. That’s exactly what happened and we started to move through the field in the latter stages.

Challenging course, terrain was ” hit and miss” with sometimes wishing I had trail shoes and very slippery. At a few points we were under electric fences, on canal’s, through woods, non marked walking routes, fields and chalky climbs. We picked our game up the last few miles chasing down some men that raced ahead and also where the loop then meets the 20 milers. Seeing people walk motivated us to keep moving and knowing the last few miles were much flatter. We crossed the line together, both pleased we achieved our intention, although I was awarded first I had crossed slightly a second earlier but happy to have shared the win. Although I could have pushed on in parts I saw no purpose to run too hard with the Comrades coming up in a month and also running solo which I do 90% of the time.

Pednor 5 – 6th May 2019, Chesham

by Sam Amend - | General News

Having not raced for some weeks due to a elongated illness and what I thought was a glandular relapse was relieved to be back on it.

We nearly didn’t make it due to horrendous motorway traffic to what used to be a local race but now 38 miles away. Love the local Chiltern Harriers race as you bump into so many locals and its a competitive evening race. Arriving just in time limited a super short warm up, expectations were low and just a relief knowing it was a short race.

We had both entered Alex and I and travelled with students from Leeds University who were interviewing me on Female Ultra running, so they got the chance to film the race, talk to me after and over a few days interview me. Race was a fast start like bulls in a ring and once the mass tight spots stretched out I got into a rhythm. Tough course with a fair bit of climbing and for your hard graft a lovely fast downhill finish. Surprised myself to run my second fastest time on the course and back to 6min miles and only 17 seconds slower than 7 years earlier.

2 podium spots for us both and a great evening race with confidence.

SEAA Road Relays, Milton Keynes – Sunday 24th March 2019

by Sam Amend - 24th March 2019 | General News, Race Reports

Anything could happen… #team outing!

I felt labored all week fro racing /training but managed to get through the week relatively unscathed.  I was pretty sure  that I was coming down with virus and  just felt really exhausted.  Being the reliable stalwart to the club made sure that I would do my best I could despite feeling under the weather.   Today was the 12 stage for the men which Alex was racing, and I was the  leg  2 for the Belles and the long leg of 5 miles.

 

With a warm up 3 miles, the race proceeded and off out I went and chased a few people down before I then got chased by the fast ladies on my leg.  I did the best I could possibly but felt very dry throated, and sinuses were playing up with a dizzy feeling during the race.  Knowing I had 5 people depending on me I continued to push along and on the final 2k tried to run as quick as I could when I saw the track in sight.

 Road Relays Results 2019

 

 

 

Milton Keynes 20 mile – Sunday 17th March 2019

by Sam Amend - 17th March 2019 | General News, Race Reports

Milton Keynes 20 Miler,

A week on from the Barry 40, I wasn’t expecting much from the legs but used this  race and booked it as a hard training run to see what the legs could do in a 20 mile run.  Milton Keynes was windy like the previous week but at least dry for a positive but very cold.  They were running a festival which meant a 5/10k/half and the 20 miles.  I set out around 6.10 pace for the first few miles then settled to 6.20 pace for some time.  It was a solo run with no company and became tough on some very exposed sections around the lake and also over taking as it was a multi loop.  My legs were still very tired so the pace towards the end and with a cheeky climb at the end did drop in the last 5 miles.

Towards the last climb I could see the 2nd lady coming into my sight and the inner strength to not give up or let someone else claim my win having pushed had for nearly 20 miles I gave it the last effort.  Average was 6.34 so not bad considering what I would call a busy year with 50k, 40 miles, 20 miles, marathon, XC and 10k completed amongst a busy training schedule.  The race could have been anyone’s today with a few fast ladies at the front end, I had also lowered my expectations and no pressure as I would have never been in PB shape.  I felt pleased with the run as it was much quicker than I would have run on a solo run.  This race was well organized and marked to know which lap we were on and very well supported and for my hard work won a new set of sunglasses.

 

Milton Keynes 20 Results

Barry Track 40 Mile – Sunday 10th March 2019

by Sam Amend - 10th March 2019 | General News, Race Reports

The 33rd  Barry 40 mile,  ironically the thought of running  a track race with a 161 laps is a scary thought and always swore I wouldn’t do this. Mainly down to how it may have potentially caused some issues with my feet and legs with constant turns.  Anyway, decision was made with the coach at the back end of 2018 that it fitted well in the training in preparation for the 6hr track British record and also long training for GB 24hr.  Honestly from the start of 2019 this had always been the one race I was worried about as I know the weather is not great on coasts.

Being British, let’s talk about the weather for a moment.  According to the Race Director Mick he said the weather for this year’s race was far from kind, with strong north-westerly winds throughout and the worst he could recall. It makes me feel better knowing that I couldn’t have done anymore and the weather played a detrimental part. There were also  other practical implications too when the sit in football dugout blew across in front of us with the high gusts of winds, cones knocking down and across the track and some hail for good measures. 18 of us entered the two events (11 in the 40 miles) and 7 in the marathon, and everyone turned up for the start, it was a battle of who would get to that finish line.

 

The start was fast, with James who had been twice a previous winner and closely running alongside Grant Jean who ultimately ended up not finishing his race from some miles 6 min miling.  I was part of a controlled quartet containing a Norwegian local Ake Fagereng (Les Croupiers), Richard Elgar (Lliswerry Runners and brother to the eventual winner) and Richard Fowler (Parc Bryn Bach).  We shared the pace and the front of the group for the first 12 or so miles before we started to all have gaps grow as we settled into our own paces.  It was really tough for us as we were continually lapping others who were walking the inside line and no energy to shout to move it was too much as it was so frequent.  Head down and motored around the laps and didn’t really start to count until we had done 20 miles. By 30 miles the leader held a 12 minute advantage with Nathan Flear ( running 100k a few weeks later) was hanging in second. Ake Fagereng was in (3:35:07) and  my time (3:38:39) for 30 miles and  we had also been running solo for some time.  I plugged away and tried not to loose too much time and completed my penultimate  lap with my niece chasing me to finish.  Lots of lessons learned, experiences, challenges and surprisingly came away unscathed and considering a return.  It was a friendly event and relaxed and very supportive event.  I never forget we runners renamed Barry Island “Barrybados “ as it was anything far from it.  I was pleased with my performance and will be back to run faster !

 

Barry 40 Results

Seville Marathon -17th February 2019

by Sam Amend - 17th February 2019 | General News, Race Reports

Wow, that time already it feels like the ” 3 Amigos” had only not long come back from Valencia in December.  I was still looking forward to Seville, training had been going really well but the lead upto the depature  sadness..

Having been on a whistle stop tour to Sweden via Copenhagen with customers on the Tuesday 12th, then rushing straight to the vets due to poorly rescue Xana dying.  It was the most dramatic drive ever from Heathrow to the Vets.  Tired, exhausted and emotional and then saying goodbye to my loyal side kick .  Watching over the space of just over a week going from what was thought to be an infection, to rat poisoning and then after full scan results ” tumors”.  Terrible pain that dog was in and seeing her bleeding through her noise and the Vitamin K hadnt successfully clotted her blood.  There was the sad goodbye as our darling little baby was put to sleep and knowing we were there and she had stayed alive for me to get to the vets was a blessing.

Emotions for the rest of the week were like a roller-coaster, on what should have been an easy week, and excitement to go to Seville was very tough.  Truth be told my head was all over the place and as much as I love going with my pals I felt empty, tired and to top it off also started that damn Menstrual cycle.  I had no idea how I was going to race but just knew I needed to run to the finish.  What I was pleased to have done was get Jo my best pal to commit to racing.  What a great result that turned out to be.

I put my thoughts aside and enjoyed a few days in the Spanish sun, amazing Vegan food and then on race day just turned up with ” see what happens”.  I knew from the off after a few miles I felt tight and laboured, however thought this may ease.  I was getting lower back pain which was limiting me to run with a high gait and a tight hamstring.  Running a temperature, feeling stressed I didnt take in much of the course just tried to prevent drifting back too much as I watched the 2:45 pacer go past with a pack of runners.  This was a a time which 6:18 pace should have been achievable, certainly sub 2:50.  Sadly it wasn’t to be In the last few miles I struggled in the sun and the weaving tight turns and long run into the finish, clocking 2:52:37.  Anyway, I was disappointed and felt robbed of a time I deserved and in my mind was Xana , that just was all I had on the day.  Onto Jo, my girl managed to crack out her first sub 4hrs in 3:49.11 which is the best she has run in years.

Every race is a journey and a memory and despite not feeling ” on it” I had a great time with special friends.

 

Above: Towards the final 2 miles in Seville Marathon

IAU GB World 24hr Championships ” Im In!”

by Sam Amend - 7th February 2019 | General News, Race Reports

Albi, France 24hr

Expecting to hear something  just before travelling to Seville  week of 11th , from a hard week I got the email the email I had been waiting so patiently from mid January.

My CV had been sent to the selectors on Jan 7th and then a month later I got the best news after a very stressful week and whilst one of my dearest dogs had been poorly.  Elated to say the effort in the Belfast 24hr June 2018 had been worthwhile.  Have run now for GB 50k, GB 100k last year and now another vest and something to be proud of. Watch this space as the training commences along the way with races such as Barry40, GB 6hr track, Comrades and hopefully  the GB 50k having qualified for this event twice.

A reminder of my enjoyment of the 24hr event:

https://www.britishathletics.org.uk/news-and-features/12-british-athletes-selected-for-24-hour-world-championships/

Chichester Priory 10k – Sunday 3rd February 2019

by Sam Amend - 4th February 2019 | General News, Race Reports

On a cold Sunday February morning,

Race line up with a classy Elite athletes ( including Steph Twell in fine form) along with some GB/ England runners looking to find speed ahead of  marathons.   After what was a terrible few days of snow for most of the country, and the one safest place that hadn’t been dumped with it.  It was certainly the first below freezing temperatures and shivering before the start.  I went with Alex and friend Trevor who decided to come as I mentioned it was a good course, although a few changes from when I last raced it.  Truth be told, I wasn’t in 10k PB shape and it was early in my race season but always good progress. I needed to put in a good time in to contribute for a block of hard racing and training.   Focus was also on the long distance key races which you will hear about along the 2019 journey.

I also knew that my next 10k  wouldn’t be until May time before Comrades.  The next few months was all about track long distance races, the marathon and then a build up for the autumn GB events.  Back to the race de-brief, I had a few crazy moments of dashing to the toilet for last minute nerves ( a common trend with me, anyone that knows me!) before we had a long walk to the start which was in a side road of the Goodwood track ( Chichester).  Without further thought and unexpected I didn’t hear a gun just a few mutters ” Go” and off we trailed down nice smooth  country roads with a few climbs.

During the race I went from cold to hot as the morning started to warm up and initially a little distressed when seeing all the females racing past me and ones I didn’t recognize in the first few K.  Relief had it that after the charge I started to pull back in some of the runners.  Just a little too late but maintained my pace in the last few k’s which was on the track.

Alex was out for a hard training session having run the Army champs so he ran alongside me, we aimed for sub 37 and almost made it, although we were confident the 37.01 was sub based on not being on the start – line.

Pleased with my performance and showed progressed…

 

Chichester 10k Results 2019

2019 Results

Promoting British Ultra Running – Sunday Times, 18th January

by Sam Amend - 21st January 2019 | General News, Race Reports

A pleasure to be interviewed by a long standing Sunday Times journalist John Goodbody, who also covers many sports including motor racing and rowing.

Originally I had planned to meet with him during the previous week but due to work changes I wasnt needed in London.  They Sunday Times offered to come and meet me locally at my house and also take running photos by their sports photographer.  We arranged Friday 18th , just before my 50k that weekend.

We went to the local pub where I was interviewed the ” old school” way with a dicta phone, and a pad & paper.  It was a great experience and also provided positivity during the interview on my achievements.  Also finding out he was an exceptional open water swimmer.  We spent about 30 minutes discussing  my ultra journey before moving onto the photography part.

Something that  made me smile as an after thought was during the interview trying to explain to a man in his seventies what ” chicked” meant in terms of  a woman beating a man in running.  Both the photographer and I explained to the puzzled John ( in his seventies), a very humorous moment!  After John departed back for his train to London I  then travelled with the photographer to Wittenham clumps.  During this time we did about 40 minutes of photos, it was a very windy and cold day so challenging to get the photos.

After an afternoon with the Sunday  Times I was excited to see the  finished article produced for that Sunday, along with some photos that were professional to use.

Wittneham Clumps, South Oxfordshire.

Sunday times Article