Win a half day of coaching and stay with Andy Mouncey

Andy Mouncey
Andy Mouncey

All those donating more than £10 to my JustGiving page received before 31st March will go into a draw for a half day coaching session with Andy Mouncey. This prize is worth £189 and includes accommodation with Andy in Bentham, Lancashire if the winner wants it.

Andy has represented GBR in triathlon and has raced Ironman distance five times. He has set stage records for Arch to Arc – a 300 mile solo triathlon from London to Paris and has a whole host of ultra running achievements to add in.

Andy has authored two great books,  “London to Paris the hard way”,  “Magic Madness and Ultramarathon Running” – both are available to buy on his website here.

Whilst his website is a terrific resource, some one to one coaching time with Andy will help you with things such as specific problems, making a breakthrough or getting ready for your first Ultra.

We’re very grateful that Andy is has donated this fantastic prize to raise money for Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. Thank you Andy.

Andy’s new book “So you want to run ultra’s?” and perhaps featuring a picture of my feet is out later in the year, published by Crowood- read an extract from his blog here

If you have already donated or I don’t know you personally as someone who would enjoy the coaching, please add “AM” to your donation message to be added to the draw.

Good luck!

What a week!!

Damaged beyond repair - my nicely bedded in shoes for MdS 2014
Damaged beyond repair – my nicely bedded in shoes for MdS 2014

Monday started with a “mayday” call to Martin Like of Likeys. Having decided that a local cobbler was the right way forward for attaching my sand gaiters to my trainers – the results were less effective than expected. There are a couple of slices right through my shoes now, big enough to get my finger through, so sand might be a little more successful getting in than I hoped .

Having bedded these shoes in, I was very confident that, as long as I could keep the sand out, these shoes would be my best bet for avoiding large blisters – which though pretty much inevitable I was hoping to minimise. Martin is a veteran of a huge number of Ultra, multi-day stage races, and his advice was well received. I’m going to do my own gaiters this time, and have managed to run my new shoes in this week too.

ECG done this week too; this means I have two bald patches on my hairy chest. My daughter thought I should shave the rest off – and a few other suggestions of waxing from various people. I had thought this would be another way to raise some money, but a few people have let me know that the ingrowing hairs I would suffer would be painful. On top of running in a hot desert, a pus filled chest is not another thing I need to add!

Crocus - looking lovely
Crocus – looking lovely

It comes from golf, but I like the quote, and so tried to put it into practise this week – “As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”
– Ben Hogan. Every shot in golf is separate, and smelling the roses is about separating each shot you play, so that every one is as good as you can make it. I’ll be trying to do the same in the desert – one good minute doesn’t mean that the next one will be the same – but enjoy it while you can. Not quite roses, but the crocuses were looking brilliant this week.

Despite being successful in getting through the application process to the selection process for being an ashmei ambassador, I couldn’t make it to Hertfordshire this weekend for the workshops and final selection. I wasn’t alone in this, ashmei offered us the chance to make a 60 second video to capture our achievements and goals – there was a suggestion it could be fitted into a 15 second Instagram clip; I have no clue as to how I could have done that!

I received some absolutely amazing donations this week – from all round the world, the US doing particularly well in the donation league tables. But Wales also doing fantastically with some very special donations from Pete’s family and Meirionnydd Running Club . Just Giving is creeping the way it needs to – up!

And finally, with the weather picking up, it was an absolute pleasure to get some miles into my new trainers and to do my final, long run before heading out to the desert. A beautiful run on some new tracks to new places, joining the dots in different ways. Life is good when plodding away through the hills around home.

I’m hoping the coming week is a little less fraught, though with a four year old in the first day of chicken pox, I suspect I’ll need to smell some more flowers!

Starting to sweat the small stuff – but now with good help

Just recently a friend who I’ve had some amazing adventures with wrote to me and said

I’m pretty sure you must be getting excited/apprehensive by now.  Think the small details will probably matter more to you than me, and I bet a lot hinges on getting those tiny details just right.  You were always good at that though; more of a fine brush artist compared to my broad strokes!

Funnily, I’d be looking at everything in massive strokes, and am really only just getting down to the detail.

Fortunately I’ve been looking after a good few things as part of my, that are the detail so my list is pretty short and seems surmountable. Even though someone helpfully posted that it’s less than 1000 hours now before we jump on the plane. Ooof.

One of those detailed items is nutrition – fuelling the body. Because I have to carry my food for the event, calorie to weight is an essential consideration. I’m lucky that I’ve been looking at this for a while, tested items in events and training and am now pretty confident that my final details are getting sorted. A more detailed blog to follow.

Trail food is a real pick me up, and having something that picks you up psychologically is as important as the nutritional value. Having considered and tested fat and nuts for a long distance rowing project and woofed down chicken curry with Mars bars melted in I can definitely testify to food fuelling a campaign like this.

I was introduced to Bounce Balls about 7 months ago, and was initially hesitant. However, feeding my body with good quality, balanced natural food is essential. When pushing the body hard recovery is an essential part of training. I’ve found for the last 6 months. Bounce natural energy balls are a really convenient way to fit quality calories into a 5 meal a day eating plan. This has become really important whilst looking at weight management. The balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate is perfect and the various tastes are delicious. They are absolutely perfect when I want a treat and are really filling. I’ve also found that they are well packaged for training food. I choose to eat them through rest cycles, and they immediately stop rumbling stomachs.

As well as using them day to day for training, I will be using Bounce Balls for breakfast during the event.

You’ll spot Bounce products in a number of high street retailers or you can but them online. I really recommend giving them a go. Look out for the logo!

Bounce Natural Energy Balls
Bounce Natural Energy Balls

My first corporate sponsor

Raising funds for charity is really hard work, on top of putting in lots of hours running around in the dark, I’ve been trying to get donations in for Myfanwy Townsend . There is great support from Michelle at the charity, but as a small charity there are lots of things that need doing and not a huge amount of resource to do it. It always amazes me when the statistics around Melanoma are spelt out 

“Today, melanoma is one of the most rapidly increasing forms of cancer in the world.  The incidence in the UK has risen by 143% in 18 years, and there is a comparable increase throughout the world, yet still, far too little is known about the disease.  In the 1930′s melanoma affected 1 in 1,500: now it affects 1 in 50.”

Raising money, and awareness is critical to stem the tide on these statistics. I know only too well that early diagnosis and treatment of any cancer is critical. Both my parents would probably have survived with earlier diagnosis of their cancer, and survival statistics today suggest that the treatment would have been more effected too.

I’ve been very fortunate to have some amazing donations from all round the world, and I’m always grateful for any pennies. But I’m particularly honoured to have received my first corporate sponsorship from my cousin in Canada. His company, Simple Intranet has made such an enormous difference, in context £500 in one donation when in the last 15 years the charity has raised £400,000. It is really significant.

Simple Intranet-my first corporate sponsor for Marathon des Sables 2014
Simple Intranet-my first corporate sponsor for Marathon des Sables 2014

Also Chris has pledged that if any new customers of Simple Intranet who quote Marathon des Sables he will donate 50% of the sale to Myfanwy Townsend. Any one need an intranet?

As you can imagine, I want to give some space to the company that put up the money! It is an IT company with customers like clothing companies Patagonia and Diesel as well as NGBs like British Gymnastics and Banks from around the world.

So a quick explanation from Chris about the company and what they do.

WordPress is now used by over 21% of all websites and is far by the leading content management system.  The Simple Intranet suite of plugins lets non-technical users turn a WordPress installation into a private intranet in minutes. Some call it a private Facebook for businesses.  We offer a detailed employee photo directory, online forms, events calendar, activity feed, drag and drop file management and a slew of other features to manage HR functions and internal communications.  Try our free lite version of our Simple Intranet Directory here: and visit our site for the full version here:


And he was also kind enough to give his point of view on my project

Ashley is a extremely determined and hard working family man.  His close personal experiences with melanoma seem to have galvanized his efforts even further towards his goal of running what is arguably one of the most strenuous races around.  If training and hard work brings luck, then Ashley certainly has got the best possible chance at crossing the desert.  I am honoured to support him for a very worthy cause which will benefit generations to come.

With this donation have come more donations to the JustGiving site

I’m still to get a text donation which is easy to do by texting MTRF74 followed by an amount (£1,£2,£5 or £10) to 70070 but I hope that’ll be useful during the 6 day race.

Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund
Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund