competitions and prizes

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a place in the Leeds Christmas 10k.

The winner, chosen at random by the Rafflecopter bot, is …. Patrick! Congrats! Looking forward to seeing you on the day – you will get an extra loud cheer!

Patrick is a fellow active blogger – you can read about his adventures over at 1000kms to Windermere.


Exciting blog post klaxon!! I have an early Christmas present for one lucky reader – free entry to the Leeds Christmas 10k.

You may remember that last year I marshalled this event and had a grand old time cheering on the runners on a very cold November morning. Well to say thank you the organisers have given me a free entry for this year’s race, but I’m passing on the Christmas spirit and giving it away to one of my lovely readers!

I ran the inaugural Leeds Christmas 10k in 2012 and it was a tough course, but a very enjoyable event. The organisation was splendid, and we got a t-shirt and a mince pie at the end. Last year the conditions were a bit nicer than the ice we had that first year, but it was still chilly and hilly! It’s a really fun race with plenty of support, and definitely not just for serious runners – fancy dress is very much encouraged!

You can find out more at the Leeds Christmas 10k website.

Entering the competition is really easy – just click the link through to Rafflecopter below. Of course, it will help if you live in or can get to Leeds easily as there is no transport or accommodation offered (well, you could possibly sleep on my sofa!). The winner will be announced as soon as possible after the closing date of October 5th.

Good luck and I’ll see you on the course somewhere (I’ll be the crazy marshal making all the noise).

Leeds Christmas 10k giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I received a very exciting parcel – the nice people at The Running Bug sent me a TomTom Runner Cardio watch to test and review. As you will know I am a big sucker for gadgets and freebies so was very excited to get a new toy to play with. I’ve been a little “meh” about my running recently, so this was perfect timing – there’s nothing like something shiny and pretty to help you find your mojo!

I’m going to start here with my first impressions and follow up with more blogs about how I get on with it and the different features in the coming days and weeks. You can also check out what my fellow reviewers think about the watch by checking out #getsmyheartracing on Twitter.

01dce0f99a6ad91cde0180eff47b898aca5944e929The watch comes in a cube box, sitting in a card base with a clear plastic cover, allowing you to see it in all its glory. And it looks great – kinda retro with smooth corners and coloured holes on the strap. I received the white and red version, and there are black and red and black and black versions too. Mostly I like the look, but I’m not keen on the black pad below the watch – this is the GPS sensor and the outer edge acts as the navigation buttons – up, down, left, right. For me this unbalances the sleek and minimal look and I would prefer the sensor and buttons to built-in to the watch face.

There are few instructions included – the leaflet says which bits do what and tells you to plug it into your computer to get started. I was too impatient and wasn’t at my laptop, so I just turned it on anyway. It sent me through the usual options (set age, weight, date etc) and then it was ready to go! The first thing I did was turn off the buzz and sound you get when pressing a button! The main menus are pretty easy to understand once you play around with it.

To retrieve your data the TomTom Runner Cardio uses the dedicated MySports portal. This is powered by the same software as MapMyRun, so if you already have an account there you use those details. If not, it’s the usual sign-up process. There is also a mobile app – I got the iPhone one so I can upload my run data without having to plug in.

019df744438c61686f21a21541c76442237fcbddb1When you do plug in to charge and sync activities you get a little screen and from there can click through to the main MySports portal. Plugging in to the computer frees up the storage space on the watch, although you still get your recent history on the device. It’s a little confusing actually – I can send my activities via the iPhone app to MySports and they show up if I go to the online portal, but to transfer a session to race against or to free storage space on the watch you have to plug in to the computer. Of course, you have to do this to charge anyway (although I suppose you could plug into a USB mains charger) but it seems a little clunky.

Actually, the charging socket in itself is rather clunky. It looks cool and is shaped so your watch sits upright in the holder, but by God it took me forever to unclip the damn thing! And I mean many, many minutes of pulling and tugging. I honestly thought I was going to break it I had to keep pulling at it that hard! Not good. After a few more times it has become a bit easier to unclip the watch from the dock, but it’s still a bit fumbly and awkward.

A little niggle for me – I don’t think you can turn the watch off when not in use. I am used to switching off my usual device to save battery, but the TomTom Runner Cardio doesn’t seem to have the option. It’s not a big deal as it is only sat around doing nothing between runs, and I may end up wearing it all day anyway as a normal watch, but it’s always nice to conserve energy.


016196313fce943d379f1c68b653305f6411ee6a9aOverall it’s a good-looking watch and sits nicely on the wrist (even my skinny wrist!). It is comfortable to wear and not too chunky or obtrusive. At £220 it’s quite pricey, but that’s due to the built-in heart rate monitor (more on that in a future blog). From reading about the features it does have a lot going for it, with the ability to measure your run against a set time or distance and create interval workouts, so I’ll get on with testing them!

A little while ago I won a competition for a pair of new running shoes that claim to help you run faster. Called Airia One, they are designed by a Swedish company that has more than 170 years’ experience in shoe making. I actually ended up getting hold of my shoes a little quicker than the expected delivery date as they sent me a test pair to review. So far I have only worn them a few times, but there will be more to come.












Here’s what Airia Running says about the shoes:

After years of development, Airia is about to launch a concept that will revolutionize the way we look at running shoes. Airia One’s construction is inspired by the wheel, to ensure runners achieve that perfect feeling of flow. The shoe has a unique design … It harnesses untapped power in the human body and doesn’t leak energy like other running shoes do. In fact, it unleashes the power of a stride for a faster and more enjoyable running experience.

Tests show that runners wearing Airia shave times by 1 percent on average, and some of them up to 7 percent. To develop the shoe Airia has used scientific methods to find out what does and does not work. The shoe is light and features a biomechanically optimized geometry with an unstable and irregular, sharply angled sole to help you move forward as fast as possible.

Airia One has an asymmetric design which combines a zero drop with a 6mm drop sole. This allows you to run with less ground contact time and helps to keep the power in the stride more in line with the running direction.

Runners who tested our shoes not only run faster, they get a different and better feeling from running. Most people report that they feel stronger and have an improved posture.


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It all sounded rather grand and exciting, and I was skeptical, but open-minded (is that even possible?!).


Run one was 3.4 miles. It was mid-morning and rather warm, muggy and therefore sweaty. I headed out along the main road, down the hill by the golf course, on to the towpath and back up the hill. This is an easy circuit I do quite often, and I always enjoy the downhill section about a mile in.

At first the shoes felt very weird. The bumps underneath make them strange to walk in, but not “impossible” as Airia say. Although I agree that you wouldn’t want to walk any real distance in them. I try to have a brisk walk of a few minutes before starting a run and that was OK, just a bit like wearing cleats.

When I fist started running I could still feel the lumps and I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be doing with my feet. I certainly had to think about where I was landing. But after a few minutes I managed to switch off from consciously thinking about placing my feet and let my body do what came. Downhill I really did feel like my legs were wheeling, but then I often do on that section, and I got a good pace up along the flat part in the middle and felt great.

I had no soreness or weird feelings afterwards and was pleased with my run.

Time: 34:07


Run two was slightly longer at four miles. I started out on the same route – along the road and down the hill, but then went further round to Kirkstall Road (a smooth and flat busy main road). I felt particularly fast on the middle section of this one – like flying!

I settled into the shoes much quicker and didn’t feel like I was being forced to run any particular way or any differently than normal. I am a light-footed, mid-foot/fore-foot runner anyway, so I tippy-toe around in all my running shoes.

Time: 42:06


Run three was tough, mostly because I had a wicked hangover! It was the Otley 10mile road race – an evening event on a very warm day. I wasn’t sure I would even make it to a mile without being sick, let alone finish, but I forced myself to do it anyway! I was sweating like made after not very long but at least I got rid of all those alcohol naughties in my bloodstream by the end!

Anyway, the shoes felt fine at first, but after about 5 miles my toes started to hurt. Like, really hurt. It was the same sensation as when I tested the Brooks PureConnect a while back. Almost like stones in the shoe rubbing from below, but almost a kind of cramping twisty-turny toe thing. Weird. I had to walk and hobble a few times so that I could place my foot differently and relieve the pain. It was quite annoying. I came to the conclusion that it was a combination of me not quite being at my best and therefore my form being off, but also that the shoes are a bit too manipulative for longer runs. I often go around barefoot and occasionally run with nothing on my tootsies, and I don’t think my feet appreciated being coerced into a specific position for too long – they like to have the chance to be flexible and free-moving.

Time: 1:57:29


Run four was the Hyde Park Harriers Summer Mile. I ran this race last year and went much faster than I predicted, but given my lack of speedwork recently I wasn’t expecting a PB.

I did, however, feel good in the shoes. A mile is a difficult race as you just have to get into it and get on with it, so I did few warm-up strides. My feet and legs felt good, but my breathing was so laboured and I was absolutely knackered!

My time was decidedly average, but I still counted it as a win for the shoes.

Time: 8:47


It’s a small sample to make any real conclusions from, but one thing I know for sure is that Airia One are, for me at least, reserved for short distances. They look cool (I will change my mind on that when the white gets grubby) and feel smashing when running.The quality seems good – Vibram soles feature on several of my other shoes and I have always been happy with their longevity.

I’ll be using my Airias now for shorter runs, especially speedwork, and PB efforts at one mile and 5k. Whether or not they really will help me get faster times remains to be seen, but they sure feel good and the notion of them being my “fast shoes” might give me that extra push anyway.

I’ve been too busy racing to post over the weekend, and I’ll write about those races properly soon, but here is a brief post on some spooky runs to celebrate Halloween.

On Wednesday for club training many Harriers dressed up in some very creative costumes, not all of which were conducive to running. I went as a zombie prisoner, complete with chains and glow sticks.

Zombie makeup Zombie prisoner










KH Halloween run








And on Halloween night I took part in the Chevin Chiller race on Otley Chevin. It was pitch black (and not to mention cold and wet) so we had to wear a lot of neon, hi vis and head torches. It was a good chance to try out the Alpkit head torch that I won in a Tribesports Twitter competition recently. And another excuse to dress up.












I’m please to report that I survived and that the Manta head torch worked amazingly. I thought it would be really difficult to run on tricky terrain with limited vision but the light was good and gave me confidence to run without worrying about tripping over things. It also stayed put very well and didn’t bounce around or become heavy or annoying.

So that was Halloween, and now the days really are shorter and darker. Not to mention colder! I’ve dug out my winter running kit and have the hat and gloves at the ready.

I seem to be having a lot of good luck in recent months.

Back in May I won a £100 Sweatshop voucher.

I won a raffle prize from a St George’s Crypt fundraising day.

I had a letter printed in Women’s Running magazine and won a book on anatomy and exercising.

I was successful in the ballot for the London Marathon.

My photo from the Women’s Running 10k was printed in the magazine so I won a load of 9bars and a book on trail running.

Then I won the Brooks competition for Hell Up North entry and kit to wear.

And this week I won an Alpkit headtorch in a Twitter competition run by Tribesports.

I bought a lottery ticket for yesterday but it seems my luck doesn’t extend to cash money, just running goodies.

But still, long may lady luck favour this grateful runner!