MARCH 2016: Last Autumn, we announced the dates of RunBrighton’s Spring 2016 warm-weather training camp with 2:09 Events in the Algarve… 10th – 17th March.
This followed the success of the March 2015 trip, and the desire to return for more of the same!
But RunBrighton’s Irish contingent immediately spotted a problem; we’d be flying back on St Patrick’s Day. Up in the sky was no place to be celebrating such an important occasion!
I called 2:09’s main man, 1983 London Marathon winner, Mike Gratton. He swiftly put our minds at rest. For a small additional fee, we were able to extend our trip by an extra day, enabling us to celebrate at the end of a week’s training in the sun. A much better idea, we felt, than having to resort to sipping Guinness on an aeroplane home. In fact, our entire group opted for the 8-day stay!
We got on and started booking up… some in the hotel rooms, others in their shared self-catering apartments.
Having collected our cars at Faro airport (included in the 2:09 package) on Thursday lunchtime, off we headed to the Alfa Mar Hotel & Gardens at Praia de Falesia, just 45 minutes away.
We briefly pulled over en route, so we could help ourselves to a few fresh oranges from branches overhanging our road. And over the course of the week that followed, these delicious local oranges were consumed by us in their hundreds. No vitamin C deficiency for RunBrighton!
We checked in at our resort, got in a couple of hours of sunbathing by the pool, then had our first leisurely jog along the scenic cliff top where a couple of paragliders played around in the thermals overhead.
Through the course of the week, there were two organised runs every day. All abilities of runner were catered for, and there was a variety of routes, terrain and types of training session.
We ran on the resort’s all-weather track, through forest, on country lanes, around the local Vilamoura Marina, through the orange groves and past the honey farm; we competed in the local Falesia 5k race, and we ran barefoot on our sandy beach where we would finish with a refreshing dip in the sea to cool down and treat our tired legs.
If the cool water didn’t quite do the trick, the magic hands of massage therapist Sue Wainwright would ensure we could all keep going with our training and churn out significantly more mileage than we would normally manage back home entwined in our busy lives. She fixed our Achilles tendons, our feet, our backs and hamstrings!
It wasn’t just RunBrighton out there. We were around 100 runners in all. Some had come along on their own; in fact, we adopted a few! And there were numerous other clubs and groups represented from all over the UK and elsewhere.
Most of the runners attended the camp in preparation for a forthcoming spring marathon, whilst some had their sights set on a half marathon or even a summer of track races. And, of course, there were others who came along to simply enjoy a holiday in the sun and fit in just a bit of easy running. No matter whether you were an elite, seasoned athlete, or a beginner or mid-packer, we were all welcomed equally.
And there was much more than just the group runs. Yoga, Pilates, running posture & technique sessions were all included. And close to hand were tennis courts, horse riding, bike hire, gym, outdoor pool, indoor pool, sauna & Jacuzzi.
There were also evening seminars with a range of speakers.
These presenters included Mike G, GB coach Nick Anderson & Tom Craggs of RunningWithUs, and ex European 5000m champion & coach Bruce Tulloh.
We learned about nutrition, the impact of alcohol on training (oops), how to best execute interval training, and how it was done by Bruce in the good old days. (He must be doing something right – he’s still running strong at 80!)
But, for me, the outstanding highlight of the week was a gripping and awe-inspiring presentation from motivational speaker Luke Wigman.
As the softly spoken, unassuming, ex RAF paratrooper shared his story, the room was silenced. In fact, as I write, I feel I’m doing Luke a disservice by summarising his experience in just a few lines.
But, in brief, our newfound friend had previously thought he’d reached his running peak with a 10k time of around 40 minutes. He went to Afghanistan to fight for his country, stepped on a bomb, blew his leg off, spent months in rehab having to learn to walk again, and has since shaved a further 6 minutes off his 10k PB… it’s now down to 34 minutes.
Not only that, since the incident in Afghanistan, he has finished second in both the North Pole Marathon and the Antarctic Ice Marathon, and has won Gold for GB in the 1500m at the Invictus Games.
Luke currently awaits an official announcement of the GB team for the 2016 Invictus Games, which takes place in Florida. But, having won his trials in both the 400m and 1500m, it’s looking good! In mid-May this year we’ll no doubt all be glued to our TVs.
The message of Luke’s speech – don’t set yourself limits! It’s amazing what you can achieve if you set your mind to it.
Never again will I complain about a blister on my toe!
Much of Luke’s racing now is done in conjunction with raising funds for the Royal Airforce Benevolent Fund as a way of thanking them for all the help he’s received…
So, that was Algarve 2016.
We’ll be heading there again this time next year.
Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like details of the 2017 trip, and book your flights early before prices go up!
By Mike Bannister