Back in 2012, Mountain runner and BHR patient Peter Bell wrote a blog about his many sporting successes, including completing the 2011 Everest Marathon. Peter has sent us the following update on his achievements since then…
For 2013, my choice of marathon (off road/mountain/trail) was to be the Swiss Alpine which is the highest mountain marathon in Europe, with its highest point approximately 9000ft above sea level making it the most demanding mountain run in the Alps. It was to be my fourth marathon of the 7 continents of the grand slam, and my second with my new resurfaced hip. To date I have run the North Pole Marathon, Antarctic Ice Marathon and Everest Marathon (my first on Mr McMinn’s resurfaced left hip).
Just a couple of weeks prior to this marathon I got news that my brother, who retired early from the prison service due to early arthritis 5 years prior, suddenly passed away with a massive heart attack. This was a great shock for me as he was only 61, and until the last minute, I decided that I must do this run which I had spoke to him only days prior about. Like me he was a runner who had 30 plus marathons completed until he had to have a complete knee replacement in his early 50′s.
So off I went to Davos a few days early to get up those hills and get used to the altitude. Race day came and I can honestly say I do not think I could ever repeat the performance I put in that day. I was thinking of my brother through that race, totally focused on every stride, almost in a daze, running with eyes partially closed as I do. Even at the 20 mile mark I was not slowing, then seeing distance posts to the finish, running through undulating forest trails, pace getting faster till crossing the line in super time.
The last 10 km just went on forever – at 4km to go I had to control pace as I wanted a good finish. At this point it was just a steady pace, only pushing if I saw a runner in front slowing and passing to gain a place. Ah! Coming out of the forest and into town, now running on Tarmac with plenty of spectators waving – I can hardly see them, focused on that finish line with my pace getting faster, I see the stadium ahead. With all my strength I pace myself to the finish line, crossing in 267th place out of over 1000 runners of all age groups – and 36th place in the vet group. My McMinn hip was all good and I was just so relieved. The next day prior to my departure I spent some quality just walking in the parks, amazed at how good my resurfaced hip felt and just enjoying this time and planning my next adventure.
Later in the year I travelled to the Czech Republic to the Janske Lazne World Masters Championships with a team from North and South Ireland to compete in a 9km uphill mountain race. These races are so intense as it is flat out from the start line – there’s no downhill or level terrain here. I completed this race in a respectable time, coming in around the middle of the vet group.
To complete the year I finished my last local mountain race in October and won my vet group. This last race gave me enough points to win the Grand Prix Championship vets, this now being the 3rd year in a row. This completed our season for 2013 and once again I have to report that my resurfaced hip performed fantastic.
In June 2014 I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, cycled a bike marathon mostly uphill, and ran the marathon. I was fourth in the marathon and collected the triathlon trophy as I completed all three events in one week and was first in the bike race. I was by far the oldest competitor in this competition so was very pleased with my performance, and this is now five marathons (off road) in five continents completed. That’s three with my resurfaced hip!
At prize giving night for the Kilimanjaro event, an email from the Northern Ireland Mountain Running Association confirmed an offer for me to represent Northern Ireland in vet category at Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs. To be quite honest, this is probably one of the best highlights of my running career. I felt proud with a great sense of achievement, and anxious as I just had to perform. For a mountain runner, this is one of the top events in the world. The numbers read: summit 14,150 feet above sea level and a distance of 13 miles, ALL uphill!!
I travelled out a couple of days before the rest of the team as it is so important for me to survey the course prior to racing on it. For the older athlete this is a priority, so we can pace the race in order to have enough left to finish and possibly a bit more. I’m glad I did as at just over 10,000ft, as the altitude effects were kicking in, I had two very tender Achilles’ tendons. Almost afraid to take a peak, as it was late in the day and time wasn’t there – there are thunder storms at this time of year – I just made for summit becoming more nauseous as I gained altitude. I finally made it; tired, very cold and two very sore Achilles’ tendons.
This practice ascent was made on the Wednesday, with race day the following Saturday. This gave me some time to recover, sort out some shoes with heel risers and just rest up. The rest of team arrived that night and I took them to start area on the Thursday and they had a 2 hour run, without me of course!
On race morning I did my usual warm-up alone and at my pace, as I find it important to start off very slow – fast walking and lunges – and then on to the start line. I was mentally prepared, I knew what was ahead of me and I set off steady. Around the half way point I knew I was making good time and was catching runners as I ascended. I came upon a couple of local American runners whom I overheard were on target for a sub 4 hour time. From then on I basically just tried to keep with them, totally focused and amazed my resurfaced hip was feeling so good. At 12,000ft I was swaying a bit but held the pace to finish in a fabulous time of 3hrs 50min. I was estimated to run this in around 4hrs 30mins. I was over the moon and proud to have performed well for the team.
There were around 1800 runners of all age groups, and I came in the first fifth overall, 13th place in vet group and time wise so close to picking up a medal. This was an unreal experience and one I will never forget.
Prior to this event I travelled with my son to Iceland for a long weekend tracking. On one of the days we walked to the Suourland area, up to the glaciers and to the volcano that blew all the ash and dust a couple of years back.A couple of weeks later it’s off to the World Masters – short distance, running for team Ireland. These races are almost all uphill, very steep and it’s flat out from the start till you cross the finish line. These are my favourite type of race and cause my hip no issues, and of course a good long warm up essential at my own pace. I completed this 7.2km uphill race in just over 59 minutes coming in 46th place from a group of 70. The standard was very high and I was happy with my performance – second place UK vet! Once again my resurfaced hip performed faultlessly.
The World Masters brings my season to an end, it has been a great year of athletic performances and as I also turned 60 this year, I am sure I will reflect on these experiences for some time to come. It was also my sixth anniversary of my new resurfaced hip. The decision to have this procedure was one of the best decisions of my life. The hip progressively felt better and stronger as time went on and seemed to stabilise after the three year mark. It’s like having an implanted tooth – after a few years you can hardly tell the difference between it and your real teeth. So it is with Mr McMinn’s resurfaced hip. Simply a great job! And I have tested it probably more than most.
As it so happens I shall be seeing Mr McMinn soon as my other hip is close to the stage of requiring resurfacing. In fact I have got a referral to see him from my GP. I have been aware of a problem for a couple of years now, but as the symptoms were quite a bit different it fooled me for some time. My left hip under loading basically led to quite severe groin pain, whereas my right hip has ache and dull pain in buttock. Knowing how well my resurfacing has performed, I have not been too worried about it.