We’re Newton Ambassadors for Europe 2017!

We’re hugely excited to announce that both Leah and I have been selected by Newton Running to be Ambassadors for Europe 2017!

I’ve been running in Newtons for many years, from when they were first released and switched to marathon running in them from 2012 onwards. When Leah started distance running I convinced her to try them over her traditional shoe and she’s never looked back since. They have changed our form, efficiency and helped to keep us injury free. We couldn’t be more proud to be Ambassadors for a brand that we truly believe in and a product that has allowed us to run marathons all over the world, including for every marathon of our 50 States in under 4 hours quest.

We’re always happy to talk about the shoes, the running form, what cadence is and steps per minute. Just ask!

We have gradually changed our running style from a heel strike, the most common form of running, to a mid/forefoot form, aiming for a cadence of 180 steps per minute. We’re still not perfect but we keep improving in every run. Our Newtons have a 2.0 or 3.0 mm heel-to-toe drop which feels more natural than a built-up shoe and allows for a more efficient running form.

For more info (and a good animation), see:
http://www.newtonrunning.com/run-better/form and

As Ambassadors we look forward to sharing news of the latest products and reviews of the 2017 models of shoes. If you’re at any races and spot us in our Newton gear, come and say hello!

Also follow us on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/pipespj/ and

Prairie Fire Marathon – October 2015


This was our last State to clean up before the big number 50. An oversight regarding the existence of different time zones and their boundaries made for a tense 7 hour drive out there. On the return journey our desire to get back home in time for dinner saw us miss the award ceremony and Leah’s trophy. However I did discover air-conditioned seating and now my life, and car experiences, will never be the same. Full write-up.

London Marathon #oneinamillion Campaign

Virgin London Marathon 2016 – Top 10 Tips and Best Advice

This year will be my 9th London Marathon and no matter how many other races I run, it never loses its magic. As one of the six World Marathon Majors and arguably one of the greatest marathons in the World, it holds something for everyone. There are a lot of good articles out there with general tips on running a marathon, covering training, mental preparation, etc, but here are my Top 10 Tips specific to the London Marathon event itself which I’ve discovered over the years.

1) Leave Plenty of Time

Although this applies to many marathons it is especially true for London. You don’t want to start your race off stressed and things will take longer on race morning. If you’re coming in to one of London’s main stations, such as Waterloo, even though you might be on the platform for your connection to Blackheath/Greenwich/Maze Hill (and make sure you know which of those 3 stations you should go to), you may have to wait for 1 or 2 trains to arrive and leave before there’s space for you to get on one. Once you begin the walk up to the starting pens you might stop for pictures with the official photographers and once inside the pens you’ll need time to stow your kit bag and line up for the toilets, at least twice.

London Marathon 2011: Getting in to the Red Start

London Marathon 2011: Getting in to the Red Start

Depending on your love for social media, also add on the time you know you need for multiple selfies, checking in on Facebook, sending out a #oneinamillion tweet, experimenting with filters for your Instagram post, sending out a Snapchat snap, deciding whether you should get into Google+ and reminiscing on why you were forced to be friends with Tom on MySpace.

2) Print Your Name on Your Vest

Having your name or nickname on your vest for London is a great idea if you like crowd support. People will shout out encouragement to you personally which can give you a real boost particularly later on in the race. If you feel like you just want to hide for a while then you can move to the middle of the road and when you’re ready for some more cheering gradually work your way back out to one side. There’s also the possibility that at some point in the race you’ll forget who you are and why you’re doing this. Looking down at your vest will yield the answer to one of those questions. If you’re wearing a charity vest then you’ll know both.

Feeling the pain at 22 miles

London Marathon 2011 – the confusion sets in

3) Avoid Zig Zag Temptations

The gun goes off, you shuffle towards the start line, the adrenaline kicks in and when you finally begin you suddenly feel like Road Runner escaping Wile Coyote. The only trouble is everyone else is holding you up and going too slow. I’ve made this mistake, you zig around some people, then zag around the next lot, then you’re on the wrong side of the road for the corner and your pacing is everywhere. All the zig zagging adds extra distance onto your run; I’ve finished with a total of 26.84 miles on my GPS watch before. Over half a mile of extra running is typically going to add 4 – 5 minutes to your finishing time, depending on your pace, and even if you aren’t going for a time it’s still half a mile extra to cover. As tempting as it is to get around everyone, it’s much better to maintain a steady pace as covering 26.2 miles is enough! At London they paint a series of 3 blue lines on the road which show the exact 26.2 mile route.


4) Soak Up The Atmosphere

My biggest London Marathon regret was a year I tried to go for a fast time, realised early on that it wasn’t going to happen and then spent the rest of the race with my head down wondering why it had all gone wrong. The atmosphere at London is incredible, the crowds get larger and louder every year and there is barely any part of the course that isn’t lined with cheering supporters. Keep your head up, look around and take it all in. If you’re a runner with headphones, I’d advise trying to run without them and see how you get on or at least turn them down a bit or pause the music for periods. I’ll often run with my iPod in my pocket so I can bring it out if things get too painful, but try to be present in the moment taking in the full experience.

Just happy to be in the event

London Marathon 2008: A knee injury ruled out the time I wanted but I loved every second of the atmosphere

5) Spot Those BBC Cameras

Keep an eye out for people overhead on cranes with large video cameras, that’s the BBC recording their footage. Or possibly overly enthusiastic builders. Wave your arms, leap around, stick close to that crazy person in fancy dress – anything to try to get noticed. One of the spots you’ll always find them, aside from the start, is just before you turn right to run around the Cutty Sark. This is shortly after the 6 mile mark and just past the 10km section. You should still have plenty of energy for a jump at this point.


Also be sure to set your satellite/cable box to record the various programmes so that you can watch them back to try to spot yourself:
Sunday 24th – BBC 1 – 8:30am = London Marathon Live Coverage
Sunday 24th – BBC 2 – 1:30pm = London Marathon Live Coverage (continued)
Sunday 24th – BBC 2 – 6:00pm = London Marathon Highlights

If you don’t manage to get on TV don’t be surprised. The only year I’ve managed it was by wearing this, and even then it was only for a brief second:

London Marathon 2014: TV ready?

London Marathon 2014: TV ready?

There we are, just appearing in the bottom right of the screen before the live broadcast ended!

There we are, just appearing in the bottom right of the screen before the live broadcast ended!

6) Be Careful at Aid Stations

The London Marathon uses water and Lucozade in plastic bottles. These have the advantage over cups in that you can run with them for a while and also when you go to take a sip you don’t end up with it all over your face. The downside is the litter and hazards they can create. The volunteers do a fantastic job, but it’s impossible for them to clear bottles at the rate runners are throwing them down. Always try to throw your bottle away towards the edge of the road, many people will just drop them wherever they are and the road ends up full of them.

Bottles which have had the lid closed shut will not crumple if you land on them, so watch those ankles, and bottles with the lids open will shoot like water cannons when someone else’s foot crushes them. Lucozade during the race is great, Lucozade blasted into your legs by the person next to you and now dripping down into your socks is not so fun.

My best advice would be to grab your water / Lucozade bottle then just keep running until you clear the aid station. You want to get out of that area as soon as possible and not be trying to drink while you can’t look down at where you’re stepping. Once you’re clear, drink your drink, whether you walk (at the side) or keep running.

7) Look out for Your Charity Cheer Stations

If you’re running for a particular charity and wearing their charity vest, be sure to keep an eye out for their official cheer stations along the course. Hopefully they will have told you the spots where they’ll be. It’s worth planning ahead to make sure you’re on the right side of the road as you approach them, you don’t want to have to dart all the way across the road (see tip #3). Once they spot your vest they’ll erupt in the loudest cheers.

8) Prepare for Tower Bridge

Just after 12 miles you’ll approach a right turn which then leads over the length of Tower Bridge. This is one of the most amazing experiences of the race. If you have headphones in at this point take them out. No, seriously. The thousands of runner’s feet hitting the bridge sounds like a huge drum roll and it means the crowd has to be even louder to be heard over it. It’s an explosion of sound and crowd support from both sides, charity supporters in particular are going wild. It’s also a spectacular view crossing Tower Bridge and looking up at the towers and across at the Tower of London. For a few minutes you’ll even forget to breathe.

Tower Bridge

CC image “Tower Bridge” courtesy of Chris Isherwood

9) Use the Tunnels to Your Advantage

There are a few dark tunnels on the course and these are a rare spot where there won’t be supporters around. Some people use these to take a much needed walking break, a lot of the time to keep up momentum runners will sing the Oggy Oggy Oggy chant which echos through the length of the tunnel. If you get there and no-one is chanting, then start your own one off with “Oggy Oggy Oggy!”, you’ll feel great when everyone shouts back “Oi Oi Oi!”. In recent years they’ve also started putting toilets and men’s urinals inside the tunnels, although as it’s dark these always look pitch black to me. Maybe a good time to stop, perhaps not. Sometimes the advantage of no toilet queue trumps the downside of no vision.

As a side note while talking about traditions in the London Marathon, just before the 3 mile marker the blue & green start runners will meet the red start runners on the other side of the road before everyone merges shortly after that. Expect some jeering and booing from either side, all in good humour of course!

10) Choose Your Finishing Gates Wisely

If it’s your first time running the London Marathon you may not realise that there are 3 separate finishing gates in a line at the end: left, middle, right.


CC image “The finish” courtesy of Chris Isherwood

You’re free to run through whichever one you wish, and believe me I know that by this point logic and sense are usually emotions you’ve had to ditch 6 miles ago. However, if you can force your mind to make one final decision try to go for the gate that looks the least crowded or the one that less people are currently heading towards. It will make your finishing picture much better and with the added bonus that if you collapse you’re less likely to be trampled by everyone else. Or have another sweaty runner collapse on top of you. There is, of course, plenty of medical staff to ensure this doesn’t happen.

It’s also worth a quick look over your shoulder to make sure you aren’t going to regret who you finished with. There’s nothing worse than your proudest moment and pinnacle of your athletic prowess being captured in time just as you get pipped to the finish by a guy in a rhino costume.

A moment I'll never forget

London Marathon 2009: A busy finish

Absolutely thrilled to run London in a 3:3x time

London Marathon 2015: Found a quieter finishing gate



One final note, this year the London Marathon are encouraging everyone to cross the line with their finger up to signify being 1 finisher of a million, as the millionth runner will cross the line during the race.


Good Luck Everyone!

If you've run the London Marathon before, check out the official website where you can order your customized t-shirt with your own finishing number

If you’ve run the London Marathon before, check out the official website where you can order your customised #oneinamillion t-shirt with your own finishing place number starting from the first person to cross the line in 1981 to the last in 2015


Let us know if these tips helped or if you have own to add. Although the form requires it, your e-mail address won’t be displayed in the comment. If you’d still prefer not to include it just make one up!

Southern Tennessee Marathon – October 2015


Marathon #77 & #67, and our 49th US State. Unfortunately we got rained on in this one! Not the funny, warm rain of Kentucky but the cold “I’m really freezing but still have 3 hours to go” rain of Tennessee. Despite this it was a good event run by a very friendly race director. We met some great runners to chat with while the miles went by and we got our 49th State completed. The write-up can be found here.

Madison Garden Marathon – September 2015


Where did that Personal Record come from?? Particularly being part of another consecutive streak of marathons in 2015, this time the 6th in 6 weeks. I came away with a new PR of 3:23:56 and Leah came away with $200 prize money for her placing. I guess we were both happy. I also got to meet and Leah got to see some of her extended family some of whom she hadn’t seen in years. Full race recap here.

Bismarck Marathon – September 2015


You guessed it, another State repeat. In fact for this one it was our only exact race event repeat. For States we had to repeat we’ve always tried to choose a different race, but for North Dakota there aren’t a lot of options. We went back to Bismarck and tried to replicate our finishing picture exactly 1 year on.. but not replicate our last finishing time! Full details of how we got on are here.

Fall Classic Loveland Marathon – September 2015


After returning from a holiday/vacation the night before, we realised we could fit in a marathon the very next morning. So why not?! We signed up last minute for another repeat State. We ended up missing the start, running off into the mountains in the dark and we had our bag lost with our car keys. Drama from beginning to end but looking back on it we can laugh… now. Race report online here.

News: 50 Marathons in 50 States in under 4 hours: Complete!


We did it !!!!!!!

On Sunday, October 18, 2015 we crossed the finish line at the Grand Rapids Marathon in Michigan in 3 hours 35 minutes to complete a double goal: running a full marathon in all 50 US States and also running them all in under 4 hours each. We joined the ranks of the 1,200 finishers in the 50 States Marathon Club and became only the 73rd and 74th people to manage to complete the challenge of running them each in under 4 hours, joining the finishers list in the 50 Sub 4 Marathon Club.

If that wasn’t amazing enough, Leah broke the record as the youngest female to run 50 sub 4!

Then on Sunday, November 15, 2015 we went on to complete the tough Myles Standish Marathon in Massachusetts, which was the only State we had run as part of our 50 sub 4 challenge prior to getting married. By repeating the State of Massachusetts we became the first ever married couple to run all 50 States in under 4 hours.

We’re over the moon and can’t quite believe we’ve achieved a goal that’s been set every day in our minds for the last 3 years, one which at times also seemed unreachable by the point at which we wanted to complete it. We still have a few more marathon race reports to upload to the site, but we are excited about sharing our experience on what it was like to finish the challenge when we upload the Grand Rapids write-up. Stay tuned and we’ll have it up as soon as we can.

We want to say a huge thanks to family, friends, random strangers we’ve met along the way, people who became friends in various marathons in different States and to everyone that reads our blog and posts comments either here or on Facebook. Your support has kept us going and your comments have driven us to keep trying to inspire. We’ve met some fantastic people on our journey and it wouldn’t have been the same without you.

We’ve been asked a lot, “what’s next?”. Well we have some ideas, so stay tuned for those too.. 🙂


Aruba Turibana 10k – September 2015


We couldn’t go on holiday and not find a run to do! Not a marathon, but a nice 10k to start off the holiday, which is always good to use as an excuse to eat and drink as much of whatever you want from there on. There weren’t many tourists taking part but we managed to scoop a trophy each to take home with us. A small write-up can be found over here.