Sunday, 24 November 2013

inov8's or Walshes...

Ultra Tour de Matlock Bath : Just !

4,500ft of climbing don't sound too much. 29 miles doesn't sounds THAT silly. Do em both locally round Belper though and those slippy slidy muddy climbs will always ensure you finish absolutely exhausted! 

I like to sling this one in over the winter for several reasons. Firstly, it's a stunning route - loads of top local viewpoints. Secondly, it's from my front door - no petrol. Thirdly, it's a good test piece just to see how tired I am running up the final hill through Nether Heage.

Yesterday was a bit more of a challenge though. Ever since last Sunday's lakes run in my new inov8's I've been getting very very bad heel pain. Tuesday and Wednesday I was unable to walk normally. This did get slightly better during the week to a point on Saturday where I hardly noticed it, so I thought I'd go for it anyway. I was opting to run in my usual Walshes as I never get pain in those.  Sadly, leaving my front door and running down the terrace was substantially trickier than I'd hoped for. It was a shuffly hobble at best. What now ? Well, I never like to give up without a proper battle, so thought I'd start off on the route and see how it was at the top of Alport Heights. As it happened, only Andy turned out and seeing as his van was dropped in Matlock Bath ready for halfway rendezvous, I felt obliged to navigate him to his van at least ! 

After about 30 mins the pain had eased a fair bit. Thankfully, the lack of any training in the week meant my legs were fully charged, with the first proper food around Hearthstone lane (20 mile mark 3.5hours). This was an unusual feeling, but one I might try in the future - even the Fellsman, I think I train on the Thursday before the race on the Saturday - probably not wise after how good my legs felt with a week off.

Overall a great day out, Andy certainly enjoyed the first half, but as it's hard all the way through this route - found it hard going not surprisingly ! Moving time was 4h50 and I certainly wasn't pushing it. 

This now means that I've potentially got a pair of fell shoes which are of no use. I'll try them again in a month or so for 2-3 hours, but frustrating to say the least...

5h Coniston to Ambleside Run : Lads weekend

Last weekend was our second annual winter weekend away in the Lakes. Returning to Coniston, mainly due to the YHA and the decent selection of pubs more than anything else ! It was great to meet up and have a good ole chin wag, but it's always a balancing act between too much beer on Saturday night and the quality of the run on Sunday too !

Thankfully, neither were compromised this year and after too many beers on Sat night, I headed up into the gloomy murk hanging over the lakes last Sunday. Picking small trods up Wetherlam, the going was good training. Sadly, the descent off NNE was very slippery on rocks so I was reduced to less than a walk. Over Blea Tarn, up to Stickly Ghyll, up to near Seargent Man, then down Blea Rigg to what I thought would have been Elterwater kind of area. Sadly, I'd headed too far left, so was surprised to see the far end of Grasmere lake which meant another mile or so. Legs felt great so that wasn't really a problem. Met up with the others in the best tea shop in Ambleside by a mile - Rattle Gill.  I had the best salad (yes, salad) I've ever had along with the most chocolatey Rocky Road ever too. What a top spot. Run was just under 20 miles and 5,000ft, but due to the slippy nature felt a lot more. Shoes were fine ... ON THE RUN. Read onto next blogpost to find the sting in the tail of my new inov8's...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Inov8 Trailroc 255 vs Walshes - Initial Impressions

I think I've always run in Walshes - they were the first fell shoes I owned way back in about 1999. Since then, I've tried Inov8's (a very very early model which I never wore), Mizuno and Adidas and never found any of them outstanding.

The thing I love about the Walshes is how you can easily get them resoled at Pete Bland for £30. I've had some Walsh uppers go through about 4 soles before I've had to buy a new pair of shoes

Over the last few months though I've done a couple of long runs in Snowdonia and couldn't help but think that I needed a little more cushioning around all those rocks. My feet felt especially battered after Saul and me did the 10h jaunt back in August. So, last weekend on the way to the Lakes, we popped into those very nice folk at Accelerate in Sheffield which is just off J34 of the M1. Accelerate was I think recently voted the UK's no1 running shop and for good reason - massses of shoes and some gear - generally focused on the outdoors, but also touching on road and track. Last time I was there I went up specifically for my New Balance Minimus minimal trail shoes which I've loved from day 1.

This time's visit was no less successful. Although I didn't get to use them in the lakes last weekend, I've given them a thorough session yesterday and today clocking up just under 4 hours in them.

Initial impressions in comparison to the Walshes
Note that all these comments refer to the Inov8's without their footbeds in.

Heel to Toe Drop - feels better than I expected - very akin to Walshes. These are stated as 6mmdrop but I'm not sure what Walshes are. These certainly do not tend to heel strike.

Resistance to Rocks - Proved very good and the main characteristic I'm looking for in this shoe. Quarry trails with rubbled descents weren't even noticed.

Stability - No issues again although not properly tested. I expect them to have better side stability than Walshes as they are wider. I struggle in walshes with rolling over sideways on my ankles, so am keen to find out how these turn out.

Grip - Muddy descents were in abundance this weekend and these only faultered on stuff that Walshes would have come unstuck on. Generally good, but I need to test them on rocks more.

Feeling Fast - More padding under foot than walshes and at the end of both runs I felt springy despite no food. I've not run for nearly two weeks, so neither shoe was actually fast in practice! I love walshes and they feel great in short fast stuff. It remains unclear for now whether I'd go for the Inov8's when running down the running track over the Walshes. At this moment - I wouldn't.

Ultra Running - I expect the underfoot cushioning and rock protection to prove superior on the Inov8's when your feet really do get a battering and you can barely walk to the car afterwards.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Monsal Head Hill Climb

Enjoyed spectating so much last year, we thought we'd do it again!
Good 15 mile run before breakfast meant that I earned my beers in Monsal Head. Lovely weather again and fantastic atmosphere.

Pleased with how these B&W shots turned out

Paddy Buckley Reccy : Aberglaslyn to Llanberis

9am heading up Bryn Banog
After our day in Snowdonia in August, I thought it was about time I explored the Welsh hills a little more - after all they are around 1hr quicker to get to than the lakes and about the same as the Dales.

We set off from Nantmor at 825am quickly hitting bog and tussock. The weather was fabulous though despite a very strong wind, with views through a rising sun to Cnicht and the Moelwyns which will be the scene of future escapades I feel.

The hills over this leg were lovely and wild with a few areas of mining. We only saw one group of ramblers until we got to the Nantlle ridge which is always going to be popular..
Graham pointing out a cloud.
Saul pretending to listen
We all found the climb up to Craig Wen tough - with hindsight my probably was my new fuel for the day - Maltloaf which - although it is continuous longer term energy release - was not what my body was used to. After Snowdon I switched back to Mars Bars and low and behold I felt normal for the second half of that leg.

Only major nav hiccup of the day was as we were enjoying the descent off Yr Aran before Snowdon, we completely missed the turn off left which meant a traverse on hands and knees to recover our path. One to remember for next time...

All that was left then was the worst descent off a mountain I've ever done (including years of Scottish stuff!) to pick up my bike for the cycle back to the car. I got to within 1/4 mile of the bike easily, but was faced with steep crags, waterfalls, gorse and brambles to get there. Not ideal ! Graham and Saul took a direct line to Petes eats which seemed a far better alternative end to the day !

Graham asked me if I'd consider doing the Paddy - well, I can't rule it out but at this point, it's just great to have some long days in the hills exploring new paths and hills. The scenery is great, but it's not the lakes so even though the lakes are more beautiful, the Welsh hills offer more wild running, which I must confess I love even though my feet don't today!

Stile near the end of the Snowdon leg
6h10 mins moving time, 10,000ft ascent and 9hrs total time. A great day out
our gpx file - follow with caution !

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Allestree Park Cyclocross, Round 5

Another weekend and another local cross race in great weather.
I did this course two years ago in the scorching heat and thankfully it wasn't that bad today.
Similar course including more rooty stuff in the woods. Nice n fast and worked hard all the way round finishing in 17th in the Vets / Womens race completing 7 laps.
The above shot is courtesy of this very nice video from local guy Peter Hetter

Monday, 30 September 2013

Shipley Park Cyclocross Round 4

That's why I love Cyclocross!
Brilliant circuit, brilliant conditions and totally spent at the end !

Not ridden at Shipley before, so we all headed down in the Campervan despite Teresa feeling worse for wear after the previous night out in Derby. Poor Lewis had a great U9 circuit, but took a corner too sharp and came off on loose gravel twice.  The second time his chainset ring protectors completely disintegrated making it very tricky to get the chain off but we managed in the end so at least he could muck around with Oli.

My lap looked to suit me - fast and hilly with only a few twists and what a great race it was. Probably my favourite course so far. I finished higher than normal coming in 19th out of 130 odd. A great day all in.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Stanage Struggle Fell Race

First race in a while.

Although the Blogs been empty, there's still be a decent level of low level activity kicking off - Sunday morning runs, zero carbs runs and last weekends aborted Lake District Mountain Trial, not aborted until 30 mins after it was due to start ! Never mind, still got 4.5hrs in.

Never done the Struggle, but always wanted to, so when Martin at work reminded me it was on, Saturday's CX race was quickly replaced in the diary with this beauty. And what a corker it was too !  9.9km in a bit over 47 mins, steady climb then steady descent - well, as steady as you can get at race pace with max HR ! Lost a couple of places on the run to High Neb, then lost another 2 places on the descent. But it was worth it - the views were just to die for on a perfect September day in the Peaks in my favourite location.

32nd out of 322 so another result pretty much bang on the Top 10% mark !

The race was topped off by spending the rest of the day around there in the Campervan with Teresa and Lewis with lunch at the Pool Cafe in Hathersage - top cheap food, perfect for cyclists and runners.

If only all days were just half this good.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Britain's Most Southerly 21 mile run.

Whilst down in Cornwall on The Lizard, I snook in this beautiful 21 mile jaunt round the South West Coastal Path running from Coverack in the East to Church Cove in the West. A fantastic route in glorious weather - so glorious in fact that I ran out of Water and Food, only to be rescued by the lovely Porthmellin Tea Rooms at Mullion Cove. Also ran this in my minimal New Balance shoes - was a little harsh on the feet and is certainly the furthest I've ever run in them. Luckily the harsh rocky terrain was mainly in the first half, so my feet at least had a break over the 2nd half.

Strava link here

South West Coast Path - View North from between Kynance Cove and Lizard Point

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Snowdonia 30 mile, 10 hours

Descending off Craig Llugwy (Carneddau)
After Saturday's Long Tour of Bradwell my legs were very tired and achy - simply not doing anything long for many months meant it hurt. A lot.  What I'd not completely worked through in my head was that Saul and me were trying to fit in a Welsh Run in between his work stuff, my work stuff, his childcare, my childcare, annual leave and other halves and the only day we could both do was Monday - two days after.

Saul knows the Welsh 1,000m peaks well and apparently Glyder Fach has recently been reclassified up so it too is now a 1,000m peak. The Welsh 1,000m peaks race does them in a relatively obvious line but we needed to link them up in a day starting and finishing at the same point. Looking at the route with hindsight, I think starting and finishing at the same point adds at least another big climb (we basically climbed the Glyders twice) but makes it a whole deal more simple not having to worry about shuttling cars / logistics.

Route below and thanks again to Saul for putting together a great route. One which I'll probably repeat sometime. Visibility on the tops was poor. Light winds all day with light showers. The descent off Craig Llugwy was iffy (the one in the shot above). We descended too far to the left (we were just enjoying easy running!) and had a big contour. Think we lost a stack of time there. Crib Goch was also a slow option as was Garnedd Ugain on the way to Snowdon Summit, but hey you can't come to Snowdonia without doing Crib Goch !

Starting Nant Peris (far left), going Clockwise

View towards Llyn Bochlwyd from the Gribin Ridge

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Long Tour of Bradwell 2013, 33 miles 6300ft, 5h42

Quite easy to see where the 6300ft is made up really...
Really enjoyed this local Fell Ultra last year, so it was always on the calendar for this year. Not that that makes it a 'season long race goal' or owt, it just means a couple of 5 mile races to loosen the legs up might be required.

I don't think I've done anything over 12 miles since Saul n Graham's BGR back in May, but as with all these Ultras - the distance seems to stay in your legs you just need to top the speed up.

Weather on the day was great but I don't know whether it was due to a cold I had or not, but I've never sweated like that before in a race - so I knew topping up on water all day long was absolutely essential. As it happened, a full bottle at each water stop wasn't enough and I had to top up from a tap and a stream too on the route round.

I also tried Torq Sundried Banana Bars * 6 to keep me fuelled up. Sadly, after 2 I couldn't really stomach any more so struggled to get em down. Think I'll stick to the Mars Bars next time.

Pacing was spot on all day - no highs and no lows. Well, Stanage was a low but it always is. Burbage finished me off but it always does and got the right line through Lawrencefield this year. Finished quite well up through Abney too and down and into Bradwell.

Can't argue with 3 mins quicker than last year. Good to see Dan a couple of miles from the end - surprised he even turned up after the L100 a few weeks back! Adam ran well too finishing 6 mins ahead of me - pity he took a wrong turn round Burbage otherwise he'd have been 10mins + up. Conditions were spot on really all day despite me losing several gallons of sweat!

Think I was 12th overall out of about 100 and 3rd V40. A very high quality field it seems

Strava link here
Results here

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Chevin Fell Race, Milford 4.5 mile

Short, sharp on one of the hottest evenings of the year.
Was feeling stiff and achy for no real reason and didn't really run that well (nutrition I think with hindsight).
Still a nice evening with Ian and Jack finishing just behind me...
Field seemed a bit thin on the ground - presumably the heat put some off, oh and I think it was Brassington Fell Race too.

BDL Summer League Race, Shipley, 6:20/mile 356ft

Around 2 years ago, this was probably the worst I've ever run, at Shipley.
Put the demons to bed tonight - ran well, felt comfortable and felt better on the second half, finishing 29th out of about 300 I think just behind Matt and just ahead of young Ben. Nice pint at the end in The Royal Oak too, so all in all a good night. 6:20 min/mile pace according to Strava but I reckon it's just under 6:10 min/mile if it's 5.2 miles.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Peak Epic Sportive, 4,000m / 12,800ft, 3rd

Starting / Finishing Bakewell (bottom right) anticlockwise encompassing most peak district climbs!
I entered this one as I enjoy climbing on my bike. At 4,000m of climb, Peak Epic is up there with the hilliest 100 milers in the country. No specific training and probably 6 years since I did my only other sportive so I was unsure of how fast people would be riding. At the start I was mindful that getting in with a group would be good both for motivation and pace.

Gloomy skies, rain for the first 5 hours and almost dangerous gusts of wind up on the Cat n Fiddle road, this ride could have been a complete nightmare. Thankfully, my legs were going very well all day, thanks mainly due to the very well stocked food points - stocking Torq gels and bars which I love. Rode most of the rise solo really and felt strong at the finish finishing in 7h35.

Having done both the Fred Whitton and this, I think Fred Whitton has got the harder climbs (well, Hard Knott really!) but this is just constant climbing - virtually all on small unclassified roads so the road surfaces here are poorer and slower.

A great event that I'd recommend - well signed and great food stops!

Results here
Strava link here

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Mountain Mayhem 2013, Gatcombe Park

This was my first Mountain Mayhem and the first at this new venue. Overall, it was a great weekend - the weather wasn't bad, the company was good and the course was ok.

Putting on a course for 1000's of people to ride continually over 24hours is hard - unless it's a trail centre type surface, it's never gonna hold up under poor weather.

There's been lots of debate over on the STW Forum in the days since with people saying that there was ;

* Not enough Singletrack
* Not enough techy stuff
* Too many hard climbs

but for me, it was a course you could race hard, there was lots of chances to overtake, some bits which required thought and the climbs were great! The red bull timed section was the icing on the cake. Night laps too were an absolute pleasure as they were a few years back at Newcastleton 24. The course takes on a tranquil air that I really enjoy. Perhaps next year, they could make a few of the longer sections more all weather somehow ?

Results here for Sports Mixed with my times between 44 mins and 53 mins.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

BDL Summer League Race, Denby 6:05/mile 234ft

For the first time ever, I (almost) enjoyed a road race!  Set off slower again, then picked it up slowly in the second half. Well, I didn't really pick it up, just didn't slow down. 25th out of 275. 6:05/mile

Full results here
Strava link here

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Tansley Fell Race 2013

Perfect weather this year - stark contrast to last year's torrential downpours.  Really enjoyed this one again.

I'd ran Dave Denton's Shining Cliffs race on Sunday and I felt dreadful whilst running - legs empty, just wanting the ground to swallow me up. Sure we've all been there?? No blog post on that one as I didn't even count it as a race in the end in my head. I almost ended up walking on lap 2 of it !

Anyway, it was important that after Sunday's dismal race, I'd have a more positive race tonight. There were times on Sunday that I was thinking in my head that I'd give up racing as I clearly wasn't enjoying it any more! 

Thankfully - tonight, I corrected what went wrong on Sunday. I set off slow and got faster. Sunday I set off way too fast and just regretted every minute of the race from 10 mins in. I was clinging on but more than normal - too much.

Setting off steady worked. I was very comfortable up the first big climb until it flattened out and then steepened again - I carried on steady there too. Completely out of character as I can only normally do flatout uphills - but good. After hammering it last year after the stream crossing (as I wrongly thought we were near the top !) I just went steady and as it happened took the guy in front, concentrating on making up time / ground on the flat road section ahead. Yes, the road section was a little bit disappointing as I made up perhaps 5m on the guy in front after perhaps 1 mile so nothing spectacular really but going into the final descent I still felt comfortable. Holding off the guy behind I didn't lose or gain any places on the descent so was kinda pleased. 

The really surprising this is though that last year I thought I was in reasonable shape, running in 30m12. This year turns out I ran 29m12 - 1 minute faster. Yes, conditions were faster but I really can't believe conditions were 1 minute faster ? 9th out of 83. Results here

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Saul, Bob, Graham : 45 miles, 4400m, 16 hours!

About 5am, Blencathra. Getting the smiling out the way whilst they still can!

Saul had been planning this religiously for months. And months. Probably years knowing him.

Saul and Graham have been my main running partners over the last 5 years. Most of my epics over the years have had one or both of these guys at the middle of them. We've done Knoydart, we've done Elite Mountain Marathons. We've done many, many freezing cold winter crossings of Kinder Scout and we've done my Bob Graham. We're all there or thereabouts in our ability too (well, if Graham's having an off day!) so I wasn't going to miss out on this one hence we'd had this in the family diary for months too firmly inked in.

I kinda wished that Saul, Graham and me had all done our BG's at the same time (last year) but the practicalities of that are always gonna be hard and I just couldn't wait. Anyway, the more excuses for trips to the lakes, the better! Original plan from about Jan onwards was for Saul and Graham to both do their BG's on the same day, but with work commitments for Graham taking a recent upturn then he's had to shelve his running training. So much so that his reccie with Saul a fortnight ago saw him struggling to get round even just leg 1.

Nevertheless, Graham wasn't going to miss out on helping Saul all he could so we assembled a small team of around 4-8 of us and headed up Saturday ready for the off at 3am Sunday. I took over at Dunmail as Saul's sole support runner which was fine - I knew the route well and looked forward to Saul's better line than mine to Bowfell and off it plus the West Wall Traverse to Scafell. Well, I was meant to be sole support but Graham was enjoying the perfect weather that much and his legs felt not too shabby so he thought he'd get to Wasdale too and see how things were going. I think it was about 7 hours to Dunmail so it wasn't slow and I told Saul there and then that I thought he'd gone off to fast and had better take care. 

The climb up Steel Fell saw Saul at a low point far sooner than I'd hoped. Positive words, patience and me taking his bumbag from him saw him getting back on track by Seargent Man. This legs a killer though, so Graham and me were slightly concerned at the enormity of what lat ahead and how Saul was still not talking utter drivel as per usual. Verbal diarrhoea was back on the cards by Thurnacar Knott which was a relief for Graham and me as much as it was for Saul I'm sure !

Lines were all really good through to Scafell Pike which was covered in tourists tottering around on the boulder fields whilst we skipped past. I really enjoyed Lords Rake which was still deep in snow and all new to me. We thought the snow made it easier than the scree would have been and soon popped out about 200m from the summit of Scafell. Again, the descent line was far better than mine last year, but more importantly felt way easier on the feet despite me having a bad blister this time - I remember mine being very painful last September.

Wasdale was a pleasure. A slow one. It was great meeting Andy and Trev in the late afternoon sunshine with I think 2-3 stoves on the go and a food choice which virtually brought tears to my eyes! Saul and Graham relished a proper top up on reserves though and spent 20+ minutes drinking, slurping and chewing through masses and masses of grub.

Graham's legs were still functioning and hence it was looking more now like a double Bob Graham attempt. Yet again, the climb out of the road saw Saul at another very low point. Not the ideal time either - possibly the hardest climb on the whole round : Yewbarrow. He got it together again though just before the summit and from then on did very well throughout leg 4. By the time we'd gotten past Gable, the sun was low and the wind had picked up substantially. I knew Saul struggled with cold hands so I lent him my windproof gloves knowing that when he arrived at Honister he'd need to focus on food and not warming his hands up.

Anyway, I'd legged it down to Honister so they could get the stoves on. Graham got there 5 mins later but we still couldn't see Saul. It turned out he'd slid on his arse into a grassy gully and just fell asleep there! Semi counscious he made it to the car but we knew he was in a bad way when he arrived, struggling to stand up straight. We forced hot food down him and I told him to grab a quick 10 mins kip in the car as sitting outside was absolutely freezing by now.
Graham still managing a smile at Honister, shortly before realising it was absolutely
bloody freezing once you'd stopped running! 
Trev set off with Saul up Dale Head and Graham and me followed after he'd got his top to toe windproofs on. Thankfully, Saul had picked up once again and peaks 40,41 and 42 were despatched with relative ease - passing the "Ian Hays Slabs of Death" on the descent from the final peak to the road. Saul was now proper struggling with pain in his feet and hence descents and flats were hard to run - climbs he seemed to manage! After about 22hours and 45 mins for them (16 hours for me!) we arrived back at Keswick Moot Hall with a double Bob Graham Belper Harriers completion on our hands - Saul showing enormous personal determination to put his body through complete turmoil several times and Graham playing it relatively cool not having hardly run in the last few months! Both impressive but in their own ways.

All this on top of a weekend that saw Krish attempt a Skye Cuillin traverse (aborted due to weather) and Ian complete his London to Brighton run too.

Great training for me though, carrying lots of food and water and legs feeling comfortable all the way round. Pleased, perhaps even wetting my appetite again !

Saul's write up here
Saul, me and Graham on Pike o Stickle, Langdales

"The full works please" : At Wasdale - Thanks to Andy Rose
Skirting Yewbarrow Sunday teatime, Red Pike looming in front

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Masson Hill Fell Race

Route goes clockwise from the school, bottom right
Another local fell race I'd not tried and they don't get much more local than this - 20 mins drive to the start in Matlock Bath with Andy B giving me a lift. Ed and Sean Ollier also along from the club. New route this year which was slightly longer apparently.
I'd got a few races under my belt now this year so was confident that if Sunday's Cat n Fiddle ride was out of my legs, then I'd run ok.

Great route - straight up (really steep start), then out onto fields still climbing all the way to the trig, then down, up, down, down, down. Lovely running in light drizzle with views over to Birchover from the summit and beautiful running through the woods with Bluebells and wild garlic. 

I was 7th and I think Ed was 3rd out of about 70, so top 10%. I went off too fast up the steep start and not surprisingly was then clinging on for grim death all the way to the trigpoint! On a positive note though, I felt strong at the finish and made around 50metres up in the last half mile. Given another climb I'd have caught Ed (erm, maybe!). Really enjoyed the race - such a hard beautiful white peak route.

Results here.
3rd, 7th, 12th and 16th for Belper Harriers

Thursday, 16 May 2013

BDL Summer League Race, Ilkeston 5:58/mile

First BDL in around 2 years.

The last one I did was terrible - went off too fast and just got slower and slower. Despite it raining last night, I really enjoyed the fast pace even though my legs (calves) are hurting loads now. I finished in 36th place (out of 240, so top 15%) which is lower than I used to finish (mid 20s) so I'm not sure if the other clubs have got faster or I've got slower. I'm sure it's the former - couldn't possibly be the latter!

Got an average pace of 5:58min / mile. I don't know much about pace, but I do know that's the fastest I've done on Strava - mainly because all my runs are normally offroad over hills. Don't think I could have kept that up for much longer though...

Results spreadsheet here
Strava link here

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Cressbrook Crawl Fell Race

I'd not done this one before and seeing as Teresa was away from Sat afternoon onwards (in Swaledale) then I thought I'd sneak this one in whilst I could. Thankfully, Sean fancied it too so kindly gave me and official photographer for the day - Ed - a lift. Parking at the converted mill at the bottom, Sean and I warmed up much quicker than we thought with the very steep road climb to the Cressbrook club near the top of the hill.
Free Beer - what more excuse do you need to do a Fell Race ??
The race looked good - a big climb out of Millers Dale, plus lots of smaller climbs with no really rough stuff. It was a lovely club where registration was held - I think it could entice me to live there ! - and a nice relaxed atmosphere with around 100 runners on the start line. We were warned of overkeen cattle and horses enroute and then off we went, up the road then fast down to Millers Dale.

After last Tuesdays Burbage and a Chaingang on Thursday the lungs were getting used to this strange feeling of hard work. It still wasn't easy though - especially when you try and keep up with the guys in front who always just keep pulling away !
Starting outside the Phonebox (top right) going anticlockwise

The drop down through Brushfield to Monsal Dale was limestone and it had just started raining, so I took it a little steady - soon to hear fell shoes chasing me down from behind. The next section round to the Monsal Trail was far longer than I thought and just kept on going - gradually up hill!

Gradually, the guy in front got further and further away, but thankfully so did the guy behind. I finished 8th out of 101 finishers in 50 mins, so Top 8%. That free pint didn't touch the sides - and it was nice to help Sean out with his too as he was driving. Great race, some flat bits in the middle, but enough off road to keep the interest and great scenery to boot.

Write up and results here

Route Profile showing the long (hard) flatish stretch in the middle

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Burbage Skyline Fell Race

Brilliant race last night - enjoyed it so much. 

Thats what 356 runners setting off looks like
The Burbage Skyline is a race I've always wanted to do, known the course, but have never done. Well, this year it fell right, so 5 of us from Belper Harriers turned out on this balmy spring / summer evening to tackle what the area between Fox House / Higgar Tor and Upper Burbage Bridge could throw at us.

356 runners turned up so the start was a little frantic - I didn't get a good start by any standards, but soon got moving. As it was my first 'non Ultra' fell race of the year, the hard climbs certainly felt tough, but as ever the descents hurt more as I struggle to keep up with guys, hence I have to push harder to simply not lose places.

51st I think overall, so yes I could have done a lot better, but this is just about getting out there and racing when I'm not in tip top shape and just enjoying it. I certainly did that !
Clockwise direction from bottom, down to the stream to start off

2013 Results, 51st out of 356. Not bad for first race of the year !

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Fellsman 2013 review, 61 miles, 11,000ft climb

Joint 9th Overall, 12hours 24 mins - 55 mins quicker than last year and way faster than I ever dreamed I'd do.

What a stunning day all round - for both Checkpoint Marshalls and runners!
Views to die for at Fleet Moss
On reflection, I think that was the best race I've ever done. Not the fastest, not the hardest, not the best result - but as a total package - I enjoyed that more than any other race I've done.  Yes, views like those above all day long certainly helped make this a race I'll remember for a long time but there was more to it than that.

The Fellsman is a pretty special race anyway - there's a massive team of organisers (year round committee and on the day), 500 entrants and massive logistics in keeping the 24 checkpoints in contact. Then there's the course - most entrants regard this as either their hardest race of the year or normally in the top 3 (perhaps if competing abroad) and rightly so - if you're not doing a big climb or a big descent, you're on the rough stuff - perhaps a rough track or a small trod if you're lucky or tussocks if you're not.

Saul, Graham and me had been targetting this race for months - Saul and Graham as perfect Bob Graham prep for a months time, me as a springboard for Saul and Graham's support and later in the year my UTMB TDS race in August in the Alps. Sadly, Graham had to duck out which left Saul and me to make our pilgrimage to Threshfield School like previous years but - unlike any previous year - both Saul and me were running it the same year - he's done two previously and I've done just one but not on the same years. Added excitement ! Although not competing against each other, I think we genuinely hoped we'd both do really really well - whatever that means!
Saul and me on the start line, Ingleton
The weather at the start was perfect - cool, still (ish) and sunny. Time for a quick photo whilst we could still smile and at 9:05 we were off - straight up Ingleborough with the 403 other runners who'd made it to the start line (500+ registering). Saul and me immediately split up as we were running our own races, but almost inevitably we were running alongside each other after Ingleborough as we are normally the same pace.

Hills came and went.
Views for 100 miles came and went.
Competitors came and went.
Checkpoints came and went.

but these are the memories I'll take away ;

* The view looking down from Great Coum Westwards - Cumbria on the horizon with masses of open fell at my feet.
* The view looking down from Great Coum Northwards - The Howgills looking mighty fine.
* The views down towards Hubberholme (nr Cray) across valleys lined with dry stone walls coated in early evening sunlight.
* Lots of people to chat to all day, including marshalls and fellow competitors
*Legs feeling great all day - takes me back to my Bob Graham (but I've never had the flying sensation again since!)
* No low points - last year was a struggle on several ocassions, notably Dent to Blea Moor.
* Running with Kev and Dan from Dent to the end. We made a good team, lighthearted banter for 35+ miles! Kev with a formidable running pace and Dan with a formidable future ahead of him.
* Not being grouped at all - a kind of 'god like status' at the Fellsman - arriving 2 mins before grouping started.
* My time of 12h24 was far in excess of what I ever thought I'd achieve. I expected under 13hours, perhaps 12h45, but certainly not that. And yes, there probably is room for improvement next year now I look back. Not entirely sure, but thinking of the competitors ahead of me, I could have been 3rd Vet ?
* The Cocktail Sausages at Park Rash! Kev and me were craving savoury so bad, and until now dry rolls hadn't cut the mustard. We couldn't get enough of these buggers tho - so apologies to anyone who turned up late and there weren't any !

Like last year, it was nice to have a pint afterwards reflecting on a truly grand day out. It was cold walking back to the school though - but at least my legs were still talking to me. It was good to see Saul when I got back to the school - eyes not quite focused but about what we expect from him after a long race! He'd knocked 15 mins off his PB finishing in around 13h30, so was pleased (ish), but - as ever - there's masses of room for improvement it seems!
Ingleton to Grassington - The Hard Way

Starting off with 2 of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, it's hard to know if the climbs are worse than the bogs!
Strava link here
Fellsman post race discussion here
Results not up yet, but they should be somewhere here

Note to Self : Stay right of the Stream up Buckden!!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Cropton Score 3h Event, NY Moors Weekend

Lovely weekend just gone. 100 miles on the bike on Saturday followed by attempting the 3hour Cropton Forest Score event but on foot. Teresa, Dave, Sheila and Dennis did it officially on Saturday (whilst I was being nobby no mates on my bike), so as Newton upon Rawcliffe was right in the bottom corner of the map, I thought I'd give it a crack. I got 315 point and was 5 minutes late, so 310 points. Most importantly - legs felt good ! Well done to Teresa who was the highest scoring woman with 385, thereby also whooping my ass. All organised by the very nice guys at NYMBO.
Sunday's 3h Score Event (MTB or foot - take your choice !)

Saturday's beautiful Moors and Teeside 100 miler

Monday, 22 April 2013

Calderdale Hike 2013, 37 mile, 6000ft

Great Shot of the Emblem of Calder Valley : Stoodley Pike
Photo Courtesy of Nick Ham
After enjoying last years Calderdale Hike so much, it was always going to be on the cards that I'd enter again this year. And seeing as the Fellsman is two weeks later, this race serves as perfect prep for that one. This year though, I was a little apprehensive going into this one - not had many good runs all year really (legs feeling tired at the end of runs or just completely jaded) and been dogged with back niggles then snow so no form to speak of.

What the hell - 37 is a distance that you can almost 'wing it', so I guess I just thought - how bad can it actually be ? Well, as it turned out - quite bad really !

The weather was great and none of the big names from last year were there, so heading to CP's 1 & 2 I was right at the front - very worrying for me! Martin Beale was now running alongside, so I knew he'd just start pulling away and generally - he did. There's lots of climbing in this race and it comes all the way through - start, middle and end (finish on top of a hill!) so there's no resting up. I think I attacked the climbs at the start a little too hard - struggling to keep up with Adam Worallo setting a hot pace up to Hoof Stones Moor. He was running really well and pulled away easily on the moors (but later found out he was going too fast here and only finished 5 mins ahead of me) as too did Simon Bourne who would eventually overtake 6 of the 7 people in front of me and finish 2nd.

Start is in bottom right corner, going clockwise
The section over to the reservoirs was completely different in character to last year. We were banned from going on the direct bearing due to landowner issues (fair enough) so we were ordered to stick to the fence line. Well - that was a hell of a lot longer than last year with I think about 10 mins added here and quite a bit of climbing too. It was hot now and coupled with the over keen pace with Adam earlier, I felt the energy ebbing away and my legs slowed progressively all the way to Bronte Bridge. Blimey - the legs really didn't want to stretch out at all here and coupled with tummy issues, some very dark thoughts were going through my head about this race, my next race and all future races !!!

Nasty thoughts quickly dispatched to the back of my mind - a dib at the checkpoint and serious jelly baby intake saw me slowly pick up pace again to my usual "Ultra pace" heading back over towards Pecket Well kind of area. The climbs carried on thick and fast and now some of the short race tail enders made me feel super speedy as I passed a good few of them with cheery smiles and a quick hello going out to them all.

The climb out of Pecket Well is really not good. It's quite nasty to be honest and eventually drops you onto some very boogy moorland. Nice. Oh, and to make it worse, that's then followed by my nemesis - around 2 miles of road running - very harsh on the legs!!
Pretty unrelenting climbing then !!!
I didn't really see anyone in front / behind me from High Withens onwards so really started to settle into the solo rhythm and just enjoy the freedom of the fells for a while. I knew the route and exactly what was in front of me, so pushing a hard but sustainable pace was all I had to do - and something that comes natural really - never one to ease off.

Heading up the final grind to the finish line felt far harder this year than last. My legs had less in reserve than last year but I had no idea why. I was therefore very surprised to see my time just 10 mins slower than last year and - seeing as I reckoned this years route was 10 mins longer than last years - I was basically in line with last years time. This was probably why the legs were hurting now so much. In fact in the days after the race, I can honestly say that my legs ached more than I have ever suffered in all my years of running and Mountain Marathons !

Great race though and very friendly folk. Results took about a week to come out which is why I haven't posted this before.

8th Overall (same as last year), 6h 18m
Results here
gpx here
Strava link here