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