Monday, 27 October 2014

High Peak Marathon (Night) Route, 37 Miles, 11hours

Another nice long route the weekend just gone - a version of the High Peak Marathon route (aka the Derwent Watershed). This takes me up to TWO 12 hour runs now in October.

Sunrise on the way to Mill Hill & Kinder
Having attempted and (just) surviving the Lakes 3000's earlier in the month with a cold, I was hoping that this would be relatively easy on the legs. Also - Tuesday night's club run last week felt like I was back to my old self - easy, fast running with no niggles then or the next day. Phew!

Various people were semi interested in doing part of the route with Saul and me, but in the end it was just Karl who ventured out to explore the night time running fun from about 1230am onwards.

We set off from Yorkshire Bridge (easier to drive to) and Karl met us there from his caravan base in Baslow. We soon set off up the 2 mile climb to Stanage which felt as difficult as first climbs always do. Weather was lovely - settled and mild. We got to Lost Lad and then Foul Clough in around 2.5 hours which is where Karl headed back - aiming to get 4-5 hours in the bag.

The next section saw quite a few bits to practice / do differently next time ;
  • Descending off last lad too early - wading through bog not ideal.
  • From Foul Clough we went direct N to Featherbed Moss. Next time go down Abbey Brook then NW to the path
  • Dropping too low around Cut Gate on what was a reasonable path which then headed down not up
  • Missing the path up to Bleaklow Stones - not heading to the crest of the hill
We were fine after Bleaklow Head not surprisingly as that's where you joing the Pennine Way. Saul was struggling with feeling tired and so we tested out his 2 man bothy bag for breakfast which worked a treat - it was only just big enough to fit all of Saul's food in though !!

Time was marching on due to us being slow over the bogs, so we thought that we'd change the ending to miss out Brown Knoll / Rushup / Lose Hill and replace it with Kinder North Edge to Crookstone and Hope Cross - at which point it was my turn to try and fall asleep whilst running! A swig of Saul's flat Coke soon sorted me out mind...

We finished pretty strongly up WinHill then down Parkin to get back in around 11 hours. A quick coffee in Outside and back with 10 mins to spare before Teresa headed out to work. Phew!

Sunrise trying to break through clouds above Kinder Res
Strava link here

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Wingerworth Wobble Fell Race, 4.5 miles

Great race the weekend just gone - the Wingerworth Wobble. I've done this race twice before but they didn't run it for a few years so I've not done it for about 4-5 years.

It used to be in December I think, but the autumnal weather didn't disappoint this weekend. Great weather with light fog clearing and after getting there early for a quick reccie with Andy W and Chris all we found was tracks and tarmac - I didn't remember it being like this ? I remember it being a great race? Maybe I'd got a bit confused over the 5 or so years since I'd last done it ? Once we got under way and we got out of the village it was soon clear that that first section is the only main road section in the race and you're very quickly climbing off road for a long, long way!

That first climb went on for a good while through some lovely woods before popping out on a road then climbing through fields again. It was here that I suddenly noticed I was running on my own with noone in front or behind and I couldn't see any tape in the current field to work out which way I should go. It felt really weird standing still in a race and I was just about to get my phone GPS out when I saw what I thought was some tape down hill and left. Thank god it was! Lost about 30 seconds, so nothing major and didn't lose any places, but lost ground to Mick Stenton (4th place).

The final field is all up hill and I nearly chuckled to myself when there was a huge array of supporters standing at the top - all looking at me as there were no other runners around - so what was the chances of easing off on that final climb - zero! I could tell I'd not done a short sharp fell race for a while as breathing was harder than it should have been throughout the race.

Chris and Andy really really enjoyed it too. It was a great local fell race and one to try and do every year.

Overall, 5th out of 80ish I think in 34 minutes.
Results here

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lake District 3x3000ers Ultra : 50miles, 12,000ft

My build up to this race had been mixed at best. In recent months I'd managed to race in Borrowdale and The Lake District Mountain Trial and more locally the AL Fell Race from Totley - the Exterminator. Sadly though, despite little serious training since the Mountain Trial, both of my achilles were now niggling - aching when I got out of bed and on the first 10 mins of any run. Thankfully though they were not getting substantially worse.
This is why I Fell run
The week before this event I bagged 3 60-70 mile bike rides to get some base strength built up without niggling my achilles. The day of travelling to the Lakes was a little rushed too despite me leaving work at 230pm, we didn't get to registration until 815pm. I say we - Graham had dropped out due to illness 2 days before which left me, Mum and Lewis booked into a nice cosy B&B.

Runner descending Skiddaw, courtesy of Ian Corless
Forecast for race day was bad and it certainly didn't disappoint when - upon waking at 4am for the 5am start - all I could hear was torrential rain.  It's never really a problem though once you get going - it's just getting out of your bed and out the door which is the real problem!! And it seems like the bad weather forecast (wet until midday) put lots of people off as of the 300 entrants, only 200 or so made it to the start line. Nice camararderie at the start and we were notified that the Scafell checkpoint was likely to be omitted with a reroute around Angle Tarn / Styhead Tarn to Esk Hause. I think this saved us 60-90 mins, but more importantly made it far less risky for the organisers and marshalls.

We got started just after 5am and we immediately found ourselves running through streams and rivers which hadn't been there just 6 hours prior! Coupled with headtorches for the first 2 hours this made for a very entertaining section - especially the river run to Watendlath. Great fun!

It was all going swimmingly (excuse the pun) until Seathwaite really where we started the climb to Scafell (well, Styhead Tarn). I noticed that despite a big bowl of porridge I needed food within two hours. Not a good sign I thought but pushed on. The climb was wet and rocky but all good fun with Angle Tarn coming around very quickly. Me and another guy were just behind Steve Birkinshaw, so in around 8th/9th. The next section from Angle Tarn was my favourite of the whole race. Boggy contour to Stake Pass, tough climb to High Raise, fast descent then boggy for several miles down alongside Wyth Burn. Epic stuff!!

I felt good when I got to the side of Thirlmere so pushed on straight through the Wythburn control point up the steep climb to Helvellyn summit. I pulled away from the guy I was running with at this point, but everything still felt comfortable even if I was having to eat more food than usual to stop that empty legs feeling.

The summit of Helvellyn came round quick despite thick mist but no rain. I was in 8th I think at this point. This is when things suddenly took a turn for the worse for me...

The descent started fast and easy as far as little man. Once out the mist however, I noted that the valley seemed closer than it should have done and straight in front of me.

Oh no.
Surely not.
I couldn't have.
{glance round to right}
Bugger, I had.
I'd gone down the wrong ridge.

Awards Presentation with Billy Bland (left), Ian Corless (Orange), Ian Mulvey (Blue)
Thoughts immediately turned to me wasting 10 mins and probably losing 5 places or so. Nevertheless, I headed back up. Well - I started to. Everything suddenly seemed very, VERY hard. My quads were aching, well really aching. They never ache on races. I felt really light headed despite me having eaten food on the climb.  There was just nothing left in my legs. Where did this come from? What was causing this? How would I get over it with 20+miles to go?

Once I regained the main ridge running seemed laboured. Not the usual kind of slowing you get in an Ultra but different. Way worse than that. I really felt like I'd done 2 Bob Grahams! All kinds of bad thoughts entered my head. Pack it in ? Pack in long races ? Stop running for the winter ? Pretty soon I dropped out of the cloud - just before Clough Head from memory and the views all over Lakeland were there in front of me. After about 20 mins of stumbling / running I'd pretty much accepted that the race was over, but what would I do ? Looking at those views the decision was easy - I was (kinda) running. I was in the high fells. I was in the Lakes. The weather was looking glorious for the rest of the afternoon. Easy - hobble to the finish it was then!

Descending off Clough Head was painful for my legs. Getting to Newsham I just had to keep stuffing food down me to stop me feeling dizzy and it wasn't working. A mile or so on there was a pleasant surprise in an additional food stop. What a relief !! Coke and flapjack bites went down a treat and put a massive smile on my face but running along the disused railway then uphill to Latrigg after I knew they'd not done an ounce of good for my legs. Still - by that point I was resigned to just getting round. Chatting, walking the climbs and running the flats and downhills (albeit painfully slowly!).

During my Bob Graham I made it up Skiddaw in about an hour. It took me just under an hour to get down from Skiddaw on Saturday - embarrasingly slowly! Still - with views like those in the top 2 photo's mixed with hailshowers it was a pleasure running the tracks round the back'o'skiddaw.

I crossed the line in 10h58 and 28th place. What a relief and what a lovely surprise to see Mum and Lewis there at the finish too. Absolute relief in finishing - something that seemed very much in doubt after that wrong turn on Helvellyn!

Postscript : I've since come down with a really bad cold. I had no symptoms on the day. Phew - that explains a lot !

Results here
Ian Corless Photo's here
Strava link here

Monday, 15 September 2014

Lake District Mountain Trial, 2014 : Patterdale

I've had a bit more of a normal year this year for Fell Running - lots of local races and even some runs and races in the Lakes including Borrowdale last month. To complete the set, I thought it was about time I entered another Mountain Trial.  I've previously entered in 2005 (Tilberthwaite), 2006 (Seathwaite & Borrowdale) and last year with Krish but it was cancelled due to the torrential rain and winds when marshalls couldn't even make it to the checkpoints themselves. 

These really are classic events and are badged up as a "severe test of fellrunners’ mountaineering ability and staminaand that "competitors are required to traverse difficult and often dangerous terrain, rapidly but safely. Navigational skills and route choice have a direct bearing on each competitor’s safety".  There's 3 courses on offer (S/M/L) with pretty keen cutoff times on each. As an added bonus is it's mid September every year which is one of my favourite times of the year to race and visit the lakes too.

Again, minor niggles leading up the race (right hamstring, left achilles and right quad now) were quickly forgotten when I'd got my number on and it got to my start time (9:40). I'd opted to run with vest top and bumbag this time, so yes - I looked like a proper fell runner! We were sent off for 500m up the road and then into a field where we were given the map at the bottom of St Sunday Crag. I'll break down route choices for each with thoughts at the time and hindsight now I've seen where others went...

ROUTEGADGET NOTE : Before reading the details of each control below, I'd recommend you familiarise yourself with Routegadget (link here) as I refer to it a lot. This is a fantastic tool that allows runners on orienteering events to manually or via GPS to plot their routes on the course map to show which way they went. It then applies some clever stuff to allow you to 'replay' runners against each other showing where time was gained / lost. You can also select "Mass Start" or "Real Time" and choose one leg, the whole route or replay 'by each control'. You will waste hours!!
The Map without routes marked.

Start to CP1 : My route wasn't too bad although at the time I felt like I went too high as several runners were zooming along under me closer to the valley bottom, whilst I was tottering on scree high up on the slopes! Looking at route gadget (here) most runners DID go lower, with Steve Birkinshaw heading round to the East of Birks
CP1 to CP2 : Straightforward as there was a large wall marked extra clearly on our maps as handed out which is not shown on the map below. CP2 was at the "Hole in the Wall", right on the wall funnily enough! It felt a good route as it was mostly runnable on the down section before the long and very steep climb to the control. Looking at other routes on routegadget (here) again shows that a low of runners took a more direct climb up from CP1 to Deepdale Hause. No reason why I didn't - apart from there was someone in front so it was easier to follow them!

CP2 to CP3 : I felt like I'd run this reasonably well, but I'd overcooked the detour round Hartside going too far east and meeting the wall before I knew it! I think the optimal route was heading north after Wintergrove Gill (which I remember crossing). Truth be told - it was the first good running on a path I'd had for hours so I just got carries away and hey - there was people in front again to follow! I think had I been on my own and not seen other runners around me, I've had gone over Hartside then followed the stream down from the summit to the control at the waterfall via Coegill Beck. See my route on the bottom map to see just how carried away I got with my running!

CP3 to CP4 : Big cock up it seems. At the time as I was in thick clag for most of it and it seemed ok apart from a stupid detour just before the summit of Stybarrow. What I didn't spot was the more direct route most others followed heading WNW over Randerside via Lurge Gill.  As it turns out my leg was 5 miles. Pretty hard going too as the climb was not runnable, the contouring to Watsons Dodd was runnable but only just and I was getting too tired. 5 mile though - I've done many fell races longer than that this year !
3 to 4 : I went over Hart Side and Stybarrow Dodd. Most went west up Lurge Gill / Great Dodd. Bugger

CP4 to CP5 : Straightforward. Hard running up tussocks, but I overtook about 5 runners here.

CP5 to CP6 : Straightforward. I headed further south than others here as I could see the good path down the valley marked on the map and it had my name firmly marked on it!!

CP6 to CP7 : Again, slight cock up but I must get the "longest route round Great Dodd" award! At the time it didn't feel too bad a route choice (apart from Gt Dodd) but I was tired and my feet were tired and my legs didn't really want to descend over more tussocks path the Ski Tow from Sticks Pass but I made slow work of it and got the eventually. I think I made the marshalls at CP7 laff when I said "guys, I really hope that you're as glad to see me as I am to see you lot". Yes, proper tired and achy now.

CP7 to CP8 : Felt weird at the time as I saw no other runners until just before the tarn. Lots of paths too just before the tarn so quite a bit of map checking to a control which looked so easy on the map but just dragged on and on.
Overall, I think I was 34th out of 75 starters and was only 30 mins or so from the cutoff at many controls. It was great to say hello to Joss out on the route and gobsmacking to see Rhys and Hector zoom past me on the way up to the hole in the wall. Much gratitude to all marshalls - especially the old guy at CP4 who just had his sheepdog for company - oh, and "one of the best views you could ever wish for" as I told him.

Had my right quad not been niggling (from last week's exterminator) I'd have been running very well at the end, but as it happened climbs and lifting my right leg was painful. Ran out of food, but the fine post race food soon sorted that out - including cakes with a dollop of whipped cream on top !
Where the 9,000ft of Climb came from!
Route gadget here
Results here

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Totley Exterminator, 16.6mile, 3,100ft

This has been on my radar ever since I first heard of it earlier in the summer - a longish race over familiar terrain and it's classed as an "AL" Fell race too. What's not to like ! Oh, and it's not the Edale Skyline...

I don't know how, but I managed to convince Marcus to turn up to this one. Although he's not raced for years, he's often pretty fit and he's in training for HP40 and Karl is away - so an ideal time for him to sneak in additional race miles while he's not around.

Along with Chris and Andy, the four of us headed up in Chris's car on what looked like a scorcher of a day.  Andy Parkin was along too and seeing as he beat me at the rover, I'd have a good pacemaker at least. After the pain of the Rugby Rover before my holidays, I was keen to right those wrongs and have a decent race before the Lake District Mountain Trial next weekend.

Major climbs are ; Up to Totley Trig, Up Blacka all the way past Burbage to Higgar, over Stanage, out of Hathersage chuch and up out of Padley through Longshaw to Totley Trig again.
Last Tuesday's club run (pub special through Sweetcorn fields) didn't go well - my left achilles was hurting (not niggling) and my right hamstring was also niggling as much as it's ever done. So again, this would be a good yardstick to see whether I should even head up to the Lakes next weekend.

Chris, Me, Andy and Marcus enjoying the fantastic post race spread. I'd have paid £7 for just that !
I thought I'd try and set off slower than I did on the rover and the plan seemed to work well. On this race, the first two climbs and up to Higgar is when the majority of the climbing is done - after that it's pretty much plain sailing. So, by Higgar I was running comfortably but ahead of Andy P still. From then on I seemed to slowly pick off runners in front which is always a good thing, well all the way until the final descent where I was overtaken by the 3 guys I was with - my left big toe was telling me to slow up on that final toe bashing, so I took it steady. Finishing in 2h36 and 22nd place felt about right (200ish running)
3 cock ups on route to remember for next year ;
* Millstone Edge - don't follow other's guidance - stick to the old railway track
* Padley - up from the pumphouse, then on and down looking out for path on right over river.
* Totley Moor - follow track, don't go through heather again !!!

Reckon I lost 5 mins on those, so 2h30 target next year then?
A great race with an even better spread laid on post race.

Results here
Strava here

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Belper Rugby Rover

The Rugby Rover is a classic local race. It's offroad and it's hilly which is why it has often been on my shortlist. Despite me regularly training on this route, I've only raced it once before back in 2010 where I'd run it in a reasonable time of 2:17. Having a previous time on a race can be a good thing and a bad thing - good in that you've got a benchmark and bad in that you've got a benchmark !
Rugby Rover Route Map, clockwise
Prep wasn't ideal this year - in fact far from it. My drinking game induced hamstring injury of Jan 14 is getting worse and my left heel has been just niggling for a month or so now but not enough to stop me entering. Plus, I was on holiday for a week or so after this so it would be good to go off with a hardish race in my legs.

Race day was perfect conditions and Chris and Andy were down too along with many other regulars from the club - inc Shaun and Jack.
Rugby Rover Route Profile
Now although this race is "hilly and offroad" it's not until you've got to the highest point of the race that you suddenly realise "it's not that hilly after all and is really runnable". Can you see where this write ups going ???

Yes, the pace seems to get faster every year and in reality it is really a trail race, not a fell race so it was no surprise to see the fast guys leaving me for dead on any flat sections. I really didn't feel able to push off with my heel either so I just thought it best to settle into the "fast but enjoyable" pace which later turned into "trying to be fast but is probably quite slow" pace. The latter half of the race saw my niggles get worse and so on the run in down Wyver Lane people were bombing past me who I'd overtook several miles before!

Overall, it was an enjoyable blast with generally great weather (although more headwind than seemed reasonable!) and fine views but I really died after the high point of the race at Alport Heights. My time was 5 mins slower than 4 years ago (2h22 vs 2h17) so can't be that bad.

Nice to see Saul, Ian and Tom out taking photo's and mum came to cheer me on at the finish line too.

Full Results here
Strava link here

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Borrowdale Fell Race

I've not done a Lake District AL for a few years now - Duddon Long back in 2008 I think was the last time where I came 52nd in 3h44. Diary clashes / shift work for Teresa and injuries have put paid to me getting to one last year or so far this year, but made me more determined to fit one in as these Classic Long Lakes fell races really are what fell shoes were invented for. Running across high fells & windswept ridges at speed really is an invigorating feeling. And one that I'd really missed.
Descending the Corridor Route, Wasdale over to the left
Chris was also keen to enter and I knew how serious these AL's can get so warned him away from entering and emphasising why the FRA require previous similar race experience.  To compensate, I promised him a great run on the fells, probably pushing him further than he'd been before and suggesting a route to him that would ensure he bit off a fair old chunk of lake district experience.

We both headed up Friday and kipped in the car ready for the off at 11am from Rosthwaite the next morning. After a couple of strong coffees in Costa, Keswick we headed down Borrowdale in the partial gloom parking in the fields with around 1 hour to go. Just enough time to sign on, see some of the big names hanging around and get just a little bit nervous !! The rain was only just about keeping off but after a reccie of the line up Bessy Boot - it soon started coming down again just in time for the start by Andy Schofield.

Yes, we all ran around in a circle without
having a bloody clue!
I'd forgotten that the first offroad lane narrows really quickly, and hadn't got near the front enough so was caught up in a queue after no more than 100m of running ! Only lost about a minute which on a 4-5 hour race is no big deal whatsoever. Lots of big boys around - I was especially surprised to see Steve Birkinshaw racing again so quickly after him rewriting the record books on his Wainwright round. Stephen Pyke also glided past me as soon as it went uphill. Past Chris on the way up the first fell and that was it - proper steep stuff all the way to the summit of Bessy Boot which by now was fairly full on claggy & windy. I was really looking forward to the next section to Esk Hause which involved following fairly indistinct trods along the side of the Glaramara ridge. I soon found myself running behind Darren Fishwick (founder of the term Fishwicking!) and Steve Birkinshaw, but mysteriously heading up and right, then further up and right then more up and right. Of course, at race pace when there's almost a dozen of you running together why should I question which way we were going ?? Especially when one of you is called Steve Birkinshaw ?  The map extract above shows us doing what every aspiring fell racer should aim to do a few times in their career - run completely round in a circle without having a bloody clue ! Now lets get this right - it was horizontal rain from the SE and proper clag so stopping to look at the map wouldn't have been the most intuitive thing to do.  From the gps trace, I estimate we lost around 8-10 mins here.

Blue Race Route, with my Black gps trace showing a wobble around Combe Head!
When I eventually rejoined the race train further south, there was noticeably more runners around so it was clearly time to try and start making up ground. I lost around 100 places between Bessy Boot and Esk Hause - luckily I wasn't aiming for a time or place on this race - good job !

The route from Esk Hause to Scafell was thick in mist all the way and littered with the boulders I remembered - proving to slow everyone down substantially. I soon recognised the big col before Scafell pike summit from our recent Bob Graham exploits, so as soon as I got there I kept a look out for runners descending to my right - picking out the scree descent top. And sure enough after 50-100m, I saw the first runners heading down. A quick dib at the summit and head back down to where I saw them go and sure enough - peering over the lip looking NW I could see the infamous scree descent taking us down to the Corridor Route below.
The Scafell scree run descent (on another, far more pleasant day!)
The descent was way more pleasant than I'd expected, so in no time I was at the corridor route where my progress slowed quite a bit on the wet rock and bog. There are some tricky sections on this and it's easy to see why Wasdale Mountain Rescue really do discourage people from attempting the 3 peaks in 24h challenge - especially when novices often tackle this section in the dark.  As it happens, it seems that one runner seriously came a cropper and 'wharfeego' was first to the scene and had to make some very very tricky decision (moving an apparently paralysed runner) which fingers crossed have saved his life.

From Styhead I cruised past 22 runners to move from 136th to 114th by the summit (full splits here) - but then again 8 of those had overtook me on the descent it seems ! I was apprehensive of the section from Wasdale summit to Windy gap as I remember some very tricky terrain from both mine and Saul's BGR's. Thankfully, I followed a brilliant line which I think was almost E from the summit, then NE, then N to the gap. The section to Honister was again fantastic. Clag, rain and trods - virtually all runnable. It seems I took 9 runners here, only stopping to top up water at the stream just before the slate mine. Legs felt great, so straight through and up Dale Head. After taking another 7 runners and stopping for a quick pee it was onto another section I'd not been looking forward too (ok, that's EVERY descent I'd probably not looked forward too!). From Dale Head summit it was a descent first to the tarn and then through some rocky mine workings to the finish.

As it happens, the descent to the tarn was fantastically runnable if steep, followed by a small rise over the lip of the tarn before the plunge down through the disused mine workings which again wasn't half as bad as I'd been lead to believe. In fact, despite there being about 20 people shortly behind me at the top of Dale Head - only 1 overtook me on the descent. Now that hardly ever happens !!!

Crossing the finish line in 4h16 I had had a fantastic outing in the Lake District Fells. Whats more - so had Chris - he'd loved the challenging conditions on the ridge and the long solitary descent out via Langstrath so it was win, win for us both. Wish we could have hung around but we had to get back really.

Target for next year - Sub 4 hours, Top 75 !!!


Thursday, 10 July 2014

BDL Race 4, Carsington, 6:26/mile

Got soaked on the cycle home from work, so it was a pleasant surprise to see the sun come out almost as soon as I got home (!).  Hadn't run since Winster last Thursday, so I was keen to get as long warming up as possible - eventually running basically the whole course.

Good to see familiar faces on the start line including Trev, Krish and Sean Bott who'd not been around for a great deal of the year. Lloydy was also down so I'd have a pacer at least !

Pace was fast but this is always a harder fixture on the BDL league due to the continual climbs and descents all the way through the race. Out to half way and I wasn't making or losing places - generally feeling pretty relaxed and looking forward to the return leg.

Sadly, this is where the wheels fell off ! 2 people came straight past me and I could hear more behind. I tried to push harder, but the legs weren't having any of it. After a few more miles of struggling to find pace I started to gett pain from my left achilles but not enough to stop me having a sprint finish to keep Sean Martin at bay !

Very tired and achy and stiff hanging around at the finish line. 

With hindsight, I'd not taken enough fuel on board. I'd barely eaten during the day and had a few small nibbles when I'd got home  but not enough to get me through a) the warm up reccie let alone b) The Race !!

Note to Self : Watch what you eat during the day next time  (small portion of Quinoa and 2 apples don't cut it!)

17th out of 247, Top 6.9%
Strava link here
Full Results here
Full Ilkeston RC Database here

Monday, 7 July 2014

Winster Fell Race

Another local race I'd not done, so this was the preferred option this week. The list of races done in just over two months is quite impressive for me ;

Masson Hill (29th Apr)
Burbage Skyline
BDL Ilkeston
Totley Moor
Edale Country Day
BDL Denby
Blacka Moor
Winster (3 July)

There's been some great races in there too, so I'd kinda been spoilt over the last few weeks, but at least going into tonight's race, I was expecting it to be 'not strictly fell'. I was still a little surprised to see the race start on the flat / downhill road for the first 1/2 to 3/4 mile. Pretty fast from the off and struggling to keep on Craig's heels. I'd not seen him for months, with the reason being he'd done the Edinburgh Marathon 6wks ago in 3:08 which I think he was pleased with (never done a marathon, so can't comment!).
Craig was clearly running well tonight though with him showing no sign of slowing up until the second main climb of the race - on the tarmac before it turned into a track. He started to walk, so I told him not to walk and - after realising it was me behind him - sped up again and carried on running - again at a really, really good pace. He'd not raced for at least 6 weeks, so I was amazed at how well he was running. Towards the top of the track before the final drop into Winster he slowed slightly and for the first time in the race I was able to pass him. Thank god I managed to hold him off until the finish too.

One other point of note which I was chuffed with of in hindsight - the guy I was chasing down into the village started to turn left one road too early, so I quickly shouted him back. He had lost 5 metres and I passed him, but with no one behind, I slowed to let him take his rightful place ahead of me - with him finishing 12th and me 13th. 

Ed set off too fast and finished in 6th despite running last night at Hope Wakes. Stephen Pyke was also along - only getting into his own when it turned up hill ! Great race, but felt too much like a road race, and I didn't enjoy thinking I was going to be beaten by a man who'd not raced for 6 weeks either !!!! Also good to see Rob Pearce do his first ever fell race - and promising to come along to another one too !

13th out of 116 finishers
Results here

Friday, 27 June 2014

Blacka Moor Fell Race

Last night was Blacka Moor Fell Race from the Cricket Inn, Totley - the venue for the Totley Moor race a few months back. I'd done this two years ago and found it hard, so was looking forward to giving it my best shot this year to see how I found it.

5 of us headed up from Belper Harriers with Steve and Andy having raced on Tuesday at Riber, oh and Chris having snook in a 5km at lunchtime too !

I felt deflated before the race but hoped that I'd run as well as I had done in the last few races as I'd ran well at the recent BDL, Denby and at Grindleford last week. This is a hard evening race and is like the big brother of the Totley Moor race - taking a bigger loop on the moors and sneaking in an even bigger climb on the second half. It's just shy of 1,300ft in 6mile. Totley Moor is a mere 1,037ft in 5.4mile. 

There was just under 200 people along tonight, so in theory I should be in the Top 20? Going up the steep first offroad climb, legs and lungs felt ok - and again I concentrated on breathing and not the guys around me. As we got out onto the road, I stepped it up a notch and took a couple of guys catching up with Tim from work. He pulled away on the steep Heathery descent but I took him and some more on the track out to the road. The descent was lovely and fast before turning back up the second hill. I was tired when I did it two years ago, so perhaps that was why I remembered this race being hard ? No way - this second hill just kept on giving with a steep bit in the middle and the steep Heathery climb out at the end too! Yes - harder than I remembered! Thankfully, I didn't lose any positions on the descent either and just managed to keep cramp at bay down the final road and round the cricket pitch!

Chatting with the guys afterwards, the concensus was that this was our favourite race so far - proper hard, fantastic views with lovely descents and awful climbs. Perfect to get me in the mood for our weekend trip to Dent Music and Ale Festival the next day!

11th Overall out of 196, so top 5.6% !

Results here
Strava here
Note - that second climb !!

Mountain Mayhem 2014, Gatcombe Park 10th Mixed Team

The Start
Cracking event this year at Gatcombe Park with Sheila, Dennis, Pete (from work), Dave and me forming the Formidable 5 again for the 5th year running I think. This is certainly the first year we've had it rain free as a team and what a difference that made - smiles all round from everyone all weekend and not a sole at the bike Jet Wash !

The whole track was dry and dusty and as I hadn't had a pre ride of the track my first lap was 'jittery' at best. As the laps went on, laps felt smoother and I was carrying more speed out of corners with lots of the descents putting a big grin on my face. Last years lap seemed to have small climbs and descents whereas this year had more bigger climbs and descents. In fact, most of the first half was downhill and most of the second half was uphill with two killer climbs right at the end of the lap - both were right in the granny ring territory.
Dave and me looking relatively sedate at changeover
Dave and me did double laps again during the night - again - really enjoyable laps although it didn't seem to go as quiet during the night laps as I remember in previous years. I got the dawn laps too - probably my favourites, although not quite as fast as the day laps as I couldn't quite see all the roots in the woods.

We all had a great time, even with Dave and Sheila having a misunderstanding going into the penultimate lap where Dave found he had to do a double lap - only when Sheila was nowhere to be seen in transition !

10th Overall in Mixed is our best result so far I think. I think there was over 70 mixed teams too.

Results here

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Grindleford Fell Race

First time I'd done this race and I'd heard it was a good one. Little did I know...
Chris gace Andy W and me a lift up and we were greeted by an absolutely massive queue to register - we thought there'd be less people turning up due to the England game being on at 8pm, but it was clearly runners turning up to avoid the football !

311 runners all in - one of the biggest fields in any summer evening fell race surely ? It was a really hot June evening and my legs were certainly well rested and felt good warming up at the start - I'd not run for 9 days (since last Tuesday's BDL race at Denby) and all I'd done in the meantime was Sunday's 65 mile cycle ride to Sheffield incorporating the final sections of the TdF Stage 2 route.

Crossing the River Derwent - classic stuff !
Ed was along so he was a good pace maker for me. After a lap of the cricket pitch, I soon settled in behind Ed on the climb up as it got steeper and steeper eventually popping out in the moor-y bit on Longshaw. Still up and through the bog and tussocks this race was certainly proving harder going than I'd anticipated. Eventually, we reached the long trail through longshaw which we followed for half a mile or so before heading off left down towards the lake and Padley. After leaving the track, Ed pulled away from me and all the group I was with. To my surprise I was only overtaken by two guys on the path down Padley Gorge which was good news. I'd clearly not looked at the map closely enough as when we got to the bottom of Padley, to my surprise we turned right past the chapel before going down to the river and it was a fair bit of a drag to the river too which I wasn't expecting!

The river was rumoured to be 'deeper than normal' but it turned out to be almost sprintable - still deep enough for me to get very worried about my iphone getting wet though !!

I had plenty in the legs for the final sprint across the field and overtook 2 or 3 runners on the final run in.
This has to be one of the best if not the best Peaks Evening Fell Races I've done. The course is hard (climb gets steeper then ends in tussocky long grass) paths are small (apart from the track!) and there's a massive river to cross too. Perfect !

Very please with 16/311 which at Top 5% is one of my highest placings. OK - maybe the fast guys didn't turn up as they were watching the world cup !

Results here

Monday, 16 June 2014

BDL Summer League Race, Denby

Last Tuesday was the Belper Harriers hosted BDL League Race at the old clay pits near Denby. I did the race last year, but found it fast and hard as it has some climbs in it and offroad sections too - unusual for a road race, but clearly not for a fell racer!

Bang on queue at 4pm on the day the heavens opened, so much so that I even delayed leaving work by a few minutes to cycle home.  This meant that some sections of the course were properly under water so some good last minute work by Malc and the boys soon redirected us round the worst of it.

Come 730pm, race conditions couldn't have been better with blue skies all round.  Conditions under foot were slippy but I think that made it more interesting.  Virtually the same course as last year with a start loop added. Going into the race, my legs felt better than I'd expected after Edale only two days before. Saying that half the field seemed like they'd done the Ramathon Half Marathon on Sunday too, so no excuses !
Starting off well below my 'red zone' I thought I'd loosen up on the first flat section, see how the first road climb went, then take it from there. Needless to say at the top of the first offroad climb after that I was clinging on for grim death! I was just behind Simon now, and soon overtook him on the second short offroad climb. He'd done the Ramathon Sunday.  After that it was a matter of not letting anyone catch me, which I managed to do despite Dean Taylor and Paul Christmas (who both usually beat me) finishing close behind me.

Very pleased with 23/289, so top 8%. Nice cycle back with Tim too.
6:11/mile, some climbs & offroad!

Results are here
Strava link here

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Edale Country Day Fell Race

Second time I've done this race, with the first time being in my Bob Graham year (June 2012) so I had a time to aim for !! Just over 41 mins was the goal, so (like a fool!) I set off fast.

What could possibly go wrong with the amount of races I'd done recently ? I'd even had 4 days off since my last race in Calver on Wed. Well, it was only about 5 mins before the wheels fell off - I should have known it really with Martin and Ed only a couple of metres in front of me. They should have nearly been out of sight !

Simon Bailey (orange) and Stuart Bond making 10 metres on me (far right) in ...errrr ... 5 metres!
Needless to say, the first climb (second half) was a real struggle with me looking for any excuse to walk, now that's not like me.  The traverse across the edge was also a hard exercise in 'clinging on for grim death' which I don't remember from 2 years ago. The descent was no surprise in its difficulty however - in fact it was easier than I remember.

Overall, I was surprised I was nearly 2 mins down on 2 years ago as it felt like I was maybe a minute down. Maybe next year I'll be 3 mins down! Still, it's an excuse to realize that not all races are a given if you're race fit and you need to tackle each one separately - with tough long steep climbs demanding extra respect !

Good excuse to have a beer and burger with mum in the Country Day afterwards which was again a lovely day out.

Results here
Results from 2012 here
Strava link here
Strava flyby here !

Calver Peak Fell Race

New race for me this and legs felt ok after Sunday's long ride, so 4 of us from Belper Harriers headed up on this stormy evening to be greeted by blue skies when getting out the car!

It was good to see Martin from work there along with Ed and Sean from the club. The race went well and (as I've done a bit recently) I didn't go too fast up the first climb meaning that when I got to the flat stuff, I wouldn't be completely on empty. I only lost about 2-3 places on the descent which just had a few sections of limestone and loose small rocks.  I ended up about 25th out of 230, so 11% down the field.

I have to confess afterwards that this is probably the easiest fell race I've done and was slightly disappointed at the lack of climbing (yes, sad I know!) Nevertheless, still a great race and a good one for people new to the sport with both ascents and descent being very much "non technical".

Good to have a post race pint too in the Derwent Water Arms and not have to rush back.

Results here
Strava link here showing just how short changed on the climbing I was !

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Peak Epic Sportive, 4300m ascent (inc there n back)

After completing the Peak Epic last year in truly horendous conditions (blown onto the centre of the road by Cat n Fiddle), the weather this year was completely the opposite - with sunburn and dehydration being the only problems!

As I got round last year and felt strong at the end, then what better idea than to cycle to the event and back - via a few hills ! Yay - I did kinda think I'd bitten off more than I could chew as I was cycling up my fourth hill on theway there, but it was all fine and the legs held out feeling good at the end, if a little frazzled in the heat.

Looking at the splits I lost 2 mins at feed station 1 in Litton by stopping when others didn't (the problem with having just 1 water bottle and cycling to the event!) and from riding alongside the fastest guy for a few miles, it's evident I lost most if not all my time on descents. Tim's a great rider, but very young and the speed he was taking the descents, I just had to look away as he went round blind bends on small gravel roads!

Sadly, the legs were just too tired on the way home to pop by Beeley Hill Climb to see Peejay climbing a mere 9,148m - climbing the height of Everest in a day - for more see here. Puts my mere 4,300m (there and back inc) into touch!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Totley Moor Fell Race 2014

4th race in the last few weeks, so starting to feel a bit easier when I'm racing now - unlike my first race of the season, Masson Hill. Painful!

5 of us from the Belper Harriers headed up to Totley last night, including Steve's very first Fell Race and an ever enthusiastic Chris doing his 3rd. First race of the year too for Saul and Graham.

Loved the race and ran well finishing 15th out of 266 so top 5%!

More importantly, I finished 40 secs quicker than my time 2 years ago but reading my blog, that was my first race of the year, so that stacks up. I lost about 5 places on the descents, and lost time on the second climb as my calves were threatening to cramp up - probably due to me not stretching them at all after last Tuesday's Ilkeston race where they felt pretty trashed after.

Got away without full on cramp but it did make me slow up on the second climb - still don't think I'd have gained any places on the guys in front mind.

Great night then again.

Results here
Strava fly through here !!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

BDL Summer League Race, Ilkeston, 5:57/mile 69ft

Well, certainly not my usual elevation profile !!!

Nice warm evening and lots of Belper Harriers down tonight. Legs felt solid after the Lakes at the weekend but the sheer 'flatness' of this was a little daunting - I find that in TT's or flat races once I max out my breathing, I really struggle to get it under control again. With this in mind I set off at a 'comfortable race' pace. Out of breath, but not maxing out! Thankfully, I held this pace for the rest of the race and even had a sprint finish taking two runners finishing Top 10%. Results not yet out. 5:57/mile is fast for me, but then again - that was flat for me! Be nice to go faster next time as I really fell like I'm just getting back into this racing thing.

31st out of 308
Strava link here
Results will be here

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Burbage Skyline 2014

Second time I've raced this.
Loved it again.
Write up from last year here

About 310 starters this year as opposed to 360 last year as it's been taken out of the Gritstone series as it's already too popular.

I started slower this year and got held up more at the start, but I was seriously in oxygen deficit last year all the way round so felt that going off slower would help me have a stronger second half. From Mother Cap area I started picking up speed taking around 12 people I think from then onwards. It certainly felt like I'd ran a very strong second half and probably faster overall, but my time was actually a minute slower !

Never mind - you can't compete in a fell race and worry about times. Great night and Andy's first time too. Felt good after

Results 2014 here
43rd out of 310 in 46:42
Results 2013 here
51st out of 358 in 45:38

Friday, 2 May 2014

Masson Hill Race

My first race of any kind in I don't know how long (Sept 13 ?) due to various injuries and niggles, but it was great to get along to this fave local race.

Masson Hill Race Route (slightly different from 2013)
Straight up and down through small tracks in Bluebell woods - it's gorgeous. Probably my favourite race from last year - I wasn't expecting much but it certainly packs in a lot of climbing. I did feel guilty though in not quite telling Simon, Andy and Chris quite how hard it was !

I could certainly tell I'd not raced (or done Chaingangs) over the winter so the climbs were a lot slower than normal, but it didn't stop me enjoying it !

15th out of 96
Full results here
Strava link here
Strava flythru here (AMAZING !)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Paddy Buckley Reccie : Capel Curig to Nantmor (and back)

Well, it's been a while since anything's gone on this blog - and like most people, I've succumbed to injury. The inov8s I wore in November were really really bad for my feet - I didn't know quite how bad they were at the time as they felt so comfortable. Something's just wrong with how they grip my heel. I've been left for months limping around with Feb being the first month runs were semi normal and it was only a few Tuesday's ago that I had a normal Tuesday night training session and felt ok at the end of it.

So, what better time to go out and run 35 mile - when I'm only just back to "normal" !! The offroad reccie went well apart from me not realising there weren't any streams on route (despite it being littered with water / tarns), so I had to make do with half a water bottle until just before the quarries so about 4 hours.

No real NAV issues apart from the route up Cnicht which is best done (after consulting Helen) from a small dam wall, heading up the stone wall the other side. 

The run back to the car was more of a deal than I had expected. I had 3 legs of 5 mile to get back - first leg was the minor road to the A road before Nant Gwynant. Second was up to Pen y Gwyryd. Third was back to Capel. I really really struggled here. Now I think it's the fact that I can't do flat stuff. Tagging that on the end of 7 hours on the fell was I think the problem. In the end it turned into a walk / shuffle due to tummy issues too (Note to self : limit fig roll intake next time!).

Overall, a glorious day out in the Welsh hills. Stunning weather and views with me seeing noone on the hills until after Cnicht summit.

9h40m 35 miles.
Morning light (8am) Looking back on Moel Siabod

Top Right - Capel Curig, all the way down to the Moelwyns and past Croeor, then back up the road. gpx was cut short so I did actually make it back to the start