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!