Thursday 14 March 2013

Fellsman 28th April 2012

Overview of 2012 running events ( a bit late)

Very late to write this up, as I never wrote any entries on my Blog for 2012. So as a catch up I am writing, in brief the runs I entered in 2012. The aim is to get back on track and keep up to date with this years running. With one race already run (write up to follow), the list includes; the Fellsman, Montane 50, and the UTMB. So some good races for 2013.

Back to 2012.

The training continued throughout winter until I went to Australia for a month, which did include some nice runs in the warmth on the suburbs or Melbourne and some runs along the coastal paths near Sorrento, Port Phillip Bay.

Once back in the UK I only had 2 weeks to get myself back ready for this years Fellsman (2012).

The big mistake I made was having a massage the day before the race, this was going to come evident on race day!

Race day

Once at Ingleton community centre there was a mass of runners gathering and sheltering from the very cold, raw wind. Once the race started, me and Dave stayed near the front to miss the bottle neck out on to Ingleton High street and up past the old Police station on to the start of Fell lane to Ingleborough and the first of many checkpoints.
Everything seemed to be OK and we were soon in Chapel-le-Dale and on to climb up on to Whernside when I started to have engine failure and the muscles were hurting form the massage. Then after the Whernside checkpoint I tripped descending the ridge and my calf muscle completely tightened up and I was left on the floor in a heap unable to straighten my leg. Game over I thought!
I hobbled off and re joined Dave at the style and managed to descend OK to Kingsdale, but my legs felt crap. Once up on to Gragareth and on our way to Great Coum.
At this point I told Dave to go and run his own race, it was obvious I was slowing him down,  I was going to call it a day at Dent. Once there, I was surprised to pass a few runners on my way to the Dent checkpoint. The food was good here (sausage and beans), it just the lift I needed!
Descending to Redshaw
Plodding on, which I seemed to be able to do. I carried on and started knocking off the checkpoints one by one. Stonehouse another good feed of Pasta and tomato sauce, and the best to come was the Hot dogs at Redshaw.
Onwards and moving in a slow trot,  I just made Fleet moss before 19:00 and was allowed to continue with out been grouped up. I ended up leading a small group across to Middle Tongue and on to Hells Gap at this point the weather really did take a turn for the worse. Very cold wind chill with snow, sleet, and rain. It was really cold and I had put all my layers on. A gentle jog down to the Cray checkpoint and now we were an official group of 4. Cathy, Hester and Paul. The climb on to the summit was windy and cold, and we had to wait near the summit for Paul to catch up and it was really cold. Unfortunately we made too a slow progress due to walking and not running, only Cathy was up for running. We just had to keep pushing on,  to get off the foul top and down to Top mere and to Park Rash. Just one last ascent, Great Whernside, which was slow work and even more so the path to Capplestone gate where we were informed by the Marshall's that the race had be cancelled due to the weather conditions. Onwards and unsure if we would count as finishers we past Yarnbury and at last managed a trot down to the Finish at Threshfield school. Not the finish I was expecting of 18:17 but after all I was going to bin the race at Dent and still managed it with knackard muscles, so I must not grumble and the good news was that I was classed as a finisher as we had past the last road side checkpoint well before the race was cancelled. There were a few cases of wind blindness and hypothermia. One competitor ended up in hospital. Even my Mountain Rescue team (UWFRA) were called out in the early hours to assist a competitor off the hill from Capplestone Gate. I lost the feeling in my toes for about 4 weeks before I got the full feeling back and also minus 4 toe nails..
Me & Dave at the start

Bring on Fellsman 2013 where I will be better prepared and certainly wont be having my legs massaged the day before the race. How we learn by our mistakes.

Moving on through the summer of 2012 the training runs went well with no leg problems. The damaged calf muscle was fixed and a good summer was had. Round the corner was the next race and my first race abroad. After not making the lottery for the UTMB,  knowing that I had 7 points for 2013  I was guaranteed registration for the UTMB 2013. So I entered the Mountainman in Switzerland a 81km race with 5000 meters of ascent. you could say half a UTMB and a good start to trail running in the mountains or Europe.

Mountainman  - 18th August 2012 - Titlis - Hasliberg - Pilatus

I carried on the training in the lakes etc much like my Bob Graham training, plenty of hill work some distance work and I used some of the bridleways like Mastiles lane to use my trail shoes and get used to more hard packed type tracks.

In Switzerland I arrived 3 days before the race start, after much planning and thanks to Rachel's friend Kerry who put us up in Zurich,  I got a look at the area and to see if I could drive up to any of the course where it passed some road stops. I did manage to find one of the checkpoints after a drive up into the mountains to about 1500 meters. The weather was OK about 18 degrees and low cloud which I thought would be great running conditions. Unfortunately the temperature started to rise steeply on the Thursday and Friday before the start.
We stayed in a hotel in Engelberg the night before the race. It is where the race started from, well via a cable car ride.
The Start line Mountainman 2012

Race day

An early start, but only a 5 minute walk to the cable car station in the cool darkness to get a lift with the rest of the competitors up to the start line at Trubsee at about 1800 meters. The start was at 06:30 and it was now light and slowly the mountain air was warming. We were treated to some sounds and the start was sounded by huge firework that shot into the sky. I did here that it came back down and hit a competitor on the shoulder!
The pace soon settled down on the wide track before the first ascent was met up a single track to the first checkpoint (Jochpass) the highest point of the race at around 2400 meters. The next few checkpoints were passed with no problems up reasonable climbs and descents until we landed at the Kaserstatt checkpoint just under 2000 meters before the great descent down to Brunig, about 9km of downhill running, dropping down to the lowest part of the race at just under 1000 meters. In this race what goes down goes back up.
A fine view while running on one of many fine trails

Here I had a race bag with spare supplies in and extra drink powder. The start of this section was the big climb of just short of 10km back up to 2100 meters. The temperatures were ridiculous, up to 37 degrees with no cool air blowing in the mountains at all. The race was very well organised; the full trail was marked all the way and there was food and energy drinks at the checkpoints along with cold water showers to cool off underneath. I hit a bad patch in the middle section,  slowing down due to the intense heat and when I was at the Horweli checkpoint (14km from the finish), I had only 30 minutes to make the next checkpoint and the cut off time. About 7km of my fastest pace of the day saw me make the cut off with 5 minutes spare, this was a great time to get a much needed injection of adrenaline. The last 6km of the race did have 900m of climbing, I kept digging deep and to my surprise passed about 8 to 12 runners on my way to the finish to complete in 15 hours 20 Min's.

The race was very well organised with good distance between food and water stops. I didn't like the taste of Sponser energy drink, but their fuel bars were very tasty, just glad i had some of my own energy tablets to put in the water.
Thanks for Rachel and Kerry supporting me at some of the stages where there was car access for them to park. It was avery good lift to see them and hear them cheer me on. Quite hard running a race when you have no one to run with and chat, well anyone who speaks English.

After Switzerland I decided to enter this years High Peak 40 ultra, which was only 4 weeks after the Mountainman. i decided to do this to see how well my legs had recovered or not!
Not much time to get much running in especially has my legs were still recovering after Switzerland.

High Peak 40 Race Buxton 15th September 2012

Race day
The hardest thing about this race for me is the amount of tarmac bashing, about 35% tarmac and tracks. But still I did enjoy it the year before and It was a test to see how my body had recovered.
Me at the Start

After registration its a short walk to the start of the race and there is only a field of about 250 - 300 runners in this race. It was good to see Cathy Bradley in this race, she had a good result at the end.

The start was good and I managed to be at the front. After crossing a few main roads the race turns down a lane before it climbs its first path for a good off road section to the first checkpoint. After this the tracks were good but I started to have knee pain in my left leg. Some pain killers at the next checkpoint and onwards. My legs started to feel tired now and the after effects of Switzerland were evident. I kept plodding along the course knocking off the checkpoints which have a good selection of cakes etc and plenty to drink. I made a good pace but could feel my tired legs. The day was good weather, not too hot but clear with patchy blue skies. The last long road section was harder this year and my legs felt heavy. Once I had my first view of Buxton, I knew the finish was near. Once nearer I managed to up the pace to the finish to complete the race 1 minute slower than 2011 in 8:22. The selection of warm pies and plenty of brews afterwards and the use of the schools showers make this a very friendly race and well organised. I don't think i'll be entering 2013 due to it been only 2 weeks after the UTMB, and I think my legs will be still a little tired.
Coming into the Finish

Omm 2012 - October- The Howgills

Just a quick mention of this event.
Unfortunately Rachel had to pull out with her knee issue. So Paul Aitken stepped in and we decided to take part in the Medium Score.
The weather on the day was glorious but the wind chill was very very cold.
After our start we made quick progress of knocking off the checkpoints that we had decided to go for in the 6 hours time limit on day 1. The scree was solid on the downhills due to the cold, which made it heavy work on the legs.
Me and Paul at the first road crossing Day 1

We decided to go for one of the further checkpoints that was worth 40 points which turned out to be fairly easy to get to. The day was spent climbing, descending, climbing descending, etc etc. We were both full of cold and I could feel it on my chest making it really hard work. Down to a road crossing, we past Rachel and Tom on their marshaling post. On to the next part of the course we managed another checkpoint, but we missed one and had to make it to the Day 1 finish without incurring a penalty.We did, just, with only 8 seconds spare.
After most teams were in we found out we were in 12th Place. We managed to find a good camping spot and got in the tent to get out of the savage wind. The camp site filled up as this year all classes were using just the one camp site, with about 1500 tents. Some good food was eaten and as it got darker it got colder and the tent was the best place to be.
Day 2 Weather

Day 2

 We woke to typical OMM weather; rain, wind and low cloud. We were up early as were in the chasing start, off at 07:25 we made our way on to the course with only 5 hours to get our points, game on. The first part of the course was hard going with bogs and long tussocks which made hard work running. The weather didn't help either! Back down to a road crossing and we briefly saw Tom and Rachel at another road crossing marshal post. Back on to better running ground, the time was ticking away and we made good progress bagging some more controls with a fine fast descent to the finish with about 8 minutes spare. Once the times and competitors were in we managed 11th Place overall.
Me and Paul, 2nd Road crossing Day 2

It was hard work been full of cold but was an enjoyable event and was great to be out with Paul who is an exceptional navigator, a top job Mr Aitken.

Wednesday 13 March 2013

2013 Running Starts Here

The year started with some good runs in the lakes at home, here in the Dales.

This included an extended Kentmere round, going as far as Whether Hill and down to Haweswater to Mardale head back on to Harter fell to complete the round. A good run with Dave Dixon of about 37km and 1900m of ascent.

Dave Dixon running on High Street

The week after we were out in the snowy Dales and  did a loop up on to Threshfield Moor and towards  Malham Tarn and the Monks path to Arncliffe over to Kettlewell back via the Dalesway path. 36km and about 930m of climbing with Dave Dixon.

My first big event of the year was a new race called the Dark Mountains. This race was everything a traditional 2 day Mountain marathon thrown into one winters night. The brain child of Shane Ohly.

Dark Mountains MM January 26th 2013- Muncaster Castle

The wait was over and we were now at the event centre, which was Muncaster castle, at the foot of the Ulpha fells, the southern fells of the Lake district. Our Race start time was 20:00 the first team out in the A- class which myself and Dave had entered.

The weather forecast was poor and the weather running up to the event wasn't good with plenty of snow been thrown down onto the course.

On the night it was windy and light rain at the start. After a walk to the start we waited for our time by some trees sheltering from the very cold wind. Kit I was wearing was; Skins with running tights over the top, thick winter thermal top and Sealskinz socks and gloves with full lightweight waterproofs which stayed on from the start to the finish.

Off we set at 20:00 and we navigated well to the first couple of checkpoints and the weather didn't seem too bad, the rain was very light ( had we missed the bad forecast). Just as we arrived at the 3rd checkpoint there was a very bright flash that lit the whole sky up followed by a very loud rumble! Well that was the start of Armageddon. The night had; strong gale force winds, sleet, rain, and hail. The terrain had ankle to knee deep snow, knee deep slushy bogs full of freezing melt water. It was going to be a very good navigational and mental and physical challenge!
One piece of kit that was invaluable was the Sunto altimeter watch, which as long as I kept up with re-calibration of it at known heights,  allowing us to navigate successful with the use of the map and compass combination. Onwards and on some parts of the course it was were very hard work, deep snow and toe numbing bogs, with melt water, and at one point a waist deep stream crossing which really chilled me to the core. At this point I felt extremely cold and I was struggling to re-warm, hypothermia was evident. Pushing on we managed to navigate to our control points and there was no time to stop until we were against a wall looking for our next checkpoint when we decided we had to stop to get our extra layers on and try eat some food. Fortunately for me I had some spare gloves which was a great idea for me. The Sealskinz gloves were hopeless on taking them off earlier for a pee, all the lining got bunched up and I couldn't get the glove back on properly and I was running round looking like Dr No! and my hands were getting very cold now.
With new dry gloves on I felt much better, and once we had our extra warm layers on we found the next control and made progress to the manned control post. We now just had to keep going not letting the terrible weather beat us. The next control post took a long time to find in the bad visibility and driving rain. After some great navigation on finding the next checkpoint, there was a lift in our spirits. We were now nearing day light and was met with a raging stream in our path, which we had to travel a fair way up stream to find a safe place to cross. With daylight now here we had only 3 control points to find. The first one was easy but the next checkpoint, I made a small navigational error which I blamed on being tired, which cost us at least half and hour before we got the last control post, which took us on the taped and marked path to the finish line to be met with 3 smiling Marshals and hot tea and biscuits, oh yes what a nice sight that was. All we had now was about 1.5 mile walk back to the event centre and the download and a very welcomed full breakfast and more hot steaming tea. Once at the down load we pleasantly surprised to find we were in 2nd Place in the A class, well pleased with that result especially with the very testing conditions. finishing in 13:50 hrs. 
Me and Dave Dixon at the Start line 20:00

Post Dark Mountains, I had suffered bad with Frost nip in my feet a re-occurrence of last years Fellsman. Even after 5 weeks after the Dark mountains the ends of my big toes are still numb to the touch!

Dalesway Run in under 24 hours

Dalesway 1.3.13

I came up with this idea last year, and even bought the Harvey 1:40000 map that covers the whole route. The problem was when and where I was going to fit it in and at what time of year. 
So far for 2013, I had the Dark Mountains, Fellsman, Montane 50, and UTMB scheduled for the year. The only real gap and to use it as useful training was going to be end of February, beginning of March, to give a good recovery period before the Fellsman. 
The Dalesway route approx. 81/82 miles in length 

This run was planned just for myself and Dave Dixon with some planned stops for water and food. 
From the start at Ilkley we would run to Grassington, with a water top in-between. Then Grassington to Beckermonds, with a water top up. Beckermonds to Dent, with a water top up. Dent to above Kendal A6 crossing, with a water stop in-between. Then the last leg A6 crossing to Bowness finish, again with a water top up in-between. The maximum time I was allowing at the main stops was 10 minutes, with just a few minutes to take on water, or top water bottles up.

Depending on which information you read the Dalesway seems to be between 81 to 84 miles. So I worked out a schedule that was a 4 mph pace on average for the whole route.
Only thing to do now, was to wait for the day to arrive and some half descent weather, especially after the Dark Mountains race!

Me and Dave at the start in Ilkley minutes before set off

Race Day ( well not actual a race)

Arriving at Ilkley forty minutes before the 12:00 start gave us plenty of time to take on the day ahead.
Dave's mum was there for the set off and was going to drive the car to the first water stop. As the clock turned 12:00 we were off on the first leg which follows the river Wharfe all the way to Grassington. Here the trick was to settle into a nice steady rhythm  and not get carried away, and ensure we didn't divert off the route over the wrong style, as they were plenty of them. The weather was perfect, cloudy and dry and not too cold. I was happy to hear my first Curlew this year, a sign of spring was round the corner. Time past without any problems and Addingham seem to come and go before  we were running under the A59 on to the old stone bridge and on the Bolton Abbey Estate. Passing the Abbey and over the footbridge back on to good solid paths to the Cavendish Pavilion and back on to the left hand side of the Wharfe and in to Strid woods. From the start  I was surprised at the amount of walkers about on a Friday afternoon, quite busy. Past the Strid which looked quite tame for the good dry spell that we have had a while. Crossing the Wharfe again over the stone bridge we were in sight of Barden bridge and a planned water stop and top up. A quick stop at the bridge and me and Dave had settled nicely into what so far was all runnable from the start. The next part went great, passing Howgill and turning back onto the Wharfe towards Appletreewick. The paths so far were surprisingly dry which made great running. We were soon at Burnsall and crossing the Wharfe again to run past the Red lion pub and back along the left hand side of the Wharfe passing Loup Scar an Impressive outcrop of Limestone.
Me on the move by Loup Scar

The weather had improved and in places there was blue sky and the Sun was threatening to join us.
The running was steady and good and Im sure we were managing to put the world to rights as we travelled, oh and gat and style counting!  Soon we were over the suspension bridge and Grassington wasn't far away at all, this leg seemed allot shorter than it did on paper. Linton Falls and our first view of Grassington bridge. Up through the houses and up on to Chapel Street, and our support crew would hopefully be waiting at the start of Back lane. Met By a very enthusiastic Sid and Sandra and Daves mum we had our first warm brew and sandwich.
Our first stop at Grassington

We were up 40 minutes from my Schedule estimate, and we both felt good after doing the first 16-17 miles. Only problem was that Cathy Bradley was going to run with us from Grassington, but were early. Once fuelled we were off on our leg 2 and we were joined with Sid. We had our first proper climb of the day so far up onto Lea Green, which is easily runnable with fresh legs, and the nice gentle path that traverses this section quite away from the River Wharfe. Now we were above Conistone on past the well named Conistone Pie to very good running until we dropped down past Scargill House on to a small tarmac section. Which we stayed on all the way to Kettlewell, to meet the support crew in the car park and also to meet up with Cathy, who was going to run with us to Dent. A quick top up and we were off back over the wharf and to follow the river on the Left had side all the way to Buckden. In the valley floor we were treated to around 30 - 40 Oyster Catchers which was nice to see on the 1st March. This section was full of wildlife as we spotted a couple of young Deer  not far from us just to the side and then there were more dear, and little further on more running towards Firth Gill. I think we counted nine in total. Passing through Buckden the sky was starting to fade and the night sky wasnt' far away. Fortunately we asked the support crew to meet us at Yockenthwaite, which was a good call as we needed our head torches to get us to the official stop, at Beckermonds. Back over the wharfe and on towards Deep dale which took us back over the wharfe on to the left hand side of the wharfe up the top end of Langstrothdale (one of my favourite areas of the dales). In front we could see  the lights of Beckermonds and our foot bridge to finally leave the Wharfe behind for good to the end of leg 2. Food stop number two and around 29- 30 miles of running completed. This is where we said good bye to Sid for is company all the way from Grassington.
 The next section saw the start of a climb up out of Oughtershaw to the track that leads past Nethergill and Swarthgill  up to Cam Houses, including a very spooky looking end cottage which at night didn't look inviting and spurred us on to quickly do the last climb on to the Cam High road and the Highest part of the Dalesway route. Good running now on the track. The stars above  were amazing, not a cloud in the sky and it was easy to make out the shapes of Penyghent and Ingleborough in the distance. The track led us towards Ribblehead, the train station with it Christmas lights on, well thats what they looked like. Up to Gearstones and a quick top up with water from our support crew and we were climbing up Winshaw and traversing over to the Black Rake road to join the tarmac road down to Dent Viaduct. The road was icy in places which made the descent interesting!
Now for the run along the longest tarmac section of the route and passing a very inviting Sportsman Inn and  the front door was open beckoning us inside. But onwards through the next section which zig zags through fields.  Cathy did a great job with the map over this complicated section, with a few missing way markers. We crossed over the river Dee, where we saw some deep water in a limestone trench which had a beautiful blue tint to it. Onwards and was Dent ever going to arrive. The section from the Viaduct to the village seem to take forever and I am sure someone was moving Dent towards Sedbergh! Following round the North East side of Dent after a few hundred meters, we met the road and it was the end of this long leg. Leg 3 complete, with around 46 miles in total and over  half way. This is where Rachel was to take over the support duties from Sandra and Dave's mum What a great job they did in keeping us fueled up. This is where Cathy left us and what a fantastic job she did at keeping us going and some great map work too.
Me, Dave and Cathy in Dent over 46 miles so far

The night  air was getting colder and it was noticeable more colder down by the rivers. Running down the next few fields we were greeted with a couple of flashes, as Rachel had pulled over to take some photos where we crossed the road back on to the river bank. It was a good job Rachel stopped here, my hands were freezing and my warmer windstopper gloves were needed.
Me and Dave back on the path NW of Gawthrop

Onwards and soon back on Tarmac, until we turned off back over the river and the climb up and over towards Milithrop. With good clear views of  Silhouettes of Crook and Winder and the lights of Sedbergh below. We quickly turned to follow the river Rawthey to skirt Sedbergh before turning up towards Lincolns Inn Bridge and a water top up stop. We arrived and saw a sleeping Rachel in the car. A quick top up and we were away not wanting to cool down in this very chilly winters air. North following the river Lune up to the Crook of Lune bridge and turning, running south, parallel to the M6 motorway. Just over 1km and we crossed the M6 and back to more field and style hopping we crossed the railway line with the start of a Diversion on the Dalesway due to a footbridge at Thursgill that had been washed away last year. This meant over 2 miles of tarmac bashing but it only probably added a few hundred meters to the overall distance. It had now just gone 06:00 and there was light sky slowly appearing behind us. Great I had managed to do the night section without using a Caffeine gel.
We  dropped down a track with the A6 in front, and as we got towards the end of the track and we could see Rachel's car parked up. This time she saw our lights and greeted us at the end of this long leg and now we had completed around 65 miles and now we could get some food down, and for me the need to get  some extra layers on, it was very cold.
Last fuel stop, Extra layers on and scoffing pizza

Off we went over the A6 to pick up a track and now we had left the head torches behind and day light was getting brighter. It was a  cracking morning, clear blue skies and very frozen ground which didn't make running easy on the frozen divots. Good ankle strengthen exercise. Closing in on us was a very large smoking factory north of Burneside and we now picked up the River Kent to follow it all the way to Stavely. On to the road towards Stavely we turned off and under the railway track to the bridge that crosses the A591 and meet up with Rachel for our last water top up before the last few miles towards the finish at Bowness.
Dave Pushing upwards, a cracking morning nearing Bowness

 The last few miles wern't going to let us get to the finish easily, the path climbed and turned left  then right etc etc and Bowness just didn't seem to arrive quickly at all. The cloud was building quite quickly and we were lucky early on to get the best weather of the day. The ground was still very hard and the air was cold after the last few styles and more path turning. Lake Windermere was getting closer then next we seem to be running parallel with the lake and then, eventually we turned back towards the lake.  Rachel met us 200m from the finish and followed us to, at last, the finish of the Dalesway and a very inviting stone bench..
Me and Dave on the last 200m of running to the finish

Well what an outing, great company and we were lucky with the weather. It did feel very cold towards dawn but some fatigue and tiredness will have added to the lowering of our body core temperatures.
I used a Garmin Fenix watch to track the full route and it was set on 'UltraTrac' setting which laid down a GPS point every 1 minute, so there will be a percentage loss in the full distance recorded.
The statistics for this were 129km with 1697m of ascent.  about 80.1 miles and 5566 feet of ascent our average pace was 6km/hour in a total time of 21:50 and with knocking the stops off 20:50 running time.
The end of the Dalesway and a well earned sit down

Dave suffered with a groin problem which worsened towards the last 10 miles or so, I decided to play football with a large rock which caused a very sore toe and impressive blood blister. I also had problems with swollen tendons to my right lower shin area, but this didn't really come on until I stopped running. The Salomon S Lab XA Skin  packs were really good, with excellent weight distribution and comfort. It was nice to have no rub point from a running pack.
A big thanks Dave for an excellent run and for Rachel, Sandra, Cathy, Dave's Mum, and Sid for all there support and help which without there help we wouldn't have been able to complete without carrying everything for the whole route.