Tuesday, 23 September 2014
Since then I raced at Clee Hill and then ran round the Long Mynd Valleys with Zoe, raced the Pendle Champs race and Cribyn.
But four fell races for the year is a fairly low return - mostly because we have been ultra running and mountain marathoning again.
The MM's completed to date are:
2013 RAB - short score
2014 Dark Mountains - short score
2014 Saunders - Kirkfell class
In addition we did the Great Lakeland 3 Day together which is a bit of a crossover between mountain marathon and ultra stage race, with easier navigation but longer days. We managed to complete the Elite route on the Saturday and the Monday, but Zoe's knee was injured midway through Saturday so in foul weather on the Sunday we decided to cut from the Elite to the B course to stay off the highest fells.
In Ultra stuff we DNF'ed the LDWA100 in hideous wet cold conditions on the May Bank Holiday weekend, but neither of us were that bothered as we'd been round it all at Easter on some enjoyable reccie runs. It was a shame for Zoe though, she was moving really comfortably whilst I got so cold I had to stop. Lesson learned - your layering solution has to trap warm air NEXT TO THE SKIN so it's no good wearing a baggy fleece.
We slipped the WOW50 (Wenlock Olympian Walk) in between the Saunders and the Marmot 24, so July was a pretty heavy month) and I found that pretty hard going in pouring rain but on a hot day for the first 25 (including running virtually past our doorstep). The second 25 was in wet fields then on the railway path through Ironbridge, and mostly I just tried to keep up with Zoe. She dragged me round in the end to a 50 mile PB of about 12:10 (we stopped at just on 50 to find headtorches) and an ultimate finish for the 51 miles of 12:30.
Next up we have the RAB (long score this time) which we're treating as a final back to back long run in our training for 100 Miles Sud de France.
I was trying to put together a list of the Ultras I've done now just so I don't forget any!
2011 (Oct) - Long Mynd Hike 50 mile (13:05)
2011 (Dec) - Tour de Helvellyn DNF after 20 miles
2012 (Feb) - Pilgrim's Challenge 2 x 50k
2012 (May) - Ultra Brecon 40 mile
2012 (Jul) - WOW 50 mile (via Lawley and Clee Hill)
2012 (Aug) - CCC (shortened to 87km in horrible conditions)
2012 (Dec) - Tour de Helvellyn 67/148 in 9:05
2013 (May) - Marlborough Downs Challenge 50k in 6:41
2013 (May) - LDWA Camel-Teign Ivor's Dream 100 mile in 33:52
2013 (Jun) - Three Rings of Shap 100k; 35/89 in 19:32
2014 (May) - LDWA Valleys 100 mile (DNF after 43 miles)
2014 (May) - GL3D Elite Day 1 - 50k
2014 (Jul) - WOW 50 mile (via Wrekin and Bridgnorth) 8/97 in 12:30
Monday, 27 January 2014
When we reached the valley bottom we had 3km to cover on better paths but only 16 minutes left. We could travel side by side here, so I let Zoe catch up and started to jog, then run. I didn’t need to tell her how far we had to go or how much time there was, we were going as fast as we possibly could. Through a couple of gates, over a stile. A smoother section of track, and then I could see the factory and the lights around the finish area. We passed two photographers. Then I could see the finish tent.
Finally we had made it in. I checked the watch. Were we on time? Maybe. Maybe a minute or so over, but there wouldn’t be a huge penalty at least. We’d put two 8:30 miles together on a rough farm track, carrying five to ten kilos of kit at the end of an eight hour run. It’d have to do.
(1) work along the north side of Buttermere on the slopes of Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson, then cross the Newlands road to reach the overnight camp; and
(2) get over Honister pass to a group of checkpoints between Borrowdale and Fleetwith Pike, then potentially along the south side of Buttermere or over High Stile to drop into Buttermere village and on to Rannerdale.
Thursday, 3 October 2013
August Bank Holiday weekend is the peak season for the "Marquee" Fell Races, short and sharp races associated with village shows or sports and often with good cash prizes (not that that concerns me, but it makes sure a lot of elite guys come out and tow us mortals round at a reasonable clip).
Mercia planned a weekend away to the two most classic of these very traditional events: Burnsall Feast and Grasmere Sports, both of which are well covered in "Feet in the Clouds".
Burnsall Classic Fell Race
1.5 miles, 899'
Grasmere Senior Guides Race
1.6 miles, 886'
More details and pics to follow...
Monday, 19 August 2013
Quickish Cliffe Run
0:21, 250' (2.3 miles)
Grabbed a fairly quick run around the Cliffe just before dawn - beautiful morning with trails of mist in the wide Severn and Dee valleys either side of me and trees poking out above the sea of grey. Lovely sunrise too.
Thursday 15/08/2013 - evening
Pre-Committee Wrekin Blast
0:34, 900' (2.8 miles)
Squeezed a climbing session out on the Wrekin in between work and Mercia committee. Up the scree gully to Halfway House, down Beeches to the bottom, then up the BMX track and the main path to the summit. Down via my network of tracks on the east face to pick up the main track at the hairpin below Halfway House. Pushed fairly hard tonight, good session, climbing ok. Descended quickly but fairly easy.
Sunday 18/08/2013 - morning
0:45, 450' (1.1 miles) - walk
1:05, 1,600' (4.9 miles) - run
Coached basic nav skills to a group of 12 this morning. Walk - trip to bottom of Hundred Steps, then Townbrook reservoir and return over hill in Rectory Wood. Run - relays leg 1, followed this pretty much exactly with Kate W, Steve T and Steve B. Plenty of stops to practise map and compass work. Nice run with some quicker sections. legs a little tired on Yearlet.
Sunday 18/08/2013 - afternoon
2:25, 2,050' (10.4 miles) - slow run
Cleared up coaching session and went straight over to the other side of Stretton to run a reccie of the second half of the Skyline with Zoe. All fine until Gogbatch, climbing quite well, then suddenly desperately tired and quite low. Dehydrated too. Found our way back to All Stretton via Plush Hill and a bit of the Batch Bash route only to discover the pub was shut. Walked back to Church Stretton along the road. Finally the blind blisters on my heels from the Hundred have moved forward a bit with one blowing up and tearing (the skin underneath is nice an hard though so it should be ok). I thought I'd done the job at Stiperstones, but it's taken another month and the use of an unusual pair of socks!
5:10, 5,250' (21.5 miles)
Another rather easy week, need to do some proper session planning. Two short relatively quick sessions, but were they hard enough? And was the running on Sunday easy enough? Evidently not in the conditions. Mileage a little low, but a reasonable amount of climbing. Would like to keep climbing >5,000' per week as I have found I go quite well off that. Distance could creep up a bit.
Thursday, 8 August 2013
Friday 26/07/2013 - evening
MAF Pace Jog
0:31, 300' (3.0 miles)
Three easy miles around Nesscliffe. A loop round the very outside of the school field is 400m, useful for future reference...
Sunday 28/07/2013 - morning
2:37, 1,650' (11.0 miles)
The Gritstone Tryal is a navigation event run by Ian Ankers of Staffordshire Moorlands AC. The format is simple - you're given a map with numbered checkpoints marked on it when you arrive and have up to an hour to decide how to get round the checkpoints (in order). The event then commences with a mass start. Zoe and I thought we had plenty of time to sort the route out, but in reality I was still marking my map up with ten minutes to go.
|Event map - my mark-up in blue|
We selected the better line for leg 2 but ruined it with some poor execution, losing the indistinct ROW and being drawn too far round the valley. We came out on the minor road instead of a slightly more major one, I forgot the road width coding on the map and we turned the wrong way to compound the initial error. I thus ended up doing the tough bit of my intended line (first half) and the tough bit of the other line (second half). Never mind.
Leg 3 was predominately across fields with three shallow valleys to cross. The first sunken lane we used was atrocious, boggy and rough under 3' high reeds. We then had to duck under trees for the next 200m and climb a fence where there was no sign of a stile (near Well Springs Farm). The uphill section to Colshaw was fine, although we use the field adjacent to the sunken lane as it was a lot easier going. We had to be careful across fields near Colshaw not to get drawn off our line by the sight of many other competitors over to our right who'd chosen a hiller but possibly slightly shorter line crossing the valleys a little further downstream. Our next valley crossing was gained by some desperate descending through another scrubby wood with little sign of the ROW on the ground. We found the footbrige OK though and the climb up the next field wasn't too bad. There was no ROW signing after Brand Top and nothing on the ground - a descent on a grassy spur gave onto 250m of hideous bog with neck high reeds: fortunately I found a way through on flattened sections to the final stream crossing. I did manage to get my head up on the way down and had noticed a nice newly mown hayfield roughly where the right hand option was for the final climb to CP3, so we cut across to that leaving some other competitors labouring on much rougher ground and reached CP3 ahead of a few folk.
The leg to CP4 was obvious and very runnable and we put in a good effort here past the HSE fire testing grounds at Turncliff. There were several burnt out tube carriages over to our left at one point. We also passed Stanley Moor Reservoir. This large rectangular structure was built over underlying material honeycombed by solution holes and caverns and was decommissioned about ten years ago under the supervision of one of my colleagues. The works removed a large wedge of the dam on the east side and used the material to partly fill the impoundment, creating a series of wildlfe pools. CP4 was another manned checkpoint - Ian had driven out here from the event centre to do the honours.
I'd looked carefully at the leg to CP5 and come up with an option which was about 3 km, mostly on trails. There was a road option which was nearly 4 km but it meant running 2 km along the busy A53 and a less obvious approach to CP5 itself across rough ground so I'd decided there was no advantage in it. Zoe hadn't trained at all while she was in Uganda and she suffered up the climb to the A54, feeling sick and with jelly legs. We slowed right down and I told her not to worry, she'd feel better in a bit. She forced herself to run most of the section over Axe Edge Moor, but we lost about 5 places on this leg. The checkpoint itself was easily found and we had a welcome cup of water there.
I'd decided to take a direct line from CP5 to CP6 across the moor but after 200m I could tell Zoe was really struggling so we cut back to the fence all our competitors were following and went down that until we were level with a small knoll on the right which was obvious on the map. As the others went straight on on a more circuitous route, Zoe and I took a bearing (which conveniently coincided with Shining Tor, clearly visible to the west) and we walked across rough moorland nearly 1 km and dropped in 50m north of the checkpoint exactly as planned. This meant we'd overtooken all of the guys who'd passed us on the way from CP4, so I was pretty pleased with the leg.
We had a cunning plan for leg 7 too. The more obvious routes used rights of way across farmland between Blackclough and Knotbury, but they looked navigationally complex, so I'd come up with a line to the west, using a byway which would lead up to the road and thence the checkpoint. As a further refinement we could cut a corner where the track zigzagged down a steep hill and save another 200m. The plan worked perfectly and by CP7 we'd shaken off everyone following except Jackie Keasley from Helsby RC.
Leg 8 was straightforward up over Wolf Edge and down to a checkpoint on the last wall before Flash vilalage. Even so we lost half our lead ovr Jackie as Zoe and I both missed a stile on our right near the top of the climb and had to backtrack 20m.
We clipped at CP8 and just had 400m of road running in to the finish, where we found to our surprise that Zoe had won a bottle of wine for finishing 2nd lady! Although the running was pretty comfortable for me I did feel myself getting into it around CP5 and feeling fairly strong.
A good morning out, great views, a good nav challenge and a decent long run for us both - thank you to Ian and all your helpers.
Friday, 2 August 2013
MAF Pace Climbing Reps
0:53, 750' (3.5 miles)
Got out with the dog on a slightly less hot evening. I'm trying to work on my climbing after the issues I had in Norway controlling my HR on the ascents - and I realise I hadn't done much structured fell work since well before the hundred, so it's probably been three months. Tonight I stayed local, jogging over to the bottom of the steepest sustained climb at Nesscliffe, the one I call "School Gully". I tried to climb well within myself, powerhiking and breathing through my nose every two paces, slowing down if I started to get out of breath or felt my HR creeping up. At the end of each climb (about 3.5 minutes) I jogged down the easy steady descent (about 5.5 minutes) ready for the next climb. Four reps tonight, but that was because the dog was getting hot and tired :-) Felt good, got to try to do this session or something similar more often. Probably didn't gain full fat burning effect though because I was starrving when I got in and had a Twix just before I went out to run...
Wednesday 17/07/2013 - evening
Stiperstones Fell Race
0:37 plus warm-up, 1,250' (3.7 miles)
I hadn't done a short fell race for too long! They are fun, even if you're not properly trained for them and you are tired. Primarily this was a good opportunity for some intense training, and I decided beforehand to work as hard as I could for as long as I could without risking damaging myself. I should have started a little quicker on the wider section as I got badly held up on the first climb and descent but by the second climb I was pretty much in the right place in the field. At the top of the steep section of the second climb, the character of the route changes completely, from singletrack to an ATV road, which continues to climb at about 1:10 for nearly a mile. I struggled up here and did a deal with myself to keep running. I did manage to run the route out, only Paul and Val passed me up this section and they are both considerably quicker than me on the flat. I held position on the steep technical descent but by the road my heels were burning hot (it was a very warm dry night) and I eased off for fear that the damaged skin from the ultras would give out altogether and I'd have a recurrence of the foot problems I had after Three Peaks in 2011. In the end they just about held together and a dunk in the stream at the end saved them! I lost about 7/8 places on the final run-in but wasn't bothered, and given the lack of any specific prep I was quite happy with 37:09 and 34th place of 79. My previous race was not a good one (in 2011, after no sleep whatsoever the night before, I'd run 43:41.
Saturday 20/07/2013 - afternoon
Very Easy Run on Snowdon
1:51 (moving time), 2,100' (7.6 miles)
My friend Mel got her first England cap today, in the Snowdon International Mountain Race. I went out to support, setting off up the hill 20 minutes before the start of the race after a natter with some of my many friends who were running. I jogged up to about the 1,250' point and waited for the lead runners. I stood chatting and taking photos as most of the field came up. Mel looked great and very happy in her shiny new England kit! Then walked gently on up with some of the back markers - it would have been rude to run past them... At 2,200' I met Al Tye, and stood with him for a while as the leaders and the first third of the field came back down. I then headed off in the extremely strong sun and heat, picking a nice line down into the valley under Cloggy cliffs, then diagonally up steep rough ground to pick up the Snowdon Ranger path above the Cwm Brwynog - Cwm Clogwyn col. From there a still over the fence leads to a sketchy but lovely traversing path under Moel Cynghorion. I cut across the Afon Arddu valley and climbed up to Hebron Station to pick up the main Llanberis path as the tail enders were finishing the race, and stopped at the ice cream barn for a 99 and a Fanta on the way back to the event field. Paul Jones of Mercia had won the V40 open race and Mel had done great finishing between Pippa Maddams and Helen Berry as second counter for the England ladies. A meal in the Corn Mill in Llangollen on the way home rounded off an excellent day.
Sunday 21/07/2013 - lunchtime
Burway Hill Climb (Coaching Session)
0:42 (moving time), 650' (3.6 miles)
Did our first Mercia summer coaching session this morning. Mostly on uphill technique. Afterwards 19 of the 23 students, plus Tom and myself, went for a run up Burway Hill putting some of the technique into practise. Mostly back marked and coached.