Category: Recces


Its a bit of an odd one this week.

We’ve got a man down with a damaged ankle and three of us did arguably the biggest weekend of our training so far this year. So how is it the guy not training is the only one not to gain weight this week???

Well it may seem odd but actually it makes perfect sense. Wayne, Chris and I trashed ourselves this weekend with over 28 miles from Pooley Bridge to Ambleside on Saturday and Chris and I did another 15 miles from Ambleside to Consiton on Sunday.

The ascent was over 3,000m, nearly 10,000ft, which means lots of descending too meaning smashed quads as well as other muscles.

Up, down, over she goes!

Up, down, over she goes!

With all that activity comes DOMS, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, and your body/muscles swells with excess fluid and blood from those muscles being worked and in some cases damaged.

Our muscles use glycogen (a water/glucose concoction in our muscles) for energy and when we work hard we deplete the glucose leaving behind just the water, which is very heavy.  Some of this water is reused in the body and some is removed via sweat or urine.

So the body needs more energy, produces more glycogen and even more water making us heavier! We also take on lots of water for hydration, likely before, certainly during and more so after the event.

Water, whilst good for you, is also very heavy. 1ltr = 1kg!!!

Now I’m sure I’ve not got this info 100% correct but it gives the general idea of why you’re generally heavier after exercise. Oh and that’s not mention all the goodies on offer at the Lakeland 50 recce checkpoints such as flap jack, jaffa cakes and Swiss bloody roll!!!!

So with all that in mind here’s how this weeks weigh in is looking:

Wahey in, June 25th

Wahey in, June 25th

Chadders still leads the way and by doing nothing Glyns closed the gap on us all!!

Stay tuned peeps, still a chance to catch him.

 

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Solo but not too slow

Making the most of an opportunity to skive a day off work on Friday (I work for myself) and with all the other guys busy I decided on a solo out and back run from Edale.
An early start meant I’d be there for around 9am, straight forward enough to get to but with some very narrow and steep roads taking down to the bottom of the vallley my first thoughts were it could even be an issue to make the start line in January if the weather is bad, salt bins by the sides of all roads leading in says a lot!!
Pulling into the car park at 9.10 with the sun trying hard to break through the thinning clouds made conditions great for running all was good, well all was good apart from a little lack in self confidence on my part with the map, I’m ok reading and understanding maps but this was the first time I’d been out somewhere completely unknown and alone, knowing the pennine way route should be reasonably clear on the ground helped to ease my concerns, my confidence issue should be put right with my upcoming Mountain Skills nav course with the guys at http://www.nav4.co.uk !
Leaving the car park and heading out to the start location with my map in hand it wasn’t long before my first challange…… Yep there I am walking along when a couple appear from over a fence and ask if I can set them on the right path as they think they’ve lost there way…… Trying hard not to look as lost as they do we consult my map and there route description booklet and realise they are indeed on the wrong path and need to continue on the road with me a little further, a quick chat about my outing and upcoming Spine Challange and were soon parting ways as they head off on the right path…… Good deed done and almost appeared to know what I was doing Phewwwww.
Head out on the Pennine Way and its a nice incline heading up and out of the valley

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All good on the route / map front and I’m soon at the foot of Jacobs Ladder, a short but fairly steep climb sees me at the top with a magnificent Cain marking a great view back down the valley

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Another short climb and I’ve got an amazing view looking across another valley with Kinder Reservoir out to my left, a quick check on the map and I can see Cluther Rocks ahead which is the next point to head towards, a rough flagstone path easily shows the way and I’m making good time and plodding along nicely, reaching the rocks and suddenly my route has disappeared and I’m faced with a boulder field !!!
Time not to panic check the map and move forward slight traces of footsteps here and there and the sight of another Cain in the distance confirms im right and continue on through the rocks

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It’s was shortly after that I made my one and only navigation mistake, I’d come to Kinder Downfall and was expecting a good crossing point or bridge to show the crossing of the stream at top of the falls but there was nothing, with the now clear again path continue in along the stream edge I followed the path for what must have been another half a mile, checking the map it showed the crossing as right at the head of the falls and I was now clearly a long way from there so I turned round and went back, checking I’d not missed the crossing I was soon back to the falls and still not seen anything, picking a safe route across keeping dry feet was easy and after a small climb over some rocks I found the path on the other side, lesson learnt don’t always look for a bridge ect but trust the map.

The route from here was well trodden and easy to follow, more ups and down before hitting a crazily steep decent before climbing back up Mill Hill

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Top of mill hill a quick bite to eat and I’m off running yes running !!!!! Down a flagstone path with Peat Bog either side heading towards the A57, nothing strenuous so far as accent or decent and open moorland on all side is making it a bit of a boring section…. Sometimes we’re spoilt with the views we get when out.
This soon changed when running toward a section of path that was covered by a large black mucky puddle, thinking I’d run to one side to avoid the deep middle bit I’m soon knee deep in the bog and laid face first in the puddle !!!! Yes I’d obviously stepped of the path edge and straight into the thick of it, several loud choice words later and I’m upright dripping wet and covered head to toe !!!

Lesson number two learnt….. Do not step off the path !!!!!!!

This section could be really tough if its thick snow up there in January, with the path been level with the side bogs its gonna be very hard to stay on the path, I had spare layers with me so a five min stop and I was clean and dry again and soon arrived at the A57 with a little over 12 miles under my belt, time to be sensible, turn round and start heading back before i get to far, a better crossing of the puddle of doom and making good time on the flagstones again i was soon back enjoying some great views back towards Cluther Rock this time from the opposite side of the water fall, funny how you don’t seem to be going for long but things look along way off when your heading back towards them, a perfect crossing of the stream at the correct point, a slightly better crossing of the boulder field and I was we’ll on my way back to Edale

Coming back down Jacob’s ladder I was starting to feel very thirsty and the on set of muscle cramps were starting to come fast and strong, after the surgery I’ve had on my legs circulation isn’t great and cramping in both quads is often a big problem for me, I’ve learnt that lots of electrolyte helps massively and started drinking as much as possible when i suddenly realised I’d drank the 1 1/2 litres of fluid I’d taken with me, a quick stop to take my emergency half litre from inside my pack and I was back on my way thinking how poor my hydration could have been with out the emergency bottle….. I’d passed no where that I could have re-filled with water and the one and only stream at the falls was a very yellow/orange colour that I wouldn’t have fancied drinking.

Considering I was now around 20 miles I was wondering how were going to make the one and only checkpoint at 50 miles during the event, certainly shouldn’t be sweating as much in January but I think this could still be an issue ???

Final pic of the run back into edale

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It was a very enjoyable if not a touch lonely day out on my own that totalled a little over 23miles.

So to sum the day up
1. My map reading and confidence in my ability to do so was improved, there really is no substitute for just getting out there and having a go, although knowing it should be an easy to follow route/path double checking and noticing feature on the map and landscape certainly helped.
2. Do NOT to step of the path around very boggy areas.
3. How very valuable emergency supply can be.

Onward and upward as they say, http://www.ultratrail26.com/ultratrail26/howgills.html is my next long trot out and looking forward to my next outing with the full http://www.ultramadness.co.uk chaps

OK, it was to be a simple recce this one. Of course we’d be tracking the Pennine Way out of Gargrave where the route quickly picks up and follows the River Aire to its head. Its then onto up and over Malham Cove, around the Eastern shores of Malham Tarn, around Fountains Fell, up onto the summit of Pen-y-Ghent before finally descending into Horton in Ribblesdale.

This time were attempting the 19 mile leg, packs fully laden with the required kit such as a tent, sleeping bag, clothing suitable for the inevitably challenging elements come January, food, 1st aid kits etc etc.

We set of at a reasonable pace, of course come the Challenge we’d have already covered some 70-75 miles or so at this stage so it’s unlikely we’d be moving at not much more that 3-4 mph.

Navigation was pretty straight forward taking us out of the town and onto open fields with indistinguishable paths so it’s worth paying attention on these bits. If were here in the dark or if the weathers closed in then we may need to rely on some hand railing the walls/fences that bordered the fields.

Once down to the river we followed this pretty much all the way to Malham Cove crisscrossing it a couple of times but it was pretty straightforward. Upon reaching the cove we climbed the 400 irregular stone steps that was our route and once we’d ascended these it dropped us on the limestone pavement.

These steps are unlikely to be welcomed on the event proper and will bring back memories of the ‘Tilberthwaite steps’ just after the final checkpoint on the Ultra Tour of the Lake District, although on the Spine Challenge we’ll still have a few over 20 miles to go at this point.

We should have been awarded with amazing views back down the valley at this point but sadly not today! The weather was atrocious and further down the valley a couple of the guys had put on their waterproof trousers.

I donned mine at the top of the cove just out of the wind; much to Wayne annoyance as he’d blasted straight to the top and was now waiting in the wind! I didn’t have my waterproof socks on this section but I was trying my Inov8 268 GTX boots. The last thing I wanted was a repeat of the previous issues id had on the last recce and I knew that now we were on top of the cove the route was to become more and more exposed the further we went.

We headed toward Malham Tarn and right enough the wind was blowing and the rain was coming down hard.

We followed the map closely, there were a few paths crisscrossing our route, and made our way to the Tarn. Just before we arrived we came across a sign post suggesting we’d come the wrong way!

After studying the map since I can see we should have headed right and over the Limestone pavement following Ings Scar toward the tarn, instead we veered of to the left and followed Raven Scar which does bring you out at the same place but isn’t the correct route. Need to make a mental note to be sure we follow this proper!!

It was at this point huddled behind a wall that I put another full waterproof Goretex jacket on so I in total I now had waterproof boots, full length leggings, shorts, waterproof trousers, 2 x base layers, waterproof smock, a jacket and a cap. It was at this point I put my waterproof gloves on too! 

So of we went around the tranquil waters of Malham Tarn, er no sadly not! For all we knew we could have been on the shores of the growling Atlantic Ocean on the North West coast of Scotland as the waves were rolling in and we were virtually unable to see the opposite shore less than 700m across from us!

At around only 7 miles in my day started to take a turn.

The guys were trotting on quite well and quite frankly I was hanging, I then started to drop off the back a little. We passed around the back of Malham Tarn Field Centre along the track through the woods that gave us some respite from the weather but then it was back onto open land headed to Fountains Fell.

We pushed on and crossed the road that takes you down to Arncliffe and some more clothing was required from some of the boys. Sam, our honorary Spiner, had long since got his waterproof cover out for his pack but was now layering up with gloves etc. Soaked gloves were exchanged and additional jackets were added by the other boys.

The wind was now fierce and often gusting and causing us problems to stay upright. I was keeping very quiet by my standards and was wrapped up in my gear and thoughts of wanting this to end.

My feet were dry, legs were a touch cold but only because wed stopped temporarily, body was warm because of the layering I’ve finally worked out and my head was nice and warm wrapped up in a couple of hoods! However the issue was my hands, my waterproof gloves had appeared get wet as they were totally saturated, water had penetrated the membrane inside & my hands were already starting to get very cold.

We cracked on and started the ascent with the wind and rain at our side coming across from the West it was awful and the slog seemed never ending. Soon I was lagging and I could see the boys drifting in and out of the clag that had now come down. I knew that some point we would top out but I also knew that we would then be turning directly into the path of the weather, this I wasn’t looking forward to. I’d been guilty of just following the guys at this point, trusting their nav which was pretty flawless. I’d hope that as we traversed the fell we might get some cover from the weather but there was nothing and it was to be unrelenting.

Fair play to Wayne, he dropped back and walked with me encouraging me to look up,” life’s better when you’re looking at it” he said he was right but it wasn’t pretty! He could see I was really struggling and suggested to use my poles. I said I didn’t need them but he kept on and got them out for me. They helped for sure but in all honesty I was losing a lot of energy and taking my pack off seemed too much effort v’s reward to get the poles.

Once at the top we turned and headed straight into the wind and rain and it was terrible. We started descending above the valley called ‘In Sleets’ (very apt) and made our way to the Stainforth road where we would continue along for about a mile before picking the track up and onto Pen-y-Ghent.

I’d already voiced gentle concerns to Wayne and my capability of making Pen-y-Ghent and also the suitability given the wind. My ascent down to the road was slow and clumsy and as such was making my thoughts even stronger as to tackling the last and biggest climb of the day!

Glyn had a few comedy falls in front of us, I hadn’t witnessed them as they’d got a trot on. Sam and I were a fair distance behind but caught up when we joined the road.

Sam had got to the guys before me and suggested we didn’t do the last climb; I’d caught up a few seconds later and categorically confirmed that I would not be attempting it finding a shorter safer route down to Horton. They knew something wasn’t right as id not even commented on the fact Glyn was covered in mud.

We pushed on along the road, still into the weather, by now my fingers tips were frozen, my back was hurting from the pack weight I wasn’t used to and I just wanted to be lower down that the 400m we were at and out of the weather and I didn’t care how.

I saw a camper van coming towards us and it looked like Sarah’s Mum and Dad, I just wanted it to be them so they could stop, let me in, make me a brew and take me home safe and sound. It so looked like them, same van and everything but sadly they drove on. Madness had set in! A range rover came screaming towards us driving far too fast. I swing my poles at the car gesturing to slow down! He waved back, well I think it was a wave, but it might possibly have been some other gesture at this idiot who’d been franticly waving poles in the air and shouting!!!

We came to the point where I was now becoming stupid(er). We met the path that took us off the road for about 3 miles or so which descended into Horton. I was dead against leaving the road professing it’ll be reet, I can walk down here, likely I’ll get a lift of someone and make my way to meet you guys thinking id be sat waiting for them when they arrived.

It was pointed out that the road didn’t actually go to Horton but Malham, I said I didn’t care and just wanted to stay on the road and make my way that way! The boys made a good case and talked me round. Sam offering to carry my pack for me but I stupidly refused, Wayne suggested we stop for 5 minutes at the farm house and get warm, change gloves etc, again I refused. Truth be told all I wanted to happen was to be able to curl up all foetal in a ditch, keep warm and wait for the wind and rain to stop. It had to at some point, right?

This didn’t happen but by now I was slow, very slow and it was a good track. We made out last turn and finally we descended below the weather and could see Horton.

I could see the boys in the distance, maybe half a mile or so, and once again Wayne had hung back to escort me in! Glyn bless him had gone for the car as it was a mile or so into the village and was going to pick me up and save me the last stretch! Turns out we’d missed him and when he finally came into the café and there we were all safe and sound.

Id popped some warm gloves on out of my pack and my insulated jacket but I was shaking uncontrollably like the proverbial crapping dog. Id downed a bottle of coke, had a large slice of fudge cake, a pint of tea full of sugar, a bowl of soup and some bread. Finally the shaking slowed and then stopped; I started to feel normal again!

We finished up, made our way back to Gargrave courtesy of Glyn who dropped us there for the and Chadders then dropped me home safe and sound in Harrogate on his way back to Hull.

It was here the real fun started, nausea, uncontrollable shaking started again, sweats, headaches and it was all I could do to lie down.

My temperature was up slightly at 38.5 but nothing too serious. I slept a bit, woke, slept, woke and this went on all night seeing most hours!

I rose in the morning and got ready for work feeling the worst I’ve felt in a long time and made an appointment to see the Drs that afternoon.

I made sure I drank a lot of liquid throughout the day laced with electrolytes to make sure I wasn’t suffering from dehydration although id eaten and drank steadily throughout the recce, well much better than I usually do for sure.

My blood pressure was a little low, she’d expected that, resting heart rate was healthily in the mid 50’s (Athlete status for my age) and in pretty good shape all-round although I was showing signs of a virus which I think had fully shown itself at about midday mid recce and simply sapped me of everything!

That coupled with 19 miles, a full pack, horrendous weather and some tough climbs to boot it was hardly surprising I ‘performed’ the way I did!

So I’m slowly recovering and getting back to normal, if you call registering the ballot for the London Marathon in 2014 and entering the Ultimate Trail 100km Ultra in September!

Stay tuned and be sure to follow as I think were gonna have some interesting tales to tell as our training progresses….

Training – it’s all about the lessons Part 2!

Wow. It’s probably fair to say that we’ve had an adventure on today’s Spine recce.  I wrote a while ago about how training isn’t just about getting mileage in the legs, or time on feet, and I think that lesson stands for today’s experience.  I’ll start with last night’s packing for today’s excursion….

The ultramadness team had decided we’d all carry ‘race weight’ in our packs for the jaunt today, which meant carrying a load of the mandatory kit.  It was only when we started weighing the packs that we realised what this actually meant.  When I got to 6.5 kg and realised I had still to put water in (which would be around another 1.5kgs), I decided to take the tent out.  Weather conditions in the South Lakes yesterday (Saturday 27th April) were pretty warm on the whole which very nearly prompted me not to pack some of the essential kit i had planned on.  In the end I put the following in my Aarn 30 litre (and 3 Litres in chest pouches):

Pogu ice spikes – crucial after our last outing and some of the pics from facebook

Montane Alpine stretch jacket

First Aid kit with loads of goodies

Dry sack with Montane fleece, Montane Ice Grip gloves

Dry sack with food – pork pies, babybel, peperami, salt & vinegar crisps

Leki walking poles

Montane Punk balaclava (first outing as it only arrived on Friday)

Montane Atomic DT waterproof trousers – in front pouch for easy access

Clif bars, Peperami, Shot Bloks in front pouch for ‘grazing’

MdS buff

Windstopper head wear

Seal Skins Merino wool gloves and windproof overgloves

Sol emergency shelter

Mountain Equipment Xero sleeping bag

Two raidlight 750ml water bottles secured in front pouches

I very nearly didn’t include all of the clothing, but after our last outing on the Pennine Way, I thought it safer to carry it and not need it.

This morning was stunning just south of Kendal in the South of Cumbria.  I was up at half 6 doing final prep before Glyn arrived to pick me up at 7:10am.  I couldn’t decide whether to put on the new INov8 Roclite Gortex boots that the Endurance Store had sorted for us, or the trusty Inov8 295’s, so i took both with me.  Legwear consisted of Injinji liner socks, Skins, Montane Terra shorts, with a Helly base layer, Adidas t-shirt and Berghaus jacket on top.  Messing around putting the recycling out, it felt chilly outside but not too bad.

Glyn arrived to pick me up and off we went to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where we met the honorary Ultramadness team member – Sammy B, dropped Glyn’s car off, and drove to Gargrave to meet Holohan and Chadders.

Forty minutes or so later and we were all getting our kit (including gloves, hats and buffs) on and off we ambled from Gargrave to Malham.

At a fairly low level, it still felt very chilly, which was to be a good indicator of things to come.  We were having all of the usual banter, most of which is unrepeatable due to bad language or horrendous taste (mostly from Holohan!).  Coming up to Malham, it started to drizzle and Glyn and I put our waterproof trousers on (coats already on for wind protection).  It had been beautiful scenery so far, but as we got closer to Malham Cove, we could see that there was a grey haze obscuring a lot of the view at a higher level.  We got to Malham Cove, and ascended the steps up to the top, and into a slightly different day.  At the top, the wind was fairly howling, and the drizzle got a bit more persistent.  Holohan stopped behind a wall to put his waterproof trousers on, leaving me, Chadders and Sam on top in the wind, prompting some abuse from yours truly.  Once Holohan had sorted himself out, we got moving towards Malham Tarn.  The rain carried on, and my merino gloves started getting very wet and i was slowly getting cold.  Holohan stopped to put another jacket on over the top of his Montane Minimus smock, and then we could see Malham Tarn.  As we circled the tarn on the Pennine Way route, it was getting wetter, windier and colder and the banter was starting to get subdued.  As we saw the waves of rain being blown across the tarn, I was imagining coming along the road in January, with the rain being snow or hail, which was a pretty unpleasant thought.  I think it was at this stage that each of us started getting cold, and we moved into the woods alongside the tarn, grateful of the respite from the wind that this offered.

Having a load of peperami and some of Chadderses awesome granola bar we emerged from the trees and back into the ‘weather’.  Still windy, still raining, and starting to get exposed now as we moved out onto a hillside and out from behind a wall.  With a bit of nav from Chadders, we started moving uphill and into the murk.  Trying desperately to move a bit quicker, with some hefty weights on our back, was becoming an issue.  As we carried on, our hands, amongst other things, were getting colder.  I’d finally decided on wearing my Inov8 295’s and was starting to regret the decision as my feet were now cold and wet, as well as my hands.  As my hands started shaking, I realised I needed to stop and sort out my windproof outers and put them on.  I had to take my merino gloves off, or so I thought, to get in my pack, which proved a mistake, as I couldn’t then get them back on again, and into the windproof ones.  I also put my Montane jacket over the top of my Berghaus one, to try and retain some heat, or at the very least warmth. Glyn had got his Punk balaclava out of his pack as he’d been suffering with the wind on his face, and I think the other guys had sorted a few things out too.  Andy had been struggling for a while with the pack causing his back some grief, and a hot spot on his foot where he had a rub.  We all carried on, uphill, with the wind speed increasing, and the temperature dropping, as well as the rain continuing to hammer down.

I’d noticed Andy was lagging a bit, and remembering how crap it is being miserable at the back, I waited to keep him company, and spent most of the climb together, with Andy being uncharacteristically quiet.  He was grumbling about his hands being cold, his pack being  too heavy, and wondering whether his training was correct.  In fairness, my hands were freezing too, but my pack wasn’t too bad – probably something to do with me removing the tent before i left home!  Andy’s phrase of the day was ‘overloaded and under prepared’. On the training front, it’s still early days in our training plan for the Spine Challenger, and we were expecting to do 20 miles today, give or take.  I offered to get Andy’s poles out of his pack, and then bullied him into agreeing.  I thought it might help take the weight off his back, and give a mental boost.  I think he did start moving faster and before long we were on the top.

We started down the other side, hoping for some respite from the conditions, which wasn’t to happen, and we soon passed large patches of snow, which thankfully weren’t  a sign of  things to come.  Still freezing, Glyn, Chadders and myself started to trot down the hill, which was a bit boggy and subsequently slippery.  Today’s moment of hilarity soon followed as Glyn slipped, sidestepped, slipped, sidestepped, slipped and sidestepped, then did a pirouette of the path and into the marsh grass.  Creased up with laughter I was almost too breathless to shout and ask if he was ok.  Chuckling back, he said he was and trotted off.  Four steps later and he was slipping and ended on his backside.  Cue some more light-hearted banter and more chuckling.  Up Glyn gets and another six steps and there was a thud and off Glyn slid, with some bog surfing action off down the hillside.  No banter or chuckling this time, and Glyn had a serious look on his face but he got up and we carried on.  We were coming down towards a road, before turning left down the road, then after half a mile it was off over Pen-Y-Ghent, which wasn’t a good proposition in these conditions.

We caught up with a guy walking who had a monstrous pack on his back and it turned out he was walking the Pennine Way.  Glyn, Chadders and I had a quick chat about skipping the top at Pen-Y-Ghent and taking an alternative route which was far less exposed.  Sam caught up and shouted ‘ three words “No, Pen-Y-Ghent”.  It wasn’t the time to question whether this was two, or four, words rather than three, so we waited until Andy arrived and explained the plan.

Without labouring the point, we skipped the top, and took a slightly lower level route to get back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale.  All very cold, and very very wet.  It’s amazing how soon you forget how bad you felt things were, and once we were sat in a cafe with a pint of tea, and a bowl of hot soup, the world was a better place.

The realisation for me kicked in once we’d finished our soup.  I imagined how we would feel if we were on the Spine Challenger event in January with 108 miles to complete so I said to Andy, come on then, only another 90 miles to go.  That thought is a tough one.

A recce of two halves…..

Sunday 14th April saw a very early start to meet the rest of the crew at Hawes which we only just made. After a near head on collision with a VW Golf coming toward us  very much on the wrong side of the road was maybe just a sign of things to come……well read on.

We met the boys and ditched the motor at Hawes and made our way to Horton-In-Ribblesdale. The Cumbrian collective at this point were amazed at the value for money car parking charges being only £3.50 for the day.  Half the price than in the Lakes!!! #yorkshire #yorkshire #yorkshire

Upon our arrival at Horton the weather was overcast with a breeze and all was looking good. More astonishment at the car park charges, this time £4.00, but more still more than agreeable for a good day out and a bit like a buy one get one free but across the border.

So which way, amazingly the 1st place we went was to the pub, well the car park of the Crown to where we picked up the Pennine Way. These were to be out first tentative footsteps of what will be our 108 mile epic in January 2014.

We made or way along the Pennine Way and the route which is well signposted and good underfoot all the way to Birkwith Moor and the edge of the forests. We crossed a stream or two and despite having waterproof socks on I was ridiculed for leaping these to ensure I kept my feet dry.

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We’d been doing some good map reading tests along the way following our navigation session with Charlie Sproson, Director of The Outdoor Warehouse, to ensure we knew where we were and paying much needed attention of our surroundings, height and picking up locations across the valley to make sure we worked our timing out from point to point.

We could see the snow capped iconic Yorkshire 3 Peaks, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside. We were also able to see the weather that was chasing us along our route, it didn’t look good.

Our pace was good and Crossing Sike Moor to join with the Dales Way we made great progress up Oughtershaw Side and on toward Dodd Fell. It was here the Cumbrians made good decisions and donned full waterproofs.

THE SECOND HALF

I was sporting a couple of base layers and my new Montane Minimus Smock (review to follow), full length A400 Skins, waterproof socks with Injini liners and my Inov8 295’s. Despite the fact that the wind had whipped up to what felt like gale force and the rain had started I was still toasty warm and didn’t feel I needed my waterproof trousers which were in my pack.

As we followed the track under the summit of Dodd Fell we had to negotiate to snow drifts that were covering the track. In places we were knee deep and underneath was either ice trying to bring us down or deep freezing puddles.

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I had my Kahtoola spikes in my pack but these wouldn’t have been much use as they would have clogged up with the snow being very wet as now the rain which was near horizontal was turning to hail and was making things pretty miserable.

A couple of slips on the ice jarred a few muscles trying to stay upright, much to the amusement of the rest of the boys, and battling our way through the drifts was using all our muscles. This went on for around 2/3 miles!

Working our way along the track towards Ten End seemed to take and age only to be made much much worse by my lace loops snapping causing my shoe to start working loose. I had spare laces in my 1st aid kit and also as a lanyard for my compass (just in case) but on this occasion this wasn’t the issue and the only thing that would have worked was duct taping my shoe to my foot had it got any worse. Note to self wrap some around my bottle just in case!!!

So the rain, which had now got even harder and colder had run down my jacket sleeves and soaked my gloves, it was also so loud on my hood despite my hat that we were unable to hear one another over the noise.

As we topped out at Ten End and crossed Sleddale Pasture I stopped to put on my Berghaus Vapour Storm jacket. For once id acted before I needed to, more as prevention on this occasion, as I was still quite warm but there was zero let up in the rain and I wanted to make sure I didn’t start to get cold. Wayne reminded me to eat here and I popped another chunk of Chris’s amazing Granola! 

What id noticed was that despite my waterproof socks my feet felt very wet. What I hadn’t noticed is that the fierce rain/hail had saturated my skins and was running down my legs, into my socks and in turn was filling them up! Even worse tho was I had bloody cankles!

Now this is an ongoing discussion amongst the Ultramadness team and I was happy to be proved wrong in saying that the waterproof socks/shoes are great, until you get water in them! Water can get in from crossing a river and going over the top of the socks and it being unable to escape, this can cause all sorts of issues if this is for a period of time.

So now I was running in a loose shoe and  waterproof socks with a pint of water in each that had run down my saturated skins! BRILLIANT!!!

Now had I put my waterproof trousers on there would have been no issue at all but as I wasn’t anywhere near cold I simply didn’t feel the need. Even when I stopped to put my GORE-TEX jacket on putting on my over trousers hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Never would I have thought my socks were going to fill with water in such a fashion so less an error more something to think on for next time!

So on we went descending into Hawes. The pasture was very wet and extremely slippery. Normally a fun trot down but my loose shoe was causing my foot to move in my wet sock and cause an issue. I knew we had maybe 3km to go at this point so we cracked on but any longer would be an issue for sure.

Chris had hit the deck 3 times coming down the descent. Fortunately he was able to control these and not aggravate his dislocated shoulder from a trot in the Lakes earlier in the year where he’d slipped on the ice coming down Red Pike above Buttermere in January!

We hit the road and the slipping in the shoe was starting to takes its toll and I felt some blisters forming. Having run down the hill with less coordination than usual had also started to worsen a lower back issue, thankfully only a dull ache was to be the issue! A trip to my Chiropractor to line me back up before our training starts proper is likely required to make sure this doesn’t get any worse, especially as we’ll be carrying so much more weight on the Spine!

We made it back to the car and changed into some warm clothes. My socks were emptied and a ridiculous amount of water was in them. Jury’s still out on this one boys but ill be giving them another go but im really not sure!

This recce had been really valuable for a number of reasons. My base layers, a Rab AEON  ls t-shirt, Montane Bionic t-shirt and Montane Minimus Smock had worked brilliantly with gloves and hat. I’ve been happy with my Skins and shorts for a while now but I’ve still to sort my socks out yet!

I made a sensible decision in putting on my GORE-TEX jacket before I’d needed too and the rain running into my socks was something id never ad even thought about so this had been a valuable lesson! Would anyone else have expected this?

I also had a spare thermal base layer in my pack had I needed it and my RAB Generator insulated smock so things are looking good as to finalising my kit for the Spine Challenge proper! Spare gloves, waterproof, and a spare hat and im pretty good to go in the clothes department.

We’ve a recce from Edale – Wessenden Head planned for the end of April so more fine tuning im sure but all in all a very eventful but invaluable first recce.

Next time we’re on this leg we hope to be finishing the Spine Challenge. It will be very dark, likely we’ll be ridiculously tired, and I suspect very emotional and willing our bodies the last 14 miles to Hawes!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/297840807

 

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The famous 5………

Well it’s a little later than planned but finally here is the update following what turned out to be a hard slog of a recce from Coniston to Buttermere……

8:30am (ish) we actually started from the Walna Scar Car Park to miss out the Coppermines section we know quite well and also hope not to get lost on when we don’t he event proper. If were out of touch of the group by then in the event then we should quite simply turn round and go home!!!

So of we headed up and over the Walna Scar Rd to Seathwaite. We’d already deposited a car at Buttermere the night before (cheers Glyn) so this gave us little option but good incentive to make it all the way along the now 24ish miles via Seathwaite, Boot, Wasdale, Black Sail to Check Point 4 of the Lakeland 100 course in Buttermere! This was the 1st outing of us all together this year and it was to be a test in terms of where we were in fitness and to address the required training etc for the Lakeland 50 in July, the Spine Challenge in Jan and then onto the Lakeland 100 in July 14′

It was a reasonable pull to the top of Walna Scar and we were pleased to see the descent down toward Seathwaite. It was nice to get some proper running in and stretch the legs too. We all made pretty good progress following Long House Gill down to where the track met the road which we then followed to Seathwaite Church. Chris had a touch of the old jelly legs coming down and having refuelled was ready for the next leg to Boot.

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It was interesting as at this point we’d done less than 7 miles and taken it steady up to the top of the Road and id also purposefully taken it steady down the other side too. Reason being is my quadriceps tend to get smashed pretty quickly and today sadly wasn’t to be an exception despite my cautious descent. This is a big issue for me as on my 2nd attempt at The Lakeland 50 I’d been able to get round in a reasonable time (15:40) even with this issue but for bigger, longer races ill really struggle and not really stand a chance! THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED……..

So back to the recce and of we went toward Boot. There are some great recce videos from a chap Call John Knayston,  these videos have proved very useful in giving a few pointers and when he referenced the tight squeeze through the stile he wasn’t joking.

Thankfully all our hard work on the weigh-ins had so far proved to be very valuable!!!

We made our way up and over toward Boot, taking in the boggy section after the very noisy dogs and up through the plantation and down toward Penny Hill farm via the steep descent between the rocky knowles. This section would certainly be interesting and advantageous to be thru well before it got dark!  A couple of tumbles had been had by Wayne and Glyn but nothing too serious.

The weather was glorious and the views around us only further reminded us why we love to be out in the mountains and all day we had barely seen a soul!

photo 3 (2)

We made it to Boot and decided to stop and refuel in the local pub. The landlady looked oddly at me when she asked where we’d come from and were headed for and more to the fact we weren’t on bikes but running!!! Still she was happy to take a ridiculous £15 for 5 cokes and a packet of crisps!!!

So after our ‘refuel’ it was over to Sam for the navving as he’d done this section earlier this year in the snow. No pressure then!!!

We headed up and out of Boot onto the moor taking in Burnmoor Tarn before headed onward and down into the Wadsale valley via the Brackenclose Climbing Hut. We had planned to stop at Wasdale and grab a quick beer en route but our progress hadn’t been super quick so we decided to crack straight on. This was purely a celebratory drink you understand in light of my new daughter Isabelle, Glyn’s new Son Will and Waynes new daughter Eleanor who arrived within just 4 months of one another!

So on we went headed up and over Black Sail Pass, slowly. Well I was for sure and Chris was on my heels. Glyn and Sam went off like trains with Wayne in ‘warm’ pursuit. Its a long climb and makes Gatesgarth out of Mardale Head look like a speed bump. That said once at the top we knew it was down to Black Sail YH, Scarth Gap then we were home, simple eh! WRONG!!!

photo (2)

The descent to Black Sail YH was awful, granted the snow that remained didn’t help but all I could think of was we’d be doing this in the dark for sure doesn’t fill me with joy only made worse as my quads were now shot to pieces!

We took 5 at the Youth Hostel before what seemed a very tame ascent up over and down Scarth Gap Pass, along Buttermere Lake through Burtness Wood to the finish at Buttermere.

It was here we finally had our celebratory pint and raised a well earned glass to our wonderful newborns!

Fair to say it was another great day out and gave us a good idea of where we are moreover what needs to be done between now and July for the Lakeland 50.

All that was left was for Glyn (aka Statham) to drive us back to Coniston and then home…cheers boys, till next time!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/280527546 (watched stopped)

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