Tag Archive: fitness

2,014 in 2014…….?

Well in simple terms it means 6 a day, 39 per week or the equivalent of 168 per month. That’s miles, 2,014 miles to be run throughout 2014!!!

To put into context 2,014 miles equals either more than 600 park runs, 75+ marathons, 150+ half marathons or 40 Lakeland 50 Ultras!!!

The beginning of my year has been dealt a rather large blow given I can no longer compete at the Montane Spine Challenger 108 mile challenge due to work commitments.

I have various events already lined up or penciled in the calendar which include the Great Lakes 3 Day Event, Woldsman, the Fellsman perhaps and of course the Montane Lakeland 50 in July as my ‘A’ race of the year followed by The Grand Tour of Skiddaw closing the year out as this year with The Tour De Helvellyn!!

I’m signed up to #Jantastic so can track early progress there and will also be posting on my Garmin Connect account!

There are some simple rules to follow and all need to be recorded so Garmin chargers at the ready. Otherwise they are as follows:

  • Putting on my running gear on and running first thing on a Saturday morning for one mile or more = a run
  • Running to catch a bus on my way home = not a run
  • Running to and from work, separated by a day in the office = two runs
  • Running to the cafe, enjoying a brew for 10 minutes, running home = one run
  • And of course, only runs allowed so no cycling, swimming, hikes or strolls into town!

So with all that in mind and some large events lined up you’d think running 3 half marathons a week quite easy, well lets find out shall we!


Lakeland 50 – tough on the mind and body

It’s taken some time after the event to work out what went wrong and right for me during Lakeland but in time I’ve come to terms with the ups and downs so here’s my story of an amazing race !

I’d been very aware that I’ve not done as much training as I have on previous years for the L50 and think with this been my third attempt I’ve become a little complacent with it, as 27th July got closer I became more and more concerned at my lack of training and dark thoughts of been unable to complete started to raise there ugly heads, the other ultramadness chaps all appeared very positive with talk of smashing last years times and even the mention of a 12hr finish all of which cast a darker cloud through my mind.
Last year and again this year we made the L50 part of a family holiday and rented a cottage for the week after the race, its great when the family can be part in my running events, after a steady ride to the lakes we made our way to the school and I passed through kit check, weigh-in and registration with no hic-ups or problems, I now have a ‘dibber’ attached to my wrist, this is a little plastic tag that you place into a small box at each checkpoint, it’s automatically updates on a live tracker so family and event organisers can track and see where everybody is on the route. There’s a very special and positive buzz around the school as all the 100’ers prepare for there race starting at 5.30pm …. Yes that’s right there’s a 100 mile( actually 105) Race going on as well, thoughts of I’m only doing the small run fill my head and ease the nerves somewhat.
Meeting up with the other chaps there some great banter flying around after our final weigh-in and were all enjoying the late afternoon sunshine as we watch the 100mile hero’s start there journey of the circular route around the lakes, these guys and girls have 40hrs to make it back to Coniston so some of them will be out and competing for two nights before they finish there journey!!!!
More fun as we watch and cheered on all the kids taking part in the Lakeland 1, a kids 1mile event, again another great event to keep the family included, my son Daniel took part again this been his second year, he ran an amazing race and finished 3rd in a time of 5min 15 sec for the mile !!!!
For a 9yr old that’s pretty impressive and I know I couldn’t have kept up with him!!!
A couple of beers to calm the nerves and its soon bed time, after a restless night the alarm sounds at 7am and I’m nervously dressing for a long day ahead, a hearty breakfast and drive back to the school sees us all herded into the main hall for compulsory briefing, it’s very hot and sticky, there’s an air of nervousness filling the room but after a short time were all outside and readying ourselves for the trip to our starting point Dalemain.
Pulling into Dalemain and parking up I exit van feeling very very nervous of what lay ahead, trying to push thoughts of DNF’ing out of my head I wonder if I’d be better DNS’ing (Did Not Start)!!!
The opportunity of 5min alone came with a small walk with the dog, a stern talking to myself and looking around thinking how lucky I was to be able to take place in something like the Lakeland puts my into a better place mentally and I think I’m ready to go, all to soon were saying good bye to family and friends and walking into the starting pen, by now its incredible warm with the midday sun beating down, I’m already hot wearing a compression skin and t-shirt but its a combination I always use that works for me.
5-4-3-2-1 were off…… Oh shit will i make it !!!! pass’s through my mind as i cross the line !!!!!
It’s a nice gentle start with a 4mile loop around Dalemain before heading out on the main route back to Coniston. A couple of miles in and I’m aware that I’m working a little to hard to keep up with Andy and Glyn so I slow my pace to what’s comfortable for me and relax a bit more knowing that Wayne’s stayed with me and not pushed on with the others, a few gates to pass through always has us queuing patiently and at one particularly long queue I turn to talk to Wayne only to realise he’s nowhere in sight, I look back along the que but still can’t see him ? Did he pass me and I didn’t see him? I spot Andy and Glyn quite a bit up in front but still can’t see Wayne ? By the time I’ve got through the gate Andy and Glyn are well out of sight and it’s not long before I’m running back past the start area about to exit onto the main route, one last wave and good luck from the family and I’m fighting back the emotions as I realise I’m still unsure about my ability to finish and I’m now on my own !!!!!
Not long before I’m passing through Pooley Bridge and cheers from the crowds and amazing support from Sarah (Andy’s partner) and her parents lift my spirits and send me off towards the first section of open fell, not long and I spot a familiar figure ahead, it’s Glyn he’s slowed a bit after realising he too was working a bit too hard in the early stages to keep up with Andy, I should say at this point Andy has worked incredibly hard this year to increase his speed and fitness and all the effort was certainly showing today as he powered on looking very comfortable.
Great to be with a mate instead of my on own with my ever changing thoughts, chatting to Glyn soon pass’s the time and we’ve made it to the top of the long steady climb out of Pooley, Glyn stops to remove a layer and we agree that he’ll catch me up as I slowly trot on, I’m soon into the first checkpoint and feeling good but pretty hot, I quickly Dib in and re-fill both my water bottles before heading back out towards checkpoint two, I did think Glyn should have caught me by now and wondered where he was… Oh well I’m back on my own and heading out toward what I find the toughest section of the whole route, there are plenty of people both in front and behind me but I strangely still feel alone ! Onward and upward I head as I climb over Fusedale the longest and highest climb of the whole route, i usually make this climb in one go without having to stop as the ground underfoot is good, but today starting low in the bottom of the valley I’m very aware of it been very very humid in the now overpowering heat, the grassy ascent has me stopping several time to catch my breath and it feels like I’m in a sauna working very hard and making very slow progress but progress all the same.
After what feels like an age I eventually make the top feeling absolutely shocking, I’d passed and been passed by others on the way up all of whom looked better or worse then I feel, I spot a familier face sat at the top, Sam Blackburn had also struggled a bit on the ascent and had stopped to take a two min break, he suggests I do the same but i know that stopping now might see the end of my race, we exchange a few choice words about the previous climb and I carry on out towards High cop feeling very sick, Sam soon joins me and we walk for a bit chatting before he jogs off, by now I’m having serious doubts about finishing, suddenly the overwhelming feeling of sickness overtakes my thoughts and before I can do anything about it I’m vomiting the full contents of my stomach everywhere…… This is the first time I’ve ever done this whilst running and it’s not an experience I want to repeat, I’m feeling awful, very drained and very very hot, thankfully there’s a slight breeze and a bit of cloud cover so I take off my cap and t-shirt to cool, thoughts of returning to the first check point rush into my head but the thought of passing others on the way back is unbearable so I decide to walk onwards toward checkpoint 2 at Mardale head, by now I’m questioning why I do these ridiculous ultra event !!! In never doing another or come to think of it I’m never going running again !!!!!
After a long walk over High Cop in the breeze I started to feel a bit better, while puttimg my t-shirrt back on i initially missed the turn off down to Hawes water but quickly realised my mistake and tracked back to the correct point, here I started to feel thirsty and took the kill or cure opinion drinking all the last litre of fluid I had, I did this knowing there was at least two points further along the route that I could safely fill with clean water from the streams, almost instantly I started to feel a lot better and began steadily jogging down the decent, 10 mins later and I’m moving along nicely starting to overtake a few other 50 and now some 100 competitors, my mind was in a much better place then I dared to think after been in such a dark place and I was beginning to enjoy myself, this was probably helped by joining up with a couple of people I knew from last year and a couple of the reccie runs I’d completed, chatting to them really brought me round and by reaching checkpoint 2 at Mardale I was in a better mood, again I’d planned a quick turnaround here so Dibbed refilled water bottles and was leaving as I bumped into Liz (Wayne’s Partner)….. Liz was on a quick turnaround so I waited a minuet and we left the checkpoint together, I’d now realised I’d lost any chance of beating my previous time but after going through such a bad patch I was now in it to complete and not compete.
So off we set onward and upward, that’s right upward again this time straight up Gatesgarth pass, this is one hell of a technical rocky/loose scree climb that’s not as long as the previous one but certainly steeper,together we made very good time up to the top and before I know what’s going on we were running down the other side, this is a tough decent it’s not to steep but very rough underfoot and with 24ish miles already covered my feet are starting to feel the strain and I was cramping in my quads fairly frequently, a quick mental evaluation and I’m feeling good, not 100% but good, quads are a bit crampy, calfs are fine feet are sore but I guess there a bit swollen for the relentless heat, after the decent it flats out a bit all the way down towards Sadgill farm it was here that we had our first taste of the oncoming weather, a large crack of thunder and a quick downpour of marble size rain that was very refreshing, not heavy enough to stop and put my Montane waterproof on but just long enough to be quiet refreshing although its stayed very warm and humid, a few miles and a couple of awkward climbs over walls and styles and were depending the grass field toward checkpoint 3 at Kentmere.
I rate kentmere as the best checkpoint on the L50, your over half way and mentally im now on the homeward stretch. there’s always tasty pasta and fresh fruit smoothies the thought of these push me on to the checkpoint in a great time, Liz and I Dib in and I head straight for some pasta, I notice Liz pouring the contents of a small sachet into her mouth and ask what it is…… Table salt comes the reply, Liz had also been feeling a touch of cramp and was swallowing table salt to replace lost salts, I’d never thought of this as an option so I added a couple of sachets to my pasta and swallowed another sachet after my smoothie….. Whilst it tasted disgusting I was prepared to give it a try !!!
After a quick break we put waterproof jackets on and headed out into the now pouring rain…. 100 meters and there was some truly disgusting sounds coming out of me and a slight sickly feeling felt by us both, I put this down to a combination of food, drink and salt on my still unsettled guts, as ever after a checkpoint its an upward climb this time over Garbon Pass this allowing time for the guts to settle by the time we reach the top, another quick stop half way up to remove my waterproof as I was getting very hot again, it was lightly raining nowvbut still very warm, as we reach the top Liz sets off and were running the nice decent down and through to the village before a gentle climb to skegwell woods, were moving well and have picked up another 50 and a 100 runner on our way and all run through the woods heading to Ambleside, I’m feeling quite positive now and really enjoy this section, it’s beginning to get dark but we make it through the wood and into Ambleside before we need our head torch’s, it was around here that Liz received a text from Wayne telling her she was doing great and informing her he and Glyn had retired at Kentmere, this was received with short lived sympathy and then a fair amount of name calling from us both, i wondered if we’d see Sarah and her parents in Ambleside, knowing there were going to be there to see Andy through and knowing he was running well I was unsure if they’d still be there or already left as I assumed he’d be a fair way ahead, just as we reached checkpoint 4 in Ambleside I spotted Sarah’s parents and went over to ask how Andy was doing and how far ahead he was, to my amazement he was stood with them, a quick explanation of his cramping and now missed target time had seen him retire here.
Into the checkpoint and dibber Dibbed I moved into the large room been used…..it was really uncomfortable in here with lots of people in varying states, it was obvious quite a few we’re retiring here and the room felt very down, we obviously both noticed this as we agreed on a quick cup of warm tea before moving on quickly (another sachet of salt ! Not had cramp since the last one so I’m convinced it working)….. A quick good bye to Andy, Sarah and crew and were on our way out of Ambleside, I felt really sorry for andy here and wished he’d held off retiring and had continued with us but no time for negative thoughts after my earlier episode…. Leaving Ambleside we were joined by John a 50 contestant who was unsure on the route and Annie a 100 contestant, after a short climb out of Ambleside we cross the open fell quickly and are making good time on the decent towards Skelwith Bridge even running at times, I’m aware that John keeps pushing ahead a little and is obviously wanting to crack on but Liz is sticking with Annie at her slightly slower pace, she’s over 90 miles in by now and I’m happy to stick at her pace and help a little if needed, it’s a smooth good track forbthe next few miles along the river towards Troutbeck before a rocky section through to the campsite location of checkpoint 5 Chaplestyle.
We stay together through to the checkpoint and there’s a little wait to Dib in and get into the tent, it’s now torrential rain and cooling quickly and my patience is been tested stood out in the rain, a quick bowl of warm vegetable stew and a cup of warm tea and I’m warmed up, Liz and I choose to stay standing and not be tempted to site down here, this was a wise choice as we didn’t stay long here, waterproofs back on and were out into the awful weather as a group of four again.
The next section out towards Blea tarn is quiet difficult to navigate in the dark with the path been unrecognisable in places even in daylight, I’m confident on my ability to get this right and set out at the front to lead the way, there’s a couple of 6ft tall styles on this section and in the rain there a bit tough to get over but we all cross safely, hit the right line through the boggy section and come out bang on the corner that we need to hit (bonus)….. A short sharp climb and were at the road crossing heading to the tarn, a group of 3 others had joined us after seeing us higher up on the previous section they joined us after realising they weren’t quite right,
Across the road and down towards Blea moss on a good track, the other 3 moved ahead at a slightly better pace and were soon making good ground on us, John still wanting to get on left us and joined the other three, didn’t see him again but hope he finished ok, I must add by now I’m still in a good place mentally and feeling good but I was a little annoyed he left without so much as a good luck, thanks or a see you at the end I’m sure this wasn’t intentional and just a combination of our joint tiredness and as I said I hope he finished, we crossed Blea moss on the high line that’s needed to stay out of the very boggy area and found the onlybself Dib point on the 50 course.
One last rocky climb up towardsvTilbethwaite farm and there’s so much rain coming down that it feels like we’re walking up a riverbed, it was here that my feet started to feel very wet which was a surprise as I was wearing my inov8 298 Gortex boots and I couldn’t work out why my feet were wet !!! A short road section from the farm and were at checkpoint 6 Tilbetwaite.
Just 3 1/2 mile to the finish from here and we know we’re going to finish for sure, a quick drink of warm tea and LIz suggests a change into a dry top before the final ascent, it took a while to sink in with me but it made sense knowing the weather would be awful over the very exposed last top section and it was now very cold and I was starting to shiver, a quick strip down to a bare chest and on with my Haglog merino wool long sleeve top and I was instantly warmer, back on with my waterproof and Liz Annie and I start the final section, this starts with large stone irregular height steps before continuing the ascent on a stoney path up and over towards Coniston, there’s a scrambley section here that you have to climb using you hands and feet and again it’s like ascending a waterfall, we pass with out incident but have caught upto a couple of slower people who we can’t get past due to the narrow path, we bide our time and stay in line across the stream crossing that’s now a raging torrent and takes some care to cross over the final ascent and on a wider section I take the opportunity to get past them, by now I can see the lights down below at the cottages on the miners road into Coniston just the rocky decent to tackle….. Now I’m extra careful here in daylight and in the dry but tonight it’s absolutely treacherous and I slip a couple of times but stop myself from fully falling, I turned to see how Liz and Annie are doing and realise there still behind the other two and hadn’t made it past them, I make the decision to get myself down to the miners road and take shelter under a tree while they catch up, after been together so long there’s no way were not finishing together, it’s only a couple of minuets and they appear , Liz is looking at her watch and works out we can still make sub 16hrs if we run the last section into and through Coniston to the school, we agree to try and Annie who’s now around 104miles starts running and we keep to her pace, this truly humbled me and I still don’t know how she did it !!!!
Past the pub and over the bridge we pass the the deserted village and take the final turn down the school road, you can see head torch lights at the finish and the marshals are looking for runners coming in, we break into a proper run and head for the lights….. Now it’s here that my biggest challange comes as I know Karen and kids will be waiting for me , I spot Karen and Lauren stood in the rain waiting and run to them for a finish line kiss, Daniel is waiting for me inside as he’s feeling cold, I Dib in for one last time and its over I’ve done it again 3 out of 3 finish’s and this one feels by far the hardest.
Were escorted into the hall and I get a massive hug from Dan as I see him … the marshals are shouting “50 Finisher” another moment to fight the emotions as all your fellow finishers stop to applauded everybody in another humbling moment, through to the hall and the dibbers cut off and you given you final finishing statistics on a small print out,I finished in 15hrs 59min 35 seconds, your then handed you medal and finishers t-shirt, a few pics and a quick 2 min sit down before its time to head to the cottage for a sleep of what’s left of the night, food and drinks are available for finishers but with it been nearly 4am I feel guilty keeping the family up while I stuff my face so say my goodbyes and head to bed.

The following few days I have plenty of time to reflect on the weekends events and there’s a few things I’ve learnt.
Firstly I’m sure I wouldn’t have finished so strongly or quickly without Liz, we helped each other on the ascents and descents and having someone to talk to just makes it a whole lot better, I’m sure I talked some nonsense at times but it keeps your mind occupied and stops you thinking about what hurts.
Secondly I don’t think I could have done anything to have stopped the awful events up and on the top of Fusedale, I was well hydrated and not over-hydrated, id not started to fast so wasn’t burning out, i think the shear heat and humidity just got to me and I don’t know of anything I could do differently.
Thirdly Gortex boots are great until you get water in them, once it’s in it’s not coming out and a combination of very hot swollen feet been suddenly very wet and cold makes for a few good blisters, I should have put my waterproof trousers on that would have stopped my legs and socks getting soaked and running into my boots filling them with water, lesson learnt.

And finally it’s all worth it for the pride of wearing a very hard earnt but well deserved finishers t-shirt that was worn and washed continuously through the weeks holiday.

A big thanks to the amazing organisers, marshals and checkpoint people, many of who are now good friends, there too many to list and in fear of missing someone ill group you all and again class you as amazing !!!!!

Whilst I struggled more then ever at the beginning of this race I was amazed at how I managed to pull it round and finish feeling strong and very happy, i’ll remember and use this as a tool to get through future tough patches.

Plenty of other events to complete yet this year so that’s it for now ….. Hopefully I’ll make the start line for the upcoming Ring of Fire and be able to ramble my way though another blog post !!!

And THE Biggest Loser is…………..

Well, I can now reveal that the weight is finally over.

The winner of the Ultramadness Wahey-In is ……………………. ME, Andy, with a loss of 8.85% of total starting body weight since our journey began in January.

You, the public, have spoken and 63% of you said the Lakeland 50 weigh in scales should be used for the final weigh in.

So with the poll closed the final standings look like this:

  1. Andy = 8.85%
  2. Chris = 8.33%
  3. Wayne = 3.31%
  4. Glyn = 1.79%

At one point Chris had what looked like an unassailable lead of over 4% but like Ultra Running weight loss is a pacing game. Wayne managed to sneak in with a leap over Glyn at the end who takes the wooden spoon!

So now, we need a new challenge as we’ve a lot of races lined up. Glyn and I are competing in the Grand Tour of Skiddaw  the 44 mile circular on August Bank Holiday weekend. Chris has the enormous challenge that is The Ring O Fire, the 131 mile Ultra to compete in which is being held at the end of August. This is then followed by the team competing at the 100km Ultimate Trails Ultra Marathon only a few weeks later mid September.

Its then only 3 months until the Spine Challenge so we’ve a lot of work to do, especially following the rest of our performances last weekend!

So if you’ve any ideas for a suitable challenge for the team to keep us motivated and pit ourselves against one another please let us know!

Thanks for your interest so far and be sure to stay tuned for news, views and the odd muse over the next few weeks!

Well, the Ultramadness weigh in has reached its finale, or has it???

The rules stated that we were to use the Lakeland 50 official weigh in as THE last weigh in of the competition and not the home scales we’d been using since the beginning of our challenge.

Now this gave us a bit of a situation as our home scales are calibrated differently, on carpet, less clothes than at the 50 weigh in etc etc so may not replicate the ‘home’ weight we’ve been recording against.

Home Scales Weigh In:

????? 10.53%
????? 9.13%
Glyn 2.00%
Wayne 1.86%

Lakeland 50 Weigh-In

????? 8.85%
????? 8.33%
Glyn 2.00%
Wayne 1.86%

So what to do, well you decide!!!

Well as luck would have it we have our first Ultramadness Family Funday (UMFFD) on the 1st August where we’re paying back some of the sacrifices our families make  to allow us to not only take part in these amazing events but also the training, kit, the kit, the other kit, that other kit and of course THE essential kit that’s just been released etc etc. Its a small token of our appreciation to them all.

So myself, Sarah and Isabelle along with Chris, Karen, Dan and Lauren plus Glyn, Kerry, Will and Ben and of course Wayne, Liz, Ally, Archie, Reece and Eleanor will meet on the shores of Consiton at an undisclosed location (for security) for a good family day out where no mention of running is allowed, well by the boys anyway.

Oh yeah, plus Dibble, Molly, Jake and Joss the dogs!!!

So how do you decide? Well here is a very simple poll, you choose which weigh in we use as to who wins the competition. We’ll take the votes at 10pm on Wednesday 31st July and reveal the winner then!

You’ll see that it was a 2 horse race at the sharp end but we’ve omitted the names of who was in which position. All you have to do is simply choose if we continue to use our home weigh in or the Lakeland 50 weigh in as per the rules.

Use the poll below:

(please excuse the unprofessional poll but its a free one)

It’ll only take a second and if you can share amongst as many of your friends as possible to give a tru representation of the nation that would be much appreciated.

Remember, its your voice, your votes count!

Hold up, weight a minute……..

Well, who would of thought its be this close at both ends of the table after such a storming start.

We’ve all weighed in today bar Chris who’s working away in that there McScotland and their lbs are different up there so it’d be unfair for him to have a disadvantage!

Its ridiculously close and the standings look like this:

Chris 9.09%
Andy 8.65%
Glyn 2.00%
Wayne 1.86%

This actually equates to me being only 1lb behind Chris in overall weight loss and I could nip it if his carb loading for this weekends Lakeland 50 event goes well.  : )

Wayne and Glyn are virtually neck and neck so this could go either way.

The weigh in is Friday evening at the registration and kit check and network dependant we’ll be sure to share who is the biggest loser!!!

Well we’ve only a couple more weigh ins to go and who’d have thought it would have been so close at the business end of the competition and those battling for the chocolate spoon at the other!!!

Chris went off in a blaze of amazing glory at the beginning but his wonderfully talented daughter Lauren since found a fantastic new art in baking and scuppered his domination over the latter weeks of the competition. (Is it bad that the rest of us kept giving her money for ingredients!!)

So currently the % lost standings currently look like this:







  • Chris – 9.09%
  • Andy – 8.17%
  • Glyn – 3%
  • Wayne – 2.33%

So hows it gonna finish up, find out next week when the comptition (this time round) concludes at the Lakeland 50 registration weigh in!




3 up 1 down keep losing……

Well this week saw much movement amongst the ultramadness crew, sadly 75% of the movement was in the wrong direction. Its not often im amongst the top 25%, certainly not in anything ultra but this week was to be the exception!

In order of largest gain this week they are:

  • Glyn
  • Chris
  • Wayne

I was able to post a larger than average loss this week closing the gap on Chadders who still remains out in front by a good 3+ %!!!

As we’ve extended the date final weigh in we still have 5 weeks to go there’s still a (outside) chance one of us could catch him and its certainly all to play for amongst the remaining  placings.

So whilst not too much movement the standings look like this:


With a big weekend ahead of us as we’ve a Lakeland 50 Double Recce planned. This covers virtually the whole of the 50 route over two days and starts early Saturday morning at Pooley Bridge finishing in Ambleside which totals around 32 or so miles. This is followed on Sunday with the Ambleside to Coniston leg covering some 14 or so miles.

The recce misses out the required loop at Dalemain to make up the remaining  miles come event day!

With all that mileage and big ascents/descents you’d hope to see some big movements next week.

One exception will be Glyn aka ‘Mandown’ who’s foot/ankle currently looks like that of an elephants following his badly ripped tendon at the weekend.

Having been told today of no running for 4 weeks, which take us up 2 weeks prior to race day, he’ll be pushing things for the Lakeland 50! Given his athlete status, robolike physique and plenty of RICE i’m sure he’ll be back on his foot in no time!

Stay tuned for more updates from ‘mandown’ himself and to see how we go at the biggest weekend of the year for the ultramadness team!

Wwaahheeyy, he’s done it again!!!!!

Well Chris has posted yet another tremendous loss and is simply leaving us trailing in his wake!!

Chris is sitting on an amazing loss of nearly 12% since we began at the end of January.

The standings currently are:


With only three weigh ins left is it all over????

Stay tuned for the latest next week and we’ve a recce on the Spine Challenger course this weekend and they usually throw up a tale or two…………

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….

Here is one of my 1st ever Ultras and write ups! Seems such a long time and many many miles ago but still quite fresh! Enjoy.

July 29th 2011 was here and I found myself pitching my tent on John Ruskins School on the back straight of the 400m running track! It had been around 10 months since I decided to enter the Lakeland 50 Ultra Marathon race and I now had less than 24hrs to wait till the preverbal hit the fan!!!

My registration was done totally on a whim, alone and having ever only run around 21 miles in just over 5hrs on some very flat terrain around my home town of Harrogate. There were lots of gets outs along the route, only ever 3 miles from my house and 3 spaniels to pull me along!!! It was fair to say I was so far out of my league it was beyond comprehension.

On top of this I registered whilst sofa bound recovering from a hernia operation which had me laid up for 2 months!

So my regime took an immediate hit, Christmas came and went with little or no training and my 1st recce and indeed 1st real run was lined up for the end of March, Ambleside to Consiton!

Id previously arranged to do this recce in February with Nick Smith and Deborah Goodall which had been arranged by Anna Barker although sadly Anna had to pull out of the recce and indeed the whole Lakeland event due to illness!

It was with great disappointment that I too was unable to attend that recce. In hindsight his was quite handy as it snowed but due to damaging my back in a mountain bike fall there was no way i could run. I actually spent the following 6 weeks receiving treatment from my Chiropractor around 3 times a week just to get me back in shape.

I think it is fair to say that at this up to this point my preparation really wasn’t going very well!

So from a pretty much standing start and on a beautiful sunny March Sunday morning we set off from the Lakes Runner and headed out of Ambleside. This was the start of my Lakeland 50 journey!

Id noticed that when I 1st arrived in Coniston for that recce and looking at all the other runners I was so the odd one out I was almost reluctant to get out of the car. However my saving grace was my trainers. Id noticed at least two other people had the same ones as me so I at least had something right. It wasn’t much but it was something and out of the car I got!

From the start in Ambleside I arrived in Coniston some 4 and half hours later in disbelief and overwhelming elation that id completed it. My motto around everything i’ve done regarding the Lakeland & other events was to enjoy and not endure.

I didn’t care how long or where i came amongst the other runners, this was about the journey and enjoying the ride! I’d certainly done that on this lovely spring morning.

So my training for the event had begun and a mental target had been set, extended, changed again and finally settled at completing the event between 15 and 20 hours! Now im not built like a runner and certainly carry more weight than your normal runner but i was full of good intentions to train hard and do what i could to prepare myself for 50 long hard miles.

I took part in the recces from Pooley Bridge to Ambleside where I met & laughed far too much with Wayne Singleton and Liz Beavis that constitutes training and Ambleside to Coniston the following day. I finished this section of the recce with Sam Blackburn and Maxine Grimshaw and covering 43 miles in 2 days this was the furthest id travelled on my feet in two days! This recce was an amazing weekend and it  was great to hook up with some good friends along the way!

Id also completed some unofficial recces of our own with great support and fun from Nick & Deborah. These included Howtown as far as Kentmere, I was actually headed toward Ambleside but after running out of water and likely daylight I decided to hitch to the pub with a couple of Brummies instead and had an amazing discussion with a woman on a bus from Staveley to Ambleside. I was to hook up with them back in Ambleside who’d made the full distance and rewarded themselves with treats in Esquires.

My running had come on leaps and bounds but I really struggled with my legs and couldn’t master the downhill’s as well as my running partners had.

We also managed a night recce of Tilberthwaite to Consiton as it was our expectation that we would be doing this section in the dark come the event. Turns out this was a total misestimation for me!! The run was great and I was pleased to keep up with my partners and enjoyed running at night.

Id also completed the Osmotherly Phoenix 17 as a recce of our own with Deborah and my dog Dibble. We managed to cover over 18+ miles which gives an indication of my navigational prowess. Again my running had improved and getting time on my feet and miles under my shoes was proving to be so valuable.

The 17 mile recce was in preparation for the Osmotherley Marathon proper in early July. My 1st ever Marathon!

It was on completion of this in just over 7hrs that I tapered down my training and prepared for the event proper! I managed a few 3-4 miles runs in the weeks running up to the main event but nothing greater.

So here i was and only a few minutes away from watching the Lakeland 100’s setting off in the glorious sunshine. I had made many friends along the way and also had my support in the form of Sarah and Rachel who had fully embraced the experience by booking into a B&B instead of camping with me!

That night i got around 3hours sleep and rose to have some breakfast and get ready for the event. My pack was sorted, around 5-6lbs or about 2.5kg

I boarded the coach after the briefings and last minute check of kit and we set off for Dalemain.  The coach journey seemed to take an age, not great after taking on a LOT of water which resulted in the biggest communal toilets against the fence when we got there.  So finally we reached the estate to see a lot of supporters to see us of and 100’s of runners itching to get started.

Sarah and Rachel had installed themselves to watch the 100 runners come through and see us all off.

It was clear at this point to Sarah that I was incredibly nervous and just wanted to get going. We were late starting by 20 mins or so but the horn blew and we were off on the lap of the estate and away down to Pooley Bridge. The feeling was amazing and i hooked up with some friends i met on the recces. Sam, a great chap, and I ran for a small distance and I passed Maxine who id covered a lot of the double recce weekend with. In fact we all finished the recce weekend together running down the Coppermines to the finish!

I covered the Dalemain estate in much quicker time than I expected to and was doing ok in the amazing weather but tremendous heat! Running down by the river provided some shelter and cooler air.

The support we all got through Pooley Bridge was fantastic, as was to be the support all the way around the event. Sarah, Rachel and new recruit Chris were by the side of the road to scream and cheer us through. This was amazing and really spurred me on, only after stealing a kiss from Sarah to send me on my way toward Howtown.

Id struggled on this section before, especially pulling up Elderbank but i reached the cairn in much better time and enjoyed the run down under the crags into Howtown checkpoint. I had some good cake and a banana and lots of juice. I refilled my water to be greeted by Deborah who asked what the hell i was doing there in front of her! Debs was of much greater pace than i and i was as shocked to be in front of her!

I left the checkpoint to tackle the highest point of the 50 and indeed the 100 route. It was a hard climb up onto Wether Hill to High Kop at over 2,000ft! I eventually scaled this, all be it at a very slow pace and across and down Brampton Common to the banks of Haweswater. I’ve never liked this section of the course as it seems to drag for an age, is tough on my feet and the run down to it always effects my legs terribly and sets the tone for the remainder of the course.

The long pull up to High Kop had taken its toll on my water supplies too and as I made my way beneath Laythwaite Crags toward Flakehow Crag I ran out!

Thankfully I knew how far it was till Mardale check point but didn’t like not having any water, especially in the heat! It was lack of water that had forced me to hitch from Kentmere on the recce in April, this wasn’t about to happen again! Regardless I cracked on as fast as i could and headed toward the Rigg and it was here i had a wobble. The lack of water and my poor food intake, virtually nothing since Howtown, was taking its toll. Before the right turn before the wood i felt very dizzy and nauseous. I was worried i was going to be sick and faint and was worried that if i did id be pulled from the race. I took a few moment to compose myself, reminded myself how far the the checkpoint was and headed for it.

I started to dream of Coca Cola and what i would eat should i arrive victorious back at Coniston before 12 noon on Sunday! This was crazy as I was way less than half way.

When i saw the check point at Mardale Head i knew I was ok, although this was still over a mile or so away. I tried hard not to look up too much at Gatesgarth Pass as i arrived and gulped down the cola and jelly beans which were gratefully received. I took some soup and propped myself on the wall for 10 minutes or so and tried to regain myself.

After the recharge I pulled up from the wall and swung my pack on, thanked the guys for their support and headed up toward the pass. This would be my 3rdtime of tackling Gatesgarth and on my 1st ascent of the 1800ft pass I must have stopped a dozen times! The 2nd time I tackled it only 2 or 3 times & on this, the most important ascent, I was to only stop once!

I made good progress up the Pass the the 1st plateau and upon seeing the 2ndclimb i laughed out loud as id forgotten about this bit! Still, I re gained my rhythm and cranked the steps out. I came across Dave from the Darwen Runner. (It was his running club that manned the CP at Tilberthwaite)

We made the summit together and carried on over the top and down towards Longsdale. Dave’s pace was good, too good for me and I let him go ahead, I was conscious of not wanting to go too fast and burning out.

As I got to the head of Longsdale and the route levelled out I got a 2nd wind and started to run toward Sadgill. To my amazement I felt as fresh as when I was running round Dalemain and was passing a great number of people who had overtaken me on the descent.

I made Sadgill in good time and excellent spirits and headed toward Kentmere.  As I made my way into Kentmere i was caught by Sam whom id last seen at Mardale Head and was a way behind me going up Gatesgarth. Sam too had a great ascent and had made great progress. It was great to see a friendly face as we were also now coming into the night section arriving at Kentmere at 9:30!

As I entered the checkpoint i was greeted by my recce partner Nick, my delight in seeing him turned to horror as I realised he should have been way ahead of me by a good number of hours. He’d had some difficulty on Gatesgarth Pass with being sick and losing a lot of fluid. He’d been well looked after at Kentemere, so much so he spent a couple of hours there! It was about to get worse as I made my way into the checkpoint for fruit smoothies pasta and biscuits I saw another familiar face in Deborah looking very glum in the corner. Again Deborah should have been hours ahead of me but had suffered in the heat and also had been diagnosed with trench foot on what was one of the hottest days of summer in the Lakes! Whilst pleased to see these two I was massively disappointed for them as there races had been shattered!

Whilst i was grabbing some pasta yet another friendly voice shouted there you are, where’ve you been all day you fu%%er! Wayne, who id met on the last recce, was running with Glyn and Liz but sadly Liz had dropped out at Howtown. Id expected to run with them, hence the greeting, but with Liz not being well id made good progress and got ahead. Wayne and Glyn had done extremely well to get to Kentemere in the time they did.

Sam and I had agreed to do the next section together and in doing so followed Nick & Deborah and Glyn and Wayne up and over Garburn and potentially head into Ambleside together as they all set off a little while ahead of us.

We’d left Kentmere with a target of hitting Ambleside at midnight.

Garburn Pass was ok and it was good to have people to talk to, Wes had now joined us and he was struggling with his feet. So much so he dropped out at the next CP. This section was OK, all our feet were hurting, a blister was forming on my right foot and the plates of my feet felt bruised. With every step and twist of my foot the pain was very evident. We negotiated the pass and Skelghyll Wood and descended into Ambleside a little after midnight. It was at this point I realised we’d set off 20mins late at Dalemain so I was in fact just inside my target time!

It was great to see Sarah, Rachel and Chris along with Deborah and Nick. It’s amazing what a huge hug and a rewarding kiss can do in the middle of the night after 36 miles! From Sarah, not Chris!

Sadly it was here that Deborah had to pull out after her gargantuan effort given her feet and issues with the heat etc. Nick on the other hand had been reborn and ran off into the night making excellent progress all the way to finish and claiming his medal! He left around 15 mins ahead of me yet finished hours in front, well done Nick, truly amazing and you SHOULD be doing the 100 next year!!!

So after a good rest at Ambleside and catching up with everyone we set off toward Coniston for the last 16 miles.

The temperature had dropped dramatically and I added a layer or two. We steadily jogged out of Ambleside, through the park, over the river and made our way to Skelwith Bridge.

It was here we took a couple of brief wrong turns towards Elterwater and onward to Chapel Stile. We made the checkpoint around 3am and were greeted with a very warm welcome, juice, soup and a rewarding cup of tea. The chimnea was also very welcomed as the temperature had swung by around 11 degrees from during the day and upon finally leaving id donned my jacket and hat to keep warm.

It wouldn’t be long now before dawn but until then it would remain cold. We made our way along Great Langdale Beck under the Lingmoor Fell and finally made it up to Blea Tarn. We’d seen a few head torches off the main route along the way.

Making our way under Hollin Crag we hugged the fern to avoid the bog, this didn’t work. Down toward Castle Howe my feet were really feeling it and starting to be quite painful. One last pull to Ruestone Quarry up to High Tilberthwaite and down to the checkpoint at Tilberthwaite I knew we were going to make it.

The short walk on the road to the checkpoint was starting to be agony and being able to sit down for ten minutes and have a brew made all the difference.

Sam and I set off to the finish some 3 miles away and began the ascent up them bloody steps to Tilberthwaite Quarry. We followed Crook Beck and made a fantastic pace up to the summit and didn’t break stride all the way, one thing on our minds to get to the top and start the descent to the finish. We completed this section in not much over the time id done on the night recce which was amazing.

We had the descent down to the Coppermines, my feet were burning now, and onto the track into the village. We upped the pace and ran down to the main street where we were met by applause from the people on the streets wh knew what we’d been through. We passed the pubs, over the bridge and toward the school.

Turning into the road to the finish I could see Deborah, Chris, Rachel and Sarah waiting for us which was amazing. We made the finish and dibbed in to stop the clock on 19hrs and 22 mins, inside the 20hrs id targeted and in 342ndposition!

We quickly went inside to be weighed, get our split times and of course our finisher’s medal!

Once wed done all this I made my way outside to Sarah and Rach. It was here the emotion of the whole event and indeed the journey id taken hit me! Trying to hold back the tears over the top of Tilberthwaite had been hard however I wasn’t so fortunate this time the emotion took over!

Sam had made his was out of the hall with his medal and we stood very proudly with the memento of our achievements.

I entered this event to be a challenge of the mind, the body and the soul. The last 50 miles, 19hrs and 22 mins had certainly been a challenge of the body; the time from me entering the event had been a challenge of the mind and soul. My journey was complete!

Had I not met the amazing people along the way, Nick and Deborah, whom id done a lot of my training and recces with and who’d also offered me so much encouragement. Sam who was the 1st person I met on the very 1st recce id taken part in and finally crossed the finish line with. Maxine whom id struggled round with on the double recce weekend and Wayne and Liz who id had such a laugh with also on that weekend this journey would have been very different.

The organisation of this event is second to none, Terry and Marc did an amazing job and of course their team from the recces to the event itself. The undertaking is massive and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Many many thanks to you all for such fun and enjoyment in what was one of the most enjoyable yet painful experiences of my life!



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.


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!



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Hey, weight up……………..and down!!!!

Well for this weeks eagerly anticipated weigh in it appears that lbs amongst the Ultramadness team are like corporate shares, they can go up as well as down!

After what was an awesome recce at the weekend covering the Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes section (more to follow) we were all keen to see the effects at today’s weigh in. Especially after Chris’s Ultra Fueling granola experiment!

Well Chadders, hes a getting bit boring now, continues to steam ahead with an amazing 10% loss since we began the challenge and posts yet another loss this week.

I too have managed a small loss which bucks my trend having only gained once in the last 12 weeks. I’m currently posting a total loss of just under 4%

Wayne has maintained equilibrium this week and sits at an overall loss of 1.4% which has Glyn close behind, following a small gain, with an overall loss at a rounded 1%!!!!


…….. so on we go to next week.

Stay tuned to see if we can catch Chris or if he starts to slip back a little bit.

Better still be sure to follow the blog by entering your email for all the updates as they are posted as we’ve some more recce’s, wild camps and a few races coming up.

Till next time……

Worth weighting for………

Well apologies to those sitting on the edge of your seats yearning for the latest results of our weekly weigh-in. What with the Easter holidays and people being away etc it meant that we weren’t able to all weigh in at the same time.

Anyway now were all back and the results are terrible!!!!

Wayne and Glyn, despite valiant training’ish efforts, have gained a lb or two. Chadders, he’s maintained the equilibrium and posted a zero loss/gain. I on the other hand after two thirsty back to back weddings and a week indulging in Cream teas etc courtesy of Devon have posted a loss!

So the standings are as below:


Chadders is still (quality) streets ahead and hopes to maintain this thru to the finish. I’ve managed to open up a touch of daylight from Glyn and Wayne who are currently battling it out for the chocolate spoon!

Keep watching as we’ve a few recces and events lined up over the coming weeks so things could start to close up!

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