Tag Archive: inov8


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….

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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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