Tag Archive: marathon


Ring O Fire Day 2

After a restless night with not much sleep I’m up dressed and sorting my porridge breakfast at 4.30am, surprisingly I really enjoy it although I’m sure that’s still a bit of hunger from the previous day, a cup of sweet coffee (I normally don’t have sugar but I’m craving the stuff today ) and I’m ready for the day.
Most people are up by now as there’s a compulsory pre-start meeting at 5.45 ready for a 6am start, I’m just sorting my pack out for the day when all the gym lights flash on and music blasts out …. You’ve probably guessed already but yep it was that bloke Johnny Cash and his “Burn Burn Burn the ring of fire” this brought a smile and laugh to me but for a few others still in there sleeping bags didn’t seem quiet so amused, bag packed I set about my feet, right foots ok but I tape my heals ready for a long day out, same on the left foot but I also tape my full big toe resisting the urge to pop the blister I leaving it alone but it’s quite clear I’ve dislodged the nail from the whole toe and I’m gonna have trouble with this one, been unsure of the terrain I ran day 1 in my Inov8 295’s but today I choose to run in my Hoka’s there a lot more cushioned which does help my feet but I also feel a lot of benefit in my knees and quads and with today been a bit over 65 miles I need all the help I can get !!!

Bed and bags packed I leave my overnight and drop bag in the required areas and head out ready for the meeting, it was here I see Brian again and pass comment on him having a great day on Friday as I’d tried to catch up but not seen him again, turns out he’d stopped to make his own call of nature in the woods shortly after I had and he’d seen me pass but couldn’t catch me !!!!
I finished just over an hour ahead of him !!!

Outside it’s still dark but it’ll be light very soon so no need for a head torch, meeting starts and an area of today’s course has been altered due to a landslide other then that there’s a few stats shouted out regarding today’s starters, I’m here and that’s all I’m bothered about so take the next two min to re-check my gear before the countdown starts again 3 2 1 were off

Again I start the day with Brian trotting off slower then the day before, there’s a 22hr cut off today to reach the finishing point and I intend to make it in around 20hrs giving myself a 2hr buffer incase things go tits up !!!
I know I need to keep a constant 18 min mile to hit my target and don’t want to push it much under this, the group seems to split and stretch out much quicker today and a quick check shows in doing 12min miles…… WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THIS…. I shout at myself and slow to a more then comfortable pace of 16 min …. Still ahead of where I need to be but much slower and I’ll be walking and don’t need to do that just yet, consequently Brian and the group I’m with slowly drift off ahead and I’m on my own, I’m happy with that this morning as I don’t want to be dragged along with the group.
Today starts with quiet a few short sharp rocky climbs that I’m more then comfortable with and enjoy the fell like terrain again, steady on the ups pushing a little on the downs to keep my average right and I’m absolutely loving it……. It’s warm and clear today, you can see for miles along the coast and even spot the occasional seal bobbing and playing about in the surf, I always think there something quite special about trail running, those moments when there’s just you and the outdoors, no stress’s or worries just fresh air pushing through your lungs clearing your mind, a feeling of almost floating along with no effort as the miles are ticking away !!!!
Check points one and two pass with no drama and I’m starting to see people ahead a quick check and I’m keeping my stead pace so I guess there beginning to slow a bit, I’ve done a few beach sections already today and on another one I think to myself the floating has gone and the sand / shale is back….. I’m in a head down trudge it out mode heading towards checkpoint 3 when I realise I can see Brian and a couple of others ahead, I make the checkpoint just as there leaving and chat for a min before they leave, today as yesterday my stops are short and as quick as possible, make sure I’m leaving with full bottles every stop as it’s very hot now with little cloud cover, I don’t need anything significant to eat yet just a few pretzels and a couple of sweets to eat as I walk out the checkpoint.
It’s not long before I’m back on the sand and not enjoying the feeling of this leg sapping two step forward one slide back soft sand, I weave about trying to find a firmer footing but it’s tough going as the sandy beach turns to shale and it feels like I’m trying to move forward on marbles !!!!!
As with many of the beach crossing you can see your destination ahead but it’s just not seeming to get any closer, by now I’m beginning to hate the bloody beach as my feet are starting to feel sore from the pebbles/stones beneth.
I can see the group ahead so push on to catch them, by the time I reach them were almost off the beach and I realise it’s Brian and a couple of other chaps who all seem to be feeling the distance and slowed a fair bit, I tag along with them for a bit chatting for a while but realise I’m dropping my pace a bit so slowly pull away from them, it’s not long before having to stop as I’m getting a hot spot on my left heal, finding a spot to sit I realise I’ve got quite a blister on my heal and was surprised I’d not felt it earlier ! I stick on a couple of blister plasters and get ready to continue, it’s here I’m coming to the detour bit so I check my map, i just catch sight of the group I’d passed disappearing over the next hill as I set off trying to catch them again, I see the coastal path sign but ignore it as that’s the area to miss and continue onto a road, trotting along I come to a junction that I wasn’t expecting but keep going convincing myself it must be right, after a while through a clearing I spot the coast only problem is it’s on my right hand side and with this been a clockwise route round the island the sea should always be on my left !!!!!
I’m obviously going the wrong bloody way !!!!
I stop and look at the map and have to admit I don’t know where I am ? Other then the single track road I’m on there’s no visible landmarks to give me a clue where I am ???
Oh Shit what do I do now ?
Panic ?
No point in that so take a minuet and look at the map again I trace what I think is my route up to the sign I ignored and realise I should have followed the sign and ignored the next one !!!
So I know were I went wrong but where am I now, I follow the road but can’t see the junction I turned at so take a guess at which way I went, looking at it if I continue forward I should see some buildings ahead and from there be able to work out a route back on to where I should be….. Knowing I’m going the wrong way but trying to confirm where I am I continue forward and can’t believe my luck when a post van rounds the corner and stops as I flag him down, a quick explanation and he tells me I’m somewhere different to where I thought I was and to keep going in the direction I am and take a right at the next junction I’ll hit the coast again !!!
Great maybe my map reading isn’t as good as I think so I plough on forward….. Eventually I see some buildings ahead which I wasn’t expecting as I should be almost at the coast according to the postman…. I’m now beginning to worry as I’m not sure where the hell I am or where I’m going !!!!
I spot a guy in his drive way at the first building and stop to ask him my location, it turns out that I’ve been going even further away from where I should be and shouldn’t have taken the last turn…… Thanks Mr Postman you’ve sent me completely the wrong way you Prat !!!!
Thankfully this chap pinpoints my exact location and shows me exactly how to get back on course….. I’m now boiling mad and running hard to get back on to the route, I’ve got a long slow uphill road to tackle before I can see a large mast that I should have gone around the back of on the proper route, I’m aware my feet are sore but been so mad i run up the full length of the road to get back to where I should be, eventually back on the coastal path I take two min to check I know where I am and where I’m going , looking at it I’ve missed about two miles of the route off but covered a good five miles to get here !
Knowing im well ahead on time I’m still a bit pissed with my stupid mistake but know I’m still ok so concentrate on my map and route all the way to the next checkpoint the half way point, it’s a long jog along a seafront promenade before reaching the checkpoint and my halfway drop bag my feet are hurting as I jog along the Tarmac promenade path and I’m looking forward to a ten minuet sit down and a change into clean dry socks.
As always the checkpoint people are cheering and clapping me in shouting your going great you’ve got half way !!!
There firing a dozen questions all at once… What do you want to drink ? Can I get you something to eat ? What’s your drop bag number ?
Drop bag thrust in my hand I find a space on a bench and start to take my shoes off … I’d not noticed but Brian was here and had called it a day and withdrawn , I tried getting him to continue with me at least to the next CP but his feet had had enough and it was game over for him.
Shoes and socks off and I’m looking at what use to be my feet. !! I was aware they were sore but I’ve not got blisters on nearly every toe and several loose and bloody nails, what to do ? Stop ? NO WAY

So it’s time to patch them up and crack on I’m still mentally strong and my feet don’t hurt enough to stop me.
It’s at this point I realise I’ve not put my zinc oxide tape in my drop bag oh SHIT I can’t continue without taping them up or It’ll be very painful, thankfully the guy next to me asks if I need some help, I explain the situation and he pulls a roll of tape from his drop bag and says “I’ve quit and from the state of your feet your gonna need this to carry on, have my tape and good luck mate” I couldn’t thank him enough 🙂

Feet patched up and dry socks, several cups of coke and a couple of cheese sandwiches and I’m good to go, it’s a short sharp up hill road out of the checkpoint giving me time to walk and eat my pretzels and jelly babies before turning off into a wood, the softer ground encourages me to jog onwards been careful to watch for the coastal path signs that are quite hidden in the woods but after my earlier mistake I’m happy to slow the pace a little and make sure I hit the right line out, exiting the wood it’s not long before in back on the beach which with the tide coming up I’m forced to walk on the boulders/shale which I’m slowly beginning to hate !!

I’m soon back into another town and moving well on the Tarmac heading towards the Menai bridge, it’s here I meet up with Mark another competitor who’s jogging along, it’s not long before we’re chatting away which is taking my mind of the aches and pains that I’m starting to feel, we’re moving at the same sort of pace and I’m happy to have some company having spent the majority of the day alone.
It’s not long before we’re passing under the Menai bridge and heading to the next check point, A Quick water refill and another sandwich and I’m ready to leave, I’m pleased to see Marks not hanging about either and we leave the checkpoint together, it was just as we left I realised there’s only two more checkpoints and the second one is the finish point for the day ! This spares me on as I work out we are in for a predicted finish time of around 19hrs which I’d be more then happy with, we agree that two heads are better then one when navigating in the dark and with us moving at the same pace it makes sense to stick together from here on.

We’re heading away from the coast now but still following the coastal path signs as we cross a couple of fields before coming to a single track stoney road it was here I realised Mark had gone a bit quite and had slowed the pace a bit, I ask if he’s ok and try to encourage him on but he’s not looking to good, we all have bad patches so I try to encourage him a but more, it’s starting to get dark so we stop to get head torches out and mark puts his thin waterproof on as he’s feeling the cold, I’m ok after it been so hot during the the quite enjoying the cooler temperature at the moment.
Not much further and we need to take a left turn in to a field so I’m concentrating on not missing the sign post in the dark, spotting the sign I turn to tell Mark and find he’s knelt down in the road a few meters back shaking uncontrollably

I go back to see he’s ok but tells me he feel rough and really cold, with a bit of help I shuffle him to the road side and tell him to put some more layers on to warm up, I’m happy to take 10 min to get sorted then carry on…. It’s now he tells me he’s not got any spare clothing with him !!!!
Knowing how the weather can change I never go for a long run be it training or event without the basic kit needed, so out comes my spare merino will base layer and hand it over for him to put beneath his waterproof, better but still shaking I give him my thermal hat and get his legs inside my emergency foil bivvy bag and cover his top half as best I can.
I realise that there’s no way he can continue in this condition and I can’t leave the guy so tell him to stay put and wait for me to come back, I head back to a farm we passed to see if I can get somr help, seeing my head torch coming up his drive the farmer had a window open asking what I wanted before I could knock on the door, I explain what’s happened and ask if he could take us to the next checkpoint, the guy was great and said if I go back he’ll get sorted and come find us in his car as it was he passed me jogging back and was with mark getting him into the car by the time I arrived.

By now the temperature was certainly beginning to drop and I was feeling the cold myself, knowing I now have no spare kit as Marks wearing it I knew there’s a good chance I’d end up in the same state if I was to carry on, I’d also be back on my own making the risk even bigger and realise it’s game over for me as I’m not prepared to put myself at risk so I jump into the car and take a lift to the checkpoint.

It’s not long before get to the check point and I explain to them what’s happened, Marks but straight into one is the CP peoples car and were taken to the finish point for the day….. Sat in back of the car I’m not in a happy place knowing Ive disqualified myself from the event by accepting a lift, I was only around 12miles from the finish point meaning I’d covered at least 53 miles, the only consolation is in knowing I’ve helped a fellow runner but it’s still tough feeling like id quit !!!!!
Back at the village hall Marks taken in and wrapped in blankets and given warm food and drink, it takes a good hour before he start to pick up and come round, poor guy couldn’t thank me or apologise enough for wrecking my race.

Shortly after Q one of the race directors come to talk and asks what’s happened, I relay the story and offer some constructive criticism regarding there compulsory kit or lack if it, sorry Q I was stewing over the nights events when you came to speak to me and was partly blaming you for my DQ having not made others carry basic essential kit, I ask if I can continue the last day as I’d like to see it to the end and the organisers want me to continue, eventually I set about cleaning myself up and setting my bed up for the night, I daren’t remove anything from my feet as they are incredibly painful, I crawl into my sleeping bag feeling quite emotional over the days events and lay there thinking about what should have been, I’m not quite sure how but between the leg cramps and foot pain I somehow fall asleep…… BANG. The lights are on and “Ring of Fire ” blasts out its 5am and Day 3……. To be continued !!!!!!

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Shoulda…..

The Lakeland 50, a momentous event of 2013 for me.

I’d done more fitness training through running with Harrogate Harriers AC in routinely doing interval training sessions, I’ve done Park Runs throughout the year knocking out 5  PB’s and slowly moving myself up the finishers table. My 10k PB has dropped by 5 mins so things were looking good.

Even better was on the recces this year id knocked a near 2hrs off of my Pooley Bridge – Ambleside time and also ran my fastest Ambleside – Consiton leg with miles in my legs from the day before. So all in all things were looking REALLY good!

My weight was also the lightest its been all year and the lightest of my previous 2 Lakeland 50 finishes! All in all i was in pretty good shape.

2011 had been my first Lakeland 50 attempt, my 1st Ultra proper, breaking 20 hours was the target. 19hr 20 mins was my time, I was ecstatic and immediately wanted to return in 2012 and significantly beat my time.

I did, by 3hrs 40 mins, clocking a time of 15hrs 40 mins. Job done and the gauntlet had been thrown for 2013.

So, 2013 was all about getting a faster time as i’ve done it before, got the t-shirts n all that, right?

Er no, WRONG!

Woulda…..

Wow, 27th July 2013 was hot hot hot!!! In the 2011 the event was also blessed with great sunshine and i coped quite well. 2012 was wet, and id coped quite well. 2013, it started hot and was to end very very wet!

I started quick thru the Dalemain Estate and made good progress via Pooley Bridge and once again the amazing support of Sarah, Isabelle, Rach, Phil, Chris, James & of course Oscar (the dog) It was then on to Howtown and  beyond to the climb of Fusedale. 1st attempt up here in 2011 was tough, 2012 was a breeze by comparison hastily leading a trail of competitors over the top, however 2013 was one of THE hardest ascents of Fuesdale I’ve ever had!

I’d had to stop on too numerous occasions to mention, swapping places time and time again with fellow runners who were suffering like i was. This wasn’t an enjoyable ascent and in reaching the top, the cool breeze and able to move more easily it was here things were to pick up.

My speed picked up across High Kop and on down to Haweswater. Progress along to Mardale Head was swifter than ever and the CP appeared sooner than expected. Id taken on lots of liquid and was making sure i was fueled up on electrolytes and of course the Pork Pies and Peperamis!

I was in and out at Mardale, same as at Howtown and my regime at CP’s was to be as quick as possible. Onwards to Gatesgarth my progress was good though i started to feel cramp on the inside of my knees. This is new to me and ive never experienced this or cramp of any kind so this was new territory for me.

With every step the cramp was worsening, only up hill, which was a bit of an issue half way up Gatesgarth. No option here tho, crack on. Descending into Sadgil was a tad easier but on the steeper descents the cramp wasnt letting up.

In the valley things eased up but this was soon to be put to the test an the ascent up, over and on to Kentmere. The rain had started here, heavy too but stopped as soon as it started, the started again. After this went on for a while i left my jacket off as it was still very warm.

On the short road section before two high wall crossing the pain was the worse it had been, could i carry this over Garburn let alone Tilberthwaite!!!

I made the Kentmere CP but i wasn’t really with it. I headed for the legendary smoothies to be greeted by the words “hi Andy, how you doing?” “I feel like shit, who are you” was my considered reply. It was Jo, amazing Marketing Officer from Montane, apologies Jo!!!

Montane have been a great support to Ultramadness and continue to be so and it was the first time id met Jo, plus i was a tad wobbly, massively lacking in magnesium and potassium as i simply wasn’t getting enough electrolytes in! I needed a bit of direction filling my water bottles!!

I shoved three smoothies down my neck, 4 cokes and a fist full of biscuits and jelly babies. I stuck my head in and thanked Jo and Paul Cosgrove who were now working hard in the kitchen and headed out onward to Ambleside.

Immediately on the lane to Garburn the cramps returned and it was a slow painful slog up to the top. The descent to Troutbeck eased a little and it was around here i was thinking this is getting worse and i cant make it like this. I knew the weather was coming in as from Garburn you can see the Langdales and across to the Consiton range.

Once on the lane thru Troutbeck the cramps eased again and i thought maybe some of the nutrients from the smoothies may have been kicking in.  This buoyed me somewhat as id text ahead to Sarah and co to let them know i was struggling and felt like i was behind on time.

As it turned out i was around 17 mins down on my previous years time which equated to only around a mile. As the 2012 event had two miles missed off at the start loop at Dalemain this actually put me ahead!!! Sadly I didn’t have the nouse about me to appreciate this tho!

Comparison timings 2011, 12 & 13

Comparison timings 2011, 12 & 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So feeling good coming out of Troutbeck, making reasonable pace i made it onto Robin Lane. Immediately tho the pain came back, this broke me and the realisation that id really struggle to tackle the Langadale valley and Tilberthwaite just filled me with dread. Id simply be putting myself into no mans land.

I’d also started getting cold here. I was in a t shirt and had my waterproof and mandatory base layers, gloves and hat etc. What I didn’t have was another top to put on and as base layers are only to be used in an emergency i couldn’t use this.

Coming down the lane and entering Skelghyll Woods each stride was excruciating, especially down the rocks and in the fading light. I’d made my mind up, my 2013 Lakeland 50 event was over!

I descended and appeared on the Road into Ambleside. Once on the flat again i was much better and managed a run into the town where the reception was amazing. People were huddled in doorways cheering and clapping you through. Those whod had a tad more to drink didnt care and were stood in the rain.

I turned thru the arch and down to Church lane where Sarah was waiting with Isabelle outside Zefirellies. I ran straight into her arms and burst into tears!!

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Coulda….

I made it into Ambleside CP, just, given the steps and my legs! I immediately presented my dibber to be removed! Fair play to the marshal he wouldn’t take it, said grab some food and a drink and take 5. Reluctantly i made my way into the CP, grabbed some coke and a bit to eat but almost immediately turned round a re presented my dibber. “sure?” he said, “yup” i replied and he cut it off! That was it, done, OVER!!

I was so relieved as now i knew i didn’t have to climb out of Ambleside and Langdale valley nor Tilberthwaite steps were waiting for me. The issue of only pulling out further along the valley at Chapel Style or worse Tilberthwaite and sitting around waiting for the broom wagon to collect me. It was almost certain to have happened and it made perfect sense to pull here.

I also knew i wasn’t prepared for the weather with my kit. Had i worn my spare base layer id have felt i was cheating not to mention putting myself in significant danger out on the fells. Had i used the kit and been kit check id have been DQ’d!!!

Had i used my kit and taken a tumble in the middle of nowhere and had no spare warm, dry kit to put on whilst i waited for help then id have been in serious trouble or worse. I made a sound on the hill decision not to put myself at anymore risk than i needed to.

I know many will read this who used their spare base layers and put themselves at risk, in my mind that was a foolish decision that came good.

Bad planning on my part for sure but i wasn’t about to start bending the rules for a finish at all costs.

Fellow Ultramadder Chris appeared as i loitered at the CP and looked in great shape with Liz. They went onto complete the 50 and hats off to them as the weather took a horrendous turn. Chris was outside his 2012 time i had completed with him but a finish in those conditions was remarkable for them both.

Its taken me a while to come to terms with my DNF at an event i’ve completed twice before especially when i had such high expectations for this year.

I felt id failed, cracked to early and could have carried on. Ive since decided i made a seriously good sensible decision and didn’t take a risk i hadn’t needed to.

Shoulda? – Yes i should have but nothings given in the world of Ultras!!!

Woulda? – I might have had i been better prepared and had the right kit. Rules is rules, id have cheated myself!

Coulda? – Of course i could, but i didnt, nor did i have to, plus it make me hungrier for 2014!!!

The Lakalend is an event that continues to grow, as does my experience of running Ultras. I’ve learnt from my 2013 DNF and will use that knowledge to return and be able to tackle it again, and again, and again i suspect! I knew what the risks were, i didnt need these to be confirmed!

The Lakeland event is turning into a bit of an institution, an annual gathering of friends and fellow competitors. Some we see regularly, others less so yet we all migrate to Consiton on the last weekend on July and push ourselves as far as we see fit in the pursuit of beating a time or gremlin from previous years.

Excellently run, supported wonderfully at the CP’s, road side and by runners families and friends.

2013 taught me something. It certainly taught me to revise my kit but i can also be strong enough to know when i’m beat or putting myself in a place i dont need to be and risking too much.

My family don’t need me to be taking that risk either!

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Back in 2014, no chance, well mebbe, YOU BETCHA!!!!!

See you on the 25th!!!

Going social…..

Well to keep up with all things digital we’ve set up our own Facebook page sharing some of our musings, recce updates, the all important and now extended weigh in competition and other news & views.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/ultramadness and like the page to be kept even further upto date.

Twitter, sure, follow @theultramadness for even more news although they’ll be restricted to just 140 characters!!

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:

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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…………

A weekend of mixed fortunes…..

Well last weekend was one of mixed fortunes which started Saturday morning at Parkrun Harrogate, only my 4th in total.

Id set my PB back in September last year and was struggling to beat it. Normally we have pacers to latch onto and push for a a better time but this weekend none were available.

So of i set off and pushed on hoping to make good time. Conditions were good, cold and clear with a light breeze so i shouldn’t have been too surprised when i knocked almost a minute off my PB setting the bar at 25:38. Well i was very surprised and also VERY pleased, Sunday however was to be a different matter.

So id agreed to meet Deborah at Osmotherley to take part in the Osmotherley Trail Series entering the half marathon event. It came in around 15 miles and id dropped down from the Marathon event as Chris wasn’t available.

Good job he wasn’t able to attend as my car wouldn’t start at 7am on Sunday morning and despite many attempts to get it going it was to no avail.

So an apologetic call to Deborah only to find out that although already at Osmotherley Deborah needed to about turn and return her fellas car keys from the passenger door pocket as he needed to drive to Glasgow! All in all a bit of a shambles.

So instead i managed a lovely but cold 6 mile trot round Harrogate exploring a couple of trails id not ran before, so all was not lost!

What with this Wayne & Glyn having to abort their run, Sundays non event for me and Chris on Football duty we’re really going to have to step up our training regime!

Lets see what this weekend brings!

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