Tag Archive: run

Forced to Cross Train

For those of you that follow the blog you’ll know I’m not running at the moment after having surgery on my shoulder, for those of you that are new to the blog I dislocated my shoulder whilst out running in the Lake District back in January.
The fall resulted in surgery 17 days ago for a repair to my Rotator Cuff and re-attachment of my Suraspinatus tendon.

I’m pleased to report that an ultra sound scan at out patients today showed everything is still in the right place and starting to repair, I’ve been told I’ve still to keep my arm in the sling I left hospital in until my next appointment in 3-4 weeks and to be careful as it’s usually weeks 3and4 that people start think its feeling good and begin to do more which often results in a poor out come or damage to the repairs made.
Having been off work for almost 3 weeks I certainly can’t afford any steps in the wrong direction so need to listen to the advise given!!!

I’ve had my first physio appointment and have some very specific exercise to do which are making a big difference already to my ever stiffening elbow and easing the annoying shoulder pain.

I’m pleased to report my ever suffering family are bearing up well to my constant moaning and boredom, whilst I’m getting good at one handed hovering and dusting I’m still not able to wash up much to Karen’s annoyance 😉

I’ve joined a gym this week, I’m not able to do much just yet but I’m keeping up with a bit of cardio on the exercise bikes and stair climber, I’m not sure what the gym staff think when I’m using the equipment one handed but there always asking if I’m ok or need any help.
I’m also enjoying the pool, it’s all one depth of 1.4m and with not been able to swim at the moment I’m able to walk lengths, again I guess I’m quite a sight walking up and down performing high knees with each stride but hey it feels like I’m doing something, gym sessions are usually finished off in the Sauna, Steamroom, Jacuzzi and a relaxing visit to the coffee lounge before walking home, between walking there and back I’m averaging 5 miles a day plus my workout, probably most important it’s getting me out the house for the morning which is great for the mind.

There’s only so much Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women a man can take !!!!!

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 !!!!!!

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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Ultra Fueling

Having now had the experience of a few ultras and heading into some longer event its about time I got my act together so far as eating on the hoof.
With all the effort been put into health eating and weight loss, (which I appear to be doing rather well in !!!!) I need to make sure that I’m getting enough to eat on route but without killing all the hard work.
With the upcoming Spine route recci it was the perfect time to see what worked.

Im not a fan of really sweet sugary jelly sweets that give you a quick boost but for me just don’t sustain any prolonger energy, savoury foods work well for me but can be a burden to carry and keep in a good condition, so I decided on having a go at making my own Granola.
A trip to the supermarket and an hour in the kitchen resulted in a tray of Low Fat Granola been removed from the oven.
After cooling It was tested by the whole family with lots of Hmmmm’s all round even from the kids.

Armed with four bags each containing two pieces it was an early morning start to meet the Ultramadness gang out at Hawes, another short drive allowing for car logistics and we were at Horton-in-Ribblesdale with a vehicle back in Hawes for our return journey.

Granola handed out and off we set, a couple miles in and consciously trying to remember to eat a little but often it wasn’t long before we were trudging up hill and the perfect opportunity for tucking into my first piece, WOW sweet enough for that instant hit, chewy but easy to swallow even when breathing a little harder from the uphill effort, tasty and filling enough to feel like I’d eaten something of substance without that overly full feeling.

The noises been made all round seemed to indicate I wasn’t the only one happy with the Granola !!

Todays test was very positive for me, I wasn’t flagging or energy sapped by the end and most importantly my stomach agreed with the contents consumed .

Next I need to have a think and see if there’s health savoury option to be made and tested!!

Low Fat Granola Ingrediants
1 Cup Bran Flakes
1 Cup Multigrain Cherrio’s
1 Cup Rice Crispies
1 Cup Oats
1/2 Cup Sugar Free Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Low Fat Peanut Butter

Additional ingredient optional, add to your own taste, I included
Peacan Nuts
Sunflower Seeds

Place cereals and oats into a large zip lock freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin
Remove from bag and place in a large mixing bowel
Add additional ingrediant and mix thoroughly
Soften peanut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds and add to to the bowel along with maple syrup, again mix thoroughly

Pre heat oven to 200 C

Spread mixture evenly in a shallow tin and place in centre of oven for 20 min

After 20min remove from oven and cut into bite size or bar size pieces as you require, return to oven for a further 15 min.

If you like your Granola slightly soft and chewy remove it from the oven after 15min and allow to cool naturally, if you like it harder / crunchy switch the oven off after 15min and allow the granola to cool inside the oven.

Tune in for next weeks weigh -in to see the effects of Low Fat Granola !!!!!!!

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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