Tag Archive: Spine Challenger


Spine Challenger – Glyns story Part 1

Its 6am and I am feeling nauseous, the thought of having anything to eat only makes it worse. I’ve been feeling this way for a while now.

Problem is its only Monday the 6th Jan and The Spine Race is not until Saturday 11th. Is this normal? Have I caught a bug or something, my minds going into overdrive trying to work it out? I tell myself to stop stressing but its not working. It’s the last thing I need. I share my thoughts with my partner Kerry, I just get the look. The, ‘you must be kidding’ look. To be fair all she’s heard for 12 months is Spine this, Spine that, it’s new kit hun, I need it for the Spine. I’ve ate, slept and dreamt THE SPINE. So in 60 hours from 8am on Saturday 11th Jan the Spine Challenge not only comes to an end for me but also for my family and friends.

So I set off on Friday 10th with my mate Ian at the helm in charge of driving the Ultramadness crew, consisting of me, Wayne Singleton & Chris Chadwick to Castleton YHA. Andy Holohan, the fourth of the crew was supposed to be running but had to go to California on business.

Anyway, once in the van and the banter started I soon forget all about my nausea as it was now replaced by waves of excitement and terror. We arrived at Castleton Youth Hostel in good time, walked into the reception area and who should we see standing there Eugeni Rosello` Sole who looks about 12yrs old and can’t weigh more than 8st. Seemed a really nice chap though, he says hello and all that.  

We are first to arrive at the Spine Master class run by Stu Westfield, me with pen and paper to hand, (don’t know why, but thought I might need it always come prepared and all that) This class was invaluable; it was great to get first hand tips and advice from fellow Spiners, like heating jacket potatoes then stuffing them down your clothing to heat your core.!! Ps didn’t need the pen and paper.

This was followed, after a short journey to Edale, by the Spine briefing, which really drummed it home to what we where about to under take in case we didn’t know. Being sat in a room with some well known ultra runners was all a bit surreal.  Being sat in a room with ultra runners who actually finished the Race was even more surreal. The briefing was great, again it drummed it home how difficult and dangerous this race was.

With the briefing over and our kit check out the way, it was time for some food, a pint and a meet up with Di and Maxine the Ultramadness support crew for some words of reassurance. Di & Maxine are just great. Considering we only asked them a few weeks ago, they said yes straight away, dropped everything and came to support us. So after some good conversation & good food we felt reassured (ish) we made our way back to the YHA, threw a bit more banter at each other, until, slowly the silence creeps in, as we all lie in our bunks thinking, thinking about what tomorrow will bring, then sleep comes from nowhere quickly followed by my snoring and the silence is no more (apparently)   

Race Day:

We make our way downstairs to the reception area in the YHA to a gaggle of Spine runners all pacing, shuffling, waiting for there mini bus to take them to the start. Its 7.30 and Maxine and Di arrive bang on time to take us the 20 min journey to Edale. Again more thinking time..!!

We arrive, collect our kit from last night, checked it all over to make sure it was as it should be. Then Scott gives us the weather report. Ladies and gent it looks like you’ve got some cracking weather for the Spine race. Okay people you have sunshine to start with, possible cloudy later on, westerly winds, bit of hail at around 1pm.  Then it’s back outside to Max and Di’s campervan to wait for the start

I look at Wayne, we both look at Chris, the three of us look up to the sky, and then Wayne says “was that rain I just felt” yep sure was, so we put on our waterproof trousers. This was quickly followed by Wayne saying is that sleet coming down, yep and 5 minutes after that it was hail, then snow and that’s how it stayed for the next 3 – 4 hours. In the space of 15 minutes we had gone from a promised of sunshine to full on snow. After a few issues with some runner’s paperwork we set of at 8.21am from a small muddy playing field in Edale. Now, I hadn’t recced any of the route form from Edale up to Cowling. I couldn’t make it when Wayne, Chris and Andy did this section. Sometimes I think that’s a bonus. Working on the premise of what you don’t know won’t kill you. No sooner had we set off than we were at the bottom of Jacobs Ladder, a 596m climb to the top. I had heard lots of talk about Jacobs Ladder, most of it bad, so in my head I compared it Fusegill, a long climb with a few false summits which is part of the Lakeland 100 route in the Lake District. In the end it didn’t really matter what I compared it to as I couldn’t see my hand in front my face, let alone the top because of the snow.  After a few shouts out to Wayne and Chris asking them if they are okay, it was a case of head down get it done. Once up Jacobs Ladder, we were on Kinderlow 663m, following what’s more commonly known as the “Yellow brick road” Basically, there are huge flagstones all along the route. This is brilliant in summer, but in winter they are like mini ice rinks and you’ve got a hundred’s/ thousands to run over in the next 60hrs.  So, with the snow still coming down, winds still blowing in from the west, all we see for the next few hrs is flagstones. You can’t look up to see where you’re going for fear of falling over. We were also told in the Spine masterclass that some of these flagstones have a tendency to flip if you don’t place your feet in the middle of them. So the three of us are going along nicely over Glead Hill getting a good pace going where possible, reminding each other to eat and drink, when all of a sudden boom Chris almost disappears. Whilst running on the flagstone he placed his foot on boggy marshy ground between two stones, and almost sinks up to his waist. After a quick check over making sure he was okay, Chris being from Yorkshire picks him self up, drains the water out of his waterproof trousers, grabs his poles and starts running again. What he couldn’t have known was in a few hrs he would pay the price for that fall. Luckily we had arranged to meet the Ultramadness support crew on the A57 so we didn’t have to far to go before we could rest for a few minutes and get a hot brew down to warm us up.

The smell of tea and coffee out of the support van must have drifted on the wind, because when we got there, there was another runner sat on the camper van bumper drinking a brew and tucking in to nibbles, which was fine. So after a hot drink, nibbles and change of gloves to Montane Extreme Mitts, Prism gloves were soaked, we set off. The next section wasn’t too bad, all things considered and seemed to pass without too many incidents. I think we all fell a few times.  We meet up with a friend of ours Paul Brant on Devils Dyke on the way over to Torside Reservoir. Paul was doing the race the second year running. So three became four and the next few hours were spent chatting away about why we run these things and life in general. During this section we play leapfrog with other runners & pass some hill walkers.

Around by Bleaklow Head we were caught up by a youngish guy doing the race. It became obvious very quickly that something wasn’t right with him, he was coughing for England. Not just a tickle but a real “from the lung cough” We asked him on several occasions if he was okay, which he replied yes ish. Later on route he confessed to just getting over a cold. To us he sounded like he still had what ever it was and it was more than a cold. On the plus side we kept a good pace, always keeping up wind of him and it stayed this way for a few hrs. When we came off the fells to the CP I mentioned the marshal that the guys behind wasn’t in good shape. Next thing we new he’d retired and we where at Torside Reservoir.

I couldn’t remember if Torside Reservoir was an agreed meeting point with our support crew. Like Chris and Wayne I hoped it was. I remember telling Paul a few hrs earlier that they would be there which put a smile on his face. Like us he was gagging for a brew. Imagine his disappointment when we came off the fells and we couldn’t see them. Paul was gutted, we were all gutted. To cheer us up we were met by a rather jolly Mr Jonathon Fletcher though, all snug in his -32 down parka. So it was hand shakes all round, and a quick double check just to make sure Max and Di weren’t hiding somewhere and off we go.

You can’t really miss a big white camper van, can you….? Well apparently so, Max and Di were there, somewhere, but we missed them.    

 We all got some energy bars and water down our necks and off we go again at a good pace. No long after crossing reservoir Paul said he want to slow it down a little as he knew what’s coming. That can only mean one thing to me, hills. Regards hills, I take the view that the sooner you’re up the better. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run up them, but I would rather just get them out of the way so its head down and get it done. I can remember Chris feeling slightly nauseous going up the climbs and Wayne talking to him about anything to take try and help him take his mind of things. It must have worked as Chris did a grand job and got to the top stomach intact. By this point we were all focussed on getting to the A635, just before Wessenden head.

When we came of the fell on to the main road a guy came over and asked if we had seen a young lad on the fell dressed in horse riding clothing, similar to what he was wearing. He went on to say the lad was following the hounds and had lost contact with the others. When we said “no we’ve not seen anybody” you could see a real concern on his face. The light was fading fast and we had had head torches on for the last hour or so. I hope the lad turned up safe and sound.

I’m sure I remember a marshal telling us that a group of Druids, dressed in cloaks with no shoes on had also taken to the fells a few miles away. Apparently this came over the radio from a fellow marshal who couldn’t believe his eyes, so took some pictures to prove it.   

Now im not known for my navigation skills so prior to the event the Ultramadness crew did some navigation training with Charlie Sproson from http://www.mountainrun.co.uk which proved invaluable. After leaving the marshals on the A635 we caught up with a few other runners, and we are all heading towards Wassenden Reservoir. Just after Wassenden Reservoir the track splits in two and before I know it I can see Wayne, Chris and the others trotting off up what I think is the wrong track.  After a quick double check of the map I shout them all back telling them they are going the wrong way. A guy called Tom gets his GPS out and reads out the coordinates, checks them on the map and it turned out they were all heading to Marsden. Team work puts us back on track and more importantly back together as we make our way round Black Moss, over Dinner Stone towards the M62. Off we set with about 2 miles to go until we meet our support crew, and I am getting desperate for a brew and some hot food. The miles pass without incident. On reflection we all went quiet. Not much talking or banter. I think we all felt the same and wanted off this fell. I remember looking over to my left and seeing Manchester all lit up with the light of the M62 snaking off into the distance. A view I would never see again, well not this year anyway. Off in the distance I can hear some dogs barking, probably miles away, but they seemed pretty close to me. We had been running for about 14 hrs now and the mind starts to play tricks on you, especially at night on unfamiliar ground. With the lure of the M62 lights in the distance we plough on to meet Max & Di on the A672. On arrival the support crew are there along with a mini bus used by the race Doctor. 30 miles down about 15 to go to Hebden Bridge

Now what happened next happened so fast it was scary. I remember seeing Max & Di’s camper van, doors open kettle on, nibbles out ready for any takers. Next thing Wayne’s sat in the back of it looking at his boots, looking up at Chris and me with out saying speaking, not really knowing what he’s doing.

It turns out his feet are freezing; he is freezing, shivering for England and he has a vacant look on his face. Next thing I see is Max is taking his boots off his and Di is drying his feet ready for clean socks to go on. By this point Wayne is going down hill fast, still shivering he puts on several layers of clothing including his big Rab insulated jacket.  Next thing he asks to speak to the race medic who was treating some other runners had requested her attention. So she climbs in the back of the camper van, the doors close and Wayne has a one to one consultation with a medic on the A672. In no time at all she gives her diagnosis, “early on set of hypothermia due to de-hydration”. Hot sugar water was prescribed followed by “you aren’t going anywhere until I say so”. So with this in mind Max gets the kettle on again but not only for Wayne but for those also diagnosed with the same symptoms in the Doctors vehicle. It turned out that about 6 to 8 runners withdrew here, all for various reasons. Some of them because their feet were in bits & some because something just wasn’t right. For all concerned this was a tough, but sensible decision to make. One of the guys that withdrew was Tom who shared his GPS coordinates with us at Wassenden Reservoir. Toms was a really nice guy who we first met at the Spine Master class. Here he shared his experiences of previous years with the group offering tips that he leant the hard way.  

Wayne is still drinking hot sugar water whilst shivering in the back of the camper. Chris and I get a brew inside us followed by some food & Max and Di are worried. After a while I get in camper, the heat hits me as it’s nice and toasty compared to outside. I speak to Wayne to see how he doing, not good mate came the reply, I’m freezing. I can see the concern on his face which is pale, ghost like. I leave him to it and Chris and I jump in the Doctors vehicle to keep warm as the front seats of the camper have been taken by Tom and co

After some time the Doctor check’s on him again. Keep drink the sugar water Wayne you still aren’t going anywhere she says. Times ticking on by this point, I think about an hours past by already, it seems like 5 minutes. Now I can only guess at what must have been going through Wayne mind at this point but I should imagine it was something like.

  • ·         Wish I was in California with Holohan.
  • ·         Will I be shivering for the rest of my life?
  • ·         I’ve put too much in to quit.
  • ·         Do I stay and get warm as per doctors orders – but I don’t know how long this will take.
  • ·         Glyn and Chris will be getting cold waiting for me.
  • ·         If I get warm, can I make it to Hebden Bridge with out putting myself or others in danger
  • ·         Do I withdraw and let the guys carry on.              

Not a decision I would like to make. After climbing into the camper to see how he was doing things it was obvious that things hadn’t changed that much. It had been over an hour and Wayne had said that it could take forever to get warm and didn’t want to hold Chris and me up any longer, so had decided to withdraw from the event. I can see the disappointment in his face, along side the, not fear, but a real understanding that he came close it to it and the potential dangers involved.

Like Chris I’m gutted when he tells me, but I feel I can’t show it for that would put additional pressure on him when he doesn’t need it. As much as I want him to get up and come with us he can’t. Inside I want him to tell the doctor that he’s fine, ready to go, but that’s selfish of me. He’d trained so hard and sacrificed so much, but I have to respect his decision. Now, my feet are like blocks of ice, I’m stamping the ground, shuffling around trying to keep them warm. I debate changing my wet socks and boots to get some of that fast towel action off Di to dry my feet but decide against it in the hope that once I get going they will warn up. So we say are good bye’s to a shivering Wayne with Max and Di saying they will take care of him, and off we go heading out to cross the M62 to the amusement of the traffic using it.

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Nav? I’ll just follow the person in front…

… that was my strategy for the MdS, and it worked. I didnt die, or even get mildly lost, despite my ‘drip under the tree’ incident. However, I had a thought that the Spine Challenger would be a different story, particularly as there’s no mention of support from helicopters, or gimassive green lasers to guide the way, or indeed another 1000 runners on the course to follow.

Nav refresher it is then…

Thankfully we’ve recently got to know Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run really well (he’s also doing the full Spine coincidentally), and he agreed to help us out with the skills we’d need to prevent deathbybadnav in Yorkshire come January

So that’s how we ended up at Mountain Run’s nerve centre in Watermillock, drinking brews and eating over-priced chocolate hob-nobs (they saw Glyn coming, again). We had a great couple of hours chatting about kitting choices, and nutrition and hydration, getting some good tips in the process, and also reinforcing some of the decision we’d made. Glyn’s face made me chuckle a number of times as he went from glee to ‘oh crap i’m going to die’.

We then got our kit together, and piled into Chadderseses van for the trip to Dufton near Appleby in Cumbria, and the Pennine Way. Took us a bit longer to get there than expected, but I’ll not go into that, and we were out of the van and sorting ourselves out. It was like a Montane catalogue shoot with all the kit that we’ve got, and Charlie is another who’s getting support from them – not sure any of us will ever get a modelling contract though. Then we were off up the road chuntering away to each other.  We rounded a corner and Charlie kicked in to gear – right where are we, how long do we expect to be on this path for, when will we be turning a corner.  Glyn and Chads confidently answered the questions, I disagreed with them. Show me where you are Wayne…. Ah, that’s the problem, I’m going down the wrong path, starting in the wrong place.  I was off to a bad start as I’d got lost within half a mile of the van!

We got some experience in recognising our surroundings as we made our way slowly uphill, checking out where we were in the daylight to a pretty accurate degree.  And then hit the snowline!  And boy, was there a lot of it, which surprised me. This was pretty exciting, it was soon going to be dark, and finding landmarks was becoming more difficult in the snow, and then we looked around and saw the clouds moving in too. AWESOME!!

We hit a cairn on Green Fell and the wind hit us.  Flipping heck it was cold!  We were fairly well kitted out between us, and had been gradually pulling on buffs, gloves and hats on as we ascended the fellside, but the wind went through me.  The other guys started putting waterproof trousers on to get some wind protection to their legs, but I thought I’d be ok as I had Skins and walking trousers on – Lesson Number 1!!

Charlie asked me to verify where we were by finding a sheep fold that should have been around 50 metres or so away.  I put my head torch on and trotted over.  Nope, no sheep pen. Some massive boulders, but they’re too big.  Charlie used this as an excercise for us.  Use the compass, measure the distance, pace it out.  Nope, no sheep pen still.  Phew, it’s not just me then (I’ll be back when the snow’s gone to find that bloody sheep pen).

Darkness was now well and truly upon us, and we were into the bubbles of light on our headtorches and not much else.  Talking through buffs muffling our voices.  My finger tips were getting proper cold despite my gloves, so Charlie had us doing actions to get circulation going. Brilliant, they were warm again and Lesson 2.  Now it was my toes, and snow was up inside my trousers and down into my goretex boots – wet cold feet – need gaiters – Lesson 3!  These lessons were coming thick and fast now.

Back to the cairn.  Measure the distance to the next cairn. Take a bearing – bloody hell I got it right!  Then it’s ‘two hundred metres, two hundred paces, off we go…. how’s everyone feeling’ says Charlie, ‘Bricking myself’said I.  Good was the response, and off we went, off the edge of the earth (or so it felt).  Two hundred and two paces later, and a cairn emerged from the darkness and I was bloody delighted.  I couldnt get over the fact that I’d managed not to lose myself on the fell, although the other three had taken the same bearing and were walking alongside me counting too.  At the cairn, we did the same again, with a longer count, but did the same again! Awesome!  I was feeling comfortable and confident now as we took another bearing from cairn to cairn.  On the downside, I could feel the cold leaching warmth from my legs and arms now, and I was getting really cold.  I had a spare down jacket in my pack, which I was contemplating putting on, but then we made it to the final cairn and then agreed to get off the fell down a road and back home.  We took a bearing to the road end, where it met the path, and off we trogged through the snow.

We had a great wander back to Dufton by the road, which had some incredibly drifting snow across, which seems a bit surreal now.  Chadders and I were chuntering away for most of the trip, with Glyn and Charlie chatting away further back as we wandered through Knock, then Dufton back to the van and the rest of the chocolate hob nobs

As always, we had a great day on the fells, and it was good to introduce Charlie to some of our ‘banter’, which was at least 50% down due to the absence of Andy.  All in all the day was fantastic, and I feel much happier about being in the darkness somewhere on the Pennine Way come Yorkshire.  However, I’ll feel less confident in Chadwick, after the needle on his compass decided to reverse direction with North facing South, but that’s another story.

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

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

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

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

Montane Alpine stretch jacket

First Aid kit with loads of goodies

Dry sack with Montane fleece, Montane Ice Grip gloves

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

Leki walking poles

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

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

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

MdS buff

Windstopper head wear

Seal Skins Merino wool gloves and windproof overgloves

Sol emergency shelter

Mountain Equipment Xero sleeping bag

Two raidlight 750ml water bottles secured in front pouches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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