Tag Archive: ultra


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 !!!!!

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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 !!!!!!

Lakeland 50 – tough on the mind and body

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…………

How’s it gonna go in the Howgills????

1st proper long run out in the Howgills tomorrow since my disaster in the dales!!

Looking at the map route and profile pic it’s gonna be a great test.

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Stay tuned to see how Chris and I get on.

Solo but not too slow

Making the most of an opportunity to skive a day off work on Friday (I work for myself) and with all the other guys busy I decided on a solo out and back run from Edale.
An early start meant I’d be there for around 9am, straight forward enough to get to but with some very narrow and steep roads taking down to the bottom of the vallley my first thoughts were it could even be an issue to make the start line in January if the weather is bad, salt bins by the sides of all roads leading in says a lot!!
Pulling into the car park at 9.10 with the sun trying hard to break through the thinning clouds made conditions great for running all was good, well all was good apart from a little lack in self confidence on my part with the map, I’m ok reading and understanding maps but this was the first time I’d been out somewhere completely unknown and alone, knowing the pennine way route should be reasonably clear on the ground helped to ease my concerns, my confidence issue should be put right with my upcoming Mountain Skills nav course with the guys at http://www.nav4.co.uk !
Leaving the car park and heading out to the start location with my map in hand it wasn’t long before my first challange…… Yep there I am walking along when a couple appear from over a fence and ask if I can set them on the right path as they think they’ve lost there way…… Trying hard not to look as lost as they do we consult my map and there route description booklet and realise they are indeed on the wrong path and need to continue on the road with me a little further, a quick chat about my outing and upcoming Spine Challange and were soon parting ways as they head off on the right path…… Good deed done and almost appeared to know what I was doing Phewwwww.
Head out on the Pennine Way and its a nice incline heading up and out of the valley

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All good on the route / map front and I’m soon at the foot of Jacobs Ladder, a short but fairly steep climb sees me at the top with a magnificent Cain marking a great view back down the valley

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Another short climb and I’ve got an amazing view looking across another valley with Kinder Reservoir out to my left, a quick check on the map and I can see Cluther Rocks ahead which is the next point to head towards, a rough flagstone path easily shows the way and I’m making good time and plodding along nicely, reaching the rocks and suddenly my route has disappeared and I’m faced with a boulder field !!!
Time not to panic check the map and move forward slight traces of footsteps here and there and the sight of another Cain in the distance confirms im right and continue on through the rocks

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It’s was shortly after that I made my one and only navigation mistake, I’d come to Kinder Downfall and was expecting a good crossing point or bridge to show the crossing of the stream at top of the falls but there was nothing, with the now clear again path continue in along the stream edge I followed the path for what must have been another half a mile, checking the map it showed the crossing as right at the head of the falls and I was now clearly a long way from there so I turned round and went back, checking I’d not missed the crossing I was soon back to the falls and still not seen anything, picking a safe route across keeping dry feet was easy and after a small climb over some rocks I found the path on the other side, lesson learnt don’t always look for a bridge ect but trust the map.

The route from here was well trodden and easy to follow, more ups and down before hitting a crazily steep decent before climbing back up Mill Hill

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Top of mill hill a quick bite to eat and I’m off running yes running !!!!! Down a flagstone path with Peat Bog either side heading towards the A57, nothing strenuous so far as accent or decent and open moorland on all side is making it a bit of a boring section…. Sometimes we’re spoilt with the views we get when out.
This soon changed when running toward a section of path that was covered by a large black mucky puddle, thinking I’d run to one side to avoid the deep middle bit I’m soon knee deep in the bog and laid face first in the puddle !!!! Yes I’d obviously stepped of the path edge and straight into the thick of it, several loud choice words later and I’m upright dripping wet and covered head to toe !!!

Lesson number two learnt….. Do not step off the path !!!!!!!

This section could be really tough if its thick snow up there in January, with the path been level with the side bogs its gonna be very hard to stay on the path, I had spare layers with me so a five min stop and I was clean and dry again and soon arrived at the A57 with a little over 12 miles under my belt, time to be sensible, turn round and start heading back before i get to far, a better crossing of the puddle of doom and making good time on the flagstones again i was soon back enjoying some great views back towards Cluther Rock this time from the opposite side of the water fall, funny how you don’t seem to be going for long but things look along way off when your heading back towards them, a perfect crossing of the stream at the correct point, a slightly better crossing of the boulder field and I was we’ll on my way back to Edale

Coming back down Jacob’s ladder I was starting to feel very thirsty and the on set of muscle cramps were starting to come fast and strong, after the surgery I’ve had on my legs circulation isn’t great and cramping in both quads is often a big problem for me, I’ve learnt that lots of electrolyte helps massively and started drinking as much as possible when i suddenly realised I’d drank the 1 1/2 litres of fluid I’d taken with me, a quick stop to take my emergency half litre from inside my pack and I was back on my way thinking how poor my hydration could have been with out the emergency bottle….. I’d passed no where that I could have re-filled with water and the one and only stream at the falls was a very yellow/orange colour that I wouldn’t have fancied drinking.

Considering I was now around 20 miles I was wondering how were going to make the one and only checkpoint at 50 miles during the event, certainly shouldn’t be sweating as much in January but I think this could still be an issue ???

Final pic of the run back into edale

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It was a very enjoyable if not a touch lonely day out on my own that totalled a little over 23miles.

So to sum the day up
1. My map reading and confidence in my ability to do so was improved, there really is no substitute for just getting out there and having a go, although knowing it should be an easy to follow route/path double checking and noticing feature on the map and landscape certainly helped.
2. Do NOT to step of the path around very boggy areas.
3. How very valuable emergency supply can be.

Onward and upward as they say, http://www.ultratrail26.com/ultratrail26/howgills.html is my next long trot out and looking forward to my next outing with the full http://www.ultramadness.co.uk chaps

Weighing it all up…….

Well a bit of a Topsy Turvey week this week with one down, 2 up and 1 staying the same!

Chris has posted a loss making up on what he gained last week so maintains a pretty good lead into the last few weeks.

So the current standings are:

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Stay tuned folks, I feel a step up in training coming on to try and close the gaps…..

Weighting for the star to fall……..

…….and fall he did this week, but is it too late for us to catch him?

Chris managed to undo all his hard work with a massive gain putting him back to where he was 3 weeks ago! Did you see his BBq pic???

I’ve maintained the status quo this week but the shining stars are the Cumbria boys both posting their biggest losses of the competition so far. Well done chaps!

The results make the overall standings look like this:

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This week has shown that with the number of weigh-ins to the end of the competition reducing rapidly any significant gains could be capitalised on so be sure to subscribe by email for all the latest updates….

A recce of two halves…..

Sunday 14th April saw a very early start to meet the rest of the crew at Hawes which we only just made. After a near head on collision with a VW Golf coming toward us  very much on the wrong side of the road was maybe just a sign of things to come……well read on.

We met the boys and ditched the motor at Hawes and made our way to Horton-In-Ribblesdale. The Cumbrian collective at this point were amazed at the value for money car parking charges being only £3.50 for the day.  Half the price than in the Lakes!!! #yorkshire #yorkshire #yorkshire

Upon our arrival at Horton the weather was overcast with a breeze and all was looking good. More astonishment at the car park charges, this time £4.00, but more still more than agreeable for a good day out and a bit like a buy one get one free but across the border.

So which way, amazingly the 1st place we went was to the pub, well the car park of the Crown to where we picked up the Pennine Way. These were to be out first tentative footsteps of what will be our 108 mile epic in January 2014.

We made or way along the Pennine Way and the route which is well signposted and good underfoot all the way to Birkwith Moor and the edge of the forests. We crossed a stream or two and despite having waterproof socks on I was ridiculed for leaping these to ensure I kept my feet dry.

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We’d been doing some good map reading tests along the way following our navigation session with Charlie Sproson, Director of The Outdoor Warehouse, to ensure we knew where we were and paying much needed attention of our surroundings, height and picking up locations across the valley to make sure we worked our timing out from point to point.

We could see the snow capped iconic Yorkshire 3 Peaks, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside. We were also able to see the weather that was chasing us along our route, it didn’t look good.

Our pace was good and Crossing Sike Moor to join with the Dales Way we made great progress up Oughtershaw Side and on toward Dodd Fell. It was here the Cumbrians made good decisions and donned full waterproofs.

THE SECOND HALF

I was sporting a couple of base layers and my new Montane Minimus Smock (review to follow), full length A400 Skins, waterproof socks with Injini liners and my Inov8 295’s. Despite the fact that the wind had whipped up to what felt like gale force and the rain had started I was still toasty warm and didn’t feel I needed my waterproof trousers which were in my pack.

As we followed the track under the summit of Dodd Fell we had to negotiate to snow drifts that were covering the track. In places we were knee deep and underneath was either ice trying to bring us down or deep freezing puddles.

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I had my Kahtoola spikes in my pack but these wouldn’t have been much use as they would have clogged up with the snow being very wet as now the rain which was near horizontal was turning to hail and was making things pretty miserable.

A couple of slips on the ice jarred a few muscles trying to stay upright, much to the amusement of the rest of the boys, and battling our way through the drifts was using all our muscles. This went on for around 2/3 miles!

Working our way along the track towards Ten End seemed to take and age only to be made much much worse by my lace loops snapping causing my shoe to start working loose. I had spare laces in my 1st aid kit and also as a lanyard for my compass (just in case) but on this occasion this wasn’t the issue and the only thing that would have worked was duct taping my shoe to my foot had it got any worse. Note to self wrap some around my bottle just in case!!!

So the rain, which had now got even harder and colder had run down my jacket sleeves and soaked my gloves, it was also so loud on my hood despite my hat that we were unable to hear one another over the noise.

As we topped out at Ten End and crossed Sleddale Pasture I stopped to put on my Berghaus Vapour Storm jacket. For once id acted before I needed to, more as prevention on this occasion, as I was still quite warm but there was zero let up in the rain and I wanted to make sure I didn’t start to get cold. Wayne reminded me to eat here and I popped another chunk of Chris’s amazing Granola! 

What id noticed was that despite my waterproof socks my feet felt very wet. What I hadn’t noticed is that the fierce rain/hail had saturated my skins and was running down my legs, into my socks and in turn was filling them up! Even worse tho was I had bloody cankles!

Now this is an ongoing discussion amongst the Ultramadness team and I was happy to be proved wrong in saying that the waterproof socks/shoes are great, until you get water in them! Water can get in from crossing a river and going over the top of the socks and it being unable to escape, this can cause all sorts of issues if this is for a period of time.

So now I was running in a loose shoe and  waterproof socks with a pint of water in each that had run down my saturated skins! BRILLIANT!!!

Now had I put my waterproof trousers on there would have been no issue at all but as I wasn’t anywhere near cold I simply didn’t feel the need. Even when I stopped to put my GORE-TEX jacket on putting on my over trousers hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Never would I have thought my socks were going to fill with water in such a fashion so less an error more something to think on for next time!

So on we went descending into Hawes. The pasture was very wet and extremely slippery. Normally a fun trot down but my loose shoe was causing my foot to move in my wet sock and cause an issue. I knew we had maybe 3km to go at this point so we cracked on but any longer would be an issue for sure.

Chris had hit the deck 3 times coming down the descent. Fortunately he was able to control these and not aggravate his dislocated shoulder from a trot in the Lakes earlier in the year where he’d slipped on the ice coming down Red Pike above Buttermere in January!

We hit the road and the slipping in the shoe was starting to takes its toll and I felt some blisters forming. Having run down the hill with less coordination than usual had also started to worsen a lower back issue, thankfully only a dull ache was to be the issue! A trip to my Chiropractor to line me back up before our training starts proper is likely required to make sure this doesn’t get any worse, especially as we’ll be carrying so much more weight on the Spine!

We made it back to the car and changed into some warm clothes. My socks were emptied and a ridiculous amount of water was in them. Jury’s still out on this one boys but ill be giving them another go but im really not sure!

This recce had been really valuable for a number of reasons. My base layers, a Rab AEON  ls t-shirt, Montane Bionic t-shirt and Montane Minimus Smock had worked brilliantly with gloves and hat. I’ve been happy with my Skins and shorts for a while now but I’ve still to sort my socks out yet!

I made a sensible decision in putting on my GORE-TEX jacket before I’d needed too and the rain running into my socks was something id never ad even thought about so this had been a valuable lesson! Would anyone else have expected this?

I also had a spare thermal base layer in my pack had I needed it and my RAB Generator insulated smock so things are looking good as to finalising my kit for the Spine Challenge proper! Spare gloves, waterproof, and a spare hat and im pretty good to go in the clothes department.

We’ve a recce from Edale – Wessenden Head planned for the end of April so more fine tuning im sure but all in all a very eventful but invaluable first recce.

Next time we’re on this leg we hope to be finishing the Spine Challenge. It will be very dark, likely we’ll be ridiculously tired, and I suspect very emotional and willing our bodies the last 14 miles to Hawes!

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/297840807

 

Be sure to subscribe for future instalments and updates on our goings on……

 

 

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
Cranberrys

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 !!!!!!!

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