The Apocalypse 50

In my build up to the Lakeland 100 I’m trying to race once a month to get my eye in so to speak. On looking around for races I fancied the old county tops but couldn’t find a partner from either Raidlight or Ambleside due to other commitments so I found this little number. I’d obviously heard of Beyond marathon and knew it would be very well organised. They also do a 100 race but I had no intentions of going that far as I wished to jump straight back into training. A 100 takes me a week to get running again. 

I slept in the van overnight at cardingmill, the race start. I’d had my first cold in two years this week and I woke up with it on my chest. I was in two minds whether to run or not as I always say above the neck is ok below is a no…..so I decided to run ;). I’m now convinced this cold is due to my increase in carbohydrates so I can increase my speed. Disease and viruses need sugar to live. They were waiting, lurking there ready to pounce. 

I met Richard who labelled me as one of Ant Bethels guys…. A speedster!!😳….noooo, I’m a plodder really. I just suffer well and plod on. 

Charlie sharpe had entered with two minutes to go to the deadline so it would be a big ask to win this by plodding well.

We have the race brief and away we go. Steady climb turns into a steep climb and I can feel my chest. This is going to be a long day. I’m running with Daniel Hendrickson who is doing the 100….he notices I’m a little hoarse. I’ll grind one out I tell him. I’ve raced Dan a few times lately and come better off. He’s improved a hell of a lot and won a few races lately. We lock horns again next month which will be good. Daniel went on to win this 100 too.

We touch the summit and I decide to let go a bit…what the hell. Wish I hadn’t, I fell cutting my knee and arm. Only 46 miles to go. O well, just settle into your metronome and relax. Checkpoints come and go, some unmanned self clips and the manned ones were excellent. I was following a GPX on my watch and hadnt reccied the course. You have to keep an eye on said GPX tho janson. I glanced down and noticed the arrow wandering in space 😪…… Damn, wrong turn. Instead of tracking back I took the beeline to the track through bracken and ended up falling in a ditch. I’m doing great. I scramble out onto the road( the right route) and pop just in front of the third place runner. I’d lost a good chunk of time. This happened a few times and looking at strava it cost me 16 minutes of race time. I soon opened back up the gap on a climb and settled back into rythem. 

  
On the 30 mile checkpoint lisa had arrived and Clive Hevey was running the checkpoint. I grabbed my drinks off lisa and a few handfuls of sweets… These sweets would play havoc with my stomach. Don’t know why I do it. I then set out on a 10 mile loop which then brings you back to the same checkpoint……yak, at least 7 mile was road running….maybe more. While I was in the checkpoint, 3 other runners dropped in so I knew I couldn’t dawdle. I took a wrong turn again 😪. I assumed I would be caught because of my constant mis navs but it never happened. Towards the end of this loop was a lovely steep climb to a hill…..yey back in familiarity an end to the famine of hills. I returned to the Wife and Clive who informed me that Charlie was looking a little fresher than me.. I didn’t even ask how far in front as I knew I was lacking. Give me my 16 minutes back and I still wouldn’t trouble him today. Off I plodded on the last 10 mile of the race. A relentless steady climb almost all the way to the end for the steep descent into cardingmill. At least I could see miles behind so always knew I was safe from being caught.  My stomach was brewing up a storm. I never have stomach issues but had allowed myself jelly babies and fudge and Jaffa cakes. why? Because my Ucan Mix was in my backpack and I couldn’t be bothered to get it. That little demon bites again. I let out a bit of wind…..it was one of them where you think, I better not do that again!! Let’s get to the end a bit sharpish. 

I reached the national trust centre and finish line and 2nd position. The wife, Charlie, event officials and more worryingly a policeman with a Gun Were waiting. A very well organised event and thanks to Richard and all at beyond marathon. He would be here for another 26 hours or so, waiting for the last runner to come home.

   
 I used altra lone peak shoes for the first time in a race and they performed admirably. It looks like my foot probs have subsided anyway. Also my old stalwarts of Raidlight ultralight top (never finished outside top two in this, so thank god it’s summer 😝). I also used the raidlight Olmo 5 which is an excellent piece of kit and has now been updated. I eagerly await delivery of the new one. They’ve sold out ATM. We’ve been promised a trial of the new Raidlight shoes! http://www.raidlight.com/en/footwear/4046-trail-dual-finger.html The Dual finger. They allow the big toe to operate independently. Looking forward to trialing these on the trail. 

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Hardmoors 55 2015

Well I suppose I better get my season underway. I had taken a couple of months out with minimum training. I had cross trained and discovered crossfit which I enjoy. 

The spine challenger had really taken a lot out of me. It wasn’t so much the running, more the cold had decimated my metabolism. For two weeks I just couldn’t maintain any weight. No matter how much I ate. Then it went the other way and I put half a stone on…..

Anyway, time to return to the race scene. I’d had a couple of long days in the lakes training with Amy durrant who is doing her BGR in May but other than most had been short intense workouts. What better than the hardmoors 55 with a 300 strong lineup. 

I travelled up the night before to Gainsbourgh with the wife and the dogs and stayed in a dog friendly hotel…..first mistake. I had a terrible nights sleep, the dogs just didn’t settle and I ended up in the bathroom out of the way. Second mistake was eating my body weight in meat at the carvary. It never digested for the race…
The advantage of the hotel was it was near the start line. I nipped to register before breakfast so could chill out for a while. I lined up with some very familiar faces. There is quite a hardmoors family now. 

At the start I went off with Matty Brennan but let him go as I like to build into the race. Matt was after the leaders. I didn’t feel that great, very tired from lack of sleep and my feet were sore…..already!! I’d actually hammered the downhill on last weeks Bob graham leg….in kathoolas!!! I put my feet down to this. 

  
I could see shelli Gorden and a group In front but wasn’t really catching them nor was trying to too much. I knew this was a struggle after 20 miles or so…. Lisa missed me on roseberry topping tho….

  
 I got up and down that a bit sharpish at least. She was crewing me with the dogs in tow. 

  
On 25 milesish I caught matty up. He was struggling big style. Said he was pulling out at osmotherly. It happens to us all.. My feet were hurting that much I thought about it myself. I was really on my arse and out of calories approaching osmotherly and needed to offload some layers so was glad to see lisa to refuel and strip off.

  
The next 20 miles were much of the same really..overtake a few and some overtook me. I had to take my socks off…..injinji are toss!! Rubbed me a few new blisters. After I’d done that I could bloody run at last. Ffs.  10 miles left I downed Kendal mint cake…..it was brilliant as it says on the tin. I had a mega boost and overtook about five or six on the run in. If only earlier I’d taken my socks off!!

  
A really very poor 16th place bur a course PB. I put this down to very easy running conditions compared to the year before…… Anyway, it’s a wake up call and I’m back in the groove now. I think!!

The Montane Spine Challenger

Well the day finally arrived that I’d spent twelve weeks training for or as the wife might say, spending money on. To be fair I had spent a sizeable chunk of my hard earned on getting the lightest weight kit possible although it wouldn’t be just for this race. “What, there’s others like this she says”??.

We travelled up to Edale on the Friday afternoon to attend the race briefing and to go through the kit check. The weather was rough and the forecast was even worse with wind looking like the major problem. On arrival we parked by the race start and would be sleeping in the van. After faffing around a bit I went through kitcheck relatively quickly without problems which was a relief. I saw a few familiar faces. Last years winner and race favourite Marcus Scotney now on his way back home for vegan brownies in prep for the race and looking fitter than ever.

Onto the brief where I met Daniel Hendrickson who I’d raced in the Nomad50 last year. He did the challenger last year and finished 7th. I picked Dans brains a bit for information about the course. After the brief it was down to the ramblers for dinner and a few refreshments. Just fizzy pop for me of course. Then it was Back to the van to finish off the kit and bed down for the night not that I would get much sleep as ever. The wind was howling and the van was rocking, no pleasure been had though ;). It was very cozy…. Thank god we are in here and not doing something daft on the hills I said to lisa…. I think the second word was off anyway…

So to race morning and a knock on the van. The rest of my My support team had arrived. Dale Colclough who coached me through my Bob Graham success and Frank Murphy. Frank runs StokeFit. Along with the wife they would be following me around the course intercepting me at various points on route.

The startline then, the weather was not too bad I thought but just as we lined up….the heavens opened, to accompany already strong winds. Time to Don waterproof.

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Ed Catmur another race favourite lined up beside me in just a T-shirt and some rather eccentric leggings to say the least. He would soon layer up though. Ed has a number of 100 mile wins and mountain marathon titles to his name so has to be a contender. He has run 100 miles in 15:45 hours :/. This race is a different beast though.

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Away we go, Ed and Marcus are off like rockets, I have no intention of going with them and eventually settle into a pack of four runners behind the front two.

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We meandered along the Pennine way from Edale to Jacobs ladder the first climb of the day or even days. It was like a sketch show and we were just having buckets of water tipped over us to make it harder and this was before we got onto the kinder plateau.

The running paused as we climb Jacobs ladder. Then like a scene from saving private Ryan the machine guns opened. Ratatat ratatat on the hood of my waterproof. Then bang, mortar bomb gusts were coming in at 100mph. This was a battle to stay safe and upright. We were all disorientated and I noticed a few taking the wrong path on kinder, back to Edale. Perhaps wouldn’t have been a bad idea. I shouted them back onto the PW line over to kinder down. Which of course in this wind was now kinder up as the waterfall blows back up the entrant. One was Ed catmur who had dropped back from marcus

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The guns intensify as the water slams into you with every gust of wind. Just get across this f****r quickly I thought. Now my race plan was to keep my heartrate at 125 bpm and to stay aerobic for 112 miles. That plan was being carried off kinder scout in the wind somewhere as I could hear my panting behind my buff. I’d been anaerobic for a while now and I knew I’d pay later but this was about the moment in hand, I had to get out of the line of fire.

Next task was to get to snakes pass where there were lots of people waiting and for a while the wind was on my back for once. Longtime friends Sue and Nigel Jeff were waiting. The race is suspended she says and Marcus is out, he has sprained his ankle. I was gutted for Marcus and gutted that the race was suspended. I gave sue a hug and climbed into a waiting van with a log burner manned by race officials. Wait a minute…. I gave sue a hug? She got me into running from my hill walking background. I should of given her a slap ;)…

The officials said we would be credited the time we spent in the van on our overall finish time. I started voicing my opinion. ” I think we need to get going. There’s no point holding us here as we are over the dangerous part for now and we are going to be left on the moors in darkness in the elements if we don’t move. I was shivering now and was wrapping up in blankets and duvets. There won’t be any room in the van for more. I was released after 28 mins. Others runners had gone through while I was putting my layers back on so I’d dropped back in the field. I was annoyed that I’d gone anoerobic and really could have walked to here now from Edale and been in a better state. I eventually worked my way past folk, not intentional to be at the front, just keeping my race pace. I eventually caught Daniel who had got out of the van earlier. Looks like I was leading the race…. 10 miles in. Just another 100 to go then 🙂

I arrived at Torside resovoir which was my first point with my crew. “Trackers all over the place, it’s got you in 15th then 1st” Dale said. I explained what had happened. I scoffed some food and was out on my way after a few minutes.

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Just as I got out Ed came by and we ran together for a while and had a brief chat. I let him go. I had no intention of running at his pace for the race, I was on a different strategy. Just before we were to ascend from torside I saw Ed fall. I caught him and checked he was alright. Bleeding a bit he said but ok. This race was going to be about getting to the end in one piece. Sort of last man standing. Keep eating, keep drinking , keep warm was my mantra. I’d now taken out my running poles. One to help keep me upright and two they are supposed to conserve energy. I’m still debating them.

The next part of the race I hate. It’s all barren moorland which on a nice hot summers day may be lovely…. Today it isn’t. When I reccied the route it wasn’t so in my opinion it’s shit. I just knuckled down and got through it. There were Marshals at wassendon with flapjack and water and were appreciated. I made my way past reservoir after reservoir until I got to Bruns clough where the team were. A bit of paleo cake here and paracetamol I think and good to go then it’s across saddleworth to the M62 bridge. My team intercepted me a few times which was nice and morale boosting. They were Snapping pics as I laboured across the moors into 60 mph winds. It was getting the norm now. I knew I’d added at least 25% energy exertion fighting the wind.

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I could see the M62 mast and then noticed a runner approaching with two patterdales…. There’s only one bloke I know that runs with two patterdales, it was Steve foster who had come out to say hello. I’ve ran with Steve and his dogs on BGR reccies. We ran down to the Mast where the crew had intercepted me. A short slurp and I was away. Steve stopped for a brew and later caught me by the trig on blackedge. My crew would go to the whitehouse pub where I’d scheduled another feed.

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Now the weather demons had returned in the shape of hail storms. Wack, straight in the kisser. Ouch, I put on my goggles and buffed up. It was rough but passed after half hour. On to hebden bridge and the climb out of Calderdale is crap to say the least. Then, when you get to the top you have to go a mile or so out your way to get to the race checkpoint and then back again to the PW. I made a slight nav error here which cost me 5 mins which annoyed me since I’d reccied it. I got to the checkpoint where the filmcrew were filming and the officials were waiting with my drop bag. I forgot I was only the second runner they would have seen for the day and they were all over me which was great. I didn’t go in for warm food as I had that already in the van. I just got on my way. As I worked my way back to the PW I passed daniel. A brief chat and hug and we made our ways in opposite directions. I also passed another runner too. I think it was Lee walker.

It’s night now, my next meet with my team was cowling and boy was this section grim. It was quite scenic on reccies but tonight it was black and the weather demons were out to get me. Just when you think you’re getting a reprieve it unleashes another element upon you. This time it was snow. Not particularly thick and heavy but enough to create whiteout in combination with headtorch and wind. Just get off the moors quickly I kept saying to myself. The descent into cowling is horrible. It’s just a boggy rocky marshy mess. Running ain’t possible, then when I got to the bottom I found myself wandering around somebodies garden trying to find a gate or stile onto the Pennine way. Thankfully I saw dales headtorch. They had been watching the tracker. Phew, that was a low moment in the race. The crew said that Ed had only come through half hour or so and he didn’t look to good and I was catching him. Well I must have looked ok but I felt how Ed had looked 😟

Next stop would be Gargrave. I changed into my Mudclaws because on recce the river was a bog fest. On this section I started my hallucinations, monsters and angels on bridges, quite surreal but at least I had somebody to talk to. I reached Gargrave which is a beautiful town but it was asleep. I crept through it to the awaiting mudfest of the Pennine way through cow trodden fields. I took my fairies and demons with me. Then main obstacles now the weather had tamed a little were gates and stiles……..or lack of them. I just couldn’t find them in the dark especially when flurries of snow blocked the view. I seemed constantly to be climbing fences and walls which I assure you at this stage of the race is not good. I’m making my way to Malham. Another beautiful part of the country. On a different day!!

I nearly missed the crew here as they were on the pub car park off the PW luckily dale spotted me. It was an important stop because I wanted to layer up for fountains fell and Pen-y-Ghent . I knew It would be rough. Frank doused me with pills and changed the batteries. They also changed my socks which was eventful because my feet were covered in cowshit. My team had played a blinder. They are being sleep deprived too. They also have to deal with a grumpy Janson now.

I make my way to Malham tarn through another snow storm which made the journey over the limestone ankle snap traps even more interesting….not.

I got to checkpoint 1.5. It was lovely and warm in here and despite just being fed and watered I excepted a cup of coffee off the very welcoming race official. Accompanied by his collie. He informed me Ed was just in and looked good… What’s changed there then from my teams report. I felt terrible. I bid him farewell and made my way into a full winter land now. It was white over but I could follow Eds footsteps through the snow. I broke into a steady trot and slipped catching my already bruised knee that I’d done a week earlier. Damn, I could feel it swelling. It was never going to stop me but would definitely slow me on this mountain section.

When I eventually got to pen y Ghent off fountains fell I’d changed to speed marching which was still quite painful but different. The crew were on the road and told me I was 4km behind Ed and about 10km in front of the next man. I jumped out and made my way up PYG. Mountain rescue were there and told me not to go over the top and diverted me another way. I hadn’t the energy to argue. This would be the new race route. The wind was hurricane force across the tops again. Down into Horton where the crew were at the cafe. This would be the last time I saw them before hawes so I had a feed and layered up.

I was now run/walking slowly but it slowed even more as my knee was really stiff. It was practically a death march. On reaching the top of cam fell, a horrible climb with 100 miles in your legs, the weather that opened the race had returned for my finish. In fact is was worse. I couldn’t stay on my feet, the wind just kept coming and coming. I now fell and twisted my other knee, this was a fcuking joke. Give me a chance I screamed. It was saving private Ryan again. This time the closing scene. I’m firing pot shots with a pistol at a tank!! That tank knocked me off my feet, threw me into a ditch and when I got up my waterproofs were around my ankles. Wtf!! This is Satan having a laugh I thought. On my descent I’m slipping time and time again. I’ve got my granny spikes in my pack. Why don’t you put then on my angel says….because you cannot be bothered says the demon. I went with the demon unfortunately. Anyway, I could see Hawes. This was soon to be over. What a relief to get into town. Could I find the checkpoint and finish, no!! I even went into the creamery and asked a man who was covered head to foot in health and safety food hygiene gear. No wonder he looked blank. Here was a bloke covered in cowshit amongst stuff standing in an immaculate food prep area. Anyway I saw lisa waving at the bottom of the street. It was done. Relief and elation.

I was welcomed and cheered in. After all this I just realised I’d finished 2nd in this race. Ed was there and looked like he’d been out for a 5k jog. He opened up nearly a two hour gap on me in that last section. Amazing and well done to him.

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I want to thank my team. My wife Lisa, Dale Colclough and Frank Murphy. They were brilliant and it helped me immensely. Thank you to Scott Gilmour and the spine team and volunteers and also to Montane for making this happen. They are still out there now on the full foot race. The weather is not relenting either so hats off to them.

So a few weeks rest before I resume training again with L100 my main goal. I always say a 100 mile race is not in your muscles, it’s in your bones. You need to rest……..don’t mind if I do…….I’ll just sit here for a few days with my Hobbit feet as Marcus calls the post 100 mile spoils

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Spine Challenger Training

Just in case you’d missed my long laborious posts I thought I’d update you on my training for the Spine Challenge race in January.

The Montane Spine Challenger is a 108 mile, non-stop, 60 hour, winter mountain marathon between Edale and Hawes. This challenging and extremely technical section of the Pennine Way is not just the baby brother to the Spine Race – it is a physically and psychologically demanding route that demands concentration and respect.

The Montane Spine Challenger is an extremely difficult event. From appearances 60 hours looks like ample time to complete this course; however, appearances can be deceptive. The rugged and very technical nature of this race is mentally taxing as you have to constantly be aware of foot placement. Coupled with the limited daylight hours, and the necessity to run in the dark, you can start to build a very clear picture of the race.

In 2014 armed with a greater knowledge we would see a much higher number of finishers within the 60h limit in extremely tough conditions, with extreme boggy sections, mud, snow, hail, cutting winds and poor visibility commonplace.

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I was interested at first in doing the full spine but thought 1. It would take too much out of me for my other plans in the year. 2. It predominantly becomes a walking race after a day or so which I didn’t fancy. 3. I hadn’t got enough holidays left at work . 4. It’s £475 entry :/

At the high peak 40 I got talking to course record holder Marcus Scotney about the event and he told me about his training plan. 12 weeks without any interruptions with races. I had the same sort of thing in mind myself and that confirmed it. After I had done the 3×3000 on October 4th I was taking a week off then no more races. I myself would embark on a similar plan. Well on timescales anyway, I’m not sure what Marcus is doing in his training.

So, at the Langdale horseshoe race the week after ;)….. These don’t count….. When I mean no more races I mean no more ultras :))) I smashed my knee on the descent of pike o’blisco and thought it was curtains. My first week training was sluggish but I got through it ok. My plan is to start around base 65 miles a week then increase 10% weeky upto a hundred miles a week then hold that for four weeks with maybe a reduced week in between to let the body repair then reduce into taper. The training would involve a mixture of long mountain runs, Pennine way runs, back to backs, long road runs as the pounding will help to mimick PW slabs and plenty of trail runs with elevation. Also some speedwork, reps, tempos, hill repeats, fartleks… I would never reach 100% in speedwork because I don’t have to and that’s where most injuries occur. I will also cross train with regular strength training, biking for recovery and two foam roller sessions per week.

I will list my weekly volume and try to keep it brief.

Oct 13th-19th volume 65 miles ran 27 miles biked. 7500ft
Monday – bleep test for ultra nutrition study, then 5 miles in full spine kit.
Tuesday – Trail 11 miles, strength train
Weds – 4 miles AM, 8 miles PM
Thurs – 7 miles with load AM, 7 miles PM with load
Friday – 7 miles with load AM, 4 miles PM
Sat – Trail 13 miles
Sun – bike 27 miles, strength train

Oct 20th – 26th Volume 72 miles. 9500ft
Monday – 5 miles trail
Tuesday – 27 miles peaks skyrace route.
Weds – rest
Thurs – 15 miles road with fartleks.
Friday – 10.5 miles trail
Sat – 7.5 miles road with fartleks
Sunday – 7.5 trail. Strength train

Oct 27th – Nov 2nd volume : 80 miles. 11000ft

Monday – 7.5 miles with 25 minute tempo
Tues – 4.5 miles trail
Weds – 29 mile trail. Pennine way. Kinder scout to torside resovoir and back
Thurs – 24 mile trail. Pennine way. Torside to standedge.
Friday – rest strength (core and legs)
Saturday 10 mile road
Sunday 6 mile trail. Strength train.

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Nov 3rd – Nov 9th volume : 90 miles 12000ft

Monday – 11.2 miles Trail
Tuesday – 7 mile road with efforts.
Weds – 16 mile trail. Kinder scout, Mam Tor, rushup
Thurs – 30 mile trail. Pennine Way. Bruns clough – Hebden and back.
Fri – 11 miles road – slow maintaining HR @ 120
Sat – 6.2 mile trail, (strength upper body).
Sun – 8.5 mile with effort uphill

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Nov 10th – 16th volume : 100 miles 21000ft

Monday – 11 miles Road steady 135 bpm
Tuesday 7 mile speedwork on road 3 x 6 mins @ 5:45 & warm up/cool down (strength upper body)
Weds – 13.5 mile slow trail hills 125bpm (strength core )
Thurs – 8 mile road with 3 mile threshold tempo
Fri – 3 mile jog
Sat – 58 mile trail with 17000ft of ascent. Ultra nutrition study
Sun rest, walk

The ultra nutrition study was run my Joseph Anthony hill. We were tested for lactate, glucose and fatigue after every lap. Each lap was 12km taking in 2000ft causey pike. Skin folds also tested. There were 3 control groups one on gels, gels and bars and real food. I was in ral food which probably explains why I went further and longer. General concensus is that after 10 hours most reject refined carbs. Still awaiting results.

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Nov 17th – 23rd volume: 103 miles 14000 ft ascent

Monday – 5 mile recovery jog
Tuesday – 10 mile road, upper body strength.
Wednesday- 10 mile road 3 x 6 mins @ 6 minute miles
Thursday – Rest, walk and strength training upper and core
Friday – trail, 32.5 miles. Pennine way. Hebden Bridge – cowley and back (sleep deprived, 30 hours awake time)
Saturday trail. 5 trigs Peak District with the wife. 20.5 miles
Sunday 17 miles road 125 bpm AM…. 7 mile headtorch wood trail PM

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This week will be an adaption week reducing run volume by 30%. Then most trail runs will be done with full spine kit for further adaption.

Nov 24th – 30th volume: 63 miles 7500ft ascent.

Monday – rest walk strength
Tuesday – road steady 10 mile 130 bpm
Wednesday – progression/ regression run 7.5 mile
Thursday – steady trail 7 mile
Friday – 4 mile jog (HR very high so binned it)
Saturday – Pennine way 23 mile ( Cowling- gargrave – Cowling)
Sunday – trail 11 miles headtorch through narly woods

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Dec 1st- 7th volume 90 miles 8000ft ascent

Monday – gritstone trail 19 mile 3000 ft
Tuesday – rest walk strength session
Wednesday- 7 mile with 4kg pack road Am – 8 mile 2kg pack road pm
Thursday – 7 mile with 4kg pack road Am – 7 mile 2kg pack with efforts pm
Friday – 7 mile with 4kg pack road Am – 10.5 mile 2kg pack road pm
Saturday 8.5 mile canal with 5kg pack
Sunday 16 mile trail with 1kg pack.

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Dec 8th – 14th volume 100 miles 12000ft of Ascent.

Monday – 21.5 mile trail white peak 5000ft 5kg
Tuesday – 19 mile trail dark peak 4500 ft 4.5kg
Wednesday – 7 mile road 4kg pack AM 7 mile road back pm 2kg
Thursday 7 mile run fasted 3.5kg AM 7 mile still fasted pm 2kg
Friday – 7 miles 3kg AM …10.5 miles road pm 2kg
Saturday – 10.5 miles trail 4am in morning. 4 miles icey jog with dog strength session PM
Sunday. 7 miles road 2.5kg new bag training 7 miles road 1.5kg with efforts.

Winter finally arrives and I managed to get out in some tough conditions. The dark peak particularly turned bad later in the day on the north side of kinder

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Dec 15th -21st volume 80 mile 9000ft. Reducing to taper now

Monday – rest, walk strength train
Tuesday – 20 miles trail Pennine way..Gargrave – malham tarn – Gargrave.

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Wednesday – woodland trail 6 mile am 7 mile headtorch trail pm
Thursday – 7 mile road am 3kg bag . 7 mile road pm 2kg bag
Friday – strength session AM. 10 mile headtorch hilly trail 1200ft
Saturday 11 mile headtorch hills 1500ft
Sunday – strength session AM 11 mile headtorch trail 1800ft

Dec 22nd – 28th volume 51 mile 6500 ft Ascent

Monday rest – walk, upper strength
Tuesday -10 mile headtorch trail
Wednesday -11 headtorch trail hill reps
Thursday -7 mile road run PM
Friday – 6 mile trail in full spine gear… Two climbs of shutlingsloe.
Saturday 6 mile Road
Sunday – strength session upper AM 11 mile headtorch full gear trail run.

Dec 29th – jan 4th volume 30 miles ascent 4000ft

Monday – total rest.
Tuesday – AM full strength session 5 mile trail full pack PM
Wednesday – trail run full pack roaches. 10 mile

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Thursday – rest, 3 mile walk……..hangover 😉
Friday – 30 mins stationary bike, 30 mins crossfit, 50 mins jog trail 5 miles
Saturday – 5 mile trail run with pack.
Sunday 5 mile jog.

Jan 4th to the race

I didn’t run in the week up to the race. I was nursing a sore knee which I fell on at the roaches so stuck to the turbo trainer and strength in the upper body. I never do much in the last week of training before an A race anyway. Usually jog with the dog and maybe a few intervals early in the week but the spine doesn’t require this.

Here is a list of the kit I would be carrying. It tipped the scales at 3.25kg

Gas 150g
Mat 40g
Rab neutrino endurance 680g
Rucksack terra nova laser 20L 300g
Terra nova moonlite bivi 200g
Alpkit stove 45g
Alpkit titanium mug 80g
Multi knife 21g
Fork 3g
Granny spikes 110g
Phone 70g
Montane slipstream 70g
Salomon gilet 100g
Baselayers 280g
Waterproof bottoms 160g
Montane prism gloves 65g
Raidlight waterproof mitts 20g
Raidlight neck gaiter 35g
Silva headlamp 125g
Maps 75g
Goggles 50g
Raidlight waterproof 240g depending on weather forecast could be montane minimus smock
Food mandatory 2 days supply pemmican 400g
Water and vitargo s2 500g
Extra water carrying capacity 30g

A few other bits and bobs depending on weather.. If ice and snow forecast I would change granny spikes to yaktrax pro etc

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The Langdale Horseshoe

Back to the lakes at the weekend for a spot of fell racing. A change is as good as a rest as they say. A little shorter than my normal endeavours but in fell racing terms it’s quite a long race. It is well established in the fell running circles and is always a 400 strong sellout. It is organised by my fell running club Ambleside AC with Roger Bell as director.

It’s 21.1 km long with around 4800ft of ascent.

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We travelled up early Saturday morning as Lisa was on marshalling duties for the club so we needed to get there a bit earlier than normal. Weather was not too bad but we had had lots of rain recently so I knew it was going to be tough up top.

Lots of familiar faces on arrival BG stalwarts Chris Webb, Martyn price with Helen,Trentham runner Matty Plant had turned up and was having a weekend in langdale. Most of the pics in this blog are from Matt. Nicky Spinks was having a run, Rhys Robinson who would be up front no doubt. David Bethall turns up with minutes to spare and ended up running with his shirt on inside out he was in that much of a fluster :)…..

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I noticed that runners from last weeks 3 x 3000s were on the start list but hadn’t turned up, Steve Birkenshaw, Craig Stansfield, Carol Morgan….. I don’t think I should be running this :). Hey ho tho, I didn’t feel too bad from last week and I was up for it.

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Through kit check then….yes lisa actually checked my kit Ffs. She knows what’s in my bag!! bint 😉 and to the start line. Shoulder to shoulder this and elbows in ribs job.

Away we go

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Real blood and guts start with a mile dash or so to the first climb over undulating rocky terrain.

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I got to the first climb and knew it was going to be tough for me today as my heart was pounding through my chest. Up we go.

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We pop out at the top at stickle tarn and you grab your running legs again and get going, thunacar knot the target. More climbing and underfoot is slippy and boggy. After checking in at the top it’s time to open the legs for a good bit of running. Rare on this race. Across Martcrag moor to Eskdale hause (yet again). I take a thigh high dip in a bog which wasn’t required. My calves froze instantly and my arm warmers which were rolled down just soaked up the water, it was like running with two concrete bracelets. :/. It took a while to get my muscles warmed up and running well again. At Eskdale hause CP it’s about turn and up to Bowfell which is deep in clag. I switch my watch to Nav as this looks a bit messy. There were two rescued by the brilliant MR here in the race….dig deep folks

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I can’t wait to get down off here it’s a bit nippy I bump into Nicky Spinks so know im on the right track. Next checkpoint is Crinkle crags and I’m conscious to Nav around the Bad step this time as it would be like glass…. I do this successfully but another runner takes it and pops out in front, I’ll be taking it next time. It’s quicker.

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The bad step

So some good running now over to Pike o’blisco. I’m feeling really good considering last week. I just can’t stay on my feet. My talons are coming to the end of their life and I’m now going to invest in some Mudclaws for my fell runs. I climb over blisco and gain lots of places but take a bad fall on descent cutting and smashing my knee…

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Shit that hurt. There people with worse tho…push on. The weathers improving and the descent is brutal but fun, I think!! ……Matty plant is snapping pics on the way down.

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Last checkpoint then it’s ball out to the bottom, I pass Nicky and a few more runners. I can get traction on the gravel at last. At the finish I look at my watch. I’m outside last years time which surprised me but then I thought about the conditions and it made sense. In fact, the winning time was 11 minutes slower than last years time. I was only one minute slower but 23 places higher than last year so I was happy with that. The wife checks me in 🙂 arrgghh Webby beats me by two places…. If I knew he was that close I’d have got a spurt on ;).

A cracking race and I hear that the race for 1st was a real humdinger with Rees Finlay Robinson from Dark peak and Inov8 winning by a second. Wish I could of seen that. Well done to him and my club for a fantastic event….. Even the Sun was out now 🙂 to the Pub for a guinness then.

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The race for the win…

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The 3 x 3000 Ultra

Well where do I start with this one. It was my last focused race of the year before i take a weeks rest and begin my Spine Challenger training.

The 3X3000 80k Ultra Trail will be part of the the new Skyrunning UK ‘Skyrunner® National Series’

‘The Skyrunner® National Series will bring a new race series to the UK. Made up of five races in each category (Sky and Ultra), runners will accumulate ranking points by competing in at least three out of five races over the SkyRace® and Ultra SkyMarathon® distances’.

The Lake District 3 X 3000 80k Ultra Trail is another fantastic new event for 2014. The course has been designed by 2013 IAU World Trail Running Champion and Salomon International Mountain Runner Ricky Lightfoot.

I travelled up in the camper on Friday. We had to register and do the kit checks on Friday due to the early start.

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Forest Bethall was there huddled under the Raidlight tent. The weather had turned. All the good weather we had had and it decided to bite this weekend. After I registered I pulled up a pew while forest made tea and ran around re-standing flags 🙂 I watched people come and go and we discussed the raidlight brand with runners and there was plenty of stuff on display. In fact we did quite well for foot traffic, the poor Costa coffee van and massage therapist never got a visit while I was watching.

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The weather had put pay to anybody hanging around. I waited for Mark ‘ode’ cornes to arrive to say hello before retiring to bed at nine. Friday nights aye!!! I have my usual battle with the sleep demons as I’ve come off nights, asleep,awake,asleep, awake…… I am sure that once I go on days I will be 10-20% a better runner. It will certainly help my training. I actually did quite well bagging about 4 hours. Nobody else would get much more than that with a 5am race start. I had the added advantage of being parked in the van 50 yards from the start!! Be quiet while arriving please!! I decided to jump out of bed at 3:30, the coffee just kept shouting…. I’d gone without for 24 hours to see if I slept better, debatable. The weather was biblical. I’d had Ear plugs in through the night and thought the rain was heavy. When I took them out it was F****** heavy….No sign of cornsey, he was supposed to be knocking on the van at 4am. Good job I’d set my alarm 🙂 Right lets do this!!

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I made my way to the start and wandered up and down looking for folk but everybody looked the same amongst the 200+ folk huddling for shelter in waterproofs. The race was a 300 entrant sellout but the weather took away a third of the lightweights!! Ricky lightfoot was on the list and didn’t race 😉 just kidding.

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So we toed the startline after the briefing. The course had been slightly shortened by 2.5 mile and 200 metres of ascent. Instead of summiting Scafell pike we’d turn left at the stretcher box to Esk hause.. The starter counted down and t was quite surreal, my head was foggy, probably the constant pounding of wind and rain.

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We were away and around derwent water on the east side of the lake, it wasn’t long before it seemed that most of the lake had come up to say hello. The trails were flooded, the paths were just streaming torrents which hid dangerous little traps to catch out the runners.

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I took a tumble withing the first five minutes while changing direction on a wooden footbridge. The first of many. It was relentless, the rain just kept on coming and the rock was like glass.

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The inov8 290 were doing better than expected on the rock but I still wasn’t 100% confident as it had been dry all the time I’d had them and they were untested. I upped the pace a little, I’d drifted to around 30th as I do but felt fresh and Light on my feet for once. Probably a mistake because I caught a tree root and face planted straight into the beck, full submerge :). I did it again shortly after. Pick your feet up lad. Finally I got to seathwaite and the weather seemed to be calming a little…. It was only s*it now. Made up a few places on the climb to styhead, now probably top 20 but I wasn’t going to worry about that yet. This journey had just begun and it was about survival at the moment. On the climb to Esk hause I stripped off, I was actually hot. Ant give me a tip to buy a larger waterproof and wear it over my rucksack. He is right, the amount of faffing I did with my jacket in this race was immense and must have cost time.

I approached Angle tarn where I had wild camped on the race recce….. It looked a whole lot different now. I could clearly See the water source inlets now!! I couldn’t find them 3 weeks ago. I was not looking forward to the next bit, the ascent of high raise and the descent to wythburn. It’s wet there when it’s dry! I decided to refuel now on the ascent with Ucan and water out of the cascading beck, wish I’d gone with Cranberry raspberry. The plain tasted like wallpaper paste today. Still, it did the job. I wanted a slash and you know what, I just did while I was moving down my leg. I had tiny shorts on and was getting a continual shower…..bloody hell it was nice and warm….I did it again a few times and quite looked forward to it. These Ultras do strange things to you. 😮

On descent I must have fell 5 times. These shoes were not meant for grassy muddy downs but I weighed up the course and 95% of it was rocky trail.

Eventually I made it to wythburn car park checkpoint and feed station at the bottom of helvellyn. I stuffed my face and refilled bottles then I pulled out the running poles, let’s try these babies. Up we go then and it was quite nice to change muscles. I still felt quite good and could see 3 or 4 runners in front. Right you are in the top 20 i had been informed, I wanted five places on this section I had in my head. I passed Ian Corless snapping photos for the event on the way up..

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It was cold up here, as it was on my BGR leg. I’d donned waterproof again. I caught two runners at the top and Ed came with me across the tops the other fella didn’t.

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Pretty mundane now as there was nothing to see after helvellyn summit which I did in 45 mins. I reckon I can get this down to 35 minutes on a shorter day. Hill reps spring to mind. We were catching a group of 4 in front. I was that engrossed in following them I didn’t check my watch. They had veered off course to watsons Dodd which wasn’t required. On Bob graham yes, here no!! I could kick myself. Anyway we ran together now until practically Latrigg checkpoint apart from the descent of clough head which again inov8 290s are not the tool.

One of the runners was Craig Stansfield who I’d met the night before. Another Avid BGR fan. We took in the dreaded old flat rail track. We both said we were feeling it now. As soon as I started climbing though I was fine. When we got to the feed station at Latrigg one runner made a break but I knew what was coming and didn’t rush. I downed some coke and plodded off on the Cumbria way….climbing and climbing slowly but climbing. It’s Tough going now. I caught and passed the fella and couldn’t see anybody else. Just long meandering trail to the back of skiddaw and the final leg destroying climb of bakestall and onto skidders!! When I got to the bottom of bakestall my FB friend Louise Cardell was marshalling and she was full of beans. A hug, told me I was 11th and get my arse up there…..and boy it was a long way up there. I could see a runner in front….a long way in front but at least a target. I put the poles in action. Four wheel drive is better than two.

Slowly, very slowly I was catching the bloke in front, I got to the top of bakestall and turned left, the false summits upto skiddaw are in front, more climbing. I could also see runners behind chasing me. On the top of skiddaw and Ian Corless is busy again 🙂

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I’m hurting now and not looking forward to the descent to keswick I just don’t have the quads

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I begin to regret doing the high peak 40 but then I again I had an alright result and I’m doing ok here so get on with it I thought…..my quads are in bits on the way down but I’m still catching the runner who seems to be waiting for me :/.

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I catch him just before the final checkpoint. He is a french guy, he asks me how far to the finish. I tell him 5k. Great I’m 10th then. I Dib in at the checkpoint and drink a cup of coke. I spot another runner in front. I plod after him, next minute the French guy comes past me like I’m stood still!!! WTF. He was on his arse just. Has he just dropped some whizz ;). He’d obviously preserved his energy while I was expending mine catching him. Nice tactic. I caught the other runner though so one in one out. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been watching behind and little Ed had flew down skiddaw and caught me on Latrigg slopes. A good descender beats a good climber any day of the week!! I couldn’t stay with him. I just made sure nobody else was coming. The marshals were out in force now around the town. Directing us through the hoards of shoppers who were looking at us like we were mental. Well actually they are probably right as I sit here rubbing my legs with comfrey oil. So to the finish. What a sight for sore eyes and a bit of a crowd too which is always nice. 11th place but for some reason the results show 12th now. I’m not complaining though. What an excellent well run event. It just needed the weather. That would have turned the weekend into a true carnival event. Well done Skyrunning and High Terrain events.

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A lil pic of Mark ode cornes here the louise snapped

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Photos taken from high terrain website by Ian Corless.

The High Peak 40

The High Peak 40 Mile Challenge was initiated in 1986 by a Buxton company called Otter Controls Ltd as a one-off event to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary. It proved so popular that it lives on today and is one of the most well known Ultra Marathon on the calendar. It is part of the Runfurther Uk ultra championships.

This is a very fast paced ultra considering it’s elevation. This is due to a few long road sections and most of the off road hill being very runnable. It would pull me out of my long slow plod comfort zone but I was after a workout even though I didn’t want to kill myself on it. My plan was to run everything at the same intensity.

Before the Start we bumped into Tony Audenshaw (bob off Emmerdale or more known to me for “Tony’s Trials” on Marathon talk podcast). Smashing bloke and we had a brief chat about each other’s exploits.

Also here were a lot of friends from Trentham running club and other local clubs. It seems everybody had targeted this race for either improvement on long stuff or even to debut on the ultra scene. We had my wife running only her second ultra, she did this last year. Matthew Plant, improving all the time, Andrew Vickerman debuting. Then a few seasoned Ultra runners and friends, Roger Taylor, Simon Webb, Mark Ode Cornes, Frank Murphy, Gregg Boughy and Ray Wilson having another bash at the long stuff. Carol Morgan a fellow BG compatriot was here but not racing she was pacing another lady.

So to the start then, O dear Marcus Scotney running. Theres the winner then I think to myself :). A 2:20 marathoner will murder this course. I can’t see Duncan Harris though who usually wins this race.

Off we go then, I let the speedsters shoot off and drop back into my rhythm in around twentieth place going up the road. This suited me just fine, I wanted to get to the first climb and stile before the backlog so kept this in mind. It’s a steady uphill after the start and I reach the stile to the moorland before the crowd. A bit of messy downhill work to come, Roger Taylor comes bounding past me, I’ll save my quads for later. We reach the converted railway line and settle into a steady 7:30ish pace. There’s me, Roger, Mark Cornes and Simon all plodding along together. The next five miles are pretty flat and good running if you want it. A bloke with a tu tu on runs past me Ffs. What’s that all about….then a lady!!! ;). Keep your pace and race plan janson!

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Past the reservoir and the dam and still flat uninteresting running and I’m just toddling along at 8 min miles. We then reach the climb to the road and another climb after. At last. I take out about five runners in seconds and pick off a few more in the climb in the field. Mark, simon and roger are running with me. Mark takes a wrong turn and I shout him back. We are into some pretty good climbing territory now. I keep opening up and the lads come back at me on the flat. It was cool to be running together though. I had no intention of racing until I guaged how I felt at cavedale.

We reach the checkpoint before the lovely trail leading to lords seat onto rushup edge, regular training area for myself. It’s here that me and roger pull away from the rest. Roger is walking the ups and flying down the descents. I just keep my steady pace and keep my stride close and light whether it’s up down or flat. Until we reach Mam Tor that is. I drop my Ucan and a caffeine pill. I cannot resist to let go and pull the trigger. Weeeeeee I love running off mam tor. I get to Hollins cross and catch Roger I take my foot off the gas a little as it’s like glass on the rocks. This time last week I was skipping down it. We hit the road and I feel great. Maybe it’s the caffeine. On reaching the checkpoint and I tell the Marshall I’ve warmed up now. He laughs and says that’s good then. Seriously though I had. :). It’s up to cavedale now and I’m looking forward to it, myself and roger are level and pass Trentham runner Emily Smith who’s here to support Matt and the rest and take a few pics. Most on this blog are her pics :). We enter cavedale and I walk for 100 metres or so then I decide I’m going to jog it and toddle off from Roger.. I say see you on the road no doubt. This is a serious climb now up cavedale and across Bradwell moor but I’m running it even if a little slow. I pass another runner and can see another yonder. I’m in race mode now.

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You can see me and Roger in the pic above if u look close.

I get to the track and it’s now a gradual decent to the road to tideswell……fcuk it, let’s throw the hammer down a bit and burn some of that energy i’m packing. slowly catching the man in front. I chuck down a few sub 7 min miles but unfortunately so does he. Hmmmm, I’ll keep the distance and wait for more climbs. I’d clocked him walking a few earlier. Through the Checkpoint and then its down to Litton Mill where I knew I and a few goodies waiting 😉

They were at Sue Jeffs. Becoming a regular pitstop on my runs now :). I had coke and jam sandwiches waiting. When I got there she was outside taking piccies. Luckily for me she had a client cancel (soft tissue therapist)

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Also sneaking in some advertising for their clubs local fell race lol…

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I downed my goodies and now I knew I had enough energy to get me to the dreaded road section to Chelmorton. The runner I passed on cavedale was right behind me. I hit the monsal trail and upped the pace and opened up a little again until the next checkpoint where I just clipped and went, I didn’t need refuelling. Bloody hell, another runner in front. A different one that I’d been chasing. I must be working through the field here. I catch him on the up out of deepdale 1. He says he’s slowly going backwards. I know that feeling…..but not today. I can also see the runner I’ve been chasing for the last hour. I’m getting closer. He clips at the checkpoint and I reach him, I clip and take time to drink as I’ve no fluid left and I’m just calculating what checkpoints are remaining and whether to refill my bottle. I decide not to. Now the 5 mile or so road section. This bit is painstaking. You can almost see the 5 mile you are running and it rises…..and rises. The runner is about 150 metres in front and I’m not closing. Our leg speed is identical on the road again. It was exactly the same through tideswell. I decide to leave it a bit. This race has a sting in it’s tail and I know I have strength in my legs if not the speed. He gets company. His Mrs I think, feeding and watering him. She runs a little then goes back to her car. We eventually reach the turn through chelmorton and I still ain’t gaining or losing. We run through the farm and his support is there again giving him a drink. She runs back my way and offers me some….nice tactic but I’m trying to catch your fella I think to myself:)….thankyou all the same.

My web is almost set in the shape of deepdale 2…… The ravine of death :). I’m over the stile and it is an aggressive decent. I’m on his heels when we hit the bottom of the ravine and then he steps aside on the climb to let me past. I run upto the next checkpoint and I’m sure I’ve just caught site of another runner!! :). I clip and don’t ask, I want it to be a surprise in the field when I turn. Sure enough, I get there and I see him. We have about 2 mile to go. There are a few gradual climbs left and I think he’s struggling. I’ll just keep trotting out 8:30s-9s and creep up.

I catch him on the climb. When we get through the field to the paddock he’s coming back at me. Now it’s a race, I’m all in. We are flying down the decent to the viaduct then we hit the road and we are shoulder to shoulder…..I have a friend though. Harpur hill… I keep the pace uphill and he let’s out a groan or a shout, dunno what he said but I’m away. I cross the road and onto the final straight across the playing fields then turn into the school, TFFT… It’s done. I’m amazed to be told I got fourth place. I’d set out for top 10 here as it’s a very fast course for me but I’ll take it. Marcus Scotney finished 50 mins in front… :/. He missed the course record by 35 seconds. Wow. Untouchable at this distance. On chatting with him he informs me he will be racing Spine Challenger again. He is the course record holder there. I hope to give him a race over 108 miles but who knows. I’m still a novice really.

I go to get changed and take advantage of the free hospitality. Then I go back to the finish to watch the rest come in. I think Mark Cornes was the next home out of our local gang then Simon Webb, then Roger Taylor with Matty plant coming in just behind. Great run again. I think Andy vickerman was next, a great debut for him too.

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He’s just in front of the Mrs who’s only on her second Ultra, she’s bagged 3rd lady….woo hoo.

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Tony Audenshaw comes in just behind. They’d ran together for 20 miles of it. Along with gingerbread man..(for Marathon talkers). Then Frank and Greg.

Another good day out in the peaks. I learned a bit from this race. I’m learning all the time but more importantly I think I’ve nailed my race nutrition. It’s Ucan in zip lock bags which I tip water into and bite a hole in and then supplement it with what’s on checkpoints. Normally fruit will do. I still always crave coke for some reason.

Onto the presentation where I picked up 2nd vet40 as well as 4th place and a t-shirt. The Mrs got 2nd v40 too as well as third lady. A nice haul for the Heaths 🙂

Shoes inov8 race ultra

Waist pack salomon

Food generation Ucan supplemented with checkpoint food and some mixed with BCAA. Caffeine pills and omega 3 fish capsules.

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