Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From the Sharp End

It’s always nice to spend a day out with friends. My Joss Naylor Traverse run last Saturday was that and much, much more -- a day of supreme challenge aided and abetted by a team of fully committed helpers whose enthusiasm was heart warming

As a journey it began at Pooley Bridge 10 years ago, inspired by JtE’s own successful run, and ended at the third attempt at Greendale Bridge on a wonderful sunny late spring Lakeland evening.

And so it was that a small group stood on the Bridge of Pooley at three o’clock on a breezy, cool morning. There was unfinished business to be done. We had driven up in good, though somewhat sleep deprived spirits, ready to take on the world, or at least the Lake District.

The scheduled start time came and went, delayed by misplaced spectacles and then by a missing camera (guess who). By five minutes past we were all ready, synchronised watches and with a wave to Julie, who was to take Ed’s car to Dunmail, it was off into the darkness. As we built up a bit of time in hand over the first few summits, things began to look good.

The breeze that had been no problem at Pooley Bridge had strengthened as we climbed and began to chill. By Red Crag mist was beginning to roll in and hindered navigation for a while and was with us as far as Thornthwaite Beacon. From here we decided on the grassy descent to the right of the wall, not wanting to repeat the experience of the previous attempt when a fall on the drop down the stony tourist route from the beacon was later to end the attempt at Rossett with an injured hip.

By Kirkstone we were exhilarated by the pale morning sunlight but the margin of improvement over the schedule was starting to dwindle and Ray and Edward were beginning to feel the effects of the climbs.

Fortified at Kirkstone by Julie’s excellent refuelling we set off up Red Screes, only to find at the top we had lost several minutes to the schedule. Never mind, there was still a long way to go and every opportunity to make up time. At least that was the plan. As we toiled slowly up to Dove Crag Ed suggested that I pressed on without him and Ray, an idea that at first I rejected. Several minutes of slow progress later it was obvious from the pace that I was going to lose a lot of time and I agreed to go it alone over Hart Crag, Fairfield and Seat Sandal to Dunmail Raise.

Once again the pace was upped and with a good line to the Dunmail descent, thanks to the recce two weeks earlier with Ian and Pauline, I felt there was chance of getting back on target. Once again, Julie’s excellent attention was fortifying and with the new team of Ian and Rachel on board we were off up the steep climb. As I looked back across to Seat Sandal, hoping to catch sight of Ed and Ray all I could see was an empty fell side. I hoped they were alright.

The first signs of tiredness were now beginning to show themselves and a couple a short pauses were needed to get me to the top. Rachel, who was working like a seasoned support runner, denied any previous experience so was obviously well briefed in her duties by Ian. Ian’s navigation was faultless as we made our way across the increasingly warm upland via High Raise and Rossett to begin the climb up the steep side of Bowfell. By now the Lake District was beginning to fill up with walkers and there was a steady procession making its way up the Ghyll to Angle Tarn. We soon lost sight of them as we climbed, pausing a couple of times or more for me to catch my breath and admire the view down the valley towards the Langdales. In that sunlight the Lakes can never have looked better.

And then it was onwards and upwards to the Bowfell summit where the strength of the wind was starting to be a problem, affecting balance on the many small boulder fields that make up the summits in that part of the Lakes. From there across to Great End we encountered many more walkers and a team reccying for a Bob Graham.

During the weeks and months leading up the this attempt I had wondered whether we would encounter any other teams attempting the “Joss” as it was bank holiday weekend and only four weeks before the longest day.

After a good grassy run round the back of Great End we got down to Sty head having lost only a short time on the section and in total only nine minutes to schedule since Dunmail - a tribute to the efficiency of the support team. A coupe of times on that leg cramp had threatened progress and I was worried that if it got any worse it might jeopardise the whole outcome. The last occurrence was on the run down from Great End but was fettled by stretching advice from Rachel and more salted peanuts from Ian. It never recurred from there until the end of the run.

At Sty Head there was the welcoming sight of the new team and also a first meeting with Monica Shone, administrator of the challenge, and her husband. Monica disclosed that I was the first person to attempt the traverse this year.

At this point Rachel was stepping down to make her way gamely back to Dunmail Raise, her task done and very much appreciated. Well, she did say she wanted a long day out!

Ian was continuing, also wanting a long day out and Pauline and Eden were taking over from Rachel. It was a long, slow climb up Gable and I was beginning to realise that the slow start had been a blessing in disguise. Too fast early on and the difficulty with the later hills would probably have set in sooner. The descent and the next climb to Kirk Fell passed without a problem and the tourist route down to Black Sail, never easy, was slow but without incident.

Welcome additions to the support at this point were Sally, John C., Julie (now without kettle and gas stove) and the man himself, Joss. I think most of us felt the honour of his presence and his local knowledge in the later stages, both for route and water finding was much appreciated. He was frequently recognised on the fells and I was happy to bathe, albeit temporarily, in his reflected glory. Everyone was most tolerant of my slow progress on the climbs and the encouragement of all kept me going through the bad moments, particularly the climbs up Haycock and Seatallan.

The last three summits had come into view as we topped Scoat. I was dreading Seatallan as I have never found it easy even when fresh. Once again the encouragements got me through, or rather up. And then it was just Middle Fell with the obligatory photographs at the summit, including a handshake from Joss.

His route down to Greendale Bridge was simplicity itself - straight down and cut the corners making the most of the soft running through the emerging bracken. The support team, again working impeccably, allowed me to go first on to the bridge in 17 hours 26 minutes, looking more of a runner than I felt, to be greeted by Ed, Ray and Mary. At last, after 10 years it was file closed, business completed, thanks to the encouragement and support of you all through the long training runs and especially on the day itself.

It was a day that I will long remember and cherish. Whatever can I do next?


PS ~ Thanks to all who took photos. I have seen the excellent ones on the blog and look forward to seeing the rest.

PPS On a lighter note a tale you may have missed during the climb up Seatallan was Joss’s account of running up Seatallan 123 times in recent years. “Did you have any rests?” I enquired thinking he must have spread it out over summer months. “I stopped once or twice,” he replied. “The first 23 dragged a bit, then they just flew by.” I hope he wasn’t late for his tea.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And in the Beginning...

Just spare a thought for those four brave souls who rolled into action at just past three in the morning.
Photo by TF
A message from one of the first JN completers ~ Well done John on completing your JNC. For me, this is fell running at its best. Thanks for the opportunity to be with you.

John (tE).
Message from t'Yorkshireman ~ Ed, Can you add my congratulations to John for his excellent Joss round. No doubt you will provide full details but as completions are not exactly common, it's noteworthy.

He can now taper down and get back to beating me in the short races.

Well done John on completing your JNT. It was a real privilege to be part of the support team and certainly made my first visit to Wasdale a memorable one.


Monday, May 26, 2008

John's Joss

Thanks John for a great day out on the fells supporting you in your achievement of the Joss Naylor Challenge. I'm sure we're all awaiting your account with eager anticipation. Just a few reminders of the day's events in photo form, with thanks to FSS for carrying a camera along with everything else on the last two legs!

Arriving at Dunmail - minus support crew!

The end in sight on Middle Fell

Final summit ticked and congratulations from the man himself - local navigation appreciated!

One for the family album with son Eden, daughter Sally and loyal supporter and JNC completer John Coope

The motley crew of supporters on Greendale Bridge

Congratulations John - Job Done!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dyeing for It?

'asta sin t'Yorkshireman's barnet in t'Jubilee picture on Nobby's blog on t'internet?

Goyts Moss Fell Race 7m/1400ft

Half an hour into this one I decided that it was a lot of hard work to get a bit more 'posting practice'. For those not familiar with the Goyt Valley (Derbyshire), Goyts Moss is at the south end or to orientate our less tee-total members, the bit of fell at the back of the Cat & Fiddle Pub. The very dry conditions saved the inov-8's from another wash this week. Wetter conditions would make this a seriously testing but none the less enjoyable evening race, but might have meant I wouldn't have been back before it got dark. As it was, I set off back along the A537 with a clear view of the bikers practising their 'pursuits', each to their own!
Jubilee etc

Well I was on the last minute, but would have made the start if I could have remembered where it has been for the last two (three?) years. Unfortunately, I jogged over the green at Rivington, through the kissing gate, across the field, over the stream, along the side of the steam, turned left, only to find no-one there. I then heard the klaxon (so I would have been on time) as I ran along the lane and over the causeway. Started to pass some elderly (although elderly, they had obviously remembered where the start was) Darwen Dashers after the start of the second lap.

Whilst not especially pleasurable for me, at least it gave pleasure to others by increasing the scope for catcalling by my sick, lame and lazy fan club (Sweaters etc).

On another note, judging from input from our newly authorised contributor, it looks like we'll just hand over the "Most Prolific Racer" trophy permanently to TF, rather than keep putting her name on it each week.

See y'all Saturday.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Well I’m happy to say I’ve now completed my trio of Lakeland AM fell races and feel as prepared as I possibly can for Duddon.

Buttermere Sailbeck 9.5m/4650ft

A couple of years ago I wouldn’t have considered starting a 10k in similar conditions as we had for this race. With sweltering heat and thunderous applause around the full horseshoe, I came in at 3hrs4mins. Not the slowest, but still more than twice the winning time on the day (Simon Booth, 1hr29mins). I felt I’d run at a sensible pace (I was on holiday, after all) and it was a useful recce for the next time when conditions would hopefully suit me better. I didn’t need the swim in the lake to cool off, as the heavens opened just as I crossed the finish line.

Fairfield Horseshoe 9m/3000ft

The final day of my week’s holiday in the lakes. The weather was as predicted, cooler with the cloud base below some summits, Fairfield being one of them. Ideal for full-out race effort.

Approaching the summit of Fairfield I did begin to wonder about the lack of marshals on Great Rigg, the 2nd check point on the race-map. If I’d not spotted them, they probably hadn’t spotted me. I wasn’t the only one having this revelation; a few of the others around me had the same map. Oh well, too late. I wasn’t going back to make certain, and if I got disqualified at least it was a good practice run for next year’s race.

Post race discussion with other runners (but not the officials!) confirmed no marshals on Great Rigg, but it was still reassuring to see my name on the results when they appeared two days later. I managed 2hrs22mins, the winner 80mins. Settle Harriers must have been impressed with my recent performances as I appear to have made a mid-season transfer. Can’t imagine what the fee might have been!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Brief Update

Having survived the rigours of the Mediterranean rain, I'm now back and raring to go. I won't bore you with all the holiday photos, but I'll be posting a couple to give an indication of what Corfu has to offer.

Thank you Pauline from me, and I'm sure from all the gang, for maintaining the blog, and, it would seem, eliciting more contributions than I manage to. Will bring you all on board as contributors over the next couple of weeks to overcome the comments problem.

Weds/Thurs 21st & 22nd May

Hoping to see a good turnout for the Jubilee on Wednesday.

Usual arrangements for Thursday, although JtE has tendered his apologies, presumably saving himself for Saturday.

Will probably be in touch with most of you individually during the week, as we finalise the arrangements for our first big team outing of the year.

Finally, the prize for most prolific racer over recent weeks goes, once again, to TF!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Local Climbing

Today I decided to get some climbing in. From the Lower Barn to the hillside we know as the sheepsback. Twenty reps. of this at 200 feet per climb: 4,000 feet and ten miles. This is one way of getting some useful climbing in locally.


Where there's a will there's a way!

No need to fly to Greece to get 4,000ft of climbing in - and in the rain at that!


Greetings from Barbati, Corfu

Great innit, you get up in the early hours of the morning to fly into the sun and when you get there, the English edition of the Daily Mail (at 2.50 Euros a shot) tells you that it's high twenties at home and you're lookoing out at the rain.

Anyway, it's good to see that you're all out and about and doing lots of stuff.

My plan to get up Pantokrator (906 metres) every day has been thwarted due to it being the best part of a four hour round trip, so I've only managed it twice so far, but getting part way up most days. There is a cafe at the top so I don't carry water, but on my second outing it was closed, and I had to beg water off the lone monk in the adjoing monastery. Wasn't sure whether I should offer to pay for it so I just said "God bless".

Very best wishes,

σδφςερλπφωψσδρ (Greek letters, hope it's not rude)


Sunny now, perhaps the "U" will stand for "undressed"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saturday - Kentmere Horseshoe and Beyond

Becoming a bit of a habit, it's 8.30am, it's the Lake District, it's FSS, NLN and YJ it must be another recce. This time the three of us fetched up in Kentmere, a gem of a morning, clear skies, sunshine fells as far as you can see and then some - perfect? Maybe a little warm, perhaps. We slap on the heavy duty sunscreen, load up on the liquid refreshment (that's water Ed) and set off.

Not a soul about as we make our way up and over Shipman Knotts and climb the ridge to Kentmere Pike and finally Harter Fell before turning east to drop all the way down to Haweswater and 'the lost village' of Mardale. Along the valley floor past the crowded car park and a welcome opportunity to refill water bottles before the relentless climb all the way back up to Kidsty Pike. FSS and YJ now going strong but I'm beginning to feel the effects of the heat. The plan is to drop all the way down again to Hayeswater to get another big climb in over Rampsgill Head and Gray Crag - which is what the boys do. I decide to keep the height gained and trot along High Street to the summit cairn before heading out to Thornthwaite Crag where we will reconvene. A perfect plan, except that unbelievably within ten minutes of going our separate ways, the clouds roll in, the sky darkens, the temperature drops significantly and by the time I get to Thornthwaite the rain is on. No problem except that FSS is carrying my waterproofs which it seemed so unlikely that I would need. I hunker down, put on an extra layer and a windshirt and grab something to eat. Before long we are reunited and full waterproofs are pulled on.

The rain stops as suddenly as it started and the temperature rises again - off with the waterproofs, as we clamber over Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke. Not wanting the fun to stop, FSS suggests extending our day by heading over to Sour Howes and Sallows, making a total of 10 additional Wainright summits for our third round (12 for FSS and YJ). A grand day out and YJ still had enough left in the tank to get a sprint finish in back to the church at Kentmere.

21.6 miles and 6,788 feeet of ascent (a bit less for NLN!)

YJ still having technical problems so no internet acces - passes on message - he's looking forward to running from Lower Barn Saturday 17th May, meeting at 8.30 as usual. Final Saturday run before the big one the following week, although knowing our man it won't be his last outing before his Traverse.

Mat - thought we might have heard about your mid-week adventures in Lakeland

Thursday 7th May Run

The usual run took place although without EtU (unavailable). Participants were TF, Mat, Steve (no blog name for him) and JtE. We had a sort of "climbs" round devised as we went round as we seemed unable to pre-plan the route. It turned out to be Two Lads, Winter Hill, and Noon Hill (Mat and JtE only) and that was it! There were some tired legs hence the lazy run. TF had done the Coniston Fell Race the previous weekend and Mat had been on the fells the day before with YJ. We felt conscious of the fact that we had not run over any mud as is EtU's preference and then we decided that the detour at the mast satisfied this requirement! Perhaps EtU will read this at his local internet cafe.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Tigers Todger Fell Race 6m/880ft Weds 7th May

Look what happens when you leave the women in charge! If Ed’s managed to find a cyber café, he’s probably choked on his ouzo by now. Honestly it’s legit, check your FRA Calendar.

Can’t say I did this one just out of curiosity as I’d done it in 2006. But as it turned out it was glorious weather for an open-top drive. I got an early pass out of work and left Manchester and headed out along Snake Pass to arrive at Totley, which is situated just west of Sheffield (any one jealous yet?). The race starts and finishes at Sheffield Tigers RUFC ground and probably helps to understand the origin of its moniker, because nothing else does and I decided it was best not to ask.

For the unwary the route starts as a fast downhill road section before you turn into a lovely undulating wooded trail route with an abundance of bluebells and a babbling brook. A short uphill section of tarmac broke the reverie and onto the next wooded section, a pine plantation. Directing us in was a Marshall with a tin in his hand into which every one was dipping in. Now, with my racing head on, I thought this meant we had to collect a token to hand in on the other side of the wood, they’d had a few gone astray in this section last year. My hand went in to find Jelly Babies – FANTASTIC, I got 2, and they didn’t last long! The route through the pines had been taped and brought us out onto the moor. A brief trek through the heather to circle a big stone and then start the downhill back to the finish; a rocky track to begin with (kept you focused) and then a final bit of road running.

I came in at 57:12 on my watch, a minute and half better than 2006. No results are on their website yet, but I’m sure I had a few more behind this year me as well. Winning time is usually in the region of 35mins.


Well done - TF must be our most prodigious fell racer, and blog contributer, always good to hear what you've been up to

Coniston Fell Race 9m/3500ft Sat 3rd May

The weather proved better than the forecast. Sunny, warm and a bit of a breeze – perfect conditions. Such a pity I didn’t make a ‘perfect’ decision about half a mile into the race. As we levelled out after the first steep bit of climbing the field split into two flanks. I followed the right flank up towards the quarries, reasoning that I would continue climbing rather than the left which appeared to drop down and then climb again. The race route map in my hand suggested left. I know why now, conditions underfoot were not great. From my vantage point further up the side of the fell I could see the final runner of the left flank way ahead.

On my climb up towards Wetherlam I decided to switch allegiances and join the ones on the left and follow the hints on my map. No point paying good money for something and not use it. By the summit I’d managed to catch a couple of them up. I’m sure the view would’ve been great but I was concentrating hard on trying not to kick myself for being so stupid.

From this point on I followed the map religiously. At the top of Old Man decision time again. Follow everyone else off the south side or do what I’d reccied on the previous Thursday; the safe route choice on the map. I decided to stick with what I knew, surprisingly I gained three places going this way.

At Swirl How I thought I’d be lucky to make the finish in 2hrs30mins, but as I hit the path for the final run in, the target of 2hr10mins was still on. I managed it, 2hr08mins. Winner was Ian Holmes of Bingley in 1hr11mins.

Despite my initial foreboding, I turned out to have a really good run. I also have to count myself very lucky, I went over on my ankle on the ‘tourist’ path bit coming off Old Man and narrowly avoided being flattened by the Mountain Rescue Ambulance near the finish. The ambulance was on its way to pick up another runner who hadn’t been so lucky – a broken leg after landing awkwardly. A day of the ups and downs of fell running.


Coiners Fell Race 7m/1100ft Mon 5th May

Thought I’d try this one to run off a bit of Saturday’s aches & pains. It sets off from Mytholmroyd, which is one of those places in Yorkshire that isn’t pronounced as it’s written and you get funny looks off the Locals when you try.

A low key race this one, not usually many entrants. So low key in fact that when I arrived no one seemed to know where the registration was. The juniors returned from their race and told us we had to get our numbers from the tent in the field ‘over there’, pointing vaguely up the hill. I found the tent, got my number and then went to look for the map with the route of the course to mark it on my map. Told you it was low key, it turned out I was the only one with a map! The organizer said he knew the route and had been out and placed a few flags for us to follow, ‘when you get to Stoodley Pike, you’re halfway’.

I set off slowly and arrived at the queue at the first stile to be greeted by the two women in front ‘oh, we thought we were last’. I said nothing, but at the first opportunity I made sure they were!

It was nice to try a different approach up and down from Stoodley Pike, the way back down was extremely boggy in places and just as energy sapping as all the climbing on Saturday. My two acquaintances from the first stile didn’t manage to catch me up and came in with the bloke going round collecting the flags.

I was back in 84mins (70/73), one at the front took 46mins.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Stop Press - Coniston

I'm still (v) patiently waiting for the results to appear on the Coniston web site, I need them to verify a few facts for my report, I don't run fast enough for my sticker to appear on the results board at the finish! Anyway in brief - I finished with a couple behind me, winner was Ian Holmes of Bingley in 1hr11mins.

I'll be out Thursday as usual


Look forward to all the gory details TF


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This Week's Runs

The Thursday evening run is on, usual time, usual place.

I will not be out on Saturday. I understand that NLN and YJ will be elsewhere. Any updates for posting - email NLN


Hopefully opportunity for comments will be back with our Editor in a couple of weeks time - NLN

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Fine Day on the Fells

A reasonable weather forecast, predicting showers in the afternoon, saw YJ, FSS, Dennis and me heading for Ambleside for an 8.30 getaway. The tops were clear as we approached the hills. A brisk jog through the park and up the Struggle saw us quickly gaining ground up to Red Screes, over Dove Crag and finally up to Fairfield summit. This attained, Dennis left us to return to Ambleside via Nab Scar.

The three of us continued our roller coaster ride via the treacherous descent down to Grisedale Tarn and then back up and over Hart Crag and Seat Sandal before descending to Dunmail Rise. The climb up to Steel fell saw the wind gaining in strength and the forecast rain seemed to threaten, however, nothing came of it and we sought a little shelter in the gully to snatch a bit of sustenance before topping out.

Back now along the ridge over Calf Crag, Gibson Knott culminating in a scramble up to the top of Helm Crag before the steep descent to Grasmere. From there, a very scenic run along the lake, teaming with families and tourists alike, all enjoying the sunshine around White Moss. Some strange looks in our direction as we clattered past, our mud spattered legs quite alien amongst the sedentary crowds.

A good recce for YJ for his JNC in three weeks time the training all seems to be coming together and everything looking good - let's hope the weather deals just as good a hand as it did today. A great day on the fells 21 miles and just over 7,000ft of climbing

Please email any snippets for the Blog - what have you been up to this weekend? TF How was Coniston? Any news on next weeks meets for posting?

Just had email from our illustrious Editor who tells me his first port of call in Corfu will be an internet cafe, so he will be watching us!!

YJ, FSS and me hope to do something similar next Sat - this time a recce for FSS's 55@55 (see blog

Au Revoir (don't know any Greek)

Hope everyone's training and racing goes well over the next couple of weeks.

Don't forget to give NLN lots of stuff to post.

See you at the Jubilee on the 21st.



Friday, May 02, 2008

Wray Caton Moor ~ Monday 5th May

Gordon (t'Yorkshireman) asks if anyone is doing this, with a view to sharing transport.

Contact him on 01204 697845


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lever Park 10k Wednesday 30th April

No results for this, as yet, but thought you might be amused to hear of my little mistake.

For some reason I had assumed that this was a two lap race. I'd had a terrible track session the evening before, legs very tired and unable to run fast enough to get out of breath. However from the gun I could tell I was going to feel better, although I could see Alan Jones of Lostock and a Horwich runner whom I didn't know gradually pulling away from me. By the end of the first lap I had warmed up and the gap wasn't getting any bigger.

By the middle of the second lap I had caught them up and then, putting in a considerable effort, passed them during what I thought was the long run in. Then, horrors! I saw the lead runners starting their third lap, just as I was running out of steam. I slowed down to fast gallop (as my father used to say) and could hear Alan and the other Horwich guy closing.

Asking spectators how many laps were left elicited no sensible response, as the likes of Gordon, Alan Sweatman and Watters had recognised my predicament and I was variously advised that there were two, three and even four laps to go. However the lovely Sue Hayes, who I am sure is incapable of telling lies, told me that I was about to start the last lap.

Fortunately, the benefits of Norman's interval sessions kicked in and I was able to raise the pace again, passing a few more runners and holding off my two rivals for that evening.

All in all, an enjoyable evening leaving me with the feeling that the extra training is having some effect.

Moral of the story, once again, "Never assume anything".