Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Shoe advice

Not having done the Pike Race since the 1980s, I would appreciate some advice concerning what shoes to wear. My dilemma is this: do I run in fell shoes which will not give my back any cushioning on the concrete path and the road - especially on the descent, or do I run in road shoes with a grip and risk slipping on the grassy bits?

Some advice from regular Pike runners would be much appreciated.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Serious Contender for last man in

Since overcoming long-term injuries mid last year my return to running has been littered with obstacles. Suffice to say I've ben running continuously for three weeks now and that's about as good as it gets these days. Anyway with the intention of seeing JtE doing the Pike race I thought, never having done it, I might as well have a go myself. I asked JtE to clarify the route so he told me where to go and told me the route as well.  So on Saturday I was desperating up the pike when I saw a familiar figure coming off the top. It was EtU on his own. Where have all the Utuper's gone? Despite the respite afforded by our ten minute chat, my time was one that you really don't want to make public. I hadn't expected much and I wasn't disappointed. You could go slower. But you'd have to try extremely hard. I therefore declare myself a serious contender for last man in. So;

                                                        The name of Matt,
                                                        Goes in the hat,
                                                        Not his new name,
                                                        You'd need a very large hat,
                                                        For that!
Saturday could be a double-header. JtE is odds-on to be the first ever 80 year old RMI harrier to complete the Pike race and I'm odds-on to be slowest ever RMI Harrier to complete the race. It's fortunate that the clocks sprang forward last weekend otherwise I'd have been getting back in the dark. I've spent a lot of my life there.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday 28th and Tuesday 31st March

Just YJ and yours truly at the UP on Saturday: YJ to just to say hello before departing for his continued road training. It was raining, hard at times, so I sat in the car for for a while, plucking up courage and then set off alone for the Pike, Two Lads and Winter Hill Trig Point (for a change!). Coming off the Pike I met Matt, who was reccying next Saturday's race route - surprisingly, he has never done the race before. By the time I got to the trig point the weather was getting the better of me and I took the shortest route back to the barn.

Back to Matt, he'll have to turn out a few more times to catch up on my record of 35 consecutive completions (36 if this year goes to plan). I've raced every year (except FMD year when the race wasn't held) since my debut in Cambridge Harriers colours in 1979.

Next Tuesday sees the first of this season's evening fell races - Liver Hill from the Rawtenstall Marl Pits, starts at 6:45. I'm going if anyone wants a lift. Target, as per earlier post - to beat at least one bloke.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Birthday Cards

I received many cards at the Friday evening do and by post. I opened them today; my  birthday. Many thanks to you all. I am very grateful to you for marking the occasion in this way.



Fleet of foot?

It was with great regret that I had to miss JtE's 80th birthday bash, my absence being due to a trip to Hampshire that had been arranged long before the solstice supper date was decided.

Purpose of the trip south was to incorporate a family visit with the Fleet pre London half marathon, the first of a two-part spring road race campaign (the next is Brighton marathon in two weeks time) .  There was a time when we fielded a family 'team' of five at Fleet, this year's number having been depleted by injury, lack of  fitness an other reasons to the extent that I was the only team member left.

The day broke cloudless but cold and persisted from the gun to the   tape and no doubt resulted in many personal fast times.

In an age group where few turn out it was the first race since turning 75 that I had any competition  and the organisers had chosen to lump all over 70 in the same category  so there was no glory  for me at Fleet this year.

I finished in the top 47 per cent with times of 1.49.56 (chip) and 1.50.35 (gun) and was well pleased that my recent training on the circuit around winter hill had paid off.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Bit of a ‘Do’

An opportunity to combine the Solstice Supper and the celebration of JtE’s big birthday led to a very enjoyable evening.  FSS was there with his camera and has kindly provided a few shots for the blog Smile




















Monday, March 23, 2015

Two Crosses LDWA event Sunday 22 March 2015

I cannot believe how lucky I have been with the weather each time I have entered this event and this year was no exception.  After a great start to the weekend with JtE's bash in wonderful company I thought this would be  a good way to close the weekend on one of my favourite routes.

For those who don't know it, it is basically a trail run for the runners starting from Tottington over the ridge and down to Jumbles reservoir.  A climb out of the Jumbles valley up to Turton Tower then a track run to the split point where the 17 mile route separates from the 25mile route.  I took the 25 mile option even though my lower back was creasing me.  So for us it was back up Turton Heights to follow the foot path to the road crossing of the devil's highway ( A666) before skirting round Turton Moor on the Witton Weavers Way.  The stretch above Belmont to Tockholes was wonderful with the sound from what looked like thousands of gulls on the island in Belmont Reservoir.

Over the top of the south end of Darwen moor before descending down the mile long re-entrant to Turton and Entwistle reservoir.  Again the views where just fantastic with a fresh cool breeze and the sun on your face it doesn't get much better than this.  I must admit to hating the flat bits on this event and none more so than the flat track around the reservoir before you hit the main halfway check point with a huge array of food and drink.

Setting off again full of cake and tea towards the Strawberry Duck then onwards towards Bull Hill, the latter part always being wet and boggy but not as deep this year.  They even put markers across the boggy part to hit the perimeter path round Bull Hill.  The organisers always want to ply you with alcohol at this check point - its nearly as bad as the Paris marathon!

My favourite section is next with the trot across the moor from Bull Hill to Peel Tower, again it never fails to disappoint with great views 360 degrees and lovely soft terrain to run on..

Heading down the rocky track from the tower I had a bit of a fall, which injured my right leg.  A lot of pain below the knee on the right side but knee and ankle still seemed to function.  It was an extremely painful descent to the bottom going in reverse most of the way, as I couldn't seem to put an weight on it.  A lot of concerned help was offered but in true Latham bolshey attitude; all kindly refused.  The last control was 3/4 of a mile from my fall and it hurt all the way.  At the control they suggested that I drop out but the thought of waiting round for 2-3 hours for lift did nothing to lift my spirits so I hobbled off to do the lat 1 3/4 miles to the finish to collect my badge for attending and finishing the 30th 2 Xs'.

The last long flat bit is along the old railway line to the finish is usually when my calves are screaming at me to find some contours to run on to ease the flat repetition.  On this occasion it was a blessing to have somewhere to hobble in relative comfort.

Finish, badge , certificate, some great food, tea and banter with TM + friend, the Injured Josie Jangles and Albert.

Hospital today,  X-ray showed a break in my Fibula below my right knee, strangely on one of the thickest areas of the bone knuckle.  A lot more pain today, huge swelling and probably an impressive bruise to follow.  So off work for a week or more (actually working from home - hard task masters my outfit!).  No plaster yet but have to wait for the fractures clinic for a final decision.  Looks like I will be missing the Orienteering Festival over Easter and running with JtE on the Pike Race but I will be there, to cheer him in.  Also I will be missing the next RAB mini mountain Marathon.  So well and truly gutted!  On the upside - I did the challenge and got my badge. Adrenaline and testosterone is a toxic mix at times!!!
Happy running everyone.

Yr Aran Sat 21st March 2015

To follow a great Friday evening (thanks to all who made it happen) I decided to have a bash at a Welsh race for a change.

Yr Aran is a 905m peak just south of Bala, the race route starts from the village of Llanuwchllyn and is 5 miles straight up and back down again. No trouble with the navigating, especially with the glorious sunshine provided.

It's the peak mid centre of the photo above. Now you'll have to agree that it looks a runable slope from a distance. But even with a following wind on the way up, I probably walked 2/3rds of it. A very deceptive final summit that kept looking further away the more you ran towards it.

I had done this race before in 2010. There wasn't as much snow about this year and had to climb up the final stile before the last little scramble to the top, instead of being able to just step across the top of it because of the huge snow drift. It just goes to show how changeable the March weather can be with the 2014 race shortened and the 2013 race cancelled altogether. This year 'suncream' was the additional kit requirement with a few of the faster male runners flouting FRA rules by not having their number on their chest, but (on their vest) tucked down their shorts!

Maybe I spent to much time looking at all (out'n'back route remember!) the views this year, so a little disappointed with only a 8 min improvement on the time from 2010. The respective Black Combe times from the same years saw a 13 min difference. But a pb is a pb, and the views were worth it!

The following day saw me head up to Oxenholme for the 11th (my 10th) race of the Kendal Winter League. A testing 2 lap run around Helm Hill. No results as yet, so will have to see how I'm placed in the league table before the final race at Elterwater. TloB was there too, testing out his hamstring. The suggested 'run with me for the first lap' evaporated into the ether by the time we reached the first climb. He was massaging it thoughtfully on my return, so hopefully it won't curtail his chances at the last race and his 7th required counter for a good league finish.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

A busy weekend

First and most importantly,  a truly excellent equinox "do" where we celebrated JtE's coming 80th and although TLoB over-focussed on me, looking forward to The Pike Race, if JtE were to arrive fresh with 100 to go to the finish, I know who my money would be on ... and not just against me. I'm sure he still possesses an exquisite turn of speed.
The main UTUP on Saturday, alas, only had EtU, Colin and myself setting off. By the descent from the Pike to Georges Lane, that had diminished to just yours truly : Colin having planned to be home early while Ed had not planned to cut his run short but say no more!  I persevered, had a chat with Dave Jackson before ascending to Two Lads and then continued to Winter Hill and thence to Hordern Stoops, the Bomber Memorial and Healey Nab : a good morning's run 21k (13 miles) in just over 2 hrs 30.
Today, saw an early start as I was sweeping on the Two Crosses Circuit so no running but 25 miles of quite brisk walking as we set off 30 minutes behind everyone else and need to spend a few minutes at each checkpoint to ensure everyone is safely through. Saw Kev at the start. Didn't see TM but know she ran (posted on Strava) - photo of Kev here and TM here.
At last I have got a decent amount of training in for the week - 50 miles and 6670 feet of ascent on top of 36/5600 the previous week.

My 80th Birthday Do.

I am so overwhelmed by the events of last Friday evening that I don’t know quite where to start this posting. I was amazed to see the number of people in attendance and it made me realize just how lucky I have been in being a member of the gang, so to speak. My running has always been for the sake of fitness and even more so, being involved with so many good people who have become my friends.

I think it would be appropriate first of all to thank Ed ( I hope you don’t mind me using actual names in this blog) for making the event happen in the first place. He approached me about a month ago to agree upon a venue and I can imagine the effort that then went in, in contacting so many people and arranging things with Rivington View. Many thanks Ed.

Then there is Chris who so eloquently spoke after the meal. The words spoken were so kind and I was quite overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity. They were spoken by a true friend and that means everything to me.

Pauline and Ian had organized, on behalf of all of you, my superb birthday present; a beautiful photograph and a cup embossed with a photograph of me. The picture is taken from the route from Noon Hill to the Pike; an area I love to traverse. It is of the fine quality we have come to expect from Pauline and it catches the unique cotton grass typical of our fells and a glorious sky all enhanced by the evening light. Many thanks to you both for the picture and also for arranging the mounting of the picture in such an attractive manner. A tremendous effort in all of this which is greatly appreciated. The picture is now in its resting place and I attach a photo of this.

After the presentation there was the cake enhanced or otherwise you might say, with a picture of me. Regardless of the picture it was a wonderfully presented piece of confectionery and complete with, I think, eight lighted candles. I understand that there were difficulties achieving this presentation because of manufacturing inadequacies. Your efforts are greatly appreciated Nicole and Hazel. Many thanks. The cake itself was delicious and has been quickly finished off at home!

I find it difficult to express my gratitude to all who attended the do and I feel that what I have said in this blog is far less than what I feel.

Lastly I see that Chris is running a sweepstake in regard to my time achieved in the Pike race. I assume that I am not allowed to participate other than to run the race.



Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Morning After and The Night Before

The Night Before was a great success. A big turn out to celebrate JtE's 80th and I think it is true to say that everyone enjoyed themselves, especially the main man, JtE. A big thank you to EtU for organising the venue, and to NLN for sorting out the presents.

The Morning After saw JtE, SN and my good self at the entrance to Lever Park for a recce of the Pike Race course. It turned out that SN had never run the route before but that didn't stop her setting a good pace up the concrete path, and we reached the top in 25 minutes. JtE then demonstrated his descending skills and we completed the course in 40.07.

Given that we had to stop and open all the gates, I reckon that at least 2 minutes can be knocked off this on race day. So I am proposing a sweepstake: predict JtE's time on Easter Saturday and the closest will win a bottle of wine that I will provide. To start the ball rolling, my entry is 37.36.
Over to you

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Black Combe split times

Thought I'd post these. Although not showing on the new website, I manage to find (with a bit of 'googling') a record of previous split times. There's no split results that I can find for 2012, as that's the year we had a different start point. EtU, KLM and CW may recall that year as the 'hailstone' year.

The control box I chose at the fodder rack wasn't recording in 2011, so I've also combined the times for those two sections to enable a direct comparison between the various years.

Interesting that the middle downhill section hasn't varied much over the years. The one thing that has is my starting weight, with probably an extra 7lbs to carry up the hill in 2014 & 2015 than 2011 and 2013. A bit like putting on a rucksack loaded with 3 bags of sugar. No wonder the uphill times vary so much!

Black Combe Split Times

Sea Ness
Black Combe
White Combe
Fodder Rack
Stream Junction
South Summit
Finish time

 I did dib - honest!

(07:41 combined)
 Different Start

(07:23 combined)
(07:56 combined)
(07:29 combined)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Black Combe Fell Race Sat 14th March 2015

Things wouldn't be the same without the annual pilgrimage to the Western Peninsula for what is one of my favourite races. It was a week later this year than it's usual slot of the first Saturday in March, presumably to avoid a clash with the Flower Scar championship race. Big question, would this mean I'd be a week fitter and manage to beat last years' time?

Times have varied from an all time best of 1:52 (2011, the Wasdale year!) to a recorded slowest of 2:16. The slowest time was at my second attempt in 2010, my first attempt in 2009 failed by not correctly locating the Marshalls at CP5. Unbeknownst to me (and about 20 others) CP5 had in fact been relocated to the village hall by the time we'd reached it's original location!

This is one of the few fell races (other than championship races) to employ dibbers. With CPs positioned at the end of ups, downs and flat bits it gives a very good indication of where your (and others) strengths and weaknesses are. Mine are definitely the downs, but not for Olivia, tall skinny blonde who finished 3rd Lady. Olivia usually wins the races in the Manchester Area Cross Country League I help organise, so imagine my delight when I found out I can run downhill quicker on one of the steeper sections (CP4 -CP5), well for 5 mins anyway, and was only 2 mins slower on the last descent!

The race has a new website and the results with the splits can be found here https://fellrace.org.uk/races/blackcombe/2015/splits Those with older versions of internet explorer may find the website may not function so well.

Due to some of the dibbers not having been cleared from previous events it appears as though I lost 3 places on the last descent, scandalous! But as there were 7 dibbers in front of me not working (only recording finish time) my actual position at each of the CPs was as follows

1st - 200, 2nd - 203, 3rd - 203, 4th - 201, 5th - 196, 6th - 196 and Finish - 192 and 2:03:31 . Quicker than last year, so that extra week of training paid off!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saturday 14th March

Although a cold has prevented me from training since a morning outing with YJ yesterday, I'm confident that another 38 hours will see me raring to go on Saturday - UTUP. Hoping for company.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Duddon Weekend - 7/8th March

Very social weekend with a twelve and a half mile walk to the pub and back on Saturday.  A few more here Smile


Farm at Jackson Ground


Heading into the cloud


Keith at Lind End Bridge




Into the wind


Saturday, March 07, 2015

Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round - Saturday 7th March '15

Having been told by my GP that there is nothing wrong with me that can't be improved by training harder, losing weight and drinking less, I decided to return to racing and to fight my way back to my rightful position - i.e just a few places from the end of the last sheet of the results of any race that I am foolish enough to enter.

So it was that I found myself at the back of the assembled throng straining at the leash at the start of the 2015 Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round.

Two hours and twenty one minutes later saw me stagger over the finish line, 24 minutes after the TF and one hour and ten minutes after the winner. The only folk behind me were two Trawden ladies and a scattering of marshalls dismantling race signage.

The weather had started off cold and breezy but improved during the morning and by the finish I was ready to take my gloves off. Underfoot conditions were wet, but no worse than to be expected at this time of year.

Next race is Liver Hill on 31st March; target:- to beat at least one man - we will see.

Four days after that it's the Pike!

Cross country's over for another year

In the dim and distant past, quite a few of the blokes on the blog used to partake in xc's (EtU, YJ, JtE, TLoB) but now it seems to be usually just me, although Andy has made his debut this season before going onto bigger and longer things (as I write, he should be completing the TransGranCanaria - 120+ km).
The hardest thing today was getting there. I'd looked at the map and was fairly confident that I new where the location, Rylands Park in Lancaster, was - quite straight forward as it's just off the road to Morecambe. The really difficult part was getting away from Horwich. I set off in reasonably good time but, as I was about to turn onto the M61, noticed that the traffic was at a standstill. I didn't fancy that as although it might clear in ten minutes, I could be stuck for an hour. No probs, I'll go up the A6 - got just past the Cherry Tree and a tailback which could be going all the way to Chorley. Turn round, up through Blackrod and Standish (which was also quite clogged but I persevered). I managed to then make good ground up the M6 and turned off towards Lancaster at about 2pm, now confident that I would make the race but with little time for a warm up.
Morecambe Road is always slow so I eventually got parked and made it to the tent area with about ten minutes to spare, to the delight of two fellow Horwich athletes as we now had a V50 team!
The race was fast and furious. My garmin was playing up so I only have the results and course description to go off. I suspect it was not 9.6km as advertised as I completed in 40:24 which would be close on an all-time PB, so I suspect it was nearer 9km. I was having a really good battle with old fella who seemed to be making fast spurts but chatting after the race he thought I was running unevenly. As my garmin failed to record, I shall never know. I suspect he knows what he was talking about. I told I thought he would be likely to beat EYJ and Paul Murray had they run as I seemed to be running well. He then revealed that he had in fact won the Ben Nevis Race ... not once but four times. And he is not wrong, name is Peter Hall and won in 62/63/64/65, curently ranked 10th V70 overall in UK and does parkruns in sub 22, as well as Horwich BMAF 5k (2013) in sub 20.
TM also ran but I didn't get time to chat with her - no doubt she will post on her six legs blog.
Tolstoy rules ok!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Bewitched,Bothered, and Bewildered

Just testing out. I accepted the invitation to join the Blog, EtU, and up flashed a screen which disappeared more quickly than YJ used to run up Winter Hill, but the gist of it was, it didn't want  to know me. A common trait. However an uncommon screen appeared with brightly shining buttons apart from a Publish button which was as dim as me. That's pretty dim. Naturally I pressed it and against all odds it published as you will have seen from the previous nothing post. So I might be back on after a year out in the cold, though the casual Matt has been replaced by a nomenclature belonging to a bygone age. I am now, in this flush of excitement, going to attempt to include a photo.
This is Orla at 3 weeks. Her countenance has paled significantly from when she was born, as she now realises who her grandfather is.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Haweswater and back

Arrived in falling snow,  turned at the halfway point in a snowstorm and drove back through a blizzard - other than that my debut in the Haweswater half marathon was a successful outing, being by far the oldest entrant yet finishing 356th out of 503.

Checking previous results had suggested slow times could be expected and given the hilly nature of the course this proved to be the case.  My target of 2 hours was always going to be a challenge, getting harder as the finish approached, and my efforts were rewarded with a time of 1 hr 58 mins.  Placing was first over 75, there being no other finishers over 70.

Other results of interest?  Brendan Bolland (Horwich) 1.24 and Erica Booth (Horwich) 1,47.