Sunday, May 31, 2015

Duddon, the short course  

It's been a number of years since I last managed to complete the long course Duddon Fell race, being timed out at various places  and for the last three  years I have run the short course, having the distinction of scoring a hat  trick of last places. 

Twelve months ago TF was good enough to guide me round in  3 hrs 21 mins and on Saturday, as TF has indicated, I volunteered to do the same for Botters who was making his debut in the event which has a course which can be tricky in poor visibility.

One problem when the cloud base is high is that one's position relative to others is plain to see and can be discouraging if those ahead disappear from sight.

Botters made a good start  pulling away from me initially until we regrouped on the first climb slowly gaining on a trio of ladies from Todmorden.  Once the route levelled they were away and were never again to be more than dots on the horizon.  And that left the two of us to bring up the rear for the rest of the race.

On the long climb up to Dow I pulled out  a short lead on Botters who quickly caught me on the traverse  to the  Walna Scar track showing better pace over the rocky sections.  By this time the lead runners on the long course were catching us and flying past at impressive speed.

From White Pike there are two routes off, the first being loose scree and more direct and the second option  to  the right  down  a wide grassy gulley which as Botters remarked at the time adds quite  bit of distance.

Last year TF had guided me down the shorter path  while on Saturday I showed Botters the wimps way. Interestingly TF's choice last year got  us to the final checkpoint on Caw in 43 min 37sec while Botters and I on Saturday were two minutes faster.  Interesting.

On the final descent we both confessed to have nothing left in our legs and progress was painfully slow as the long course field sped past providing a guide to the route.  In the last half mile I dropped back and trundled in to record a time of 3hr 25min  - four minutes slower than last year and a couple of minutes behind Botters   who admitted that after the first tortuous climb he had  enjoyed his outing.

Just before the start I had discovered that Pete Bland had some Oroc Innovates in my size and agreed to put them on one side for me try on later.  As I have been trying to find a pair at a sensible (heavily discounted) price for a couple of years these were a snip at £50 and as I was the only runner in the over 70 age group I picked up a Pete Bland    voucher for £10 which made the Orocs  even cheaper. No sooner had I completed the purchase  than TF ran in with  her impressive time  and looking  as though she had  given her all.  Well done.

We await EtU's  account.
Duddon 2015 - TF's report

Our chauffeur had managed to deliver us to the start venue in good time to collect numbers and dibbers and have a couple of visits to the loo. On the drive up we'd persuaded Botters (4th passenger)that he should give the short race a go, with YJ acting as his guide.

It'd been some 4 years since I'd attempted the long'un so had to get instructions from EtU as to which way we set off from the start field. The anticipated 500 entry hadn't materialised, so much so that there was very little in the way of a queue through the first few gates and the field quite quickly spread out.

I remember the run out through the woods to Harter being quite oppressive in 2011, partly due to the heat and partly due to the lack of breeze. Not a problem this year as the trees have now been felled and it was a lot cooler day. Up until 3 Shires my split times had me 3-4 minutes slower on each leg so the half-way point was reached in 2:47 as compared to 2:33 for 2011. The breeze had livened up a bit for the climb up to Swirl How, and in places was positively chilly. The consistent pacing suffered a bit and scored an extra 7 minutes for this leg. Spurred on by the Swirl How Marshals 'go on you can catch them lot', I set off after the group of 7 ahead of me on the more optimum contouring line and was the first to reach Levers Hause.

One place lost to a Bowland Lady on the traverse along Brim Fell, and a further 3 by Dow. These extra 3 dithered at the cp presumably waiting for 'little' me to set off again on the optimum line! Walna Scar road was reached with only the Bowland Lady ahead. By White Pike however, a male and female pair running together from the group of 7 had caught me and by Caw another one place lost. So for those not keeping track, of the original group of 7, I had 4 in front and 3 behind!

The ace up my sleeve for the final run in is knowing a good line off the summit. Honed in the intervening years by undertaking the short race. So a 13 minute descent time meant I re-passed the 4 in front and a further 2 more as well!

Final stats analysis (I promise!). My 2011 time of 4:46 will live in my memory as one of my great achievements. I knew it wasn't likely to be bettered even before I set off, but was really pleased to get within nearly 30mins of it with a finish time of 5:19, particularly when there were times in the race when I thought it'd be longer. 

My thanks to YJ for doing the driving and EtU and Botters for sharing the day. They'll be posting their own reports shortly, so I'll keep you in suspense and let you wait for them to take up the blogging reins.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Duddon Saturday 30th May

YJ is kindly chauffeuring a small group of us up to the Newfield Inn on Saturday and has one seat available for an additional passenger (for the long race (now full) the short Race (EOD) or to only stand and wait).  Contact me if you're interested.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Found this race report on Carnethy's web site which had me in fits of giggles. It's not strictly fell running but thought I'd share!

Bob Johnson, thinly disguised as the “Bobstrich” (many thanks Phillipa for the excellent name) took London by surprise on Sunday morning. With an Ostrich costume that covered his head-plus-torso but not much else he galloped into the Guinness Book of World Records for the “fastest marathon as a three-dimensional bird”. His finish time of 5hrs 50mins was well inside the 7 hours stipulated by Guinness for the new record.

Bob takes up the story:

“My first scare was at 0430am on the Saturday before the race when the newly-constructed box would not fit inside my car! This was resolved with 50m of 9mm climbing rope and a hellishly large bow-tie. My second scare occurred at Edinburgh airport at 0530am when Flybe check-in staff said “Forget it – that won’t go in” when they saw the coffin-shaped Ostrich box. It did go through the X-ray machine but only just. My next scare occurred at 930am on Sunday morning just 40 minutes before the start when the Ostrich weighed in at 18 pounds and thus TOO LIGHT for the new record attempt of a three-dimensional bird OVER 20-pounds. This was resolved with the addition of 4 water/energy drink bottles.

Race went great and loads of people seemed to love the ostrich and/or my “display” of legginess. Final scare occurred going back through London City Airport security when the Ostrich coffin got stuck in the X-ray machine and I was also asked about several “offending items” located in my carry-on. Those offending items being (a) a quantity of cable ties (b) pozi-drive screwdriver (c) semi-opaque ladies tights (d) 3m elastic shock cord (e) length of 6mm nylon rope. On “inspection” I was also found to have “carpet burns” on my elbows. The ostrich costume (and the resulting elbow injuries) seemed to get me off as long as the chap called “Trigger” working the x-ray machine could have my mobile number”.

MASSIVE thanks to all those who donated to “The Children’s Trust” (75%) and “The Shakespeare Hospice” (25%)”…

Helvellyn & the Dodds

This was marked down as the pre-Duddon warm up on my calendar. It was also going to help decide the all too critical footwear choice for the following week.

My Salomon Fellraisers had seen me through some 5hr + runs on the GL3day with out too many issues. My preferred 'racing' shoe though is my mudclaws, but the current pair are fairly new and the longest time on my feet has been just under 3hrs, when they were starting to give me a bit of gyp towards the end of the run. So given that Duddon could be anything between 5-6hrs (likely to be closer to 6!) then a 'tester' event was required.

My previous attempt at this race was in 2012 when I'd taken 4:15. So ideal for the job. The forecast for the day was for cloud (above summits) and a breeze from the NW. Great for the going out bit but not so good for the coming back!

Nice to see TYJ looking fresh from his BG success and ready to attack the route at a slightly faster pace than was required a couple of weeks before. My memory of the route up Clough Head had long faded, forgetting how long the stretch of Tarmac was but its steep slope did allow me to pass a few who'd stopped to take in the view.

I cleared the 2hr cut-off at the cp on Raise with 15mins to spare which was about 10mins up on 2012 (squeaked through last time) but still had the headwind to deal with on the return.

As it happens I didn't loose any further time and came in just 47secs over 4hrs. I was last to reach the fell on the way out so gained 11 places and nearly 45mins on the last finisher by the end. Going to have to run it a lot quicker in future if I want to share in any post-race food though.

The mudclaws? Well not too bad, starting to ache a bit on the last climb back up Clough Head, was grateful for the grip down the other side but don't think they're quite ready just yet for anything much longer. So I think I'll sacrifice a bit of grip for a bit of comfort next week.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Old Habits

I was on marshalling duty today at the Austwick Amble as it is organised by a member of Settle Harriers. I was near the finish and in the U12 race I spotted a familiar red vest. Despite the fact he was surrounded by the green vests of Settle, I had shouted "Come on Horwich" before I realised that it is no longer my club! It turned out to be Toby Middleton who finished an excellent 6th, followed in by his younger brother Theo. Good to see Horwich vests so far north but I did get some funny looks from my clubmates.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I shall be UTUPing tomorrow and hoping to for company on a longer than usual run.  Any offers?

Andy's BG

23:24 well done that man! Conditions were a bit grim early on, but the lad done good.

His take on the day:-

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Don't you just hate abbrs' and acros'?

I'm doing this deliberately as this is going to be the third shortened attempt at the blog with some photos from my phone.  I'm not as clued up a NLN and t'other one on this software.

Any road up; EtU and JtY had invited me along to cheer on the latest WFDBWGUA graduate to take on the Bob Graham Round last Saturday.  It was to be a very early start but thanks to a late evening text from Mark Sammon we all got an extra 2-3 hours in bed before the trek up north.

Th EtU plan which seems to work perfectly but for one tiny flaw was to ascend the beck from Dunmail up to Grisedale Tarn, passion our good wishes, drop back to Dunmail and await the coming off Seat Sandle, enjoy the atmosphere at the road team tent and support team handover then scale Steel Fell in pursuit of the BG steam train.  Finally finishing off our day with an extended hike.

It was cold and damp with the odd shower so we thought TYC might have slowed some but apparently not as he bounded down Doll' in his usual springer spaniel fashion following the wall down to the path round the tarn.

Ater parting company with the BG team we heard a cry and some shouting and it later transpired that TYC had slipped or tripped and banged his head.  At Dunmail he seemed to have got over the worst of it except for a dark blue ear!

With sustenance inside we all set off up Steel Fell with the BG team steaming up.  By the time EtU and I had reached JtY on the Summit the BG team were but dots on the grassy slopes below High Raise - going well and looking good.

As for us, we continued around the head of Greenburn before dropping into Greenburn bottom to the end of the valley below Helm Crag ( Lion and the Lamb) before contouring round the lower reaches of Steel Fell parallel to the main road and back to the car.

In true Wallace fashion we had a grand day out with some fine views to boot and in my case some cracking' cheese.  More importantly we witnessed another successful attempt at the round.

Well done Andy and well done his fell support team and just as importantly his road crew, who even provided us with some pork pies.

 TYC and support crew at foot of Dollywagon
 TYC being cosseted at Dunmail by Mark & Josie the road crew
 The steep way up Steel Fell TYC leading Tony Marlow who stops for a pose
2 ex BGers taking in the view north to Thirlmere.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Great Lakeland 3 Day

Well the chair and the wine made it in, bag was bob on 13kg.

Day 1 - Eskdale to Little Town (Newlands Valley)

The 'B' and 'C' course were transported by coach to our start outside the Woolpack Inn in Eskdale. The Elite and 'A' started at the event centre in Ravenglass.

Route CP1 Wasdale Head Inn - CP2 Pillar - CP3 Black Sail Pass - CP4 Honister Café - Finish Little Town.

By the time I'd climbed up to Wind Gap for the approach to Pillar the weather took a turn for the worse with strong winds and snow. Coming off wasn't too bad using what I remembered of the racing lines. At Black Sail a few others opted for the 'down and up' but as it was only day 1 and against my natural inclination of 'short&steep' I continued on the Wasdale race line to pick up Moses Trod to drop down to the Slate Mine.

Weather was still generally miserable and I took a quick nip to the loo to give the gloves and anything else I could manage a blast under the dryers! Last climb of the day didn't seem too bad but could have done with knowing where the grassy descent for the drop in to the valley started as it was a bit slow down the tourist path.

Stats - 27k, 1563m 5hrs56mins

Day 2 - Little Town to Little Langdale

The day started with the cheery news that we were on 'Bad Weather' courses for the day. This meant I got to miss out a trip up Glaramara and Bowfell.

Route CP1 Path junc bottom Cat Bells -  CP2 High Spy - CP3 Pike 'O' Blisco - Finish Little Langdale (Fell Foot)

First time I've put on waterproof bottoms before the start of an event, I'd also switched to my heavier jacket. A longer day with the dubious pleasure of the full climb of Pike 'O' Blisco to finish with. Path seemed to go on for ever. Arrived back just as the sun came out - briefly, but enough to dry out the tent and sit out in the chair. I needed it, High Spy to Blisco took just over 4hrs!

It had to move indoors when it started raining again.

Stats - 30k, 1695m 6hrs46nins

Day 3

Improving forecast for the day so we were back to normal courses.

Route CP 1 - path junc (306028) - CP2 Wetherlam - CP3 Swirl How - CP4 forest path junc Harter Fell (214988) - CP5 Dalegarth Hall path junc (172001) - CP6 Road/path junc (147993) - CP7 Hooker Crag Trig - Finish at Ravenglass.

Couldn't quite remember the race line up Wetherlam and as it was a tad misty 'bottled' what I thought it was about half way up and turned to rejoin the masses for the search for the summit cairn. Swirl How was a bit easier. From here I was tempted to try a contouring line under Grey Friars to take a more direct route to the wall crossing near Troutal. But I'd dropped a bit too much in the clag and the steep, bouldery slope didn't look too inviting. Plan B option of dropping to the path to the north of Seathwaite Tarn came into action. I was rewarded with a much more grassy run down than the 'bee line' route that others were taking though - so every cloud etc! Speaking of which, they'd disappeared by now allowing me to shed some layers. By CP4 most of the climbing was done and we were left with a series of good paths/trods to finish with.

Stats - 29k, 1387m 6hrs10mins

Full results can be found on the sportident website. Remember that people had the option to switch between courses depending on how they were doing. Overall results show the ones who stuck with the same courses each day.

Here's a print out of my split times in case you're curious!


Monday, May 04, 2015

Horwich Tri Sunday 3rd May

A few days before this one I'd said to YJ that as I'd made no progress with moving from the breaststroke to freestyle, and am tiring of trailing along at the back of every cycling group that I've ever ridden with, I was planning to give up on my triathlon aspirations.

A forecast of foul weather for Sunday, followed by a restless Saturday night as I fretted over my preparations for the following day (yes, TF, I do sometimes make preparations) was firming my resolve to rid myself of this obsession.

Heavy rain falling at 5:30 on Sunday morning nearly had me crawling back into my pit, but I resolved to at least toe the line (or maybe only the poolside) and I reported to Horwich  Liesure Centre at 7:20 as instructed. At that point I considered leaving the bike in the car, and just doing the swim,but knowing that our eldest was also entered, I decided I must man up and do the full thing.

An hour and 20 minutes later saw me riding up Chorley Old Road with a smile on my face and pains in both my thighs.

Several (!) hours later saw me having finished in yet another Personal Worst, about 45 minutes behind Rachel, but having beaten three (yes, three!) senior men and secured first place in the Vintage category - when's the next one?

TYC's BG Attempt on Saturday 9th May

YJ and I are planning to go up to Dunmail to see how Andy's doing; schedule as follows:-

Assemble at the Hob Inn, Bamber Bridge at 4:15 a.m!
Arrive Dunmail 5:45
Depart Dunmail 6:00
Arrive Grisedale Tarn 6:30 (Andy is due at 7:00) we'll check progress at Thelkeld with his road support, mobile access permitting.
Then descend back to Dunmail, whilst Andy does Fairfield and Seat Sandal

Cheer Andy through, then trail after him as far as we want, returning to Dunmail via a circular route.

All welcome; I'm driving, but remember that folk have complained of claustrophobia in the back of my Astra Hatch.

If folk think that's all a little tight, we could perhaps assemble at 4:00!!

May in the Lakes - Saturday 2nd May (Honest!)

An exhilerating morning on the Sca Fells for (click to see more) me with a longer day for others Smile


West Wall Traverse


Sca Fell Pike Summit before the crowds arrived

So near yet so far

With 45 minutes still to go before the 48 hour limit is reached, I write this from home having had night's sleep. Hwever, it did not complete my first 100, having returned to Checkpoint 10 at Chipping, with pain from a blister in my left little toe, making it difficult to progress. But that's only the effect that my certificate merely shows 70 miles, a distance PB for me. What really did for me was Pendle Hill.
My plan was to clear Pendle Hill before dark and I almost did, At ten to nine I was near the summit heading into cloud. I made it across the trig point to the ladder stile with little difficulty despite near zero visibility (although the high wind was a challenge and had probably cost me 10 to 15 minutes earlier from Nick of Pendle across Apronfull Hill and Spence Moor. As usual it was my descent that was my downfall. I was unable to find the path  and had about three goes trying to find it then returning to the stile. Eventually a group of four walkers came over and I was able to get their attention to tag along with them, albeit losing them but now being on the path. So what took me 25  minutes when I recce'd it last Monday, took nearly three hours and all the connected energy ( I slipped once and a had a few near misses).
Still if I could maintain 3mph, especially when the light came and the supposed weather improvement, I rckoned I could still finish by darkness on Sunday or not much later.
Heading in towards Chipping where it was suitable to run, I found I was unable to run due to pain in my ribs. Even walking wasn't great. I decided that at the Chipping checkpoint to take ibuprofen and by the time I had fed for 10 minutes and say another 10 minutes en route, I would know if they had worked. No pain in the ribs but then the blister, so I made the decision about mile into the next stage that it was not to be.
Once the deision had been made and I was heading back to the CP at Chipping, the pain eased off, but I knew other problems were likely to arise.
I now know I can do a 100 if the conditions are reasonable. Some people said the conditions on Pendle and Nick of Pendle section were worse than last year's Welsh Valleys event, which reputedly the toughest ever because of weather conditions (see report). I'd actually done 79 miles in total. If it had been the main event in three weeks time, I would have had 45 minutes more daylight over Pendle. I think for the main event they will mark the route from Pendle with reflective markers as despite recce, and compass bearing, you still can't see the path on the ground - they will also have 500 going over not 50 which should help.
So 70 miles of the route completed, which qualifies me for next year's (in Dorset) if I so wish - Julie thinks I should do it, as I would have less of a problem with descents than doing Joss Naylor Traverse.
At the about the same time as I reached my final checkpoint after 27hrs 34mins, the first runner was finishing. By the time I was back at the finish to get my meal, etc, he was still the only one to finish, the second and third arrived after 6pm, 32 hours plus. I was the 12th retirement of 51 starters (photo from Red Rose 100 site - I also think I was carrying too big a pack).
It is a great event and although at times was thinking never again, I just might.
Update - Monday evening
Results have been published on Red Rose 100 site. Of the 51 starters, 34 finished. At Barley, 36 miles into the event, I was in seventh place, arriving at 19:52. The leader had arrived 57 minutes earlier at 18:55 and got over in to Downham in 1 hr 27 minutes. Most were taking around 2 hours - I took 3:40 - the longest time of the those still going! Ideally if I could have caught Ken Falconer, who arrived a few minutes earlier and left the CP maybe 10 minutes before me, there may still been enough light to see the path. BTW, this bloke is an amazingly fast walker - I thought I was fairly quick walking but he just moves effortlessly and seems to be carrying very little pack, probably the secret to effortlessly completing over 30 Hundreds! And for TLoB's benefit, he also a Professor of Pure Mathematics at St. Andrews - maybe he has heard of him.