Thursday, June 30, 2016

Saturday 2nd July

For those of you that haven't had enough of me recently, I'm UTUPing.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tour of (some of) the Central and Western Lakeland Valleys - Saturday 25th June 2016

The plan was to visit a number of the main Lakeland valleys, using seven high passes; the 'seven' being based on my having reached the final year of my seventh decade. 'Seventy' somethings might have  been more apt, but I was at a loss to come up with anything that I could do 70 of.

The passes were to be as follows:-

1. The route from Great Langdale passing below Silver How and thence to Grasmere.

2. Easedale to Greenup Edge and down Greenup Gill to Stonethwaite in Borrowdale.

3. Honister Bridle Path (north side of the motor road) to Honister Quarries.

4. Loft Beck Crossing and down into Ennerdale.

5. Black Sail Pass to Wasdale Head.

6. Burnmoor Corpse Road to Boot in Eskdale.

7. Three Tarns back to Great Langdale.

Five of us toed the start line, a little later than planned, and on this occasion, I was not responsible for the delay! The wise three of the party had already judged that the planned route was a little ambitious, and had agreed that shortcutting for home, soon after Honister was a sensible option. I was planning to go for broke, and YJ went along with my aspirations, more, I feel, out of a sense of brotherly duty, than with any great expectation of success.

We crossed over to Grasmere successfully in good spirits and although I called for a photo-shoot in the village, no-one stopped and by the time I had got the camera out, there they were, gone:-

The photography was a little more successful on the way up Easedale:-

And again on Greenup Edge:-

The descent to Stonethwaite was a little slow and we could see that we were falling behind my sketchy schedule. However, we soldiered on and subsequently stopped at the Honister Quarry Sky Hi Cafe for refreshments. It was on the approach to the Quarry that we became aware of the amount of activity taking place all over Lakeland on our chosen day. There were a number of  parties awaiting, or already tending to, Bob Graham aspirants and at least one ultra event involving visiting the ten highest peaks in he area.

It was here that I agreed that my plan to complete the whole route was not achievable and that we would all return to Great Langdale together. We headed to the two Gables, passing to the west of Grey Knotts and Brandreth. At this point it appeared that the weather, which had so far been very kind might be taking a turn for the worse.

From another aspect, Great Gable is included in 'Britain's Favourite View', not appropriate for this exposure:-

Then we needed to plan our return in a little more detail:-

We opted for Windy Gap, between the Green and Great Gables, but I don't think anyone had remembered just how much scree was involved, both on the way up and on the way down. Near the col we met a runner who was looking for 'Joss's squad'. Apparently the big man was out celebrating his eightieth birthday with a run over 30 tops. We didn't see them but follow this link:- 

We were in the clag for a little while and experienced some precipitation, but as we descended it cleared and we were able to doff our waterproofs again.

Then it was down to Sty Head, up to Esk Hause and on towards Rosset Gill:- 

On the descent we met a number of competitors in Triathlon X, follow this link:- - and we thought we'd taken a lot on!

We reached the New Dungeon Gill complex just short of  12 hours after having left. Most of us feeling a trifle weary by then, but generally agreeing that we'd had a fine day out.

I'll sign off by thanking everybody for their company, navigation and for getting so far in front of me that I completely lost sight of them on only a few occasions. Hope you all got home safely.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Strange happenings at the Solstice

Last night saw the inaugural running of Airedale's Summer Solstice, a five mile trail race in the grounds of Bolton Abbey with a few mean hills thrown in.
Now some of you know that I have my own harem here in Settle and they were keen to do this race, so 12 of us, 11 ladies and me, set off for what turned into a good evening out. It was fair to say that there was a wide spectrum of running abilities at this event; the winner did 30:44, the first lady (who came second overall) did 31:52, whilst the slowest runner did 92:10. I ran 39:53 which was good enough to get me 1st V60 but is almost 10 minutes slower than my pb. Strange goings on in wfdbwgua in 2016; t'Y keeps getting 1st V60 in Parkruns and had an excellent 2nd in the Horwich 5k, and I won the Curley's series as well as last night. Now clearly neither t'Y or I are getting any faster, so I can only put it down to other good V60s having stopped running. Having said that, it is still nice to be first, whatever the circumstances.
Our evening was finished off with champagne (beer for me) and cakes as one of the harem had a significant birthday. A very enjoyable night out.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Tour of the Central and Western Lakeland Valleys - Saturday 25th June - A Weakened Warrior Promotion

I will shortly be emailing details to most everyone I can think of who may be interested in this long day out.

If you are interested but haven't heard from me by the 18th, please give me a nudge, either by commenting on this post, or via or on 07895 182 623.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A nice day in Yorkshire

In an effort to get myself back on track and as a sort of recovery run after the arduous near 46 hours of completing my first hundred.
I had hoped there would be a contingent of wfdbwgua contributors but on the day it was just TLoB and I, as TM was a dns due to her recurring foot problem.
I believe around 140 started in the event, with a mix of four distances and also a mix of runners and walkers. Setting off with quite a few making a fast pace in front, once an opportunity arose (the early bit goes through a narrow ginnel), I stopped and waited for TLoB was also accompanied by a young lady, Clare, from Settle Harriers. We then got into a rhythm and could see the quicker ones heading off in front, only to be caught when they went off route, something which TLoB was very familiar with.
The first checkpoint at Feizor arrived, nice flapjack and orange. Then it was a case of one path to Austwick and over to Clapham, more flapjack and orange, where we set off back with a climb over Oxenber Wood to return to Feizor and more flapjack and orange (think they also had choc chip cookies).
The return to Settle for Chris and Clare was via Little Stainforth for them to complete their 16 mile route in 3 hrs 11 minutes. I then continued with a chap from Burnley through Stainforth and passing Victoria Cave and Attermire Scar. A slight misinterpretation of the route instructions meant that we took the long way round via Stockdale Lane and by this time there were four of us. Have realised the error of our ways, I pressed on (only a quick stop at the next CP for flapjack) and got a bit of a gap so that it was purely dependent on my own interpretation. This seemed to work fairly well as I negotiated the southern end of the Saunter through Cleatop Wood and followed the route arriving some time ahead of them, finishing just inside 5 hours and having eaten my meal (the steak pie was very good quality) before they arrived.
Of the 38 on the long course, I was the second home at the finish, a bit unusual for me even where there is a mix of runners and walkers. My route was 23.8 miles with just under 2900ft of ascent, finishing 5 seconds inside 5 hours.
TM - a look at the flybys is quite interesting - for once I held back early on and didn't go flying off on the easy running bits.
An event that needs more support - they asked feedback and we can give it. One is that I like flapjacks but if you don't?
Weather was warm and humid early on with a nice cooling breeze once in more exposed areas. Hopefully there may be some photos that I can link to.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Two Out Of Four Ain't Good.

The four being The Austwick Amble, Henderson's End, Holcombe Two Towers and Two Lads. My plan was to do all four but circumstances dictated otherwise. The Amble was successfully completed in (for me) a good time despite the heat and the hard ground. Knowing that the last two miles were track and road, I gambled on the lack of rain and ran in road shoes. The gamble paid off as I went past half a dozen runners in the last mile and beat my target time.
Our Rebecca had come up for half-term and we decided to do Henderson's End. The plan was to run together as she was worried about her lack of hill training (a bit tricky on Worthing sea front), so being a loving father I duly waited for her until we reached the trig pillar. At that point, she decided that she would forget the old man and off she went! It made the second half of the race very interesting as she got away from me on the road and track bits and I gained on her on the two climbs and the rough stuff. However, the steps off the Pike did for me and Rebecca finished a minute ahead (and was 1st LV35).
Two down, two to go. However, it was not to be. Four weeks ago on the M5, an idiot driving a black Toyota swerved accross two lanes and hit the back of our car. He didn't stop but luckily we got his registration and a witness stopped to offer her help. All is now sorted except for my neck. For ten days it was very painful and then seemed to clear up. But this Tuesday I had to go for a medical assessment for the insurance company and since then my neck has been too sore to run. So no Holcombe and no Two Lads.
Next year??

Two Lads Race Thurs 9th June

Some good results from Horwich as a whole and also from members of our squad - in  my case, however, it was no longer a case of  fretting about whether I'd finish on the first page of the results, but rather whether I'd finish on the first day of the race!

Well done everybody else, and thank you to the bus conductor lady at the finish who didn't seem to be selling many tickets.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Maiden 100 completed

top photo by Simon Pipe
Composing this from our shared cottage here in Maiden Newton in Dorset, I am glad to report that I managed to successfully complete my first LDWA 100 mile event on Monday morning. But only just. Based on the recommendations on the organisers' website, I chose the noon start on Saturday : hindsight and had I sought advice from fellow East Lancs competitors would be that I should have gone for the 10am start with the majority (of the 491 starters, 57 started at noon and 27 at 2pm).
My plan was to mainly walk the first day (to breakfast CP at Beaminster) then run/jog where possible on the second half.
It soon became apparent that almost everyone on the noon start were running so that I could myself with a chap from London (but with still noticeable Glaswegian accent) at the back. The first few checkpoints came and went then someone caught us up. He had started at 12.20 having taken 7 hours to drive from Worcester for his 10am start (we thought it was bad enough taking 7 hours from Horwich on Friday!). Despite being at the back of my start group, I was way ahead of my 3mph schedule. That was the good point. The bad point was that as early as 5 miles I could feel my right little toe rubbing and by CP2 (16.8 miles), I decided to change to my second pair of socks - I had a spare pair for the first half then two more pairs in my breakfast bag.
The fastest of the 2pm starters caught me up by CP2 at Brantspuddle  and then I started to catch the slower of the 10 am starters during the next leg to Dewlish CP3. By evening, my feet were really starting to suffer. I caught a group with a couple of fellow East Lancs members and stayed with them to CP4 Ansty arriving about 20 minutes after darkness. This was a really busy CP and I was now amongst a good number of fellow competitors. Normally I would able to get a move on, probably walking with a suitable group but my blisters needed attending to. I also decided to wait for fellow East Lancs walker who had reccied the next section. Probably 45 to 50 minutes spent at the CP and 11pm on leaving. Despite the bit of knowledge we still managed to go slightly astray (may have been a route alteration) but continued through the night to the next CP5 at Buckland Newton (38.8 miles at 2.05am) and CP6 now light at Worden Hill (46.4 at 5.40am).
As it was now light, I decided to have only a short break at the CP and then moved to quickly regain some lost time to arrive at Evershot CP7 at around 7.11am, some 25 minutes ahead of my erstwhile colleagues. A far too short break there then away heading to the Breakfast stop at Beaminster. Having gone off route for an unplanned extra stop, on my return a young lady walker from Leeds caught me up. I didn't recall overtaking her because she had been having a nap at the Evershot. We walked together a bit but she moved ahead being suitably refreshed..
I passed a couple more arriving at Beaminster about 3 hours later than I hoped to be greeted by Julie and my friends from East Lancs (who run the Breakfast CP) with my feet in a very sorry state.
Whilst waiting for food I was also a bit feint.
Would I be able to continue? I must have used almost the maximum of the two hours permissible then headed on me way for the second "half" (the breakfast stop was at 57.6 miles). Soon after leaving Beaminster there was an extremely steep hill - even with my love of ascending, I found it tough. After an hour, the ibuprofen etc began to kick in I started to feel a little more positive. I even ran most of the final 1.7 miles (according to my garmin, 1.2 according to the route description!) to the next checkpoint at the most westernmost point, Blackwood. The bit was between my teeth so I start to move quite well gradually hauling in a few in front of me to CP10 (Netherbury, 71.9 miles). Julie had managed to contact me and arranged to meet me en route and walk the last mile or two to the checkpoint, arriving at 6.05pm. I met her just after wading through a sort of ford with no alternative route, soaking my blistered feet. Maybe a slightly longer stop than planned and a change of socks then on my way, passing a few to get to CP11 at Powerstock (76.5 miles) just before dark at 8.52pm. Quickly away and up through Eggardon Hill, catching another walker as the descent started. Then a problem - the first time the route description caused me a problem and I could not determine the correct route, so I waited for the next group, and we managed to hit lucky and pick up the correct route. I decided to stay with them despite much of the remainder of the leg being on roads on which I could have easily gone with greater speed. We arrived at CP12, Loders at 0.39 am and realising that time was pressing and were only 20 minutes inside the cutoff, three of decided to push on at a faster pace as the next cutoff was 4.40am at CP13, Long Bredy (90.7 miles). One of the three of us was struggling a little, especially on the uphill and a eventually we were caught by other small groups resulting in about 20 of us together navigating through the dark. Once light, I and a couple of others made a bee-line to get to the CP, and although we all narrowly missed the time, common sense prevailed and we were allowed to continue. Despite it being 4.30 in the morning, Julie was there waiting me to encourage me to make the checkpoint in time. She had also been using her persuasive skills to convince that it would be grossly to unfair to time us all out at 90 miles if we looked capable of completing. So I made sure I was moving as fast as I could as I ran into the checkpoint! With barely a few minutes respite, I hit the next leg with a vengeance and managed to claw back my my four minutes lateness to arrive at the final checkpoint, Portesham at 6.32am, with some 28 minutes to spare. This gave me a little recovery time and most of the final group set off at around 6.50am to head towards and along the Wessex Ridgeway. This should have been straightforward, 6.5 miles with 3 hours to do it in, now daylight and no great navigational complexities. However, the surface was akin to walking  on rocky desert - it looks like easy paths on a ridge, but it was rock hard and rutted everywhere. Added to this was a howling cold cross-wind.
Eventually I dropped down to the valley where Julie was waiting with the gate open so we were all saved one final stile to climb over. She then walked in with me along the final couple of miles of road. Just before turning into the finish at the School I was greeted with surprise by Neil Shuttleworth.
The finish at an LDWA Hundred is quite overwhelming - everyone is clapping and cheering you in as if you had just won the Olympic Marathon. It is quite amazing.
After sitting, gathering my thoughts, chatting to members of East Lancs who were there, removing my shoes and going to thank a couple who had helped me through the night stage to Long Bredy, we headed to find the medical team to get my feet sorted as they were very painful.
While waiting for my turn with medic, I began to feel quite dizzy so my feet had to wait while they carried me to the bed, gave me oxygen and took blood tests. Everything was ok apart from low levels of potassium, probably a bit of heat stroke and dehydration. Bananas were sought and provided and water to sip as I gradually came round sufficiently to have my blisters treated. After 20 minutes or so, I was deemed sufficiently recovered to get to Julie's car (which she was able to bring to the fire exit) and then she took me back to the cottage where I went to bed for three hours' sleep. I never got chance to sample the meal at the finish : maybe that's for next time.
On completion, I thought there is no chance of going through that again. However, we'll see. I have never run/walked on such feet damaging surface before, but I was determined to complete. If I do next year's hundred (North York Moors), I will have the opportunity to recce the night sections, which will save time, and hopefully prepare my feet to hopefully reduce the impact of blisters. I will also make use of the 10am start to give me more spare time, and eat more food.
Memo to TLoB - you told me there are no hills darn Sarf - Dorset is not that far away from Wokingham and they certainly have hills!
I know this is not a fell race, but if you considered each of the 15 legs as if they were fell races, legs 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14 have enough ascent per mile to be classed as category B and overall there is an average of nearly 140ft per mile over the 101.7 miles.
Most of us also believed the route to be at least 104 miles : I did have it recorded on my Garmin but some glitch wiped at least 70 miles of recording. At the time it was showing about 4 miles more than the listed mileage and I am sure only about a mile of that could be put down to bad navigation and movement into the halls used for checkpoints. An app on my phone did record 57,000 steps for Saturday from midday to midnight.
Who's doing the Settle Saunter next Saturday?

Friday, June 03, 2016

The Foot Pain Mystery Continues...

After YJ being my knight in shining running gear on Saturday and driving my van home from Elterwater, I rang the GP's surgery today for my MRI scan results...


That is what was relayed to me by the receptionist in a thrilled voice as, obviously, she thought this would be good news.  I suppose, in a way, it is good news as it means no arthritis, no gout, no stress fracture, no tendon damage, no muscle damage...

...but what DOES it mean?

It means that I am still non the wiser as to why I'm getting this weird foot pain.  What could it be which doesn't show up on an MRI scan yet caused enough pain to make me feel sick and dizzy on Saturday?

I have an appointment with the doctor (although not my fellow Horwich RMI doctor) next Friday to discuss the results but there doesn't really seem like much to discuss, does there?

I'm very bored of my elliptical trainer now and the sun is beckoning me!