4 th August : The Farleton Knott fell race

I have not competed at a BOFRA fell race before. But they are they are characterised by being short in distance but with sharp in ascents and descents. So when I noticed the Farleton Knott race in the FRA magazine I thought it would be rude not to have a go, especially as it almost a local race. It is also a hill that I drive past every time I got to the Lakes and beyond.

So Mark and I arrived nice and early (11 am) at the foot of the hill on a nice sunny day. Me to do the race and Mark to take some photos of the race. As it turned out we were very early as the 12 pm start time was for the many Junior races. But it was a nice day and it gave me a chance to go up Farleton Knott to have a look at the flagged route. As well as watch the junior races.

The senior race goes around the front of the hill to the left on a low level traverse, before steadily climbing to the summit around the back. Then over the top and steeply down scree back nearly to the show field. Before returning steep back up on grass and returning on almost the same route as the outward one.

Normally this race attracts about 65 runners, but today this was a BOFRA championship counter, so 129 runners got counted through the start funnel. Then we were off on a mad dash across the field through a farm and up a steady climb and through another field, before forming an orderly queue at an awkwardly (for this race anyway ) positioned style. After this the trail is too narrow to overtake, so even though I felt I cold go a touch faster on the fairly flat traverse, I had to go at the pace set by the 40 ish runners in front. After a mile the trail widens and steepens, so I managed to overtake a few on this section. Now It  was a steady runnable climb with some steeper ramps, but not too steep to force a walk. Soon enough I rounded the top to start the mad dash down the scree to the base. I passed a few tentative runners here as I crashed down the looser sections of the gully.

On reaching the base a small traverse right takes me to a steep grassy climb back up. I felt like this was the weakest part of my run, and only held position at best here. By the top I knew I had found my place in the race, I was no longer overtaking or being caught, so what I assumed to be the leading lady (and was, Hazel Robinson ) became my target. A chap near the top said 24th as i passed, which turned out to be accurate. Sarting the descent she was about 50 meters ahead and running strong. On the fast, mainly downhill, loop back towards the finish I closed on her. And by the 2nd to last field and style I was just behind her, but someone had closed in on me over the last 800 meters. So now down the 2nd to last field we were 3 abreast and all running hard. I overtook Hazel as the chaser overtook me. Into the final field we both moved away from Hazel,  and I tried over the last 200 meters to close the 5 meter gap that he had pulled out. I made an all out effort to draw level, then he slightly edged forward, that was me done. so I conceded and  jogged through the line.

Still it was a great little race, and 23rd out of 126 finishers in 43.51 was a pretty pleasing effort.



Catch up post after a period of neglect of my Blog

Well  after a long period away from this Blog I have finally got around to updating it. It is a daunting task as I have been running quite a bit and have a few adventures worthy of documenting. I felt that the best way to tackle it was to describe it in the pictures I took, along with some pre prepared reports. Some I will go into in a little detail others are just to fill the gaps a bit  between now and the Manx Mountain race last year. Here goes.......deep breath.

October 2012 :  Another go at the Cumbrian traverse, this time we went the opposite way from the Moot  Hall in Keswick and got as far as Kirkstone Pass. It was a tough day in the snow and it slowed us down too much to avoid needing head torches for most of the last section, so we called it a day with the section from Kirkstone to Broughton Mills left to do. On the plus side it was a good day for photos.











































December 2012 : A nice snowy run around the Kentmere horseshoe at the end of last year.






January : A run out of Langdale over the Crinkles, Bow Fell, Sca Fell Pike and back via Angel Tarn.






February : An incredibly cold run over Clougha, Grit Fell, and Ward stone and back via the shooters track. It must have been a 50 mph wind and about -20 when exposed. On the way there I nearly got stuck turning around the car at the crossroads. You can see them near the top of the photo having thawed a bit in the slightly higher temperatures. 
I met a guy on the way up to Clougha but after 10 minutes of bitter exposure to a serious wind he retired back to the shelter of the lower slopes. I persevered in full winter gear directly into the wind all the way to Ward stone. It was my coldest trip up Clougha ever, no question!




March : A trip to Fort William with Mark

Had a fun trip to Scotland. Mark took some great photos of the scenery and An Steall waterfalls. I decided to try a Winter Tranters round. As it turned out Marks efforts were much more successful than mine.
 I set off from the Ben Nevis Inn bunkhouse in the dark at 04:50 hrs. At 05.30, just below Red Burn crossing,  my head torch batteries began to fail. I ended up on the lowest setting, and with no spare batteries, I decided I had no real option but to go back down. On the way down it cut out all together so I sat down on my gloves annoyed at my mistake. I waited a while in the very mild conditions until my night vision, along with a little first light, allowed me to slowly pick my way back down to the bunkhouse.
 So overly ambitious plan in the bin, I decided to have 2 reccie days. At first light I set off again. I ridded my pack of some food and bits and set off up Ben Nevis in the unusually warm conditions. The top was still very cold and snow covered most of the top from just above half way. The summit snow was very hard and the descent to CMD arête on Kahtoola micro spikes was a bit skittery and slightly out of control. But further down the thaw had taken hold and the snow from there and over the arête was soft. The descent off the arête was a snowy, alpine looking ridge which had a deep soft snow covering. Lower down it steepened and hardened forcing me out of control and into my first try at a self arrest with my axe. Thankfully it was a success, it is a surprisingly efficient way of stopping on hard snow. After this I decided to call it a day and ran out via An Steall and Glen Nevis meeting Mark on the way.
 On the Sunday I drove up to the top car park and ran up Glen Nevis and then over An Gearanach, Stob Coire a Chairn, Am Bodach, Sgurr A Mhaim, Stob Ban and Mullach nan Coirean. It was another warm (for the time of year) day, and I seated my way up An Gearanach and into a snowy wonderland of ridges. It was good to revisit the same route that Will and I had; ill equipped; tried and failed a couple of years ago. This time I was armed with an ice axe and footed with Kahtoola micro spikes. The route was very pleasing, care was needed on some of the ridges and steep drops, and the descents a joy. My only real trouble was on the Devils ridge. At one point I stopped in my tracks to contemplate a very skinny snowy downhill ridge. It was a scary prospect as there was no margin for error and very steep long drops off both sides. I decided to just go for it and shuffled along on the very middle of the top as balanced as I could be, my feet sank into the top enough to keep me nervous for the entire 50 meter stretch. I then down climbed the craggy bit and made my final push for the summit.
 On my return from the summit; on this out and back ridge, I decided to go for the steep drop off the side, this is normally no problem in summer, in winter it is trickier. However seeing a narrow band of grass leading down, and not wanting to do the dodgy ridge again, I went for it. I shouldn’t have as it was far too steep and nudging a large rock down showed me what would happen if I slipped here. So with extreme care I front pointed as best I could with micro spikes and whacked the Ice axe in hard now and again. It felt like a very precarious situation for a while until the slope eased. Still it was a good learning curve on what is doable with the kit I had.
 The rest of the run consisted of meeting the first person of the day on the ascent of Stob Ban then the long run to Mullach Nan coirean, made longer by my error of not making the necessary right turn. The descent off the Mullach was good and made me realize how good the previous weeks conditions must have been for John Gay on his record sub 24 hour Ramsay round. I ended the run with a run / walk up to the car, from the bottom to the top car park. Where I met Mark to exchange our stories of the day.


All the photos are form my day 2 run.


















May : I didn't compete, due to illness, but enjoyed watching the Coniston Fell race. Although Lloyd was winning at the top of the Old Man, Darren Kay in 2nd managed to pass him for the win.














June : Bills Ramsay round : 3 years and 361 days after me, Will and Bill set off to do the Ramsay round (Will and I succeeded) and after several attempts thwarted by bad weather, Bill finally completed the Ramsay round. Well done sir. I supported Leg 1, A particularly tough leg to support on your own and it was to prove just that, at times I had to, having filled up water bottles, sramble to catch Bill back up. On Stob Coire Easain I finally cracked and it took me to the decent of Stob a Choire Mheadhion to catch up. But it wasnt about me and i got myself to the change over point at Loch Treig with him. The rest of the day brought him a few squalls on the Mamores, but nothing too bad. and he finished in 22 hours and 54 mins. "I don't know what all the fuss was about" nice one Bill.








June : I had a nice few reccies of the Joss Naylor challenge with Ian Cookson and at times Will. This was one when I had my camera. We managed to include Red Pike on Leg 4 , going wrong in the mist. It wasnt until we came out of the mist below Red Pike and on the to Dore head, that we saw Yewbarrow up close, and realised our error. So we backtracked and completed the leg with Haycock, Seatallan and Middle Fell. That just left a long road run back to the Narional Trust car park at Brackenclose.















June 26th  : Dockray - Great Dodd Fell race : 15th in 1 hour 20 mins was a good result for me, especially as I beat fellow Bowland runner Chris Reade for the first time. Carl Bell won in 1 hour 8 mins.




                      



June 28th / 29th : Ali's Ramsay Round attempt : Ali, Craig and I set off form Glen Nevis Youth Hostel at midnight after a heavy downpour, and knowing of a slightly discouraging forecast. It was clear for the ascent of the Ben, until the mist formed on the snow capped summit. The traverse over to CMD was slow on slippery rocks and there was a severe wind chill. The heavy wind made progress difficult and my hands were dangerously numb. As I was concentrating on sorting myself out, rather than helping Ali, Ali slipped on the start of the descent from Carn Mor Dearg. He hurt his hip badly, and by the col before Aonoch Mor he knew he couldn't continue. So we walked out through Glen Nevis. Reaching the camp-site at 06:45, in time to inform a disappointed support crew. Prior to them leaving to go to Loch Treig. Tough luck Ali. He is going to have another go in August. We attended a fell race (eagles crag) to support Lou instead.


















July 3rd - July 10th : A week long Bob Graham Round....... as it turned out  : The week long BG wasn't planned at all. I helped 2 guys( Duncan and Craig ) from London at short notice on Legs 1 and 2 (Keswick -Threlkeld : Threlkeld - Dunmail). Unfortunately due to very difficult weather (fog and rain in the dark) on leg 2 which carried on, on leg 3, they had to retire part way into leg 3, already being down on schedule.





















Leg 3 Dunmail - Wasdale :  I helped a fellow Bowland FR runner, Paul Nield to eventualy coplete his BG round in a great time of 19:34. He was very strong all the way, and had prefect weather, not too hot but not too many clouds either. A great day.

















Leg 4 and Leg 5 : Wasdale - Honister : Honister - Keswick : Mark and I had already planned a trip to Wasdale camping. So I realised that I could complete the round within the week, and thought it rude not to. So the first day (all photos bar the last 1) I had an easy-ish run going up to Sty head and doing a round of Mosedale, taking in Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Pillar, Scoat Fell, Red Pike, then going around the back of Yewbarrow and back down the road to the camp site. It was hot but a nice day.
The next day I set off in very humid sweaty weather to do leg 4 and 5. It was difficult getting enough water in the very weak streams. I struggled in the sweaty heat, my t-shirt and shorts sodden and flapping around me for the entire way. It was a plod by the time I reached Robinson, but I still rallied down the road as I wanted to catch the earlier faster bus back to Honister. I made it in 7 hours had a bite to eat then caught the bus. I then got off the bus and wearily made my up Moses trod over Beck head, then down to Wasdale. Knackered and badly dehydrated summed me up after that!











14th July : Wyresdale Circuit : I decided to revisit this as a training run for the Lakeland 100. Unfortunately I think this was the start of a stomach bug grabbing hold of me. I have not run right since and have now decided to withdraw from running the Lakeland 100 race. 
Although I chose a longer line onto Harrisend Fell through heather, and I got lost a little in the woods just after the church, I still felt I had a lack of power from halfway around to the end. I finished in 5 hours 10 feeling utterly wiped out.