Sunday 19th October : The Ennerdale trail race

15.8   Miles
1,355 feet

It was to be my second try at this race, last year I was disappointed to just miss out on a prize due to being a year too young. So this time being eligible for the Veteran 40 category I was determined to do better, I knew if I had a good run I could figure in the top 3 of the V40 category. 

Bill had other commitments to relays this year, so I drove up on the day with Mark and Phyllis. On the start line the weather was similar to last year; that is cloudy and showery; but this time there was a keen wind blowing up the valley. The course is a lap of Ennerdale water but extended up the valley to the river Liza bridge crossing. This year 2 miles of the course had changed from a very fast farm track to a twisty turning tricky single track. This was on the first part of the descent after about 3 miles on the way back down to Ennerdale water. I estimate this to be about 8 minutes slower.

Soon enough 121 fellow runners and I set off. After following a lady runner for 50 meters, I passed her and ended up leading the race for about 500 meters. Long enough for me to contemplate being at the sharp end for the whole race. I even thought I may be a target for the whole race, then Christopher Armit passed me and my thoughts snapped back to my original more realistic ones, like top 3 in the V40. As we ran around the North side of Ennerdale water and Chris A slowly but surely opened up a large gap, I kept expecting to be caught. After about 3 miles I noticed another runner slowly catching me. I expected him to go straight passed but he stayed just behind me. We never talked partly due to the effort of climbing the rolling trail up to the Liza crossing, and this silence continued the whole race until we crossed the finish line.

We both kept a strong pace going, I briefly contemplated being caught by others, but rationalised that I had to just keep the effort high, and if I got caught there would be nothing else I could do about it. However this meant that Chris L would get a free ride if he wanted it. We both ran together, overtaking the 50k runners (2 laps) that had set off 15 minutes earlier. We then arrived at the CP, I took a quick drink whilst Chris L had a slower stop to grab some food. I gained about 50 meters and as I crossed the river Liza to turn for home, I tried to make the gap stick. But on the style crossings I noticed he was closing the gap, so eased back and let him catch me.

He continued to shelter behind me as we now faced into a strong head wind, which was funnelling up the valley. The route was mainly downhill now, but even on the downhill parts the strong head wind made it tough at times. I tried to make it harder for him to shelter by running on the inside or outside of bends. But I think he benefited anyway. He certainly benefited on the new twisty section. It was difficult to spot the flags as we were in and out of streams and bushes. Chris L could save energy by staying back a bit and following me, missing out the stopping and Looking around, and going slightly further than necessary, which is what I did. He certainly ran a clever race. I was just glad to be running in 2nd place, figuring even if Chirs L overtakes me I will almost certainly finish 3rd overall. Way better than I thought possible before the start.  All the time there being a slim possibility of Chris A having problems and us both overtaking him.

After the seemingly never ending twisty section, we finally got running fast again on the easy running track. Passing some of the quicker 50 K runners we soon started on the slippery rocks around the side of Ennerdale water and Anglers pike. Here I had a difficult time with a stitch, so I eased off a bit on this slower section and just tried to efficiently rock hop. Whilst expecting Chris L to overtake me. He didn't. I assumed he was saving his energy for a final push nearer the end. We finished the awkward section and I now knew we were just over a mile from the finish. So I upped the effort (not sure I upped the pace much though) a bit to try and pull away. It now started to rain quite heavily. I opened up a small gap then Chris L shut it down quickly and sped passed. I tried to up my pace, but I was at my limit. He was simply too quick, I knew 3rd was now mine as I looked back and couldn't see anyone near enough and couldn't catch Chris L. It was now pouring it down as a I crossed the muddy field to run over the line very wet and very pleased to be 3rd, 13 seconds behind Chris Lightburn and 6 minutes 36, behind Chris Armit, in 1 hour 56: 59. My best ever result in a race. 

Mark would have taken some photos had it not rained at the time we all finished. Phyllis enjoyed her first ever trail race on the 10K lap of Ennerdale. I received (eventually after a long wait) my first ever proper prize for winning the V40 category. That of some Salomon Fellraiser trail shoes. Pleased is an understatement.

27th September The Isle of Man mountain Ultra

32 miles
7,500 feet

I'm still annoyed about my cathedral complete mess I made of this race. my misplaced trust in following two local(well to the Island anyway) runners on one descent cost me a probable PB. I will never know.

Unfortunately it was a day for low cloud. The weather was benine in every other way just dank. As I have only competed twice before, and with no real opportunity to recce, low cloud was my biggest worry. I started the race at a good pace and on the first big climb up North Barrule I counted I was in about 10th place. The climb and run along the ridge went well, and just on the descent to the road crossing at the bottom of Snaefell, I passed the guy who eventually came 3rd.

I caught and passed a few others then I took a long looping line in the fog off Beinn Y Phott. All went well and I felt like I was going to have a great race. I felt really positive about my effort. Then whilst following to manx fell runners vests off Colden it all came crashing down. In the mist I followed the 2 in front as he cut a corner off and tracked too far right. We carried on then scratched our heads but not before we had done a mile loop to end up back on Colden. I conservatively estimated this to have cost 15 minutes, but how much it cost in lost energy, hence lost time due to fatigue, and how much morale was lost was pretty impossible to say. But it surely cost me significantly more than the 15 minutes whilst doing a frustratingly pointless loop.

Back on track and I tried to motivate myself. Overtaking a few that I had already passed was both a boost and a reminder of my big mistake. So I battled on feeling pretty tired to on people of the best race finishes of any. The Cliffs that lead into Port Erin are really beautiful. A class runner called Charlie sharp had been closing in on me and I just about manged to maintain my position to finish 8th in 6:23.40, 38 seconds ahead of Charlie. Rob Sellors won in 5:34.23.

26th July The Lakeland 100

104 miles
23,500 feet

On my previous 2 races the weather was conjussive to fast times. This years race however was to be different. The heat was pretty oppressive for an event as long as this. Sheltering from the sun under trees before the start, and sweating profusely at the briefing in the school sports hall, is not an ideal way to prepare for a tough 104 mile race!

A quick chat with Bill Williamson and the usual gathering at the start line, and I was off on another long tough race. I set off at a good pace but it was hard to judge how I was doing compared to 2 years ago, as this year we set off from Coniston at 6 pm rather than 5.30 pm. I normally judge my progress by where I have to put my head torch on. However I felt that I made good progress through the first sections, of Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere. Nothing too fast, but steady, and close to my times of (25:11) 2 years ago. I had  tentatively  targeted a sub 24 hour race finish. But even at this fairly early stage in the middle of the night I knew that was very unlikely. A PB was going to be a tough ask as well.

During my preparation for the race I banked on; as I had in the previouse 2 races; drinking half a litre of water,  mixed with nuun salt tablets, between most CPs. But the heat was such that even during the warm night I drank 1 litre. I also, only needed to wear a sweat soaked T-shirt; no jacket during the night was needed this year. I had to rethink my strategy for the day ahead on the fly. My progress was good durring the night my new Salomon rucksack felt comfy and my feet held up pretty well.

Night turned to day on the Old coach road, as I passed a friend of mine Ian Symmington, who seemed
to have had a bad time and was about to quit on the race. Normally he would be right up at the sharp
end. I was at the fairly pointy end but I figured that I was outside the top 10, maybe 16th or so. Normally daybreak is a nice feeling. Being able to see ahead takes less concentration, and ultimately moving faster is easier. But with daylight came heat.

I started to not only need to fill both half litre soft flasks at CPs, but also to refill them at streams, sometimes twice in between CPs. On occasion I even climbed down slightly off route wasting a few minutes to get water out of a stream I would never normally risk. But needs must. It was a tough day
in the bright sunshine and heat but at least being near the front meant the CPs were quiet.

After the tough climbs of  Gatesgarth and Garburn pass I knew I was going to at least finish. At the top of the Garburn pass climb I started talking to the eventual winner of the women's race, Debbie Marti-Consani. At the top she moved ahead but later I would catch her just as she left each of the last few CPs. I carried on at a pace that by now, at Langdale, I knew would not be a PB. I was thinking
sub 26 hours was the best I could expect. I caught Debbbie on the last climb over hole rake towards the final descent to Coniston. We chatted for a while whilst a fine mist threatened to cool us down. It was short lived and didn't. It was still too hot for this, but at least the finish was only a descent away.

I felt tired but my legs felt OK on the descent, and I knew from the CP staff, that we were battling for a top 10 finish. Having done so in my previous 2 races (2010  7th  28h 31), (2012  8th  25h11) I made an effort on the descent and managed to get a gap on Debbie. Which I managed to extend to 1 minute 30 by the finish line. Feeling very tired I was glad to see it, and ran through Coniston to the finish line  reasonably strong. My time of 25 hours 27 wasn't a PB but given the heat, and being slightly above my ideal running weight, I think it was a descent effort. Unlike other years my feet fared pretty well, I put this down to the Drymax ultimate protection socks that I decided to wear. This also aided a fast recovery, for my future races. Bill had a rough time with the heat and towards the end with the bad weather and rain that moved in. He toughed it out after a quick start, to finish in 32 hours 34.

17th June a run with Steve Birkinshaw on his Wainwright's record run

13 miles
3,700 feet

I decided to travel up with Mark to meet Steve on his amazing record attempt on the Wainwrights round. This is a consecutive traverse of all 214 tops as listed in Alfred Wainwrights lakes guide books. Joss Naylor's 1987 record of 7 days 1 hour was the the target. He aimed to beat it by resting less than Joss (3 or 4 hours sleep a day!), and using a more optimum line. Joss set his record by resting at pubs with a pint were possible. However admirable this meant a less than optimum line to do so.

On our arrival at Kirkstone pass I made my way to a likely looking camper van to ask where Steve was, it turned out he had already gone. Knowing there was 2 long out and backs just up from the pass, I set off with Mark to catch up. Mark stayed at the top of the first climb taking photos, whilst I set about catching Steve up. I caught him up just after the first out and back of Hartsop Dodd. I introduced myself and we had a good chat about his run and how he was feeling. He said he was ok apart from the obvious deep fatigue, and blistered sore feet. He was certainly keeping a nice steady pace.

We continued with another guy out to Gray cragg, then started to collect support runners all the time before 5 of us were running with him to Thornthwaite Beacon. The weather was favourable and not as warm as it was when Steve set off 3 days earlier. It was a great day for running in the hills, I was really enjoying chatting to Steve right in the middle of his epic challenge. He also enjoyed my fresh admiration and enthusiasm for what he was undertaking. A lot of his support were familiar to him and had helped a lot since the start. So a random guy turning up gave him a bit of a boost. Even if I didn't help in most other ways.

Froswick and Ill Bell were soon behind us then on the final part of Yoke, Steve felt a pain in the top of his foot. He stopped at the top to take his shoe off and rub it. But not for long. Steve hobbling a bit we soon Started the tough descent off Yoke towards The Tongue. A place I have never been it was certainly interesting, but rough terrain. We then climbed the tongue spotting a couple of deer as we climbed. Then it was a fairly long run out to Baystones on the side of Wansfell. This is were I wished Steve all the best of luck and started descending towards the Kirkstone pass road. A quick drink with Mark outside the Kirkstone inn and we were off home. My toal run time was 3h 20m.

Steve continued on in fine style and finished on Sunday evening to set a new record of 6 days and 13 hours, he also raised a large amount of money for MS. A truly remarkable achievement.

25th May Helvellyn and the Dodds Fell race

15 miles  :  4,400 feet

This was my first go at this race. Which is pretty much an out and back to Helvellyn from Threlkeld cricket club. It includes the tough ascent of Clough head then great Dodd,  Raise and Helvellyn lower man before the turn back at Helvellyn summit. I think I still had some of the OCT race in my less than fit legs. I found this race super tough even though the weather was perfect after some pre race showers. But it should have been a good course for me, as it is quite runnable. I think on the way back I ran out of steam. I managed a  decent pace until the penultimate decsent of Great Dodd. I then feared I wouldn't even make the finish. I walked a lot of the last runnable climb to Clough ahead then just tried to make it to the line. Mark took a photo revealing a bit of my fatigue. But after that I collapsed to the grass verge and didn't move for about 5 minutes. I can't ever remember feeling so totally knackered after a relatively short race. Maybe too many races too close together with too little fitness.

I finished in 32nd place in 2h 52.48, Morgan Donnely won in 2h 13.36.

17th May The Old Counties Tops Fell race

37 miles : 10,000 feet

It was a beautiful day, maybe too nice as the heat would be enough to have an effect. Bill and I partnered up again, only a week after he thrashed me at Buttermere I knew as in for a tough time. We started off well enough and summited Hellvelyn about 10 minutes faster than last time. But after a good descent I realised Bill was definitely in better shape than me. I succumbed to walking part way up Wythburn Bill was still ok running but had to wait for me. In a complete contrast to last time. This continued all the way around . I was simply going as fast as I dare, so as to make it to the end. Meanwhile slightly ahead of me Bill was having an easy time enjoying the scenery and targeting Strava segments!

Still we did make the end after summiting the other 2 tops of Sca Fell Pike and the Old Man of coniston in a best time of 8h 52.09 and in 21st place out of 78 starters. The winners Spyke and J Morgan finished in 7h 10.45.

10th May Buttermere Sailbeck Fell Race

9 miles  : 4,300 feet

After a long bout of colds and sinusitis over christams and into the new year, I felt as overweight and unfit as I have for at least 5 years. So my comeback at Buttermere Sailbeck was going to be a case of giving it a go, as I was still a bit Chubby and my cardio and strength wasn't great either.

It was a mild day but with a forecast for wind and heavy rain, there was an air of tension. The last time this race was held sadly a runner died. The weather turned out to be not too bad. After Ard crags descent we then started the tough climb of Causey pike where it started to rain. On the ridge to Whitless pike the rain started to get very heavy. One of the bonuses to carrying a bit of fat (there aren't many for this in fell running) was I didnt,  have to put a jacket on, as many did. As i descended crag hill I went too far left, this didn't help matters as I was already pretty slow. Loosing two minutes or so just made my result a bit worse. But at least I was back in the game. my friend Bill Williamson had a great run and finished 27th overall and 2nd vet 50 in 1h 53.25. I finished 41st out of 104 in 2h 01.42. The winner Phil Davies finished in 1h 34.21.

Catch up on races since August 2013

After another long hiatus from this blog I have finally got around to updating some of my runs since the BOFRA race at Farleton Knott last August. The only runs of much note were the Manx mountain Ultra and the Ennerdale trail race and the Three shires and Langdale Fell races, this was mainly due to a contracted bout of the pudgy over The winter period. So nothing of note this year apart from the odd trip to the lakes to try and get fit for the Buttermere sail beck race, the Old counties tops and the Lakeland 100.

21st September 2013
The Three shires fell race
12.4 miles. 4,100 feet

The week after the cancelled Lake District mountain trial, I travelled to little Langdale with Mark and Ian Cookson to have another go at this race. It was a tricky day this year with a low cloud base making for tricky navigation. But apart from going to far down wet side edge and having to run back up the road to Three shires stone, it was a decent race for me. I finished 52 out of 211 in a time of 2h 34:33. Ian finished 164th in 3 hours 18. Ben Abdelnoor won in 2 hours 5.

28th September 2013
Manx mountain Ultra September 2013
31.1 miles   8,052 feet

I really love this race, it is like going on holiday combined with competing in  a great mountain race. It is an adventure just getting to the start line, and it is always good  to take a ferry to your destination. So that and my intent to not make mistakes on navigation this time and better my result of last year, made this a must for me.

I decided to start the race in a committed fashion like last year, but hoped not to go wrong and
maintain my pace better at the end. The weather was good , and not as windy as last year, although there was a stiff breeze when we made it to the top of the first climb, that of North Barrule. I enjoyed the run along the ridge this time , last time it was a fight against the wind, this time a pleasant ridge run with views back to Ramsay and a panoramic view of the sea and hills left to climb. It was a perfect day for running. No excuses not to beat last years time.

I followed some manx fell runners vests along the ridge ( never a bad idea) and occasionally overtook some of them, but I was more confident of the route this year, so I wasn't too hung up on following. The clear visibility also helped. The hills came and went with me just keeping a steady push pace going, mindful of the long distance to cover and the tough sting in the tail along the cliffs near the end. I overtook Mark Murphy, a quality local runner not, long after Snaefell then just concentrated on the correct route. I had no problems and passed through half way in good shape.

But I did worry about a new section that had slightly extended the route to avoid a long piece of road. But this was ok and flagged anyway. Next came the out and back to South Barrule, this was interesting as it gave me a chance to see who was in front, as I entered the field at the bottom the 2nd place runner was just leaving the field , followed further up by the 3rd,  4th, and not too far in front of me the the 5th.

After visitng south Barrule and continuingg along towards the cliffs I closed in on 4th placed Simon Halliday. We ran almost together until the penultimate decent , where he pulled away and finished 2minutes ahead of me. But I ran the end fairly stron and was pleased with 5th of 54 in 5hours 58 : 14.

12th October 2014
The Langdale Fell race
14 miles    4,600 ft

Just about recovered from the IOM race I decided to have a first attempt at this race. My photographer friend Mark accompanied me, and as usual took some great photos. He had a better day than me.

 I was having a reasonable run until near the end, on the descent off Crinkle crags. Towards the end of the decent just as I neared Pike o Blisco I tripped at high speed and was going head first towards rocks in that awful foreboding silence that comes before impact. In a desperate attempt to push myself away from the rocks, I impacted my hands very hard, particularly my right hand. I thought I had broken bones, but a trip to the hospital that night confirmed it was just badly bruised Meta carpels in my wrist. It was very sore for the next 2 months. I finished the race a bruised and battered, and at a slow pace. So wasn't too bothered that I finished 102 out of 382 in 2 hours 46 : 57. I was just glad to be getting off the hills under my own steam.

20th October 2013
The Ennerdale trail race
15.9 miles  1,456 ft

Hand still badly bruised, I decided Bills invite to stop over at his house and do this race was to good to refuse. Besides that I had already entered 3 weeks earlier. I knew this was my type of race, mainly uphill and runnable to start, with a mainly downhill fast finish.

Bill and I lined up with 117 others at the start of the 25K race. First we saw the start of the 10K, then the 50K. That built the tension, then we were off. Bill set off very fast around the southern shore of Ennerdale water. After about a mile I caught and past him. I then worked hard on the rolling wide
trails down the side of the water. The trail then heads up from the lake to the head of the valley just Beyond the Black Sail hut. A quick drink at the hut then it was a fast decent back to the opposite shore of Ennerdale, I overtook a few faster runners and a lot of slower ones, they were clearly on the 2 lap 50K race. Along the shore of the lake again and Bill had warned me that it is rough, he wasn't kidding. After 12 miles of nice running terrain this was very tricky on very slippery wet rocks. There was also a few inclines. Which when tired were tough. But by this time I knew I couldn't catch the guy ahead and the last guy I had passed was a long way behind. So I eased off slightly to finish in a pleasing, and surprising 4th place in 1 hour 54:17.

Bill finished 11th in 2 hours 10, and got a V40 prize , which was a rather nice Salomon rucksack. If only I was a year older. Never wished for that before. Chris Steele won the 25K race in 1 hour 39, and Ricky lightfoot set a new record time for the 50K, and amazing 3 hours 24.

Not to forget the cancelled 60th Lake District Mountain Trial in Borrowdale. A 140 mile round trip to find it had been cancelled due to severe wind and rain. My only trip to the lakes where Ihave not even had a walk. Ah well roll on next years.

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.