The Grand Tour of Skiddaw 29th August

44 miles  (48.4 for me)
7,180 feet

I had never done this race before, so a few weeks earlier I had a look at some of the route.  The route is essentially an 8.5 mile out and back to a long, 27 wish mile, circuit. The circuit includes a long climb up and over Skiddaw. Starting and finishing at Dalston School it forms a lollipop shape (Strava map). I only reconnoitred the circuit, and unfortunately I made an error after Peter house Farm during that recce. So felt that I had learned little about that area of the course. This wasn't a good omen. I was also going to trust that my memory of that circuit, and my ability to reverse the unrecced out bit, would get me home when the field was more strung out.

Race day was bright enough if a little chilly. But nice enough running conditions. After a nervy, short warm up we were off out of the school grounds and heading for the first CP at Caldbeck. This being at the end of the out and back, is also the last CP before the run to the finish. As we ran out of the 
school and down the by the river Liza, I stook to my strategy of setting off nice and steady. The other part to my plan was to follow runners that looked like the knew the way until the part I had recced. This worked out ok there was a good few 
of us setting off at a fairly fast pace following the river through the flat, then rolling farm fields. I began to close and pass a few of the ones that set off faster as they eased back a little. I kept my pace steady and by the first CP, and after a few doubts over the correct way, I was with a group of about 5 others. All men as i had now passed the 2 leading woman. A quick stop and we all set off together on the gradual then fairly steep climb to high pike. We all ran together for a mile or so then separated out. As the ground got steeper i pulled away from them to get a view of Micheal Irving about 300 meters ahead and Ken Sutor a further 400 meters ahead of Michael. I gradually closed up on Michael on the climb and subsequent short descent over the far side of High Pike. On the slightly undulating run  towards Skiddaw house i finally caught up with him. He was running at a good pace, so we ran together chatting for a while. To my surprise Ken was the leader of the race. Whilst running in the group earlier, i hadn't much idea of where the leaders were, and thought that there may have been 1 maybe 2 in front of Ken. Michael and being in 2nd and 3rd places was a boost to know.
We arrived at the next CP at Latrigg car park together, I made a quicker stop and just decided to get on with the biggest climb of the race up to the summit of Skiddaw. I left Michael and decided being in 2nd felt good so pushed on well up Skiddaw, to reach a very cold windy summit and ring the bell at the top. The marshals just nodded at me from a cairn such was the icy feeling of the wind. As i descended i got the feeling that i was building a handy gap and feeling strong. I was a bit worried about route finding as i was now totally running on my own. I knew Ken was a strong runner who was at least 20 minutes ahead so I now knew that if i was going to finish 2nd i was going to run the rest of the race alone.

I really enjoyed running down off Skiddaw on my own but not long after reaching the valley floor I Made a small mistake. Whilst going through Peter House Farm after about 30 miles. I carried straight on and meandered through a wood near a stream, rather than turning right through a field. I Maybe lost about 5 minutes. Then after the last CP I set off out of the CP and turned left instead of right. I didn't twig until I saw a sign for Keswick. Maybe an extra 2 miles distance and 18 minutes extra in time. I Retraced my route back to the CP to find out weather anyone else had gone through. The CP Marshals clapped as I arrived for the 2nd time (well 3rd but you know what i mean) at Caldbeck. Embarrassed I informed them that it was me again, and I was just checking if anyone had been through. I also checked with them as to where I should have gone. I was informed that just Ken Sutor and I had gone through, twice. So I cracked on, and tired in the final few miles. The guy in 3rd , Michael Irving, caught me, but after hearing my sob story he gracefully gave me 2nd. I think I may have got him in a sprint. But it was a nice gesture, to help appease my annoyance. Thanks to him, top guy. I suppose I have to be happy with 2nd whatever. Even without my errors I wouldn't have got near Ken Sutor. A deserved winner.

At the prospect of getting to meet the living legend that is Billy Bland, I decided to travel home then back the next day for the prize giving. It was great to get to chat to him about his fantastic fell running achievemens. He seemed fairly modest about his amazing BG record. Saying that it about the best he could do, hinting at the fact that he thinks it is beatable. It was a great way to end a great race. I'll be back next year, to hopefully go the right way and beat that time.

I finished 2nd out of 82 in 8 hrs 15.11. Ken Sutor won in 7 hrs 17.49.

Me, Ken Sutor, Billy Bland and 3rd placed Michael Irving.

The Prudent Riverside Half Marathon : 16th August

13.1 miles

Set off fast, got slower. knew a PB was out of the question. Walked a bit 12 miles in, struggled to the finish in 1 hr 24.04 in 8th place out of 124. Tom Charles won in 1 hr 10. 04.

PBs and placements don't really bother me too much, although it is nice to feel I've done well. What is important to me is to feel that I've run well and done my best. Unfortunately this was one of the races where I just unraveled and felt I had had a poor run.  Maybe too many races too close together.

The Lakeland 50 : 25th July

48.5 miles
9,000 feet

To date I have completed 3 Lakeland 100 races. This race is a circuit of 103.5 miles, so starting and finishing at the same place, Coniston. This year I decided on a different challenge, and as the 50 starts at approximately the half way point at Dalemain. The added novelty being that a coach ride to the start was required, and that it was then a run home. Or to the campsite anyway. Its always nice to run point to point like this.

It was a hot day but my problems were largely down to my sausage bun at  breakfast not agreeing with me. I started off fast on a hot day, and with high hopes of finishing at the sharp end of the field.  But by the top of High Cop (the first big climb 10 miles in) I realised this was to be a very unlikely outcome. I had to do something that I really don't like doing, and thats go way off the trail and find a place for a "comfort break". 5 minutes later I was back on my way to the 2nd CP at Mardale head. I felt a bit ropey, but hoped it may pass. It didn't. By the time I reached Mardale head CP I needed to make good use of the Portaloo. I seriously considered retiring here, but thought my discomfort may pass. So after a long break and some food, that I hoped would provide more energy than breakfast, I headed on up the tough climb of Gatesgarth Pass.

Although I never needed a "comfort break" again, I had other issues caused by my previous episodes. I felt lacking in energy and had to stop maybe 10 times to stretch out cramps in just about every muscle in both my legs. The first time being at the start of the little climb just before Kentmere. I felt instant clenching pain in both my hamstrings that reduced  me to embarrassingly writhe about on a grass verge. Cursing and grunting must have been an odd sight for all the competitors passing me. Then Debbie Martin Consani (went on to be 2nd Lady finisher) passed asking if I was ok, I said yes. But really meant no. But what could anyone do, apart from carry me to the finish line.  So I carried on and accepted my slowness, and muscles vibrating into spasm now and again. Sometimes I would stop for 20 seconds, other times for 2 minutes or more. But I must have stopped 15 plus times. Its hard to say how much time I wasted with this, but i would say at least 30 minutes. Plus the amount of time moving slow; that is harder to estimate. Before the race I did feel that I was in the shape to go well under 9 hours. Thats the main disappointment.

Towards the end I felt like I could run a bit better, but I still had to stop for a little stretch now and again. When the little vibrations in various muscles felt like they were going to clasp into spasm, it felt sensible to stretch them out before they really grabbed. The feeling of racing had long gone, and I knew my time was going to be a long way from what I was capable of. But I toughed out a very bad day, and took a bit of joy from that.

I came 25th out of 615 in 9 hours 38:09. Jayson Cavill won the race in 8 hours 04:24.

Whilst at the race I realised that they now hand out a plaque for 5 Lakeland 100 completions. As I have done 3, it is incentive enough to get 1 nearer to it next year. So I'm up for the Lakeland 100 in

Paul Tierney near the start, in about 8th place. He went on to win the Lakeland 100 by over an hour. Proving its not a race for a fast start. No photos of me as I didn't team them worth buying. Best to try and forget my first Lakeland 50.
Finally got around to adding the photos from races.
This is one of my favorites that I took earlier in the year  near the top of a Fairfield, with an unknown runner approaching.

and another on the same day near the end of my Ian Hodgson Relay route (most of) run. at Threshthwaite mouth.

Photos to follow.

Now that I'm upto date on the races I've done, I just need to add some photos ASAP.

Lancaster 5K race series #2

Sat 27th June

3.1 miles
As flat as you get

A simple flat fast course. A lap of Salt Ayre Athletics track, then an out and back partly on the cycle circuit, and partly on the cycle path down the river, then a lap of the Athletics track to finish.

In summary..... Start. Look at watch (5.00 mm) too fast, slow down (5.30mm) should be ok. Field strung out in front. Too far back, breathing too heavy. Push. Overtake a young lad then a few more. Someone shouts 5.40 1st mile, they are about right. Approach Half way "runner coming" cyclist leads the front pack. Sharp turn back down the same path. Breathing hard, blurs as runners behind going to the turn. Trying hard. Breathing hard. Shut up legs. (5.45 mm). Slowing down. Push ignore the watch. Hope I can keep it going. Around the Athletics track. Trying to keep it together. Push. One last effort. Finish line. Where is it? Has someone moved it? No it's there. Utter relief. Stagger to the infield and pour myself onto the grass feeling knackered..

No idea why I do 5k and 10K races, they are definitely the most painful.

I was 21st in 17:37 out of 118. Robert Hodgson won in 15:14.

Clougha Pike fell race

Sat 20th June

5 miles
1,260 feet

A misty drizzly start to the day meant a very low turnout of 37 for what is a great, tough little race, and the one most local to me. I look at it everyday (when visible) from where I currently live. So after missing it for a few years, I felt I must do it this time.

As ever the start was fast and immediately uphill on the typically rough farm fields. The mist created a strange atmosphere and nothing looked particularly familiar. After about 600m fellow Bowland runner Sean Bolland passed me puffing like a steam train (he maintained it well finishing 4th). I held about 8th position as we climbed clear of the farm fields and onto the open access land and finally the summits rocky ridge. It was on the ridge where I felt the pace and, to my surprise, had to walk some of the steeper  little ramps. It was a poor ascent, things could only improve, they did a bit. Chris Balderson passed me here and I used him to try and force some sort of pace to the summit. I followed Chris on the tricky little, flagged descent. Still in the mist it made it awkward to keep on track. As the fields flattened out I made a move and managed to pass Chris and 1 other. I just held on to run at full pelt down into the finishing field. I finished 7th in 45:01 and Anthony Dalton won in 40:55. Bowland fell runners made up the next 7 places after the winner!

The Windmill race (Caton Moor)

Sat 13th June

9.7 miles
1,136 feet

Part of the Caton Gala, the trail race is a mix of road, trail, farm fields and some open fell. On mainly slight inclines up to the Windmills and a gradual descent back down to the gala field. Apparently a few years ago there was a race associated with the Gala, but for whatever reason it stopped. This year was to be a new race based on a fairly new wind farm. Essentially a looped up and down to the wind farm on Caton moor.

The race start was fairly steady on narrow winding paths that lead out of the residential are of Caton, we then crossed numerous farm fields and many styles (something we would have to do on the way back) before meeting the road and the start of the loop up to the Wind-farm. It was a cloudy but humid day. On the long grinding uphill road section I began to get very hot. The lead 4 had strung out ahead with fellow Bowlander Mark Chippendale building a lead at the front. But I was pushing as hard as I dare. About 2 miles up this section the eventual winner passed me, showing its about measuring your effort!

As we left the road to join the trail around the back of the Wind-farm there was a water station, I poured most of it over my head. It helped a bit. After a quick loop of one of the Windmills we defended down the open fell, before joining the road we had come out on. For me it was then just a  case of holding on. I made no impression on anyone in front. I managed to hold my position to finish 5th in 1h:07:38 out of 85. Harvey Lord won in 1h:04:32 overtaking Mark in the last 1 mile through the farm fields.

Borrowdale Trail race

Sun 7th June

13.2 miles
2,036 feet

Really enjoyed this one. Maybe I'm more of a trail runner than road or fell? There is 3 options of race distances,the Sca fell pike marathon the Buttermere trail race (half marathon) and the 13k. Registration for all 3 was at the Keswick side of Derwent water, the race starts were on the Catbells side at Nicol end marina. This meant a half hour walk, or a quick boat journey across, which is the option I took. It's a nice quirk of the event. The only problem I had was that the Sca fell pike marathon set off at 9am, our race was 11 am meaning all the car park spaces were gone, so I parked in the main Keswick CP, costing £7. Ouch.

There was also a triathlon on at the time from the same field on the shore of Derwent water. This  added to a really nice atmosphere. After a quick ferry crossing, and a short warm up we were ready. Conditions were warm but pretty much perfect. A short briefing and we were off on this extended horseshoe loop of Derwentwater. It is a rolling course on mainly good trails with a few gates to open, and a few road sections. There are 2 main climbs at 6 miles to Castle crag col and at 8 miles out of Rosthwaite up to Wattendlath.

The start was pretty swift and straight away 3 men pulled clear and extended a gap of about 200m in the first 2 miles. I was running with a guy just in front and one right on my heels. This was the case up to the first climb up to Castle crag col. One of the lead 3 had slowed a touch and we caught him on the climb, the lead pack was now a duo about 300m ahead. On the descent I pulled out a slight gap on the 2 now running with me. They the caught me on the flat section through Rosthwaite. On the longest climb up to Watendlath I pulled out a gap on them, they began chatting behind me and formed a pair to take on the climb. I knew I had a bit left and started thinking about the 2 in front.

On the rolling trail around Watendlath I sterted to get a view of the guy in 2nd. On this more technical trail I started to close in on him. As I was about to overtake the water station came into view, so I held back. I took some water he didn't and it took me a couple of miles to close back up. By this time were overtaking some of the slower 13K runners and the trail became very narrow. After a few hundred meters of feeling held up I tried to overtake. But I went through a gorse bush that had a bramble draped through it. This scraped my leg as if a lion had swiped at me. Still I had got passed. I then worked hard, too hard, to get a gap. By the time the downhill trail had flattened out I figure I was 50 meters ahead and now in 2nd. Unfortunately I felt drained, my legs felt heavy I felt like I had made my effort too early. I knew it was only a matter of time before Rob passed me to regain his 2nd place. With about a mile to go he did, I was more worried about the possibility of losing 3rd place. Luckily we had a fairly good gap and even though I felt slow, I was never really likely to lose 3rd place out of 112, and 1st V40.

I won another rucksack (identical to the one from the Buttermere trail race) and some Mountain fuel sachets and a bottle. Happy win that. My time was 1h:41:32, Rob Downs 2nd was 1h:40:47, and the winner was Russell Parrington 1h:40:19.

Ingleton Scenery race

Thur 28th May

4.2 miles
620 feet

This was the 1st Ingleton scenery race. A midweek evening race on the waterfalls footpath. A quick blast on lots of stairs. After getting stuck behind the 1st lady on the narrow paths on the way up, I could only manage 17th. Maybe if I could have passed earlier, that could have been 3 or 4 places higher. My time was 33:54, Tom Duncan won in 29:27. A strong field turned up mainly from the west coast Lakeland area making up the numbers in a good sized field  of 93. It was an interesting race, but too many stairs for my liking. I think this was a one off race for me.

Old Counties Tops race

Sat 16th May

35.3 miles
10,220 feet

Very cold windy this year, but I still managed to complete it in a T-shirt and a thin Gilete. We set off fairly quick, but Bill had missed a lot of training, meaning after Greenup edge we had to slow down. Bill had severe cramp on the steep descent of Sca fell Pike slowing us further. It was the a case of just complete and try to beat last years time. We didn't, but we got around in 9h:03:54 and 34th out of 97. Martin Mickelson Barron and Adam Perry won in 6h:48:22

Buttermere Sailbeck race

Sat 9th May

9.5 miles
4,036 feet

Cool, cloudy and perfect weather for a proper fell race. The climb up Causey Pike at about half way never gets any easier. I felt slow here as others I had passed earlier, passed me. I was reasonably strong after that though. I made a slight error on the last part of the last descent off Whitless Pike. This meant I lost my race long battle with the leading lady Catherine Spurden to finish 19th in 1h:53:21 out of 115. Simon Booth won in 1h:34:29.

Wray Caton moor Fell race

Mon May 4th

6.3 miles
986 feet

The race is part of the scarecrow festival, which was an interesting aside as I have never been to it before. A nice sunny day also helped me enjoy the busy event. The race was a quick up and down of the local hill, Caton Moor. It started fast out of the main festival street then up a steep hill the onto the open fell side via a trail or two. By the time we reached the open fell I was in about 8th place. The lead 2 were now quite distant. But fellow Bowlanders Quentin (in 5th) and Mark Chippendale (in 3rd) were still in sight.

Then the summit neared and the leaders came into view, the gap to the leaders didn't appear too big but in reality I wasn't going to catch them. I tried hard on the rough boggy climb overtaking a couple. Then gave it everything on the descent, but only maintained 6th position ( in 48:22) to the finish. Still a good result out of 141 runners. I also won a mini Scarecrow and a beer, as part of the winning team (Bowland FR). Mark Chippendale was 3rd, Quentin was 5th, Michael Cayton won in 43:10.

Anniversary waltz Fell race

Sat April 18th

11.6 miles
3,638 feet

Hot and sunny, too hot really . But I wasn't complaining. I set off fast and was up with the leaders (the cream of the crop were at an English counter) until the first gentle climb up the road leading to Robinson. When it steepened on the walking climb up to High snap bank I felt the pace and slowed down, feeling tired I just plugged away. On the run along the summit I started to pick up a bit and feel more comfortable.

I ran most of Hindscarth and all of Dale head, this is where I passed Fellow Bowlander Sam Harrison. I kept the pace even and on my new preferred line off Dale head Simon Booth passed me, he was the leader in the Teenager With Altitude race (it shares the same route to the end, joining at Robinson summit). I managed to stay with him until near the top of High spy.
On the run to the finish I could see Mark Irving ahead but could only closed to about 500m by the descent off Catbells. Still I managed to finish in a pleasing 14th in 1h:54:10 out of 192 runners. Jack wood won the race in 1h:41:47.

Lancaster 3 bridges 10k

Sun 12th April

6.2 miles
130 feet

Wet windy cold. Again. Not a day for a PB. I pushed it hard for the first 3 miles with the wind at my back but felt the effort was too much. On the stairs to the aqueduct I felt I needed to ease off. At this point I lost 5th place. I felt like i was hanging on as we headed back into the strong wind. I really doubted if I could make it. But I pushed on and just about managed to hold onto 6th place with a time of 37:15 and 1st V40 by default as V40s were in the top 3. Getting Butler won in 33.38 out of 282 finishers.

Buttermere trail race

Sun 29th March

10 miles
1,048 feet

This year I decided to enter more trail races. By racing at Ennerdale the last two years I have discovered  that I enjoy them. I think because a lot of my training is on the roads and flatfish terrain they suit me better then fell races. So after a long a recce a month earlier (from Stair in Newlands valley over Robinson and back over Robinson and Hindscarth)  I discovered that this route is very tricky underfoot for the first 5 miles and the final 5 miles are slightly more undulating but easier underfoot.

Race day was wet and cold, so the first 5 miles would be even trickier on wet slippy rocks. After getting cold at the briefing we were off on a relentlessly fast pace. I hoped to keep the lead guys in sight for a while but on the easier underfoot initial section they disappeared around the slight bends and rises. I found myself in a pack of about 5 runners with the lead 8 or so strung out. I settled into as harder pace as I dare and just kept pushing on the increasingly awkward section along the west shore of crumock water. It certainly felt a whole lot warmer with the fast pace and clearing rain.

I was unwittingly about to become involved in the fight between Lizzie Adams and Heidi Davies for the win. 2 miles in I overtook Lizzie. 4 miles in Heidi overtook me. Then Lizzie overtook us both another mile later. Then Heidi overtook me. At mile 6 I just tried to hang onto them. No one else was around at this point. This was my race. At mile 8 the route goes up into the valley and back here I mangled to see what I now know was the  third and fourth places guys running back down. At the bridge where you turn to go back down Heidi slipped, I asked her if she was ok, she said she was. So I continued. She was ok as after a short descent then road section she caught and passed me and closed in on Lizzie on a short sharp climb. I now had a front row seat for the battle for 1st lady. As I wasn't quick enough to battle for the men's win, I suppose it was second best. At the top of the climb Lizzie pulled out a lead and extended it down to a road crossing. I overtook Heidi and we all legged it for the last 1 mile to finish in that order. Lizzie 1st lady 5th overall, me 6th in 1h:12:13 1st V40, Heidi 2nd lady 7th overall. Paul Wathan won in 1h:07:48 a total of 191 finished.

Middle fell race

Sat 21st March

6.5 miles
1,740 feet

A beautiful day for a simple out and back race. It goes from the screes pub in nether was dale on slightly undulating trails for 1.8 miles. Here you reach the foot of Middle fell at Greendale bridge. Then it's an up and down to the summit of Middle Fell and back the same way.

I felt like I had a good start on the trails but as soon as we hit the slopes of Middle fell I had to walk all the runners around me seamed to ascend and descend faster. I ran as much of the flatter upper sections as I could before a tired descent. I then pushed on to finish reasonably strong in a time of 60.29 good enough for 15 th place out of 78. Tom Addison headed a quality field to finish in 49.22.

Black Combe Fell race

Saturday 14th March

8.2 miles
3,300 feet

I had my eye on doing this race for a few years, but either the weather was bad or I didn't feel fit enough. I didn't know the weather was going to be perfect, but I felt reasonably fit. So I made the trip around the coast to Silecroft to give it a go.

Off we went through a few gradually sloped fields then up a steep climb, I felt like I had almost come to a halt as I battled the slope and the crowds around me. I struggled up onto the flatter plateau then never really felt comfortable all the way to the summit. It was all very runnable but I felt like I was pushing hard to maintain any sort of pace.

After the summit it's a very runnable descent down and around to White Combe. I had followed fellow Bowland runner Chris Reade all the way to here. By the end of the descent off White Combe I was right on his heals. On the disarmingly tough climb back up onto Black Combe Chris pulled out about a 200 meter gap. I felt like I was trudging this climb, no running at all even though the gradient should allow for it, at least on some occasions. Maybe my fitness still wasn't quite there.

I struggled to the summit then ran well down this very nice descent. I closed in a bit on Chris but he still finished a good 100 meters ahead. Still I was reasonably pleased to finish 50th /213 in 1h 27.22. Rob Jebb won his first race as a V40 in 1h 09.14.

The Bleasdale Circle Fell race

Saturday 21st February

5 miles
1,250 feet

As this is the first Bowland organised race of the year I decided to also make it my first race of the year. Not really at full fitness or lightness, I wasn't expecting too much. Beating my previous time of 48 ish minutes would do. So I went through the usual procedures and gathered with the rest in the schools yard for a head count. A little bit of a dusting of hail and we were off. Up the road then onto the slightly undulating  boggy fields, and after a short time I caught Graham Lund. This was unexpected as he was really strong last year with some great races at the sharp end. After a mile or so the climb starts. It's runnable at first and at this point I passed Chris Reade another strong runner that I never expected to pass. Buoyed by this I started the steep hands on knees climb to the top of Fair snape. Patchy melting snow made things a bit tricky, but it was no excuse for me tripping and doing a forward roll just after the summit. I think my legs were just a bit dead. The run across slightly down off Fair snape then slightly back up to Parlick is normally I joy, but the melting snow made it slippy and tricky. Still we all got on with it and powered on. I felt like I ran this fairly well a 6.23 mile on Strava showed this. Up onto Parlick , a quick hello to fellow Bowland runner Ian Cookson, and then it was just the steep descent, then tracks and muddy fields to go. I got passed on the descent which isn't normally the way for me when fit and I couldn't catch him all the way to the end. I felt tired on the slightly uphill boggy fields and just about held it together through the tricky wooded section, and over the line.

I finished 18 th / 136 in 44.12. A big PB so happy a with that. Rob Hope won in 36.29. Chris finished in 44.58 and Graham in 46.47.

315 Lancaster half Marathon

Sunday 7th December

A month after the Lancaster half I decided on having a go at this race as I had enjoyed doing the Lancaster half marathon so much. I thought maybe sub 80 minutes might just be possible. It is another fast course and feels flatter than the Lancaster half, but according to Strava, it has slightly more ascent in it. I had a good run, in good weather, and really enjoyed it. I missed out on sub 80 minutes, that will have to wait for next year. But I still managed a PB of 1 hour 21.04  which was 7th out of 165 and 2nd V40. Luckily for me a V40 won the race (1h 13.41) so I got a bottle of wine.

The Lancaster half marathon

Sunday 2nd November

As I can walk to this race it always feels like I should have a go at it. There is always the challenge of getting a PB as well. Although I do a lot of my training on the roads, I rarely do races on them. So doing local road races makes a lot of sense, it's also nice to mix up the races.

So, as is now tradition, on the morning of the race I walked there; this time with Phyllis. It was to be her 2nd half marathon race after doing the Great North run. The point to point aspect of which has always appealed to me, but I have never got around to giving it a go. Like the GNR the Lancaster half is a fast course, the only tough part being a reasonable sized hill at the 8 mile point and a gradual climb at 9 miles. So I set off at 6 minute 30 sec miles, with a PB in mind. I had a good run and maintained steady miles at around 6.20 min. The only time I struggled was on the 2 hills at the 8-9 mile point. After that I felt I kept the pace pretty well to the end.

I finished in a PB of 1 hour 22: 42 good enough for 15th out of 658. I was also 2nd V40 by 6 seconds. Phyllis broke her 2 hours target by a minute to set a new PB too.

The Ennerdale trail race

The Ennerdale trail race

Sunday 19th October
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.