Not quite the Anniversary Waltz.

27th Dec
10.5 miles 3,400 feet

Will and I decided to have a jaunt up to the lakes and go on familiar-ish ground, given the likelihood of tough conditions. We chose to do the Anniversary Waltz Fell race route. The drive up wasn’t too easy and we spent 20 minutes attempting to back track from an ever worsening side road that leads to the Cat Bells car park. I made several attempts to get up an icy incline whilst Will, shod in Fell shoes, pushed from behind. Eventually we made it, and rightly or wrongly we parked at the Stair village hall car park, as it was the only spot we could reach.

The run to the start of Robinson was in fairly shallow snow, so wasn’t too tough. This was to change. As we started up the track onto Robinson the snow got ever deeper and it was now as Will put it “donkey work”. We would normally run this section until the start of the steep bank onto High Snab Bank. But we had to trudge through 10 inch deep snow. This, we now realised, was going to be a tough day. The clouds that shrouded the summits looked ever more threatening and far from thinking of extending the race route, I was now thinking weather we would make It that far.

The steep incline was tough and near the top of High Snab Bank we had to kick steps in 2 feet deep snow; hard graft. Going over the rock steps proved equally tough and in making sure of good hand holds - on the icy rocks under the snow - made for slow but safe progress. By now we were into the clouds and a total white out, at best we could make out a rock now and again for a visual reference. Whilst trying to find the summit, it was hard to tell if we were going up or down. 1 hour and 30 minutes it had taken to reach the top of Robinson. In the race earlier this year I think it had taken me just over 55 minutes. When we descended into a gully that leads to scope beck – the wrong way, and ended up in thigh deep snow, we realised that it was a day that needed to be cut short.

We tracked along the dog leg to Hindscarth and did a few circles of the summit in a confused sort of way. We intended to go straight over the top and down into Newalands valley. After a few hundred yards Will realised that the 2 sets of footprints in the snow were ours from our ascent. So the compass came out and we eventually started going the right way. We then followed the tracks that a couple and there dog had made, off the fell and into the valley. It was a tough day and we only covered about 10 miles in 3 ½ hours, but it was a good final outing for 2009.

Marks mid winter BG

18/19th December
16 miles 6,800 feet

An appeal by mark for some help on leg 3 of his mid winter BG attempt was too tempting to miss out on. I only know Mark from his Blog about his summer and winter rounds. He accepted my offer and Will joined me for a foray up to Dunmail raise on a cold Saturday morning.

On our arrival at Dunmail there was no wind, but the air temperature was minus 5 and getting out of Wills van meant getting instantly cold. We met Mark at 04:30 he was doing well and was 10 minutes up on his 22 hours 50 mins schedule. I was glad to get going as I was very cold, ascending Steel fell was hard work, as always, so we all soon warmed up. All was Bob Wightman, Will Houghton, Dave Hindley, Ian Charters and I. We reached the first few tops without too much incident and it was nice to run in the light dusting of snow. By Harrison Stickle the rest of the group decided not to go to the summit so I Accompanied Mark and this happened on Pike o Stickle as well. We negotiated a reasonable route back off this rocky little summit. Soon we caught back up with the group and we crossed Mart Crag moor for Rosset pike. On a steep bit of grass I slipped on to my back, luckily my rucksack broke my fall. And unbeknown to me, at the time, one of Marks rice puddings.

The sunrise was beautiful on Bow fell and along the Sca fell Plateau. It was a pleasure just to be there. If it wasn’t for all the snow and the fact that the water bottles kept freezing, I wouldn’t have thought it was -10 at least. I continued to go to the summits with mark as various members of the group took their turns to accompany us. On Sca Fell Pike, feeling tired, Bob decided to descend straight to Wasdale and leave us. I really felt good and it all felt easy, I think it was just a good day for me; there was a small part of me that whished I had set off with Mark to have a dig at it. Maybe in a couple of year’s time I will, it certainly inspired me to think seriously about it again. Mark announced that the guy that was to rope Broad stand was ill, so we would go via fox’s tarn. This was to prove a long diversion and one of the toughest ascents. However it was the descent of Sca Fell that took its toll on Marks legs and he dropped back with Ian as Will, Dave and I carried on to Brackenclose car park.

About 10 minutes later Ian and Mark arrived ready for his break. Mark started his round at 19:50 from Keswick he left Wasdale half an hour down on his 23 hour schedule. Worsening weather prevented a sub 24 hour round. But he made it around in 24:22. A great effort, and a great way for me to round the years adventures off. Or is there time for 1 more?

Some more photos

The Welsh 3000s

......Will have to wait until next year.

28th Nov
11 miles 5,700 feet

Sometimes the weather is just too bad no matter how much you want to do something. The risks are sometimes too great. Today was the first time that I have been thwarted by the weather on a challenge. The Welsh 3000s will have to wait until the summer.

The challenge is simply to set foot on all the 3,000 foot peaks in Wales in one continuous effort. Luckily these all happen to be within 22 miles of each other. The time starts when you set foot on the first summit and ends on the last summit. This can either be Snowdon to Foel-Fras – as we had planned or Foel Fras to Snowdon, traversing the 13 peaks in-between.

Will, Bill and I were kindly driven to Llanberis by Ian. Setting off at a ridiculous hour we arrived at Llanberis to sleet and then snow. I had never been over Crib Goch, but was aware of its exposed ridges. Bill had; and before we got out of the car he was saying it wasn’t going to be safe with our level of kit today. I was hopeful of at least doing some of the route. It had just turned to daylight as Ian joined us up Snowdon. On the way up we decided to scrap the idea of doing the 3000s and go to Snowdon summit then Carnedd Ugain and do the rest of the route that we did a couple of weeks ago down to Llanberis.

Our decision proved to be a good one. We passed 2 hardy mountain bikers pushing there bikes up through the ever deeper snow. As we approached the top of Snowdon we used the railway track as the drifts were quite deep and awkward. The combination of snow on the ground, snow drifts and low cloud made for a very cold hostile environment. Coming off the summit the wind whipped the snow into our eyes. We had ice coated jackets and it was thoroughly unpleasant. I even lost my balaclava on the way up Carnedd Ugain, I was trying to put it on for the first time. Gutted. Thank god we weren’t going to do another 14 of these. It would have been a very long day even if we could have negotiated Crib Goch.

The rest of the route was at a lower level, and by comparison much, much warmer, there was still snow on the ground though. We finished the run, and as is now customary, had a feed in Pete’s eats. Not the day I had imagined but I suppose a true if disappointing adventure.

The PB Snowdon leg in daylight.

15th Novemnber 2209
12 miles 6,200 feet

Ian, Will and I decided to do leg 4 of the Paddy Buckley in preparation for their joint effort in June 2010. We left the car in a lay by at pont caer gors and set off for Craig wen. The weather was decent for November and we made good progress to the next top Yr Aran where we tested two different routes down. I went the longer route out to a wall and dog legged around on very slippery rocks, whilst Will and Ian went the direct route off the top. It was a little amusing to see them struggling down the toughest bit of scrambling on a rocky ridged outcrop. They picked the worst line down possible. But as Will said when you haven’t been that way before it is hard to know, until its too late. Needless to say the long route was best.

On Snowdon the weather closed in at it rained for the next hour or so. We got the line off Canedd Ugain wrong and ended up in some crags that we had to re-ascend to contour back onto the route. Looking at the maps afterwards I realised that we crossed the track that we should have followed oops.

The weather faired up and we finished the run over the smaller hills ending on Moel Ellio and the nice run down to Llanberis. A feed in Petes Eats refuelled us for the Taxi back around to the car.

It was good to do the whole leg in daylight for the first time. All the other times have been either me doing the round (twice, once successful) or supporting a round, all of which are done at night.
We did the leg in 4 hours 15 mins, not bad considering the unscheduled detour.

River Lune Source to Sea

Finally I had no major commitments, I wasn’t recovering or training for anything, and the weather was forecast to be good. All I had to do was convince Diane - my sister – to drop me off somewhere on a track out of Ravenstonedale. I managed to overcome this last hurdle and on Saturday morning at 07:35 I set off to locate the source of the River Lune.

After 25 minutes of following a small stream then contouring onto the side of Green Bell, I was admiring the start of the Lune as it spread down the hillside and into the valley far bellow. As this was the first time I had been here I took a few moments to admire the vista in the early morning sun. A few wispy non threatening clouds licked the surrounding hills. I was luckily in the clear. Seeing this trickle, below my feet, start off on its journey 52 miles to the open sea was awe inspiring. Just as I imagined it would be.

Almost reluctantly I set off running beside the trickle as it formed into a stream. Criss-crossing it and thinking soon I wouldn’t be able to do this without wading or swimming across. Into Newbiggin on Lune and the first bit of micro navigation through farms and tracks took me onto the main road that my sister and I had travelled in on an hour ago. I tracked this for the next 4 miles. I could, at times, have been nearer to the River but I decided it was too complicated and often impossible to be right on the banks. So I decided I would track the line of it keeping as close as was reasonable for its entire length. After running on the grass at the side of the road admiring the view of the far Lakeland hills, I was glad to turn off onto a minor road towards Tebay. At Tebay I made a toilet stop in the Tea rooms, handy I thought as I left. But ½ a mile down the road I realised that I had left my main map behind. I thought of doing the run without it, but I had never done any of this part (I only new the section from Devils Bridge on) so this was not an option. Running all the way I retraced my steps looking for any signs of it just in case I had dropped it. I hadn’t I had left it on the toilets cistern; thankfully no one had used the toilet since. I grabbed it like a relay baton, and mighty relieved I continued

The next part tracked the Lune on farm tracks about 150 feet above it and level with the M6 on the other side of the valley. After a few wrong turns going through farms and lots of map reading I ended up on the Dales Way. This made navigation much easier but still didn’t stop me going astray just before Sedbergh. I arrived at Sedbergh having ran most of the 18 miles so far, I realised here that the farm tracks styles, gates, and navigation were making my progress slow. I think if it had been on roads all the way, it would have took me about 2 hours 45 mins to get there not the 3 hours 20 that it actually took. Never mind I would just have to do more running. I got to the bridge were I had stashed 2 bottles of Lucozade and 1 SIS energy bar 2 days earlier. I wasn’t shocked that the wildlife had eaten my energy bar, but I was shocked that they had drunk one of my bottles; thank god they didn’t want the other one. This meant that I would only have 1 ½ litres form the source to my next stop at the crook o lune. Not really enough for 28 miles and 5 ½ hours of running but never mind it would have to do.

A quick 3 minutes breather and I was off. Map in hand navigating more farms and tracks for a while then onto a main road. I could have stayed on the road all the way to Kirkby Lonsdale to catch some time back, but decided to be true to the line. I ventured off the road twice to be nearer to the Lune once near Hollins and once at Treasonfield. On the 2nd of these ventures I had my first bad patch and thought I had better eat and drink some more. I had an energy bar and in the process lost part of one of my back teeth, thankfully I had no pain from it. I then had a 4 minute break at Devils Bridge, sitting on the seats admiring the busy scene before me. I contemplated how much light I would have. It was 13:30 and on my recce run in August it had taken me 4 hours 20 minutes from here. I thought I would be pushing it light wise. I didn’t want to finish it in the dark. This was now a race against the sun.

All too soon I was back on the move running through the cow fields out of Kirkby Lonsdale. I new the route from here and was glad to be on familiar territory at last. I pushed it in the ever warming temperatures. Keen to finish the run before sunset. I loved this section it was much nicer than I remembered it from the recce. The cows seemed less threatening as well. I reached the Crook O Lune and had my longest break here. It was worth waiting for a gorgeous bacon and egg bun. 15 minutes later I ran off down the cycle track, I was on home territory now. So much so that, unlike the rest of the route, I barely even gave the river a glance. Head down I pushed through a, post large feed, bad patch. Recovered my stashed 2 bottles at Denny Beck and pushed it. I only had 2 walking breaks of 2 minutes each, all the way to the end. I noted the width of the river and how it had widened from a trickle to, for the most part 20 feet wide, then eventually to about 200 feet wide were I was now.

I made my way through Glasson and through the last farm to breast the small rise and catch my first close up glimpse of the end. Plover scar light house was fully out of the water. My run would be longer but more satisfying. On my last run I couldn’t get onto the light house as the tide was half in. I made my way across the skier and onto the edge of the lighthouse. I recollected standing at the trickle that starts the flow of this river; it certainly is a great journey. The sun was just about to set; I retraced my steps 2 miles to Glasson Dock car park just before dark.

In total I had run 57 miles, 2,707 feet of ascent and 4,370 feet of descent, and tracked the Lune for 52 (river length 44 miles) of the miles in 9 hours and 37 minutes starting at 08:03 and finishing at 17:40 hrs. Thanks to my sister (Diane) for her assistance, even when feeling under the weather.

Setting off for the source

Glasson Dock car park, after returning from the end at Plover Scar.

Bills Ramsay Round take 2

19th September 2009
Will and I Joined Bill on the 1st leg ; Glen Nevis to Loch Treig Dam.
20 miles and 10,500 feet

Hindsight tells me this round is very tough when done in the later months of the year, when there is less daylight. Bill admits it was a speculative attempt based on the fact that he could have completed all 3 rounds (B.G. P.B and RR) in a 12 month period. Remembering how tough the lack of light was on his BG – done at the same time of last year – this was always going to be a big ask.

Will and I steeled ourselves for supporting Bill on his first leg out of Glen Nevis, on a cold September night. At midnight we set off with Bill on the toughest leg of the round from Glen Nevis to Ferseit Dam. Will and I felt a bit loaded down for the long journey ahead, and by Red Burn Will agreed that we should have set off earlier and let Bill catch up at Red Burn to make it easier for us. No matter we were off and it felt good to be on the highest of Scotlands hills in the night and looking down on the surrounding lights. We traversed the Ben and Carn Mor Dearg without incident. However travelling on this rough ground at night a bit loaded down was more wearing than I had imagined. Bill was navigating as he was the most experienced on these hills (Will and I had never been on them at night). We took a line to far to the left off CMD and ended up lined up on a very steep grassy way up Aonoch Mor. This felt like torture – Bill has since apologised – Will and I felt beasted by this torturous ascent. By the top and the start of the out and back to the summit we were tired, we let Bill go and do the out and back and took a break on the wind swept plateau. Will and I hugged the ground to keep warmer out of the chilly wind.

All too soon Bill was back and we headed off over Aonoch Beag then a good line onto Sgurr chonich Mor. I felt we were moving fast, but as I recorded the times I noted that by now we were 20 minutes down on schedule (this schedule was based on daylight at this point). I think the combination of having a weight on your back and not being able to spring from rock to rock because of the weight in conjunction with the lack of light, made it feal like we were moving much faster than we were. Most of the route from the Ben to Stob coirie claurie we were trying to catch Bill.

As we took the summit of Stob coirie claurie and headed for Stob coirie an laugh Will began to fall back on the long undulating ridge so I made an effort to catch Bill and at the same time I was explaining out plan to miss out Stob Ban he suggested it. It would, in theory, give Will and I breather. Well that was the theory antyway. I waved Bill off. Little did I realise at the time that I would not see Bill for another 2 h 20 mins and Will wouldn’t see him again until meeting back at the climbers hut (the teams base).

In the still dark morning 5:40 I think, we made an error and ended up way to the left of Stob Ban on a really rough decent line to Stob Coire Essain. We realised that catching Bill anytime soon was going to be tough in our knackered state; the night had took its toll on Will and I wasn’t too great either. We made our way down and across to start a chase for Bill. Will soon told me to carry on and go on my own. I made my way for the col between Stob coire Easain and Stob a Choire Mheadhoin. When I got on the side of Easain I realised that I had to scramble up and over, going around was not possible, far too steep. As I crawled up and over the top I looked down to the col (my original target) and there was Bill just starting up Stob a Choire Mheadhoin. Renewed with energy I chased him as if in a fell race and caught him the top, I have never felt more wiped out. I gasped a few sorries and gave him some water and food. We were off for the dam now, and Bills first proper break.

Embarrassed by my foolish error I made every effort to encourage Bill for the next section. He was 1 hour down but had done the toughest part. The weather looked iffy. By the time Bill left the dam with his fresh supporters the wind had got stronger and was blowing white horses down loch treig.

Behind Will had bonked and was in a bit of a bad way. I had shouted from a scrambling position on the side of Stob coire Easain not to follow me. Luckily he didn’t. But whilst descending Stob coire Easain he felt worn out and rested at the col before re grouping and eventually getting to the dam 1 hour after we had left. Rob waited for him.

After re-fueling and sleeping at the Climbers hut, at 5 pm we heard the disappointing news that on the 2 hills into the Mamores Bill had called it a day. The weather had worsened to a point were it was knocking Bill around. With another set of darkness ahead and a long way to go, it was the right decision.

It was a brave effort but this is a tough round, and to have less light makes it very tough. I think it would have been a big ask even in perfect weather. Given a good day around the middle of next year I am sure Bill will tick the last of his big 3 rounds off.

Thanks to Ian Charters for the use of his photos (Ians Blog, taken on leg 2, When the weather varied between lovely sunshine and heavy showers.

The Hodder Valley Show Fell Race

12th Sept 2009
7.5 miles 1,000 feet
This was a good day out, as it was part of the Hodder Valley show. It had a good fun mix of activities and competitions including an entertaining tug o war.
I had a good run pushing hard on a course that was ideally suited to me – a nice undulating out and back course with a loop on some steeper ground. I managed to gain places on the return down the more technical descent and maintain my position on the rest of the undulating road and fields to finish strongly in 13th place out of 66 runners in 56:03. This was my best ever finish in a Fell race. Will also had a good run, he finished in 30th in 60:39 and Ian finished strong in 62:29.
It made me start thinking of trying to get a top 10 finish next year. Picking a small race and a bit more speed training, I may just be capable. It will be fun trying anyway.

The North Face Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc 2009

My strategy for the lead up to 18:30, and the race start, was simple, to stay off my feet and out of the sun for as long as possible. I decided to hibernate in my hotel room most of the day and only leave to take my Cormayeur kit bag at 17:50 hrs. I decided not to queue up at the start line for the briefing and instead rested by the river. 10 minutes before the start I made my way over to the carnival atmosphere at the start area, and lined up near the back. 2 minutes of silence to contemplate our run, then the usual foreboding – French foreign legion - music and we were off squashing our way through the start line. The streets were narrowed by the sheer weight of the supporters who cheered us off. After 5 minutes I managed to get into a steady run, the race had now begun, we were off. It crossed my mind as to weather I complete the huge circuit and run through the streets we were leaving behind; to finish in god knows how many hours time.

After a small climb through the woods we descended down to Les Houches, we would now start the first proper climb and it was the usual story of dodge the poles. This year I decided against poles again, most people say they help, but the idea of a mechanical aid doesn’t sit well with me, with regards to the purity of the run. About 90% of the field didn’t agree with my philosophy. Part way into the climb my stomach started to give me pain, I cast my mind back to last year and thought oh no not again - last year I set off with a less than settled stomach, which didn’t ease – but by the top of La Charme it had gone and would never return - no wonder babies cry when they get trapped wind. A swift descent into the ever darkening valley found me in Saint Gervais and the first rest point. The support here was amazing, running in along the high street high fiving the kids, to cheers of Bon Courage and allez allez. This was an amazing level of respect that would continue throughout the run.

I got into my routine here; pick up a bottle of water fill the bladder in the rucksack; put in a salt tablet, and then forage for food, some to eat there and then, and some that could be carried. My diet on the run consisted mainly of cheese salami and crackers, dark chocolate, fruit loaf and little bars of muesli and plain chocolate pieces to carry along with me. After 6 minutes I was off into the night and heading for Les Contamines. This is a short run but has a deceptive amount of climb in it. I enjoyed it as there was lots of support and it felt good to be moving easily. Les Contamines came and went and I soon set off for the start of the biggest climb up to Col Du Bonhomme.

A break at La Balme to re stock and I set off on the steepest part of the climb. By now it was 1 am and we were further into the hills so the support was few and far between until Cormayeur. I was almost glad of that as no one – apart from worried fellow runners – saw me fall over a steep grass verge and down the steep wall of the trail. It felt very steep, but luckily I managed to break my fall by slapping my arms on the trail as the rest of my body slid down the cliff edge. A few worried runners made to grab my arms, but I managed to climb up myself. I couldn’t resist shining my head torch to survey the void I could have been tumbling down. I checked myself for injuries, nothing apart from a grazed hand and sore arms. I had escaped lightly. “Be more careful I told myself” it worked I never fell again.

Over Col Du Bonhomme it was cold and cloudy so I put my jacket on. I made the long descent to Les Chapieux in good time, and was ready for another break. Then I started the next climb to Col de La Seigne. Looking back down these long climbs and seeing a snake of head torches stretching on into the distance is one of my enduring memories of this race. This time was just as wonderful as the first time. By now I was in a good rhythm and I felt it was a good sustainable effort. The top came and went easily enough in the wispy cloud, and I was at Lac Combal for a nice bowl of soup at 6,000 feet. Then it was off for Arete Mont Favre. I ran the initial part of the road to the start of the climb. I recollected how in 2005 I did this in daylight and now it was still pitch black. That felt good. The climb up and over Mont Favre felt good and the descent into daylight rejuvenated me. The thought of some pasta in the valley far below spurred me on.

There was a bit of confusion finding my kit bag. After resolving this I sat down and did the usual repair job on my feet, followed by a lovely bowl of pasta. Even though I was not taking my time 35 minutes had gone in a flash. A chance to take some of my own food was good, and would be a nice change for a while. I also had my Ipod here and decided to listen to it all the way to Grand Col Ferret for a bit of company; well sort of. So all too soon it was off to start the tough climb up to Refuge Bertone, only this year it seamed a lot easier. It wasn’t as hot but still I was in better shape. I made good progress up to Bertone, and ran well on the undulating path to Bonatti. Here I ended up taking a long toilet break, even queuing up with some guy that did not appreciated my urgency.

Feeling better I was off on the relatively short stint to Arnuva. This was mainly downhill and an easy leg. Arnuva was now basked in sunshine but it didn’t have the sting in it like last year. I even sat in the sun, and then set off for the highest point on the run Grand Col Ferret. It felt like a comfortable climb, not at all how I had it in my memory – in 2005 it was horrible incessant rain and last year I felt like the sun was bearing down on my back. Near the top I even had to put my jacket on due to the wind chill. Soon after on the other side it came off and I made good progress to La Fouly. Still feeling good I had a short break and made my way for Champex in beautiful sunshine.

The climb up to Champex felt good and a ½ can of red bull - off a guy whom was accompanied by his granddaughter – didn’t do any harm. This time going into Champex I felt strong. A quick patch up of a blister and a great bowl of pasta – the best food on the course – and I was off on the run around the lake towards Bovine. This was the first time I had seen this in daylight as in 2005 it was pitch black for me at this point, and last year my race never got this far. It was beautiful and the climb of Bovine in daylight was much nicer than I remember. On ascending Bovine I was passed by 2 young Female runners storming up. On the descent I decided to try and stay with them. This worked and kept my pace up until about 10 huge cows with bells a bonging, decided to block the entire trail. A patient 5 minute wait and they made their way into the impossibly rough ground to the left. I continued to Trient without my fast moving female duo to pace me.

It was now dark again and whilst ascending out of Trient and up Catogne I decided to put the Ipod on. Choosing a narrow piece of trail with a big drop off the side to get it out wasn’t the wisest of moves. I almost over balanced over the edge whilst fiddling with the ever tangled earphones. I carried on into the night enjoying the music and the fact that I still felt strong. A long descent and Vallorcine was the next checkpoint. Would the food be different? Well no it wasn’t but I though it was. In my foggy minded state I managed to look at cheese and think they were chips, even getting excited about the fact before taking a closer look and being amazed at the harsh reality of the cheesy – not chip – feast.

Back out into the blackness and I was now following the river to Col De Montes. I power walked most of it as it was gently uphill. Eventually we crossed a road. I had never done the part after this road crossing and wasn’t sure what I was climbing. Eventually we made the top of a steep climb and I realised that I had climbed the last major ascent. So I made a bit of an effort across to La Flagere and left the 2 guys I had followed up for dead. It was an inspiring scene down to my left was the lights of Chamonix and the half moon and stars lit up the sky. But I had to concentrate as this was the roughest ground on the route and was full of little ups and downs, so tough to get a rhythm. On entering the last checkpoint at La Flagere I was made to feel paranoid. The medic stared into my eyes and asked me if I was o.k. I told her yes. Then she asked about food and water. Did she not realise I had been sorting myself out for the last 31 hours? Maybe it was the bewildered look on my face, who knows! I was o.k. and left after a small cup of coke and taking some water in my bottle. Just one descent left. I made good progress and overtook a few on the way down. My lap of the Chamonix town felt special, I had dreamed of this ever since finishing the Ramsay round. A few people at each turn clapped, after all it was 3.20 am , and not a time for large noisy crowds. I completed the large loop of the town and crossed the line. Cheering was going on in my head even if the reality was much more silent. A quick photo, the chip removed and a prized finisher’s gillet was handed to me. It was over. What a run. I loved it. It was just as good as I hoped I would be.

32 hours 52 mins is faster than I anticipated, and I am very pleased with my effort. I finished at 03:22 on Sunday morning in 168th place out of 1383 finishers and 2286 starters. That put me in the top 7.5 % of the field. But I took over an hour longer at checkpoints than intended. I think that I could do a sub 30 hours. But I think I will leave that challenge for 2011.

I have some more tourist style photos of my trip here.

Thanks again, and a big thumbs up, to all those who sponsored me on behalf of St Johns Hospice Lancaster! We raised just over £550! You are all very generous.
It gave me great pleasure to hand it over today 16/09/2009.

The Results and event website is here

TMB Training almost done

The last 3 weekends have seen me do a 34 mile run down the river Lune, a 26 miles run over Clougha and the local hills, followed by a crazy 3 consecutive ascents of Skiddaw.

In contrast to last year – were I had 3 weeks less training due to doing the Paddy Buckley round 3 weeks later into June – I had more time to do specific training. I did all 3 of these recent runs with the pack weighted to TMB + a bit, levels. All the runs went well, I did the River Lune run from Devils Bridge to Plover scar and back to Lancaster in 5 hours 40 mins, in fairly warm conditions. The local hill marathon (26 miles 4,500 feet) was done in 4 hours 35 minutes in constant rain. Then the crazy run!!

I decided that Skiddaw was an average type of trail to simulate the TMB. Its surface is similar in that it is mainly hard and stony; it has some steep parts and some gentle parts to the climb. The long climb is also good and at 25 miles and 8,500 feet it would pack a similar punch to the TMB. So the idea was to do 3 ascents and descents to make use of this ideal track. The first climb was going well until I got exposed to a brutal 50 + mph wind near the summit and lashing rain. I got battered on then off the summit ridge. After descending into the calm of Jenkin hill I questioned if I wanted to go through that 2 more times. I convinced myself that as the day wore on the temperature would rise and the wind drop. I was right about the temperature, but got battered by wind and rain twice more to complete a good training session in 5 hours and 40 minutes with one 5 minute break at the car after 2 laps. My last decent was the fastest - for confidence - 37 minutes, after a 1h 15 ascent.
It was a fun day, but not one that I will repeat. On my 3rd ascent some walkers asked me in a confused way is this you 2nd time up, when I replied "no it’s my 3rd", I think they thought I was mad. I hate doing out and back runs and this was just as much a mental battle as anything else. I think in future I will stick to making up circuits of hills, and leave this as a bizarre one off run.

So my training is almost complete, and I feel fit and ready for it I hope to do it in 34 hours but I will be flexible and adjust this if needed just to finish. Even my sponsorship is going well. Many generous friends, family and work colleagues have sponsored me to raise money for St Johns Hospice. So I feel I should have a much better run than last year. Well it couldn’t be much worse…..Could it.

TMB Thoughts

Completing the big 3 (Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay rounds) was a big undertaking and I am proud to be in a relatively small group (probably about 40) of runners that have achieved them in less than 24 hours. Ever since my horrible failure during the Tour of Mont Blanc last year I have been thinking about where I went wrong and what I could have done differently, it had even been a chink in my mental preparations in the lead up to the Ramsay Round, and to a lesser extent the Highland Fling. Now that I have done the Ramsay round and the Highland Fling it has renewed most of my confidence in my ability to endure, but the effect of the heat on me of last years TMB is still an unknown. I thought I handled heat well but last year made me seriously doubt this. Was it the heat or my mismanagement of the hot conditions? Maybe I will find out in just over 3 weeks time!

Bill's Paddy Buckley Round

For me
Glydderau 9 miles 5,700 feet
Carnddau 9.5 miles 4,300 feet

Another weekend and another night’s sleep missed. But it is a very enjoyable way to do it. On my way to Llanberis I pick up Ian and travel down to meet Bill at his second rest stop at about 02:45 on Saturday morning. Bill had started at Aberglaslyn at 19:00 and was the time he arrived 1 hour 20 mins up. A quick piece of Wynn’s beautiful choccy cake and we were off.

Bill had a quick 11 minute break and we headed off on the detour route – around a film set in the quarries – up to the first top Elidir Fawr. We made good progress and soon we were looking down on the spread of lights that surround Llanberis. The cloud on the first few tops mixed with a dark night and slippery rock kept Bill to a steady pace. It was probably a good thing given his fat start. We continued around the next few peaks and prior to starting up the Glydders I refilled the eater bottles at Devils kitchen. We negotiated the slippery rocks on the Glydders fairly well and I even managed to take a few photos in the early morning light. A quick down and we were now on Tryfan. I tried to miss out the South top but in doing so I contoured around the left too far and went beyond the summit. I apologised profusely as we back tracked onto Tryfans rocky top to touch Adam, or was it Eve? I still owe you a pint Bill. We made steady progress down to Ogwyn and Bills next pit stop. Near the bottom I take off in order to sort my kit out for the next leg.

After a 11 minute break Ian joins us for the long slog up Pen yr ole Wenn . By now the sun is out and although it is only 08:00 it is warming up. We make good progress and I take some photos on the ridge. As we traverse the Carneddau it gets progressively brighter and warmer. We all enjoy the run as this is probably the easiest part of the entire round. After descending the last peak, Pen lythrig y wrack I head off near the bottom to tell the support what he wants to wear next and what he would like to eat. I arrive at Capel Curigs Pinnacle cafĂ© and tell Wynn and Jean his needs. Ian and Bill appear after 5 minutes and he is still looking good. My 8 hour run with Bill is over, I whish him luck and he heads off for the next 7 plus hour section – his last leg- with his new support.

Ian, Will and I head back to Ogwyn to pick up my car. Ian and I decide to have a bath in the stream next to Pen yr Ole wenn. That was seriously cold and certainly woke me up, after my night of driving and running with no sleep. We kill some time having a meal in Bedgellert than head for Aberglaslyn to wait for Bills arrival.

We all get a bit nervous as the clock ticks to 18:40. 20 minutes left. But then we hear voices Iain and Sara have run ahead to tell us he is not far behind. Then Huw, Moo (sara), John Fleetwood and Rob Woodall appear. They part and let Bill slap the road sign and let out a sigh of satisfaction and fatigue. 23 hours and 45 minutes after leaving Bill is back and completed the Paddy Buckley. Just the Charlie Ramsay round left for Bill now. A great job well done.