The JWK Lancaster Half Marathon : 1st November

13.1 miles

Tried for a sub 80 mins clocking. But couldn't quite hold the pace. Still I managed to get a course PB by a massive 7 seconds. Ill take it.

I was 13th out of 616 in 1 hour 22. 35. The winner was Ivan Acereda Pascual in 1 hour 12. 34.

The Ennerdale trail race 25K : 18th October

On the day the results were. I finished 3rd out of 118, in 1 hour 56. 56. Jeremy Fellick won in 1 hour 52. 56 and Andrew Baxter in 2nd, 40 seconds behind Jeremy. I say on the day, because as I type these race updates 7 months (I really should keep on top of them) later in May, I now know that I actually won the race. My first win, not that anyone knew it on the day,

So to that race. My 3rd effort at it, 4th and 3rd being my previous results. I felt like I had finally got over the stomach bug that benighted me for about 4 weeks. Finally I felt that I had a race in me. I started steady feeling  that building into this race was the best way due to the course being mainly ascending on the way out, and descending on the way back. The back section however has a few technical sections which require a bit more energy and effort.

My race went well, and to plan. I set off in about 6th place then by the turn back at Black Sail hut after 7.5 miles, I was up to 4th. Not long after the turn back I moved into 3rd. Whilst descending to the first technical single track I noticed a distant runner crossing a bridge over the river Liza to my right. He was off course and moving fast going down the very fast track that we had come up on. At the time I assumed he was a local lad spectating, or just having a run, albeit a fast one. This point in the race normally has a marshal, this year there was just an arrow pointing the way. You approach on a wide access track which dips and bends slightly left, anther track branches right, the direction is straight on down onto a small single track path thats rough and technical and lasts about 1.7 miles. It is a good 4 minutes slower than either of the other 2 options.

I continued pushing to the finish, but saw no one in my race that I could catch. Still I was happy with 3rd again. A few days later I looked at the photos and noticed that the front 2 are not on the set taken near the top end of Ennerdale water. Suspicious as to why, I e-mailed the photographer as he seamed to have a very complete set of photos. He said he hadn't missed anyone. So I contacted the RO and we surmised that they must have followed each other on a track that goes behind where the Photographer was stood.

nearing then end on anglers crag

Fast forward to the Old Counties Tops race last weekend, and a discussion with my running partner Bill, about Strava Flybys (a way to look at any members GPS trace in a  race) led to him saying that he thought that I was 2nd in this race. He said that one of the guys ahead of me went down the wrong side of the River Liza before cutting back over around Ennerdale water. So on returning home I checked it out. It turned out that it was the race winner that went the wrong way. I had no trace for 2nd. I contacted the recognised winner on the day Jeremy Fellick, and he said that on looking again he now realises that he had indeed gone the wrong way, but knew nothing about it on the day, and innocently claimed first place. He also added that the 2nd placed guy had been close to him, and had followed him the on the wrong route. So both should be disqualified. As I was the first person to complete the course, I should be confirmed as the winner. I have e-mailed the RO, and am waiting for their response.

the trophy i should, but don't have

I feel happy, and a bit gutted about it. I think if they had gone the correct way, it would have been a close exciting race between us. We will never know. What I do know is that I have won a race at last. Or should I say 7 months ago, at last.

The Isle of Man Mountain Ultra : 3rd October

31.2 miles
8,600 feet

I love this race. The whole deal of getting a ferry from Heysham on Friday afternoon and returning on Sunday evening, makes it feel like a holiday with a race in the middle. Thats why this was to be my 4th year on the spin doing this race.

Unfortunately the fall out from feeling ill for 2 weeks, after the Lakes Sky Ultra meant that I just didn't feel ready for this. On the ferry and even during parts of the race I felt that I just hadn't quite recovered enough, I figure I was maybe about 90% fit. I gave it my bet shot, but felt like I was holding back and not descending very well. This all caught up with me near the end. I really struggled during the last 5 miles. Reminding me of my first effort at this race back in 2012 (6:20). I am pretty sure I will give it another go in 2016, as I still feel that I haven't had the race I think I'm capable of yet.

I finished 11th out of 73, in 6 hours 3 : 38. Tom Cringle won in 5 hours 18 : 24.

The Lakes Sky Ultra : 12th Sept

33.6 miles
12,647 feet

I tend to fair better in races with not too much climb, and also not too many very steep ascents. This race was neither of them, and subsequently, far outside my comfort zone. I liked the idea of doing the first ever Lakes Sky race,  and also of the ideology of the race. That being to not need to route find, but to go over some very rocky technical ground by closely following marker flags.

Unfortunately it was a bad forecast for this inaugural race.  It was to be left to during the race for the race organisers to make a decision on weather we were going to climb over Pinnacle ridge or not. it was sensible, as this is a very difficult scramble in the best of weather.

Amassing on the start it was wet and windy, most had donned jackets and running tights. We set off into the low cloud and rain. Whilst running the ridge up to Fairfield the considerable force of the wind and rain could be felt. It was seriously  bad for a race of this length. I carried on grinding some sort of pace. onwards and upwards to Helvellyn, Swiral edge and Striding edge. Which were interesting in the wind and rain. Normally on a fell race, or even a trail race, it is prudent to find the easiest way to negotiate such ground. This flipped that on its head by forcing you to follow the flags over all the rockiest and trickiest ground on any ridges. It was certainly interesting running/ walking over the very pinnacles of Striding edge in rain driven by gale force winds.

descending to Kirkstone pass.
Due to the adverse weather, and to my relief, we missed out Pinnacle ridge.  I carried on at what felt like more of a grinding, than racing pace. On reaching the last CP at Kirkstone I started to feel tired. The lack of my training on this type of terrain starting to tell. The route up Red Screes was not favourable to my now weak state. Straight up the steep side would not be my first
choice. But following the red flags is the rules. At least the weather had improved. I carried on just behind the 2nd place woman (Beth Pascall) and was relieved when we finally popped out at the summit. I seamed to gain some fight from here and ran pretty well, passing one or two on the run down to Ambleside, and into the finish. This is a seriously tough race, and afterwards I got a severe stomach bug that effected me or about 3 weeks.

I finished 10th out of 56 in 9 hours 17:51. Erik Haugsnes won in 7 hours 16:51

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 ish 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 consider 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.