Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Eventual Road to Sparta

The main running goal of 2013, has well er....become a non-starter.......
The Spartathlon has filled up before I have even had a chance to qualify. Oh well there is always 2014, plus to look at the positive side I should hopefully be fitter and faster with  18 months plus of training before the 2014 edition.

So well I need another big challenge for my 40th year!! Im too late for various different races now, but hold on... haven't I always wanted to run the 'Coast to Coast' (Wainright route) Ok there it is then, a Coast to Coast continuous journey (60-70hrs) 190 miles (if I don't get too lost!) August /September time. Well its that or another Bob Graham Round Attempt!  Sod it Ill try both, so June then for the BGR.

January has been a pretty laid back affair, some interval training on the Treadmill. A few Hardmoors Trail Marathon Recces in waist deep snow and to finish it off a week in Dubai with Shirley and the Dubai Marathon.

Dubai Marathon kicked my arse... My target was 3hrs 40.. well that didn't happen, try 4hrs 27 and a weight loss of 9lbs. Shirley came in as 2nd lady in her category and beat me by 30 plus mins. The start of the marathon was in mist which seemed to cause me to pour with sweat and then when the sun eventually broke through I was drenched. The last half marathon was purely a battle to keep moving forward. Not good! I had some serious dehydration problems going on and I was close to calling it a day.....

I have just managed to get a place in the 'Rombalds Stride' very lucky as the race filled up a month or so ago. I'm hoping to put a good run in at Rombalds (well good for me) and put my poor performance at the  Dubai Marathon to bed. Dubai is a stunning city. A place I will never forget.
My weight has settled to around 14st 6lbs  The low carb diet was relaxed for my time in Dubai. Now on my return I have switched from the Ketone Diet to the Paleo Diet, I have dropped dairy but reintroduced fruit. I will now eat carbs directly before, during and after races/hard training sessions.

Well Rombalds on Saturday, a weekend of Lakeland training with Garry Scott and Mark Dalton the following weekend, the weekend after is the Osmotherley Hardmoors Trail Marathon, I'm not running on the day but will be running the full course to mark it the day before. The following weekend is a Spanish Trail Marathon in Valencia and a chance to spend time with Shirley. Following weekend is the High Peak Marathon (42miles) this is starting to remind me of last year :o)))))

 Dubai Marathon
after the Marathon

Garry Scott below Cringle Moor

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Road To Sparta....

2013 The Road to Sparta......                        
Funny thing really, what do Ultrarunners talk about to other Ultrarunners when they are running an      Ultra? Well most of the time other Ultra's. So half way through the 52 in 52 challenge I was thinking of  what challenge  I could attempt in 2013.

2013 is also the year of my 40th birthday, ok I know I look more like I'm 50 but I am as I write this 39. Several years ago I decided I needed to do something big for my 40th. Two races came on my radar, Badwater  and Spartathlon
Badwater looked well, pretty interesting but bloody expensive (Crew, flights, Vehicle Hire, supplies etc etc ) Spartathlon seemed to look much more affordable, I didn't say doable though!

Spartathalon in a nut shell is a 153 mile race from Athens to Sparta. The race is predominately road and  the cut off is a tight 36hrs. During the day the temperatures can be pretty hot. The toughest aspect of the  
race (apart from 153 miles) is the cut offs. The first 50 miles must be covered in under 9hrs 30mins,
with many more cut offs.
 9hrs 30 may not sound much for 50 miles, two back to back marathons at around about 4hrs.40 Min's for each one, but remember you still have over 100 miles to go and a 3000 ft plus hill to climb.

Taken from the official website; 

Described as the world's most gruelling race, the Spartathlon runs over rough tracks and muddy paths (often it rains during the race), crosses vineyards and olive groves, climbs steep hillsides and, most challenging of all, takes the runners on the 1,200 meter ascent and descent of Mount Parthenio in the dead of night. This is the mountain, covered with rocks and bushes, on which it is said Pheidippides met the god Pan. In 2,500 years man has had no impact at all. There is still no pathway over the mountain that is swept by strong winds with temperatures as low as 4°C. The ascent is marked out by a trail of battery-driven coloured flashing lights and its challenge is a trial for human stamina and mental  strength. Over the mountain the last sections are no less energy sapping and exhausting for the runners as they follow a road that winds up and down hills before descending into Sparta. Even the finest athletes start hallucinating as they  cover these final stages. Having lost all sense of time and reality, they are "on automatic" as they push their weary bodies on towards the finishing line at the statue of Leonidas. At most, only about a third of the runners who leave Athens end 
the course in Sparta. The goal of all participants is to cover the course within the 36-hour time limit. Setting records is the primary aim. Those who succeed in reaching Sparta have trouble finding words to describe their feelings. Spartathlon 

has to be lived through. It is a very personal experience in which the athletes dream about participating. Their imagination is stirred by the idea of being a modern Pheidippides, running in the footsteps of the ancient messenger. 
They train for years to get fit enough both physically and mentally to meet the race's demands.

I am under no illusion that ill finish on my first attempt but I will have a bloody good go!! I am in this for the long haul.
2012 saw some very experienced tough British runners  (pretty fast ones, I now a couple of them well) have to drop out due to a combination of heat and pace. This is a race which finishing is something really special.

To qualify for Spartathon you must of completed either a 200km (124 miles) race before or 100k (62 miles) in under 10.30hrs. I ran the Tooting Bec 24 hour track race in September 2013 to use as a qualifier but unfortunately the wheels fell off in the process.

Spartathalon qualifying events are in short supply in the UK. 100k on hilly trail is a tough call to get  round in under 10hrs 30mins, so the easier option is 100k and 24hr races round a track but these events are limited to small fields of runners and not very often. 200k plus events are limited to the Grand Union Canal race, Viking way race Thames Ring and possibly the Spine. My choice at a second attempt for a qualifying race is The Viking Race in March. The Viking Way is a 147 mile race with 3000 metres of ascent from Barton Upon Humber  to Oakham (Leicstershire) with a time limit of 40 hrs. So no mean feet!!

If the first hurdle is completed (Qualifying) then the 2nd hurdle is being selected from what I guess will be this year an over subscribed race.

My training and to somewhat my races are all geared to getting into the best shape of my life for Spartathlon, leaving nothing to chance. Last year was a year of quantity so this year will hopefully be a year of quality. Fighting the urge to enter everything in sight. I have chosen certain races and given myself time to recover from them before running another race (well on most occasions) My training will include speedwork (tempo runs and intervals) which was missing from 2012. Plus the occasional 10k which seemed to work well for my overall speed in Ultras in 2011. I will actually log my miles and training plus diet. (I am currently experimenting with a Ketone Diet which will probably be changed around a little bit to become a Paleo Diet  i.e. adding fruit and dropping dairy.

2013 Races

5th     Scarborough Rock - 25miles (Trail)  ENTERED
                 25th    Dubai Marathon - 26.2miles  (Road)  ENTERED

2nd   Rombalds Stride - 23miles (Trail) ENTERED
24th    Maratona De Montana 26miles  (Valencia, Spain) (Trail)  ENTERED

1st   High Peak Marathon 42miles (Trail/fell)   ENTERED
              9th  Wuthering Hike   32miles (Trail)   2011 PB -5hrs 35mins  ENTERED
              30-31st The Viking Way 147miles (Trail)   ENTERED

  11th Tadcaster Harriers Old Course loop - 2.55miles (Road)
             21st London Marathon - 26.2 (Road)  ENTERED
             27th Fellsman  62miles (Trail/fell)       ENTERED
             30th York 10k Summer League Pocklington 6.2miles (Road)

  11th  Brecon 40 - 40miles (Trail/fell) or Ingleborough Marathon 27miles (fell/trail)
             19th  Scafell Trail Marathon 26miles (Trail/fell)  ENTERED
             28th  York 10k Summer League Easingwold 6.2miles (Road)

 2nd  Comrades (Africa) 56miles (Road)    ENTERED
           20th  Midsummers Madness Tadcaster Harriers 5miles (Road)
           25th  York 10k Summer League Bishop Wilton  6.2miles (Road)
29th Bob Graham Round attempt

7th  Osmotherley Phoenix 32miles (Trail)   PB -  2011 5hrs 38mins  ENTERED
           9th York 10k summer League Wistlow 6.2miles (Road)
           14th Lyke Wake Race  42miles (Trail)        PB -  2011 7hrs 33mins
           18th Tadcaster Harriers Track 5k (Track)
           27th Lakeland 100   105miles (Trail/fell)     PB -  2011 36hrs 40mins   ENTERED

10th Long tour of Bradwell 32miles (Trail)
               24th Speyside Way 36.5miles (Trail)

TBA   Continous Coast to Coast attempt 190miles(Trail)

19th  Round Rotherham 50miles (Trail)
        20th  Yorkshire Marathon 26.2miles (Road)

November and December are still in the planning stages. No doubt certain races may be added to June 
and August. 

Where PB is, this relates to my Personal Best which I plan to beat this year.

Wainstones ( Wainstones Trail Marathon Recce Jan 2013)

Looking over towards the Wainstones



Bob Graham Attempt  May 2012 
L-R Myself - Andy Norman - Rorie Macintosh (foreground scratching his bum) Mark Dalton - Shirley 


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Ultra 52 in 52 Stats

Ok Im not very good at this as I haven’t really kept many in the way of stats, so what follows is a compilation of things which may or may not interest you. Im an ‘Arty Farty’person not very technical. So please bare with me.

Top Races
(my favourite races of the 52 in 52)

Rombalds Stride
 (all round great event)
Wadi Bih
(Stunning scenery and all round experience)
Hardmoors 55
(great scenery, fantastic route, well organised and an awesome Race Director ;o) )
Wuthering Hike
 (all round great event)
Dukeries Ultra
(all round great event, well organised)
Leaden Boot
(Stunning Scenery)
West Highland Way Race
Osmotherley Phoenix
 (Perfect event)
Lakeland 100
 (all round good event)
Smugglers Trod
 (all round good event)
Glenmore 24
(Great event)
Saltergate Circuit
(all round good event made even better by running the whole event with Shirley)
Frostbite 30
(All round great event, well organised)

Over the year I have run various Ultras which havent been races, some of these have been my favourite runs of the year. Time spent in the North York Moors with Shirley, Mark Dalton, Garry Scott and Dave Cremmins. Runs in the Lake District reccing the Bob Graham Round with Rorie Macintosh. Times in the Peak District with Stuart Walker, John Vernon and Karen Mc Donald. The Marlborough Downs route with Shirley. Bob Graham Round attempts with Sarah Booth, Andy Norman, Jenny and Ken Wyles, Danny Aldus, Mark Dalton, Brian Melia, Andy Scaife, John Vernon, Rorie Macintosh, Shirley and Karen Mc Donald. It would be rude not to mention my crew at the Tooting Bec 24hr Track Race, Julien, Ernie and Debbie.THANKS GUYS

Least favourite Races

Yorkshire Ultra
 (where do I start, so I won‘t)

Fastest Races

Filey Flyer
(23miles in 3hrs 12mins, about 10 minutes behind winner and leading pack.)
Rombalds Stride
 ( 1 minute up on my 2011 time)
West Highland Way Race
( 3hrs 25mins quicker then my pb in 2008,)
Glenmore 24
(Target 100 miles in 24hrs, managed 112 miles in 24hrs)
Ingleborough Marathon
 (2nd place)

Slowest Races

Osmotherley Phoenix
(50 mins slower then 2011)
Wuthering Hike
 (40 mins slower then 2011)
Yorkshireman Marathon
(60 mins slower then 2011)
Tooting Bec 24hr Track race
 ( Target was either 120 miles and/or 100k in 10.30hrs, managed 89miles in 24hrs)
Liverpool Marathon
 (4hrs 38 mins - felt shocking, ran 30 miles day before, first road marathon)


Round Rotherham
(dropped out after 24 miles due to severe pain in my knee )
Second Bob Graham attempt
I don’t class as a dnf as I still covered an Ultra distance before hypothermia could take hold (severe conditions over the Dodds) and I dropped out of the attempt.


2 x Salomon Speed cross ( abandoned now, due to having a high heel lift which seems to exaggarate the overpronation of my gait = knee pains.
1 x Hoka Evo Stinson  (Courtesy of Mark Barnes)
1 x Inov-8 x talons 190 (Courtesy of Rorie Macintosh)
1 x Inov-8 x talons 212 (Courtesy of Rorie Mc) Favourite trail shoe as long as there is minimum road.
1 x Brooks Cadence (Pure Flow) 1 road marathon so far ( 6mm heel to toe differential)

Throughout 2012 I remained pretty much injury free apart from Knee pains which started in October, with lots of great advice I managed to continue the challenge and sort the knee problems through the months of October and November using the following ;

Rock Tape
I was introduced to Rock Tape by Mark Barnes. The stuff is awesome! From the end of October to the middle of December I religiously used it on both knees on every Ultra. While wearing it the knee pain seem to subside.
Sports Massage
Karen from Sports Stadium gave me sports massage on my very tight calves and some work on my itb plus resulting in less painful running and the massage was a big factor in sorting out my knee problem
Foam Roller and Stretching
I started in October to work on my calfs/quads/hams/glutes twice a week with a foam roller which was as hard as a fire extinguisher.

I find 3-6mm heel differential to be the best for my gait, I can keep a midfoot strike avoiding overpronation and thus no Knee or ankle problems. The day after my dnf at the Round Rotherham I ran a 32 mile Trail Race (Ennerdale Ultra) wearing a knee support and using x talons plus concentrating on a midfoot strike with short steps resulting in no knee pain
Omega 3’s
I increased the amount of Omega 3’s in my diet by including more efa’s in my diet and including supplementation. Omega 3’s are great for combating inflamation.
Throughout 2012 I covered 3015 miles (Ultras + weekly training miles) would have been more but October November and December I stopped running during the week to give my knees a break and concentrated on weight training (upper body) purely to give myself a diversion from running. I quickly built up to Bench Pressing 300lbs for reps (something I hadn’t done in quite a few years). 

Throughout 2012 my bodyweight remained a constant 15stone. People were surprised I hadn’t lost weight. My diet had stayed the same for the year, a lot of brown rice and Tuna, jacket potato’s with (yes even more) Tuna, fruit, salads etc with my vices being Diet Coke, Coffee and chocalate.
I believe the reasons why I didn’t lose weight is my body had adjusted to the Ultras and in fact held onto weight to fuel my body through 30 plus runs (almost like a camel state) The second reason is Ultras can make the body release Cortisal (the stress hormone) Cortisol can also cause you to store body fat etc (ok there is a lot more science about it then that)
Body weight - losing weight is  a lot more technical then eat less and exercise more, Im living proof of this, the body soon adjusts to exercise and is very adaptable The body will reprogram itself to use less energy for any given task. Run 30-40 miles and the body will go into a panic and burn whatever it can to produce the energy , now run that distance week in and week out and the body will say ‘How can we do this with less calories?’ Yes people do loose weight running Ultras but how much of it is muscle? The body will use its pathetic 2000 cals storage of Carbs and carbs coming in in the disguise of flapjacks, gels etc etc when its used both those stores up what does it use next fat? No unless your body is Ketone adapted those 40,000 cals of fat storage (no matter if you are a super waif you will still have about the same storage) will probably only be tapped into after your body has started on the protein in your body/muscles 

Big Weeks

Throughout the year I had a couple of big weeks to catch up with ultras I had missed 

Saturday - Sunday Bob Graham Round 28hrs 68-72miles
Thursday - Osmotherley Phoenix Route 28 miles
Saturday - Dukeries Ultra 42 miles
Sunday - Leaden Boot 28 miles

Total - 166 - 170 miles

Saturday - Frostbite 30 - 28miles
Sunday - Edale Skyline plus - 28 miles
Tuesday - Treadmill Ultra 30 miles
Saturday - Edale Skyline plus - 28 miles
Sunday - Stratford Trail Marathon 28 miles

Total - 142 miles

The Year of Ultras has been an awesome year. Ive made some great freinds and seen some stunning scenery. Travelled to places I have never been before both externally and internally. I have had highs and lows. The whole thing has been like an Ultra, a 100 miler, a relatively fast start, a few tough miles then some highs and easy miles then at the 70 mile stage real lows (October) but like in a 100 miler you push on and this energy appears from nowhere and you get faster and you go along like nothing can stop you and in the last few miles a big hill slows you down (Sickness bug in December) So you get your head down and trudge on slowly wondering if you will finish the 100 miles, but then you get there, a couple of miles left so you speed up and then...your there..its all over, You have lived a lifetime in a100 miles (52 weeks)

Thank You for reading my blog and persevering with my ramblings etc etc...

If you want to sponsor me for last years exploits please visit 


Monday, 7 January 2013

Ultra 52

ULTRA 52 was going to originally be the 'Tour De Helvelyn'. Accommodation had been booked and I was due to run with Mark Dalton, David Cremmins, Garry Scott and Tony Holland. A stomach bug (food poisoning??) put an end to that and I spent the weekend in bed. Ultra 52 had to be rearranged and time was of the essence leaving Boxing Day to be the only possible option.

Christmas day I was still in a decent amount of pain but I would just have to recover quickly or just suffer during the run. Early Boxing day morning I picked David Cremmins up from Knaresborough and drove to Beeford (Near Bridlington) To a good friends house, 'Steve Walker' (Steve used to be my running partner when I lived on the East Coast. We had ran various Ultras together other the years such as the Woldsman, West Highland Way Race, Highland Fling and a Bob Graham Attempt to name a few.) Steve regularly runs the Hardmoors 110 and 55 to keep his toe in the water so as to speak.

The plan was to drive to Skipsea and run on the beach plus cliff tops to Flamborough Head North Landing, via Bridlington, a total distance of 31 miles, majority on sand with dozens of steps up and down cliffs thrown in for good measure. The first 10 miles flew by, chatting about numerous things (I hadn’t seen Steve in person since he had supported me on the West Highland Way race in June so we had a lot to catch up on)
We stayed on the beach below Sewerby rather then taking the cliff tops and battled over the rocks which slowed progress. This didn’t seem to affect Steve as he kept on at his steady pace. Myself and Dave struggled to keep up. The coastal erosion is very much in evidence around these parts.We reached the half way point at Flamborough Head and ran to the bottom of the steep Lifeboat Launch slope before running back up to the top ( we had in previous years done reps on this in training for a BGR attempt and for my 2010 UTMB) I started to suffer on the return journey feeling very weak, just digging in deep to continue. Bridlington promenade was reached and 7-8 miles was left. 6-7 miles of the miles in sand with a headwind, not an easy proposition anytime never mind when your recovering from food poisoning. We had several drain outlets to cross which were now pretty deep with the tide coming in. The second crossing for me was waist deep and bloody cold!! And I’m 6ft 2. would have been over Andy Knowles’s head ;o))
The lads pushed on but waited for me for the last mile and we ran in together to the finish. It had been a fantastic run with stunning views and great company but the food poisoning had taken it out of me and the last 15 plus miles had been very tough. No regrets though, what better way to spend Boxing Day if it couldn’t be with Shirley.

The run had taken just over 6 hours. Earlier in the year (March) I had completed Ultra no 8 with Steve, running the same course in just under 5 hours but not taking the rocky beach section opting for cliff tops. Also while rereading the Ultra no 8 blog I had mentioned suffering with a tooth abscess before the run. A month or so later I had the tooth removed. A few days after Ultra 52, 2 tooth abscesses had started giving me a whole world of pain. I had a tooth removed on New Years Eve and some work on another tooth a couple of days later. ( in 2004 I had hit the back of a truck at 30mph while on my mtb with my face, in fact they found traces of paint from the van on my tongue, I had split my tongue in two, it had taken them about 8 hours to sew it back up. I had fractured my jaw from one end to the other, Broken my nose and had had some head injuries, my teeth had been wrecked from the accident, so every year I usually loose one or two or have to have work on them. Ultras in cold weather can usually bring on quite a bit of facial pain. The crash was 3 days before my second proposed Bob Graham Round attempt.

On the 5th January  I ran the Scarborough Rock (a 25 mile LDWA event) I ended up doing over 26 miles due to several navigational mishaps (I was not alone in this) It was such a relief not to have to add 2 miles onto this to become an Ultra. The end of January I have the ‘Dubai’ Marathon.
My knees are back to normal, no pain, no rock tape or painkillers needed for either Ultra 52 or the Scarborough Rock. After my immune system has been lowered by the food poisoning I have caught my first head cold (man-flu) since last Christmas making yesterdays run pretty tough. I almost expected to become quite prone to illnesses/colds etc after the challenge was completed and my body would start to rest.
I will post a blog soon with some boring stats and an overview of 2012 plus what my 2013 challenges will be.

I had photos for this blog, but either blogger or my computer isnt playing ball and won't let me upload them to this blog. Sorry
Thanks for taking time to read my ramblings.
See you on the trails/roads

Saturday, 22 December 2012

ULTRA 48 - 51

Ultra 48  Edale Skyline Excursion

A few hours after the Frostbite 30 I drove over to my Sisters (Andrea) to have a catch up and wish my Niece (Katy)  a happy 18th.   They both live at South Normanton only a few miles or so from the Peak District so I stayed the night and the next morning I travelled to Hope for an extended run of the Edale Skyline. John Vernon joined us for a few miles up over Lose Hill, Hollin cross and Mam tor. Here we parted ways and I continued over Rushup edge with David Cremmins. It was a stunning day with zero temperatures and an abundance of ice. Dave had his yak tracks with him while I relied on my x talons to keep me firmly planted to the frozen ground. The views over to kinder where stunning. On arriving on the Kinder Plateu progress was painfully slow over the thick ice which seemed to coat every rock in the vicinity. then the mist came down. After several cock ups in nil visibility we decided to head back off Kinder and retraced our steps to drop down towards Hayfield   We took several paths and crossed over towards Rushup edge by this time not only had we thick mist to contend with but darkness too. All light from our headtorches was bounced back at us thanks to the mist. Our food supplies depleted and with sod all water left we missed the correct line and dropped onto the pennine bridleway. Deciding not to return to Hope by Mam Tor and Lose Hill we took the road for awhile and joined the old broken up road under Mam Tor. ( my dad many years ago had taken me on this road as a child when it been shut off to cars because as he had put it the 'shivering mountain' had put it's curse on it and the road kept falling to pieces. ) this Sunday night after hours on the hills in freezing conditions with little food inside me I felt the shivering mountain was only just letting me pass on this ghost of a road. The hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention until I left the 'Shivering Road' and joined up with the main road into Castleton.   We reached Castleton which looked beautiful with dozens of little Christmas trees perched outside shops and house I was hoping for a chip shop but no joy. We passed by castleton and came into Hope. My watch showed we where missing Ultra miles yet we had been out for hours and hours so we ran along the road to Edale and back to round off the day with 28 miles

John Vernon & Dave Cremmins -summit of Lose Hill

Lose Hill to Mam Tor Ridge

kinder Scout

Kinder Scout

Ultra 49 'The Dreadmill'

I had decided I wanted my 50th ultra to coincide with the Runfurther Party plus I wanted to fit 52 ultras into the year as it made more sense. (52 in 52 rather than 50 in 52) and my plan was that the 'Tour de Helvelyn' would be my 52 ultra not my 50th. The only problem was I had done 48 and the Runfurther party was in 6 days time. The solution was obviously to fit another ultra in over the next few days.  With work I had not enough time to travel up to the North York Moors and plus the running would be slow. I needed something fast!  I then decided upon a Treadmill Ultra. I could finish a P/T Session with my client and then directly after I could jump on the treadmill. So there it was ultra 49 ( I decided to make it a minimum of 30 miles ) around about 4 hrs 40 mins later I had covered the 30 miles.   I was hoping to run a lot faster but I had been having a lot of problems with my left calf and anytime I increased the pace the feeling of something bad happening to it dropped me down to 10 minute mili pace   When I first climbed onto the treadmill I had set my area up with 5 x 500ml water bottles Energy gels. Towel. iPod,  iPhone etc much to the amused look of people using the other treadmills around me. As you can guess I saw people come and go. No one spending more time  then 30 minutes in one go on the treadmills   Probably sensible people   Once 3 hours was reached the monotony was easier to deal with. I could play time and distance games with my mind. With less than 3 miles to go I increased the pace ( it's so obvious on a treadmill how much more distance you can cover when you increase the speed, more noticeable then outside with all your speed/distance/time data right in front of you   I finished the 30 miler with a 5 minute cool down. The Treadmill can be a mind killer but has a purpose. Efficient speedwork/ intervals tool if you havent a track to run on  and several years ago was my main training arsenal for getting round the UTMB'S 9500 metres of ascent. I used to live in a very flat area and chances to climb hills never mind mountains would come 4-5 times a year if lucky, so I would spend one 3-4 hour session per week running on the Treadmill at full incline. Ultra 49 brought it all back to me :0)

Ultra 50 'Edale Skyline with Extra Again'

The route yet again was the Edale Skyline with an excursion at the end to Edale and back. Karen mcDonald joined us along the ridge from Lose Hill to Mam Tor. Karen is the backbone behind the Runfurther series  she is not only an ultra runner but a damn good mountain biker and adventure racer. Shes a real gem tough as old boots and great fun to be around. We all ran in kahtoolas and the ground was thick with ice. Further over towards Rushups edge was snow and Kinder Scout  was a winter wonderland. We bumped into Richard Lendon. I had first met Richard on the Lakeland -100, Richards a great guy and a seasoned Ultrarunner. He was putting the finishing touches to his training for the 2013 spine race ( the spine race is the 268 mile Pennine way route run in winter )   After we dropped off Mam Tor Karen left us ( same place where John Vernon had left us the week before, I don't blame them, my jokes are pretty rubbish at the best of times )

Karen on the Mam Tor Ridge

Rushup edge was a real treat  runnable but thick with snow in places. Stuart walker joined us on the climb up to Kinder. Stuart is an awesome ultra runner and had jointly won the Hardmoors 60 at the end of September with Ian Symington in a record time  Stuart had also earlier in the year ran the entire length of the Alps ( 1100 miles) in just over 30 days!!!  Stuart is a true inspiration and an all around nice guy. A real toughy too in shorts and a long sleeved baselayer opposed to my full length tights. Calf guards and skins short,. Merino wool baselayer and windproof plus hat and gloves   He flew along the paths of kinder with great ease but held back so not to cause me to increase my pace when in reality he could of left me for dead at any moment. Running along the more technical paths of kinder in the snow was great fun and the views stunning.
The ascent up to Win Hill proved tough for me. This was my 4th ultra in 8 days and it was beginning to show. Dave and Stuart went ahead and I eventually joined them on the summit   We descended off the summit together and ran to Hope's train station with Stuart where he would leave us   Myself an David ran the out and back to Edale completing in total just over 27 miles ( there I say 27 tough hilly miles ) we drove to Bradwell and showered at Karens before driving to South Normanton to pick my sister and niece up to take them to the Runfurther party in Sheffield    After the runfurther party we drove back to my sisters to sleep the night before driving to Stratford upon Avon the next morning to run ultra 51

Dave C on Mam Tor Ridge looking over to Kinder

Rushup Edge

Rushup Edge


Ultra 51 Broadmeadow Trail Marathon

Ultra 51 was the Broadmeadow trail marathon.  The route was more bridleway or should I say old railway lines turned into cycleways. We arrived there at 0800 for a 0900 start and the route was pretty confusing. Lots of out and backs to the race start ( an old railway carriage converted into a cafe. I clocked it as 27so decided to run a further mile to bring it up to 28 with the route being pretty flat.) I completed the 27 miles in 4hrs 26.  What was interesting in the mild conditions opposed to the Edale skyline was as I felt my long sleeve top was far too warm  I saw people running in 200 weight full zip fleeces and others in bandanna's pulled up round their noses! And one guy in an 800 fill down jacket !!!!!!
And no they weren't training for the MDS or Badwater. Just very cold they reckoned !!!


I am currently in Egypt at the moment sunbathing in 27 degrees writing this on my iPhone ( using the chance to catch up with my blog at last. Friday I return back to the UK. Friday night I go over to the lake District in anticipation of the 'Tour de Helvelyn ' which commences Saturday morning. Last year it was freezing cold with thick snow. This week I have been running 3-6 miles daily in pretty warm conditions. Ultra 52 is going to be a shock to the system ;0)!!!!!!

Tour De Helvelyn

Unfortunately I arrived back from Egypt with food poisoning so TDH was 'out of the window' but there are still 9 days left of 2012... watch this space......

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ultras 45--47

Ultra 45 Hardmoors 55 Recce

The Weekend after the Palermo Marathon was to be a double Ultra weekend. Saturday a 55 Recce and Sunday a Hardmoors Osmotherley Trail Marathon Recce.

I picked David Cremmins up pretty early Saturday morning and drove over to Cold Kirby (North York Moors) The route started with running  a few road  miles  up to High Paradise Farm to pick up the Hardmoors 55 reverse route, back through Cold Kirby (refuelled at the car) to Helmsley taking notes along the way for the new race route description. It was a pretty cold day and stopping often to add notes to my iphone then sprinting off to try to get warm turned the run into a huge interval session. Once at Helmsley we had a quick coffee at a cafe and set off on the 5-6 mile journey repeating the route but in reverse back to Cold Kirby and the car.

Towards the end of the run it started to get dark much to Davids delight! He had just bought the Petzl Nao, a pretty expensive headtorch which corrects the amount of light emitted (or should I say lumen's) to the amount light there is already available (streetlight, other headtorchs )Apretty powerful headtorch. David jumped at the chance to wear it and he acted like an excitable puppy!!!  On arriving in Cold Kirby we bumped into Gerry Orchard (Osmotherley Phoenix organiser) (lives n Cold Kirby) he invited us for a coffee at   his caravan (his house is being rebuilt at the moment) I forget the exact number but he has ran over150 completions of the Lyke Wake !!!! (the Lyke Wake is a tough hilly 42 mile route across the North York Moors from Osmotherley to Ravenscar)

The route is beautiful and a pleasure to run on and no I'm not bias ;0)

Oh just to prove Ive been stretching between runs ;0)

Ultra 46  Osmotherley Trail Marathon Recce

The Following day I met up with David C, Garry Scott and Mark Dalton to run the Osmotherley Trail Marathon Route ( The Osmotherley Trail Marathon route is the first Trail Marathon of the Hardmoors 26.2 series) I had run this as an ultra by sticking a couple of miles on twice before. Once on my own and the second time with Garry Scott. The second time  while out running the course we could see some oppurtunities for improving the route. So we were back again to get elevation data and exact mileage plus a feel for the course.

There had been some pretty heavy downpours during the night before and the course was pretty wet and
muddy in  places which slowed us down but we had a great run.
Garrys skin's tights kept working their way down so in the end he took them off and ran in his underwear until 8 miles later we reached a strategically parked car (Mark's) at Lords Cafe and he put his waterproof trousers on (it was a very cold day) I changed my top for a merino wool one and we set off over the Cleveland Hills. Dropping off the back of Cringle Moor I took a decent a bit too quick which left me hobbling about at the bottom after I felt a twang in my calf.
Several hills later we had ran out of food and were bloody hungry. Darkness yet again came upon us and I ran across Carlton Bank without headtorch ahead of the others to preserve my night vision. David had put his new headtorch on at the first available oppurtunity and belittled Mark's and Garry's headtorches power.
(we'll get the last laugh don't you worry won't we lads ;0)) )

The day had been a good one and we covered 28miles in total and ascended over 4000ft

Pictures courtesy of Garry Scott

Ultra 47 Frostbite 30

The Frostbite 30 was a new race for 2012. A 30 mile circular race open to solo runners and relay teams. Set around Nidderdale in Yorkshire (slightly outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park but by far an equal of any of the areas found in the Yorkshire Dales.) T Rob Jarman was the race director and what a fantastic job he did as well! A really well organised event in a stunning location.

I picked David up and drove through to Pately Bridge (the race start) I met up with Garry when we got there and had a chat with Rob as well as various other runners including Andy Norman and Sarah Booth who both looked vibrant (young love and all that ;0) ) We piled outside for the race start..
I wasnt  taking any chances. My knees and calf was taped up with Rocktape (this stuff performs miracles!!) I was wearing Compression calf guards and warmed up/stretched before the event (My calf had been giving me a lot of pain throughout the week and was I very unsure if it would hold out for the duration of the  race.)

left to right David C, Garry Scott. Me, Andy Norman

 Pic nicked of Sarah Booth ;0)

I took it very steady for the first couple of miles. Strangly I felt strong on the climbs and had a great run through the first 14-15 miles. The views throughout the dale where breathtaking but underfoot there was quite a bit of ice which made progress a little slower.

The route was well marked and several hours later I found myself pushing hard to get in under 5hours (my original target was 6 hours) The last mile was tough  and seemed to drag on forever. Eventually I reached the finish with Dave in 4hrs 59 mins taking joint 20th place, Garry had ran fantastically and came in just over 4hrs and only narrowingly missed 3rd place!

I caught up with Rob and had another chat before searching for a chip shop which may be open, and of course all 2 of them where shut!

The Frostbite 30 is a great event and I truly reccomend it for 2013!!

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Palermo Marathon. ( Sunday 18th November )

Palermo is the capital city of Sicily. A hustling bustling city situated on the coast in the North West of Sicily
The buildings are decadent and portray past elegance still apparent through all the rubble, decay and graffiti  Palermo is a city with a lot of character. A place to people watch. A place full of charisma!
The people are friendly, helpful, jovial and pretty  laid back.

We flew from Manchester to Bergamo. ( close to Milan, Italy) and spent a day looking round the beautiful old town quarters. Later that day we flew to Palermo, Sicily. The day before the Marathon we went for a 4 mile run ( Ok it ended up being 6 plus miles ) to loosen our legs off and see a bit of Palermo's seafront.   The weather was 24 degrees A bit different to the 8 degrees in the uk. Shirley was feeling pretty rough after having come down with a cold bug a day or two before flying and with no running since the Hardmoors 60  6 weeks before, Palermo Marathon was going to be tough for her.

The morning of the Marathon came and the streets where full of runners. Alongside the Marathon there was to be  a half marathon. The marathon route was two laps of the half marathon route   The half marathon runners had red writing on their race numbers while the marathon runners had black numbers. As the only Brit Male I was wearing the flag for the uk with a union jack buff and Odlo socks with a union jack logo on the hem of the socks with A pair of brand new brooks pure flow cadence shoes ( promotes a forefoot/mid foot land ) going on their  first outing. I was all set to go.

For the first 10 miles I ran with Shirley who was really suffering with her breathing (due to the bug she had) but was pushing on regardless proving how tough she was! I decided to press on and push for 4 hours.
Passing the race start on lap 2 I noticed a lot of people had stopped ( majority of runners where Half Marathon runners) The first half of the 13 mile lap took the marathon into the outskirts of Palermo, while the second half of the lap went back into the city and through the main streets of Palermo passing by beautiful buildings full of history and character. A few miles into the second lap I noticed at points there wasn't a person in site, either runner or spectator, crazy for a Capital City Marathon. Cars where being stopped by the Police to keep the streets safe to run on, and the Drivers didn't appreciate this, holding their hands down on their car horns (at the time I thought this was in support of the runners, I now know  much differently now.)

Passing by the race start the music had stopped and there was not a spectator in sight. Further on the aid tables which had been handing out water had gone!!  Sicilians where on the streets but not taking a blind bit of notice of the runners.

 I enjoyed running down the main streets window shopping. With 1km to go I set off on a pretty fast pace and with 200 metres to go turned it into a sprint. I could hear someone right behind me so I decided to not let them pass and pushed as hard as I could, but the faster I got the faster the pitter patter I could hear behind me was.

I crossed the finish line and looked behind me, there was no one there, it had been my shoes making the noise :0))  I looked around for my Medal, this turned into quite a mission, eventually  I was handed one.
Not one person near the finish line had clapped me or said well done. I looked over to where a tent which had been providing massages earlier was. It had gone!!!

I set off to rack another 2 miles in (28.4 in total) by running up the Marathon Course to Shirley and back to the finish with her. She had suffered with her bug but was still pushing on. For 10 miles of the course she hadn't had a drink because they had removed all the water stations!!!!

Looking back, they were purely catering for the half marathon. After the Half Marathoners had finished they had stopped the music and started to take aid stations down while runners where still out on the course with miles to go.  Crazy!! Local Sicilians had no interest in the Marathon and the traffic hated us being there. The City itself is beautiful so worth running the marathon as a form of sightseeing though!

 I finished in 3hrs 58 mins in 131st place.

The Brooks Cadence where brilliant and the Rocktape on my knees did its job!

We spent a few more days in Palermo before flying to Milan. We had two nights in Milan.
Italy and Sicily are beautiful and by far the best way to go there is with someone you truly love.