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.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Ultra 39 - 43

Ultra 39 Ennerdale Trail Ultra

Ultra 39 was supposed to be the Round Rotherham and the Ennerdale Ultra would have been number 40.
I had stopped with Dave Cremmins at the Premier Inn a couple of miles away from the start of the Round Rotherham 50.
First thing Sat morning we arrived at registration and caught up with Garry Scott and Mark Dalton who we would be travelling to the Lakes after the Round Rotherham, I had a great time catching up with Sharon Gaytor, John Vernon, Martin Dietrich to name a few before the race started. Alas Rotherham wasn’t to be. Minutes into the run I was in a lot of pain with my knees and my legs didn’t seem to have any speed in them, after 20 miles of pain and struggling on I asked Dave to head off without me. I pulled out at the next checkpoint after about 25 miles, 2 miles off an Ultra but I had had enough. I was given a lift back to the start and spent awhile chatting to Ian Symington and Dan Shrimpton plus others. Later on I caught up with Sarah Booth, Andy Norman, Dan Aldus, Charlotte Charmain and Nic Ham (I apologise if I have missed anyone) After a lengthily chat to Si Berry The gang (Mark Dalton, Garry Scott, Dave (The Creminator) Cremmins and myself ) set off to Buttermere Youth Hostel via a chippie in Ripon. Buttermere Youth Hostel is beautiful and we had a 4 person room for less then £10 each. The next day I toed the start line with a knee support on courtesy of Mark Dalton and wearing a pair of inov-8 x-talons courtesy of Rorie at Runfree. My aim was to concentrate on landing midfoot to prevent any overpronation which may aggravate the knees. The course for us was 2 loops of the Ennerdale valley, each loop was about 16 miles, while there where other runners running 1 lap and a 10k option was also available. The event was organised by High Terrain Events and was sponsored by Salomon and 9 bars (I love 9 bars, Gluten free, high in omega 3, healthy fats and a massive 8grams of Protein, plus they taste pretty good as well! )
The weather was perfect, chilly but the sun was out reflecting the mountains in Ennerdale Water. The scenery was just beautiful. I ran with Garry and Dave for the first lap, the second lap I dropped back quite a bit and ran / walked to the middle way checkpoint and then with a reasonable amount of decent I picked up a good pace. In the last 5 miles I came back alive and passed 7 runners finishing with a sprint. My knees had given some pain throughout the 30 odd miles but no way as bad as the day before at the Round Rotherham. The combo of X-Talons and a support bandage seemed to help. I had also given my new pack ‘The North Face Enduro 13’its first proper outing and it had passed with flying colours. I finished the 32 mile course in 6hrs 20 mins.
We left Ennerdale and headed to Keswick and yes you guessed it! The chippy. ;0))

                                                                      Garry Scott

L-R Mark Dalton, David Cremmins, Me, Garry Scott

Ultra 40 Tadcaster 28

Ultra 40 was a 28 mile run around my local area, Tadcaster--Boston Spa-Wetherby-Bramhan etc
My run was racked with pain. Knee pain, hips and quads too where screaming out in agony. A tough 28 miles. (Ran in Salomon Speedcross)

Ultra 41 Kilburn Kanter ( plus extra miles)

Ultra 41 was the 24 mile LDWA Kilburn Kanter, an event which as you can guess starts at Kilburn in North Yorkshire. Very close to the White Horse on Sutton Bank. The village is beautiful and the route was too. I had a little chat with Sharon Gaytor before the start and later ran with Andy Knowles (A great way to catch up with a good mate) The event took me on several paths around the North York moors I hadn’t been on before so was a big plus. No knee pains.!
A pain free run ;0) (Ran in Inov-8 x talons)

                                                                   Andy Knowles

Ultra 42 Hardmoors 55 (recce 28)

Ultra 42 was 28 miles spent on the Hardmoors 55 2013 route (Reverse 2012 route) with Shirley crewing. A great day out with some stunning views. (Ran in Inov-8 x talons)

Roseberry Topping

View over to the coast from Guisborough Woods

Ultra 43 Osmotherley Trail Marathon 30

Ultra 43 was ran with Garry Scott and what a good day with great company. Initialy the run was to recce the Osmotherley Trail Marathon Route (Hardmoors 26.2) The course was measured at 30 miles (gps) The weather was beautiful and we chatted the whole way round, no knee pain and felt as fresh as daisy
(Ran in Inov-8 x talons)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Ultras 36 - 38

Ultra 36 SALTERGATE CIRCUIT (Sat 6th October)

I had wanted to run the ' Saltergate Circuit ' for a few years and now I had the oppurtunity and it lived up to my expectations. The Saltergate Circuit is an LDWA event which starts in Stape near Pickering (North York Moors) passes by the 'Hole of Horcum' and crosses the Railway track that runs the Steam train from Pickering to Goathland. I also had a chance to run with Shirley which put the icing on the cake. Shirley had ran the 63 mile route of the HM60 the weekend before and even with those recent miles in her legs  I felt like I was holding her up for the duration of the event. My knees caused me a whole world of pain on every descent and I had to stop to walk on numerous occasions.
Shirley had ran in the event several times before and knew the route luckily. (numerous people had made various different navigational errors along the way, we covered 24 miles where others had covered up to 29 miles) After finishing the event I set off on an extra 3 miles to turn the distance into an Ultra and on returning we got to chat to Roy Mc Dougall and Mark & Wendy Colling who had ran the Hardmoors 60 the weekend before. A trip to the Lion Inn a few miles away for some food finished the day nicely.

Ultra 37 & 38 HARDMOORS & LIVERPOOL MARATHON(13th-14th October)

Originally I was to enter the Pathfinder 25 but Garry Scott invited me to join him on a training run following the Hardmoors 55 reverse route from Lords Stones to Helmsley (2013 the Hardmoors 55 will be run in the reverse direction for the first time)

View across to Carlton Bank

I drove up to Helmsley in stunning conditions, the temperature hovered around minus one and the sun was shining bright in the sky. I met Garry in Helmsley and we set off to Lords Stones in his car.(later I would drive him back to his car) We chatted non-stop, actually we chatted non-stop for the duration of the day, and what do Ultra runners chat about when they are running?? Yep other Ultras including kit, past and future races and  Hallucinations/blisters/injuries etc etc. ( my FiancĂ©e is an Ultra-Runner and yep the vast majority of our conversations evolve around running, mind you we met via running ultras ;o) )

 View from Carlton Bank

Garry was making the run tougher for himself by not eating before the run (in fact the last time he had eaten was over 13 hours ago) he was experimenting and would try to use his fat stores for energy. I was quite glad because that meant it would slow him down and he may suffer more then me ;o). We set off up Carlton Bank and flew over the top at speed, I was pushing hard to try to match his speed, so far the lack of food wasn’t slowing him down, damn! The route in reverse was stunning. I was looking forward to running from Square Corner to Helmsley as I had never run this section in reverse. Twenty odd miles in Garry hit the wall and pretty hard! He slowed down a bit and stopped talking. I gave him a gel and minutes later he was back yapping on and pushing the pace, I kicked myself for giving him the gel ;o))
On arriving at Sutton Bank the sky was so clear we could see for miles and pointed out the three peaks of Yorkshire. With about 7-8 miles to go we both were feeling sick so decided to nip to the pub and had a couple of pints of coke. The coke as per usual did the trick, unfortunately it didn’t work for the continued pain in my knees, with a short distance left I risked the Diclofenic Sodium (non steroid anti-inflammatory drug) to get some pain releif (I advise anyone reading this to not use these in Ultras, they can cause serious stomach problems and an  electrolyte imbalance, both can lead to hospitalisation )  Running into Helmsley was stunning, I felt sad that the vast majority of the runners competing in the Hardmoors 55 would arrive here in the dark.
We headed for the local chippy and gorged on essential special recovery nutrients ;o))
I returned Garry back to his car at Lords Stones and the sun was still in the sky, Carlton bank beckoned me, but lack of time and knees that would have vastly objected to such stupidity directed me to the car not up the hill, plus I had a marathon to run in well under 24hrs time.

Garry Scott
LIVERPOOL MARATHON (4hrs 39mins of suffering)

I was to help guide Paul Watts (Paul is a blind runner who has completed over 200 marathons) David (Cremmins) usually guides Paul at various marathons throughout the year. For David it was his 100th marathon and official entry into the 100 Marathon Club! I got to chat to Richard Webster, Ross Moreland and Elizabeth Tunna before the Marathon. This was my first road Marathon.
I ran with Kelly for the first 10k, I found myself drenched in sweat and yet again my knees were crying out in pain. After awhile I caught up with David and Paul and we took it in turns to guide. Liverpool was stunning and the weather yet again gorgeous. I started to feel very rough and had to resort to a walk, David and Paul continued running. The 26.2 miles was kicking my butt! A combination of knee pain and what felt like a virus was making every step feel like a mile.
Finally 25miles was reached and I decided to dig in pretty deep and pull out a faster pace. The last 400 metres I managed a sprint.

After the event I felt like death warmed up, frozen, cramping up and very hungry.
Well at least I know Ill be able to beat my Marathon PB time ;O)


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Ultra 35 and this and that

Ultra no 35 was supposed to be my 4th 100 + mile distance run this year, unfortunatley it wasnt to be.

Tooting Bec 24hr Track Race (Self-Transcendence) Saturday 22nd September

I had 2 goals for this race.
Goal 1 - 10hrs for 100k for a Spartathlon qualifier (hence entering a 24hr Track Race in the first place)
Goal 2 - If 100k reached in 10 hours then I would have 14hrs to complete a minimum of 38 miles to reach 100 miles (but with my usual arrogance, I beleived 14hrs could give me a second 100k no problem, to reach a total of 200k (124 miles) in 24hrs and in the Glenmore 24hr which was trail and hilly I had reached 112 plus miles, just another 12 miles on a flat course, how hard can that be? I had never understimated the challenge though, I knew it would be mentally tough and running on the flat would cause havoc with my joints and muscles.)

The course was a 400 metre track situated in Tooting Bec London. I travelled down on the train early on the Saturday morning, the race start would be at 1200. The night before I couldnt sleep, (nightmares) and had managed a total of 2hours, all week I had been suffering from night sweats and nightmares. Possibly I guess a mild bug, the insides of my knees causing me a huge amount of pain (overpronating  when I forget to concentrate on landing midfoot and end up heel striking, I have worn superfeet for years to cure fallen arches/severe overpronation  and they worked, taking me from a 13.5 foot to a 12 - 12.5 foot, over the last year I have concentrated on running more as a midfoot runner to avoid pronation, thus removing my superfeet, this works well but sometimes after running 15-20 hours I falter back to my heel strike. While I am wearing Hokas landing on my midfoot is great but Heel striking in them with the added height they have with all the cushioniong causes more pressure on my ankles and knees when I overpronate, strangley enough my ankles dont notice it but my knees do and so does my lower back.)

I met Ernie Jewson and Debbie who were to crew me at the event. I had first met Ernie when he  had supported both myself and Mike Mason in the 2007 West Highland Way (the 2007 WHW had seen me collapse at Kinlochleven with Rhabdmylosis, while at the checkpoint, Ernie had removed my shoes and had taken them away to stop me from continuing on at the race and risking my life. Hours later I was in Fort Williams intensive care unit) Ernie has run countless GUCR'S plus 2 Thames Ring Ultras (250miles non stop) Ernie had texted me a while back trying to get me to sign up to the Thames Ring Ultra by text, his message went 'Jon you need to enter this, you'd love it!, I was talking to the flowers for 4 hours'
(extreme sleep deprivation makes you do funny things!!)  that year at the Thames Ring runners had fallen into the canal, mmm that would of been me!  I had supported Debbie on her last few miles of a GUCR in 2011, one tough lady!!  Julien Pansiot also came along to support me, Julien has a fantastic blog called 'life is an ultramarathon' Julien has been a good freinf for a few years and lives in London. We had met via the UTMB, Julien had also ran the innagrual Hardmoors 110 in 2012, and regularly runs the Hardmoors 55 and last years Hardmoors 60. In my 2011 Hardmoors 110 run, Julien had directed the race for me while I was competing. Aside the Hardmoors Julien had completed the PTL (the UTMB on steroids) My support team was VERY experienced and an awesome bunch of freinds. They set up camp alongside the track and we waited for the off. I was running in Hokas and the great thing with 24hr track events you dont have to carry a thing! 45 off us set off, some walking,  others jogging slowly, I set off at a comfortable pace (10 minuts miling) as I looked around me there was only a handfull running at this pace. I found myself alongside Jim Rogers ( Jim has been ultrarunning for over 20 years and is a hell of a runner, representing the uk on numerous occasions, he resides in Hull and a man I have a huge amount of respect for, his best distance for a 24hr track event being 151 miles!) we chatted for a while, he was using the event as a qualifier for Spartathlon too, but would stop when he had reached 100k.What slighly worried me was that I was running at his pace, so I was definatley running too fast!
I dropped the pace down and gave myself the target of running for the first 5 hours then would walk a few laps. We had been allocated lap counters and every hour our position and mileage would be placed on a board for us to see, in the first few hours I was in about 8th place ( this would drop and drop) Every step I took in those 24hrs I was conscious of, I didnt switch off for one minute! couldnt loose myself in my thoughts, I knew exactly where I was and couldnt remove myself from the situation.
Alan Rumbles popped by to see me (he was due to fly out later to Greece to compete in this years Spartathlon) he knew this was my qualifiying attempt) I found myself more and more walking laps, the pain in my knees only subdued when I walked. I was eating and drinking well, my crew where doing a fantastic job, Alan told me I needed to run a marathon in about 4 hours to be in line with my 100k in 10 hrs, I started to make a concerted effort but after a few strong laps I found myself walking again. I started to feel really awful, I looked at my watch it wasnt happening! I couldnt do it. I had nothing in my legs, I couldnt escape the pain and any motivation I had, had vanished, I struggled through a couple more laps and staggered up to Julien and told him that was me done. I was unsure if I was going to burst into tears or throw up. They guided me into the tent as I started to shiver, I was so so cold, and apparantley as white as a ghost. I shut my eyes and tried to sleep. That was it, I was not going to run another lap, I was beaten.

Thirty minutes or so later Ernie cooked me fried eggs and beans, I wolved it down and  felt a lot better. They talked me round into getting back on the track, the colour had returned back to my face. It was freezing, I put tights on, buffs and a down jacket and set off walking, after awhile I satrted to run and warm up.I started to feel motivated again and set  my aim on 100 miles. A while later I was back to walking.

The rest of the 24 hours was scattered with motivated sections of running strongly and less motivated sections of walking plus a first for me, I stopped for an hour to have a sleep, I never sleep on Ultras, even on my 2009 UTMB when I had ran for over 42 hours I didnt sleep! Lack of mental stimulation was destroying my motivation and every footstep I took I  was aware of I just couldnt switch off. This was one tough race. My body apart from my knees (what stopped hurting after 16 hours) was fine, possibly strong thanks to all the conditioning 35 ultras had given it plus regular massages of my quads and calves Ernie kept giving me. I ran and chatted on and off with Matt Moraz, a great guy who had ran the L100 and the WHW plus various desert ultras's Matt certainly helped the minutes go by. We also ran for breif stages with Antonia Johnson, Antonia was running strong ( completed over 190k in the end) She had ran a 22hr WHW this year and was still pretty young. I imagine we will see great things from this lady if she keeps on ultrarunning!

20 hours into the race I started to feel stronger and ran more, and when I ran my pace was faster. Eventually we where down to our last 20 minutes or so, now it was easy to run. It felt strange running with the person next to me who was 30 miles ahead of me! and the person in front of me was in fact 15 miles behind me! Crazy! everyone was starting to get quite emotional, patting each other on the back, the cammerderie was phenomenal. It was fantastic to see and feel part of. We where passed our small sandbags (we would place these where we finished when the hooter was blown to mark the race finish. This way they could measure the exact distance we had run.

With the last minute slipping away I realised I could get another lap in, so I sprinted as hard as I could and completed the lap with seconds to go. The hooter went and so did my legs, Debbie caught me, it was over at last!

Later in the day I got the underground to Kings Cross carrying a big heavy bag and of course the majority of bloody underground escalators werent working, not good on tired quads! My train to York wasnt until 2200hrs, it was 1330hrs (I booked the cheapest trains I could for the trip) I popped into the ticket office to see if I could transfer my ticket to an earlier train, well for £90 I could, so I sat and waited for over 8 hours (Heavy rain outside, tired legs and a heavy bag stopped me from doing any sight seeing. I think I probably spent £90 on coffees ;o)

Looking back, the event was something very special! not the running round the track but the competitors/support crews/organisers/marshalls/timekeepers and most importantly Ernie, Debbie and Julien who looked after me for all those hours, who encouraged me, put up with my moods, fed and watered me, massaged me and tried to keep my spirits high. Thank you!

My distance wasnt great compared to my goals, 89 miles instead of 120 miles and a personal worse in the shape of 100k in 16hrs on a flat surface!! but hey this was my second 24hr in the space of less then a month. My body didnt let me down my head did!

Would I do it again? maybe! still got unfinished buisness! still want 200k. Well what about Sparta? Well looks like Im entering the 147 mile Viking Way Race in March 2013 then!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

ULTRAS NO 30 - 35

Yet again I have been pretty busy so sorry for not posting for ages.

Since the Lakeland 100, I have ran the 'Dovedale Dipper' a 26mile route (plus 2 extra miles to make it an ultra) The event took place on Sunday 5th August, 1 week after the Lakeland. The Dovedale Dipper is a beautiful hilly course in the White Peak. (Ultra 30)

Jenny Wyles to the left and David Cremmins behind at the Dovedale Dipper

The weekend after I decided to rest and went down to watch a great race in the Peak District called the 'Long Tour of Bradwell' I wildcamped the evening before and did a few miles of running around Hollins Cross. Lose Hill and Edale. The race looked pretty brutal and good fun, certainly one for next year.

The reason for the weekends rest was to help prepare myself for another Bob Graham attempt.
I travelled down to the Lakes with Shirley on Friday 17th August, met up with Garry Scott, Flip, Jen and Ken Wyles, Karen Mc Donald and Craig. Leg 1 went well despite a very wet and claggy descent of Hall's Fell  which ate away at the time and gave myself and Garry kittens (especially as I remembered and then decided to tell Garry the story of a friend who was supporting on a BGR and had fallen of here and had woken up a month or so later in a hospital with a broken neck!) Garry of course thanked me for that story;o). We eventually dropped into Threkeld bang on time and set off up Clough Head with Shirley, Flip, Jenny and Andy Scaife (plus mate)  Clough Head felt exceptionally steep and painful on the quads. My climb was pretty slow and there seemed to be nothing left in my legs to push with.(more the lack of recovery time in my legs then running the first BGR leg.

On reaching the Summit of Clough Head the clag was down and  once again no visibility ( becoming a regular occurrence with leg 2) Then the heavens opened up and Andy really had his work cut out navigating. Without reliving another painful story Ill cut it short  here. The weather deteriorated pretty badly, some of my pacers headed off the hill and I pushed onto Fairfield very much behind schedule, I recognised the symptoms of Hypothermia and in haste managed to take a bad line off Fairfield, in our confused state we ended up dropping off quite a way west off Fairfield. Hours later we arrived at Dunmail Raise and could see John Vernon and Garry Scott in the distance looking for us. I greeted them both and a dozen or so metres away was Shirley, I ran over to her and we hugged each other. I had been missing for hours and purely by mistake my warm kit was in somebody elses bag who had dropped off the hill earlier. She had been so worried that something pretty serious had happened to me in the awful weather conditions. They had been on the verge of calling Mountain Rescue. Shirley had told me that John V had been watching the mountains for hours without a break, scanning the area for signs of us! What a guy to have on your team. Many thanks to my support team (some I never got chance to actually meet) who had generously given up their weekend to help me have another BGR bash

I had completed over 27 miles in the two sections plus the extra few miles gained taking the wrong line off Fairfield, so an Ultramarathon distance was reached! (Ultra 31)

L-R Ken Wyles, Jenny Wyles, Craig, Me and Shirley, Flip, Garry Scott outside the Moot Hall (Keswick)

                                                         SMUGGLERS TROD (Ultra 32)

I ran the LDWA's 25th Smugglers Trod, an event I had wanted to run for several years but due to it being usually on the same weekend as the UTMB I had always missed it. The event starts at Robin Hoods Bay and dips between Moorland and coastal paths. A beautiful but pretty muddy route. The course was 26 miles long, I did a fraction short of 30  ;0). One course that is better to reccy first, or follow somebody who actually knows where they are going ;0))) I passed the same runners 6 times in the course and I never saw them overtake me once!!

                                                          GLENMORE 24 (Ultra 33)

Wow what an event! I need to do a bigger write up then this so for now ill just post the stats
Glenmore is a 24 hour event, which incorporates 4 mile hilly loops with the Cairngorms for scenery.
I took 5th place and completed 112 miles. Blog to follow.. (Ultra 34)


This was my second running of the event, last year I had completed it in 4hrs 19, this year 5hrs 26mins. Lovely route, fantastic weather. Trashed quads from the Glenmore 24 downhill (taken a bit fast) and the loss of most of my toenails plus the attached skin, had left my toes as bloody stumps, made the last 15 miles of the event pretty painful. I had to walk the majority of the  last 10miles as my quads felt like I had completed 3 hours of weighted squats prior to the race. ( throughout the challenge, my quads seem to have been the one muscle that takes longer to recover. Glutes are never touched, sometimes DOMS in my calves and no real problem with my hamstrings. Flat courses I'm fine running but don't have the speed in my legs at the moment, the ascents are where I currently have the problem and descents I just suffer and take them at speed using gravity. I believe there may be quite a bit of inflammation around my knees but just try to ignore it.)  27 miles in total (added just under an extra mile to make it an Ultra) 

Coming up..... Tooting Bec 24hr Track Race (Self Transcendence)
                       My aims for this event are 100k in 10 hours (Spartathlon qualifier) 200k in 24 hours
                       This will be my first track race so should be pretty interesting. The laps are 400m long.


Thursday, 9 August 2012

Lakeland 100

The pain in my feet ,seems to dominate my very existence ! Every footstep is agony and it had been for the last 37 odd hours, I had 5 miles left to run/walk/crawl, Only 5 miles and the Lakeland 100 would be completed and I could stop, I could sit down, I could end this continuous forward progression, but this wouldn’t just be 5 miles, it would contain a steep climb then an excruatating painful rocky descent on badly blistered feet and trashed legs. I look to my left and hanging from the trees are 2 rotting corpses, I look away and back at the trees, they are still there, I know they are hallucinations, but for a second I think they are real, I have had dozen of hallucinations in past 100 milers but nothing so sombre, at least I hope they are Hallucinations? I look ahead and Carl is moving quite well ahead of me so I try to speed up and thus doing so catch my toes on a rock and am wracked by pain. Will this torture ever stop? I open my eyes and realise I have stopped, I am facing the opposite direction of where I am going to and I have an arm forward with my palm out almost like I am accepting something? I have no recollection, am I going mad? I carry on for a bit, I shut off again, the pain in my legs brings me back to life, I’m trying to kneel down? Why? Its like something is taking me over? I try to focus but my body is shutting down, this is 46 hours without sleep, I’ve gone longer before, much longer. I look to the floor, there are dozens of skulls scattered around my feet, How am I going to step over these?
In 2011 Shirley and I had run the Lakeland 100, Shirley had pulled out at the 75 mile point after bravely pushing on to the point she couldn’t take anymore pain with her feet . I finished the race in just over 36 hours, the pain in my feet had started to become too much when I tried to run and had to walk the majority of the way from Dalemain after arriving in pain at Dalemain but being up on a sub 30 schedule.
We had both worn Sealskin socks from the start to keep our feet dry while heading over to Boot through the marshy ground, unfortunately water got into the socks and stayed there for 50 odd miles, by the time the socks got changed at Dalemain the damage had been done and ‘Trench foot’ had taken hold, every rock stood on or caught proved to be agony. When the 2012 entries came out I bought Shirley her entry for her birthday and I entered to get my revenge on the race and get my time down nearer to the 30 hour mark!
The Lakeland 100 was to be one of my 4 big runs of the year (95miles plus) A month before I had run the 95mile West Highland Way Race in just over 24 hours, facing 19 hours of constant torrential rain escaping with a couple of blisters, not bad for spending a day in what seemed ankle deep water.
The Lakeland 100 would also be the 29th Ultra I had ran in 2012.
Lakeland would be an experiment, would all the Ultras already ran effect me, would I be stronger or weaker?
Shirley had been working in Saudi Arabia since October 2011 and had also undergone ankle sugary before she had flown out there, so Shirley’s Lakeland 100 training had started in January 2012 but was confined to running on a treadmill in a ladies only gym in Jeddah. We had run the 45 mile Wadi Bih in Oman in Februrary and the Blubberhouses 25 a month or two later, plus a 30 mile training run on the Cleveland Way in June but apart from that her training had been Treadmill and the odd ‘Hash’ (and no! not the type you smoke)

We arrived at the ‘John Ruskin School’ at 1500 hours a couple hours before the race start leaving enough time to register, put up the tent and relax, the relaxing didn’t happen! At 1730 after chatting to Nick Ham and Garry Scott and a few more familiar faces we set off on our adventure. I ran with Shirley for 10 minutes or so, kissed her and pushed on up to the ‘Walma Scar Road’, the going felt ok but still very early to comment. The descent down to Seathwaite didn’t feel as good as it should of done, I passed a dozen or so runners but still ran cautiously not like my normal self, my quads felt sore and my knees were giving me some pain which was worrying at this early stage but slowing down on the descent would of put more pressure on my knees by holding back. I arrived at the Seathwaite checkpoint and saw Mark Dalton and Helen Witham leaving, I would of liked to have dibbed my dibber ;0) and jetted of to catch them up but I needed a pitstop and this checkpoint had the luxury of a proper toilet. I set off over to Boot and ran with Dudley Manning I knew Dudley from running the Hardmoors110 in June and we both struggled over the boggy ground after Grassguards. It was particularly bad this year and I ended on the floor more times than I care to admit. The descent down towards Boot was just as bad, I slipped and slid down the hillside several metres on my backside, to any onlookers the sight must have been hilarious but I was sick of been caked in mud, the mud on my hands getting everywhere, water bottle tops etc, it was a relief to run on country lanes where I caught up with Tony Holland, I knew him from face book and he had run the Hardmoors 55 earlier this year but never really met him then with me running the route too. Tony was doing an Ultra a month for charity and this was his first year of running Ultras! What an inspirational guy!
Boot checkpoint was reached and my legs felt very sore, almost like ‘DOMS’ which worried me a little as in the 2007 West Highland Way Race I had been hospitalised with Rhabdmylosis, and in the early stages of the race my quads had felt the same as they did now! I reasoned to myself that all the Ultras were taking there toll and my legs weren’t getting time to fully recover.
The brief climb up to Burnmoor Tarn is worth it for the stunning views over to the Wasdale mountains with the water in the foreground, this is one of my favourite sections, skirting by the Lakeland Giants, Scafell close by and Gable, Kirk Fell etc in the distance with Yewbarrow opposite, not as tall but bloody steep as any one who has ran a Bob Graham Round will tell you. The descent down to the valley which I had flown down last year racing another runner for fun, had to be at first taken slower due to the wet grass then it was my quads and knees screaming out in pain as I took the stone path. I reached the bottom and eventually joined the road, this was easy but painful running. I left the road to join a very slippery path where again I spent more times on my backside then on my feet , minutes later I was at the Wasdale Head checkpoint filling up on coke, I donned my head torch and set off for Black Sail and the way my legs where feeling, a climb I was dreading. On the climb itself my legs seemed to have no power and I fell into a slow trudge. John Kynaston caught up with me, John was a good friend and I didn’t recognise his voice at first. John holds a very impressive sub 20hrs time on the West Highland Way Race and has ran the Hardmoors 110 and 55. This year he was having a break from the WHW (which he is now part of the Race committee) he was looking strong and pushed on at a speed I was jealous of. I had a nice chat with Steven Foster who was looking strong and he pushed on ahead as I slowed down. The summit was reached and I followed a long line of runners down the treacherous descent down into Black Sail, last year I had flown down this descent but this year it seemed to be so slippery and last year I was wearing fell running shoes. Eventually the valley was reached and I looked in through the window at the Black Sail Youth Hostel with jealousy, looked so cosy in there.
I climbed Scarth Gap over to Buttermere, the descent is pretty tricky in the light but by head torch isn’t easy. I enjoy technical descents and soon was on a decent track. I dropped down to the shores of Buttermere and enjoyed a nice runnable route to checkpoint 4, I passed several runners who were walking and felt pretty strong (for once) Buttermere Checkpoint was outside and quite surreal, I filled up on coke and grabbed a handfull of gels (this impressed me, being a celiac Im usualy resigned to my fate as checkpoints are never gluten free friendly, ie I cant eat flapjacks, cake, biscuits, soup as it contains noodles etc etc, but this cp had energy gels and energy bars) The Montane photographer was there taking hundreds of pics, he was looking for pain on peoples faces, no smiling, he took dozens of me ! He said I looked haggard or something similar :0).
The route to CP 5 (Braithwaite) involved a couple of smaller climbs and contouring a hillside,
at one point I slipped off the path and fell a dozen feet or so downhill, a pretty close call!
I missed the Braithwaite Checkpoint and had to retrace my steps. The Checkpoint was inside a village hall and on entering took a few seconds to adjust to the light. Mark Dalton greeted me as I came in, this started to become a regular occurrence, I would arrive at a cp just as Mark was leaving (maybe I smell, well actually I did, pretty bad!!) I saw Carl Hobbins and we exchanged greetings, for the rest of the race we would be running together on and off.
Leaving the hall it had started to pour down, so on came the waterproof. Parts of the next section are my least favourite. I ran alongside the main road for awhile (luckily quiet in the early hours of the morning) and then with a group of runners we ran alongside an old railway line track. The route then cuts over a footbridge onto the Skiddaw/Latrigg path, this bit I don’t mind, I have been up here dozens of times on Bob Graham Rounds/attempts etc, the climb isn’t too steep but a good excuse to walk and after the flat running gave me a great stretch in my legs. The Latrigg carpark was reached and we headed towards Jenkin Hill, but luckily not climbing it as it is pretty steep to say the least! A couple of runners passed us heading up that way, a woman not carrying anything and a man carrying a bag, I thought this must be a BGR attempt, I called after them and asked if they were, she replied ‘yes’ so I wished them luck! ( I found out later the lady was ‘Nicky Spinks’ she was attempting the Ladies Bob Graham record and she did it, she got round in 18 hours or so) Running as a group we contoured around the hillside to reach a self dibber at the out and back point and continued contouring the hillside at the other side of the small valley. We soon reached checkpoint 6 Blencathra Centre.
Blencathra Centre cp was indoors this year, I stuck into the coke had some gels, yet again Mark Dalton was sat at the checkpoint when I arrived there, he left a few minutes before I did. I headed off with a few others to the next checkpoint. We descended to the old railway lines, The others pressed ahead while I slowed down. John Pitchford rang alongside me and we had a good chat. John lives about 7 miles away from me (small world) he is also running the Hardmoors 60, we chatted about other races, triathlons etc. Along the path a lady walking her dog asked us what we were doing, we explained we where running a 100 mile race , she smiled and said her brothers were fell runners, only turned out her brothers where Stuart and Billy Bland! Billy has the record for the fastest Bob Graham Round completion in under 14 hours while Stuart ran it in 15 hours, Billys record has stood for years.

Cutting across the marshlands to the Old Coach Road I started to feel pretty rough. I went for my water bottle and realised I hadn’t filled it up at Blencathra! Classis mistake.. The more I thought about it the worse I felt . John had pressed on by this time, I just pushed on as best as I could, another runner passed me, I explained the situation and he gave me some of his drink but he didn’t have much himself ( I was that out of it at the time, I cant remember who he was, so thank you if by chance you are reading this, actually I will apologise because a lot of the races events are a blur so if I chatted to someone and have not included it in this race report then I have forgotten at this point of time) The Old Coach Road seemed to go on forever. Ahead of me taking photographs while I was staggering about the track like I was dying from dehydration in the Sahara desert was the Montane Photographer, catching me yet again looking VERY haggard! I asked him how far the checkpoint was and he said it was pretty close. He looked and sounded pretty worried about me, I smiled and thought this is nothing, I’m still upright and not on a drip in a hospital ward like I have been several times after pushing myself to and through the limits. Eventually I arrived at Checkpoint 7 and what a surprise Mark Dalton was there. I must of looked pretty bad as the marshals where milling around me getting me fluids etc, according to one of the runners I was as white as a ghost. After a quick drink and remembering to fill my water bottles up I was on my way, the next checkpoint was to be Dalemain around about the 60 mile mark, then all that was left would be 45 miles.
The route follows a few roads before coming to a climb up to Gowbarrow, the sun was shining and it was all very reminiscent of the 2011 L100. The views over Ullswater from Gowbarrow are stunning, its always a shame not to stop and relax while taking in the view of this beautiful scene. I continued down roads over fields and coming into Dalemain caught up with Carl. Dalemain is a busy place, the race start of the Lakeland 50 and also the point to access your drop bags, entering the marquee/checkpoint there were bodies splayed out everywhere, all either eating or fixing their feet, low and behold amongst the group was Mark Dalton. I refuelled and changed my socks, John Pitchford had given me a spare pair after I realised I hadn’t put any spare socks in my drop bag, the socks where a size medium and I take a size xl 12-13, strange enough even with swollen feet I got into them okay. John was a lifesaver. My feet where bad, but not as bad as in 2011. In 2011 I had arrived here 2 and a half hours quicker but with wrecked feet (trench foot and badly blistered on the soles) walking had been so painful after. I checked my watch, aggravated that I was so much slower this year (I suppose all the ultras where eating up my speed, but I can look forward to 2013 and coming into races fresh and smashing my 2012 times)
Mark Dalton had left, so I set off on my quest to try to eventually catch him up. I bumped into Danny Aldus who was waiting for the race start of the 50, he had a great race coming in under 10 hours! Danny was saving himself for the TDS (one of the UTMB races, shorter but in some ways tougher than the UTMB) We had a catch up and then I set off walking, Howton would be my next port of call. After a mile or so I caught up with another runner, Ben Leigh Brown We decided to run together and talked about running and other races as we pushed on through Pooley Bridge and followed the path towards Howton. Ben had ran the L100 in 2011 but had not finished the race, this year he was back to make amends, he looked strong and I believed he would finish, but it ant over to the fat lady sings or so they say and you never know what may happen later in the game. (Checking back on the results I was pleased to see he had finished several hours in front of me) Along the stretch to Howton the Lakeland 50 runners started to pass us by, the lead runners were flying, I looked on in envy what I would have given to have some of that speed and energy in my legs at that time. The majority of the L50 runners congratulated us as they went by. Our race numbers also have our names on and which event we are doing on , the race numbers are on our bags so any runner coming up knows if you are a 50 runner or a hundred runner plus your name, after 65 miles of running you forget these things and when they pass you and say ‘well done Jonathan’ you are left thinking ‘How do they know my name?’ We arrived at a very busy Howton checkpoint , but no Mark Dalton, obviously I had now either slowed down or he had speeded up. Or more likely both. I was looking out for Danny Aldus and Andy Cole, both running the 50 and was expecting them to pass me at anytime along the way. Looking back it must have been at this checkpoint , while I was inside they must have passed through quickly. My feet were really starting to become painful, so I necked a handful of painkillers and we left Howton for Mardale. In 2011 I reached Howton on my own to a very quiet checkpoint being run by Si Berry and Karen McDonald from Runfurther, I had awful toothache so Karen gave me some sensodyene toothpaste to put on it, in minutes it worked, it wasn’t until close to Mardale the lead L50 runners had passed me.
Leaving Howton checkpoint we passed Carl who was going into the cp, I wasn’t sure at Dalemain if he had being going to pull out, he had been suffering with his stomach, we told him to catch us up. The route towards Mardale takes you on a muddy journey along a valley floor and then up what seems at that stage a big climb and then a descent down to Hawsewater, the route follows an undulating path along the side of the Lake/Mere? For several miles (which seems a dozen) to the Mardale Checkpoint. I could imagine on the 50 after the climb it’s a pretty fast piece of ground to cover. After 20 odd hours of running on battered feet and trashed legs it isn’t. The climb lasted forever and Ben pushed ahead on this climb, I didn’t see him again, Carl caught me up and we suffered together, eventually reaching the summit we started the descent but my quads refused to leap over water filled ditches and on steep sections of descents my legs wouldn’t bend due to the pain in my quads. Last year I had flown down this descent, no problems with my legs just pain in my feet. I remembered a waterfall on the way down and we filled up with water, I washed my legs and the cold water seemed to help loosen them off a bit. We joined the lower path and set off on a walk with an occasional jog. What seemed to be hours later I arrived with Carl at the Mardale checkpoint. The checkpoint was predominately 2 tents, the weather had started to become pretty chilly and wet, I found a seat in the first tent and Carl got me some soup, this tent had quite a few people sat in it waiting to be shipped back to Coniston, they were L50 and 100 runners who for whatever reason couldn’t continue, a couple of the 50 runners looked in a bad way, one shivering uncontrollably . I took my socks off, my feet where a mess, a combination of trench foot and huge blisters between my toes and on the soles of my feet. A runner who was sat next to me very kindly gave me his spare socks, he was pulling out here and said he didn’t need them. While I was changing my socks, my friend the Montane photographer popped into the tent and recognised me, he saw my feet and gave me a worried look. He had this knack of turning up while I was at my worst, or was I at my worst all the time? Another cup of soup later one of the marshals entered the tent and said ‘whose for a lift?’ one guy pointed to nearly everyone in the tent including me, tempting as it was I declined and got up quickly (well kind of quickly ;0) ) With Jacket hat and gloves on I set off over the pass with Carl to head for Kentmere.
The climb over the pass was tough but changing my socks had temporarily helped. I looked behind and saw a couple catching me up on the climb. I took a double look, it was Shirley, or was it? I stood there glaring, as they got closer I apologised. It wasn’t Shirley, I explained why I had been staring, they passed by and I continued on, Carl was quite a bit ahead by this time. I stopped to take a leak. Unsure of how long later, seconds?, minutes? I awoke and realised I had gone to sleep while having a wee! I looked around luckily nobody had seen me. I pushed on to make a concerted effort to speed up and at the top of the climb I caught Carl up and we took the long descent down to the valley below. Thank god I was wearing Hokas!, the path was a mixture of boulders, and rubble all pretty easy to twist your ankle on. I blotted out the foot pain and we both made the most of gravity, we flew down the track passing a dozen of runners along the way, feeling quite good and strong when the bridleway levelled out we continued running. This felt more like it, at this pace we could get some time back and I would stand a chance of catching the elusive Mr Dalton up! Then a spanner was dropped in the works! We missed the turning off the road, looking at the map we decided not to retrace our steps as the next right would join us up with the route we were supposed to take, by this time a l50 competitor (sorry I forgot your name) with his dog who had made the same mistake caught up with us and we all tried to rejoin the route. Cutting through a farmyard following footpath signs we where only a short distance away from the L100 route and then all the markers vanished, there was one path off to the left, so we followed that one which led to a stone wall,. To cut a long story short we wasted well over an hour looking for the route and had possibly covered several miles of knee height bogs. Eventually we stumbled on the route. We said goodbye to our new friend and his dog and set up a pretty good pace to try to catch all the people we had passed a couple of hours ago back up. The route into Kentmere can be quite confusing but we were luckily behind some runners who knew the way. Last year when I had done this section I was blindly following another runner so didn’t remember this section. The Kentmere Checkpoint was reached and we had completed over 75 miles. The Kentmere checkpoint was indoors, well stocked and full of runners relaxing or being massaged. We had agreed to get in get some food and get out of the checkpoint as quick as possible. Carl caught up with some friends, I necked a couple of fruit smoothies and we set off.
The next checkpoint would be in Ambleside. First though we would have a climb over the Garburn Pass, a descent into Troutbeck and then another climb out of Troutbeck followed by a wooded descent into Ambleside. I felt pretty strong ascending the pass, Carl’s friends who were running the L50 caught us up and we all climbed together, we left them on the descent and once again got a descent pace over the rough track down to Troutbeck, yes it hurt, it crucified my feet but if I had gone slower then it still would of hurt. We climbed out of Troutbeck and I had to stop at a bench to sort my feet out, the pain was pretty intense, I took my shoes off but I had no more spare socks, so replaced my shoes and got back to my feet. By this time we were back in a group and we all headed over to Ambleside. The descent down to Ambleside is a pain in the backside. It is a steep woodland section which isn’t the easiest to negotiate on tired legs, eventually we reached the road, Carl and I left the group and ran ahead arriving at the Ambleside Checkpoint based in the Lakes Runner Shop.
We refuelled, and set off for the leg I had been dreading since the start of the race. Last year 20 minutes after leaving Ambleside my body started to shut down and I could barely keep awake. Bits I remember where a haze of pain and hallucinations, a combination of tiredness from lack of sleep, sheer pain in my feet and too many painkillers. This year I was in sheer pain with my feet again but at least awake. We cut through Ambleside, and headed on our journey to the next checkpoint, I was awake but don’t remember much of this part of the route, only it seemed to go on forever, running alongside rivers, houses down lanes, we only saw a couple of runners and eventually we reached the Lamgdale Checkpoint. Again my memory fails me at this point. We left the Checkpoint heading for the next Checkpoint at Tiberthwaite. We followed a very muddy and slippery path for quite a while, every minute or so I would slip over, regain my footing and repeat the process, at long last we climbed uphill and joined a road briefly. Last year just before this climb, I had been in such a bad way that I had stopped and had sat down and slept a little. From just outside Ambleside I had bumped into another runner and we had teamed up, he had been trying to keep me awake, I told him to continue while I had stopped for awhile. Dozens of people had passed me while I had stopped, I realised I couldn’t quit there as Id have to go to the next cp to quit or back to the last one. I had thought ‘sod it’ and necked some more painkillers, put on my headphones and listened to ‘Guns and Roses ‘ and started to run, I began to pass people, the more people I passed the stronger I got, I had made my own path through the bracken to pass a good chunk of runners, I kept the pace up to Tiberthwaite and must of passed well over 3 dozen runners! At the top of the descent down into the Coppermines it had hit me, the pain in my feet, the tiredness, everything! That was it the temporary lift I had received had gone! I literally staggered the last couple of miles to the Race Finish where Shirley had come out to greet me. I didn’t have the energy to smile at her. (The guy who had helped me from Ambleside and I had told to go on while I rested, actually finished 2 hours after me,)
We headed through some woods then the hallucinations began to occur, I have had hallucinations dozens of times before but not like these, these are like my worst nightmares, corpses hanging from trees, rotting flesh hanging from them, skulls everywhere. This is first light, my head torch was off and everywhere I look there is something barbaric. We pushed on to the self-dibber and dropped down the road and passed the farmhouses on the track to Tiberthwaite. Carl looked back every now and then just to check I was still there, I was there in body, nothing else. I keep drifting off asleep and waking up facing in the opposite direction, then would push myself to continue on, a few minutes later I would be back asleep again and I would wake up to find my arms outstretched to the side as if accepting something off someone. I could see the checkpoint at last and I pushed myself on to jog.
We left Tiberthwaite for another climb and headed up high for a couple of miles. At Ambleside I had put my Garmin Forerunner on so I could count down the last 15 miles, my Garmin will only give 7 hours of GPS on a good day. We had about 4-5 miles left. Eventually we reached the descent which took us down to the Coppermines, this descent is pretty technical when you have been on your feet for over 38 hours, it was wet and my Hokas wouldn’t grip on wet grass. On reaching the bottom there was a track/road descent which we start running, there were 3 of us L100 runners and we picked up the speed as the descent steepened. We come into Coniston maintaining the speed and eventually reached the road leading to the Race finish, Carl started to sprint, I felt someone behind me so I did too, I heard someone say, ‘wow look they are L100 runners and look how fast they are running now‘, this spurred me on and I increase my speed again, and just as I am about to reach the finish line the guy behind me just passes me and dibs his dibber seconds before mine. I look at his pack and after all that he’s a L50 runner. They announce a Lakeland 100 runner is entering the finish, Carl had gone in seconds before me, the guy who piped me at the post is walking in front of me, he hears the announcement and realises everyone thinks he’s a l100 runner, he then realises the two he was racing where L100 runners not L50 runners. On entering the building to a huge applause, my eyes started to dampen and the medal is presented to me plus the T-Shirt, I look for Carl and shake his hand. Another Ultra ticked off!
Shirley came in a couple of hours after me, looking fresh as a daisy. We spent a couple of hours after the race chatting to Friends, catching up with Nic Ham who couldn’t run due to illness, Mark Barnes who was manning his Hoka stand. Andy Cole who put in a superb time in the L50 sub 10hrs at 64 years of age! Garry Scott who had a great race in 31 hours, bettering his time by 5 or so hours. Mark Legget and Helen Legget, Mark had finished in just over 30 hours! John Kynaston who with blistered feet had got round in 34 hours. Dave T who smashed it and came 11th in just over 25 hours!! Helen Witham who came in around about the 31 hour mark. Julie Gardner again around 30 hours, and John Vernon who dropped out late in the race, feeling pretty tired still from a rather hilly 100 mile race he had ran in Spain a fortnight ago.
I apologise if I haven’t mentioned everyone I chatted to .
The elusive Mr Dalton finished around the 34 hour mark! 4 hours quicker than me.. Maybe next time………………