Friday, 11 December 2009

A quick update!

Not much running has been done in the past few weeks for one reason or another. The dark nights, the cold nights, being away a little more with work and having a bit of a cold. Any way I did to do the Dave Staff Fell Race which was quite good however it did highlight to me some of the fitness I have lost as I was a whole 2 mins slower than last year. Then I also entered a Night Orienteering event in Kendal. That was funny as Albert and I managed to cover a whole 2.5km in 66-70mins, not too bad a pace I’m sure you’ll agree :-S

Since then I have tried to pick up on the training runs. I went head torch running with Albert, Tony and Emma but ended up letting them go ahead as I just couldn’t keep up. Plus I have tried to make Tuesday night Horwich track sessions so will try to keep that up from now. This week was also the 5th round of the SROC Street Orienteering at Hest Bank (Lancaster) with a tough course (route wise) and I didn’t manage to get my usual average of over 700 points.

Working late last night so I missed the hill session but I might nip out for a run later as Josh isn’t at track tonight so I’m unusually free.

Tomorrow is another orienteering event in Whalley (Blackburn) and Albert and I are planning to make the trip. I’m going to tackle the technical course this time though to see how I fair.

As for Sunday, Josh has Sunday football but it only starts at 12PM so I’m going to do my best to get out of the house for about 7AM and head over Winter Hill for a few hours. Just got to run that by Joanne first :-S

Catch you soon!!!

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Wednesday night saw the 4th Night Street league in Cottam. Driving past the start doesn’t bode well for taking part in an orienteering event.

Emma managed to make this event and she was hoping to get some map reading practice. Emma and I had planned to run together at the first event but unfortunately Emma didn’t manage to make the event do to…..communication problems! Albert and Neil had already registered and were just readying to set off as Emma and I came out of the pub. I think Albert didn’t want me following him.

Emma decided that as per the plan on the 1st event, we would run together tonight. Emma got her map 1 minute before me and had 1 minute to plan a route before I got mine. Don’t think it made much difference though as Emma seemed to look at the map blankly to start with. However when I started I did forget one key thing and that was to start my stopwatch. I did ask one of the other runners though en-route and we managed to work out what time we needed to be back for.

I tried to let Emma do some map reading but I think the competitive side of me kept taking over and whilst Emma was still looking at the map, sometimes I was already heading off in the direction of the next point. 1/2 way round we saw Albert who yet again suggested he wasn’t doing too well. Shortly after finding two pig shaped statues we headed for the only 1 of 5  60 point points. The 2nd 1/2 of our route though was definitely the muddiest, including a leap over a small stream and a dash to the finish within the allotted time.

I never managed to catch Albert and Neil at the finish as they headed straight off so Emma and I stayed for food and a drink. Chatting to one of the other runners, tonight's map was a higher scoring map which explains my 870 point score (my average is about 700 points).

One more event before Xmas and 5 more after Xmas. It’s a great alternative to normal running and if you fancy something different then you should give it a try. There is a Night event a week saturday in the woods near Kendal which I might have a go at to add a different flavour to the orienteering scene for me.

For more information visit
Results at

Saturday, 21 November 2009

It’s been a bad week!

Well this week has seen ZERO miles on the running front. Monday I was tired from Sundays long run, then Tuesday was my birthday and we went out for a meal. Wednesday and Thursday saw me over in Dublin working so no running still and Friday, out again to Bradford with Josh’s running club in the evening.

I had hoped to run today but Joanne had other plans and then this afternoon I just lost all motivation. So IF I can manage pull my sorry ass out of bed early enough in the morning then I’ll go for a run locally but I have to be back for 9AM as Joanne is out with Josh to Sunday Soccer and Oliver has to go to a birthday party at 12PM. If that fails then I’ll have to run Sunday night.

Next week has signs of too much running. Although Wednesday is Orienteering in Preston and on Thursday I’ll try to make Hill session on my way back from Bradford. However the Dave Staff race is on Sunday and assuming Joanne “gives me permission” then I’ll be heading for that one!

Friday, 20 November 2009

See through bags stop terrorists!!!

Readying myself for a flight to Ireland I needed to travel light so crammed what I could into my laptop bag for an over night stay. The only toiletry item I took with me was toothpaste. On arrival at security I took the laptop out of the may bag and put it in the tray, took off my coat off and placed that into a 2nd tray along with my belt (Not the shoes today for some reason) and then placed my bag in another tray. At the same time I opened my bag and took out the toothpaste to place in a tray also.

Now I know you have to place all toiletry items in a small see through bag but I thought this was just to keep the items together I had no idea these bags helped in the detection of strange substances that could be used to take over planes?? I presented the toothpaste to the man helping to feed the X-Ray machine and just said “I only have the one item!”, he replied “It needs to be in a clear bag”. “But it’s just one item!”, “Yes but it still needs to be in a bag!”. Now I was late for my flight and decided that now was not the time to argue and definitely not over a nearly empty tube of toothpaste so when I asked what he wanted me to do I was told “Just put it in your bag”. So I did!

Sure enough, as soon as my bag came out the other side of the X-ray it was pulled to one side for having toiletries in it! After what seemed like 10 mins waiting for a foreign family to empty out all manner of creams, drinks, jams from their bags my bag was brought to be looked at and I told the guy the toothpaste was in the front and that I had been TOLD to put it back in the bag. I may as well of said nothing! Having removed the toothpaste, the bag now needs to be scanned again because I’m guessing that the toothpaste plays havoc with the X-Rays and stops the operator from seeing anything, but this time I was allowed to go on my way.

Now am I being stupid here or does the mystical see through bag perform any other special function and WHY could I not just put the toothpaste in a tray of it’s own! I appreciate the need for security at airports but is there really any need to take away the toothpaste because it wasn’t in a see through plastic bag??????

Answers on a postcard to

Monday, 16 November 2009

I’m too old for this!

Well today saw a trip to Wigan Linacre centre for our first scan. Yep Joanne's pregnant again!! I’d always wanted three kids and Joanne only ever wanted two but she also wanted a girl, so after Oliver she changed her mind. Early last year I told here she had until the end of the year and if she wasn’t pregnant by 31st Dec then no more. I then went through a period were I decided I just didn’t want any more kids but I gave in earlier this year.

Scan 1Joanne had been worrying about today and she wouldn’t be happy until that first scan was out of the way. Anyway, meet the next little Sammon. Boy or Girl doesn’t matter although I would like a daughter now as I always wanted boys when Josh and Oli were born. Joanne wants to find out if possible at the next scan but I’m adamant I DON’T want to know until the day it’s born. I’ve no doubts we’ll have a few arguments about that before the next scan in January.

The dates (9th June) mean that Oliver might get a new brother/sister for his birthday. Am I bad for think that I could save money on Birthday parties!

After 3 events….

Street orienteering in Morecambe was a little tougher than the first two. The map was a little larger and the points were more spread out. I picked a rough route and headed out. You can use this link to see the route I took. With more running between points I felt that I was covering more ground but this made it harder to judge if I would make it back in time. I passed Albert over 1/2 way round my route and he was still heading away from the start, asking if he was ok he replied “No!” :-D

Having done a full loop back to the start and with no more points close enough to fit in, I finished with over two minutes to spare. On the run in Albert came flying past me only just making it back with 30 secs to spare. Neil was already back with under 4 mins to spare.

Counting the points in the pub after, Albert wasn’t too happy with his points and decided not to count them. I counted mine and had managed to get 710 which seems to be about the average mark for me. At least I’m consistent. That put me around the mid point in the results for the 75 min group with Albert and Neil propping up the foot of the group. Results here.

The overall results are here. Not sure how the age adjusted scores are adjusted but it puts me 11th out 77 for the gross scores and 18th out of 77 in the age adjusted scored which I think are the ones that count.GPS Route from Morecambe

Next event is Cottam (Preston) on the 25th Nov and I still have a good buzz for these events. Think I’ll try one of the non street type orienteering events in the future.

I used the GPS to plot me route too but I think I need to increased the plotting interval for the next one.




South Ribble Orienteering Club
British Orienteering

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Best Laid Plans.

This time of year is usually when I start getting ideas of what to do with myself next year. It must be the arrival of the last fellrunner magazine or maybe due to the evenings getting dark and me training on more tarmac that makes me look forward to getting out in the hills again.

Mark did really well in the Blackwater Marathon the other week, I didn't mention this before the race for obvious reasons but I was a little worried for him; having to cover 27 miles when he hadn't even run half as far before. I felt quite proud of him to be honest as he plodded up the lane towards the village hall around dusk and even slightly guilty for having talked him into doing the event in the first place. I really enjoyed that day, I didn't think an 'outdoors' event could get any more laid back than some of the fell races I have done but this one did, mainly due to it not being a race. It was the first ldwa event I have done and it got me thinking.

Some of the runners I spoke to were into ultras and use these events as training runs and I could see the appeal, for around 5 quid you get manned checkpoints with cakes, biscuits and juice then hot food and as much tea/coffee as you like at the finish. On the longer ones you can even get hot food at checkpoints. It wasn't a bad route either for the most part though there were a few bits that seemed to drag on such as the 4+ miles of grassy sea wall, ok you don't get the peaks and valleys of a fell race but it was still a good run through some nice countryside.

I almost got talked into doing another the week after, this one in Bedfordshire and I think if I hadn't already got an entry for a local 10 mile (road!) race that day I may have gone. Some of the events have shorter versions of the route which is probably what I would have done. The next one near me is a 50K in Surrey at the end of this month so I am considering going to that, then there is a 26.5 mile one near us just before Christmas. I am having a break from training at the moment though, my knees have been complaining a bit which always seems to happen this time of year with running more on tarmac but I want to keep up the long runs over winter ready for next year.

The past few years I have had the Lakeland Classics as my main priority. I did these this year, apart from Duddon and Langdale so I got some points but for next year I wouldn't mind trying an ultra. I still want to do Ennerdale and Wasdale since they are such epic races but the one event I currently have my eye on is The Highland Fling .

The West Highland Way race is one I would ultimately like to have a go at but it would need plenty preparation so before thinking about that I am considering doing either (or both) of the races that cover half of the route. The Highland Fling covers the southern half with The Devil of the Highlands covering the other. I was surprised to see that the Devil was already full even though it is on the first weekend in August 2010! This is the half I would prefer to try first but we will see, lots to think about. Plus I would need some support (... Mark :).

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

18th Blackwater Marathon

A few months ago we planned to head south for Halloween and spend time with Chris, Lisa, Sam, Ben, Jo-vis (Oliver's current pronunciation of Joseph) and Emma (The Waltons). I had decided to take the week off and Lisa asked us if we fancied heading down their on the Thursday instead of Friday so we accepted. We had looked for a race to do that weekend and of the 3 we found only one was off-road, the ‘18th BlackWater Marathon’ run by the Essex and Herts LDWA. I had been a little apprehensive about entering and had the option of just doing a 15 mile route instead of the 27 mile route most runners would be following. On the day we sent in the entry forms though I decided that I would try the full 27 miles. I’d put it into my head that it not a normal marathon, so because it’s being run by walkers then it’s a walkers marathon that you can run in, so walking is ok when I get tired. Plus Essex is pretty flat so surely I should be able to mange a little more distance than the 13/14 miles max I have done on the hills before??

Chris at the startMark at the startSo Saturday morning arrived and Chris and I headed out for Purleigh Village Hall. On arrival we parked and registered in the hall. Having never done an LDWA event I had assumed I would be given a map of the route (I had asked if I’d needed to bring my own and was told I shouldn’t need one if I didn’t have one) but no, I was give a set of instructions. These were step by step instructions of the whole route “….cross the field to the field corner and take a 1/2 right over the field to the stile…..”. We got a brew and a biscuit and they started to ready ourselves. The weather now decided that it was time to open the heavens and I wondered if I should change into my leggings but there wasn’t a cold wind with the rain so I stuck with the shorts and pulled out the waterproof top.

10AM quickly arrived and everybody moved outside to head off. There was no line up and go or race start type procedure, somebody just said “you can go now” and people just headed off. Chris had left something in the car so went to get that and then we both headed off across the road with our instructions in hand. As we entered the second field I reminded Chris that he needn’t stay with me and to run off as he really wanted to do, which he did. However as we entered the third field and we had already entered auto-follow mode, we nearly ended up following the 15 mile walkers instead of going left over the stile to the 27 mile route. That was a quick reminder to CHECK THE INSTRUCTIONS.

Now on the right path we crossed the first farmers field and I realised I had the wrong footwear on. I only have Fell shoes or Road shoes and I had assumed the route would have been mostly tracks and trail and opted for my road shoes. Crossing this first field, the wet mud was sticking to my shoes and making them heavier with each step along with the lack of traction, this was proving a difficult run. If anything it forced me to take my time which is what I needed to do anyway. Onward over fields, crossing roads following the detailed instructions happily trotted away at a comfortable pace to reach the seawall leading to Checkpoint 1 and by this point the rain had passed and the temperature was quite comfortable. I was hoping for a nice cup of tea at this point but only juice and biscuits were on offer. After a few biscuits and a photo I headed off.

The Seawall to CP1                                The start was 5.5 miles that way!                                At CP1

Now the instructions said I needed to continue on the sea wall for about 3.5 miles. The track I nearly missedSo I decided there was no need to read them for another 20-30 mins and just followed the path.Reading a little further on in the chapter it said I should reach Harlow Sailing Club so I just trotted on. Eventually I reached a group of 3 runners who seemed a little unsure where to go. I was convinced I needed to pass another sailing club so following the seawall path seemed like the sensible choice. I rounded the next corner and stopped to read the instructions again just in case, I’d also noticed that there was no sign of passing any sailing club soon. This is when I realised that the next three instructions I hadn’t read were describing the route I had already followed and the sailing club had already been passed soon after leaving checkpoint 1. When I read these I also realised that I should have noted down three letters at some point a bit back, but there was no way I was running back to get them. Next I realised that I should have turned down the path were the other runners were stood looking bemused. As I joined this path the runners had only just started to head off and as they looked back and saw me, it seemed to give them more confidence that they had made the right decision.

One person mentioned that the letters were ‘BWM’ (BlackWater Marathon) and they were good enough for me and I had noticed a couple of those signs as I ran along the sea wall. Soon there was a group of about 10 running together and we reached a point were nobody seemed to understand the instructions. Checkpoint 2Everyone just looking at the paper and wandering back and forth. As I made my decision another guy took the same path as me and everyone followed. I had so far managed to keep a good steady pace and was feeling quite pleased with myself but soon after this just as we approached Waiting at the Level Crossingcheckpoint 2 I could feel myself starting to fade a little and the pace dropping ever so slightly.

After a few drinks and more biscuits at checkpoint 2 (Still no Tea!) I headed off keeping to a gentle trot. Because I had stayed a little longer at the checkpoint the rest of the runners had now gone ahead of me and I only had myself for company. Across a few fields, a stint along a road, across the level crossing and it was back out onto another sea wall, at the end of which was checkpoint 3. The instructions said “…approx 4 miles…”. When I arrived at the sea wall (about 14 miles in) I was still running, but getting tired quickly. I managed to jog on for about 1 mile but it just proved to be too much. My Ham-strings and glute had started to ache and walk breaks became more and more frequent. The view along the seawall was also really boring and made it drag on. All in all the “…approx 4 miles…” took me the best part of about 1hr 10mins and at last a rest at checkpoint 3.


the start of the LONG seawall run. And the last photo!

I’m not sure what I looked like as I entered the village hall as I was asked by a couple of people if I was ok? Was I going to carry on? I have to say that by that point I had considered throwing in the towel a few times. My feet had started to ache a little too and I was convinced I had a blister forming right in the middle of the sole of my foot. Finally though, a cup of Tea and a plate of sandwiches. “Sandwich spread & Salad”, “Cheese and pickle” the signs read so as I don’t like pickle, I opted for the sandwich spread. Urgh!! It wasn’t sandwich spread, it was Coleslaw! I hate coleslaw more than pickles! I gave up on the butties and headed for the cakes. MMMmm nice chocolate cake :-)

Heading off for Checkpoint 4, the running was hard. Muscles still aching and my foot getting sorer I must have looked funny running at such a slow pace (when I could run). The route now was back over farmers fields and through woods so the scenery changed regularly. After this the running spells were less frequent, the uneven made the ache in my foot worse and I swore I could feel the blister getting bigger. My other foot started to ache a little now but it didn’t feel like a blister. I think my left shoe was a better fit than my right! At the top of the only “incline” of the route it tells you to look back at the view of the river. I did but it wasn’t that impressive after views in the lakes. In fact the view from Winter Hill far far surpasses it. Finally though I approached checkpoint 4 and more juice and biscuits.

With only just over 4-5 miles left from here I had no more thoughts of retiring, but I had started to get over emotional. Only twice have I been emotional like that. Once after Kentmere and once after Wherenside where I didn’t have the best of runs, really struggling towards the end and feeling myself start to well up after crossing the finishing line, however I managed to hold it back whilst shovelling more biscuits and juice down me.

The final leg now and off i ran/walked/hobbled (delete as appropriate). The route was getting a little busier now as I caught up to walkers (albeit very slowly caught them up). It wasn’t getting more difficult as I went, the discomfort was pretty much the same for the rest of the route now., although climbing over the stiles was getting harder on my feet which by now was murdering me. I’d started to have visions of me peeling skin off with my socks at the end. Finally though the finishing was in sight as I joined the road leading to the Purleigh Village Hall. Chris's at Halloween!As I rounded the last corner I could see Chris stood at the gat waiting for me. I’d been running/hobbling for the last 10 mins to just get it over with and as I passed Chris he said “You can stop running now!” but I just wanted it over so carried on running until I passed the doors of the village hall. I handed my card in to the desk and headed out to the car. Chris asked if I wanted a brew as I passed him, which I did and I headed straight out of the hall to the car.

That was it, I’d finished the 27 miles in 6hrs 39mins. I stood at the back of the car and burst into tears, I could stop myself. Even when Chris came out with the cup of tea I was still going. All he could do was laugh at me but ne says it was because he knew exactly what I was going through. Once I calmed down I needed to get he shoes off and see what state they were in. I gently took my left soft off as that wasn’t hurting as much and search for a blister to find I had got away without one. Now the right foot. again slowly i rolled the sock over my foot and was shocked to to see ..nothing! No lumps or loose skin. It looked like there was a groove in my foot but no tear or anything. Not really sure what it was but it was painful and I’m thankfully I got away without the blister.

After a few brews and some cheese butties (I decided against the Jacket potato) I collected my certificate and we headed back to Chris’s for Halloween and an Indian. The Indian went down really well and really quick. Later, as we sat relaxing, Oliver woke up crying so I lay down in the bed next to him. Not quite sure which one of use fell asleep first.

Sunday Morning came and the problems started. I couldn’t stand up straight, I couldn’t walk properly. I was generally in agony, as long as I didn’t move I was fine. If a doctor had seen me I swear they’d have given me a mobility scooter!

Could I get any sympathy? Could I hell!!


GPS Tracking GPS Tracking before battery died!

Monday, 2 November 2009

My version of the Screes Race!

Wasdale Head Farm Can I just clarify that when I woke up on the Saturday morning and looked out the window, the view up Lingmell nose, despite its head in the clouds, was something I hadn’t thought about and really made me smile when I saw it. Mark and Karen are really lucky to be able to live in such a place. Then I remembered that I was up here to do a race and I don’t like running in the mist. I found myself constantly watching the clouds the look for signs of blue sky or the clouds lifting and as Chris and I sat on the car park, warming up, I was happy when the blue sky started to appear over Whin Rigg and I could see the top. I also started to worry a little about being too warm as I had leggings on.

As soon as we headed off down the road, frustratingly, my lace came undone so I ended up stopping on the track to the farm to redo that which dropped me from 3rd place to about 39th (you can call me Pinocchio!). After we ran through the farm I realised others were now on a different track to me and the group I had followed and but on emerging out the other side of the farm were signs directing us down a track to where a marshal was stood waiting for us.

This is where I started to struggle, for some reason as soon as the climb started, my calves just didn’t want to work and I had a really slow ascent. As I got about 1/2 I also noticed that the clag had re-appeared over the top and a little further up the wind started to pick up too. I reached the path to the marshals and passed Barbara coming back from the peak. She tried to spur me on but by this point the climb had taken it out of me. The sight of the marshals on the summit said it all really, as they were huddled together with their backs to the wind, hoods up. They really deserve a prize for staying there in such weather.

Now when I turned into the wind, just like Chris said, the wind hits you and it was hard work running into the wind but it was at this point I was glad to be wearing my leggings. I knew there was one other runner behind me but I still couldn’t see her as she had started to drop further and further back as we climbed. I managed to make some good running for a while as you quickly come out of the clag and I passed the runner in front of me who seemed to be struggling a little on the shallow descent. I started to lose confidence though as the ground got steeper as the Mudrocks I have just didn’t seem to grip. Not sure if I am tackling harder terrain this year but the Mudrocks just haven’t been as good as the pair I had last year.

I’ll not go on now as Chris has already described the rest of the run down and run in although when I did get back onto the last road, I realised just how slow I am when I saw one of the front runners trotting down the road after just coming back from taking his dog for walk.

I’m hoping to attempt this next year and be a little more competitive, although if they are handing out prizes for last senior again, I might just take my time.


Sunday, 1 November 2009

Night Street Orienteering

During my first night-time head torch run up on Winter Hill, Albert had mentioned a night orienteering event held by SROC (South Ribble Orienteering Club). The event basically involves running around the streets looking for various items of street furniture, be it Lamppost numbers, telegraph pole numbers etc…

I was a little unsure what to expect from this type of event but I’d always enjoyed orienteering type things I done as a kid. The first event was held in Warton near Preston. Once registered you are given a sheet with a list of the street furniture you need to make note of but as yet you don’t know where these items are, the map is only given to you as you start the event.

With headtorches at the ready,everybody is set off individually. You have to choose to do a 40, 60 or 75 min trek but whichever you do you must ensure you’re back within your selected time allowance otherwise you are penalised 10 points for each 10 second interval you are late.

I really enjoyed this first event in Warton and managed to find a good line that got me back to the finish with just 2 mins to spare. When the points were totalled up I was shocked to see that I had beaten Albert and Neil from Lostock. I was sure this was more down to luck than anything else.

The 2nd event was held 1 week later in Whalley, this time I caught a lift up with Albert and Neil. The Start/Finish for this event was located in the centre of the map unlike the first which was located out in one corner of the map. On setting off i had a choice of 3 corners of the map to head towards, I picked one and off I headed. I made a couple of little route errors on this one where I could have collected an extra 50-80 points. this night though I managed to make it back to the finish with only 40 seconds to spare.

Again I somehow managed to beat Albert and Neil. Not sure if again this is luck although Albert did confess to following a road on the map that turned out to be a train line.

The next event is to be held in Morecambe on the 11th November and I am really looking forward to this next one.


Friday, 30 October 2009

Pies, pints, mud, wind, rain and tatie pot!

I am always up for a flimsy excuse for a trip to the Lakes, so when my Mum suggested coming down with her fella to stay with us for half term I suggested I drive up there to pick them up and perhaps fit a run/race in the hills while I am there. The Screes looked as good as any, being in Wasdale and one I hadn't tried yet. Mark was up for it too so the plan was hatched plus since I would be in Wasdale I arranged to go and visit the farm. While this was being arranged I was offered the chance to stay at the farm for the weekend so after a few last minute (well, Friday lunchtime) e-mails between us we agreed that I would leave work early enough to pick Mark up in the evening then head straight up to Wasdale arriving last thing Friday.

The traffic wasn't too bad but we still only got there just after midnight and Wasdale was looking quite wet and windy. Mark seemed to be getting carsick plus my fuel light came on as we went over Birker Fell which worried me a little with no fuel stations open for miles so it was nice to finally arrive at the farm to the warm welcome of their Staffordshire Terrier who always manages to rip holes in my clothes in his excitement. Woke up early Saturday to the sound of calves mooing in the barn at the back who are being weaned, the cows are being brought in off the fells now for winter.

The farmer jumped a mile when I got up and surprised him in the kitchen, he hadn't heard me come down. Mark got up soon after when he heard our voices, he had apparently woken up to the lovely sight of Lingmell nose in some moody weather. We hung around the farm for a while catching up on the gossip and had a look round the livestock to see what was new then I thought it would be best if we went to try and get some fuel for the car along with food for us and head straight to the race.

It was really wet and I think Mark was getting a bit apprehensive about the route, I tried to reassure him that there really isn't much to worry about, the race being pretty much all on paths visiting the top of Whin Rigg. Nether Wasdale was looking really quiet when we arrived but we were about 2 hours early! We even found ourselves wondering whether the race was actually still on until we remembered the 'Caution Runners' signs we had seen on the road. I toyed with the idea of a pint before the race but thought better of it and got a coke instead. We faffed around for a while getting ready and the sun even came out briefly, Mark stayed sat in the car keeping warm while I thought about doing some warm ups.

We were warned at the start about not heading of up the fell before we had run through a farm and reached a large sign pointing up the fell, something I didn't really take in until later on since most races on the run out to the fell I am usually following everyone else. Jos Naylor set us off and I settled in to about 15th place on the way out. You run down the road to the junction then the track towards the farm near the bottom of the Screes, as we got to the farm there was a guy standing by the gate to the farm and the runners in front were turning right off the track and heading up overa stile. I found this a little confusing after being told at the start about heading through the farm but near the stile was a luminous arrow marked 'Gosforth 10' pointing the way we were now heading so I carried on along with everyone else and assumed I must have heard wrong earlier.

We began a gradual climb now through dying bracken on a good path and I was getting nicely warmed up thinking to myself that it seems a while since I was last running on this sort of terrain - Scafell Pike being the last race about 4 weeks ago. It's usually around this time of year where my trips up north get less frequent and I start to up my mileage and do a few races in Herts/Essex where I live and this has the effect of speeding up my flat running but slowing me down on the steep stuff, so it wasn't long before I started getting passed as we began the steep climb on the path up the fell. Looking back into the village we were due for another downpour it was getting dull again but at least the strong wind seemed to be helping a bit being behind us, then sure enough once we had got past the steepest section on the path and started climbing the trod you come down on the Wasdale race it started raining so I got my cap out of my bumbag to stop my glasses from getting too wet.

It was misty too but just before the summit you could see the runners ahead coming back down the path and heading for the junction with the other path through the woods back to the pub. My back was sodden now with the wind blowing the rain into me giving me the odd sensation of a very cold back against a warm front!

It was quite grim at the summit but the marshalls who we had seen in the pub earlier before they set out were very encouraging, just what I needed since this is the point where we had to turn and head into the strong wind which seemed to be blowing the rain UP the hill. I had to be careful here not to stumble since my visibility was suffering a bit so I couldn't run as fast as I felt I should have but it was still good to be descending. I kept my eye out for Mark on his way up but didn't see him so then got my head down and followed the path down to where there should be a couple more marshalls at the next checkpoint. This was further than I thought it would be, I was running for quite a while without seeing anyone else but there was the odd fell shoe print in the mud for reassurance, though fewer than I though there should be with the number of runners that were in front of me; maybe they knew a less muddy route?

Just before I reached the second checkpoint the guy behind caught me up, the path here was a choice of either knee deep bog or really broken, stony ground so it was hard to keep the pace up. We both caught the bloke in front as we passed the checkpoint and headed down towards the woods. This was a good descent, or at least it would have been if it wasn't so wet and muddy we were slipping all over the place but at least I managed to stay upright. The ground began to level out as we entered some woods and I caught up to the two I was running with on a nice downhill stretch through the trees then it was mainly across some fields back to the road. There was a bloke holding the gate open back onto the road and it was only as I passed him and he said something like 'You're doing well lad' that I realised it was Jos.

Back on the road I managed to pass the guy who had passed me coming down off the summit but I couldn't catch the other runner we were with before the finish. I was absolutely drenched so I thought I would go and get some dry clothes on hopefully before Mark finishes so I can take a couple of pictures of him. Walking down the road the rain was still on and off and I was getting a bit concerned since there was still no sign of Mark when Jos walked past carrying the signs from the roadside. Then I saw Barbara who Mark spent most of the 3 Shires Race with finish and began to wonder whether I had missed him finish and he was sat somewhere in the warm pub. Barbara came jogging back up the road and disappeared off back round the route so I assumed she was heading back to find him. Sure enough it wasn't long before they both came running down the road into the finish.

He was looking a bit worse for wear but he swore he came fourth, apparently we all went wrong going through the farm and him and a couple of others went the right way to the marshall who was after the farm, so I didn't hear wrong at the start! Once he had got changed we parked ourselves in the pub and I had a nice pint of Dizzy Blonde thanks to Barbara to go with my free tatie pot, which was delicious. We ended up staying in the pub until about 6:30pm when most of the other runners had gone home, Jos presented Mark with a prize of a bottle of Yewbarrow for being the last senior runner, he doesn't drink bitter so kindly gave it to me. We chatted to Barbara for a while then when she left we got talking to Gary who runs for Ambleside about various races, he was recommending Jura highly which is one I haven't tried yet. He was also telling us the tale of the route shenanigans at the start; it seemed to be the farmer who had moved the arrow and sent most of the field up the fell, maybe he didn't want us all running through his farm?

We noticed that a lot of 'Reserved' signs were going up on the tables so since we were planning on coming back later for some food I booked us a table before we left. It was very cosy in the pub we should have arranged to meet Mark and Karen there for food but then again one of us would have had to drive then. Quick shower and change back at the farm then I discovered that Karen had booked us into Low Wood Hall instead - she had already rang the Screes and was told that they were booked up and she had insisted that since I was a man I wouldn't have thought to book us all a table. I made her eat humble pie while I ate some of the cakes they had baked that afternoon. We plumped for Low Wood Hall where we had a tasty meal and a few drinks. I was stuffed by the time we got back and Mark was already making up excuses not to go out in the morning.
The cows woke me up again Sunday, I was last up too. Mark was still lacking any enthusiasm to go out though the weather didn't look too bad, the clouds were quite low and it was very windy but with the promise of not going too far and a fry-up when we got back he managed to get into his still wet kit and we headed up towards Burnmoor tarn. Planning on taking it very easy with being entered into an LDWA event next weekend in Essex we just jogged up through thebracken and crossed numerous gills heading for Oliver Gill, my aim was just to climb onto Great How then head back. I felt guilty at one point for getting my camera out ready for Mark falling in since he looked a little unsure about crossing one or two of the streams.
Crossing Oliver Gill was a bit tricky and as we climbed up past the stream there was a waterfall apparently being blown back up the hill the wind was that strong. The clouds kept blowing in so not far from the summit I sat down for a quick look at the map and decided to just head back the way we came but stay a little higher until we got close to the path coming down off Scafell. It got really windy here and I noticed Mark was staying a little close behind me, I can't be much of a windbreak though; he looked really funny due to his windproof top getting all puffed up.

We stopped for a break overlooking the tarn and took a few pics, I love it round there, my stomach was rumbling though and the fry-up was calling so it was time to get back. We ran through the bracken for a bit then over the tussocks heading for the path down from Scafell and then we saw another human, in the distance heading for the screes. I had some fun following a stream back down to the woods, I don't think Mark enjoyed running down that bit and before long we were heading down through the farmer's fields to the farmhouse and food!

Weekends never seem long enough especially the ones I spend in the lakes, but I had a long drive ahead so after the food it was time to express our gratitude and say goodbye again! You would struggle to find kinder people than Mark and Karen, they are always more than happy to welcome me and my family/friends (and my wet, muddy gear!) into their home and never expect anything in return. I always offer to return the favour which brings a laugh from Karen since she cannot imagine Mark spending any amount of time away from their farm in Wasdale.

Next week me and Mark are entered into an event in Essex - 27 miles around the fields and estuaries in the 18th Blackwater Marathon!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Forgive me readers for I have sinned!

It's been 3 weeks since my last blog. I've had a few things to report on since then and will try and catch up soon but for now I'm trying to make the most of my week off.

I'm off to try and replace some taps, my history with water in the house is not a good one so I'm crossing my fingers!


Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Shop around when your renewal arrives!

Last week my home insurance renewal quote from Sheilas Wheels popped through my letterbox for £187 for the year!

Not being happy with what some of you would consider to be a decent price I decided to do a quick search. After clicking on a few links at I found Sheilas Wheels (yes the same company I was with) were offering the cheapest quote, some £30 cheaper than my renewal. I have heard the stories before that if you ring up to try and get the price matched on your renewal they always say they can't match the Internet price so you have to cancel the policy and buy online. So I just went right ahead and did that to save time.
  • I rang up and cancelled the renewal.
  • Then logged into Quidco to see if there was a cashback link (I don't have one on compare the compare sites), which there was.
  • Clicked on the link and went to the Sheilas Wheels Sites and completed the Quote.
  • I took out a policy for £117 and saved myself £70
But by logging in via Quidco I 'should' also qualify for £45 cashback at some point over the next 4 months which means all in all my home insurance renewal was £115 cheaper for the year by spending 20 minutes doing a quick search rather than accepting the renewal price.

Bare this in mind when your insurances come up for renewal and put the money in your own pocket rather than theirs!!


There are plenty of people in IT that seem to make a living without lots of knowledge and don't have a guilty conscience. Whenever I get asked to help, I always seem to do just that, Help! Then when asked 'How much will that be?' my normal response has always been 'Ah don't worry about it!'. BUT NO MORE!!

For years no I have run my own server at home to host e-mail and websites for friends and family with the thought that it was no hassle if I already had the Internet connection and there was no major load going through it. I have built websites and never charged people because it 'helped me to learn new things' as I like to know how stuff is done on the web.

Well, this week I have been trying to cut costs and one of those was with my Gas and Electricity. Southern Electric had decided that £52 per month for electricity wasn't going to be enough and doubled my monthly payment based on estimated usage. (They also decided not to reduce my Gas from £71 month after 4 months of not using over summer!). Anyway so I started to look at switching supplier and then slowly drifted to wondering how much electricity the PC's were using.

If you don't know. electricity is charged by the kWh (Kilo Watt hour). After some searching it looked like the average price of electricity is about 9p-10p per kWh. So a 100W LCD screen would have to be used for 10 hours to use 1kWh of electricity and therefore cost me 10p. Most computers come with at least a 300W-400W power supply and servers are normally larger. I currently have 4 PC's running in my office. One acts as a firewall so stays on all the time, another is my Web/mail server so stays on all the time. The third is a NAS box (For file storage) and has been on all the time and the last is my desktop which can sometimes be left on all the time (Only recently being turned off at night). But lets look at the power consumption here....
Let's just average it out and assume 3 of the machines (not the desktop) use about 200W on average each.

3 x 200w = 600w = 0.6 kWh

0.6 x 24hrs = 14.4kWh per day

14.4 x 365 = 5256kWh per year

5256 x £0.095 = £499.32 per year in electricity.

Now you'll note that I excluded my Desktop PC. When I built my nice QUAD CORE desktop PC, I used the standard 400W power supply that was in my old PC. This power supply lasted a whole 2.5hrs before dying a sudden death. so I think it would be safe to assume that the desktop could be running at an average of about 400W-500W (maybe more) which means it would cost me £416 per year alone.

So the result of all that maths means that I need to reduce the number of PC's I use from 4 to at least 2 (Desktop and NAS) and also I need to turn off machines at night time which means no more web/mail hosting for free at home.

I have now taken a web hosting package online and am going to charge people for the domains/websites and e-mail boxes I move to it. I reckon that the hosting package will cost me about £150 year and I'll save more than that by turning off two computers. Additionally I'm going to charge for the use of the hosting and mailboxes like every other like minded IT person is already doing and stop being a sucker!!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Swine Flu or Man Flu??

Well the day after the Horwich downhill, Josh woke up with a headache so we dosed him up with Calpol and shipped him off to school. With no calls from the school all day I assumed he'd been fine but when he came home he said he hadn't been well all day and his head was still hurting. Joanne left Josh at home with me and went swimming with Oliver but came home from the baths complaining that she wasn't feeling well. Me having all the sympathy in the world just told her to go to bed! Anyway by the time I came to bed I think I had started to come down with what she and Josh had.

Over this last week I have had hot and cold sweats, headaches and a chesty cough I just can't seem to shake. By Sunday though most of the aches and pains had gone but I still had the chesty cough. With Sunday mornings now taken up with Sunday football illness would have to wait until after the game. Just as the kids were about to kick off the heavens opened so I ran for the car to get the umbrella. The first 100m were fine and I remember thinking to myself how the rest must be doing me good, I wasn't aching in my legs. Then another 50m or so later I started to feel a little short of breath and started to cough. Cough? I have never coughed as much in my life. I was coughing uncontrollably until I reached the car and had to sit in the car for about 2 mins before I stopped.

It hit me quite hard and you realise how illness can take you and even when you think you are feeling a little better it can re-confirm that you are wrong! The previous weekend I had run the 12 miles of the Whernside race and now this week I was unable to run 150m to the car. Chris always says that when he starts to feel ill he now just rests until he is 'completely' clear before running again and I'll be doing just that, plus the rest will do me good.

I do though want to get out with the headtorch and sprain my ankle!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Another weekend in Wasdale.

(Bit late posting this!) After having a great time at Three Shires last week where the only real drama was almost straying too high coming down off Swirl Howe I was in two minds whether to drive back up North to do the Scafell Pike Race the week after. (By the way Al, I was feeling a bit carsick too by the time we got to Langdale - must be Mark's driving).

It's a long way to travel for such a short race but we hadn't been to visit some friends of ours who farm the fells in Wasdale for a while either so that provided enough justification to head into the hills for the weekend.

The usual Friday M6 issues meant we only arrived late Friday night just after 11 to a very quiet farmhouse, the farmer and his missus having already gone to bed - they had been gathering sheep all week in the fells so were catching up on some rest.

Up early Saturday and straight out after breakfast. The kids, well my two boys anyway, always pester the farmer for rides on his quad bike so four of us jumped on it and rode to the fields near the campsite to move the cattle out of the ones that the race was to go through. Mark wasn't sure which route the race was taking this year but thankfully one of Richard's (the organiser) friends came to meet us as we started shifting the cows to ask whether it was ok to leave all the gates open, he was about to start flagging the route. My plan to keep at least a pair of shoes and my jeans clean fell apart straight away as I got covered in mud and cow shit, serves me right for not putting a pair of wellies on! We got the cows moved into the next field, Mark taking the piss since I almost missed two that were down near the first field from the campsite, Galloways are BIG and not hard to spot!

Once we got the gate shut he showed me the ones which were ready for calving then we rode back to the farm.

It wasn't long before it was time to get my number so the kids saw that as another excuse to go for a ride on the quad bike.

The bloke in front of me at registration didn't seem to speak much English and failed to understand what the purpose of the two tags we were given was. Back to the farm, again, to drop the bike and kids off where the farmer's missus offered me a lift back to the race. On the quad bike. This was getting a bit silly.

The sun was trying to come out though the Scafells were still in cloud, we gathered at the start where Richard gave the usual warnings and then we were off. It made a change running through fields where I have spent days chasing sheep and it was also
good to be able to watch the quick lads at the front for so long since you climb all the way up Lingmell nose similar to Lingmell Dash. As usual I was passed by a third of the field on this bit before I got settled into my position. It wasn't long before we reached the top of the nose where we could start running again and head off towards the pike, as you reach the tourist path there is a route almost straight up the manages to stay on the grass for quite a while so I tried to stick to that and memorise bits for the descent. The leaders come past on their way back down further to my left then Simon Booth came past who obviously knew about this grassy route.

The mist wasn't too thick up here and as we got higher things got brighter again until the sun came out! We had climbed above the clouds just before reaching the summit which was bathed in sunshine. It was a wonderful sight turning round at the top as I handed my tag in and saw above the clouds. Back into the mist on the way down, as usual the top was busy and progress down the path was quite slow at times what with the runners still climbing and groups of walkers everywhere. I caught up to a group then chose the grassy route, feeling a little surprised that none of those in front I could see strayed from the path and it wasn't long before we came out of the mist and I crossed the path to head back down towards Lingmell nose.

I fell here last year and was lucky not to break something the speed I hit the floor but not this year, I love this descent it's just a shame you have to keep your eyes on the ground and not the view. I caught a guy from Wharfedale near the bottom and he said he was saving his legs for the 3 Peaks CX race tomorrow!

Back through the fields is always a struggle with the jelly legs but there were a few spectators here which helped brighten the mood then onto the path and the missus took a picture with my youngest lad chasing me to the finish. I beat last year's time but the route was different so that doesn't mean much. Just like last year there was a large bucket full of flapjack at the finish which was lovely. We had to wait around for ages for the presentation for the last 3 runners from Stroud, I think they got lost at the top. They won the women's team prize nonetheless which just proves you need to be in it to win it!

My little toe on my left foot was really sore, it felt like I had got a blister. I don't get many these days but I have been running slightly differently on that side since I developed an ache on the ball of my foot. I thanked Richard for putting the race on then we cleared off to Egremont to Mark's other farm. He has a new shepherd starting soon so we said we would help clear up the farmhouse there ready for him and his partner to move in.

Later on we all went for a lovely meal at Low Wood Hall in Nether Wasdale. Mark supplies the restaurant there with lamb but I plumped for the fish and chips. I was starving, it's funny going out for a meal after a couple of hours running in the hills people are shocked by how greedy I can be. I was a bit tipsy heading back to the farm (Lisa drove!) and I gave up on plans for an early morning jaunt. Instead I went for a jog up onto the screes while Lisa cooked us all a Sunday roast in the morning.

Mark & Karen went to help the shepherd move into the farmhouse at Egremont, he had driven up the day before from Somerset but had trouble with getting a van so only turned up at 4am that morning! He then had to move in, get the van back down to Somerset and drive back up Tuesday. Mark said one of the cows we had moved yesterday calved overnight and was doing ok.

My legs were a bit tender from the race so I took my time jogging up through the fields to join the path behind the woods, the weather wasn't too great today the clouds were really low and it was threatening rain but it was still lovely to be out there again; I couldn't waste a day at the farm without going for a run. I prefer this side of Wasdale since it's always quieter, most people making the trek out here do it to go up the big hills or just to go up the Pike so whenever we visit Mark & Karen I try and make my way to the less busy parts. The amount of times I have been for a jog up Scafell (not the pike!) and back without seeing another soul is surprising considering how close it is to the highest hill in England. I love sitting on the summit looking west over the Wasdale hills as the sun sets it is so peaceful.

Not today though, I had a quick stop near Illgill Head in the rain and mist before heading back down for lunch. This hurt a bit with the sore thighs but the view was lovely. I took a couple of pics but you can never quite capture the atmosphere of being there.

After lunch it was time to say our goodbyes and make the long drive home. Shame really to be leaving so quick it didn't seem two minutes since we arrived. I loaded up the car with meat before we left and arranged to go up there again towards the end of November.

As usual the M6 was snarled up, this time near J35 so for a change I drove over the Dales and came home that way instead. Took us ages but it made a change, the trip was well worth it but I need a rest now from all this driving. Shame Mark and his clan couldn't make it up to see us but I'll be up to see him in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Horwich Downhill Race 2009

This is a FAB! race that runs from the Scotsmans stump on top of Winter Hill to the Horwich RMI club via Rivington Pike. Which route you take is your own choice. Also, this race sets runners off at 30 sec intervals so it isn't guaranteed you will have somebody to follow if you don't know the optimum route through the woods and estates of Horwich.

The conditions this year were similar to last year with the cloud just covering the top and nearly ensuring that runners just start to lose sight of each other in the 30 sec between starts. 12 people turned up this year, doubling last years turn out and as the gates were open on the mast road it meant we didn't have to detour round the back of the transmitter station (where I got lost last year less than 100m from the start).

Last year I finished in 3rd place but, due to the unfortunate illness of Steve Barlow, their were no prizes but this year there were prizes for everyone, which considering the race is FREE entry, is brilliant. Finishing in 10th place, some 3 1/4 mins quicker than last year, got me Walshes shoes voucher and 2 bottles of wine!

Whernside or Scafell? Whernside won!

To be honest I wasn't sure which race I was going to do. Whernside for the distance (12 miles) or Scafell because I missed out on Lingmell and because I still haven't been up there yet. Scafell was my preferred race and Emma had suggested she fancied going up for it. It's a long journey and I'm trying to watch the pounds at the minute so if there was a chance of sharing the fuel then I would be up for Scafell. At Wednesdays head torch run Emma had decided she was going to do Whernside and Albert had already told me that he wasn't racing at the weekend because of work commitments.

I have only ever been up Pen-y-gent and that was in the rain and mist (cheers Chris!) so have never run around that area before. So yet again I watched the weather forecast as the week went by and on Friday evening decided that The day shouldn't be howling with wind and rain and it was worth a punt.

I'm always late leaving the house so decided an early start was in order to allow me to get up and ready with plenty of time to spare. Rucksack packed, clothes ready, shoes outside, a couple of gels, a cereal bar, Nuun tablets (missing, still not found them), GPS charged (to track me with), camera packed, wallet. Time for a cup of tea and some toast and out the door! The Sat-Nav said it was 1hr 30 mins so I took it easy until, just as I passed M6 J27 when I realised "SHOES!!!". I'd left them outside. So it now became a mad dash, I had to get home, collect my shoes and make it back to the race, in Dent before the start. Despite the Sat Nav saying my eta was originally 10:49 I actually made it by 10:30.

The weather was lovely and not even Albert could have called me for the number of layers I wore as I ran with just the vest on (and shorts of course). On the run up to Whernside I also passed the Abbey Lady and had a brief chat with her before pulling away. The path up wasn't too bad and I particularly enjoyed the final run to the summit of Whernside. This joy was only brief though as once I started the downhill my left knee started to ache. Knowing I still had a good way to go I decided that the best course of action was to use greater caution on the descent and finish the race. I didn't want to have to limp back to the finish.

The rest of the route had quite a lot of track running but the best part of the whole route would be the final descent from the last Marshall to the finishing field. It's a good long run downhill on grassy slopes right to the finish. By this point the heat of the day had stated to get me (and my water had run dry AGAIN!) and I had even taken to running without the vest on, I know it's not a pretty sight but needs must!!

Finishing in 2hr 33min this is definitely a race I will do again. I am still a little disappointed that I didn't make Scafell but part of me is a little glad as I think the run down from Scafell would have been harder on my knee than Whernside was so maybe next year!

I still need a decent headtorch

As another Wednesday night on the fells approached I decided to buy a new head torch as the only ones we had in the house were the cheap and nasty £2.99 Home Bargain specials! Adrian had recommended one from Alpkit for £15 which apparently was comparable to the Petzel torches that cost about £60.

Wednesday arrived and the head torch didn't so tonight I had to use one of the £2.99 specials. To be fair it didn't do too bad a job but was quite dull in comparison to Adrian and Albert's all singing torches.

The new torch arrived on Thursday and is a nice little unit, although I have not yet tested it on the Fells (That's tomorrow) I know it's going to fit and work much better.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Three Shires - The race!

Well, I must have spent the week watching the weather forecasts. Rain, cloud, clear, blistering Sunshine, cloud, clear, chance of shower. Bloody weather forecasters should make there mind up. Chance of Showers it was to be.

With an early start to pickup Chris and Al Fowler the sky had a mist in it that looked like it would clear. Chris had drove up from London just for the race and was planning to go back down just after the race, he's a bit mad really but dedicated all the same, particularly after flying up to Fort William just to do the Ben race and then fly back down, spending only 5 hours in Fort William.

During this week I had convinced myself I was ready for this race even if it was cloudy and he sort of memorised the routes I had done on previous recce's. The only chance I wasn't going to run was if the wind and rain were battering down. If that happened then I wouldn't have enjoyed the race so would have opted out. But thankfully the forecasters had not ordered the wind and only a little rain.

When we collected Al Fowler, the first thing he did was pay me for the journey. On previous outings I hadn't taken any money from him for the journey so this time he'd decided to pay me in M&M's. I loved peanut M&M's but they don't do my athletic figure any good. I think he was threatened by me and needed me at a disadvantage!

We arrived at Little Langdale at about 10:30, after crawling along the Coniston road behind someone towing a bl00dy yacht, and was parked right next to the gate. There was a good turn out for the race and the field was packed. Registration done I called at the Pete Bland van to top up on Energy Gels. My plan was to take 4 Gels with me and use them all. I also brought 1.5 litres of water in my bladder and had a couple of Nuun tablets to help take on the water better. Albert likes to call me for wearing too much clothes but today it was about the amount of water I was carrying. "Just drink out of streams!", "No!". However thinking I had brought possibly a little to much water I did decide to empty a little out and then dropped in two Nuun tables (Lemon & Lime). So 4 gels in the bag, Map, compass, race map, 1 litre of water, two tangerines, waterproof top and pants, Helly on, Fell shoes on, GPS tracking set. Sorted. Ready for the off! But forgot to Vaseline my feet though but luckily that didn't cause me any problems!

I'm not going to go into a full route description as I have done that twice now so I'll try and pick out bits.

At around 11Am the runners packed the road and off the race started, the first hurdle was the ford crossing. The bridge is now unsafe and only allows 2 people at a time to cross (Yes it only allows it, it says "Hey you, get off, only two at a time!") so we had been told that all runners were to cross through the ford. God that water was cold. I think this should be made compulsory from now on as it gives the race an extra little bit of character.

Whilst climbing the path to Wetherlam I was keen to identify if I had chosen the right line on the previous recce of the route and for the most part I had. During today's climb though there was a CFR lady that was struggling with the first climb. I'd heard her struggling behind me for some 10 mins as we approached the clagg that was covering the top 1/3rd of the mountain. As she came along side me, pausing occasionally she looked like she was about to burst into tears. I felt a little sorry for her really at that point as 50 mins into a 3-4hr race is not the time to be in tears! I tried to give her a little encouragement even suggesting the peak couldn't be too far away but to be honest I thought we still had another 20-25mins of uphill ahead of us. Luckily though the peak was only 15 mins away and already we heard some other runners saying that they were retiring. I sort of wondered if the lady would be retiring too, however as I headed of the peak towards Swirl How, Barbara (as she had now introduced herself) came up behind me and asked if I minded her running along with me. She also asked if I knew where I was going and I was happy to say I felt "confident" even with the quite thick mist hanging around.

Barbara only needed a little more encouragement as we approached the peak of Swirl How but it was coming off here that the mist seemed to thicken and I started to worry a little. I was happy knowing that I needed to contour, off path, but very conscious I didn't want to head to far left and down into the valley. However it seems I did a good job and picked up the path back down from Great Carrs and finding the, by now, well trodden route to three Shires stone. As we came out of the clagg I could see down towards the Three Shires Stone but there was still some cloud hanging around and I could by now see the peak of Blisco peeping out from above the cloud. I started to wonder if I would still be able to navigate of Blisco in the mist.

My main target before the race was to get the the Stone in the 2 hour time limit. When I reached the top of Wetherlam in 1:05hr I knew I was 10 mins quicker so was on course to get to the stone in 2hrs. I was surprised though when I actually reached the cut-off in 1:50 mins. The decent down to the checkpoint had been a good one and not as rocky as I had thought it was going to be.

It was only at the start of this climb up to Blisco that I decided to take my first, and only, energy gel of the race, Barbara also took the opportunity to take on water and a gel and we also nicked a few jelly babies from a supporter. I also now only noticed that it was raining, not heavy enough to get the waterproofs though. As I climbed, I turned and looked back to noticed a trail of runners behind me. I was convinced we weren't that far from the back of the pack and didn't really get how we had got in front of so many. I started to think that I had just made a good route choice coming off Swirl How but then I later found out that a pack of about 30 runners had gone too far left and ended up further down the valley, only just making it through the checkpoint. Barbara stuck with me on my route choices, despite others now taking slightly different lines up to Blisco. The cloud had cleared here though and I could see the peak up ahead for most of the climb.

Blisco was a little busy now with all the other runners playing catch up and over taking us but we kept going, offering each other encouragement all the way down off Blisco. Again I took slightly different lines to the rest of the pack but came out right on the Stile leading through the bracken to Blea Tarn. I saw Daztheslug just heading down the right hand side of the wall. I chose to stick to the normal path and the (by now) slippy well trodden route down.

As we approached Blea Tarn, I made a point of telling Barbara to watch her footing. Then, just coming through the woods I took a tumble and at EXACTLY the same time, few meters behind me so did my new running mate! I tried to get my footing (imagine something akin to a cartoon character sliding on ice with arms and legs flying all over the place) but in the end I hit the deck (My first proper fall in fell running). My body not being content with a little pain from the fall, it decided to cramp up my right leg also. So there I lay in the woods, my leg in spasm, my other leg now stinging, wondering "...what the F*** was I doing". Barbara got to her feet and came over to help me. The spasm eased and a friendly hand helped my up to my feet and off we trotted as if it hadn't happened.

Quite tired by this point now my water had also started to run out, I knew I should have brought more, but I will listen to others!! As we crossed the road though after Blea Tarn there was a wonderful sign, something like "Drink station ahead". Great, I could get a top up before the last climb. I crossed the cattle grid to find..... an empty road . Never mind!

My climb up Lingmoor was slow and without water to wash down the gels I didn't really want to take on another. Barbara offered me a cereal bar and I offered her a Tangerine. The cereal bar went down well and I need to remember to pack one of those myself for the next big race I do. Plus, the gels take a bit to get into your system, and this last climb is not that long. My pace now was slow, I think this was more fatigue than the running out of water and I started to flag behind Barbara now and I told her to head off but she insisted on waiting for me. Thankfully though one of the marshalls on Lingmoor gave us some water and with potentially no more climbing left I managed to pickup my pace just a tad on the descent to the finish. The marshall did try to explain where the runners path was but we ended up on the tourist path but that was fine as we were not going to be beating any records this year.

Running on the downhills wasn't too bad as my weight carries me a little but when I got onto the flat, my legs had NOTHING left in them at all. Anyway, we crossed the line in 3hr 39 mins and I was very happy with that time and was also happy to collapse beside the finish line.

I was just looking forward to one of the hot pasties Chris had told me about after crossing the line, only to be told when I got to the table that they had just run out. I was gonna have a moan here about runners that go back multiple times for food, taking no consideration of the runners that are still out, but what's the point?

So with a cup of tea and a muffin in hand I watched the presentation and won me a spot prize of a bottle of wine. I don't actually drink wine but it'll do for a Xmas/birthday present for someone though. After the presentation as the cars started to leave the field Chris and I took the chance to grab another cup of tea before the drive home. Thankfully one of the girls from the pub came out with a small tray of pasties and I ran to the table to get one. They were great!

Thanks to all for organising and marshalling. But most of all thanks to Al Fowlup for bringing me 4 BIG bags of Peanut M&M's!

Al Fowler finished in 58th: 2:24:29
Chris finished in 132: 2:46:50
I finished in 262: 3:39:40
All were PB's!

Well done everyone, see you next time!