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!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Wednesday night run!

Another Wednesday night run with Emma but this time we decided to join the Lostock crew. By the time we set of it was just after 7:15 and most of us had head torches with us (except me of course, I'm always under prepared for everything).

A gentle trot up round foxholes and then across to the Devils Staircase (Part of this Mondays coming Downhill race). After a brief stop for photos (Emma will post on her blog soon) it was onwards and up to the Pike. From here most of us carried onward to the mast, well it's not like you can get lost even with the light fading, the mast has about 10 big bright lights on it.

Finding a couple of boggy bits on the way over, the light faded to nothing and I tried to get my night sight. Ahead of me I could see a couple of head torches lighting the way for others. Occasionally one would turn back and 5000 lumen's of light would blind me. I would try to dip my head and avoid the light but it would be too late and my night sight was temporarily gone!

After another brief stop at the mast we followed the Hendersons end route towards two lads and by this point I was wishing I had brought a head torch. Despite various peoples best efforts to light the way running behind me, it created a shadow right along the path in front of me and resulted in me being able to see less than I could without the light.

From two lads down though I had a guardian angel on each shoulder rather than following right behind me so the path was lit up a little better and I enjoyed the run down. It was a good run out and I can see these night runs being a little more frequent, however I don't like the cold and with these dark nights comes the colder weather. I have already been called for dressing like winter in the middle of summer, they'll be commenting about me dressing like I'm going on an arctic expedition during winter.

It's all good fun!

Thanks to everyone for persevering with me (minus a head torch). I'll bring a few thousand lumen's with me next time. promise!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Think Positive

With the three shires race coming up this weekend I am constantly worried about the weather.

So far I have not made it to the checkpoint at the Three shires stone in the alloted 2 hours. So for the rest of this week I'll be analysing the weather patterns and hoping for a dry day so that I can run a little more confidently.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Slip Sliding Away!

Another attempt at the Three Shires route and not the best of days for it either. The weather all week has been poor and I kept checking the Lakes weather forecast on Thursday and Friday to see if there was a hope of a good day. Initially I was going to head up there on my own being as Chris was off doing the Ben race but then last night I caught young Al Fowler on Facebook and asked him if he fancied a SLOW (Slow for him anyway, normal pace for me) trek round the route, which he did.

On waking this morning the cloud was low and the forecast was for rain with cloud on the peaks and 50mph gusts on the ridges and they weren't wrong. I picked young Al up just after 7:30 and off we headed. Not really much in the way of rain on the way up but on arriving in Little Langdale the peaks were in the definitely in the cloud.

After some faffing I we headed of for Wetherlam. This weeks trek up Wetherlam was again fraught with wrong route choices but not in the same way as my last trip. We headed up the path through the bracken but I'm not sure if we missed an offshoot as we seemed to be a little too low. Anyway, we headed up to try and correct it but never really found a path after that. The slog up Wetherlam is a bl00dy long one, it just goes on and on, even when you think you are nearing the top your not. The going was very wet and the rocks very slippy. I slipped a few times on this ascent. After around 1:15 mins (at my pace) we eventually made it to the peak and by now, the gusts were hitting us. I was going to take a photo at this point but I just wanted to head off and get out of the wind, sorry. If you really want a picture, imagine this but looking a little more like a runner than a ballet dancer.

As the tops were in cloud we headed of to Swirl How and took the path rather than the grass but still being extra careful of the slippy rocks. It's only a short run down before you start the ascent up Prison Band to Swirl How, a climb I have started to like more, probably because it doesn't go on that long. However at the summit of Swirl How, the wind was really hitting us now from the south West and the rain was stinging a little as it hit my face, so again, no photo, we just headed off.

It was at this point I gave impressed myself. With no landmarks other than the gradient of the mountain I managed to navigate around Great Carrs and find the path down the other side towards Three Shires stone. I think I stayed a little too high though and joined the path a little early but not too far wrong. We stopped for a minute and Al took the opportunity to eat a Blueberry Jam butty he'd brought, commenting on how good it tasted and then headed on. Coming down this section I reverted to my ballet dancing training, the ground was so wet. I must have slipped and slid about 7-8 times coming down here. As we ran I recognised parts of the route but a little further down we took the wrong path. There is a path to the right that heads on as you reach a cairn and another path that heads left (according to the map). I have never noticed these two paths before but today we manage to start heading down the wrong one until eventually I noticed the road that passes the 3 Shires Stone, but it all looked wrong, plus I could see the valley and parts of Swirl how to my right. When we checked the map, I realised what we had done, but it wasn't too hard to get ourselves back on the right path.

Eventually we crossed the road at the 3 Shires Stone and my watch said 2hr 10mins. Damn, I haven't made this yet in less than 2 hours, I just hope for good weather and not losing time on route finding on race day. Al later admitted he reached a bit of a low point here and just wanted a cup of tea. I nearly brought a flask with me but decided against the extra weight at the last minute. Shame really. Onward though up towards Blisco and it was only here that we actually first saw another member of the human race since leaving Little Langdale. I decided to take the opportunity to eat a tangerine I had with me and it was "Lovely". Food tastes SO nice when you are tired and haven't eaten properly. This prompted a discussion too over how nice the Blueberry Jam butty's were and if it was just the body making them taste much nicer because you were hungry.

I couldn't really make out the two craggs we needed to negotiate and in trying to avoid the early off path route Chris chose last time, we ended up on the same route Chris chose last time. Never mind though it all looked familiar ish to me anyway and we made it to the Pike O Blisco, Well Al did!. I couldn't be ar5ed hitting the wind again so never made the final ascent and chose to wait for Al to come back down.

Still in the cloud we headed east now for the descent to Blea Tarn. With the intention being to stick to the path, we failed and ended up following a runners trod, which this time felt like a MUCH better route than the one Chris and I chose last time. It did however bring us a little lower than last time but once I saw "The trees" near the wall I knew roughly were I was and the direction I needed to head in. Luckily, we came out right at the stile where we needed to be, hopefully I'll not make the mistake of going too far down the wall in the race now I have my markers to head for.

The path down through the bracken to Blea Tarn was much better than last time. The bracken had started to wilt and it was much easier to pick out however with the very wet rocks higher up the going wasn't much faster and as I had been sliding all over the place all day I chose to take my time. Eventually though we ran through the woods and across the "Compulsory Footbridge". Why it's compulsory I don't know? I wonder why you can run right across the steam it traverses, it's not deep! Today I had no issues with my feet like last time although by now, the battering from the wind had taken it's toll and my legs were wrecked, but it wasn't going to stop me finishing the route.

The climb up to Lingmoor is like the "sting in the tail", as Al said. With tired legs there was no way I could have done ANY running, not that I had managed much on any of the uphills anyway. Whilst the path is not too clear the route is easy, you just follow the wall right to the summit. My legs had nothing left and the 2nd Tangerine, the last of my gummy bears and the Strawberry Yogurt flavour (Yuck) energy gel did nothing for my energy levels either. On the summit though we took a quick rest and readied ourselves for the last run back down.

The race map suggested the path veered away from the tourist path but we ended up staying on the path. I assume this is to avoid the two small lumps we had to cross, but on race day the route from the summit it supposed to be flagged anyway so I'm not worried about this. Anyway, we reached the zigzag descent which I had been looking forward to (Because it looked like fun) but when I got there the path was quite rocky and not as much fun as I had hoped. But the best part about this is that I could see the car and new it was nearly over. Thank God!!!!!

Back at the car, we changed into dry clothes and I had a butty I had left there. Amazing how nice a cheap and nasty Tesco Ham & Mustard butty tastes after 4hr 30mins on the fells. But it wasn't good enough, I needed Peanut M&M's. On the drive back I resisted the urge to stop at the garage to get them but with a brief stop in Kendal to call at Pete Blands Shop, Al nipped to the shop for a drink and bought me some. MMMmmm!!!

Back at home I had a nice hot bath. Only the 2nd bath I have had in this house as I'm a shower man. I could have fallen asleep right there. However, Chinese for tea and an early night.

I'm glad I have eventually finished the route but have decided that on race day, if the weather is similar to today's, then I'll not be doing the race. Last year though it wasn't too bad and the clouds lifted so I'm hopeful of a nice day for the 19th Sept. C'mon everyone prey for a good day for me!

Finally, I'd like to thank young Al for coming along and being patient with me and my slow pace. I'm sure his legs must have kept getting cold waiting for me to catch up. Cheers Al!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Why do it?

Sat in my little office today looking out at the weather I wondered if I could be bothered to turn up at tonight's Hades Hill Fell Race. The wind was quite strong and the rain was on and off, sometimes quite heavy. But I decided I needed to keep up the running so didn't talk myself out of it.

Route choice is everything sometimes and not just in the race. I headed for the race along the M60 and through the centre of Rochdale at 6PM on a weekday evening. I wondered if I would actually make the race at one point, but eventually I arrived and I think the clock on my Sat Nav is a little fast thankfully.

I registered for the race and head for the start line and as I got there the heavens opened, right on cue for the race. The organiser turned up to start the race and everyone came out from under the tree that was acting as shelter and off we headed up the hill.

This race doesn't have any big climbs but instead is made up of three separate climbs. Having never done the race before I decided not to make the same mistake I did at Harrock hill by setting off too fast but tried to stick to a steady pace. You follow the road for a short way before turning onto the hills. Nice grassy tracks to start with the wind behind us on the way out but plenty of mud and puddles.

At the start of a race it makes me laugh that I am reluctant to get my feet wet and constantly try to jump over puddles and avoid sinking in the mud, however by about 1/2 way round I am tired and normally my efforts to keep my feet dry have failed (Quite early on) and I start to just wade through any and all puddles I see. The route for this race is pretty much an out and back and seeing the front runners coming back made me realise that the top wasn't too far away and at this point I was feeling OK.

Not so on the return leg. OK there was more downhill but coming around one of the hills the wind was buffeting me, I think I had been sheltered by the hill up until this point. I had my Peak cap and my waterproof coat on and the rain was stinging me as it hit my face. Blowing across my path, the wind also made it harder to put my foot where I wanted it to go so this also affected my pace and with the amount of mud underneath every step it was only a matter of time before I fell or stumbled, and I did. Just the once and I turned my ankle but not too bad, it just cause me to limp run for a minute or so until the pain eased and I started the next climb.

Try as I might I couldn't find the energy on the run in to catch and pass the runner in front of me. Twice I had managed to catch him but we then hit some flat running and he pulled away from me. Had the finish been at the bottom of the hill we started on, then I think I might have been able to get him but it wasn't to be tonight.

I finished in 53:52 in 77th place from only 86 runners. Not a great result but I don't think I could have done more on the night. However a nice pint of Magners was still deserved in the pub afterwards and some toast when I got home.