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.