Saturday, 18 February 2012

Catch Up

Mark's recent updates reminded me that I hadn't updated this blog myself for quite a while, so here's a few pictures taken in the period since we did Three Shires last September.

We were back in Cumbria for a friend's wedding at the end of September and it just so happened to be on the same day as the Scafell Pike Race. Many thanks to Andy Holden for taking this shot.
This was taken at the finish (I converted to B&W due to messing up the exposure!). Just my type of race this one; very low key.
October half term we headed up to Kettlewell in Yorkshire for the Great Whernside Fell Race. Another of my favourite short races and again quite low key.
Before the start; just gather at the base of a big hill then run straight to the top and back down again.

The runners heading up the hill.
Thanks to Dave and Eileen Woodhead for taking pictures.
The day after Boxing Day we headed back up North for a week, this was taken on Winter Hill where I went for a run before we drove up to Wasdale. Conditions weren't really suitable for good pictures with the mist and rain.
This was a long exposure photo I took at dusk.
Sunset on New Year's Day looking from near Lank Rigg by Ennerdale. It was a lovely afternoon with the mist coming in over the trees.
Before leaving for home I went with my eldest lad up towards Scafell to take some more pictures. This is looking over to Wasdale Head and the Mosedale Valley.
Back to where I usually train, the day before going back to work after New Year. I got caught in the rain you can see approaching. Notice the lack of hills in Hertfordshire!
This was taken just last weekend while I was on my long run, the snow has all gone now.
Another one from last weekend, fantastic running in the snow.

Apart from entering Ben Nevis again I haven't made any other plans for this year yet. I'd like to do something special for my 40th year but so far I haven't decided what that will be.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Beacon Bash – 5th Feb 2012

Well another weekend and another run out. This time it was the Beacon Bash from Newburgh near Parbold. I was worried I wouldn’t get an entry to this one as I’d heard it was full, but with a race number of 203 I suspect the entry limit of 150 wasn’t being strictly applied (thankfully).

I did this run last year and it’s a nice little route. But this years conditions were the complete opposite. On the Saturday it had ‘tried’ to snow but had only managed to snow those tiny icy balls (much smaller than hail). Then it had rained and then it frozen overnight.

Low Mist on Douglas Valley

The early Sunday morning started with some low level mist and some hesitant driving where I chose the motorway rather than the back roads as the best route to get there without incident. Arriving 30 mins before the start (unusually early) I sat and had a drink before I started and chat with others preparing to set off. Of course by the time everyone started I was still faffing about and getting myself ready.

Starting from the back of the pack it was a nice gentle pace. The route quickly leaves the main road and joins the canal. The canal was … treacherous. People were slipping and sliding all over the place and I feared that one of a group of girls, after falling on the ice twice, might end up in the canal. Thankfully all was well and I headed on until the route left the canal and up towards the Wigin Tree Pub on top of Parbold Hill. The path up here wasn’t much better and by now the slow running with the group of girls had meant I was pretty much running alone.

Crossing the road and heading over the fields I approached Checkpoint 1 (High Moor) and both ahead of me and behind me I could hear random screams from groups of females slipping on ice, you know the sort, the shreaks that you let out when you unexpectedly lose traction, assume your gonna be on your arse in about 0.5 secs, tense up every muscle but then luckily your foot manages to grip to something, your arms swing around in all directions for balance and then relief sets in.

On leaving Checkpoint 1 the route follows (mostly) the Harrock Hill race route backwards over the fields to the top of the quarry. The track road up to the top of the quarry looked icy so I decided that I would take the long way round up through the field and it seemed that was a better choice as on arriving at Checkpoint 2 I’d caught up to the larger group of Pink PanthersHarrock Hill (Who I assume had been making all the noise I’d previously heard).

By this point we had already caught and passed a number of walkers, one of whom commented that the runners had caught them up much sooner this year because of the conditions. A brief food stop and off towards Jacksons Lane. From Jacksons Lane the route again follows part of the Harrock Hill race route backwards before passing over Harrock Hill besides the ruin of the windmill. So far I had managed without the route description and this mist was giving me just enough visibility to see walkers/runners in front.

FoodHeading back over the fields towards High Moor Farm then onwards over more fields towards the road crossing and into Fairy Glen Wood. The path through the wood was lethal in places and I decided I need to invest in some Kahtoolas just for this type of occasion. Eventually though Checkpoint 3 arrived and food. I topped up with a cup of tea, a few cups of juice, some butties and a cake and headed out the door. Normally I make the mistake of stopping for a break but then I start to stiffen up and after this I just can’t get going again. So with my tea in hand I headed onwards. I love a cup of tea during a race!

On leaving Checkpoint 3 I was advised that the marshall may be missing at Checkpoint 4. Now the route twists a little through various narrow strips of woodland heading for Roby Mill. Just before I reached the main road through Roby Mill I passed a couple of young lads who asked me for directions to Beacon Country Park. Unfortunately, with only the text based instructions I only knew for certain that Roby Mill was ahead of me. On looking at the map now I can see that they were in fact walking away from Beacon Park. Sorry!!

Danger Children PlayingRunning down one of the lanes away from Roby Mill I noticed an amusing sign,
“Danger, Children Playing”.
I couldn’t help but wonder how dangerous the children could be? Were they playing with knives or something??

Anyway, Checkpoint 4 came and went with no marshall so I pushed on for Beacon Park. Further along though I came upon Checkpoint 4. It seems one of the marshalls had been struggling with ice and blocked routes on leaving her house and she wanted to tell me about it. I do appreciate the efforts of the marshalls and organisers and always say please and thank you as much as possible but I didn’t really want a 5 minute pit stop to listen to the details of the struggle to find a clear road, not whilst the group of 3 people I had just caught up managed to escape of up the next track.

The day was starting to warm a little and the frozen ground in places had started to clear and melt away. Running through Beacon park saw a little bit of grip from the shoes and they caught in the top of the now un-frozen mud. Ashurst BeaconCheckpoint 5 arrived and some nice hot soup. Now if you are a marshall and like to chat it’s best to have Tea/Coffee or soup to offer out. With the offer of Chicken Soup and a couple of slices of bread I’ll stand around and chat with you all day.

Pushing on it the final section with only about 3.5 miles of the 21 miles left to go. Up and over Ashurst Beacon and a wander through the fields of Dalton Lees, Rookery Farm and Woodcock Hall before finally arriving back at the sports club in Newburgh in a time of 4hrs 40mins. Considering the conditions I was very happy with this time.

With just enough time for a quick shower, a couple of cups of tea, a pint of coke, some Hot Pot with Beetroot and two slices of jam sponge cake and a chat with Albert and Tony it was time to head off home and take the kids out to McDonalds.

Thanks to all the organisers and marshall without whom these events wouldn’t happen.


Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Hebden

The first of my longer events of the year as the Hebden. This is primarily an LDWA event but it has become heavily attended by runners for the challenge of the event and route has great appeal.

Being my usual, organised self (much like tonight), I didn’t prepare my things the night before and instead chose to get ready in the morning when I blatantly didn’t have enough time too. Leaving the house without an accurate postcode I made my way to Hebden Bridge. With 400 people setting off at 8AM it can’t be that hard a place to find in a small village. Well I couldn’t find the start and the picture I had stored in my mind from Google maps wasn’t falling into place. So I resorted to the smart phone to Google the details of the event.

Of course I couldn’t find any of the 400 entrants. They were all in the right village of Motholmroyd which was about 2 miles up the road from where I was. NUMPTY!

I arrived at the event at 8AM and most had just set of. I still needed to park, get my kit out, put my shoes on and collect my tallies. As a result I set off some 17 minutes behind everyone else. I thought about cutting the start short to catch up to others but I didn’t come to race with others I came for the event, so stuck to the route description sheet.

Running along the start of the route the ground was littered with footprints of the runners ahead of me. It only took about 15 – 20 mins before I came upon the back markers (walkers) and the sweeper of the 24 mile route. Walking briefly with them for a chat and then I plodded on. This seemed to happen for most of the day and I really enjoyed it, there was no pressure (from myself) to keep up with other runners. Slowly picking of people it was great not being passed all the time.

The route itself has plenty of climb (4000ft) and combined with the 22 miles it’s a good challenge. However if you add to this a fiercely cold wind on the tops it becomes a little more of a challenge. As the day progress it seemed the wind on each top gradually got stronger. On reaching Checkpoint 5 the poor lady in the white van was trying to serve butties, cakes and drinks to everyone whilst the wind kept trying to close the van doors on her. Just after this point the wind became so strong and cold on my face I even had to don the balaclava as my face was stinging.

With a small mistake on the final section I finished the route in 5hr 35mins (after the 17 min late start deduction). Considering I did far too much talking I reckon I could probably get that down to about 5hr 20min. At the finish there was plenty of food, drink and mulled wine to be had. It was a well organised event and one I hope to attend again next year.


Other blog of The Hebden

Dark & White Mini MM (8/1/12)

Over Christmas Tony Varley told me that I could use his place in the next Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon at Hathersage. I’d wanted to try one of these but most of the events was clashing with something else this year. I mailed the organiser to check it was ok and I was in.

They are much like a Long orienteering event. Typically a 3 hour score event you collect your map and plan your route on the fly, with points scattered far and uphill and down dale. You have to get as many points as possible within the 3 hours and get back, failure to get back in time will cost you points. Each control being worth a different number of points.

Most of my chosen route was probably travelled by quite a few of the competitors as there was a natural route to follow. I made a mistake on one route which cost me about 10 points, but my biggest mistake of the day had to be, falling over a tree!DSC00041small

Yep, trotting uphill along a woodland path I somehow manage to unsuccessfully step over a large fallen tree trunk that was laying across the path. One minute I was vertical and the next I was horizontal. I jumped up and carried on knowing that others were following me but unsure if I’d been seen. The result was a nice scrape on my left shin.

I really enjoyed this event. The time on my feet and the length comprised with route choice is just right for me. I’m looking forward to trying some of the planned 4hr events at the end of 2012.

Must Try Harder

27th September was our last blog entry so you would be forgiven for thinking the blog has been dropped but it hasn’t we’ve all just had lots on. Don’t have anything specific to report from the later part of 2011. After the Ben I also ran the Lake District Mountain Trial and really enjoyed that. I do like the long distance Orienteering type of events as it allows both of my pasttimes to be completed in one event. I keep saying I am going to enter a Mountain Marathon and tried pestering Chris but he’s not having any of it so thankfully Albert has offer to do one with me.

I had hoped to enter the Saunders Mountain Marathon but as yet I haven’t made any plans or got my act together so we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe I’ll tackle the LAMM or the RAB instead.

In the meantime I’m trying for more longer runs to build up the mileage and targeting the LDWA runs as I like the low keyness of them and of course the food on the way round.