After Ben Nevis last year I didn't do much until December due to various niggles that I get from time to time. I had a go at a few cross country races that the club I joined last year are involved with which I found surprisingly tough; not that I don't like short races but sustaining a hard, fast pace for 30 or 40 minutes especially on the flat is not something I am used to or particularly good at! I did enjoy the team scoring element though where even if you finished many places down you were still contributing to the overall results.
|One of the few places I ran during Autumn despite the dodgy knee/hip - this was coming off Fairfield into Grasmere in between the rain showers.|
New Year's Eve I travelled to the Essex coast for a fell race believe it or not. That was a good laugh; on the first muddy downhill I passed at least 10 runners who appeared to stop dead because of the slippery slope and ended up in third place but then just like a proper fell race I got lost so ended up about 9th at the finish. The race fee was either chocolate or alcohol and everyone got to take home a prize, people getting their pick in race finish order.
|One of the cross country events I did, this was the Hertfordshire Vets XC at Royston where there were actually some ups and downs.|
|Final descent at Box Hill, great fast grassy running.|
Following that was 2 weeks of next to no running but a change of physio got me back into the cross country then in the middle of February I sneaked a run in at High Cup Nick. It was a toss up between that and Flower Scar on the same day, neither of which I had done before but looking at the routes I decided to head North to Dufton. I had a good run, it was a very windy day but it was behind us on the climb, turning into the wind and rain at the top was a bit of a shock but I just put my windproof on then enjoyed the descent.
|Final descent through the fields at High Cup Nick. Photo linked from the Racing Snakes Website.|
March brought another local race I hadn't done before - the Orion 15. Billed as a classic cross country race it's 15 miles around Epping Forest with some ups and downs thrown in. I had a good run and finished just under my target time of 2hrs. I've done a few races with free beer at the finish but this was the first one where they had champagne, celebrating their 60th year.
We had a week's stay in Glencoe just before Easter so as usual I had a look at the calendar to see what was on. New Dungeon Ghyll was another I hadn't done before so I did that on the way to Scotland, quite wet for most of the way around and also very misty which made for some interesting routes! This was the first race I got to try my Innov8 X-Talons and I was less than impressed - I slipped and fell over twice on the wet stuff where normally I would have complete confidence in my usual mudclaws.
|Coming down to the finish, being careful not to slip in those damn X-Talons. Conditions weren't great though.|
|I had a good run up the valley near where we stayed - Gleann Leac ne Muidhe. You can just about see a small rainbow I captured over Loch Leven.|
|I ran the last section of the West Highland Way while up there. Beautiful surroundings and met a few characters on the route who had done the whole thing.|
On the way home from Scotland I fitted in a run at the Boulsworth Bog Fell Race. I wore the x-talons again thinking that it was very dry and there wasn't much steep ground on that route, they were much better. I still went and bought a pair of mudclaws though for the next race I had an entry for - The Teenager With Altitude.
|On the first climb at the Teenager. Shiny (not for long!) new mudclaws. Photo courtesy of Athletes in Action.|
Next up for me is a Cumbrian Traverse that I have planned with a friend from the club, really looking forward to that just hope we get some nice weather for the views.
|Mark as we crossed over Brandreth during a recce of the middle section of the Cumbrian Traverse|