Friday, December 18, 2009

Nearly Christmas

I've now finished work for Christmas and so have the next week to myself, the Physio has advised me to lay off running till the New Year and do some knee strengthening excercises. But I should be okay to ride the bike. Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and very Happy New Year. Sorry there hasn't been much to report for the last couple of months, but I'll be back into the swing next year.

All the Best - Karl

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Not a great result for me yesterday at the Tour of Pendle. I started off okay, the climbing felt hard at race pace but I was moving okay, further down the field than I was last year, but that was expected. It started going wrong on the "Geronimo" descent to Ogden Clough, my recurring knee pain I have been experiencing of late almost stopped me in my tracks as I jarred it running downhill.

I limped on to the end of the clough and the next climb but I decided that I was only going to do more harm so I sadly walked out to retire. The first race I haven't finished, gutted doesn't start to explain it. I think I need to rest, lose some weight and probably see a physio before starting training in ernest again in the new year.

Conditions where tough yesterday so well done to everyone who finished. It was great to see a few friends and catch up, just a shame about the result.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wanderings around Winter Hill

Gem and I had a great day round Rivington and Winter Hill on Sunday battling against the elements, I was testing out my new shoes bought last weekend after a quick jog round Latrigg on a whistle stop trip to Keswick. I decided to try the New Balance 840 I loved the RX terrain but unfortunately they are not made anymore, and these were £50 in the factory shop so cheaper than anything else I had considered.

12 months ago I was battling severe weather on the OMM and being featured on the BBC News, but this year a fellow competitor from last year had invited me to his wedding, thus getting me out of it for another 12 months, I will be back to finish it next time.

We decided to make an early start and try and get in about 3 - 4 hours of running around the local fells, vaguely following parts of the Winter Hill race, the wind was definitely against us and climbing up Winter Hill from Egg Hillock was definitely hard graft. It was great to be out getting a few miles in, I need to get back into it ready for the Tour of Pendle next month. Talking to a couple of friends on Saturday night I have some competition. I might even be tempted to a recce on Friday afternoon if I get out of work in time.

I've been out on the bike a bit, cycling to work and went for a long ride taking in a few climbs last week when I was off work. I'm off again on Monday and Tuesday so I think I'll take advantage and get a couple of long days out, one running and one on the bike. I have been having a littl bit of knee pain but I think its down to all the miles I have done this year and hopefully nothing serious.

Just need to figure out my goals for next year, I've been looking at a few events and noticed that I can qualify for the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, a race I have fancied doing for ages so I'll have a look and maybe venture out for something a bit different. Any good ideas gratefully received.......

 I have been following loads of blogs recently and its great to read about people's antics have a look down my blog roll and take a couple of minutes to check out some of the blogs, a really good read.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

BG Reunion Dinner

Last night was the Bob Graham Round Club reunion dinner at the Shap Wells Hotel. It was the end of a BG journey that started about two years ago, recieving my certificate from Anne Johnson, the womens record holder for the BG and 24hr record (66 peaks!). If felt great to finally hold that certificate in my hands, although Mark Hartells words were resounding through my head still. If it wasn't for all the help I have received during my training, and on the round it would have been impossible to be here, thank you again to all those who helped me to get to the end I don't think I would ever be able to repay you fully, but do remind me I owe you all a pint at least !

Thursday, October 01, 2009


We have just had a wonderful two weeks holiday in France getting plenty of bouldering done and getting some sun. We have been to Font four times before, but every time we go we find new places to explore, it is a beautiful place and the climbing is as hard as you want it to be, loads for everyone to do. Two weeks in a tent has been great and I feel fully refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of training again, just need to decide on the next goal.

Off for another day of Bouldering at Apremont

91.1 with the fine white sand

Got a bouldering mat and a baguette, all's good!

Franhard Haute Plains

Grez sur Loing, village where we camped

At the tent

Chicken on the fire, nice !

Friday, August 21, 2009

The end of my Kanadias

It was a sad day Sunday as I was unpacking my stuff from the car, I had only got home from the lakes at 2am so I had just chucked my shoes under the car so my car didn't stink, and chucked my clothes in the washing machine.

I had made the decision about half way down Scafell that it was definitely time to retire my trusty Adidas Kanadia Trail shoes that have done so many mile with me this year. I bought them back in April and used them on most of my runs since, including the Fellsman and my Bob Graham round. To be honest they were looking pretty tired after my BG with a few holes here and there but there was still some life in the soles and I wasn't going to chuck them away just yet, value for money and all that.

I was finding I was slipping around a bit of Saturday and noticed I could see quite a bit of my socks whilst running as well. For a trail shoe they have been pretty handy on the fells and I have to say that I would definitely invest in another pair as a training shoe and would recommend them to anyone running on predominantly trails or rocky terrain such as the Lake District Fells, they perhaps don't have the grip of an out and out fell show such as a walsh or mudclaw but for general running they are an affordable option, I only paid £40 for mine and there are plenty of deals around. Good cushioning and fit although order 1/2 a size bigger and great feel and grip.

Mike and Ali's Bob Graham Round

The end Ali & Mike
I was contacted through my blog by a couple of lads who I ran the last 20 miles or so of the Fellsman with this year, Alistair and Mike. I had recently been making enquiries to find out if they had managed to complete their Bob Graham Round on the 6th June, the same weekend I had originally planned mine. It transpires that they experienced unseasonal conditions on the Helvellyn ridge with snow and wind, which left them and their pacers in a near hypothermic state, resulting in them calling it a day at Dunmail.

Ali contacted me so I emailed him to see how their support was looking, when he described it as very light he wasn't joking, so far none! I volunteered for three legs, if required, from Dunmail onwards and advised them to try the FRA forum for some help. As usual the forumites rallied support together and they now had support on all the legs, ready for a 00:30 start on the 15th August.

The forecast was not brilliant, gales and rain, but it looked as though it was set to improve from lunch time onwards. I met the road support in Keswick in the morning and left my car by the B&B they were using as a base and even managed to get a brew from the owners who were very accommodating and also runners from Keswick AC so understood the whole BG thing! We headed up to Dunmail to meet them, they had set off from Threlkeld 10 mins down on a 23:30 schedule so we were pleased to see them coming down Seat Sandal 10 mins up on schedule again. After a quick water and feed it was off up Steel Fell with me in the navigator/mule/pacer role, I was determined to try and make some time up on this leg for them so they would be 30 mins up at Wasdale. We were going really well, the conditions were shocking and as the wind gusted and the rain persisted down it made the going hard work. I was worried about the rocky ground from Bowfell onwards that I knew would be slippy and it would be hard for us to maintain the pace and the increasing advantage we had. Luckily for me the guys were still going great as I had a bit of a dip on the climb up Bowfell, but soon recovered and we were making great time across the plateau towards Esk Pike and Great End.

Fading light from Grey Knotts
As we reached the summit of Scafell Pike we had a 30 min advantage and the rain had eventually subsided, and there seemed to be a brightening behind the clouds. Obviously Broad Stand was not an option so we traversed under the East Face of Scafell to pick up the Foxes Tarn path, unfortunately we mistook the path for a stream and went too far, after a bit of backtracking we got onto the path and headed up to Scafell, we had lost the advantage but were still on schedule. After a quick descent we picked up the scree slope down to Brackenclose and we met up with Steve Lang who was to support leg 4 with my assistance.

I decided to take an extended rest at Wasdale as I was feeling pretty drained after pushing it on the last leg, I would have something to eat and change my socks etc and meet up with the guys again at Black Sail Pass. After a quick drink with Anna and John I headed off up the path to the pass, I got there half an hour before they were due so I ducked down out of the wind and admired the scenery for a while. I could soon see Mike's bright yellow jacket making its way down pillar so I gathered my stuff together and joined them on the slog up Kirk Fell. It felt good to see them again and get back into the rhythm ticking the peaks off, we were soon over Great Gable, Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts and I was picking up the line down to Honister, as we looked left the sun, low in the sky, was reflecting off Buttermere and Crummock Water it looked as though the last leg was going to provide some good conditions.

Descending to Honister
After a quick feed and water stop at Honister all that was left was three more peaks, by the time we reached the summit of Dalehead our head torches were on as we jogged across to Hindscarth and then onto Robinson. The pace was quick and I was working hard to stick with them, we made steady progress down the Robinson Ridge the dark making it quite awkward and difficult to move at any speed. We soon hit the grassy col and we descended into Newlands and along the road to dump the bags and for Mike and Ali to change into road shoes. The pace back into Keswick was blistering for two fellas who had just run 60 odd miles and not bad for one who had done nearly 40, it was decided that, although it was a tenuous achievement, if we got back for midnight then they would have finished inside a calendar day. We went for it sprinting down the road and onto the High Street, the drunken revellers passing comment that it was too late to be running, they touched the Moot Hall at 23:59 twenty three hours and thirty three minutes since they set off.

I recognised the bemused grins on their faces, that feeling of utter exhaustion and a disbelief that, yes you have done it, you complete the Bob Graham Round. Good effort lads you deserved it, and it didn't come easy, it was certainly earned.

From Black Sail Pass looking towards the end

Coming off Pillar to Black Sail


Crossing the Langdale Pikes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who ate all the Pies ?

I thought some of my followers may be interested to see some pictures of me from the dark and distant past when I wasn't a fell runner. These pictures are c 1997 when I went to Benidorm with a couple of my mates. Its quite shocking to look at them now and reminds me what I was like before I got into excercising. I was about 17 stone or so then, and definitely more into eating and drinking than running up and down fells!

Good bit of ballast in the boat

The sun always agreed with me!

Post pie eating competition!

The Hoff eat your heart out
Shocking I know, who would have thought he could run a BG ?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


On Sunday the Iron Man UK cycle route came past our house, Ben, John and Alex were doing it so we made sure we were out early to support them and all the other competitors. Well done to them all on finishing what must be a gruelling event, I think I'd drown on the swim.

Congratulations Iron Men some photos I managed to capture during the day.

The last few weeks


Its been a few weeks since I last posted on my Blog but don't worry I haven't given up or disappeared, lost motivation or got lost just not really had the time to sit down and write down my thoughts.

I was surprised just how much the round did take out of me, I've not slept so well for years, even a couple of weeks later I could still feel some effects from my round. I did a couple of routes on the big wall at the climbing wall and was shot, the bike ride to work felt hard work but I still averaged 17-18 mph so It mustn't have been as bad as it felt!

I think supporting my Bob Graham Round has sparked some interest with Gem which has been fantastic, and as a result I now have a regular training partner on the fells. Our first excursion was to Horton in Ribblesdale and an attempt on the three peaks at a fairly leisurely pace aiming for about 6-7 hrs. We made pretty good time over Pen-y-Ghent and carried on well by Hull Pot and onto Birkwith Moor but the sky turned a very dark shade of grey and started to look very angry. We had only taken lightweight jackets with us so I decided it was probably better to turn for home down the road back to Horton cutting the run short. Sure enough half way back the heavens opened and we were well and truly drenched by the rain, straight through our shower proof jackets and soaked to the skin. Definitely a baptism of fire for Gem, which I hoped had not put her off too much.

Gem on the way to Whernside

Beating a hasty retreat !

The 12th July we headed up to Honister Pass as I had planned to support Duncan Richards on his 50@50 we had a text message on the way to say he was down on schedule but still going. Unfortunately for Duncan he had to call it a day at Red Pike due to excruciating pain in his knees and make a low level traverse to Honister. He arrived about 7hrs after we expected him but it was great to see him and help him down of Grey Knotts. We did manage to get a few miles in during the day having a run out to Black Sail Pass and then running up and down looking out for Duncan.

Gem heading up from Honister

The next weekend we decided to make amends and stay more local, heading off on one of my favourite training runs, although a slightly shortened version missing out Darwen Tower but taking in; Rivington Pike, Two Lads, Winter Hill and Great Hill a total of 16.5 miles and about 3,000ft of ascent so not a bad run. We walked this route last year with some folks from Gemma's work when they were training for the Caledonian Challenge so we both knew the terrain well. It was very wet around Winter Hill, due to the recent rain, which made going awkward at times especially when I slipped coming off the back of Winter Hill and got mud all up my back! It was a good day out and definitely more successful than the previous week, Gem was now starting to talk about maybe attempting the Fellsman next May!

The following weekend I volunteered, via the forum, to support Rod Jones on a sub 20hr BG on leg 2. I had run this leg pretty quick in practice for my BG but it would be a fast leg aiming for 3hrs 50 for 13.2 miles and 5900ft of ascent. I got a text from Anthony at 5:45 asking if I could bring him a bum bag as he may carry on to do leg 2 with us, I had just got up to get my stuff together. I hopped in the car and headed up to Threlkeld for about 8:00, I was talking to Rod's wife Gill and having a coffee when we spotted them on Halls Fell Ridge on schedule and moving steadily down.

They were soon down, Rod, Anthony and Stuart, who had turned up at the Moot Hall after reading the forum to offer support. We all soon set off to Clough Head and started the slog up the steep front, the last time I did this leg was on my BG in the dark and it seemed only too familiar. The pace was quick and we made great time along the ridge chatting as we ran about running, and the fells, four of us ticking off the peaks as we went, we had some strange glances from all the walkers making their way across the Helvellyn range. We sprinted (almost) up Fairfield and then over Seat Sandal and down to Dunmail Raise just three minutes down on the schedule. To cut a long story short there had been a serious accident with a cyclist and a motor bike and we arrived into a scene of ambulances, police cars and the air ambulance. Gill had witnessed the accident and delivered first aid to the cyclist whilst waiting for the emergency services to arrive so we had a bit of a wait whilst she gave a statement, it was at this point I should have sat in the shade as I came home with a lovely sun kissed glow after sitting in the midday sun for 2hrs ! Unfortunately Rod's wheels fell off on the way down Scafell and he had to drop out at Wasdale, he was going like a train so a real shame for him, better luck next time.

Pics from Rod's BG

BG Pics Album

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leg 5 Honister - Keswick

As we left Honister I knew it wouldn't be long till I saw Gem and Rick again, they were going to meet us at Newlands Church with road shoes for the last road section into Keswick. I was joined by Gerry Dewhurst & Steve Foster, as well as Emma who carried on from the last leg, Simon, who had been for lunch with Gem and Rick and was now raring to go again, and Jess who had got some kip in his bright pink tent at Dunmail then come to meet me for the last leg. It was great going up Dalehead, a fantastic feeling that all these people had come out to see me home I struggled to chew a Clif bar whilst climbing and only ended up eating half, it was too much effort to chew !

Me and my leg 5 support crew

Water and encouragement was passed from every direction each time I looked up, it was seriousy hot now in the afternoon sun and the miles were starting to show in my face I think. Coversation was light and humerous and a grin appeared across my face, this is the enjoyment of days like these, the atmosphere and comraderie shown by fellow fell runners. Two of these people I hadn't met before today, and yet they had driven all the way to the Lakes, at unsociable hours of the day, to help see me round my Bob Graham Round. It is truly humbling all the people that helped me and I will be forever grateful and would be pleased to return the favour any time.

On the way to Hindscarth

A couple of familiar faces appeared as we were descending Dalehead, Ian and Paline Charters, they have been a great source of information and support during the run up to my attempt and it was great to see them on the hill and run with them for a while, chatting as we shuffled along (it was definitely a a shuffle by now!). As we climbed Hindscarth and on to Robinson, more water was passed my way everywhere I looked, I remembered I had put a bag of Haribo in for this leg. Jess found them in his bag and I took a big handful, about half the bag, they tasted great and the only thing I could really be bothered eating by this point. Gerry tipped some left over water down my back, that was really refreshing.

As I touched peak number 42 it felt wonderful, all that training, the pain, the great days out, the not so great days out and everything I had worried about was lifted from my shoulders, it was done. Not yet though there was still the slight issue of getting to the Moot Hall ! the last descent felt great, stretching out my legs down the grassy slope, laughing at Jess who was struggling in his road shoes to get the required traction. All that was left now was 10k on the road, I wasn't going to set any records! We met Gem on the road and she ran for while with us, Rick was waiting with water in the cool box, and my road shoes, after a quick change we were away. I knew I had more than enough time for this section and I took it steady, taking the time to enjoy this moment, I don't think I wanted the Moot Hall to come too soon I just wanted to enjoy this feeling, a great day with friends in a beautiful place.

Nearly there

As we got nearer the smile got bigger and the legs strangely felt stronger, we crossed the bouncy bridge and then turned the corner onto the High Street, I could see the Moot Hall again for the first time in nearly 23 hrs. Gerry and Steve ran ahead to stop the traffic as people wound down their windows to enquire on whether it was a BG and offer their congratulations, I broke out into a sprint finish weaving my way through shoppers by the market, only to find the door blocked by a great big bloody van and some boxes! I was about to hurdle the boxes when the sensible voice in the back of my head said no, and I stepped gently through them to touch the door, YES!

Mine and Simon's sycronised dancing!

But where was Gem and Rick ? Everyone was shaking my hand and random strangers offered congratulations. Gem & Rick appeared over the steps, they weren't sure which side of the market stalls I would come up and hadn't seen me come in, Gem gave me a massive hug, her and Rick had played a blinder on the road support it was flawless, she told me she was really proud of me but I was really proud of her too. They had brought some bubbly with them and after a couple of swigs out of the bottle I passed it round. Jude from Gemma's work had turned up to see me in, and she commented that I looked to fresh, I certainly didn't feel it! As everyone dispersed and said their goodbyes we headed down to the car, we all sat round for a bit eating flap jack, making phone calls and just trying to take it all in whilst we reorganised the car and bagged all the smelly stuff.

My walk had become quite comical now and I wouldn't have looked out of place in a Monty Python sketch! Of course the room in the Hotel was on the second floor! We had a shower then headed down for some dinner and some more bubbly. Duncan Richards popped in to say hello, it was great to see him, I have spent a lot of time training with him. We were all starting to show signs of fatigue, converstaion had turned to grunts and we decided it was time for bed..................

Thank you to all of you who helped me get here, to all those who've dragged me out on training runs, asked me to support various challenges, those who turned up on the day to drag me round, I can't thank you enough. Huge thanks to my road side team, Rick & Gem, a pleasure to see you both and you looked after me amazingly. Especially Gem for being so understanding when I kept dissapearing at 3 in the morning and leaving you for the day, for not getting fed up with me talking about the Bob Graham all the time and for your support. Thank you all.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Leg 4 Wasdale - Honister

Leaving Wasdale

I had, in the back of mind, been dreading Yewbarrow slightly, it's so steep and unrelenting and infamously one of the hardest parts of a clockwise round. I was moving okay though, slightly weighed down by the rice pudding, but moving slowly upwards towards the summit. I had figured out early on in the round that the energy chews I had put in where great to suck on for a bit of a boost, so I was making my way through them as we moved along. We picked up the trod off the back of Yewbarrow towards Red Pike, Anthony commenting that it was unfair I could still run downhill faster than him even though I had so many miles in my legs! Bill took a detour to cut out a few peaks and aid his recovery from the last leg.

With Emma in charge of navigation, Red Pike was soon ticked off and we were on the way to Steeple, I had run this leg the other way with Ian Charters only a couple of weeks before and I knew a few useful lines that Kath Brierley had shown us to cut out a bit of rough ground. The sun was baking down now and the water was going down fast, every time I looked to the right on this section I could see Great Gable looming, waiting for me, I blocked it out and just tried to concentrate on the next peak. To quote Richard Asquith "This part of the circuit is, by general consent, one of the hardest patches of any clockwise round, with three of the biggest peaks of all - Pillar, Kirk Fell and Great Gable - in quick succession. After that it gets easier; but knowing that it will do so doesn't make the patch any less painful. The sheer quantity of ascent and descent consumes your morale as voraciously as it consumes your strength." Anthony and Emma gave me regular updates and kept the encouragement going as I tried to keep my mind on the job in hand.

One of those ascents!
Coming down off Pillar

My legs were feeling heavy and the climbing felt hard, every time I lifted my knees it felt harder but I stuck with it. As we came down from Pillar to Black Sail Pass, Bill was waiting with fresh water bottles, he took some empties round Kirk Fell to fill them at a stream, I dipped my hat in a small tarn and put it back on to chill my head down a bit. Kirk Fell felt a long climb and as Bill joined us for the climb up Great Gable I could really feel the miles in my legs. As we got to the top Bill said I could follow him down a quick route to Green Gable, it had taken him 14 mins with someone a few weeks before so off we flew down a rocky slope and down to Windy Gap, we then climbed up the top of Green Gable, this took us ten mins, it felt good and I think at this point I realised I had it in the bag.

Emma, Anthony & Me on Great Gable

Just five more peaks and that was it, Brandreth and Grey Knotts passed quickly and we were soon on the descent to Honister Pass, I felt a lot differently than I did here last October on the OMM, I had four hours to get to Keswick and no less than five support to help me.

Gemma and Me at Honister

I had my soup and warm Nuun and my last couple of Ibruprofen and then I was on my feet and on my way again.....................

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Leg 3 Dunmail Raise - Wasdale Head

Simon and me through the mist

We made good time up Steel Fell, only just over the schedule time, I have always used the direct route straight up the gully when climbing Steel Fell, although whilst talking to Joss Naylor (notice the name drop!) at Wasdale on Ian Charters’ 55@55 he mentioned going diagonally on a rising traverse and going up a gully just near the top. This was the line we took and it seemed a much nicer gradient and easier than normal, Bill was spot on as usual with his route finding and we skipped across the top and onto Calf Crag no problem. The cloud was now starting to burn off and rise making a nice morning, as the heat started to penetrate and warm my body.

Simon gave me a piece of fruitcake and some honey roasted nuts on the way to Sergeant Man, these made a nice change to the food I had been having and gave me a little boost. I was fairly focused on this leg and pretty much kept my head down and followed Bill and Simon, who kept talking to me and encouraging me along. I wasn’t the best conversationalist at this point but just listening to them gave me something to think about. I was just off the schedule times on the earlier peaks but didn’t lose much time. I suppose this was the first time I had really started to feel a bit of a hard spot, up the back of Rossett Pike and onto Bowfell it felt hard. As I got to the top of Bowfell though Bill told me that I had made about 4 mins on the ascent, I said “good because it felt like I was trying!”

Approaching the summit of Scafell Pike

The highest point on my BG, Scafell Pike

This was just the news I needed and it spurred me on, over Esk Pike and Great End I gained more time and then after we had ticked Ill Crag and Broad Crag I made up a bit of time climbing Scafell Pike. This was the first time I can remember seeing other people, loads of three peakers and a couple of rangers. To my relief I could see Steve on Broad Stand with the ropes in place, I gave him a wave and he shouted “Karl?”, “yes hello Steve” I shouted. I got to the bottom and I was offered a belay but I said I would be okay with the hand line. I was soon up and over the difficulties and could hardly believe how quick it was, I was now on the scramble to the top with Bill close by, we made the top 7 mins quicker than the schedule.

Approaching Broad Stand

Nearing the top of Scafell

I had turned round as I reached Broad Stand to look for Simon, I hadn’t heard from him for a bit, but he was nowhere to be seen. He had stopped to put something in his bag but we had gone from sight, I felt bad but we couldn't wait I had to get down to Wasdale. We ran down the path then picked up the trod to the crags and straight down the scree, we were flying and I felt great, we had made up nearly half an hour and it gave me a great sense of confidence to carry on.

Again the road side crew were perfect everything was in place just as ordered, I had asked for sparkling mineral water at the road side stops, as a bit of a change from water. This prompted much ridiculing from Gem and Rick as to whether I required ice and a slice as well! It hit the spot at Wasdale though, I drank loads from the bottle, the heat of the sun was starting to rise and Gem and Rick had given extra water to my support team, I think Anthony was carrying about 4kgs of water plus his own, of which I think he sacrificed some to fit mine in. Gemma rubbed sun cream into my head and my shoulders as it was obvious it was going to be a scorcher. This is where I realised Gem must really love me, she took my shoes and socks off , put talc on my feet and then put new socks on. The minutes passed quickly and it was soon time to get back on my feet and on the way to Honister…………