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