Sun?! Races?! The world is almost normal again…

Not being dramatic or anything but after today’s DIY venture I’m pretty sure I’m lucky not to have been killed by a collapsing ceiling after two years living in my house. Exactly how it was holding up the sheer volume of CRAP that came down is a mystery. I hope you’ll excuse me if today’s report is a bit of a copy and paste job – again, not being dramatic, but it’s going to take me approximately 8 years to clean up, so I’m going to have to start economising on time spent doing other tasks…

Paul Peters – Trafford Grand Prix

After achieving what I wanted at tatton half in April I decided to spend the summer working on some speed, and I’ve been flirting with track racing (even buying some track spikes). 

As my first race for Sale Harriers (cue gasps), I entered the 3k and 1500m for this meet, since there was about 2hrs between the races. The weather was sweltering all day, hitting about 23C for my 6:30 heat of the 3k. 

Not much to say on this race. I set off conservative and missed the split of the field. I couldn’t catch up with the front group without a huge surge that I didn’t want to risk, and I ended up running the next 5 laps leading the chase pack. With 400m to go, 2 lads went right past me, and I faded to finish in 9:18, a few seconds slower than the last attempt. 

Based on that, expectations were low coming into the 1500m. The race also got pushed back another 20mins to start the BMC races on time. The race started hot, coming through the first 400m in about 65s. The race splintered into 2 packs like the 3k, and while I was in the 2nd pack, fortunately this time I wasnt leading the chase. 

At about 800m the guy behind me came past and took the lead, and I latched on to also go past our pack leader. At about 1000m I went past the new leader and started a long run for home. I was going strong until 100m to go, when 2 people went past me. I let it happen, before realising I did have a kick left, and managed to take one of them back, finishing in a 1 second PB of 4:22.

The lesson to take was that I need to be a bit more adaptive, I settled into pace on the 1500m and didn’t realise I had an extra gear until too late. Who would’ve thought there was paces faster than 5k pace… 

(My friend filmed the race so when he sends it over I should be able to share it!) 

Nick Ham – Anytime South Pennine 24

I’d pencilled Sat 5th into my burgeoning running diary for an attempt at the South Pennine 24 anytime challenge. Taking place in February in normal years, I’d run it every year since its inception in 2016 and was thankful that South Pennine LDWA had kept it alive this year as an ‘anytime’, to be completed between 17 April and 14 August.

Dove Stone car park was already looking quite busy as I arrived at 07:45 in the bright sunshine. I got there reasonably early to avoid the heat of the day and to get a parking place. I only really succeeded in the latter because it was already feeling too warm for 6+ hours self-supported out on the hill.

I was off at 07:52 sharp. As I shuffled my way around the half circuit of the reservoir before the right turn and steep climb up onto the edge, I took in the brightly lit summertime views across the reservoir back towards the clubhouse and beyond and thought how nice they looked. Even if I had looked of a February while in proper race mode I don’t think I would have observed a vista so pleasing to the eye in the dim, winter haziness at that time of year.

Looking back across Dove Stone Reservoir.

To prove that we have done the route we have to answer 12 challenge questions from around the route. I was shuffling my way to Q2, whose answer would be found on the Fox Stone memorial, where a young couple of the ethnic majority persuasion asked me if there was an alternative way back down to Dove Stone Reservoir that avoided going back down the way they’d come up (they’d climbed the same way as I had). I suggested they continue the way I was going around the edge to Chew Reservoir dam then take the access road back down, to make a nice circuit. They said they were getting some practice in for a charity event they were going to do. I was ‘on the clock’ but didn’t care; I never pass up an opportunity for a bit of a chinwag. They were a nice couple, and hats off to them for putting in some effort and getting up there nice and early.

Cairn on Fox Stone.

I was well on my way to Chew Reservoir and glanced at my watch to see how far/how much time so far. Once again I was disgusted to see a normal time display with no recording taking place. I know it had been working because I checked after starting that it was showing the exercise display (same as at the Windmill 6 when it last played these silly games) and I’d heard it bleep. Polar – bug-infested bag of worms. With recording restarted one hour late I completed the climb to Chew Reservoir and negotiated the boggy no-man’s land to creep up on Laddow Rocks from behind. At the top of the descent towards Crowden I surveyed the vista down Crowden Great Brook towards Longdendale and thought what a beautiful planet we live on.

Crowden Great Brook down below.

Once through Crowden, across the main road and through the wood, there was a slight diversion for the SP24 down the northern side of Rhodeswood Reservoir. As I neared the other side of its dam I saw a group running up from the other side. They had to be Glossopdale Harriers out on a training run, I thought. Sure enough, five of the blighters hoved into view at the end of the dam. Many happy greetings were exchanged.

Glossopdale Harriers’ finest.

At the footpath right-turn to the banks of Vale House Reservoir I made way for a ‘proper’ runner who had caught me up. Judging by his lack of equipment he was obviously on a local training run and I didn’t want to block his passage with my walking interspersed with fleeting bursts of jogette. (I was much more comprehensively equipped for a long hot day out, with well-stocked rucksack with lashings of water and a peaked cap with curtain around the back to keep the sun off.) After Bottoms Reservoir I caught up with him as he walked home from his final out-and-back sprints. I felt another chinwag coming on:

“Finished your run for the day?”

“Yes, walking home now. Bit hot for it. How about you?”

“Oh, aiming for 24 miles. Heading back to Dove Stone Reservoir?”

“Really, where did you start?”

“Dove Stone Reservoir. It’s why I’m walking a bit.” I didn’t let on that I was walking a lot.

Cue sounds of incredulity over such long distance. Little did he know what I used to do once upon a time before I was side-lined. Oh wistful memories which still fill my dreams most nights.

On the climb out from Hollingworth I detected a, this time unavoidable bout of passage-blocking ahead. A donkey was being led up the path on her way back from a refreshing bath. She was stopping along the way to grab mouthfuls of grass. I asked the owner’s permission for some photos. The donkey loves her baths and the walks – such a picture of contentment.

Donkey walking back from her refreshing bath.

After the donkey.

On the homeward stretch, across Hollingworthall Moor and on the approach to the Swineshaw Reservoirs, two sheep were sheltering under the trees next to the stile I had to cross. I had to walk between them. They hardly moved. Keeping cool was higher on their agenda.

I continued my trudge up and over to Carrbrook feeling relatively free of time pressures, then the final climb above Mossley and Greenfield to Dove Stone. I arrived back at the sailing club 6hrs 22mins after I had left, feeling hot and used-up. This compares with previous times ranging from 4:58 in 2016 to 5:28 last year. I had drunk loads and eaten plenty enough to keep the fire burning within, but I was still dehydrated. It has taken a day to restore equilibrium.

The car park was choc full, with people milling about (some with portable barbecues – naughty naughty) and day-glo’d car park security personnel directing the traffic. On the drive out I saw that security were blocking off the access road to prevent people driving in unless others had driven out. Without them, the place would have been (even more) gridlocked.

All the photos I took are on Flickr here.

Chris Smith – Exmoor Race Report (Coastal Trail Series)

Chris: Exmoor Ultra (52km +3500m)

Ree: Exmoor Marathon (43k +2835m)

With no overseas travel this year, Ree and I booked a five day weekend on a farm down in Devon for the Exmoor race festival by Endurance Life. The weather was beautiful and although the wooded coastline was extraordinarily hilly, it created some dramatic scenery and stunning coastal landscapes that make long runs a pleasure.

It was my first ultra since August so I was a bit uncertain whether my legs would have the distance in them.. the cool morning sea mist got me some quick mileage early on, but burning sunshine across the middle of the day slowed progress and required a lot more water stashing at the aid stations. 

A double loop at the end of the race had me leave the other distance classes behind, but I managed to push through the last 10km, with help from a bagful of jelly babies and a cup of coca cola. 

Very happy with my 6th place finish but a lot of work to be done in the gym and on the hills before my next ultra in July.

Ree thoroughly enjoyed the scenery during the Marathon, finishing much quicker than expected. A close encounter with a field of baby goats being the highlight! 

It was also the last race outing for her Salomon Race pack which has covered 5000km at races all over the world, and is now held together by safety pins and has only 1 working zip.

We both chilled out back at the farm on our sun-deck with a glass of Prosecco plus some chips and dips. We also had the mandatory post-race pub lunch in the local village. 

John Pollard – Duddon Valley Fell Race and Coniston 10k Lakeland Trail

Thanks to human error(mine) I was down for consecutive races at the weekend, not relished by my achilles.

The ‘proper running’ would be done in the Duddon Valley on Saturday, as this is no picnic. My favourite valley with no lakes, but lush less imposing peaks that attract less crowds….Luckily, I had entered the short course, half the 19ml/6000’+ climb, though the organiser notes; “the long race is long, and the short is not short”. Nuff said!

I was going to be in good company as the 85yo ‘legend of the fells, Joss Naylor was lining up for the short course too. I know Joss but slightly but he’s such a sociable soul he’ll pretty much talk to anyone! He told me before the race he’d buy me a pint of Guinness at the Newfield if I beat him…and though Joss knows all the best lines, he’s not trying to beat anyone at his age, his poles and chaperones at the ready he shyly snuck in at the rear of the field (where I usually am on these Lakeland classics).

Half an hour before our start the full course runners were setting off from a field 15 mins away across the Duddon river, so I trotted after Robin Hoffman and Sarah Andrew there as this pair were testing their mettle on the climbs up Harter fell, Hardknott and others.

Filmed them jogging off, noticing a former GDH of this parish, the noted hare conservationist Carlos Bedson was by their side.

Both Robin and Sarah ran hard and completed in flying colours(orange and blue actually)…only they can tell you about their race, but Sarah in particular looked strong and fresh as she finished about 20 minutes ahead of her partner. And she thrashed ‘celebrity raconteur’ Dennis Fishwick from Chorley into the bargain!

I always find the fell climbs harder than the descents(I know that sounds a truism, but I mean relatively…the more ascent in a race the further back I’ll be)…our trek up the first climb out of Seathwaite sorted the 80 odd starters out and as it was one bit I hadn’t reccied I wasn’t sure how long this purgatory was going to last…banter was rife among the friendly group..”are we nearly there dad?” etc.

On the way over to the Coniston fells after a couple of CPs I found myself on the long climb up to Dow Crag summit via its grassy, western side….I won’t be doing that again, I’ll stick to Goat’s Water and the rock buttresses any day! It was a nice surprise to see two pals from Penistone runners up there and it gave me a boost, not that I was working 100%.

I had been following Lindsay Buck, who is known as the Wasdale wombler, as she goes up Scafell Pike litter collecting pretty much everyday…another legend. And she knew where the water was, as she ran off line to lay down by a hidden beck to sup up some H2O, as it was hot enough.

Behind me two female runners had been catching me on the approach to Dow Crag and I was sure they’d overtake me on the climb, but annoyingly they stayed about 25 metres behind me the whole way, having a good old catch up and chatting shit, while I gulped down large mouthfuls of oxygen! I’m not fully reconstructed yet so I said to the marshalls “these bloody women haven’t shut up once, they’re clearly not trying hard enough”. Anyway I escaped disqualification for this comment.

Now was the descent from Dow Crag down to cross Walna Scar road and I found I’d caught a trio of runners, including a chatty northern Irish girl, who clearly had no idea where she was going, but visibility was hardly an issue and she was good company, so for the first time in the run we chatted down to the track crossing. Of course because I wasn’t concentrating then, we took a slightly longer line down than was necessary and wasn’t quite on line as we hit the grassy trod to White Pike.

Now on a claggy day this is one line that’s easy to get wrong and end up unnecessarily climbing a couple of lumps called Pikes before finding a pathless, undulating line towards Caw, the final, and very fine, climb above Seathwaite and the finish.

I was now roughly in the company of the Irish girl (right chatterer her, remind you of anyone? 😉)… and another lass from Clayton le Moors, who knew her onions. We were all tying to find a comfortable scramble off White Pike, and that must have been when I inadvertently paused my watch and lost about 5 mins.

I knew the last pull up Caw was steep(it’s a gorgeous wee peak, very conspicuous in its position in the Duddon despite modest height)….so I girded my whatsits and dug in.

Bugger me, on the lower, trackless ascent along came the first of the long course elite leaders, a couple of mismatched guys, one young and short the other tall and greying…but they knew the best lines so I followed them(well, for about 50 metres).

Fabulous submitting at the final CP7 on Caw, now it was just halter skelter down to find the best line to the finish and avoid the rock outcrops.

I’d satisfyingly shaken off both the Irish patter and the other ladies and a bloke(who was speechless, or surly I don’t know)….but it wasn’t a glorious descent, as you should see the way these front runners career down the face of an 8%er….phenomenal!

I had a good drink in the field behind the pub and waited in the sunshine for Sarah, Robin and old Joss. Caught up with a handful of Pennine-ers among others.

All was well with the world.

Next day I had to go over to Coniston Hall to run the 10k trail, as I think this was a deferred entry of mine and tbh I like the razzmatazz and the t-shirt.

The trail was familiar to me and as we set off in groups of 6 I found one young guy accelerating ahead of me in the first 1/2 mile and thought….just enjoy it then, don’t get competitive.

But as the kms unfolded my legs felt ok and I found I was overtaking everyone in front of me at gradual intervals(obvsly after the staggered starts) and at the 6 mile mark I was under an hour…but they’d kindly measured a 6.5 mile 10k so there was a bit more to do.

Surprised to find I was 1st v60 but honest a lot of the runners were bordering on fun runners(fair play, and by no means all as there were about 250 I think).

So it was a cracking weekend in all.

Chris Webb – Ennerdale Horseshoe

The first champs race of the year (there was a hiatus, apparently something happened?!) and it’s in at the deep end with a ‘super-long‘ Lakeland Classic. I plug these races all the time but they really are the best races in the Lakes and Ennerdale is no exception. At ~22.5miles/7,500ft it’s not easy but it covers some beautiful and remote terrain and has a mix of runnable grassy sections (over 4miles of rolling descent after Iron Crag to the finish if your legs are still working) and glorious rocky scrambles (down climbing Joss’ gully off Kirk Fell, for example).

I set off at what felt like a conservative pace up Great Bourne (still probably too hard!) and the 300+ runners were already strung out as we headed along the ridge over Red Pike and High Stile with views of the Buttermere valley to your left and Ennerdale to your right. It’s pretty runnable along here and finishes with a cracker of a scree descent off High Crag. The legs were feeling okay but I knew the crux of the route was yet to come. I made good time up to Green Gable and round the traverse of Great Gable and started to pick off the casualties who were paying for their fast starts and the now hot sun as I climbed Kirk Fell. The slog up to Pillar was tough and I was feeling it, it’s been a while since I’d been at race pace for this long and I felt the odd twinge of cramp which a managed to fend off by backing off the pace. I channeled my inner Jens Voight and told my legs to “shut up!” and started the long, runnable section over Haycock, Iron Crag and Crag Fell to the end (don’t dare look up at this point, it looks miles away!) and the promise of a cold drink! The main man John Pollard cheered me up on the summit of Crag Fell, he’d chosen a top spot to spectate and snap a few pics….and then it was down to the finish, done in 4hrs38mins, 85th place (top 100 in a champs race feels respectable) and completely spent. It was 7mins ahead of my 4:45 prediction and I was happy with the time considering it was my first race in over a year. 

Sarah Andrew, Robin Hoffman and John Pollard were at Duddon last week (another of the Classics) and Sarah and Robin have entered Wasdale (now full) with me in a few weeks…for those who fancy a piece of the action entries are open for the Darren Holloway Buttermere Horseshoe at the end of July (https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?elid=Y&event_id=8413) which is another brilliant race and has a short version too. Three Shires is in September and Langdale in October too-give them a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Pic: John Pollard. Runner: Me looking like a complete tool.

Pete Wallroth – Dark/White Dark Peak Trail Run

Dark White Events made their long awaited return to their trail running events today with the Dark Peak Trail Run in Hayfield. 

Consisting of a long (25k) and a short (12k) route to choose from. I took on the long route taking in loop around Lantern Pike, Plainsteads, Rowarth, down to the SVT and then a loop up around Chinley Churn before a return to Hayfield. Rachel Boorer May completed the short route doing the Chinley churn loop. 

Dark/White already did staggered starts as part of their standard race format pre Covid so the actual race structure was no different to previously.

But what a day to be running on those light trails. 

The heat was unrelenting from the off and despite having run all the various parts of this course throughout our lockdowns, this at race pace and in heat was a tough ask. 

No sooner would you get teased by a cool breeze it would evaporate again and we’d be melting. 

A cheer on from Lucy and Greg Wasinski at the half way mark was very welcome before the longest single accent of the course from Birch Bale along the quarry road and around to Chinley Churn before a welcome gentler 6k back across and down to the finish. 

I’ve run longer races and rarely felt that grateful to see a finish-line or have I seen so many others looking completely wiped out. 

Haven’t heard how Rachel got on but from the results looks like she had a good race

Me: 25/107 – 2:33:40 (Long Course)

Rachel: 19/39 – 1:19:46 (Short Course)

Shame they weren’t able to have their usual fabulous array of post race cakes and snacks (Tiffin!! Oh the Tiffin!!!) but Covid needs must. 

A hot day out in Hayfield 🥵 

Monthly Mashup – Saturday 19th June

This month’s event is a ROAD SCORE COURSE.  The course will start at Howard Park (exact location TBC) and start times will be available between 11:00am and 12:30pm – you can indicate your preference on the sign-up form.

Allow me explain a little more about this event, which hopefully will inspire you to get involved, and remove any mystery about how it works.  It’s really quite simple, will be a tonne of fun, and there will be a prize for the winning team!

So, at the start/finish in Howard Park, you will be provided with a map.  You then have one hour to visit as many Controls as you can, and return to the start.  Each Control is a lamp post, which is located at the corresponding point on the map.  To score, all you need to do is note down the unique 4-6 digit lamp post number and move on to the next.  Each Control has a different value between 10 and 40 points.  Typically, the more awkward/further away they are, the higher the score. 

But be aware, you need to be back at the start within the magic 60 minutes.  For every 1 minute you are late, you will be penalised 10 points!!!

You will be provided with a map and a score sheet, listing the Control ID’s, what they score, their exact description (to allow you to ID the exact lamp post), and a space to note the unique lamp post number.

So grab a partner and get yourselves signed up:  https://forms.office.com/r/m9qznnLrkn  A fun run around Glossop with a difference, is guaranteed!

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