Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Hello, I'm back with two more races under the belt and with two less teeth (almost)

After the good run at Marlborough in early May we went to Montenegro for three weeks in the mountains. Unseasonally poor weather for the first half of the stay plus an exceptional amount of winter snow still on the ground rather restricted our activities. On the basis of all the informatio and advice we had gathered we did not take ice axes or crampons as we were assured snow would not be a significant problem by early June. A mistake. We were in good company, nobody we met was getting to summits or even, in most cases to the passes. I did get some hill runs in though, rather more than I expected, and later in the holiday some of it in temperatures of up to 30C in preparation for the Lake District in high summer! I also managed to sole one big summit right at the end. Bobotov Kok is the highest in the Durmitor range at 2500m+ The approach to the north side took me into a hugh bowl surrounded by high mountains and filled with snow. It is one of those situations that I really appreciate being by myself. I think what was at one time in the schools national curriculum as 'awe and wonder'. Anyway, from there it was straight up 250 metres of snow. Before starting I almost baled out for an alternative option but decided it looked doable. As with all these approaches to cols the snow got steeper as youi got closer to the top with the last few metres being almost vertical. There comes a stage on these routes when trekking poles become of absolutely no use (the angles are all wrong). This usually occurs at about the time that turning back also starts to look a bigger problem than going on. looking down I thought at least it looks loke a soft run out if I came off, very few rocks and no significant clifflets. Though sliding 250 metres (height) on snow in teeshirt and shorts was not something I relished. So it was kicking steps and digging in fingers (fairly soft snow by this time) and I crawled over the top. Imet a Montenegrin guy at the top who had come up the south side, he showed me in the summit log that he was just the third and I the fourth to get up this season. And mine was a first ascent this year of the north side so i was quite chuffed. I had already decided to go down the south side and now had the advantage of somebody who knew the way so it was a quick trip out. The road though was a long way from our tent but i luckly quickly thumbed a lift with a Slovakian couple who were heading to a lake 200 metres from where I was camped.

After that I decided that there was nothing left to do that wold live up to it so we headed for the coast and had a couple of pleasant days in Kotor and then the same in Herceg Novi.

Three Rounds of Shap

Notwithstanding that I had managed a few runs in Montenegro I was still a long way short of the mileage I needed before the Lakeland 100. So a couple of days after getting back it was up north for the 100km Three Rounds of Shap. I did not know too much about this event but I really enjoyed it. I spent the night before in the village hall with an excursion to the pub over the road to watch England -v- Algeria. This left me thinking that whatever kind of day I had it could not be any worse than what I had just seen.

It is a LDWA association event and had a much more relaxed and less competitive feel about it than most races with the added novelty / temptation that at the end of each of the first two rounds you pass back through race headquarters at the village hall. Plenty of food there plus the option of changing your mind and settling for one or two rings. I was met at the end of the first ring with the news that I had won first prize in the raffle. A large (about 3 feet long) photograph of the Lowther Valley including part of the race route. I never win raffles but I am quite pleased with this and it will go up on the wall when I get time. It was suggested that I might want to take it with me on the second and third rounds but I passed at that. I finished in a fairly modest time but at least I had run the distance and felt quite good at the end.

Osmotherley Phoenix

I felt now that I was back up to a reasonable level of fitness at last and was looking for a time around or better than my 6 hours 55 last year. The weather was quite good, if a little warm but after Montenegro that was not a problem. I started well enough and coming down to the first rad crossing after a couple of mles I heard a tremendous thump about 50 yards behind me. I turned and saw a youngish wman had gone down, obviously very heavily. There were plenty of people around her so I pressed on. I found at the end she had a double fractiure of the wrist and was the first hospital case of the day. Little did I know at this stage that I was to be the second.

Things continued pretty well for much of the rest of the race, I was running well at about last years pace, I did well with the route finding in the tricky bit at around 20 miles and though I was losing a little time on the pull up onto Black Hambledown it was still OK. Coming doen again was another story. On the good descending track I tripped. I normally fall quite well but this time I don't think i knew I had fallen until I hit the ground...with my chin. I knew it was bleeing and my teeth did not feel right but I got up and continued. Within yards it was obvious thatmy vision was blurred and I was not sure what to do until I realised that I had lost my glasses in the fall. So I had to re-trace my steps for a 100 yards or so and find them and the blurring was completely cured!

But I was obviously quite shaken and things became s struggle from then on. The shock brought on cramp (something to do with blood and oxygen being redirected to main organs at the expense of leg muscles etc. I think). I had another fall without further injury, the cramps got worse and I just about made it over the line. I felt, and probably looked, rather like the Italian in the 1908 London Olympics. But I did finish and was loaded into the St John's ambulance for treatment including oxygen to deal with reduced blood oxygen levels (again as a result of the shock I think). The race organisers were really excellent, looked after me in the village hall. Those of you who were in the event may have seen me at this stage with a very strange bandage around my head. They then took me to the hospital for 9 stitches in my chin from where my family picked me up.

It was a couple of days before I got to the emergency dentist (I was not at home so could not go to mine). They made some temporary repairs and I have just this morning seen my dentist who has confirmed that two broken teeth will have to come out next week.

This is getting rather long so I will comress the rest. The week after Osmotherely we had a week in the Lake District where I did a recce of the Lakeland 100 route plus fixing some garmin waymarks on what will be night sections in the race. For those running the 100 the section up Grassguards Gill was exceptionally boggy just over a week ago and I heard an item on the weather saying that since thenSeathwaite has had record levels of rainfall - you ight need to bring a snorkel! Then a second week with all the family (wife, all three children and their partners plus all 5 grand children)also in the Lake District (Keswick) staying at a great self catering place that I strongly recommend - Greta Hall.

So, I am looking forward to the 100 this weekend, feeling reasonably confident that with the added incentive of being sponsored for my Nepal education and health project that this time I will make it. It is not too late to sponsor me if you want to.

Good luck to any readers who may be running in the 100 and to all of you, I will be posting again after the race but there may be a bit of a delay as I have a lot of work over the next couple of weeks - some more arrived in the post today that I was not expecting.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Two more under the belt

The fellsman
It seems an age since the Fellsman. Perhaps I have been trying to forget it. I have this feeling that annual fellsman outings are going to haunt my future running activities as both this year's and last's were tending towards the disasterous.
I went into it having shaken off the cold and the injury problems that had dogged me on and off since the start of February but conscious that I was probably still some way short of fit (but hoping that I was not). The ascent of Ingleborough soon gave the answer to this. I was slow, about 5 minutes slower than last year. This set a pattern for the rest of the run. I was not too bad on the flat and downhill but I was struggling uphill. That said, I had set myself a modest schedule based on about 18 hours overall and I was pretty much on it as far as Stonehouse and feeling not too bad. But the long grind up the track and then up Great Knoutberry left me in no doubt that it was going to be a long slow haul to the finish. But, a good section after that - not too many hills for a fair way and I started to feel Ok again and I was still running. The route from Redshaws to Snaizeholme must be about the easiest for route finding on the whole course - Follow the fence - but the group some way ahead of us were lured away by the good track going straight ahead where the fence turns left. We were a group of 4 at this stage but despite our efforts we were unable to get them to hear us, though we did see some time later that they had realised their mistake.
Up over Dodd Fell and down to Fleet Moss without problems (it was here I had gone wrong last year not before Redshaws as I said in an earlier posting)and so to grouping. Before starting I had decided to take the long way round Fleet Moss to avoid the experience of last year but I was readily persuaded by the others to head straight across as everything had been so dry up to this point. And indeed it was a correct decision, completely unrecogniseable from last year and bouncing along on the top of the bog. In some respects we were not a well matched group. I was distinctly the slowest up the hills but wanting to push ahead on the flat and downhills. But still we got on well together and enjoyed the run.
Somehwre on this section, after it got dark, I tripped and fell. As I went down I thought its OK, I could see I was going to land on grass but then there was a very hard impact on my forehead. my first thoughts were 'I have hit a rock, what damage have I done'? But on checking it was only the impact of my light (which had hit the ground first)on my head. A few minutes later I noticed I had a nose bleed (more of this later).

No more problems until coming off Buckden Pike. We found the gate OK but then went on down much too far. I was a bit twitchy about it because I had checked the timing at the gate but one of the group had recce'd it and was confident (I have done the same myself so should have knowwn better). This resulted in a lot of extra height gain to climb back up to the Top Mere checkpoint. By this stage my legs were completely finished as soon as I came to any rise. Great Whernside was a real struggle and I only got up by virtue of the constant support of one of the group. Wish I could remember who was who but there names are in the results with the same time as me. Nothing of note after that we plodded gently on and even walked the leg down from Yarnbury so as to keep together. On the positive side it was about 45 minutes faster than last year - but only because not so much time was lost due to route errors!

Now , back to the nose. I found it a little odd that at all the checkpoints after the fall staff kept asking if i had had first aid for my nose - it was after all only a nose bleeed. It was the same story at the finish until I looked in the mirror to see quite a significant cut running down from the bridge of my nose. As far as I can work out, when my light hit the ground it pushed my glasses down my nose with the bridge of the glasses excavating quite a deep scoop as it went down. So a quick shower then first aid (who said it was the second such injury they had had) and off to a very much appreciated breakfast followed by sleep.

One year I will run a good Fellsman.

Marlborough Downs Challenge
A really good race this which many of the usual suspects from further north miss out on as it is so far away from home. And excellent weather also. For just a week after the Fellsman I had a good run last year and an even better one this. It was my first run for a long time when I felt throughout that I was doing OK. It is a relatively fast course, no really big hills but quite a few middling ones as it works its way up and down the Downs. I think the Fellsman had done some good for my legs and this, combined with the modest gradients, left me running nearly all the hills except the two short steep climbs near the start and the very last hill. I am sure there were odd bits in between but not many. So I just ran and ran, trying to keep a steady modest pace and largely succeeding. As usual I had a timing schedule but unusually this time found myself ahead of it for much of the way and just dropping of it due to a five minute route error (missed a turn by following the person in front). My wife has a relative near Swindon about 15 miles away from Marlborough so she had come down with me and we stayed there. An interesting stay in a self-built eco house and very enjoyable too, thank you for having us Lysana. It also meant I got some support and was supplied with a banana as I ran through the churchyard at Avebury. Didn't need anything else as there was plenty of water at the checkpoints. Eventually finished in 6 hours 5 minutes and 34 seconds about 17 minutes faster than last year but rather annoyed that I had lost the estimated 5 minutes due to the route error. Could I have got under 6 hours? And no excuses because we had a very detailed and accurate route description provided by the organisers. Still, 5 minutes plus over 6 hours is probably better than 30 seconds over! A quick meal and into the excellent showers and ready to get back to Lysana's. But before the start I had met up with a guy I had run part of the Wuthering Hike with. He came back in and said there was a woman outside looking for me to give me the O60 prize! A sure sign all the decent runners had stayed at home. My first age category win since I moved away from road to trail and a very nice oval ceramic plate it was as well.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I don't very often have colds but when I do it is usually a good one. This was no exception. After the IOM Marathon I started with a hacking cough and quite bad congestion that lasted through the week. A mixture of Boots Cough medicine and Strepsils did not seem to help much beyond letting me get a little bit os sleep. I did manage a brisk 4 mile run around the park on Thursday. I did not cough once during the run but had a severe coughing fit immediately after finishing and was coughing through the night again.
By the time the Calderdale came around on the Saturday it was a little better but not really right. But it was only a cough - I appeared to have no other symptoms. And on the positive side it looked like, and turned out to be, my first race in decent weather this year. Perhaps a little too warm for some but at the pace I was running at this was not too much of a problem.
I started out Ok on the long run down to and along the canal and the climb up to the second checkpoint was rathger better than the equivalent stage in the IOM last week.
Shortly after that I was in a bit of a quandery about the line to take. ast year I am sure the popular line was to go left just before Low Brown Knoll and this was what I had planned but the maps at the start suggested going over Low Brown Knoll and descending via Limers gate. SAs I approached the split point it was obvious 95% were going with the latter option, I decided to do the same but at the last moment changed my mind and headed down. There is not much in it for distance but the loweer route does involve less height gain, finishesz on a good track but there is a tussocky, pathless section in the middle. I don't think there is muc in it either way. On through Walshaw still feeling reasonably well though I susspecvt I was running fairly slowly. A minor route glitch on the decent to the Walshaw Road joining it too early but not too significant.
Last year I had cut down to pass to the left of Cant Clough Reservoir and was convinced this was the best line. I stuck with it this year and improved on it slightly by keeping between the wall and the reservoir, last year I had stayed on the other side of the wall which was a poorer path. I was starting to struggle from this stage on with my legs feeling the effects of the lack of training plus the occasional coughing fit. This was madew worse by losing the route just after the Long Causeway checkpoint. As i left the stile I took a line too far to the right and finished up on the margins of Sheddon Clough. I thought I recognised the line from last year so did not check the compass bearing. It took some time to extricate myself from this aqs I got tangled up with woods and fences so I lost a fair bit of time. I did though get things right at the approach to Holme Chapel where I had gone last year. I had toyed with the idea of heading north from the Long causeway checkpoint and straight down from Causeway House to Holme Chapel. With hindsight this would have probably saved me a good 15 minutes and a lot of energy.
From here on it was just a question of plodding on starting with the long walk up to Thievely Pike. Down then to the roadside checkpoint at Slate Pit Hill without incident and on to the track beyond. Along with those around me (who were all walkers from the earlier start I think)we got too far left on the approach to the trig point. This involved several ups and downs as we crossed various cloughs before correcting the line. But at least this time I got the line down from the trig point correct.
I was still running pretty well everything albeit at a modest pace and so it continued to Stoodley Pike which reduced me to a very slow walk. A bit of a diversion on this climb was the sight of three teenage girls coming down. They did not really have the footwear for it to the extent that one of them got down on her hands and knees and crawled down. So perhaps I was not doing too badly after all. At the Withens Clough Reservoir I was surprised to hear there were still 15 more runners out behind me (plus 17 of the early start walkers). I had been pretty sure I must have been very near the last so this cheered me up a bit. AQs I descended towards Cragg Vale I was very conscious that I had gone wrong hear last year. I had a very clear recollection of it, how I had gone wrong and what I had to do to get it right. When I got there it bore no resemblance to my memory of it to the extent that I am now sure I must have got it confused with another event (though I cannot sort out which)! As a result I lost the route again running north on the main road for half a mile or so before I realised the turn (clear in my memory) was not going to be there.It was only then that I checked the map and headed back to pick up the Calderdale Way. Even after that I managed to get it wrong and finished up going up High lane to emerge on the road just north of Bent Farm. But at least I knew where I was then and quickjly got back on route.
In addition to my watch telling me how slow I was going it became very obvious after the Shaw Lane checkpoint. I can remember from last year a very brisk run down the mainly downhill finish. This time round it was a much more sluggish affair. At around half a mile or so from the fin sih three or four 120/11 yrear olds decided to run along with me. I don't mind this sort of thing though I do wish they would do it when I was feeling a bit fresher. Anyway, it lasted rather less than 100 metres or so when one of them tripped and came a cropper. I paused just llong renough to establish he was OK and plodded home to some excellent food in a very modest 9 hours 13. 46 minutes slower than last year!
So,how has it been since? The coughing lasted through until Thursady but improving all the while. I did some middling distance runs on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then, over the weekend 29 miles on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. Very pleased with these latter two runs as I came out of them feeling OK. With the injuries behind me and the cold gone I should be able to get enough miles in to be ready for the Fellsman on 8 May. Though last year I failed to finish the Lakeland 100it is the Fellsman that I regard as my poorest performance of the year - by a big margin. Not helped by leaving my map at the Stonehouse checkpoint and subsequently getting very badly lost on the crossing from great Knoutberry to Redhouse. I reckon this cost me about 2 hours plus draining a lot of energy. It also meant I did all the bog sections in the dark plus my head torch was not up to the job. So all in all it should not be too difficult to improve on my embarrassingly slow 22 hours!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Last weekend was my first trip to the Isle of Man for 50 years. Last time I recall pulling out of Liverpool on the ferry in the late afternoon trying, not very successfully, to play 'Ferry Across the Mersey' on the harmonica. I think at the time a recent No.1 hit.

Well, times have changed, this time it was the evening flight from Blackpool. I had opted for this as, with an early booking, it was cheaper than the ferry and, on the Saturday after the race, I could get a flight back and avoid the cost of a second night in the hotel. I was very conscious that for the Hardmoor I had failed to organise a proper pre-race breakfast so this time I packed a tin each of peaches and rice pudding. Even before I set off though I started to fret about airline liquid regulations as I was only taking hand luggage. I had left behind the can opener on the basis that I would not get it through and I could borrow one from the hotel. In the event the cans were confiscated as a terrorist threat. Fortunately Manx2 provide a hospitaility lounge so I picked up 3x300 calory large biscuits for the morning and had some crumpets and jam. The hospitality lounge highlighted once again the inconsistencies of anti-terrorist policies. The rules include no cutlery or sharp objects (my wife had a pair of tweezers confiscated once) but in the lounge, with no further security, there was metal cutlery, a range of glass bottles plus drinks glasses including pints! Given the choice between being threatened by a broken glass/bottle or a pair of tweezers I think I know which i would go for.

Arrived in IOM early so had a longer wait for the bus but then no problems getting to the Falcon's Nest. They made up a breakfast tray for me that supplemented the biscuits and I had a good nights sleep - unusual for the night before a race - and a decent enough breakfast.

In the week running up to the event I had a sore throat and a cough for a few days but it had seemed to be clearing up. But the cough and sneezing came back on the bus over to the start. In the event I do not think it effected my running though it came back with a vengance aslmost immediately after I had finished.

I was with the early starters, a reflection not only of the fact that I anticipated a slow time but also I had to catch the 19.00 flight back to Blackpool. I reckoned I had to finish in around 9 1/4 hours to be able to catch the 17.38 bus and the check-in deadline. A number commented as we gathered at the start how pleasant it was looking and warmer than expected. We should have known better. I was off to a brisk start towards the front of the pack, a position I was able to comfortably maintain until we started to seriously climb. The effect of my lack of recent training due to injuries clearly showed itself then and I knew it was going to be a bit of a struggle. By the first summit at just under the hour I had moved from just off the front of the pack to just ahead of the back of the pack. John Vernon who I often use as a marker for my pace passed me shortly before the top and I never saw him again. He finished around half an hour ahead of me. I had worked out a schedule to get me there in the essential to catch the plane time of 9 1/4 hours. At Snaefell I was 17 minutes down on this and starting to worry. Possibly more by the time we got down. Two of us pioneered a route that clearly no others had done (no prints in the snow). Not too bad though so we probably did not drop much time. This was I think around the time the weather was at its worst, sleety snow and a fresh wind. It was also around this time that I realised I was running pretty freely down the hills. My ankles and knees were performing properly for the first time for many weeks - the best news of the day.

Other than struggling on the hills I felt ok. Also, no problems with the route other than some minor meandering on the ridge from Beinn-Y-Phott to Carraghyn. I think the course notes are a bit misleading here as you have to head west of south initially. I stuck to a compromise between the notes and what I saw on the map until I hit the Millenium Way about 50 metres East of the crest of the ridge where I corrected my line. Then it was straightforward to Injebreck. From here on I was progressively making up my lost time.

I followed the revised flagged route from there to the stream crossing and then headed straight up the hill towards Colden summit. Everybody else seemed to take a line much further left but as I looked across at them I was pretty sure the direct line was working out best and I made some ground on them. This was not the case in respect of the first of the 9.00 starters who whipped past me at this stage. I am not used to seeing the leaders at this stage of a race and it was reassuring to see that even they were not managing to fully run the hill. I had another minor hiccup at the Slieau Ruy checkpoint where I could not get my dibber to register. I realised later I was probably inserting it from the back of the reader.

After that it was just a question of keeping going as I felt my leg muscles tightening with every mile - again,I am sure down to the lack of training over recent weeks rather than the cold symptoms. No problems except that Bradda Cairn seemed a lot higher in the flesh than it had appeared on the map but all downhill from there. I had noticed over the last few miles that, despite the legs, I did not appear to be losing much ground. One or two of the 9.00 staters were still overhauling me as you would expect but I also was passing one or two. This included two after touching Bradda Tower though to be fair the first of these was talking on his mobile phone. I think in fact on the run in from the tower I went wrong, keeping too high and joining the road further out than I should. As I ran down I passed a sign for runners at a point where another track came in, I think this is where I should have joined the road. But to crown it all I did manage something of a sprint in the last 500 metres (I can always manage that downhill on the road) overtaking another runner about 200 metres from the finish. I came in at 9 hours 18 minutes so it was a quick change by the roadside, no time to sample the meal and off to catch my bus.

Though in Vasque points terms it was the worst of my three races this year I think on the whole I ran it rather better than the Hradmoor the previous week. At least I ran everything except for the steep hills.

From there on: the bus to the airport, the wait and then the flight, the drive back to Leeds where I was staying were all marked by the cold symptoms getting worse. Congestion and particularly a hacking cough. These have stayed with me ever since. Not getting a lot of sleep at night. They are today (Wednesday) beginning to ease at last so I hope I will be OK for the Calderdale on Saturday. I hope so because I would like to get in a reasonably decent time (by my standards at least) now that I appear to be free of injury. If not I can console myself that if the worst comes to the worst it has a pretty generous cut-off time! Due to my cold I have not done any running at all since the race and my legs did not feel up to it until this morning either. If I feel reasonably OK in the morning I might do a gentle 5 miles or so. If not, and I think this is more likely, I will not be running before the Calderdale.

After that I have to get some serious miles in before the Fellsman at the start of May. My early races last year were much better than this but the Fellsman was a real disaster. I cannot afford to be less well prepared than I was then. But at least this time I will be particularly careful not to lose my map half way round!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

It seems a long time ago now since the Hardmoors55 but I have not been home since the race and access to the computer at my son's house has been restricted by his work requirements. That is only partly the story though - for the best part of the week I had a sneaking suspicion that I had finished last but did not want to own up to it unless I had to. In fact when the results came through I can claim 39= out of 42 with two other determined soles plodding in behind us.

There are plenty of other accounts of the race and the weather so I won't dwell on general points but just aspects of my personal experience. For reasons that I cannot fully fathom myself I had made no arrangements for breakfast on the morning of the race. I knew we were far too early for a hotel breakfast and kept thinking about the options in the preceding few days but failed to take a decision. In the end I improvised with some hot cross buns that we had brought for the drive up the previous day.

I was still a bit anxious at the start about the niggling ankle injury, an occasional knee twinge and the lack of training that these had resulted in. In the end the knee and ankle performed OK though I was conscious of a weakness in the ankle throughout. The lack of training though did show from Osmotherly onwards.

I started in leggings and a windproof top over a short sleeve vest with a warmer top and waterproof in my pack. This worked out OK and I stuck with it until the Lyndale checkpoint when I switched to the warmer combination for the night section.

The run went OK to the first checkpoint though a little slower than planned. A long toilet stop on the leg to Osmotherley did not help but I was still going reasonably well. From there on I was still running but a fair few passed me (though I did pass the odd one also) From Osmotherley to Bloworth Crossing was the only section I knew - from two Lyke Wake Walks and an Osmotherley Phoenix. It was particularly annoying therefore to get lost approaching the Bloworth checkpoint. Just before the old railway line I caught up with Chris Peach who was consulting his map. We turned the right way along the line and then persuaded ourselves we were not on the railway but the track (I think I was mainly responsible for this). This could only mean we were too far south so we turned round, headed north and past the point where we had joined it. Shortly after this I realised we were in a cutting - generally tracks on moors do not have cuttings but railways do! So after a quick check on the compass we turned back south. Just before we did so we were joined, coming from even further north on the railway, by Nigel Braithwaite who had made exactly the same error as we had.

On a positive note it now meant we were a group of three running in miserable weather rather than three individuals in miserable weather. A great help. So we pressed on. I could not help noticing that even the slightest of uphill gradients was reducing us to a walk. I certainly felt I was the slowest of the three but perhaps the others did also. So, slowly on to Lyndale without seeing another soul, a brief respite, a warm and toilet stop and on our way. On our way back down from Rosebury Topping we passed Anne Green on her way up, I estimated about 25-30 minutes behind us. We saw nobody else so I assumed she was the last still running.. Then, just after the Highcliff Nab checkpoint we got lost again. We were looking for a path cutting up right from the one we were on through a break in the forest. But we came directly to the main forest track. We did not see the small path opposite so turned right, looking for a crossing path. Fairly soon it obviously did not fit the description so we headed back down again. I guess this cost us about 10 minutes so it was a surpise to see the light from Anne's torch bobbing up the path, she had made up a lot of time on us since Rosebury. She joined us at the point we had joined the main track anmd the path opposite was immediately obvious. Apart from a few brief stops to consult the notes there were no problems from here and we stuck together to the railway checkpoint. In fact Anne broke away from us about a 100 metres before, as soon as it came in sight. One of the marshals asked if one of us was Dick Scroop. I confirmed that I was and he told me that my wife was getting anxious at the finish. Perhaps not surprising as I had said I expected to be in at around 8.00 and it was now past 10.00. I told the others to press on at their own pace, Chris, who had always looked the fittest of us pressed ahead and disappeared, Nigel pulled a little way ahead but I caught him not far from the finish and we stayed together. As we approached the turn off from the railway I saw two figures who I guessed were marshals making sure nobody missed a turn at this late stage. As I got to them it was obvious it was a couple of local lads and a girl killing time. One said something to the effect of 'What's all this about, what are you doing?' I am not sure there is a sensible answer to this at 10.30 in the evening at the end of a wet day so I stuck with the purely factual - that it was a race from Helmsley to Guisborough and we were probably the last! I am not sure whether he believed me or if I would have believed it if I had been in his place.

Into the cricket club briefly to pick up my bag from the start and a drop bag. I sent my wife upstairs for these on the pretext that I could not go up in my muddy shoes but I really did not fancy the stairs. Then away to the hotel (The Three Fiddles which I would certainly stay at again) and my wife went out to buy pizza and chips for us both. The sleep.

I rested until Tuesday when I did an easy 5 miles followed by 12 on Wednesday. Thgis was a very sluggish, partly due to some extremely boggy ground in an area not familiar to me. Then due to other commitments no run on Thursday or Friday. Yesterday I sdet out with some trepidation to do 28 miles on a route that gave me options for cutting it short and avoided the boggy ground I had found on Wednesday. In most respects it went pretty well at an acceptable pace. But around half distance I had a couple of sharp twinges in the knee. A combination of a sudden weakness and a pain. I had more or less made my mind up to take the next short cut to the house when it went off and was fine for the remaining 15 miles or so. Went for a swim with the grand children today as an alternative to running and will take it very easy over the next week up to the Manx Mountain Marathon on Saturday. I don't expect it to be amongst the best of my races but after that and the Calderdale the following Saturday I can focus a bit more on sorting out the injuries and training rether than racing. But the next race after that, the Fellsman, was my worst of the year in 2009 so I have some serious training to do.

Must finish now to get the grand children into bed.

Dick S

Monday, 15 March 2010

Completely unrelated to the rest of my post I thought I would include a few pictures of the rice harvest in Jyamrung, Nepal.

The Wuthering hike, the first step towards my twin objectives for the year. The Vasque 12 plus using the Lakeland 100 to raise money for a range of projects in Jyamrung. Donations gratefully accepted, see previous post for contact details!

I enjoyed Martin Beales race report, it's nice to know what those up front are doing. But I would crib a bit at his description of it as a 'near perfect day'. It might have been for most of you but for those of us wearing glasses running those peaty paths sprinkled with small boulders in the cloud was a bit of a problem. I couldn't see with my glasses on (condensation) and I couldn't see with them off (that's why I wear them).

He was obviously way faster than me but I reckon I beat him for time over the last short stretch. As he did, as I emerged from the churchyard into the main street and hesitated as to whether to go right or left (I also vaguely remembered something being said at the start about plans to mark this last section?). A friendly local pointed across the road to a passageway almost directly opposite and said 'go down there, its a short cut'. And indeed it was, a few yards down a passageway, down a few steps and I was on the main road directly opposite the school gates. Not much use next year of course if we are back to the Community Centre.

And it did only partly make up for getting it wrong (again) at the road crossing in Hebble End. I found the cobbled lane and the steep steps but then lost it. I think I turned right too soon, finished up on a lower road, asked directions of a builder working on a house and got back to the the Heptenstall road by a route that seemed very reminiscent of last year but left me some way behind a group of 4 or 5 that I had swept past on the previous descent to the road. The only sweeping past I think I did all day.

Overall how was it? Well, my ankle and knee held up - just about, though I felt them all day. As soon as I started I knew my legs had not recovered from the (always mistaken) attempt in the penultimate week before the race to catch up on the training I had missed. Then, towards the end the lack of training due to the ankle injury began to take its toll. Overall the main problem was on the poorer paths from about two miles to around checkpoint 2. Not helped by the mist and conscious that though the ankle was holding up one badly placed foot could finish it. That's my excuse anyway. Plus one trip/fall - I always seem to manage one and always on a relatively easy section of track. And one extended toilet stop, a frequent feature of my races - I did try Immodium for a period but it did not seem to make any difference. I had hoped for about 6 1/4 hours and finished a few seconds over 7 hours. Better than last year when with a worse ankle injury I hobbled in in 7 hours 52. Reasonably satisfied in the circumstances.

So, now it is the Hardmoor 55 (or 54 as it now is due to a last minute route change). My knee is fine now and the ankle at least as good as it was at this time last week. I did two runs of 5 and 4 miles on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, this week I will do nothing so I hope it will be fully recovered. I have done significant sections of the Hardmoor route before (Lyke Wake and Osmotherley Phoenix) and recall the paths as being pretty good. I understand from others that the same is true of the rest of the route. So, I am looking forward to it. The weather forecast for Saturday, rain and a fresh easterly wind, is not too good at the moment but perhaps it will change. And at least an easterly wind will give us a push start.

Good luck to all those running nexct week.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Will it be the Wuthering Hike or the Haworth Hobble?

I set off on the Wuthering Hike last year having persuaded myself that my sprained ankle was fully recovered and that the limp was a figment of my wife's imagination. I managed to remain convinced of this until we left the road onto the stony/bouldery path a mile or so into the race. At this point I realised it was going to be very much a case of the Haworth Hobble rather than a Wuthering Hike but as I had set myself the target of completing the full series I plodded on to finish in not very much under 8 hours.

I picked up a similar injury about a month or so ago running on snow/ice. I had 9 days off, started running again last Tuesday, did two long runs at the weekend and 5 miles today. I can still feel the ankle slightly but my wife has not said anything about a limp so I think I am OK. We will see. I am hoping for better things.

If you do not already know me you will be able to recognise me by the one and only 2009 Grand Slam top with the 100 miles crossed out (as I did not finish it).

For those of you interested in my Nepal fund raising I will have to find a way of getting my sponsor sheet onto this blog. Until then you can email me at dickscroop.talktalk.net for further info or visit the websites in the blog below. The only little bit of news I have about developments in Jyamrung is that they are now moving away from favouring the solar panel solution for getting an electricity supply to linking into the Nepal grid. This will involve laying their own cable to connect with the grid some miles away and providing a transformer in the village. It ties in with another project which is building an 'agricultural road' (unsufaced track) which will facilitate the power line building and also give access to markets for crops and be a first step away from subsistance farming. No final decision taken yet as a report from the Swedish firm advising on this is still awaited.

I might post again next week if I have anything to say about the Wuthering Hike etc.

Good luck to all others who are running it.