Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hardly AC Blake Fell

the gang on top of Sharp Knott about to tackle the last climb up to Blake Fell

Our Wednesday evening runs with Hardly AC continue to be a great success.  We had a run around Blake Fell and some great running ground in the West of Cumbria.  We definitely had the sense of racing the sunset tonight so head torches are going to be mandatory for the next run.

Nice to have a few new people turn up.  Hopefully, they enjoyed themselves and found a good balance between a challenge without it being intimidating.

Next week, we're looking at Whinlatter forest with the option of heading on to Lords Seat and some of those fells if the weather and will is good.

just setting off down the Cogra Moss track

first climb up from the tarn to the forest track

Blurry selfies

climbing up to Sharp Knott from the end of the track - Blake's Heaven Fellrace ground

top of Sharp Knott, the group reassemble

looking back on the climb up to Blake Fell

Blake Fell peeping through to Buttermere, Fleetwith Pike visible mid right behind the water.

about 6.5 miles

The run down from Blake Fell was great downhill running.  Two of the party had gone back the other way and we were a little concerned when we got back to the car park and they were not there.  A good chance to try out my head torch and we headed back up the track to see them coming towards us after a few minutes.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love my little running group.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Gosforth 10k 2014

right near the end, me in the yellow,  I had a bit of a speed spurt and was able to make up a few places

The Gosforth 10k is a local run seen as a fast course with many people heading there looking for a PB.  I've stayed away from road running and particularly trying to go fast for a while now as I've worked out that it aggravates my plantar fasciitis.

Jonathan was heading down to the race and I thought, why not.  We had done the SBU35 on the Saturday and this was the following Tuesday.  Jonathan and I agreed to have an easy run around but once we got going, we felt pretty good.  Our planned 9 minute miles turned into a 7 or so minute mile.  After a few miles, I told Jonathan it was a bit fast for me and dropped back with him surging on and coming in a good two minutes ahead of me.

It was a beautiful night and the course covers some gorgeous ground.  Towards the end, I had a bit of strength left and started to pick people off.  I was pleased not to be overtaken at the end apart from by one person who had a real sprint finish and came in just before me.

Considering the miles in my legs, the finish time of:


was very satisfactory.  Afterwards, we had a pint and hung out for a bit at the pub.  Good times.

Joss Naylor was there for the little award ceremony afterwards.  I didn't harass him.

Hardly AC infiltrating Cumberland AC at the start

photobombing Lucy's picture of her sister Rachel, who got a PB

game face

me and Jonathan sporting his and her inov8 jackets

Thursday, September 11, 2014

St Bega's Ultra 2014

at the finish with my girls

Up until recently, The St Bega Ultra (SBU35), a 35, actually 37, mile run from Dodd Wood to St Bees along the St Bega Way was going to be my longest run this year.  However, a little while ago, I won an entry to The Cumbria Way Ultra, a 73 mile run along The Cumbria Way.  The Cumbria Way was two weeks after the SBU35 which meant that the SBU35 would fit in well as my last long run.

Through the regular Hardly AC runs, I had managed to persuade a few of the regulars to sign up and we agreed to run as a group with an aim of finishing rather than racing.  This suited my needs well.  All was looking good.

The race HQ is at St Bees School, a pretty famous private school.  Once we were signed up and had our kit checked we were put on coaches and taken to the start in Dodd Wood on the side of Bassenthwaite Lake.  The start of races, or the time just before the start of races, is usually a nervous time but I was quite relaxed, looking forward to a good day out with friends.

Lucy, Rachel and I pre-race

Stephen (There's no I in TEAM) Brown

There was a bit of nervous chatter on the bus and it's quite a long bus journey which did make you realise the distance we were about to cover.  Immediately off the bus there was a queue for the toilets and then we walked up to the start point.

The race starts with a gentle climb up along the forest track before dropping off to the right and then steeply down through the woods to the road.  There is a short road section before crossing the flat farmland at the south of Bassenthwaite Lake to get to Portinscale.  As you cross these fields, you can see the Lakeland fells in front.  Beautiful.

crossing towards the fells

The route then goes along the side of Derwentwater to Rosthwaite.  This is familiar ground, having been on similar routes on recent runs including the Scafel Pike Marathon.  So far, we had been taking it pretty easy, sticking together as a group, waiting for people who wanted to go a bit slower.  The route around Derwentwater and along to Rosthwaite is nice running ground.  I knew it would get harder after the checkpoint at Rosthwaite so was happy to chat away.

trail selfies - me and Lucy heading along the edge of Derwentwater

the rest of the gang

We continued on, but as we were going into the woods where Dalton's Cave is, one of the gang ran off ahead.  I am not going to dwell on his actions, suffice to say that he broke the golden bond of running friendship, something deeper than blood and that bond can never be repaired.  There were a few terse words among the rest of the Hardly clan.  As we got to the checkpoint at Rosthwaite, we saw the traitor on his way out  "See ya later" he shouted sheepishly over his shoulder as he nicked off.

Shortly after Rosthwaite, the course gets much more difficult.  There is a steep grassy climb which also marks the start of the long climb over Honister to the steep descent down Loft Beck.

steep climb up at the start of the climb to Honister Slate Mine

continuing over the Slate Mine and then over the fells to Ennerdale

fake happiness for the camera


looking back to the rest of the gang, crossing the open fell

Rachel manages to get across the river

It also started to rain as we headed over Honister.  This is the highest and most exposed part of the run.  The descent down Loft Beck was also going to be more difficult in wet conditions.  Jackets on and we forged ahead.  We met Hardly AC member Phil on top of Honister and posed for a few pics before carrying on to that descent down Loft Beck.  I had chosen to wear Hokas.  I was to find out that this was not the best choice but they were surprisingly good for grip and I got down to Ennerdale without difficulty.  I waited at the bottom for the others and then we pushed on to Black Sail Hut.  After this, the terrain becomes very different.  It's a forest track, undulating but runnable.  The track is actually really hard on the feet though with large stones which can be felt through your shoes as you run along.  The cushioning of my Hokas really worked here.  On the recce, I had wore Speedcross 3 which hurt quite a bit.

We pushed the pace on here.  Lucy is a racer and I could tell she was finding it hard to hold back.  We did some fast miles but we were still stopping to wait for the whole team, well almost the whole team - one had already nicked off, if you remember...

Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre, about 22 miles in, was the location of the second aid station.  I took my shoes off here to try to apply some plasters over hotspots on my feet.  My feet were far too wet for the plasters to stick and I didn't want to hang around too long so I put my shoes back on and we set off.

The rest of the run along Ennerdale went in quite quickly despite me remembering it as one of the long sections of the course.  Before long we were running around the bottom end of the lake, peeling off onto the track to Dent.

Hardly Train rolls on


After a bit of road, which involved walking up the hills, we dropped down to the track to Dent.  The top of Dent is a nice marker, you can see over to the coast and St Bees and you know you are on the last stretch.

Jonathan dropping down to the track towards Dent.

Before you get up Dent though, you have the steep climb known as "bummers".  It's a steep climb with switchbacks, tough at the best of times but when it comes at 30 miles into a run, it's not fun.  This is the point that Lucy surged ahead to try to catch up with you know who.

Dent towards the sea

There is a nice descent off Dent, leading down to forest tracks and into the village of Cleator and the last aid station.  We stocked up on food and drink and waited for the rest of the party.  The people at the aid station told us that Lucy and the person who nicked off, who I am not going to go on about, were at the aid station at the same time, they had only been there a few minutes before us apparently.

From the aid station, the course goes along the cycle track and then over a few fields to the finish back at the school.  We took it easy on this stretch, running but going slowly.

As we got to the edge of the school fields, we heard an air horn, then ran down the grass bank and along to the end.  Very happy to have finished.  My family were waiting for me and I got some pictures with them, then I had a pint, then a smoothie, then I went home for a bath.

"we've done it mate!"

"Fx@k Yeah!"

"Cheers"  If you look at the top right, you can see Hannah and Fiona in this picture.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Borrowdale Trail with Hardly AC

paused for breath at 1st Gate? 2nd Gate? I get mixed up with Strava segments

Interesting route last week.  An eight mile loop covering part of the start and part of the end of the Scafell Trail Marathon.  We started at Rosthwaite and climbed over to Watendlath, taking the track down into the woods and then steep descent down to the road.  Across the road and up to the Derwent Water duck boards where we ran across to meet up with the Cumbria Way path.  We then went back through the woods to Rosthwaite.  The route was about 8 miles all in.  A pretty easy pace as a few of us were feeling a bit tired after the St Bega Ultra at the weekend.  This is a great route with a bit of everything.  A lovely evening.  It started to get a bit dark towards the end so we will need to start bringing headtorches for future runs.

Jonathan and Rachel climbing up towards Watendllath.

healthy turnout, new people coming along all the time

nice, medium technical, single track from Watendlath through the woods

trail selfies - come on team!

getting dark, this picture lightened up with contrast.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hardly AC - Dodd

summit of Dodd

Last week's Hardly AC run was on favourite training ground of Dodd Wood.  It started with a continuous climb for a mile up to the area called Long Doors.  Stephen lead the way and I just managed to hang on his shoulder for the mile before walking the very last bit.  Everyone made it up, it's great to see some of the new fell/trail runners getting into the hill climbs.  From here we turned off towards Dodd summit.  I thought about trying to run to the top but I think I had burnt my matches on the initial climb so was reduced to a walk on the final steep bit.  After the usual dorking around on top, we took the path back down to Long Doors, turning to the right at the end coming around the south side of the fell.  We picked up the St Bega Ultra track through the woods (although we did miss out a bit of it further on) down the road.  We ran along the road back towards the start, picking up a forest track (not the one I thought it was but turned out ok) which took us up and around The Calvert Trust and on to the car park.  One last tiny bit of trail and back to the car.  A great little route, 5.5 miles.  Some good speed work and hill training on different terrain than our usual runs.

Jonathan on the long climb up to Long Doors.  Bassenthwaite Lake behind


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hardly AC - Low Fell and Fellbarrow

Alastair, Howard, me and Pete on Low Fell

Pete took the reigns for last weeks Hardly AC run, taking us up Low Fell and on to Fellbarrow.  I would normally go up from Loweswater so it was really cool to come a different, and much better way.  I neglected to take any photos on the way around so thanks to David Barker for letting me use his snaps.

We parked up at Thackthwaite and followed the footpath onto the fell.  A nice grassy pull up after the initially rocky path.  The track contours around and is really nice running ground.  A few cheeky but short climbs on the top and then we headed over looking for the summit.  There is a bit of confusion about which of the two possible points is the summit.  I think Wainwright considered the southern most point the summit but the highest point is before that, both marked by cairns.  We visited both on this run.

From the top, we started back the same way and then headed off up the fence line to Fellbarrow.  From here, back down the hill and a variety of choices to regain the start path.

Beautiful views from Low Fell (usually)

Pete and Howard looking over Loweswater

Pete leading the train up Fellbarrow

Sale Fell by Night

With some money I got for my birthday, I treated myself to a Petzl Nao headtorch.  This is pretty much the top trail running headtorch and I thought that, as I spend a lot of time on the fells, and as I want to carry on running on the fells through the winter, it was a worthwhile purchase.  Jonathan also got one.  We decided on a night time run around the familiar Sale Fell.

It's safe to say that we were mightily impressed with the headtorch's performance.  Unfortunately, my photography skills are not at the level where I can capture how the night was illuminated.  At best, it might show you how dark it was up there.

just setting off - the reactive lighting means that if you have a running friend who lacks trail etiquette and consistently shines his headtorch in your face, despite you telling him numerous times how annoying it is, the headtorch automatically dims due to your own headtorch shining back.


seeing stars and lightbeams

top of Sale Fell