Saturday, August 29, 2015

St Bega's Ultra 2015

crossing from Honister to Ennerdale

nervous start
Ah, St Bega! What a great event, what a fantastic day.  I've made so many running friends through this race and had such good times.  Back for my second year and with one eye on getting a decent time.  My running buddies Dean and Jonathan were both out with injuries so I was set to run on my own.  While it would have been great to run with a group, particularly to support Dean to bag his first ultra distance event, the prospect of running my own race excited me.  Last year we ran as a big group, apart from the infamous Stephen Brown nick off.  This was great fun but a little bit of me was frustrated at all the waiting around.  This year, much like the Scafell Marathon, I was confident I could cover the distance and fancied a try at going a bit faster.  My analysis of the 2014 race was that I spent a lot of time waiting for other people, either at the bottom of descents or at aid stations and I should be able to shave off considerable time by not having to wait around and not dawdling through aid stations.

serious business this ultra running
So to the race.  I met a very nervous Joanne, along with other friends, at the start.  We ran up the first hill together and then she told me to go on, wisely holding back her energy at this early stage.  I felt pretty good through the forest and over the fields towards Keswick.  I ran for a bit with David Barker and David Scott.  At this point, I thought I was probably going a bit fast and told the David's that I was not going to keep up with them and that I would hang back.  The run along the side of Derwent Water still felt a bit fast.  I was following two runners who kept surging ahead but then taking wrong turns so I was able to keep level with them.  I was in and out of the aid station at Rosthwaite fairly quick and then took the section up to Honister fairly steadily.  A few people overtook me at this stage.  The climb through the slate mine was expected to be tough and it was but I found it easier than those around me and overtook a few people on this section.  

crossing the high point
The run down to Ennerdale including the steep descent down the gill were both taking in my fell running strengths and I arrived in Ennerdale Valley feeling pretty good.  I overtook a few people along the next stretch to the Low Gillerthwaite aid station, only for one person, who introduced himself as David Logan, Facebook friend (yes lots of Davids) to come into the aid station after me and then leave before me.

The notoriously long Ennerdale Valley section seemed a bit shorter than usual today.  Another person overtaken on the road stage to Dent and then I finally caught up with David Logan on Bummers which again, I was expecting to be very difficult but it wasn't as bad as I thought.  Coming down from Dent and into the last aid station at Cleator, I was feeling pretty tired at this point and took some time to refill my water bottles, text my wife with an ETA and refuel with coke and other goodies.

last descent from Dent, SHUT UP LEGS!
The last four miles were difficult, the last section over the fields by the railway line (my least favourite section) seemed ok and went in quicker than expected.  I was overtaken by one person just as I got off the cycle track and then overtook one right at the very end.

My overall time was 7:40 for 36.5 miles.  About 20 minutes faster than 2014.  I enjoyed it a lot more.  I had struggled more in 2014, partly due to wrong shoe choice (Hokas).  My wife and kids, along with aussie grandparents/in-laws were there at the end.

When I compare with my 2014 time, I think I actually went faster between aid stations last year but spent more time stopped.  It could be that waiting for others allowed me to rest and go faster on the runnable sections?  I'm happy with my time, and despite not taking a massive amount off my time, I do think this years effort was a considerably better performance, but I think I could go a bit faster. Roll on 2016.

"I can see the beer tent"

waving at the family

Friday, August 28, 2015

Some Sale Fells (x4)

Sale Fell is the fell I visit the most.  I'm about a month behind with blogging and still want to use this blog as a record of all my ascents of the Wainwright fells so I have grouped a number of Sale Fell runs here.

29th July - trying out the latest trainers donated by Jonathan.  Inov8 Mudclaws 265

1st August was eventful.  I found a message which had been attached to a balloon and also freed a sheep that had its horns stuck in a fence.

the message.  I contacted her mum on Facebook to tell her I had found the balloon.

2nd August and we decided to conquer the other top on Sale Fell which has been created by the recent mass logging.  We called it Hardly Pike.

Finally, a little easy Sale Fell run as part of my taper for the St Bega's Ultra.  I'm without a camera at the moment so just the Strava link to post.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Couple of Lings

a rare picture of me and my wife - here we are posing at the top of Ling Fell

Grouping a few runs together because a) I'm behind with my blog and b) my camera/phone was broken for a bit so I couldn't take any pictures.  Following the unhappy events of the Ennerdale caper last week, I had a little easy solo run up Ling Fell.  It was nice to be out again but clear that I was still a bit tired.  The following week, a week before the St Bega Ultra, I still wanted to take it easy as I was in taper mode.  With my mum and dad staying over/babysitting, my wife and I managed to get out on the fells together, something we rarely do.  it was great.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ennerdale Valley to Ennerdale Tops

Looking into Ennerdale valley from the top of Pillar, about 10 miles in

Dean's last run! This was supposed to be a last long run before the St Bega Ultra.  Dean had been training for a while and gradually upping his mileage.  The plan was an easy paced run along the valley bottom then to climb up Black Sail Pass and come back along the fell tops on the southern side of the lake.

Pillar summit
Soon after we set off, Dean was talking of how he was changing his foot position as he felt like he was getting blisters.  I felt pretty tired considering we were going along the relatively flat valley.  We  carried on, thinking we just needed to warm up.  Just before starting the climb, we had a quick look around the Black Sail Hostel.  This has been fitted out brilliantly, lots of cool pictures and history of the valley.

We climbed steadily up to Pillar.  At this point, Dean was feeling sore in his knees and his response when I asked if he still wanted to do a planned minor extension of the route to Steeple and back told me that he just wanted to get back.  We carried on along the route.  This is a pretty good route for bad weather, low cloud etc, take a compass bearing off Pillar and then from Scoat Fell you can pretty much follow the wall all the way to the climb up Crag Fell.  We had pretty good conditions, I noticed I was still feeling tired and kept tripping up.  By the time we got to the climb up to Crag Fell, Dean was really struggling and had to walk the last descent.

The next day, I woke up with a stinking cold.  This explained my tiredness and clumsiness.  

Dean initially felt like his knees just needed a rest but as I write this (mid October) he's still not running more than a few miles.

cloudy crags

Dean pretending to be happy on the wall summit of Scoat Crag

Rocky Haycock summit

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ling Fell Lookout

Jonathan's cousin, Gerard had a round of the full North Western Fells planned.  We headed up Ling Fell, which would have been his second to last to look out for him coming over from the Whinlatter Fells and then run in the last few fells of Ling and Sale Fell with him.

I was a bit anxious coming up the front of Ling Fell, thinking that Gerard might have come a different way and bypassed us.

We hung around on the top for quite a while, running over to the other side of the fell to see if we could see him going up Sale Fell but there was no sight of him.

Eventually we got a call from Gerard's wife to say that he had stopped on the Coledale Fells.  I'm not sure of the exact story but I think he had a late start and didn't feel like running into darkness so chose a stopping point where he could get back to his car.

Once we established this, we headed off the back of the fell and took the grassy lonning all around the fell, coming back along the road.  Nice route and a good catch up although I think this is the run that established that Jonathan had a proper knee injury and he was going to have to seek advice.  Poor bugger.

Jonathan looking left and right for Gerard

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Yorkshire Three Peaks

my best shot of Pen y Ghent before my camera died

This was my birthday treat for this year, a go at the Yorkshire Three Peaks.  I was on holiday with the whole family nearby and Jonathan drove down to meet me.  It was heavily raining as we sat in the car ready to set off.  This rain was later to cause havoc with my, supposedly waterproof, phone so the pictures I have are limited to the ones taken before it died on the way down Pen y Ghent.

The route finding was pretty easy, even in the fog that had set in.  We chose a more direct route off Pen y Ghent and a direct ascent of Whernyside which I think is common.

Jonathan said he had sore knees beforehand and was clearly in pain on Ingleborough, making what would have been a nice long downhill descent protracted and painful.  He is still out of action as I write this at the end of September.

Overall, I really enjoyed the route.  There was much more flat in it that I had thought there would be.  The route is so well used that the paths are clear.  Interesting paving slab like stones that set some of the paths which must be due to the type of stone available to make the paths.  At some points, such as the summit of Pen y Ghent, it was like running along a pavement.  In other areas, the steps were set in quite a hazardous manner with lips on each step.  We also encountered bog and road and everything in between.

The top of Pen y Ghent, the only summit with photographic evidence and the paved path along the summit area.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Gavel, Blake and Burnbank

Great conditions

The Friday evening before I went to Yorkshire for a week with the family.  Great weather.  David was wanting to get out and was a bit concerned that I would shoot off without him but we took it steady and stuck together.

The route from Fangs Brown goes over the beautiful terrace path above Loweswater before climbing over rough ground to the fence junction and nearby summit of Gavel Fell.  From here it's a little run down before a steeper climb up to the summit of Blake Fell.  A nice run, if a bit muddy over to Burnbank Fell before picking up the grassy trod which heads North East before swinging around to the North and a steep descent back to the start track.

Seven and a half miles.  This is a great course which will be run many times.

I took my new Inov8 Mudclaws out.  I've pretty much destructed my first pair and it's a mark of their quality and my happiness with them that I have bought another pair.  They did rub a bit on the heel, just because they were new more than anything I think, so a plaster was needed on the climb to Gavel.

Before and after pictures on the right.

Blake Fell

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blake Fell

coming down the fenceline

the mountainbike descent looks good

top of Blake

Monday, August 3, 2015


A run with Jonathan along the green lonning then making our way up to the summit before an exploratory run through heather back to the gate.  No pics.