Sunday, 17 May 2015

8 days in May

With a concentration of races not seen for myself since 2011, early May threw up some events that were too good to miss.

Sun 10 May: Great Manchester 10k - 39:06
the aim of the game here was to break the 40 minute barrier, a time that had been eluding and annoying me for a couple of years. I can't say I enjoy runs like this, I acknowledge the skill required to run well on the flat but give me some hills, variation and route choice any day! Managed to get my head down and meet the required time. I was not completely wasted by the end of the race, it seems funny to say, but I couldn't have run any quicker - I think I've found my natural limit, or at least the limit I could get to without hours of mindless running on the flat. Hats off to those that can go quicker.

Wed 12 May: Shining Tor fell race - 6.18 miles ~1,400'
Never the same route twice for this one apparently but a good jaunt anyway. I was chatting to a mate for the first couple of miles before kicking into a decent trot - the strava flyby makes for interesting viewing and you can see me pulling up through the field! Managed 46 / 128 so happy with that; I might have made a few more places by racing all the way, but enjoying myself and talking to a mate got in the way! Called in on the way home to pick up some fish and chips for me and mrs TOR.

Thu 13 May: PFR Man vs Bike - 5.9 miles ~1,500'

The prospect of doing essentially the same race 2 days on the trot made me think I might either injure myself or have a poor run, but in the end it was a great night, just a bit chillier this evening. Anyway, onto the event:
Man gets 5 minute head start. Bikers weren't happy that Edale Road had been resurfaced with un-cyclable pebbles, with the result that I didn't see any bikes catching us up on the way round. It's normally a good tussle, even if results tend to be dominated by runners, so it was a shame things panned out that way. Managed 3rd overall which I was happy with - trust me to place in the only race where there's no prizes!

Sat 16 May: Mount Famine fell race - 5.1 miles ~1,800'
Short (ish) and sharp (very). Not sure how I managed to do Bollington Three Peaks after this one 4 years ago! Managed to get 31/115 so very happy with that. Had a couple of good battles on the way round. The comparison with my results from 2011 shows how steep a learning curve it's been. A great race.

Sun 17 May: Lantern Pike Dash fell race - 1.2 miles ~630'

There is something quite intimidating about Lantern Pike when you're stood at the foot of it! This would be the first time I'd attacked my favourite hill this way, on the back of 4 races it promised to be pretty painful...

Monday, 27 April 2015

Fellsman 2015 - DNF

A big fat DNF - after taking a wrong line off Ingleborough which meant I had to go back up again, I was with another lad and we were battling our way up from the back of the field. But like others, I found the weather on the ridge between Gragareth and Great Coum too much, coming down into Dent all I had left were a couple of dry base layers, my coat and gloves were wet through and I couldn't feel my hands. I couldn't see myself lasting another 12 hours, especially if getting grouped at Fleet Moss as I was an hour behind, and having a 20 mile death march back to the end from there.

thanks for coming
I don't appear in any pictures as the photographer had packed up by the time I'd run past his spot!

I pulled out at Dent and got the body bus back, it was a hard decision to make but I'll live to fight another day.Looking at some of the people who I was around when I bailed, they finished in 20-24 hours - not my idea of a good day out!

Should have worn my heavier coat and put my waterproof longs on earlier, as the rain did eventually stop. I won't make those mistakes again!

Huge thanks to the organisers for laying on the bus, just one example of the behind the scenes work and hidden costs of an event like this. I'll be back for more next year! Well done to everyone who made it to the start line and to those who stuck it out to the end.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Herod Farm - a race in pictures

This was my 5th time running this race, I managed to run 2 minutes quicker than last year and 7 minutes faster than 2 years ago. They say there's a 3 year learning curve in fell running; perhaps this is proof!

Some of the pictures in this blog post come from Mossie Net Photography and a contribution was made for their reproduction. If you would like to contribute:

You can text donations:   Text NETS57 £1 to 70070 (The amounts you can text are: £1 £2 £3 £4 £5 or £10). Donations can also be made on their Just Giving page:

the race
UP (and my best David Moyes impression)

up and along

DOWN (no picture)

UP again



Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Calderdale Hike - 38 miles ~6,000'

A beast of a route - I was expecting this to be more like the Haworth Hobble underfoot - it's amazing what a difference a few miles in another direction can mean for running conditions; there was a lot of open fell and rough ground to negotiate.

This was more akin to a mini-Fellsman - like a 2/3 version for climb and distance. It was good prep for the Fellsman but harder than I'd anticipated. Stefan got me round again in 8h05 - I was pretty ruined at the end but a 28th / 75 placed finish shows why.

We pushed it nearly all the way round - the climb out of Mytholmroyd got the better of me - so I was happy with my performance. A nice jacket potato with chilli and some Longley Farm yogurt at the end were great.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Haworth Hobble 2015 - ~32miles ~4,800'

Second time round on this one, it seemed a bit quieter this year; there was to be no delayed start like we encountered in 2014 with its late flurry of registrants.

Once more we assembled on the High Street ready for the typical low-key start - we only knew the race had kicked off when the people in front of us started moving!

The front end of the race was typical of most of the race - gradual climbing, in the "should I be running this or fast walking it?" mould - the only major climbs stand out as the two stage ascent up Stoodley Pike, the climb out of Hebden Bridge and again up past Hardcastle Crags - but the 4,800' definately add up and let you know they are there. Opting for neither a run nor a walk - but a bimble - I cracked on.

The flagstones soon appear - after the initial climb out of Howarth - and good time can be made across the moorland. It's a shame they are too treacherous for you to be able to get your head up and appreciate the view. They seem to be just that critical few inches too short to match stride length, meaning every step must be carefully observed. Add in a pair of steamed up glasses for the ultimate run across God's own country.

We are soon down by the first reservoir: do you go left or right?!?!?...went right again, Nick Ham went left and popped out 10 seconds in front of us; that route follows a path whereas ours was along a metalled road that rose slightly... decisions decisions...

Route finding on this one is fairly straightforward; ironically the only complications come when entering civilisation, but with the size of the field and the conditions, it's generally ok. The check points this year were stocked with the obligatory broken biscuits, recurring were some exquisite chocolate orange mini cookies. I may not have paid close enough attention but the hot cross buns did not seem as ubiquitous this year. The whisky on offer below Stoodley Pike this year was Talisker, it does feel a bit 'Tough Mudder' but who gives a shit, Talisker is great tackle! Down the hatch with a biscuit accompaniment for a perfect start to a 600' climb.

I ran this race with my friend Stefan from Pennine, he's normally much quicker than me but to my good luck he was coming back from injury so was taking it 'easy'.... he dragged me round for a sub 6 hour finish... checkpoint discipline and constant graft were recurring themes!

top race.

Race notes: 
Kit worn: merino wool base layer, Pennine vest - warm at times, generally comfortable. Gloves went on for exposed sections.
Drink carried - 1 litre water. CP's generally did not have cups so little water drunk en route - ~0.5 litres when there were cups available
Caramel Snickers perked me up at mile 30 when I felt ready to fall asleep!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Lad's Leap fell race - 5.8 miles, ~1,600'

All pictures courtesy of Nick Ham

A short(ish) sharp race from Crowden - heading west with a steep uphill pull, flattening out over the tops then dropping down into a quarry with a long, just-about-runnable, run up to Lad's Leap, over the moors and back down again.

Mark Fermer tipped me off to keep something in the bank for that second climb up out of the quarry. I remember thinking I was going well, then realising we were only halfway and had I overdone it?

This was a proper fell race, the run over the tops is great and typical of the fells around Glossop - peaty, boggy and rough. I had a few good battles, one bloke blew past me on the homeward leg over the top, but I caught him on the descent as he was picking his way down the slope. My descending legs remembered to turn up for this one. Around 65 minutes so not an amazing time but I had a good run none the less. We are very lucky to have runs like this on our doorstep round here.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How tired are you?

A footballer from the wrong end of the M62 was interviewed on one of his most important goals – a last minute equaliser, scored from 30 yards. He said that he hit the ball ‘as hard as he could’ because ‘every bone in his body ached’; he didn’t want to lay the ball off and build up the play any further as he was too tired to run further towards the box. 

Two interesting points for me:

  1. Even the best performers get tired; they give their all to achieve top results (you would have thought he was able to cope with 90 minutes of football; this shows the difference between 'competing' and 'completing')
  2. Even when you are tired out, you can still perform to high levels – if your brain will let you