Robs Ill Fated Paddy Buckley Round

Even before I had completed my Bob Graham Round last year I had decided that my next big challenge was going to be a Paddy Buckley Round. It is similar in terms of ascent and distance but widely considered much tougher because of the roughness of the terrain and lack of trods/footpaths.
 
Given the reccying I had done I definitely agreed with this and knew that it was going to be a challenge to complete in under 24 hours which was my goal and my schedule. I hadn’t done as much training as I did for my BGR last year and had a few annoying niggles which I hadn’t been able to shift, mainly a sore left glute and right angle which I’d twisted about 6 times during my training. I hadn’t been feeling well in myself either and considered cancelling the attempt a number of times.
 
In the last month however I managed to get a decent block of training and avoid any more setbacks so felt confident I’d be able to give it a decent shot.
 
The Paddy is more relaxed than the BGR – although most people aim for sub 24 hours there is no time limit and you can start anywhere you want (the route is naturally broken down into 5 legs delimited by road crossings).
 
I had decided to start at 11am from Capel Curig for a number of reasons. Firstly, it meant I could travel to Wales the previous day (a journey which took 8 hours because of heavy traffic and congestion) and have a relaxing morning before setting off. Secondly it meant that the section I would be doing in the dark was the Snowdon section which is one of the easier legs to navigate.
 
The forecast wasn’t good. For the past couple of months, we’d had an unprecedented heatwave with some of the driest conditions I’ve seen on the fells but that was set to change with thunderstorms and gale force winds predicted. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of being able to pick another date so I decided to go ahead and take it as it came.
 
During the Friday night I didn’t get that much sleep mostly because of the howling wind and rain outside the bunkhouse but when I got up around 8-30 it had stopped raining and I could see the top of Moel Siabod – the first peak which lifted my spirits.
 

Breakfast in the village café and I was ready for the off on the first leg with Jon and Danny. The first climb is the biggest of the round but it’s not too steep and on a good path for most of the way. I made good progress and was 10 mins up by the time we reached the top.

 
We were now however in the full force of the wind and we were getting blown sideways on the grassy descent. At one point Jon and Danny ran in front of me to try and shelter me from the worst of it.
 
The next part of the leg is very bland – there’s not any big climbs but there’s a lot of rough undulating ground (think trudging through knee deep heather, bogs and occasional rockiness). It’s particularly miserable in mist which it had been on all of my reccies but luckily today it was clear.
 
It also has some tricky navigation – there are a number of tops which are nothing more than rocky outcrops, some aren’t even named. We got a few lines wrong on this part but nothing drastic and by the time we reached the quarries at just over half way point in the leg I was bang on schedule after taking a quick break.

 
The 2nd half of the leg over the Molewyns is much more enjoyable – there’s some good running & climbing and some fantastic views. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated at this point. The wind had never dropped but is started raining too so was hitting us horizontally & stinging my face even through my hood.

 
The rain stopped by the time we got to the final climb of the leg, Cnicht. Although not as big a climb as Moel Siabod its tougher as its much steeper and rougher – there’s no path so it’s a case of making a beeline to just off the top (not straight to the top as there’s some big cliffs you definitely don’t want to end up on) through thick vegetation & occasional scree. Jon commented that I was climbing well and I was feeling good at this point
 
When we got to the top it was like stepping into a different world. Behind us there were some evil looking black clouds and mist but in front the view opened up over towards Snowdon and the Nantille ridge which were completely clear basking in brilliant sunshine under a blue cloud free sky.
 
This was the direction I was heading so I was encouraged and looking forward to the next section. Once the initial steep rocky descent from the top is negotiated it’s a really nice run in to the end of the leg. I was feeling really good and Paul & Fred joined me on the final road section to run in together to the changeover in the National Trust car park at Nantmoor.
 
I was around 15 minutes down on schedule and I realised that making it round in under 24 hours was going to be a real challenge as I was hoping to make some time on this leg.
 
Catherine had everything setup for me, I ate a tin of cold beans & sausages, some Lucozade and then I was ready for the next leg with Jim and Gemma.

 
We didn’t get a very good line up the first climb on the next section up to Bryn Banog ending up in boggy ground & reeds but once we got past that made good progress up to the highest point on the leg Moel Hebog. After this I had a bit of a wobble so stopped for 5 minutes to rest and eat a cheese sandwich whilst trying to guess what pasties Paul had bought at Greggs on the way across.

 
That sorted me out and I started to feel better again – the sun was still shining, the wind dropped and the next few miles were really enjoyable.

 
As we climbed up Trum Y Ddysgl and the Nantille Range it started to get dark so it was headtorch time. The ridge is very narrow in places with some steep drops so we had to be careful in the dark, especially on the last part where it was very rocky and involves a fair amount of down climbing and use of your hands.
 
We reached Y Garn, the final peak of the leg, and then tackled the steep grassy descent and final run off through the forest to the checkpoint at Pont Cae Gors.
 
Jim was eager to get away asap as he had agreed to run the last leg with me too (Fred was concerned about a knee injury he’d picked up and unfortunately Francis who was also down to run the leg had to pull out).
 
I shovelled down a big bowl of pasta and then it was time for the off with Iain on the next leg.
 
I had only reccied the first half of the next section once and never in the dark but I wasn’t too concerned as you can follow a wall for much of the way and apart from the first climb which is on open fell there are some good paths.
 
The first few hours went without incident apart from Iain falling off a wall and losing my compass (luckily Iain had brought one too).
 
As we started the big climb up Snowdon it started to rain but it was pretty light and calm and I was  warm enough so I didn’t put on any more layers or my waterproof trousers – a decision I’d later regret.
 
As we got closer to the top the rain became heavier, the clag closed in and the wind also significantly increased. It was quite a battle to stay on my feet to touch the summit cairn, especially given how greasy the rocks and paths were.
 
From the top of Snowdon we traversed round to the outlier of Crib-y-Ddysgl. Ian wanted me to lead the way as he hadn’t reccied that part but I was finding it difficult to see the ground in front of me as Iains head torch was casting my shadow in front of me and obscuring my view. I realised the batteries were fading in my headtorch and it was at this point I started to get really cold. I knew that I needed to put on more layers and change the batteries in my headtorch but I really didn’t want to stop – I knew that as soon as I did that I would get cold very quickly and there was no shelter anywhere.
 
I had already taken a bearing and we traversed down over the Llanberis path & railway line & picked up the Ranger path. I’ve been down this path a good few times before – it’s normally good running and I thought I’d be able to generate enough body heat to keep going, lose some height and then stop when we had got a bit further down in some shelter.
 
Unfortunately, a well trodden path that is easy to follow in good daylight conditions is not so easy to follow in darkness and mist when visibility is down to a few feet. My headtorch was barely casting enough light for me to see the path in from so I wasn’t making as fast progress as I’d liked, especially as the wind was doing its best job to blow us back up the mountain.
 
The path led onto a rocky plateau and we lost it, ending up on a rocky patch ground which reduced our progress to a stumbling walk.
 
It was at this point I couldn’t delay any longer –  I had to stop and sort myself out before I became hypothermic. I told Iain to give me my waterproof trousers, thermal buff, fleece and thick gloves and asked him to try and change the batteries in my headtorch.
 
It was quite a battle getting everything on in the driving wind and rain and my dry clothes ended up getting wet in the process. I was fairly certain the path was too our left but I didn’t want to take the chance to bearing that way to try and find it in case I was wrong and ended up going further off route.
 
I had my phone with OS mapping software on which I was carrying as a backup and I got it out to see if I could pinpoint our location. Unfortunately, my hands were so wet and cold I couldn’t even unlock the screen and Iain couldn’t either. A timely reminder that whilst technology can be a useful aid in the fells it should never be solely relied on and there is no substitute for a map,compass and good mountain skills.
 
At this point I was shaking quite badly with the cold and I think I was scaring Iain who was still trying to change the batteries on my headtorch. I told him to just leave it as I knew I had to get moving again – he tried to put it back on my head but unfortunately it snapped in the process.
 
It was quite a scary few minutes but I had to keep telling myself to keep calm and not panic. I was freezing cold and we had lost the path but I wasn’t injured and moving ok and I knew we were not far off where we needed to be.
 
I carried the headtorch it in my hand and instead of trying to find the path we just pressed on the bearing we had been following. Iain started talking about escape routes back to Llanberis – in all the drama I hadn’t considered the possibility that I wouldn’t complete the round.
 
We managed to get back on the path again and after losing a fair bit of height we found a sheltered spot behind some rocks. My headtorch hadn’t actually snapped, just came out of its casing so I was able to repair it and finally change the batteries.
 
It was whilst sitting there that it finally sank in that I wasn’t going to get round. To be honest it was an easy decision to make and I made it fast. Although I had stopped shaking I was far from warm. The conditions were getting worse and I still had the most technical end exposed sections of the round to come, and still a fair amount of climbing to do on this leg. In any case there was absolutely no chance Iain was going to let me continue – the only decision left to be made was how to get off the mountain.
 
Iain wanted to take a direct route  & follow a gulley and a  stream which led back to Llanberis. I didn’t like this option as I’d not been down that way before & didn’t know what the terrain was like – it could be really rough and slow going. He also suggested sticking to the Ranger path all the way to the Snowdon Ranger YHA. I didn’t like this option either as it meant we were miles away from the car & not guaranteed to get a phone signal or be able to get into the hostel.
 
The route I wanted to take was to follow the Ranger path down a bit further but then join another path which involves a little climbing but leads directly back to Llanberis. I’ve been that way before & knew that although it was longer than the other choices it was a well defined path and I’d be able to make steady progress once we were on it.
 
I could see Iain’s logic – he was worried about me and wanted to get down as quickly as possible and he was concerned about my decision making ability – it’s one of the things that is compromised by exhaustion and hypothermia. Although I was still cold my head was clear and we agreed to take my choice of route.
 
We got back Llanberis without any further incident and Paul & Catherine sorted me out & we drove back to Capel.
 
When you haven’t succeeded in a challenge its natural to look back and reflect on what went wrong, question your decisions and ask whether you could have succeeded given a different turn of events.
 
Could I have completed the round if I’d kept on going? I think I would have probably had a decent chance given the fact I was still feeling ok physically and assuming I’d be able to warm up enough in the car in Llanberis and also given how stubborn and determined I can be.
 
Would I have enjoyed it? Given the conditions probably not very much.
 
Would it have been safe to do so? I still had the most technical and dangerous section of the round over the Glyders and Tryfan to go in atrocious conditions so no it wouldn’t have been safe.
 
Is there anything I could have done differently? I should have layered up earlier on Snowdon before the weather turned really bad – easy to see in retrospect but I’ve been in similar situations many times before – if I was going to be on a ridge for a while I would have layered up but once the summit has been bagged it’s normally a fast descent where you can lose height and warm up quickly.
 
Unfortunately, the fading batteries in my head torch impeded my progress so that didn’t turn out to be the case – I should have changed the batteries at the start of the leg.
 
Maybe however it would have just been delaying the inevitable. It continued to rain heavily all day Sunday and the conditions didn’t get any better.
 
So in retrospect I’m comfortable with my decision and it’s pointless having any regrets – there’s nothing I can do about it now. It gives me an excuse to spend more time training in Wales for another attempt next year and also fits in well with my training for the Dragons Back. I’d done 46 miles & 20,000ft of ascent so not a bad days graft and it’s given me confidence that barring circumstances out of my control I’ll be able to make a successful attempt.
 
I’d like to thank everyone who was part of the day and helped me, especially Iain for looking out for me during a scary time and Catherine for waiting around in the dark and wind/rain for hours and having everything I needed ready for me.
 
Also apologies to Paul and Fred for coming all that way and not get a run in, although I’m sure deep down they were a little relieved they didn’t have to go out in those conditions.
 
For anyone interested my strava is here
 
As a footnote the following excerpt from a book I’ve recently read (The Welsh Three Thousand Foot Challenges: A Guide for Walkers and Hill Runners) is quite poignant:

 

“The gear carried by the normal hillrunner means that if the weather turns nasty, you only keep warm by keeping moving. If the weather turns nasty and then you injure yourself or get exhausted, then the Mountain Rescue will eventually find you but the anorexic chap with the scythe will probably get there first, So you either:

  • Carry more gear (e.g. proper survival bag) or
  • Face death

Most hillrunners seem to go for the second option.”
  
Rob Brooks

Berlin Marathon Race Report

The Berlin Marathon
 
The build up
 
It’s around 7am and the alarm goes off.  Its Sunday the 16th September, Marathon day.
 
The previous night was spent frantically searching for somewhere that sold pasta for my breakfast. Weird I know but out of everything I’ve eat/tried pasta seems the best thing for me plus it served me well through my training and I didn’t want to change anything for the big day.
 
Linda had noticed the marathon breakfast option earlier in the day at our hotel and decided that she wanted to go for this, so after a quick shower and change into our running kit we headed down.
 
A menu of porridge, energy balls, croissants and a different variety of items were available.  Lo and behold pasta was on the menu…typical. I had a cup of tea (very British I know).
 
The journey to the start was about 25 mins walk, we ambled along the streets which were now beginning to be fill up with marathoners all kitted out in club or national colours.  It was a great sight and everyone seemed to be in a buoyant mood.
 
We entered the designated area and both decided we needed the toilet, the queues were horrendous and after 15 mins of waiting we hardly moved a bit.  Linda decided perhaps a better option was to go to the starting pen, it may be a little less busy and maybe there were more toilets so of we went.
 
There are many advantages of being a bloke but one of the greatest has to be the ability to be able to go to the toilet literally anywhere.  Whilst walking along I noticed a number of giant bin convenient doubled as toilets, 2 mins later I was sorted.  Apparently, some ladies have the ability to pee anywhere too, I obviously hadn’t noticed that the giant bins were gender neutral, note Linda had slightly more class and decided against this option so off we went to the starting pen.
 
Walking to the pen someone noticed my wave number and tried to direct me to a different starting pen, however, from the moment we discussed entering the Berlin ballot I always said that I’d run it with Linda, besides I was genuinely ready to quit marathons after New York as at this point I had fulfilled a dream. 
 
We got into our pen around 90 mins before the marathon, the toilet situation was no better.  Huge queues and not enough toilets however as luck would have it we were next to a massive park trees a plenty.  A lot of people took this opportunity to embrace nature, Linda was a lady and got into the queue, well, that’s the story I’m maintaining.
 
Numerous toilet breaks later and the waves were beginning to get set off, we were in the last wave that was to be set off at 10am, the first was at 9.15am. The elite athletes were announced to the crowds, Eliud Kipchoge was in this wave and unbeknown to us this name would become more poignant at the end of the marathon.
 
At the beginning of each wave the announcing did something different to try and incorporate the mass of runners and to get us all ‘excited’ about the impending 26.2 miles we were about to take on.  The most memorable of these was a rendition of the thunder clap for a number of Icelandic runners that had turned up, for our own was a mixture of dance/techno tunes that he had us dancing to, it was probably the best start of any run I’d been party to.
 
It was now 9:59:30 and so begun the 30 second countdown and then the gun, we were off.

 

The marathon itself
 
Like most marathons the start is a lot of jostling around, people running at different paces and trying to get into their stride, it takes the best part of 3 miles for everyone to get into their ‘positions’.
 
The first 3-4 miles we ran through the city, going through Tiergarten, past the Grobe Stern (Great star) past Charlottenberg palace turning back around and heading towards the Reichstag this and the end of the marathon were the most picturesque.
 
Linda set the pace, I’m sure she’d agree that she had not done as much training as me, and talking beforehand she was a little nervous about the marathon if not extremely excited.  I didn’t want to take the lead as I didn’t want to go at a pace that she would feel uncomfortable so I dropped back a little and let her dictate the pace.  I was surprised if not a little happy that we were running around the 9-9.30min mile pace, wow I thought perhaps we can make under 4 hours, something which would have been the ultimate aim.
 
At around the 5 mile point we heard the shout ‘hooooops, come on Saltwell’, its always great to hear Saltwell support especially in a foreign country.  Albeit I recognised the face I couldn’t put a name to it, I subsequently learned it was Jo Whitehead.  Its always gives you a lift when you see a fellow hoop and the support of her and her family did not go unnoticed and was very much appreciated.
 
On our way we passed what was referred to as the Star Wars building aptly names as it had Star Wars graffitied on in 20 foot letters or so I mistakenly thought.  The graffiti did actually say Stop Wars on a closer inspection, in my defence I was in the Berlin TV tower earlier in the week and many hundreds of feet away when I made this error.
 
Many water and food stops had passed and we were around the halfway mark. The subsequent 13.1 mile had taken us, by my estimations, around 2hr and 5 minutes.  This is where the runner in you can’t help but think that you may be able to make up the extra time and still come in under the 4 hour mark. Linda had been running fantastic and still looked strong, perhaps we could still do it……
 
Next came a particularly angry moment from me.  Annoyingly despite having thousands of runners on a two lane road, idiot spectators still feel the need to want to get to the other side, I had noticed a number of people in front trying to do this however because it didn’t affect me I let it slide. Unfortunately one particular sole decided the most opportune time to run over the road with his bike would be right when myself and Linda passed.  He probably didn’t expect a well-timed push and a number of obscenities flying his way, I was met with a stern, ‘calm down Darren’ from Linda.  I tried to explain if either of us reared up due to them then we may have injured ourselves, I think it fell on death ears and so we continued.
 
At different spots along the race were massage tables, you could literally stop in the middle of the race and get a leg massage as tempting as it was we continued.
 
18 miles approached, we had maintained our earlier pace until this point, around 4 hours we still in our sight and then Linda turn to me, ‘my Legs hurt’.  Oh no, I thought. I tried to persuade her to continue by saying, ‘they’re not going to get any better if we stop’ this worked for about another mile.
 
She turned to me again, ‘can we please stop, my legs feel like lead’.  I wanted to continue as I had felt good but as I mentioned previously I always said that I would run Linda’s first marathon with her and I wasn’t about to change my opinion now.  We took a minute or so walking break and continued on.
 
The next 5 or 6 miles were a mixture of running and walking, the heat was starting to raise and it was getting close to 24c the run was beginning to take its toll.  Earlier in the day we had seen that just down from our hotel was the 39km mark, we were soon approaching this only a two and a bit more kilometres to go, we were nearly there.
 
On approaching the finish the crowds grew, people were cheering you on left right and centre.  The best part of the whole marathon, for me, was next, we approached the Brandenburg gates and ran underneath them, the subsequent 200m to the finish was a procession we had crossed the line in 4hr 27minutes 47 seconds, we had done it.
 
I was extremely proud that Linda had become the newest member of the Saltwell marathoners club.  Despite an imperfect training regime, where she had been injured for a month, she had managed to get under 4hrs 30mins, which she had secretly hoped for and I was extremely happy to be there to share the experience with her.
 
The aftermath 
 
After collecting our medals we were grateful for a beer and to sit down and discuss our latest acheivement.  I asked how Linda enjoyed it, she responded that it was difficult but extremely satisfying.  Would you do another I asked, without hesitation there was a resnding, yes, I’m going to do them all!
 
This is the point where I should add that earlier in the week when we went to pick our numbers up we seen a list of all the 6 star winners i.e. those that had done the big 6 marathons (London, NYC, Berlin, Tokyo, Chicago and Boston). Linda had noticed that no Latvian had yet completed this acheivement and wanted to be the first, what an acheivement that would be, so here’s hoping she can be the first.
 
It was around this time that we heard about Kipchoge’s acheivement a Marathon world record of 2hr 1minute and 38seconds.  It had worked out as an average of a mile every 4m38s or every 100m was ran in 17 seconds, extrodinary. It then dawned on us that we had taken part in the same race a world record was set. Wow, how many people cost boast that (apart from the other 34,000 or so who ran the race).
 
The long walk home was a discussion of what to do now.  We’re in Berlin, we’ve just ran a marathon, what do you think…. Drink of course! 🙂
 
The conclusion
 
What next you ask!? Previously I mentioned that following NYC I had no intention of running a marathon, following my decision to help Linda train and run her first, and being that we got into Berlin, I decided early on in my training that my goal is to be the first Saltwellian to acheive the six star medal, for those of you who do not know I now have 3 of the 6 stars. 

If my words or actions can encourage anyone to run a marathion, get out of their comfort zone and go for something they never believed posible then what I would say is, I may not be the best runner you’ve met, I may not have thre greatest physique of the runners you’ve met or the best running style of any runner you’ve met but what I lack in these area’s, I have determination in abundance and a never quit attitude, now more so than ever.
 
When I started running 7 years or so ago I never evisoned myself running 1 marathon, I didn’t believe I was capable but as we speak I’ve ran 5 with another 3 to come. These things are    doable, as I’ve proved you just need a bit of determinationand and now for me its not a case of if I’ll get the 6 star medal but when!
 
You may have seen my photo after the marathon holding up my 3 fingers, now you know why. What you may not be aware of is that Saltwell’s very own Lee Wilkinson-Brown is also attempting the same feat (currently on 2 and has guranteed entry for his 3rd next year) as me, throw into the mix the newest Saltwell marathoner Linda and you now have the makings of a new Saltwell competion.
 
So what next for me, well I’ve entered the Tokyo ballot and I’ll be entering Chicago ballot this year too. I’m more desperate to get into Chicago as I’ll be able to meet up with Lee next year which would be great but we’ll see. For Linda, she’s entered for ballott for the London Marathon.
 
So stay tuned, there may be a few more marathon reports heading your way!
 
Darren Smiley

 

Saltwell Fell Race Report

 

3rd July and the weather continues to be hot and sunny (it is summer after all) as 65 athletes line up for the Saltwell Fell Race, The dry weather meant that the route was the driest I have seen for many a year,
 
There was another sporting event on that evening (they won on penalties) which did have an effect on the numbers with circa 25% less lining up at the start than we have had in recent years,
 
But what we may have lacked in numbers we weren’t lacking in quality.
 
The first  half mile over open moorland can be difficult if you don’t pick up one of the sheep trods that weave thru the heather, this soon brings you onto the old quarry track with good running to the summit where the runners round the Saltwell Flag to start the decent,

 First to the summit was Rory woods eventual winner of the race, not far behind was Gemma Bradley 1st. lady although she didn’t have it all her own way with U21 lady Robyn Bennet working hard on her first time of competing the race,
 
The half way point sees you “punch” your number, the punches are positioned within in the river, this year you only just managed to get you feet wet! due to the dry summer we are enjoying.
 
The runners follow the river to the bridge before a steep climb to the finish, Where everyone received a multi use drinks bottle (rather than a single use) and Jelly Beans which seemed to go down well,
 
“Thank you” to all that gave up their time to help with the race, I couldn’t have done it without you
 
Fred Smith
 
Race organizer,

 

Lakeland 50 race report

Trying to sum up my weekend at Lakeland 50 is extremely difficult, as there just aren’t words that are expressive enough to describe some of the feelings and emotions I felt on my wonderful adventure.
 
I woke up that morning totally hyper, as Is usual on race day. Quick shower then into my race kit which was laid out the night before. Was ready with loads of time to spare so sat in the car trying to keep dry. The heavens had opened the night before after it had been brilliant sunshine all day. So lovely, in fact, I’d spent the afternoon sun bathing on the grass next to the tent.
 
It was soon time for the briefing and I picked up my packed lunch to eat for breakfast. Grated cheese and cucumber wrap, crisps, banana and a penguin. Lush.
 
Briefing over and Jo, Alan, Paul and I all got on the coach for the trip to the start. Skinny country roads and large coaches are not the best combination but we eventually got there after over an hours drive.
 
Queue for the portaloo then we were on the start line. Can’t explain the excitement, nerves, fear, sickness I always feel on the start line. I always visualise wearing my medal before I start and it’s worked every time up to now. Nothing was going to stop me getting that medal. All the hours of training, the missed nights out, the early nights and early morning training sessions were all in aid of this moment.
 
We set off and I ran the first 4 miles with Mike. Was a lovely start catching up and I soon got into a rhythm I could hopefully carry on for the next 46 miles.
 
The scenery was to die for, the checkpoints were totally awesome. Free food, friendly, motivational marshall’s who couldn’t do enough for you. The camaraderie of the other runners make this race so special. Even though you may run many miles on your own there’s always someone not too far off to have a chat too to help the hours pass.
 
The weather started off lovely and sunny then quite quickly got worse. My jacket was on and off, the sleeves were up and down so many times lol. Climbing Fusedale we had driving rain, gale force winds, hail stones that felt like needles on my legs and made them bright red.
 
Coming into Mardale head we had full on thunder and lightening and the heavens opened. A beautiful rainbow met us at the top but I was too tired to get my camera out ??. I continued to make steady progress throughout the day and survived on the soup and sandwiches at the checkpoints, Scottish tablet, pork scratchings, love heart sweets and candy shrimps lol.
 
Met so many amazing, likeminded people on the way. Ran a few sections with a couple of 100 runners called Richard and a lady called Rebecca. Totally mad, awe inspiring individuals.
 
Got into Ambleside at around 9.30 and decided to change into my leggings and get my head torch and gloves prepared for the night time section. Got an amazing cup of coffee here by Johnny Fling and have to say it was my favourite checkpoint.
Upon leaving I met up with a man called Dominique. He was a 100 runner and had started running with Jason. They’d met at a couple of races and our meeting just felt like fate. We didn’t know each from Adam but running the last 16 miles to the end with him was perfect and I can’t thank him enough for his companionship. I had been worried about running in the dark tired, but I was pretty confident I knew the way as I’d recceed this section a few weeks before with Jo. We made up a bit more time and overtook some runners as we made a fantastic team.
 
Dominic finished incredibly strong. He’s a fantastic downhill runner and actually sprinted to the end.
 
I ran all the way in from the bottom of the last hill and felt amazing finishing strong after 50 miles. Jason was waiting for me to run me in and give me gin.
 
I love how they introduce you to the finishing tent as a ‘lakeland legend’ to applause and whoops of joy and congratulations.
 
This really is one special event and I hope to go back next year and further better my time. I ended up knocking 3 hours, 3 minutes off last years time. Which I’m over the moon with. If I can knock another 18 minutes off that I’ll be sub 16 hours which I never in a million years thought I’d be able to achieve.
 
Sorry for the epic post. Well done if you’ve got to the end ??. It’s more for my benefit so I can look back in years to come and see what can be achieved if you put your heart and soul into something.
Thank you so much Lakeland for making me so very happy and giving me a wonderful challenge.
I’ll be back 2019. ?
 
Kirsty West
 

Ian Hodgson Mountain Relays


The club have now entered 1 open team (mixed) into the Hodgson brothers relay on October 7th and as already mailed out the event is open to all members who have experience of mountain running and navigation.
 
To that end I am going across on Saturday September the 1st to recce parts of the route.
 
For those wanting to come across for the recce or just to have a run in the hills please get in touch.
 
The plan is to run 2 or 3 of the legs depending on who is going across. The routes will mean running around 15 miles and around 5000 thousand feet of climbing so a full day out in the hills.
 
Jim Thompson
 

Brough Law Fell Race

 

This Sunday (25th March) see’s the first race in this years Fell Race Series at Brough Law. It is a great race and a good introduction to Fell Running.

To participate in the series men are to complete 4 races – short, medium & long plus another.
 

Best position to count. Women to do 4 races – two short and two medium. The long races don’t count in the womens series. However, if they feel they have the experience to do them they can enter. Lowest points wins. i.e 1 point for first Saltwell to finish.

 

The full list of races is as follows :
 

Short races
Brough Law 25/3/18
Clough Head 6/5/18
Beacon Hill 12/7/18
Roof of England (DFR) 17/07/18

 
Medium
Anniversary Waltz 21/4/18
Yetholm 3/6/18
Simonside 15/9/18
 
Long
Cross Fell 30/6/18
Borrowdale 4/8/18
Langdale 13/10/18
 

Haworth Hobble aka the Wuthering Hike


 
Naz – “Phil, what shall we do in March?”

Me – “Well I’ve got to get a long one in sometime, it’s in my ‘marathon plan’ for Manchester. What do you reckon?” “I know, let’s do the Hobble, it’s a 32 miler in Bronte country. I did it back in the day and actually came 26th in 5 and a half hours – you impressed?”

Naz – “no, what’s it like? Anything like the White Rose?”

Me – “nothing like the White Rose, it’s relatively flat and most of it’s on runnable track”

Naz – “I’ll enter us as a team, that ok?”

Me – “yep, do it. I’ll see if Longstaff’s up for it too”

Naz – “I’ll sort accommodation, we’ll treat it as a day out in the hills and countryside”

 

One week before the event, Mr Longstaff ruled himself out – sciatica! We managed to kid Paul Walters, an old University friend of mine, an exSaltwell (for 3 months) and now of Derwent Valley Trail Runners into joining us. The plan was to run round together as a team of three!

 

The evening before the event, Naz and myself checked into our accommodation – a clean, simple Guest house situated half way up the picturesque cobbled Haworth high street, 100 yards away from tomorrow’s start line. We spent the evening in the Fleece Inn where we were joined by Paul and I got myself acquainted to the Landlord. I think his name was Timothy Taylor! To irritate Naz, Paul and I ordered the gammon steak (with pineapple AND fried egg Peter) and Naz had the halal scampi – good wholesome pre-race food, NOT! Three pints later we decided to be sensible and take an early night, after all we had to be at registration in seven hours time.

 

Six o’clock the alarm sounds. Time to pack bags, get dressed (Naz insisted on packing his bag in his pants for some unknown reason, probably a cultural thing!) and perform bowel evacuation procedures. Making sure the remnants of my room mates large intestine (from the evening before) had finally escaped (it was a Friday night four flusher), I dared to enter the ensuite to apply my waterproof mascara. I wasn’t going to win this race but I was certainly going to look good! We met Paul at the event HQ at 06:30hrs, registered, then went back to the hotel for our cereal, tea and toast.

 

After the obligatory selfie at the start at 08:00hrs, the mass of runners in front of us started to move slowly up the cobbled street. It appears we had started. Paul looked around for somewhere to have a last minute nervous wee. He couldn’t find anywhere, he’d have to wait until we hit the countryside. The weather wasn’t brilliant. It was wet, that fine rain that soaks you immediately, but on the plus side, it wasn’t windy and was relatively warm. Out of the village and onto the moors, we started to overtake fellow competitors until we reached that position in the race where we would probably remain for the rest of the event, about three quarters through the field.
 
We lost Paul immediately as nature called. The first points of interest were the beautiful Bronte waterfalls and bridge. From the bridge, and signposted in Japanese, we came across Top Withens, an old building in the middle of nowhere. Heathcliff and Cathy weren’t in! The first checkpoint came and went at about the 7 mile point. There, we refuelled with provided broken biscuits from a car boot and refilled our water bottles. To this point it felt that there had been little height gained apart from the climb up Haworth Front street (although we had actually done about 750 feet accent) however that was all about to change. The next bit was in full view ahead of us, we could actually see the path ahead going up and up.
 
Luckily the ground under foot was quite firm being made up of red gravel. In the distance and nearing the top of this particular hill was a green JCB digger. As we got closer it was apparent that it was laying large flag stones at an attempt of improving the path for the vast amount of tourists who visit the area. In my opinion, the huge, even sided, uniform squared ‘natural’ slabs take something away from the character of the place but I suppose they’re a necessity due to the wear and tear from the massive amount of footfall experienced. Moving now as a threesome, (Paul caught us up after another wee stop!), himself, myself and Naz covered the next 5 or 6 miles relatively quickly passing by the sides of reservoirs, running over dams and squelching through mud and melting snow, each keeping the others motivated and in good spirits.
 
Thirteen’ish miles in saw the next landmark or landmarks. We heard them before seeing them. There was an eerie atmospheric pulsating dull noise coming out of the blanket of mist. We could only partly see one giant wind turbine with its blades flying around but was aware of tens of others contributing to the harmonious drone. This short busy road section soon turned back into track, mud, slush and ice cold puddles. Halfway was approaching. I’d informed the lads that, ‘back in the day’ there was always a farm outhouse where hot dogs were served! We weren’t disappointed. The buildings had gone but thankfully had been replaced by a campervan. Hot dogs, meat and/or vegetarian (sausages skewered by the same fork Naz later pointed out!), mustard, ketchup, brown sauce, carrot based veg soup, liquorice tea, proper tea, coffee, sausage rolls, biscuits and Jaffa cakes were all on offer and all for free. Naturally we spent a few minutes here replenishing our reserves and a few minutes more waiting for Paul to find somewhere for his third wee in three hours! Onward and upwards, literally. The next hour or two was a hard, run/walk slog. The checkpoint at Mankinholes, a tiny village at mile 20 was a highlight. It comprised of a couple of trellis tables on the street path outside a pub. Food and drink included sausage rolls, little iced cakes, bone dry jam donuts, water and whiskey, blended, not single malt! What’s that all about?!

 

We set off again at a bimbling pace, probably around 5 miles an hour. The weather was now reasonable, the rain having stopped a while ago but the mist was still shrouding the hills around revealing them for a second or two just to keep us interested! We knew the next hour was going to be hard. The contour lines on the map were starting to get closer together (not that any of us even attempted to get ours out – our maps that is), we just knew they were getting closer together because the track was getting steeper and steeper. The bimble turned into a walk which quickly morphed into a crawl, the pushing your hands onto your knees type of crawl. The path had gone, the terrain was mud, rocks, tufts of grass and up. We were accenting Stoodley Pike which from a distance looked like, when the mist temporarily lifted, the pointy bit of Thunderbird Three.

 

Fast forward (or rather slow forward) down to Hebdon Bridge. I pointed out the towns Co-op to my fellow team members where I had queued for two bottles of Diet Coke with the Ironman they call Mullarkey when we last took part five or six years ago, the very same shop that was submerged under 10 foot of flood water 2 years ago thanks to ‘hurricane’ Desmond. They appeared to be interested but I know they weren’t really.

 

The next small village, Hepsonstall, overlooked Hendon Bridge. A quaint little place with a couple of boozers, a stone house lined narrow cobbled street and a church. Foggy, Compo, Clegg and Nora Batty wouldn’t have looked out of place here! The distance between the town below and the village above was only about a mile but the difference in height was approximately 1000 Harra feet. The last but one or penultimate checkpoint was situated just beyond the village. From there we only had 7 or 8 miles to go!

 

Picture this – on a narrow, metalled road, walking swiftly up a hill, a few metres in front of Naz and a few more ahead of Paul, I hear the grey haired, spectacled, jolly sales director shout, and I quote “Phil, I’ve lost my car keys!” “How” I replied. “They’re not there anymore, my zipped pocket was open and they must have fallen out. I’ll have to go back.” I questioned with complete understanding and compassion in my tone of voice, “So how far are you going to go back then – 22 miles?” Paul realised it wasn’t a viable option to retrace his tracks and we all pressed on in silence with the odd expletive coming from the Tourette’ual mouth of the ‘victim’. He wasn’t Happy!

 

Not long to go now, one more checkpoint to ‘run’ through, then home. Paul by now had come to terms with his dilemma and predicament and had formulated an action plan. High-end German car Assistance were going to be deployed – “they’ll get me home!” Stopping at the final checkpoint Paul asked the marshal if any car keys had been handed in. She was straight on the radio to HQ asking the question. A positive answer came back and Mr Happy returned. He skipped all the way to the finish. The finish was a welcome sight. The rain had started again and it was getting quite cold. Myself and Naz finished just shy of seven and three quarter hours and Paul completed the course a few minutes after us. Hospitality at the end was tremendous. As much veggie pasta and cheese pasties you could eat with buckets of tea and loads of smiles.

 

Did I say it was going to be relatively flat? I’ll take that back. It was enjoyable though, a great day out in the hills and countryside with fantastic friends.