Friday, 30 May 2008

John's "Joss" and more

Job Done

Last Week
71 Miles, 14287 ft, 19:21:57

John's journey began at Pooley Bridge 10 years ago and finished last Saturday in time to have a cup of tea with Joss and Mary. You can read more and see more photos at

Pauline (on Leg 4) and Rachel (on Leg 3) hadn't previously supported a challenge like this (on the fells) and both did admirably and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Fortunately we were blessed with good weather, not least, because this was the first time I had navigated a leg and while I was fairly happy about Leg 4 (although I remember being unable to find Scoat Fell on my first BG) there were a couple of bits on Leg 3 that would have been difficult in clag. Thanks to John for another grand day out.

Sunday was a bit of a struggle and on Monday we headed off to Whalley to have a flatish run to Blacko Tower and back. 7 miles into the wind was about enough and the paths past Bull Hole provided an easy way to cross the valley and return on the opposite ridge with the wind behind us. The remainder of the week was an increasing struggle and by about halfway through last night's hill session my legs were gone. Last week was the fourth week over 70 miles with an average climb of over 12500 feet so I am happy with that. Apart from a slight niggle on one shin which is probably just over-use I remain injury free and looking forward to next week, next month and the 21st.

Next Week

Duddon fell race on Saturday and a recce of the Newlands Hause section of the first leg. I want to see how much the bracken has developed since looking at this with Paul Murray in April and to have a close look at the climb out on to Robinson. With three weeks to go I am going to start reducing my mileage, target around 60 this week and back off much more the following week. If this goes to plan I will still have one or two long hard days at the weekends but do much less in between and finally do very little in the last week. It has been a long hard road to get here and with the start line almost in sight I feel very different to this time two years. I am not completely relaxed about the 21st June but I am looking forward to it although the logistics still need some attention. Two years ago the logistsics were all sorted but I was getting more and more worried about the whole thing and was a nervous wreck by the Moot Hall. Anyway, plenty to enjoy at Duddon tomorrow and Buttermere on Sunday.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

John Swift - Successful "Joss Naylor", 24 May

Running strongly towards Sty Head with Rachel

On Middle Fell and "Its in the bag" according to a local

Yesterday John successfully completed the "Joss Naylor Challenge". Pauline and I were very pleased to be able to help, particularly having seen in recent weeks how much work John had done in preparation.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Paul Murray's 65@65

Last Week 72 miles, 11392 ft, 15:43:00

Leaving Pillar Rock for Pillar summit with Kath and Paul
(photo - Rae Pritchard)

"I won't be early" were Paul's last words when I confirmed I would meet him at Sty Head, with Kath Brierley, for the second leg of his 65@65. Postponed from last summer this is a continuous traverse of the highest 65 summits in the Lakes. Leaving Seathwaite a little earlier than I planned I was confident of having time for bite at the Ambulance Box before setting off up Great Gable and so it was something of a surprise when approaching Sty Head to see Edwin pointing towards Gable. "They are not coming down that way, I am sure" I thought and then the awful realisation began - they were going up, having already left Sty Head. Quick confirmation with Edwin that I had everything I needed and then it was like the Borrowdale race but with a rucksack! Before long I reached them to learn we were an hour up on the schedule - just as well Paul was taking it steady. The ignominy was shared as they had left before Kath arrived and so Rae, who had been with Paul since the start at 02:00, carried on as far as Pillar Rock. The rest of the day was spent taking it steady to reach Buttermere 2 hours ahead of schedule. Kath left us in Ennerdale and Paul continued on through the night with his daughter Ros and on through the following day with others to complete the traverse in 46 hours 17 minutes. A huge achievement and, I am sure like everyone who helped over the weekend, I feel fortunate to have been involved. Kath and I waited on the col while Paul, Rae and Rob went up Pillar Rock and although dry it wasn't terribly warm, hence all the clothes.

Recovery run with Pauline on Sunday and then twice a day, including a track session on Tuesday, to reach this week's targets by close on Wednesday to ensure two days rest before the weekend.

Next Week

Saturday is John Swift's "Joss Naylor". I am meeting him at Dunmail with Rachel Metcalf for her first outing as a support runner (I am hoping she enjoys it and that she will then help on my 55 in June) and staying with John to Greendale Bridge and navigating from about Rossett Pike. Pauline will join us at Sty Head for the last leg. This will be the first time I have formally navigated a leg and so the 'weather paranoia' has been (is still) extreme this week. Right now it looks dry until lunchtime, light cloud but strong winds on the summits - but it is only a forecast. The weather for the rest of the weekend appears changeable but if doesn't deteriorate we will go to the Howgills on Monday to avoid the crowds and revisit some grassy slopes we haven't seen for a while. The rest of the week will be working towards another 70+ and 10,000+ with half an eye on Duddon on the 31st. I shouldn't taper for it and just treat it as another long training session. This week is a bit different, as was last week, when being rested for Saturday is important.

Finally a big "well done" to Paul and an equally big "good luck" to John

Friday, 16 May 2008

Kentmere Horseshoe and a bit more

Last Week
71 miles, 10600 ft, 14:10:15

The Kentmere Horseshoe provides a great run and a great walk but there just isn't enough of it. Previously I am extended it by dropping into Mardale and ascending High Street via Rough Crag (the "connoisseurs' route" according to Wainwright) and a really extension it is but even this was far enough for another Saturday run with John Swift and Pauline. It isn't just that, even with the Rough Crag extension, the route is short, the route is also a bit short of climbing and since Winter Hill too is a bit short of climbing we go to the Lakes to get the climbing.

Fortunately the planning map suggested another extension after dropping into Mardale. Instead of taking the 'short cut' over Rough Crag, climbing out over Kidsty Pike and Rampsgill Head offered the possibility of dropping down to Hawes Water and another climb out over Gray Crag before Thornthwaite Crag and the traditional finish to the round over Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke. On the day, last Saturday, even that proved not quite far enough and I had to pull the last 'ace from my sleeve' by way of an extension over Sour Howes and Sallows before finishing at Kentmere Church with 20 miles and 6800 feet of climbing done.

Sunday morning saw a rather sluggish ascent of Winter Hill via the Two Lads and The Pike before replanning on Tuesday after the M60 prevented me getting to the track session. Realising I could do a few more miles and reach 70 by Thursday morning I did just that to squeeze in another rest session (Thursday night) before the weekend.

Next Week

Paul Murray is attempting a long birthday walk/run - a 65 summit south west to north east traverse of the Lakes (a 65@65 or it would have been last year had the poor summer not wrecked training plans and "65@66" doesn't have the same ring or symmetry). I am fortunate enough to be supporting him, with Kath Brierley, on a long leg from Sty Head to Buttermere. Hence the extra rest session. It will be good to meet Kath, not least because we both left the Moot Hall at 08:00 on a June morning a couple of years ago and neither of us made it back within 24 hours. Kath went back a week or two before I did and returned to the Moot Hall within 24 hours but we have never met other than briefly, running through the market place in Keswick on that June morning.

Support Teams

Places are beginning fill up and I will probably publish the details next week but, in the meantime, thanks to all of you who have agreed to help. I think this week's sunshine is helping because I am beginning to look forward to June 21st.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Friday 9th May 2008

Last Week
74 Miles, 14694 ft, 18:21:20

Long day on Saturday with Denis, Pauline and John Swift having a look at part of the "Joss Naylor" route from Red Screes to Steel Fell. Long, long climb into the wind to reach the top of Red Screes before the fun of the ups and downs over Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield to reach Seat Sandal and the descent to Dunmail. Not content yet we climbed out of Dunmail to Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag. From Helm Crag, after scrambling to one of the summits, we dropped into Grasmere and slogged round the back of the mere and Rydal Water to the car in Ambleside for a 21 mile almost 7 hour day that finished in warm sunshine.

After a brief leg stretch of little note on Sunday, Pauline and I met Keith in Ingleton to do teh "Other Three Peaks" (Ingleborough, Whernside and Gregareth). By Whernside we were enjoying the hazy sunshine (something of a contrast with the snow we encountered here in March) so much we decided to go to Great Coum by way of Green Hill and Crag Hill before Gregareth. By Ingleton we had finished another 21 mile day and decided we had 'earned' fish and chips at Settle on the way home.

My calfs seem to have completely recovered from the Three Peaks and my chest has only the slightest of traces of stiffness left - not enough to provide an excuse to miss either Tuesday's track session or last night's hill session.

Next Week
On Saturday, Pauline and I are going back to the Lakes to do an 'extended Kentmere Horseshoe' with John Swift followed by something on Winter Hill on Sunday to provide the foundation for another 70+ miles and 10000+ feet week.

Road Support is sort and so far, Colin Jones, Rob Green and Brendan Bolland have agreed to navigate a leg and while I have another couple of navigators 'pencilled in' I would still welcome other offers of support. I will start to confirm other offers next week and finalise my nutrition schedule. I have been trying marzipan, as recommended by Mark Cudahy, and it is very easy to eat and so I will be using it on the day - thanks Mark.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Three Peaks in 04:29:29

Last Week 60 miles, 6590 ft, 10:00:35

An easy week, mostly recovering from the Three Peaks and trying to run off tight calf muscles and bruised ribs from the weekend before. 10 miles on Sunday with Pauline to try run the hills out of my legs seemed to have worked although my calfs remained stiff and very tight. Twice daily short runs, and lots of stretches daily massages seem to have done the trick - my calfs seem fine which is something of a relief because my right one (the one torn in February) was really very tight and stiff. My chest is easing but even tonight is still inhibiting deep breathing.

Last Saturday - Three Peaks - A Roller-Coaster of route and race to match. Rested but troubled by bruised ribs I doubted last year's 04:14 was under threat and so it proved. A steady climb un Pen-Y-Ghent to post my slowest summit time and a steady descent, a fearful descent because I was really concerned about falling again but after checking my GPS track I found I was no slower than last year. Without Albert to drag me to Ribblehead I was around three minutes down on last year but about 80 places further up the field than I had been at Pen-Y-Ghent. From here I just continued to lose a few minutes between every check point and having unsuccessfully tried to remember last year's splits I believed, by the Hill Inn that I was looking at being more than 30 minutes down on last year and in danger of posting my worst time. Next time I'll write the splits on my hand or not bother looking at them - either way would have been better than mis-remembering them.

Beginning to get depressed about my performance I began to wonder if I needed to cancel my 55at55. By the summit of Ingleborough my chest which had been uncomfortable most of the way round was beginning to ache a bit. As well as losing time compared with last year I was losing places, about 30 in all, and although I was passing one or two, I was being passed by three or four which wasn't doing my morale much good. Somewhere around Suber Pot I promised myself I would never do this race again and then, almost immediately, started to realise I had got last year's splits all wrong and while I wasn't going to get a PB I could still get under 4:30 if I stopped feeling sorry for myself and concentrated on the job in hand. With some runners just in front to chase I sorted myself out and caught 3 or, perhaps, 4 in the last mile to sneak in just under four and half hours.

While I drank almost all my carb drinks and the cramp attacks were brief I think I may not have eaten enough although I didn't feel hungry at any time during the race or for more than an hour afterwards. After Whernside I found it more difficult to concentrate on maintaining a reasonable pace, trying to lengthen my stride when appropriate and trying to catch the runner in front. The discomfort in my chest was a constant distraction and while I remembered to keep drinking I don't recall even thinking about eating.

What is done is done and there is no point in dwelling on it - it wasn't a bad performance, it could have been better but no matter what I do now it isn't going to change anything.

Next Week
On Saturday we are going to the Lakes with John Swift for a look at part of the "Joss Naylor" which John will be attempting later on the month. On Monday we will probably go to the Dales and run over the 'other 3 Peaks' (Ingleborough, Whernside and Gregareth) and in between, squeeze a few miles in on Sunday morning over Winter Hill and try to get back to 10,000 feet and around 70 miles.