This time with Pauline in more benign conditions apart from the icy wind.
Enjoying the sunshine and the fresh snow at Thornthwaite Beacon
High Street and Mardale Ill Bell
Looking west over Kentmere with Red Screes in middle distance
In 2006 I completed a BGR in under 24 hours (see Fell Shoe Shuffler's BGR below)) and then wondered what to do next. Beyond a Bob Graham Round - there are a number of 42+ summit rounds but the original extended rounds are sometimes overlooked, perhaps for easier rounds. This is about attempts at the original, anti-clockwise, "Pioneers' 55"@55. After two failed attempts in 2008 I decided on one more, final, attempt on the 13th June.
Last Week: 73.9 miles; 12390 feet; 15:42:33
Despite the forecast of sunny intervals and then sunshine the clag never cleared completely – the photo of the Pike shows the best there was. Even stopping to take photos on the way round and after a tougher “warm up” I was still 20 minutes quicker than last week. The wind wasn’t as strong which helps a great deal but I felt much stronger all the way round and even at the end the last 3 miles weren’t the struggle they often are. The “warm up” is a mid-winter legacy – I prefer to get out early and so usually do a few road miles to warm up, digest my porridge and allow dawn to break. I changed the route so that I get about 850 feet of climbing in order to top up a Saturday morning to 21 miles and 4000 feet.
On Sunday we went to Great Langdale to have a run round some of the “Langdale Skyline” but the wind was too strong on the summits and after about half of them Pauline headed back to the car. I decided, having been over the Langdale Pikes and dropped down to the valley floor to just go up Bowfell by Rosett Ghyll and the BG route and back down the Band. The wind was so strong on Bowfell that I had trouble standing on the summit. The ascent route is clear of snow which is encouraging as I will be able to use it on 18th April – a year ago we had a very entertaining time on the same route when it was plastered with old hard snow and being blasted by a strong icy wind. It does provide good views across the head of Great Langdale – see below.
I have now replaced Tuesday’s track session with a run up Winter Hill which gives about 12 miles and 1400 feet of climbing to add to the weekend’s climbing. This week the weather was so bad – two hours in pouring rain – I regretted the decision. In the dark and in the clag the mountain bike lights are quite spooky.
The left and right side of Great Langdale from high on Bowfell above Rosett Pike
The Band and a solitary Herdwick enjoying a little sunshine
Stickle Tarn from Pavey Ark
This is a 48 mile run with 17000 feet of climbing against the clock for the over 50s. Fortunately we don’t all have to run against the same clock. Over 50 year old men have 12 hours (very demanding), over 50 year old women have 14 hours; over 55 year old men have 15 hours, over 55 year old women have 16 hours; Over 60 year old men and women have 18 hours; over 65 year old men and women have 24 hours. There are age group records but the spirit of the challenge is to complete it within the allowed time rather to race against these records. The inaugural run, by Joss Naylor MBE, was in 1990 when, in very bad weather with heavy rain and a strong SW wind, he completed the run to Greendale Bridge, Wasdale in 11 hours and 30 minutes, aged 54.
I was probably 53 before I started think about this and then, as now, doubted I could complete it within 12 hours. Last year I preferred to attempt the “55at55” and since my birthday isn’t until June I couldn’t attempt a 15 hour Joss early in the summer.
Given good weather, as always, this should be great day out and although slightly nervous I am looking forward to it. Support teams are sorted and I’ll post details shortly – there is a requirement to be accompanied, for safety reasons, at every summit and verified timings are to be submitted with each claimed completion. There is also a requirement to raise at least £100 for your own preferred charity and in my case the beneficiary is Alzheimer’s Research Trust.
My schedule is below and if you are around come and say hello.
A total of 48 miles with 17000 feet of climbing to be done within 15 hours. The 14 hour schedule isn’t intended to drive me to break any records rather it should help me get to Greendale Bridge, weather permitting, by seven in the evening having had a grand long day out in the hills with good friends.
Pauline will be managing the road crossings and everything else that can be managed on the day and I’ll post details of other helpers shortly.
The calendar might think it is Spring but the West Pennine Moors know better.
On a clear day the high summits of the Lake District can be seen in the background – today even the nearby radio masts were hidden in the clag.
Much later and Rivington Pike can just about be seen from above the garden behind Pike Cottage.
Since sweeping panoramas weren’t to be photographed today I included the “Trespass Stone” which commemorates a mass trespass in 1896 – much earlier than the better known “Kinder Trespass” of 1932 (http://www.kindertrespass.com/)
Last Week: 74.3 miles; 9000 feet; 14:56:23
Winter training is done and it is time to up the ante. Previously I simply ran further on Mondays and Wednesdays but with running before work I may not need to, yet. The track sessions are good but contribute little in the way of distance and nothing in the way of climbing so unless I really don’t need the climbing I am going to replace Tuesday’s track with a run up Winter Hill which adds about 12 miles and 1500 feet of climbing. This week’s run was mostly in the dark and while that will change the descent will lose the wondrous night views over Manchester and the Lancashire plain. This week also sees the start of the “no alcohol” part of the year – we drink very little anyway and only at weekends but following a hard Saturday with a hard Sunday and more on a Monday requires recovery to be as complete as possible and alcohol slows recovery remarkably. By inhibiting glycogen production alcohol delays recovery – two pints of beer adds around a 12 hour delay.
Saturday was 21 mile 3500 feet session on and around Winter Hill starting with a 4 mile loop through Horwich and up New Chapel Lane before climbing on to Winter Hill. The cold wind made this a hard session and I wasn’t disappointed to get finished. On Sunday we went to Upper Warfdale to have a look at part of The Fellsman route over Yockenthwaite Moor. One of the checkpoints has been moved since we last recced the route – the last time we did The Fellsman we had to take a long looping route into this checkpoint but now we know how to find it directly. The wind was almost as strong as just as cold but behind us when we were high on the moors on the spring sunshine. We saw the first lambs of the year, the daffodils were out in profusion and we saw, perhaps, a dozen lapwings enjoying the sunshine and the wind.
I’ll replace the 4 mile loop through Horwich with one of a similar length on Foxholes Road to add a bit more climbing before Winter Hill on Saturday. On Sunday we are planning on having a run round the Great Langdale Skyline and, unlike last week, I’ll take a camera. I need to get a few 70+ weeks and push the climbing total up to and beyond 10,000 feet. Compared with this time last year I feel stronger, not having torn a calf muscle helps a bit, of course, and the “festive season fat” has gone. The “Joss Naylor” support teams are coming together and I am waiting on just a couple of people confirming details but next up, at the beginning of April, is a self-supported “Cumbrian Traverse” with Keith and Gary Murray who are both helping on my “Joss”. I’ll get some details on here as soon as they are firm.
Saturday was the final run in my first pair of Montrail Highlanders (Orange & Grey model (2008?)). With 538 miles on the studs they have done pretty well. Comfortable straight from the box with a high toe rand for good protection I have enjoyed running in them from the first day, Easter Sunday on a short run over Winter Hill with Pauline. By last Saturday the studs were worn flat on the toes and heels of both shoes – making steep descents more entertaining than necessary – and the rest of the studs were reduced to about a third of their original length. The rand on the left shoe had been punctured are ripped a while ago and finally the midsoles seem to be nearly completely collapsed so that it felt like I was running in bare feet. Finishing Saturday’s 21 miles with sore feet convinced me there were no more miles left in the shoes.
I have another pair of the 2008 model ready to replace them and I’ll buy another pair at the first opportunity – they may be a little heavy for a racing shoe and they may not be as aggressive as a ‘true fell shoe’ but they are fantastic training shoes.
Last Week: 31.2 miles; 1900 feet; 4:45:54. Ave of last 2 weeks: 62.0 miles; 8500 feet; 08:42:38
Pretty quiet week with 3 short sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday evening before the track on Tuesday night. Usually I run there and back to squeeze in a few more miles but I accepted a lift from Pauline and then used the first few reps as a warm up. By the end my legs were tired but I felt better than expected suggesting the short recovery runs were worthwhile. Wednesday and Thursday mornings were pretty good and I should probably have stopped then. Last night’s hill session would have hard anyway but by the last few hundred metres I had nothing left to run with, I would probably have quicker walking the final stages.
Last Saturday morning approaching the final stages
Photo is courtesy of “ndhphoto” and he has others here http://www.flickr.com/photos/22807105@N08/sets/72157614915063280/
Others here, on the Dark Peak website http://www.dpfr.org.uk/album/2009/HPM/index.php
Looks like more peat bogs with a return to the more familiar ones on Winter Hill on Saturday. On Sunday we are going to the dales for a recce from near Fleet Moss to Cray. The last time we did The Fellsman in 2005 we got this section a bit wrong. No errors, as such, but a check point had been relocated and hadn’t time to recce the new route so we followed the one we knew, longer and slower.
Albert Sunter and I joined Andy Howie and Geoff Pettengell in The Rucksack Club “Youngsters” Vets team for our 23:32 start. The forecast was for a dry, still night but it rained all the way from Bolton to Edale so Albert and I weren’t optimistic. Away on time and the climb to Hollins Cross proved wearing our spare clothing was a mistake – it was too warm, even in the breeze blowing over the tops. The one minute between team starts is very short and the initial climb is a procession of head torches snaking away up into the sky. With the “warm up” over, Hallam Moors passed pretty quickly and the food stop at Moscar arrived almost before we were ready for it. A short stop with most of the food eaten on the way to the next checkpoint, the romantically named “Cutthroat Bridge”. The crossing of Derwent Moors went fairly quickly, the clag wasn’t too severe and the ground was still pretty good, dry’ish and firm.
Leaving Howden Dean marks the start of Howden Moors, the start of some very difficult route finding and the worst ground of the entire 40 miles. For the next three to four hours the clag worsened, the temperature dropped (by two o’clock we had donned the clothing removed at Hollins Cross) and continues to drop until by 4 o’clock it is barely enough to keep up warm. The last two to three hours before dawn take us across a pathless, trackless, completely featureless, flooded peat bog that had been frozen all year, until about a week ago. Where the water wasn’t ankle deep it was knee deep and we took it in turns to get stuck. For some of this section we were with two or three other teams and one after the other we tried to run fast enough to pull away from the other two. One by one we gave up because, inevitably, each attempt came unstuck as one or more runners got stuck in the bog. Around here we found out why teams of four are required – Andy went in thigh deep and it took the three of us to pull him out!
By Swain Stones it was coming light and the ground began to improve but the clag more or less prevented visibility from improving to any significant degree. The rain had blown away and I think our mood was probably improving as the sky got brighter. Just Bleaklow and then Snake Summit for some food and drink. “Just Bleaklow” – I don’t think any of thought “just Bleaklow” but we reached Bleaklow Stones without any real trouble and, along with another team, had no trouble in leaving in the wrong direction. It is rumoured there is a magnetic variation in the peat capable of turning a compass needle by 180 degrees but it may be we just made a mistake and left in the wrong direction. By the time we all realised and agreed we had gone wrong we were unable to locate ourselves which meant all compass bearings were going to be very approximate. The two teams having agreed about being wrong then set off in different directions to get to the same place and we never saw each other again until we had finished. This coupled with a few failed attempts to find Wain Stones probably added a couple of miles to the jaunt and, perhaps, half an hour to our time.
Snake Summit check point had warm orange juice and flap jack to die for. Replete, we set off for the last section. Andy’s legs were cramping on every descent until, eventually, the painkillers began to work and this probably cost us a bit of time. Geoff’s near continuous “Can we just jog, a bit?” kept us moving but if it hadn’t been Andy it might have been Albert whose left knee wasn’t enjoying every bit of this. The clouds blew away so that we could enjoy the views, in bright sunshine, from Kinder. Leaving Brown Knoll it looked as though we might, possibly, catch the team in front. This was enough for Andy and, cramp or no cramp, our pace began to increase until we caught them. The next 2.5 miles over Lord’s Seat were an “eye balls out” race – not fast, you realise, but no less competitive – until we reached Hollins Cross the first and last checkpoint ahead of them. Just the final descent, the awful half mile on the road and the final run across the car park to finish in 12:39:23 and complete the toughest race I have done.
Provisional results put us 26th of 50 starting teams. The winning team finished in under 9 hours. The first vets team were fifth overall, about two hours ahead of us.
Last Week: 92.7 miles; 15100 feet; 23:31:38
My training week starts on a Saturday and so the HPM falls in last week. Knowing this, I was tempted to add a couple of easy sessions but I thought Friday night would be a tough one (I didn’t know how hard) and that the rest days would do me more good – I am sure they did.
Last Week: 50.7 miles; 7600 feet; 10:52:25
This is going to end up being an odd week. Starts off fine, steady 17 miles over Winter Hill on Saturday morning. Ground is very soft and I am trying to get rid of a bit of a cold so I am not concerned, too much, about my pace. Legs feel OK almost all of the way round and I am climbing OK. By the end my chest is a bit tight but otherwise I seem fine and am happy about another 19 or so miles in the Lakes on Sunday. Sunday’s run went well, some parts of the route (Joss Naylor Challenge, start of leg 1) I needed to reminded myself of – like getting out of the caravan park! The weather wasn’t conducive to a fast run, soft ground and a second consecutive long run all suggested “steady” was required. This also provided an opportunity for Pauline to practise some route finding and compass work. Navigation isn’t, yet, for her hill skills but a training course at the end of the summer is going to rectify that.
Not needing many more miles this week I went out on Tuesday morning and then to the track session on Tuesday night to complete my running week. Monday, Wednesday and today all seemed odd. Fit and healthy but not running. I find more than one rest day a week a bit unsettling and I don’t really like tapering before long runs but it has to be done. The reason it has to be done this week is Friday’s High Peak Marathon (http://www.highpeakclub.union.shef.ac.uk/hpm/). Having been a member the HRMI Vets team that didn’t get a place because the race is oversubscribed I couldn’t avoid a place in the Rucksack Club “Youngsters” team. A further vacancy means Albert Sunter joins us. The 40 mile overnight race starts on Friday night and so is part of this week’s running – not training because I don’t think Andy Howie (team organiser) sees this a training run;I think seeing a race as a training session for the next race isn’t part of his philosophy.
The weather looks as though it just might be cold enough and with fresh snow last night conditions might just be good enough to make it enjoyable but I will let you know either way.
We have had a look at the end of the first leg a couple of times so today we went to have a look at the start with John Swift. We helped John last year on his “Joss” and had a great time doing so. We were all out yesterday so today was always going to be at a ‘steady’ pace. We had anticipated a dry sunny day (Saturday’s forecast) but we had a cold wind that brought snow (briefly), hail and freezing rain before it blew away the clouds for a short while. The contrast was too great for the camera to cope with much of the time and so I ‘lost’ the sky in a number of the photos.
Signs of Spring in the Valley
Late Afternoon Sun across Ullswater
John and Pauline on Kidsty Pike
High Street from Kidsty Pike