Sunday, 31 March 2013



I’ve been deliberately not entering races much of late and concentrating just on consistent quality miles (80% off road with hills and mud) , cross training and shifting the flab. So I don’t quite know how I end up with a race every weekend in March but I kinda liked the fact they were all progressively longer and tougher. The idea of course was to still train between and run them on weary legs building up the endurance I need for the big summer races. .

Glaisdale Rigg, Fell race North Yorks Moors, 3rd March
8.5m/1844 '
Like all good fell races the race starts at a pub in this case the Arncliffe Arms in the N. York Moors  It then takes some of the steepest roads I've ever run (well fast walked) up and out of the village before heading onto the moors.

From then on we seemed to continue climbing with only the odd descent for about 6 miles. Have to say  I have to say I was still struggling a fair bit and felt like I had legs of lead which isn’t surprising as I’d run Alnwick cross country (feeling decidedly unwell ) the day before.  It wasn't till probably the last climb I finally got things together and felt like I was running ok.

Fair flew down the track barely keeping myself upright and managed to pass a half a dozen runner (like I do when a race is over!). I was hoping the clarty track came out at the pub finish as I couldn't keep that pace up much longer but these always have a sting in the tail and it came out at a small bridge over a stream with the finish a short sharp steep muddy uphill climb away.
Great race taking in a part of the moors I've never seen before and a nice pint of black sheep in the pub after.

Loch Katrine Marathon March 10th
I’ve blogged about this in the last blog but in brief I used fairly new shoes. Come 15 miles my feet started to hurt and then slowly go worse over the next two miles till not only could I not run but I could not even stand up. The pain was incredible and I could not even walk a few hundred metres to a marshal point, had to be collected and helped in and out of the car. My feet were swollen and sore but I had no blisters. Everything pointed to the shoes being the culprit as incredulous as it may seem. Of course I had to run the D33 to find out.
However as I said, it’s in the previous blog so a bit about the race.

Well what a marathon!  Probably the hilliest and most beautiful road marathons I’ve ever taken part in. An out and back race heading out along the North side of the loch and half way round to the south side wasn’t really expecting the hill as I hadn’t done any research into the race but i loved them. Very well organised and marshalled race.

 Should have guess from this sign it wasn't going ot be flat !

Unfortunately this was a one of race to raise funds for to Alzheimer’s research but I know everyone who was involved would love to see it on again.

A friend posted a comment that I take all these knocks in my stride. It’s not that, it’s that I just don’t see it as a knock. Shit happens as they say and it’s how you deal with it that matters. It was still a nice 17 miles hilly training run.

D33, 33 miles 0 '  :-)   March 16th

When this race was first put together a few years ago I still had a broken foot so I marshalled, riding a bike as sweeper. It was a fairly small affair then with 96 runners. I said at the time, I’d hate the course (really don’t like flat and straight) and I’d never run it. Now in 2013 it’s grown too its limit if 350 runners and George Reid and Karen Doughnut have turned it into a very slick no nonsense race with a very real community feel.

Never is a long time though and with George and his good lady Karen (race Director of the Cateran trail) both injured I hadn’t been catching up with them at races lately and it did fit in well with the training. I had Loch Katrine marathon the week before, this then Hardmoors 55 a week later so decent 3 weeks of runs for the summer hundreds. Stayed at Georges and as per usual drank way too much down the pub catching up also as per usual. I’ll never learn.

Decided more or less on the start line that I’d run 3 hours out and 3hrs back. My thinking was that would be a reasonably pace to have my legs in good condition for next week’s Hardmoors 55 (that will take 3 times as long). I always find this flat hard packed surface wrecks my legs much more than the hills and fells so I also wanted to be fairly careful with them.
Last four years finishes beers bottles.

The race itself was uneventful. I chatted to loads of old friends for most of the first 10 -12 miles probably a bit too fast. Then it was me either passing friends or them passing me. I don’t normally like out and backs either but coming into the turn around half way point it is fun to see how the fast lads and my faster friends are doing. This was also the mile last week at Loch Katrine mara that the foot issues stared. Luckily no sign of them so i guess it was the shoes after all. That's a relief as i've had enough foot issues in recent years.

Have to say I enjoyed the course far more than I thought I would as well. The Deeside way was put back together by the local authority but some has been built on so here and there it takes a turn or country road to join everything back up. This is much better for my head as I really have a problem with long straight stuff and it’s why I rarely train on our railway paths.

I’d settled into 10 minute mile pace and was happy with that as I felt I could run forever that way. The rain started to come down but it wasn’t too bad and was soon nearing the end. The last 6 miles are brand new tarmac path and although I hadn’t really noticed it on the way out as I was too busy chatting, now on my own it seemed to go on and on.

Had to laugh at the sign post that says 3 miles to Duthie Park (the start and finish), then a mile along the path is another still saying 3 miles and yep you guessed it so does the third one further down. Into the park and finish about 30 minutes quicker than I intended but job done and legs in fine fettle. A good days racing and it’s nice to have a good one in the bag after a few poor ones just recently.

The medals for this race are always very special always different every year, handmade from natural materials by craftrocks ( ), run by friend of the race and also the race photography Annette.
 Rockcrafts beautiful medals
except the first one-thats was a chocolate medal :-)

Her Husband Mike was fifth in the race and a dark horse for a placing at the West Highland Way race this year. In the goody bag is another bottle of D33 beer made by the local brew dog brewery, another great tradition of this race and a lovely beer.

Wonderful get together after seeing loads of mates and fish and chip for breakfast down Stonehaven harbour in the morning.

Hardmoors 55 , North York Moors 53 miles (slighly shortened course due to not being able to get a marshal onto the white horse bank. )

I’ve run this race before  but even so  going into a  55 mile , 6000ft ascent hill race with weary legs is tough even under normal circumstances but I reckoned I’d get around with the minimum of fuss and log the miles into my big races day legs. This year the race was run from Guisborough to Helmsley (ie the opposite way round to normal)

It wasn’t normal circumstances though. Not by a very long way. 

As the race approached so did the severe weather warnings. The forecast for heavy snow kept changing to being right on top of the race to just skirting it. The high winds were a given though. Wanting to be nearer the start as I was bus marshal, someone to keep the RD Jon informed what was happening I booked into Osmotherly YH. Met up with some other runners who had mentioned they’d bring the beer. I’d really not paid that much attention and was keen not to repeat the pre D33 night with George. However Charlotte and Alison had other ideas. Charlotte is would seem has her own microbrewery in her cellar and heck her beer would be the envy of a lot of master brewers. Armed with a dozen bottles of the most excellent beer I was held captive and forced to try a variety of her stock. ;-)  .Then we talked about running and tits. That’s beer, running and breasts with the footy on in the background and England scoring goals for fun. Sometimes the gods just smile upon you.   I don’t know how this stuff happens to me. You couldn’t make it up!  

So slightly groggy we head for the start and Sutton bank is closed due to snow. Slow journey and some frantic phone calls I manage to get someone else to hold the buses. Amazingly just down the road at the finish there is no snow at all! It’s more or less the same at the start.
Strict kit checks and pre-race no nonsense inspiring talk form RD Jon Steele about the hard time we would undoubtedly have in the coming hours and we were off.

Well the rest were. I dropped an inner glove I’d just bought the day before and went back for it. Unfortunately it had disappeared but running food owner Tim had another pair that he offered and I am so glad I took them. so had a fair while to catch the others up but nice chat with our amazing sweeper David. So the race:

Easy enough 13 miles to Kildale as we were still in the east but looking out to our path to the west the sky looked like Mordor. On roseberry toping , the only out and back I took the opportunity to take as many photos of the runners as possible for the FB group and website. Probably lost a fair bit of time but time wasn’t really important just the miles. 

From Kildale the fun started. Slow climb to one of the highest moorlands in the UK , Bloworth crossing

The only word to describe this 5-6 mile section was brutal. 

It was already sub-zero temperatures down in the village. Up here on the moor with 30 -40 miles per hour winds bring the wind-chill temp down to estimates of -15/20. The trail is deep snow in places and the wind constantly blowing the snow from  moors onto us made very tough going. My weary legs are feeling this already and that’s not good so early in a race. 

I’d bought a balaclava the day before and so glad I did. However at one point I couldn’t tuck it into my jacket and couldn’t understand why until I realised it was completely frozen to my neck and rock solid.  Unzipped the jacket and tucked it in along with my bladder pipe which was also frozen and had to keep it there for the whole race. I took the odd photo for the website but these were the last. It was just too dangerous to have un-gloved hands

What seemed like an age and we were finally off. Dave and Darren were at the next Marshal station and I told Dave just how weary my legs felt.

Long climb up clay bank followed by a series of steep long climbs and descents. The wind was still biting hard but the running was easier. Where the trail was stone slabs the ice made them lethal and the slabs steps more so. 

However I was soon over and heading to Scarth moor and Osmotherly. Here Dave and Darren popped up again and I’m not sure how weary I must have looked but Dave asked me if I would finish.

Into the warm village hall where Anna was helping out there and she was quick to give coffee. On the race the normal way round the first 20 miles are considered relatively easy and i was thinking even though my legs were knackered this section (now the last 20 ) would at least help. I could not have been more wrong again.

Slow slog climb out of Osmotherly joined by two other runners Gwyn and Paul. Paul had a bit of an injury but we all climbed up together.  I was asked the way a few times but I really could not remember due to running it the other way round. Once I got to a point it usually came back and it is usually straight forward and well signed. 

Then we hit he snow and high winds again. If anything it was worse than Bloworth crossing and a real battle. I felt a little guilty moving on a bit now as I knew the lads I was with would have liked my course knowledge with them but I was simply getting too cold and as night  descended it felt even colder. In fact I doubt I’ve ever been that cold even with 3 layers on and a thick jacket I bought for UTMB. For a good section my double gloved hands were very cold and I had them in my pockets head down against the wind.

For the first time I thought about my micro fleece in the backpack along with some hand warmers which I’ve had years and never used but putting them on would have meant stopping and taking he jacket off so I didn’t. Came across another runner who was heading onto the moors but managed to grab him and put him on the right track. Now huge snowdrifts filed the trail and I was forced to climb higher into the exposed wind and along the edge of a field at black Hambleton heading towards Sutton bank. The snow had obliterated the landmarks but I knew just to stay on the edge of the escapement and I had to come to Sutton bank.
Once there Tim form race sponsor running foods had some chia charge drink made up and I drank deep. Fair play to Tim and John Vernon who popped up helping out all over the place. Much appreciated. I heard later their 4 wheel drive truck had to be dug out.

From Sutton Bank I knew we’d be out the wind and headed off quick. Met another runner Steve (lakeland 100 finisher) who’s knee was playing up and ran in with him. I think I said I’ve never wanted to finish a race so much in my life!.
As I arrived at the finish Jon was in the car park and I said, you Bastard, that wasn’t a race, that was a full on battle!.

Still that’s how memories are made and the extra effort on already tired legs should do me some good. 

Few days later i ran 19.5 miles with matt from I'm premier league to well and truely  finish the legs off  but it's been a good month.Now it's back to consitant training with only a few fells to run. Now only 9 weeks to the first race that matters.


  1. Hardmoors sounds brutal, huge well done for finishing! you mustve recovered really well to run with Matt so soon, onwards and upwards into to them hills! x