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Showing posts from 2011

Little Alps Run!

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At the moment I'm over in France with the family, staying in Villa Monette skiing from the village of Samoens. Today I took a day off the slopes and went for a run for a couple of hours. It was great to get up out of the village on foot for a change, and I set off up a mountain called Le Criou, which we climbed in the summer.

I ran along the road out to the village Vallon-en-Haut, then set off up the hill from about 700m. After an hour of winding through the woods I reached the hamlet Trot. No-one lives here during the winter, but there is a tiny "Buvette" (little shop/cafe which is occasionally open at weekends in the summer), which looked as though it had been left just a couple of hours ago - tablecloths still on tables and things hanging on the walls!

It was a great little run, the snow was only about a foot deep at worst, and the view was amazing all the way up and down, but especially from Trot where I could see mountains all around, including Mont Blanc.

Trot and t…

Last race of the year...

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Last weekend I was in the Lakes for my last event of 2011, and one I'd been looking forward to since missing it last year... the Tour de Helvellyn, organised my Joe Faulkner and Nav4.

The race started on a cold but clear morning in Askham, with start times between 7 and 9am. Milling around before the start I spotted a few very fast-looking people, including Kim Collison, Bruce Duncan, and last year's winner Alex Pilkington. I started at 8:45, with about four or five people still in the hall, including all the above. The weather was good at the start and the ground was icy, but as we climbed the first hill I felt like I was moving well (first long run since slicing my knee a few weeks ago) and passed a fair few people.

The route was a lollipop shape, with a long run out, loop up and around the Helvellyn range, then the same run back in. By the time I hit the loop section I was going well and had not yet been passed by anyone from behind. I had just about caught up with Dave Spe…

Elite is a scary word!

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I found out a week or so ago that I have been accepted onto the University of Sheffield's Elite Sport Performance Scheme. This means I get a free gym membership and help and advice on training from the Sports team. The scheme can also help discuss time off with the University if required, although my PhD supervisor has been really great up to now so fingers crossed this won't be necessary! It's nice to be able to represent the University, and I am very grateful to those who support the ESPS financially in order to allow us to follow our dreams...

I have never spent much time (any time that should be!) in a gym before now, but I think it will be very useful. I have been using static bikes for warm up and down, then focusing on leg press type strength machines, as well as rowing and static weights.

And finally for now, some more news in brief...
Big Alps Run planning is reaching a critical point... Booking flights and getting things sorted. I am planning to start on something …

Blood and Woofs

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I've been really busy for the last month or so, so haven't written anything on here. Apparently it's now nearly christmas, so here's a quick update on what's been going on (split over a couple of posts)!

The weekend after the Dark Peak Club Championships I was over in Staffordshire for the Roaches fell race. A 15 mile out-and-back race from Meerbrook Village hall, I was warned by regulars beforehand that the first (and therefore last) few fields were horribly boggy and slurry-ish. They weren't joking! Anyway, the race went quite well to begin with, and half way to the turnaround I was about 4th. The guy in front and I took a slight wrong turn and lost a couple of places, but then caught most of them back. However, it then all went a bit wrong... Coming down an off-camber descent in the woods I slid and tumbled over onto some gritstone rocks. These were like a cheesegrater on both knees, my right arm and left hand. To cut a long story short I lost a couple of pl…

Lizzy Hawker stops "Sky Dance" run

One final thing (three posts today!)...

Lizzy Hawker has had to stop her 1000 mile run attempt. Hers is a bit more serious then mine - she was attempting to run the Great Himalayan Trail across Nepal. The run had to be stopped when she lost her communication equipment.

Lizzy is an incredible athlete, UTMB winner, world 24 hour record holder (she beat everyone in the mens and ladies' races by miles at the Commonwealth championships recently) and always seems a very calm and in control person. I hope I can approach my run with the same positivity as Lizzy always seems to show, although hopefully a different outcome!

Thule gold, Silva silver, Seagate bronze

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The Adventure Racing world championships in Tasmania have just finished. World championships are always longer than normal ARs, and the Thule team took 5 and a half days for this race. It sounds like a true epic, with Seagate leading throughout the race until they had to sit out a four hour penalty at the last checkpoint. At this point Thule overtook them, and Silva (who qualified for the world championships by winning the Apex race I took part in in May) squeezed past and held on to beat Seagate by just 4 minutes.

Lots of great reporting on Sleepmonsters.com


Next year the world championships will be held at the Raid in France. 6 days of hike-a-bike anyone?!

Dark Peak Club Championships

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This weekend was my first go at the Dark Peak Fell Runners (DPFR) club championships. The route was the Kinder triple crossing, starting and finishing at Edale.

Parts of the route were fairly straightforward, but the actual "crossings" over the boggy hell of Kinder Scout were less obvious. Not being a navigational expert I tried to stay within sight of the lead group on the first crossing, but as we spread out more and more during the race I struggled a bit and took some slightly dodgy lines, although I don't think I lost more than a minute or two overall.

The nine mile race was great, we seemed to either be running along a river, through a bog, or up or down a steep hill at all times. The winner of the race was Rob Little, who was handed the trophy in typical fell running style (in a carrier bag with an apology for "the faff of carrying it about"). I finished about 7 minutes later in 12th place, reasonably happy if not ecstatic with the position, but a great ra…

Nice to be back!

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It's been a while since I last posted, mainly due to moving house and the lack of internet. It's great to be back in Sheffield, having the Peak District on my doorstep again is fantastic!


Last weekend was the bi-annual Bob Graham 24 hour club reunion dinner, where the members of the Pudsey & Bramley travelling circus were presented with our certificates... It now hangs next to my degree certificate, and I can't decide which took more effort to achieve!

I also had a really good run while I was in the lakes. Having missed the entry deadline for Langdale I decided to go "Wainwright bagging", and had a great afternoon up and around the High Street area. The total was 9 Wainwrights in the end, in about 14 miles. It was pretty spectacular to be up there at sunset. I had heard these deer from a long way off, and finally saw them (appropriately enough) on Deer Fell.


It's the WfK AGM on friday and I have just sent Carey some posters to put up, so hopefully they wi…

The hedges of the peak district

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Last weekend's High Peak 40 was not my greatest race. I travelled to Buxton on Friday night, planning to stay in the van overnight ready for the race on Saturday. Unfortunately it would seem that driving slowly late at night near a school attracts attention, and after looking for somewhere to stop for a while I was stopped by the police! After being breathalysed and told to drive less eratically I carried on and found a quiet road to stop on.

Anyway, the next day was the race. The HP40 is quite flat, with no big ups and downs. The terrain is also pretty hard (hard like tarmac, not hard like difficult), making it a relatively fast race. This means it's not my favourite race, but I had been feeling pretty good before the start, and decided that I would like to have a good go at winning a race. So when the pace wasn't too fast off the start I moved to the front, passed Martin Beale and set off into the unknown!


At checkpoint 1 I was, for the first time ever, the first person …

Raid in France Adventure Race

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It's taken a while, but here's a report on the Raid in France... There's also a video here

Before the Apex race in May, I said it would by my first and last expedition race. It didn't quite go to plan, but it was a very memorable introduction to long races and I decided maybe one more...
So I found myself in Buis le Baronnies in the south of France at the end of August, preparing for the 2011 Raid in France. I was to be racing with Dave Spence, Caz Bullard and Kev Honeyset, so I would definately be the least experienced member of the team! We arrived in Buis a couple of days before the start, and passed the time building bikes, shopping (mainly for cake), practicing our rope ascending and arguing with the event organisers over whether our candles were big enough. Sadly they were not and we had to get new candles.
The race was advertised as a “Back to Nature” event, part of which meant that we would not have access to our kit barrels very often. A very complicated syst…

Well that was fun! The 2011 Rolex Fastnet Race

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Clearly the Fastnet is quite different to any of the other racing I have been doing recently. For any runners reading, here is an explanation (this is what I have been told anyway, as I am not exactly an old sea dawg myself)...

The Fastnet is one of the classic ocean yacht races. The start is from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the route most boats then follow is along the south west coast of England, around the Lizard, throught the gap between Land's End and the Isles of Scilly, then turn and head for the south coast of Ireland, where at the western end is a small rock with a lighthouse on it - predictably called Fastnet Rock. After rounding the rock boats head back towards the Scillies, this time around the south of the islands, then east along the coast to finish in Plymouth. I was taking part in the race on a 40 ft yacht called Wild Spirit, with the eight other crew. Finishing times are anything between sub-48 hours for the fastest multi hull boats to nine days for the smaller b…

Final preperations...

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Tomorrow I set off towards the Fastnet, then after that it's a quick few days at home, then off to Les Baronnies Provencales in the South of France for the Raid in France race. It's all very exciting! I have spent the last week training, packing and preparing for both, and everything is pretty much ready, including my fully AR-ed up bike...
You can follow my progress in each race online:
For the Fastnet - I am on board "Wild Spirit", in IRC class 4. http://fastnet.rorc.org/2011-fleet-tracking.html
During the Raid in France, look for "Team Accelerate", here http://chrono.geofp.com/rif2011/

In sickness and in health... Long Tour of Bradwell

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Yesterday was the Long Tour of Bradwell, my third counter in the Vasque Ultra Series this year (the others being Wuthering Hike, Lakeland 100 and High Peak 40). Being the week after the 100 my legs were still feeling a bit battered by thursday and I wasn't sure whether I was going to run or not, but it was a good excuse to go see people in Sheffeld on friday night.

So, with predictable slight hangovers Lorna and I arrived at Bradwell Sports Pavillion. After a cup of coffee, registering and all that malarkey it was soon 9 o'clock and I was standing with everyone else ready to go. We set off straight up a slight hill, first on the road then up through the cement works. Everyone set off at a fair pace, but perhaps not as stupidly fast as last year. Four of us were running together as the climb levelled off, then steepened. Unfortunately I had started with my waterproof on which turned out to be a bad plan and I was soon boiling, so had to stop to take it off. Luckily I caught the…

No rain and free socks... a successful weekend!

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Last weekend was the Lakeland 100. After a disappointing Pudsey 10k I wasn't sure I was going to have a good run, I'm finding it very hard to tell how fit I am at the moment so every race is a bit of a mystery!

Anyway, I was looking forward to L100, it's a fantastic race. The combined L100 and L50 had over 600 entries this year, with 224 of us attempting the 105 (!) miler.

After a briefing with the race organisers and some inspirational words from Joss Naylor we started at 5:30pm on Friday, off into a pretty warm evening. From Coniston we set off up Walna Scar Road, and the pace was pretty high. Everyone knows that this happens in every race and that hanging back and moving through the field later is the sensible thing to do, but of course I didn't do this. You can see me somewhere in this picture as we make our way up out of Coniston...


The first leg was 7 miles to Seathwaite and it was good to finally be going, and to have a chat to Adam Perry and a few other guys. A…

NEW - donate by text!

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Exciting news - you can now donate to the Big Alps Run by text!

Just text ALPS70 £5 to 70070 to send a fiver straight to the charity. You can choose any amount - £1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10.

Mad Sunday

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This weekend has nearly been a de-ja-vous of one a couple of years ago, when I wrote

"This country has been busy achieving in the field of sporting endevour this weekend, with Lewis Hamilton returning to the podium after a disastrous first half of the F1 season, Mark Cavendish destroying the competition to win on the Champs-Elysees and Bradley Wiggins finishing 4th in the Tour de France.
The main arena of athletic excellence this weekend however, was of course the Pudsey 10k."


The only difference was that after a fall on stage 7 of this years Tour, Bradley Wiggins is at home with a broken collarbone...

Hamilton has not had a great start to the F1 season, but managed to win in Germany to put himself back into vague contention, although perhaps only for second place in the championship after Sebastian Vettel's spectacular run of results this year!

Cavendish again won on the Champs-Elysees, his fifth stage win this year. This year though, he also finally won the Green Je…

Pennine Way. Epic Fail.

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I will write this like one of those films where you get the ending first, then we go back to the start to see how we ended up there.

So, I didn't finish the Pennine Way. I stopped at Horton-in-Ribblesdale yesterday morning. Since getting home I have made good progress... I can now get up from chairs on my own, and no longer have to crawl down the stairs on my backside!

Wednesday 15th:
Got the train to Berwick-on-Tweed, then a taxi to Town Yetholm. Set up at the campsite, made some food and settled down for an early night at about 9pm. Forgot that I am actually in Scotland, hence midges! Nice campsite though.
Thursday 16th:
Set the alarm for 4am, tent packed away and ready to go by about half past (having fought with more midges) then wandered across the river to Kirk Yetholm and the start of the Pennine Way at 4:45.
So off I went, out of Yetholm in some slight drizzle and off on the 25 mile leg to Byrness. I was going north to south, so this is traditionally quite a hard last day for…

Pennine Way

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Ok, it looks like after the disappointment of the SWCP, I will be able to do the Pennine Way. Woohoo!

My window for getting in the lab for my project will be from next Tuesday, so the plan is to travel to Kirk Yetholm tomorrow night, start the PW on Thursday morning and finish in Edale on Sunday evening (or Monday?). The last minute-ness has meant it's all a bit dissorganised, so technically I don't actually have a map yet, hence I don't know exactly where I'm planning to stay...

The Pennine Way is 268 miles, and goes over more proper hills than I would've done on the SWCP. It's less than half the distance, but the days will be much longer so I'm actually expecting it to be tougher. It will be a good challenge though, and thanks to the people who have donated already.

So, the eating begins!
www.justgiving.com/bigalpsrun

A few bits I had forgotten...

Funny how you forget even the really good bits (eg. the zip line on the canyoning!)

APEX Race - Sleepmonsters / Likeys:
http://www.sleepmonsters.co.uk/racereport.php?race_id=8859&article_id=7145&page_count=1&page_action=rep

Lucy's APEX:
http://lucyharrisaccelerate.blogspot.com/2011/06/apex-race.html

After APEX...

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Well, that was interesting!

To save me spending hours and hours on here and you hours and hours reading my babbling, here is what happened...

We set off to on 21st May, flew into Zurich, delayed the Swiss travel system by loading and unloading our kit in Bern, and eventually arrived in Interlaken

Spent a few days building bikes, shopping, preparing and packing our bags


On Tues 24th we got the maps, and on the morning of 25th May the Prologue started... 4 x 90min sections. Our first section was the "Trotti Bikes", basically big scooters! We struggled a little with these, except JC who had used them before. Then, during the hottest part of the 30°C+ day we set off on parts 2 and 3 of the prologue, a 9km then an 11km off road run. We ran well and weren't too far behind the leaders in our group of teams. The final part of the prologue was rafting. This was non-competitive apart from a section in the middle when we were timed. It was my favourite part of the day, mainly becau…