Hello, I'm Stuart and I like to run a long way.
Welcome to my blog, here I'll try to keep you up to date with my challenges, adventures and training.

I competing in Ultra distance running, adventure racing, and a variety of other events. I hold a few records in the UK, and in 2012 ran 1100 miles over the Alps, from Vienna to Nice.

I am raising funds for Water for Kids, a small charity with the simple purpose of ensuring that the world's poorest communities have clean water.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Little Alps Run!

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 the Buvette

Back down to Samoens

At the top (Mont Blanc behind)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Last race of the year...

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 Spence from Team Accelerate, but as we hit the deep snow on the way up towards the ski centre, it was hard to pass anyone without putting in a huge effort. The loop around Helvellyn was pretty snowy most of the way round, and after what felt like a fast first third I now felt a bit carp, and dangled 50m or so behind Dave for a long time! During the climb Kim Collison came past looking like there wasn't any snow on the ground, he was flying. At the far end of the course I was really cold, because I hadn't stopped when I should have I now needed to take a while to put gloves on and eat, and I felt lost a bit of time here.

Now on the way back, I slowed down for a while (losing sight of Dave) but then got going again. Along the forest tracks I put maximum effort in, only to find I had taken a wrong turn and dropped too low, and having to climb again! Back onto the lollipop "handle" there were just two checkpoints to go, I felt the end was in sight, the snow had relented and I was running ok again. I passed a few more people who had started before me, and eventually ran into the finish in 7 hrs 24, which turned out to be 8th place. Kim won in 6:05.

I was pretty disappointed in this, I hoped that I might manage top 5 and around 6:30 - 7 hours. Dave finished in 7:35, and Bruce and Alex came in after me, but having started before me I was beaten by Bruce. Despite this it was a fantastic race, and one I will certainly be back to improve at!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Elite is a scary word!

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...

University of Sheffield Elite Sport
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 around 14th May.
  • Some ****** stole my bike from outside the Mappin Building on Portobello Street, Sheffield. If you spot a Yeti ARC with AXON forks looking suspicous I would be grateful if you would let me know.
  • It looks like I will be racing Raid in France again in 2012. This is brilliant news as it's the World Championships.
  • I have been asked to speak at the ShAFF (Sheffield Adventure Film Festival) in March. More on this to come, but again sounds fantastic, and hopefully a good opportunity for publicity!

Blood and Woofs

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 places, got frustrated, consequently fell a couple more times, and finished the race in 11th, a bloody boggy knackered mess after losing a sprint finish with team mate Matt Hulley. We did at least win the team prize though, which was great.

After cleaning up and a few days' recovery, my legs looked like this:

Straight after the Roaches race presentation, we had the Runfurther series presentation. This year we unfortunately didn't have a nighttime party event like we have in the past, but it was good to catch up with everyone, confirm my 10th place in the series and look forward to next year's races!

So, what has been going on to keep me so busy for a month? Training, PhD-ing and whatever else I do obviously, but also a new arrival into the family...

She's called Dolly and is a 6 month-old Labrador/Terrier/Whippet mixture dog-type creature... She's a rescue dog (from Rain Rescue in Rotherham), so we are still unsure of her past and certain things seem to scare her, but she will make a great training partner!