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.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Step by step...

It's been a busy couple of weeks... Last weekend I was out recceing the High Peak Marathon with the guys from Avon Mountain Athletes, who I'm racing with on 3rd March. We had a great run out and found a couple of sneaky little routes, which might save us a few minutes come race day (night).

The next day I was up at Whirlow Hall Farm to help with some photos and videos for the Big Running Weekend, which is happening this August Bank Holiday. There's going to be an ultra, a 10k, a trail race, beer and camping... What more could you ask for! The website will be up at www.bigrunningweekend.co.uk, with videos of me and Lisa from Whirlow Hall Farm trotting about on Stanage.

This weekend I took part in the first official stair race in Sheffield. I was one of the runners in the British Heart Foundation Arts Tower race, which involved us running from the lower ground floor up to the top 22 floors later. I went for a practice on Friday and found that you need to take two steps at a time, and use the handrails as much as possible! Oh, and that it REALLY hurts. On race day I was a couple of seconds slower (got excited and set off too fast), but got to the top in 1:54, which I believe was the fastest on the day.

Finally, the latest issue of Trail Running magazine is out now and I would encourage you to read it! I have done a quick interview which will appear in the next issue, which will be out on 22nd May, just after I set off.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Ultra Running and Beyond...

Thursday night was the ShAFF "Ultra Running and Beyond..." night. The event was basically a question and answer session, and 70 people turned up to ask us about anything from shoes and food to just "WHY?!". I am told that feedback has been good so I think people enjoyed the night. Hopefully some people were inspired to have a go at their first ultra!

Picture from Accelerate (facebook page) - by James Kirby
I was a panellist, alongside Caz Bullard, Dan Shrimpton and Nik Cook. Stuart Hale of Accelerate organised and introduced the night, and Claire Maxted of Trail Running Magazine was our compare. The boss of the whole ShAFF thing, Matt Heason, was also there. The event was supported by New Balance, many thanks to them for the very fancy Minimus shoes, can't wait to try them but I just don't want to get them dirty

We talked about loads of things, and it was great for me to hear the opinions of the other panellists. I think I probably came across as the most un-scientific of the four of us in terms of things like nutrition and training plans, and perhaps I will try some of the suggestions from the other guys.

The only disappointing thing was that I didn't promote the Big Alps Run as much as I would've liked. I had hoped that the night could be the "launch" of BAR, but I now think I will do this on 14th February, which will be exactly three months before I start.

The Peak District was beautiful today, but very icy! Not a problem for the paragliders though, they seemed to be having a fantastic time. We took the dog for a walk around Stanage Edge then I had a good run along the edge path past Lodge Moor and Crosspool.

More photos from today on my Flickr... here

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Open 5 - Warcop

Sunday was my second Open 5 of the year. It went marginally better than the last one, ie. nothing went mechanically wrong! The event was based at the Warcop military training centre, a place which you can't normally access, so it was pretty cool to be there. Whilst out on the course I saw lots of old military hardware and blokes in camouflage hiding in the grass, and the odd crack of gunfire kept us on our toes!

Picture from James Kirby / Open Adventure
The snow had arrived, as predicted, at 2pm on Saturday. By the time Lucy Harris and I arrived at the hostel in Kirby Stephen it was about -3, and certainly felt like it remained so throughout the night in the Team Accelerate bedroom! Sunday was sunny, with a little fog on the tops, and snow high up. The course had been designed so that you could get a fair few points without going too high, but I think most people did anyway. I set off on the bike first, and went west for a reasonably successful loop through CPs 4, 3, 1, 2, out and back to 5, then 6 where I met Lucy Harris and Adam Marcinowicz for a while. Then we set off up the hill towards Long Fell and CP20. The climb was hard and long but good fun. After the checkpoint near the top I was still with Adam, and we headed up to the top, then east to CP16. So far so good. This descent is where the picture above was taken, in a rare moment of control!

Then, we tried to head for CP19. This is where things started to go wrong, with hindsight we should definitely have turned south at CP16. We lost about half an hour not finding the paths across the top before giving up and cutting across to CP15. I was now eating into my run time, but decided to get the high-pointers near the finish (12, 13, 9). I headed into transition after about 3 hours 35, with 290 points.

On the run, I set off west to pick up CPs 27, 29, 30 and 33. I got these without too much trouble, although my legs did take a while to get going properly. I then headed up to 39, losing maybe 5-10 minutes on the way up as I climbed the wrong hill (Middle Plantation), but thankfully realised before it was too late and cut back across. From there I knew it would be tough, a long climb up to Musgrave Scarth and CP38. I managed to run the whole climb and felt good at the top! I have marked the map wrong at this point, I actually climbed straight up to 36, then back down to 37. I was debating cutting straight across from 38 to 37, but although I was short of time, thought I would probably mess up the nav so headed up... From 36 I really had to step it up a gear and try to get back in time in order not to lose any of my 150 run points. It was always going to be hard, and despite throwing myself down the gap through the out of bounds area as fast as I could I finished about six minutes late, losing 12 points. I finished with 440, so ended up with 428. Having set off at the same time as me, Adam took a much more sensible run route, stayed slightly lower, got loads more points, and was back in time.

The problem I have with this type of event is that I just can't navigate well enough to be running or biking as fast as possible, so whilst on long climbs or sections between controls I can crack on a bit, I get passed again by all those people who can read a map! Congratulations to the rest of Team Accelerate - Dan was 2nd male solo, Dave and Nick 2nd male pair, and Lucy took her second female solo win... Looking good for the series now!