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.

Sunday, 30 September 2012


Woohoo, finally! Yesterday Ian Symington and I crossed the line at the same time at the Hardmoors 60, my first win in an ultra.

The race is a sixty mile race along the second half of the Cleveland Way, from Guisborough to Filey. We stayed at Mum and Dad's the night before, and they came out on the day with Lorna and Dolly the dog - it was great to have some support along the course! Mum and Dad also took loads of photos, so I'll keep this short and include plenty of them...

 The start was delayed from 8 until half past (as most competitors were still in the toilet queue at 8 o'clock), but we were soon underway on the first section, from the Sea Cadets up into Guisborough Woods, then along through the woods to Slapewath then Skelton, and finally to Saltburn where we joined the coast, which we would follow for the rest of the day. The weather was perfect, not too hot but bright and sunny. I was running in about third place, behind two guys who I didn't know, but I knew there were fast people behind me like Ian, Jim Mann and Martin Beale. As we went through the first checkpoint at Saltburn I tried not to get too excited chasing the leader, long way to go!

The next leg took us up along the spectacular coastline towards the industry at Skinningrove (Former coal mine I think), and around the edge of the village of Staithes at about 15 miles in. Earlier in this leg I had passed one of the two guys in front when he stopped for a wee and gradually pulled ahead. I didn't know the name of the guy I was running just behind, so called him "Mr. Salomon" because of his kit. Looking back along the long sections between Skinningrove and Runswick Bay I could see someone getting closer to us. After a while I could see that it was Ian, and as we got close to Runswick he caught us. I stuck with Ian and we passed Mr. Salomon, pulling out a little bit of time, but the three of us arrived into Runswick Bay pretty much together.

It was great to see Mum, Dad and Lorna at Runswick Bay, about a third of the way through the race. We arrived there after 3 hours, which was quicker than I had thought. From Runswick we cracked on North, myself and Ian running close together now, though I will admit Ian was mostly in front! From Runswick the route took us along the beach and then up a little valley at Hob Holes. This was a really nice section, it felt weird to run along the sand, then up the slippery rocks and steps back up onto the cliff top.

From there we headed off to Sandsend, which I was looking forward to as my only drop bag would be there. We arrived here together, I got my drop bag stuff then spotted a public toilet in the corner of the car park - I hadn't been feeling too good so decided to stop there. Back on my own again, shortly after Sandsend I ran through Whitby, which was interesting! The streets were really busy as I ran in and out of the tourists, along cobbled streets and up the steps to the abbey. I ended up in slightly the wrong place after the abbey, and had to jump over a wall to rejoin the Cleveland Way. 6 miles later was Robin Hood's Bay, about 33 miles through the race I reckoned. It's always nice to get to half way and I think I felt pretty good around here, though it was a bit fiddly through the village again.

After the bay we headed up to Boggle Hole, then back along the cliff edge for a couple of miles, then inland a bit more towards Ravenscar. This was about two thirds of the way through the race, and it was really nice to see the family again. Ian had a minute or two on me here and was about to leave as I stuffed my face with coke and juice. I had only carried one 500ml water bottle and had been getting quite dehydrated between checkpoints. This wasn't ideal as it meant that I'd feel sick for the first part of each leg, having had to drink loads at each one.

But after Ravenscar I knew I was heading for the finish... I ran along the road for a couple of miles, then cut across through a farm (I think I missed the official shortcut and took a slightly dodgy one actually). From there it was 7 miles till Scarborough, it was starting to hurt now but the views were still spectacular! I could see Ian maybe 300m in front and he looked strong, but I wondered whether I was still looking strong too? Maybe...

I was running with Ian when we entered Scarborough, and together we negotiated our way through the town. The checkpoint was a bit tricky to find, but we eventually found it. Not too far now, though I was feeling pretty rubbish. Looking back I could see Scarborough, between the castle and Olivers Mount. Ian had got a few minutes on me again and we headed past Osgodby, then past a couple of campsites, then finally past the biggest caravan site I had ever seen! Another two miles later I cut in off the Cleveland Way, down into Filey. Ian had gone a slightly different way to me, I thought he would probably finish before me. I had probably accepted second place, but was feeling slightly better now, so it was quite an exciting run in towards the school. Eventually Ian and I arrived at the school together, at 3 minutes past 6.

According to my certificate we finished with a time of 9:25. I was given the first place trophy and second place certificate, Ian the opposite. Martin Beale finished a bit later in third.

Thanks to race organiser Jon Steele for a fantastic race, Mum, Dad, and Lorna for the support, and to the weather - the north east really looked it's best yesterday. Thanks also Ian, great to race with you. It was fantastic to get my first win and you certainly all helped! Well done everyone who ran, hope you had a great race!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

What's in a name...

As regular visitors (do I have any?!) might notice, things are changing around here... I've started updating my Big Alps Run website and blog to become a general website for all my future challenges!

I couldn't quite bear to buy my name as a website, so I've gone for "Challenge Stu". This blog, my JustGiving page and my website have all now changed over to this, and I'm working through the site to bring it up to date. Let me know what you think of the changes!


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sheffield 101010 10k

OK, first of all let's clarify - it's called the 101010 because the first race was on 10th October 2010. The race was such a success it's been carried on and is now in it's third year, taking place this year on 23rd September 2012.

On Friday night we had a few friends round for sausages and a few beers (which became a whiskey tasting session). During the course of the evening some of them talked about a 10k they were doing on Sunday, and with no races this weekend I wondered about an entry on the day. I didn't decide till after my run on Saturday so there wasn't much tapering involved, but come Sunday morning I was on the startline in Endcliffe Park...

Photo from Accelerate
I started in the "sub 40" pen, which happened to be the front one. I wasn't sure of the other guys there so waited just behind the front. We started and I immediately regretted the whole idea, we were climbing a gentle-ish grass bank, the two leaders shot off... I hung with them for a minute then realised it was a case of "see you at the end"!

Behind those two was a man in a Hallamshire vest, then myself and another chap. The course was a two-lapper, and took us out of the first park, then up a very steep bank before a gradual undulating route off road around the back of the park, then onto the tarmac trails back through the parks and looping back to the start/finish. It was a really nice course actually, particularly the woody bit on the way out.

During the first lap I caught the guy in front, but was caught by a man in an orange MS vest, so I stayed 5th. We had a great battle for the rest of the race, I caught him again just before the end of lap one, then he was in front before the climb. At the top of the climb on the second lap I felt truly horrendous and was nearly sick, but held on and caught him again through the trees. The final swap was on the way back through the park though, and that time I had nothing left, so it was 5th for me.

Thanks nouriSH me now for the recovery drink
My time was 36:47, slower than I managed at the Varsity 10k (35:24), so a bit disappointing, but maybe not too bad. The winners flew round in 33:19 and 33:23. It was a great race, good to see so many people out running in Sheffield! Well done Charlotte, Gemma, Anna and Chris, and thanks everyone who was cheering!

Next it's the Hardmoors 60 this weekend, then Red Bull Steeplechase the weekend after...