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, 28 October 2012

A grand day out!

Lorna and I have been in the Dales this weekend - luckily one of our friends' family owns a bunkbarn at Chapel-le-Dale, near Ingleton. We have just got back from a weekend of food, drinking, walking, and (for me) a nice long run on Saturday. It was one of the best training runs I've had for a while...

The plan was to recce part of a longer route I'm hoping to have a crack at next summer. I did the recce bit on the way out, then looped back round to head home. I ended up with 9 tops and 58km in about 7 and a half hours. Here's where I went...

From the bunkbarn I ran up the road for a hundred yards or so, then up Ingleborough. As you will notice on the map above, I've made a mistake and drawn the first three hills in the wrong order, but you get the idea. The climb was fantastic, it was cold an frosty with a lot of frozen patches, but the sun was warm and it was a beautiful morning on the summit. It took about 30 mins from leaving to the trig. From there I cut back the way I had come, then followed the fence to Simon Fell, then Lords Seat. I managed to slip on a patch of ice on the way down Ingleborough and had a bloody knee for the rest of the day but apart from that I was having an amazing day.
Looking back up to Ingleborough
From Lords Seat I cut across to join the 3 Peaks race path down to Horton. Through the village and out t'other side towards Pen-y-Ghent. It was getting busy with walkers now, and throughout the day it became very obvious that to many people, there are only three hills in the Yorkshire Dales! I saw hardly anyone on the "lesser" fells. From Horton I headed up towards Pen-y-Ghent but cut up to Plover Hill. The run along the edge of the wall was longer and harder than it looked, the terrain was boggy and tricky, but eventually I got to the stile and turned around.

360' from Plover Hill
From P-y-G I ran down to the road, on a fairly questionable route which had me clambering over fences, walls and rivers and took aaaages! Next I climbed up Fountains Fell, feeling quite knackered now as it was a steep one after the Pennine Way turned off. I climbed on following the wall to the top of Fountains Fell, then dropped down slightly, then a final (for now) climb up to the last summit of my recce part of the day - Darnbrook Fell.

Darnbrook Fell Trig
From the trig I dropped down north on more trackless boggy stuff, till eventually coming out at Halton Gill. From there I started to head back to the bunkbarn, running along the river through Foxup, then up to contour along the edge of Pen-y-Ghent for quite a long way. This was another really nice section, the sun was still shining and I got some decent running in. Eventually I reached the route towards the Ribblehead viaduct, it was really really boggy on the way up and I fell in up to my waist once. It took me quite a long time to get out, and I nearly lost my shoes in the process!

Eventually I reached the road near Ribblehead viaduct, which I always think is an amazing thing. I ran on up past the viaduct where there was a cave rescue training exercise going on, helicopters and everything! I didn't follow the normal route up Whernside, but went up the really steep side, then turned right onto the main path to the top.

Looking back to Ingleborough from the way up Whernside
I squeezed through the gap in the wall, touched my final trig for the day, turned around and headed off back down, via High Pike. I was now looking forward to the Steak and Ale pie I had ordered in the pub later... I really enjoyed the run down though, it was quiet now, the wind had died down and the sun was starting to set. I ran down through the farm, onto the road and up to Chapel-le-Dale.

All in all a fantastic run, I learnt a lot during my recce and had one of the best days I've had for a long time. And the pie was amazing :)

Friday, 19 October 2012

100% Me

I have just registered with the 100% me scheme, if you are also totally against drugs and doping in sport you can read about it and do the same on the UKA website.

"100% me is about being a true athlete. It's about being able to say my performance is 100% me. There is no secret to my success - just hard work, determination and talent."

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Red Bull Steeplechase

Last Sunday I ran the inaugural Red Bull Steeplechase, a fell race with a difference! It was a knockout race, so of the 125 blokes who started from Castleton, 90 would make it through the first checkpoint at Bamford (8 miles), 55 through the second at Hope (12 miles), and 30 through Edale (18 miles) to race to the finish back in Castleton (21 miles).

After racing quite a lot recently I was feeling pretty knackered after a bit of running during the week since the Hardmoors. By Sunday morning I did feel OK though and was looking forward to the race. Lorna and Dolly came with me to the start and my brother Ed biked out to see me at a couple of points, which was really cool.

The race was spectacularly well organised - there were loads of toilets, the course was well marked, water was provided, and there were loads of marshals (this side of things was sorted by Open Adventure). We left Castleton straight uphill, and it was apparent that this was not just a fell race, there were some faces I recognised but lots of vests from all over the country, and a fair few pairs of road shoes. As we climbed, the view behind us was absolutely spectacular...

I wasn't sure how to tackle the race in the early stages, either sit back and be in top 30 but potentially too far down to challenge the leaders, or just race it like a race. I went for somewhere in between and took it at maybe 90% for the first leg, having a little chat with Lewis Bantock and Ian Winterburn who was marshalling. The course really was fantastic, we got to use a few areas which are normally private, but it was mainly the weather - I nearly tripped a few times as I just couldn't stop looking at the mist hanging in the valleys!

I went through Bamford in about 13th, then made up a few places to go through Hope in about 7th. From there it felt a lot harder as I realised it was probably now just a race. We weren't too strung out so as I pushed on a bit I started to see three guys in front of me, quite close together. I caught them gradually and ended up about 4th. One of the guys I recognised, it was Neil Barton, an old Sheffield Uni Orienteer / Fell runner. We spoke quickly as I passed him just before Jacob's Ladder, but didn't realise we knew each other till the finish!

Just before Edale I was passed by someone going strongly in a Serpentine vest. We went through Edale pretty much together, with just 3 miles to go (via Hollins Cross!) to Castleton. We ran most of the climb up through the crappy farm and onto the rocky ascent to Hollins, this was really tough and I definitely wouldn't have done it on my own. I didn't realise at the time, but this chap had made a small navigational mistake and I had passed him without realising, so we were racing for 3rd place. Near the top of the climb I got maybe 10m on him and pushed on to the marshal at the top of the hill, then set off on the final descent. Shortly after this he came past me... I'm not a great descender, but for a Londoner I was impressed with Mr. Serpentine, I tried to stick with him but I was about 20m behind when we hit the road. It looked unlikely, I gurned by way after him but it wasn't working and by the time we hit the village I couldn't see him through the twisty bits. I ran up towards the finish, tried to high 5 Karen McDonald who looked very confused, then crossed the line 31 seconds behind Mr. Serpentine.

Shaun Flannery - shaunflanneryphotography.wordpress.com
I crossed the line and saw Lorna and Dolly, and after a frantic race round the road Ed was there again (as he had been in Hope and Edale). I was surprised to be 4th, only realising when I saw the guy in front of me being thrust in front of a camera!

Red Bull did very well, everything was good. We got a Hoody, medal and gym bag, amazing food at the Castle pub in Castleton, and Red Bull and beer to drink. It was £25 to enter, I don't want every fell race to be like this but as an occasional one it was brilliant!

Thank you Lorna, Dolly, Red Bull and Open Adventure. Also cheers to Julia for very enthusiastic cheering!

One tiny comment - the water at checkpoints was only available in bottles - this leads to a lot of wastage when you only want a mouthful, maybe ready-filled plastic cups next time too?