Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Almost back in the real world!

Image
As you can read about on my other blog, last week I handed in my PhD thesis... This is pretty significant, it means (subject to the agreement of my examiners in my viva in early December) that my PhD will be at and end, and I will be a Doctor of engineering!

Due to changing rules and exploding computers, the last few weeks of writing prior to the submittal have been pretty intense. I've enjoyed it, and the last week coincided nicely with the Adventure Racing World Championships in Ecuador which meant I didn't feel too alone during the long nights, but this has curbed training quite a lot. I have still been very lucky and managed to get out pretty much every day, but only for half- or an hour at most.

So, this blog post is just a quick one to say that I'm back! I started this weekend to ramp training back up to pre last-month-of-thesis levels (I got excited today - two runs and a mountain bike ride!), and whether I lost much strength or not I intend to be back stronger a…

OMM nom nom... So much food!

Image
This weekend I took part in the first proper Mountain Marathon I have done for a while... The last few times I've done a race called a Mountain Marathon it's been the "Dark Mountains", which involves carrying all the gear but running through the night without actually stopping. I've done this with Jim Mann for the last few years and we've not quite got it right yet!

Anyway, this time it was a proper overnight Mountain Marathon. I was running with my friend Will, who does a bit of running and has finished the OMM once before. Living in London his training had been a bit challenging, but we had a good four hour run out around Stanage and Win Hill last weekend. Very quickly Friday came around and it was time to set off up to Northumberland...


We were on the Medium score course, and after a very comfortable night in the van we packed our bags one last time and walked up to the start for 9:15. After saying for years that we'd do the OMM we were finally there!

Arrogance is a dangerous thing

Image
Yesterday I raced the inaugural Open Adventure "Lakes in a Day" ultra, my first race as part of the new Scott-Accelerate team, which I'm very proud to be part of. However some things, it seems, don't change...

First of all, lets rewind to Thursday. I met coach Stu and Debs from Accelerate, Colin from APC, Pete from Scott and fellow runners Dot and Chris. It was great to finally meet Pete and thank Scott for their support at the Matterhorn race. We ate some food, talked about plans for the year ahead and officially became Team Accelerate-Scott. After so much support over the years from Accelerate it's great to continue this, and it's also very exciting to have the support of Scott. So, as a sort of sponsored runner, by Saturday it was time to do some running...

After a very busy Friday trying to write and submit a journal paper, I finally left Sheffield at about midnight, heading to Cartmel in the south lakes ready for the Lakes In A Day race starting the nex…

A wee walk across Tuscany

Image
I've been lucky enough to end up working at the University of Florence during this and next week. Lorna and I decided to make the most of this and came out a week early for a holiday, landing in Pisa last Fiday. In order to get to Florence from there we decided that rather than getting the train, we would walk! This became the holiday, so I thought I'd quickly write up where we went and some of the places we visited...


Day 1: Pisa to Lucca
We last visited this area on one of our first ever holidays together, and stayed on a little campsite close to the centre of Pisa. We decided to stay on the same campsites in Pisa and in Florence, so set off on our first day's walking from "Camping Torre Prendente"...

The first day was fairly long as we needed to get out of Pisa before heading over the hill and down into the small city of Lucca. My watch went a bit mad and reckons we walked 45 kms, but it was still a fair trek of about 26 kms. The first day's walk was great …

Matterhorn Ultraks: Running with royalty!

Image
Running-wise, 2014 has so far been an amazing year! The highlights of my races this year were always going to be the two races abroad, the Mt Fuji race in July and the Matterhorn Ultraks in August. These two races were by far the biggest races I've ever taken part in, and each time I'd be racing against some of the best runners from around the world. Both also had the advantage of taking place on or around iconic mountains which I'd always wanted to visit, so whatever happened they were going to be awesome experiences.

I wrote about the Fuji race here, it was a fantastic race and I was very pleased with my 22nd place. I trained well for the few weeks between the races, so on Friday it was time to head out to Switzerland for the Matterhorn Ultraks...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Ultraks is a proper skyrunning race, with 3600m of ascent on the 46km course I would be taking on. I was there with the help of Scott, and would be racing as part of "Team Scott" …

Ultraks is coming!

Image
It doesn't feel like long since I got back from Mt Fuji, in fact it was so recent that the race T-shirt is still in the post, but it's now only a week until my next big race, the Matterhorn Ultraks. This is another huge event, which I think will eclipse Fuji as the biggest race I've ever taken part in. I'll be sharing the startline with some real top European runners and it will be interesting to find out how I stack up against these guys (and girls!).


The race starts in Zermatt, from where we climb about 1500m straight up to the highest point of the race, the Gornergrat at 3130m. From there we still have 31km or so to go via another couple of 600m climbs, and a couple of 200m ones... Giving a total ascent of about 3600m. So it's further than Fuji, and with more ascent, and this time we're descending too. It's a proper Skyrace.


I've been invited to run the race by Scott, and I'm really grateful to them for the invitation. I think I'll also be ru…

The 67th Fuji Mountain Race

Image
Last Friday I ran the Fuji mountain race in Japan. There are a few races around Mt. Fuji, so for clarity, this one is not the Ultra tour of Fuji or any of the other races "on" Fuji... it's the one that starts at the bottom and finishes at the top, with 21km of distance and 3000m of ascent between the two.

It's renowned as a bit of a brutal race, and the cutoff times are notoriously tight, with a lot of dissapointed racers each year! The race accepts about 3000 entries, but only 50 of these are open to foreigners, so when I realised that I would actually be in Japan for the week following the race for an academic conference, my initial excitement at being able to enter the race faded a bit as I realised I would need some luck to even get an entry. I entered and crossed my fingers...
Fast forward to last Friday and the dream had come true, I was standing on the startline in the city of Fujiyoshida, about to start the 67th Fuji Mountain race. And when I say sta…

Fuji here I come!

Image
As I write this I am sitting in the departures area of Manchester Airport. In an hour or so I'll be flying to Dubai, then a few hours later on to Tokyo. All being well, sometime tomorrow I will arrive in the town of Fujiyoshida at the foot of Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san as I think it's called by the locals!).

I'm really excited and looking forward to the race, but first I just can't wait to get to Japan and experience the culture and the country. I'm staying in a traditional Ryokan in Fujiyoshida, so hopefully I'll have a proper taste of Japanese life.

Training for the race has gone well, I think the last month or so has probably been the most intensive period of hill training I've ever done, but quite rightly, as Fuji-san is a massive hill. The race stats are 21km with something like 3500m ascent... A bit more than Win and Lose Hill where I've done lots of my training. I did my final two Win Hill reps yesterday, and this morning I caught the train from Sheffi…

Back in a kayak...

Image
I admit it, I haven't been in a kayak since ARWC Costa Rica... I did more kayaking in that race than in my entire life up to that point, and it was certainly the part of the race I found the hardest. Those long nights paddling up endless lakes and in and out of mangrove lagoons will stay with me for a long time, and have not left me in any great rush to get back into kayaking...

However, a month of so ago a message appeared on the Dark Peak Fell Runners facebook page advertising the first running of a race called the "Wet Fox Trot". A slightly unusual name, but the race sounded interesting: 4km run, 2km paddle, 4km run. Two kilometres of paddling sounded manageable, so I decided I'd go and do the race if I could. The event took place at the Peak Pursuits centre at Underbank Lodge near Stocksbridge. I arrived just in time and there was luckily a space in the first of three waves. I paid up, signed my life away and off we went!


I set off pretty fast and soon found myse…

"Going long" for the first time...

Image
Ahead of the Accelerate Going Long event on Tuesday, I've been asked to write a bit about the first time I ran over the marathon distance. I can't remember if my Hadrian's Wall run is technically the right answer, but it was a very memorable day so I thought I'd try to write a bit about it....


It was 2007, and I'm not sure I was really a runner. I was at University in Sheffield (for the first time), I ran probably a couple of times a week and was just starting to get into a few little fell races in the Peak District. I had a poster of the Bob Graham round on my wall and was in awe of people like Mark Hartell and Stephen Pyke - the long distance bug had bitten, I just wasn't quite fit enough for it!

17th June 2007
The Hadrian's Wall Path is an 84 mile path from one side of England to the other. It starts at Bowness-on-Solway and finishes at a place called Wallsend (top name). I think there's now a race which follows the route, but in 2007 it had only been…