Friday 26th May
Old County Tops
Proved more of a trial than we would have liked. Initial doubts about Kev's fitness we overwhelmed by the after-effects of a serious leg infection and the subsequent antibiotics used to treat it. By Helvellyn we were 15 minutes down on last year's time and at Angle Tarn 31 minutes down. I then made a spectacular route finding error involving Esk Pike rather than Esk Hause (is there a pattern here, I have to ask myself?) and although the error was recoverable we made the decision we should have made at Angle Tarn and retired. As a training run, despite the poor conditions that forced another 11 teams to retire, it was a worthwhile outing with almost 24 miles and 7500 feet of climbing.
Our pace was slow and on Sunday I ran a PB on an 8 mile training route and so while I am disappointed about the OCT I am happy with my fitness despite, on Saturday, breaking a toe nail (still attached and taped in place); injuring a joint in my left foot with my ankle strap (almost recovered) and getting water into my Polar 625X watch. It has been a disappointing bit of kit - watch has been returned to Polar once, the transmitter belt twice and I still usually get straight lines on the trace, the altimeter doesn't record properly, it is no longer waterproof and struggles to download to the PC.Manchester 10K
One to watch for me as Pauline was runnning. Hoping for a sub 60 minute time she finished in under 52 minutes with a 51:45 time. At least one of the family finished a race with a good time.
After the weekend I added 4 morning pre-porridge runs to the regular evening runs to push my mileage a bit and what a week - 7 consecutive sessions in the rain!
88 miles 1300 feet
We are marshalling on the LDWA 100 in Northumberland but we will manage to get some miles in from our checkpoint. I have new pair of Mudclaws to break in as my original pair are pretty nearly finished and so Saturday morning's run over Winter Hill should do that and if I continue the pre-porridge outings I should again hit high 80s next week.
Friday 19th May - Apology to John Swift
It has been drawn to my attention that the entry describing our adventure on Leg 5 could be construed to imply that I absolve myself of any blame for the route finding errors. That wasn't entirely my intention and I would be prepared to conceed that this may not be entirely apparent from a first reading of the text.
It may be that it is not entirely apparent from subsequent readings either and so, to set the record straight I would admit (under some duress - like the need for a navigator on Leg 5) that John offered the correct bearing from a spot that we both agreed was correct. The fact that neither of us had a clue where we were, apart from in very general terms, is probably of some relevance here but John was confident and I don't believe you can ask more from a navigator than confidence, because if you are confident you can get lost really quickly rather spending hours over it.
Friday 19th May
Two days on the route last weekend. Leg 5 on Saturday with John Swift on a 22 hour schedule apart from the section to Great Calva where John felt the conventional 'direct' route was too short for a Saturday morning run and so, in the clag and on the correct bearing (from the wrong place), added a big long left arc round Mungrisdale Common down a valley neither of us had ever been in. Very pleasant and I'm glad he he has got that option out of his system because in many ways the 'direct' route is peferable. On Sunday I had another go, on my own, at Leg 4. Again, in the clag, but without any major route finding errors apart from the Clough Head descent and again, despite carrying 2.5 kilos of food and water, on a 22 hour schedule. Monday night's run was wrecked by a failed computer, trivial I know, but it was the machine I keep all my training records, routes, BGR support details, etc, etc on and I had to reconfigure another PC to be able to use backup data (nothing lost). Three mornings were enough to make up the mileage although they meant Wednesday and, particularly, Thursday evening sessions were hard.
72 miles 15600 feet
Old County Tops with Kev Latham who has been working in Iceland all winter and claims not to have been able to get in sufficient mileage but we will see tomorrow. In any event, I want this to be a long, injury-free, training session. Sunday sees Pauline tackle the Manchester 10K and I am hoping to be able to manage a recovery run before dark - which would be a considerable improvement on last year. A few mornings next week to try to get over 80 miles but much will depend on tomorrow and Sunday.
Final details being added now and I hope they will all be finalised by this time next week when I'll publish them and start getting the details for road crossings finalised.
Revised Schedule of 12 May
Revised schedule is available to download from the link below
Moot Hall 08:00
Moot Hall 06:00
Detailed 22 hr schedule
Friday 12th May
After last week's rest, this week has back to something like normal. 24 miles over and around Winter Hill on Saturday morning before going over to Belmont to watch the Belmont Winter Hill race and about 17 miles on Sunday over Helvellyn with about 11,000 feet of climbing between them. I hadn't quite recovered from last week because my legs were very tired at the end of Saturday and heavy on Sunday. Monday was just an easy leg stretching 4 miles and the M60 prevented me getting to the track session. A fairly good hill session last night suggests recovery is complete, ready for next week. I ddin't manage any pre-porridge runs - I just wasn't up tp it, perhaps next week.
75.3 miles 14,450 feet
Leg 5 on Saturday with John Swift so that he can check his compass bearings and I can have another look at the last 3 climbs. Leg 4 on Sunday so that I can have another look at the climbs and the direct descent from Fairfield that I couldn't find (didn't even look for) in the clag. Rest of the week as normal with a couple of morning runs to keep the miles up.
Until a week or so ago I was perfectly happy with my published 23 hour schedule but since then I have been encouraged to consider something more challanging. Determining what is a realistic schedule (in good conditions) is difficult so I sought the advice of Paul Murray, a vastly experienced ultra distance fell runner. The main points of his advice are to remember the key objective is to finish in under 24 hours and you need to make the schedule your 'friend' because otherwise it becomes your 'enemy'. In other words, it is easier to run 21 hours off a 22 hour schedule than it is off 20 hour schedule because you will be ahead of the 22 hour schedule (and relaxed about it) whereas you would be chasing the 20 hour schedule all the way, and not catching it. On that basis, I am going with a (revised) schedule of 22 hours and aiming to get close to 21 hours. The potential flaw with this approach is the danger of arriving at road crossings so far ahead of the schedule that the support team is not ready. Only the last and second last crossings really present a problem, in this respect, and so we will have to ensure support runners are advised durign the day of actual progress.
I'll publish a revised schedule over the weeked - watch this space.
Friday 5th May
Last week was really only the '100' and recovery from it. Monday was spent comatose from lack of sleep. My feet were still painful on Tuesday & Wedensday but by last night, once I got the tape off and punctured the large blisters on my heels things were much better. We got a number of things right on the '100', especially on the first day - eating and drinking regularly. Shoe choice was proabably impossible - road shoes were needed for the cushioning but wouldn't have been to good on the roughest ground (no-one else selected road shoes either). Not eating frequently enough was nearly our undoing on the second day but eating and drinking enough at the 85 mile CP provided a complete recovery and that shouldn't be forgotten.
Miles: 105 Feet: 13800
Long run over Winter Hill on Saturday before Belmont Winter Hill race which I shall enjoy as a spectator. BGR Leg 3 on Sunday. This marks a change in planning as it is an attempt to see if a schedule faster than 23 hours might be achievable. Until now I have always run legs with other people, primarily to learn the route and to improve my fitness, now I will start to pay much more attention to the schedule. I will also try a couple of morning runs to keep the mileage up.
LDWA (Marshals') 100
101 miles, 13500 feet in 33:21:34, Pauline was second overall and 1st lady with Keith & I just behind. We are all pleased with the time, especially Pauline & I, our first '100' with only one person faster. The Marshals' event attracts a smaller field and most people consider it to be more difficult because almost all the time you are on your own, out of sight of everyone else and so it proved.
Saturday was warm and sunny, the ground dry and very hard - much like the tarmac the route reverted to all too often. Like most other people we travelled fast throughout Saturday but by the evening the heat and hard ground was beginning to take its toll. Medical tape contains the worst of the damage to our feet but doesn't help Keith's groin strain very much. With sub-zero temperatures forecast for the night we were glad to be descending from Windy Gyle's 2000 foot ridge as darkness (and the temperature) fell. A brilliantly clear night, far from any city's poluting street lights provided the brighest stars we have for a very long time. Breakfast stop is reached at 04:30 after 62 miles. Just half an hour here and off into the second day.
A little light rain greets us with the daylight and we are beginning to consider that our feet are not any worse than they were twenty miles ago, which is pretty encouraging. Other things, however, begin to slip a little. Throughout Saturday we had handed round food every half hour or so to ensure we all kept eating but this was overlooked first thing Sunday - probably because we were tired nad because the first hour or so after breakfast can be very slow (after the first long stop) - and somehow we never really got back into the habit. Times through the chekpoints confirmed we were losing a little on the two in front and gaining on the people behind. After around 80 miles we were all really struggling and by the checkpoint at 85 miles I was reduced to little more than a plod. We couldn't afford to go any slower so made an effort to eat more than any of us wanted and then agreed to make a big effort to the next CP, a further 3.7 miles with a 330 feet climb. 65 minutes got us to the CP and we carried on straight through to the next where a 5 minute break was enough to see us through the last CP to the end in Wooler. the last thing I must mention is that having strapped my left ankle I didn't get so much as a twinge from it for the first time in over a year.
By Thursday night I had removed all the tape from my feet to find two very large blisters on my heels. After lancing them I managed a comfortable 4 miles on the road and although my right heel is still tender it will, I am sure, be fine for the weekend.