Kinder Downfall fell race 2008

My first fell race for ages today was a load of fun in many ways, but also a bit of a release. I haven’t had any competitive outings in any form for three months almost to the day, so whilst I had a lot of mind-rest, I also focused a bit more on today’s Kinder Downfall race a lot more than I’d have liked to. Call it being over competitive, but each time I went out running, I generally thought about being in good shape and giving myself the best shot at the race today.

In the end, it was more a case of ‘business as usual’, with a respectable finish and a slight improvement on my time of last year. In many ways, I just feel relieved that I didn’t let myself down in any way. With a sleet-and-snow induced reduction in the number of starters, my top ten result was nothing to get really excited about, although I’ll openly say I felt great and ran a pretty intelligent pace. Unlike in
last year’s race, whew I ran out of steam (big time) in the last mile or so on the flat, I actually made inroads on the run-in this year, dropping a competitor and making big gains on the one in front. However, after all was done, I just finished in a respectable 12th position and unharmed. If I’ve reached my running peak at 38, I’ll be happy with my lot, to be honest.

Hat’s off to friend Steve Riley on his first fell race of manly distance – his fitness proved a great foundation for a remarkably good first outing and we’ll be seeing more of him in the good end of the results I reckon.

KinderGoogle Earth track of the course in stunning detail here.

Headline results here


The March Mountain trip: Wasdale


For the second year running, the annual trip to the hills organised by my cousin Adrian was based in Wasdale Head. Some pretty dull weather only lifted by the usual good craic that goes on between ten stout fellows. A wonderful time, as usual, peppered with great banter and the odd occasional meaningful chat. The hills are a brilliant place to enable you to do that, especially in a large group of walkers; flitting between people and picking up chats where you left off. The good dose of fresh air also helps the appetite (as if that needed any encouragement) and the yearning for ale.

Adrian in motion
The power cut that gripped upper Wasdale the whole weekend meant that we had to pile into two cars (thanks again, drivers) to take evening sustenance in Netherwasdale, some 5 miles away. What this lacked in convenience, it more than made up for in truly excellent food and home brewed fantastic beer. I even think I got away with fully masking my disappointment at clearly ordering the wrong pudding.

Three things learnt over the weekend, mainly from John:

  1. It’s wise to take knitting needles into public toilets
  2. Check for ants nests before settling down Horton in Ribblesdale hollows.
  3. The tough green bit in the middle of a tomato is a good indicator on manliness

Photos here.

Saturday’s Walk:

View in Google Earth

Sunday’s Walk:

View in Google Earth

Update:Adrian’s photos here.
Adrian’s blog post here.

The jagged teeth of hill reps

It may feel like utter death on toast when you’re doing it, and you swear you’l never do it again through the blood you’re coughing up each time you do it, but having a GPS with a heart rate monitor makes hill reps something interesting to look at…

1900 feet of climbing and descending compressed into a zip ride.

Hell / Hill Reps

Grizedale Mountainbike Challenge 2007

Wow! I’d forgotten how good that felt. Today was my first Mountain Bike event since… erm.. about 1994. I seem to have got so caught up in other things that use up my time (a lot of which is cycling of one sort or another) that I haven’t got a mountain bike any more.

GMBC - Grizedale Mountainbike Challenge My team mates Lewis and Stuart told me that the Grizedale Mountain bike challenge had to become an essential part of my Three Peaks training, so, always keen to learn from those better than me, I listened. Stuart’s extensive contacts kindly meant that I had loan of a Kona Kula 2-9 - 29erKona Kula 2-9 – £1,500’s worth of hard tail mountain bike with extra big wheels for extra gangly people. It was just beautiful. Having never been paired with this bike, I was naturally a bit worried about tackling the 31 mile loop in drizzly on-and-off rain with what turned out to be 6053 feet of climb and descent (see graph).

Garmin Forerunner 305 outputThe course of the challenge ride itself varies from year to year. The Lake District National Park Authority banned Mountian Bike Racing many years ago, so this is strictly a ‘challenge’ ride, albeit with a timing system and a mass start.

My 37 year old engine takes a while to get going on what turned out to be about 20 minutes of solid climbing, and I wasn’t really into my stride until about half an hour in. I gradually picked off a few people and eventually finished 16th in 2hrs 57. Lewis finished first, waiting a full nine minutes until Barrie Clarke came in behind him. Bodes very well for the three peaks.

I can’t emphasise enough what a great feeling it was to twist and turn on the diving singletrack descents on such a great feeling bike. My legs were missing a few beats from time to time on the steep climbs, but I didn’t panic and kept the bit between my teeth. Almost three hours to complete the course at an average heart rate of 165bpm was great preparation for the three peaks, and I think I’ve left enough time to fine tune the hammering into a bit of form.

View the ride here in Google Earth (recommended!)

Belmont Winter Hill fell race 2007

Winter HillBelmont Winter Hill race Results now here (PDF) courtesy of Dave Bateson.

I had a great race with less than 24 hours notice it was actually happening (yep – dozy) at Belmont yesterday. An idyllic summer village fête and about 120 runners all togged up in not much. Great classic 4.5 mile fell race starting and finishing on the village playing field. We’re so lucky round here with so many of there going on all the time. I worked hard during the race and felt justly rewarded with a pretty good position. Lacking in some areas, but I enjoy it, and that’s got to be what counts.

View the route in Google Earth: Belmont – Winter Hill Fell Race 2007 Google Earth KML File

Watch willfoxere2k7’s video of the race departure and arrival on youtube (you can see why fell running’s not a TV sport!)

Kinder Downfall fell race 1 April 2007

My first fell race since Whittle Pike some eight months ago after a bit of a break from competitive running trying to get my back injury better. I was really very chuffed to finish 11th out of a field of about 250. I was 25th in 2005 (last attempt) in 1:20:06. I covered it in 1:16:25 this time round.

Kinder Downfall fell race profileThe Garmin Forerunner clocked this at 9.71 miles and 1770 feet of ascent and descent. Advertised at 10m and 2,500 feet, there’s quite some difference here, but I trust the Garmin. The start’s almost 700 feet up and Kinder’s only a shade over 2000 feet.

Still – it’s a tough, classic fell race. Faster than many Lake District ones, it’s descents are good under foot, and easy to keep your momentum up without being too steep. There’s a killer (for me) 1.5 mile run in at the end – the type I detest(!), and I annoyingly lost two places here, but that’s the price I pay for being a cyclist who just can’t be bothered to train to run on roads.

View the race route magically trasported from my Garmin Forerunner into Google Earth KMZ here.

Click on the image above for the profile of the route (and my pace along the way in blue)

Spring: fresh air.

Ride!Really feels like spring’s on its way now. It’s a warm, sunny Monday, the clocks have finally jumped into summertime, and people are starting to smile again. I had renewed vigour this weekend after a slight sick bug last week, and had a tough but really enjoyable 3.5 hour hilly ride through Bowland into a fairly relentless headwind on Saturday (even finding the time to take this photo with my new camera phone).

Had a great run up Ingleborough with Elvis on Sunday morning to revive the legs a bit. Views slightly stifled by haze (and a bit windy again), but, as ever, it’s an enjoyable 5.75 mile run.

Here’s links to the Google Earth path files for the ride and the run. The more astute will notice my annoying five mile detour on the ride at Slaidburn, when I wasn’t concentrating and took the wrong turn….!

Howgills, some Sedbergh reminiscing, and an overdue dose of snow

I had a great day out with some soon to be ex-colleagues (and a currently ex colleague) in the Howgills the other day, taking in a 9.5 mile walk in the beautiful Howgill Fells. It enabled me to (fairly) quietly reminisce about my two years living in Sedbergh as a teeneger, especially as we retraced the route of the Sedbergh Ten Mile race on our way back into the town (“Muddy Slide” – a steep gorge – the excitement came rushing back to me).

Look northwestThe snow finally came to the north west for me – our house has had the barest of coverings this winter, much to my disappointment, so to get out in the snow, albeit just a generous dusting, was great.

Piccies on Flickr. Here’s the walk as a google earth (.kmz) path if you’re interested.

Mind blown by GPS data

A few weeks ago, I bought a Garmin Forerunner 201, on a whim, from my friend Matthew. When I bought it, it was very much an experiment to see whether I’d get on with it and get enough out of it.

It comes with some fairly dreadful software that gives you some very basic visual data about your runs / walks / cycles, and the software itself was one of the main reasons I started to think it was not something I’d keep in my possession in the longer term.

However… after quite a bit of ferreting around, I’ve now found the ‘Holy Grail’ – just what I was after. I’ve found a way to export the data from the Garmin LogBook software, then convert this into Google Earth path files (that you can view and save in Google Earth). All this is done through the GPS Visualiser website (BIG credit to them – THANKS!!).

wasdale_weekend.jpgHere’s the type of data I’m talking about… (click on the image on the left). Walking mountain titans of the first weekend in March will probably want to download the walks so they can open and ingest them in Google Earth.
Saturday’s Walk
Sunday’s Walk

Instructions and links for how to do this below. Continue reading “Mind blown by GPS data”

Jeans Reunited?

Okay. Long story that I won’t go into here, but if you, or anyone you know, accidentally left a pair of Levis 501s around the altitude of 690 metres within a few hundred metres of Scafell, I saw them and kindly picked them up on 3rd March 2007. They’re size 29 (waist) 32 (leg). They’re in pretty good nick, but they have slight scuffing at the bottom of the heel, as though worn trendily long with boots.

Are these your jeans? Between you and me, I think these jeans being reunited with their rightful owners are fairly slim, but then I wouldn’t be able morally to sell them on eBay in a month or two, unless I knew I’d exhausted every attempt to get them back on the legs from whence they came.

What you need to do to get them back
Simply contact me, using the comment form below, with a specific grid reference or link on Pin in the Map showing where they were last undone and discarded. At that stage, myself and seven other people in the travelling party would like a thorough explanation of how they came to be there (which will be published).

John Shepherd already has his own theory (listen below) so is not really interested in the truth.

Wasdale, Levis 501s, a scattering of snow, and some laughs.

IntrepidEvery year, on the first weekend of March, I spend a couple of days and one night with my brother Phil, my cousin Adrian, and six or seven other people (Adrian’s old College friends, colleagues mainly). The intention of the trip is to go somewhere mountainous (not just ‘hilly’ or ‘scenic’ – that’d never do), and pretend to ourselves that we are Titans of the mountains who’ve just decided to do a simple walk instead of our usual E6 grade climbs.

Saturday's graphGeared up in stuff which far surpasses our ability to warrant it (e.g., my new Garmin forerunner, see right), we have a great day out, tired but splendid evening in a good pub, then a shorter walk on the Sunday, (shorter under the guise of needing to get home that day, but actually shorter because we’re all old and tired).

This year’s trip was a small break from recent tradition of visiting Snowdonia, and instead Adrian chose Wasdale. It was a good choice, leading to much self-congratulation. The snow of 2006 wasn’t about (apart from a few dots on the Summit of Scafell), but we were rewarded with fairly quiet routes (especially Sunday’s stroll up Yewbarrow), and some atmospheric weather.

Good banter is a given when you put eight men together who see each other annually, and it was really a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Some of the highlights included finding a pair of pretty decent Levi 501s at an altitude of about 2,500 feet and a long way from anywhere you’d really need a pair of 501s. John Shepherd has his theory as to how they got there. In any case, I’ll be trying to reunite them with their owner (as well as getting the full story). If not, they#’ll probably go for a tenner on eBay.

One of one hundred and fifty stopsLots of photographing things also goes hand in hand with these trips. That and spending a good 50% of each day discussing how best to photograph things.

Phil uses these trips to become a life coach, and one output of the weekend was to get commitments from Steve Riley to ride the 2007 Three Peaks Cyclocross and for Simon Fox to do the Bob Graham round this summer. And they weren’t even in the pub when this was nailed down. Also discussed at various points of the trip was how most or all of us will be a good deal lighter and fitter next year. I think this was agreed last year too, come to think of it, but this must have been deferred by a year at some meeting I missed.

Thanks, Adrian, for a great time, and I very much look forward to next year. Photos on Flickr here if you want to see them.