Thursday, 28 July 2011


Wednesday meant Wormstones, a cracking little race of Des's. I'd had a good rest on Monday afternoon and Tuesday - well, travelling to Reading for an (obsolete) interview - so was feeling much better than on Sunday.
A 'small' but perfectly formed field of 60 started and I was glad to have scouted the first 600m of the route to discover the 2 simultaneous bottlenecks. Through the woods and across the 1st style I was in the lead without trying very hard, but knew Glyn and Mark of Glossopdale, Noel and an old DP guy were with me. Onto the path up Chunal Moore I let Glyn and Noel get ahead by about 30-50m and yoyo'd with the DP guy. Above Wormstones and on to Harry Hut where Mark joined me for the descent to the Chunal Road.
Harry Hut looking towards Kinder.

Down (surprise surprise) into Long Clough I passed Mark and gained on Noel, even with my far from economic gate-hopping ability, watching a stampede of Sheep going before us. Then onto the second climb - a mix of not-at-all-runnable hands on knees walking followed by climbing at 45degrees up a slope which, after the previous climb, is not too easy to run. On the steep climb I was about 2m behind Noel, but as soon as we hit the more gentle slope he was suddenly 20m ahead! Mark and I had a duel going up this runnable bit, yoyoing continuously as one walked and the other jogged. However, we still managed to gain on Noel, even though he maintain a good steady pace all the way up. Crested the summit and immediately pulled away from Mark, allowing Noel to stay ahead until we hit the top of the terrifically steep, bilberry-covered, terraced descent to Herod Farm. I managed to crack my left ankle but knew there wasn't long to go and cruised down the track to finish in 2nd place in 32.40, 47 seconds behind Glyn, 11 ahead of Mark and 18 ahead of Noel. The route was 1.7km shorter than advertised due to course changes, but a cracking race and I'm not complaining! The route and my race data can be found here.
Off to Oban on Saturday for a week of top notch Orienteering, which I'm really looking forward to!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Great Hucklow pt.2

There's a more in-depth Great Hucklow report that I wrote for the Gritstone series, and it can be found here.

In other news, I should soon be entering the world of work, an exciting prospect for me, a scary prospect for everyone else? :P

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Great Hucklow

The latest counter in the Accelerate Gritstone Series, the Great Hucklow Race, being in the White Peak, is a bit different to the usual Dark Peak fayre. A smidge under 10km it's a standard length, but most of its 300-or-so metres of ascent come over fields and undulating cloughs. I've run this race the last 3 years and never really seemed to have a good run - the last time I was beaten by the first (2!) ladies was in last year's race - for some reason I just can't get to grips with the undulating section through Bretton Clough - one of the few O areas on a fell race route on which I prefer orienteering! (most cross-overs are on moorland where O is boring, but FR is better due to the head-to-head aspect; Bretton Clough however is a cracking little technical area).
Bretton Clough - my Nemesis!
After a cold earlier in the week (courtesy of the hours spent awake at the Harvester) I'd had a couple of runs to get the legs back used to running, but today wasn't really to be. My quads felt unduly achey and I didn't really have much get-up-and-go. People I'd normally expect to stick with went past me, and it was only courtesy of digging in on the last hill and knowing the following descent that I managed to regain the places lost in the clough to finish 18th in 50.20. 1.20 quicker than last year's time but really not very good. Bond won in 43.11, 59 seconds ahead of John Heneghan - so a good field at the top end!

Oh well, sometimes you just have a bad day at the office, I should be thankful that this is my only (non self-inflicted) one this year. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by Wormstones on Wednesday, but the main aim is to be raring to go for the Scottish Six Days starting next week, at which I'm really looking forward to taking on the Men's Elite course for the first time in real anger!

Now I need to find something to do with myself after spending most of my time watching a cracking Tour de France - although their final montage this year was no match to last year's!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

I'm Wearing the Cape, I'll make the Woosh Noises!

Today was my Graduation ceremony. After 4 years studying (OK, running, drinking beer and singing with a bit of work thrown in as a token gesture - the degree did cost me the thick end of £14k!) I graduated with a 2:1 (Honours) Undergraduate Masters (M.Biol.Sci) in Biochemisty and Microbiology from the University of Sheffield.
 I've been suffering with a stinking cold after the weekend and generally been feeling a bit crap, although I did manage to find a T-shirt with the legend "Don't follow me - I'm lost!" - very fitting after the weekend! Over the west of the Pennines it was pretty grim so we all wrapped up. However, once over in Sheffield the weather was cracking - a bit warm for a 3-piece suit with all the robe palarva on top!
I really enjoyed the day. OK, the ceremony itself was a bit dull, but a day with the family and friends, and taking some comedy photos more than made up for it.
Cheers! - A pint of Trashy Blond in Interval.

Typical Student...

You can call me BATMAN!

Mortarboard Frisbee

The Masters/PhD cohort - my hats's the one that's highest (I think).
I'm going to miss living in Sheffield - but hopefully not for too long!And no doubt I'll be a frequent visitor.

ShUOC's Harvester Relays

Last weekend was the Harvester Relays - a 7 (or 5) person night-day orienteering relay. ShUOC were hosting this year's race in Eccleshall Woods and Limb Valley, a major undertaking for such a small club, and I'm pleased to say that we managed to do it with some style! Here's a couple of our promotional videos:

Saturday started a bit grim but thankfully after hitting town for some last minute requirements, once we arrived at the assembly the weather had improved and it was a nice afternoon setting up the Ultrasprint maze and watching the competitors bombing around it. Once the ultrasprint was done I set up my controls for the Urban event I was planning in Dore the next morning, before heading to bed to try and get some kip as I was both helping and running in the early morning. Despite lying down for a couple of hours sleep was not forthcoming and I got out of bed to have a look at the GPS tracking (a first for the UK!) of the first leg before heading off to my road-crossing station, where I stood for 1 and a half hours with Kris.
Start of the Relay (pinched from Ralph's fb album).

I was running leg 5 (the first day leg) for the depleted ShUOC team - 10.1km with about 280m climb. The plan was to be clean and controlled, no need to push too hard as I'd then make mistakes. I managed this quite well to start with - a few blips but only losing 20 seconds here and there. However I then made a right doosie at control 17, losing 6-7minutes. Thankfully I had a bit of a cushion on the teams behind us, but it did allow Dickie Wren of EPOC to catch me up a few controls later. The rest of the course was quite controlled, if a bit frantic after my mistake.
harvester leg 5 pic
My Garmin GPS trace quickroute.

Of course the best bit about my mistake was that I was being GPS tracked, so everyone back at the start/finish could see what I was getting up to - I'm the Green 'ShUOC' blob, my run starts at 4.17 on the clock, with my big mistake starting at 5.07 - enjoy!
SYO won overall by a mile, ShUOC's team of Treb, Dan, Daverams, BommyT, myself, Little Rob and Schorah finished in 4th and in doing so managed to retain the UK Relay League trophy.

Once finished (and being the recipient of some quality banter. Well, I did earn it!) I had a bit of a rest before heading into Dore to hang the controls for Sunday morning's urban race. By now I was knackered, a bit hacked off with my mistake in the relay and missing the culmination of the Harvester, so a bit frustrated. We managed to get everything sorted out just in time for the start and everyone seemed to enjoy the courses I'd planned on what, when I first saw it, was a pretty unexciting area for an urban race.

By the time everyone had finished and the controls had been collected I'd been awake for getting on 30 hours and was well ready for a bit of kip before driving home - never before has 40 mph felt like a perfectly legitimate speed on Snake!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ballbeard Farm

The parents were walking on Bleaklow this morning, so I got a lift and ran home from Snake Summit. It was a glorious morning and I managed to get plenty of photos. Went over Featherbed Top, down into Ashop Clough and up to the Pennine way before skirting around the west flank of Kinder, before heading up to the Sandy Heyes trig. Then took the Edge path to Kinder Low trig, over Brown Knoll, up South Head and onto Chinley Churn to find the farm. Found it, but unfortunately it didn't have a sign outside it that I could take a photo of - gutted!
Total time was 2:15, for 22.3km with a smidge under 500m of up. I'm look a bit like a crab-stick now! Here's my GPS trace.
 Small pine on Featherbed Top
 Mermaid's pool and the Resser - looking a bit low!
 Sorry mate, no Mars-bars today!
 Mount Famine

Bamford Carnival Fell Race

It's always wondered me how carnival/rose queens feel about giving up their evening drinking cider in the park (or, heaven forbid, doing homework!) to instead hand out drinks and prizes to sweaty fell runners, but bless them they always show up - you can spot them a way off, and it's not normally just because of the sash!

Anyway, tonight was the Bamford Carnival Fell Race (how you hold a carnival in Bamford I don't quite know, I suppose they manage in Hayfield and Hathersage!). 3.75km and 298m of up-tiddly-up to Win Tit, before a slightly shorter banzai route back down - downhill all the way and highly runnable throughout the entire race (the total's 4.5 miles/1000ft to the Luddites!). I'd last run this race in 2008 in the high 36 minute timescale.
The last part of the Win Hill ascent.

There was a big turn-out tonight, both from Pennine (DazH, AdamP, SteveK, JoeN etc. etc.) and in the quality of the field (Bond, Baker, Northrop and more, including young whippet Christian who was 16 today so actually racing!).

Started quick to get through the gate and onto the road ahead of the hordes. Maybe a little too quick so I let some people head on by, keeping a steady if not electric pace. More road than I remember actually, but managed to stay in touch with Mick, Daz et al. as the road turned to track and the gradient ramped up; Steve's watch beeping behind me let me know he was having a good run and pushed me up the hill. A little bit too much hands-on-knees on the first bit (I don't know why, I felt OK. Saving myself a bit?) and a bit of flat before hanging a left at the top of Parkin clough - only to see Bond and Baker coming out of the gate leading from the clough, oops! (I can only hope Rob's navigation is as bad at the Harvester relays this weekend!).
  Anyway, this gives me a little impetus up the hill and I pass Mick, Daz and a couple of others on the final ascent to the Tit, summiting in 20:15. Everyone's spreading out on the descent and I pass Mark from Glossopdale (I think) on the first bit. I'm gaining on the Fat Boy who placed well at Hathersage on the rough bit through the Gorse - as much as I enjoy fast grassy descents I love these steeper bits, glad I wore fell shoes if only for this bit - but he gapped me once we hit the track - legs feeling last night's intervals a bit perhaps?
  I keep the pace up on the descent but without setting the world on fire (although my right heel feels that way!), maintaining the distance to Dave from DP. Hit the road and I'm closing rapidly, managing to pull out a sprint-finish for the first time in a while to finish 12th, just behind young Christian, downhill in 11:20, totalling 31:36 once you round-up.

As for the some other of Pennine, Adam finished 7th, DazH and Steve 15th and 16th respectively, prompting some excited chattering about the Relays later in the year, with Mary and Rob picking up the WV50 and MV60 gongs.

For most of the race I had 'Born to run' in my head after Bossing it up on the drive over. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive back, bombing along Rushup Edge to a bit of this:

  Coming out of the dip in Marsh Lane to see a massive burning sun descending between the hills was quite magical, a fitting ending for a lovely evening. I'm gutted I didn't have a camera with me.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Last week's races: Hathersage Gala and Noel's Down-and-Up Relay.

The last time I did Hathersage I was full of steak and was pretty slow. This time I set off fairly steady but was still ahead of some people I'm normally behind. Once onto Burbage I felt a bit slow, but was putting a gap on those behind and catching Noel and the DP guy ahead. I overtook the latter on the scramble up Higgar, and the former on the descent after crossing the road. I was gaining on Carl Edgill of Hallamshire but he's too good a road-runner and the remaining descent wasn't rough enough to catch him.

It was a bit of a scorcher and my heels were suffering on the dry, flat-surfaced descents. To rest the heels I got up on the balls of my feet, but this just resulted in epic calf pain for the next 3 days!
I finised 7th overall, 20secs behind DazH, with Bond winning in 29:03 to my 32:26.

The Cat and Fiddle down and up Relay, Noel's new event, was excellent, even if the weather wasn't as glorious as previous nights. Teamed up with Little Rob there was some pressure on!

The first 200m were all-out banter start along the track, and Wil and I settled into 3rd and 4th place. Once we hit the first grassy descent we both overtook the 2 ahead and set off, braking hard into corners we couldn't see because rain-drops got in our eyes, the sped we were going! I got ahead of Wil about 1/3rd of the way down and pulled a lead out on Muir behind. At the bottom I managed to take a wrong turning, but thankfully dragged those behind me with me.
I was 1st down by 6 seconds (would have been more without the detour!) and Rob put in the business on the uphill leg to win by 54 seconds from Muir/Adam - my first race victory and record, and some lovely cake (not yet tried the marmalade!).

I spent the weekend in the lakes, marshalling Saturday's Wasdale Fell Race. Unfortunately I managed to leave my camera memory card at home so have no pictures of wrecked runners on Scafell Pike, or the lovely views we were afforded once the clag cleared!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

4 Races, 5 Days.

I've been fairly busy of late, with a fair amount of racing and not a lot in between. Sometimes you just hit a groove and it works for you.

Last Wednesday I headed out to get Neil and Pete's Roving Calender Box up Red Brook, adding in Mermaid's pool to the route, as well as a ride out and back from Kinder Resser.
Meraid's Pool from Redbrook (photo from serigrapher on Flickr)

That evening I headed out to the Hope Wakes Fell Race. I was missing a bit of poke after the earlier exertions but kept it nice and steady up to the top of Win Tit before crashing down to the village taking 4 runners, leaving 3 well behind, and closing in on Noel - unfortunately I didn't quite have the usual flat speed to overhaul him after passing under the railway line.

The next day was Pennine's 'Half Trans-Pennine Relay', run in teams of 4 from Ladybower back to the Royal. I ran Leg 2 from the bridge over the hope valley railway, over Lose Hill, round Back Tor, Hollins Cross and round Mam Tor. Rich set me off in 3rd/4th and by the time I exited Brockett Booth plantation I was leading the race, Dave Ward just behind keeping me honest. Rounding Mam Tor Andy, my 3rd leg, greeted me, and I managed to beat him back to the changeover by a good 100m - oops! Overall we finished 4th as a team - a good performance from all (Dan being the 4th member).

Sunday was the Cliffhanger Ultrasprint - the first mention of Orienteering in this here blog! A 2-race chasing sprint format, where the time from the first race determines your start time for the second, the addition of a specially constructed labyrinth and a lot of controls (30) in a short distance (2km), along with all the public to dodge, makes for a fantastic race in what would normally be a fairly bog-standard Millhouses Park. Add into the mix the presence of several of GB's premier Orienteers and it was a cracking event!
The Cliffhanger Maze.

I felt a bit slow in the prologue but finished 6th behind GG (ex world champ), Oli (multiple British champion and recently 7th at the world long distance mountain running champs), Duncan, Neil (of Calender Box fame) and Daverams, with Treb only 5 seconds behind me.
I had a much better run in the final, running better and picking better routes through the maze. A b ig wobble in the second maze section let Treb get ahead - for all of 3 paces before he made a mistake. I finished in 6th, closer to Dave than I started, but mispunches and an iffy control led to 3 ahead being DQ'd and me finishing 3rd, which was nice!
The Final map - start in the maze, out into the (now very busy) park, then back into the maze!

Eventual winner Graham 'GG' Gristwood.

In my 2 days at Cliffhanger (I helped with all the kids running the maze on the Saturday) I didn't get much time to wander around, but I did see a bit of the bouldering competition, as well as the Dyno world-record attempt, in which Skylar Larkin failed in his 5 allowed attempts (before nailing it on the 6th - but to be a WR you have to do it in 5). Made me think about getting back into trad climbing a bit.

Skylar Larkin atempting to set a new Dyno WR (after doing so at the last few Cliffhangers).

Anyway, the moths are going mental so I'd best go. Up later in the week - Hathersage Gala Race and the down-and-up relays!