Friday, 23 December 2011


"Why hello Peak District, you saucy minx you, I know what you want, you want me to run all over you, don't you? You dirty slut! Well, I'm going to run over you (point at Kinder), you (leers at Chinley Churn), you (drools at Brown Knoll), you (motorboats Mt. Famine and South Head) oh, and Lantern Pike, you filthy little thing, I'm going run up and down you soooo much and sooo hard you're going to be walking bow-legged until next Christmas!"

After a 2am Police raid on my Stockton residence (still non the wiser about that!) and a rather empty day at work I was pretty pleased to be heading home for Christmas.

I thought about listening to some Carols on Classic FM - normally I spend a lot of November/December singing Carols with choirs, but I've managed to miss that this year. However the piece they played first was enough to make your teeth rot - some kind of medley that made Rutter sound like Beethoven. So I opted for The Who's Greatest hits to guide me down the A1, then the Foo Fighters to guide me over Woodhead. It may have been that I was at the end of a long day but I was ridiculously excited about getting back home to the outskirts of the Peak District.

I stopped off at The Royal in Hayfield before going home, where I met up with Iain and a few of the family's climbing friends before Pennine rolled in from an 'epic descent off Sandy Heys' (the best descent not used in a race in the country?). I left fairly sharpish as I thought it better to actually see Ma and Sis at some point in the evening (Dad's in Congo over Christmas, after being in Chad last year). Back home to the Christmas Tree, a warm stove and my childhood favourite dish. 

As the great philosipher Noddy Holder once said: "IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT'S CHRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAS!" (Thanks to my SLMM partner Bedders for that one!)

Kinder normally looks like this from the top of New Mills:

Unfortunately today Kinder looks like this from my bedroom window:
Needless to say I'll be out there at some point today, because even if the weather outside is frightful, the running will be delightful! (groan!)

Anyway, I'll leave you with a Frank song about coming home:

All that's left to say is Merry Christmas to everyone that might stumble across this page, hope you have a good one!

Monday, 19 December 2011

A Distinct Lack of Snow

The last 2 weekends have involved some racing not on the fells. 'For Shame!' I hear you call.

Last Saturday (having just hit the grand old age of 23) was the North Eastern XC championships. Despite this being only my 3rd XC race I've enjoyed my few forays into this dark art in the last few months - there's something quite purging about hammering it for upwards of 30mins with no excuse to slow down (and no stiles!).
Three well-sheltered 4km loops of Cramlington Nature Reserve north of Newcastle was the order of the day. I was expecting the atmosphere to be far from the jovial nature of Fell Running, and whilst it didn't compare it was much more festival-like than I anticipated, from toilet queue banter to the support all around the course ("Fantastic running lads, work together to reel [the group up ahead] in") - I was expecting it to be all cliquey and acrimonious. On the start line I saw Ben Abdelnoor from that well known North Eastern club 'WaiAimbleside', so I said hello and mentioned I was also a fell runner (though obviously well south of his standard).
The Course was fast but quite muddy. I had a fairly sensible race. I was passed by a group at the beginning of the last lap but managed to work my way back up to, and then through, them, before picking off a few more to finish 39th - the position I'd been counted through at the end of lap one when myself and 'The Reverend' were having a battle. The race was won some 8 minutes ahead by GBR squaddie Ricky Stevenson. 8 mins over 8 miles - ouch!

Yesterday I made my first tentative steps onto the start-line of a Road Race - the darkest of dark arts. In an attempt to salve the Fell Running Gods I'd chosen Loftus and Whitby AC's Poultry run which contains some climb and a couple of off-road sections in its 8-mile duration. I set off quite hard (harder than usual) and was pleased to be able to maintain my pace for most of the race. I lost 2 places but also gained 2 and finished 10th - unfortunately not quite good enough for a poultry-based prize. The race was again won by Ricky Stevenson, but this time I was only 6:20 behind. More promising was that I was within 3 minutes of 3rd place (and a big lump of Turkey).
Overtaking 1km before the finish. Courtesy Dave Aspin
(oh and it was freezing and windy so the gloves are warranted!)
As you can tell from the picture above, there's not much snow about round these parts. Needless to say I'm hoping some will descend on the peaks once I get home (Woodhead permitting) for Christmas late Thursday evening (first stop: The Royal to meet up with Pennine). I'm looking forward to some long days in the hills (and snow hopefully - the more company the merrier!), a roaring fire stove and some good food and beer! And maybe a satellite-delayed phone call from Dad in the Congo!

The FRA Calendar has hit the mat and I'm really looking forward to 2012 on this hills!

PS. I managed to win my 3rd Parkrun as well - 18:40 isn't a good time but not bad considering the park was an ice-rink. Speed-skating arms were de rigueur.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Eskdale Eureka

The latest race in the Esk Valley Winter Series didn't, despite its name, require one to strip bare, run through town yelling 'Eureka' - not that it would have made much difference in Castleton (North Yorkshire, not the caverny one at the foot of Winnat's in the peak) early this Sunday morning as it appeared no-one was there at all. Anyway, what with it now no longer being November I didn't really have the facial hair to replicate Archimedes' streak (not that I did at the end of a month of facial folicular floundering).
Who's this unsavoury looking character at the end of November?
Anyway, I digress.
It was a chilly morning with the mercury (or whatever the car dashboard uses) hovering just above freezing. The 8-mile race route heads east out of Castleton over Westerdale Moor before a lap of Baysdale and a return over Westerdale before the uphill finish (argh!). It's all very runnable with 4 short but sharp climbs.
Something like this but with a different start/finish making the race a bit shorter than advertised (Esk Valley)

Climb 3 out of Hob Hole in Baysdale (Mick Garratt,
  Stuck in the kind of cold which isn't really vicious enough to use as an excuse but definitely knocks 10-20% off your performance rates I was hoping for a nice pack run out to the far end of the race then start winding it up on the track run to Hob Hole. Cameron, however, had a different idea and made it an honest race setting the pace from the off. I managed to mark him throughout and he didn't break the elastic.

At the Start (Clive from Esk Valley)

Cameron leads 2km in (Clive from Esk Valley). The gap stayed about this distance right until the end.

I took the lead with a better line to the Splash, but Cam got me on the climb out (see above picture). A few different lines on the way back across Westerdale didn't make much difference, but my new rubber told on the descent to the bottom of the final climb as we came together. However I knew what was going to happen and, sure enough, Cam pissed off up the hill and left me staggering up in his wake. Cam got a new record, about 30 seconds ahead of me. The boy's good!

New X-talons = can now run down hill like I want to!
An enjoyable day out, thanks to Dave for his usual organisational work. The weather turned just as the front-runners made it back so it was a bit grotty for those further back (some of whom were in vests only!)

More hill work needed!

Friday, 2 December 2011

We apologise for the delay

Leaves on the line (aka laziness) have recently caused a cessation in posts, but regular service shall soon be resuming (whether you like it or not!).

A brief update:

SPOOK Weekend: The usual shenanigans for the annual get together of Sheffield Postgraduate Occasional (old?) Orienteering Klubb. A bit of Orienteering, a lot of drinking, some football, some dancing and lots of hilarious happenings, few of which are broadcastable. I never normally get nervous, mainly as there's nothing to get nervous about, but being given a pint to down in the beer race as part of the SPOOK 1st team (one of the country's premier sporting establishments), I was bricking it. Despite not being on top form we thankfully won... just, courtesy of Mr. Northrop.
Classic SPOOK weekend (Emily Wood)

Fell Running: 2 races: Guisbrough 3 Tops late October, 5th, tired body, tired legs (but I did get to meet Daleside); Kirbymoor in the South Lakes, some top guys there (Addisons, Bell, Abdelnoor. Finished 13th, 3mins off 5th. Again tired and would like to be at the front of the group I was at the back of. Still got the descending though!
Guisbrough 3 Tops, top of the final descent (Dave Aspin) Maybe bigger shorts are required...
XC: Perversely I've enjoyed by 2 forays into XC in the NYSD (North Yorks South Durham) league so far this season. OK one wasn't very inspiring (4 laps of some sloping fields) but it's fun to gun it and actually race people (all too often in fell races I end up on my own). I've finished 8th in both my races - in the second one I helped the team to first place. It's also shown I do still have a sprint finish (albeit on that M50s can't handle, but it's a start).
NYSD Summerhill, Hartlepool, just before the sprint finish is unveiled! (Dave Aspin again)
Orienteering: Other than the excellent SPOOK Relays, It's been a bit quiet, a park race, a toddle round Ramsley Moor. The Tim Watkins Blodslitet Mass-start race on Silver Howe last weekend was really good fun though, long, rough and challenging, just as O should be!

Work: Is good, if leaving me a little tired every now and then.

A couple of races left this year, including my first 'road' race (shock!), I'm already into something which resembles winter training and I'm looking forward to making plans for next year (at the moment I want to do everything).
I'll leave you with this 'vision':

The return of the porno vest/uber porno shorts/headband combo at the SPOOK relays (Martin Ward)