Friday 1 September 2017

Madness of King George - More Laps Than Lapland

When I entered this new event, I wasn't sure how recovered I would be from my recent adventure across Wales only two weeks prior, my body would be. So when it came to starting I wasn't 100% recovered but I was going to give it a go anyway.

The Madness of King George is a 12 hour running event set down in Cornwall in a town called Hayle. The course is 1.06 mile laps along the King George Memorial Walk. The out route was along the tarmac road which is closed to traffic on Sunday's and back along the gritty dusty footpath right next to the road. The two only separated by the odd bushes.

As the event got closer, I tried not to think about it too much, and just let what be happens. The weather was looking good and having parents who live down that part of the world allowed me to get a good night sleep without having to worry about a long travel prior.

The race was starting at 8am on the Sunday and we arrived just after 7am for registration and kit check. Kit check? Yep we had mandatory kit to carry even though it was just over a mile a lap. Why? Well it was one of the rules and it was designed to be annoying to make the event harder.

Pre Start
Other rules like - No leaving the course except for using the toilet or injury treatment. No drop bags or no pace runners. If you don't last the full 12 hours you DNF even if you stop at 11 hours 59 mind 59 secs.

Some time based events will allow you to have drop bags, etc and allow you to run as much or as little as you want. This event was no such event. But we knew that when entering and that's probably why only 15 of us entered. On the day though there was 1 DNS due to injury so 14 of us lined up. I was pretty lucky, I knew quite a few of the runners, so the event also became a bit of a run with friends. I was toeing the line with some pretty handy runners like Loyd and Kay from the At-Your-Pace Trail Team, as well as other local pocket rockets like Laura Milward, Sharon Sullivan and Mickee Jelf. They're bloody awesome people who kept smiling and miling (is that a word?) all the way around event.

Out bound section
The countdown started and soon we went on our way, just the 14 of us. Being a such a small lap you could see the turn around point pretty soon. In the middle they had marshals and at the turn around point they had an aid station well stocked with the usual drinks etc you'd expect.

Every time I got to the turn around point I made the point of tapping the top of the turn around cone. This to me was a mental thing to myself to say well done that's another turn around ticked off. It was the same as the cone at the start. I did it every lap at each end.

One of the few morale boosting signs
I decided I was going to get a few comfortable good laps in and see how it went from there. The course was flat (except for the speed humps) so there was no hills sadly. It makes the race game different to a hilly course for sure.

It wasn't long before the temperature rose, and we all started to fee the heat as we made our way up and down the course. You were never alone on the course, you either had someone on your side of the course or going to down the other side. Thumbs up were given or words of encouragement each time by all! That never stopped even in the darker periods (mentally) and that is just something that made the event special.

Mid way through pic taken by Jelly bean
After about 20 miles my wheels started to come off in the heat and by 27 miles I was almost close to throwing the towel in. I'd would be wearing a Jesters Hat if I did DNF'd. So I decided I was going to sacrifice my target and get some treatment on my legs. They were very tired from recent events and with the heat also. So I got a massage that was provided for free. Boy was it needed! I had two people working on my legs so they could speed up the process.

I got back out there and god my legs felt almost brand new. They were no longer calling me a stupid twat and were back in the game. With my target mileage gone I decided just to go and enjoy as many laps as I could, just to keep going round and round.

Well needed treatment! pic taken by Jelly Bean
Each lap got tougher and tougher as the heat continued. The marshals were superb, as you came through the finish of each lap they were offering all the runners food, bottle top ups, dunking their buffs in cold water etc.

I was lucky to have my wife on support for me, as we could have stuff given to us on course, she had my spare bottles so all I had to was swap them over so wasted little to no time waiting to get them filled up.

My wife who often supports me is just pretty amazing even if she gives me a lot of tough love on the courses.

Not that it was need but route signage to stop you getting lost lol
Eventually the time ticked away and as we approached the last hour the temperature slowly started to cool down especially as the sun was no going down behind the houses on one side of the course.

Me and Loyd on our last lap together
The last lap soon arrived for me and I decided enough was enough. So I took my time getting to the turn around point and took a seat on a rock as I drank some water cheering on those going past. I made my way back and saw Loyd doing a similar thing on a bench so I sat with him as another runner joined us and we clapped those going past. We event did an arch for one runner. The three of us made our way back to the finish, 12 hours had finished and we were done. With our swagger on we crossed the line to the cheers and clapping from everyone who had finished already, the marshals and the supporters. Loyd had crossed the line as the winner, putting in a top 73 miles.

We got our swagger on!
Me I had come last for the first time ever if you don't included the DNS entrant. I had managed just over 41 miles in the 12 hours. I can't be too disappointed though, if I was running on fresh legs, injury free I would have been go for over 50 miles and maybe pushing towards 100K. However it wasn't meant to be this time but I am not sad, I finished the 12 hours, and I enjoyed myself despite it being flat and tarmac. I was surrounded by some great runners, friends and family. What is there to be sad about?

I earnt that huge medal! Hand Made and weighed a lot!
For the first time of running this event, it went from my view on it pretty well. David the RD did a great job. Is it an event I would attempt again? Yeah of course, I only repeat events that are worth repeating.

So because if work that was my last event of the year. I will now be training for the Arc of Attrition 100 mile race next year. It's going to be interesting especially as most of my training will be done on a Warship at sea.

I'd like to thank Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continued support, it got me through a tough 12 hours.

My wife for being just an amazing support crew once again. I'm nothing with out her support.

So thank you for reading, until next time!


"We'll never truly find our limits until we try something we can't do"

Saturday 19 August 2017

Mudcrew's R.A.T "the Plague" 2017 - to be infected or not to be? That is the question.

In 2016 I had to defer my place in Mudcrew's "the Plague" 64 mile coastal path race due to an injury I incurred attempting to play football with work colleagues.

I helped out at one of the CP's that year and it was then when I realised my own event YOLO 2017 (see blog) was due to finish the same weekend as the following years Plague. It was one of the RD's and a friend of mine Andrew Ferguson who suggested I moved my event left and do both.

That was exactly what I decided to do. Now leading up to it lots of people were calling me crazy for even contemplating it. Maybe I was but I didn't want to waste the entry money. It could end being the most heroic performance I have ever done or the most expensive mile I have ever ran.

The time came and I had made it (just about) to the start line. Despite having a swollen Extensor Digititous Longus Tendon from my YOLO 17 adventure which finished only the day before, I was determined to give it a go.

Yay I made the start line!
Before hand I had set some goals. The first was to make the start line, which I had done, the second was to complete the race under the cut offs and the third was to finish the route. Now the third I had kind permission to do from the RDs who knew what I was doing. I had my own support crew still from YOLO 17 following me so I had no need for CP's or medical cover so basically my support crew was my insurance. So if I got pulled from the race for missing cut offs, I'd hand my number in and carry on.

I registered, got a hug from Jane one of the other RDs and tried to relax before the race. I caught up with friends who had come from all over and then tried to get some sleep in the van. It wasn't going to happen though. My mind was all over the place.

I got my self changed and prepped ready for the race. It was soon time to go listen to the elites that were invited to the race. This year GB international Jo Meek was giving a talk and she was then joined by friend's Paddy Robbins and Sharon Law (GB 24 hr Elites) for some Q & A. It was great catching up with them.

Some of my friends setting up their tents
The weather had slowly gotten worse over night with the rain coming in. It wasn't going to get any better until later the next day.

We were soon briefed by the RDs and medical team and in minutes few after we made our way to the start line. It was an early morning start, starting at 0005 Sat morning. I was pretty nervous now, all the waiting beforehand made me just want to get on with it.

A count down was shouted out and we were sent on our way. Everyone soon took off and I was passed pretty much by everyone except the sweeps as we headed down the hill to the South West Coastal Path.

All ready to go!
Knowing the SWCP well, I knew it wasn't going to be easy and with the added pressure of the cut offs I definitely was feeling the pressure and my so was my tired legs. Down the steps I went and up the steps I went. I saw the head torch lights go in the distance.

Luckily the sweepers were two friends of mine and I felt very honoured to be running with them. Already though I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace. I was struggling with the descents my tendon was in pain and I wanted to cut my leg off. Before I made the first CP, I had decided enough was enough. As Simon said to me I had to think of the future events I have coming up. So I did, I made CP1 under the cut off time but I handed my number in and called it quits. I didn't want to go on by myself either.

Me, Simon and Paul (the two sweepers).

After 155 miles of running I had knocked it on the head. Another 59 miles was not worth it.

So that was the end of my Plague attempt and I am still infected. It didn't matter though, I didn't need the bling, and I didn't need the invite to the Arc of Attrition 100 mile race as I was already qualified and entered for next year anyway.

I can not fault the event though, the organisation was spot on, and everything ran like clockwork. If you read all the other reviews you would be mad not to attempt one of the 4 distances you race during the R.A.T weekend.

We have some of the best events in the South West and I can recommend them all to all my Northern friends it's worth the travel.

Again I'd like to thank Fergie, Jane and Andy the RDs for accommodating my needs for the race, even if it didn't go the way I wanted. My amazing support crew (Wife Cathy and son) who did so much from the start of the week until I stopped and Tailwind Nutrition UK for their support.

Next up is Madness of Kind George 12 hr race on 27th Aug. Fingers crossed I'm recovered in time.

Thank you all

"We'll never truly find our limits until we try something we can't do"

YOLO 2017 - A Hill Too Far?

In the words of Jeremy Clarkson and crew "Ambitious but rubbish" comes to mind, probably from of a few people. However that wasn't  how it was supposed to turn out and looking back at it, it still wasn't to a certain degree.

When I finished YOLO 2015, I needed a new adventure to look forward to and so I started planning of what I could do. I chose to raise money for Child Bereavement UK as it seemed the logical next step after my friend Phil had passed away leaving two young children behind. Justgiving Page

Kit all packed and ready to go!
Having a pretty positive 2016 in racing, the plans I had laid down were achievable. I had originally meant to finish on the Sunday, however due to defering "the Plague" 64 mile Mudcrew race in 2016, I moved my event left so I could do both. I didn't want to waste my entry money.
The start line
So I set the route and it was all go. As time grew near, life grew manic with work getting busier and receiving a lot of negativity from outside groups, it really started to effect my mojo.

To be honest if I hadn't set this as a fundraising event I'd probably have not bothered. However I decided to still go ahead. The time came and we made our way up to North Wales. The trip was pretty good to be honest and we stayed the first night in a hotel close to the start in Prestatyn.

Before we started I set my self some goals which were:

1. Take each day of YOLO as it comes.

2. Complete YOLO.

3. Make the start line if "the Plague"

4. Finish "the Plague" under cut offs

5. Finish the route if I don't hit 4.

6. Raise more money for Child Bereavement UK.

The first day was going to be pretty tough going from the start and I wasn't wrong. I was straight into a climb from the off, the weather was overcast and the ground was wet, it didn't take long for my feet to get soaked int he long grass.

I chose not to go with Gortex shoes or socks for the very reason if they did get wet inside then they would dry off quicker being none Gortex, than if water got in and was not be able to dry.

So I made my way following the route, up and down hills, I started to lose a lot of time though navigating my way through some of the farmer fields. The hills were well marked it was the farmers sections which weren't. This, the climbs and descents, the stiles and gates along with wet feet that were now suffering were taking up valuable time.

Did I under estimate how tough it will be? Not at all! I knew it would be, it's why I set it as a challenge. If it was going to easy then every one would do it. I got 17 miles in and I had to get my wife (support crew) to sort my feet out, they were looking bad from the wet. It took a fair bit of time but it was sorted. Off I went again.

However as time went on I was realising how much time I had lost. The days mileage I wanted to achieve wasn't going to be achieved if I wanted to get some rest in to go again. So I called it a day after about 11 ish hours. My morale was pretty low to be honest. To try and pick my morale up, the wife booked us into a hotel instead of sleeping in the van. So I could get sorted and re evaluate the rest of the week ahead.

After a good meal at the hotel and what not, chatting with the wife. The sensible way of attacking this was to go and run as much as I could each day. As I set my goals the first one was to take each days as they come.

The next day, again feet soaked from the start as I continued down the Offa's Dyke path towards Welshpool. The weather couldn't make its mind up at all, with even thunderstorms going off. It was going to be one of those days again. The first part of the day was filled with more climbs, but then I soon got to run more flatter parts along the River Severn as well as the aqua-duct to Welshpool.

I crossed the Welsh/English border many times
My morale soon picked up when I was joined by two friends Sarah and Russ Powell, who accompanied me for the rest of my run. As we caught up with each other, and they put up with my moaning about what had gone wrong the miles as slipped away behind us. I was enjoying myself once more. Eventually the flat part went as we left King Offa's Dyke and entered the Glyndwr's Way path in Welshpool.

Sarah and Russ! They were brill.
Quick feet repair and we were off into the hills once more! After 490 metre climb to the top of one hill, we caught our breathe and took in the sights, we noticed a bloody golf course at the top. WTF, what a random thing to see at the top of such a big climb. We eventually made our way down the sharp descent and again after almost 12 hours I was done. Sarah's mum who lived not too far away kindly fed us and put us up for the night.

That was 2 days of the adventure done, and with an early start I tried to get as much rest as possible.

One of the many challenges I had along the route.
From experience of my last epic adventure, day 3 was the worst day mentally and physically, fingers crossed this day 3 was going to be different. Apart from my feet, the rest of me felt alright, considering. It was straight into the climbs once more, and seeing the amazing views that I have already come to accustom to.

Like the first two days my feet were soaked straight away, the climbs were big and the descents through the woods slippy.At one as well the trail was completely over grown with Bracken so much so I had to hack my way through with my poles. I started to feel pain in my right shin, it wasn't like shin splint pain, it was difference. My leg also started to swell. I got to 13.5 miles and I had to call it a day through the pain, and also the weather came in hard! What turned out to be a good start to the day, turned into a shit day.

As the rain lashed down I started to ponder heavily on why I was putting myself through this. I even got to a point where I was asking my late friend Phil for help with the weather. Yep I really did do this. I decided I was going to continue and just do as much as I can regardless.

Day 4 was a new day, I put my shoes on and went again, determined to have a much better day. It was again starting off with a big climb, one of almost 600 metres, and I was feeling pretty good about myself, I made my way up to the top, it was a pretty tricky surface as it was covered in lots of slate shards, again feet were soaked from the start.

At the top of the climb from the right I came and around the lake I went to the left (the wrong path it became)
I got to the top and took in the breath taking views by the lake at the top. I was 5 miles in and thinking well, it's going well so far. I got a bit of a run on and I was feeling good. I kept moving forwards and heading off in what I thought was the right direction. I had no phone signal, and I thought I was following track, I kept going and my morale was high. Eventually my phone went ping, I had signal. so I thought I'd check my tracker to see if I was still on course and marry it up with the guide book maps. Alas my morale soon dropped, I was off course going by the tracker. I could see where I should be (well so I thought). I sent my support crew a text saying I knew I was off track going back to rejoin. Knowing I was going back out of signal, I thought best do this.

When I originally realised I was off track and I thought I wasn't that far from the right route. 
So off back up the hill I ran down, trying to find the point I thought I'd gone wrong. I got to that point and went the other path. Again I tried to tie it in with the guide maps. I went through a ford crossing, and I still kept moving forward, eventually my phone bings again. It was my wife responding to my text. So I quickly check the tracker. It's frozen in the last position I checked it. I check the guide and google maps. I am way off again, so I put in directions to the nearest place name on the path I am supposed to go.

I'm gutted, it's 8.2 miles away from where I was. So I get a move on, I keep thinking I will come to the place I went wrong soon. I got to the gate I thought I had originally I went wrong, nope that wasn't it. I go back along the track I came from, and I keep going. Again each time I thought this must be it, I was wrong. Eventually I got to the lake where I knew I was right. and I saw a sign post fallen on the deck in the bushes. Yep it's the sign post that would've taken me on the correct path if I had seen it. I was devastated. My wife came and met me, as I decided enough was enough. I was in pain and I had covered a total of pretty much 20 miles. 14 ish miles of those were completely off the Glyndwr's Way. It totally ruined me!

After a reasonable sleep it was time to forget about the previous days and try again. Day 5 was another hilly day, and again I went out with the best positive outlook I could conjure. My feet soaking again I carried on up and down, up and down. The views still never disappointed but my injury wasn't getting any better either. I was in a lot of pain now especially on the sharp descents. Eventually it came too much and I called it a day once more, feeling a little dejected. That was the end of the Glyndwr's Way section for me.

One slightly more swollen that the other (it got worse after this)

As I sat a friends house where they were putting us up for two nights (never turn down a good bed and home cooked food) when I received a private message on Facebook. It was this message that changed how I was looking at things. It showed me what I was doing was a good thing, and I shouldn't stop. My wife had also managed to book me in with a local Phsyio who was able to give me a little treatment, to try and help me finish the next two days.
The message that kicked me up the arse to keep going. 
Off I went on Day 6 and it started with a huge climb once more and it allowed me to literally run in the clouds. I was at the top of Hay Bluff. I was heading South now on the Offa's Dyke again. It was strange running in the clouds, although the trails at the top were fantastic. I was able to get a shift on. I got to the Cairn where a friend Rich Cranswick had left me a spirit lifting present. However when I got there it appear someone else had already found it. Despite this, knowing someone went through the effort to do something so kind for me, still made me smile. I carried on making my way along until it suddenly descended at such a sharp angle my leg couldn't take it any more and that was the end of my day. I need to make it to the start line of the Plague and as well as one more day of YOLO to go. However I wasn't down about it, I had a really good run up until then.

I was little running in clouds at this point
So the final day, after chatting to the wife, we decided I have to finish on a high. I needed to complete the whole section. Regardless, how long it took. It started off like all the other days, wet feet and with climbs. The views again were awesome and it tool me through places such as Monmouth along the way.

As I made my way, through a set of climbs with about 11 miles to go to Chepstow. I cam across a guy who was walking in the other direction. I noticed he had something on his t-shirt, so I briefly stopped to speak to him. He was walking South to North along the Offa's Dyke. He was doing it on behalf of his recent late wife. It sort of brought a tear to my eye as he told be his story. I shook the man's hand wished him well and took a pic of his t-shirt so I could donate towards his cause.

The guy I met along the way who was walking the Dyke in 2 weeks for his wife.
It again made me think about myself, it sort of slapped me across the face. I was going to finish this and make that Plague start line.

I came across a choice of Offa's Dyke Path's one took me up and over the hills the other took me along the River Wye. I choose the flatter path so I could stretch my legs a bit. The was quite warm out and with little cover, I did feel it a little. Was it the right choice of path? I dunno but even with having to deal with a fallen tree, I continued on eventually conquering one last climb before coming down into Chepstow and the finish.

As I made my way down through the town I eventually made my way over the bridge towards Chepstow Castle which was my finish line. As I approached I saw my support crew waiting for me and I made it to the end.

My reward for finishing!
Looking back on it, some will say it's was too big a challenge for me. I don't think it was in sense I am capable of it, just this time for various reasons it wasn't meant to be. Whether it was down to the negativity I have received over the last few months, whether it was my navigation, the weather, wet feet every day etc etc that is something I will sit down and reflect on.

I do think there are lots of positives from all this. I could've quit before I started, I could've quit after the first day and so forth but I didn't. Every day I got up and went again. No doubt those people who want to knock me will still do but I did invite people to join me and they didn't so it shows more of their character than mine.

Could compress for my swollen Extensor Digitorium Longus Tendon
I saw some so much during my run, from Sheep, Cows, Grouse, Pigs to Golf Course up a big hill, some of the most stunning views I have seen in the UK. Definitely something I would do again.

Did I find my limit? No I think this wasn't my limit but it wasn't my week that's all. I have still raised money for a good cause, I still ran/walked/crawled the Offa's Dyke and Glyndwr's Way in some form and I got to see some of the most sunning views I will never forget.

I couldn't have done it with out my support crew- my wife and son are awesome. Thank you Russ and Sarah for joining me and putting me up for a night, the Hopkins for putting us up for 2 nights, it's the little things like that which installs my faith back into running community.

Thank you to Tailwind Nutrition UK for all their support. It got me through the week with very little issues nutrition wise and I was in a far better place than I was in 2015's adventure.

I made it to the start line of the Plague, which will be in my next blog.

Thank you all for the support, what's the next adventure? You'll have to wait and see!


A short film of my journey edited by Runnexplorer click link

Sunday 21 May 2017

Hope24 2017 - Tale of two halves

The weather forecast weeks prior for the start of Hope24 wasn't positive. It was constantly changing but bad weather was going to play it's part. Unlike the previous years where the weather has been pretty good, this year was deemed to be not as lucky according to the weather gods. So I was planning ahead in regards to kit selection and game plan. Last thing I wanted was my own planning to let me down.
Setting up my base for the event
I wasn't setting myself a target to hit, as I had no need I already have a place in AoA18 and I wanted to use this as a training session for the big adventure in August.

I would be happy enough if I hit at least 60 miles in the 24 hour period, but I wouldn't get upset if I didn't. I also planned on not clock watching . My watch would be on my pack and not my wrist so I wouldn't be checking pace or time.

All registered and ready to go
The morning of the event arrived, and the sun was out and getting unexpectedly warm. I already knew the course lay out as I was out helping set up on the Friday morning, and knew how stunning the course was.

My son was running the 2.4km kids race before the main event so I was running with him. Last year he was ill so this year I had no doubt he's smash it. He was quite excited about it all. Smashed it, he did! I was so proud of him.

Me and my boy before his race.
It wasn't long after we were called for a safety brief prior to the start of the main event. We gathered around to listen to Pete Drummond well given brief and then positioned ourselves on the start line. For the first time ever both myself and my wife stood on the same start line for the same event. My in laws were looking after our son so we both could run our race. With the sun shining and the temperature very warm we were off. The course was changed so it wasn't the same as previous years. The course was probably the best one for scenery so far. It really made the run far more enjoyable!
Stunning Bluebell trails
Seeing so many familiar faces along the course was fantastic, having brief chats as we passed along the way. The beauty of these types of events is that you are never along for too long on the course. I think the longest period was probably about 6pm ish when it was a couple of miles into a lap before some one passed me. I think it appeared to be the break period for most.

Random stuffed toys nailed to the trees that have been there a fair while
As the event went on the weather changed and the rain started. It was off and on a lot. It was heavy too when it was on. I go to take my jacket off and it was start again. Soon as time went on it was relentless. I started to see some runners still in road shoes slipping and sliding all over the place along the trails. It was funny at first but soon got worrying.

I was doing well enough for myself. Happy to take it easy as it darkened and the rain got worse. I was still moving forward and the Saucony Peregrines were handling the terrain well enough.

As it got darker it was head torches on for the runners, the rain didn't give up either. I was waiting for a good spell in the weather window to change my wet clothes. Alas that wasn't to come yet.

Snacking on the go just as the rain started again into the night -Pic agimages
The next two laps I helped guide some runners. During one lap I came across a friend Fiona, who I had met through Escape from Meriden, on the course. Her head torch had failed, and despite trail shoes she wasn't confident in the conditions. So I pointed out the rocks, the tree roots and other hazards as we made our way round.

We made it to the end of the lap around 10.50pm and we were greeted by Pete and marshals saying they had postponed the event at 10.15pm until further notice. It was for the safety of the masses they said, and it was the right decision. After waiting for about an hour my wife told me to get some kip as I was starting to get cold. During this kip we heard it was re starting at 5am. A forced kip was not going to be turned down.

I woke to Pete saying it was due to start and I was close to not wanting to get out of bed. I did and I managed to get back out just after the restart. Soon enough I was back around the course. Getting the legs going again was something but it was good practice for the big adventure as I will have to do it over and over again.

I put in some more laps as it warmed up and eventually it was time for the last lap. I was joined by my wife for the first time. She has slipped during her first lap and hurt her ankle and only managed another one since til our last lap. She was determined to get round. It was probably the best finish to a race I have had.

Me and the wife
As went round I caught up with Sarah Booker, a fellow blogger and runner. She's brilliant! She was supporting her husband on his solo quest. We had a chat and hug and they went on.

Then Luke from my club who for the first time had run 50 miles joined us for the remainder. He too had hurt his ankle so was happy to take it easy. I am so pleased for Luke. He is brill and he did great.

As me and the wife entered the final arena bit we enjoyed the atmosphere as we made it round til we decided to have a sprint finish together. I am so proud of my wife, and having run with her and my son in the same event was definitely a highlight of my running journey. They were brilliant!

My boy, wife and myself with our well earnt bling!
That brings me to end really. Although not on pace compared to last year, I am still pleased with how things went. Yes it could've gone better but I am not worried. Despite missing out on 7 hours I still felt good to go again and again. So I knew I had more laps in me and having hit 1 short of my minimum for 24 hours I am not going to complain.

The event is pretty special, the atmosphere, organisation is brilliant. The community feel is outstanding and the fact I get to run it with so many friends is great. If you've not run this event before I suggest you put in your future calendar.
This race was for a friend who sadly passed away through mental illness.
Thanks to Tailwind Nutrition UK for their continued support.

Until next time!!

"We'll never truly find our limits until we try something we can't do"

Tuesday 2 May 2017

There is no Map in Hell Blog Tour - Day 3

Anyone who's into endurance running, fell running, trail running will have heard something about the Wainright Round. 214 fells in England's Lake District with 36,000m ascent over 515km is pretty epic in itself, now imagine running that in a specific time! In 1986 Joss Naylor a legend in fell running, set a new record of 7 days and 1 hour to cover all 214 fells. Fast forward 19 years and Steve Birkinshaw an endurance runner with a background in elite orienteering and endurance running made his attempt to break what was deemed a record impossible to break. 

Steve smashed the record covering the 214 fells, 515km and 36,000m of ascent in 6 days and 13 hours. That's just incredible! 

Now Steve has written a fantastic book There is no Map in Hell which opens by setting out how this man got into the world of fell running and the account of the amazing Wainright Round performance. His book goes on sale this week in the UK. A book which I didn't want to put down.

The publisher invited Ultra Running Matelot to take part in Steve's Blog Tour which will be published on various blogs over 9 days. I feel really humbled to be able to publish Day 3 of the tour for There is no Map in Hell and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. You can find the links and dates to the other blogs below.

So here is Day 3's tour blog.

Best and worst moments of the Wainwright round
By Steve Birkinshaw

Throughout the seven days of my Wainwright round, I went through some extreme physical and emotional highs and lows. This was exhausting, and my years of experience definitely helped immensely to prepare me for these radical ups and downs. I was thinking about including my summary of the personal highs and lows in my book There is no Map in Hell, but chose not to. However I think it helps to demonstrate the intensity of the week, so I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to publish it on Owain’s blog.

Day 1 (Keswick – Ennerdale):
HIGH – Setting off on my epic journey with a small group of family and friends watching.
HIGH – Climbing to the top of Latrigg – one Wainwright down 213 to go.
LOW – Getting very hot on the tussocks around Armboth Fell.
LOW – Climbing Glaramara whilst feeling dehydrated and tired. I have only been going for six hours.
HIGH– A bit of rain on Allen Crags and I immediately feel a bit better.
BIG LOW – Being violently sick towards the end of the first day and wondering if it is only going to get worse.
BIG LOW – Lying down unable to sleep after the first day.

Day 1 - Approaching the summit of Castle Crag at the end of the first section
Day 2 (Ennerdale - Duddon):
HIGH – A lovely sunrise and then cooler cloudy day and I am feeling OK.
HIGH – On top of Scafell Pike (25% done!) and no injuries or blisters.
LOW – My first blister approaching Hard Knott Pass.
HIGH – The toughest, highest rockiest sections completed. Better running from now on.
LOW – The midges at the Duddow, the worst I have known in England.
BIG LOW – Four more hours' lying down unable to sleep as my knees throb with extreme pain.

Day 3 (Duddon – Rydal)
HIGH – A lovely morning over the Coniston Fells.
LOW – The tracker shows we have missed Dow Crag and my wife (Emma) rings us up at 6am to see what has happened.
HIGH –We can confirm to Emma that the tracker is wrong and we went the correct way.
HIGH – A hot shower at the Great Langdale Bunkhouse.
LOW – The section to Silver Howe seems to take forever and the climb to Loughrigg is extremely hot.
BIG LOW – More lying down unable to sleep, until I finally drift off after some physio from Phil Davies.

Day 4 (Rydal – Howtown)
HIGH – A night section over Fairfield which is nice and cool.
HIGH – Red Screes … the half way point!
LOW – Tendonitis at the front of my ankle in my right leg.
LOW – A hot day and feeling shattered as I climb out of Kentmere.
LOW – In agony from my blisters as we approach High Street.
HIGH – My support team manage to drain the blisters and I start to move better again.
HIGH – Finally reach Howtown after nearly twenty-four hours on my feet.
HIGH – Finally I get a good four hours sleep.

Day 4 - Climbing Mardale Ill Bell without his shoes on due to blister pain
Day 5 (Howtown – Troutbeck):
BIG LOW – My blisters and tendonitis are really sore. I walk up Hallin Fell without shoes on and come down very slowly. I begin to doubt if I can achieve this.
HIGH – Climb The Nab really strongly and I can manage to jog downhill on rocky paths.
HIGH – Two hot showers and houses as support points during the day.
LOW – Extremely hot and draining as we climb out of Glenridding.
HIGH – Lots of people out to see me including a family with children of a similar age to mine.
HIGH – Clough Head (three-quarters complete!) and a nice view of my house.
BIG LOW – The steep descent off of Great Mell Fell is agony on my tendonitis.
HIGH – Another good four hours sleep.

Day 5 - Looking tired on the final approach to Helvellyn
Day 6 (Troutbeck – Pheasant Inn, Wythop):
BIG LOW – More agonising treatment on my blisters and then I hobble out of the campervan barely able to walk.
HIGH – I climb strongly up Souther Fell and I am moving better again.
LOW – I start to feel sick and bloated again. I take it easy and don’t eat or drink much for a while.
HIGH – Emma comes with me up Carrock Fell.
HIGH – Loads of people come out to see me over the northern fells. There is an England flag up for me at Longlands Fell and I am given an ice cream at Lonscale Fell.
LOW – I go through a really tired spell and need a five-minute power nap on the summit of Great Cockup.
LOW – If I place my foot down slightly twisted I scream in agony as the shoe presses on my blister.
HIGH – My supporters find a nice route off Ullock Pike avoiding the rough descent.
LOW – I try to hide from my children how painful the blister treatment is.
LOW– The road out and back to Binsey is as horrible as I expect and I am unable to run much as I am feeling sick and tired.
BIG LOW – My whole body feels like it is gradually disintegrating. I have a bad cough, I feel sick most of the time, I am struggling to hold a conversation and concentrate for more than short periods at any time. The end is in sight but I am still doubting that I can make it.
HIGH – Another good four hours’ sleep.

Day 7 (Pheasant Inn- Keswick)
BIG LOW – Wake up feeling awful and burst into tears at the thought of running all day on painful blisters.
HIGH – We make holes in my shoes to relieve the pressure on my blisters.
HIGH – I am still climbing strongly.
LOW – Descents are still extremely painful.
BIG HIGH – it gets to 4 p.m. and people start appearing from all directions to join me.
BIG HIGH – A brilliant atmosphere as I arrive at Newlands.
BIG HIGH – Loads of people on the last leg with me, many of whom have helped me on the way around.
BIG HIGH – Even more people are waiting on my final peak, Cat Bells.
BIG BIG HIGH – The final run into Keswick is absolutely amazing and really emotional. There are loads of people clapping and cheering me as my journey comes to an end. It still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it. - Steve Birkinshaw

Day 7 - Celebrations all round as Steve completes the Wainright Round in record time

The book is a great read a surely must be on a runners wish list. If you liked this blog, please visit the other blogs listed above and enjoy.


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