Helsby RC weekly round-up 19th to 25th June 2017

Hello Green Army

Very very busy week, would be wouldn’t it eh Gaz. So here we go.

Tim Palmer has asked me to include this, so before anyone thinks a certain blogger is trying to blow his own trumpet….think again 🙂

Fell & Road standings as at 29 May 2017 are available at:
Thanks Ian Landucci has done on these.
Club Counters
I know that we all have very busy lives, but we have noticed a drop in the numbers attending club counters, both for Fell and Road. Any ideas at all to improve these numbers, i’m happy to collate the information and feedback and then go back to the committee to discuss. Email me your thoughts, be honest, i wont mention names if that helps but would love to hear of you the club members if we can help improve what races we take part in. My email is fitzpatrick_chris@hotmail.com
Cheers
Laura has given us a date for the 4VHM kick off meeting on Monday 24th July 

It is that time of the year again when thoughts turn to January and the ESSAR 4 Villages Half Marathon, which Helsby Running club organise. There will be a kick off meeting on Monday 24th July at 8pm at Helsby Sports Club (after Monday night track session). If you would like to get involved in this year’s race then please come along to the meeting. We will be discussing plans for the race (provisional date is Sunday 21st January) and it is an opportunity to share any ideas on how we can make the race even better! Look forward to seeing lots of you at the meeting.

Many thanks Laura

Like your Music, anyone fancy a Helsby RC night out? have a look at the below. A message from the Sports Club

Hi all, please find attached the poster for helsfest, could you all circulate this with your members. Also include that if any members wish to purchase tickets I am offering a discounted price of £10 for members if purchased through me at the club 🙂
Also I am in need of some volunteers for the day for some general marshalling duties. If anybody is interested in helping out on the day please let me know, the club will benefit hugely from the alcohol sales of this event.
Many thanks
Chloe

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Stand up Carl Pratt for the first race report of the day

In unusual circumstances I asked my wife Ali if we could go to the in law’s caravan in Rhyl for a night on Friday. The catch was the fact that North Wales half marathon was on the Saturday morning! How convenient! I planned the race as an ideal warm up leading up to Southport half next Sunday, which kicks of the 52 mile tour of Merseyside over the course of the week. Anyway the half marathon on Saturday was a lot smaller than I expected with only 137 runners.

A strong tail wind on the way out allowed a nice sub 4:20/km which if kept up would have led to a sub 1h:30 and a pb. However we all know what happens next! The final 6 miles was directly into the 15mph headwind and cut my pace down to 5:00-5:30/km. Good for training but kills the chance of the time you want.

1:37:29 and a 17th place overall finish. So happy enough with that. Whilst here I’d like to note that I’m still doing a fair bit of running but being a new dad has taken priority and most of the training is done early in the day so don’t get a chance to do many club training sessions these days. Might have to get over Wednesday though to break the trail shoes back in for the 2nd and 5th leg of next weeks tour of Merseyside!

Good luck with the “Tour” Carl I know a lot of us wanted to do this

Blogger Jim turned back to his natural habitat in the hills of Wales instead of the tarmac of Cheshire

I don’t know whether Max Wainright has sent a race report in, but he did well on the V3k Ultra on Saturday, finishing 23rd in just 9hrs 20 mins. Renowned as being one of the toughest races in the UK, the V3k Ultra takes in all 15 peaks in Wales that are over 3000ft and covers a distance of around 34 miles. I did the V3k Ultra last year and it was indeed one of the toughest things I’ve done, I had signed up for it again this year but decided to transfer to the V3k Half instead. My race started at Ogwen with a climb up Pen yr Ole Wen and was about 13 miles along the less technical terrain of the Carneddau. I finished the V3k Half in 7th place at 3hrs 5 mins, but I felt like a bit of a fraud when I found myself running alongside some of the lead runners of the Ultra who had already been out there for 6 hours before me!  I’d recommend the half to anyone wanting to try what is still  tough terrain, but without the more exposed climbs of Crib Goch and Tryfan.

Great work chaps, if I could navigate it’s one i would love to do

Tim sent in this for Moel-y-Gamelin Fell Race

After the hot and sunny weather of the last week or so, the drizzle and low cloud at the top of Horseshoe Pass came as a bit of surprise on Sunday, but made for pleasant running conditions (compared to the heat) although less pleasant for the marshals. The race manages two ascents of Moel y Gamelin and Joe is right – the last one is a stiff climb. 

It was a small Green Army turnout of 4 for this fell counter; thanks to Joe and Mario for their support (twice for the slower Helsby runners!) at the far end. There was also a brief appearance of Jim O on a bike just before the start.

 Where we lacked quantity, we made up for with quality with two top 10 finishes (Adam in 7th and Neil in 9th) and a category win for Adam. The race winner, Lawrence Eccles (Penny Lane Striders) finished in 1:13:56 and there were 49 finishers.

POSITION NAME CLUB CATEGORY CAT/POS TIME
7 ADAM GORDON HELSBY MV 40 1 1:22:49
9 NEIL FINEGAN HELSBY MV 40 3 1:25:12
27 TIM PALMER HELSBY MV 50 7 1:40:58
39 JIM JONES HELSBY MV 50 11 1:49:11

 At least Lawrence didn’t take you the wrong way!!!

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www.facebook.com/SteveJefferyPhotography

LBH sent this report in from one of our latest Fell Counters

Wednesday night saw the postponed Up the Beast race, one of our Fell counters and part of the Mini Fell series.  It was very hot and humid with a big storm threatening at the start of the race. 9 Green vests had made the journey to The Miners Arms in Maeshafn and we were pleased the start was through the shade of the woods. This is a cracking race, just over 4 miles with about 1500ft of climb. I honestly only really remembered the first climb from last year – I must have blocked them out – so the other 2 were a bit of a surprise! Also I didn’t get lost this year (no Froddy to follow!) Great running from Felsby on the night, well worth the trip on a hot summer’s evening.

 Helsby Results

1st in 38.40 Lawrence Eccles from Penny Lane Striders (he didn’t get lost again)

6 Max Wainwright

14 Adam Gordon

30 Laura B Hughes (1st lady)

40 Phil Gillard

41 Jane Ashbrook (4th lady)

44 Jim Jones

46 Davyd Michell

58 Rachel Arnold

68 Paul Cunningham

 Full results at http://www.wfra.me.uk/

Well done everyone decent turnout as well which is brilliant.

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Davyd decided to run on Fathers day, whats that all about?

On fathers day last Sunday I took part in the British Masters 5k championships. This is a race for anyone over the grand old age of 35 and a member of there area masters club, in our case that’s the Northern Masters Athletic Club. The race takes place in Horwich just outside Bolton and is part of their festival of sport, so there is races of all types going on from an open 5k race to under 8 children’s cycle races.
The Masters race has its own independent race although we are combined with the race walkers who started 3 mins ahead of us runners. The course is a 3 laps of the town centre on closed roads, the course is not known as a quick one due to a smallish drag up to the finish which by the time you reach the final lap and finish at the top feels much tougher than you might expect. The weather on the day was hot and humid and made for tough going despite the short distance. 144 competitors took to the line with the oldest being over 80 and as expected, being the masters champs, the field was of high quality. This was confirmed by me just managing to outsprint a V70 to the finish in 20:29…and finishing in 63rd position.
It was great to be part of another big race on closed roads with a good astrosphere, especially as my Dad was also competing in the walk. Results are on the attached link
http://bmaf.org.uk/results/res2017/BMAF5k2017.pdf

And its worth looking at some of the times and ages, some are very impressive, like the winner of the V70 category running sub 20 minutes!..

Thanks Davyd

I’m sure Davyd has told me his Dad has a 10k PB of 36 mins….walking, not running! Amazing!!

El Capitano headed over to Liverpool for one of our road counters

Our 8th road counter at the Penny Lane 10k on Sunday saw only 2 Helsby runners turn up to fly the green army flag, myself and Richard Hankins. A shame as this 10k ticks all the boxes, perfect club organisation by Penny Lane Striders, cheap entry fee and a nice route along the Otterspool Promenade with a small trail section to keep things interesting enough. Maybe the clash with Tough Team was to blame as the fell counter also suffered a low turn out too.

My legs were pretty heavy after the TTC on Friday but after a quick warm up the old legs loosened up and I was ready to go and surprisingly achieved a course PB (35.35) and 11th place. Very happy with that one! Richard showed he is going well with another sub 40 run (39.34) and 48th place. Well done Rich!

Rich seems to be at every race we do these days! well done guys

Friday night seen the green army go over to Tattenhall for the Tough Team Challenge. no report for this one but what a night, mens team coming in 1st, well done to Col, Bish and Danny, showing the 2nd placed team how to run as a team and not individuals, the clue is in the title, and the ladies team coming in 3rd, well done Jane, Alison, and Jenny, brilliant work and by the amount of smiles i seen at the top of the railway, everyone had lots of good fun.

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Park run seen runners out in Pheonix, Ally Pally, Delamere, Ellesmere Port, Widnes, & Birkenhead. Full consolidated results below

http://tinyurl.com/kvq2x25

thank god thats over, that’s it for this week, bye for now

Fitzy

 

Helsby Update 12-7-2017 to 18-7-2017

First up some reminders.

Andy Smith sent in a request for volunteers to help with the Frodsham Downhill Run:

Sunday 2nd July is the Frodsham Downhill Run date. This is a popular family fun run and part of the Frodsham Festival in the Park.

Helsby Running Club have historically helped out in managing the finish area and results for this event and we have been asked if we can do so again this year.

A few volunteers to help set up the finish area in Castle Park before the race (from 10:30 onwards) and to help manage the finish (race starts at 12:00) would be much appreciated.

Drop me an email or IM me on facebook if you can help – thanks

Tim Palmer would also like to remind those who have not paid that the 2017 club subs are due ASAP.

Onto the running….
Parkrun

Helsby runners were out in parkruns at Warrington, Phoenix Park, Ellesmere Port, Wepre, Chester, Delamere, Widnes and Croxteth. Highlights include a 2nd female for Adele Croxton and 3rd place for Ian Rutherford, both at Phoenix Park.
Full results for Helsby runners are below
http://www.parkrun.com/results/consolidatedclub/?clubNum=1721

Paul Cunningham sent in this report from Bolton Hill Marathon

It all started when Fitzy shared a Time2Run Event on his timeline  – The Iconic HillRunner 50% trail 50% country roads sounds enjoyable – with a bottle of Budweiser in hand I paid the nicely priced £32 to enter.
The morning of the race the heavens had opened and blessed us with  perfect running conditions – stood on the start line drenched –  bang the race had started – I felt really good the first 400m until I came to the base of the first climb – Jack must have dropped his hill beans here as the road seemed to disappear into the clouds – to some of the crazy sorry elite members of the Green army this might not have been such a test but for me this 4 mile climb turned into a mental battle  -the first couple of miles on road then onto trail –  up onto Winter Hill – the views from up here are meant to be quite spectacular on a clear day – this morning due to low cloud cover visibility down to approx. 20m  – carried on running upstream as all the ruts full of flowing water onto the West Pennine Moors past White Coppice down onto Anglezarke Reservoir – the course is lollipop shaped so when I reached mile 10 the leader was at mile 16  – Impressive piece of long distance running I thought and the leader was running well too – at the half way point I stopped for some photo opportunities ankle deep in the overland flooding hoping to try my hand at some trout tickling – running through Rivington pike into Barn Bridge Village and back for the return leg – the rain had now stopped and I started to really enjoy my surroundings – between miles 19-22 it’s now uphill and a slow slog up to winter Hill  – now I could clearly see the telecoms tower which this morning I run past and could not see due to the low lying cloud cover – I did walk quite a bit of this section of the race as walking seemed faster than running  – well couldn’t run so had to walk is more like the truth – the one thing that kept me going was I knew I had a nice downhill finish  back into Moss Bank Park – I finished in 5hrs 13 min 80th overall of a small field of 125 – today I found out that I really do enjoy the trail side of running it just feels so right – my hardest test to date and look forward to my next running challenge – Bolton Hill Marathon is a cracker

Danielle Ryder sent in this report of her Namibia trip

A few people have asked me about my Namibia trip and Fitzy suggested I wrote something for the blog, so here it is. Following CBH’s lead I have written a short version and a long version which includes all the blood, sweat and tears.

I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to go the Namib Desert for a 6-day endurance event organised by my work at the start of May. I was 1 of a 30 strong group who would take on the 5-day challenge.

Short Version
Day 1 – 35km cycle
·         Tail wind and easy terrain so lulled into a false sense of security
Day 2 – Half Marathon followed by 55km cycle – 12-hour day
·         Run through the Messum Crater was a breeze, cycling into a horrific headwind in the relentless heat was brutal
Day 4 – Summit Brandberg and Hike down – 12-hour day
·         Around 2500m elevation, technical scrambling, carrying water and gear for 2 days, getting lost for 2 hours and making top camp in the dark
Day 5 – Marathon followed by 35km bike – 12-hour day – 47°C
·         Brutal marathon in 47°C. Broken! Bike through a dry river bed and rocky descending is not my idea of fun.
Day 6 – Half Marathon followed by 70km bike – 12-hour day
·         The hardest day coupled with my best experience. Upset stomach, back of the pack, tears and elation.

Final descentRunning through Messum crater

Long Version

Day 1 – 35km cycle

Day 1 was set up to break us in gently. After travelling for over 24-hours, 2 international flights to make it to Windhoek International airport and then a short flight on small single prop planes (the biggest being a 10 seater) we found ourselves near the coast at Cape Cross. We were given our mountain bikes which we would use to cover the majority of our mileage. A gravel road a tail wind and only a few short sections of hard sand with deep ruts found us at our camp site with time to spare before nightfall. We were all lulled into a false sense of security.

Day 2 – Half Marathon followed by 55km cycle – 12-hour day

The first 12-hour day of the trip. On paper this was meant to be a relatively easy day which would see us reach camp at the base of Brandberg Mountain at about 3-4pm, well before sunset at 6pm. So with this in mind we set off on the half marathon at 6am as it was just getting light. As we ran through the Messum Crater, this was our first taste of being in the desert and feeling the isolation, but also of the soft sand! The scenery was insane and the miles quickly ticked down with water stops every 7km.  The run seemed to be over before I had even realised, with some clouds mercifully keeping the heat at a manageable level. The finish line of the run was the other side of the Messum Crater, the land stretched for miles and you could just see the Brandberg mountain looming in the distance. Following a short stop for water, food and a change into cycling gear we all enthusiastically jumped onto our bikes which had all been laid out for us. My enthusiasm did not last long! Lots of deep soft sand and the most brutal headwind saw us all crawling along. Somehow I had ended up in the front group and struggling like hell to stay on the back wheel of the guys in front. Luckily the guys were gentlemen and kept dropping back to tow me back on. The first water stop was meant to be in 15km, but the heat and wind was breaking us. I had run out of water within 7km and was struggling badly. I definitely had lost my sense of humour at this point as I just tried to hold myself together and carry on. We were taking that long that one of the vans had to come and find us with emergency water and electrolytes. At the stop I managed to recover sat in the shade of the van but promptly refused the offer of going off with the front group and dropped back to the second group to start again. Luckily the wind died down as we carried on and the terrain got slightly easier, still soft sand but with more stretches of gravel and rocks which meant we could speed up slightly. The heat was relentless though and the first stretch on the bike had hit us all hard. A number of people had been pulled off by the medics and forced to go in the van. At the lunch stop we knew it was going to be a real effort to make it to camp before sunset at 6pm but we set off with a determination to try and make it. It was a hard slog but I pulled into camp as the sun was setting behind the Brandberg Mountain. I was on a huge high as I collapsed into a chair with a G&T.

Day 3 – Hike up Brandberg Mountain – 12 hour day

After a brutal day 2 where the desert threw its worst weather conditions at us we were up and ready to leave camp at 6am to climb the Brandberg Mountain. Brandberg Mountain is big, and we would be climbing around 2500m while carrying 7.5 litres of water, roll mat, sleeping bag, and enough food for two days. It was safe to say my bag was heavy! I didn’t really know what to expect when I set off, but the climbing was hard. It was definitely a scramble for virtually the entire climb, and I found myself hiding in whatever shade was available whenever the opportunity arose. The terrain was challenging and the group found itself relying on each other to push or pull each other up and over rocks. We made it to the lunch stop at about 2pm where we found some pools which were filled with water from recent rains. The sun was really high in the sky at this point and shade was hard to come by. I found myself hiding in a small cave as I hunched over trying to eat. Unfortunately, just before lunch our guide had twisted his knee and was unable to continue. He would camp at the lunch spot with a number of the team who didn’t want to go any further. We had been warned it was still a 4-hour hike to the summit. Having been given rough directions we set off trying to follow the cairns. Fast forward two hours, huge boulders, lots of vegetation, cut to ribbons and a few tears we found ourselves back at the lunch stop having got properly lost! At this point a few more of the group decided to stay and camp after we were warned that we would likely be reaching the top camp in the dark. We set off again after getting our guide to give us better directions and walk us some of the way. We made good time and were lucky that the guide who had been with the front group came back to find us (I should point out at this point that the front group had made the top base camp and had summited). The head torches made an appearance but we made it to the top camp just before 7pm without getting lost again.  The mountain was beautiful and far greener than I expected due to recent rains but it definitely took no prisoners. We camped with the first group on the top of the mountain and had steak which one of the guides had carried up. Belly full, I found the flattest bit of rock I could find and promptly fell asleep under the stars.

Day 4 – Summit Brandberg and Hike down – 12 hour day

Having not made the summit the previous day we set off at first light (yes another 6am start) without our packs to make the 1.5hr ascent to the actual summit. Now this was extremely technical terrain and basically straight up, but the view from the top was incredible. We soaked in the sunrise atop the highest peak in Namibia for a few minutes before we sadly dragged ourselves back down to the top camp, collected our bags and started our descent. It was going to be another long day! We made good progress and took a detour to see some extremely old cave paintings. The terrain meant that it was difficult to move very quickly once we passed the lunch stop so it was no surprise that it was just before 6pm when we made it back to camp to a warm welcome from the rest of the guys, and not forgetting a cold gin and tonic! It is safe to say the mountain was brutal, with steep drops and stifling temperatures but I made it all the way and even managed to get a few photos to go with the memories.

Day 5 – Marathon followed by 35km bike – 12-hour day – 47°C

The marathon was ridiculous! One of the hardest things I have ever done. We set off as a group to the first water station at 7km with a walking start to break in the aching bodies. The going was slow, again with very soft ground underfoot and by the half-way point it had become apparent that we needed water more often, so a van started stopping in-between to offer more water. It was a slog! The heat was relentless, the wind had picked up and sand was being blown around at times and I was broken. Sitting down at the water stations was a bad move as my legs struggled to get back to a standing position. I was reduced to a walking out of the water station before being able to force myself into a shuffle which just about resembled a jog. The relief when I made the finish and the lunch stop was overwhelming and dropping into a chair in the shade of a van was bliss. It took 7 hours of battling to complete the marathon but we still had 35km of biking to go. Food and water was consumed before we were hurried on to get changed and get on the bikes. We had been given the bad news that the “road” (I wouldn’t have called it a road!) we were planning on taking had been washed away, so instead we had an 8km slog down a dry river bed which only had soft sand! Now I definitely lost my sense of humour. I was knackered and near the back of the group on my own, fly’s kept buzzing around my head and I’m not going to lie quite a few expletives were coming out of my mouth as I tried to wave them away and not fall off the bike. It would have been hard if I hadn’t just survived a marathon! The joy of reaching the path out of the river bed was quickly gone when I saw the terrain – an extremely rocky 10km descent. All I am going to say is after some swearing, tears, pushing and eventually some pedalling I made it off the descent. A nice gravel road was all that was between me and camp, so powering on I managed to catch and overtake some of the others and made it into camp as the sun was setting, which was no surprise by this point – why break a habit! Camp this evening was at the Save the Rhino trust so we had permanent long drops which was a huge luxury! We were also told that the temperature had peaked at 47°C today!

Day 6 – Half Marathon followed by 70km bike – 12-hour day

Day 6 was to be the last day of exercise, and everyone managed to drag their weary bodies out of camp at 6am sharp. I had had the joys of the physio standing on my thighs the night before which meant I could actually move but found myself wondering why I hadn’t let her do my calf’s as well (Obviously forgetting the agony and swearing involved at the time!) We had been warned that today was going to be long and the stops short to make sure we made it to the end before nightfall. We set off on the run at a decent pace but I soon realised I wasn’t going to be able to maintain it. An upset stomach wasn’t helping but luckily at the 14km water stop there was somewhere I could hide! The pace was slow but I was determined to finish. We had started the day running through an amazing rocky valley called the Ugab rock formations before the ground opened up again, you could see for miles and we were faced with more soft sand and some hills! We saw loads of animal prints which was motivation to keep moving, but there was no way I could out race anything today. I finished the half totally spent and slumped into a chair, before being told to get changed and get on the bike as we needed to keep moving. Again, my moral took a beating and I was definitely at a low point as we set out on the bikes in the hilliest terrain we had had. The km’s went by extremely slowly and I found myself right at the back of the pack. I just hoped that getting to lunch and having a decent amount of food might give me some life back. We saw springbok and zebra in the distance and lion prints but luckily no lions! Just as we were getting close to the lunch stop we saw a black Rhino which was amazing. Getting off the bike and walking closer as it walked away from us was an added bonus. At the lunch stop the only way I can describe myself is broken and we still had 50km to go! I tried to eat as much as possible but I struggled to get much in and unfortunately the stop came to an end all to quickly for me. Dutifully I got back on my bike and was quickly right at the back of the pack again. I was going to finish but I only had one speed and that was that. I found myself getting to the water stations just as everyone else was leaving which is the most soul destroying thing in the world and I am not going to lie I did shed some tears. Stubbornness kept me going and no one was brave enough to suggest I get in the van! I somehow made it to the last descent of the day where everyone re-grouped to finish together. We were warned It was going to be rocky and then turn to extremely soft sand but the end was now in sight! I survived the rocks and made it to the sand only putting my foot down a couple of times but the view was the perfect ending to the trip. Sun setting behind the mountains with the grass swaying in the breeze either side and views for miles gave me goose bumps. I somehow made it to the finish having cycled past the Doras crater towards the Huab river and promptly broke into tears!

Day 7 – Homecoming

We had been treated to a luxury lodge for the last night and sleeping in a proper bed was bliss. After a short safari drive where we saw gorillas, ostriches, springboks and lots of elephant prints (but unfortunately no elephants) we had a 36-hour journey home.
The trip was an insane, amazing experience which really pushed me to my limits. We were looked after extremely well and only had to get ourselves from A to B as everything else was taken care of including the camp, food and G&T’s! I experienced some major lows but I think these made the highs more intense. It really is unbelievable what your body can achieve! I just need to find the next adventure now.

 

That’s it for this week, as usual please send race reports to

helsby-race-reports@outlook.com
Cheers

Gaz

Helsby RC News from 5th to 11th June 2017

Thanks to everyone who has sent in contributions for the blog this week. Please keep sending any race reports, or any other items you want including, to helsby-race-reports@outlook.com. Apologies for the rather late distribution of the blog this week, I’d have sent it out last night if I wasn’t Hotfooting up Moel Famau, …… but you can read about that in next week’s blog.

Reminders

This week we start with a few reminders and upcoming events:

Friday 16/06/2017 – 6.30pm – A chance to support the Helsby Community Sports Club and win some prizes at Bingo (see the flyer at the end of this blog)

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Wednesday 21/06/17 – 7.15pm – Up the Beast – our next counter in the Fell (mini) series. Race HQ is at the Miners Arms, Maeshafn, CH7 5LR – hope to see a few of you there.

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Friday 23/06/17 – 7.15pm – Tough Team Race – a great event for teams of 3 hosted by Tattenhall Runners – Race HQ is at Tattenhall Recreation Club, CH3 9QF

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Next, a polite reminder from our membership secretary, Tim Palmer:

“Thanks to all of those of you have paid your 2017 subs. If you haven’t paid your subs, please could you do so now because if we don’t receive payment by 30th June, we will assume that you want to resign. If you haven’t received the various emails about subs or have any questions, please contact Tim on email

For those marathon aficionados, we haven’t got enough members to get us two London Marathon places. We are currently just on one 😞. This is the position at Friday 9th so please prompt others to pay and pay yourself.

Kind regards

Tim”

Racing News

Jim O’Hara’s Paddy Buckley Round – Saturday 10/06/17 to Sunday 11/06/17

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Many thanks to Chris Baynham-Hughes for sending in a summary of Jim O’Hara’s epic achievement over the weekend. It was a privilege to be able to join Jim for just part of it. Over to CBH:

“Not sure if anybody else will write in but I just wanted to highlight Jimmy’s heroics on the weekend.

This weekend Jimmy O’Hara took on the Paddy Buckley Round. This is the Northern Snowdonia equivalent of the Bob Graham Round… only it’s universally recognised as being ~1h15m harder! Jim set off from Capel Curig at 10am on the Saturday with Peter Taylor from Tattenhall runners in what was described as atrocious weather. It got worse. By the time the pair got to Llanberis Pete had called it a day and Jimmy cracked on determined to finish.

Max, Chris Collins and Phil Roberts had all supported Jimmy on the various legs with Jim 19055820_1345759598806376_8742422086759971742_oJones, Phil Gillard and myself showing up for the glory leg! What I witnessed was an demonstration of true resolve, grit and courage in the face of some of the worse mountain weather I’ve been out in. Heading over the final leg we were blown about like rag dolls, but at no point was Jimmy looking to quit. I never thought I’d experience wind like I did on the 50th Fellsman where it was easily in the 60’s, but that was nothing compared to this. At one point I was lifted clean off my feet by the wind and dumped 2 metres to my left! I’ve been blown over before, but never lifted up, I’d estimate the wind was ~70-90mph… And Jimmy kept on going.

Being out for such a long time can play havoc with your body. The combination of sleep deprivation and lack of perspective can lead to poor decision making and disorientation. Given that this area is my playground I tend to think of it as being safe, but if it wasn’t for the lightening reactions of jim Jones Jimmy may well have ended up blown off a cliff – jim literally caught Jimmy by his jacket and kept him from being blown off the ridge…. And Jimmy kept on going.
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The ultimate benchmark for the fell running rounds is 24 hours, but for me and for everyone else I speak to who have done one we all comment on how weather dependent completion is. The Paddy doesn’t have a 24 hour cut off for completion and I’d challenge anybody in the world to have completed in under 24 this weekend. Jimmy crossed the line in under 30 hours having given everything to it. 99% of people would have given up, but Jimmy’s determination was never dented. A true fell warrior that I’m fiercely proud to know personally. First completion of the Paddy Buckley by a Helsby RC member. James O’Hara I am in awe and I salute you sir!

CBH”

Blaydon Races – Friday 09/06/17

Debbie Read was up in the North East this weekend and sent in this report from a Friday night event ……… before doing a Parkrun the following morning!

image1Last weekend I spent the weekend in Newcastle with these lovely running buddies of mine from my old club Spectrum Striders. One of them, Mike, is a Jordie and was telling us about the Blaydon Race and it sounded like an good opportunity to have a weekend away.

The Blaydon Race is an iconic running event in Newcastle. It’s on the evening of 9th June every year and it’s a celebration of the memorable day in 1862 when the working classes travelled from Newcastle to Blaydon to have a drunken day at the races. It follows the route they took which these days is mostly dual carriageway.

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This year the race sold out in less than 3 hours and there were over 4000 finishers.
The course is 5.6 miles long and this year the winning time was 27:47 with the last runner home just under 1hr 30.”

Bolton Hill Marathon – Saturday 10/06/17

Thanks to Paul Cunningham for sending in this report and reminding us all of the joys and challenges of trail running:

“It all started when Fitzy shared a Time2Run Event on his timeline – The Iconic HillRunner 50% trail 50% country roads sounds enjoyable – with a bottle of Budweiser in hand I paid the nicely priced £32 to enter.

The morning of the race the heavens had opened and blessed us with perfect running conditions – stood on the start line drenched – bang the race had started – I felt really good the first 400m until I came to the base of the first climb – Jack must have dropped his hill beans here as the road seemed to disappear into the clouds – to some of the crazy sorry elite members of the Green army this might not have been such a test but for me this 4 mile climb turned into a mental battle -the first couple of miles on road then onto trail – up onto Winter Hill – the views from up here are meant to be quite spectacular on a clear day – this morning due to low cloud cover visibility down to approx. 20m – carried on running upstream as all the ruts full of flowing water onto the West Pennine Moors past White Coppice down onto Anglezarke Reservoir – the course is lollipop shaped so when I reached mile 10 the leader was at mile 16 – Impressive piece of long distance running I thought and the leader was running well too – at the half way point I stopped for some photo opportunities ankle deep in the overland flooding hoping to try my hand at some trout tickling – running through Rivington pike into Barn Bridge Village and back for the return leg – the rain had now stopped and I started to really enjoy my surroundings – between miles 19-22 it’s now uphill and a slow slog up to winter Hill – now I could clearly see the telecoms tower which this morning I run past and could not see due to the low lying cloud cover – I did walk quite a bit of this section of the race as walking seemed faster than running – well couldn’t run so had to walk is more like the truth – the one thing that kept me going was I knew I had a nice downhill finish back into Moss Bank Park – I finished in 5hrs 13 min 80th overall of a small field of 125 – today I found out that I really do enjoy the trail side of running it just feels so right – my hardest test to date and look forward to my next running challenge – Bolton Hill Marathon is a cracker”

Keswick Mountain Festival – Saturday 10/0617

Jane Ashbrook sent us a report from the Keswick Mountain Festival which took place over the weekend. Thanks Jane:

“I ran a 25k trail race as part of the Keswick Mountain Festival on Saturday. This was a 4 day event incorporating cycling races, swimming races, triathlons, walking events, talks and music.

We camped in a muddy field and had a fantastic evening on Saturday at the music festival…who one K T Tunstall was so good!

Highlight of my weekend was an evening with Jasmin Paris and Nicky Spinks on Friday night…they are so normal and inspirational that I am now convinced that the Bob Graham round is something everyone should have a go at!

25k Jane Ashbrook 2:44:13 14th Female
10k Chris Ashbrook 58:54 52nd Male

It’s a great event for families, however I’ll probably give it a miss next year as I am dying to have a go at the Welsh Castles Relay…..who’s in?”

Some information on the Welsh Castles Relay HERE.

Parkrun – Saturday 10/06/17

We had 13 Helsby runners out at various Parkruns around the country on Saturday. Great to see Colin Bishop and Colin Thompson finishing 1st place in their respective events. Well done to everyone who ran on Saturday. Our club consolidated results can be seen HERE

Calderdale Way Ultra – 03/06/17

A report sent in by Daniel Ryder that just missed last week’s blog. Thanks for still taking the to sent it in Daniel – and well done!:

“I missed the blog last week, but I ran the Calderdale Way Ultra Short Route on the 3rd June. At 28.5miles and 1300m of climbing it was my longest and hilliest run to date.
As many of you know I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Namibia at the back end of May which consisted of a lot of running, biking and hiking. Having returned from doing 12 hour days of exercise to sitting at a desk at work I was feeling rather out of sorts and in a moment of madness spotted the Calderdale Way Ultra which was only 3 weeks away. Plucking for the short route (the long route was 50.5miles) I thought what have I got to lose and entered on the pretense that I wouldn’t have to do much more mileage and could just Calderdaleuse my fitness from Namibia to hopefully complete it. I loved it and would recommend it to anyone! The short route started at 12.15 so that we would overlap with the long route runners who had started at 6am. The late start meant I could actually have a lie in before the 1.5hr journery to Todmordon where the race HQ was. From there a bus took me to the start point, mid-way around the route. The Calderdale way is a way-marked circular route, but like any way-marked walking path it can be quite difficult to navigate at times. We had been warned before the race that a level of navigation was required and that we would be issued with a map and instructions. Having signed up relatively late I hadn’t had chance to recce any of the course and getting lost was one of my biggest concerns.

It was a surreal experience standing with another 60 runners in the middle of a park, with no marked starting line waiting for the organiser to set us off. I must admit we did get a few funny looks from the locals when we arrived and then promptly all spread out into the woods to try and find some cover for a last minute wee. We were set off at 12.15 and I was amazed how quickly the field spread out. Part of my game plan had been to try and stay with a group so that I could hopefully avoid getting lost. This didn’t quite go to plan. The aid stations were every 7-8miles and the first leg of the race was the flattest with a short section along a canal. A 1940’s event with people dressed up made for a very surreal experience. I was happy to leave this section and make it out of the crowds, but this meant the start of the first real climb of the day. I had been running with a girl for a few miles up to this point, but had been thinking of dropping back as the pace seemed too high for me to hold for another 20miles. The decision was taken out of my hands as she powered up the hill where I dutifully dropped into a fast hike and caught up with a group of three guys who were working together. One had the map and one had the gps route on his watch while the third was a clinger on, so I thought it seemed sensible to stick with them to avoid getting lost. We stuck together as a 4 until the 2nd water station at 15miles where myself and the other guy who hadn’t been navigating sped up. This was potentially a bad move as neither of us knew the way. We soon caught up with two people on the long route, who told us that they had got extremely lost at the start and had done about an extra 5 miles! We left these pair when we caught sight of a couple who I had seen at the start and I had overheard them saying they had recced the route. The scenery in this second half was particularly nice and we ran as a four until after the last water station. I was lucky that they stopped me going the wrong way a number of times where way markers where well hidden, but for some reason I felt brave with only 6 miles to go and decided to push on alone. At this point the weather had turned somewhat and the rain had started. The navigation was going reasonably well until I reached Todmordon again and I knew I only had a couple of miles to go. The guy who I had been running with for the majority of the race caught me on the descent into town and we promptly got lost together and ended up trying to ask a local for directions. Unsurprisingly the couple who had recced the course then caught us and pointed us in the right direction! The last two miles had a very steep ascent and descent and the heavens had opened properly at this point, ignoring the sun cream that was running into my eyes and not wanting to stop to put a coat on – I was already drenched by this point I ploughed on and found the finish line. I had finished, and felt surprisingly good! 6hr 20 and 8th female. All in all, a really good day out.

The event was brilliantly organised with excellent volunteers. The atmosphere was brilliant, and I felt no pressure on the day but to go out and enjoy myself. The cut off times were generous allowing 8 hours for the short route. I can safely safe I thoroughly enjoyed feeling none of the pressures I often feel at road races where I want to beat a time. I would say this was considerably more civilised than a road marathon. If you are thinking of trying an Ultra, the short route is a brilliant introduction. The scenery was amazing and I will definitely be tempted to run it again next year, but I may up the anti and try the 50 miler.”

I think that’s it for this week. Hope to see as many of you as possible at Maeshafn on Wednesday for a run Up the Beast!

Jim

 

Bingo

 

 

Helsby round up 29- 5-17 to 4-6-17

Parkrun

Helsby members were running at Chester, Ellesmere Port, Croxteth, Widnes, Delamere and Phoenix park. Highlights include a second place overall for Ian Rutherford and second lady for |Rachael Holden, both at Phoenix park.

Full results for Helsby runners at parkruns are below.

http://www.parkrun.com/results/consolidatedclub/?clubNum=1721

First up is Gaz Boyds report from Escape from Meriden.

At 11.59 last Friday evening Gaz and myself set off on our ‘little adventure’. See http://www.escapefrommeriden.co.uk for race info. This is a 24 hour race, there is no set route – you decide where to go, you decide when you stop, there are no checkpoints. Basically the winner is the solo runner or pair whom travels the further (as the crow flies). It’s worth noting that CBH and running partner won the 1st Autumn edition.

meri1

Hours prior to the race, we and other competitors (one even dressed as Scoobie Do!) waited in the local village hall – sitting down and trying to chill whilst listening to the rain, queuing for the toilet or eating free tea,coffee and biscuits were the most popular past-times. It’s amusing to see all the runners head off in different directions after the start count down. Despite the rain, spirits were high – that was until 3.5 miles, when we realised that we were heading towards Coventry and not Birmingham. Our plan was to head up to and finish at Chester via canal. We retraced our steps and reached the start line after 1.10 hours of running – not surprisingly no one else was there. Ok – going the right way was finally a box ticked, next was finding the canal. Our plan was to join the Grand Union Canal and join the Shropshire Union Canal. Eventually we found the Canal – not too many wrong turns and importantly stopping off at a 24 hour garage for food supplies. Travelling along the Canal had its pros and cons

pros – safer than roads, better scenery . Canal boat owners are more than happy to provide you with water.
Cons – a mixed range of surface – sometimes making running difficult. The biggest issue in terms of this race – the Canal winds and winds – so you are often travelling a lot more miles when in fact the roads take you on a more direct route. Lesson for next time Gaz.

Running through Birmingham at around 4/5 am on a Saturday was ‘interesting’ – let’s just say we saw the more sobering sights of a major inner city. Any way, then onto Wolverhampton for a ‘pit stop ‘ and cooked breakfast.

By this stage Gaz was unfortunately struggling with ‘old age ‘ – sorry, I meant injury (it was a niggle, not an injury- Gaz O’C), meaning that running for him was difficult. At around mile 55 Gaz decided to call it a day – his injury (niggle!), spending two much time with me (maybe I shouldn’t have asked him about politics at 3am) and the lure of Champions League Final was just too much for him. I decided to carry on for at least another 26 miles and reach Nantwich. Shortly after Gaz and I had split, I decided to stop for lunch (it was my way of getting over the fact that Gaz had gone) . I must say that the pie, chips and pint of Wainwright was lovely:)

To summarise, the rest of the journey didn’t go quickly – canal paths get a bit tiresome after a while. I did get to Nantwich at 8.30pm – completing 79 miles. You could argue – well why stop there and then – why not carry on for the remaining 3.5 hours ! My response – not this time – it was always just going to be a ‘fun’ challenge.

Richard Hankins sent in this report from Deeside Multi Terrain Race.

I believe the Deestriders Multi Terrain GP has been a regular event for many years. It appeared to have come to an end this year with Deestriders struggling for accommodation. However, a few weeks ago they announced it would take place once more. It is a series for four races on the first Thursday of the month that set off from Shotton Steel Rugby Club and head out along the Dee, around some fields, through some woods and along the flood defences before circling round again for a second lap. The total route seems to be just under 5 miles and the changing surfaces do make it a different challenge. With the very late announcement of the event numbers were down, but with 84 runners it still seemed viable. It is a very laid back low key club event with a collegiate atmosphere. From Helsby there was Jim Jones, Steve and David Wiggins and I. Results aren’t published yet, but I finished around 29:30 with Jim a few minutes later followed by Steve and David. Be good to see more green vests at the races later in the series. These are on 6 July, 3 August and 1 September.

Jim Jones ran the Welsh 1000 metre race at the weekend

I did the Welsh 1000 metre race for the first time on Sunday and it was one of the toughest races I’ve done with over 9000ft of climb in 20 miles. Thankfully the sun was shining for most of the day, so navigation wasn’t a problem. There was only a short spell of wind and rain, which seemed perfectly timed to start as I was helped out of a stream I’d fallen into on the climb up to Gribin Ridge. Another first for me was getting stung by a wasp on the ankle as I climbed the side of Aber Falls! Some fantastic views along the way, and the best I’ve ever seen from the top of Snowdon. The race started on the coast by Abergwyngregyn and finished at the summit of Snowdon. The route takes you over the summits of Carnedd Llewelyn, Carnedd Dafydd, Glyder Fawr and to Garnedd Ugain before the final push to the Snowdon summit. I had hoped to complete it in 6 hours but finished 83rd in 6:38.

Just in case you are one of the half dozen or so people in the western hemisphere that Fitzy hasn’t told about his triathlon, he’s also thoughtfully written a report about it too.

I tried my hand at something a bit different this weekend, and most of you won’t already know about it as i kept it really low key on social media, so thought i’d send in a quick report about it. I’m just hoping all 3 events make it into the “running” news this week.

This was my first crack at an Olympic distance triathlon, and I’ve had some fun along the way training for it, uploading photo’s of me and my wet suit on our travels to FB, and keeping everyone amused along the way. Strangely, i was not nervous at all, even when we got down to the transition area in Grosvenor Park, Chester, where you rack your bike up and see how much some people spend on this sport, and there i was racking up my BMX.

Time to get the wet suit on, down to the river Dee for a quick briefing, jumping in thinking it would be freezing but surprisingly quite warm. I was really disappointed in myself that i didn’t shout “green army” on the start line but if i had i may have drowned as was trying to start my watch, whilst treading water, and feared the worst that the lady next to me might dunk me, as she had already warned me to get out of her space….charming! The hooter went off, and the scramble for best positions started, swimmers knocking into you and tapping your feet, made me feel really uneasy for the first 200m or so. I managed to calm myself a little and got into my rhythm and slowly made my way up the river 850m, before turning around and coming back down 650m whilst swallowing a fair bit of the River Dee, to be greeted by the family cheering me out the water. I didn’t hesitate to use my running strengths and knocked one poor bloke out the way as I sprinted up to transition after saying sorry to him.

You go through what you will do in transition time and time again before the race. Well my master plan didn’t work as i forgot to start taking off my wet suit on the way to it, which meant nearly 2 and half mins later I  finally managed to come out and onto my bike. I really do feel this is where the race is won or lost, some of the bikes on show where mighty impressive, but then again, it’s the athlete you put on the bike I suppose as well. Well my bike was carrying me and my “Guinness Belly” so i needed to push my legs very hard. My mate who did it, caught me up within the first 5 miles after being a good few minutes behind me, we then managed to stay together for the next 20, heading out of Chester towards Wrexham Ind Est, and turning back around to head back towards the Sandy Lane end of Chester for a quick finish through the City Centre.

Now jumping off the bike and straight into a 10k run, whilst your having a few issues with stomach cramps was not a pleasurably experience, maybe i did take on too much of the River Dee, jelly legged and feeling like i wanted to walk, i managed the first lap and although it was tough i could have pushed a little harder on the run, but I seemed to be overtaking most people now including BBC news presenter Louise Minchin who i see is a fully paid up member of Chester Tri. 3 laps of the park (Handbridge Park I think it’s called, i should have asked Boydy and was very surprised not to see him out and about on one of his tours, but then again i think he was still running around Coventry with Gaz), and over the bridge back along the water front and back out again.

The event was brilliant organised by Chester Tri,  great goody bags, t-shirt, towel and loads more, and extremely well supported, it was like a bit of a carnival atmosphere, lots of family and friends in attendance and was a great day out. I would really recommend this event to anyone wanted to do something a bit different than our normal “running” races we do. I ended up middle of the field and under the 2hrs 45 i had set myself before the race so was off to the pub in a pretty happy mood.

Swim
36:44
36:44

T1
39:28
02:44

Bike
01:55:01
01:15:32

T2
01:56:32
01:30

Run
02:39:04
42:32

https://chestertri.niftyentries.com/Results/Deva-Triathlon-2017#

That’s it for for this week.

As usual all race reports to

helsby-race-reports@outlook.com

Cheers

Gaz

Helsby RC weekly round-up 22nd to 28th May 2017

Hello Green Army

Some serious mileage gone on this week, mainly at the park runs, but some good reports come in this week, go get a brew, take a seat and enjoy.

So first of all lets welcome new club member, Katie Lord, welcome aboard, hope to hear you shouting “green army” at a race soon. Maybe we could also do a little feature in the blog in the near future on new members and what their interests are, and maybe for the new members we can do little feature on existing members and their interests. Let me get back from my jollies and I will sort something out.

Tim Palmer has asked me to remind everyone of the below.

“Hopefully you will have received an email about paying your subs giving the amount and a link to pay. If you haven’t, please contact Tim Palmer on tim@timjenny.me.uk. If you have, please can you pay as soon as possible. If you have and have paid, thank you very much.”

 I have now signed up again and it was very easy to use, brilliant work Tim, thank you

A quick message from Jackie;

Last weeks AGM went well and was well supported. Thanks to those who were able to come and for the many suggestions and comments about our club.  Full minutes will be circulated soon but the two most important highlights are:–
Our new club constitution now allows the club to nominate Honorary Life Members. So congratulations to Joe Beswick and Andy Smith on becoming the first life members for services to the club
and your committee for next year are:-

Chairman      Jackie
Secretary       Phil
Treasurer       Jo
Men’s Captain – Colin T, assisted by Paul F & Chris F
Men’s Vice captain – Mario
Ladies’ Captain – June
Ladies’ Fell Captain – Laura
Head Coach – Joe
Press Officer – Carol S
Social Secretaries – Dave and Lesley
Half Marathon Director – Laura
Assistant Half Marathon Director – Michelle
HCSC Representative – Betty
Border League Co-ordinators – Chris F and Vanessa
XC Co-ordinators – Janet R and Paul F
Sandstone Trail Organiser – Ben

Sandstone Trail Assistants – TBA
Webmaster – Steve R
Stats – Donna and Ian L (with Ben and Susanne Fletcher taking over)
Welfare – Jane A and Ivan
Calendar Co-ordinator– Tim P
Kit Co-ordinator – Donna

            Blog Writers – Colin T, Chris F, Jim J, Gaz
Cheers and thanks and welcome to another year of HRC and the #greenarmy!
Jackie
Also if anyone would like to help us do a blog or 2 or just a guest appearance every now and again let us know, it would really help us bloggers, send in your name to helsby-race-reports@outlook.com
Sandstone trail race director Ben Williams doesn’t get to run our favourite ultra, so he decided on a crazy 100 miler instead, thanks for the report Ben.  
For anyone I’ve not already bored to tears, I did the LDWA 100 mile event – actually 102 miles, and almost 11500 feet of climb, right around the North York Moors. The event started at noon on Saturday and entrants had until Monday morning to complete, with no stops longer than two hours allowed. I entered as a runner, but to be honest was reduced to walking from about 40 miles. The checkpoints were brilliant as always on these events, and were particularly welcoming overnight.

I was expecting a mental as well as physical challenge, and there were some ups and downs. I’d set a target time in my mind, and when it became clear that I wasn’t going to achieve it I felt like giving up. But then I decided that as I was halfway round and was physically ok, I may as well stick it out and I’m glad I did, even though I was reduced to walking. Of the 509 entrants, 151 retired so I’m glad I had the mental strength to keep going. I finished just as darkness fell on Sunday night.

Walking through Saturday night, and seeing first light up on the moors at 3am was amazing, as was walking through a thunderstorm. Some of the climbs up through moorland were brutal though.

Massive thanks to Serena who supported me all the way and looked after me when I finished, and massive respect to Ste Wigs who had to pull out at 25 miles through illness but turned out on Sunday to support me.

Ben

Back after his motorbiking travel Richard Hankins got stuck into the Manchester 10k on the back of the terrible atrocities the week before. 

The Great Manchester Run is according to Wikipedia the third largest mass participation sporting event in the UK (after the London Marathon and the Great North Run). It is also very much a corporate events with live TV coverage and an elite race alongside the mass participation event. I have to say it is the opposite of the sort of races that I prefer, low key, low price, club organised events. However, a group from work were running to raise money for the Christie Hospital so I joined in this year.

It turned out to be a poignant event for Manchester coming at the end of a terrible week and in some ways representing the city’s resilience and return to normality. The organisation is stunning – the whole south of the city centre is taken over and largely pedestrianised. Armed police were everywhere (they had been drawn from across the UK). With in excess of 30 000 people running it is necessary to marshall them into different waves. In this respect I was lucky, I was in the first wave and was able to secrete myself very close to the ‘Fast Club Runners’ who were starting at the very front. To do this however, I had to be lining up on the start line 40 minutes early which was ok on a warm dry day. At the start there was an enthusiastic applause for the emergency services followed by a very moving minutes silence. Some guy then read an annoying poem before we were off.

Even at the front I spent the first 500 m stuck in traffic – with some runners comically out of place. Its is not a pretty race, taking in Old Trafford and Trafford Park but it is pretty flat and fast. There were bands, DJ’s and an excellent and enthusiastic crowd along the route – it made running an experience. The finish on Deansgate was also thorough planned and executed. I ran a PB at 39:09, Carol Shaw came in at 59:52 and Damion Baker at 57:10. As a Mancunian I was pleased to be there this year and to be part of Manchester’s response to terror – if mega events are your thing this is probably as good as it gets. Personally, I think I still prefer the Sutton 6!

Congrats on the PB Richard

Over to CBH to give us a little report and then a bigger report about the dragon’s back race which he actually took 5 days off work to complete….nutter! You choose which one you would like to read, I’ve had to read both for spell checks!!

 

Little report

Did the dragon’s back last week. It also afforded me the honour of raising over £2k including gift aid so far for Head Injured People in Cheshire (they helped me in my recovery).

I was rather concerned about this one given the impact it had on me last time, putting me in A&E the next day for x-rays and suspected stress fractures to both shins. This time day 1 was changed; it took me 10 hours rather than over 15 which had an enormous impact. By day three I was confident enough to race. The heat wave made life very difficult out there for many; resulting in a drop out rate of over 50% (standard for this race!) however I managed to finish running and could not be more pleased over all.

 Day 1 highlight: Crib Goch… and the fly through below me in the Ogwen valley of a Hercules and 2 hawks

Day 2 highlight: Running off Diffwys with Neil Talbot… and the Rhinogs, never forget the Rhinogs

Day 3 Highlight: 4 strawberry splits for £1 … and racing the second half

Day 4 Highlight: Running it all… and the slush puppy in the pub at the end of the day

Day 5: Highlight: Running alongside and keeping pace with Jez Bragg whilst eating a pork pie… Running it all

 I was 20th overall, had an amazing 5 day journey and still feel quite spritely! I can’t recommend the race enough, tough, you need to prepare, but now very much doable. Who’s up for 2019?

Big report

Dragon’s Back 2017.

Last week I went out for a bit of a run across the spine of mountains in Wales known as the Dragon’s Back. This is a 5 day event which is roughly 200 miles in length, 2 Everest’s in climb and, more importantly, descent, over rough terrain. In many places the mantra of ‘think like a sheep’ rewarded me with a better trod than the purely rough ground alternative.

 This was my second time taking on the DBR having completed in 2012. 2012 took everything I had to finish and I am not convinced I ever really recovered properly…. But there is something about this race that just grabs my attention and draws me back in. Starting the race I didn’t know if my previous experiences would be a help or a hindrance; mentally knowing how much further there was to go, not needing to finish, etc.

 Day 1 – Conwy to Nant Gwynant (Via the Carneddau, Glyderau and Snowdon ranges)

We started off from the Castle in Conwy after a stirring wake up by the local male voice choir. A few familiar faces appeared including Jimmy O’Hara, luckily we bumped into Jimmy early on and it was great to have the support. The conditions appeared to be great for running, but turned out to be deceptively close and really difficult to cool off.

 Naturally we all started out too fast, having felt like caged animals for the last 24 hours. I finally managed to catch up with Carol Morgan (a good friend of Fitzy and me from the Ring of Fire, plus I ran a good chunk of UTMB with her) and we spent the day together. Coming off the Carneddau we were treated to an air show as a Hercules flew below us through the Ogwen valley followed by two hawks; it was as if the organisers had put it on specially for us.

I was feeling really out of sorts. Food was going in ok, but not great, my temperature had been worse, but wasn’t great either, plus the lack of water had left me dehydrated despite carrying two litres with me. This continued across the Glyders and I decided to take a slightly different line to Carol to Pen-y-pass which cost me 5 minutes. By the time I caught Carol we were half way to the base of Crib Goch on the PYG track. Scrambling up was a real highlight, but sadly the ridgeline was clagged out. Didn’t stop me running with a huge grin and taking out two further competitors who were clinging onto the ridge.

 The technical running continued but I arrived in camp following a few frustrating errors that cost me at least 15 minutes and I’d dropped a further 10-15 by slowing up on the final bits. I was thrilled with the day though as I’d expected 12 hours and had done it in just over 10. To put this into context, 2012 had taken me over 15 hours as the course was different and had 1000m more climb as well as extra distance.

 Day 2 – Nant Gwynant to Dolgellau via the Moelwynion and Rhinogydd.

We awoke from our tents to find clag from ~150m; with it forecasted to continue I chose not to put on suncream or take my sun hat. Running out from the camp I passed Caroline (3rd overall) and we ran together through the clag over Cnicht and to the base of the Moelwyns, then took different lines before linking up again as we crossed to the Roman steps and the start of the Rhinogs. By this time the weather had changed and was scorching…. So much for the forecast.

 I continued to really play with the mountains, some lines worked, some didn’t, but I didn’t care as I had one of the greatest days in the mountains I have ever enjoyed. A clear day in the Rhinogs is a pleasure indeed; as I ran off the final summit (Diffwys) with another friend, Neil Talbot, I kept trying to tell myself I still had a good distance to go, but my head wasn’t listening. By the time I arrived at the camp it felt like I’d done an extra day! A wash in a cold stream was transformational though… as were the salty chips with mayo!

 Day 3 – Dolgellau to Pumlumon; via Cadair Idris, Tarrens and Pumlumon.

Day three starts with a stiff ascent to the Cadair ridge, but is certainly an easier day mountain wise…. It makes up for it in extra miles instead. Again the morning saw the ridgeline clagged out, but this time I had made sure I put on my cream and sun hat ready for the afternoon. The heat had been intense from early on Tuesday and the mercury was set to rise again… boy did it!

 I was lucky to catch an error from Penygadair early enough to mean it only added ~10 minutes to the day, but crossing the ridge was noticeably easier than I remembered it. That first day in 2012 had really taken its toll, so running this freely was a real delight. Once again I’d hooked up with Caroline by accident at the start, but we proved to be a really great partnership once again. With the Tarrens down all I could think about was picking up a Solero in Machynlleth. I was to be disappointed.

 Arriving at the petrol station to find there were no Soleros was a major blow, but 4 strawberry splits for £1, 3 bags of jelly sweets and a coke sorted me out. I discovered the key to distance running in the mountains is actually just running happy. My friend James ‘Pup’ Harris had shown the way on day one; nipping into the Café on Snowdon to get a can of cider for the technical crossing to y llywydd. That’s an approach I think Fitzy would be happy to adopt.

Having lost Caroline due to spending too much time finding and eating food I eventually left the drop bag point with my stereo on and the bit between my teeth. Getting into a rhythm I nailed the remaining trail section. Catching Caroline and Wouter (the flying Dutchman) then shooting past and really pushing it. I’d started to race.

 Day 4 – Elan Valley & Drygarn Fawr

Having arrived at the finish spent the night before I had failed to take care of my camp admin. Starting day 4 I realised I was going to be off the pace. My good friend I’d known since meeting and sharing a Bob Graham round in 2012, Carwyn had been forced to withdraw from the race with a torn calf. I was gutted for him. The race means so much to him I was actually lost for words as I knew everything would sound trite. His running partner Sam had asked to start with me so I naturally obliged.

 The mercury was pushing upwards again and I was struggling in the heat. It’s my least favourite of the days as the ground is tough and there aren’t really any mountains. Wide open spaces give plenty of time for contemplation and I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Still managed to nail the few lines that I knew and Sam really pulled me along the ‘10K road time trial’ at the end of the day. Finishing next to a pub and a river was a huge winner… especially when they serve slush puppies. My order of a Slush, a coke and a shandy went without a bat of an eyelid – clearly standard in these parts.

 In the evening a huge blow was dealt as time ticked on and Pup had not appeared. He finally arrived in bits. He’d had a similar injury to the one I’d suffered in 2012; his shin just refusing to play ball anymore. Day 5 was starting with a trip to the hospital for him to x-ray for a suspected stress fracture. Bad times.

 Day 5 – Carmarthenshire and the Black Mountain

Day 5 had been absolute hell for me the previous time. With both shins in agony I’d refused to give it in. I’d spent the first part to the drop bag almost entirely in tears. I had not looked forward to this bit at all as 30% of the day is on road and was pretty bland in my memory. How wrong!

 It was another scorching day and my word was it beautiful! Stopping in Llandovery for a coke, Feast ice cream, two pork pies, a bag of space raiders and a huge bag of jelly sweets cost me at least 15 minutes as I got caught behind an old lady doing her weekly shop… it was worth every minute. Getting back going and trying to catch up with Sam I demolished the feast, space raiders and pork pies whilst miraculously managing to keep pace with Jez Bragg. We subsequently leap frogged each other until getting to the beautiful Usk reservoir and the drop bag.

 Finding myself able to use Jez as a target pacer was beyond a surprise, but the week had taken its toll on him too in the form of knee tendonitis. Eventually the elastic snapped and Sam and I finally summitted onto the beautiful Black Mountain ridgeline. It’s a home run into the finish from here; it’s a very long one, but you know you’ve finished – it’s the victory lap. Even the serious heat didn’t detract from the beauty, although that was boosted by an ice cream van and two ice creams (one for each hand). It did leave me with cause for alarm as I sensed a national crisis in Wales… I’d been to a petrol station, a local super market and an ice cream van and none of them had stocked Soleros. It’s a scandal brewing, that’s for sure!

 In the end I was 20th, not that I was ever concerned about my finish position. My aim had been to finish with more dignity than last time and to be able to run all the way. I’m pleased to report that I absolutely accomplished my mission. The perfect end to the best running holiday anybody could have.

Once again more than 50% had failed to finish despite the route being known in advance, the first day being a 1/3 less and everybody being issued with a GPS trace prior to the race. It’s fair to say this race eats its young, but I’m yet to find anybody that has entered and not become deeply entranced by the challenge. 5 days of the best mountain running around. Perfect organisation. Incredible experience and camaraderie… it deserves its legendary status.

A little video from day 1 

This gives a flavour of day 1: https://youtu.be/3SliYGpdjPk

I think you will all agree CBH is pretty good at this ultra stuff, but so are his reports, and now everyone understands why i constantly moan about him saying he talks too much whilst out running with him. Total respect, although a Guinness would be my choice not a cider!

CBH

CBH 2

Park run seen runners out in Runcorn, Warrington, Chester, Delamere, Keswick, Ellesmere Port, & Widnes. Full consolidated results below

http://tinyurl.com/kvq2x25

That’s all for this week folks, happy running.