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 email@example.com. 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;
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
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.
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!!
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?
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!
Park run seen runners out in Runcorn, Warrington, Chester, Delamere, Keswick, Ellesmere Port, & Widnes. Full consolidated results below
That’s all for this week folks, happy running.