Welcome to this week’s blog, sorry for the slight delay I was waiting on some key reports from last week. It was a bumper week with all types of races, London Marathon, ultra running, fell and the Borders League, so let’s get started…first up is Ed Halliwell…
Race Report – Shropshire Way Ultra (50 miles) – 27 April 2019
I signed up to do the Saunders Mountain Marathon in July this year after doing a couple of fell events towards the end of last year and remembering how much I enjoy them. I ended up watching a few fell running videos on Youtube over Christmas to get myself in the mood, drifted into Ultra videos, and somehow by Boxing Day I’d signed up to do this. Bearing in mind I was only running up to about 10 miles at the time, I suspect alcohol may have been involved, but my memory is hazy. Anyway, four months of somewhat accelerated distance training saw me up to regular 25 mile weekend runs and at 7am on Saturday I was at the start line, hoping that the other 25 miles would kind of just happen on the day.
The weekend before had been the heatwave, so I was praying that it wouldn’t be the same weather for Saturday. I certainly got my wish as it wasn’t a heatwave, but I must learn to be more specific with praying as the heatwave was replaced by gale force winds and rain. Not sure how many people had entered (it was the first year of the race, so maybe not many), but only 43 people were foolish enough to still actually turn up. Looking around, I got a sudden fear that everyone else looked like they knew what they were doing, and I was going to roll in last…
The race started with a 7 mile loop around the Ellesmere countryside, which involved a lot of long grass just to ensure our feet were properly drenched before the main 43 mile loop. I felt pretty comfortable after that, and was sitting in the top half of the field. The next section was one of the two long canal sections. This was around 15 miles to the next checkpoint in a village south of Oswestry. We came off the canals for a little while due to a closed towpath, but mostly it was quite dull, but got a lot of miles under the belt.
The next two sections contained the climb, around 750m in total I think the Race Director said, over around 17-18 miles to Chirk. I’d picked up some ultra running poles (“cheat sticks” as I believe they’re called!) cheaply a few weeks ago, and had one bit of climbing practice with them a couple of weeks beforehand. I was unsure whether or not to take them, but I had them attached to my pack and started using them. I have to say I don’t think I’d have finished without them, the extra help they gave on the climbs, and ultimately anywhere, was invaluable.
Around half way through this section I started having serious problems with my right knee, so between about 30 and 35 miles I ceased being able to run downhill. This kind of helped me keep pace on the uphills, but it was disappointing to be hobbling down descents.
This hilly section was most exposed to the wind, especially along Offa’s Dyke, and I was nearly blow straight off it a couple of times, I reminded myself I’d chosen the hills for ‘interest’ and ploughed on. This section also started to throw up navigational issues, as the orange spray painted arrows seemed absent in places (possibly washed away) and sometimes just seemed plain wrong. Several runners reported going off course. I went off course at one point, but fortunately had my compass and could see a tree line to help with navigation, so got back on track. I switched to relying on my map for navigation.
By the end of the hills, my knee was hurting so much I couldn’t run much even on the flat. I was able to keep a good power hiking pace up, but the 10 mile ‘run-in’ along the canals was really frustrating, as I had the energy to run still, but couldn’t manage more than about 50 metres at a time at most. At the last checkpoint I was in 15th place, but took around two and half hours for the final ten miles and slipped back to 19th in the end, in 11 hours and 42 minutes, with 34 out of 43 finishing the run. It wasn’t the time I was looking for in the run-up to the race, but the combination of weather and my knee meant I was happy just to finish, and in mid-table respectability.
I’m sure the signposting issues will be much improved last year, and the countryside is nice, so hopefully this race will expand in future years. Not sure I’ll be putting my body through it again though…. 🙂
Some inspirational running from club members at the London Marathon last Sunday, it was great being able to track everyone and watch the finish live on TV! A big well done to everyone who took part, some big PBs were seen on the day too. Over to Jackie with her superb report.
After battling to get to London, during Storm Hannah on Saturday, things settled down overnight. Runners made their way to Greenwich Park on a cloudy, quite cool morning, with occasional rays of sunshine, spots of rain & blasts of wind throughout the rest of the day . Ideal cool running conditions made for an amazing race day. Some great times by Helsby Running Club members.
Richard Hankins 3:21:52
Jane Ashbrook 3:34:01
Rachel Holden 3:42:19
Hayley Brooks 3:58:44
Jackie Keasley 4:04:52
Jason Tate 4:15:07
& the winnners times …
Kipchoge 2:02:37 1st man
Mo 2:05:59 1st Brit
Kosgei 2:18:20 1st lady
Perdue 2:25:38 1st Brit
I was running in a charity place, for Team YHA, with a team of 15 including Alex Staniforth (of Everest & West Cheshire fame) who managed a great time of 3:14:19 wearing a quaility street YHA triangle. He said he was more challenged by getting his costume across London in the wind on Saturday than by wearing it on Sunday!
I set off faster than I intended, taking over a minute off my ParkRun time these days. Feeling comfortable I thought I might as well carry on rather than slow down & managed to keep going for the next 20 miles before dropping below my typical ParkRun pace! Stopped at 11 & 17 miles for a quick chat, refuel & photos with Bill & co. At mile 17 I managed to stuff down a huge piece of granola flapjack & jelly babies which lifted my fading pace. The last 6 miles were tough but the sights & the amazing crowds all the way round keep cheering you on, handing you sweets, drawing you to the finish.
Very pleased with a time of 4:04:52 as I was aiming for 4:30, which is my good for age time! 50th V60 lady out of 331.
It was great being part of team YHA. It added an extra dimension and being in the charity runner start was really humbling, with all the different causes with slogans and outfits about why folk were running. I’m currently over 80% towards my target of £1500 so there is is still time for you to add to this great fund !
Here’s some happy memories of the weekend.
Steve Riley has been playing on the fells again, looked like a great race Steve! Please read on for his report…
Prestatyn to Meol Gyw
Dave Jones and me had a cracking day out on the new Sea to Summit event from Prestatyn to Moel Gyw in the Clwyds. The lowest key marathon ever – free jelly babies and no ballot! Dave played a blinder and came in 4th. Nice warm up for his hundred miler. Cough! Glad we had Sunday’s weather not Saturday’s 😀
Jake Holmes has sent in an epic race report for an epic race! Thanks for sending in such a comprehensive report Jake, get the popcorn out folks it’s a great read.
Fellsman Race report – Saturday 27th (and a bit of Sunday 28th!) April
What a ridiculous event!
It’d been in my head since January as something I wouldn’t mind having a stab at and at and 3 weeks earlier I was chatting to a guys at a different race who’d done it twice, was in it again and in the same breath telling me how hard it was while trying to persuade my to sign up. A few days of back and forths later and I had!
From their website: “The Fellsman is a high level traverse covering more than 60 miles over very hard rugged moorland. The event climbs over 11,000 feet in its path from Ingleton to Threshfield in the Yorkshire Dales…. the route does not follow well defined footpaths, so the entrants’ skills with a map and compass are tested as well as their physical fitness.” I was after a challenge and reckoned this qualified.
Heading up the night before the weather was poor and getting worse… but that’s all part of it (I kept telling myself). Didn’t stop the butterflies from showing up! There were plenty of checkpoints to duck out at if things went wrong of course but no one wants to do that.
Saturday morning and after the most thorough kit check I’ve ever been through – first aid kit with various bandages, emergency bivvy, 5 long sleeve tops, 2 full length trousers, emergency food and, most importantly, 4 safety pins(??) – we were bused the hour over to the start and come 8:30am we were off.
Half a mile in and alongside me arrives they guy who persuaded me to sign up. He’d come with another mate and I thought I’d tag on to see if the pace worked as company for the day would make for a completely different event. It worked well and we were soon up and over the first mountain, Ingleborough, two checkpoints were ticked off and we were heading up Whernside.
Skip ahead a bit and Our first taste of heading straight up the face of a hill, off footpath, was to Gragareth summit. The wind picked up, hail started coming down the size of frozen peas and you realise a bit more of what you’re in for. It was that harsh it was funny and spirits were good as we approached the CP to see the commitment the Marshalls were putting in too!
From the beginning, total miles and time were irrelevant. It was all about completing and whether it was 12noon or 2pm I couldn’t have told you. The race is broken down into 25 checkpoints and it was all about getting to the next one. They’re on tops, in valleys, at the end of footpaths or surrounded by bog. Some a mile apart, some 7 miles apart.
Over the next few hours, we got well acquainted with bog, more wind and rain (thankfully not too much more hail). The bigger targets became the catered checkpoints which came every so often… with different offerings: sausage rolls, pasta, beans, flapjack, biscuits. You had to carry a cup for hot drinks and my favourite was handing it over, to be given it back full of chilli! Finished that, handed in again for a quick wash before I got my cup of tea 🙂
Come 7pm, and everyone is put into groups of at least 4 to run through the night. This made Fleet Moss CP17 our checkpoint we’d be grouped at. We decided it was the chance to reset things before heading into the night. Fresh/additional layers, gloves, hat, anything you needed. Because of that coming, I didn’t worry about how cold my hands were getting from the wind and rain and by the time we got there, I couldn’t pinch the buckle on my bag to get it off… “err.. excuse me mate, do your hands work? any chance of a bit of help”. We’d been in and out of other checkpoints in 10mins top, but we knew to take our time here to get things right again.
We’d been running as a three all day and a girl had joined us a little earlier which meant we had an evenly paced 4 ready to go. Two other guys were waiting for a group though so they were added and became a 6. You’re not sure what you’ll get then, might be someone who’s struggling but not wanting to give up yet, which could make settling to a good pace tricky. Turns out we landed on our feet with a couple of hardy yorkshiremen who’d completed the race 12 times between them. This also meant that instead of having to check the map every time you started to doubt your nav, we had John who just led the way like he could have done it blind folded. Big plus!
The first CP of note after grouping and night arriving was Middle Tongue (great name). We found ourselves at the foot of a big ol’ climb. New guys were pushing the pace and Dave (the guy I knew from previous) was struggling which started to stretch our group out. It was a real of climb. Nature of it all being by head torch and about 5 or 10m visibility meant as the slopes steepened, you didn’t know what you were climbing in to. A steep moorland slope turned into a much steeper rocky face to negotiate round, before a 3m scramble to get over onto the tops. The little tent CP at the top was a very welcome site.
The next CP, Cray, was a catered one.. a tent we could catch our breath in and have a cup of tea. I had a dry pair of socks in my bag I’d been thinking about most of the day and now was the time. All a bit pointless as I put my feet straight back into the sodden inov8’s but for 2 minutes it felt great :). Dave decided to call it a day here, to be fair, he didn’t look great and there was still another 17 miles to go or something. His pal gave him a suitable amount of stick but it all made sense as there were first aiders about and better to duck out here than have trouble on the tops somewhere.
After another couple more hours of bog dodging, we got to the only part of the course I knew. I’d done my one recce the week before of the last climb and about 8 of the last 12miles. It was a good call as it meant getting to that had been my target, in my head shortening the route by 10 miles. Get there and I’m on the home straight. Turns out the home straight was about 3.5 hours but by that point no one was dropping out. (It was somewhere along here I started to lose my voice. Not through shouting or even talking that much, I guess it had just had enough of the whole thing and decided to take a break. Made for an interesting first day back at work but it’s pretty much back now).
The sun started to come up, the birds started singing and we started dropping down off the last fell and back to Threshfield and the finish at 6am Sunday.
I’d only gone and completed it!
Official results aren’t in yet, but from the tracker.. 330ish started… 100 dropped out (higher than usual due to the weather) and I finished about 135th (which is pretty irrelevant, but top half is always nice).
What a mad event. It’s fair to say I’m still sleeping pretty heavily.
Over to Fitzy for a report on the final Borders League at Prestatyn. Congratulations on a superb season in such a tough league, the standard was very high this year so to be battling it out in the top league is testament to the quality runners we have. Huge big thanks to Fitzy for rallying the troops and making sure we have full teams each week!
Borders League Race No. 7
Weds 24th April seen the green army travel over to Prestatyn for the season finale, already in the knowledge that Hannah Cowley had secured 1st lady, but hoping the ladies could put another great performance in and somehow finish champions. Even if the the injured Hannah would have run, I think the Buckley team overall were just a little bit too strong finishing 51 points ahead in the final standings.
There has been some great performances from the ladies this season, but what has most impressed me is the number of ladies now turning up to race these month after month. There have been years gone by were we always struggled for the 4 counters, and have even incurred penalty points in past seasons. It’s not just Hannah who has stolen the headlines this season, Laura BH coming in a very good 2nd place in the FV40, Alison Halsall 1st place in FV45, and Debbie Read 1st in FV60.
I’m not sure if the ladies have ever won the Borders league before, maybe someone can correct me if i’m wrong, but i think the strength and depth now of this team of ladies can definitely go one better next season.
After a difficult start to the season the mens team have got bigger, and stronger each race. I think we all agree that we have never seen such a competitive borders league like this since the days of Froddy back in the 1980’s/90’s. Our bacon was probably saved from relegation when loads of of turned up and showed our commitment over in Anglesey, other teams in the league just could not compete with our numbers that day.
There’s been some fantastic performances from lots of the men this season, but Colin Bishop yet again is my stand out performance winning the MV55 category. I know how much Bish loves this club, even though he’s always moaning, as Jane says “if he’s not moaning he”s not well”
Another 4th place finish 2 seasons running for the men, above teams with quality runners like Prestatyn and Wirral. I think it’s my aim to push us to 3rd next year but with EPRC and Wrexham coming up from Div 2, i think it’s going to be more competitive than ever.
Next season will see us host a race, we are working hard right now to organise this and i cannot wait for October and the season to start all over again. Thank you to each and every one of you who have turned up in your droves month after month, my highlight being the Chester Spring 5 course race, us getting a photo outside the club house and then all walking down to the start. It was like a scene out of Braveheart and us going into battle.
Pre-season training starts in August, rule 4.3 is not in place right now so make the most of it.
See you all soon
Tim Palmer has sent over some interesting stats about the borders league, please see below:
This is an analysis of the winning times at Birkenhead Park over the seasons – which shows that these are becoming faster by perhaps a minute over the last 10 seasons or so.
Please find the consolidated results from last Saturday’s parkruns. Once again well done to all who took part, it’s great to fly the Helsby flag at these events.
Phew! That’s all folks, thanks if you got this far. It’s great to see so many reports in the inbox, please keep the coming each week, the email address in firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep on running…