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The Fellsman 2016

The Fellsman results are up, and you can find them on the Fellsman website. Konrad Rawlik was first, in 11:31, Simon Bourne 2nd in 12:13, and Stewart Bellamy 3rd in 12:40.  First woman was Karen Nash in 15:45, 2nd was Josie Greenhalgh in 18:04, and 3rd was Allison Skillicorn in 18:32.  The Vet 50 trophy went to Kevin Perry (13:08), Vet 60 to Chris Davies (13:39), and the new Vet 70 trophy was won by Bob Nash (27:39).  Congratulations to all of them, and to everyone else who finished.

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  Nine members have run all three races so far, and so has Justin Bramall, so if anyone out there knows him, nudge him to send a membership form in.  He’ll get a free buff if he runs another race!  First woman so far is Karen Nash, first man Chris Davies, but it’s early days yet.  Clayton-le-Moors currently lead the team competition, with Team Krypton hot on their heels.

I’ve written up a report of my own race (see below), and posted a few links to photos and other blogs.

The race was awesome – for me anyway.  One of the hardest races I’ve ever done.  Six of the seven Runfurther committee members ran, and all of us finished.  Both Bob Nash and Dick Scroop damaged their backs in falls/swamps, but both managed to finish despite this.  The weather was great, as long as you had warm clothes on, but the bogs were atrocious.  I couldn’t get my shoes off at the end, as the laces were frozen solid.

Karen’s written her blog up and you can find it here.  Adrienne Olszewska’s posted a short report on the Clayton-le-Moors site.  Trevor Burton’s posted his on the Fellsman Facebook page.  Stolly’s blog is here.

There are plenty of photos up.  Aleks Kashefi took a few, including the one below, and they’re up on Facebook – go to the Fellsman page to find them.

Gregareth (by Aleks Kashefi)

Gregareth (by Aleks Kashefi)

SportSunday were there, how could they not be?  Racing Snakes were taking photos too.  Giles Thurston took some really good ones, including this great one below of the sunset on Fleet Moss.  You can find the rest on his website, and I think he’ll get a blog entry on there too shortly.  There are plenty more photos on Facebook too.  Nick Ham’s photos are here.  Mick Armitage’s photos are on Youtube here.

Sunset over Fleet Moss (photo by Giles Thurston)

Sunset over Fleet Moss (photo by Giles Thurston)

Andy’s race report

I have to say I turned up for the Fellsman in a state of some trepidation.  Usually I’m looking forward to my races and raring to go, but I have to confess I didn’t really want to be there this time.  Why?  Well, I didn’t think I was in a fit state to run it.  I was tired.  I’d run the Calderdale Hike the weekend before, with a cold and a cough, and I was nowhere near recovered from any of that.  I’d had dental work done too, and had a really busy week.  I’ve been organising an event myself, and I’ve still got a list of things I should have done but haven’t.  But, I’ve already entered all the Runfurther races.  I’m trying for the Grand Slam this year.  I had to run.

But, I also had to finish.  Last year was my first attempt at the Fellsman, and I only got as far as Stone House, less than halfway round.  I’d got too cold and wet in the sleet on Blea Moor, and couldn’t warm up again.  I couldn’t let that happen again.  And yet there was snow forecast for teatime, and very low temperatures too.  These were the thoughts going through my mind as we gathered on the field in Ingleton ready to set off.  I was already wearing a thermal top, a fleece, a Runfurther Giraffe round my neck, a woolly hat and gloves.  In my pack were a second pair of running tights, two more pairs of gloves, another thermal top, a GoreTex walking anorak and more.  I wasn’t going to be caught out by the cold this time.

And yet.  The sky was blue, it looked like we were in for a great day.  And that’s pretty much what it turned out to be.  I struggled a bit on the long climb up Ingleborough, but I was expecting that.  My legs were still tired, and I’m never that quick going uphill, particularly early in a race when others have fresh legs.  As we approached the summit plateau there was some snow on the ground, but not enough to slow us down, and it wasn’t icy.  The first bit of the descent was pretty horrible, as usual, and I took it easy.  And then I started really enjoying myself.  What a beautiful day to be out in the Dales!  Down to the road, then the plod up Whernside, in the company of Nick Ham and Ian Hodge, although they soon pulled away from me on the climb.  Once on the ridge, faster runners were belting past us coming the other way: Karen, Dave Ralphs, Mick Cottam amongst them.  I wondered whether I’d see any of them again before the finish.  My expectation was that I wouldn’t – I expected to slow down to a crawl, and my objective was just to finish, not to perform additional heroics.

The ridge seemed to go on for ever, but eventually I got to the top, only to find two friends from Delamere Spartans on the top, recceing the Three Peaks.  A quick pause to exchange banter and for them to take an embarrassing photo, and it was my turn to race down again, past the next batch of runners on their way up.  Again, I wondered how many of them I’d be seeing later.  The run down to Kingsdale is a good one once you’ve turned off the stony ridge, and I was going better than I’d expected.  The Runfurther apprentices (Mike and Barney) caught me up on the descent, but that’s the last I saw of them, and they didn’t come past.  Fit young lads, or they were before they both got injured.  I’m not sure the Fellsman was the ideal comeback race for them, but they both finished anyway.

I quite like the climb up Gragareth.  It’s only the last bit that’s steep, and it doesn’t take too long.  Hands on knees, keep the back as straight as you can, and keep motoring!  I got my tally clipped by the hermit marshal on the summit (see Aleks’s photo above), and then followed Aleks along the ridge.  Somehow I got ahead of him, although I’m not sure how that happened.  Great Coum came eventually, and then we all yomped merrily down to Dent.  This year I missed the short cut at the start of the village, but it doesn’t really make much difference anyway.

So, off up the road out of Dent, and I still had a spring in my step.  The track that follows was OK too, although I was starting to feel the miles in my legs by now.  The we cut off left on the pathless stretch across to the Blea Moor CP.  This was where the sleet got me last year, but this year the sky was blue – so the bogs got me instead.  OK there had been soggy bits before this, and it was all much wetter underfoot than last year, but it was approaching the top of Blea Moor that I managed to go in up to my thigh in one of the many swampy bits.  The first of many.  I made my way down to Stone House a bit soggier than I had been, but still warm enough, although until my gloves dried out my fingers got cold for the first time.  Doen to Stone House then, a quick drink of water, and this time I could keep going, up the track under the railway viaduct, and turning left up to Great Knoutberry.  I didn’t know this stretch at all, but there were still plenty of people around to follow, and it’s not complicated.  Out and back to the top, jumping the boggy bits, then due south to Redshaw.  By this time I was feeling that it was time to stop.  I’d run over 30 difficult miles, and it was hard to face up to the fact that I wasn’t quite halfway through the Fellsman.  Following the fence round to Snaizeholme I passed the halfway point at last, somewhere out there in the swamps.  Only another ultra to go then.

I found the trek across to Dodd Fell and up to the top quite easy really, although my legs were no longer capable of running any uphill at all, even on the easy track.  The way off the hill was pathless but easy enough as we could see where we were going, and I reached the Fleet Moss CP in plenty of time to avoid being grouped.  It was getting a lot colder though, so I put on my jacket and added a second pair of gloves.  For most of the day I’d been taking off my Giraffe and gloves whenever we’d dropped off the tops, but from now on it just got colder and colder.  Before Fleet Moss I’d already lost felling in most of both feet, thanks to frequent soakings in ice-cold bog water.

A group of five left Fleet Moss just after I got there, so I followed them out.  I’d recced from here to the end, but that was over a year ago, and I knew the next bit was a bit tricky to follow, although I knew the general idea was to contour round the hillside.  Visibility was so good that it would have been easy enough on my own, I think, but as it was there were plenty of runners to follow.  I thought maybe I’d stick with the group I was following, but I got a bit of a second wind along here, and overtook them, catching up with Andrew Elwood and Kevin Smith, who’d gone past me a lot earlier, looking a lot stronger than I was.  Now they had settled into a fast walk, with very occasional bits of jogging on the easiest stretches, so I thought that would probably suit my pace pretty well for the rest of the way, as I was sure I’d be tiring again soon.  We stayed in touch all the way to Cray, and although we weren’t running together all the way it was in the back of my mind that I should be OK if we go grouped together.  In fact we caught up a few other runners on the descent down the track from Hell Gap, and a crowd of us arrived at Cray together, just before 9, as it was just starting to be dark enough to need our torches.

We ended up grouped as a 7.  Me, Andrew, Kevin, Dave Ralphs, two runners who’d finished just behind me at the South Shropshire Circular in February, and a 7th runner I haven’t yet identified (I don’t think I chatted with him).  As it turned out it was a good grouping, for me anyway.  Andrew knew the route pretty well, and one of the others was using a GPS, so I didn’t need to worry about routefinding.  We kept moving at a fast walk with no faffing around, and I managed to keep the pace up on the way up Buckden Pike.  I then put my head down and started following the heels of the man in front of me.  Was it on Buckden Pike we hit the icy stiles for the first time?  I think so.  Wooden ladder stiles, where earlier runners, feet wet from the bog, had made the stile steps wet.  Then the water had frozen, and the following runners had added further thin layers of ice, until the whole stile was covered and tricky to cross.  Then there were the wooden pallets, placed in front of one stile so you could cross a very boggy area.  They were completely iced over too, and one was on a slant as well, making reaching that stile the most difficult bit of the whole day.

I was becoming more and more out of it, and it seemed to take forever to reach Park Rash, where I dried my gloves out on one of the gas fires, after yet another bog soaking.  Everything was icing up, the bogs had a crust on them now, although nothing like enough to hold our weight.  On the way up Great Whernside we took a line too far left, avoiding the boggy ascent, but meaning we had to traverse right across steep ground to regain the path higher up.  I struggled here, and for the first time the others had to wait a minute or two for me to catch up.  My legs no longer had the strength to cross difficult ground, or to climb at any speed.  My brain gave up now too.  I was no longer capable of making decisions, I just wanted this to end.  On I plodded though, doing my best to keep up with the others, and generally managing it just about.  Years later we saw the lights of Yarnbury, then the CP itself.  That’s it, all finished bar the shouting.  Ungrouped, the others all disappeared down the road, at a speed I couldn’t dream of.  I jogged down, feeling so relieved I couldn’t put it into words.  Through the sleeping village, over the bridge, up the hill and there was the school.  In the door, mumble out my number, someone cut off my tally and I sank onto a chair, incapable of speech.  An angel brought me a mug of tea.

And that was it, I’d run the Fellsman.  It was 2:15 in the morning, and my official time was 17:44.  It was an amazing experience, and it pushed me to my limits.  And the Grand Slam’s still on track: three races down, nine to go.  I drank the tea and shuffled to the gym/dormitory.  I struggled to get my shoes off, as my feet were still numb, and the laces were frozen.  I forced myself to keep going, and managed to have a shower, before taking painkillers and getting into my sleeping bag.  At this point the feeling started returning to my feet, and I realised my left foot might give me a bit of bother.  I fell asleep anyway, too exhausted even to let pain keep me awake.  The next day I drove home, trying to avoid changing gear, as whatever I’d done to my foot made it agony every time.  Even now, six days later, two of my toes are still swollen and partially numb.

Marlborough Downs Challenge on 15 May?  Bring it on!

Calderdale Hike 2016

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I’ve now got the Calderdale Hike results, and they’re now included in the Runfurther leaderboard here.  The race results are now up on the race website.

To everyone’s amazement there was a window of good weather just long enough for us all to have a good run.  The slower runners and the walkers will have got caught by the rain, sleet and snow that followed, but most of the runners got away with it, dry from the knees up.  Yes, it was a bit muddy!

First to finish was Edward Davies in 5:36 (2nd last year), second Steven Radcliffe 4 minutes behind him, and third was Keven Hoult in 5:51.  Nicky Spinks was first woman in 6:18.  Chris Davies kept Nicky in sight for most of the way but lost sight of her in the end to finish first V50 & V60 in 6:27.  Karen Nash was 2nd woman in 7:04, with Beverley Holmes 3rd in 8:43.  Numbers overall were down on 2015, although there were a lot of Runfurther members there.

Karen Nash has written up her run, and you can find that on her blog here.  Sport Sunday were there taking photos, and you can find them here.  Nick Ham was taking photos too, as he ran, and they are here.  He took the photo above, which is on the first climb out of the valley.

See you at the Fellsman!

Andy’s run

A week before the Calderdale Hike I came down with a cold.  Leading up to the race I was feeling pretty awful, coughing and spluttering, and the last thing I felt like doing was running 36 miles.  The only reason I was on that starting line was that I’d entered all the other Runfurther races already, and there was no way my Grand Slam attempt was going to be abandoned without a fight.  If not for the Slam I’d have stayed at home in bed.  So at 8am I dosed myself up with paracetamol and codeine, the objective being to suppress the coughing enough to get through the Hike without doing so much damage to myself that I wasn’t in a fit state to start the Fellsman.

At 9am I tottered off along with everybody else, and to be honest didn’t feel too bad.  Left out of the gates and down the greasy path and steps to cross the valley.  It was as soon as we started up the slippery cobbles that I started to feel the state of my body, so I slowed up a bit.  To be honest I didn’t have much choice.  I knew I was going to be much slower than last year.  On the way over the moors heading south to the M62 we didn’t get last year’s sleet, and I was enjoying the run out.  I fell in with a loose group of runners, including Carmine and Andy and a team of 4 from Bolton wearing red spots, and we kept more or less in touch all the way to Lumbutts.  I took the main road option to Windy Hill, as it does save a few minutes, and then the sneaky cut across the Blackstone Edge ridge to follow the Broad Head Drain path, which is much faster than the Pennine Way.  I overtook Nick Ham here, as he cut off left earlier on a slower route to the Drain.  I then led a group of about 8 on the Hey Head Lane route up to the Stubley Cross Hill turbines, rather than the recommended route – I don’t think it’s quicker, but it’s the route I know.

Down to the “stepping stones” footbridge, and then we had to find the new checkpoint location below Coolam, but that turned out to be straightforward enough.  Andy and I then headed up to the top of Trough Edge End to follow the footpath down, while the spotty boys contoured round to the right.  They’d have probably got away from us here if they’d got the line spot-on, but they dropped a bit too low and had to climb back up a bit to join us.  By the time we got to the Slate Pit Hill checkpoint I was starting to feel pretty tired.  My legs were OK, but my head wasn’t.  Bob Nash was at the checkpoint, having decided to retire after falling and hitting his head – he also had a cold and had the Fellsman ahead of him, so it seemed the right decision to me, although he seemed unsure later whether he’d done the right thing.

Andy and I headed off across the moor and down to Cornholme, with the Bolton lads sometimes in front and sometimes behind.  They were running faster than us but didn’t know the route and were frequently checking their GPS, so we kept coming past them again.  We all flogged up to Mount Cross together, then Andy and I pushed off ahead of them on the track down to Cross Stone.  I was still able to run OK, but I was starting to feel more wobbly all the time, concerned I might pass out while I was running.  We crossed the valley and headed up to the Lumbutts Church checkpoint, and here I made the decision to take the safest option and walk the rest of the way.  Andy, Carmine and the Bolton runners disappeared into the distance as I ambled along under Stoodley Pike, chatting to the walkers.  Nick Ham and Mick Cottam came by shortly after as well.  Somehow I managed to overtake all the walkers I saw without actually walking faster than most of them.  I think it was just that I wasn’t stopping and wasn’t hesitating over the route.  The climb up out of Cragg Vale was really hard, and then the rain started as I walked the last couple miles along the road to the finish.  I was trashed.

So, the only sensible thing to do was to go home and take it easy until the Fellsman.  Instead I headed over to Scarborough for my brother’s 60th birthday bash on the Sunday, then home for dental work on the Monday, then into Manchester on the Tuesday which is why I haven’t been able to write this until today (Wednesday).  I’ve still got every intention of running the Fellsman – although I’m still coughing a bit, and I’m still feeling pretty wiped out.

Early April 2016 news

Just a quick post between nose blows to wish everyone good luck at the Calderdale Hike on Saturday. You’ll be able to spot me by the coughing – I’m planning to go round slowly in the hope I won’t turn my cold into something worse in time for the Fellsman!

All the 2016 Runfurther races are now open for entries – the Warrington Way Ultra is half full already, and the Round Rotherham 50 opened for entries on Tuesday.

Apologies to anyone who’s emailed me this week & not had a reply – I’ll get round to it once I’m feeling a bit better.

I won’t be able to process the Calderdale Hike results or get race reports up here until Wednesday at the earliest – apologies for that.  I won’t be home until Monday lunchtime, probably hungover after my brother’s 60th birthday bash in Scarborough.  Then I’ve got to go for urgent dental work in the afternoon, & go to Manchester on Tuesday to get fitted for a suit (!)

Haworth Hobble 2016

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The weather at the Hobble was pretty good this year, and I think most people really enjoyed themselves – I know I did.  It was warm enough for shorts, there was little wind and no rain.  It was still a bit muddy of course, but not nearly as bad as it could have been.  As always there were a lot of very strong runners – this is a difficult race to win high Runfurther point scores in!

We handed out plenty of Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake at registration, and there were prizes from Pete Bland Sports, Injinji and Ultimate Direction given out later, along with the bottles of wine supplied by race organiser Brett.  Many thanks to Brett for his generous donation to Runfurther as well.

I’ve updated the results spreadsheet for 2016, complete with the new Under-25 category, although there were no under-25 Runfurther members at the Hobble – they were out injured!  Here are the Hobble results.

Ian Symington and Ken Sutor ran as a team and came in first in 4:16:01 – good lads!  They’re running abroad later in the year as a team so wanted to get some practice in.  Both of them are strong contenders to win the Runfurther trophy this year.  Kevin Hoult was 3rd in 4:22:38.  First woman was Lucy Colquhoun in 5:10:14, 2nd was Lina Mardall of Deeside (5:25:42), who was running in a pair with Alan Smith.  3rd woman was Josie Greenhalgh of Horwich RMI Harriers, just behind Lina in 5:27:15.  I took 5:37:45, which was my fastest since 2012, so I was happy with that.

Karen Nash, Nigel Aston and Brian Stallwood (Stolly) have all written up their experiences of the day – just click on the name to get linked to their reports.  Karen was in a serious amount of pain with her foot, but she still wouldn’t let me beat her.

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Quite a few photos were taken on the day.  Nick Ham was wielding his camera on the way round as usual.  Quite why he persuaded someone to take the photo above I’m not sure, and perhaps we’d better not enquire…  He took the photos I’ve borrowed for this webpage.

Mike Sellors took a load of photos, and he’s posted them to the Runfurther Facebook page, so you’ll have to scroll down that to find them (three sets).  I’ve no idea how to link to them directly.

Scott Leach was out taking photos, and they’re on Facebook too.  You can find them here and here.  He’s been doing this to raise money for blood cancer charity Bloodwise, so please give generously:  his Justgiving page for making donations is here.

Lastly (so far) SportSunday were also out taking photos, so check theirs out too.

The next 9 races in the Championship are already open for entries.  That only leaves Rotherham (which should open for entries shortly) and Warrington, which opens for entries on 1 April.  Usually Rotherham doesn’t run out of places quickly if at all, but the Warrington Way Ultra may fill very quickly, so if you want to run you should be ready to get your entry in as soon as they open for business – the other two ultras in Cheshire both filled up in no time this year.

Next race is the Calderdale Hike on 9 April, with the Fellsman just a week later.  See you there!

Early March 2016 news

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Horrible weather in Cheshire today – let’s hope it clears up soon, as it’s only 10 days until the Haworth Hobble.  Still, most of us don’t mind a bit of rain do we?  Or wind?  Or sleet?

I drove up to Kendal yesterday, & had a good run out with the dog along Cunswick Scar and Scout Scar.  Then I headed for Pete Bland Sports to talk to Jon Broxap.  I’ve now got the PBS banners, and the prize vouchers for the races.  If you win a voucher you’ll have to select what you want from their website then phone them up to place an order, as their online ordering system can’t handle vouchers yet.  I gave Jon a pile of Runfurther postcards as well, and they’ll be sending them out in their delivery parcels.  Thanks Jon & Matt!

I also visited John Barron at the Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake factory, and he kindly donated enough mint cake for every runner at the Hobble to have some, and the plan is for me to go back up to collect more for future races.  Their stock is low at the moment as the factory was flooded out when the floods hit Kendal.  As many of you will already know all my running over the past few years has been on just Kendal Mint Cake and water – easy on the stomach, and on the wallet too.  A lot cheaper than gels!  I think there was an article in Trail Running a while back that said KMC was just as good as anything else as race fuel, and if I can get hold of a copy of that article I’ll fill in some details.  If you see anyone wearing a Romney’s t-shirt that’ll be me!

Andy

Late February 2016 news – Ultras on telly etc

Here’s the new 2016 promotional postcard, soon to be appearing at a race near you (I hope).  Many thanks to Si Berry, Karen McDonald, Injinji & Ultimate Direction for organising, designing and paying for them! You should start seeing them at races from this weekend. Please ask us for some so you can put them out at the other races you run – a lot of the Runfurther runners first got involved by picking up a postcard at a race, so they’re an important part of keeping Runfurther thriving. The photo on the postcard is of Ian Symington, and he certainly deserves that honour!

Postcard

Last night (21 Feb) the Adventure Show was broadcast on BBC Scotland, featuring last October’s Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra – the last of the 2015 Runfurther races. I’ve just watched it on iPlayer, and it’s well worth watching. You can find it on the BBC website here.
Watch the whole programme: the Jedburgh race makes up most of it, broken up by two shorter segments on the Glencoe Skyline race. There are interviews with Ian Symington (2nd) and Ken Sutor (3rd), and also a few words from Bob Nash, who was showing off his Runfurther Giraffe. I thought the programme gave a really good feel for what ultra running’s all about, and was pretty true to what it was actually like racing on the day.

Many thanks to Si Berry, Karen McDonald, Injinji & Ultimate Direction for organising, designing and paying for them! You should start seeing them at races from this weekend. Please ask us for some so you can put them out at the other races you run – a lot of the Runfurther runners first got involved by picking up a postcard at a race, so they’re an important part of keeping Runfurther thriving. The photo on the postcard is of Ian Symington, and he certainly deserves that honour!

As I write, there’s just under 3 weeks until the Haworth Hobble, and the start of Runfurther 2016. I hope you’re all training hard – I’ve just been out & done 8 miles. See you at the race!

Lastly, I’d like to put a word in for Nick Smith’s website Racelifts.org.  The idea of this website is to encourage car-sharing for races.  Race Organisers register their race, send the postcodes of the entrants to racelifts.org, then runners can send messages to other runners near them to see whether car-sharing is a goer.  Your exact postcode and email address are kept confidential until you want to share them with someone.  If you’re a race organiser, please consider putting your race up on Racelifts.org.  I think the Fellsman will be using it, and I’ll be emailing the other Runfurther ROs to suggest they might want to do so too.  It saves on costs to runners and the environment, and of course eases parking problems at the race venues.  It costs ROs and runners nothing to use it.

Ultra Calendar Updated

I’ve finally found some time to update the Ultra Calendar, and the tab to click on has reappeared too – sorry it went missing during the website updates the other week.  All the UK ultras we know about are on this calendar, apart from those who haven’t yet announced when their next date is.  The Runfurther 2016 races are now shown in bold.  Have a look through the calendar and just see how many you’re missing – there are nearly 300 races on the list!

2016 Sponsors

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We’re delighted to announce that Pete Bland Sports will be sponsoring Runfurther for 2016, joining our existing sponsors Injinji and Ultimate Direction.  Pete Bland Sports will be well-known to many of you: they have a shop in Kendal and a comprehensive online shop with huge amounts of quality running equipment at keen prices.  Part of that stock is Injinji and Ultimate Direction kit, so you can help keep all our sponsors fed and happy in just one shopping.  Please tell them Runfurther sent you if you get the chance!  The more Runfurther members and their friends buy from our sponsors, the better that is for Runfurther too.  Just click on the logo to get through to their websites.

2016 Races Announced

We are delighted to be able to announce the races that will make up the Runfurther Ultra Championship 2016.  We think we’ve got a great year’s running coming up, although we can’t guarantee we’ll be as lucky with the weather in 2016 as we were this year!  Five races have been retained from 2015:

  • The Haworth Hobble
  • The Calderdale Hike
  • The Fellsman
  • The Marlborough Downs Challenge
  • The Long Tour of Bradwell

Three races are returning to the Championship after a 1-year break:

  • The Northants Ultra (Shires and Spires)
  • The High Peak 40
  • The Round Rotherham 50

There are four new races:

  • The Pennine 39
  • The St Cuthbert’s Way Ultra
  • The Clif Bar 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons
  • The Warrington Way Ultra

You can find the dates and lots more information about all the races here.  We’ve continued the approach of mixing old favourites with new races, with a spread across the country that should suit existing members and attract new runners too.  We’re off to Wales again, with what will be a pretty hard race in the Brecon Beacons.  We’ve got just half a race in Scotland this time: the St Cuthbert’s Way race starts in Northumberland on Holy Island, and finishes at Melrose, which should be a spectacular run.  The Pennine 39 crosses the highest mountain in England outside the Lakes, and the Warrington Way race should suit those who enjoy the Round Rotherham, which is also back for 2016.

Five of the races are already open for entries, and we’d advise entering as soon as you can: some of them will fill up quite quickly.  I’ve already entered all of them (he said smugly).

We didn’t manage to fit in some races we’d really have liked to include, but date clashes prevented it.  We’d have liked to have gone back to the Hardmoors 55 and the Evesham Ultra.  We’d really liked to have included one of the Beyond Marathon races, such as the Apocalyse or the Gritstone Grind, but we couldn’t fit them in either.  And there’s nothing in the Lakes for 2016.  We’ll do our best to remedy all these in 2017, and if any of you have any other suggestions for 2017 races, just let us know.

Enter those races, and we’ll see you there!