Sponsors for the 2017 Series:

White Rose 30 2017 & the Prizegiving/AGM (updated 11 Nov)

The race

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The weather was dry, and the race was fast.  It was hilly, but with a fair bit of tarmac, and much of the rest on good tracks, it was very runnable.  I spent the morning sorting out the Jedburgh results, & didn’t get to Marsden until the first few runners had already finished.  Remember we were giving Runfurther points for runners in the 60-mile and 100-mile races as well, using the 30-mile times from their trackers.  First home was Rory Harris in 3:56:42, with Lee Kemp just behind in 3:58:15.  Third runner to get back to Marsden was Cees van der Land, in 4:05:08, but he went straight back out for another lap, eventually winning the 60-mile race.  The head to head between Ken Sutor and Kevin Hoult was settled when Ken finished next in 4:07:53.  Kevin had entered the 100-mile race: he finished the first lap in 4:14:00, but retired at that point.

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First woman was Kim Kennedy in 5:03:28, 2nd was Helen Morley, only 2o seconds behind. Helen Pickford was next through in 5:11:30, on her way to 3rd place overall in the 60-mile race.  Lesley Murphy was next in 5:17:53.  Karen Nash finished in considerable pain exactly a minute after Lesley, & clearly needs to get her foot sorted out!

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Karen has written her race up, and you can find that on her blog here. Nick’s photos are on Flickr here, & I’ve pinched some of the for this post.  You can find the full race results on the White Rose website here.

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The final 2017 Runfurther results

The full Runfurther leaderboard has been updated and is here.  As long as I’ve made no mistakes, that should be the final version for 2017.  This year’s winners are:

Men

  1.  Ken Sutor, Cheshire Hash House Harriers.  Well done to Ken.  He beat Kevin Hoult in all 3 of their Runfurther head-to-heads this year, so is a worthy winner.
  2.  Kevin Hoult, Calder Valley FR.  Last year’s winner, but not quite fast enough to repeat that this year.
  3.  Rory Harris.  Rory’s definitely one to watch for 2018.  All 3 runners were way ahead of the rest of the field this year, but quite close together.  Rory could have taken the title had he run another Long race & replaced his Fellsman points with a higher score.
  4. David Chetta, Mercia FR.
  5. Adam Worrallo, Bingley Harriers.  David & Adam were only separated by 5 points.

Women

  1. Karen Nash, again.  A running machine, and it’s about time she got some more competition!
  2. Debbie Cooper, Lytham St Annes Road Runners.  Settled by her run at Jedburgh.
  3. Sarah Smith, Valley Striders AC.
  4. Janet Hill, Springfield Striders.
  5. Charlotte Smith.

Men over 50

This year we’ve changed the age category rules, so, for example, over 60s aren’t eligible for this category

  1. Martin Terry, Clayton-le-Moors Harriers.  Looks like this one’s Martin’s until he’s 60, at this rate!
  2. Nick Ham (of whom more later)
  3. Kevin Smith.  Kevin was only 2 points behind Nick.

Women over 50

  1. Karen Nash.

Men over 60

  1. Chris Davies, Saddleworth Runners.
  2. Alwyn Nixon.

Women over 60

  1. Janet Hill.

Men over 70

  1. Bob Nash.
  2. Dick Scroop, Mercia FR

Most points

Men: Nick Ham, 7627 points

Women: Karen Nash, 7464 points

Grand Slam of all 12 races

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Nick Ham & Bob Nash

Bob Nash, the first over 70 to achieve this – an amazing result.

Nick Ham, & not for the first time.  Congratulations to both of them.

Team competition

  1. Calder Valley Fell Runners, 8836 points: Kevin Hoult, Ian Symington, Martin Huddleston
  2. Team Krypton, 8319 points: Karen Nash, Nick Ham, Linda Murgatroyd
  3. Mercia Fell Runners, 8186 points: David Chetta, Stewart Bellamy, Dick Scroop

Prizegiving and AGM

Karen Nash & Ken Sutor

Karen Nash & Ken Sutor

Well I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow account of the AGM, which was brief as usual.  The main item was my standing down as Assistant Secretary, and Kevin Smith volunteering to join the committee in my place.  I’ll continue to run the website & turn race results into Runfurther points though – who else is daft enough to do it?  Anyway, the AGM minutes are here.

Karen Nash & Martin Terry

Karen Nash & Martin Terry

As for the presentations, I’ve already listed who won what above, so here are a few of Nick photos of the presentations.  The rest are on his Flickr site here.

Karen Nash and Janet Hill

Karen Nash and Janet Hill

And we all had a rollicking good time, and danced into the night.  The excitement was overwhelming (see below)…

The presentations at fever pitch

The presentations at fever pitch

Lastly, many thanks to Karen for holding everything together so well this year, and to Si Berry and Lee Kemp for turning up in Marsden with gifts for all from Ultimate Direction and Injinji.  We just need Lee to run a few more Runfurther races next year now, to give Ken, Kevin & Rory more to aim at!

Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra 2017

The Race

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Well I wasn’t running, but I was there, due to coincidence (see below).  That meant I could take photos of a lot of the runners, which are all further down in this post.  Nick Ham was taking photos as well, and his are all on Flickr here.  The day before had been a lovely sunny day, but race day was cloudy, & a bit breezy – in Jedburgh at least.  It was muddy underfoot, but stayed warm and dry all day.  Or, rather, it stayed warm for most of the day.  Things changed a bit for the runners once they hit the Eildon Hills though, with very strong winds that gave trouble to some of the more exhausted runners.  Still, they were soon down again, & on their way back.  Fancy dress was rampant, although there was no Mr Blobby costume.

Race results are on the race website here.  First home was John Hammond in 5:09:48, 2nd was Dave Ward in 5:15:26, & 3rd was past Runfurther champion Ian Symington in 5:19:31.  7th was Nicola Duncan (above) in a great new women’s record time of 5:41:54.  Anna Gilmore was 2nd woman in 6:15:21, 18th overall, and 3rd was Alicia Lauckner in 6:46:22.

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Runfurther results

The updated Runfurther leaderboard is here.  Apologies if this appears rushed, as I’m processing the Jedburgh results & getting this update done on the morning of the White Rose Ultra and the AGM.  Debbie Cooper finished at Jedburgh, so looks to have settled 2nd place in the women’s competition.  Ian Symington finished 3rd, which means Calder Valley Fell Runners have gone to the top of the team table.  Both Nick Ham and Bob Nash finished safely, so are still on track for slams.  Nick dressed for the occasion…

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…and the rest will have to wait until after today’s race.  My money’s on Ken Sutor beating Kevin Hoult, since he’s beaten him twice already this year.  On the other hand, Ken doesn’t always turn up to races he’s entered, and Kevin generally does…

The Walker’s Tale

I’ve not been running this year (apart from a handful of short training runs and the Long Tour of Bradwell I’ve done nothing).  There are two reasons for that.  One was that I ran myself into the ground last year, trying to do too much.  I ended up with legs that wouldn’t support me properly on rough ground, & being close to passing out while running a couple of times. That on its own was enough to force me to take a rest.  Then I already knew I would be busy this year working on walking guidebooks.  I’m working on an updated edition of “The End to End Trail” – a guidebook for walkng from Land’s End to John O’Groats – and also a guide to a new long distance path from Inverness to John O’Groats – the John O’Groats Trail.  This means walking over 1000 miles, taking copious notes, making maps & writing everything up.  I’ve been trying to get it all finished by the end of 2017, but I’m not going to manage it.  Anyway, I’ve had to grab every chance to get away & walk parts of the route.  I can’t take my dog with me on multi-day trips, as he can only manage occasional long days.  That means I can only get away in the school holidays.  I had one long section left to do, from the England/Scotland border at Byrness to Milngavie north of Glasgow: 7 days’ walking.  I had only one opportunity to fit that in to 2017, and that was my daughter’s half term holiday, 9 days long.  So, with a day at each end for travel that meant walking from Jedburgh to Melrose on the day of the Jedburgh Ultra, along the route of the race.

I walked from Byrness to Jedburgh the day before the race, bumped into Nick Ham in the street, & we went to the Belters Bar for our tea.  Next morning I had breakfast as early as my B&B would cook it, & set off just in time to see the race start.  I then plodded on, and was chatting to a couple of visitors by Mertoun Bridge when John Hammond ran past, on his way back, shortly followed by Dave Ward & Ian Symington.  I got my camera out then, & started taking photos of the runners coming towards me as I walked along.  Some I missed…

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Anyway, I snapped most runners in the first half of the race, then I started worrying about my camera battery, as I needed to take photos all week for the book.  So, sorry to those I missed.  I passed the tailenders on the way up the Eildons from Bowden.  The wind had dropped a bit by the time I got up there, and I didn’t visit the tops anyway: my route crossed the col & went down to Melrose.  Here’s the complete set of photos anyway:

And after the race went by I walked another 100 miles or so, then got the train home just in time to write this up & head off to get the White Rose results & process them ready for the prizegiving. I hope…

End of year approaching

The last two races and the AGM/prizegiving are fast approaching.  Jedburgh (28 October) has been full for a while, but you can still enter the White Rose 30 (4 November).  In fact you can enter the White Rose 60 or the White Rose 100 if you want: your time for the first 30 miles will count for Runfurther.

I will be away doing guidebook work, so I won’t be able to work out the Runfurther points for Jedburgh until the morning of the White Rose 30 – my apologies.  I’ll update the website then head off to the race & get the results of the White Rose 30 processed in time for the prizegiving.

Please come to the AGM & prizegiving.  The AGM is generally kept very short, and we need an audience for giving the prizes (as well as people to give the prizes to).  It is on Saturday 4 November starting at 4:30 pm, at The New Inn, Manchester Rd, Marsden,  HD7 6EZ, which I am given to understand sells beer.  Sandwiches and chips have been booked too – you don’t have to pay for them.  This is the same day as the White Rose Ultra.  Anyone planning to run the Shepherd’s Skyline fell race the same day instead ought to be able to make it to Marsden in time as well.

Long Tour of Bradwell results revisited

Summary

We recently had brought to our attention that the first two finishers at the Long Tour of Bradwell failed to find one of the controls.  According to the race rules they should have been disqualified, although the race organisers always have the discretion to bend rules if they want.  Normally of course we go along with the published results, and use those to calculate Runfurther points.  In this case the missed control was accidentally overlooked at the time, so they were awarded first and second place in the race.  The race organiser has admitted this was a mistake, and the two runners have admitted they didn’t visit the control.  The problem this gives us is that it significantly disadvantaged one of the top two men in this year’s Runfurther competition.  If those two runners had been disqualified, Ken Sutor would have been well ahead of Kevin Hoult.  With them still in the results, Kevin is slightly ahead.  None of us thinks this is really fair on Ken (that includes Kevin).

Discussions between the Race Organiser (Stephen Hughes), Ken, Kevin and Runfurther Executive Committee members have led to an agreement to give those two runners a time penalty for failing to spend the time finding the control, but that it will apply only to the calculation of Runfurther points.  This means that a number of male runners now have more Runfurther points for their LToB run than they were originally awarded: this is reflected in the latest version of the online Leaderboard.

This has set up a head to head between Ken and Kevin at the White Rose 30 – as long as they’re near the front of the race, whoever beats the other wins the Championship.

We have also looked at the other runners who failed to find controls, and we think there are only two we need to talk to as they may not have found controls.  If we are deducting time for two runners we need to apply the same rules fairly, at least to everyone who may be in line for a Runfurther prize.  Some have already been explained, some won’t affect Runfurther prizes, and in some cases the runner must have gone past the missed control to get to the next one.  We will talk to the two runners concerned and agree with them how to resolve this.

The detail

Here are the gory details we’ve agreed on:

In summary, the issues are:

1.  The first two runners to finish the Long Tour (Lee Kemp and Duncan Coombs) failed to find CP14.  Stephen has said that means they should have been disqualified, but this wasn’t picked up at the time, and they were awarded 1st and 2nd places in the race. Lee and Duncan are not involved in the Runfurther Championship.

2.  Lee and Duncan didn’t deliberately take a short cut, and in fact did come quite close to the control.  This is confirmed by a Strava log.

3.  The 3rd placed runner (Ken Sutor) finished more than 20 minutes behind Lee.  The effect of this on Runfurther points was significant, as points for all the male runners are derived from the time of the first male finisher.  Had the first two runners been disqualified, all the male Runfurther runners in the race would have gained additional points towards the Championship.

4.  The runner most disadvantaged was in fact Ken Sutor himself. After 10 races he is currently positioned second male runner, just behind Kevin Hoult.  If Lee and Duncan had been disqualified in the LToB then Ken would be well ahead of Kevin.

5.  Given the mixup on the day, and the time delay, the LToB organisers are reluctant to change the official results, but keen to see a fairer result for the Runfurther runners if we can achieve it.

6.  There were 10 other runners apart from Lee and Duncan who failed to record a time at at least one control but appear in the results as finishers.  There were many more with no time recorded at CP1, due to a problem outside the control of the runners.

The way forward that has been agreed is as follows:

1.  The official race results will stay as they are.

2.  The LToB organisers will take steps to resolve any similar issues on the day from 2018, so they are reflected in the official results properly.

3.  For the purposes of calculating Runfurther points, Lee and Duncan will be given a time penalty of 7 minutes 9 seconds.  This means that all male runners who finished the Long Tour of Bradwell will gain a few more points, but not as many as if we had “disqualified” Lee and Duncan, i.e. if we had awarded Ken 1000 points.

4.  The time of 7 minutes 9 seconds is arbitrary in terms of predicting how much longer it would have take Lee and Duncan to find the control had they persevered, but it is very relevant to the Runfurther Championship.  Neither Ken nor Kevin is running the 11th race of the Championship, but they are both running in the 12th: the White Rose 30.  The time of 7 minutes 9 seconds means that we finish the season with a head to head race between them. If Kevin gets exactly 929 points & beats Ken in the race, there’s a tie in the Championship.  If Kevin gets at least 930 points and beats Ken in the race, Kevin wins the championship. Otherwise Ken wins.  Both Ken and Kevin are happy with this arrangement.

Round Rotherham 50 2017 – updated 23 Oct (Nick’s photos)

The Race

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Saturday saw the last of the Long Runfurther races for 2017, and the 10th race of the year.  Round Rotherham is loved by many, and dreaded by some.  At least there was warm weather this time.  Karen’s race report is on her blog here, and the results are up on SportIdent here.  Nick’s photos are here. First home was our own Ken Sutor (Cheshire Hash House Harriers) in 7:01:13, with last year’s winner Kevin Hoult (Calder Valley FR) unable to keep up: he finished 2nd in 7:20:35, 50 minutes slower than last year.  3rd was Kevin Doyle (Kimberworth Striders) in 7:32:22 – he was 2nd last year.  First woman home was Elly Woodhead (also Kimberworth Striders), 17th overall in 9:18:38.  2nd woman was Karen Nash in 9:21:00, and 3rd was Sharon Gayter (N York Moors AC) in 9:25:02.  169 finished, which I think was slightly down on last year.

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Runfurther Standings

There are 2 races to go now:  the Jedburgh Ultra and the White Rose Ultra.  Jedburgh has been full for a while, and the entry list is available online.  The White Rose Ultra is still open for entries.  So, assuming that nobody else can get themselves on the Jedburgh entry list, I’ve done a bit of analysis trying to predict who’s going to win what…

The women

I’ve started with the women’s competition because it’s a bit simpler than the men’s.  Nobody can catch Karen Nash now, and of course she’s top FV50 as well at first overall.  Sarah Smith is currently second, and the only runners who can catch her are Charlotte Smith and Debbie Cooper.  Charlotte’s chance is a theoretical one only: she would need an unbelievable result at the White Rose Ultra to catch Sarah.  Debbie on the other hand only needs to run her usual race at Jedburgh and she’ll have that 2nd place in the bag.  Nobody else can catch Sarah for 3rd place though, and she’ll be 2nd FV50 whatever happens.  4th and 5th places overall depend on who runs the White Rose Ultra.  Katherine Rogers is currently 4th, but there are a few runners who could bump her out of the top 5 (or Debbie if she doesn’t finish at Jedburgh).

The men

The first two places in the men’s competition will go to Kevin Hoult and Ken Sutor.  The only question is which of them will win: Kevin is currently 5 points ahead of Ken.  Neither of them has entered Jedburgh, but of course either or both could run the White Rose Ultra.  In practice if either runs they just need to make sure the other doesn’t finish ahead of them.  Unfortunately all this is a bit clouded by events at the Long Tour of Bradwell.  The Runfurther points are based on the official results of the races, and Ken finished 3rd in that race, giving him 928 Runfurther points.  It has recently emerged that the two runners who finished ahead of Ken failed to record a time at CP14 in that race – a control that is difficult to locate.  If they didn’t visit that control, then the race rules state they should be disqualified.  On the other hand the race rules don’t state they must record a time successfully at each control.  All this is very unfortunate for Ken, but we can’t override the results of the race.  We can’t contact the two runners concerned, as they aren’t Runfurther members.  And of course we have no idea whether they visited the control or not.

Third place may well go to David Chetta, who is currently 3rd.  Stewart Bellamy or Daniel Page could catch him though, if they run well at the White Rose Ultra.  Other runners could theoretically come 3rd, but only if they ran much faster than they usually do.  The other main contender for a top 5 places is Adam Worrallo: Chris Davies could get there though, if he ran well at the White Rose 30.  Martin Terry is probably going to be 1st MV50, although Chris Davies could catch him with a very fast White Rose run.  If Peter Agnew runs the White Rose 30 he’ll probably be the 3rd  MV50.  If not, Kevin Smith will take the 3rd place, unless Alwyn Nixon runs the WR30 fast.  Chris Davies is confirmed as first MV60, Alwyn Nixon is 2nd, and Bob Nash 3rd.  Bob’s also first MV70, with Dick Scroop 2nd.  Barney Nikolich will be first under 25, provided he finishes at Jedburgh to get his 4th counter.

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Teams

Currently, Team Krypton is leading the team competition with 8201 points from 10 results, Calder Valley FR are 2nd with 7846 points from 9 results, and Mercia FR 3rd with 7678 from 9 results.  These are almost certainly going to be the top 3 teams.  My expectation is that CVFR will win, as Ian Symington has entered Jedburgh, and if he runs a decent race then that will bump Krypton down into 2nd place.

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Hardmoors 60 & 2017 Prizegiving/AGM – updated 20 Oct (link to Nick’s photos)

Runfurther 2017 Prizegiving & AGM

This year’s prizegiving venue has been organised – thanks Karen!  It will be on Saturday 4 November starting at 4:30 pm, at The New Inn, Manchester Rd, Marsden,  HD7 6EZ.  Sandwiches and chips have been booked too.  This is the same day as the last Runfurther race of the year – the White Rose Ultra.  Anyone planning to run the Shepherd’s Skyline fell race the same day instead ought to be able to make it to Marsden in time as well.  Please come along if you possibly can – we always have a good time, and the more the merrier.

Hardmoors 60

The results of the Hardmoors 60 are on the race website here.  I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.   Karen has written up her account (she was supporting Bob, not running), and you can find that on her blog here.  Ed Williams won overall in 10:06:20, Nick Green was 2nd in 10:14:01, and then there was a long wait for Richard Buckle, 3rd in 11:07:26.  First woman was Zoe Verrill, 13th overall in 12:06:12, 2nd woman was Heather Mochrie, 22nd in 12:56:03, and 3rd woman was Christine Waller in 12:59:00.  Martin Terry was 1st MV50, and Alwyn Nixon 1st MV60.  Bob Nash and Nick Ham are still on track for their Runfurther Grand Slams.  The photos here are from Karen’s blog: you can find Nick Ham’s photos on Flickr here.

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Barney Nikolich (left). I’m not sure who the other runner is.

Bob Nash

Bob Nash

 

Bob Nash again!

Bob Nash again!

Long Tour of Bradwell 2017 – updated 19 August

Approaching Hollins Cross

Approaching Hollins Cross

The race

By my reckoning this was the 9th running of the Long Tour of Bradwell, and in my view it’s one of the best ultras in the country – I’ll try to explain why I think so in my race report below.  Numbers were up this year, which was good news, with 106 finishers.  We started off in drizzle, but gradually the weather improved, and in the later stages we had some of the best weather you could hope for: clear, sunny, but not hot.  It was much wetter underfoot than usual though.  First home was Lee Kemp of Waverley Harriers, in 5:03:51, the fastest time since Stuart Walker ran 4:53:10 in 2013 ( when conditions were perfect for fast running).  Second was Duncan Coombs (Hunters Bog Trotters) in 5:06:26, and 3rd was our own Ken Sutor, winner in 2015 & 2016, in 5:27:23.  11th home in 6:23:12 was Anthony Bethell of Raidlight (1st MV50), and 12th was Barney Nikolich (first U23) 5 seconds behind – I guess they finished together, but they’re probably both daft enough to have  given it a sprint finish!  20 seconds behind them was Nicky Spinks (DPFR), first woman home again.  16th & 2nd woman was Hazel Farnell of Totley AC in 6:34:57, 19th & 3rd woman was Despina Berdeni, also of Totley.  In the absence of Chris Davies, Alwyn Nixon was first MV60 in 7:06:52.  Special mention for Hannah Thom (Keighley & Craven AC), first FU23 in 7:48:46.  Bob Nash & Dick Scroop (both MV70) set off an hour before everyone else (with official approval), and Bob’s time in the results is currently incorrect as a consequence.  He finished though.  Dick unfortunately had to retire as he didn’t think he’d finish in daylight.  Full results are on the race website here.

Barney Nikolich & Andy Robinson before the start

Barney Nikolich & Andy Robinson before the start

I’ve no idea whether Karen will have time to get anything up on her blog before she and Bob head off for the Pyrenees, but I suspect not.  Karen’s running the Grand Raid des Pyrenees (23-27 August) – good luck Karen!  Nick’s photos are up on Flickr, & as usual I’ve pinched some for this post.

Runfurther Championship standings

Karen Nash improved her points score at Bradwell, even though she had a pretty slow run by her own high standards.  Being realistic she can only be caught by Nicky Spinks this year for the women’s title.  Debbie Cooper will probably be second or third, assuming she finishes at Jedburgh.

Kevin Hoult, Ken Sutor and Rory Harris are the most obvious candidates for the men’s title.  They have all run 3 races, and Kevin is slightly ahead at the moment.  David Chetta has run 4 already, but can only win if none of the above 3 run a fourth race.  And he’s still got Stewart Bellamy and Daniel Page at his heels, with 3 races each and about the same points per race.

Chris Davies will be first MV60 again, and Alwyn Nixon will probably be second.  Martin Terry will probably be first MV50: he just needs to run a 4th race in any category.

Nick Ham and Bob Nash are both still in the running for a Grand Slam.

The full leaderboard is here – let me know if you spot any problems with it.  The usual issue is where someone’s name is spelt wrongly or differently in the race results from in the Runfurther membership record.  And occasionally there are two runners with the same name.  And sometimes I cock the spreadsheet up of course…

Andy Robinson & Ken Sutor, both looking pretty gormless

Andy Robinson & Ken Sutor, both looking pretty gormless.  Apologies for including 2 photos of me this time!

Andy’s race report

The control at the top of Cave Dale

The control at the top of Cave Dale

A bit of background first.  Last year I was attempting to run the Runfurther Grand Slam, as well as other ultras, and I bit off more than I could chew.  My legs started giving way on me during races, I started feeling faint while running, & nearly collapsed a couple of times.  I got to the point by the end of the summer that I was dreading the next race.  I had to stop for a while. I stopped training, and my last race was the Warrington Way Ultra last November.  Before last weekend I hadn’t run further than 7 miles in a day since November apart from a slow 33 miles in early May, and had run under 80 miles in total in 9 months.

The only event I had coming up was the Across Wales Walk on 2 September: a 45-mile walking event that I’ve run every year since 2007.  This year, because I’m not running much, I rashly committed to “doubling” the AWW, i.e. doing it in reverse unsupported through the night in order to arrive at the English/Welsh border at 5am to turn round and join the rest of the walkers and runners as they start.  My rationale was that since I didn’t have to worry about how fast I was going to run – it would be slow or a walk – then it was the obvious year to have a go at the double, which has been a traditional part of the AWW for many years.  Well, 2 September was creeping up on me, and I had to decide whether I was going to walk the whole thing or try to run some of it.  Early last week I decided to try to run part of it, and to get the first leg over in 12 hours.  That meant getting some running into my legs asap, so I ran 7 miles at my club training night on Wednesday, the first time for a couple of months, then decided to run the LTOB on the back of that intensive training programme.  I’d no idea whether I’d finish or not, but I was determined to give it my best shot.  It was never going to be fast!  My PB is 6:25, from 2013, and last year I took 7:56.  I though 9 hours was probably a reasonable target for 2017 in the circumstances.

We set off just after 9 from the grassy triangle in Bradwell.  It was drizzling: there had been showers for the previous couple of hours.  It wasn’t cold though, & unlike most of the runners I took my waterproof off before we started.  It’s a long slow climb at the start of the LTOB, and I knew I’d be getting warm enough.  As was to be expected I struggled up that hill, walking most of it, near the back of the field.  With the state of my fitness there was no point in pushing too hard and wrecking myself even earlier than I had to.  This meant I actually had enough left to do a bit of chatting to other runners – not something I usually have the breath for.  I suspect that’s when I first met Dan, although at that point I had no idea I’d be running most of the race with him.

The first climb is probably the least scenic of the whole race, but once you reach the control at the head of Cave Dale the beauty starts.  A grassy descent over the lip of a classic Peak limestone valley, which becomes deeper and rockier as you descend.  Steep sides, with the grass being perfect to run on, but the wet greasy limestone soon taking over.  This is treacherous stuff to run on, but the environment is brilliant, and the difficult stuff was soon over.  Out at the bottom and we were in the middle of Castleton at the first manned checkpoint.  OK, Castleton is busy with visitors and cars, but it’s a pretty village, and anyway in about 3 minutes we were out of it again, and jogging up the quiet tarmac lane leading to the climb over Hollins Cross to Edale.  Again the views here are great, with Mam Tor ahead on the left, and Back Tor ahead on the right.  Eventually we turned off the tarmac for the steep climb up to the col – 4 of us more or less together by this point, and from here I was with Dan the rest of the way to Bradwell.

When you get to Hollins Cross the view ahead is another classic, across the Edale valley to Kinder Scout.  The next climb up Ringing Roger is only too obvious ahead, looking even steeper than it really is, if that’s possible.  The run down to the valley is a bit technical to start with: a steep eroded path slanting down the hill.  It soon eases off though, and the rest of the way down is a great run.  A pleasant path across the valley fields and we were soon at the second manned checkpoint at Edale Church.  So far so good – I was feeling good still.  We headed off up the road to the field where the Edale Skyline race starts and started the long plod up Ringing Roger.  This is where Dan and I started talking: we didn’t really stop until we got to Bradwell.  Dan emigrated to British Columbia (Canada) 12 years ago and was back for a family visit.  It was his first LTOB and he was happy enough to rely on me for navigation and run at my speed.  As for me I was glad of the company.  I’ve always done most of my running alone, as I’m only really comfortable at my own pace rather than adapting to that of others.

We reached the summit plateau in more drizzle and then we had to get to the Druid’s Stone control.  This is the only bit of the LTOB I’ve never got right: I know where the stone is, but never find the best trod between the lower and upper paths on the ascent.  Usually I don’t find a trod at all and waste a lot of time and energy flailing in the heather.  I know there’s a trod somewhere near where you reach the lower path in the first place, but as usual there was nobody just in front to follow.  For once I did the sensible thing and followed the lower path along until we could see the Stone, and join the trod that descends from it: it may not be the optimal line, but it can’t be far off it.

One of the many good things about the design of the LTOB route is that although it climbs high in places, apart from Stanage Edge it doesn’t stay high. Your exposure to bad weather is thus limited.  So we headed back down into the valley we’d just left, on a great descent run, with the Back Tor/Lose Hill ridge looming large ahead.  That climb can be awful sometimes, particularly in hot weather, and I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Dan and I crossed the valley and took advantage of the new official drinks station at Backtor Farm: last year it was unofficial, the residents having taken pity on us poor runners in the hot weather.  That’s where the steep climb starts.  Dan and I were chatting so much we hardly noticed the climb, and I got to the ridge without even thinking I could be near it – thanks Dan!  Left turn, and we plugged up the rest of the climb to the summit of Lose Hill via the control on the stile (see Nick’s photo).

 

The ascent of Lose Hill

The ascent of Lose Hill: Karen Nash on the stile

There’s another great run down from Lose Hill to Hope, easy descent in meadows with great views.  We took on more water at the checkpoint and headed off towards Win Hill.  This bit’s OK on track and quiet road, but soon we were back in great scenery with the short steep climb up over the heathery shoulder of Win Hill.

 

Climbing to the shoulder of Win Hill

Climbing to the shoulder of Win Hill

The route soon heads into forestry plantation on a good path above Ladybower Reservoir to a control by the path, at which point you turn sharp right and descend to the dam.  The first time I ran the LTOB the control was almost invisible, as was the descent path, and I lost about 45  minutes here.  These days all the controls are well marked, and anyway I know where they all are!  We bombed down the descent track, overtaking a couple of other runners on the way.  Two minutes later and we were on the old railway line, with the weather now looking up.  I find railway tracks difficult to run on: too flat and monotonous for me.  Still, we soon reached the checkpoint, 40 minutes before the cut-off, and soon after that we were off across the fields to Bamford Mills, with the sun out (no sun in Nick’s photo: he was there a bit earlier).  My favourite control of all races is the one in the middle of the footbridge by the mills.

 

Bamford Mills

Bamford Mills

By now I was starting to tire, the lack of training meaning my legs weren’t really capable of much more, particularly uphill.  We overtook Dick Scroop along Hurstclough Lane, then for the first time other runners overtook us, on the climb to Stanage Edge.  I had to take it easy along the Edge, with the risk of tripping being pretty high given the state of my legs.  It’s such a beautiful area though, both the immediate surroundings and the wider views.  The climbers were out as well, although I’m sure there are fewer than there were in my climbing days.

 

The climb to Stanage Edge

The climb to Stanage Edge

 

I’m always greatly relieved to reach the checkpoint at Upper Burbage Bridge.  It’s the end of the difficult footwork, you’ve finished the big climbs, and you’ve finished the high moors.  We ran happily along the Burbage Boulders track down to the Toad’s Mouth, taking the log way round to avoid the boggy bit approaching the road, since we still had dry feet.  The next bit is always enjoyable, as long as you know the way.  A pretty descent along the valley among the daytrippers, then the trod along the top edge of a wood to the next control.  The descent from here to the valley through the wood on Bole Hill could be a nightmare if not waymarked, but is a delight with the race markers there.

Descending Bole Hill

Descending Bole Hill

 

The run up the Derwent valley to Leadmill Bridge should be easy, but I think I’ve only ever run it all the way once.  It’s flat, it’s easy underfoot, but I’m always absolutely knackered by this point, and I’m usually reduced to walking some of it.  This time was no different.  Dan was clearly a stronger runner than me on the day, but he too was past running the whole way.  Still, I was actually feeling better than I had been last year at the point.  As usual I took a short rest on one of the marshals’ chairs at the checkpoint, but this year it was only a very short rest.  The it was off up the road for the last 4 miles: 4 miles that always feels like about 8.

Again this is a very pretty part of the Peak District.  And it’s yet another type of scenery: following a wooded stream, sometimes above the stream, sometimes along it, sometimes in the trees, sometimes above them.  Like so much of the route, it’s somewhere you’d like to linger, but of course there’s no time.  We reached the last control, by the footbridge, then passed Bob Nash, who had made pretty good time – I’d expected to have passed him a bit earlier.  We walked through Abney, then chatted our way up the last climb.  Once again the climb seemed much easier than usual thanks to Dan’s company.  We staggered round the track at the top, across the two fields and headed down to Bradwell through the gorse.

The final descent into Bradwell

The final descent into Bradwell

We finished in 8:33, 36 minutes slower than my time last year, when I was supposedly a lot fitter.  I was in a much better state than I finished in last year.  And I enjoyed it so much more.  Thanks for your company and support, Dan!  The Long Tour of Bradwell is such a great race.  It’s organised very well, but in my view the key reasons its such a great race are:

(1) It’s very challenging.  There’s a lot of climbing, and some of it is difficult underfoot.

(2) It’s designed for a good run.  The difficult sections don’t go on for too long.  The hard climbs aren’t too near the end of the race.  There’s such a lot of runnable ground.

(3) It’s so varied, with so many different running environments.  Limestone valley, hill climbs, gritstone edge, summit ridge, river bank, hill stream, woodland, forestry, wooded railway bed, tracks, trods.  Everything the Peak has to offer is included.

(4) The views are just amazing.

I’ll be back, for as long as I can keep running.

Pennine 39 2017 – updated 12 July

The Race

Read Chris Davies’s race report below for a good feel for what this race was about.  This is a low-key event for connoisseurs, with 39 finishers this year.  First in to Alston was new member Rory Harris in 6:06, second was David Chetta in 6:12, and 3rd was Chris Davies in 6:18 – Chris was first MV40, first MV50 and first MV60!  All three are Runfurther members, as were half the runners in the race.  First woman was Karen Nash once again, 9th overall in 7:28.  2nd woman was Kasia Osipowicz 7 minutes behind Karen, with Catherine Farrow 3rd in 7:54. Nick Ham’s photos are here.

Full race results:

Rory Harris 6:06 M
David Chetta 6:12 M
Chris Davies 6:18 MV60
Mick McKenna 6:22 MV60
Peter Agnew 6:45 MV50
Steve Rivers 7:18 MV40
Richard Wells 7:24 MV40
Jonothan Wright 7:24 MV40
Karen Nash 7:28 FV50
Kasia Osipowicz 7:35 F
Oliver Hazel 7:50 M
Catherine Farrow 7:54 FV40
Geoff Osbaldestin 7:54 MV40
Kevin Smith 7:56 MV50
Louise Staples 7:56 FV40
Ian Heywood 8:07 MV50
Peter Foulds 8:10 M
Robert Gittins 8:16 MV50
Nick Ham 8:18 MV50
Lucy Colquhoun 8:27  F
Rob Kelman 8:50 MV40
Andy Skelhorn 8:50 MV50
Paul Feasey 8:54 MV50
Charlotte Smith 9:01 FV40
Barbara Clayton 9:09 FV40
Mark Clayton 9:09 MV40
Ian France 9:12 MV50
Stuart Clarkson 9:24 MV40
Michael Cottam 9:28 MV50
Richard Townsend 9:48 MV50
Alan Dick 9:53 MV50
Carmen Elphick 9:54 FV40
Tim Jackson 9:56 MV50
Simon Caldwell 10:04 V40
Caroline Cable 10:29 FV50
Richard Fish 10:29 MV40
Robert Nash 10:29 MV70
Katherine Rogers 10:52 FV40
Peter Sowerby 10:52 MV50

Chris Davies’s Race Report

All photos by Karen Nash except for the one of Karen, which is Joe Faulkner’s.

Nav4 Pennine 39
If you’ve never seen it before it must be quite something to approach High Cup Nick from the east.  Running the Pennine 39 you would have had the chance to appreciate the beauty of Upper Teesdale for a couple of hours, and perhaps you might have been wondering why there was a big space ahead where there used to be hills, and then suddenly that amazing U-shaped valley with its frame of rocky edges would have dropped away in front of you, opening up a huge view to leave you looking down and across the Eden plain to the Lake District mountains in the distance.   Only a minute or two to glance at it sideways though, then you’re making your way around the northern edge to find the path down to Dufton.

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Pennine 39?  It’s certainly an accurate description of the number of runners taking part, with 14 Runfurther competitors amongst them, although in terms of mileage some would say that Pennine 36.5 would be closer to the truth.  But in bright weather and temperatures that were for the most part warm but not oppressively so, aided by a bit of breeze that cooled nicely, it was a lovely day for a run in spectacular scenery (it might be closer to P40 next year- Joe has ideas).

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And what a very relaxed race.  The coach picked up the competitors at 8.15am and ferried us south to the start, giving a fine taste of the views for the day ahead.

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An hour and a bit later, after crossing the Low Force footbridge over the Tees one person at a time, we were off – perhaps too fast for the organiser at the first checkpoint who missed the first half dozen runners before setting up shop.

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Mind you, it was best still be fresh when you reached the second checkpoint at Dufton because most of the 5,240 feet of climbing lay ahead, with maybe two or three hours of relatively gentle ascent to follow before reaching the highest point on the Pennine Way at Cross Fell (2,930’).
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Summiting that should have meant the worst was over, but I suspect that some tired runners turning corners on the stony track that followed, each time seeing it stretch out interminably into the distance, may have started to wonder whether they had been singled out for special punishment.
Others may have found the final three miles surprisingly hard.  The riverside footpath from the village of Garrigill to Alston is often beautiful, and frequently shaded by trees, but the frequency of the stiles is hard upon cramping legs and makes it difficult to establish a rhythm.
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But soon enough the Runfurther flags will have come into view, with drinks and soup at the Alston youth hostel immediately available, and a good meal and evening to follow for all who stayed the night.
As for the race, Rory Harris kept David Chetta company from High Cup Nick before pushing ahead five miles from the finish to open a gap of six minutes and win in 6 hours 6 minutes.  For a while these ‘youngsters’ had to keep a wary eye on Chris Davies and Mick McKenna, two vet60 ‘oldsters’ chasing them, but they never faced real challenge.  Chris finished in 6-18 with Mick four minutes behind, and vet50 Peter Agnew, who led until going wrong at the missing first checkpoint, clambering up the youth hostel steps in 6-45. (awesome run from Chris)
There are navigation errors in fell races, and then there are navigation errors.  Lucy Colquhoun had moved into fourth place by the top of Cross Fell but mistook the path down and ended up in Kirkland.  Retracing her steps cost her a whole two hours on what surely would otherwise have been a fine time. That left Kasia Osipowicz and a bruised and battered Karen Nash (having fallen on rocks) battling it out for the women’s top place, with Karen finally taking the lead at the 30 miles mark to finish seven minutes ahead in 7-28.
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Nick Ham finished happy with a PB in 8-18, and he and vet70 Bob Nash (10-29) are still in the race to complete the Runfurther grand slam.
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Chris Davies

Runfurther Standings

Karen’s now got maximum points in 3 races, & I’d expect her to improve her points score still further in one of the two remaining Short races – nobody’s going to catch her now.  I’m expecting Debbie Cooper to finish as 2nd woman, but she has to finish at Jedburgh to do that, so we won’t be sure until the end of October.  Charlotte Smith has already got 4 counters, and may well end up 3rd, but she can be caught.

The men’s side is a lot less clear.  Kevin Hoult looks most likely to win, but there are plenty of contenders for 2nd place, and I’m not going to try to guess.  Chris Davies will be first MV60 again – he’s got a good chance of first MV50 as well, as it;s looking pretty close between him and Martin Terry this year.

As for the teams, it’s always hard to call this early in the calendar.  My money’s on Calder Valley pipping Mercia this year though.  Next race is the Long Tour of Bradwell on 12 August – a great race!

South Wales 50 & 100 2017

The Race

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The results are up here, and I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and that’s here.  Karen has written up her 100, and you can find that here.  I’ve pinched pictures from that.  Nick’s photos of his 50 are here.  I’ve pinched some of Nick’s pictures too.

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Jack Galloway of Poole AC won the 100, in 24:24:05, with Jacob Hayes of Bitton Road Runners half an hour behind Jack.  First Runfurther runner was David Chetta (Mercia FR), 3 hours off the pace.  First woman home was Karen Nash, finishing 5th with Giles Humphreys-Evans in 32:26:10.  2nd woman was Tracy Edwards in 37:49:06, and 3rd was Fiona Davies in 39:47:41, 23rd of the 24 finishers.  Congratulations to everyone who finished: it was always going to be a really hard race.
Jack Galloway at the last checkpoint

Jack Galloway at the last checkpoint

The 50 was won by Matt O’Keefe in 10:50:12, with 3 runners finishing together 24 minute later: Francois Gilbert, Dean Oldfield & Stephen Marts.  5th was first woman Emma Williams in 12:27:08, finishing with Martin Terry.  2nd woman Callissa Caffull finished an hour later in 7th, and 8th equal were Debbie Cooper and Daryl Bentley, quarter of an hour after Callissa.  There were 51 finishers.
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Runfurther Standings

The Runfurther points have been calculated based on the fastest man and woman in the each race, i.e. if you ran the 50, your points are based on the fastest time for your sex in the 50.

It looks like Karen Nash is well on the way to winning the women’s championship again.  Debbie Cooper is currently second, and could stay there, but there are plenty of faster women running ultras, so she may be caught.  David Chetta is currently first man, but once Kevin Hoult has run a fourth race he will take over the lead and has every chance of staying there.  Unless someone else even faster appears out of the woodwork to challenge him of course – there are plenty of races left.  Martin Terry is best bet for MV50 again and of course Chris Davies is a shoe-in for MV60.

Bob Nash and Nick Ham are both still on-course for Grand Slams – Nick’s managed to get a place for Jedburgh OK now, given the circumstances!  Thanks Noanie!

Northants Ultra 2017 updated 12 June

Daryl Bentley has written up his race, and you can read his blog here.  Nick Ham has now posted his photos, so I’ve borrowed a couple for this report, and you can find the rest on Flickr here.

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The race results are up on the race website here.  Norbert Mihalik (Northampton Road Runners) won by miles in 4:25:26, with Jon Taylor (Rugby & Northampton AC) nearly 20 minutes adrift in 4:44:33.  Rory Harris was 3rd in 4:47:03.  First woman was Melissa Arkinstall in 22nd position overall, in 5:48:01.  Helen Etherington (Wellingborough & District AC) finished next in 5:50:15, and 3rd woman, 31st overall, was Nicky Haynes (Alchester AC) in 5:59:53.

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, and you can find that here, as usual.  Not much has changed, as not many Runfurther regulars ran Northants this year.  Nick Ham and Bob Nash are both still on course for the Grand Slam of all 12 races.  I’ve put up Bob Nash’s report on his Fellsman run as well, and you can find that here.

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Next race is the South Wales 50/100 on 23/24 June – good luck if you’re running it – I think you’ll need it!  Congratulations to Ken Sutor on his great 4th place in the Dragon’s Back Race – click on the link for the full results.