Sponsors for the 2017 Series:

Hardmoors 60 & 2017 Prizegiving/AGM

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

I’m still waiting for the results of the Hardmoors 60 to be posted, and as soon as I get them I’ll update this post.  In the meantime, Karen has already written up her account (she was supporting Bob, not running), and you can find that on her blog here.  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: I’ll add some of Nick’s once he’s posted them.

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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.

The Fellsman 2017 (updated 6 June)

Karen picked up a lot of new members at the Fellsman – welcome to all of you.  I’m still not running, so I wasn’t there.  Karen was there, but she was marshalling – she wasn’t running as she was saving herself for the Hardmoors 200, which started in Hull just a few days later (5 May).  How she got on I don’t yet know, but I assume she finished.  You can find the Fellsman results on the event website here.  Karen’s marshalling report is on her blog, and I’ve copied it here too – see below.  Bob Nash wrote up his run, and you can find his report here.  Nick’s photos are here.  If anyone knows of other reports & photos please contact me (Andy) & I’ll add a link to them.  Karen’s also written up her epic Hardmoors 200 run, and you can find that here.

First home was Chris Perry in 11:21, then three runners finished together in 11:56: Kevin Hoult, Simon Bourne and Stewart Bellamy – all three Runfurther members.  34th overall, and first woman in 14:45 was Emma Hopkinson.  2nd woman was Sharon McDonald in 15:33, with Josie Greenhalgh 3rd in 15:57.

The Runfurther leaderboard’s been updated, and is here.  I’ve updated it now to reflect the corrected Fellsman times (there were errors in the results initially).  It’s still a bit early to try to pick this year’s Runfurther winners, but Kevin Hoult’s looking very strong again, and there’s no obvious challenger to Karen Nash appearing yet.  Josie Greenhalgh could get close though, if she improves as the season goes on.

Dick Scroop couldn’t run due to injury, so that leaves just two in the running for the Grand Slam: both Nick Ham and Bob Nash finished OK, and have run all four races so far.  Bob finished in 25:02, knocking 2:37 off his time last year.

I’ll add more once I’ve got it.  If anyone knows Paul Swindles, Sam Blanshard or Ian Hodge, get them to fill in a Runfurther membership form – they’ve already run 3 counters but they’re not members yet.

Karen’s marshalling report

The Fellsman, but not as a runner

I had entered this event as it was number 4 in the Runfurther series this year. It’s a favourite of mine as I love the route, the nav, the toughness the weather and the overnight section often brings and also I love the whole Fellsman community. It never takes much of an excuse to go to the Dales for a couple of days and so we had also been and recceed a couple of sections too. Sometime in early April I was having doubts about running the Fellsman as it would only give me at most 5 days recovery before the Hardmoors200.  I tried to convince myself that it would be OK, that I could run the Fellsman slowly. The trouble was that would only give me 4 days recovery and when I mentioned doing it at a slow pace every single friend just laughed. Then I saw a plea for marshalls on facebook. I really struggled to decide but in the end head won over heart. I would help on Friday evening and marshall at Redshaw during the race. Nearer to the event this became even more the correct  decision as I picked up a dreadful cold and I spent some of the days in the run up to the event with a very sore throat and no voice.
Although it was very strange being at the event but not running it did present other opportunities.

On Friday evening I was able to offer to help with kit check, could put up the flags and banners for Runfurther with no stress and then spent the evening handing out Romneys mint cake and Runfurther membership postcards.

We gained 30 new members so the personal touch works.
The weather had been dry for weeks and the forecast was good. The ground would be as dry as it ever gets- I was jealous and expected some fast times. As it happens people were longing for some soft bog by half way and their feet were hammered. A lazy start to Saturday let me chat to Dave about Fell Track and also to make new friends. The marshalls at Redshaw would be a group of ‘all sorts’ and mostly strangers to each other. Chris Driver had set up a facebook group for us which meant we knew who to look out for so it was easy to meet up with Aimee. Her partner had got her involved and it was well outside her comfort zone but she was lively, funny and full of enthusiasm. The Dales were new to her and so I navigated her the back way to Redshaw through my favourite valley of Langstrothdale.

Before lunch time the Redshaw team was present and getting organised.

Mini crises elsewhere delayed getting equipment to us but we used initiative and soon had hot water for soup etc and food laid out ready for runners.

Alison the soup queen

We divided up the jobs and waited. The lovely weather meant we could be outside and admire the views as we watched the skyline back towards Great Knoutbury.

Leading man- Chris perry

Before long there was a trickle of lead runners followed by several hours of almost non stop small groups.

David Chetta

These were my friends and I really enjoyed being able to great them with a smile, encouragement and offers to refill water bottles etc.

A revived Chris Davies

There were lots of hugs and even kisses. Aimee started to wonder if there was anybody I didn’t know.

1st lady Emma Hopkinson

A couple of friends needed gentle bullying to eat, take a hot drink etc and I like to think it helped them on their way.

Mike and Barney- get back to Runfurther guys

I have a formula for working out when to expect Bob in a race and it worked to the minute on this day.

Steve Wilson
Josie and Albert doing well despite no Tony to nav
Nick always with his camera at the ready
 It is rare that I get to support him  and so all the more special to be able to hug him and encourage him on his way.
Bob

All this was doing nothing for my voice which had almost disappeared again but I did take lots of photos.

A supportive team

The updated Fell Track system was able to tell us how many runners we still had to expect. Long before our closing time this was single figures. We had all expected to camp at Redshaw but now it seemed sensible to pack up and even take down the tent. We waited until the runners were through Dodd Fell and then set to work. It seemed a long drive back in the dark but I was in the van on a comfy bed by 1.45am – a real bonus.
A decent sleep and I was up and about quite early and in plenty of time to sit in the hall chatting, to welcome Bob home in a massive PB and to enjoy the prize giving.

PB by 2 hours 37

My voice had almost gone but there was just enough left to ensure I won a prize! Dave Driver had made new Fell Track station using Raspberry Pie and had named them all pies. I knew ours at Redshaw was ‘Humble’. A lovely weekend and great to give something back for a change but I do hope I can run the event again next year. Now all I need to do is to complete the H200. Eek.

Lakes 42 2017

The Race

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Apologies for the delay in posting this, but I was away walking from Devon to South Wales, and only got back home last night.  Well, on to the race…  A sunny day and a great race by the looks of it, although I was busy packing for my week’s walking rather than running.  I’ll post a link to what I’m up to once I find the time to write it up.  I don’t think the race results are up anywhere yet, as I write this, but we’ve got them, and the Runfurther leaderboard has been updated.  Casper Sijpesteijn won in 7:29, Ken Sutor was 20 minutes behind him, with Jonny Muir just 3 minutes behind Ken in 7:52.  Karen Nash was 12th overall, and first woman in 9:19.  Linda Murgatroyd was 2nd woman in 10:29, and 3rd was Josie Greenhalgh in 10:44.  87 finished, with 8 DNFs.

Four runners have run all three races: Karen Nash, Nick Ham, Bob Nash and Dick Scroop.  I know Bob and Dick are aiming at the Grand Slam this year, and I know Karen isn’t, as she’s not running the Fellsman.  Why?  Because she’s running the Hardmoors 200 instead – good luck with that Karen!  Whether Nick’s got the Slam in mind I don’t know.

Nick Ham has posted 205 photos to Flickr.  I’ve borrowed a few, and the rest are on his site here.

There’s a committee meeting in Threshfield on the Friday before the Fellsman: all members are welcome, details here.

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Karen’s Race Report

This is all lifted from Karen’s blog, which you can find here.  The layout’s better on Karen’s blog too!  I’ve no idea why the copy & paste did what it did with the photos, & no time to work it out!  The photos are Karen’s.

Not  even mid April and this would be the third event in the Runfurther ultra series. I love Nav 4 events – low key, tough, great support and wonderful food afterwards. To top it all off the forecast was superb. Well before registration we were parked up with flags, banners and display boards erected and lazing with a cup of coffee in the sunshine.

Being asked to supervise the car park gave me an opportunity to chat to everyone as they arrived and also to sign up a few more for Runfurther.

Dick and Bob checking route choices

We ignored the temptation of two lovely village pubs and after a meal in the van and socialising in the hall we turned in for an early night.

Nick looking like he is expecting snow not sun

Our alarms went at 5am and as I struggled out of bed I spared a thought for friends driving up on the day and the even earlier start they would have. The dark was chilly but I knew it would be hot later and I opted for shorts. I wasn’t alone. To keep it quiet and allow the village to sleep we were herded in the hall until the last minute and then a hushed group assembled outside the Queen’s Head before being told to ‘Go’. Those arriving on the day had parked down by the river so I only had a hazy idea of who was running.

Nick, Dick, Charlotte, Aleks and the Mercia crew were there on Friday night but I met Linda, Elise, Sarah and then Albert, Josie and Mick on the start line.
I started very conservatively and as usual struggled on the first, gentle, uphill. Josie seemed to shoot off ahead and I made a determined effort to keep Linda in my sights. Before many minutes we were off the tarmac and out onto the common. A group of horses guarded the gate but they were friendly and only one runner seemed reluctant to pass through.

A toilet stop on the common let Linda and others get further ahead but I consoled myself that it would be a long day and with no prizes for being first up Loadpot Hill. I surprised myself and before the first CP I had caught many of those who had overtaken me. Albert stopped for a loo break too and this allowed me to catch Josie. They were having a ‘steady’ day showing Mike the route. Bizarrely I was now first lady. Hmm, not at all what I expected.

As we climbed steadily the mist over Ullswater was replaced by the sunrise over the Pennines and then fantastic views along Kidsty Pike and across the rest of the Lake District.

Helvellyn was a hard pull up but we were being encouraged by the front runners passing on their way down to The Knott.

Vandals had stolen the self clip on High Street so after a very quick search we shot off on the next section.

Back the way we have come

Turning and then arriving at The Knott and the lumpy ground en route to Angle Tarn brought even more amazing scenery into view.

I didn’t care about minutes wasted I just had to stop for photos.

I enjoyed this section and got some good lines on softer ground. On the smaller isthmus there was a tent and I suspect they were still in bed. Our needle punch was on the big boulder on the first isthmus.

The path from here to Boredale Hause was wonderful and Travs from the FRA forum introduced himself. I lost a little bit of time on the descent to Side Farm but not too much – thank god for dry rocks. Real food at the George Starkey hut perked me up and I grabbed what I wanted and set of jogging and eating. Being speedy through CPs and feed stations can save huge amounts of time over a day.

I caught two runners as we joined Grisedale Lane and then concentrated on sticking with them and even picking off those ahead. The views into Helvellyn continued to amaze us and made the climbing seem easier. It was warm now and very sunny but not too hot. Once above Grisedale Tarn the half dozen or so of us fanned out in all directions. Some stuck with the Raise Beck path but I am not a fan of those rocky steps. I had hoped to pick the easy way diagonally over Willy Wife Moor but got pulled a little too high and had to track back and then down the forest edge. It was still preferable for my feet to be on the soft ground. Tom and his van were a welcome sight at the Wythburn church car park. I stopped to drink and fill my water bottle and again grabbed cheese and savoury snacks to eat as I climbed. I decided to ignore the OCT line and stick with the tourist path.

It was the right decision and armed with food and the camaraderie of a young guy from the NE I seemed to power up the tourist path. Then I spotted David up ahead. I had run with him for some of the Fellsman and was pleased to catch him as I had not seen him since Loadpot Hill.

 

 

 

Spot the line of runners

I used him to ‘tow’ me up to the trig point on Helvellyn and then along the ridge , down and up to Whiteside.

David climbing up from Wythburn. Photo John Bamber

It was busy on the tops and yet more and more stunning views kept appearing. The path down starts well and then as it swoops in zig zags there are some wonderful grassy short cuts. Out of water and thirsty I was pleased to find a stream and fill my bottle.

The main valley path was stony and my feet started to suffer. I tried to stick to the verges but then they ran out.

All the others stuck to the lane but I turned right into the fields and across to the campsite to give my feet a rest.

We all arrived at the road together so there wasn’t much in it. The CP at GS Hut was our last chance to refuel so I stopped for melon, oranges and then grabbed more cheese and savouries for the climb. I had not set plan for Place Fell but now knew I would stick to the path most of the way to Boredale Hause – it’s further but easier. I don’t think I could have climbed, breathed and eaten on the direct ascent!

Part way up Place Fell I found a dejected Andy Ford – a bad stomach meaning no energy had floored him. I tried to encourage him and he did stand up to try again. The Trig point is quite a pinnacle and I had to almost fight my way through tourists to the needle punch but I had beaten those on the direct route. I had now stopped taking photos and was clearly in race mode because I took clever lines from here to Martindale church and overtook another two runners. My foot wasn’t happy with the steep drop to Howtown but I pushed on, found water and concentrated on picking off the miles. I had a list of CPs and miles which when I checked suddenly showed me there were under 6 miles left and I was way up on time compared to the only other time I had done this race. This boosted my spirits even more and off I trotted doing mental maths and working out how good the PB could be. Arriving back on the common I could see a runner some distance ahead. They too were running most of it but slowing to a walk every now and again. By the cockpit I knew I was gaining so I pushed harder. From the fell gate it must be less than a mile. The verge was great, the rocky lane hell and then the tarmac meant the end was close. I didn’t quite catch Matt Neale but spotting him had pulled me along.

I was so chuffed to finish. Shattered but a PB by almost 75 minutes. Time for lots of carrot and coriander soup, real bread, countless cups of tea and cake. I couldn’t get the shower to work but Jill gave my a bucket of boiling water and the use of the disabled toilet room. Clean and changed I settled to more food and then moved to the sunshine outside the pub with a well deserved pint of Wainwright. I spent a very lazy evening chatting and waiting for Bob. I did think about walking to meet him but my legs were tired and I had no real idea of when to expect him. He arrived, with Charlotte after about 15 hours, and happy that the Grand Slam is still on.

Dick arrived much later having gone awol and then struggling with a nasty path and navigation issues.

But he did get a right royal welcome and a beer.

What a great event, organising team, wonderful Off The Grid catering and such superb blue sky weather. One to remember.

Calderdale Hike 2017

First a photo from Nick:

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The Calderdale Hike results are here.  I’ve added them in to the Runfurther leaderboard already, and you can find that here.  Let me know if you spot any problems with it – I’ve already had to change it twice!  I’ll be updating it again once the Lakes 42 results are out, but as I’m away for a week from Monday 10 April, if I haven’t got the results by the end of Sunday you’ll have to wait for the Runfurther update.  Nick has posted his race report and his photos  and you can find them here and here  respectively.  I’m still not running so I wasn’t at the Hike.  Karen’s posted her blog though, and I’ve repeated it here.  The photos in Karen’s report are Karen’s, the others are Nick’s, including this cheeky one:

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Kevin Hoult was first home in 5:04, with Ian Symington four minutes behind him.  There was then a long wait for John Bottomley who finished in 5:47.  First woman was Nicky Spinks, 9th overall in 6:27, with Karen Nash 19th in 7:14 and Carol Morgan 24th in 7:45.  Early days yet, but last year’s overall winners Kevin Hoult and Karen Nash are leaders at the moment.

Just got this done in time before the next race…

Karen’s race report

This race might be unique? Every three years the route changes. This adds some navigational challenge and for those of us living close enough it also gives some wonderful opportunities for scouring maps, searching out best routes and then putting them to the test. providing you arrive at each CP and stick to legal rights of way then the route is your choice. This has provided hours of fun.
In some ways the event is like a LDWA event with walkers, long cut offs and masses of food (especially at the end).

An easy place for flags, banners etc

We arrived the evening before as usual to be ready very early to put up flags, banners etc for the first walkers registering at 6am. The long runners were not due off until 9am so this gave me lots of time for breakfast, chats and general faffing. The forecast was mixed with the possibility of some heavy showers. I had woken with an upset stomach but felt fine now. I knew where I was going; I thought. Then after a chat with Kevin I found there was an alternative route between CP1 and CP2. I now know there was an alternative between the last two CPs too. April is going to be busy but I wasn’t worried and was happy to race. It started well and the ‘new’ section from Kevin was good and runnable but as it was further and had a bit of climb I made myself run hard to get the benefit. Before CP 3 at Ryeburn Reservoir I knew it was too fast for me and I would not sustain 6mph. I did not run hard on Blackwood Edge and should have been able to go faster here. I promised myself that once I cut down to the goyt I would try harder. I opted for the main road and M62 junction next and although this isn’t very pleasant it did gain me several places. Turning back north from Windy Hill the promised rain arrived. I tried to pretend it wasn’t much but by the time I had crossed the M62 footbridge it was quite heavy. Time to stop and put a cag on. I cut up to the south end of Blackstone Edge and then dropped down to the ‘drain’. This saves some climb and is a nice flat running path unlike the rocks, mud and jumble along the top. Again I gained time and places on the way to the CP at The White House. Trail shoes were good on the lanes and rough tracks but they made me a bit cautious on the mud. The next bit is confusing if you have not run it before and one fence makes it look impossible. I met Carol and friend at the mill and showed them the way by the side of the fence and down to Sladen Fold. I had already decided that this year I would not visit the wind turbines (although the new road is now quite good) and instead I was sticking to the canal and heading north. I wasn’t running fast but three guys on the road running parallel to me spurred me on. As I turned up Ramsden Wood Road I lost sight of them until I emerged from the short steep woods and could see them heading up the valley. My route was now all on track and lane. I would have liked to have run  it faster but I plodded on and reached the CP before the team of three. Then heading up to Trough Edge End I spotted Bob up ahead almost on the skyline. This gave me another reason to push harder. I caught him before the Limers Gate track and we had a brief chat. My right glute, hip and quad were now suffering from the pace but at least this section was easy running. The team of three and I arrived at the Slate Pit Hill CP together. I grabbed food and walked on. They got ahead in the muddy mountain bike area but we climbed from Cornholme to Mount Cross together. The rain had now cleared for good so cags were stowed. They then powered off and I hit a low point. Oh dear, only 25 miles in and I was struggling. I watched them pull ahead and pottered on to Cross Stones and the golf course. I was now alone and found it hard to make myself run harder. I was eating plenty I thought but just couldn’t do better. It was a slow flog up to the church at Lumbutts where I filled my water bottle and had a sandwich. At Mankinholes I realised that my right foot was becoming and issue. Sitting in the middle of a muddy path and taking off my dry sock got some funny looks from passing walkers. Fortunately nobody was around when massaging my foot in the belief it would help brought on massive cramps in my toes and arch! Along London Road (a big track) I was able to pick off walkers from the shorter route and this gave me mini targets to aim for. Plus my foot recovered now it had a bit more room in the shoe. After Errington Grange only about 5 miles remains but there is a big valley in the way. I set off for Hoo Hole and the road to Cragg Vale.

The winners strava not mine- same til the end, just slower

This is where, I later found out, the leading men dropped to better running. I was totally alone as I climbed steeply to Nab End quarries and the last CP. I forced a gel down, ignored the fact that two years ago I had finished by now and made a determined effort to run (albeit slowly) all the way to the finish. With just a minor altercation with a bus on a narrow lane I was back in Sowerby and soon passing the church and heading up the path to the cricket club door.

Thanks to our sponsors

7hrs 14 was a PW for this route and for all 9 runs I had done here but I was surprisingly still second lady. Nicky was an hour or so ahead of me. Chris  had been back long enough to get clean, change and put a Runfurther postcard on every car in the car park. Kevin had won in 5hrs 10 with Ian not far behind in second.

Nick and Nigel chatting in the late afternoon sun

No results up yet but Nick, Bob and Dick all finished OK.

I might add more photos from Nick later

Next year of course it will all change again; in fact rumour has it that there are special plans for next year as it is the 40th anniversary. I hope to be back as I love the event, organisers/ volunteers and the challenge of a new route.

Haworth Hobble 2017

Well, since I wasn’t there this year, Karen Nash has written most of this report – I’ve just done a bit of editing here and there.  The race results are here, and the Runfurther leaderboard is here.  Nick Ham’s photos are here, and the ones on this page are Nick’s too.  Nick’s written up his blog too, and you can find that here.  SportSunday were there as well, and you can find their photos here.  So, over to Karen…

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It was a full race this year with no entry on the day, possibly a first for the Hobble.  This was partly due to the race being used as the British Trial for IAU World Trail Championships. This meant there were many new faces and names in the results that some of us did not recognise.

The field was superb this year. I think 6 men broke the record and 8 finished in under 4 hours. Tom Payn of Mercia won in 3:54:18 and then Gareth Hughes, Matt Roberts and Kyle Greig all in 3:55.  The first Runfurther runners were Ken Sutor in 4:12 and Kevin Hoult in 4:16. First woman was Julie Briscoe in 4:31 and then Sally Fawcett 4:38 and Katie Kaars Sijpestaijn 4:39. (I am not sure if the female record was broken but think it was). It was a great start to the Runfurther season and a few new members joined up too.

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As usual for me the day started early. Having slept in the van on site we were up at 6am putting up flags and banners before moving inside and putting up display boards and giving  Brett the Romneys Mint Cake to hand out at registration. It was dry and mild so things were looking good. The bumper entry meant we were a little late starting and the crush of runners meant many were not herded back downhill to the start line at the Fleece.  I had chatted to some of the ‘elite’ before the start and that would be the last I saw of them, except in the distance as we climbed to Withins ruin.
I was determined not to race too hard and to practice a sensible pace for the long race I have in May. It didn’t work. Despite my efforts the first couple of hours showed 6mph+ pace. Oops.  It felt fine at the time but I paid for it later. I had also opted for grip not cushioning in anticipation of mud. Again, it did not work out. I would have been better with more cushioning.
The first miles to Bronte Bridge passed very quickly and I was surprised to queue less than usual at the first gate. By Withins we were quite spread out and although I lost places being a softie on the flagstone descent I felt fine. By Widdop I knew I was pushing too hard and backed off a bit – after running to look good for the SportSunday cameras that is. Before Long Causeway my glute was troubling me and I was cursing my early pace and the hard sprinting of Wednesday night. My pace dropped here and I let those I was running with move ahead. The CP at Stoney Lane was a welcome sight and I grabbed a hot dog and a piece of pork pie. It must have helped because I ran on a bit refreshed to Todmorden (or was it just that it was mainly downhill?). A shock awaited me at Mankinholes as there were no doughnuts! I took a cheese and onion pie instead.  The climb up to Stoodley Pike was as tough as always.

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The dry weather meant there was quite a crowd at the top ready to cheer runners on. I had eaten plenty but by the time I reached the woods I was suffering. My glute was very sore and now my foot was complaining too. Ironically the climb to Heptonstall didn’t seem too bad as the uphill helped my foot and not running much relaxed my glute.  My joy didn’t last though, and the climb up Crimsworth Dean was a real low point. I ran much less than usual of this section and the pain in my foot was intense. I hobbled on the best I could but in a very negative frame of mind.  At this stage a Personal Worst was a cert and even 6 hours looked a big ask. The last CP and Lane Head means only 4 miles to go. Apologies to those around me at this point who thought they were running with a nutter. A severe talking to myself: Man Up, get on with it, don’t be such a wimp etc etc and I set off up the lane. My Garmin battery had died but near the Top o’ Stair it occurred to me that we had not started at 8am so perhaps if I really tried I could still finish in under 6 hours.  So it was run, jog, walk intervals all the way up the lane and over Penistone Hill.  Not pretty and a PW by 5 mins but I finished in 5hrs 53.  I wasn’t happy with it but hey ho… and then I found that despite all this I was first FV50 so perhaps it wasn’t too bad. After several cups of tea, pasta and stew and a doughnut or two I was feeling better, and just about ready for the Runfurther committee meeting.

Next race:  Calderdale Hike on 1 April (seriously…).  See you there!

January 2017 News

Happy New Year to you all.  Sorry for the delay in updating the website for 2017, but it should all be there now, including an updated Ultra Calendar, with all the 2017 off-road ultras in the UK I could find (except the ones that go round and round in circles).  Let me (Andy) know if you come across one I’ve missed.

You need to get entering races if you want to run them.  Ultras are becoming more popular every year, and although there are more races every year, many of them fill up ages in advance.  If you want to run the Lakes 42 (8 April), you need to get your name on the waiting list straight away, as it’s already full, and the waiting list will fill too at some point.  The Hardmoors 60 (16 September) is also filling fast, even this far ahead.  I’ve no idea how fast some of the others are filling up, but better to be safe than sorry.  The event I organise filled up in just 10 hours, with many runners getting straight in there at midnight on 1 December when we opened for entries.

Get training – you’ve got a lot of running to do!

Andy