Sponsors for the 2018 Series:








 

Hardmoors 60 2018 – updated 19 September

The race

I hope everyone had a good time at the seaside.  There were 189 finishers in the race, with 17 DNFs.  Ken Sutor made sure of his 2018 Runfurther win by winning the race in 9:20:12, with Rory Harris second in 9:33:40, and Robert Barnes third in 9:50:51.  First woman home was Claire Howard in 11:29:52, second was Daisy Jackson in 12:11:30, and Rachel Ross Russell was third in 12:20:27.  The full race results are up on the Hardmoors website.

Ken Sutor has written a short race report, and you can read that at the end of this post.

Sport Sunday were there taking photos, and you can find them here and here.

Here’s a link to Mick Browne’s Youtube video of his race.  And here’s a link to the video Karsten Spaans took of the runners climbing Highcliffe Nab.  We’ve no photos from Nick Ham this time, as he wasn’t fit for running this time.  Other than these two videos I’ve no more information about the race other than Ken’s report and the results.  If you’ve got photos or the time to write a race report then please email them to me, or a link if they’re already up on the web.

Runfurther results

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated as well.  With just the Round Rotherham 50 remaining, this year’s winners are now becoming clearer.  Ken Sutor’s won the men’s championship with 3997 points, though if he wins at Rotherham as well, he’ll have the maximum of 4000 points.  He’s won three of his four counters (Haworth, Pennine 39, Hardmoors 60), and was only a minute behind the winner at Calderdale.  That winner at Calderdale was Rory Harris, and by finishing second in the Hardmoors 60, he’s ensured second place in the Runfurther men’s championship too.  David Chetta was 8th in the race, and that was enough to secure him 3rd place in Runfurther – again he can’t be caught.

Karen Nash had already won the women’s championship.  Debbie Cooper is currently second but Carol Morgan, Fiona Lynch and Sarah Challans would probably all overtake her if they were to run at Rotherham.  None of them have entered Rotherham yet though (as of 18 September).  Janet Hill is currently the third woman to have run four counters.

Kevin Smith is currently first MV50 but Martin Terry is bound to overtake him assuming he finishes at Rotherham – he has entered.  Albert Sunter and Mike Burke could also overtake Kevin, although neither has entered Rotherham as yet.  If neither of them run, third MV50 will probably be either Nick Ham, Steve Jones or Matt Hutchinson. Alwyn Nixon is first MV60, and Stephen Hall looks set to be second, as he’s entered Rotherham.  John Vernon or Tim Brockington will probably be third.  They both need a fourth counter: Tim’s currently ahead of John on points, but he hasn’t entered Rotherham yet, whereas John has.  Dick Scroop’s the only MV70 with four counters, but a decent run from Bob Nash at Rotherham should see Bob overtake him.

Karen’s first FV50 of course, and Janet Hill first FV60.  As yet they’re the only two women over 50 with four counters.  Jenny Wyles has entered Rotherham though, and assuming she finishes she’ll be second FV50.  Nobody else is in the frame this year.

David Chetta is currently the man with the most points overall, having run six races in pretty good times.  Ken Sutor is second at the moment, and as he’s entered Rotherham, he’s probably going to win this unless David decides to run too.  Mind you, Ken doesn’t always turn up to races, and if neither he nor David run then Rory Harris, Nick Ham or Steven Jones could end up winning.  Of the three, Nick’s currently got the most points, but Steve’s entered Rotherham and the others haven’t as yet.

Karen’s got the most points overall on the women’s side, and she can’t be caught now.

Working out which teams are still in with a chance is usually a minefield, so I wont commit myself.  Team Krypton are current leaders by quite a way, so they’ll probably end up winning.  Mercia, Horwich and Dark Peak are the next three, but others aren’t that far behind them.

Prizegiving and AGM

This will be on Sunday 4th November at The Shady Oak on the A5004 at Fernilee,  SK23 7HD at 2pm

We have the pub booked from 1.30pm so please come for chat, a drink and to show us that you value the Runfurther series. After the short formal AGM we will have the prize giving and provide sandwiches, crisps and chips. The beer is good I am told plus tea and coffee is available. There is a large car park. This is where we will announce the races for 2019.

This is after the Peak Raid mini MM- this is a 3 hour score event. You basically have 3 hours to navigate between a choice of up to about 15 checkpoints of different values. Penalties if you are late back. Most points wins. You can run as solo or pair. Pre Enter to guarantee a place and it is cheaper. Starts are between 9 and 9.30 so we should all finish running by 12.30 and have time to get our breath, change etc and move to the pub which is close by. Check out explorerevents.co.uk or their facebook page for more details. The events centre is White Hall Outdoor Centre just off the A5004 between Whalley Bridge and Buxton and the running is mainly Goyt Valley.

We hope that you can come and that the choice of event makes the travel worthwhile and that by being a score event we will all finish close together and therefore the fast runners will not have to hang around.

Ken Sutor’s race report

This was my first Hardmoors race, and it turned out to be a pleasure. Spectacular coastal scenery, helped by fine weather and great organisation/marshalling. Conditions were almost perfect – warm but not too hot, with hard-packed ground after the extra-dry summer. We set off a little later than scheduled, in keeping with the generally relaxed approach to this event. The initial pace was hot, but by the time we reached Runswick things had settled down and Rory Harris and I were clear leaders from thereon in. I had a couple of weak spells and Rory was never far behind, so it felt like I was being pushed the whole way. I’d been fortunate to be able to do some recce runs during the week before the race so, although I didn’t know the early parts and tried to go wrong a few times, by the time we hit Whitby I knew exactly what was coming.

The course is characterised by lots of steps, so the climbs are sharp but not long-lasting. Much of the route is remarkably quiet considering that it follows the Cleveland Way. The main exceptions were Whitby, where it was necessary to navigate a couple of streets tightly packed with tourists (entertaining!) and Scarborough (where there is a long section of paved promenade to negotiate, and [before the busiest section] the route passes the impressive, thought-provoking sculpture of Freddie Gilroy). The latter part of the route contains less ascent but it remains dramatic: the section out to Filey Brigg feels like you’re running to the end of the world. It must feel particularly adventurous there in darkness. At the finish (Church Hall in Filey) we were treated to a sit-down, tea, cake and other refreshments. All was well with the world. There were some stories of injuries and a competitor almost needing rescue from the incoming tide, but in the end everyone survived. And we were all very impressed when the first woman home said it was her first ultra. Claire Howard might be a name to watch out for in the future. I now see the attraction of the Hardmoors series, strongly suspect I’ll be among those heading back for more.

Grand Tour of Skiddaw 2018

The preamble

Apologies for the delay in posting these results.  While you were running the Grand Tour of Skiddaw I was walking the Across Wales Walk, which is about the same distance, 45 miles from the Welsh/English border near Clun in Shropshire to the coast near Aberystwyth.  The next day I drove up to Scotland to do the final route revisions for the new edition of The End To End Trail (available in all good outdoor shops at some future date).  Yesterday I drove the 450 miles back home from Wick.

Before I give the Skiddaw race details, I’d like to give a quick plug for the Across Wales Walk.  This is one of the oldest ultra events in the UK, 2018 being the 55th.  I’ve run it many times.  It’s traditionally been an event for walkers, but runners have always been welcome too.  It’s a volunteer-run event, and the price includes an overnight stay at Aberystwyth University after the event, and a coach back to England.  This was the first time for many years that the event didn’t fill up, and it needs to fill to remain viable.  It’s very much an event with its own community, and a lot of socialising both during and after the event.  The recommended route makes for a brilliant day out, visiting places you’ll never see otherwise.  Note that it’s not a race in any respect, as you can take road options that are quicker in many places, but you’re missing out a lot of the best of the day if you do.  You need navigation skills, which is one of the reasons numbers have fallen off, I think.  It’s one of the best-organised events I know, and in fact I borrowed quite a lot of ideas from it when I set an ultra up myself a few years ago.  Anyway, assuming it doesn’t clash with a Runfurther race in 2019, please consider entering the AWW – they could do with a few more runners.  You’ll have a great weekend – I always have.  Entries will be on SIEntries from 1 May.

The Grand Tour of Skiddaw

Judging from Alwyn Nixon’s race report and Nick’s photos, it looks like it was a great day round and up Skiddaw again this year.  This was the sixth running of this race, and the second time for Runfurther.  Andy Swift (CVFR) smashed Jacob Snochowski’s 2016 race record by nearly half an hour, winning in an astonishing 6:35:40.  Second was Lee Muir in 7:17:54, third Michael Irving (DH Runners) in 7:35:57, and fourth was Sabrina Verjee in 8:07:00, breaking her own women’s course record by 7 minutes.  Second woman (11th overall) was Philippa Wakefield (DH Runners) in 8:30:48, and third (15th overall) was Fiona Lynch (Radcliffe AC) in 8:49:51.  Until this year Sabrina was the only woman to have run this race in under 9 hours.  Age categories don’t come into the race results, but I’d be surprised if any other MV60 beat Alwyn Nixon’s great time of 9:21:30, so well done to all of them, and to the rest of the 142 finishers.  There’s a link to the full race results on the race website.

Thanks very much to Alwyn Nixon for his race report (see below).  Nick Ham’s photos of the day are on his Flickr pages as usual, and as ever I’ve pinched a few for here.

The Runfurther leaderboard

I’ve updated the leaderboard, and with just two Long races to go, it’s about time I made my predictions for who’s likely to win what.  First to the men.  David Chetta is currently leading, and can’t be caught by anyone who’s already run four counters.  If either Ken Sutor or Rory Harris runs the Hardmoors 60 or Rotherham, then one of them will win.  If they both run one of the remaining races, Ken’s favourite as he’s currently ahead, but not by much.  David Chetta is probably going to be in the top three, but not necessarily, as there are a couple of other runners who could pull a good race out of the bag and beat him.  First MV50 at the moment is Nick Ham, with Steve Jones very close behind him.  Either could win, bu they probably won’t.  That’s because Martin Terry, Albert Sunter, Mike Burke and Kevin Smith all have better points per race averages, and surely at last one of them will run a good Long and take the MV50 title.  My money’s on Martin Terry, mostly because he’s got the best average and he wins it every year anyway!  First MV60 will be Alwyn Nixon, and first MV70 will be either Dick Scroop or Bob Nash, depending on Bob running one of the remaining races.  He’ll have to run it though, walking probably won’t overhaul Dick!  Bob’s got the better race average, but Dick’s already got 4 counters.

And so to the women.  Karen Nash cannot be caught, with three 1000 point maximums and 851 for Haworth.  Debbie Cooper is currently second, but would probably be beaten by Carol Morgan, Fiona Lynch or Sarah Challans if they ran one of the remaining races.  Carol’s been  the fastest of the three this year (due mainly to her Fellsman run), with Sarah’s pretty close behind Fiona in terms of Runfurther points.  Karen’s going to be first FV50 by a mile, and Janet Hill first FV60.

In the team competition, Team Krypton is ahead with 7929 points so far, from 11 counters.  That’s Karen & Bob Nash, and Nick Ham.  Second are Mercia Fell Runners on 6425, from 9 counters, and third Horwich RMI Harriers with 6290 from 8 counters.  It may well stay that way, but I wouldn’t bank on it.  Remember, we use your running club as your team, unless you let me know you want to form an ad hoc team for the Runfurther competition (eg Team Krypton).  Just let me know who’s in your team early enough in the season (it’s too late for this year!)

There are no contenders for the Grand Slam this year, but there’s still the maximum points award up for grabs.  Karen’s well ahead on the women’s side and unlikely to be caught, but it’s a lot closer for the men.  Here, Nick Ham and Steve Jones are neck and neck, with Nick currently only three points ahead.  If they both run both remaining races one of them should win the points prize, but there’s no telling who it will be.  If they don’t run the races, they could be caught.

Good luck to everyone running in the Hardmoors 60 on the 15th!

Alwyn Nixon’s race report

Grand Tour of Skiddaw – 1st September 2018

This was a “must do” for me – with one thing and another I hadn’t managed to do a medium category race in the series and so needed a medium counter. It was also my first Lakeland event since last year’s Lakes 42 and I was looking forward to revisiting the northern fells.
I arrived from South Wales at dark on Friday evening after the usual slow slog up the M5/M6, but it didn’t take long to pitch my tent, register and make something to eat. After a comfortable night I awoke to the strains of the La Sportiva sound system – “It’s gonna be a beautiful day” followed by “I will survive”. I chatted with Nick, who had got up a 3 am to drive up that morning, before the start and then we were off. I decided to ease into it rather than dash to beat the queue at the first kissing gate, and enjoy the first few easy miles. I was wary of going too quickly early on and not having enough left for the runnable return from the Caldbeck checkpoint. Even so, my legs felt a bit jaded after my previous weekend in Snowdonia.
The steady climb up High Pike passed ok, although as usual my uphill walking pace was slightly slower than those around me and I lost a bit of ground, but pulled some of this back on the rougher descent down Grainsgill. The next 3.5 miles to Skiddaw House is gradual uphill and felt a slog – I was relieved to get this over and start on the downhill section round the slopes of Lonscale Fell to the Latrigg checkpoint. Some great views down St John’s in the Dale from the high path and then across Derwent Water to the fells beyond were a bonus – although there was a cloud base at about 2500 ft, sunlight was penetrating the cloud layer and bathing the background hills, giving a spectacular contrast of light and shadow.


I reached the Latrigg checkpoint in a little under 4 hrs. I had found the second leg quite tough, and was feeling slightly grumpy. Probably suffering a bit from energy depletion – I didn’t carry my usual banana at the start as the checkpoint detail had promised some at Caldbeck, but they either weren’t there or I somehow missed them. Checkpoint food is an issue for me because I’m coeliac and so all the usual flapjack/cake/pasties/sandwiches/pasta on offer is no good to me. However, the checkpoint lady was very tolerant and I accepted a gluten free energy bar, along with a few crisps, salted nuts and some cheese chunks which she kindly put in a bag for me to take with me. Excellent service! The real bonus here though was the water melon – just the job as it was quite a warm day.
Suitably fortified, I left for the long grind up Skiddaw. Not a lot to be said for this way up – I find it pretty tedious and it just seems to go on and on. The top 600 feet or so was in the clag, but it wasn’t cold or wet (at least not when I was there), so no need for extra clothing. Rang the bell as ordered at the summit and then off down the first steep section, watching my foot placement and avoiding the rocks and the lurking event photographer. The rest of the descent over Ullock Pike was a delight, nice views of the lower ridge with Bassenthwaite Lake on one side and Southerndale on the other. By the bottom I was back with various runners who had got away from me earlier and was feeling ok again. After the Peter House Farm checkpoint the 17 miles or so to the finish are fairly quick, with sections of road and track and no severe uphill sections. Some of those around were starting to walk more frequently and I decided to push on and keep moving as best I could. I reached the Caldbeck checkpoint in good shape and paused only to fill my bottle before heading through the village to the final return miles along the river. I knew I would be well inside 10 hrs if I kept moving, but the last 3 or 4 miles were still an effort and I could feel my pace dropping. Andy is right, the return is longer than it seems on the way out, but every step at slow run pace is one less step at walking pace! The last bit from Rose Bridge was actually less than I expected – and no queue at the kissing gate this time. Job done, time for a nice sit, then something eat and drink, hot shower and see how the day had gone for others. I was too tired to contemplate driving home immediately, so rested off and on in my tent until about midnight and then decided to head home in the small hours. Good decision – I was in bed by 5.30am and had my kit sorted and was out picking blackberries by midday on Sunday.


There were 144 finishers (14 were running as pairs). First home was Andy Swift of Calder Valley Fell Runners in a very fast time of 6h 35m, over 40 minutes quicker than second placed Lee Muir. First lady was Sabrina Verjee, 4th overall in 8h 7m. They don’t do age category placings so I’m not sure about the best age group times. Runfurther members seemed a bit thin on the ground. However, besides me (9h 21m), I’m aware of Fiona Lynch (8h 49m), Steve Jones (10h 57m), Debbie Cooper and Daryl Bentley (11h 2m), Nick Ham (11h 43m), Janet Hill (13h 31). Apologies to those I have missed.
Overall verdict – a really good scenic day out, a well organised event and the course marking was a bonus and very reliable. Many thanks to all concerned.

Long Tour of Bradwell 2018 – updated 21 August

Nick Ham, as if you didn’t already know

The race results are here.  Stuart Walker won in 5:08:30, Rory Harris was 2nd in 5:18:46, Stephen Shanks was 3rd in 5:29:11.  First woman was Abigail Hathway in 6:51:12, 2nd was Amanda Seims in 6:54:06, and 3rd Amanda Heading in 7:17:40.  The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated and you can find it here.

Nick Ham’s photos are now up on his Flickr site.  As always I’ve borrowed some.  No race report this time I’m afraid, as Karen wasn’t running & nobody else has sent me any!

Pennine 39 2018

It was another hot one!  A great little race, this one.  Last year’s Runfurther champions, Ken Sutor and Karen Nash, were first man and first woman to finish, doing their prospects of another championship this year no harm at all.  Ken’s time was 5:23:44, with Rory Harris 5 minutes behind him in 5:28:41.  I suspect that may have been a ding-dong battle all the way.  Philip Withnall was 3rd, over an hour later in 6:37:01.  Karen finished 6th overall in 7:06:34, with Nicola Richards 8th (2nd woman) in 7:17:08, and Carol Morgan 13th (3rd woman) in 7:34:24.  I’ve no idea whether the race results are up online anywhere, so here they are in full:

Time Family Name First Name Gender
05:23:44 Sutor Ken Male
05:28:41 Harris Rory Male
06:37:01 Withnall Philip Male
06:50:25 Terry Martin Male
07:00:47 Leeman C Male
07:06:34 Nash Karen Female
07:08:28 Stark Colin Male
07:17:08 Richards Nicola Female
07:18:41 Harrison David Male
07:24:15 Gee Darren Male
07:31:06 Oswald David Male
07:31:13 Humphries Phil Male
07:34:24 Morgan Carol Female
07:37:08 Thompson Honor Female
07:39:10 Wright Jonothan Male
07:47:33 Chisholm Cass Female
08:07:16 Osbaldestin Geoff Male
08:25:21 Allan Stuart Male
08:34:22 Stamford Lucy Female
08:37:43 Ward Steve Male
08:48:12 Scott Katie Female
08:48:17 Love Ally Female
08:48:22 De Grandis Carmine Male
08:48:24 Clayton Barbara Female
08:48:35 Jones Steven Male
08:49:52 Dale Jay Male
08:51:10 Ham Nick Male
08:51:56 Sumner Andrew Male
08:52:05 Hawthorn Marcus Male
09:16:08 Heathcock Kate Female
09:16:30 Barrett Jo Female
09:16:44 Humphris Claire Female
09:35:32 Elsender Neil Male
09:59:03 Ansell Graham Male
10:05:49 Cottam Michael Male
10:05:50 Jackson Alan Male
10:12:46 Hill Janet Female
10:49:21 Scroop Richard Male
10:49:35 Nash Robert Male
11:03:37 Brockington Tim Male
11:35:01 Blamires M Male
11:48:40 Davidson Mick Male
12:02:00 Wright Lisa Female
12:02:16 Cooley Ben Male
12:03:24 Rogers Katherine Female

Nick Ham’s photos are all up on his Flickr site.  I’ve borrowed a few to decorate this post – thanks Nick!

Karen’s now got maximum points from 3 races this year, and the only person that has a realistic chance of catching her is Carol Morgan.  Carol would have to be first woman home, or very close to it, in at least two of the remaining races though.  Ken is also well-placed for another win this year.  He needs a good result at either the Hardmoors 60 or Round Rotherham, but I’d expect him to manage that OK.  Rory Harris could catch him, but would need a couple of wins, or close to wins, to do it.

Here’s Karen’s race report, copied from her blog (click on the title to go to the rest of her blog):

Nav4 Pennine 39

I woke on Saturday at about 6am and my body was already saying ‘No, this is too much, can’t we just walk a bit, lie in the sun, drink beer and watch the football.’ You’d think by now the heat would feel normal but I think it has steadily drained me. The NT was warm, Scotland was warm after Rum, The LAMM was very warm, SW100 was hot and last weekends SLMM was very hot. I raced hard on the Klets clocking up about 34km and 2400m of climb on day 1 and about 28km 1950m on day 2. I was shattered when I reached mid camp and needed a rest before I could contemplate putting up my tent. At the finish on day 2 I was totally wasted. It took several days to recover, rehydrate and to even contemplate sitting in the garden in the sun. But, I loved all these events and activities and having a ball with some great wins too.
I ignored my body and felt a bit better after breakfast but even sitting on the coach to Bowlees I was sure I would struggle today. The suspension bridge was closed so we had a leisurely walk down stream to the next bridge and then back up the other bank. All very calm and civilised although it didn’t help Rory and Ken who were hoping to race hard and get back to watch the England match. I knew I had no hope of that so I opted to wear my England shirt and give my support that way. The start was typical no fuss Joe ‘Any questions? OK off you go then.’ The first CP was only 7 or so miles in and it was mostly flat so that means running! Long ultras mean this is not my forte but I tried hard to just go at a decent steady pace.

The front men were soon out of sight but I could see others spread out up ahead.

Nicola was very close on my heels but at this stage I just did my own thing. In any case I thought the threat would come from Carole or maybe Cass. Cauldron Snout was in full flow- apparently there is no pipe to send water supplies down the valley, they just let it flow. I quickly topped up my water and set off for High Cup Nick. After a few km on the stone track it was a joy to drop off left onto grassy paths and down to the river. After the bridge more grassy paths led to one of the best views in northern England and to reach it from the east is wonderful. There was no time for photos today though as we began our descent to Dufton.

Down and down and down some more so that you arrive at the village road with quads screaming. I grabbed cheese, tomatoes, melon and filled up my water yet again. It was roasting now and I was hoping that Mountain Fuel would have enough electrolytes to do the trick. Just as I left the CP Nicola arrived. Oh heck, the race is still on. What goes down must go back up again so the next section was up, up, up. On the walled lane I could see Nicola not far behind but as we reached the open fell it was a little cooler and my power walk stomp seemed to be giving me a gap. John B was at the foot of Green Fell taking photos and joked that today few people were running even when they saw the camera.

I was scoping out where the next water would be to dip my buff, cool my head and collect more drinking water.

The pull up onto Knock seemed endless and it took a few hundred metres to recover enough to run. There was more flagstone path than I remembered and I was soon at the road snaking onto the aerials etc on Great Dunn fell. I had a gel and felt  it kick in. This fuelled me over Little Dunn and onto Cross Fell. I dropped the three guys behind me and caught the two in front. The ground was dry and my trod to the main path worked well. Jim and the water pipe at Greg’s Hut were a very welcome sight. The water might not have been 100% pure but really we had no choice.

A runner who I had been close to since the start set off with me on the gnarly rollercoaster track. He was determined and it really pushed me to keep running. He got away just before the descent into Garrigill but we were together again at the CP at the far end of the village. Ros and Neil had the radio on and were able to report England were 1-0 up! As I sat chewing a slice of melon they scored again. My garmin suggested 4.5 miles to run but the finger post said 3.5. No time to sit and wonder Nicola would be chasing me down. I like the last section along the river back to Alston. There was some shade and lots of grassy paths and even a mini bog (yep, i found it).  I couldn’t really believe that I had kept my lead and managed to run so well today. At one stile I got cramp and ended up in an undignified heap on the floor but I knew the end was close. Along the final wooded path, spot the Runfurther flags, up the steps and breathe!

7 hrs 06 so 22 minutes faster than last year. I was more than happy with that. Ken and Rory both finished in under 5hrs 30. It took several pints of water before I could move and eat Joe’s famous soup. A shower and more soup had me back on track.  It is beautifully relaxed and sociable in the YHA.

We sat munching, drinking, chatting and cheering in the next runners. Some then left to make their way home but a number of us stayed for a meal and drinks. Great to see so many friends- Stuart who I have not seen for ages, Cass and Nicola who I met briefly as they finished the Lakes Traverse in Shap and loads of Runfurther members.

So pleased also to see Nick recovered and able to risk driving and running. He will have taken loads of superb photos as usual.
For me next is a rest. No races planned until the GRP towards the end of August.

South Wales 50/100 2018 – updated 27 June

Well the weather was hot, & it’s just been getting hotter ever since.  The race results are up on the Run Walk Crawl website.  There were 26 finishers in the 100, and 34 in the 50.  Matt Tomlinson won the 100 in 23:28:20, just beating Karen Nash by a whisker.  OK, he beat her by more than 3 1/2 hours (27:04:11), but she still came in second!  Third was Otto Karhunen in 27:29:00.  First in the 50 was Jacob Hayes in 9:14:34, with again a woman second:  Katie Mills in 10:39:43.  Third was Tom Stenning in 10:56:29.

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, and that’s here.  Karen is going to take some catching now, as she got 1000 points in the 100.  Nick Ham ran the 50, and his photos are up on Flickr here.  As usual I’ve borrowed some.  Karen’s written her race up, and that’s on her blog, but I’ve also copied it here (see below).

Karen’s race report

I did this race last year and so knew more or less what to expect. There were some route changes and a major change of start for the SW50 which Bob was doing. The Llanbradach forest section was gone and all the loop after it to be replaced by a very stony track and then tarmac down into Caerphilly. I would have preferred some tapes to aid nav as I did get seriously lost and bracken bound last year but then liked the loop after the CP. Caerphilly castle was beautiful though. Last year although I had receed some parts I was also very reliant on others at times and we made some serious errors in the dark, wet and clag which I was keen to omit this year.

Chatting and nervous (Nick Ham)

On Wednesday afternoon I ran the section W of the Storey Arms slowly as an out and back. I should know this section from the Brecon Beacons 10 peaks a couple of years ago but was not sure. it was only about 7 miles. On Thursday I ran from Taff Wells almost to CP3 but dropped off the tops eastwards to Clydach Vale. This made it shorter but there was some jungle warfare and it turned out to be about 22 miles. Not ideal on the day before the race but I did give me lots of confidence about the route. The pathless route off Mynydd y Gaer seemed so obvious in daylight and the first turbine area was very straight forward. Llantrisant forest was worth checking on although a dog attack left me bleeding. My memory of Ogmore forest onwards was a real blur so doing this in daylight was very helpful and I was confident I could find my way through the dreaded turbines and across to the final forest edge. Ironically I made two errors in the race just after this but neither were serious. Friday was very lazy apart from putting up all the flags and banners for Runfurther but this was no hardship in the warmth and sun. I had registered by 2pm and went back to the van for shade and a lie down. There was no real chance of sleep but the 7pm start was awkward and I wanted to rest.

and we are off (Nick Ham)

On the dot of 7pm we were off. It was still hot but I had opted for 3/4 tights in case it got cold at night (it didn’t). There was the inevitable charge across the rugby fields to the cycle track although I did try to hold back a little. From Castle Coch onwards was quite funny as Tom and others kept racing off and then being shouted back by me as they went wrong. Between CP2 and 3 there were about 8 of us sort of in a group but all doing our own thing. Last year we needed torches as we entered Llantrisant forest so it was great this year to have cloudless skies and a full moon which meant we didn’t need torches until CP2. CP2 was outside and I didn’t stop long except to refill my drinks bottle and to grab some jaffa cakes and coke. The next section went well although a bit slower in the dark on the narrow path by the river. I was glad to reach CP3 which is inside and had real food. Refuelled by soup, bread, cake and custard we set off up the dreaded climb. Chatting with John Yuill made the time pass quickly and Tom was still with us and chatting too. Again there was an indoor CP at Hirwaun so more real food.  The next section is much flatter and the boys were soon pulling ahead, until they took an alternative route and I gained the distance back again. From Penderyn we stayed together and jointly sorted the nav across to the wonderful Sgwd yr Elra waterfall. The others had not really been expecting this and were amazed as the route took us behind the curtain of water. By now I had expected to have caught up Brian who started as a walker 4 hours before us. He must be having a great run.  John, Tom and I stayed together to the next CP in Ystradfellte. As we left the rivers behind the dawn was well on its way and we met the photographers coming out (still too dark for them tho).
This CP was a chance to get our drop bags. I was determined to eat well before setting out again. I took time to restock my food and water bottles. Mountain Fuel extreme energy was going down well and I had managed to eat some of my snacks. I drank chocolate milk and ate a dehydrated porridge meal plus a few little snacks. It was possibly too much too fast as I felt a bit ugh for the next few miles. I also used the power block from my drop bag to put my torch on charge.Brian appeared before we left he had turned downhill and discovered a second waterfall and lost 30 mins or so.
John and Tom overtook me on the lanes but the new day lifted my spirits, the food settled and my power walking soon reeled them back in. We were together again over Fan Llia, down to Sarn Helen Roman road and then up to Fan Frynych. It seemed a cruel route compared to last year with extra drops and climbs plus the horrid stones on the Roman road. I pulled ahead to the CP on the A470 and left before them. From there I was on my own over the most beautiful and wonderful part of the whole route. The CP were not entirely happy when I refused extra water but one bottle saw me though the Brecon Beacons fine.

Steep hills in the Beacons (Nick Ham)

I loved the peaks of Corn Du, pen y Fa, Cribyn, Fan y Big and the wonderful scarp edges and views. It was early enough to beat most of the crowds but already there was evidence of at least 3 other events in the area.

Beautiful edges, love this (Nick Ham)

I bet it got crowded later. Running round the rim got very hot and I did have a moment of doubt thinking I had missed the path off to Carn Pica.

Peace and quiet (unknown supporter)

There is a new gravel path now not just the boggy route through the peat hags so missing it was really not likely.

All on my own

The CP at Talybont was in the sun and a bit sparse so I drank coke, ate and orange, topped up my water and set off for Tor y Foel. As I got to the tricky nav descent to the river the first SW50 runner came by. Sadly he shot ahead and I lost the path. I hacked up through bracken and was only 50m from the stile over the wall onto the open fell. The next part to Trefil was easy apart from the heat. Several SW50 runners were now catching me up, including David Wilson so I was able to ask if any SW100 runners were catching me. We sat in the corridor in the shade and a cool breeze, heaven.  I managed to eat pineapple, soup, baby bel and then to the shock of the CP lady I drank a small box of custard from my drop bag. I ran to Parc Bryn Bach with SW50 runners  although they shot ahead after Rhymney Hill and onto the next self clip on the summit. I caught one Dom? and we negotiated the thick bracken down to New Tredegar where a Iced Calypo went down a treat.

Yep several paths like this (Nick Ham)

The bracken on the next paths was even worse en route to the Bargoed CP. David caught me up again here and then that was the last I saw of him. I was solo for the next bit and lack of sleep etc led me to a serious error in the fields above Penalta Park. I persuaded myself it was fine so by the time I stopped running several fields later I was well lost. In the end I sorted it but still missed the opening by a gate. I reached the Parc by a different route, negotiated the parc and was so so pleased to hit the correct path and meet a runner. I could have hugged her. Thanks Emma.
The rest was easy- up a rather steep lane and onto a rough stone track. Also some of the worst fly tipping I have ever seen on a race (much worse than even the rough bits of Rotherham). The stones hurt my feet and I almost wished we were going into Llanbradach forest. The tarmac descent to Caerphilly was not as bad as expected and the CP near the castle was good. I was struggling to eat but Emma’s support had melon which was great.

Caerphilly (Nick Ham)

I left knowing the end was in sight and that I was likely to stay second overall. I had been in that position since before the Storey Arms but was convinced somebody would catch me, especially when I got lost. Emma shot ahead and Ben and Dom were just behind. I was alone over Caerphilly Mountain and the final clip on Craig y Allt but the men caught me as we dropped to the Taff Trail. They were certainly faster on the flat but had not expected the steady pull up to Castle Coch woods. My power walking came to the rescue again. From there we dropped to civilisation and the final cycle track along the river. It was now getting dark but the way was easy despite a few bikes with no lights. At one point I made an effort to beat 10pm and then it was just too much. It really wasn’t important. 10.04pm was fine. 1st female, 2nd overall and almost 5hrs 30 faster than last year.
I spent about an hour chatting and eating soup but before 11 I was ready for bed. I couldn’t face the rigmarole of a shower so had a strip was in the van and fell into bed. It took ages to get to sleep and by midnight I was up for a feast of chocolate milk. Bob arrived back from his SW50 also with a PB. It woke me enough to chat for a bit but I was now very tired and fell asleep easily.

Another good run (Nick Ham)

Sunday was still roasting hot. We showered, ate, cheered runners in, took banners down and had the final prize giving. Not a bad mini holiday to sunny South Wales. I will add more photos once the official ones are uploaded.

Northants Ultra 2018 updated 5 June

The results are up on the Go Beyond website.  Despite what must have been a very hot day, Andrew Siggers of Kenilworth Runners lowered the race record by 13 minutes, finishing in the amazing time of 3:59:29.  That meant Runfurther points were hard to come by for the handful of male members who ventured down for the race.  Second was Stephen Marks (Rugby & Northampton AC), winner in 2016, in 4:23:18, and Ed Fisher was 3rd in 4:31:11.  First woman was Julie Pickering (Mornington Chasers) in 5:29:54, 2nd was Rachel Dench in 5:50:57, and 3rd Sarah Challans (Lincoln & District Runners) in 6:00:03.  There were 164 finishers, and a relatively high number of DNFs: 14.  That was probably down to the weather.

No Karen again for this race, so no race report from her.  Nick Ham has found the time between his global voyages to write something, & that’s at the bottom of this post.  It’s taken some time to get up on the website as he’s been away, & I’ve been away too.  Nick’s photos are up on his Flickr page here.  As usual I’ve borrowed some for this post.  The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, but hasn’t changed much.  David Chetta still heads up the men’s side, but as he didn’t run the Northants Ultra that means there will be no Runfurther Grand Slams in 2018.

Nick Ham’s race report

I rocked up at Lamport Hall nice and early on Sunday to meet Dick and put up the flags and banners. The dew-soaked long grass soaked our shoes as usual but the sun was already hot at 7am. After getting registered and getting the Runfurther display boards erected (they needed a lot of TLC / repairs before that could be done) it was time to make our way towards the starting pen for final instructions. I had a brief chat with Rory Harris. That would be the last I would see of him.

I set off conservatively at a speed that felt slower than ever before. After running a trail 5k on the preceding Wednesday, a 3-mile fell race on the Friday and the tough Mount Famine 5-mile AS fell race on the Saturday and getting comprehensive Personal Worsts at all of them, I was expecting another PW today. I would just enjoy the day, and what a day: cloudless blue skies, little breeze, spectacular views across lush rolling gentleness. Sun cream had been slathered on and peaked cap was rotated for sun protection.

We wended our way around the anticlockwise route via checkpoints at Cottesbrooke, Naseby, West Haddon (nr), Althorp and Teeton while fuelling ourselves on GU energy gels and Go Beyond fruit cake from the aid stations. After runners’ early enthusiasm, the heat soon began to take effect and everyone settled back into a survival strategy. The new footpath to the relocated CP3 was taken thanks to another runner spying the checkpoint flag in the distance to our left.

I usually slow down after CP3 but this time the heat and my hydration strategy seemed to play to my strengths (thanks to High 5 Zero). I was still running and feeling relatively strong. I became the one doing the overtaking, passing those who had passed me earlier. As well as others’ suffering in the heat, there were the usual flounderings off-route. A runner came steaming past on the long road out of Long Buckby before CP4. His speed suggested considerable eliteness. “He must have gone seriously wrong”, I thought to myself.

After the early crowds it had been strangely lonely since CP3, with the speedy ones in front and the suffering ones behind. After CP4 I usually pick up because I feel as if I’m on the homeward leg. This year was no different. Despite my ‘speed’ and overtaking manoeuvres, just like last year I was still caught by the juggling runner before CP5. Tim Butler with his tiger mask juggles 3 balls as he runs. He’s raising money for the Zoological Society of London for tiger conservation.

I left CP5 before Tim for the final 10k to the finish. Shortly afterwards, Tim came steaming past like a man possessed, leaving all in his wake of dust. He told me afterwards that his switch had been flipped by the consumption of his customary double espresso energy get at the final checkpoint. With the help of a Roctane GU gel I managed to keep my shuffle going for a 6:56:40 finish, 6 minutes behind Tim. It was far from PW too. RESULT!

Winner Andrew Siggers smashed the course record with his 3:59:29. Fastest woman and 17th overall was Julie Pickering in 5:29:54. Rory had finished 5th in 4:39:14. I was enjoying a post-race leg massage when I heard the announcer call out the arrival of Dick, 2nd MV70 in a time of 8:25:22. Brilliant. There were 14 retirements, which is higher than usual. The sun was intense out there.

After the last runners had finished and beaten the 9-hour cut-off, it was time to pack away the flags, banners, boards and merchandise and wend our merry ways with memories of a glorious day and a race that’s always so enjoyable. Thanks go to Go Beyond.

Marlborough Downs Challenge 2018 – updated 10 May

There were 90 finishers in the long race this year, in pretty warm weather – there were a few people who needed to retire due to the heat.  It looks like there was a race to the line for the first two finishers, who put in very fast times.  Edward Knudsen (Avon Valley Runners) finished in 3:58:11, with Rob Ford (Cirencester AC) just 25 seconds behind.  Rob Brown (also Cirencester) was 3rd in 4:30:07.  Not sure what happened to David Chetta, who finished 8th in 5:10:46: I’d have expected a faster time from David, but maybe the heat was too much or he got lost.  Hope it wasn’t injury anyway.  In any case David is now the only contender left for a Runfurther Grand Slam of all 12 races this year.  Alwyn Nixon finished 11th in 5:15:45, a very fast time, and first V60 by more than 90 minutes.  Alwyn’s written up his race, and you can find that below.

First woman was Ciara Blackstock (Calne Smartt), 17th overall in 5:31:46, 2nd was Rachel Bennett (White Horse Harriers) in 5:37:17, and 3rd was Rachel Stanley-Evans (Witney RR) in 5:46:13.

The race results are up on the Marlborough Running Club website.  I have now updated the Runfurther leaderboard as well.

No photos this time, as Nick Ham was at home sick – hope you’re feeling better now Nick!  And no Karen either, so no point in checking her blog.  Alwyn’s come up trumps though…

Alwyn Nixon’s Marlborough Downs Challenge Report

The Marlborough Downs Challenge is a pleasant, undulating route with some good views, and not too far from my home in South Wales so much more convenient for me than the majority of Runfurther races. It was only a week after the Fellsman, so I wasn’t sure how recovered I would be. However, the Fellsman had gone pretty well in my book (notwithstanding Karen’s colourful version of my trials and tribulations beyond Cray – after all, I finished 3 hours quicker than the previous year, and despite my eating/energy problems took 1 hour less from Cray to Yarnbury).
The weather was warm, but not scorching, and there was plenty of fluid to drink at the checkpoints and throw over head and body to keep cool. The ground was dry, but not baked hard. I started steadily; although I knew that I was fitter than 2 years previously, I was not feeling fresh. My plan was to try and maintain a steady pace for as long as possible and avoid losing time at checkpoints or through having to walk.
The first 13 miles or so over the first section of downs went smoothly; some runners in front of me went wrong at Gopher Wood, but came past again soon after checkpoint 2. Although I managed to hang on to them for a while I lost ground along the canal towpath to the edge of Devizes and my legs were feeling leaden by checkpoint 4 (15.2 miles). However, after the next hill I started to pick off runners, and was feeling OK and running on my own by checkpoint 6 before the Wellington Monument (20 miles). I managed to keep running up to the monument and made good time to the checkpoint before Avebury (25 miles). The next section to the final checkpoint is a grind, slightly uphill for much of the way, but I was still running. A quick final drink, and then push the final 3.5 miles down to the finish. Pleasantly surprised to find that I was 11th overall (1st MV60), and my time of 5 hr 15.45 was nearly 20 minutes quicker than in 2016. Time to relax, shower and socialise!
89 runners completed the 33 mile route; Edward Knudsen (Avon Valley Runners) was the overall winner in a quick 3.58.11. First lady was Ciara Blackstock (Calne Smartt) in 5.31.46. Runfurther members alongside myself to successfully complete the route included Ned Lammas (6th/2nd MV50 in 5.06.08); Dave Chetta (8th in 5.10.46); event (apologies if I’ve missed anyone). Dick Scroop (MV70) had the misfortune to go wrong and lose significant time in West Woods after checkpoint 1, and so missed the cut-off time and checkpoint 3 and was diverted onto the 20 mile route.
To those who haven’t tried the Marlborough Downs Challenge yet, it’s well worth the travel; the course is interesting and varied, whilst the event has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and is excellently organised.
Alwyn Nixon

The Fellsman 2018 – updated 3 May with photos

Ascent of Ingleborough: photo by Nick Ham

The Fellsman results are up, and you can find them on the Fellsman website.  If you get to a list of the past few years’ results & think 2018 isn’t there yet, just scroll down & click on “2018” on the right hand side.  Sounds like it was a great race this year without some of the appalling conditions that hit it some years.

Neil Talbott was first to finish in 11:16, new Runfurther member Stuart Walker was 2nd in 11:44, and Lawrence Eccles was 3rd in 11:56.  First woman was Jessica Richardson, 18th overall in 14:01.  2nd woman was Carol Morgan in 14:19, and 3rd was Rachel Slattery in 16:35.  Karen Nash was just 3 minutes behind her.

Special mention for Mike Sellors and Barney Nikolich, both in the Runfurther under-25 category, who ran their socks off to finish in joint 9th place (12:36).  Our photographer Nick Ham only got as far as Dent, so we’ll have no photos after that!

All the results have been incorporated into the Runfurther leaderboard, and that’s on the 2018 results page.  Three runners have completed all four races so far: David Chetta (Mercia), Steven Jones (Dark Peak) and Ian France (Bowland).  David is currently at the head of the leaderboard, but is unlikely to stay there if Ken Sutor runs one of the remaining Long races.  Karen Nash is still first woman, but if Carol Morgan ends up running four counters she’ll probably overtake Karen, on current form.  Josie Greenhalgh could catch her too.

Sarah Jones, Mike Ernill and Jim Maxfield have each run three counters, but haven’t joined Runfurther yet.  If you know any of them, please try to get them to sign up and join us. (Update: Karen’s already in touch with Mike E)

Karen’s written up her blog & I’ve copied that below, and Nick’s photos are here.

Ingleborough summit: photo by Nick Ham

Karen’s race report:

The Fellsman

I love the Fellsman. The route is superb with wonderful hills, views and countryside (almost no road). The organisation is great and so friendly and it just seems a really good value weekend and chance to catch up with so many friends.  I felt rather under-prepared but decided to think of it as my last long run before the NT.

Thanks to all our Runfurther sponsors

By Friday tea time all the flags and banners were up; a task made much easier this year thanks to the sturdy new school fence. More importantly the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out. The forecast was good- cold but dry, well maybe not dry from the shins downwards!
The display boards were up inside and I used that as an opportunity to sneak in and be first for kit check. It meant I was able to hand out mint cake and sign up a couple of new members. Suddenly it was gone 7.30pm and time to drive to Ingleton to eat, put up a couple more flags and banners before an early night. I didn’t sleep well which was annoying but not all that unusual. Bob met up with Alison and Jo before heading off the man the Whernside CP.
I had plenty of time for multiple toilet visits and catching up with so many friends. It was nice to see Mark Hartell and let him know that Runfurther was still going strong – I even ran with him off and  on as far as Blea Moor. In the hall before the start Julian asked me to be part of an oldies team which was nice. I had contemplated running with others for a social time but the Hardmoors gang would be going more slowly than I wanted and the Lostockers had a neat team of four. I decided to play it by ear and just run the best I could and see who I ended up near.

The start in Ingleton and SUN

As usual the field split into at least 3 groups as we left the playing fields and by the Ingleborough track runners and walkers were well spread out. To take my mind off the climb I chatted to Mark. The top was cloud covered but not the white out from two years ago.

Chatting with Mark who set up Runfurther

A neighbour was clipping tallies and shouted support. I always lose quite a few places descending to the Hill Inn and although the rocks were a little drier this year was no different.

Always a pleasure to see David and Laura of Sportsunday

I must check out the more direct grassy descent at some time because Rachel went that way and caught me. Initially I was thinking “where did you come from? how did you overtake me?” but we ran the rest of the race always within sight of each other, grouped and in quite companionship which was lovely. I felt OK going up Whernside to get my tally clipped by Bob et al. Running up and back down this ridge is always interesting as you see who is ahead of you and who is not far behind. Three ladies, including Carol M, seemed to be going strong and I was pleased there were some younger and faster runners this year. Kingsdale appeared very quickly and I refilled my water. I was eating my own food as I find biscuits and the flapjack too dry when I am running. The route to the gate/stile was well marked and let to a good quad bike track. It was wet underfoot but the whole hillside is and the line was better than more direct ones I have taken in the past. I slowed going up Gragareth and told myself it was OK to conserve energy for later. For the first time in ages the cheerful joking ladies at the CP were able to stand outside their tent and enjoy the views. I found myself alone on the section to Great Coum. I could see runners ahead and behind but nobody very close. It was boggy by the wall and the worst stretches kept breaking my pattern and slowing me up. I went slightly too far right dropping off the hill but it allowed me a quiet toilet stop before blasting down to Flinters Gill and running with Mark again. The rocky track was as bad as I remembered- apparently there is a grassy path in the field so I must investigate.

and I need to check out this short cut (David Chetta going well)

The cheese and onion rolls were very welcome at Dent and the melon and oranges were superb. One third of the race now done.

Dent always amuses

Mark made better time than me along the lane and up onto the shoulder of Whernside although I could still see him. Rachel was not far behind me. I gradually reeled in Mark and two others and we ran together along the now well worn trod to Blea Moor.

Yep, painting the trig!

The valley bottom was wet as always. The marshalls here had been busy and the trig point was painted a bright white. So much felling in the next valley caused some initial confusion so my line was not perfect but I got back on line just below the air shaft and caught two who had gone much too fast east.

pic from Anthony Hall

I ran the lane reasonably well buoyed up by the thought of food and drink at Stonehouse. There is always plenty of support and people with cameras here. The pasta was a struggle to get down but I managed with two cups of tea and refilled my bottle with more Mountain Fuel. I would have liked to have headed up the lane still eating but decided to sit and concentrate on swallowing.

Cheers for the food and photo Fellsman team

I then spent the next section trying to catch up with Rachel again. She reached Great Knoutberry ahead of me but we were together across the bogs that would lead us down to Redshaw. We were over half way now and to my surprise my time was looking OK. Rachel wanted to try to get under 16 hours as she took 16.08 last time and I knew my times were often 15:30 or 15:45.

Still great weather at Redshaw

Redshaw  was the CP I was on last year and this year it was manned by friends Adrienne, Nick, their girls and Jane. Tom refilled my water as I grabbed a sausage, banana and set off again. Snaizholme soon came and went. Being with Rachel made me keep running whenever I felt I could and we agreed on the best line up Dodd Fell.

Bright but chilly Dodd Fell

Our line off the summit was OK on good trods and we found a good route to the bridleway that leads across the the Fleet Moss CP.  Rachel was back off out faster than me here but I stayed and ate etc. Usually by now I am starting to think about who I will be grouped with. Rachel was up ahead but still in sight as were the two guys we left Redshaw with. I was with another three runners. It seemed any of them would be fine although I was slightly worried that perhaps I would be the weak link in any group. The new fence is a wonderful handrail and there is a reasonable trod now making nav on this section much easier. The blue cup has gone but we arrived safely at the stile and were soon on the very wet quad bike track that contours around to the ‘new’ Middle Tongue CP. The guys there had kindly hung a high viz vest on a pole just to make it even easier. Four of us whizzed our fell track watches (yes on wrists this year rather than the back of tallies) and had our tallies clipped. We were not grouped and all had our own ideas of the best line but were never really far apart. We went through Hells Gap together and then had a joint moan at the pain from the stone track down to Cray. I was ready for food, drink and a brief rest here. It was also cold even in the tent so I added another layer.

at least we didn’t suffer this disruption

It was here that all my plans went to pot. I was feeling a little nauseous and was a bit distracted. Chris Davies was pulling out with foot pain. We shared a hug and I hoped he wouldn’t have to wait too much longer for transport. Alwyn was waiting to be grouped and moaning at the wait. He was cold and keen to get going but we all knew we needed to stop and refuel. There were 8 of us and we all greed this was too much for one group. I had been feeling a little sick and so worried I might slow people up- in fact I never was sick and should not have worried. In the end Rachel, Alwyn, David and I made one group of 4. We wasted some time as the poor CP guy had to keep rewriting the grouping card  but the two groups set off close together and climbed Buckden Pike together. It was chilly up there but the views were amazing and it was almost a full moon that was starting to show.
Here we parted. The ‘second’ group shot off at a steady jog and pulled ahead never to be close to again. Alwyn was not just feeling sick but really struggling to move and retching constantly. We jogged a little along the newish flagstones and to the Polish war memorial. David lives in Grassington and so led the group. Rachel and I also felt we knew the way and so we checked the nav was OK. We were soon at Top Mere even after some stumbling along the wet tussocky area before the good grassy path. David and I were setting the best pace we could and Rachel was doing a great job of making sure we didn’t drop Alwyn. He wouldn’t eat and was getting slower. Park Rash was wonderful- the tent all done up, with a floor and gas heaters. Not moving as fast as we wanted really chilled me so now I added my primaloft. It meant I had on all 3 base layers, the primaloft, my cag and hat and gloves. Alwyn was getting worse and making sure we did not run off needed constant checking. Rachel agreed to keep shouting stop or slow whenever needed. Not being able to run after the initial steep climb was very frustrating. David and I were getting cold and Rachel knew her hope of sub 16 hours was gone.We found the CP hunkered down between the boulders and headed across the the ridge line fence. The next section is never easy as it is so boggy. Rachel and I both knew the trod off right but neither of us were confident in the dark and clag so we agreed to play safe and stay with the fences. This section although a bog fest is down hill and I really wanted to run, if only to stay warm. It was not to be. Safely at Capplestone Gate we could see some other lights ahead and soon caught another group that had a struggling runner.

Great to see the young lads Mike and Barn- they were finished long before me

Mark H was taking it all very calmly but must have been very frustrated. We slowly pulled ahead and after Rachel insisting Alwyn ate something we jogged and walked with slightly fewer interuptions. At Yarnbury we degrouped. Overtaking the other group had put Rachel and I in third place as one of the other ladies had pulled out. I told her to blast the last bit and claim 3rd as compensation for missing sub16. She and David shot off down the lane to Grassington and beyond. I check Alwyn was following and jogged off too.It felt odd to run this section as sometimes my quads are so shot it is a real effort. I even ran most of the way up to the school from the bridge. 16hrs 38 was a PW by almost an hour but hey ho. Poor Alwyn couldn’t help being ill and it is the first time in 6 years that the lottery of Fellsman grouping has caused me any issues.
After stripping off muddy shoes. I chatted to Josie who was waiting for Albert, Tony and Mike plus Mandy and Ros who had pulled out at Stonehouse but found there was such a long wait for transport that they had only just got back. Then I wandered to the kitchen where Bob and others were keeping runners fed and watered. After two cups of tea I managed a chilli baked potato before sloping off to the van to fall into bed and sleep. By 8am I was back in the hall and swapping tales. Nick had pulled out at Dent just lacking energy and so had Phil. John V was back and so pleased to complete another event 50 years after his first.

Dick being spoon fed at Stonhouse – another great completion

Dick was still out there but was making steady progress. The prize giving had a bonus for me- Julian’s oldies team had won and I was the first counter.

So a trophy and prize voucher to go with the Fellsman necktube despite it all. All that remained was to take down all the Runfurther gear and take Dick back to his car in the quarry.

Calderdale Hike 2018 – updated with results

The race results are now out, and you can find them on the Calderdale Hike website.  There were 45 finishers in the long run: 6 didn’t finish including Dick Scroop and John Vernon, who couldn’t make the cutoffs.  Rory Harris finished first in 5:54, and Ken Sutor was 2nd just behind him. Christopher Goddard was 3rd in 6:38.  Karen Nash was 7th and first woman in 7:58.  2nd woman was Beverley Holmes in 8:09, with Kim Ashworth 3rd in 8:56.

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  8 runners have finished all 3 races – I’ve no idea whether any of them are aiming for the Grand Slam this year.  Ken Sutor already appears to have pencilled his name on the men’s trophy for 2018.  Horwich RMI Harriers are currently leading the team competition, which is the first time that’s happened, as far as I know.

Karen has written up her race, and put it on her blog here.  I’ve copied Karen’s blog entry below as well, and the photos in her report are her own except where she credits Nick.  Nick has posted his photos to Flickr, and you can find them here.  As usual I’ve borrowed some for here too.

Karen’s race report

Kick starting the NT training – or too little too late perhaps

I knew I was going into the Calderdale Hike badly under-prepared. My legs would at least be well rested and perhaps I would be haring to go (perhaps). We had been abroad for the whole block of time since the Haworth Hobble. I had been active with over a week of hard skiing and then over a fortnight of rock climbing in Spain. Hours on my feet but not the same as running. I was climbing harder (for me) this year and was too shattered mentally and physically to run on those days. I did manage a long run on a day we did a via feratta, plus a long run/walk that evening and then a 2 hour run as we broke our journey up through France. Not enough.
The Calderdale Hike is 40 this year and to celebrate they devised a 40 mile route that went back to some of the very original sections.  They were a few options to reduce the distance by using roads and an awful lot of route choice options. I decided The Hike would just have to count as some hours on my feet and to tough it out. I had been over some of the route but it was months ago and I was struggling even to remember it. The other bits I would just have to sort out on the day, or hope that I had company.
Before bed on Friday evening we had met up with Kevin and put up all the flags and banners. The penalty for parking on the start line was being disturbed by the organisers arriving from 5.30am onwards. By 6am Bob had given up and got dressed to go and switch to the short route (sore knee and not fit enough) and by 6.30 I was up and erecting display boards and handing over mint cake. Interestingly all the walkers on the early start left down the driveway whereas we knew we were heading out the back gate. There was plenty of time for a leisurely breakfast, several toilet trips and a chance to catch up with friends and mull over the route options. The forecast was good with only a breeze, no rain and not too warm (actually it got rather hot).

Walkers on the early start

Linden couldn’t quite stretch his speech to wait for the church bells at 9am so we set off a couple of minutes early. The men running the short course blasted off at something like my 10K pace or faster.

Didn’t need the long sleeves for long- Thanks Nick Ham

After a mile of rather steep and slippery descent we arrived at CP1 on the canal bank and settled into easy running to Sowerby Bridge and then Copley.

Runners on the long route were now settling into a pace and I was with guys that I would spend a fair bit of the day with on and off. I fortunately found a better route up through the woods than on my recee and was soon in Greetland. I left the CP with Chris and was pleased to know the route through a couple of muddy fields and onto the path to Sonoco Mill. We arrived at the CP to find we had been overtaken by Daz, John T, Linda and others who had taken the road option.Distance and time was passing fairly comfortably at this point and we stuck together for a while. At Ringstone Reservoir the group broke up again. I decided that as a local Daz would know the best route and so abandoned my planned route.

It probably made little difference as by Ripponden Chris who had gone ‘my way’ met up with us again. I grabbed food here knowing I could eat on the climb out of town. Again I decided to stick with Daz, although this time I am not sure his route was better.

What did work was being with Daz and Chris and so keeping up the pace. On one narrow path suddenly there were two runners flying back down? They had got confused and decided they had missed Ripponden or were making a 180 error. They hadn’t and weren’t. Simon quickly accepted this and ran with Chris and I for much of the day. The other guy must have run many more miles than me because he kept popping up behind us, overtaking at some speed etc. I would be very interested to see his garmin trace.

As we hit the moor I started to struggle and lost contact with the group. I wasn’t too bothered and I knew several ways to get to Cragg Vale and the next CP. I arrived there and topped up my water and Mountain Fuel.

There were no other runners about but as I neared the top of the climb up to the reservoir and Stoodley Moor I spotted Daz up ahead. Again we went different ways and I lost him again.

I had a short break at Lumbutts and even stole a quick sit down to eat my sandwich and then left with a banana.

Spot the photos from my recee when the weather was rather different

I did though forget to top up my water and it was getting very warm. There were several route options here but I stuck with what I knew. It was safer and allowed some fields and soft ground to give my feet some rest from the hard surfaces. I was on my own over Old Royd and down into Todd. I made a slight error here but was soon on my way up to the Edge and the next CP.  Luckily they had water.  On my recee I had not liked the steep, muddy path with slimy rocks so although it was a little longer I took a dog leg and down to the sports centre. Heading up the main road I saw Chris, Simon, John and another cross the road just ahead of me. I hoped to catch them on the steady climb and even though I stopped to fill up with more water and Mountain Fuel as I passed a stream  I did it. Having company again was good. We were all starting to wilt a little in the heat. There was more food and water at Keb Cote but I didn’t stop long.

I jogged slowly down the road eating chocolate flapjack and banana. I knew the others would catch me but it was good to keep moving.

The road section to Great Rock and then on to Jack’s Bridge went on for longer than I liked. There were a couple of very short non road options but only one seemed sensible. We reminisced about starting a relay leg up at Blackshaw Edge and sheltering in a runners garage to avoid the rain. The marshalls at Jack’s Bridge had beer which seemed cruel. Chris, Simon and I were now very much a group and we set off onto territory that between us we sort of knew at least a bit. Unfortunately we were so busy nattering that we forgot we needed to be on the north side of the valley. As it happened we ended up on a much better track although we did have some unnecessary climb up to Heptonstall. We found the little cliff edge path and suddenly the errant runner from above Ripponden appeared again. Arriving from our direction we found the CP near the church spot on and were soon on the Hobble route down to Horse Bridge. A caffeine gel had perked me up a little and we made quite good time up the hill to Pecket Well. We were a little unsure about the CP location but found it without too much fuss. After a false start up a private farm driveway we were headed up onto the final moor. It is a few years since I have run here and I should have receed this bit. We didn’t get it right and couldn’t find the nice trod that would take us across the top at the low point. The ‘extra miles man’ headed off on a contouring route and we did not see him again until we were finished and eating. It seemed daft to waste time and we knew roughly where we needed to be. Chris got his compass out and we searched out as many strips of burnt ground and short grass as we could. There were a few stretched of deep heather and more tussocks than Simon liked. The path along the fence on the northern side of the moor was awful and being impatient to leave it caused our next mistake. We headed off one footpath too early. Our error was soon obvious but it didn’t seem worth going back up. It added 500m and some climb but we were now on tracks that would lead us to Jerusalem Farm. The only food on offer was flapjack and I was done with sweet stuff. I could have murdered a hot pie but that wasn’t on the menu. The next two miles were mostly downhill but the tarmac and long day were taking their toll so we all took turns to walk a short section. We nattered a bit and Chris especially stayed very positive. We were lucky to get a break in traffic as we met the valley floor and found the canal tow path again. One mile would see us back at CP1. Chris now had the bit between his teeth and was starting to pull ahead. Simon stopped to walk when ever I did, but then found he had to jog to keep up with my walk pace. It made us laugh.  Him stopping also made me run and we reached the CP with Chris. One last mile up hill. We had been able to see the final climb for the last 4 miles as St Peter’s church is such a landmark. Chris was now about a minute ahead and I was getting my ‘I can see the finish’ last minute effort. I was determined to try to break 8 hours. I slowed very slightly in case Simon was not sure of the route to the back gate.

By my garmin it was 8:00:20 but the official time on my certificate says 7:58 so I will take that. Bob had finished the short route and was there ready to take a picture. I was very lucky that no fast ladies had entered the long route and so got 1000 Runfurther points as an unexpected bonus.

You can only beat those who turn up

What a great day out. Lovely scenery, great weather, well organised and fantastic company. I owe thanks to Chris and Simon for their company- it really made a difference especially in those last few miles and also to Daz for the middle section.
It was a good half and hour before I could face food but Bob plied me with cups of tea and then I was ready for my wonderful jacket potato and chilli. It was good to sit with a pint of shandy and cheer other runners in. A number of Runfurther members made it round… Nick, Mick, John T, Kevin, Elise, Jamie and more. Rory Harris won in an amazing 5 hrs 54 closely followed by Ken Sutor. David Chetta was 4th I think. Kevin Hoult was nursing an injury and so did the short route which he won with Mike Sellors in 2 hrs 40. It was good to see Mike and Barney again- they are the future and they have persuaded their girl friends to have a go. Sadly Dick and John V retired realising they would not make the cut-off and were probably just not fit enough to finish.

Lakes Mountain 42 2018 – updated 6 April

Ponies at Askham

Many thanks to Joe Faulkner and his team for putting the Lakes Mountain 42 on, despite the conditions.  The race was shortened to about 26 miles due to the snow/ice conditions, but it will still count as a Runfurther “Medium” race.  For a full race report, see Nick Ham’s write-up below.

Loadpot Hill

1st for the second year was Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn in 4:16.

2nd was Ken Sutor in 4:22.

3rd was Harvey Lord in 4:32.

4th was David Chetta in 4:40, with Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn just behind him, also given a time of 4:40. Katie was first woman.

2nd woman was Catherine Niblock, 28th overall in 5:40.

3rd woman was Catherine Litherland, 30th in 5:43.

Chris Davies was probably 1st V60, 15th overall in 5:18, so he’s going very well again this year.

V70 Dick Scroop finished with V60 John Vernon in an impressive 9:17.

The full results are on Joe’s blog.

Nick’s photos are up on Flickr here the photos here are Nick’s too.  Loads of snow.

Angle Tarn

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  21 runners have completed both races, and Ken Sutor heads the list once more, with Josie Greenhalgh currently first woman.  Seven of those 21 have not yet joined Runfurther, so if you know any of them, see if you can get them to sign up.  That’s:

  • Mel Steventon
  • Stephanie Illingworth
  • Mike Ernill
  • Sarah Jones
  • Rosie Jones
  • Max Howard
  • Paul Booth

Place Fell

And here’s Nick’s race report:

Lakes Mountain 42, Sat 31/03/2018 (Nick Ham’s report)

It’s Good Friday and I’m about to leave for Askham when an email notification arrives from Joe Faulkner at NAV4: tomorrow’s race will be shortened by removing the Helvellyn loop. We will reach CP4 at George Starkey Hut and do an about-turn for home via Place Fell. A quick check of my Tracklogs map showed that the distance would be 26 miles instead of 41 miles (provided we don’t go wrong). The change was forced by the ground conditions (refrozen compacted snow drifts near the peaks) with strong winds and more snow forecast during the race. I had been following the forecast avidly and I was not entirely surprised by this decision.

On Friday evening between registration in the community centre and dinner in the Queen’s Head next door, the Runfurther crew was completed by me, Kevin Smith, Chris Davies and Dick Scroop. If Karen and Bob hadn’t been off enjoying themselves elsewhere in even more wintery climes, they would surely have been there too. With NAV4 we know where to go to get a right good Ultra under our belts.

Because of the shortened route we had a lie-in on Saturday. Departure was delayed by 2 hours to 8am, making the start seem even more laid-back than usual even for NAV4. In anticipation of things to come, we all set off in full body cover and waterproofs. Only one or two were brave (or stupid) enough to set off in shorts and no extra leg cover. As expected I was soon overheating and had to unzip everything in sight and roll up coat sleeves to lose the excess heat and allow effort to extend to more than just walking.

As we slogged our way upwards towards the darkening and lowering cloud base, the last remnants of sunlight in the distance behind us vanished and the first of the snow squalls blew in on the Easterly wind. CP1 at Loadpot Hill (5.4 miles) was reached in 1hr 15mins. We were already in the cloud and zippage had been re-zipped to preserve heat. Onwards we continued in the direction of High Street, initially downwards but mostly upwards. I remember from last year’s crystal clear conditions veering right across a rough area seemingly off-path to pick up the path left to High Street. However, this year we were in thick cloud and, following the obvious path, found ourselves descending to the left when we all knew we had to keep high and to the right. We deviated back up to the right to regain the path and turn right up it. We must have overshot Kidsty Pike 90 degrees in the wrong direction to the left.

Finally we reached the left turn and out-and-back drag up to the High Street trig. Here we met other competitors on their way back, running and looking more energetic than I felt. The wind was howling and the snow was driving in hard. The bitter conditions meant that everything was zipped up and wrapped tight to sustain life. I had two layers of leg covering (one of them windproof & waterproof) and could not believe the few with bare legs in those conditions. I feared for their safety. CP2 at High Street (10.2 miles) was finally reached in 2hrs 28mins. (Unfortunately my camera was playing up so much I could not get a single decent photo anywhere near High Street.)

I was glad of the chance to descend again and run to generate some heat. Problem was, my vision was so obscured by snow and dampness on my glasses and by the thick fog (cloud), I couldn’t see clearly enough to run confidently. Onwards I shuffled with others overtaking me, eventually passing the point where we joined from the right and continuing ahead towards Angle Tarn. I remembered last year running by sight and having no problem with navigation. I remembered one path to follow that would take us there. However, we started to descend and others around me stopped and started to traverse right and upwards again across rough ground and across a stream gully. It transpired that we (and many others before and after us) had been merrily descending towards Hayeswater after going around The Knott instead of taking a non-obvious right fork towards Angle Tarn. For the second time, what could have been a serious navigational error was nipped in the bud. This time, having other walkers and mountain bikers on the path to show us where we should be was a big help. We hadn’t strayed too far.

As I stumbled rather clumsily along the footpath I kept my eyes peeled to the left for any glimpse of water through the murk, which could only mean Angle Tarn. Finally it came. There was tentage and a sign of human occupation. John Bamber had set up a safety camp there to help ensure that we didn’t miss the checkpoint. (He would normally have been stationed on a more remote part of the second loop.) CP3 at Angle Tarn isthmus (13.2 miles) was reached in 3hrs 21mins.

Onwards we continued descending left towards Patterdale. As I descended out of the cloud and wind and below the snow line it was luxurious to be feeling warm again. I met faster runners on their way back up towards Place Fell. It would be a long while until I’d be following in their footsteps. I arrived in Patterdale feeling toasty and quite content. CP4 at George Starkey Hut (15.4 miles) was reached in 4hrs dead.

I soon left CP4 to return from whence I came, cup of milky tea in hand with teabag stewing nicely in the bottom. Sarah Smith was running down as I was climbing back up. She seemed to be going well but had experienced the navigation woe of descending to Hayeswater on the way to Angle Tarn. I was still pondering on whether to take the direct route up to Place Fell like I did last year or take the longer roundabout path. Although the weather felt quite benign down here I knew what it was like up there, so I decided in favour of the safer footpath option (less chance of falling down a precipitously steep slope and more chance of being found if anything untoward did happen). Shortly after taking the ‘safe’ option, my right foot slipped off a rock and down into a stream gully. For a split second I saw myself falling down the gully but fortunately, instinct made me put all my weight on my crouching left leg while leaning to the left and putting my gloved hand in muddy water. I knew what that meant for later.

It would be my first time up the ‘official’ route, and what a shock it was. It dragged on. The weather deteriorated dramatically as we climbed back into the cloud and into the wind and the driven snow. Ups-and-downs and false summits towards the top made me think we’d missed the trig point. Although visibility was almost zero we were following a trodden path so I couldn’t imagine how we could have missed it. Finally we passed a small tarn on the left, which I remembered passing last year on my direct route to the summit. I looked ahead and, sure enough, the terrain was rising once again, this time to the ultimate summit with trig point on top. Another runner was sheltering just below the trig to get his tally out before venturing up into the melee to get it clipped. By the time I got there he’d done the business and I took up position in his shelter spot to do the same thing, making sure I had a firm grip of my maps, tally and two drinks bottles before climbing into the teeth of the frigid horribleness to puncture square number 9 with the red plastic mini bed of nails. The prior extra wetting of my glove meant extra cold hand – all the more difficult for punching with. CP9 at Place Fell (17.4 miles) was reached in 5hrs 5mins.

It was impossible to know which way to go from Place Fell trig, so map and compass were pressed into service. We needed to go north-easterly. The compass bearing soon brought us to the trodden path we had to follow. We descended steadily to leave the snow, cloud and wind behind for the final time. Warmth soon returned to my hands and we could actually see where we were going again. A warm contended feeling flowed through me as we ran the steep but runnable descent to the Boredale valley, this time not missing the stile into the farmer’s field.

Past Martindale Church we went (no clip there this year) and onwards via the most direct route towards Askham. In the last few miles a lively Irish pair (Cormac MacDonnell and Robbie Heffernan) caught up with me. The upbeat tone of their banter and their relative speed told me that they were well fuelled and in good shape. They gradually pulled away to finish 9 minutes ahead of me. Finally it was my turn to run between the fell ponies back down into Askham, guided back to the rear entrance of Askham Community Centre by the Runfurther flag beckoning over the wall. I was pleased to complete the 26 miles (plus nav. errors) in ~7hrs 19mins, which was roughly as I had predicted. I was even more pleased to win a spot prize of a Mountain Fuel gift pack (Mountain Fuel is Runfurther’s newest sponsor). I really like that stuff; it formed my main fuel and hydration strategy throughout the event. It works.

Perusal of the results informed me of phenomenal performances once again by ‘those who can’ at the top of the field.

1st for the second year was Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn in 4:16.

2nd was Ken Sutor in 4:22.

3rd was Harvey Lord in 4:32.

4th was David Chetta, with Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn just behind him, also given at time of 4:40. Katie was first woman.

V70 Dick Scroop finished with V60 John Vernon in an impressive 9:17. Knowing what the conditions were like on the summits, I had been concerned about Dick but I needn’t have worried. What an inspiration they are.

After enjoying the NAV4 soup, tea and cake, the evening was whiled away with fellow runners in the Queen’s Head with live band letting rip in the back room. I’m glad to say that conversation remained just about possible.

Final note: Joe Faulkner and the NAV4 safety team were spot on with their decision to shorten the race. At lower altitude we have no idea what it’s like up top and the less experienced might question their decision. They know. They were right.

Descending to Boredale