Sponsors for the 2019 Series:









 

Round Rotherham 50 2019

The race

And so we come to looking at the final Runfurther 2019 event – the Round Rotherham 50.  A gruelling 50 miles round Rotherham in South Yorkshire, with complex routefinding, plenty of mud this year, and not many hills.  Yet again it made for a brilliant climax to the Runfurther championship.  Only Rory Harris could afford to take it easy, and needless to say he didn’t.

So, to the race results.  The outstanding performance of the day was Ben Hague’s winning time of 5:57:18.  This is the first time anyone’s ever run the race in under 6 hours, and Ben broke his own record time from last year.  Rory finished second, but was half an hour behind Ben, in a time of 6:28:05.  Third was Scott Williams in 6:57:32 – both Ben and Scott are local runners, members of Rotherham Harriers.  Fourth and fifth were Ken Sutor and Kevin Hoult, both previous men’s winners of the race.  And sixth was Sabrina Verjee in 7:47:41.  This has to be the second most impressive run of the day, as it was her first time running in the event, and this really wasn’t her usual running territory – she’s a brilliant mountain runner but not really known for navigating round industrial estates.  Clearly she can do that too, although she did set off with Kevin Hoult, so she may have had some assistance with the navigation for some of the way.  Anyway, she was less than 10 minutes outside the women’s record for the event (Kate Bailey, 7:38:02 in 2010).  Second woman was Elly Woodhead (9:00:03) and third Karen Nash (9:04:05), both well over an hour behind Sabrina.  Full results are up on the Sportident results site.

Karen will no doubt write up her blog shortly, and I’ll update this with that when she’s had the time to do it.  Nick Ham finished in a respectable time, which was good to see after his recent health problems.  As usual he took photos along the way, and I’ve used some here, although not any of his flytipping ones.  You can find the rest of them on Nick’s Flickr site.

Runfurther Championship results

And so I can now reveal the winners of the Runfurther 2019 competition.  Subject to appeal over the Rotherham results of course.  This year I’m going to start with the women.

Women’s winners

1st:  Sabrina Verjee, 3948 points

2nd:  Hayley Evans (Buckley Runners), 3857 points

3rd:  Karen Nash (Team Krypton), 3853 points

I don’t think there’ll be much arguing that the best runner won this year.  Sabrina was actually first woman in four Runfurther races this year, although only three of these were counters, as none of them was a Short race.  Hayley beat her in the Lakeland Five Passes race, but this was just after Sabrina’s Ramsay Round and Dragon’s Back runs, which must have taken a lot out of her.  Sabrina beat Hayley in the Lakes 42, and has beaten Karen in all five of the Runfurther races they both finished.  Hayley beat Karen in both Lakes races, the only two events they both ran.

FV50

1st:  Karen Nash (Team Krypton), 3853 points

2nd:  Jenny Wyles (Chorley Athletic and Tri), 3148 points

As usual, Karen’s first FV50 by a country mile.  Well done to Jenny though, as that’s a very good points score.  She got almost as many points as Martin Terry, the MV50 winner.

FV60

1st:  Janet Hill (Springfield Striders), 2988 points

Well done Janet!  Again, that’s an impressive points score.  I suspect Janet won’t have any real competition until Karen turns 60, but who knows who will run next year?

Men’s winners

1st:  Rory Harris, 3987 points

2nd:  David Chetta (Mercia Fell Runners), 3835 points

3rd:  Kevin Hoult (Calder Valley Fell Runners), 3829 points

Rory was 3rd in 2017 and 2nd last year.  He’s been running better and better, and this year he’s won the title with room to spare.  Congratulations to Rory.  David was 4th in 2017, and 3rd last year, so presumably he’s aiming to win in 2020!  Again he’s been improving year by year.  Kevin was close behind him, but would have needed a much faster run at Rotherham to overtake him.

MV50

1st:  Martin Terry (Clayton-le-Moors Harriers), 3169 points

2nd:  Kevin Smith, 2888 points

3rd:  Steve Jones (Dark Peak Fell Runners), 2700 points

Well Martin always wins this category.  Kevin comes 2nd again, as he did last year.

MV60

1st: Alwyn Nixon, 2770 points

2nd:  Stephen Hall (Skipton AC), 2249 points

For the second year running, Alwyn wins, and Stephen is second.

MV70

Dick Scroop (Mercia Fell Runners), 1762 points

After two years as runner up to Bob Nash, Dick wins this year, as Bob hasn’t run a Long race this year.

Grand Slams

Nobody managed a Grand Slam of all 12 races this year.  Let’s hope that changes for 2020!

Most points

Women:  Karen Nash (Team Krypton), 7353 points

Men:  David Chetta (Mercia Fell Runners), 6463 points

Team Championship

1st:  Team Krypton (Karen Nash, Nick Ham and Elise Milnes), 7952 points

2nd:  Astley & Tyldesley Road Runners (Tim Campbell, Simon Ford and David Sloan), 7861 points

3rd:  Valley Striders AC (Anthony Fryer, Sarah Smith and Tim Straughan), 7421 points

Many congratulations to all this year’s winners!  And to the rest of you: keep training and beat them next year!  The full completed 2019 leaderboard has been finalised, and you can find that here.

The 2019 AGM and prizegiving location, date and time will be announced shortly, so keep checking this website.  The same goes for the 2020 races.

Three Towers Ultra 2019

The Race

This was the penultimate Runfurther race for 2019, and was a hard 43 miles round the Lancashire moors.  65 started the race, 52 finished officially, with 2 more missing a CP on the way.  Ken Sutor finished first on 7:27:00, Dave Beales was second in 7:33:39, and David Chetta third in 7:47:09.  First woman home was Fiona Lynch in 9:03:52, 8th place overall and a great run.  Karen Nash was second woman, 4 minutes behind Fiona, and third was Sarah Hobson in 10:19:00.  As usual Karen has written up her run, and you can find it on her blog, or lower down on this post.  No Nick Ham, so there won’t be any photos from him this time: the photos here are Karen’s.  The full results don’t seem to be up yet, but when they are you should find them here.

Karen Nash (left) & Fiona Lynch

Runfurther results

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  There’s till quite a lot to be decided at the final race of the year, the Round Rotherham 50 on Saturday (12 October).  We’ve got a good idea of who’s running at Rotherham, as the entry list is online (Sientries), and online entries have now closed.  However, just because someone’s entered doesn’t mean they’ll turn up.  And just because someone turns up, doesn’t mean they’ll run as well or poorly as anyone expects.  And just to add to that, it looks like there’ll be entries on the day anyway.  Here’s how things stand:

The men

First man this year is Rory Harris.  He’s already got 3987 points, and nobody else can catch him.  Second and third places are going to be between David Chetta, Kevin Hoult and Ken Sutor.  Kevin and Ken both have form at Rotherham, and both have entered.  As yet, David hasn’t entered the race.  If the three of them were to win at Rotherham in a dead heat, Ken would be second in the Runfurther champs, and Kevin third.  David wouldn’t have to be far in front of Kevin to overtake him though.  They’d both have to finish well in front of Ken to beat him to second place.

The MV50 title is probably going to be Martin Terry’s again this year, by the look of things.  Kevin Smith could catch him theoretically, but he’d have to run an unlikely time at Rotherham to do it.  Ed Gamble could catch Martin with a good run at Rotherham, but he hasn’t entered as yet.  Martin has, and Ed would have to finish well in front of him to take the title.  Assuming Ed doesn’t run, Kevin Smith will probably be second, and Steven Jones third.  Colin Williams could beat them, but he’d have to run well at Rotherham, and he hasn’t entered.

Alwyn Nixon will be the MV60 winner.  He can be caught in theory by Ken Wyles winning the race at Rotherham, but I’m sure Ken would be the first to agree that’s not very likely to happen!  And anyway, Ken’s not entered the race.  Stephen Hall has entered though, but he can’t catch Alwyn.

Bob Nash is currently the leading MV70, with Dick Scroop not far behind him.  Both have run three counters, and need to finish at Rotherham to make it four.  So far Dick has entered but Bob hasn’t.

The women

There are currently three contenders for the overall women’s title.  Sabrina Verjee has 3948 points, Hayley Evans has 3857 points, and Karen Nash has 3778 points.  Nobody else can catch them, but it’s anyone’s guess what order they’re going to finish in after Rotherham: it’s a bit complicated.  Even though Sabrina can’t gain any more points whatever she does, she can do a lot to determine the finishing order.  Hayley can’t catch her, and anyway she’s not entered Rotherham as yet.  Karen can still win the Runfurther title though, if she is first woman at Rotherham or if she is close to the first woman.  Karen has to score 955 points at Rotherham to draw level with Sabrina.  Sabrina and Karen have both entered the race.  Sabrina is a faster runner than Karen, but Karen knows the route, and has been first woman in two of the past three years.  I don’t think Sabrina has run the race before, and she’s more used to navigating the hills than around town.  If Karen runs at the same speed she ran last year (when she was first woman), Sabrina could only take the title by finishing 24 minutes or more ahead of Karen (unless another woman does, which is probably less likely).  And if she has a big enough margin over Karen, she could even push Karen down into third place, even if Hayley doesn’t run.  So is all that clear to everyone?  Didn’t think so, but it’s the best I can do.

The women’s vets winners are thankfully pretty clear.  Karen is first MV50 as usual.  Sarah Smith would also have four counters should she finish at Rotherham, but she hasn’t entered as yet.  Janet Hill is once again first FV60.

The teams

Four teams are still in contention for the team championship.  Astley & Tyldesley RR lead currently with 7861 points, but none of their runners have entered at Rotherham.  Valley Striders are second with 7421 points, and again none of their runners have entered the last race.  Third are Team Krypton with 7331 points, and Karen Nash and Nick Ham have both entered the race.  If Nick finishes the race, then Team Krypton will probably overtake Valley Striders.  They could even overtake Astley & Tyldesley, particularly if Karen also finishes first woman, or close to first woman.  Mercia could finish first too, in theory, but in practice the best they can hope for is second, which they could possibly manage if Dick Scroop runs his socks off at Rotherham and Nick Ham doesn’t finish.

By the way, please take all the above predictions with a pinch of salt in case I’ve calculated something incorrectly.

The AGM and presentations for 2019

…not much to say here, but as soon as the arrangements are finalised and Karen’s let’s me know what they are, then I’ll be posting them to the website!

Karen’s race report

3 Towers Ultra

Should be easy- local to home, mostly over moors I know, only 44 miles….. Ha Ha. Despite it being local we drove across in the van on Friday evening so that we could sort out flags and banners etc. Just as well because there were not many places to hang things.

I might know most of the area but not the myriad of rarely used paths that some of this route followed. Fortunately I had done a Howler recee for the second half and checked out some of the rest on my own. Yes, only 44 miles but that means some fast running and my body has become rather accustomed to stomping up very big hills or rock climbing. It was going to be tough.
Luckily some things did go my way. The weather forecast that had been pretty dire earlier in the week changed and in the end it was dry until early evening when most of us had finished. It was very wet and boggy underfoot but what’s new on the South Pennine moors and soft ground helps my foot too. I was hoping I would have the company of some guides over the first few miles and this worked out too; well mostly.

Start line

We stumbled along over tussocks and ditches in the dark for about 30 minutes until sunrise but there was a line of local runners to follow. I picked the wrong runners to follow and did a quick visit to Darwen cemetery but we didn’t lose much time there.

Not from today- I had no camera and the sky was not that blue

Once up at the Tower (aka Lancashire’s rocket) I knew the way and could relax.

A nice run down to Slipper Lower, through the woods, across the road and up over Great Hill.

Great Hill

All familiar ground- and I have missed these moors after an absence of two months. There was still one short footpath after White Coppice that I had never been on before though.
I would have been happy on my own but had the intermittent company of several runners including Tim C who was recovering from an injury and taking it easy. Running off Great Hill and down to the cricket ground I spotted David and Laura from Sportsunday photos- I bet they were glad it wasn’t raining. Before long CP1 at Jepson gate appeared. Somehow I was first lady? The next section had some fiddly bits and I am still not sure the best way through the boggy areas and up to Sheephouse Lane. Familiar ground around Rivington  and Winter Hill was straight forward and then CP2.

Winter Hill in the distance- we went up there too

I stopped here to refill bottles and eat a bit but I knew I had not really been eating enough- I struggle as soon as the pace increases and never really fancy much anyway. I was on my own from here through to CP3 as faster men had slowly pulled ahead. It was now warm and I stopped again to refill a bottle and eat again. I was still first lady at CP3 which was puzzling as I was sure Fiona was ahead.
After commiserating with Dick who had pulled out with a serious shoe malfunction I set off for our third tower above Ramsbottom- Peel Tower.

Peel Tower- Howler recee run

I was starting to struggle now and knew I needed to run more but just couldn’t do it. I like these moorland tops but my legs were heavy. After the drop to CP4 I slowed even more and then there was another drop to Book 1- The Long Way Home (you have to return with a page Barkley style.

Recee so I knew where to find the book

As I turned to trudge back up hill a grinning Fiona came flying down. She looked so fresh and was obviously overjoyed to have caught me. She had lost at least 20 minutes getting lost somewhere between Darwen Tower and CP1. She seemed to bounce away along the path and I tried to tell my tired body that once it was contouring I could run too.

Dry paths on the recee

I estimated that he gap was only about 4 minutes as I spotted her ahead and timed myself to that point. Book 2 was down a slightly hidden and overgrown path. Fiona couldn’t find it. With only a slight error and one fence climb I led about 5 runners safely in. As we left the Haslingden area and turned for the final boggy moor Fiona upped the pace yet again. I tried to keep her in sight but lost her at the road crossing. I found the tiny overgrown path and stopped to pick a few raspberries- yes I know it was a race… and then knew it was only 10 minutes or so to the finish. I was going to be outside 9 hours and would not catch Fiona so the raspberries seemed a worth while treat.

No chance of me in shorts today

Stu from Howlers had set up a gazebo in the pub car park and Bob was there with the Runfurther boards and prizes. 9hrs 7 and about 3 minutes behind Fiona. It was good to stand there and cheer other runners in.

Today’s effort had hurt. After a cup of tea, soup and a rest I treated myself to a massage. A good day out for Runfurther runners with Ken taking first man, David having a good run plus Fiona first woman and then me.

Also thanks to the landlady for letting us ‘camp’ in the car park and put the flags where ever we liked. Also for the awesome double fried egg bap for breakfast. Nice little pub if you are in the area.

Beacons 100 update

The question of how to award Runfurther points for the abandoned Beacons 100 race has now been sorted out (we think).  Many runners battled on for over 20 hours before the race was abandoned, and we were pretty uncomfortable about not awarding points for the race.  We have decided the fairest approach would be to give points to those runners who were still running at the time the race was abandoned.  To make it simpler we’re just doing this for Runfurther members, unless anyone else wants us to work their points out as well.

As far as we know, there were only two Runfurther members still going when the race was abandoned: David Chetta and Steve Jones.  David’s last checkpoint time was at CP6, at which point he was leading the race.  Steve’s last checkpoint time was at CP4.  We have therefore decided to award David 1000 points, and Steve 633 points, worked out from their respective times at CP4, which was the last point we could compare their running speeds.  If anyone else was still racing when the race was abandoned and wants their points, then let me know, and I’ll work out their points too.

This has given both David and Steve a few more Runfurther points, but hasn’t made a big difference as they both have four counters without this race.  I’ve updated the leaderboard accordingly.

Good luck to everyone running the Three Towers on Saturday!

Dig Deep 30 2019

No photos or race reports as yet for this one, but the results are up, and I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard.

There were 117 finishers, and the first of them to get to the end was Marcin Zeleski in 4:34:20.  Second was Craig Muress in 4:46:12, third was James Body in 4:49:08, and the only other runner to finish in under 5 hours was David Chetta.  First woman was Fran Cummins, 7th overall in an excellent time of 5:04:03.  Second woman was Jo Pearce in 5:44:23, and third was Amy Sarkies finishing 3 seconds later, so they may well have been running together.

Bullock Smithy Hike 2019 – updated 23 Sept

The Hike

The results are up on the hike website.  Kevin Hoult’s time has been corrected since those times were posted originally, and I’ve now updated the Runfurther leaderboard to match.  Rory Harris finished in a blistering 8:10, making Runfurther points hard to come by for all the other men on the hike.  Kevin Hoult finished second in 8:52, then Lawrence Eccles came in third in 9:17.  Next to finish in 10:21 were Jayne Lawton and Richard Kendall, making Jayne the first woman home by over two hours.  Coming in together in 23rd place were Sophie Kirk and Stephanie Wood in 12:34.

From Kevin Hoult: “Perfect weather conditions for a long run and the usual well organised and marshalled event you would expect.”  Apart from that I’ve got no information about how the hike went, but Nick Ham was on the DNF list, so I hope he’s OK.  He pulled out due to his recurrent vertigo problem (the illness, not a fear of heights).  He did get some photos before he had to stop though, and you can find them on his Flickr site.  As usual I’ve borrowed a couple to use here.

Nigel Aston wrote up his run (his 16th completion), and you can read that here.  Karen’s away so wasn’t at the event.

Runfurther championship standings

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard.  Rory Harris is looking unassailable for this year’s men’s title, although theoretically he could still be beaten by anyone who’s already won any of this year’s races.  Kevin Hoult is looking a safe bet for second place.  David Chetta is currently third with good headroom over those behind him, and is the most likely to finish in third place.

Sabrina Verjee is still looking good for this year’s women’s title, but I wouldn’t put it past Karen Nash to finish first woman at Rotherham and one of the other two remaining races.  If she does that, and Sabrina doesn’t win one of the remaining races, then Karen will probably win out.  Hayley Evans is in a similar position to Karen, and could also end up champion, but I’ve no idea whether she’s going to be trying to win any of the remaining races – Karen’s got form and if I know her she’ll probably be intending to give it a go.  Anyway, Hayley needs a win at the Three Towers and one of the other two races to overhaul Sabrina.

Karen’s got the women’s V50 title in the bag as usual, and Janet Hill the women’s V60, again not for the first time.  Martin Terry looks set for another MV50 title.  No V60 or V70 men have run four counters yet, but the most likely contenders are Alwyn Nixon and Bob Nash respectively – Alwyn needs to run the Dig Deep 30, and Bob needs to run at Rotherham to make up the counters.

Valley Striders are currently heading the team championship, with Team Krypton close behind.

Beacons 50/100 2019

The weather made mincemeat of the Beacons 100 at the weekend, with torrential rain and gales overnight on Friday, leading to the race being abandoned.  Karen’s race report (below and also on her blog) gives a pretty good account of how horrendous it was.  There are a few photos in her account, but they are from recces beforehand!

So, no points for anyone in the 100, due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control.  Our condolences for everyone hoping for some well-earned Runfurther points.

The 50 went ahead on Saturday, with some route changes to avoid some of the high ground.  48 of the 61 starters finished.  First home was Daniel Weller in 9:38:59, 2nd was David Atkinson in 10:15:57, and 3rd was Victor Kotai in 10:55:21.  Bryn Evans and Hayley Evans finished just seconds behind Victor, so I imagine they were running together in the final stages.  Hayley was of course first woman home.  Hannah Hopkinson finished 10th in 12:36:52, and Margarita Felixberger was 13th in 13:01:14.  Full results are up on Sientries.

There were only a handful of Runfurther members running in the 50, so I’ll leave an analysis of who’s going up and down in the race for championship until after the next race.  In the meantime I’ve updated the leaderboard.

Karen’s race report

The Beacons 100 (Up Hill Down Dale)

Race report for UpHillDownDale Beacons 100 (and 50)

What a difference a day or two makes.

Black Mountain, love it

 

Wednesday 18 mile was a recee of CP5-7 in gorgeous weather. The views along the edges were superb and from midday the sun came out. I saw very few people on this western edge of the Beacons area – The Black Mountain.

Bad hair, but what a view

The paths were good and despite a massive descent and re-ascent at CP6 I really enjoyed my day out. It was varied terrain with some relatively pathless sheep trod moorland, the big edges and then the limestone of Dan yr Ogof.

I ran slowly to conserve my energy and thought it would be a section of the race to look forward to.

Thursday I did CP7-8 plus a bit more before deciding it was too hot to run.

Again the route seemed fairly straight forward but I was happy to know what was coming up. It was a section I had run a few years ago but in reverse and in the company of others so taking less notice.

Blue sky, shame it didn’t last

There seemed little point going down to the river crossing and then up the impossibly steep slope. There were no paths and I could see what had to be done. Instead I lay in the sun.

Straight down from where I was sat, cross the river and up the other side. Ouch.

It was going to be a tough route. I had recently looked at the results for the previous two years and been alarmed at the number of DNFs and the slow times for 100 miles (31 hours plus).

Race day. Ah well. Wind and rain for much of the day but it was on off and certainly wouldn’t be much of an issue for the race. After hours of reading in the van and reminiscing about Might Contain Nuts races from the Outdoor Ed Centre we moved to Crickhowell and got all the Runfurther gear sorted- flags and banners up, display boards and spot prizes out in the hall, a few prizes for the RO and then time to chat. I didn’t know many of the other runners but Steve Jones was there with plenty of time to spare too. I was dressed to run, my drop bag handed in and I just wanted to get going. It was going to be a tough course with the night coming early with all the low cloud. Perhaps I should have done a recee of this first 20 mile loop but I guessed that near the start there would be other runners around me.

MR believed the weather forecast ie.that the worst of the rain had passed and we would just have strong winds. Not true. At 8pm on our start line the rain started. I opted to put on my big heavy weight cag there and then. Correct decision. An hour later it was torrential bringing early dark and very very low vis. At this stage the wind was on our backs. I made my first mistake of allowing others to use their GPS and rely on them, first error. We were off line and lost some time to the amusement of those I later ran past. The last section to CP1 went well and even though I was on my own and no real idea of where I was heading the GPS seemed to say all was OK. Soon a couple of glow sticks confirmed I was close to the CP. The volunteers there made me feel good about myself and after a bite to eat I set off after Fiona who was about 20 minutes ahead they said. Despite the wind and rain I enjoyed CP1-2 and was making good time. It was a shame not to get the views but at least the nav here seemed easy as I ran along the ridge, picked up the Beacons Way and was on a nice wide grassy path with deep bracken on each side. I made a silly error entering the village at CP2 but soon put it right and found the guys waiting on the canal tow path. More food and the realisation that in 20 miles I had not had a drink. The tow path was easy; flat, no nav and just a bit overgrown and puddle. Bob and the van were waiting at the tunnel where he knew I would leave the tow path and meet the road. A swift cup of tea and I was off. The rain seemed to get worse but low down I was sheltered from the wind. I knew to leave the CP at the White Hart in Tal y bont but think I made a slight error on a parallel path next to the Taff Trail. I arrived at the dam OK and sort of knew where I was going on the next bit. I saw two torches behind me and now wished I had waited and grouped with them. The hillside was running with water and obscuring paths. By Waun Rydd I was getting blown all over and a bit scared. The path kept vanishing and I couldn’t stand up properly. Making forward progress was difficult. From then on the rain just got worse, torrential and non-stop. The wind became gales. I lost the path on the way down having taken my eye of the garmin to try to keep my balance. Even that failed and a strong gust blew me face first into a huge pond or puddle. More swearing and now I was soaked. I lost the path but decided to just keep heading down. It meant some bracken bashing and the two torches over took me during all this. I have only had my eTrex a short while and not used it much. It kept turning off when I wanted it. I climbed gates and headed down to the lane and the village. I had given no thought to eating or drinking yet again. I was scared getting off the hill down to CP3 but then proud to have done so and so continued. The CP was a van and I sheltered inside with a brew and stuffed down a huge pile of sweet potato I had been carrying. I was shivering but knew Bob and the van would be down in Brecon; not far and on lanes and tow path. Initially I struggled to get going on the lane as my cold muscles had seized up but by the tow path I was moving better and dawn was cheering me up. I found Bob and had yet another brew plus a marmite sandwich. Time to crack on and make use of the day light. The Usk was looking impressive as I crossed the bridge and started the climb towards the hills. I wasn’t moving very fast but I was at least moving forward. I had seen no runners close enough to speak to for hours and hours. The lanes seemed cruel as they headed down to streams when I knew really we needed to be going up and up onto the Beacons. The rain had washed out the hedges and the road was littered with debris from the water and huge branches brought down by the gales. As I left the relative shelter of the lanes the real force of the storm struck me. I did think about turning back on the first big wide low ridge but thought it would be soft. Higher up it just got worse and worse. I could barely stand up, moving forward was exhausting and I was worried about the tops. I nearly turned round and perhaps should have done. On the way up face into the wind I was drenched, blown all over the place and getting chilled due to my slow progress. By the top I was scared. Contouring away from Pen y Fan helped but not enough. I was blown over into the grass well over 100 times, I stopped counting.. After 45 mins on the top I knew I just had to get off and I didn’t really car which way. I put GPS and maps away and headed downhill on the least bouldery land I could find. I was blown over onto a rock which kindly gave me a dead thigh for a while. Should I have stopped, concentrated and tried to make it down the correct way? I will never know but I did know I wanted to avoid the rock path at all costs at least until I dropped out the worst of the wind. I soon realised I was heading down towards CP8 instead. I didn’t care. I was safer and the wind was less fierce. I hit the road at CP8 just as Jonny the RO drove by. This gave me a short ride up the road to CP4. If I had run up the road could I have continued? Probably but I am not sure it would have been sensible. I piled into Otto’s van and found Fiona who had been 1st lady changing into dry clothes. She like me had been blown all over, got scared and was too cold to continue. As the gas heater roared we were shivering badly. We agreed that it was SMJ and tried to make each other feel better. I never reached the part I had receed and never got to make the most of the day light and decent paths that I knew. Bob had been waiting in the van over the hill at CP5. In fact he had been trying to get some much needed sleep when he spotted the tracker and asked the CP staff what was going on. He came to my rescue and we drove a short way to a quiet layby and fell into bed. Thank god for the van.

By the time we woke the rain had eased to the extent there were some gaps in the heavy showers but the wind seemed just as bad. All the rain had of course swollen the streams and rivers. David had made it over to CP6 but it had taken him a long time and he had been confused by the diversion. He was at CP7 when he was stopped. Almost a dozen left CP4 and made it to CP5 before they were stopped. The Mountain Rescue pulled the plug. It is likely if the weather forecast had actually been accurate that we may never have started, certainly not on our planned route.

Not much path and a river to cross – memories of the OMM

The 50 miler set off on Saturday morning and so with more knowledge of the conditions they were serious rerouted away from the tops and any river crossings. I believe they went through the col to the east of Cribyn and the down the valley to the south rather than along the ridge south. They missed out Tor y Foel hill and went down the Taff trail to Tal-y-bont and back along the canal. They still got a long race but not those tops. Many finished at it must still have been a tough day out.

So another DNF. 2019 is proving to be a tough year despite some good runs as well. It seems whenever I take on a race that makes us change our holiday plans it goes a bit wrong. In NZ my race meant a big detour back across the South Island. This time it meant we stayed in the UK instead of heading off to the sun in the van. I just hope diverting from France and the Pyrenees to go to the Tor des Geants goes better. (Yes, feeling a bit low and fragile).

Pennine 39 2019 – updated 25 June

Greg’s Hut, Cross Fell

The Pennine 39 results aren’t up on the Nav4 site yet, as I write this, but Joe’s sent them to us, so here they are:

1 39 Ken Sutor Male 46 MV40 05:31
2 12 Stuart Fludger Male 46 MV40 06:32
3 27 Karen Nash Female 58 FV50 07:00
4 33 Steve Rivers Male 50 MV50 07:10
5 46 Colin Williams Male 55 MV50 07:20
6 6 Ian Challans Male 38 M 07:21
7 40 Chris Timms Male 38 M 07:22
8 35 Chris Sandison Male 47 MV40 07:24
9 31 David Owen Male 44 MV40 07:28
10 30 Geoff Osbaldestin Male 46 MV40 07:39
11 20 Ben Holmes Male 37 M 07:45
12 18 Charles Hazlerigg Male 34 M 07:48
13 38 Peter Sowerby Male 57 MV50 07:58
14 44 David Ward Male 46 MV40 08:04
15 1 Jason Allen Male 47 MV40 08:06
16 34 Neil Robinson Male 48 MV40 08:06
17 3 Rick Ansell Male 59 MV50 08:41
18 13 Katie Godfrey Female 27 F 08:44
19 22 Mohammed Sharif Jallad Male 27 M 08:47
20 45 Neil Wilkes Male 43 MV40 08:49
21 2 Simon Andreassen Male 52 MV50 08:57
22 4 Kim Ashworth Female 29 F 09:06
23 15 Louise Greenwood Female 49 FV40 09:06
24 50 Jenny Wyles Female 54 FV50 09:07
25 51 Ken Wyles Male 60 MV60 09:07
26 5 Paul Booth Male 43 MV40 09:13
27 9 Owain Davies Male 37 M 09:14
28 23 Rosie Jones Female 39 F 09:14
29 17 Nick Ham Male 55 MV50 09:27
30 42 Gareth Tosh Male 57 MV50 09:32
31 7 Michael Cottam Male 56 MV50 09:35
32 8 Richard Craig Male 43 MV40 09:46
33 11 John Figiel Male 53 MV50 09:54
34 19 Janet Hill Female 64 FV60 10:11
35 29 Sara Ordway Female 39 F 10:38
36 41 Nicky Torr Female 45 FV40 11:04
37 49 David Wyatt Male 46 MV40 11:04
38 24 Debbie McCart Female 57 FV50 11:27
39 25 Mel McCart Male 58 MV50 11:27
40 36 Richard Scroop Male 72 MV70 11:39
41 28 Robert Nash Male 75 MV70 12:03
42 43 John Vernon Male 68 MV60 12:03
43 14 Julie Graham Female 50 FV50 13:05
44 26 Elise Milnes Female 59 FV50 13:05

Ken Sutor won again, a few minutes slower than last year.  Karen Nash was first woman again, a few minutes faster than last year.  I suspect Ken may have been a bit slower this year because he didn’t have Rory Harris hard on his heels this time.  Stuart Fludger was 2nd, an hour behind Ken, and Karen finished 3rd, half an hour behind Stuart, in 7 hours dead.  Once more it was a select field turning out for this great race, with only 44 finishers.  I suspect it’s the remote location that keeps the numbers down.

Karen’s race report is up on her blog, and as usual I have copied it here too (see below).  Nick was there this time, and his photos are up on his Flickr site.  The photos here are his as well, apart from the top one.

Good to see Ken running well, and if he runs more Runfurther races he could be challenging Rory for the 2019 Runfurther title.  The same goes for Karen.  Although she’s a slower runner than Sabrina (who’s beaten Karen three times this year), she could well end up with four 1000-point counters again this year, if she keeps up her good form.  There are still three Long races to go, and if she’s first woman in two of them, she’ll have the maximum 4000 points again.  Sabrina can only match that by being first woman in the Dig Deep 30 in September.

Karen’s race report

Nav4 Pennine 39 (a race or a social weekend)

Actually it was both, but no surprises there really. I love Nav4 events- always great scenery, interesting route, superb CPs and post race food and loads of lovely people.
Our weekend started early on Friday with a rapid drive to Romneys in Kendal to collect mint cake for Runfurther.

Mint cake for all the remaining Runfurther races

Then it was a dash back to Hutton Roof to climb. The forecast had promised warmth and some sun but the reality was cool, breezy and some sun. Off came the shorts and one went the long tights and a few more top layers.

Spot the continent

Still we managed 10 climbs on the little crags and it let me practice placing trad gear again and getting some faith that the gear would actually hold me if it had to. By late afternoon we were driving to Keswick for our second collection of the weekend.

Eco new bags for Mountain Fuel

This time Mountain Fuel from Rupert. With the van loaded up we then drove to Alston, ignoring the road closed signs when we spotted cars travelling in both directions high up on the fellside. By 7pm all the flags and banners plus display boards were up and spot prizes displayed.

Alston YHA- what a great venue

After a quick meal in the van we joined Dick, Nick and John in the pub for a brief committee meeting.
It was a fairly leisurely start and plenty of time to be ready for the bus to the start at 8am. As I stood in the sunshine it was already warm, although not as hot as last year. Ken Sutor was running so the means Runfurther point would take a hammering but I wasn’t sure about the women. There were some I did not know and I ‘worried’ over whether they were fast. This was the fourth running of the race and I have done it every year. The first year we raced down the little field to the gates and over the bridge, then the next year we walked slowly and carefully across the failing bridge and last year we took a long detour walk to reach the other side. This year some paths were closed due to filming but at 9am on Saturday it was deserted. We were able to revert to the original start from just off the road. Race briefing was quiet and quick. We were off. I charged the first field to make sure I didn’t get stuck at the gates or the bridge – plenty of time to slow down a little on the riverside path.
The first stretch on the Pennine Way follows the river and you get glimpses of the waterfalls, including the spectacular High Force. The path is very runnable with just a few trip hazards. It then crosses pleasant farmland to the first bridge over the Tees before hugging the riverside below cliffs of Falcon Crags most of the way to Cauldron Snout.

Cauldron Snout

This section is scattered with rocks and most have been worn smooth by the river of millions of feet on the PW. Time to slow down and take care. As it tumbles down from Cow Green reservoir and over Whin Sill the flow is always impressive. It was all constructed as the outflow to take water down the Tees without the expense and ugliness of a pipe. A short scramble up the rocks and we were at CP1.

Ros at CP1

I was on my own. I could see a bright green vest ahead and knew that in front of that were Ken and Ilkley man. Behind me I could see orange vest but not much else. I couldn’t see any women but maybe they were running a cautious race with a speedy second half.  Before long I ceased worrying and just enjoyed the day. Running alone I kept a steady and more sustainable pace than sometimes. I was really having fun. Even the track to Birkdale and beyond didn’t seem so bad and I amused myself with memories from exactly a month ago when I was running the opposite direction in the dark and the rain during the Hadrian 100. After the pull up to 600m or so you get the lovely reward of turning off the vehicle track and running on grass. Happy feet again. I love this section towards the bridge over Maize Beck and the stunning High Cup Nick and even before you get there the views are lovely. The area is so quiet compared to the Lakes and the bird life is brilliant. I made good time to the Nick and although I didn’t stop I did soak in the views as I concentrated on staying ahead of orange shirt man. The next section is a rapid 400m plunge down to Dufton with views into the Lake District. It starts on grass but even once you reach the track there is plenty of grass verge. By now there were a number of walkers heading up the hill and most were congratulating us. I resisted the temptation to steal the post van that had been left idling at the top of the lane and knew I could be at the CP slightly ahead of schedule. Lins and Mel were in charge. My water bottle was taken and refilled- I added more Mountain Fuel powder and grabbed melon, tomatoes, crisps and cheese. I love real food at CP. I set off at a slow jog munching cheese and tomatoes. As I was leaving orange shirt man was just arriving.
The next climb to Knock Old Man is a beat all the way up to 794m. It was warm and steamy but not as hot as last year. The streams all had more water in than I remember so I was able to refill my bottle easily. I could see the green vest ahead struggling and decided to reel him in. No running just a steady and determined plod. Then I could see another runner further up and so I targeted them too. It made the climb go faster and nobody was actually catching me yet. After the cairn the plateau is fairly runnable and then downhill to meet the radar station road. There are at least 3 route options here. The guy ahead stuck to the road and didn’t turn off. That was the last I saw of him. Orange vest (Steve Rivers) was keeping an eye on me and followed. Go to snow pole 71, cut up the re-entrant, meet the wooden steps and contour the main hill. What follows is a lovely roller coaster down from Great Dun Fell, up over Little Dun Fell, down the other side and finally up Cross Fell. At 893m this is the highest point on the route. I tried to pull ahead to keep my trod a secret but Steve spotted me and followed. It’s nice and grassy, only a little boggy and cuts the corner slightly too. Someone had already been down it, I guessed it would be Ken.

Greg’s Hut

Arriving at Greg’s Hut I was greeted by Little Dave.

Nick at the hut

He was well bundled up in clothes so it must have been chilly stood about even though I was only running in shorts and T shirt.

Dave with water? (Pipe?)

We had a brief chat as I filled my bottle at the pipe and moaned about the ‘new’ yellow brick road that had been created.

Others at the pipe

The track down to Garrigill is about 6 miles or so and it goes on a bit. It also is definitely not all downhill!

The Yellow Brick Road

Somewhere along this Steve caught me up. It was good as we made each other run more than if we had been alone. A supporter walking up assured me that I would not be caught by another woman so that was good. Now it was just my race and perhaps an attempt to get a PB. A MF jelly perked me up and although I thought Steve had arrived strong I suddenly realised that I was alone again. I used the verge where I could to save my feet and the new hardcore on the road was better than I had feared. Thanks to the steam-roller guys who had done a good job. Garrigill appeared and I forced myself to keep running most of the way to the CP.

CP at Garrigill- nearly back home

Again the food was laid out and I knew I had to stop. Ignoring the food and a cup of tea would save 2-3 mins but I might run out of energy on the final river path. Stopping and eating would make dipping under 7hrs a big ask. I stopped. It is meant to be fun after all. Under 4 miles to go and despite the stiles mostly nice running. I knew the way and ticked off the landmarks in my head. First the footbridge, then the dink up right at the farm then the little bridge over a side stream and finally the start of the woods which mean you are almost back. I had set my watch early when Joe was doing his race brief and so could not be sure of my time. I ran fast, even up the final steps. 7 hours exactly. Bang on the time of last year. It would have been nice to get 6hrs….. but apart from the usual pain in my right foot I felt good. My legs were not really tired and I had not actually been pressured or racing people. Strange that just running at a steady pace got me the same time.

Top positions

Ken of course was already back and had won in 5hrs 31.

Stuart Fludger was an hour later and I was less than 30 mins after that. More a reflection on there not being many fast men on the day but I would get my 1000 Runfurther points. Steve came in 10 mins later followed by Colin, Ian and Chris. I had run with Chris last weekend and shown him the way several times. Today without me he had missed turning off the PW in Dufton to reach the CP but phoned Joe to let him know.

Lovely pressie

Joe presented me with my photobook and hoody- some lovely memories of all the days out and friends I have made over the last decade running ultras. It was a good opportunity to get a few more friends to sign the card.

So many memories

Nav4 carrot and corriander soup was wonderful and allowed me to recover enough to go for a shower. Refreshed from that I came down for more soup, bread, cake, tea, crisps…. yep love eating after an ultra.Others were having a tough day.

Nick was slower than last year but happy to have been able to complete after an op and recovery. Dick, Bob and John seemed to be taking forever.  I ate a bowl of Joe’s chilli as I waited.

They were now last though as Elise and Jules had ambled round stunned by what was to them new scenery and taking lots of photos.

Joe had given beer tokens so once I had made sure that Bob was very tired but sort of OK we went to the pub. When I returned to the YHA Bob had already walked back to the van and bed.
A leisurely and breakfast of several parts on Sunday set us up for taking down all the flags etc and the drive home. The plan had been to go climbing again but Bob was knackered and his leg sore and I seem to have damage the shin on my left leg, although on the plus side the ankle seems to have fixed itself.

Lakeland Five Passes 2019

The results are up on the race website, and I’ve added them in to the Runfurther leaderboard.  Rob Brown won in 5:23:10, with Josh Wade second, just under 5 minutes after Rob.  Third place went to Matthew Curry, nearly 20 minutes behind Josh.  First woman was Hayley Evans, 13th equal overall, in 6:24:45.  Sabrina Verjee finished 20 minutes later, then Karen Nash 20 minutes after that.  There were 211 finishers, so this looks like it’s become a popular race.

No Nick Ham this time, so there’ll be no photos from him.  I’m not sure which of Karen’s photos were taken on the day, but I’ve borrowed one of Hayley anyway.  Karen’s race report is below, and also on her blog.

Sabrina Verjee was tired after the Dragon’s Back and a Ramsey Round, and she didn’t manage to win the race, but she’s probably got enough points to take this year’s title anyway.  It’s not definite though:  either Hayley or Karen could catch her if they come in first woman in another three races.  Karen’s got form in that sort of thing…

Karen Nash’s race report

By Friday we were in Grasmere and meeting the team at Ascend Events ready for the Lakeland 5 Passes event. All the flags, banners and display boards went up that evening which gave me a relaxed start to Saturday and the race.

So pleased to have all these sponsors for Runfurther

Bob went off early to do parking duty and I pottered with breakfast and kit. In the hall I tried to direct Runfurther people to the boards and spot prizes before I met up with Richard L who I have not seen for ages. Earlier in the year I had persuaded Sabrina to enter and ensure that she had 4 counters for our series. I was keen that it was won this year by a fast runner and not an old plodder. She claimed to be tired after the Dragons Back and then an impromptu Ramsay Round last weekend. It’s fair to say she did start cautiously as we streamed out on the tarmac and track towards Loughrigg but from that top at about 3 miles she started racing.

On my sunny recee

From Loughrigg you drop to Ambleside and then climb to Wansfell. It was steamy and yes we possibly had gone off rather fast.

Kirkstone and red Screes from Wansfell

The second summit was cold and breezy so it was a relief to drop to Troutbeck. Well relief from the weather, sadly not relief for my feet as Nanny Lane is gnarly. A fallen tree had brought down some dry stone wall and the obstacle bunched us all up again. As we started the pull up the nicer side of Garburn Pass I started to struggle.

Hayley – winning woman

Hayley Evans was long out of sight and now Sabrina and Helen started to disappear too. Ah well, plod on the best you can. Again at the top it was breezy. The drop into Kentmere has to be one of the most eroded tracks in the Lake District but I had in my head that it was awful so on the day it was just bad rather than dreadful. The CP was stocked with all sorts of goodies. I ate quiche while Bob refilled my water bottle. Then it was off to Longsleddale and more gnarly track after a short grassy section. I was now on my own which was fine but meant it was easy to ease off. I tried to see runners up ahead and to work on reeling them in.

Gatesgarth

It took a while but by the top of Gatesgarth I had overtaken one and caught an other. It was damp and cold enough for me to put my cag on here but I wasn’t overly concerned by the low cloud as I knew the way. The odd tiny yellow flag just helped serve as confirmation. The safety marshalls on Harter Fell looked cold but I didn’t stop more than a second as I had spotted more runners ahead.

The views you might have got if you were lucky

This section and across to Thornthwaite Beacon was my favourite and the cloud allowed occasional views. I couldn’t quite catch the guys ahead yet but they were still in my sights as I dropped to Threshthwaite Mouth and climbed up to Stoney Cove Pike.

Not race day

Again they were runners from other parts of the country and had no idea where they were or where they were going. I had twice called runners back in Ambleside and was now asked if we were “on Kentmere”. The look I got when I pointed out Red Screes across the valley and explained that it was our next summit was priceless.

Richard putting his poles to good use

The drop to Kirkstone was not as greasy as I had expected and I broke out onto the grass where I could. Again the CP had quiche and again I refilled my bottle (although I forgot to add the Mountain Fuel powder).

Red Screes from Kirkstone
The top on a sunny day
I set off to take the last serious climb eating as I went. The climb was tough but I loved the descent to Scandale Pass- don’t mind mud and bog.
soft ground at last

Sadly it then changed into another gnarly track and by now my foot was complaining big time.

The male runner I had my sights on ran steadily away as I ran/jogged and walked. Another woman caught me and this dredged up some spirit and made me fight to stay with her.

5th woman

We took it in turns to lead. Dropping to Sweden Bridge and Rydal I used the verges where ever I could and tried to force some more food down.

I have decided I prefer Aldi ‘fake’ naked bars to the real thing and will never bother with gels even if they are a freebie (MF Jellies were what I should have had).

more grass at last- it didn’t last long though

The dirt road to the Hall and campsite seemed longer than I remember but I knew there was a tap and so was able to refill again and to remember this time to add MF powder. All that was left was the old Coffin Road- how appropriate. I was struggling but determined not to be dropped. I am glad I had receed this as it was over sooner than I thought and then there was just the steep tarmac   down to Dove Cottage and the main road. We debated which route to take to the village hall. Neither of us knew which was faster. I hoped the riverside path would not be busy and opted for it. My new friend followed. To my surprise it was deserted and the gamble paid off. I could smell the finish and dug deep. I had been 4th all the way round and was not about to let that change now.
The final steps to the upstairs of the hall were cruel but I stayed ahead, by less than a minute. Bob was back from the Kentmere CP and so was here to great me and get me cups of tea. After cup 6 he did suggest I just asked for the tea pot. My foot was agony for over an hour but eventually it eased as I got stuck into the delicious post race meal. We had agreed to wait for as many runners and especially Runfurther runners as possible and so had a very relaxed late afternoon.

 

Big bling

As usual I had forgotten to turn my watch off so for the moment my time is a guess of about 7 hours, 4th F and 1st FV50.  I had hoped to run more but I guess it wasn’t so bad in the end. 33 miles and 10,000ft is advertised. Interestingly my device measured 49.75km and 2700m whereas Sabrina measured 50.37 and 2828m (her is a much fancier beast so is likely more accurate). I also forgot to go and take a screen shot of the results so these will have to wait.

Spire Ultra 2019

The Spire Ultra was on Saturday – 30 miles in a loop round Chesterfield, in South Yorkshire.  This one is organised by Jamie and Clare Glazebrook, both Runfurther members.  There was a select field, with 64 finishers in what is probably the easiest of the Runfurther 2019 races.  Conditions were good, with the weather being great for running, although it will have a been a bit muddy underfoot due the rain the day before.  I was helping out with another ultra in Cheshire, and our runners and walkers had a great time.

Back to the Spire then.  It was the third running of the event, and new men’s and women’s records were set, by Kevin Hoult and Karen Nash, also putting both of them to the top of the Runfurther leaderboard.

Kevin won in 4:30:42, with Greg Hopkinson second in 4:36:34, and Gavin Holmes third, over half an hour later.  Karen finished 12th in 5:57:37.  Second woman was Sarah Challans in 6:15:27, and third was Emma Staniland in 6:22:19.

Kevin will not find it easy to stay at the top of the leaderboard: Rory Harris will probably overtake him once he’s run a fourth counter.  Karen is unlikely to stay at the top this year either, as Sabrina Verjee is looking unbeatable.  My money is on Sabrina to get her fourth win on her home ground at the Lakeland Five Passes next month.

There’s only one runner eligible for this year’s Grand Slam of all 12 races: Steven Jones has run all five races so far.  Go Steve!

Karen’s written up her race report, and you can find that on her blog, or by scrolling down this page.  Nick Ham has posted his photos to his Flickr site, and I’ve pinched some for here as usual.  For some reason only one of Nick’s photos shows anyone actually running, and even then he’s in the background of a checkpoint shot.  No idea why…

I’m not sure when the results will be posted to the Spire website, but here’s what Jamie sent me (with Bob Nash’s time corrected):

Spire Ultra 2019 Results
1 Kevin Hoult 4.30.42 New CR
2 Greg Hopkinson 4.36.34
3 Gavin Holmes 5.08.19
4 Martin Terry 5.25.41
5 Jonathan Kinder 5.29.06
6 Chris Musther 5.32.17
7 Joe Carruthers 5.39.51
8 Ian Challans 5.43.25
9 Tim Straughan 5.47.43
10 Shane James 5.56.44
11 Roland Allatt 5.57.35
12 Karen Nash 5.57.37 New CR
13 Daryl Bentley 6.01.08
14 William Clarke 6.11.41
15 Phil Scope 6.12.05
16 Ben Marshall 6.12.11
17 Sarah Challans 6.15.27
18 Charles Colbourn 6.17.17
19 John Boardman 6.20.33
20 Steven Jones 6.20.52
21 Emma Staniland 6.22.19
22 David Elphick 6.22.20
23 Rebecca Thomas 6.22.32
24 Hal Roberts 6.23.16
25 Helen Burgess 6.23.24
26 Richard Conroy 6.24.41
27 Matt Hutchinson 6.25.10
28 Cindy Woodhead 6.26.58
29 Richard Powell 6.34.36
30 Chris Peach 6.35.21
31 Debbie Cooper 6.36.53
32 Carl Hopkinson 6.36.57
33 John Ellis-Hill 6.37.49
34 Rob Ferrol 6.43.52
35 Kim Gray 6.43.52
36 John Power 6.43.55
37 Chris Martin 6.45.50
38 Sarah Louise Smith 6.53.57
39 John Gorman 6.56.22
40 Martin Sleath 6.57.35
41 Simon English 6.58.21
42 Jake Warwick 6.58.59
43 Marianne Headin 7.01.49
43 Wendy Amis 7.01.49
45 Tim Butler 7.06.11
46 Heather Webster 7.32.05
46 Rebecca Thomas 7.32.05
46 Sarah Johnson 7.32.05
49 Stephen Hall 7.35.25
49 Richard Corker 7.35.25
51 Kellie Ross 7.48.50
51 Al Whyte 7.48.50
53 Robert Nash 7.48.52
54 Nick Ham 8.15.32
55 Judith Kippax 8.25.12
56 Karen Johnson 8.40.48
56 Steve Monaghan 8.40.48
58 Julia Barnes 8.42.25
58 Chris Barnes 8.42.25
60 Dick Scroop 8.49.58
61 Kirsten Grafton 8.54.27
62 Kathryn Fagg 8.54.51
63 Sharon Collis 8.57.26
64 David Belcher 9.07.07
64 Katherine Rogers 9.07.07
Relay Teams
1 Muppets 3.48.37 New CR
2 NDDC 5.18.12
2 Clowne Ultra 5.18.12
4 Wobblers 6.25.42
4 Hobblers 6.25.42
6 Sisters with Blisters 7.10.48

Karen’s race report

A new race for Runfurther and it was great. We were happy to help Jamie and Clare with their local race for charity. It’s in the third year now and slowly gaining popularity. At 32 miles with about 4600ft climb it was very runnable – Not my forte, with no big hills to stomp up and some long disused railway lines towards the end which to me felt like torture. Brilliantly organised, marshalled and huge plate of chilli at the end.
It was to be a special race for me as it would ultra race 100. I have only counted races with results and only those over 30 miles. I now have a total of 5256 miles with the shortest being 30 miles and the longest being 200. It includes 11 races of over 100 miles and an average distance of 52.6 miles. All in the last decade (almost: started March 2009, completed May 2019).
By Friday I was stressing that I would not find the way etc. I was anxious about needing to slow down enough to read and act on all the instructions etc. I have only been to Chesterfield before, some time in the late 90s when they made it to an FA Cup final and festooned the town in blue and white. I had studied the text and map but was worried about needing to slow down enough to read and act on all the instructions and the time lost if I went off route.

Bob and I drove down after a morning of indoor climbing. The weather was foul through the Peaks and drains were struggling to cope with the water. By the time we got near Chesterfield it had improved and we went for a short walk on a loop of the course near Holymoorside. It was enough to persuade me that I would need shoes with some grip and also that the text route description seemed pretty good. Jamie had suggested that a dead end lane in Heath would be better than a night by the start so that was our next stop. Again we walked a short loop before we settled down to an evening in the van. I didn’t sleep well and Jamie had not realised that the church bells chimed every hour through the night. At least it wasn’t every 1/4 hour.

It didn’t take long to move to the start in the morning and the weather looked so much better. The flags and banners were soon up and we could concentrate on registration and kit checks.

Photo Nick Ham – the Runfurther discussion table

For a small race with an entry of fewer than 70 Runfurther had brought a fair number…. Dick, Bob, Nick, Kevin, Sarah S, Sarah and Ian, Matt, Sam,Steve, Daryl, Debbie, Martin, Stephen and Tim.

After a briefing in the garden quad at the Resource Centre we were walked to the start.

Photo Nick Ham

I found myself closer to the front than I had intended and then realised some were relay runners and speedy guys like Kevin. Oops. I probably set off too fast but it was good to keep people who knew where they were going in sight and it was very runnable.

Photo Nick Ham

A lovely mixture of field paths, blue bell woods, trails and some short sections of tarmac to link it all. I was soon pretty warm but by 5 miles or so had settled into a more realistic pace. Some point around here Daryl caught me up and it was wonderful to have company for pace and the route finding. He used his Garmin while I read the text and referred to the map every now and again. It didn’t stop all our errors but one was over excitement at a nice down hill and the other me missing a sentence when two bridges were mentioned. Neither cost us 5 mins in total but it did ultimately cost him his sub 6 hour finish which is a shame. CP2 had food so I grabbed a banana and some crisps.The course profile suggested that the biggest climbs were in the first 10 miles or so. I resolved to walk the steepest hills in the hope I would save some running for the flat bits later. Daryl was happy to agree. At this stage we were being very polite and both suggesting the other should run on alone if they felt capable. Politeness didn’t last. Between CP3 and 4 my foot started hurting and Daryl had stomach pains. Politeness was traded for farting (what is it about eating and running) and swearing as we tried to keep up the pace but were hurting! The week’s rain had made some of the descents in the woods rather muddy but mostly it was fine. and the instructions were mostly making sense. I grabbed more food at CP4 but cannot eat on the run at that speed. Luckily I was carrying some MF jellies and could manage those. Ian caught us up and was flying- a true runner who was loving the flatter course. No chance of me beating him today. We noticed huge storm clouds lurking and soon after CP5 stopped to but jackets on for a few miles.The last 14 miles or so were flatter but they also included some long straight sections which were mentally tough and more hard surface under foot which was the last thing my foot needed. I must be the only person who rejoiced at the sign of mud. Actually mud was also our friend with stud marks often confirming that we were on the correct route- well either that or all those in front were also off route. I have quite good map memory and as CP6 came into view I knew what was left. It spurred me on. The CP itself was highlight of the day- strawberries, grapes and melon! I was now also shadowing a runner that knew the way and so keen to hang on or at least keep him in sight. Daryl and I drifted apart a bit. As we climbed to Heath and scene of our overnight stop I knew there was about 3 miles left and it would be possible with a little effort to get under 6 hours. I upped the pace over the field paths and then the Five Pits trail area into the woods. All was OK until we hit the old railway line. My heart sank. It should have been so runnable but was such an effort. I blocked all other thought and worked on keeping the guys ahead in sight. It worked and I think I finished in 5hrs58. Daryl appeared only a few minutes later.

Phew I had done it and had a great day to complete my challenge. 100 race ultras done, a race win, a new women’s record and a top day out. Thanks for the company Daryl and for pushing me when alone I would have gone slower.

After collapsing on the floor outside the hall I did a second finish to get a photo but we soon had to move inside as it got chilly.

Sarah C was second woman and Debbie was back soon too. Bob had left me a special card and the front runners had already signed it.

We shared cake as others signed too. Bob had been very worried about the 9 hour limit. His time is usually mine plus 50%. Not today.

He was flying and finished in under 8 hours. It’s the big hills that now slow him down and today’s undulating course suited him well.

Knackered but what a good run!

We sat eating and chatting until all runners were back. Then it was taking down damp flags and banners before the long drive home and a celebratory beer.
The question now is “What next?” Another 100 ultras in the next decade? Aim for 50 over 100 miles?

The Fellsman 2019 – updated 5 May

I cowered at home in Cheshire all day as the rain lashed sideways from dawn till dusk.  When I had to take the dog out for a walk it was horrible.  I spared the odd thought for the poor souls out trying to run the Fellsman, and wondered whether the race would happen at all.  I don’t know why I was worrying.  In Karen’s words: “Fellsman was great if a bit wet.”

Karen’s blog is up here, and I’ve copied her write-up below as well.  Nick was unwell and unable to attend, so there’ll be no photos from him this time.  Not many from Karen either as it was so wet she wasn’t going to risk her phone or camera.

The official results are now up on the Fellsman website, so I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard to use the official times.  As expected the only difference, as far as I can see, is that runners who had to wait to be grouped have gained a few Runfurther points.

Very fast times from Stuart Walker and Rory Harris there, both under 11 1/2 hours.  For me, the standout achievement was Sabrina Verjee’s time of 12:23, 7th overall.

Sabrina appears to be running away with the Runfurther title this year, with three race wins.  One more (a Short one) and she’ll have the maximum 4000 points and will be unbeatable.  Rory Harris has only dropped 13 points (beaten by Stuart Walker in the Fellsman), and also looks to be in such a strong position I’d be surprised if anyone can catch him now.  It’s unusual to be able to say that this early in the series.

Astley and Tyldesley Road Runners are way out in front in the team competition, but they can be caught.

Only three runners have run all four races so far, so they are the only ones who could complete a Grand Slam:  Simon Ford, Kevin Smith and Steven Jones: good luck to all three!

And if anyone knows Jackie Scarf, Jake Holmes or Andy Berry, please get them to join Runfurther: they’ve already got three counters each.

Karen’s race report

Race 4 in the Runfurther ultra series and the 57th running of the Fellsman. For me it would be my 7th time on the course. Pretty sure many of us will be asking at various points “Why have I signed up for this again?” and will then promptly forget the tough bits, decide we loved it and sign up again.
This years course was to be altered slightly as one landowner decided we must not cross even the southern boundary of Fleet Moss. It would involved several miles on tarmac, including a steep downhill, before the extra 300m+ climb back up to Middle Tongue CP. It can’t be helped but it was not going to be popular with many and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
Friday evening did not start well. After a morning of climbing we raced home for a quick shower, food and to grab our bags. The journey across was uneventful and the weather damp but not awful. Arriving before 4pm and with plenty of time to put up flags, banners etc before runners started to register Bob realised he had left vital clothing at home.

Thanks to all the Runfurther sponsors

I leapt out with all the Runfurther gear and he set off on the return drive home and back to Threshfield. At least it was a possible and not a totally insane drive. Once the flags were up I pottered about the very warm school drying out and helping to set up tables etc where I could. Nick sadly was having a worse evening. I didn’t know it then as Threshfield has no mobile phone signal but he was suffering vertigo attacks severe enough to force him back to home. A real shame as he had hoped to complete a Grand Slam this year.

By 8pm all my jobs were done, I had registered and been kit checked and a meal had been cooked and eaten. I returned to the hall to find friends and to encourage people to collect their spit prizes from Mountain Fuel, Ultimate Direction, Injinji and Tent Meals. I had taken extra mint cake for runners and also the teams in the sweep mini buses. Before 10pm we were in bed and thinking of those sleeping on the sports hall floor – not the best preparation for a race in my experience.

Ooo Spot Prizes

The forecast was not great but despite the fad of naming storms and hyping them up a bit we were not due relentless heavy rain, nor gales, nor bitter cold. I had already opted for tights as I can’t be bothered changing to longs at dusk grouping. I decided a heavy weight reliable waterproof was worth the extra 150g as I would likely have it on most of the time. I switched my shoes for some with just a little more grip but hoped some of the bogs would still be a bit drier than usual after weeks of little rain.

Typical- sunshine by Sunday lunch time

A bus to Ingleton at 6.15am meant an early start. Yep it was damp and a little cool but not freezing. The hall was hot as usual but the time passed quickly, especially once Julian and I decided to get together an ‘oldies team’ for the V50 team trophy. We needed 6 so Julian, me, Albert, Mark D, David T and John T were duly signed up. True I had to write several of these in myself… the perils of ageing and glasses…. but all promised to aim to complete.
There were 70 odd dns runners. I guess there will always be injury, illness etc but I am sure the forecast didn’t help. It was dry as we were herded out onto the sports field and had our tally clipped in the first of many boxes. Shortly after 8.30am were were off – in at least 3 different directions as runners opted for their favourite lines out onto the road before Ingleborough. Knowing not to blast off too fast I soon settled into a comfortable pace and chatted with Julian. The lead runners were well out of sight as we clambered over the rocks and onto the summit plateau. It was a bit wild for the marshalls but we didn’t hang around long enough to worry.  One peak down and just another 11 lumps to go.
I hate the rocky steps that are the usual descent. I always fear a slip on greasy rocks, a trip on the upstanding bits and the impatience of faster male descenders behind me. I spotted a runner dropping left to the grassy trod I had heard about and decided to try it. The ground was steep, the grass was wet and there were a few rocks but I did prefer it and for me it was faster. On on now and in search of David and Laura from Sportsunday photos. I never stop at the first CP  and was soon heading up Whernside where David and Laura were lying in wait with cameras.

Three Muskateers- Barney, Mike and Harry?

They earn their money on days like that. I know I am not super fast but I cannot help being competitive.

Heavy weight cag on all day but not really grim

Sabrina was likely to win the women’s race I thought but I didn’t really know who else would be up there. I did know I was 4th and I spotted Maria just ahead. Hmm, could I get 3rd? Early to be worrying about such things but I am sure it spurred me on up the rising grassy rake and then the summit ridge. It was now certainly raining and quite windy. The marshalls on the summit looked cold despite being huddled by the wall.

Jane and Adrienne on Whernside- Thanks

Once off the rocky bits and through the gates I love that downhill ridge . Just the right angle and nice grass. The out and back to the summit means you can see who is ahead and who is behind. I just spotted Sabs as I joined the ridge, she was already coming down. The temporary stile over the ridge wall gave a few runners a heart stopping moment as it shifted but the real shock was the head height barbed wire at the wall gap. I am short enough to run under it but one young man sat at the Kingsdale CP had not been so lucky. I grabbed a piece of flapjack and overtook some more runners by not hanging around. Well its true… 3 mins at every CP would add well over an hour to your time on this race. I slowed on the steep section of Gragareth but kept ahead of most in the big group behind me. Ros had suggested the CP and tents might be huddled by the wall but instead they were correctly positioned at the trig point.

Ros and others at Gragareth CP. That sky!

Again the out and back allowed me to check on the progress of others.  Despite the dry spring and despite it being a ridge with big drops on both sides the path to Great Coum was wet although I actually enjoyed running this section. Simon Ford was going well and Albert was still just a bit ahead. The drop to Flinters Gill started on pleasant grass but was soon the usual bog fest. Julian had reminded me that there is an alternative to some of the rocky bridleway that drops to Dent. I decided to try it and he is right. You still have to join the main path eventually but it is better. I also for the first time ever took the ‘short cut’ that drops you onto the camping field and the CP. Phew almost 1/3 completed in miles at least.

Winner Stuart Walker at Dent

A big group of us swarmed around the food tent shouting our requests of warm cheese and onion rolls, tea and more. The melon was lovely. I tried not to loiter and set off on the lane eating and drinking. Gary caught me up here and although I then didn’t see him for a while we were later grouped together. For now I concentrated on chasing down two blokes running in shorts – not some wierd fettish, just me hoping to pick off the next runners. They stopped to put on over trousers as the next blast of hail and rain went through. As the bridleway climbed over the end of Whernside I was aware of two first timers hoping to gain a reasonable line by sticking with me.  That’s fine. Simon F was just ahead battling along with his poles. I maintained but could not close the gap on him. Still another CP ticked off and 25 miles done. The felled section of forest added a few obstacles to duck under and climb over, plus the forestry vehicles have almost destroyed the boardwalk section. The beck off to the right was full to bursting and the path very wet. The turkey may have gone but the the farm has a very impressive group of cockerels and some rather fierce geese.I made it through unscathed and jogged down the road to the Stonehouse CP.  It’s nice knowing what to expect at CPs and I quite like the pasta. That plus a cup of tea. I topped up my water bottle but had not really used much in the cold damp weather. Albert had left shortly after I arrived so I set off with a piece of cake in each hand. You can never have too much cake and this one had cherries in it. I had hoped Sportsunday might be on Artengill Beck but not this year. A shame as I had not carried my phone or camera in the rain and as we flogged up under the viaduct and beautiful steam train went across. The rain had stopped for a bit now although apparently down in Stonehouse a gale nearly took the tent away. Great Knoutberry is another little dink out and back so yes another chance to see who is around. Barney, Mile and friend came steaming down the hillside with Mike moaning that he was knackered. There was lots of congratulations from both the climbers and descenders. I could see Albert and caught him at the CP. He didn’t appear to be loving the day and I felt a bit bad running off back to the track and on towards Redshaw. Almost at the track I met a huge group on their way up and there were two women. Oh bugger, I need to run harder.

Redshaw

Somewhere around here you pass the half way mark and bouyed on my the thought of soup and hotdogs the boggy land doesn’t seem so bad. At least its either flat or downhill for a bit. Two years ago I marshalled at Redshaw but today I quickly grabbed soup and the hot dog before setting off with the remains of the soup and a banana.  Not stopping and being on my own saved another 3-5 minutes. The 3 young men made the difficult decision to split here. Mike was wasted and could no longer keep up. My novice Fellsman runners were asking me about the next section- you almost swim after Redshaw on the way to Snaizeholme and I think they feared there might be miles of it. I was able to reassure them that it would soon improve and in fact was a big track to below Dodd Fell. Barney and mate came charging past and disappeared into the distance. The CP on the summit was easy to spot but in my haste to head off to the Fleet Moss CP I made a nav error, missed the wall gap and went the long way round. Sadly I took Albert and Mike with me. Somewhere here I also went over on my ankle and it got progressively stiffer as the evening wore on. I contemplated the direct line with the wall climb that Oz showed me but decided to stay legal.  There was a new fence along the road to the CP but luckily there was a safe place to climb over. It was now tipping it down with rain but almost 38 miles were done. It was cold in the draughty tent so I downed two cups of tea and rice pudd, dragged on my over trousers and set off on the dreaded road.
I had lost time on my Dodd Fell detour allowing runners to catch me and then to see the next group as I ran down past the chevrons. The only thing to do was make the most of the tarmac and cover as many miles as fast as I could.

That b***** road

The ‘shorts and over trousers’ men had caught me and I now used them to drag me along. Luckily the rain stopped or lessened off and I was able to vent my sweaty layers. They were not enjoying the road either and I was closing in. I thought back to my birthday treat on the Dales Way a few years ago and how roasting this valley had been then.  I made good time and at Deepdale bridge was pleased to gain the grassy field paths to Yockenthwaite. I could see Simon plus poles up ahead and this encouraged me. He was also a good marker as we flogged up the track, path and trod to Middle Tongue. It went on a bit but at least the nav was straight forward.  The ‘shorts’ men had stopped and the guy ahead of me seemed to loiter at the CP. Ah yes, he didn’t know the way and the next section is peat hags, bog and not much in the way of a path. I was happy to lead us to just below the kink in the wall where you can climb the fence and then contour to the next wall and a better path. He was very grateful. The guy at Hells Gap was huddled in his Land Rover and the whole think was rocking in the wind. Not a place to loiter. Off we sped down the nasty track to Cray. I used the verges when I could to save my feet but was relieved to reach the tent. I knew we would be grouped here and wanted to make sure I was set up for the dark and well fed. Eating was an effort and I was gagging on the last mouthfuls. I put my prism on knowing it could be cold now and especially if the rain returned. For the moment we were treated to a beautiful rainbow.

It wasn’t all rain

The tent was pretty full but 3 soon shuffled off the the Body Bus and retired their way back to Threshfield. I have done the route 6 times and should know the way but was keen to be in a group with at least one other person who could navigate and also who would be good company. Barlick Gary fitted the bill. We ended up as a group of 7 which is the biggest I have ever had but in fact it worked well. We were fairly well matched and all had good and not so good moments. Gary showed me at least one line I had not done before and with our joint nav or me confirming what he thought we did well. The climb up Buckden Pike was stiff but the weather seemed to be improving and the sun was not yet setting. I like the ridge run and we managed to bogs after the Cross OK. I was pleased that we all agreed to keep torches off for as long as possible. We needed them as we approached Top Mere but it helped prevent the group of 4 behind catching us. Only one big lump left now and the miles were ticking by.  The run to Park Rash was uneventful and we were moving quite well but the run had depleted my reserves and by now I was struggling to eat solids. I would have killed for chocolate milk or custard but hey ho. I managed a MF jelly and some mint cake but struggled on the steepest section of Great Whernside. Luckily at the stile to the rising traverse the easing gradient let me recover and feel better again. We were soon able to see the beacon and then the little CP tent. Only 10 miles left now and now real climbs at all. The rain had gone. I knew the way along the fence, down with the fence as a handrail and all the way to the gate but I could not in my head picture the bit to Capplestone Gate. The group continued to work well with a fair bit of jogging and power walking when we couldn’t do more. The deepest bogs were not as bad as they can be. The guys sent me ahead each time although as I weighed less it was no guarantee of solidity and if I sunk in I would disappear fastest.  No worries and we were soon past the CP and on the track and grassy paths. We made a slight detour into a wall corner but it only cost 10metres. The beacons across the more open grass kept us to the right path easily and soon the walled lane was there. I knew Yarnbury was close and I almost got second wind. We de grouped here. I thought I might grind to a halt but as two sped off I thanked Gary, agreed we could easily get back in under 16 hours and tucked in trying hard down the lane. My head torch was getting very dim but it was a blessing as I couldn’t really see the lane stretching off into the distance. Grassington passed very quickly and it was downhill all the way to the river. I checked my watch- over 15 mins left to get up to the school. I jogged most of it and was pretty pleased with 15 hrs 47. I dreaded to think how fast Sabrina had been and what it would do to my Runfurther points but I had done my best and was 3rd Woman. Gary was over joyed at a 50 min PB. He had been good company.
We sat in the hallway a while just recovering before people drifted off for showers, the sports hall floor, a shuttle to a van in the car park or in my case a stagger to the kitchen for tea and then our van.
It was a shame to find Bob already in bed. It hadn’t been his day. Little Stu Walker was 1st in a brilliant 11hrs 18 and then Rory in 11.27. David Chetta was 4th in 12.03, Phil W in 12.21, Simon Bourne 10th in 12.53 and first V60. Sabs was 7th in 12.23 awesome.

A good nights sleep and a Fellsman breakfast set us up for the prize giving where we managed the Vets Team Prize. Old but not Dead Yet…. Julian, Karen, Albert, John, Mark and David. Fab. My ankle seems to have lost its bone and gained a rather impressive swelling.

I think I just ignored it during the race but walking on Sunday was dodgy as it stiffened up. Climbing on it today wasn’t great but hopefully it will mend fast. None of the photos are mine so thanks to Sportsunday and Fellsman facebook. The big question is can I manage the next 3 Fellsman so that my 10th coincides with their 60th and my 60th birthday?