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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.

Skiddaw results up Friday 7th I hope!

Just a quick post to apologise in advance as there’ll be a delay before I can post anything about the Grand Tour of Skiddaw  (Saturday 1 September).  I’ll be walking 45 miles across Wales on Saturday then heading straight up to the Highlands to do some walking guidebook work & won’t be home until Thursday night.  That means I won’t be able to post anything about Skiddaw until Friday 7 September.  I’ll sort it out as soon as I can once I’m back, anyway.  If you’re running on Saturday, have a good time, & remember the first bit along the river feels three times as far on the way back!

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!

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

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

The race

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

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

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

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The final 2017 Runfurther results

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

Men

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

Women

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

Men over 50

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

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

Women over 50

  1. Karen Nash.

Men over 60

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

Women over 60

  1. Janet Hill.

Men over 70

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

Most points

Men: Nick Ham, 7627 points

Women: Karen Nash, 7464 points

Grand Slam of all 12 races

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Nick Ham & Bob Nash

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

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

Team competition

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

Prizegiving and AGM

Karen Nash & Ken Sutor

Karen Nash & Ken Sutor

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

Karen Nash & Martin Terry

Karen Nash & Martin Terry

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

Karen Nash and Janet Hill

Karen Nash and Janet Hill

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

The presentations at fever pitch

The presentations at fever pitch

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

Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra 2017

The Race

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

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

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Runfurther results

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

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

The Walker’s Tale

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

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

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

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

Long Tour of Bradwell results revisited

Summary

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

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

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

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

The detail

Here are the gory details we’ve agreed on:

In summary, the issues are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The way forward that has been agreed is as follows:

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

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

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

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