Early June 2015 news

A few items of news to report, as I get ready to head up to Shap for Saturday’s Three Rings of Shap:

1.  We’ve placed an order for snazzy Giraffe Headwear (we’re not allowed to call them buffs as that’s a registered name).  Every runner who runs 4 counters this year will get one of these exclusive Runfurther printed items – just catch us at a race and ask us if we don’t find you first.  We won’t be posting them out, to keep costs down.  We may have them in time for the Lakes 10 Peaks on 27 June, but more likely it will be the Long Tour of Bradwell on 8 August.

2.  We think the confusion over the Ox Ultra results has now been sorted out, apart from James Ashworth’s time still being wrong.  This has been fixed in the Runfurther points, but as I’m writing this hadn’t been corrected in the official race results.

3.  We’ve updated the Ultra Calendar, and it’s now the most complete list of offroad ultras around, as far as we can see.

4.  We’ve already started thinking about races for 2016, so let us know if you’ve got any races you’d like us to consider for inclusion.

5.  We’ve got spot prizes for Martin Huddleston and Glenn Bowyer that they didn’t pick up at their last race – if you see them let them know.

6.  The committee meeting on Friday has been brought forward to 7pm, the Greyhound, Shap.

The Ox Ultra 2015 – updated

About 600 runners gathered at the weekend on the Rushmore Estate in the Wiltshire countryside for a series of four races.  The location is in a huge estate park, with ideal camping fields, and the Saturday afternoon and evening were warm and sunny.  If anything a bit too hot for running, but the forecast for the main race day (Sunday) was for cloud cover, and a bit of rain.  The cloud cover we got, the rain never happened.

The more intrepid runners ran the Dark Ox race as a warm-up on the Saturday night, with headtorches, and it was very entertaining to see them all head off en masse in the wrong direction after the first 100 metres.  The rest of us concentrated on carboloading for the next day.

There were three races on the Sunday: the 36-mile ultra, starting at 8:30, the marathon starting an hour later, and a half marathon starting an hour later still.  The routes overlapped a lot and all finished together, which all worked well.  The route itself was an all-out trail route: some woodland paths, but mainly on wide stony and gravel tracks, making for fast running the whole way, despite the 900m of climbing.  It was a warm day even without the sun being out, and we needed to take on plenty of water on the way round.  Personally my legs were already shot after running 100 miles the previous weekend.  I managed OK for the first 20 miles, then started struggling up the long climb north.  The next 7 miles of track heading west seemed to go on for ever, and the last 6 miles back south were torture, even though this was the prettiest bit of the whole route – I was in no state to run that far!

We think the Ultra was won by Anthony Clark of Bournemouth AC, in 4:39:18, with Ian Hannett of Bedford Harriers 3 minutes behind him.  First Runfurther runner was Chris Davies, with James Ashworth and Carmine De Grandis not far behind.  First woman was Kate Whitfield, last year’s Runfurther winner, in 5:34:23.  We had 14 Runfurther members running, which was pretty good, considering how far from home most of us were!  There were some significant problems with the published race results, but they appear to be sorted out now (apart from James Ashworth’s time still being wrong).

The race was a good one, and I think we need races like this in the Runfurther Championship, to counterbalance the mountain races at the other end of the offroad ultra spectrum.  Karen Nash has written her blog up, and that’s here – she got a few photos around the race HQ, although she didn’t take her camera on the race.

I think we’ve settled on getting buffs for members who run 4 counters this year, and we’ll be putting an order in for them shortly.  The plan is that you’ll win a buff the first year you run 4 counters, then something else the next year and so on.  We’ve now got 6 members who are owed buffs (names in red on the leaderboard).

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, and you can find that here.  It includes a corrected time for James Ashworth.

We’ve now got two possible contenders for a Runfurther Grand Slam this year.  David Wilson of Bowland Fell Runners has confirmed he’s attempting it, and Karen Nash is starting to think she might too, although how she’s planning to fit that in with all her other travel plans for this summer is anyone’s guess.  See you at Shap on 13 June – there’ll be  committee meeting the evening before as well, if anyone wants to attend.

Apocalypse 100

This website isn’t my personal blog, but we’re always interested in ultras any member’s been running, and we’re happy to post any race reports. This one’s from me!  It was written in a great hurry, so apologies for the typos.  Nigel Aston’s written up his race too, and his has got some photos in it.  His report (pdf) is here.

Andy’s report

For a while now I’ve been thinking that I ought to enter a 100-mile event. I’d never done one, and really it was time to step up to the mark. I didn’t fancy the Lakeland 100 – all those mountains and I don’t get to the top of them? The LDWA Hundred is in Lancashire this year, in an area I know and have raced in before, but it was on the bank holiday weekend, when I’d rather be with my family. Then I came across the Apocalypse 100. The race is organised by Richard at Beyond Marathon, and he has a reputation locally (Cheshire) for putting on well-organised good-value events, such as the Gritstone Grind. The Apocalypse 100 is in neighbouring Shropshire, one of my favourite running areas. There are plenty of hills, lots of great views and plenty of fast running too. It didn’t clash too badly with the Runfurther events, as I couldn’t run Marlborough anyway, although I’d be running the Ox with tired legs. So I entered.

After I’d entered it struck be that this might be a good race for next year’s Runfurther Championship. It would be good to have a 100 in again, and the advantage of this one is that there’s a 50-mile race as well, which is the first half of the 100-mile race. That means we could let Runfurther racers choose which they entered, so we wouldn’t have to force any Grand Slam contenders to run a 100. Of course it would have to be a good race as well…

The design of the route is ingenious. The start is in the middle of the route, and there are also 4 manned checkpoints. Each of those 4 has a loop of about 10 miles attached. So the route goes out to CP1, round a 10-mile loop with self-clips, back to CP1. Then you run to CP2, round another 10-mile loop and back, then back to the start, your 50 miles done, with checkpoints every 10 miles. Then if you’re running the 100, you do the same through the night, visiting each of the other two checkpoints twice and doing the other two loops. Hence you have a 100-mile route, with manned checkpoints every 10 miles, but you only need marshals in 5 places.

So I got up at 5:45 on Saturday and drove down to Church Stretton, to park up in the National Trust car park in Carding Mill Valley, in the shadow of the Long Mynd. The weather forecast was perfect for running – just as well considering what happened last year. They’d had 20-degree heat, and only 12 finished from 41 starters. Only Charlie Sharpe got under 24 hours. To be fair they also changed the route this year, reducing the amount of climbing by 400m to a mere 4300m.

I registered and chatted to a few people – Charlie Sharpe, Nigel Aston, Alison Brind and Carmine de Grandis among them. I changed my mind about running in a t-shirt and shorts and switched to thermal top and shorts, which turned out to be spot-on. And at 9am we were away, straight up the Long Mynd.

I had to concentrate on not going too fast, particularly uphill and downhill. I was pretty sure I could manage 50 miles, but I’d no idea whether I could do more than that. So I decided to try to go just a little bit slower than I would if I were running 50 miles. Does this sound realistic, or does it sound like I was just playing mind games? I’m pretty hopeless at pacing myself, so often going off too fast. Anyway, I couldn’t hang around, as I had to be at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for a 7:30 concert the next day, so I pressed on, soon falling in with Nigel Aston, which worried me a bit, as he’s usually significantly faster than me and had run hundreds before. And when he implied I was going rather faster than he was expecting me too, that worried me a bit more. But I felt fine, so just kept pushing on, west round Black Rhadley Hill to the first checkpoint, steeply up Corndon Hill, then round the rest of the first loop (Conquest) on tracks and minor roads back to the checkpoint. So far, so good.

From here we went on NNW and the climb up onto and along the Stiperstones ridge. This was pretty hard going, on a very stony path. If you know the path above Stanage Edge in Derbyshire, it was slightly worse than that to run: the chances of tripping were high. We walked most of it – you can’t afford to tire yourself on difficult ground with 75 miles to go (that was my excuse anyway). After 3km of that we were glad to get off the hill, scenic as it was. It was easier going now, down a track to Pulverbatch, then minor roads to the second checkpoint, in a beer garden at Longden Common. There was a friendly gang of helpers here (hi Anne, hi Vaughan), with a wide range of food, so I drank some water and we set off round loop number 2 (Famine). This loop was mostly easy running on roads and field paths, with the sting near the end of the climb up Earl’s Hill. By this time, 35 miles in, I was starting to tire, wondering whether I could keep going after the halfway point. It was good to be running with Nigel, particularly for the next few miles, as I was struggling a bit mentally as well as physically. We got back to the beer garden, then headed off south, climbing slowly on tracks in the main, over the Betchcott Hills and back up the Long Mynd before heading back down the narrow valley to Carding Mill again, 50 miles done. We were there in 10 hours 19 minutes, nearly 3 hours faster than Nigel’s schedule. I’d no idea how long it would take, but I suppose I’d hoped to get the first half done in under 12 hours. Charlie and Carmine were there to greet us, but I just wanted to get out and get moving again. I got more food and my hi-vis tabard from my drop bag, drank more water, then headed out into the evening. Nigel wasn’t ready to go, and I assumed he’d catch me up, but I didn’t see him again.

Shortly after leaving the halfway point I had to stop to retch, my stomach finally starting to revolt at a constant diet of sugar. After retching I felt a bit better, but for the rest of the run I couldn’t really take on as much food as I wanted to. Still, got to push on eh? I ran through the streets of Church Stretton, up a long climb on a track eastwards over the shoulder of Caer Caradoc Hill, and down to join roads through Cardington, Gretton and Plaish. Wenlock Edge was looming ahead now, and it was starting to get dark. As I plodded up the road to the checkpoint at Easthope, on the Edge, a runner overtook me, running up a steep hill after 60 miles of running! Then I realised he was actually doing it after 70 miles of running: he was just finishing loop 3 (War). A couple of minutes later and we were both at the checkpoint, shortly to be joined by another runner finishing the loop. I struggled into my reflective tabard and crammed my headtorch on, drank about an inch of cup-a-soup and some water and headed northeast along the Edge through the gloom. Soon it was pitch dark, and the loop now headed off the Edge, to cross about four fields and join a good track. Unfortunately two of those fields were full of oilseed rape plants, and there wasn’t really a path, or rather there were loads of different tractor lines across the field, only one of which was the right one. Anyway, a bit of cursing and 10 wasted minutes sorted it out, and I found the reflective tape and glowsticks, and got back to something that might have been recognised as running again, if I’d been going a bit faster, and if there’d been anyone there to notice. And so back to the checkpoint, loop 3 done.

More water and I was off again, along the Edge again, but this time southwest. Approximately forever. After 10 miles, just when I was beginning to think I was on an endless loop, I got to the last checkpoint, which was being manned (and womanned) by heroes who’d run the 50 mile race before marshalling. Another inch of soup, more water. I was pretty doollaly by this time. Hey ho, on we go, off into the night, steeply down off the Edge on the most horrible muddy track I’d seen in a while. This was actually a stretch I already knew, but I didn’t recognise any of it. On to the next self-clip by a footbridge, but where was it? I searched for a while in the dark, before finding it at the other end of the footbridge. Don’t ask. And on round loop 4 (Death). It went by in a haze. It gradually grew lighter, and turned into a beautiful morning. The long wet grass was at freezing point, turning toes numb in minutes. And I wasn’t really travelling very fast at all. I kept making silly navigational errors, my judgment was seriously impaired, and I had to keep willing myself not to fall asleep as I “ran”. I thought I was still running, but it probably didn’t look like that. And I was still retching from time to time, unable to eat much. Eventually I rolled up at the final checkpoint again for another inch of soup – minestrone this time. And then, after not seeing anyone all night apart from one distant headtorch near the rape fields, two more runners came in behind me. It looked like I was going to be overtaken at last. I was hardly surprised, given the speed I’d been moving. And how many more were just behind them? I made my excuses and left.

90 miles done, 10 to go. For the first 6 of those 10 miles I was expecting those two runners to come up behind me and sprint past, but it never happened. The going was hilly but a lot of it was runnable, apart from the stiles. By this time I couldn’t really bend my knees much so my struggles must have been a comical sight. As I climbed back up the Long Mynd, I thought maybe I could hang onto my place after all, and I pulled out all the stops, running most of the way up the hill to the last self-clip on Pole Bank, on the most glorious sunny morning you could imagine. And then it was down down down as fast as my legs would go down the valley to the finish. 24:09:14, fourth place, and those two runners (Mark Brooks and Ian Hall) didn’t come in for another 17 minutes. I think they were as surprised as I was that they hadn’t caught me.

Race winner was Daniel Hendriksen in 20:15:14, 2nd Paul Collier in 20:56:00, 3rd Ian White in 23:26:18.  First woman was A Paque in 27:08:56.  58 started and 39 finished.  Full results are on the Beyond Marathon website.  The 50 mile race was won by Charlie Sharpe in 8:01:29, 2nd Janson Heath in 8:43:51.  First woman was Rachel Fawcett in a great time of 9:02:48.  That was my best run of the year so far, and it was a great race. Thanks Richard! Thanks Clive! And thanks to the rest of the team!


Marlborough Downs 2015

I couldn’t make it to the Marlborough Downs Challenge as I was too busy organising my own Ultra the same weekend.  Karen Nash’s race report is below, and Nick’s photos are on Flickr here.  Henry Morris has written an account on his blog and that’s here, but beware the gory photo of his megablister!  The race was won by Nathan Montague in a time of 4:14:03, 7 minutes ahead of James Donald.  First Runfurther member home was Ned Lammas of Evesham Vale RC, who was 5th in 4:36:27.  First woman home was Alexandra Cook, 12th overall in 4:52:25.  Second woman was new Runfurther member Jill Hadland of Cirencester AC, in 5:15:16.  I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.

12 existing Runfurther members ran, and we picked up 14 new members on the day, which is encouraging.  We are deliberately trying to put races in the Championship down the M5 corridor and as far as Wiltshire, to get more runners from the middle and southern areas of England involved (and Welsh runners too of course).  We’ll make sure there are some next year as well – not necessarily Wiltshire, but accessible to the runners in those areas.

Four Runfurther members have now run all four races: Karen Nash, David Wilson, Janet Hill and Dave Ralphs.  So far I’ve no idea whether any of them are hoping to run all 12 races and win a Grand Slam sweatshirt, but they’re the only ones who can now.  In any event they’ll all be getting a prize once we’ve got them ordered and delivered, as will everyone else who completed 4 counters during the year.

Thanks very much to Phil and the team for having us at the event on Sunday!

The next Runfurther race isn’t far from the MDC – it’s the Ox on Sunday 24 May, in the south of Wiltshire (Karen isn’t even bothering going home).  Runfurther members’ spot prizes will be drawn from the members who complete both the Marlborough Downs Challenge and the Ox Ultra.  See you there!

Karen’s race report

The MDC was returning to the Runfurther series after a long absence and so there was excitement about a new event, new terrain and with new people. Once we had a detailed written description and the promise of some way-marking signs we were keen to recce at least some of the route. Once the official cut-off time for the first nine miles was shortened Bob was even keener to see just how much of a challenge this might be. Arriving on Friday afternoon allowed us time to find CP1 and plan our exploration. West Woods were awash with bluebells. They were truly spectacular and we found they do have some fame. We set off on the next 7 miles and although it was muddy on some woodland paths after the heavy rain the downlands were dry and wonderfully runnable. The Wansdyke especially had lovely sweeping grassy paths. From CP3 we did not really have a plan but we now knew that we would be able to rely on the written descriptions and although the cut-off might be tight, for Bob it was doable. We decided on a route back using lanes and paths between the ridge and the River Kennet. Part way back it started raining and this then got heavier. Bob was tired and the daylight was fading. I pushed the pace, a bit anxious that we did not arrive back on the maze of woodland paths in the dark. The cloud meant an early dusk but we were back at the van before 8pm and settled in for a late meal. On Saturday we walked and jogged the last 4 miles and the first two miles with a break in Marlborough where we bought a pie each in the market and sat in the sun. A brief stroll in the woods that afternoon showed that the paths were drying out nicely in the wind.

Race day saw us up early as usual and off to meet the ROs. As we handed over Clif Bars and prizes Nick arrived and we put up all the flags and banners together. By 8am we were organised and relaxed enough to mingle and chat. It was pleasing to see so many ‘locals’ reading the RF notice-boards and also to see some RF regulars like Martin T, Dave and Kayleigh R and David W had made the quite long journey south. By 8.45 we had been herded across the road and into the grounds of Marlborough College for the start. Although the terrain was undulating I was fearful that it was flat enough to be very runnable and fast. I was correct. CP1 arrived in a flash and suddenly we were in the bluebell woods with the day rapidly heating up. It felt good to be clear about the way, especially when a couple of faster runners overtook me at CP2 having been awol.

The pace across the grassy Wansdyke was fierce and I tried to get a compromise of not letting the gap get too big and yet not going so fast that I would blow up later. Between CP3 and 4 I caught up with a guy I knew from the OMM and stuck with him all the way to Devizes and along the canal section. This made it more pleasant and forced me to run faster than I might have done if I had been on my own. Many of the runners were usually road and marathon runners. It was a shock for those of used to FRA rules to see them in shorts and T shirts carrying nothing more than a water bottle. The next section was hilly and somewhere I dropped my OMM friend. There were some dry stony tracks that started to torture my feet but the views were superb and different to what I am used to. Running up to Chernill Down and the monument I spotted a White Horse and suddenly realised that I had been here as a child. More ridge path and tracks took us towards Avebury. Here I caught other runners and managed to grab a refreshing cup of tea. There was little time to admire the standing stones and the crowds of tourists were something of a shock as we emerged through the church lych-gate onto the main street. They were though very supportive and the lines of them and runners we were catching up on the shorter 20 mile route motivated me to run up the big track out of Avebury and towards the Ridgeway.

I steadily pulled away from those I had been running with, knew I was third later and tried to catch those up ahead. The last 4 miles were almost flat but I was beat. The early pace had taken it’s toll. I could see Henry less than 100mahead but could not close the gap. The 2nd lady runner was only 100m or so ahead of that but it might as well have been a mile. I did try but there was nothing left in the tank until the final sprint. I crossed the line in 5 hours 16 and about 10 seconds behind Henry. We were presented with a beautiful handcrafted mug that was full of a welcome cold drink. It was only a short stagger to the leisure centre where a lovely meal and even more lovely showers were available. A trophy and bottle of Proseco were my reward for a hard run. Plus good points in the RF series. Once recovered I spent a couple of hours explaining RF, recruiting new members, announcing spot prizes and drinking tea. By 5.30 all runners had returned and we had collected together all the RF paraphanalia ready to transport to The Ox in a fortnight’s time. We thanked the ROs, collected the excess of macaroni cheese and went in search of a quiet spot to park the van for the night. It had been a great day out and a well organised event. I am sure we will return.

Early May News

The final Runfurther race of 2015 is now open for entries: the Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra on 24 October.   I’d suggest you get your entry in asap, as they’ve had 79 entries in the first 3 days since opening.  It’s great scenery and a very runnable route, and it’ll be a really good day.  We’ll get some information about accommodation options up on the website at some point too.

If it’s a while since you looked at the Fellsman news item, check it out again, as I’ve added links to quite a few blogs.

Good luck to everyone running at Marlborough on Sunday (10 May).

We’re working on what prizes to give to everyone who finishes 4 counters this year, and although we’ve not made a final decision it looks like it will probably be either Runfurther buffs or Runfurther towels.  We won’t have them in time for Marlborough, and probably not for the Ox either, but we ought to have them in time for Shap.

My apologies for not updating the Ultra Calendar recently, but I’ve been so busy I’ve not had time.  I should be able to look at it soon though.  Just got to get the ultra I organise myself over and then run the Apocalypse 10 (16 May), and then I should have a bit of breathing space!


The Fellsman 2015 (updated again)

Well the Fellsman weather god struck again on Saturday.  After a week with the weather forecast changing radically about twice a day, we really didn’t know how it would turn out.  We were pretty sure it was going to turn cold though: the one thing all the forecasts agreed on was that the hot sunny weather would finish before we started the race.  479 had paid to run, but 105 didn’t turn up, many of them probably stayed in bed after checking the Met Office.  So less than 80% turned up at the start.  279 brave souls made it to the end, and 92 of us didn’t.

We headed off up Ingleborough, and in no time we were in the clag.  People went astray even on the way up Ingleborough – not me, though that was more by luck than judgment.  At least it wasn’t too cold.  By the time I got to Dent I felt fine, but it was getting colder.  On the way up Blea Moor I realised I was actually pretty wet – my Goretex jacket was letting water through.  On the top the sleet hit, and I got cold so quickly that be the time I got down to the Stonehouse Farm checkpoint I had to pack it in.  I was soaked to the skin, and even with all my kit on I couldn’t warm up enough to set off up Great Knoutberry safely.  Nick Ham had to retire at Dent for much the same reason, and Dick Scroop retired at Cray.  So it was up to Karen to save the tattered reputation of the Runfurther committee, which of course she did.

Plenty of runners clearly had more moral fibre than Nick and I (or possibly it was more fibre pile) and stuck to the task.  From 3 o’clock the weather started to improve.  Still cold, but dry, with clearing skies and even some sun later on, before it got really cold again as darkness set in.  First home was Adam Perry in a PB of 10:23 (no great surprise there), with Jez Bragg second in 10:44 and Konrad Rawlick third in 10:57.  Fourth home was Jasmin Paris, in a remarkable new Ladies Record of 11:09, which was surely the top performance of the day.

The final results are now out, and I’ve updated the leaderboard.  A few times were reduced slightly from the provisional results to account for waiting time, and I’ve added Mick Cottam’s Fellsman result & Andy Armstrong’s Hobble result to the leaderboard, which were both missing first time I posted it.  Karen Nash has written up her blog, and you can find her account here.  Nigel Aston has sent me his write-up, and that’s here.  Nick Ham has also written something on his blog here.  There’s a very good article, mainly about the first 4 runners, in the Grough here, which includes good photos of Karen Nash and Mick Cottam as well.  Guy Mawson has written up his race on his blog here.  James Pawson’s blog is here.  Henry Morris’s blog is here.  Stolly’s (Brian Stallwood’s) blog is here.  Sport Sunday took photos, and you can find them here and here.  Nick Ham’s photos are up on Flickr here.  And here‘s the Strava Flyby routes.  If anyone’s got any other write-ups or photos, just let me know and I’ll add a link or post them on here.

The Runfurther Championship is hotting up already, which is not surprising given that this year’s first three races were all in the Runfurther heartland.  26 runners have already run three counters each.  Of these, Stewart Bellamy has a clear lead over Alan McKeown and Chris Davies in the men’s section, with Barney Nikolich and Michael Sellors behind them, running as a pair in each race so far.  Carol Morgan and Karen Nash are neck and neck in the women’s side, with Carol currently two points ahead.  Chris Davies is top MV50 and MV60 by miles.  Similarly Karen Nash is way ahead as top FV50 and I can already predict Janet Hill is likely to win the FV60 category this year, even though we’ve still got 9 races to go!

If we look at the runners who’ve only run two races, last year’s men’s winner Ian Symington and Jez Bragg are both well-placed to overtake Stewart, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out Kevin Hoult, who beat all three of them at the Hobble.  None of the women who’ve run only two races are likely to catch Carol or Karen, on current form.

It was my first Fellsman, and I’ll be back to get round the whole thing, next year I hope.  The organisation of this event is a huge enterprise, in another league to the ultra I organise myself, and I take my hat off to Jon and the team who put it together so well.  Many thanks to all of them!

Uncollected prizes from the Runfurther members’ draw at the Fellsman are waiting for:

  • Chris Cash
  • Neil Duerden
  • Martin Huddleston

Please contact us to arrange collection at your next Runfurther race!

Mid April News

A few bits and pieces for you, in the run-up to Saturday’s Fellsman.  Good luck to everyone who’s running; we’ll see you there.

Nigel Aston has sent us a write-up of his unsupported 100-mile run at Easter: the Leicestershire Round.  This is a 100-mile waymarked long distance path close to his home.  He got round in 31 hours 23 minutes, and his report (with photos) is here.  100 miles unsupported is epic.

Next, a reminder that we’re on Twitter (@runfurthercom), and Facebook (www.facebook.com/runfurther), and Strava.  The more you use them the better they’ll get.

All the 2015 races are open for entries now, except for Jedburgh.  That should be opening at 8pm on Sunday 3 May, so get a note in your diary & enter early!

We’ll be getting some information about how to travel to the Isle of Man and accommodation options up at some point as well, for those of you who are coming overseas with us in October.  Enter the race now though – don’t wait for that.

Over & out: next post will be when I’ve got the Fellsman results.


Calderdale Hike 2015 (updated)

Nick CH 2015 02

I’ve now added the Calderdale Hike results to the Runfurther leaderboard (with a couple of corrections made a few days later), and put the team results up too.  Nick Ham’s photos can be found here.  Karen went off to Scotland to bag Munros straight from the race, but she sent a race report when she got back, and that’s now at the bottom of this post, after my race write-up.  Anyone else fancy writing up races ot taking photos?  If so, just send them in, or send me a link!

First home was Ian Symington (last year’s Runfurther winner) in 5:31, with Edward Davies 12 minutes behind him.  First woman (and first FV50) was Karen Nash, in 6:43, and Chris Davies finished with Karen to take first MV50 and first MV60 as well.  I was pleased to finish joint 11th with my time of 6:55 (2nd MV50 and 2nd MV60), and Carol Morgan was 2nd woman, finishing in 7:20.  In general those who’d recced the route (which included Karen and I) were at a significant advantage so got good placings.  And a good day for those of us of advancing years too!  We now have our first MV70 on the leaderboard as well – good effort Bob Nash!  And yes, he is related to Karen (her husband in fact).

The Calderdale Hike has a new route every 3 years, and 2015 was a new route year.  The complexity of the terrain and footpaths around the Calder Valley means a new CH route can pose significant navigational challenges, and that was certainly the case this year.  Luckily for the navigationally challenged, visibility was good all day yesterday, but it still meant that anyone who hadn’t done comprehensive recces of the route was at a considerable disadvantage.  Although there’s a “suggested route” on the event website, it doesn’t always show the fastest route, so those of us after a good time needed to research beforehand to get a faster finish time.  So, (1) people lost time deciding where to go, (2) people lost time going the wrong way, and (3) people lost time taking a slower option.

I thought the route was a good one, with plenty of fast easy sections, but also some challenging routefinding across the moors.  Overall it was quite a fast route if you knew where to go, with most of the more difficult stuff in the first half, where you want it.  And no horrible climb up from Luddenden Foot at the end this time!

The organisation of the event was immaculate as always.  Linden and his team do a terrific job, with food laid on at all the checkpoints, and at the finish as well of course.  The checkpoints worked like clockwork when I was there.  After the hot weather of the past few days, Saturday morning was a bit of a shock, or it would have been if I hadn’t checked the weather forecast in advance.  My plans for running in t-shirt and shorts went out of the window, and it was back to thermal top, tracksters and gloves.  It was raining when I got up, rained all the way to Sowerby, and didn’t stop until just before we set off.

As well as providing Clif Bars for all starters, and prizes for the winners, we also had a Spot Prize Draw for Runfurther members.  To be eligible you had to have completed both the Haworth Hobble and the Calderdale Hike.  The winners were:

  • Jenny Garside (Ultimate Direction bumbag)
  • Ian Sanderson (Injinji Kit Bag)
  • Carol Morgan (RaidLight top)
  • Dave Ralphs (Injinji cap)

We couldn’t find Ian Sanderson on the day, and he’s told me to put his prize back in the pot for next time – thanks Ian!

My race report

So we all ran out of the gate, and immediately the first route split started.   Most runners went right on the road route to CP1, but some of us turned left to head down the more direct route, down the slippery steps, and up the slippery setts on the other side of the valley.  Just before CP1 the two routes met, confirming our suspicions: the runners we met coming up the road route were much faster runners than us, so we must have picked the faster route.  After that steep climb it was fairly easy running all the way to CP2 at the Ryburn Reservoir dam.  We’d started catching short route walkers up by this time, and as we started up Blackwood Edge Road towards Dog Hill we could see a line of them, following the wrong line too high up the hillside.  At this point the hail started.  Coats on, hoods up, fingers crossed.  Luckily it didn’t get so hard as to be painful, and it sooned eased off to rain, then stopped after 15 minutes or so, and that was it for the day – no more rain.  It was a bit of a procession most of the way to the Windy Hill CP, although there were some possible chances to gain a few places.  I tried two: one made no difference, but the other one got me past a few people.  There were options on the next section too, over to the White House, and a number of ways down to Sladen Fold.  I think the one I took was as fast as any, and it must have been faster than some, as I passed 1 or 2 more runners here.

The next couple of sections are the “interesting bits” navigationally.  The route crosses the moors between the Sladen Fold and Stepping Stones checkpoints, and there are many footpaths marked on the map, not all of which exist on the ground.  There are also many paths and trods that aren’t marked on the map.  There is extensive wind turbine construction going on, none of which is marked on the map.  Add to this that the moorland is generally pretty featureless, and you’ve got the makings of a lot of confused runners going round in circles – it was lucky we could see where we were going.  I headed up from Sladen Fold on a different route from most, with a couple of other runners following me.  I still don’t know whether it was the fastest option, but at least I knew where I was going.  We joined the construction road on Stubley Cross Hill, and followed it until we could cut across to the path round Rough Hill.  At least the road wasn’t the quagmire it had been when I’d first recced it in November.

The next section, to Slate Pit Hill, is a bit more straighforward navigationally, but there were still a few opportunities for going the wrong way (just ask Nick Ham about his recce!)  I was starting to tire a bit, but still able to run properly.  The next bit across Todmorden Moor and down to Cornholme was easy enough, and the plod up to Mount Cross was as horrible as I expected.  And now we were on the Haworth Hobble route, slanting across the valley side on good tracks, descending almost imperceptibly.  On the Hobble, this is where I find out whether I’m going well or not.  If this feels OK, I’ll finish in style.  If it feels difficult, I’ll be struggling well before the end.  On this year’s Hobble I struggled.  Yesterday, with more miles under my belt, I was going a lot better, and that really put heart into me, particularly when I considered I wouldn’t have to climb Stoodley Pike or Crimsworth Dean.

So we plugged up the hill to Lumbutts, and we were just leaving the checkpoint when Chris Davies passed me on his way in, for the second time.  I did a double take: Chris is much faster than I am, and I don’t generally see him except before the start of a race.  He hadn’t recced the route, and so had lost a lot of time.  Five minutes later, as I was struggling up the stony track where I’d broken my wrist 5 weeks earlier on a recce, Chris jogged past at twice my speed, looking like he’d only just put his running shoes on.  Oh well, at least I didn’t have to worry about him coming up behind me any more.  We dropped down into the valley, picked up two more lost-looking runners on the main road, and headed up the last climb to Nab End.  I don’t usually mind the last climb of a race, and this felt OK, and it was soon over.  We got to the checkpoint at 3:35 – we had 25 minutes to finish in under 7 hours, so we scooted off down the track and made it with 5 minutes to spare.  I felt knackered but very happy with my time.  How I’m going to manage an extra 25 miles on top of that on the Fellsman in a fortnight I really don’t know.

One of the two runners who’d followed me up from Sladen Fold was Dave Orbinson, and he stuck with me for the rest of the Hike: he was faster that me but didn’t know the way.  Without me, or someone else to show him the way, I suspect he’d have been a lot slower.  If he’d known the way he’d certainly have been a lot faster than me.  As it was, we stuck together to the end, and although he could have gone away from me on the last road section he didn’t, and we finished together – thanks Dave!

Andy Robinson

Karen Nash’s race report

This event seems to have been a regular fixture as race No2 in Runfurther for the last few years. One thing that I like is that the route changes every 3 years. So despite knowing the area fairly well this was the year for recces, especially as it was all new to Bob. Andy shared his notes from explorations and then we added ours. The middle section would be tricky even without the wind turbine construction site. Fortunately we live fairly close as it took several visits. By race day I knew what all the options were and where I was going.

We parked at the cricket ground on Friday night and settled down early in bed in the certainty that we would be woken as the organisers arrived. By 7.30 we were up, fed and had erected banner flags, banners and display boards. Even with registration and kit check it left plenty of time to chat to friends. The weather looked worse than the forecast so I ignored those in shorts and opted for 3/4s and my thicker cag. Seconds after Linden shouted ‘off you go’ it was chaos. The suggested route went right at the road but a dozen of us turned sharp left. Andy and I chuckled as we heard to confusion behind us. Our route was tricky with steep cobbles and steps that were treacherous in the wet – thank god for the handrail. At the top of the cobbles we met runners ascending from Triangle and I knew our route had been faster. It was now getting warmer- time to stow my cag. We seemed to be flying along and I was anxious that my pace was too fast but I felt fine and even my ribs/intercostals were fine on all but the steepest and rockiest descents.

After CP2 I thought the field might split again but we seemed to all take the suggested route to Ryburn Reservoir. By now we were catching and passing many of the walkers who had set off earlier and it is nice to slowly pick people off. The clouds though were gathering and I put my cag back on as the wind and rain started. It was a bit grim on Rishworth Moor with icy rain drilling holes in my forehead. It was a relief to drop to the drainage channel and even better the dam wall. Sadly the wall ended with a 90 degree turn into the wind- it brought me to a stop. Bob had a lucky escape here when a wave shot over the dam wall and just missed him. People were now settling into their natural pace and race place. Carmine was running well and came past with a cheery wave and we headed off to Windy Hill. I suspected the verge of the A672 would be faster but did not fancy running with the traffic. This allowed Andy to gain 200m and then add 200m. Oh well. Setting off for Blackstone Edge the wind was at a better angle and I tried to pick off runners up ahead. I saw Andy head off west early but I stuck to my plan and watched for the little cairn I had built. A trod took me up gently to the rocks and then a short easy run and I was down on the drainage channel. I was surprised nobody followed me and as I crossed the ditch it was clear I had gained 500m on Andy. We both gained time and saved energy compared to those who went over the top.

At the White House I grabbed a sandwich and dropped into Castle Clough. Most runners were sticking to the suggested route but not me. As I left the CP on the canal at Sladen Fold I met half a dozen faster runners coming back to look for the CP; Chris D and Carmen among them. Andy and I disagreed on the best route for the next bit and he had not caught me up again yet anyway. As I climbed to the moor eating I was surprised that the lost group did not catch me. Instead as I shut the fell-side gate I realised I had almost caught another group. Before I could check who they were or shout they disappeared off left whereas I climbed straight ahead and joined the wind turbine construction road. Not only had the windy and mostly dry weather dried it out they seemed to have steam-rollered it! I could see others floundering across the moor and smiled. I caught the group (Barney, Mike, Irish- but they had dropped Simon) before Rough Hill and stayed with them for miles. They were faster than me really but I was determined to keep up. Trough End quickly came and went and we picked a perfect trod to Limers Gate track. Another sandwich and we were off to yet more turbines. I decided it was dry enough to risk the mountain bike area in the woods so we descended together to Cornholme. We split a bit climbing to Mount Cross but their company was great and pulled me on faster than if I had been on my own.

The next section was familiar Haworth Hobble route but although they pulled ahead on the big descent we were back together by Lumbutts church. On London Road they pulled ahead again and I tried to imagine elastic from me to them easing me forward. At least there was no ascent of Stoodley Pike today and we were on the home straight. I was on my own as I dropped to the Cragg Vale road and climbed to Hollins Hey Farm but just as I entered the tussocky steep field Chris Davies appeared. This is not someone I expect to be ahead of in a race but despite nav errors and having no time for a recce he was in good humour. We chatted and pushed on upwards. By Nab End I suggested he push on but he was relaxed and sociable and stayed with me even when we met the final road and I was almost begging him to go on alone so I could drop the pace. We ran in to the finish together in 6 hours 43. For him this is likely a PW and he will be faster next year. For me it was a PB and I was very pleased to be first lady. Andy appeared shortly afterwards and we were able to sit eating and drinking together before the prize giving. Food is another thing the Calderdale Hike does well. I was still talking and eating when Bob finished minutes inside his self imposed 10 hour limit. A good day’s racing. It rained as Nick and I took down the flags but nothing could dampen my spirits. Thanks to those I had the fortune to run with – you were good company.


Early April News

Just a quick post to say we’ll be at the Calderdale Hike tomorrow, with banners up, prizes for the winners and there’ll also be spot prizes for Runfurther members.  This time they’ll be for runners who’ve completed both the Haworth Hobble and the Calderdale Hike.  We’ll draw them once I get back from running & get my breath back: about 5 I’d expect.  As for the Hobble, if you’ve finished the race but wandered off home or to the pub, you’ll miss out if your name is picked for a prize, & we’ll give it to someone else.  If you’re still out on the course you won’t miss out – we’ll get it to you one way or another – check our noticeboard when you finish.

The weather forecast is good for tomorrow – just as well, as the navigation isn’t always easy.  Since its a new route, not many people will know the way to go, so be cautious about following other people – they probably don’t know where they’re going any better than you do yourself.  Map, compass, constant vigilance!  There are new turbine workings in two areas on or very near the route between Sladen Fold and Slatepit Hill.  They won’t be on your map, so don’t be surprised when you get there.

We’ll see you tomorrow!

Haworth Hobble 2015 (updated)

Another great Haworth Hobble!  383 finished, in good conditions.  I had to be there by 6:30 to deliver the free Clif Bars for the start of registration, so it was a 4:20 alarm for me – not something I want to repeat too often.  It was a bit cold at the start, but I took my jacket off after 15 minutes, and ran the rest with just a thermal top on, & that was all I needed.  I wore tights as well though, just to make sure I didn’t worry the farmers.  The predicted rain mid-morning never happened.  I ran out of steam about 12 miles in, and from then I was struggling, with people passing me for the next 20 miles – it doesn’t feel good, does it?

The Hobble attracts a lot of very fast runners, which means Runfurther points have to be worked hard for.  First to finish was Chris Singleton of Trawden AC, in 4:09:10, with Tom Gomersall of Bingley Harriers 9 minutes behind him.  First Runfurther runner was Kevin Hoult, 4 minutes behind Tom.  First woman home was Bonnie van Wilgenburg in 5:06:36, with Nicky Spinks (Dark Peak FR) just seconds behind her.

There are always a lot of Runfurther runners at the Hobble, and 4 of the top 10 men finishers are Runfurther members: Kevin Hoult (3rd), Ian Symington (4th), Jez Bragg (7th) and Simon Bourne (10th).  The top Runfurther women’s placings were:  Nicky Spinks (2nd), Carol Morgan (4th), Helen Price (5th) and Karen Nash (6th).  Good running all of you – now we need to get the rest of the top 10 to join too!  I wish I could run that fast.

Martin Terry has put a marker down to show he’s a good bet for MV50 winner this year.  Karen Nash was first FV50 – no surprise there.  Chris Davies is still running as if he were 20 years younger, and the only things that could stop him winning MV60 this year would be politics or injury.  I hope neither get in the way of his running – let’s face it that’s what’s most important 🙂  I’m certainly going to get nowhere near him this year – the best I can hope for is 2nd MV60, or 3rd if Tony Wimbush keeps running like he did on Saturday.

We reinstated giving away spot prizes to Runfurther members, and so the prizegiving included a pair of Injinji socks each for Steve Spence and Adnan Khan, just for joining Runfurther, finishing the Hobble, and being around at the prizegiving.  James Harris, Richard Adcock and Dave Cumins only fulfilled the first 2 of those conditions, so got nothing (we think they were in the pub).  Jonathan Daniels was still out on the course when we awarded the spot prizes, so I’ve still got that one, and we’ll give it to him when we catch up with him.  It’s an Ultimate Direction bumbag/bottle in case you’re wondering Jonathan!

Many thanks to Brett and his team for putting on such a great event.  It’s such a good course, just when you need a race like that early in the year – fast and uncomplicated, in such a good area for running.  So well organised, and such good value for money as well – they should be proud of themselves.

There are plenty of photos of the event to check out.  Dave Woodhead’s photos are here, and as always are well worth looking through.  I’ve borrowed one for the image for this post.  He’s also posted a video on YouTube of all the runners going past on the initial climb up to Top Withens, and you can find that here.  SportSunday were also there, and their pics are here.  Nick Ham took photos on his way round, and Nigel Aston’s race report is here.  Karen Nash’s race report and some photos are on her blog here.

The Hobble results are here.  It’s too early for a proper Runfurther leaderboard, but I’ve posted one here with just the top 50 from the Hobble in terms of Runfurther points.  Remember that the fastest man gets 1000 points, and the fastest woman gets 1000 points.  The rest of us get points based on how fast we are compared with them (see the competition rules for the full story).  That means the list I posted isn’t the same as the first 50 finishers in the race – our list has far more women in it.  After the Calderdale Hike, the leaderboard will feature everyone who’s run 2 or more of the races, as it did last year.

There’ll be more spot prizes at the Calderdale Hike, so make sure you’re at the prizegiving if you’ve finished by then.  Anyone who leaves early will lose their chance to win one, but if you’re still out running we’ll make sure you don’t miss out.  And of course most of the prizes we bring will be for the Race Organisers to give out as they see fit, as always.  Top prizes at the Hobble were £35 vouchers for the UltraMarathon Running Store for the male and female winners – many thanks to all our sponsors f0r making all this possible.

We’ll see you all at the Calderdale Hike in Sowerby on 11 April – don’t forget it’s a new course this year, with some interesting navigational challenges, particularly if the clag’s down.  Perfect training for the Fellsman in fact!