Pennine 39 2021 – updated with Karen’s race report

The Pennine 39 is a great race, and I wish I was still running.  I’d have loved to have been there this year.  The race results are here.  Rory Harris won by miles in 5:28, Philip Withnall was 2nd in 6:01, and nearly an hour later Paul Hodgson came in 3rd in 6:53.  Karen Nash was next in 6:55, with Claire Nance 2nd woman in 7:16, and Nina Mason 3rd in 7:58.

The Runfurther leaderboard is here.

Cross Fell summit

Karen’s race report is up on her blog, and I’ve copied here too (see below).  Nick Ham was there and running, which is good news after the physical problems he’s had recently.  And as usual he was taking photos.  You can find them all on his Flickr pages, and I’ve borrowed a few to use here.

Cauldron Snout

Karen’s race report

Nav4 Pennine 39

 Not sure why 39 as it is less but what a superb weekend. Love these guys and it is never just a race but more a whole weekend of friends, banter, great food, drink  and superb scenery.

As usual I wandered p the M6 crazy early. It was sunny when I left Preston and I thought I might get a walk from Hartside on the way.

No such luck; by the time I passed Shap there was thick cloud and the Pennines had disappeared. Hartside when I reached it was a bit grim in the rain and cloud so not enticing for a walk. I had a quick chat with Mick who was resting there (in his car). We had not seen each other since early in the first lockdown when I cycled to his house to deliver his Runfurther mug! The YHA at Alston was wet and midgy so I sheltered  in the car until things improved.

It didn’t take long to put up a few flags and banners, including the two on the finish path that are such a welcome sight and guide us in and up the steps. I had even beaten Joe but YHA Linda invited me inside.  Many hands made light work so once Joe and Sandra arrived with the mini bus we soon had registration set up, gazebo erected and a kitchen full of food and drink. I manned registration leaving Joe free to tour rail way stations to collect arriving runners whilst Sandra started cooking. I also got first pick of beds in our room- happily chose a bed close to window for fresh air and away from others. Didn’t spot the big water pipe behind my pillow though! Not the best night’s sleep.

With only 50 odd runners registration was easy- except perhaps for allocating people to buses. Too many wanted to go on the early minibus for various reasons and in the end I felt I was bullying some onto the main big bus. Nick kindly walked to the chippy and got our tea and by then the YHA was filling up nicely which made for a sociable evening catching up with friends.

Even though I was nominally on the late speedy people bus I was up super early thanks to bird song, the water pipes and people moving around. The forecast was some heavy perhaps thundery showers so I opted for 3/4s not shorts (and then regretted this). I also opted to start in a short sleeve and a long sleeve which was far too warm for much of the time. A leisurely breakfast and I still had loads of time and so went to catch the big bus with the masses. There was plenty of space and only about 4 runners left for the late bus.

The early bus- Mick, Ian, Ken, Jenny. Photo- Nick Ham

Learning from my last race here I was determined to do my own thing and not get pulled along to fast at the start. Easily said! Phil W went off like a rocket and Ilkley man was in close pursuit for a while. Phil’s partner Clare was just behind me and I knew from Bowland challenges that we were a similar speed. The Tees was in good flow and the waterfalls were spectacular even though there was no time to stop and look properly. As we swung away from the river the runners were well spread out and I was pleased that I knew the way. The first few miles along the Pennine Way are easy running and pleasantly grassy. By Falcon Clints I had slowed on the slippery rocks and Clare caught me up. I took a tumble here a few years ago and am now rather cautious. They were over faster than my memory suggested and we were scrambling up the rocks next to the impressive Cauldron Snout.

Photo Nick Ham

No real CP here this year due to Covid, just a cheery marshall to take our numbers. Then it was a section on the stone track for a few km. Passing Birkdale farm I grimaced at the memories of Hadrian 100 and the state my feet were in after the epic crossing of cross Fell and having been wet for so long. No such issues today. By now we were catching runners from the early bus and without realising I pulled ahead from Clare. The sections both before and after Maize Beck bridge are wonderful and very runnable (no rock) and we made good time. There is a sneaky short cut as you approach High Cup Nick and this put e a little further ahead.

Photo Nick Ham

The view is one of the best in England but I have seen it many times and so did not loiter. Suddenly I spotted Ilkley man ahead and so my aim was to see if I could catch him by Dufton (without doing anything totally crazy). By now it was raining quite steadily; strange how this can happen almost without you knowing when it is warm. I contemplated my cag but didn’t want to stop and felt OK as I was moving at a fair pace. Approaching Dufton I passed Ken and Jenny plus two others. The CP this year was next to the village hall and there was a little crowd. No melon in the sunshine today.

Photo Nick Ham

I provided plenty of entertainment as I tried to drink my box of custard too fast and ended up with a fair bit of it around my face- ah well, it made Mick laugh. I grabbed a couple of items from my drop bag and got my water refilled before heading off out of the village just before Clare arrived. I passed Nick and others and then caught Ilkley man (Colin) as we made our way up the big walled track. I was grateful that he kept trying to run as it spurred me on. Clare cannot have stopped at all at the CP as when I turned around on the lane she was following me up hill. Oh bugger- keep plodding. On this big climb to Knock Fell I usually run out of water and have to use the stream- no such problems today. I managed to pick off a couple more runners before the summit and then as I turned towards Great Dunn Fell massive stomach cramps kicked in. Too much custard? Luckily my emergency loo stop was just compete as Rory came flying past- the first runner from the late bus. I had no hope of staying with him but decided to try to run when he did and walk when he did (just more slowly). The radars came and went as did Little Dunn Fell.

Photo Nick Ham

By Cross Fell Rory was out of sight and I couldn’t see anybody behind me either. Part was up the hill the cloud got a bit thicker – not a serious issue and I could still see a couple of hundred metres. the two tall cairns appeared and then the trig and stone shelter. On the Hadrian 100 in the dark and awful weather we almost missed this trig and didn’t see it until we virtually walked into it. Hoping I could remember where to turn for my little trod I set off for Gregs Hut. I didn’t quite get it right but did manage to cut the corner and found a trod of sorts. As I filled up at the pipe the marshall came out to take my number and to let me know there was another runner a few hundred Metres ahead. I think it had stopped raining now.

From 2019 Gregs Hut

The first year I ran this race I was convinced it was all downhill from Gregs Hut to Garrigill. Lesson learnt and I now know very different. The track drops and climbs several times- none are very steep and if you are expecting them not too bad at all. After the disused mines area the track is now much better and easier to run on.

2019 The track to Garrigill

I didn’t run every step but more than I used to perhaps. I wasn’t going to race the guy ahead as he must have been on the early bus but it was useful trying to slowly reel him in.  Fortunate for him too that we reached Garrigill together and I shouted him back knowing that the CP was off down a side road. Glancing at my watch told me that I was on track for my usual sort of time and could finish I about 7 hours. A quick yell of Hello to Angela and I was off to find the river side path. I ran this whole section seeing nobody either in front of me or behind. I couldn’t remember exactly how many miles it was so just concentrated on going as fast as I could without blowing out. The little turning up right was very overgrown and I hoped not too many runners would miss it. Then nice grassy running led to the final tiny climb and the gravel path into town. The flags were soon in view and so spurred me on to a final effort. Reward was a PB of 5 mins and my first time under 7 hours. 6hrs 55. Happy with that.  I think I have done every P39 now except the very first one which might have been invitation only for Joe’s birthday.

Suddenly I was chilly and the midges were out. Time for a shower and fresh clothes before refuelling with lots of soup, bread and cake. The whole evening them became a long session of eating and drinking as we chatted to friends and cheered in later runners. A big curry, apple crumble, beer, wine… and late to bed. So pleased to see many people finish in great times. Rory won and knocked a minute off his PB. Nick smashed his estimate and even beat his time from two years ago. Oh and England won the football match- no TV but radio updates which in some ways was actually more exciting.

Despite the late night I was up early and the flags and banners were down before most people had surfaced for breakfast.

On the way home I stopped near Tebay to explore a hillside that we frequently drive past but I have never been up despite the lovely rocky scarp slope and a hill with a trig point behind.

I wasn’t disappointed. Steep and pathless at the start but wonderful grassy paths on the top and great views into the Howgills. Only a very short walk/run today so I need to go back and explore further.

Lakeland 5 Passes 2021

Apologies for the delay to this update, but I’ve been away in the far north (Caithness) doing some walking guidebook work.  The Lakeland 5 Passes went ahead OK,with staggered start times, and the results are on the race website.  Spencer Shaw won in 5:14:32, Julian Hood was second in 5:37:43, and Lawrence Eccles was 3rd, just 11 seconds later.  They didn’t find out they were that close to each other though, as they had different start times.  First woman was Karen Nash in 6:56:44, 2nd was Amelia Churnside in 7:36:31, and Wioleta Wydrych was 3rd in 7:41:35.

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, with this race and the Pennine 39.

Karen wrote the race up on her blog, and you can read it here too:

Lakeland 5 Passes

 Another Runfurther race actually happened! Race number 4, or for me number 2 as I was injured for Pendle way and didn’t travel to Shires and Spires. It had been a busy month with Brennand Watershed, two runs with Rowena,  three runs checking out parts of L100, Nav4 Lakes Mnt 40, the Dales Skyline, a Bowland run plus some cycling and climbing. Two cycle rides and a restful damp Friday was my taper. Checking the entry list it was clear I would meet some friends that I had no seen for ages but that on the whole I would not recognise many people. It was also the day of The Great Lakes Run in Langdale plus Sabs was recovering and Carol waiting to start a mega run.

We drove up early on Friday afternoon in wet and increasingly windy weather. The rain eventually abated and we put up sponsors flags and banners. The wind was fierce and blasting down from Dunmail Raise so strongly we contemplated taking the flags down at least twice. I don’t tend to sleep well before a race and the noise from the wind had me awake more than I would have liked. I was up early to register but even then it had not become clear that Si Entries emails were not getting through to those of us with talktalk. I managed to find some runners and dish out spot prizes before heading to my start wave at 8.25am.

Starting in this way meant I missed some friends altogether and for much of the time had no real idea who was in front, or just behind and how I was doing. Still, you can only do what you can do. It was quite nice being able to pick off the walkers who had started an hour earlier and those at the front of the alphabet who had been in earlier waves. I never did catch Richard Lendon who had started just 5 minutes ahead of me. Before we even left tarmac I was shouting some runners back and this continued throughout the day. Climbing to the summit of Loughrigg we were still quite bunched and I was able to chat to Ian F.

Ambleside CP always seems far too early for me to need anything but by now I was regretting the extra layer and faffing with my number and safety pins. I gave up and stuffed it in a pocket in the end. On the steep climb to Wansfell I overtook some runners but was also passed by some faster men. Initially the descent is a delight but I am not good on gnarly bouldery lanes. I lost some places but then regained them as I knew the way down to the valley floor. Stomping up Garburn Pass I managed to eat a bag of crisps and drink a load of MF in between running the slightly less steep sections. The drop to Kentmere is now awful but at least I knew what to expect and looked forward to the CP in the village. I topped up my water and grabbed cake before again putting a runner on the correct path. This event seems to attract many people from a long distance which is lovely. Brighton man ran just ahead or just behind me for much of the race and he was awed by the scenery and the need to use hands as well as feet on some climbs like Stoney Cove Pike. He was also starting to feel the brutal climbs.

There was some softer ground as we crossed to Longsleddale and the track was less gnarly for the feet. Next up was the long long climb up from Sadgill to the top of Gatesgarth Pass and then on further to Harter Fell.

I was doing nicely on the big wide track but suddenly tripped and hit the deck. I didn’t even have time to put a hand out- perhaps just as well as another female runner did so and dislocated a finger. A bit of a shock and some small grazes to knee and elbow but I was OK really. I was helped up by Geoff who showed great concern. I knew there would be some great bruises later along most of my right side but for now the best thing was to keep going rather than stiffen up. By the top of the pass I was moving OK again. Having company certainly helped and we pushed each other along as well as reeling in a couple of others. Apparently I was first female and that motivated me too, although not knowing if a runner from a later wave  was just behind me was a little disconcerting.

Looking across the tops earlier I had predicted more challenging conditions on the tops. Before Harter Fell I had to stop and put on my long sleeved base layer- just low cloud and a damp feeling but chilly. We made good time over the tops and down to Nan Bield Pass.

Heading up from this I knew to check for the grassy area and rather vague left turn. Just before this we bumped into the ‘mobile’ Safety check who were still on their way to Harter Fell! Nice grassy running took us most of the way to Thornthwaite Beacon and there were a couple of tiny flags to help. No distant views today though and the Beacon remained hidden until we were within 50m or so.

I feared losing places and my companions as we dropped to Threshthwaite Mouth but I almost kept up and soon reeled them in as we scrambled up Stoney Cove Pike.

Then easier running dropped us on Kirkstone and the final CP.  I didn’t want to stop long but refilled water, grabbed quiche and banana and dug out more crisps. If you are not used to the Lakes or similar Red Screes must come as a shock at this stage in the race. It wasn’t long before there were just three of us. Adam was stronger on the descents but Geoff and I could keep up on the climbs. The food did it’s trick and we powered our way up and enjoyed the slightly boggy drop to Scandale Pass.

A determined effort meant ?? couldn’t drop us even on the long run down the valley to  pretty little High Sweden bridge and luckily we were still close enough for me to stop him bearing left to Low Sweden Bridge.

The pace was starting to hurt me now and I wanted the other two to push on so I could slow down. No such luck even when I stopped very briefly to refill my water at the Rydal campsite tap. These last few miles were the only bit I had not receed earlier in the month but basically it’s simple- just follow the old Coffin Road until you reach tarmac. We chatted and pulled each other along. I was now far too hot in two layers and had a stone in my shoe but there was no way I was stopping now. Just before the tarmac I realised a PB was possible and it gave just the extra burst of energy needed as we sped down the tarmac, across the main road and into the show ground.

6 hrs 56 and first female. True it would only have been 3rd place 2 years ago with that time but I was happy. Only 20 secs behind martin and only 6 mins behind Adam.

Shires & Spires 2021

The Shires & Spires Ultra went ahead on Sunday, with 220 runners finishing this fast course round the fields and lanes of Northamptonshire.  I’ve had no race reports or photos in yet, but the results are up on the race website.  Andrew Siggers (Kenilworth Runners) finished first in 4:08:41, Jack Chennell was second in 4:17:30, and William Hudson third in 4:20:59.  First woman, and 14th overall was Amy Sarkies (Northampton & Rugby AC) in 4:54:18.  Second woman in 5:07:11 was Laetitia Brighton, and 3rd Eleanor Baverstock (Harborough AC) in 5:19:39.

The leaderboard has been updated.  Continuing apologies for the state of this website.  If anyone knows how to switch a site to a new WordPress theme and customise it for us appropriately that would be greatly appreciated, as it could stop working altogether at any time now.

Runfurther website issues

Apologies to all of you, but the Runfurther website is urgently in need of major updates to keep it working.  This is because some of the software we have been using is no longer supported by WordPress, which is the underlying framework we are using.  Until now I’ve been able to keep things going OK, but we are starting to hit more serious problems with the screen layout, as you’ll probably have noticed.  I’ll do my best to keep it working while I try to get things stable again.  I need to make major changes, so it could take a while before the site looks neat and tidy again.


The Spire Ultra 2021 – updated with results

The Spire took place on Saturday and it rained all day.  But…racing was back on again!  Many thanks to Jamie and his team for pressing ahead and making it happen – it can’t have been easy give the Covid situation.  The race results are up on the race website, and there were new records set by the first man and woman.  Julian Hood finished first in 4:16:15, with last year’s winner Kevin Hoult just 10 seconds behind him.  Christine Howard was first woman, in 5:48:09, with Karen Nash just over a minute behind her.  I’ve no idea whether any of them knew how close they were to each other, as the race had a staggered start for Covid reasons.  Karen has sent me her race report, which is on her blog, and I’ve copied it here too (see below).  Charles Colbourn has written up his race, and you can find his account on his blog.

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, and you can find that here.  Jenny Wiles is currently first woman!  I don’t get to say that often.

The race results and the Runfurther leaderboard have been updated to correct the times of Lawrence Eccles and Rory Harris (3rd and 4th respectively).

Karen’s race report:

First race since Covid lockdowns- The Spire Ultra


After missing out on the Pendle Way in a Day through injury this was my first opportunity to pin a number on and to race. Thanks to Jamie McKilvenny and Jamie Glazebrook for their determination in making these two races happen. We had been away most of the week but after two days of slow runs in the Dales I was careful and restrained on Friday and just went for a walk despite the lovely weather on the edge of Derbyshire. The forecast for Saturday was poor and did not change, what a shame. It was raining when I woke at 6am and did not stop all day although I have to admit it was not ‘heavy’ as they had predicted.

                              Our fabulous sponsors- plus banners at the farm for tent meals and Romneys

Luckily we had put up the Runfurther flags and banners the evening before so all I had to do on Saturday was wander up the lane to the car park field, hand over mint cake and prizes to Jamie and collect my race number from Clare. I then retreated to the van for over an hour. We were set off in waves of 8 to be Covid safe. It meant I didn’t see everybody but I did start with Sarah C and Charles C.  At this stage I had no idea whether my groin would allow me to run this race and knew that with about 18 miles being the most I had run since late January it would not be easy. Worried that I might be forced to walk and get chilly I set off in tights and full waterproofs. I timed my arrival up at the start perfectly… just in time to see wave 4 go and a couple of minutes to chat with friends. I had some doubts about my ability to remember the way even though I had done this race 2 years ago. Recently I have started to rely on OS maps with the route downloaded on my phone but today fearful of the wet I had buried it deep in my sack thinking I would only get it out in an emergency. As a consequence I was pulled along as I tried to catch people from the earlier waves and then keep up with some for a short time in the faster waves behind. There were a few bits I did remember but I would have sworn never to have ever seen other sections! For me it was a new start venue as being in Tier 3 prevented me going last October for the rescheduled 2020 race. Once off and running the rain really didn’t seem so bad and with the first landmark being Belland (Bellend?) Road I was already smiling. All was going well and I even recognised the woods and bits near Holymoorside and the Chatsworth Rd.

I had no memory at all of this bridge!

I made it through Commonside and into the woods beyond. Then I lost the faster male runners from waves behind me. I stopped to get food and also for a wee. Just as I was debating if my memory was correct about an unmarked turning to reach the A61 crossing some more runners arrived. Sarah and Charles were in the group but first to arrive was Christine and I quickly hooked in with her and Frank. Mostly I remembered this section but it was good to have Frank and his GPS making sure and also almost non-stop chat with Chris. I do most of my running solo and was amazed how fast the miles flew by as we were chatting. I felt she was setting the pace (apparently she thought I was) so we cracked on. So far I had only had a twix, a MF jelly and some MF in my drink. At the pub at Hundall a nice marshall opened a packet of crisps for me and I managed not to choke as I ate and ran.

Why do I look like I am battling the weather while Chris looks so nonchalant?

We made a tiny nav error in New Whittington but it only cost us a couple of hundred metres. Near Longcourse Farm I told tales of eating strawberries and melon on the hot day two years ago and also realised I knew the way for the next few miles to Heath and beyond. I had spotted Sarah and Charles not far behind at this point and was keen to push on. Chris and I pulled ahead of Frank and all was well until the 5 Pits Trail. Famous last words of “it’s easy this bit”. As we sped down hill chatting I suddenly felt it wasn’t right. We trudged back uphill and sure enough there was Charles waving and putting us on the correct route. By North Wingfield we were off and alone again. Once again on a downhill we flew along chatting and missed a small turn off the main track. Chris said she sort of knew this bit and I stopped concentrating. She did know it- well enough to get us back on route and we only added about a mile. We popped out new the new houses and retail-park just behind Charles and Sarah. Bugger, now we would have to run hard all over again. Some earlier sections had been ankle deep in water or on very slippery mud but the next woods were a delight and full of blue bells. I could remember this section and gradually pulled ahead knowing that once we were on Bole Hill we were almost home. It looked likely that Chris and I would both beat my old record and perhaps Sarah too. In the last woods I could smell home and as always this gave me just the boost I needed to plod on with renewed effort. I did pull away from Chris but knew that she had started in the wave behind me and so had at least a 2 minute advantage. As we left the last lane I turned to check she was still on route and raced in the last 800m or so. I arrived at the finish soggy from rain and sweat. There had been no opportunity to remove waterproof over trousers or the extra base layer I was wearing.

                                              Leading women all fuelled by Mountain Fuel!

Chris arrived less than two minutes later and so was the female winner- delighted with her trophy and Icebug shoe voucher (thanks to our sponsors at Beta). It was only then talking to Jamie that I realised I actually knew Chris from fell races about 15-20 years ago- more as a name than somebody I ran with as I was never that fast. Sarah arrived shortly afterwards and we managed a group photo before deciding we needed to shed wet clothes and get warm again.

The route needs a few more markers in places for those of us who are not local and have a poor memory. I have suggested an option to donate medal ( I have plenty of medals) preference to fund more signs instead. The route is lovely and very varied with a much more rural feel than say Round Rotherham.

Not that we actually saw the crooked Spire in the rain

It was a great day out and so wonderful to pin on a number again, see friends, actually race and to make sure Runfurther keeps going. Thanks to the RO, team of marshalls and those who kept me company on the run. Bob drove home, although by the time we got to Glossop we were starving and so stopped for Fish and Chips which disappeared very very fast… another good reason to like ultra running.

Pendle Way in a Day 2021

First an apology from me for not updating this website earlier.  I’m now starting to get my act together – it took a real race going ahead to make me believe Runfurther 2021 was really going to happen.  I’ll finish getting the website updated over the next few days.

For now, the list of races is now up here, as well as on Facebook.  The individual race pages still reference the 2020 races, but the links should still work.  I’ll update the race details for 2021 shortly.

Anyone who sent me a request to join the membership list over the past few months is now on my spreadsheet (but not on the online version, which I’ll also update at some point).

Pendle Way in a Day happened on Saturday – a real race really took place!  Congratulations to all involved, particularly the organisers.  The race results are up on the race website here.  First home was Charlie Parkinson in a new course record of 7:15:30.  Second was Dave Motley, just 25 seconds later, overtaken by Charlie in the final stages.  Third home was Lawrence Eccles, now a Runfurther member, in 7:26:09.  Sixth to finish was Lorraine Slater in a women’s course record of 7:48:40.

Lorraine Slater, Barlick Fell Runners

Runfurther points were duly awarded, and the Runfurther leaderboard is here.  Karen wasn’t racing as she’s injured, but she was there helping, and sent me the photos here.  She says ‘Great day to run with dry conditions underfoot, blue skies, very warm in the valleys, windy on the tops and due to the later date fewer hours run in the dark. Sadly I am injured and could not run but marshalled at CP 2 above Wycoller.’  There are lots more photos on the race Facebook page.   Charles Colbourn has written a race report and posted it to his blog here.