Sunday, 30 December 2012

What will happen if i take a week or so off training???

After running at least 20 miles a week (more leading up to events) for most of this year and the year before i guess i would say im kind of an addict, more than a day not running and i get the anxious/itchy feet feeling and i end up a bit of a grump i have to say. So just before Christmas, after a busy year at work, the wife and I took the kids on a short break to Disneyland Paris. Having never been in the past I wasn't sure what to expect (apart from Mickey and Minnie obviously). Before we went I wasn't sure whether or not I'd get to go out for a run. To make sure this did not become an issue while we were there I decided before hand that I would take a full week off (this ended up being 9 days with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day).

It (to my surprise) worked out better than I expected. I could focus completely on the boys and the missus, because of this Jenny was happy and the break was all the more enjoyable. Sure I missed it like i knew i would, but as I had decided before we got there the burning/empty feeling never had a chance to fully develop into a full on grump (which normally comes when I don't manage to get out as mentioned above, hence the Grumpy mug below, bought while we were there :-))

I also had a few minor niggles, the kind which wouldn't have stopped me training but a week off would only be of benefit to them. I accepted there would be several impacts: 1) a loss of some cardio-vascular fitness (running efficiency), 2) a loss of  some muscular strength and 3) Weight gain. The first two are systems in your body are impacted by the time you take off running, the third is effected by diet (more on this below).

The 4 days at Disneyland were amazing I have to say, and very tiring. Jimmy our eldest was buzzing from the minute we got on the Eurostar to the minute we got off it on the return journey, Tommy our youngest (9 months) was obviously too young but was a smily happy baby most of the time.

The main problem wasn't the lack of running to be honest, that i could deal with, it was the complete lack of places to get proper food. It was mostly American rubbish, with only slightly smaller portions. To minimise the diet effect (as mentioned above) i opted for the best food possible staying away from the burgers and opting for the pastas and Mexican.

Now we are back (post Christmas) it's time to resume training, along with a bit of 'hydrating' and 'refuelling' as well , seen as though it is Christmas!

So Boxing Day was the first run back after just over a week, and it was great,  a fairly hilly 8ish mile road run around the hills of Saddleworth, all the niggles had gone and I didn't feel like I had lost much fitness, all subsequent runs have been the same, feeling as strong as before the break. I should hit my target mileage (25) for this week with a rest day (core/strength work) then a long trail/technical run planned for Sunday morning, detailed below with a few photos from the route.

chris249's Trail running Move 12/31/2012 - Move at

The long runs are what i look forward to in the week, the more time i can free the longer ill go for, the passage below borrowed from a running site explains perfectly the draw of such long runs and events.

'The athletes entire conscious experience of reality boils down to a desire to continue pitted against a desire to quit. Nothing else remains. The athlete is no longer a student or a teacher or a salesman. He is no longer a son or a father or a husband. He has no social roles or human connections whatsoever. He is utterly alone. He no longer has any possessions. There is no yesterday and no tomorrow, only now. The agony of extreme endurance fatigue crowds out every thought and feeling except one: the goal of reaching the finish line.'

So my concern of taking a week + off from running was that i thought i may lose the fitness gains i had seen on the run up to the holiday. The losses i have felt have been negligible, whereas i believe the benefits outweigh any losses in fitness . Firstly i could involve myself fully in the holiday with no distractions and also I now feel better, stronger and more motivated ready for next years training and events/races. The body periodically needs a week off, so i will allow myself this luxury (im sure cross training will substitute the doing nothing though).

Im now looking forward to next year, first thing on the agenda is a few training runs from the programme followed by the first Lakeland 100 recce of the year (, which is Coniston to Buttermere on Sunday 13th Jan which is approximately 25 miles of the 100 route that i will be doing in July, ill post about the recce when done. Below is a route map of the L100 (Coniston to Buttermere being numbers 1 - 4).

Thursday, 22 November 2012

treadmills and mileage tribulations

Last week was a bit of a let down training wise, my wife was struggling with an injury so needed a hand at home with the kids. I had signed up to to do the Ambleside to Coniston recce with the Lakeland lot, but some things have to take priority.

This week was better hitting the 20 mile target with good runs out on the road. Each week im just about making the target of 20+ miles a week i set for myself when i started to plan for next year. I'm aiming to keep this up until December. Then after new year the miles will increase, incrementally as I get closer to the 100 in July, with futher recces and events inbetween.

This mileage might seem low to some, but it is the mileage I ran earlier this year to prepare for the Calderdale Hike, The Wall Run and Lakeland 50, all of which I improved on more than I expected.  Also through a bit of luck (im now seeing it as this) my circumstances at home dont allow me time to overtrain, hence the reason (touch wood) i rarely get injured.  This has been and will continue to be a steady progression for me into the ultrarunning world and hopefully i can remain injury free.

What I've realised is it is going to be tough to get anywhere near the mileage I want to be running on the run up to the events planned for next year (Calderdale hike, Highland Fling, and Lakeland 100). Due to my circumstances running during the week is limited due to my wife running a dance school ( until 2130 every night during the week and as I'm site based I start at 730 meaning I'm up at 6 everyday so morning runs aren't really an option (performance at work to be considered also) . So I made the decision to invest in a treadmill which is now downstairs in the unfinished extension, as below. This has really helped me during the week as I know I would be going stir crazy without it.

Recently though I've started to question and research the difference, pros and cons and bio-mechanical effect it may have long term, and if there are detrimental effects want I need to do to counter them.

This is the question i need to answer, below are parts of a study summarised on a site asking a similar question.

Stride Length and Rate
A study by Elliot, B.C., Blanksby, B.A. Medicine and Science in Sports looked at these two factors.

No significant differences were recorded in stride length, stride rate, support time or non-support time on a treadmill compare to outdoors for men or women when jogging at velocities of between 3.3 and 4.8 m/s.
As speeds of running increased over 4.8 m/s on a treadmill compared to outdoors: stride length decreased, stride rate increased, and the length of time the support leg is on the ground increased.
So at these higher speeds you are taking shorter strides and getting longer ‘rest’ time each time one of your legs is on the ground. This is countered however by an increased number of strides per minute.

Propelling Your Body
This is the kicker here. The main difference between treadmill running and outdoor running lies in how your legs have to carry your upper body.
Outdoor running, your leg muscles mostly work on propelling you forward. Treadmill running, because the belt is moving under you, your leg muscles mostly work at re-positioning your legs to keep you stable.
This affects how much work your individual leg muscles need to do.
Treadmill running, the rearward moving belt decreases the need to pull your upper body forward and so requires less work from your hamstrings than outdoor running. However, your hip flexors (right at the top-front of each leg) have to work harder to provide stability as your planted foot is dragged back (literally) under your body.
(Source: Dave Schmitz PT, LAT, CSCS, PES Health Services at Columbia)
So in treadmill running we have a situation where the hamstrings are less-used and the hip flexors are more used than when outdoor running. This will have an influence on energy output. Hamstrings are b-i-g muscles in the overall scheme of your body – in fact, they are your biggest of all muscles. They use up a lot of energy to expand and contract during each stride. Hip flexors are much smaller and so would intuitively require less energy to squeeze in and out.
Studies estimate that the energy expenditure required by your leg muscles is 3% greater for outdoor running over treadmill running (running at 4.0 m/s).

We use our legs in different ways on a treadmill.

Total Energy Difference
Combine this with our knowledge that overcoming wind resistance outdoor running requires a 5% increased effort (at 4.0 m/s)
And the end result is running at 4.0 m/s you can expect to be working somewhere around 8% harder outdoor running than treadmill running.
So how can you make treadmill running require the same level of energy use as outdoor running?
A 1996 study in the Journal of Sports Science – taking into account the above factors – concluded that a 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running.
So if you want to match the energy required outdoor running, put your treadmill on a 1% incline.

Other Factors
Aside from energy expended, there is one important factor that makes treadmill running easier than outdoor running:
The treadmill surface is always softer than a hard sidewalk or road surface. That makes it a whole lot easier on all your joints, and without joint pain you can run for longer and be much happier about doing it.
Let’s see. If you set your treadmill to a 1% incline you’re going to get the benefits of the same energy output (and so calories burnt) as outdoor running, plus your joints will be much better protected.

The Mental Challenge
There is one aspect, not related to energy requirements, that effects how easy your run will be.
As I see it, being distracted when running makes things a whole lot easier. Distractions include listening to music or watching tv while you workout. When you focus on something else rather than your body, you don’t notice your body so much. This helps to alleviate any running discomfort. This is why running with someone or in a group is much easier than running by yourself. There is no better way to distract you from what you are doing than my conversing with someone.

Listening to music distracts from effort

But focusing on external distractions can also take away from the actual intensity that you can go to and the overall exertion that you feel. And sometimes (most of the time) actually feeling that effort and intensity is a large part of the fun. Like for my daily 1 km time-trials (which I’ve been experimenting with since the motorway run) I run without my ipod so I can focus exactly on the level of exertion on my body.
To wrap this all up, we can say that treadmill running with distraction (people, tv, music) is going to feel easiest and require slightly less energy. Outdoor running with no music is going to feel hardest, but you will benefit from expending more energy (and likely burning more calories).

So basically the above and other studies are saying it is much easier to run faster on a treadmill than outside as you are assisted by the belt. I'm of the complete opposite view. I run faster when outside. I think this is more of a mental thing, it's miles better to run outside, wind in your face, inspiring scenery and so on. For a 10k for example I can't get anywhere near the 41.01 time (my pb for that distance) on a treadmill . I put this down to mental fatigue opposed to physical. As however far I run on the treadmill during the week it's nothing like getting out on the road or trail. It's basically a means to an end, ensuring I get some miles in during the week in addition to at least 1 long run at weekend.

If its a chore to run then and you don't enjoy it and are just doing it for the end result then I guess you will need the distractions to get through the run mentally.  I'd much rather run outside with no music, I think the difference here is that the perhaps author is thinking that the runners are running even though they may not want to and dont enjoy it. It's far better running with no distractions, the rhythm of your feet striking the ground is enough for me, getting lost in my own thoughts and before I know it miles and miles have passed.

With the above brief study it makes a point that the biomechanics are different when running on the road than on a treadmill, and that when on the road you are using all your energy to propel yourself forward. This goes against what I have read elsewhere in part, regarding technique and form for efficient running. I don't run barefoot but the technique is sound, leaning slightly forward at the ankles, not the waist and keeping strides short and under you, and contact with the ground to a minimum. The foot should strike ball of foot first, and not the heel. The heel strike sends unecessary force to parts of your legs, back and upper body that dont want and arent effecient at disperisng said forces. The forefoot or midfoot strike should be directly under your centre of gravity  The leaning forward allows you to be almost gravity assisted, with the lifting and replacement of the legs keeping you from falling forwards which can also be described as running.

Stu Mittleman, a member of the USA ultrarunning hall of fame is a treadmill advocate, see the link below for a correct use of a treadmill video. <>

So my thoughts are now that as long as  good form is maintained when on the treadmill, and i get out at weekends either on the trails or road there doesnt seem to be any great problems running on a treadmill, plus it also keeps my weekly mileage to the level i need to be doing for next years events.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix??

Suunto Ambit or Garmin Fenix??
There aren’t many of us who run these long distances who aren’t partial to a gadget or two. This is supposed to be a relatively cheap sport, in its simplest form it is (trainers and simple running gear can be picked up for under £100. But to develop, and monitor the progress in our training there are all sorts of gadgets available.
Garmin and Suunto are the leading players and have brought out similar mountaineering/training/GPS devices at similar times. The Suunto Ambit and the Garmin Fenix both, impressive bits of technology. Now I have a Garmin Forerunner 910xt which is brilliant, but is geared more towards the triathlon market, but at the time of purchase had the longest battery life, long enough to work throughout the 50+ mile ultras I did this year.
I aim to get involved in triathlons in the future so will be keeping hold of the 910xt for that purpose.
Suunto Ambit
'2012 Suunto launched the first ever GPS watch combining the advanced training and heavy duty outdoor features. It has taken the market by storm, and is especially valued for its superior mechanical durability, reliable altitude measurement and water resistance. Hand made in Finland by Suunto, the original inventor of ABC watches and dive computers.'
Found these videos or the Ambit getting put through its paces, the video above is worth checking out, this guys must have some stones!!
Garmin Fenix
'With built-in GPS + ABC (Altimeter Barometer Compass) functions, fēnix gives you all the navigational tools you need in a rugged wristwatch - keeping your hands free for when you need them. Get accurate readings on your location no matter what position your wrist is in or how dense the foliage is around you.'
'Set up navigational activities to plan trips, create routes and record waypoints. Download routes from the BaseCamp™ desktop application or create them by marking your favorite spots as Waypoints - parking space, trailhead, mountain shelter, summit and more. And, best of all, fēnix will route you along your path with a clear visible navigational arrow or a track line.'
Having read both of these great in depth reviews by DC Rainmaker the American sports enthusiast im glad i opted for and ordered the Suunto Ambit, it has been targeted at ultrarunners whereas the Garmin Fenix more towards hikers. Ill give my own briefer review and thoughts when i get it....
Suunto Ambit
First impressions are good, easy to use straight out of the box, connected to Movescount and trialled it on the treadmill in the house. Below is the interface on the movescount website. Simple with all you need in one place to monitor and assess your training sessions. The firmware of the watch was updated on connection to movescount with useful changes suggested by Ambit users.

For me this is by far the the best piece of technology on the market for ultrarunners. The battery life for one is capable even for the longer ultras taking 24+ hours. The more i use it the more i realise its potential. As it is developed with the ultrarunner in mind, it fits perfectly with my requirements. Easy to use packed full of features which are continually being improved and added to. Its first indoor treadmill trial is above, the information shown is just a fraction of whats available on the Movescount site.

This weekend will be its first test in the lake district, ill update this post with how it performs.

I didnt make it to the lakes as planned unfortunately, but have used the watch on a couple of runs local to where i live and it doesnt disappoint, all information is easily accessible on the move and the information to analyse on the Movescount site is laid out well. Really good and useful piece of kit. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Its more of a mental battle.....

It more of a mental battle.......

As part of the preparation for next years event, i want to put down on paper so to speak what i consider the most important part of the preparation for next years 100, preparing the old noggin for the rather testing task of travelling under my own steam for 100+ miles.

Whether or not this will help i have no idea, ill know at the end of July next year.

You can prepare completely physically, but if the minds not fully prepared, then the task will be all the more the difficult, Stuart mills talks about this in his blog, follow the link for an interesting post concerning ultra peformance and positivity.
I agree with the premise, any negative thoughts can grow and if they take over you're fighting two battles, from my own experience I can say that I have never set out on a challenge thinking I can't do it, my wife calls me stubborn, and I guess I am, sometimes it's a good trait to have sometimes its not,
I think we are programmed with these traits or we are not, it's inherently woven into who we are, thats why only a very small percentage of the population enter these events.

The drop out rate for the Lakeland 100 this year was so im told greater than normal within the first few checkpoints, looking at the results on, of the 262 that started in Coniston 136 finished, so pretty much a 50% drop out rate overall. Around 50 of those that dropped out for whatever reason and dropped out within the first 10-12 hours or at or before Checkpoint 6. Running through the night could have taken its toll and to the uninitiated is a tough experience, the darkness is claustrophobic not really allowing the mind to wander only concentrating on a few metres in front of you making time pass more slowly. Add to that tiredness and fatigue from physical exertion and your on the road to negativity setting in. The challenge is to try to keep the mind positive and strong when the body is sending overwhelming signals that it wants to stop, i.e. pain.

I havent done the 100 yet,  but I have done a fair few night runs, paced BGR legs from dusk util dawn and spent many a night yomping through the night on exercise in the army, and endured sustained periods of sleep deprivation. What I haven't done straight after the nights exertion is then continuing for another 60 - 70 miles, this is the reason for this post, ill be a new experience for me and i think the mental preparation required for such an event is an important thing to think about. That's why over the next 9 months or so a long mental excercise will consume my thoughts, I'm already doing it, on the drive to work, during quiet periods, and last thing at night, focusing on what i will be feeling, thinking and what will keep me going.

Some extremely capable and experienced ultra athletes havent finished the L100 finding it too far and too hard, again something to consider but not to dwell for too long on.

Below are some of what i think are important factors, im sure there are more but these are the ones that have jumped out at me in the first instance.


Physical Preparation.



Mental training.

I aim to develop this post up until and after the 100, and continue adding to it as my training and experience develops.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

JustGiving Home

Sometimes something in your life makes you take note of what you have, and not to take it for granted. Im lucky, i realise what i have and i treasure it more than anything. 

Earlier this year i was invited by a colleague to tag along with one of his labour suppliers who was taking him to watch Manchester United versus Bolton Wanderers. The nice fella that kindly took us to the game was Nick Irlam, a talkative Mancunian who wears his heart on his sleeve. He told me about his son Tyler and the condition that the boy has, which is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He explained the condition briefly and the effect it has on mostly young men and how their  lives can be cut short. I decided then to try to raise money through the run i was about to do later in the year (The Wall Run, see relevent post). I raised over £600 with the limited time i had before the race. I want to do the same next year and raise as much money (hopefully more) as i can to help these young men and women and help the charity search for cures.

'Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a condition which causes muscle weakness. It starts in childhood and may be noticed when a child has difficulty standing up, climbing or running. It is a genetic condition and can be inherited. It usually affects only boys, although girls may carry the Duchenne gene. Boys/Girls with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy should have regular check-ups and physiotherapy from childhood, and are likely to need increasing help and treatments from about the age of nine years.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a genetic condition which affects the muscles, causing muscle weakness. It is a serious condition which starts in early childhood. The muscle weakness is mainly in the 'proximal' muscles, which are those near the trunk of the body, around the hips and the shoulders. This means that fine movements, such as those using the hands and fingers, are less affected than movements like walking.

The muscle weakness is not noticeable at birth, even though the child is born with the gene which causes it. The weakness develops gradually. It usually shows up in early childhood. Symptoms are mild at first, but increase as the child gets older.'

The charitys website can be found at

So next year i am pushing the boundaries of my own endurance and taking part in the Lakeland 100, a 100 mile Ultramarathon starting and finishing in Coniston in the Lake District, UK. This is a premier UK event attracting many of the UKs and Europes best ultrarunners, the record for the event was set this year by Terry Conway who got round in an incredible 19 hours 50 minutes!!

'The Lakeland 100 'Ultra Tour of the Lake District' is the most spectacular long distance trail race which has ever taken place within the UK. The circular route encompasses the whole of the lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6300m of ascent and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths. The route starts in Coniston and heads South before completing a clockwise loop which takes in the Dunnerdale fells, Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere before arriving in Keswick. From here the route heads to Matterdale and continues over to Haweswater before returning via Kentmere, Ambleside and Elterwater to the finish at Coniston'

JustGiving Home

Please follow my Just Giving link at the top of the page and donate whatever you can spare to this vital cause,


Chris Tetlow

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Lakeland 50 2012

At the start of the Lakeland 100 Coniston, the day before the Lakeland 50,i did the 50 this year improving my time by over 3 hours to 11 hrs 14 mins. I was more than happy with this improvement as it wasnt expected. Im hoping to build on this for next years events.
The 100ers about to set off, Stuart Mills deep in positive thoughts no doubt. His blog is a full of useful information and many race reports find it at
Dalemain – Howtown (Leg: 1:25.14)

There is a start loop around the Dalemain Estate of 6.3km (4.1miles).

Distance between checkpoints: 11.5km (7.1miles). Ascent: 294m (965ft) Descent: 285m (935ft)

After the bus ride from Coniston to the Dalemain estate we had 20-30 mins to kill before heading off, we stood around chatting, checked kit and went for numerous trips to the bushes and portaloos. I felt good, knowing id have no problem finishing but wanted to better last years time of 14 hrs 23. I knew i would but by how much i wasnt sure. I had trained throughout the year, ran a marathon and two ultras, so i knew i was fitter than last year. But with next to no time spent in the lakes or on the hills near where i live on longer runs due to our new arrival Tommy, i wasnt sure how my legs would cope with the climbs and descents. I would soon find out.

Otto, dog half of the ultra duo Jonathan Fletcher and Otto, who are also doing the Lakeland 100 next year in aid of the Parachute Regiment charity.
The 50 kicks off with  a 4 mile loop around the Dalemain estate which family and friends can accompany you on. I had remembered from last year to set off at a good pace so i didnt get caught in the bottle necks at the gates and stiles. The run around the estate is nice and   easy and can be used as either a warm up or to get ahead early. It continues onto a good path running along the river Eamont towards Pooley bridge. 
I was in and out of the checkpoint as quick as possible to not waste time standing around, you can easily add an hour + onto your time  throughout the event without realising.

Bobbin Mill (GR 443196)

Distance covered so far - including the Dalemain loop - 17.8km (11.2miles)

Howtown – Mardale Head (Leg: 2:11.40) 
Distance between checkpoints: 15.2km (9.4miles) Ascent: 765m (2510ft) Descent: 672m (2205ft)
Up Fusedale Beck the terrain gets rougher as you get to near the top of Wether Hill. From High cop to Low Cop you get an idea of the rocky terrain you will face for the rest of the race. Onwards down to Haweswater, this is a great section, the descent down the fell and then through the bracken is fast and good fun, with the views across Haweswater towards the next checkpoint at Mardale Head, again this year i managed to fill my water bottle with the crisp freezing Lakeland water as it crashed over the rocks and down the stream next to the trail we descend. It always seems to tastes better fresh from a stream.

Mardale Head, CHECKPOINT 10 (GR469107)
Distance covered so far: 33km (20.6miles)

Mardale head – Kentmere (Leg: 1:46.07)

Distance between checkpoints: 10.4km (6.5miles) Ascent: 511m (1677ft) Descent: 589m (1932ft)

The climb up Gatesgarth pass is definately takes it out of your legs and after the climb you are greeted by a the rocky descent down to Sadgill wood and over the wall towards Kentmere hall.  I was fed and watered at this checkpoint, filled up bottles and was on my way. All checkpoints are manned by fiendly and helpful volunteers and this definately gives you a positive mental boost. I made a point last year of not sitting down at any checkpoint, i managed it and followed in the same vain this year. Not sure why, just wanted to save the sitting down until the end.

Kentmere Institute which is CHECKPOINT 11 (GR456041)

Distance covered so far: 43.4km (27.1miles)

Kentmere – Ambleside (Leg: 1:46.28)

Distance between checkpoints: 11.8km (7.3miles) Ascent: 491m (1611ft) Descent: 602m (1975ft)

The next section includes a climb up and over Garburn pass towards Troutbeck.  By now we are passing more of the 100ers, as always passing on encouragement and being replied to everytime aswell normally by a grunt or two.  I hope i receive the same next year, the encouragement not the grunts!. As we leave the woods and we near Ambleside the tracks start to become a bit easier underfoot and sure enough the roads of Ambleside take us all the way to the next checkpoint at the Lakesrunner shop. There are quite a few people out along the route cheering us on, this is always great to see and again gives you a positive boost. The rucksack pouch was filled with jelly beans/babies, cups of coke were downed, flapjacks stuffed in rucksacks and pockets, and water bottles filled including electrolyte.

Runner Shop on R which is CHECKPOINT 12 (GR 377045)

Distance covered so far: 55.2km (34.4miles)

Ambleside – Chapel Stile (Leg: 1:11.14)

Distance between checkpoints: 8.1km (5miles) Ascent: 234m (768ft) Descent: 213m (699ft)

Leaving Ambleside it was still light, meaning i was moving quicker than last year, by now i was running with a south african guy called Jan, he had been telling me about the ultras he took part in back home in Johannesburg. He and his wife had come over for two weeks to run in the L50 and to watch the Olympics, hope the rest of his time in the UK was enjoyable.

This year i had discovered Hoka Mafates, i had used the Hoka One One Bondi B for the Marathon and Calderdale Hike earlier in the year, and was impressed. The Bondi B are geared more for the road and really good dry trails, so wouldnt be that good for large sections of the 50. So a pair of Mafate 2 were purchased a few weeks before the event leaving not much time to break them in but to be honest they didnt need it. These are a revelation. Now i love running downhill, with these its even better, the extra cushioning and oversized treads allow you to run faster, bounding over rocks with an oversized grin on your face. They may look odd but honestly give them a try and you wont be disappointed.

The route now includes some nice flat stretches past Elterwater and onto Langdale and Jan and i pick the pace up to make up time. He said at this stage we were on for a sub 11 hour time, i was amazed and continued in the same vain hoping i could achieve this time. We pushed each other on through the next few miles with darkness closing in.

CHECKPOINT 13 (Marquee in field on R) (GR 313057)

Distance covered so far: 63.3km (39.4miles)

Chapel Stile– Wrynose (Leg: 1:07.34)

Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km (3.5m) Ascent: 283m (928ft) Descent: 385m (1263ft)

This section is wet, muddy, with the rocky trails becoming tricky in the dark. I remembered to keep to the higher section away from the sodden lower section. The track disappears in the bracken at Blea Moss, and if you keep to the higher section it is slightly easier. 
I struggled prior to this section with the last climb up from Langdale but having done this section on two recces and last years event i knew we were closing in on the final push.
We headed to the unmanned checkpoint on the wall/fence dibbed in and set off down the tarmac road towards Tilberthwaite.
Wrynose – Tilberthwaite (Leg: 0:34.17)
We headed down the Wrynose Path before heading over the penultimate climb towards Tilberthwaite. The finish is less than 6 miles from here, Jan was ahead of me now so i pushed on my own. 
The tent on the car park is CHECKPOINT 14

(GR 306010)

Distance covered so far: 74.8km (46.5miles)

Tilberthwaite – Coniston (Leg: 1:11.51)

Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km (3.5m) Ascent: 283m (928ft) Descent: 385m (1263ft)
The view of Tilberthaite valley has definately stuck in my mind. Dusk was on us and the end of this endeavour was close, you can see across the valley and could make out a line of runners only identifiable by the flickering headtorches.  This line of lights marking out the final climb and final section of effort before the finish in Coniston.

I filled water bottles, took on the last of my electrolyte and rammed whatever food they had on offer down my neck ready for the last push and headed off. I was again wavering on this climb as the quad cramps had returned that suddenly appeared during the last climb. I stretched to keep them at bay and kept going. Once at the top i was relieved that it was all downhill (albeit a tricky rocky descent) down the miners path back into Coniston. After that though it was a relatively easy surface all the way to the finish.

I found the reserves i needed, recuperating fast after the last climb and picked up the pace downhill passing those who had overtaken me on the final climb. I tore into Coniston finishing at a sprint (sort of?!), like i always seem to do. I was greeted as everyone is by a clap and was given my finishers medal and directed towards a table of multi coloured finishers T shirt. It was good to be given a choice, but with the state my mind was in it took me longer than everyone else to pick a colour, i went for orange!!

I finished in 11 hours 14 over three hours quicker than last year, really pleased with the improvement from last years (14 hours 23 mins).

John Ruskin School

(GR 303974)

Distance covered 80.5km (50miles)

L50 2012 11 Hours 14 mins 25 seconds
At the end, it was time for some food and a beer or two, kindly offered by Jan his wife and friends who were sat in the school hall. Sleep followed when i finally came back down to earth from the high of finishing such a great event.
Next year its the 100............

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Red Bull Stratos sky dive from space

This is definately worth a mention, amazing achievement pushing the boundaries and limits of the human body and mind, just awesome!!

"Red Bull Stratos, a mission to the edge of space, will attempt to transcend human limits that have existed for 50 years. Supported by a team of experts Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a stratospheric balloon and make a freefall jump rushing toward earth at supersonic speeds before parachuting to the ground. His attempt to dare atmospheric limits holds the potential to provide valuable medical and scientific research data for future pioneers.
The Red Bull Stratos team brings together the world's leading minds in aerospace medicine, engineering, pressure suit development, capsule creation and balloon fabrication. It includes retired United States Air Force Colonel Joseph Kittinger, who holds three of the records Felix will strive to break.
Joe's record jump from 102,800 ft in 1960 was during a time when no one knew if a human could survive a jump from the edge of space. Joe was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and had already taken a balloon to 97,000 feet in Project ManHigh and survived a drogue mishap during a jump from 76,400 feet in Excelsior I. The Excelsior III mission was his 33rd parachute jump.
Although researching extremes was part of the program's goals, setting records wasn't the mission's purpose. Joe ascended in helium balloon launched from the back of a truck. He wore a pressurized suit on the way up in an open, unpressurized gondola. Scientific data captured from Joe's jump was shared with U.S. research personnel for development of the space program. Today Felix and his specialized team hope to take what was learned from Joe's jumps more than 50 years ago and press forward to test the edge of the human envelope."

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Wall Run

The logistics of the weekend took some working out, Isettled on leaving the car at Newcastle Station, getting the train to Carlisleon the Friday, staying in a cheap hotel Friday night, resisting the urge tohave 1 too many beers the night before because Euro 2012 was on. The plan was then to make sure I finished the wall run as my car was in Newcastle. Not finishing never really was an option. They give you a 24 hour (plus 2 hours grace) to complete, so bar a debilitating injury I was going to finish.

Even when a family member said about those who sponsored me‘nobody will think any less of you if you don’t finish’, sorry I would though,but that’s just me. You don’t sign up for these events with the back-up ofpeople saying ‘at least you tried and well done, not many people attempt things like this’, bollocks to that if you start you finish.

The night in the hotel was ok, few beers watching the Germany – Greece game, my excuse as always they helped me sleep, and I made sure I had a gallon of water before going to sleep. Which was all well and good for hydration, but ended up getting up for a pee every hour, add to that a fire alarm going off just as I was about to drop off didn’t add up to a good night’s sleep at all.

I woke up bright and early and met Kelvin Mann and his Dad Terry, who id got talking to the night before and very kindly offered me a lift to the start line which was Carlisle Castle. Due to the heavy rainfall of the week leading up to the race they had a few last minute route checks and alterations to see too. This delayed the start by half and hour, last orders in Newcastle was looking like it wasn’t going to happen.
Making our way to the start at Carlisle castle


After getting the nod we all made our way to the start, waterproofs on as the weather was looking rather grim.  Some opted for full waterproofs with about three layers under that! I thought being June was a bit OTT. I know I’d have dehydrated after about 5 miles with all that gear on.

We started to a countdown from all spectators and competitors 10 down to 1, and we were off!! a steady jog. As my training has been bitty and interrupted I had no plan of what pace to start at,what pace to run the middle at, and what pace to finish. So I just ran at a comfortable pace that I knew/felt I could sustain.

The route started flat and after running through a water logged park, (majority of us trying to keep feet dry, not sure why givent he weather and high probability of soaked feet).

After a couple of hours of running we had our first view of Hadrian’s Wall, ive always been fascinated by castles and the like so was chuffed to see such a large section adjacent to the road we were running along, made the trip more worthwhile. Some after complained of the lack of Hadrian’sWall along the route, but to be honest I was happy. Plus due to the national restrictions on even small groups of ramblers allowable proximity to the wall, I thought the organisers did alright.


I have never been to Hadrian’s Wall country so enjoyed thefirst time even if the weather was pants. The route went off road for a while,which was good news, a respite from the constant pounding to the legs sufferedduring long periods of road running. The footwear I had decided to use for the day were bang on, after looking at the route in some detail on the maps and website it transpired that the majority was on road, tarmac path, or track with hardly any (almost zero after they changed the route due to the weather) off road or on fell. So those expecting to hit some soft ground where their Walsh’s or Inov8s with trail grip may not have been the best selection. I had decided on the Hoka One One Bondi B a bit of a new concept in the world of ultrarunning. Their oversized spongy soles act as shock absorber and the only way I can describe what they are like is to compare them to riding a full suspension mountain bike. The resulting shock absorption over an ultra is something else, joints muscles feet all having taken less of a battering repair quicker and are ready for the next run planned.
After making halfway (the Vindolanda) in 5 hours 45 minutes approximately I was making good time, better than I thought. I didn’t go mad and stayed at the same comfortable pace as before.
By now I was having a bit of a to and fro with a girl in pink shorts. I would catch her up up the hills and out of check points and she would go past me on the runnable sections. Her comfortable pace was obviously quicker than mine; time would tell if both were sustainable.

The weather had got gradually better by now as we headed towards and through Hexham crossing the river tyne a few times on the way.  By now the sun was out and I was getting warmed up, im glad I saw this sign below though before I jumped off the bridge into the river to cool off??!! As if?!


The checkpoints and pit stops were manned by friendly and encouraging staff and were always stocked with food sweets water juice etc as and when required. By the 50 mile stage I was surprised by how good I was feeling (good meaning not feeling like crap), I pushed on and when i hit the sixty mile point I knew that any cramps or similar problems were not coming so I upped the pace slightly. I always, whatever the distance, seem to hold something in reserve, its not a conscious thought, maybe the central governor in my noggin is doing its best to preserve the legs the best it can. This meant a strong finish and those that had passed me right at the start were now flagging and I picked a few of them off on the last 8 to 10 mile run in to Gateshead. With about a mile to go I spotted one of the lads that I had got talking to on the train from Newcastle to Carlisle the day before. I managed to pass Carl on the Tyne riverside, he started to say something but I was blinkered and was only focused on the finishline. I powered (lol!) over the Gateshead Millennium bridge and across the line in 13 hours 6 minutes and 55 seconds in 28th place!! I could not belive the time or the position, having gauged the time against the 14 and a half I did the Lakeland 50 in last year. I was way out in my estimation, I had hoped for a top half finish somewhere between 15 – 17 hours, so I was more than happy with my performance. Here’s to next year’s events!!



Jubiliantly crossing the finish line, was great with all the support at the end, made for a really good end to an ultra.

At the end 69.76 miles later.


Me and Carl Zalek who id just managed to pip at the post!!

Oh just to add we did make last orders and a few well deserved pints were supped in the hotel afterwards :-).