Friday, 23 November 2012

And now for something completely different...

Forgive me lord for I have sinned. I haven't run on the fells for over a month, I have run a track race and 3 road races in the last few weeks, and worst of all..... I really enjoyed all of them!!

My routine over the last few years has been to race and run the fells from Feburary until October and then hibernate for the winter and get fat! This year though I am going to try something different to spice things up a bit. I will be running the Blackpool marathon on April 7th next year and this means lots of hard road miles for the next few months. Running a marathon has always been in the back of my mind but I could never get motivated for a long winter of road miles that would be needed to ensure I could do the distance justice. Since starting Uni i have been training on the track once or twice a week and I have realised what real training is! I feel like I am only scratching the surface of my potential and over the last few weeks I have been thinking of what I could achieve If I really start training properly and stop dicking around like I have for the last few years.

Going forward I can see myself racing and running on the fells and mountains alot less than I have been doing and really focusing my attention on getting quicker on the road. That said, I think its important not to pigeon hole myself as there are so many differnt things I want to try its good to keep your eyes open.

I think the reason I have started to really enjoy road and track running is that it really lets you know how bad or good you are running. Sometimes on the fells or mountains you can make excuses and hide, not on the road or track. The time never lies!

After running 35:40 at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k last weekend without really feeling like I was extending myself too much, I think I can safely say this is the fittest I have ever been, and its winter time! Its such a good feeling to be heading into the new year with this kind of fitness and I have never been as excited or optimistic about my running before. Next year will be very exciting!

Monday, 29 October 2012


Life is a funny old thing sometimes. You can be drifting through the days and weeks with only a minimal amount of emotions present. Then at other times you can saturated by the sheer brutality or beauty of the world and life itself. This year, and the last couple of months especially so, have been a rollercoaster of highs and lows that I have never really experienced before. After working towards going to University and starting a new career in physiotherapy for so long, every day is great at the moment and its so good to be learning new things and meeting so many new and interesting people every single day.

I have never felt as deep a passion for life as I have at the moment. I feel I am just getting to understand the sheer amount of things that can be possible not only in work and general life but also in running and climbing aswell. I have started to see that life is pretty simple really, find things that you love and spend alot of time doing them. You see people getting stressed and angry about things that don't really matter much at all, we all do it and its really quite pointless.

The passing of my good friend Darren Holloway earlier this month hit me quite hard. But seeing the impact that he had on so many peoples lifes, in the running world and in other aspects of his life really put things into perspective for me and many others. Darren did things properly, no half measures. He did what he loved and he did it well. I dont think there is anything else I could possibly want out of life. Do what you love and do it well, spend time with people you love and treat them well.

There is loads of stuff to do out there and not much time, so lets get cracking!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Touching the Sky

I was in northern Italy last weekend to run in the Dolomites Skyrace, a 13 mile route with 6000ft of ascent from the town of Canazei at 1450m altitude to the summit of the Piz Boe at 3152m and back by a slightly different route. The race was a counter in the Skyrunner world series, which takes in a rather tough set of races all over the world. They alternate the races every year to ensure the worlds top mountain athletes, and fools like me, can suffer in new places. The concept of Skyrunning is very simple, they official skyrunning federation describes it as follows.....

“Skyrunning” has been around for some time. Hundreds, even thousands of years ago mountains were negotiated out of necessity: war, religious persecution, hunting, smuggling, or just out of plain old curiosity. The concept of running up and down mountains for fun is much newer. Take for example the Ben Nevis Race which goes back to 1903, or the Pikes Peak Marathon which began as a bet in 1954 among smokers and non smokers.

The idea of creating a sports discipline however was the brainchild of Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti, who, with a handful of fellow climbers, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps in the early ‘90’s. In 1993, with the support of the multinational Fila as sponsor, skyrunning took off across the world’s mountain ranges with a circuit of awe inspiring races stretching from the Himalayas to the Rockies, from Mount Kenya to the Mexican volcanoes. After all, Giacometti’s term skyrunning*, as the name suggests, is where earth and sky meet.

Giacometti’s vision didn’t stop there and in 1995 he founded the Federation for Sport at Altitude to address the need for rules to govern the sport and generally manage this fast-growing discipline which today counts some 200 races worldwide with around 30,000 participants from 54 countries.

Today, the sport is managed by the International Skyrunning Federation which took over from the FSA in 2008. The principal aims of the ISF are the direction, regulation, promotion, development and furtherance of skyrunning and similar multisport activities on a worldwide basis.

So really its just fell running on steroids!!

I had run the race in 2010 but due to bad weather the race was shortened and we did not summit the Piz Boe and instead dropped down at a lower altitude. So this year I was very excited to be running the full route. We arrived in town on the friday with the race being on the sunday so we had to two days to get anxious and drink copious amounts of fine coffee and wine. The picture below is the view from our apartment!

By the time the race morning came around I was very excited about the race and couldn't wait to get going. We awoke to a perfect morning although it was very chilly at 8:30 am , far too early to start a race in my opinion. I had a quick glass of juice and a double espresso and jogged down to the square
where the race starts and finishes for a warm up and tried to see any if any other Brits that I knew were running were around but there was a mass of people being herded into the start gate and I just followed suit after i had paid a visit to the portable little boys room. I must have been in about the 20th row and couldn't get any further forward so just stood patiently while the organisers blasted out Blink 182 and Offspring songs on the loudspeakers, you don't get that at Ben Nevis!  After standing around for what seemed like ages,without a word of warning the race director began counting down from five and we were very suddenly on our way out of the square and on the road out of town. Due to starting a bit further down the field than I would have liked I put on a bit of a spurt on the roads out of town and then settled into a steady pace as the climb began very quickly once we hit the ski slopes. Once you leave Canazei the race climbs up the ski slopes adjacent to the pordoi pass before you reach the summit of the road after 3 miles and nearly 2800ft ascent. I managed to keep a fairly steady pace running most of this section and reached the road feeling pretty strong. This, of course is where the fun really begins! The pictures below shows the route you take from the pass up onto the mountain
proper. The zigzags are as painful as they look. The car park at the Pordoi pass on the second photo looks along way down, and I can confirm that it is! That is after already climbing up from town aswell!

After taking a swig of water from the aid station at the pass I settled into a nice hiking pace up the zigzags being overtaken by a few people but not losing too many places. As you climb higher into the gully between the two butresses the sounds of shouting and cheering from the aid station at the top gradually got louder and louder and this was such a great little boost and part of the reason why i love these european races. The ground here was very loose and you had to put alot of effort in to avoid sliding back down the way you came! Once you reach the aid station you have a very brief flat run along some technical trails until you reach the final climb up the summit of the Piz Boe. Two of my club mates on holiday were at the aid station and the support was needed as i was starting to feel the altitude a bit and my legs were tiring aswell. The last bit of the climb is very steep and technical and the rocks were covered with thin layer of ice which made things very interesting, the chains helped alot. The long descent down to Canazei then began, 6000ft in just over 6 miles, leg shattering! The inital section off the Piz Boe is very steep and technical, again with chains and ropes to grab onto so you didn't do plummeting down the steep limestone. I was holding my own on this steep technical part but once it levelled out after a couple of miles my shoes began to fill with scree and it was getting very uncomfortable, about 10 people came past me whilst i was messing around. Eventually I stopped to empty them but by then the damage was done and some fine blisters were forming! This slowed me somewhat in the final miles and the sheer steepness of the descent just sapped my legs, it was then a case of damage limitation. I was very relieved to be back on the road and crossed the line in a bit of a state in 103rd postition (over 600 ran) in a time 2 hours 39 minutes, 38 minutes behind superman Kilian Jornet! I learn't a few lessons in this race, you cant expect to run well on a 6000ft climb and descent by just training in the Peak District, you need more climbing and descending in the mountains, and also tape the feet and wear some decent shoes if you dont want burning heels! I have to say though, over the last few years coming out to these races in Europe and running against the best in the business, I have come to realise that these races for me are what its all about. Much as i love a short low key fell race on a midweek evening, where i can come in the top 5 and think that i'm a decent runner, I just love the pomp of these sky and mountain races and they really put you in your place. I love the fact that no matter where you go in the world there is a shared love of the mountains and these really hard courses. I cant wait for Zinal in 2 weeks, and i'm sure i will be back out there trying some new races next year, but more that that, it just makes me realise how much i love pushing myself in the mountains, I have no real interest in short low key races at the moment, I will hopefully be trying some longer harder races next year and getting more and more outside my comfort zone, at the end of the day, its great to try new things. I'd recommend this race for anyone, get it done!

Monday, 9 July 2012


Today was a day of strange emotions. After five years working at the same place I have just resigned. Now although I have known for the last two and a half years that this day would come, it still came as a bit of a shock. I have spent the last two years redoing my GCSE's that I failed at school and in the last year have put alot of effort into my Access Science course with the aim of getting into University to study Physiotherapy. Only in the last couple of months have I realised how much I have actually put into this course. It has taken quite a bit out of me without me realising it. But the satisfaction that I feel now, as everything is finally coming together, far outweighs all the stress that I felt on those long weekends writing assignments. I was never one of the bright ones at school, I never even broached the subject of going to university. I thought it was beyond me. But I now realise that it doesn't matter what level you are at, in any aspect of life. The last couple of years has taught me a vital lesson, that whatever you want to do, whatever it may be and whatever level you find yourself starting at, there is always the chance to improve and progress. Its having the bollocks and commitment to go for something, be bold, go big or go home. You only fail if you don't try something. I start University in september, something I never thought I'd do, but I gave it a poke and it came off, and I'm so excited about all the challenges and new experiences ahead. I feel like this will also allow me to improve in other aspects of my life, my running being one of them.

I am off to the Dolomites next weekend for the Skyrace, and then a week later off out to the Swiss Alps for the Sierre - Zinal race and some climbing before finishing my racing off for the year at Ben Nevis. I feel a new buzz about everything, its pretty good to be honest! My main aim everyday is to be content and happy, and that is just what I am right now.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Eddies Revenge Fell Race

This was to be my first race since spraining my ankle at Saddleworth nearly four weeks ago and I was really looking forward to it. Feeling strong on the warm up I knew I should run okay and this turned out to be the case. I have a had a pretty solid two weeks and knew that the hills on the course would suit me, I just had to hang in there at the start! The race starts up a tarmac road for about 200-300 meters before heading off up the first climb. The start was as frantic as ever and although I have been running I haven't done as much racing this year as I usually do so was a little bit shocked by the pace! I was probably in about 10th place at the top of the climb. The race then flattens out for a few hundred meters and descends steeply for about 400 meters before the long climb up to the summit of the race at the transmitter. I managed to pass three people on the descent and one more on the climb and assumed I was in about 5th or 6th place. I managed to hold on to that position for the descent but then comes the sting in the tail. You actually run past the finish and do the first climb again before dropping back down and by now I was absolutely hanging out of my arse! I could see two other runners chasing me down and thought I had better get my arse in gear and get to the finish. It turned out that one runner had gone off course and I ended up finishing fourth. Very pleasing result and that was the quickest  I've run that race by 30 seconds. A confidence boost just at the right time, off to Italy for the Dolomites Skyrace in three weeks and I'm feeling good again.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

I love where I Live!

Been a bit hit and miss on the running front since the champs race in Northern Ireland. The two weeks after the race i felt very tired and run down and had a lot of work to get on with for college and the running was the part of my life  that suffered most. Everything caught up with me. Then whilst running the Saddleworth fell race on the 27th May i sprained my ankle quite badly and this has stopped me running a step for the last ten days. But my experience of injuries over the last few years has shown that sometimes its good to slow things down for a bit and that sometimes not being able to run is a blessing in disguise.

Over the last ten days i have been out climbing, cycling or hiking everyday and its been great to get out and see things from a different perspective and do something a little different. This injury has also coincided with the release of the new Moorland Grit  climbing guidebook which covers Kinder, Bleaklow, and my local crags of the Chew Valley and Marsden. It's been great to get out and move over my local rock and have a a real adventure just 20 minutes from my front door with good friends. Its also nice to scare the shit out of myself aswell, which is quite often the case when i go climbing. But more than anything else, when i get out into my local hills, whatever i am doing, i feel a deep sense of satisfaction and belonging. I have been spending time in these hills for 18 years now and i still get excited about the place. I love where I live and I feel that wherever i go in the world that something about this place will always drag me back, its where i feel at home, in this wonderful little corner of England. Everytime i get out there i feel refreshed and content, and i hope that i never lose that feeling.

Anyway.....67 days before Sierre - Zinal...... let the training commence!

Home sweet home!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Summer Plans

It doesn't seem two minutes ago that it was new year and i was planning what i was going to this summer, well it is june in two weeks so i had better get my act together!

I'm pretty happy with the shape i'm in at the moment and its now that my summer racing plans are falling into place. I will be running my favourite local fell race this sunday at Saddleworth and then have a few long races to get round that will hopefully set me up for Sierre - Zinal in August. I will be running the Ennerdale and Duddon Valley races on consecutive weekends at the beginning of June, this could be interesting! Following this i am planning to run the Kinder Trog race at the end of June and then the Arrochar Alps race on the 7th July. Then its off for a brief trip to the Dolomites to run in the Dolomites Skyrace before Zinal on the 12th August. Then its onto bonny Scotland again for the season finale at Ben Nevis, which will be my last race of the year.

My intention between these races is to just keep the legs ticking over and get out climbing alot more aswell, i don't really see the point in putting any serious running in between these races as experience tells me that it will just leave me stale and tired. So really the plan is to keep up the cycling to and from work and college with some extened trips on the way home to turn the legs over and some easy 30-60 minute runs when i feel like it.

I'm getting excited now!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Busy Bee

It has been a few weeks since i have wrote anything here, this is mainly due to the fact that i've been super busy with college of late. I have been putting alot of effort into all the work being set as i want to make sure i get the grades. Having only got one offer from Huddersfield Uni its shit or bust so the running has had to take a bit of a backseat since coledale. Having said that i have been getting out and doing something pretty much everyday, and i've been running between 30 - 40 miles a week, with around 7000-8000ft of climb, which although i'm pleased with i would like to push it up to about 50 and 10000ft if my body and time will allow. I have also been cycling pretty much everywhere and climbing when the weather suits. As i've said before though, my mileage has always been very different from week to week, if the weather is good i may climb instead and some weeks i just feel like running alot, i dont want it to get too intense, i mean life is stressful enough, this is my way of relaxing! My aim with my running has always been to do what i feel like and if i'm not enjoying it then i just dont do it. I'm really enjoying just getting out when i feel and if anything i seem to be getting better! I decided on the day last week to do flower scar fell race and didn't really give it 100 % having already ran in the morning but still came 6th, so very happy with that.

Anyway off to Northern Ireland for the weekend tommorow to race Slieve Bearnagh, which is the second race in this years British Champs. After Coledale I am 6th Under 23 so hopefully i can push on and get a podium place after this and Arrochar Alps. But if not then i'm not going to lose any sleep. I have been over the water twice before and its always nice to go back and get together with club mates who i dont see that much of, the guinness is an important factor aswell!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Coledale Horseshoe 2012

Well the first British Championship counter has been and gone, and like usual when you think you are running well, the sheer depth of talent that these races bring just puts you in your place! The Coledale Horseshoe is a race that i've wanted to do since i first started running and the hills around the Newlands Valley and Braithwaite are some of my favourite in the country, so i was excited to run the course hard and see what i could do.

The race set off at a frantic pace up through the field and it was elbows out to jostle for a good postition before being spat out onto the road and the epic climb up Grisedale pike. I felt really strong on the climb and was passing people all the way up, if anything the summit came a bit soon for my liking, the extra ascent in training must have been working! The route then contours around Hopegill Head before a second punishing climb up to Eel Crag, this was classic hands on knees tackle and again i felt really strong all the way up. On the long descent from Eel Crag i stitched up quite badly and lost the flow a bit, getting passed by a few runners, i was glad when the short climb up to the final summit of Barrow came and i was able to slow things down a bit and compose myself for the final fling down to the finish.

I have to say i'm fairly happy with my 95th place and 6th under 23 but there is more to come, many things to ponder and many more miles to run........

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Bloody Weather.........

The British are renowned for always moaning about the weather, it's hardly ever just right and when it is, it doesn't usually last long! I suppose everyone has a personal preference as to what makes 'ideal' weather conditions, some like it red hot and are not happy unless it's above 30 degrees whilst others are pissed off if it rises above zero! Perfect to me would be between 15 and 25 degrees with a slight breeze with the sun beating down on my back whilst out running or rock climbing, as you can see i'm not picky! And of course it's usually like that for only about two weeks every year in the UK, i just hope the last two weeks were not the last of it for this year!

I have to say i was lulled into a false sense of security by the strange weather the last couple of weeks, i was afterall climbing and running topless last week so thought that it can't possibly snow again.....

Well it did

I awoke to a horrible slushy, cold and windy world this morning, my plans and motivation for a run up Alphin were banished and i have resigned myself to a well earned duvet day! I have done some form of activity be it running or climbing or both everyday for the last 3 weeks and the usual feeling of guilt about not getting out and doing something that would usually be hovering over me is non existant, i feel like a rest day. The last couple of days i have kind of been going through the motions a bit, not really flowing like i had been and that for me is usually a sign to back off a bit. This for me highlights the importance of chilling out every now and again, i think you need it if you have been pushing it, and with my first goal race of the year, the coledale horseshoe, only 10 days away it may be a blessing in disguise. Although i am sure i will out again tommorow....

I have slotted into a nice rythem at present, getting out seems easy and the miles are fun, the motivation seems to be high everyday, it seems there is so much to do and so little time, but thats good, i never want to lacking ideas for future projects, i think we need this as runners and as human beings in in order to get the most out of our potential. Life is good.

I ran Midgley Moor last saturday and felt really strong, was in about 7th place and feeling really good, moving really effortlessly through the first few checkpoint when i decided to take an interesting route to see if i could get in front of a few people, i did and was probably in about 4th place when i re joined the main track, the only slight problem was that i had missed a checkpoint so had to run about 400m up the hill to it and then back again! Note to self....look at the course before trying anything stupid in future!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cairngorms, Chew Grit and Black Combe fell race

Been a busy week this week!

The week started up in the Cairngorms on a Winter Skills course run by Glenmore Lodge. Me and my friend Martin had booked onto this hoping to learn some winter skills to help progress our hill knowledge and push on with our climbing skills. Although there wasn't a lot of snow much fun was had and we managed to learn alot of new things, will be going back again to do something else in the future, i would highly recommend the place if you are interested in advancing your hill knowledge and they offer courses that would benefit anyone who gets out in the hills and mountains. This was the first time i'd been to the Cairngorms and i loved it, a really wild place, hope to head back up later this year for a proper look around.

College was cancelled on friday and the weather being good i decided to get out on the local rock and headed up to Dovestones Edge, the first time i've climbed outdoors since going to Thailand for christmas and new year in 2008! Alot of the routes were slimy and a bit wet but we managed to find some dryish ones in the lower grades, this being the first time Martin had climbed outside i hoped he wouldn't be too put off! We manged to get up three routes, Central tower (Vdiff) , Question Mark (HVD) and another route that looked dry but i wasn't sure what it was. Having been climbing indoors for the last few months it was great to get out and actually do some real climbing again! Hope to keep getting out regularly on the local grit and get out on some classic mountain routes in the Lakes and Snowdonia over the next few months to get a good grounding for the Alps.

On saturday i finally managed my first race of the year. Black Combe fell race (8 miles / 3400ft ascent) is a really tough early season race starting from the village of Silecroft on the Cumbrian coast. The route heads straight up towards Black Combe before skirting around the back and over onto White Combe before dropping down and reascending Black Combe again and then a great descent back to Silecroft to the finish. I felt good early on before fading somewhat on the hard second climb. Despite losing a few places on the final ascent and the descent i finished in 31st place out of 197, which i am quite pleased with early in the season, need more ascent in my legs though!


Sunday, 12 February 2012

A bit of a stall

After a few good weeks with the winter weather being kind and managing to avoid any nasty winter cold viruses, it was inevitable that something was going to go, and maybe a blessing in disguise both came at the same time! After planning on running the Long Mynd Valleys race last weekend and opting out due to a heavy snowfall locally i wanted to do the Winter Hill race this morning near Horwich, but the ice and a dose of man flu put paid to that.

Found out this morning that i have got a place in the Ben Nevis race on September 1st, which is very pleasing as i haven't raced it for two years and in my view is the finest race in the UK, not the route as such (although there is something about racing up and down the highest mountain in Britain) but more about the history and atmosphere, that's not even mentioning the great night on the beer afterwards. This also confirms my travel plans for the summer, seeing as i can fly from Geneva to Edinburgh for 40 quid there doesn't seem much point in going home until after the Ben so i will extend my trip by another week and head up to Fort William straight from Chamonix. My main racing aims now being the British Championships , Sierre - Zinal and Ben Nevis, I will be playing it by ear as to any other races i run this year.

This gives me a bit of a focus now and i hope to get as much ascent in as possible locally throughout the week and then races or long runs at the weekends aswell as pushing on with the climbing. I have a great route i can run from my front door that is all off road to the top of Alphin pike and back, it works out at around 9 miles with 2200ft ascent that is mostly runnable all the way and usually takes between 1:25 to 1:35 at a steady pace depedning on conditions,it is such an enjoyable run in that it has everything apart from any flat!! Nice fast tracks, bogs, steep climbs, gentle climbs, and really good descent as you can see from the picture below.  I hope to run this route a few times a week for the next few months to get a good solid base in for going to the alps. And maybe i'll finally get a race in at some point as it's been 4 months now. The pictures below show my favourite local hill, Alphin.                                                     

                  (Photos from and

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

January Stats

Kind of going against my last post but hey ho! Been keeping my dairy for a month so thought i may as well share it on here......

Miles run - 151.7
Feet of Ascent - 29750 ft
Number of Runs - 20
Climbing or Hiking days - 8
Rest days - 3
Longest run - 14 miles / 4000 ft ascent

Pleasing start to the year,want to keep up this level of mileage and ascent for Febuary then push it on a bit if things are going well at up until Coledale race. Going to race at Long Mynd Valleys on sunday but wont be tapering for it as my first goal race isn't until April 14th at Coledale.

Saturday, 28 January 2012


A tad belated but Happy New Year

Things have been progressing well, have been steadily increasing the miles and although the weather has been a tad grim at times i've enjoyed every single run since the new year.

I have been thinking more and more about structure in my running..... and have decided not to bother.

It just goes against every single reason why i run, i have tried in the past to do specific training sessions on specific days of the week and find i soon get bored, very quickly. I had ideas of periodising my training up until Sierre - Zinal this august but i was getting obsessed with stats, how many miles, how much ascent etc etc and thought that this was just not me. Yeah maybe i would run quicker and progress more if i did 'train' properly ( I have started to hate the word training) but then again maybe i wouldn't, if the enjoyment factor isn't there would i retain the motivation? I'm not sure that works for me at all. I have felt a significant shift in my attitude towards running since getting back out there, and it's most certainly not results driven, it's about exploring new places and feeling that sense of belonging in an enviroment i feel at home in, day to day challenges and experiences and feeling more in tune with my surroundings. Having said that i still haven't lost the desire to race, i hope that this new way of approaching my running, that of running as and when i feel, will actually improve my performances in the races that i do. This last month i have been deciding on the day what i feel like doing, if i have felt good i have run long and fast if not short and slow, and i have never been so motivated to get out and run as now, so something may be working, only time will tell.

I have deciced to open my 2012 racing account next weekend at the Long Mynd Valleys race in Shropshire, 11.5 miles / 4500ft ascent , a race i haven't run since 2007, it's a real tough race with 3 steep climbs in the last 5 miles, I am really looking forward to pinning a number on my vest again and hope it will give me a good indication of how i am running at the moment.

I have also got back into climbing after a 3 year break, and am really enjoying it again, only been indoors for the last couple of weeks but hope to get a bit stronger and confident and get back outside in the coming weeks. Me and my climbing partner have booked onto a winter skills course in the cairngorms at the end of febuary and i hope to combine this with a crevasse rescue course in the spring and then hopefully with my rock climbing experience can make a nice step up into the alps this summer as well as getting out on the rock more.

All in all it's an exciting time at the moment,  and with work, studies, running and climbing i am really busy. I will also hopefully know soon where i am going to be living for the next 3 years of my life, would be nice to know!