All posts by Sally Nash

TRC reaches new heights on the Bob Graham Round

by Simon Barnett

In a similar way that Tony Ruberry felt compelled to put pen to paper in 2008 to capture his viewpoint of the first Tring Running Club Bob Graham Round (BG) after a long absence, I too feel a duty to make a record of a stupefying performance by relatively new member Hugh Chatfield on Saturday 18th June 2022.

The BG has gained prominence in recent years and is now quite widely known. It’s a 66 mile route with 27,000 feet ascent visiting the same 42 peaks as visited by local hotelier Bob Graham within a 24-hour period in 1932, reputedly whilst eating greengages and wearing plimsolls.

Hugh started running with TRC in the autumn making a stand-out debut by being first TRC runner at his first Chiltern League cross country race. He’s no stranger to endurance challenges with an Iron Man triathlon behind him among other events.

Hugh lives on the other side of the county but was attracted to TRC by the prospect of getting out on the fells more with like-minded people. So far it’s looked like a good decision.

Hugh laid down a form marker in the spring by finishing third in the Edale Skyline, with one of the two runners in front being George Foster – currently the fastest English person to have finished the BG. Through the spring Hugh had numerous visits to recce the round and to construct a sensible target time. He settled on 18 hours and had the tricky task of pulling together a team of capable supporters.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Hugh for 18 months, and know that he doesn’t do anything slowly and doesn’t like to be idle. It was no surprise that the day before his round he not only shopped for and prepared an evening meal, but went for a family walk up Walla Crag as well.

A fast schedule has the considerable benefit of minimising or eliminating running through darkness. So a short while before dawn in a deserted Keswick High Street, save for Hugh’s partner and Dad and a couple of sober looking men that walked past, he set off at a fast lick.

The reasons that I’ve not run with Hugh before quickly became obvious as he started opening the gates for me to pass through. I could see something special was unfolding as he broke into a walk at the first significant bit of climb. He was effortless and ruthlessly efficient, long legs striding forwards simply eating up the ground. I was having to jog to keep up and by now, not even ten minutes in was sweating profusely whilst Hugh was clearly very well within his comfort zone.

The full moon illuminated the fells and the breaking dawn soon meant head torches were unnecessary. Large groups of descending walkers wished us well. A spectacular sunrise greeted our approach towards Skiddaw before hitting some cloud with a strong tailwind on the summit ridge.

Hugh eased himself to Threlkeld, where fell-running legend Steve Birkinshaw had got up early to support Hugh on the next leg. And so Hugh’s day continued, and I hope will be captured fully elsewhere. He picked up time along the way, eating away at the schedule leaving his supporters and the dot-watchers wondering just how fast he could go.

There was a little pick-me-up on Leg 3, with Matt Wade, as the leading runners from the Great Lakes fell race started to gradually overtake more or less being on the same route from
Esk Pike as far as Scafell Pike, with many encouraging words and looks of wonderment as Hugh was bucking the trend by carrying his own vest pack and to a large extent being self-sufficient.

It seemed that nothing could get Hugh down. Upon arrival at Wasdale he was in fine form, merrily taking care of his own feet whilst brushing off the fact that a lot of the food he was hankering after was not available thanks to an over-zealous car parking attendant.

Claire Shelley put in a shift on the last Leg and Hugh was accompanied by his partner Millie on her bike blaring out music for the last few road miles, despite having taken a tumble earlier in the day when her chain got stuck.

I’m only sad that I could not be at the Moot Hall in the early evening for Hugh’s triumphant return after an astonishing 17hrs and 17 minutes. Talk about finishing in time for last-orders or before the Keswickian stops frying chips!

There is a special page on the Bob Graham website that marks sub 18hr rounds. Hugh’s name will soon be up there, most likely in the top 20, alongside a stellar who’s who including Killian Jornet, George Foster, Jasmin Paris, Billy Bland, Finlay Wild, Kim Collison, Steve Birkinshaw & Rob Jebb.

I count myself very fortunate to have been able to witness such a fine athletic performance. It’s a day that will no doubt live very long in the memory.

Hugh Approaching Scafell Pike

REMENISCING: EDALE SKYLINE 27 MARCH

Whiling away the Motorway miles on the way to Edale I wondered how many times I had made this journey on the weekend the clocks change.  It occurred to me that it is 40 years since I first did it.  1982 was the year I joined Dark Peak Fell Runners and the Bob Graham Club and had my first full season on the fells.  My first attempt at the Skyline was a torrid, dehydrated affair, I remember.  Maybe there is some symmetry, maybe this year I should get the Joss Naylor done as a bookend and bow out.  It is becoming undignified to be chasing cut off times.

It is always a nostalgic weekend, seeing old friends, the people who mentored my first runs out in the hills, who took me to the Lakes to try out the big Lakeland events which were the body and soul of fellrunning then.  Now they are greyer or hairless and some no longer even with us.

The Edale Skyline is not the Wasdale but it still commands respect, something which seemed to be lacking in the Tring team.  And we had a team plus.  Paul B had gone down with the Covid so was a non starter.  Andy C decided that one 20 plus mile run on a weekend was not enough and set out to run the Kinder Dozen on the Saturday.  Basically it involves ascending and descending  the Kinder plateau 12 times by tortuous rough heathery hillsides.  Jerome confessed that his new job has meant he hadn’t actually done any training.  Hugh texted me in the days before and asked, rather randomly, if he should run in fancy dress.  What did he think this was the London Marathon or something?  I did suggest he wore a deep sea divers costume in the hopes I might beat him.  But to turn up with no training or after a twelve hour run or in fancy dress does not give the race respect. I had arranged to meet Hugh and Andy in the Rambler but when I got there I saw neither.  Apparently Hugh was there fast asleep under a table not having had a single pint but I never saw him and settled down with my beer and chatted to the landlord who told me he had narrowly avoided being killed by a falling tree in storm Arwen.  It had caught him a glancing blow and he had got away with just two days in hospital and a lot of physiotherapy.  A bunch of Dark Peakers breezed in.  It is the tradition that they sleep on the floor of the Village Hall before the race rather than drive the hour home to their beds in Sheffield.  It’s the sort of club they are. We reminisced about the old days of fell running and how social media is killing clubs.  Andy joined us for a pint of shandy and I had a pint more than I really should have but the beer was so good I made my way back to my tent feeling no side effects.

I woke to a perfect morning.  The sun melting a light frost, a light haze making the hills look a little bigger than they are.  It was the sort of day when you ask yourself why would anyone not want to run round the valley skyline.  Jerome turned up at registration having made an early start from home.  He helped out at the Spine Race in January was ‘rewarded’ with a free entry for next year.  You’ve got to be either deranged or non human to do it once but to do it twice??  I have to say he does seem perfectly ranged and human when you speak to him but….

Anyway off we set up the hill and I was feeling rubbish.  All the way to Edale Cross I was stumbling along wondering if I should just go home.  Someone behind me was chatting:  ‘I just want to get round, not suffer too much, not injure myself and enjoy the day’  I heard him say.  That sounded like a plan.  At Edale Cross the marshal was an old mate and somehow seeing him picked me up and I settled into a good rhythm all along the slabs over Brown Knoll.  People stopped overtaking me and not because I was last.  Andy C was still behind me somewhere.  For every year I have done this race the marshal at Rush up Edge was Roger Baumeister.  Roger was the first person to compete a double Bob Graham within 48 hours.  On my own BG Roger picked me up at Dunmail when I was ready to give up.  He fed me boiled sweets and I followed him footfall by footfall all the way to the Langdale Pikes when I started to believe again.  He always used to give me a great bear hug when I passed his marshal point.  This year he wasn’t there.  Apparently he was away on a cruise.  Life moves on.

I was feeling better now and the good weather had brought out lots of walkers who made me feel like I was almost leading the field despite the fact I was almost last.  People kept me up to date with Hugh’s progress: ‘Oh, your mate’s in second’  I kept being told.  ‘Wow’, I thought, ‘hope he doesn’t blow up, that’s a quality run.  There are some good guys out today.’

The paving slabs had heated up my feet and I felt a blister forming.  I rather surprised the small girl who gave me a cup of water at Mam Nick by pouring it down my sock but it cooled the hotspot.  The ground was baked dry and even when not on the paving slabs it was like running on a road.  I think in the whole race I only ran through about 25m of mud and all the rest was hard pack.

On Lose Hill for the first time Pete and Maggie Lewis were not marshalling.  Pete set out from the Moot Hall with me that day in August 1982:  ‘I’ll just take a small bag and see how I go.  Might go all the way.’  Pete retired at Threlkeld but that saying lived on in Dark Peak history.  Maggie tried the round twice and on her second attempt came out of the ginnel onto the High Street as the clock was striking.  Fred Rogerson was there to confirm she had missed membership by 12 seconds.  Nobody knew what had happened to Pete and why he wasn’t in his customary position.

I had caught a few people along the Ridge and was pleased that none of them came past on the descent.  I was still feeling quite perky when I crossed the valley floor but on the climb up to Hope Brink my legs turned to jelly and it was a painful shuffle up to Win Hill.  The hard ground had been unforgiving on the quads and they had nothing left to give.  It’s always a struggle back from here, first down to Hope Cross and then gradually up onto Kinder Edge.  I think even Hugh suffered a bit here and lost his second spot  I thought of the days when I would have run this purposefully as I walked and occasionally managed  a shuffling jog.  Eventually I got back up onto the Edge and caught the breeze which cooled and soothed me.  Once again back down from Ringing Roger to the finish.  My slowest ever time.

Things move on.

I sat in the sun outside the Village Hall and Andy came in having beaten the cut offs but not mush else.  We ate our pies and drank our tea and complained about the lack of support from the rest of the team.  Hugh and Jerome were long gone.  I guess they hadn’t had  a lot of support form us.  I’m sure Hugh will be cursing himself for not breaking three hours.  Not a bad run though.  Probably would have beaten me even if he had worn the divers stuff.

RESULTS

1     George Foster          Matlock  2.39 .58

3     Hugh Chatfield                        3.00.00

137 Jerome McAllister                   4.14.47

179 Rick Ansell                              4.47.54

197 Andy Collings                          5.15.49

215 started 198 finished.      

(The winner, George Foster, has the third fastest BG time.  Matlock have an awful lot of exceptional runners.  Must be something in the water….)

TEAMS

 1 Matlock  12

 6 Tring      265….

7 Teams finished.

We absolutely stuffed Holmfirth.

NEW CHEW RACE REPORT

Rick Ansell

It was a wild morning as I drove over to Greenfield from Sheffield, the wind tearing at everything loose and driving the rain in sheets and this was the weekend before Eunice arrived.  When I walked into the Sailing Club that is used as the Race HQ one of the organisers looked up: “Ah Rick, we knew you’d make it.  Have you ever missed this?”  I thought for a moment.  I reckon I have done it every year since 1993 apart from last year when it was cancelled and one year when my wife decided we had to go to Majorca for a long weekend in the middle of February.  I’m not sure I have quite forgiven her for that.

As I pulled on my stripes in the changing room the guy next to me looked across: “Tring Running Club, you must be Rick”.  And so I met new member Patrick Butlin.  There is a choice of two courses: ‘Short’ when you have 3.5 hours to find as many checkpoints as possible and ‘Long’ when you get 4.5 hours.  Patrick was on the Short and I was doing the Long.  He set off before me and obviously finished a lot before me so I didn’t see him at the end but he has an entry for Edale Skyline at the end of March so hopefully we’ll meet up again.

This is very much an old school event and all the better for it.  You carry a control card and clip it with a needle punch at each control.  In recent years the organisers have caved in to pressure and painted a white blob on the top of the stake that holds the clipper but otherwise the stake is perfectly camouflaged against the moor and there is no orienteering kite to see from the distance.  You have to get to where you are going to see the thing. 

“I’m glad to see you have some new trousers” said the lady on the kit check.   “The ones you used to wear had so many holes in I’m not sure I would have allowed them”.  I quadrupled pinned the control card to the said trousers and set off into the gale.  There were some tempting high scoring controls way out to the east on the other side of the Crowden Valley but the thought of having to battle all the way back from there against the wind had me looking at options closer to home.  There was a slew of 20 and 30 point controls to the south of the Chew Reservoir and then a line of 30s heading north so a circuit of the moor staying mostly high seemed like a better choice.  Never too far from home if time gets short. 

In the old days these moors were largely a bare peat desert and easy to run over.  In recent years an army of do-gooders, environmentalists and wild life protectors have re-vegetated the moor and now, despite the best efforts of families from Manchester who come up here in the summer to have barbecues and then set the moors alight, they are covered in think mosses, heather and tussock grass, all of which hold the water.  It is almost impossible to run on now.  And for the first time on this event I didn’t see a single hare or even hear a golden plover.  Actually, I wouldn’t have heard a plover even if there was one with the roar of the wind in my ears and the flapping of my hood against my head.

Two hours done and things seemed to be going fairly well so I decided to drop into the Crowden Valley to collect 40 points before climbing back out again and heading north to get the four 30 pointers.  I got to the last one with 55 minutes left.    I knew I was going to have to negotiate the horrible steep rocky descent to the north end of the Dovestones Valley and then the long run round the Reservoirs to the finish.  I have run in this way many times before and I know it takes about 30 minutes.  I was wondering if time was getting short.  Could I get down to the track in 25 minutes?  I punched my last control by a waterfall, a great peaty brown surge of water piling over the rocks and saw I had 21 minutes left and still 400m of clambering over wet slippery rocks to get to the track.  In a triumph of hope over experience I told myself it would be fine and I would be back in time. 

The run in is not easy.  After fours hours of bog and tussock it isn’t like just doing a Park Run.  The gale was against me.  Every dog walker seemed determined to ensure their dog lead entangled my legs and every other walker made it their mission to step in front of me and block progress.  I was seven minutes late and in a very bad mood.

The Mountain Rescue boys were hanging about the door of the Sailing Club hoping to cadge a free lunch and a cup of tea.  “I remember the days when you used to have such amazing red hair, Rick.  Now each year it looks greyer and greyer”  “Well, at least I’ve still bloody got it” I said which shut him up as he took off his cap and polished his hairless pate.

A fabulous slice of cheese and onion pie and a couple of cups of tea and my equanimity was restored.  Even though I had lost 21 points, I don’t think I would have improved on my score by taking a different route back in the last hour, getting fewer points but arriving on time.

RESULTS LONG

1  Martyn James 517 points

13 Rick Ansell     319  (1st V60)

35 finished

Patrick didn’t appear on the results at all.  Apparently his control card had blow off his shorts and although he had continued and clipped his map instead, he had felt he couldn’t ask for a result.  A shame really as the organisers are very laid back and would, I’m sure have accepted the map instead of the control card.  I was worried about losing my card and had punched the map as well just in case..  He reckons her would have been 4th on his course, a fine result.  Tring has another fell runner.

Mercia Hill Trial

By Rick Ansell

On Saturday it was sad to hear of the death of Thich Nhat Hahn the man who gave the world ‘Quitefulness’

Paul B had entered the Mercia Hill Trial and then, needing a lift, had told me I should too.  We picked him up at dusk after he had returned from Box Hill.  Paulette and I had booked to camp at the Green Dragon pub while Paul had booked into a glamping pod where he was provided with two duvets and a heater to stave off the bitter chill of the Welsh night.  I think the temperature went down to about +5C.  We had a convivial evening in the pub, though I’m not sure Paul has read too many of the teachings of the late ‘Thay’.

I’ve done the Mercia Hill Trial several times and usually enjoyed it.  It is supposed to be a sort of mountain navigation event, normally about 16 – 18 km over the relatively benign Shropshire Hills; a good winter’s day out without being epic.  It usually involves 6 – 8 checkpoints and a bit of genuine route choice and, if the cloud is in, a need to concentrate on the compass. 

This year the event was held on the Breidden Hills near Welshpool a new area for me.    They proved to be a fairly small area of steep hills, grassy at the very top but covered in thick brambles, bracken and gorse lower down with patches of forest.  To get in the necessary distance the route was going to have to be very convoluted and in fact was really a ‘Long ‘O’’ type of event rather than a proper hill run. 

Now, I very much enjoy navigating over the hills but traditional orienteering: rooting around in a forest for a tree stump or shallow pit ‘is not my cup of meat’ (to quote a nonVeganuary Dylan line)*.  At least when you do go orienteering you are usually given a very accurate map that clearly shows the tree stump or shallow pit you are required to find.  We were given an old OS 1:25,000 map that had been ‘blown up a bit’.  We never learned by how much so it was initially quite difficult to understand the scale and gauge how far one had to go before you could expect to find what you were looking for.  We were also told that there were no orienteering kites at the site and that the SI box where we had to dib had been ‘slightly hidden, so you might have to look around for it when you get to the spot’.  It didn’t take too long to discover that the ‘spot’ we were looking for was not usually a feature marked on the map.  The first one was ‘between two oaks’ in a wood where it was…difficult to see the oak from the trees…., the next was ‘lone tree’ on a slope covered in ‘lone’ trees.  We had ‘between two pines’ in a copse of pine trees, 2m boulder, large bush beside fence (which was essentially a hedgerow).  Not one of these features appeared on the map.  So you had to go to the rough sort of area and then cast about till you found the correct bush, lone tree, boulder, etc. There were quite a few features like buildings and tracks that did not appear on the map but were very clearly extant on the ground.  There were also a good few public rights of way marked on the map but as we all know from the small print of any OS map: public rights of way marked on the map do not necessarily indicate that any actual path or track exists on the ground.  And usually it didn’t.  Progress was halting at best and frustrating most of the time.  I know the old story about bad tools and bad workmen and I’ll certainly put my hand up for being a bad workman when it comes to proper orienteering but the tools really were none to clever either.  Still, when you look at the results it is clear that most people managed rather better than we did.

The organisers didn’t like the look of Paul’s fell running CV (or maybe it was just his Facebook page picture) and told him that he needed to run with a partner or run the Short Course.  After some discussion and much beer it was decided that he would be unlikely to come to too much harm in these hills and that we would both run as individuals with Paul starting just in front of me.  I’d only gone about 500m when I found him hiding behind a tree and we both realised that we were lost already.  It was Paul who worked out where we were and we were soon sailing past those two oak trees without seeing the control.  This set the tone for the day and I think we only actually got one of the 18 legs completely right.  For all the others we would over run or miss it or get lost and spend a while working out where we were and it did feel like there were quite a few others going through the same process. 

The views from the hill tops were nice and it was good to be out running in a new area but I did find my sense of humour rather ebbing away.  Some legs required us to climb or descend a 200m hill only to turn round and come all the way back down/up again.  Things weren’t improved when I suddenly developed a nose bleed.  I am prone to these but they are usually triggered by high altitude, dust and heat.  We didn’t quite reach 400m, it definitely wasn’t hot and was mostly pretty muddy so I put it down to repeatedly sticking a small plastic stick up my nose in the last week.  I could either lie down and wait for it to stop or keep going.  I was already worried about being benighted on the course with Paul and without a torch so I opted to keep going.  My beard which was last seen by a barber sometime before Christmas acted as a pretty good blood bank and judging by the reactions of families out for a Sunday stroll, I must have looked like something left over from Hallowe’en or a lost extra from a film set.  I tried stuffing it with wet moss but that made breathing difficult and did nothing much for my appearance.

Eventually we passed Rodney’s Pillar, a much more commanding feature than Paul’s Knob, as I mentioned to my companion, and were on our way home and we were both looking forward to a cup of tea.   When we got back mine was the only car left in the carpark and the organisers were looking for our emergency phone contacts.  There was no tea.

* Vegan alternative:

‘I got brown rice, seaweed and a dirty hotdog

I got a hole where my stomach disappeared’

(A pint to the first person to tell me the name of the two songs.)

RESULTS

1  Kristof Nowicki  2.06.19

25 Rick Ansell        3.53.06

27 Paul Bayley       3.54.41

34 started 2 never returned.

The TRIGGER Marsden to Edale Race

By Rick Ansell

Three Tringers entered the Trigger, but one, let’s just call him ‘Andy’*, looked at the weather forecast and suddenly realised that he had booked a weekend in the gym at great expense so wouldn’t be running. Thus two thirds of a Tring Team assembled in the dawn light at Marsden Cricket Club.  Actually it might be more accurate to say one third of a Tring team and a hanger on at the back.

The evening before, Hugh texted to ask if I knew the route and should he follow the main paths.  I was tempted to encourage him to stick closely to the Pennine Way all the way to Edale and perhaps do an extra loop over Brown Knoll and Mam Tor at the end.  To be fair, though, even if I had managed to persuade him to do an extra five miles, he would have arrived in Edale long before me.

This race has gone through lots of permutations.  Back in the day it was held in early December and  organized by the great Sheffield based mountaineer Tanky Stokes and was knows universally as Tanky’s Trog.  In those days the route missed out most of Kinder Scout, scooting down the A57 Snake Road to the Snake Inn and then sneaking over the ‘Three Minute Crossing’ of Kinder to drop into the bottom of Grinds Brook just above Edale. 

When Nicky Spinks took over the race about ten years ago, she (inevitably) decided that road running was not appropriate and early January would be more likely to provide miserable weather.  She routed the race via the four main Trig points: Black Hill, High Shelf Stones on Bleaklow, Sandy Heys or Kinder North and Kinderlow to keep the race as high and wild as possible. She has had huge, hard fought battles for access and has usually had to concede one or other of the trigs.  This year, Sandy Heys was included, but Kinderlow excluded, which meant a direct crossing of the middle of the Kinder plateau, a line the old Dark Peak Club Champs used to take and one I haven’t run for 30 years (with good reason, you might agree, if you have ever tried to cross the middle of Kinder…).

As we lined up in Marsden, a group of Super Runners was lining up in Edale for the Spine Race along the entire route of the Pennine Way.  Forecast overnight snow had not materialised and actually, as we made our way along the interminable track up the Wessenden Valley, the morning seemed relatively benign. But as we approached the summit of Black Hill the snow came in and visibility was reduced to a few metres.  Navigation was easy, though as there were plenty of muddy footprints to follow and although I was cold I knew that soon we would be down in the relative shelter of Crowden Little Brook and losing height changed the snow to rain. My descents were rather stuttering, but in general I was feeling positive and running comfortably, and seemed to make places on the uphills.

Starting the climb up Torside to Bleaklow, Damian Hall and Kim Collison came trotting easily down leading the Spine Race, Kim with his huge trademark grin.  We shouted mutual encouragement and continued in our opposite directions.  Unfortunately, neither Kim nor Damian were able to complete their journeys and today, as the DOMS in my legs starts to fade, that race is still going…

I had a Cunning Plan for Bleaklow to cut a corner and miss the summit.  What had seemed like a good idea in the comfort of my armchair didn’t seem so clever in the rain and mist as I left the main trail of footprints and headed across the snowy heather.  There were two other guys just behind them and I told them what I was doing hoping they wouldn’t follow me but they did.  Fell Running Principle No 3 states that anybody with a map in their hand should be followed. This rather added to my stress as it is one thing getting yourself lost but quite another getting other people lost as well.  There were occasional footprints suggesting that others had attempted this line too and we weaved our way through the heather, found the top of Yellowslacks Brook and set a course for Shelf Stones Trig. 

‘About a K to the trig’: I said trying to instill confidence into myself as much as the others.  “Do you recognize anything?” one of them asked.  “Well,” I said, “I recognize that this bit looks exactly like the last bit and the bits before that as well.”   There were equal measures of relief and surprise when we heard voices though the mist and soon came upon figures waving us into the checkpoint.  I wondered if we had made or lost places with my line but decided it didn’t matter as we had had a good adventure. 

It was all downhill and easy route finding to the Snake Road crossing now.  Spiners were still making their way towards us, few looking as cheery as Kim and Damian had.  My spirits were high as the parked cars emerged out of the gloom and a “Well done Tring” from one of the marshalls as I checked in gave a further lift. 

The next stretch is all on paving slabs across the bogs of Featherbed Moss to Mill Hill.  These were slippery in the wet and at times icy and always hard.  It became a bone jarring grind not improved by driving hail and rain but somewhere deep inside I was relishing this: this is what it is about, getting out there and feeling the weather, feeling alive, feeling knackered.  ‘You just have to get across Kinder and there’s a cup of tea waiting in Edale, not like those poor buggers on the Spine,’  I thought to myself. 

Eventually Mill Hill came and there was a short steep haul onto Kinder Edge.  I was tired now and didn’t want to have to concentrate to find the trig.  I just wanted it to appear out of the mist but I forced myself to work out the point to leave the Edge and take the bearing.  Just as I was losing confidence I glimpsed the aerial of the Checkpoint team through the murk.  Another runner stumbled out of the cloud: “Have you found the bloody trig?”  “We’re just there” I replied.  He followed me down to Kinder Downfall and we made our way up the Kinder River.  He hadn’t realised the new race route and was questioning the line: “Don’t we need to go to Kinderlow?”  I persuaded him we didn’t and he left the navigation to me but actually it was fairly easy as there was a good trail of prints in the snow and peat across the plateau and soon all the watercourses were heading our way and we had crossed the watershed and were heading for the southern Edge.

I’ve always found it quite an emotional moment on this race as you reach the edge of the plateau and look down onto Edale and journey’s end.  There is something special about a proper journey like this from one point to another, especially when the day has been wet and wintry and the navigation a challenge at times.

Somewhere at the other end of the field, Hugh had been having a very different race with few if any tracks to follow and travelling at a pace that I can only dream about.  By the time I was sipping my second cup of tea outside the Village Hall, he was back in Tring.  It is great that the Club has this new generation of fell runners who can place in the top ten of major events. 

RESULTS

1   Chris Phillips (Saddleworth)   3.40.52

9   Hugh Chatfield                        4.00.31

89 Rick Ansell                              5.41.40 (2nd M60)

DNS ‘Andy’*

162 started 143 finished

*No names have been changed.

Race Report – Peak Raid Autumn Series

By Paul Terrett

A silly o’clock start last Sunday saw me heading back up the M1 to the Peak District for the final event in the Peak Raid 4-race series. Usual format—choose your own route to visit as many scoring checkpoints as possible, in three hours, and get back to the finish on time. The penalties for finishing late become quite draconian (more on that later).

We managed to miss Storm Arwen, the week before, and Storm Barra, a couple of days later, and the weather was almost kind to us. A bit blowy on the tops and -1oC with wind-chill, but positively warm at 6oC in the valleys, making it really hard to get the layering right.

The organisers had obviously had some fun with the course, placing the two 50-point scores at the opposite extremes of the map. The event area was a mix of footpaths through farmland and patches of Access Land, with plenty of contours to keep it interesting, and some seriously rocky paths in places. There were even a few small patches of snow remaining, to remind us that it would be Christmas in just three weeks.

We were treated to a beautiful rainbow a few minutes after I started, which had me thinking that this could be a really pleasant run. That was until a couple of minutes later, when I ran into the freezing cold rain that had formed the rainbow.

The time passed surprisingly quickly, with runners appearing at regular intervals and then disappearing off in all manner of directions. There was clearly no ‘obvious’ route for a maximum score. Indeed, the descent from my final 50-point summit could either follow a long dog-leg or take a shorter straight line down to the gate, descending through straggly hawthorn bushes, which shredded legs and leggings alike. Given the time elapsed and distance from the finish, I opted for the shredding.

Finally, with time rapidly running-out, I decided to go for a final 30-point checkpoint on the way back, which I hoped would give me a buffer to counteract my inevitable loss of points for being late. This included a brutal (and long) climb, slowing me down even more, and around the 3-hour mark my body decided that enough was enough. Cramp in both legs saw me hobbling the last kilometre and finishing 7 minutes late, for a loss of 25 points, so the ‘tactical lateness’ had paid off. Just !

I honestly didn’t think that I’d be writing a race report for an event in which Rick was running, but my slightly crazy route had me finishing just ahead of him on points. However, he had the last laugh by beating me overall in the series (where you take your best three scores from four events) and also coming third in his age-group. Well done, Rick.

Series results

1st Mark Anderson 1,694 points

21st Rick Ansell 1,110 points

26th Paul Terrett 1,080 points

110th Simon Barnett 470 points (just one event)

256 took part.

Kong Mini Mountain Marathon Round 3, Race Report, 21 November 2021

By Rick Ansell

There were a few lingering spits of rain as we drove south from Bangor but the dawn coming up seemed to hold the promise of a beautiful day. By the time we had parked on Llanbedr Airfield and were walking up to the village hall for registration the sun was up and warm on our faces and the sky was cloudless.

From registration there was another long walk to the start and by the time we had got there we had done rather more than the Government’s recommended daily quota of exercise and hadn’t even started on the four hours of mountain running…Max had fallen off his skate board and twisted an ankle so rather than going head to head with me he teamed up with Paulette to walk round as many controls as possible in the time limit. They set off before me but I soon caught them dawdling along deep in conversation and not taking things nearly seriously enough.

The location was called South Snowdonia but essentially this was the Rhinogs. Many years ago when the world was young and I was too, there was a Karrimor Mountain Marathon held here. I didn’t do it but I remember hardened mountain travellers blanching at the mere mention of the place after that. I have had a couple of weekends here walking in recent months and can vouch for the roughness. At times despite travelling light, I could barely manage 2km an hour.

The organisers had promised us that the going was fast on the paths. Well, yes, it is but what happens when you aren’t on paths?

A first glance at the map showed that many controls were linked by paths and as the day unfolded I realized that the day had been planned to enable us to stick largely to the paths and avoid most of the rough going. These events are organized for maximum pleasure and minimum suffering. I knew the southern half of the map would offer the easier terrain and there seemed to be plenty to go at there so I set off in a straightish line for two 20s and a 30 point control. By the time I got there I had covered about 6km in les than 40 minutes and was beginning to feel that 1, it was time for a walk and 2, I could end up having to go a very long way if I was to be out for four hours. The next leg helped put the brakes on with a steep grassy climb to a sheepfold cunningly hidden among rocks. On a misty day it could have been hard to find but given I could see Ireland it was obvious enough even in its disguise.

Onwards and upwards to the summit of Diffwys and 50 points. The views were amazing in the crisp autumn air. Hills stretched away endlessly north and east and to the west the sea glimmered in the sun. The breeze was sharp but nothing like the -10 wind chill that had been forecast. I needed my gloves but was enjoying the running too much to stop and root around in my bum bag for them.

My next target was Y Llethr for another 50 the next top along the ridge to the north via a small pond in the saddle between the two worth 30. I was tempted by a loop down to the east to get another 130 points but decided there was just too much re-ascent. I was still worrying about being back too early and having no more controls to go for. From Y Llethr I was on the way home and had 1.50 to get there. Moelfre, which held a 40 point control on its summit, seemed in touching distance but then so did the Llyn Peninsular across the water. I told myself I still had to double back into the cwm below me for a 30. And here, suddenly, things changed. I had reckoned on it being reasonable running even though there were no paths or trods but I was soon floundering waist deep in tussock and bog and instead of doing 5km an hour was managing only about 1.

I lost my temper as well as time here and although a nice quad bike track eased progress and soothed my anger as I climbed Moelfre, by the time I got to the top I discovered I had just 30 minutes to get back and about 4km to cover. It was all downhill but initially rough and slower going than I would have liked and then awkward navigation on rights of way that had no clear path marked on the ground.

With 2km to go I had the option of climbing a small knoll to get 20 points. I knew I was going to be late anyway but 20 points would compensate for the penalties as long as could get back less than 10 minutes over. 10 minutes over I would just lose the 20 points, 11 minutes I would lose 25, 9 minutes just 15. Sometimes I feel you need a Phd in Maths to work out the best course of action. I went for knoll. I was back 10 minutes late and lost those 20 points but none of the other ones I had earned. Good decision.

It left me on the same number of points as the V60 winner and just second to him on time…but about 300 points behind the overall winner.

Meanwhile the remainder of the family had managed to get lost, return 40 minutes late, lose all their points and be disqualified because one member of the team refused to climb a knoll to dib while the other did. But they had had a brilliant day, the one grilling the other about the recent girlfriend, and being disqualified didn’t stop them polishing off the soup and cakes that still remained when they finally got back.

Results

1 Neil Talbot 655

23 Rick Ansell 360

94 ran

FRA Relays – Tebay – 16 October 2021

By Paul Bayley

On Saturday 16 October 2021 a number of Tringers headed north again for the FRA Relays which were being organised by Helm Hill club near Tebay just off the M6 (near a great service station in case you need!).

Special mention should go to Simon, Matt and Ross for heading North 3 weekends on the trot (Hodgson Bros, 3 Peaks and FRA Relays) and to Ross, Matt and Simon B for having the negotiation skills to get 3 weekends on the trot away from family duties!

The walk from the car park proved to be a 2-3 mile test in itself on tough, muddy terrain and nasty cambers. Jo and I just managed to get to the start in time to see Fraser storm out of field amidst the mass start and romp round his 6km (430m climb) leg in short time with a smile on his face proving that Shropshire exports made great fell runners! 

Fraser handed over to Tom and Simon B, but Tom seemed to forget it was a pairs leg as he nearly left Simon behind in the start field, but then realised Simon would be doing the navigation on the leg and stepped back in line! They ran a cracking leg of 10km (700m climb) with Simon on the tools but apparently no compass actions as required!

Tom and Simon obviously surprised Ross and Matt as they were trying to pack jackets away as they started their tough leg of 10km (940m climb), but they overcame any obstacles in their way and stormed round in quick time.

They handed over to me on the last leg of 5.5km (370m climb) after waiting in the starting pen and trying to warm up, but it was quite humid and warm. It was great to actually be off and running out of the field and up the tarmac track. Then on to the muddy path less fells and I commenced my first steep climb which was steep and tough with plenty of hands on knees action! The climb started to flatten out amidst the bogs and tussocks as the final climb on to Hare Shaw and the first checkpoint. Then followed a summit plateau fast run along to the summit of Blease Fell and then the beauty of descending from checkpoint 2 as fast I could do passing anyone who was more tentative.

I managed to stay upright and made up a few places and that descent and then the last push in to the finish. All the way round my leg I was saying to myself “don’t let the team down, keep pushing”. I arrived in to the finish thinking the team would be out to see me home. At the finish I couldn’t find them so I headed in to the food marquee to find them all sat round having “tea and cakes”. They were a little surprised to see me back already. “Under promise, over deliver!”

Fraser then proceeded to trot 13 miles back to Kendal train station after his leg. His leg wasn’t long enough I don’t think! Then Simon B rode 16 miles to and from the start/finish and utilised the train! Some people will do anything for a fell run.

Yorkshire 3 Peaks

By Paul Bayley

On Saturday 9 Oct a number of Tring runners had a crack at the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race starting and finishing in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Described as the “marathon with mountains” it is 23.5 miles with 5100 feet of ascent give or take which includes climbing and descending Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.

The route has morphed and changed over the years with the advent of stone paving and steps on many of the tracks, but the challenge remains a real one. In reality it is 3 tough climbs and descents which are fell race-esque with 2 cross country races between thus making pacing tough.

The normal date for the race is in April but it had been postponed until October with COVID. Unfortunately only 350 of the 830 entrants turned up on race day due to COVID, fuel issues and other race clashes. But at 10am all 350 of us were off and running up the 3 mile climb to the top of Pen-y-ghent. It is runnable and it is easy to start off too quick as I have learnt to my cost previously!

It is eye opening to see the leaders descending so quickly as you struggle to climb to the summit but you do summit and then a nice grassy loop of the summit follows and a steep descent all the way back down to Hull Pot. 

Then there follows an undulating 6/7 miles on hard packed paths up Whitber Hill and along to Nether Lodge. Tarmac tracks then follow down to Lodge Hall before passing walkers sat around with ice creams and drinks! Then comes a boring bit of main road along to the 1st proper aid station at Ribblehead where food and drinks were important to take on and I was happy to see my missus with drink and gels in hand! It was v muggy and humid, particularly off the summits.

My previous 3 Peaks had been a war of attrition from Ribblehead due to going off like a freight train up and down Pen-y-ghent! This time my pacing felt better and the trot along the stone slabs from the aid station felt bearable but I knew the toughest part of the race was to come. The usual walkers paths takes a gradual climb of Whernside; this race doesn’t. It goes off paths across deep bogs, which most runners ended up waist deep in including the leaders.

I managed to run a lot of the boggy bits and even the tussock riddled climb, but then the proper climb begins up the sheer face of Whernside. There is no easy route up although apparently the leaders went a bit off optimal line. There is no easy way up but hands on knees and grabbing the tussocks and rocks. The weather and clag closed in on this climb to the summit but it was quite pleasant to be a little cooler. False summits followed but eventually the checkpoint is reached.

The descent off Whernside is steep and the blue grey stone used on the path was particularly slippy and felt more angular and tough to descend although it might just be the distance in the legs. There were a lot of walkers on this steep descent who may have bitten off more than they could chew and were sliding all other the place including sliding into me, and shortly after I was nearly tripped over by an excitable doggy. I luckily managed to survive this descent intact unlike many other runners who had come astray and without cramp which was a bonus, and then just a hard track and some tarmac followed to the Hill Inn aid station, and the last point you can be timed out of the race.

On departing the checkpoint with fresh food and fluids on board the undulating climb on stone flags to the base of Ingleborough begins, this can be a bit attritional until the true climb begins. Then it becomes steep and rocky with plenty of scrambling to be had and cramp to be avoided plus a few false summits in the heavy clag and cooler temperatures. The summit plateau was eventually reached, but was rocky and awkward underfoot and thankfully navigation wasn’t required due to the tape as many would have gone astray in the clag on the plateau.

In the clag once the Sulber Nick path had been found the descent does seem never ending and technical underfoot particularly near the top and then muddy towards the bottom. It is not simply a case of gravity doing its thing but effort is required on the descent before passing under the railway line. But alas this year the finish had been moved due to the wet parking conditions, so extra road section was put in to test the runners. But the finish was reached and all was good in the world again!

Matt, Ross and Simon were waiting at the finish having glided round in good fashion. In particular Wadey had a blinding run on his 1st 3 Peaks attempt coming in the top 35.

Special mention to my wife Jo for being the best support in the world on the course.

1st16Garry GreenhowAmbleside ACMV4003:05:22
34th502Matthew WadeTring RCM03:37:53
56th=501Ross LangleyTring RCM03:49:53
147th498Simon BarnettTring RCMV4004:23:02
305th499Paul BayleyTring RCMV4004:59:33

TRC’s 40th Birthday Relay & Party

You know the feeling. You throw a party and then wonder if anyone will turn up.

On Sunday afternoon, a small group had set up the club tent and flags in the middle of Tring Park, the birthday cake was on its way and the drone camera was flying but…where were the Tring Running Club members

And then, like the cavalry coming over the hill, they started to appear, at first a trickle and then a torrent of zebra-striped runners pouring into the valley. New faces, old faces, families, supporters.

After the limitations of the pandemic, it was a joy to see so many happy folks all together to celebrate the club’s 40th birthday.

The first aim was to make a new club photo. Rachel Wray deployed all her teaching skills to assemble more than 80 club members on the side of the valley and, with expert drone piloting by Dan Newton, we were all soon squinting into the sun and waving our jazz hands. Then a swift sideways move and we joined up to spell out “TRC” for more overhead shots. Watch out for the clever editing of the dispersal footage!

The celebration had been planned and designed way back in February when we were still in deep lockdown. The thinking then had been to arrange a relay event to minimise contact. But as restrictions eased, the plan changed to each pace group running its own out and back route but with all groups aiming to arrive back in the Tring Park at roughly the same time.

And so the groups were waved off by Celine at rigorously-timed staggered starts. The tension on the start line was palpable. Would the plan work? Would the run leaders be able to interpret the detailed but acronym-heavy route descriptions they had been given? Would anyone get lost?

An hour or so later, the cavalry once more crested the hill and happy but hot groups descended back to the TRC hub.

After a few words from TRC Chair Adrian, the final official business was the cutting of the birthday cake. Many thanks to Jane, Brian, Chris and Celine for the delicious and festive fare.

As the shadows lengthened on a sunny and warm late September day, people exchanged stories of their runs, caught up with friends, entertained their children and looked forward to events to come. Bedecked with their memento car sticker “Tring Running Club – Running the Chiltern Trails since 1981”, soon it was time for the club members to strike camp and wend a way home.

A big thank you to the Birthday Celebrations group – Tony, Liz, Hugh, Helen, Celine, Nigel and yours truly – for all the events in this 40th year. Next stop, 2031 and our 50th birthday!

John Manning

Peak Raid Round 2

By Rick Ansell

The weekend didn’t get off to a very good start when, through utter incompetence on my part I failed to meet up with Paul on the campsite we had booked and camped on the wrong campsite.

Preparing for a navigation event and failing to find the correct campsite didn’t bode well…Although I had followed the link Paul sent and made the booking I hadn’t really taken note of what campsite the link was for and just assumed it was Upper Booth. On arrival I didn’t find Paul’s car and imagined he had just given up waiting and gone to the pub.

It was only after a couple of pints in the said pub where I didn’t find Paul and, returning to the campsite I noticed it was called Upper Booth and not Greenacres which was the name of the place I had booked, did it begin to dawn on me that maybe I had gatecrashed another site that had lots of signs saying: ‘Full, Bookings only.’ I wondered if maybe my booking at Greenacres would be valid here….I laid low and left early.

The second error was not to have taken note of the event centre. I’d just assumed it was somewhere near Edale and I had to drive about the valley for a while looking for a field full of cars. There were several, I discovered but most were just car parks for day trippers and nothing to do with the race. I was feeling a little flustered when I finally found the correct place and some friendly faces and a rather bemused Paul.

The event was on the southern and northern slopes of Kinder with the option of crossing the Snake Road and running up onto Rowlee Pasture for some controls there. The main Kinder plateau was all out of bounds which meant going out along the southern edge and retracing your steps, going round the end of Crookstone Knoll and along the northern slopes before doubling back again. With hindsight this was the best thing to do as much of it was on runnable paths. In the heat of battle, though it seemed like a lot of toing and froing and so I opted to cross the road and visit Rowlee Pasture and its very unrunnable tussocks.

My mind was rather on next weekend’s adventure with Lynda much of the time and my navigation was hesitant and my progress a little unfocussed and undetermined. With 50 minutes remaining I found myself crossing back over the Snake and bumped into Paul looking for a signpost in a farmyard. After his last effort when he was back late he was playing safe and was on his way home round the hill and finished with five minutes to spare.

I was beginning to get into my stride now and feeling greedy and lined up a further 150 points. I reckoned I needed 60 minutes for this so knew I would be late. 5 minutes late would lose me just 10 points, 10 minutes and I would lose 35. Anything more and it’s game over. Could I make it back less than 10 minutes late? There was a big climb. Would that last run down be fast or horribly rough? I could have missed out a control and saved a bit of time and distance but I fancied the line. Every little trod that helped me through the heather was cheered inwardly but the chest high bracken on the descent was cursed at full volume. 9 minutes late, 30 penalty points. I could have saved those nine minutes by missing a 30 point control.

What the hell, I’d enjoyed the day, had a good run out before the Joss Naylor and none of the aches and pains of recent days had troubled me.

RESULTS

1 David Petit 470

20 Rick Ansell 360 (3 V 60)

42 Paul Terret 310 (15 V50)

87 ran

After two rounds (best three of four to count overall), I’m 4th in V60 and Paul 7th in V50.

Conversations with myself: Kong Mini Mountain Marathon 4 Hour Score Round 2

By Rick Ansell

Two minutes into the Nicholls Torture Session on Wednesday evening my hamstring started to niggle.  Next day, while mowing the lawn my back went and on top of that the blister rubbed into my heel during the Greensand has still not healed properly.  Things weren’t looking good for the Kong on Sunday.  I tried to go for a run on Friday but only got 50m beyond the end of my road before everything seized up and hurt. 

It seemed a bit pointless to drive all the way to the Howgills not to be able to run, and so I told myself but despite this, I found I was rushing round packing up on Saturday morning.  “What are you doing you idiot?” asked my head.  “We’re going to go, if you can’t run you can walk.  Need to get some hills in if you are going to do the Joss Naylor” Answered the rest of me.  Maybe I’m weird (alright..) but sometimes I find that my body just takes over and gets on with something or makes a decision while my head is still wondering what to do.  It’s quite handy sometimes when I can’t decide; I just wait to see what the body will do.

The setting sun bathed the hills in a pale yellowy autumnal light as I came up the last bit of the M6 to Tebay.  “I really fancy a run on those hills tomorrow” I thought to myself.  “What a bummer it’ll have to be just a walk.”  “Ah just wait and see,” Came the rejoinder.

I spent most of the night lying awake thinking about the Joss Naylor run and not really focusing on the event at hand at all.  In the morning I dosed myself up with ibuprofen, taped up my blister with pads, tried not to enquire too acutely about the hamstring, picked up my number and made my way to the start.

A glance at the map showed there was an obvious first and last control so I was able to amble off up the track and wonder about where else I could go between them.  A sheepfold was the obvious second and then a stream/path crossing followed by a summit.  That settled I tried a slow jog.  100m and everything was holding together, 500m; I pushed on a bit and felt the hamstring tighten.  I eased back and it relaxed.  I dibbed at the first control: 10 points, and set off to cross a low ridge.  I saw the sheep fold below me and headed for it.  Then I saw another one with loads of people milling about so headed for that.  “No, you numpty, can’t you see that the sheepfold you want is after that stream junction up there?  Look, there’s that one on the map, clearly below the junction” I retraced my steps, annoyed with myself for being influenced by the others and tried to concentrate on going the right way and not on whether my back was sore.

There was a long climb and I chatted to an acquaintance and stopped looking at the map.  It stopped me thinking about my ailments and as we crested the rise I let him go and started to concentrate again.  Where to after the summit control?  There was a tempting cluster of four controls the other side of a deep valley: 130 points for the taking there.  It was a big climb and would leave me the wrong side of the valley from the finish.  It looked like the obvious thing to do but just didn’t quite feel right, somehow, too committing.  I looked for alternatives.  To the east there was a 40 pointer and then a 30 in the valley below.  “Down that valley then back over those two ridges: much safer”.  Everybody else peeled off down to cross the valley.  “Am I being too cautious?”  It was my head this time that made the decision.

 “Go for the 40, leave them to it.  Let’s see how many get back in time”.  I did the sums again.  “Just as many points this way and 3km shorter”

 “What if you are back really early?” 

“Well maybe you can get one on the ridge on the other side of that valley.”

“Look, there are three controls up there: 100 points then drop back down to the 30 at the end of the valley, then you can do those two ridges.  Lots of climbing: good Joss training.”

“OK let’s do the 40 then down to that 30 at the stream unction, that’s just where we camped last summer with Max and Paulette.  We’ve done 6k in the first hour including the climb.  If you have more than two hours left then you can go up the other side and along the ridge.  Deal?”

“Deal”

I emerged onto a ridge and looked about.  With all the discussion about where to go I had stopped concentrating on the immediate and nothing fitted with what the map said.  I realized I had crossed the ridge at a lower point than intended, saved some climb but added some distance.  OK.  Now I knew where I was and where I was going.  It felt good and right.  

A lucky trod led me gently angling into the top of the valley for the big climb to the 40.  Suddenly my legs started to flow.  Not the usual hobbling stumble but something almost like a proper run.  I got stuck into the steep climb, dibbed the 40 and tipped down towards the valley.  I passed a guy descending painfully: “Brutal on the knees these hills,” I said.  “Bloody right” he returned.  “Actually, my knees aren’t hurting here”, I thought.  “Must be all that Nurofen.” 

I could see the kite below me.  Dib and straight through and up the other side.  There were people above me struggling up and I found myself catching them.  One guy was obviously trying to zig zag up to make the climb less steep but was actually just going back and forth across the hillside and not ascending at all.  He looked at me for help.  His legs just wouldn’t carry him up.   There was nothing I could offer and he knew it. 

I was aware of someone else climbing strongly to my left.  I glanced across and realized it was Neil Talbot.  I decided to try and keep pace for a bit.  By the top he had only pulled about 50 m but then he was away like Road Runner disappearing into the distance.   “Ok, you don’t have to be that good…” An easy path led along the grassy ridge.  Once again, I felt the joy of moving fast(ish) and free through the hills.  15 mins to the next 40 then just six minutes down to a stream source.  A young guy dibbed just in front of me but I beat him on the steep descent to the valley. 

“Am I having a flyer here?  Wonder what everyone else is doing.  I bet a few have gone south; bet a few will be late back.”

“90 minutes left: two big climbs and some easy running not more than 8k. Could be really early”

 “Don’t ease off.  Come on try and chase down those two on the hill.  We did this climb last summer.  It’s a pig.”

Legs were tiring now but I did close the gap on the woman in front of me.  We took different lines to the next control, mine was more direct and steeper, hers longer with more of a traverse.  We arrived at the pond we were heading for together.

“Mmmm maybe this isn’t such a great run.  She can’t be much younger and is going just as fast”. 

A lovely trod led down the ridge from the pond.  I could feel the day’s hills in the legs now, that delicious tired feeling when you know you can keep pushing on: “Good hurting” as my mate Andy calls it.  I crossed the stream at the bottom, the water low, tepid, sluggish and climbed up to get a 20 on a knoll.  Home now but all around the out of bounds.  I got the line wrong and hit the fence too low having to thrash through the reeds to get round it.  Suddenly there were just 20 minutes and 3km to go.  Round the end of the fence and onto a track; horrible and stony.  Don’t miss that last 10 pointer.  It’s going to be tight but should be just OK.

RESULTS

1    Philip Rutter       680

(4    Kim Collison    520)

21   Rick Ansell       360 (1 V60)

166 ran 

The next event has been cancelled so now the series is just best of two so with a win in the V60 category here and an equal first last time I don’t really need to do the final event…but of course I will.  Beers tonight, though.

Peak Raid Round 1

By Rick Ansell

Having badgered Paul T into doing the virtual MapRunF series during the spring and not actually done any of them myself, he was probably wondering if I was going to turn up to do this ‘real’ event as well.  After a fairly disastrous leg on the Greensand where I was late for the start and almost missed the finish, had to stop to adjust a shoe which was giving me a blister and to have my pre-race pee mid-race, I really just wanted to go and hide in a very dark place where nobody would find me.  Anyway, Paul seemed quite surprised to find us in Ashbourne Market Square shovelling down fish and chips.

We had found a campsite about a mile from the race start conveniently situated behind a fine pub in the Manifold Valley.  The name always makes be think of noisy exhaust pipes but is actually a very tranquil spot, though the Manifold itself was completely waterless. 

Paul is a Scout Master and so of course had his tent up in seconds and he went off to recce the area while I struggled with mine and then tried to check up the WhatsApp to see if Team Athenians had powered through to make the finish.  I was pleased to see that despite my attempts at sabotage the team had made it to Northill in good order.  Well done Athenians!!

Paul returned and we repaired to the pub.  It had been a hot run and much rehydration was needed. 

The race next day started from Warslow village and had a mixture of open access areas and farmland where we had to stick to footpaths and deal with cows and, as Paul put it delicately, ‘their recycling of grass’.  The map showed a nice straight line of connected paths that led via two 40 and a 30 point to 60 point control at the south end of the map.  It shouldn’t have taken me much more than an hour to get there giving me two hours to work my way back and collect as many more points as possible.  Most people, though seemed to be setting off in the opposite direction running down through the field where we had parked, to the Manifold Valley.  I decided that they must be right and so went that way only to regret it when I found myself having to haul my way up the other side to the trig pint on Ecton Hill. 

The trig point was worth 50 points, though and there was a 70 pointer on the next hill and another 50 plus some lower score controls so I began to think I was doing alright despite some back and forths and having to ask Sunday walkers where I was.  I had mopped up all the open access area so now it was decision time.  There was still 90 minutes left and that would give me time to do a little loop round the fields and back along the edge of the Valley to collect another 80.  I was very aware that I was still on the wrong side of the Valley for the finish and inevitably there would be a big climb back from the bottom.  This would need time. 

For once time seemed to slow down and after crossing the valley I had time to take in another 30 before the run in.  I got back feeling really rather pleased with myself.  I felt I had collected all the low hanging fruit so to speak.  I was soon disabused though when I discovered the first V60 had scored 70 more points than me and I was well down the rankings.  I really should have gone out to that 60 to start with.

Paul who had started before me was still not back.  He was obviously taking the opportunity to get to know the area a bit better.  The organizer was just beginning to get anxious when his red shirt appeared round the side of the hall.   Paul’s route, if you looked at in on Strava might suggest a person retuning from the pub.  He assured us this was not a result of the several pints of Pedigree he had consumed the night before but a cunning tactic to avoid going up or down a hill.  I think he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of fell running yet…To be fair he had actually scored a lot more points than me…Just a shame he lost 85 of them for being late.

He had clocked himself as having run over 14 miles, the furthest he had ever done and 3.15 was the longest time he had ever spent running at one time.  I think being within the 3 hour time limit would also have given him his longest run, though….There aren’t many people who would choose to break their distance record over that sort of country.  Respect.

RESULTS

 1 Mark Anderson  580 points

40 Rick Ansell        390

61 Paul Terret         335

85 ran

REALLY BIG RUN. LOTS OF HILLS (The Bob Graham Round – Matt Wade)

Round date: 24 July 2021

On Saturday 24 July 2021, Tom Sawyer and myself attempted the Bob Graham Round. Below is my account of what happened over the 42 peaks, 66 miles and 27,000 feet of climbing. If, however, you want a summary then Oliver (my 22-month-old) summed it up quite well: “Daddy go for really big run. Lots of hills”.

Pre-round
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the weekend as a whole. We planned this attempt at the end of 2018 before Tom departed for what turned out to be an extended trip to New Zealand. I had imagined many aspects of the attempt but one part I didn’t imagine was the beautiful but hot weather we had. The build-up consisted of moving small piles of assorted food into ever decreasing areas of shade whilst we all attempted to also use these areas to keep us and the children cool. A test of priorities.

The closer we got to kick off the more the doubts crept in. But with plans in place, kit ready and handed out, and some calming encouragement from Lucy (my wife), it was time to try and sleep. Whilst I think I slept, I could sense the buzz of excitement as the team supporting us were getting ready and arriving at the campsite.

As we got ready to leave the campsite we could see head torches on Skiddaw building the excitement. We arrived at Moot Hall far too early. After pacing around Moot Hall listening to a very bad rendition of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition (Tom Raftery later assured me that Stevie wasn’t in Keswick that night…) we ascended the Moot Hall steps and watched the seconds tick down. Saturday 24th July 2021, 00:00. Go…

Leg 1 – Support: Ross Langley; Leg time: 03:37 (-9 minutes); Total time: 03:37 (-9 minutes)

Embarrassment was avoided with successful navigation out of Keswick and before we knew it Ross was leading us up Skiddaw. Ross, Tom and I have trained together for some big events over the past few years so starting this together was a great start to what we hoped would be a great day. Ross had also provided me with so much support in preparation for this attempt. We have spent hours running together or in the car to and from various recce or supporting trips and discussed pretty much every aspect. Thank you, Ross!

The moon was shining bright illuminating Keswick and Derwentwater behind us but the digger before the gate to Skiddaw summit had us thinking the hallucinations had started early! We reached our first summit of the Bob Graham Round in 78 minutes and headed for Great Calva. It was this trudge through the heather where I started to relax, finally. But as I relaxed the enormity of the round and that I was actually running it sunk in and the emotion hit me.

We cleared Great Calva and the horrible descent to the river, then headed towards Blencathra without too much trouble. We had seen head torches ahead and could now see them behind, it sure was a busy night on the fells. Blencathra had a little clag but that didn’t deter Ross who guided us in expertly. Down to Threlkeld via Doddick Fell, just like that leg 1 was done. Excellent navigating and pacing from Ross ensured we arrived slightly up on time but not allowing Tom and I to go too quickly at the start…something that could have very easily happened! A quick pot of rice pudding, some water and a change of t-shirt we were off on leg 2.

Leg 2 – Support: Michael Burgess, Hugh Beedell; Leg time: 04:02 (-18 minutes); Total time: 07:39 (-27 minutes)

Leaving Ross at Threlkeld we picked up Michael and Hugh for the long climb of Clough Head. It was starting to get light as we headed between the Dodds and the sunrise as we hit Stybarrow Dodd was breath-taking. The cloud inversion with the sun rising through and above the cloud was one of my highlights of the whole round. Something I had never seen before. It turns out Hugh is an expert cameraman capturing some awesome shots of us running towards Helvellyn.

Whilst I was enjoying the views, Tom was hardly speaking. One of many personalities we would see during the day. My only struggle along this leg was getting very cold hands and needing a long sleeve and my gloves for the majority. Before we knew it, we were at Dollywaggon Pike and descending towards Grisedale Tarn. I had my first (and thankfully only) fall as we went around the edge. Out and back to Fairfield over the rock and scree reminds you of the terrain to come.

My knee started to hurt here which was worrying as we still had a long way to go. We crossed paths with another attempt here, and were told by wild campers that they had seen ‘at least 9 attempts’ go through already.

As we climbed Seat Sandal my mind wandered to the road stop at Dunmail Raise. We had almost done 2 of the 5 legs and I didn’t feel like I had been running for that long. I remember trying to push this out of my mind and not get ahead of myself. Another brilliant navigation and support performance from Michael and Hugh we arrived at Dunmail Raise 27 minutes up on time.

This was our first real stop and I was excited to see my sister, Emma, who had made it from North Devon to support having no experience of fell running. She had my bowl of Weetabix ready which was washed down with a cup of Coke as Simon slathered sun cream on my arms and legs. What a sight for her!

Leg 3 – Support: Simon Barnett, Fraser Wilcox; Leg time: 05:39 (-27 minutes); Total time: 13:18 (-54 minutes)

Michael and Hugh tagged Simon and Fraser in for leg 3 and we were soon on the climb out of Dunmail Raise to Steel Fell. Getting some revenge on Simon for his Ramsay I ditched my long sleeve within about 3 minutes of the climb giving him even more to carry. As we made our way towards Calf Crag we caught Brian who was out for the day providing additional hill support. By this time Tom’s personality had changed from grumpy leg 2 Tom to excitable leg 3 Tom. The difference was remarkable. I didn’t realise the sun could have such an effect on someone!

I’d done 2 recces of leg 3 but both had been in the clag and I hadn’t actually seen much so I was really enjoying what felt like new terrain. We had been assured Simon was a ‘leg 3 expert’ but weren’t comforted by phrases such as ‘I’ve never done this line before, let’s give it a go’. Much of the early part of this leg is a blur as we transitioned from the early grassier parts to the rockier later part.

We met Brian again at Rossett Pike and I had the additional water he had carried for me. This turned out to be key as all of Simon’s reliable water sources weren’t reliable. A quick chat with some other BGR supporters and on we went with Simon providing some tour guide information on Billy Bland’s Rake as we climbed it.

We made our way towards Great End and had a nice chat with a man and his daughter doing a recce of Borrowdale fell race. Some words of encouragement and we carried on only for a star struck Simon to realise it was Rob Jebb. It wasn’t long before we made it to the highest point in England, Scafell Pike, and lots of walkers and runners who must have wondered what we were doing running up the little steps, shouting out a time, and running down again. Mad people.

Now for the fun scramble to Scafell. We had decided to take Lord’s Rake and the West Wall Traverse but could see another Bob Graham Round attempt ahead of us. Simon wanted to get us there first and dragged us at a speed down to the mountain rescue stretcher. We had a clear scramble up this fun gully.

Once we were at Scafell we had a 33 minute descent ahead of us to Wasdale Head. One of my favourite parts is the scree surf just before the river. We crossed the river and weaved in and out of the walkers. It hit me. I was going to see Lucy and Ollie for the first time that day. I really had to fight the tears back at that point. In to the National Trust car park and there they were. A big hug with Ollie and Lucy was just the energy I needed, I knew I was going to do it at that point.

Some more food and drink and a change of clothes and we were ready for leg 4. Simon and Fraser, like those before, had expertly navigated and kept us fed, watered and moving over the leg we were probably most worried about in 27 minutes quicker than schedule.

Leg 4 – Support: Alan Whelan, Tom Raftery, Claire Shelley, Hugh Beedell; Leg time: 04:38 (-19 minutes); Total time: 17:56 (-73 minutes)

Next, Yewbarrow. We left the car park accompanied by Alan, Claire, Tom R and Hugh (who had decided to double up support on less sleep than we had got!). There was a lot of conversation coming from this group which along with the good stop helped keep the spirits high. That was until Yewbarrow started biting and we slowly put one foot in front of the other.

The heat was really ramping up and was starting to take a toll on me. From Yewbarrow to Red Pike was where it really hit. My legs were hurting, I was thirsty but didn’t want to drink and didn’t want to eat. The guys were great at pestering us to eat and drink.

After Yewbarrow getting to Red Pike feels like it shouldn’t be too far but it is about the same amount of time. The summit couldn’t come soon enough. The chat was back and spurring us on. On to Steeple next and I started to feel a bit better. Some pizza, hula hoops and paracetamol did just the trick.

There is a great psychological boost of heading to Pillar and then Kirk Fell in the direction of Honister at this point in the round. The conversation was in full flow from the supporters which I really found helped and I tried to feed off of their energy. Think we were back to “leg 2 Tom” by this point.

At Black Sail pass Brian reappeared with more water for the group which was gratefully received. Up the scree to Kirk Fell (great line Claire!) and next; the what seems unclimbable Great Gable. On a clear day like we had the panoramic view of the whole round is breath-taking and makes you appreciate how much ground you have covered.

From Great Gable to Honister was a bit of a blur and before I knew it I was following Alan off Grey Knotts before he stopped to guide the others to the best line. I ran down to Honister knowing we were ‘nearly’ there. Some well-timed cold roast potatoes from Becky was exactly the food I didn’t know I wanted. I was ready to get to Keswick.

The team we had with us on Leg 4 were amazing. The random chat, the pestering to eat and drink and Alan running ahead to scout the lines. This could have been where it went wrong for me but these guys got us through!

Leg 5 – Support: Simon Barnett, Alan Whelan, Claire Shelley, Ross Langley, Tom Booth; Leg time: 02:21 (-30 minutes); Total time: 20:17 (-103 minutes)

For the final leg we were joined by Alan and Claire carrying on from leg 4, Simon and Ross for a second time and Tom B who met us halfway up Dale Head. Spirits were high as we headed to Dale Head and I don’t really remember much other than there was lots of talking. The same to Hindscarth. Robinson to go. Head down and climbing. The final summit. Get us to Keswick.

We all filed off of Robinson down to the Tarn and all was going well until a squeal from Simon in front as he fell over. No damage done and we continued into Little Town. I was adamant I wanted road shoes for the final bit so stopped for a quick change.

Simon and Alan stopped here whilst Fraser re-joined and Claire and Ross carried on. We tried to run as many of the hills as we could and tried to work out our expected time.

As we headed around the top of Derwentwater Dave joined us for a great moment with Tom. For those that know Tom and I, we never don’t race. Something kicked in as we headed towards Keswick. The pace just kept getting quicker as we sprinted up Keswick High Street. Up the steps to Moot Hall. Touch the door. We did it. 20:17.

Post-round

As I write this I’m not sure if it has sunk in yet. I feel incredibly proud of what we did and grateful that we had the opportunity and support to make an attempt at the Bob Graham Round. As I struggled to sip a beer looking back at Moot Hall we caught up on the day’s stories from everyone.

Not being able to park at Wasdale, nearly missing lifts, and finding out Oliver and Lucy had been up most of the night as he was sick multiple times but everyone had kept this from me during the run! I think Tom and I had it easy.

The best thing about finishing the round (apart from being able to stop running) was seeing all our friends and family that had put a lot of time and effort in to help us do this crazy challenge. It was a privilege to have you help us and to spend a day in the hills in such great company. I’ll never forget your smiling faces looking at us as we turned around from those green doors.

Ross, Michael, Hugh, Simon, Fraser, Alan, Claire, Tom and Tom across the legs, Brian providing hill support over legs 3 and 4, and incredible road support from Lucy, Emma and Ollie Wade, Dave and Becky Sawyer (Tom’s parents), Ross, Zoe, Maeve and Ted Langley, and Nigel Lacey. I can’t thank you all enough for the support that you provided during the training, preparation and attempt itself. I’m already looking forward to supporting a few of you on your attempts in the future.

The Bob Graham Round – Tom Sawyer

Round date: 24 July 2021

Build Up

Having arrived at Burns Farm on Thursday afternoon, I spent almost all of Friday sorting out last minute tasks (shopping, sorting kit, cooking pizzas), discussing the attempt both with Matt (Wade, co-challenger) and the rest of our support team, and eating. At about 19:30, with four and a half hours to go until kickoff, I attempted to grab a bit of sleep in a tent that must have been over 30°C having been cooked in the sun all day. At 22:54, I preempted my alarm by one minute and got up.

A couple of trips around camp later and I was ready to go, and at 2330 we drove out to Keswick with Ross (Langley) and my parents. Nigel drove a few other members of our support crew to join us at Moot Hall, where we were surprised to be the only runners starting at midnight on a clear, warm July night with a full moon.

Leg 1 (support – Ross Langley):

The watches hit 0000 and we got going from the hall as a trio down the ginnel and over Fitz Park. No navigation issues, a good start. Having planned a 22 hour schedule we walked the majority of the hills from the gate after the A66 bridge. Ross, Matt and I have spent many hundreds of hours running together over the years and Ross had been instructed to keep the pace down in case we got a bit overexcited, which he did perfectly as we chatted our way around.

The run up to Skiddaw was reasonably clear but colder than we’d expected based on the warmth of the previous days. Luckily I’d let Matt talk me into a long sleeve. After Skiddaw we dropped off the top to hit the climb up Great Calva, mostly in darkness with the moon hidden behind the clouds.

Great Calva was summitted and we hit the line to the stile and descended the fence line to make our way across Mungrisdale Common and into the only low cloud we encountered all day which was sitting on the summit of Blencathra.

The decision had been made a few weeks prior to take the descent of Doddick Fell rather than Hall’s Fell to minimise risk in the dark, and we took a few moments to ensure we didn’t overshoot the entrance to the descent. As would become a pattern during the day I watched Matt pull away on the descent before we caught him along the wall and ran into the changeover at Threlkeld seven minutes up on schedule.

Leg 1 time: 03:34, -7 minutes.

Leg 2 (support – Michael Burgess, Hugh Beedell)

A quick three minute stop at Threlkeld to drop off bags and grab some food and we departed down the remainder of the road and marched through the tussocks to hit the long trudge up Clough Head. As Michael had described it the night before, we were on the ‘athlete’s leg’, and we ran a fair proportion of the tops from Clough Head, helped by a high moon on one side and a rising sun on the other. Hugh took some amazing photos, which somehow captured the incredible cloud and mist below us.

With no high mist or cloud we moved easily, with none of the issues finding tops Matt and I had had three weeks prior. The Dodd’s passed quickly, and we swiftly moved to Raise with the sun fully risen. The frequency of peaks and ease of running meant the leg ticked through incredibly quickly, and once we hit White Side I started to think about leg 3 and the increasing heat – I’d been running in just a t-shirt from sometime around Raise and temperatures were already rising. The two Helvellyns passed, and we spent as much time as we could admiring the views.

 We went through Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike, before skirting Grisedale Tarn to hit the Fairfield out and back, having chosen this over the Cofa Pike option. At Farfield we were up on our original schedule by 17 minutes, having been up or level on every split on the leg except for Nethermost.

Hugh and Michael had been great company throughout, and Michael’s navigation was as exemplary as we’d expected. Unfortunately I think they bore the worst of my mood as Matt kindly pointed out later in the day once I’d cheered up.

We dropped down to the climb up Seat Sandal and dropped down to Dunmail – backing off slightly after a couple of slips and near misses down the descent but still extending our gains over schedule to 27 minutes. At this point I started to believe we’d get round – I was feeling remarkably fresh for approaching eight hours on my feet, although we had the big legs still to come…

Leg 2 time: 04:02, -18 minutes

Overall time: 07:39, -27 minutes

Leg 3 (support – Simon Barnett, Fraser Wilcox)

A quick nine minute stop at Dunmail (change shirt, grab some food) and we got moving up Steel Fell. Last time we’d recced the leg we’d had awful weather and zero visibility all day, and neither of us had seen any of the peaks. This was different, the sun was fully up and getting warm. As Matt noticed my mood lifted significantly with the daylight. We saw Brian on the run from Steel Fell to Calf Crag and had a quick chat as he followed us along the top to meet us later.

Leg 3 is the long leg, described by Brian as “the meat and potatoes” so we had plenty of chances to chat to Fraser and Simon. This gave me the opportunity to test my “how many lakes are there in the Lake District?” trivia on Simon, and extol the virtues of New Zealand with Fraser. We rolled along really smoothly throughout the leg, bumping into and having a chat with Rob Jebb (“was that Rob Jebb?”) on the slopes of Great End and overtaking a couple of BG challengers out on the hills. We knew there’d been a fair number going out in the hours before us and we saw at least three groups at various points, mostly on this leg.

Simon’s experience of rounds and fell running is pretty much unmatched, and between him and Fraser they got us through with no real dramas despite the complete lack of drinkable water.

Bizarrely we hit the top of England, Scafell Pike, at midday to the second, and confused a few tourists by climbing the stairs, lapping our watches and running straight down again. Strictly business.

Dropping down, we’d chosen and recce’d Lord’s Rake as our route across to Scafell, and seeing Broad Stand in broad daylight only reinforced that we’d made the correct choice. Matt had a better go through the rake than I did, and kindly waited for me to appear from the gully onto the tops. Off Scafell we surfed down the scree, getting a bit mixed up with another BG crew, and Matt managed to get away from me again, this time on the grass drop to Wasdale. Luckily for me, Matt slowed down a bit washing in the stream at Wasdale and we joined up on the run into the carpark.

Leg 3 time: 05:39, -27 minutes

Overall time: 13:18, -54 minutes

Leg 4 (support – Alan Whelan, Tom Raftery, Claire Shelley, Hugh Beedell)

Wasdale was a hard change, it seemed a good five degrees hotter than everywhere else and with no breeze to cool us as we sorted ourselves. Another fresh t-shirt and a new pair of socks, and some cold pizza and potatoes and we cruised over the bridge trying not to look up at Yewbarrow.

Yewbarrow was a trudge, but we had our largest support team yet and everyone was happy and chatting away. Until about a third of the way up Yewbarrow where Alan pointed out that everything had gone a bit quiet. I continuously felt like I was overbalancing backwards while going up, and regretted my position at the front.

An awful lot of leg 4 passed in a bit of a blur. Claire, Hugh, Tom and Alan kept the mood high chatting throughout. I clearly remember seeing Steeple for the first time and being both impressed and a bit annoyed (“we’ve got to go over there now?”), and then trudging up Green Gable.

We met Brian again a couple of times as he zigzagged through the leg with some extra water, which was much appreciated, and before I knew it we were debating the relative merits of the summits at Grey Knotts before tipping over the edge and dropping to Honister. By now my descending had deteriorated from my normal ‘Bad’ to ‘Dangerously Poor’ and I was grateful to make it down on my feet.

Leg 4 time: 04:38, -19 minutes

Overall time: 17:56, -73 minutes

Leg 5 (support – Simon Barnett, Alan Whelan, Claire Shelley, Ross Langley, Tom Booth)

Honister was a bit warm, and there’s less than no shelter. I sat down by a knee high wall in a fruitless attempt to find some shade. A bit more pizza, some coke and we set off. At this point I’d expected to see Tom, our sole non-Tring member who was making his way across from Keswick, and was worried he’d got lost or missed us. As we got going up Dale Head he appeared, giving us a five strong final leg support crew. By this point we knew we’d get round, and in a decent time as both of us still felt good.

We ticked off Dale Head, a climb that always goes on much longer than I remember, and ran (!) round to Hindscarth to click off the penultimate peak. Somehow we still had energy to run down to the edge and take the direct line up towards Robinson, peak 42. All that remained from there was getting off the hill. We had a line picked out and recce’d, which dropped down beautifully and smoothly down to the north side of the tarn on an easy grass descent.

Unfortunately we missed that line by going off early and had to pick our way down a rocky, lumpy descent to the south of the tarn. We were cheered on briefly by some wild campers on the edge of the water and we jogged down to the road.

I kept jogging through Little Town while Matt changed shoes and we joined back up, with Fraser doubling back from earlier. After walking one climb we had a discussion about the relative merits of saving energy with less than five road miles remaining and picked up the pace. We met Dave (dad) on the corner of Derwentwater, and turned onto the bridleway to Keswick.

As Matt pointed out that he could see Booth’s in the distance we went for it, running a 7:30 mile while Ross got us across the road crossings at the foot of the high street. We were clapped all the way up to Moot Hall by our support team and strangers alike and touched the door at 20:17.

Leg 5 time: 02:21, -30 minutes

Overall time: 20:17, -103 minutes

Post Round

I can’t be certain, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a town centre high street on a Saturday night. We sat on the bench chatting for a while and had a couple of pints before all heading back. It’s hard to think of how the day could have gone better – we had perfect navigation thanks to Ross, Michael, Simon and Alan, incredible support on the legs from Hugh, Fraser, Claire, Tom and Tom, great hill support from Brian out on legs 3 and 4, and fantastic road help from Nigel, my parents, the Wades and the Langleys. I can’t thank everyone enough for their help and I look forward to supporting a few rounds in return.

Race Report – Peak Raid MapRun Series

Race Report – Peak Raid MapRun Series

By Paul Terrett

It’s all Rick’s fault!

Back in the dark days of lockdown in February, Rick suggested I might enjoy trying some ‘Score Events’ as something to challenge me, with a combination of off-road running and lots of navigation.  So, I found myself signing-up for a series of four Peak Raid MapRun events, which use a GPS app on your phone to record your run.  The rules are simple – they send you a map by email, with 32 checkpoints marked on it, and the challenge is to visit as many as possible, by any route you choose, and return to the finish within two hours (with penalties for being late).

Bearing in mind that my running in recent years has been somewhat sporadic, due to injuries, and that my usual event is a 7-8 mile club run on a Wednesday, I could see that stepping-up to two hours, in the Peak District, was going to be a challenge.  And it was.

We were free to choose when we ran each event, as long as they were all completed between 1st April and 31st July, so I was constantly checking the 5-day forecast for not-too-wet and not-too-windy weekends.

The first event was at Monsal Head, starting on an abandoned railway line that is now used as a walking and cycling trail.  But any hopes of clocking-up the miles (and score) on a nice level track were quickly dashed, with my route climbing both sides of the valley, undulating thereafter and then returning twice more to river level.  But I got round, almost on my planned route, and only 1½ minutes late finishing.  Not bad for a first attempt.

Perhaps I should add that, by receiving the maps prior to the event, competitors have the opportunity to plan a route in the comfort of their own home – a luxury not available on a normal event in non-Covid times.  Having accepted that my running fitness wasn’t going to amount to much, I realised that I would have to concentrate on route planning and navigation.  For hours I studied the map provided, plus the equivalent OS and Harvey’s maps.  I even went on Google Street View and Google Earth to try and build a picture of the terrain.

Anyway, a few weeks later, I was heading back up the M1 to the second event, at Middleton-by-Youlgrave.  Another cool and sunny day and a lovely area in which to run.  Not quite as hilly as the first event; I really enjoyed this one and even finished 60 seconds within the time limit.  My route choice was slightly better this time, having learned from Monsal Head, and perhaps I was getting more used to the format.  Whatever, this was my best individual result, finishing 39th out of 208.

Middleton will also stick in my memory for the friendly lady that I started chatting to on the way back to my car, who popped into her cottage and reappeared with a can of chilled Coca Cola.  Perfect end to a great run!

The blurb for the third event stated that the first challenge would be to find the starting village, Rowarth, and they weren’t kidding.  Time pressure, and the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, meant I was running this after a week of heavy rain showers and wow, it was muddy.  It made the ‘S’ bends in Tring Park in winter look like a paved highway by comparison.  But the route was scenic, even if it was another hilly one.  Annoyingly I missed scoring at one checkpoint by about 20 yards when my phone ‘pinged’ for an incoming WhatsApp, rather than for arriving at a checkpoint.  Schoolboy error not to have assigned different ‘pings’ to each app.

The fourth and final event was based around Hollinsclough and was brutal.  The organisers had thoughtfully dropped several checkpoints on top of Chrome Hill, Hollins Hill and Parkhouse Hill – not surprisingly these didn’t feature in my planned route.  With the series deadline approaching, I found myself running this one with a cold (yes, a cold, not Covid) which certainly didn’t help my stamina, nor my tactical thinking.  Already behind schedule, I decided it would be a good idea to carry-on with my planned route (up yet another hill) rather than cutting back to the finish.  This cunning plan scored me just 40 additional points but lost me 90 points in time penalties – yet another lesson learnt !

So, four events in four months.  All hilly and all in beautiful countryside around the White Peak of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  And unlike normal races, I hardly saw another runner in 8 hours of running.  I met a few in the car park at the start/finish but, apart from these, it was a practically solitary affair.

Given that race reports are traditionally written by the highest-placed Tring runner, I thought I should grasp what will probably be my only opportunity, simply because no one else from the club actually ran.  Not even Rick…

  1.             Mark Anderson           2,250 points

34              Paul Terrett                1,670 points

303 entered

The Saddleworth (Submarine) Round

By Rick Ansell

In the delicate Yorkshire of Paul B, conditions were ‘a trifle moist.’  In the vernacular of SE England they were *!@^!!&*#@ apocalyptic.  (I better not write rude words here or Sally will tell me off).  Some of the bursts of rain we enjoyed delivered more litres per minute per m2 than my power shower; even when it is on Extra Boost; and it is a pretty top of the range power shower, more or less the same as a Kacher pressure hose (well alright my shower is a Karcher pressure hose if you have to know).  The rain was so cold that it left you hyperventilating; not helpful when you are trying to run up a steep hill and already struggling for breath.

The Saddleworth Round is only a B Category race (probably why Paul was there) but it certainly delivered the punch of an A.  The race actually had to be diverted as a river was un-crossable and we had to go round by a bridge.  “There are no other rivers that you have to cross”, promised the organiser as he cheerily sent us on our way (and no doubt scuttled back to the safety of the pub).  Well, on the way up Black Hill on the Pennine Way there was a river. 

Two weeks ago I ran through this and the water didn’t even come over the top of my shoes.  This time I waded warily in and it reached my waist.  Luckily it was only a few steps across because I was on the verge of being swept away and had to lunge for a tussock on the opposite bank.  A woman and another guy were on the other side looking a bit shaken by their experience of crossing.  100m further we had to re-cross and we hauled each other over this time.  I thought we were probably safe now as I knew that although there were more streams to cross these were only side streams. 

When we came to the next one we met a walker: “It’s really deep,” he said looking at what he had just come through.  “Can’t be as bad as what we’ve just done” said the lady and dived, literally, in.  She disappeared up to her neck and pulled herself out slightly the wiser.  I crossed a little more circumspectly and managed not to go more than thigh deep.  The thing about crossing rivers in spate is not just the wet and the cold and power of the water but the noise of the water which really makes you feel threatened. 

At the end Paul had similar stories of the river crossing.  Apparently he had had to be rescued from the waters by a female vet (by which I mean an older woman, not an animal doctor).

At this point we were about half way through the race.  The first part had been fairly civilized, very much B category.  Most of the initial ascent was done before we actually reached the start line so we had just a gradual climb over the top of Alderman’s Hill and then an easy enough descent down to Dovestones Reservoir.  There was a rather unnecessary climb up to Fox Stone and then we were back down in the valley again. 

An old guy in a Dark Peak vest came past: “So where exactly is Tring?  I’ve seen some of you guys out.  You have some really good runners in your club”.  “Yes”, I thought, “Actually we do,” And a little shiver of pride ran down my spine along with the rain.

Thinking about the race beforehand I had told myself I would run all the way up the road to the Chew Reservoir and I was pleased that I actually managed this even though the woman I was with walked it and still pulled away.  Once up at the Chew Dam you are off out into the heart of the moors. With the wind at my back I managed to maintain my ‘run’ on the gradual and very boggy rise to the high point and pulled back the Dark Peaker.  Whatever else, I thought I was going better than two weeks ago.  I decided that the wind assistance was counterbalanced by the water resistance of the stream pouring down the path I was following up. 

For the second time in two weeks I visited the top of Laddow Rocks and started the long trek to the summit of Black Hill.  For a brief minute the rain abated and washed out sunlight gleamed greenly on the slopes of Black Hill.  The bare peat that gave it its name has been largely reseeded and now it is, in summer, a grassy sunlit upland.  The adventures in the rivers refocussed my mind on the job in hand and once onto the slabs that carry the Pennine Way to the trig point I got my head down.  I felt for some jelly babies but realised disaster had struck, possibly in the river and I’d lost my packet.   Could I make it back with no more food?  Luckily the marshals had some, albeit rapidly dissolving, babies at the check point, which restored confidence and energy. 

The next section follows the old route of the Pennine Way across the expanse of Dean Head Moor to the road crossing of the A635.  Although there is still a clear trod here, the path is little used now and has largely reverted to bog.  Well, it always was bog, I suppose, which is why they rerouted the Pennine Way.  I was enjoying the physicality of the terrain, and the wind now in my face and looking forward to a drink at the road.  With all the water so dark and peat stained it was always difficult to gauge whether when you put your foot down you were going to go two inches or two feet deep in it.  But I was getting blasé now and running as hard as possible and Devil may care and clearly He did as I suddenly went thigh deep and pitched forward face first into the ooze.  I came up looking a bit like Neptune only instead of seaweed dangling from his beard I had sphagnum moss and peaty black gunge.  “They say it’s very good for the complexion” my friend told me.  By which I think she meant it had improved my looks.  Fortunately, the next shower powered through soon after and by the time I reached the marshals I was presentable again.

From the road there is an interminable stretch of paving slabs across the moor. I hate running on the slabs, they thump your thighs like a road does.  At least on a road (if you are foolish enough to run on one) you can just shut your eyes and run along and forget where you are.  On the slabs if you take your eye off them for a nanosecond one of them will reach up a rugosity, grab your toe and smash you face down on a brother slab six feet further along.  I know they absolutely have it in for me.  My friend skipped away into the distance and two guys who I had worked really hard to overtake on the proper boggy section came breezing past.

I caught one of them, though, on a slight rise once we got off the slabs onto the home run and I started to close in on the other who seemed unable to see the flags that marked the route and kept stopping to ask for directions.  I thought I knew the way home but the flags took us off across some fields.  I made myself keep jogging up the hills to wear him down mentally if not physically.  We turned onto a road. 

“Straight up the hill then turn right” said the marshal. 

“Come on” I said to my new friend.  “Let’s get this killed off” and I set off to run.

“I can’t run up this” he said.

“Nor can I”, I thought, “But I’m bloody going to.”

Of course he caught me in the last 500m down to the pub but he wouldn’t go past me and we ran in together.

“Help yourself to jam tarts and drinks,” said the marshal.  “There’s a chip butty in the pub”.  Did you have a good day?

“Absolutely brilliant,” I said and really meant it.

A big thank you to Jo for buying me a cup of tea to go with my butty.

And well done to Paul who was showered and changed by the time I got back.

RESULTS

1  Joe Oldfield   Matlock    2.27.32

31 Paul Bayley                    3.35.49

43 Rick Ansell                    3.54.50

83 started

78 finished

Helm Moss Fell Race

By Rick Ansell

In the old days if there was a Bob Graham attempt being made, I used to hope I would get invited along to support.  Bob Graham weekends were always a highlight of the year.  You could watch people suffer, have a relaxed, non-pressured weekend out in the hills, running, perhaps, in the small hours and seeing the sun rise and then having a few beers in celebration in the evening and sleeping the sleep of the dead.

Nowadays I’m worried that people might ask me to help.  I really don’t think I can move fast enough to keep up.  Maybe I could manage it for a double round late on the second day….Anybody??  Probably Matt and Tom thought the same thing:  ‘Shall we ask Rick?  Better not, he might say ‘yes’ and we might never get round in time…’

Anyway, they didn’t ask so I didn’t have to say no.  Unfortunately, though, Lynda said ‘yes’ to a different proposition I made to her a while ago: to make an attempt on the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge in September.  I had thought I could have a quiet, under the radar go which if I failed on nobody much would notice.  Actually, when I first though of doing it, I thought: ‘Well 48 miles in 18 hours: shouldn’t be too bad’.  Suddenly as the date approaches, 48 miles seems an awful long way and having to keep up with an international athlete is turning me to a jelly-legged wreck.  We all know that Lynda just gets faster and faster as a run goes on.  What speed is she going to be doing by the time we get to Pillar?

Normally by mid-summer I have had months of running in the hills and am reasonably hill fit if not somewhat jaded and burnt out.  So far this year I have had one competitive outing and two solo runs on the hills and the one competitive run showed me that my legs are no longer working. With things now opening up I penciled in a series of races to try to stop the rot and see if I could at least keep up with Lynda for the first couple of the 33 hills we have to visit.

Plans were set back with the cancellation of the Trigger on the first Sunday of August but actually it has come as a bit of a relief as this was going to be the second of three consecutive longish Peak District races.  Having completed the first, Holm Moss, I will need two weeks to recover sufficiently before I can contemplate another.

I did Holm Moss a good few years ago, didn’t enjoy it much had an awful run on a roasting day which involved giving up at one point and lying in the river before realizing that the only way to get back to the finish was to complete the course and so I duly plodded round the remainder.  It involves about 25km with some good running on the Pennine Way and some horrible, rough sections and several shortish but brutally steep climbs and descents.  Probably just what is needed to prepare for the Joss.

I set off steadily, using the first mile on a track and road to warm up, though the day was already warm enough.  A couple of ladies took the first steep descent on a very narrow trod very gingerly and we all backed and started bumping into each other in a very non-social distancing way as we tried not to pressure them but couldn’t keep the brakes on tightly enough.  I was secretly rather pleased to find someone going downhill even more slowly than me. 

Eventually I slipped past them and was able to set my own pace.  I felt positive and was running with enthusiasm.  I caught runners, hung behind them and then overtook setting my sites on the next vest.  The momentum was good.  At the first checkpoint at the road crossing by Holm Moss TV mast I barely paused, grabbing the proffered water and skipping over the stile.  There was a nice grassy descent and then I got stuck into the next climb with gusto, driving my legs upwards like in the old days.  All good till I got to the top and suddenly the legs changed from being pistons to being jelly.  There is a long gradual descent to Crowden from the ridge here.  I decided a bit of nursing and things would pick up again.  A couple of guys passed me but then as we approached the valley they stopped going away from me and began to come back.  “My legs just aren’t working” said the first one I caught: “You and me both” I replied, though actually my legs had improved from jelly to a sort of soft compound rubber. 

I always feel momentum is key in races.  Once you stop to drink at a checkpoint and pass the time of day with the marshals you are doomed.  Grab a cup, walk three steps as you down it and go.  I sort of managed this and started to prepare mentally for the coming two big climbs and descent that would get me to Laddow Rocks and the start of the return.  It wasn’t quite driving pistons up the first hill but I did mange to keep going and pass a couple of people who couldn’t. 

“Not enough hills in my legs for this” said one as he admired the view.  Good to think it wasn’t just me then.  I was pleased that the descent went Ok, knees not too bad but then the next climb reared up.  It is a steep pathless scrabble, pulling up on the heather and bilberry.  There was one guy sitting there actually in tears.  “Come on, it’s not that far now” I said encouragingly.  “It bloody is” he replied, and he was right. As I neared the top I began to wonder if my legs would actually get me there or just expire and not carry me any higher.  Eventually I pulled myself onto the top of the Edge.  The marshals were all positive and upbeat.  They had cups of water.  “Here have a seat said one, the view is fantastic” and he made room on the rock he was on.  Sod the momentum.  I sat down to enjoy the view and have the drink.

An elderly lady (well she was V65) who had been on my shoulder all the way passed me.  After a bit I set off in pursuit.  I managed to jog a lot of the way up the flagstones to Black Hill and every time I looked up she was walking: “Great, come on, pull her back” I said to myself but she never got closer and opened up a big gap on the run down from the trig to the mast and the start of the last section back along the hillsides we had traversed in the morning.  “Come on, come on stay strong.  You’d be fine if it was 14 miles to go and not four” I told myself.  Somehow when you know you are nearly there it is too easy for your body to give up prematurely.  The vet lady was struggling and suddenly I had nearly caught her and another guy.  “Don’t care.  Just want to finish”, my legs told me.  The last hill really was a struggle and the last 2km of track and road stretched out to infinity it seemed but like all bad things it did indeed finally come to an end.

I didn’t break 4.30 which I hoped for.  I didn’t make even the top three V60s but I wasn’t last, I’d had a good day out; wonderful to be running on the hills again and I won a bottle of wine in the raffle.  I came home feeling replete.  But those 48 miles with Lynda are now looking positively terrifying.  Can I really get strong enough in time?

Results

1   Karl Gray     2.40.30

68 Rick Ansell   4.42.31 (5 V60)

101 started, 91 finished

Race Report: The Gaddesden Gallop 10K Sunday 4 July 2021

By Dave Cary

I never intended to enter this race. In fact I had no idea that it was happening until the day before when, out walking our dog along the Golden Valley in Ashridge my wife and I came across two mysterious signs one saying 5K pointing one way, and another saying 10K pointing the other.

Being the curious chap I am, I got onto google on returning home and found out that the signs were for The Gaddesden Gallop 5K and 10K and that it was taking place at 1030 next morning starting from Little Gaddesden Sports Ground. I texted the organizer who texted me straight back to confirm that she would pre-register a place for me in the 10K. I was in!

But would there be any other Tringers lining up on the start line? Never fear, a small (elite?) group of us gathered pre-race including Sally Nash, Martin Hopcroft and Paul Crudge. There may have been others, but there were no other Tring RC vests to be seen.

The course itself turned out to be relatively challenging, the first half going out along the Golden Valley mainly uphill, followed by a sprint downhill along a wooded path and through a tunnel before reaching Nettleden Road. Unfortunately I took a bit of a tumble on this section when I tripped running downhlll, however after a quick roll, I bounced straight back up without losing my race position. I scraped my arm but as Monty Python’s Black Knight once said “Tis but a scratch!”

After the Nettleden road crossing there was a long climb uphill which luckily I had recently run with the 10’s group, so at least I knew when we were getting near the top! From there it was a fairly flat second half mainly on country lanes before returning across the fields to the Sports Ground and over the finish line, with lots of encouragement from the watching spectators and runners that had already completed the course.

I have to congratulate the organisers of this race, Little Gaddesden Primary School, for putting on a great event, hopefully raising a significant sum of money for the school. The race marshals, presumably parents, teachers and school staff, many accompanied by their children, were superb both in their directions to the runners and in their welcome, vocal encouragement. It was also very touching to see so many little primary school children completing the 5K race with their mums and dads. Hopefully a lifetime of running beckons for them.

I would also like to congratulate my fellow Tringers who all managed to achieve finishing positions in the Top 10:

3rd Overall Paul Crudge 44:23

5th Overall (and 1st Female!) Sally Nash 46:04

9th Overall Martin Hopcroft 48:26

Well done to you all!

And 31st Overall…Dave Cary 55:50

Finally on leaving the car park to drive home I spotted Ronnie Wood (whose country residence backs onto the Sports Ground) heading for his back gate with his dog.

So it turned out to be a Rolling Dave and a Rolling Stone kind of morning!

Greensanding

By Helen Tullie

On Saturday 26 June Christina and I ran the Greensand Ridge Relay route. We started in Linslade, near Tiddenfoot Waterside Park and finished 34 miles later at the Crown pub in Northill.

It was the completion of what had become a project- several Sundays over the last few months we spent “Greensanding”- recceing the legs and learning the way in preparation for the event.  Celine and Lynda joined us for some social-runs, and we combined legs and organised cars and lifts (thanks Paul, Ian and James!) to get some long training runs in. I also did leg 5 with my Dad who lives in Bedford, not far away.  

We were looking forward to joining the vibe that is Greensand on event day and imagined we would enjoy seeing the succession of Zebra vests from the different TRC teams fly past- hopefully all going the right way! When the event had to be postponed we decided to complete our run on the day anyway. It wouldn’t be the same, but with family and friends on board as support, we’d get the job done and have a good day out.

Brian saw us off- and it was good he did! -as neither of us has been present at the start of the race previously we didn’t know where the actual start line was. Brian showed us and after an official photo (thanks Brian) we were off. It was a 15 degrees, which rose to a sunny 20/21 later in the day and very humid indeed. I wasn’t unduly concerned- it wasn’t 25 degrees, we weren’t going up a mountain, we’d done plenty of “training” (well running), we weren’t after a fast time- it would be fine, wouldn’t it?!

For the first two legs we trotted along at our easy pace and were pleased when we reached the pretty run in to Woburn where you can see Woburn Abbey in the distance. Rachel was meeting us there and we were looking forward to seeing her and having a drink. A bit too keen to get there I took us off the trail too early- our only navigation error of the whole route. It was only a small error so we got back on track and soon there was Rachel, in full voice, cheering us in!

I was more tired than I should be – we’d only run 9 miles, at a very easy pace – so I was a bit confused as to why this was, but had some drinks, a couple of snacks and then thought we’d better get on with it – surely I’d feel better soon?

Leg 3 starts with the trail creeping gradually up hill through Woburn Park, with deer and Woburn Abbey to delight the senses. It then winds through villages, across undulating fields, passed the Segenhoe 12th Century ruined church, across the M1 bridge and finishes by running into Millbrook by the golf club and proving ground.

It is probably the leg I know the best, having raced it in 2017. It is the longest leg of the relay, and the most exposed.  Probably it is also my favourite leg, but on Saturday it was where I felt my worst.  I had to sit down for a rest at least twice, and then could only manage to walk rather than run for rather large portions. Christina was very philosophical and so supportive as my pace slowed and then stopped…”just think of it as a picnic in the countryside with some running” she said. “We’ve got all day”, she said, “it doesn’t matter,” Thanks Christina!

Rachel came up the trail and ran into Millbrook with us.  I sat in her car boot feeling a bit sorry for myself.  She was great though, sensitive, empathetic, but also pragmatic, “Yeah, it’s humid, yeah it’s hard, have a drink, have some food and then come on, let’s go!”

So, with half of Christina’s electrolyte tablet (mango flavour) in my water bottle we got going. Rachel ran with us for the first part of leg 4 which was a real boost. If you know Rachel you know she can talk (and run). As I’d lost the ability to talk during leg 3 it was good Christina now had someone to talk to and I could potter on behind. We passed the horses and on into Ampthill Great Park. I must have been feeling a little better as I remembered the correct way through the park!

Slowly but surely we got to Maulden Wood and were met by the mobile support station that was my parents. They had been waiting a while, Mum patiently doing crossword puzzles, Dad stomping round the woods…. Here, Lucozade Sport and a mars bar perked me up. I think I checked my phone at about this point and saw Brian’s supportive message in response to the fact I’d been struggling but was now feeling a bit better- “just get to the pub”…ok Brian!

We were soon off onto leg 5, down through the car park lay-by and onto the grass verge by the A road, that each time I have run on (3 times now) I wonder if this really is the correct route (I think it is….?!)

The combination of Lucozade, the now more overcast conditions and the cheering thought that we were only 10 or so miles from the finish spurred me on and luckily I could now maintain a slow running pace for longer than a few minutes at a time! We got to the leg 5/6 changeover, “Oh, you’re here earlier than I thought,” said my Mum, handing out more Lucozade and Coke. So, nearly there!

Leg 6 was a leg we had only done once, but was pretty straightforward. I got my map out just in case…although carrying a folded map and not looking it is perhaps not optimum. Luckily Christina remembered it well, and we actually completed leg 6 faster than on our previous recce. We were thrilled to finish and joined my husband, daughter and parents who had bagged a table at The Crown to enjoy some refreshment before heading back to Tring.