August 26, 2017

The Beep Test

Nearly 18 months of plugging away at chapter 2 of Karate, been lots of fun. Some mountain running for fun, but not a huge amount and do miss it. So while I am pretty flexible and have good short term fitness, I am probably about as fit as when started training for the Bob Graham Round, just 8 years older.

Anyway, decided to do the Beep Test which should be a good indicator of where I am starting again.

  • Dad : level 5, 8 laps
  • Small girl level 3, 3 laps
  • Small boy level 2, 8 laps
Will be interesting to see how it improves.

We have a plan !!!!!

April 9, 2016

A 32 year goal : taking the black

I started doing karate when I was 16. Did it for 2 years got to purple belt, then stopped when I want to University. Always known it was something I needed to come back to, unfinished business.

The kids wanted to start 2 1/2 years ago, so I went along as dad in shorts with no intention of
starting again quite yet and as a family we have had a great time. Much credit to our instructors, Sensei Simon, Sensei Clive and Sensei Sarah.

If I look a bit stunned, its in part  because I had been hit in the face a little earlier in the day as part of the grading and part because I passed.

In a years time I hope the kids will do their Dan grading, I will continue, I have the bug, but also have an appitite to get back to mountain running is a serious way again.

With Sensei Sherry and Sensei Brennan

March 15, 2015

Inov mudclaws to white pajamas

Post Bob Graham I decided family time was the most important time. 20 training hours a week slogging up and down hills somewhat takes from family time. Given most teenages would rather be seen dead in a ditch than dancing with dad at a festival, so while they are not teenagers I am making the best of it.

I did Karate from about age 16 to 18, stopped when I went to University, mostly for reasons of rock climbing, so 27 years on when the kids wanted to start, I went along as Dad in shorts and pretended I had never done any karate. That did not last long, it is suprising how it comes back.

Thanks to great instructors [ 2 x 5th dan 1 x 3 dan]  kids have gone from White belts to Purple and I have moved from Purple to Brown 2 white stipes, so Black next for me when I am judged good enough to grade.

I still run, always off road, still love running downhill like a mad thing thats mad, but its going to be a little longer till I get back to really long distances and training commitment, but I will.

February 3, 2014

Sod it

I took the kids to the University in Aberystwyth this evening for Swiming and dance lessons. Small man and I raced 3 laps of the track while small girl was in dance and before his swimming. As usual I really enjoyed the running, even on the track. I did 4 miles on Sunday night off road and really enjoyed it.I still associate that part of the University, track, sports center, etc with Coach Jon who wonderfully provided some science to my Bob Graham training a few years back.

It got me wondering if there had been any research on loosing your running mojo after doing something significant. In my case now for 2 1/2 years, I an still out running, still in moutains but not
enough to race. I am just not putting the training in. Excuses abound, chest infections, work, stuff to do in the new place, kids, started karate again after a 27 year gap. But I know in the 3 years before the BGR I had the motivation to get out and get the miles and climb in, no matter what. I have the best of objectives, but not the dedication.

The thing is I want to run, and run well, to be as fit as I was again and I don't feel all my running objective have been completed yet, though the BGR will never be topped in terms of experience. There is something missing, but I have yet to figure out what. Might just be a question of my life being a bit on the full side right now.

My running partner is ever so keen for me to my running mojo back

December 23, 2013

North Rhinogs : cracking day out.

I 1st remember the concept of the traverse of the Rhinog being floated by this gentleman probably 20 years ago. Took a while to start exploring it, but Wednesday was a really nice day and so explored the north section for the 1st time. Not the fastest traverse,  but this was about getting to know the area and what a fantastic area it is. If you have not visited you should, unless of course you don't like mountains.

This is rough ground, part of it are very rough. 10 miles in you know you have done 10 miles.
Some of the navigation after Clip is tricky (at least to get anything like an optimal route). Still great day and I feel the need for some further exploration. Mid week near the shortest day, of course I saw no one else.

Nothing like a view of Port Merion and the power station for a bit of context. Bus and train schedules do not make doing the whole traverse easy, more so in Winter.

October 30, 2013

back in the swing

Seem to have got back into the swing of things. Now suffering the after effects of 22 good hard miles on some not particular interesting hills to the East of the Cairngorms.

We are back with a plan for next year, more to follow .....

September 4, 2013

Peter Douglas RIP

Sad to hear that Peter has passed on. For the 5 or so years I have been fell running he has been a regular fixture, taking photo's and more recently video and making them available on the web.

I guess that him and I did not exchange more than a few 100 words in the 5 or so years, but he always had a cheery greeting and words of encouragement.

The fell running world is poorer.

July 22, 2013

Snowdon race

With Myra away, I enlisted the help of virtual Granny Mo (not a granny by blood, but by deed) to look after the small people while I was on hill and the 3 seemed to have a great time while I was away.

For my fitness (and it was better than I expect) it was tactically just about perfect (again). 1.20 to the summit was OK. Took 0.5l of Nuun and refilled the bottle when I could which was spot on, though maybe should have taken more fast at the last water station at 1/2 way down.

It was a 1st outing for a Chill Tech head video camera. I put it on just after the top to caputre some of the descent. About a minute in my sun-concious worked out I had probably put it on my head upside down, so set it the right way up and my of turned it off. So I got 67 seconds of footage offset at 90 degrees. Still, it was an experiment.

The 1st half of the descent was fast, but did not feel as fast as previous years, just did not have the lung capacity to keep the going flat out. The last 1/4 of the race was brutal. The breeze had disappeared, it was got hotter and I slowed to a jog. Finished in 2.02.48, a little slower than I would have liked by under 2 hours on a hot day is OK. A lot slower than my best time of 1.42, but maybe half down to being less race fit and half down to the heat.

I did see 2 runners go down, one girl I spoke to after had a broken writs and a chap took a nasty fall just below the 1/2 way point.

It is a great race, it does have an element of being a big event, but done in Llanberis style. I am not one for external motivation, but I still get a lump in my throat thinking about running past the Vic. The reception and encourgaement is just great and every year it is such a lift.

After a 3 year gap, I am pleased I ran it again. I do the race for the 1st half of the descent and the run past the Vic and will do it again. Well done Steve and co.

June 30, 2013

Where am I ?

I spent last night gear and food carrying on the Arran section of the Meirionnydd Round. I had only been on part of that section and our navigator(Rob Woodall) knew the section(and the entire round) rather well, so I just tried to keep up, but spent most of the 4 hours in the dark not having a clue where I was. Visibility was down to about 15ft in places, though at no time was the weather unpleasant or even wet. The same can't be said for the middle section under foot which was just bog with added slippy planks. I enjoyed being out at night again, the company and having a long run.

Bad luck Stewert, much respect for a great  effort and look forward to supporting you when you have your successful attempt.

June 26, 2013

Drygan Fawr

Starting out about 8.15pm (on my way back from Reading) I got to about 15 minutes from the top of Drygarn_Fawr. This is a place you can guarrantee that on a Tuesday evening in June there will be no one else.

I would have liked to get to the top, but just after 9pm, the sun was starting going down behind the hills, I was *very* lightly kitted out with no torch and there was a significant cooling wind, so decided not to risk a push for the top. The other motive to get down before the light started going was the descent which was fast path over moorland and a very fast run down a gentlly sloping track which was one of the most fun runs I have done for ages. So backing off on the push for the top was a good call.

Out for about 90 minutes, did 6 miles and very much looking forward to going back, next week maybe, but come in from the south.

June 23, 2013

Properly humbled

Properly humbled by Ras Cwm Pennant last Saturday with a solid last. Still, if I was to pick a race to be humbled in, that would probably be it. 17 miles and 5500ft with lots of rough ground, but a cracking race all the same. Well done to the team (Matt in particular) for putting it on. I did not like the last 4k on the road, but will be back to do it again next year, something to prove.
My lack of training showed, but at least I finished.

It must have tiggered something as I was out 3 times running this week. Couple of miles in the hills about Cwmystwyth on Wednesday morning followed by a dip in the river (a bit on the cold side), 1000ft of steep hill reps on Saturday and 30 mins of less steep, but faster hill reps on Sunday.

Lets see what we can manage this week !

June 2, 2013

back on the air waves

I know this blog has been dormant since late January. We have been out training a bit.  Have done a few races including the Moelwyn Race in April in super weather.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Phoenix in Arizona at a customer site. Quite hot for a welsh man with temperatures just below 100 F. I did have a couple of morning runs in the hills around Phoenix, lots of people getting out early and lots of cactus!

As the customer was not working over the weekend, I drove a couple of hours north to the Grand Canyon. Loaded up with food and water, I decided to wonder downt he Kieber path and see how far I got.  The advice was to start very early, but I concluded that doing the climb back out of the canyon in the evening would probably be more comfortable. The paths were well marked and very clear and I even took a torch.

I encountered a pair of adventure police (Park Rangers) as I was running down, dodging Janpanesee families as best I could and the conversation when something like this

  • Ranger : Hi, looks like you are on your own
  • Clive : yes
  • Ranger  : How far are you going
  • Clive : 3rd of water in, 3rd out and 3rd as backup
  • Ranger : I like your thinking
  • Ranger : said something else but Clive had run out of ear shot
Took about 1 hour 30 mins of not particullary fast  downhill to get from rim to river, with a few photo and water stops.

maybe the bird of prey knew something I did not

I made it to the bottom of the canyon, fill up the water bottles (added about 2 litres), hung around, drank, eat among other things a cliff bar I had left over from the Pacific Trails race in January and waiting till 4pm to start going back up on the assumption it would start to cool down.
At the river it was 97 F (hot for a Welsh man) and a lot hotter than 5,500ft higher. It did start to cool about 5pm, but was still warm and it did cool as I climbed up. The return took about 3 1/2 hours but I did not flog myself, particulay for the 1st 2 hours when it was still very hot.

I stopped about 300ft from the rim to enjoy the sunset, take some pictures, it was quite something. It is true that you don't get the scale of the Canyon from the rim (or indeed the river), but go maybe 1000ft into the canyon and the scale becomes very clear.

so what would I have done differently. 1st time in this type of environment. My conclusion was 1 thing I would have changed. I would have brought some Nuun tablets with me.

Going forward we have a Merry round to help out on. Might try Moel Hebog race next weekend for a change, something short. Been wanting to do that race for a few years. I also have a big hairy challange in mind, just need to get some serious training unde rmy belt before "coming out".

     and I was stupid enough to pre-register for the Dragon's back in 2015

January 27, 2013

Going international : Pacifica Foothills Trail Run 50K

I can't find a link to the site now, perhaps it was all an illusion.

In San Fransico area with work for 10 days, so with a spare Saturday, I decided to enter a race.  Using that Internet thing found the Pacifica Foothills race in San Mateo country park just to the west of San Francisco and you could pick a couple of distances : 20km, 30km, 26 miles and 50km. Of course, in the light of having done minimal running since by Bob Graham in August 2011 and not run more than 15 miles in one go since then I decide the 50km (31 miles) would be the most appropriate distance to opt for. Totally logical of course.

The organisation was great, aid stations could not have been more helpful and prepared, you just turn up and run. The folks at the aid stations filled your water bottle with water or electrolyte. As much as you could eat. I found the provided Clif Bars worked OK on the 1st lap, but were too strong/rich for after 15 miles.

I did find the concept of running 2 different loops a couple of times was somewhat alien. There was more climb than I expected, about 8000ft at a guess, but it was never steep and if you were only doing 1 loop it would almost all have been runable.

By the time I finished, the organisers were packing away. I was well looked after and to my surprise I was not that wreaked. Of course driving back to the hotel[ about 40 miles] was entertaining as my legs took turns to cramp up.

Looking east back towards area of the race

So all went well, I paced it just right, but as expected was not fit enough to be competitive, but that was never the point. It was the experience of doing a long-ish US trail race, the people and looking at the Pacifica from a hill I will almost certainly never visit again. These races are not cheap to enter, but it was still I believe for me good value for the experience. I clearly would not fly 6,000 miles just to do a race like that, but if you are there anyway, it would be rude not to sample what is on offer.
A nice place to chill post race

Post race Burrito with a view

January 6, 2013

Hill east of Llandewi Brefi

  • Monday : 8 miles, 1000ft
  • Tuesday : hill reps 6 * 200ft
  • Wedneday : rest
  • Thursday : 6 miles, 1000ft
  • Friday : wore myself out chipping wood and destroying a static caravan. Hard physical day
  • Saturday : Climbing wall
  • Sunday : 8 miles in bog and mist in the hills and forestry east of Llandwei Brefi. Bless the investor of the GPS with a map on.
Planning to enter an Ultra (50km) in the next 2 weeks. Should be a complete heap after it, not that fit or used to running more than 15 mile at the moment. What is there not to like !

New year and all that rubbish, major running plans for this year are

  • A anti clockwise Paddy, probably start of July 
  • Welsh 1000m race [ and finish it this time, those runner who plan to have convulsions or hyperthemia, please stay out of my may ]
  • Sub 4.30 Peris Horseshoe (might be a struggle, 30 minute improvement, but I think it is possible)
Need to get back to serious hill reps if we are going to stand any chance of finishing a Paddy.

November 24, 2012

Changing some kit

One of the side effects of helping out with the Dragon's Back race was to help me grasp how much outdoor kit had moved on in the last 10 years. So I am slowly sending some of the older stuff off to the school clothes bank and replacing it were and when I find stuff at a reasonable price. has UnderAmour at a reasonable price a few weeks ago, so off some of my now quite smelly Helly thermals went and I bought a Coldgear Compression Team Mock.

I have used it for doing some work(wood chopping) outside yesterday and today, I also went for a run in it this evening, so some initial thoughts.

  • It is slightly itchy when you 1st put it on but that soon goes
  • When the UnderAmour is wet and put under just a Goretex jacket, the jacket seems to suck the heat out. Put a thin layer between the 2 and you don't get chilled very quickly.
  • Its probably too warm if you are working hard, even on its own, unless it is minus something or you can use the wind to cool you down.
  • I put it under a thin fleece when chopping some wood and that was fine. I came in to the house, took the fleece off and got cold straight away, felt like it sucked heat away unless their was something over it. It really is a base layer and does need something over it like a think fleece.
I would be interested to try the warmer weather version or to try this one in cold weather to see how it performs.

So in short, very good for pacing a Winter Bob Graham, not so good for a run down  the coast and a wet, but not that cold November evening.

However, I need to work on my Abs. It is tight enough fitting to really shows up the lack of them.

Cardington Cracker next weekend. not race fit, but going to run it for fun. Might also see if I can get away with doing the Cordon 3 Peaks Classic which is also a great race.

November 4, 2012

No momentum

I am enjoying each run, but not getting any training momentum together. This week was not too bad and included 2 x 8 miles over rough ground (1 run was to pick up a tractor and  included a commedy of errors with a return journey driving a tractor that died in the middle of the road after less than 2 miles).

No races planned this month and need back into hill reps which seem to make the most difference of the training I have done in the past.

Rowen's cross-country this week, which is something to look forward to.

October 7, 2012

Thames Path and Arenig Fawr race

Trying to get back into the swing of regular training and not a great week, but not bad either.

  • Monday : 14 miles with rucksack along Thames path from Reading to Streetly in Dark. A fine run it was too. Some parts were not that flat and some of the path does not follow the river (hence wondering round a house estate in the dark where the signs pointed me)
  • Tuesday : Rest
  • Wednesday : 5 miles on coast path plus some climb
  • Thursday :Rest (actually just did not have time)
  • Friday : Down to sea and back (2 miles 500ft)
  • Saturday : 4 miles coast path plus some climb
  • Sunday : Arenig Race, 7 miles and 2K of climb. Not a great time, but had a cracking descent. 51 out of about 75, so OK, but shows that I am not race fit. Did recover very quick if we compared to the state I would have been on after running a similar time in 2008.
Rowen has been selected for the country cross country, very pleased and looking forward to going along to that.

September 16, 2012

and now for a messages from our sponsor

Mt Bloody Windy

Of course, no company is daft enough to give free kit to a tail end of the mid pack runner like me for their running prowess. However, I am really made up with the kit that we got as helpers for the Dragons Back race. Mr. Berghaus gave us the works. Full set of light weight Gore-tex waterproofs, rucksack, warm jacket, 2 base layers, trousers and race T-shirt.

Total value = lots

So, as I have no other medium to say it

Thank you Mr Berghaus. I very much appreciate getting the kit, it is unbelievably light and keeps out horizontal rain coming at you at 70 mph. Thank you for your support of the race.
Mount Clay
So I find myself with a free weekend in Boston in the North East U.S. I had stuffed the Goretex jacket[I think it is one of these] and the insulated jacket [similar to this] and a base layer [Like this but with a zip ] along with shirts, running shoes and the other rubbish a work trip needs. Previously unaware that New Hampshire had mountains (not been to these parts before), I cobbled enough kits from what I had with me, bought a 1:100,000 trail map and headed to the White Mountains to walk/run a loop of Mt's Washington, Jefferson, Clay and Munro. Mt Washington had a bit of the feel of Snowdon with a train running to the top and people wondering round shivering in T-Shirts as they run between the train and the visitors centre.

Mt Jefferson with random dog
Mt Washington is without doubt the most windy place I have ever been. I understand it was an average day and the winds were 70 mph with horizontal driving rain.  The wind only really got up in the last 50 vertical meters which was odd.

A very good day out, but here is the rub, at home I have kit to deal with such conditions, but as I also had to pack shirts and other work related rubbish for the week which is not light, unless I had known I was going to have a free weekend near mountains, I would not have bothered to pack any of outdoor gear, so would not have made the trip. I had no idea that mountain quality kit could be made so light.

The kit I had with me yesterday was light enough and took up so little room in my luggage, that I just packed it anyway. I would not have made this off the cuff trip in the wilds of New Hampshire without the kind sponsorship by Berghaus of the Dragon's Back and the quality  of kit they gave out to the race helpers.

September 9, 2012

Inspired by the Dragon

Spent most of last week supporting the Dragon's Back Race and a privilege it was to. I had 3 great runs out, learned that the Black Mountain and the Black Mountains are different, got 1st hand experience that organizing an event of that scale is as much of an effort as running in it and meet some really great new people, both competitors and supporters.

Being involved in this race in any way resets your baseline of what HARD really means and I don't think I still really get what this race involved. Many of the competitors I spoke to said they thought it was the hardest race out there. Around 3/4 of the starters did not finish the whole thing. That should not detract from the achievements of those who did part days in any way, but gives some idea of just how bloody hard it was.

I would never be able to do it, I am not physically or mentally wired in such a way as to be able to do the full event over the 5 days.

I have only admiration for Shane, the race director, lets hope he runs it again before an other 20 years have elapsed. This event more than any I have run in or helped at shows that sport(elite or not) is not just about the Olympics and medals.

It has wetted my appetite to run a Mountain Marathon (2 day type thing) next year. Just need to find a partner of similar running outlook and ability.

August 23, 2012

Change of course, again

I had plans over the last 3 months to train with the Peris Horseshoe in mind and then step up to a long winter event. Training over the last few months has not gone well or been in any way consistent. I have the running mojo back, that bit of the jigsaw sorted itself out quite some time ago. It is just time. Moving house(no small effort), getting the new place into shape, getting the old one in a position to rent or sell has been hugely time consuming. If improving fitness was measured in arm strength, I would be doing well.

So I won't be doing the Peris this year (again) and anyway I am away with work around that time. However, the thought process has brought me to a different goal. I have done long and hard, the Bob Graham was that journey and a great one, but it is not time to repeat that sort of challenge yet and I just don't have the time to go our and run for 4 hours a couple of times a week at the moment. So I am going to try to get fast. Well, faster at any rate. I am going to work on the 6 to 10 mile AM fell race, see how much I can improve and these are the races I plan to do over the next 6 months. Lets see how the power of commitment and guilt works out.

  • Arenig Race
  • Ras Robell Fawr
  • Cardington Cracker
  • Cordon Classic
  • Long Mynd Valleys race
  • Ras-Y-Aran
I might also add in the Aberystwyth Twin Peaks race.

Part of the rational is if I am going for something like a Paddy in 2013/2014, it would be good to get faster 1st. 

August 8, 2012

The Tarrens : Corris to Aberdoevy

Last weekend, prompted by my good lady sister in law's wish to visit the Craft centre in Corris and the small peoples wish to ride on a donkey, a plan was hatched for them to do as they wished and me to get a lift to run the line of hills from Corris to Aberdovey which I had admired many times from the south.

While I did not quite run the whole length as planned (my taxi service ran out of patience), we did get as far as Happy Valley, but it is a cracking run, about 14 miles. The line was

View Untitled in a larger map

1st 1/2 was either very rough, either bog, heather, rough forest or very steep grass which her ladyship is perfectly suited to. 2nd half was fast and very enjoyable running, but Mist was a bit tired over the last section. We saw no one all afternoon, except the same can't be said of the top of Snowdon.

Dog + a pile of stones

Looking towards Bearded Lake
Looking towards Cader Idris

See, no people
In short, lots more to explore up in this range, some great running and some of the best views in Wales.

July 25, 2012

back now with a goal

So after 6 months of getting a house ready to move out of and to move into a new one, we are back running again. Now situated on the Ceredigion (or All Wales) coast path, there is lots of scope for longer run outs with plenty of hill and with a gently sloping field which is ideal for doing speed work in.

I did the half Peris course yesterday late afternoon. Quite slow, but it was very hot and I had a few work phone calls to deal with on route. Sorted out a few lines. I had intended to do the whole Peris, but by the time I got to Pen-Y-Pass the heat had taken its toll. Still cracking run and I don't feel that tired today, no aching muscles.

So my only running goal for the next few months is a sub 5 hour Peris. I am fit enough to finish, even do a 5.15 at the moment. Getting the next 20 minutes will require a lot of work over the next 6 weeks.

July 1, 2012

Ras-y_haford and the Leventon Line

After some period of running drought, this was a full on running weekend.

Friday night say 3 or of the 4 (or 5 if you count dog) running at the Hafod masnsion. Kids did a 1 mile races and Dad did the 6 mile trail race. All pleased with our results, but we broke no record. Andrew was the youngest in his class by 2 years (next was his sister) and both did very well. Dad just enjoyed his run and tried in vain to save his legs fro Sunday.

On Sunday supported Helen Skelton who has done a bit of running before as is shown here for the last 2 legs of the Leventon Line which runs from Llangothlen to Barmouth., about 50 miles and 12,000ft of climb.

Well done Helen, an excellent time at around 15.30 and a good fun day. I had to work very hard to keep up on the section across the last 3 tops and got left for dust once we got to the road. Still, did me a lot of good and hound enjoyed it. Great bunch of people and yes, I did leave the box with most of my gear outside the house, been a lot going on in the world of the king family of late, but still the pinnacle of cluelessness. Thanks to Andy for sorting me out with gear.

Charlie has some photo's here.

June 4, 2012

Caz the Hat does the Merri

Looking North towards Arenig Fawr

I meet Carwyn about 3 weeks before while supporting a Paddy and knew he was going to have a go at the Meirionnydd Round which had only had 1 sub-24 hour completion by Yannis in 1998.  Being quite local, this was an event I wanted to be part of.

I helped support leg 4 over Arenig Fawr and Rhobell Fawr. I would guess it was about 15 miles and maybe 4000ft of climb in total. However, both Bill Williamson (no mean runner of rounds himself) and I thought this leg was at least as hard as leg 3 of a BGR. There are long sections of boggy heather with no defined path and some forest. The much of the last 2 miles of descent was just heather and bog with little or no path. At least BGR plus 2 hours, no well warn paths here, this is real adventure country.

The story of the Round is for Caz to tell and he very much deserves to tell it. 23.31 was a great achievement given the challenge and the heat. He worked very hard both on the day and doing a lot of prep. in the months before. A great day with great people.

Lets hope it gets some more attempts, but maybe one of the charms of the area is that it won't get too many.

Looking forward to supporting a Leventons Line (yes, a new one on me as well) and a Paddy over the next few weeks.

Caz and hat with Moel Llyfant in background

From Moel Llyfnant toward Arenig Fawr

May 13, 2012

Now quite a Paddy

Paced some (about 1/2 the Moel Hebog leg) of a Paddy Buckley last night. Weather was fantastic(though cold when the sun went down) and was about 30 seconds too slow to get a picture of  Brocken spectre from the top of Moel Hebog. I was looking forward to the Snowdon section as well, but it was not to be. Family King decamped to camp in a great little camp site in Llanberis, so fun had by all.

The story of Keen's not quite a Paddy is his to tell. Great effort and achievement none the less.

Previous Sunday I did a early circuit of Cader Idirs with my running friend Richard who was a Cader Idris virgin. Cracking morning all round.

April 21, 2012

A firm reminder I need to start training again

I have run the Moelwyn race in 2008 and 2009. I remember being wasted after it both times, but really enjoying the descents.

I have not run much since August, so today outing was a firm reminder that I need to get back into some more serious training, in particular steep hill reps.

The race is put on by the community of Blaenau Ffestiniog and it is by my measure by far the best community run race I have been to. Soup, tea and cakes and just the general enthusiasm and friendly nature of the people and the marshals makes it a special race for me.

I did not have a great race, but quite enjoyed most of it.  Usual pattern of loosing places on the flat and gentle up hills. Slowly gaining places on the steep up hill and making lots of places going downhill.
1st for me was having to stop for 3 or 4 minutes with cramp just on the descent of Moelwyn Fach. Every runner stopped to ask if I was OK, 2 marshals came across and then made a joke that I was not going to push a rock over (I was using it to stretch against - you had to be there). Cramp cleared on the descent, but came back when I really pushed it on the flat sections towards the end. Maybe a pack of sodium, potassium, etc, maybe a lack of fitness. By the end of the race, places did not matter, but the race severed its purpose, I enjoyed most of it except the cramp and proved to I need to train far more aggressively that I was.

1 thing that was very different for 2008 and 2009 was my speed of recovery. I could have run it again if I really had to today (would not have been happy about it and would have been slow, but I could have). I remember being wiped out after the race 2 and 3 years ago and today was not. Guess we are starting again from a much higher base of endurance, though I do find going hard on gentle hills wipes me out. Time for some serious hill training.

April 2, 2012

Captin Blacketts BGR

Andy's BGR story is Andy's to tell, so read it here. Very pleased for him and he put himself through it from Pillar to the end. Suffering and sacrifice on the last 2 legs is what makes a BGR memorable and Andy did his share of both to his credit. It is not meant to be easy.

I really enjoyed walking over to Moss Trod between Great Gable and Kirk Fell on leg 4 in the moon light, brewing up coffee and hot Jelly(I thought Jim Mann were joking when I 1st heard him suggest that Andy liked liquid jelly) seeing them for 30 seconds and then disappearing again.

Leg 5 required some effort as pacers and Patrick, who I meet for the 1st time, was great company to pace with and we shared the task of getting Andy over the last section. Andy was in his own private hell dimension for most of leg 5, though did crawl out for about 20 minutes around Robinson.
As Fiona (Andy's Wife) coached him along the road at 5.30 in the morning, Patrick and I sat on the bench at Portinscale and pondered if we had any sympathy for Andy as he shuffled down the road, less than a mile from the end. We concluded that while he was clearly suffering, we had no sympathy at all, as it was his choice to do it. Provided he did not do permanent damage to himself,  we were there to get him back to the green door with no excuses. The Bob Graham Round itself plays with your mind while you are a contender, pacers are there to feed and navigate, but also deliver some tough love (figuratively of course) when the self talk gets the better of the runner.

If you are going to do a BGR, there is a lot to learn from pacing leg 5 before your round.

March 30, 2012

1st BG of the year

Back taped up by physio, but also recovered more than well enough to run now, so I hope to see Andy Blackett wobble into Honister at 1am (he is going clockwise with a 6am start) on Sunday morning.

Really looking forward a leg 5  and running into Keswick with him in the small hours of Sunday morning.

March 6, 2012

going to get the car

After 15 years of company cars, I have bought my 1st car since 1995 (tractors and diggers don't count). Such was the excitement of being able to choose anything, I got exactly the same as I have had for the last 4 years! Something about being 43 I guess where the prospect of buying a car is meet with indifference rather than excitement. Stuff you Top Gear.

However, I got the car from a garage in Aberaeron and rather than getting a lift or talking the bus to pick up the car on Friday, I used it as an excuse to run along the Coast Path from Aberystwth to Aberaeron, about 18 miles with a fair amount of up and down.

I am not as fit as I was 6 months ago. focusing on other stuff and 2 months of being ill mean it took me 4 hours rather than I would have guessed at 3 hours pre BGR 6 months ago. My legs felt the miles after about 12. Still, I am sure the fitness will return quite quick as I get back into longer runs which is getting easier as the evenings get longer, but it is still hard work and this is the 1st big step.

Her ladyship is not as fit as she was 6 months ago either. Still, cracking day and that is really what it is about.

February 5, 2012


So 6 weeks of chest infection, then 10 days in India with the obligatory 3 day of sprinting to the toilet, and I am back in the UK and still not able to run. This is getting boring. Hope to make the Tarren Hendre race next weekend, even if I am not that fit.

January 27, 2012


30 was a long time ago for me, but I was a little surprised and very pleased to be invited along to Andy Blacketts 30 birthday do where he was going to run 30 peaks across the Ulswater and Helvellin range in just about daylight.

He managed it(along with Jim Mann), despite 70 mile an hour winds.

When Clive is on top form and Andy and Jim has their legs tied together, Clive would still struggle to keep up with them. 6 weeks of chest infection, still coughing, common sense (of a sort) prevailed. 6 set off from Pooley Bridge early. We meet them for soup at the pub at Kirkstone Pass. Jim and Andy carried on from there to finish on Great Dodd where I planned to meet them.

In the morning I wondered up Cat Bells on my own, my 1st Lakeland hill that was not on the Bob Graham Round, shame on me I know. Cat Bells is quite small, but I almost got blown over while sitting down on the top.

In the afternoon I went up Great Dodd and sat in the shelter at the top as the wind blasted past. It was quite wild, but under my little nylon shelter all of me except my feet warmed up nicely. I should have a) worn a new pair of seal skin sock and b) taken a spare pair of socks with me. The SealSkins I had on have been good friends, but taken hell of a hammering, so don't keep your feet warm or dry now, so time to get a few new pairs I think.

About 30 minutes before Jim and Andy were scheduled to arrive my feet got so cold that I felt it wise to go. I tried walking towards Watson Dodd, but got blown back up the hill. Quite annoyed at myself for not taking a spare pair of socks and not being able to wait around for the lads, but going when I did was the right judgment.

Great weekend, nice to catch up with the lads, looking forward to Andy's BG which he looks very much on form to complete in a fast time and I ordered some new SealSkin socks when I got home, a complete weekend!

January 14, 2012

January 8, 2012

3 weeks and counting

3 weeks since I have run. Chest infection remains and seems immune to Amoxycilin suggesting perhaps it is viral rather than bacterial. It is feeling a bit better, but no way I can run yet. I think patience is in order for at least a few more days.

Must resolve to use this time out to stretch and do various specific strengthening exercises. As long as I don't get out of breath I won't start coughing.

Very frustrating for me and dog who's behavior changes towards frustration when she had not had a long run for a week or so.

December 29, 2011

Winter BG's, Amoxycilin and World War 2 cake

About 2 weeks ago I started to cough, some sort of chest infection, but nothing too serious. Once of my friends who is a GP suggest a useful metric  would be to avoid running if the infection was in the chest, but to continue with head colds. So I stopped running 2 weeks ago. However, I had agreed to pace 2 winter Bob Graham attempts and if you agree to something, unless you are going to do yourself serious harm or be a liability, you still turn up and show willing in my book.

Nick Clark winter BGR attempt is better documented here than I ever could. I was lined up for leg 4 with Yiannis and indeed I has started wondering up Yewbarrow a few minutes before Nick came into Wasdale and called it a day. The reasons were very valid and understandable if you were there.

Nick did not get round, but for me it was s success. I meet a bunch of new great people [Nick, Wynn, Ian et al], had a wonder over Moses Trod with Yiannis to Honister from Wasdale  [would have been a bit packed in the car otherwise] which was fun and I picked up his view on various rounds and how hard they were in comparison to the Bob Graham. The World War 2 cake and soup at Wasdale was just out of this world.

The following week I was going to pace leg 5 for Jim Mann. Jim set off, but found his ankle/knee giving him some trouble as leg 2 wore on. Sounded like they were up on schedule, but bailing was a sensible decision.

One of my reasons for starting Fell Running and to attempt the Bob Graham was to get properly fit as a way of life. I don't get many infection, but some can slow you down. This one was a xmas present from the kids and so I visited my GP this week as 2 weeks of coughing to the point you throw up seemed enough. He put a pulse monitor on my finger and with a concerned look asked if I felt faint. I said not. He then asked if I did a lot of exercise, I explained the fell running thing and he looked a lot happier that my heart rate was below 50 and commented that it was the same region as a elite athlete. Clearly he has not seen me run! One lung has some sort of bacterial infection and so we came out with a prescription for Amoxycilin and should be back running within 4 or 5 days.

December 18, 2011

Don't underestimate a Jack Russel

Sunday morning was Corndon 3 Peaks Classic morning. A little bit of the Welsh/Shropshire boarder I had not visited and great running ground. Other than there being quite a lot of runnable ground on this race and I am not very good at running uphill runnable ground, I had a great time. Did not do well, but did not do badly. Race had the usual profile, I got passed on gentle gradients. I passed 1 or 2 folks on steep climbs. Got passed on the flat bits and passed a few on each steep descent. Congratulations to the Jack Russell who beat me and the lass who I shared a photo finish with. No doubt Al will have some pics up soon.

1 hour and 3 minutes and as usual I am sure that with some more focused training under an hour is easily within grasp. Priest Weston is one of those gems of little villages that fell races in that area introduce you to. Must go back to the Miners Arms when I am not driving and this is a reasonable route to do as a training run when returning from various places. Had a good chat with Tim Davies (he who won) after the race about training and got some useful ideas.

Monday : 6 miles on fields, lots of up and down
Tuesday : 6 miles on track while waiting for small girl Gymnastics
Wednesday : 3 miles on fields in a bitter wind
Thursday : in Manchester
Friday : 6x200ft hills reps plus a mile or so
Saturday : rest
Sunday : 6 + 2000ft Cordon Classic

December 11, 2011

Wish for better weather

I find it very easy to go out for a run when the weather is good, even in winter, snow also fine. Steady rain combined wind, much less appealing. The photo above is post run afternoon tea at Findhorn a few weeks back. It was a bit chilly, but just wonderful to sit outside even in early November having done a few miles on the beach. We have been quite lucky weather wise up until the last week or so, but getting out in all weathers is the real test and contributes to the "fell hard" state of mind that Joss etc al mentions.

Some things just sound wrong, but I shall reserve judgement until hear it. There is also a Radio 4 program about the BGR and the music on friday at 11am. The tunes on my iPod during my round was somewhat less classical. I am sure it will be good, but I do wonder if it is something you can really set to music. Guess it depends on your musical background.

Monday : rest
Tuesday : 6 miles, split into 2 bits, some hill, some track while waiting for kids at gymnastics
Wednesday : 7 miles along bank of Thames near Streatly at night. A very memorable run indeed, torch off and still light enough to run along some of the medows
Thursday : Dreadzone in Stroud. My legs were more tried post gig than if I had been running for the duration.
Friday : 2 miles 500ft
Saturday : small girls birthday
Sunday : 3 1/2 miles of wet wetness over hilly fields while it was wet.

Need a long day out.

Good to see Andy back with a plan. Getting him round his round is one of my goals for 2012.

December 7, 2011

A new focus

I have a bit of new focus in my training. I will hopefully be pacing 2 mid winter BGR attempts over the next few weeks. Nick Clark who seems to have done a little bit[!!] of this mountain running stuff before is having a mid Winter BG attempt and I am down to pace leg 5 along with the most noble BG club sec. The other attempt have yet to "come out", but is likely to be just as competitive and I can for see my efforts to keep up being in the style Pigsy of the 1970's kids program Monkey children's program.

Much of this last 2 weeks training has been done carrying a rucksack which has made it a fair bit more intense.

I was not feeling great last Sunday, so gave the Cardington Cracker a miss. Disappointed, but no point running if you are not up to it. Rest of the weak was a series of shorter and faster runs, including my 1st hill reps for a while.