Archive for November, 2016

Yesterday was a reality check. Me and my mate who’s running the Trigger Race with me went for our first proper recce of part of the route from checkpoint 4 at Snake Road to checkpoint 7 at Kinder Low. The Strava profile looked good and relatively flat. All the major climbs were behind us and we could get into a steady pace over the Pennine Way. However, as I know from experience Strava doesn’t tell you half the story and reality can be very different.

After a drive through the backroads of Yorkshire we parked up at the layby on Snake Pass that is by the Pennine Way. Luckily my mate was navigating or we may well have still been driving round now!

The weather was cool, no wind, with a sea of grey cloud adding to the sense of bleakness over the moors. This for me is perfect weather for running in as I don’t get too hot and it doesn’t sap my energy like the warm weather does.

Off we went on the Pennine Way at this point a line of slabs over the wet moorland so easy to follow and to run on. Our pace was good and I wasn’t having any problems with the running pack on my back and we made steady progress.
Soon we came to the short but steep climb up to the top of Kinder and here we stopped and began to try and find checkpoint 5. This wasn’t quite as easy as it sounds because on the map it says it’s a plane crash site but we couldn’t see any sign of a plane crash anywhere!

After looking at our maps (yes even I brought one!) we decided we were in the right area and we would be able to spot the checkpoint. Moving around the fence that keeps everybody off the top of Kinder and we soon found checkpoint 6. This reassured us that we were in the right area for checkpoint 5 as they are not far from each other.

We made our way back down to the Pennine Way and began the ascent up the short, steep, rocky climb to Kinder. At the moment I’m in good form on the ascents but shocking on the descents and today was more of the same. I powered (for me) up the climb and soon we were running round the edge of Kinder enjoying a beautiful autumn day with stunning views everywhere we looked.

Finding our last checkpoint proved harder though. Checkpoint 7 is a trig point on Kinder but there is more than one up there! So after one small wrong turn we decided to make up for it but taking a big wrong turn!

I had seen some rocks and for some reason we both thought it was a trig point even though we should both know better. We ran up to it and was disappointed to find it wasn’t what we were looking for. Then in the distance I saw what was a trig point and off we ran to that thinking it was the right one.

Looking at the map we seemed to be in the right place and choose to take what looked like a shortcut to Edale down a stream. After around half a mile we realised we were in the wrong area and seeing the Snake Pass and my car in the distance confirmed this. We had run to the other side of Kinder and we were off course.

This really hammered home the importance of recces to me and how easy it is to get lost in unfamiliar surroundings. Luckily for us it was a clear day and we knew roughly which direction we had to take to get back on route. In the middle of a race in rain or snow things could be very different and there is a very real risk of something serious happening…

After running through bogs, streams and over mounds of earth we eventually got back on track and after another mile we found our final checkpoint which wasn’t as far off the Pennine Way as we thought. Having found our final checkpoint I decided to turn round and head back as I could feel my energy levels dropping and my left foot was aching from running over the rocks.

This was the right decision. The Pennine Way here is just a load of rocks and it is mentally and physically challenging to pick out the fastest path and keep moving at a decent pace. At times you are jumping from rock to rock and if you’re not used to it, it drains your energy very quickly.

We made slow progress along the edge of Kinder and by the time I got to the steep descent off it I was spent. My mate went skipping down whilst I trudged down slowly as snails and sloths went casually past me with ease.

By the time, I reached the bottom I was aching everywhere and my left foot was now throbbing and painful to run on. I was determined to run to the end though and began the long run back to my car. The Pennine Way seemed a lot longer and steeper than hours ago, when we had gone the other way but tiredness does strange things to you…

Eventually we got back to my car and could rest. Even though it had been a long and tiring day it had been a very good one. We had found four of our seven checkpoints and I had once again pushed myself to my limits and beyond. This will help me when it comes to race day and I feel confident I can cope with the big climbs to come before and get to the checkpoints before the cut off times. Even though it will be a long day and it will be very tough I’m starting to look forward to race day.

Rachel Cullen blogs about racing with the ego and lurgy

A touching and honest blog about mental health issues, well written with conveys the authors message perfectly

Look at any of them for too long and you’ll find yourself tracing the lines of famous routes on their northern aspects. The 1938 route and the Directissima on the Eiger, The Lauper, Haston-Eistrup and The Nollen on the Monch and the North East ridge and Silberhorn (to the north and often included in an ascent of the Jungfrau from the northern side) on the Jungfrau.

dsc_0069-edit-2 The North Face of The Monch showing the Nollen which takes a line from the bottom right up through the Hanging ice and then up the summit slopes diagonally left. The Lauper route takes the left slanting arete on the left of the image to the summit ridge.

On the drive back from Fribourg this morning, just after sunrise, with the glow of the early light illuminating the famous trio against an overcast sky, I found myself doing just that.

The Nollen is a…

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After last Thursdays fourteen miler I’m feeling confident so decide to go for a run over the Calderdale Way Relay Leg 4, with runners from a local running club. Sunday morning comes round and I’m not feeling as confident.

Most of the runners who were going to run aren’t now because of the reputation of the guy leading the run as a hard and fast runner and it is bitterly cold with a layer of snow covering the high ground of Yorkshire.

My nerves aren’t helped when on arriving at the meeting point I am greeted by six runners who all look like they know what they are doing and I feel out of my depth and worry that I will be left behind in the middle of the moors somewhere!

We begin from Blackshaw Edge and immediately I am trailing behind the others. I am struggling badly on the downhills today which seem to be covered in either wet leaves or snow. Either way I’m not in a downhill mood today and this sets the theme for the rest of the run.

We go down and up some small climbs before we go through woods on narrow trails which connect the small villages around this area. We begin the big descent to the bottom of the valley and I am left behind struggling to get a decent pace going on the wet cobbles and leaves.

I get to the bottom and soon I am beginning the first major ascent a brutal climb of around 700ft to the top of the moors. On the climb I find some decent form at last and manage to keep the other runners in sight for a change!
At the top of the moors the landscape changes.

We go from paths covered in leaves and mud to a vast open expense of snow covered moorland. There is a trig point for us to aim for but the paths have disappeared under the snow and it is easy to take a wrong path as we find out a couple of times!

It is at once stunningly beautiful with a raw harshness and you know you could easily take a wrong turn or twist an ankle and nature would chew you up and leave you in no doubt who was in charge.

The only paths to follow are the occasional trail that pokes through the snow or the stream that run down to the valley below. After five minutes my feet have turned to blocks of ice. I have no feeling below my ankles, every step feels like I am running on bricks, jarring my shins and making it difficult to run. This is a new experience for me and one I may need to get used to.

Strange thoughts go through my mind, will I ever regain any feeling in my feet? Will they turn black? Will they fall off? Can I run 21 miles with this feeling in my feet if I need to?

This lack of feeling in my feet continues for around four miles. It’s a massive relief when we finally start to come off the moors and see green fields and know I will be warm again.

After another downhill on which I again struggle embarrassingly the final climb comes into view and I find my stride and manage to save some face.

All in all it’s been a very good days running with new running friends and a new route too. I’ve learnt a lot about myself, where I am strong and where I need to improve, but most of all despite struggling on the downhills and thinking my feet were going to drop off because they were so cold I’ve really enjoyed myself and hope to do it again soon.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Last Thursday I went for my longest run since the Yorkshireman Half a 14-mile run over Haworth and Stanbury Moors. I’ve decided to up my mileage now so that I have plenty of rest days and time to taper nearer the race.

I set off from Penistone Country Park on a typical November day, wet, cold, and windy perfect weather for training in! Setting off on the Withens Skyline route it was business as usual, mud, mud, and more mud! It’s a steep climb up to the top of the moors but you are rewarded with some stunning views before setting down the Pennine Way towards Walshaw Dean reservoirs.

The sky was dark grey and the atmosphere around the reservoirs bleak and foreboding. I felt as if I was the only person alive around here if not in the whole world! Places like this can be very scary sometimes! After finding a new hill to run up and down and then running around the reservoirs I saw a path splitting the hills at the top of the reservoirs and decided to take a chance and see where it went.

After about half a mile I found out. Going left I knew it would send me off course so I took a chance, went right and up a steep hill with no path and a lot of long grass to get through! At this point I wasn’t too sure where I was but sensed I was heading in the right direction to get home.

After ten minutes or so I began to see get near the top of the hill and saw some familiar views which was reassuring. As I crested the hill the Top Withens house came into view and while I still had a way to go to get to the Pennine Way I knew I wasn’t far away now.

Once on the Pennine way it was the well-trodden path back to Penistone Park. Arriving back at the park my Garmin told me I had done 12.5 miles so I decided to go the long way back to my car to make it up to 13.1 and get a nice half marathon distance in the bag for the day. I ended up doing 14 miles in the end so managed to get another mile in due to my ability to miscalculate distance!

It was a very good day training out on the moors. Some decent mileage in, plenty of running through mud and bogs and nice climbs too. Not every run will be like this, most will be a lot tougher but it’s always a good feeling to get a good training run under your belt.

Ben Mounsey on keeping running through the cold, winter months. Keep running and reap the rewards in the spring and summer.

The secret fell running diary of Ben Mounsey aged 38 and 1/4


As a runner, it’s the time of year you’ve probably been dreading. The clocks go back, the light begins to fade and the weather is inevitably on the turn. Summer is nothing but a distant memory and it becomes increasingly harder to find any kind of motivation to train. But fear not, help is at hand!

Here are my top tips for surviving the winter and embracing the cold…

dont-make-excusesIt’s ok. I get it. You’ve just finished work and you’re absolutely shattered. It was dark when you left the house this morning and it’s dark now as you’re leaving the office. It feels like you haven’t felt the sun on your face for months and it’s cold outside, really cold. When you open your front door the only thing on your mind is settling down on the sofa in front of a warm fire, whilst watching television and eating…

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body crying in pain
for this torture to stop
mind says no, go, go
through the searing
burning feeling deep
inside strong muscles
the finish line
is in sight and one
final lunge of the body
and you are over
the finishing line at last

Rachel Cullen blogs about running and romance

Why this runner loves the LDWA…

Posted: November 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Excellent blog on the virtues of LDWA events for runners

lizzie running

It may seem a little odd for a keen runner to be extolling the virtues of a walking organisation; however, I feel every long distance runner could benefit from a little bit of the Long Distance Walkers Association (or LDWA) in their life. Although set up as an organisation for walkers, the LDWA welcomes runners at its Challenge Events, which generally range from 20 to 100 miles and take place throughout the UK. These events normally involve following a description of the route to navigate your way through the glorious British countryside, with regular checkpoints (every 5 miles or so) providing the opportunity for rest and refreshments. Here are 10 reasons why I think every runner should give an LDWA event a try:

  1. The Friendly Atmosphere

    LDWA events often operate staggered starts; you simply turn up, get yourself organised and head off once you are ready. There is a strong…

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Went for a run round the block and tried some slow sprints on Old Guy Road. Nothing in the tank and didn’t enjoy it. Hard work today but you have to take the bad days to appreciate the good ones. Still I’ve got my first sprint session out of the way and I’m hoping they’ll get easier and faster in the future.

But every cloud has a silver lining. A friend texts me to say that whilst the run might not be fast my times for miles are quite consistent. This puts a different light on my run and I feel a lot happier about it now. I’ve got a nice little route to train on for speed and I’ve set myself a decent benchmark. This will be hard work but I can do it and get faster.