Sunday, 16 January 2011

I won a competition....

I couldn't believe it - just before Christmas I got an email from Claire at Trail Running Magazine saying I had won the competition they had put on Facebook - I never win anything - how cool was this. I had won some Inov8 trainers and some Montane clothing. Excellent news - couldn't wait for my extra parcel this Christmas. When it all arrived I was feeling rubbish and ill with the flu so it took a while before their first trip out. First test was the shoes up on muddy Bradwell (Hope Valley) edge, well the path that gets you up there is extremely muddy most of the year let alone afer snow melt! I fiddled a bit with the laces as i like them "my way" and eventually got the fit i wanted and off i plodded, they worked well in the mud - well they should do really they are Inov8's after all. I was given the Roclites3.6 so they have a bit of cushioning and a good fell tread - perfect for my style of running (sorry plodding!). My next trip out was on a 3 hour trip from Edale to Hathersage.
So - picking the shoes - I went for the Inov8's - I have many shoes to pick from and these now needed to see if they could join the crowd of them to pick up when needed - they needed to feel good for 3 hours or more for my running! They felt right for the job even in the kitchen!
Then it was find the jacket amoungst the ski tops and bike tops hanging up...

And then off to the train and into Edale. The rain that was forecast was nowhere to be seen so we plodded on up to Ringing Roger on the edge of Kinder and turned right to be blown straight back again - the wind was definately up!!!
The run was supperb, we ran along the edge for a while till dropping down to the stoney tracks of Hope Cross area and then on the grassy forest edge up to Win Hill, the weather turned and the rain and the mist and the wind turned up in force but luckily we were going in the right direction and got a bit of a push from the wind! I thought about putting a waterproof on but the jacket - the Montane Marathon has a DWR finish and was beeding up well so no water getting in yet! Phew - i hate running in a waterproof - windproofs are soooo much better. next up was a good muddy steep descent into Bamford and then up onto Bamford Edge through spooky wood!. The wind was side on up here and kept trying to push us into the heather - we held up and eventually came off the edge and down into Hathersage. What a great day. Thanks Hills for sorting it out and getting me out on the hills in my great new kit. Am now a fan of Inov8 and Montane....
So no blisters and they were comfy on all the terrain, even the slippery wet rocks and the jacket performed really well and unusually for me as am very tall I could stuff my hands in the sleeves when my fingers got cold - it is a good jacket and really lightweight so will be in every kit list!!!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Adidas Terrex

Here's my race from the beginning, including the drama, the tears, the smiles, the hard push, the feeding, the weather and the chaffing!!!

I was quite stressed running up to the Terrex with one of my jobs testing me to the full, so I was actually quite pleased once I had packed (the cat wanted to join me!) and started the drive up to keswick. I was supposed to be there Wednesday evening but finally got there Thursday lunch time, just in time to watch the boys finish marking up the maps and then registering at the Planet Fear shop, picking up last minute kit and re-packing my stuff into the Haglof's tranistion bag.

The prologue started at 7.30pm and was a relay. I was to do the run/swim leg. I am not a sprinter by any means of the word so the run out to the lake was a little fast for me and I got over taken but kept my position in the water (just) and dragged my soggly body back into the changeover. The whole prologue only took us 1 hour and 12 minutes and the winners took an hour so we had to trebble our time difference to find out how long we had to have in a "time out" section half way through day one of the main event. Next was a pub meal and early to bed as we had to be at 4am.

My alarm did not go off and I was woken at 4.30am, so now only had 15 minutes to dress and get a coffee and make sure I had my water bottles filled and kit ready to go. Luckily kit was done the night before, I missed the coffee, dressed and ran (well jogged) to the bus in town that was to take us to the start. I had forgotton to fill the water bottles.

THE START - Moorcombe Bay - we were gonna run across it, round it and through the sand, and sea for 25km. I pannicked. I cannot run on the flat and hate running on beaches, not a good start! Paul didn't believe me (he thought everyone can run, especially on the flat!). No - I avoid tarmac and flat running like the plague, it hurts my hips from about 10 minutes in, this was gonna hurt big time! We were told to run out to sea till we saw some laurel bushes and to follow them, I had no idea what to look for on this bleak landscape of muddy sand and shallow water, but sure enough we came across some laurel bushes (well more like twigs!), do they grow there? Or does this "Queens Guide" plant them (we were told a "Queens Guide" was on hand to guide us through the quicksand). Anyway, we plodded on at my rather painfull slow plod. poor Paul was going out of this head with panic at my speed, I was going too slow for him to cope with, he kept counting teams behind us and telling me we were nearly last. Not a great way to start a three day race so i told him to stop being so negative and live with my speed as it will get me to the end and in two days time I will still be going at this speed and not to worry. He went off to take some photos and we all calmed down and settled into my pace!! We eventually got to the transition after about 3 hours of plodding and now had to sit down and serve out 36 minute time penalty. excellent. we had a few sarnies and cups of tea and a team chat and got on the bikes (at last!) for satge two - an epic ride that turned out to be about 15 hours!

STAGE TWO: BIKING: After a few hours I started feeling very unwell, I felt so bad, why did i feel this bad 6 hours or so into a race, I hadn't gone off too fast, i'd eaten, drank, it must have been the sand!!! Alex pushed me up the hills (why was i so bad on the bike - my best discipline - agh!). We (well the boys) had to make some new descisions based on our new slow speed to cut out a few tacticle checkpoints so that we got to transitions in good time and not try and do the whole course and chase cut offs - we were too slow. I of course went into my usual downward spiral of blaming myself for letting the team down. I moaned, cried and moaned some more all the way round a run orienteer section that was tussocks from hell and alot further than I was promised!!! My tummy was so bad i had to hold it whilst walking (couldn't run) but we eventually got through this run from hell in the tussocks from hell, whist cursing the event planner!!! We then went to a pub for a much needed toilet stop for me and a drink and some crisps to plan our next move. We biked some more and I stopped eating my home made cake - it worked, my tummy started to feel better, i perked up, smiled, joked, biked better - the cake was under cooked - what a plank i was - should have stuck to sarnies!

STAGE THREE: KAYAK:We had a fantastic stage three - in the boats on coniston with a moon, flat mill pond waters and stars, we needed no lights, just the eerie glow of glow sticks on our boats as we sped up the lake. We overtook loads of boats, this was a boost, we loved our stelth boats and we all felt good at last. Smiles all round.

STAGE FOUR: RUNNING - the run was over Furness Fells and none of us had been here before and it looked like a short hop to the next stage - oh how wrong we were - gorse, rough wet tussocks, night time nav errors and nearly an hour to find the first check point - but then again most of the field seemed to be up here doing the same headless chicken act as us! We found it eventually and found a good track off the hills, had a 10 minute power knap in he woods and got to the next transition in good spitits even though it had started to rain. This transition had some tents with mattresses in, a toaster and cups of tea, heaven, we went for breaky and short sleep. We all passed out immediately and enjoyed an hour of heaven in the dry tents.

STAGE FIVE: Kayaking on Windermere: this was a long one, we worked it out to be 33 km of kayaking or was it miles - either way - a long way with only a few nodding dog sleepy moments - so hard to stay awake when sitting down! Wine gums got us through with a few pro plus tabs to boost the heart rate to above sleep levels! It rained like a monsoon on and off all the way up Windermere, but we were warm and feeling good.

STAGE SIX: A short and easy bike ride, except we had a minor hicup in the middle when Paul stopped for a "comfort break", I waited at the next junction to let him know we were turning right, I saw him coming up the hill and he acknowledged me and the right hand turn so i sped off, forgetting to stop at the next junction cos I thought he was right behind me, oops - I went back for him (he'd gone the wrong way but realised and came back) so we went on and at the next junction there was no sign of the other two and Paul and I had no map or any clues as to which way they went. Paul hunted through his bag and found one of the other maps with just a bit of this section on it and we worked out we had to turn right just as loads of teams turned up and turned right - we found the other two at the next junction - I had a teddy's out the cot moment and told them off for leaving us, completely fogetting that I had infact just done the same to Paul moments before. we all forgot about it quickly and carried on feeling fit and fast on the bikes and ready for the next big mountain stage!

STAGE SEVEN: A quick change just before the rain started and we were off onto the Langdale Fells for a spot of scrambling and a long night section. We went up Easy Gulley instead of Jakes Rake as it was changed at last minute and then out onto the fells, following a bit of BG routes and picking up our chosen control points, we were going to do a shortened version and get to the abseil somewhere near Scarfel Pike in good time to get off the fells about midnight. The scrambling and running was fantastic, I felt great and my running was going really well. Alex was still able to tow me up the uphills to keep our speed a constant steady one, we were all eating and drinking well and having a great time, we were nearing half way through the event. As dusk fell on us at the base of a massive gulley and scramble that eventually bought us out on Scarfell Pike. I have no idea where we were as I never saw the map! A very wiered experience and am not sure I like not knowing where I am and where I am going. Especially as the clag rolled in, the wind picked up to gale force and the rain was again monsoon like. Just as we were clambering over the boulders on Scarfell Pike, Mick commented on his health. He was having trouble seeing through one of his eyes, it had all gone blurry and he could not define where he was putting his feet. We decided this was a bad way to be and we should not be dragging him over rocks and boulders where he was slipping over alot so we headed straight for the path off and down to Langdale. Unfortunately this took a very long time, trying to spot cairns in the bad weather, keep Mick up right and in good spritis (which must have been hard for him with his eye sight shutting down and having no idea why!), we were moving so slowly by now we were all frozen and wearing everything we owned. I was scared of our situation so I think Mick must have been petrified. About 3 hours later we ran into transition at the pub (which was shut!) to find the place teaming with people trying to sleep in bivi bags in the pooring rain. There was no space at the inn so we bedded down in our bivi just outside the toilets, froze for half an hour before Alex and Paul got up and went to find somewhere for Mick, they put him in a support van with the heating on. They then spent the next hour trying to persuade me that my bivi in a puddle was not the best place for me, i was going hypohermic and I then got put in the van to recover too. At day break the medics looked at Mick and in the end the descision was made to pull him from the race to go to hospital, he had green gunk coming out of his eyes. he was gutted and a broken man, I felt so bad for him I couldn't hold the tears back.

STAGE EIGHT: We silently packed our bags and got on our bikes with a last hug for Mick and went out into the pooring rain and cycled to Ambleside to find a cafe and think about what to do next.

CAFE: wow this was a good idea, the bacon and egg sarnie and capucino was heaven. Alex had a slight co-odination problem and tipped his full english all over his lap. The owner took one look at us and bought him out another one free of charge. How nice are people just when you need it.

An hour later the sun had come out and we had the daunting prospect of cycling up Kirkstone Pass on the famous road climb "The Struggle". To be honest I thought it would beat me, bash me, ruin me and throw me onto the tarmac, but there was a film crew half way up and I stormed it - no dibs down and just span it out all the way to the top with a head wind. And it it didn't even warm me up much. We were so unable to generate heat in our bodies by now that sweating was a thing of the past! The Struggle is so much easier on a mountain bike, I had only ever been up it on my road bike. I loved it, I was on a high and I felt good. next up was a long roady ride to Pooley Bridge (we had cut this section short to miss out going over High Street in a massive head wind).

STAGE NINE: At Pooley bridge we found Alex's wife and kids, sun and food from a farmrs market. Excellent! Apart from the fact that we now had a small problem of two, two person kayaks and only thee of us! We had to wait for a team who also had gone down to three people so we could combine our resourses and paddle as a three boat possy. team May Contain Nuts were the unfortunate victoms and we spent a few confusing minutes trying to work out what to do. Their team member would paddle if they needed him, Alex would paddle if we needed him but was going to pull out of the event (very dissapointing as it flet like our team had given up) and Paul suddlenly decided he didn't want to paddle a necky boat and pulled too. I was suddenly Team haglof Uk all by myself. I joined May Contain Nuts and we formed "May Contain Haglofs". we used our Tahe Marine boats (the boats all teams seemed to like as they were such good looking boats), I teamed up with Maria and the two Matts went in the other. I said good bye to haglofs and got on with my race - I needed to finish this thing I had started if it was going to kill me. Alex, Paul and Mick may have got me through the first two days but I now needed to get through the next two with people I did not know and who did not know me. Very wiered changing teams, learning new dynamics, changing their dynamics and fitting in. Maria and I got on very well from the start, although she was so cold from lack of sleep (they had probably only had an hour and a half since the start), when we got to Patterdale at the end of the lake after being blown there by a supperb tail wind she was so cold a marshal had to give her a fleece to wear. We had a confusing time in transition as no one could get our dibbers to swap into new team and we lost all our points from the last section in the confusion, so the marshals had to add them on manually later. we eventually left.

STAGE TEN: Running up and over Helvelyn via Swiral Edge, into a fierce headwind but thankfully dry. We plodded up here with Team York Mountaineering and night three started to close in as we came off Raise. The veiws were so vast and clear from the storm clearing all the clouds and hase away we didn't use head torches untill about 10pm. Another magic run and I felt stronger and stronger as the run went on, I felt on fire, so different from the first day when I could hardly move forwards. Why do I get better the longer these things go on? Mind you by the next transition I was ready for a hug and luckily we bumbed into a mate who obliged. What a buzz seeing friends, thank you Mike for the hug - it worked. well along with a bit of tea urn hugging. I had now perfected the art of urn hugging to warm up - the organiser james decided I had a fettish for urns, well maybe I do now - they are good hand warmers and they make tea!!

STAGE ELEVEN: More biking. This time I decided two pairs of cycle shorts would be needed, it was cold, i was frozen (apart from my toasty warm hands) and i didn't need to sit on a bike for another minute let alone another few hours! We cycled off on a very nice track but poor Maria was having her bad moment and could not cycle properly for it, the boys were also so tired that they couldn't cope with her moment and it all got a bit tense. I decided not to add my input as I was the outsider along for the ride and they needed to sort this themselves, this was a hard thing to watch and I am so glad it did not happen in my team. Eventaully they all decided that bitching about it was the way forward, it was even more difficult now and for the next few hours the boys blamed Maria for ruining their race and Maria went from bad to worse so we headed for the last transition and a sleep. We unfortunately beat our transition bags there so we had a freezing cold sit in our survival bags with a little help from the marshals who felt sorry for us not having our kit with us, we got tea and coffee and cheese on bread sticks. How nice were they. A few hugs from them and a sleep of about an hour and a half and we woke the boys at 4.30 am to set off for the orienteering.

STAGE TWELVE: The boys were still a little angry and irrational so i stuck my oar in and said that a few positives in the chat may go a long way so after a couple of mnutes of sulking and then alot of going wrong on finding the first check point and we all started laughing and smiling again - phew - I can deal with smiling and laughing alot better! And we were so close to the finish. Eventually we found (well the boys found) all the check points and we all cheered up.

LAST STAGE: back to the transition and onto Canadian Canoes and a gentle (you can never seam to race a candian canoe on flat water!!!) around Derwnt water in the morning mist with the sun rising and ever warming us into an hysterical paddle for all of us. We all went completely doolally, not being able to string a sentance together or even remember our own names, we were so happy and laughed alot at everything and everyone around us - we were gonna finish this race!

We landed the baots after about 2 hours of paddling and ran through Keswick to finish all holding hands and hugging at Moot Hall.

Alex was there to meet me. We got a finishing medal and more improtantly a bottle of bubbly. I drank alot of this - mainly to ensure I did not get into my car and try and drive! I drank 3/4 of the bottle before I managed to pull myself away from the finish line and get to a shower and back for lunch with haglofs and the prize giving. I spent the evening in the pub with lots of teams and marshals - a perfect ending to a fantastic event.

So - thank you Haglofs for believing I could do this, thank you Alex, Paul and Mick for helping me get through this (next time I would love to finish the race with you as I think we make a good team and a very well balanced one - even with me in it!!) and thank you Bruce (course palnner) and James (the guy who made it all happen!), all the marshals for their smiles, hugs, tea and support, it goes a long way and I hope I looked like I appreciated it at the time, cos I sure did. Also a big thank you to Team May Contain Nuts (Maria, Matt and Matt) for letting me join them and continue my quest to bury the dissapointment of Mick's unfortunate early retiral and from a few years ago to bury the demon of not finishing one of these events in Scotland - i have now completed an epedition race and I have swollen ankles to show for it!

You can see all the videos HERE

Monday, 26 July 2010


OPEN12 - To start with I forgot to write all about how we (Team Haglof's Alex Pilkington and Me) did in the Open12 a few weeks ago - I thought the night before as I was in my van looking for my sports bra (oops forgot it!) that it was a bad omen - how can a girl run without a sports bra - thoughts of texting for one to be bought by someone else went out the window as there was no coverage so I though right - duck tape - no thanks - running holding onto my boobs - umm bit difficult - use my normal bra and tighten it as much as possible and hope for the best! It worked - we had a great weekend of sun, swimming, running, abseiling, camping, mountain biking, diving underwater, canyoning and no hurty boobs (was a bit soggy still sleeping in it over night but at least it dried off in the sleeping bag!) - result! We came 5th in the mixed and 9th overall so were very pleased with ourselves. I lost 1/2 a stone over the weekend - must drink more water!!!
OPEN24 - so was it good training (the open12) for the open24 - yep apart from the weather. Team Haglof's (all four of us) took Friday off and went to north Wales for a few hours sea paddling the day before the race. Mainly to try our boats in some rough water and waves etc - the weather was like being in the med, sun and flat water. We paddled from a sea side cafe near Conwy and saw dolphins (porpoises) and seals, it was like being on holiday and we were all expecting this weather the next day for the start of the race. NO - it was pants weather! The sea kayaking was cancelled and another sea akyak section was added (Menai Straights) but we were bussed off to Anglesea for the prologue of an open water swim and some coasteering.... This was coasteering with jelly fish - loads of them! I had short sleeves and pannicked everytime I touched one - they are worse than seaweed on flesh!

We also got a lift in a large RIB boat through some massive waves to the start - what a roller coaster ride that was at the front of the boat....

The start was changed to a bike ride with a short run in the middle of it. My legs were back and I felt good. We then got to play in our boats in the Menai Straights, with a battle against tide and wind to start with but then turned round for a supperb surfing paddle all the way to Menai Bridge before a slightly better battle back against the tide to Port Dinorwick for another biking section. Poor Alex wasn't feeling so good (must have been all the sea water he swallowed) so I did quite a bit of the navigating on the bike but we finished with a massive uphill to Ogwen Cottage at the top of Llannberris Pass - just to kill our legs off before the night stage over the Glyders.

After not eating and drinking enough on the Open12 I had some new sarnies, a mate had suggested banana and peanut butter, umm these work for me - loved them. My other race favourites were the cheese and home made pickle and parma ham with cheese. I managed to eat and drink really well.

We thought we had picked a good route - untill we saw the path - or should it be a pile of rocks - we wasted alot of time clambering and scrambling and we couldn't find one check point of 15 points. Poor Alex did a big fall at one point and I thought he'd hurt himself badly but luckily there was just a few scrapes - phew - that would have been a major rescue.

We must have wasted alot of time on that section and by the time we got back to some better running ground we were exhausted but hooked up with mates Emma and Dave who had done something equally as rubbish as us and we all got back to transision about 9 mins late - loosing 18 points (all because we were looking for a 15 point checkpoint!!!!)

Next was another short bike ride, my legs stopped working here as it was early morning and I kept falling asleep, same on the next run too but got woken up by the time we got to a special stage in a mine - we had to nav down a stream, then we were let loose to look for checkpoints in a whole section of tunnels and caves, then we had to get in an inflatable before more wading to get out - it was excellent....

Then we were onto our last biking section (with a special stage of some orienteering in the middle of it). My eyes kept shutting and I kept falling off my bike going up hill as I kept falling asleep. Loads of people overtook us - not fair - am not used to that so much on my bike! We did ok when we got onto singletrack (lots of the checkpoints were on the the Marin trail at Coaed y Brenin - this woke me up and I loved the riding - happy again - but as soon as I hit a fire road uphill again I would fall asleep and loose all power in my legs - eventually i ate some jelly babies and this did it - i was back, we plodded round the short orienteering route and then flew back down to the finish (we should have done the medium course as we had about 10 or 15 mins spare - bu*ger) - we came 5th and were only 15 points behind the team that were 4th - bu*ger!
We were extremely pleased though - and I have learn't to eat jelly babies earlier!!! Although as I said earlier the sarnies were wonderfull and as I liked the taste of my food for a change i ate well - just need to sort this falling asleep on boring uphills on bike bit now!!!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Karen Alex Try a Bob Graham.......

We didn't make it - boo - but we both have a storey to tell!!!
Prep - we thought we were prepared - we had rece'd alot and helped on other attempts and been given out good luck cakes (thank you Karen Davison and Janet McIver)

Leg One - well before that - there was sooo much traffic on M6 we (me Alex and Paul) thought we were gonna have to change the start time. Luckily it all went smoothly and we picked Britta (Fellrunner and editor) and Ben (brittas boyfriend and superhuman runner) up at Dunmail and got to Keswick with 30 mins to spare - time for a few nervous toilet visits and a few photos and we were off. I was on such a high - everyone had said that by the time you get to Moot Hall for the start you should be bursting to run - I was - and the others had to keep reigning me in - i was far too enthusiastic but Britta kept me in check. Hillary bloor met us in the car park at the start of Skiddaw for a big cheer and a hug then Paul was further up the hill and we made good time up Skiddaw, the air was still warm and it was fantastic running with people carrying your stuff, feeding you every half hour and watering you every 15 mins. Ben opened gates and mended trekking poles and ran ahead to check things out - Support is great - i love it!!! We got to Threlkeld about 10 mins up and found our next crew plus a load of Macc Harriers waiting for some Stockport Runners. Paul Farmer (Alex's fiance) was there with our kit and food, yummy pasta and a cuppa coffee for me followed with some of Janets special coffee and choc and rum cake.

Leg 2 - Alex Pilkington and Paul Baker then joined us, Alex is part of my Adventure Racing Team (Team Haglofs)but we had never raced or run together before - i was keen to make a good impression as we were to be doing a four day event in August. Paul was a friend of Alex's who'd done a few rece's with her last year. Alex P knew the leg well and we had pulled him in on this leg late on thursday evening when we found out our navigator for leg 2 couldn't make it! Alex was gonna start at Dunmail with us. So thank you Alex for a rather late change of plan and for such a supperb piece of navigating us round the Dodds and onwards. We both still felt great and made good time on all our hills keeping to schedule. But just after Helvellyn I started slowing and feeling a bit yuk and not eating much, well i could put the food in my mouth but it sort of stayed there - i couldn't chew or swallow and by Fairfield i was in a right state - I hate Fairfield - it was sooo hard getting up that. Britta coaxed me up Seat Sandal and i felt a bit better going down to Dunmail. More food - i was fine - eating more pasta and changing some clothing, more coffee and some people to join us. Britta and Ben went home from here - thank you both for such wonderfull support.
Leg 3 - Paul Vousden and Mick Kenyon (both Team Haglof's) and Swatts (Stephen Watts - fellow Macc Harrier) joined us here and we plodded up Steel Fell. I gradually got slower as we made a descision to go up High raise before sergeant man and came off it wrong and started to slow down (well i did - but Alex was storming along and encouraging me), I kept telling Alex to start running her own BG and not keep waiting for me - we had enough support. By Rossett Pile she did just that as Stu Walker turned up with more water for us - we had a kit, water and food shuffle and I carried on with Alex P, Mick and Stu while Paul and Swatts ran on with Alex (who just bounced off into the distance like a real runner) - I plodded on behind getting more and more demoralised and sickly and felt really horrible. I felt like lead and couldn't eat or drink or smile. i swore alot and hated this leg with soo much passion I swore I would pull out at wasdale and never attempt it again. I even considered going off the hill earlier. The boys kept me going and ignored my whaling, tears, swearing and moaning and eventually after a minor breakdown on Scafell Pike I got to Broad Stand and found paul Farmer there with ropes and a camera - i found a smile and then loved the climb up broad stand and cheered up (mainly cos I knew I was gonna give up and get in a car at wasdale.
Wasdale - no one let me give up - Rachael and David Lawrance were there and they fed me bacon sarnies and tea (apparently they had fed bacon sarnies to alot of people and gone hrough 25 rasheds of bacon!), they found my clothes, packed me and my supporters off and sent me up Yewbarrow - apparently i was carrying on!
Leg 4 - God it sounds so short when you write about it - it is not short, it is not easy and at this point I wanted to die! but i picked up a bit and got up yewbarrow in good time. We had no navigator at this point but Mick had done this leg years ago and David and Stu got their maps out - luckily after a bit of search by David on top of Yewbarrow we found the top and then i discovered my new found eating plan - I can eat as long as I stop - or sit down - as long as I am not moving I can eat - luckily David had a rucksack full of cheese and pickle sarnies. And I remembered all the tracks and lines on all the hills - phew!
I had lots of sit downs for food and moaning but spirits started to get higher as i slowed down and started to recover - i knew I wasn't gonna make it and I had to crawl up some of the up hills as hands and feet were slightly more stable!!! I even made up a new website - "The Failed BGR" - people who have tried and failed can register their attempts, write a report, get a certificate it looks just the same apart form a big red FAILED on it!). Mick spent most of this leg persuding me to carry on at honnister as it would be good for me to complete it is one go. I knew he was right as this would mean that I then would never have to do it again - complete it - even outsie the 24 hours and i could walk away - but I had no energy or drive and I wanted to cry! The chatting and walking cheered me up though and I even ran down the last hill into Honnister and got into the car park and surprised everyone by announcing i was carrying on!
Surprised looks - they all thought I was bonkers - maybe I was - poor Alex had just pulled out so i asked her if I was bonkers - she said yes but do it - it will be good for my head. I felt great so I asked if anyone wanted to join me - no-one did so after tommy soup I put a rucksack on and took off by myself! BONKERS - DEFINATELY!
Leg 5 - i felt great - I stormed (slowly) up Dale Head and took the camera out for self timed top pictures then spent ages phoning people and texting and telling everyone I was bonkers - but at least I was happy and not in a car thinking i should have carried on - phew - it was good for me. The midges were not good for me - the phone calls were good for me - people telling me I was bonkers was good for me. The run (yes run) off Robinson was great apart from now my feet hurt and started to get blisters, i tried to run the road bit but started phoning and texting again - i was soooo proud of myself for carrying on i wanted to cry - and for a change I didn't - the emmotional wreck was behind me and I was gonna make it.
I did make it - in 27 hours and 54 minutes. I even beat my mates Racheal and David to Moot Hall - got the pix and got in the van to meet up with Karen, Janet and Mike in Cockermouth for a raher lovely shower, a bbq and at last some wine - apparently i rambled on and on - on a complete high till midnight then slept like a baby in a really comfy bed - I was sooo happy
I write this on Tuesday and I am still on a high - what a great day in the hills (I have forgotton the bad bits already!)
Thank you to all the supporters and Alex promses to have another go in September, I have said I will do road support!!!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Ski Mountaineering

Wow what an ace trip me and Alex had. Last year we ski toured the Haute Route as our second trip without a guide and the trip went really well, lots of bad weather and challenging navigation and some superb skiing as we took a variation a little higher and longer than the "normal" route. But the weather caught up with us on the last day and we got stormed off at the Vignettes Hut with only one long day left to go to Zermatt. So we abandoned and ski'd the powder down to Arolla. So this year we needed to finish off last years goal and find a new one - i had been hatching a plan to climb Mont Blanc and ski off it - the plan was now a goal.

We got up early in Chamonix and drove over to Switzerland, dropping the car off at Visp and catching a bus up to Arolla, we then sunk a strong coffee and started uphill - a lot of uphill and eventually through searing sun we made it to the Vignettes Hut at 3100m (or just above!). Bit of a gamble as coming from sea level up to 3000m to sleep in 24 hours is not usual! We actually felt fine and we drank wine and slept really well. next day the start was an early 6am start as it was a long day with avalanche risk and three big cols to go over. We powered up the first one, overtook a few groups (bit strange as they were acclimatised and we definitely weren't - but maybe they were knackered after a week of skiing!), the views were excellent, the sun was out, it was t-shirt weather and it was great. next 3000m col was under the belt and we still felt good on the steep climbs but by the time we got to the last one (about half way up it at about 3200m) Alex suddenly turned round and said - you've slowed down - umm - yes I feel like shite - she did too - groups passed us again and we plodded on to the col at 3500m, took a picture with the Matterhorn in the background and shot off for lower climes!!! The downhill was long and we passed slopes prone to avalanche as quickly as we could as the temperatures just got hotter and hotter, the snow turned to deep slush and and twisty turny trees and eventually we hit a track that took us to our wine in a bar - we had finally finished the Haute Route - it took us a year not a week! Next day we climbed up the Breithorn (4165m) feeling a little slow with hurty feet but the sun was out and the ski off was great - bits of hard pack icy stuff, snow crystals, powder, spring snow and slush - excellent fun.

Next we went back to Chamonix for a good nights sleep and a look at the forcast, the weather was settled for the next two days, so we set off up to the Cosmique Hut near the Aguille du Midi lift at 3613m for an acclimatisation night.

We met a bloke who was gonna climb a

big gully the nex

t day then climb Mont Blanc

solo the next day, we were gonna ski Valley Blanche in the morning then back to Cosmique Hut and up Mon

t Blanc the same day as him, so we joined up and attached a plan to go together. Alex and I watched a big rescue going on near the hut on our route over breaky, bit scary (ok a lot scarey), but we had a good look at the route through the seracs with the bino's and gulped and set off down valley Blanche about an hour too early - it was

bolier plate re frozen crud and slush - umm how pleasant - the last little bit became nice to ski so we should have waited a bit for the snow to soften - oh well - it was good for our combat skiing!

Down into Chamonix for lunch and a shower (luxury!) and back late afternoon for the Cosmique Hut again, we met up with Nick at the lift station. The hut was crowded and we opted for the 1am breaky - god - how was I gonna get up for that - simples - I hardly slept - Alex and I were in the top tier of the 3 layer bunk room - it was like an ice climb just getting up there and people faffed, used their mobiles and snored all night - so i was wide awake and raring to go by 1am. breaky was yummy home made bread, the weather was quite warm and the uphill started. We roped up when we got near the seracs where the rescue had been and found a way through

the blocks, powered on up the next skiing slope to another crampon bit as the sun came up at the start of the Col du Mont Maudi section (there is a fixed rope here for the skiers to come down so you can tell how steep it felt!) we were loving it, feeling good and enjoyin

g the climb. we topped out over the col and saw the rest of the route, blimey that looked a long way and it took forever - i was rather knackered and had no oxygen and went quiet - unusual for me - bet the other two were quietly pleased with that result! Another few hours on we crouched just below the summit to put some more kit on and then piled on over the gently rise to the summit ridge - superb - we'd done it, we had fantastic views and an awful lot of people to climb around - it was like the M1 on a bank holiday!!! We texted all the important people and set off in crampons down North Ridge - we were doing a traverse of Mont Blanc so not going down the same way we came up. We got to the Vallot Hut about an hour later and had alot of chocolate, a rest and ut our ski's on for the downhill. Superb snow through scary seracs, blocks the size of houses or hotel ready to tumble and crevasses with bridges that looked a little unstable - we went through some new avalanche debris from 2 weeks ago (we had surveyed this online and seen photos so knew we had to get through it quickly), the bridges were very weak over the crevasses and holes between the blocks so we pushed on and forgot the camera for a bit. Then came a few more climbs as it was re-routed due to the debris and suddenly after 11 and a half hours we were back at the half way station of the Aguilles du Midi lift, we quickly found the cafĂ© and got the drinks in to celebrate – we had climbed Mont Blanc, ski’d Mont Blanc and were safely back down the hill. Did you know that the record for climbing Mont Blanc is set by a runner at 5 hours 14 minutes and 10secs and it si done from the middle of Chamonix! – Bloomin impossible!

We spent that evening having bubbly, the next evening having bubbly and the next evening having wine! Excellent - oh year and we did a bit of rock climbing and some walking and some running, the weather turned pants so we came home early having achieved all our goals!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Descisions Descisions...

I couldn't decide what to do - several phone calls later and no-one decided for me I went for pulling out of Calderdale Hike to save my legs for a BG recce next weekend, take photos for Runfurther around the event and then do the Dark & White Peak Traiquest on the Sunday. I have been trying to have a blast at my biking to get my legs back into biking. I did a roady ride last saturday, then the Open 5 on the monday (running and biking) and then a 6 hour fast ride on wednesday and then this trailquest today (sunday) and today i finally felt like my biker legs were back (so now i have to keep both the running and biking legs going!). Oh and I came first too - also beat all the girls in the other categories too - am feeling pretty chuffed. Was also 29th out of 132 riders - yippeeeee
I feel like my legs want to ride hard again and not hurt. I was very disturbed with my biking over the last few years as my legs were never quite what they used to be on a bike as I was doing so much running - now I want both and I want both to be feeling good! - i don't ask for much do i! Well as I have been asked to join Team Haglof's for a big four day adventure race in August - i am trying to be as good as I can get for them! See our Team Haglof Pages HERE

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Easter & Open 5 Weekend.....

Well Easter had the promise of rain, gales, snow and wind - pooh! So I planned not alot and got - well some fantastic weather and some great activities. Friday was a bit pants on the weather front so did some DIY - well I made a picture frame for my Ama dablam photos and then found a friend who needed a roady ride on Saturday - we set off thinking it's gonna rain - but it didn't - phew - I needed a good ride to push me and Steve was fast enough to pull me round so i showed him a cultural tour of the peaks by the road (not my usual off road stuff but good), we went through Chatsworth, Haddon and Thornbridge hall estates and it didn't rain - phew. Next was a meal and too uch wine at a friend's house up the road and the morning bought gorgeous weather again - so of course the hills beckoned and off I set on an Easter Run out the back of the house up Bradwell Edge. I knew I had to save my legs for the race on monday but the sun was out! I decided to drive to Ruthin for the Open 5 in the morning as the forcast was for rain overnight and my van is quite noisy to sleep in in the rain, so an early night and an early morning. The clouds looked big and black as I got near Ruthin and then i saw the hills, oh i remember these hills - they are quite big - umm maybe should have saved my legs a bit more for this event! Oh well if I don't do well i can just put it down to multi day training! When we all got there we found out the start was about 8km away up a hill - oh well will spin it out on the bike and use it as a warm up! The clouds started to disappear - hooray! I started on the run and the map looked like a mass of contour lines - my legs were gonna love this!!! The hills started and i lapped them up - doing what I had planned in 2 and half hours in 2 hours - oh well i get to do more biking! The biking started well for about 10 minutes - then I got to CP 17, a broken wall crossing the bridleway, the CP was supposed to be 10m up the wall, so i went for a romp over the stones and found nothing, so I thought maybe there was another wall a bit further on (upon reflection i should have looked at the other side of the map, the running map was 1:25000 not 1:50000 so showed the walls - and there wasn't another one!) I fell over lots by the wind pushing me off the slippery muddy horrible track and found no other wall. I was a bit discouraged and thought I had better turn back, it was about a 20 min turn around now back to CP17 and back to where i was - i dithered and then abandoned the idea - apparently I was only about a meter away from the CP but it was quite hidden - bugger! So i carried on and got to lots of mud but an excellent downhill - this cheered me up - was giving myself a hard time for such a stupid basic error - oh well - have a good ride now and forget the race! I had a good ride and got alot more points and felt my legs a bit on the last up hill to the finish but it hadn't rained and I'd had a good day. Road back to the event centre with a mate, definately pushed the legs over the edge, stood in a queue for a bacon butty and then sat down to listed to everyone get their prizes. I had just missed out by a minute on 3rd place (same points), so if I'd bothered to look for CP17 a little better I would have come 2nd!!! 4th felt good though! Then to my surprise the series points were announced and I'd come 3rd over the series - yippee i got a trophy!!! What an excellent way to end a good weekend... Now where was the easter egg....

It is now wednesday and I found a play mate for a 6 hour ride around the Peak District - bit of rain, lots of mud, some excellent downhills, well i chose the route and put all my favourite ones in, and then I got an easter egg - yippeee! Am now officially stuffed!