A Pike, The Saunders, Heat, Hills, Jon Allen.

Well it has been a while since I last blogged and that’s been due to a rest from it all, and interestingly enough the running as well. I’d not run as such for near enough two months after the Old County Tops in May. And in fact had lost some of my fell running mojo so to speak.

Howgills Fells

I knew I needed to get back into the running after a elongated period off, with what had probably intended to be a two week break, but resulted in near enough two months after focusing my attention on the business. And it is interesting to compare both. Fell running is needy as is Peter Cobley Recruitment Ltd, aka Found Us. I think I learnt from all of this that both compliment each other and benefit each other. No running degradates the business with no outlet for the stress that comes with being a sole trader. Likewise pure fell running becomes a chore, not something to look forward to.

And I think it normal to lose business and personal mojo, i.e. a lack of interest in a normally important area of your life. I think the trick is to go with the flow, allow for change in life and fluctuation, but be able to climb back into the business swivel chair or the fell running shoes. Both will still be there after you.

Plan and graft, but allow for flux.

Also allow for it being a bumpy return to things you were once familiar with. This is definitely the case with fell running.

My first race back was a short on Tuesday 2nd July called Stoodley Pike that sits above Todmorden containing a gargantuan monolith at its summit. And in true fell running fashion it was a 3 mile pelt there and back on a rather warm and balmy Tuesday evening The race features in the FRA calendar and was a Club Championship race for the Saddleworth Runners and area championship race. So over 200 runners.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmEV1Xdp

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2498782465

I was apprehensive and nervous when driving Andy Poole and Brenda Roberts to the race, not having run in ages, especially a rude and cheeky short.

Suffice to say we started as a mass mob up a tight track that closed down to a tight stone clad path. The Gradwell Gopher leading the way, second being Bridget Bob Lancashire, with Kevin Bullet Jones following, and in hot pursuit Andy MTB Poole, with James (what’s his surname???) a new boy and myself in hot pursuit. I was tired and hot and decided to just get around, and that I did when reaching the summit after the fast climb sucking in breath like a proverbial ram jet. I’d lost Gopher and Bob, but had MTB and Bullet in site. Little did I know that new boy James had this old dog in his cross hairs.

It is a hard climb single file at a pace and you can’t stop or slow unil it opens out on top, for a fast descent, then fast run down a bridleway to the finish. I’d dropped off the summit tired to woefully saw the new boy leg it past me. Bullet and MTB disappearing away…

On finishing I was hot and bothered but later realised I had done alright not being too far behind people. It was a great atmosphere at the finish with plenty of banter, followed by more conversation armed with chip butties and a drink in the adjacent pub. And what a fine pub!

Stoodley Pike finish

My quads felt sore the next day. Something that has not happened in a while.

I can see why people after a hiatus avoid fell running, running a business and so on. It is hard to get back on the horse but it is possible. And as I type now I feel happy and relaxed.

The Saunders 2019 Mountain Marathon

Well, Tuesday certainly set me up for the weekend’s entertainment namely the 2019 Saunders Mountain Marathon running with Jon Allen as my fellow partner in crime on the paired Harter Fell Course/Class. It was Jon’s first Mountain Marathon which was to be a trial by fire, well it was flipping hot over the weekend leaving people wilting. Also running as a pair were Nick Manning and Adam Speed, who we have traditionally run the 4 Inns fell race with - that’s the 40 mile with a few thousand feet of climb beast from Holmfirth to Buxton.

The map with checkpoints

We managed to mostly beat the traffic, albeit one or two delays on the M6 and arrived at Tebay for the race HQ with this year’s race being in the Howgills range of hills. Minty the camper van was rigged up and we relaxed during the evening as we watched people arrive. One of which was Darth Vader Taylor, a man on a solo mission. He was treated to a couple of beers.

Saturday we awoke to a flurry of activity and a packed field of cars. We'd a 10.17am start so it was a leisurely morning. We were packed, watered and fed, and walked to the start. Nick and Adam started 5 minutes before. The initial climb summed up what was to come, it was roughly a 1,000 feet climb in no more than a mile, steep and in heat, but that’s the Howgills…

Saunders start gate

Day 1 was tough with a lot of climb over 15 or so miles, around 6,000 feet in intense sun as the clouds rolled back. Even at the end it was relentless with a brutal climb out of a stream checkpoint and then a withering contoured descent. But we were happy on seeing portaloos!

Jon flopped down at the half way camp and we set up shop with the pre-ordered drinks, patiently waiting Nick and Adam who we’d been worried about in terms of their progress.

It was a good atmosphere at the farm where the half way camp was situated with the 90 year old farmer wandering about with his walking stick saying hello.

Nick and Adam arrived late and looked tired; ultimately they were to retire on Sunday morning due to tiredness, being broken, and a dodgy ankle on Nick’s part that had plagued him recently. We felt for them, but they seemed cheerful enough on Sunday morning. It was to bed around 9.30am due to tiredness and being attacked by midges.

Saunders half way Day 1 camp

Sunday was a relatively early start with us rising around 6.45am to eat and pack up, so being able to get away between 8-8.30am. The camp was a hive of activity, this being the midges as they chomped away on people.

Sunday saw most courses follow the same steep initial route out of the half way camp to Cautley Crag. From there people generally drifted away from each other choosing their routes as we all eventually wound our way back to the finish HQ at Tebay.

The climb up Cautley Spout

The day was again tough with one particular climb of 1,200 feet over a mile at most in heat up Long Rigg.

By now Jon was struggling with blisters; to later discover 15 blisters on one foot, and hobbled his way around the checkpoints. It was impressive as we completed day 2 in under 5 hours so arriving at the finish at lunchtime. The heat and sun were strong but that did not stop us polishing off lunch.

Cairn at summit of Long Rigg

For Jon’s first Mountain Marathon it was impressive to say the least. It was a tough course with superbly hot and sunny conditions, and a number of pairs in our Harter Fell class retired including Nick and Adam. And to then run on broken feet was legendary. We came 45th out of 90 teams that completed the event in our class, and 20th out of 26 veteran pairs (based on combined age) for our class.

I think the motto here is you’ll always divert from the norm with business and personal life. That’s normal and to be welcomed, and it is just a question of getting back into it, and when you do view it akin to eating an elephant: one bite at time.