fell running

A rather busy weekend, BUT no fell running!

The weekend just gone was action packed in that we were out in the great outdoors in the snow. But no fell running… Due to a fall on ice.

Stanage Edge

Friday was a retreat to bed tired after a hard week and aching on my right side. Wednesday night I’d been walking Ted and went over very hard on black ice on a local path. My feet went under me and I landed on my back, luckily I was wearing my Rab thick down coat and it cushioned a lot of the impact and prevented my head cracking the Tarmac; it could have been very bad. Since then my ribs on my right side have prevented me running with moving, especially sleeping, painful indeed.

Saturday saw us gather but not run (me with bashed ribs, Claire with plantar fasciitis) the annual Gerry’s Castleshaw Canter from Delph, renamed in honour of Gerry who sadly passed away recently, a much loved elder statesman of the club. Ted, Claire, and I watched the start, then parked above Delph to watch the runners come in across Ox Hey Top/Broad Lane. We missed out on the running, but what a day for a walk, and for the runners.

Leading the pack was V60 (yes, V60) Mr Chris Davies, with first lady back being Gaynor Keane. Impressive in the terrain, and tricky underfoot snow.

The run was followed by tea and home baked cake at the Torr’s in Delph in their beautiful house, with donations to the club charity. I stuffed my face, not sure about the wife, but Ted is always partial to lemon drizzle cake.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmxSm6S4

And we must not forget Super Ted had a belting time in the snow; running about like a young pup, bearing in mind he’s 12 years old.

Later on that evening was the annual Saddleworth Runners presentation bash at the lovely Saddleworth Golf Club. The event sees club prizes awarded (we picked up second male and Claire second female - boom), nice food, drink, and company both old and new. And of course the Wooden Spoon award for the best failure of the last year, won by my wife for missing my by two hours at the Snake Pass summit when supporting me on the 24 mile Marsden to Edale Trigger fell race, and also forgetting my bag of fresh clothes to change into! Matters were made worse by the fact I’d won the spoon the year before and Claire wanted to see the back of it.

Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmv4e8fh

With my side still hurting like heck and playing up on the Saturday night as I laughed I was glad for a nice walk with “The Pigs” on Sunday from Hathersage across Stanage Edge. Whilst bitterly cold at times, it was well worth the effort just to lap up the views.

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

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/2122430117

It was good to be out with Claire, Ted, Gavin, Steve, and especially Andy who I’d not seen for a while.

Wandering about on the ROC Mountain Marathon

Well the people at the ROC have released the GPX files for Saturday and Sunday.

ROC Mountain Marathon home page

Tracing your route on the Saturday and Sunday is always interesting. And this week the people at the ROC allowed you to download your route details from the GPS tracker you carry, basically for safety and to check you don’t head into out of bounds areas and get disqualified.

Day 1 saw 16.88 miles and 3,260 feet of climb.

Day 2 saw 12.08 miles and 2,947 feet of climb.

Padfield Plum Fair Scamper...

Many fell races are routed in history, old and wizened, and sometimes linked to older events. The race run yesterday on Sunday just gone being an example of a fell run originating from a fair in an old part of Derbyshire where plums were picked. The sign I photographed at the community field explains all. Sadly the Plum Fair ceased in 2013.

In the 19th Century plum trees grew in the Etherow Valley and when the mills closed during Wakes in early September, millworkers and visitors would come to harvest the plums and enjoy themselves. There was also the popular bag of coal race up steep Redgate between coal merchants, which again has sadly ended with time.

Padfield Village Website: http://www.padfieldvillage.btck.co.uk/PlumFair

The Scamper? A 5.5 mile race taking in a thousand feet of climb as you head on a fast pelt to the Cock Hill Trig Point above the village then back again. The route can be found at: https://sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/plumfairscamper/page-1. It is a great route with broad views of Glossop and the surrounding hills, and certainly one to do again. After the race it was back home for a shower and to rescue Ted, then to the Reclamation Rooms in Uppermill for food and a brew.

The race is run clockwise.

Padfield Scamper.JPG

The average pace from my Strava was just over 8 minutes per mile, but a slow 2nd mile on the climb up the track to the spot height of 481 metres. I assume this is tired legs from all the running last week.



Inglebrough fell race, Gareth Evans, and a dog bike ride. Swallows and Amazons Cobley style

Whilst the Cat is away, the Mice will play... El Dude brothers had a smashing weekend whilst Claire Cobley is in Scotland.

So, we reminisce over a rather busy weekend. Saturday started prompt and early with a car trip from Mossley to Ingleton, with Stu Hutchison, Brenda Roberts, and Jon Comyn-Platt as passengers. Lovely trip up, with setting off early getting us to the venue early and thus parking, minimal "faffage", and token stress. It was a party atmosphere as the village green was full of festival goings on including a open ambulance and fire engine. (Sadly more on this to come.)

After munching food and arranging kit, and aggressively being stamped for a £2 entrance fee by the Women's Institute, we made our way to the field of "glory", soon to be "gory" as it was notably warm and close, or as my Nana would have said "clammy".

It was quite an assembled field with runners sporting a number of club colours. It was at this point that the race was delayed as the fire engine and ambulance upped sticks and shot off like a bat out of hell.

The festival organisers run the race as part of the festival and it was clear it was going to be minimal when adhering to fell running etiquette, with for example the start being a prompt ten second count down after runners were told "we are now getting on with it."

How was the start? Everyone went off like the fire engine and ambulance, i.e. like a bat out of hell. It was a fast dash up the high street to dodge startled tourists and shoppers, with need of the pavement at times. I knew it would be fast as the "Gradwell Gopher" had shot off. I have walked many times up Inglebough from Ingleton using the route of the race, the common ascent to Ingleborough North West from Ingleton, via A Pennine Journey, an unusual and pleasantly named route.

Well, fell running the route up was not pleasant at a "hoofing it" pace, in what soon became very close heat, with strangely Ingleborough summit shrouded in clag. It was only going to get hotter, and thankfully I'd changed from an Ultimate vest to my old faithful, the Pete Bland bum bag.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1718338995

It's fast paced due to the terrain, with you reaching nearly 2k feet at the summit over a three mile pelt. About half way into the climb, Stu Hutchison the "Hurricane", caught up with me and "cheerfully" said it's hot. Yours truly was mulling over how in the space of a month he was climbing hard over distance in humid heat, having not long run the Kate Burge Sea-to-Summit race on the Isle of Man. At this point Stu soldiered on and the little monkey pulled away ever so slightly, refusing to walk up Ingleborough which then starts to slowly, surreptitiously, and cheekily climb up, with about three false summits. Near the top the Gopher cheerily bobbed down at quite a speed on what is tough rocky terrain with your not being able to use the path due to later runners climbing up. I caught Stu as we turned at the Trig point, with the summit clag bound and very cool indeed, soothing and needed, as we'd not really had a breeze, but all in all strange Yorkshire weather conditions. It was at this point that I took the eye off the ball whilst watching "Hurricane", caught a stone, flew, and ended up in a heap scratched and battered on a leg and arm. It was then a very very fast downhill to chase Stu and other runners with the initial phase very steep and rocky as you avoided runners ascending the summit. A few "hellos" on the way down and it became warm again. Toward the end and about a mile or more from Ingleton I developed a stich from hell and began to drop back, with a slight recovery to pelt it back to the village field, with no sight of Stu; turns out he was a minute ahead, and Gopher a full seven minutes.

The race in looking back was excellent and fun, but not to be underestimated at 6.8 miles. The festival a real taste of England in the sun. The camaraderie good as we waited and cooled down for other runners. The prize giving and results "interesting" from non-fell runners, and certainly had a taste of Monty Python as they were read out to the over powering noise from the DJ tent of the latest "youth" beats. We therefore decided to bugger off home. Sadly we had to take a diversion off the A65 due to an incident, to re-join below Ingleton to see the aftermath of a truly awful road crash between two vehicles, which looked like a head on collision. This must have explained the rapid departure of the ambulance and fire engine earlier...

On returning home, there was food, some work, a shower, and then off out to support Gareth Evan's 2.5 loops of the Oldham Ultra at 100 miles, with 10k feet of climb. Around 3.30am I met Gareth, Mark, Chris, and some French Bird that would not leave Ted alone. The support ended being around five hours with a walk/run to Hartshead Pike before saying goodbye to the lads and heading home. Ted and I had walked 15 miles in the early hours of Sunday.

Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1719206910

If you can support Gareth Evans, then please do, as the Oldham Ultra challenge is one of a few as he raises money for Mind, the mental health charity. See https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gareth-evans5in5

To finish off the weekend's fun, Ted and I took a leisurely ten mile bike ride to collect the car utilising the "Tedmobile" with sausages at Daisy Nook café for fuel.

PHOTOS: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmoPyrsf

Running Leg 3 of the Bob Graham Round as support, and Kilian Jornet.

The weekend just gone was amazing for a variety of reasons. The weather, the location, the running, the history being made.


Many, unless a fell runner, won't necessarily know about the Bob Graham Round, or the Bob Graham Club. Let me explain... Back in 1932 a Keswick Hotelier, with support from two friends, broke the Lakeland Fell record by traversing 42 fells in The Lake District in 24 hours. He was called Bob Graham, hence the name of the Round. It is classed as the pinnacle of fell running in the UK. Since then over 2,000 people have completed the Round, with many attempts failing. The route is a 66 mile circuit from the Keswick Moot Hall and back again, normally completed clockwise, climbing the 42 names fells, with 27,000 feet of cumulative climb - it is hard, in fact it is a super human feat.

Over the years the route has been refined and developed, with people able to run with support teams, GPS, known routes and so forth. But it is still a severe challenge. The route is broken into five distinct legs (Chris and Des's running support in brackets.)

It is highly planned with support crews meeting the runners at the change of legs. Food is taken on board, shoes changed, with minimum amount of time expended. Cars and people need to be shipped all over the place. Normally a runner on each leg as an absolute minimum will have one person navigating, and another carrying water, food, and kit - the "donkey".

Leg 1: Keswick to Threlkeld. (Richard Mackey, Nick Haynes, Sean Willis, Ed Steele)

Leg 2: Threlkeld to Dunmail. (Richard Mackey, Simon Jump, Ryan Townrow)

Leg 3: Dunamail to Wasdale. (Paul Taylor, Peter Cobley, and Gaynor Keane)

Leg 4: Wasdale to Honister. (Ozzy Kershaw, Scott Newburn, Ed Steele)

Leg 5: Honister to Keswick. (Martyn Hodgson, Monica Boland, Sandrine Fraisse, Jill Davies)

(I've not mentioned all the people who supported in between legs, drove, and provided moral support. It was and is a huge effort. Just look at the Flickr photos.)

The fastest run to date (until the weekend) had been by a famous fell runner called Billy Bland at 13 hours 53 minutes and stood from 1982; yes, that time over that distance and climb, and that's fell runners for you. Unassuming, never heard of, amateur, get on with it. The women's record is currently that set by Jasmin Paris in 2016 at 15 hours 24 minutes.

Over the weekend, Chris Smith and Des Thorpe attempted the Bob Graham Round, setting off from Keswick Moot Hall at 7pm on Friday 7th July. They are members of the Saddleworth Runners, the fell running club I run for. They had 24 hours in which to complete the leg. I myself was running Leg 3 in support. At 6am on Saturday 8th July a person called Kilian Jornet set off with support - he's a famous mountain runner in our circles. More on him to come.

Myself and Leg 3

I was over the moon and nervous after my wife said I'd run as a Donkey on Leg 3. This particular leg is viewed as the hardest due to length and climb, approximately 17 miles and 7,000 feet of cumulative climb, taking in Steel Fell, Bow Fell, Scafell Pike, and Sca Fell.

We arrived at the handover point of Legs 2 and 3 at Dunmail Raise at 2.45am Saturday morning, and saw support crews gathered and headtorches coming off Seat Sandal as others were also attempting the Round.

We picked up the lads and were then off, straight up Steel Fell. It was already hot by 7.15am and this made the running hard, oh so hard. I'll let the pictures tell the story, but it was magical, with a clear day giving unbridled views of The Lakes at their best.

It was an honour to run with Des and Chris as support on Leg 3. Paul Taylor's navigation was "bob on", with Gaynor and I as "Donkey's". The packs were heavy: I myself carried gloves, hat, waterproof top and bottoms, bivvy bag, head torch, emergency food (plus the runner's food) and 4 litres of water, 3 with electrolyte. The heat meant the water was near enough consumed when we hit Wasdale.

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/gp/petercobley/KJaNc7

My Strava for Leg 3: https://www.strava.com/activities/1687428523

The End?

After tough running in extreme heat with temperatures in excess of 25 degrees C, they did it! Both Chris and Des coming in to the Moot Hall at 22 hours and 55 minutes!

Kilian Jornet?

It was an experience to chill out around Keswick on Sunday and to monitor what had been kept a top secret event - less fuss that way. He was supported by some of the UK's top fell and mountain runners. Both Claire and I were lucky to make it to the square outside the Moot Hall to see a 36 year old record broken as he came in at an amazing 12 hours 52 minutes. To greet him was Billy Bland, the legend. Was Jornet tired? Yes. Is he super human? Yes. Is he modest? Yes. Look him up!

But let's not take away from Des and Chris. They spent a year planning and building up to this. That is what it genuinely takes. Well done lads. You deserve it!

A rather HOT Saunders Mountain Marathon 2018

The 2018 Saunders Mountain Marathon started Saturday morning just gone from Grassmere in The Lakes and saw a number of paired and solo runners take on the two day adventure of fell running and navigation.

A regular for Claire and I, we ran as a team on the Fairfield course, which is a score event. To the newbie to fell running, this is where you are given a map on Saturday with checkpoints and you choose which to "nail", with the hardest to get yielding the most points. Fitness and navigation a must, as is your route choice whilst up against some cracking fell runners. You run for day one and carry all your kit for an overnight camp, then run again day two. If late you lose points. You have seven hours for day one, and five hours for day two.

From the Saddleworth Runners, were Stu Hutchison and Lee Bowden, Tanya Haynes and Sandrine Fraisse running as a pair on the Fairfield course, with Paul Taylor running solo on the same course. A great, but very tough two days with the heat being at least 25 degrees C and no cloud cover. Great company and chat at the halfway camp in a beautiful location at Borrowdale.

Strava Day 1: https://www.strava.com/activities/1673800283

Strava Day 2: https://www.strava.com/activities/1673804508

Cake Race, Coiners Fell Race, and Old County Tops (Gulp)

The Cake Race was my first attempt at organising a fell running race, and by no means an easy choice.

Bank Holiday Saturday, 5th May 2018 saw over 200 runners participate on a glorious but scorching hot day with the temperature in excess of 25 degrees C. Planning started back in the last quarter of 2017 and I'm pleased I started early as it made for smooth running of the race, and a complete understanding of where we were at each stage. Consents had to be gained from the likes of Yorkshire Water and National Trust Marsden with support from a team of Marshalls, helpers, and Holme Valley Mountain Rescue. What made the ran the more stressful was the first use of Fabian4 for online entries, and Racetek for tracking; big thanks is due to Ellie and Adrian from Fabian4 who were on site to support us.

All went seamlessly. Yes, there were a fee glitches, but that's what happens in a big race! The photos below sum up why it was worth it. Happy runners and helpers, with all having a good race, whether running or not.



Monday of the Bank Holiday saw me race at Coiners fell race at Mytholmroyd, and boy what a race that was, 7 miles with a long climb to Stoodley Pike in 30 degree heat; a beast. But fun. I got an idea of what the Cake Racers had felt.


This weekend is a gulp moment, as I am entered into the Old County Tops fell race running as a pair with Gareth Evans from the Saddleworth Runners.


Yes, 37 miles and 10k feet of climb this Saturday...


Typing away on a cold and damp week in the North West

Well, typing away during a cold, damp, and dank week in the Man Cave office in Saddleworth. Thankfully it is nice and toasty in the house, with the wood burner on. Claire is with her parents descending on Hebden Bridge. Does Ronnie know it's deep secrets? I wonder. I may take him out for a pint and divulge all. Ted is engaged in "Ted TV" which entails sitting on top of a sofa, looking outside of the window, and woofing at bystanders who foolish pass in front of his domain.

This week has been a nice recovery from the Anglezarke Amble, as organised by the LDWA, on Saturday. 25.2 miles and approximately 4k of culmulative climb from Rivington and back, taking in the Pike, Winter Hill, Darwen Tower and Anglezarke Moor and reservoir. A beautifully scenic race normally, but Saturday's conditions meant it was appalling weather, cold, damp, raining all day, with snow underfoot, and very boggy conditions. All runners struggled, some more than most. At times I could not feel my fingers even with SealSkinz gloves on, to the point that I could not handle running vest buckles or my phone. On getting wet you chilled right down to the core and the only option was to move, or drop out. We were nearly broken at the second to last checkpoint prior to Great Hill with Claire really struggling with the cold, and the bad cough she had. That said we pushed on, completed it, got the time on our feet which will be helpful for the Edale Skyline in March... gulp.



Trigger Recce with Ryan and Des - 9th December 2017

A great but "hairy" run from the Snake Pass summit to the top of Jacob's Ladder above Edale when on a recce of the Trigger, with Ryan Townrow and Des Thorpe. 14 plus miles, with just over 2.5k feet in cumulative climb. Lots of sheet ice hidden by the the snow, which proved treacherous, with a number of falls. That said it was an excellent adventure, with us finding a tricky checkpoint at some airplane wreckage.

A late post on the Lee Mill Relay Race in November 2017

Well we ran in the legendary relay on November 26th and it was interesting weather conditions to say the least, with one fell runner needing to be taken off the course with hypothermia. It was great to run with the "Saddleworth Stunners" and represent the club, and share a laugh with Dean, James, and Adrian.

It is a tough old course over the six miles, and at the time of year weather conditions can make it harsh, with this year seeing snow underfoot, cold weather conditions, and much of the moorland saturated to the point that bogs swallowed runners; I myself at one point helping pull a fellow runner out of a bog.

I also later learnt one of my candidates is a fellow fell runner and ran twice in the relay in two teams from his club!

Full details can be found at the Facebook Group.


A cracking time in Wales running the Penmaenmawr fell race 2017

A cracking time was had by those who attended the Penmaenmawr fell race on Saturday 18th November, from the Saddleworth Runners. Claire and I travelled down Friday night to Caer Ruhn Hall, about 20 minutes drive from the race which incidentally is at Capelulo up in the hills from the costal town. Pleased we did this as it was a nice break, not to mention we avoided an early start, whilst scoffing a lovely breakfast. I now wonder if the race is named after Penmaenmawr so that people can find the place! As to the hall, what a magnificent place, and I have popped a URL below; it is a hidden gem due to see better times from the hotel company that now owns it. Fingers crossed.

One of the funny things of Saturday, apart from an excellent race, were the Dutch running group who as a club make a habit of each year attending a British fell race!

Lastly, special mention goes to the The Tal Y Cafn pub where Claire and I had dinner Friday evening when staying at the hall. A wonderful old building refurbished to a modern standard inside, with amazing food. But what made it all the more special was the Manger spotted Claire's Hamilton accent, and we discovered he is from Hamilton, and went to the same school as Claire; it was fun to watch them chat.

Sadly, we headed back  home after I raced as Claire was still struggling with a terrible cold, and left the others to head off to Mark Brakspear's place in Abersoch.




Penmaenmawr fell race route.