Cardington Cracker Fell Race 2/12/12

AM, 14.5km, 793meters.
I wasn't sure whether I was going to compete in this race this year. My back problems had resurfaced a few days before and I doubted it would be a good idea to run. However, it's a great race and it was the same race last year, that for me, signalled my return to running after a break whilst we acclimatised to having the kids. So, I was interested to see how much I'd improved in twelve months. Previous times were;
2008-2:03:47 first year of fell running.
2009-1:56:40 getting a bit better.
2010? not even sure I ran it that year.
2011 2:12:31 Had put on a lot of weight whilst not running.
2012 1:45:51 WooHoo!
It didn't feel like 26 minutes of an improvement as I was running round, but, it also didn't seem that difficult compared to last year. I even had a bit left at the end and took a couple of runners in the last 50 meters.
I came in, in 123 out of 278 runners. Very pleased with my progress and to have got into the top half of runners again.
Only down side is my back has taken a battering. I'm finding moving of any sort is really painful. Oh well, at least it's forced me to book some physio and maybe I'll get it sorted once and for all.

Diane and Grahams site

Only a few races left this year and I'm not sure I'll be able to compete. I'm hoping with the festive season coming up and my love of real ale that I don't put on too much weight in the next few weeks, it would be a shame to reverse all the good work I've done this year. Next years goal has to be to loose some more weight.

Time Trial 25/11/12

"A competition on foot for runners & challenge walkers (solo or pairs).
The object is to travel on foot, unaided, between Little Stretton and Stiperstones villages in the shortest time possible. The route is not prescribed but is subject to rules and requires local knowledge. Participants need competence and self-reliance on upland terrain. Enter on the day only. Interval start times 9:30 - 11:30 am."
Time trial web site
As the quote says really. Get from one village to the other as quick as you can. Simple. Look at the map, choose a route and go for it!
About 9 miles and maybe 1200ft ish of climbing?
We got to Little Stretton, I signed in, received my dibber and wondered to the start. Alex and the kids(support team) saw me off then they legged it to the car to see if they could beat me to the top of the Long Mynd. They did, but parked in the wrong place so I had to take a slight de tour to get a round of high 5's before running on to the next road crossing, where again, they would be waiting to offer water and moral support.
I thought I'd chosen a pretty direct route with no real steep climbs so I could run the whole thing. I was a bit surprised on top of the Mynd to see people seemingly running off in all directions. A lot choosing a longer road route. Why?
I raced down to "Bridges" where the support team were again waiting with high fives and water.
Then I continued to Stipperstones and the finish, where again, the team were waiting with 5's and water.
I was pleased with my route selection and my running(considering slight sore head from previous day of fine dinning and wine tasting). I came in, in the top third of runners, 1:30,01.
We rewarded our good efforts in the Stipperstones Inn (fell runners pub of the year) with lunch and a pint for the runners.

Last photo from sponsors High Sports
A top, fun event which I hope to do again next year.

Wrekin Wrecker Fell Race 18/11/12

AM 12.9km 732m
The longer of the three races run on my local hill. Starts on one side, works its way halfway up, dives down to the bottom, round the other side, up and over, back to the original side, round a bit more, up and over again, then a long slog back towards the start. A bit dizzying really, but a great race with loads of variation in terrain.

Red, pink then blue
Thanks Andros.

Taken a few days earlier.
Organised Newport Running Club. Traditionally, a very generous race. You don't usually get much in the way of gongs in fell races, which keeps the cost down and is one of the things I like about fell running. Pay ya fiver, run over a few hills/mountains, go to the pub. NRC must have made a loss in previous years as the price had gone up to £8!!! Extortionate, but still worth it. And you do get some shizzle.

New black Buff to go with the green from a couple of years ago.
 There was a bit of pressure on me for this race. As well as my running buddy Alex, who is running well at the moment and was faster than me last time we ran this race, we had two fell newbie mates joining us. Steve, accomplished road runner and Tat, the contender.
I had a great run and I think the extra pressure helped, as I came in 14 minutes faster than 2010, in the top half of runners, and more importantly, ahead of the newbies.
Managed to avade photographer Alastair in the race but he caught me stuffing my face with chips

And snapped us all looking a bit "special" post race

Ras Rhobell Fawr 10/11/12

AM 10.3k 562m
From Llanfachreth village, somewhere near Dollgellou, Wales.
Organised by meirionnydd running club
Pictures from Esyllt Richards who was out marshaling with Ifan.
I last ran this in 2009. The weather that year was horrendous. Much more pleasant this year.
I came in 50th out of 83 runners(1:11). Less than three minutes faster than 2009. I would have liked to do slightly better and get into the top half of runners but I couldn't have tried much harder.

Breidden Hills Fell Race 21/10/12

AM 11k 690m. Just over the border from Shropshire into Wales. The race, on the Criggion estate, takes in three peaks: Middletown hill, Moel-y-Golfa and Breidden Hill. A mixture of terrains from boggy fields, fast grassy descents, forest trails, a few meters of road and a bit of rock thrown in.
I really enjoyed this race! Last did it in 2010, the day after running the Llangdale horse shoe, and didn't really give it all I had. This year I was able to put a lot more effort in.
 The weather was as forecast, with low lying fog, which made navigating interesting in the forest, and generally misty at low level, but fantastic views as we climbed through the cloud up each peak, where we could see the other peaks popping up through the cloud.  
After all the long runs I've done recently, where I've had to pace myself and conserve energy, it was nice to be able to push as hard as I could for the whole run. I finished the race in 1:17. A whole twelve minutes faster than 2010 and just about got into the top half of finishers(winner finished in :55). Pleased with the result.
Images with permission from Alastair of Fellrunningpictures

One proud moment

The soppiest thing you will ever hear my say. If you tell anyone I said it, I will not only deny saying it, but I will put a contract out on you to have you silenced, for good. Got it!!!?
 But,  My kids are heroes. They almost bought a tear to my eye Yesterday. We went for a family walk up the Wrekin. 1.5 miles to the top and 800ft of assent. Both Son(2 years) and Daughter(3.5 years) walked all the way to the top, with only the occasional hand to hold, but no carrying. No complaining, they just got on with it. We summited in under an hour. Incredible.
 They were knackered when we got to the top and we did feel slightly guilty dragging them up there. But, after mostly being carried back down to the halfway house, they were rewarded with a cake and a loli pop each. They couldn't believe their luck, two treats in one day. That's unheard of in our house. If only they knew how proud I was, they could have angled for a lot more. I would have let them have what ever they wanted.
 I know I am getting soft. This is the sort of soppy nonsense that would have made me cringe if I'd heard someone else saying it a couple of years ago. I haven't done any kickboxing or martial arts since the kids came and I think that may be taking it's tole on my usual tough exterior. I think I'll go and do some full contact sparing soon to try and MAN MYSELF THE F**K UP.

Next race, Breiddon Hills. Which I will run in in a vest regardless of how wet and cold it is. Just for my own self esteem.

Longmynd Hike 6/7th10/12

50 miles 8000 feet.
Longmynd hike home page
Traditionally, this age old event, was a long distance walking competition, where, the challenge is to complete the route within 24 hours. There are different prize categories so it seemed inevitable that at some point people would start running the event. Which they now do in droves.
I had no intention of doing this this year but had thought about doing it at some point in the future. However, I got caught up in the euphoria of people trying to get in and put my name down on the reserves list. To my surprise, I was offered a place.
It starts at 13:00, you then have to check in, in a particular order, to eighteen checkpoints scattered round Shropshire and Wales. There's a stringent kit list, which is checked, including med kit, survival sheet, spare jumper, map, compass, whistle, mug..........When it gets dark, you get grouped into minimums of three and have to stay with your group until the end, unless otherwise given permission to re group or you retire. Its quite important to get in the right group. You don't want to be held back and you definitely don't want to be the one holding your group back and desperately trying to hang on.
Check point tally and completion certificate.
 Photo after 15ish miles taken by Alistair of Fell Running Pictures
 I didn't really know how to run this as I'd never done anything this long before. I wanted to cover as much distance in daylight as I could to reduce the chance of getting lost at night, but I didn't want to be burnt out at the grouping stage and hold others back. Strategy? Urm, Start slowish and see how it goes? Try not to hang around too long at the check points and get plenty of food and water down on route. It seemed to be going ok. Initially running the downhill, jogging the flat and walking the uphill. A bit of a mental battle to go through, it's difficult to comprehend the distance of the race so I tried to break it down into smaller chunks to convince my brain I could do it. By the time it was getting dark I was finding it hard going. I got grouped with four others and we set off for the next check point. The pace for me and "Steve" at that stage was a little fast. At the next check there were two people, Mark and Tracy who had found the going too tough in their group so held back to try and re group. That suited Steve and I so we let the other three in our original group continue without us and we formed a group of four which seemed to work well for all concerned. Our pace then was "bimble" the down hills and speed walk the rest. It worked well for us and we plodded round the remainding15ish miles. 
It was a really well organised event with the friendliest of competitors and volunteers manning the checkpoints through the night. Hats off to them all. It was my first foray into "ultra" running and I'm not sure whether I really want to go down that route. I am pleased to have entered and supported this iconic local event though, and, when the swelling has gone down, I'll probably think I should do it again.

Hinstock 10k multi terrain 23/9/12

Race Site
My village charity run, organised by Newport Running Club, turned from a 5k to a 10k last year. It wanders round the lanes, fields and paths of our village. Would have been a nice plesant run had I not have tried to run flat out for the entire race. Came in 15th out of 130ish entrants. Pleased with the result even though I still didn't get first local (which went to a Newport runner not from round here) not bitter at all ;-)

Peris Horseshoe Mountain Race 15/9/12

AL. 28k 2590m. Set in Snowdonia, Wales, around the Llanberis pass.
I think, for some sadistic reason, this is my favourite race. The first half, a race in its self, has some pretty long, hard climbs with some nice, fast runnable sections in between. But, the second half hardly has any runnable bits at all and often requires hands and feet to get up some of the mountains. Added to that, the weather is, more than not, very unpleasant. I think of it as a "real mans" race, although, there're are some tough women that get round and usually a lot faster than me.
The first half of the race went really well for me. I knocked more than ten minutes of my 2010 time. The second half, although hard, was also going well until, that is, I decided confidently to take a short cut off Snowdon missing part of the Rangers path. A bad mistake considering the weather. I went way off track and found my self contouring a ridiculous scree slope miles away from where I should have been. I think it cost me about twenty odd minutes in the end, but, I still came in fifteen minutes faster than last time.
                                                 Photo from Alastairs site
Got to see Steve again, of Run Forest Run blog his account of the same race before the race, which is always a pleasure. Just glad I didn't see him afterwards, as he may not have been in such a friendly mood.
Sarah Ridgeway local mountain goat was also knocking around the mountains. Not racing, just out for a jog and taking some photos for her blog. Like Steve's photos, they are well worth a look as they show the terrain really well.

Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon 9/9/12

taken a couple of days earlier
I set off to run the race as hard as I could, just to see what I could do it in. Half way round and I was looking good for a sub 1:30 finish. But....with five miles left to run I started really struggling to maintain the pace. I felt fit enough to maintain the speed but, I think, the lack of road preparation did it in for me. My legs were just hurting too much to continue running that fast. In the end I came in with a time of 1:33. Still pleased with the result. Only problem is, I wanted to put road running to bed, but that time has planted the seed of a sub 1:30. I know that if I were lighter, or I trained for it, I could do it. Hmm, I think I leave it until next year though.
photo 'pinched' from  Gwynfor's Sport Pictures Cymru

Next race: Peris Horse Shoe. SBRT?

Ragleth Inn Race 22/8/12

AS. 460m 6.5km
  Last race in the Shropshire Summer Series. So, I made an effort to put in a good performance. I was working hard all round and didn't slack on any part of the route. I couldn't have gone any faster up hill but I didn't feel as fast going down hill. Still, in the end I came in six minutes faster than 2010 and four minutes faster than 2009. Very pleased with the result. I am putting the improvement down to the gradual weight loss. I am down to my target weight but now think I can loose some more without compromising upper body strength.
Picture from Al Tye's site Fellrunning Pictures.
The next race in my calender is Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon I don't tend to like road running but the scenery round the lake is very pleasant and I also want to get a good time so I can forget about road "halfs"

Borrowdale Fell Race 4/8/12 (tick)


Everything seemed to go to plan. Better than expected even.
Slow weight loss over the last few months, carb loading 36 hours leading up the the race and some gells to keep me going throughout. That was in contrast to last time when I was heavier, hungry, with only a snickers to energise me through the race.
Last time I timed out at the honister check point. This time I had 0:40 minutes to spare. I finished the race in just under 5 hours. Still slow by many standards but I'm really pleased with the way it went. Hopefully I can continue to loose some excess weight and continue to improve on some previous race times.

Snowdon International Race 21/7/12

AM. Great race a usual.
I had a good run up and managed to pass a few people. I was looking forward to the run down as I usually do well on the return journey. Started ok, but just after this photo was take by Alastair I got some terrible stomach cramps. It was very, very nearly a case of the, world famous, bottom(no pun intended)photo.

I had to walk several times to contain the..........and, in some pain, stumbled to the finish line. Only a couple of minutes slower than my 2010 time. It could have been, a lot, lot worse.

BORROWDALE is looming, in less than two weeks. The thought of which is also causing some discomfort.

Stipperstones Fell Race 18/7/12

AS. Really enjoyable run. The slow weight loss seems to be paying off. Although still not fast, I felt faster going up and seemed to have got back some confidence and speed going down hill. I came in almost two minutes faster than my 2010 time.
                                 Photo from Alastairs FellRunningPictures

Next race is Snowdon International Race in a couple of days. Lets see if I can improve 2010s time again.

Callow Fell Race 1/7/12

A lot of climbing/descending in a short amount of distance.
Never done this local race before. It clashes with the Skiddaw Fell Race, up in the lakes, which I usually run. My running buddy "M" went to the lakes and I stayed local. Glad I did too, Callow fell race is a fantastic route in the lovely Shropshire hills. It just seemed to be steep hill after steep hill. I can't even remember how many. I think four or five, none of them runable.
Alastair of FellRunningPictures managed to find three locations for the photos (he must of covered some distance him self).
Bridge shot taken towards the start of the race.
 About two thirds of the way through.

Coming over the finish line. Very demanding AS which I think I would like to do again next year.

Pontesbury Fell Race 27/6/12

AS. I last did this race in 2010 when the race route was reversed. So, it's difficult to work out, again, if I'm any faster, or, much slower. It looks like everyone was generally faster in 2010 so I'm not too worried about being a couple of minutes slower this year. I was faster than in 2009 when the course was in the same direction as last night.
My weight is slowly coming down and I feel like I'm on track to conquor Borrowdale in a few weeks. I have a way to go and a few more races to complete, but, I'm feeling positive.                                                   
Thanks to Alastair of Fell Running Pictures link for the photos and support at the race.

Rodneys Pillar 20/6/12

AS. Reversed route from last time I did this race, so I don't know whether I was any faster, or, much slower. Felt ok.

Thanks as always to Alastair of Fell Running Pictures for his photos. And the encouragement.

Batch Bash 30/5/12

AS. Local race in the Shropshire hills. Really enjoyed this race again. Lovely course.

Shuttlingsloe 26/5/12

AS. Clashed with Cadir Idris. Virtually contracted to run this every year though. Part of the rose queen fate and the area where my Mother in law came from. All proceed go to the up keep of the little church.

Wrekin Streak 25/4/12

AS. Reluctantly went and ran my local hill again. It's always the getting there that's hard. Once I'm there I usually enjoy it.

Llantisilio Mountain Race 31/3/12

AS 6.2 miles 2100 feet.
Really enjoyed the run.
A photo I took a while ago when flying past.

Wrekin Fell Race 25/3/12

AS 519m 8.8km (it's all gone metric)

Up and over the Ercall, up't Wrekin and back again.

Very hot, very slow, but it's the taking part that counts, apparently.
Alistairs photos

Long Mynd Valleys Weekend 4&5/2/12

Organised by local fell running club Mercia fell runners

Titterstone Clee Race. AS. Just about caught the foulest weather we've had all winter. Only time I've ever worn my water/wind proof on a race. Wore it to the start line and decided not to take it off. It was cold cold cold.
I really felt for the marshals and Alistair of : Fell running pictures (pictures)

Long Mynd Valleys Race next day. The worst of the weather had passed leaving a lovely day for running. Although, there were some interesting descents down the steeper parts of the course.

Not my fastest times but another really enjoyable couple of runs.

Morning After Fell Race 1/1/12

BS 5 miles 900 feet.
New years day run.
Trying to get the year off to a good start
Just got to work on the belly now.
Pictures from Fell Running Pictures