Thursday, 1 November 2012

The ultra series 2012

I owe the runfurther team a big thanks for all their hard work and for setting up such a great series. So Thank You Karen, Si and Mark.Without them I may never have discovered what for the time being is a great love. A fellow fell runner (Pete) took me to the Howarth Hobble 4 years ago and then pointed out I could enter the series. And that as they say was that. I was hooked.

This year I knew that a Grand Slam was not realistic - the dates clashed with SLMM, DoE with kids at work and other family commitments. I did decide to do as many as I could though and it was nice not to have the pressure of completing all 12. Perhaps I'll get round to a Grand Slam one year?
First again was the Howarth Hobble (33) or Wuthering Hike,  although I could not wait until March for this and so started with two races I had not done before - The Hebden (22) and Rombalds Stride (23) followed my local Anglezarke Amble (24), just to get me legs going.

Hope I can still run as well as Wendy in 10 years time!

The shorter ones are not my forte but the routes were great with lots of fell, hill and mud. Then April saw a steady increase in the distances, first with the new Calderdale Hike (37) route     and then with The Fellsman (61) at the end of the month. I had not realised that the Calderdale changes every 3 years or so as I had only done the last 3 years and they were all the same. I did not have chance to recee the new route but much of it was over terrain I knew reasonably well and there were plenty of other runners around for much of the race.
I nearly missed the Fellsman after a bad ankle sprain from orienteering but could not bear the thought of missing out. I'm glad I risked it rather than listen to all the voices of reason as I had a great run despite a desperately cold and windy day. The cold wind challenged us all day and by evening our eyes were suffering. Then the snow started....  the rest is history and I am just very pleased to have made it to the event before the decision was made to stop all runners and walkers. After so much hard work the organiser was very upset at having to cancel but knew that for some competitors and marshalls that it was the right thing to do.
May brought a 'new' to me Ultra on the Brecon Beacons (40). A great race with lovely waterproof map and a chance to run over hills I had not visited for years. My body complained violently after a fast start along the canal tow path and I was forced to walk through the quarries. Walking on flat easy terrain was distressing but I often think ultras are run with the mind not the legs so I pushed on. I really enjoyed the second half once my body settled into a rhythm.
 Smiling at last on Brecon 40


June was not an ultra month for me but I did complete the Ennerdale fell race (24) which I had never done before, plus the LAMM and then the White Bear Way (21) which is a local LDWA event. July still did not add any ultras as Osmotherly clashed with the SLMM and I had decided to be brave or wreckless and enter the Klets course. We have run and helped at the SLMM as a family for some years now and I would be reluctant to miss this even in the hope of a Grand Slam. It did not disappoint- after a week of very worrying weather the Saturday was glorious.
We then disappeared abroad to walk the GR20 in Corsica. A brief return to the UK in August gave me the opportunity for another 'new' to me ultra at The Long Tour of Bradwell (33). Another fantastic day out in beautiful scenery and sunny weather. Again I set off too fast and paid the price for a few miles, when will I learn? The autumn saw a fairly packed schedule. The Bullock Smithy Hike (56) may have been an ultra too far starting only hours after a long drive back from the Alps but I survived and completed. The route seemed particularly brutal with more track, trail, bouldery paths and tarmac than I had hoped for. I really need to revisit this when my mind and body are more prepared. The marshalls were great, as was the food at the finish. I also owe thanks to Mark C  and then others who let me tag along and showed me the way.

The GC cairn with Tony
This was rapidly followed by the Lake District Mountain Trial which although relatively short did include some big hills and kept me running hard for 3 and a half hours. There was no let up as the following weekend was the High Peak 40. At least here I was on familiar ground having done the race for the last three years. An orienteering friend was keen to complete the Gerry Charnley Way (38)and I had offered to join him on long day out. Gerry was a founder member of our club and early planner of KIMMs. His memorial cairn is below Esk Pike. We didn't manage a record beating time but had a wonderful day out. The end of September brought the Hardmoors 60 (63).
At least Hardmoors 60 was warm and dry. At Hardmoors 55 I got very scared and very wet and cold

I knew this would be tough and the descents to so many little coastal inlets certainly took their toll. A busy but very satisfying month. October would see the last of the runfurther series at Round Rotherham (50).
Borrowed from 2011 I'm afraid.

 It is a strange race that is nicer than it sounds, so much so that I may run it for the last three years. October also ended my mountain marathons for the year with both the RAB, where I continued to try to get to grips with score events, and the OMM with my ever forgiving long standing MM partner. The OMM also saw my record of running in good weather end! I had run every weekend in September and October without getting wet or cold. The OMM made up for that.

I am not sure about November and December yet. I may need to conserve some car fuel. I was tempted by the Grampian  MM but in my heart I know it is just too far to drive- perhaps another year.
The ultra series has given me so much:
 New friends- thanks for driving your van and letting me crash out in it Mick. Also big congratulations on your Grand Slam.  
New 'minders', Thanks Martin for your caring shepherding duties at Hardmoors as I would have been far slower left to my own devices and my own navigating in the dark..
So many friends, many I see at every race like Nick but some it was good to see after a long gap (Cat).
New scenery and places to race over.
More Clif bars than I can eat in a lifetime-  only joking. It is great to have sponsors for the series and they have introduced me to the wonderful Injinji socks.

 It has also given me the idea of a new challenge....... inspired by Jonathan Steele's 50@50 can I attempt 52@52 next year??  They may not all be races or events as some may need to be local so that I can cram extras in to compensate for the weeks when I am committed to other things. Unlike Jonathan I am not going to promise how many will be 50 miles or 100 miles. It may not work out but hopefully it will be fun having a go.

1 comment:

  1. That's a nice summary of the year. You brought it all flooding back. :-)