Sunday, 15 March 2020

Haworth Hobble

Not race 1 in Runfurther this year but race 2. Another change for me was getting up at silly o'clock and driving over on Saturday morning rather than staying there in the van on Friday night. With a short detour to Mellor to collect Kevin we were still in Haworth before registration opened. The flags and banners were up, mint cake delivered and the display boards and spot prizes set out. It seemed quieter than usual but perhaps people were self- isolating in their cars.  Many were discussing race cancelations and interestingly several had hoped this would cancel too! We were due to drive to Dover on Sunday to ski in France and then climb in Spain and I must admit my head was elsewhere as we sat chatting. It was a bit chilly but the forecast was good and certainly not the snow on my last run two years ago.
After congregating at the top of the street we were herded down to the Fleece for the official start line. It didn't seem worth jockeying for position near the front and then having stud marks up your back. True it was slow for 100m but there was plenty of time to spread out.
making my own pace
It was my 11th Hobble and I wondered if I was getting a bit bored with it but after not getting an entry last year it seemed OK.
still smiling
I deliberately started steady but was still keeping John T, Josie and others in site for now. There was no queue at the stile and we were soon on the open moor.  John took his cag off here and caused the weather gods to send some drizzle. I was cautious on the muddy bits and not entirely trusting of my ankle/foot. It had seemed to be improving until a few days ago.
and still- a decent surface for my foot
Top Withens came and went. I was very cautious on the flagstones, especially as we started to descend but twice tweaked my ankle enough for a yelp. Towards the bottom came a bigger tweak and a full on cry out and need to take a moment or two or three. At this early stage I was really thinking I might need to bail at CP1 or perhaps Long Causeway. So many lovely people stopped to check I was OK- well I wasn't but there was nothing they could do about it.
Sportsunday always make me smile
Laura and David from Sportsunday cheered me up a bit as I ran along the reservoir. And as David pointed out "It's turned out nice again." Ironically the climbs were going well as the slower pace meant I could carefully place my foot. The lovely descent towards Hurstwood was torture this year and it was so frustrating. A few more minor yelps.
Hester whose kind words meant a great deal
I didn't dare stop and get comfortable at CP2 and concentrated on trying to claw back some lost time. Strange to be thankful for the tarmac!  I passed Janet who had set off early and focused on the group ahead and the promise of a hot dog once I got through the mus at the farm.
Usually I like the contour across from Mount Cross to above Tod but the mud caused my foot real problems and it was hard work concentrating on minimising the jarring. By the time I passed Andy Ford who had come out to support I must have looked pretty grumpy. I had another serious tweak in the mud by the golf course but luckily the tarmac afterwards gave some respite. I tried to be positive- I had not bailed at CP2, I was over half way now.... there were donuts and whisky waiting at Mankinholes.
not just me fueling on donuts then

Climbing up to Mankinholes I started catching some others and then even overtook a few. More positive vibes. Even better was the climb to Stoodley Pike.

Not running the muddy flats and the gnarly downs meant that my quads were in better shape than usual and the climbs seemed so much easier. I caught and ran with Brian S who was feeling pressure of Hester not far behind. Again I embraced the tarmac drop to Hebden and powered up the hill to Heptonstall. I was gaining places now and reflecting on those articles about negative splits. I had been really worrying about the drop to Horse Bridge but it was better than I hoped even if I was very slow. There I found Albert and the hung-over Toney sat having a picnic.
Albert and Toney at Mankinholes
I know the route well enough to visualise the route and knew we were now on the home straight. The PW that I had been stressing about was still likely but perhaps not by the 45-60 mins I had dreaded. The next section is climb and although I didn't run it all (don't be silly) I did make good time and by the time I could see the last CP was reeling in a couple more runners. I had so much energy on the lane and up onto Walshaw Moor that it was unreal.  True I was a bit slow on the following descent but even there I caught one runner. I must have looked comical when I reached Dave W taking photos on the last gnarly section. My foot was so painful now on anything other than tarmac that I almost cried just looking at the rocky steps. Having been laughed at and abused in true Dave fashion I set off on the next section on a mission. Yep, another one overtaken. From here to the end was all runnable, even with my foot and I reckon I ran almost all of it and certainly more of the ups than I usually manage. Realising that it might not even be a PW also helped. I didn't quite catch the guys on the road climb to Penistone Hill but I was gaining ground and that spurred me on. Quick checks of my watch confirmed I could beat my time from two years ago ( that had been a PW) which for most of the race had seemed impossible.
Winning men

 I arrived in time to eat, drink and see the prize giving. Ken and Kevin had raced each other all the way round but crossed the line together. A recovering Rory was third.
Josie and Kat
Josie and Kat had found each other and finished seconds apart with Kat taking third lady in her first ultra. She said she was shattered but I am not so sure. Brett said there were no V50 women back yet but I was... so 5th F, 1st V50 and a nice bottle of wine. ( I told you the field  was smaller).
Before long I was cheering in Kevin, Nick and others. My ankle was sore but happy not to be on uneven surfaces now. Chats with friends, trying to make sure spot prizes were taken, more donuts and tea before we took the flags down and went off for our committee meeting. The Old Sun was closed  as they had tried to double the landlords rent so we went to the Old Silent where we met him again.
Not a bad day out in the end but my foot now seems to be bu**ered. I wonder whether the next races will happen- the Fellsman has already gone.
Update- went to bed knowing in my heart that our drive to Dover in the morning was not really going to happen. French Government have now closed all ski resorts, travel in France is being limited and travel to and in Spain even worse. Spent a depressing morning emptying the van of ski and climbing gear that has not travelled anywhere. An now the local climbing wall has closed and my foot is so sore I cannot go for a run on the hills.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Drifting into 2020

I have been running, just not as much as I hoped in terms of distances or frequency. I still cannot get my foot to mend properly and although it often seems OK there are some exercises it just won't do at all. So in between the running I have been doing massive litter picks on the flooded sides of our local canal and stream, helping a son to convert a campervan and some bike rides with Bob.
It has also been the second half of our very competitive winter Street O season. I did not have a great run in Lancaster as my legs were still tired from Pendle Way and my route choice was less than optimum. It will be one I discard. Adlington went much better and I was very happy with my route. I got wet and muddy but nothing like those who ventured across the fields in search of points. Won on age adjusted scores so happy with that. Boosted by this I did another street O the very next night. It meant travelling to Warrington so to make the drive worth while I stopped at IKEA first. This was my first trip for many many years and I was very restrained spending less than £25. I did not know the area at all but knew there would be lots of 'new' housing estates. It was just like Buckshaw but on steroids- lots of cul de sac estates, green areas and small woods with paths and all disconcertingly similar. I had quite a good run and despite a couple of minor panics when things didn't quite look as I expected my route was fairly sensible. I did get slightly lost in the NE corner and started running off the map but soon out this right. The map at 1:10,000 was nice and easy to read and I had no issues with traffic as the busy main roads had bridges. Won on age adjusted by a fair margin- they won't be wanting me back again and it's a shame the others in the series have been too far away really.
Sometime around now I also spent a few hours running around our local streets checking control sites for our end of season prize giving event. I am not a fan of urban running but this gives me a sense of purpose and it's amazing how many miles you can clock up, especially when you have to go to every control rather than being selective. Another local run allowed me to check the map and control sites for the schools orienteering event we put on as a qualifier for the Lancs School Games.
As we moved into March there was the last Street O for points in Wigan/ Winstanley. I keep all my old maps and was worried to find I had got lost in an open / park area last time- somewhere to avoid perhaps. Having been warned of a busy road to the east I set off north. I saw nobody after the first 10 minutes or so and while it  was nice to have no distractions it was also very disconcerting. I was happy with my choices and probably had as many options for points as going east, just that they were faster runners! 4th overall but points deflated by a storming Matt D. A huge % of runners were late back- perhaps they went through the dreaded open area? Tonight's prize giving street O is less serious and has a mass start. After a run today I thinking picking a route to avoid the head wind could be vital.
It hasn't all been urban.
More clumsy running- luckily not on race day
 Early February saw me return to the Anglezarke Amble. I run on the area often but have missed the race sometimes as we are away skiing. It's my local LDWA event of about 24-25 miles over all the local hills. Usually it is muddy and the weather can be pretty dire - it is February in Lancashire after all.There are always lots of friends there and this year was no exception. The weather was pretty good! I tried hard not to be dragged along too fast at the start knowing that I would pay for it as the hill got steeper.

First stop is Rivington Pike and then on to Winter Hill with the enormous TV mast.

I was a bit cautious on the drop to the Belmont Road  but my foot is slowly improving. The CP had moved to the end of the lane so no short cut over the gate this year. I had been running with Josie but she bailed to the shorter route now. Then the boggy section as we head over to the Turton-Bolton Road. The tussocky bit under the pylons was not as bad as I remembered and I was soon flying down to the reservoir CP. We were now fairly spread out but I was also caught by Isaline and then Maria and friend. They ran really hard up onto the moor and I thought it would be the last I saw of them.

 Once the gradient eased a little they never really pulled far ahead and by Darwen Tower and Slipper Lowe we were back together again. I grabbed a small amount of food but Isaline stopped for more. The pull up Great Hill was a killer in the mud but the run down the otherside is always good fun.

By White Coppice I had a lead. This meant pressure from there to the finish as Maria and friend were never far behind. Running with Daz helped " Don't let them catch you now". I was tired and said I didn't care, but really I did and so made the effort with constant glances over my shoulder as I ran alongside the last reservoirs and down the lane towards the finish. So first lady i think in 4.30. Happy with that and managed to stay just ahead of the three chasing me. Refuelled with stew, peaches and cups of tea I drove home to more van conversion with Chris.
I nearly missed the 10 Res's inaugral race as I thought it clashed with the Haworth Hobble; it was in fact a week earlier. Glorious weather on Thursday meant I went for a run on Bowland despite my tired legs after Wigan.  It was beautiful and as usual I saw almost nobody.

 I even had a brief sun bathing lunch stop by Langdon Brook.

I wanted to explore the  shooting tracks and link them up with wet quad tracks. I did- but then got carried away and before I knew it I was heading north down to Abbeystead.

Not good as my car was near Oakenclough on Delph Lane. I had promised to be back and thought Bob needed the car so decided to hitch the last few km to save road running. The first car stopped- what a lovely man, taking his huge car out to charge up the battery. Door to door service and an invite to call in for a brew next time I am up there. Sadly the next 10 mins went less well and my car lost power steering making for a very tiring drive home. For this reason I set off for 10 Res's and Saddleworth in the van.  I loved the area when we had the long O before the Runfurther Awards last November and was keen to try the tracks and paths now.
It looked like being a nice day out. There were a few faces I knew but most were strangers. The first few 100m were very steep but then it was fast running down to the reservoirs and along good tracks.  As we climbed towards the head of the next reservoir the track stopped and it was a pathless climb up through heather onto the moor. The boggy top led to the first road crossing and a CP with some supplies. I didn't stop as I had all I needed. The next section should have been great as it was mostly downhill but I have become a real wuss on greasy slabs and so actually lost time to others. Very frustrating. My inov8s grip well in mud but skid on the flagstones. Eventually we hit a wider track and I knew where I was- it was part of the White Rose ultra route climbing to the road where I had the terrible hail storm once. Another CP but again I didn't stop. By now the weather was changing and it was a fierce wind. The climb up Black Hill wasn't too bad and the flagstones here seemed less greasy - or perhaps it was because we were going up now. Towards the top there was some firm snow but not much. The top was what I had expected  more of- boggy moorland and peat. I had one scare in a bog and was stuck for a couple of minutes. I was now suddenly cold, and soaked from the thighs down. I stopped and put cag and gloves on. Chris D caught me here as did another lady. The section down to Crowden was gnarly and not easy for me. we made it even worse with a nav error. Grr. by the CP I just wanted to make up lost time and so forgot about the promise of beer and whisky. I could still see 2nd lady. We climbed over a big lump where I had a control in November and then headed along the good path to Laddow Rocks. As we turned off and steeply uphill here we caught Mark D and 1st lady who had lost her partner. Chris, Mark and I tried to race on the best we could- it was hard work along the big reservoir. Even when we hit the tarmac and downhill it was an effort and both men pulled ahead.  I could still see the lady ahead but thought it unlikely I could catch her. On the last lane I spotted the other lady who had been in the lead. I was actually pleased she had caught me up and we ran down to the finish together. 3rd and first old lady.- a lovely pint glass as my reward.

I knew I needed to get back home to more van work so after a cup of tea and a mug of soup I said my farewells. We all made it closer to 26 miles than 24!

 Sadly I returned to the car to find I had left the lights on and the battery was totally dead. Between them the landlady and Chris D came to my rescue and despite his car being tiny we did get the van started in the end. What a numpty. Sunday was spent marshalling the 'book' CP in Roddlesworth woods for another event.

 It gave me 5 hours on and off to do physio exercises and try to ease my foot which was not happy after my efforts on Saddleworth Moors.

Next up the Hobble. I suspect it will be a suffer fest for me. I think I might be getting a bit bored with it too, so perhaps my last one for a while.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Pendle Way in a Day

A new race to kick off the Runfurther season. 42ish miles of fun from Barrowford. This route officially opened in 1987 so it's rather surprising that his taken until a couple of years ago to have a race along it. I am lucky enough to live nearby and so I was able to do some reccee runs and make sure I would know the way and what to expect. I had visited Wycoller and Pendle many times but parts of the route were totally new to me.

Mt recce runs over the Christmas holidays with a very damaged foot were slow but fun days out in good weather. I could run the even ground but suffered badly on the rest. What really stuck in my memory was the mud. Come 1st Feb I was wondering how much I would be able to run and how much grief my foot would give me. A late Street O run around West Houghton on the Wednesday suggested my foot was steadily improving even if not fully mended.
I was first to arrive at the Heritage Centre in Barrowford and as I was putting the flags up by headtorch the warden arrived to open up the premises. Jamie the RO arrived a few minutes later ready for registration to open at 6am.

I handed over mint cake, put up the final banner and then erected the display boards and laid out prizes with the help of Dick. It wasn't long before friends started arriving and there was plenty of time to socialise before our 8am start.

It was chilly but not really cold. The forecast was for strong winds for much of the day and then as these died down for some light rain to move in. I am dreadful for fearing cold and so started with two thin base layers, long tights and a cag. I was too warm for much of the day but never seemed to find time to do more than open the zip and push up the sleeves. With about 10 minutes to go we were herded outside and spot on time we were off. I knew the first path was narrow and so went off a little faster than I had intended. It was good to know the way and not to have to faff with maps or route descriptions. I was even able to shout helpful instructions to others. I could see Lorraine up ahead but knew not to try to keep up with her, in fact at this stage I was a bit bothered to find that Tim C and Martin T were only just ahead of me. The first section was relatively flat by the stream and then just a gradual climb to Admergill. We could see the Tower on Blacko as we started our climb up to Weets and across to our left looking tantalisingly close was Pendle - it would be almost 30 miles before we climbed up that mass. From Weets it is a lovely descent to Barnoldswick (Barlick). I was still not sure I could trust my foot and so took it steady. The forecast wind had arrived but was at this stage on our backs. Just as you are about to enter the village there is a funny little dink to show you the local history- hard to believe it once had over 30 weaving sheds and a big steam mill.

Then a short road section led us up and over Letcliffe Hill before dropping down the other side to the canal. I am not usually a fan of tow path running but this canal twists, has a road crossing and a bridge where the tow path switches sides and some locks and boats so the 3 miles passed very quickly and allowed us to up our mph (a buffer that would be useful later).

As I was faffing with food I met a lady walker who was trying to tell us all we were going the wrong way? I think she knew a short cut and didn't understand our route- I tried to explain as I was worried she might cause others to divert. The field path to the Rolls Royce factory and main road was muddy but much better than it had been in December!

At the church I was surprised to find people running in all directions as they had missed the turning just before the cemetery and so I guided runners across the golf course and then the very wet fields towards Earby. Some easy running led us to the first CP just above the YHA.

Adrienne was manning the CP from the boot of her car and I felt a little mean not stopping to chat. Mill Lane was fine and the fields afterwards were drier than I remembered. We were now quite spread out with a couple of faster runners suddenly rushing past. Chris C appeared as we neared Harden Clough and the moors that would drop us to the pub and another short section on lanes and we ran together for a while chatting. Claire was just ahead. I like the next section as we climb to near the trig point and then steadily drop to Laneshaw Bridge and I was starting to trust my foot more. Chris steadily pulled away but I was reeling Claire in. It meant I was tired when I reached the second CP at Wycoller but I was pleased with my progress.

 I grabbed some food and water before climbing to the lower sections of Dove Stones Moor. I had to shout Claire onto the correct path and I know of at least one other runner who went awol here. I do wonder how many took the Bronte Way shortcut too- perhaps a self clip needle punch is needed as you turn onto the big track on the moor. I was having a nice time with my memories- we had orienteered at Wycoller when the boys were still tiny.
The next section in theory should be great running but today it was straight into the westerly wind and what a head wind! We were now passing runners on the 30 mile route and all were finding it tough to make forward progress.

Around here I started running with Steve and I must admit it helped pull me along. The trade off was that I knew the way and so could keep us on track. It seemed to take ages to cut across below Boulsworth Moor but eventually we could see the Coldwell reservoirs and our path left the Pennine Bridleway as we headed on lanes past the Outdoor Ed Centre and on to our third CP. The mud as we approached Catlow was dreadful and the workmen insisted we got the full glory by going to the footbridge and avoiding their digger.

 I was glad to wash my feet in the ford afterwards. I had made an error just before the quarry on my reccee but today I got it right and we were soon dropping to Walverden Reservoir before the short steep climb up the other side. I was sure Steve would pull away here but I was still with him as we crossed the road and headed to the golf course. He was faster on the good path but then I caught him as he was a little indecisive on the rough ground. ' Head for the red dog waste bin!' The next section is the least interesting as you use suburban street to drop through Brierfield and then over the railway and the canal.

 More memories here of a term working at Edge End school- ugh. The wooden board walk following the river Calder must be the rotting remains of the original from the 1980s. Runners on the 30 mile were picking their way through but I had long given up worrying about water, mud an dry feet. Neal and I were now both looking forward to the CP at Higham and I knew I needed to refuel.

We chatted about campervans and life as we crossed the fields to Pendle Hall and then up the bridleway to Higham.

The CP was a bit crowded, possibly due to the 'bar'. I had a cup of tea and tried to stuff some food down. As we left the CP the forecast rain arrived and I was glad of my cag. The wind was a little less but it felt colder now. Steve pulled ahead and then I lost sight of him altogether. Luckily as I  took the path to Tynedale farm House I spotted him in fields below and shouted to him.

We plodded on to Newchurch together.

No time to admire the witches today, instead we headed off up and over to the Ogden Reservoirs. I was struggling a bit and Steve pulled away never to be seen again as he finished 12 minutes ahead of me in the end. My foot was a bit sore for the first time as I sent down through Fell Wood. More memories- of a small child scared to enter the woods in case there were bears! It was very tempting to turn right and drop into Barley as we met the reservoir road but today we had Pendle to climb first.

I overtook a group of what I guess were 30 milers and began to climb into the mist/ low cloud.  I was pleased to find that what I had described to Dick and another runner was accurate- small stone way markers after the kissing gate. I know this route pretty well but I must have been going slowly as it seemed to take forever to reach the trig point!
Thanks to KJ Birch for photo
 I was even having doubts I was going the right way although I knew I had to be really. The weather up here was not pleasant and the 'stones' they have tipped over the paths are not an improvement for runners with sore feet!

I happily dropped to the runners trod and was soon descending out of the cloud and down to Barley. I was amazed to find some walkers on their way up. It was late afternoon, grim, with no prospect of a view and it would soon be getting dark? Even more worrying was the family with young children at the foot of the cobbled steps. They didn't even have waterproofs.  I suggested it might not be fun and ran off through the village to the CP in the village hall. I let myself be sucked in my the warmth and promise of toast and tea. I possibly 'wasted' 10 minutes.

 I knew from here it could only be about 3 miles or so and wondered how far I could get without my head torch. Steve was gone but Neal appeared and he was moving well. I made a determined effort to stick with him or at least try to hang on the best I could. More memories as we climbed to Whitehough Outdoor Ed Centre- the nights I have spent there with kids on DoE! I was irritated by the runner who had cheated and taken the field path down by the river and then presumably the lanes. Another needle punch needed.

I managed to keep Neal insight down to Roughlee, over the stepping stones and over the last little hill before he got away from me on the very very wet fields that followed. at least they were short and then it was track and lanes all the way down to Barrowford, into the park and back to the Heritage Centre. I did put my head torch on for the wet fields but could probably have managed without, just.
A great day out and a very tough 42 miles. I suspect every year will be muddy but the headwind made it worse. It was good to sit and refuel- beer, tea, sandwiches and cake.

 Dick had bailed at 25 miles and so had beaten me back David C and Kevin both had storming runs and finished together. Lorraine beat me by almost an hour.

 BUT I was happy- I had finished, my foot wasn't too bad at all and I had enjoyed my day out.


Another beer and lots of chat and I realised it was time to take the flags down and get home.

There were still runners out there but they did not need me and nobody would miss the flags in the dark- I hoped.

Sorry to Janet, Ian and other late finishers.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Review of 2019

Prompted by John Kyntson's review I thought it might be worth having a look. It seems it was a satisfying but mixed year with more and more injuries as I get older.
First off was a race in NZ - St James southern Alps miler (100 miles) which was my first ever ultra DNF with a medical issue at 52 miles. It was the correct decision to bale but it took 48 hours of tears and a week before I was over it.
Back in the UK I was asked to make up a scratch team for the High Peak marathon- another adventure into the unknown. It was brilliant and our team were fairly evenly matched so it was good fun .. well except perhaps for a few stretches on Bleaklow.
At Lakes Mountain 42 I had a reasonably good run considering how little I had run over our winter in NZ when we were busy with big walks and kayaking. There was only one small return of the 'not a hernia' pain under my ribs and 4th F was OK.
Calderdale Hike would follow the same route as the previous year and so I knew the way. Sabrina was there and it was good to see a younger female challenging for the Runfurther award. She would have been much more then 30 mins ahead of me if she had known the way. As it was the day was glorious and I finished inside 7 hours.
Next up was the Fellsman- my 7th at the race. I always enjoy this event even if at times it makes me suffer. I managed 3rd F and we got the old people's team prize! Unfortuntaley it left me with a very fat ankle by the next day.

A fortnight later and all seemed good as we rocked up for our first attempt at The Spire Ultra. I ran some of it with Daryl and I am sure this was in part responsible for my good time.It was an interesting and varied route and at just under 6 hours for 32 miles was probably a PB of sorts.
A fortnight later was the LDWA Hadrian 100. Another first for me although I will be looking at future LDWA 100s too. Despite the pretty awful weather over night where we went over Cross Fell and then High Cup Nick I survived. It was good to have Matt N for comapny and to help with the nav. The biggest issue for me was macerated feet that were well on the way to trench foot. Only a 3hr plus break to dry them would help and I wasn't prepared to sit around that long. It was painful  but I managed 2nd F and 5th overall with 24hrs 43 mins for the 100 miles.
June was busy with the SMM/LAMM replacement where Rowena and I had a good run and we only narrowly missed being 1st vets M and F by 11 seconds over the two days.
Collecting in the controls after a low key orienteering event on Beacon Fell somehow did some serious damage to the outer side of my ankle and then up the front of my foot into the shin. I have no idea how and do not remember any fall/slip/ or jarring. I still managed the Lakeland 5 Passes but it was sore and not my best run even if I did manage 4th F and 1st FV50. Again great to see Hayley winning and getting points for Runfurther. A week later was Pennine 39 and I was secretly pleased that many who I sometimes try to run with or keep up with were not there. I went into the race with a very relaxed attitude and it seemed to pay off. A PB of spot on 7 hours. My foot was fine until the next day. Sometime i the next days I tried to recee the 3 Towers Ultra and caused a serious issue with my foot/shin. It ended in tears and I truely thought I might have to call mountain rescue.  I did have to get Bob to come and get me.
I was very anxious about the SLMM this year as the Klets had been axed and I had entered the Scafell along with all the elite men, plus my foot was not totally repaired. It was a very tough weekend with 10 hours and 9 hours of big climbs and long distances. Luckily I had Richard for company for almost all of Day 2. By the end I had a sore ankle tendon again but luckily also a sizeable gap before the next race.
The Beacons 100 in early August should have been wonderful. I did several recee run/walks in the week before it and the weather was fantastic. As we stood on the start line on Friday at 8pm the rain started. A night of steady rain, clag and gales followed. Nav was difficult in such conditions and by the time I got to CP 3 I was exhausted and scared. I carried on but once up near Cribyn the wind was even worse and I was struggling to crawl on all fours. I made the decision to bail and head off to soft ground with no rocks. It meant hitting the road a few miles south of the Storey Arms but I did not care. At that point I was in a good position and 2nd lady. I arrived at CP4 to find 1st F had also bailed and an hour later mountain rescue pulled the plug on the race anyway. Such a shame for the runners and the RO. So now 2 DNFs in one year.
I escaped to Europe and sunshine. After 4 weeks of climbing and via feratta it was time for the longest race I have ever attempted- the Tor des Geants. With almost 340km and close on 28000m of climb I knew it would be hard and more of a challenge than a race. I had wanted to enter something that I was not 100% sure that I could finish. I was stressed about how little I had run in recent weeks but perhaps it was a good taper. It was tough  and in the worst of the weather I was also struggling with food and sick but after that things improved again and I loved the race. Running sections with Andy H and Matt N was good fun and the views were amazing. . The last morning was glorious and I loved every minute. A finish in 121 hrs 21 mins was only a bit outside my gold target so I was very happy.
After another fortnight of sun, climbing and VF we returned to the UK. Just in time for the 3 Towers Ultra. Another new race for me. The first miles were dark and a complete mystery to me but luckily I had company and made few errors. I was glad I had receed the sections over near Bury and was pleased with my run. Fiona appeared after Pilgrims Cross (she had got lost) and although she initially sped off I was pleased to only finish about 4 minutes behind her.
The last race on the Runfurther calendar was Round Rotherham again. Sabrina was racing because if she didn't and I won it could mean she would not win the Runfurther lady's trophy after all. She didn't enjoy it which is a shame. It is not scenic like the Lakes but only a few bits are truly grim and the rest is pleasant enough and with great CPs and marshalls. Ellie beat me this year (although only by about a minute; if only I had known) so I was 3rd F and 1st FV50.
Late October saw the Street O league start plus a journey to Scotland for the OMM. The terrain was dreadful but Rowena and I still enjoyed our weekend away and managed 2nd F place on the podium and also 1st V. Another first saw me do 2 OMMs in a fortnight. I travelled to japan with Richard and we had a blast. Lots of sight seeing but a very successful OMM too. We made a judgement call to move from Elite to A. After learning what worked on the terrain on Day 1 where were finished 3rd we had a fantastic Day 2 coming 1st overall. We ended in 2nd place, just and came away with masses of Yen to spend on OMM products.
This left 3 big events for the remainder of the year. I had picked the Kong mini MM to be the event preceding the Runfurther AGM and I had a wonderful morning out on the Saddleworth Moors.  My nav was pretty good, I hooked up with Mark who pulled me faster than I would otherwise have gone and I got masses of points. Very satisfying.
The year had a theme.. find challenges outside your comfort zone. Next up was The Hill. Mark C has a reputation for events where almost nobody finishes and this was to be no different.  44 laps of around 4 miles to complete 160 miles in 48 hours. It seemed so possible on paper even with food stops. It was a new venue as the Cat and Fiddle is shut and last years attempt in the 3 Peaks had iced up. A wet quad bike track was our route for over half the laps. It was wet when we arrived. After 20 odd runners had been up and down it all night it became a bog fest. Over half the field bailed over night (we started on Fri eve) and by Saturday lunch time we were very few. The weather except for 2 hours of wet sleet on Friday night was pretty good. Not super cold and dry. It was windy though. The whole field are DNF! I don't feel I failed though. The line was not runnable so I made the decision to concentrate on a half Hill of 22 laps in 24 hours. When I stopped I was 3rd man standing and the other two bailed not many hours later.

 By morning my right foot was huge and several bits on the outer side of it were incredibly painful. Oops. It went down but the sore bits were still sore. Local runs on flat tarmac showed I could still run after a fashion. Last race was Tour de Helvellyn which I love. I had no idea how far I would get but set off to see. I was ridiculously cautious on the descents and rough ground but pacing myself seemed to work well. I never felt totally shot and despite a tumble on the return loop to Askham Common I managed a PB of 7.55. I have never been under 8 hours before and the conditions were probably the best yet.My joy was short lived and completing the race has not helped my foot/ankle at all. Doing RED in Dec was not the best idea either.
Strava shows 551 hrs and 3313km of running with 183 personal records. The graphs shows a very unbalanced year but I guess months in NZ, climbing etc most of the summer mean it was not just running that got my time.

 I have started 2020 injured and reduced to easy climbing and cycle rides in the hope that it will improve enough for me to make the most of my plans for the year.

Feb 1st Pendle Way in a Day (new race)
March 7th 10 Reservoirs (new race)
March 14th Haworth Hobble?
3 weeks of ski and sunny climbing
April 4th Calderdale Hike
April 18th Northern Traverse
April 25th Fellsman- probably marshalling!
May 9th The Spire
Madiera?
May 24th LDWA 100
June SMM?
June 27th Lakeland 5 Passes
July SLMM
July 11th Pennine 39
july 25th Lakeland 100 a new one for me
August 7th Beacons 100? a score to settle
Aug GRP? Monte Rosa??
Sept White Horse??
Oct 3rd £Towers Ultra
Oct 10th Round Rotherham (would be my 10th)
Oct OMM
have not really thought about Nov and Dec yet.
Happy running and don't forget to up the challenge.