Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Thirlmere Loop

Me and Hester (and Harry) absolutely love running around Thirlmere in the Lake District, especially in the autumn with all the tree colours and whatnot. The route is a nice and easy, if a bit rocky and tree rooty, 11 miles altogether to which, yesterday, we added small climbs up Great How and Launchy Gill to the Tottling Stone. Oh and afterwards it was off to Ambleside for a cuppa and sandwich at Sheila's Cottage. A jolly fine way to spend a Saturday.

Into the woods...


Looking down on Thirlmere from Great How

The Lake District is one big Harry playground

Hmmm... it might let the water in a bit

H and H playing on the beach

I think Harry is staring at a stick that he wants me to throw


One of many mountain streams feeding into the lake

Hester's real good at puddle pictures!

The master and his loyal hound

Harry galloping up Launchy Gill


Thirlmere viewed from the track up to the Tottling Stone

Harry hunkered down

For a tottling stone it sure isn't very tottley 

Looking back at Hester beside the Tottling Stone

Yellow Autumn

Squint your eyes a little and you could almost be in Canada

Harry loving the run

Peek a boo

Cutting a corner 

I was ready with the camera just in case Hester fell over in the river


Ze route

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A chilled out weekend - Ingleborough, waterfalls, lime kilns and leaping salmon

To be truthful I was feeling a bit knackered and battered this weekend so, yesterday, me and Haz ran a gentle 10 mile loop up Ingleborough from Austwick, going up via Norber and Nick Pot and back via Little Ingleborough and Gaping Gill. 

And today me, Hester and Haz probably ran no more than 4 miles from Stainforth, looping up to Catrigg Force, Upper Winskill, back down towards Langcliffe before cutting back towards Stainforth via the Hoffman Kiln at the old Craven Lime Works. Oh and we then pottered down to Stainforth Foss to watch the salmon leaping. 

All in all a cracking weekend of not very much running then

Our route up Ingleborough

Norber ahoy!

Harry picking a rock up with his teeth

A handy Harry bath, with Pen y Ghent on the horizon

Ingleborough with Simon Fell to the right

Harry scaling the side of Ingleborough

Looking back at our descent from Little Ingleborough

This is Harry speak, telling me to splash through that puddle


The Ingleborough 'massif' (with Harry of course)

Dark clouds over Pen y Ghent and Fountains Fell

Catrigg Force this morning

Stick time

Harry accelerating out of the picture

Where's Wally?

Hoffman Kiln

An autumnal Hoffman kiln from the outside

Harry swimming up stream

A salmon swimming up stream at Stainforth Foss

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lakes in a Day

So last Saturday was 'Lakes in a Day' day and, having signed up for the inaugural running of this ultra distance event absolutely yonks ago, me, Hester and Gavin were kind of concerned immediately before the kick off, stood outside the Oddfellows Arms in Caldbeck, as to exactly how we'd get on - it felt (to me anyway) like the event had snuck up on us and that we hadn't given it nearly enough attention beforehand, leaving all our race research and gear getting togethering to the very last minute. Benjamin Franklin's line "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail" seemed ominously appropriate at that point in time.

That said the '48 mile' route (which actually turned out to be 51.2 miles the way we ran it) with 4,000 meters of ascent looked absolutely stunning in the fly by on the Lakes in a Day web page, with the race starting in Caldbeck at the very top of the Lake District and finishing in Cartmell at the very bottom, and completely splitting lakeland right down the middle in the process.

More to the point the route of the race didn't look like it took any prisoners or easy lines either, what with the first 11 miles hacking over High Pike and Blencathra and down the steep Hall's Fell ridge to Threlkeld for the first food station, the next 19 miles then going straight up Clough Head and fully along the Hellvellyn ridge line (going over the peaks of Great Dodd*, Raise, White Side, Helvellyn Little Man and Helvellyn in the process) to Grisedale Tarn before climbing up Fairfield and dropping down the eastward ridge of the Fairfield Horseshoe to Ambleside for the second food stop, <takes deep breath> with then just the small matter of a further 21 miles of slick, rocky and tree-rooty forest trails from there all the way down the length of Windermere and beyond to Cartmell. Just to add salt to the wound the last 14 miles of this final section for us was done in the dark.

* The actual route didn't require us to go over the top of Great Dodd but we did go over the top on the day, never-the-less.

The other fantastic thing about this race was that, in addition to all the runners carrying dibbers to ping at each food stop to confirm they'd been through, we were all carrying gps trackers too that could be followed on-line and, even better, projected on big screens at each food station and at the finish. Given that the navigation of the race was pretty tough too, especially in the woods after dark, it was great entertainment to look at the master screen and see just where all the runners were and where they were going. Most to be fair were bang on the line but some poor souls seemed scattered all over the shop. I can see the carrying of gps trackers really taking off with lots of races now, particularly the ultra distance events. I don't know how long this link will be open for but at the minute you can view the tracks of all runners here (I'm runner 202).

Anyway the race was brilliantly brilliant as it turns out. Tough as nails but brilliant. Hester, Gavin and I all ran together and we all had a good laugh on the way round too. Hester had a 'few' issues on the tricky descent down Hall's Fell but, other than that, we like to think we all did very well and finished relatively comfortably in 15 hours and 50 minutes. Putting that time in perspective, that put us just in the top half of the 150-ish race finishers and in the top third of the field, if you take into account that approximately 225 runners started. The winning time was 10 hours 37 minutes which nicely demonstrates just how tough the race route was - the winning time this year's The Lakeland 50, run in July, was by way of contrast 7 hours 48 minutes, almost 3 hours quicker! I'd say that the Lakeland 50, which Hester has run twice (her best time being 11:42), is a tough 50 mile trail race whilst Lakes in a Day is a tough 30 mile fell race immediately followed by a tough 20 mile trail race. A full on beast of an ultra race then.

The Lakes in a Day photo story can be found here (look out for me, number 202, in one of the pictures) and, if you want to sign up for next year's race set for 10th October 2015, be quick as entries open on 20th October. Me and Hester are already deffos for next year and I'm sure Gav will be too

Its neck and neck for the three amigos......... with 50 miles to go

Hester being annoyingly perky after just half a mile

The trudge up the first hill, High Pike, with Caldbeck fast disappearing behind

The sun now starting to burst through after a rain shower

Hester crossing the "bridge" over the Caldew

Blencathra ahoy!

Gav and Hester "peaking" on Blencathra

Descending Hall's Fell

Hester and Gavin having survived 'the dodgy bit' on Hall's Fell

Starting the 'brilliant' climb up Clough Head with Blencathra hidden in the clouds behind

Thirlmere appearing below

Cracking views Gromit

Hester at the top of Raise 

The rest of the team running the Helvellyn ridge

Billy no mates

Thirlmere still below

Hes on the top of Helvellyn Little Man now

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs

The team slogging up Fairfield

Gavin turning the corner of the Fairfield Horseshoe - its all downhill from here

Looking towards the opposite ridge of the horseshoe

Windermere ahoy!

I'm winning the team at this point

Looking back towards Ambleside and the Fairfield Horseshoe (middle of the horizon) as the sun goes down

Stolly and Hester finishing in Cartmel

Gav dibbing while I pull a 'I've been flipping running for 15 hrs and 50 minutes' face