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Hardmoors 110 Ultra

by on Jun.04, 2012, under Race Reports

What a day, lost my car in the center of Manchester & had to carry Miles for 3 hours with Ruby & Scarlett in tow down what seemed like every side road looking for it. We even had the police & traffic wardens looking. When I asked a policeman if he could help he said “hang on a second while I get the special car finding kit from the back of the patrol car” very bloody droll!

Found it when one of the traffic wardens said he’d put a ticket on a silver Range Rover, 2 miles away! He said he’d never seen anyone cheer when they got a ticket before. By the time we’d walked the last 2 miles I was exhausted.

We got back late & had to drive the 150 miles to the start of the Hardmoors 110. On the way I realized I’d left my hydration bladder at home & had to run round town looking for a shop. The first 2 shops were out of stock but luckily the last one had them. We eventually made it to the start of the race an hour late.

At the 50 mile point my watch gave up, I forgot to charge it before the start & didn’t know how far I was from each checkpoint. Finished the 110 mile race so tired I’d forgotten why I was there, near the end.

I’m not going to do a race report as they’re done by so many now it’s a bit boring. The main points of the race are, it’s very beautiful & scenic with about 18,000ft of climbing, the first half is up & down hills & the second along a stunning coastal route. I didn’t count the steps but it must be in the thousands. One point alone has 200. If you like a challenge this could be your race. I’d say it’s on a par with the Lakeland 100 as far as difficulty goes.

Very well organized by Jon & the team who did a fantastic job of making sure we all got round safely.


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Hoka Mafate Unisex Trail Shoes £130

by on Feb.18, 2012, under Kit Reviews


too bright? they do others

I’ve been looking forward to trying these new Hoka shoes. It seems everyone is raving about how good they are & to be honest I had my doubts. They look like some Hi-Tec trainers I had in the 70’s for a start, not like proper running shoes. I normally wear Brooks Adrenalin GTS, they have a good balance of durability, fit & stability. The Hoka’s seem to have no built-in stability & instead rely on the depth of the sole which your foot sits into to stop your foot from twisting.

Cushioning & comfort

This seems like a new concept & it seems to work. The first time I ran in them I didn’t notice the massive amount of cushioning others had mentioned. Maybe this was my weight (12st) or maybe it was my running style (or lack of it). I tend to run more on the middle to front part of my foot on my long runs & only use heel striking on faster 10k type runs & speed sessions. On the faster (heel striking) runs I do feel the extra cushioning over my Brooks. As your foot rolls forward though I think the cushioning effect lessens. One thing you will notice though is the small sizes, I needed a 81/2 & normally take an 8. Even with an extra half-size they still rub slightly on the ends of my toes. I got the unisex version though as these were the only ones available then. I’ll update this review when I get another pair for testing. I do a lot of off-road and trail running & have noticed the Hoka’s are very good at keeping the stones out. This could be down to the height of the sole or the design. I also noticed I’m kicking the sides of the shoes a lot less than I would in other trainers. I checked the width of the Hoka’s along with some of my other shoes & they aren’t as wide as I though, the only place they are wider is in the middle where it won’t matter as much. The fronts don’t stick out as much where your feet would hit, if that makes any sense.

The ultimate test of a pair of trainers is over a long ultra so I’ll update this report after the Thames path 100, see how they do with 100 miles none stop running.


after 300 miles

I thought they would fall apart pretty soon after taking them on the moors around my home, the mud generally kills a pair of trainers in around 300-400 miles. Even on the road I don’t keep them for over 500 miles which sounds like a lot but during training I do this mileage in a month. After 300 miles in the Hoka’s they’re still very good & look like they could easily do another 200 miles. They do have some wear on the soles but have plenty left. As far as the quality of the shoe goes they are equal if not better than a lot of the well-known brands, which for a new manufacturer is very impressive.

heel wear


The shop I bought my pair from gave me a decent discount which worked out at around £25 & threw in a very nice shoe bag to keep them in. I paid £96 for them which is a lot of money for a pair of trainers. My favorite Brooks cost around £80 a pair. Whether you think they’re worth the extra is your call, I wont be buying them on a regular basis but for races where the extra comfort plays a part they may be worth it. I do like the style & look of them though, maybe not in the colour I got though,

Second thoughts

Having used the Hoka’s  over 80 miles at the weekend & having to finish the 100 mile race at 80 miles due to a knee injury & losing a couple of nails I’ve removed a couple of marks from the final score as I think at least some of the injury is directly attributable to the Hoka’s. At the front of these shoes in the middle is a ridge of hard material which over long distance comes into contact with your toes. Eventually this rubbing gave me blisters and pulled two of my nails off. This is the first time I’ve ever had to finish a race due to injury so I feel this is a fair assessment of the shoes.

I try to be as honest as possible in these reviews as you never know someone may make a buying decision after reading a review. I feel the Hoka’s would be a good shoe for someone who just runs a few miles but to run any distance I’ll be sticking with my Brooks Adrenaline.

whats good?

high quality

very good comfort

keep small stones out

whats bad?

small fitting

take some getting used to

knee injury and lost a couple of nails over 80 miles

whats ugly?

the price £130!



Happy Running!



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Building the miles

by on Feb.18, 2012, under Blog

It’s been a busy last few weeks for me in preparation for my return to ultra-running. I’ve spent most of my time doing longish runs along the Leeds to Liverpool canal. It’s been quite eventful as I’ve been chased by dogs & near the end of one of my runs a group of young lads tried to mug me for my iPod & watch (I must have looked rougher than normal!)

I’ve been mostly injury free apart from slipping a disk in my back a couple of weeks ago after a dog chased me & grabbed hold of the back of my jacket. I twisted around to knock it off & slipped a disk. I left the owner in no doubt about the way I felt about him.  It’s still giving me some jip but hopefully it will sort itself out because I’m running 100 miles along the Thames path in a couple of weeks.

My weight has been going down fast after going on a 1,000 calories a day diet. I wouldn’t recommend this as  a healthy way to lose weight but I’d been overeating for the past year & to be honest left it too late to do it any other way. I started on January the 1st at 13st 10 lbs & am now at 12st 1 lbs so hopefully I will meet my 11st  6lbs target in two weeks ready for my race.

I don’t do much tapering & do my last long run about 3 days before the 100 miles race. I know this isn’t the accepted way but I tend not to pick up injuries & it works well for me. The most important part of my preparation is working out my food and water strategy. I always have a main plan if all goes well & a fallback plan if it doesn’t. That way barring a serious injury I can finish even if I have a bad race.

It’s been great getting back onto the moors around my home over the past few weeks as my fitness has improved, this is where I feel most at ease running. I like running the hills & it’s great strength training.

Looking forward to the Thames Path 100 which will be my first time running of this race.  I have run parts of the Thames before on the Thames Trot & Country to Capital ultras. It’s a great place to run and almost flat. The only thing I’m struggling with at the moment is my core stability, it’s been hard doing my usual sit-ups with a slipped disk so I’m looking at other core exercises to do.

Happy Running!

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A fresh start

by on Jan.22, 2012, under Blog

As of January 1st I’ve started afresh with my running having done nothing for about 6 months. I entered a race which will push me to the limits and given myself 12 weeks to train for it. I started at 13st 10lbs on the 1st of January & couldn’t run a mile. One week of training got me running 17 miles then 26 & this week 31 miles. I’ve also been doing 8+ mile runs most nights & cut out all the junk food & most of the wine! My weight is now at 12st 4lbs, I’d like to be around the 11st mark for the race so some way to go.

Most of my long runs have been along the Leeds to Liverpool canal as it’s only 4 miles from my house and a nice place to run. I hope to run the full length from Darwen to Liverpool a couple of weeks before my race as a last training run before I taper down. I’ll try to keep this diary updated as and when I get time, if only as a way of keeping a diary of my training.

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Race Report “Montane Lakeland 100” 23rd-25th July 2010

by on Jan.22, 2012, under Race Reports

The organizers of this race wanted it to be directly comparable with the  Ultra Tour du Mont-Blanc® hence the actual distance of 104 miles. I got to the  race start point at John Ruskin school about 2 hours before the off & met Neil Bryant & Steve Gordon, friends from JOGLE.


The race organizers gave us a very detailed map & a road book (all waterproof) and we all had to attend a pre race briefing before we were allowed to start. This included a talk by running legend Joss Naylor MBE. He talked about some of his running achievements including running 84 miles in around 9 hours off road! We also got a very nice Montane technical t-shirt before the start of the race which was at 5:30pm on Friday. The race used the “Si system” to check into each of the 14 points along the route, so we had accurate timings for all our CP’s.

As we lined up for the start I suddenly realized I hadn’t dibbed in my timing chip before we set off so I had to go right to the back of the line-up and dib in, great start. As the race started we slowly made our way out onto the road and up the first hill. This first section included 2,100 feet of climbing and a 1,950 decent. I ran the first 15 miles with Neil & we chatted about previous ultras we’d done together. We soon reached the first checkpoint at Seathwaite village hall, filled our water up & went on our way, food in hand. I try not to spend any time at the checkpoints as later on you can get tempted into staying too long.

The next section was Seathwaite to Boot with a climb of 1,165 feet & descending 1,345 feet. I soon found out that each section of about 6+ miles was to be like a fell race. The weather was good on the first day with no rain and quite warm. I stayed with Neil for about 15 miles & then settled into my own pace. Before long I’d reached CP 3 at Wasdale Head just as the light had started to fail, I decided this would be a good time to break out my head torch just before the next climb of 2,437 feet up Wasdale Head followed by a 2,306 foot decent. I also put on another Buff to keep my neck warm as it was starting to get a bit chilly despite all the climbing. This was a hot food CP also so I had some soup to keep me warm. On the way up Wasdale head we spotted a few fireflies flying round the ferns, I’d never seen them before. It seemed like quite a climb to the top maybe it was the dark or just staring at the pool of light from my head-torch but it seemed to take a long time to reach the top. I was glad to see the next CP 4 at the village hall in Buttermere, as I approached the door I got a cheer from the support team which was nice. On the inside we could have some more soup & a roll, I just had some soup and re-filled my water pack. On my way out I could hear a runner telling the organizers he’s had enough & wanted to quit, it was going to be a long night. I’d now covered almost a marathon, 25 miles done & only 79 miles to go!

The next section was Buttermere to Braithwaite which would be another 2,440ft climb & 2,539ft decent. By this time I’d been running on my own for a few hours & was glad to catch up to 3 runners ahead I said “Hi” but they didn’t answer, they looked very tired as we ran up yet another mountain. I tucked in behind as the path we were on was very narrow with a very big drop down one side and a steep climb on the other. The path was covered with ferns and you couldn’t see the stones underneath, the guy in front of me kept tripping up and falling. I was worried he may fall down the drop but somehow he always managed to miss it. After a while they moved over and let me pass, the guy in front said they were all falling asleep! I could see some more runners up ahead & thought I’d see if I could catch them. As I got nearer I realized I’d not looked at my SatMap for a while & decided to check I was still on the right path, I wasn’t! I’d been too busy trying to catch the others I’d forgot to check my course. I was only a few hundred yards off where I should have been but it almost ended my race. I’d come to a very steep section of rock and ran halfway down towards the other runners when I realized my mistake. This meant having to retrace my steps back up in the dark, it was very hard to get my head around having to climb another 1,000 feet for nothing. As I reached the top again I saw another runner who pointed to the runners on the other side of the river & said he doubted they’d make the next checkpoint in time & were probably out of the race. That was a close one, we ran together to CP 5 at Braithwaite & chatted on the way. This was nice as it had been a while since I’d spoken to anyone. Eventually we reached Braithwaite at 33 miles, this was one of the better checkpoints and they had biscuits, coffee, tea, rice pudding etc. I filled up and set off again just as dawn broke, it’s always nice when you see the sun starting to rise on a new day.

On my way to CP 6 Blencathra at 42 miles it came light & my thoughts turned to how long I still had to run, it was difficult to think I still had another full day & night to go in this race! I ran alone again for a few hours before seeing anyone. This is when things can start to go downhill mentally as your left alone with your thoughts. As I approached yet another mountain climb I saw 2 runners up ahead, they stopped for a while as I ran past and we exchanged a few words. As the hill got steeper we passed each other a few more times. Just as I thought I’d got passed they sped up & passed me again. We were running at a very similar pace so I tagged along. As it happens this was a good move, Nigel had done the 100 the previous year & Hannah the 50 so they both had a good idea of the rout. As we chatted I discovered Nigel lived only about 6 miles from me. They both had lots of experience in various ultras so knew what to expect. The next section of the course was past Lonscale fell which was a horseshoe shaped trail around a river, you could see the other side only a few hundred yards away but because of the river in between we had to run another few miles to get to the other side. As we looked back we didn’t see any other runners which seemed strange as we left quite a few at the last checkpoint. We made our way round looking back now & again & still nobody behind. Just around the corner & on our way down the hill we saw a photographer who was taking pictures of the runners, I was glad to see him as it just confirmed we were on the right path. We reached the bottom of the hill & just around the corner was checkpoint 7 at Dockray we’d now run 49 miles. We all had some Soreen and filled up our water and set off for CP 8 at Dalemain.

Nice tech T-shirt

I was looking forward to CP 8 as it was about half way through the race & I could change my socks & trainers. By this time it was getting very hot and my feet felt quite wet from all the water the night before. The skin on my feet had gone soft & I could feel a big blister on my right foot just under my big toe. As we reached the long driveway up to the tent at Dalemain, I stood on a large rock and as my foot slid off it the skin covering a large blister came off. I could feel it throbbing through my sock, running on bare skin was painful but I knew I could change into some fresh socks in a few hundred yards. I had a drop bag with some clothes, socks & my own food which I filled my rucksack with. When I removed my trainers I found my feet weren’t as bad as I’d thought, I put some antiseptic cream on & new socks and felt much better. Most of the runners around me said they were having foot problems with all the water. I sat on a massage table to eat a bowl of pasta & Pete & Andrew came into the tent to ask me how I was doing, they were doing the 50 miler which started at Dalemain. It was nice to see a couple of familiar faces. We chatted for a few minutes before me, Nigel & Hannah set off again. It was great to be running with someone as the time passed much quicker. As we ran across the fields away from Dalemain we picked out a few 50 milers & decided to catch them. My feet felt much better now and I could start to allow myself to think of the finish.

We ran together for quite a few miles & as we ran it started to rain. I couldn’t be bothered to put my full weather gear on so it got very cold. The good side to this was that my stuff started drying as soon as the rain let off a bit. The last part of the race was almost totally wet & windy but I was almost 75 miles in by now and just kept going. We noticed that Nigel had gone quiet & he said he was nauseous & couldn’t get any food down, at this stage that’s never a good thing but he seemed to get over it and started feeling better after eating something.

At around 90 miles I decided to part company & carry on alone. I sometimes feel the best way to get to the finish is to be on my own.  It was sad to part company with Nigel & Hannah but I was going through a bad patch & needed to be alone. I picked up a couple of runners as I started to feel better & we chatted as we ran the last few checkpoints to the finish. As I ran the last mile I asked a lady which way the finish was (my usual rubbish navigation) and she said she would show me! She ran about half a mile with me & pointed to the finish. I got back in 37:46, which I was happy with considering the other big races I’d done just before the Lakeland 100. When I got back my Forerunner said 104 miles which after asking around a few other runners seemed to be right. Lakeland 104 doesn’t trip off the tongue as easy though so maybe they shortened it a little! At the finish they weighed us and I’d lost 2lbs, I wouldn’t recommend it as a diet though. If your thinking of doing this race you don’t need to run it in full on trail shoes, I used trail shoes for the first 50 miles (blistered) then Brooks Adrenaline for the last 54 miles. Some runners did the whole race in road shoes which I would do if I do it again.

Overall this was a very well organized race with the right food & plenty of it at each checkpoint, the checkpoints are maned by runners from local clubs so they have a good idea what your going through. I would recommend this race to anyone looking for a good challenge without going to the extremes. A very doable race & mostly on good paths & trails. Just make sure you take a good head torch for the night sections.

Happy Running!


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JOGLE my memory

by on Apr.24, 2011, under Blog

Myself & Ruby went for a run the other day & it was the first day of JOGLE 2011. I wore my JOGLE T-shirt for the first time since JOGLE and thought about the race & how the seven guys who would be running this year would fair? It seems hard running our 2 mile loop & hard to imagine what another 61 miles would be like. Today is Sunday and sadly only 4 of the seven are left. It’s been great watching the story unfold from this side this year and remembering when things happened last year. It’s like being in your own little bubble with pain, joy & sadness all in equal measure. The road seems to stretch out in front of you forever and your left only with your own thoughts & fears.

One thing is for sure every one of them will know the uniqe feeling you get from running JOGLE and they will remember it forever. . . .

If you’d like to watch the story unfold visit Rory’s blog here http://9barjogleultra.blogspot.com/

Pictures from the event are here http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraracephotos/sets/72157626217520131/

happy running

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Runs with Ruby

by on Apr.22, 2011, under Blog

Every day this week myself & Ruby, my 8 year old daughter have been running a 2.25 mile loop through the woods near our home. It’s quite a hilly run with around 300 feet of climb over the 2 miles & she’s really improved over the week, I wish I could see the same improvement in myself! It’s quite disconcerting to see your 8 year old daughter skipping past you on a steep up hill section. This week has made me realize how long a road it’s going to be back to full fitness. I used to have the odd bottle of win and the odd bar of chocolate here & there when I was fit and it would make very little difference to my fitness but as the days turned into weeks then months without running the weight slowly creeps up and all the fitness you took for granted gradually ebbs away. Looking ahead though I have just started to get back into the running habit and made a commitment to myself to run every day. In the words of the song “things can only get better. . . ”

happy running

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First few runs . . . .

by on Apr.20, 2011, under Blog

I’ve been finding time for a few runs this week & also gone from 13st 7lbs to 12st 10lbs, the weight really makes a huge difference. Already up to 2 miles, got a long way to go before reaching the 100+ mile runs of last year! Just 2 miles seems to be just as hard as running 50 miles was last year, it made me realise how soon you can lose all the fitness it takes so long to build up. Not setting myself any goals yet just want to enjoy running again, it had got to be a bit of a chore & I must admit I was getting bored & tired mentally from all the running. Suppose I’d forgotten how much other things meant to me & how ultra running can take over. I’ll try to update this blog when I get time, as much to just keep a diary as anything else. It’s good to keep a record of what your doing, then if you get injured it’s possible to look back & see how it started. Thats it for now

happy running . . . .

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