Ultra Running & Reviews

Archive for January, 2017

2017 What went wrong?

by on Jan.25, 2017, under Blog, Race Reports

During the run-up to The Spine 2017 everything went perfectly. The training went smoothly, no injuries during my pre-race training.  I lost 14lbs in weight compared to last year & entered the race at 150lbs, the lightest weight I’ve ever been for The Spine.

I packed all my gear the week before, a first for me. My stuff is usually not packed until the night before the race. I even managed to get a hotel room in Edale for the night before the race, which meant I didn’t have to drive all the way home after the race brief then drive back again for the race in the morning.

All my food packed into resupply bags & labels for each checkpoint written on each bag. This was had to be the perfect Spine race!

It’s difficult to analyse what the catalyst was for my DNF but I think things were a little to perfect before the race. I tend to work better in chaos.

This time there was none of that. It seemed to be lots of little things conspiring to put me off track. I was expecting the usual Spine weather of cold -C temps & frozen ground. We got rain +6C temps and loads of water & mud. I  had over dressed for these conditions & being unsupported meant I couldn’t just change my clothes to more suitable gear.

The decision to set off slow was made before the start & I knew I would get stronger as the race unfolded. The only problem with this strategy, if I make a couple of bad moves and I’d be right up against the cut off times.

The journey to CP1 at Hebden Bridge went well with little need to worry about cut offs. My navigation on this section was spot on, as it should be by now!

The problems started during the trek from  Hebden to CP1.5 at Malham Tarn. The fog came down & I made a couple of bad navigation decisions due to lack of visibility over the stones at the top of the steps. By the time I reached 1.5 I only had 20 minutes spare before the CP closed! A quick brew & kit re arranged & I was out the door, heading for CP2.

At about 100 miles I started to realise the time had become very tight & doing a few calculations it became apparent I wasn’t going to make it. I had 15 miles to go from Horton in Ribblesdale & needed to do it at 3 mph. This would seem a slow pace but when your carrying a 20lbs pack and have only had a 1 hour sleep over the past two days, it’s a big ask. I ran the first 5 miles as fast as I could, no stopping. I would need to maintain this for another 10 miles. After another 5 miles and reaching a hill which went on almost to CP2 I decided enough was enough & called it a day at 110 miles.

I tried to ring in but had no phone signal, exhausted, tired and wet through with sweat, my only options were to either walk to CP2 over high ground or look at my map and find a pub nearby & maybe get a room for the night.

 It made more sense to get down out of the cold & make my way to the Station Inn near the famous Ribblehead viaduct about 5 miles away. Luckily they had a room spare & I booked myself in for a night & full English breakfast.

After a couple of pints I hit the sack. On waking the next morning I set off for the train station across the road to start my journey home. I never use public transport so assumed that it was just a matter of hopping on a train home. I was on a train platform & we have a train station in my home town so what could possibly go wrong?

Reading the timetable I soon realised that the next train was at least two hours away! It also didn’t go to my home town, I’d have to get a train to the bus station then get another train, than another bus! Oh bugger.

Just as this started to sink in I looked down the platform to see someone walking towards me, it was only Dunc Bruce. We met the day before on the Spine & he’d ended up in the same boat as me.

After a quick discussion we agreed to go back to the safety of The Station pub, they did some great ales & a nice line in pork pies. I rang my other half who said she couldn’t pick me up until the children finished school. Oh what a shame I would be stuck in this pub until 11pm. So after being in the pub for 16 hours I made a few new friends that night & started planning my next Spine race in 2018 . . . . .

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Follow the Spine Race, it’ll be BRUTAL!

by on Jan.12, 2017, under Blog

If you get bored & want to follow me on my way from Edale to Scotland I’ll be in The Spine race starting on Sunday 15th January 2017.
Race number 38
Website http://thespinerace.com/
Live tracking http://live.thespinerace.com/spinerace17/

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The Spine Race 2016

by on Jan.06, 2017, under Race Reports

Last years Spine Race was a tough one for me & I don’t  just mean the physical side. Although the physical side of the journey from Byrness & the Cheviot Hills to the finish line in Kirk Yetholm, just over the Scottish Border was challenging enough.

Image result for spine race 2016

It’s been said before in many other blogs about The Spine race, you need to run your own race & not get bogged down (pardon the pun) with other people’s problems & hangups. However that’s just what I did in 2016. I ran with people in the middle of the race who ended up sapping my mental & physical energy.

This year I’ve promised myself that as soon as someone starts to annoy me or need too much help, it’ll be time to go it alone. Sometimes it’s hard to leave someone when they start to falter & you start to form a bond. You can feel obliged to stay with people who can drain your confidence & lower your moral.

The problem for me is I’m not very good with people, I spend most of my time on my own & like my own company. Sometimes finding it hard to understand what other people are thinking. That’s the main reason I missed the warning signs, the little things most people would probably have noticed.

The Spine isn’t like any other race, you don’t go home & have a nice hot bath after running 100 miles with no sleep & feel great in the morning. On The Spine you get almost no sleep & what you do get is mostly in a very noisy environment. It’s like a pressure cooker, everything is just about THE RACE! The rest of the world outside ceases to exist & it’s just you and your own thoughts most of the time. Sometimes even for someone like me it’s nice to talk to another racer, maybe share a laugh. Break up the monotony of a race that you know will last the best part of a week. A week on your feet in some of the worst weather this country has to offer. Maybe share some of the navigation between you, make the miles pass a little faster.

On The Spine 2015 I teamed up with Alan Rumbles & Colin Searl for the last section & it worked very well. The miles seemed to fly by with the constant banter. All I remember was the laughter and banter flowing freely between us all. Nobody took offence or sulked about any comments or went off in a huff. Hence why I called that blog post “a brutal walk to the shops” If your head is in the right place anything is possible. The pain seems to go away.

Suppose what I’m trying to put across here is be careful who you team up with! Notice the signs & move on, run your own race. Have confidence in your own ability & if you do team up, when it starts going awry do your own thing.
Image result for spine race 2016

On a lighter note, my training this year has gone very well. I’ve tried some new (to me) techniques in my lead up to this years race. More gym based workouts, 10 miles a day on the treadmill plus loads of body weight exercises. I’m also the lightest I’ve ever been. Taking more care in what I eat & sticking to my goals. I’ll be going into the race at about 150lbs which for me is light.

I never eat processed food (apart from on The Spine). So it’s all been game meat, Trout, fruit, veg, dairy, all the good stuff. The things I enjoy eating. Anyway that’s enough for now. I don’t advertise my posts on here, it’s just a personal record for me to look back on & see how or if what I do affects my race.

Happy running & see you in Kirk Yetholm!


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