Saturday, 28 December 2013

Tour De Helvellyn 2013

Coming to the end of the year and training has been consistent and I've managed to stay injury free. Importantly, I have also been better at not over training and so at the start of the taper for the Tour De Helvellyn race felt that I was adequately prepared.

This was a race of unfinished business. To recap; my schoolgirl error of last year when I unnecessarily followed another competitor, became the driving force behind my desire to fair well on the 21st December 2013. There is an element of risk involved when you are contemplating following someone during a race. You distort your usually sound thinking because they may, just may, have a better, faster, easier route than yourself,  and so you take the risk. Of course there may be a slender chance of the above, however the difference it will make is likely to be negligible and so the price of wobbling and not running your own race is that you risk getting lost with just a few miles to go and as it slips away you are anxiously wandering around in woodlands for an hour or so.


The Tour De Helvellyn (TDH) race has a reputation for it's hardiness because of the time of year. Principally, the weather which has been bitter cold, sleet, calf deep snow, ice, blizzards, and general grimness. This year the weather was less harsh yet, it remained a serious contender in itself. The 70mph winds were horrific... licking me up and spitting me out against the rocks at times. The run up and through Boredale Hause was a battle. Being pushed and shoved by the wind was tough enough however, with the helping hand of hail and rain that was coming in sideways, I could open my eyes only to a squint. Run....not a chance, however the hail stones bouncing off my teeth kept me amused.

I had a solid race and paced it nicely. Yes I started fast and paid a little for that at the end when I dropped off my pace more than I would have liked. The distance is 38 miles (however it's more likely to be a little shy of that distance) with approximately 6000 (ish) ft of ascent. So, fairly flat road and path sections make this a fast run-able race in part. The climbs are more long and drawn out for example Boredale Hause and Sticks pass, as opposed to sharp ascending and yet the beauty of being able to descent gently on well trod and metalled paths is that you fly for longer on the way back down, catch your breath and have moments where you can lift your head and view the reasons why you adore running in mountains. I get excitable when descending, for me it's where the fun is at and the run from Grisdale tarn into Patterdale is a playground, hop skip and jumping over through and around. I didn't find the crown of the kingdom of Cumbria as I a little short on time for looking for lost treasure. The climb through the ski centre on a zig zag path up toward Stang End was a moment of truth. I witnessed four competitors taking a more direct route, coming off the zig zag path and head towards the beck. Panic...argggghhh, do I follow? They may know a much better, faster, easier route than the one I have chosen! Wobble wobble. 'No Tracy, stick to what you know, let them go'. I let them go. A few minutes later, I looked down to my right as I approached the beck, and four runners were desperately trying to scramble up fell side, I left them behind and pushed on, smiling lesson learnt!

The contrast of open fell, road and path keeps you interested in this race throughout and approaching swirls car park over a technically rocky section, I spotted a long suffering pal, Gaynor being super organised as she effortlessly saw the runners through her checkpoint. Her words of encouragement spurred me on as I sprinted the few miles of forest path and skied across to the footbridge of Raise beck around the base of Dollywagon Pike. I say skied, the sopping ground was easier to ski than to run, even if the footwear for the activity was amiss! Talking of foot wear I had donned my favourite Inov8 Trailroc 236, they are responsive and I trust them implicitly.



Arriving into Patterdale check point for the second time I knew I was on the home straight, I negotiated the hidden path under a foot of water, grabbed a handful of cherry tomatoes and was off. A short climb and back through Martindale. The two figures that were confidently picking their way down were Karen Nash and Andy Mouncy, I hadn't realised at the time, however this was Karen's final ultra race, good luck Karen in all that comes next for you. Andy has been training for his next venture and was using this race as part of his training program, good luck Andy in your up and coming events. We exchanged pleasantries and I motored on. Two minutes later came the first spectacular fall, I was minding my own business going down what had become the water shoot of Boredale Hause, when both feet shot up in the air, and I was on my butt. No pain, good, up and run, oh and worry that two amazing runners behind just witnessed that fall, shame. Then for good measure, less than two steps later I repeated the trick, yeah, that's it, Andy and Karen, it was a purposeful trick to make you two laugh, ahem!



I had wanted to cover the return run over Askem fell in the light, yet had cut it fine as I didn't start the race until 9am and it is traditionally held on the shortest day. Nonetheless if I didn't lose too much pace then this was a real prospect. The last hour and half was surprisingly quick and I was reaching land marks much sooner than I had expected, a welcome sign when you've battled with wind dragons, are soaked through to the bone, tired and ready for a nice cup of warm something. I hooked up with Torq team mate Matty Brennan, not his best race, but he was only wearing half a shoe by the time I caught up with him. We pushed on and dragged each other through the fell for a wonderful sprint into Askhem. 

I was expecting to fair well in this race, I was certainly out there to make up for last year. To complete in 6 hrs 49 minutes and win has put a very large Christmas smile on my face. The first male in a very respectful 5hrs 48mins was Edward Catmur, both holding the course records in our respsecitve genders, for now.

Full results

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Pushing my boundaries recently I competed in an international event Limone extreme skyrace. It was a wonderful experience and the knowledge I gained will help me no end in my training. 23.5 km of skyrunning, beautiful part of Italy, amazing running conditions, perfect company with some of the countries best mountain runners. Yet it was also a trip that highlighted some of the controversial goings on that in my naivety I was blissfully unaware of. It's a gender issue and it was astonishing. 
I was never going to be up there with the front runners in this race, it was way too short and fast, so it was a pleasant surprise to have won my category at least. So we hung around during presentation to see the winners on the podium collecting their basket of pasta and bottles of plonk. The category winners were being announced and I blissfully watched as the men who were deserving were recognised for their great performances during the race.  I began to get suspicious when after the M60 1st, 2nd and 3rd made their way off the stage and the crew started to dismantle the podium. 

The crowd dispersed and I soon found that I was one of only a handful of folk still stood around. I lingered longer, amused and yet failing to accept that women category winners were not going to be recognised, as if my standing staring at the stage was going to magically bring everyone back and us deserving ladies were going to suddenly have our moment too. The tumbleweed rolled past, and the scaffolding was half way down and packed away. I turned, with hands in pockets and kicked bricks before making my way towards the marque to celebrate with all of those that were in the celebration spirit.

I couldn't shake (and still haven't) the disappointment that I felt during those moments. It is clear that not as many women entered the race as men (and unsurprising too, now I've realised that the purse for the women in this race was considerably less than that for men, why would they enter)? Understandably (to a point), the amount/number of category winners could be relative to the entry numbers of each gender. However, to have failed to recognise any category winners among the women is blatant discrimination is it not? Not only blatant, but also humiliating and heavy. To experience oppression in this manner, having rarely been exposed to such previously, was humbling and a reminder that we haven't entirely come a long way in the world as yet.

Yet still, it was only two weeks ago in the UK when I attended a cross country race. The Staffordshire Moorlands ladies team (whom I run with occasionally), won 2nd place in the relays (1st masters). On this occasion the first three teams in both genders and all individuals within those teams won their recognition and prizes. Phew... I hear you say, ahem, well it's not that simple. The first men's team received bottles of spirits, 2nd and 3rd teams, crates of beer. The ladies, a blanket! I can't speak, I'm so choked. In this instance there is a clear discrepancy between the funds splashed out on the prizes between the gender's and further that someones clear discriminatory and neanderthal beliefs are shining through.

Yes there is a place for barefoot, and it's not exactly at home in the kitchen, pregnant. Any thoughts as to how to help to bring the sport up to speed are welcome.

Limone Xtreme race profile.



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Coming around again!

It's metaphoric, It's the High Peak 40 and it's come around again. However, there is another 'coming around' that has me smiling as much as winning the race. I'm elated that I won it again this year. Having bettered last years time it's a great indication that things are heading in the right direction. Lessons learnt from past race experiences were put into practice so for example on the two occasions where I was tempted to follow others off the course thinking that they knew of better routes, I drew on my Tour de Helvellyn experience and stuck to what I'd recce'd. It paid off on both occasions those involved were lost and lost time.  The race was 40.4 miles with 1866m/ 6,124ft of ascent. (Thanks for the stats Nick Ham).

The other coming around was to do with cramping. I'm still learning and building strength so, inevitably it seems, that things happen during races that I learn from physically. High Peak 40 2013 presented me with a new challenge. 

I'd started fast, having tapered reasonably well, I was ready for a blast. That blast had me paralysed within 25 mins. There is a road section to start with before a steady subtle incline leading to a steeper section through Beet Wood, once you've pounded up there you have the opportunity to hammer it down over the fell to the disused railway where it's flat trail and time to loosen those legs off. Having made the climb through Beet wood and raising to the top of the fell, I knew something was drastically wrong. My quadriceps  and adductors started flickering, then more, then more as I ran and by the time I'd descended to the disused railway they had seized into rock solid spasm, the pain was excruciating and I could not run. I could not move and discovered that if i swung my legs from my hips then I could at least put one foot in front of the other. My quads were stuck fast, they would not let go. It was race over. I stopped. 

I had no idea what to do having not experienced this before. So I did what all good runners would do.. I bent over to touch my toes! This didn't work. So I started to swing my  rock solid legs about in some kind of walking fashion. The pain I had started to get accept used but I continued to struggle to communicate through it to other runners who were flying past me. There was a man, a very nice man... 'come on Tracy' 'can't' I said, cramps in both quads, my legs have seized', 'you'll be ok, keep going, see you five mins'. 'No you won't' I thought, I can barely walk let alone run'. By this time there were moments when the spasms relaxed for a few seconds and when that happened I lifted the legs for a stretch. The relaxing became more frequent and I was able to gentle start to walk in a normal manner. The pain remained more of a throb now rather than excruciating. I was unsure that if I started to jog that the spasm would come back, so, I started to jog, it came back, I stopped and the whole process started again.

I thought ok, it's definitely race over, i'll just get to the first check point and retire. And yet, the 'very nice mans' words were ringing, 'see you in five minutes'. 'You can't give up this easily Deano', I kept telling myself  'come on, work this out'.  I suspected dehydration, so I just drank sips of water and in a combination of walk, knee lifts and jogs I approached CP1. I wanted to have exhausted all options before pulling out, so I took the decision to use this hobbled and cobbled approach to running to he next check point and if I was still experiencing this by then, then I'd retire. Karen Nash came flying past, 'you look injured' she said. 'Nah, just a bit of cramp' I smiled... and started to run, the frequency of the spasms were getting less and less and I was able to run through them, I knew I was on the edge of setting it off again, however I just kept easing back when a familiar warning of gentle tightening started in each quad and adductors. By the time I reached Checkpoint two I was running again and the race started. 

There are two potential explanations for my experience here (and I'm not saying it's true for everyone or even the actual causes). There are, without doubt, two things that I did differently both before and during this race and they have both (if not tenuously) been linked to muscle spasms/cramps elsewhere. Firstly I had not hydrated in the days before the race as I ordinarily would, I was massively de-hydrated. Secondly, I went out of the start line way faster than I usually would, yes I'm an eager beaver at the start, however on this occasion even more so. The combination of dehydration and running hard from the off = spasms and cramp. The solution: slow down for ten mins, and drink water.

My biggest learning though, was that you can get over muscle cramping/spasms during a race if you don't panic, and work it out. I'm so pleased to have come around again from it to finish the race. This has been the a great experience and I owe a huge thanks to the 'very nice man', who shook me out of my defeatist state. High Peak 40 what a race :)

Matty Brennan 3rd male and fellow TORQ fed athlete and I

High Peak 40 First lady (and 1st Female Vet) : 6hrs 21 mins and 10th overall

Ladies:
Tracy Dean - 6.21.32
Antonia Johnson - 6.53.24
Karen Nash - 7.04.16
Men: 
Duncan Harris - 5.26.13
Stewart Walker - 5.33.55
Matty Brennan - 5.51.01

Thanks to TORQ for fueling me
Thanks to INOV-8 for making sure I'm wearing proper trail running footwear
Thanks to BUFF for keeping my ears warm and my hair out of my eyes.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A short Alpine story

I don't usually fall in love, I tend to 'raise' in love. And there is no better example of this than last weekend. My raise was about 9,600 meters of positive height gain, and about 160km  which all started in Chamonix. It can (of course) only be the Ultra Tour Mont Blanc.

So, taining is going well at the moment and it's safe to say that I'm settling nicely into my next training block with a couple of focus races at the latter end of this Year. So it's all a bit quiet this side of the pond, however, how could i possibly not mention my first experience of France, Italy and Switzerland!

I've not raced abroad yet. I'd not even been to experience the trail and mountains abroad. A friend and exceptional runner Stu Air invited me to spend some time with him and a bunch of others (mostly climbers) in the Alps. The plan... to run the UTMB course over three days, staying in refuge's along the way. So swimming in lakes, eating great food, and learning about other disciplines for a couple of days prior to the adventure and I was excited and enthused to get going. The plan was to carry minimal kit, so I ran in the same kit for three days, slept in it and carried a long sleeved down jacket, nutrition, water and poles. Poles? Yes I know I know, but I was told i'd need them...tsk. In fact they did make a difference. I found that using poles, took the edge of the ascending and the impact off the descending and have to admit that it's likely thanks to my use of poles that I was able to maintain a steady and solid recce for three days consecutively. We'd planned the first day the easiest, then day two harder and the most challenging on day three. The French side of Mont Blanc I found gnarly, rocky and brutal and by the time we reached Switzerland, I was totally in love. Sat by Champex lac in a moment of clarity, I understood what it is about running mountains that keeps me hungry and humble. I can't wait to be involved with this terrain more. 






 








 




Sunday, 21 July 2013

3@3

What's three at three I hear you say! 

Well... I completed my third half marathon today, and ... I was third (again...tsk). Whilst I managed a 1st in category third placed female overall will have to do for now. However, more importantly, it was a great training session. I used the half marathon to try to get some kind of command over my pacing, as it's something I've not yet mastered, pacing! 

So I went out conservatively, as it happens, too conservatively as I was left with too much work to do for the second half however, it was great negative splits nonetheless. This is unheard of in fairy world, so I am really pleased with the session. It was flat road Cheshire Half marathon which starts in the grounds of Arley Hall in Northwich (nr Manchester). I was well out of my comfort zone with a flat road race and need a trail or mountain race to put me back on track, however super day made even better by hooking up with pal J Melia, who finished in a great 1.28, not bad for a plodder. Look forward to seeing what he can do in the Lakeland 50 at the weekend. Happy days people and a few pics of me on the podum... ahem, grass! oh and first cash prize... so tea's were on me ;)
Why oh why do I insist on silly faces and stupid stances?

Pensive

Podium and stupid stance (again)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

4th IAU Trail Championships

Being selected to run for Great Britain after becoming the UK's Trail Champion (a lil title I picked up at the Hoka Highland Fling race) was just something I couldn't quite comprehend. How on earth had this happened? Yes I’ve been  progressing well but... 'I've only just started' and well.. for me it suddenly seemed premature. This is the battle I’d have with myself as I got cold feet in the week before the race on the 6th July 2013.

GB team:
 Women :
Sandra Bowers, Isobel Wykes,Tracy Dean, Fionna Cameron, Jo Zakrzewski.
Men:
Craig Holgate, Andrew James, Lee Kemp, Ricky Lightfoot, Iain Ridgway Matthew Williamson.


 



Needless to say, in spite of a nursing the calf back to strength and having a few stitches in my knee following a fall at Wharfdale half marathon, I made it to the start line in one piece, if not slightly discouraged as training had suffered a little. 

Kit: (on start line)
Lycra GB shorts- check
GB ankle socks - check
Inov8 wrag - check
Inov8 trailroc 236 - check
TORQ gel - check
GB VEST...blummin Check
Bag of nerves – check

Distance: 47.5m / 77k
Nutrition: TORQ gels every 30 mins and half a wholemeal turkey bap, (no butter) every 90 mins.
Fluid: TORQ energy drink (vanilla) (and a bottle of water over my head).
Race plan: Can't tell you, I think it's either an omen to or an unwritten rule, I don't know yet.

It was a beautiful day weather wise, temperatures reached a blistering 27 degrees, I adore the sunnier weather. The general plan was to start slowly and keep an even pace for each of the 5 laps through the Gwydyr Forest in Llanrwst, Conway in Wales.

Initially there was a short 3/4 mile road section which would attract a fast pace for many before a steady climb to Saw Bench Car Park, then a sharp lung burster of an ascent into the forest. The first 30 minutes was essentially a steady climb, then once you're up you're up, knowing that in an hour ish you'll be coming down again.

So with all good intentions, my relative inexperience of pacing over different (flatter) terrain and general unfitness (comparatively) all shone through immediately as I sped off. I'd placed myself at the back of the start line (as usual) however also as usual I consistently had to tell myself to slow down.

The climbing however kept it relatively safe and even paced for the first part of the lap. The problem, and to be honest the misnomer for me, was that this race had the potential to be fast and certainly suited those who have fast road legs or accustomed to flatter trail. There were no big climbs, and the terrain whilst, technical in places, was short lived before you were on metalled path again. 

During the first lap, team mates Jo and Fionna (Scottish Trail Champion 2013) sat behind me. The three of us chatted and ran and as I forgot myself a Canadian guy and I squealed and whooped as we ran alongside Lyn Parc, I adore playing in the trail we had fun. Nonetheless, I usually run alone during a race, I get in the zone and plod along. The company was inspiring, yet, I was painfully aware that I was running too fast, I was being swept along, this was not my race and yet, I didn't feel that I could ease off the gas pedal and be smart.

Just as we came into the first Checkpoint at the Outdoor pursuit centre  Jo turned up her gas, she is super fast and has a solid road and trail background having just completed Comrades in a very respectable 4th place. She was always the favourite for the GB women’s team and was always going to do remarkably well during this race. She timed it perfectly as the TV crew ran with her and from that point on I didn't see Jo again until after the race. You'll be able to watch TV highlights 30-minute program which will feature on Channel 4, Eurosport and Sky to be first broadcast by Channel 4 on 4th August at 7.30am.
Fionna dropped back a little, she too felt she'd gone off too fast, and so, by the end of the first lap I was running alone and settled into my race. The terrain was everything you would want out of a trail race. Forest floor, rocks, track, trod, green and mud. Whilst the weather was unaccustomedly warm, there were plenty of moments of respite when the trees offered shelter. Besides two checkpoints there was a water station set up on the course which was a life saver. The organisation of this race was perfect, from the opening ceremony the details and logistics during the race, to the thank you's at the end. No stone had been left unturned and I take a bow for how beautifully orchestrated this event was. 

I admit, that whilst I've not competed in a 'lapped' route previously, there was something reassuring about it. It enabled me to gauge my performance, although observing that I was slowing down lap after lap, sooner than I had anticipated was not giving me any confidence that I was even going to finish.

Regardless, I maintained what I believed to be a 'steady pace' (no gps's to tell me) and tried to focus on what I was doing. By lap three and In spite of it being a lull period (and certainly where I was plodding not running), it was the point where I started to overtake some of the faster starters. From that moment onwards slowly but surely I began to move up the field. In terms of my team mates, Jo was inevitably in front and Fionna just behind me. Isobel and Sandra were a little further behind. I learnt later that Izzy had taken a 'wrong turn' in the later part of the race, which put half an hour on to her finish time. Brave her to carry on and try to pull some of that back. A mark of resilience if ever I’ve seen it. Sandra was the only other person who'd tried to put a time to her race plan and it was pleasing that she finished thereabouts in the time she'd specified, someone who knows her capacity well I’d say. I'd believed that I was capable of about 7hours 30 on this course, so wasn't too far off in the end.
By lap 4 Fionna and I spent some time together before she started to pull away. She was solid and consistent. I on the other hand had got this race all wrong somehow! Ricky Lightfoot one of the GB male team members came breezing past, I had been lapped... gulp, who better to have lapped me! He led the race and finished in the same position, remarkable race for Ricky. His outstanding performance coupled with the strength of the other GB chaps secured the Gold for men’s team.

The final lap was the most exciting for me. With hindsight, I’d not been race focused, not how I believe you need to be for this type of event. Perhaps knowing that I was never going to win or come close made me far too relaxed about the whole thing. However, on the approach to the final checkpoint, I was informed by Adrian Stott, (GB team coach/manager) that we were sitting in bronze position. 'Do not let the Canadian girl catch you' he gently and calmly said, 'every second counts'. The bronze position was resting between GB and Canada. This is where it got interesting for me. I was faced with a challenge. When I'm faced with a challenge I pull things out of the bag. 'I'm on it' I whooped as I sprinted out of the checkpoint'.

I had convinced myself (maybe because that's what I needed to do to perform) that the Canadian girl was on my heels and so, I ramped it up. I started to run. I had about 4 miles to go and I was 'not leaving Llandudno without a podium finish', (is what I was telling myself). I sprinted harder and started to overtake more and more folk. French lady Maud Gobart, the winner at the 3rd Trail Championships in Ireland was just in front and as I overtook her she said 'I’m not used to this flat', and started to make circles with her hands, she wanted more mountain is how I interpreted her struggles. 

Where on earth had this strength come from. It confused me as I'd truly believed that I was going as good as I could have up to that last check point. I believe mental states have a lot to answer for. This is further an indication of how little I yet know my physical capacity, but, I'm learning and gaining more confidence with each new experience. The final little climb was a very short sharp road section before swinging a right and descending on trail, I flew that tough little hill and when I hit the top, I said, out loud, 'that is the bronze'. Yes, mental states have a lot to answer for. You can choose to see it as arrogance or you can choose the reality in that it's just me trying to get the best out of myself and being brutally honest about it here.

By the last road section I was close to anaerobic threshold, 'jeez, strong finish' shouted Amy Rusiecki a USA runner as I sprinted past her. The thing is I felt like I could have kept this up for another few miles at least and yet, the race was over, the finish line appeared sooner than I was expecting, the race was at it's end, it all felt so, so premature, I needed more time!

I was 14th female, and third counter for the GB ladies team not bad for a d├ębut maybe.

4th IAU Trail World Championships medal results
Men’s Individual
Gold – Ricky Lightfoot (Great Britain and NI) 5:36:03
Silver – Florian Neuschwander (Germany) 5:45:16
Bronze – Julien Rancon (France) 5:54:21
Women’s Individual
Gold – Nathalie Mauclair (France) 6:38:45
Silver – Aurelia Truel (France) 6:55:51
Bronze – Maria Chiara Parigi (Italy) 7:00:30
Men’s Team
Gold – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 17:47:59
Silver – France 17:58:14
Bronze – Germany 18:42:29
Women’s Team
Gold – France 20:46:16
Silver – Italy 21:28:22
Bronze – Great Britain and Northern Ireland 21:43:01
Full World Championship results are available online via this link http://www.tdl.ltd.uk/race-results.php?event=1386


Ricky Lightfood Team GB race winner

Nathalie Mauclair Team France ladies race winner

Notes and acknowledgements: (sounds like a film production)
In the first instance a huge huge thank you to coach John Danahay. I've been training with John for three months now, my first experience of any kind of coaching/mentoring. There is a long way to go yet, and I'm honored that he's agreed to continue to guide me over the coming months. To Adrian Stott, Walter Hill and Eleanor, who have been so professional in spite of us all and knowledgeable of every detail.

Sponsors TORQ for supplying me with all of my nutritional needs throughout the race, TORQ products work brilliantly for me and not once was nutrition an issue, thank you immensely.

INOV8 for supplying me with a selection of shoes for this race, I have been using their products since I stepped onto the fell side and it's with huge thanks that you are now supporting my running in return.

A final observation and one that was made obvious to me by another. In that, these types of events are the epitome or gem of a runners experience. Of any athletes experience. How amazing to have the opportunity to represent your Country, it is a dream for most. Athletes work hard, they dedicate their lives and yet, such a major event gets very little publicity compared to events that are privately administered. It is hoped that Trail and mountain running of this nature ie World Championships, one day gets the recognition that it deserves. So a huge thanks to all who have put it out there for trying to acknowledge the sheer talent that the trail and mountains attract.


Monday, 17 June 2013

Training is going well and I'm super excited about my next trail race in Wales on the 6th July. I've been visiting the course which is in Gwydyr forest, Llanrwst, North Wales. It's a beautiful course, some short sharp climbs and some drawn out steady uphills, however no lung bursting mountains in this race. It's everything that you would want in a trail run. Forest floor, roots and shoots, rocks, grass, slate, track, path and farmers dogs.The race is x5 laps of approx 9 miles with the total course being 46 ish miles including a short road section at the start. Given it's relative flatness, I've been doing some speed session in a vain attempt to get a quicker turn over, time is not on my hands with this one, however really enjoying the faster kick. 

Here's the website; World Trail Wales 2013

The GB team looks strong, phenomenal athletes all familiar with this type of running. I'm humbled to be sharing the course with my team mates and am working my hardest to be ready for the race. We are lucky to have a great team behind us too,  making sure we stay fit and healthy, motivating us and keeping us up to speed with what's occurring. Thanks, Walt, Adrian, Eleanor, (John D) among so many others.

GB & NI team for the IAU Trail World Championships:
Men                                                                               Women                                                
Lee Kemp                                                                    Tracy Dean
Ricky Lightfoot                                                             Fionna Cameron
Matt Williamson                                                          Joanna Zakzewski
Iain Ridgway                                                                Isobel Wykes
Andrew James                                                            Sandra Bowers
Craig Holgate                                                              Karen Rushton


The weather has been amazing during recce's, so so lucky, even this weekend which should have been thundery and wet turned out to be blue skies and warm. The dampness has however has brought the midges out, mostly they are hanging out at Saw Bench car park, given this was where I was refuelling during my recce I now look like I've got chicken pox... thanks midges. Midges or flies in eyes? I'm not sure which to go for!

Some pictures:















There is an open race of 10k which will start after the main race and if you like your trail running and are twiddling your thumbs and need a speed session then ..........

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Happy days

A beautiful, pleasant, warm day on the edge of the peak district. Four hours of smile bringing trail running.
Ramshaw Rocks, Roaches Ridge and Hen Cloud.
I was skimming, over the Roaches Ridge, enjoying myself is an understatement.
I approached a family beyond the summit, a mother and baby, and a father and toddler son.
'Step to the side son', said the man to his young boy, 'she's running'.
I passed with a breeze,
'Why is she running daddy' I heard the little voice ask inquisitively as I skipped over the rocks
'because she is playing'.

What an amazing father.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

Highland Fling race 2013

It's like one of those films that starts at the end and then takes swishes back to the start. So, I'm sat with my legs up sipping tea and I've not walked further than the bathroom all day. And why such a lazy madam today, hmmm, just a little matter of a big race, the Highland fling. The race has been a focus for me. It's the distance I like and challenging as it's profile relatively flat in comparison to what I've been privy to training  on. Challenging as it would be fast on the flats and I'd no idea how I'd fair with this trail. The race was also the Ultra Trail Championship race however I have to acknowledge with some embarrassment  that I didn't really know what this meant! 

Regardless, The Highland Fling follows 53 miles of way marked trail along the West Highland Way in Scotland from Milngavie (Glasgow) to Tyndrum.

I travelled over to the lakes on Thursday evening, chewed the fat with buddy Gaynor and awoke early doors to the finest coffee and daffodil.



We made our way to Scotland on the Friday morning and arrived at the hotel, triple checked I had everything, had legs massaged and over to race registration in Tyndrum. Another pal Anthony was making his way over to help Gaynor with support duties and so team fairy was assembled. They promptly named themselves Dog and Beth and well, this was going to be an interesting one.


Sunday, 7 April 2013

25@25

Spring is in the Air.............. so an amazing fell runner friend Stuart Air has a birthday tomorrow. A few months ago whilst he was dragging me around the Fells, we were discussing what he was going to do for his birthday, and so his idea of  25@25 was born. Over the following weeks Stu collaborated an amazing route in the Lake District taking in 25 Peaks. It is his 25th B'day. All make sense now! Yesterday saw his idea come to fruition, a bunch of unlikely fell runners congregated and joined in various legs of his birthday jaunt. He had road crossing support by Ms Prior, the weather was just amazing, and fun was had by all involved. 

Birthday Boy

Up North

Training has been going well over the last few months. I've been out and about getting some great millage completed in some amazing places. Easter weekend I decided to take a trip up to Scotland again and run for a couple of days along the West Highland Way.

So the plan was to start in Drymen, run the Way to Tyndrum, kip overnight at By the Way hostel and reverse the run the following day. So... that's what I did. Day one was great running, weather was cold yet dry and conditions underfoot were great. Hardly a soul about. Conic Hill is/was having major work completed on it, there is now a new path up and down both sides, so no more sliding down the wet grass :( The volunteer conservationists as well has a bunch of other folks were there working hard to get the Hill safe and repaired as they were running out of time. What a great job these people have done. An enormous task. 




Sunday, 10 March 2013


Love it or hate it.... it's the Stafford 20. I'm intrigued that a small number of folk really don't favor this race, yet there is just something about it that I like.

Reasons I've been given for disliking it:
It's road
It's laps
There's traffic
It's soul destroying!

Reasons I like it:
I know when the water point is coming
I know exactly where I can put an effort in and when to ease off because it's laps
It's not completely flat (arguably)
It's confidence boosting to lap folk.

So, it gets the thumbs up from me, and I've had a great day out on it too. The weather was cold with flurries of snow today (when do we get some sun..tsk), great for running nonetheless. My freezing hands kicked in about mile 4 and warmed up when I got home. Everything else went great for me. I managed to take 11 mins off last years time, indicating that my training is going well. I am enjoying these mixed bag of training sessions. Importantly, for what feels like the first time ever, I was racing in close proximity with other ladies. We dragged, pulled and pushed each other around and it felt good. Thanks Louise Blizzard and Sharron Johnstone.  

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

It's a little quiet largely as i'm enjoying putting my energy into training and racing at the moment, however, I miss you folk, so thought i'd have a few words about what occurring!

So I've been trying my hand at a few short fell races more recently, mostly as I would like to get better at settling into and warming up in a race quicker than the usual two hours that it currently takes me...tsk! I am enjoying the new challenges, these shorter races are fast, oh my lord, my lil pins don't know what's hit them. On the one hand I like that i'm pushing out of my comfort zone and on the other hand, I'm not very good in them.


Sunday, 3 February 2013

Catch ups.. literally

So where's ya been?

Injury has prevented anything exciting enough over the last few weeks hence it's 'O so quiet'. Yet I have managed to go playing in the mountains this weekend.

Oh how I've missed the big fellas. Jeez, I'd almost forgotten just what it is about, the mountains, the big climbs and the beauty of the tops, the long descents and the challenge of the terrain that I adore so so much! Winter has that effect, when it all slows down and things get more low key. But my god, we made up for that today (Saturday 2nd Feb 2012). Stu and I haven't played out together for a while and so was great to catch up, and frankly, that's all I did all day with him!

Stu climbed into my brum at the service station and...the first words that two mountain runners say?... 'You have new shoes', oooh so do I', haha, have a guess at what we had both purchased (unwittingly).

The route was in the lake district. A Langdale start and wasn't long before Stu had me puffing up to Stickle Tarn. The weather was everything you want it to be for a great run in February  Clear, crisp, sunny and cold enough to stay hydrated and run pleasantly. It takes me about two hours to warm up ordinarily, so I was feeling it on the ascent up to the tarn, yet all of my anguish had diminished as the tarn came into sight, how beautiful. The sun was bouncing off the water and it simply took my breath away. It felt like I was home and got me excited about the coming year, spring and summer. Then Stu pointed out Parvey Ark and Jacks rake the little scramble that we were to do. My fantasy of all things wonderful and beautiful diminished as I realised I'd been tricked and he was going to make me climb/scramble/boulder my way up this bit of rock.












I adored every moment of it, my fears of heights and getting stuck coupled with being all fingers and thumbs diminished with each little success of climb I accomplished  Stu was mostly sprinting this rock and a large smile was not coming off my face. Each time I managed a difficult (it's relative remember) scramble and survived, the next section seemed easier. Thank you Stu for affording me this experience.

The running was great and I'm definitely pleased that I've had a great winter training as I'm seeing a difference in my running today and it's a good start to an exciting year. The climbs were full of adventure, the snow was packed enough to run on the top and in spite of the ice, there were sections that were dry on the rock and the crispy frost dusted grass was runnable. I chose to ignore the bogs freezing my feet sporadically. So the route was give or take, Langdale - Stickle Tarn









































Pavey Ark- High Raise



















Esk Pike - Scafell Pike - Crinkle Crag back to Langdale.































I'd not ran Crinkle Crag before, firstly, I like them because of the name and secondly, they are just great technically challenging rocks. The whole run was busy with folk, all taking advantage of the amazing weather, however, I'd noticed that compared to Wales where I've spend a great deal of time training over the previous year, the Lakes, are just generally busier mountains and they were busy today. Nonetheless, everyone was in great spirits, friendly and just all enjoying doing their thing in their capacities.


Stats according to Airs GPS: 5 hours (ish)
                                               1900ft ascent (ish)
                                               miles: who knows
                                               Fun: no measure

The new trainers!!!.............. happy days