Thursday, 29 May 2014

BGR, Howgills 26 and Peaks recce all in a weekend.

24/05/2013: Last weekend was the first in a long time that I've supported a Bob Graham Round attempt. Janson Heath is a local chap who has over the years succumbed to the greatness of the mountains. He has been training hard over the last six months to reach his potential fitness and strength in order to complete the personal challenge. He has written a blow by blow account of his experience here. I was scheduled as support crew on his leg 4 making the journey from Wasdale to Honister. The mountain summits that the beast requires you to visit (if completing a clockwise round) during this section (in order) are Yewbarrow (628m), Red Pike (828m), Steeple (849m), Pillar (853m), Kirk Fell (802m) Great Gable (899), Green Gable (750m), Brandreth (675 ish), Grey Knotts (697) and finishing at Honister Pass. Needless to say, as Janson quite rightly points out, there is always a calamity when I'm involved, so after sitting in the wrong car park in Wasdale waiting for the crew and runners to arrive, I refrained from punching myself in the face, and made my way to the right car park, which was the actual National trust one over the bridge and not the pretend National Trust (village green) one that a bunch of ramblers convinced me I was in! Luckily when I arrived, Leg 3 support crew were still hanging around, and informed that there were three others with Janson who was well on his way up to Yewbarrow (it was unlikely at this stage that I'd have caught them up) and so I made the decision to drive to Honister pass and jump on the last leg with the folks. 
Janson on Steeple

I arrived in plenty of time and was able to catch up with some familiar faces. Janson was having a great round and was well up on his schedule and whilst the weather conditions throughout the night had been horrendous and navigation near on impossible, he had made good time in the day light hours and was consistently strong and determined. Singularly three fell runners came over the horizon of the grassy spur for the decent into Honister whilst we were waiting, the third one being fellow Inov8 team mate Ben Bardsley, he was training on Ennerdale fell race route, the race of which is the beginning of June. Whilst he's not been running as much over the winter, he's certainly keeping fit with his mountain biking and skiing. Moments later Janson appeared with his entourage and after a quick pit stop, he was raring to go dragging his crew behind him. The short section between Honister to Keswick was a great run out, it was good to be back in he mountains again, I've missed this place. I always feel humbled when I see a BGR completer touch the last summit. The relief, the pleasure, the tiredness and pain and yet the pure exhilaration that the individual expresses during those moments, in their own manner, is incredible to witness. Janson was no exception, his calm smile signalled the beginning of the end. He was 'up' on his schedule and when he was told that if he gets a wiggle on he'll make a sub 22hr round, there was no stopping him. A grand effort to Moot hall and another remarkable man doing his thing. Well done Janson who finished the 66 miles and visited 42 mountain peaks (total of 1562m/27,000ft) in a remarkable 21hrs 47 mins (thereby qualifying him as a member of the Bob Graham club having completed under 24hrs). 


25/05/2013: Whilst I didn't do much running on Sunday it was another remarkable day of supporting and witnessing others achieve. John Danahay has a track running background and continues to be a remarkable runner (and coach) as a vet. He represented England, November last year in the British and Irish Masters championship (XC) and so continues to evidence his capacity running shorter races. He has however started to venture into the longer distances and I supported his second attempt at a trail marathon in the Howgills this weekend. John was more than capable of running the distance, he'd done so, many times in training however, he was a novice in terms of the perils that trail running and being on your feet for a long time entails in these specific race conditions. The things that trailees take as second nature once a few races have been experienced, I witness the birth of in John. His fuelling strategy, his ability to cope with adversity, how he motivates himself to carry on when he should be stopping and giving up, navigational errors, blood, sweat and almost tears. I feel very privileged to have been part of that for him. Well done John, who finished second place in the Howgills 26 marathon coming second only to Martin Cox, who had a tremendous race and another of Britain's finest.
John number 5029 November 2013


26/05/2014: I had a jolly around the Peaksky race race route on Monday. Just shy of 29 miles with plenty of gentle ascent in the Peak district. It's a difficult place to get the type of ascent that the nearby mountains have to offer, if you are starting in Buxton. Nearby Castleton for example will at least give more opportunity to climb in this area, however in terms of the training over challenging terrain, well, it delivers every time. Long drawn out gradual climbs, exposed featureless areas, bogs, trod, fell, rock, technical ground (I tried X-talon 190's for the first time over this distance) and Shuttlingsloe race. Yes, by coincidence as we approached Shuttingsloe it became apparent that the yearly fell race (straight up and down) was taking place. Whilst I missed the front runners descending the hill, it was great to see the majority of the competitors windmilling down the fell side. Fellow Inov8 team mate Simon Bailey won this short sharp race in a time of 15mins 48. A full on 6 hour day storming around the peak district in relatively favourable weather, a nice way to end the bank holiday weekend.
Shuttlingsloe in the distance