Sunday, 31 July 2011

Time for reflection

Okay so for many fellrunners and racers its that time of year when you sit down and reflect on what has gone past and what is to come. Some runners are never happy. They continually strive to be faster whilst others are happy to plod around the fells and take it all in.
One thing I have learnt with running as I approach my 11th year back doing it, is that there is always another day. You may have had a poor year so far or achieved everything you have dreamt of, generally for most its somewhere in between.
Tommorow is Monday and training will continue. Goals can be re set
Not everything goes to plan.
For the fellrunner, some days can be just hard, you struggle to gain height, the fells seem to notice your having a bad day and they grip you like a vice to try and crack your spirit.
But most people I know in this brilliant sport of ours fight back. I know runners who face many uphill battles just to be able to stand on a summit like the one in the picture. As fellrunners, we get injured, we crack, we break, we question ourselves and sometimes wonder what its all about.
But like tommorow we bounce back.
Have a good second half of the season my fellow fellrunners. I will continue to post how I get on.


It was hot yesterday. Badger was hot, I was hot. We did our usual run and compared to last year when water levels got very low, this little duckpond is now dry. This picture was from last year when Badger could still swim in it and have a drink.
The Erewash Canal is the lowest I have ever seen it and also the River Erewash is very shallow.
So across the country water levels must be not good.

One day we may just realise how precious water is to us.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Sheldon Fell Race

The Sheldon Race is a lovely little Peak District event that starts on the main road through the village and does a little loop along the river, climbs back up then drops back down into Sheldon.
A line of building sand marked the start and finish line which is typical of a traditional fell race. Not the sand but the way someone has just thought I will just slap some sand on the road which will do fine. We don't need a yellow line, we don't need chip timing, just a few traffic cones for a funnel and a line of sand.
This race descends rapidly down the road before plunging even quicker down to the river. You then turn sharp left and realise if you have either gone off perfect or like most gone to quick and are very quickly realising that your on the limit and the next bit is going to be hard.
A dash along the river with a bit of up and down before hitting the ultra steep bank which 99 per cent of the field quickly walk up. Ive tried to run up it all the way but the pace of the race is too quick for that.
You top out onto some fields which is still uphill but the gradient is less yet your legs are now on fire. Another pull up and its then basically a fast run along a track and a road descent back to the line of sand.
I managed 4th place in just over 25minutes which is my fastest time yet. I must admit I had eased back for two days before though.
So if you want a lightening fast fell race then Sheldon is certainly one of them.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Gardeners of the Fells

A lengthy conversation with one of the few remaining sheep farmers in Buttermere answered a lot of questions that I have often thought of asking. The fells in the Lake District and other areas are seeing less sheep as each year comes to pass. In certain places there are virtually none left. The Herdwick is the hardy breed that most fellrunners see high up amongst the crags and summits. But it is disappearing.
Farmers and Shepherds are getting older, there isn't much reward in it, no one to take the flock on, pressure from DEFRA, flocks being reduced and so on. The list goes on.
Whatever the impact I feel will be huge.
The fells in places are becoming overgrown. Maybe not on the popular routes but the more outer parts of the District the bracken is getting higher and higher up the fellside. I'm not an expert but eventually the sheep that have virtually kept the fells neat and tidy may just not be there someday

A favourite place

I posted a thread about Haystacks a while back which was a fell that I had not visited. That was a magical day. Buttermere is a great place to explore some of the fells that you dont often visit.
Whitless Pike and Grasmoor was another two that still had to be ticked off. You can access them easily by climbing up from Buttermere Church. Its a great run. Calling at the summit trig of Crag Hill was nice and the drop off Grasmoor was a great experience.
Navigation wasnt the easiest but after about three hours Buttermere once again revealed itself.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Bamford Carnival Fell Race

That was a tough race last night after the weekend. A hard warm climb up to Win Hill but my teammates helped me really. I was suffering a bit and I had some great company. Adam, Nick, and Steve were up there and its nice to see us Pennine going so well. Its a good feeling to see people in the same vest especially when there are so many Dark Peak at these events.
Adam ran a superb race, Nick and I went up the climb together with Nick topping out first and then Steve was running with me back down the hill. All bodes well for if we get together in the relays. That will be special.
We have started winning some Team prizes here and there at these races and the standard is being pushed up all the time.
We also had Rob Taylor and Mary Edgerton winning prizes which is fantastic.
other great performances from other members with the likes of Andy Howie and Ian Warhurst ever present.

The route has a fair bit of road attached to the start and finish of it and it should be all runnable. I ran a fair amount of the race with Mick Stenton of Dark peak who is the runner for all info on fellracing matters. A good night and a great midwwek race.

2 races in one day

Last weekend I did the Peak Forest Fell Race. I had done this a few years before but couldnt quite remember the route. I should have studied the map prior to the start a bit more as it said at the far point that a marshall was to be visited before the turn home.
So not quite sure then why I turned back early instead of finding the marshall. Three of us were at the front of the race and the two other lads went in front. I got to a piece of tap on a wall stile and decided to go left. I shouted the leaders and they probably thought, Darren your going wrong. To cut a long story short I crossed the line in first place and told the organiser to disqualify me. Also my trusty Seiko watch fell off on the track on the way back. A well organised race mind and next time I will know the route.

After the Peak Forest race I nipped over to do the Broomfield Chase race. Just over 3 1/2 miles and about 800ft of climb. My legs ached really bad from the Peak Forest race and the fast downhill start was hard. I held back a little and managed to steadily overtake runners on the climb. I finished in 5th place and won a voucher. But two races in one day. Not again for a long time thankyou.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dont give me that look

This means come on its time for a run and make it snappy
Id not run him for two days in that heat but he was well ready.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Hathersage Gala Fell Race

Well with bad blisters on both of my heels after the heat of the Moel Siabod race and some running in the Lake District on Sunday I should I suppose have rested and allowed the blisters to go down a bit. Experience has taught me that if the blister bursts and the skin comes off your in for a few days of serious pain.
Which is what I have been in all night as I did the Hathersage Gala Fell Race last night. A fast and furious little fell race thats 4.5miles and just over a 1000ft of climbing. I did tape my heels up really well but the fast descent back to Hathersage put paid to the micropore tape.
I could have worn road shoes for a bit more cushioning but didnt. Anyway it was a good race and if there had been a team prize, Pennine would have won with Nick, Noel and myself having really good runs.
I managed 5th place and won a book on Peak District Aircraft Crash sites. Cool.

Just before getting in the bath.
Lets just say a few choice words crossed my lips as I dunked my feet in the warm water.
So today's Fellrunning tip is. First sign of blisters, back off and have a rest or go on the bike.

Moel Siabod

A trip to North Wales on Saturday for the Moel Siabod race. I dont get over to many Welsh Fell races but they do have some classic ones. This race suited me as apart from the track to the fellside it was pretty rocky in places. Run in conjunction with the Capel Curig Fete it made for a great day. This was a Pennine championship race and I do often wonder if it wasn't for our championship would we ever visit these races.
It was a simple run on paper up to the summit of Moel Siabod but on a scorching hot day it proved to be very hard. I jumped straight into the river after the race as I was that exhausted. I just managed to get 1st vet 40 back and win a prize.
There was some great performances from the Pennine runners. We picked up maybe 4 or 5 prizes and its good to see such a big turnout. Capel Curig is a long way for a lot of our members to travel. There was chance to stay at the Hut over the valley and quite a few members either ran or walked over from the climbing hut.
Fantastic. We have a good few new members as well who are starting to get better and better at this fellrunning game.

Pictures by Alaistair Tye who takes some amazing fell running photograph's. When I see him I will give him a couple of quid for these two of me.
Def need to do more races over there. Why can't Snowdonia be a bit nearer.