Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Urban-dwelling, hill seeker with a thirst for endurance. This is just a record of my day-to-day training, the gear I've been using and the inspiration I've found on this year's ultra quest.

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UTMB – 2013 (Race review)

Yep, I know. The race was the end of August. But time has just flown past with training, racing and work. So here it is – some words about UTMB 2013.

For anyone who doesn’t know anything about the race it’s probably the premier mountain ultra in the world. Certainly Europe’s most prestigious. All the best ultra-runners normally attend and this year was no different. UTMB is made up of 4 x separate races, 3 of which are solo events: The CCC (just over 50 miles), the TDS (just over 70 miles) and UTMB (just over 100 miles). No fun-runs or relays here. Read the rest of this page »

The Altra Zero Drop – Lone Peak 1.5 (review)

Kit Review

So, the dark nights are actually drawing in. Scrap that. They’ve already drawn in. It’ll be dark, cold and wet runs for the foreseeable future. Not all doom and gloom though, it’s a chance to dig out those merino baselayers, re-proof the gore-tex and get muddy / snowy. Maybe even squeeze in some time to write up some kit reviews! So, let’s start with some footwear.

Altra have recently launched their zero drop shoes in the UK. Read the rest of this page »

24-hour ultra support – the real hard work

NicolaYou asked…..so here it is. The view from the support team on what turned out to be one of the toughest races of my year. In her own words….my sister, Nicola (Vadar). Read the rest of this page »

A Winter WHW trial (08.11.2013)

On Friday I set out on a challenge that was never really meant to be. I had other plans that had been scuppered by circumstances and bad timing’s (a recurring theme for me of late). So rather than do nothing and waste the ambition I decided on a double WHW. Yep, I know, off-the-cuff like that doesn’t quite give that particular challenge enough respect. A fair accusation I guess, but I do know what’s involved in a WHW both in summer and in winter. Read the rest of this page »

Thunder Run 24 – race report (July 2013)

Ok, so I can finally talk about the worst race of my life.

Yep, the Thunder Run 24.

I was actually pretty excited about it as things had been going well after wins at the Kintyre Way and West Highland Way races. This was to be my first ever 24 hour race. I’d really wanted to run the Glenmore 24 the previous year but it clashed with UTMB.

The Thunder Run is an off-road 10K loop with around 150m of ascent per lap. The start / finish area was in the middle of some fields with runners and support crews all camping on-site. When we arrived it felt a lot like a festival without the booze and music. Read the rest of this page »

West Highland Way 2013 – race report

Photo courtesy of Thomas Loehndorf

There are loads of great blogs written already about this year’s race and hundreds more from earlier races so rather than cover most of the same I thought I’d be better just trying to answer the actual questions I’ve been asked most often since I made it to Fort William……..and…….won the WHW race (still feel slightly awkward saying that). The other bit is even more awkward! Read the rest of this page »

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 3 – Kintyre Way Ultra 2013)

The final part! ‘At last’ I hear you say.

The Kintyre Way was 2 weeks after the Fling and I was really keen to do it after the disappointing performance. It was pretty tight in terms of recovery but I felt that a 67 mile run along some trails with some new scenery was probably the best tonic and would also provide a decent gauge on potential performance for the West Highland Way race  June 22nd.

This was the first time I’d done the race so was excited at the prospect of some new running routes. Read the rest of this page »

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 2 – Highland Fling 2013)

The Anglo Celtic Plate was a race I enjoyed more than I thought I would. The recovery however took longer than I expected. I took a few days off then started running again. I was desperate to get back into the hills after a month or so of training mostly on road (a challenge in itself). Less than a week after the race I took my chance and hit a fairly rough trail for a 25-miler. By mile 22 I had developed a serious pain in my knee and had to walk / shuffle the last few miles. I was worried but thought it was probably just a strain from the uneven surfaces after the relentless pounding of a road ultra. In short, I had done some kind of ligament damage probably just from doing too much and not allowing enough recovery time. So I was worried about the Fling as I couldn’t commit to much training before it. It was only weeks away. Read the rest of this page »

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1 – ACP 100K)

The title pretty much covers the 3 races since I last posted a blog after the D33 in March. 3 races – all very contrasting.

1. The Good – The Anglo Celtic Plate 100K – Perth 2013

I was asked towards the end of last year if I wanted to be considered for selection for Scotland to run the above race. I immediately said, ‘yes please’ and only afterwards thought about what the race entailed. An ultra road-race is something I’ve never done before and I knew it would be a different sort of challenge. On paper it’s just a straightforward 62.7 mile race on tarmac. Easy. Just run round a 2.4K loop of a park with support at the start / finish line. In reality, it’s a beast. Read the rest of this page »

Ultra-running – the highs and lows of life

It’s fair to say that 2013 has already been a pretty mixed bag of ups and downs. For reasons I’ll come on to later I’ve been giving much thought to why it is I continue to run and what I really get from it.

Last week I was asked to talk at a WHW race ‘inspiration’ night to offer some insight into how I train and maybe provide some words of encouragement to those attempting it for the first time. It would have been nice to talk to more people on a one-to-one basis afterwards but by the close most people were probably keen to get home. It got me really questioning why someone would want to run the best part of 100 miles. To openly accept the inevitable suffering (at several stages throughout the race) as well the necessary sacrifices required to train for it. Read the rest of this page »

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