Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Ultra

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. (more…)


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). (more…)


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. (more…)


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! (more…)


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. (more…)


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. (more…)


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. (more…)


A Winter West Highland Way – report

Getting there

West highland way race 2011It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a while but didn’t quite manage to organise it last year. Not that it takes too much to organise if you keep it low-key.

It made more sense for me to do it as a reverse rather than trying to sort out accommodation at the Fort William side (or worse – sit on a train back to Glasgow). I decided on a day, booked a train ticket and that was it. The Winter WHW was on.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t just doing this as it sounded like a good idea or just to see how far I could go – it wasn’t ‘spur of the moment’ – I had tailored my training for an attempt and had a target time in mind. The Jez Bragg record of 21hrs 14mins.

Thursday came around quickly and before I knew it I was heading for Queen Street Station with everything I’d need to survive the run (I hoped). It must have been the coldest day of the year to date and I was more than a little concerned about being under-dressed. With just under 2L of fluid in my pack, food and some spares I didn’t really have much room for emergency clothes. Still, no going back now. (more…)


Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) at UTMB – report 2012

The “beautiful” UTMB race by all accounts……

‘A race in open country along the ‘Grande Randonnée’ paths crossing though the Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valley countryside.

….sounds like a stroll. Although doesn’t look it:

BRUTAL is how I’d describe it. Don’t let the pitiful 2 qualifying points or the fact it’s ‘only 70+ miles’ give you the impression that this is the ‘easy one’. Nothing at UTMB is easy. (more…)


Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) at UTMB

We’re taking this racing thing International! Plane leaves very early tomorrow morning and I’ll be on it raring to go.

The TDS is part of the UTMB event in Chamonix and is…

‘A race in open country along the ‘Grande Randonnée’ paths crossing though the Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valley countryside.
A mountainous event, including numerous sections at altitude (>2,500m), in weather conditions which can be very difficult (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), requiring a very good level of fitness, the appropriate equipment and a real capacity for personal autonomy.’ (more…)