Seeking asylum in the hills & transcendence on the trails

Latest

Kit of the Month – February (Minimal running shoes)

The vivobarefoot Ultra

Now, this is a no-nonsense shoe in terms of build. It has no midsole, no arch support, it’s zero-drop and maybe has 4-6mm of ‘puncture resistant’ material to protect those soft ultra feet. The upper has holes all over and the laces are elastic. So, all in all, not your regular running shoe.

Vivobarefoot pitch this as an ‘amphibious’ off-road barefoot shoe. This I think is what has destined them for the sale rack (not that I’m complaining). It didn’t review particularly well when launched and in my view that’s because it doesn’t really belong anywhere near a trail. Read the rest of this page »

The Wasdale Warriors – running in the Lakes

Well, it’s been a while. It’s February already so I guess it’s time to crawl out of my cardboard box, escape the warm corner of the shed and dust off those well worked 2011 reptilian running legs.

2011 was a cracker. 2012 is gonna be even better!

Last weekend I met up with some fine people in the Lakes to run over some hills, eat, sleep and run some more. That was the plan anyway, and that’s pretty much what happened. Read the rest of this page »

GO33 Ultra Race Report (2011)

The GO33 ultra…..

Weather – perfect

Turnout – excellent

Scenery – stunning

Pretty much all the ingredients were there for a great race through the Glen and back. Due to the higher than expected numbers the route was changed at the start which meant a couple of extra up’s and down’s on some forest track. Better than the planned road start any day!

Read the rest of this page »

Brecon Beacons Ultra – 19th November 2011

Entry available!

I have a place at the Beacons Ultra on the 19th November if anyone fancies it? Entry closed weeks ago as it’s a pretty popular race. I’m not going to be able to make it now.  Looks like a cracking race. Entry was £40 – yours for £35. Just give me a shout if you fancy it. Go on!!

Nice way to finish the season.

Inside my box – SUMS 2011

Well, look what arrived the other day!

It’s not really that exciting is it? Well, it doesn’t really matter what it is or what’s inside the box. Not that I don’t care. I do. A lot. It’s the trophy for finishing 3rd in this year’s  Scottish Ultra Marathon Series.

Whilst I was well-beaten to 1st and 2nd, I guess it is an achievement considering the strength, experience and talent of the other competitors. I dare say I probably had a bit of luck along the way, although I have worked hard for it, completing 6 races and running as hard as I could in each one. More than acceptable in Season 1.

It’s just that the way I was presented it, was much more important to me than the accolade itself. There was no presentation, no clapping and no champagne.

It was given to me by the most important man that’s ever been in my life. My Dad. And, he shook my hand and said “Well done Son.” Does it really get any better than that? For me, no, I don’t think it does. I’ve had such incredible support from my Dad (and the rest of my family) all my life and trying not to let them down is something that courses through me, and always will. I guess the ‘white box’ was an opportunity for him to let me know that I’m doing ok – making every stride of each race (occasionally in the wrong direction), every 4.30am training run, every sickly energy gel, bout of cramp and lost toenail more than worthwhile. I’d do it all over again (except quicker!) for another one of those.

So, thank you SUMS – it was an awesome 2011.

2012????

Let’s just wait and see 🙂

It stayed dry on the West Highland Way

….and it wasn’t even Highland Fling Day!

Had a cracking run last Friday. Weather (from nowhere) turned, and it was a fantastic blue-sky day for running across some familiar but inspiring trails.

I parked up in Drymen, and took the WHW over Conic Hill to Balmaha. From there it was on to my most dreaded section of WHW to Rowardennan. I don’t really know why – the trail itself is good, the views are great. It just always feels much longer than it is whenever I’ve run it (and particularly in a race).

At Rowardennan there was something missing (other than the wee toilets – what happened to them?). Took me a while to work it out…..Midges! No midges and the sun was out – all very strange. From there I headed up Ben Lomond.

Being a Friday the Ben wasn’t too busy, passing only a few walkers on the way up. Being the closest Munro to Glasgow it does get it’s fair share of visitors ‘fae the toon’. On a clear day though it does have some spectacular views from the top. Read the rest of this page »

Running in Lake District – Coledale Horseshoe

After the River Ayr Way race, it was home for a bath and some food, then pack some stuff for a few days in the Lake District with family.

We were so lucky with the weather and managed a few decent walks as well as some time relaxing and reading.

I also managed to get few runs in. The Coledale Horseshoe looked good on paper and didn’t disappoint. The route starts in Braithwaite. You can park beside the school easy enough (particularly if it’s before sun-up!).

Follow the road towards Cockermouth, passing a couple of paths both sides of the road to a small car park on the left (I guess you might be able to park there – it’s small though and probably fills up quick). The Grisedale path is marked and immediately starts with some fairly steep steps. Me being me, I blindly took the other path for a mile until I realised I’d gone the wrong way.  Turns out it was worth it anyway as the sun delivered a morning treat.

Grisedale Pike is pretty runnable although steep in parts and rocky underfoot, making a mis-judged step a potential sore-one. Near the top it’s hands on thighs stuff for a while.

From there I headed on over an ‘unamed peak’ (according to the guidebook) to Hopegill Head – again all runnable.

Then a quick left over Sand Hill and onto the saddle of Coledale Hause. From there it’s a really pleasant trail until you reach a junction. I chose to go right first and head up onto Grassmoor for some amazing views over Loweswater, Crummock Water and Buttermere. Read the rest of this page »

RAW River Ayr Way Ultra – race report 2011

I’ll keep it short.
Weather turned out pretty decent following the heavy rain on the Friday. Arrived at Glenbuck in plenty of time, registered and chatted to some friendly faces. Got ready to race – warmed up, then just hung about until they finally managed to gather everyone and start the race around 20mins late.

Read the rest of this page »

Last of the SUMS – River Ayr Way Ultra

Well, I can’t believe it’s the September weekend already! It’s crazy just how quick this year has passed. We haven’t exactly had a summer to remember in Scotland but I guess we’re used to it.

Tomorrow is the final race in the Scottish Ultra Marathon series (SUMS) – The River Ayr Way Challenge (RAW). 41ish miles Read the rest of this page »

The Speyside Way Ultra – Race Report 2011

Tummy trouble

I was supposed to race the Devil ‘o the Highlands a few weeks before this but stomach problems meant that I couldn’t start. Was pretty gutted. Felt like I’d run out of luck as I’d had gastroenteritis just before GEDM earlier in the year.

So, next thing to focus on was the Speyside Ultra (part of the SUMS series). My folks had booked a cottage up in Buckie so we were all looking forward to a mini-break. My training since missing the Devil had gone pretty well and into race week I tapered and increased the carb intake from the middle of the week. On Thursday it appeared to strike again and I had the worst stomach (I won’t go into details) and the realisation that as well as an underlying issue I must be doing this to myself. I think I know what it is now so if anything, that’s a step forward (and another post). I couldn’t drive up on the Thursday as planned as I needed to be near a toilet so I set out on the 4.5hr drive on Friday with a decent supply of immodium.

The rest of the day was spent trying to get sorted – boiled rice, bananas, trip to the chemist. It wasn’t great and the stress of trying to get myself fit for the race probably wasn’t helping. Read the rest of this page »