Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 in Numbers

A short round up of my year, in numbers:

1 x Walking Group Leaders Award qualification
1 x Wilderness First Aid qualification
1 weekend in Wales with the Glossopdale Harriers
1 week in Switzerland with the Glossopdale Harriers
1 week in Wasdale on a National Trust working holiday
1 weekend in the Lakes with the Glossopdale Harriers

Races: 10
MDOC Night Street Series orienteering race
British Fell Relay Race in Llanberis
Dovestone Diamond 10km
Hartcliffe Hill Fell Race
Herod Farm Fell Race
Dark & White Mountain Marathon; Rowter Farm
Salford 10km road race
New Chew Orienteering Fell Race
Lambs Longer Leg Fell Race
Marple Park Run 5km

Yearly Running stats:
Distance: 1,741.6km
Time: 215h 53m
Elevation gain: 49,353m
Number of runs: 211

Yearly Barefoot Running stats:
Distance: 4.1km
Number of runs: 2

Fell running Photoshoots: 2
Number of cakes at my 40th birthday party: 5 (maybe more)

2013 Review of Aspirations

This year has been one of focus, and of meandering wanderings. I set out with eight goals, as follows:

#1   Run 10km in under 50 minutes
#2   Run Glossop to Hope in under 3hrs 45mins
#3   Run Herod Farm fell race quicker than last year's race.
#4   10 chin ups
#5   Box jump onto big box
#6   Complete my Walking Group Leaders Award training
#7  Successfully achieve my Walking Group Leaders Award
#8  Handstand press-up

These are my thoughts on each one in turn:

#1   Run 10km in under 50 minutes
I achieved this one much quicker than I anticipated, at the Salford 10k race at the end of March. Woop Woop. The lasting memories of this are that 1) I needed to do a decent amount of speed work and dedicated training to be quick enough; 2) It Hurt. A Lot. And continued to do so for some hours afterwards. I reckon that the residual lung capacity most of us don't ever tap into was well and truly expunged from me; 3) I didn't need to do any more road races, this pleased me lots; 4) I'm never going to be really quick, but with focused blocks of training a decent mid-pack time on the flat is possible.

#2   Run Glossop to Hope in under 3hrs 45mins
This hasn't happened for various reasons. The main one being that I never quite got enough umph to just do it. In my mind I was planning to do it late summer, around the same time of year as last time. We holidayed in late July in the Alps, came back and then work took over, weekends were busy with other things, long runs happened and I moved the target date. Then it just got too wet underfoot, and while I'm no where near a fair weather runner I don't want my repeat of this route to be in total opposite conditions slowed down for sure by the bog monsters on Brown Knoll. Excuses I know. I have had a serious talk with myself over this one, and about the additional challenge I set part way through the year which was to run the Edale Skyline route. The latter was to be a long run over Christmas, no illusions of a fast time, but then the lurgy struck me down from Christmas Eve until last weekend. I've moved this onto next year's targets, but more on that in a later post.

#3   Run Herod Farm fell race quicker than last year's race.
I'd like to say I easily achieved this one, and on numbers alone it appears that way. Last year I ran the race in 40:12, this year 39:17. Happy? Yes. Easy? No. With about 350m ascent in two big chunks of climbing over just 5km, any race with that profile would never be easy. I'd spent a lot of time training on uphill reps, so when geeking out over the stats after the race I was disappointed to find I'd made up most of the time on the descent section. Oh well. Maybe I need to do more downhill reps to get quicker uphill?! I'll be on marshalling duties in 2014 for this Glossopdale Harriers club race, and that will suit me just fine. I've broken the 40min barrier and beat last years time; I'm happy with that.

#4   10 chin ups
Big fat Fail on this one. Things came and went, excuses racked up. But basically I didn't have the focus and determination to keep the momentum up on the specific strength work that I need to do for this target. I've got this one down for 2014 and am determined to get there. I've been learning about short, medium and long term goals so I've got this one nicely broken down into chunks of training. It all starts today with a new programme of stretching, isometric scapula work and lots of heavy lifting. More on this one to follow.

#5   Box jump onto big box
Another one not reached but I have done a fair amount of plyometric work. I'm not bothered that I didn't get this target; having good hip mobility, good back flexibility and a strong core are more important. I'll be working on those aspects much more next year.

#6   Complete my Walking Group Leaders Award training
I did this and got good feedback, giving me the confidence to go on and book the assessment days for early May. I also attended and passed a two day Wilderness First Aid Course which is a required component of the WGLA.

#7  Successfully achieve my Walking Group Leaders Award
Tick. The assessment was good, nothing I didn't expect or couldn't deal with quite happily. Since qualifying I've worked out on the hill several times teaching others about navigation, hill skills, and private guiding routes around the Peak District. I really enjoy working outdoors, teaching others how to be independent, confident with map reading and being safe in what can often be challenging conditions. There's a bit more about my guiding work on this page.

#8  Handstand press-up
Another target not acquired, another one I'm not bothered I didn't reach because the intermediate step was far more important and rewarding for me. That being, accomplishing the skill that had evaded me until this year - the handstand. I was really really pleased that I ticked this one off, so pleased I did a little gleeful dance around the gym. Have a read of this post here and you'll get what I'm talking about. I'm now confident enough with handstands that I can quite happily just do one without too much thought. See, the impossible isn't actually.

And so that brings me to the end of my review of my 2013 Aspirations. I've been mulling over targets/aims/resolutions/goals for 2014 for the past month or so, formulating a list. What I've ended up with is more like a calendar of events, things I'm aiming for and dates to tick them off by. I've got a plan for my longer runs, a few races I will enter and some others I fancy and may do. There's a few other challenges I want to do as well and a block of study/learning to fit in before April (more on that one later too!).

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Hope Valley Inversion

I was home for Christmas, just over the hill in the Hope Valley. A walk on Boxing day took us up above Twitchill Farm on Win Hill, where we were rewarded for our efforts by climbing out of the foggy inversion. Annoyingly I'd failed to charge my camera battery so here's a few photos I snapped on my phone:

just climbing out of the inversion, Mam Tor popping up in the distance
The great Mam Tor ridge
sunlight just glistening in the distance on Grindslow Knoll above the Edale Valley

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Barefoot Run

Today was the day I did my first ever barefoot run. Not entirely barefoot, I was wearing a pair of fivefingers, so as minimal as you can get. Over the past few weeks I've been doing daily 20 minute walks barefoot or in the fivefingers, building up gradually to doing a run. I have to say, running in the fivefingers was pretty good. I didn't feel any discomfort or pain, and it felt really natural. As part of the research project I'm a participant of the instructions guided me to run at a cadence of around 180 beats per minute....so, armed with a metronome off I went. To be honest it was a good pace. Short strides mean that there isn't a massive impact with each step, so it's just like tippy-toeing but a bit faster. Today's run was about 1.5km, I'll stick to that distance for a few weeks to build up strength, but I've already got my sights on a 5km loop from home as my target.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Barefoot Running Research: week 2 summary

Well that week went fast. The end of week 2 brought good news...I have a pair of fivefingers so I can now fully take part in the research project, fabulous.

This week has seen a continuation of the stretching, balance and proprioception exercises, daily 20 minute barefoot walks plus plyometric exercises on alternate days to strengthen feet and leg muscles. I've really made an effort to focus on forefoot strike during my walks and exercises and it already feels like I'm gaining strength.

The other noticeable thing is when walking on what feels like tippy-toes I sometimes just want to break into a run...so far I've restrained. I have however read the instructions for the intervention exercises again (more closely) and from week 3 (this week) I can start on short runs twice a week. So perhaps today will be the day of my first barefoot run.

Here's a summary of week 1 in case you missed it.

Glossopdale Harriers Winter Festivities

Our annual Glossopdale Harriers winter festivities took place yesterday with about thirty of us heading out for a morning run onto Bleaklow. The route took us up Lightside, Dog Rock, alongside Dowstone Clough, across the plateau to Higher Shelf Stones and the 621 trig point then down and across to James Thorn, Spring Cabin and back to Old Glossop. The weather was kind to us, no rain though as expected on a late December day the wind was on the chilly side of ideal. As is tradition, many of the gang ran in fancy dress, this year we even had our very own buzzy bees who delighted in their waggle dance at every opportunity!
Glossopdale Harriers nearing Dog Rock
Looking back towards Dog Rock from Dowstone Clough
Heading over Bleaklow to Higher Shelf Stones
The Chairman trying not to get his habit covered in peat bog...
Higher Shelf Stones trig point, 621m on Bleaklow
Higher Shelf Stones

Looking back towards Lower and Higher Shelf Stones
Dropping off James Thorn

Following the delightful run we all scurried off to clean up and make our way to the Howard Town Mill penthouse for much merriment and a keg of TicketBrew beer...very delightful, so much so we had to keep checking until the keg was empty...

I'd like to thank everyone in the club for a fantastic year of running, socialising and fabulous support to everyone who's set out and achieved so much...too much to mention, you know who you all are. 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Glossopdale Winter Solstice Run

Glossopdale were out in force again tonight, this time to celebrate the Winter Solstice. At 4.30pm we set off from Glossop Leisure Centre, heading over the fields and tracks and trod, up to Wormstones, a small gritstone crag elevated above town.

We arrived at Wormstones in perfect timing, just a few minutes before the actual solstice, at 5.11pm. The customary alcoholic beverages were handed round, starting with port, stilton and crackers, and on the precise moment of the solstice we all cheered the coming of longer daylight hours.

The Alison read out a John Dunn poem, the name of which I missed in the merriment. 

Out from the shelter of the crags we ventured and off the down hill without hesitation - there was a biting wind blowing and the threat of coming rain in the darkness ever present. Over the final few fields the rain steadily increased and the wind howled...reminding us we are still in the grips of winter. 


Fabulous news....the fivefingers arrived in the post today.....I'm so excited. Now I can take part in the research project, which is a great as I've already started the intervention exercises. Look how lovely they look....

Winter Night Fell Running Carol Singers

On a dark frosty winter's night a group of fell runners from Glossopdale and Pennine gathered outside the Printers Arms in Birch Vale. A gentle run took us along a bridleway I've never run on before. I didn't in fact know any of the route we took. We crossed the millenium bridge (I must return to see that in the daylight), passed New Mills Tors, waded across ankle deep mud, tracks, fields and another pub (The Fox?) where Nic Barber was downing his (?)first pint of the night...we were still mid-run, but what the hey! The view was brilliant... 

Up a steep section and a wonderful surprise...Mrs Fielding and their camper van with mulled wine and mince pies! Glorious. Nic and Andy Howie burst into the first round of Christmas carols....yes, that is Andy without his top on!! Me, I was putting on extra layers to help fight off the bitter cold wind. 

We made our way up a very short steep few metres to Mellor Cross....where the official carol singing took place. I smiled lots. How wonderful to share a run and enjoy the beauty with friends and loved ones.

Yes, that's Tim with the tinsel and shorts on...he wasn't alone in bearing his legs...

Before anyone got too cold we moved on and ran back to the pub where two log burning stoves awaited, along with plenty of good banter and delicious food. Thanks to all that came out, and to the Printers Arms for their splendid hospitality. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Barefoot Running Research: week 1 summary

My participation in the research is looking uncertain. The crucial factor being whether or not the student whose research I'm taking part in can supply me with a pair of fivefinger shoes. It's looking unlikely but I am dedicated to their project (somewhat for selfish reasons in learning about my own progression and improvement) and have been doing my daily exercises along with Tim every day. I've found the routine of doing mobilisations and stretching good, the calf raises have been harder than I thought and the balance board is coming along nicely. I've now started looking at the price of fivefingers and am mulling over whether I'll buy a pair anyway...watch this space! (update since I drafted this blog, good news: it's almost likely I will get a pair now)

No actual barefoot running takes place until week 4 (when the shoes are needed by) but I have started barefoot walking. And I mean actual barefoot - no shoes, outside, in December. Let me tell you...it's blinking cold out there, and when there's a layer of ice on the car it's numbingly cold. I've done 20 minutes barefoot walking each day over the last week. One day I wore my xtalon 212s without insoles. The concern with them is that they firstly don't allow my toes to spread quite as much as barefoot, and secondly, the stud on mine aren't worn down sufficiently for them to be totally flat so I feel every stud under my feet.

Another day I borrowed someones fivefingers but they aren't a long term solution as they're too big for me, no chance of running in them at all. After walking outside barefoot they do offer amazing comfort. Being unshod it an interesting experience. It allows each tiny little piece of gravel, each slight raise in the tarmac, each twig and leave to be felt. There are plenty of 'ouch!' and 'ooo's coming from me as I teeter around the 20 minute loop from home.

The guidelines for the intervention exercises advises I should be progressing into taking shorter steps and focusing on forefoot striking. Doing the latter unshod is more difficult than it sounds. I'm noticing every slight undulation in the pavements. Going uphill, which I would naturally do forefoot striking puts a much greater amount of pressure on the balls of your feet...therefore increasing the pressure on even the tiniest of sharp objects underfoot....'ouch!'.

The other thing I'm noticing is that barefoot walking takes an enormous amount of concentration... seeking out the smoothest passage across the pavement, stepping off curbs, needing more time to cross roads, watching for thorns by hedges. There's less time to be able to look around and enjoy the scenery. More time looking down. Will that ever change? The dangers of stepping on anything sharp, let along glass or thorns, will always be present. Do I want to have that constant watchful eye on each footfall?

I've done a little reading of barefoot running, read a guys account of his first fell race barefoot and am seeking out groups and places to be able to chat about all this. For now, onto week 2. I'll be doing the same intervention exercises but now on alternate days I will also be including some plyometric training.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Windy Winter Wander

When I say Winter, I mean it is technically Winter but the conditions out there on this mid-December day were, generally speaking, very mild. That is unless you consider the Moderate to Fresh Breeze that was blowing, gusting, altering directions on a whim, playing havoc with foot placement, keeping us looking more like crabs than fell runners!

The plan was for me and Rachel to do the aircraft WOATT (Winter Offroad Anytime Time Trial). These local challenges are set by Tim, and if you're interested in joining in head over to his testedtodestruction blog for more details. The plan, to visit the aircraft wrecks in Ashton Clough, the B29 just behind the Higher Shelf Stones 621m trig point, and James Thorn (either on the way up or down...weather, well the wind actually, was going to partially dictate exactly where we'd run).

Starting from the turning circle in Old Glossop we headed off for a steady run...into a headwind. It was just as bad as my run up the track yesterday, so I braced myself and got on with it. Chatting away we soon reached the bottom of the trod up James Thorn. Wandering a little we traversed around the hillside, stumbling across various trods and marshy patches as we made our way to the bottom of Ashton Clough, and the site of the Dakota wreck. Herein lay our challenge. Neither of us are brilliant on steep scrambly ground, so there was mutual support on the bits we had to clamber up, and a good foot and leg soaking as we climbed over a mini-lake-puddle and up a little waterfall.

C47A Dakota engine in the stream bed

Rachel up ahead in Ashton Clough

More aircraft wreckage in the bottom of Ashton Clough
and more on the hillside on the western flank of Ashton Clough
and even more above the fence line
The wind was really picking up and feeling much stronger as we topped out of Ashton Clough so the decision to head back was made. My hands and feet were starting to chill out, and I knew that if we needed to stop for any reason I would be very cold very quickly. The B29 behind Higher Shelf trig would have to wait for another day, but we did brave the exposed summit of James Thorn to tick off the second aircraft wreck site, the Lancaster.

Memorial to the crew of the Lancaster on James Thorn

Heading back to Glossop we picked up the footpath off James Thorn heading west....and then the wind really hit us. Our running turned to giddy laughter as we tried to make forwards progress...each footstep not quite hitting the ground where you'd expect. My hands only started to warm as we got down to Mossy Lea farm, so cutting our run short was definitely the right choice. The full WOATT will have to wait for a calmer day!

My run/walk totalled just over 11km in 1hr 55mins...strava has me moving for 1hr 15m which I can well believe on this occasion since we were stopping and starting lots in Ashton Clough.

If you're interested in the aircraft wrecks in the area this is a website I've used to find out bits of information. I also have a copy of Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks 1 which details the history behind each of the wrecks.

Friday, 13 December 2013

MDOC Street League 2013-14 - Event 4 - Glossop

Last night saw the coming together of 40-odd fluorescent clad runners in Glossop.  It was the 4th event for the Manchester District Orienteering Club (MDOC) in their Street League and being on my doorstep it was perfectly located. Ten Glossopdale Harriers were in the event so it was going to be a good test of local knowledge. I was taking part for fun with no expectation of getting a good rank, but as it turned out I was first Glossopdale in the Handicap results. I'm very happy with that, especially after a slight disappointment of losing 50 points - three incorrect check points to blame for there!.

Starting from Norfolk Square the event was very friendly and relaxed. No mass start, just each person dibbing in turn at the start, being handed a map and setting of in a direction of their choosing. I left just before Tim and decided to head onto very much home turf...up onto Shirebrook. I was initially confused by the scale of the map (1:12500) - twice as big as I'm used to looking at. The map also doesn't have street names, or major landmarks like churches so even for locals there is some element of challenge.

Then came the route choice decisions to get the best point values, remembering what some of the clues meant, such as 'H on TP', and occasionally getting slightly (but temporarily) displaced. So much for local knowledge helping! I think the pressure of 'racing', even though I wasn't, and the clock ticking caused a few not-so-intelligent route choices. I didn't make any major errors, but could have definitely been slicker in places.

Anyway, I cleared all of the check points on Shirebrook, took a couple near Pye Grove then over the very muddy fields to Old Glossop. I cleared all but one in that area then got a couple more around High Street East (should have got those on the way up to Shirebrook). I kept a watchful eye on the clock, still enough time to grab some more. I do find it hard to judge distance and approximate travel time whilst on the move...that's the pressure of racing that must surely get easier with more practice.

I then worked my way around the cricket ground, finding a path I've never been down before, under the railway to the football ground then grabbed a couple more CPs off High Street West before heading back to the finish. A very welcome mince pie was awarded to all finishers, Tim coming in just a few minutes after me and looking like he was going the win the prize for muddiest runner of the night.

Looking at the map afterwards I could have got more points by going that little bit further (the beauty of slow deliberation over a pint!). Again, more experience gives you the confidence to make those decisions. But, I only had 4 minutes spare so I'm pleased with what I did. Totting up my score afterwards I had a healthy 990 points...reduced to 940 for the incorrect three CPs.

Provisional results are on the MDOC website here. I hadn't realised that the final positions would be based on points per hour...so the guy who came first only went out for 45 minutes. Good to see a few youngsters out with parents, and several familiar faces from Pennine, Stockport and Goyt. Many thanks to Grahame (organiser) and his band of helpers, superb event - can we have another in Glossop soon?

Here's a link to Tim's blog about this event.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Running Research

Much to my delight I was invited to take part in a PhD research project looking at barefoot running and running economy. As part of the research I had my VO2 monitored whilst running on a treadmill - sounds easy? Well you try running at 14kph for 5mins, that is after running 10kph for 5mins and then 12kph for 5mins. I'd realised beforehand that the running would be fast, but afterwards working out the minute per kilometre pace it dawned on me that at 14kph I'd be running at a 42minute 10km pace. Way too quick for me (my 10km pb is 49:30), and, it seemed, fast enough for me to not need to do the final 5mins at 16kph!!

I was also tested on my triple hop for distance...average on my left leg was 402cm and on the right leg 419cm. At the end of the 8 week research I'll be tested on these two aspects and any differences noted.

The training aspect of the research for me began today. The programme initially consists of a series of exercises, drills and walking, all seeking to strengthen the feet, lower legs and improve plyometric strength. Training then progresses onto running barefoot in addition to the exercises and stretches.

Today's barefoot training was various stretches, calf raises, balancing and then 20 minutes barefoot walking. As I don't own a pair of fivefingers (which you can use) I actually did the barefoot walking in my bare feet! Early December probably isn't the best time to start walking outside with no shoes or socks on, but what the hell, I'm game.

I am genuinely interested to see what benefits can be gained by this research project. Having measurable aspects will easily show if I improve. The other thing I'm keen on is having a routine. I know from past experience of having a running coach provide me with a programme I am very good at adherence if there's an end goal. With this project, the end goal is a question - will there be improvement? I can't see how I would regress in any way, and anything that helps me routinely stretch and work on proprioception and plyometrics has to be a good thing.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Today's fell running gear

My plan for today was a 28km route from Glossop, over Kinder, round the Kinder Downfall route and back to Glossop. I've written about the run on my post, Frozen Glory.

So what did I carry for this run? Heading out solo onto Kinder is not to be undertaken lightly. Although a popular route for walkers and runners, and with a good (though cold) forecast here's what I packed:

OMM 6ltr bumbag (whistle is integral)
Sol Emergency Bivi bag
Waterproof trousers
Waterproof OMM smock
Food & water
3x handwarmers (I did think I'd need to crack one so took 2 spare, as it was none were used)
Big warm waterproof gloves
Warm hat + windproof beanie
Spare buff
Money (first time I've ever needed this in an emergency, not that this was an emergency, if you know what I mean!)
(no map as I know the route/area very well, but I do have viewranger on my phone just in case)
Phone in waterproof pouch
Torch - zipka - it does go dark every day, and even though I wasn't planning to be out late I always have one with me

Plus I was wearing:
Mountain Equipment Ultratherm jacket - wonderful and warm, but not too hot and great to just unzip when I need to vent.
Thin gloves
Long running tights
Base layer
Blister-inducing Orocs!!

What I should have had with me:
Compeed + plasters + tape
Different shoes for this one today

Brief comments on the INOV8 Orocs:
Apart from obviously giving me a blister, which is fairly standard for some new shoes I'm reasonably happy with how they performed. They are very loud and obvious when you're on tarmac, and though I would love to not run on tarmac at all there's the bits from home to open country/paths that are just not possible to avoid. On frozen ground the shoes were lovely, very confidence inspiring. But, on total glassy ice on the flagstones they were lethal...just as any shoe would be. I had hoped with the studs they'd give some grip on ice but no such luck. I'll report in again once I've worn them again.

Frozen Glory

Today dawned crisp and clear. A great day for a long run. I'd pondered going to Pendle with Tim and doing my own long run version of the full tour but decided I'd like to be home by lunch rather than spending time travelling.

My plan was to set out from Glossop, go up to Chunal cabin, Mill Hill, then around the Kinder Downfall fell race and return home whichever way took my fancy. Being icy and crunchy underfoot I thought today was a good opportunity to break the Orocs out of the box. They've patiently been waiting in the cupboard since May. The temperature was set to stay around freezing until mid morning, and setting out at 8.30am I reckoned on the ground staying hard all the way round. It did. Great.

Wormstones catching the morning rays, taken near Chunal cabin
Looking down on Mill Hill as I climb up onto Kinder edge path
James Thorn and Higher Shelf Stones in the sunshine, distant right horizon
What's not so great is that I had to abandon my run in Hayfield. I'd felt a small niggle in my left heal fairly early on but dismissed it as a new-shoe-twinge. Sadly by Kinder Downfall it was a hot spot verging on blister but I didn't want to look. I didn't want it to be real.

Kinder Downfall...a little ice but mostly white foam 
I could have gone back home from the downfall, but took a big swig of HTFU and continued. I ignored the growing pain, tightened my laces and carried on running on what otherwise was an absolutely amazing run. I was going slowly, but this was a planned 28km run so no speeding required. The views were stonking. So so clear....I could make out distant chimneys and power stations on the west coast easily. Looking eastwards there were smoke stacks I couldn't place...Nottingham perhaps? Certainly in that direction by a long way.

Kinder Low trig point with Hope cement works chimney in the distant right

Mount Famine and South Head
I paused briefly at the LuvShack (those of you who know this place know where I mean) to beg a plaster...cheers Andy!! I was now seriously contemplating bailing in Hayfield and had been doing so but shutting out those thoughts since Kinder Low trig. Damn. Such a good day. Feeling so good about this long run. Perhaps the pain will bugger off now I'd put on a plaster. Would the magic of a 5cm bit of sticky plaster work? Running from Bowden Bridge through the campsite I swiftly turned across the river and up the hill to test the heal pain 'going up' a short stretch. The route I had planned would involve probably another 400-500m ascent and about 13km. On the tiny uphill section my heal screamed at me to stop. Damn. Bailing it was.

After loitering around Hayfield for about half an hour I got the bus back to Glossop (£2.60 if you ever need this option). The wait gave me plenty of time to wonder...how would it have been if I'd carried on? Did I make the right decision? Well yes I did. But sitting here typing in my fluffy slippers and no pain with the sun still beaming down on the hills I so so wish I could have continued. I'll do the route again soon, this time maybe not wearing new shoes. Perhaps that was a foolish error, not to worry, I'm keen and human! Plus, I'm home and safe.

I've written a short blog on the equipment I used/carried today here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Snowy night run

Another Tuesday night, another Glossopdale Harriers club night run. Five of us were out plus our four legged friend Elsa - complete with her own reflective collar. Our route took us from the Leisure Centre, through Manor Park, up to Swineshaw Reservoir and up through the forest. What I hadn't figure on was bumping into a tractor with a herd of cows following it down the track. Rather oddly the farmer shut the gate and kept the cows in the field, rather than taking them further down - this meant they could just wander back up the hill from where he'd fetched them. Not to worry, they did delay us slightly but we only had to do a slight detour to avoid us having to push through the herd. They did seem rather attracted to our lights and followed us up the hill a little, but thankfully lost interest before we emerged higher up in the field.
The tractor
Climbing steadily the obvious paths in the daytime sort-of-eluded us a little. There are many little trods up onto Cock Hill, and we eventually found a good one that took us straight to the trig point.

At Cock Hill trig point - from the left: Zoe, Elsa the dog, Becky, Alison, Steve
Glossop way below our vantage point
Ladies Captain Alison modelling the club long sleeved vest at Cock Hill trig

The grass and trods were wonderfully sprinkled with snow and the freezing temperature meant underfoot was rather crunchy. Everything glistened beautifully in our head torches. 

Our route took us from the trig point higher up to Glossop Low cabin, and a little further to the spot height at 481m so we could look towards Holme Moss mast. The night was so clear it felt like the mast was much closer than it is. Earlier in the run we'd seen Winter Hill mast way over to the north of Manchester, and from our elevated position we could make out both very clearly. 

50% of our feet, Elsa included
The run off Cock Hill was lovely, easy underfoot with good grip from my Mudclaw 300s. With thicker socks than I'd worn in the morning my feet were lovely and warm.