Sunday, 26 April 2015

Kinder Downfall Fell Race 2015

Wormstones catching the morning sun as
I run towards Chunal Cabin
The training for my marathon is going well and it's amazing to think that 3 years ago just running this 16km fell race was a daunting prospect. So imagine how chuffed I feel today for deciding to run from Glossop to Hayfield, and then run the race today!

The flagstones towards Mill Hill
I set off at about 8.15am, giving myself plenty of time to do the 13-14km route over to Hayfield in time for the 11.30am race start. Knowing I'd be running about 30km today I took it steady, walking most of the uphill sections up to Chunal Cabin, and up to the flags on Mill Hill. Then I settled into a great rhythm on the flags (pausing only to take photos), running all the way up to Mill Hill and down to the bottom of the steep climb onto the Kinder Plateau. I can't (yet) run all the way up the steep section there, but I picked out a big stone that I'd aim for in the race and managed to run to it on the way over. Just another 150 paces and I'd be at the top. It was actually really good to do a recce on race day, and the temptation to just keep running round the edge path was really strong as I approached Sandy Heys. I'd only seen a couple of walkers and the way ahead was basking in sunny solitude...a bit different to how it would be in a few hours. But, the race was entered, and it is a club champs counter so down the hill I went.

Kinder corner....the final steep climb onto the plateau
From the bottom of Sandy Heys/William Clough I took the race route backwards....up to the White Cabin and down the Snake Path. The 13km or so route took me just under 2 hours. A super run over in glorious t-shirt sunshine, just a little chilly so gloves mostly on. I arrived into Hayfield and made my way to the scout hut. Lovely to bump into Hayley and have a chat, then onto registration via the ever-tempting Pete Bland sales....and yes, a new pair of shoes. Mudclaw 300s for me, pair #2. They'll be stored until the autumn.

Snake Path and White cabin in distance
The usual lovely pre-race banter ensued and I changed my top layers for fresh dry ones. I reckon the wind picked up a bit too before the race started so arm warmers back on, but jacket stashed. Dave Soles did a great pre-race start speech....the main take away was don't dilly-dally on the route as he wanted to be in the pub watching football later in the afternoon!

Soon enough there was the bustle of runners squeezing up the road to pick up the Snake Path. I always feel like there's a surge of everyone coming past me in the start of a race, but I settled into my own pace and managed to run to the first stile. I then did a run-walk-run-walk strategy (aka getting out of breathe then trying and failing to recover my breathing) all the way to the White Cabin. Various Glossopdale Harriers were just in sight ahead of me, but they all just stretched out the gap between us.

I wanted to push a little on here but my legs felt heavy. I know that the trod down to the bottom of William Clough offers few passing places, but I seemed to have found my pace and didn't actually need to pass except one person. Next comes the uphill section in William
the start of William Clough
Diagonal descent to bottom of
William Clough
Clough. Fairly dry today so plenty of choices to make on the route. Soon enough the steps at the top came, various comments were made about how tough it was from my fellow racers around me, but to be honest it wasn't as bad as I remembered it from 2012. Up to the finger post, thank you to the marshals, and on to the steep climb onto Kinder plateau. I made it running to my big stone, then continued to walk all the way to the top, 150 paces just as recced a few hours earlier. Thanks to Jude for the water, much appreciated.

The edge path should, essentially be relatively easy but you need total focus on the stones, lose rocks and lumps and bumps that you pass over. At some point here I was joined by Stagger of the forum and we exchanged conversation most of the way round to somewhere near Red Brook. I just couldn't shake him! My legs felt heavy and I was conscious that I could run out of water. Hmmm.

View from Sandy Heys over to Red Brook earlier in the morning 
View from Sandy Heys with South Head and the dragons
back in the distance (taken earlier in the morning)
At Kinder Downfall I was buoyed by Harshan taking photos - thanks for the big cheer, it really did pick me up. I traded places with a few runners around me, conscious that if I relaxed too much I'd slip further and just want to sit down. The temptation to stop and take photos was immense. I resisted. Next up was Kinder Low trig and then a hello to a friends son, duly on duty with jelly babies for his mum. Down the flags and I run on the soft edges catching a lady. We chat a bit (good luck with your 12hr race next week) then I pass and just eek a few metres ahead on the approach to Edale Cross.

Around here I hear a familiar voice....Nev urging me on, well it worked as although he passed me I managed to stay in touch with him down the grassy path, over the stile (hi to Geoff marshaling) across the traverse trod and into the fields. I'm flagging and fading quite nicely by now, but its too late to try and dig out some food. I have a little water left so refresh my mouth and push on. I tell Nev I'll see him at the end but in the first field I feel good and open up my stride and seem to be catching...I wonder if I can make that stile before him....push push push and I do! and the next stile...and the next. In fact I keep Nev just on my heals all the way down until we pass the Luvshack and hit the hard surface of the road. Here Nev pulls away from me a little and I let him. Legs are heavy and I don't want to end up walking in to the end so with about 2km left I get into a pace I can hold on with.

Nev is only just ahead by 20-25m. He says he'll pick off a few runners now so I keep the distance in check and sure enough I think we overtake 2 or 3 runners. I'd like to think that I could have got past Nev in the playground but he's experienced and I know he'll have something left for the finish straight so I give him the place and just concentrate on not stopping. I can't now anyway, there's a whole gaggle of Glossopdale Harriers shouting me in, Tim's voice the loudest!! Thanks, I definitely can't stop with such support bringing me in.

Round the corner and into the finish line. Apologies if I ignored anyone there or in the field....I found myself
thanks to MossieNet for the photo
on the floor wanting to recover but ended up with cramp in my right leg. There followed a comedic conversation with Tim telling me to 'just stand up' and me replying 'not on your nelly' (maybe not so politely). A good few moments passed and I'd recovered a little. There's some good chat but soon feeling cold me and Tim head back to the scout hut to change. Cake and a drink, sunshine and results, more delightful chat and then we're done. My time wasn't on the board when we left. Tim did astounding given he ran the Three Peaks yesterday, coming in 21st today. Good to see all my fell running friends out having a blast on such a glorious sunshine day. Thank you to Dave, the marshals, tea and cake people and everyone else that got this race happening.

I'm raising funds for Glossop Mountain Rescue Team by running the Howgills Trail 26 marathon (3 weeks today) - head over to Just Giving if you'd like to sponsor me, thank you!

Full results now published, my official time is 1:54:19, and 220th/266.  In 2012 when I last did this race I was 245th/272 in 1:53:39. So, 40secs slower this time, but I did do a 13km warm up run over to the start line! Well pleased :)

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Instructor the NNAS Bronze Navigation Award

Last weekend I had the pleasure to be teaching navigation in the Peak District - this time round I was leading a two day Bronze level National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) course with four participants. The meeting point for day one was Hathersage and our route took in the church, Camp Green (a Norman earth and timber ringwork fortress), Callow Bank, Higger Tor and Carl Wark fort.

Learning how to count paces so distances can be measured
Callow Bank ahead of us
Burbage valley and a lack of plantations....don't always trust what's on the map to be on the ground!
Orientating the map with features on the ground
Checking the path ahead is the one we want
On day two we met in the centre of Castleton, right at the other end of the Hope Valley. The task for the participants today was focused on relocating themselves accurately and they all did brilliant.

Hardest part of many walks is getting out of the village on the right path
Now where exactly are we along the edge of this wall?
A challenging relocation on a wiggly contour line high above Winnats Pass
YEY!!! We've found Mam Tor by orientating our map with the compass
Using the map to find features on the ground...this time interpreting
contour lines of the great Mam Tor-Lose Hill ridge
Refinding the village of Castleton, but first relocation along
side a river by counting paces and wall junctions
I've received some super feedback from the course participants

"very much enjoyed the weekend. Lynn is an excellent and inclusive instructor."

"thanks to Lynne who was a fantastic teacher...we can't imagine a better person to learn with. [We] felt that we'd walked away being able to things we couldn't do at the start of the weekend.  The course was a perfect mix of theory and practice.  We'd love to build on what we've learned once we've done some practice and consolidation - Snowdonia this weekend will give us an ideal chance to do that.  We'd recommend the course to anyone."

If these photos have inspired you to learn navigation but you don't know your handrail from your attack point then get in touch. This weekend was a NNAS Bronze Award course but I also run bespoke private one-to-one or group tuition - course content is tailored to suit your level of knowledge (from beginner to advanced) and your pace of walking/running. I am available for instruction in the Peak District, Snowdonia and the Lake District. I've been walking and running in the hills for many years, competed in fell races that require navigation, orienteering events which are totally based on navigation, and safely got myself around hills and mountains in the UK and Europe.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Recce of the Kinder Downfall fell race

My marathon training is progressing well, and this week's long run was due today as I'm out in the hills all this weekend teaching navigation. I decided at the last minute to join friends from Glossopdale Harriers on their recce of the Kinder Downfall fell race. I know the route, but just fancied running with other people, at least for part of my run. The race route is only 16km, and I needed to be out 3 or so hours, which in distance terms could be anything from 15-20km-ish depending on ascent and motivation.

Leaving Hayfield along the race route I had planned to see how I felt at Kinder Low trig point, and if feeling good I'd extend the run back to Hayfield via South Head and Mount Famine. That's exactly what I did, and managed to get Sharn and Barry to join me too! So it was a band of six until Edale Cross, then Nev, Malc and Tony continued on the race route and us three picked up the flags round to South Head. I'll let the photos speak for how enjoyable the run was....

Approaching the White Cabins before descending down to
Kinder Reservoir and the bottom of William Clough
Exploring the path options in William Clough
My running companions as we've reached the edge path
Running towards Sandy Heys and Kinder Downfall
Blue gear and blue skies at Kinder Downfall

My last marathon training run was on Sunday and me and Zoe were on Kinder edge path in very different weather, what a contrast today - a gentle breeze and t-shirts!

My last recce of Kinder Downfall race route in full was back in 2012, the year I ran the race.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Marathon Training and the Paris-Roubaix

Kit packed & ready
Yesterday was the classic Paris-Roubaix cycle race, and the Chinley Churners Cycling Club had organised a Spring Classic tribute Sportive plus a screening of the race afterwards in the Papermill pub, Chinley. Tim was riding the sportive, so I took the chance to get a long point-to-point run in from Glossop to Chinley. I needed about 3 hours or so in my legs, distance to be approx 25km. With my route planned, I managed to recruit fellow Glossopdale Harrier, Zoe, to join me.

Our route took us from Old Glossop, up past Shelf Benches, behind James Thorn, over to Higher Shelf Stone trig point, then along Crooked Clough and to Snake pass summit. The forecast of rain was doing what it should, and so far staying north of us. A stiff Southwesterly breeze was taking care of that, and already giving us a hint of what was to come.

Zoe running up onto the edge of Kinder
As we ran along the flags from Snake summit we spent time trying to find a faint trod off to one side that would, were we to be going that way, get us back down towards Glossop. We think we found the general area....the finer navigation on that one needs some work. The ebb and flow of the paving flags and a steady running pace soon got us to Mill Hill and Zoe's declaration that she was going to run all the way up Kinder corner...which she promptly did, hats off to her! I managed to get to the top without firstly stopping my steady walk pace, and secondly being blown off. The wind was clearly picking up.

I collected Zoe from her sheltered spot behind the cairn and we headed on towards the Downfall, more aptly
Looking back down to Mill Hill from Kinder corner
viewed yesterday as the Upfall. It was doing it's classic thing of being blown straight back up and over the path. Along from Sandy Heys we adopted a comedic style of 'running' which involved guessing where your foot was going to be blown as you attempted to stay on the path - or not as the case was several times! The wind was so strong that we seriously considered linking arms to prevent ourselves ending up in Yorkshire.

A vague lull in the wind enabled us to negotiate our way past the Upfall without getting completely drenched, and found ourselves in a slightly sheltered spot. I felt battered. My legs were going ok, and my lungs. But all over body weariness from fighting against the wind was certainly adding to the challenge of my longest training run to date. I'm pretty sure that each kilometre of our run should be worth 1.5km, from the effort point of view if not actual distance covered.

Picking our way through the rocky undulating path we passed Red Brook, and soon found ourselves at Kinder Low trig point. Next up was some peaty loveliness and heather bashing across to Edale Rocks, then picking up more flagstones down to the path towards Brown Knoll. Thankfully we weren't going the way that the bog-monster lives, but bearing off to the right and over to South Head. By now we'd been going for about 3hrs, therefore my target of a 3hr run had been achieved. So, the decision was made to make our way directly to Chinley and get ourselves a good seat for watching the Paris-Roubaix.

the approach to South Head
a tad windy on top of South Head - check out Zoe's fringe!!
With map in hand (I don't know the paths down off South Head) we fought against the wind some more, down to the fields on the approach to Chinley. At the bottom of the road, just before the Old Hall in Chinley we'd clocked about 25.5km in a wind-challenged 3:44 (moving time of 3:19....did we really faff that long, or were were going backwards in the wind!). Anyway, Job Done on the training front. Time to relax and await Tim's return from the sportive. Many thanks to Zoe, without her company I'm sure the run to Chinley would have been far more of a struggle, and definitely less entertaining.

Thanks to the Chinley Churners Cycling Club and the Old Hall/Paper Mill for a putting on a great event. The buzz in the pub after the sportive was brilliant, as was the very welcome log fire.
Tim's final climb on the sportive
and into the finish he goes, well done, 2:40 I think was his time!

Sunday, 5 April 2015


No FRA rules here...number on leg!
Yes, you read it right, a Chocathlon race on Easter Saturday. Held in Marsden this race is a fun one, and I thought why the heck not. It was 9km long and had two chocolate feed stations on the way round. Bonus! I managed to recruit five other Glossopdale Harriers to have some running fun too. Meeting up at the start area the four GDH ladies donned their bee costumes, they were going to be warm in the fine weather. Myself and Alan had chosen to run as normal dressed runners. We were joined by Tim, official team photographer and chief supporter of the day.

Flying near the start
I'd looked at the route online and chose trail shoes, to be fair, xtalons would have been better for the mid portion of the race. What I hadn't appreciated was there was a blinking steep climb and descent. Advertised as an easy trail route I'd beg to differ! The first few kilometers were along the canal tow path,
Some great fancy dressed runners
muddy but well suited to trail shoes. Then a bit of road and the first chocolate feed station. I chucked a couple of bars in my bag, knowing I didn't actually need food for the race. Then came the hill, about a 70m ascent up a road but only gaining about 400m.

Wind knocked out of me and Zoe and Alan had pulled well away. As I reached a mast I could see runners heading along a nice hillside - and a bumble bee Zoe charging ahead. Go Girl! I had no idea where my fellow GDHers were behind me, not in sight, but with many twists and turns they could have been right with me.

Zoe is over there somewhere
I'd swapped places with one lass on the canal path a few times and managed to hold on to her along the road, gaining a bit as a we hit the muddy, rocky path more akin to my local running trods. The conditions under foot were muddy, and while my trail shoes coped ok there were a few sideways slides and tentative steps on steeper sections. The path undulated, a few gates, more undulations and then a long section on road. I'd been on my own a bit and started to wonder if I'd gone the wrong way. Then as tired legs from a 21km run on Thursday joined in the fun a few runners gained on me. We reached a very significant right turn....down we go.

I supposed that with all that ascent there'd be a steep down too to regain the canal path. So down we went, slip sliding down a bit on a grassy track. Then no flags? By the time I'd ummed and arrred about which way to go - there was a left or right choice to drop off the hill - there were about eight other runners all scratching their heads. Someone said right so down we went. Onto a road. No signs. More head scratching. It must be left or we'll be at the finish having only done 5km. Left it was.

Alan way ahead on the path
As we made our way past houses we could see other runners higher on the hill. Hmmm. Oh well. Some of us were on the wrong path! After about 700m we were joined by other runners coming down the hill....and we were back on track. The tiny yellow flags marking the route really weren't clear in lots of places and the indication there'd be marshals at key points just wasn't the case. Somewhere in this section I'd lost hold of the lass I kept with on the canal path. Nothing for it but to stick with the group I was with, my legs were heavy by now and my heart rate not recovering even on flat sections. So much for going out for an easy run! Somewhere in the next stretch was another chocolate feed station (a few more bars stashed in my bag, a swig of water) and some very slippy steps which I managed to negotiate safely (there were marshals here).

Approaching the final bend
At about 6km in Alan came past me chatting on about having gone the wrong seemed Zoe was way ahead and had probably gone the right way. Hmmm. Did someone switch a sign around? Alan gradually pulled away from me, I stuck with a couple who seemed about my pace, or at least the pace I could manage. We turned on the course and regained the canal tow path. Now I'd done a recce of the finish earlier, mainly because we were early and were trying to stay warm by moving around. I joined the path at lock number 34 and needed to get to (I think) lock 39. So how far apart were these locks spaced? I had no idea. More mud splashing on the path, a few short rises by each lock. All of it took it out of me and I was reduced to a walking pace a few times just to regain my breathe. I was probably holding around 5:00-5:30min/km pace in places (sometimes a bit quicker) but my heart rate would not come down. Nothing for it but to keep pushing. The end must be soon.

Sure enough, the bridge we had to duck under came, the final rise by the canal and then a slight left and up a section Tim had challenged me to run...I did, reaching the top I expected him to be there with the camera but he was a little further along. I reckoned this last flat stretch was about 400m (I should pay more attention when I do recces!). No-one close enough behind me to require me to keep pushing, but that final stretch-people will be watching consciousness that just kept my legs turning. Straight through the puddles, past Tim, and round the final bend into the finish area. Yey!

Glossopdale Bee's
Chatting about shoe choice at the finish line with Liz, Vicki and Alison
Zoe had indeed secured first lady and won a prize of a large Easter egg, Alan was second Glossopdaler in, me third, followed shortly after by Alison, Vicki and Liz. Well done all! During the run I was way too warm in my jacket - it got tied around my waist after about 2km. A lesson to me, though I do have a strong dislike to being cold. Time to dig out my gilet I think. My gloves stayed on most of the way round, if only to protect my hands should I have fallen. No results up as yet, I think I was provisionally 21st overall. All in all, a super event, and I got a super finishers t-shirt... the start of his cycle ride home