Saturday, 26 December 2009

Lies, damned lies and statistics

According to Wikipedia - "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions.

However I do like a good stat, though I understand it may mean nothing to others. But a few here and there do summarise a good year. I'll add some more fun notes in here about favourite runs, events, lowlights and highlights too. In a hope to perhaps persuade any interested others that there is fun to be had "out in tham, thar, hills!".

Year - Time running - Mileage - Av min/mile pace - Av week miles
2008   204:07:08          1369.25    08:57                        26.3
2009   276:20:15          1766.06    09:23                        32.1 far

At first glance, I've done more, but got slower. This is totally a consequence of the type of running I've been doing. Many more long, off-road events where fast pace isn't possible or sensible. So the stats don't tell the full story. Two recent events probably do; Rudolph's Romp and the Langdale End XC. Different ends of the off-road racing spectrum, 24.5m and 5.5m. Conditions were a little better in both this year, though still muddy at the Rudolph and filthy muddy at Langdale in the North York Moors. But conditions weren't improved enough to justify a 39min and 5min+ improvements, respectively. On the road I've done less, to an extent where I' recording significantly more trail shoe mileage than in road shoes. Howeverm, I've still squeezed out a small 10k PB, a sub 20min 5k and nearly 6mins off my half marathon as part of a general improvement from the higher mileage.

A few highlights/honourable mentions:

Event I'd recommend to any runner - Trollers Trot, nr. Skipton, North Yorks. Excellent LDWA challenge, very runnable but with great variety and scenery. Not to mention usual good food choice and marshalling.

Event I'd recommend to a nutter - Burnsall Classic fell race, nr.Skipton, North Yorks. Nearly 900ft up, same down, all in just over 1.5m. The steepest part of the ascent was exhilerating and quite scary. Feels amazing to have done something like that.

Eye opener - Sedbergh Hills, Cumbria, day after Burnsall. Massive grassy hills, foul weather. AL Fell race, and not one of the easier ones I'd have thought. The first climb is a monster that is mostly walked, the first descent is leg-mashingly steep, from there on the pattern repeats nearly throughout. I fell several times on the wet grassy descents where I couldn't control my speed an daren't let loose due to risk of injury.

Best event of the Year - Trollers runs it close, but I'd have to say the Exterminator, nr. Sheffield. It's classed as AL fell race like Sedbergh, but in truth is nothing like as mean. Great variety with some long runnable sections, steep climbs, fast woodland descents, boulder scrambles and great views.

Toughest LDWA challenge - Moors the Merrier, Mytholmroyd, West Yorks. Killer tussocks, mud, open moorland navigation meaning some people racked up several extra miles. It broke my trail shoe! Do it though, you'll love it, great food throughout and a varied, scenic route.

Toughest trail marathon - Atlantic Coast challenge, day 3, Cornwall. After two days of undulating runnable trails. This day the course got really ragged in places and packed in nearly twice the undulation of day 2. Here was me thinking tough moorland running only existed in the hills of the North, Scotland, Wales and Dartmoor. Try it on its own for a great challenge, do all three days if you dare.

Best road race - Ok, I'm not totally down on road racing. Throw in some scenery and challenge like at Snowdonia and I'll be back year on year.

Personal lowlight - London marathon. I persisted at 3:30 pace for over 20 miles before every muscle in my leg started to cramp. I persisted well between cramps to manage 3:39, but I was gutted. The pounding and effect of cramps meant I didn't run well again for months. I think the whole experiance has made me realise what I really want to be doing in trainers.

Oddest occurance - I split my shoe at about 7m on the Moors the Merrier, something felt wrong but I didn't relise one shoe has split on instep from not far off toe to heel. I kept going in a strange gait to try and stop my foot slipping out of shoe, periodically clearing out pieces of grit to complete the 20.5m course. Made me realise how tough barefoot runners must be.

Best day out - Osmotherley Phoenix, North Yorks. After 33 miles of hilly trails on a scorching day what could be better than laying on a grass verge at a lively village show before visiting the  three lively village pubs 9a stones throw apartr), fish and chips, various competitions. Even a womens drinking competition.


  1. a grand year in all de..using pure observation and not stats id say you've made a massive leap this year

    osmoth is one of my favourites too..but i wouldnt dare enter the womens drinking contest

  2. Looks like a good year. suprised to see the london marathon in there. Osmoth 33? might be one for me next year, womens drinking contest, like it.

  3. Cheers UC. Andrew, Yup, London marathon, won't be bothering with that silly little provincial race again. Unless very slowly dressed as a 10ft telephone box for charidee'. Osmotherley is a great first ultra, quite good underfoot for off-road and some big hills to show off about afterwards.

  4. a super year danny! bring on 2010!