Thursday, 18 March 2010

Time is Short, Eternity is Long

At the time of writing in 2 days I'll be 6 hours in to my first 50+ mile run - hopefully around halfway! I shouldn't be, but I'm more than a little nervous. Those who see this who are more ultra experienced than me will hopefully be empathetic, or tell me to "quit my whining" and "grow a pair" those who don't run beyond marathon will think were all mad - until they try this - anyway. I guess the scariest thing is the jump from a longest run of 37m to 55 miles. In marathon training you only fear an extra few miles on top of your longest run, but I wouldn't be sane if I ran a 45-50 in training for 55. So it is a fear of the unfamiliar. Although I am confident in my training mileage and variety and how I have physically coped with it.
A quick catch up...


My last long run was on Saturday. I arranged to join Mike Blamires for a section of the Wolds Way. I was spoilt for choice as to which section as Mike planned to do all of it - after all he is training for the Grand union Canal race. I chose the, hopefully picturesque, section from Wharram Percy to Nunbornholme - a section I haven't done before as its a good 30mins drive or more to either end point of this section.

I'd been at the car park a short while when Mikes support team - his dad Dave - turned up and informed me he was a little behind schedule. Not a pace issue, but he'd had navigational problems near the start, when it was pitch black not long after 3am. We passed the ruins of Wharram Percys ancient Church and climbed up the dale towards Thixendale - topping out at over 700ft. We ran a long for a few miles talking about mostly running. Mike was going well past 40 miles in but was suffering a niggle.

Unfortunately the niggle in his foot became a sharp pain on an ascent just before our Huggate checkpoint. After much discussion he tried to push on, but only gt another 200 yards before he decided it was not worth going on, this being training and not the target itself. It was a shame for Mike as 80 miles would be a great confidence booster for 145 miles - I can barely contemplate that distance on foot in one go. Dave and I did our best to reassure and Mike did seem ok about it.

It was a great running route with large dry dales and valleys, almost symmetrically scuplted out of the earth. After retrieving my car I coldn't resist heading back to where we'd left off for a few more miles. getting to about Millington where after having done one steep decsnt and climb I decided a few miles later at the top of the next to turn back. As usual the pictures don't quite seem to capture it - I suspect a camera which could do them justice may be too bulkly to cart around long distances. I'd ran through or into or over numerous beautiful and undisturbed dales today, many without the seemingly obligatory road through along the bottom that I'm used to in hiller areas. This all added to the sense of isolation and fulfilment.

In case you were wondering the title of this post is lovingly plagiarised from the clockface of a church on the Wolds Way.

Fight club

After noticing a sheep struggling with a lame leg a few weeks back I have been paying more attention to sheep [INSERT YOUR OWN JOKE HERE] - god knows I see enough of them! On the Wolds Way I saw several with a lame front or back leg, one poor blighter was running away from me at the top of the dale as fast as he/she could in tripedal fashion. Unfortunately I wasn't able to communicate my live and let live policy and persuade it to just stop and let me pass. Looking at them with their four spindly, narrow legs and large, fatty and wool covered bodies they look badly designed for hills yet always seem to hang around on them. With two strong legs us humans have no excuse.

So is it the rugged landscape that causes the biped and occasionally, grizzly, ex-sheep you pass on a long country jaunt. You could be forgiven for thinking so - but alas no. On my travels I have heard Sheep from neighouring dales have often strayed to there neighbours to communicate the time and place for sheep Fight Club. Its a grizzly, to death or dismemberment battle that would eliminate our imaginings of these four-legged death machines as being cute and cuddly forever - should we ever see it. However we never will, so I can only speculate and imagine on.......

Sizing up my opponent

Mothering Sunday took family and I to Over Silton (pronounced "Ov-aa"). This is a tiny village just to the south of Osmotherley with about the most remote and inspiring little church ever. I know this area through my Grandma being buried here, its not your average graveyard as picture aludes - with my Dad and other Gran posing near my trusty chariot. I've loved this area since my first visit for her funeral a decade ago. Which shows I've always been a lover of the outdoors, despite not knowing it back then. Whichever approach you take to the church you have to slop through mud and follow invisible paths up the grassy hill, The church itself could be mistaken as abandoned - no power and no running water as far as I'm aware. Also due to the tiny local population some of the graves are centuries old and some of the locals lived to good ages in what I'm sure were harder times.

This trip also gave me a chance to size up my opponent. Less than a mile east the Cleveland way passes on its way over Black Hambleton (399m), up above, and from a distance on the approach you can see the ridge towering up above the flatter land between Yorks dales and North York Moors. In fact if your doing the Phoenix this year - and you should - the large Plantation to you left just before the turn off down to Osmotherley at the end is planted on Nether Silton Moor.


  1. danny you'll be fine believe me. you're training sounds spot on and youll be surprised how well you cope. my only tip in facing the mileage 'leap' is just to consider each and every step forward as progress, enjoy the moment, and dont focus on the destination. i think of them as a grand day (and sometimes part night) out rather than a race..but then i am slow!
    most of all enjoy it. im sure you will
    good luck lad!

  2. It's a small world, Danny. I know Mike from a few events (Round Rotherham, Osmotherley Phoenix, among others). Those Yorkshire Dales certainly are picturesque.

    I'm looking forward to your Hardmoors 55 report. Good luck. With your recent running record I know you'll do well.

  3. Cheers guys, Hardmoors done, feel pretty good for it too. Report to follow.

  4. Looking forward to the report - well done 55 under the belt. More than enough inspiration for me to start stretching out the lsr's