Tuesday 17 May 2011

Coast to..... Catterick

I attempted to run/walk the Wainwright Coast to Coast route during the hot, easter bank holiday. It provided a sublime challenge and an interesting route through the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Unfortunately due to an ankle pain I withdrew just after the start of my fourth day near Catterick - having started in St Bees on the West Coast - so never made the North York Moors section. Still that is over 120 miles and getting on for 40 hours on feet, so I gave it a good go. Mark, who I was running with went on and arrived mid afternoon on his fifth day, at Robin Hoods bay - over 190 miles, I joined him for a few pints!

The ankle doesn't seem too bad now, but I've adopted a sensible approach to managing it - no Fellsman and likely no LDWA 100 mile challenge either. This is all disappointing, but I've decided to prioritise the UTLD in late July and the UTMB in late August.

Below I'll add some choice pictures from route. Enjoy :¬)

Something special in Carlisle station

Looking back over St Bees from the headland at the start of day 1

Our first hill climb, Dent

Ennerdale, our entry to Lakeland

Looking towards Black sail YHA and the end of Ennerdale after a long, hot trudge along its length on an unusually hot April day. Luckily we'd found an ice cold waterfall to refill from along the way.

Leaving Ennerdale the hardway over towards Borrowdale. Though there isn't an 'easy way' from the east end of this dale to any of the neighouring dales I'm aware of! We were suffering at this point having left lunch very late. A panini at the Slate mine visitor centre really perked us up.

'Scene-stealing' Eagle Crag after Stonewhaite valley.

Greenup Edge, part of the last long climb of the day before our descent to our overnight stop in Grasmere. We arrived back just in time for a quick wash before catching the 9pm last food orders at a local pub - having been out over 12 hours and covering about 40 miles.

Day 2 - Heading up alongside Tongue Gill towards Grisedale Tarn. At this time of the day most of the sheep are still laying in.

Into the clouds, still a way off the top. Thankfully it was cooler today as we had two big climbs in the first half of todays 43-or-so-mile haul.

The start of the long descent to 'green' Patterdale.

A welcome surprise on the way down. The recently renovated Ruthwaite Lodge (climbers hut) had been borrowed by fundraisers. One of whom had made several trips up from patterdale with cakes and coffee and water for tea (heavy) the previous day and earlier today. We contributed and got a cake and brew. I hope their efforts were rewarded by the many daywalkers and C2C'ers on route that day!

Dollywaggon Pike, High Crag and Nethermost Pike behind us as we descend into Grisedale.

Leaving Patterdale behind. The water in view is the southern tip of Ullswater.

Angle Tarn, an interesting feature on route over our second high pass of the day. On the way to the Knott we somehow got sidetracked and climbed Rest Dodd instead! No great harm done though as we were able to descend along the wall and we cut as close to the fall at Rampsgill Head as we dared to steal some distance back on route to the highest point on route - Kidsty Pike.


Sunday 1 May 2011

Its been awhile

I've struggled a bit for inspration and a lot for time to blog recent events. So here is my summary.

Early March saw what felt like a well earned rest from training and holiday from work. Behind the tourism I learned Tenerife has a lot to offer the hill runner. I didn't run much, but in my jaunts from my hotel in Los Gigantes there was a great climb of about 400ft in less than a mile just to get to the road to the next town, which was itself a tad undulating. My last mornings training run saw me keep heading out of town along the winding road into the hills to the next town. A bracing 1000ft in less than 3.5m and the same descent to follow. So, no trail running, no problem.

The potential of Tenerife doesn't end there. In the centre of this comparatively small Island, ringed by peaks sits the Las Canadas caldera - at over 2000 metres - and somewhere in the middle the highest peak - Mt Teide at about 3718m. Not a little bit impressed? Well remember Ben Nevis only pokes up to 1344 metres and the highest peak in europe - Mt Blanc - is less than 1100 metres higher. Ultra Tour de Tenerife anybody?

Only a few weeks later I was back testing myself in the UK on paths and trails sitting atop the North York Moors. Last years freezing cold, 'clag down', conditions were replaced with quite the opposite this year. Slightly pleasing is that I was faster on nearly every section this year than last. But the full story saw me tired by Osmotherley and haemorraging pace over the tough 20m to Kildale. 12hrs5mins was an improvement on last year, but I felt a bit disapointed with a less than 30min improvement given the conditions and another year of experiance and training.

I got a bit of salvation in my next ultra a few weeks later. Another sunny day - were going to pay big time for all this weather 'luck' soon! - for the Calderdale Hike. 36 or so miles of self navigating along a pleseantly challenging and varied route in Calderdale and the Pennines. I'd enjoyed this one last year and this year I had a good run, keeping a good pace and achieving a 7:14 time for 36.6m. Being not far over the 36m 'advertised' meant some savvy navigating and a few cock-ups too, but overall a good day running. Making good pace in a good group of 4 runners for the latter miles. This route which visits Stoodley Pike, Thievely pike and Sunny bank amongst other climbs will be changed for next years event. A bit of a shame, but who knows, there could be another classic in the pipeline.

Next up came a 5 day Coast to Coast attempt. I'll save this one for the next post.