2 days until 12 hour treadmill challenge

20 11 2014


So with only a few days left and my first ever experience of ‘runners knee’, I’ve been taking it easy. I did an hour on the above treadmill last night, this is the machine I’ll be using, kindly provided by Ribby Hall. It’s nice and roomy, with easy controls and a handy shelf for food/ water/ iPod etc. If I could change two things it would be the automatic reset when the machine is paused for more than 60 seconds and the units of distance are in kilometres. Otherwise it feels more than up to the task!

As I hinted my knee has been niggling, patellar tendonosis. I have no doubt this will be exposed on Saturday and is my biggest risk.


I’ve been practicing my Kenisiology taping- not too shabby if I do say so myself šŸ˜€

I’m apprehensive about the practicalities. Normally I prepare and plan a race single-handedly, for this I’m relying on two hotels and numerous individuals… More chance for something to go wrong.

I’ve downloaded an audiobook- I went for ‘Life Without Limits’ by Chrissie Wellington and I’ve treated myself to a new album ‘Bob Seger and the silver bullet band’- good old classic rock n roll, easy to run too, nice tempo for running šŸƒ

So tomorrow evening I’ll nip to the hotel and see the set up, collect everything on my list (see previous blog post) and rest!

There’s still time to donate to this wonderful cause!

Wish me luck šŸ˜‰



12 hours on a treadmill- the list

18 11 2014


So what do I think I’ll need to be self supported for 12 hours on a treadmill?


First up I needed the support of a wife who’s willing to hold the fort (not for the first time) while I disappear for 2-3 hours training. I have had that in bucket loads. I’ve had the added bonus of running with the boys, the younger ones in a jogging buggy and the older ones on their bikes, accompanying me on weekend runs. I get some odd looks with the buggy, I have to say! This challenge is as much my families challenge as mine. They have sacrificed for the goal of raising as much as we can for Brian House, they’ve been with me every step x


Back to the practical stuff. Second up I need a treadmill. This has been the single biggest logistical challenge. I have borrowed a home treadmill to train on but I think for 12 hours of almost constant use I’d need a commercial treadmill. I explored many avenues and despite lots of enthusiasm there’s was always an issue that couldn’t be over come. Finally through a friend of a friend and the support of a local hotel and holiday village, Ribby Hall were able to provide and transport one of their machines to and from the venue. I am extremely grateful, without them it simply couldn’t have happened!

With 5 days to go I’m starting to focus on the practicalities. It’s not as easy as I’d have thought. Unlike my ultramarathons it isn’t supported (catered). The bonus is I won’t need to fit all this in a backpack and the waterproofs, compass, map and head torch can stay at home!

So for anyone interested, I think I’ll need:

– water 24 x 500ml
– electrolytes – Elete
– carb drink – Vitargo
– protein drink
– drinks bottles
– cold pizza
– mince pies
– Soreen
– trail mix
– haribo
– snickers
– paracetamol
– iPod
– iPad
– charger
– blister plasters
– lubricant
– running shoes x3
– socks x6
– shorts x3
– tshirt x6
– towels
– garmin HRM
– sweat bands
– Kenisiology Tape
– first aid pack
– foam roller
– The Stick – massage stick
– pen and paper (to record distance if the machine is stopped)
– calf guards
– deodorant (I’d imagine 12 hrs on a treadmill will be a smelly business!!)
– crocs for after and my diner suit as I’ll be going straight to the Tinkerbell Ball (also in aid of Brian House)

That’s what I can think of. I’ve been up since 3:45 am with baby Miles so it’s given me the chance to compose this list (thanks son x!)

If you think this is worthy of your support please donate a few pennies to Brian House Children’s Hospice, THANKS X



Brian House Children’s Hospice – 12 hour challenge

5 11 2014


Brian House

This week I took a trip to meet the staff and patients at Brian House. It is an inspirational and happy place.

They run this facility without any central funding, they get the occasional grant, as long as they jump through multiple hoops but otherwise it is run off the good will of the community. I can’t fathom a community that would not wish to invest in a dignified life, end of life and death of its young.

I had a glimpse and couldn’t help but reflect on my personal circumstances, having a 6 year old son battling with cancer and how I hope to never require such support.

The majority of their patients do not have cancer but are terminally ill with multiple complex needs. The care they need and the support their families require is enormous and to think without Brian House, the people of Blackpool, Lytham, St Annes, Poulton and the rest of the Fylde coast would need to face this unimaginable battle, alone. That would be a tragedy. Two childrens hospices have had to recently close elsewhere in the country, this is why Brian House needs our support!


I am doing what I can to help – I can run!


12 Hour treadmill challenge

On the 22nd November 2014 I will run for 12 hours on a treadmill from 8am to 8pm at the Grand Hotel in St Annes, the venue of the Tinkerbell Ball (also in aid of Brian House). With my youngest lad just turned 8 weeks old, I have not had time to train for this but I run as often as I can.

This will be a monumentally difficult challenge!!!


ul water trailThis week I have mainly recovered from last weekends trail run. I’ve managed one and a half hours on the treadmill and it wasn’t too bad! I’m planning on doing as many miles as I can but last nights effort was encouraging (an hour at world record beating pace!). Now I just have to string 12 of those back to back, job done!


No one ever wants to need a service like this but for those that do, we need to do everything we can to ensure it’s ready for them. Have one less drink this weekend and chuck a couple of quid into the pot to help children who will not live to be adults. Please sponsor me for this great cause.JustGiving - Sponsor me now!




Sunday run

3 11 2014

Sunday Run- Ullswater Trail race

This was my 3rd time running the event. I’ve done really well in previous years ending up with a 4th place at my last outing.

This year was different. I’d planned to take it easy, I have a 12 hour treadmill challenge in less than three weeks and a hammering over the hills is something my quads would not thank me for!


I’d reasoned with myself all week and had convinced myself to stick to a low heart rate and race in my MAF range (137-147). Despite this I knew that come race day I would have the little racing gremlin appear on my shoulder and whisper in my ear- “go on lad, smash it!” (my racing gremlin has a Yorkshire accent for some unbeknown reason). The wee Yorkshireman was finally silenced as I waited to board the Ullswater steamer, we watched the Patterdale Mountain rescue lads gathering kit to make a rescue. On the boat it was announced that someone had suffered a severe head injury and another runner had a bad ankle injury, a third runner required an ambulance for an ankle injury…. It was not a day to race!

screenshot from the Mountain rescue website

screenshot from the Mountain rescue website


The conditions were not too dissimilar to previous years. It’s a trail race, through a forested area in the Lakes in autumn. It has lots of fallen leaves, tree roots, it’s wet, rocky and very slippy (infact a few years ago it had snowed!)


conditions were moody

conditions were moody


Stevie G and I settled into the lower deck of the steamer for a nice warm crossing. Up above Pete Lashley was belting out the songs to keep those braving the elements, happy. The only thing I missed this year was the absence of ghostbusters and the gingerbread man.


We disembarked at Howtown and got straight to business. After a minute or so we were off. Through Bobbin Mill (the Lakeland 50 CP1 or lakeland 100 CP 9) and I was grateful to not have to climb Fusdale Steve has a great name for a 10k- the ‘Fusdale F**ker’ – now there’s a race I’d have nightmares about!).

There’s a decent pull from the off with the reward of a flowing downhill before we get to the technical stuff. I was really enjoying it and it was great to see 50+ runners stretched out in front of us, dayglow seems to be this seasons ‘look’, pink, yellow, orange green, you name it, there was someone sporting the brightest variant on the side of Ullswater on Sunday. I managed to stay in my target heart rate zone for most of the first half, indeed most of the race with the occasional flutter over 150 (no such luck for Mr G) but that was rare. At this more leisurely pace I was able to take in the beauty of my surroundings and really enjoy the moment. I was grinning from ear to ear as I ran, this is what it’s all about!Ā 

The single track technicality of this event means you need to be on it 100% of the time, each footing needs focus if you’re moving at anything more than a walk or you’ll be eating dirt or worse still have a facefull of rock!

At the 3/4 way mark there is a notorious climb of steps which we definitely walked but I was ready for the photographers who craftily pray on their victims at the top and had broken into a run again, just in time!

Then it started to lash it down, biblical stylie! The grass decent turned to a waterfall and the paths turned to rivers in a matter of seconds. It was awesome. It felt just like being a little kid as I chased Steve, splashing our way off the hillside. Thoroughly soaked and thoroughly happy we made our way toward the finish. The only thing that slowed us down was Steve needing to cardiovert himself from intermittent extreme tachycardia. I couldn’t convince him to walk it off. His HR would drop and he’d just start running again (and they say the Irish are stupid…). Either way we made it to the end without the need for and resuscitation (thank goodness, I was to tired to do CPR!).


All-in-all a great race, I recommend this to anyone wanting to experience what it’s all about. It’s one of my favourite races on the calendar!


29 10 2014

Quick update on life:



First up- new baby!

The aptly named son of an Ultrarunner, Miles, was born on 31 August, weighing in at 8lb 13oz. He is now 8 weeks oldĀ and he is perfect (or rather, perfect but noisy!).

Not long after he was born his three brothers came to visit us on the maternity unit. Sat holding miles whilst the other boys clambered for a cuddle with their mum, everything in the world felt ‘right’. There is something about ‘FOUR‘ that works. I never had a sense that three kids was wrong but something about our four boys somehow felt right (there’s no better way I can describe it…).

Training with 3 kids is a challenge, add a new born and the challenge is doubled. To be honest I’ve not trained too much lately just ticking over 3-4 hours a week. But as I like a challenge and struggle to subscribe to the attitude of ‘can’t’ soĀ I’ve decided it’s time to get uncomfortable again…

I’m going to run 12 hours on a treadmill to try and raise as much money as I can for Brian House Children’s Hospice.

Brian House Children’s Hospice

Brian House is a specialist unit within Trinity Hospice specialising in palliative care for children. It is a fully equipped childrenā€™s hospice, not a holiday centre, and caters entirely for children who live on Fylde Coast. As one of only a handful of local childrenā€™s hospices in the UK it currently supports over 80 families.

Although we’ve had a tough 12 months and our battle with cancer continues. I feel ready to put some of my energy back into helping others. This is the first of these challenges. I believe in turning challenging situations into opportunities and I want to channel some of my strength gained over the last 12 months to generate something for others who face even bigger battles.

The nitty gritty

Training wise, I’m not prepared and with an event date of the 22nd of November, that’s fact will remain true. I can’t currently source a treadmill so the fallback will be running round the block (approximately a half mile loop). The date is fixed to take place in conjunction with The Tinkerbell Ball, an annual charity event raising money for Brian House.

The physical challenge is only one aspect. The mental aspect will be enormous. Treadmill or loop will require I bring new coping strategies to deal with the monotony. I’m not sure how this will work but I know if it’s a treadmill I’ll need to get on one soon because I’ve not been on one for almost 10 years and there’s a technique to it and you use different muscles compared to road running…

I’m making the most of my time


  • With 4 boys there’s no space for sitting around. Playing outside is a training opportunity… Some strides and core work tied to a game of tig.
  • Long runs are done in stages. 1 hour accompanied with Harry on his bike, one hour pushing the baby jogger with Riley for added weight and another hour pushing Ellis (thats 3 hours, 2 of them pushing a jogger). It all adds up to a good session on a Sunday. The car is left at home 2-3 days a week whilst I run commute an hour each way and any missed training is squeezed in late at night, some nights i’ve been known to head out the door at 11pm for a 2 hour run in the rain and wind (like I continually say I’m not special, “I’m just willing to do today what others won’t so some day I’ll be able to do what others can’t” ….
  • Organisation and planning – The morning is non stop from 6:45 to running out the door at 8am (or just after). Packed lunches, breakfasts, school clothes on, teeth, hair and ready to go….

Organisation is not an option!


Where I’m up to with 3 weeks to go:

So now I’ve built up to 8-9 hours a week of running and have a few races over the next few weeks. The Lakeland Trails 15k and then the first recce day of the Lakeland 100 course in preparation for next year. I’ll take it easy on both although the recce will be a significant challenge as I’ve not been in the hills since July so I’d expect my quads to take a hammering!

Besides the hilly races I hope to put in a few hours on a treadmill and then bosh I’m out of time and the challenge will be upon me.



IĀ will tackle the treadmill from 8am ā€“ 8pm on Saturday 22 November 2014 in the lead up to the seventh annual Tinkerbell Ball which is being held at The Grand Hotel, Lytham that evening. The Ball is held every year to raise funds for Brian House.

I amĀ aiming to clock up as many miles as I can during the 12 hour stint. The furthest I have travelled in 12 hours is about 45 miles (although that was in a hilly race), the longest I’ve ever run on a treadmill was 99 minutes (in 2006).

Rules of the game:

  • A standard treadmill exercise fitness machine should be used for the attempt.
  • The setting of the machine is at the discretion of the competitor (but using downhill mode is not an option).
  • It is not permitted to lean on the “handle-bar”.
  • The belt must be strictly stopped before the atemptee leaves the treadmill.
  • The venue for the record attempt will be open to the general public for the duration of the attempt
  • Rest breaks may be taken at the discretion of the competitor but they are included within the time for the attempt. The clock does not stop. It will be from 8am to 8pm on the 22 November 2014
  • A log book will show the time taken for rest breaks as well as the distance and timeĀ between each rest break

To sponsor me please visit: www.justgiving.com/tinkerbellball

Tickets for the Tinkerbell Ball are available and cost Ā£37.50 each. Please contact Emma Cox by calling 07808821397 to purchase.

All proceeds raised will go directly to Brian House Childrenā€™s Hospice.


any tips, advice on the challenge – please leave a comment below, thanks.


12 08 2014

It all sounds a bit new, doesn’t it?

New life

Nothing as radical as upping sticks and moving to the other side of the globe but at some point in the next few weeks our lives will change forever… Baby number 4 is due! The eagle-eyedĀ will have noticed my wife in the picture taken at Ambleside in the L50 (she hasn’t got a beach-ball stuffed up her top).

I needed my good luck kiss!

I needed my good luck kiss!

So what will it be like to be an Ultra-running dad of 4? I have an idea it may be even more challenging than now but I like a challenge.

Kids just add to the challenge and make it even more satisfying (especially when they come to watch!). I also have an amazingly supportive wife who rises to every challenge laid before her – a few examples of how she deals with everything I throw at her:

  1. in 2007 our first son is born (one is easy)
  2. in 2008 our second son is born (two is trickier but I make it even trickier- the day after he was born I decided to take up Rugby after a 14 year break from the sport. I played and trained for 2 seasons)Ben Trend Memorial match
  3. in 2010 I took up triathlon
  4. in 2011 Our 3rd son was born, less than 2 weeks later I did my first half Ironman (not one to do things by halves I did Coniston Old Man – one of the toughest in the UK)
  5. in 2011, when my youngest was only 8 weeks old I completed Ironman UK (and my wife was out on the course cheering me on!)
  6. in 2012 I found Ultra… I did my first Ultra the Lakeland 50…what happens with lack of sleep...
  7. 5 weeks later I did my second ultra… 131 miles Ring O Fire!
  8. not put off, I ploughed on and to complete my first 100 mile race, Lakeland 100 in 2013
  9. with heavily pregnant wife I returned to the Lakeland 50 this year (with full support from my wife, kids, brother and family and the in-laws)

This is a very high level of what my close family put up with and for that I will be forever grateful!


I can’t see that I’ll have much time to do anything in a few weeks so I best lay some plans down now:


New Running Goals

In order of importance to me:

  1. my A*** race is the 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra –Ā The Cape Wrath Ultraā„¢ is a once in a lifetime, 8-day expedition race weaving 400km through the Highlands of Scotland. Starting in Fort William, the race will take competitors on an incredible journey linking ancient footpaths and remote tracks to the furthest northwesterly point of the British Isles, Cape Wrath. With towering mountains on one side and the crashing ocean on the other, the Cape Wrath Ultraā„¢ travels through stunning scenery and remote wilderness with every step north.
  2. July 2015 –Ā Lakeland 100 – I have unfinished business here (in 2013 I was a lot fitter than my 39 hour finishing time suggests, I am capable of going sub 30 on that course)
  3. May 2015 – ThamesĀ Path 100Ā 
  4. Marathon PB (nothing booked yet, need to see if I get a spot in London)


New Training

I’ve not quite settled on the detail of training plans etc yet however I will be giving MAF a real focus this year to see what results I get. I took a time crunched approach to training last year with fewer miles at higher intensity and this worked to some degree in shorter races but I don’t feel it worked for Ultras.

I’ll do a more detailed review of my training logs but my best seasons were 2011 and 2013. Both of which were consistent training at a relatively low intensity (akin to MAF)

MAF formulae

So it’s low intensity training, dictated by Heart rate training zone, for me:

180-38+5= 147 bmp

I’ll focus on keeping my HR between 137-147 bpm

I’ve done this with good success previously but what I’ve not done is combine HR training on the terrain of the course I’m aiming to race. The Lakeland 100 is hilly. I’ve trained on hills with good results and I’ve done MAF training on the flat with good results. For 12 months I will do both! I plan to build up my mileage to aim for a consistent block of training in SpringĀ >100 miles per week. I will then focus on quality back to back long runs leading up to the Thames path 100 of 50+ miles (eg 15+35 or 25+25 on consecutive days) on flat terrain (race specific for 6 weeks). then I will have a short recovery block before a focus on the Lakeland 100 of back to back long runs in the hills. I plan to do all of this at MAF intensity.


I’ll update the blog with a more specific plan once I get something on paper. My focus until christmas will be 5-6 runs per week of at least an hour in duration, building from current 20 miles/ week up to 80 miles. Slow easy and maintain long run of 20ish miles ready for the new year push up to bigger milage. I will try and get to a hill once a week also.


In addition to running I would like to build my core and upper body strength with body weight exercises and this will all be supported by suitable nutrition (aiming for my high fat low carb philosophy with a focus on real food and minimal processed crap!)


Lets see how that lot goes with 3 boys and a newborn baby, sleepless nights and all the rest of what life throws our way….




What are your goals?



You can’t fake the Lakeland 50 – 2104

31 07 2014

Just like the terrain – there were ups and downs

This race was a very different experience for me, good and bad. SONY DSC


  • The main negative was a lack of preparation. Relying on ‘thinking that I’d done enough training’ doesn’t work as well as ‘ACTUALLY doing enough training!’ I learned this the hard way as I ascended Fusdale (more later).
  • It was hot
  • The stem ginger wasn’t enough to combat the constant battle with disabling nausea
  • I was very slow
  • I couldn’t get fluid or calories on board
  • At times I hated it
  • A 2L bladder was the right call!

    A 2L bladder was the right call!


  • Firstly, the positives were numerous and more than made up for the negatives!
  • I had an awesome week before the race, holidaying in Coniston with Nicola and our three boys and my wee bro (Kyle), Liesa and their two boys – we had walks, day trips, a wild swim in Tarn Hows, picnics, beers and all the other wonderful things one does whilst on your jollies šŸ™‚
  • I had amazing support from Nicola and her dad and Kyle who tracked me all day (I’m sure they were more than a little humoured by my laughable checkpoint time predictions when they compared that to reality – I was about 5 hours slower than I’d hoped to be!)
  • I didn’t get blisters
  • I didn’t get cramp (the Salomon Speedcross 3 worked well)
  • My legs were strong to the end, I even ran down the final descent to Coniston, which is no mean feat!
  • At times I loved it


Why so Different?

Looking at these lists, on balance, it was a positive experience. In fact so much so, that I wouldn’t go back and change anything if I had the choice. Due to life circumstances I didn’t have any more training time. The main difference this year was lack of miles. You’ll remember from my last postĀ that my training time was a lot less than the previous year and my attempt to ‘fake it’ didn’t really work. ‘Belief’ on it’s own is not enough, there has to be substance. Either do the training miles or pay the price. I paid the price… I learned lessons from the alternate approach. Train more, start even slower (it’s a long race and the tortoise will win), take an anti-emetic (anti-sickness tablet), if it’s hot race goals should be adjusted and finally even when it’s hard it can still be fun!

The race report is split up into the sections of the race, I have referenced my planned race times that I’d like to have paced at from my previous races and recce runs. They went out the window after the first checkpoint (CP)


I got my gear together on Thursday night. I’d chucked all my running gearĀ in a ‘bag-for-life’ and luckily everything I needed to race was in there. I trimmed the unnecessary weight and settled on:

  1. My pack was UltraSpire Omega
  2. mandatory kit
  3. fleecy arm warmers (worked well)
  4. 6 gels (I only consumed one)
  5. stem ginger
  6. Elete (concentrate electrolyte)
  7. 2L bladder (good decision)
  8. cap
  9. I wore – compression 3/4 length tights (Nike), compression t-shirt with Ironman Tank top, DryMax socks (worked well), Salomon Speedcross 3, Garmin 310, Oakley sunglasses

We were staying a few miles away from race HQ so I nipped up to John Ruskin in the morning to register and get my kit checked. I weighed in a few grams heavier than last year (66.2kg). Then it was back to family fun. We had a relaxed day with Nicola’s mum and dad down by the lake, the boys were treasure hunting on Coniston shore, no major finds but they seemed more than satisfied with pieces ofĀ broken crockery.

I might come across like a right ‘country-bumpkin’ (I’m not, honestly) but I had my first iced mocha in the Bluebird Cafe, by the lake and it was heavenly! I was much less focused on pre-race nutrition than in previous years. I had tried to keep my diet clean(ish) but made exceptions with a beer or two and whipped cream on my mocha (my new favourite drink!).

Later we headed back to the school and I had a chat with Mick a fellow Ultra runner who was marshalling at the gate before meeting Kyle, Liesa and the boys to cheer the 100 guys off. I got the urge again… I will be back for the 100 next year! I wasn’t racing but I was getting emotional watching the 100 warriors go to battle, I wanted to be on the other side of the barriers and starting the race. Nessun Dorma was preformed live and the hairs on the back of my neck stood to attention (perhaps not for everyone but this was my Ironman song in 2011 and before Marc decided it was to be the anthem for the 100, it was my 2013 Lakeland 100 song). Kyle summed up the 100 start perfectly for me – he said “it’s like watching Gladiators going into theĀ Amphitheatre”.


Not quite as graphic as the Lakeland 100 but not far off!

The Lakeland 1

only a few months ago...

only a few months ago…

For me the highlight of 2014!

As readers know we’ve had a an extremely tough year. For me this was the perfect end. It was a good day for the wee man. Some days he doesn’t have the energy to move far at all. Today he completed the Lakeland 1… After what he’s been through this would be a walk in the park. I watched him struggle with his breathing and his leg weakness as we set off from the school, yet he wouldn’t give up, he’s a fighter. To think he was toeing the start line of his first race sporting his recently newly, re-grown hair only 6 weeks after finishing his treatment is a miracle. I pray this will be the first of many races and I was welling up as Riley crossed the finish line, letting go of my hand as he saw the finish, to sprint as fast as legs would carry him.

It was the best run of my life, bar none!! I AM ONE VERYĀ PROUD DAD!


Now he's jumping for joy

Now he’s jumping for joy

Race Day

One year wiser and a lot more grey!

One year wiser and a lot more grey!

I slept well and woke early. Nipped up to the school for the race briefing and then back to kiss the boys before Kyle picked me up. We drove up to Dalemain, hampered by traffic but still made it in good time. It was really good to see Stevie G and finally meet Mrs G who’d made the trip up to cheer us off. I had a brief chat to a fellow 50 guy I know, Chris. Final nerves dispatched in the porta loo and we were ready for the off. Kyle was running the Dalemain loop with me and I was really looking forward to it. We were given the 30 second warning… plenty of time to text Nic to tell her I love her… No sooner had I got my phone out… 10,9,8… shit, furious typing… get my phone away and backpack on… 2,1 – GO! We were off I was still doing up my straps as we started moving.

1. Dalemian to Howtown

Planned Time: 1:47

Actual time: 1:50

Distance between checkpoints: 11.7 km (7.4 miles) Ascent: 294m (965ft) Descent: 285m (935ft)

The Dalmain loop was fine, it was great to run with Kyle. I think I’ve said before, generally, I’d rather run races alone. I know of a few people I could run the whole race with and Kyle is one of them (some day perhaps). It felt lonely as he peeled off at the end of the loop and it also felt a touch harder than I’d expected. I felt the gel I’d had in the car was a mistake as it hadn’t seemed to have shifted from my stomach… Onward toward Howtown. I felt strong on the climb out of Pooley Bridge despite the blistering heat but as it flattened off and I started running my legs felt drained. Eh? I’ve only covered about 5 miles and I’m feeling tired, I had a sense that this might not be as straight forward as I’d thought. Perhaps it would pass, after all I’m just warming up, right? I filled my bladder at Howtown, no food.

2. Howtown to Mardale Head

Planned Time: 2:18

Actual time: 3:15

Distance between checkpoints: 15.2km (9.4miles) Ascent: 765m (2510ft) Descent: 672m (2205ft)

The worst leg of the race for me. I started feeling a bit rough coming out of Howtown. I only just managed to break into a jog and smile for Laura from @Sportsunday Photography but then quickly dropped to a walk again. I started the long walk to the top of Fusdale. The sun was beating down and I was struggling. My nausea was getting worse and I was feeling lousy. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. The climb has two distinct halves with a slightly flat area between (normally I’d run this but instead I was content chatting to one of the 100 guys).

I met another chap at the start of the second ascent, runner 111. He was a 100 guy in real trouble. He was vomiting and could’t get up the hill. I couldn’t leave him like that so I walked him to the top of the hill. It probably added 30 minutes to the leg for me but I already knew I was going for a finish not a time so helping a Gladiator out was a privilege not a chore. Thankfully he picked up a bit as the terrain eased off, he DNF’d at Mardale.

I managed a jog from High Kop to Low Kop but I rapidly went down hill, metaphorically and literally as I dropped to the waters edge at Hawswater. The journey along the single track, through thick bracken was horrendous. there’s no other way to describe it ‘I felt SHIT!’ The nausea confined me to walking speed. I felt I’d just start vomiting if I ran and I was worried that if I started vomiting I wouldn’t stop. I don’t want to labor the point but this stretch had me feeling as bad as I’d felt at any point during the 100 last year. I’m sure it was the heat, the blood was flowing to my legs (to keep me moving) and my skin (to try and keep me cool), there was no blood going to my gut and my stomach was full, no digestion was taking place, as a result I was calorie depleted and dehydrated. I did mange a quick hello to Rob and Amanda who ran past looking strong.

I had a plan, I’d get to Mardale and see how I felt. If I didn’t improve I was pulling out. If I improved a bit I’d walk to Kentmere and pull out there, it would be easier to get picked up from Kentmere…

I lay down at the CP on the gravel and rested. Within 5 minutes I was feeling much better. All the fluid in my stomach was finally shifted along my intestine and I even managed some soup and a cheese and pickle sandwich – that’s what saved my race! I met Dave (a friend from back home – who was running the 50 for the first time – probably my fault but that’s another story!), who’d caught me up (despite a 10 minute rest during the last leg!). If Riley can get through 10 months of chemo, radical surgery and radiotherapy at the age of 5, I can finish this feckin race, bring it on!

3. Mardale Head to Kentmere

Planned Time: 1:44

Actual time: 2:40

Distance between checkpoints: 10.4km (6.5miles) Ascent: 511m (1677ft) Descent: 589m (1932ft)

Before soup

Before soup

Soup and a cheese and pickle sandwich works its magic!

Like a ‘Phoenix rising from the flames’, I rose from the gravel with the aid of – Soup and a cheese and pickle sandwich!

I felt great. Wow, who’d have thought. I chatted to Dave and bored him to tears with stories from last years 100. We trekked up Gatesgarth Pass and let loose a little on the descent. Amazing, I was running again> No matter how bad you feel, it will pass, keep going and you’ll be amazed. I know I was! I really enjoyed this leg, I was feeling good again and my legs were strong. It had begun to cool and clouds were gathering.

As always, Kentmere was a joy! I met Jenn (who’d dragged me round the final day of the Ring O Fire in 2012) and we had a quick catch up. I had a bit of smoothie which was a bit to warm to be enjoyable and some pasta with salt. More calories and minimal damage. I washed that down with a cuppa.

4. Kentmere to Ambleside

Planned Time: 1:49

Actual time: 2:45

Distance between checkpoints: 11.8km (7.3miles) Ascent: 491m (1611ft) Descent: 602m (1975ft)

I quite like this leg. It’s a steep pull out of Kentmere but it’s paid back with a fantastic gradual descent to Troutbeck. Dave was struggling with different twinges on the ups and downs. He was limited with the feeling of impending cramp in various leg muscles. I on the other hand had a new lease of life and galloped down the hills and waited for Dave at the bottom. We got split a few times as I pushed on but we would rendezvous at various points. I met a really nice chap called Jack who was running for a children s hospice. As I descended into Ambleside I donned my jacket and head torch it was pissing down and getting dark.
Kyle was waiting for me as I reached the town and we jogged into the CP. Nicola had been held up by a branch getting jammed under her car. I did the CP thing, topped up my water but couldn’t face food, nausea was coming again. I needed to see Nicola before I set off, she’s heavily pregnant and as much as I love the Lakeland 50, I don’t want to miss the birth of our fourth (and last!) child… Nic and her dad arrived a few minutes later, still pregnant and I got my good luck kiss and a pic before heading back out onto the fells. Slightly nauseous but happy having seen my crew.
Unfortunately in the confusion I’d failed to see Dave so I set off alone.

*An a side note- last year during the 100 I had a lot of visual hallucinations. The first of which was the most vivid. It was the side profile of a baby, performing a bicep curl (fist to forehead in a Hercules-pose) with a tattoo of an anchor on his bulging bicep, holding a beer bottle! At the time I knew it wasn’t a real baby but I was perplexed as to why someone would climb up a mountain to do such lifelike, intricate graffiti… Turns out it was just moss on a dry stone wall. Its still just moss on a dry stone wall!

I needed my good luck kiss!

I needed my good luck kiss!

*This is where I saw my first hallucination last year

This is where I saw my first hallucination last year

5. Ambleside to Chapel Stile

Planned Time: 1:12

Actual time: 1:50

Distance between checkpoints: 9.0km (5.6miles) Ascent: 234m (768ft) Descent: 213m (699ft)

I started the climb out of Ambleside with two girls from the RNLI. I jogged on as we crested the climb and ran most of the way to Skelwith Bridge. Right on queue my nausea hit me as I reached Elterwater. Another year of not being able to run the flattest section of the course round Elterwater! Last year it was hallucinations slowing me down, the year before – sickness and this year more sickness. I met a tree surgeon called Richard (a tree surgeon and an actualĀ surgeon – made me laugh) who was doing the 100. He had done it before but was struggling to remember the route. I walked with him to the next CP (I even took his waterproof bottoms off for him – simple tasks aren’t so simple after covering 95 miles!).

I decided that I’d take as long as it took to clear the nausea at Chapel Stile before continuing. I was in no rush! The CP was again the best of the race. A fire pit, sofas and above all extremely helpful CP staff who literally couldn’t do enough for you. Amazing. I had 3 cups of tea with sugar and a bowl of meat stew and bread. My main difficulty was – IĀ was freezing! I was wet from the rain and without movement I was shivering. I couldn’t get moving because the nausea hadn’t settled. I put on my arm warmers and waterproofs even though the rain had stopped and had a fourth cup of tea.

I set off.

6. Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite

Planned Time: 1:53

Actual time: 2:41

Distance between checkpoints: 10.6km (6.5miles) Ascent: 387m (1270ft) Descent: 323m (1060ft)

Within half a mile I’d warmed up so stopped to take off my waterproofs, leaning against a dry stone wall, in the pitch black (no moon), whilst being ‘baah’d’ at by a sheep, strugglingĀ to make the most of the light from my head torch whilst not falling over was a challenge but I succeeded! Waterproofs off I was ready! I ran most of the way back from here. The last 10 miles went well. It’s lost in the official times as I spent more than half an hour at the last CP but I passed a lot of people.Ā I’d given up counting when I passed 50 people (mix of 50 and occassional 100 runners) but I was going strong and felt great. No one passed me after leaving Chapel Stile. The last two legs I slipped on my arm warmers (something I used to use on the bike) they worked really well. I’d pull them up on the flats and descents when I cooled down and roll them down as I heated up on the climbs.

I ran through the next CP, in one side of the tent, grabbed a tea and ran out the other side.

7. Tilberthwaite to Coniston

Planned Time: 1:03

Actual time: 1:02

Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km (3.5miles) Ascent: 283m (928ft) Descent: 385m (1263ft)

After L100 2013, rocking the hobo look!

After L100 2013, rocking the hobo look! I couldn’t have run any harder


smiling and walking (I should have run harder!)

I walked up the big steps supping my tea. I started to move faster as the ground flattened and was running again as I crested the hill before descending into Coniston. It was as well as I have ever descended that treacherous descent (even in daylight, never mind at 3 a.m.). I ran back trough town and down the road to the school.

Nicola was just getting out of the car as I arrived at the finish. Kyle was waiting by the gantry. I dibbed to finish and waited for Nicola (with bump)and her dad to catch up before I grabbed her hand to walk into the fantastic reception at the end. I applauded my fellow competitors as they applauded me. That finish doesn’t lose it’s magic, I LOVE IT! Again I managed to get the T-shirt and I looked much better this year than last…


Planned Overall Race Time: 11:30

Actual Overall Race Time: 16:05

Actual race timesĀ HERE

  • Bike arm warmers worked well as a pull-up, pull-down layer to stay warm
  • It’s not really a race it’s an adventure
  • Lack of training makes for a poor performance
  • I can still enjoy a poor performance
  • I love my family more than ever, this was for you guys X
  • You can’t fake the Lakeland 50!


I had lots of time to reflect this year

I had lots of time to reflect this year