It has taken me a long time to write this account because I just had too much to say! This is a very annotated version of my Hadrian Hvndred. (not a spelling mistake!)
Saturday 26th May St. Elizabeth’s School, Hexham, registration of the long distance walkers association flagship event. 478 people started. 293 people finished with 185 people (38%) retiring at some point on the course. The first person finished in 29 hours and 9 minutes. The last in 46 hours and 35 minutes. Walkers start at 10 am, but runners can choose to start at various later times, up to 2pm. This allows for less congestion at the early checkpoints. There are 13 checkpoints in the 100 miles. Some provide fully cooked meals, some snacks and drinks and some just shelter. All have kind welcoming marshals. Self navigation is essential. Everyone must carry a very detailed route description and a map of the area, either paper or electronically. There is a mandatory kit list and kit checks at various points on the route. If you don’t have the required kit you are disqualified. No support is allowed from anyone other than the marshals at the checkpoints. A drop bag is taken to the "breakfast" stop, roughly halfway, but other than that you must carry what you need.
Shortly after the leaving the first checkpoint it started to spit with rain. By the time I had climbed up onto Hadrians Wall it was raining and a very strong westerly wind was blowing straight into my face. The cagoule came out and didn’t come off until 29 hours later! After a battering along Hadrians wall the route turned south to Haltwhistle and checkpoint 3. This was really busy, a lot of the walkers having already made it to this point, but due to a big hall and brilliant organization you could get food and drink without queuing and get going quickly. The next section was the flattest part of the route as we followed the South Tynedale Railway – a disused one – all the way to Alston. However, it was mentally quite hard as it had a gentle incline all the way and it just seemed to go on forever. I passed a lot of very miserable people along here, only getting grunts to my cheerful “Hi!" as I went past. It’s only a bit of rain, I thought, but they obviously had crystal balls! I ran into Garrigill as it was getting dusk and for the last few minutes it had actually stopped raining. A dry night, I thought! After all, I had seen the forecast and that is always right!!
This section had always been highlighted as a tough one as the next checkpoint (Greg's Hut) had no food or drink facilities, so they gave us snack packs to take with us. From what I could see not much was actually being taken from these but the contents were not what I would have taken to sustain me! It didn’t matter, I had my own. Prior to the event I thought there was an awful lot of scare mongering going on about this section. It was only 13 miles from here to Dufton, but reading some of the comments on Facebook you would have thought we were climbing Everest with no oxygen in winter! I did stop reading them in the end! I changed to dry, thicker gloves, put on my headtorch, but didn’t put my waterproof trousers on as it had stopped raining and I was still quite hot!
I left the checkpoint to find it was raining again. I should have gone back in to put my trousers on but it was quite busy inside and I didn’t want to waste time. I’d put them on at Greg’s hut!!! It was now a long climb all the way. It was raining hard and as I climbed the cloud came down and the wind increased. My torch lit the way well but at one point I looked to my right to find a steep drop! Greg’s hut was lit by blue lights on the mountain rescue Land-Rover, which had 2 call outs that night! I was now cold. My gloves had made my hands colder than when I was wearing my thinner ones. The shelter was full and the marshal was shouting that no one was going on unless they went in a group. I finally put my waterproof trousers and my thicker waterproof gloves. However, by now my hands were numb and I couldn’t get anything out of my pockets to eat. I left with a group of eight people. I haven’t been up Cross Fell or High Dunn Fell before and when I saw pictures of them in the daylight I couldn’t believe how they appeared. That night in now thick fog, a wind that kept blowing us off our feet and driving rain it was impossible to find the path (if there was one) and we spent most of the time either clambering over rocks or knee deep in bogs. The self-clip at the top was well lit and then it was downhill through more bogs until we found a stone pavement, which led us towards Great Dunn Fell. And it was at this point, at about 2am, when I needed to really concentrate to keep my footing, that my body decided it was time to sleep. It was probably a combination of cold, lack of sugar and tiredness but it did make it very hard. I hallucinated about tall grasses enveloping me all the way down to the safety check where I grabbed a handful of sweets and I seemed to bring me round.
It's been a busy few weeks for the Swaledale Runnners. There has been some astonishing achievements, PB's, first time fell runners, a massive variety of races/ events.
On 18th May Liz Sowter went back to road marathon running and competed in the Bentham Marathon and was extremely pleased with 4.54.06, 39th overall and first FV55.
Ros Blackmore had a great Ingleborough Marathon 11th out of 39 in 5.48.35.
Also on 18th, Tim Grimwwod competed in The Old County Tops Fell Race in the Lakes - 37 miles, team event. He ran with Tom Radcliffe. They completed the event in just over 11 hours and were 104th team.
On 19th May Jean Bradley and Sheila Cantrell both achieved PB's at the Manchester 10k with 54.25 & 59.20 respectively.
Also on 19th was the Keswick 10k. Sam Metcalfe & Catriona Riley went along for their first of two races in three days and ran the race in 1.19.21 & 1.19.37 respectively.
They then competed in their first fell race on 21st, the Roseberry Romp. Mel Scott was there in her first fell race. Tim Grimwood continued his brilliant form by winning the race. Fell running regulars Mike Keavney & Jim Coldwell also ran. Jim coming back from injury.
The ultra running giant that is Ian Oldham competed and finished the famous (infamous!!) Dragons Back Race, five days, 200 miles, 8 1/2 miles of ascent. An amazing achievement.
On 25th, Neil Bowmer & Ros Blackmore competed in the Isle of Jura Fell Race in very wild conditions. Their times were 6.18.18, 199th & 7.06.59, 237th respectively.
One of my aims this year is to improve my endurance over longer events, so I decided to step into the ultra/trail world with the Nav4 Lakes 42 event. Starting in Askham and going onto the High Street Ridge, then over to Helvellyn and back via Patterdale, before a final slog up Place Fell and then long run back in, it would be a real test for me and my longest ‘race’ by far. Luckily Ian and Caroline, ultra-specialists, were also running so I had a good source of advice.
The whole fell versus trail debate is, in my view, fairly pointless and boring, but I have to admit I did notice a few differences from fell races. 1) a surprising amount of walking poles involved (both Ian and Caroline also sported these) which I had never really thought about before. 2) hardly any club shirts – I was wearing ‘the famous green vest’ but almost no-one else was in club gear. 3) footwear- at fell races is probably 80%+ ino-v8, here Salomon was the shoe of choice. A better choice than my x-talons as it turned out, due to the rocky paths where a bit of cushioning would have been appreciated. 4) almost no long socks or sunglasses.
We set off at 6am in glorious sunshine – coming onto Loadpot Hill with the sun shining, and seeing the Helvellyn range in the distance poking through the mist was one of the greatest running moments I have had, the sort that supports the cliché of making it all worth it. One guy, sweating profusely in his jacket, grunted that it was a lot warmer than he expected, and I don’t think he was particularly impressed with my enthusiastic reply of how great it was (why didn’t he just take his jacket off?). By mid-morning he was probably happier as the weather settled into an overcast high-cloud dull pattern that was perfect for running without causing any real navigation problems.
Not sure how I would react to the distance and time on my feet, I took it really easy and walked anything up. I got a bit carried away with some of the descents, but overall feel I got the balance right. The atmosphere throughout was amazing, really low key and sociable. A group near me going up to High Street were having an absolute ball, and you could hear their chattering and laughing for quite a distance. Whether this relaxed manner was because of the long distance or the fact I was mid-pack, I don’t know (maybe the front runners were a bit more focused) but I chatted with a variety of people through the race, really enjoyed the ‘festival’ atmosphere of the food stops and even had time to stop in Glenridding for a can of coke with Ian and another runner. Having said that, the competitive spirit re-emerged about 8 miles from the end when the dodgy calculations of myself and another runner worked out we had a chance of finishing under 10 hours if we got a move on and so we picked up the pace – I’m not sure whether this was the right decision or not. It was very satisfying to (just) hit our target, but I had really enjoyed not really bothering about times and paces until that point. By happy coincidence I ended up running most of the second half with Ian, who was great company and this was another really nice aspect of the day – I do most of my running alone but am beginning to appreciate the different aspects that having company brings.
Every year Swaledale Runners donate 10% of the Richmond Castle 10K profits to a local charity. This year we chose " Just the Job" a charity and social enterprise empowering adults with disabilities to achieve their potential by doing valuable work in the community. - just-the-job.org.uk. On Saturday 16th Niall presented the organisation with a cheque for £350.73.
There was a great turnout at the Thirsk 10 mile on Sunday 17th:
Jess Young 01:14:14, Jean Bradley 01:27:35, Elizabeth Sowter 01:29:27, Lucy Tulloch 01:31:39, Julia Spittle 01:33:29, Christine Sayer 01:34:52, Roger Brisley 01:35:04, Sheila Cantrell 01:36:52, Niall Cheyne 01:41:46, Helen Baines 01:45:07, Catriona Riley 01:45:41, Caroline Morrell 01:57:13
On 3rd March Emily Abbey had a great 4th Lady overall at the Dalton Park 10k in a time of 43.45.
On the 17th March Martin Randall continued his fine form coming 49th in a time of 1.34.57 at the Northumberland half marathon.
The first of the Fell Race championships took place on 17th March with the Bilsdale 23k/1300m Fell Race. Tim Grimwood had a great 10th place with Claire Stewart winning her age group and Caroline Graham 2nd in hers.
Details of both championships have been published and it's time to start planning your racing year. It doesn't matter if you're not superfast - both are designed to be inclusive and to encourage people to try out races they haven't done before. See details under competitions above,
The saying “Good things come to those who wait” could not be more apt for our running of the Swaledale Watershed. With very rough moorland and endless bogs to cross, we were waiting for an extended dry spell to ease our passage. We had kept our eye on conditions for several years, waiting for a hot, dry summer and finally one arrived this year.
The Swaledale Watershed route had first caught my eye in Richard Gilbert’s book, ‘Wild Walks’. At just under 30 miles long, this circular route follows the highest ground that drains into Great Sleddale Beck, Birkdale Beck, Whitsundale Beck, Stonesdale Beck and a myriad of other moorland streams which eventually form the River Swale. With 1160m of ascent and difficult terrain, it promised to be an adventure.
At 07.00 on 5th July 2018 Neil and I left Muker, jogging along the road to Thwaite. We could have taken the footpath through the meadows but thought we would enjoy some easy running whilst it was available. Conditions were perfect as we set off up the Pennine Way to Great Shunner Fell. The sky was blue, the sun was out and there was a lovely cooling breeze. The summit of Great Shunner Fell (716m) was deserted and we would have liked to linger, but a quick check of the map and it was off on the next section across to Hugh Seat.
Although there was a fence to follow, this was the start of the challenging terrain. Despite being bone dry, it made for energetic running, even downhill, as we dropped into and climbed out of the peat hags. With it being the height of summer, the grass was also very long, which meant that high footsteps were required to get through it, sapping even more energy. After approximately 4km we came to the fence corner that marked the summit of Hugh Seat (689m). After more strenuous work we finally reached Archy Styrigg (695m) which came as a relief, as this top sits on Mallerstang Edge and has a vague path. Those that have run the Yomp will recognise this next section, one of the finest of the race.
The views from Mallerstang Edge into the Eden Valley were stunning. The running was much easier and we made good time along to High Seat, arriving in 2 ½ hours. At 709m, it is the highest point on the ridge and was a good spot to have something to eat as we admired the view. High Pike Hill (642m) then marks the end of the fine ridge running and we dropped down Careless Bank to cross the road at Tailbridge.
Very little navigating is needed for the slog up Nine Standards Rigg, the path is clear at all times. The day was heating up and I was feeling a little worn by the time we reached the summit at 10.30. In the distance we could see other walkers approaching, the first of the day, but we immediately turned off the beaten track and headed out over the wild moorland. The destination was Brownber Hill, which I admit I had never heard of before researching this route.
“Ultra King” Ian Oldham took part in the Lavaredo Ultra Trail race in Italy on 22/06. About 120k, 5800 metres of Alpine running and he completed it in an amazing 22hours 43mins.
On 30/06 Sue Crabbe, Jan Ilsley & Stu Clarkson took part in the Upper Wharfdale Three Peaks Challenge: 22 miles of scenic views in perfect conditions, taking in the three highest peaks in Wharfdale.
On the same day Ros Blackmore took part in the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon. With her partner Mandy Goth they managed to win the Fairfield score class ladies race and come in 18th out of 73 pairs overall. They were also 3rd Vets team overall (includes male, female and mixed Vets teams with age grading).
Vicky Jewitt was also in the Lakes competing in the SIMM and with her partner was 30th in their class.
Martin Randall had a brilliant 3rd overall at the Coastal Half Marathon on 01/07 in a time of 1.41.59. Grace Gilpin was 44th in a time of £2.24.09
Jim Coldwell had a great race and was 6th place at the inaugural Lighthouse 10K in Millom on 01/07.
James Taylor said he had a lovely day at the Heart of the Park Challenge, 12k race in Braemar. Like most of the races over the weekend it was very hot but at least the race route crossed the river Dee three times to cool him off.
Park Runs – 30/06. Catterick -Mark Sowerby and Neil Bowmer had a good battle and were 3rd & 4th in times of 19.19 & 19.28. Grace Gilpin did a time of 25.58. Northallerton – Julia Spiitle – 28.56. Fountains Abbey – Andrew Fletcher – 21.05 –27/359 runners and first in age category.
Two Swaledale runners took part in the Croft Pitstop 10k on 04/07. Mark Sowerby - 41st – 41.36, Evan Jones – 137th – 51.16
On 07/07 Tim Grimwood had a great 8th place at the Blackfell race at Kettlewell – 1.46.02
The tough Burn Valley half marathon at Masham was on 08/07. Martin Randall had a great run to finish 41st in 1.42.05, Helen Bain – 2.21.41, Julia Spittle – 2.22.16.
Well done to Sue Crabbe who was 1st FV50 at Skirfare Trail race at Kettlewell on 14/07.
On the same day Ian Oldham continued his great performances in ultra runs. He was 1st V45 at Lakes Sky Ultra in the Lakes, 37 miles – 12.22.
Park Run results – Catterick – 07/07 – Rebecca Simpson – 20.25 1st Lady, Grace Gilpin – 25.55, Zoe Mason – 27.31. 14/07 – Grace Gilpin – 25.55, Simon Hewitt – 32.26.
Darlington – 07/07 – Nialll Cheyne – 26.03
Races come and races go, but the routes are still out there, waiting to be rediscovered. One such race was the Great Shunner Shuffle, a 30 mile route linking Wensleydale and Swaledale, organised by the Fell Rescue from 1986 to 2000. Although I first heard about this old race a few years ago, I only recently got round to researching it. With the help of Jill King from the Cleveland LDWA I tracked down the checkpoints and some additional route information.
Stu Clarkson and Jan Ilsley were booked as running companions for the day, with a steady run promised as none of us had done much preparation for this distance. Good weather was also booked and shortly after 9.00 on a Saturday in June we left Askrigg. The Great Shunner Shuffle was on!
The route started easily, heading out on a minor road then a footpath through the woods to arrive at Skellgill. After dropping down a track, the route then followed field paths and tracks towards Hardraw. A friendly farmer at West Shaw Cote Farm warned us that the footpath from the lane back into the fields was easy to miss, which was very helpful as it was tucked away in the side wall. We stopped for a shady snack in the lych-gate of Hardraw church, then headed up past the Old School House onto Great Shunner Fell. The race originally started at the (then) Hulme School House but had to move to Askrigg School due to a shortage of parking.
It was cool and clear on the summit of Great Shunner Fell, but the heat was increasing as we dropped into Thwaite, so a cooling ice cream and tea stop in the Kearton Tea Rooms was the order of the day as it was conveniently situated at about half way.
The route then headed up Kisdon on the Pennine Way, for a superb high level traverse above the Swale. Stu and Jan decided that they would take a pleasant short cut back down the valley to Ivelet Bridge, whilst I followed the race route. This took me across the Swale near Keld, onto the C2C route past Crackpot Hall, up Swinner Gill and down ‘the yellow brick road’ to Dyke heads and along the road to meet them at the bridge. I found Stu and Jan standing up to their thighs in the cooling water, so I jumped in to join them.
On the 27th May Dan Corthorn was at his home town to compete in the Buxton Half Marathon, where he did a time of 1.49.29 92nd/302.
The Harrogate MWL kicked off on 6/6. The first race was hosted by Skipton. Club finishers were Martin Luxton- 40.28, Evan Jones- 41.21, Helen Bains - 48.40, Chris Sayer - 50.11, Roger Brisley - 56.01.The same night was the Ossy Oiks fell race. Tim Grimwood went one better than last year and had a superb win. No results yet, but the rest of the Swaledalers came in the order of Ian Oldham, Mike Keavney, Robbie Kelly, Caroline Graham and Jim Coldwell.
As always there was great turn out at the Swaledale Marathon on 9/6, wiith plenty of regulars and lots of first time runners to the event. There were some brilliant results with the men & women taking the team prizes: Steve Brown 1st Vet & 1st Over 60, Nick Downing 2nd Man, Sarah Hackett 2nd Lady, Rebecca Simpson 4th Lady.
Results ( so many runners so sorry if anyone is missed) , Nick Downing 3.16- 2nd, Stuart Smith 3.39 - 11th, Steve Brown 3.39 - 12th, Sarah Hackett 3.42 - 15th, Derek Parrington 3.46 - 20th, Rebecca Simpson 3.49 - 24th, Martin Randall 3.49 - 25th, Ian Oldham 3.54 - 28th, Mark Sowerby 3.55 - 31st, Richard Gale 3.56 - 35th, Robbie Kelly 3.56- 36th, Neil Bowmer 4.15 - 63rd, Jim Coldwell 4.20- 72nd, Sam King 4.24 - 79th, Caroline Graham 4.26 - 82nd, Ray Crabbe 4.33 -96th, Nick Turnbull 4.38 - 105th, Rachel Carlton 4.42 - 112th, Vicky Jewitt 4.42 - 113th, James Taylor 4.43 - 116th, Lucy Tulloch 4.54 - 124th, Vicki Howe 5.06 - 153rd, Grace Gilpin 5.07 - 155th, John Lynch 5.18 - 168th, Claire Stewart 5.21- 171st, Lucy Riley 5.21 - 172nd, Carol Murray 5.24 - 176th, Annelie Whitfield 5.29 - 187th, Oonagh Bathgate 5.31 - 189th, Zoe Foulerton - 5.38 - 203rd, Anne Singleton - 5.46- 210th, Sarah Hards 5.48 - 215th, Carrie Morrell 5.57, Sheila Cantrell - 6.45, Liz Sowter - 6.45, Stu Clarkson - 6.45, Niall Cheyne - 8.10.
Sarah Norman and Julia Spittle competed in the White Horse Hardmoors half (17 miles!!) on 10/6. Well done to Julia who was 1st Lady over 60.