Some Stuff About Me ......

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I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with my wonderful wife and soul-mate Helen. I have two incredible sons - Evan and Matthew - who are occasionally show up at home, usually when they're hungry or need money. The three of them are the best thing that ever happened to me and I love them all. I spent over 24 years in the Royal Navy, but since I packed it all in and got a proper job my life has gone from strength to strength and I've never looked back. I am a die-hard soul music fan and this remains a serious passion, but in recent years my life has been dedicated to running on the fells and trails of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ...

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Return To The Scene Of The Crime

I finished work early last Friday and hoofed it back up to the Lakes in order to support a friend from Lonsdale Fell Runners on his BGR, he'd chosen to do a 5.00pm start so I couldn't mess about. I'll confess I was a bit ulterior here, I've barely done any night running this year and sorely needed to get some training in ..... I elected to do legs 1 and 2 with him, possibly against my better judgement following the previous weekends 4 and 5 support and a week of training in between, but I've got to do this - the UTMB looms ever closer on the horizon and one thing I do know is that I will not be carried round.

As it was, I had quite a good run out. The weather was a bit iffy to start with, but as we slogged up Skiddaw it cleared from the West and looked very promising, eventually the skies cleared and conditions were about perfect. Skiddaw came and went in about 83 minutes, then a fast descent down to Hare Crag and Great Calva came in 38 minutes which is fairly brisk on a 23.15 schedule. Things calmed down a bit now and we did a very good climb up the back of Mungrisdale Common/Blencathra and came out bang on the summit in 71 minutes, followed by my first daylight hours descent of Halls Fell. This was the conventional "straight off the top" descent in dry conditions and I now have no doubt that it's faster if everything is in your favour. If wet and dark, well, much more difficult and I stick to my opinion that Doddick Fell is the way to go. As for the Parachute? Not worth it unless you are a mountain goat and can absorb the punishment it will mete out to your quads. Threlkeld in 3:42, so nicely ahead on schedule.

Off we went onto leg 2, I was making sure that the fuel levels were high (strawberry jam butties, lovely) and I'd had a cracking mug of strong coffee courtesy of the support team. A bit of a shock when we reached the coach road off Threlkeld Common, it's been re-fenced and as far as I can tell there's no bloody stile for BGers to clamber over. I can sense one irate farmer when that fences starts getting damaged (as it inevitably will). Geoff selected the White Pike ascent of Clough Head and I concur with this choice, it's a bit easier on your legs. Not that everyone will agree, Dave A charged up the "steep" race ascent on his BG and I can remember Stuart L and myself looking at each other and wondering what the hell we were in for! Once on top of Clough Head we were treated to a gorgeous sunset of burning oranges and reds and there followed a cracking run across the Helvellyn range, we didn't need to put headtorches on until Raise and navigation was really easy. It started to get a bit chilly (I was just wearing a Helly), so I bunged on my Litespeed jacket, this is a fairly new purchase and probably one of my best. It's just micro Pertex, but is the perfect running jacket for someone like me, it keeps the chill and wind off you, but doesn't make you sweat like a stuck pig and dehydrate accordingly. Well worth the space it takes up in a rucksack, of course you need to carry a "real" waterproof as well, but this does the job, no doubt about it - and it has a hood and a pocket!

A quick refill of water bottles at Grizedale Tarn spring and we were off up Fairfield - all I can say is that it doesn't get any easier :-)  Seat Sandal came and went in a flash and in no time at all we were back at Dunmail Raise, up on schedule and 26.5 miles and 11,300ft of climb in the bag. Lonsdale Fell Runners are an experienced bunch and their support team were brilliant: a hot cuppa and bacon buttie were thrust into my hand as they went through the process of getting their man fed, watered and ready for the rigours of leg 3. Back to my van afterwards for a quick sleep, then it was back home for the delights of the annual Knaresborough Bed Race (www.bedrace.co.uk) where I'm pleased to say that Harrogate Harriers annhilated the opposition and retained their undisputed crown as Bed Race champions, also the Ladies Team (of which Helen was a member) hugely improved on last year's awful run finished 11 places up from their starting position, so all good.

There's a sad end to this blog: Geoff didn't complete his BGR, he lost time on leg 3 and despite carrying on to leg 4 and digging very deep, he knew that he wasn't going to make it and sensibly made Pillar his last summit and cut under Kirk Fell and Great Gable to pick up the Moses Trod back to Honister. A familiar story, one that I know painfully well. I hope he tries again, but of course that's a very personal decision and he might not be ready to put either himself or his family through all that again. I think he owes it to himself to seriously consider it, he's passionate about the BGR - not some box-ticker - and deserves the chance.