Some Stuff About Me ......

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, but my heart truly belongs in the fells of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ....

Wednesday 4 January 2017

A Year in Review

Did everyone have a good celebration and see the year out in style? We always struggle with New Year, the last thing either of us want to do is get arbitrarily hammered or spend all night going from pub to pub, so we try and do different stuff. In recent years that's meant heading over to the East Coast for a jog around the Hardmoors 30, however this year we were lucky enough to get a place at this year's Old Lang Syne fell race and so on New Year's Eve we headed over to Haworth for a belt around the 6.75 mile course, about 1,000ft of climb included. I had a terrible race at the Chevin Chase on Boxing Day so needed something to lift my spirits, fortunately I was much more on the button and managed to trim over six minutes off my previous time here in 2012, I'm taking that as a win.   Hey, four years older and six minutes faster? There has to be something good there.

I thought that it would be nice to see the New Year in from the hills that we love, so that evening we got back into outdoor kit and did a midnight jaunt up to Beamsley Beacon, it's the biggest hill of any consequence in our immediate vicinity and is quick and easy to get to. The views over Ilkley, Otley and Leeds were spectacular, as were the fireworks on the stroke of midnight. We took a bottle of wine up with us and toasted each other in the cold and wind (and rain), all in all, I think this might have been one of our more memorable evenings.

So ..... 2016, how did it go? From a running perspective, I guess things didn't go too badly. I struggled with a recurring hamstring injury for most of the year, however I've got to grips with it now and it's manageable, am glad to see the back of it. The target race early on in the year was the notorious High Peak Marathon, we did oodles of training and recce work for this but in the end it was cancelled due to bad weather in the Peak District. It was both a relief and disappointing, however we've now got to go though all that again as we have a deferred entry! Watch this space ....

The Frog Graham Round was my primary focus for the remainder of the year and I put a tremendous amount of time and work into it. I successfully got round in late July, but by God it wasn't easy and I won't forget it. I was the 6th person to successfully get round and for a while was the record holder (always a nice feeling), however an Ulverston Tri member came along a few weeks later and pinched it by just four minutes!! Those minutes I spent trying to stop my body shaking having swam across Crummock Water sans wetsuit really cost me, as did my slow descent off High Stile and an assortment of other little errors .... no matter, I did it and what's more I had a great day doing so. Something to remember.

In terms of other major races, well, Helen and I did the Old County Tops prior to my FGR and were fortunate enough to come away with another category prize, we also did the Marmot 24 mountain marathon along with mates Dave and Carol, coming away with the team honours. However the big race of the year was the UTMB TDS (74 miles, 24,000ft) in August. This was my third and probably final trip to the UTMB and I was looking to complete the Grand Slam of UTMB, CCC and TDS on consecutive years, quite a rare occurence I think, I guess I was just lucky it fell my way. As it was, the weather was blisteringly hot and it was a tremendous battle of will, I died a thousand deaths on the 6,000ft climb out Bourg St Maurice, the temperature reaching around 38c at the bottom of the valley. I don't think I've every been so glad to reach a finish line, it was very tough indeed. Helen had a terrific race, finishing appreciably faster than me and 1st British lady, 3rd Brit overall.

There have been a few other races and the usual BGR supports, however our probably our most memorable experience came after the National Fell Relays in Luss, we stayed up in Scotland for the following week and lurked in the general area of the Cairngorms and Glen Nevis. An attempt to nail the Cairngorm 4000s coincided with the first snow of the year and so that sort of stopped us in our track,s but we still had a couple of rather exciting days out, the first on the Cairn Gorm and Ben Macdui side of the Lairig Ghru, the following day we went back to nail the Braeriach and Cairn Toul etc, massively misjudging the severity of the a) the snow b) the terrain and c) the distance. We go back to our van at 9.00pm that night, half-frozen to death and with over 26 mountain miles in our legs. It's a good thing we had headtorches or I guess we might have been in trouble. We did stop in at the Corrour bothy under the Devil's Point, however it was occupied by a couple of other "gentlemen" and they made it as clear as they could that there wasn't room at the inn. We didn't intend to stay anyhow [makes rude gesture].

So that's sort of been my sporting year, I've clocked up the best part of 1900miles running (most of which has been on the fell), 390,000ft of climb and perhaps 140 miles swimming. Cycling has been a bit of a disaster, need to fix this in 2017.

I was going to go on and write about the other important things in 2016, you know, real stuff like how life and work has been, but I think that deserves a separate blog. I'll get to it.

Bring on 2017!