Written by Martin Bell - https://thedeterminedrunner.wordpress.com

As previously mentioned, training had been non existent due to an injury in the lead up to this race.
I can confirm that a 2 mile run through Chamonix on the Tuesday before the race is surprisingly enough not the best preparation. I was determined to give it a go & see what would happen, after all it’s a long way to go & flights & accommodation were all sorted, so what the hell, get me to the start line!

Registration Queue

Registration Queue

The Shed Sale looking towards Mont Blanc

The Shed Sale looking towards Mont Blanc

Arrived on the Monday with Ally to support again. I’d say Monday to Monday is right amount of time, so you can be as stress free as possible.You get plenty of time to unpack, register, visit the expo & spot a few famous runners. Having done it last year, things ran pretty smoothly & nothing unexpected happened, until we got an email the day before saying there was a weather warning & to expect temps up to 35 degrees! We were advised to carry an extra litre of water, i opted for an extra 500ml & wished i’d listened to the advise. It was insanely hot & i ended up drinking way more than usual. Mental note – listen to the organizers, they know what they’re on about.

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I was in pen 2 at the start, which was better than at the back of pen 3 last year. I used my enormous CCC starting experience & got right to the front of the group & aimed to run quickly until we hit the single track a couple of miles in. The 1st 1/2 mile i’d say i actually ran & didn’t fall too far behind, then it slowly started to go uphill & every man & his dog seemed to pass with ease, i was a little surprised, but thought they were probably a bunch of crazy Europeans who run up hills every day, so just press on & get to the single track. At about mile 2.5 where you leave the tarmac & get to the good stuff, i noticed the pain in my foot (an injury i’d had for almost 2 months & had led to bugger all training in the hope it’d gone away). That’s a little earlier than i was hoping before i thought i might feel it & was glad i’d packed a small chemist shop in my pack to relieve the pain. We got to a small clearing that i remembered from last year, where loads of folk queue & jostle to get down a narrow path, unlike last year where i was very British & waited in line, i just went straight to the front & pushed in (it must have been all the coffee & croissants i’d been eating the days before).

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After a long hard slog with my right foot screaming at me, i got to the top of Tete de la Tronche 23 mins quicker than last year, even though i’d had to stop several times to ease the pain. The lesson there is get to the front of your starting pen & don’t hang around taking it all in, you’ll have plenty of time to ‘take it all in’ later on in the race. Get your arse in gear & make the queues on the single track less populated. It was still busy going up but a marked improvement on being towards the back. Once at the top i discovered i’d forgotten how to run! All i could do was move slowly forward & let folk pass.

The 2nd checkpoint Refuge Bertone, i was 13 minutes ahead of last year, the gap was getting smaller & i knew it wouldn’t last long.

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Things weren’t going as i’d hoped, but i suppose were going as i semi expected. I reached Refuge Bonatti at the same time as last year. I was keeping it consistent, slowing but not massively. I had it in my head at this point ‘you can finish, it’ll just be slower’. At this point there had only been one serious climb & a bit of up & down. It was bloody roasting with the temps between 30-35 degrees, each time you’d pass a stream it would be hat off & put it under the water & splash as much water over your face as you could, hat back on & good to go, if they’d been a pool or river big enough to jump in, then i’m sure it would have been full of sweaty runners.

Not sure how many paracetamol i’d taken at this point, but it was more than i’ve had before in this time scale. Next was the descent to Arnuva, it was at this point that my quads thought they’d make themselves heard, i couldn’t believe it, i was moving like a snail that had been shot & was amazed that so many areas of my body were complaining! I couldn’t tighten my laces as much as i’d like due to the pain across my foot & this meant my toes were banging into the front of my shoes! Bloody hell what is going on!! I got to Arnuva but there was no timing matt & nobody ‘dibbed me’, so i don’t have a time to compare with last year, but i have not doubt it was getting considerably slower.

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Next target, Grand Col Ferret. I set off with 1 1/2 lt of water & i’d eaten whatever was on offer at the aid station. It was baking hot & my foot didn’t like going uphill at all :(  I’d walked a few hundred meters uphill & stopped & seriously considered going back to the checkpoint & calling it a day, that lasted about 30 seconds & i thought bugger that keep bloody going. I had to stop lots of times to rest the foot going up that hill & even managed to talk a Belgium guy into carrying on, he was literally just about to turn round & head back to Arnuva, but i told him to stick at it & see how he felt at La Fouly, hopefully he made it? I got to the top of Grand Col Ferret 42 mins slower than last year & i was down to 1/2 lt of water. You couldn’t refill any water here & i knew La Fouly was a lot further than the 4km the marshal told me. I started on the down but again couldn’t really run, toes were banging at the front, quads were screaming & my the foot wasn’t playing ball. The regular routine of needing to stop, and have a wee bite to eat & drink was becoming a problem as i was now out of water & ages from La Fouly, no sign of any streams coming down here & i was overheating big time. I ended up sitting by the side, waiting for a UK runner to come by & see if they had any water to spare? One lady did & i managed to get a 100ml off her (thank you!), that went down instantly & i was out of water again. It was at this point i realised this was definitely not going to be my day. I sat there for 10 mins & told myself to get to Champex Lac & stop before i do any long term damage. I didn’t want to stop at La Fouly, i still wanted to push myself but not damage myself for the rest of the year! So with a game plan in mind off i went to La Fouly & arrived 1hr 5min slower than last year. I was surprised but glad to see Ally there & i told him of the plan & that he would actually get some sleep tonight & not have to be on his little bus adventure to various checkpoints.

The moment the decision was made i wasn't going to finish.

The moment the decision was made i wasn’t going to finish.

One of the reasons i wanted to get to Champex Lac was that i’d pass through Praz de Fort, which has got to be one of the most picturesque Swiss villages you could imagine! I loved going through there last year with the unofficial aid stations of locals offering coffee etc & again it was a highlight :) Another reason for destination Champex Lac was that its a major checkpoint with loads of food! I thought if i’m stopping anywhere i’m going to damm well make sure i get my spag bol as soon as i’m done!! The journey from La Fouly to Champex, i took my time, walked lots of it, stopped & took in the fact that i am where i am & savored the moment. I tried to call home & explain to the family what was happening, but typically there was no reception. I didn’t feel too bad with my decision, i was disappointed but having completed it last year, i knew i can do it with the right training & without an injury, this Was the right thing to do.

The last climb up to Champex took ages, each step trying to land my foot flat & not flex it. It was dark & i was glad i got to use my headtorch, i’d carried it far enough & it felt like more of an journey entering the night & not just a disappointing race. I finally reached Champex Lac 2hrs 5mins slower than last year, met Ally & headed straight to the marshal’s to withdraw. It wasn’t a good feeling but it’s one i’d accepted to myself. It would be stupid to carry on through the night putting myself at risk & needlessly causing the organizers a headache with me needing assistance in the middle of nowhere.

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My UTMB dream for next year is over, falling 1 point short due to not finishing, but others doors will open instead & in 2017 i’m going to be better prepared than ever!

After visiting the Dr’s since being back, it looks like i’ve Tendon damage or the foots fractured. Just waiting on x ray results, but hopefully once i know what’s wrong, i can do something positive about fixing it.

Written by Laureda Tirepied - http://littleswirlyruns.blogspot.co.uk

I've must have rewritten this blog entry  20 times. Even thou we've completed this race at the beginning of september ( the 06th), my dark mood kept staining the beautiful route and organised race of the 10 peaks: Brecon Bacons. So my apologies for taking so long, I hope it won't be too disappointing to read ;)
 
 

The 10 peaks Brecon Beacons was our first race in the UK after spending 3 months running up and down high mountains...

Mick thought this race would be a good transition as it was in the Black Mountains and it seemed to have enough elevation for me not to moan about being too flat. At the time of registering, I agreed with everything he said, I was hyper from the finishing of the Andorra Ultra Trail and so I thought I could do ANYTHING…even running!


What I had forgotten thou is 
a) I can't sleep the night before the race
b) This is NOT Andorra type of terrain
c) Open lands, miles of it

 
So the night before the race, it was with no surprise that after turning and tossing for 8 hours, I was ready to fall asleep when the alarm rang instead of getting ready, and my mood was not as great as when I had registered for the race.
 
But, the start was as quiet as the day slowly awakening and passing the Talybont Reservoir Bridge, to the road and up our first climb, I was glad to feel the ground we had reece and picture the lavender field passing by to reach our first beacon ( but not the official one)

Passing the first beacon, we attempt to follow the trail made out of sticky mud and big gaps, come to a junction and get confused with Michael GPS watch directions (the finish track is coming down, while the start track is on the left) but as the day awaken, the familiar reece track come to light so we juggle between rocks towards Trig 642 without getting lost again.  By then, I had twisted my ankle (surprise!) but still attempting to follow Mick's relaxed pace to not get lost. Reaching another reservoir, looming in front of us in a gloomy daylight  is a short but sharp vertical climb allowing us to view the next part of the race, a long run on a dragon's spine (the ridge) before going down on a paved looking trail to our first man checkpoint.


At the first feed station, we are welcomed by the race director as well as a nice table full of bananas, cliff bar products and encouraging smiley volunteers, not much time is spend there as we know our first official PEAK Fan Fawr (734m) is straight up.
 

This one is very mean! The top of it looks very close  but actually it is just an illusion as no matter what we do ( run or walk) it just doesn't seems like we are getting there fast enough! After reaching the top and bip the beacon we run down to cross the river and go up to Peak 2: Fan Llia (632m)
 


It is nice and smooth, no high grass, no funny holes, just nice. The climb to Peak 2 is quite entertaining as there is no official path, high grass, no straightforward top so you need to pick a track and stick to it, hopefully it will lead you to the top. Having runners from both side of our track, I wonder who is going to get to the top first as we all seemed to think that our respective line is shorter/faster or more straightforward. But at the top, I smiled as we all arrived at the same time, some more frustrated than others perception is very deceptive…especially with mud holes and high grass. Reaching the beacon of Peak 2, it’s now downhill to reach CP2. That’s when Mick twists quite badly his ankle, he think it sucks as apparently we are doing great with time, I think it's great giving me a reason to slow down. 






We reach Feed Station 2 which as the same food option as FS1 with the addition of sticky cake, really sticky cake! No time to unstuck the cake thou, we already have to go! I feel rushed, so much so that I start to get moody very bad at Mick and the volunteers. Lack of sleep? After apologising, we make our way to CP3, I guess the fact that we have to run for a flatish 10 km before being able to justify walking is not helping my mood to get better. 
 
Descending toward Feed Station 2
Luckily the drastic changes of scenery helps and after some fuffing and puffing away (from me) feedstation 3 with its Pirate theme appears and what I thought was a 2 hours gruelling run between the two FS takes actually less than an hour (I should get a watch)! I stuffed my face with cake, oranges and more cake before Mick said we had to go to reach peak 3 and 4… We follow a cool dude before climbing up quite nicely until a ridge. A ridge means running, ridge with shallow climb still means running. Yup, that's definitively a lot of running involve compare to what I am used to and at this point, I'm struggling in my little bubble, and make Michael and his companion in crime cringes from my moody comments and "run away" from me. I am sooooo not happy but we reach peak 3 and peak 4 is just an down-up-down-up business, right? So with still a crappy mood, I start the down...until I see a lady ascending... it's lady 1!!! I'm so excited she looks so fresh, oh and here is lady 2, looking good too! OK so it must not be that bad to go up and down and up again then! Seeing them cheer me up and so here I am going up to Peak 4, down to go back up to peak 3 and down to CP4. It's a long descent and quite shallow but challenging with hidden potholes, little wind and loads of sun, mood is back in my socks and I start imagine how cool it would be to just stop and enjoy the sun! 


Arriving at the feedstation 4, my daydream is still playing in my head. Mick is waiting for me thou, he is looking fresh and enjoying himself so much, why can't I do the same? 
I decide not to stop just yet as I'm told there is this big climb right behind the FS. After 25m of straight grass vertical, we are all on our knees and hands...arrh I'm about to moan when Mick (having enough of my dark mood) tells me straight "give up now, or shut up and carry on" so...what do I do? I shut up and carry on, till the  top, then down, twist my ankle, cry a bit still reach Peak 5 Fan Gyhirych (725m) and down, up again to Peak 6 Fan Nedd (663), and down, curse at the Roman road track, and finally reach another big long climb to peak 7. After having fun for 10 mins,  I feel tummy sick, throw up a bit but Mick hasn't slow down so I need to carry on as there is no place to quit and get a ride.  I feel quite bad that Mick has to endure all of this....
We still haven't found the beacon of Peak 7, we think we are lost. My bad! I thought it would be a good idea to just cut a straight line to the top ignoring the gps track...(lesson from Peak 2 that perception is a killer hadn't sank in yet) Mick curses and for some reason it makes me feel better haha! We finally reach the peak and the pretty single track downhill to Feed Station 5. I know where we are now, we've reece this part, and I can feel the end.  

Rigde of Fan Frynych towards FeedStation 5
Arriving there, I'm surprised to see Lady 2, she is looking good with a warm smile which makes me forget the bad time I am having. The cherry on top is when the nice marshal tell us we only have 14 km left to do, and 3 more peaks to bag ( so much less running, more walking)! 
Not such a happy bunny
It also means that the finish is not as far as I thought (really need a watch) and that we could be there before night time!!! I'm so excited about this that I'm all pump up to fly, looking at Mick I tell him let’s go! poor sod, I wasn't even giving him the time to fill his water bottle...Oops, waiting "patiently" we thank everyone and start our climb up towards Peak 8, it’s long thou, quite shallow, I feel so slow as walking is not eating enough metres but running is taking a lot of energy.
Going Up to Pen Y Fan, can you see Mick?
I wonder where Lady 2 is, as I can't see her in the distance. Mick is so far ahead and waits at the top for me,…I'm such a turtle!
 Finally reaching the top and Mick, he wonders where Lady 2 is as he hasn't seen her and her pacer. She is such a speedy! Hoping to catch her, I forget about the past dark 12 hours and go faster than I previously did. So we go down and up to Peak 9 Crybin and 10 the famous Fan Y Big (719m ) which are the best ones out of the whole race because it's quite vertical with beautiful views from all sides. We reach another dragon spine ( still not in love with those) but as it is close to the finish I just let it go…to the finish. We are now back to where it all started, nothing not even the last bad descent doesn't slow me down ( ok well until we get to the road...) Arriving at the finish, we are 8th and 9th overall, and 2nd lady for me. What happen to Lady 2?!
 
So happy to be finished
Going to the YMCA café, we meet others runners from the short race and the cool dude who ran with us until he couldn't stand me anymore ;) he finished well too :) 
I'm eager to take the car back to London and sleep. But even the finish is not kicking me out off that funny mood I've been all day, thinking that talking to people would help while eating, we talked to a couple who are saying they tried to caught us up. I wonder why, I thought they were the winning pair, so why would they want to catch us?! Maybe they think we are the winning pair, I tell them we are not, they are looking at me very confused...I'm very confused but then I haven't been thinking straight from the start so, after saying our goodbye I happily take the wheel back to London hope to get some good sleep. 

So there it is even thou the mood was not there, I'm glad we made this trip. The race was so well organised and the marshals and runners so nice, that it would have been ashamed not to start because of some dark mood. I just hope for my own sake, I will kick it out soon as we need to get ready for the 3 x3000 80km Ultra in the Lakes District and if I make Mick suffer he will never want to pace me again! 

Oh and the couple at the finish! Well they were not a couple, it turned out to be Lady  number 2 ( well 3) ! She had taken another way to reach Peak 8 which was even longer than the one we took and I didn't recognise her!...what a food I've made of myself!
 
 

Written by Mark Bottomley - http://www.10peaks.com

Back in January I was searching for a long foot race to do in the summer, to fill the gap between the adventure races I had planned. I wanted a serious challenge that would involve hills and navigation, so when I came across the 10 Peaks Challenge website and read that no-one had managed to complete the full course in under the 24 hour time limit in 2010, my interest was sparked and I immediately entered.

The 10 Peaks challenge is a navigational race in the Lake District, taking in the 10 highest peaks, close to 6000 metres of ascent, 73 km of distance and in a time limit of 24 hours. A route is suggested, and the 10 peaks do have to be tackled in a set order, but the actual route that you take is your decision.

Race day arrived a little sooner than I would have liked – it would have been nice to recce a little bit more of the course beforehand. Too late now! I left my B&B in Keswick at 3am Saturday morning to walk to the Keswick Country House Hotel (race HQ) and it was like stepping into a Michael Jackson Thriller Movie. It was the middle of the night yet there were people advancing on race HQ from all directions, as though their bodies had been possessed and some alien force was pulling them in.

I arrived at the Hotel and dropped off a small kit bag with the organisers, which they would forward to Honister Pass (check point 4). In it were spare trail shoes and socks, a spare top and some Clif bars, gels and powders (I would not see this again for some 8 hours or more). I then boarded one of the many coaches that were to drop us at Swirls car park for the 4am start. Spirits were high as we had been promised some decent weather but there was still lot of nervous laughter to be heard. It was a great atmosphere, a real sense of “We are all in this together”. The first question we all seemed to ask the person sitting next to us on the coach was “……have you done this before?” It was as though we were seeking reassurance that the challenge that lay ahead was actually possible.

The start point is at 200m above sea level and our first climb would take us to the top of Helvellyn, at 950m – a 750 meter climb within the space of 3 kilometres of distance, a cruel way to warm up! After a quick race briefing we were on the move. After a while I glanced back to see what effect a few hundred meters of height gain had had. The whole field were stretched out in a long line of head torches, like ants on the move. I did my best to run past people at every possible opportunity and was soon close behind the leader, Dan. I managed to reach the peak within a few seconds of him, but with a number of other racers in close pursuit. We were all rewarded with an incredible view at the top and we shared a few brief words about how lucky we were. It would have been nice to stop and watch the sun rise, but we all had a job to do!

Dan and I set off first down towards checkpoint 1, the car park at the southern tip of Thilrmere. Even though our route choices were slightly different, we did find time to chat a little on the way down each time we came together. We ran into check point 1 believing that we were the first two to arrive, but were very surprised to hear that Adam Jackson, last years winner, had already been through nearly 5 minutes earlier. He had somehow managed to overtake us on the descent – local knowledge or just good navigation? Either way, we now had to chase him over the next 12 km up the long boggy valley, past High Raise, and on to peak number 2, Bowfell.

The three of us all took slightly different routes up the valley and by the time we reached High Raise there was little more than 400 meters separating us. Dan and I came together approaching Bowfell and we bagged our second peak and set off for checkpoint 2 at Esk Hause.

Arriving at check point 2 first, I raced on through and continued at pace, zig-zagging towards Scafell Pike (peak 6), visiting peaks 3, 4 and 5 (Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag) along the way. It felt good to be knocking off these peaks in quick succession, especially after the big time lag between ticking off peaks one and two. I made sure that I took time to appreciate the views as often as possible, I had been to the Lakes only a few times before and the Peaks had mostly been in cloud. Today they were spectacular!

It was starting to warm up by now and so I rolled down my arm warmers and unzipped my Gilet. I had planned on not stopping during the race, except to fill my water bottles, so I had dressed in the most versatile way possible – A technical t-shirt, a Montane Featherlite Ultra Gilet and a pair of arm warmers. This would ensure that I would not need to stop to stow clothes in my rucksack, or to get additional items out. I had a buff and hat in my waist pocket just incase it was really chilly on the peaks, although these ended up being surplus to requirements.

The weather so far had been incredible – clear blue skies with no mist or fog. With this in mind, I left Scafell Pike to approach Scafell via the West Wall Traverse. It can be a slightly daunting route in harsh weather (or any weather, if you do not have a head for heights!) but conditions today were perfect. Having completed the traverse, I ran to the top of Scafell and back to start my descent down the same way. On my way down I passed Dan on his ascent, he wasn’t too far behind which gave me a kick up the backside.

The second route decision that I had left to make during the race was whether I use the corridor route to get to the foot of Great Gable, climb to the peak and then run to Pillar and back, or whether I run off the top of Scafell, down to Wasdale Head, and visit Pillar first via Wind Gap, to then grab Great Gable afterwards. I was sure that I could run all the way to the foot of Wind Gap but didn’t know how much the climb up the Gap would take out of me. I decided that, even though I felt quite good at that stage, I didn’t want to destroy myself when I already had a slight lead (if I had been in second or third place my decision may have been a different one) so I would use the Corridor Route.

I ran every bit possible on my way to join the Corridor, and once I was on it I entered my own private race with a trio of fell runners heading the same way. They even ascended Great Gable, which helped to keep me focused on maintaining some sort of speed. Whilst climbing the 450 meters from Styhead Pass to the top of Great Gable, I thanked myself that I had decided not to climb Wind Gap. I was finding the climb up Great Gable a hard slog, yet Wind Gap would have been a lot more height gain and far worse underfoot which would have been very punishing.

After checking in at cp 3 at Beck Head, the run to Pillar was a chance to put the map away, switch off the mind and enjoy the scenery. I was still feeling good and was continually fuelling myself. I had a brief chat with a very nice marshal at Pillar before turning to retrace my steps back to cp 3. I noted the time on my stopwatch and set off back the way I had come. It was mostly downhill on the way back, and it took 18 minutes to pass Dan going the other way. I estimated that he would take twice that amount of time to travel uphill to Pillar, plus the 18 minutes back again, which meant I had about an hours lead. A few minutes further on I passed the 3rd placed runner, Simon Martland (who eventually came second overall).

After passing back through Beck Head I ran off towards checkpoint 4 at Honister, where I would gain access to my kit bag. I was getting low on energy food, having been taking a gel, half a bar or a few Clif Shots every 20 to 30 minutes, I was therefore keen to restock for the journey to the finish. Halfway to Honister I came across a friendly spectator who ran alongside me for a few minutes before we both suddenly realised that I had met him the weekend before whilst on a recce. I was grateful for his company at this stage (even though it was only for a couple of minutes) as it took my mind off my very sore big toes. A couple more Kilometres and I would be able to stop and take some pain relief.

I reached the Honister checkpoint and was overwhelmed by the spread that had been laid on – hot drinks, hot food, all manor of bars, gels and other energy food and a host of very friendly and supportive marshalls and spectators. I could have spent a long time there getting very comfortable, but I decided that was far too dangerous. Instead I accepted the offer of a cup of tea, which I allowed to cool as I raided my kit bag, and took some pain relief. Some very lovely marshals filled my water bottles for me and added some energy powder that I was carrying, after which I expressed my gratitude to everyone and ran off across the road. One more peak to go!

A reasonably flat 12 k section took me to checkpoint 5, where again I was greeted by some very friendly and supportive marshalls. As before, I chose not to hang around, grabbing a banana and downing a very much needed can of coke, before setting off for the final 800 meter climb up Skiddaw.

I must admit that I had to grab the ipod out of my waist pocket for this one and sing my way up the slope. It was a relentless climb and my legs were not offering much at all, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and singing loudly.

Once at the top I knew that there were only 7 final kilometres to the finish, and all of these were downhill. This would ordinarily be a nice run in, but the pain killers had worn off and my toes were throbbing somewhat.

The sight of the Keswick Country House Hotel was very welcome! A few unsuspecting guests must have wondered what on earth was going on, as I ran through reception and past the entrance to the dining hall, looking like I was at deaths door and wearing a head torch at 5.30 pm. My original aim had been to try and finish the race in daylight, so I was delighted to have done that successfully. It was also very pleasing to have beaten the course record set by Adam in 2011, but I had experienced near perfect conditions!….and as 2010 had proved, the weather will always be a big part of this race!

This year saw 202 competitors start, 79 finish, 66 within the 24 hour time limit. The course is so great, the scenery so spectacular and the marshals so friendly that I know most of those that didn’t quite manage to meet the time limit this year will be back to try again next year.

Thanks to Paul Smith for organising such a great event, and even more thanks to his faithful bunch of cheerful volunteers. I look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Written by James Adams - http://www.runningandstuff.com/

It has been a long time since I have been in the lake district, more than a year which is longer than I'd normally like to leave it after discovering it's magnificence a few years back. Usually I am not here for an event (unless you count the Anniversary Waltz which I managed to come last in last year). The excuse to nip up there this time was to run the 10 peaks challenge, climbing the 10 biggest peaks in the lake district. 24 hour cut off and I'd have to finish in 16 hours to make it back to Keswick for the famous Cow Pie dinner. 45miles and 5600 meters of elevation. How hard can it be?

We had our feet in the clouds. That give me an idea for a book..

We started at 4am at the base of Helvelyn, 951m, one of the bigger peaks. 200 odd runners plodded single file up a steep climb up some rock steps to the summit, it took nearly an hour and by the top by which time the sun had risen and the day looked glorious. one down, a nice down hill bit of running and we were well into this.

I was doing this as Ben Cope wanted to do something epic in his 30th year and what better than smashing your legs on some of Britains finest rock. It wasn't just rock though, there were bogs everywhere. It has pissed it down in England for a month and everywhere was soaked. Luckily the weather today was perfect, glorious sunshine and no rain. In the first running of this event no one finished due to the bad weather.

I was also with Mike Wilcox who was running like a dog who had never been out for a run before, jumping over and into things and generally being stupid. Two of his friends Tim and Oli were with us too, they knew the way along with Ben and so we were determined to stick with them.

We climbed another two significant peaks before being told that those don't count in the 10 peaks they are just smaller peaks that you have to climb to get up the the main peaks. So after 4 hours of climbing up and down and up and down we were still only on one peak. That Cow Pie might not happen now.

It was really hard even on the flat grassy bits as there was water everywhere and I made a very poor choice of shoe. Much as I love these shoes they were certainly not fell shoes and not good for kicking rocks which I was doing a lot. I lost my shoe once and spent much of the time on my arse, at some point sliding down a hill faster than I could ever hope to run down.

Finally we managed to get to the second peak Bowfell, 902m tall. It was frustrating that we had to climb up and down three others to get there.

The terrain here is brutal. It brought back wonderful memories of the Barkley race in April as to just how difficult it is to get any momentumn on here at all. There was some running down Helwelyn but from then on we were just hiking. Going down was hard, we were staggering around like Bambi. I don't think any of us were any good at it. I thought the Bob Graham Round might be doable by me but now I am certain it's not as I can't go down anything at any pace.

I thought about how this compares to Barkley. The climbs are as severe. The distance and total elevation is about a third of the Barkley so the time limit of 24 hours is quite tight. The only difference is that where there are rocks here in Tennesse there are dead trees. On the beautiful clear day you could see all around and it reminded me of Frozen Head Park. This is definitely good training.

We did the next few peaks in quick succession which was great. Great End, 910 m, Ill Crag, 935 m, Broad Crag, 934 m and Scafell Pike, 978 m all seemed to fall away quickly. I had never been up Englands highest mountain before and so getting up Scafell Pike was a novelty. There were a lot of tourists up there. We then headed straight off to climb Scarfel which was a bit lower but a harder climb and one with two options. One involved a rake and another a fox and a tarn. We took the foxes tarn and regretted it as it took a lot longer climbing up a waterfall and up a load of scree. It took ages to get up there. There was an option of not doing this climb and incuring a 1 hour penalty. We did this then had to go up scafell pike again to get back onto the course, taking about 2 and a half hours. At this point we lost Oli and Tim who had gone up the rake.

So, 7 peaks done in about 9 hours, seemed like we were doing well but we were hardly into it yet. The next peak was bloody miles away.

Great Gable, 899 m, was some climb. We could see it in the distance for ages before climbing it. It was here when the estimated finish time went from "guaranteed cow pie" to "no way are we going to get this done before midnight". That made me grumpy. I wanted a cow pie.

Going up Great Gable was hard enough, coming off it was stupid. There was a long line of us scrambling down the scree, trying to stay on our feet but slipping all over the place and kicking rocks down the hill. I though if enough people did this all the rocks would end up on the bottom which would make this a lot easier. I yelled at a rock and told it to fuck off, something I have not done since the Marathon Des Sables a few years back. I had a proper sense of humour failure coming down that hill, we were told at the top that the next checkpoint was only 1k away and it was downhill. Still took us half an hour and at the bottom we were told that after 8 peaks we were still only about half way through the race. Bugger.

The next stop was an epic journey to Pillar, I think the smallest of the peaks but by far the longest hike to get to. We could see it in the distance but it was still over a load of rocks. On the way here we saw Carla Denneny coming the other way who had already down Pillar. I thought she was just ahead but I was not quite prepared for just how far we had to go. We were warned about false peaks on this and we sure did get some of those.

After a load of walking on the flat but still tripping over rocks we headed for the peak in the distance. It drew near and up we went, I commented that at least we were half way up so didn't have to go up a whole peak. It did not seem to make it any easier though and later on their way down we saw Tim and Oli coming off the peak and they told us it's about another half an our to the top. I did not quite believe them as I was pretty sure we were near the top and sure enough about 5 minutes later we were at the top. Of a different peak.

Scafel Waterfall

Pillar was way ahead, which meant going down and then back up again. FFS. I was quite grumpy now and my feet were sore from kicking rocks. Itdid indeed take another half an hour to get to the top of the other peak and then back down, back up then back down into the swamp and rocks. They really should have tarmaced this place for some sort of ultra skateboarding event in the Olympics. I think at some point I was resigned to not having anything to eat whenever I crawled back into Keswick later so I texted Gemma to tell her to get me lots of milkshake for the finish. On coming back from Pillar we had a nice section heading to Honiston Pass where we'd get some hot food which we were all looking forward to. Mike had already deicded to drop and I was tempted but the promise of a "nice flat run to Keswick and then only Skidaw left" seemed to keep me in the race.

We got the checkpoint and had a jacket potato and chilli which went down very nice except that we too were getting eaten by the midges. Ben and I waited for about 20 minutes but did not see him come in. He got lost apparently in a dehydrated daze. Ben and I pushed on, and what better way to start the nice flat run into Keswick than with a bloody great big muddy hill.

I think it was a combination of slipping and kicking a rock, really hurting my foot and getting a bounceback from the text message about the milkshake that made me quit. I was done. I fell in love with the idea of getting back to the B&B before midnight and having a normal nights sleep. I felt sorry for Ben who wanted to keep going and I was going to bail on him but I just could not be arsed with this anymore and justified it to myself by saying that I might injure myself on those rocks in the dark and that would make Spartathlon training hard. I really quit because I have become a quitter of late.

So I urged Ben to catch up with a couple of guys in front while I took the road to Keswick. I got back around 11pm and had a cold cow pie waiting for me. I didn't really deserve it but I ate it anyway.

The shingle down Great Gable

Ben finished in 23.30, half an hour inside the cut-off having had a miserable time descending Skiddaw with blistered feet. Tim, Oli and Carla finished sometime before. It truely was an apic and difficult event and with perfect weather still a challenge completing inside the cut off. I need to cure my quitters disease before going back but I certainly recommend it.

Written by Peter Koraca - http://www.citytrailrunning.com

The ultra-marathon race through the most scenic parts of Istria – enchanting stone built villages, mystical woods, tera-rosa stained planes and airy hills with views stretching all the to the Adriatic sea.
 
The 100 Miles of Istria event happens every year (now for the third year) around the 18th of April and entices trail runners from all over the world to this magical place (36 different countries this year). There are three races you can take part in – 100 miles, 110km and 65km. I’ve attended the shortest one, the “baby race” as one of the volunteers at the registration called it. I cannot repeat enough how well organised, well crewed and well marked this race was. Small fluttering red flags scattered around the course almost every 30 meters guided us along paths through the various checkpoints and aid-stations filled with water, cookies, Nutella© bread, sandwiches, salty snacks, carbonised water, coke and even gluten free/dairy free products for the sensitive ones.
 
Our (65km) start was in Buzet. The spirits were very high on this wholly uninspiring, rainy (and I mean pissing down) morning. Temperature wasn’t so low, but it definitely wasn’t warm. Once we’ve all desecrated the only toilet in town and abused the changing rooms to perform our last minute heart rate strap adjustments (Hotel Vela Vrata please accept our profuse apologies), we made our way to the start line and set off with an enthusiastic smile.
The first ascend and Sovinjsko Polje planes warmed us up enough to shed a few layers of clothing. A few miles into the race some fun time has been planed for us in the form of a short mud and obstacle course. Although quite warm by now I kept my rain/wind coat on which proved to be quite useful on the hilltops overlooking Butoniga water reservoir.
 
First aid station followed shortly after – the magical town of Motovun. If you ever get to visit Istria this is one of the most beautiful places you can go to. In the summer it hosts a well known film festival (Motovun Film Festival) and in the winter it becomes a ghost town – a host to lost wanderers that roam the streets to listen to the wind howling past the city walls.
 
The descend from Motovun took us along the main street past the cemetery and then continued through woods down to the main road towards Oprtalj. Going uphill through the woods one could spot the world famous “Istarski sparugi” (asparagus) growing everywhere – my Nona from Buje makes them extremely well. On the top we continued past Oprtalj to the next aid station. This part was bloddy cold! My right hand frozen I had to enlist the help of my left hand and tea offered from volunteers at the station to open and close my water bottles.
 

Lovely wooden downhill and a single track took us onto Parenzana trail. The old narrow train track (once connecting Vizinada with Secovlje, Slovenia) has now been completely renovated and still takes you through the old tunnels, across wooden bridges and past the beautiful viewpoints over Mirna Valey and towns such as Groznjan, Triban and Buje.

Arriving in Groznjan reminded me just how much I miss coming to this places now that I live in London. As well as on every other aid station, my parents were waiting for me here to see how their crazy son is doing and cheer me up. Dad with his big camera and mum with the little cakes Nona made.

After the quick stop I continued towards Buje and then towards Umag. On the way I met a cheerful older bloke from Poland who, like me, was really enjoying himself on the race. I don’t now what your name is, but if you’re reading this, please contact me on Facebook or twitter.

The last part was hard. Really hard. Not because of the terrain (which by now has flattened out), but because of the consistent push towards the finish line. Although I’ve passed quite a few runners by now, one tough Slovene would not give in and was determined to persist until the end at a pace just slightly faster than mine. Ziga, you bastard!

Umag. The finish line. Handshake from Alen Paliska, the race director, green medal (for the 65k) and a long stretch of hurting legs. It’s been tough, it’s been fun and I’m definitely coming back next year. Thank you every one.

P.S. The next day, weather had changed from pissing down rain to cloudless skies over the beautiful Adriatic sea.