Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Snowdonia Marathon. 26/10/2013.

It's the only one I do. This was my 8th consecutive running. This is another race that's improved markedly over the years. Nice route, challenging, lovely views, friendliness, support, some off-road trail (road runners don't read that bit), rave reviews and max ratings on Runners World, and Y Pantri. What's not to like? I'll be back. Accommodation's already booked (thanks Stu!).

Entries for 2014 open in a few hours' time at midnight New Year's Day. Just saying.

Here are all the pictures I took.

Round Rotherham 50mi. 19/10/2013.

Race 12 of 12 in the 2013 Runfurther series.

Back for the 9th time since 2001 (2001 was my first ever DNF), I've seen some improvements to this route over the years as it gets tarted up by the local council and disputed footpaths get reopened (and tarted up!) and the canals get cleaned up.

The weather started off the most damp and drab it's been since the move from December to October in 2009, but it could have been so much worse had it obeyed the forecast. It was very mild, the early dampness giving way to brightening skies as we followed the strip maps around the checkpoints at Grange Park (slightly relocated), Treeton, Harthill, Woodsets, Firbeck, Maltby and Old Denaby. As usual it became a rather lonely affair later on as I played hunter and hunted once again (catching others and trying not to get caught myself). It seemed to work again because 9:18 was only 5 minutes outside PB time. Once again I'd finished the Runfurther series on a high with my highest points. I love this event.

The loneliness of the later miles was partly eased by passing conversation with a couple of scallywags who were sitting near the dead-end canal just before the new footpath highway to the finish. They were intrigued who these people were who were trying to make haste towards Dearne Valley College. Mention of 50 miles around Rotherham back to the college drew disbelief and incredulity. Then one of the young scamps asked something like: "Do you get wood?". Eh? No, I'm not fast enough to get any trophies.

CP1 @ Grange Park.

CP2 @ Treeton.

One of the railway crossings.

Leaving Firbeck.

Approaching Roche Abbey.

Approaching last checkpoint @ Old Denaby.

The finish!

Jon Steele and David Cremins weren't far behind.

Runfurther flags hang out to dry on Sunday.

My full set of photos is here.

Windgather fell race 13.5mi. 13/10/2013.

Race 4 of 4 in the 2013 Goyt Valley series.

Down to only one fell race a month now, it felt good to be back racing at high intensity, even if it was a bit damp outside. The turnout was large because it was the final counter in the Accelerate Gritstone series and the Goyt Valley series. The Goyt Valley series was my reason for being here for the first time.

Based out of Burbage Institute, our route took us up the same lane out of Buxton that I've followed most years since 1998 on the High Peak 40. However, over the top of the first climb, instead of turning right to follow the old quarry trackbed, we crossed onto the fells for an odyssey into the unknown (a new, much more interesting route) down to the Goyt Valley reservoirs. We crossed below the dam on the reverse of the Shining Tor race finish and along the other side to pick up the Whaley Waltz route up to Windgather Rocks before continuing along the tops to Shining Tor. The rain had finally begun to drive in from the right but we didn't mind because we were running. I felt sorry for the marshals, though.

After Shining Tor it was a left turn down to the valley again to pick up the Goyt's Moss race route up the other side and over the top towards Buxton. Barny Crawshaw had overtaken me on the climb to Shining Tor but I was chasing him down again all the way to the finishing field on the outskirts of Buxton. I couldn't quite catch him. I gasped for breath in the finishing gazebo feeling thoroughly used-up and knowing I'd done it justice. As the rain pattering down on the roof did its best to drown out the panting, a marshal asked to see my kit. Rotate bumbag around to expose full waterproof body cover and a survival bag. "Ooh, I wish they were all as well equipped as you." With compliments like that I'll come back next year, for sure.

Back in the hall we enjoyed home-made soup, cheese rolls and cake and tea while we chatted and waited for the presentations. The few runners who had completed the Grand Slam of all four Goyt Valley races (Shining Tor, Whaley Waltz, Goyt's Moss and Windgather) received a nice glass trophy, which was quite a surprise considering we didn't have to pay anything to register for the series (Hayfield, how's that for competition?).

Rob Turner was out on the course taking pictures despite the poor light conditions.

Picture courtesy Rob Turner. His full set is here.