Ring of Fire
Friday 31.8.18 - Sunday 2.9.18
John Bottomley took part in the Ring of Fire and has composed the following race report:
"135 miles round the Isle of Anglesey over 3 days:
1st man: ohn Bottomley DPFR 23hrs 23 cumulative time
1st Lady: Patrizia Sini 29hrs 09
(no other DPs present)
Continuing with the summer trend, it was too hot the first 2 days & ok on the 2nd. There are no mountains & barely a hill en route; the coastal path does also deviate inland frequently & follow roads so you also get to run over/through all types of landscape. The event is very well supported by a small army of v. friendly/experienced marshalls & the whole event has a kind of 'family' feel to it as most of the event staff & marshalls are from Anglesey. I really enjoyed it overall & it gave me the intro to multiday events I wanted but yes, the route wasn't as interesting as I hoped for."
17-19 August 2018
100.5 miles (161.7 km); 22,080 feet (6,730 m) of ascent
The GPX of the route indicated 101.8 miles (163.8 km) and 24,195 feet (7375 m) of ascent.
The race started at 8 pm on Friday 17 August 2018 from Christ College, Brecon with the select band of entrants heading for the Brecon Beacons. On the lower slopes of Cribyn the rain started and the wind gradually grew in intensity and at the summits of Cribyn, Pen y Fan and Corn Du the weather had become pretty wild and thick clag had joined in to make the conditions more interesting.
At the first checkpoint at the Storey Arms there was some welcome water, cake and a few nibbles from the back of a car. Unlike the Lakeland 100 where entrants are mollycoddled and pampered with cosy indoor checkpoints at regular intervals with hot food and drink the Beacons 100 has entirely outdoor checkpoints so there is no respite from the conditions at each checkpoint and, accordingly, runners need to be able to cope with less frequent stops and be able to look after themselves. Nevertheless the checkpoints were sufficient to get around if supplemented with provisions taken by runners themselves.
More summits were visited in the dark including the summits and tops of the Black Mountain before visiting the north-west corner of the route at Llanddeusant in the early morning daylight. The route crossed seldom visited areas of the Black Mountain area to Glyntawe and porridge pots at the roadside checkpoint. The nourishment was needed to tackle one of the many river crossings and babies' heads tussock grass and marshy ground without paths. The going here was slow and even walking was not easy and the slow progress meant competitors would be struggling to beat the cut-offs later on. Whereas the Lakeland 100 is a trail race over mostly decent paths and trails the Beacons 100 is more like a fell race over rough ground.
At the A470 drop-bags were available at the checkpoint prior to some steep ascents and descents and battling through vegetation and crossing more marshy ground. Some minor hills were crossed on paths before going up and down Tor y Foel. A long section along a canal invited running to make up time but walking was the more pleasant option. The checkpoint at Crickhowell offered fish and chips which was a nice surprise.
The Black Mountains were tackled in the dark, wind, rain and thick clag. It was barely possible to see your own feet in the dense mist let alone the path ahead and trying to pick a route through the rocks and knee deep bilberry added to the challenge. Later waist high heather threatened to swallow runners who drifted off the path. Thrashing around in the vegetation on the steep slopes certainly acted to slow progress.
The final checkpoint near Talybont-on-Usk was reached in daylight where I paused to recuperate prior to tackling the last big ascent and descent. After passing the Talybont Reservoir the climb up Twyn Du was hampered by very strong winds necessitating leaning forward by about 45 degrees to avoid being blown backwards. The iconic Carn Pica heralded the route becoming less steep but the wind increasing in intensity towards Waun Rydd. Descending the other side the wind was just as strong but was pushing from behind.
The final few miles were along roads and canal and I was concentrating hard on not falling asleep and finishing without some unscheduled swimming. Fortunately I kept to the path and made it to the end without falling in. It was a great event and one to try again.
First Man: Otto Karhunen; Southville Running Club; 32:23:50
First Lady: Helen Bennett; 5th overall; 39:24:03
Steven Jones: 7th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 45:23:04
Long Tour of Bradwell
Saturday 11 August 2018
32.7 miles (52.6 km); 7,218 feet (2,200 m) of ascent
The above details are from last year's race and this year there were some small adjustments to the route so the distance and ascent may be slightly different.
The route embraces some interesting and varying scenery from both the White Park and Dark Peak areas of the Peak District. It starts in Bradwell with a gradual ascent to the Limestone Way before descending to Castleton via Cave Dale; then over Hollins Cross and down to Edale before a climb up The Nab and across to Rowland Cote Moor (but not to the Druid's Stone as in previous years); up Lose Hill and around the edge of Win Hill and across to Bamford; past Dennis Knoll to run along Stanage Edge followed by Upper Burbage Bridge and Burbage Bridge; down Padley Gorge and past Upper Padley and Leadmill before a trail along Abney Clough then up and over and back down to the finish in Bradwell.
The weather was warm and sunny and it was dry underfoot.
Fastest Man: Stuart Walker M Dark Peak Fell Runners 5:08:30
Fastest Lady: 18th overall Abigail Hathaway F Smiley Paces 6:51:12
Ian Challons: 13th M Dark Peak Fell Runners 6:40:44
Chris Duffy: 16th M Dark Peak Fell Runners 6:50:14
Adam Micklethwaite: 32nd MV40 Dark Peak Fell Runners 7:17:51
Simon Allen: 34th MV40 Dark Peak Fell Runners 7:35:36
Steven Jones: 40th MV50(MV55) Dark Peak Fell Runners 7:58:02
Graeme McCarthy: 56th MV50 Dark Peak Fell Runners 8:27:43
There was also a Half Tour of Bradwell of about 16 miles and 3,000 feet of ascent representing a truncated version of the Long Tour of Bradwell.
27-29 July 2018
105 miles (169 km); 22,493 feet (6,856 m) of ascent
The route starts and finishes at Coniston with a circular tour of the Lake District taking in Seathwaite, Eskdale, Wasdale Head, Black Sail Pass, Buttermere, Braithwaite, Blencathra Field Centre, Dockray, Dalemain, Howtown, Haweswater Reservoir, Kentmere, Ambleside, Chapel Stile and Coniston Fells. The route consists mainly of paths and trails.
With the heat wave building to a climax over the summer with each weekend seemingly hotter than the one before the event was anticipated to be challenging. Indeed, throughout the week the newspapers had been predicting Furnace Friday. The race started on the Friday at 6 pm on dry dusty trails that had not seen water for quite some time and coping with the heat was a challenge right from the start. Within the first few hours a number of competitors had retired due to heat exhaustion and hyperthermia. During the night the temperatures mercifully dropped and rain showers kindly staved off further problems with the heat.
On the Saturday morning drizzle turned to heavy showers and then torrential rain and some runners were now beginning to suffer with hypothermia! By mid-day the sun had returned but this was not to last and the conditions fluctuated between dry, light rain and heavier rain coupled with winds that got stronger and stronger as the day wore on. Some runners even reported being blown off their feet by gusts and those that managed to stay on the ground had to battle forward against the oncoming wind. Faster runners made it to the finish line before the second night while others finished either during the night or before the cut-off at 10 am on the Sunday. The rain then continued consistently until late afternoon.
Finishers: 215 (210 within 40 hours)
First Man: Ken Sutor; MV40; 22:55:50
First Lady: 2nd overall; Sabrina Verjee; Team Sabs; F; 23:05:47
David Harrison: 37th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV50; 28:39:13
Steven Jones: 168th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV50; 38:04:19
The finishing rate was 51.3% (50.1% for a finish within 40 hours).
Lakeland 50 results:
Finishers: 756 (all within 24 hours and none over the limit)
First Man: Oliver Thorogood; M; 7:36:11
First Lady: 5th overall; Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn; Salomon / Mountain Fuel; F; 8:12:19
For the Lakeland 50 the finishing rate was 91.5%.
Ten Peaks Brecon Beacons Long Course
Saturday 14 July 2018
55.3 miles (89 km); 15,748 feet (4,800 m) of ascent
The race has always taken place in September but this year it was moved to July. This meant that the early morning start commenced in daylight rather than the first two hours being in darkness. For the faster runners it was possible to finish in daylight too. However, the enhanced visibility was offset by the July heat. Even on the tops after sunset it was too warm for comfort.
Starting from the Talybont Reservoir the course heads west to take in a number of peaks south of Pen y Fan and ultimately to the twin peaks of The Black Mountain. It then heads back east but about a mile or so further north to take in different peaks on the return trip including the rollercoaster ridgeline of Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Big and Bwlch y Ddwyallt prior to the final descent back to race headquarters.
Normally there is a fair amount of wet boggy ground but with the recent weeks of hot and dry weather there was barely any damp ground at all. The day was hot with clear skies giving no respite from the punishing sun making it hard to push too hard. Indeed, the strategy for the race was to carry as much water as possible between checkpoints and the normally reliable streams around the course were depleted and just had semi-stagnant puddles unsuitable for drinking.
Most runners were from Great Britain but other nationalities included Australia, Canada (the winner of the race), Ireland, France, Spain and the Netherlands. There was a drop-bag facility at the Storey Arms checkpoint which could be accessed both on the way out and the way back.Free camping was available on Friday and Saturday night.
First Man: Galen Reynolds; 10:52:11
First Lady: Mary Gillie; 7th overall; 13:21:57
Steven Jones: 31st; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 18:48:44
There was also a short course option missing out the western part of the long course loop giving a route of 36 miles (58 km) and an ascent of about 3,000 metres (about 9,842 feet). Of the 84 starters 72 made it to the finish giving a finishing rate of 86% for the short course (compared to a rate of 65% for the long course). The fastest man on the short course was Rob Forbes with a time of 5:52:24 and the fastest lady was Beth Pascall with a time of 7:16:27.
7 July 2018
37 miles (59.5 km); 5,600 feet (1,700 m) of ascent
First Man: Ken Sutor; Cheshire Hash House Harriers; 5:23:44
First Lady: 6th overall: Karen Nash; Team Krypton; 7:06:34
David Harrison: 9th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 7:18:41
Cass Chisholm: 16th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 7:47:33
Steven Jones: 25th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 8:48:35
The event took place on a very hot day with runners exposed to the blazing sun in mostly clear blue skies. Although this improved the views it necessitated taking much more water than usual but for most runners even that was not enough.
The route follows the Pennine Way National Trail from near Bowlees which is itself a few miles northeast of Middleton-in-Teesdale to Alston. A coach usefully takes runners from Alston to Bowlees and from there a short walk to the start at the Wynch Bridge which spans the River Tees. The scenery conspires to mesmerise runners with features such as Low Force, High Force, Cauldron Snout, High Cup Nick, Great Dun Fell, Little Dun Fell, Cross Fell (the highest point on the Pennine Way), River South Tyne and various others. Initially the route is fairly flat enabling a fast start before gradually ascending before the descent to the approximate half way point at Dufton village. Thereafter the hills get steeper leading to the summit of Cross Fell and shortly after that past Greg's Hut. A long stony path leads downhill to Garrigill and the final checkpoint which was serving very welcome chilled drinks and a variety of snacks including melon, bananas and slices of orange. The route was fairly flat from there to the finish giving scope for more fast running for those with any energy left after the hills.
From John Bottomley:
June 23rd 2018
50miles / 8507ft 80.5km / 2593m Finishers: 220 (unknown retirees & starters)
Ken Sutor 1st 8hr 19 Sally Ford 1st 9hr 44 John Bottomley DPFR 3rd 8hr 45 (there may have been other Dark Peak Fell Runners taking part but the results do not show details of club membership)
The PB50 is run with the PB100 with the latter running the same course twice. It was quite hot: I drank more on this race than I have ever drunk on a race. My wife marshalled on 2 CPs & said both almost ran out of water twice. The race is just the Pennine Way from Malham up to Penyghent, the 3 peaks route round to Horton, then the Pennine way & Gordale Scar to Malham. Although Penyghent up & down was packed with 3 peakers, the rest of the route was pretty quiet.
Nothing else to note really apart from the CPs having better range of food than I have seen before, ie. a lot more than just jelly babies, soreen & flapjack!
South Wales 100
22-24 June 2018
100 miles (161 km); 20,124 feet (6,134 m) of ascent
First Man: Matt Tomlinson; 23:28:20
First Lady: 2nd overall: Karen Nash; 27:04:11
Steven Jones: 21st; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 36:27:43
The event took place on the hottest weekend of the year so far making the running hard work and sapping energy. South Wales is nearer to the equator than the Peak District and this seemed to intensify the debilitating effects of the savage sun and the searing heat. Indeed, it had not rained for some time giving rise to a route over parched and arid earth lacking in the marshy ground, mud and puddles normally associated with Wales.
The race started at 7 pm on Friday 22 June 2018 from the outskirts of Cardiff heading north and past the neo-Gothic Castell Coch before turning west along trails. It was already dark upon reaching the trig point at Mynydd y Gaer and thereafter heading north. Various hills, forests and open moorland were passed as well as going through the old mining towns of Treorchy and Hirwaun.
The night soon gave way to the dawn and the daylight enabled the enchanting Sgwd yr Eira waterfall to be fully appreciated as the path went behind the waterfall itself which was one of the highlights of the route. The exposed summits of Fan Llia and Fan Fryncyh offered no shelter from the blazing sun before dropping down to a lay-by on the A470 where a welcome checkpoint offered refreshments. Stockpiling as much water as could be carried it was off again and down to the Taff Trail before a steady albeit slow ascent of Corn Du and the rollercoaster ups and downs along the ridge to the summits of Pen y Fan, Cribyn and Fan y Big. Further along the ridge there used to be an area to test runners' navigational skills in a boggy area with peat hags but a new gravel path has spoilt this opportunity almost as far as Carn Pica. The long descent to the Talybont Reservoir was remarkably dry and lacked the usual soggy conditions which helped speed runners along. The next hill (Tor y Foel) made up for a lack of altitude with steep slopes which seemed all the steeper with weary legs after having just done the Brecon Beacons and the unrelenting heat of the day. Rolling hills followed and on the summit of Mynydd Bedwellte dusk was descending for a second night. Pausing to take in the views I was rewarded by a superb sunset with mostly orange skies behind the silhouetted shapes of Corn Du and Pen y Fan in the distance where I had been running (and walking somewhat slowly!) many hours and miles ago.
The Welsh Valleys followed with a typical steep descent followed by a steep ascent coupled with battling through shoulder height bracken and low level brambles on seldom used trails on leaving New Tredegar in the Rhymney Valley. Taking advantage of the reduced temperatures of the night my pace increased and I was finally able to catch up with another competitor who barely paused at the Bargoed checkpoint. After a short rest I carried on in last place over rough stony trails and soon gained a place and pressed on hoping to overtake some others. However, it was impossible to know if the runners in front were close or many miles in front or, indeed, had already finished. There were elements of hope and desperation as I tried to force myself along faster than my body wanted. From time to time I found myself falling asleep walking and running and just had to push on as best as I could. The trail eventually gave way to tarmac although a nice grassy or muddy descent would have been ideal. Daylight was beginning to return as I passed Caerphilly Castle which was a welcome sight and distraction from the weariness trying to slow me down.
Just past the castle was the final checkpoint and I was informed that a group of runners had left about five minutes before my arrival. That was heartening news and a brief stop would surely enable me to overtake them. However, the friendly checkpoint staff were kindly offering hot drinks and food and extra rest would put more of a spring into my aching legs. I was on the verge of departing when I noticed some Bara Brith which caught my attention and this source of nourishment would perhaps rejuvenate me and propel me onwards. Another cup of coffee was necessary to wash it all down. Meanwhile, the checkpoint staff looking at the trackers were able to report on the progress of the group of runners in front of me. They too had been suitably refreshed and now had a nearly 5 km lead over me with only 15 km from the checkpoint to the finish.
I forced myself onwards through hilly forest trails and up to Caerphilly Common pausing to admire the view of Caerphilly Castle to the north and Cardiff and the sea to the south. Up and over Craig yr Allt but no sign of runners in front forcing myself to try and go faster. Then about 3 km from the finish I overtook another runner and from there it was flat trails to the end. Shortly after passing under the M4 there was not much more than 1 km to the finish and I resolved to run to the finish and was rewarded by being able to overtake a group of three runners reduced to walking the final part. Shortly before 7.30 am I crossed the finish line.
Although it was good to finish part of me had wanted it to continue and I had enjoyed the varied scenery. It would certainly be a good event to do again in the future.
There was also a 50 mile version starting from Brecon and then joining the route just before Corn Du and the Brecon Beacons.
Weekend of 22 (Friday) - 24 (Sunday) June 2018
An interesting weekend with various events going on. In the Lake District the Ten Peaks Challenge took place while the Bob Graham Round was tackled Dark Peak style with a 100% successful completion rate comprising Dan Stowers, David Hakes, Kirk Hardwick, Fiona Lynch (Radcliffe AC) and Yvonne Beckwith. Richard Hakes has compiled an interesting report on the Dark Peak 2018 BG round which is in the Bob Graham section.
Gregory Crowley took part in the Montane Spine Fusion Full (the summer version of the Spine Race that takes place annually in January each year). He finished in second place with a time of 91 hours 21 minutes and 58 seconds which is more than 42 hours faster than his January 2018 time in the brutal weather conditions at that time.
Further south the South Wales 100 took place starting and ending in Cardiff and passing over the Brecon Beacons and a few other hills along the way.Steven Jones took part and this is covered in a separate blog.
LDWA Cinque Ports 100
Saturday 26 May 2018
101.3 miles (163.02 km); 6,807 feet (2,075 m) of ascent
Starting in Hastings the route initially followed the coast before going inland to visit several villages before going back to the coast to pass through the edges of Folkestone and Dover and up the coast before going inland again to visit Sandwich then on to the finish in Dover. The route was mainly flat and coastal but also featured trips through lowland areas intersected with waterways and channels which boasted a prolific quantity of vocal frogs. Some paths were quite overgrown and this forced me to proceed bent over like a hunchback and shuffling sideways to avoid low hanging branches and overgrown vegetation on some of the narrow paths. On the first day it was extremely hot making running hard work and rather than risk burning up in the heat I reverted to walking with a view to finishing rather than a brisker pace leading to over-heating and pulling out with heat exhaustion. A spectacular thunderstorm lasting most of the night only brought brief respite since most the rain seemed to be falling some miles away. The next day brought even more heat and the checkpoints provided sanctuary from the searing heat of the sun.
First Man: Gary Upstone and David Wakeling - joint first; 23:18
First Lady: joint 3rd overall; Lisa Joanne Walbridge; 24:38
Steven Jones: 109th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 37:26
There may have been other Dark Peak Fell Runners taking part but the results do not show details of club membership.
Pembrokeshire Coastal 100
12-13 May 2018
101 miles (162.6 km); 16,500 feet (5,030 m) of ascent
First Lady: First overall; Sanna Duthie; 23:02:04
First Man: Second overall; Ben Wernick; 25:12:09
Steven Jones: 13th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 34:34:37
Weather: Very hot in the day and sunny but cold at night.
The Pembrokeshire Coastal 100 follows the stunning Pembrokeshire Coastal Path from Dale to St Dogmaels, Cardigan. The picturesque route follows rugged cliff tops and sheltered coves; shingle beaches; winding estuaries and passes some small villages. The exposed coast gave no shelter from the blazing sun and at night the sea breeze and clear skies led to a very cold night.
Pembrokeshire's coast displays a great variety of rocks and scenery. Nearly all of the rocks formed before the end of the Carboniferous Period some 290 million years ago. The oldest date back 600 million years and were observed running around the Treginnis Peninsula. Rocks younger than 290 million years old have been lost due to weathering and marine erosion. An observant runner might have noticed some igneous rocks at St Bride's Bay among the majority of sedimentary rocks such as Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous Limestone formations. As the race progressed and moving north the underlying geology consisted mainly of sedimentary rocks laid down before the Caledonian mountain building period which ended about 400 million years ago. The folds and faults at Ceibwr Bay were created by this event. Indeed, they were so spectacular that they fully distracted me from the slog up the steep slopes. The last few miles lacked the magnificent scenery of earlier and the prospect of running along a tarmac road in the heat of the blazing sun was not welcome. So a leisurely walk to the finish avoided further over-heating.
Saturday 28 April 2018
61 miles; 11,000'
Fastest Man: Neil Talbott; 11:16
Fastest Lady: 18th overall; Jessica Richardson; 14:01
Stuart Walker: 2nd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 11:44
Steven Jones: 122nd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 20:01
Colin Ward: Joint 125th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 20:16
Neil Drake: Joint 131st; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 20:34
Sarah Jones-Morris: Joint 168th; Penistone; 22:35
Anne Beresford: Joint 168th; Penistone; 22:35
Steve Burgess: Joint 168th; 22:35
Steve Sanders: Joint 168th; 22:35
John Vernon: Joint 183rd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 23:49
The conditions were fairly benign with reasonable weather and good visibility albeit it got quite cold at night. Conditions underfoot were relatively dry.
John Vernon had completed his first Fellsman 50 years earlier and was presented with a special award. He had enjoyed this event just as much as the first one.
Saturday 14 April 2018
40 miles (64.4 km); 6,800 feet (2,073 m) of ascent
First Man: Rory Harris; 5:54
First Lady: 7th overall; Karen Nash: 7:58
Steven Jones: 45th; DPFR; 11:30
John Vernon: DNF
There were also walkers on the long course and a shorter course of 22 miles for both runners and walkers. The walkers started earlier giving them a head start. 32 walkers started the long course and 7 of them DNF'd leaving 25 finishers. All of the starters on the short course finished (40 runners and 52 walkers). Overall for all variants there were 175 starters; 13 DNF'd and 162 finishers.
The weather was warm and dry but soggy underfoot in places. The unseasonably warm weather was energy sapping making it hard to maintain a decent pace.
It was the 40th anniversary of the event so a special route of 40 miles had been devised to commemorate the occasion with special medals for all finishers. Starting at Sowerby Saint Peter's Cricket Club the route descended to the Rochdale Canal leading to the Calder & Hebble Navigation; at this early stage of the race the flat paths invited fast running at a pace that was not sustainable. Various tracks, trails and roads wound through and past Greetland, Ripponden, Cragg Vale, Withens Clough Reservoir, Todmorden, Bride Stones Moor (where I was unable to resist the temptation to divert from the optimum route to touch the trig point), Great Rock, Hebden Bridge, Horse Bridge, Pecket Well, Crow Nook Hill, Luddenden and back to the finish at the cricket club.
I arrived at the start early but in a sleep-deprived state. The fast start combined with a warm day conspired to lead to me fading early on. Having recently acclimatised to running in blizzard conditions the heat of the early spring sun was challenging and as the day wore on sunburn added to the factors slowing me down.
Near Horse Bridge a small fly landed in my eye and in an attempt to remove the creature I managed to rub salty sweat into both eyes causing near blindness. Staggering around looking for the correct path I managed to miss the tucked away entrance to the trail and floundered around barely able to see where I was going let alone the map. Finally after a long tortuous tour of most of the paths and trails in the area (some more than once) I arrived at the Pecket Well checkpoint. A marshal was able to kindly remove the troublesome insect and I was able to resume the run albeit now in last place and in danger of missing the cut-off points. In an effort to go faster I ran along without navigating as carefully as I should have done and missed some paths and turnings and had to battle across heather to regain the route at various points. After crossing the River Calder the finish was reached after one last climb.
Saturday 7 April 2018
The following details were provided by John Bottomley:
62miles (100km), 5,866' (1,788m)
First Man: Adam Potter, M40 (??) 9hr 33
First Lady: Carol Morgan, F40 (??) 10hr 24
John Bottomley 2nd, M, DPFR, 9hr 50
Chris Duffy 9th, M, DPFR, 11hr 23
Although the day started with a cloudless sky and early morning sun/temperature inversion mist, it soon clouded over & rained to varying degrees for the rest of the day. This race was 2 x 31 mile loops & the 1st time I had done such a race - would I find it hard to do lap 2 in terms of motivation needed to leave the finish point again knowing exactly what I would be running along?
In the event although I knew it would be another 4.5hrs in the rain & at times lots of mud, it didn't seem odd to be leaving the finish again.
Unlike other races there was nothing exciting about the CP food (or the race route for that matter!) and as it was wet & cold, no-one stayed around afterwards so the finish was somewhat of a damb squib too.
Yes the course is a fast course but I think that's the only merit of this whole event."
Lakes Mountain 42
Saturday 31 March 2018
Bad weather alternative route in force this year
27 miles (43.4 km); 6,000 feet (1,828 m) of ascent (approximate figures)
Starting at Askham the route visited the summits of Loadpot Hill and High Street before passing Angle Tarn on the way to Patterdale. Due to adverse conditions on Helvellyn the loop to Grisedale Tarn; the Wythburn Church car park; Helvellyn; Whiteside; Glenridding and back past Patterdale was omitted this year. That just left Place Fell to be conquered in a white-out blizzard trying to pick out a route across the snow covered ground before racing back via Martindale Church for an early finish with soup and other refreshments.
First Man: Casper Kaars Sijpesteijn; 4:16
First Lady: 5th overall; Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn; 4:40
Steven Jones: 74th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 6:56
Duncan Marsh: 99th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 7:43
John Vernon: 110th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 9:17
The weather had been fairly cold; with initially reasonable visibility before a white-out blizzard later on; strong winds on the tops but overall the wintry conditions added to the experience. There were reports of ice and hard-packed snow on the Helvellyn summit and a forecast for fresh snow on top which inspired the organiser to omit the Helvellyn loop on safety grounds. Originally the route would have been 42 miles with a 6 am start which was put back to 8 am since the route had been scaled back.
On the Sunday I went to The Cheviots rather than rushing back home. The weather there was equally interesting with a white-out blizzard and knee deep snow approaching Windy Gyle. This more than made up for the deficit in the shortened run the day before and brought the mileage for the weekend back to a more respectable level.
LDWA Three Shires
Saturday 24 March 2018
29 miles (46.7 km); 5,682 feet (1,732 m) of ascent
The ascent is approximate and there were no details of starters or finishers or times for other entrants.
The route started from the Swythamley & Heaton Centre and headed to Gun Hill before crossing farmland to the Roaches to traverse the ridge; there was a diversion this year to Lud's Church then Gradbach; past the Three Shires Head and along the Cumberland Brook; a loop up and down Shutlingsloe prior to a well-stocked checkpoint in Wildboarclough; a seven mile loop across mainly farmland and back to the refreshments at Wildboarclough before heading back to the finish from where the fun started earlier in the day. This was a LDWA challenge event and not a race as such but rather a day out to see if the course could be completed within the cut-offs.At the end there were more refreshments.
The weather had been dry throughout and quite mild for the time of year with good visibility.It was wet underfoot in places.
Steven Jones: Dark Peak Fell Runners; 7:18
Saturday 10 March 2018
32 miles (51.5 km); 4,400 feet (1,341 m) of ascent
Starters: 375 (including pairs)
Finishers: 313 singles and pairs (351 runners in total)
First Man: Ken Sutor; M40; Cheshire Hash; 4:33:18
First Lady: 14th overall; Lorraine Slater; F45; Barlick; 5:07:02
John Bottomley: 6th; M35; DPFR; 4:51:13
Cass Chisholm: 141st; F35; DPFR; 6:35:58
Steven Jones: 196th; M55; DPFR; 7:12:54
John Vernon: 311st; M65: DPFR; 9:59:08
The Haworth Hobble is a race for singles or pairs with mostly single runners taking part. There were 313 finishers (including pairs) and since some started as pairs the actual number of finishers was 351. It is not known whether the 24 DNF's were 12 pairs or 24 singles or some other combination. During the event there were hot dogs, doughnuts, whisky and other refreshments.
The weather had been dry throughout and quite mild for the time of year with good visibility. It was very wet underfoot in places with patches of snow remaining here and there.
John Bottomley who had been near the front during the race had the following to say:
The race was summed up by the conversation I had with the bloke at the end taking numbers. He said 'We were puzzled to begin with as you were all a lot slower than usual but you all looked like you had been working hard.' Yes, that would be the fault of the conditions; a choice of running through 3in of stream water along the path or taking your chances in the 3/4in + mud down the sides of the path. Twice, whilst running across a sopping wet field I did feel sorry for the people at the back; would they actually be able to run through the morass left by the 300+ people running before them?!
Whilst I did set off too fast as usual I realised this earlier than last year and slowed so avoided running the last half in post-crash purgatory. The biggest disappointment though was the lack of donuts at the end - last year there were 6 banana boxes piled high with them (which was a regrettably missed photo opportunity) whereas as although there was stew and heaps of pasta, the only sugar I could see were a few cupcakes - a healthier slant to their post race food I wonder?!"
Spine Races - Montane Spine Race; Montane Spine Challenger; Montane Spine Challenger MRT
There are three versions of the Spine Races. The Spine Race itself follows the entire Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland. The shorter Spine Challenger starts at Edale but stops at Hardraw. The Spine Challenger MRT is the same as the Spine Challenger but is solely for active members of rescue teams. The races commence at different times which reduces crowding and checkpoints being inundated with runners. The Spine Challenger started at 8 am on Saturday 13 January 2018 with the Spine MRT Challenge starting half an hour later. With the first wave of runners out of the way the organisers could register and kit check the rest of the runners enabling the Spine Race to start at 8 am on Sunday 14 January 2018.
No support was allowed for the runners other than a drop-bag being transported by the organisers to checkpoints along the route.
The races have quite a reputation for being brutal due to the harsh winter conditions; the terrain and the darkness. Nevertheless they attract entrants from around the world such as New Zealand, USA, Japan, various European countries and many more. Of the 283 entrants across the three races 69 were from overseas.
The weather and conditions started off very favourably on the Saturday. The ground was very dry and the anticipated bogs and deep water of Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill seemed to have almost dried up making for a fast start. A mountain hare complete with white winter coat crossed my path shortly after Mill Hill which I took to be a good omen. A stiff breeze grew increasingly more intense and by Sunday evening gale force winds were forecast. By then the fastest Spine Challenger racers had already finished. On safety grounds the organisers enforced a route diversion to avoid the summit of Pen-y-ghent for later Spine Challenger and all Spine Race participants. The cut-off only applied after I tackled the original route and enjoyed the breezy conditions and sheet ice on the rocks in the pitch black of the second night.
At Horton-in-Ribblesdale the cafe was open all night to cater for the runners. By the time I left fully refreshed and ready to go again their entire stock of pies had been consumed. Thereafter the winds continued unabated with horizontal sleet, snow and rain along the deeply rutted and waterlogged Cam Road. Passing Gayle and Hawes the heavy precipitation had caused the rivers to be in full spate which was a spectacular site to behold. Just before the finish at Hardraw the river had burst its banks and the road and bridge were underwater with no alternative route to the finish. However, it was possible to wade through and reach the finish even wetter than before.
For the Spine Race the fun continued for about another 160 miles as the weather worsened. Snow storms closed roads and at one point the Spine Race was paused with competitors being held at checkpoints until conditions eased off. Towards the end it was necessary to wade through not just mud and bogs but also waist deep snow in parts. On the last day the weather eased off enabling those just beating the cut-offs to finish successfully.
With the tough terrain and vicious weather conditions these races require more survival skills than running ability. Of the five runners most expected to win only one finished with the other four pulling out for various reasons. As the race continued the temperatures dropped and the winds increased. Rain, snow and sleet battered the participants and the effects of wind-chill only exacerbating matters.
By the Tuesday high winds and blizzards were hampering runners while the country was grid-locked in places with roads closed and severe weather warnings were in force. The next day those runners who had brought snow shoes were able to cope with the deep snow-drifts while others floundered around in waist deep snow. Further snow and more high winds were forecast to continue.
Due to blizzards and high winds the race was temporarily halted on Wednesday evening with runners being held back at checkpoints for conditions to improve. This gave them scope to rest and recuperate before being allowed to continue again at 6 am on the Thursday. That evening Pavel Paloncy was the first to finish. This was his third win and fifth completion of the Spine Race. Three previous winners failed to complete the course this year.
Early on Friday evening Carol Morgan finished amidst a snow storm to secure her second victory in the Spine Race. A few hours later Gregory Crowley arrived at the finish for his fourth successful completion of the Spine Race and each of those finishes have been top ten places.
On the Saturday the weather eased off enabling the final runners to finish with glorious views of The Cheviots covered in snow or in the dark as the case may be. Overall there were 53 finishers and some only a few hours inside the cut-off. Fewer than half the starters managed to finish.
Saturday 13 January 2018 to Monday 15 January 2018
108 miles (174 km); 18,550 feet (5,654 m) of ascent
60 hours maximum time limit
First Man: Wouter Huitzing; 25:42:21 (new course record)
First Lady and 4th overall: Emma Hopkinson; 29:39:35 (new course record)
Cass Chisholm: 2nd lady and 12th overall; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 35:38:20
Jen Scotney: 3rd lady and 16th overall; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 37:12:45
Steven Jones: 31st man and 35th overall; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 45:20:54
The women's race was won by former England International fellrunner Emma Hopkinson who knocked over 40 minutes off the previous record. Second and third ladies were both Dark Peak Fell Runners.
Spine Challenger MRT
Saturday 13 January 2018 to Monday 15 January 2018
108 miles (174 km); 18,550 feet (5,654 m) of ascent
60 hours maximum time limit
First Man: Robin Smith; 37:45:37
First Lady and 7th overall: Steph Dwyer; 41:51:01
Sunday 14 January 2018 to Sunday 21 January 2018
261.3 miles (420.5 km); 43,733 feet (13,330 m) of ascent
168 hour time limit
First Man: Pavel Paloncy; 109:50:22
First Lady and 7th overall: Carol Morgan; 130:37:22
Gregory Crowley: 7th man and 8th overall; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 133:47:41
Tour de Helvellyn
Saturday 16 December 2017
38 miles (61.1 km); 7,874 feet (2,400 m) of ascent
Starting in Askham the route generally follows footpaths and bridleways to St Peter's Church near Martindale; Boredale (Boardale on the British Mountain Map); Patterdale; Sticks Pass; Stannah Beck; Swirls car park; Birkside Ghyll; Raise Beck; Grisedale Tarn; Patterdale again and back to Askham.
Visibility was generally good. Higher parts of the course were blessed with an abundance of snow and sheet ice lurked in patches to give runners winter conditions. In the absence of strong winds and precipitation the conditions seemed quite mild and the ample spare layers taken just in case remained unused (but wisely taken just in case). There was sufficient snow to inspire a profusion of skiers who could be seen carrying skis to enjoy the conditions. On the ascent towards Grisedale Tarn on the path up Raise Beck Santa Claus was merrily snapping photos of the runners (which can be seen on the Facebook page of the event accessible via the event website).
Recent snowfall was evident on most of the course and there was a flurry of snow at the start but that soon eased off. On the hills there was plenty of snow to make it a magical day out. Particularly lower down snow had melted and frozen again to give patches of sheet ice. Generally the route offered a choice of loose gravel and slippery rocks or wet grass and mud or sheet ice. At one point I went skidding along on a patch of sheet ice and slammed into a large rock causing a Kendal mint cake to sustain a double fracture and dislodging the cherry from the icing of my bakewell tart. Fortunately I bore most of the impact on my arm, shoulder and head so a packet of Eccles cakes escaped totally unscathed.
First Man: Rory Harris; M; 5:54:47
First Lady: 5th overall; Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn; North Leeds Fell Runners; F; 6:29:13
David Harrison: 22nd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV50; 7:29:36
Nicky Spinks: 24th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; FV50; 7:31:47
Ian Loombe: 27th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV40; 7:33:02
Cass Chisholm: 102nd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; F; 9:34:29
Steven Jones: 130th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV50; 10:15:13
White Rose Ultra
Saturday 4 November 2017
30 miles (48.3 km); 3,865 feet (1,180 m) of ascent
With the race HQ at Marsden a 30 mile loop was fully sign-posted so entrants didn't need to navigate around the course but just keep a close watch on the arrows and signs around the route. The 60 mile event was two laps of the same loop and the 100 mile version involved three laps followed by an extra smaller 10 mile loop. There was enough elevation to qualify as a CL fell race but the easy trails and roads made it more of a trail race. The weather was cool with no rain and good visibility.
White Rose Ultra 30:
Starters: Not known
Retired: Not known
Fastest Man: Rory Harris; M; 3:56:42
Fastest Lady: Kim Kennedy; 21st overall; F; 5:03:28
Steven Jones: 153rd; Dark Peak Fell Runners; MV50; 7:19:58
White Rose Ultra 60:
Fastest Man: Cees van der Land; M; 9:18:28
Fastest Lady: Helen Pickford; 3rd overall; FV40; 11:18:17
White Rose Ultra 100:
Fastest Man: Kristofer Collier; M; 21:36:00
Fastest Lady: Gemma Morgans; 5th overall; F; 26:45:34
The White Rose Ultra 30 was the final race in the Runfurther series of ultra races. Dark Peak Fell Runners were 6th for 2017.
Round Rotherham Run
Saturday 14 October 2017
50 miles (80.5 km); 2,625 feet (800 m) of ascent
A trail run around Rotherham following the Rowbotham's Round Rotherham footpath mostly over farmland and rural areas on sign-posted paths, bridleways and roads with very little ascent. The weather was unseasonally hot and very dry. Temperatures were said to be around 20˚C!
First Man: Ken Sutor; MV40; Cheshire Hash House Harriers; 7:01:13
First Lady: 17th overall; Elly Woodhead; F; Kimberworth Striders; 9:18:38
Dave Stevens: Joint 14th; M; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 9:10:37
Steven Jones: 60th; MV50; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 11:21:07
Jack Swindells: 63rd; M; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 11:22:44
Jim Fulton: 71st; MV60; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 11:40:16
John Spencer: Retired at CP5 Firbeck; MV50; Dark Peak Fell Runners
Andrew Chester: Retired at CP4 Woodsetts; MV40; Dark Peak Fell Runners
The full results (with split times) are shown on the SPORTident website at www.sportident.co.uk/results.php
King Offa's Dyke Race
8 pm Friday 15 September 2017 to Tuesday 2 pm 19 September 2017
185 miles (297.7 km); 29,806 feet (9,085 m) of ascent (90 hour time limit)
The course follows the Offa's Dyke national trail path from near Chepstow in South Wales to Prestatyn in North Wales. The route roughly follows the boundary between England and Wales and crosses numerous counties in both England and Wales; passes several towns and villages and ascends various hills including the Black Mountains and the Clwydian Range giving a cumulative ascent and descent surpassing sea level to the summit of Everest. There was a 90 hour (6 hours short of four days) cut-off with any resting or sleeping eating into the time available.
First Man: Gregory Crowley Dark Peak Fell Runners 54:54:04
First Lady: Victoria Owens Joint 19th overall 85:17:59 (only lady finisher)
Steven Jones: 12th Dark Peak Fell Runners 80:18:00
The race started at 8 pm on Friday 15 September 2017 and by then it was already dark. Before the first checkpoint the runners were setting a fast pace through woods with tree roots coiled like serpents ready to trip any unwary runners not paying close attention to foot placement. By dawn the participants were running or walking over the Black Mountains and thereafter going up and down various hills one after another through the day and night and day and night again. Going over the Clwydian Range I diverted to explore the Jubilee Tower and view the sights before re-joining the race for yet more night running. At the finish at the Nova Centre in Prestatyn the successful athletes could be seen unconscious and frozen in time like the victims of Pompeii with bodies in suspended animation and captured in the act of whatever they were doing when the volcano struck. So it was at the Nova Centre with exhausted runners having fallen asleep in various poses such as on top of a sleeping bag asleep before they could crawl inside it; a sock half on and asleep on a chair; face first in a finisher's meal slumped across a table; prostrate on the floor around the building; sprawled next to a mobile phone with a conversation terminated abruptly by sleep and so on.
Gregory Crowley had finished more than a full day ahead of most runners having been in third position for most of the race then leap-frogging into the lead by not stopping to rest. He increased his lead to win comfortably and the full results and split results can be found in the link http://kingoffasdyke.co.uk/
The weather had been reasonable and mostly dry but with some rain from time to time.
Special trophies were given to Jon Dufty and Steven Jones as Double Finishers (both finished in 2016 and 2017).
The next King Offa's Dyke Race will take place in 2019. After this year the event will take place bi-annually.
There was also a shorter version of the event following the same course but ending at Montgomery. This was the Mercian Challenge of a mere 100 miles and the results for that are as follows:
1st (and first lady) Becky Wightman 31:25:19
2nd (and first man) Rupert Cheshire 33:10:51
Ten Peaks Brecon Beacons Long Course
Saturday 9 September 2017
55.3 miles (89 km); 15,748 feet (4,800 m) of ascent
Route description: Starting from the Talybont Reservoir the course heads west to take in a number of peaks south of Pen y Fan and ultimately to the twin peaks of The Black Mountain. It then heads back east but about a mile further north to take in different peaks on the return trip including the rollercoaster ridgeline of Corn Du, Pen y Fan, Cribyn, Fan y Big and Bwlch y Ddwyallt prior to the slippery final descent back to race headquarters.
Most runners were from Great Britain but other nationalities included South Africa, Slovakia, Sweden, Belgium, France and Finland.
There is also a Short Course option which is only 58 km with only 3,000 metres of ascent. It is possible to register for the Short Course or for those feeling the pace at Checkpoint 2 to divert to the Short Course from the Long Course to avoid The Black Mountain, Fan Gyhirych and Fan Nedd.
Long course details:
Transferred to the Short Course: ??
Joint First Man: Robin Carter and Matt Tomlinson; 11:33:49
First Lady: Katie Hateley; 23rd overall; 16:47:55
Steven Jones: 35th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 19:18:18
Weather: Dry to start with then rain, light rain and heavy showers. It was quite breezy and towards the end the winds got stronger. At night there was mist on the hills.
The Storey Arms was used as a checkpoint on the way out and on the way back with a drop-bag facility (last year the checkpoint on the way out was at the foot of the path coming off the Pen y Fan track and the drop-bag was at about the half-way point).
Grand Tour of Skiddaw
Saturday 2 September 2017
44 miles (70.8 km); 7,136 feet (2,175 m) of ascent
Route: From Lime House School to Caldbeck, High Pike, Lingy Hut, Skiddaw House, Latrigg Car Park, Skiddaw, Long Side, Ullock Pike, Peter House Farm, Fell Side, Caldbeck and back to Lime House School.
Results for solo runners only:
Fastest Man: Chris Ellyatt; Herbinators; 8:04:34
Fastest Lady: Caroline Thomas; 23rd overall; Horsforth Harriers; 10:13:42
Georgie Hill: 32nd; 2nd lady; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 10:52:35
Steven Jones: 35th; Dark Peak Fell Runners; 10:55:34
There were also pairs of runners with the fastest pair finishing in 9:54:45.
Weather: Warm with a few clouds and good visibility. No rain at all!
Long Tour of Bradwell
Saturday 12 August 2017
32.7 miles (52.6 km); 7,218 feet (2,200 m) of ascent
The route embraces some interesting and varying scenery from both the White Park and Dark Peak areas of the Peak District.It starts in Bradwell with a gradual ascent to the Limestone Way before descending to Castleton via Cave Dale; then over Hollins Cross and down to Edale before a climb to the Druid's Stone on the Kinder plateau; up Lose Hill and around the edge of Win Hill and across to Bamford; past Dennis Knoll to run along Stanage Edge followed by Upper Burbage Bridge and Burbage Bridge; past Upper Padley and Leadmill before a trail along Abney Clough then up and over and back down to the finish in Bradwell. The weather was mainly cloudy with occasional showers.
Fastest Man: Lee Kemp Waverly Harriers 5:03:51
Fastest Lady: 13th overall Nicky Spinks Dark Peak Fell Runners 6:23:36
Jon Pemberton: 5th Dark Peak Fell Runners 6:05:32
Gregory Crowley: 22nd Dark Peak Fell Runners 6:42:40
Claire Prosser: 55th Dark Peak Fell Runners 7:51:32
Chris Duffy: 57th Dark Peak Fell Runners 7:53:15
Michael Bourne: 71st Dark Peak Fell Runners 8:27:14
Georgie Hill: 74th Dark Peak Fell Runners 8:32:26
Steven Jones: 79th Dark Peak Fell Runners 8:58:07
There was also a Half Tour of Bradwell of about 16 miles and 3,000 feet of ascent representing a truncated version of the Long Tour of Bradwell. 141 out of the 142 starters finished.
Fastest Man: Bart Shaw Totley AC 2:04:24
Fastest Lady: 11th overall Tracy Dean Raidlight UK 2:21:40
Gareth Briggs: 4th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:06:57
Adrian Fisher: 9th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:17:47
David Bethell: 10th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:18:56
Mick Archer: 13th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:21:48
Chloe Haines: 20th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:30:26
Rosie Walwyn: 31st Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:36:20
David Wood: 46th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:46:30
Dave Coleshill: 56th Dark Peak Fell Runners 2:51:30
The race timing was provided by Racetek. Full details of splits and the ability to filter the results into categories is on the internet under "Results Racetek". The occasional checkpoint location was not registered for some runners despite being "dibbed". However, the timing and the layout of the results was good overall.
© Dark Peak Fell Runners 2020
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