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English Champs race update

August 21, 2014

A few Bowlanders have taken an interest in the English champs races this year. 2 of them have taken place in the last month, Kentmere and Sedbergh Hills.

I was pleased to overcome a tendonitis problem in time for Kentmere. It had came on acutely at the end of the LAMM in June, and I was also relieved to get an entry having not entered back in February. At least substitutions were allowed on the sport ident website. Even with this allowance, out of 600 entries only 364 ran on the day.

The race itself was one of extreme contrasts. I have rarely been so hot and sweaty climbing at the start of a race alongside so many others. Once up high temperatures eased a little. Coming off Kentmere, the final checkpoint the rain started and continued such that by the finish I was actually quite cold. I would not have believed that as I ascended early in the race. Post race conviviality was severely curtailed as everyone realised an urgent need to get their car off the parking field or risk needing a tow.

Results for Bowland included Chris Reade 85th and 9th MV50, Nick Hewitt 8th MV60, John Taylor 5th MV65 and myself 5th LV50. In all 8 Bowlanders turned out.

As for Sedbergh, Chris R had not entered so will not manage a long race this season. Nick was ill but he ran at Ennerdale which will count for him. Again 8 Bowlanders made it to the start line. Conditions were in marked contrast to last year with many opting to start wearing cags while others set off in just a vest. Wet and windy sums up the day. I found conditions particularly slippy on contouring sections and the steep descents. Indeed I struggled all the way round. Not so for Dan Clark though who came in 50th in a time of 2h 32. Graham was not far behind in 2h 35. Well done to them. Other notable results were Sarah Massey 3h 13 and John Taylor again 5th MV65. Well done to all who finished.

Great to have support from Saira and Jo. I think I would rather be racing than hanging around on a day like that so grateful thinks to them.

The Colby’s Lakeland 50

July 31, 2014

After several months of training we finally got to go and do the Lakeland 50 last weekend. Our only plan was to go steady and finish, whatever happens.

Soon as I had finished work on Friday, the van was rammed full of our gear and we set off to Coniston. We made decent time to the school, so managed to pitch the tent and get a couple of beers before the 100 runners headed out. Watching them head off through Coniston for their first of 2 nights running, made us realise that our goal for the last year was here at last. It was truly inspirational watching them start their journey.

us at L50

Once they had all gone through and our beer was finished, we headed off to get weighed, our kit checked and complete our registration. This was a super smooth operation and went without hitch. From here we went to the chippy for our tea and then settled ourselves at the tent for an evening of relaxation and anticipation.

I can honestly say at no point was I nervous, my total belief that Angela and I had prepared well, made me totally resolute to the fact we would finish without problem. If I was doing the hundred, I would probably have been shitting myself!

Morning arrived with very little sleep had and a long wait in the breakfast line to look forward too! Before we had time to blink we had scoffed our bacon butties, done the mandatory toilet visits and had got our seats on the coach that was taking us to Dalemain. The drive went by in a flash as well and before we knew it, we where stood on the fields at Dalemain, getting excited for the off.

The hundred runners slowly passed through as we waited to dib in the start pen, the applause they got really got the atmosphere buzzing. I couldn’t wait to get running now. Like demented sheep we dibbed in on our way toward the start line, shortly after, our journey really began.

The first 4 miles are a section of rolling fields through the estate before you cross the road and head down to the River Eamont. This flat cool section brought us to Pooley Bridge, we could here crowds cheering long before we ran through the car park and over the bridge.

Easy running through Pooley Bridge brought us uphill to get on the trail to Howtown, this was our first planned walk area. The last bit of road and first part of the track are a bit steep for running on a 50 miler, for us at least! Before long we had trotted along and could enjoy the views of Ullswater, as we slowly plodded our way to Howtown.

The sun was absolutely scorching and I think I had sweat out more fluids than I was carrying! At the checkpoint we both had plenty to drink, topped up bottles and I had a bit of food. No need to stay very long here as we had only covered 11 miles or so. We headed back up the road we had just come from and then took a trail through the boiling cauldron that is Fusedale.

We have done this section a couple of times on recce runs, so had a plan of attack and stuck to it, seems everyone else had the same plan! Run the flat, semi-flat and then walk uphill. This worked a treat and we had got to High Kop with no issues other than sweating gallons. We enjoyed the grassy running over to Low Kop and started to keep alert for the disused mine and a little cairn that signalled our descent on a grassy trod down to Haweswater.

Happily tootling along behind lots of other people, I noticed the cairn out of the corner of my eye, so we tracked back to the path and started the nice descent, followed now by lots of people who realised we knew the route. I think most of these followed us from there to the finish, ha!

Rocky and undulating is a good description for the path round Haweswater, also absolutely boiling as there wasn’t a breath of wind. It felt forever until we reached the checkpoint at Mardale Head and by this point I had again drained both my bottles and was absolutely gasping for a drink.

Bottles filled, lots of drinks had and some butties from the checkpoint and we headed up the long rocky drag that is Gatesgarth Pass. I was feeling a lot frustrated by this point. I couldn’t get used to sharing the trails with hundreds of people, some would go past and then go slower than I was travelling. It got annoying when you are on miles of single track trail at a time.


The pass gave us a wide trail so we managed to get in a little gap and I relaxed again, for a while. I do tend to get easily stressed! The heat was slowly beginning to calm a little as it approached evening, so running became a lot more comfortable as we really got a nice pace going through Longsleddale. I really quite enjoyed this section, it was nicely broken up and Angela and I ran it just as we had planned in training. So far, we really did run exactly as we had planned, apart from sections of single track, where the person in front of you dictated the pace.

Once we reached Sadgill, the temperature felt great and we had stopped consuming quite as much fluid. The climb over to Kentmere soon came and went and the long awaited pasta meal was in my greedy possession. It was bloody lovely and went down a treat, so did the smoothy, coke and more butties. I am so greedy!

Angela always struggles to eat on a run but was trying hard to get nutrition down. She had managed butties ok earlier but couldn’t manage much of the pasta. A sign of things to come! Fortunately she is used to running marathons on a couple of jelly babies, so I was pretty confident she would keep going ok.

I had not been looking forward to climbing up the rocky Garburn Pass and neither of us particularly enjoyed it. It was a long, slow trudge up there and a good few people strolled passed us. We again just kept steady as we had agreed and soon had
levelled out and started to scoot down the Garburn Road to Troutbeck.

We had a great section from Troutbeck, I think both of us hit a really good spell where the running became pretty effortless, for a short time. After the walk up and out of the village we enjoyed the run through Skelghyll Woods and down the leafy lanes. When the road levelled out and we started to head into Ambleside, Angela set off like a rocket! We both agreed that if we felt good, we may as well use it while it lasts!

The cheers of support in Ambleside really gave us a big boost and reminded us of what an achievement running 50 miles actually is. With talking so often to people who run Ultras regularly, it has become a normal part of conversations to talk about large mileage runs. Somewhere in the middle of it all, I think we forget quite what an effort goes into it and what an achievement it is for a couple of 43 year olds! All these people applauding our efforts kind of brought it home to me, we do something a miniscule percentage of the population do.

We rushed into the checkpoint pretty giddy and I once again got stuck into butties and coke, while my bottles got filled again! Angela in her excitement gulped down a couple of large cups of coke, these immediately did not settle well.

As we headed over the shoulder of Loughrigg, Angela’s stomach felt pretty grotty and she began to feel sick. It also started to go dark rather quickly, as a band of rain quickly headed in. It was lovely refreshing drizzle as we headed down to Skelwith Bridge but as we neared Elterwater it became heavy so coats had to go on. Our shirts where wet but as it had been warm all day, we didn’t worry too much about our body temperatures.

The run to the Chapel Stile was a little slower than usual, you would have thought we had about 40 miles in our legs or something! At the checkpoint we had a sit down in the hope that Angela’s stomach might improve with a little rest. I wolfed down some lovely hot stew and more coke while Angela managed to force a mouthful of hot tea down. We got our head torches on and set off into the now dark, damp night.

Within 50 yards I suddenly felt very cold and started to shiver so violently that I couldn’t run in a straight line. Not waiting to slip into a hypothermic state, we stripped off our wet tops and popped on our lovely dry extra layers. We got running immediately to try and warm up, this worked a trick and before long, the rain had stopped and our hoods had been pulled back down.

The zig zag path around the back of the National Trust campasite in Great Langdale was soon put to bed and we trotted round Blea Tarn. It was slow and slippy going, picking the path around the high ground above Blea Moss in the bracken and gloom. It wasn’t helped by someone behind keep going on about a boulder we should have seen by now, we had passed it a couple of hundred yards ago! I bit my lip and just cracked on to the unmanned dibber on the Wrynose Pass road.

We jogged down to the little bridge and headed on the track toward Tilberthwaite, our last checkpoint of the day. Once the rocky up and over was done, we had a quick pit stop and then rallied ourselves for the last climb.

The steps out of Tilberthwaite are not welcomed by many, so it was a nice touch to see them lit up by lanterns. it took my mind of their severe steepness. We ambled up and over the fell, keeping the beck on our right. The final descent was seriously hard work on tired legs in the dark. Steady as we go again here, it really wouldn’t be the place to fall and DNF!

After what seemed like a lifetime we hit the old miners track and ran down into the village, feeling very elated at the fact that Team Colby had managed the Lakeland 50 and without even having an argument! Ha!

We dibbed in at the school gates to a round of applause and then we where announced into the school hall to a fantastic ovation. It really was moving and made the experience even more enriching. These people who sat clapping us actually knew what it felt like to do this, all of us had become kindred spirits through this experience.

We got our t-shirts, medals and an immediate print out of our times, then stood about in a bit of a euphoric daze before we decided to head to the tent for cider. we couldn’t face the meal provided and really just wanted to get off our feet.

3 cans of cider each later, we got a bit of sleep! Next morning was breakfast, tent down and home, back to reality, sadly!

It was great to see some friendly faces on route, they really did uplift us. Support can mean so much when you are feeling knackered. The checkpoints also gave you great assistance in a wonderful calm manner.

Thinking of the event afterwards I would say my word of choice would have been “frustrated”. I am not used to sharing the route with so many people, it had been just Angela and I for the previous 9 months! That is of course just a very selfish response.

The word I would use now is “awesome”. It is the most amazingly organised race I have ever done, the checkpoints are like big banquets with fantastic helpful people at them. The whole organisation form start to finish was as smooth as silk. Parking, camping and checking in all went by smoothly, there was absolutely nothing I could say against this wonderful event.

Our training definitely worked well, we both got round fine and have felt good post event. Our only injuries are a blister each. We expected to get round between 12 and 15 hours and did it in 14.19, so are perfectly happy with that.

Hopefully we will manage to get entered again next year, just the 50 again for now!

Next up for us is a holiday to Rhodes to help us relax a little, before we do the St Begas Ultra 35 at the end of August. Gluttons for punishment us Colby’s!

Gaelforce North Adventure Race

July 28, 2014

News is filtering through from the Celtic fringe that Bowland’s very own
Steve Sweeney (V50) was outright winner of the Sprint ( 50km aggregate )
distance at the Gaelforce North adventure race in Co. Donegal, in a time
of 2:26:19, beating the 2nd placed competitor (a V40) by over 4 minutes.
There are not many pure mountain races in the NW corner of the Emerald
Isle but plenty of composite events that usually include a couple of
running legs, a cycling leg and a kayaking leg.
This event was pretty much on Steve’s home turf and included an ascent /
descent of his local hill, Mt. Errigal.


And the Trophy goes to….

July 20, 2014

Mark Chippendale

1st V40, 5th male overall at Ingleborough Gala Mountain Race.  Not the 1st time this particular bit of silverware has adorned Marks mantelpiece.

Well done Mark


Thanks to Ian Charters for the photo.

Bowland pre-race carb loading in Ingleton!

July 20, 2014

Saturday June 19th 2014 – a humid, wet day for Ingleborough Fell Race. 5 intrepid Bowlanders launched themselves at the cakes on offer in ‘Frumenty and Fluffin’ as part of their pre-race carb loading.

Shaun’s efforts clearly paid off – finishing 1st out of the 5 runners, closely followed by Rachel. However, being towards the end of the pack Ann, Ruth and Emma spotted the more sprightly Bowland figures of Mark Chippendale, Sam Harrison and Ian Charters descending at speed whilst they were still toiling onwards and upward towards the rain-shrouded summit of Ingleborough. Sadly, no pictures of the post-race tea and cake in Ingleton Community Centre – too busy scoffing!

Photo’s here … Ingleton Cakes



Busy Month

July 14, 2014

Since the last blog which ended at our run of the Yomp at the start of June, Angela and I have been a little busy. I have ran 9 races and Angela 5, she has to work shifts! In that time I don’t think I have got muddy once, you have to love summer.

I started the racing by doing Paddy’s Pole on the Wednesday after the Yomp. My legs really didn’t want to drag me up any hills that night but the mind was stronger and I managed to get round reasonably well. It definitely helped that it was a glorious evening for a run. I also got to meet a few more Bowland runners, though there is little chance of me remembering your names. My memory is awful, sorry.

Two days later I ran the Cuerden Valley Badger 10k Trail race. Angela was on a late shift week, so missed out on both runs. This is a quick but tough little race that I have done several times, it never gets any easier though!

The 15th June brought us back into some serious miles again, as we did the Hardmoors Rosedale Marathon. This is a race series over the North Yorkshire Moors, it has plenty of climbing and some pretty quick areas to stretch the old legs out. The first 10 miles or so are a long slow climb up onto the lonely moors and then you run a very fast and relatively flat route across the tops for several miles. This is my least favourite bit, as you have no big climb to give yourself a little excuse for a walk! From here you drop into the valley and climb straight back out of it. This was a good chance for a walk.

Once you get to the top you have another long run across the tops before a tremendous single track descent to the gorgeous village of Hutton Le Hole. As trail marathons go, this is fast and mostly ran on firm tracks. great if you want 27.5 miles of hilly speedwork in a friendly environment.

Three days later and the Colby’s headed to Cumbria for a rare 10k road race at Hawkshead. Another lovely evening to run round Esthwaite Water, while getting stunning views over to the Langdale Pikes. Certainly beat plodding round the streets of Fleetwood, especially as we got to stand in the village square with a beer and burger afterwards.

The 28th June arrived with the Bowland vests having now been dragged down to Dorset, another trail marathon to up our fitness for the Lakeland 50. The Giants Head Marathon promised us plenty of hills and cider at the mile 20 feed station, so what was not to like?

This was the toughest marathon I think I have done this year, harder than any Lakeland or Howgill run. This is purely because we virtually constantly  up or down hill all the way round. The route was quite varied in terrain, from grass, gravel, waist high bracken covered single track to rock hard tractor ruts. It was a series of 100 metre climbs and descents, this happened continually over the course of every 3 miles or so. Made much harder by the often ankle snapping ground conditions. Concentration was needed to make sure you put your feet on some kind of semi level ground.

I ran it really well until the final severe descent, where both my hamstrings totally cramped out. More embarrassingly, I had to turn and stand facing uphill, to try and stretch the cramp out, while a family stood and watched me with concerned looks. A lady eventually came and offered to help me down the final 300 metres to the finish, I had to decline the offer as I couldn’t move an inch. Despite her promises of me not being disqualified for taking assistance, I still had to decline as I couldn’t move with the hamstrings locking back up again.

So there I stood for about 3 minutes, facing uphill, away from the finish. I must have looked a right good lad! Suddenly the cramp left me as suddenly as it had appeared, so I scampered gingerly down to the finish as quickly as I could. My finish photo wasn’t very smiley!


Angela came in shortly after me with her usual big smile, making it look like she had just been out for a jog! I still couldn’t sit down as I knew the cramp was waiting to assault my already ravaged body once more!

A valuable lesson was learnt that day. We had decided not to take our own drinks as there was plenty of water stations on route, sadly I didn’t manage to get any salty drink down me. We usually run marathons with a mix of vimto and a little added salt and have never had cramp while using this.

The cider at mile 20 was very nice, the scenery was stunning, organisation was fantastic and friendly and it got some more good tough hill miles in our legs.

My next race was the 20 Barriers near Carnforth, not sure a couple of days was really enough recovery time from the marathon but the sun was shining again. It was a nice fast little trail run, with a bit of cow dodging here and there. My legs felt ok once I got going, so speedwork done for another week! Poor Angela was yet again on the late shift, she probably would have hated it anyway as she is majorly not keen on cows!


Two days later I did the next instalement of the Cuerden Valley Badger 10k Trail race. I decided to take it easy after the previous few days activities, yet came away with one of the fastest times I have ever done there. I suppose it proves if you run relaxed then your times improve.

Our next and 7th official marathon of this year arrived 3 days later. Again the Colby’s headed back up to Cumbria to run the Lakeland Trails Coniston Marathon. Another stunningly glorious day for getting out running in the fells greeted us as we set off from Coniston.

Coniston Marathon 2014

This marathon was always going to be a “take it careful”, as we are getting far too near to the L50 kind of run. Again running relaxed and soaking up the views, made it a very enjoyable day out while continuing to add fitness. The old legs have definitely took a beating lately and the first few climbs reminded me of this, once through the boring trails of Grizedale  and onto the rocky descent I really enjoyed myself. It got very hot near the end though and I was very glad to be sat with Angela having a cider soon after we finished. No cramp this time as we had taken the special vimto/salt mixture.

Our last run to date was again up in Cumbria, doing the Endmoor 10k. This is another on of the Kendal 10k roads race series, as is Hawkshead.

You get a lovely downhill start at Endmoor that lures you into setting a stupidly quick pace, this has got to be calmed down before you hit the long drag up to the highest part of the course. I got it wrong last time and by the 3 mile water station I just wanted to throw up! This time I stayed at a steady pace and chugged up, then hammered the descent as much as my now very knackered legs would allow! Angela adopted the same approach, so we both got round in respectable times and without picking up any injuries.

Weekend took us back to Cumbria, you will be surprised to hear! We finished mopping up our last little bits of recce that we wanted to do, knocking up another 30+ mile weekend. We have been up and done a recce every weekend when we haven’t raced, well we don’t want people think we are lazy!

So now we are tapering for the Lakeland 50, our legs won’t know what is going on. We have decided to raise sponsorship for doing the event, for the Brathay Trust. It is a local charity based near Ambleside that helps promote positivity in young under privileged people and helps lead them away from trouble and get them to be decent members of their communities. If you would like to sponsor us through our 50 miles of suffering, then this is the link.






Arenig Fawr fell race

July 1, 2014

This year the Arenig Fawr fell race has moved forward to August 3rd. Details, including map, in the race website which is completely free from adverts etc.

I am looking for marshals and will gratefully receive any offers from the club. Marshals and runners will be looked after as per usual.



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