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Vitamins: be more curious

These ramblings first appeared in Newstrack, the magazine of Derwent Valley Orienteers. I have expanded them here as vitamins seem to fall into that middle bit of the Venn diagram of my running, my obsession with polar exploration and work as a gastro nurse. But be warned – you may learn more about polar history than nutrition if you read on …

Mike Stroud, expedition doctor and 1992/3 Antarctic crossing partner to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, stated that runners are unlikely to be lacking in vitamins & minerals because their hearty intake of macronutrients should include the necessary micronutrients. However these nutritional basics are often overlooked and runners need optimum nutrition for recovery from injury and the rigours of training (and orienteers for concentration).

It was the Polish biochemist Caisimir Funk (1884-1967) who, in 1911, coined the term ‘vitamine’ or ‘vital amine’ (an amine is an organic compound containing a nitrogen atom) when he proposed that diseases such as beriberi, rickets, sprue (an early term for coeliac disease), scurvy and pellagra were caused by nutritional deficiencies instead of germs – the theory developed by Louis Pasteur in the 1870s. The final e was axed by British food scientist Jack Drummond in 1920 when it was suspected that vitamin A, for one, did not contain an amine.

Vitamin A, safe and riskier sources

Vitamin B, complex and complicated

Vitamin C, a survey of scurvy

Vitamin D, calcium homeostasis hormone

Vitamins E & K, clotting counterweights

The Vitamin Tube Map © Sally Chaffey 2015

The Vitamin Tube Map
© Sally Chaffey 2015


Looking back on this survey of the vitamins, it seems they really were a magical discovery a century ago, when deficiency diseases were first recognised as such. Our parents told us to eat our greens; we are more relaxed, perhaps because florid cases of rickets, scurvy and beriberi are now rare.

We owe our understanding of the micronutrients to those doctors and public health officials who postulated the existence of the vitamins by observing human deficit and used trial and error to find a dietary cure. Then the biochemists and chemists who spent years isolating the active substances and attempting to synthesise these substances de novo. Finally the sailors, pioneers, prisoners, volunteers and brave self-experimenters on five continents who found out the hard way.

The supplement industry is massive and continues to grow, but the conclusion I have drawn is that a fresh and varied diet is safer and better for you. It seems astounding that deficiency diseases have only come to be understood in the last hundred years. What paradigm shift will be next?

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The Lake District Mountain Trial was first run in 1952 on a fixed course from the Old Dungeon Ghyll in Langdale but in 1956 a new organising committee took over and the event became a point to point race in which competitors were given grid references for the next checkpoint as they progressed round the course. Actually the first orienteering race in the UK 10 years before O as we know it came over from Sweden!

2014 was the race’s 60th anniversary (years missed due to foot & mouth and wet weather). Dave and I have done it a few times over the last 15 years, but this is my first time while blogging! I entered the Medium course at 13.2 miles and 5200ft of climb but, with route choice via runnable ridges instead of contouring, it notched up 20.5 miles and 7000ft on the GPS!!
ViewRanger trace of the route - massive deviation from straight-line route on 1-2

ViewRanger trace of the route – massive deviation from straight-line route on 1-2

 We started at 1 min intervals from the Assembly field at Glenridding Cricket Club. We joked that, as early starters, we were bracken fodder but the 1st leg was to a col NE of St Sunday Crag, only one sensible route via path and I got there in 33 mins. Actually no bracken anywhere on course!

Next leg to a sheepfold half way down Helvellyn on the Thirlmere side, 5km as-the-crow-flies but 10km along the ridge  (down to Grisedale Tarn and up Dollywaggon etc.). A few people went direct but it looked steep, boulder-strewn and with a 2000ft descent – followed by re-ascent via Striding Edge >: I knew I’d be faster along the ridge and it took just over 90 mins to get to the control, approaching from the col between Lower Man and Whiteside.

photo (2)

Spikes in order: St Sunday Crag, Helvellyn, Raise (bad route choice!), last big climb back over Stybarrow Dodd, Brown Hills (minor spur to cross before dropping into Glencoynedale) then final climb to Control 5

Then my (few) critical faculties must have left me as I decided to use the same strategy for the next leg and went back upto the ridge north of Whiteside and almost up Stybarrow Dodd instead of contouring and was actually last on that leg!! Plus it was grim up in the clag and I needed to put my cag on.

The next leg along the NW of Greenside was lovely and an area I’d never been to before. Great running, nice and bouncy, control in a ghyll, got there 4hrs into the race and contoured across an expanse of tussock before picking up a path route to No 5 flanking around the head of Glencoyndale, again somewhere I’d never been. I was running in dob spikes and must have caught on a rock as I fell flat on the scree to the side of the path, winded myself and gashed my right hand. I lay whimpering for a minute or so then got up and walked on, later getting back into a cautious jog. At least the control was quite easy as I was well and truly knackered now!

There was a 4km path route to No 6 and what did I do but fall over again adding a 3rd cut to the same hand. Will confine spikes to orienteering only as I did get on well with them on the 1st half of the race! From the last control at Lanty’s Tarn there was a taped route back to the Finish in 6hr 3mins (winner 4hr 14) and a welcome chilli from Podium Catering. Got a nice 60th Anniversary Mountain Trial tumbler which has to be worth the 2 tumbles!! It was a great race, I need to be more flexible in my route planning strategies in future though. And wear my SpeedCrosses!

Dave was a creditable 3rd in M50 on the 18-mile Classic race, here he is finishing & enjoying his free post-race meal from Podium Catering.

photo (1)

photo (2)

And my wounds…

photo (3)

The battle scars of all the good times … with apologies to Soft Cell!

Results and RouteGadget available at: http://www.ldmta.org.uk/news.html

Next post – Round Rotherham 50 miles Oct 18th. Fixed route & folks to follow! Happy days for a plodder who doesn’t like decisions!!

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It was the first time either of us had done this Lakeland classic and it won’t be the last! At 9.5 miles and 3000ft of ascent, it’s enjoyable for the quick pace of the descent via Hart Crag and High and Low Pikes. The start and finish at Rydal Hall had a lovely atmosphere and good facilities. It’s entry on the day and there is a rigorous kit check!

ViewRanger trace of route. Trace went a bit AWOL just after Hart Crag as I followed the ridge!

ViewRanger trace of route. Trace went a bit AWOL just after Hart Crag as I followed the ridge!


1km after the Start, on the way up to Heron Pike. Photo purchased from Atheletesinaction.co.uk

1km after the Start, on the way up to Heron Pike. Photo purchased from Atheletesinaction.co.uk

It took 1hr 10 mins to get to the top of Fairfield, and from there the wind really caught you! The altitude profile below shows that the descent was pretty quick. There was an option of dropping to the left after Low Pike, and I think this would have been quicker. We both stuck to the ridge and had to negotiate the bad step!!

ViewRanger altitude profile. It really was a race of two halves!

ViewRanger altitude profile. It really was a race of two halves!

I’d not taken any drink with me and was feeling the first twinges of cramp but managed to finish before anything pinged! My brother John was the race organiser and he collared me with the mic at the Finish. When I mentioned cramp, support-veteran Sarah came over with a welcome cup of squash! ❤
Results can be found at: http://www.amblesideac.org.uk/Fairfield_2014_results.htm

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This race was my first ultra, back in 2011, and it has grown from a field of just 19 when it started in 2009. It’s always a friendly event and nice to run a course without navigation so I was keen to do it again! The first 22 miles is along the Forth-Clyde Canal to Falkirk where a very short climb at the iconic Falkirk Wheel takes you up to the Union Canal and –  33.5 miles later – Edinburgh.


ViewRanger trace of the route. You are running west to east all day – as they say at the Start, if the canal isn’t on your right, you’re lost!

We had a hotel booked in each city, and arrived at Glasgow’s Ruchill Park at 8:30 for a 9am start. People seemed to go off quite fast, as born out by my 1hr 55 split for Auchinstarry at 13.1 miles, the 1st checkpoint.

It was quite wet and muddy along the towpaths but my brother came up on the train with his bike to pace me and this was a real boost, as well as having Dave and veteran flask-opener and boiled-egg-peeler Sarah at all the checkpoints and lots of bridges!

Towpath monotony. Sometimes you can see fluorescent dots of other runners ahead of you but most often not!

Towpath monotony. Sometimes you can see fluorescent dots of other runners ahead of you but most often not!

Altitude profile - basically shows the Union Canal is a bit higher that the Forth-Clyde!

Altitude profile – basically shows the Union Canal is a bit higher than the Forth-Clyde!

Falkirk, the only hill. There used to be 11 lochs here before the wheel was built to lift boats between the 2 canals

Falkirk, the only hill. There used to be 11 lochs here before the wheel was built to lift boats between the 2 canals

Falkirk is the psychological half way point at 22 miles, partly because you can have a bag taken there by the organisers. But actually it’s 6 miles before half-way, which is an hour’s running! I got to Falkirk at 12:30 (exactly same time as 2011) and had a pie, coffee and cake. Ten minutes sit down – the longest in the race but well worth it.

Then a walk up the hill to start the 11.5 mile slog to Linlithgow. There are 2 long tunnels at the start of this section and the lovely Almond Aquaduct towards the end. I kept going, the sun came out, and John caught me up on the bike so I got to Linlithgow at 14:45, just 5 mins ahead of my 2011 time.

Team Chaffey-Brockbank at Linlithgow

Had a wrap, a Redbull and some coffee at the pretty Linlithgow checkpoint and off again. The sections are shorter from here and there’s a feeling that it’s in the bag, even though there’s still 22 miles to go!

2km after Linlithgow Dave  pointed out the Forth Bridges in the far distance

ViewRanger trace of the last 22 miles. A mile after Linlithgow, Dave pointed out the Forth Bridges in the far distance

John cycled ahead after Broxburn to catch his train home from Edinburgh, and Sarah and Dave intercepted me at several bridges between there and Ratho. After seeing me at Hermiston they went to check in at the hotel, then backtracked the route from the Finish at Edinburgh Quay, meeting me about a mile out.

Through the city

Through the city

I’d managed to carry on running all the way so my time was almost an hour faster than 2011 and I was delighted to finish 62nd in a time of 10 hours 10 mins, and even more delighted to stop running! Next time I do this, it’ll be in a barge!!

Link to Resolute Events homepage and Results.

Proudly sporting medal and T shirt!

Proudly sporting medal and T shirt!

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Wilmot Wander 2014

I’ve done this race 4 times before and always enjoy it as a kick-start to the year’s racing. Two years ago Dave joined me and helped me get a PB of 5hrs 45 – this year was nowhere near that due to rain, wind, mud and more mud!

full trace Jan 2016

The Scout hut is under the “Derby” label. The route goes anticlockwise – the black line is a reckie, the red line is the whole beast!


The race starts at the 27th Derby Scout HQ in Chaddesden, with walkers setting off from 7am and runners from 8 (so there’s generally someone to follow). The route goes NE through Locko Park then down to the 1st checkpoint at Stanley for squash and Jelly Babies, then you follow the Mid-Shires Way to Morley & Drum Hill. I was now wet enough to put my cag on! Then the 1st walk up Little Eaton Hill and down the steps to Checkpoint 2 The Bridge Inn.

altitude profile labels

ViewRanger says “Total climb: 615 metres”

I was very slow on this 3rd section due to mud – it was like running through glue for 90 mins! There was a diversion due to a bridge being destroyed near Mackworth. This avoided going up the hill to Lower Vicarwood, but made it about half a km longer. Past Mackworth water tower and onto Checkpoint 3 Radbourne for a welcome cup of coffee. Felt sorry for the marshals under their gazebo but they all did a great job.

The next section is very pretty, then you end up in Mickleover where there’s a slight hill which everyone dreads as it coincides with going through the wall! Checkpoint 4 is at the Toyota works at Burnaston (more coffee!) and 10 mins later you take your life in your hands to cross the A38. Soon into Findern where I met Dave for moral support along the much-feared 5-mile canal section. He bought me a glucose drink which I was very glad of as I was starting to cramp and I don’t carry drink on this race as the checkpoints have plenty. He also put my map onto page 5 which was no mean feat as it was looking like papier mache!

The last checkpoint is where you leave the canal at Swarkestone, from which it’s about an hour to the Finish but a lot of willpower is needed as the cycle paths are quite monotonous. Across the bridge over the A52 and back to the Scout Hut in 6hrs 38 to a good spread of soup, tea and cake. Job done!!

Link to the beginnings of the race

Probably about half a kilo of mud on each leg?!

Probably about half a kilo of mud on each leg?!

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I’m told that many of our orienteering club members did this race back in the day, but it was the 1st time for Dave and I, and 2nd time for Graham. Race day started inauspiciously when we woke up at the time we were meant to leave the house, but we made it to Registration at Milford Cricket Club 30 mins or so before the Start.

It’s a 16.5 mile race with free navigation between 4 trig points in a figure of 8 loop with a water station at the intersection where you go over a new railway bridge. We paid £1 for the A3 map but had done an armchair recce using the orienteering maps from Sherbrook, Fairoak & Brindley and a tiny bit of Brereton.

ViewRanger tace of the route I took. Start & Finish at top left, Castle Ring trig at bottom right

ViewRanger tace of the route I took. Start & Finish at top left, Castle Ring trig at bottom right

We started at 11:10 and it was cold and clear but we could see a murky front creeping in. I followed the majority for the 1st 500m but then made sure I approached the trig at Rifle Ranges via Cherrytree Slade, just off the main SherbrookValley. From here it was past the visitor centre to Moors Gorse where the railway bridge was with a timeout of up to 2 mins as there was a road crossing & drinks point.

Now for the big climb up to Castle Ring fort (235m) where I crossed paths with Dave exiting. Then it was north to the trig at Brereton and back down to Moors Gorse (92 mins for Dave, 106 for me). A long slog up Marquis Drive followed by some semi-tricky navigation to the trig at Glacial Boulder, just less than 3km from the Finish where Dave and Graham were waiting for me 25 and 15 mins after their own finishes! They must have been seriously cold. I took 2h 45 and died a bit in the 2nd half probably due to to my sugar-free diet (3 month yeast detox). Mind you I transgressed and had a macaroon at Moors Gorse and wolfed the maltloaf at download.

Altitude profile - middle spike is Castle Ring with the Moors Grose dips at approx 1 & 2 hours

Altitude profile – middle spike is Castle Ring with the Moors Grose dips at approx 1 & 2 hours

It was a good atmosphere with about 170 runners, always someone to follow, albeit at a distance. The route choice is a bonus but often I followed the person ahead, thumbing the map for reassurance. It was great to piece together the many bits of Cannock and I’d recommend the race to orienteers!

Result at http://www.merciafellrunners.org.uk/results/214

Next post: Wilmot Wander 26/1/14

Team Chaffey Photo: Graham Johnson

Team Chaffey
Photo: Graham Johnson

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Ladybower 50

Feed the Warrior’s Ladybower 50 race scores high on headbanging quality! Three races are on offer, consisting of laps of Ladybower (5 miles) and Ladybower plus Derwent & Howden Reservoirs (15 miles). So everyone starts with the 5 mile lap and then you can either do 1, 2 or 3 laps of the whole thing to add up to 20, 35 or 50 miles – ingenious!

There’s a gazebo at Registration where you can leave food and drink as you pass this point 3 times on the 50 mile race. But parking is en route very close by so I just used my car. I could run with a small bumbag but had coffee, wraps & cake at 20 & 35 miles!


Pipeline bridge across the top of Ladybower. Photo courtesy of Jemma Ann

We started at 8am for the 50 miler, the 35 & 20 milers at 15 min intervals behind us. The route headed down to the Ashopton Viaduct on a nice undulating forest track and back up the E side of the reservoir on a minor road. Where the track forks, a marshal sends you back to the Start (blue arrow) and you repeat that lap but the 2nd time continue round the whole reservoir. This was quite nerve-wracking as you run 10 miles but feel you haven’t really started on the race proper!



The 1st 5 miles took me 50 mins carrying no water and I did a quick bumbag swap at the car for my bumbag that holds a 500ml bottle right way up (but chafes!!). So round the bottom of the lake again but this time taking the right fork to go round Derwent Reservoir and Howden with its fearsome arms. It was great to finally start on this leg as I felt I was getting proper miles under my belt at last, even tho I’d already done 10 miles. It was also the prettier part of the route, especially the upper part by Slippery Stones – I promised myself a family picnic there next year!

The big bay on the top left looked enormous as I swang into it but it was cleared in 15 mins then it was mainly downhill to sustenance in the car….


That 15 mile lap took just under 2 1/2 hours, so I was thinking 3 hours for the next one and 3 1/2 for the final one, maybe stopping to take some photos. In fact I did both laps in 3 hours, bringing my finish time to 9hrs 18. Got a bit of a boost on the 3rd lap from the thought that I wouldn’t have to run it again as it was beginning to feel like a very pretty version of purgatory!!!

There was a great cheer at the Finish, then – bliss – deckchairs, Red Bull and chips.


I asked on the race’s Facebook page if anyone knew the amount of climb and Stephanie had run round with a GPS and got 4050 ft! This seems like a lot, so I’m hankering to do a 50 mile canal race (probably Glasgow-Edinburgh again in the spring) to see if a flat course gives a faster time. I must say it was a real pleasure doing a 50 miler without stiles, electric fences, stampeding cattle or navigation issues!! Add the benefits of great scenery, support & organisation … still not sure if I’ll do it again next year tho!

Result at: http://www.enduranceevents.co.uk/ladybower-50/

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This is a friendly race in our home town so we do it most years. It’s 18 miles and 2116ft up, first, The Chevin and then Alport Heights, coming back thru Shining Cliff with a sting-in-the calves climb!



This year it took me 2hr 59 but I’ve done it 12 mins faster a couple of times. There are 4 water stations with jelly babies and food for sale at the rugby Club afterwards. I’m not going to write anything more, just didn’t want to lose the map and altitude profile! (The course is run clockwise)


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The ‘DDD’ is a 26.5 mile (3800ft of ascent) race for runners and walkers starting and finishing in Hartington in the White Peak. It’s organised – very well – by Matlock Rotary Club and has been going for many years although this is the first time Dave and I have done it.


Route shown in red. Black line is part of the White Peak Marathon route. The DDD goes anticlockwise from Hartington – which is about half way up the eastern side of the red

We started at 10am, an hour after the walkers. There were about 100 runners and the climb out of town and onto the Tissington Trail wasn’t too bad. Got to the 1st checkpoint at Sparklow (5.1 miles) in 50 mins for squash and biscuits. There was a bit of a rain storm on the way to CP2 at Longnor (8.7 miles, 90 mins).

The route is signed in places but not everywhere so you do need a map – especially on the 2nd half where there aren’t so many walkers. After Longnor there was a nice flat bit along the upper Manifold, then into Staffordshire for CP3 at Revidge (12.6 miles, 2h 10 mins).

Revidge is the spike just after 2 hrs

Revidge is the spike just after 2 hrs

There was a welcome descent into Warslow before the steepest climb of the day up Ecton Hill. CP4 was at Wetton and CP5, the southern tip of the route, at Castern Hall (19.5 miles). From here there was a greasy descent down a limestone track into Milldale and CP6 in Dovedale (22.5 miles). Here I learnt that Dave was 20 mins ahead of me – it helps having an unusual surname!

I trotted up the dale, ticking of the meanders on my map and wondering if I could finish in under 5 hours. There was a climb up to Reynards Lane at the end, but a good finish running down the lane into Hartington where Dave was cheering me home. Yes, I made 4h 59 mins 🙂 The first man did 3hr 25 and the first woman 4hr 22!

At the village hall we had coffee, baked potato with chilli and tinned peaches – amazingly refreshing! I’d recommend this as a v friendly and well organised race and great value at £13. There are plenty of checkpoints which meant that I didn’t need to carry water. Dave finished in 4hrs 45 and we were both pleased with our times.

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Dig Deep Races offer 4 different races out into the Peak, all starting from Whirlow Hall Farm on the western edge of Sheffield. I upgraded from the 30 mile ‘Intro Ultra’ to the 60 miler (different course) 3 weeks before the race, not knowing we’d get a heatwave!


1st half of the UTPD – the 2nd half is Win Hill, Kinder and Hollins Cross, then back to the Start via Bradwell and Bamford

I quit at 31 miles but thought I’d write it up anyway as it’s a good challenge!

I drove up a few days before the race with Dave’s family to suss out where the farm was, as the race briefing was at 7:30 on the Sat morning, with the Start at 8. I had a 14 hour schedule – to get back just as it’s going dark!

They supply a 1:40000 map of the route which you can collect from Outside in Hathersage, and I’d also done 1:25000 sheets from Anquet. I registered and dropped off my 3 food parcels for 15 & 25 miles (Moscar – Parcel 1), Yorkshire Bridge (Parcel 2) and Bradwell Sports Club (Parcel 3 – unclaimed – they are welcome to my boiled egg, crisps and Red Bull).

At the briefing they told us they had 700 litres of water out on the course as it was one of the hottest days of the year! We set off at 8am at quite a pace. The route was marked to Checkpoint 1 at Fiddler’s Elbow (11km) where there was water. A short path section was marked after this but not to the road so I lost 5 mins and nearly went up Higger Tor!

After that was a loop round Redmires and Rivelin Reservoirs and back west to Checkpoint 5 (and 8) at Moscar. I got there at 11:30, about 15 mins behind schedule and very sweaty! Dave met me there for the lasso bit around Lost Lad, which was 15km with quite a bit of climb – predicted and actual time 2h 30.

This was a lovely loop with checkpoints on Lost Lad and Ladybower, then a big climb up back to Derwent Edge (see dip at 5hrs on altitude graph!).



At Back Tor

Got back to feed box at Moscar at 1:45 and considered quitting then as I felt quite sick in the heat but I sat in a marshall’s chair and took on some food and decided to carry on until Yorkshire Bridge and then decide. Anyone planning to do this race should schedule in proper rest time as well as running time – I was there for 15 mins.

I set out with Dave over Stanage – another tip is to take a Buff to dunk in streams from time to time – I had to run with Dave’s T shirt under my headband!!


Dave turned round to get the car and I continued to Yorkshire Bridge on the road below Bamford Moor. I was still running but the sight of Win Hill looming above me and the fact that I was 2hrs behind schedule (= midnight finish) made me decide to stop here.

ImageGrabbed a coffee from the flask and drove back to retrieve my car and report in as ‘Retired’ in Whirlow, where there was a welcome bowl of stew and a nice bench. Finishers in the 30 mile race were being clapped in in the next field but we were too gutted to go and watch. A marshall told me that the winning time for this was 1hr 30 slower than last year due to the heat.

I would recommend these races for the friendly atmosphere, great courses and helpful marshalls. The 60 miler is quite bitty with loops that make it more difficult to visualise progress than in a circular or A to B race. Reccying would definitely be helpful, as would a realistic schedule allowing rest time. As Dave says, unfinished business…

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