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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!

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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!

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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….

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!).

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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!!

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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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Long Eaton Ultra 2013

I did this 50-mile race in 2012 in 11 hours with quite a bit of reccying (see June 2012 post) and further reccying this year – so this post is mainly photos and stuff from my new ViewRanger tracking app on my i-phone.

ImageThe Start is at Breaston (far right, under black trace) and the route goes clockwise beginning with 15 miles on the canal tow-path. It’s so long that on the laminated safety card you get at the Start, there’s numbers for A&E in 3 different cities!!

It’s a very friendly race and you choose your own start time between 6 and 8am, with relay runners starting at 9am. CP1 (10.5 miles) is the dog-leg upto Chellaston and I got there in 1hr 34 for jelly babies and water. The canal is lovely at that time of morning and I saw 2 herons and other birds. Unfortunately I forgot you needed to cross to the north bank a-bridge-before leaving the canal as the final bridge is railway-only so I needed to back-track 300m! End of the flat….

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Despite the gentle start, there are 2916 ft of ascent on this run – the dreaded steps of Duffield are the vertical line at about 7 hours

Coming into Findern I was met by a man on a bike in a fluorescent jacket who was showing us how to get through a housing estate into a concealed jitty leading into the fields. From here to CP2 at Littleover is tough to navigate and to run as the grass is knee high and there are no paths.

Got to CP (18.5 miles) in just over 3 hours and texted home that I was ahead of schedule as I had a rendez-vous with my flask and family at CP3!

Leg 3 is the worse to navigate but there were written instructions available at each CP and I made sure I picked up a set in Littleover as there were some new directions about avoiding an electric fence in Dalbury. I’d reccy’d this section again in May and took a photo of the oil-seed rape – which by race day was head high!!

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Got to CP4 (28.5 miles) Bluebell Inn at Kirk Langley at 11:35 and was met by Dave and Zoe, with coffee but sadly lunch was still in the fridge at home. Dave was dispatched into the pub to buy crisps and peanuts and the man on the bike from Findern gave me a gel. (There was plenty of food at each CP but my milk and yeast intolerance excludes most of it.)

By now I was 30 mins ahead of my 10h 45 schedule and was beginning to think it would be good to come in under 10. There were 21 miles to go, and 4h 30 to do them in so it seemed possible. There were some heavy showers on the way to CP4 at Duffield and I got there at about 1:30. Those that wanted to left a box at the Start to be taken to this CP so I got mine, with food, water and the final stage map.

I met Dave at Morley so there are a lot of photos of the last 10 miles….

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Dave says this video approaching Dale Abbey shows determination – which is another way of saying I look knackered!

Here’s another one but, beware of horizon shift…

Our stop at CP4 Carpenter’s Arms in Dale Abbey was quite short as I needed to do the last leg (5.25 miles) in under an hour to get a time of less than 10 hours. It’s a nice last leg though, and the route finding isn’t too taxing.

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Got a bit of a second wind with Dave setting the pace and soon arrived at the Finish in the car park opposite the Navigation Inn. Was met with a great welcome and camping chair and presented with a mug and the plaque for 1st lady.

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You also get a soup voucher for the Navigation Inn so it was nice to chat to other runners and I’m sure beer is a great isotonic fluid replacement!

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Morecambe Bay Walk

Although this wasn’t a race, I thought I’d write it up as walking across quicksand for 9 miles still has a definite head-banging quality to it! We registered to do the walk as part of a sponsored event with the Queen’s Appointed Guide to the Sands, Mr Cedric Robinson MBE, to be sure of survival!

It’s not a circular walk so you need to arrange transport to get you back to your car at the end. The train, with the 1857 viaduct across the estuary, is a popular option (see photo), but we lined my dad up to give us a lift.

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We arrived at Arnside at noon to find it swamped with walkers, mainly queueing to use what toilet facilities the small village had to offer! We chose a nice bakery with coffee-to-go. I registered us and gave in our cheque to Galloway’s Society for the Blind and then, at 12:30, we were off.

lunch at Blackstone Point

There were over 200 of us and the pace was quite slow as we did the first couple of miles down the coast and through a wood. We had a quick lunch stop on the beach at Blackstone Point (photo above), then headed out across the sands proper. Here the pace quickened as we no longer had to follow the people immediately in front.

 

You could see the 2 rectangular blocks of the 1983 Heysham nuclear power station on the horizon shimmering in the (?!)heat haze (photo above). Although it was a sunny day with not much wind, I needed my waterproof top all the way, especially as I was wearing shorts. Some people took their shoes off for the sandy part of the walk and this was just about OK as sometimes it was hard sand and sometimes muddy. In some places we were wading in water well above the knees so that was another consideration!

We could see a large vehicle in the middle distance and the Galloway’s Guides seemed to be taking us towards it. This was where Cedric was meeting us to see us safely across the Kent Channel (outlet of the Rivers Kent and Gilpin). We’d had to check the Galloway’s facebook page on Friday to see the latest info for the crossing and were relieved to find that it had been safely marked! This was by laurel branches pushed into the sand that were visible for quite a distance and stayed put for about 3 weeks.

At about 3pm we got to the edge of the Kent Channel and the guides lined us up along one side so we could all cross together rather than in sequence. This was the highlight of the walk for the girls as it looked quite deep and fast!! The whistle blew and we were off. There were  screams as there were a few branches being swept down in the water – sharks!! –  and were where careful that everyone’s mobile was in the highest and driest pocket possible!Image

On the other side we met the huge tractor and grouped up for a photo (you can see us on the right)…

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After that we continued south for at least a mile before turning right and back towards the finish at Kents Bank Railway Station. So the Kent Channel on the GPS map is now actually further to the east and is where the GPS trace (red) intercepts the line of pink dots.

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We crossed a few other smaller channels before getting to the salt-marshy area next to Humphrey Head. This was grassy and pretty but quite smelly due to the sheep and we put our shoes back on here!!

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The last part of the walk had been quite long and tough after the excitement of crossing the Kent Channel and we were glad to get to the railway station and comfort of the car! We finished at 4:45 exactly as predicted, which is amazing with that many people. It had been a really good day and one of the strangest walks I’ve due to the fact that most of it was below sea level…

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