Team Mountain Fuels historic Billy Bland Challenge

Team Mountain Fuels historic Billy Bland Challenge race sees six records smashed

On Sunday 25th June 2017 I was lucky enough to be part of the Mountain Fuel team which made Fell Running history. The team’s were announced a few weeks ago. I recognised many of the names on the team lists as they included some of the top runners around. I had read their blogs, and already followed many of them on Strava and social media in order to try and replicate their training. I felt out of my depth and like I didn’t belong around those guys which made me slightly nervous. I was down to run the last leg in a predicted time of just under 1 hr 40 min and didn’t want to let them all down. 

It was the first time anyone had gone head-to-head and raced the Billy Bland Challenge and we managed to break the overall mixed team record along with another six records for the fastest legs. The challenge is based on the famous Bob Graham round and is a 66 mile, 42 peak challenge with a 24 hour time limit. It is considered one the biggest challenges in English Fell Running. It has a staggering 27,000 feet of ascent. It starts with Skiddaw, Blencathra, then over the Helvellyn range, the Langdale pikes, Scafell, Wasdale and Great Gable, starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick.


The teams were made up of runners who all represented Team Mountain Fuel which included men, women, vets and open runners. We went head to head with the aim of beating the mixed team record of 16hrs 49 minutes with hope of also running one of the fastest times and getting close to legendary fell runner Billy Bland’s time of 13hrs 53 minutes on the Bob Graham Round. To think it was going to take five pairs of runners to get close to this record is mind blowing and just goes to show how good he really was.

Both teams consisted of 10 runners, with two runners each running one of the five legs together. The team was made up of a collective mix of ultra, trail and fell runners, including local Keswick AC runners (some of whom hold individual leg records and were part of the Keswick AC record breaking time of 12hrs 25 minutes) along with other Team Mountain Fuel runners from around the country, including some Team GB Mountain Running representatives.

Despite being a mixed team which also included vets my team managed to record the second fastest time in the history of the Billy Bland Challenge in 12 hours and 51 minutes. The other team also smashed the record, running the third fastest time ever to be recorded in 13 hours and 1 minute. On top of this, a record was broken on every leg by one of the two teams. Continue reading

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Mountain Fuel Training and Scott RC test week end

It’s safe to say the training weekend was a massive success. We managed run a total of 42 miles with over 10,000 feet in just two days. We were training and testing trainers in the Lake District and we definitely put the Scott RC trainers through their paces. This was the first organised training weekend for Team Mountain Fuel and it was a great opportunity to spend a couple of days training with some of the top ultra runners around. It’s not every day you get the chance to talk about training and run with people at the top of the sport you love, who regularly represent their country in addition to testing out the new Scott RC trainers. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of and one I have learned a lot from. Continue reading

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The Epic Marsden to Edale Fell Race – The Trigger

The Trigger is a 24 mile fell race with 4,500 feet of ascent. It starts in Marsden, entrants have to navigate their way over Black Hill, Bleaklow and Kinder Scout, visiting seven check points on route and finally finishing in Edale.

This year was the sixth time the race had been run and I’m sure its one that everyone who has ever taken part in it will remember. The Trigger is renowned for being one of the toughest races in the Peak District but this year it was made even more difficult by the heavy snow fall in the week prior to the race and the heavy rain through the night before. I thought about what the conditions might be like and what kit I would need and more importantly what I was going to start the race in. The biggest challenge of the day and the one that played the biggest part in 25% of the starting field dropping out came from something I didn’t even take in to consideration and that was that the streams that had risen due to the snow melting and heavy rain fall would become fast flowing icy river crossings. Continue reading

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Project Ultra update #2

Training doesn’t stop just because it’s the Christmas holidays and with a few early mornings and juggling family commitments I was able to have one of the most ultra marathon specific training weeks to date. I don’t drink and very rarely go to the pub so waking up at 5.30am with a hang over in the holidays was never going to be a concern for me. Even our New Years Eve celebrations were far from rock and roll as we headed home just after at 10:30 pm and on New Years Day my wife got up early to run our local Park something I never thought would happen. Who know she may even make the Christmas Day one next year.


All of my training runs over the past few months in the Peak District have been done in Zone 1 (recovery), as I try to build a solid endurance base in preparation for the Ultra Marathons I have got planned. I decided to test my fitness level and some of my new kit out to see how my training was coming together and did a thirteen mile run in Zone 2 (threshold) on Tuesday morning. I was pretty pleased with the results and saw the biggest improvement on the hills were my heart rate was much more stable. This allowed me to push harder as the climb went on. At the start of my training my heart rate would shoot up on the littlest of climbs and forced me to slow down or walk. Continue reading

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It’s safe to say Project Ultra is under way

November saw my first block of training for the Lakeland 50 get off to a great start, with what can only be described as the perfect long run in the Peak District. It cemented my decision to return to ultra running, after spending the last couple of years running on the roads. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking to people with varying degrees of experience when it comes to completing ultra races about the changes I need to make to my current training if I’m going to be ready to take on the Lakeland 50 in July next year. It’s been really interesting to learn about other peoples training and to see what they think works for them.


The training plan I have in mind will start in the New Year and be based around my heart rate training zones that were set after having a Lactate Threshold Test done last year. I have four training zones but I will mainly be using two of them. Zone 1 (recovery) will be used for my long runs in the Peak District to try and replicate race conditions and become more efficient at running though the mountains. Zone 2 (threshold) which most of my mid week training will be focused around. This is the heart rate zone I would run a marathon in and can hold for around three hours. When running on the trails or in the mountains I know the pace will be completely different but by using my heart rate as a guide I will be able to monitor my effort levels. Most weeks I will typically run around 75 – 80 miles per week and plan to peak with around 90 miles per week. Continue reading

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