Category Archives: Racing

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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.

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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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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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The Ladybower Trail Marathon

I would never recommend starting your marathon training plan by running a marathon, especially a trail marathon with over 2,500 feet of ascent and to be honest it’s not something I would normally do especially when I haven’t been training for a marathon. My normal training load is pretty high with a weekly volume of around eighty miles per week which is what I would normally do when training for a marathon. The difference is my weekly mileage has been made up of running twice a day most days and has been missing the key elements of a marathon training plan which are a mid week medium to long run of around ninety minutes and a weekly long run of two hours. I have only ran four training runs over sixteen miles this year and I was just about to start my marathon training plan for an Autumn marathon. I was confident I could handle the distance but there’s a big difference between running 26.2 miles and racing over this distance There’s not many races I see and instantly think I would like to do, especially when I haven’t been training for that distance. This race really caught my attention as I know the area well and it’s in a beautiful part of the Peak District. I messaged the race organiser asking for more details on the race route and really liked the look of the route. The route mainly followed the path around the Ladybower Reservoir but with the added challenge of a two mile climb from mile fourteen to take you away from the main paths and the chance to see some amazing views before a quick technical decent taking you back down to the tourist path. The lack of long runs in my current training was putting me off entering and there wasn’t much time to start upping my distance. I decided to keep tabs on how the race was progressing and who was entering. As the weeks passed the race was getting more and more interest and I noticed one name get added to the start list that I knew would make it an interesting race and would be a great way to test my fitness on the trails. Continue reading

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The Post Marathon Lull!

I find the months after a marathon, the hardest in the whole marathon process. After my first marathon in 2014 I rushed back into hard training after a few days as I wanted to get even fitter off the back of my marathon training. This approach backfired on me and caused me to tear the ligaments in my ankle, leaving me unable to put any weight on my foot. The pain lasted for around four weeks stopping me from doing any kind of cross training to keep some base fitness. I lost most of the fitness that I had worked so hard to gain, which resulted in my resting HR increasing gradually over the weeks, to the highest level it had been for many months. This also left me unable to race through the summer months, like I had wanted had and unable to enter the races I had already paid for. Continue reading

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Can you have too good of a marathon build up?

Can you have too good of a marathon build up? This is one question that I have been asking myself over the last few months, as things just didn’t go quite right for me at the Greater Manchester Marathon. It seems that the best laid plans don’t always give you the desired results. Back in November my Mamma paid for me to enter the Manchester Marathon as a Christmas present. I had spent the previous four months working on my speed endurance to improve my times over the shorter distances, in the hope that this in turn would help to decrease my marathon time. I managed to get my 10k time down to 33:28 from 34:29 which equated to a predicted marathon time of sub 2:35, providing I got my marathon build up right. I was in great shape and feeling really positive about starting my marathon training plan, my confidence was really high and it gave me real boost, knowing that I was in the shape to take a good chunk off of my PB which stood at 2.42.27.

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