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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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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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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.

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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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North Lincolnshire Half Marathon – Week 10

I feel I run best off a high mileage training plan and my body seems to be able to cope well with a high amount of stress. I’m averaging eighty miles a week and going from strength to strength due to consistently running three threshold runs a week, which I think is key to me running well. My local running track was closed this week on Thursday evening for maintenance which is when I normally do my speed work. To fit in all my key session in I had to swop some of my training days around, which allowed me to get to the track on Tuesday evening. I repeated a session I had previously done in my build-up of, 1 x 5 min (2 min recovery) 12 x 400 (60 seconds recovery) but this time I progressed the training session on by doing, 1 x 1mi (2min recovery) 10 x 400 (45 seconds recovery) 1 x 800. Even with the longer reps at the start and finish and shorter recovery’s, I managed to run all my reps quicker which must mean I’m getting faster and fitter. At the minute I’m running a threshold run the day before I do my speed work, the reason I’m doing this is to make me slightly fatigued going in to my speed session. This means I don’t have to work as hard to get my heart rate up to the required zone and I can run my reps a little slower. I feel more relaxed and in control of the session instead of having to force my pace to get my heart rate up. The advantages of this are that it doesn’t take as much time to recover from and I can run a threshold run sooner. My rest day had to be moved to Thursday meaning I had to run back to back threshold runs on Friday and Saturday. In twenty four hours I ran twenty seven miles with nigh teen of them in my threshold heart rate zone around 6:05/mi pace. This left my legs feeling heavy and I wasn’t looking forward to Sunday’s long run. Luckily my wife knows how to do sport massage as she started to study to be a physiotherapist before becoming P.E teacher so I’m very lucky that I can get a sports massage done at home.

A massive thank you to Mountain Fuel for their continued support supplying my sports nutrition helping me to keep training hard. Continue reading

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On the Go Fuel – goodbye gels

What I love the most about our home made ‘Nutritious Gel‘ recipe is that you are not only utilising two products you’d use on a race or during training but you’re also recycling the sachets… Ok, this isn’t the only thing I love, on par is that you can kiss goodbye to the sugar fix, gut wrenching highs and lows of gels that also require, despite what is claimed considerable amounts of water… and then, when you’ve finished, that drained, I’ve got nothing left in my system feeling. Gels do work in moderation for some people but for most of the people we talk to they don’t, which is why our Mountain Fuelers kept asking us for an alternative. Continue reading

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