Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Hardmoors 110 - When the wheel came off

Preamble -

It seems a little arrogant to expect everything to always go to plan. We can prepare, we can train, we can anticipate, but over a 100+ miles to expect all the pieces to perfectly fall into place is a little naive and I really should know better...

The Hardmoors 110 was an obvious race choice for me, with a reasonable locality and the lucrative UTMB points I seem to have been chasing forever now. After a long winter of training but no racing I certainly felt rested and even restless in some respects. I'd been plagued with 6 months’ worth of achilles tendonitis and sciatic issues, which fortunately I'd been able to get on top of with some last minute acupuncture sessions. The only downside is I'd maybe not quite nailed the training I was hoping for coming into this year’s big races. I was looking for some big mileage weeks and lots of vertical days in the hills. Luckily, despite my hampering injuries, I was able to get some quality sessions in on a local gem of a route called the Kinder Dozen. It's essentially 12 ascents from varying directions of the Kinder 'mastiff'. Over about 20 odd miles it has over 10,000ft of ascent on seriously rugged terrain meaning great opportunities for strength and endurance benefits. Despite this I would have felt better prepared combining this with some long outright 'running' days on faster terrain. Still I'd take what I'd got and approached the race with a positive mind-set ready to face the challenges ahead.

If I'm perfectly honest, I felt quite confident going into this race of achieving a good result. Looking at previous times I believed a podium or better could be a likely outcome if things went to plan. This may sound arrogant, but it's not meant to, rather it’s my personal ambition and drive to achieve for self-fulfilment. The caveat being this brings a self-imposed pressure that can be a burden if you allow it. Still I was determined to get out there and enjoy the route - not least because I hadn't reccied an inch of the course, so it would be a voyage of discovery throughout. One of the greatest joys I have in these long days out is seeing fantastic new places, indeed this is one of the reasons I started out in this sport some 4 years ago.

The Race -

The race is 110 miles in length with about 18,000ft of ascent gain. The route starts at Filey Brigg, running up the coast to Saltburn (53 miles), before heading inland over the magnificent North Yorks countryside taking in Roseberry Topping and the 3 Sisters before finishing in Helmsley. My plan was simple, go out at a manageable pace so I'd have plenty in the tank for the second half and through the night fell.

Hanging out with Dennis Potton (the peoples hero!)

After getting all of zero hours sleep, I got out of bed at just gone 6am keen to get kitted up and ready for the start. Emma and the kids soon followed and after porridge with chia seeds for brekky we headed out to Filey Brigg. Out on the Brigg (an impressive outcrop on the coastline) it was cool but with clear skies and a strong rising sun it promised to be fair weather through the day. This was a blessing considering the snow we'd just had in the days running up to the event. It was great to have the opportunity to bump into some Twitter friends who I hadn't met in person before - Kate, Joe, Dennis, Nigel and some others through the day. I've said it before but need to reiterate what a fantastic community our sport has.

The start with Ste Lord to my right

At a slightly late 8:20am and after Jon Steele's comedy briefing the race finally got underway. A guy called Paul Nelson flew off at the front with a young lad who was doing the relay. I was happy to settle in the next group running what felt an easy pace, with Ste Lord (won the Hardmoors 55 earlier this yr) and Jason Millward (a promising ultra runner being coached by Jayson Cavill). We chatted amiably about the day ahead and I remarked on the joys of racing on a coastline for the first time. The views over the cliffside down to the ocean were breathtaking. The sea rolled gently in to the beaches as the sun slowly warmed the frigid morning air. The coastal paths were basically rutted fields that were now dried and well trodden. Meaning it was a little awkward underfoot as every foot step meant your ankles were landing at a different angle. I can't say this bothered me at that stage though as my usual trail and fell runs are similarly non-uniform in their footing. However I was acutely aware that this may take its toll over the next 50 or so miles. About 10-15 minutes in I found myself naturally bridging the gap to Paul Nelson and the relay runner, but not quite catching, I was more than content to be patient in that respect. However this meant I'd moved ahead of Ste and Jason, which wasn't really my intention so early on. As the coastal path dropped into some woodland I found myself isolated for a short while. It was then I realised how problematic it may be to navigate for 110 miles without having reccied an inch of the course. The woodland trail meandered, with off shoots threatening to veer me off route at every corner and risk me getting lost at such an early juncture. I climbed the first steep steps of the day up onto a road in what I assumed to be Osgodby and hopefully the first aid station. Unfortunately it was nowhere to be seen, so after meandering up the road I stood and waited for those behind to catch up so I could ask directions. I didn’t let this rankle me as I was feeling pretty great and looking forward to the adventures ahead. What it did though was highlight to me the potential pitfalls of not learning a route prior to racing on it.

So it was onwards to Cayton Bay at about 8 miles. Here I ascended a steep grassy climb to a marshal who was checking people had not short-cutted along an easier and presumably shorter line. No sooner had I ‘summited’, the marshal directed me straight back down some steep steps that took me below the cliffsides. The land below was super slick in places which made me question my shoe choice of Salomon Sense Ultras, whereas I had some Salomon Soft Grounds on standby with my crew so I had options should it become an issue.

Happy running in the sunshine

I hit the Holbeck Hill aid station and saw that my wife, kids and parents were there waiting to cheer me on. This was a great lift and as I paused momentarily to grab a fresh soft bottle with Tailwind in, both Ste and Jason caught up and ran straight through. I followed in earnest and got back into the group. With Paul Nelson still running off unseen in the distance, it seemed a sound tactic to run along with these 2 in the chasing group. Although it’s fair to say the pace was still nice and easy, just ticking off the miles around 8min/miles I’d guess. My plan was falling nicely into place, I was nailing a fairly conservative start, which those that know me are well aware I’m pretty poor at that level of discipline.

Over the next few miles the scenery remained largely unchanged but I got the opportunity to have a nice chat with some of my fellow competitors. This is something I always try to get engage in, afterall running for around 20 hours in isolation can prove to be a pretty lonely experience. Whereas a bit of company can help the hours pass much quicker, and I’m a firm believer that sharing in the suffering can make it seem much easier and even a little trivial under the circumstances. As we went along our little group grew as some caught us from behind. There was maybe 6 or 7 of us now in this chasing group. Added to the group were Neil Ridsdale (I think the course record holder?), Kevin Perry and Jamie Lawler, amongst others. We happily pushed along together on the cliff tops moving into Scarborough. I had a great chat about ultras with a guy called Adam, although his full name eludes me, I hope he finished though!

Running through Scarborough itself was a fantastic experience, bringing back memories of my youth and my skateboarding days where I’d while away the days with friends leaping down stairs etc. The architecture around the old Spa and the comedy bling of the centre with the flashy amusements all served to add to the typical British seafront character. The seafront was also beneficial on the crew front with my family leap frogging along in the car to cheer as I passed. After a good 3 – 4 mile section of road it was nice to escape the town though and get back onto the cliff top paths. I found I was climbing easily and actually slowing to allow the group to catch up. I was clearly enjoying the company and in no particular rush to really start racing for some time.

After what seemed a long and fairly uneventful 22 miles, past Crookness and towards the aid at Ravenscar, I saw a familiar figure appear up ahead on the grassy trail. My wife, Emma had run out to meet me for a short distance to the next aid. As always this was a huge lift, and having the opportunity to share my ‘sport’ with my family is amazing. To run alongside Emma and chat about my experience so far was great to get myself into the zone and even a little pumped. We climbed up the road into Ravenscar and saw Paul (the leader) coming down from the aid, which in this instance was an out and back. This also got me fired up so I entered into the melee of the village hall with the intention of moving on quickly. I checked in with the marshals, grabbed another fresh Tailwind and immediately left the aid. I’m not one to waste time in aid stations, particularly so early in a race. Just an extra minute or two can add up over a race with 10 or more aids over its duration.

On leaving the aid I dropped back down the through village, giving me the opportunity to see how close some of the other runners were behind. I think this unintentionally upped my pace a bit being conscious of how close together the front runners still were. Neil Ridsdale latched onto the back of me and even went in front to push hard down a long descent. I dropped in behind him and enjoyed opening the legs after what felt like a long period of time running at a steady trot. As it levelled out we ran together for a while, but after a short climb I looked back and Neil had vanished. I don’t know whether he went for a comfort break or just dropped right off the pace, but it left me to press on by myself back in second. I then proceeded to get lost again, but a kindly walker directed me back onto the Cleveland Way route. I really enjoyed parts of this section, which constantly changed elevation on steep steps. I’d neglected to train specifically on steps, but found my hill training kept me in good stead. I seem to remember that Jason caught me along this section but we separated before the village of Robin Hoods Bay.

As I dropped into Robin Hoods Bay I bumped into Paul Burgum running the Hardmoors 160 (a sister race running at the same time). We said our hellos, I congratulated him on his gargantuan efforts and moved on. I soon bumped in Paul Nelson (still the leader) and we ran up the steep ascent through the town together. As we hit the aid I took a minute to refuel and Paul set off in front again.

Running through Robin Hoods Bay with Paul Nelson

I soon set off in pursuit and over the next couple of miles I was happy to shadow about 50 metres behind Paul along the rolling cliff top path. The effort felt manageable and I was confident that Paul was slowly running out of steam after his aggressive start. The Cleveland Way was packed with walkers along here so I found myself picking my around them and occasionally getting held up to pass on the narrow single track. Soon enough I caught Paul and overtook him to take the lead. I was pleased at about 30 odd miles in to be leading but felt it may be a bit early to push on so I kept the pace ‘easy breezy’. It was great to see the Abbey in Whitby and I really felt I was starting to eat into the route, particularly the seafront section – which in all honesty was wearing thin with me now. I ran across the car park to find the famous 199 steps down into the town, but under the advice of a member of the public I took the wrong route and descended a slope, which ran parallel to them. After about 200 metres downhill I realised my error and turned to begrudgingly climb back up the slope. I saw Paul some 100 metres up who’d followed me so I pointed him back up. I caught him back up and we got back onto the right route and ran down into the town together. Annoyingly at the bottom, I saw where the slope I’d originally descended joined the same road anyway. Still, I don’t like to think I’d have gained any advantage so pleased I’d rerouted the correct way. As we ran through the village Jason joined us and we formed a group of three leading the race. We ran past a couple of runners in the town, one of whom I only realised afterwards was John Kynaston. Shame as it would have been nice to say hi properly, he’s a great personality in the ultra-running community who I’ve been fortunate enough to meet at a couple of times at races.

Whitby Abbey

We ran through the Whalebone Arch in Whitby and along the long seafront towards Sandsend. It was on this stretch that Paul seemingly blew up. He said he was okay just suffering a bit so me and Jason pushed on.

And so it would be, me and Jason running together for some time after that. It was really nice to talk training, races and other topics. You can meet some lifelong friends during ultras after sharing such a personal adventure, and it's good to say Jason’s a top bloke who I expect to go well at UTMB this year. Incidentally Jason also ran the White Rose Ultra 100 last year the same as me but we didn't get to meet there. To his credit he’d done some great prep with a new coach and was running really strong.

After seeing Shelli Gordon on route to winning the 160 in a dominant fashion, we wished her well and ran on along an annoying soft sandy section. This reminded me why I’d never choose to run in the desert, such as the Marathon De Sables, not least because I think I’d be poor at multi-stage racing. We saw Ste Lord about 300 metres back as we crested the cliff tops having climbed back up.

Running into Sansend

The run through Sandsend (36 miles) was uneventful, although seeing my Dad cheering me on again was fantastic. As we hit up the aid station I grabbed a banana as I had the first signs of low energy. I’d been doing a Tailwind per hour but think I should maybe have upped the intake as I’d probably been sweating with the warm day.

Fuelling with a banana as I left Sandsend Aid

After a short detour round some eroded headland we descended into a steep rocky gulley towards Runswick Bay. I remembered from the race instructions that this was the place where runners may be held due to the tide so I was pleased to see the beach was fully exposed still allowing us to pass. Unfortunately the narrow gulley was backed up with people traffic meaning me and Jason had to climb down the rocks at the side and into the running water to access the beach. Once onto the beach it was pleasantly packed and for a few hundred metres a pleasure to run on with very low impact on the joints.

As we hit Runswick village, as usual we were faced with a steep incline. Jason took the opportunity to take a comfort break in a public loo so I told him I’d wait up by the aid station. Some steep switchbacks and I hit the aid where my family were waiting. I took a second to sit on the back of our Jeep and take on some fuel although I seemed to be struggling a little to eat. I waited all of about five minutes for Jason to arrive, when Jamie came running in behind looking pretty good. We took this as a kick up the butt as we might have must have eased off the pace some for him to catch us. We pushed on towards the last seafront aid, which galvanised my enthusiasm as after 41 miles I was tired of the cliff top paths and steps. I live and train in the hills and wanted to get back to my natural habitat.

Runswick Checkpoint and happy to see the Garratt family

Saltburn came round soon enough at 53 miles, and I happily ran all that section with Jason, confirming our team up would last a little longer. This aid proved to be a bit more frenetic, with me treating it as an opportunity to swap into Salomon Slab Ultra Soft Grounds ready for the expected muddy conditions. Due to this delay 3 other runners came into the aid while I got ready. Ste Lord, literally arrived and left immediately, yet due to the Runswick Bay arrangements, Jason was more than adamant he wanted to wait for me. The other two runners were Kevin and Jamie (from the earlier group). As we left we were told we could take a series of steps or a long steadier road. We elected for the steps, only to get to the top and see Kevin and Jamie appear from up the road way, which was clearly shorter! Oh well, we turned into a park and ran together for about half a mile. Someway into the park Kevin needed to stop and sort his shoes, so with Jamie waiting we dropped them and moved on back in joint second place.

The next section oddly ran through a housing estate before eventually going back offroad and into some horrendously muddy woodland. It was here that I started to admit to myself I was due a serious low patch. I didn’t even want to drink the Tailwind, which had worked so well during the White Rose where I’d secured first male. Food was out of the question as my stomach refused to take anything in. With my energy rapidly dipping I knew I was in trouble, yet even when I insisted Jason move on by himself he refused to break the ties saying he needed to move steady as well.

It might be pertinent to mention 4 weeks prior to this race I‘d done a 2 week exclusion diet, entirely removing carbs and glycogen from my diet. I was widely questioned regarding this decision so close to a race. However, I wrongly assumed that two weeks back on carbs ad sugars I’d be able to revert my body back to normal. If I’m honest with myself, I’d had a lot of stomach ache and strange movements. The reason for the diet was to highlight any health issues from carb intolerance, which of itself was successful as it relieved some problems I’ve had long term. So in that respect I see this as a huge step forward in the long game as regards my performance, clearly at the cost of my short term carb tolerance during this race by causing some gastric issues.
The view of the surrounding countryside from Roseberry Topping

We got onto some more open tracks that steadily climbed up through some felled woodland. It was along here that while Jason was clearly suffering he stopped at the side of the trail to eject the contents of his stomach. We repeated the scenario where I insisted on waiting while he got himself together. Yet all of a sudden he was done and we ran on. I could tell something was different, Jason was moving better and looked fresh. Sure enough very shortly he was just dropping me on the climbs as I only felt weaker with every step. As Jason disappeared into the horizon, I took a leaf out of his book, stepped to the side of the trail, where my stomach didn’t need much prompting to project its entire contents out into the dirt. Unfortuantely I didn’t quite get the same rejuvenation that Jason had experienced and only felt weaker. Every step was an effort, every turn or summit looked insurmountable and the remaining 50 something miles of this race seemed an impossible destination I’d never reach. Staring down the eyes of my first DNF filled me with dread. This is what 100 milers are about though, overcoming what might feel like preposterous odds. When finishing looks unattainable, it’s the simple act of reassessing our goals and just taking another step. It’s almost becoming a cliché in the ultra world, but the act of accepting our situation and taking that next step serves to bolster our resolve and conviction to reach the finish line. Life is about achieving goals, whatever they might be. My goal with this race may have been a little too position orientated, which on paper looked a likely outcome. The reality is what looks good on paper doesn’t always go to plan. This was one of those moments, and I had a similar epithany at the Lakeland 50 in 2014. Suddenly any time or positional goals went out the window and it becomes an act of survivial. The finish line was the only motivator now – and you could be sure unless they pulled me from the race or I died, I was going to get there... With the pressure of racing temporarily lifted I felt a little better straight away, certainly from a mental aspect the positivity gave me a real boost.

The magnificent Roseberry Topping

My good mood was aided by the sight of Roseberry Topping. A beautiful 'little' geographical feature that rises straight out of the ground in isolation. It was to be a short out and back section with a descent to its base, a quick run to the summit and back up to where I started, before then continuing on the Cleveland Way. Although a random detour, it made perfect sense in the aesthetic sense of ticking of this fantastic little peak. It was reminiscent of a mini-mountain that just begged to be climbed. I cruised down the hill excited to trot up to the summit to take in the views. Unfortunately my low energy meant I had to fast hike the switch back ascent rather than what I'd have preferred. Still it was a blessing I was still moving and even enjoying myself. On the ascent I initially saw Jason coming down and we passed pleasantries which was nice. Then Emma and Fin (a family friend) appeared. They finished the ascent with me, where I took a seat to try and put some calories in. I remarked that my race was seemingly over but I was determined to finish. My crew kept me positive and I moved on. As I left the summit in to retrace my steps I saw Kevin and Jamie reaching the top. I knew they wouldn't be too far behind now so I cracked on towards Kildale where I'd be picking up a pacer.

Ascending Roseberry and laughing at my total lack of energy

It was at the top of the climb back onto the Cleveland Way that Kevin and Jamie caught me. I was able to tag on the back and follow them for a mile or so, but the nausea refused to abate. As we descended off the tops down towards a forest they started to gap me but I just couldn't muster any real concern at that point. It was only when we started to climb again that I could see Jamie was dropping off the pace a little. Still as we ran deeper into the forest they both disappeared which made me a little concerned about navigation here as it could get tricky in places.

Just when I was starting to feel sorry for myself and I could shake off my ill mood - I saw Mark Richardson ahead. I couldn't have seen anything better at that moment to raise my spirits! Mark had come out to pace me, and although I expected to see him at Kildale, he's run a bit further out to meet me. I couldn't tell him soon enough what trouble I was in, but in true quality pacer fashion he allayed my fears and we cracked on. It really was like a second wind to be running with a friend and I was ready to get some decent miles under my belt.

Mark and me #selfies

We eventually ran down a tarmac road that took us into Kildale and eventually into the hall at 68 miles. I had a cup of tea and sat down while I sorted my kit out. Kevin and Jamie were both there too, and surprisingly Ste as well. I guess we all ride out our highs and lows at various points. As I was getting cold I put on my Salomon Slab light jacket here. I could see Mark was keen to get me moving again so I left my tea and we got back out on the road.

Leaving Kildale with Kevin and Jamie in pursuit

What followed was a steady climb on the road for about 2 or 3 miles. We were swapping places with Kevin and Jamie all the way up here, who were seemingly splitting up now having run a long way together. On the way up to the moors it was Jamie who eventually broke first and quickly disappeared behind us. But it was Kevin who came past looking strong as we hit the moorland. The steady climbing continued, which was all highly runnable, but I was really struggling in places to keep any sort of cadence up. I took the occasional sip of Tail Wind but even that was struggling to stay down.

Due to our diminished pace, I started to get really cold up here and I was keen to self clip at Blowarth crossing (75 miles) and start descending. Once we'd passed through Mark explained the next section to me as the steep rocky ascents over the Three Sisters, as they are lovingly known. I was excited for this part too, just to change up the muscle recruitment with some more fast hiking. Mark left me on here in the night, but the trail was fairly easy to follow along here. I felt painfully slow over the climbs - I need to do the Hardmoors 55 one day, as these 3 climbs along with Roseberry Topping are begging to be run. Still I was accepting to my situation and tried in vain to push the pace up the technical ascents.

I was on the third climb, the effort required after 80 odd miles without food was crushing. I was feeling supremely sorry for my plight. I was only getting colder with the bitter night air penetrating through to my bones. It was then I did something inextricable and against my better nature; I stopped. Not only that I stopped and first sat, then laid down on a rock. I couldn't then, and on reflection now, I don't quite know why I did it, other than to say it just felt the right thing to do. So there I was 80 miles in a race, laid down with my eyes closed wondering if I'd ever bother to get back up. At least I was on the route so someone would find me eventually....

Opening my eyes I was greeted with a view that literally took my breath away. I've seen the stars before, I've even seen the sky when there looks to be thousands of stars when light pollution is minimal. But what I saw here was something entirely different, what I could only describe as millions of stars, almost too many crammed into every millimetre of the panoramic night sky that lay before me. To say I felt fortunate to be alive and experiencing this moment would be like selling the moment your children are born as just an okay experience. I'm sure the pain and suffering to get to this place amplified my emotions, but that doesn't take away from the memory I'll hold from that moment. It added perspective to the race aspirations that had unfortunately slipped through my fingers. I sat up and scanned the horizon, I could see at least two head torches in pursuit. Happy with my five minutes of peace, I got up and decided I better get down to the small matter of tackling the last 30 miles.

I didn't hang around at Lord Stones, I was back in race mode, or rather damage limitation. So it was back to climbing up through the woods. I got to the Scarth Moor self clip (at a tv tower) but couldn't find the clip. Someone was rapidly gaining on me here so I was annoyed to be losing time. Eventually I found the clip in some deep grass a few metres from the clip point?? So clipped up and hooked it back on the fence where it was meant to be. I blasted on actually feeling a bit of energy, probably due to the adrenaline of being chased more than anything.

I hit the village of Osmotherley in pretty good shape and set off down the long hill to find the village hall. Unfortunately I couldn't locate it and was surprised there were no signs to signify its location. After running about a quarter of a mile all the way back up I checked the route description, only to realise the aid was another mile or so out of the village! To say I was destroyed yet again by this realisation is probably an understatement, but still got to keep things into perspective, I hadn't been caught yet.

As I got back on route and left the village I was starting to enjoy the cat and mouse of racing again. 100 milers really are just wars of attrition, trying to muster those last dregs of energy and stay efficient where you can. Getting lost yet again in a field of all places! I could see head torches catching along the trails. And as I dropped down through a wood on some nice smooth trail, Paul Nelson came barrelling past me. It actually took me by surprise, his recovery from a fast start was amazing, and I really didn't have an answer at that point. This put me down in 5th, but with two chasing lights about 200 metres back, I wasn't going to let anyone else past now. A steady climb up to Square Corner and the next aid, I took a minute to get some warm clothes on. The Salomon GTX Shell active jacket would be plenty to hold my core warm. I even donned some Salomon Bonatti WP pants to keep my legs cosy. The temperatures were dropping well into minus figures and I needed to look after myself. What followed was another long climb, which must have gone on for a couple of miles before a gentle descent that really got me running well again. I was keen to build a buffer to the two head torches behind and hold my placing.

The next drama came at 97 miles at High Paradise Farm where the third and last self clip was located. I ran the length of the farm, but yet again I couldn't find it! After about 10 minutes wasted I took the decision to leave and explain to the organisers I'd genuinely tried to find it. (It turned out some other runners had the same issue).

Charging 'hard' near the end

The final section was a matter of survival, moving 'fast' where I could and trying to sneak in the last bits of energy when my stomach allowed. The last big climb over Sutton Bank held it's own joy in the form of a sunrise. Always renewed by the sight of the sun, I used it to push the last few miles till I hit Dialstone Farm. Mark was again waiting for me here to bring me home. Despite the lift, he broke my spirits a little by informing me it was 9 miles to go and not the 8 I thought. You'd think a mile wouldn't matter after the distance I'd covered but every step was an effort now. That said, the final few miles rolled by much easier with Mark at my side. He chatted away amiably, kindly distracting me from the suffering.

More pacer Selfies as we turn the last bend in Helmsley

The highlight of this last section was an early morning view of Rievaulx Abbey surrounded by mist. And then a sign stating Helmsley and the finish were a meagre 2.25 miles away. Can't help but make reference points in running, and this exact distance is a lap of Morehall Reservoir where I live. Easy right? Well sort of, but it was enough to get me pumped to finish this thing.

My face on seeing the kids at the finish

A couple more little climbs and we were rolling down the grassy descent into Helmsley. I couldn't help but smile at reaching this place, I reflected on my journey and how much I'd 'enjoyed' it. As we ran up the gentle incline towards Helmsley Sports I saw Emma and the kids cheering us on. I stopped momentarily to thank Mark and fist pump to celebrate. It was into the finish to check in with a total time of 22:51 and 5th place.



It's always great to plan and aspire to certain goals, the danger is when we fall short. Even now a week later I'm grateful for the experience and the learning to be had, but I'm still slightly rankled by how things unfolded. I'd gone into the race hoping for at least a podium and to finish in sub 21 hours. Maybe if things went really well to break 20 hours. From my time and the relative distance and elevation at White Rose Ultra, I was certainly capable of such a result, but alas things just didn't pan out like that for me. Still I've got to take from the experience of dragging myself round a tough course having experienced such lows.

On a positive note, I've got my UTMB points now so I'm good to enter that next year all being well. I've also had some great strengthening and conditioning in the run up to my A race at Lakeland 100. Any other year, my time would have been podium or better, so in retrospect I suppose I didn't perform too badly, just a missed opportunity. Maybe it'll be one I have to revisit to tick the box.

Most of all I'm just grateful to have the health to be able to run these events, we're all fortunate to be able to move in the mountains and enjoy these outdoor spaces.



  1. Great achievement, Kirk, and a great blog post...don't know how you managed the run AND remember all that for the blog!

  2. Thanks Stuart, I think the running took slightly less endurance than writing the blog. Always nice to receive positive comments though cheers :0)

  3. Great write up Kirk. Was a pleasure to run with you, good luck in the Lakeland 100

    1. Cheers Jason, and likewise for your UTMB in August. I'll be in Chamonix running so I'll hopefully see you out there.