Back to the Fellsman

I have been back to Fellsman country: that April-time place of 61 miles of running, 13 hours of pain and pleasure, self-doubt and wonderment. I was on a bicycle this time. And rather than retracing every bump of the Fellsman horseshoe, I was simply slipping thorough the valleys and springing over the high road passes of the Yorkshire Dales….

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon 2012

Having given mountain marathons a wide berth for years, I finally ran my first – the Saunders Lakeland – over the weekend. My running partner, Marc, and I, ran for 11 hours, 18 minutes, covered at least 28 miles and ascended and descended some 2500 metres. In those 11-plus hours we crossed a mere two…

Bob Graham blues?

Bob Graham blues? Is there such a thing? If there is, I think I have developed a bout. I feel rather empty; my Bob Graham Round, successfully completed a fortnight ago, has left a mental and physical void yet to be filled by other distractions. I am running my first mountain marathon, the Saunders, in…

Bob Graham Round – SUCCESS!

Moot Hall, Keswick, 1am. We were off, darting through a ginnel, away from town, destined for the invisible summit of Skiddaw. No fanfare, no cheering crowds, no fuss. Only a handful of late-night revellers enjoying the dying embers of a Jubilee night-out. Low-key, yes, but as the well-worn proverb goes: from humble beginnings come great…

Bob Graham – 52 hours and counting

My Bob Graham Round attempt is almost upon me. In around 52 hours, at 1am on Sunday, I will set off from Moot Hall in Keswick, before proceeding up the moonlit (hopefully) slopes of Skiddaw. And thereafter? Some 60-plus miles, 42 summits, 27,000ft of ascent and descent, returning to Keswick by dusk that evening. The prospect is tremendously exciting….

Shedding demons courtesy of the Fellsman

Close to three weeks ago, I felt what I took to be my left Achilles tweak at an evening race at Beckenham. I thought little of it. Running the next night, the  Achilles became increasingly sore. It was one of those runs that, in hindsight, I simply shouldn’t have done. An inexplicable, wholly avoidable error of judgement. I took the…

Bob Graham: 16 days to go – if there was ever a time NOT to be injured…

‘I have never heard anyone scream so loud…’ That was the physio talking. ‘Your legs are very stiff,’ she said, stressing the very, as she played a piano of wretchedly painful tendons behind my knee. I bellowed again, caught my breath and, ironically, couldn’t help but laugh at the torture. I have been living in fear all week,…

Post-Fellsman: checking my legs still work

My legs still work. I’ve just checked: a 45-minute trot on muddy trails and around playing fields in the London drizzle. I even managed to wander up a few minor hills with relative ease. Everything – joyously – is intact. For all its hardness, the Fellsman did not destroy me. The pleasure from being uninjured and…

Surviving the Fellsman

The Fellsman has redefined what I understand about running. I have run ‘properly’ since I was a teenager, from the middle distance races I ran as a schoolboy and the road half-marathons and marathons of my 20s, to the gradual transition to fell, hill, mountain and trail, and now, ultras. Over the years, I’ve often…

The unfathomable miles of the Fellsman

I’ve been asked a few times recently whether I ran ‘the marathon’ or, prior to Sunday, whether I was running ‘the marathon’. ‘The marathon’ is, of course, the Virgin London Marathon. Because that’s the only marathon, isn’t it? When asked, I’ve said ‘no’. Not because I am now running scared of fast races on roads,…

Cioch Mhor hill race 2012

A 10-day visit to the Scottish Highlands happened to coincide with the date of one my favourite hill races, Cioch Mhor. At least that’s what I told my wife. Organised by Highland Hill Runners, the 14km race starts at Tulloch Castle above Dingwall, before ascending to the trig pillar atop Cnoc a’Bhreacaich and then Cioch Mhor, a 482-metre pap dwarfed…

Another Bob Graham recce: 11 hours, 13 summits, 35 miles

My body aches. It aches in a way that only two days of Bob Graham recce can induce. My quads ache. My thighs ache. Even my arms ache. But, to corrupt that hackneyed saying: 11 hours and 35 miles on the Lakeland fells will make me stronger. Apart from the inevitable ache, the consequences of…