Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Open 5 Adventure Race - North Wales - Dec 2015

6am alarm on a Sunday after entertaining dinner party guests until late. Urgh.
-2C on the car thermometer. Brrrr.Scraping ice from the outside and inside of the windscreen. Meh.
Even Bernard doesn't want to start this morning, coughing once before his diesel engine grumbles into life. Don't blame you mate.
Who decided this was a good idea? I did? Oh... OK then.

After doing two races in the Open 5 series last year I was keen to do more. This weekends event was in North Wales, not too far from Mold near Chester. This passed the crucial test of time spent travelling should be less than the time spent racing. However for these events I'd make an exception because they are invariably well run and great fun.

HQ was at an outdoor events centre where I was pleased to see my ex colleague, ace orienteer and general top chap Dave W manning the desk. Having called in to see him only a month back we didn't have much to catch up on this time. I filled in my form, paid my entry fee and went to get the bike ready. The start was a short 2 mile cycle away but with solo runners supposed to start before 0930 I needed to get a shuffle on to get there at a reasonable time.
Open 5 Top Tip: Write your start time on one corner of the map. It makes working out your remaining time easier.
Open 5 Top Tip: If you pack your map board, remember to pack some elastic bands or bulldog clips to hold your map on. You idiot.
I hadn't had much time to study the map before setting off so, after hastily scribbling the scores for each control on the map, had a brief think about route. I could see a nice loop taking in both sides of Moel Famau but wanted to pick the easiest way up. Track or unknown surface? Track it is!


I started off with a decent value few roadside controls before starting the climb up a muddy bridleway and onto the track up the side of the hill. The riding was varied, sometimes rocky, sometimes very steep, but predominantly muddy! There were several times where I was riding along at a jaunty angle because my rear wheel had stepped out of line in the gloopy goo. The descent from Moel Dywyll to Fron-Haul was fast, interesting and brilliant with some really cool banked corners leaving me with a big grin.

Shaka = ride loose bro   8-)

I should have gone back up the same way as the steep grassy hill (with accompanying headwind) that I ended up pushing up possibly wasn't the best route choice. Winding my way through the network of tracks I enchained the last few controls (once I figured out which stream crossing and which tree) and back to the finish in a shade over 3 hours - so far so good. Both of my derailleurs were covered in clag and not working very well and my feet were freeeeeeeeezing!

Chop chop!
Swap shoes.
Eat salted caramel chocolate shortbread (nice).
Point out to other competitor that he's still got his helmet on and he's going about to start running.
Realise I'm still wearing my helmet and about to start running.
Take off helmet.Swap jacket for one that isn't saturated with drizzle and sweat.
Exit transition.
Er... where am I going? Oooh I know, look at map!


My legs were feeling it from the bike most of the way up the first hill. I found a bagel in my bag (cheese and marmite!) and also found my stride. The gradient was such that I could walk faster than I could run. There was a tempting control halfway down the hill which meant losing height then having to gain it back. It didn't take that long but I did overcook it on the climb back up to the path so had to pace myself for a bit. Onwards to the misty summit of Moel Famau and the control inside the foggy Jubilee Tower.

Jubilee Tower - damp, cold, windy

Even the trig points needed wrapping up to keep warm

This is where I cocked up, possibly a bit down on sugar and a bit out of puff from the ascent. Not paying enough attention I took off down the wrong path from the summit. It was only when the countours stopped fitting the map. By that point I'd descended about 50m from the summit so had to countour round to pick up the right path. Stupid mistake and carrying on for the control compounded the error when I should have just abandoned it and headed back. This cost me later as we shall see.

The ridge line appears through the clouds

I descended the ridge, making up for my earlier mistake by picking a spot on line to the next control, dropping in almost right on top of it. I realised at this point that it was going to be tight to get back in time so I put the hammer down. This is difficult to do when you've got no hammer left in your legs but I tried my best. There were two more 20 point controls on the way back in that I beeped but by this time the bounce had gone from my bungee.

The thousand yard stare as I finish the run, totally depleted. I must be able to see my chocolate.

I knew I was late but I thought I'd squeaked in under 10 minutes. Pulled on my super warm Buffalo top and my cold wet shoes :-( and gently pedalled the two miles back to the event centre, muddy shoes swinging from my rucksack strap.


I downloaded by results from my dibber and was both pleased and annoyed. Pleased that I'd scored my best score so far on an Open 5 (410 points) but annoyed that I'd lost 35 points for being late. 445 points would have been a really good score.

I consoled myself with an excellent veggie chilli jacket potato and lots of stuff from the salad bar, the catering staff at the outdoor centre having done a cracking job of feeding everyone up. The usual faces were on the podium, nice to see Rosemary and Lucy winning the female pairs again.

And as usual I didn't win anything in the raffle!

I checked the scores the next day and was super chuffed to find I was in 12th of 31 place in the Male Solo category and 26/73 overall. I managed to hit my target of a top 15 finish in this series in the solos in the first race. What's slightly galling is that had I not bothered with the control I got mildly lost on then I would have had a top 10 finish, that would have been some achievement! I guess all the mountain biking I've done this year has helped.

Apart from that nav mistake and coming back slightly late I was hapy with my performance. I thought I made good route choices for the most part and my fitness is definitely better. Cut out the silly nav mistakes and more consistent fuelling next time!

Strava MTB

Strava Run

Kudos to the offical event photographer who got some great shots of the day. Check them out on the Open Adventure Facebook page.

Also kudos to Open Adventure for organising another great event.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Rabbit rabbit rabbit pie

Coz you won't stop talkin, 
Why don't you give it a rest? 
You got more rabbit than Sainsbury's, 
It's time you got it off your chest.
Chaz N' Dave

Picture the scene. Louise buys rabbit from butchers. Louise wants rabbit for tea. Louise says she wants carrots with it. No other specifications are given. I appear to be cooking. Hmm thinks I, casserole? Oooh, a casserole with a crust! A whatsit... er... pie! But we can't have a whole large pie to ourselves. Cue impromptu dinner party  :-D

I've made this a couple of times now and it is FIT. Seriously tasty. The rabbit has a lovely deep red colour and a nice gamey flavour with an extra savoury punch up the bracket from the mushroom stock and ketchup. Pastry courtesy of Good Housekeeping, filling courtesy of me. Ingredient quantities are approximate but work for an 8 inch / 20cm deep loose bottom cake tin. Better to make too much to fit in the crust than have a small pie!

Rabbit! I used 8 rabbit legs.
Smoked bacon, chop into lardons i.e. 1.5cm cubes
Chicken if you need to bulk it out
A big leek
A couple of big carrots
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms
Mushroom stock cube (the Kallo ones are nice)
Mushroom ketchup 1 tbsp ish (Geo Watkins), I guess a small amount of Worcester sauce would do
Bay leaves, salt pepper
Red wine, large glass or two

Get a casserole pot on the hob, and melt some butter in it. Cut the rabbit off the bone and into chunks, you choose how big. Save the bones. Coat then in flour and brown in the pan in batches, pop them in a bowl on one side when cooked.

More butter, fry leek, carrots and bacon for a couple of minutes. Add red wine (don't be shy) and cook off for a few minutes. Chuck everything else in, bring to boil, lid on, put in oven 150C for 1 hour.

Hot water crust pastry is the bees for this kind of pie. It gives a nice big pie that will stand up on it's own on the chopping board and gets stronger as it cools. Decorations are mandatory.

Make this only when the casserole is ready to come out of the oven as you can't work it as easily when it cools. Thankfully it tends to be very forgiving and lets you handle it lots or re-roll it when you mess up. Again quantity is good for the 8 inch tin.

450g plain flour
90g vegetable fat e.g. Trex
225ml water
Large pinch of salt
Polenta (powdered form)
1 egg, beaten

Grease the cake tin with the vegetable fat. Heat water and fat in a pan until fat melts and water boils. Pour into flour and salt mixture in bowl. Stir in quickly and then knead for a few minutes. Save 1/3rd of it for the lid, roll out the other 2/3rds into a rough circle and then drape and shape it into the deep cake tin. Pad out the corners and patch the inevitable holes.

That's it. Dead easy.

Sprinkle a few tbsp of polenta in the bottom to absorb the liquid (no soggy bottoms) and spoon the casserole in with a slotted spoon, leaving behind the gravy for later. Add the lid, crimp it around the edge, poke a few holes in the top and do your best to make a pastry rabbit as decoration. Apply a beaten egg wash on the top to give it a nice colour, milk just don't cut it.

No need to bake blind, it comes out fine. 1h 15m @ 160C fan. Remove the sides 10 minutes from the end, egg wash the sides, and back in the oven.

This one's had an egg wash, compare to the one earlier in the post that just had a milk wash...

The pie might benefit from being stood for maybe 15 minutes before serving as the pastry seems to tighten up a bit. Thicken up the gravy with a bit of cornflour and serve hot wi' t' pie.

Serve with some nice greens, like sprouts! Good enough for discerning audiences, both of the kids hoovered it up and went for seconds.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

HUMS North Wales Trip 2015


One of the traditional HUMS club trips is North Wales sometime in November. We've been lucky with the weather for the last few years and managed to get out and have some top days even if they have been marred by hangovers and the odd epic.

This year we booked into the BRMC hut near Tremadog which is a cracking little hut - comfy dorms, cosy living room, good kitchen area and right underneath the cliffs of Tremadog (for those of a climbing bent) and opposite the legendary Eric's CafĂ© (for those of a Full English breakfast bent).

The forecast wasn't great, evidenced by the fact the MWIS printout in my jacket pocket got soaked on the short walk across the uni campus to collect the van. After eating lots of fish and chips, we headed off, encountering short sharp hailstorms most of the way down the A55, eventually the weather clearing the nearer we got to Porthmadog. Top tunes on the way down provided by DJ Ezioo

The usual Friday night party kicked off until the wee hours with much cheese, alcohol, chatter and logs on the fire. I drifted off to sleep with the sound of French Paul shouting "yeah!" repeatedly.


I was first up, seemingly the only person to set an alarm, shortly joined by Adam and Ben. The traditional wake up call of banging the largest pan you can find with the largest ladle you can find over the head of the sleepiest, most hungover student you can find was duly enacted and people emerged from their cocoons, not as beautiful butterflies but bleary eyed students in search of coffee.

Our group headed out for a walk up Cnicht in the wind and rain that started as soon as we got out of the bus. It's a steady plod up the ridgeline from Croesor but with great views out over the bay and down into Cwm Croesor. It wasn't long before we were in the cloud, pretty wet and being blown around.

We descended the summit and contoured around towards Moelwyn Mawr but waterfalls were blowing uphill and people (self included) were getting a bit cold and damp so we elected to head back down to the car. 7 miles and one mountain in all.

We got back to the hut to find that Margaret and Katie had bought many logs and had the fire on. We dried off and then Paul and I drove to the beach for a blow through.

We stuck around in the van listening to Pink Floyd and hoping for a cool sunset but it was not to be. Back to hut, cook curry and enjoy the rest of the cheeseboard, mince pies and Adam's birthday cake.


Tired heads got a lie in this morning before the wake up gongs were sounded and we decided to have a later start.

The weather forecast had improved in terms of rain but got worse in terms of wind so we elected to do a walk from the hut, heading up towards Moel-ddu ("Black Hill"). The paths in this area are not well trodden and some were non-existent despite their marking on the 1:25k OS map. We did some bushwhacking through brambles and bracken for half an hour to get to a point on the road we could have reached in 10 minutes had we stuck to the tarmac!

Progress was better after that, just battling the headwind and omnipresent bog to the just below the summit where we stopped in the lee of a boulder for a snack and a break from the wind. The summit was so windy we had to crawl to it, see the below video!

We headed on back down, picking up better paths than we did on the way up and arraived back to the hut just as the light was fading. We tidied up the hut, unstuck the minibus that Adam had parked in a ditch, and then drove over to Llanberis to collect Eizoo so he could have a front seat on the way home after he was travel sick all over the inside of Nick's car - oops. Classic tunes in the bus on the way back including an American Pie sing-a-long, Bruce Springsteen, Deep Purple.

Eventually made it back home at around 10:30pm via the kebab shop for tea. Collapsed into bed after another cracking club trip.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Blind Dog

This is on heavy rotation at the moment, great for working to. Swedish stoner rock from 2000, sadly the band no longer together but what a great album.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

PIC16F1xxx MSSP Interface...

Pro tip: if your I2C interface isn't working, don't forget to check that the ANSEL register for the port isn't set to "analog input". That'll be two days of frustration otherwise.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Friday Night Bikepacking Microadventure

My rucksack has oft been me pillow
The heather has oft been me bed
And sooner than part from the mountains
I think I would rather be dead

Unlike Ewan, I've been faking it for years. I'm not a proper outdoorsman because I've never bivvied out. Never slept under the stars, just in a tent. Bit of a fraud really.

So to celebrate a good year of cycling, having clocked up nearly 2000 miles this year, I decided to break my bivvying duck, load up the mountain bike, head out after work on Friday night and do some some overnight bikepacking. There was a favourable forecast for the evening and, with autumn in full swing, night time temperatures were only going to fall. It was go tonight or wait another year, so...


I've been inspired by a chap I know on Strava via the Triban Owners group, called Dave Roe, who has a good line in epic cycle touring adventures including cycling round Iceland and a retirement ride from Turkey back home to Fleetwood near Blackpool. Reading his trip report about his culinary adventures, battles with mosquitos and joys of summiting the Stelvio Pass made me want to load up my bike and head off myself.

Another source of inspiration is adventurer Alastair Humphreys whose undertakings include cycling around the world, canoeing the Yukon river and hiking the 118 miles around the M25. Adventures of this scope don't sit with the 9-5, 5 day week that we all seem to end up with. Alastair works hard publicising the concept of the "microadventure" - something that is challenging yet accessible.

You do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to do an expedition.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

We run a system of "Adventure Points" in our house. This is a way of encouraging the nippers to push themselves and try things that they wouldn't normally. For the promise of a chalk mark on a board? Pfft... Kids are mugs.

Still in the lead suckas!

It's a sliding scale. For example the kids get an adventure point for going camping or walking up a big (for them) hill. I have to go for a long walk or do a whole load of winter mountaineering to get just one. Because adventures are relative. Anyway, I need to stay one step ahead of the mob so lets go get another point!

For the promise of a chalk mark on a board? Pfft... mug!

Gearing Up

I'm a big fan of Alpkit gear - it ticks the boxes of light, simple, cheap and effective. They love their lightweight adventuring and bikepacking and have some great stuff for adventures. I used an Airlok Xtra drybag strapped to my handlebars with my sleeping stuff and jacket in and my faithful everyday commuting Gourdon rucksack for everything else. There's a Fuel Pod for my bar light battery and some tools too.

Other gear of note includes my PHD Minimus sleeping bag which weighs nothing and packs down to a ridiculously small size and is super warm. A pair of £5 fleece trousers that are the warmest thing known to man were stuffed in the bottom or the pack. Lastly, a big numb foam mat was strapped to my pack, rather spoiling the look of the whole thing...

I've used the website Lighterpack which is great for visualising just where the weight you are carrying is.

 Herman in the bike rack at work, ready to go!

The red dry bag and top tube bag are colour coded with the bike fork and frame details. I'm not sure what this says about me.


I picked my way over the tops on quiet lanes and crossing busy main roads to reach the foot of the track that goes over Barden and Embsay Moor. I've ridden this a couple of times with Karl but always in the other direction. A long steady climb with some nice views over Upper and Lower Barden reservoirs in the fading light. I stopped to eat a banana and shelter from the wind in a shooting butt by the track, feeling a little chilly in my base layer and windproof.

It started to drizzle as the dark arrived quickly (as is it's wont at this time of year) and I got quite cold on the descent into Rylstone. I had to have a cereal bar (trying some from Aldi, yum!) and a word with myself before starting the long climb to Weets Top above Malham. I reasoned that I'd come this far and I had all my stuff with me so it would be a shame to bail out now just because I was having a bit of a sugar low.

As with all low times, they pass and you get back into the rhythm again. The climb up to Weets was grassy and steady and not too hard to follow in the dark. The rain had abated and the wind had died down allowing me to warm up a bit. I was tired at the top but still abandoned the bike to hike over to the trig point for a sit down and a another cereal bar.

Down the track and road, past Goredale Scar and into Malham by front brake pads had decided that they were worn out and the spring was rubbing on the disc with a nice ticketty-ticketty-ticketty noise. I considered stopping to replace the pads (always carry spares kids!) but that would have meant getting colder so I pressed on, mostly using the back brake for the rest of the ride.

There was a little bridleway leading out of Malham that joined up with the road above the cove. I started down it but the fist sized limestone rocks that lined the bottom put me off as I was too tired to fight / push my way up a more technical trail so I just slogged up the road. I'd been on the go for 3 1/2 hours now and was starting to struggle.

The cove road out of Malham nearly finished me off so I stopped to shovel a load of fruit, nuts and oatcakes down my neck when I reached the bridleway turnoff. I started to feel a bit better after this, should have done it sooner.

I cracked on, slowly winding my way up and over Kirkby Fell and towards Stockdale Lane, reeling the summit in with my bottom gear and wobbly legs. The slippery, stony descent without a front brake or any energy was testing at times. I was very relieved to make the farm track and whiz down to the road.

Quite a challenging ride for me, especially with low energy and in the dark. Time to find somewhere to eat and sleep in that order!

Strava log

Bish Bosh Brew Bivvy

I'd had a look at the OS map before setting off and had spotted a couple of places that could be suitable. After a bit of poking around in a small wood with a stream running through it I found a nice flat spot next to a stream and underneath the remains of what looked like an old lime kiln. Nice and sheltered from the breeze, it even had a mobile signal so I could check in with Louise to let her know I hadn't yet been eaten by a curious badger.

After shooing some spiders out of the way and pulling on some warm clothes I got the stove on and climbed into my bivvy / sleeping bag. It was 10pm at this point and I was bloody starving! A mug of hot chocolate went down the hatch followed quickly by a couple of packets of meatballs in tomato sauce and a medicinal single malt - to keep the cold out you understand...

I was certainly warm enough in my awesome PHD sleeping bag and I drifted off to sleep looking up through the leaves, watching the Pleiades drift in and out of view behind the clouds and the odd plane blinking along.

I woke up at various times, once with a start when something flew down my neck, once for no reason and once when a pair of Tawny owls were hooting at each other and crashing through the foliage 5 metres above my head.

The next thing I know, my eyes are open and it's half seven and daylight. Good morning!

I'd certainly found a nice spot to camp, the leaves were all different colours and shades and it was all generally picture-skew.

I'd made a bag of muesli, milk powder, dried raspberry powder and sultanas for breakfast. Add hot water and away you go - yum - and more hot chocolate. Packed up, changed the brake pads on the bike (I was down to the metal) and rode down the hill into Settle. It was a lovely morning!

Arriving in plenty of time for the train I took the chance to get the worst of the muck off in the loos at Settle station, for my benefit and for my fellow passengers. The train was late coming in to Skipton meaning I missed my connection to Keighley so I pottered down the canal instead, enjoying the ride , the lack of hills, a couple of herons and a bacon butty from the tea van at Cononley. The butty was from the van, the herons were just bothering the fish on the canal and not in a sandwich. No sir.

Adventures are great, mountain biking is great, wild camping was great, but none as great as the shower I had when I got back home. Phew-wee I stank!

Friday, 9 October 2015

KTTC Game Night Report

Good session at Keighley Table Top Combat last night. First I played Dave at X wing with both of us flying Decimator / Phantom lists.

X-Wing Match Report

My list: "Is there an Echo in here?" (100 points)

Commander Kenkirk (60)
VT-49 Decimator (44), Emperor Palpatine (8), Ysanne Isard (4), Engine Upgrade (4)

“Echo” (40)
TIE Phantom (30), Rebel Captive (3), Fire-Control System (2), Veteran Instincts (1), Advanced Cloaking Device (4)

The idea with the Decimator was that it would fly around the edge of the board, trying to keep at range 2-3 of everything. Once it's shield are gone (which wouldn't take long) both Kenkirk and Ysanne will give it potentially 2 evades giving the Emperor more time to swing things in his favour.

Meanwhile, a high pilot skill Phantom is mixing it up in the fray, ending up who knows where, attacking first, obtaining a target lock, vanishing straight away and giving out stress to anyone who tries to shoot him. Echo was always given an evade token if he was in arc of a foe to ensure he survived as long as possible.

Dave was flying

"Whisper" (TIE Phantom) + Advanced Cloaking Device
Patrol Leader (Decimator)
2 x Academy Pilots (TIE Fighter)

So had a numerical advantage against my higher pilot skills.

This was the first time I had flown a large base ship and managed to keep it off the asteroids until Dave blocked me with one of his TIEs. He was targeting my Decimator and I was targeting his Phantom. Some early crits left my Decimator with no actions (bye Engine Upgrade) and a wounded pilot (bye extra evade die) but he managed to hang on to the end.

Echo flew well but a daft turn left me at range 1 of the opposing Decimator on an asteroid. Thanks to lucky dice and a bit of Emperor-ish fiddling he only lost one shield and went on to dish out some hurt to the Decimator.

I also kept forgetting to use my Fire Control System, Rebel Captive and missed two dice modifying opportunities with the Emperor. I was left with 2 hull on my Decimator and 1 shield off the Phantom when the last TIE fighter went down in a blaze of fire.

Advanced Cloaking Device is an automatic include on a Phantom, it really changes the game. They are such fun to fly as well! Dave was a very talented and sporting opponent and flew his custom painted ships very well.


I gave Jacko a tutorial game of Netrunner with my Noise MK II and NBN core only decks. He scored an early 4 agenda points but the Noise R+D mill got going and it was just a case of picking through Archives. A very quick game with poor card draw on my part with nothing but Cyberfeeders!

I then played young Jack, the same way round. I ignored his remote servers and just hammered R+D with Medium, getting up to 12 accesses. A couple of Demolition Runs later and I had the required agendas and he had 4 cards in R+D. Ouch.

I got poor card draw both games, and I'm not so sure about trying Magnum Opus for money as it didn't get drawn in either game but both were fairly quick. I suspect that the Noise deck wouldn't be so clever against HB with their punishing ICE.

Anyway I've ordered the Order and Chaos expansion to get some more juicy virus cards!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay 2015

Prelude in E(xcuces)

I haven't run for a long time, around four and a half months. The excuses are many and varied.

In the aftermath of the Fellsman my heels were very bruised and putting on my running shoes (in fact any shoes) was uncomfortable. A such, I was unable to capitalise on post-Fellsman fitness despite managing a run commute to work over the moors. Then I hurt my knee again by not doing my physio excercises and playing volleyball with nothing in the way of a warm up which set my back a few weeks. Then work got suddenly very busy and I was working 8-9 hour days for a few weeks. It's also been easier to put more cycling in than running with cycling to work every day.

etc etc and so on. Everyone has their own excuses, no one wants to hear mine.

Suddenly a wild post appears on the KCAC Facebook page from our fell captain JP (he got to the nickname first in the running club and it still causes me to double take) calling for runners to take part in the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay. I decided to put my name down as the highly enjoyable Open 5 adventure race season is starting soon and I felt this event would be the perfect re-entry into fell running.

The IHMR is a memorial race for a top class fell runner who died in the 80s after being knocked off his bicycle. All the big fell racing teams from the lakes are there - Ambleside, Borrowdale, Keswick as well as some of our local friends from Bingley and Calder Valley. Effectively it's a national competition with a lot of strong teams. And me.

Of course with a combination of crazy work and my first cold in a year meant my training was... sub optimal. I just hoped that my cycling fitness would get me round...

Race Day

I got a lift up with my Fraser and Lorna who was my running-mate for Leg 1. Lorna was quite travel sick on the way up and yet still managed to boss her way around the leg. If I'd have been in her state I wouldn't have been able to get out of the car, never mind up a hill - she's twice the man I am ;)

JP gave us our numbers, we chatted briefly to Ian Holmes (not many sports where you hang out with the ex-national champion pre race) and faffed around long enough to make it to the back of the start group on time.
"and-stick-to-the-path-through-the-field-don't-cut-across-the-grass-3-2-1-go!" - race organiser

Keen to make a good start, the field all set off like it was a 100m race. We settled into a steady pace about 2/3 of the way down the pack, making steady progress from Patterdale up to Boredale Hause, gradually reeling in a few pairs.

The weather was being kind to us - light cloud cover, low wind, dry underfoot, a good running temperature.

We eventually crested the hill and belted down the fun-runnable track to Angle Tarn and our first CP. The view was great and I was immediately reminded why I like fell running so much!

Thanks to some advice from a Bingley runner, we picked a good line on the approach to the main descent - a steep 45° grassy slope that was almost as easy to slide down as run down with a fantastic view towards the nose of Grey Crag.

We dibbed again at the bottom of this hill and then thundered down the track. My legs felt shot by this point, the pace so far and the lack of training really starting to kick in. I just grimaced, not even enough time to wipe the sweat, spit and snot (mmm....) from my face and tried desperately to keep up with Lorna to the finish line.

"COME ON PAUL, LAST 200!!!! COME ON!" - One shouty Tring runner to the other. Poor Paul.
"Well done Paul!" - supportive Lorna to poor Paul.

The runners were scattering walkers and marshals from the path as we belted down to the finish to frantically dib and pass the baton on to Dave and Paul for leg 2 who set off like men possessed.

We got spot kit checked by one of the marshals (who'd all done a great job as is pretty much always with fell races) so it's a good job Fraser had lent me his hat and gloves as I'd forgotten mine - that's how out of practice I am!

We chatted briefly to Caren who was on logistics duty before trotting slowly off down the bridleway back to the start chatting about fruit picking and analysing the leg. We passed a few of those lumbering behemoths of the countryside (D of E-ers) and a few walkers before arriving back at the start.

We were 54/70 on our leg taking 54:02 in total which we were quite happy about. We finished the relay overall in 57th place in 5:16:25, half an hour quicker than last year. Given that this was a national competition with most teams fielding their best runners we didn't feel too bad about our performance! Well done to the rest of the team Dave + Paul, JP + Owen and Gary + Richard.

The overall winners were Borrowdale in 3:34:53 - quite a difference. Those guys are fast.


The smell of bacon wafting from the tea tent was too much so a cup of tea and a bacon and egg sandwich were definitely in order. I had to drink my egg immediately to stop it going everywhere - perfect!

I had to have a second helping of cake - it was as big as a hill!

Fraser had gone for a loop on his bike down Kirkstone Pass and back up the Struggle and once he was back we headed off for home. All that fresh air and exercise had me puffed out and I slept in the back of the van from Windermere to Settle.

I woke up just in time to guide us in to stop at one of the best shops in the world - the Courtyard Dairy - so that I could stock up on Sparkenhoe Red Leicester - my favourite cheese that has been gracing my sandwiches this week :)

Post Mortem

My legs really hurt. Ouch ouch ow. Going to the KCAC social from the White Lion in Kildwick tonight to say hello to the pinnacle and try and work out some of the knots.

It's had the desired effect of getting me back into running. Thanks to t'other JP for the place in the team.

Overall results

Ben Mounsey's blog of the day

Strava log