Monday, 30 August 2010


29TH. AUGUST 1970.   Pat and I married in Reddish near Stockport and whilst wedding guests partied we  left around 5 and took a train to North Wales.   We had been blesed with a fine day for the wedding, all had gone well and   40 years later Pat, ever tolerant, is still putting up with me.  Meanwhile..... back in the Lakes.......2010.
        The strong northerly from Saturday eventually blew the rain clouds through and  enjoying bright Lakes sunshine we  drove  around the bottom of Lake Windermere via Newby Bridge to check out what the Grizedale Forest facility had to offer.  The  trails proved to be largely set up for mountain bikers; a lot of work and investment has gone into the "visitors' centre", courtyard cafe etc but probably a tad contrived for hard core bikers.  We  enjoyed a 3 mile trail walk and headed back via Near Sawrey and Far Sawrey  to take the short ferry journey back across the lake to Bowness. 
However, not before slotting in the promised trail run.  Llate afternoon I headed up the westerly side of Windermere  towards Wray Castle which I was hoping would be 3.5 up the lake shore to give a nice 7 in total.


As the castle comes into view the garmin is indeed showing just less than 3.5 so a run up the slope proves just sufficient before heading back down with that cold northerly breeze now welcome from behind. Another one on the "to do" list ticked off.   Pat enjoyed a shorter run and was waiting with the camera, taking this shot as I came up the final slope.   The 7 brought the week's total to a very pleasing 50 miles; but more relevant was the tempo 5K on the track in the best time for months, a couple of solid undulating road runs and a couple of uplifting trail runs with magnificent backdrop.


3 a.m. SATURDAY.  Heavy rain starts and  hammers on the velux in the bedroom.   I lie awake hoping that it will blow through and the day will be as forecast,  sunny intervals with showers.  Sadly the day was as   bad as the Lakes gets. Periods of torrential rain with low cloud cover  with just the occasional visit from the sun.
 In an attempt to escape the worse we decided to drive  over to Ullswater via the Kirkstone Pass and then turned up  north towards the A66 between Keswick and Penrith.   Since  exploring the area just to the north of the A66 ,which is a maze of very quiet moderately undulating lanes , a run here has been on my "to do" list. 
 We parked at the village hall in   MUNGRISEDALE , walked up the hill together and  Pat, plus several groups of fully clad walkers headed off towards Bowscale Fell as I headed off on the road looking  for a somewhat flatter run.
  The 10 miler proved somewhat more testing than I thought it would but the the inclines would not add much to a race time.  This Common would prove a fabulous venue for a race over the 10 miles or even a 10K with very little traffic and great views of   Carrock Fells and the surrounding countryside.    Fewer than a dozen cars passed me in the 90 minutes. A paradise for cyclists!
 We didn't really escape the weather though as incessant rain driven at me by a strong northerly made for a very testing exercise.  Still a good "reccy" of the area and one for the future.  A good rub down and a quick change then into the MILL INN for lunch. 
 Two days, 18 miles on tarmac;  much search out some trail tomorrow, hopefully with some sun on the back!


Saturday, 28 August 2010


After Tuesday's road run and Wednesday's pleasing 5K tempo on the track I could hear the call ofthe wild. It was definitely a day for getting off road on THURSDAY.  Target the "Tongue" the lower hill on this shot.  The isolated stile is a curious feature after 2 miles on the run. Presumably there was a fence each side of it at one time, long since gone, and the owners at Troutbeck Park farm have left the stile as a marker to guide walkers up the field to navigate to the right of the "Tongue".  This run could not further removed from the track and provides a perfect contrast;  the pace is largely irrelevant but proves to be well over 2 minutes slower.         

     FRIDAY.  We drove through to Kentmere village. It was late morning but managed to "bag" the last remaining car parking spot by the church.  For such a popular walking start point it's shame there is only room for half a dozen cars.  But then again.....Most runners think of the famous Kentmere Horseshoe; a race I have  a distant memory of running but no record.  I was very young!   I do recall coming up when I'd received a prototype of a FASTRAX  off road shoe I'd had made in Northampton in the early '80s and was showing all the fell runners to receive some feedback.  Today, we   were having a "reccy" of the start of the Garburn trail which is on our "to do" list as it goes up out of Kentmere over and down to the Troutbeck valley.  Not for today though and certainly not the Horseshoe!   Today I'll enjoy a steady run on the relatively quiet country lane back to Staveley.  I added a loop to make it 8 miles.  

Long sleeve required today on yet another cool August morning.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


 I see from my "stats" that a previous reference to a new category of shoes which SAUCONY are calling "minimalist" provoked a bit of interest on a Runners World U.S. forum thread and there was a call for more info. So here goes guys,...........

The ProGrid KINVARA, Saucony's neutral minimalist shoe coming in at 218gs will be joined in early 2011 (Feb. in UK) by the ProGrid MIRAGE, coming in at 252gs. 
Saucony say..."it provides just a touch of guidance for the neutral to slight overpronator.  This shoe is going to knock your socks off" 

If you are wearing INOV8 shoes at the moment you might take a deep intake of breath when you see their prices for your favourite shoes next year. So Saucony's offroad shoe in this minimalist category, the new ProGrid PEREGRINE  with its aggresive outersole and 4mm closer to the ground heel-toe drop will create a lot of interest, saving a few pounds.  Saucony say...."trail blazing shoe that's a must for the outdoor runner" "multidirectional lugs and sticky rubber for amazing traction and grip".  258gs.    The 4th shoe the Grid Flex
was featured on July 16th 2010.    Hope that helps, guys;  you may well see then in U.S. before we do over here.
   I'm  often asked when I'm in the shop which shoes I wear.  Well, a shoe I've been keen to try out for speedwork and races is the BROOKS RACER ST4

which, with its medial roll bar,  would hopefully give support for my aged arches,  yet maintain a sleek lightweight feel.  Not sure which distance they were referring to but Brooks claim the Racer ST4 would "shave seconds or even minutes off your time"  They would have to be good to achieve that because on the 2 mile warm up prior to stepping on the track I felt really, really tired and not up for a track session at all. 
But undeterred, fresh from the box I put the shoe through its paces on the Nelson track today on a 5K tempo run.  Previous times recorded for this exercise previously this year were 22.42    23.02    22.38    22.37.
Today?  Well the laps went  1.44  1.47  1.45  1.45  1.45  1.45 1.44 1.45 1.45  1.44 1.44  1.41  finishing with 50 for the last 200 for .....21.46 !   Could well have been the  benign August weather, warm with a breeze,   but certainly the shoes felt good and did just what Brooks said,  shaved seconds off my time!
  Looking forward to wearing them for my next race; shame they'll clash with the colours in my Sale vest!


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

BURNSALL CLASSIC FELL RACE.....the main feature.

  There was a time, before I started shaving, when the programme at the "pictures" (aka the cinema) would consist of a "B" movie, Pathe News,  trailers for forthcoming films and finally the long awaited main feature film.
  It was a bit like that on Saturday at Burnsall Feast Sports. Following the "B" feature of the 10 mile road race,all the talk was about the "Classic" fell race.  With specially printed t-shirts starting to appear depicting the legendary E.H. Dalzell, how would today's times compare with his longstanding 1910 record of 12mins 59.8?  His descent time of 2 mins 42 secs. raised a few eyebrows on Saturday but records state his downhill ability was mesmerising and had to be seen to be believed.   His time did after all stand until 1977 when top fell "pro" FRED REEVES  one of the sport's "greats" ran 12:48 to better it.  But how many fell aficianados could name the other man to better Dalzell's 1910 time?

  I witnessed fellow Mancunian RICKY WILDE  win the "Classic" race in 1977 in a close 12:50.2,
some  weeks after Reeves,but Wilde  did beat Dalzell's time later in 1983 running 12:48.   Fell "specialists" please note.....RICKY WILDE ran 7:47 when breaking the world indoor 3K record,   was 6th in the 1970 National cross country and to further demonstrate  his versatility ran a 2:14 you do!

 So under the gaze of the wickerman and with the children's races on the green and junior fell races acting
as prelude it was time for the main feature.  Bingley's  super vet IAN HOLMES  was carrying No.1 on his vest and  he set off with the intention of making that his finishing position with Pudsey's ROB HOPE and Ilkley's  top man TOM ADAMS for company across the first field.
  However, M40 winner, Holmes could not hold on to the younger man who won clocking 13:59 to Ian's 14:11.  Tom was a clear third in 14:42 with everpresent Ted Mason 4th in 15:09.  

  First lady was HELEN GLOVER of Keighley in 18:45, another club stalwart who is happy to turn out in road races, road relays and on the country.

  It will be interesting to see how many of the 145 competitors who took part, including 21 women, will be back for the BOFRA version of the Burnsall fell race later in September.

But I'm sure they'll agree that the "Classic" version is THE event!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

BURNSALL FEAST SPORTS 10 MILE 2010 pictures and report

Fresh from his victory at Arncliffe Fete 4 the previous weekend,  ALAN BUCKLEY, Leeds City,  made his intentions clear at BURNSALL opening up a gap by the first corner on the back road to Hebden.  He had company from Ian Fisher
of Otley at points during the race, as he had last year,   except this year Ian was on his bike!  Ian will race next week following his "rest" from competition over the winter months, in the Chesterfieldl Spire 10 miler.
  With the race won won Alan no doubt relaxed to save energy for more work on his extension and feeding his new born during the night.
  He won in 55:09

Second was prolific racer, Bingley Harrier, TIM MIDGELEY, (55:57)seen here pulling up out of Grassington with 3rd place STUART BROWN of Keighley (56:48)and 4th placed GRAHAM ROBINSON (57:19)of Sandhurst Joggers in tow.

A gap then to the 5th and 6th placed runners. DARREN BURNLEY (Pudsey Pacers) eventually pulling away from SEAN COTTER of L eeds City.

Otley AC new boy THOMAS MIDGLEY just had the better of club veteran ANDREW ROBERTSHAW pictured here. Andrew still recovering no doubt from having run both road and fell races at Arncliffe last week.  They were just out side the hour in 60:10 and 60: 14 respectively.
Marc Teasey of  Bingley Harriers made the top 10 after a fairly isolated race clocking 61:37.  An improvement of over 6 minutes on his time of 2007 (67.51) testimony to the tremendous improvement he has made through great consistency over the last few years.   His time of 61:37  good enough for 4th  M40.
This week 20 years ago my records show me that Clayton's ROGER BREWSTER beat me by nearly 7 minutes in a half marathon in Chorley running 2nd in 67:46  to my 74:25.   An everpresent until recently at races throughout the north he is "coming back" very well placing 10th, 1st M50 in 61:56
Another frequent racer over many years has been ANDREW MESKIMMON of Dewsbury.  Here the M40 looks to making things hard for Ilkley's Harrier JUSTIN PHILLIPS as they exit Linton village after nearly 7 miles.  Andrew went on to finish 14th in 62:38 with "young" Justin 16th in 63:05 
Slipping between them was Otley's ROGAN ASHTON in 63:03.  3rd counter for the Otley team who finished 2nd to Keighley team of Brown, Shaun Wilkinson and Mark Knowles.

 One person certainly enjoying the day was ladies winner SARAH CUMBER of Halifax clocking 64:50.   Having run away from hubby Geoff her "darling" for the day was MARCEL DARLING of Shelton Striders.   Several dozen Shelton runners competed in the two Burnsall events all with white roses pinned to their vests; no doubt celebrating weekend's nuptials.  Sarah finished 19th; Marcel dropping back to 22nd; perhaps celebrations took a toll over the last 3 miles.

Husband GEOFF CUMBER ran 69:14 but for once had to be content with 2nd M60 behind Roger Booth of Shelton.   This shot shows him "dragging" Otley's LLOYD BEST up the Grassington hill towards Threshfield.

CARL HERON of Queensbury 10th M40, 24th in 66:16


Not far behind came KAREN BEST
2ND LADY 1ST f40 IN 69:42

Another young lady enjoying the run in the countryside  was visiting JENNY GRAY of Sandhurst Joggers,  4th
lady in 72:45.   TIM TOWLER  of Valley Striders  seen below, was hanging onto Ms Gray on the hill out of Grassington, before eventually finishing 47th., 10th M40 in 73:46

A familiar face in an unfamiliar vest was ex Clayton Harrier GRAHAM CUNLIFFE now with Wesham Roadrunners.  11th M50, 48th in 73:59

and meanwhile back on the village green , the band played on........................

Friday, 20 August 2010

Mo Farah commands last!

I wrote on the blog after the European T.& F. championships recently that Mo Farah would command the utmost respect if he was to break Dave Moorcroft's UK  5K track record which has stood since  1982.   If like us you missed the BBC 3 programme (can you believe we watched boring Liverpool!!)   you may not know that Mo ran 12:57.94 in the Zurich Diamond League meeting to become the 1st Briton to run under 13 minutes.   Just watched the last lap on YouTube. Well done to him!
  Finishing in 3rd place, 2 places ahead of Mo, Chris Solinsky of U.S.A. proved that the African athletes can be challenged. Solinsky ran 12:56.45.  To prove the point 9 Kenyans finished behind Mo and Chris.

No records for me today but at least I did manage to give myself a kick up the butt and inject some pace into my running for the first time since last Saturday's race.  Of the 24 miles run  Monday to Thursday only a couple have been below 9 mins pace compared to the 6.50 of the race.  
 So today I thought it was time to "up the ante".   The phrase implies an element of risk; true because I honestly didn't know if I could hit the target which should have been a reasonable one. Namely  4 miles at 7.30 pace.  Target 30.00 minutes.

 What a day today.  One minute pouring down. Next bright sunshine and oh! so humid.  Add a blustery wind and the going was tough.  Opted for the canal for the tempo run.   Not the nice and quiet.
 Couple of miles at 9.30 and 9.00 to warm up,  then off......7.33 for the first mile ....the second 7.33.....6 seconds of target.  Turn.
    7.30 for the 3rd mile. 8 seconds down.  Kept pushing ...last mile ...7.17......29.55....5 seconds inside target.  Less than a minute slower than last year's Arncliffe race.  Not bad then for a solo effort.  Can't remember the last time I trained with someone else.
   I do occasionally see other runners training late morning; usually alone or occasionally in pairs around the res.  But it is not unusual to be confronted on a narrow country lane late morning  in the middle of the week
by a group compromising of a couple of dozen cyclists.  Are cyclists more likely to be more unemployed than runners or is cycling just a more sociable sport than running?  You tell me.
   Have a great weekend.  If you are racing...........have a good one!


Thursday, 19 August 2010


  My earliest memory of visiting the picturesque Yorkshire Dales village of Burnsall goes back nearly forty years.  Pat and I went up on Sunday August 16th.  Shame really because Burnsall Feast which incorporates the 10 mile road race and the "Classic" fell race is always,  as we learnt in the bar of the Red Lion.....on a Saturday!!   I wondered why the village was so quiet; with a kind of "after the party's over" feel about the place.  
  In those days there wasn't a plethora of races to choose from each weekend.  So unlike today the quality wasn't spread over all the north. August saw an offering of the  3 Bs"...Barnsley ...Barnoldswick.....Burnsall.....where several would do both road and fell as several did at Arncliffe last week.  
 But it wasn't until 1977 that I returned to run the 10.  In the '70s the 10 mile was invariably won by an international.   1977 saw Graham Ellis (Holmfirth) win,running 49.19, 1978 John Calvert (Blackburn) 51.39 and 1979 saw no less than future Olympic medallist Charlie Spedding make the journey from Gateshead to win in 50.05.  My times of 53.40, 56.45 and 54.34  were only good enough for 13th,12th and 9th place. Well outside the prizes in those days.
 That's Mr. Spedding  taking my elbow (runner 10) in his face in the photo above,just after the start.  Fellow Bingley runner (no.8) is Bill Padgett who is now the Fastrax print room manager (3rd in 51.31).  Fourth in the race was Peter Rawnsley (Sheffield but now with Skyrac).  Pete ran 53.29 and to his credit is still racing and like me striving to get back under 42 for a 10K at the age of 61.  No.16 is Chris Leggatt who ran for Sale with me then Bingley and Valley Striders,when he moved to Yorkshire.
 Everything was fairly minimal in those days.  No 9" baggy shorts!  Mesh vests with brief shorts and the very lightest of shoes.  Even the numbers were minimal as you can see.  Bit bigger for Saturday, I'm afraid.
 So if you are looking for a race this weekend in Yorkshire and fancy a very challenging but very scenic 10 miler my contact confirms tonight that they will still be taking entries on the day,on the green in the village centre. 
  But don't forget when you've battled up all those hills and then spy a sign saying "BURNSALL" 3 miles a nasty official will point you left up to Thorpe village for just one last bit of torment.  Then it's all downhill;  with a tremendous welcome for you as you sprint past the Red Lion to the finish! 

Wednesday, 18 August 2010


  As I type this I'm watching highlights of the latest World Series Triathlon which took place in Kitzbuhel last weekend.  After his London ordeal  I half expected Alistair Brownlee to be a non-starter but no!  In a prerace interview he explains how he was unconscious for half an hour after the London event  (!) and narrowly avoided being hospitalized in intensive care overnight.   Yet here he was back for more punishment.  As they come off the bike and set off on the 10K run he is not in the leading group of 5.   Interesting to see how well he has recovered.........
  Not sure I got my recovery right after Saturday's race.  Whilst it was only 4 miles I should have had an easy
couple of low mileage days immediately after.  But  that 6 on the moor (Sunday), including a couple of miles of climbing  and the undulating 2 res run on Monday left me drained for the 8 mile Tuesday road run.  To make things worse for myself I tackled  an out an back run we used to call  the Beamsley Bash;  much more challenging than the flat route I originally had in mind.  
  So whilst Saturday  I raced at an average of 6.49 per mile,   3 days later I could only register 9.33   9.26   9.27   9.26   9.04   8.54    9.25   8.21..................73.39......averaging a weary 9.17.   Not good. 
Today,  it was time for a minimal effort.   A flat easy 4.  

  Pat correctly pointed out that  I have been putting in a few hours on my feet in the shop and not sat at my desk here in the office at home!    Needs must with staff on holiday. I must admit its good to be back on the shop floor talking to customers.  Always interesting to hear about
other people's running exploits.
 Also interesting seeing some of the new Autumn/Winter gear coming in.   Orders that we placed 6 months ago.   Some exciting new gear in from GORE today.
  I've continued with the GORE GLOBE SO JACKET. A good seller  from last season.  It "Windstopper" , Softshell and reversible.  You can run into work displaying the hi viz black and yellow outer with reflective front and back.  But if you pop into town at lunch you reverse it to a more discreet black/ grey combination.  How's that for versatiility!

 The majority of the lines I've chosen for men ,however, are in orange and black,  strikingly different for the winter months to follow.   Let's just hope we don't have to put up with so much snow and ice this time.
  Sadly, Alistair Brownlee had seemingly not recovered sufficiently to pull back time lost on the swim and bike sections finishing 4 minutes behind fellow GB Stuart Hayes in 40th place.   Let's hope for a return to top form soon for the local lad in his next event.
  Not certain what my next event will be.  But I definitely won't be doing the INOV AMBLESIDE FELL RUN.  I was curious to see where it would go in case we were up there.  Most normal FRA races charge no more than £6 entry fee.   Many are £3 or £4 pounds.   The Ambleside race?   £20!!
It'll be interesting to see how many club runners they attract.

Monday, 16 August 2010


 It would be easy to adopt an overly optimistic view after Saturday's Arncliffe 4, having run over 1.5 minutes faster than last year  and only 15 seconds slower than 2008.   But the pace (6.49) would suggest a 42 minute 10K is going to take a special effort.   Back to normal then this week! 
 I knew the good weather on Sunday would be mean that the lanes would be full of  racing cyclists, the canal would be awash with families doggy walking , similarly the trails at the res and the Strid.    So I retreated to Ilkley (Rombalds)Moor,  driving past the hordes at the Cow and Calf  Rocks and starting my gradual climb from the Menston end as I had some weeks ago. 

  The 3 mile climb up to the trig point  was probably not the ideal choice for a post race run but the going up there underfoot  is pretty good at the moment.The one "boggy"  patch near to the 12 Apostles has been worked on very recently and eliminated. The benefit will be appreciated in the coming winter months.   Also appreciated was the spectacular 360 degrees view from the Trig Point.  Stanbury, Ovenden Moor windfarm, Chelker windfarm, Beamsley, Roundhill, Chevin , airport and beyond and on the horizon Memwith Hill, seen above.  Years ago I wouldn't have dreamt of stopping and taking it all in.  How times change;  heck, I was having an easy week!  If cyclists can stop and have a cuppa,  what's wrong with a minute's break to savour the moment now and again. The 6 mile  brought me up to 36 compared with the normal 47 or so.

The new week started in equally spectacular fashion today, Monday. It didn't take much to lure me back to the "res" for the week's pilgrimage.   I had popped into the shop for a while before the run and was quite alarmed to be told by the first customer that he had spent 5 days in intensive care on completing the London marathon.  He said his condition was due to a virus but I couldn't help thinking that at over 17 stone and 6 foot 6" his stature might have  been a contributing factor.   I said  that perhaps he was  best built for shorter distances like 5k/ 10K,  more suited to his "power".  
He said,  "That's a thought.  You could be right. No one's ever said that to me before."  !!!
 He never heard that the "ideal" marathon runner weighs 2 lbs to every inch of height.  I always say, "it's not a pretty sight but it moves fast! (Given the training, of course!)

Despite the groin pain and upper leg soreness that I've become accustomed to after races,  the 2 res run went pretty well and the trail was not too busy . The picnic tables at the Swinsty car park however were all occupied and the Yorkshire Dales ice cream van was doing a roaring trade.   Too hot too trot for some.
Let's hope this good spell continues.
Whilst I didn't do the race I had originally targetted I 'm pleased that there was a good alternative and I've learnt  from it.  Time to check the possibilies for the next one.