Monday 16 December 2019

Christmas Track Parlauf - 16/12/19

It is upon us yet again, the famous A&T Track relay, but with a twist this year.....

All teams have now been picked, but don't worry if you aren't yet on the list, there are a few spare places available.

This years event will be based on the familiar format of running 20 laps of 400m within your team as a relay, with the following rules applying:

  • Before the race begins, all runners displaying Christmas spirit will be rewarded with the following for their team:
    • 5 Seconds for Christmas Hat
    • 15 Second for Christmas Outfit
      • This must be worn for every lap run, if you run without your own hat/outfit you will have to go into the penalty box at the end of every lap (see below).
  • Each team must pick a running order which will remain for the rest of the race, each runner can only do one lap at a time and if a runner misses their turn they will be out of the race and their team will have to continue without them.

  • During the race you must stick to the following rules:
    • All teams set off based on their given start whistle based on bonus time gained.
    • Outgoing runners (next on) to stand on the inside of the track awaiting their team mate no later than them reaching 200m point.
    • Baton handover only to occur within the 4 white cones
    • All runners must wear their own Christmas item whilst running
    • All runners must mark their lap on the board before handing over baton
    • All teams must complete 20 laps of the track in order.

  • Any team caught breaking the rules will be sent to the Penalty Box to complete a task before they can hand the baton over:
    • Marshal will send you directly to penalty box and tell you why (no arguing)
    • You will run to the penalty box marked with orange cones
    • You will hand your baton over for 2 balls
    • You will attempt to throw the balls into the bin
      • If you get one ball in the bin, collect the balls, swap back for your baton and resume the race.
      • If you do not get any of the balls in the bin, collect the balls, given them to the marshal, run to the Yellow cone and back, collect your baton and resume the race.
  • The winning team will be the first to complete 20 laps.
Best of Luck!

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Cross Country Race 6 - Marl Pits Rossendale - Red Rose - 30/11/2019

What we've all been waiting for - the main event of the year - Marl Pits cross countryπŸ‘πŸ‘.... Oh ok and the A&T awards night πŸ†πŸ˜‰

Saturday 30th November is the last of the Red Rose league races held at Marl Pits Leisure Centre Rossendale BB4 7SN. This is THE cross country race to do on the calendar, it's tough but great fun, one to remember.

If you raced at Leigh, Leverhulme Park, or Centre Vale then please use your same red rose number. If you asked me to register you for XC I will have your number in hand for just £6 (you're welcome to message me to check) STRICTLY NO ENTRIES ON THE DAY. If you would like to race but haven't already told me, please message me and I'll advise how to get a number but you must... do this before 7pm on Thursday evening latest.

Ladies start 1:35pm 5k
Mens start 2:15pm 7.8k

Parking is usually on the main road, it's a residential area so please don't block driveways.

The tents are right near the entrance - next to the Rugby field and running track. Please don't walk or warm up on the Rugby or Football pitches - they get upset about it! 🀣

There are toilets and I believe a handful of showers in the sports changing rooms. I'm at the Red Rose committee meeting tomorrow night so if there any updates I'll post on hereπŸ™‚

Come on team πŸ™‚ the fact that this race is followed by an amazing night out at the Gin Pit makes it even better. The team spirit is just superb going from mud to glam within a few hoursπŸ†πŸƒπŸ’™πŸ’ƒπŸ•ΊπŸ₯‚πŸ»πŸΎ

I'd love to see you all out there. Any questions at all please message me on FB, WhatsApp or 07971993903,

See More

Monday 25 November 2019

Awards Night - Saturday 30th November

Just a reminder that this coming Saturday is our annual presentation night (Xmas party) at the Gin Pit Miners Welfare Club, starting at 7pm. All members are welcome and feel free to bring your partner. 

Awards, DJ, Buffet and plenty of alcohol!!

Wednesday 20 November 2019

URGENT - London Marathon 2020 Club Ballot – by Mark Riches

URGENT - London Marathon 2020 Club Ballot – by Mark Riches

My earlier post refers

The allocation of places to clubs is as follows:

Number of first claim-registered members
Number of entries

Based on the information provided by our governing body, we have been allocated 1 place

If you would like to be considered and you meet the criteria, please email me on

Deadline to be considered for the place is Sunday 24th November

If we get more names than places, which is highly likely as I have 2 names (Mike & Amanda Partington) already, then we will draw out a ‘winner’ at presentation night on 30th November

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Cross Country Race 5 - British Athletics Cross Challenge Sefton Park - 23/11/19

L17 3AA

23rd November 2019
Ladies Race 1:05pm – 8.1k
Mens Race 2:05pm - 9.8k

This event is held in conjunction with the Mid Lancs League, however there is a one use number and timing chip issued on the day, so don’t use your Mid Lancs number for this one!

Cost of entry is £1.20 for your timing chip. I pay this up front to the organisers this week, so please only enter if you are sure you are racing as there are no refunds. Please pay me in cash on the day of the race, in exchange for your chip. You must hand your chip back at the end of the race or we get charges....

Although it’s a relatively tame course as far as muddy running is concerned, it’s still a tough flattish course, mainly long grass sections around Sefton Park. Nothing crazy though, nothing like what we have done recently I promise. This one is suitable for all runners and if you are new to cross country this would be an ideal one to attend.

It really is one to race, you will be running amongst the best of British cross country athletes. The winners of the last race in the challenge – Jess Judd and Mahamed Mahamed are likely to be there and it is just amazing to see the difference in their speed. However don’t be put off, there are loads of club runners of all abilities. Do your best and enjoy the atmosphere. My goal is to not get lapped by Jess Judd, if I can achieve that I’m very happy – (the lap is about 2 miles - that’s how fast she is!)

Most runners wear spikes at this event, however in my opinion it’s runnable in trails or fell type inov8 style shoes, I’m guessing it will be quite boggy on the field due to the amount of rain we’ve had. All makes for a really fun race – honest 

Bring your wallets and purses as there is large selection of running kit, trainers and spikes at decent prices right at the finish line, great bargains to be had. Coffee and food vans are there too to warm up afterwards.

Allow plenty of time to get there as some of our runners got caught out by the traffic last year. Parking is on the road all the way around the park. It’s a big event so it gets busy. The club tents are pitched near the kit stalls and finish line commentary box.

Anyone from A&T who is a fully paid member and is UKA registered can enter this one, but I need to know asap before I submit the form to British Athletics. Contact me on here or 07971993903,

Can’t wait to see you there. For £1.20 it’s a great experience.

Sunday 10 November 2019

Cross Country Final Standings for 2018-2019 Season and Results after Race 4

Cross Country section has now been updated on the club website. Please take a look at the latest club standings after race 4.

Also please take a moment to check the final standings from last season (at the foot of the page) Any questions or queries please contact me asap.

2018-2019 Winners

Ladies Senior 1st) Jackie Price, 2nd) Suzanne Gregory, 3rd) no qualifiers

Ladies Vet 1st) Catherine Worsley, 2nd ) Lynn Boylin, 3rd) Kay Campbell.

Mens Senior 1st) Simon Ford, 2nd) Mark Collins, 3rd) Scott Priestley.

Mens Vet 1st) Tim Campbell, 2nd) Bren Loughrey, 3rd) Shaun Moran.

Special Award: Craig Bradbury

Well done everyone :)

Tuesday 5 November 2019

Cross Country Race 4 - Todmorden Centre Vale Park - Red Rose - 9/11/2019

Saturday 9th November sees the next instalment of muddy fun and games.

Ladies start 1:35 - approx 5k
Mens start 2:15 - approx 10k

Todmorden - Centre Vale Park.
OL14 7DE

Changing facilities are in the cricket club, but that car park is only for officials use. 

The race organiser has asked all involved not to park in front of the Hare and Hounds pub please.
There are plenty of car parks on both ends of the park and across the road.
I've not raced this one before so I can't comment on the course, but it was well liked in it's first appearance on the red rose league last year, so it's here to stay.

Last year ladies did 1 start lap and 2 long loops. Men did 1 start lap and 4 long loops.

Absolutely no entries allowed on the day at Red Rose events. If you raced at Leigh or Leverhulme Park, use the same number please. If you asked me to pre register you I will have your number - in exchange for £6 cash on the day. If you haven't pre registered you must contact me before Thursday so I can tell you how to enter.

Any questions please just ask away πŸ™‚

Monday 28 October 2019

London Marathon Club Ballot Criteria

If you got a rejection in the London Ballot you could still get in through the club route. See A&T criteria below

Rules for 2020

·   Members must have entered & been rejected from the London Marathon
·   Members must be at least in their second year of membership
·   Members must be first claim to Astley & Tyldesley Road Runners
·   Members must have a run a 10-mile race or longer within the last 12 months
·   If a member has had a club place before they cannot enter
·   If after this ballet there are any places left, members who fulfil all the above but have had a club place before can go into a second ballet

Online club entries for the 2020 London marathon will open this week and an email will be sent to successful clubs by Friday 29 November so keep posted to the Blog on how to apply for a club place

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Cross Country Race 3 - Leverhulme Park Bolton - Red Rose - 26/10/2019

The next of the Red Rose league races is on Saturday 26th October. Another local one held at Leverhulme Park Bolton - home of parkrun but with more mud 🀞πŸ€ͺ

Parking is free but limited spaces on the sports centre car park, once full please park considerately on the local roads so we don't upset the residents.

The start is on the main large field behind the track. You can't miss the tents. The Juniors race will be in play when you get there so be aware you will be crossing the race route in places.

Ladies start 1:35 (5k)
Men's start 2:15 (10k)

If you ran at Leigh use your same red rose number.

If you didn't run at Leigh but you asked me to register you I will have a number for you, message me if you're not sure. payment is £6 cash to me on the day please πŸ™‚

If you didn't pre reg there is absolutely no registrations on the day now for Red Rose. You must contact me before Thursday morning so I can advise how to get you a number.

Dont forget your pins and dry warm clothes for afterwards (ps: get your A&T hoodie order in asap for the rest of the winter races - see earlier post from CB)

Any questions whatsoever just message me on here, or
or on 07971993903

Look forward to seeing you all there

See More

Monday 14 October 2019

Cross Country Race 2 - Heaton Park Manchester SELCC - 19/10/2019

Cross country race #2 is at Heaton Park Manchester. M25 2SW.

Ladies start 1:40pm (8k ish)
Men's start 2:20pm (10k ish)

This is a South East Lancs league race and entry is on the day at the portable desk - usually situated under the trees just at the top of the hill near the cafe. Please pay the organiser your £6 and keep hold of your number for the rest of the season.

Please arrive in plenty of time so the organiser can give out numbers and register us all. We had a high number of entrants last year and the poor lady at the reg desk got in a bit of a muddle, so please get there early to register. We are a registered league member club team (not guest entry).

The club tents are up near the cafe and the hall. Many people use the carpark near the children's play area as it is closest to the start. It gets busy quickly so if it's full dont worry just go back down the lane to the overflow car park.
There is a small parking fee so remember to bring some change for the machine and car share if possible.

A slightly more undulating course than Leigh, but a great route off the tracks around the park, only a small amount of tarmac paths to cross over, so trail shoes and spikes are recommended for grip.

Remember to wear your club vest, bring some pins for your number and some warm clothes for after the finish. There is usually a van selling coffee and tea near the finish line. Any questions please ask πŸ™‚.

See you there πŸ’™ πŸƒπŸƒπŸƒπŸ’™

Centurion Autumn 100

Centurion Autumn 100 2019 - By Dave Sloan

It's been 3 years since my last trip to Goring-on-Thames for the A100 and on my last visit I managed to achieve my target of a sub-24hr 100 miles after a DNF at 87 miles in 2015.
The last three years have been a work in progress. I knew that I wasn't finished with the distance, or this race, but I needed a bit of time to consolidate, enjoy my running and plan my attack for the next (official) venture into triple figures.
I made big plans for a big year in 2018, which started with a bang in January with the self-organised 'Peaky Blinder' run of 105 miles from Birmingham to Gin Pit with Phil, Stu and Bren. As most people know, I didn't go on to complete this as my knee went at 95 due to the poor underfoot conditions and I had to leave Phil and Stu to finish it for the team. Little did I know how much the experience of trudging through thick mud and counting (singing) down the miles through the night to Nantwich would come in handy down the line. I used the rest of the year to support Phil on his EPIC 12 Ultras challenge and gained some vital experience on the way, that would all come together on this Autumn day in 2019.

With all this experience under my belt I felt it was time to have another serious bash at 100 miles and where better to do it than at the Centurion Autumn 100. For anybody looking to run 100 miles (which I assume is very few) this event is the perfect race, a central point that you return to every 25 miles, 4 different out and back loops on beautiful trails, amazing volunteers who know exactly what you are going through as they are either runners themselves or have a great deal of experience, and the option to utilise pacers for the last 50 miles all made it the obvious choice.
I have felt for a while now that with the right preparation and conditions on the day that I was capable of completing the distance within 20hrs, in all honesty I thought it would take me 2-3 attempts over a year or so to get these perfect conditions, but at the beginning of this year I devised a plan with Claire to do less racing and concentrate on getting faster and more efficient at running further.
It felt like such a long time of grinding out hour after hour running up and down the canals and trails of Leigh, Wigan and Manchester through the heat and rain of Spring and Summer, but I finally made it to the start line.

The start of the race was fun. I decided, against my plan, to just go out with a group and run to feel. As it would be for the rest of the day, the ground for the first 25 mile leg was mostly wet with slippery mud and uneven trail in parts interspersed with decent sections of very runnable hard packed trail and road. 
The plan for leg 1 was to run steadily to the first checkpoint and then settle in to a jog/walk strategy for the rest of the first half of the race before my pacers took over control. I should have run this leg in 4hrs, but got a bit carried away.... Coming in around 3:33. After a quick change of shoes to something more 'grippy' and an ear bending from Claire I went out again for leg 2.

I was now out on my own and working to THE PLAN, so it was great to see some friendly faces before I set off for 4 1/2 hours of lonely muddy trails, in the form of my Pacers Mike and Rach, Road Chief and Overlord Claire; and Helen (Claire's Sister) making the trip from London with Henry to cheer on his uncle David and dish out the High-5's. Just what I needed.

Leg 2 takes in a beautiful part of the ridgeway, so I tried to take in as much of this amazing part of our countryside as possible and enjoy the day. Around mile 35 I got my first and only bout of doubt, the enormity of the task at hand was settling in and with 65 miles still to go and the weather and trail conditions only getting tougher I got a bit worried as to whether it was going to be my day this time. 
Those who know me, or see my Facebook account, will know that my family lost my Grandad in August who was a pilar of strength for the whole family and a role model and hero to me. It was also my Nana and G'dad who originally got me and my brother into running in my teens when they took us to Salford Mets where we spent 3 great years travelling the Northwest for Track Meets and Cross Country. It was at this point in the race that I had to go to my mantra. Before the race I wrote my Grandad's name 'Sam' on the back of my watch hand so that every time I checked the time or distance I would be able to see that he was with me. As I was at this low point I had a little word to myself, reminded myself of how proud he was and would be of me as well as everyone else that had given me their time and support on this journey. After I got to the turnaround point at 37 miles I was reinvigorated to get through the challenge for everyone who believed in me and for myself. 
Throughout the race, as the rain got heavier through the the night, the marker pen slowly washed from the back of my hand so that it was gone by the time I finished. I'm not superstitious in any way, but I took this as my Grandad telling me that I didn't need him anymore, that I had this in me and was strong enough to go on and finish this on my own.

By the end of Leg 2 the Overlord was happy that I was now back on plan and Rach was raring to go as pacer for Leg 3 after worries that a recurring knee injury might put her on the bench. A quick bit of veggie soup and out on the ridgeway in the opposite direction. 
Rach did an amazing job, she kept me to target pace, made sure that I was eating and drinking regularly and kept me entertained for the 5hrs she had to endure of me trying to talk her into running 100 miles in the future. I'm sure Leg 3 would be a beautiful area to go for a nice run or walk on a summer day, but to run it through the night was pretty uneventful although we did manage to get up onto the ridgeway just before sunset to take in the countryside views. On the way back to Goring there was a steady stream of people on their way out to Chain Hill whom we would pass on our well wishes to, which was a reminder of how far others still have left to run and how tough the race was for me on my previous two visits. 
With Rach's shift over, 13:17 on the clock and 26 miles left to run, Mike and I set off on leg 4.
We soon found out that the final leg was to be broken down into 3 segments, the first 8 miles were a mixture of muddy, grassy trails interspersed with short sharp hills, the middle 10 miles a flat Tarmac Canal path to make up some time and the last 8 miles a reversal of the first. 
Mike set a rythm from the off and kept me going with military precision. There was no time or space for me to worry about any 'what-if's', we were on a schedule and we both had a job to do. I had a time to achieve and Mike had the fear of Claire if he didn't get me there! We had a great time. There were so many tired and sore looking people out on the course at that time of night and I was so glad that wasn't the case for me. We even managed to take a couple of lost places back and pass a couple of other runners out there, which fed the motivation At this late phase. 
As we came off the trail and back onto the muddy banks of the Thames I could finally dream of the finish with only 1 1/2 miles to go. It is strange that this was the part of the race where I struggled most to actually run as I became overwhelmed  with what I was about to complete. Mike kept me moving steadily, avoiding the worst of the mud and saving my legs for the final run into Goring Village Hall. 
It was just after 4am in the sleeping town of Goring-on-Thames when Dave Sloan and Mike Sinclair decided that best thing to do was have a sprint finish! Mike thought he'd won, but I changed the goalposts at the last moment to take the tape with an enormous cheer and much reprimand as a reminder of the sleeping locals from the marshals at the finish (sorry),  before trotting round the corner to the official  race finish line to complete 100 mile on foot in 19hrs 13mins and 6secs. 47 minutes quicker than I even dreamed of doing and a full 4 1/2 hours off my PB. Oh, and 11th overall finisher in a race where 35% of people DNF'd.

I had a moment to myself (and maybe a little tear) once the elation of the finish had settled, to appreciate everything I had gone through to get here and the sacrifices of those who have supported me throughout the whole journey over the past three years.
I'd like to think it's feet up time, but those who know me will know better :)

Wednesday 25 September 2019

A&T 2019-2020 Cross Country Championship

Here it is, the A&T 2019-2020 Cross Country Championship race line up.

I've decided to reduce the number of races this season and the minimum number to qualify for prizes πŸ†. I have also removed the races that are just a bit too far to travel to. eg: 3 hour round trip to Ulverston for a 5k/10k is just a bit too much IMO. (Although if you want to use them as training runs your race bibs are valid for them - just let me know if you decide to go).

So feast your eyes on this. I hope you like the line up. I have pre-registered those of you who have contacted me. If you didn't tell me - don't worry it's not too late to enter just let me know asap and I can sort something out for you with the organisers.
I will post up a Facebook event for each race so you know what to do and where to go.
Excited and looking forward to our first race at Leigh. If you're not racing it's always great to see supporters out on the course here too. πŸ’™

I'd be grateful if you could spread the word to any members not on Facebook or who don't see the blog updated.

As always please contact me if you want to discuss anything. Happy to help if I can. 

1.       Races (all Saturdays)

Red Rose
Leigh – Leigh Sports Village
South East Lancs
Manchester – Heaton Park
Red Rose
Bolton – Leverhulme Park
Red Rose
Todmorden – Centre Vale
Mid Lancs/British Athletics
Liverpool – Sefton Park
Red Rose
Rossendale – Marl Pitts
Mid Lancs
Burnley – Towneley Park
South East Lancs
Oldham – Tandle Hill
South East Lancs
Chorley – Yarrow


2.       Start Times

Red Rose - women 1:35pm / men 2:15pm

Mid Lancs - women 1:30pm / men 2:15pm

South East Lancs – women 1:40pm / men 2:20pm


3.       Websites

South East Lancs                                                                                     


4.       Cost

Red Rose - £6.00 for all four races payable to Michelle Fairclough at first fixture.

Mid Lancs  - no cost to individuals.

South East Lancs  - £6.00 for the full season payable direct to the race organiser at the first fixture.

Additional fee for a timing chip at Liverpool British Athletics Challenge to be paid to Michelle Fairclough prior to the race (£1.50 tbc).

Lost numbers incur a replacement charge.


5.       Championship Categories

 Under 45 women / Under 45 men / 45 & over women /45 & over men.

The UK athletics rule regarding age groups & ruling date 31 August (midnight)/1 September to apply.  Please note that while each league will have the standard age group categories displayed on their results, Astley & Tyldesley age grading for scoring purposes, has been decided by the Committee that ‘Senior’ is under 45 and ‘Vet’ 45 and over for both men and women.


6.       Scoring

 In all championship age categories 1st place 30 points, 2nd place 28 points, 3rd place 27 points etc.

Scoring is based on BEST 6 races from 9. Runners must complete at least 6 races to qualify for prizes.

7.       Championship Awards

Perpetual trophies will be awarded to first man and woman in each category.

Championship trophies to first 3 men and women in each category.

Additional award will be presented to runners who complete all 9 races.

8.       Contact

Michelle Fairclough

(m) 07971 993903


Tuesday 17 September 2019

Lost Shepherd Fell Race by Tim Campbell

This 14.9 mile race followed a picturesque course beginning from “that” slanted field just outside of Mytholmroyd which is also the start of the infamous Coiners race. It first wound its way through some woods and bracken fringed tracks, before gradually climbing up and over Stoodley Pike down an easy descent and a short road section, before heading across the moors mainly on the paved sections. The monument at the top of Stoodley Pike dominates the local skyline, being visible from a good distance, which is useful for the navigationally challenged fell runner. And although the original structure was built to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Waterloo, no Wellingtons were required for this race, as the weather was fine and the bogs were relatively dry being only around 4 or 5 inches deep. Turning right at the herd of cows near Todmorden we completed a figure of 8 course by eventually heading back up Stoodley Pike from the steep side and then retracing the way back to the start/finish field.
At the time of going to press, the results were yet to be issued, but I definitely finished and so did Carl Murray, who in typically extreme style hadn’t experienced enough pain that weekend and so headed straight over to Anglesey for the Sandman Triathlon!
All in all this was a brilliant course for someone who’s already done a couple of fell races and wants to try something a little bit more challenging. It was clearly marked all the way around and did not have anything too technical or steep, so very doable – take a note for next year. And it must be said that the choice of 3 different soups at the end of the race was definitely a plus!

Saturday 14 September 2019

Cross Country 2019-2020 Are you in ?

Darkness setting in earlier in the evening. Rainy days making paths muddy. That bite in the air on the way to work in the morning. Belting evening TV dramas. Can only mean one thing..... It's Cross Country time πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

The fixtures are out for the three leagues we race in. I'm conscious there are quite a few that are a bit of a mooch to get to, so what I'm looking for are two bits of feedback from you all.

1) Would you like me to register your interest for cross country (fees are very small usually about £6 per full league, Liverpool also has its own small fee for the British Athletics chip timing) you must be a fully paid up member of A&T with UKA/EA registration up to date to enter XC races.

2) are there any races that clash with other events you are doing - or you feel are just that bit too far away this year.

Personally I'd rather we had a great turnout at the more local events - fly the A&T flag. I'll set the club champs races based on the feedback I get.

Please let me know asap as the registrations take quite a while to load, so the sooner the better so I can then get us all on the lists.

Please reply on this post or contact me on messenger, WhatsApp, email or mobile. 07971993903

Cross country fixtures 2019-2020
28/09/19 - Ulverston GSK - ML
12/10/19 - Leigh LSV - RR
19/10/19 - Manchester Heaton - SELCC
26/10/19 - Bolton Leverhulme - RR
09/11/19 - Todmorden Centre Vale - RR
09/11/19 - Hyndburn Wilson - ML (Clash)
23/11/19 - Manchester Heaton - SELCC (clash - this race won't be in the champs league but you can still run it if not doing Liverpool)
23/11/19 - Liverpool Sefton - ML & British Athletics Challenge (sep entry fee/chip timed and this will be on the club champs list)
30/11/19 - Rossendale Marl Pitts - RR
11/01/20 - Burnley Towneley - ML
18/01/20 - Oldham Tandle Hill - SELCC
08/02/20 - Blackpool - ML
15/02/20 - Chorley Yarrow - SELCC
29/02/20 - Lancaster Rylands - ML
28/03/20 - Leigh LSV - ML (reserve fixture only)

Anyone can run cross country. Ideally XC spikes would be best, trail or fell shoes would be ok, the flatter less muddy races like Leigh you could manage in road trainers at a push. Any questions please do ask me.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Eddie’s Revenge Fell Race

A/S 6.1km/323m, 3.8 miles/1050' (GPS permitted).
Middleton Harriers were the hosts of this race which is part of the Run the Moors championship this year. The race website describes it as a lung-buster and it certainly lives up to its billing. Although there’s nothing particularly steep and it’s all on trails, it’s 3.8 miles of constant ups and downs, so you run hard all the way around. You probably couldn’t design a better hill training course, so it’s absolutely fantastic as a training run.
The route starts at the bottom of a small road, and begins slightly uphill with about 250 yards before a sharp right turn through a narrow gate onto the trails. A lot of people get drawn into the trap of racing to the pinch-point but this is only the start of the longest hill in the race which does get gradually steeper and steeper, forcing the breath from your lungs and it’s easy to judge it wrongly. I took the option of starting easy and keeping my pace, so I arrived at the gate in about 40th place and whilst I didn’t push it too hard, I was in 12th by the top as people started dropping back after their racing start. The fools, hahaha!
A long quad-shredding descent follows the first ascent, and some people get carried away into attacking this straight after a long ascent, and with most of the course still to do, a few will have been regretting this decision 10 minutes later. The fools, hahaha!
The course then heads out through the forest and onto the moors with some gently rolling hills for a mile or 2 before getting to the good bit, a longish technical descent which eventually ends at a gap with 3 metal posts in the middle of it and cushions taped around them in case you misjudge it. I’d noticed some runners at the start wearing road shoes, which they would probably get away with for much of the course, but not on this descent and I pictured some of them tiptoeing carefully down. The fools, hahaha!
There’s then about half a mile through the forest trails until you get back to the quarry and you can see the finish line just around the corner. Unfortunately, even though you’re on your last legs by this point, you’ve still got about a mile of running to go, so it’s particularly galling to have to run past the finish line and many racers must have had a big disappointment here if they didn’t know the course properly. The fools, hahaha!
Eventually I got to the finish line in 6th place and Carl joined me shortly afterwards in a very creditable 12th. We chatted to some other racers, but the midges started eating us, so we headed off via some cake.
Results can be found at the link below. 

Saturday 22 June 2019

Bob Graham Round by Tim Campbell

On Saturday 15th June I completed the Bob Graham Round. Quite a few people have said “Well done … but what is it?”. So I thought I’d write a “short” blog to explain and also give a bit of a run report to share my experience. Okay, it turned out to be a long blog!
My BG journey started, as a lot of people’s do, by reading the book “Feet in the Clouds”. This is among the best written books on running and whether you are a fell runner or not, it draws you into its world through the narrative which follows the repeated attempts of a London-based journalist to complete the Bob Graham Round, interspersed by a history of fell running and his other experiences in that world, completing in races, training and meeting some of the greats. Any book that begins, in capital letters, with the line “THIS IS HOW DEATH MUST FEEL.” deserves a least a try, come on folks, you know you want to!
The book captured my imagination, but was so far out of my experience at the time that I could only really fantasise, not really being able to put it into context. That was soon to change! In June 2016 a certain Mr Simon Ford was to make an attempt on the Round and I somehow found myself roped into supporting him on leg 3, which as I knew from Richard Asquith’s book, was generally considered to be the toughest leg and would also be my first practical experience of running in the Lakes.
Let me back-track a little here and explain what the Bob Graham Round actually is. The way I think of it is this, if the Answer to the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42, then possibly the Bob Graham Round is THE Question, since the challenge is to be witnessed touching the highest point on 42 specific Lake District peaks within a 24 hour period. This is a mix of peaks that you’ve heard of, such as Helvellyn, Skiddaw or Scafell, but also others that you may not have done, with curious names such as Sergeant Man, Steeple or Yewbarrow. The other rule is that you must start and finish by touching the door of the Moot Hall in Keswick. After that it’s up to you to choose your own route, though by now most of this has become fairly established and most people choose to take a clockwise route of around 66 miles. The route itself splits fairly neatly into 5 legs, with a chance at road crossings to be met by a roadcrew with food and drink, plus to change your support runners who need to witness the Round. Typically less than half of the attempts are successful, for example, in 2018, 199 people registered an attempt and 88 completed.
At around 7am on that fateful day, I found myself craning my head up towards where Simon was due to appear on the final run off Seat Sandal, I deliberately didn’t look in the opposite direction to the start of leg 3, where Steel Fell loomed high, looking like an impossibility. Eventually Simon arrived like a steam train and after a short break we set off on Leg 3. To cut a long story short, I made it through, but only just. I’d never experienced anything like that and frankly it nearly killed me off. However, I was then inexorably drawn into the excitement of the day and followed Simon around changeover points to the end as he blasted through the route. After that day I had a new target, and putting aside excuses like kids or work, it was only a matter of time before I made the attempt myself. 
So, how did my attempt go? 
Well it started with probably the worst decision I made for the whole Round. As anyone knows who has done a marathon or ultra, a key piece of preparation is the meal the night before. As this is a solo event there was no organised Pasta Party, so I’d booked into a nearby Italian. The meal I chose was a creamy pasta sauce that was still bubbling in my stomach well into leg 3 some 16 hours later and came close to scuppering my attempt.
My start time was 1am on Saturday morning. Why that time you may ask? Well the reason was pretty basic, I wanted to run as little as possible in the dark. My aspirational schedule was for 21 hours which in theory would get me back to the Moot Hall at around 22:00, meaning that the only dark running would be on the relatively benign first two-thirds of Leg 1 where you begin with a long pull on an easy path up Skiddaw from Keswick, followed by a jog across the moors to Great Calva and finally light would come just as I got to the first tricky bit, coming off Blencathra where there’s a bit of scrambling to be done. In the event that worked out perfectly, it was great to see Carl at the start line to see me off and I was almost exactly on schedule throughout leg 1, even with a hellish bit of weather thrown in on Skiddaw and the clag closing in to give only a few metres visibility for most of the leg. I arrived at Threlkeld cricket club for my changeover on schedule, but minus my 2 support runners, 1 of whom had had problems descending Blencathra and I’d sent the other one back to help. 
The creamy pasta sauce was making its presence felt at this point and though I managed to eat some of the cold porridge I’d prepared earlier, it didn’t sit well and I didn’t eat everything that I’d intended to at this point. For any long distance running, the biggest problem can be your nutrition, so I was starting to get a bit worried.
We set off on leg 2, which starts with a short jog up a country lane and then a nasty ascent up to the top of Clough Head, probably my least favourite of a selection of nasty climbs that are part of the Round. One of the guys supporting me on this leg had never done this particular ascent before and made sure of expressing his intense joy at the experience. I’d marked leg 2 as the danger leg, mainly because, although it has some proper climbs in it, it’s also probably the most runnable of all the legs except leg 5. The danger is that you get too carried away early in your round and blow your wad before you’ve got to the tough bits on legs 3 and 4. I felt like I was being pretty sensible, but when I got to the 2nd to last climb Fairfield (it’s not fair and it’s not a field!) I really started to struggle, it felt like the wheels were coming off and I really had to push to gain the top. I hadn’t really been eating properly, but even so it was far too early for me to be having difficulty. I was getting more worried. Fairfield is an out-and-back, so reaching the top of Fairfield and feeling a little dazed, I turned 180 degrees and went straight back down. The clag was still down at this point and it was only when I was partway down the fell that I realised that my support runners were nowhere to be seen. It was their job to stay with me rather than the other way around, so I carried on, but slowed my pace a bit to hopefully let them catch up. They didn’t and I arrived at the bottom alone and paused. I wasn’t sure what to do as they still needed to witness the final summit of the leg. I was confident that they weren’t in trouble, there was nothing to fall off, so either they were lost or just really slow. At that moment I heard shouting from way up above and yelled back. Gradually the voices got louder and we finally sighted each other from about 50 yards. Thankfully they were okay and I was able to turn and carry on up the next hill. By the time we got to the top of Seat Sandal the guys had caught me up and explained that they’d taken a couple of seconds to check the maps and hadn’t realised that I’d just carried on, then didn’t know where I was. Oh well, you live and learn.
Dunmail Raise is the name of the 2nd changeover point. A fairly non-descript place on the A591, it’s marked by a large cairn in the middle of the grass divider on the road. Leg 3 has been the death knell of many an attempt and given how I was, I knew that I needed to get the right nutrition and hydration before I started up Steel Fell. Kay had made me a cup of tea which I guzzled down and I tried a sandwich which I managed most of, but even though I knew I needed it after 7.5 hours out on the fells, I couldn’t face eating anything else. Instead I decided that I’d take some food with me and Rachel kindly wrapped a couple of pieces of pizza and a sandwich for my support to carry. Simon joined me at leg 3 to return the favour and would also be with me on leg 4.
Leg 3 is a bit of haze. I know this because at one point staggering through a bog I remember thinking, “this is a bit of a haze”. I do remember a few other piecemeal things. Simon told his non-PC George Michael joke, again. Still makes me laugh though. The clag came down just before Sergeant Man and we had to circle around a bit to find it. We got caught up in a big fell race at Bowfell and I had to fight my way to the top against the tide of runners coming down. The climb up Scafell Pike (almost lost Simon in the crowds) and then Lord’s Rake up to the summit of Scafell were tough for me. But I finally, finally started to get my mojo back as I descended Scafell to the 3rd changeover at Wasdale and actually got a little emotional on the descent as I realised that contrary to what I been thinking for the previous 6 or 7 hours, my stomach was settling and I might actually finish the damn thing!
I had scheduled a long stop of 15 minutes at Wasdale, where the support team did a great job of looking after me and my support runners. The reason for the break was a bit of recovery time in advance of leg 4, because the descent from England’s highest mountain is long and tough on the legs, and then as soon as you leave the changeover point you have a massive and steep climb up a mountain called Yewbarrow, more commonly known as “Yewbastard”. Many an attempt has faltered on Yewbastard.
The long first climb started as a bit of a struggle, but halfway up, the refuelling at Wasdale really started to kick in and I began to feel, not exactly good, but capable. My dodgy stomach had sorted itself out, as had the weather. This was the point at which I really knew that I was going to finish and now it was just a matter of gritting my teeth and getting through the final 12 hills. I now picked up my speed and picked off the hills one by one, making sure that I was moving well in between them. I was also getting ahead of my schedule without really having to push too much, so although I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off, I was now starting to think that I could get to a sub-21 time, which would be fantastic. The end of leg 4 came and I got to Honister slate mine 33 minutes ahead of schedule, putting me at around 20:30 schedule.
I then had a choice, do I settle for what I have and take it easy to the finish, or push on to see what time I could get? What I knew was that my schedule allowed for a lot of spare time on leg 5, so I thought that if I could keep running then there was an outside chance of actually coming in more than an hour quicker than planned and actually get a sub-20, something that would have seemed ludicrous a few hours earlier! I decided to go for it and stayed at Honister for as short a time as possible, then started up the last significant climb up Dale Head. Anthony and Carl joined me here after having scaled Blencathra themselves earlier that day. After Dale Head most of leg 5 is eminently runnable so I went for it, hitting Hindscarth and then the final peak Robinson 43 minutes ahead of schedule. Back on leg 4 I’d had to take a couple of Ibuprofen due to a dodgy knee and it now started to kick in again on the descents, however the final decent off Robinson is a nice grassy slope, so rather than run it I decided to slide down on my bum to save my knee. It was now just a 10k back to Keswick with about 50 minutes to do it which normally wouldn’t be any problem but seemed like an insurmountable challenge at the time. However, I was still on schedule when I met Claire at the 4.5 miles point to change into my road shoes and where Dave was going to join us for the run in. Far from being the sedate group jog back into town that I’d envisaged, this was now some road running as hard as I’d done before. I gritted my teeth and got on with it, stopping to walk only briefly a couple of times on hills, but otherwise going as fast as I could manage. I’ve never been so glad to see the Keswick Pencil Museum as I was when we finally arrived in the town and looking at my watch I could see that I had around 4 or 5 minutes to go with about ¼ mile to the finish and achieve my sub-20 time. I could probably have walked it from there, but kicked on and it still gives me goosebumps to remember the welcome as I ran up the final stretch to the Moot Hall to touch the green door. Everyone on the street applauded and cheered, and if you’ve seen my finish video you can hear quite a bit of shouting from the A&T members who were there to see me. Brilliant stuff. And I finished in 19:58:33, which was well ahead of my expectations.
I couldn’t have done this without some amazing support on the day from our fantastic club. Simon has mentored me through my training and recceing and I simply wouldn’t have been there without his help. The road support from Kay, who was there from start to finish, as well as Rachel who joined at leg 3, plus Claire and Dave who joined at leg 4, and others who popped up at other points. I may not have been very communicative at times, but the support was noticed and very much appreciated. Also the help in transporting runners between legs from Kay, Rachel, Anthony, Neil, Dave and Claire. And last but not least, the A&T support runners in Simon, Carl, Anthony and Dave. All very much appreciated, thank you.
Stop the watch!!!