Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tuesday Night Run - 30/08/2011

Well, the last run of August has come round all too soon.

Tonight we went up from Stretton via Snatchfield Farm under the Ragleth, then through the woods under Hazler Hill to come out at the top of Hazler Road. My legs felt a bit tired on this section, which I put down mostly to the fast running on Sunday.

Then we headed up to the Gaer Stone and the climb must have woken me up a bit, because I then ran the rest of the ascent to Hope Bowdler Hill and Battlestones at the front of the group, chatting to Ruth as breath permitted.

At the Battlestones we had a minute's silence for Roger Lamb, a Mercia Member who has recently passed away. Roger apparently loved the Cardington Cracker race, so this was a fitting place to remember him. As we stood there, the sun emerged from under the blanket of cloud to the west, lit the landscape and then started to set.

We got going again down to the tin shed at the bottom and then up along the boggy right of way to skirt the head of the valley to Cwms Cottage. We said goodbye to Adrian here as he headed down to save himself for his BG attempt, and then climbed Caradoc. At the top I was feeling good enough to indulge in a little doubling back to get the group back together (although Tom was already well in control!). I tooke the descent down past Three Fingers slowly - the sprained ankle is still sore, and I wanted to go steady on the right achilles I'd irritated at Ellesmere - but it was good to see some other members of the group descending with abandon, or indeed without control...

5.7 miles and around 1,300' of climbing tonight, so quite a gentle one.

Next week there will be the opportunity to run from Stretton to Bridges where liquid refreshment will be taken in honour of Tom's birthday before a lift back to Church Stretton. We'll get enough cars over there to bring 16-20 people back - I'm sure there will be enough headcases that any lack of spaces in cars will be met with offers to run back.

Bits of LMH Recce - 29/08/2011

Just a couple of (mostly) walking recces done to:
(a) check the best short cut up to the Stiperstones check point from Black Rhadley (as I'd cycled past this on Saturday)
(b) find a good descent route from Corndon Hill

Both jobs done! Some pics to follow.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ellesmere 10k - 28/08/2011

Top two thirds of me (473) with new streamlined hair in the charge at the start
Pic from
I feel dirty. Today I committed un-natural acts with tarmac. Instead of driving or riding my bike on it, I used it as a surface to run on. OK I used my trail shoes and I tried to run on the grass where I could, but it's still a horrible thing to have to admit. Also, where were the hills? Someone told me there was 91 feet of ascent. I just thought that must have been a misprint, and there should have been 910', but no, they were probably right. I did manage to overtake people on the two short uphill sections though!

I entered almost on the spur of the moment having come really to support friends. I had no idea how quickly to go or anything like that, having only done one 10k before (and that was advertised as a trail 10k and had climbing in it). I guessed I'd be pretty happy with around 8 minute miles (i.e. anything under 50 minutes).

The registration and set-up was very efficient, with loads of marshalls and all the traffic stopped, and timing was electronic, with chips on our shoes - a change from dibbers, although there might have been a queue if there had been 500 runners with dibbers...

I started way too fast, doing the first kilometre in 4:02, and gradually backed down to a more suitable speed.

Nice to find myself in friendly company, a few hundred metres in
By 4km my achilles was hurting and I thought I'd probably just run to the 5km marker and then retire. It eased a little though, and I kept on going. I took splits at 5km and 8km (5 miles near enough).

Running around the Mere - strangely concrete setts were easier to run on than
the loose gravel on the path. It was getting quite hard at this point (7.5km)
The sections round the Mere and along the canal towards the end were quite hard going - I was wearing my old trail shoes and they were slipping on the loose fine surface gravel a lot. I think I was also getting tired.. I tried to keep going with a bit of the old Chi Running technique, mobilising my core muscles, but I was getting cramp in my left glute and had to back off a little (I think that's the hangover of overusing it to compensate for the ankle I injured at Sedbergh).

Coming in to the finish funnel.
I did find the whole thing a bit boring too, all there was to look at was the km markers (crumbs 4 to 5 minutes seems a long time between them) and my watch.

Nonetheless I think it's probably pretty good training, although I might do a 5k rather than a 10k if I was looking for flat speed for fellrunning.

I obviously have new PBs as below:
  • 5km : 23:34 [4:43 per km or 7:35 per mile]
  • 10km : 48:00 (chip time) [4:48 per km or 7:43 per mile]
  • 5 miles : 37:53 [7:33 per mile]
The PB splits are quite interesting - I think that I had a real struggle from 8km to 9.5km into the wind along the canal, but managed to pick it up at the end. I finished 171st of 427, and 23rd of 41 MV40s. A good morning's run really. Perhaps I should have a nice recovery run tomorrow!

LMH (Tankerville - Black Rhadley) - 27/08/2011

Right. Now I know which way not to go, particularly coming off Corndon Hill!

I did a recce for the section of the hike from Tankerville to Black Rhadley, leaving the bike at Nind so I didn't have to run the road sections between there and the Bog. Bits that went well were Tankerville to Shelve, the ascent of Corndon Hill (if it goes up the road and then up the fence from the north west). Not so good was managing to leave the bike's front wheel behind in the layby at Tankerville...

Good long session out, a combination of running (mostly) and a bit of bike. More to come later...

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Summer Series Retrospective

A quick review of my Shropshire Summer Series then...

The Wrekin Streak was a non-event for me, I was saving myself for the Three Peaks on the following weekend. I did at least manage to make myself useful, marshalling at the summit.

The next race was the Caradoc Classic, just 10 days after the Three Peaks. I had a really good ascent and descent, but the steep descent trashed my feet and I couldn't really run in the field, so finished about 10 places further back than I should have.

I sat out Batch Bash, timing the juniors race instead of running to spare my achilles at the height of my struggles with it.

At Pontesbury things started to turn around with a better performance, even though I was holding back a little on the ascent and quite a lot on the descent. I ran according to plan, I just wish I hadn't let Kathryn pass me in the field at the end!

Moving on to Stiperstones, I can definitely say this was my worst race to date. Maybe not in terms of performances (I had some percentages in the low 60s when I started) but just in terms of the experience. I'd had virtually no sleep, way too much booze the night before, and a terrible day, so didn't make much of a fist of it at all. My descent was ok, but the feet were burning when we hit the road...

The final race, Ragleth Inn, was so much better. I managed to deliver on the promise I'd shown at Clee and then at Caradoc, but keep it going to the end. Indeed I think I could probably have been a minute faster if I hadn't been running with the sprained ankle from Sedbergh. I finally realised that I can push a lot harder in races than I thought, sustain a higher effort rate and be breathing a lot harder than I'd previously have done.

Hopefully this will stand me in reasonable stead for the winter series, but first there's the Wistanstow Walk, Stretton Skyline (maybe, if I'm not absolutely gone from the Walk), and the Long Mynd Hike...

Ragleth Inn Race - 24/08/2011

On the initial ascent to Callow
Photo courtesy Al Tye:
I knew I had a good one in there somewhere! After Clee Hill I'd just been waiting for fitness and the course to come together. Ragleth Inn is one of Russell Mapp's races, and he doesn't bugger about. I like his courses. The Callow is like the Valleys with all the farting around in the first seven miles cut out (how many short races have 2,700' of climbing in them? Ragleth isn't quite as bad with a mere 1,250' in what's advertised as four miles but seems nearer to three, but it suits me - there's almost no flat, non-technical ground, and the route finishes pretty much at the bottom of the fell. I was in the mood too, which helps.

I zoned in on the way over from work with some loud music and a planning session. The plan was to go out very hard on the first climb, try to hold position on the initial gentle descent and reascent to Barrister's Plain, and then take it carefully down to Callow Hollow to protect my ankle. Once in the Hollow it's technical single track down the valley and I reckoned I could hold whatever place I had until the big steep reascent of Callow. I could just go as hard as I could on this then and use whatever I had left on the descent (subject to the ankle still being in one piece).

The race went pretty much according to plan. I started fairly slowly on the run in, but was passing people as soon as the climbing started. I wasn't far behind James and ahead of Gra at the top of Callow, and found myself just behind a struggling Chris on the main path climbing to Barrister's.

Very surprisingly ahead of Chris near the top of Callow
(turns out he was running with a back injury!)
Photo: Colin Williamson
I lost a few places on the way down into Callow Hollow running very tentatively on the steep descent, but did hold position on the run down the valley. I was soon on the back of a group with Gra at the front on the climb, and although there was quite a bit of passing and re-passing on the climb I think I probably only gained another place or two. I heard Eddie shout Ruth some encouragement behind me near the top and this encouraged me to get a move on and run the last 50 yards up to Terry, marshalling the summit.

I took the descent carefully, and was passed by another runner near the top, but was able to get onto Stu Tromans' shoulder by the fence (Stu was in road shoes having forgotten his fell shoes). With the advantage of some grip I just had enough to power past him above the gate and get into the finish funnel a couple of seconds in front.

Descending carefully, but with Stu in my sights!
Photo: Al Tye,
When I looked at the watch I was gobsmacked. I knew I'd had a good run, and I als knew I'd really raised the effort level on the climbs, but I'd only done just inside 48 minutes last year on a moderate effort for then. 35:58 seemed almost unbelievable for a moment. Ruth had an amazing run too, just behind me; I think this was the first 80%+ race for both of us in summer series.

I'm very chuffed that it's all come together and I feel like I'm moving up to a new level and consolidating the advances I made in the spring before the Achilles problems. I was 39th of 103 runners and the %age score was 82%.

Photos etc. to follow...

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Tuesday Night Run - 23/08/2011

I hadn't intended to run given the state of my ankle, and the fairly intense intervals session I'd done on the bike at the gym at 4pm, but felt I needed to... as it turned out I had a really good run and was glad I'd made the effort.

Numbers were down a bit this week, no doubt due to the Ragleth Race the next day, but three of us who'd run at Sedbergh did turn out.

We went up through the Rectory Wood and down the ramp into CMV, then climbed steeply behind the bungalow to the golf course. There's a good cart track leading up through the course to the fence corner under Haddon Hill, which was the next target. Once on top someone (Terry or Andy) floated the idea of going to Shooting Box and then down the Coates Cottage track, then coming back up the Hike descent route to the cross paths just north of Pole Bank. The reascent is on nice soft grassy ground and is at that horrible gradient where you have to put the effort in to run rather than do a walking ascent. There are a couple of short steeper sections too...

From the cross paths, we headed down towards the top of Townbrook Valley and on down the path back to the Rectory Wood and the car park. I took it steady on the way down to spare my ankle a bit!

Sedbergh Hills Race - 21/08/2011

Ascending to CP2 - photo courtesy of Pete Douglas
Sedbergh Hills was the third race in the British fellrunning championship and the sixth and final race in the English champs. With Mel well placed in both competitions, Em, JT and I decided to go up and run to support her. We brought Andy D up too - he's been doing well in the V40 category. There were a total of 16 Mercia runners in the field of around 360, and we put four lady runners out which would give us a good chance of improving our points total in the ladies team competition.

The race route is another of those triumphs of course planning with a long but generally not overly steep ascent to Arant Haw (CP1) to start with, followed by a run off down the west ridge and a sharp climb to Castley Knotts (CP2). From here the route follows a rising contour along the western edge of the Howgills north for 4km before turning east at CP3 and heading over a series of three cols, each with 100m to 200m ascent. You then drop down into Bowderdale (CP4) and start the long steady 300m climb to The Calf (CP5). A short flatter section should lead to a trod bypassing the top of Calders and then a long gentle descent towards Winder (CP6) with a short climb in the middle passing under Arant Haw. From Winder it's a steep descent down bracken slopes to Lockbank Farm and 300m of road to the finish.

I had a good start and reached Arant Haw in about 27 minutes, just behind Kim and ahead of Sheila. Andy H from Wharfedale (met him at 3 Peaks) took some pic of the field on the first part of the ascent and you can see a few of us marked...
Me and JT in the crowd on the first ascent (annotated)
Photo courtesy Andy Holden (Wharfeego)

Me, Em (yellow vests) and JT in the oval on the way up towards Arant Haw
Photo courtesy Andy Holden (Wharfeego)
I had a good descent for the first mile or so, staying high to make use of the path to start with. I dropped down to the traversing line many others were taking and this proved to be a mistake. My x-Talons are getting quite worn and I slipped once, then got going again, then had a much bigger fall, resulting in a sprained ankle (although at the time all I knew was that it *** hurt). I picked myself up and hobbled on down to the start of the climb to CP2.

Fortunately the lack of ankle stability didn't matter on the climb to Castley Knotts and that got me going again. I passed a few of the 40 or so folk who'd overtaken me while I was picking my way down from the fall, and then managed to get running after a fashion and only lost a few more places on the traversing paths through to CP3. By now I was pretty much committed to going on and finishing - it was nearly as far back as on to the end.

On the climbs up over the Docker Knott and Simon's Seat cols I could hear JT behind me - he was running with Em and making sure she got enough food and fluid on board on her first AL race. They eventually caught me on the way down from Simon's Seat into Langdale. JT and I looked at the ankle but there wasn't much we could do - John's first aid kit consisted of some micropore and the mandatory half used elastoplast. I tightened the laces on my shoes, grabbed some water and set to climbing the long slope that separated me from CP4. I passed Em on the climb, and JT dropped back again with her. On the descent I really struggled, having to do most of it on my backside. By the time I got down to the checkpoint John and Em were in front.

The next leg is the long steady climb to the Calf, which is on a reasonable path. I'd have run a lot of this if the ankle had been ok, but at least I managed to catch and encourage Em. She left me a few hundred yards short of the top where the ground flattened out and she could start to run, going on to take a sensible navigation option and stick with the main path over Calders and finish in a very respectable 3:33.

I ground my way up to the top and the penultimate checkpoint, then made a really stupid nav error by following someone down the side path which goes left down the west ridge of Bram Rigg Top. I'd forgotten about this being before the Calders trod. It cost me half a mile of rough contouring around a steep corrie under Calders and about 100m of "bonus" ascent, I guess 10 to 15 minutes. Anyway I did get back on the path in the end, and then had to just very gently jog down and past Arant Haw, being passed by other runners all the time now. I passed a few on the way up Winder, keeping to the same slow jog, but lost those places again as soon as the final descent started. It took an age to get down a slope I'd normally bomb down, and the road section was pretty horrible too.

I turned into the field and finished in 3:57, probably about 40 minutes longer than I'd have taken without the injury and the navigation error. We'll see next year - I'll be back. I felt strong, apart from the buggered ankle, and had a great but frustrating day out.

Thanks to all the Mercia guys who hung around and cheered me as I hobbled in! That meant a lot. I'll be putting an item up on the Mercia website shortly with details of how everyone else went on, but Mel had a great run, improved on her points from Duddon and finished fourth equal in the English champs in her first serious year of competition. Kim finished second in the LV55 competition having come second behind the awesome Wendy Dodd in every counting race! Well done to both, and to the boys who added a good team third, with the Davies brothers both in the top ten...

Lawley Recovery Run - 19/08/2011

We had a nice gentle run along the west side of the Lawley from Comley Farm to the north end of the ridge, then ran all the way to the top (very steadily) before coming back down to Comley. Lovely day, great views, good company...

3.8 miles, 880', 43:15. No achilles problems at all now, which is a good thing, because it's Sedbergh Hills next!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Raid on Calder Valley - 17/08/2011

I had a business trip to Todmorden (sometimes your luck is just rubbish like that). There are three great clubs in the area: 5 miles to the north are the Whittle and Lantern Pike races (Rossendale), there's Tod Harriers of course in Tod itself, and a few miles east in Mytholmroyd are Calder Valley Fell Runners (CVFR).

Anyway I headed up the Mytholmroyd - Littleborough road for a gentle leg stretch around the reservoirs at Blackstone Edge. I went round the south and east sides of White House Reservoir on the track, much mithered by midges, before heading up over the moorland to Wool Pack Stones. There were no tracks and it's rough up there, so after a dry spell the easiest going was through the peat hags and along the small drainage channels.

I came down between Warland and Light Hazzles Reservois and jogged back to the car on the United Utilities access tracks. The route is plotted here.

PS: Thanks for coming out and seeing me, Mum and Dad. The salmon salad filled a hole but didn't leave me too heavy to run!

Tuesday Night Punishment Beating - 16/08/2011

A very hard Tuesday night run, attended by a record 26 runners.

We went up through the Rectory Wood and into Townbrook Valley before turning left and climbing Yearlet by way of the descent route used by many in the Long Mynd Valleys Race. A direct descent almost to Ashes Hollow does actually work from here: it's quite easy to find a way through the gorse bushes despite appearances from below.

There's a traversing trod about 100' above the valley bottom, and you can't get down easily off this everywhere, so we went left towards the start of the spur that leads onto Grindle. Tom, Em and Ruth opted for a fairly desperate looking descent to the valley floor: seeing even Tom going slowly, I took an easier line a few yards back up the valley.

We duly hit the spur and continued on up another hard climb to Grindle, and then took the direct descent tot reach Ashes just above the cottage. This is a cracking run, if a little bracken-y at this time of year lower down - one of the Mynd's great fellrunning descents, and without much of a path yet either.

The return to Stretton was via the field and woods then the Cunnery Road. This ramps up fairly gently but is sustained and I took it with Terry and Noel at a fairly rapid rate...

Another good night out, only about 5 miles but with nearly 1,800' of ascent! Running time was only about 1 hour 10 minutes and the route is here.

CMV Pace Run - 14/08/2011

Quick whizz round CMV after Em had done a recce of the Cardingmill Canter route.

I went up the LMV ascent (rocky ridge) to the golf course corner, then on up Haddon, and managed to run right the way to the top (a first for me, I think). I cut round past the Calf Ridge top visited by the Gill Harris Round onto the Portway, then the road, and came down (very quickly) by way of New Pool Hollow. It's a bit vegetated in there at the mo, and you can't see all of the rock steps.

4.6 miles and 800' in 47 minutes.

Mini Mountain Marathoning Again - 11/08/2011

Another Dark and White mini mountain marathon, but sadly this time without my running partner who was on nights.

I had been held up at a meeting in Retford and only just made it in time to start before the 19:00 cut-off. The weather was pretty grim: it rained all the way round.

I had a good start but then mucked up the navigation leaving CP7 so had a very scenic and slow trip to the next one, including 4 minutes stood working out where the heck I was. Not normal for me really - usually I know precisely where I am but can't remember why I'm there...

Anyway I finished with a good uphill pull from the final CP and only 2 penalty points this time giving me 183 points from a maximum of 265.

There's a link to my route here, and I'll try to get the event map scanned and posted soon.

Tuesday Night Run - 09/08/2011

Another good Tuesday night run, heading up through the wood and down the ramp into CMV, then up the direct ascent of Haddon Hill, and round to the top of Jonathan's Hollow, returning via the Long Mynd Valleys Route.

6 miles and 1,320' of ascent in 1 hour 10 mins (excluding stops). I was quite glad of a light one given the Wrecker effort the night before.

Runkeeper track courtesy of Em is here.

Wrekin Wrecker Recce - 08/08/2011

Ran round the Wrekin Wrecker course with Em. Took it mostly fairly gently - I climbed hard on the Goaty path, Em had a go on the final ascent to the top. Mostly felt pretty good.

Kept seeing JT from Newport who appeared to be on some kind of mentalist quest to run up the Wrekin as many times as possible before dissolving in his own sweat!

Track etc on Runkeeper here.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Callow Hill Intervals - 07/08/2011

View along Wenlock Edge from Flounder's Folly on Callow Hill. We ran our intervals up
the path along the edge of the woodland on the left of the photo.
© Copyright Jeremy Bolwell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
 Every so often we have to do something a little less fun in life. Hill interval sessions is one of those times. It's good for you, but no-one likes doing it.

This time, though, it wasn't so bad, as Em had a go first and I had a target to aim at. I did five hard efforts each of 90 seconds on about a 1:8 to 1:10 graded forest path, jogging back down and resting so there were two minutes recovery between each interval. Each interval was about 250 yards of uphill, for an uphill pace (not sustainable!) of about 10:30 min/mile.

My second and fourth efforts were a little limp: I hid a little bit midway up. The first and third were ok and the fifth was pretty much full on. That said, the distance covered on each effot varied by less than 10%.

Need to try to do this more regularly now the legs are recovering, and my aerobic fitness is coming back.

Afterwards we went up to the top and were able to go up the Folly which has been restored by a local group (the Flounders Folly Trust) with Millennium Lottery money. They've rebuilt the top of the Folly which had collapsed, using a concrete ring to strengthen the structure, and put in a new staircase with a glass "lantern" at the top to provide light and keep the folly weatherproof. When the flag's flying the folly is manned and you can climb up inside. It was nice to see a local friend and fellow fell runner, Nick Kingston, manning the tower.

After a chat, and a look at the view (which included a pretty nasty squally shower), we headed off, running down the steep but direct path to Moorwood.

© Copyright Jeremy Bolwell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
We ran down the steep path from the Folly

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tuesday Night Run - 02/08/2011

Another great run at Church Stretton tonight... We had warm weather, but enough breeze to make it pleasant on the tops, and 19 runners today.

Tom and Naomi had come up with a good route, so we headed out via the top path in the Rectory Wood and then the ramp into CMV. At the fork between Mott's Road and Lightspout Hollow we went vert, climbing the very steep face of Calf Ridge, then running a great trod following a descending contour into Lightspout Hollow, hitting the bottom right opposite the start of the side gully used on the Stretton Skyline. We followed this up to the road and then ran along the road to Pole Cottage, before heading off to Barrister's Plain. From here we took the LMV descent straight down into Ashes Hollow. This was the only part of the route I had trouble with, holding back a lot because of slower folk in front of me on the descent.

The group split at Windy Batch, 12 taking the re-ascent over Yearlet to get home, the rest of us going on down Ashes Hollow and back via the paths through the woods. The bit climbing back up to the Longmynd Hotel is a bugger, just steep enough to be hard work, yet gently sloping enough to be runnable throughout... We had a couple of kilometers more than the Yearlet group, but they had an extra 200m of climbing. They were back a minute or two before us.

8.1 miles (a record for a Tuesday night) by Leyton's Garmin, and about 1,650' of ascent for us in about 01:40:00. I felt ok to good most of the way round. The Peregrines were also ok but for suspect grip on wet rock (to be expected) and a bit less assured on the steep stuff than the fell shoes (also expected). I found the heels quite hard on the faster grassy descents again.

A new plan has hatched as I'm feeling a bit fitter now - given some encouragement from friends, I'll probably run the Sedbergh Hills champs race in a fortnight. I love the Howgills and the big sweeping climbs and descents...

Monday, 1 August 2011

Run to the PUB! - 01/08/2011

At Pole Bank, just off the most direct route to the pub!
I ran from Little Stretton to the official opening of the Bridges at Ratlinghope (used to be called the Horseshoes at Bridges) tonight.

I had a great run up Ashes Hollow (ran all the way up) then to Pole Bank and down to Coates Farm, with the last 3/4 mile on the road. Felt really strong all the way despite muggy heat and was strengthened more by three pints of the excellent Three Tuns "Solstice" light zesty ale on arrival...

Mmmm... quaffing ale.

5.6 miles and 1,050' of ascent in 1:05:30. Or looked at another way 3 pints, half a pork butty, some crisps a pork pie and some excellent banter in 2:30:00.

Long Run / LMH Recce - 31/07/2011

Hot work on the summit of Earl's Hill, despite the early hour...
Today's effort was a 13.5 miler taking in the Stiperstones, Habberley, Earl's Seat, Snailbeach and the Stiperstones (again). I was partly doing a recce for this section of the Long Mynd Hike.

Starting at 0830 was a good way to get things done... I parked up at the Stiperstones car park and took the lower path past Hollies Farm and then up to Shepherd's Rock.

It was misty first thing, looking up from the path near the Hollies to the Devil's Chair

Shepherd's Rock from the Hollies
I ran north east down the ridge through Blakemoorgate and then turned east to pass through Upper Vessons Farm, before picking up the road to Habberley. There's a path across the fields here which we used on the Pontesbury Potter: it's more direct and easier than the road I think. I ran on through Habberley and out on the lane past Lower Farm, staying just north of Habberley Brook. I had to negotiate a few cows and a gazillion flies at the field gate turning north to get to Earl's Hill. I started up to the south ridge just into the woods and should have gone 200m further north which would have avoided the need to climb one fence and roll under another in the woods as I got on the ridge. There's a very steep section just above the wood before the route flattens out a bit to climb gently through iron age fortifications to the summit of Earl's Hill.

Final 200m towards the summit of Earl's Hill.
From the top I cut across to the descent down the side of the wood used on the Pontesbury Fell Race, but continued down where the killer ascent starts on the race to come out at the Nills Farm drive across fields and a minor road at the bottom. Going through the buildings at Nills Farm, I had a premature attempt to climb to the ridge at Polesgate, taking an impassible route somewhere between the two footpaths. Error corrected I headed up through the quarries in Poles Coppice to reach Bank Farm, the next checkpoint on the Long Mynd Hike.

From Bank Farm I made the long steady climb through Eastridge Wood, mostly walking, and drank the last of my water. I didn't think I'd make it back to the Stiperstones along the ridge in comfort with no more fluid, so I dropped down into Snailbeach and filled up in the loos there.

To get back on the ridge I climbed the lovely valley of Crow's Nest Dingle (OK it's a mess at the bottom by the farm, but the top two thirds is good). I managed to run very steadily most of the way up... At the top I turned left and climbed to the main Stiperstones ridge path, raching this about half a mile north of Shepherd's Rock.

Just tovary the route on the way back to the car I went via the Devil's Chair and Manstone Rock. The path on this section is very rough and I find running almost impossible for any length of time. Good practice for the Lakes or Snowdonia, though.

Think this is the Devil's Chair (R) but stand to be corrected!
The run down to the car park isn't so bad though and I was soon doing some warm down stretches before heading back to Telford.

The Runkeeper thing had a complete wobbly after about mile 8, so the mileage and ascent are from the map: 13.5 miles and 2,650' in a very very steady 3 hours 25 minutes (this included a couple of biref stops and is just under the 4mph I'd like to maintain on the Hike).

I wore my new Saucony Peregrine trail shoes (yet to be convinced - they're ok but my right foot was slopping about a bit and I think the backs might irritate my poorly achilles tendons) and also new Inov8 coolmax socks (excellent).

WE WON! D&W Mini Mountain Marathon - 27/07/2011

Dibbing at the checkpoint by Carl Wark neolithic fort

Eighteen  months of serious but talentless fellrunning and I have won something! Mostly down to having a good partner who pushed me along with the running bits, and some luck in not making too many minor (or any serious) nav cock ups, Emily and I won the mixed pairs category at the Dark and White Mini Mountain Marathon at the Longshaw Estate near Hathersage in the Peak.

Map and route details and a fuller write up to follow...

Admiring the view down Hope Valley after the event