CHRISTMAS - 2015 Christmas in Scotland photos
On the 23rd December we drove to Steve's sisters in Hexham and spent a lovely night with Sue and John before setting off early on Christmas Day to drive to Fort William and Jon's flat! Once settled in there by 4.30pm and all packed for a couple of days hiking and bothy life we caught the 5.37pm train to Corrour arriving there at 6.30pm. We left one sack of wood there (about 20kg) and shared the other out between us so our packs already full of camping/sleeping/clothes/food were heavy! Although the weather was fairly rubbish it was better than the forecast and we made good progress down to the end of Loch Treig and along the horrid wet path to the Chiarain Bothy. We arrived at 11.30pm. We got sorted and settled down to sleep.
In the morning we woke late 8am and were slow to get going (after our full english breakfast!) so didn't set out the door till 11am which was not too good. But again the weather was much better than forecast and taking a more direct line (which added lots more climb) through the snowline we made it to the Corrour station in 2.30 hours and that's with a lovely lunch stop on top of the hill. We collected the wood and tried to retrace our steps but with better lines we climbed less and contoured more. Back at the bothy about 5pm we relit the fire and had more food, wine and whisky! A really good night's sleep and an alarm had us up, breakfasted and out by 8am! The wind had picked up and it was drizzling. The plan was to walk to just passed Kinlocheven and camp. The direct short route once again had lots more climb and it was bitterly cold and snowing on the col. A quick swig of whisky (keeps you warm apparently) and we were off down to the end of Loch Elide Mor. The wind was increasing all the time but at least it was behind us. Meeting day walkers it looked unpleasant for them battling against it.
At the Mamore Lodge we cooked up some noodles (inside the old annex which was cosy but derelict which is a shame) and then set off again to join the West Highland Way. We met a variety of walkers battling towards the wind which was now buffeting us about from behind. The forest marked on the map had been felled so we couldn't camp there and so we carried on. It was now raining and not pleasant. Reaching a Information Board it said Fort William was 7 miles and 4 hours. As it was 3pm we decided to walk all the way with thoughts of Jon's lovely warm flat awaiting us.
We marched on at a great pace using poles and the WHW was so well maintained it was easy to stride out. It got dark and now rained harder. Eventually reaching the forest we could see Fort William. Steve estimated 30 mins - I thought more like 1.30 hrs. Steve's phone rang and it was Jane from Lower Hopton wanting to leave her car in our farmyard and walk down to her house because Mirfield was flooded. We text Jim to tell him and walked on - pondering the floods at home. The road from the Braveheart carpark was very very very long and very dark. It felt like we were walking away from civilisation! Water was seeping in and we marched in unison; one goal in mind. Into Fort William, up the hill and there we were - Jon's flat.
After a make-do dinner we had lovely baths and an early night. Sunday we had a lazy day driving about and eating mainly. We met up with Nancy Kennedy for dinner which was lovely - it was a pity Jon was away but next time! Monday we wanted to walk/run but again the weather wasn't brilliant with high winds so we had a good walk up the Glen to the col between Binnien Beag and Binnean Mor, aborted all thoughts of going higher, and walked back - just right ! Tuesday we drove home and had missed all the floods.
NEW YEARS EVE - New Year's Eve and Hangover Hike Photos
Amanda and Andrew Heading came to stay and we went to our lovely local pub which was great; a right mixture of ages and music but everyone loving the atmosphere. The landlord puts on food and champagne for the toast. Amanda kindly offered to drive. I tried to moderate but obviously not very successfully as my stomach on NYD was not great! Steve and Andy just went for it !! We got to bed about 3am but had to be up at 7am to get our jobs done as we had all entered the LDWA Hangover Hike which starts in Dewsbury, comes through the farmyard, goes round to Emley and Bretton and back to Dewsbury. We had entered the 21 miles event but on getting there were actually not too disappointed to be told it had been reduced to 17 miles because of landslides.
The start time was 9am and I think there was about 40 people - some runners but mainly walkers set off. In our party we were all suffering from lack of sleep and Andy from lack of co-ordination! So not a lot was said and the pace was rather shuffly for 10 miles when Andy woke up and led all the way home! The atmosphere was fantastic and the weather cold but dry. It was so nice not to race but take time and eat cakes with tea at the friendly Checkpoints. Finishing in 3.54 hours we had some chips and a beer!! Then came home to do nothing really (but update my webpage!).
Happy New Year all - I have some good plans and am looking forward to another year. Here's to some dry weather!
22nd December - All packed for a couple of days in Scotland in Fort William; here's hoping it's not snowy as 2014 when we went! Since 15th December it seems to have flown past in wind, rain, running and a couple of parties. Our works do was at the Strines pub this year and we were joined by Amanda and Andrew Heading and Mark Pearce (a sort of team get together for "Captain Q and the Vegetables". A great night especially as we'd all booked to stay; which was fantastic and the only place I've stayed where the rooms are actually twice the size of the photos! Works Do gallery
15th December - So 8th/9th weekend ended up being two long runs in the Peak District. Last weekend was a long run on Bleaklow in completely foul weather on Saturday followed by Dewsbury cross country on Sunday. Since 2014 Dewsbury have used a modified (harder) version of the www.Hoppits.co.uk courses. There were 300 runners from 11 clubs and it was due to John Calvert that everything went well. The Cricket Club did a really fantastic job of soup and cakes as well. The route was hard but I really enjoyed it and finished 7th Lady and I think 83rd overall in about 46.20 minutes. I'm just trying to find results now.
So onto 2016 - I'm going to enter UTMB again - and should get a place as I seem to have been noticed as someone who is reasonably good by ITRA and given 658 points. With 650 points being the minimum to guarantee me a place (which I have to pay for). So here's to seeing if the system works!
Then I'm in a team for the High Peak Marathon on March 4th which is exciting as it's an all Ladies Team with Kirsty Hewitson, Beth Pascall and Jean Brown.
The Hoppits races are on Sunday 20th March
And I'm running another Training Day on Saturday April 2nd - details to be up over Christmas.
8th December - On my way to Langdale at 9am on Saturday morning with Amanda and Andrew Heading, Steve and Mark Pearce we were hit by floods before Kendal and so after having breakfast in Kendal we drove back to the Peak District and ran from there instead. The photos of the Lake District are very sad; with many old bridges washed away.
28th Nov - Sunday evening now and we're just recovering from a busy weekend. On Friday evening it was the Penistone Footpath Runners Christmas do - I was moderating in my drinking as a) I was the driver and b) I had the Dark Peak Club Champs to organise and race the following day! Steve however thought he drank four pints when in fact he had six - so woke up a bit worse for wear on Saturday!
Saturday dawned windy and cold but with some sunshine the Strines Start/Finish location wasn't too bad a place to be. Weather was due to come in about midday and dark clouds soon gathered. Everything was going to plan with Charmian, Olwyn Paxman and Mike sorting the staggered starts out there was little for me and Lewis to do. I was given the rubbish handicap of 10.02am with only about 10 fast men setting off behind me. But then again I couldn't have won my own race could I? Setting off I wasn't really sure I knew the "best route" and went on a sort of direct line that seemed rubbish and had me floundering in bracken and rushes but I was pleased when I hadn't lost any places at CP1. It was a fast line to CP2 where I sort of had an error of judgement and again went on a direct line that was truly rubbish. I was in very deep heather and it was very tiring. Reaching CP3 at last I was just glad that there were still runners about; I felt like I had been forever. I love the last descent and passing Roger Baumiester (MV70) I exchanged some pleasant words glad that he was ok.
The weather came in just as the marshalls (Rose Paxman, Sally Fawcett, Anthony Woodard and Chris Bateman came off the hills) but they were rewarded with soup and sandwich which soon cheered them up. The Strines pub was heaving with Dark Peak runners; many more than I had anticipated but the staff were coping very well and happy with the extra business. I was so pleased that the race/route/pub all went went and it was lovely sitting there laughing over a pint of F16. But home I had to go to feed the cows and then get ready for the Dark Peak Dinner! We got to Sheffield in good time and as a consequence probably drank more than we intended. The venue and meal were provided by the Burton St Foundation in Sheffield and can be highly recommended. It was a great evening and thoroughly enjoyable.
So... today we had asked Jim Roberts to help us get twelve yearling heifers across a road to another field. The heifers unfortunately weren't behaving and some set off down the road before Steve managed to get in front of them and get them back. After 30 minutes of toying and froying we eventually got them across. Then they ran straight into the shed and we loaded them into a trailer and brought them home into a shed. The weather is just foul today and I'm so pleased most of the cattle are inside now.
25th Nov - this is the link to the Dark Peak Club Champs that I'm organising - 2015 Club Champs
24th Nov - I had such an enjoyable time last weekend. On Friday Steve and I travelled to Kendal (via York so we could view an auction but we didn't leave bids) then to Kendal to the Castle Green Hotel then the Mountain Festival to meet James Thurlow and get set up for the Bob Graham film and talk. We watched a couple of other films which were interesting. The Endurance Night was a sell out so with 300 people there I was quite nervous. James asked good questions as an intro then the audience asked questions too. I really enjoyed it once I had relaxed a bit. We also watched the Spine Film and listened to Sean Conway (who has ran, cycled and swam John o Groats to Lands End) and is very funny. Afterwards we had a couple more beers at the Brewery Centre and a kebab before wobbling back to the hotel at midnight!
At 6am in the morning we got a text from Amanda and Andrew Heading to say they were snowed in (in Matlock) and would be late arriving. Looking out the window we were pleased to see Kendal only had a bit of snow on the tops. When they arrived we went into Kendal and chose films that we wanted to see for the day. It seemed wrong to be inside when the weather was so glorious but we had a long run planned in the Peak District on Sunday so I managed to contain my energy! There was a great, friendly atmosphere in Kendal town and especially in the festival areas. It was a well organised event and nice to see that visitors were using the local establishments as well. After watching enough films and presenting the Bob Graham film at 4.30pm we set off home along with Amanda and Andrew (and Taff their dog)
There was more snow at home than Kendal but the farm was ok thanks to Jim. We quickly lit the fire and got the central heating cranked up. It was freezing cold! A few jobs to do on Sunday morning then we set off with all the dogs (Tyke, Paddy, Wisp and Taff) to Langsett where we had a "little boggy as possible" run planned. As the weather was now "not glorious" we only saw 3 people all day! But we all had a good run and enjoyed the de-brief in the Dog and Partridge afterwards.
Next weekend is the Dark Peak Club Champs which I'm organsing. I'll put the details up here and on the Dark Peak website on Wednesday afternoon.
17th Nov - Today Blacker Hall Farm shop came and collected 45 calves (9/10 month old and nearly as big as their mothers). The cows are bellowing a little but to be honest as they are 6 months in-calf and due February again they are ready for a break from calf rearing!! It's good for us though as now we can bring the rest of the cows (who's calves we sold at Holmfirth Market last month) inside - which they will be very glad of now the weather is foul.
On the running front I travelled to Barley to run the Long Tour of Pendle last Saturday. Due to storm warnings the race was shortened and although I didn't feel to be having a good race I did 2.17 hours and was 5th Lady - annoyingly it was my lack of flat speed that let me down on the road run in when two ladies passed me. So it's back to some speed work this winter for me!
I'm also looking forward to speaking at Kendal Mountain Festival this Friday evening where the Bob Graham film will be shown followed by an interview with myself conducted by James Thurlow of Open Tracking . The Bob Graham film and the Alpkit film are both nominated for an award which is exciting!
10th Nov - Sorry for the lack of updates; it's been manic what with farming; moving cows and calves about, selling calves in the market and to Blacker Hall farm shop, getting the sheds ready and then the weather turning so wet that yesterday we brought 45 cows and calves inside as although it's very warm they have churned all the grass to mud outside.
And then with other things - my Training Day last Saturday went well going off the feedback. I have kept trying to improve it and now have my own laptop, projector and screen which is a real bonus. The weather was horrible to start with but it managed to clear up for the pole clinic run by Andy Heading and was very informative. Thanks to Mountain King and Alpkit for the use of their test poles.
I was also asked to speak at the Inov-8 Conference last Wednesday in Manchester which was very daunting but with the help of Lee Proctor prompting me with questions went very well. It was so interesting to learn about the huge amount of "behind the scenes" work that a company such as Inov-8 does. And funny to explain about "sticky toffee pudding" to a Japanese gentleman (it's not pudding he said and poked it with his fork so it nearly bounced off the plate!) and then next morning about porridge to an Australian!! Very cutural.
So running seems to have taken a backfoot at the moment although I did get a whole day out in Wales with Tim Whittaker and Steve Wathall reccying the Meirionnydd Round . Of course the weather had to be foul but it was warm and we did all leg 1, came into Barmouth and dropped on an open Fish and Chip shop! Then we managed part of leg 2 in thick clag and driving rain before realising that only I had taken a head torch and so it took us 2 hours to get off Diffwys in the dark. Poor Wisp got very scared on the rocks and had to be rescued; she clung to me like a cat and was so relived to get carried off. Tim's Photos
26th Oct - Last weekend I did the Elite OMM with Jean Brown and as my write up is so long I have given it a page all of it's own - 2015 OMM
22nd October - This month is racing away with being busy on the farm and racing every weekend. Last weekend was the Fell Relays and I was in the Dark Peak vets team on the navigation leg - with Kirsty Bryan Jones who is an orienteer so I was backup really. We were about 4th/5th when we set off but soon overtook one team and then had a tussle with Calder Valley which they won in the end! It was perfect weather for running but too clear to make use of Kirsty's nav skills. We finished 3rd Ladies team overall and 1st vets. Due to a change in the rules we won both prizes and so came home with lots of wine and medals each.
On the farming front we are selling our suckled calves - most go to Blacker Hall Farm Shop and the rest we sell through Holmfirth Mart . This means we have to sort them into lots, wean them off their mothers and transport them on a Tuesday to the market. With the onset of winter we are constantly moving the cows round chasing what grass is left in the hope of keeping them out as long as possible while the weather is good.
This coming weekend I'm doing the Elite OMM with Jean Brown; I'm nearly all packed. The weather is looking a little wet but at least not windy.
Then to cap it all the film that I did with has been released and I really like it. Wisp became the star of the show really! www.alpkit.com/screen-room/
13th October - it's a busy couple of months for running / social events but also on the farm as we've just bought 14 one month old heifer calves to rear as replacement cows - they are all bellowing for their milk as I type this at 7am. We rear them by hand to get them to trust us so when they calve in two years time they will let us handle them and their calves. So I'll go and do some bonding with them after writing this!
On the running front I gave myself an easier time at Langdale Horseshoe as next week is the FRA relays and the week after is the Elite OMM. I really enjoyed the race; a first for me as I usually find it too fast and very knarly. The weather helped as it was perfect. I was pleased with my time of 2.49 hours, 6th lady, 2nd V45. Dark Peak Ladies won 1st Team with Jude, Clare Oliffe and Sarah Broadhurst - the prize was lots of wine!
That evening was the Bob Graham dinner where I was asked to present certificates. This is a wonderful job seeing all those happy people with their supporters/family. Everyone feeling deservedly proud of their achievements.
6th October - With one month to go there are 4 places left on my Ultra Training Day so get one booked if you wish to come. Also entries for Trigger Race details have been open two weeks and we have 80 entries already. With a entry limit of 250 we are usually full by end of November.
Last weekend (after another massage with Jeff Cole) I raced with Pippa Wilkie as a pair on the last leg of the Ian Hodgson relays. The weather was perfect for running; overcast with no wind and just the right temperature. Dark Peak men and ladies had a good day overall especially as all teams had last minute changes. Dave Lund was sub'd in on Thursday night and it was great to see him run Leg 3 with Tom Brunt; he had this massive grin all afternoon when he finished. The Men were 4th, the Vet Men were 1st. On Leg 3 Kirsty/Nicola retained the 2nd place that Jude/Sally gained us on Leg 2. My legs were tired as usually I'm the stronger on the climbs but I concentrated on navigating even though it was clear. I was stronger on the descents and after trying a few off-piste lines I stuck to the path as it was easier for Pippa. We made a good team pulling each other along I was glad of a head start on the last road though (after a technical descent) as that is her specialty! It was a great day out and good to see Penistone Men competing too.
27th Sept - as the hamstrings had developed into painful gluts I booked a massage which worked wonders. On Saturday I raced at The Royal Dungworth - a low key Dark Peak race which is a lot of fun. Except it was short and I tried hard! I was 2nd behind Helen Elmore at halfway but Helen along with Ian Charlesworth and Ian Winterburn then went wrong even though it was very well flagged! So I came in 1st Lady and won a newly donated trophy. Steve came along and we went to the Alpkit weekend at Thornbridge; I didn't really enjoy the speaker panel format but it was a great weekend and good to see Amanda and Andy Heading. We spent a lot of time catching up with them and also watched Alistair Humphries film about walking across the Empty Quarter which was very good.
On Sunday I raced in the Penistone Hill Race. Although this is now not a FRA race it did used to be when I first did it back in 2002. In 2002 it was the first time I had raced over 6 miles and I was very nervous especially as it was claggy. I have done the race a few times since then. The Hill Race was re-established in 2013 to raise money for Penistone Sports Centre. It's a cracking hard race with good atmosphere and a huge selection of spot prizes. As usual I set off thinking "I'm just taking it easy" and then was caught by Lesley Latchem and so really tried from then on (ie most of the way round!) and managed to stay ahead. I finished 3 minutes faster than 2014 in 52.02 mins 2nd Lady and won another nice trophy!
Photos Penistone Hill Race
20th Sept - the 3 Shires was hot, fast and hard. About halfway I decided to just dig in as only an hour to go and also I started to enjoy it as running with a group of lads who were racing but out for a jolly day. They were very funny. I came 4th lady in 2.39 hours. I also redeemed myself as last year I went wrong so made sure I didn't this year.
18th Sept - Recovery is going well although I've now developed tight hamstrings and gluts after doing the Lake District Mountain Trial last Sunday. I am not sure why as I took it relatively easy but I was out for 6.15 hours! I came 23rd overall and 1st Lady which I was very pleased with as I've never won a class before. It's a great event and I try to do it every year whatever state I might be in after a long race! Stretching and massage needed. Heading to Lakes again tomorrow for the 3 Shires then the book launch although I might have to get home quick as Steve has gone off to Port Patrick to see the Irish guys that bought the prototype amphibious landrover off him last year. They are sailing it to Donagadee tomorrow setting off at 6am - so listen out for news!
I have sorted out mine and Charmian's photos of the L'Echappee Belle - along with Akunmatata (a photographer who sent me his foc - thank you). The photos show that before the race we went for a couple of walks, then there was race day, then the day after we went for a longer walk up onto the route. The other photos are named and ones I have collected to show various parts of the route. I think that explains most of the sequence of photos! They are all in the Gallery
9th September - So that's the Fell Running Champs finished on Sunday - with Guisborough 3 Tops which was awful as quite flat. Followed by the last Summer Series on Monday which was great as hardly any flat and a lot of heather / bracken. I've a few events coming up which I'll list here ---
Monday 14th Sept - World Mountain Running - Festival of Sport - the Bob Graham film is being shown at 6pm and then I'm doing Q&A.
Sat 19th Sept - Steve Chilton is launching his book "The Round, in Bob Graham's footsteps at Book Launch - Moot Hall and had invited me to be there from 6 to 7.15pm.
Friday 25th Sept - Alpkit - Big Shakeout weekend at Thornbridge, Sheffield. I'm on a panel of speakers on Friday night. It looks like a great relaxed weekend - but it's Penistone Hill Race on the Sunday so I won't be able to there all weekend.
Then later in the year - October 10th is the Bob Graham dinner, November 7th is my Ultra Training Day and Friday November 20th I'm talking at Kendal Mountain Festival which is exciting!
3rd September - I arrived home on Tuesday evening and Steve has been lovely letting me recover and do my write up. Today is a sad day though as we have taken Fernando to Bramhalls; (the abbatoir). After his fight with Hamish we had to bring him inside again and it was obvious his feet were painful; he is just too heavy for them. He had got quite grumpy while I was away and so it is the only option. But I cried when we left him.
This is my write up which I'm bound to change and add to. I've included some photos and hope to find more. L'Echappee Belle 2015
23rd August - I'm all packed at last. Many thanks to Charmian for taking a load of stuff out. 20 kilos is just not enough!!! I fly on Tuesday and will try and update my facebook page using my fancy phone when I get there. Also hopefully on Twitter where I'm @NickySpinks.
The race website is http://www.lechappeebelledonne.com/ and there is live tracking (through the Checkpoints) here: - http://echappeebelle.livetrail.net/ . I'm also going to be wearing a tracker courtesy of James at OpenTracking - http://maps.opentracking.co.uk/echappee15.cfm so one way or another you might be able to follow me around!
I'm back on Tuesday 1st September and so will post all the news on here then!!
19th August - the Bob Graham film is released !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here is a link to The BMC TV At the moment I'm the film on the frontpage - not sure where I'll get moved to afterwards. I really really like it and thank everyone; cameramen and supporters who made it possible. It's also very very special to have a film made about yourself!
16th August - Well what a difference. I went and raced at Sedbergh today although I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do two weeks before L'Echappee Belle; physically or mentally it would be destroying if I'd had a bad race. But I wanted to do something after a week of little running and decided to take it easy, pace it well and just see. Setting off I wanted to walk and at least walking comes very quickly! Followed by uphill running unfortunately but I went steady. Then a couple of rough steep uphills and downhills - going slightly wrong for 100m was annoying and lost me a couple of places. Then another rough very steep climb which I enjoyed - I could walk uphill forever I thought! Jean Brown was just behind me and knowing how strong she is at proper running (which the 2nd half) is I pushed on a bit. Then on the proper running I decided I should try a lot harder and ran most of the way to CP5. Then it's all runable and ran it I did! Legs woke up, stiffness disappeared and it was great. Off the last hill, not the best way but down to the road, tried really hard as a couple of vests behind. And into the Finish. 2.56 hours - a PB of 4 minutes and 1st Lady !!! Well chuffed.
It was great to catch up with Jean Brown afterwards - she is also doing the L'Echappee Belle and is my Elite OMM partner in October! We chatted to Ross and Catherine Litherland; who also had a rough Long Tour Bradwell and good races today; they are off to UTMB!
12th August - The film of my Bob Graham round is ready and about to be released!!! This is a trailer www.Facebook.com/Inov-8
8th August - Sorry for the delay in updating. Last weekend I ran Borrowdale fell Race. The weather was great but I found it hard probably because there was more running than navigating to do! I hoped my legs would wake up sometime and they did from Honister. I finished in 3.53 though I was really pleased; 6th lady (in 2014 I did 3.57 and was 2nd!). This week I have only ran a couple of times from the farm. Wednesday I felt great, Thursday I felt rubbish. On Friday night I hardly slept but was thinking about our Countryside Stewardship Application that I have been working on all week.
So Saturday 8th at 8am it's 13C and the forecast is for it to be hot, sunny then cloudy for the Long Tour of Bradwell. I wanted to feel better than in 2014 so set off steady chatting with Ross Litherland. All went well; I was eating and drinking a lot and the legs felt good. After Stannage there is a long drag down to Toads Mouth which went ok but going through the stile I got cramp which was disappointing as I had tried to drink a lot of electrolytes. I carried out and found the way to a wall corner ok. Coming down through an old mine workings I was just getting some crisps out when I tripped and in mid air got cramp so rolled down into the bracken and rocks yelling. A chap stopped and I felt awful; really dizzy. After a few minutes I carried on with him and we chatted and ran the valley to the last manned CP. My legs felt better than last year but the cramp was a lot worse. Mary Gillie passed me on the road out which was disappointing but now I was feeling very rubbish, very hot, a bit sick, my elbow and hip hurt and I was getting cramps absolutely everywhere. I made myself run the valley and the road but maybe that wasn't a good idea as when I tried to go through a stile at the top I got cramp badly then felt dizzy. A few guys passed me and they were all lovely and very concerned but I thought with only a mile to go I would make it. On the last descent I then followed some stupid flags leading us up the hill assuming it was a new race route which avoided the town centre. No- it was another race. So back down I went and though the town centre passing lots of people enjoying the sunshine eating ice-creams and drinking beer. That's what I should be doing in this heat I decided. I finished 3rd, in a pw of 6.46 hours. Clare Oliffe had a great run and finished 1 minute after me in 5th. Long and Half Tour of Bradwell 2015 Results.pdf
Reassuringly a lot of people suffered with all times being down 15/20 minutes. My van said it was 22C at 5.30pm. This is my last long race before going to do the http://www.lechappeebelledonne.com/ so I'm hoping it isn't hot! While running with Ross I was able to quiz him on lots of points about the L'Echappee Belle as he and Catherine did it last year. Ross's blog L'Echappee-belle-2014 He said I did more running in 33 miles today than I'll do in 95 miles there as it's so rocky underfoot and it's all climbing and descending! It sounds like it from his blog and all I can say is "Good!!!!!!!!"
26th July - Travelling to Lingmell Dash yesterday Keith Holmes pointed out I had put the Summer Series Race 8 report up. Just a "Miss uploading" - it's up now! It was a long way to Wasdale Head for this race of 4.5 miles. But whether it's lack of short race training or the effects of haymaking (2300 bales all stacked in the stone barn now) or probably a combination but I found the race very hard and felt like I had been running for 4 hours not 1 hour afterwards! I think I enjoyed some of it - mainly the descent - and was 21st in a time of 60.39 minutes. The Men's race was afterwards and I enjoyed watching while taking photos on my fancy phone! Keith and Ian did 61.20 and 62.45 so I got the very acclaimed accolade of being "Fastest in the Car" !
Photos of Ladies and Men's Race (taken by me and Ian C) and some excellent Hannah Saville's Photos Ladies Results below which you can zoom in on.
21st July - Last Sunday the hay was ready to bale but with rain forecast at 5am on Sunday morning it looked like I might get to race at Holme Moss !! We woke to rain so that was decision made and off I went. Holme Moss is an AL and packs all the climb in by a zigzaggy route around Black Hill and Laddow. Fast and runnable in-between short steep climbs. I was focussed on my ankles and the pace once again and set off slowly. A new way out meant lots of contouring on an easy path; a shame as I like the climb and the bogs but being a race organisor I know what's involved in permissions. At least then it was the usual hilly fast course. I caught Caitlin Rice at Laddow (little did I know she had raced at Snowdeon on Saturday) and we ran from then on together me pulling her to Black Hill, then chatting from there to the last mile of track/road where she chatted and I dug in! We finished together but she was recorded as 3rd. As I then got a text to say the hay would bale I wasn't at prizegiving. Well done to Julie Bembridge and Fiona Fulwood; together we got the team prize for Dark Peak! Fellrunning Briefs Results Steve Frith's photos
The hay was indeed dry and after a tussle with the headland (4 rows round the outside) the rest baled up easily. We finished at 10pm after loading the bales onto trailers.
It's a pity but since then it has been warm but humid with showers and the last two fields are too wet to bale now.
14th July - Haymaking put paid to plans to support Willy Kitchen on his Ramsay round on July 4th. Steve and I eventually finished at 2am on the Saturday having turned the hay twice on Friday, rowed it up, baled it and then loaded the 1200 bales onto trailers which we drove under cover into the sheds. There was thunder and lightning circulating all around us from midnight onwards! At least it did rain at 6am as it is very annoying to work that hard only for it not to rain!
On Saturday 11th July I travelled to Wasdale with Brent and Jim Paxman to run in the Wasdale Fell Race . This is a superb Lakeland Classic but a tough one. My 1st priority was not to tweak my left ankle, my 2nd was to pace the race well as it's easy to race the first hill and be tired after only a few miles, then as I have been under 5 hours in 2012 and 2014 - it would be nice to be under 5 hours!!
The forecast was for clag but no rain until 4pm. I opted for a vest and shorts as I prefer to be cold than hot. Initially I didn't think I was pacing it correctly as the pace felt fast and there were lots of runners in front of me. However as the race progressed my legs got going and I felt great. It was just the right combination of tired but responsive legs that never complain at the climbs nor hurt on the descents. The conditions were perfect for me - cool and with enough clag for me to be able to make use of my route knowledge but I also got my compass out and used bearings where needed. I was careful of my ankle and didn't tweak it once. I was also very strict with myself and resisted looking at my watch as I didn't want to then pressure myself into going faster if I was close to 5 hours. When I crossed the line I listened for my time from the Timekeepers and was so happy to have done 4.51 hours!! I knew I was 2nd Lady as Jasmin was 1st (in a time of 4.13 hours !!). Results
During the summer I find it hard to train consistently with being so busy on the farm so it's these weekend races that keep me going. Now I am focussing on the L'Echappee Belle race that I'm doing which is why I wanted to concentrate on my pace at Wasdale. I'm also trying out kit and shoes in preparation for the race. My latest pack is the Race Ultra 5 In the UTMB 2014 I used the 10ltr but I am going to try and use the 5ltr on this race. Initial thoughts are that it is a good tight fitting pack that would suit me if I can get all the compulsory kit into it. If you would like to learn more about my pre-race preparation then come along to my Training Day where you'll also find out if it all worked for me as I'll have done the race by then!
28th June - A hard day out yesterday doing the 10 Peaks Long Course but a good result; 3rd overall and 1st Lady in 11.34 hours. I've written it up here - 10 Peaks Long
On the farming front we have had a cow sort out as some cows had lots of grass while others had little. We also swopped Harry with Fernando - making sure that if one bull wasn't working properly the next one would make sure all the cows got pregnant. Harry was happy, Fernando thought he had been done! We won't know till February 2016. Steve has mowed 8 acres of grass for hay with our new mower which is working well; always good.
21st June - Another great 24 hours in the Lakes....
On Friday at 2pm I was given a "very special passout" by Steve my husband. There were still 100 bales of silage to be collected from various fields on the farm and I was about to ring Richard Hakes the organisor of the Dark Peak Bob Graham weekend to say I couldn't make it. But Steve said "You might as well go, you're all packed now". "Well if you insist...!" So I began by supporting Leg 1 of the BG setting off from the Moot Hall in Keswick at 6.45pm with nine contenders and their supporters. Skiddaw was it's usual cold blustery self but then the weather cleared and the rest of the leg passed quickly and easily with all contenders running well. At Threlkeld I passed up the pub in preference for food and sleep - in my van back at Thornthwaite campsite. I slept soundly and woke at 7am to learn that everyone had got to Dunmail up on schedule. Unfortunately it was raining and the clag was low so I hoped Leg 3 was going ok.
I drove round to Langdale and entered the Great Lakes race. This race has been reinstated by Ben Abdelnoor and Britta Sendhoffa and I wanted to support it as it is a great Lakeland classic race. It was a reasonable field of 78 that set off into the clag up Bowfell. I ran all the race with Kirsty Hewitson who was a stronger runner than me but I knew the way (there was one embarrassing circuit of Scafell Pike though - and all 6 blokes followed us round!). I really enjoyed it as I ran within myself being still concerned about my cold / cough and we finished joint 2nd Ladies in 4.00 hours - a few seconds quicker than in 2012 so well chuffed. A highly recommended race that deserves more entries!
I drove home to a few hours sleep before driving to Snaith for 5am to provide some road support to Paul Elliot who was cycling the Trans Pennine Trail in under 24 hours to raise money for the Childrens Hospital that has been treating his son Ruben for a brain tumour for the last year. Paul is little known in the running circles as is a dedicated family man and unable to race much but he has generously made the medals for the Hoppits Races and also the mementos for the Dragons Belly . Apart from donating it was the little I could do to help him succeed. He was cheery at 5am and spent a few minutes having a welcome cup of tea with me. I then drove to Howden for 7am where he arrived early cycling with his dad! I have since learnt that he arrived at Hornsea at 11.35am having completed in 21 hours. This is the link to Pauls JustGiving page
4th June - Great long write up as I had a fantastic enjoyable day in the Lakes supporting not attempting !!!! ......
Yesterday I drove to the Lakes to support Adam Perry on his record breaking 24 hour round - this currently stands at 77 and is held by Mark Hartell. As I was unlikely to be fast enough to run alongside supporting I opted for a hill food support stop - the locations being Sergent Man, Pike of Stickle, Rosset Pike, Esk Hause then Great Gable. I planned to spend the whole day on the hill from 11am to midnight along with Wisp my dog. Having suffered all week with a sinus cold it maybe wasn't the best plan but I knew I could take it easy and really wanted to be there.
It was raining hard in Yorkshire at 6am but hot and humid in the Lakes at 8.30am. Adam was cracking on at a fantastic pace at Threlkeld when we saw him through. Charmian and Steve then drove me and Wisp to Langdale so we could walk (run in Wisp's case) to Sergent Man. Although I tried to take it steady I was sweating cobs it was so humid. On the summit the clag came in and it was raining. I was glad of the Storm Shelter I had taken. I set up the food stall and stove etc then (as the rain stopped) ran about taking photos. Adam came through 5 minutes down looking a bit stressed. He took oranges and a gel from me and ran off. I quickly packed up and got across to see him off Raise. He was eating then and looked better; it was cooler on the tops. I ran to Pike of Stickle and waited for him to do Harrison and then Loft Crag. It was stunning looking out. When he got to me he had made a minute back and set off down some nasty looking scree to Langdale with his supporters behind.
I then had a couple of hours before he re-ascended to Bowfell so checked out the Joss line from Raise to Rosset Pike. On Rosset Pike I realised I had underestimated the amount of food me (and Wisp) needed. So she got her first rice pudding while I had anything she wouldn't eat; bananas, bars, fruit salad. Tea and coffee were mine too. Adam arrived still 4 minutes down but looking good. I followed them up Esk Pike thinking it would be ok but was left gasping (along with Geoff Briggs who had been waiting at Angle Tarn). We climbed into clag and they disappeared off the summit to Allen Crags. Geoff and I ran to Esk Hause and waited for ages. Adam had lost more time when he arrived but the clag was thick and not shifting. Geoff and I walked down towards Styhead talking about the Joss line off Great End that I wanted to recce. He suggested finding it from the bottom and as I had 5 hours before being needed on Great Gable I agreed. He gave me some food which was gratefully received; fruit cake by me, cheddars by Wisp.
Me and Wisp found the line back up Great End ok and back down again - with the help of my gps which felt sort of lazy but I didn't want to end up down the wrong gully; it would be a long time before anyone came to find me!! Back at Styhead path I fed Wisp another rice pudding with her biscuits and cooked up the Mountain House Lasagne for me. Only on tasting the meal it was disgusting. Not flavour disgusting; it was bitter and tasted off. On looking at the Best Before date it read 2013 but then I noticed a hole in the packet as well! So that was that; I tipped it out in front of Wisp but even she wasn't that keen. By now though she was realizing that food was scarce and so ate it.
Thirty minutes later I was weaving about trying to climb Great Gable feeling wiped out. With the prospect of actual running support ahead this wasn't good so I stopped and made up the Mountain House in date Custard with Apple. Absolutely scrummy !! Then I got a call from Lee Proctor asking if Adam had bailed. I had no idea; it was about 9pm and he was due on Gable at 10.50pm. I reached the top, text Charmian who didn't know anything so I stayed put and watched the cloud inversions. At 10.15pm I was making coffee etc when I got the confirmation that he had bailed so me and Wisp ran down through the clag and dark to Honister to the warmth of Charmian's van and some proper food!
Adam called by Honister to make sure everyone was off the hill and said by the top of Yewbarrow he was 14 minutes down which was virtually impossible to gain in the dark and clag. It was a good decision I think. Photos of my day
6th June - Not a weekend I want to repeat in a hurry. .....
Friday evening Steve starting mowing with a mower that we bought last Monday (second hand but still a lot of money to us). Three times round the field and it was making a right clatter and on looking underneath the cogs had jumped out of line and so it was cutting itself up. Steve rang the dealer; no answer so he went and put our old mower on and mowed the fields with that. I debated going racing with all this going on but there was nothing I could do at home so....
Saturday - I drove with Keith Holmes and Dave Lund to Ennerdale only to find that the race had been cancelled but there was a short, flat course on offer. We decided that as we'd driven for 3.30 hours we would do that but it was a 17 miles of fellrunner's nightmare; 650m climb, 7 miles paths and 10 miles gravel tracks. I would have stayed at home if I had known. My the plan was to stay in the Lakes and support Andy Heading on his BG. He had postponed from 8am to 8pm on Saturday due to high winds so I decided to come home and travel up again on Sunday morning with Steve. Arriving home the dealer (Eric Townend) still hadn't returned any of Steve's calls so another worried sleepless night.
Sunday - The alarm went off at 5am, we walked round the cows and set off to the Lakes at 6.30am. Andy had set off at 8pm anticlockwise and although some time had been lost he was going well. I was due on Leg 4 (Helvellyn) at 9.30am. Just as we got to the M6 we got a phonecall to say he had aborted on Esk Hause. He had started being sick and had lost too much time. So we returned home to the broken mower. Steve rang lots of people about the mower to find out how serious it could be. We discussed our options and chances of getting our money back. A mower expert called in and said it was likely to be serious and costly. Steve then drove to Huddersfield to see the dealer in person. I was too jittery to do much while he was off. But he returned with good news. The dealer was a little reluctant to take the mower back but after Steve had explained everything to him he agreed and wrote us a cheque out. So we are back to square one - using our old mower but with money to buy another one. It is such a relief to have got it sorted out; I'm ready for a beer and bed!
31st May - Last weekend we had a quiet time after planning to go to Scotland our van decided it was going to stutter and stammer about it so we stopped at home! I ran up Mickleden and over Outer Edge with the dogs practicing running up hills!
Farming is steady at the moment - we haven't silaged yet as the grass hadn't grown enough. Now it has but it's raining! The cows are happy as it's cold (so no flies) and they have lots of grass. We still have one cow left to calve but are going to sell the last 3 that have calved as they are so out of sync with the others that they just get in the way all summer.
Yesterday I ran in the Duddon Long Fell Race - 18 miles (and my fancy watch said 1754m climb). My best time was 3.53 hours in 2008. I haven't ran the race since as it wasn't one my favorites; not long enough climbs, lots of contouring and too runnable ! But I set off feeling good and ran the long track section quite steadily. As soon as we descended to the road I tweaked my ankle which was very annoying and made me even more cautious on the descents. But I was climbing well and the weather was just right for me. I diodn't really need to navigate as there was a long line of people in front and generally the going was better than when I reccied it last November! I was have a tussle with Hazel Robinson; who is a very good descender but managed to pull away ascending after Three Shires road crossing only to have a massive tumble on the narrow path bashing my other ankle and my knees. That shook me up a bit but I ran on running strongly uphill but descending like a right pansy. I was glad not to be caught on the last boggy descent to the finish! I finished 10th in 3 hrs 37 mins so was very pleased with the result. Duddon Results 2015 There is also a splits tab which is interesting viewing!
17th May - I got home last night at 2am after a very busy day in the Lakes. At midnight on Friday I set off on Leg 1 of the Bob Graham supporting Yiannis Tridimas. The weather had said the showers would clear but we got some rain and very strong winds all the way. Skiddaw was it's usual blustery self and with the clag down it was a good thing I had been there recently. Yiannis ran strongly and completed the leg in 4 hours; his target time. I hoped the wind would drop for him during the day.
I slept in the van at Threlkeld then drove to Langdale to meet Jean Brown and compete in the Old County Tops. Setting off at 8am the pace was blistering and I was regretting my decision to "double up". At least I got some respite climbing Helvellyn although the wind against us was cold and hard work. Jean descended like a woman possessed and after tweaking my ankle I couldn't keep up. We worked well as a team throughout the day after that. It was tough on the tops with a strong cold wind and every time we descended we were glad of the shelter. I could only think of Yiannis; exposed all day to it.
Although we hadn't seen anyone into or out of Cockley Beck we saw lots of runners in front and behind us on the out and back to Coniston Old Man. I was tired of the wind now and glad that we were heading home with the sight of runners behind spurring us on! We finished in 22nd overall in 8.28 hours. 1st Ladies Team and a new course record which we were extremely pleased with! OCT Results 2015
Trying to get news of Yiannis I drove to Keswick but nothing came through so I waited till 11.30pm (sleeping, eating, relaxing) then drove home. At 1.30am I received a text from Yiannis saying he had stopped at Yewbarrow then parked up at Honister where there wasn't any signal. It's a shame but in the conditions not surprising. He did very well to get that far and I'm sure in good conditions he would get the record for the oldest man to have completed a Bob Graham.
15th May - Last weekend I ran the Stretton Six travelling with Keith Holmes, Ian Charlesworth and Lesley Latchem. I was hopeful that the course would suit me with lots of ascents and descents as I don't think my speed on the flat has returned yet (if I had any pre BG!). It was a great course with some flat running where I was passed by hundreds! But overall I really enjoyed it and came 14th women, 2nd V45 beating Keith, Ian and Lesley so it's a good thing I had brought cake to appease them all! Mercia Fellrunners Results
Steve went to Romania on Wednesday to marshall at the Transylvania 100k organised by Andy Heading and I'm looking after the farm which is quiet as 99% of cows are outside. We have three stragglers left to calve and 89 calves now. However this weekend I'm doing the Old County Tops with Jean Brown. I am really looking forward to this race which I have done twice before.
3rd May - I've just returned from a very quick trip to visit my parents on the Isle of Lewis. It all came about when Pennine Animal Welfare posted a photo of a lovely Alastian cross. Penny and dad have been looking for one and were very keen on Ella (as she was then called). After many phone calls I collected her on Wednesday and drove upto Ullapool with her and Wisp on Wednesday night stopping a lot for walks on route. We all caught the ferry on Thursday morning. Both dogs were amazingly good. I stayed the night then caught the 2pm ferry back (with Wisp happily waving Bella goodbye from the ferry; I have never seen a dog look so relived!).
Wisp and I then drove to the Lake District to meet Jean Brown and recce the Old County Tops on Saturday. Waking at 7am at Langdale the weather was lovely but by 9am it had clouded in. Having not seen a forecast I packed more stuff rucksak. It was a good thing as the weather was foul on Scafell and again on Coniston. Our hands, faces and legs were battered by driving hail / sleet / snow. It was a good recce though and we were both pleased with the day's running. Wisp was very happy to be rewarded with a full day's running after all that travelling!
I've added photos to the Gallery and a video to You Tube
27th April - last week was taken up with turning cows and calves out - Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. This involves getting a whole shed full into the yard (45 cows with calves) sorting out the ones we want to put out, dehorning the calves and vaccinating the cows. Then the long process of taking them 2by2 in the trailer to the field. Tuesday and Thursday were very long days. On Friday we then sorted 20 cows with calves out to go on a field next to the farm so it took half the time as no trailer work!
My birthday was the 22nd but we went fencing (my choice!) then out for tea! We have put Fernando, Elvis and Harry out into their separate groups of cows.
Last weekend my brother Charlie and his wife Carol, and daughter Lottie came Yorkshire. We had a lovely weekend with two good (for a 3 year old) walks!!
Today we got the "fold yard shed" group into the yard and sorted them into two groups; the bulling heifers (13 of) and the stores (12 of). The stores are last year's calves which were too small to sell in November so we kept them. The bulling heifers have the pleasure of Hamish's company this summer!!
19th April - I had a sleepless night as the cows were bellowing most of it; they had actually broken a gate at 1.30am (I think trying to get out!) which I had to tie up with baler band! "Next week; Out the Lot of You!!! This morning after doing the farm work (and breaking the bale spike - opps) I have sorted all the BG photos out and put them on the Gallery Now I'm making beef and potato pies then going for a short run with dogs.
18th April - The interview was on Wednesday - this is the Listen Again link. I'm on at minute 56 ish! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02n950r
This morning (Saturday) I was up at 5am to bed the cows up, then drove to the Lakes to run Teenage with Attitude 15.5 miles 7600ft ascent. I have done this race a few times now; my best time was in 2014 (pre Ramsay record) which was 3.26 hours. Today I wanted to enjoy it and test the legs out! It was warm and dry with a nice cool breeze on top. I was in sight of the 1st and 2nd lady (Kirsty Hewitson) most of the way round but didn't catch them and don't know the final times. I did about 3.39 hours and remained 3rd Lady; which seeing as I really did enjoy all the race, looked at the views, gave Yiannis a hug and chatted to people while running I am really really pleased with. The quads need a massage; they were complaining on the first descent but apart from that the legs are working well.
UPDATE - I've been bumped to tomorrow on Radio Cumbria - 5.50pm Sorry if you're now all listening to some politician waiting for me to come on instead of enjoying this lovely evening out running !
14th April - Emma from BBC Radio Cumbria has contacted me and plans to interview me at 5.50pm this evening BBC Radio Cumbria about the Bob Graham record. I've also had a news piece in the Westmorland Gazette and a great article in Womens Running UK so hopefully I will inspire more women to get out there and try mountain running. We certainly have a good presence in road running now.
13th April - Many thanks to the people who came on my course and made it a successful day. I was slightly nervous to start with but you were a great audience and I really enjoyed the whole day. Even I had ran out of things to say at the end ... but have since thought of more snippets of information for next time!!. Many thanks to Colin from www.MyRacekit.com who drove from London to bring all the poles we practised with and to Andy Heading; the organisor of Transylvania 100k who ran the pole clinic and took this photo. I will be running another course - maybe November but definitely in March / April 2016.
I have uploaded the bulls feet film onto YouTube They were very good but when we got them out again the next day they wee very reluctant. It was good practise just to feed them and let them back into the safety of their pens! We have had 87 calves born now and only 5 more to calve. The warm weather was making the grass grow but it has stopped again now so we're not hoping for an early spring.
Inov-8 took what I wrote below and created a blog from it here Team Inov-8 Nicky Spinks I think it reads exceptionally well. Thanks Lee!
And big news on the Fundraising front - Colin Driver made a donation on my JustGiving page which brought me upto my target of £4500 A big thank you to him and all my donators. Hugo Iffla (from Odyssey) has thanked me on Facebook and Caroline Frith has donated to me as she is on the waiting list for one of Odyssey's courses. Knowing that I would like to up my limit hoping that I can help provide another courses for her so anyone still wanting to donate; please go ahead.
8th April - I spent most of yesterday unpacking and writing; it's a good thing I have an understanding husband. But actually I did want to rest my hand as we had booked the foot man for this morning to come and trim the feet of eight cows and all four bulls. That was done this morning - and this time I was the camerman and will upload the films later!
I have just finished my write up of the day; I hope you like it- Bob Graham Record 2015
6th April - Just home from my Bob Graham attempt. The weather was fantastic with cloud inversions all day which meant the valleys were colder than the summits! Thanks to all my supporters and everyone who turned out to clap me passed - both on the hills and at Newlands; that was a reception I will never forget! I was just about on track for 17.15 at Dunmail but I badly cut my hand on Leg 1 meaning I couldn't climb Broad Stand plus the ever increasing heat on the tops I lost time from then on. The schedule was a tough one to stay one and there was no room for making any time up - however I tried!
So I finished in 18.06 hours and am pleased to have shaved 6 minutes off the Ladies record. I think it shows that when I run in the rain I'm not as slow as I think! I'll be writing up the full day soon - first I have to unpack the van!
3rd April - What with more calves born (now 85) but a poorly cow (only digestive but she was critical yesterday) and lots of re-packing to do - I'm now travelling up on Saturday morning and will be at the campsite from 1pm.
Then follow links below to track my progress me. Thanks.
2nd April - Sunday it is then. I would be gutted not to attempt now - it's obviously wet but the forecast is good and once off the Langdales I'm mainly on rocks and ridges. There is also the question of snow so not ideal conditions but I hate the heat so have weighed up the pros and cons of going versus waiting.
I'll be heading up on Good Friday and won't be able to update this website until I return so keep an eye on the links below, Facebook and Twitter.
Fell Running Forum
Dark Peak's website and Twitter pages
Inov-8 Nicky Spinks Blog page
1st April - Friday rain, Saturday ok, Sunday very good. So I'm contacting my support now but looking to set off at 4am on Sunday 6th April.
31st March - Looks like either Saturday or Sunday going off the Norwegians forecast.
This is the link to the tracker; many thanks to James Thurlow (tracker), Rob Marriot (techi bits) and James Kirby (graphics) http://spinks.opentracking.co.uk/
30th March - Well I spent all weekend planning and packing for the BG; all the supporters bags anyway! I still have clothes bags to do especially as I don't know what the weather's going to be like. And onto the weather !!! ..... it's not very inspiring but the Norwegians www.Theyr.com are forecasting a reasonable day on Saturday. There is however lots of rubbish coming across the UK before then so more snow could pose a problem. I hope the Norwegians are right but remember Paddy 2007 and Paddy record 2013? They were right then! What I need is the Norwegians and the BBC to agree.
Anyway back to farming - Steve has had the worse Man Lurgy ever (glad I'm not a man) and now a very bad back. But today we got the bulls out into their yard for the 4th time and even made them wait (and they are not patient animals) in the race while I cut their tails and de-loused them. So they should impress the "ladies" now. Next up ... podiatrist !
Keep watching here for news of the big day. And for a link to the tracker that http://www.opentracking.co.uk/ have sent me. Thanks to http://www.inov-8.com/ for a nice parcel of tops and leggings; I went for a run and actually managed to wear everything (doubling up) except the two hats (which would just have looked silly).
22nd March - I hoped to make Wolf's Pit today but we had too much work on. The bull yard is finished and it was time to get them out! We took Go Pro videos and I've uploaded them onto YouTube Elvis and Harry and Fernando and Hamish . Overall they were very well behaved and so we hope to repeat the process every week now.
I went for a run round here instead - 6 miles with Wisp, Tyke and Paddy which was very pleasant and made me realise that actually I need to rest and stretch some more before my Bob Graham in two weeks. I then mucked out the stables; now used for cows and calves as we have 80 as of last night.
BG Progress - I went to the Lakes last Wednesday to recce Robinson descent, Leg 1 and look at the snow. I was joined by Steve Wathall and ferried about (and fed!) by Charmian. I'm very pleased with the recce and feel I can do both sections in the dark now if needs be. There is however too much snow. Hopefully with this good weather it will go in two weeks.
Approaching Blencathra Summit
16th March - A very busy week as we're trying to finish the bull yard at the farm then I was getting organised for the Hoppits races yesterday and wanted to race Haworth Hobble on Saturday which meant I was marking up the courses at 7pm on Saturday night! But all went very successfully so it was worth all the work.
The bull yard is nearly finished - it just needs a few gate catches then painting then we'll let the bulls out and see if they can destroy it! They are getting very frisky as spring approaches. Seeing as we have had 75 calves born in 6 weeks I'm not surprised they are frisky but we can't put the cows out till mid April at the earliest so they will have to wait.
Haworth Hobble is a race I don't like as it's 32 miles of mainly tracks and very good paths over flattish ground. However I wanted a last long race before tapering before my Bob Graham attempt at Easter and so this fitted the bill. I was aiming for between 5 and 5.30 hours (my previous pb being 5.27 in 2009). I set off at a steady pace and this meant I actually enjoyed some of the race. I was told that I was 1st Lady; which surprisingly I didn't actually want. It's more pressure and I have to get my head round what I want out of the race. I decided to maintain pace and teamed up with a guy which worked well. I found I was able to run far more of the hills at the end than ever before, which was pleasing. I was trying new shoes out; Scott Kinabalus and although they had been very comfy I had tied the laces too tights and couldn't get them undone so I dunked my feet in a stream to loosen them up. This helped and I ran the last few miles pain free. A young lady came passed me about a mile from the Finish which was disappointing but there was no way I could out sprint her. I finished in 5.07 hours and 2nd Lady. Thanks to Charmian who popped up everywhere and to all Retford runners on their 1st Ultra's!! Haworth Hobble Results
Also last week Inov8 posted a blog about me that I wrote last month and it all went a bit manic on Twitter and Facebook on Friday. I'm not used to all that attention and the whole world knows about my BG now! You can read it here - Team Inov8 Nicky Spinks - Mountain Running Inspiration
8th March - With a week to recover after Hpm I did the first of the FRA Championship races yesterday - Flower Scar at Todmorden. 5.6 miles and fast running on good terrain. The race set off round a football field where I digressed from 30th to 60th and thought "Oh well" then we hit the hill and everyone else slowed down! My legs carried on going and from then on I was passing ladies (it was a Ladies only race) until I was about 20th. I just tried really hard on the hills - up and down - then tried to maintain position on the horrid flats. It was a much better course than I expected and I finished 19th in 53.08 which I am very pleased with. Photo of Flower Scar - courtesy of Andy Holden Flower Scar Results
Two calves were born overnight which is good for farming but not good for sleep! We have also had No 106 calve and like in 2014 she refuses to feed her calf; just walks over him and then this morning she purposefully stood on it so I have moved him into his own stable. We have to get her into the crush morning and night and slowly poddle him up to one side where he can suck without getting kicked. I feel very sorry for the calf and we've decided that we're going to hand rear it and she is off to Bramhalls. We still have her calf from 2014 as it was so underfed we couldn't sell it last October. She is very fat and not a nice cow at all.
However today I went to Marsden and raced in the Ian Roberts fell race. I did this last year and it's a very good race with great refreshments afterwards. I thought the weather forecast was for it to be nice; it was here! But there it was cold and raining so I'm glad I took 3/4's and a long sleeved top. The race starts on a track and as usual I went backwards but then on the tussocky hill I started passing people and from then on really enjoyed the race. I was told about halfway round that I was first lady so I tried even harder then! I tweaked my ankle and bashed my knee on a flag which shook me up and annoyed me but I held onto 1st Lady and even passed a couple of blokes on the very last hill (one being Steve Wathall!).
1st March - It was the High Peak Marathon (otherwise known as the Derwent Watershed) on Friday night. For 2015 I had joined a new team of Simon Patton, John Hunt and Richard Patton however Richard developed flu at the last moment and so Mike Nolan thankfully agreed to be our substitute. Setting off at 11.44 pm there were only two teams behind us and so we had a lot of teams to catch. 50 teams enter and start at intervals of 1 min. Both Simon and I were suffering with heavy colds as well but John was in very good spirits! The pace to Moscar was reasonable; I was worried as I always struggle on the roads running against men but it seemed ok. With heavy legs though I got some food down early hoping that I would wake up once on the moors. There was a very cold wind and it was overcast. We ran well and overtook lots of teams. I was always at the back; it was Mike and John leading. From Moscar Simon and I navigated although it was still clear and the route easy. My legs still felt heavy climbing and running uphill which was worrying but I was managing to keep up. Across Outer Edge I found it hard running against the strengthening wind and was glad that Simon was navigating so I could just concentrate on running. We were mainly on our own but could see lights ahead and behind. We caught more teams and knowing the way I went to the front and tried to increase the pace but Mike couldn't keep up so we slowed down a bit. Across Bleaklow the clag came down and I faltered in my navigation and so we went wrong. With help from Simon we adjusted our bearings and incredibly came onto the Pennine Way exactly where we needed to be. The Wain Stones checkpoint was in the correct place which helps and from there we ran down to the Snake top road. We were all looking forward to some tea and food but there was none. (unbeknown to us the support vehicle had got stuck and the organisor Richard ended up bringing the food up in his car). We just left feeling very deflated. Mike especially would have benefited from some sustenance but we all needed water. We dug what was left of our own food out of our rucksaks and shared it out. My cheddars although nice, were too dry without a drink! Climbing onto Kinder Mike was wobbling slightly and so I gave him a helpful push from behind; he later said that that was the highlight of the night for him "Having his bottom felt by Nicky Spinks on Kinder"!! Mike perked up after a gel and we jogged over the plateau of Kinder quite well catching one team and not being caught. Time was slipping away though and our hopes of sub 9 just weren't going to happen even though we upped the pace across Rushup Edge. Running into to hall we achieved 4th place in a time of 9.11 hours.
Sportident - High Peak Marathon Results
27th March - not a good high Peak Marathon preparation week - so many calves born; mostly at night! We're now upto 58 on Thursday night. It's unbelievable but very tiring.
23rd Feb - Just had a great weekend in Scotland at the Fort William Mountain Festival. Charmian and I drove up on Friday and my talk was at 7.25pm that night which was great as I could relax afterwards and enjoy Finlay Wilds excellent talk on his Cuillin Ridge record run. The talk was well received which I'm pleased at; I don't ask people for feedback because most people would say it was good to your face I think. But loads of people were coming up and telling me they enjoyed it.
On Saturday I went up onto the Grey Corries from Spean Bridge with Jon Gay. There had been a lot of snow on the Friday and it had covered the ice up! The weather was windy and some showers to start and before we had layered up properly we were both cold. Once on the ridge though the sun cam out and it was glorious; still very cold as you can see from photos. We made good progress and were hoping to climb Spinks ridge and get to the Nevis Range Ski centre to meet Charmian. Spinks Ridge looked formidable and on my own there was no way I would have tried it but I trusted Jon. We climbed up through powder but finding ice beneath we puts crampons on. Higher up we could see cornices of snow and couldn't remember where the land was beneath it. Jon wasn't happy and if he wasn't then I wasn't!! So we aborted. The run down the valley turned into a very long walk through the soft snow and bogs. It was followed by 5km (which felt like 5 miles) of tracks to get us to the Nevis centre. Reaching Charmian at 6.45pm we had been out 9 hours. Left; Spinks Ridge to my left level with my elbow
As the Climbing night started at 7pm we drove straight there and being an outdoor community our leggings and gaiters were par for course! The talk by Ines Papert was mind blowing; not only the climbing but the discomfort they go through - to get to the climb and then on the climb. I would like to try hanging on one of those little ledge camps though! My toes were throbbing by the interval so we went and changed back at the B&B.
Sunday the weather was rubbish so we had a leisurely drive home via a supermarket so that I could buy Steve a present as he had been working all weekend. Five calves born - vet out to one large calf. Now upto 35 ish and going well!
Spinks Ridge to my left.
18th Feb - I apologise for the lack of updating. My new computer had some teething issues and I've been working hard on my talk for this coming Friday as well as sorting new maps for the www.Hoppits.co.uk races. Then I've actually been doing a lot of running! On the 7th Feb after a night of calving twins I ran Wadsworth Trog but just took it steady as I was tired and came 4th in 3.17hrs Trog-2015-results which I was pleased at. I followed that with a HPM recce on the Sunday. Last weekend I did Windy Hill which I was expecting to be a lot of tracks and stone flags so was very happy to find that there was a lot of muddy paths and peaty sections; I was also 4th 1st V40. I followed that by Retford XC which was a delightfully muddy course and I was 4th again! Then on Monday I did the Winter Monday race and felt very heavy legged but tried very very hard as I wanted a bonus and just managed it by 4 seconds and that's without knowing what time I had to beat!
Farming is busy - last night we had a very noisy cow calving at 1am then at 4am she was bellowing again so I went to have a look and her calf had managed to get through the gate and was poddling round the yard. We have only been calving two weeks and have 26 calves; sounds a lot but there is 90 to calve by 10th May so we've a little way to go yet. As the weather is good we have also been working to get a bull yard put up round by the bull pens so that we can get the bulls out and sort them if needed. Also they need their feet doing; I'll post photos of this when it happens!
The start of Windy Hill - thanks Dave Woodhead for the photo and the encouragement!
1st February - I did the Kinder Trial yesterday in good weather although the roads were dicey and the course had been shortened due to lots of snow on the tops. I set off fast and it was hard to get my navigating head into gear with all the snow. Luckily being at the back of a staggered start meant quite a few people had gone first and had trodden down all the snow into a nice trod. Finding CP1 is always good and soon after I caught Kirsty Bryan Jones. We to'd and fro'd for a while as I'm a faster runner but she is a top class orienteer so when I stop to look at the map she sails passed!. This went on for most of the way round until I decided that instead of getting lost in Hayfield (which would be very embarrassing) I would stay with her till the finish. We chatted away and had a great time really. We finished together but because of the time difference I was 1st and Kirsty was actually 3rd so I didn't feel too bad at winning a superb Suunto gps watch.
Today (Sunday) I had entered Mickleden Fell race but it was cancelled so I went and did cross country at Worksop instead. I set off and the legs felt light (that's not normal). I had a battle with Dave Pickering from Retford and eventually he won as there was a long flat section to finish. But I am very pleased with my third place,
I have been very busy this week putting together my talk for the Fort William Mountain Festival and also an event I'm running in April following the success of last year's event Run with Nicky .
I have also taken the plunge and entered the 10Peaks but Long Course not the Xtreme this year. Paul asked me if I had any tips for Bob Graham / Ultra training and was delighted with my reply; I think after eight 24 hour rounds I've learnt most (but I doubt all) of the things to know!!
30th January - Last weekend I went to the Lakes to recce leg 5 and leg 1 of the Bob Graham. I chose a good weekend for snow melt but not so good for weather! Setting off from Honister at 8am with Tim Rippon and Steve Wathall we made very good time to Keswick arriving at 10.30am. We had a break in a cafe while waiting for James Pierce who joined us for leg 1. Across this leg the wind and rain really descended on us with Blencathra being extremely dire. We were frozen stiff by the time we had slithered down Hall Fell and it was lovely to reach Charmian in their campervan for hot food (pot noodles to be exact!).
24th January 2015 - it's taken me ages to write up the holiday; mainly because I've been busy farming, Trigger and running! Also I wanted to do a good job. I think there will be mistakes but here it is ... Bolivia and Peru 2014
I've got back into running after the Trigger although my legs were so so stiff. A couple of massages though with Jeff Cole and I feel a lot more flexible now. This afternoon I'm off to the Lakes for a day of running; really looking forward to some English hills again. Though maybe the weather isn't so hot!
12th January 2015 - For those of you that didn't know - Steve and I went to Peru and Bolivia over Christmas. We got back on Thursday 8th Jan and then were very busy organising the Trigger race. The race was yesterday and a massive success with 198 runners starting and 190 finishing (8 retired onroute). I'll write a longer report this weekend as I'm still catching up on the farm, with running stuff and Trigger results etc.
The holiday was fantastic - warmer and sometimes wetter than here. We went to Arequipa and Cusco in Peru, and Samara (for Christmas and to see the salt flats) then to Sorata to hike for 8 days at 3500/5000m.
I'll write up the full holiday diary and put the photos up this week.