2014 Diary


15th Dec - Last entry as I was off to holiday to Bolivia and Peru - the write up is in 2015 Diary / News

9th Dec - This weekend I did Dewsbury Park run on Saturday, then Dewsbury cross country on Sunday which was run over the www.hoppits.co.uk course !! Then I packed the van with presents and drove to my brother's Charlie and his wife Carol in Berkhamsted to have a lovely dinner with them and their daughter Lottie. On Monday it was a quick trip over to Southend to call in on Colin at www.MyRacekit.com to collect prizes for the Trigger race and talk about plans for next year. Many thanks to Colin and Elisabet for the prizes and numbers.

After driving home on Monday I collected 50 pork pies left over from Dewsbury's cross country and distributed them to Woodhead Mountain Rescue (or rather gave them to Brent so if no-one got a pork pie and Brent is looking fat then we'll know what happened to them!) and to Tom Westgate for the Warts on Wednesday! I also ran the Winter Mondays race in very icy conditions to finish off my 3 races in 3 days training!


4th Dec - last weekend I travelled to the Lakes with Ian Fitz, Helen Elmore, Tim Whittaker and Wisp to spend a weekend running. We stayed near Santon Bridge in a static caravan at Parkgate Farm . Highly recommended - full kitchen, 2 bedrooms, really excellent shower and heated!! 

Saturday morning dawned sunny, no wind and about 8C. Helen, Tim and I set off from base running over to join the Wasdale race route at the end of Wastwater. We followed it to Pillar, then missing Kirkfell we met a horde of people on Great Gable. A little recce of the BG route to Green Gable (the purpose of the weekend) and off across the corridor route to Scafell. Now it was 3pm and having arranged to meet Ian in the Woolpack in Bleabeck at 4pm we tried to get a shift on! It had been glorious all day but now the clag came down. We switched to a Great Lakes race recce using Foxes Tarn to climb Scafell where the setting sun broke through the clouds hence a great photo opportunity!. On a compass bearing in the clag and dark we found Slight Side perfectly and just had time for a quick look at the descent before donning headtorchs for the long run down. We had a great end to the day sitting in the Woolpack by the fire drinking beer while the landlord very kindly fed Wisp a proper dog's meal as she was very hungry. 

On Sunday we all drove to Seathwaite then Tim and I were dropped at the bottom of Hardknott Pass where we ran to the summit to join the Duddon race route. Once again the sun shone all day and we had a great time following the race route back to Seathwaite. Arriving at Seathwaite at 3pm we finished off the chilli and cake from Saturday night before driving home. Although Wisp was very tired on Saturday night she bounced around all day making us feel very unfit!

Photos are in the Gallery . Saturday's end with relaxing in the caravan. Sunday's end with a panarama of the Duddon route. Helen took the headshots on her phone early on Saturday!


23rd November - exciting holiday plans ...... booked a flight to Peru and Bolivia over Christmas and New Year!! So with the help of the internet I'm booking buses and hostels, planning long treks and visits to salt flats - yippee!!!!

Today - (Sunday 23rd) Steve and I met up with Mark Pearce, Brent, Amanda and Andrew for a Birthday run and lunch at the Strines Pub to celebrate Marks 50th. Everyone bar me was tired from lots of running yesterday and Steve was walking as he'd hurt his back so after a few miles Amanda insisted I left them so I ran around with the dogs on Cartledge Edge and it was great! We all met back at the Strines where copious pints of Bennetts Bentley were consumed and lunch was enjoyed. 


15th Nov - Saturday 14th was the Dark Peak dinner and I had an inkling I was going to be presented with something for breaking the Ramsay record but it was a total surprise when we arrived and Charlie Ramsay himself was there! He gave a very flattering speech and presented me with this painting of the Mamores which everyone had contributed to. I am really honoured and wish to thank everyone who contributed especially as I had a lot of support from Dark Peak, Penistone and the Scottish clubs of Lochaber and Carnethy on the hill and Charmian Heaton / Steve Burgess on the ground - without all of them it wouldn't have been possible.

Many thanks to Charlie for making a special trip south to present me with the painting and make such a lovely speech.



Back to running .... during the day yesterday I ran Long Tour of Pendle which I have done a few times now. There are six climbs and I usually forget one and so suffer when I get to it! This time I paced it well and even enjoyed some of the flat running as the clag cleared and we got views! I was in 2nd place until coming off the last top when in the clag I didn't find the path and so was on a compass bearing. I was overtaken by about three runners; one of which was a lady who I couldn't catch when we hit the road. I was pleased with my time of 3.02 hours. 








7th Nov - Other stuff in the pipeline. Lissa and Matt Heason contacted me asking me to promote 2015's Shaff which is centered on "Women in Adventure". As I think this is a brilliant idea I'm only too glad to help. I'm not a photographer or a film maker otherwise I would put an entry in!!  SHAFF_2015

Claire Maxted asked me to write a Winter Training session article; which I did. It's now in the latest Trail Running Mag and reads very well! In the the mag there is also a column which lists "Hurrah" snippits and "Urgh" snippets - I'm listed in under the "Urgh" this month as she says "The UTMB didn't go to plan for Nicky Spinks who suffered with sickness but was still 16th woman!" I know this is silly as I did do well but I haven't actually looked at the results since as I honestly thought that so many women seemed to be passing me that I would be at least 20 somethinged. So "Thanks Claire!" and here are the Results Hopefully 16th will be enough to get me a place in the 2015 UTMB !!

A few weeks ago Sarah Lewis from Fort William Mountain Festival contacted me and asked me whether I would talk there in 2015. I've said yes and so am now trying to write a paragraph about myself for the publicity bit. Fort William Mountain Festival 

I'll put all these links on my Links Page so people can find them at a later date!

Tomorrow Steve and I are going to Hawes for the evening to celebrate Nick Whittingham, Andy Plummer and Bernice Nixon's birthdays. I've just baked them each a cake! We would have gone for the weekend but we've bought in calves to rear as replacements and they are only 12 days old and not drinking properly yet from the bucket so we can't leave them to someone else to look after. I'm really looking forward to catching up with all the Penistone and WMRT lot over a few pints of Blonde and some excellent food. Happy Birthday Nick, Andy and Bernice!


1st Nov - and running in shorts and teeshirt! The weather was fantastic for the Grin and Bear It. There was a good turnout (and so there should be) for this great, tough, well organised race! I set off determined to enjoy it as we've had a hard week on the farm and the legs still felt tired from the OMM. It was nice to see Sally Fawcett skip off into distance early on! No pressure there then! The wind was against us going up Mickleden but once on Outer Edge it was on our sides which was pleasant. I caught a few groups up with my consistent bog floating and even passed Sally but she wasn't going to give in that easy. She was close on my heels all the way to Swains Head and down to Salters Brook. I felt tired but ok on the climb to Lady Cross but wasn't surprised when she skipped passed me once we had got onto the tracks. I just took it easy from there to the finish and was very pleased to beat last year's time coming in at 2.29 hours!

A great feast afterwards and Prize Giving where I was 2nd Lady and 1st V40 - wine and bread! A great race, thanks to the WMRT team and supporters. I hope it raised lots of money for Woodhead Mountain Rescue.

31st Oct - Busy week - building a new bull shed; well we have posts and one wall now! Selling calves; Mary from Blacker Hall Farm shop came yesterday and bought 50, we have sold 10 in Holmfirth Market and have 20 more to sell there. The grass is running out but the weather is too warm to house stock !! The legs are feeling good after the OMM. Monday's Winter race was hard work but I ran really to help clear the head and it was a lovely night. Last night I took the dogs up onto the moors and slipped around on some peat bogs which was fun. I'm looking forward to getting up Mickleden (a drag of a climb) to Cut Gate and heading across the moors on the Grin and Bear It tomorrow! 

27th Oct - Another lull in updating - mainly due to running and farm work! On 19th Oct I ran the navigation leg in the FRA relays and me and Rachel Horn came 5th on our leg. It was a great day out and Howgill Harriers / Dallam did a great job of courses, event centre and a non-stop commentator who was hilarious. I'll find the results and put a link to them shortly.

Over this weekend (25th/26th) I ran Elite OMM with Mary Gillie. The weather was very windy, warm with squally showers so I chose to wear my Oasics warm leggings, my Rab Pull on top with Rab Lunar Pull on over the top. We started at 8.05am - the old format used to be that Start Times went from 6am but not anymore. Day 1 was so, so long! The terrain was awful; lots of tussocks and we soon realised that running miles alongside a fenceline was the only way to progress. The CP's were quite spurious with "Spurs" being the worse to find and one "forest ride junction" was not right. There were about 8 teams looking for it though and by running down every forest ride within a km we eventually found it. At the last CP we were in the dark (yes that's 10 hours running) so it took us another hour to find the finish to Finish at 19.17 taking 11.15 hours. We were gobsmacked to be told we were 15th out of 16 finishing teams (out of 39 starters). Many thanks to the guys in the tent next to us who helped us put the tent up; we were pretty spent and it was very windy. We changed into spare clothes and I was glad of my Omm Rotor Smock. I had only taken a pair of silk leggings as my spare legwear but with wearing my Raidlight Waterproof Trousers and over them I was toasty all night. We had our Expedition food meals and tucked ourselves up in bed with a nip of whisky! After a very windy night Mary went to ask if we could start early as she had a train to catch. The organisors were using the Bad Weather Course (not that the weather was bad) and yes we could start early. By early it was 7.20am instead of a Mass Start at 8am. We had a reasonable day out; except for a forest ride which didn't exist and so we ended up floundering in a stream but overall it popped us out with only a short tussock fest before trying to find the next CP. I think we were both pretty hacked off when looking for the CP because after running passed one CP not ours I dibbed at the next having worked out it was ours. It was the only one I never checked the code of and that was a BIG MISTAKE!!!! So after another 4 hours we finished; just pleased to be able to stop really. And so being handed our results slip with "Incomplete Course" on it was very disappointing. What made it worse was the officious woman on Results seemed to take delight in telling us we had punched the wrong control. Mary had to walk off as it was all very condescending. It was a Lesson hard learnt - which means it will Never be forgotten. 

So on reflection - All the staff (apart from officious Finish Woman) were really friendly and helpful. Registration, camping and toilets were great. The courses were very long and even the winners were out a long time. Both me and Mary have done the Elite before and were not out for 10 plus hours. The new later start time format meant that a lot more people were destined to finish in the dark. The maps were awful as they were OS 1:25,000 but shrunk to 1:40,000 so you couldn't read the writing nor the contours. They were printed on paper which was laminated on one side only so even though it was a dry day they soon started to disintegrate. On Day 1 we were handed plastic bags but after using mine for Day 1 it was full of disintegrated paper and so no use for Day 2. Mary and I had to keep swapping maps so that we always had one that had the next CP clearly on it. The food at the Finish was dire. Pie, peas and chips were promised. At 4pm the kitchen was closing and we got a cold cheese and onion pasty (that hadn't seen any cheese) cold peas and no chips. I always think that one rule of a good race is "Provide good food at the Finish". And just read that even if we had completed the course and been 1st Ladies Team we wouldn't have won a Ladies Prize as they have scrapped the "Ladies Prize" in favour of one prize for the 1st woman across the line which is undoubtedly going to be in a Mixed team.


12 Oct - Bit late now but I am talking (only for 5 minutes) at the Buxton Adventure Festival  this afternoon at 4pm. I am introducing Charlie Ramsay who is talking about the Ramsay Round. There's lots of other running, climbing stuff on including Steve Birkinshaw at 8pm so if you're in the area and free then come along.

11th Oct - It seems like ages since I have written up the diary! We have been very busy and then I have been researching and writing up my UTMB update (which is now here at the bottom of the  UTMB 2014 page. 

Running is going reasonably well - I was on the last leg of the Ian Hodgson Relays on Sunday 5th October with Pippa Wilkie. We set off just behind Ilkley Ladies and up into the clag. I had re-done my map and stuck to my lines and found the perfect line! We overtook Ilkley by Hart Crag and then never saw another team to the Finish. It was very odd running hard but on our own. Running into the Finish field the announcer said we were second! Fantastic !!! Our team had done so well - Leg 1 was Debbie Smith and Nicola Parkin, Leg 2 - Helen Elmore and Judith Jepson, Leg 3 - Kirsty Bryan-Jones and Lynn Bland. Then at prize giving me and Pippa were awarded Fastest Leg Time prize!! I.H.M.R 2014 Results.pdf 


Saturday 6am - I walked round the cows then went to feed 6 calves (we purchase and rear as our mother replacements) only to find one dead. This was an awful find and I immediately felt guilty as maybe I had done or not done something which has caused her death. But really it is life; and subsequently; death. Overall farming has been going very well if very busy. We had 57 cows scanned on Friday and 55 are in calf which is an amazing result. The weather and grass is still relatively good so the cows outside are happy. We are currently getting ready to sell the 76 calves that are our whole produce for one year - so busy and stressful. Both me and Steve are dreaming of cows!

Saturday 7.15am Langdale Horseshoe Race - I was late in being ready for Dave Lund who came to collect me; however he was late too so that was ok. I then bent his ear off telling him all about calf digestion and my theories on it's death. Langdale  Horseshoe is not a race I like as it's very fast at the start but I hoped for a good time so dug in and suffered feeling rubbish. I couldn't get going at all and was still thinking about the dead calf. Climbing to Bowfell though the clag came down and my legs had woken up so I started to enjoy it. I was determined not to go wrong and found the good lines to Crinkle Crags where the clouds lifted and the views were incredible. I ran hard up Blisco and down to the finish where I was 2nd Lady behind Judith Jepson.Well done to Nicola Parkin who was 6th and Sally Fawcett who was 9th so Dark Peak Ladies won the team prize!!! Well done also to Rhys Findlay Robinson who won. Langdale_2014 results

Photo: Andy Jackson. Thanks!


29th Sept - I feel like I have moved on from the UTMB in that I think I have sorted out what went wrong (I'll update my UTMB page shortly) and also have recovered sufficiently enough to be enjoying running and looking forward to winter training and racing. Yesterday I did Dewsbury Park Run in 22.15 - I'm so annoyingly consistent. My pb is 21.30 (on my 1st race a year ago) and since then for 7 more times I have always been been between 21.33 and 22.18. Yesterday I really enjoyed it as I knew I was doing Penistone Hill race today which although only 7 miles with 285m climb is a course with a lot of running in it. I had been round the course a couple of times (and actually in 2001 it was my first long fell race; I had never run over 10k before I did the Hill Race!) so knew it and so paced myself well. I began overtaking people on the first hill and kept going. My legs however felt awful on the last section of road but good round the show fields at the end. I was 2nd Lady in 55 mins something (behind Caitin Rice) and 21st I think. Since 2013 Shaun Dimelow and Annie Lightowler organise the race in aid of Penistone Sports Centre. The turnout was about 95 - 20 more than last year and we all hope it will grow. Prizes are a mix of trophies for the winners then everything from quiche to bath oil - with alcohol and chocolates in between - as spot prizes with every number being called out if you went to prize giving; you got a prize! Penistone Hill Race results 2014

21st Sept - I'm getting back into running and racing again although the legs are not happy running on the flat at the moment. I did the Three Shires Fell race yesterday and set out to enjoy it. The weather was overcast but very warm so I took it steady up Wetherlam and all the way to Three Shires Stone. Then feeling strong I ran a lot to Blisco but annoyingly went wrong off the top which cost me quite a few places. Overall it was lovely day and great to get back to racing again. I finished 5th Lady, 2ndV40. And behind Keith which he was very pleased about!

Ian Corless of TalkUltra has written a Inov8 Race Ultra Vest 2015 New Product Review and at the bottom asked for a female review. I was kindly sent a Race Ultra Vest by Natalie White back in June to try and am very impressed. I have written a female review here: Inov8 Race Ultra Vest  Review

16th Sept - Since returning from UTMB I have been very tired and it took at least a week before I didn't want to go to bed at 9pm! I ran with Penistone Footpath Runners on Tues 9th which was nice and steady, then again on Wednesday locally. Last Sunday I competed in the Lake District Mountain Trial from Patterdale in the Classic course. Women have only been allowed to enter the Classic course for four years now and so I have tried to compete in that class every year - just to show that we (the ladies) can do it!! I did wonder about my sanity though on Sunday morning as it is always a challenging course of 17 miles in a straight line and over the Helvellyn ridge meant that there would be a lot of climb. I set off quite steady though determined not to overdo it. The first two checkpoints seemed very hard and very hot so I backed off a bit on the climb to the 3rd just as Steve Birkinshaw came passed and he mentioned a fast run into the Finish. I hadn't looked that far ahead to be honest! The temperature dropped, I ate some food and felt a lot stronger. Running with Jon Whilock was companionable and we had the same ideas about route choice which seemed to work well. He said he was struggling though and that I should go ahead. As I did I passed a few people, then some passed me so I tried to go faster while studying the map for the last CP's. There was indeed a long fast run back to the Finish and I tagged onto a lad that was certainly looking strong. A Tring runner passed us, then doubled over groaning so we stopped to help. He said he was ok, ran off then did the same again, I offered him a gel which was gratefully received and gave him enough energy to run passed us again! The last few miles were painful as my feet were complaining with old black toes and sore soles but I knew that the Finish was in sight. It was great to finish and I felt good. I was 28th overall in a time of 6.35 hours, 2nd Lady behind Jasmin Paris (8th overall)!!

4th September - I got back from UTMB on Tuesday and have just written up my report. Thanks to everyone who has sent me messages of congratulations. Personally I am a little disappointed in my performance and I also don't like to have stuff go wrong that I don't understand. But that's what makes life interesting and gives me something to work and improve on. Here is my report: UTMB 2014

25th August - the sun shone for the Hoppits Hill races yesterday. We had 17 Juniors and 32 Seniors which is a big increase on last year. Thanks to everyone that marshalled and came along to make these races a success. We raised 100 for Kirkwood Hospice which will be added to the total raised by Hopton Mills Cricket Festival and presented to Kirkwood Hospice later this month.

I'm all packed for the UTMB and the weather over there looks much the same as here which will suit me. The race starts on Friday at 5.30pm local time. You can follow me by going to http://utmb.livetrail.net/ and searching for my surname. 

Other runners I know doing the UTMB are Denise Mathers, Dale Mathers, Jim Paxman and Colin Barnes. And then Joe Mann is doing the CCC, Elisabet Frankenburg is doing the TDS. Mark Townsend and Julie Gardner are starting the PTL this evening! Colin and Elisabet are already out in Chamonix and updating Twitter at https://twitter.com/myRaceKit  

As it's been a wet day I've been inside catching up and have donated 70 to Odyssey through my Justgiving page from the profits of the MyRaceKit "UTMB / Run with Nicky" seminar. I'm provisionally looking at running another one in spring 2015 - looking at March 2014 - so I'd better make sure I finish it next weekend!!

23rd August - Very busy week and weekend for me .....

1) Lots of farm work to be done - straw to fetch in between the rain showers, walling to try and finish (but alas not before my holiday), cattle to be moved etc.

2) Then there is the Hoppits Hill races tomorrow !!!!! So strimming, organising, marking up, baking and buying prizes. Thanks to MyRaceKit for a selection of Mark Hines books, to Charlottes Jersey Icecream for vouchers and to the Blacksmiths Arms at Kirkheaton for a meal voucher. Not only did Chris (the landlord) give me a voucher he also drove to the farm at 6.30am last Sunday to tell us that someone had crashed through the wall down on our fields opposite his pub . In this field we have two bulls (Elvis and Harry) and 10 cows !! So highly recommended for his friendlyness and his food is second to none!!

3) And then .... there is loads of stuff for the UTMB to sort - packing, kit, food, schedule (it's a secret) and the very tedious work of stretches and tapering. Thus during all my runs I have felt heavy legged (which I now tell myself is a good sign). However I did manage to knock 15 seconds off my Park Run time this morning !!!! I'll update again before I fly out (Wed am) with means of tracking me round the course I hope.


10th August - My last big race before the Ultra Tour De Mont Blanc was the Long Tour of Bradwell on Saturday. At 33miles and 2200m it was about the right distance and climb. After heavy rain on Friday night the weather forecast was for it to be hot and dry. That's what we got. It was to be a last test of kit for UTMB - rucksack, clothes, shoes, socks and food (ie Mountain House Custard and Apple). I set off well but got slightly annoyed by being followed (especially by two ladies) when at last at Hope I decided that this wasn't supposed to be a race but a kit test and so I let them passed, got out my Mountain House meal and made it up. Running along I felt happy with my decision and also ran passed Lynda Howard on the Short Course. I slowed to her pace and we chatted which was such a nice break for me (and hopefully for her too). Once I had eaten my meal I continued on and good navigation meant I overtook a few runners that had passed me which was pleasing. However my legs started to feel quite heavy then all of a sudden in Bamford they felt like lead - I looked down expecting to see weights strapped to them; it felt like I was lifting 5 stone in each. Across to Stannage it was a struggle to run but when on the top I felt better; it was cooler and I put heavy legs down to feeling too hot. After the Cp at Burbage bridge I started to run down the path only to experience the most awful cramps in my legs that I've ever had. Steve Stead ran alongside me but I was struggling to run. Usually I run through cramp but this was very painful. I had been drinking a lot - 1.5 ltrs already with electrolyte in but maybe all the heat and heavy work on the farm was taking it's toll. I dug out a packet of crisps and got them down easily. Down through the valley we ran and across the quarries. I was fending off the cramp by running with high knees and trying to relax but every now and again I was floored by it. Steve left me on the fields and I was glad to reach the last CP. Asking if they had any salt; they didn't so I filled up with water and carried on. I just slowly jogged the track, fields, valley and road sorting out in my head what had got right and wrong on the day and what I needed to change for UTMB. Seeing "Brit Nick" at the top was a welcome sight and then Jen Regan on the run in too. I ran into the finish only partly happy with my time of 6.20 hours (my record being 6.03 hours) but on reflection I think it's better to have had a bad run now that I can learn from - than on the UTMB in 3 weeks time! Results 

Then on Sunday the weather was so different; I would have loved running in all that rain!!!!! Charmian Heaton was organising the Sherwood Pines Trail Races and had offered to donate 1 from every entry to Odyssey. In return I was to start the races and present prizes. It was raining so hard though that my job as Odyssey representative was cut short by heavy rains as there was no hanging around to be done. I jointly started the race at 11.30am with Charmian then found myself a job of handing out Spot Prizes and directing people to the Tee-shirt collection tent. There were about 50 runners on the 5km and 488 on the 10km. Once prizes were presented there was even quite a selection of eager juniors awaiting the "Fun Run" and so with the skies clearing they were set off on their 2km course! At the end of the day I think everyone enjoyed themselves and will come back for more in 2015 on hopefully a sunny day! Many thanks from all at Odyssey for the donation.

Photos taken by Brit Nick on Long Tour of Bradwell










3rd August - I had a "mini holiday" as Steve called it! First I travelled to the Lakes with Keith Holmes and David Lund to run the Borrowdale Fell race which was interesting in the clag! I was nearly 1st due to the Lady that was 1st going to Lingmell apparently but she caught me on the last descent and I'm not a sprinter! Great race as usual and well organised.

Then I drove to Chester to spend the evening with Mary Gillie before going to do Yiannis Tridimas's Arenig Fawr race today. My legs complained bitterly about the track running (ie the 400m at the start - the rest of the 8.5 miles is proper fell running) but then I really enjoyed the whole race helped by following Mary on her perfect lines! It's a classic race and should get a larger field! Well done Lloyd Taggert from Dark Peak Fell Runners and Jackie Lee on their wins. Mary was 3rd Lady and I was 4th (1st V40). Thank Yiannis!

I drove home and have enjoyed a beer and curry to finish off a grand weekend. (Oh and all the cows are where they are supposed to be which is a plus).


30th July - On Friday we had finished haymaking (yippee) so on Saturday I took Wisp and Tyke and ran up Mickleden to Outer Edge then dropped into the valley, found a lovely pool to swim in before climbing back upto Cutgate and back to the car. About 10/12 miles with runnable climbs. 

Then on Sunday I walked with Steve, Rosie and Otis to Outer Edge Trig and across to Rocking Stones where we had a picnic before walking home.



Last Tuesday at Penistone Football Club I was presented with a trophy to commemorate my achievement of breaking the record on all three of the UK Rounds. It was very touching and such a surprise. Thank you to all at Penistone Footpath Runners and A.C.






20th July - The MyRaceKit UTMB / Run with Nicky Seminar went very well we thought (and I hope all the attendees thought so too). The weather was fantastic, the Hopton Mills Cricket Club a lovely venue and Simon Robinson (from X-Bionic) had brought a full set of X-Bionic clothes for everyone to try out - hence the "X-Bionic Team" training look !! Simon also brought a set of Leki poles and gave a very useful demonstration of the correct technique which we all put to practice on the run!

I had marked up two 1:25,000 maps with the UTMB route and talked about my training and race preparation. Elisabet and Colin gave many tips and information about the running of Ultra events and their experiences.

On Monday it was a Summer Series and when I set off I was cursing my lack of short speed work as the legs would not work. However after 20 minutes they warmed up and with a few good lines I actually managed to win!!!

16th July - After a couple of weeks of relative rest I traveled to the Lakes with Keith Holmes and Dave Lund for the Wasdale fell race. My legs had been very tired when running and also my calves were tight so I had been doing a lot of stretches but knew that I had better set off steady and see how I felt. The weather was warm with showers forecast to start at 3pm. The race started at 11am and I usually do about 5 hours. Setting off my legs didn't want to run at all and I was glad when the gradient became steep enough for me to walk. I tried to settle down and not panic! On the descent off the top Keith Holmes caught me and so obviously I tried a little harder but was conscious that my descending legs hadn't loosened up yet! At the bridge Joss Naylor asked how I was and I replied "Fine, that's just the warmup!!" which got a laugh. I felt better up towards Seatallan and started passing a few runners. It was very hot in the valleys and I hoped that the clag would come down a bit. Across to Pillar I caught Dave Lund and we ran together for a while. I was feeling more confident and quite enjoyed some of it. Water was in short supply and even though I filled up and drank as much as I could I was getting twinges of cramp. There was a loud cheering group of children at Styhead with lots of sweets and water which was lovely. Running upto Esk Hause I was wondering whether I could make under 5 hours so ran what I could. I kept spying Dave Sykes but he also saw me and put a spurt on ! The clag dropped and lifted as we descended Scafell Pike. It was going to be close to 5 hours! The last descent is a thigh basher and went on for ages but there I was running into the finish in 4.58 hours!! 2nd Lady, 15th overall. Well done to Jasmin Paris who was 3rd overall in 4.13 hours! 

Since then I have been haymaking and getting ready for the myRaceKit seminar this coming Sunday. I'm about to go and discuss food with Fay down at the cricket club. On Sunday night there is a brass band playing so anyone that would like to stay on can do! According to Charmian and Steve it's "quite a good do"!



1st July - The 10 Peaks Extreme was just that... extreme! This is the link to my report -  10 Peaks Extreme


27th June - the legs are ok now. I've only tried jogging but can't feel any stiffness so all packed and ready to go up to the Lakes for the 10 Peaks Xtreme . The weather is cooler but dry which is just what I like. I'll be back on Sunday and will try and update the website then.

22nd June - Got back yesterday afternoon from supporting on the Dark Peak BG weekend. I navigated on Legs 1 and 3. Nine contenders set off and the weather was perfect on Leg 1. We made time on the schedule and arrived in Threlkeld to an army of midges at 10.30pm. All nine set off across the Helvellyn ridge and arrived at Dunmail a little bit spread out but still about 30 minutes up on 23.30 schedule. Across Leg 3 the thin clag never really lifted which was a shame as I always seem to be on that Leg in the clag but at least it was cool. The group split and I carried on with Dave Lund, Dave McGuinness, George Yates and Shaun Hogton (plus their supporters). It became a pleasant sociable group and upping the pace a little meant we arrived at Wasdale about 45 minutes up on the schedule. I then drove home and heard later that they had all comfortably got round. Well done to all of them. Commiserations to Yvonne Beckwith who continued but finished over 24 hours and the others. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before we see them attempting again.

Today - Sunday 22nd - As always I walk round the cows. The dogs get excited and race about. Today however they raced into me. The pictures are the result - I wasn't happy as they completely took my feet out from under me, I landed banging my head and could only limp round the cows. Wisp hit the left leg and Paddy the right - Paddy now has a black eye! . However tonight I can walk and am hoping with rest this week that I'll be ok for the  10 Peaks Xtreme next weekend. I was in the tractor all morning but free this afternoon so have done my maps and schedule - it looks a right challenge!!


17th June - What a shock to the legs. Firstly because I thought we would be silaging all weekend I nipped down to Dewsbury and did a Park Run on Saturday morning. About 45 seconds off my pb =  not bad! Then a full day of tractor driving fetching silage in and so I was free on Sunday so drove with Keith Holmes to Passing Clouds. "Tough but scenic" he called it. It was 9 miles and crossed the Roaches near Buxton where my parent used to live. Tough - because most of it was really flat. And not scenic - because it was claggy the whole way round! But I tried hard and enjoyed the three climbs and came 4th Lady, 1st V40/45 and came away with a nice picture, a six pack of lager and a pair of socks (size L for Steve)!. Then on Monday night I did the Summer Series - a new route and hence I didn't know the good lines but it was just what the legs requested as it was very hilly and tussocky so by the time there was much runnable stuff the legs had warmed up. A really great route - devised by Simon Dixon.

Next weekend - Bob Graham supporting and some 10 Peaks reccying if I can manage (but more grass has been mowed today) as the following weekend it's the 10 Peaks Extreme!

13th June - And..... BBC Look North came to the farm yesterday and then I went in for a live interview. This is the link - it might only last till 6.30pm tonight but I have downloaded it so will see if I can get it back up here! Look North 12 06 2014 

And you can also listen to my interview with Ian Corless on Talk Ultra      

11th June - I've had lots of publicity for my Ramsay Round.....

The Fellrunner are going to squeeze my write up in for the Summer issue. The Trail Running Mag  had already asked me for my input on a piece they are running on the Bob Graham and now they have done an "Tips from Nicky Spinks" column as well. I think it will be out early July. I've an interview / article in the Barnsley Chronicle that I haven't seen yet. Ian Corless from Talk_Ultra Podcast rang me and we did a long interview that's supposed to be in next week's podcast. And UKH have published an abridged version of my blog on UK Hillwalking.com 

And on the running front I'm getting ready for the 10 Peaks Xtreme course  on June 28th. In fact last night I dreamt that I set off on the race in my sandals so I'd better get my shoes packed right now!

7th June - Recovery going well. I went for a steady 6 miles on Thursday and legs great! Stomach now demanding food constantly. I've uploaded a selection of the photos I've received so far onto the Gallery and completed the spreadsheet with the Schedule and Actual Times

4th June - Write up ready !!!!- Ramsay Record I've got lots of photos so will try and get them up soon.

3rd June - As anyone following on the tracker below will know - I DID IT!!!!! 19 hours and 39 minutes. Perfect weather, superb support and good legs had battle with a dodgy stomach. But we all knew I could do it and I did! Full report was being written today but the sun came out and it felt wrong to be inside so I went dry stone walling. Rain forecast all day tomorrow!

28th May - All packed and ready to go. The weather is still looking good and I'm setting off tomorrow evening with Charmian Heaton.

I will be wearing a tracker from OpenTracking (thanks James Thurlow) - the website is http://maps.opentracking.co.uk/spinks14.cfm  It should arrive today and when I test it will move the location to Mirfield. Then tomorrow to Scotland. There is a track of the Ramsay on there already in purple.

26th May - Having checked the weather this morning I am hopeful that it is going to be good for my attempt to break the Ladies record for the Ramsay Round next weekend. The record is currently 20 hours and 24 minutes held by Helene Whittaker. My schedule is 20.15 hours. I have been training and reccying since summer 2013 for this and feel ready for it.

I am currently sorting my supporters bags, clothes and food out and taking photos along the way to use on the Run with Nicky day on July 20th. We have had a few bookings already which is exciting!

So the last three weeks I have been tapering; on Friday night I did go upto the Lakes to support Max Howard on his BG. He was using the 2am schedule that I devised for the Ladies attempt and I was on the first leg. The weather was better than forecast all weekend (in the Lakes - it was horrid in Yorkshire!). Max runs with Retford AC and we were cheered off from the Moot Hall at 2am by a cheery band of supporters. Max and I (and Wisp, my dog) set off chatting and actually chatted most of the way round bar Skiddaw which was it's usual dire self. Annoyingly off Skiddaw although we found the fence crossing we missed the path and so contoured left to it further down the hillside. We still made Great Calva on schedule though and as it was getting light further navigation was easy even though the clag was at 600m. Blencathra came and went in farming conversation (Max having carrots and cows). Wisp descended Hall Fell using me as her fall break and we arrived at Threlkeld on schedule (6am)

Max then finished the 2nd leg up on schedule (10.25am) but then lost time over Leg 3 arriving in Wasdale 30 mins down on schedule. Of course this 2am schedule doesn't really help you on Leg 4 if you are behind as it means you hit darkness sooner - ie on Great Gable. So although he was moving well it was not possible to pull all the deficit back before Honister. Into Leg 5 the weather came in and hindered progress. Max ran upto Moot Hall in a time of 24.18 hours.  Well done Max - we all know you will be back to finish the unfinished business.

22nd May - Just back from Romania with Steve where we were helping out and marshalling on the  Transylvania 100k. Due to high levels of snow on the original route Mountain Rescue had said it was unsafe and so Amanda and Andrew Heading had to totally rearrange the route and checkpoints. This they managed through lots of hard work and even managed to get new maps printed up in time. After a couple of days marking the course up it was time for the race to begin! I was marshalling a CP called White Stones on both the 50k and the 100k routes. It was one hours walk up 500m to a col. We (me, Mike and Nick) set off at 5.30am walking in with tents and runner food/drink. We reached the CP at 6.30am and as the runners had set off at 6am we had a little time to set up camp. The weather was foul - rain, clag, wind and very cold. We all huddled in one tent until the runners came through. They seemed in good spirits and were pleased to see us. After seeing the last ones through we moved the tent for their return and the 100k's. I ran across to Stronga taking down the tape and chatted to the Mountain Rescue there. It was a lovely 8km run especially as the sun came out and I had great views. Back at camp Nick and Mike had been fire building and it was a very precise affair! We all had separate little tents so could rest when there was a gap in runners. There were 38 on the 50k course and 43 on the 100k. The 50k runners started to come back through and we offered them tea/coffee as they looked tired. This perked them up considerably and so it was offered to all the runners. It was great to see the runners we knew like Charmian Heaton and Kathryn Spendlove. Once all the 50k runners were through we waited for the 100k. They were taking longer than expected and we assumed it was because of the horrid weather early on. All the 100k runners were grateful of the CP food and drink and once the fire was lit it made a very welcome warm resting place for them. It was a fantastic night - the moon came out and we stood around the fire not wanting to go to bed even though it was 1am/2am/3am. We cheered and jumped into action when runners came into sight. It was nice to make a difference to them and see them on their way to the finish with many words of advice. The last runner (a German called Martin) came through at 9.30am and I joined him up into the returning clag - we were both glad of the company. I was taking down tape and he was trying to get under 30hours. The last climb I had been warning runners about for hours; although not from personal experience and it was a killer. But once over that we trotted down out of the clag and into the sunshine. Amanda rang me to learn of our progress and said the new Finish was just inside Bran Castle gates. The road section (5km) went on for hours it seemed but then we were into Bran, down the main street and through the gates. I could see Prize Giving going on and directed Martin across to it. He burst through the crowds just as the 100km winner was being presented his prize. The winner congratulated Martin and it was a fantastic sight to see.

Well done Amanda, Andrew and Marios on pulling it all together. Here's to next year ....!!! Photos from White Stones CP on  2014 Gallery 


11th May - well the weather could have been worse.... but not a lot! The rain started at 1.30am so we set off at 2am in waterproofs and I think they stayed on all night and the following day. saying that on Leg 1 the wind and rain didn't seem too bad and the cloud base was 700m which was ok. At sunrise (5am) the clouds lifted but soon dropped again and this became the pattern for the day until 8pm when they dropped to 500m and stayed dropped making Legs 4 and 5 very hard for supporters and contenders alike.

We managed to stay on the schedule for Leg 1 with the girls separating a little by Blencathra. Halls Fell was very slippery and put more distance between Denise and Ruth (at the front) then Lucy, Anne and Yvonne. All the girls made up time on Leg 2 even though the weather was worse on this leg and they were running into a headwind all the time. Once again Denise and Ruth came into Dunmail first. I set off up Steel Fell with Denise, Richard Hakes and Dave Lund. Ruth was just ahead and the others had arrived at Dunmail. Anne was suffering from cramp and was pulling out.

Across the Langdales the cloud base was high and the weather improving; we all hoped the worse of the weather had passed through. Bowfell looked in deep clag and it was - usual slippery blustery conditions met us there and got worse as we got higher. On Bowfell we caught Ruth but also saw Lucy - it was nice to catch up with general progress and whinge about the weather. On we went with Denise showing remarkable cheerfulness as we progressed towards Scafell Pike. Navigation was paramount and even though I know this leg I was careful not to make any errors. Lords Rake and West Wall Traverse required careful negotiation but even then all Denise said with a laugh was "this BG certainly throws some things at you!". It was nice to watch her skip down the screes into Wasdale still slightly up on schedule and she was soon off up Yewbarrow with new support.

I waited for the others and it seemed a long wait however Lucy and Ruth appeared at the same time - having taken completely different lines off Scafell though! Now about 15 minutes down on schedule. Support was allocated and with Lucy only having Max Howard and Dave Pickering I chose to help her out and carry on with her. She was in good spirits and with clearing skies we set off after Ruth. Passing Ruth it was clear that she was not feeling good but she was being encouraged on by her support (Tim and Simon Rippon, nick Cable and Alice Briscoe). We pressed on and once on Red Pike the clag and rain started again. The leg went smoothly but everyone was tired of being wet through. We were all positive though and having been joined by Dave Lund we navigated while Dave and Max entertained Lucy. By Great Gable we were all quiet though having slipped and slithered over many rocks and then in the dark had to descend to Green Gable by the awful tourist path. Across to Honister it was pleasant to be dropping and I finished happy that I was not carrying on.

Denise was at Honister and left just in front of Lucy. The weather came in again sending support scurrying to their cars while feeling for all still on the hill. It was a tense wait for Ruth and when she came in she was bundled along the road with no stop as she just had 2.45 hours to finish in.

Word came though that Denise and Lucy had passed Newlands and were on for sub 24 hours. It was more uncertain about Ruth. Waiting at the Moot Hall we commandeered a shop entrance and watched drunks, scantily clad women and police exchange banter and "sortings out" although drunken women perched on high heels walking across cobbles took no sorting out as they could hardly negotiate passage. All passed the time until we saw Denise and Lucy approaching hand in hand.. The drunks, women and police clapped along with the supporters and the two runners touched the Moot Hall in a time of 23.46 hours. Very well done to them.

We waited for Ruth and she walked in - now happier in a time just over 25 hours. She says she has learnt a lot and I'm sure will return again. Anne and Yvonne have already been overheard planning so I await news of further attempts from them too. Thanks to everybody for making it such a successful weekend despite the weather. Photos - Ladies BG 2014 


9th May - Just about to set off for the Lakes to support Yvonne Beckwith, Lucy Wiegand, Denise Mathers, Anne Beresford and Ruth Batty on a Ladies BG attempt. The weather is quite windy and wet but my Norwegians ( www.theyr.com ) say that the showers might pass over by mid afternoon. I have relied on them before so lets hoping they are right and the girls get to finish by moonlight.

Other news: I have organised along with Colin and Elisabet of myRacekit a Ultra Race training and preparation day - Run with Nicky . I am always willing to offer information, advice and schedules and am just thinking that maybe I could coach a little bit so that when I can't farm and probably run - then I might be able to get by! So I will put as much as I can into this day so that everyone goes away full of good tips and advice. 

I have also uploaded photos of 7th May weekend onto the 2014 Gallery 


7th May - A very busy weekend with no sleep! Saturday the weather and company were great and we did legs 5 and 6 of the Merrionnydd round then finished off by climbing Cadair Idris before dropping back to Dolgellau. Mary Gillie set a fast pace throughout the day while Tim Whittaker, Colin Bishop and I had a more leisurely time discussing out of date food, the Scottish Peaks race, more out of date food etc . There seemed to be an underlying theme of out of date food and Tim and Colin delight in feeding it to each other and then waiting for the outcome! It was the first time I had taken Wisp out with me and she really enjoyed it. I thought she would be tired but a quick power nap (and half our sandwiches) and she was ready for off again! We did 23 miles in 8 hours then I drove to North Wales where Tim Rippon was an hour up on his schedule. 

Tim had started at Capel Curig at 11am on Saturday and I was due to run with him from Llanberis at 3.10am. Being up on schedule meant less sleep for me so I went straight to the changeover, met Dave Taylor and settled down by 10pm. I got a few progress texts and then a call at 1.15am to say lights were visible. Tim arrived, had a change of clothes then we were off with Dave Lund; the third supporter. I had decided to travel light as Tim was going fast and was wearing 3/4's, one baselayer and a windproof and carrying full waterproofs. Climbing Elidie Fach it became apparent that bad weather was moving in. There was a very cold wind and clag at 700m. Waterproofs went on, then bottoms, extra hat and gloves but when we got to the plateau we couldn't find the top. I have been there so many times - in light and dark and just had a feeling (not allowed when navigating) that the top was left. Dave T thought not. but I asked them to stay put and quickly ran left. Phew there it was. I turned round and could hardly see them! It was a relief to be moving again and I was determined to find the path to Elidir Fawr as the rocks are awful. Maybe good nav but definitely a bit of luck we hit it straight on and so arrived at the top quickly. Climbing down the rocks were now lethal and the ground seemed unfamilar - this became the norm until Devils Kitchen actually. Every top seemed different than I remembered. Me and Dave Tayor both navv'd while Dave Lund kept Tim supplied with food and gels. We were all wishing for some daylight but some visibility too. At last dropping to Devils Kitchen we could see a bit of daylight but still needed head torches through the Glyders until Bristly Ridge. We got a few views across Pen yr Ole Wen in and out the clag. I had started to enjoy it now as I had warmed up a bit (a lesson re'learnt - don't ever do "travel light"!) and took a few photos. Climbing Tryfan and descending to Ogwen I was met by Ruth and Wisp! I was glad to stop! Tim had a quick stop and was off up Pen yr Ole Wen now 30 minutes up on a 23.30 schedule so "in the bag" as Willy said. It was lovely to be there to watch him run in at the Pinnacle cafe at 23.13 hours. Well done Tim !!


2nd May - This weekend I'm off to Wales to recce the Merionydd Round - a tough 24 hr challenge devised by Yiannis Tridimas. Then I'll travel to Snowdonia to support Tim Rippon on his Paddy Buckley Round. The weather is looking good and I'm looking forward to another long weekend in the hills.

This week Steve and I have booked travel to Romania for the Transylvania 100k Steve is driving out on Monday 12th to help set up with Amanda and Andrew, I'll fly out on the Thursday with Nick Cable, Mark Pearce and Brent Lindsay (all doing the 100k). As with all their events the organisation is second to none and its going to be a great weekend for all.


28th April - I've just had a great weekend in Scotland reccying the Ramsay round. I met up with Yiannis Tridimas, Jon Gay and Tarquin Gunn who were excellent company on and off the hill; although we had such long days there wasn't much "off hill" to be had. On Saturday Yiannis and I caught the train to Corrour and ran along the valley in good conditions. Climbing Sgurr Elide Mor we hit snow at 700m but managed to go round it and reach the top where we were met by views of tops and snow all around. Running across to Bennien Beag we could see Jon and Tarquin waiting for us. We climbed Bennien Beag and then studied the beast that is Binnien Mor as it was covered in snow. We could see Yiannis making his way through the rocks so followed him. At the top it was obvious no-one had been across the knife edge snow to reach it from the Mamores! Donning crampons and ice axes we crept out onto the ridge. Tarq and Jon though soon abandoned caution and ran gleefully down the ridge in the soft snow while Yiannis and I (southern softies) were a lot more careful. After that the Mamores were ok with some patches of soft snow but nothing scary so we did every top on the Ramsay round including the out and backs! The wind was biting though and so we kept going. The clag also descended and so somehow we missed Yiannis waiting in the col before Sgurr A'Mhaim so also missed a recce of the contour path on the return leg to Stob Ban. At least receiving a text on our ascent of Stob Ban which said he was descending to the road we knew where he was. Finishing the day running to the YHA I saw Yiannis having flagged a lift to Fort William and returned with his car to the YHA. He was a welcome sight as was the mug of soup I caged off him !!

On Sunday we did "the Fersit Circuit" which leaves Fersit up Stob Coire Sgriodain, across Chno Dearg (in the clag again) and over to Beinn Na Lap before dropping to the valley. The weather was claggy but less wind than Sunday so no views but good running conditions. Yiannis backtracked to his car while Jon and I carried on down to the railway bridge. We then jogged along the valley in brilliant sunshine to the shooting lodge. The route then heads up the valley towards the Learach bothy - but as I wanted to recce the descent off Stob Ban we headed off left up there. Once we were high enough for me to see the perfect line we descended and climbed Stob Coire Easain. The top was completely covered in snow but the sun was shining and we took a few moments to remember Jon's best friend Simon who died a year ago and to toast him with fine Scottish whisky (hence the whisky glass in the photos). Descending to Fersit I was even learning to enjoy snow running (or glissading as Jon calls it) but not to the extent that I was willing to traverse out onto some really steep stuff like Jon did. I just stood and took photos and then favoured the grass!

So - it was a very welcome return to Scotland for me. Thanks to Yiannis, Jon and Tark.  Photos


22nd April - And another fell race! On Saturday 19th I did the Teenager with Attitude in the Lake District which I have run the last three years. It was hot so I wore my Dark Peak vest and Raidlight shorts as I can use the short pockets for gels, map and compass. I was hoping for a PB as usual but set off feeling comfortable. I was well up front though which was worrying but maybe there wasn't the numbers as last year. I just continued on trying to drink as much as possible and get the food / gels down. Seeing Yiannis on Grasmere made me smile and still feeling good I ran off upto Whiteless Pike . Now the tiredness kicked in and the legs wouldn't work; on the descent a few fellows passed me and I tried to relax and not worry. I caught them back on the climb to Newlands and someone said I was 12th which was surprising.

Climbing Robinson I was caught by another guy and that set the worrying going that I was now going backwards. I need more food I thought so got another gel down. I could feel cramp twinges but hoped I could run them off. The reverse of the BG - Robinson, Hindsgarth and Dale Head went well. On Robinson is where we join the Anniversay Waltz and initially I was being passed by a lot of people including the 2nd Lady - Lucy Spain who I know so we said a few words. It was disparaging to be being passed so I decided to try and stay with them as long as I could. I got a great line down off Dale Head and caught Lucy again which was cheering. From then to the finish I just tried to run as much as I could and kept Lucy in sight. The cramp was getting worse moving round my thighs and down my hamstrings until the last road section where I was wincing with each cramp. I expected one to come along that would floor me! But I kept going and through the Finish in a time of 3.26 hours. Six minutes faster than 2013 and 1st Lady!

Since then we have had two full days of sorting 50 cows and calves out of the shed. We then dehorn the calves that need it and vaccinating all the cows. Then they are transported (2 by 2 in the trailer) to their respective fields. Yesterday we also drove to Ripon and bought another little young bull who I have named Hamish. He is now down Hoppits with twelve young heifers. I will post a photo of him soon. We were hoping to get another group of cows and calves out today but it is raining hard and so we're catching up with jobs. 


13th April - after a month of doing very little distance running this weekend I have had two good days. On Saturday I ran the Calderdale Hike . Not having done the route before I marked up my maps and knew I would have to get the navigation right. It was a warm but slightly windy day. Only 2 miles after the start everyone split on different route choices; I hadn't chance to look at the map so stuck with Helen Skelton who I knew had done the race before. We plummeted down the valley then tried to find a way up the other side; Helen was brought up there and I was map reading now. It was a good line and we made a few places. I spotted Pete Stobbs in front and slowly caught up on route to Stoodley Pike. From then to the finish I ran with Pete. He knew the way and was much faster than me downhill. I was stronger on the climbs and maybe good company (?) as we chatted a lot which made the road/track sections pass a little faster. We didn't really see anyone else apart from a few early starters and the friendly CP staff. I had hoped for something between 6 hours and 6.30 so was very pleased to finish in 6.17 hours. 6th overall and 1st Lady. I won a nice trophy and a pair of Injinji toe socks. The food at the end was very welcome as I was starving and I really enjoyed the friendly atmosphere from the staff and other runners / walkers. A great event all round.

Then on Sunday I joined Amanda Heading, Mark Pearce and Steve my husband in the Dales on a long run of 20 miles. We took our dogs, Taff is Amanda's and Tyke and Wisp are ours. Tyke dug in as he's now five and a little overweight while Taff and Wisp were still bounding round when we finished. It was much colder than Saturday with a strong cold wind but we all enjoyed the day and the company. So I am much encouraged by how I feel. The last few weeks have been frustrating with lots of calves but very little running and so it is nice to still feel like my legs are working well. 

This week I have also joined Twitter; I think I say I'm  twitter@NickySpinks  but who knows. I have also set up my own Facebook account so that I'm not flooding all our other non running friends with running banter !! 

5th April - I had a very wet day in Wales on Saturday with Tim Whittaker reccying Legs 3 and 4 of the Merionnydd round. Leaving the car at Trawsfynydd we made very good time and found all the lines across Leg 3. Leg 4 started off very well but was very slow as the bogs were very boggy across to Dwault. From there we entered the forest and spent a very long time negotiating fallen trees and undergrowth before following a stream out. Then we tried to find our way to the road only to flounder in the many tussocks so that when we arrived at the road we ready for home. The car however was about 25 miles away and the next bus 1 hour so we started running and hitching. A lot of fast cars passed us (maybe we looked too wet and smelly) then yippee a campervan!!! He stopped and picked us up. On route to Dogellau we chatted and he said as he nothing to do he would take us to Trawfynydd! I could have hugged him! We sat on a blanket dripping and happy and soon arrived back at the car. Fish and chips on the way home just capped off a brilliant day.


5th April - The Hoppits Hill races took a lot of organising but went very well and the turnout was very good. 

Calving is still ongoing - we've now got 71 calves and 18 cows still to calve. The scanner lady came yesterday and 3 out of 4 (that looked doubtful) are actually well in calf so that's good news. It's hard keeping the sheds dry and fresh in this foggy weather - we are putting two big bales of straw in each every day. The atmosphere is so wet and there are lots of animals now. Oh well it will soon be "turning out" time; the end of April !!! 

Steve and I have been sorting out arrangements for the Transylvania 100k on 17th May 2014. We are both Marshalling a checkpoint each on the route and are looking forward to helping Amanda and Andrew Heading make a success of this inaugural running of a classic race. Think I might have to race it next year though - it's looks too good to miss.

The first Summer Series is next Monday and will be interesting if it's still this claggy; I was out on Mickleden last night with the dogs and on a compass bearing most of the time !! 




23rd March - so much on and no time for updating. Last weekend I ran the Haworth Hobble with Anne Beresford, Monday was the last Winter Monday race, on Thursday I travelled down to Westcliff to My Racekit to see the shop and see Colin and Elisabet. On Friday I tried on lots and lots of lovely kit especially their new RAB range and I came home with very generous  donation of prizes for the Hoppits Races. We talked about races especially the UTMB and planned other events for the summer. All very exciting stuff !!

On Friday afternoon I drove back to Mirfield with Charlie, Carol and Lottie (my brother, wife and daughter) and have spent the weekend with them on the farm dodging hail showers and showing Lottie farm life inbetween. She missed the two calvings we had but did get to feed lots of cows. 

I've also been organising the Hoppits races which are going well - the routes are now considerably wetter and muddier than last week.

AND farming !!!! We now have 61 calves; as the first one only calved on 22nd Feb we have had a very busy month!!! Fernando, Elvis, Harry and Alan have certainly earn't their keep. So the sheds are full and it's a constant round of feeding and bedding up (putting straw down). And as the land has dried up we've been trying to catch up with the "land work" - muckspreading, fertilising, fencing, walling, and hopefully harrowing and rolling now if the fields are still dry enough after the weekends rain.


10th March - While we are calving on the farm I try and just do local races that I can enter on the day. Last weekend I did Huddersfield Park Run so that I could give out Hoppits flyers. I didn't realise how many people do Hudd Park Run though - 500 to 600 !! So consequently I ran out of flyers. I did manage a pb of 20.50 minutes but rather think that it because Huddersfield is flatter than Dewsbury.

On Sunday I really wanted to do Ian Roberts Fell Race but at 8am a heifer (young cow) started to calve and looked like she was struggling at 9am so we had to help her then I quickly got changed and rushed off. While racing another cow started and Steve rang me so I shot off home asap after the race. She had twins but one had already died. The other is doing well now though. I really enjoyed the race although the last section of tussocks needed a lot of concentration as the trod was very narrow and many people tripped up. I came 3rd Lady but missed prize giving. Results

Mary Gillie has written up her account of the High Peak Marathon 2014 and it's a very good read !



3rd March - What a weekend - Part 2: On Sunday I was at Handsworth doing the last Cross Country running for Retford A.C. As well as the race there was a short presentation by Hugo Iffla from Odyssey as Retford had chosen Odyssey as their chosen charity for all the race donations to go to. There are five clubs that compete in the series and they all charge a fee which goes to the chosen charity. Many thanks to Retford and all the runners from Handsworth, Killamarsh, Clowne and Worksop for their donations.

I set off running at the back feeling awful but steadily improved until I was 4th Lady overall and actually a minute faster than last year (but I paid for this on the Winter Mondays!). The presentation was informative and it was great to catch up with Hugo and his wife.  2014 Handsworth XC Results.xls




2nd March - what a weekend! Part 1: On Friday night it was the High Peak Marathon. This race I have done now for 9 years and it is still my favorite. My usual team mates all came down with injuries so I had  three reserves; Mary Gillie, Tim Whittaker and Shane Rice. We had only run together once two weeks ago and so it was very much unknown for us. I was hoping for sub 10 hours and when we set off from Edale at 11.48 pm I tried to set that sort of pace. It seemed slow to me but I think it was fast for them - layers were coming off fast !! As we were set off 4th from last (staggered start times) it meant that three teams soon passed us and we were on our own. The route is fast and hilly to start going over Lose Hill and then dropping before climbing Win Hill. We caught a couple of teams along to Stannage and then a few more up onto Derwent Edge. The ground conditions were good with a slight ground frost but the deeper bogs were not frozen and needed careful negotiation. Moscar food stop was busy and we swept through quickly collecting bananas on route.

The skies were clear and navigation to Sheepfold Clough easy with many head torches out  in front. It was apparent when we arrived at Sheepfold Clough that the CP was not in it's usual place. After a quick scout round I determined it wasn't there and we carried on. Climbing to White Stones we could see down the valley and couldn't see it so although I don't like to miss a CP I was hopeful we had made the right decision. The team were all moving well. Shane had stomach troubles but was very quiet about it and just kept jogging on behind. Although it was a clear night teams were making nav errors and I kept the eye on the route and used the compass as backup. 

Cut Gate to the Snake across Outer Edge and Bleaklow went smoothly. We caught a few more teams and managed to pass them. Shane was obviously struggling with his stomach and the terrain and Mary fell in a few bogs, injuring her knee time and time again. I kept waiting for someone to start complaining about the pace but no, they all just kept on running! I was getting very hopeful now about our overall position as there seemed to be less and less teams in front of us. Some thick clag came down very quickly across Bleaklow; which for us was a blessing as we could disappear from the teams behind in the mist. Wain Stones CP was slightly off it's normal position which had me perplexed as to the best route to the Snake but with help from Mary and Tim we decided on a S bearing (in the dark and clag) which led us to Hern Stones then the Pennine Way. 

A quick pit stop at the Snake road CP had a Dark Peak team catch us and overtake us on the run to Mill Hill. The sun was rising and the mist cleared then thickened again. I knew that Kinder can be tricky in the clag and that navigation wasn't over yet. Running along Kinder edge the mist was swirling around, the views were stunning and it felt great to be out (at 7am!). We were all suffering one way or another now. Shane's tummy wasn't any better, Mary had fallen on the flags and her knee was giving her jip, I felt sick and Tim just lacked a bit of energy now and again. We shared round food and drink and just kept going (which I later found out was Shane's motto!). 

Across Kinder without mishap; one more nav challenge in the clag to go; Brown Knoll ! When clear it is a seemingly easy and small plateau with views all around. But when it is claggy, after 8 + hours of running, without sleep, you just want to finish and instead it is a mirage of groughs and paths. All maybe going your way but also maybe, leading you completely the wrong way. Map out, compass set - reminders from Mary. And across we went, arriving spot on the Skyline race reverse route heading to Rushup edge!! The clag lifted and we could see two teams in front. A mixed team maybe? Jasmin's team maybe? They had set off a minute in front of us so if we could catch them we would beat them.

I set about trying to cajole everyone to run faster with tales of having being beaten by 53 seconds last year (much to the amusement of the Dark Peak team nearby). Eventually I asked Shane for his pack and thankfully he gave it to me and set off like a whippet out front. His pack weighed a ton and soon shut me up as I now tried to keep up! The splits show that we were the fastest team from Rushup Edge to Hollins Cross with Shane leading. It was good to see him happy as he had dug in for so much of the night, never complaining just keeping on going. Now it was Tim's turn to tow....but we were catching Jasmin - that is until they spotted us and then they shot off too.

We stuck at it all the way to Hollins Cross, down the fields to the road and then the final sprint to the hall. I had my sleeve pulled up and dibber at the ready as we crashed through the door. I found the punch and stuck the dibber in. "What's the rush?" said Richard not realising the drama. Conrad (from Jasmin's team) was eager to see our time - it was going to be close. How close? ..... 37 seconds !!! Haggis on Tour had won the Mixed Trophy in a time of 9.04.47. We had done 9.05.24 hours. Once more teams had finished it was calculated that we were also 3rd overall. A brilliant night and result for 3 Blind Mice and a Farmer's Wife. 




23rd Feb - Something I have been keeping quiet - but I have done three Park Runs  now at Dewsbury. They are great little events and very good speed training. I went down yesterday to run and also give flyers out for the Hoppits Races.

Today I did the New Chew (solo as Steve didn't want to run this year). I don't do as well on my own usually as I make daft route choices and flounder around in tussocks most of the time. So I set out with the aim of not doing that, to navigate properly and eat enough so that I could concentrate for the full 4.5 hours without too much flagging. The map was split this year with it being quite obvious that to do only one half or the other wouldn't be enough but also that it would be very easy to get stranded out with an against wind battle to get back in the allocated time. I marked my map up going north then south with any spare time. I set off well and found the first 10 points quickly in 2 hours. So South it was. It seemed lots of running without any points then lots of heather and tussocks to get 3 x 15 points. I was tempted by a 20 pointer but had promised myself that I would be heading home by 1.30pm giving me 55 mins to get back and so stuck to that and was able to pick some small ponts up on the way home before getting thoroughly fed up with fallen over tussocks and into holes. That and the fact that I was starving had me heading for the finish with 6 minutes to spare. I finished with 220 points, 3rd overall and 1st lady which I am obviously well chuffed with! Saddleworth-runners - New Chew Results-provisional


18th Feb - On Saturday I met up with my HPM team for a recce over Kinder; it was certainly team building weather with sleet and high winds. The cafe at Edale was a welcome pit-stop before traversing Kinder Plateau back to the Snake. Then I did cross country again on Sunday in lovely conditions - shorts and vest even.

The www.Hoppits.co.uk races are coming on well. I've made a Flyer up which I'll be giving out at races before the day. The Cricket Club showers won't be ready so changing will be in the FRA tent plus Mark Harvey's garden party tent (for the Ladies). There is going to be post-race refreshments in the form of real ale, hot dogs and hot beef sandwiches along with jacket potatoes and beans/cheese so bring some pennies along for that.

8th Feb - It was very windy on the Wadsworth Trog today but the rain held off until I'd finished so that was a plus. I actually enjoyed most of it - running into wind wasn't good but I did save enough energy to get across the boggy Wadsworth Moor running into wind at the end feeling strong to finish in 3.38 minutes and 2nd Lady. Dark Peak also won the Vets Prize which consisted of Tom Brunt , Paul Fauset and me! I won a bottle of wine for 2nd lady and beer and pritzels for Vets Team so thats all going down very well now!

Elisabet and Colin have been working very hard getting their new website up and running. Today it has gone live and is very impressive .....




1st February - Saturday was a HPM recce followed by Cross Country on Sunday. I'm getting faster at last!

I've started planning the www.Hoppits.co.uk races. Sunday 30th March - put the date in your diary!

25th/26th January - Our annual trip to Mungrisdale Hall which is a very reasonably priced (10 pp/per night - min 100) and has a wonderful central heating, two large rooms, a full catering kitchen and a shower! With booking the Friday night this year as well as Saturday some people made a good weekend of it. The pub across the road benefited from our visit too as the weather was foul and most people were off the hill on Saturday by 4pm. On Saturday I wanted to recce from Great Gable to Keswick of the BG as on the Ladies BG in May we're setting off at 2am and so will be on those legs in the dark. It was a good recce but very very windy with a lot of unpleasant hail!

Saturday evening was spent eating curries (made by Ian Fitz) and puddings (made by everyone else), drinking Bradfield Blonde and generally enjoying life. On Sunday the weather was worse so 10 of us ran from Mungrisdale up onto Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale before dropping thankfully out of the hail. A lovely set of hills though with what would have been nice ridges without the wind.

Some photos on Facebook from Nick Cable and Simon Rippon

19th January - I'm nearly back to normal now. I did a Park run yesterday and a cross country run today - do I need my head testing? Maybe but in 2013 I came out of winter flying and want to do the same in 2014 so am repeating the training from last year. I'm not sure I want all that snow though.

I've entered and been accepted onto the Ultra Trail  Du Mont Blanc which is in August and also am looking at the 10 Peaks in June which Race Kit are sponsoring. Being a shorter version of the Bob Graham it should just suit me.

16th January - The Trigger was last Sunday and all went well with 200 runners setting off and 195 finishing. We have raised over 3000 for Woodhead Mountain Rescue and the feedback from the runners has been very good.

My Trigger Write up is here and there are links to the results on www.MarsdentoEdale.co.uk


10th Jan - Wisp is settling down well. We're now running with her off the lead on short runs with Tyke as companion. Although she's not keen on men she is fine with Steve and is trying to win tango round also. This is the charities Facebook page and if people could share / like the page it will help promote the charity-  Pennine Animal Welfare


8th January 2014 - Since Christmas we have been busy organising the Trigger (www.trigger.org.uk). Everything is sorted now and hopefully the weather won't be too bad next Sunday. I have been concentrating on a short fast running and hopefully will feel the benefit sometime although cross country last Sunday was just plain agony.

Some of the agony might have been due to the death of Tilly (better known as Squilly as she was more of a Squirt). She was trying to run round the tractor on Friday night like Tango does. It was an awful night with rain and wind and somehow she got run over. Steve and I were very upset but also pragmatic. Living on a farm we see many births and of course a few deaths. I had been thinking of getting another young dog and so took the plunge. Charmian Heaton mentioned that Longdogs (Helen Fines) had put "Home Wanted for Collie Cross" up on the Fellrunner Forum . I contacted her and went to see "Lucy" at her friend Sue's house on Monday. I was very taken with her and brought her home. We have called her Wisp / Whisper. She is settling down very well and tiring all of us out! I'll get photos of her up soon.