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10th June - Last Tuesday I supported Phil Anderson round the Ring of Fire. Phil had attempted in March as a winter round and I supported him on the third leg however he wanted to attempt again to do a Summer round and get a better time. The forecast changed from a High pressure to a Low pressure, cold and with rain in the morning and a strong WNW wind. We set off at 6am and the first leg went very quickly with us making time on the 19 hour schedule I had devised. However it started to rain heavily after a couple of hours and by the time we reached Dee bridge we were soaked. I was glad of some more shoes as my feet were sore and Martin had to help me change socks and shoes as my hands had got too cold. The leek and potato soup I had made was delicious and soon warmed me up, along with the climb of Darrou!! There wasn't much talking going on as the wind was too strong but at least the rain had stopped. Phil knew some good lines and the Rhinns of Kells also went quickly with me finding the King's Spring (complete with table and chairs) which was a welcome surprise as I was out of water. The sun was really shining down on us as we ran along the track and we disrobed our layers. Martin was once again waiting for us with soup and pizza. We were just about to set off when the clouds gathered , there was a crack of lightening and thunder and a heavy hail storm came across! We sheltered under the trees and in the car for a few minutes glad that we weren't on the hill. The track went ok. It's hard to know how much to push the pace and how much to let the food digest. Steve was meeting us at the bottom of Shiel Hill with the dogs (and more soup!). We saw him walking along the track to us and Paddy recognised us first and came bounding along to meet us. I do miss the dogs when I'm running without them.

Martin pulled in as we approached and so both Phil and I had refreshments. I was on Iron Bru, tea and soup by now! I sorted my rucksack out as I was carrying too much food. I had been really pleased with my stomach as I'd been a bit worried after Ramsay support and Skye so I had lots of proper food and minimized the sugar. Heading off up Shiel Hill Phil said his hips were hurting him. Mine were too and I think it was being blown about by the wind and struggling to walk in a straight line that had hurt them. We stayed on the schedule and maintained our advantage on the 19 hour schedule until Shallock on the Minnock where Phil couldn't run downhill anymore and we lost time on all the descents and then not surprisingly a lot coming all the way down Merrick to Bennan and then Brucee's Stone as it's a rough descent at the best of times. We finished in 19.22 hours. Two hours quicker than in March and in a lot worse weather. Everyone was very tired and very happy. Photos of March and June - Ring of Fire with Phil Anderson  

 

25th May - Steve and I (and the dogs) drove to Fort William with Steve to support Charlie Elliot on his Ramsay - it was great to get back to the big mountains and I took this photo at the top of the first climb up Sgurr Sgriodain. The weather was cold and a bit windy but perfect. I was supporting with Kirsty and Allan and we made good time to Loch Elide Mor. I then continued onto the Binneans but suddenly felt really tired, sick and needing proper food so I slowed right down. Kirsty ran with me and it was so lovely to meet Steve, with Paddy in the col and stop there! We walked down to the Glen together and waited for Charlie at the YHA. It's been a long time coming for Charlie with foot injury and bad weather cancellations so we were all determined this was going to be successful. And it was. Charlie finished in 23.45 hours.

After Fort William the plan was to drive to Skye, where I had entered Trotternish Ridge but I had a bout of food/water poisoning on route and although we still went to Skye I was struggling, the weather wasn't great and the midges were bad so we came home early and I recovered really well at home. Photos of Charlie Elliot on the Ramsay, walk the next day and a few of Skye

20th May - Rosie has been staying from Australia with her family for the week and it was lovely to show them round our house which is much improved since they were last here in 2019, spend some time on a beach in good weather (not warm enough for swimming), visit the Chocolate factory and generally have a great time before they headed to Ireland to see Ronnie's family there. Photos of family visit and Galloway MRT at the bottom of Shiel Hill    While they were here I had a quick drive up to the bottom of Shiel hill to support Galloway Mountain Rescue on their Ring of Fire attempt - details of their attempt is on www.BrucesCrown.co.uk

18th May - I had entered the Old County Tops with Kirsty Hewitson as practise for the https://eiger.utmb.world/races/E250 which we are doing in July. Having had an awful Stuc a Chroin race I was pretty worried about how fit Kirsty weas compared to me! As the weekend got nearer I was also worried about the heat as it was forecast to be 20+C Kirsty was saying we needn't flog ourselves and that was reassuring. We set off comfortably however as soon as we started climbing I was sweating a lot, and it was only 8am! There was a bit of a breeze on Hellvelyn but down in the valley there was nothing. We had no idea of where we were and we weren't concerned about it either. Being Vet Ladies we would like that prize. Heading up towards Scafell I became more and more hot, I started to feel sick and my legs felt so heavy with even twinges of something going on. I explained all this to Kirsty and we slowed down a bit so I could breath. I knew I had to do something so I thought about dipping my cap in streams and then filling my water bottle up and squirting that at my face and neck. Oh it felt so nice! So on we went like that with me heading to any sort of water to fill one water bottle up which I would tip over me. At Angle Tarn the marshalls offered a bucket shower and tipped a whole bucket over my head!! Wow that felt good!! Onwards to Scafell we went knowing that there was only one mountain after that!

We headed off Scafell trying to remember the special lines that Jean Brown knows! We had both previously done the OCT with Jean and a lot of the conversation was around Jean on the day!! We're not sure we got the nice line off Scafell - we got down, but it was zigzagging down some banks of rock. We were sure the line was rubbish and we had been overtaken by hundreds of runners (as you always are when this happens). Running down Mosedale we spotted runners - and none that we had seen before but we had no idea whether that was good or bad. It was lovely to be running to Cockley Beck with only Coniston to do! We were told we were First ladies which surprised us! Heading off from the checkpoint more route discussions were had and we opted for the line that Kirsty knew. I really liked it as it was hard trail rather than soggy grass. I was getting hot again but just puffed my way to the top of the col and then had to rest as my breathing was out of control. However running over the contour path felt good. And we then came across runners that looked like I felt! Suddenly we thought we hadn't done so badly after all. Getting to the summit of Coniston we knew it was six miles back and all do able. Whether nine hours was was debatable but it didn't matter so long as we held onto First Ladies. We ran what we could and cooled down when we could. Moe route discussions about field or road and road was opted for. It was a good decision as it was quicker! Finishing was brilliant. All day we had been cursing some of the route and then saying what a wonderful route it was! We finished First Ladies in 9.09 hours and a new Vet Ladies record of about 50 minutes. Results - OCT-2024-results-for-publishing-v1.pdf  The next day I was at Inov-8 / Girls on Hills ladies social run from the Staveley store and I found the run hard but enjoyable. I was also speaking at Keswick Mountain Festival that weekend and we had a catch up meal of Paella (thanks Flora) with my Bruce's Crown team. We had a wonderful evening talking about the race and all manner of other things including Beth and Matt Bennet's new arrival Fern!  Photos of Old County Tops and the weekend

23rd April - About a month ago I realised I had a week free about my birthday and I was looking for something nice to do so I booked a holiday to Majorca from 23rd April for a week. Flights from Glasgow, a car and a nice room in a quiet town Caimari, at the foot of the mountains in the north. The weather was usually 20 to 26C so I planned a few hikes and a couple of days on the beach!.

We travelled there and found our room. It was very quirky but a lovely town with local bars as well as cafes catering for the thousands of cyclists that appeared there. We had no idea that the biggest race of the cnetury was being held on the island that coming weekend. The 250km. We spent the first day hiking a 10 mile hike that I had devised from the Cicerone book and my gps maps. The weather was hot and lovely and in hindsight we should have gone to the beach! That night it turned cold and it was only 7C overnight. The next day we hiked as well and it was clear but colder. Then we tried a day on the beach however thunderstorms had been brewing and while we were sat on the beach, getting up courage to swim in the icy sea, the black clouds came over and it began to rain! The next day we hiked again and by now I was getting the hang of which paths might be good trails and which might be tiny cairned trods heading directly across limestone rocks either up or down the mountains. I was quite pleased with my route making but sometimes I felt for Steve trying to follow me. The hikes always ended at the bar so that made up for a lot! We had also found a lovely restaurant in which we ate every night! Back to the beach in Porta Pollensa and this time the weather was even worse - proper rain coming down so we sat in a bar, had a couple of beers, had a very nice lunch surrounded by tired cyclists who had all done the race and headed back to our room! Overall it was a great holiday and I would go back again to the same town again and just hope for warmer weather! Photos of our Majorca holiday

20th April - I travelled to Arran with Bruce and Wisp for the Girls on Hills Arran weekend. We had great weather and a lovely group of ladies to take up onto the hills. Wisp and Bruce loved it too and it was Bruce's second visit to a pub where he almost behaved himself! Photos of Girls on Hills on Arran  

 

 

 

 

19th April - Two weeks on from the Bruce's Crown race and last weekend I had a Debrief meeting with Galloway MRT to go over what we could improve on for next year, the date of next year (4th/5th April 2025) and when to open entries (May 1st 2024!). I've been buzzing all week and reliving the event both from an Organisor and a runner. I wanted to write it up as a runner which I have done here Bruce's Crown 2024.html

 

11th April - As you can imagine the run up to Bruce's Crown race was manic with the organisation and me running in the race as well. I made two batches of soup, one batch of vegetable chilli and a hundred cakes !! The cakes were the usual Lemon Drizzle, Sultana and Orange drizzle and then a new one Chocolate and Orange Drizzle (which is the one I ate the most of in the race!).With Storm Kathleen forecast it was a very stressful time. We only had 9 teams entered, one "did not start" because of the weather and so that's still 32 runners that we're responsible for.

As I had hoped the remaining teams were all very well prepared, looked after themselves and made the right decisions about carrying on or retiring. Galloway MRT were brilliant in tracking, looking after us and dealing with the changing weather. They made the call about the low level route and looking back my best moment was summiting Tarfessock and realising that there was no-one at the cairn in the valley below therefore we were going over Merrick. I was so happy. It was daunting to do this but in reality we had experienced worse winds at lower levels and Merrick wasn't bad at all. That's Galloway for you.

Opentracking were brilliant - before, during and after the event - you can follow the race here https://live.opentracking.co.uk/bcr2024/

I've written it up from a RO point of view here https://www.brucescrown.co.uk/News.htm

 I'm planning on writing it up from a runners perspective in my team which were the Four Tussockteers, with Emma Stuart, Kirsty Hewitson and Natalie Hawkrigg, and will put that on here this weekend  so check back here for that!

 

 

20th March - Where has March gone!? I was up at Fort William with Girls on Hills for one weekend and just took Wisp which she loved! We did some guided running on the Saturday to the Halfway lochan up Ben Nevis with winter skills included although all the snow of the week before had vanished! Then I was speaking in the evening which was interesting and entertaining. Sunday morning I was free to go on the mountains so Wisp and I headed up onto the Tyndrum round again. The same two Munros from Falloch Falls in clag and a very strong unpleasant wind. Not a pleasant summit time at all but a huge sense of achievement as we were descending and met walkers on their way up! Hannah from Girls on Hills took some lovely photos which I've added to the Gallery

Then last week I took a road trip south with both Wisp and Bruce (for my sins!). First call off was my friends in Mirfield, John and Helen and the dentist! Then Helen Elmore in Sheffield where I was talking at Hillborough Running Clun on Wednesday evening. That went extremely well and it was a great relaxing evening. On Thursday I headed south to Berkhamsted to visit Charlie, Carol and Lottie. Plus a venue for the FRA LiRF module course in Surrey on route to Devon to see my aunt Maggie. A couple of days spent there relaxing and watching Emily Cowper win the ladies race. Wisp is used to all this travelling but it was a first for Bruce and he was good overall! Lot's of "non Bruce" toys were moved overnight so he could sleep in the kitchens! By the end of the trip he was so used to hopping in and out of different vehicles and meeting people and dogs he was a chilled out little dog! But he has been King of his own castle since he's been home!! Gallery Family trip

 

7th March - Steve and I had a good day out on the Bruce's Crown route, running with Opentracking trackers checking the checkpoint locations are correct and where the dead spots are. I took ten hours to get from the Start to the bottom of Shiel Hill in 50km and Steve took 5 hours to get from Shiel Hill to the Finish at Caldons. The weather was claggy to start with which then cleared and became sunshine!! I love the Galloway hills when you can see right across the whole range, where you have been and where you're going! I have written up route notes on Bruces Crown website  and put lots of photos on the Gallery

29th February - I seem to have been non-stop recently with as my dad received the operation date he's been waiting for 12 months for and so I went to Glasgow to see him and spent a lovely couple of days keeping him company while he recovered. It was a TAVI to fix a valve in his heart that wasn't opening fully enough and he was excited at getting home and walking Monica the dog properly again.

Then home to organise the www.Hoppits.co.uk races for the last time since Mikey Brown from Dewsbury is going to be the new organisor from 2025 (in the blue jacket). The races went very well with loads of helpers as Mikey was there plus a few of his helpers. There was the right number of runners to have proper races but not too many to stress the organisation out! The sun nearly shone and everyone was in a good mood. Dave and Eileen Woodhead came and took loads of great photos as well as adding to the excitement of the day with their infectious enjoyment. Thank you to my special helpers over the years - Keith Holmes, Ian Charlesworth, Molly Charlesworth, Andy Plummer, Teresa and Nick Whittingham, Steve Sanders, Brent Lindsey, Helen Elmore who all give up a day (and a lot more in Keith's case) to help me make these races a success.

And onwards to www.BrucesCrown.co.uk - I've been out checking the course, cutting back where I can and making the route more obvious where forestry works have changed the layout on the ground. Organisation is coming on with Inov-8.com donating prizes and www.opentracking.co.uk being extremely helpful in answering questions about setting up maps and tracking. Steve and I are having a practice run next week to check for "dead spots" in mobile signal and I'll see if I can put that map up for people to follow us. Other than that it's all about food, checkpoints, etc etc. We don't have many teams entered (six paid up and two on the "Invited to pay" list) but we're going ahead as it's our first year and like Hoppits we know it will grow. If you are thinking of entering you could email me then we have a better idea of numbers on nicky@brucescrown.co.uk

 

20th February - Last week I travelled to Alston with Bruce and Wisp to meet Helen Elmore and Tim Rippon. We spent three days exploring new areas around the great Haggs Bank Bunkhouse which I discovered during the Spine reccies and it's just a great friendly hostel. I carried Bruce up Cross Fell which we did on the Tuesday in a cold wind but nothing like Spine conditions! Bruce was introduced to lots of things on this trip which was part of the reason for meeting up as I wanted him to learn about sleeping in the van, travelling, going to pubs, meeting people and dogs. We also got some lead practice and successfully negotiated a field of chickens! On Monday night we headed into Alston in search of a pub and all looked very quiet and closed but we spotted Turks Head Inn Alston just down from the co-op that was open and welcomed us and the dogs in. It really was the best "first" pub for Bruce and also a friendly pub for us and we spent both Monday and Tuesday evenings in there getting to know the owners and locals.  Selection of photos from me, Helen and Tim

Hoppits organisation is underway and I will be down on Friday 22nd to organise the races with Keith, Ian and Andy as usual. I will be passing this onto Dewsbury Runners from next year. This is my last year!!

 

10th February - Steve and I hiked up Merrick (well halfway up) with the dogs and Bruce in a rucksack. The weather was worse than forecast and we just checked the markings of the Merrick Hill race and then came back down to the warmth of the truck! More on www.Brucescrown.co.uk and Photos

Bruce is growing well and my recovery has been a walk / jog round the rough land near Mark on a morning and then some gardening or outside work from 4pm onwards in order to get him outside again. I've taken him on some longer hikes by carrying him in the rucksack on my front which sometimes he agrees with and sometimes he doesn't! This week however I've been itching to do some more so tomorrow I might have a warm up with him and then a longer run with just Wisp and Paddy (which they will love!). I've been busy organising Hoppits races along with Keith and we've getting everything sorted now.

 

3rd January - A recce of Bruce's Crown up Shiel Hill this morning in what was supposed to be sunshine but was raining and windy! Bruce wasn't happy at being carried but there was no way he was climbing it on his own little legs! Photos    Organisation of the Hoppits Races is underway and many thanks to my helpers at Penistone Footpath Runners and Keith Holmes for agreeing to do yet one more year for me! See you all there on 25th February!

31st January - Bruce's Crown organisation is gathering momentum and to help me and other runners I went on a recce yesterday. I've written it up on the  https://www.brucescrown.co.uk/News.htm page . I wanted Bruce to come with us but he's too young to be doing so much and so I carried him in a rucksack up all the ascents and along the forest track at the end (much to his annoyance there!). He's just the opposite of Joss in every way so far apart from their love of descending at speed and stopping by doing a rolypoly!

 

28th January - so I have finished the Spine and written it up today! Spine Race 2024.html

After I finished I came home with Anna (a lady I coach from Denmark who had finished the Spine North) and spent a couple of days recovering and sleeping a lot. Then I travelled to the National Running Show and then did a talk at Mavern Joggers on the Monday night before driving home on the Tuesday. It all seems a long time ago now and I'm trying to recover by having lots of walks with Bruce! Recovery is going well and I really am looking forward to getting back in the mountains I have missed.

The Bruce's Crown race organisation is coming on well. Entries have opened and I'm having regular meetings with Galloway Mountain Rescue.

While at the National Running Show I was approached by Mikey from Dewsbury Road Runners and they are going to take Hoppits on and so I have been busy getting that off the ground for 2024!! I'm really pleased and happy that the races will continue.

 

11th January - I was hoping for a long post but the day has been busy with Bruce having vaccination at the vets in Girvan and Spine packing (of course!). So tomorrow we're heading to Sheffield for the Spine registration on Saturday, and the start of the Spine on Sunday at 8am. I've enjoyed training and reccying for this race all summer and autumn. All the reccies, bar the last one, I did with Joss and once I get to Standedge I will be reminded of him a lot on route. This will be good for me as with the arrival of Bruce (who is completely different to Joss) I can look forward to running with dogs again. Wisp of course is still running strongly (even the vet said she's in fine health!) so once I've recovered from the Spine I'll be back out with two dogs (and Paddy sometimes) on the hills.

Back to the Spine - I'm looking forward to getting going and using the first section to Hebden Bridge as a kit and food check. The weather is looking cold and snowy in places. Just what I like and I'm happy with my kit and clothes.  You can follow me on https://live.opentracking.co.uk/spinerace24/

 

9th January - I hope to update again this week with news of the Spine race which I start on Sunday. And also more photos of Bruce the puppy - growing and being a terror. But for now I'm just letting you know that the www.BrucesCrown.co.uk website has been updated with the Route and Rules. I'm having a meeting tomorrow night with Galloway MRT and hope to know when entries are opening very soon. We have the Scottish Hill Runners permit and Forestry, Land Scotland are in the process of granting the permissions. All exciting stuff.

1st January 2024 - technically and when I next update (maybe this week) this will be a new Diary. The main news being that I drove to the Lakes last week, avoiding the floods but having to drive through some deep water on route. I stayed in the campervan with Wisp and on Thursday morning we went for a short run in the storm and then collected Bruce at 10.30am. The drive back was ok and he settled in well. He's not Joss and his character is different. He seems so little and fragile and we're trying to keep one step ahead with the eating and anxiety. I will be glad when we have done a week. Wisp and Paddy are being tolerant except when he tries to play with them. I have uploaded the photos of the day I collected him and since he's been at Mark in the new Gallery 2024/Bruce 

Today I have managed to get the JAlbum working again. Every time I have a computer issue I end up starting a new Gallery as otherwise I have in the past over-ridden the old one with the new rather than adding more to the old. So a successful today and the sun was shining for once so Bruce was able to spend more time in the garden and is well on the way to house training himself!