Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Have I got a plan?

A few days have passed since the thought of doing the PBR entered my head. I've had my head down gathering information on the route, and have read a few accounts and even watched a poorly made but sunny home video - which to be honest only served to disguise the harder realities of the challenge. (No disrespect to the runner in it intended) I've now got the route in my head in terms of how the mountains fall according to the downloadable suggested timing plan. I've matched photographs from different angles of each of the 47 peaks as they appear on the timing plan. This with a little knowledge of parts of the course gained from my mountaineering days has given me a clearer picture to visualise. I've also studied the OS map in detail of each leg. It's a lot of very rugged ground!. It's also 3 times more running climbing than I've done in one session to date. The plan at the moment is to develop my current Ultra running experience with a couple more Ultras in the late spring and summer this year and maybe add another towards the end of the year. Next year all being well, I'll aim to do the Fellsman in May which is 11,000ft over 62miles and then for the run up to Autumn 2011 I'll spend time on the PBR course itself. I'll also look at covering the first leg later this year, after that I'll know if I'm capable of a serious attempt or not. The more I look at it the more I can see putting a reliable pacing and support team together being an equal challenge to the run itself. As I progress this year and speak to people etc this problem may sort itself out. Meanwhile its back to nosing around to see what i can find on the subject.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Paddy Buckley Round could be the one

I've started the year feeling I need a bigger plan. I already intended on doing two Ultras this year amongst other stuff, but I've begun to feel I need to set my sights on something a little higher, something a lot more challenging. I looked around and didn't really see much that I fancied. I've now found something that's certainly out there - The Paddy Buckley Round takes in 47 Welsh peaks over 60 odd miles with 28000ft of climbing, most runners aim to do it in 24 hours. It's said to be 1hr tougher than the Bob Graham Round. Having spotted it, I've since read a few accounts by people who've run it. I'm beginning to realise the size of the job. It looks like a lot of runners organise a team of support people to do various jobs on the day. So the first task for me would be to establish a support team, difficult enough in itself when the event would have to be next year. I'm thinking of a 2011 date sometime in hopefully settled weather in late August or early September. There's no way I'd like to do it in the heat of the summer. So, I have plenty of time to plan towards an effort. As part of the training I could do with completing something tough later this year, I'll have a look at possibilities soon. Many things may happen to hinder between now and a date that far in the future, I suppose every runner faces that. I'm attracted to this not least because it's Wales. I've mountaineered in the Welsh Mountains for years but still haven't seen a lot of them. I haven't fully decided to do it yet because I haven't read up enough on it. But the fact I'm blogging about it tells me I'm likely to commit soon. Out on my local hill run last night I could see the snow streaked gullies of the hills and mountains that make up the Paddy Buckley course approximately 60 road miles into the distance - I felt a little nervous pang in the pit of my stomach when I thought that's how far the PBR is!

Monday, 18 January 2010

"Can we get on with it please?"

Dot and I enjoyed the melting snow and ice last night during a 2 and a half hour run on the hill. Still a bit cold and very difficult stuff to run on. (Even harder to sit on says Dot!) Once again my busy weekend went fast and before I knew it I only had an hour of daylight left of the weekend. So I tailored my plans to a slightly shorter route. Not quite! During the decent I was enjoying it so much I decided to traverse the hill for a couple of miles gradually gaining height again before heading down and home. This meant an hour and a half of running in the dark using Dot's bright white coat as a guiding light along the sometimes snow packed, sometimes thigh deep soft stuff and loads of ice cold melt water streams. Feet numb with cold I got to thinking this was like 'ice therapy' as you run - can't be bad. A glance back to the summit ridge revealed a beautiful new moon with a bright star to its left sitting above the pitch-black curved land back-lit by a peach/orange sky - At that moment all was well in my world.

Friday, 15 January 2010

A Decent Winter Run Out

The top of Moel Famau - In very rare winter conditions

This is a recent post I put up on a thread, not sure if it's the done thing but I thought it worth recording here.

Saturday morning in beautiful sunshine and sub zero temps - up early and put a simple pack together. Dot, Vince and I were off on the hill. Vince piled on the pace running uphill from the start on perfectly compact snow. We wound our way up the very steep approaches to the more exposed shoulder and summit of Moel Famau. Not a sole about at 9.00 o'clock. The running here was hard straight from the car because the ever enthusiastic Vince set a crisp pace. Once out of the protection of the forest the compact snow path vanished into something a little more like snow. Still the sun shone and the wind blew, we were in good spirits and soon standing on the very top. The wind up here was keen, but in the sunshine it didn't feel so bad. I pulled my fleece hat over the windward facing ear and led off down the North facing slope. The running here was tough - no visible path as the drifting snow had covered any tracks from any of the previous days walkers. We 'ploughed' on for another couple of miles to another notch between two facing summits. Here the wind is usually brisk, today it was blowing very brisk from the North East and was packing an 'icey' punch' I estimated - 15 - 20 wind chill could have been colder. Within 2 minutes of us being in this exposed notch, Vince was feeling it badly. I was fine Dot was fine (I asked her) - except she was struggling with the 3 foot depth often crashing through the crust and re-appearing with frozen eyeliner and frosty nose caused by the moisture instantly freezing the second it was exposed to the vicious wind. A quick check on Vince who was not happy, I made a half decision to knock off the top at the very next opportunity. Half a mile or so on Vince picked up and was warm again. Cancelling the half decision we decided to do another mile and half or so of the exposed ridge. The running became tougher here and Dot had to be carried. Vince was soon in trouble again. There was no way off for at least half a mile or so and the wind was back and it was biting. No choice but to continue and make ground. I was comfortable with the situation knowing that we were less than a quarter of a mile from the decent path to lower ground and easier running and weather. The head of the path soon became visible or invisible! due to the drifting snow which was up to 5 feet deep in parts. After half running half swimming through the snow choked decent gully for 10 minutes we were standing sheltering behind a road sign. Vince was very cold and very unhappy. He refused to drink and took one bite out of a half frozen banana - not good. Best to keep going. So off we trotted back on better snow dropping height all the time. We we're still on the North side of the hill in its deep shade and heading into a slight but freezing breeze. Ironically I got cold here for the first time, Hands! Hands! Hands! (Especially recently cut finger!!!) It was decision time again - would we cut out and head for the near-by village or plan a return loop back to the car. We were both warmed up now and back in the sunshine our spirits were lifted. I planned a sensible hill route back keeping mainly to the sunny side of the hill and avoiding the very exposed tops. The running now was superb if not very exhausting. After 5 or so miles of this we were both glad to see the car. Dot seemed a bit disappointed the fun had stopped! 3 and half hours of the toughest winter running I've done so far. Back to my house for porridge and brown sugar and a gallon of tea. Vince warmed up enough to drive home. I had a joiner working in the house, what he must have thought when I squeezed past him in my hall explaining that I needed to get my core temperature up again by burying myself under my duvet for a couple of hour - it being the middle of the day he looked at me worryingly.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


The last time I ran was the last time I blogged. Another 'freak' injury stopped me in my tracks the week before Christmas. I had decided to run through this Christmas and New Year. (In previous year's I'd 'fatten up' during the holiday right through to the new year. The 'freak' accident involved DIY, a Stanley knife and my finger. It's always the way when you're rushing - slight lack of concentration and the male of the species propensity to be brave (carefree) with dangerous tools. The resulting cut or to be more accurate 'chop' was down to the bone of the joint of my wedding ring finger - which took a couple of days to properly hurt. There was no chance of running through Christmas. So I took the opportunity to 'fatten up' once again. Christmas was busy right through to the New Year for me with travel North and South with a New Year's Eve wedding consuming most of my time. So here we are into the New Year, my finger's healed, I've packed on 10 lbs and enjoyed every calorie. I'm now ready to roll (so to speak) Britain's been in a state of deep freeze for a few weeks and I've been desperate to get out and run some snow. Yesterday work was cancelled so I took the opportunity to coax Dot from under her duvet and we both headed for the nearest hill. Running in a foot of perfect powder snow and climbing through a frozen hillside forest, this was my reward for making the effort. I felt really good considering the extra weight, remnants of throaty cold and a couple of weeks being well lazy.

I decided before Christmas to cancel my C7 disc operation that was booked for the 12th. It was a fairly serious operation and would have stopped my running for at least three months. I consulted my Doctor yesterday and he agrees that for now I've made the right decision. This is a very positive start to the new year for me, so I intend on making the most of the reprieve. Time to start planning some events and getting some entries sorted. Cader Idris looks like a starter. I fancy some Welsh mountain running. Will hope to do a better time at the Osmotherley Phoenix 33 in July. Then a 50m somewhere and will certainly do the Snowdon Marathon for the 4th time. I'll be looking for a flat marathon at some time to get a time. along with that, I'll have to see. If I have as good a year's running as 09 I'll be happy. I'm still busy finishing projects in the house, but there is light at the end of that particular tunnel. Next year when the chores are done, who knows what adventures lay in wait?

No real New Year resolution for me, other than to run when possible!