Trigger (Marsden to Edale) – Race Report

“You’re not a proper fell runner until you’ve done the Trigger” seems to be the word on the… er…. fells.  After focusing pretty much entirely on training for, and recovering from, the Lakeland 100 last year I decided to try something with a little less glamour.  An unmarked route from Marsden to Edale with a number of route choices, and almost certain poor weather, seemed like the ideal option.  At £15 with proceeds going to Woodhead Mountain Rescue, it’s a bargain race and if it meant I’d earn my proper fell-runner’s badge that would be a bonus too!

A gaggle of Glossopdale Harriers bundled into a taxi early Sunday morning to get to race registration at Marsden cricket ground.  It was a pretty smooth affair and without much fanfare we were off along the first section to Black Hill.  It was pretty easy to break the route into manageable sections to keep a bit of mental focus along the way – first, up and over Black Hill to Crowden, then Torside to Shelf Stones and then the final climb up Kinder Scout where you “simply” drop down to Edale to finish. Barely anything really!

I usually like to take things a bit easy early on in a race and push harder later on, but I knew the first section to Crowden would be good for me as there weren’t any particularly challenging climbs and it was largely on paths.  I knew I’d stand my best chance pushing as hard as I could early on and I’d just have to deal with the consequences later (which definitely became a bit of a challenge!)

Glossop Mountain Rescue were manning a Spine checkpoint (that had started the same day at Edale heading north) at Torside and Immy had come along to support the Harriers and handed me a falafel before I began the climb up Torside edge.  This was very much walking territory and I was starting to feel the effects of pushing things early on.  Torside edge and surrounding areas were a bogfest and visibility was poor but I trusted my compass and managed a decent enough line to get to Higher Shelf Stones (checkpoint 2).  Not too long later and some Harriers were out to support by Snake Summit, which was amazing in such horrible weather – at least I was moving whilst they were stood out there significantly exposed and getting cold to support the runners (thanks Tim, Lynne, Chris and Tracey).  I was hitting a low point here so it really helped to see some friendly faces.

By then, I only had one thing in my mind and that was to get to Kinder.  An off-track section was coming up along Withins Clough which was probably the most challenging section of the race for me – generally heather bashing and trying to cross deep groughs with mud everywhere.  I fell over numerous times (and have the bruises to prove it) and narrowly avoided falling down a large well-hidden hole which was at least as deep as me.  Occupational hazard I guess!

There weren’t any aid stations as such, just checkpoints, and whilst I got some small water top-ups, I knew I was running low.  I was starting to get dehydrated as my legs were cramping – on one of my tumbles I looked at my calf and the muscle was visibly writhing under my skin so I knew I needed to do something fast…. so I ate an electrolyte tablet.

Mouth frothing I tried to guzzle some of my limited water supplies and somehow death marched to kinder corner hoping that my body would start working again.  I kept telling myself it would all be ok once I’d climbed Kinder which of course it wasn’t, but at least most of the elevation would be done.

As I continued along the edge, I arrived at the Downfall and a woman on her own emerged from behind a rock with arm-outstretched and said “Sweetie?”.  It’s this kind of support that’s amazing but I did chuckle to myself imagining a pile of drugged-up fell runners behind her rock that she’d enticed with sweeties…

At the final checkpoint (Kinder Low) I knew it was just a matter of pushing along to the end now, so that’s exactly what I did.

I was in no condition to take pictures, so here’s a map of the route instead

Covering a distance of 25 miles, somewhat exhausted I crossed the line in 4:47:58 in 29th out of 169 finishers which was more than good enough for me (Results are HERE).  I didn’t really have much idea how long it would take as the route has changed over the years but I had a notional five hours in my head so was pleased to have got in under that.  Mark Davenport (a fellow Harrier) wasn’t far behind, along with Ian Crutchley after that, so we ate our much needed vegetable stew and made our way to the pub for the proper refreshments!

As a separate note, I’d jumped on the bandwagon of veganuary so had done 12 days of no animal products.  I just wasn’t sure if/how this would affect my running but had been feeling pretty good generally and this diet seemed to see me through.  I can’t really blame the cramping on a lack of meat/dairy!

Down on to the roads now for me with Manchester Marathon coming up in April, hopefully there’ll be less chance of falling down a hole on that one!


Lakeland 100 – Race Report

Everything started getting a little strange from Tilberthwaite… I only had 5.5km left but with a long climb and tricky descent it was looking to be an hour and a half at least. I knew something was wrong when everything went black and white. Then shortly afterwards I kept seeing animals and faces in every rock or twisted piece of wood, vivid pigs, old men and frogs.

As I glanced into the distance, I saw a suspended cube that was lit-up and looked like it had people in it. It could be a house, a conservatory, I have no idea but it soon vanished… I began to question if I was really here or even if the race was really happening and I imagined walking into Coniston to an eerily deserted town.  I knew I’d officially lost it when I saw a blow-up snowman with long snaking wobbly arms. It turned out to be a runner in the final death march into Coniston….

As I finally completed the rocky descent I started moving along a flat track but suddenly fog descended and I was walking into nothing. I laughed as nothing made sense any more, I don’t even know if the fog was really there.

This was during the last section of the Lakeland 100 and I was moving into my second night of no sleep. I managed to finish the race in 34 hours 14 minutes 35 seconds coming in at 140th out of 265 with a starting field of around 500.

Ready to get started

I’m a very positive runner and generally love every moment out there in the hills.  I’ve done several 50-milers (including the Lakeland 50) and have always been really positive throughout and met some amazing people along the way.  But, somewhat depressingly, after completing the Lakeland 100 I don’t feel as good as I thought I would.

What affected me most of all is that it came to a point when I couldn’t run.  As I descended from Fusedale towards Hawswater, what had started as a minor knee problem became incredibly painful and every step became agony.  I almost couldn’t believe it.  I was soaking, getting cold and my back was also ripped to shreds from rubbing.  I didn’t even want to think about what was going on inside my trainers.

At this point, circa 70 miles in, I had no idea how I could ever make it to the finish so made an impulse call to my friend Immy to pick me up at the next checkpoint – I was devastated but didn’t see how I could carry on.  Thankfully it was a long trek to the checkpoint so I had time to think things through.  I began to think about all the training hours, the effect on family, the mental preparation, and the disappointment of coming back having “only” done 75 miles.  I wanted that medal and I had to do this.

I kept thinking of a Wainwright quote “You were made to soar, to crash to earth, then to rise and soar again.” I had well and truly crashed to earth and although I knew I was never going to “soar” I could probably shuffle. I had no intention of coming back – it was now or never so I decided to press on.

The next 13 hours are almost a blur of eating sandwiches, pushing reasonably well uphill, walking the flats, but using my walking poles as crutches as pain shot through my knee on every descent.  One fellow competitor told me there was only one more descent after Mardale Head.  I can reliably say that this isn’t true but, even having done this section of the route, for some reason I believed him and it probably factored in my decision to carry on.  Just one more descent.

Five or six big descents later I arrived at Tilberthwaite and had a cheese toastie thrust upon me.  Taking a few minutes to prepare I pulled on my pack for the final time and headed up Jacob’s ladder where the mind bending became most apparent.

I finally made it to the end – I had always told myself that I would run over the line no matter what so pushed into a jog before the pubs in Coniston, the pain stopped mattering, it probably even went away – I had done it – I’d completed the Lakeland 100!

A well-deserved 5am pint

The whole race was a fantastic experience and took me to places mentally, physically and emotionally I’ve never been before.  I’m still disappointed with the effect my knee had on the second half of the race, especially as it wasn’t a pre-existing issue so took me a little my surprise and meant many more hours out on the hills.

I’m incredibly proud to have battled through and ultimately make it to the end.  I have utmost respect and admiration for those that come back time and time again to do this race – it is a classic on the UK calendar and the only one that inspired me enough to actually attempt 100 miles!

It feels strange now that it’s done after the best part of a year building up to it.  I’m now looking at quite a different year next year – I’m going to identify the local classics in and around the Peak District and get those in my Calendar!

Happy boy!

Running up and down the Lakes

After accidentally running the Lakeland 50, I had such an amazing time that I’ve now entered the Lakeland 100 in July 2019.  I met a whole bunch of great people and felt so good during the race.  I wrote in my last post that I’d focus on efficiency with training and ran no further than 20 miles during the build-up.  Here’s my full race report on RunUltra:

If running the length of the Lakes onces wasn’t enough, a few days ago I also completed Lakes in a Day – a 50 mile race from Caldbeck to Cartmel.  Oh, and how different it was – we battled through Storm Callum over some very testing terrain and it ended up taking me five hours longer than the Lakeland 50! I’m hoping to write a rain drenched report for RunUltra sometime soon, but here is Michelle and I at registration – how little we knew what was to come!

Start pic

I managed a few product reviews for RunUltra recently and have just received a pair of Hoka Evo Mafate to give a thorough bashing.  I’m also due to try out some Exposure Headtorches  which look great and its just the right time of year to get out in the hills in the dark!

Other recent reviews include: –

Montane Via Trail Series –

Scarpa Neutron 2 –


Feel the heat!

Do you know where you’ve been all year?  Well I didn’t, but thanks to Strava heatmaps I can find out!  I moved to Glossop in February so most of my running has been in and around the local area, trying to get up into the western Dark Peak (largely around Bleaklow).  Below is a screenshot of all of my local runs.

Glossop and surrounding area heatmap

I really find this technology facinating – obviously cartographers have painstakingly creating maps over the centuries but here just by movement (and fantastic GPS tech of course!) I’m creating my own map of the local area just by running around it.  Combine that with your local running club, or anyone else for that matter and you have a true pattern of how people move around an area.  Blistering red in city centres and main paths/tracks but thinning out as it spreads out far and wide tracking something thats probably never been done before – mass human movement.

Of course this only records those who choose to use fitness watches, but as smart watches and activity trackers are becomming more common place it could be expanded to all movements whether exercise or not.  What a fabulous dataset to record movement in the 21st Century!

My Strava movements in the north-west

On other news/reviews for this site: –

  • Race planning! I’ve tried to properly plan my 2018 races HERE.  Nothing too exotic, and this largely encompases my local club (Glossopdale Harriers) road and fell champs with the odd extras here and there. My big focus being the Lakes in a Day Ultra in October.
  • A couple of other new pieces on RunUltra; a review of the auto updating training plan Train As One HERE and they’ve very kindly wrapped me up in baselayers over the winter which will be published any day now.

Here’s to a great 2018!

On the mend?

It seems like forever since I’ve run “properly”.  I spent most of 2016 training hard but 2017 has been a bit of a flop with a few races, but not to the extent I wanted due to various injury issues throughout the year.  I’m currently waiting to see a specialist and am managing to do some low mileage so keeping things ticking over.  This site isn’t about moaning though, so here’s an update of other items in All Hail The Trail world….

In an effort to defend last years (Wo)man vs Barge shock first place, I went back again this year.  To spoil the story completely, I came 9th and ate a monsterous chip butty at the end.  Full report will be published in Novembers’ Men’s Running magazine.

More gear reviews for RunUltra, here’s my thoughts on the Craft Breakaway range.  Click the pic below:

In my longest section of non-running I decided to crack on with 6 x 10km laps of the Conti Thunder Run.  For a full race report click on the link below:

For the first time I’ve also entered Cross Country for Glossopdale Harriers which hopefully will be a nice end of the year getting back into training and racing again! Onwards and upwards!

The Dreaded DNS

I’ve just started doing some writing for “RunUltra” a great website dedicated to ultrarunning.  Unfortunately I didn’t start the Lakeland Trail 110km so wrote about my feeling on a DNS, click on the pic below:

Check out all the great articles, training, events etc. from the main page:

I’ve also started to do a few gear reviews for them, so i’ll link to them soon!

DNS… DNF… Do Not Know!

On Friday, I’m probably kind of, sort of, potentially running an ultra.  This year I’d opted for the Lakeland Trail 110km as my “A-race” but after a magnificent 2016, this year has seemed to just been plod along with a few niggles here and there, not bad enough to stop training completely, but not really the level of training I wanted to do to go into this strongly.  But a week ago I suddenly started getting a very tight hip and a few shooting pains on the one side – I immediately put the brake on running and have had a few tentative treadmill jogs over the last few days but am still getting some tightness and some pain…. 5 days before my A-race….

Its times like now we’re faced with a difficult decision.  Can I really run 110km in this condition? If not, is it worth starting?  If i do start what if i just make myself worse and ruin running later in the year?  The next few days will tell with some pilates and a physio session ahead of me, rest, good food and hopefully lots of sleep.  Come on Ultimate Trails, I wanna have a go at ya!