Archive for January, 2015

Saturday 10th January – The Pont D’Espagne snow race

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Report by Graham Stead: Following our first attempt at a snow race last year we decided to go for something a little more taxing this year, especially as Ann’s friend and fellow Otley AC member Gloria Jackson was over on holiday and keen to sample some snow running. The Pont D’Espagne snow race takes place at Cauterets cross county skiing resort on the France / Spain border so you are already starting at an altitude of 1500 metres without allowing for the 400m of climbing during the race. With race numbers restricted to 200 max for the two distances available 10k or 20k we entered early for the 10k, fearing a similar scramble for places as Chevin Chase, Brass Monkey etc. We ended up with race numbers one two and three !! The races were however full up by the entry closing date.
Joined by our ex-pat friend Rachael (Mercia Fell Runners) we arrived at the start to find a very young fit looking bunch of competitors and slightly worryingly discovered from the entry list that  Ann, Gloria and Rachael were the oldest 3 ladies in the race (by a fair few years).  Obviously snowy mountain running has not yet been discovered by fun runners over here and possibly deemed not suitable for us old folk. 
Not to worry though, conditions were fabulous for the race with a clear blue sky and temperatures forecast at 18 degrees. Unfortunately the recent warm spell had meant that the snow on parts of the course had crystalised so it was like running in soft deep sand in many places.  Having checked out the course last month our team aim had been to start quickly  and get ourselves in a good position by the time we reached the first single track climb up through the woods, 400m from the start. Unfortunately everyone else in the race had the same idea so after a mad dash up the starting hill we had to join an orderly queue for the next half mile or so until the course opened out. No PB’s today then. 
The first 6k or so were mainly climbing and the combination of altitude, soft snow and steep hills sapped every ounce of energy. It came as a great relief to us all when we reached the high point of the course and a sharp right saw us hurtling down a fast ski run. Every so often however you hit a soft patch of snow where your leg disappeared down a hole, bringing your body to a jarring halt.  
By this point in the race a small group of runners that Gloria was following had missed a directional arrow sending them higher into the mountains. Luckily they managed to correct themeselves before reaching the “Welcome to Spain” signs but it did add about 10 minutes to their times. Ann also lost a bit of time at the turning point as she got hungry and basically stopped for a picnic.
After one final sting in the tail, up and down another hill and ski run there was a good solid run into the finish where onlookers were sat out sunbathing. Lots of free wine and food followed along with a chance to enjoy the amazing scenery and fantastic atmosphere but unfortunately no Vets prizes as they probably didn’t expect any to enter. Rachael made the best start up the first hill and was rewarded with a finishing time well ahead of the rest of us, 59th in 1.11.27.
I finished 80th in 1.18.09  just 40 minutes+ outside my PB.  Ann was 93rd in 1.25.26 (1st and only vet 3) and Gloria 103rd in 1.41.46 (first and only Vet 2). Winner finished in 47.51
A quote from Gloria at the Finish – “Wow, that was tough. Can we do it again next year”.
We will definitely be returning but with no plans to try the 20k


Saturday January 10th – Fan Dance Race, winter edition

Report from Richard Clarke: Last Saturday I competed in the Fan Dance Race Winter Edition organised by Avalanche Endurance Events. I ran as a ‘load-bearing’ competitor, carrying a 25lb+ bergen over the 24 K course. The event is organised by former Special Forces personnel and closely follows an element of the SAS selection process. It is held at the same time of year, over the same course and with similar rules.
The course is an ‘out and back’ over Pen Y Fan (886m) in the Brecon Beacons. It starts with a fairly steep climb to the summit, followed by a longer, gentler run down the other side to the turn point.
Weather conditions were generally good, although it was very wet and extremely windy at points – blowing some competitors off their feet. Conditions got better during the day; the grey, wet and windy weather clearing to be replaced by some sunshine.
I completed the course in just under 5 hours without really pushing it and now fancy doing the summer event in July to get a better time.


January 10th/11th/12th – The Spine

Sarah with fellow Spine Challengers, Clare Holdcroft and Peter Hutchinson

Sarah with fellow Spine Challengers, Clare Holdcroft and Peter Hutchinson

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Photos courtesy of  Racing Snakes and Sean O’.


The Spine is billed as Britain’s most brutal race and they aren’t kidding or exaggerating!  The ‘challenger’ at 112 miles is the ‘sprint’ distance version taking in the pennine way from Edale to Hawes which competitors have 60 hours to complete. This may sound generous but don’t be fooled, take into account 15 hours of darkness a day, the weather, underfoot conditions and the compulsory kit list then it starts to make sense! This race was to be my 3rd attempt at the 100 mile plus distance (after 2* DNF on the lakeland 100) was it to be my 3rd DNF ? Well I’m happy to say no, I finally did it!  So if you have an aversion to pain, suffering and nasty feet then you can stop reading now, you know how it ends!

The challenger race set off at 6:30am on Saturday straight into the teeth of a ferocious storm which started at 6.29 and was to be the theme for the weekend. Before we even left the Edale valley we were getting blown off our feet and everyone stopped to put on ski goggles to cope with getting hail blasted into our faces at 70mph. I  tried to block out the conditions and not let it stress me out, if I had thought about the race as a whole and what it would be like if the weather continued like that I would have retired there and then! So on up onto Kinder and thankfully the rain and hail eased off but the strong wind remained and would be our tormentor for the rest of the race. Sometimes hitting us right in the face (particularly lovely when accompanied by hail or rain!), sometimes slamming us to the ground but mostly hitting us from the left so much so I now have aches in my left leg and right shoulders from constantly steadying myself and fighting against it! Kinder downfall became Kinder upfall in spectacular style and provided a lovely cooling shower as we passed (because it was so hot and dusty this was so welcome – not!!).
On Kinder I found myself going at the same pace as a guy called Pete and we got chatting and decided the thing would be more enjoyable / safer if we teamed up and ‘ran’ together. This was the first of many pieces of good luck and we would remain together to the bitter end each pulling the other along during the many low points.  Once it was fully light we started to make good progress particularly on the slabbed sections where we could get a decent run going! On over Bleaklow and then the long muddy decent to Torside reservoir where we stopped in the shelter of some woods to sort some kit and get some food in. We got stuck in and tried to push the pace to make the most of the short hours of daylight. Dusk was coming as we crossed the road at Standedge and I got a lovely surprise as Derek and the kids were waiting to give us a cheer as we came through, I even stole a cream egg off the kids, yum! After that boost we crossed standedge in a blizzard and it was now dark as we plodded on and crossed the M62 which was a bit odd seeing all those cars going their merry way. Our merry way was over black stone edge a confusing hotch potch of boulders and mud with a death defying drop somewhere off to the left in the darkness (no chance of falling off accidentally as the wind was blowing from that direction!) and on to the White House pub where the race safety team were checking numbers and our condition (yes wet wind blown but happy thanks v much). We resisted going in and pressed on towards CP1 at Hebden bridge but first some boring reservoirs and Stoodly Pike to negotiate, it was here we met Claire who would become the third member of our little team.
Checkpoint 1 is at mile 46 and not remotely in Hebden bridge, being about a mile off the pennine way down an enormous steep muddy hill through some woods (which of course we would need to go back up!), after falling over 358 times we finally reached CP 1 at about 11pm (about 16 1/2hours since leaving Edale)- happy with that given the conditions. At the checkpoint we set about demolishing large plates of chilli and sorting kit for the next leg. All thoughts of going for a particular time were thrown out of the window, I needed to plan to complete safely and that meant trying to get a bit of sleep whilst there was a bed on offer. So alarms were set for 2.30 although they weren’t needed as it was impossible to sleep: it was noisy and I was just too buzzed from the last 16 hours and thoughts of what was to come. Still it was good to get a rest and we left just after 3am back up the mud hill as the main flow of the long race runners were coming down (yes, there are some lunatics who are doing the whole pennine way 268 miles!) who started about 4 hours after us.
Still windy out and a bit of snow going over Withens where we were looking forward to having a breather in the little hut at top withins but some kind soul had locked it – bugger! Huddling outside wasn’t quite the same. It finally got light again as we climbed out from Ponder reservoir over some other interminable bogfest moorland into a hurricane, so I was pretty pleased and a little emotional to see my friend Kate jogging up the moor towards us offering soup and tea. We all piled into her van and got warm and drank loads of hot tea. This also gave me the chance to sort my feet out which had been giving me quite a bit of pain for a while. I had a few nasty toe blisters and on the balls of both feet so taped them up and hoped for the best. Unfortunately we had to leave the van and get on with the long and extremely muddy ups and downs from Cowling and through eventually to Gargrave. We got another surprise visit from my husband at East Marton which was well timed as it had been tipping it down for hours and we were getting pretty wet and cold. A quick hot chocolate and we pushed on to Gargrave and the hot pie counter at the coop. Sean had been tracking us and came out to give us a cheer into Gargrave and it was a lovely boost to see another friendly face before tackling the 6 mile bog snorkle into Malham in the fading light.
The ‘track’ into Malham was 6 miles of atrociously wet and muddy fields which was utterly grim and hard going, every step you ran the risk of dissapearing forever into the mire! We swam slowly northwards and close to Malham crossed a field that turned out to have some horses in which took exception to us being there. We were quickly surrounded and they tried to push us and eat our rucksacks (funny now not so much at the time) I’m sorry to say I had a bit of a sense of humour failure at this point and got a bit cross with the whole thing. Claire was mega calm as she was the whole time and Pete took charge and tried to get rid of them while we turned our torches off and made a run for it! By the time we got to the village we were very cold again so went in the pub for a cup of tea (oh the shame!) before pushing on up to Malham tarn and the small run through checkpoint at the field centre.
 All went well until we got to the tarn it was just so windy and cold up there and Claire and I were freezing when we got to the checkpoint. CP1.5 is at about 85 miles ish and not a ‘full checkpoint’ like at Hebden but they had a warm room, a chair and hot tea which was all we needed. The weather was again deteriorating and so was I, we decided it wasn’t safe to push on through the night without a decent stop as the next part of the route would take us over Fountains Fell and Penyghent, which is very exposed. So we put my tent up and Claire and I squeezed in and tried to get 2.5 hours kip (hardcore Pete bivvied outside!) which wasn’t too successful as the noise of the wind and rain and the tent side being blown into my face wasn’t exactly relaxing!
We set off again about 3am, 4 hours after arriving. The weather was now truly shocking mixed in with the hurricane we had driving rain, the kind that feels like someone is hosing you down. Hitting the top of Fountains Fell we could barely stand and had to push and pull each other along, our little team truly worked together and I will be eternally grateful for their company (these two totally embodied the true spirit of the ultra running community). Dropping down again I had a complete paddy at my hood as the wind kept whipping it off my head as one of the toggles had come loose, I completely lost it (foot stamping and everything!) and Pete tried to fix it for me (bless!). We eventually hit the road and dived into a barn that Claire knew about, to sort ourselves out. Pete was very cold so we had to get some warm dry base layers on him before continuing, the barn was a godsend! Before heading up Penyghent we were met by mountain rescue guys and were told not to go over the summit as it was too dangerous, they were diverting racers down the brackenbottom track from the hole in the wall.
 We reached Horton just as it was getting light and found the Penyghent cafe open (the guy had been open all night sheltering racers and providing food and hot drinks – what a hero), one of the race organisers was there and we were told we couldn’t leave until 8am as the race had been suspended temporarily due to the conditions (apparently this happened just after we left Malham tarn so had been out in it whilst others were held at checkpoints!)-  people would be credited with the time back but all I cared about at that point was ordering a pint of tea and some chips for breakfast !! We spent an hour and half there gradually covering the cafe in mud and water and wet gear but the chance to dry some critical bits of kit was crucial before we tackled the final 13 miles over the exposed Cam road to Hawes.
We made good progress up to the high point and were positively motoring along at a blistering 3mph uphill – keen to get done now! But The Spine wasn’t finished with us yet, it was if the race was doing everything and throwing everything at you to break you. I wouldnt have been suprised if we had a plague of locusts next! The Cam road was freezing and the wind relentless, we were blown over several times and practically staggered and half crawled at some points it seemed like hours but finally we began to lose height and could see Hawes far below. I started to well up but held it together as we entered the town and went into the finish all together. Massive relief and an overwhelming feeling of contentment at a job done. Claire and I finished joint second lady which was a nice surprise  but we didn’t really care, we had finished and thats what mattered. We were about 24th and 32 finished out of 67 starters (unofficial). My time was something over 55 hours (the times on the website don’t seem to reflect all the time credits yet not that I’m bothered!!). I’m overwhelmed by all the messages of support and that people were watching the trackers, this was a great motivator so thank you so much (come on move your butt people are watching!). The Spine race has a unique atmosphere and I feel priviledged to have been part of the family for a short time. They really look after you and the racers are definately a unique bunch too!  So is The Spine Britain’s most brutal race? Hell yes! Will I be back? TBC.



Sunday January 11th – Garstang 10k

Report from our newly crowned RoM, Howard Jeffrey: OK, I had a rest on new year’s day and went to make up the relay team numbers in the under 16 girls team (and I cudda been a contenda) at York on 4th January.

I am now in training for the Euro Long Distance Duathlon championships in April so am spending time in the saddle watching TV and DVD’s (in foreign languages) and must be turning into a kind of ‘turbo potato’. I went to Garstang and got mashed into 3rdplace in the category!

No surprise to regular readers as Lancashire races can be tough, for spindle limbed are they… and cunning! The conditions were good if a little breezy at times and the course is pleasantly undulating through lovely countryside. The race was won by Ben Lindsay in 30.49 of ‘Manhattan Project’ (obviously not weighed down by having any skin), 1st Lady Joanne Nelson in 38.22 of Darwen Dashers. 1st 0/60 a good minute and a half ahead, was the one in front at Denby Dale, so has to be the target.

I was 4 seconds behind 2nd in 42.07, which was exactly the same chip time as 1st 0/65, who was 90 seconds ahead at Guys 10. I had set off steadily as yesterday I had to cut back on even my slow training run as I was moving like a 1960’s zombie but when I got going today, I had a solid run, finishing 80th out of 474 and sole for Otley AC. Full results

Tapering this week for the Brass Monkey next weekend and weather permitting.. 1.30 ish target.


Saturday 10th January – Park Runs

Leeds Park Run Results


Position Gender Position parkrunner Club Run Time
1 1 Tom EAMES West Suffolk AC 00:17:26
14 1 Treena JOHNSON Dewsbury Road Runners 00:19:51
73 67 Andrew Webster Otley AC 00:23:13
162 29 Susan TUPLING Otley AC 00:26:38
256 78 Imogen Webster Otley AC 00:30:08
327 122 Molly STORER Otley AC 00:33:51
326 121 Alice WEBSTER Otley AC 00:33:51

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Saturday 10th January – Yorkshire Cross Country

Report from the Hon. Handicapper:

For the third consecutive year the Lightwater valley amusement park hosted the Yorkshire Cross country championships.  The course was surprisingly dry after heavy overnight rain and sheltered for most of the time from the strong winds.  Jonathan Thewlis from Notts AC was a clear winner in 35:44, not far off a minute clear of Alan Buckley of Leeds City 36:35.  Feeling a little short on speed from his marathon training, Frank Beresford had a solid run for 33rd, 39:40.  I was next in 65th, 41:58 after being spiked in the rough & tumble on the first bend.  Shane Ewen continued his good form for a top 100 finish, 94th 43:45, Jon Greenwell also ran well for 118th 44:54.  See full results here.


Saturday 3rd Jan: Park Runs

Leeds Park Run

Position Gender Position parkrunner Club Run Time
1 1 Rashaad JORDEN Unattached 00:17:34
13 13 Jeremy Stewart Otley AC 00:18:55
29 1 Treena JOHNSON Dewsbury Road Runners 00:19:33
38 37 Steven Robinson Otley AC 00:20:14
92 79 Andrew Webster Otley AC 00:23:07
217 54 Imogen Webster Otley AC 00:28:25
322 112 Alice WEBSTER Otley AC 00:34:38
324 114 Molly STORER Otley AC 00:35:06


Bradford Park Run

Position Gender Position parkrunner Club Run Time
1 1 Scott Harrington Otley AC 00:16:49
6 6 Richard Anthony SMITH Otley AC 00:18:23
26 1 Claire COOPER Keighley & Craven AC 00:21:12
75 71 Eriks Zvaigzne Otley AC 00:23:52
224 166 William TURNER Otley AC 00:29:30


Fountains Abbey Park Run

Position Gender Position parkrunner Club Run Time
1 1 Reece DALTON Ripon Runners 00:17:06
4 1 Hannah OLDROYD Airedale Dodgers 00:18:27
29 25 Howard Jeffrey Otley AC 00:21:03




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Junior of the Month

Well done to Lucia Stoney and Aston Brogden! Both of December’s winners have consistently impressed with a lot of effort in training and racing. They both took part in the Stoop Fell Race; Lulu was 1st in her category.

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Runner of the Month – December 2014

tamarahoward2The honours for last month go to Tamara Weatherhead and Howard Jeffrey.

Tamara for her club record run at the Ribble Valley 10k.

Howard for several top performances over the month and not to forget Howard’s entertaining reports, is he the Angel of the North Leeds?


Thursday 1st January – Hardmoors 30

Neil Charlton reports:

This was my second ‘mini ultra’ in a month, the idea being that stringing a few together would yield better results! I’m not sure that worked this time but it was a great day out besides the weather which was windy and wet.

Starting in Robin Hoods Bay which is about 6 miles south of Whitby, the course was a sort of figure of 8 using the start / finish as the centre point. The first 13 mile loop heading north, inland along a flat track which afforded us some great tailwinds and a speedy first 5 miles or so. Then we entered Whitby and ran through the town up through the Abbey ruins and then south along the cliffs back toward Robin Hoods Bay. This is where it got harder with the cliff top paths being very very muddy and slippery. That coupled with the head wind made it tough to stay upright and running at times. There were a few parts of the cliff which seemed to have eroded too meaning the path was about 2 feet from some very big drop into the north sea which was quite unnerving at times.

After checking back in to Fylingdales Hall for a banana and a quick chat with Shirley we headed for a slow but steady 5 mile ascent along the Cinder Track south. I passed a couple of people but the strength in my legs letting me down slightly again (I know what training I need to do for next time). Muscles starting to tire now and I had lost the spring in my movements. I knew this was where it would start to be more difficult.

A little jaded from my Pately Bridge experience three weeks ago, I just wanted to keep moving at some kind of running pace, only walking for the most difficult of hills. We were now headed back along the Cleveland Way and back toward Robin Hoods Bay for the second time. The wind was again blowing head on (how does this happen?) but I managed to keep moving in a manner that might have looked to some like some sort of ”running’, all the way back.

I felt stronger at the end than The Frostbite Ultra so some of the training must be working.

I finished in just over 5 hours in 44th place which is slower than I wanted but I’m mostly happy.

The race was won by Ben Hamilton in 3.43 with first lady being Heather Mockrie Mochrie in 4.39. Full Results Here