I spend most of my life training on my own, which on the whole I don’t mind but when you have to do three long runs in a week it does sometimes become a mental battle and it can be rather lonely. However last week I ran with a friend, the sun was shining and like a couple of kids in a sweet shop went exploring the various footpaths that cover our local areas. It was absolutely fantastic, we saw an area of Kent that we both know well from a completely different view point and spent the entire run with smiles on our faces – both of us were on a high for the remainder of the day – that’s why I run.
HWMBO, Becky, Paul and myself enjoyed a wonderful weekend on the Grand Union Canal on a boat supporting/encouraging the amazing runners as they went through CP 4
Last week HWMBO and myself popped up to Scotland to look at a house, visit my mum and do a bit of running. I did a wonderful run up and around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh – ran round twice to make sure I was getting enough hill work in and the following day ran with Debbie King who I had met in the Jungle in 2012, a wonderful lady and as it happens it was also her birthday so great to catch up and talk constantly (when we could breath!)
On Friday I caught a train to Darlington where Philip very kindly picked me up and drove me to CP4 of The Spine just south of Alston on the Pennine Way where we met up with Javed, Kate and Ernie who were walking down the road to the pub for some food. They had already pitched their tents so we drove to the campsite, put up my tent and drove down to the pub to meet the others (with 80 miles do to over the next couple of days I wasn’t going to waste energy walking!)
The plan for the weekend was to run/hike as a recce from Alston all the way through to the finish at Kirk Yetholm an approximate distance of 128km. Debbie who had taken part in the GUCR recently very kindly agreed to be our support crew which was fantastic and extremely kind. We set off just after 7am on Saturday morning and very quickly divided into two groups. Javed, Philip (Alice the dog) and myself, then Kate and Ernie. My aim was to practice my map reading skills and obviously get to know the route a bit better.
Javed and Philip are both Fell runners, so I was more than happy to let them go first (I hate holding people up, makes me feel under far too much under pressure) The scenery was wonderful and we managed to follow the route on the map without any major issues – Philip even gave me an excellent lesson/refresher course on taking a bearing, good to keep skills fresh!
Javed at one point nearly trod on this beautiful Adda, thankfully no one was hurt!
Night time navigation was the worst as you simply can’t work out where the paths are. Luckily for us we had way more daylight ours than we will get during the race itself which made a huge difference, however we still struggled in the dark. This is where the GPS comes in handy keeping you on track – you may not be on the right path but at least we were heading in the right direction and not wasting precious time.
For some reason I struggled with tiredness at about 3am but usually I’m OK once it get’s light but unfortunately this time I didn’t manage to so Javed very kindly brewed a cup of delicious coffee and we continued on our way – it really did the trick.
Last year apparently the runners were diverted just before Byrness to miss out Houx hill which was extremely boggy so we took the alternative route. Lessons learned on this section were which path to take – we took not the wrong one but not the best so had to climb up to the route above which should have we taken in the first place, it would have made a big difference with time. There was also another section where there were two options – Pennine Way or the Alternative Pennine Way. Javed and I took the Pennine Way route and in fact would have been better and faster taking the other route (can’t remember exactly where that was, I’m sure Javed will remember though)
Coming up to the first mountain rescue hut seemed to take forever and finally we made it, had something to eat and were quickly on our way again.
Getting to the next mountain hut took forever and it was only about 7 miles away but 7 miles over that sort of terrain can take forever (uneven, hilly, boggy) I finally made it to the top but wasn’t a happy bunny. My feet were sore and I knew I had two small blisters due to having wet feet but had made the decision not to take my trainers off as this usually causes more issues.
After leaving the 2nd hut we had a horrid descent – Javed skipped down I thumped my way down feeling very sorry for myself but perked up near the bottom when I saw this:
A rescue helicopter had been hovering overhead and descended into the valley, as I got closer I saw them winching someone out of the valley and into the helicopter – it all happens on the Pennine Way!
The finish was in sight and finally I saw HWMBO who had been there since 1pm waiting for me – he told me that he would meet us at the car park just up the road (about 3/4 of a mile from the actual finish) as we were late for our lunch (note to self must run faster!)
All in all a great weekend, fantastic company, lovely but very tough course but I’m glad I did it. All this is in preparation for next years Spine Race where hopefully this time I will finish and NOT pick up any injuries. There is one section I would like to get done before I disappear to South Africa.