Supporting Katrina at the Devil o’ the Highlands

It was my turn to support Katrina as she ran the 42 mile Devil o’ the Highlands race for the 2nd time. The race is on the top section of the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to Fort William.

I was able to have a couple of runs totalling 18.88 miles so I had a good time too!

Katrina finished in 9hrs 29mins 50secs and really enjoyed the race though she was sick on and off from about 19 miles. I ran with her for the last 5.5 miles and I was impressed with how strong she was running right to the end.

I took lots of video clips of the start and the majority of the runners on the Devil’s Staircase. I’ve put them together in a video. It lasts just over 30mins …

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Review of July 2018

July was a good month of solid training which included our holiday walking round the Tour of Mont Blanc.

I ran/walked a total of 212.99 miles. Here are the stats.

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In graph form …

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In diary form with cycles …

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I like to keep a track of different types of runs throughout the year …

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I’m ahead of the red line in my goal of running 2018 miles in 2018

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Video of our Tour of Mont Blanc

Katrina & I had an amazing week walking around the Tour of Mont Blanc. As you might expect I took lots of photos and videos and I’ve put a diary of our trip together.

Hopefully it will give you a sense of the amazing scenery we walked through!

Posted in Holiday, Tour of Mont Blanc | 2 Comments

Dragon’s Back Recce weekend 1

I really enjoyed my first recce weekend on the Dragon’s Back course with my good friend Andy Cole. I’m in doubt that this is going to be a tough challenge that is going to test me to my limits.

I drove down to Chester arriving at Andy’s house at 6pm. Andy’s wife Jan provided a lovely meal before we drove in convoy to Llanberis where we were staying at the Chester Mountaineering Hut.

We decided to have an early start with the hope that we might finish in time to catch at least the second half of the England v Sweden quarter final (we didn’t!!).

We left at 6am, left one car near Pen-y-Pas and drive to the start in Conwy. We started running just before 7am in beautiful weather.

I took lots of photos and video clips so I won’t write a full description but maybe highlight a few lessons.

  • I wore my new Altra Lone Peak and I was really happy with them. Enough cushioning and good grip.
  • I drank all the water I took and was very grateful we could refill in a stream on the way down to Llyn Ogwen.
  • The initial climbs are fairly straight forward on mainly good paths but it is important to remember there are lots of really tough climbs to come!
  • I need to work on my downhill running. I’ve never been good but have improved a bit but to do well in this race I need to be able to descend on rough ground quicker than at present.
  • The descent to Llyn Ogwen was pretty tough especially coming off the top. A lot of boulders to climb down.
  • I used poles going up Tryfan and the Glyders and felt they really helped.
  • The climb up Glyder Fach was really hard. It is on loose scree and so hard to get a grip. I felt as though I was taking 2 steps up and sliding 1 step down. I was happy to make the top!
  • The descent to Pen-y-Pas was okay.

On Sunday we left at car at Nantgwynant and then drove back up to the car park below Pen-y-Pass to start our day. It was another stunning day weather wise and the views all day were amazing.

  • The climb up Crib Goch needs my full concentration. Andy said that on race day there are a number of marshals to guide you on the best line.
  • I was fairly happy on the ridge though not as confident as Andy who walked along the top. I preferred to be slightly to the left side so I could old on!
  • The descent off Snowdon is a pretty steep and will test the quads especially on Day 1 when I will have been on the move for well over 10hrs by then.
  • The descent to the end of Day 1 is okay but I’ll need to concentrate on finding the right line.
  • The gpx line on my Suunto Ambit was excellent and very accurate which gave me a lot of confidence that I would be able to follow that even in bad weather.

I took splits for all the official checkpoints so I have a clear record of the distances and height gained and lost for each section. If you are interested here it is.

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Andy was a great guide and we really enjoyed the weekend together which is just as well as we have three more planned!

I took lots of video clips and photos and I’ve put them together in one of my videos so I can rewatch which I’ll do many times.

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Plans for my Dragon’s Back Recce Run

My big target for 2019 is the Berghaus Dragon’s Back.

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Even though I have 3 more ultras to run this year

  • Ring o’ Fire – 3 day 135 miles – Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September
  • Dunoon – 33 miles on Saturday 6th October
  • Hardwolds 80 on Saturday 24th November

I have already started planning and thinking about next year’s Dragon’s Back RaceScreen Shot 2018-06-29 at 18.48.58

For any big challenges like this I love to recce the route to help me in my preparation both physically and mentally. My good friend Andy Cole has started the Dragon’s Back race in 2015 and 20017. Sadly Day 3 has proved to be a leg too far but he loves the route and was very happy to help me in my preparation. Andy  suggested that we try and cover the majority of the route this year so that I have a good idea of the route and what I’ll need to work on when I start my specific training from January 2019.

Andy & I have various commitments with holidays and races but we have managed to find 4 weekends between now and October. Our plan is to cover each day of the race over a weekend. Here are our dates:-

  • Sat/Sun 8th & 9th July
  • Sat/Sun 18th & 19th August
  • Sat/Sun 20th & 21st October
  • Sat/Sun 27th & 28th October

I’m really looking forward to this first weekend. I’m driving down to Chester, where Andy lives on Friday after work. Jan has kindly offered to feed us before we drive to Llanberis where we will stay in a climbing hut that Andy has access to. Then on Saturday morning we will drive in two cars to Pen-y-Pass where we will leave one car at Pen y Gwryd Pub. Then we’ll drive the other car to Conwy where the race starts at Conwy Castle.

We will then run on the route to Pen-y-Pass.

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I think it is around 21 miles but these distances are guesses at the moment. I will be get the actual distances on the day.

There are lots of points in the race where you have to dib in so I’m going to note the distances for each of these. Distances shown are my guesses!

Day 1

Once we finish we’ll need to drive back to Conwy to pick up the car before heading back to Llanberis for the night. The only downside to this plan was I didn’t plan for England reaching the Quarter Final of the World Cup! So as England play Sweden we will be making our way over Glyder Fach!

On Sunday the plan is to drive to Nantgwynant which is the campsite for Day 1. We will leave one car there and drive the other car back to Pen y Gwryd Pub and run the section from Pen-y-Pass  to Nantgwynant which is around 9 miles but includes the Snowdon horseshoe which I last did with Katrina on our honeymoon 33 years ago!!

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Day 2

Once we finish we will dive back to Pen y Gwryd to collect our car and then we’ll head home. Andy to Chester and me to Paisley.

I plan to take lots of video clips of the route which will help me with my preparation. In fact I’m hoping Andy will star on my videos explaining the route choices.

Once we have done this weekend we will be able to plan the rest of the weekends and how much we want to cover each day.

I’m really looking forward to this first weekend on the route and it will be great to spend the weekend with Andy. I hope he feels the same come Sunday!

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Summary of June 2018

June was definitely an easier month as I continued to recover from the Northern Traverse. I ran 131.92 miles which I was happy with.

A list of all my runs …

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In graph form …

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In diary form

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Types of runs so far this year. I’ve ran 1056.76 miles in the first 6 months so on target to reach 2018 miles in 2018 …

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LOVEultras 041 Dragon’s Back 45 weeks to go

My main race for 2019 is the iconic Dragon’s Back starting on Monday 20th May 2019.

I plan to do some regular, but not weekly!, vblogs about my preparation. In this first one I have a look at the race website and outline my plans for covering the course on some recce runs with my good friend Andy Cole.

There are also some photos and video clips from my walk with Katrina yesterday when we climbed 4 Munros.

Posted in dragon's back ultra, LOVEultras | 3 Comments