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Where have you been?

By The Long Trail 2014.07.30 in Runs

What a few months since my last post. Its been so busy that I haven’t had time to upload thoughts and views from recent events and travels which may have had people wondering where I have been. So here is a bit of an extended post.

Double Header

So I continued my training for longer events this year with 2 challenge walks back to back on the 5th and 6th of April. I wanted to push myself as much as I could and these trails were a good practice. The first challenge on the Saturday was the Barbondale Round, 24 miles which started and finished near Kirkby Lonsdale. An up and down route made challenging towards the end by a long final climb. At this point the weather really turned for the worse, the cloud was down and I couldn’t see anything let alone another competitor. It was pretty bleak but it did give me the opportunity to make sure I can use my GPS to successfully navigate my way. Once back at the village hall the usual LDWA event pie and peas awaited me.

barbondale certificate

barbondale mist

 It was up and out early on the Sunday to head over to near Harrogate for the Blubberhouses Moor 25 mile. Another LDWA event so guaranteed good organisation, checkpoints and a hearty meal at the finish. A nice downhill start followed by a stretch along the reservoir was the perfect tonic to ease tired legs from the day before. After that there was quite a bit of climbing as well as the obligatory bog section to navigate. I was more than happy to complete in a time of 5hours 31mins. A successful weekend all round, on to the next challenge.

Blubberhouses certificate

blubberhouses peak

 Levi but not as I know it

We usually try to have a family skiing holiday each year. Now we have slightly become creatures of habit. Due to school holiday restrictions and also liking a very short transfer from the Airport, our destination of choice is the report of Levi in Finnish Lapland. We usually head over early January when the days are short, temperatures cold and skiing is under floodlight. This year we headed over at Easter which turned out to be the last week of the season for UK travellers.

levi main slope

What a difference this made it was a positive heat wave compared to January, skiing was an absolute pleasure without the fear of getting too cold and although the streets had lost their snow it still had some of its winter wonderland charm about it. All in all a great time to go so if you are considering that part of the world don’t rule out the end of the season, skiing normally continues into early may.

levi slope

2 out of 3 ain’t bad (apparently!!)

I can’t believe how quickly the year seems to have crept up. I struggled to fit in an event of any significant distance in May which meant I headed into the 3 rings of Shap on 14th June not quite as prepared as I should have been. This is another LDWA event totalling 62 miles made up of 3 different circular routes starting and finishing in Shap, Cumbria. Ring 1 is 18miles, 2 is, 24miles and the last is 20miles. Off we headed on a clear fine day into ring 1, I hadn’t done this route before and I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so wet underfoot. This was ultimately my downfall as probably too quick a pace with wet feet on a hot day ended in two massive blisters on the base of my feet. By half way round the second ring I was in a lot of pain. Finishing the second ring at 10pm and with the prospect of going out on bad feet to do 20miles in the dark I took the hard but sensible option of calling it a day. 42 miles completed which I should be pleased with but I have to say it was a bitter blow. I needed to learn from what went wrong and make some changes for next time out. This is one I am going to have to go back next year to conquer.

The Lyke Wake

12th July 2014 – The Golden Jubilee Lyke Wake Race. This is a historic race that runs the 40miles from Osmotherley to Ravenscarr across the North Yorkshire Moors. The race is in its final year by the current organisers and it had been unclear whether it would continue. My mother had completed this in the late 90’s and it seemed a really good opportunity to enter a team from our running club. With a team of six we headed over for a stay in Osmotherley Youth Hostel the night before a 6:20 start time on the Saturday morning. We were greeted with one of the hottest days of the year, thankfully we were supported by two of our club members which was really nice as we didn’t have to carry everything knowing we would see them at each checkpoint.


lyke wake start

 I am pleased to say all our team members made the crossing within the 12hour time limit and I was pleased with 10hours 48minutes. Also the feet held up and although tired I had no significant after effects. It looks like the race will continue next year being organised by Quakers Running Club from Darlington. I hope it does and I will almost certainly go back as it is a beautiful course, definitely one I would recommend.

lyke wake on route

The Millennium Way

By The Long Trail 2014.03.23 in Runs

On 2nd March I completed an event new this year, running the Millennium Way from Newport on the Shropshire border to Burton-Upon-Trent.  A total of 38 miles.  My wife stumbled across this event and suggested I entered, it fitted perfectly into my training plan for longer events later in the year so off I went.


Gathering at the start


First of all I have to say the organisation of this by Beyond Marathon was excellent.  You were taken by coach from Burton to the start and then ran back to the finish.  The route was easy to follow, good instructions, well stocked checkpoints, friendly volunteers and a welcome pasty and beans at the end of the event.  Spot on!

So if it was that good why has it taken me three weeks to write about it?  This part of the country is one that I haven’t particularly spent much time in.  It’s one of those places that you know where it is but you always bypass it either on the M6 or the West Coast Main Line, and after spending 8 hours covering 38 miles of middle England’s finest I now know why.


This was the view for 70% of the course


I thought after three weeks I may have felt differently but there was something about the countryside the route covered that I just didn’t connect with.  I can’t put my finger on it either.  Was it because it was flat?  No, I grew up in the Fens one of the flattest places in England so I can appreciate that.

The best explanation I can give is that it was 38 miles of blandness, it bored me.  Not pretty enough to be appreciated but not ugly enough to be memorable either.  It was middle of the road, cutesy canal boats, perfectly boxed hedges, precisely ploughed fields and flag poles in gardens with St George’s adorned on them.  In this part of the country an Englishman’s home really is his castle.


The most interesting thing spotted on the route


So would I do it again?  Well if I needed to do that kind of distance again at that time of year then maybe.  I would recommend it to anyone looking to complete their first ultra, just don’t expect a picture postcard day out in the countryside!

Mud & Rainbows

By The Long Trail 2014.02.26 in Trail Walks

Wet, soft earth or earthy matter, as on the ground after rain, at the bottom of a pond, or along the banks of a river; mire, that’s the definition of Mud.

Fast forward a month from the sunny bliss of Florida and mire is what I seem to be spending most of my time in, nearly always ankle high or above!

Muddy boots

My mind has now turned to getting fit for the long distance challenges that lay ahead later this year. The first test was a double header weekend of two very different events around the Parbold area near Wigan.  On the saturday was the Parbold Hill Race, the 44th according to the entry information. This was excellently organised by Skelmersdale Boundary Harriers.  It was about 6.75miles in total over a pretty route, great fun, well marshalled and a welcome mars bar at the finish.  I would throughly recommend this to anyone that is looking to get off road for a change.  The recent poor weather had left the course extremely muddy though, so I was grateful of the rudimental shower (a length of copper pipe with holes in connected to a water tanker) which allowed me to get the worst off my shoes.

With all that mud fresh in my mind I decided the challenge walk on the Sunday, which covered some of the same route as the run, would be a more gentle pace and I would break out the walking boots rather than trail shoes.  I was being joined on the 21mile Beacon Bash by my work colleague David and his dog Stan, I was also taking our dog Flora.  The walk was organised by South Lancashire LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association).  I love these events for several reasons, they are cheap to enter, relaxed atmosphere but most of all the food.  I admittedly have a sweet tooth and almost all checkpoints have cake, sweets and other goodies not to mention the pie and peas you get at the finish of this particular event.

It was a predictably slow affair, I have done this walk twice before and the ground was the heaviest it has ever been.  It proved hard on the legs and certainly towards the end I think we were all feeling it a bit, even the dogs.  I had a report after that Stan, a terrier cross, slept for nearly 2 days after.  I think possibly David would have as well if he didn’t have to be in work the next day!

One tired Flora after the Beacon Bash

One tired and grubby Flora after the Beacon Bash

A week on and I was back out on the hills again.  This time with Harry and Marie, friends from our running club.  They are doing a lot of long distance events this year as well.  We are all taking part in another LDWA event in June called the 3 Rings of Shap which is 62.5miles in Cumbria.  With it being such a long distance we will envitably cover some of the route in the dark so the opportunity came up to recce the 3rd ring.

3 rings monument

Monument at the highest point of the 3rd ring

20miles was completed on a windy but clear morning, fortunately joined by a friend of theirs, Richard, who had done the course several times.  Thanks to Richard’s excellent guide work I feel a whole lot happier about tackling the full event in June.  Although as chance would have it every time we were talking about directions a rainbow appeared in the direction we needed to go, if only that rainbow would be there in June!!


Disney Dream start to 2014

By The Long Trail 2014.02.23 in Runs

2014 kicked off with a bang. A long awaited trip to Florida in January was a very welcome break following a difficult finish to 2013 for our family.  While it was to be a fun 2 weeks in warm weather compared to the UK it was also our chance to complete the inaugral Dopey Challenge.

This consisted of 4 runs in 4 days totalling 48.6 miles. We started on the Thursday with a 5km, Friday 10km, Saturday Half-Marathon and finally the full Marathon on the Sunday.  These were truly magnificant events and such an experience.  The glitzy world of Disney may not be for everyone but you have to admire their organisation, I have never taken part in events that have gone so well.

Back in 2012 we went over there for the first time and completed the Disney Marathon so when the chance of the Dopey Challenge came up this was definitely something we wanted to do.  I was joined on the runs by my wife and brother-in-law who all did fantastically well completing all 4 events and bagging a suitcase full of medals in the process (you get 6 in total, 4 for the races and 2 extra challenge medals!!), they like their bling in the US.

This was a dream start to 2014 and perfect to start preparing for the adventures that lie ahead this year.

Fireworks before every corral were incredible!

Fireworks before every corral were incredible!

Now the hard work begins after the start line

Now the hard work begins after the start line

So pleased to see this after 4days of races

So pleased to see this after 4days of races

All the medals happily secured!

All the medals happily secured!

About Me

This blog is an average guy's tales from, among other things, long distance walks, treks and running events. 

My name is Nick and I enjoy a fairly active and busy life. As well as being dad, husband and running club organiser I also like a challenge. 2013 was my year of Marathons and now 2014 is the year of long distance events.