Being Ruled by Your Heart – #RunE1Trail Training Update – @PledgeSports @TrailRunningMag @OrdnanceSurvey

The specifics of my training aren’t as important as the driving principles behind it, train by heart rate and not by pace or perceived effort.


Mornings Start at 4am & coffee!  No food if I’m going out for training (run or bodyweight work)

I’ve written about the 3 M’s of adventure training and this is the key part of that. Tuning the engine so that you can make the most of the calories that enter your digestive system and the calories stored on your body as fat. In short, I’ve been running around 50-70 miles per week on a 4 week cycle, making sure my heart rate stays below a magical number… 145bpm for 80% of the time. This is mixed in with a reduction in the amount of sleep I have (bed at 10-11pm and up at 4am) and some core, body weight and movement based high intensity work (around 20-30 minutes twice a week). This isn’t some mystical formula I’ve come up with but a combination of training concepts by Matt Fitzgerald and Dr Maffatone for those interested, but I seem to be pretty much injury free even though my mileage ramp up has been quite steep.


Focus is on 2 things…  Metabolism & Mechanics

This past weekend was a test of that training, supporting a friend on a leg of the tough long distance challenge in Wales called the Paddy Buckley Round and then running the Keswick Mountain Festival 50K race a day or so later.


The PD leg was tough (Read about it here). Not only the terrain, distance or the 6000+ft of ascent, but the winter like conditions. Howling wind, visibility of around 3-4m max and constant cold rain from the start of the leg to very near the end. After just three and half hours of sleep, I woke up, drove carefully to Keswick for the Keswick Mountain Festival, in bed by 10pm, with the intention of waking up early and getting my kit ready for the 50K race the next day.


Some times, the lack of sleep catches up with you.  You find you just don’t seem to be  able to move out of bed!

For the first time is a very long time I over slept and arrived at the race just as the runners where given the off!!

4 minutes later I crossed the start line and started to run and by mile ten, although legs felt fine and I was moving at a good pace, I needed to sleep and decided that if by mile 20 I needed to sleep still I would.

I didn’t need to sleep though. I just seemed to be able to move along, chatting to people, stopping to take pictures, admiring the view in parts and generally being amazed at how well my body was coping wit the route and with the fatigue I started with.


Learning to survive as much of the land around me is going to be the key things to surviving Europe’s more remote areas.

I ignored the food at the check point, collected water from the natural water sources around the course and relied on 800 calories and my bodies natural reserves. With the late wake up, I’d not eaten any breakfast, so the fuel I needed had to be taken form my own body. I did notice I was dehydrated at mile 35, so I supplemented the Tailwind mix with some pure water, mainly to compensate for the amount of sweating (it was a warm sunny day). 6 hours and 33 minutes later I was at the finish line, over taken 4 people in the final stages and finished 50th overall!! I actually felt ok. I wasn’t limping, I wasn’t aching and I wasn’t struggling to walk around. Today, the legs are tired and deserve a recovery day before training resumes and it’s off to the Lake District for some fun.


I’m lucky to have such amazing places to run on my doorstep.

I loved every single minute of the weekend runs, even the Paddy Buckley round where I was genuinely freezing for a big portion of it and I was glad I decided to go with my Luna Tabu socks. It seems I’m getting more ready for the E1 run, but the doubts are still there and the fear of the unknown remains, driving me forwards with more and more momentum.


Endurance of hardship needs to be habitual, just like being barefoot.  The more it is experienced the more second nature it becomes.

More training to come next week, starting at the weekend with a Bob Graham Round support (Legs 1 & 2, maybe 3 with a run back to Keswick afterwards), some runs with serious climb, recceing the Lake Sky Ultra race route and then heading to the first ever Ultra Festival down south so I can sit or stand in awe of the ultra running legends that will be there!

Supporting The Paddy Buckley Round – Realising The Gains From #RunE1Trail Training Part 1


It’s Friday morning, my alarm goes off at 4am.  I test out my new trick for getting myself up and ready…

It works!  I feel more awake and less inclined to slide back into the sleeping bag and drifting back into a warm and hazy slumber.

Last night was spent under a tarp, sleeping somewhere in the glorious Peak District next to the #AdventureTaxi to test out my new sleeping bag.  Luckily it only rained for most of the night and the Alpkit tarp worked perfectly.  Sleep for the last few months has been limited to 5 hours or less on average, so this is now a norm.

I make my way back to Buxton, meet up with Lucy, an old training partner and we start the mornings training run shortly after 5am.  Something had made me slightly grumpy, so I moaned a bit, acknowledged to anger and moved on.  The pace was slow and steady and the weather was fortunately drier than the night time.  5 miles later, we were done and t’s time for work.

5 lessons later, a class set of exam marked in lunch time and its time for the mad panic rush to get to Wales early enough to sleep before starting Leg 2 of the Paddy Buckley Round to support Ode (who helped on leg 3 of my Winter BG attempt).  Things don’t always work quite as planned and I arrive in Wales without enough time to get an hour of sleep.

I turn on the stove, boil some water and opt for a coffee instead.  The taxi is a complete mess from throwing everything in there after work had finished, so a little reorganising is going to be needed at some point!

10pm arrives…  The other two people supporting on that leg arrive and we set off for the meeting point.  10:40pm and we start.  It’s raining, visibility on the peaks is down to between 3 and 4m and we are moving through streams and saturated bogs.  In parts the ground was so saturated it warlike walking on a water bed.  The wind is bitingly cold and after an hour I’m completely drenched, squeezing the water out of my gloves by clenching my fists repeatedly.  One of the other people supporting makes the decision to drop down before the end of the final climb.  I grab Ode’s extra clothing, food and water and begin the chase.  It’s incredible how far people can move when they don’t stop.  I lose site of both Ode and Clive as they move over the brow of the first climb and I resort to using the glow of their head torches in the clag to find them.  I pick up my pace and start to feel the burning in my calves as the hill gets steeper and eventually I catch up.  It’s time to resume the duty of care for Ode, making sure he’s fed and watered.  When you take on these challenges you tend to lose track of time, focusing purely on the act of moving forward.

The temperature drops as we climb higher, visibility gets worse, the wind picks up and blows us around like dolls but we keep moving forward.  We made a couple of navigation errors, I’m aware that I’m getting colder and colder and my hands and arms are beginning to show signs of poor coordination, so I stop and get an extra layer on.  I have no idea where we are on the route.  Ode and Clive continue along the ridge and vanish into the mist and eventually even the light of their head torch is gone.

This is were things can go wrong.  Very wrong!  I’d taking a general direction bearing just before the light from their head torch vanished, so I start to run in that direction.  Running with out a bearing or visible land marks makes it hard to stay on a given line if you are off trail.  I remember a friend telling me about the bushman in Africa using high pitch whoops to communicate.

I whoop….


I cover my head torch stand still and look.  I see the glow of a head torch light up the a small patch clouds we’ve been running through, so I start to run towards.


Again and again I whoop out loud, until I reach the brow of the ridge and can see them making their way down the descent to the valley floor and heading for the next climb.  Finally, I reach them and we carry on.  Ode is in good spirits still, and I carry on with my duty.  Make sure he’s warm.  Make sure he’s drinking and make sure he’s eating.

Why didn’t I take out a compass and take a bearing or refer to a map?  If you have no idea where you are and have zero visibility, a map is next to no good.  My only other option was to find a hold to hide form the weather in, get in my survival bag and wait for the morning and better weather before making my way back down the mountain.  Phoning was also not an option since there was absolutely no signal.

Eventually the leg is done, we drop out of the clouds, the rain stops, the sun is rising and we are on our way to the next check point.  It was tough, but I loved it.  I was amazed that Ode had chosen to do this and at the single minded determination he’d shown in getting his goal complete.  We’d lost two and a half hours and Ode grudgingly decided to call it a day on this attempt and reschedule.  He was strong enough to continue, but the idea of meeting a given time had buried itself in his head and once that happens, it’s hard to let go.  I’ll be joining him on his next attempt and I may even have a go myself before the E1.  It was just incredible running and I genuinely didn’t mind the wind, rain or cold.

3 hours of sleep later and I get the 4 hours drive to Keswick out of the way, present a talk on my summer run in a daze, grab some food, organise the taxi and by 10:30pm I’m asleep!

The alarm rings!  I press snooze and go back to sleep for 9 minutes until it rings again…

I wake in a panic!  it’s 5:00am and I have to get my kit ready for the 50k, drive back to Keswick and start running.  No time for breakfast!  No time for coffee!

Sophie pops along at 5:30am and realises she has no food with her.  I give her a pack of walnuts and tell her to go to the race briefing and the start of the race.  I arrive just in time to see everyone run off and I haven’t even pinned my number to my chest yet!!

4 minutes late, I run over the start line and chase the runners…

This is where the story stops.  The race came and went, I relied more on the natural resources of the Lake District than I did the checkpoint stations, I ran keeping my heart rate at an average of 150 beats per minute (5 beats higher than my training limit) and ran the 55Km distance taking on just 800 calories.  The more I push, train and learn, the more amazed I am at how this simple machine responds.  Now to carryon with training and get ready to support a BGR attempt on Saturday.


Couch to #E1Run – The Story So Far… – #GetOutside @Pledgesports @OrdnanceSurvey @TrailRunningMag

Join the support and pledge for adventure -> #E1Run

I decided that I should put some words down to explain a few things.  Why is it I keep saying ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things?

Some already know my journey to this point…  Preparing to run the length of Europe, self supported, but others are new to the journey so it seems right to share the story and explain why I really do believe that anyone can do what I do and that I am in no way anything other than ordinary.  I have no special gifts and seek recognition for any form of prowess.  I simply try to inspire others through the simple act of being nothing other than ordinary.  So here it is…  The beginning and story so far…

My lungs burn, my muscles scream at me to stop and I feel like I’m fighting gravity and the ground with each step.  BEEP!

That’s my signal to stop.  I double over, feeling sick, out of breath and head spinning from the exertion.  “How on Earth am I going to do another 7 of these??”

Truth is, I’d jogged…  I hate this term!  I’d ran for no more than 30s and I was already feeling like death!  “Why on Earth would anyone do this for fun?”

The odd thing is that the C25K app I downloaded quickly changed to the 10k version, then the half marathon and finally the marathon version, something I never thought I would describe when talking about my past, present and future!!

This was July 2102 and the start of a year which led me close to (and I admit this with great reluctance and a the bitter taste of what I experienced) taking my own life on several occasions, only to turn to running for a moments escape from the bitterness that I felt.  The thing is, I am now living in a way I need thought possible, never imagined I would be capable of and that seems to have allowed me to let go of so much anger, pain and blame.

I was unfit, I was overweight, the world I’d created for myself and the dreams I’d nurtured were falling apart around me and although I didn’t know it at the time, I was taking slow and deliberate step into the pit of depression, unable to stop myself and unaware of what was happening to those I cared for.  The result was living along in a flat, in a town where I knew few people and having to live off £80 a week.  Those were dark times, but my decisions had led me there and I refused (I refuse to this day) to change my decisions and all the way through I continued to run, discovered the joy of running in the Peak District and developed a love for the peace and clarity it gave me.

All the while I research running.  It felt instinctively wrong.  I was fighting the ground, I was putting in lots of effort for little gains in speed, giving me the sensation of being inefficient, until I chanced on the concept of barefoot running and correct running form.  It all made perfect sense!  Each step was a use of energy and if we run poorly, we need more energy to sustain that particular motion forwards.  I began to change my running.  My running began to change me.  I skipped the marathon distance, and with 20 miles of run walking I entered a 50 miles ultra!

3 weeks I trained for it.  I finished.  I didn’t understand how, but I finished.

The switch had been flicked and now I was looking for challenges, running the same hill rep 652 times back to back, covering 75 miles and gaining the same amount of ascent as Mt Fuji was the start of running barefoot from Land’s End to John O’Groats, which became the catalyst to preparing to run the 4750 mile long E1 trail.

The point is simple…

It takes little more than persistence to change our view point from ‘Running Sucks” to “Love to run”, no more.  It’s the same principle with any thing we can’t do and find challenging, but we are all made to take on these challenges if we can just remove the blinkers that we self apply through our pursuit of comfort and ease.

Ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.

Join the support and pledge for adventure -> #E1Run

#RunE1Trail Niggles! Funding Pains – #GetOutside #Crowdfunding @PledgeSports

So, attempt number 5 begins…  
Four incarnations of this post have faltered. Maybe there is something telling me that I need to just type and not think about it. I have worries about the E1 trip and as apposed to focusing on getting the distance covered each day, worrying about the lack of detailed mapping in European countries, finding sources of food for each day or having the equipment I need to help make the trip safe and to a point comfortable, they are focused on getting the funding needed to provide food on the trip!
So, in the last two weeks of training around the Lake District, I have in effect been hiding my head in the fells, avoiding the problem and generally focusing on the part of the planning and preparation that I have full control over… The fitness to pull this insane running route off and be the first person to run form the top to the bottom of Europe.

There will be equipment needed and once I start to run, I wont be able to stop and negotiate with prospectus sponsors. People offer support, but then the support seems to be lost in the ether or noncommittal promises. It seems that no one wants to believe in a person’s ability to pull off something extraordinary, unless they are of extraordinary stock. I guess I will have to tighten my belt and live more frugally than I currently do and save even more money for the trip.

 So, there are 85 days left to raise £3000. Most of which will be budgeted for food (£15 per day max), which is going to be the most important aspect of the budget since covering 30+ miles per day is going to need energy from somewhere.

Thanks for all those who have joined in with the adventure by supporting via tha PledgeSports page. I really do appreciate the support you have shown. I promise to make the E1 run a success, something to be proud of and that hopefully inspired others to take on challenges.

The Freedom Of Movement – #RunE1Trail Training & The Love Of Moving

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Yesterday, the day before, today and all other days I’ve found myself reaching a point were I just want to explore.  Today I ran.  Today I climbed.  Today I stood still while the world moved around me.

A chirping chafinch.  A roaring waterfall.  A swirling pool.  A fallen tree.  An enexpected wave.  The pulsing of my heart.  The movement of air within my lungs.  The syncopations of breath, pulse and step.  The quietening of the internal dialogue.  The return to self.  The finding of peace.  A smile that morphs into a grin that morphs into uncontrollable laughter.  

I move because it is an expression of myself.  There is no pose, no vanity and no pretense.  It is just my body responding to the terrain around it.
The peace lingers, but I know it’ll become an itch.  The itch will become a gnawing and the gnawing a scream bursting to get out until it has had its full of moving.  

In truth I’m an addict and I am addicted to the feeling of flowing through the landscape and finding new ground to place my feet, rest my head and fill my senses. 


The Dark Side OF Adventure Planning – Part 2 – Logistics Of Running The E1

This is going to be one of the biggest time consumers of the whole trip, if not the biggest time consumer of the trip.  I have to get myself to the start, get myself back from the end, setup a schedule for the route so people can have an idea of where I’ll be, when I’ll get there and what sort of distances I’ll be covering.  Then there’s finding addresses along the length of Europe so I can post equipment along the route and collect as needed.

In essence I’m trying to predict or put in place lots of systems and events that ultimately lead to specific points in space and time, and doing all this while become an meteorologist and trying to predict and plan to changing weather conditions.

The time of the trip is done to partly coincide with the first time I managed to run for more than a minute, almost exactly 4 years ago.  It also gives me a time where flying to Norway is slightly cheaper.  But there is one issue…

At some point I will have to be up high and have to deal with potentially impassable conditions, whether that is in the Swiss Alps, Apennines or the higher sections of Norway.

I’ve chosen the what I think is the lesser of the evils.  Starting in Summer in Norway.  The idea of running in sub-zero conditions, snow and with little to no sunlight wasn’t something I wanted to even experiment with, so I’ll now have to contend with whatever conditions the Swiss Alps throw at me at around 2000m.

This bit is important.  The logitstics of something this long are going to be intimately linked with the weather.  There is absolutely no getting away from the fact that as I run down Norway, I will be losing between 30-15 minutes of sunlight, as I reach the latter parts of Sweden and then Denmark, I will be running through mild but wet conditions as Autumn begins to take hold and then there’s the Swiss Alps…

The E1 runs along a pass through the alps that at it’s highest will be in that border line section where I could have no snow, some snow or enough snow to make the whole rejoin liable to avalanche!

Some conditions, are passable with a control of the risks.  Others will stop me dead.  This is where I’m going to have to find some form of employment and wait for the ideal conditions (or more to the point, passable conditions).

The change in seasons on something this long are also going to play a big part in what is needed, which is going to be the most fun part of the ‘Dark Side of Adventure Planning’.  Get it wrong to not have the equipment where and when you need it is likely to be a barrier to the constant forward progress, but I’m going to enjoy working closely with Alpkit to get this side absolutely nailed down.

So what is the point of all this?

Simply put, you will always have a few things to workout:

  • A general schedule of places you are going to pass through and possibly dates or even times you will pass through them.
  • Knowledge of whether certain sections are passable (i.e the need for ferries, knowledge of tide times, average weather conditions etc).
  • Drop locations that will reduce the need to cary equipment and food for later stages.
  • Location of food and water (water is less of an issue with the use of water filters).


What else do people consider when dealing with the logistics of adventure planning?

The Dark Side Of Adventure Planning Part 1 – Budgeting

My idea of an adventure is to grab some things and then just go get on with it.  Deal with problems as they arise and generally find the best ways to make progress, even if that progress is minuscule on the grand scale of things.  I know its how I learn best and how I gain the most from the trip out.

Planning the running of E1 is a huge undertaking in terms of logistics, budgeting, working out the finer detail of the route, organising potential support along the way and at the same time getting the adventure in front of potential sponsors and media outlets (including the social media side of things).

I’m lucky, in that I have people who have taken an interest in making the trip a success and provide advice and pick at things that are being set up, said or done.  Admittedly, they tend to frustrate me because they force me to deal with things I’d rather leave well alone, but this is why they are good to have in the background, occasionally (or constantly depending on the issue) chipping away at ideas and jobs that need to be addressed.

One of these is the budget for this trip…

This is even more important or relevant, if you plan to crowd fund in anyway (or at least I think it is) but how the hell do you budget for something like this?!

Each trip is going to be unique and have it’s own criteria to be met, but I did find this page that had some useful nuggets.  Personally I’ve had to bite the bullet and set up a spreadsheet that shows me worse case scenario with the budget and then work backwards to reduce the costs down.  I’m already planning on travelling as minimally as possible, carrying nothing more than what I need and relying on what I come across as much as I can.

My current budgeting has me at a massive deficit, but this was the same during the summer run.  I started with a massive £2K deficit and managed to return with £500 left?!  It was the little things like the support of Tailwind UK and BackPackingLight that helped with this dint, as well as looking after my kit so I didn’t need to replace anything.

So, instead of me waffling about the budgeting and how I hate spreadsheets here’s the link to get anyone wanting to budget a big trip

Desk to Dirtbag

The Meaning Of Pursuing The Void & An Answer To “Why Do You Run?”

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Sometimes I drink too much coffee and when it’s combined with random questions, like “What do you want to get out of this?” words just seem to pop on screen before I realise what os being said.  This is one of those conversations and oddly it led to what the hell I mean by ‘Pursuing the void’…

Regardless of what I say or pretend I think, we all end up seeking that peaceful void that comes from doing what we were designed to do. I have no way of describing the feeling of moving freely over what ever the terrain throws at you, or the incredible depth of the head space you end up in when you can get in the flow. It’s just incredible. I never intentionally decided to do this sort of nonsense, but decisions have led me, one step at a time, to this place that I find myself in. The simplest goal is to inspire, to engage with others and use their engagement to drive the perpetual challenge machine. I don’t get a buzz from the media coverage, but I get a huge boost from the random person who emails me and thanks me for getting them out and adventuring. Actually, buzz is the wrong word. I actually don’t feel I deserve such an accolade, but it just adds to my resolve to have less, do more and be more.

I’m still not sure what ‘be more’ is… I thought teaching was being more but turns out its turning the cogs of someone else’s miss guided machinations. That’s were the name of my blog comes from… Pursuing the void isn’t some claptrap fancy speak. It relates directly to the question of what is this ‘being more’ By seeking out this void (AKA a lack of understanding) I’m trying to fill it but each time I do, the void changes. A question is answered and leads to a new question.

In answer to the original question of “what do you want to get out of this?” I’ll be honest.  I plan on giving any money left from the Crowdfunding (including sponsors) to the three charities and I am only using what I need, travelling as light and living as minimally as I can.  Would I refuse offer of work related to the run?  The answer to that is no I won’t, but the main goal is to raise £50,000 during the run for the three charities and to show that ordinary people can do extraordinary things once they remove the safety net and begin to question what is possible a bit more often.

Encouraging A Change In Mentality – #GetOutside & Seek #Adventure

I’ve been telling people that I have quit my job.

I haven’t hidden it or announced it underhandedly, nor have I shouted it from the roof tops.  I simply said “I have quit and will finish teaching this year”

The adults all look at me with a mixture of shock and that look your mum give you when you are about to do something that is going to lead to some kind of hurt.

The students didn’t process the information in the same way.  At first it was all self centred ponderings.

“What’s going to happen to us?”

“You’re leaving us so we have someone else as a tutor for our last year?”

“Who will we have as a tutor?”

I expected this.  It is in their nature to preserve their comfortable and stable existence.

3 days on, the questions are changing.

“Why are you leaving Sir?  What’s the real reason?”

“What will you do if you aren’t a teacher?”

“What’s going to happen when you finish your run?”

“What will you do for money?”

“Where will you live?”

There’s a change in their questions and thinking.  They are accepting that my words over the last few months and years aren’t just motivational claptrap.  They’re starting to think about their lives and they seem to be putting things into perspective.

“I dont even walk to the shop and it’s only round the corner” A student remarks.

“Surely you can see why that’s wrong?”

“No.  Everyone does the same.”

“Do they?  What about people who have to walk miles to get to school because they have not cars?  Those people that have to walk miles just to get clean water only to have to carry it back? ”

He just looked back at me.  Silent but something was going on behind his eyes.

“I need to get out more.” he replied.

Later, the same student began to ask about why I bother with such stupid trips.  I dug out the photos of the recent BG Leg 3.  He looked at them and before I started to speak…

“Oh my god!  That’s mental!  Couldn’t you have died?”

The only answer I had was

“Yes.  We could have all at points died, but we didn’t.  We are incredible machines and one of the secrets it managing our fears.  I dont remember being frightened whilst we were climbing the steep ice sheets and clinging on to rocks while we waited for Simon to carve the ice steps.  We laughed and kept the mood light, enjoying the environment we were in and staying focused on doing what needed to be done so the risks were controlled.  We all knew how to manage ourselves and our fears.  One of the guys that ran with me is really scared of heights.”

I point out Ode in one of the photos and the video clip of our ice traversing just below Scafell.

“Does he look like he’s frightened?”

“No.  How is he doing that if he’s scared of heights?”

“He just knows how to stay in control.  He’s focusing on getting what needs to get done, not on what could happen if he does something wrong.  That’s what I keep banging on about.  You should be learning how to do things you may not like doing and taking on challenges, ready to fail at them.  You learn by failing.  You fail, you work out why you failed and then you go at it again.  I failed at completing that route, but I know why.  I knew why before I even got to half way round.  We even started to plan the next one and workout how to make it successful before we’d even finished.  That’s what you should all be doing.  What you learn may not be useful in your future, but being able to problem solve and cope with the stress of a challenge is.”

I can only hope that with my current path, and the students awareness of my path and challenge, they start to think more about what they are doing and learning.  That they start to push themselves that little bit more, get themselves outside more and they start to buildup all those things that hamper their progress.

It takes bold steps sometimes to catalyse change in others.









The Bob Graham Round – Part 2 -A New Love For The Fells

Word of warning- contains some horrendous language😉

I stood on top of Seat Sandal, disorientated, drained of energy and feeling slumped.  I felt wrong.  I forced some Tailwind down my throat and looked up…

“Where the hell did my support runners vanish to?”

Brain switched on slightly and memory took over.  I headed in the general direction of the road crossing, searching for the trod I needed.  Step after step I analysed my movement.  It was all wrong.  I was slapping the ground with my feet like I was wearing a set of flippers.  Ok, so I was wearing some daft looking ninja sock (AKA Luna Tabu) and a pair of Luna Sandals, but I felt uncoordinated and slightly confused.

Eventually the trod appeared in the light of my head torch, I made my way down over the crest of the descent and spotted my two support runners.  Up over the style I went and ran to my road support.  I headed to a corner and just lay down on the floor, feet up and hands covering my face!

“He just expects to feel better than he does is all” I heard, but this was the end of leg 2.  I know I have more in me than just two legs.  What the hell had happened to get me to this point, around 23 miles and 3,400m of clim in?

I arrived at Keswick, got out and in an excited and rushed way sorted my kit.  I’m used to being self sufficient so I stuffed a set of waterproofs and survival bag into my pack, along with some Tailwind and nuts for the journey.  I handed over spare gloves and extra layers to some of my support.  It was awesome to see so many people there to run the first leg.  We stood at the door, joked about going to the pub, exchanged pleasantries about the ridiculous choice of footwear and waited for 8pm.


7:56pm arrived, I touched the door and said “come one then lets go” but no.  Apparently we had to wait for 8pm!


Then 8 pm arrived and we were off.  I walked some of the uphills, finding that conformable uphill pace that I perfected over summer.  Keeping pace with the runners until we hit the flat and headed to the start of the climb to Skiddaw.

The weather was incredible.  Clear skies, a gentle breeze and no rain or snow.  The snow was frozen solid, which made running on it straight forwards and keeping to schedule on leg one was no problem.  We reached the top of Skiddaw.  The wind had picked up and it was bitterly cold.  Up until that point I was roasting, wanting to take off my gloves, bobble hat and down coat but I was glad I hadn’t.  The trig came along and passed as we began the descent towards Great Calva.  I relaxed and ran down the hill on the frozen snow, which eventually turned into frozen grass.  Its an odd thing to hear the sound of frozen grass beneath your feet. It’s as though someone has covered the fells with plastic bags!


The support crew were fantastic, chatting away, talking about running barefoot or sandalled and generally being supportive of the effort.  The summit of Great Calva suddenly appeared!  “How the hell did we get up here so quickly?”


I quick photo stop then we turned toward the final peak of leg 1, Blencathra.  But that wasn’t what caught my attention…  The moon had risen and was a huge glowing blood orange disc.  It looked incredible and I wished I could see the views around me.

A quick descent and it was time for the river crossing.  I stopped, looked at some boulders in the river and bounced along them. “Ha!  I managed to keep my feet dry!”

Except the next section was bog!  “So much for dry feet.” I thought as we began the climb up to the peak of Blencathra.



It arrived soon enough but I was starting to feel the effects of not enough food.  I had eaten too much before the start so stuffing food or liquid into my stomach was a chore.  I felt fine, so we carried on and descended the icy zig zags of Doddick.


Despite the fresh batteries, my head torch began to give up the ghost and this slowed me down.  Until that point, the pacing was nye on perfect.  Josh handed me my spare, which was no better, so a slow and steady descent and some careful stepping go time on to the road in Threlkeld and to the end of leg 1.  I could feel the excitement build in me and I focused on one thing. I needed my batteries for my head torch.  I didn’t feel like I could eat, still feeling stuffed!  Maybe I should have forced myself to eat, but I didn’t and instead started the run towards the first climb of leg 2.

We started the leg 2 climb and the lack of fuel was starting to hit me.  Two of my support sped up the climb and I felt the need to chase!  I was relying on my nav and support to give me an idea of time so I could judge my pace, but this is hard to do at times and I felt like I was falling behind.  We continued and before long I over heard the word “don’t want to jeopardise” and I know that one of the support was going to have to bow out at some point soon and after the first peak of leg two, he apologised and made his way back to Threlkeld.  And then there was 2…

I began to find the climbs difficult.  I could feel my legs becoming leaden and heavy and all I could do was push on to try and catch up with my support.  They seemed to get further and further away, waiting for me at the peaks and then shooting off.

I tried to explain that I didn’t feel quite right but I don’t think my support understood.  I asked about the pace…

“This isn’t the right pace is it?  It’s too slow.  How am I doing pace wise?”

“Hmmm… Fair to middeling” was the reply I got

“Well, that’s not exactly helpful” I thought followed by “You’re just tired.  You’ve been up since 6am the previous morning.  Keep moving.  You’ve been in far worse shape and you know you can keep this up”

I have to say that amongst this, I kept telling myself you are tired and need fuel.  Your anger is frustration at yourself for not managing your needs as well I you should be and that these guys aren’t to blame.  I actually think that the navigating and pacing was spot on.  I was too engrossed in my own little bubble of grump to think clearly at the front of my consciousness but it was always there.

“Stop fighting and just go with it.  It’s your own fault you’re in this state.  You’ve been through worse you great big fat git!  Stop blaming others for what is your decision and actions.”  This was my talk to myself (internal conversations are sometimes great) but the tiredness and frustration did taint the entire leg 2, through no fault of the leg 2 crew.

I kept pushing but it got harder.  I took less and less fuel on, concerned that I hadn’t had a pee since leg 1, that I was falling behind, that I was fighting with myself and the fell.  I could feel an anger that I couldn’t place.  What the hell was I getting angry at?

“You just need to man up”  This is a snippet of a story of someone telling one of my support to man up in a race, but this wasn’t my problem.  If I hadn’t “manned up” I would have said I’m done, lets go home earlier.

“I really don’t feel right!  Nothing seems to be moving the way it should.  My hand feel tight.  I really behind on time now aren’t I”

I found out that actually, I wasn’t that far behind and that it was likely I would be half an hour or twenty minutes behind as we came down Fairfield.  The Dodds and Helvellyn range were just trudge after trudge, and so early on in the round that I felt like someone was trying to beat me into submission.  The Fell Gods were taking their ounce of blood and they were being slow about it.

Then it was time to push up Seat Sandal.  I pushed.  My support seemed to float up like there the climb was flat and eventually I reached the top and stopped to take a drink.

“Mate, you need to eat.  I’m gonna make you up some strawberry rice pudding.  Will you eat it?” Tom asks.  Tom wasn’t even meant to be there as support!  It was great to see that he’d joined in.  I said something, but I’m not sure what.  My answer to most things was I don’t know.

I started to sort out my wet feet.  The socks needed to be changed and Clive stepped in to help, Lucy was told to force feed me rice pudding and Tom began to angrily empty y pack of the things I was carrying at the same time as telling off my leg two support!!

Now, I’m not sure he did tell them off but it sure sounded like it.

I ate some rice pudding, necked some coke and got back up with some help.  My leg 3 support join me and leg three started.

“I’m sorry guys. I’m just too slow on the ups!  I;m not sure what’s going on!?”

“You’re doing fine.  This pace is fine for your schedule.  Just keep taking one step at a time”

So I did and we moved up towards the peak of the steep climb.  The support of the runners on leg 3 was phenomenal.  Constantly handing me food to eat in small amounts.  Handing me my bottles of Tailwind, and by the end of the first climb and the start of some more runnable terrain I felt like I could run!


A little later and I felt more coordinated and life returned to the odd sense of humour I carry.  The sunrise just added to my mirth and I unleashed the most ridiculous thing ever done on a Bob Graham…  An episode of #OperaticLandscapes!


Then the pace picked up, I would have the odd few minutes of low as the fuel levels dropped, but the more I moved the better I felt as I trickled fuel in and my body responded to its presence.  Time was being made up as we headed to Bowfell and I began to refocus on keeping my pace high enough to make up even more time.


Then we hit the ice sheet that was the ascent onto Bowfell.


“Stop fucking around Ode!” Ode shouted as he heard my poor imitation operatic shout “SUNRIIIIIIIIIISE” at the top of my voice.

“I’m not.  Just having a laugh”



The banter and conversations were hilarious.  Not one did we talk about this race or that race.  It was just a stream of amusing comments, piss taking and insults that were obviously not true.  I ran up to the peak of Sergeant Man, bouncing off the boulders and the stopped.  What an incredible thing to be doing in such an incredible place.  I fell in love with the fells all over again!  It didn’t matter that I was on a schedule.  It was all about being out with these 4 (2 who I barely knew) and enjoying the act of moving.

“Woo hoo!  A trig!  Can someone take my pic with that trig please?  #TrigAWeekChallenge2016 dont you know!”

Now at this point, others must have been thinking “He is dead!  A Walking zombie” but the actual truth was I was prancing around as I always do (with a smidgen of being sensible) and I bounced on to the trig at High Rise for a pic.


Then we made the meandering route to Bowfell and the insanity started.

Ahead was an ice sheet that just got steeper and steeper, so we picked a direct line up, hoping for a rocky scramble, but soon were faced by a rocky ice scramble.  That’s the point were a certain change in mood came about.  Everyone stepped their act up a gear and the team kicked into action, literally.  Ice steps were kicked and chipped out of the icy slope, and we made slow progress on to Bowfell, but once we did.  I felt like someone had supercharged me!  Huge grins covered our faces and we commented on the stupidity of what we just did.  No crampons, one ice axe, no rope and a tit in a pari of sandals.

Esc Pike came and went, Great End came and went, Ill Crag and Broad Crag passed with out any issues.  I even managed my fasted ever run from Board Crag to Scafell Pike!  I was at the peak before I realised what was going on, so it was time for another picture.  I though we’d lost lots of time heading up Bowfell, but turns out we were still ok for time at that point.  We looked across to Fox’s Tarn as our safe option up Scafell and it looked like a shiny sheet of icy death, and in the distance were two people moving up Lord’s Rake with ease.


That’s were we went and with the layer of frozen snow, the pre made foot steps up Lord’s Rake, the climb was both easy and fast.  The decision was made to check Cantilever rock and the route beyond it, but after a nerve racking traverse on the icy slope that seemed to go on forever, we turned around and decided to rise West wall traverse.  It was slow going and we had to patiently take one axed step at a time.  still we laughed and joked about the leg, the ridiculously dangerous situation we were in and even worked out strategies for a future winter Bob.




After what seemed like an age (about an hour and 45 minutes) we poked out of West Wall traverse and headed to the peak of Scafell. All of us were laughing.  There was an amazing atmosphere to our band of adventurers and I’d already decided that continuing would just make me unsafe through lack of sleep.

“Guys, there was a point up here that I held on to the rock and started to go to sleep!  Carrying on would make me a liability for my support team and I don’t want them to be responsible for someone who hadn’t slept for 36+ hours”

The trip down to Wasdale was great, we trundled out way along to the scree descent, chatting constantly about the amazing team work and the incredible adventure of the last few hours.  Then it was time for the scree!  I’d been looking forward to this section since leg 1.

We launched down, laughing and whooping all the way, heckling the two that opted for the grass to the side and ambled our way to the main path that led to the carpark.  I stopped and washed my sandals of the mud the screes had dumped on them.

Once they were back on, it was time to run.  So I did.  The technical parts of the path were just amazing and I just relaxed into the run, we continued chatting and the word of wisdom were spoken by Ode…

“If you did carry on Ode, it would be like a slap in the face of what we just did.  It would be pain rude to carry on after Leg 3”

We all laughed and agreed, and I sprinted to the support guys…

“That was fucking EPIC!  Leg 3 is fucking amazing!”

I vaulted the small fence and then stood upright..

“You guys are bloody amazing…  Let go to the pub.  I’m buying you all dinner”

Turns out they were more shocked by this than happy.  They were expecting a zombie and some near death support crew but they to some overly excited runners who had had the most incredible day o the fells in their entire lives!

We chatted and described what we had done as best we could, but how can you put into words the immense sense of camaraderie, the sense of being scared but full yin control and the sense that everyone was working together and taking care of everyone else on the leg?

I’m hoping the pictures explain the adventure better than my clumsily strung together words.

I have to say a massive thanks for the support of all the runners and the road crew and the people on social media.  I know I didn’t finish the round but I’m in no way ashamed of this.  I actually feel like I achieved more in the latter leg I completed that I would in a successful round.  There was an intense sense that we belonged out on the fell.  That no matter what was thrown at us we would work our way around it, not fighting the fell or trying to beat the terrain into submission, but making the most of what was to hand to make the safest and best progress we could.  I am now left with a desire to go back, I seem to recall moments with pride, love and joy.  It’s an odd thing to fall in love with mountains, but it’s inevitable if you spend enough time on them.