Fellsman Scouting and other fun adventures to 3rd April

The Fellsman Race is on 25th April and as part of the preparation and for training I arranged a trip with Duncan to scout a couple of sections – The reason being that a) its less intimidating if you know some of the route and b0 saves time with navigation in the bad weather or dark at  a late stage in the race ( day out on the hill I should say as we don’t really plan to race it as such, merely survive the experience in a fairly reasonable time – hoping for around 14 hours).

Here is a link to Jez Braggs blog about his preparations – this guy is a heck of a dude with some serious ultra wins under his belt and also a North to South New Zealand mission accomplished including a kayak between the 2 islands.

I have started to feel a lot stronger and more confident recently after a couple of higher mileage weeks in the mountains/fells back in the UK and I think that running in the heat and humidity in Cambodia/Malaysia has definitely helped my stamina some how, along with physical work on the Elephant Valley Project too. I and Duncan have been trying to get a big couple of weeks in and  I seem to have now managed 1 week over 90km fell running plus a 90km bike then the last week a 124km fell running week with an 84 km bike in the middle to stretch the legs out. I feel better about chances of success now on the Fellsman ( ie getting round it in good shape and a reasonable pace) and also feel better weather acclimatized to UK stuff – lets see what the event day will throw at us – rain/snow/fog/wind/scorching..Who knows…

We were both in Adidas XT4 trail shoes

High on Buckden Pike on some great paved slabs that avoids sinking into boggy stuff. Freezing cold and windswept. Day one scouting was 21 miles, day 2 was 17..

So the scouting trip consisted of day one being a trip out of Ingleton, over Ingleborough, to Whernside on ground that I know well from my childhood, then dropping off the back of Whernside into Kingsdale then up onto Gragareth, which is basically the first part of the Fellsman before it heads over towards Dentdale. We cut back to the South and skirted round to Ingleton for a 21 mile day out.

It must be said though that most of this day was properly shocking weather, with lashing gales, hail storms and at one point on Whernside perhaps the worst weather I have momentarily encountered on a hill – 80mph storm wind with blasting snow and hail and zero viz for a moment or two, sufficient to give us the momentary fear that if it didn’t stop we would freeze in short shrift… Actually the whole day out was a brilliant adventure style day and the terrain and tracks were brilliant fun and the weather just added to the whole great sense of adventure.

Heading up from Bucked , for Cray then on up towards Buckden Pike for our second days scouting the Fellsman . Temperature just above freezing and sleet and snow showers all day with low cloud meant we had plenty of Nav training

Heading up from Bucked , for Cray then on up towards Buckden Pike for our second days scouting the Fellsman . Temperature just above freezing and sleet and snow showers all day with low cloud meant we had plenty of Nav training

Day 2 of our scout started in Buckden after a fine evening camping and having a couple of fine pints in the Buck Inn ( the drive over from Ingleton helps to get a perspective for the bleakness of the Fellsman route and the remote nature of this part of the Dales, again somewhere I remember from when I was  youth and later when I lived in Grassington for a year or so…

Snow through the night and into the morning, with plenty of low cloud and wind made for another mad day up high , well wrapped and running in a balaclava all day with waterproofs etc, very chilly indeed and up in the clouds. Plenty of navigation required to orient ourselves and this will stand us in good stead on race day when we will be crossing this area late in the day and possible when its dark or getting that way……

 

Duncan in the Adidas Adizero XT4 Trail shoes, ideal on this terrain - plenty grip and very positive on the feet

Heading up onto Great Whernside above Wharfedale on our scout of some of the Fellsman. Some areas one is not allowed to go onto before race day due to access restrictions. This is Duncan, wrapped for the conditions prior to it becoming really awful.I remember it was only raining just here with a bit of a gale..

 

2nd days scouting on Fellsman Route, another stormy blizzard day high up and freezing cold

Descending from Great Whernside below Capplestone gate heading in the direction of Grassington on the last section of the Fellsman. Descending from Whernside negotiating some crazy bogland, I had managed to sink upto my waist at one pint whilst trying to leap a bog, most amusing as i tried to extricate myself. It just added to the fun of the day and served to show us that  a particular short cut was not going to be an option on race day… stick to fence lines is the best option for this late section……

The day consisted of a boggy and snowy travers of Buckden Pike, across to Great Whernside then down to Capplestone gate, whereby we cut off along the Dalesway track to head back to Kettlewell where we had left one of the vehicles to take us back to Buckden. I have some fun memories of this part of the Dalesway from my attempt the other year – by this point I was staggering and dithering after being sick loads on route and was forced to abandon in Grassington ( save it for another year hey)

Anyway with healthy legs and lots of optimism we wrapped up our scouting trip and headed back to North wales where a couple of days later (after a good long bike ride) we were up in the storm clouds and high winds of the Glyders before descending the red dot route  / painted path ( with the Pedol Peris special gully short cut)  to Pen Y pass then bashing down the road back to the village for another good day out in awful conditions…

Since then, the weather has improved, the running continues and the legs are gradually getting used to some increased mileage. For the next couple of weeks the focus will be on some speedier trips out generally with 1 more long run, and will include some interval training to get the legs turning over quickly. Just this morning we ran a tempo session over Clegir, up the Fachwen road and down through the quarries to Nant Peris and back to the village which certainly got the legs going, as we included a few fartlek hill sections and some speed endurance work…Hopefully this will work towards improving our general cruising pace for the Fellsman and beyond…

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