Posts Tagged ‘+Paul Barbier Blog’

All the fun of The Fellsman 2015

The Fellsman 2015

Having had such a great time on the Fellsman on 25th March with Duncan and Dave, I thought it about time to write up a short review of the great day that was had by all of us. The Fellsman has been running for 53yrs and has somewhat of a reputation for being over rough terrain and in generally poor weather for some reason, the 61 miles of it – 100km being over the Northern and Western Yorkshire Dales over rough ground, bogs and only faint tracks when you are lucky..

The weather forecast for the 25th was terrible after a week of solid good weather before it, typical apparently and we all met up the night before the event in Threshfield, sleeping in vans in a field next door to the Finish line which would be handy at the end of a long day.. Buses were arranged to take us to the start in the morning but due to our relaxed approach to registering, we were biletted onto a particularly early bus to the start, and after a good feed and a kit check the 3 of us retired to sleep, waking at 0430 hrs so we had enough time for breakfast and to cook the spectacular Bacon Avocado and Mushroom Pittas that Duncan suggested we take on the bus with us.. Genius food to start the day…

Anyways, after no sleep on the bus we dragged ourselves into the start, in various levels of dread/excitement and wrapped up against the foul weather outside. My TNF  Waterproof Jacket was straight on, as well as extra layers to keep warm in and a last cup of coffee nailed before we poured outside into the starter field and a “Ready,Set,Go” type of start that was refreshingly old school..

Steady away was the order of the day as we jogged and power marched out and up towards Ingleborough feeling great although full of suspense as we were all first timers, and Duncan hadn’t run further than 21 miles in training and this was his first ultra event. Feeding and hydration ( apart from the rain wetting us) is the way to keep going on the long ones so we were prepared with a plethora of snacks,gels and bars for the jolly that lay ahead.

We were creaming along happily until descending from Ingleborough towards The Hill Inn in thick cloud and instead of following our own knowledge of the route, carried on after around 20 people heading way to far East for a km or so until we ground to a halt, checked the maps and headed back on to the route – a salutary lesson in using ones common sense and not just following the pack – I hope the 20 odd people found their way back on route at some point, a bit disheartening to stray so early on….

Through rain and cloud and with some quality humour we rumbled on over whernside in much better weather than when we scouted it, even though the weather was dire anyway – cloud low and chilly wind with soothing drizzle…Wwe were all wel wrapped as we cracked onto Kingsdale, Gragareth ( a steep little climb) then rolled over to Great Coum and down to Dent for some welcome refreshments of sausage rolls, cheese rolls, hot beans and tea and coffee, the snacks at the aid stations all the way round were manned by cool and helpful people and great snackage…(Thanks everyone by the way- awesome)..

20 miles plus in and feeling OK we climbed out of the valley back up towards Whernside to engage in bog trotting again with tussock wrestling to pootle our way over to Blea (Bleak!?) Moor by which time the weather had improved and it was snowing, 4 seasons in a day. We thrashed it down into Stone House back in Dent Dale to check in and feast again at the half way station and a long climb ahead.

Duncan was feeling the burn and the distance in his legs due to a bash on the leg he sustained on Great Coum and personally I always find the few km up to the half way mark  of any big trip out pretty hard psychologically, despite feeling Ok with forward movement..The lighter skies and  crossing of the half way point drove us forward for a long section over a weave of hills and bogs again with back tracking, chilliness, bogs and tussocks with some great views back over the Dales as the weather cleared..

Checkpoints and bogs rolled on , we were now hyper aware of our bodies – alert for hunger, dehydration, cold, fatigue, psychological doubts, too fast too slow, night fall imminent, one foot going in front of the other in relentless forward progress with lashings of dry humour as we approached what we perceived as the key section of the route, across  the dreaded Fleet Moss!!!……

In fact after a fine feast and some very hander insider knowledge we headed out onto what looks like impenetrable peat bogs, and skirted sneakily along the edge of them on a really sweet little trail for miles (a long section this one, until we found a quad bike trail to contour round to a hidden checkpoint then a direct line off the feels and down to the Cray checkpoint by the road after a nifty check in at Hells Gap ahead of a large group of folks we had overtaken on our bog traverse of joy and marvel. There is nothing like a load of tussocks and bog to encourage a good sense of humour and all sorts of strange leg sensations when you are 40 plus miles into a run… Marvellous stuff …

So rocking into Cray meant another fine feast and also a standby whilst we were grouped into bunches of a minimum of 4 and also required to don full length leg coverings for night on the hills – rules are rules, but actually i t was nice to change into my compression tights and swap into a dry pair of socks ( at least they were for about 20 minutes)… Heading out with Richard to make our we group into a 4 the light began to fail on Buckden Pike as we piled up the front in as direct a line as possible once again, leaving our torches turned off for the whole travers to Park Rash bar the last 2 0r 3 km so that following teams wouldn’t see our track – we were heading again in straight lines across bogs whilst keeping in mind the restricted areas on route that must be respected..

A last feast at Park Rash and we prepared for the final hill, legs aching with every step forward to be honest but at least by now they have reached an even level whereby the get no worse and the aching is tolerable as long as you just keep moving forward….

A heavy Frost, beautiful starry night and great views back across the Dales fells awaited, with a distance string of torch light beams dotted hither and thither across the fells to remind us of the other people who were going to be out for way longer than us … Hard core indeed!!

Descending from Great Whernside brought with it the usual spills and thrills of frosted bogs and waist deep mud at times , all great on fully battered legs – not at all a struggle – but the end is calling one onwards now and we all new that we would make it as a team…

Epic track from Capplestone Gate that just went on forever following mysterious flashing orange beacons to guide one across the empty and quite featureless moorland  until one rocks up to Yarnbury behind Grassington… Ans is it all over  – Not Yet – There is a load of tarmac which by now was playing havoc with legs and providing much entertainment for us as we hopped and skipped slowly down on delicate quads into Grassington, maintaining our fine sense of humour until all of  a sudden ( actually another hour or so later) we rolled up towards the Finish Line at Threshfield School and Daves Partner Mel awaiting to lead us into the finish – Awesome day out in a great place, with good mates and great views, lovely weather and a simple task to occupy us for the day:-

Start at A and Get to B via such and such… Simple and elegant and such fun to complete the trip. A great mision and I am really pleased that we all made it together…. Looking forward to more of these type of adventures this summer and glad that I have got a 100km trip into my legs early season to hopefully set me up for some more adventures both in races and just out in the hills…

Goals for the Summer:-

The Paddy Buckley Round

Gran Trail Courmayeur

Royal Ultra Sky Marathon – Gran Paradiso – Piemonte Italy

And to have loads of fun, run and bike lots and make the most of life generally.

Keep pushing on and enjoying the mountains….


Back In The UK And Getting Into It Again

Clasic view from the Glyders towards Snowdon, Its great to be back in Wales

Great weather this week, a good welcome back to Wales, Snowdon from Glyders

So after a month of work and being confined to the camp and running in circles ( got the camp circuit down to 2mins and 5 seconds, segment on Strava. Paul Dickson has matched the time so need to smash it when I get back to work…. However:-

Back in Wales Weather has been great, I am feeling really good, the flat circuits have kept me in reasonable form I reckon and what a good week of trips out:-

For all the runs this week i am back in my pair of Adidas Adizero XT4’s. They are as ever great grip and superemely comfortable whilst minimal enough to give a great feel for the trail but stil protecting the sole of the foot from battering. They are light, dry fast and never seem to smell bad… my 3rd pair and they last for ages. the last pair I bought slightly small and I have passed them on to Duncan whilst there is still some life left in them. I am in size 46 not 45 now, and this is perfect for me , locking my foot into place with enough toe box room so i dont stub. Really locked onto my feet and super comfy.. ( I am a size 44.5 in a normal shoe and have decided that 46 suits me best in most trail running and road shoes, especially Adidas.

Looking down into te Ogwen Valley on my first day back from work.

The start of a great week of running and fun, with plenty more to go before I head back to work. Looking down from Y garn into Ogwen, Pen yr Ole Wen on the left, Tryfan to the right

Wednesday 16th April – 17km 1087m ascent

Arrived back at 1315hrs and then by 140hrs met duncan and headed out up through the quarries onto Elidir Fach, then Fawr, my favourite ascent, tons of steps and steep, more of a power march than a run, but runnable sometimes… headed over to Y Garn with a chily Breeze and a very excitable Sam the Dog, and then managed to convince Duncan that the descent via Pen Dinas would be fun. Possibly the steepest bit of grass in the pas and annualy used for the Pen Dinas Fell race – a vertical thrash u and down….

A great day out finished by continuing back into Llanberis along the road from Nant.

Thursday 17th –  MTB 25km – plenty of climbs and some awesome descents, Trail Run 8km with 40m ascent

Battered legs – quads particularly tender due to the steep descent off Y garn via Pen Dinas. The flat lands of camp dont prepare the legs for this realy so some pain is inevitable! but its good stuff and clears away once the legs get moving..

Trip to Coed Y Brenin and a great ride round the Dragons Back, havent been here in quite some time and unusual not to have Helen with me as Mountain Biking is one of our things … Plenty of it lined up for when she returns from Cambodia.

Sam is always super excited to get out with us! I get a great welcome from him every time i turn up.

Duncan and Sam are always keen, and duncans odd work hours means he is available during the day sometimes, in between building his house and family time.

Biking was great and helped the legs recover, weather was ace again.

After the bike ride I decided to try out a short trail in the forest – The Sarn helen Long route – 8km and 400m ascent, a great little spin out and legs felt beter and beter as the run went on. There are a load of trails marked up in Coed y Brenin, including the trail Half Marathon Course which would be a great run, save it for next time. I have done the marathon course a couple of years ago at the inaugral event and the race goes from strength to strength each year…

Friday 18th Road Bike ride 60km

Headed out with tired legs over towards Waunfawr, then round via Beddgelert and up the Nant Gwynant to Capel Curig, along the Ogwen valley and down through Tregarth , and picked up the van from my mate duncans. Excellent ride and legs actualy felt ok climbing the Gwynant but knackered later on. tried to keep the pace reasonable and maaged about 3hrs ride including half an hour stop at the magnificent Nant Gwynant Cafe. Once again, great weather , and its just so good to be out when its like this!

Saturday 19th Mountain run 21km 1770m ascent

Great rocky ribs reuire some care as they are pretty rotten but height is gained quickly

I did this route when I was a teenager into scrambling and its one of my favourite ascents onto the glyders. No good in the rain tho . Spot the XT 4 Adidas Adizero's and also Ynys Etws hut in the bottom of the valley.

Once again an awesome day weather wise and out early ish to seek a parking spot in Nant Peris (couldn’t face running down the tarmac to Nant).

A great way up onto the glyders from the Pass- Bryants gully is steep and has some awkward scrambling in it when wetm but its good and steep and relentless to power march/climb

Great views into the pass from high up in the gully, avoiding the wet and slippery awkward wall, steep scree,heather and rocky buttresses

Picked a cold damp and shady route up onto Glyder Fawr to avoid the easter crowds, via Bryants gully, actually pretty slippery and awkward at this time of year as there is still afair bit of water running down it. Its a steep steep way onto the glyders and the higher part of the gulley features a short steep wall which can be a bit lethal in the wet so this was side stepped by ploughing on up the scree hillside to the right of the gully to keep it safe and sound today.

Onto Glyder fawr the towards Glyder fach to the top of the Cneifion Arete, above Clogwyn Ddu. I descended the ridge to Llyn Idwal after wondering if I could face it – it loked a long way down and my legs were tired…However once the decision was made, I was feeling great and loking forward to the climb back out from Idwal lake. Steeply down to the lake then crossing at the outflow, i head directly up towards Y Garn , a long a step stren ridge ascent with not much horizontal terain between the lake and the summit. A great way up and legs felt OK, tho I took it steady.

Tryfan in the distance,looking down the Y Garn ascent with Cneifion Arete in middle distance

A great track up steps and a broad ridge from Llyn Idwal right to the top of Y Garn, lots of ascent. The middle ground behind the ridge is the Cneifion Arete, that I had just descended,

From Y Garn it was onwards via the crowded summit towards  Elidir Fawr – most of which is quite runnable on tired legs even when one is feeling lazy – then descended to Elidir Fach and cut off the top to join the tarmac road  to the surge pool and then down through the quary on the zig zags, al the way back to Nant Peris via the small path that breaks off about 3 or 4 bends above the lake, across the hillside, a great variation.. Awesome few hours out.

I took Sunday off for paperwork and a break, just to keep me keen, and then Monday had a plan to run with Duncan and Brian

Monday 21st April 27km 1646m Ascent

Great route that was chosen for the decent weather. we had planned a round snowdon Jaunt but decided instead to go high and do a vatiant of round Snowdon.

Met up with Duncan, Brian plus Sam the dog who is always bonkers keen, and unaware of the distance he may end running of course!! Wish I had the metabolism of a dog for energy  – he seems to go on forever!

So we headed off up Bwlch Maesgwm ( Telegraph Valley) then followed the left  fork after the gate on the descent towards the Snowdon Ranger path, then headed through a gate and leftwards towards the old quarries blocking the way between us and Rhyd Ddu. Great trails, tho at times boggy lead one around the hilside and across a great summer bathing spot at a stream, to the railway behind Rhyd Ddu. 100m along the railway you can jump the fence leftwards where there is a pile of breizeblocks for just such a purpose and cut over to join the Rhyd Ddu path towards Snowdon summit. Breaking right , we take the rough track towards Bwlch Cwm Llan and head up the South ridge towards the Summit. Its alternately hot and chill  windy and a steep ascent that keep us huffing and power marching before a wel earned cup of tea in the summit cafe,( Thanks Jonathan!)

After a refuel it was off over too Cryb Y Ddysgl/Garneddd Ugain, tthen down diagonally to the Snowdon Ranger descent and the steep leg busting climb upto Moel cynghorion, before the classic descent down to the top of Bwlch Maesgwm and then down to Llanberis, legs feeling great and my Adidas Adizero XT4;s feeling great all the way. A great day out again  and a fine week of exercise..



Les Hauderes, Valais, Swiss Alps

This is the view up the valley from my breakfast seat today:-

View from the camp site, cold and fresh snow high up

Made it to the Alps and off for a run later upto around 3000m to a pass nearby, overlooking Les Hauderes.. Ace - The Col Du Torrent, a good 1600m ascent....

I have made it to the alps at last, after delays on the ferry and what I always find a long drive,,,

A quiick spin out on my mountain bike last night was a bit of a wake up call for my rusty technical abilities! The trail dwn into  Les Hauderes from the Arolla road is super switchback and very steep, and had me walking 2 sections! Amazing to be on these trails again – some of my most favourite ever…. Last time I was here, I had Bella my now departed lifelong dog friend and her trailer which actually helped on the steep descents……

Dinner at Graham and Janines last night, a great welcome indeed and I am looking forward to a 3hr or so run upto about 3000m today, should be 1600m vertical all told….. I will feel it in the morning!!

Heading to Geneva to catch p with my wife Helen later, then back here tomorrow night for a week… Cool

Its freezing here, there is snow low down, but its great to be here….

Slippy up high – Shoes today:- Adidas Adizero XT4, and definitely going with my poles too – Black Diamond Ultra Carbon things…


Why I run – The Blerch!!!!

This little comic strip is genius

Here it is in glorious clarity , the reason for it all, why we do it, what we get from it

The Blerch

Genius indeed, makes me laugh everytime I check it out…


Adidas Adizero XT4

I haven’t got my hands on my pair of these yet but I am very keen to get them and have a go. Hopefully I will have these down in Capetown for my jaunts whilst on Hliday. I am seriously excited about that, hwever that’s another story..

I may seem obsessed by shoes but hey, I am constantly searching for a bit of a holy grail shoe, and although I know one shoe will never fit all the terrain, and I need some super aggressive Inov8 shoes for the steep fells, I keep seeking a good inbetweener to plug the gap between the North Face Hayasa and the Inov8 / Sportiva Vertical K..

Here is a review from Irunfar.com of the Adizero XT4

These could be the shoe!! They have more grip than the Salomon Crossmax so better on muddier trails and a bit more padding / cushioning than the TNF Hayasa’s and a bit more grip – in fact 7mmm of continental rubber lumpy bits to dig into those muddy trails and also a bit of underfoot cushioing for the rocky bits too….

They are not too minimal and still light and the drop from heel to forefoot is 6mm so they will be an easier shoe for someone who is not completely transitioned to running in flat shoes but wants light and fast and increased  ground feel and neutral, whilst still having some cushioning… They should  keep my feet protected whilst maintaining stability…We shalll see

I will be using them and then write a preliminary review of them probablly after my Cape Town Trip….

By the way, I had a good 9 km blast along the dirt road back to Palma this evening as a hard tempo session. a km warm up and then pushing it on the pace for a 37 minute run, short but hard, before my colleague pickedd me up in the works vehicle on the way to a brief safety meeting


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