Posts Tagged ‘Paul Barbier’

Kurdistan – Around the compound in 80 ways

Here i am in Kurdistan, some great looking countryside around – mountains and great rolling hills, great weather and interesting work, although the operations are yet to get going.

I am restricted to running round the camp permiter, inside the berm walls, which is a 0.4 mile circuit on gravel, sometimes firm, oft times a bit loose and hard work.

The views however are unsurpassed and I think this week ( I have yet to finish the weeks mileage) I will manage around 75km of varied running, so nearly 80  kms…

Steady 10km, 10km with some 10m sprint intervals in the middle, some 200 metre speed endurance sessions slipped into a 10km steady  pace and then the classic one fast lap one recovery lap, then hare and hounds stuf as I chased Paul Dickson round the compound today.

Plenty of the guys are out power wlaking, Paul and a few others are inot the running, although Paul is by far the fittest and kenest here, so thats plenty of motivation , and when we are out running we motivate each other, making the arbitrary laps disappear fairly painlessly.

A gradual development of a zen like mindset is required to run round in circles endlessly, I am generally no good at it as I love linear runs or runs n the hills so this is a bit torturous. however, the views are unsurpassed from the camp, and our Northern camp, to which I may move next hitch is on a kind of elevated fortress like hill with plenty of tarmac around the place.

Even tho security guidelines mean we are all stuck in camp, the views are good for exercising. I am also pushing our contractor to replace the running and exercise bike machines with ones that work and are of decent quality…..

head torch on tonight and off for a few more circuits, maybe an audio book if I get bored as I run….

Photos to follow as the upload speed is proper slow here. Looking forward to field operations beginning in earnest and then at least I can march up some hills too…

Keen to batter the legs to try and maintain fitness………

PS:- My 3rd pair of Adidas Adizero XT4 shoes from V12 Outdoor feel great on this gravelly rocky stuff, and the light weight road shoes – Adizero Adios are a good change of shoe from this now and again just to vary whats on my feet….


Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri – Pictures. Trail Running and Elephants

here are a few pics of the first week or so on the Elephant Valley Project, running in the morning before heading to work on the project in the afternoon.

The temperature has been rising since i got here and is around 36C to 38C in the afternoons now, and around 26C first thing in the morning. It soon warms up, and the humidity, despite no rain is quite omnipresent as ever..

Looking back towards the starting point

Our accomodation - a finky wooden hut pretty much open to the air is behind the white building in the distance. A typical Sen monorom view

Gee Noll and Easy enjoying the river on a warm afternoon. The Elephant Valley Project

A tri down to visit Gee-Noll and Easy in the afternoon in the project forest rented from the Pnong People. The Elies are so happy down here. Awesome to be involved. Nothing better thhan visiting these guys after a hot mmorning run

Adidas Trail Response 20's doing great, Hot day. exploring the trails

Above Sen Monorom. Exploring the tracks and trails, no one around as usual, hot, great single tracks. All part of my scouting runs to work out a Tour of Sen Monorom Route

I managed to work out a great circuit which nly involves about 5km of tarmac on the Eastern side of Sen Monorom. The circuit takes in somme good hills and some awesome tracks and trails along wiith plenty of dirt roads and worked out at around 30km… Need to research a bit more to get a full off road experience……Watch this space, or maybe next time…

Dirt SIngle track on the way to Sen m\onorom Mountain (a smallish hill in fact)

Early morning classic trails - dirt tracks, super dry and hard packed iin the middle of the dry season here. all makes for great running, even down in the valley bottoms in what would normally be boggy. Great tracks that stand out especially after the annual burning of nearly everything brown that occurs here in prep for the wet season and re-growth. This is about 12km into a 17km round trip

Out on a morning run, Adidas Trail Response 20's getting a battering. Great views

So much dry hard packed soil and the trails are great. Gets really dusty late in the day in town and on the dirt roads with the traaffic but in the mornings iits so quiet out of town and the views are great from above the town. Sen Monorom Mountaiin or Sunset Hill plas Sea Forest View Point. All connected by singletrack discoveries . Everything from open trails to ones hidden below bamboo forest....


Trail Running in Sen Monorom and the elephants

Great to be back on the Elephant Valley Project and catching up with Helen.

I spent a week in Phnom Penh all told until I caught up with H and we both spent some fun time there.

Phnom Penh is a bonkers city – swamped with people during the day but at around 0500hrs one has the strets to oneself and shares the boulevards and waterfront with  many groups of Tai Chi’ers, dancers, runners, walkers, jogers, arm wavers, you name it they are upto it. Its a great time to be out and out we went plentifully , hitting the streets with some really good places t run – past the Royal Palace, and off the the national monument , crossing onto the Russian Theatre Island, its good fun before the traffic  arives in force…..We even had a couple of great bike rides, one out to a distant mound ( locally known as Udoung Mountain but is a wee bump, the fine site of ancient Phnom Penh) . Another day we crossed the Mekong river by fery and fereted about the islands and farmlands of the area, a great day out too, and good exercise, breath of fresh air away from Phnom Penh, amazing how close rural Cambodia is to the mad metropolis, and you can see the high rise constantly in the distance to remind you…

So anyway, out to Sen Monorom, mondulkiri province, way to the East in Cambodia and about 50km from the Vietnamese border, the Ho Chi Minh Trail passed through here apparently…

It is great to see everyone again out here and to see the dedication to the Elephant project, plus the guys with WCS and WWF fighting th good fight to save the forests and wildlif from the incessant onslaught of corrupt government officials and Chinese timber theiving, rubber plantations and the rest. The elephants are great and its good to be back.

I have been running plenty and working on the project in the afternoons, rediscovering tracks from last years visits and finding some really great trails that I didn’t see last time.

Its really dusty right now, everything is covered in a fine red powder, but its great. The sun shines, its the dry season, trails are in great condition, and its not quite too hot yet, probably around 34 mid afternoon, maybe a bit more….

I am working on a Tour De Sen Monorom circuit that may work out at around 40km I hope and have had some good moto trips around with Helen to scout the trails too.

Ready for another week of fun and running, working with the elephants and generally living the life in the bush…..

Photos to follow


Col du Torrent to Col du Sate, from Les Hauderes

With the forecast being a bit dodgy, it was a,  case of setting off and seeing how far we got. The plan was for Col du Torrent, at around 2900 metres then return making for a 3 hr round trip. However, the weather stayed cold and rain free, there was some snow falling now and again high up, and once we arrived at the Col Du torrent, I suggested a traverse over to the Col Du Sate, something I had seen and thought about since my first trip here 3 years back with Helen.

Jaqnine had not done it before either as it featured a couple of rock climbing moves on the ridge, and so, as there were two of us, it was possible to have a look …

The start of the  traverse is the trickiest with a steeish rocky section onto the ridge and then a great ridge overlooking the moiry dam and glacier one side ( Grimentz valley) and towards Arolla and the Pigne D’arolla on the other side. Spectacular but chilly, and I suspect that the snow will shortly close out this ridge for running this year….

The ridge passed smoothly with a sharing of gloves – 1 each swapped between hands as Janine failed to pack any…. the mist rolled in and out and the views came andwent. Great to spend an hour up high traversing this area overlooking the valley below…

There was some rime ice here and there on the ridge and some loose sections of shale and rubble, but it was a great traverse, and after 4 hours, 1840m ascent and the lond descent back into Les Hauderes the day was a success – Until the van developed battery failure on the Way to Geneva to see helen, what a pain….

Photos to follow, as my camera is now failing to upload…..


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…


Back to Uganda

Here I am back in Sunny Pakwach, on the Northern fringes of the Murchison Falls NAtional Park and work has as ever been long days and short breaks for runs in between.

After the Dalesway effort, I managed my recovery pretty quickly through some great bike rides with Helen and then some great mountain runs at a bit of a quicker pace than my Dalesway plodding and soon felt back up to scratch again.

Now I am back at work and reduced to the diet of 1hr most days and an occasional 1.5 hr blast, I am back to wondering whether my fitness will suffer overall. I am managing around 65km per week but at least it is quality stuff generally.

Temp 10km bursts with some fartlek sessions and an odd easy run have been combined with some hard runs on tired legs, to get a 42 minute 10km  on the dirt rolling road near the camp ( best time to date is 41m 25s) – I hope to break into 40 mins before I leave in a couple of weeks, hard going in the heat to be honest.. Its super humid and around 35 degrees in the afternoons, mornings are a bit cooler but really damp and sticky.

Had some fantastiuc mornings out in misty conditions with the odd view of an elephant here and there or fresh elephant tracks as a minimum and that feels great – being in the environs of such beautiful animals… Also seen a few Ugandan Kob whislt out, and a Crested Eagle, not to mention hippo tracks and some fantastic giant cows with huge vertical horns – the only cows apparently that can survive the Tsetse fly and sleeping sickness  onslaught in this area ( There are a heck of a lot of them about right now).

Although I have a sore throat today, I should be better by the morning. My throat is usually an indication of starting to over do it, what with late nights from work, early mornings and the running too…

Best run so far this trip has to be a 1hr 33min half marathon time on my 5km track, the psychological effort of doing a double there and back is harder than the actual running. I managed to run it at a significant begative split, each 5km building speed on the last and was pleased with how I felt.

I have a little balance board made of a square of wood with a 4cm rise for balanceing fore footed on one leg at many different angles, to build core stability and also activate all the minor muscle groups ( from Eric  Ortons recent book ” The Cool Impossible) – a wicked little bit of kit that really helps with running form and muscle stability and minor muscle group strength) Its a great book too with some good key concepts to cogitate upon and put into practice..

RIght thats it for now, I keep myself going with thoughts of the Alps to which I am headed via North Wales on my next leave. I really want to get for a run in Wales with my mates before I head to the alps – Switzerland / France for running and biking befoire working with Helen on a classic TDF alpine cols trip, where I get to cycle a load of them… Then its off to Italian Alps for 10 days mountain and road biking, running, eating, walking … awesome!!!

The 5km track is a little tedious but the views are amazing , especially at certain moments.

Great to be running in the comapny of giants - just away in the bushes, its surprising how well they can hide even though they are massive!!


The Story of my Dalesway attempt

Early Morning in Cumbria somewhere on the Dalesway. A beautiful day in great countryside

Early morning, breakfast time?

So, here we go and sorry for the delay.

Firstly I have a link to a series of photographs that Gareth Aston took during my efforts which capture the thing really well, and also he ha s a short video link which I include here too. It was an awesome day and loads of fun…..

The photographs

The Video

HAving arrived home from work in Uganda in the best and hottest weather in around 7 years I was truly excited and looking forward to a long day out on the Dalesway. I was also wondering whether my training  was going to be sufficient. The longest run I had done since December ( 38km just before I caught malaria) was around 30km , including a 4hr 20 return trip up Fanzipan in N. Vietnam (3143m). All the other training had been based on higher intensityu shorter runsd on a daily basis at work asd that is all trhat I can manage generally due to time constraints….

So it was with some trepidation that I committed myself mentally to the Dalesway mission, as onb my last big run – The Lleyn Peninsula (125km) I had trained more traditionally with a number of long back to back days out on trhe trails and hills….

So July 19th saw me heading up to rendezvous with Big GAz in a quality car park on the outskirts of Windermere on another scorching day in the middle of our heat wave, beautiful weather….

Waiting for Gareth to arrive I wandered into town to Bowness and walked the first few kilometres of the route out of town to make sure that at least during the start of the run I didnt get lost – Its highly frustrating to set off then 5 minutes later back track or start searching for the route…..

On The way to Sedbergh, TNF Ultra Guides on feet, feeling good

Sedbergh Viaduct and feeling pretty good. 50km in and The North Face Ultra Guide shoes feeling great

(Luckily for the most part the route is pretty well signed although around Dent dale the route through the fields by the river is a bit misleading at around 60km into the run….)

Nervously fiddling with my kit and preparing fluids etc, Gareth arrived armed with maps, cameras, lots of encouragement, and after a good feast in Windermere it weas off for a good nights kip ( although short)…..

All too soon the alarm rings at 0300hrs and I am dragging myself out of bed to get some muesli and fruit juice down and a good strong coffee before last minute preparations and heading down to the start of the run, which I decided needed to be right by the boats on Lake windermere with a toe in the water………

A clear sky with the dawn just beginning to cast a frissant of warm light across the scene, the day already warm, Gareth began to get some camera footage and I prepare for off.

Its impossible to delay any longer and I am bursting with energy and enthusiasm so off I jolly well, very steady at first as I don’t want to regret a fast start later in the day.. The mantra is start slow and build up.. Keep the heart rate down and just keep moving until you are warmed up..

The trails are bone dry, the first part of the route is steep up and down, through beautiful classic English Lakes scenery, and the dawn is enlivened by the poresence of plentiful rabbits, the odd Hare , Weasels, stoats and Foxes here and there. I love the mornings in the UK when there is a peace and tranquility pervasding everything and even the aniumals seem to be calm, watching me pass in the semi darkness…. I am feeling great and roll into Staveley then down the riverside to Burneside, feeling in high spirits and well committed to the day ahead.

The route finding is OK for me but I see Gareth now and again ahead of me trying to intersect with my route to ressupply fluids etc whcich is proiving tricky due to my progress, the complicated path route and the short sections where I actuially cross a country lane here and there. We eventually meet after the first couple of hours, just as mybottles need filling, and its great to have a chin wag , restock and get route info from Gaz, as I plough  onwards….

Full daylight and now we continue in a similar fashion for the next few hours, humidity and heat building , but a little cloud cover to reduce the suns impact..I am drinking loads of rehydration and feeding pretty regulalry but I am a bit out of practice of eating on the go and its a bit of an effort….

By this time I am chafing at the top of my legs pretty badly due to sweating and salt and by the time I reach Sedbergh at around 50km, I am in need of Vaseline to control the chafe… Not a pleasant sensation. I should have applied vaseline first before I started to chafe zones , to exclude salt and sweat, because once it starts its a bit too late and the salt crystals are already in the skin……As the day wore on, allied to my tired legs the application of vaseline increased exponentially to manage the soreness……

Landmarks on the route begin to pass now – The West Coast Mainline, The M6 motorway, Sedbergh, then a stiff climb over a spur into Dentdale. A short wrong turn in Sedbergh had me ploughing along the tarmac before I doubled back to the river – some of these signs are easily missed….

A nice pice of wiggly tarmac and an easy roll past Gaz with more fluids and snacks for support had me following the river up Dent dale, where I must have wasted a lot of time, as the mapped Dalesway route seems to some what illogically zig zag about the fields whereas there is a greast path along the river, and I couldn’t decide which was which and whether I was going to end up in the wrong location , so again , leg energy was expended, and wrong turns were taken and retraced. Its actually all part of the day and I am philosophical – there is a long way to go yet….

I  can by now feel the first strings of my endurance  starting to unravel but this is nothing new… On my Lleyn circuit I was suffering from about this point onwards….Nothing to be alarmed about, just keep  eating and drinking…..

Looking crap as I rolled into the bottom of the climb over Cam Head and the Pennine Bridleway over into wharfedale, I refuelled below Dent Viaduct and before the hour long climb.. A steep tarmac road and then dirt track over the summit. Again Gaz was there to feed and encourage me, also keeping an eye on my condition.. It was hot and sweaty but on I go after a good break again ( Brie and Bacon Sandwich in bits over a few km was helping, nice one Gaz…

A change of shoes just beacause I can and psychologically it gives me something to look forward to about half way, feet are looking very shrivelled… New shoes, new day , new energy ( maybe ?!…..) is what I hope for….

Just about this point however I began to struggle to take on fluids and couldn’t face eating , and pressed on hoping the feeling would pass. I was feeling good over the summit although tired but just couldnt take on board anything to my stomach.. I was starting to come apart…..

At around 75km in and close to  Oughtershaw I am sick but then feel more refreshed and after refuelling at the first tarmac road crossing for a while I head for Buckden via Langstrothdale and  Hubberholme. Some of this feels good and some bad, it is almost easier to run more quickly than plod at times…

The Dalesway takes its toll, as does my lack of distance training....

Battered!! Struggling to keep it together but managed some hot pasta soup.Spot on!

By the time I hit Kettlewell  and despite Gaz’ ministrations of food and liquids plus plenty ginger tea I am in a mess, bnut I have to continue. Its only 5.5 miles to Grassington with a climb up onto the plateau above the wharfe valley. The weather is beautiful and it inspires me to move forward ( Luckily after I set off, Gareth took the main road to Grassington and my phone was flat, other wise I would have called him or flagged him down and got into the van!!!)

By now its pure survival and relentless forward progress as I surmount the steep track ( surprisingly OK) and climb over the endless styles and clatter through the numberless gates… The trail goes on forever in a world of pain and chafe, energy levels a bit critical and finally I can see Grassington in the distance. I am glad I have pressed on, I am over 100km in ……

As I begin to weave and stagger, I realise its all over for me if I want to stay healthy…. One thing I think I can do now is decide when enough is enough…

I weave into Grassington, and I realise that its time to stop…. Gaz has also become concerned as i look terrible…. Only 30 km to go but I can’t manage it….Cest la vie…. What a trip.. and what a meat and potato pie I am handed by Gaz, mmmmm superb… the best one I have ever tasted….

I collapse on the road and take off my shoes…. Well pleased at how far I have come based on my training … A fine adventure and a great journey even if I didnt get to the destination….( I am writing this with a couple of weeks reflection and I can’t avoid the feeling that just maybe I could have pressed on, after all it was only another 30km, but based on sense, I am glad for the sake of continuing to be healthy and now recovered fully from the trip that I pulled the plug. Did my mental ability run out or was I actually physically unable.. I think the two are tied together and the food/stomach issues I had porecipitated the ignominious end to the day…

Time to plan for the next adventure and tweak my training a bit more… Masybe I need to focus on some shorter adventures until I can get some back to back long days in for training?……


Snowdonia Weather

Archives