Saturday, 23 November 2013

Full Tour of Pendle

Apologies. I have no photos. I was running a bit hard for that. There are some decent photos out there, there were enough photogs. When I have one, I'll stick it up.
Til then, have this instead.

My first Long tour of Pendle.
Another one on the Glossopdale Championships list, but as its getting toward the end of the year, not as well attended as the ones earlier on.
After a minor confusion in october of someone telling me the tour of Pendle was Full (it turns out that it was simply the Full tour of Pendle... I got my entry in pretty swiftly after that. A good thing too as it was actually full by about 3 weeks ago. Having never actually been to Pendle before, I thought I'd best do a fair bit of computer recceing, found a couple of GPS tracks from last year, which happened to be about the time I wanted to do it in, and worked out a race plan. Not something I've ever done before, and not actually something that helped DURING the race, but it is interesting looking at different splits at different stages of the race in comparison to how I hoped I would do.

Luckily the weather was calm and clear, if a tad cold, so the helly under the team vest was a good plan. As were the somewhat larger and warmer gloves that everyone else was sporting. I didn't take them off all race! (yes, I get very cold hands).

A race with 400 runners is always going to be a bit of a crazy start. I was about 8 rows back from the front, and could barely hear what the organiser was saying, so the guys further back must have been a bit startled when the race actually started! From talking with a good number of people that have done the race, the first climb is an "easy" one, and it is very easy to get carried away and blast your legs into the abyss before you actually start the race proper. I tried to keep a tab on how my legs were feeling, seeing a number of Pennine runners ahead. I knew I was in front of Julien, as he made a brief appearance by my side, before dropping back, obviously thinking that my pace was a little too hot for that early in the race. I hadn't seen Mark O since before the beginning. He was either so far ahead it wasn't worth chasing at this point, or had already crashed out. Unlikely. I suspected he was a long way head, even now.

1st descent, the legs were feeling it a bit, and I was concerned that I'd overcooked it. Ate some food- figuring that energy was going to be the main issue in the second half of the race. I held my own on the way down, and along, before going up the first of the steep hills. Conrad was already storming away up the hill ahead of me, the only person near me that I knew, and it wasn't until the Geronimo descent on the otherside that I caught up with, and overtook him, along with about 5 other people. The spectators at the bottom were fantastic, cheering on everyone with equal enthusiasm.

The long haul back up to the next checkpoint was interspersed with someone going over on an ankle, and someone else falling over in front of me twice, and all the people that I'd overtaken down hill, re-overtaking me again on the ups. On the steep up, I downed a gel, ready for the second half of the race. Another 3 big steep ups to do before the end, so getting something in was a necessity.

Again, despite losing places on the ascent, and looking over to the next top where the leaders were already forging ahead, I made up a decent amount of places on the steep and slippy descent, getting to almost within touching distance of the 2 pennine guys in front of me, Stefan and Dave Ward. However, I knew they would take out some more time on the up. I also had a sneaky look over to my right as I started the ascent, noticing that Julien was still behind, but not a whole lot of distance.
Would he catch me on the second to last, or the last climb? Nothing to do but just keep stomping up the hill, trying to keep a rhythm, and ignore the almost inevitable, of him blasting past at somepoint in the near future.

Near the top of the 3rd last climb, one of the photographers shouted "come on Jasmin!" Ah, Jasmin right behind me. That means Jules really can't be far behind either. Down another gel, dig in, and try and get some distance away on the descent.
Hammering down to Checkpoint 7 was fabulous. The speed and the freedom of thrashing down something that you don't need to think about, while others are floundering around is brilliant. Hit the bottom, and straight back up again.
Taking it in a series of 10 steps followed by another 10 steps, and so on, without break until I got to the top seemed to be the best way of dealing with it. Jasmin came past me just near the top as the hill flattened out, saying "come on, you can still beat me, you know". To which my response was "well... theoretically, yes. But physically? Im not so sure".

We ran shoulder to shoulder up the long and torturous incline before the stonking descent to the bottom of the last BIG up. As ever, enjoying the descent, I necked another gel, in preparation for the final few kilometres, pulled away a little, and at the bottom, managed to finally catch Stefan from Pennine, who promptly accelerated away from me up the ridiculously steep climb.
Jasmin caught me again half way up, and I just tried to tap out a steady rhythm, hoping against hope that I might be able to make it all back on the final descent.
Don't stop. Don't stop. Don't stop.

I bet Jules is right behind me. Don't look back either. Just pretend he's there, its as good as if he really is.

Funnily enough, just as I climbed the final stile, and started running to the trig, Jules was there. Apparently he was about 4 steps behind me, trying to be very quiet, and about to make a proper race of it. Just as he began to accelerate to overtake, he was struck down with cramp. I never even knew he was there.

Aha! The last descent. Photo from
But I did have Stefan to chase, and ran him down by the time we passed the Trig point. Jasmin, and a group of 4 others were a good hundred metres away, and continued to be as we bashed across the moor. I couldn't close them, but no-one was closing on me. I prayed for a decent bit of steep downhill, and just before we hit the final checkpoint, there it was.
Fantastic. I overtook 2 of them there and then, and another as we passed the final checkpoint.

Should have checked how far it is from there to the end. Damn. Have I got enough in my legs? No idea. I checked my watch, and was comfortably under my target time of 2:45. Just another bloke and Jasmin in touching distance, and a couple of km to go...maybe?

They stretched out along the flat, I caught them on a downhill section, and managed to power past on the tarmac. Still a way to go, still flat, with people breathing down my neck, but as soon as it came to the final slope, I knew I had them. Stretching out, I strode home in 38th.
Brillant. Happy with that.

Jasmin was 4 seconds behind me. Jules, 3 mins behind. Mark was about 13 mins in front. No wonder I never actually saw him for the entire race!

Thanks to the astonishing amount of marshals and supporters out on such a bitter day.

Friday, 22 November 2013


For those of you not doing Long Tour of Pendle tomorrow, the first of the WOATTS is going up.

The first one is just to get me/you used to the idea.
You can make it as long or as short as you like, and do it at anytime.

Offroad route
Start/finish is Glossop Turning circle, visit any 3 aircraft wrecks.
Thats it. Pretty easy if you want a short run, but if you want a longer run, think about the Sabres over at Kinder, the Liberator on the path up from Harry Hut, there is a crash site on Sykes Moor which is quite fun to find if you want a navigational challenge, there are also a couple up over by Bleaklow stones way, and a couple of obvious Meteor (the plane, not rock falling from the sky) wrecks on Black hill.

On Road route
A simple one.
Start/finish Leisure Centre in Glossop, touch the wall of 5 pubs with an animal in the name.
Let us know which pubs you have chosen. It could make for an interesting exercise in pub knowledge.
Note- the pubs have to be still in existence as pubs - you can't go saying that such-and-such was called "The Dogs Nose" back in the 1820s so therefore it counts... because it doesn't.

I won't be awarding points for pints drunk on the way around either.... this is meant to be training, not a pub crawl. (If you are a racing snake, and WANT to make it a pub crawl, feel free as I hope it will slow you down for next year).

First Woatter. Or, Watter, if you will.
Pubs round
Nev McGraw - Old Glossop Bulls head, Beehive, Hare and Hounds, Grey Mare, George and Dragon, Wrens nest. Approx 7.05 miles, in 63.31.
Word on the street is the road from Hare and Hounds to Charlesworth is "Dodgy As" during the day, and probably even worse at night. (as you'd expect, I hope) - it is Not Recommended.

Be careful out there, and don't do anything stupid. Its only running, you know.

I went out and did the 3 wrecks. Lancaster on James's Thorn, Skytrain in Ashton Clough and the B29. Dark. Thick as a bag. Got lost. Had to use a GPS to get back to the Trig point(!) I think I may be able to do it faster next time. Main aim- walking ascents.
11k 529m ascent, 1:11:08. GPS track is on Strava

2 Woatts today.
Anthony Walker - who did 3 wrecks, and then some, visiting the Skytrain, Lancaster, B29, Bolton Defiant, Blackburn Botha AND the Blenheim before heading off via Cockhill.
19.4km. 583m ascent, 2:14:21 GPS track Here

Me again - B29, Sabre, Liberator. But with a lot of faffing around on the North Edge of Kinder as well. Never visited that Sabre before, either.
28.7km. 1251m ascent. 3:06:00. GPS track Here (didn't exactly go from turning circle and back to it, but its close enough).

Rachel Walton went out on the Road WOATT for marathon training, passing White Hart in Mottram, the Harewood(?) Arms in Broadbottom, the George and Dragon and the Grey Mare in Charlesworth, Hare and Hounds in Simmondly, Beehive in Glossop, Bulls Head in Old Glossop, very nearly gave up and went for a pint in the Peels in Padfield even tho its not an animal, and the Bulls Head in Tintwistle. 14.5miles. 
Nicely done Rachel. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Hot Stones Massage - a new experience.

OK. I may be a little bit biased, but at least I'll mention it up front. I am the other half of Global Therapies, and this is not meant to be an advert - its an honest reflection of the treatment I just received.
Being a massage therapist, as well as a runner for a good number of years has enabled me to know the difference between a good massage and a bad one.

Lynne has been doing Hot Stones Massage alongside regular Sports Massage for the past year, and while I haven't been dismissive of it, I've just always had my legs pummelled and fixed.

I think I may have had a Revelation though.
Yeah, yeah, I know the photos and the cliches... its always women having Hot Stones massages. That is certainly the case of the majority of clientele that we see come through the door... but I think they're a couple of steps ahead of us blokes....

Basalt stone stack
Warmth to the bone. And a proper decent massage to boot. 
Since it has got a fair bit colder, Lynne has been doing a good few more Hot Stones massages and persuaded me to try it. Considering how cold I've been for the past couple of months through dropping weight - and body fat - I figured that I'd go for the warmth.

As a runner, I never really considered what you get with a Hot Stones Massage. Maybe lying down with Hot Stones being plonked on top of you? I suppose that as a therapist I should have taken more interest in it, but I have been a bit busy with needles and taping.

First things first. The warmth of the stones is fabulous - and its not just that they get plonk on you. Instead of using hands for massage, the stones themselves are used as the instruments. It is (or at least in Lynnes case), a full sports massage with Hot Stones as an added bonus.
Deep warmth, knots loosened out, it feels like liquid heat being shone through your body.
Perhaps that doesn't make sense as you read it, but seriously, that's what it feels like.

I don't know what other Hot Stones practitioners are like, but I know that Lynne knows what she is doing. If you need a Sports Massage - seriously, get it done with Hot Stones.
What a feeling.
Fuzzy warmth. Fixed up legs. A back that feels like new. And a nice hot cup of tea.
You can't beat that. I think I'm ready for the Long Tour of Pendle now.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Vaude Hogan

Yeah, yeah, I know. Reviewing old kit... however, this one is worth it, and there is a current incarnation to get out and buy.

I've had this tent for a long time.
I remember using it for the first time in anger on my Silver D of E award, so that must have been about 1995 or 6 or so, so it's pretty old.

The main reason for buying it was because I was intrigued by the picture in the Cotswold catalogue. The tent appeared to have an exo-skeleton, and hung from it. It was a 2 man tent, weighted about 2.5kg so I convinced my sister that it would be a great tent and we should buy it.
This was very much like the original image that intrigued me. A tent with an Exo-skeleton? Cool
We did, and I've certainly had the lions share of use since then.

It has been re-proofed, re-seam sealed and re-proofed again, and still it carries on going. Until August in Switzerland, when I picked it up by the centre pole, and it snapped in 2 places on 2 seperate poles. A week before I was due to use it on my ML assessment.
On the upside, at least it went bang on a campsite and not somewhere on a mountain while I was being assessed.
So. Why am I raving about this tent? What makes it good?

It pitches in about 2 mins flat. I timed myself once a couple of years ago and could get it from in its bag to getting in a fully erect tent in 1:56. I don't think I could do that now, but it really doesn't take long.

The pole is an up in 1 type thing, it attaches to the base in 3 places, and then the bungee cord goes over and attaches back onto the tent, creating the 'exo-skeleton' look, pegs at the sides, back and one on the front of the porch, and its up- inner and outer at the same time.
2 guy ropes on either side can be used, but aren't really necessary unless it's crazy windy.
There is enough space for 1 to live very comfortably, and 2 to live relatively comfortably, if you are neat.

I've used it for trekking, car camping and multiple day expeditions, it has seen me through storms where 3/4 of the other tents in the campsite have been blown away (hellloo Llanberis pass), its been used for incognito wild camping, and has had its share of frigid nights in the Peak district with frost on the inside of the inner....

I'm about 5'9 and of relatively slight build, but the guy I've shared this with most often is about 6'2 and built quite a bit larger than me. I wouldn't say its been massively roomy, but we managed to not completely destroy the tent by sleeping in it at the same time.

The Hogan doesn't seem to be around anymore, though the ultralight and Argon versions can still be found in various places.
The closest thing to the tent I originally bought is the Vaude Mark 2, which boasts a slightly bigger vestibule, tensioners which can actually be re-tensioned while INSIDE the tent (which is pretty cool), a wider section at
the "foot" end of the tent, which would have been the main improvement I would have suggested to the
Yup. Thats properly broke
original Hogan, it is 4 season, and weighs in at a pretty excellent 3kg.
Ok. not quite the 2.4 that I originally thought my Hogan was specced in at, but close enough to its actual 2.6kg to not really worry too much about it.

Would I buy another one?
If I was in the same place in 1995/6 then I would say yes, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. Currently, if I wanted a tent that was to do exactly the same as the Hogan, the answer, again, would be definitely. The
only reason I am not going out and splashing the cash as I type this is because my list of needs has changed - in terms of the weight I am willing to carry, and in terms of the space I need.

As geekery goes, I am actually about to sit down and make a spreadsheet of all the tents that may or may not work, and then attempt to get hold of as many of them as I can to see which one best suits my needs... it may take a while, but we'll have to see how it works.

In the meantime, take it as read that the Vaude Hogan, now the Vaude Mark 2, is a fantastic bit of kit. If you need a decent, bombproof 4 season, 2 man tent that can be put up in a gale and lasts for a ridiculously long time, look no further. This is the one.

Oh- and just as a bit of an update, I sent the pole off to Vaude UK, and they replaced the 2 sections of snapped pole for £15 each. However, they ALSO said that there is a fair amount of corrosion on a few of the other sections, so just watch out when pitching it in the future... Well, its going to my sister next, so she might need to be careful....

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

SOL bivvy bag

Winter is coming. How do we know?
Its November. Pretty simple. 

Getting colder, getting grimmer out on the tops. 
If you're anything like me, you begrudge having to wear longs when running, even when the weather closes in. To be honest, I don't even like carrying a pair of waterproof trousers on most escapades in the hills, mainly because they are heavy and I KNOW that they aren't going to get used. 

However. What if it all goes pearshaped. What if it all goes belly up? 
Imagine being out there with a mate, or all alone, in proper rubbish weather in shorts and a waterproof top, a good few miles of dodgy terrain between where you are and anything remotely like "safety" and you go over on your ankle. 

Not an "ouch, that feels nasty", or an "I'll run it off". 
I'm talking about a full on snappingly horrendous dislocation. 
What then? 
I'm not worrying for the moment about getting off the hill. That is another issue. 
Lets assume for a moment that Mountain Rescue has been called, or that it will be called- at some point when you don't actually return home.
What I'm worrying about is surviving long enough to be rescued by said volunteers. If you're anything like me, you  tend to rely on output of body heat to keep warm, and having to stop soon chills you off.

Being out in the cold, the wet, the hypothermia inducing mingingness of the mountains and moors for an unspecified period of time (we might be talking hours and hours, probably in the dark) really isn't fun. Wearing just pertex, or eVent, or a Goretex top just isn't going to cut it in terms of keeping you non-hypothermic. 

So what to do? 
Old school heavy plastic survival bags were never particularly good. The main thing about them was that if you had ever attempted to stay overnight in one of them, you would do your damndest never to experience the misery again. So having one in your bag wasn't any more of a comfort than not having one. 

Space blankets were pretty good at keeping heat in, but tended to be very fragile, and if you ever sat on a hill trying to stop one being blown away, you'll know they are a nightmare when ripped. 

Blizzard bags were a fantastic addition to the family of survival bag-esque things. 
A double skinned, baffled bag with elastic round each panel to make it compress. Brilliant. But heavy. Especially for the weight, and space conscious fellrunner. 
It would fit in a big rucksack, but I find that if I have one of those, then I'd have a Bothy Bag instead. 

So the options used to go like this - 
  • Survival bag - too big, heavy, and actually nothing more than a plastic bag
  • Space Blanket - smaller, lighter and insulative, but pretty fragile, and not the best thing to have when its flapping around you in a gale (but better than nothing)
  • Blizzard bag - blimmin brilliant, but a but heavy and bulky for runners. 
No wonder we never really carried stuff like that. 
Enter the SOL bag. 
I've had one for a couple of years now. Think of it as a heavier duty space blanket, which is a bag, and can be re-stowed if you use it and don't want to buy another one. However, at about £12 each, they are a good buy. (It does depend on where you get one from)
It is ridiculously light and fits in a 2 litre bumbag with lots of space to spare for the normal goods and chattles that you take on a run. The SOL bag is a constant in any bag that I take with me on the hill, no matter the length of the run. A good insurance policy, should I need to protect myself from the elements in a worse case scenario. 

If you run, and you like to travel light in the hills, have a think about what might happen, worst case. Would you be ok? Would twelve quid and a few grams save you? 
If you're going to buy one item to enhance your kit this year, get one of these.  

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Shepherds Skyline 2013

Coming to the end of the year, there are still 3 more races in the Glossopdale championships. Well, 2 now that today is over.
Carl, Caity, Chris and I wended our way from Glossop and its environs up to Todmorden for this BM race. Not quite an up and back race, its more of an up, along, down, up and back race. Looking at results of years gone by, it generally had a pretty large field - and a pretty talented one at that. The route looked pretty muddy, and Mudclaws were definitely the order of the day.

The weather wasn't exactly pleasant as we approached the pub, but we had got there in plenty of time and managed to get a parking space close to the race registration and start. Having registered, we wandered back to the car, with the rain lashing down around us - not the most conducive climate to be warming up in.
However, knowing that was what let me down in a couple of races previously, I duly got my gear on, hat, gloves etc. and got out on the hill, being careful not to get tangled up in the kids races that were being run as a preliminary to the main fell race.

About 200metres after starting I went over on my left ankle, so not the best start to the day. I recced a fair way up the first climb/last descent, stretched out a bit and slowly, gingerly came back down. Thankfully not much damage was done, and I could run perfectly well on it as long as the foot was placed on the ground well.

Eventually, start time came around, and from no-where, Mark O turned up, and so did Andy Anastasi - so
at least Chris and I wouldn't be battling it out for 30 points, but rather, 29. Lined up at the start, the rain had finally abated somewhat, the sun even came out, but there was a bitter wind, and the ground was sodden. The pack of fell runners were spread out across the beginning of the path, but it was evident that when the race started we would all have to funnel onto the same track. No time to worry about that, as we set off.
I managed to keep a decent pace up the first hill. Mark was a little way in front of me, Chris was somewhere behind, but I just concentrated on breathing and running. Once on top the race had settled down a fair bit, though I was beginning to realise I might have set off just a little too ambitiously, and was really starting to feel tired. There was a decent amount of bog across the top, and although I managed to pass a couple of people, I also got passed as well.

There was a tailwind at this point, however, I knew we were coming back this way. Muddy, gloopy AND into the wind. No time to worry about that now.
It took a while to get across to the monument, where we plunged down into the valley. The profile of the race makes it look really vertiginous, but it wasn't really, it was a bit of a rocky descent, but nothing too bad. Then what should have been a fast blast along a track at the bottom, which turned into a hanging on for dear life run, trying not to get dropped by the guy in front of me- and then a hill that again looks crazily steep on the profile, but on any other day might have been runnable.

Unfortunately I had already burned most of my fuel up by now and the struggle was starting to tell. I caught up and overtook Noel from Pennine, but only because he had slowed up to put a jacket in his bag. It would be nice to say I then cruised up the hill, but it was more of a limping, rasping attempt at a run/walk rather than anything particularly graceful, or indeed powerful.
Hitting the path at the top, Noel came past me, and another guy as well, and the run back through the bog was pretty hard as well, considering the headwind.

Caitys prize
I was on my own on the way down the last descent, not quite able to attach myself onto a group of 4 20 seconds in front of me, and some way ahead of whoever was behind me.
That final descent went on for a long time. I was sure it was around the next corner, or over the next bit, but it went on and on. Staying strong, I finished in 49:34. About a minute and a half behind Mark, which is not quite as good as I wanted, but pretty good nevertheless.
Well done to Caity, who had a great run, coming in second lady, a minute or so behind Helen Fines.

There were a good number of photogs out there today, so I'm sure there will be a couple of photos of me with snot plastered across my face and mud splattered up my legs. I'll try and get one on here when I can find one.

Thanks to Todmorden Harriers for putting on the race, and to the marshals who stood around and about in fairly grim weather. A good day out.
And below is an attempt at embedding a Strava page onto the blog.

a tale of 3 pairs of x-talons

I got my first pair of x-talons last year.
I don't know what took me so long to get a pair, as they are amazingly comfortable. As it was, I wore them a lot, and my strava shoe log shows that, with nigh on 800km in them. As you might expect, after that kind of
abuse they have taken on the appearance of racing flats.

Battered but unbowed after about 800km
As they got down the grip, the time for opening my second pair came close, and it was at Sedbugh hills that I broke them out. They were used in precisely 2 races and one club run on Kinder, a total of 90km, when this happened.
Studs ripping off, on both feet.
I know this site is called "Tested to destruction" but I didn't expect that.
Not being an "expert", this seemed a little strange - having one pair of shoes that does the best part of 1000 km, wearing down gradually, and another, the same model, ripping itself to pieces after having done barely a 10th of that doesn't seem right.
Box fresh- but with shearing studs after all of 90km

So I called inov8. Well. I emailed them, detailing the above, with the lovely photos that you can see above, to which I was told, they aren't the people I need to talk to. As a consumer, I need to talk to the place I bought them from- as it is with them I have the "contract" with.

Not inov8s problem.
So I called Ratrace, from where I had bought them, but no-one answered any of the phonelines that are advertised (during normal work hours on a generic day). So I emailed ratrace with the same email, and after about a week was told that I need to send my shoes back to them for inspection. Not a problem, they went in the post the next day. Registered.

A week went by. Nothing. Not even an email saying that they had received them. I called them, on the various numbers, finally getting through to someone on a line to do with races, who passed me on to someone else. It took a while, but it was confirmed that my shoes had indeed been received, and that they had been sent on to inov8, who had not got back to Ratrace.
Some progress.

Another week went by. Still nothing. I called again, going through the same rigmarole of phones not being answered, until I finally got through on a random line, and then went through to someone else... No, still nothing from inov8, but it would be chased up.
Considering that I sent the shoes back the week before the Ian Hodgeson relays, and it wasn't until after the FRAs that I finally got an email saying that Inov8 would replace the shoes and which address would I like them sent to, I was a little frustrated.

(just checking the emails, I sent the first one to Ratrace on the 5th September, I took receipt of a new pair on the 1st November - and as a side note, during the same time period I also bought a pair of mudclaws from ratrace, who processed and sent the shoes within 24 hours, so buying stuff is fine....)

I got a new pair of x-talons today. Brand new, new colour, new design. Pretty cool, but it took a while.
New Shooooes. They might be getting used today, so expect a review quite soon. I have this suspicion that they are't QUITE the same in terms of sizing from my old ones. 

So what? I sent my shoes back, I got a new pair. Great.

Just thought I would highlight a couple of things.
Fantastic that Ratrace and Inov8 have such a high level of service in terms of recognising when a product has not performed to the level expected.

However, the somewhat lacklustre original response from inov8 was not ideal.
Nor was the difficulty I had in getting to speak with someone from Ratrace. If there is a phone number, I kind of expect at least one of them to be answered - or at least an answerphone.
The lack of recognition that my shoes had even arrived, let alone been sent on to inov8 was a bit concerning as well, and the overall time that it took for Inov8 to get back to Ratrace - a couple of weeks- seems a little long - though I accept inov8 is now a multinational company with MUCH more on its mind than sorting out a simple pair of shoes for yours truely...

All in all I'm pretty chuffed at the outcome, but wish there was more information sharing during the process. Customer service is one of those little things that is easy to get wrong, but then again, is so easy to get right as well.

Thankyou Ratrace and Inov8 for finally sorting it out.

Friday, 1 November 2013

FRA relays

Doesn't time fly.. I wrote this 2 weeks ago and didn't post it for one reason or another... still, better late than never....

This year the FRAs were held in Llanberis. Starting from a hard bed slate quarry, going up a hill that quickly turned to a muddy quagmire, and up onto the tops around Moel Elio. With 170 teams or so of 6 people per team made the event pretty busy.

The weather was of course an interesting part of the day, as it always is in Wales. Unlike last year, which was a crisp, cool day, with a fair bit of sun, Llanberis provided us with winds gusting from 17- 40mph, a lot of clag and a whole hosepipe full of rain.
Glossopdale entered 3 teams this year, A, B and ladies. Not too many last minute alterations occured this year, which is always nice. Despite transport issues that could have arisen from slightly lackadasical planning we all managed to get to the blowy quarry for the event. Bonus. We wouldn't have to suddenly draft in a random bystander to run one of the legs. (as may or may not have happened in previous years).

The start pen... waiting to start leg 3
A good number of team tents had been put up in the start/finish area, but the wind was causing havoc, blowing them around and in some cases destroying them completely. Luckily the Glossopdale Argos special was weighed down with enough rocks and bits of slate to mean that it got away without too much damage.

After a short period of waiting around, and a large amount of rain thrashing down on the assembled leg 1 runners in the starting pen, the Eryri main organiser stood up on the PA system and gave us all the rules and regs, before the runners were taken off down the hill for the start.
Between short, sharp showers they set off up the hill. Tarmac first, and then onto the slope that would pretty soon become a mud bath.
Not much for us to do in the pen, but wait.
The first runners came in from about 40 mins. Chris, from my team came in in good time, setting the leg 2 runners, Andy O and Alasdair off onto the hill. I was a little more concerned at this point about where Lynne was going to come in. I was ever so proud that she was running the relays. A year ago I don't think she would have contemplated it, and yet, here she was, off on leg one. (and the only person of any of our teams to have done a recce!) She came in to cheers at about 55 mins, which was fantastic, setting the ladies leg 2 runners off on their way.

In hindsight I perhaps should have warmed up a bit more than I did. Well. Maybe I should have actually warmed up at all. Considering that I was off out of the blocks with Julien, which is never easy on the best of days... yes, I should have put in a couple of laps before going off.
Lynne finishing leg 1

However, all too soon Andy and Alasdair were coming back in. We had lost time on a few of the teams, but gained on others. To be honest, I had no idea what kind of placing we were in, but I did know that the Pennine V40 team had gone out a few minutes before us, so if we could catch up or overtake them, that'd be grand. Especially as it was Grouse.
Jules and I grabbed the map and headed out on the navigation leg. The only leg that could not be recced, and a route that is blind. We were just behind the HBT ladies team, and with Julien saying "yes, we'll go out slow so that we have some firepower left for the end of the leg" and promptly set off with me huffing and puffing in his wake as we shot past the HBTers on the first hill.

To be entirely honest our navigation through the nav leg was essentially a grand fluke. We picked up a control, which wasn't the one we thought it was (running faster than we could map read... not a good idea), and then half way to the next control decided that we should have gone another way, but in fact went the first way anyway. Jules decided to take a "short cut" which, as ever, involved going up and over a hugely steep slope as everyone else contoured around it. My legs and lungs were finding it really hard to keep up on the steep ups, but I was running away from Julien on the downs and flats.
The next couple of controls were pretty ok, and then, after blasting down a massive path we fluked it again with another find of the control that we already thought that we had got... before hammering up a hill and overtaking as many teams had overtaken us with a few mistakes that we had made previously.
Jules and me finishing leg 3. Note the highly un-stealth jacket
The last checkpoints fell quickly, and with a couple of teams hard on our tails we got to the final stile to get off the hill. The final lunge downhill was a little slower than I anticipated. Underfoot was muddy, slippy and gloopy. I was fine in a pair of brand new mudclaws, chomping up the ground, but had to stop and wait for Jules a couple of times as he slipped around in his (admittedly also brand new) x-talons.
We kept in front of the other teams, and shot down the tarmac at the bottom as hard as we could, coming in to set Mark O off on the last leg. And what do we know - We were standing around at the end as Grouse came in. Didn't see him for the entire leg, but still managed to come in in front.

A few minutes after Mark had set off, the first team, Dark Peak, came in to finish the last leg. Superbly fast. All we could do now is wait, and count off the minutes.
Mercia were second, with Simon Bailey setting the fastest time on the course, but not able to overhaul the massive lead that DPFR had built up on an amazingly fast leg 3.

Glossop A came in finally in 26th, a bit down on last year, but that reflects the quality of the field, rather than the spirit of the runners- who really ran well. Last year we didn't get the last runner off until after the first 3 teams had finished... this time, at least we get Mark off before the first of the winners got in.
Glossop B had a fantastic run, coming in a few places up from last year in 46th.
The Glossopdale ladies had a fantastic race, not only because Caity managed to get around the 4th leg in the 3rd fastest time of the day- only 4 seconds behind Laura Jeska, (and subsequently another team who shall remain nameless tried to recruit ever) but they came in about 15th. A fabulous effort.

So all in all, a good day out for the Blue and Orange vests. The weather may have created a bit of a rough day, but it was an excellent time, and I think we certainly gave more than a lot of other teams in terms of the cheering.