Races 2021

With lockdown slowly easing and more people being vaccinated, there is a certain amount of optimism regarding races in 2021. Pretty much every race last year was either cancelled or postponed, although both me and Helen are being cautious with what we enter.

Ullswater Trail Race

In two weeks time we will be racing around Ullswater. I’m doing the full race, 20 hilly miles, while Helen is doing the 10 mile version which includes a ferry ride to Pooley Bridge. Way before anyone had heard of Covid we did something similar with Nelly (read about it here).

Backyard Ultra

When I first stumbled upon the concept of the Backyard Ultra I knew that at some point I would have to have a go. The idea is simple, every hour you run just over 4 miles, and you keep going until only one person is left standing. The one I’m doing is in North Wales, but there are hundreds all over the world. Unlike Ironman, the original organisers are happy to support anyone who wants to put on their own version.

Coniston Swim

This was one of my cancelled races from last year, and it is the full length of Coniston Water, just over 5 miles. I’ve only managed two swims this year, however, this race isn’t until September so I should have opportunity to get a few longer swims in before the event.

Cancelled/Postponed Races

The Oldham Way Ultra has been postponed for the second year running, so possibly I will manage this hilly 40 mile race in 2022.

My amazing wife had entered us into the Castle to Coast Triathlon, which was cancelled last year, but we’ve deferred our entry until 2022. Neither of us had done enough cycling to enjoy what could be one of the best races we’ve ever done. The swim is in Windsor, the bike ride heads towards Brighton, and the run is 13 miles into Brighton, hence the name – Castle to Coast.

Hopefully we’ll enter a few more races as the year progresses, and we’re also looking forward to parkruns starting up again. It does appear that there are some issues and that they are looking to commence towards the end of June. Fingers crossed.

That’s us for official races. Helen will also be doing the Bay Limestone Round in a team once again, with me and Nelly supporting, and we’d also like to have a go at the George Fisher Tea or Espresso Rounds.

What races have you entered?

Cat Bells

Last weekend we headed off once again to the Lake District for a mini-adventure. This time for a walk up the iconic fell of Cat Bells. Lots of memories for Helen as this was the very first fell that she climbed as a seven year old with her father. Helen had never been back, and I had never been there at all.

Our route was inspired by the George Fisher Tea Round and shorter Espresso Round. We’d never heard of them until a crazy friend completed the 30 mile Tea Round. The round heads to the summit of all ten fells that can be seen from the upstairs window of the George Fisher shop in Keswick. The 12 mile Espresso round does four of the summits. Both start and finish from the shop, and if you complete the longer route you become the proud owner of a free T-Shirt.

Anyway, as we were walking we decided to miss out the flat out and back section from Keswick and start in the village of Portinscale. With the rain we were all wrapped up in waterproofs and Nelly was even wearing her little jacket.

We set off and it wasn’t too long before Cat Bells was looming before us. Not long after that we reached the false summit.

The well trodden path was easy to follow and we climbed up to the main summit to find there were dozens of people at the top. We took a few photos and then headed back down the way we had come.

We didn’t double back for too long as our second summit was Rowling End.

The sun had come out as we scrambled our way up the very steep footpath, although as we reached the top the heavens opened. In the distance we could see the formidable summit of Causey Pike. With the weather so bad and the route to the top a little too difficult with Nell, we opted to take the footpath down the easier side of Rowling End. Unfortunately this meant that we would miss out the fourth summit of Barrow.

We chatted to a couple of other walkers on the way down who said that Causey Pike wasn’t too bad, so we’ll definitely go back another day.

Back in the valley we followed the road in the shadow of Barrow as we headed back to the car. We stopped off for a coffee and cake at a lovely cafe in Portinscale before heading back home.

Our route had taken a little over four hours and was just under 10 miles, with lots of climbing. I like the look of doing the shorter Espresso Round with Helen and then maybe doing the longer Tea Round later in the year, if Helen will support me.

Another brilliant day out with my brilliant wife and our silly pooch. More days like that please.

New Shoes – Update

I’ve had my new shoes for a month and I have to tell you that on the whole they are not too bad. My original review can be found here.

I’ve had them for just over a month, and I’ve run just over 100km in the New Balance and just over 60km in the Asics.

First off the New Balance road shoes. 5 out of 5. Very comfortable and they feel great. I can’t fault them. I will definitely be buying these again.

The Asics trail shoes are also very good, but not perfect. I don’t know if the perfect trail shoe exists, especially not with the trails and fells near Lancaster. They are very comfortable, especially on good trails and on the road. Unfortunately, when the trail becomes fell they let themselves down. If anything they have too much support when the ground is very rough, boggy and uneven. Me and my lovely wife did a run/walk from the village of Staveley at the weekend, and the route had a mix of everything. Helen was wearing her Saucony’s, the same that I used to have, and they were hard on her feet on the road sections, while I was fine. We were both good on the farm track and trail sections, but on the tougher sections I was struggling while Helen was fine. I suppose the answer is to have two different trail/off road shoes and wear whichever pair are most suitable for the terrain.

It will be interesting to see how both pairs look in another couple of months. I generally replace my road shoes after about 800km and by them they still don’t look too bad. Trail shoes generally get replaced before I would like to, as the uppers don’t seem to wear very well. Time will tell.

The Wyre Way and Nicky Nook

Last year we (me, Helen and Nell) did a section of the Wyre Way (read about it here). Last weekend we went for a long walk along a different section of the Wyre Way, returning via Nicky Nook. We would have run but Helen had a small twinge in her knee so for once in our lives we decided to ere on the side of caution.

Setting off from the busy little village of Scorton we soon found ourselves winding our way alongside the Wyre, perfect for Nelly to scamper among the bluebells.

All very pleasant. Hardly anyone else about, the sun was out and we were walking along a shaded little path. A bit further and we had to dog-leg across a field and along a road for a short section as the footbridge had been removed a couple of years ago. We didn’t know it at the time but we could have taken the path under the M6. It did mean that we could see the iconic ‘Jetsons’ service station.

Off the road and along a track into a farm and activity centre we lost the path for a couple of minutes, until Helen’s trusty Garmin pointed us across a field towards a large caravan site. Knowing that they are on a designated long distance footpath, the caravan park had plenty of signs so that walkers wouldn’t go the wrong way, although I almost did. We overtook a group of older walkers before crossing a road near to Bradley Wiggins’ house and the very imposing Wyreside Hotel. A sheep free large field allowed Nelly another scamper.

We walked through another farm and as we reached the small village of Dolphinhome we stopped for a sandwich and snacks. Nelly wanted to say hello to some ducklings. We didn’t let her.

We ambled through the village, leaving the Wyre Way to start on our route back. From here the route became a little more challenging as we crossed the fells. The path also took us through the garden of an amazing barn conversion. We tried not to gawp for too long, although the owner did appear as we headed off down the track.

The path then took us over Harris End, a route that we’ve cycled many times. Finding a handy stone seat we stopped for another sandwich.

Birds and rabbits distracted Nelly and a Ewe stamped her feet as we passed her baby lambs. We then joined a brilliant little path round the back of Grizedale Dock Reservoir before the very steep climb up the back of Nicky Nook.

As expected Nicky Nook was busy with families, as was The Apple Store, a very good local cafe. As much as we would have liked to stop we pushed on and down back into Scorton, grabbing cake and coffee from a take away van outside the Priory.

8 tired legs between us. The route was just under 12 miles and took us nearly 5 hours, although we were in no rush at all. Another brilliant day out with the best woman and dog in the world.