Run For The World

I blogged about virtual challenges a while ago (read it here), but Run For The World is a new addition to the market. I recently signed up for a couple of challenges with Awesome Virtual Running, and while the medals are too bad, and they aren’t too expensive, the challenges lack a certain amount of ‘challenge’, as you can obtain the medal as part of a world wide team, no matter how little you ran that month.

Since December last year I’ve signed up each month with Swim The Distance virtual challenges, but last month for various reasons I failed to reach my target, and as a result I don’t get the medal, which is a shame as the June medal was quite nice.

Run For The World work on the same principle, if you don’t reach the target, you don’t get your medal. The USP (Unique Selling Point) with RFTW is that when you sign up the webpage links with your Strava page, so as you log your runs on Strava, your distance is immediately updated.

Lots of the challenges are themed, with the most recent one based on the Women’s World Cup. Another one is Wimbledon themed, although I haven’t signed up for that one as I didn’t like the medal. They are also running many of the challenges at half price as an introductory offer, as well as a few free ones. If that’s not enough, there are prize boxes available randomly, which I was lucky enough to win last week (see the photo below).


Along with me medal I received a headband (my wife won’t let me wear it), a wristband with pocket ideal for a parkrun barcode, a pound coin style locker token, a phone holder for running, a coaster, some stickers and a 10% discount for my next challenge.

I’m impressed with them so far and I hope that they succeed in a crowded market. If you like the look of them the link to their webpage is below. Tell them I sent you.


Whinlatter Forest parkrun

Me and my beautiful wife spent three nights camping near Keswick as my wife was doing the Lakesman Half. I was there in a supporting role, but it did mean that I was free for a parkrun on the Saturday while Helen tried to take it easy. I haven’t managed to find any official photos from the parkrun, but I took this one below a few weeks ago when we did the Lakesman bike route (read about it here).


Helen gave me a lift to the start and waved good-bye as I intended to run back to the campsite, knowing that it would be mostly downhill. Whinlatter parkrun is rumoured to be the toughest and hilliest parkrun in the UK. Lancaster, our ‘home’ parkrun isn’t by an stretch of the imagination a flat course, so how bad could it be.

After a very friendly run briefing and a short walk to the start we were off, and immediately downhill. It didn’t last long before we went up, and up…

I had started slow and even though I was slower here I was overtaking a few people. With the fast guys having disappeared into the distance I had no idea what my position was, so I concentrated on the next person, slowly reeling them in. Towards the end of the run there is a narrow path which loops back onto the course, and as expected, it was steep. Thankfully the last section to the finish line was all downhill, and as I was handed my token I was amazed to see that I was 8th, although my time was 24:34. Two weeks early I had run Morecambe Prom parkrun 4 minutes quicker! Definitely the toughest and hilliest parkrun I’ve ever done, made hillier with the finish being at a much higher elevation than the start.

I didn’t hang around at the finish line long, just long enough to have my barcode scanned, before running back to the start to find the right footpath back to the campsite. I really didn’t want to have to run down the road as it would be longer and there isn’t a footpath. Amazingly I found the right footpath and followed it all the way to Thornthwaite, which was only a mile from the campsite.

Whinlatter Forest parkrun was one of the friendliest I’ve done, and one of the most unique. However, with over 600 parkruns in the UK, it’s probably one that I won’t do again, especially as I’ve not done Keswick parkrun yet.

Sometimes you need to rest and sometimes you need to run

Monday mornings I generally leave the house just after 6am for a long swim before work. This morning I stayed in bed for an extra hour snuggling up with my beautiful wife and our silly dog. I didn’t feel guilty about not swimming as I’d had two tough days of cycling with work (read about it here).

I had intended to leave work well before 5pm, but the technical director needed me to look at hydrochloric acid pollution emissions from a mine in Armenia, which had been estimated using an unknown piece of Russian software. (Air quality work can be quite varied).

I didn’t then get home until nearly 7pm, and I really felt like a run. Nelly was keen to come with me, so we completed one lap of the park, briefly watching some canoe polo, before returning home for tea. If I had had my phone with me I would have taken a photo.

Sometimes you need to listen to your body, which I generally never do. Sometimes you need to rest and sometimes you need to run (or swim, or cycle… insert chosen sport).

Lancaster parkrun revisited

I’ve not run at Lancaster parkrun for almost two months as I’ve been all over the place. Me and my beautiful wife ran at Bushy park (read about it here), and then at Morecambe Prom at few times (here) as well as a solo outing to Blackpool (here), so it was good to be back at my ‘home’ parkrun.


The big difference is now that Morecambe Prom parkrun has become established, there are fewer runners at Lancaster. With it’s narrow paths it can be difficult running with Nelly. This year Lancaster has had over 300 parkrunners every week, with a couple of weeks more than 400. Last Saturday, even starting at the back, me and Nelly were able to run at our own pace early on, although I had cycled nearly 100 miles the previous day, so I wasn’t particularly speedy. There were 213 there, which is a nice manageable number.

We were back at Morecambe this morning as both me and Helen wanted a slightly longer run. I decided to run there and do parkrun and my wife would drive there with Nelly, do parkrun and run home.


I surprised myself with a Morecambe pb, even after a steady 10km. Nelly was first dog. Helen opted not to run home as she wasn’t feeling at her best, but after an amazing breakfast in Lancaster we were both feeling ready for anything.

We are both loving having two very different parkruns on our doorstep.

Black Combe

At the weekend me and beautiful wife were due to meet up with her family at her brother’s caravan near Grizebeck, but as expected, we decided to make it a bit more of an adventure. Looking out from the caravan you can see the hill of Black Combe, the largest hill on the periphery of the lake district. On a good day it looks like the photo below.


Yesterday it definitely wasn’t like that. It chucked it down on the drive over, the wind was blowing a gale, and clouds completely blocked out the summit. Perfect fell running weather.

We parked up in Silecroft and followed a couple of footpaths across fields, although the second field had a few inquisitive young cows who wanted to say hello. From there the path to the top is well marked and well used, and heads straight up. In his books Wainright describes Black Combe as an easy walk that the elderly can manage in carpet slippers. I was puffing and blowing as we were reduced to a steady walk. It also wasn’t long before we were hidden in the clouds, which did mean that we had no idea where the summit was, although I knew that it would be slightly less than 3 miles, all up hill. The fairly impressive Strava elevation profile can be seen below.

bc elevation

As we neared the summit the winds increased, until we spotted the Trig point, surrounded by a small circular wall, which we ducked down behind for a little shelter.


Moments later I stood up.


Sensibly, instead of looking for a different route down and probably getting lost in the clouds, we opted to return down the way we had come up. When we return in better conditions then we’ll probably take the longer route.

Surprisingly it was far easier running down, although we did have to stop when the track split into two. We hadn’t noticed the other track on the way up. Not long after that we dropped out of the clouds, and as you can see Helen was pleased to have a view to look at.


As we neared the bottom the field with cows now had a bull, so wisely we detoured onto the road, into the other field and back to the car.

The rest of the day was spent with Helen’s family, eating and drinking, interspersed with a walk along the Ulverston Canal and the Ulverston food festival. Overall a great day.


Howgills Half Marathon

A few months ago me and my beautiful wife were looking at races to enter, specifically a half marathon in April or May. It would be used as a warm up race for later in the year when Helen attempts the Lakesman half ironman distance triathlon. (Legally it’s not a Half Ironman as it isn’t an M-Dot race, and therefore it must always be referred to as a half ironman distance race.) I digress. After looking at various races we decided that the Howgills Half Marathon organised by Epic Events would be perfect.

We had both done another race in the Montane Trail Series last year in Grizedale which had been a brilliant race (read about it here). I had also done the Howgills Triathlon a couple of years ago, which should have rung warning bells as the run had gone up Winder Fell (read about it here).

With a 10am start from Sedbergh, which is only a 30 minute drive, it wasn’t an early off, although Nelly, our unruly Pointer, knew that we had our running gear on and was most perturbed when we left her at home. As with all trail races there was a mandatory kit list, especially as it always seems to rain in the Howgills, except for last Sunday, when it was sunny, hot, dry and hardly any wind.


We arrived in Sedbergh in plenty of time, parked in the correct field and picked up our numbers and t-shirts, before queuing to use the port-a-loos (very unpleasant).

There was also a marathon on who were setting off 20 minutes before our race, so we cheered them on as they set off. We then had a quick chat with Steve, an old friend who had completed the Bowland Half Marathon with us last year in horrendous conditions (read about it here).

Once we were off the route went directly up Winder Fell, dropping down slightly before heading up The Calf, which tops out at almost 700m high. There was then a very pleasant section along before the two routes split off with the marathon runners continuing on while we turned right. There then followed two very steep technical descents, where as always I was overtaken by more than a handful of runners. I really need to practice running downhill.

There then followed a short out and back section to the feed station set up on a farm near Narthwaite. I re-filled my water bottle and grabbed a couple of Jaffa Cakes before setting off over the very narrow footbridge. I waved at Steve as he was running towards the feed station and set off towards Sedbergh. The next few miles were fairly easy going along footpaths with very little climbing. We had been warned about the final hill, but after Winder and The Calf how hard could it be.

Swearing, lots of swearing, that’s how hard it was. So steep I was almost crawling up it. We didn’t even go all the way to the top, but it felt never ending. Eventually the route followed the contours of the hill before another steep technical descent. We crossed a small stream where I dipped my hat, which then promptly gave me a headache because the water was so cold. Finally I could see and hear the finish area way down below.


The last downhill section on the road was hard on my tired legs, but moments later I was running around the field and through the finish funnel, to be handed water and a medal. As I was coming towards the finish the announcer was starting the prize giving, beginning with the vet 60 winner! There are some very quick ‘older’ runners out there.

I headed to the car to drop off my medal and to change into my finishers shirt, before returning to the field to wait for my wife. As I was queuing for a coffee I spotted Helen running down the road, much earlier than I had been expecting. I hobbled over to the finish line for a hug and to congratulate her as it had been an absolutely stunning performance from Helen.


Helen was a little emotional and also full of swear words, mainly about that f****** last hill. A few minutes later the winner from the marathon returned, in just under four hours. I can’t even imagine how he had run it that fast, although Helen pointed out to me that the marathon had hardly any extra elevation than the half, which made me feel slightly less old and rubbish.

Overall it was an excellent race; well marshalled with plenty of arrows out on the course. It would have been difficult to have got lost. We will definitely be doing more events from this series, although probably not this particular race. I think I am right in saying that it was the toughest half marathon that I’ve ever done. Three days later and my right thigh (my leading leg) is still sore from the descents.

Of course when we got home the day wasn’t over, as we still had to take Nelly out for a walk.

NENDY parkrun

NENDY? What on earth am I talking about now? Let me explain. NENDY is the acronym for Nearest Event Not Done Yet, and the ‘Event’ being parkrun. A couple of months ago I blogged about parkrun extras that were keeping me busy (read about it here).

There is a Chrome or Firefox extension for your parkrun results page with loads more stats, including your NENDY, which in my case was Blackpool parkrun. Closest in a straight line, or as crows fly, although I’ll let you into a secret, crows don’t always fly in a straight line.

I say ‘was’, because last Saturday myself and Nelly took a road trip to Blackpool. Nelly was so excited about running in a new park that even after half a dozen attempts she still wouldn’t look at my phone for a selfie.


It was fairly cold, even with the sun and blue sky. I was wearing my Canalathon t-shirt and even bumped into someone with a Canalathon bobble hat. You can read about Canalathon here and here.

As it was Star Wars day there were also a fair few people in fancy dress, as well as a few other dogs, including a cute little Spaniel called Twiglet and a big old hound called Rufus.

As per parkrun rules for running with a dog we started at the back and gradually made our way past slower runners, although there was one very narrow section. Two laps and plenty of support later we crossed the line in 24th place. We were both happy with that, especially as there were nearly 300 runners.

Blackpool parkrun was a great run, friendly, well marshalled and mostly flat, although I’ve yet to do a parkrun that isn’t friendly and well marshalled.


New NENDY is Clitheroe Castle, a hilly parkrun consisting of five laps. The above map is from a website called ‘tourist tool’, which is well worth a Google.

Also, almost two months after completing my 50th parkrun (read about it here), I am now the owner of my red 50 t-shirt, which will be worn with pride at parkrun this Saturday. I’m not sure where, but not far, so either Morecambe Prom or Lancaster. Possibly see you there.