The Original, and some say ‘best’!

Posted in At the Races on Thu 27 Oct ’11

© somewhere-in-the-between.

Yes, it’s OMM time again. The ‘original’ mountain marathon is literally that, and this weekend’s event hits the highlands of Scotland, for a return to big hills and rugged climbs…

© www.theomm.com

The OMM always produces worthy winners, and has a role call of past winners that includes some of the best mountain runners that the UK has produced. It’s also considered the one to have on your resume of completed events if you are into multi-day, navigation based racing.

Founded 1968 the OMM is the originator of the 2 day mountain marathon type event and is for teams of 2, carrying all clothing, equipment, tent, sleeping bag, food for 36 hours, navigating one’s own route and including an overnight camp. Teams are totally self supporting, no GPS or outside support is allowed and teams NOT arriving at the the overnight camp are assumed to have camped safely.Your team partner is your first source of help and assistance.

© John Brooke / LAMM

The winners at the 2010 LAMM

Last year’s event was won by Andy and Joe Symonds , stealing the win from mountain marathon specialists Jethro Lennox and Steve Birkinshaw, who won in 2009. Jethro and Steve are back for more, and this time round should face more strong opposition as the start list has a number of top-quality pairings in there.

Oli Johnson / Rob Baker, Tom Owens / Oleg Chepelin, Jez Bragg / Matt Giles and Andy Fallas / Sam Hesling to name but a few. For a super extensive preview you could do worse than check out Nic Barber’s blog

Start lists are here and you can follow the event over the weekend via Twitter too…

International XC

Posted in At the Races on Tue 29 Nov ’11

© Daily Nation

Wilson Kiprop – winner at Eldoret XC

The international cross country scene continues to gather pace as we head towards the only major championship this winter in Slovenia. Though many Europe’s top men with be sharpening their spikes in anticipation of December 11, it is East Africa that continues to dominate…

Spain was the place to be on Sunday as Leonard Komon (Kenya) defeated the form-man of winter 2011 so far Kidane Tadese at the 28th ‘Cross Internacional Valle de Llodio’.

Komon is no stranger to the upper echelons of XC after his silver medal performance at the 2008 World Cross, and his finishing speed proved redoubtable over the Eritrean.

© Miguel Alfambra

Leonard Patrick Komon

It was a different story in the women’s race as Italy’s Nadia Ejjafini soundly beat a good quality field. Europeans showed themselves well throughout the top 10, proving that with these athletes (as well as the strong Portuguese team) will prove tough opposition in a few weeks at the Euro Cross.

© Miguel Alfambra

Nadia Ejjafini

Full report on the IAAF here

Tuskys Wareng XC

The annual “Tuskys Wareng“http://blogs.bettor.com/Wilson-Kiprop-and-Emily-Chebet-impress-at-Tuskys-Wareng-Cross-Country-Championship-Athletics-news-a115264 Eldoret XC race was once again graced with stacked feilds in the men’s and women’s races as Wilson Kiprop and Emily Chebet took relatively easy wins. Further reports on the Daily Nation here and IAAF.

© Daily Nation

Jonny caps off a super 2012 at ALS

Posted in At the Races on Tue 01 Jan ’13

© Paul Dobson / fellrunner.net

Jonny leads Tom on the last river crossing

Yesterday saw World Champion and Olympic bronze medalist from 2012, Jonny Brownlee, storm to victory at one of the races of the year, Auld Lang Syne. This one is a sell-out, way in advance, and was packed with international talent in both the men’s and women’s fields…

Fun is the name of the game for most at this end-of-year 6 miler, but for the leading men and ladies it’s deadly serious racing.

© Paul Dobson / fellrunner.net

It has probably been Ali who has won the lion’s share of publicity in Brownlee household this last 12 months. Firstly, with his will he make the Games, won’t he, injury. And then that unforgettable Olympic crown in August. But Jonny has been super-consistent taking the World ITU crown and bronze in London (despite that time penalty!), and to have him on the start-line must have given the likes of Tom and Mark Addison an extra pep in their stride.

In the women’s race the same could have been said for young Annabel Mason. After taking the European Junior MR crown earlier in the summer and most recently a superb 4th at the European XC champs when right at the bottom of the U20 age group, the young Wakefield Harrier is surely one of the UK biggest endurance running prospects.

Lining up with Mason were multiple-champions and internationals galore, Vic Wilkinson, Olivia Walwyn-Bush, Katie Walshaw and Helen Fines, all of whom would be keen to mix-it with the youngster.

The weather conditions were what could loosely be described as atrocious, with wind and lashing rain greeting the 375 odd runners for this excellent Woodentops event in Keighley.

Brownlee was obviously not going to be hanging round in this weather and quickly blasted into the lead in the first half mile, with a group of 6-8 chasing, including Addison’s cousin Mark, Ian Holmes, Adam Peers, Adam Osborne and Will Neill.

© Woodentops

Tom Addison came into ALS buoyant after a good win at Wansfell on the 27th and as they rounded off the last descent and the river crossing, the Helm Hill man was right on the tail of Bingley Harrier Brownlee. However, it was on the last climb to the finish where Jonny did the damage, putting almost 20 seconds into Addison, romping in for the win in 43:10.

Tom Addison finished a great second in 43:28, with these two a good minute ahead of Mark Addison (44:27) in third and almost two minutes up on super-vet Holmes in 4th (45:21).

In the women’s race it was Annabel Mason who upstaged her elders, as she held off a fast-finishing Olivia Walwyn-Bush. Mason had just led Vic Wikinson as they crossed the river for the first time, with Walwyn-Bush and Walshaw thereafter, all of whom were in the top 30 or so overall.

However, by the time they arrived at the finish Mason had worked her way through to an amazing 11th overall, and the ladies win, in 47:58. Walwyn-Bush ran on to take a very good second and 13th overall (48:09), just over 10 seconds back on Mason. With Vic Wilkinson third (49:12), Walshaw 4th (51:35) and Fines in 5th (53:20), it really was a classy showing from some of the UK’s top female mountain runners.

© Woodentops

Jonny and Annabel, crowned at ALS

Results via jpeg are here and some great images as you might expect from the Woodentops gang are here. There are also some excellent river shots courtesy of Paul Dobson online here.

The Mountain Marathon Book

Posted in Rated or Slated by Rene Borg on Thu 27 Oct ’11

© www.trailguides.co.uk

I was lucky enough to recently receive a free copy of the latest offering in the ”Run Off-Road” series by TrailGuides: The Mountain Marathon Book, so let me share my impressions with my fellow mountain runners…

This 224 page tome clearly aims to be the definitive treatise on the topic and I’ll start by ruining the suspense: co-authors Keven Shevels and Stuart Ferguson do a fine job of doing just that. “The Mountain Marathon Book” does more than that and includes excellent advice for anyone contemplating one of the 24-hour challenges (such as the Bob Graham and Wicklow rounds) or any off-road ultra-distance races.

“Simply put, a mountain marathon is a long-distance navigation exercise held over upland and mountainous terrain. Normally held over two days it involves carrying all the equipment and supplies needed to be self-sufficient over the period.” – The Mountain Marathon Book

As the authors point out, mountain marathons are a unique discipline occupying a space somewhere in between fell running, orienteering and ultra-running while having elements of classical outdoor expeditions and thus previous books in the “Run Off-Road” series have covered different angles of the concise information presented here. To their credit TrailGuides have done very well to avoid duplication and produce a book that can both stand alone as well as supplement the earlier publications.

© www.trailguides.co.uk

The book is broken into eight main sections and more than forty-five chapters: “The Basics”, “Equipment”, “Food and Drink”, “Training”, “Pre-Event Preparation”, “The Event”, “After the Event” and “Health and Safety” making it easy to hone in on the area of particular interest to you. My own understanding of mountain marathons is fairly basic so I jumped straight into the introduction to the discipline in the first section.

Here you are introduced to the four main obstacles a competitor will face: weather, terrain, teamwork and navigation before moving on to answer what I imagine will be some of the most pertinent questions for first-time mountain marathoners: the events you can choose from (as it proves there are sixteen events on the British and Irish isles), the differences in courses and levels and the rules and kit requirements.

© Jon Brooke / www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk

The book utilises photos and graphics extremely well, my favourites being the drawing of how to properly organise and pack your bag and the sketch of typical terrain run. The lengthy “Training” chapter manages to cover all important aspects of training (such as endurance, uphill, strength and flexibility) and delivers specialised training schedules for the event separated into the three levels of experience corresponding to the difficulty classes of the mountain marathon courses: A, B and C.

There are some hefty long runs in store late in the programme but the training rationale is always well explained and the experience of the authors shines through. The schedules are 30 weeks long and are essentially a perfect adaptation of Arthur Lydiard’s training principles to this specialised discipline. Any off-road runner wondering how to adapt the philosophy of the great coach to their sport will find themselves inspired here. I did.

© Jon Brooke / www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk

I finished reading with the feeling that very little I needed to know had been left out completely and for the few topics that received shorter shrift, such as navigation, the reader was referred to the excellent sister volumes such as “Navigation for Off-Road Runners”.

The writing style of the TrailGuides authorship always sat well with me: the explanations are clear, the tone one of common-sense, a degree in physiology or years of immersion in the peculiar linguistics of off-road running is not necessary.

So if you are preparing for a mountain marathon or if you always wondered what exactly the effects of running with a heavy backpack are, or how to deal with ticks and midges, then consider investing the RRP of £19.99 in “The Mountain Marathon Book”. I have followed TrailGuides since they published their first “Run Off-Road” book and the small publishing company seems to be improving with every new publication. I will look forward to the next book in the series titled

SRP: £20

UKA name Euro Cross team

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 29 Nov ’11

© velenje2011.si

The GB & NI team for the forthcoming European Cross Country Championships on December 11 has been named. There aren’t too many surprises in there following last weekend’s trials though the junior and U23 women’s squads looking particularly strong…

Full announcement over at the UKA site

© velenje2011.si

AVIVA GB & NI TEAM

SENIOR MEN

Andy Baddeley (Andy Hobdell) – Harrow; Mark Draper (Andy Hobdell) – Bedford & County; Ryan McLeod (John Nuttall) – Tipton Harriers; Frank Tickner (Self) – Wells AC; Andy Vernon (Nic Bideau) – Aldershot, Farnham and District; James Walsh (Mike Baxter) – Leeds City

SENIOR WOMEN

Elle Baker (Dave Turnbull) – Stockport; Julia Bleasdale (Nic Bideau) – Hillingdon; Hatti Dean (Bud Baldaro) – Hallamshire Harriers; Freya Murray (Steve Jones) – Edinburgh AC; Gemma Steel (John Nuttall) – Charnwood AC; Emily Wicks (Keith Donkin) – AFD

UNDER-23 MEN

Philip Berntsen (Keith Anderson) – Winchester; Matthew Gillespie (Amanda Gillespie) – Shettleston; Mitch Goose (Tim/Pauline Ash) – City of Norwich; Matthew Graham (Andrew Craycraft) – Kirkintilloch; Derek Hawkins (Lawrie Spence) – Kilbarchan AC; James Wilkinson (Phil Townsend) – Leeds City AC

UNDER-23 WOMEN

Lauren Howarth (Bud Baldaro) – Leigh; Emma Pallant (Mick Woods) – AFD; Lily Partridge (Self) – AFD; Naomi Taschimowitz (Charlotte Fisher) – Taunton; Stephanie Twell (Mick Woods) – AFD; Hannah Walker (Bud Baldaro) – Birchfield

JUNIOR MEN

Kieran Clements (Steve Benson) – Ipswich; Niall Fleming (Mick Woods) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Richard Goodman (Geoff Williams) – Shaftesbury Barnet; Jack Goodwin (Simon Goodwin) – Bedford & County; Jonny Hay (Mick Woods) – AFD; Mark Shaw (Steve Shaw) – New Marske

JUNIOR WOMEN

Beth Carter (Mick Woods) – AFD; Emelia Gorecka (Mick Woods) – AFD; Annabel Gummow (Chris Wooldridge) – Bristol & West; Katie Holt (Alan Morris) – Sale Harriers Manchester; Gemma Kersey (Eamonn Martin) – Basildon; Laura Muir (Alan Mackintosh) – Dundee Hawkhill

The Big Interview: Andy Symonds

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Thu 03 Jan ’13

© Robert Goin

He is one of the nicest men in trail running, he is British, and has one of those enviable positions as a runner who has the respect of the world’s mountain, trail and fell running community having performed at the highest level on all three surfaces…

After moving to France with his family a couple of years back Andy Symonds had been amongst the UK’s best fell runners, won the Trans Alpine Run with Tom Owens a couple of times and shown signs of ultra-trail potential with a great second place at the Cavalls del Vent race behind Miguel Heras.

He now runs for the Salomon Trail Team France, and has a big impact on the French and world trail scene in the last 18 months, fulfilling much of that ‘potential’ on some of the world’s biggest trail and mountain events in 2011/12.

Here he talks la vie, racing and thoughts on the future – and how vin rouge has (almost) taken the place of the pint in his new-found continental family lifestyle!

———————————————

MST: You and your family now seem to be pretty happy residing in the south of France, no doubt you have obviously seen a few lifestyle changes since your move over there?

AS: Oui! – Just a few lifestyle changes! Where we lived before had a lot going for it, but the move over here has had positive impacts on so many fronts. The big overriding deal though has got to be have been the change in climate. We no longer spend half an hour dressing a child to go outside, followed by another half an hour cleaning up mud when we get back. My running kit, shoes and bikes just don’t get dirty anymore, just sweaty!

© Robert Goin

Andy on the trail with little Elliot

It’s a simple thing really, the weather, but it doesn’t half have an impact on your life, if you like the outdoors. Personally, sunshine makes me smile more! Under a blue ski, daily life is very easy and generally very enjoyable. We live in a place that many choose as a destination for their vacations, and sitting outside on the patio, at ten o’clock at night, with a glass of local vin rouge to hand, well, it means that we often feel like long-term tourists really! That said, I do miss the British beer and a good pub pie and chips with mushy peas!

MST: In terms of your racing (and training) we have seen you move gradually over to the longer races – specifically ultra trail – in France, was this a considered choice over some of the shorter more technical mountain races or enforced in by the environment and racing culture?

AS: The answer is a bit of both. At the end of the day fell running as we know it simply isn’t a French sport. It’s not on the menu of options. The concept of running straight up and down a bunch of random hills with map, compass and whistle stuffed into a bumbag leaves most French runners mumbling “errr, ben, bof, oh la la, quelle crazy idea you British people!”. Instead, le menu du jour on the off-road running front is what I’d define as pure trail running.

© Robert Goin

Andy Symonds – majestic on Ventoux

And it’s not because the French inherently having anything against the concept of fell running, no, it’s largely due to the terrain to hand, the abundance of forestry and the lack any right to roam laws. In fact most land in France is privately owned and you can’t just run across it willy nilly, and even if you could, in most instances the underfoot terrain or vegetation would pretty quickly put an end to your ideas of unruly exploration. No, instead you have a vast network of paths and tracks, absolutely all over the place.

Thus, what the French are into is mid to long distance trail races. Often pretty undulating, but generally fairly quick and more often than not quite long. So, in part because I wanted to integrate into the French running world, and in part because there aren’t too many other alternatives, once I’d crossed that channel I fully embraced trail running, French-style.

MST: Give us a flavour of a typical week in terms of training out there.

AS: My training very much fits around the rest of our lifestyle. We now have two young kids (1 and 3), so I never run in the evening anymore. I’ve also stopped doing double-session training days, preferring to get one decent run in rather than two shorter ones.

Less junk perhaps. Generally I try and get my sport done in the

Tower runners hit Ho Chi Minh City

Posted in At the Races on Thu 27 Oct ’11

© www.vietnamrun.com

On Sunday 30th October 2011, the first ever vertical run in Vietnam will be held at the Bitexco Financial Tower, where over 500 participants have registered to conquer the highest skyscraper in Ho Chi Minh City…

Recently named as one of the world’s top 20 most iconic skyscrapers by CNNGo, participants will climb up a total of 1,002 steps to a height of 178 metres leading to the tower’s observation desk on the 49th floor, where they will be rewarded with spectacular views of Ho Chi Minh City’s skyline and the Saigon River.

© www.vietnamrun.com

Vietnam’s first vertical run has been selected as a trial race for the 2011 Vertical World Circuit (VWC), where the top runners will be vying for a total cash prize of US$5,000 where the 1st prize male and female winners will each receive of US$1,500 and gain crucial points to be declared the world champion at the end of the year.

The inaugural event will feature a mix of locals and foreigners from 24 countries around the world, hailing from as far away as the United Kingdom and Canada.

Amongst the elite athletes, reigning male and female vertical world champions Thomas Dold of Germany and Melissa Moon of New Zealand will be in Vietnam for the first time in a bid to defend their world titles.

© Roger Schorries

Thomas Dold

Dold has won 27 straight stair races, including the Empire State Building Run-Up, which he has won six times. New Zealander Melissa Moon, also a two time world mountain running champion, won the famed race in New York City last year on her first try.

“We are proud of having the world’s best stair runners participating at the inaugural Bitexco Vertical Run. This is a special occasion that marks the building having just been completed and inaugurated a year ago in October 2010,” said Mr. Brad Gee, Property Director of the Bitexco Financial Tower. “We look forward to hosting them and the hundreds of participants from all over the world who have signed up for the challenge”

© www.vietnamrun.com

The Bitexco tower in Vietnam

Ayalew and Alemu show Ethiopian uphill prowess at Obudu

Posted in At the Races on Wed 30 Nov ’11

© AMN Images

Alemu – a new Obudu record

The 7th running of the Obudu International Mountain Race on Monday showed that east African runners have just as much scope on the hills as they do on the flat, as Ethiopia dominated with men’s winner Mesfin Alemu setting a new course record…

Of course, the Obudu event is more akin to a road-mountain race (such as the Mt. Washington race in the US) as the 11km race climbs to an altitude of 1,765m above sea level, with 22 hair-pin bends – a la Alp d’Huez!

© Obudu Mountain Race

Also one of the big attractions comes in the prize money at Obudu, a whopping $50,000 for the winners, and with a total prize fund of nearly $200,000 this race will remain high on the radar of the world’s top athletes.

Ethiopian Mesfin Hunegnaew Alemu set a new men’s record of 41:50, easily beating compatriot Atsedy Tsegay. In the women’s event 18-year old Genet Ayalew (48:45) also won comfortably ahead of Ayelewu Wuda Yimer. 2009 World MR champ Geoffrey Kusoru took the African MR title after finishing seventh.

Results should appear here when ready…

© Obudu Mountain Race

Genet Ayalew – at just 18 a big prospect

“Mountain Trail Running at it’s best”

Posted in At the Races on Mon 07 Jan ’13

© www.highterrainevents.co.uk

High Terrain Events have announced details of the Scafell Pike Trail Marathon, a brand new event for 2013 incorporating England’s highest peak. The date is scheduled for Sunday 19th May and is to be held in conjunction with Keswick Mountain Festival.

Starting on the shores of Derwentwater, the course takes runners on a 42km journey into the heart of the Borrowdale valley, through some stunning mountain scenery, whilst taking in a total ascent of 1,800m.

© www.highterrainevents.co.uk

From Seathwaite the route heads to Styhead Pass and then across the spectacular Corridor Route to Scafell Pike. The 21k half marathon mark is actually at the summit of Scafell Pike and there will be a special prize for the fastest runner to this point.

From the summit the route continues across some superb high level mountain terrain to Esk Hause, then descending past Sprinkling Tarn before returning back to Seathwaite via Styhead.

The route then follows the valley floor to the traditional lakeland village of Rosthwaite, then onto a steady climb to the secluded hamlet of Watendlath. The trail then continues along the beautiful Watendlath valley before descending to the iconic Ashness Bridge, then returning to the lakeshore past Friars Crag and into the finish at Keswick.

© www.highterrainevents.co.uk

Enthused by the prospect of such an event, Salomon International Mountain Runner Ricky Lightfoot decided to run the route in tough winter conditions back in December. This involved tackling iced covered trails and traversing the summit of Scafell Pike in knee deep powder snow:

“I love the idea of a marathon trail race going over Scafell Pike. This really is mountain trail running at it’s best, the variety of terrain throughout the whole route is superb. This looks like this will be a classic race and is definitely on my calendar”, says Ricky Lightfoot.

However, you do not have to be super fast or an elite athlete to enter. This will be an awesome challenge if you’re looking to push yourself that bit further! Although the route follows the main trails, the ability to navigate the mountain section is essential.

© www.highterrainevents.co.uk

In view of this, High Terrain Events will be holding a recce weekend for this event. This is provisionally planned for the weekend of 23/24 March. The plan will be to run from Keswick on the Saturday and cover the section based around Derwentwater, then on the Sunday cover the Scafell section which will start and finish at Rosthwaite.

The event will form part of the 2013 Salomon UK Trail Tour. There are also 21k and 13k routes on offer so there is something for everyone. Full details on the Scafell Pike Trail Marathon now online…

This weekend…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 28 Oct ’11

© www.mynydd-du.org.uk

Sugar Loaf record holder Matt Collins

So, outside of The OMM things are starting to wind down a little on the fells, hill and mountains of the UK. As you’d expect at this time of the year too, the races tend to be shorter, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some quality races on this weekend…

Apart from playing host to The OMM, the Scots also have Meall a`Bhuachaille to get the blood pumping, with a new 13km route in the Glenmore region. In the Brecon Beacons the famous Sugar Loaf is on offer, promoted by the Mynydd Du club, the 5 miler with around 1500ft of gain starts from the Crown pub in Pantygelli, nr. Abergavenny, with entries on the day.

© www.wharfedaleharriers.org.uk

Great Whernside 2009

Up in the Yorkshire Dales it’s time for the blast up the classic Great Whernside fell, and on Sunday there are a couple of 8 milers in the form of the Three Tops and the Bronte Way for fell runners to get their teeth into.

More info online from respective Welsh, English and Scottish associations here WFRA, FRA and the SHR sites. As usual take care, take the right kit for the time of year and enjoy!

Leadville 100 by film

Posted in Through the Lens on Fri 07 Oct ’11

© www.salomonrunning.com

Ryan Sandes’ epic efforts, insight from Leadville legends and a chronology of the historic day from Sandes’ point of view. Great cinematography goes some way to complimenting the utter beauty of the high Rockies…

Watch the film here

© www.salomonrunning.com

‘Team Snowdon’ excel in Italy

Posted in At the Races on Mon 24 Oct ’11

© Andi Jones

The trio of Andi Jones, Robbie Simpson and Murray Strain in the men’s relay race, and Pippa Maddams and Christina Rankin in the women’s individual race put on great performances over the weekend at the 52nd Trofeo Vanoni in Morbegno,,,

© www.gscsimorbegno.org

All five were ‘representatives’ of the International Snowdon Race, after finishing the respective top 3’s in July.

In the 5km women’s race Pippa Maddams ran superbly for third, after reportedly leading at the top of the climb. At barely 20 mins long, with a fast start town centre start, the race didn’t play to the 3-time British Fell Champs’ strengths. However finishing just 15 seconds down on Italy’s Alice Gaggi will no doubt be a pleasing result for the Cumbrian.

© www.sportdimontagna.com

Pippa leads early on

Young Scot Christina Rankin also had a strong race, running into 11th position just over 30 seconds back on Maddams and second in the U23 classification.

Women’s top 5
1 GAGGI ALICE – G.S. VALGEROLA – 0.22.37
2 SKALNIKOVA EVAREPUBBLICA CECA – 0.22.50
3 MADDAMS PIPPAGRAN BRETAGNASNOWDON RACE T 0.22.52
4 KOSOVELJ MATEJASLOVENIA – 0.22.54
5 WOSZCZEK DANUTAPOLONIA – 0.23.11

© Andi Jones

Pippa (left) with Christina in the Italian sunshine

In the men’s race the Jones, Strain and Simpson ran a superb race. With all three running times that were inside the 13 fastest of the day, it was left for Simpson to anchor the squad to silver, coming through from fourth at the top of the final climb.

Similar to the women’s event the course starts and finishes in the picturesque Italian town of Morbegno, and with top road man and 5 time winner of Snowdon, Andi Jones on leg one the team were guaranteed a fast start.

Jones’ time was good enough for 13th best on the day and he handed over to Murray Strain, who stormed around the 7.25 km course in 30.56 for 9th best time, putting Simpson right in contention on the final leg. The Deeside AC youngster didn’t disappoint, showing just why he is considered one of the brightest mountain running prospects in Europe with an excellent 30.53, to secure the silver for the boys in black and second fastest U23 on the day.

© Andi Jones

Robbie on the Morbegno slopes

Such was the strength of competition at this classic event this year that 2010 winners France – including Julian Rancon – had to settle for 6th, over two minutes down on winner GS Orobie.

A travelling Welsh team comprising youngster Mike Kallenburg, Filipe Jones and Richard Phillips finished a highly creditable 14th.

Top 3 teams
1 GS OROBIE (Italy) 1.32.23
2 GRAN BRETAGNASNOWDON RACE TEAM 1.33.00
3 LA RECASTELLO RADICI – 1.33.10

Clayton looks for strong GP finish at Smarna Gora…

Posted in At the Races on Thu 29 Sep ’11

© David Brett

Emma Clayton

The final curtain drops on the WMRA GP season this weekend as athletes from all over the world travel to the classic Smarna Gora. As ever this tough race attracts plenty of top Brits and Emma Clayton looks to cap off what has been a great season for the Bingley Harrier…

Writing for the WMRA Tomo Sarf states:

In the autumn and fall season of 1979 running enthusiasts from Ljubljana decided to organize a race to the one of the most popular mountains in Slovenia at Smarna Gora.
Nobody envisaged that it would become such a massive event with worldwide popularity that is again the final leg of the WMRA Grand Prix for 2011.

The WMRA Grand Prix Champions of the world will again be crowned on Saturday 1. October at this magnificent mountain peak.

The current men’s standings in the Grand Prix series show Turkey’s Ahmet Arslan on top, and the 2010 Smarna Gora winner will just need to figure strongly in the first few places to ensure he picks up the GP crown for 2011, repeating his feat of 2010.

Others to look out for are former race winner Robert Krupicka (CZE), David Schneider (SUI) and top Brits Orlando Edwards and Adam Osborne.

© Ales Fevzer / WMRA

Ahmet Arslan takes Smarna Gora 2010

Having missed the Commonwealth mountain race last weekend the GP series has obviously been a big target for Emma, and she will look to figure prominently in what looks like a strong women’s field. Currently sitting in second place overall in the Series, Clayton should be ready for the tough and technical 10km route which will suit her skills honed on the fells of the UK.

Other leading contenders will be 4th and 6th place finishers at the recent world champs Pavla Schorna (CZE) and Mateja Kosovelj (SLO). After a win at the Mayrhofen race, 2011 Euro silver medalist Antonela Confortola-Wyatt (ITA) will look to improve her third place overall in the series standings too.

© www.skaala.no

Another win for Antonella…

Current GP standings are here

This weekend…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 07 Oct ’11

© Bill Smith

A young Rob Jebb at Langdale

The gales are ripping in, and the temperature has dropped by about 10 degrees – but we dont care. The Langdale Horseshoe is our pick of the bunch this weekend in England, 14 classic miles for a full field of 500 entrants including Ben ‘The Noor’ Abdelnoor, Rhys Findlay-Robinson, Carl Bell, Nicky Spinks and Natalie White…

Were going for the classic Breidden Hills in Wales and up in Scotland our choice is the super-tough Pentland Skyline. Lots of other lovely races going ahead and as usual all of the info on the above, plus much more on the English, Welsh and Scots race scenes, online at the WFRA, FRA and the SHR sites.

Whatever you’re up to, enjoy, and pack a mac!

© Al Tye / fell running pictures

Tim Davies at Breidden Hills

Colquhoun impresses at Ultima Frontera

Posted in At the Races on Tue 25 Oct ’11

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Colquhoun at the recent Commonwealth champs

A highly successful, inaugural Ultima Frontera went ahead this weekend, and despite the first rain for almost 4 months in the Poniente de Granada region Spain’s Juan Ruiz and Scotland’s Lucy Colquhoun were impressive winners

© www.ultimafrontera160.com

Describing Colquhoun’s efforts Scottish Athletics reports, “Despite her extensive ultra experience over the last few years, it was the first time the Scottish and GB international had covered 100 miles in an event, joining the mythical “centurion club”.

Event director Paul Bateson takes it up, stating:

“It only went and rained, the first time for over 4 months!! But at least it stayed hot and sunny for the 2 days before when we had all the route to mark.

It was dry and grey for the Saturday start and reasonably good until late eve. Sunday was grey, some drizzle but in the afternoon the sun came out so at least the runners had a pleasant end.

I think a 15hrs 43min (Juan Carlos Cuellar Ruiz) winning time is pretty good for what a few said was a bit like a Western States, so at least I know the times to expect in next years races. It also means, I think, that anyone looking for a tough but fast 100miler is going to consider this event. Lucy had a great run, first woman and a brilliant 3rd overall.

© Facebook

Paul Bateson

We also got some great support from UKGear once again. Their shoes are very impressive and with Chris Goodacre winning the 50km race in the PT1000 nc’s that was a great advocation. They definately last well over 1000miles!

Overall I am very pleased with the event and can only urge UK ultra trail runners to come out and have a go at this next year, it has to be one of the most beautiful anywhere!

Full results are here

Relay season…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 30 Sep ’11

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

The first of the Autumn’s big fell relays takes place this Sunday, as fell big guns will look to sharpen their team skills ahead of the UKA champs at the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay running from Brotherswater near Patterdale in the Lakes

There is some important information on the FRA home page too, if you are looking to travel up to this one.

Last year saw Borrowdale romp away with the win, ahead of the Pudsey boys. These two and Bingley will be out to test their fitness and team line-ups ahead of the British champs (which take place in a couple weeks on Bingley home turf), as they all try to wrestle the crown from the grip of top Scots Shettleston.

© John Duffy

The victorious Shettleston boys

Kielder Marathon is Sunday…

Posted in At the Races on Sat 08 Oct ’11

© www.visitkielder.com

Deemed ‘Britain’s most beautiful’ the Salomon Kielder Marathon takes place tomorrow. Launched in February the 2nd edition of the event is the brainchild of former Olympic great Steve Cram and event organiser Dave Roberts…

© North News & Pictures Ltd

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was voted the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, therefore an apt home for such a great event.

© www.journallive.co.uk

They say that the second album is always the hardest for a musician, so for Crammy and the team it will be interesting then to see if they can improve on the highly successful first event, which saw Lizzy Hawker win the women’s race.

2010 saw the overall win for Zak Kihara in a modest 2:29:10, showing that not is the event beautiful but also tough, and this year sees local interest in the men’s elite race in the form of fell runner Ricky Lightfoot, who continues his return to form after early season injury. Racing gets underway at 10.15am on Sunday (9th), with a field of over 3000 runners taking to the trails – look out for a report, results and images via MST on Monday.

Reactions so far
  1. Olaf
    Oct 8, 10:03 AM

    You’ve sold it to me! Shame I can’t be there this year, but definitely planning on participating n 2012! Can we have 12 degrees, light breeze and sun with some minor clouds, please?

  2. Martin Stacy
    Oct 8, 02:58 PM

    I’m going for this in 2012 too. Ditto on the weather please.

  3. Matt Brown
    Oct 9, 07:51 PM

    You’ll be lucky to get a day when the wind isn’t blowing in Kielder. Perfect for sailing, not so good for running. I spent most weekend for 3 years sailing there, and for maybe 3 days we had no wind and some sun. Worth spending a weekend there for the marathon and checking out the bike trails or forest tracks up and away from the reservoir – endless, quiet and good scenery.

  4. Cottages Scotland
    Nov 15, 12:42 PM

    I have heard a lot about Kielder Water & the Forest Park, which has largest man made lake in northern Europe. I wish I had taken part in that marathon! That would have been good fun.

Comments closed

XC relays

Posted in At the Races on Tue 25 Oct ’11

© Bryan Mills

Aaron Scott anchors Notts to the win

Along with the Scottish championships at the weekend there were also relay champs in the Midlands, with Notts AC taking a dramatic win. Up in Scotland Inverclyde AC also caused a bit of an upset with Craig Ruddy anchoring a great win…

Bryan Mills reports from the Midlands:

At the Midland Cross Country Relay Championships it was first scalp of the winter season to the Notts AC quartet of Colin Palmer, John Muddeman, Martin Whitehouse and Aaron Scott.

Early on into the race the title appeared to be going to Coventry Godiva, but on leg 4 things changed around dramatically leaving a straight run off between Notts AC and Tipton’s Ross Jones. Jones took the advantage early on into the 2 lap 6K leg of Aston University Playing Fields, but an error by Jones, taking him off course put Aaron Scott back into contention and from there he pushed ahead to win by 6 seconds, with Coventry Godiva in third.

In the ladies race over 3 legs Birchfield were clear winners by over 3 minutes ahead of Rugby & Northampton with Charnwood in third.

Some great images now on Bryan’s facebook page, with full results here

© www.scottishathletics.org.uk

The (Scottish) National Cross Country Relay Championships returned to Cumbernauld on Saturday. The forecast was for heavy rain; however the races took place in dry but windy conditions.

Full report on Scottish Athletics here and results here

This weekend

Posted in At the Races on Fri 30 Sep ’11

© run247.com

After a frantic few weeks of World, Commonwealth Championship and international racing, focus turns to the fell relay season as the Ian Hodgson tops the bill for many a UK fell runner this weekend…

The weather looks pretty decent for much of England and Wales, and the Welsh hills play host to their fair share of races with the Fan Fawr, classic Arenig Fawr and tough, long Pumlumon Challenge in mid Wales.

© lakelandtrails.org

Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the excellent Coniston Trail race up in the Lake District, part of the Lakeland Trails series, which has again see a hugely successful year and record numbers taking to the trails of northern England.

Other highlights include the 20 mile beast that is the Hope Moors and Tors race in the Peak District, and the excellent Ben Venue race up in the Trossachs.

As usual all of the info on the above, plus much more on the English, Welsh and Scots race scenes, online at the WFRA, FRA and the SHR sites.

Whatever you’re up to, enjoy!

© Chris Upson / Scottish Hill Racing

Matt Williamson, Ben Venue winner in 2009

Ricky makes light work of Kielder

Posted in At the Races on Tue 11 Oct ’11

© Kielder Marathon

After a difficult 2011 Ricky Lightfoot turned in one of the performances of his career to win the Salomon Kielder Marathon in Northumberland on Sunday in challenging weather conditions…

In a year which has seen Ricky struggle with injury, the 27-year old’s season highlights had been a third place finish in the Olympus Marathon and a recent third position overall with partner Tom Owens at the Trans Rockies Race. They say that form is temporary and class is permanent however, and this was perfectly illustrated as he romped to a 10 minute win over GB international ultra runner Marcus Scotney.

© Kielder Marathon

Ricky’s winning time of 2:35:16 for the full marathon distance can be put into perspective when compared to the course record of 2.29.10 held by Zak Kihara from Kenya – who himself is a 2.12 ‘city marathon’ runner.

The women’s race was won by Jane Moody, coming through strongly at 22 miles to overtake long-time leader Lucie Custance.

Following his imperious performance Ricky commented:

“That was a lot tougher than I expected. Looking at the course profile beforehand I expected it to be rolling, but there we climbs where I really had to dig in. It’s true that I am used to a lot more ascent and descent in races, and I am used to the technical aspects, but this was my first ‘marathon’ so it was unknown territory for me really.”

Speaking about his front-running tactics, he said:

“The course was really enjoyable, and even though it was a bit wet out there it wasn’t cold, so I could really get into my running early. I wanted to get a good strong pace going from the off and after about 50 metres realised that no one was really going to come with me, so it was head down and see what happens from there on!”

© Kielder Marathon

Ricky leads em out

Head down it certainly was for the Cumbrian firefighter, as he simply ran away from the field. Going through halfway in 1.15.05 Ricky then settled in the tougher second half of the course and even had time to enjoy the beauty of his surroundings, concluding:

“It was misty and damp, but I still had time to enjoy the course. I am sure that on a dry and clear day this must be one of the most beautiful marathons anywhere in the world, and even though it was wet out there the support was great out on the course, especially in the Dam area, where you really needed it in the last third of the race”.

Full results can be found at the Winning Time website.

After a short break Ricky now heads to Malaysia for the Skyrunner Super Cup 2011 and the Kinabalu Climbathon race, on the 23rd of October.

© Kielder Marathon

Ricky Lightfoot winner of the 2011 Kielder Marathon

Reactions so far
  1. Jason Kehoe
    Oct 12, 04:35 PM

    Wow! Original 3rd placed runner Rob Sloan caught the bus to the finish and was DQ’d when challenged on it…

    http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/marathon-runner-stripped-of-medal-after-he-caught-a-bus-to-the-finish-line-2903015.html