He’s done it!

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Sat 02 Feb ’13

© Damiano Levati

Jez ‘crosses the line’

After 53 days 9 hours and 1 minute, UK ultra runner Jez Bragg has arrived in Bluff, New Zealand, to complete the amazing trail of Te Araroa, which crosses from the north to the south island and covers over 3000km…

Followers of MST will have been party to regular updates from Jez, and of course via his great coverage on Twitter. Time was that news would have filtered through that he had done it a few days after it had happened, not any more, as within seconds of him arriving in Bluff images and quotes were online – the power of social media has been there for all to see on this particular journey.

Writing on his blog for the last time on a running day, he states:

There were bystanders around too, probably wondering what the heck was going on, but none of us gave a hoot. It was raw emotion for me; all my heart and soul, sweat and tears, had been put into realizing this moment, and it almost happened too suddenly to take it all in.

My body is also going to want to know what the heck is going on when I don’t run tomorrow; so I think some wind down jogging/ walking is going to be important.

From all at Mud, Sweat and Tears a heartfelt congratulations Jez, we look forward to the book!

© Damiano Levati

Some of the Te Araroa vistas have been stunning

Reactions so far
  1. Tony Mollica
    Feb 3, 01:54 AM

    What a fantastic adventure! Congratulations to Jez and his crew on a job well done. What trail runner wouldn’t want to participate in an adventure this grand?

Extreme Energy runners gets ready for a pilgrimage…

Posted in At the Races on Mon 28 Jan ’13

© www.100marathonclub.org.uk

Extreme Energy’s 2013 event season begins next weekend (2/3 February) with The Pilgrim Challenge. At 32 miles a day over two days, from Farnham to Merstham and back, the Pilgrim is not for the faint-hearted – whatever the weather.

Full Extreme Energy press release

In 2012 heavy snow added an extra dimension to the weekend. If recent conditions are anything to go by, the 2013 event could be just as chilly, and participants are reminded not to forget their thermals! This year’s two-day ultra is sold out, with 217 runners and walkers aged from 17 to 68 travelling from as far afield as India, Belgium and Norway.

Like all Extreme Energy ultras, the Pilgrim Challenge is all-inclusive – Extreme Energy will be feeding, watering and supporting all 217 Pilgrims from the moment they arrive at the station in Farnham, with minibus transfers to and from the race; overnight accommodation; square meals in the evening and morning and all the checkpoint goodies they need to fuel up on the trail.

© Extreme Energy

For the first time this year, Extreme Energy are providing inspirational evening entertainment for runners in the form of a presentation and Q&A session from seasoned ultrarunner, Ironman triathlete and extreme running coach Andy Mouncey who’ll be sharing his top tips on ‘Ultra Running Made Ultra Simple’. Expert presentations are a new feature of Extreme Energy’s 2-day race packages for 2013, and details of future speakers will be provided on the Extreme Energy website.

Quotes from last year’s Pilgrims:

“Everything from the runners point of view was fantastic plus the fact that you were able to continue with day 2 under such Arctic conditions. The support crew did a marvellous job looking after us all, they were always smilie and happy at CPs and the finish line, gave loads of encouragement so couldn’t have wished for a better, I even got several hugs at some of the CPs which warmed me up and made my day!” Mimi Anderson

“Many thanks for a superbly run, well-fed and very enjoyable Pilgrim at the weekend. My first proper Ultra and great experience. We met 3 guys also doing the MDS at Easter and picked the brains of a few old-timers.” Patrick Gillespie

Further information via the Extreme Energy website

It’ll be true grit at 2013 Accelerate fell series

Posted in At the Races on Sun 20 Jan ’13

© www.gritstoneseries.co.uk

Sheffield retail specialists Accelerate know a thing or two about event organisation too. The successful Gritstone series returns for 2013 with 8 races, and includes a 4-race series for juniors too – the Gritty Series!

With a New event included in the series, it is now five events to score from eight.. The Series kicks off in March with Wolf’s Pit Fell Race, including the juniors with the Gritty Series. Inov-8 will once again be supporting the Series prize list. There will be a new website at the end of January 2013 www.gritstoneseries.co.uk and you can follow the chat on Twitter using #GSSeries. Let the running begin…

Get involved here.

© www.gritstoneseries.co.uk

Weekend racing?

Posted in At the Races on Fri 18 Jan ’13

© www.endurancelife.com

Yes, we’d be surprised if all of the planned racing this weekend goes ahead. For a start the Endurance Life CTS race on Anglesey has fallen by the wayside, due to rare blizzard and drifting snow conditions on the North Wales island…

Other races in the ‘snow path’ are the Mercia Hill Trial which at this stage looks to be on, the classic 32nd running of the Box Hill race which again has been posted as ‘on’ at 5pm this evening (Friday) for the Saturday AM race. Tomorrow also sees the Feel the Burns Hill race in Scotland.

Sunday sees the 30th running of the Woodentops promotion, the Soreen Stanbury Splash, with the website stating:

Tom Adams winner of The Stoop race will be defending his Soreen Malt Loaf run title and it could be a Tom – Tom battle. Tom Addison second at the ALS to Jonny Brownlee will be looking to improve on his fifth place of last year.

Sixteen times winner Ian Holmes is away skiing, ha, ha should have stayed at home! Does this open the door for another V40 to do well? Jo Buckley will be looking to make it a hat trick of wins, but she may not have it all her own way as Stoop winner Helen Fines is planning to race.

More info here.

© David S Brett

Big guns amass early on in the 2011 Stanbury Splash

Andy puts his back into it at The Spine

Posted in The Sweat on Thu 17 Jan ’13

© Andy Beanland

Andy Mouncey at the 2013 Spine race

Ultra-runner and coach Andy Mouncey has posted a mighty fine blog on his experience at The Spine this year, and though the Lancaster man didn’t complete his designated distance of the full 270 miles his 105-mile effort in trying conditions was a job well done…

So of course the fact that Checkpoint 2, at 105 miles, was a 40 minute drive away from home helped. Would I have continued if that wasn’t the case? We’ll never know. What I do know is that as well as some long overdue internal re-modelling, I took a bundle of personal firsts away with me.

Read Andy’s full re-count here and as the race continues, follow events at The Spine via:

The Spine website updates page

© www.thespinerace.com

Roes looks ahead on iRunFar

Posted in The Sweat on Wed 16 Jan ’13

© blog.coachingendurance.com

Geoff Roes

As many a long-distance runner will tell you obtaining that balance of good health, fitness, motivation and happiness when out there can be a rare occurrence – and often those ‘planets’ never align at the same time…

Geoff Roes, it can be said, has had his fair share of difficulties in maintaining these areas of his running in the 12-18 months, so much so that the US ultra-trail runner has only managed “half a dozen runs in the last five months”.

An excellent piece on iRunFar explains that life doesn’t always play out as we wish, but testimony to the Montrail runner’s resilience is that despite his health setbacks Geoff is still optimistic about the year ahead and says that:

Right now I don’t know when I will make a serious attempt to start back on this path, but based on the improvements in my health in the past month it will quite likely be sometime in the next few months.

Read the full article here

© Luis Escobar

Geoff leads Tony Krupicka on his way to victory at the WS100 2010

Elite ranking announced by ISF

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 16 Jan ’13

© www.salomonrunning.com

Tom Owens on the Zegama climbs

The International Skyrunning Federation has laid-out an elite ranking system to “create a basis for 2013 for the Sky, Ultra and Vertical Kilometer® distances, a first list of élite athletes… based on an analysis of the results of the most significant races in 2012”…

From 2013 an exclusive algorithm will also be applied. The 2013 ranking will be based on 50 selected races (20 Sky, 20 Ultra, 10 VK), with the aim of reaching 100 races in 2014.

Full story and links to the ranking systems and athletes who feature are online at the ISF here

© www.skyrunning.com

Johnson and Paris dominate at the Trigger

Posted in At the Races on Tue 15 Jan ’13

© Andrew Heading

There were new records by about 5 minutes (Oli Johnson) and almost half an hour (Jasmin Paris) at the excellent Marsden to Edale Trigger fell race on Sunday, in crisp Peak District conditions…

© Andrew Heading

RaceKit posted after the event:

STUNNING weather for the second annual Trigger race… 20+ miles from Marsden to Edale across typically ‘challenging’ Peak District terrain. Overall winner (again) was international Oli Johnson in 3:08 – with a stunning SIXTH place overall not surprisingly earning Jasmin Paris the ladies’ trophy.

© Andrew Heading

Jasmin Paris at the Trigger fell race

A total of 176 runners took part in the Racekit-sponsored event, which guarantees all proceeds to benefit Mountain Rescue. Last year’s race raised £2,500-plus – we’ll announce the 2013 total here when race organiser Nicky Spinks has done all her sums!

Results on the FRA here, with some superb images by top running photoman Andrew Heading here, and video from ‘richarda09’ here

© Andrew Heading
© Andrew Heading

Marmot Dark Mountains™ venue announced

Posted in At the Races on Mon 14 Jan ’13

© www.dark-mountains.com

The venue for the inaugural Marmot Dark Mountains™ – the event which takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a new, darker twist – has just been announced as the spectacular Muncaster Castle in the southwest Lake District…

This historic ‘haunted’ castle has been the residence of the Pennington Family since 1208 and they have kindly given permission for the event to use this fantastic venue, which is otherwise closed to the public during January.

© www.dark-mountains.com

The event area has been carefully selected for its remote and mountainous moorland nature but is generally below 500m, and should avoid the worst of the winter weather that can be experienced on the higher Lakeland fells. Although the area is low in elevation, it more than compensates for this with some technical terrain with complex contours, crags and areas of featureless moorland.

Indeed, the 2012 British Orienteering Champs used some of this area to test the best navigators in the country! Excellent navigation, careful use of the terrain features and a cautious approach are likely to be a rewarding strategy for competitors in this challenging new event.

Planning the courses has proved a tricky task for the organisers. Race Director, Shane Ohly explains:

“We work to a set winning time, rather than a set distance for each course. However, compensating for the added difficulty of running and navigating at night has proven difficult, as the differences between people’s ability to navigate accurately and run with confidence seem to be magnified by the darkness. The organising team have carried out a significant amount of testing themselves and had experienced mountain marathon competitors who are independent of the planning team run the courses to check our assumptions”.

© Ben Winston / Trail Running Magazine

Despite the careful planning process, differences in the weather conditions have resulted in very different experiences for the test team. Ohly continues:

“Obviously, it is also impossible to account for the variations in the weather; a clear moonlit night produces a completely different winning time to a foggy wet night. As such, we have erred on the side of caution when determining the length and climb for each course…it is meant to be fun after all!”

The planner’s optimum distance and height gain for each course have been confirmed as:

    C Course: 30.7km / 1,400m
    B Course: 35.3km / 1,600m
    A Course: 41.1km / 1,900m
    Elite Course: 51.4km / 2,200m

There is also a score class with a time limit of 8 hours.

There are still a few entries available on all the courses and despite the lure of a £500 cash prize for the elite winners, the competition remains wide open with just two entries so far. Find out more here.

Around the World in 180 Days, on foot!

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Mon 14 Jan ’13

© www.endurancelife.com

A team of amateur runners from the UK has launched an ambitious challenge to complete the first ever non-stop running relay around the world.‘The World Relay’ will travel 28,000 miles across 6 continents and over 30 countries, starting and finishing in London.

Endurance life press release

Runners will keep the relay going non-stop around the clock in a bid to complete the journey in 180 days.

Thousands of runners from across the globe will be given the opportunity to carry The World Relay baton in their country and their progress will be tracked online using GPS technology.

The team behind The World Relay say the record breaking circumnavigation will raise thousands of pounds for an international children’s charity whilst uniting nations across the globe.

© www.endurancelife.com

The World Relay is being organised by Team Endurancelife who last year completed an 8,000 mile non-stop relay around the British Isles which involved 2,000 grassroots runners and raised thousands of pounds for charity.

Danny Bent from Team Endurancelife states:

“The World Relay isn’t simply about setting world records. It’s an incredible opportunity to bring individuals and communities together to achieve something truly remarkable. The World Relay will send a clear message to society demonstrating the power of international cooperation, a legacy that will long outlast the runners’ footprints.”

Team Endurancelife’s Kate Treleaven says:

“The Real Relay inspired runners from all over the British Isles and captured the imaginations of people worldwide. An international community of supporters avidly followed the baton’s progress online and became our inspiration for The World Relay.”

The World Relay will leave London this summer and journey around the British Isles before heading east across Europe, Asia, Australasia, North and South America and Africa, arriving back in London in time for Christmas.

Team Endurancelife are busy raising the £50,000 required to fund the organisation of The World Relay. They are using the increasingly popular Indiegogo crowd funding network to do so.

For more information see the World Relay / Endurance Life Facebook page and the indiegogo donations page

The Spine gets underway…

Posted in At the Races on Sat 12 Jan ’13

© www.thespinerace.com

Deemed Britain’s most brutal race, the 268-mile beast that is The Spine Race – a non-stop winter ultra-marathon encompassing the entire length of the Pennine Way – got underway today (12 Jan) at 8am…

The Spine is Britain’s most brutal race. The longest, coldest and most demanding mountain marathon in Britain. 268 miles of ice, snow, cold and savage winds. Competitors have 7 days to complete the race.

Distance: 268 Miles
Time: 7 Days, non-stop
When: 12-19 Jan 2013
Checkpoints: 5 (all indoors)
Beds: Yes (4 CP’s)
Food/ Water: Provided at CP
Resupply Bag: 1 moved CP to CP
Medical Support: Yes
Support Staff: Yes
Training Event: 9-11 November (inclusive)
Course Record: 151h 2m
Places: 125

Follow events via:

The Spine website updates page

Star line-up announced at Fuego y Agua

Posted in At the Races on Thu 10 Jan ’13

© fuegoyagua.org

Ultra-trail race Fuego y Agua is building to be quite an event this February with the likes of Ian Sharman and Anna Frost heading to Nicaragua. 2013 will mark Fuego y Agua’s 4th edition, with 500 participants racing distances of 25k, 50k, and 100k…

Full event release

Fuego y Agua is an extremely challenging foot race on the Island of Ometepe. 2013 will mark Fuego y Agua’s 4th annual race and will be, undoubtedly, its largest and most exciting with approximatedly 500 participants and competitors nearly three times the amount present 2012.

In addition to three grueling distances of 25k, 50k, and 100k, organisers have added a never before seen application-only 70+ kilometer Survival Run obstacle course this year with the most extreme conditions and brutal obstacles.

© fuegoyagua.org

The 100k route ascends and descends both volcanoes and runs around the majority of the island, the 25k and 50k routes run along a portion of the 100k route, and the Survival Run’s course and obstacles are to remain top secret until the athletes start the race but will follow the 50k trail with some “fun” deviations.

The terrain of each distance includes wide dirt trails, paved roads, sand beaches, and single track trails that ascend and descend the Maderas and/or Concepción volcanoes.

This year, dozens of international elite athletes will be joining the competition racing against each other in the 100k distance and Survival Run. Some of the elite athletes include:

• Dave James, Team Inov8 – USATF 100 Mile Champion, USATF 50 Mile Champion
• Ian Sharman, The North Face – 100 Mile Speed Record, TNF 50 Mile winner
• Jorge Maravilla, Team Salomon – USATF 100k Champion
• Anna Frost, Team Salomon – Speedgoat 50k Record Holder and Ultra Champion
• Margaret Schlachter – #1 2011 Fitness Blog, Spartan Elite Athlete
• Jenny Tobin, Team Pearl Izumi – Ironman Utah Champion, 2011/2012 Spartan Race Champion
• Amelia Boone – 2012 Winter Death Race Winner, 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder Winner
• Junyong Pak – 2011 and 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion, 2012 Spartan Ultra Beast 2nd Place
• Joe Decker, Gut Check Fitness – Guinness Book of World Records “World’s Fittest Man”, 2-Time Spartan Death Race Winner

With such notable athletes competing, Fuego y Agua is excited to announce the attendance of several international media outlets covering the event. Reporters from TrailRunner magazine, Outside magazine, and iRunFar.com, among others will be in attendance providing coverage of the event.

© fuegoyagua.org

Organisers are also expecting to have a separate production company filming the Survival Run and producing a 1-hour documentary about the event to be aired on popular television channels internationally.

While the actual race lasts a maximum of 24 hours, the entire event is spread across multiple days. The Thursday before the race, we will be hosting an island-wide trash pick up day and the Sunday after the race will be the day of our 4th Calzado Kids Run, a free concert for the participants and community, and an after party lasting well into the night.

The Calzado Kids Run foot race is for children ages 8 to 14 and between 2 and 5k depending on their age. Each of the 700 plus child participants will receive one pair of donated athletic shoes provided by Soles4Souls, one athletic t-shirt, and one race medal.

Fuego y Agua is committed to promoting and supporting the local Ometepe economy by sourcing as many goods and services as possible used during the event from these local establishments.

If you would like more information or to schedule an interview, visit the race website at www.fuegoyagua.org or contact Josue Stephens, at (512) 961-6098.

Jez’s Araroa dispatch

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Fri 11 Jan ’13

© The North Face®

British ultra runner Jez Bragg is well onto the South Island of New Zealand as he continues on the arduous 3000+km trek of the Te Araroa trail. He has tweeted and instagramed plenty to date, but this is the first video footage dispatched from his trip…

The 3 minute film captured by Storyteller.com shows the North Face runner on a variety of terrain and locations in this beautiful landscape and shows Bragg enjoying his journey with great support, and according to his twitter feed the ‘big mountains’ are now upon him!

© The North Face®

Watch the film here, and keep up to date with Jez’s intrepid expedition via the TNF journal, the Te Araroa Spot Messenger tracker and Jez’s twitter feed.

© The North Face®

Big Welsh Trail is on track…

Posted in At the Races on Fri 11 Jan ’13

© bigwelshtrail.com

This year will see the Big Welsh Trail taking place at Coed Landegla, in Denbighshire, on the 1st of June – the very latest addition to Always Aim High Events growing portfolio of exciting outdoor events.

Racing will feature both a half marathon and 10km route that will take in some stunning and awe inspiring trails through the 650 hectares of this beautiful forest. Coed Llandegla is already a mecca for mountain bikers and walkers, and with its proximity to the Welsh/English border it is set to provide a fantastic backdrop for this new and exciting event.

© bigwelshtrail.com

Entries to both events go live later today (10th January 2013) with ‘early bird’ prices available to those who enter before the 1st of March. Always Aim High Events’ Tim Lloyd is expecting a great deal interest in the new event:

“We’re very excited about adding the Big Welsh Trail to our event line-up. Runners can expect the same great organisation and atmosphere that pervades all of the Always Aim High Events and the environment and accessibility in and around Llandegla means that we are expecting a great deal of interest from trail and road runners alike.

© bigwelshtrail.com

“We are very grateful to the team at Coed Llandegla and all of the brand partners that have helped make this exciting new event happen.

“2013 will be an incredible year for us. We now have eight events for our growing and loyal followers to take part in. Whether it’s the Slateman, the Island Race, Etape Eryri or the Snowman, we think that we have something for all tri, run, bike and swim enthusiasts. 2012 was great, but 2013 will be even better!”

Entries to the Big Welsh Trail will open on Thursday Jan 10th, 2013 and can be accessed by clicking on the Register Now button on the Big Welsh Trail website.

© bigwelshtrail.com

Olson joins TNF

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Wed 09 Jan ’13

© timothyallenolson.wordpress.com

Tim Olson

Western States 2012 winner Timothy Olson has been unveiled as a North Face athlete for the coming season. The 29-year old has a big future in ultra-running and will have been courted by many of the big brands over the last few months we suspect…

The full story on the North Face blog states:

“Timothy has the passion exploration that we all share at The North Face, “ said Aaron Carpenter, vice president of marketing for The North Face. “The joy he gets from running in the outdoors, and pushing his mental and physical limits is inspiring to the entire The North Face family. We are excited to work with him in accomplishing his goals.”

The North Face ultra-running Team includes Jez Bragg, Sébastien Chaigneau, Lizzy Hawker, Tsuyoshi Kaburaki, Dean Karnazes, Nikki Kimball, Hall Koerner, Kami Semick, Diane Van Deren, Michael Wardian and Mike Wolfe.

© www.irunfar.com

Olson strolls across the WS100 line for a new course record

Reactions so far
  1. Tony Mollica
    Jan 10, 01:32 AM

    Nice signing for TNF. Good luck in 2013 Tim!

Keswick gets ready for outdoor sporting festival

Posted in Dishing the Dirt on Tue 08 Jan ’13

© www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk

Not only does the Keswick Mountain Festival nestle in one of the countries great outdoor environments and feature some great speakers from the world of outdoor and adventure sport…

But also has a week of exciting events to satisfy the keenest of outdoor enthusiast. Contained within the programme from May 15th to the 19th are a couple of trail and fell running gems in the form of the traditional Weds evening Latrigg Fell Race and the Borrowdale Trail Runs and Scafell Pike Trail Marathon.

So, if you’re looking for a late Spring week in the Lakes, what better than a trip to the Keswick Mountain Festival…

© www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk

“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…

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

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.

A look back at 2012: Pt5

Posted in At the Races on Wed 02 Jan ’13

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Steven Cale with Tim Davies at the fell relays

One of the events of this year, and any year for that matter, on the fell running calendar are the hotly contested UKA Fell Relays. 2012 was no different, as the men in yellow, Mercia, made sure of a ‘home’ win, and those Scottish raiders HBT took the women’s crown…


UKA Fell Relays: Mercia reign on home ground, as HBT take ladies

Mercia Fell Runners had a grand day out in the Shropshire countryside yesterday, as their men’s team took a superb win in the UKA Fell Relay Championships. Their women also turned in a great performance to take silver in the ladies’ champs, pipped by top Scots HBT.

Having tried on many occasions to win the ‘fell relays’ the boys in yellow managed to get a crack-squad out at Church Stretton, for a team packed with internationals. Whilst in the women’s race Hunters Bog Trotters made the long journey south very worthwhile as Rosie Smith anchored them to gold, less than minute up on Mercia’s ladies.

The day was always going to be poignant after the terrible news from one week earlier, where Darren Holloway sadly passed away at the Ian Hodgson relays. One minutes silence at the race start was a fitting tribute to a man who will be sorely missed. But in the true spirit of the sport, racing went ahead as planned.

As many said this is what Darren would have wanted and the day’s fantastic racing proved a fitting tribute to the Pennine Fell Runner.

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Carl Bell on fell relay duty for Howgill

First out of the blocks as the race got underway was Howgill’s Carl Bell, ripping round leg one with the fastest time (35:44), 25 seconds up on DPFR’s Rob Little, with Mercia’s lead-off man Paul Jones in 6th.

Defending champions Dark Peak weren’t going to give up their crown easily, though without 2011 anchor-man Lloyd Taggart in their midst the others would have seen this an opportunity to overhaul the Dark Peak crew – especially Borrowdale perhaps, who had convincingly won the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relays one week earlier.

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Rob Hope and Darren Kay pummel it on leg 2

After Pudsey’s Rob Hope and Darren Kay roasted the rest time-wise with a superb 1:08:58 on leg 2, it was Dark Peak’s Rhys Findlay-Robinson and Oli Johnson running a strong 1:10:30 for third fastest who just about led from the P&B boys as they passed over to Neil Northrop and Pete Hodges for leg 3.

Still, the race looked wide open, as eventual winners Mercia moved up to 4th, and as Tim Davies and Steve Cale handed over to Andy Davies and GB orienteering international Graham Gristwood, things would prove decisive over the next hour.

Mercia’s Andy Davies brings it all alive with his view on proceedings:

“We set out in 4th, quickly closed the gap on Borrowdale just in front. We then slowly reeled Dark Peak and P&B going on to CP2. We had overtaken both when we turned right up the hill, but we carried on up the gully and came out on the road approx 30 secs in front.

“To be honest we were delighted to be winning after only checkpoint 2 and Graham and I really pushed on and possibly got 1 minute up on the 3 chasing teams behind who all seemed to be together at this time.

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Davies leads Gristwood

“By time we hit checkpoint 5 though it became clear that CP 5 wasn’t there, so me and GG were looking around! The 3 teams caught us up and we all agreed that it wasn’t there, so we pushed on to the finish and came in approx 15 seconds ahead, finding out later the CP marshals hadn’t got there yet (as we were 15 mins up on the est time).

“It was a bit touch and go, but we knew when we handed over to SB (Simon Bailey), that we were in good hands being the current English champion.”

As Davies and Gristwood returned to the handover with a narrow lead over Dark Peak, Pudsey and Borrowdale, and with one of the speediest fell runners Simon Bailey on leg 4, things obviously looked good for Mercia.

© Al Tye / fellrunningpictures.co.uk

Simon Bailey on leg 4

With Borrowdale fast-man Morgan Donnelly chasing him Bailey couldn’t let up, but delivered the goods and the title, winning by 50 seconds and clocking the days fastest time (32:35) on the last leg. Borrowdale took the silver with an excellent 33:03 from Donnelly, with 2011 champions Dark Peak