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Bowland Fell Runners News: March 2011

News: March 2011

The final Bat League and Carwags Speed League documents are now posted on the website. The Summer Planner will follow shortly.



Posted: Wed 30th Mar 2011

March 3rd – Trough Skyline

 The now-classic, but rather gnarly, Trough Skyline run attracted 10 bats including one newcomer, Sophie Fosker, taking the total number of scorers on this year's league to 72, and the return of Grand Bat Paul Walsh, who's Achilles injury seems to have cleared up. Ian R and Sophie took a 20 min head start to avoid the 'cavalry charge' and Ian has penned the following report of the run from his perspective...
(I made) "A very heavy legged start; despite a steady jog up the track, once on to the fell the quads turned to mahogany, probably due to going into anaerobic oxygen debt / lactic build up. Sophie was obviously straining at the leash and once we had angled across to the fence, I suggested that she could jog up ahead and return to me as she pleased, using the fence as a handrail. She disappeared up that fence-line like greased lightning and it was a good 5 minutes later before I spotted the pin-prick of light from her Tikka, returning towards me afar off. Made me feel like a very inadequate old man. This was repeated all the way to the fence junction, when she gleefully returned to report that she had found the kissing gate some 100 yards ahead.
We stuck together at a brisk walk over the actual Top o' Blaze Moss and Sophie fell in behind me for the descent, claiming that she was cautious on descents. Once across the Trough she came past me, but I managed to hold station about 50 yards behind her until we crossed the fence at the wicket gate, where I took her well R of the fence and picked up the quad track that avoids all the hags and groughs along the fence. Once again she was running ahead then returning until we climbed into the really thick clag and she found the Tikka inadequate for picking up sketchy points of the track. We soon came alongside the fence again, but the easy angle indicated that the quad track had cut well inside the fence junction and we were now on the final couple of hundred yards to the summit. I was rather non-plussed to come across a kissing gate in the fence, I remember that it used to be a proper farm gate, and wondered if maybe we were still below the fence junction? A few seconds later, I glanced left and spotted the trig looming out of the clag, across the fence. We climbed the fence to touch the trig then re-crossed and followed the trod along the RHS of the fence.
My idea was that as Sophie was cautious in descent, it would be better if we maintained our lead and kept going. There was always the danger that I might get swept along on a cavalry charge descent and leave Sophie detached on the fell. Now hand holding the headtorches to cut through the clag, we hugged the fence all the way to the Ouster Rake gate before swinging R on the bridleway, which was not that easy to see in a few places but we always managed to relocate to it. Once through the Trough House ruins, Sophie's Tikka all but gave up the ghost and she swapped it for my AlpKit Gamma which she enthused about. As we set off again, a rear ward glance confirmed that the cavalry charge was on its way and we set forth with a will, making use of the field shortcuts across the loops of the track. At the road, no following lights could be seen and I switched off the Vision 2. We had a steady run down the road by the light of the Gamma and arrived at the vehicles still with no pursuing lights visible. IDR."
Meanwhile, the rest (initially 7) of us set off at 7pm and ran up the waterworks road before branching off up the rushy fell to pick up a fence climbing to Blaze Moss. A front group pressed on ahead, while Martin Walsh, John McHugh and I took a steadier climb, regrouping at the watershed fence. A light approaching from behind proved to be Steve Cox, once again arriving late and chasing (he loves it!). A stumbling traverse of the Top was followed by a brisk descent, dodging the bits of fencing wire that menace much of this run, and we were soon across the Trough road and on our way up Whins Brow. My recent statistical email brought accusations of anorak-hood from some quarters on this climb, but the accusers then donned their own cycling anoraks and started talking about videos of 'indexing your deraillieur' on YouTube... This was only interrupted when I made an unsuccessful attempt to surmount a peat hag and fell backwards, to be caught by Andy C, who then had to endure allegations of being a fell fondler in the mould of a certain other member of our club (initials DE) who is given to this sort of thing. AND, John Wade was once again on hand to witness the indiscretion. An uncanny nose for a whiff of scandal or what..?
Putting this slight discomfiture behind me, I pressed on for the top where we all arrived in about 56 mins. No sign of Ian and Sophie but they had been going for some 75 mins by this time and were probably already well down the descent. 
It was misty on the summit and as Steve led off on the descent we hugged the fence, reluctant to commit ourselves to the maze of peat groughs that would have enabled us to cut the corner. It was very juicy along here and cold wet feet were the order of the day, even with Sealskinz on. At the point where we finally decided to make the short cut, a regrouping stop was called for as some had got left behind and when we resumed there was a small amount of er, disorientation, resulting in us reaching the Ouster Rake path almost right at the top, so we missed the short cut completely. As Ian mentions above, the path is a bit indistinct on this top section, but we managed to stay on it fairly easily and we soon dropped down to the fell gate where the charge down the lower tracks began. Since I was nursing a slightly sore calf muscle, I had promised myself that I would not do a mad finish this time (having made a habit of it over recent years) and I successfully kept to an easy trot all the way down to the road, at which point my headtorch began to begave strangely - switching itself off at random. Selecting the lower power setting seemed to solve it so I resorted to that.
By Sykes, my calf was developing a bit of a knot so I elected to walk in from there and was joined by Paul and Martin for a very relaxed finish!
We all retired to the Parkers Arms in Newton for a well-earned pint and we were joined in there by Gill, who was returning from Yorkshire and couldn't resist joining in the bat natter. Martin had the task of passing on the golden baton and elected to give it to Andy Crook, not for anything particular he'd done tonight but simply because Martin recalled other nights when he would have given the baton to Andy, if he'd been awarding it. A perfectly acceptable reason.
As usual, Adrian was a very genial host and, as usual, it was Martin, Gill and I who were last to depart for home. Another excellent bat night!

March 8th – Carwags Batbecue

Tuesday night's activities attracted 20 bats, who enjoyed a "normal" Carwags run plus a 'Batbecue' ably organised by Pam, who worked wonders in providing a veritable feast, with sausage butties (including veggie option), fried onions, cheesy jacket potatoes and cakes, all in quite blustery conditions. She's a miracle worker!
It being Shrove Tuesday, there had been a plan to have flambe pancakes (flambe? Yes, it was Duncan's idea...) but the man himself was absent on domestic duties so this didn't happen, even though Pam did have pancake mix with her and I had brought whiskey...  
The runs produced a few new times, including a 33.55 from Richard Davies, a 34.44 from John McHugh (chipping off a few more seconds), a 43.51 from Sara Farmer, and a rapid duathlon in 65.55 from John Wade, despite being quite fatigued from his run at Black Combe on Saturday.
I was also still fatigued after suffering a mega hunger-bonk at Black Combe and just settled for an easy circuit with Gill. Shaun and Ruth Turner were with us initially but they gradually got ahead and we settled for an easy jog back to Carwags.
Once we were changed we joined the lively group feasting in the barbecue pit. The barbie was glowing merrily and there was a lively chatter going on and much food being consumed for a while but conditions were threatening. A cold blustery wind made it less than comfortable and when rain, (initially sleety!) gradually set in we all set about a rapid and efficient clear up then dived for the vehicles. I suppose you could say we just about got away with it!
There are now only two opportunities to reduce your Carwags time before the 2010/2011 league is archived for posterity.

March 10th Jubilee Tower

The Jubilee Tower run attracted a total of 12 bats but the need to accommodate a wide range of abilities and preferences resulted in three different starting points! The main group (just 4 of them - Andy Crook, Paul and Martin Walsh and Shaun Turner) set off as planned at 7pm and their route went via Grit Fell, Goldsworthy's installations, and Clougha Pike, returning across Hare Appletree Fell to Jubilee Tower. A rough and gnarly run of just over 5 miles.
Ian Roberts and Sophie Fosker elected to start from Stoops Bridge, Abbeystead, as Ian was unsure about parking at Higher Lee, and the rest of us (Pam and Andy Farmer, Sue Jones, Ruth Turner, Gill and I) drove down to Higher Lee and decided to risk parking in the entrance to the farm lane. There was plenty of room but we thought it might be slightly naughty. We had banked on a 15 minute head start but by the time we set off it was 6:55 so we knew we would not be making our planned rendezvous with the main group at the Goldsworthy sculptures.
As we set off, a car was coming out of the driveway of Higher Lee, and as the driver was closing the gate, Andy F approached her and using his best PR skills managed to get her permission for us to leave the vehicles where they were. I knew the skills aquired from years of wooing the Fiendsdale landowners would pay off in the end... ;-)
Our route was to be up the long shooting track to Cabin Flat, then round to the "installations" returning the same way. Runningahead.com makes this 6.7 miles (with an extra 1.7 miles for Ian and Sophie's start at Abbeystead). This makes the route look tougher than the main group's route but this is misleading. Their route is rough in complete contrast to the easy tracks of our route.
We set off up the track in cold windy conditions, with stars twinkling overhead, and made good steady progress up to Cabin Flat, by which time it was obvious the faster group would be long gone, then continued towards the installations. By this time, Sophie (though not Ian) had caught us and the enlarged group went on a short way before Gill and Andy F decided to return, having had a surfeit of good things. I pressed on with the girls to the objective, which everyone seemed suitably unimpressed with before turning and setting off back. It had taken us about 57mins to get here and we learned later that the faster group had been there about ten mins ahead of us.
Seeing our lights returning, Ian turned around and we were soon all back together, whereupon Ian suggested that Sophie and I went on ahead. This proved a good suggestion as I was aware that Gill would get back before me and would have no keys for the van so it was important to press on. We came down the long shooting track at a good pace, though chatting all the way (Sophie will have no trouble joining the fast group on future runs) and we were soon back down at Higher Lee (we'd been out for about 1:28). 5 mins later, Ian, Pam, Ruth and Sue returned and Gill and I then gave Ruth and Sue a lift back up to Jubilee Tower to meet Shaun, whilst Ian and Sophie continued to Abbeystead.
We all eventually got together in the Fleece at Dolphinolme where Andy Crook reported a disturbing event during their run. Paul had apparently tripped whilst running a few feet behind him and in falling forward had generated enough momentum to almost achieve a "debagging" of Andy. For once, John Wade was not on hand to witness this unsavoury incident but Shaun was. However, he showed commendable decorum in not making a fuss about it and for this display of courteousness, Andy has awarded him the golden baton and the attendant double points! This has carried Shaun above Ian R in the bat league.

March 15th – Carwags

A grey, misty, murky evening saw a slightly reduced turnout at Carwags (17) but the lengthening evenings now mean that darkness does not arrive until almost 7pm so most times set now will be treated as dusk times, not true purist bat times.... I can't blame people for wanting to get going and not hang about but a distinction must be drawn, even though the last of the light (probably without a torch on) can be the worst visibility of all. I've settled for letting the times stand in the bat categories but simply adding a note - 'dusk' - denoting that some glims of daylight were still available.
The challenge of the duathlon remains popular, with Steve C, Andrew K, John W and perhaps others I didn't see, all having another go at it. There certainly seemed to be a few bikes about in the twilight. John had a frustrating run, going wrong in the misty trees in Dewpond Wood (easily done) and so didn't improve on last week's time (64.10), but Steve and Andrew had storming runs, with times of 59.46 and 60.41 respectively. This makes Steve the first ever 'super-duo' bat (sub 1 hour). Well done Steve! Also, I think Andrew and Steve were both under 25 mins for the bike circuit, which beats the previous MTB "record" of 25.48, set last winter by Alasdair Harrison. Declan is now demoted to third in the duathlon league but you can never count him out... watch this space next week.
Speaking of Declan, he currently has a slight niggling injury and turned up at Carwags with his road bike. He did a road circuit in the local lanes but also included a timed blast around the one-way Beacon Fell perimeter road in 6.52. I will have to measure the distance but this seems a fast time for what is a short but quite hilly circuit. Perhaps this will become yet another speed challenge for Tuesday nights at Carwags!
Of the runners (remember them?!), Sara Farmer took yet another chunk off her time, reporting a 43.14, some 40 secs better. In doing this, she burned off her dad, though Andy still has a faster time from earlier in the winter (only 41 secs in it now though). Ruth took the opportunity (with a nudge from Gill) to run with husband Shaun and set a 50.10, her first posted time of the winter. She may yet take the odd seconds off this next week and join the Sportybats too.
It was Ian Cookson's <<censored>> birthday last night and he had a steady run to celebrate. He did casually mention that he had done an unreported 37.55 last week though, so I have added this into the league as it lifts Ian to his rightful place in the Speedybat category. Many happy returns Ian, I never realised you were such an, er..  elderly gent ;-)
As for me, I have ambitions to get under 37 before the end of the winter but going out to lunch and drinking two pints of beer put paid to my energy for having a crack at it on this occasion so I settled for a steady run round a slightly reduced circuit with Gill. Well, with Pam absent due to a school governer's meeting (though she did appear in the pub later for a social point) and Ruth time trialling, she would have been on her own...
So, there is now only one more chance to set a Carwags time for this winter, before it's back to Fell Foot Wednesday's and its altogether tougher time trial course!
Details of summer activities will be appearing soon. 
Martin Walsh retains his stranglehold on the bat league leadership so we could now address him as 'Grand Bat Elect'. Pam is uncatchable as Grand Bat Chick but she still has ambition of overtaking current Grand Bat Paul Walsh for third overall. She would need a golden baton to do that though, provided Paul attends the last three runs, which seems very likely.

March17th – Roddlesworth

A pleasant, clear, moonlit but chilly night greeted the 15 bats who turned out to run the paths and tracks of Roddlesworth Woods and Darwen Moor. As well as the regular Bowland contingent, we were joined by new and occasional bats Adrian Hope, Paul Murray, Jason Tonge and (new Bowland member) Ian Charters. Pam Farmer and Gill Ponsford formed a second group who devised a route around the Roddlesworth reservoirs, whilst the rest of us did a six mile circuit, partly in the woods and partly over the moor.
Martin Walsh arrived uncharacteristically late, which surprised me as he'd been behind me on the Belmont road but then inexplicably went straight on when I turned left, ending up in Belmont village before returning. An attack of brain fade perhaps...  
Setting off at 7pm, I led a downhill start into the woods and onto the Roddlesworth paths. We quickly dropped Martin and Paul W, which I found puzzling but when we regrouped Paul explained he'd had battery trouble and had to stop to swap head-torches. All, back together we headed over to Earnsdale Reservoir and then the waterworks roads led us up to the climb to Darwen Tower, which was taken steadily with some walking (it was for me anyway). Andy Crook and John McHugh particularly were going well and the group inevitably kept stringing out and having to regroup but it all worked perfectly fine and no-one was left behind.
From the tower, more good fast paths led across the edge of the moor towards Cartridge Hill and we were very soon at the gate and once again overlooking Roddlesworth woods. After regrouping, I anticipated a short bit of proper fellrunning on the descent and set off with glee, only to miss the rougher fell path which caused me to go galumphing over the tussocks to rejoin the group. Easy running then brought us down to the road at Slipper Lowe Car Park. This was our originally planned start point but the closed and locked barrier had put paid to that idea.
From here the rough descent of a stony track took us down into Tockholes No3 Plantation and then back up to the Royal after a very enjoyable 1:08 run.
Arriving back, we caught up with the girls, who's plan had gone slightly awry in the vicinity of Rake Brook Reservoir (the lowest of the three). They had run down to the Hare & Hounds pub OK but got confused after crossing the reservoir spillway and ended up returning by their outward route. Still a decent outing but not quite what they had planned. More reccying required!
After changing we retired to the cosy confines of the Royal Arms (complete with roaring fire!) and were joined by Andy Farmer, who had been unable to make it back (from Aldershot!) in time for the run but was determined to partake in the apre run social. For this he gets the now-accepted one point. Surprisingly, only the Bowland contingent appeared in the pub but it was a lively group of 12 who were rewarded with good beer from local breweries and two big bowls of chips (with dips), generously provided gratis by the landlord. We shall return to this venue!
The passing of the golden baton was the duty of Shaun Turner and he awarded it to Stewart (Blackfoot) Forsyth, a) because Stew had introduced him to BFR, and b) because, after his injury troubles, Stew needed the extra points! So, Stew now has the honour of awarding the last golden baton of the winter at next week's Fell Foot Finale. Tactics may enter into it....

March 22nd – The Final Carwags

It was another eventful night at Carwags, with a flurry of activity over the time trial courses. 20 bats turned out, with a fair few of them having a go at setting a final time and 5 succeeding. These were Gill Ponsford, Steve Harling, Declan O'Duffy, John McHugh and Matt Gallagher. Gill knocked almost half a minute off her previous time after being paced around the route by Pam and Ruth; she was actually 5 mins up at the first time over the crossroads but struggled thereafter. There is obviously more to come off the time next winter though, with slightly more even pacing! Steve Harling, having been seen running fast round the fell almost every Tuesday, finally decided to post a new time and took 35 seconds off his previous effort. Declan, having swapped the duathlon record with Steve Cox a few times already, timed his final effort to perfection and clocked a startling 58.34, to take back the record by 50secs and become the second 'super-duo bat'. His splits were impressive: 25.36 on the bike and 32.58 for the run. John McHugh (32.13) and Matt Gallagher (35.04) also clocked impressive run times but they were both returning to Carwags as I was heading out at about 6:45, still in twilight, so these must be considered daylight runs.....      
The Dark/Dusk/Daylight Question The first thing to say about this is that the whole speed-league thing is just a bit of fun, but since it is a bat league thing, with bat categories, the runs should ideally be done in darkness. Obviously, at this time of year, pesky daylight starts creeping back and makes true bat runs difficult. Therefore, I've had to apply some standards: A bat run takes place in full darkness and goes straight into the speed league categories. A dusk run may start in twilight but ends up in darkness. These go into the league but have the word 'dusk' added by the side of them. A daylight run may take place in twilight but never encounters full darkness (headtorch not essential). These are added to the league document but only as a footnote. Having said all this, the Carwags course is perfectly runnable in the dark, so there's not a lot of evidence that daylight (and especially twilight) is any advantage at all.
Of the other runners, some were seen checking their watches at the end of their runs but not posting times (it's not always possible to go faster!). I set off feeling quite good (under 9 mins to the summit fairly easily) but tired legs from the weekend soon caused me to ease off rather than pushing it for a PB. I was still well under 40 mins for what ended up a reasonably comfortable run for most of the route so I'm encouraged by that. 
So, it's farewell to Carwags for another winter. It's been perhaps the most successful season of Tuesday runs ever, especially with regard to the time trials, the success of the duathlon etc. The Grand Tour has been completely neglected but Martin Walsh has inaugurated a new longer challenge that he calls his "figure of 88" - basically a double figure of 8, apart from not returning to Carwags in the middle. More details of this before next winter but Martin clocked about 1:08 for the route last night so a sub one hour challenge might be on the cards for some people. Also, there has been much talk of a challenge for road bikers, since Declan's 6.52 lap of the fell road. Steve Cox's suggestion is a challenge based on how many laps can be done in an hour. More details of this before the dark nights return. But first, the summer..!
The summer planner will be out shortly, and watch this space for details of an additional time trial challenge for Fell Foot Wednesdays.
Meanwhile, there is one more bat run left - the Fell Foot Finale on Thursday at 7pm. It's a 4-point special (8 points for the lucky Golden Bat). 

March 24th – The Fell Foot Finale

It's all over! The 2010/2011 Bat League drew to a close on March 24th with 15 bats having a straightforward run in 'the homeland' of Parlick and Fairsnape Fells. Some just had a simple run up to Paddy's and back, whilst a group extended the run via 1707 and Saddle Fell. It was a perfect evening, mild and clear, with pretty much dry underfoot conditions. I was one of those who returned early and it was great to look back and see the lines of headtorches descending Parlick in the darkness. 
On return to the cars, Pam produced a surprise; a batch of Bat Cakes, some of them personally decorated for individual, prominent bats. So, the leading Bat Chicks got a cake with a very glam looking feminine bat on it,  Ian R (the 'Bishop of Bowland) had one with an ecclesiastical theme, Bat Central got one with "HQ" on it, Martin Walsh, the newly crowned Grand Bat was presented with one bearing a crown, and Stewart recieved a suspiciously large cake depicting a bat carrying a golden baton... talk about bribery...   It had the desired effect though, with Stew unable to resist awarding the final golden baton to Pam. This would have had the effect of lifting Pam above Paul Walsh in the final standings but wasn't actually needed as Paul was surprisingly absent on this occasion.  
A bunch of bats returned to the Tillies for refreshments but the Bat League trophy presentation will now take place next Wednesday after the first Fell Foot summer run.
This has been the most popular Bat League ever, with a total of 628 individual scores. It shares the largest number of runs (44) with last year but last year's total number of scores was only 509. The number of different people scoring this time (75) is also a record, beating last year's 68. So it could be said that the league continues to go from strength to strength.
A particularly encouraging thing about this year's league is the increase in participation by women. 14 scored on the league this time, easily beating the previous record of 10, and it was more competitive too, Pam Farmer scoring 100 points (the first woman to reach double figures) and finishing 3rd overall (the highest ever) to win the Bat Chick title. Gill Ponsford made a very good fist of her first season of taking part in what can be a daunting and eccentric activity (well, what else would you call winter night fellrunning), achieving an excellent 7th overall and Bat Chick runner up, and Ruth Turner's recent consistent attendance was rewarded by her sneaking past Beverley Wilkinson in the final week to take the third Bat Chick spot.
As previously mentioned, Martin Walsh achieved the Grand Bat title after a brilliantly committed and consistent winter, taking over from his brother Paul, who was cruelly hampered by a mid-season injury, and of course his ineligibility for golden bat points, being the sitting Grand Bat. Meanwhile Bat Central, as befits his office, was close (4 points) behind Martin. Only his fondness for sunning himself in the Canaries for a week every November torpedoed his challenge for top spot.
New bat John McHugh had a great first season to finish 5th overall and he set a string of startling new PBs on the Carwags Speed League en-route. Andy Farmer was hampered by injury (and work!) and finished 2 points behind John in 6th place. Behind Gill in 7th, Ian Cookson quietly amassed points all season to finish 8th, and the top ten was completed by John Wade and Keith Denver who are always there or thereabouts.
Of the other, part time bats (ahem), special mention must go to Shaun and Ruth Turner, who made a late start but have been very consistent in the second half of the season. Shaun finished in 15th place, level on points and runs with declining-bat Duncan (only failing to overtake the club's chief arsonist because of the vagaries of the alphabet) and Ruth overtook Beverley to climb into the top 20. Lee Dowthwaite also deserves a special mention; our illustrious club official, previously a very occasional bat, suddenly caught the Carwags bug and was a very consistent attendee on Tuesdays in the second half of the winter, finally ending up in 21st position - as he said, his highest ever position in the league!
It is difficult to know who else to mention, there have been so many highlights this winter; Declan O'Duffy and Steve Cox for their competitive swapping of the Carwags duathlon record, with Andrew Knowles running them close much of the time, Debbie Cooper, for her rapid improvement on the Figure of 8 (first woman under 40 mins), Marc Laithwaite, for becoming the first to break the 30 minute barrier, and Luke Gregson and Josh Wilkinson, for proving that there is a new generation of bats coming through.
Next winter, new challenges we are planning will add even more facets to the vibrant, competitive yet social marvel that is the Bowland Bat League!
This is Bat Central, signing off until the darkness returns...
Posted: Wed 30th Mar 2011

Causey Pike on Saturday saw a great turnout of 11 Bowlanders for the first Champs race of the season (and FAB) with additional support on the hill from the Farmers. Tom Addison set the pace up the road but Rob Jebb soon pulled away on the climb, obviously benefitting from his warm up cycle from Staveley (the Lancaster contingent might try this strategy next year!) and was a comfortable winner ahead of a raft of Borrowdale runners. RIch and Chris both had good runs under 39 mins. Leigh and Declan obviously had a good tussle with Leigh finishing only 20 seconds ahead then Ian appeared with a bloody nose swiftly followed by Rowena .. not sure if the two events were linked as he claimed to have got too close to the feet infront in the steep ascent. John Wade was running incognito so should be docked half his Champs points - but at least he'd found a pair of shorts this week and was running well without the three sweaters on. The V50 battle continued behind with Andy W comfortably ahed of the Denver brothers (Glyn getting the best of the family rivalry) and Wayne looking like he'd given it his all. The Club Championship page has been updated.

A good little race which certainly packed a punch and despite the long journey for a short race was well worth the effort. For FULL RESULTS CLICK HERE with the Bowland contingent;

8 MELLON Richard 37:24 M
14 READE Chris 38:50 MV45
32 WARBURTON Leigh 42:21 MV50
34 O'DUFFY Declan 42:42 MV50
56 HUTCHINSON Ian 46:27 MV45
57 BROWNE Rowena 46:31 LV40
65 WADE John 47:45 MV45
107 WALMSLEY Andy 52:07 MV50
116 DENVER Glyn 53:10 MV50
119 DENVER Keith 53:34 MV50
133 WALSH Wayne 56:31 MV50

The image and others available to purchase is from Steve Agnus at ATHLETES IN ACTION

In other news, the Fiendsdale results are now posted on the webage ... a belated report to follow from the organiser soon.

Posted by Webmaster


Posted: Sun 27th Mar 2011

Just a quick reminder that the first race of the 2011 CLUB CHAMPS is on SAT 26th MARCH @ CAUSEY PIKE.

See you all there I hope.


Posted: Tue 22nd Mar 2011

Wynn Cliff needs some extra marshalls for the
races on 23rd April. If you can help out then please let her know

It's always a great day and I think that
anyone helping out gets a bit of breakfast if you are there early

Posted: Fri 18th Mar 2011

The High Peak Marathon is an unusual race. It’s long, it’s run in early March at night and takes place in the Peak District, which is notorious for its peat bogs. Despite all that it has a strong following. The limit of 50 teams means that many applicants are left disappointed. Against that there is a good chance that one can find a place in a team as a substitute in the last days before the event, as team members become injured or fall ill, a likely possibility in teams of four.

I have lost count of how many times I have done the event but last year I decided it was the last time I organised a team. I had not lost my appetite for the event, I just wanted a change. I decided I would join a team as a substitute if there was a chance. The last few days before the race date the FRA forum was getting busy with requests for new team members. I had entered a score event on the Sunday and was not seriously thinking of the HPM until Thursday when it appeared that the weather was going to be quite good – dry, no snow and some hill fog. This was much better weather than what we had in some previous years with a soft snow overlay on top of the soft bogs of the Peak. A couple of partner requests appeared from some of the top teams – no good for me, they wouldn’t have me anyway. Then on Thursday evening there was a posting from a girls’ team from the Sheffield University orienteering club. One team member was injured and they were after anyone who could volunteer to join them. I contacted them and said I would join them if they could not find another female team member and if they did not mind changing to a ‘mixed’ team. The reply soon came back positive. They were very young and had no experience of such challenges. They hoped to get round in about 14 hours, which is quite a bit longer than what I had done before even in heavy snow. I did not mind that, I was looking forward to a more relaxed event than usual.

And so, on Friday night I met up with Sarah, Naomi and Liz at the Edale village hall and went through the usual checking of clothing and food. The combined age of the three of them was about the same as my 66 years!  We set off at 23:03 and made good and steady progress. The girls seem to be enjoying themselves and I was careful to keep a pace which they were all happy with. The first feeding stop at Moscar went to plan, we grabbed some food and refilled the bottles and headed up Derwent Edge. There things changed. Liz started suffering from stomach cramps and nausea. We walked and made sure she was kept warm. At Lost Lad she sat down by the checkpoint and contemplated retiring. She looked pale. There was no time to sit around on top of a breezy hill so we made our way to the next checkpoint at Sheepfold Clough where we decided to walk to the rescue point at Slippery Stones, some distance away. There we left her in safety and the three of us made our way to the Cut Gate checkpoint and continued the course.  It was dark and misty and apart from a couple of other teams we did not see anyone else for a while. Traversing the desolate wilderness of the Howden Moors in the small hours in a cold and misty morning is challenge enough for hardened mountaineers, let alone my two young companions but the perseverance of Sarah and Naomi impressed me. At the second feeding station at Snake we were joined by a lone member of another retired team and made our way over Kinder to Edale. It had taken us 14 hours and 5 minutes to get round. The detour to Slippery Stones probably added over an hour to our time.

This HPM was a new experience for me. I had been used to doing the event with a team of experienced veteran men and had won the vets trophy a number of times. This time we were not after a trophy. My ambition was to use my experience and make sure my young companions had a good race. I think they all enjoyed the occasion. As for me, the lack of competitive motive made me drop my guard and go off course two or three times in the limited visibility. But these were small errors balanced out by taking the best shortcuts where possible.

Yiannis Tridimas  06.03.11

HPM 2011

Posted: Tue 8th Mar 2011

The 9 races for this years Club Championship have been decided - click to see the CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP 2011 page for full details. This years races are a mixture of established events and "home grown" races including, for the first time, a BAT event.

The first race is Causey Pike on March 26th......short and steep to kick off the league!  See you there.


Posted: Sun 6th Mar 2011

15th Feb – Tolkien Trail

Another great turnout of 19 bats appeared at Hurst Green for the 'Orc run' round the Tolkien Trail (about 7 miles). The plan was for a slower group to set off about 6:10, with the faster group leaving at 6:30 but Pam and Andy Farmer had some issues with their van on the ascent of Jeffrey Hill, which compelled them to return home and swap to the car. This meant that Pam arrived later than intended and by the time they had waited for Phil Martin to prepare (he'd elected to go with the slower group) it was after 6:20 - not much of a head start. Shortly after the slower group had left, Andy F led an "inbetweeners" group away. This group took a slightly different start, which is probably a bit quicker as it has more road and track and less muddy field and this resulted in them catching up with Pam,Gill and Ruth very quickly.
The faster group (of 9 bats) were champing at the bit by 6:30 and when we set off the pace was immediately hot. I was tailed off the back by the second field (not helped by the fiendish mud trying to suck my Inov-8 Mudclaws off at the heel) and I had to work quite hard to regain contact. It was obvious that keeping this bunch together would not be easy and it was no surprise when we caught the girls near Hodder Place that Gill was already having a struggle and really not enjoying herself at all... There was still a lot of fast riverbank running ahead of us and Gill elected to bail out and continue up the road from Lower Hodder Bridge, directly back to Hurst Green. A shame but she had a decent run and realises that she is making a significant step up to run with the Bowland Bats. She's determined to continue her recent improvement though, so that she has that little bit of comfort in reserve for these runs.  
Gill assured me she was fine returning up the road and I decided to continue and complete the route. At this point I'd abandoned any idea of a social run though and just decided on a 'proper training' run back to Hurst Green. Up ahead, the various breakaway groups were doing occasional, partial, regrouping but I just ran on, eventually catching up with Duncan's group opposite Hacking Hall just as they were about to indulge in the essential rituals. Over to Duncan for an acount of this...
"As we ran along the banks of the Ribble approaching the confluence with the Calder the Bat Central sped past muttering something incomprehensible in orcish.Whether he had caught a whiff of the fuel I was carrying I don’t know but we soon assembled on the river bank opposite Hacking Hall. As all Tolkien readers will know this is the site of the old ferry where Frodo and the hobbits escape the Black Riders. So out came the wooden raft and there was surprise that WD 40 can be ignited, as Dunc soaked a piece of rag in it attached to the raft. Once alight he tried to launch. The winds from east soon extinguished the flame and a firework was launched instead. By this time Bat central was probably back at Hurst Green fondling a fire extinguisher!
The hobbits escape celebrated how to commemorate Nirvana day -the death of the Buddha. Ian was nowhere to be seen! Fortunately reincarnation was at hand and the Buddha had come back as mud! The last field in particular was a fitting reincarnation of the biggest fattest mud bath we have met on the run and attempted to remove our shoes in reverence. Dunc reckoned later that his shoes could claim a milk quota! Then it was back to Whalley to the Trishna. There was much talk of a missing Reverend and reference to 'a certain 'Guest go Gram’ picture!"
Yes... I did run on to Hurst Green but no fire extinguishers were fondled.. I was much too knackered after fighting my way up the last climb through that 'biggest fattest mudbath'. Even Mudclaws couldn't get any purchase on that horrible stuff and it was all I could do to keep them on my feet through the worst bits!
Back at the van, the others arrived in dribs and drabs and 13 of us (plus Mike Gibbi's wife Glenys) eventually headed off to the Trishna Indian restaurant in Whalley to 'consume the fires of Mordor', and a good time was had by all. A small group elected to escape the fires of Mordor and go back to the Bayliss Arms for the traditional pint and natter instead - nowt wrong wi that.
Finally, as Gill and I were driving out of Hurst Green, we passed Ian Cookson running up the road. He'd obviously done one of his (rapidly becoming famous) alternative starts/routes/runs but I have given him the 4 bat points as he obviously had some sort of contact with the group, even if it was only being seen by two of us...

17th Feb – Wards Stone

This straightforward run to Bowland's highest hill and back attracted 9 bats; 5 in the faster group and 4 in the slower group. Andy Verden and John Rodgers turned up, meaning the faster group were not short of local knowledge, and I led the slower group, planning to go only as far as the Luncheon Hut and back. On arrival, Andy V suggested a circular route taking in Tarnbrook - obviously thinking the straight up and down route was not very inspirational. He's right, but I was reluctant to change the plans I had for the slower group as Gill and Pam didn't have much knowledge of the area. I left it up to Andy and the fast group as to whether they added a variation.
My plan was to get away at 6:45 but trouble with the $%&* laces on my Mudrocs meant I had to resort to my emergency Asics trail shoes and we finally departed at about 6:50 in pleasant conditions - dry, slightly chilly and fairly clear. There was cloud about but a bright moon kept a small amount of light in the sky. 
The run out via Higher Lee and up the gravel shooting track went easily enough, with Andy F and I doing a few loops where we ran off ahead then returned to the girls and we were almost at the uppermost gate when the fast group reeled us in. They stopped at the gate to regroup and only eventually overtook us on the final section up towards the Luncheon Hut. A leading trio of Andy Crook, Andy Verden and John Rodgers were pressing on strongly at the front, with John McHugh gamely hanging on just a few yards behind and Martin Walsh keeping it steady a bit further back. At this point, Andy Farmer was a bit further ahead and he got swept along by the leaders as they caught him up. By the time the bat chicks and I approached the Luncheon Hut, AF was well on his way to Cabin Flat. This worried Pam a bit as she knew Andy had a bad knee and didn't intend to go all the way to the top so I said I'd chase the group up onto Cabin Flat to see if I coud 'retrieve' him... The girls continued up a bit further but then turned round and began their descent when they saw our lights returning.
I had pressed on up the steep track above the hut but soon met Andy on his way back and we then ran down and caught up with Pam and Gill, saying that our little extra had extended our run to a nice round 6 miles. A pleasant run down the long descending track now followed and Gill and I got ahead lower down as she was enjoying the good running and Andy and Pam were slowed by troublesome injuries. We all regrouped at the last gate above Higher Lee then trotted back to Abbeystead, arriving there after an enjoyable run of about 1:20. We thought the fast group would take 1:45 to 1:50 ish but they actually returned after 1:40 and that was even after including a rougher variation on the return.
Post run refreshments were taken in the Fleece at Dolphinolme (Coniston Bluebird...mmmm) and in the absence of golden baton-holder Steve Cox, AND Grand Bat Paul Walsh it was down to me to hand over the golden baton and the double points that go with it. Martin had made a strong bid for it by retrieving Gill's running shoes from where she'd left them by the side of the car when we drove off but after much deliberation I gave it to John McHugh for gamely running with the fast pace of the leading group despite his lack of local knowledge of the route. Well, Martin is already streaking away with the Bat League and said "I don't need any extra points..."

22nd Feb – Carwags

Despite half-term holidays keeping many away, there were 16 bats out at Carwags. The bat chicks (Pam, Gill, Beverley and Ruth) took an early start and had a very pleasant chatting run round the route in about an hour and the main bunch set off at 6:30 ish, with some doing a pre run warm up prior to going for a time. There were also two duathletes out; Keith Denver and Steve Cox. Keith, on his cross bike, did 74.59, shaving another 1.12 off his previous time, despite having to dodge the bat chicks (who forgot to keep left) at one point, and Steve managed to overthrow Declan's record time of 64.04 with a new best of 62.09 (over 3 mins better than his previous time), helped by a faster changeover from bike to run. Even though he carefully stowed the bike back in the van and locked it before setting off on the run, I timed his transition at 55 seconds.
Amongst the runners, lone Superbat Marc Laithwaite continued to improve the benchmark, with another blistering run in 29.16 (a 30 second improvement) and Lee Dowthwaite is now starting to find a bit of form; he went round in 32-odd, knocking around 3 mins off his PB (exact time to be confirmed) and can surely threaten the Superbat category with a bit more quality training (and fingers crossed for the calf holding up OK). Steve Harling had said he was going for a time but I hear he had head torch trouble and had to abort, which is a pity. Meanwhile, Martin Walsh continues to improve his time - he is now consistently under 40 mins and this time shaved off another 14 seconds, posting a 38.29. Good stuff from the Grand Bat elect...
Neither John McHugh nor I were feeling particularly sparkling; I followed John at a distance most of the way round, running at a solid but not exactly scintillating pace which would probably have been just outside 40 mins but on the final climb up to the crossroads I decided to add an extra loop and turned right, down to the Visitor Centre and round to do the Dew Pond climb a third time. I pushed hard on this extra loop and this resulted in me catching up with the girls for the second time on the run in to Carwags. I slowed down to their speed, just in time for Pam to put in her sprint finish, wherupon they dashed off and left me gasping.... hmph.
The latest bat league table is attached. Martin has now reached the 100-point mark with me one point adrift on 99. Grand Bat Paul's incapacity due to an Achilles injury has resulted in his secure third place being eroded so much that he is now only one point ahead of Pam. John McHugh and Andy Farmer are close together in 5th and 6th and the remainder of the top ten is made up by Ian Cookson, Keith Denver, Gill Ponsford (2nd bat chick) and Duncan Elliott, who was absent on this occasion. Steve Cox, Shaun & Ruth Turner, and Lee Dowthwaite continue to make steady upward progress, whilst previous stalwarts such as Ian Roberts and Stew Forsyth continue to slip down, due I think to injuries and other commitments.

24th Feb – Settle Loop

Probably partly due to half-term holidays and it having been a lovely sunny day, only four dedicated bats turned out for this run, which took place on a lovely mild evening - a complete contrast to conditions encountered last year!
Martin Walsh, John McHugh and I (all top-five bats) were joined by Chris Towers and as 7pm approached it was obvious no one else ws going to arrive so we set off. We decided to do the loop clockwise, partly just for a change but also because I wanted to get the long stretch of gravel bridleway over with early on. Mindful of the hard surface I chose to wear Mizuno trail shoes of the cushty road shoe variety (Wave Mount Hood)  which was a mixed blessing once we got onto the muddy bits.
Our start was up a turf path and was supposed to be easy but the gradient soon got the circulation going (ahem) and I confess I was quite glad when we got onto the level track heading towards Malham Tarn. We settled into a steady but purposeful speed - conversation speed but only just - and this took us right across to the descending track near Langscar Gate, where we turned right and climbed up on turf paths again to Nappa Cross, in the area where the great navigational confusion occurred (in deep snow!) last year. From here we descended a stony limestone path to the road near Stockdale farm. This short stretch of road was a lot easier in the downhill direction, even with a couple of oncoming mountain bikes dazzling us with their super-bright headlights,  and we soon reached a gate on the right, where we turned off, back into fields, towards Attermire and I told the others to "prepare for mud"!
There was no chance of dry feet across here, and no chance of grip without studs, and conversation inevitably turned to discussing the grippiest of fell shoes. Chris was very satisfied with his Mudclaws, which were fresh out of the box tonight, but they were already unrecognisable under a couple of pounds of glutinous mud. If we thought this was bad, there was worse to come... After a short respite of nice turf we reached the traversing path below Victoria Cave and entered a veritable Somme. Smooth running was out of the question aong here and we simply stumbled and slipped along as best we could. I don't know why but I found myself internally humming various appropriate songs: 'Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud', 'Slip Sliding Away' and 'Skating Away'.. On the last descent of this section, as I slowed down for a gate, John and Chris bore down on me from behind and only succeeded in stopping by crashing into the wall.
Now back on the bridleway near Jubilee Cave, all that remained was a pleasant jog back down our outward route to the vehicles. Surprisingly, we had covered the Loop in 1:34, which is faster than expected, and we were soon in the Golden Lion in Settle, where we were met by Gill, who was en route from her house in Yeadon to mine in Blackburn and took a detour just to join in the bat natter. I have given her one point for this bat-spiritedness and in the interests if consistency I have done the same for Andy Crook (for Tuesday) Declan, who had a similar situation on an earlier Carwags night when he had been out doing reps on Parlick, and Andy Farmer, who has also done at least one visit to the Tillies when unable to run. Bat points are all about fostering the bat community after all.
John McHugh had the task of awarding the golden baton and it went deservingly to Martin (despite his protests). It could have gone to Martin for the distance he travels to attend these bat runs (from St Helens!) despite the fact that he could have trained earlier in the sunshine, or it could have gone to Martin for his sheer consistency in the pursuit of the bat cause, but John said (tongue in cheek) it went to Martin because he'd once again turned in a very solid performance when "at his age he should be having trouble walking"....

1st March – Carwags

24 bats turned out at Carwags last night, 4 of them on bikes (setting duathlon times) and some good performances were posted. We have now reached that time of year when it is not fully dark at 6:30pm on a clear evening and as it is normal for duathletes to set off early on their bike leg it is obvious that the early part of these outings took place in twilight. Therefore, all times set with a pre-6:30 start have had a note ("dusk") placed against them, though they have been included in the league tables. There may be a couple of anomalies here - I can't keep tabs on everyone - but if you want to avoid the "dusk" word appearing next to your time, you may need to wait until full darkness has fallen. By the end of March, this may mean a 7pm start.

Anyway, the times... Three duathletes were on the course together, and Andrew Knowles has provided the following info;

"After being stuck in the first two fields of the Bleasdale Fell Race for what felt like most of Saturday afternoon, I was determined to gain a moral boosting reasonable time at the Carwags Duathalon. Setting off with Declan at a fair pace (Steve Cox having missed the start time) we crested the trig in minutes At the foot of the Dew Pond climb for the second time Declan missed a gear so I pressed on with Steve Cox entering the circuit from my left on his first lap some 30 yards behind and splitting Declan and myself. So I was the carrot hoping I remembered the way, I’ll own up now I gave it some welly back to the carpark (in the vain hope of holding Declan off for as long as possible). A decent transition (chucked the bike in a bush) and away glancing left to see Declan flying down the road I estimated I had close to a minute lead, the legs felt terrible but gradually came to life. Over the trig, no Declan but at the bottom of the Dew Pond climb I suffered ‘mechanical failure’ with my laces and stopped to tie them, Declan swept past never to be seen again. A great three way tussle with decent times as follows.

 Andrew Knowles   62mins 15secs , Steve Cox   61mins 40  Declan O'Duffy    60mins  44
 " (time corrected from 60.55 by Bat Central as I saw Declan's stop watch!)

So, Declan regains the duathlon 'record' from Steve and a "Superduobat" title beckons for the first to knock off the 45 secs and get under the hour.

Meanwhile, Keith Denver was busy slicing another 2 minutes plus from his cyclo-cross duathlon time, posting a 72.15 and he reckons he could still take another couple of minutes off this.

Among the runners, Ian France and Shaun Turner ran round close together to post times of 38.37 and 38.39 (independently reported), and newly-established Turbobat Lee Dowthwaite and perennial Turbobat Clive Davis swept round together in just over the 33 minute mark - good running! Martin Walsh also improved his time -yet again - to under 38 minutes.
Debbie Cooper paced Phil Martin to a new PB of 43.57 while Sara Farmer did a great individual effort to knock about half a minute off her previous time only to realise a short way into the run that she hadn't set her stopwatch. So the old time still stands. D'oh.
I delayed my start until almost 6:40 then set off, lightly clad (in shorts!), to see if I could better my 37.55, which was set rather half-heartedly before Christmas. I felt good until the first time up Dew Pond but had obviously set off too fast as I suffered on every climb thereafter. As I laboured up to the top of Larch Avenue, I spied a light catching me from behind. It was Declan, on his Duathlon run and actually on his way to recording 33.14 for the run leg (his fastest run time of the winter). Despite a couple of spells of legless walking on the second time up Dew Pond I managed to stay ahead of Declan until the crossroads when he swept by. I made a couple of big efforts on the descent and narrowed the gap each time but I couldn't keep up the required pace and arrived back at Carwags 30 or 40 yards adrift but with a new season's best of 37.10. Damn good training too!!!
I think that's all the times that were reported to me. There are still a couple more opportunities to reduce your posted time before the bat league ends.
Pam is now up to 3rd in the Bat League with Gill in 8th. This is the first time we have ever had a bat chick in the top three and only the second time we have had two in the top ten. Good stuff girls!
Bat Central
Posted: Wed 2nd Mar 2011