Sunday, 10 April 2016

Highlights from the Plodder Spring

Hi Plodders, it brings me great pleasure to bring you this update on such a fun-filled day!  But before coming to the sunny Sheffield half, I want to mention three plodders whose achievements have yet to be sung.  

Spring it!
In chronological order first up is Martyn, who ran a fantastic Grindleford Gallop in 02:33:14 and finished in fifth place.  

Martyn, not at the Gallop
(but probably looking much the same)
Next up is Andrew, who not content with achieving his own PB in the Gallop went on to run the Edale Skyline the very next day.  In his own words: "I thought I was dying".  

Andrew, philosophical about his fate.  (C) Mark Fermer
And finally in Rhoda we have the year's first Plodder on a Podium! I'll let her say a bit about it:

Cake and medals for the FIRST LADY
With entries restricted to 60 the inaugural Bolton Abbey marathon organised by 'it's grim up north' was a low key, friendly event. Part of a weekend festival including 5k & 10k races and half, full & ultra marathons. The perfectly situated cafe was ideal for supporters to cheer runners on several times during the race whilst spending most of their time drinking tea/coffee in the warm. The beautiful setting of Bolton Abby, the river Wharfe and the surrounding sheep fields was stunning & meant that despite the marathon involving 3 laps it was far from boring. The weather was perfect running weather - cold but dry. Members of the public also enjoying the Bolton Abbey estate footpaths were very polite & encouraging to runners & the atmosphere was friendly & fun. The small numbers and undulating trail meant that the not so impressive sounding time of 4:05 gave me a First Lady trophy! The post race fruit cake was good too! If they do it again next year it'd be a great fun weekend out for plodders so let's all go & have some fun running & cheering each other along.

(We've also had other fun at Hope Winter Fell Race and a dazzling day at Wolf's Pit, but it's 11pm so I'm going to skip those)

On to today's Yorkshire-but-we-all-know-it's-really-Sheffield Half Marathon:

Plodders!  Also running were Andy, John W, and Kev R, but they didn't get the memo
Standing in the start press, shoulder-to-shoulder with 5948 other people, I listened to the disembodied voice of an overly-enthusiastic woman repeatedly counting down from 3 and telling us to lunge.  This led to several false starts and some unwelcome body contact.  Now I don't do many road races so I can only assume this routine was intended to make us relieved, when we were eventually released, to be racing up a 5.4 mile hill and back down again.  It worked, as these happy Plodders show:

Picked out in particularly pro focus, worthy of George himself
Once underway, the rest of the race was fantastic.  I can't say the hill was easy, but it certainly wasn't as much of a drag as I had anticipated.  On a calm sunny day a traffic-free Ringinglow Road was a lovely ridge run out to the edge of the Peak District.  Keeping the pace up on the long way back was pretty tough - fortunately I had some extra-fermented out-of-date energy gel to keep me going, courtesy of Cal.  I'm still getting intermittent palpitations.  

More photos of Plodders on the way back down:

There were some great scores on the doors, with PBs for Cal, Mandy, David, Charlie, Martyn, Hannah, Kate, Steve, Kev, Helen and Tonks.  Sophie also ran her debut Half in 02:05:00, which she was thrilled with largely because it's a nice neat number.  With so many runners and no facility to search the results by affiliation, I'm afraid I can't bring you the full list - if I've missed anyone let me know.

But what absolutely made the day for everyone was the amount of support along the way.  Thank you to Julian, Lex & family, Colin, Rob, Andrew, Claire, and everyone else who turned out to shout "come on Porter Valley!"  In a fell run you're generally considered lucky if a scowling farmer leaning on a nearby gatepost nods at you.  This was completely different: the atmosphere at Ringinglow and then on the way down through Whirlow, Silver Hill, Banner Cross and Hunters Bar was phenomenal. 

Super supporters, but not quick on the gel draw
So well done to everyone - it's been an excellent start to the year.  But now it's April, and I'll race you to the hills...let the fell running commence!  

Sunday, 24 January 2016

What are you planning this year?

Hello everyone, welcome to the first plog of 2016.

I'd like to give a special welcome to all my Ukranian fans: Google statistics show that you're 242% more interested in this page than my UK audience.  Why?

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
Ukrainians love the plog

I haven't written about October, November or December 2015 so those months must forever go unremembered in Plodding history.  Perhaps not such a bad thing: apparently there were only 33.2 hours of sunshine in Sheffield recorded in December 2015.  Everybody go and get yourselves some Vitamin D.

Sheffield, December 2015

January has brought loads of new Plodders and we're delighted to see them!  It's also brought some novelty snow, some much-needed sunshine and crisp, clear plods up to the moor.  

Rudd Hill.  Nightfall.  Snow.

Now that 2016's here we've all got to start getting real about our plans - and what a range of plans there are!  We've got members who are: aiming at their first half marathons, entering iconic Yorkshire races, training for sub-3 hour marathons, cutting off the seconds to get sub-18 parkruns, mounting bikes and buying wetsuits for triathlons (including a budding iron man), returning to favorite local fell races, forming vague and over-ambitious plans for 100+ ultramarathons, and psyching themselves up for Scottish races over big spikey hills...and more.  If any of that sounds remotely interesting then do come along: The Greystones, 1830, every Wednesday.

Burbage Valley, courtesy of Lex
Right, I do hope all the pictures have disguised the lack of content this month.  Take care everyone and see you Wednesday.

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Glencoe Skyline

Today's post from Plodders who were insane enough to take on this 33-mile skyrace with 13,900 feet of ascent:


Glencoe is a different sort of fell race, more hills, more climbing (both ascent and the rocky variety), more corporate flags and cowbells. In its first year it had drawn a good field with a mix of locals and some European visitors (complete with de-rigueur orange euro trousers), good lot of local support as well with people at the check points and along the route.

Somewhat bizarrely the route started with a 5km flat run, before a monster que up curved ridge to the top of Buachaille Etive Mor. An up and down over Buachaille Etive Berg led to a big slog up Biddean and Lochan, then down like Alice down a very slippery rabbit hole, to a much needed break at the road. Followed by the really big climb up to the start of the Aonach Eagach ridge. All day the Glencoe landscape looked like something out of Lord of the Rings with cloud moving in and out and  flowing over the Aonach Eagach ridge. The weather was pretty good, cloudy but mostly dry, not too warm or windy. The route finished off with a long rolling descent off Aonach Eagch followed by a repeat of the flat 5km to finish.

Rob got round in 10 hrs 40 mins despite getting stuck at the back of the train on curved ridge, I was going well to the end of Aonach Eagach, but struggled a bit from there and arrived back about an hour later. It was a great race, really well organised, solid field (very evenly pace, it only get really spread out after Aonach Eagch) and an amazing route.


I took things easy at the start and had to politely queue my way up Curved Ridge (very British). It was frustrating, but at least it forced me to pace myself. 

Queuing on Curved Ridge
From there things unfolded and it was as stunning as anticipated. Bidean is the highest point and near here there is a rocky out and back section. I was pleased to spot John just ahead, which spurred me on to catch him up. We ran together for a bit, which was great and felt like we were back on the BG. The big climb onto Aonach Eagach went on for ever and then, even in a very tired state, the section along the ridge, with a half inversion, was utterly brilliant.  

Half inversion on Aonach Eagach
After that, there was still a fair way to go and I slowed, though not drastically. Hitting the road with 4 miles left inevitably drew further parallels to the BG, though it couldn’t have felt more different. This made things particularly sweet and I savoured the glow as I approached the finish.  A special day and great to share it with a fellow plodder – well done John on a solid round.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Summer Plodding

Hello plod fans, I've got many and varied activities from the Plodders in this update.  Well, actually not that varied: it's all running.

Plodders on a Burbage away day.

Long and Half Tours of Bradwell

First up are the Bradwell races.  Martyn, Rhoda and the Plogger competed in the full tour (33 miles, 6300 feet ascent) and Maeve, Andrew, Sam B, Sam C and Susan all did the half tour (16 miles, 3000 feet).  The routes were both excellent, covering well-known Peakland favourite spots as well as some surprising nooks of the Hope valley.

The Long Tour
It was a very hot day and in the 9am sun we were all perspiring extravagantly; fortunately it clouded over after a couple of hours and a light breeze made conditions more comfortable.  The Plogger started far too fast (I should have known since I was running with Martyn) and consequently what was intended to be a fun summer amble turned into a hellish ordeal of nausea and collisions with trees.  Purple kudos to Sam B who was recovering from a recent injury: it's great to have you back running again, Sam!

This is what Rhoda made of it:

With a warm & sunny forecast we stocked up on sun cream, sun hats, water & electrolytes. Registration was made more fun by a reunion with our long lost club founder, Simon, who was running the half. After a final failed attempt to persuade halfers to upgrade to the long tour, Martyn, Tonks & Rhoda set of for the long tour start. The half tour start followed half an hour later with Andrew, Sam B, Sam C, Maeve & Susan running. 
The stunning views all the way round rewarded our efforts in climbing. The morning started with a long slog up behind the quarry the the steep decent of Cave Dale which was wet & slippy even on the sunny August day. Up to this point Martyn & Tonks kept up with one of the fastest in the field but regretted their speedy start later. We then went through Castleton & up to Back Tor. The long tour route also took in Hollins Cross, down to Edale, up Ringing Roger, down again & then up Back Tor. 
From there we ran along the ridge to Loose Hill & down into Hope. Here Sam B retired abandoning Andrew who he'd been running with up to then to struggle on alone. Sam B's major achievement was getting to the start line after his accident. It's great to see him running again & we're all impressed with his brave recovery. 
Those of us still running pressed on from Hope up part of Win Hill, down to Ladybower & along the Thornhill trail. This stretch involved some crossover between long & half tour runners & the temptation for long tour runners to return to Bradwell with the half tour. But the long tour runners were not much more than half way round when the half tour plodders finished with some impressive times & rankings. Simon was 8th & Andrew 19th. Maeve was 9th women with Susan not far behind & Sam C safely round in good time too. 
Whilst they relaxed at the finish, 3 plodders plodded on in the long tour. Up from Bamford to Stanage & Burbage challenged our physical & mental strength. Tonks considered retiring but pushed on. Rhoda teamed up with another runner (Steve) for moral support. We were all encouraged by the support of the marshals at Burbage. On down to Padley gorge & along the River to Leadmill brought us to the final manned check point. Here the radio football news & lots of squash helped keep dehydration at bay before we pressed on to Abney. Up from Abney along the track over the moor was a slow plod for tired legs despite the relatively flat terrain. The view from the top of Bradwell edge was as welcome as it was beautiful. The steep drop was straight down once we managed to ignore the tape left over from a previous race enticing us back up the hill. Finally we ran down through Bradwell to the finish where we were greeted with cups of tea & soup & joined the happy tired finishers. 
Martin came 7th despite over stretching himself at the beginning. Tonks finished 22nd after what he called the toughest race of his life. But how many other new doctors ran a 33 mile ultra at the end of their first week at work? Rhoda finished 38th (8th woman). Impressive running all round. So who's joining us next year?

Scores on the doors:

7     6:06:38    Martyn J
22   6:45:34    Tonks
38   7:33:54    Rhoda  (8th lady)

19   2:37:42    Andrew R
38   3:06:18    Maeve (9th lady)
55   3:13:53    Susan (12th lady)
80   3:51:29    Sam C (23rd lady)
-      dnf          Sam B

The Whirlow (Dig Deep) Races

The Whirlow races are a bit of a home ground favourite of the club, although this year was a bit quieter for us than usual.  HW did the 10km trail race in 01:02:30 (88th) and Cal did the 12.12 in 02:02:52 (72nd).  Sorry there are no photos of you, I couldn't find any!  Everybody else seemed to be having a good time though, like this guy:

Northumberland Coastal Marathon

Last up is this old chestnut, although once more we were a bit thinner on the ground than previously: the question on everybody's lips was "where are the plodders?"  Well, Martyn was back to defend his title as the reining champion.  I don't think he managed this, but frankly that's probably a good thing because after his BGR success this summer winning the marathon again would have looked a bit keen.

The Northumberland Costal Marathon.  The photographer was late.
Some times:

3     3:14:03     Martyn
10   3:46:11     Julian
47   4:49:11     Anna (12th lady)

The Future

In the next Plog you can look forward to hearing about how two purple demons took on a race described by Steve Franklin as "the race with the highest chance of dying I've ever done": the Salomon Glencoe Skyline.  Also, the heather's starting to bloom so the moors will be wearing our colour.