|Mountains, mist and magic.|
Amazing. Just Amazing.
I have just been with Sally as she birthed Louis at home, with no pain relief, in a pool in our room. Her body has prepared for 9 months, her mind also. In a beautiful harmony she mixes raw emotion with natural highs, rises and falls down contractions, up one side, down the other.
Amazing. Just Amazing.
What might I be capable of? Where are my limits? How might I find them?
A long distance triathlon follows, then an ironman. While training for the ironman I complete the lake district tough ones such as Helvellyn and Coniston Old Man. A light bulb goes off somewhere in my head. Mountain running, I didn't know, but once I knew how could I not know that mountain running is what I love to do?
August 12th, 2012 - The Bob Graham Round, 42 mountain tops, 66 miles, 28,500 feet of climb, 23 hours and 49 minutes. I found my moment at Pillar, down on 24 hours with only one and a half legs to go I found what I was looking for. How to look deep inside yourself and push through the voices saying no, how to rise to the occasion and take control when all seems lost, how to endure.
August 26th, 2014 - UTMB, 105 miles, 28,500 feet of climb, 41 hours 14 minutes. What a race, I found myself again pushing on when all was lost. When I could not take another step, I took another and another.
August 1st, 2015 - The Paddy Buckley Round, 47 mountain tops, 66 miles 28,500 feet of climb, 23 hours 48. I knew this was going to be harder than anything I had done previously. I joined a friend on a recce of his out of Ogwen after a few months out of the mountains. At the top of the first climb I realised that here was what I loved still, and a new challenge awaited. Recce after recce after recce. Morning training runs intensified and attention to detail was everything from weekly feet of climb to diet. I spent the last 9 hours of the round itself working out if I was going to do it and promising myself that this was so hard I would never do anything like it again. Within half an hour of finishing, in the car on the way back home, I resolved to complete the Charlie Ramsay Round.
August 14th, 2016 - The Charlie Ramsay Round, 24 Munro's, 56 miles, 28,500 feet of climb, 23 hours 40 minutes. For this one I knew I had to raise my game again. Significantly. Further away, I knew I would get only a limited window of opportunity for success, organising a team would be difficult and weather conditions would need to be taken as they were. I needed to be strong enough to complete in all but conditions that would endanger others. An absolute conviction to the cause, to the finest detail over 7 months of planning and training after recovering from falling off my bike during the Three Peaks Cyclo Cross race in September and major shoulder ligament reconstruction surgery in November. I trained to be strong enough to complete in any conditions. Weekly track sessions now included to raise my slowest speed over longer distances. It was just as well as cloudy, wet and windy conditions prevailed for much of the 24 hours and I drew on the strength I had earned to complete.
For the UK Big 3 each one I completed was harder than the one before, requiring better planning and more attention to detail. I completed each one at my first attempt and I will be on the list of Big 3 finishers at number 44. That's an exclusive list of long distance fell runners. I am not a National Champion, I have won only one race in my short running career (Hardcastle 12 Hour endurance Race), I am Bingley Harriers Fell Champion 2016 and I do not figure at the sharp end of fell races.
But I love running.
I am not a mountain runner, a fell runner, a cross country runner, a track runner, a fun runner, a racer or any other of the boxes that people who I know and don't know seem to love to put people in.
But I love running.
I am a runner.
And if there's one thing I've learnt over the past few years it's that for me running, above anything and everything else I know, respects inputs with outputs. What you put in you get back with bells on and the fun part is not the end event or race but finding out what works along the way. It's about finding the joy of the running you are doing in the moment you are doing it and letting it lift you up, a transformative process each and every time.