From ShAFF to Japan, via Pendle Hill...

Last weekend saw the annual outdoors-fest that is Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) take place at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield. As always it was a fantastic and inspirational event, and I'm very proud to have been a ShAFF ambassador once again (just look at the other people on the list!).

On Sunday I gave a talk with superfast ultra runner Marcus Scotney. As well as being able to run really quickly, Marcus is a sport therapist and the director of the Accelerate Performance Centre, the newly re-vamped and rebranded part of the Accelerate / Holywell sports therapy centre. It's the centre that is now looking after us supported athletes, which is fantastic news and I'm very excited to be involved! Marcus and I spoke about running your first ultra and covered topics such as food, kit, planning, training and the mental approach. Marcus certainly knows more about most of these topics so I'm afraid he had to do most of the work, but I contributed a bit, and learnt a few things too!

Talking at ShAFF with Marcus Scotney
Also at ShAFF was a really interesting project from the University of Sheffield, run by another elite runner, this time Oli Johnson. The project is called the Museum of the Great Outdoors, and aims to "explore the unique relationship between Sheffield, the Peak District and its diverse communities of users, and to capture the history, heritage, culture and creativity of the outdoor community in all its manifestations." They had a great stand at the festival, including a mud garden for kids to play in... There's more about the project at www.mogo.org.uk - worth a look.


But before all that, on Saturday, I ran my first short fell race for quite a while - and as far as I can think, my first English Championships race ever. Pendle Hill fell race is about 4 miles long, with 500m of ascent and descent. We started from the village of Barley with a chaotic rugby scrum of a run along a track, then began the first climb. My race basically went well on the climbs, reasonably on the descents, and badly on anything flat-ish... The first climb went well and I was able to move to the left hand edge of the stream of runners and pass a few, moving me up to perhaps somewhere around 30th position. Next we had a rocky contouring descent on which I just tried not to lose any places, then the second climb, this time up to the summit. Again I felt good and tried to push on up one side of the main path - this time it was too slippery and didn't work. On this climb I was very surprised to pass Stuart Bond, clearly not having a great day. At the summit trig we had all spread out a little more, but I knew I was close to Dave Taylor and Jonny Malley, with Nic Barber close behind.
Descending off Pendle Hill

I tried to push on and catch Dave but just couldn't get any closer on the descent. Pretty soon Nic passed me, as effortlessly did Mr. Bond once we reached the flat at the bottom. I was struggling a bit now, with one last little climb to go. I grunted and gritted my teeth up the hill and finally the finish came into view... Not a great run, particularly as I lost one position just before the finish end ended up 51st!

As a club we had some great results though, particularly Rhys who finished 8th and Rob Little in 15th - top results in a stacked championships field. The winner was Tom Addison in 32:55, my time was 38:04, 10 seconds behind Dave, 12 behind Nic and 16 behind Jonny!

Mount Fuji, wow!
I called this post "From ShAFF to Japan, via Pendle Hill...". It's getting quite long now and I should probably go and do some work, but I'm very excited to very quickly tell you that it looks like I will be running the 67th annual Mt. Fuji race on 25th July. Very conveniently, the final international conference I will be taking part in for my PhD is in Tokyo just afterwards, so I am able to travel to Japan once and take part in the race and the conference. I'll post full details of the race once it's confirmed, but it's not going to be easy - the route is about 21km long and has around 3000m of ascent.

Oh, and just a couple more things... I'm off to Interlaken soon to film an advert for Dogtag insurance, and I'll be racing the 46km course at the Matterhorn Ultraks at the end of August. More on all of these (and final Fellsman preparations) coming soon... What a year 2014 is turning out to be!

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