Wednesday, 31 January 2018

2017 Year of...

Plans are all in place for 2018 but nostalgia beckons and a 2017 recap is required.
The Year started well with training going well in those winter months. We headed down to Cornwall and did the Lands End peninsula (SWCP#7) in storms and sun to finally start heading eastwards home.
Got my running boots on in february and comfortable managed the Devils Punchbowl 30miler which was pleasing. 
A quick turnaround and the Micro gang headed somewhere new to the Cambrian Mountains for a weekends bothying.. beautifully remote but i was glad i took my tent as the snorers were in good voice in the cramp huts.
A last minute injury to someone gave me a slot with a team running the High Peaks Marathon. I jumped at the chance, another tester to see how my fitness was. This was not a marathon but 42miles around the Peak District starting at midnight. 15 hours later we trudged in completely satisfied. What a race, didn't get in for 2018 - bugger.
To rest up I went skiing in the Vanoise, France. It was warm and not a great deal of snow. We did manage a days touring and had the longest night freezing in our summer bags at 3000m. Never again. The skiing was fun and have converted to big fat skis - the bigger the better.
I picked up my running in April culminating in the Oxon 40 miler, a lovely run amongst the bluebells. A micro in Dartmoor in the best of weathers really made it a glorious month. Spring is the best time.
A relaxed May. Another section of the SW Coast Path (SWCP#8) around the Penzance penisula. Lola got to meet Tonys dogs for the first time. Didn't go down too well with them constantly trying to steal her food.
To make it up we all took a holiday back down to Cornwall staying at Gwithian. Perfect beaches, strolls and days to de-stress the girls.
June brought my first big race of the year the Krako100k. This was in Czech. I meet up with the Ultra gang in Prague (they are Czech) so plans were easy to get to the mountains and start the race. Apart from taking a couple of wrong turns (losing a couple of hours) and the wind on the tops it was a good race. Easy to get to , cheap once we were here and a couple of days to relax in Prague. Not bad but, I need to keep the boys away from garlic.

With never too much on in the summer it was time to make up my own training plans to keep the mileage high and fitness there. An enjoyable 30 mile run from Littlehampton to Shoreham via the South Downs. A quick trip to North Wales for some mountain training. Back south in the Purbecks to do my classic Jurassic Coast and 37miles this time. 
I now felt ready for my big race of the year - The Ridgeway86 miler. Due to not getting into the ballot of 3 races I focused on just a 'nice easy' local race. It didn't disappoint, a superb race, great people and fantastic volunteers. 

With the race out of the way and my ankles not the best I toned down the training and enjoyed the remaining few months. A nice paddle down the Wye and a holiday to Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. We have done all the Islands now and so have to figure out where to take the dog next year!!
Getting back from Cornwall I turned around and headed right back to do some more Coastal Path (SWCP#9) and finally hitting the halfway point. Over 20days and 300miles, each mile and day an amazing experience with great friends and scenery.
For some reason I decided to do another run, a LDWA event in the Surrey Hills, a good run in a beautiful place.
I also got into swimming and now have grand plans to push myself in this sport and am looking at SwimRun and open water events to do. Shame it is another sport that starts cheap and then becomes expensive.
Before the year ran out we managed to sneak in another trip down to Cornwall (SWCP#10). Now in double figures for trips down here!! How many more.? And we finally left Cornwall and are now in Devon. The drive down is getting slightly less thankfully.

Over Christmas I ran with some Local runners who are interested in trail running and a few beers so I hope to have a few more sociable runs in 2018.

So what for 2018.. already doing the Maderia, Lakeland and UTMB Ultras. These are my main ones so plenty of training inbetween and I may try and do some open water swimming if I can decide on a wetsuit and get down to Devon for more Coastal Path and Micro adventures.

Shame these all come around too quick and go by too fast - memories are everything.

2017 Best Pictures

Ridgeway 86 Ultra Run

Non-stop 86 miles on the Ridgeway.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Krako 100km Ultra

100km Ultra in the Czech Rep with the Maxi boys...

Krako100 from Andy Humphrey on Vimeo.

Vanoise Ski

Ski Touring in the Vanoise (French Alps).. Plus skiing in La Plagne, Les Arcs and Pralognan.

Vanoise Ski 2017 from Andy Humphrey on Vimeo.

High Peak Marathon

High Peak Marathon, which is actually a 42 mile Ultra around The Peaks overnight.

High Peak Marathon 2017 from Andy Humphrey on Vimeo.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 wipe

The year started with a concerted effort to train more, run more. It started well with a highest monthly mileage for almost 2 years. Then we went skiing. Another classic in the Italian Aosta valley where it sure did snow. We explored the area and fell in love even more with this area (excluding Courmeyer ski resort which always disappoints) but the local remote places were hidden gems and some magical tours and descents. Only on the last day for me to inflame my knee again skinning in the deep powder.
So my training dipped when i got home along with the post trip cold. This did give me a chance to relax and say a fond farewell to our local pub 'The Farmy' which i had been frequenting for 25 years. A sad day.
It got sadder when for a brief moment in time we thought we would lose our soulmate Lola to Alabama Rot. Days of worry turned to hope then joy as our baby was not taken too soon and now we enjoy each and everyday with her. Although sometimes I wonder...
In April we headed up to the Yorkshire Peaks to tackle The Fellsman a 64mile route in the high peaks. Having a mild fever and forgetting my running shoes!! Decided for us that we were never going to finish this one. And so with night falling I had my first DNF after 35miles. The beers and curry sure made up for this disappointment though.
The force was with me in May, I ran hard, slogged through a couple of Ultras (Brecons, Marlborough) and culminated in a trip to France and the Annecy Maxi 86km and meet up with the old gang and chilled out after a tough race on Lake Geneva.
June was a nice time to relax although we did venture up to North Wales and have another go at the Welsh 3000s. We bivvied at the top of Snowdon with what looked like 100s of others. The wind was up and the weather foul. The dogs were not impressed once we hunkered down deep into our bivi bags. 4 hours of restless sleep and we set off on one of the great challenges in the UK. Over 12 hours later we finished, slowed up by a nagging injury to Dave. An awesome day shared with the dogs Next time i'll aim for under 10hours.
A trip to Cornwall and the Scilly isles hiking the great coastlines, beaches and eating fudge and pasties. Whats not to like. Maybe the ferry crossing, 3 hours doing your best not to be sick.

Finally it was time to concentrate in July and August and get some high mileage in. 100km from Ham to Lyme. 40miles on the Jurassic coast (finally completed Bournemouth to Weymouth, a long time goal of mine) and some vertical training with tough circuits on the mountainous Snowdonia range.

Then UTMB. 

The biggest challenge to date. 105 miles around Mont Blanc with 10,000m vert. 41 hours later I was descending into Chamomix. Ecstatic, elated, still awake and stumbling along with my poor wrecked feet. I came close to quitting after 20hrs. Persevered and overcame a resounding mental and physical breakdown to embrace the next 20 hours with renewed vigour and determination to finish.
Back home it was time to relax after a tough summer and enjoy a holiday in Devon walking the endless beaches and dunes with the dog. Something i could do each and everyday.

Keeping the remainder of the year simple we managed to tick off another couple of parts of the SWCP. In October we completed Port Issac to Porthcothan, a stunning area of rugged coastline, pretty villages and perfect sandy beaches. Then just over Xmas in perfect winter weather we did the stretch from Bedruthan Steps down to Hayle. One of the best and now Lands End is in sight.

A packed year shared with good friends and my best friend. Many miles in boots and over 1100 in running shoes.

Plans are already in place for next year. More running around Mt Blanc my thought are I may as well do all the races they have on offer there. I did not get into Western States and so we will hopefully tackle the GR20 route in Corsica. More Micro adventures and plenty walks on the beach.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

UTMB 2016

UTMB 2016 - a magical unique race.. The biggest Challenge.

UTMB from Andy Humphrey on Vimeo.

Race day dragged with us waking early to wish good luck to Claus in the CCC race and then having to check out of hotel and wait in the lobby resting up. I had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that i was not 100%. A sore throat and headache - was this nerves or the start of a cold that seems to follow me on race days.
We huddled at the start-line with reportable 2555 UTMB runners. 6pm came and we all funneled through the inflatable start and into the streets of Chamonix with 1000's of supporters wishing us Bon Chance.
Here we go.
It's hard to describe the feelings after the event but the apprehension, the excitement, the unknown. Was I really here running the UTMB, a 105mile race around the toughest terrain in the alps. Something so un-achievable only a few years back. Yes I was and it felt exhilarating.
This first section was nice and steady with runners jostling about but I was happy to take it as easy as possible.
We had a long way to go.
Then it was up Les Houches ski area and down into St Gervais. Then a continuing up Les Contamines Valley all through-out the night.
Day broke high up crossing the border from France into Italy. A memorable sight up, Mt Blanc over one shoulder and looking down into the cloud inverted valley.
The next climb I started to struggle, unsure why but i felt lethargic and had nothing in the tank all i could do is step forward taking it steady hoping it would pass. Pass it would but it took another 5 hours. I can only put this low moment down to a combination of factors. An onset of a cold, staying up high for many hours as my body fought this infection and any effort on the uphills brought instant breathlessness.
With luck after this hill it was a long steep down all the way to Courmeyer. The dust did not help but a I took a well deserved break and changed a few things (good and bad). I should not off changed my socks or put compeeds on my blisters/hotspots.
After some food and an hour and a half!!! How did that time pass. I set off wishing for a better second half of the race. Passing a chemist I nipped in and bought some throat sweets, these were a saviour for the rest of the race.
A routine slog uphill in the mid day sun. Temperatures were over 30'C and it was affecting us all. I had to stop and rest several times and was totally deflated especially watching tons of people just easily walk past me.
My mind kept contemplating quitting. If i had no energy, no motivation then how could i run for another whole day?
On one of my rests here I opened up my Bill-tong and ate. Now this did not taste of dried meat but pure salt!! Which got me thinking that I was lacking in a few minerals. From here i regimently took a salt tablet every hour and each Aid Station put a load of tailwind in one of my water bottles. This seemed to do the trick for heading up the valley I started to perk up and enjoyed the environment and stopped thinking about quitting.
With the day still hot I crawled up the Col Ferret with the knowledge that a long descent awaited and once in Switzerland there was only 3 more mountains to climb.
You sort one thing out something else will bug you. This is what happens in long races.
The long descent highlighted that my toes were not in the best condition. Socks may have been partly to blame but I'd put my money on the constant rock kicking. Try as I can it was only a matter of time before I slammed my foot into another low outcropping rock. These were painful (at least I never broke a toe or fell over) and slowly damaged away at my tender feet.
Another hour spent at La Fouly, time sure goes quick when you should be rushing. Although on the way out of town I stopped at the medical tent just to borrow some tape and they insisted on looking at my foot (I only told them one hurt). A few screams later the Dr gave up trying to remove my small toe nail and taped it up. Hobbling out I contemplated a long 60km to go. But within 5 minutes the pain subsided and I had a rush of energy and ran and ran down the valley into the night and an amazing thunderstorm.
I had a good night, felt great and never too tired, although my headphones packed up and so I had no music for company. My feet were now starting to hurt constantly. A shame as I really wanted to push on the parts that were runable but I could only tread lightly.
Another long pit stop at Trient. Again i went to the medical area, they were too busy and so i started to walk out only for a Dr to stop me and insist she take a look at my foot (the other one). I had compeeded my big toe (run out of tape) and this had to come off, slowly and very very painfully. After I thought I had gone through enough pain another more intense pain ran through my body. She had only injected my blister/bruise with iodine. Ouch! that is something I do not recommend.
Limping out of the tent I hoped that the pain would subside like last time and I would have bundles of energy for this last section.
It didn't materialise.
I enjoyed moving but was frustrated with my lack of pace. In and out of the last main aid station I witnessed my second day break and final hill to climb. This went in no time with a pleasant chat with an Australian woman. On top of the Aiguilles with breathtaking views across to the Mt Blanc massif the finish was in sight and after doing a quick interview with a TV camera crew I stumbled through Flegere and down into Chamonix. It descends a long way but you cannot help yourself in putting in a strong finish especially arriving into town and the crowds cheering you and high fiving the kids.
The finish line was a joy to cross. Elation and happiness all the doubts and worry put aside for no matter how well prepared and ready you are you always have a significant self doubt hanging over you that's its not possible to finish.
Finish I did and I enjoyed it with friends and a beer.

UTMB in 41hrs47mins. 170km/105miles over 10000m going up and again going down (and don't my feet know it).

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Welsh 3000s

Welsh 3000ers - 30miles, 4000m +/- in 12.5hrs

W3000ers from Andy Humphrey on Vimeo.

Thursday, 9 June 2016