The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge route leaves Pooley Bridge to traverse 30 summits over a distance of 48 miles and climbs 17,000 feet (77km, 5182m).

The inaugural run from Pooley Bridge to Wasdale was made by Joss Naylor in 1990, at the age of 54; in very bad weather with heavy rain and a strong SW wind Joss completed the run to Greendale Bridge in 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Chris Brasher offered engraved pewter tankards to the first 20 runners to do so with the proviso that they raised at least £100 for a charity of their own choice. In January 1997, with 17 tankards already awarded, Chris extended his sponsorship. In 2001, with 33 tankards awarded, Joss secured on-going sponsorship for the tankards.

The challenge is offered to fell runners over the age of 50 to complete the run in set times according to their age group. The challenge is intended to be a "supported run" for individuals - each contender is to be accompanied on every leg for safety reasons and unaccompanied attempts will not be recognised. There is more information on the Challenge Details page below.

If you are interested, please have a look at the Challenge Details, download a schedule or contact me using the "Email Ian Charters" form below.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Ray Maynard (M60) - 20 May 2017

It all started about 20 years ago after I had completed the Bob Graham Round, people asking “what next?” I had heard about the Joss Naylor Challenge of course, but… I was 10 years too young so it was pencilled in for when I was fifty, however, due to continuous running related injuries I was unable to do it then. Fast forward to 2017, my 60th year. Finishing work gave me more flexibility and allowed me to manage my training more effectively. So it looked like it was on.

With the training getting done without too many setbacks I set the date and started to assemble the team. My family were all very keen to be involved as well as my running friends from Sunderland Strollers. A few other generous folk, who were familiar with the route were also drafted in – thanks Ken.

Following the 18 hour schedule the aim was to do the first two legs, at or just ahead of time and if I felt OK to push on a little. And so it was.
After a brief photo shoot on the bridge we set off at exactly 5.00am. Mal, Steve, Sally, Max the spaniel and myself. Mal missing the turning straight after the bridge – well he did say he didn’t want to navigate! The weather was dry and bright, which was better than the forecast indicated, but we could see clouds shrouding the tops beyond Ullswater. I had recced part of this section during the week before in very strong winds and heavy rain, thinking if the weather’s like this it will be nigh on impossible to get round.

Good progress was made and the first few tops as far as Raven Howe were ticked off more or less on schedule. Climbing up to High Raise we encountered cloud, but visibility wasn’t too bad at this point. As we progressed though the weather deteriorated. Between Thornthwaite Beacon and Stoney Cove Pike we got separated and had to shout to keep in touch. Just after the summit heavy rain and hail came in so it was waterproofs on. We made decent time to Pike Howe and Kirkstone after that, being 26 minutes up.

The crew – Maria, Lauren & Karen were there in the rain to meet us along with Carly, Sean and Molly the cockerpoo - the ‘official’ photographers.

They had set up earlier but had to dismantle it all when the wind and rain came in, then one mad dash to set up again as we emerged almost unseen out of the mist and lashing rain. Porridge and coffee were enjoyed, I had been looking forward to that all morning. After some clothing adjustments we were ready for the off when someone tipped the umbrella I was under, pouring water down the back of my neck – thanks Ken.
Mal, Sally and Max were leaving us at this point, being replaced by Matt who had had to do some last minute hill training (not easy in London) for the event and Paddy who is getting the miles in prior to doing the Lakeland 50 in July. The rain was easing off as we went up Red Screes at the start of this short but relatively tough leg. It was misty again higher up and we had to be careful with the navigation. We took some good lines and kept ahead of schedule. In the Fairfield area there was an organised walk in full swing with lots of participants all over the place. Some moving quite well, others struggling and being assisted by their colleagues. Over Seat Sandal and down the steep descent to Dunmail Raise I was able to push on a little, getting to the road 48 minutes up.

The crew were there to feed and water us. The layby was really busy – obviously something else going on, it turned out to be a BGR attempt by the USA’s Meghan Hicks. Pork pies and soup were on the menu here, then a quick change of shoes for the rocky ground ahead. Steve, Matt and Paddy had all done their bit and were replaced by Ken, Dale, Chris and Ashleigh.

This is the leg where I was going to push on if I felt up to it and that’s what we did. It was slow going up Steel Fell but with Dale knowing the best lines we made good progress thereafter. Going towards Rossett Pike we were running alongside competitors on the Old Counties Tops Race. A good route up Bowfell followed and the next couple of tops were ticked off comfortably. Ken and myself descended Great End quickly arriving at Sty Head 2hrs 10 minutes up.

A different support crew here, Bob and Malcolm had come up from the valley with supplies of food and drink and they were getting cold waiting about so they were glad to see us and get on their way. Chris returned to Borrowdale with them. Paul and Jenna who were running the last leg, had started up Great Gable before we arrived, again because of the cold. We expected to meet up with them on the summit but there was no sign of them in the mist so we pushed on quickly down the scree to Beck Head, Dale cutting his hand on the descent. Jenna and Paul were on their way up Kirkfell in the distance, then they disappeared into the mist, thankfully we all met up near the summit.

Paul and I had recced this leg previously and had descended by the ‘path’ following the fence line, which was not very pleasant. So we used Red Gully as an alternative, which I had forgotten about and not used since my BGR attempt. Descending Red Gully my knees started to give me bother so the going was a lot slower than I would have liked. Once at the col I got my walking poles out and was fed some pain killers. It was slow going to the top but we got there in the end and then on to Scoat Fell. Jenna came to steeple with me – another Wainwright for her, while the others got a bit of a rest watching us go out and back. Haycock was done, but after that I was really struggling with my knees on the steep descents where I would normally expect to get down quickly (the annoying thing is that the injuries I had been having have been in my calves not my knees). It did not feel like it at the time but we were still chipping away at the scheduled times. Neil was waiting for us with tea and food on the climb up Seatallan, a very welcome sight and an excuse for a short break. Onwards and upwards again to the top. Just one more to go. Down into the col and then the climb up to Middle Fell, the last one; bagged it!

Now for the ‘easy’ run down to Greendale Bridge. Ken and Dale ahead, Paul with me, and the others following on we made slow progress due to my knees. A run into the finish to a brilliant welcoming committee of family and friends.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you, without your help and support it wouldn’t have happened. Route completed in 15 hours 14 minutes. No sign of Joss at the finish though - he was attending a presentation in Windermere, not to worry though, hopefully I will get to shake his hand at the presentation and thank him for a great day out.

I would also like to thank those people who encouraged and supported me, but were not present at the weekend (including Jim and Charlotte who were there, but I didn’t see them). And thanks very much to all who donated sponsor money – we raised £450 for the Alzheimers Society.

Gan Canny. Ray.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Peter Crompton (M60) - 10 June 2017

Turning 60! Sixty is old, right? But wait, I’m not old. I’m a fellrunner. So prove it then. But what to do in this my sixty first year?

Pooley Bridge: 05:57 a.m. all was quiet apart from a strangely clanking bridge. Three addicts went through the fell runners’ rituals of stretching, warming up, adjusting laces, checking watches, killing the minutes before the self-declared “official” starting time. My two pacers and navigators are both Winter BG graduates, so I knew I was in the best of company.

“Are you ok with this pace” said Paul, “it feels a bit quick”.

“Feels good to me” I replied, and thought privately, that’s a good sign.

However, we were still two minutes down on our “Vet 60 record” schedule at the first of our 30 peaks, Arthur’s Pike. This did not bother me as I knew from previous outings that the later peaks tended to fall below the scheduled times.

As we approached the slightly higher Loadpot Hill the weather was closing in, Mario said “and that’s it, into the cloud, it’s the last you will see for the next 12 hours”. How right he was! But it was a great adventure that still lay ahead. We were battered and “car washed” on our way to High Street. Somewhere around there I had a real face planting trip, leaving me flat out in a puddle. Mario scraped me up and, with only a broken watch and a bloody hand as damage, we were off again to Kirkstone Pass. 

After a quick cup of home-made potato soup (millions of calories and previously patented for my BG challenge) we zipped up Red Screes and onto the long misty wander to Hart Crag. Except that Paul and Mario’s brilliant navigation and shepherding kept me from wandering too far. Several times I heard booming through the mist from behind me “Peter, a bit to the left – follow Mario”. Thank goodness for skilful navigators. Fairfield appeared through the clag quite quickly. The summit is confusing, I have previously gone astray up here in mist, so we quickly scanned the dripping, mist-shrouded cairns and turned left for Seat Sandal, the wind doing its best to knock us off our feet. This was the first climb that my legs had noticed and I reminded myself that there was still a very long way to go and that mental strength and a clear focus might be needed later.

A great time saving line down Seat Sandal could be shared with prospective BG and JNC contenders on payment to CFR or my “Just Giving” WaterAid account.

/ This brought us to within earshot of welcoming car horns and happy, rainswept faces at Dunmail Raise, not to mention the calorie-dense rice pudding slurped straight from the can - looks disgusting but it’s quick. It really was good to see Kate, Rhiannon, Stu and Heather here. Heather quickly dispensing water bottles, flapjack and chocolate. After 4 minutes of taking the “combine harvester” approach to food I shouted into the rain “ready guys? We need to go”.

Hooray, it’s more steep climbing. Straight up Steel Fell in 20 minutes and off across the long wet trog to High Raise. Andy Beaty, tough rival of many races and Paul Jennings orienteer, fell runner and possessor of photographic memory for the shapes of trods and hillsides, joined me for this leg to Styhead. There is a myriad of streams and boggy bits up here but streams turn into life threatening torrents on days like this. We stopped and hesitated to judge one such flooded stream. Paul went first, slipped and was soon upended and soaked from head to toe. I honestly thought he was in danger of being swept away. I stood gawping whilst Andy hauled him out and with hardly a blink or a flip of the fins, we were on our way again. We were all soaked to the skin prior to this, so, as Paul said, his brief swim didn’t make that much difference. If you ever contemplate doing an event like this, in this kind of weather, make sure you have a good navigator, preferably one who can swim.

On the top of Bowfell we met some walkers who thought they were on Scafell Pike. I know the visibility was bad, but there are limits! Fortunately, Paul and Andy both managed to make polite offers of help, something I was not capable of by this time.

Eating was becoming more difficult, as is sometimes the case on these longer jaunts. The legs were saying “feed me” but the guts were saying “don’t you dare”. Boiled potatoes went down better than the infamous peanut butter sandwiches. Chocolate bars provided short but fast sugar fixes.

The greasy boulder areas of these three peaks, Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End slowed us down considerably as we did our best not to crack a shin or worse, take a tumble into a bone-breaking hole. I remember down-climbing on all fours over rough ground that I would normally have skipped over. The descent off Great End was both a navigational and an agility challenge, but with mutual support and concentration we made it to the stretcher box at Styhead. Here we said goodbye and thank you to Andy as he descended to Borrowdale as planned. Beside the stretcher box we found a cold wet Bill who was waiting to “take us home” to Greendale. Only 12 miles to go. Bill knows the Wasdale fells like the back of his hand and took us along this section in thick mist and increasing winds without ever looking at a map. How do these people do it?

I had in mind that there were only the 3 big climbs of Gable, Kirk and Pillar to go before getting to the three little ones at the end. At the top of Pillar it hit me like a wet blanket, a heavy wet blanket, that there were five to go not three. The mental strength alluded to before was needed here. “focus, focus, focus” I repeated. Positive images were drawn from the depths, teeth clenched and feelings of fatigue banished. Steeple was short and fun but Seatallan was a bloody long way. 

Bill said, “Middle fell is easy”. He lied! 

But I knew we were very close now. Having not thought much about the time all day, I now began, with the record in mind, to ask Paul for “clock time” as opposed to split time – and repeated the annoying question every 5 minutes. 

At the top of Middle Fell we had 25 minutes to reach the end and hit our target.

“Can we do it in 25”? I asked Bill.

“Lets do it in 15” he said.

“Right, Go!” I replied, and we did. 

Tearing down the hillside, soft turf a blessing underfoot. A few rocks, a trod here, a fast grassy bit there, Joss’ house was soon appearing through the mist. We dodged left on the track through the last of the bracken. 

At last the wall, Joss’ house, the tarmac, the bridge. 

We had done it! Great fun. 

A hug from my wife Heather. 

A handshake from Joss. 

A handshake from David. 

Big grins all round. What a day! 

Paul, from the first half, had travelled all the way from Cockermouth to see us finish. 

I gave him a celebratory punch on the arm and said “we did it, we took over half an hour off the old record”. 

We were grinning like mad dogs. But then …

Joss said, “Aye, a lad last week, he did it in eleven hours”.


Is this a windup? I thought. 

I stared into Joss’s blue eyes in vain hope of a mocking smile, but no! 

Apparently not. Oh what the hell! 

We had had a Grand Day Out. We had smashed our own ambitious target in appalling weather and for a few seconds at least, we believed we were the new record holders. 

Isn’t fell running just wonderful?


Thursday, 14 December 2017

David Waide (M60) - 03 June 2017

Andy and I trotted away from Pooley Bridge in the clear morning light. A few campers stirred as we ran quietly through the campsite and up onto the fell. The air was fresh and I felt the warmth of the sun balance the cool breeze as we climbed the ridge leading to Arthurs Pike. Ranks of fells progressively appeared as we climbed the long ridge to High Street. The mountains looked magnificent in the sun with clouds slowly building, creating dappled shades on the surrounding hills. The pace felt good and I stayed within plus or minus a couple of minutes of schedule all the way to Kirkstone.

I had a very brief stop, grabbed a banana, and chomped my way up the start of Red Screes. Andy swapped empty energy drink bottles for full, and climbed rapidly after me. Leg 2 went very smoothly, landing spot on the planned contour round Dove Crag. I lost a couple of minutes on the Leg and arrived at Dunmail 4 hours 37 minutes after setting out, and five minutes behind my challenging schedule.

Another brief stop, banana grab and hello/goodbye to the support team, saw me climbing steadily up the pronounced trod to Steel Fell. Stewart followed a couple of minutes later having collected the spare gear from Andy. Clouds now filled most of the sky but only kissed the highest summits. Clearly little rain had fallen for some weeks and only the wettest areas were still squelchy underfoot. I still felt good but could feel the fatigue starting to build and having caught back a few minutes to High Raise I lost them again on the climb to Bowfell. The weather stayed dry all day, giving the great benefit of dry rock and helping to regain valuable minutes on each rocky descent through to Scoat Fell. The convoluted descent off Great End was exciting as I was using a five year old memory and a Rob Woodall GPX track. The combination worked well and I gained another minute arriving at Sty Head still five minutes behind schedule.

We then had four minutes of panic. Chris was not to be seen and I had almost finished the energy drink. We started down the path to Wasdale, met Rucha who had walked up to meet Stewart, raided her supplies, and set off up Great Gable stopping to collect more water. It transpired that Yvette had had a very slow road journey and had not managed to rendezvous with Chris. Chris eventually managed to get phone signal and agreed to set off with what food he had. He managed to catch us on the climb up Gable, bringing some of his own energy drink and sustenance. To complete a fantastic recovery by the support team, when Andy arrived at Wasdale Head with Yvette, he set off again, carrying more supplies. He went up Black Sail pass and arrived in time to see us ascending Pillar, heroically catching us by Scoat Fell.

My energy dropped a little more on Leg 4, though I largely compensated by pushing harder with Greendale bridge in mental sight. The conditions continued to be near perfect with only moderate wind, good visibility with the cloud drifting off each summit in turn as we arrived. Compared to 5 years earlier, I lost 4 minutes to Haycock and caught 3 back to Greendale arriving in 11 hours 8 minutes, just 10 minutes slower than in 2012.

Yvette and Rucha were waiting with Joss and we had a great chat, then finished a fabulous mountain day with a pub meal with the brilliant support team.

Enormous thanks to Andy, Stewart, Chris, Rucha and Yvette.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Nicky Spinks (W50) - 22 April 2017

My 50th Birthday Celebration -  the Joss Naylor Challenge

I first supported a Joss Naylor  in 2006 (Roy Small and Dave Holmes) while recovering from breast cancer operations. I did Dunmail to Styhead and thought the pace was incredibly fast but then I wasn't as fast as I am now. I was also struck though by how great the route was. Starting in Pooley Bridge with a distance of 50 miles and 30 tops it traverses the Lake District and finishes at Greendale where Joss lives. It is also only open to the Over 50's with different time allowances for Men and Women which increase as you get older (in 5 year increments). Since 2006 I have supported three more attempts and have always looked forward to the day that I could myself attempt.

I have always supported from Dunmail doings both Legs 3 and 4 to Wasdale. On each occassion the runner seemed to arrive at Dunmail on schedule but quite exhausted and so across to Bowfell they were in doubt of finishing. But with cajoling from their support each one rallied round and then pulled back loads of time on the schedule to finish in 11.30 hours or thereabouts. So I decided that for my attempt I would do my own schedule as the 1st two legs have always been known as fast and I personally hoped that if I could do them a bit slower I would then continue a bit fast through Legs 3 and 4.

Approaching my 50th year as soon as I looked at the 2017 diary and realised that my birthday 22nd April fell on a Saturday I knew how I wanted to spend my birthday - by doing the Joss Naylor Challenge !! So the plan was formed. I invited a few select supporters as I didn't want a busy birthday and lots of logistics and I booked a couple of caravans at my favourite Wasdale area site - Parkgate Farm with my brother and his family so in the evening we would be able to have some drinks and stay. I reccied the route concentrating on Legs 1 and 2 because on paper they look simple but on the ground they are more complicated. I also needed to get a feel for the pace and the terrain. The weather hindered reccying a lot; there was always clag and usually rain, wind and or snow but I persevered and thank everyone that came out with me in all weathers to help. Even with adding time onto Legs 1 and 2 I was terrified of all the gradual runnable sections on these legs so changed my speedwork sessions to incorporate slight uphill repetitions throughout the winter.

With reccying done, my last long race - the Calderdale Hike on 1st April finished, it's then a waiting game to see if the weather will play ball. Easter weekend was very changeable but I was pleased when Jon Whilock found the best day and went for it achieving a time of 11.20 hours. I was less pleased when he emailed me and said how tough it was. The weather for my weekend seemed settled and unchangeable early on so I was able to say I was going for it and finalise support. I had two supporters drop from Leg 3 which because I had only enough support was very stressful and a massive thanks to Kirsty Hewitson for stepping in and doing Legs 1 and 3.

With being very busy on the farm the week before I was more rushed than I liked packing and Friday night I didn't sleep at all as I was nervous I had forgotten something and hadn't checked and rechecked everything. Saturday morning dawned a lovely day. At 5am it was cold 2C with a northerly wind that was bitter at timesI had always wanted Wisp my dog to run the whole way with me but this is a big ask of her as she wouldn't know that that was her "day out" and would probably expect two legs and 8/10 hours as per a usual day out. I'd tried to take her out for long runs and was confident she could do the distance and time if her paws stood up to it too. I made her up drop bags with cheddars, sliced roast beef and pork pie in them hoping that she would wolf that down at the crossings.

Setting off with Kirsty Hewitson, Helen Elmore and Tim Rippon I tried to hold back but was desperate to see if I could stay on the schedule so ran through the campsite. I heard all the supporters puffing and asked whether I was going too fast "This is very fast" they all replied so I backed off a little. Watching Wisp bouncing round was a joy but I hoped she would be ok later. We joked that maybe she should carry the tracker! The first top done exactly on schedule and that was pleasing. Off we trotted to the next; again bang on schedule and now without running when I didn't want to. We chatted a little but I concentrated on the pace and navigation. Also I started eating hoping that if the pace became too fast I would still have energy. It was a glorious morning with slight hoar frost. The weather was great with the ground being dry too. I had to loosen my laces once but apart from that my clothes combination was working perfectly. I began to enjoy my birthday and although worried that obviously I still had a long way to go the day seemed to be trotting along nicely.

We made excellent time to Kirkstone Pass and arrived a few minutes up on my schedule so I had a nice sit down and some spicy pasta. Charmian had done a great job of laying it all out but Wisp wouldn't eat her food until I showed her where it was. Setting off with Simon Rippon and Jean Brown I was looking forward to some walking climbs at last. Red Screes was warm in the sun but the wind was back when we reached the top. Eating well I was favouring fruit salads and rice puddings. We found the direct line down but wobbled on navigation across to Hart Crag; nothing major and still making good time. From Hart Crag to Fairfield I know from the Hodgson Brothers leg 4 Relay and since the passing of Darren Holloway on Fairfield I always give him a few moments of remembrance on the summit. A careful bearing off to Seat Sandal to avoid the horrid scree I hit on my Double BG and trotting down to the col I was feeling happy. Wisp was right behind me as she doesn't like the loose rocky stuff but she soon set off up Seat Sandal in front again; I was glad to see she had bounce still. Running down to Dunmail I was 10 minutes up and very pleased with that. At the stop there was an elderly gentleman who introduced himself as the "Joss Naylor Meet and Greet Representative". He had driven all the way from Warwickshire to see me through Dunmail and gave me a badge. I promptly pinned it to my Tee-shirt which he was very pleased at.

Leaving Dunmail with Laurence Piercy, Justin Bramhall and Kirsty Hewitson Wisp was surprised and overjoyed to be allowed to come along; this was where she had stopped on the Double BG. She bounced around a little but then I think she got to thinking about the leg ahead which she knows well from Joss and BG reccies as she visibly slowed and became more conservative with her energy. I was trying to make sure she drank enough by stopping by the streams; sometimes she remembered little pools and ran ahead to dive in them and cool down. I pushed hard up High Raise trying to make the split which I thought was 40 minutes only to confirm it with Laurence and find it was actually 50; so 5 minutes made up there! We had discussions about the tops and route to Rosset Pike with Justin showing he had done his homework knowing both tops and route! With the visibility and conditions though we trotted along and I was starting to feel that sub 12 hours was definitely a possibility. I had a mini celebration at the passing of 6 hours being my halfway time point and thought "Now when can I start pushing a little? !! Off Great End to Styhead the direct way I had reccied many times but only once (two years ago) in perfect conditions. The other times me and Wisp (and various friends) had been benighted, rocknighted, snownighted and clagnighted - and usually all together!! So in fact we had started to hate the place but with great conditions and time in the bag I decided I would give it a go. It was fun and I remembered enough to weave our way down to Styhead to meet Steve Wathall but also my friends Rachael Edgar and Jon which was a lovely surprise.

Again more baked beans went down well but they had no water which was a slight problem. Never mind coke and energy drink would do. I looked at my time and decided with only 3/4 hours to go I could start to up the pace a little. However Great Gable went on and on, Wisp looked tired and I felt it; we were all glad to get to the top! Now I was 30 minutes up on my 11.59 hour schedule but the extra pace and lack of water was causing stomach pains and I hoped that Nick Whittingham had made it to Pillar with some coffee as I felt that would help. I was able to run some uphill sections of the contouring paths which was a good feeling - for me - but for my support I think less so. Approaching Pillar I saw a figure running up to the top and knew it was Nick. He had coffee ready to hand at the summit and it tasted delicious but wanting to avoid a "Honister Projectile Vomiting" moment (see BG Record film) I just drank half a cup, thanked him and carried on my way. Wisp found a pool to dive in so I stopped letting her have her last cool down as I knew across from Scoat Fell there would be little water. Now I was really enjoying it; I was able to drink coke and have gels and knew that would be enough. We flew across to Steeple with Wisp too; I did wonder what she now thought. She was getting tired as we crossed a stile to Haycock and she couldn't control her legs to jump down and so fell onto the ground rather. I hoped the soft grass would revive her over the last three hills.

I wanted to find Joss's trod off Haycock and just as we were heading off we saw Helen and Simon approaching; great stuff guys! So with everyone route finding we found the best way up Seatallon and across to Middle Fell. Seatallon was hard but now I was aiming for sub 11; not knowing anything really though. I ran a lot up Middle Fell with Laurence at my side but we agreed that sub 11 would be nice but 11.01 or 02 would be just as nice as we'd had such a great day. On Middle Fell summit there was a welcome party of Chris Cripps and his friends. Watching me descend Chris came flying passed and I hung onto him knowing that if anyone knows the good line it would be Chris. Wisp had certainly perked up too running round in her usual bouncy self; I'm sure from reccies she knew there couldn't be more hills now and that cars awaited us at the bottom! We finished by flying down to the bridge in a time of 11.02.24 hours.

I absolutely love the video of the finish; Wisp bouncing round, me sprinting (sort of), then touching the bridge and catching sight of Joss, then us hugging! You can watch it here -  Carol's video of me Finishing - You Tube

What a way to celebrate your birthday; just the best! I always maintain that these rounds are a Team Effort and without my support team my Joss Naylor wouldn't have been possible. Thank you all plus my brother Charlie, his wife Carol, my lovely niece Lottie and my husband Steve Burgess.  To top it all we went back to the caravans, ate huge amounts of curry then went to the Bower House Inn to wash it all down with real ale! Wisp was suitably tired and slept most of Saturday night.

(photo: Justin Bramhall)

(photo: Justin Bramhall)

Road Support: Charmian Heaton, Ian Fitzpatrick
Leg 1 Tim Rippon, Helen Elmore, Kirsty Hewitson
Leg 2: Simon Rippon, Jean Brown
Leg 3: Kirsty Hewitson, Justin Bramhall and Laurence Piercy
Leg 4 Steve Wathall, Laurence Piercy, Kirsty Hewitson and Nick Whittingham on Pillar, Chris Cripps off Middle Fell.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Jonathan Whilock (M50) - 17 April 2017

Pooley Bridge (Photo: Paula Furnival)

I was under no illusions how difficult the JNC is as a v50. Seven years ago I was support for Dale Colclough on his v50 attempt and after the first leg I was wasted, I hung on for the second but couldn’t keep up, and I was fit then.

Training and recce’s hadn’t been perfect, hard to learn much in clag and deep snow but the weather looked good enough on Easter Monday and a group of great friends were able to support so got to go for it.

Ant (forest) Bethel was solo support on leg 1, it’s cruel to do that to someone as it’s really fast but Ant seemed keen, (the nutter). It was very cool. Even snowed a bit and quite breezy but we flew along with the wind mostly in our favour. Ant held on gamely pulling me back in on the descents till the drop off Pike How when it didn’t matter anymore. I didn’t want to be fixed to a schedule although I used the one off the JNC site as a guide; it was much more fun to run how I felt, also I couldn’t see the point in stopping at checkpoints so ran through them all which added to the fun. I grabbed a banana from Paula (girlfriend/road support/person to tell me to shut up if I whinge too much) as I legged it up Red Screes.

Leg 2 was the doctors leg with Dr Joasia Zakrzewski and Dr Simon Somerville, fortunately their medical skills were not required. The legs were still working and we breezed across to Dunmail enjoying the company and the day.

Another banana from Paula and a new crew, Clive Hevey and Mark (ode) Cornes.

Leg Two (photo: Joasia Zakrezewski)

Unfortunately things have a habit of catching up and I knew going up Steel Fell that my legs were tiring and I was losing energy fast. Clive and Ode coaxed my failing body with constant chat and gummy meerkats. The climb up Bowfell was as low as i’ve ever felt during a big challenge, I thought it was game over but we kept going and once we hit Great End it was downhill to Sty Head and Dave Harrison waiting with a bottle of coke.

Ant had also joined in the last leg but was already on top of Gable. The coke started to do it’s magic and with Dave lying to me telling me how quick we were moving the legs came back and I got my head in gear again too. We’d managed to forget the crisps on legs 1,2 & 3 so Dave had been sent with 4 packs which he tried very hard to feed me without success.
From Kirk Fell onwards we pushed hard to the finish and speeded up even more from Haycock.

It was lovely to steal a kiss from Paula on the drop off Middle Fell and a honour to shake a shepherd’s hand at Greendale Bridge. My time was 11 hrs 20 mins, faster than I thought I could run.

Knowing that Joss Naylor is waiting for you at the finish to shake your hand and tell you well done lad must be the best incentive in fell running.

I had great weather and enough luck to make it but most of all I had a fantastic group of friends who got me to the finish and made it a superb day on the fells.

Paula, Joss and Jonathan (photo: Paula Furnival)

Greendale Bridge (photo: Paula Furnival)

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Monica Shone 1926-2017

Monica, age 91, died on 7th August from complications following a hip operation. She had been a member of Clayton since 1984, and in 2011 was awarded honorary membership of Clayton-le-Moor Harriers in recognition of her considerable sporting achievements. 

The link below is to a short appreciation of Monica and her considerable achievements, published on the Clayton-le-Moors website.

Monica Shone

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Ian Roberts (M65) - 06 August 2016

I'm still gob-smacked and utterly amazed at the loyalty and flexibility displayed by you all over Friday night and through Saturday; to bring the schedule forward by 24 hours, at just 8 hours notice and still be left with more than an adequate team of supporters.

Although it required some physical effort on my part, I'm sure that my efforts would have come to nothing without you guys around me, leading the way forward, passing up food & drink, sharing cheerie banter and often mocking "the victim".

I would normally be reluctant to mention particular individuals, in case I should cause offence to any that I don't mention; but certain incidents are just seared into my mind:-

Leg 1. In the company of 3 Bowland F.R. members (Stevie Cliff, Quentin and Neil Shepherd) all well seasoned in supporting ultra attempts, plus long standing SROC member Chris Roberts (no relation) now in his first season of fell running with Black Combe Runners (he has a family connection) and on his first stint at support. Chris just melded into the team, keeping me fed and watered as we flowed along as a unit, Steve out front leading us faultlessly along the ridge, Quentin just behind me checking compass bearings and providing regular updates as to the distance and ascent to the next top plus the occasional "Ease back Ian, regulate your breathing." And we still appeared to be making up 2 or 3 minutes on most of the splits, against the 22.5 hour schedule. Neil launched into his 5 hour repartee of Warrington truck driver's humour which had us all giggling and anaesthetised us to our efforts.

Once above the drizzle of Pooley Bridge and over Loadpot Hill we enjoyed a star-lit sky with views east down to the bright lights of Tata Steel's plant, just a mile or so from Steve's abode at Shap.

Wynn Cliff and my son Gareth were ready for us at Kirkstone. I changed from Salomon Fellraisers (they had left a bit to be desired on the descent into Threshthwaite Cove Mouth) to more aggressive Inov-8 X-Claws. I consumed a bowl of porridge + syrup + bananas, a bowl of macaroni pud and a cup of sweet tea; by which time Nick Hewitt was in headmaster mode; departing before my full rest period had expired. Excellent! My legs seize up all too easily if I lounge around; and we had made up another few minutes.

Leg 2. Nick had me easing back and regulating my breathing on the ascent of Red Screes but we still clipped 4 minutes off that split. Once across the hause of Scandale Pass, Nick's wife Jenn Hutton adopted "mother hen" mode; "bullying" me into eating and drinking more than I imagined that I ever could ..... and I'm usually the fat lad that eats all the pies! Crispin Halsall kept delving into his rucsack to produce whatever was requested, usually accompanied by some pithy comment. Having partaken of the evening meal, Chris had made his excuses and sneaked out of his family's holiday accommodation in Pooley Bridge; on his wedding anniversary weekend! I think that I might owe Val a bunch of flowers?

At the base of Hart Crag we came across a young couple who were no doubt hoping to see a good dawn. They were both well wrapped-up but attempting to share an inadequate sleeping bag; they did not look comfortable; had they been caught in the showers of the previous evening, or was it that they had been sat on cold rocks for the hours of darkness? Maybe it was just our presence, intruding into their reverie? I greeted them with "How do?" as we eased past. Chris, as tail-end Charlie, muttered some apology about 'forgiving idiot fell runners attempting to traverse the Lake District in one effort'.

At the summit of Hart Crag, Jenn was totally enthused by the beauty of the dawn. The saw tooth profile of the Northern Pennines was silhouetted against a very narrow strip of crimson sky.

Descending off Fairfield, our next objective Seat Sandal looked like a giant Christmas pudding, with golden-yellow custard flowing down its flanks as the sun rose over the high ground behind us.

Off Seat Sandal and well down towards Dunmail Raise, a darkly clad figure was ascending towards us - the unmistakable gait of the legend that is Yiannis Tridimas. A few cheerie greetings and we all descend to the road. I changed from 3/4 tights into shorts and changed into a fresh Helly Hansen shirt. More porridge, macaroni pud and sweet tea then once again Nick is in time-keeper mode and saving me a further few minutes.

Leg 3. I'm first over the style and summoning my new support crew to join me:- Ian Cookson is carrying my Leg 3 food, as he will be dropping into Wasdale Head from Styhead. Bill Williamson (CFR but longtime honorary Bowland FR) is carrying my Leg 4 food (just in case we miss the support at Styhead), as he will be going through to Greendale, as will Paul Nield who is carrying my spare clothes. Jim Turner is carrying 3 bottles of water which will have to be re-distributed when he turns back at Rossett Pike - he can't stray too far from his car as his wife Hannah is due to deliver their first child in the next couple of days.

Once again I realise that I'm in safe hands, as we chat together on the ascent of Steel Fell. Cookie and I ran together on weekday lunchtimes, 30 years ago. Paul is a really steady, calming influence; so much more mature than when he took the role of one of "The Three Children" (as Steve Sweeney christened them) on the BFR sortie to the Spelga Skyline in 2005. Bill is someone that I've shared L5 support duties with on countless BGR's. Not to mention being on his BGR, his Paddy Buckley Round and his Ramsay Round. Jim is the "youngster" of the group but with a sub 20 hour BG to his credit, not to mention a recent Ramsay with no less a character than Borrowdale's Mark Roberts tagging along.

Cookie tells me that I'm climbing ok, nothing to worry about. Paul advises that I ease off a bit. Once again we bettered the schedule by 4 minutes. Over High Raise and down to the top of Stake Pass where we collected Richard Davies who claimed to have been "beasted" up from Langdale by Chris Reade. Their banter kept us entertained to Rossett Pike where we bade 'au revoir' to Jim and Chris and Richard whinged about their new bottle carrying responsibilities. Bowfell seemed slow but the watch told us otherwise.

My big worry on this route has always been the descent off Great End. It always feels as if I'm about to repeat my antics of 27th November 2012, in Rowan Tree Gully, Fairsnape. Alas, on this occasion it almost happened. Only 20 feet or so down from the summit, my left foot wedged between two rocks. My meagre momentum plus a big chunk of gravity had me falling forward but I managed to avoid a full face plant, merely grazing my knees. Blood flowed, but I guessed it would look pretty heroic once I was down amongst the Borrowdale spectators at Styhead. I continued cautiously without losing too much time against the scheduled split.

Styhead (i)
 At Styhead we greeted one or two Bowlanders who were racing in the Borrowdale. Paul informed me that overall I was 40 minutes up on the schedule. We were amply provisioned with hot soup and tea by Ian & Pauline Charters, Graham Lund and Saira Is-Haq.

Styhead (ii)
 Leg 4. Having waved good-bye to Chris and Richard (heading back to Langdale) and Cookie (Wasdale Head, carrying the empty flasks) the rest of us pressed on towards the summit of Great Gable, with the throng of 'racing snakes' surging past us.

Pauline suggested that I use one of her walking poles ( sectional rather than telescopic ) for the descent off Gable. It certainly helped.

Descending Great Gable

At Kirkfell summit, Paul informed me that I was 58 minutes up against the schedule.

Descending Kirk Fell

By Blacksail Pass, a strong westerly wind had sprung up and even with the assistance of the walking pole I started to loose time on every split.

At Looking Stead we espied a gnome like figure sat on a rock. Yiannis had come out from Greendale to meet us, carrying soup and bread - he ensured that I sipped it until it was all consumed.

On the col below Scoat Fell I added extra clothing, my efforts causing some mirth, as did my re-arrangement of my Buff into a snood accompanied by my League of Gentlemen impression .... "This is a local shop for local people. Nothing here for the likes of you."

Having regained the main ridge after "bagging" Steeple, heavy incessant rain commenced, driven horizontally by the strong wind.

My descent off Haycock was painfully slow and by the ascent of Seat Allan I was becoming annoyed with myself. Not only were my knees hurting but I was suffering some form of spasm in my back muscles, leaning to port like "Jolly Jack Tar" in mid-Atlantic. I no longer felt capable of sustaining Nick's mantra of "Don't worry about speed; just maintain constant forward motion." The attempt was faltering.

In these vile conditions, were my support contemplating euthanasia? Then they could quickly descend to shelter and retrieve my body on a more benign day?

With several "breathers" I made the summit of Seat Allan, using both of Pauline's walking poles. I'd rate Mrs Charters as a Florence Nightingale amongst hill-goers.

The Seat Sandal descent felt better than that off Haycock and I maintained a consistent climb up Middlefell; but oh that last descent! I have on several occasions managed 16 minutes. I now took 65 minutes of stumbling, shuffling and slithering.

Leigh Warburton appeared about one third of the way down, bringing good wishes from Wendy Dodds and Mike Johnson whom he had been racing with at Borrowdale. At the top of the path through the bracken Steve and Cookie appeared, to wish me well.

Whilst descending on the narrow path through the bracken several people offered assistance - Cookie, Graham & Saira if I remember correctly. I apologise if my refusal of assistance was somewhat off-hand. In my confused and befuddled state, it appeared as if everyone was stood on that bit of the path that I wanted to stand on. I think that I managed to bite my tongue; using expressions such as, "You folk go on and I will follow". Apologies if I was anymore impolite than that.

Once the path levelled out and broadened, I was thankful for Leigh coming alongside and allowing me to brace my hand on his shoulder in order to straighten my spine whilst gaining the bridge to shake hands with Joss.

Job Done!

The overall elapsed time was 23 hours and 39 minutes.

With Grateful Thanks,

Ian Roberts.