2018 Race Recap!
2018 has been a great year of running for me! I’ve run over 4,000km for the first time ever and had some good results on the road and the fells. Here are some of the key races from my 2018 year of running:
February 18th – Ilkley Moor fell race – Yorkshire Senior and U23 Fell Running Champs
I turned 23 this July so decided to have a final go at the Yorkshire U23 Championships, which this year took place at Ilkley Moor fell race. I had a good run in last year’s champs, finishing 2nd U23, and hoped to build on this. Despite a strong start and being in 6th place at halfway, I faded later on and ended up finishing 12th place and 4th U23, not the start to the season I had hoped for. Read my full report of that race here.
February 25th – Hope Winter fell race
Just a week after the disappointment at Ilkley Moor, I was racing more locally in the Peak District at the Hope Winter fell race. The race follows a fantastic route over Win Hill, with 450m of climb in 10.5km. It was an extremely cold day, with the ground frozen and clear blue skies, making for a fast race. I started off well and soon found myself in a leading pack with 2 other runners, Stu Bond and Billy Cartwright. We climbed all the way to the summit of Win Hill together, before I managed to take a good line off the top towards the forest below and open up a slight gap on the descent. Hitting the forest, about halfway in at this point, the route flattens off and I continued to work hard to try and maintain the gap I had gained and stay in the lead. However, Billy managed to bridge back across the gap to me, and we ran together from here, taking turns setting the pace. We hit a turn to begin the climb out of the forest and back to the finish field, where I slipped on a frozen puddle and went down on my right knee hard, drawing blood. I got straight back up and worked my way back to Billy, who was kind enough to check I was alright. We vied for position going up this final climb and I hit the top just behind, before storming past as we began the descent; I’d made my move and went for it on the downhill! We flew down the descent, which though not steep was very technical in parts, and despite my best efforts I just couldn’t seem to shake Billy. We left the trail and hit the road for the final kilometre back to the finish field, swapping places as we both tried desperately to drop the other with endless surges and attacks. I felt like my heart was going to explode but knew I couldn’t give in now. We left the road and made our way through a stile, and it was here where Billy got in front of me and I feared the worst. I had ran the finish route prior to the race as part of my warm up so knew what to expect, and decided to just try and stay behind until we reached the last turn, and then sprint for the line. We hit the corner and I burst out to the right of Billy and kicked with everything I had left for the finish funnel – it was just enough! I won in 44:32, just 2 seconds ahead of Billy and 6 seconds off the course record. What a race! After the disappointment of the week before, I was ecstatic to win here.
8th – 10th June – Castleton and Edale fell races
On the weekend of 8th – 10th June, I ran 2 races in the Accelerate Gritstone Series – Castleton fell race on the Friday night, and Edale fell race on the Sunday morning. I had a good run at Castleton, chasing the eventual winner Nathan Lawson alongside Stu Bond. We made good time along the great ridge, and seemed to be closing the gap to Nathan by working together up the climb, but Nathan descended well and the gap was too much to make up. Stu also was too quick for me on the descent, his strength and experience paying dividends which meant I had to keep on working hard on my won to ensure I finished in 3rd place. Despite some confusion at the end with Nathan and Stu finishing in the wrong place, I managed to secure a solid 3rd place against some quality competition. I ran this race in 2015 and finished 33rd in 48:51. In 2018, 3 years on, I managed to finish 30 places better in 43:22, so was very happy with my run here! I had managed to nearly go over on my ankle whilst descending from Hollins Cross however, which made for a nervy Saturday spent at work hoping it would be ok to race on the next day. I went along to Edale on a ridiculously hot summer’s day and warmed up, the ankle feeling ok – I decided to go for it! Edale fell race starts on a steep hill, and climbs ringing roger before traversing along the edge of Kinder Scout. Going up the first climb I was in 2nd place, working hard but trying not to overdo it in the blisteringly hot conditions. I slowed a bit towards the end of the climb, but found myself still in 2nd with a couple of runners close behind. Approaching the summit of Grindlsow Knoll, I was passed by a runner from Matlock AC before beginning the gnarly, technical descent back to the finish. Losing 200m of height in 1km, I ran as fast as I could down the hill but couldn’t quite close the gap to 2nd place, however I placed well on the strava segment for the descent so was happy with that. Running down the road to the finish I kept on pressing to close the gap but there wasn’t enough road so had to settle for 3rd, and was happy to cool down with some water after the race! Two 3rd places in 3 days, all in all a good weekend!
21st July – Snowdon International Mountain Race
July came around and with it my main target race of the year, the Snowdon International Mountain Race in Llanberis, Wales. This race has a long, prestigious history, and attracts a stellar international field each year. To say I was excited to race it is an understatement! The weather for the race wasn’t perfect, some rain the morning of the race had made the rock quite slippy and treacherous for descending. My plan for the race was to go out at a good effort but not too hard, then build the effort as the climb went on, before going for it on the descent. In hindsight, I should maybe have saved a little more for the descent. I felt I climbed really well, starting a bit back from where I wanted to be then beginning to pass people after the first kilometre or so. I kept on working hard and moving up the field, before reaching the steep, stepped section of the route where it was almost all but impossible to not walk. A climb/descent of this length is something I haven’t raced before, so I was pleased with how I paced the climb, reaching the top in 48:50. From here it was just the small matter of almost 5 miles back to the finish! Going back the way we ran up and passing runners coming the other way, plus the large amount of walkers, made for a hair-raising, adrenaline-filled descent. I won’t hide the fact that I had been pretty anxious about the descent prior to the race, given the steepness of some sections and the sheer amount of time I’d be descending for, however I felt like I was doing ok and by the time I had nearly reached the bottom of the trail going up the mountain I had only lost one place. Hitting the road marks around 1 mile to go, and is where I began to run out of steam. I felt like I hadn’t paced it very well at this point as I felt like I was running out of energy and could feel twinges of cramp in my quads and calves. I made it down the ridiculously steep road section and hit the flat, 800m remaining. Here I could hear footsteps behind me and annoyingly 5 other runners came past me in these closing metres, and try as I might I just couldn’t respond. I ended up finishing 33rd, with around 10 seconds separating me from 25th place, demonstrating the depth of quality in this race. I finished in 1 hour and 16 minutes, 9 minutes back from the winner Alberto Vendere from Italy. I was really happy with my race and time, with plenty to work on for next year.
16th Septmber – Stockport 10k
In September I ran my first road race of the year at the Stockport 10k, a big meet-up race for my club Vegan Runners UK. Last year this was one of my best races of the year, being the first race I ever managed to win, running a PB of 34:30 in the process. I was keen to repeat this result this year and had trained hard prior to the race, running a PB of 16:28 over 5k a few weeks beforehand. The route was different to last year, and was now hillier and featured many, many more twists and turns, making for a slower route. I set off conservatively through the streets of Stockport, knowing that the second kilometre was pretty much all uphill. I found myself leading the race, with a chase pack of 3 runners about 5 – 10m behind me. I kept on working hard up the hill, finding the constant twists and turns difficult, sapping any rhythm I had. However I managed to open up a gap and by 5km into the race had a sizeable lead. I knew I just had to keep the effort going and not blow up so concentrated on running efficiently and working hard to make each kilometre split as fast as the last. At 8km into the race, a lorry began doing a multi-point turn across the road that was part of the race route about 100m in front of me. I couldn’t believe it! All sorts of thoughts ran through my head, chiefly that I was going to lose my lead thanks to a random lorry! Fortunately the lead cyclist powered ahead and shouted at the lorry driver to move, which he did just in time for me to squeeze by at one side without breaking my stride. Phew! From here there was one final, steep, short climb up a cobbled street before the final sprint to the finish. It was a great feeling to cross the line first again at this race, especially whilst wearing the Vegan Runners UK vest, showing that vegans can be fast too! It was a great way to end the year of racing.
All in all, it has been a fantastic year of racing for me, with big improvements and a couple of good race wins. Next year I hope to build on these results and performances and keep on improving. I couldn’t have achieved the results I have this year without the support of Accelerate Running Store and Inov8, and am extremely grateful to both for their continued support. I can’t wait for 2019!