Challenge Events Archives

The Spires and Steeples Challenge- Event Report

Spires and SteeplesIt was not the most promising of starts for a 26 mile cross country plod. As I drove along the A52 in complete darkness, the rain kept an unrelenting splatter against the windscreen and I desperately tried to coax some warmth out of the ancient heating system. The thought of walking for hours against driving rain was rapidly losing its appeal and I started to question why I hadn’t just rolled over after being woken by the strident call of the alarm clock and drifted back into sleep.

But I am a bit of a purist at heart, and I had entered this event so I was bloody well going to walk it. That and the fact that I’m also a bit of a tight wad and couldn’t bear the thought of my entry fee going to waste. It was mainly this that kept my car on the road towards Sleaford and the pick up point for the Spires and Steeples challenge.

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The Ponton Plod

Ponton Plod On Sunday 15th September I experienced something that had never before been experienced… the first ever wet and windy Ponton Plod!

In the 7 years the event has been run, it has always basked in warm Autumnal sunshine- indeed the very name of Ponton Plod has been synonymous with warm sunshine and gorgeous blue skies.

But not today. I drove to the start at the village of Great Ponton, just off the A1 south of Grantham, with the radio giving dire warnings of the most wild wet and windy weather. As I registered, sipped coffee and said hello to the event organiser Stuart, I couldn’t stop myself from peering out of the windows at the unpromising steely grey sky. As we set off under the lowering clouds, I heard one runner say that the rain was supposed to start at 3pm so figured I at least had a few hours before getting wet.

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The Gritstone Grind

Gritstone ChallengeCovering the whole of the Gritstone Trail in Cheshire, England, in one day is certainly no easy task. I had expected a lot of climbing but hadn’t anticipated quite how much the Trail actually ascends and descends, plus 35 miles in one day was going to be a big ask considering my current fitness levels.

The race registration was at Disley Community Centre, near Stockport, which meant a lovely 4am start Sunday morning to catch the coach from Disley at 7am which was to take us to the start at Kidsgrove Station, near Stoke-on-Trent.

Race organizer Rich had asked the council several times to open the loos at Kidsgrove Station for us and had been assured that they would be… so of course they weren’t… picture a load of well hydrated endurance nutters all desperately trying to find a private spot to answer nature’s call!!

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Preparing for the Gritstone Grind

I am busy preparing for tomorrow’s Gritstone Grind. This is an event organised by Rich of Beyond Marathon– Rich is a veteran of many ultra including the MdS and the Atacama Crossing, and so has a very good idea of what makes for a great day out for ultra nutters.

The Gritstone Grind follows the entire route of the long distance path known as the Gritstone Trail, which runs from the railway station at Disley, near Stockport, to Kidsgrove station, north of Stoke-on-Trent. It is 35 miles long, and our challenge is to walk the whole length of it in one day- or 12 hours to be precise. This will be my longest event for a good while and I am really nervous!

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The Bassetlaw Bash

Bassetlaw BashThe Idle Valley Nature Reserve is a pretty, peaceful spot just to the north of Retford in North Nottinghamshire… or at least it is peaceful apart from one Saturday in April. For on this day scores of ultra runners and walkers descend on the visitors centre ready to start what has become an annual fixture- the Bassetlaw Bash, named for the area in which it takes place.

As it’s fairly local I thought I may as well give it a go. There are a variety of routes to choose from-  5 mile and 10 mile family walks, plus 20 mile and 25 mile challenge walks.  I checked in, told them I was walking the 25 mile route and got the cheery response ‘actually it’s 27 miles!’ Although it was only the second running of the event, it was very well attended, and there were hot drinks at the start which is always a bonus in my opinion.

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The Belvoir Challenge

The Belvoir ChallengeOnce a year the peaceful Leicestershire village of Harby, set amongst the rolling countryside of the Vale of Belvoir, is disrupted by hundreds of runners and walkers thronging to take part in the annual Belvoir Challenge. First ran in 1990 this is a 26 mile challenge walk that has grown in popularity year on year- so much so that the event usually fills up weeks in advance.

The Belvoir (pronounced ‘Beaver’) Challenge is organized to raise funds for the village primary school by the ‘Friends of Harby School‘. A shorter route option of 15 miles was added some years ago and has now proved to be even more popular than the marathon option I had decided to tackle today. The school children themselves love to get involved, and can be seen helping to man the checkpoints, clear up the hall or even completing the shorter route alongside their parents.

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Happy Shiny New 2013!!!

Endurance AdventuresI love the start of a New Year. Although change can happen at any time in your life, there’s something special about January 1st that marks the threshold of a new chapter in your life- a feeling of starting again and making real progress in the 12 months now ahead of you…

So- have you got your endurance adventures planned out for 2013? What races will you do, what challenge events will you complete, what ultras will see you sweating through all manner of terrain, what personal challenges will you meet?

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