Distance Running – Strategy for Completing and not Competing
By Ian J Corless
From the very first ParkRun every one of us is drawn, sometimes unwillingly, to longer and longer distances. However very few of us can truly RUN 100 miles. Internationally renowned adventurer, photographer, mountaineer, runner and coach shares with us his strategy for making distance manageable. “Walking and learning to walk is the friend of ultra distance. Embrace it and plan for it.”
Mountain Adventure Lovers looking for something Fun & Different? The UK 3 Peaks Challenge is for you!
(by Warren King, Runtheberg Race Organiser)
From the moment I saw this online about 10 years ago I knew I wanted to do it. With a visa that was about to expire unused and a couple of mad friends in the right place at the right time, 2019 was the year!
What is the UK 3 Peaks Challenge, you ask? Firstly, it’s not a “race” but a “challenge”. This means it is not a fixed-date event but rather something that can be done at any time. Although anybody with any experience of British weather will know that it’s likely to be much more fun (and do-able) in the short summer window of June / July / August. Essentially it is a self-guided, self-supported expedition summiting the highest peaks in the contiguous United Kingdom: Ben Nevis (1345m) in Scotland, Scafell Pike (978m) in England and Snowdon (1085m) in Wales IN 24 HOURS. (For the record the 3 Peaks Challenge society does run a few organised group challenges during the summer months for those looking for company or not wanting to bother with logistics.)
How did it happen? This is where those “mad friends” come in. Speaking to Runtheberg veteran and current globetrotter Nicky Meredith a few months ago, I randomly mentioned that this was something I’d always been interested in. Before you could say “Brexit, baby”, we had a date picked, Nicky had registered our Challenge with the Three Peaks Challenge society (www.threepeakschallenge.uk), and convinced mad friend #2, husband Jason, that he was the perfect candidate for the job of Designated Driver (and just to keep his own running CV up to date, husband Jason ran the super-cool Hadrians Wall Ultramarathon a few days before our mountain adventure).
The nature of The Challenge is that you can start any time you choose on your designated day and you can do it in any order. We pretty much went text book and chose to start in Scotland with Ben Nevis, followed by Scafell Pike in England and finishing in Wales with Snowdon. We met up in Glasgow, fortified ourselves with haggis and whisky, and headed north into some of the wildest, greenest, most spectacular countryside you will see anywhere, stopping only for a fantastically icy swim in forbiddingly gorgeous Loch Lomond (another Bucket List item ticked. And no, no monsters).
Following a hearty pub meal in Fort William, the closest town to Ben Nevis, we hit the trail at about 18h00. 40km of trail, 3100m of net ascent, 750km of driving, and 22 hours and 40 minutes later we stopped our watches in the Welsh town of Llanberis at the bottom of Snowdon. Challenge completed!
There is no space here for detail, other than to say that every aspect of the experience was off-the-charts awesome!
Each mountain was tough in its own way, but each mountain was gloriously spectacular! In addition, the different mountain regions – the Scottish Highlands, the English Lake District, and Welsh Snowdonia – were all stunningly beautiful. The drives alone can be heartily recommended. As far as UK weather goes, we were lucky. Zero visibility and icy sleet at the top of Ben Nevis (which counts as a fine day in the Highlands) but blue skies in England and Wales. The 3 Peaks were ALL bitterly cold at the summits, but nothing that some well-considered Compulsory Race Kit couldn’t handle. We were prepared for some night running, but with the amount of daylight in the UK in midsummer and with our timing, we never used our headlamps. The trails were adequately marked and were technical enough to be interesting. As expected the gradients were all fairly steep directly uphill to the top, but were all runnable to some extent or another on the downs.
The roads are excellent and the driving was easy, notwithstanding a LOT of the country road version of one-vehicle single-track (and if I never again hear the map lady say “at the roundabout, take the second exit” it will be too soon!). That being said it is an absolute necessity to have a designated driver. Trying to do the climbing AND the driving would have become altogether unpleasant.
We saw lots of cool fluffy white sheep and were comforted by never being too far from other hikers / walkers / runners and people doing other different challenges (such as the 3 Peaks Challenge on foot, bicycle and kayak – one to come back for?). Everybody we encountered on the mountains and on the road was super friendly, very hospitable to us as tourists, and full of respect and encouragement as soon as they heard what we were doing (because we told them, of course). This Challenge is quite well known in that part of the world.
On finishing we submitted our GPS tracks to the 3 Peaks Society, and were awarded a wonderfully cheesy Certificate.
For anybody looking for something different, challenging, spectacularly beautiful and just FUN to do, the UK 3 Peaks Challenge is unconditionally recommended!
In this regular segment we feature the very special accommodation options that abound in the Runtheberg Valley and surrounds, and that all contribute in their own unique way to the unforgettable experience that is a Runtheberg weekend.
Firstly it is with some sadness that we confirm that the Orion Mont-Aux-Sources Hotel is closed until further notice.
Montusi Mountain Lodge
In our previous newsletter we touched on the history of the Carte family in the Runtheberg valley, and the story behind The Cavern. Montusi Mountain Lodge is the “other” big chapter in the saga. Established in June 2000, Montusi mixes the perfect balance of luxury, conservation, and the essential mountain experience that is the glorious Drakensberg.
Guests can enjoy one of 16 beautifully appointed stand-alone chalet suites, all with breath-taking panoramic views of the Amphitheatre and surrounding mountains.
The full range of mountain activities is on offer, including spectacular horse-riding excursions and even on occasion guided trail runs, while the world class chefs ensure that guests will have no problem replacing calories burned, and then some.
You can even get some race practise in on the eponymous Montusi Mountain, which features prominently on Runtheberg Day Two! Check out www.montusi.co.za
Right! Enough reading and looking at pictures! Get your shoes on and hit those trails. Don’t forget #runtheberg2019 28/29 September!
See you in the Berg!
The Runtheberg Team