Weekend in Dunbar & North Berwicck

Despite my high expectations of this weekend I have bee brought back to earth the previous 6 weeks.

Saturday should have been my first Ultra this year, but a stabbing pain in the tendons and ligaments around the left ankle prevented me from running for about 4 weeks now. The injury started shortly after my first 30k run in 2019 in February not getting better until now.

Because we booked accommodations already, we went up to enjoy the weekend anyway.

Because the ankle felt a bit better, we decided to try and walk at least from Dunbar to East Linton, Smeaton Nursery, one of the nicest tea rooms we found so far in UK.

So after breakfast we had a short tour through the John Muir Museum (which is worth a stop!), we started walking towards East Linton/North Berwick along the John Muir Trail. This gave us the chance to actually experience some of what I would have encountered running the other direction.

We passed lots of the runners which gave me at least a bit of a feeling as being part of the whole thing, even though it made it also a bit more sad to not being able to run. After 14k I started to feel my ankle and we were happy to reach the cafe after 3 hours of walking through rain and grey misty weather. Despite the flatness of the trail it has really beautiful sections along the coast or Preston Mill.

We stayed the night in North Berwick and after the resting the ankle was fine again.

The Airbnb was one of the nicest we had in a while, lovely people and a beautiful house. The Sunday started with pure sunshine and a blue sky and after enjoying breakfast we walked along the beach, westwards towards Edinburgh. Because the John Muir way is diverted here from the coast and is more towards the inland, we walked the coastal path across long and white beaches with stunning views over Forth and the small islands in between.

Its a great walk of about 10k until you reach Gullane. From there we took the bus back to North Berwick and spent the rest of the day at the beach. We didn’t have such a sunny day in a long time!

Part if the weekend was the first trial of my Altra Timp Trails that I bought for the John Muir Way Ultra and the the upcoming UTS as a pair of well cushioned and comfortable shoes for the flatter and gravel/tarmac sections. Not having worn them before, the two 14+10k was were great to see how they work. They are really comfy, probably a bit smaller than expected but still big enough to leave room (I’ll see how they are running soon hopefully).

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Weekend in Dorset

The great weekend (long weekend) arrived and flew down to Bristol to the Run the Endurance Life ultra, at least that was the original plan.

As mentioned before the place for the 53k was handed over to a lady was hopefully better prepared to run than we were. After 5 days of stomach flu, the weeks without real training and months with little or no running due to my right knee did not provide sufficient preparation for such a distance.

However, as it was Alex’s birthday present and she didn’t feel prepared to run the 10k she signed up for, Josh happily agreed to take on this short course at least. He had to run under her name as there are some strict regulation from the organisers in place.

But before arriving at the race location, we stayed the first night in Bath, as Josh has never been there before and it is a beautiful city to explore. Also, our room in the YHA was og a higher quality than expected, providing views over the whole city.

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After a great day in bath, exploring most of the sights, including the roman bath, the cathedral, the old town and the Pulteney Bridge (all part of a free guided city walk, also to recommend) we drove down to the coast.

Having an incredible stay the night before in the The Castle Inn, located in West Lulworth (which is highly recommended as a place to stay, providing amazing rooms and delicious breakfast), we walked down to the race in the morning being surrounded by an amazing atmosphere despite the rather unpleasant weather.

The race went okay, I felt like dying after the first climb but fell in a steady pace that I could keep up for most of the time. I finished in 1:07:32 and came 96/272. So overall, I was satisfied considering my training hours in the previous months.

 

The next few days were quiet and we hiked around the Jurassic coast from Seatown to Lyme Regis looking for fossils and the views that must be nice if not as misty and foggy as it was for us.

Josh wasn’t too keen on doing too much as he felt the race in his legs. Being even happier with the decision of not running the ultra now after experiencing the harsh conditions and the missing training and issues in the right knee.

We drove into Devon to see another part of the southern English coast hiking along the cliffs of

We spend the last evening on a cider farm trying the sweet, medium and dry ones straight from the barrels. Quite different to the ciders you get up in the north. We bought some cheese and ordered some jars with different things from the Rose Farm and flew back home in the evening from Bristol (which got again pretty hectic at security).

2018 short review

Overall, 2018 was incredibly exciting year for Alex and me.

Overall, we travelled across 12 countries including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Mexico, and short stopover in the states.

We spend 120:13:09 hours hiking a distance of 486 km mainly in the UK, Ireland, Finland and Spain.

Also, as for me managed the first time to meet my yearly running goal of 1000 km over 2018, despite my knee injury the kept me off for major parts of September til December. Also, I managed to run several races (only did the Oxford half in 2017 as the only race before) including my first trail marathon and my first Ultra.

Total km: 1085

Total Runs: 164

Total running time: 110:17:54

Total Elevation gain: 16.779m

Races: 10

In terms of cycling and swimming, I didn’t get close to what I wanted to do, but there is time in 2019, probably better to increase slowly anyway.

Cycling activities: 24

Cycling total km: 341

In total I would say it was a pretty active year for us, with 268 activities and over 2000km covered. I love statistics by the way!

The new year started partly promising. However lots of work is coming up, several races signed up and waiting and a the plan is to walk the West Highland Way, the Hadrian’s Wall Path and potentially run a few more long distance paths across the country before leaving.

Review: Altra Lone Peak NeoShell 3.0

In preparation for the winter season 2017 I bought a new pair of running shoes, also wanting to use it for hiking and to be used in snowy conditions for our trip to Finland.

I decided for the Altra Lone Peak mid, made of neoshell and thus, being somewhat water resistant. I actually thought they are fully waterproof, but it appears that around the laces, water can get in.

They are not really lightweight with about 372g per shoe, however, in comparison with my Meindl Boots, weighting 1.6kg for the pait, that’s saving almost 50 % of the weight.

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Technical Features

  • Support: Neutral
  • Drop: Zero
  • Cushioning: Moderate
  • Weight: 372g per Shoe
  • Stack height: 25mm
  • Ideal use: Trail Running, Hiking, Winter Weather
  • Material: EVA, Rubber, Mesh and Polartec, and TrailClaw

After running a short 4k in the Altra’s the first time (the evening I received them) I did feel my calfs and my tendons around my ankle as well. I was just not used to run in zero drop shoes and didn’t work with the right technique and sadly had to stop running for about a week. However, I learned from this and actually read the booklet that I received with the shoes and started working on my technique, that’s when I actually started looking up running techniques, efficient running, proper form etc as well. Despite the pain afterwards, the running itself felt great, the shoes are much more responsive than they look like and the are perfectly shaped for my feet. The large toebox provides enough space for my relatively wide feet and the cushioning is enough to feel save in their but not too much and loose contact to the ground. The lacing system works great as well, it is much easier to lace that shoe and keep your foot where you want it to be.

On our Trip in the Lakes in February I used the shoes the first time for hiking and the conditions were actually quite demanding. Lots of ice, some snow and down to -9 degrees. And the show performed as expected. It kept me dry, warm, comfortable and secure, even on ice I wasn’t lying on my nose immediately! They didn’t feel uncomfortable anywhere and I didn’t get any blisters or pressure points.

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I was hiking in the shoes several times after that and brought them to their hardest testing conditions in Lapland, Finland in March 2018. I used them for a range of activities, ranging from ankle to knee deep snow running, sledging, snow shoe hiking and generally walking around. And to make it short, they are amazingly great for this. My feet were never cold, never wet and I had no fear of slipping or anything. Again, no blisters at all, no issues or irritations, they stayed dry in the snow.

I haven’t tried them yet in for runs longer than 15k, so I can’t say much about how my feet will feel in them, however, based on the experience from the snow shoeing hiking, wearing the shoes for longer distances and over several hours is perfectly fine. I will probably use them at some point for some more trail runs, particularly in snowy conditions (maybe in the Kielder Forest runs early January 2019), but I’ll certainly keep them as my normal hiking shoes now.

Trying out the water resistance capacity of the shoes, we walked through the tidal flat from Holy island to the mainland. And the shoes kept my feet almost dry. Just once I sunk in a bit too deep and had water in my right shoe (only). The left one stayed dry, no idea why, but there was some water in the right one, but the water was about at ankle height.

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If they would be completely waterproof, they would be the perfect shoes for all kinds of conditions. It would still recommend them highly, in particular for winter like conditions, they withstood stronger rains as well without leaking. So, you should mainly avoid walking through deep water with them, otherwise they are awesome.

Pros:

  • Super comfortable
  • Lots of space in the shoe
  • Great stability in the shoes
  • Robust outer layer, no signs of usage even after climbing and scratching on rocks
  • Mid height is perfect to be still comfortable for running
  • Responsive and connected feeling to the ground

Cons:

  • Not really waterproof
  • Not a lightweight
  • Pretty Expensive
  • Look a bit odd
  • Not as much Grip as the Meindl boots

Review: Altra Lone Peak 3.5

After having some really uncomfortable blisters in the Pearl Izumi Trail Runners after the 55k I went to have a look at some wider shoes that offer zero drop.

There is a surprisingly small amount of shoes available for wide feet compared to the total number of running shoes out there.

The Altra ones actually provide both, a wide toe box as well as zero drop. The shoes are quite expensive but with the experience of the Lone Peak Mid, me and particularly my dad (thanks!!) Decided to get them for the upcoming races.

Technical Features:

  • Weight: 590g
  • General Fit: Wide
  • Cushioning: Medium
  • Stack Height: 25mm
  • Heel-Toe Drop: Zero
  • Arch Type: Neutral
  • Price: £136

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I did wear them for the trial run in September in the lakes and they are amazing.

No blisters, no issues anywhere and definitely more grip than my Pearl Izumi on wet rocks. They are very responsive and connected to the ground, still providing enough cushioning to avoid pain when stepping on sharper rocks. Also, they are not as easily wet inside as the Pearls.

Again, despite the general anatomy of my foot, suggesting an arch supportive shoe, there are no issues with this shoe.

My second (a bit longer) run in the shoes was the Lakeland Trails Ullswater 14k challenge in October 2018. And the shoes performed perfectly. They had no chance of not getting wet inside, but it did not have any impact on the secure feeling or grip. I did wear the shoes also on the 90k hiking tour along the Cornwall Coastal Path and they felt great there as well.

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They will have their first real longer distance testing on the 53k run along Coast in Dorset. I will report how they felt for the longer run afterwards.

Pros:

  • Super comfortable
  • Roomy toe box
  • Good grip for rocky running
  • Robust outer layer
  • Responsive and connected feeling to the ground
  • Zero Drop
  • Perfect cushioning

Cons:

  • Quite Expensive
  • If you consider style its not everyone’s
  • Bulky if packed

Short trip to the Kielder Forrest

Saturday we took a car a drove up northwards into the heart of the Kielder Forrest to run our first race in 2019.

However, Alex developed kind of a tonsillitis over the past few days and we decided that she should better not start, we didn’t want another month of illness like in 2018.

We left Newcastle at 7:00AM in order to pick up the car and get there on time. The Kielder 10m Winter race is a two loop race starting and finishing at the Kielder Castle.

Its quite a bit of driving up there but its an interesting and hilly landscape that is different to the lowlands we’re normally in. The race parking was organised (not) costing 5£! (Even though we paid 3 and still got the whole day, machines must be set up the wrong way).

The race was a really tough one for me. After Christmas and new years eve in Germany, Netherlands, France and Austria and their really good (and large amounts) of food didn’t help to be perfectly prepared for this one. Also, due to the knee issues I didn’t run more than 45k in December (and only a 5k the day before, which was a stupid idea).

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Also, I should have run in my Altras and not the Pearl Izumis. Even though they are great, they are not cushioned enough for the trails we were running. I did regret it after only about 4k in the race when blisters started to be annoying on both feet. I had real doubts during the second loop, particularly after being taken over by several fellow runners and it was a small field. But I took it as an experience, enjoying the landscape and the joy of running a longer distance again. I came in 80th from 168, not great but still an okayish start into the running year 2019. However, I need to get things moving now for the three upcoming Ultras in March, May and June.

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However, there is the need for some recovery here, as the blisters turned out be quite more severe than expected, I’ll save you the pics here 😉

We had a short hike so that Alex could enjoy the old Viaduct and the the views over the lake as well. The weather was okay and we did enjoy the day out.

After spending the night in Rothbury, we had another hike the next morning in the Northumberland National park up along the Simonside Hills. Because josh forgot to bring a second pair of trail shoes, he did not enjoy the whole walk in the blister causing Izumis. But the views from Dove Craig and the Simonside Hills over the Cheviots, the sea and the national park were stunning and the weather was actually sunny and with fewer clouds than most of this month so far.

This would be a great are to do some easy, but hilly trail running. So we might be back at some point.

We finished the weekend with spending the late afternoon in Alnmouth at the sea. A beautiful resting place with not many visitors since it started raining lightly.

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Overall, a good and active weekend. Alex got better and we’ll hopefully be back on track soon. We didn’t take too many pictures this weekend, sorry for this!

Lake District November 2018

As we had another friend (Maurizio) over for the week, we decided to spend the weekend in the lakes to show him as well the nicest part of England.

We decided to do the Coledale Horseshoe round, a nice 14-15k hike starting and ending in Breathwaite.

Just after dinner, Alex with not a great timing again developed some sort of food poisoning and spend the rest of the evening and the night with high temperature not able to keep anything down.

She slept in rather long on Sunday morning, so Mau and me decided to go for a short walk ourselves up castle Hill. Its a really nice walk with a short and steep climb up the hill and a smooth up and down till going back down towards Seatoller.

After spending a bit of time in the YHA, the weather wasn’t great, Mau still tired from the day before and Alex still sleeping, I decided to go for a short run at sunset time, challenging my knee again a bit and trying out the usefulness of the Petzl Tikka for running at night time.

The running went good and I managed to do 6.5km without any issues in the knee. However, based on my fitness level, it was still a good idea to finally give up my start place in the 53k in Dorset (as sad as it is!).

Second enlightenment, the Tikka is not bright enough for me to run properly. I need certainly more than 250 lumen to run at night, so the search for the Petzl Nao or similar will start soon.