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Monday, 14 November 2011

Helsby Three Peak Full Moon Three Legged Naked Challenge

Helsby Three Peak Full Moon Three Legged Naked Challenge
Stephné was her name and the Helsby Three Peak Full Moon Three Legged Naked Challenge was our game!
After Adair observed that we could have a night time record on the HTPC I somewhat went over the top and added the HTPFMTLNC.
With a full moon and the weather looking good (chilly, damp, foggy but no rain) on Thursday evening we decided to nail this challenge before everyone else...
Well it will came as no surprise to find out that we had double booked and an evening at the Ballet to watch up and coming starlet ‘Juliet McQueen’ daughter of the infamous S.A. Jeff McQueen was on the cards. With this unavoidable  commitment we had no other choice except to run it normally together (no bondage or nakedness but it was a day time full moon!) on Thursday morning.

The Happy Couple Frodsham
Running with your wife, husband or partner (or even your wifes husbands partner) will always be a great experience even if there’s a little tension in the air. This little tension arose from getting up in the morning and my offering to carry all the kit so Steph wouldn't have to worry about it, I thought I was doing her a big favor, wrong!
School, Nursery drive to Forest Hills and we’re by the War Memorial at 8.53pm, photo taken and we’re ready for off. By the time we’ve reached Helsby Hill Steph’s a lot happier and apologises for the grieve that’s she’s been dishing out to me all morning so I do my usual thing of... well, I’m not sure what it is (nonchalance)  but it sets things back to square one and a bit more. Perhaps I should get down on one knee and and say ‘no darling, it was all my fault, you shouldn't have to appologise to me, it should be the other way round’. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Woof woof.
Helsby trig point and we stop for another self timer picture (10 seconds) and we’re soon off towards Old Pale. The storm that was brewing has now blown over and Steph and I are having a great time chatting and generally shooting the breeze.
Old Pale (The Hill, not me!)
On top of Old Pale and we could be on for a sub three hour round, we have a quick snack and drink with the obligatory photo (another 10 seconds) and we’re heading down hill towards you know where for you know what (if you’ve read my previous blogs!).

It all goes without incident and we have a great run to arrive back at Frodsham War Memorial in a nice time of 2hours 53 minutes. Another photo call and we dash off into the warmth of Forest Hills to have some RRR before heading over to Manchester to see the Ballet.
I hear by claim the Helsby Three Peaks Married Couples fastest attempt and Steph would like to claim the female record - 2hrs 53mins 
Cheers all, keep running
Dave D.
Delamere Spartan
Just as a final side note- Steph’s never been happier in her life
or so I tell her!-)

Friday, 21 October 2011

Second Attempt - The Helsby 3 Peaks

Second Attempt - The Helsby Three Peaks
A cloudy day over Helsby's War Memorial
So no excuses today, no tumbling tummy, no beer festival blues, no feeling of ‘what the hell am I doing here’, today I’m totally prepared and have come for glory, I just wish someone had told my calfs that!
I'd decided from previous experience that I shouldn't just rock up to the start and run like hell till’ it’s all over, no today I’m going to warm up properly (apart from stretching, it’s not that serious) by jogging a little loop and shaking out whilst I mentally psyche my self up. So far so good and no chatty people!
It’s 8.30ish, it’s overcast, it’s cool conditions, it’s almost perfect, it’s time to go and I’m off...
I’m starting on the same route as last time but I’ve reccied a ‘parachute route’, if I don't go ‘arse over tit’ it will save me at least 20-30 seconds, not a lot but it could be the difference between success and failure. I take it easy on the big up to Helsby Trig but my calfs are getting tighter by the stride, so much for logic!
Helsby Trig 21:55, better than last time but I’m still not certain whether I should carry on with my tight calfs or just ease off and have a steady run back. Obviously I banish the thought of dropping and put my head down and stride it out. As much as I like Harmers (pool, farm, woods) I decide to take a different route today. My only worry now was the rush hour traffic around Helsby at this time of the day, luckily the six cars, two tractors and one horse passed without notable incident and I’m safely into the woods. It’s a bit muddier today and a few more acres of trees have been massacred but I make it to the top of Old Pale 1:07:00.  No time to take in the view and I’m off retracing my footsteps (yes, this is allowed) for a short period heading back to the monument with the promise (again) of the luxuries of Forest Hills.
I’m feeling at my best now, just legging it through the forest, I’m in a race, but there’s no one else to race except myself so I just carry on as fast as my legs will take me. I’m getting close to the finish and I haven't looked at my watch since Old Pale, but I know I’m motoring! It’s not often than I can get myself into such a state running alone but when it happens, it’s great.
The last stretch of road towards the hotel and my legs stick the ‘Vs’ up to me (not literally!) and say ‘that’s it mate, we’re done’, I squeezed the last bit of juice out of them by promising a weeks long rest in Cyprus, it worked and I crashed into the Monument gates in 1:49:38, YES almost 6 minutes faster than last time and 3 minutes off the (known) record! Todays route was 14.96 miles, a wee bit less than last time.
I will have my five minutes of glory (Sandstone Trail like) until it’s beaten which I’m sure it will be very soon. Remember though, by beating my record you will only make me stronger!
Happy running all, I’m off to Cyprus

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

First Attempt - The Helsby Three Peaks

The Helsby Three Peaks

So here’s my account of my first bash at ‘The Helsby Three Peaks’ 
Belgium Beer Festival
Monday 10th October, I couldn't of felt much worse, the last 72 hours were a blur of coaches, chips, frikandels (bad Belgium sausage), beer and mohicans, that was the Belgium Beer Festival 2011!
I’m stood at the gate in the railings by the Frodsham War Memorial about to set off, trying to convince my body and mind that this is a great way to detox after the weekends antics when a gentleman appears giving me that smile and nod that can be taken as a ‘Oh, hello, I know you’ so after a nice 10 minute chat (brrrrrrrr) I was off....
I knew Chris (Helsby Runners) had clocked a time of 1 hour 52 minutes last week which was a tremendous effort. I also know that he did Frodsham to Helsby in under 20 minutes, another commendable accomplishment. I wasn't out to for the crown today but I did want to stretch my legs and suffer a bit (how else do you get better?).
I made it over familiar ground to the Helsby Trig in just over 22 minutes. I don’t think there’s a more direct way than what I took unless them Helsby boys have a secret network in those woods?
As the crow flies, The Helsby Three Peaks
Now it was a battle not to take the obvious road choice from the top so off over to Harmers I headed, gates, styles, mud and leaves for a bit then onto the road for a spell and into Delamere. The weather was threatening big rain and every now and again a small shower would cool me down but not quite bring on the down-pour I expected. Even though I was pushing it I seemed to be struggling. Mind games had to win over the tired legs and tumbling tummy. Now I know Delamere like the back of my hand but I still managed to add a small loop on that I could of missed out, lost brian cells perhaps?
Onto Pale Heights now and I can see the territory I’ve travelled and the territory that needs  to be overcome to get back. I’ve got 1 hour 11 minutes on my Garmin which sort of said to me ‘not bad, but I could get 2 hours if I don’t die any more’. I put my head down (to avoid any other chance encounters with talkative strangers) and set off back to Frodsham. I’d packed my towel and trunks (in the car) for a promised dip in the Forest Hills pool on my return, so with this in mind I strode forward and headed NNW back to the gate. 5 minutes from the finish the heavens opened and I got my welcomed cool down but no time to slip my waterproof on when so close to the finish.
After near impalement on the railings in my attempt to sprint finish and stop my watch at the same time I was back in 1 hour 55 minutes 33 seconds Distance 15.21 miles.

Good run, yes. Had it de-toxed me, no. Did I feel better for doing it, hell yes. Can I do better, watch this space!
Pool, sauna, jacuzzi here I come!


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Daves UTMB 2011

Daves UTMB 2011
So 2011 was to be the year of the Ultra Tour of Mount Blanc (UTMB). All of my efforts were to be focused on this monstrous race. Having had a good start to the year with a few marathons and a couple of ultras at the Endurancelife events down South all was looking positive. An exellent Sandstone Trail Race placed me on a higher mental level giving me the encouragement to train even harder. Many hours were spent training with Steve Mee, Jeff (lightening) McQeen and The Delamere Spartans. Next up was the Classic Quarter, a 44 mile route following the South West Coastal path from the Lizard to Lands End. Dire stomach troubles brought that one to an early abandonment (I’ll spare you the full details!) My first ever DNF, I was proud to be man enough to pull out so it didn’t interfere with my training for my next 2 big events. Sure enough I was back out again two days later feeling ‘spot on’.
The UTMB is looming ever closer now but I have to knock off the Ultra Tour Lake District (UTLD) 100 first. Running wise and sticking to the game plan was the order of the day, less than 4 weeks until the big one and I didn’t want to blow it. I ran the UTLD last year in 31hrs 18mins so I thought if I could get a sub 30 hour without pushing it too much then I’d be happy. Whenever I try to explain this, it always sounds a bit big headed “Oh, I only took it easy on the 100 mile race!” The plan worked (29hrs 16mins) and I was back out torturing the Spartans the following week on the Frodsham and Helsby hillsi. Two weeks to go. I was adamant that I would NOT be foolish and do the Delamere Bugrun 10km only 10 days before the UTMB, I came 9th!

The vans packed and we’re ready to roll. Steph has 2 outdoor swim events to complete en-route to Dover. We had a casual 3 day drive to Chamonix stopping off by beach lakes on the way. On Tuesday evening I went for a 3.5 mile jog just to stretch off them driving hours. Arriving in Chamonix on Wednesday was a lovely feeling, that’s it, right we’re here now, let’s get this sorted, bring it on!
Race day
When a race starts in the afternoon you always feel at a loose end. The day drags on and looking at the clock doesn’t help to speed things up. At 11:50 we get a text alert stating that the start time will be delayed due to ‘storm + cold weather + rain or snow’, great! Echoes of last years cancellation and disappointment start to ring. Surely important lessons have been learnt from last years fiasco, we’ll see. I’m chopping on the bit but the weather is horrendous. Driving sheet rain beats relentlessly over Chamonix and the valley. At 10.30 I can take it no more, I must leave now. After 2 days of sorting and packing my race gear, I still left the apartment feeling I’d forgotten something of deep importance.
Despite the gloom Chamonix is buzzing with constant tannoy announcements and music. Runners huddle together in telephone boxes, ATM kiosks, anywhere to avoid the rain.

The Race

11:30pm and we’re off into the night, despite the time and conditions the crowds are out in full force to cheer us on, the children offer up ‘high 5’s’ whilst the adults cheer, chant and look on with admiration for what we’re about to undertake. There’s a lot of jostle trying to exit Chamonix but the vibe is fantastic. Into the woods we go, the most dangerous thing here were the puddle dodgers! Everyone’s shoulder to shoulder and toe to heal and suddenly everyone in front suddenly springs to the left or right in order to miss a puddle meaning you have to stop dead in your tracks or take evasive action.

The slog to St Gervais was wet, warm but darkish. One of the only jobs I’d forgotten to write down whilst thinking about it was to put new batteries in my head torch. The batteries were nowhere near dead but every other beam cancelled mine out. School boy error, the ground’s not technical or dangerous so I just get on with it with a mental note to change them at the next check point.
St Gervais, lovely noodle soup, sweet coke and I’m off, no, stop, change them batteries first! Leaving St Gervais Square by the stairs was like losing an anchor, this is where it had been cancelled last year. The memories started to come back of all the disappointed faces, gutted was a understatement. No time to wallow in pity, I’ve got a race to run and I’m feeling pretty positive about it.

When I first started racing I would just put my head down and go for gold. Sometimes you would just pull one out the bag, bad training, poor diet, lack of sleep, wrong gear but somehow you pull it off and run a blinder. A particular race just occurred to me (please feel free to skip this bit if it’s just the UTMB details you’re after!) – I’d entered the 7x7x7 Endurancelife Coastal Series. Seven marathons over seven months at seven different coastal venues down the South West. Complete them all and you get a coveted 7x7x7 long sleeve tee shirt, great eh! Unfortunately I crashed the van on the M5 near Bristol, the only place the van was going now was the breakers yard (or so I wanted). Stranded on the side of the M5 waiting for the recovery vehicle my chances of the tee shirt was slipping away. What if, what if, mmmm, my mind starts to kick in on how to escape this situation? Bristol Airports only a few miles away and surely they do 24 hour car hire. Now if the kind recovery man will drop us off at the airport we can throw some kit in the car and continue our journey South. Not having our driving licence or any real ID made it a bit harder to hire the car but we got it in the end, YES! So our journey continues with a quick stop at one of those service stations for burger and fries, I’m not sure how they can justify putting ‘King’ in their title but hey! We arrive at our destination at about 1am, did I mention that we were going to sleep and cook in the van and we have a 15 month old baby with us? The next day I came in 2nd, top result!
So back to tactics, I train, eat, sleep and choose my gear better these days (and try not to crash vans!), so now I’ve to put my plan into action, tactics. My aim was to take a steady pace, listen to my body, run wise and finish strong, whilst all the time moving up the field.
Back to the race

On my way up to La Balme I started to get a head ache, I just put this down to all the hussle and bussle of the day and strictly rule altitude out. At La Balme I popped a couple of Paracetamol had a bite to eat then had to tear myself away from a roaring fire, back to the hill/hell. It was still very dark and I wasn’t sure how much further uphill I needed to go. Once this CP was departed I could see a steady line of lights leading up and up and up. An hour or two later dawn started to break and I had to resist the temptation of screaming ‘COCK-A-DOODLE-DO’ at the top of my voice. Before I knew it I was at the top of Col Bonhomme, great but what’s this I see, people are now heading off left and up, more bloody up! Once my heart/head had settled I realised that this path looked great territory and was quite runable in places. Snow had fallen over the night which gave the mountain even more of a special feeling about it. Once Croix Du Bonhomme (2443m) was departed I was looking forward to a blast down hill but it was not to be. The path was nasty and steep with lots deep ruts, maybe excellent on a 10 mile fell run but not with so many miles to go! The last couple of mile saved the day with some nice steady running into CP Les Chapiex (50km). As I left the check point something different was happening, please sir, your mobile phone, kit check time, great, I’m just pleased they didn’t ask me for my waterproof gloves! A long uphill road section next but yet again in stunning scenery. Every one was walking so I decided to knock a few off (runners) with a gentle jog. I was soon cutting across more open mountain side on rough track again though.

I found it hard to get used to the amount of people on this race, since the start there was always a snake of bodies in front and behind as far as the eye could possibly see. If you stopped to take a photo- 10 places lost, put a jacket on 20 places, call of nature 30 – 50 lost! Yes, I know you can do all of these things on the move (even the last one!) but just to stop and take in the surroundings was fantastic. Not long after here I stop for a quick picture of huge cows crossing our path with cow bells the size of sheep skulls. As I put my camera away a girl runs past me with her rucksack fully open, I shout “pardon”, no response, “excuse me”, at this she looks around and I inform her about her open rucksack and offer to zip it up for her, she asks if she’s lost anything, “depends on what you had it there” I reply! We run and chat for a bit before she breaks off and leaves me (not for the last time!).
At the next CP I see her checking her contents so I enquire as to whether everything’s accounted for. Luckily all’s there and she says we should get a move on. We ran the next leg together, I did feel conscious that I was holding her back a bit so openly stated that she needed to drop me and carry on at her own pace. I’m not exactly Mr Chat or Mr Interesting when running ultras (or most of the time some would say!).
We arrived in Courmayeur in good spirits despite the long gnarly descent. We were greeted with plenty of cheers and our half way bags. Socks and insoles changed, food consumed and we’re out of there, just like that, 40 minutes later! It was about this time that we were notified by text that there had been another route change, rather than run (walk) to Bovine we had to miss this out and take a detour down to Martigny which gave us slightly more vertical height and a few more km’s for good value!
Things start to get a bit vague for a while now, mental fatigue has set in, Helen and I chat about random things to pass the time, it ends up that most of it wasn’t so random. The run down to Martigny was relentless. After what seems to be running downhill in forests for ages we hit a road with an official on it, he points down hill and says ‘Martigny Checkpoint’. I’ve often said I prefer uphill to downhill, this was definitely the case on this never ending descent, you could never see the bottom of the valley, it was dark and occasionally you would see lights and build your hopes up only to have them dashed (dimmed).
It was on this descent I became aware of an uncomfortable area in my groin. I stubbed my toes a few times but the pain wasn’t in my toes it was in my groin. A few days before the race I’d had a very slight dull ache there. It was ever so slight I’d dismissed it as nothing and not even mentioned it to anyone. This slight ache was now developing into something a bit more.
We ran into the village at the bottom of the valley but no check point was to be found. On the other side of the valley we could see the tiny pin pricks of head lights winding up the hillside through the trees. We started our ascent, the notion of running anything more than a couple of degrees up hill had long been slain. Helen’s concerned that we’d missed a check point and disappears into the dark. I stop for a drink, rest, take a couple of Ibuprofen and my first gel, I struggle back to my feet and start a good pace uphill. As I turn a corner I notice that my breathing has become slightly laboured, but not the sort of out of breath because you’ve just pushed yourself hard, it’s more of a reduced oxygen flow like someone very gently strangling you!
I figure Helen was taken the sensible option of going at her own pace, I’d track her down when back home to say ‘thanks’, no need though as here she is just in front of me. Up, up, up we go, lights ahead, where the hell are we? Just as we are about to reach the comfort of street lights they’re snatched from us as we abruptly turn left and downhill, it seems like a sick joke but that little down, up and down was just to make up for the lost height gain of not doing Bovine!
We arrive at Trient, at this point sleep deprivation is very obvious, we’ve been on the go for 34 hours and covered 150km with god knows how many meters of ascent/descent. I’m tired, in pain and my breathing isn’t right but all I can think about is ‘let’s get this done’. We march out of Trient with the thought of Chamonix calling us to the finish line. More up, up, up but this was a different up of almost straight up without the zig-zags. I’ve got a slight second (third/fourth) wind and that ‘falling asleep’ on my feet sensation has passed, I’m still excruciatingly tired but 100% focused on finishing. I arrive at the top of Col de la Forclaz expecting a CP but it’s not to be, I grit my teeth and carry on following the excellent markers that have lead me this far, shortly I see Trient below me and start my descent.

For some reason (lack of knowledge) I thought Trient was Vallorince this would of meant that after this check point I would have 3km to the top of Col des Montets then it would all be sweet downhill and more or less direct back to the finish line and my loved ones. I meet Helen again (this girl just can’t get rid of me!) and with the thought of Montets just 3 km ahead I try to get out of there asap. I run with Helen until the path steepens, this is where we say our final (and first) good bye.
Helen’s gone, I take a couple of pain killers and a gel ready for the ascent to the col, I figure this could see me well to the finish line now. The breathing problem had subsided slightly but now it returned worse than before. I think about how carefully I’d packed my bag and how I took into account how likely I was to use the contents. I remember seeing my blue inhaler there and my hand hovering over it then moving on to the next item. The only time lately that I’ve ever needed this little fella is when I’ve drank a spirit that didn’t agree with me (cheap vodka or the like!). I told myself that I’d be fine without it and carried on. My groin problem was suddenly not my main problem any more. If Steph was to fetch my inhaler and meet me at the top of Montets would it be considered cheating and could I be disqualified? While I wrestled with these thoughts my breathing became worse. Throughout the race I’d seen lots of other roadside assistance with people changing shoes in the back of cars, items swapping hands and the like. Would getting an inhaler of Steph be so bad?

I made the call ‘Hi Steph, I’m having trouble breathing and need my inhaler, I wouldn’t have called if it wasn’t important, meet you at Montets, ok bye’, the deed was done! Half an hour or so later Steph calls to say that she’s parked at Montets and walked down past the campsite to the CP, has she missed me? The penny didn’t drop at first, how was she at the CP when I’d left it an hour ago? Had she parked at Forclaz and walked to my last CP, but where was the camp site, something was seriously amiss. As I round a corner near the top of my climb I look down and around me and only then it sinks in that the last check point was not Vallorcine but Vallorcine was somewhere far below me. At the same time as I’d realised my idiotic mistake Steph had confirmed with the officials that I had definitely not passed through that checkpoint. All the time I was expecting to see Steph dash around the next corner with inhaler in hand. No not this corner, the next one, no, where is she? Shortly after I receive a text ‘The records show you are on your way to Vallorcine, so I’m going to wait for you here. Keep going you are doing fine’. On reading this a few thoughts passed through my head, the first was a very negative one along the lines of ‘great, you sit and have a nice cuppa whilst I die trying to reach you’ the second was ‘well I shouldn’t be getting any help at all so what’s a few more miles down to the CP?’. I carried on running but I was suffering even more, it took 40 minutes and no sign of Vallorcine to text Steph ‘Please walk up a bit, I’m really suffering’. Steph reply was ‘I’m coming up as fast as I can. Sorry!’.

Some 20 minutes later I see Steph coming up, just as I see her I stub my toe on my bad side and a brutal paid shoots though my groin like someone’s just used a cattle prodder on me. A quick cuddle and a couple of puffs on my inhaler and we’re running/limping downhill. My breathing immediately improves but the discomfort in my groin has just grown by vast proportions. Every time I weight my left leg slightly at the wrong angle a jolt of pain would burst through my groin as if I’d been hit by lightening. Even at this point of the game I knew I was going to finish, but I little voice in the back of my head was trying to push forward and tell me otherwise.
I limped into Vallorcine CP knowing that there was definitely only a small hill ahead then the long straight into Chamonix, I can do this. Once in the CP tent my mouth just opened and asked for a medic. I’d never once contemplated asking, it just happened. I’m now in the make shift medics room which is usually the train ticket office. I try to explain to the medics that I will make it to the end with or without their help, if they are going to pull me from the race then I’ll just walk (limp) back out and carry on. I text Steph to let her know where I am. I try and explain the pain to them and ask if some support in that area would help.

As they lie me down on a stretcher I have to fight back tears, I’m beginning to feel as if things are so bad I’m not going to make it back up again. Steph enters the medic room and I can see the concern on her face. As the young male doctor fondles both sides of my groin I send Steph off to find out the final statistics – how far and cut off time. She comes back with the answers as the medics are having fun wrapping my upper thigh up in sticky elastic bandage, 15km to Chamonix, 9pm cut off time. I felt like Lt. Dan on the boat with Forrest Gump screaming at the storm ‘Come on, it that the best you can do?’. I hobble out of the CP with a renewed mental strength, I will get to Chamonix sooner rather than later, take what it may! I think most normal people would have thrown the towel in by now but not me, I’ve never seen myself as normal. I do the next 3km up to the top of Montets with Steph close by, she knows that if I can’t make it up here I aint going to Chamonix by foot!
Despite the pain and discomfort I was mentally strong and made my way down the Chamonix Valley with the odd cattle prod jolt in my groin to remind me that I’m not invincible. Just a couple of km’s short of Chamonix and the race organisers put one final twist of the knife into the runners by sending us off the nice riverside path back up into the hills to join the original finish. In some ways this was to be expected after all we’ve been through so far. I saw one runner point blank refuse to go up the hill and ran straight past the marshals on the lower path. From this point on it was soon over. Steph and Todd were waiting to finish the last bit with me while Keith, Jayne and Oliver stood by the finish line. A French man wanted to hold hands and speed up a bit for the finish line, he was very insistent. The last thing I need now is to be caught fighting just before the finish line, not that it would have been much of a fight!
I’m over the finish line and feel elated that it’s over but I’m not the happiest of bunnies, but I know this will come. We make our way back through Chamonix to our apartment, I’m feeling a complete wreck, once again I’ve pushed my body and brain to complete exhaustion. In the apartment I ask for a cup of tea (not beer!) and to be helped into bed. Sleep comes almost immediately; I close my eyes in pain but with the knowledge that I beat the UTMB.
2370 people started the UTMB, 1193 abandoned the race
I came 742th in a time of 42hrs 47mins.
I’ll not do the UTLD100 or a 10km race just before my next attempt of the UTMB. I’ll train harder and be more focused and take my inhaler with me! Apart from my unexpected ailments I lost 2 toe nails.
Thank You
I’d just like to say a quick thanks for all the support my family, friends and fellow Spartans have given me during training and the race, without it I may never have even toed the line!
So after reading all that, anybody up for UTMB 2012 ?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Sandstone Trail- The day of the Dog

So it was the dogs birthday and I'd promised him a good run when I got back off my jollys. I've ran with the dog before, I've even taken him on the odd race, was he up to it? Would he keep going? Was it to hot for this old boy?

Mrs Wallman dropped us of at Whitchurch and after a false start (forgot my mobile) we were off. Running with the dog always gets me lovely smiles and cheery hellos, today was no exception, perhaps it was the wonderful weather making everyone so happy!

Through the fields keeping a careful eye on the dog as he's a bit unpredictable with cattle and Lamas are a definite no no.

Into the hills and with a glint of fluresant jacket in the distant our curiosity was aroused. 'Duathlon mate' was the answer to the question that never really got asked. If you hurry you'll miss them, you might even catch Ranulph Fiennes up, he just passed here five minutes ago. This certainly put a bounce into our stride, let's catch Ran up. After several miles and no sight of Ran we happily meandered though the woods with only a slight pause for the dogs call of nature.

26ish miles into it and we finally meet our support team (I started the run thinking they were going to be at Beaston Castle!), watered and fed and back on our feet and looking forward to the familiar ground back to Frodsham. More waves and smiles to keep our spirits up, yes they were defiantly needed now. The day was getting hotter and hotter, but it's only April! Sweaty, tired and sore we carried on, the dog was lagging a bit but with words of encouragement and promises of great things he kept on going. Cruelty? no I'm sure he's still enjoying it and you know what they say - 'If it don't kill yer, it'll make yer stronger'!

At last down into Frodsham we venture, keeping the Dog close at heel now as tired legs and busy roads don't mix very well plus the fact that he had switched off to me about an hour ago. Over the road and into the welcoming beer garden of the Bears Paw with a few funny looks off the scantely dressed girls we got our victory drinks and let the glory sink in.

Was the dog happy that he'd just completed the full Sandstone Trail in a whopping good time? Of course he was as this was no ordinary dog this was Dogtanian of 'Fetch' fame!

Cheers Steve for a great day, 'best ever eh' til' the next one.