Tour of Pendle 2018 (or A Strongly Worded Letter to the Running Gods)

I wasn’t going to write this one.  After all, I’ve described the Tour in all its glory here before.  But this one was different.  I felt ready for this one.  I have had a good period of consistent running – not the distance, but I definitely have the time in my legs ( and on my feet!) and I run very much as a head game – if I feel good I tend to run good. I’d even got a couple of good recce’s in over the previous few weeks to refresh my memory of the route having missed it in 2017 due to a last minute work commitment cropping up.

So I started the race at just after 10.30 am on Saturday 17th November feeling good, strong and light on my feet.  The first few miles bore testament to this, I was where I thought I should be in the field, some familiar faces around me in the pack.  the usual bench marks of performance (“if I run *this*  uphill bit I am running well”) I was trotting over quite smoothly. My breathing was good from the word go – since running with a race vest rather than bum bag I have noticed my breathing has been better, where as I have in the past struggled to get my breathing right early on in a race.  There was some good banter with fellow fell runners and club mates on the way up, including supporting a chap new to the race (and as it turns out fell running! – what a way to start!?). All in all a great way to start one of the toughest races in the calendar.

And that’s how it continued.  I even took a gamble on an experimental line across the moor from CP 1 to CP 2 which paid off – I got ahead of several faces in my immediate pack as I crossed the CP1 hurdle – some came back at me and got back ahead by CP3, some did not.  Result! Even the cut off at CP4 (be through by 12.30, at the bottom of the legendary ‘Geronimo’ descent) I knew I would get through, but to do it by the best part of 25 minutes was very pleasing.  Plenty of chatter to the marshals and some thank you’s as well, in the most stunning of conditions – even the mist lifted to offer a ‘haze’ against clear skies.  It was a cold wind for sure, but  not so strong as to impede progress.

Other things that went well – clothing – 3/4 length running leggings with a long sleeve base layer (no zip) with club vest over the top, race vest (Alpkit – Artlu) over that.  Innov 8 Mudclaws (classics) I had forgotten my cap – which would have helped manage the bright and low sun, but it was no biggy to not have it. Plus the usual FRA race kit.  Nutrition. After porridge for breakfast I had with me two Babybel cheeses, four small lumps of Malt Loaf, three SIS Gels and over three containers – about 950ml of water, 500 of that had SIS Electrolyte tabs in.  Also a small bag with some wine gums and jelly babies in it. The pics I took were on a MUVI camera, best described as poor mans GoPro. Its the ultimate point and shoot as there is no viewfinder on it.


The only point I had to dig deep was on the final climb, from CP9 to CP10. up the Big End, from its lowest point on the moor to its highest just before the actual summit. Truth be told – everyone has to dig deep here and its fair to say that I gain  a degree of motivation from schadenfreude.  I focused on a steady step pattern and keeping as light as I can on my feet as I passed a few on the way up.  It seemed to work.  I got to the top able to keep moving, where as some around me were pausing for breath. I even donated my final Babybel to a club mate who was bonking big time.

So why am I tapping this out then?  Well, my finish time was 4.12 on my Garmin (Strava here).  The official results are not out yet, suffice to say I was very pleased with 4 hours 12 minutes.  I wanted sub 4.30 and got it comfortably. I was buzzing!  I would have been happy with a 4.29!  I am on the whole not one to obsess over times, if I ran well; I am generally happy , better than the aim I set myself  –  I am more pleased. Better than the previous time – I am over the moon.  Having said that I never look the previous times up before a race, preferring to run on feel rather than time pressure.  When people ask me what my Tour PB is I always say its about 3.45 I can never remember what it actually is… so 4.12 is quite away short, but that’s okay I was happy with the time and more importantly the way I ran and felt all the way round. SO in getting home to record the result on my log of races (GEEK) I casually check what my PB is… 3.43.  gosh, quite a way short then.  That prompted me to look over previous results:

2011 first Tour – 4.44 (It hurt. Lots.)

2012 PB 3.43  (I learnt a lot that year about fell running!)

2014 3.50

2015 Weather shortened course – 2.45  (doesn’t count)

2016 In the snow – see here – 4.09.

Making 4.12 in 2018 My second worst time running this race!!!  How does that work?? How can I have felt so good, had great conditions and seemingly ran so well to deliver as duff a time as that!  I was slower than the snow year where you couldn’t actually pass anyone or else you were in knee deep snow!

So can someone please contact me with an address for the running gods.  I have a complaint to make.

( That said, see you in 2019, TOP!)


Music is a big part of my world. It has been since about the age of 10 or 11.  I have listened too, appreciated and spent a fortune on music. Recorded on vinyl, cassette and CD, (still cant get into downloading/streaming) I have been to several hundred gigs from rooms at the back of a pub to big stadium and festival shows. I have been a part of musical performances, including choral singing representing England at an international Eisteddfod (we beat the Welsh choir, but came second over all).  Music continues to be something I draw upon regularly from the daily journey to work; where ever that may be, to evenings with friends and family and on the occasional run – when I am not feeling motivated to go out or have only time for a local street run I have been known to run with music on headphones.  For the past few years mountain marathon overnight camps have gone by  quicker with a small MP3 player taken as a luxury item.

I have broad tastes, largely guitar driven on the Heavy Rock (Metal!) side through to Indie guitar styles also. I have enjoyed house music/EDM, old school rap and hip hop and even attended classical performances in my time.

So, in a moment of distraction from a more pressing task, my thoughts wandered on to a tune and I wondered what outdoor themed songs I had in my music collection.  Several hours later I thought… hmm I’d like to share these.  They are all tracks I own, some may not be regulars on my play list, but I have them in one format or another. They are also not  necessarily the artists “best” song – it just has an outdoor theme (some of them very ‘ish!’ on the outdoors theme).  All poached from YouTube – sorry for any ads.

So just for fun then, outdoor themed tunes…

Frank Turner – The Outdoors Type, originally by The Lemonheads, but I don’t have that, where as I do have just about everything Mr Turner has recorded… Not his finest work (check out current album – Be More Kind) but a natty ditty anyway.

New Order – Krafty, Legends.  From ‘Waiting For the Sirens Call’ a more recent release and I think some of their best tunes.  By far the best track on the album, a song extolling the virtues of taking time away  and getting outside to gain perspective.

New Model Army – Summer Moors, In the interests of openness… my favourite band.  I had to get something by them into this list somehow….


Biffy Clyro – Mountains, Top notch scotch pop rock. ‘Mon the Biff!

Led Zepplin  – Misty Mountain Hop, Okay other than the title It has very little to do with the outdoors and more to do with copious amounts of drugs.  That was a thing back then… Good title though!

Doves – Winter Hill,  If this blog were about motorways they could tick a box there as well.  Good biking in the video too…

Idlewild – El Capitan,  Criminally underrated band.  Good tunes, great harmonies and some stunning lyrical imagery. What’s not too like?

Iron Maiden – Run to the Hills, But it could have been The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Where Eagles Dare (tenuous!)  For me a band at a defining point in my musical education.  I cant imagine a time where I won’t want to listen to Maiden.  Up the Irons!


One Green hill – Oysterband, Where my interest in folk music started to grow. A top tune.  the Lead Singer John Jones is famously a devoted rambler and tours as a solo artist – booking venues on their proximity to hills and moor land as opposed to size and audience potential! search for ‘Boff Whalley and John Jones interview’ on You Tube and he explains the reasoning….


So there you go. Anything you like? What do I not have in my overall collection that I should have – from an outdoors perspective?

Please  comment on the social media platforms where this link is posted…..