Sinfin Running Club Awards Evening Saturday 08/01/2022

Sinfin Running Club Awards Evening Saturday 08/01/2022

After nearly 2 years of pandemic disruption to the majority of our running we finally had another Awards Evening. Although this could have quite easily fallen through due to those restrictions but luckily those lateral flow tests allowed it for us ?

The evening is one where we dress up and celebrate our members achievements over the past 12 months with some special mentions due to our not being able to have a celebration evening last year.

A change of venue this year with us being in the function room of the Bell Hotel on Sadler Gate. Very popular choice as this allows our members to meet up in town prior and then move on afterwards if you are ‘up to it’.

We were seated by 7.30 with the starters coming out shortly after this, followed but the mains and then the puddings.

After a short break the presentations began

Charity Fund Raising since the start of Covid.


The 2020 Lockdown virtul runs were there to encouage and inspire us to continue running even in those days when we were allowed to venture out for only a limited time..
The Awared going to Graeme who has achieved a number of amazing PB results.
The award shared by Becky and Sharon for their 50 mile Ultra Nomad Run
Dan being a worthy winner in this section – aiminng for 1.15 in a 10k – getting 48mins – #SmashedIt
Dennis – always there to run with us and get you over that line 🙂
The Fell Champs – the only ful year category and very close in the final results.

Quite a successful evening overall and thank you to the Bell Hotel for their hospitality and successfully getting us all fed and watered. We do know they had a staffing shortage in the kitchen but everything was on time without us knowing on the night. #WellPlayed 🙂

One final shout to James Spray who did the organisation of this event and everything that this entails. #AbsoluteLegend

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Cape Wrath Ultra: “My journey into the Heart of Darkness” OR “Feet, Eat, Sleep, Repeat”

Below is a report from Simon following his completion of the ‘Cape Wrath Ultra’  – plenty of content and pictures of the stunning views but also including  the odd foot, arm and result tickets) – enjoy 🙂 

Cape Wrath Ultra: “My journey into the Heart of Darkness” OR “Feet, Eat, Sleep, Repeat”


In the week preceding the start of Cape Wrath Ultra I jokingly commented on the participants group that Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” randomly came to mind whilst preparing food packs and contemplating what an idiot I was for even entering those seemingly countless months previously. Never has a truer word been spoken in jest…


For those not aware, the Cape Wrath Ultra is an 8-day, staged, 400+km exploration from Fort William to the light house at Cape Wrath, with a time limit of either 15 or 16 hours each day. The route weaves its way through the Scottish Highlands, covering 11,000+m of elevation in some of the most remote locations in the UK, following a mix of road (thankfully little of that), tracks, trail, and lots of pathless terrain (think thigh deep heather, tussocks, bogs, and plenty of river crossings), on an unmarked route, relying on a map and compass or GPS. It’s rumoured to be one of the hardest out there, for various reasons, and that point was reinforced by many of those I met on the event who all agreed this was the hardest they’d completed in comparison to some of the other infamous events such as MDS and Dragons Back – I didn’t know this when I entered! During the day participants are fully self-sufficient, carrying all food required whilst on course, and collecting water from rivers and streams. There were never more than 3 timed checkpoints each day, staffed by a small safety team if you needed extraction or to pull you from the course if you timed out; if you were lucky, they’d offer some encouraging abuse to keep you moving…


A campsite was set up ready at the end of each day next to a river or loch for washing, with a cooked dinner and breakfast provided by the crew of volunteers. Due to Covid we were allocated individual 2-man tents rather than their planned 8-man tents; I’m not sure if shared tents would have been better, our weather was mostly very good so a shared communal area of the larger tents to keep kit dry was mostly unnecessary. The individual tents were cramped but adequate, you just had to be efficient and tidy with kit, storing most items outside in the 80lt drybag we could each bring. Thankfully tents are pre-pitched by the crew, so that was one thing not having to factor into each day’s routine. This was going to be so far out of my comfort zone and stretch and test me in so many ways, from the huge distance, elevation, terrain, navigation, isolation, days on feet, nutrition, self-sufficiency, and aspects of camp life….


When I’d entered for the 3rd running of the CWU, scheduled for May 2020, I had the idea to broadly follow a 50-mile training plan supplemented with extra strength work and focus on elevation and technical terrain, knowing any higher volume leads me to injury and quite frankly the misery of running taking over all my weekends and entire life, and if that had happened, I’d still be restoring the Scimitar now! Although there’s a lack of mountains in the Peak District, that was my main training ground (covid lockdown allowing) and it would turn out that the pathless bogs and tussocks of the Dark Peak were ideal territory, supplemented with a few trips to the Lake District (I had read a blog from a previous winner who had trained predominantly around Kinder, so at least I knew I was in good company).


So, Covid happened; May ’20 got postponed 12 months and training went down the pan. Like many others during lockdown 1, I had a crisis of focus, rapid decline in training, lack of motivation to slog out the miles on the same, all too familiar flat local trails, but luckily saw the opportunity to use the 12 months extra time to get some focus back and take this more seriously, so hired Andy Brooks of Peak Running to provide his expert coaching. I knew I needed flexibility and I wouldn’t have been able, or wanted, to stick to a rigid daily plan, but just wanted weekly mileage and elevation targets, a bit of an idea how to integrate strength and modest speed & hill work into the long, slow runs, and general advice on how to tackle a multi-day ultra.


I’d managed to follow most of the plan, a bit low on elevation due to the flatness of south Derby, but had got back on track when we could travel farther afield. However, near disaster struck when I frustratingly picked up a hamstring injury in Feb 2021 whilst on a gentle jog back from my local fishmonger (crab and cod if I remember rightly). My plan had increased intensity, volume and strength work in the lead-up, and although this felt modest with no ill effects for a month or so I think my body had just given up. This led to a good 4 weeks off any running or leg strength work before I could foam-roll pain-free and I was confident to start again, taking a couch-to-5K approach over 3-4 weeks before being back at full volume. From then on, I stuck solely to low effort runs, I just wasn’t confident, and couldn’t afford for anymore niggles. Thankfully, for me, during my enforced rest the May start was postponed again with options to defer to August ‘21 or May ‘22; not wanting another 6 months of training over winter I opted for August accepting it would be a midge-fest.


The training, to my mind, was fairly low volume too as I’m old now and prone to niggles (see above). The biggest weeks (2 of them overall) were ~70 miles, which I completed as advised in the Lake District, camping for 3 big back-to-back days of running to get some good mountain training which I can’t find in the Peak District, and to work out managing camp life as well as testing full day kit. Although the rocky passes of the Lakes were no doubt great training, as I’ve said the off-trail bogs and moors of Kinder and Bleaklow served as an excellent training ground for the pathless sections on CW; looking back I noticed on the more technical sections I was ‘relatively’ faster than others around me, more so toward the end of the week, perhaps a combination of strength (bogs are energy sapping) with being acclimatised to look ahead to efficiently navigate around mounds and trenches. Thankfully the CWU moorland was exceptionally dry compared to the Dark Peak and the trenches were mere steps compared to the 6-foot trenches I’ve trained around. Saying it was dry is relative though, feet were constantly wet, as soon as they’d start to dry to tolerable moistness, they’d be another river to wade through just to re-wet them enough to ensure trench foot was never far from mind.


Was I ready? Everyone will always say no, me included, but I’d stuck to the plan albeit with a harder taper mainly due to laziness, so I was as ready as I could ever be. I drove up to Scotland a few days before to allow a more relaxing drive and to stretch my legs, staying in Moffat for one night and a short hike, followed by a couple of nights in Fort William to fill up on plenty of local craft beer from the Black Isle brewery tap bar. The decision to drive up early was also partly (or even mainly) because I wanted to take the Scimitar for a decent road trip after finishing the restoration last year and to be honest, I wasn’t fully confident it would make it without assistance from the AA. I was as equally worried about my own performance in the event too, but the car made it faultlessly J. Looking back the road trip was maybe an omen of my event too – initial nervous trepidation, steady cruising, bursts of speed, the occasional stop to refuel, but no major breakdowns and a sigh of relief when I arrived. btw the trip back wasn’t so faultless though I hasten to add I’ve since discovered it was nothing to do with my car building skills. Anyway, this isn’t a classic car forum, so back to the running.


As everyone had said beforehand, “start slow”. No fear in doing anything else, after a final brew and bite of the bacon sarnie I’d been given by the B&B, with bagpipes playing us out and Ben Nevis in the background, I slotted into the back of the field from the start. We had a nice little group, getting to know each other as we trotted down the road under uncharacteristically sunny skies. Some of those from Day 1 would become good running companions and week-long nemeses for the rest of the tour. However, at the end of Day 1 I felt worryingly bad, if I felt like this after a short day I was going to seriously struggle for the rest of the week, but I put it down to the high temperature (someone had measured 30C), sun exposure, and extended 4 weeks taper I’d given myself with very little running or elevation in that period, and hoped my body would adapt. Thankfully it did.


The next few days stayed hot, and had their usual ultra-mood elevator swings, nothing I wasn’t used to. My pace was very closely matched with a local runner, Bee, except on the descents where she’d effortlessly float off into the distance until I’d gradually slog away to catch up over the next flattish section, so we wiled away the hours and first few days together, occasionally overlapping with another Scot, Kirstine, who would become my mountain climbing nemesis, mostly in silence from me apart from my telling of the best joke in the world, which didn’t go down well. I think it was day 2 when I brought up the topic of cannibalism with Kirstine, although I wasn’t even that hungry at the time and still had a full day’s food supply; the conversation didn’t last long, maybe it was too early in the week to bring it up?


It wasn’t particularly planned but also not entirely coincidental I was pacing with women, the stats showed that the female drop-out rate is lower than the men’s since they’re more sensible and start slower (right, ladies?), and those at the back in the first few days have a higher success rate. The pace was comfortable and still under cut-off times so there was no need to get sucked into a battle with anyone else. This point was to be proven when 2 or 3 lads who were a little faster in those early days ended up behind me on the final days.

Other’s blogs and the website have described the terrain in more detail so I won’t repeat, and photos really don’t do it justice, but suffice to say the Scottish Highlands are epic and magnificent, with uninterrupted sweeping vistas of Bens, Glens, crags and Lochs. You could often see the mountain pass to aim for looking no more than 3-4 miles away, only to find yourself hours later seemingly no closer and ending up at more like 10 miles!


Over the first 4-5 days the running and hiking were great, the hours seemed to fly-by, there were the usual mild mood swings, physical discomfort, but you soon learn as an ultra-runner these are manageable, and the level of pain plateaus with the technical terrain and views a welcome distraction, so job’s a good’un. 

When I entered, I honestly never thought I’d make it past day 3, it’s not the longest distance but has the most elevation and despite this day having the extra bonus hour to finish it has previously had the biggest drop-out rate of the 8 days. I’m usually in the bottom 25% of finishers on ultras I’ve completed before, so coupled with a previous finish rate of 60% I was fairly sure day 3 would see me DNF and I’d become a non-competitive runner for the remaining 5 days, being allowed to run half day’s dependent on transport and access to insertion points. I ran day 3 with the same small group, albeit strung out that formed on day 1, and I think that helped all of us to keep moving at a steady, metronomic pace. Although eventually finishing just after dusk with just half an hour to spare, it never felt rushed so I was pretty surprised, and obviously happy with that, until it slowly dawned that I was actually going to have to try and finish, ‘just’ 5 more days to go! As predicted, plenty didn’t make it that day.


My memory of days 4 and 5 have faded, they were both short days (21 and 27 miles I think), so allowed for a stress-free run and plenty of time in camp to wash, check feet, eat and sleep. What I do remember is from day 5 the mood swings gradually became more compressed and more extreme, like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I don’t know if it was the physical exertion, the achingly slow progress over relentless rocks and tussocks, the prolonged periods of isolation and self-doubt, or the sleep deprivation. From the second night onward, I really struggled to get any decent sleep through a combination of aching feet and muscles but mostly from horrendous night sweats, I would manage to doze off around midnight but only to awaken at 1-2 am drenched in sweat and unable to get a comfortable temperature for another hour or 2, just before the inevitable 5am alarm to raise me from my fatigue-ridden slumber. I’ve never experienced this type of night sweats before, but speaking to people in camp I wasn’t alone and the thinking is it’s caused by either dehydration during the day so the body was sweating out toxins, or that it was part of the bodies healing process from the day’s exertions. Whatever it was I didn’t like it, the fatigue each morning was becoming a drain and my appetite at breakfast was waning so it was becoming more of an effort each morning to force down sufficient calories, but at least the food could be washed down with limitless mugs of tea.


I think it was day 6, soon after the mid-way checkpoint, when I noticed I was becoming detached from reality. I hadn’t seen any other runners for a long time and I was coming in and out of a dream-like state; I was fully aware of the feeling so it wasn’t worrying, but at times it was like moving without conscious thought, not effortless, but in the flow, like my body knew what to do, there was no outside world, this was my life, nothing else mattered or even existed… I’ve read of people’s experiences like this but usually associated with single-stage events over 30-40 hours but never experienced, it was quite a revelation, is this the runners high that people talk of but has always eluded me? I felt almost elated at times, the middle 26 miles were runnable (book-ended by big mountain passes), good gradient, not too uneven and I found myself skipping along almost dancing around my poles, this was great, for now…, but wow, a real journey of exploration, what a roller coaster ride it was!!!


It rained at the end of day 6. A Lot! It was a bit scary descending the final gorge at times surrounded by thigh-deep torrents of rising water, it’s character building apparently, or some other nonsense, but I survived the descent and enjoyed the final few miles run into camp on flat, winding single track in the pissing rain, just like a good winter fell race in the Peaks, but warmer!


Day 7 I’d rather forget; I broke a pole on the first descent, quads were done from then onwards. The horrific underfoot conditions along the final loch were mentally, physically and emotionally sapping. Despite being so close to the end of day 7 (that’s relative by the way), and the knowledge I might just complete all 8 days, I’ve never felt more like stopping to just lay down, cry and sleep ever before! I was done, spent up, no one around to pick me up, no biscuits left in the tin, and down to the last pieces of hill food with pretty much just emergency food left! I think it was the thought of all the messages of support through the week, the struggles of fellow competitors digging deeper than can be expressed, that stopped me from even just sitting down for 30 seconds… Strangely enough, despite the near melt-down, when I arrived into camp Sabrina Verjee was near the finish (she’s an elite in this mad world of adventure racing) and said they’d seen someone (me) coming down the road into camp and they were debating if it was crew they were moving too fast to be a competitor, nah that was me; I’ll take that compliment…


Day 8 was never going to be easy but no one had ever DNFd on the last day with such a generous cut-off, and for the first time I woke in an exuberant mood, hungry for breakfast for the first time in days, I actually managed seconds. This was it! I might just finish!!  Today was just about getting the job done, grind out the last few miles, take in the views and look forward to the café beer whilst ‘pretending’ to try and beat Kirstine one last time (it didn’t happen, too many tough climbs for me whilst she’d remained strong and was out of sight as soon as we left the initial flat track). As an unexpected surprise a local family had set up an aid station on the road section a couple of miles out of camp, the only normal people I’d seen on the course all week, a sign we were back in civilisation, , so I grabbed a handful of crisps and drink, had a quick chat with high 5’s with the kids and then cracked on.


After the first half on road and track the route was back to being boggy, off-trail again, with short-sharp descents and climbs along the coastal cliffs; at least today there was always someone in view to provide reassurance of route choice. The final mile or two picked up an undulating 4X4 track to the lighthouse, being so close I actually forced a run even though I didn’t need to, it just felt right to finish as strong as I could. A few hundred yards along a minibus full of finishers was heading back down to take them to our ferry boat about an hour away, I moved over onto the verge but it stopped adjacent to me as the driver got out his bugle and I was handed a can of beer to cheers from those inside, I took a quick swig and set off again with the drivers bugling seemingly pushing me onward with a grin on my face; never before has McEwans finest Export ever tasted so much like sweet nectar. Half an hour or so later I could see the finish line flags, but the lighthouse was obscured by dense mist, and then that was it, it was over. It was a relief more than anything, almost an anti-climax, my body and mind had been so tuned to focus on just forward momentum interrupted by the regimen of camp life I didn’t really know what to do. So, some photos and hugs with the crew and I headed into the café to another round of applause, a sandwich, tea and another McEwans whilst we waited for our turn on the minibus.


I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet what I achieved, it’s hard to comprehend looking back to where it all started with the hours of training and preparation, or even why I decided to enter in the first place. The race director, Shane, had described it at the race briefing as a privilege to be there, and it absolutely was, and an honour to run with you with some great athletes, and I’m including everyone who made the start line, not just the elites, and to see first-hand how the fast kids do it during the inevitable over-taking early each day; oh how I wished I’d had their extra 30 hours in camp too to do my feet, eat, and sleep.


I keep randomly remembering little things, I’m sure that will continue for a while whilst I process and tease apart 8 of the most tortuous, adventurous, epic, amazing days of my life which at the moment have seemingly blended into one, sometimes feeling like aeons ago, other times like it was yesterday. I think that’s one of the best parts, and I’ll continue to regale (bore) my friends over a few pints for the weeks to come, milking them for more adulation until it’s a distant memory… They keep telling me what I’ve achieved is amazing, maybe in time it will focus into reality and I’ll think that too and get rid of this imposter syndrome.


I owe a lot of thanks to so many, I couldn’t have done it without the support and camaraderie on course and in the camp from competitors and crew alike, always happy to help and support especially when I was properly miserable, I felt a sense of belonging; the messages from family, friends, running clubs (SRC, LERC, Shelton, Derwent..), and the coaching group, they really meant so much at the end of a tough day, more so than on any other event; of course coach Andy, without his guidance I’d have been a sure-fire DNF, or even a DNS.


Some numbers:

  • Starters = 89
  • Competitive finishers = 52 (60% similar to the previous 2 events)
  • My position = 50
  • Total time on feet = 83 hours
  • Winning time = 50 hours
  • Weight loss = 4 kg (this was 2 weeks after, I neglected to weigh myself straight afterward)


Things that I learnt:

  • CWU is effin hard, a full on suffer fest at times, physically, mentally and emotionally.
  • CWU is amazing, you can go hours without seeing any people or signs of civilisation, it really was a privilege to solo navigate through such remote wilderness.
  • Physically, pain reaches a plateau which you just learnt to deal with.
  • The sleep deprivation was by far the hardest bit, affecting mental and emotional capacity. I look back in fondness at the incredible mood swings, from ecstatic highs to crushing lows, the trance-like state of mind and the acid-trip-like vividness of the greens and blues of the sweeping Highlands.
  • Anyone can do more than the think, you just have to be prepared to try.
  • I still feel like an imposter, like it was an outer body experience seeing someone else doing it, not me. One day I hope that might change.
  • I will go back to run the Highlands again, but not at CWU, been there and done it.
  • Topo shoes are way better built than Altra, although they don’t drain so well, and green ones are better than red.


My advice for CWU, and maybe running or other stuff in general:

  • If you live by the sword, prepare to die by the sword (I actually choose to do this stuff)
  • Don’t wait until you think you’re ready, you’ll never think you are and you’ll only find out by doing.
  • Enter first, then worry about the training (although that’s probably the worst bit of advice I could give, but that’s how I did it anyway).
  • Get a good coach who asks about your background and has specificity in your type of event; that way if you find out you weren’t ready you have someone to blame.
  • Listen to your coach, not anyone else; do yourtraining at your pace, not anyone else.
  • If you want a good idea of the terrain, have a go at the Kinder Dozen (I attempted it twice during training, and bailed out both times, but I will finish next time).
  • Train with all your kit and nutrition, on specific terrain.
  • Be efficient in camp, know what you’re going to do, and do it before you eat.
  • Take more waterproof bags than you think you need
  • Take more socks than you think you need (I can recommend Injinji merino, they would dry to a tolerable dampness over-night, my non-merino would still be sodden)
  • 4 pairs of pants are plenty for 8 days, could have got away with 2 I recon.
  • Everyone stinks, don’t worry about it! Except the leaders, they have sooo much time in camp they get to have a decent river wash each day.
  • Poles work! Until they break!
  • Best bit of kit – a shoehorn!
  • Second best bit of kit – laminated day cards showing distances, elevations, route profile and target pacing.
  • Take a variety of hill food to avoid getting bored and that will last the week in a warm bag (mine consisted of different flavoured nuts, biltong, Veloforte bars, Awesome bars, mini malt loaf, min flapjacks, salt tabs (I only drank plain water), and lemon sherbets)


Simon Bray…

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James Spray Running 26.2 miles over 10 consecutive days

In these unusual times one of our SRC members took on a challenge in aid of the Rainbows Hospice for Children Young People to enable them to continue the amazing support they give to over 450 families impacted by life-limiting conditions.

The challenge was a grullling 10 marathons over 10 consecutive days from Friday the 16th of October 2020 to Sunday the 25th of October 2020.

Some amazing support by friends, family, SRC and other running clubs enabled James to complete his mission with £4712 raised (and still climbing).

Quite an inspirational achievemnt by James in terms of the money raised and with each marathon in less than 4hrs 30 incuding the last marathon in an amazing time of 3hrs 48.

Hats off to you Spray 🙂

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Sinfin Running Club Cheque Presentation 24/07/2019

Sinfin Running Club presented a cheque to a representative from the Air Ambulance Service on Wednesday the 24th of July 2019.

This amount was from funds raised from our Sinfin Classic 10K race. We have chosen to present this to the Air Ambulance Service as our charity of choice. We do this as the Air Ambulance do not receive any government funding and rely purely on donations to fund their activities.

For more information about the Air Ambulance please see the below link



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On Snowdonia Trail Marathon Report.

Below is a rather interesting report form James Spray following his completion of the Snowdonia Trail Marathon

This is a ‘tough’, to say the least, race.

The website explains.

This is one of the UK’s most challenging trail races. The On Snowdonia Trail Marathon is a challenge in every sense of the word. Ascending 1,685 metres over 26 miles of iconic and spectacular trails, this epic race will circumnavigate and eventually climb Wales’ highest peak – Snowdon. The incredible route explores the trails, gorgeous panoramic views and tough climbs that make Snowdonia National Park such a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Visiting Rhyd Ddu, Beddgelert, Nant Gwynant, Pen y Pass and Snowdon, there surely can’t be a more striking trail marathon route in the UK!

Winging it in Wales.

Snowdonia trail marathon.

When I booked this race a year ago I was fit, lean and injury free. Fast forward 365 days I’m the total opposite.
Although I’ve ran 3 marathons this year, none of these were with any conviction.
After beating Achilles tendinitis, I’m now living with a very niggly groin.

I picked up the boys on Saturday lunch time and Brendan came out of his house with 3 huge bags. Thought he was moving out. He certainly comes prepared.

After about 3 hours we arrived at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll (I know, what a mouth full. Nicknamed it piggy wiggle for short)
Our hotel looked very inviting from the outside……then we went inside…………….
It was very dated. The rooms just made me laugh out loud how old fashioned they were but we weren’t bothered.
After a quick pint we drove to zipworld where Deano, Fordy and I had booked to ride Europe’s fastest and longest zip slide.
This didn’t disappoint. What an experience. The colour of adrenaline is without question brown!!

Back to faulty towers for a few more beers and some tea. The food was actually very nice but the Barman could not pour a pint of Guinness for toffee!

Called it a night about 10 and after an horrendous nights sleep in an awful bed it was race day.
Dean and I devoured a full English brekky and we headed off to the race village to pick up our numbers.
We found the car park but frustratingly there were large queues for the paying machines and a lot of confused faces.
It wouldn’t except notes, kept saying ‘void’ for contactless and chip and pin.
We eventually paid over the phone taking to a robot. What ever happened to a pensioner in a cabin with a newspaper to pay?
Anyway, we made the race brief and picked up numbers with 10 mins to spare.

At the start we saw a fellow Sinfin runner in Duncan Cowie. Bren, Dunc and I agreed to get round together. Duncs has a niggly injury also. Plan was to enjoy it and finish in one piece.
The klaxon went off at 9am and we began our journey through a small village, Llanberis with many supporters were cheering and clapping.
Half a mile in we came to out first hill. Half a mile in, we were walking. The sun was shining and I was sweating.
This is gunna be a long day I thought. About 4 miles in it started to get a bit technical.
One minute you were running on a huge pyramid made of slate, the next rolling country side with stray rocks and boggy areas.
Gunna be a long day alright.
We ran through picture postcard village and round beautiful lakes.
We chatted about sport, music and work and the early hours flew by.
I knew this race was going to get very difficult, very soon.
We went through woodland and the rocks were getting more and more present. You have to keep your wits about you with every footstep.
Mile 18 came and I took a deep breath. Here she is. The pyg (pig) track. We’re going UP!!!!
The ascent was something else. It was relentless. Kept going and going. We were faced with jagged rocks that you had to get on all fours on and climb. It was very scary in places. Every footstep had to be right. It would of tested Spider-Man.
The track was very busy with walkers out in large numbers.
It’s so different to other races. If you want to pull out, you can’t without climbing all the way back.
I looked at my watch, a mile bleeped on my Garmin. 30 minutes.
It took me 90 minutes to climb 3 miles…
And I still wasn’t at the top.
Finally made it up and was I relieved. Quick photo at the top and a drink then I thought wow I’ve got to go down now!
The descent was tricky on very tired legs but we walked most it. I was still tripping over rocks and losing concentration.
One minute I nearly went flying. How I stayed up was a miracle. I could of done some serious damage.
When we finally made it off the rock and slate path we got to road which felt vertical. More descent.
Quads and calf’s in the hurt locker now.

We could see the race village and hear the mc. Not far now, I’d already clocked 27 miles on my watch.
We reached the bottom of the hill and the Marshall said ‘you’ve not finished yet’ another mile was to be ran through more woods.
We finished together, collected medals and high fived.
That was brutal.
I walked more than I ran and I climbed more than I walked.
Yesterday I was a mountain goat and the groins no worse.

Dean and Ian flew round. Massive kudos there.

I respect anyone who’s ran a marathon (in any time)
Have slightly more for anyone who’s been round that!

Did I enjoy it? yes!

Would i do it again? Doubt it

Would I recommend it? For sure.

Toughest, most technical marathon I’ve ever done.

We returned to the car, showered at the ritz and went out for a night in Menei Bridge. A quaint little village a few miles away. We ate like kings and drank like vikings and giggled all night.

Wales you were special.

Until the next one.

Great memories.










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Cross Country Update Jan 19 to the 3rd of February 2019

Our The Cross Country League consists of the following Fixtures for 2019

05/01/2019 – Derbyshire XC Championships – Wollaton Park
06/01/2018 – East Midlands – Bramcote
12/01/2019 – North Midlands – Wollaton Park
13/01/2019 – East Midlands – Holme Pierrepont
03/02/2019 – East Midlands – Colwick Woods
17/02/2019 – East Midlands – West Park
23/02/2019 – National XC Championship – Leeds
TBC – Easter 10K – Wollaton Park (was 02/04/2018)
TBC – Duffield 5 – (was 25/06/2018)
TBC – Little Eaton 5 – (was 01/07/2018)
03/11/2019 – Dovedale Dash
The North Midlands races will resume in Sept/Oct 2019 – details will follow once the dates are released

These are the results from those races 05/01 to 03/02

05/01/2019 – Derbyshire XC Championships – Wollaton Park


Name Distance Time
Yakoub Mohammed 10K 33.55
James Spray 10K 39.11
Jason Ball 10K 39.48
Chris Morrison 10K 40.07
Zak Mohammed 10K 42.07
Fiona Hawkins 8K 31.44
Helen Ripley 8K 38.02
Jules Heithus 8K 38.30
Andrea Talbot 8K 40.07







06/01/2018 – East Midlands – Bramcote


Name Distance Time
Jason Ball 4.5M 42.58
Steve Cresswell 4.5M 49.39
Simon Bray 4.5M 52.31
Richard Record 4.5M 55.01
James Spray 4.5M 55.01
Paul Stevenson 4.5M 58.12
Caroline Scott 2.25M 23.49
Jules Heithus 2.25M 27.43
Helen Ripley 2.25M 28.14
Andrea Talbot 2.25M 28.54

Bramcote XC 06 01 19





12/01/2019 – North Midlands – Wollaton Park


Name Distance Time
Jason Ball 10K 46.15
Chris Morrison 10K 47.00
Steve Cresswell 10K 52.21
Ian Carson 10K 1.01.39
Paul Stevenson 10K 1.03.25
Caroline Scott 6K 27.25
Helen Ripley 6K 32.33
Jules Heithus 6K 32.53
Alyson Woodcock 6K 33.54
Andrea Talbot 6K 33.58


Ladies at Wollaton 12 01 19





13/01/2019 – East Midlands – Holme Pierrepont

No Participants in this one – it’s was the day after our Sinfin Awards Night.
Of course – if I had been fit enough to run I would of run it (feel ashamed boys and girls…feel ashamed….)

03/02/2019 – East Midlands – Colwick Woods


Name Distance Time
Jason Ball 4.85M 40.45
Richard Record 4.85M 440.28


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The Arc of Attrition – Friday 01/02/2019 – 100 Mile Ultra (36hr Cut off)

This is an Event that Simon, from our Club, took part in and this post contains Simon’s blog from the event in the bottom section of this post which is quite interesting reading especially if you are considering participating in an Ultra.

To explain the details of the race I’ve copied in the details from the event holders website below.

The Arc of Attrition : 100mile Winter Coastpath Ultra.

The “RaidLight” Arc of Attrition : Become a legend by completing the South West’s toughest footrace.

The Arc is a point-to-point extreme coastal race from Coverack to Porthtowan taking in 100miles of stunning and dramatic Cornish Coastpath with competitors running in challenging winter conditions. Runners will complete an Arc around the entire south west foot of Cornwall.  The race has a strict 36 hour cut-off with additional checkpoint and safety cut-offs on route. With checkpoints approximately 20 miles apart, competitors will need the ability to be self-sufficient for long periods of time.

The event carries 5 points towards qualification to the UTMB.

As safety is our primary concern, competitors will need to carry mandatory kit at all times and will be subject to random kit checks throughout the event. We would strongly recommend and advise the use of your own support crew.  The cost of entry includes the hire of a compulsory GPS tracking device which allows race HQ (and your friends and family) to track your progress online throughout the event.

The race starts at 12.00 noon on Friday and competitors will be bussed to the start area at Coverack from the race HQ at the EcoPark Porthtowan.

Although it follows a way-marked route, this is a self-navigation event and ONLY suitable for experienced ultrarunners. There is an entry requirement of at least a 100km finish and considerable experience of night time running. We reserve the right to refuse an entry if we believe you do not have the right level of experience to compete in this event safely. If this is the case we will refund any monies paid in full.

All competitors will receive an event hoodie at registration and all finishers will be awarded an exclusive and much coveted MudCrew 100mile buckle.

The Arc of Attrition by MudCrew. Become a Legend !






Click on the picture to see the route of the course

Before the race started the conditions were as per the below picture






The prospects of doing the race must have seem quote daunting even then!!!

Anyway – onto Simon Blog and his reflection of the race (ohh,  importantly I do need to point out first that he didn’t manage to finish the race………)


So, as I reflect on my first DNF here’s another not-blog on my foray into the Arc of Attrition south west coast winter 100 mile ultra. I’ve had a drink and no sleep so this might be a bit long winded. Actually, it is.

After learning about the race and it’s 54% DNF rate a couple of years ago it was always on my wish list of the race i liked the look of but I’d never actually be able to do. After finishing my first (and only) centurion at TP100 laid on the floor surrounded by paramedics I also said I’d never do another 100. Two years later here I am having broken both promises. They do say if you don’t DNF you’re not trying hard enough, or some other nonsense, and I’m telling myself now it’s true.

Pretty much all my ultras I finish in the last few percent (except at CTS north York moors where I was third in cat, thought I’d throw that one in there) so I was in no way expectant of finishing the Arc but I had to have a go to truly test my mental and physical strength. The last 2 years had been preparing for this with races chosen to test extreme terrain, navigation and winter conditions, with many of those races pushing me to new limits, but all generally with generous cut offs; this is where the Arc differs.

The Arc has 4 timed checkpoints at 24, 38, 55 and 75 miles, and a 104 finish line cut at 36 hours. I was hoping to at least keep in the race beyond 25 hours, my longest time on feet to-date at UTS50, purely to experience some more sleep deprivation trippy hallucinations if nothing else.

The days preceding the Arc involved strength and conditioning with limited running to try and manage persistent niggles picked up during the summer fell season, plus a healthy dose of visualisation , and almost no booze for 3 weeks (I didn’t quite stick to that rule). On the day as our coach approached the start line it all became very real, time to focus on the first cut, I had to be out of the CP within 7:30, so my pace plan of 17 min/mile allowed 30 mins to refuel and eat a cream tea, seemed doable but I had no idea of what was to come. The terrain was brutal, a mix of churned mud, incessant headwind, rocks and steep technical ascents and descents. I stuck to pace but my work effort was way to high to sustain and I think I knew from the off my race was already all but over. Views were spectacular, huge crashing waves, but no time for any photos, every second was going to count.

First checkpoint I arrived with 45 mins to spare, met by a lovely Arc Angel she jogged with me to the CP to see what I needed and arrange food, a privilege bestowed only on unsupported solo runners. As soon as she mentioned a cream tea the decision was instant, served with tea and a soup, I shovelled it down, sorted water and was out with 30 mins to spare, doing some dead hard mental sums I was sure this meant CP2 was achievable with a pace of 18 min/mile.






The second section started well but it all became rather moister underfoot for a good few miles, I half expected Swamp Thing to rise up from the sodden ground, hmmm if only this was 10 hours later the hallucinations might have provided him. This of course meant cold wet feet for a few hours, nothing worse than I’ve suffered before so forget skirting round the deep puddles and plough on.

Darkness came along with black looking clouds, expectant of a storm, or maybe just because it was night?

The undulations were just as technical as first stage, dropping steeply into coves only to have to slog back up. my heart rate dropped as I’d anticipated but along with it so did my pace, also slowed by negotiating technical terrain in darkness.

I arrived at CP2 greeted by a horde of Arc Angel cheer leaders whooping and shouting as I jogged into Penzance, it was a welcome sight, but obvs not as motivating as the Sinfin Old Birds XC cheerleading crew. One of them joined me the last hundred yards, again taking my food order; annoyingly the food was served upstairs, it was a bit of an effort to drag my sorry ass up there (the stana chairlift was broken, true story).

A fair few runners were dropping out at this point. I was broken and it was serious effort to get back out but with 10 mins to spare I was off, with the words of one of the crew ringing in my ears that even now it would be tight for cut off at lands end.

Off into the dark streets of Penzance and then Mousehole, I was on my own, no torches visible in front or behind.

A totally different experience from the daylight section, you could hear waves crashing all around, like shotgun blasts and breaking glass but looking down over cliff edges was pure black, and the characteristic ocean smell of ozone intensified with the lack of visual stimulation. And I now had to self-navigate – I love my GPS, amazing accuracy and bleeps when I need to turn or head off course, messrs Garmin saved me a fair few errors today.

Then it started to rain, then some hail, a badger, and maybe some snow, hard to tell from the white flashes in the light of the head torch. It soon passed to reveal a cloudless sky and an amazing star-scape but the relentless head wind continued, now turning cold and biting, fingers alternating between mild cold and numbness.

Legs were trashed by now, every step descending was sending shocks through my quads, hamstrings aching and Achilles we’re taking a hammering; I slowed. Maybe 15 hours in by now, I’m not sure, but I was unsteady on my feet, tripping on occasion, saved only by the polish sisters; on single track muddy, rocky cliff edges I knew this dangerous, to the point I slowed to a snail’s pace on exposed sections. Oh, and there was a nice boulder field to negotiate somewhere along the way, having to balance on polished pebbles ranging in size from a poodle to maybe a pig.

At Minack one of the few Marshall’s said it was 5 miles to lands end CP, I had 100 minutes and that would leave no time to sort kit with my halfway drop bag nor take on food. This wasn’t looking good.

After what felt like hours (it probably was) I could see the glowing lights of lands end hotel from a couple of miles away, surely, I was nearly there, and I had 40 minutes – this was almost doable. I regrouped and made a concerted effort, head torches behind closing in whom I soon found out were the sweepers; I was the last runner coming in. The moral boost was short lived, in the blackness I had no idea there were two more coves to drop into between me and lands end, counting down the minutes it was soon 18hrs 30 minutes, the cut. So that was it, I was out, mixed feelings I wanted to stay out but relief I could stop. Knowing I had nothing to save for I picked up the pace and finished ‘strong’, but this time no Arc Angel greeting party, just a lone runner who’d dropped earlier, and the crew bringing out the remnant food for me. Then it rained, torrential, I’d had a lucky escape.

Sitting here now in the finish zone, watching the dots I still wish I was out there with them, experiencing the highs and lows and misery of ultra-running, but I can hardly walk. This race broke me, the terrain is brutal, the weather uncompromising, but the cut offs are ungenerous and that’s what got me; I’ll take whatever mother nature can bring but I was at the mercy of a sadistic race director. This race has a well-earned reputation, long may it continue!

I won’t be back…..maybe?







No finish picture of Simon here….

To make Simon’s weekend even more complete his car broke down on the way home…..





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Sinfin Running Club Dinner / Dance / Presentation Evening 12/01/2019

Sinfin Running Club Dinner / Dance / Presentation Evening 12/01/2019

It’s come round again – our Annual Dinner / Dance / Presentation evening.

Come to think of it – it’s never in that order – we can’t call it the Dinner / Presentation / Dance evening as it doesn’t sound right – let’s rename it to the Sinfin Running Club Awards Evening instead.

It’s come round again – our Annual Sinfin Running Club Awards evening

This is the time when we celebrate our club members achievements throughout 2018.

This year the venue for the Awards evening was the Folly at the Farmhouse (Near Mackworth).

Pre-drinks begin at 7pm in the bar upstairs but yet and again, by the time I got there, the bar was heaving so it was downstairs to the Folly to get to the bar to get the first drink in.

We were seated by 7.45 with the starters out shortly after that.

Dinner 1

Dinner 2

Dinner 3

Dinner 4

Dinner 5

Dinner 6

Dinner 7

Dinner 8

Dinner 9

Dinner 11

Dinner 12

Dniner 10

After the mains and then puddings came out it was straight onto the presentations.

Male Road Running Champion

  • 1st Brendan Devlin
  • 2nd Rob Lane
  • 3rd Neil Barnes

Regrettably Neil was not there to pick up his trophy – off out gallivanting as always 🙂



Female Road Running Champion

  • 1st Fiona Hakwins
  • 2nd =Alyson Woodcock
  • 2nd =Fiona Finnegan
  • 3rd Becky Barber


FR 2


Male Cross-Country Champion

  • 1st James Spray
  • 2nd Brendan Devlin
  • 3rd Chris Morrison

Brian was 4th and missed out a placing by 1 point despite only only being able to run half of the season




Female Cross-Country Champion

  • 1st Helen Ripley
  • 2nd Andrea Talbot
  • 3rd Jules Heithus




Fell Running Champion

  • 1st Caroline Scott
  • 2nd Trevor Hibbert
  • 3rd Paul Stevenson




Best Female Performance

  • Fiona Hawkins

Well done Fiona – records smashed this year….


Best Male Performance

  • Simon Bray

Recognition for those ultra’s that he continues to bang out.


Club Person of the Year

  • Fiona Hawkins

A new member to the club bringing with it a new dimension – a very valuable asset to the club

FClub (2)

Special notes of thanks to:

Clare, for organising the event as she does tirelessly.

Julie, for taking the presentation photos (i’ll take my camera next time !!)

Okay – awards are over – back to drinking

Bar 1

Bar 2

Bar 3








and then onto some dancing

Dance 1

Dance 2

Dance 3

Dance 4

DAnce 5

Dance 6

DAnce 7

Dance 8

Dance 9

DAnce 10

Dance 11

DAnce 12

Dance 13

DAnce 14

DAnce 15

I think I left about 12.30ish but believe that some others went on into town to a couple of venues 🙂

Town 1

Town 2

Town 3

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Pre Christmas Drinks – Wednesday 19th of December 2018

Pre Christmas Drinks – Wednesday 19th of December 2018

We usually run on Wednesday evenings but tradition has it that this shall stop on the Wednesday before Christmas.

On this day there is only one thing to do.

Congregate in Derby town centre and drink looking as foolish as possible in our Christmas Jumpers or anything else Christmassy (think my outfit is overdue a change for next year…..)

This is a very popular social event with most of the club turning up. Not sure why – are we a running club or drinking club? – it is hard to tell sometimes ?

We initially meet at the Standing Order at 7.30pm (again that is the traditional spot to start from). The drinks start to flow until someone eventually decides we should move on to find a place where there will be music and the opportunity to maybe get on the dance floor (depending on how drunk one gets)

So we moved onto the Slug and Lettuce (!). After a couple in there time to move on again.

So off to Revolution (as far as I can remember). #I always find it’s good to choose another venue where the toilets are a million miles away again. :O

The final stop is the evening was ‘Fever’ – don’t think we even had to pay to get in – could be wrong of course.

Me and Rob bailed out about 12.30ish to get a taxi whilst some of the more hardcore runners stayed out longer.

Rob did manage to nearly get into a fight with a young lady at the taxi rank but luckily I calmed the situation down…

Overall a great evening was had by all. Big shout out to Scopey – good to see you out with us.

Below are the photo’s

Not many this year – there are not many on social media and we didn’t even manage to get a group photo. We’ll have to assign an official photographer next year – mind you will that mean that they won’t be drinking :O





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The Montane Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra Race – by Simon Bray

“Welcome to Hell”
This is how a Mountain Rescue safety marshal described the race so I knew I was in for a real treat!

This was the third year of this race, but the rise in entries from 18, ~100 to 250 this year suggest its already becoming an infamous classic, sold as one of the most isolated and tough 55 mile races in England.

I’ve still not decided why i entered, I’d no experience of a solo, self-sufficient ultra, but it seemed like a good challenge to push myself as training for the Arc of Attrition next February, plus I’d completed the inaugural UTS50 in May with twice the elevation, so how hard could this be? Just a bit colder and soft underfoot?

I was very, very wrong.

The first marathon went well, I was actually enjoying it with the summer’s niggles not really bothering me (no more than I’d had before). Fuelled by pork pie and cheesy puffs, nav was easy on the unmarked course, only ever needing the map with good visibility making the compass and GPS unnecessary.
The course was nicely undulating with plenty of peat bogs and impeding barbed wire fences but still runnable sections to make good progress.
The only real issue was sore and ice cold, numb feet; I’d chosen to start in zero-cushioned Inov8’s, chosen for grip rather than comfort, and non-waterproof socks because I’d expected the bogs to come over the top and end up sloshing around. This was all tolerable, I knew I had waterproof socks and comfier shoes stashed in the drop bag waiting at the only aid station at the half-way.
So, 7:30 hrs and I was half-way, looking forward to warming up with a cuppa – this was the only proper aid station, otherwise there was a safety marshal approx every 5 miles, and water every 10.
The pit stop was in a remote farmhouse; and it was chaotic, bodies and kit everywhere, squeezing through the tiny kitchen area where volunteers were trying to dish out soup to us bedraggled runners. I was lucky and arrived in time to find one of the few sofa seats become available. I could hear lots of conversations from people dropping out and staff arranging transport. At the briefing the RD said this was the last spot for vehicle transport back, if you leave the farm you’re running, walking or crawling to the finish with no more access for 4X4’s onto the course.
I stuffed down a southern fried chicken wrap washed down with a large tea and some soup, so with changed socks and shoes, and the cheat sticks making their first appearance I headed back out fairly quickly – that was the end of the beginning.
It started to rain – a lot; visibility started to drop, I saw less and less competitors, and I’d heard the rumours about how much harder the second half would be – this was to be the start of the test i came here for!
I can’t remember much specific of the next few hours, apart for almost continuous sodden peat bogs, reed beds and grassy hills, it was a case of get my head down and make as much progress in daylight as I could. One of the marshal points had a fire pit, but a glaringly sad absence of sausages.
With reducing visibility the GPS became invaluable, saving significant time over map and compass.Mentally working out how much daylight was probably left in fast fading conditions I was hoping to make the only hut out on course so i could sort night-time kit out sheltered from the weather. As darkness descended this hope was fading, but just as i was preparing for a brief stop i could see the blinking beacon from the hut, hard to tell the distance in the drizzle and mist i pressed on and made it with just the last vestiges of twilight to light the way.
A quick set up of the headtorch, spare torch, batteries and powerpack moved to easier access I headed back out.
This was the start of the 3-yard stare, just the ground at my feet illuminated through the gloom.
The next few hours passed slowly in complete darkness and isolation – the sporadic glimpses of a feint glow from other lone runners giving some slight sense of security.
The route followed the pennine way for much of the night, with the benefit of mostly submerged flag stones – at least underfoot was firmer but the stones were slippy and at night a 12 min/mile jog was the best i could muster with any confidence of not tripping or slipping into the obsidium blackness of the bogs on both sides.
After a couple of wrong turns, quickly corrected with my new best friend the Garmin GPS64s, I ended up in a leap-frog contest with a fellow competitor (Russ) – he’d beat me uphill, I’d take him on the flat and down. At least now we could share navigation and check each others errors; and he was a veteran of the 108 mile, 60 hour Spine Challenger, recounting that the Goat was harder!
Next stop – the highest point of the route up the Cheviot; the first section of climb was steep, technical, and rather moist!
The rain had eased but with increasing elevation and dropping temperatures a return to a flagged path became much slippier so this became mostly a walk. I was tiring, weakened, and started to get dizzy spells from tiredness and reduced frequency of eating from being to engrossed in the technical terrain – this is a lesson I’ll take to the Arc, the priority is food over maintaining pace.
Russ pressed well ahead as I took on the cheesy puffs and snack bars, I quickly recovered and caught him after the decent to the next safety marshal where he was taking a brief rest.
The marshal advised we buddy up, indicating the next section was going to be hard going and difficult to navigate – can it really be that bad, harder than what we’d completed? yes, it was.
Somewhat indescribable, the next 10 miles of night-time hills were almost entirely flooded peat bogs, with zig-zag route finding becoming mentally tiring, scrambling up and down 6 foot trenches, traversing along fences, holding on to avoid falling into the unknown depths of the black water below. I’d avoided submerging deeper than knee height, but I’d had enough, this was the hell i’d read and heard tale of!
Taking it in turns with Russ to find the easiest route, with much backtracking this section took an age to complete even with the absence of rain pace was down to 30-45 mins/mile, it makes Bleaklow look like a sunday afternoon stroll.
With no choice but to grind out the miles finally the bogs subsided, transitioning into some technical rocky descents and the joy of runnable wet fields; it was all downhill mud from now on (apart from some minor bits of up, negotiating electric and barbed wire fences and some more bits of bog).
So that was it, the last section was on road before a short woodland trail; carrying the polish sisters it was a slow jog to the finish to be met by the RD shaking the hand of every finisher (he had a long day) and welcomed by a brief round of applause from the few competitors still recovering in the cafe at 1 a.m. and some soup.
Another life memory in the bag and a visit to a new part of the UK. Was it the hardest race I’ve done – yes; not the furthest, or the longest time on feet, but the mental battle with underfoot conditions puts it up there in my top 3 ultras along with TP100 and UTS50.

Next up is Arc of Attrition, with a 50% drop-out rate, I hope the Goat has been good enough training to avoid becoming another statistic; but I’ll see what happens…. watch this space! ?

Some final stats for those that like that sort of thing:
– pork pies 1 (family size) : gels 0
– entries 250 : starters 180 : finishers 154
– number 2’s = 0
– number 1’s = lost count
– shoes 2
– socks 4
– wrong directions 5
– cow attacks 0
– hallucinations 3 (big balls of moss looking like sheep rolling toward me, why haven’t they got any legs?!)
– winner 9:30 hrs (it’s easier in daylight if you’re quick enough)
– my time 18:30 hrs, 112 out of 140 men (better than my target of 20 hrs ? )


















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