Friday 11 December 2015

Charlie The Ultra Running Collie (2002-2015) RIP

‘So you didn’t catch him then’ a neighbouring farmer, Phil, observed with a wry smile. ‘Didn’t catch who?’ I said. ‘Your collie, Charlie. I saw you both running across the field this morning…he was well in front, then I saw you both coming back across the field later on in the afternoon  and your dog was still well in the lead, looking as fresh as anything, and you struggling on behind.  Made me laugh’
And that was how it was
For 12 years I have been the luckiest lad to have had Charlie, my four legged bundle of joy, by my side . We taught each other things we wouldn’t have otherwise learnt and we helped each other see places we would never have otherwise seen. From the West Highland Way of Scotland to the many mountain passes of the Lake District, from the West coast to the East coast of England, from The Cloud to Gun Moor. There was no stopping us. Running in inspiring places, living in the moment. Both of us having the times of our lives
He was my pathfinder and my talisman. A bundle of energy,  an indomitable spirit. And when things got tricky, and they occasionally did high up in the clag, he was my sea of calm
And at home he never stopped, always obsessing on the yard or in the field with a stone, a stick or a ball. Always on the go, always wanting to play
But there was more, something that’s hard to describe…an unspoken knowingness, an understanding and friendship that didn’t need words, although I did prattle on to him loads. We just both ‘knew’ what was what
Today he lost his fight against cancer, but a fight he gave it. Despite it all, he never lost his joie de vivre, his wagging tail, or his desire to be outside with you. His spirit and unconditional love never once waned and he set an example for us all to try and follow
Now he’s gone there’s a numbing emptiness. Every place where he normally was he is no more. No longer will he excitedly pester me as I tie the laces of my running shoes every morning. No longer will he always be first out of the door. No longer will he bark with all the joy of a pooch doing what he loves best, telling me to get a move on
Life will never be the same again now he’s no longer here but, as hard as this is right now, the memories and the life we shared together will last forever
I already miss him so badly but, even though he might not be my side anymore, he will always be in my heart and with me in spirit

Thank you Charlie Boy, for everything. RIP. I will never ever stop loving you X

PS Thank you to everyone on here. Some we know, some we met, some we just exchanged stories right here. But every one of you have played huge parts in our story. Thank you from us both - it wouldn't have been the same without you

Friday 12 September 2014

hello there anybody out there?
long time no posting by us
but just a quick word to say we're still here, still running, and still loving (virtually) every minute of it!
ultrarunningcollie himself is around 12+ yrs now and whilst not doing the really long stuff anymore, he's showing no signs of letting up..and still he manages to dupe strangers into thinking he's merely a 'boy'..shame i can't say the same about me!

Tuesday 24 September 2013


i love running. i really do. i still do. but after an amazing few years of ultra running, that culminated in 2010, we started to drift apart. me and ultra running , that is. like the stuff that can happen in a relationship - boredom, complacency, repetition, going over the same ground time and time again - it gradually began to feel like a chore that i was no longer enjoying, but only the long stuff. the short faster stuff still thrilled me. 2011 came and went with little long stuff that excited me and 2012 saw zilch in the way of ultras or long runs. injury in 3 places played its role too in breaking us apart, but the rift went far deeper than damaged ligaments and fascia band

luckily a few trail marathons in 2012 took my fancy - glencoe and grizedale - the latter part of the ultra trail 26 series organised by that exceedingly nice chap marc laithwaite. another in the series - howgills - was held earlier this year..excellent events in their own right. (i also did high terrain's scafell pike marathon which to be honest i really did not enjoy so we'll confine that to the best forgotten bin)

with  those 4 medium distance outings in the bag i decided it was high time to try to make amends with ultra running. so we got together to see how we'd get had been a while and maybe we just weren't cut out for each other anymore

our first date - the lakeland 50 (for a 3rd time) - was what can only be described as a disaster. we fell out very early on in the race and i followed through with my threat of pulling out just 20 miles in at mardale head. and for most of it we argued got quite heated

with two further dates planned, such a spectacular fallout wasn't quite in the script. but in some ways it wasnt surprising this happened. we were going over old ground that we'd become too familiar with and so the date lacked any spark whatsoever

that was it i thought. i'd failed to breath new life in it all.

but things were to change.

on holiday in a very sunny cornwall i sat out in the garden most days reading an amazing book..the chimp paradox. WOW! talk about getting to understand whats going on in your mind. reading it gave me a real spring clean...about control, inspiration and self belief and a whole load of other stuff (it should be on the national curriculum for kids!)

with a mind afresh, i decided to give it all a second go. this time at the very inaugural running of the 'grand tour of skiddaw', organised by yet another wonderful and chipper type, gaynor prior. this really was make or break...47 miles across the northern fells with the small matter half way round of getting to the top o'skiddaw, ringing a bell, then descending off back down and round across the fells once more back to the finish. WHAT A DAY I HAD :-). me and ultra running might just have spiced it up a bit, certainly enough to go on another date

so our next outing would take every little ounce of physical and mental strength i had...a 66-70mile, 10,000-14,000ft (depending on whose stats you read) round trip - the first ever ultimate trails event directed superbly by gaynor prior -  from windermere over to bampton, patterdale, watlendath, langdale and back to the start. i wont bore you with the details except to say it was as tough as i imagined it to be, but with a load of mental guile i did it. and with this and skiddaw in the bag i'm back in love with ultras (well for the foreseeable future anyway!)

so, full of renewed self belief, vigor, and inspiration i have a goal, a big one, for 2014

but these are the things that will help me get there

1 keep it fresh, dont keep doing the same events time and time again. go to new places, new races
2 run for the reason you love it so much..the connection to the earth, the feeling, the simple joy of putting on foot in front of the other in amazingly inspiring place. and the camaraderie
3 when youre going through hell keep going..after the dark comes the light (always)
4 always believe. manage your chimp
5 forget time/pbs etc..just enjoy it
6 and finally, train better, train harder, train longer..and keep on smiling

(and in case you're wondering, his nibs, charlietheultrarunningcollie, is in fine fettle. he belies his 11-11.5 years of age. always on the go. running everything apart from long ones with me. forever placing stones and sticks at your feet to throw and fetch. but he's broadened his past times and is now also a real whizz at football..theres more life in the old boy than ever :-)

Saturday 30 March 2013

what is it with running?

im not posting much these days for two reasons...i dont want this blog to become boring (though it probably already is) and secondly, i dont think people have time for lengthy droning on in this day and age. we're into short and sweet not war and peace

so i'll cut a long story short. after around 10 years of running it still amazes me that you can go out one day and think you're sailing like the wind and blowing like the wind, then you look at your watch and feel utter disappointment at your actual pace :-(  Then the next day you're bimbling along feeling like you're not breaking any land speed records, running really comfortably within yourself, and then bingo! the watch moment of truth that tells you otherwise :-)

that's all i've got to say about that

Monday 11 February 2013


'Slip sliding away, slip sliding away 
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away'

so a lovely little trip up to kentmere horseshoe with my mate steve (zodiac ) daniels and the ultra running collie himself

quite an innocuous-looking round that day from the valley floor 

but the higher up the garburn pass we went the greater the snow and yes, the ice

no bother, i'll pop my spikes on..that should do the trick

well kind of...steve was comically upended on 3 occasions by sheet ice hidden by a thin veneer of snow. his first fall, he was taken down in full flight and slid a good 12 feet or more on his back..thankfully cushioned by his backpack

you know you shouldn't laugh but you do..and you laugh too soon. it was long before i got my comeuppance on two different but equally bruising falls. and both times lay there wincing at the fleetingly temporary pain whilst uncontrollably giggling away at myself

so much for spikes eh! in a scientific study of n=3 , one without spikes fell 3 times, one with twice and my four pawed buddy fell nil, zero, zilch times. paws>spikes

the weather claggy, cold and with white dreamy vistas

its a bad do when you've got to hold onto my pooch to stay upright eh steve ?;-)

a top fun round finished off in true style with a full english back at wilfs cafe in staverley..adventures dont come much better :-)

Tuesday 8 January 2013

running on empty

week one of 2013 training done and this time i'm doing it differently, as prescribed by mr marc laithwaite, the endurance coach and altogether bloody nice chap

this means running on pre-fuelling, no in-flight fuelling (other than electrolyte drink) and no post-flight carb reloading . all with the aim of teaching your body to work off fat (the big fuel tank) rather than carbs (the little fuel tank)

sunday was just a 2.5 hr jaunt around macc forest, shutts and teggs nose area

it felt fine at first, even with a long long steady climb to the trigpoint. then probably after an hour and a half or so i could start to feel that funny feeling. your body asking for rocket fuel..that never arrives. and so for the next hour you could kind of feel a different physiology happening, not always pleasant or easy. but i guess im very early into this whole adaptation phase and sure there'll be worse to come before it starts to feel ok

his nibs never seems to look too troubled mind..too busy following his nose to notice i guess

Monday 31 December 2012

let's hear it

lets hear it.. lets hear it for the ultra-runner, the fell runner, the never say neverer
the burning lungs, the red faces, the killer races
the whippets, mid-packers and the see you at the backers

raise your glass to the agony and the ecstasy
the mountain to behold
the tales to be told

stand proud on that hill
you made it yours
through the wind, the rain, thinking never again

we swore, we stumbled, we gritted teeth
up high, down low
but we never said no

so lets hear it..
lets hear it for the trier, the first timer
and the never say dier

we line up as one
an enduring human race
a very special place

so let's hear it
lets hear it for each and every one, and our four legged friends
where did it all go right?