So after a month of work and being confined to the camp and running in circles ( got the camp circuit down to 2mins and 5 seconds, segment on Strava. Paul Dickson has matched the time so need to smash it when I get back to work…. However:-
Back in Wales Weather has been great, I am feeling really good, the flat circuits have kept me in reasonable form I reckon and what a good week of trips out:-
For all the runs this week i am back in my pair of Adidas Adizero XT4’s. They are as ever great grip and superemely comfortable whilst minimal enough to give a great feel for the trail but stil protecting the sole of the foot from battering. They are light, dry fast and never seem to smell bad… my 3rd pair and they last for ages. the last pair I bought slightly small and I have passed them on to Duncan whilst there is still some life left in them. I am in size 46 not 45 now, and this is perfect for me , locking my foot into place with enough toe box room so i dont stub. Really locked onto my feet and super comfy.. ( I am a size 44.5 in a normal shoe and have decided that 46 suits me best in most trail running and road shoes, especially Adidas.
Wednesday 16th April – 17km 1087m ascent
Arrived back at 1315hrs and then by 140hrs met duncan and headed out up through the quarries onto Elidir Fach, then Fawr, my favourite ascent, tons of steps and steep, more of a power march than a run, but runnable sometimes… headed over to Y Garn with a chily Breeze and a very excitable Sam the Dog, and then managed to convince Duncan that the descent via Pen Dinas would be fun. Possibly the steepest bit of grass in the pas and annualy used for the Pen Dinas Fell race – a vertical thrash u and down….
A great day out finished by continuing back into Llanberis along the road from Nant.
Thursday 17th – MTB 25km – plenty of climbs and some awesome descents, Trail Run 8km with 40m ascent
Battered legs – quads particularly tender due to the steep descent off Y garn via Pen Dinas. The flat lands of camp dont prepare the legs for this realy so some pain is inevitable! but its good stuff and clears away once the legs get moving..
Trip to Coed Y Brenin and a great ride round the Dragons Back, havent been here in quite some time and unusual not to have Helen with me as Mountain Biking is one of our things … Plenty of it lined up for when she returns from Cambodia.
Biking was great and helped the legs recover, weather was ace again.
After the bike ride I decided to try out a short trail in the forest – The Sarn helen Long route – 8km and 400m ascent, a great little spin out and legs felt beter and beter as the run went on. There are a load of trails marked up in Coed y Brenin, including the trail Half Marathon Course which would be a great run, save it for next time. I have done the marathon course a couple of years ago at the inaugral event and the race goes from strength to strength each year…
Friday 18th Road Bike ride 60km
Headed out with tired legs over towards Waunfawr, then round via Beddgelert and up the Nant Gwynant to Capel Curig, along the Ogwen valley and down through Tregarth , and picked up the van from my mate duncans. Excellent ride and legs actualy felt ok climbing the Gwynant but knackered later on. tried to keep the pace reasonable and maaged about 3hrs ride including half an hour stop at the magnificent Nant Gwynant Cafe. Once again, great weather , and its just so good to be out when its like this!
Saturday 19th Mountain run 21km 1770m ascent
Once again an awesome day weather wise and out early ish to seek a parking spot in Nant Peris (couldn’t face running down the tarmac to Nant).
Picked a cold damp and shady route up onto Glyder Fawr to avoid the easter crowds, via Bryants gully, actually pretty slippery and awkward at this time of year as there is still afair bit of water running down it. Its a steep steep way onto the glyders and the higher part of the gulley features a short steep wall which can be a bit lethal in the wet so this was side stepped by ploughing on up the scree hillside to the right of the gully to keep it safe and sound today.
Onto Glyder fawr the towards Glyder fach to the top of the Cneifion Arete, above Clogwyn Ddu. I descended the ridge to Llyn Idwal after wondering if I could face it – it loked a long way down and my legs were tired…However once the decision was made, I was feeling great and loking forward to the climb back out from Idwal lake. Steeply down to the lake then crossing at the outflow, i head directly up towards Y Garn , a long a step stren ridge ascent with not much horizontal terain between the lake and the summit. A great way up and legs felt OK, tho I took it steady.
From Y Garn it was onwards via the crowded summit towards Elidir Fawr – most of which is quite runnable on tired legs even when one is feeling lazy – then descended to Elidir Fach and cut off the top to join the tarmac road to the surge pool and then down through the quary on the zig zags, al the way back to Nant Peris via the small path that breaks off about 3 or 4 bends above the lake, across the hillside, a great variation.. Awesome few hours out.
I took Sunday off for paperwork and a break, just to keep me keen, and then Monday had a plan to run with Duncan and Brian
Monday 21st April 27km 1646m Ascent
Great route that was chosen for the decent weather. we had planned a round snowdon Jaunt but decided instead to go high and do a vatiant of round Snowdon.
Met up with Duncan, Brian plus Sam the dog who is always bonkers keen, and unaware of the distance he may end running of course!! Wish I had the metabolism of a dog for energy - he seems to go on forever!
So we headed off up Bwlch Maesgwm ( Telegraph Valley) then followed the left fork after the gate on the descent towards the Snowdon Ranger path, then headed through a gate and leftwards towards the old quarries blocking the way between us and Rhyd Ddu. Great trails, tho at times boggy lead one around the hilside and across a great summer bathing spot at a stream, to the railway behind Rhyd Ddu. 100m along the railway you can jump the fence leftwards where there is a pile of breizeblocks for just such a purpose and cut over to join the Rhyd Ddu path towards Snowdon summit. Breaking right , we take the rough track towards Bwlch Cwm Llan and head up the South ridge towards the Summit. Its alternately hot and chill windy and a steep ascent that keep us huffing and power marching before a wel earned cup of tea in the summit cafe,( Thanks Jonathan!)
Here i am in Kurdistan, some great looking countryside around – mountains and great rolling hills, great weather and interesting work, although the operations are yet to get going.
I am restricted to running round the camp permiter, inside the berm walls, which is a 0.4 mile circuit on gravel, sometimes firm, oft times a bit loose and hard work.
The views however are unsurpassed and I think this week ( I have yet to finish the weeks mileage) I will manage around 75km of varied running, so nearly 80 kms…
Steady 10km, 10km with some 10m sprint intervals in the middle, some 200 metre speed endurance sessions slipped into a 10km steady pace and then the classic one fast lap one recovery lap, then hare and hounds stuf as I chased Paul Dickson round the compound today.
Plenty of the guys are out power wlaking, Paul and a few others are inot the running, although Paul is by far the fittest and kenest here, so thats plenty of motivation , and when we are out running we motivate each other, making the arbitrary laps disappear fairly painlessly.
A gradual development of a zen like mindset is required to run round in circles endlessly, I am generally no good at it as I love linear runs or runs n the hills so this is a bit torturous. however, the views are unsurpassed from the camp, and our Northern camp, to which I may move next hitch is on a kind of elevated fortress like hill with plenty of tarmac around the place.
Even tho security guidelines mean we are all stuck in camp, the views are good for exercising. I am also pushing our contractor to replace the running and exercise bike machines with ones that work and are of decent quality…..
head torch on tonight and off for a few more circuits, maybe an audio book if I get bored as I run….
Photos to follow as the upload speed is proper slow here. Looking forward to field operations beginning in earnest and then at least I can march up some hills too…
Keen to batter the legs to try and maintain fitness………
PS:- My 3rd pair of Adidas Adizero XT4 shoes from V12 Outdoor feel great on this gravelly rocky stuff, and the light weight road shoes – Adizero Adios are a good change of shoe from this now and again just to vary whats on my feet….
here are a few pics of the first week or so on the Elephant Valley Project, running in the morning before heading to work on the project in the afternoon.
The temperature has been rising since i got here and is around 36C to 38C in the afternoons now, and around 26C first thing in the morning. It soon warms up, and the humidity, despite no rain is quite omnipresent as ever..
I managed to work out a great circuit which nly involves about 5km of tarmac on the Eastern side of Sen Monorom. The circuit takes in somme good hills and some awesome tracks and trails along wiith plenty of dirt roads and worked out at around 30km… Need to research a bit more to get a full off road experience……Watch this space, or maybe next time…
Great to be back on the Elephant Valley Project and catching up with Helen.
I spent a week in Phnom Penh all told until I caught up with H and we both spent some fun time there.
Phnom Penh is a bonkers city – swamped with people during the day but at around 0500hrs one has the strets to oneself and shares the boulevards and waterfront with many groups of Tai Chi’ers, dancers, runners, walkers, jogers, arm wavers, you name it they are upto it. Its a great time to be out and out we went plentifully , hitting the streets with some really good places t run – past the Royal Palace, and off the the national monument , crossing onto the Russian Theatre Island, its good fun before the traffic arives in force…..We even had a couple of great bike rides, one out to a distant mound ( locally known as Udoung Mountain but is a wee bump, the fine site of ancient Phnom Penh) . Another day we crossed the Mekong river by fery and fereted about the islands and farmlands of the area, a great day out too, and good exercise, breath of fresh air away from Phnom Penh, amazing how close rural Cambodia is to the mad metropolis, and you can see the high rise constantly in the distance to remind you…
So anyway, out to Sen Monorom, mondulkiri province, way to the East in Cambodia and about 50km from the Vietnamese border, the Ho Chi Minh Trail passed through here apparently…
It is great to see everyone again out here and to see the dedication to the Elephant project, plus the guys with WCS and WWF fighting th good fight to save the forests and wildlif from the incessant onslaught of corrupt government officials and Chinese timber theiving, rubber plantations and the rest. The elephants are great and its good to be back.
I have been running plenty and working on the project in the afternoons, rediscovering tracks from last years visits and finding some really great trails that I didn’t see last time.
Its really dusty right now, everything is covered in a fine red powder, but its great. The sun shines, its the dry season, trails are in great condition, and its not quite too hot yet, probably around 34 mid afternoon, maybe a bit more….
I am working on a Tour De Sen Monorom circuit that may work out at around 40km I hope and have had some good moto trips around with Helen to scout the trails too.
Ready for another week of fun and running, working with the elephants and generally living the life in the bush…..
Photos to follow
Having escaped from the clutches of work I was most keen to get my legs and mind liberated by a bit of wholesome trail running. Actually I was desperate!!
Fortunately for me at the last minute, an opportunity arose to spend a couple of nights in Hong Kong, meaning that I would be able to meet an old mate and partake of some trail fun, as well as good food while I was there.
The islands are suprisingly rural outside of the city limits which are actually quite confined to the lowlands. I think 60% of the landmass is designated as National Park, and trails and forest brush up against high rise and downtown locations right the way through what I saw of the islands. The trails are endless, and Lantau Island – one of the remoter trail destinations here, with some of the larger hills and epic trails is very close to the airport and is most convenient.
I chose to run on Hong Kong Island itself, as I could meet Brendan there and check out his office / downtown HK and have a potter along the Hong Kong Trail.
The views are supposed to be legendary, but of course during my visit the cloud was really low and made for just occasional spectacles along the way but the trail itself was fantastic.
Having caught the futuristic train into HK station I met Brendan and after a spot of breakfast with Brendan and his girlfriend Steph ( my 2nd breakfast of the day) we headed up onto The Peak and the official start of the Hong Kong Trail, just above the centre of town, a short taxi ride uphill, after arranging to meet Steph later in the day to to continue running with us.
The legendary views of the HK harbour from The Peak were nowhere to be seen and it was damp and chilly which was a shock, but the trail kicks off with a lovely rolling downhill section to warm the legs up. We intended to do about half of the trail – the whole thing is a 50km trip and looks great .
The cool thing about HK too and the area generally is whenever you hit a road you can flag down a taxi which are cheap too use, so however far you get , you will always find your way back to your hotel / starting point.
Brendan regaled me with information about the New Territories trails and so many other places to visit that it was a shame to be visiting only for a day!! A return visit for a longer spell is definitely required.
The Hong Kong Trail is a great rolling trip contouring, climbing and descending around the island on a variety of tracks from tarmac paths and stone concrete steps to tree rooted and rocky tracks, a great variety and the kilometers slip under ones feet almost effortlessly ( surprising as this is my first run in 3 weeks ).
After 20 km and some awsome trail we catch up with Steph, and run jog to a garage in the middle of a posh residential area, just off the wild trails to stock up on water and snack, before heading off on another trail through Tai Tam Park down to the coast involving plenty of steps and a fine ridge with no doubt amazing views to finish in Repulse bay.
A walk through thee market and a bit of sight seeing led us to a fine vietnamese restaurant in an old colonial building ( moved here stone by stone apparently and rebuilt on the spot ) where they didnt mind at all that we were sweaty and dressed in trail running clothing a la European style – (compresssion this that and the other etc…)
A great day out and a thoroughly whetted apetite.
The land of many long distance events, here is a fine challenge that has just been completed – the 4 main trails in 4 days:- Check this link out – a great multi day event no doubt and quite insane
For us, our running day was complete so it was a tourist trip taxi ride across HK Island to see the sights and then a wander through downtown HK later, plus a very fine Moroccan restaurant, then an epic foot massage – Reflexology – where we all suffered some pain as our Chi channels were unblocked and the day was finished….
I bid farewell to me mates and headed back on the futuristic train to arrive around 2330hrs back at the hotel ready for the flight to Cambodia in the morning.
I felt refreshed and cleansed of work, and really keen to visit again… Next stop Cambodia and Phnom Penh first befor eheading North to Mondulkir and the Elephant Valley Project
Sitting in the hotel and I am heading out shortly into Hong Kongs busy metropolis to catch up with a mate I met on a job in Egypt a few years back.
I am looking forward to getting out on the trails with him for a few hours – running this morning and a more leisurely afternoon marching in the hills and forests on out the edge of town.
I know only that Hong Kong is reknowned for its paths tracks, trails and steps . There are some famous ultra events here, and so many trails on the different islands…..
Spoilt for choice after not being alowed to run at work for the last few weeks, it may be a shock. Plan on 20km or so I think…
Arrived last night around 10pm after a 6.5 hr flight from POrtmoresby, I havve so far seen nothing of the city so looking forward to that.. Its a 20 minute ride on the train into town from Lantau Island where the airport is ( Lantau has a couple of the bigest hills around here, just a bit smaller than Snowdon….
I managed 30 mins on arunning machine yesterday morning and a session the day before at the oil refinery I was staying at in Port Moresby, 1hr 30 on running machine and some weights then a jog about the place on some gravel tracks up and down the confines of the enclosed facilities – actually god views out over the Inlet back to Port Moresby…
So today, here starteth my return to regular running…… Tomorrow Phnom Penh in the afternoon via Kuala Lumpur. Anothe plane journey, and then Cambodia for a month.. Meeting Helen in 5 days time in PP, so I will run and bike plenty before then…
Pictures will be posted of todays experiences…
Its good to be away from the cloing confines of the jungle camp and excesive regulation, amidst a general air of exercise creating a bad example…….Bonkers. Yippee I am back in the zone
Aosta, Early September 2014, 330km, 150 hrs 24 000m ascent…….
I am sat in my tent in PNG, and this is the least running I have done for years over the last couple of months what with one thing and another….. So this means I will be fresh for training to start in earnest when I escape from here and get to Cambodia. The mountains will have to wait for now but my legs need to move!!
I hope the heavy rucsac and step training I have been doing on the bridging in the jungle here ( miles of wooden steps up and down through the forest, will help start me off – although I can’t get out every day due to presssures on helicopters and other work commitments, after all, it is for work that i can go out into the fforest and for work only…
It is also due to work that I am banned from running in camp….. In 4 days time my supervisor leaves and I shall resume pounding my 268 metre circuit, safe in the knowledge that in the great scheme of things this is a tiny distance!!!!!
I am seriously excited to be thinking about this and lucky to enter.. The registration opened at 1200hrs Italy time and by the time I registered, having startedd on the dot, I was number 1131 to sign on!! phew
Check out the website for details, it just looks like such a cool way to have an adventure aand see lots of mountains, wicked
So it was a quick transition from the slopes of the Brenta Dolomites to the deep jungle of Papua New Guinea.
I have packed 2 pairs of my finest Adidas shoes, including a last minute addition, the Adidas Adizero Response 20, a slightly more built up and cushioned cross trail track and road shoe, than my Adizero Trail XT4’s which I also have with me.
There is no chance of running in the jungle as its thick and steep mud and primary forest, muddy and rooty, snakes , ants bees etc everywhere, and even a baby cassawary bird the other day….. So at least a couple of times a wek I am getting out into the field by helicopter to visit the operations and get to march up and down the narrow paths built for our seismic work…
To cope with the confinement in our base camp , I had identified a mighty fine 268 metre circuit to run on which included a set of steps, a muddy trail descent and flat section of duck board and mesh, then a small descent to a crek bridge before the steps ascent again, prety intense litle circuit for 268 m I thought..
I discovered a little side track upto a rasied area in another section of the camp that extended it another 250 metres and added some much needed variety and was managing to clock up around 5 miles a go for my run sessions. Pretty pleasing that a) I could deal with the monotony and b0 cope with the heat and humidity – its around 34 to 38 degrees c here and jut the most humid place you can imagine. It makes Uganda seem as tho the air is arid!!! Dripping wet constantly….
So I figured hey I can cope scombined with the hard conditions in the work place (when I can actually escape from camp) I will maintain fitnes….
There are no roads to or from the camp only a boat ride or a helicopter, proper no chance of variation or distance.
So there I was psychologically prepared for the whole approach, a challenge at the best of times and then:-
Boom Bang Slap Kaput!!!!
In one moment all hopes and dreams were shattered by the dictate from our Project Manager “Thou Shalt Not Run. It gives a bad example” – You can run at 1700hrs not 1500hrs he said, knowing full well that this time of day is meetings meetings meetigns then its dark and I really can’t run after dark here, way too many people on this tiny path working at night and too many trip hazards – its workplace after all etc etc etc… I had picked mid afternoon despite it being the hottest part of the day as its the quietest part of day in camp before the mass of personnel return from field or hang out after work in the camp all over the only walkway in a 50km radius
Absolutely outrageous thing to be told. There is no gym here, no running machine, no exercise bike, no space to do cardio vascular exercise. bugger. I am going to have to get seriously inventive in the short term…
In the short to medium term however I am looking for a new project to go to. Not being banned from running…
Hmm An Armoured Personnel Carrier we use at work, all terrain vehicle, and a pair of Adidas Adizero XT4 shoes. Couldn’t resist the opportunity to take pictures with shoes and tank, and think about jokes to do with running on tracks , all terrain tank versus all terrain shoe – actually the XT4’s win hands down, I know for a fact that the tank got stuck in the local salt marsh whereas the shoes just skipped on over…
Adidas XT4 – 1 Armoured Personnel Carrier – o
Here I am somewhere East of the Caspian sea and West (Just) of the edge of the fast shrinking Aral Sea. This little spot is cold and bleak, although not quite Siberian temperatures as yet!!
It super flat ( Concave ) and I am pining for the mountains again.
12 hour drive from Atyrau including 250km along very rough dirt tracks, and an interesting selection of old vehicles and ex-Russian missile battery accomodation units … All made back in early 60’s and 70’s, including the vehicles.
Work has me pretty busy to be honest but I am managing to get out and run abit, aorund 5 mile s a day just to keep the legs ticking over. Its below zero often and I am not inclined to get into any interval stuff as yet, I am going to wait until I am bored of running along the flat for 10km at a time, on rough dirt tracks and tufty scrub.
The Steppe itself is littered with umpteen Gerbil holes and there are tales of wolves and foxes roaming ( seen some big paw prints in the snow around the camp…
I have been using my ADIDAS ADIZERO XT4 trail shoes, and these have ben great. The terain although very flat is super rough and goes from bogging slippy mud to proper frozen iron hard soil or snow on the groun all in the space of a day – the change is hard to believe…These shoes grip all the way through the wide range of underfot conditions and are still so comfortable, light and inspiring.. The nimble feel on the cart track rutting and stability of the shoe on my foot is great, no foot slip whatsoever and ever step is a positive enggement with the ground… There is not much to see so you can telll I am thinking about what the shoes feel like a lot!!!
On my runs the highlights are a road sign about 2.4 km from camp, an ancient graveyard about 2.3km from camp, and I discovered the highest point in the area today, its about 8 metres above the plain, and is a climb of about 60 metres…. Drastic stuff indeed…
So anyway, wrapped up in warm gear, the thermal stuff I got from V12 is awesome too. I am a big fan of the BRINJE range of thermal stuff for arctic conditions ( Long Johns, balaclava and L/S top) and I am also getting some great use out of my ODLO tops and thermals..
My NORTH FACE EVEREST DUVET JACKET and NORTH FACE EXTREME MITTS are amazingly warm. For general wandering and work, I have the NORTH FACE CHILLKATS, these boots are amazingly grippy, super light to wear, commfortable, not like alpine boots – the flexibility is awesome, and they are so toasty warm its a pleasure to be out in the cold in them….
So off to bed. 5hrs ahead of the UK, and an early start for work in the morning. Semolina for breakfast or omelette then chicken, cabbage potatoes and pasta for lunch and tea… voila. Oh and of course now and again some beetroot salad……