Tag Archives: Helvellyn Trail
Thursday evening and I’m a little apprehensive. This was my first time recording a Zoom chat and I’m interviewing GB athlete Chris Holdsworth. I’ve known Chris for a number of years. He’s a Lakeland Trails regular, one of inov-8’s ambassadors, a proper nice guy and I’m looking forward to finding out a bit more about him.
I’m nervous because me and tech don’t get on. I think something’s bound to go wrong, that I’ll cock it all up and will waste Chris’s evening.
To my surprise, everything technical went smoothly. Almost two hours later, conversation still in full flow, we had to call a halt. It was way past my bedtime!
Here’s a snapshot of the recording of my ‘run in with Chris’.
When did you first start running?
I was around 22, so a late starter, really. It was after finishing studying for an Arts degree at Leeds. Running was just not on my radar back then and when I did start, it was like being introduced to another world. I did a couple of low key races, setting off too fast and dying badly. Then in 2015 my Uncle Breton took me along to the Lakeland Trails in Cartmel and that event completely blew me away. I was hooked and in love with the sport.
How many Lakeland Trails have you run and won? Which is your favourite?
So far, I’m up to 16 Lakeland Trails events, winning 9 of them. Every time I run one of the courses, I think that’s my favourite. Then I change my mind when I run a different one, and that becomes my new favourite. Currently, it’s the Coniston Trail, I think!
Would you please tell me a little bit about yourself?
I’m 31, Burnley born and bred, living here with my wife Sophie – we married only a month ago, the pandemic threw our plans out a bit. Until very recently I worked as a Marketing Manager. I’m a member of Clayton le Moors Harriers for road, trail and cross country and Calder Valley Fell Runners for fell races.
How often do you train?
I train a minimum of 6 days a week, with either an easy jog or a rest day usually on the Friday, or working around the current job if needs be. Usually I will clock around 8-9 hours of running and aim to get 80 miles in by the Sunday. A comfortable target at the minute, and aim to increase this, body allowing, to progress the long distance running further.
Any cross training?
I wish I enjoyed cycling, but anytime I cycle, I just wish I was running! I strength train, focusing mainly on glute activation as I’m woefully weak from years at sitting at a desk.
What about your metrics – your resting pulse, height and weight, could you share these with me please?
My resting pulse averages between 40-42. I am 5ft 11” and weigh 9 stone 10 – at least I did the day before my wedding just over a month ago. I’ll pretend it’s still the same despite a honeymoon, Christmas and my birthday occurring since then!
How about PB Times?
5K: 14.55 (Podium 5K in 2018)
10K: 30.27 (Telford 10K in 2018)
Half Marathon: 68.21 (North Lakes New Year Half Marathon in 2019)
Marathon: 2.37.11 (Edinburgh Marathon) – although have since run a 2.28 marathon including 1,700 ft of climb in training during Lockdown, though I don’t think Power of 10 will accept it!
Favourite Running Shoes?
For long distances, I’ll use inov-8 Terra Ultra G270. For short distances I usually switch between the inov-8 X-Talon 210 and inov-8 X-Talon 225 depending on the length and technicality of the course.
You have represented Great Britain a few times. How did your International journey start?
By accident, really. I ran in the Three Peaks Race without realising it was a Trial Race for the GB Team. So it was a real surprise being told afterwards when I finished 3rd and sub 2 hours 55 minutes, that I was selected to run for Great Britain in the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Premana, Italy. The course was the most technical I’d ever run, far from my comforts of pure out and out speed on runnable trails and was a tough day at the office. Finishing battered and bruised, in around 35th, from memory, but gaining lots of experience from it. Sadly, injuries and pandemics kept me out of subsequent qualification races, despite feeling a much stronger runner since then, so hopefully I can have another crack at that again in the future.
Best GB Position?
Possibly coming 2nd at the Snowdon International Mountain Race. Maybe I was good enough to win on the day, but misjudging the climb, arriving at the top in 5th, managing to pull it back with a descent, passing Zak Hanna, Rob Samuel and the late Chris Smith to finish first GB runner home.
Now I hear you’re following in my footsteps and have become a race organiser. Could you tell me how the Pennine Trails came about?
I started Pennine Trails in 2019. We started from scratch, with no investment and nothing but our enthusiasm, a love of trail running and creating good time experiences. After one year, and a Global Pandemic, we have 7 races to our name and intend to expand further.
They’re an open love letter to Lakeland Trails and some European trail races – my sole intention is to bring exciting and scenic trail races to the Pennines.
Thanks very much for your time Chris – it’s been a pleasure and best of luck for the future!
After our interview, I thought about all the things we’d talked about, liking Chris, as a person, even more. An open love letter? What a lovely thing to say about the Lakeland Trails, events I’d put my own heart and soul into for 16 years.
It makes me doubly proud too. First, leaving my legacy of the Lakeland Trails in the capable hands of Phil Blaylock and now knowing they have directly inspired Chris to create his own Pennine Trails.
More new trail running events can only be a good thing. I went to bed looking forward to taking part in one myself soon.
Albeit, running a bit slower than Chris!
Running Coach & Founder, Lakeland Trails
5th February 2022
Finding Inspiration at the Lakeland Trails “Dirty Double”
Isn’t it always the same when you’re side-lined with a running injury? As days turn to weeks, then into months, there’s almost an acceptance that races are a thing of the past. Having achilles trouble has meant I haven’t run with a spring in my step for three months.
High on the Kentmere fells
That’s not stopped me from enjoying the mountains, the autumn, the fresh air and even exercising. I’m still able to Nordic walk with poles, get on my bike and go for a ride. Then there are the boring exercises from my physio. Tentative easy walk/jogs along the river, hoping to see the flash of a kingfisher.
It’s just not the same as bounding along, day-dreaming about how fast you may be able to run one day.
Hard to believe that the last time was in the heat of the summer, in the World Masters Orienteering Championships in Hungary, finishing 4th, only twelve seconds behind the winner. That race was the beginning of the end.
Finishing the World Masters Championships in Hungary back in August
Running too fast, too soon without a cushion of decent training in the bank. Punching above my body weight. Coming as it did only ten weeks after a bad fall in the woods of Witherslack. Racing at full tilt, when my foot caught in rusty wire from a fence hidden in the bracken. In a split second I was shot down. Suffering broken ribs, a dislocated finger, a whack to my head and torn quad muscles when I was reaching the peak of fitness after months of hard training.
Dreams shattered and a literal tumbling back down to earth.
When Lakeland Trails Event Director, Phil Blaylock, reminded me about running at Helvellyn and Ullswater a few weeks ago, I told him that I was still injured and couldn’t make it. Somehow, this final straw made the wind go out of my sails. I could feel my motivation ebbing away.
However, my mantra with the runners I coach, is that when things don’t go to plan, they should always look for the gift in adversity.
Maybe I could take part in the Challenge events instead? Walk them, instead of running them? Take my poles along? Enjoy the atmosphere, the views, the moving mass of humanity threading their way along these beautiful Lakeland Trails.
Would this give me some much needed inspiration to persevere in my long battle with injury?
At the start of this year’s Ullswater Trail
After all, that’s why I set up the Lakeland Trails all those years ago. To make them as inclusive as possible. As much an occasion for the back markers as the front runners.
So, on Saturday 6th November, I made my way to Glenridding in lashing rain. Proper Lake District weather. Taking my place at the back of the main Challenge ‘wave’, setting off at a walk, a gentle ribbing by friends who would normally expect me to be running.
My plan was to Nordic walk everything uphill and anything on tarmac, jogging only the flat sections and descents. Hope not to get carried away. Look after my achilles.
At first, I was so far behind everyone, I wondered if it was such a smart idea. Gradually, I caught up some of the competitors suffering from setting off too fast. I could now enjoy the banter, smiles and camaraderie that make the Lakeland Trails so special.
After the Helvellyn YHA, the trail double backed and levelled out, and I could jog along, even overtaking a few folk.
Battling the elements on the Helvellyn Trail
My ‘secret weapon’ is knowing pretty much every step of the route, every slippery rock. Having planned all the Lakeland Trails courses and run them many, many times over the last two decades, it was great being back on familiar terrain. Even better without the demands of racing. Or organising!
Simply admiring the views, enjoying the shock from some of the marshals who would suddenly recognise me with a double take. Then I’d stop, say a few words, thank them and move on.
With marshal Geoff Lowe on the Ullswater Trail
By the time I’d finished the Helvellyn Trail, I was really looking forward to the new route on Sunday’s Ullswater Trail. I said a few words at the prize giving, thanked Phil and his amazing team and drove home, soaked through, yet buzzing.
Autumn colours by Ullswater
The next day, my spirits were soaring just walking to the start. Autumnal sunshine filtering through the trees by the side of Ullswater. Views to die for.
This was going to be epic.
At the start of the Ullswater Trail
Keeping the same plan as yesterday, I set off at the back of the Challenge. With more tarmac at the start, I was miles behind everyone by the time we hit the trails.
High on the Ullswater Trail
It was difficult to get into a rhythm. The scenery meant I just had to keep stopping to take photos. I even took photos for others who were running together, memories that will hopefully last them through the dark days of winter.
High on the Ullswater Trail
More encouragement between those being overtaken and those overtaking. Everyone buzzing, high on endorphins, euphoric.
Enjoying the Ullswater Trail
Simply a joy to be alive in this special part of the world.
Two Lakeland Trails legends, pirate Kev Kendal, and photographer James Kirby
Then I caught up with a pirate wearing gold hot pants. Kev Kendal has been a regular at the events for years and years. We chatted on the climb to Boredale Hause, remembering some good old times on the Steamer with the RockTarts in fancy dress.
The Ginger Bread Man from ten years ago on the Ullswater Trail
I remembered my all time favourite, Lee dressed as a gingerbread man, and my pun at the time for the fancy dress winner “this one takes the biscuit”.
The finish in sight
Too soon, the finish appeared on the shores of Ullswater and I stepped across the timing mat. A chat in the sunshine with Phil and star runner Jonny Cox, before returning back home to Kendal, smiling.
Knowing I’d found some much needed inspiration from this year’s Dirty Double, Lakeland Trails working it’s magic once again.
© Graham Patten
Founder, Lakeland Trails
Monday 15th November 2021
Many months ago, I was at one of our Lakeland Trails events chatting with Terry Charles, from Wirral Vikings. Terry ran his first trail running event with us back in 2010 and has been to most of our events since then. His eyes were sparkling with enthusiasm as he told me his idea. Could he and Jacq’s get married on the Ullswater Trail?
I thought to myself that everyone else would say ‘no’. I didn’t hesitate and quickly said ‘yes, brilliant idea’
We met up in the Watermill pub in Ings, near Staveley and over a good pint of real ale, chatted through their wedding plans. Terry and Jacq’s idea was a simple one. Join the first sailing with all their guests, have a Viking wedding ceremony on board, then run the Ullswater Trail as husband and wife along with all their running friends.
Fortunately, earlier that day they’d had a meeting by the lake in Glenridding with Veronica, their celebrant. It had been an awful day, a strong wind blowing from the west and the Ullswater Steamers couldn’t sail. When I started talking about planning for worse case scenarios, a seed had already been sown. It was going to be their big day and we had to make it special regardless, using an old adage I use with events – plan for a hurricane, expect a heat wave.
Living here in the Lake District means living with changeable weather. Any time of year we can experience three or four seasons all in a short space of time, sometimes in just a few hours. This is what makes the place special, yet also so humbling and often challenging. It’s very easy to get caught out and in extreme cases it costs some with their lives. My friend Christian Hoyle once quoted these great words of wisdom and I have never forgotten them :
“You can’t change the weather. But what can you change? Your ATTITUDE to the weather”
It’s a mantra I’ve used over the years, a way to remind myself to keep every option open. It’s not about beating the weather, more about accepting and adapting to what it throws at us, having a back up plan or even change of plans if needed.
The Big Day
Last Sunday was Terry and Jacq’s wedding day and I’d been invited as their guest. It was still dark with a faint early morning light. I walked around the lakeside path with our photographer, James Kirby joining 50 or so other guests huddled together in the cold morning air. For some reason, I thought everyone would be in Viking costume, so I’d gone to some trouble myself with a splendid outfit. I was almost the odd one out, making a beeline to two others in horned Viking helmets. The guests all knew each other, most were members of Wirral Vikings, a trail running club set up by Terry. Indirectly, they all knew me too, as most are regulars at the Lakeland Trails events.
Someone lit a fire on the beach and we all wandered over to join Veronica who would be performing the ceremony. Terry arrived first, dressed in a kilt, and soon Jacq’s appeared in a beautiful white wedding dress. Gusts of wind came at us from the south, white caps racing across the lake. Moody dark clouds hung low over the mountain tops. The ceremony was Nordic, simple and deeply moving involving all of us. A happy, emotional joining of two like minded people.
The best was yet to come. We’d arranged an extra self contained bay for the marquee for their exclusive use. As news arrived that the Steamers couldn’t sail, the Wirral Vikings were in unstoppable, infectious high spirits. The bride and groom danced by the start line in the middle of a circle of their wedding guests, surrounded by the rest of the Lakeland Trails ‘family’ of runners.
On the Ullswater Trail
I joined my sister Sue with the masses at the back of the field, catching a fleeting glimpse of a white dress running into the distance. I walked with Sue in my Viking costume wearing sandals. My toes sore and swollen from last week’s epic challenge run, still unable to wear shoes. At one point, I stopped to have a chat with a marshal, then had to run to catch Sue up.
Remarkably, I found I could run quite comfortably in the sandals. When we got to the highest point on the course, above Silver Bay, I could see a snake of runners along the trail going into the distance. The temptation to run was too strong. ‘Go for it bro, see you at the finish’ shouted Sue.
By the marquee, Jacq’s and Terry were beaming, surrounded, having enjoyed their first run together as husband and wife. I was handed a horn to drink out of, taking a sip. ‘Blimey, what’s this?’ and was told it was mead. Later on, as Pete Lashley sang inside the packed marquee, everyone was dancing. I can still hear the cheers for the happy couple just before the prize giving. I’ve had many high points over the last fourteen years with the Lakeland Trails, although nothing compares with this.
An hour earlier, Terry had seen me scribbling my prize giving speech in one of the village cafes. His big smile and firm hand shake I’ll always remember. ’Thank you’, Terry said, not letting go of my hand. ‘This is the best day of my life’
It brought tears to my eyes.
© Graham Patten
Wednesday 18th October 2017
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