Friday, 28 December 2012

Tour de Helvellyn 2012

No-one said it would be easy, but everyone seemed to have fun and finished safely.  It’s now nearly a week since TdeH and I’ve just about finished clearing up and dealing with the various admin and correspondence .. albeit I didn’t do anything over Chrimbo. The feedback has been brilliant (thank you) and there are some very interesting blogs and photos out there in hyperspace and I feel like I’m struggling to catch up and may have missed the boat. Of all the stuff I’ve read this quote is one of my favourites:

‘I am no stranger to tough trail marathons in southern England, but this was a step up both in terms of the level of fitness shown by the other competitors and sheer grunt required.  It was a pleasure to get out on the fells with such great company and I will be back next year for sure’  
     Lost in espace – FRA Forum

Taken from the FRA forum its sums up excellently why we started TdeH three years ago, and we seem to have created a classic.  TdeH is unique; it’s the fell runners ultra, tough and uncompromising and we don’t pretend to nanny our runners who need that determined steel edge resolve to ‘tick this one off’.  Equally so, I don't think we are elitist!

When you are deeply involved in making sure 150+ people (runners and event volunteers) are safe and efficiently cared for, it is easy to forget there is a bit of a race going on.  However, its was very evident when Ed Catmur came steaming back through our Patterdale control, way ahead of any expected time, that there was a race on.  Last year’s ‘winner’, Kim Collison had set off last and was aiming to break his 2011 record, which was set in snowy conditions.  This year’s condition where snow free although very wet and windy, hence wind chill was a fear all day for everyone.  

If you read Kim’s blog he talks of fighting all the way to the line to break the six hour barrier by just seven seconds.  Ed was to be second in a time of 6:05.  TdeH isn't a mass-start and so apart from those two, there were some excellent times at the front end.  But those who know us well will know that we are just as much about the mid-packers and tail enders as the front end.  Certainly, our resources are directed to getting people around and I’m very pleased to report that 128 finished out of a total of 148 starters.  Two of those ‘DNF’ can be read about in James Thurlow’s poignant blog, which is well worth a read with regards to hypothermia and clothing for winter running.  And thanks to John Allen for looking after James so selflessly.

Gear and Clothing

Please permit me a few observations with regards to kit.  Many people struggled with wet and cold fingers which has the knock on effect that they struggled to eat (or navigate or look after themselves)  Gloves often become useless and can’t be got on and off easily, whereas mitts can be more easily managed and are warmer.   Whilst we were waiting at Patterdale, Stu Smith, Pyro and myself were discussing how people need to ‘winterise their gear’ and think through what actually will work after several hours of wet winter running when everything is saturated.  And … yes, nothing is waterproof after so many hours of wind and rain!     We try and keep the kit check as quick and simple as possible but it is very worrying that some people believe their lightweight gear is ‘waterproof’ and that compression tights will keep them warm all day!  

James’s blog also talks about not having enough additional gear to put on when he started to suffer… something for us all to learn there.

Overall, those who retired were generally due to injury or the impending onset of cold and wet, or the realization that they were going too slowly and would be out too long.   There is no shame in a ‘DNF’ if it has been done for the right reasons and I congratulate all those who took the right decision and retired at the right time.  There is always next year ….

New for 2012, we used Sportident entries and timing which gives you all accurate splits and full results in readiness for next year’s attempt.  I need to raise the issue that several people had not ‘dibbed’ at control numbers two and/or seven (Martindale Church and Birkside Gill) and used a nearby orienteering clipper instead.  Quite simply, these people were clearly looking in the wrong place as I had not placed any clippers instead of, or alongside SI boxes.  Please make sure you read the event information as all controls had SI boxes in place.   I am aware that there is a semi-permanent O-clipper at the back of Martindale Church but it is not at the site of our control and such people should be lucky they were recorded as mis-punched, and DNF!

The control information was clearly on the website before hand and re-iterated on the display maps before the start.  I decided not to issue everyone with a printed handout at registration as to the vast majority of people this is just a waste of paper and in the previous two years has not prevented one or two similar occurrences. 

TdeH 2013 Looking Ahead

Thanks to everyone for their input, help and feedback. At NAV4 Adventure we like to create simple tough and yet attainable events for competent runners.   After thee years, and bearing in mind the excellent feedback, I believe with have the event just about perfect.  The ‘accommodation options’ on offer seemed to work OK, although parking is an issue.

We don’t intend to change anything in a big way, certainly not the route and hope to keep the checkpoints exactly where… so you can all find them! We may think about having a few small prizes of a festive nature and a wee presentation, maybe. 


Once again the return trip over Askham Moor gave a few navigational problems especially around the Stone Circle know as ‘The Cockpit’  Having been flagged up as a potential issue in the event notes, if you struggles her then perhaps you should think about a navigation course?

We are having  NAV4  ‘Open Day’ alongside our January training day, so just turn up for a brew, and a chat and perhaps get a few pointers (no pun intended) with regard to your compass skills or gear selection.      

Come to our Open Day - say Hello - Have a Brew
We also have some excellent One-Day training days arranged for January and March, as well as a weekend course at PyB in North Wales in April.   

TdeH runners and their friends can currently get a 20% discount of our One-Day courses in January and March by using the discount code NAV420F …. but be quick as the numbers of discounted places are limited.

Ok, that’s it – I really need to stop now … and get some exercise myself!

See you soon; perhaps at our re-vamped  'Lakes Mountain 40' in April or at TdeH 2013.

Joe Faulkner


  1. Great event, here's a link to how it was for me.

    Thank you all :)


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