The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost

I made a promise to myself train and get as fit and strong as I could for The Spine Challenger, and over the last month I have ran many miles, on the trail during the night, before I got to climb into my bed. I can’t believe how quickly November has flown by! I have had a superb month of training, clocking the biggest monthly mileage of the year, as I have pushed my body to its physical and mental limit. Motivation hasn’t been a problem this month, my partner Jen has made sure I have got out training, and I am focused on seeing how quickly I can run 112 miles in January (the course is 3 miles longer this year as we have to go into Horton in Ribblesdale).

I have been really fortunate with the weather during November, which has made training a lot easier, I have had to cope with a couple of really windy days, which made running on the Pennine Way hard going. I was reminded how difficult it is running along the Pennine Way at night when it is shrouded in fog, as my head torch just bounced back at me and meant I could only illuminate the trail directly below my feet, causing my pace to drop.

Here is Novembers Training stats:


1st-2nd  – 25miles 3hrs 46mins 4212ft of ascent (1284m)

3rd – 9th – 85.7miles 11hrs 59mins 13045ft of ascent (3976m)

10th – 16th – 101.3miles 13hrs 36mins 13245ft of ascent (4037m)

17th -30th – 92.3miles 12hrs 24mins 12861ft of ascent (3721m)

Totals miles – 392.4miles

Total time – 54hrs 58mins

Total ascent – 55,571ft (16,938m)

Avg pace – 8:24min/mile

Total Training for the Spine Challenger since 6th October –

630 miles

90 hours

84,925 ft (25,885m) ascent

It’s been a positive sign that I have been able to get so many miles in during November and have coped well with the training load. One of my goals was to try and get at least 11500ft (3500m) of ascent each week, as I the Spine Challenger had 16030ft (4886m) of ascent according to my Garmin GPS.

Only 16 miles to go and Pen-y-Ghent ahae

During November I have been looking at ways to making my kit that I have to carry for the Spine Challenger lighter. We have to carry a comprehensive amount of kit, very similar to kit required for a Mountain Marathon, plus a few extra items such as a GPS unit, crampons, and snow goggles or sunglasses, items you could expect to need in winter conditions in the UK in January.

I adopted my mountain marathon kit mantra that ‘Every Gram Counts’ having done many mountain marathons, including Elite Class, since my first attempt of the KIMM back in 1994 and working on mountain marathon training courses with Joe Faulkner at Nav4. I continued to push the barriers on how light I could get my kit but could cope with sometimes-arduous conditions on the KIMM in October.

I knew I would be trying to move as quickly as I could over the course in 2014 and my partner Jen was crewing for me – we hired a van and planned 9 locations to meet up along the Pennine Way. This meant I could have extra kit in the van instead of having to carry lots of different jackets, hats or gloves. I still carried the full kit required for the race, but knew I had extra options available in the van.

The van before the start

Kit carried in grams

Compass 31
Sunglasses 24
GPS 153
Mobile 75
AlpKit Bivi bag 363
Sleeping bag 485
MSR Pocket Rocket Stove 87
Titanium Pan 89
Gas 112
Montane Minimus Smock 134
Montane Minumus pants 139
Spare top & bottom 261
First aid kit 26
Neck gaiter (buff) 33
Montane Yukon Beanie 37
Roll matt (3mm foam matt) 44
Montane Prism Gloves 60
Gore Tex Mitts 55
Thermal Sock 28
Montane Fireball Jckt 321
Mini Multi tool 55
Granny ice spikes 105
TOTAL 2717

I used an OMM Ultra 15 pack, which was plenty big enough for the kit I carried; there was enough space to add a thin fleece top which I wore over the last section of the race.

Malham at 2am in the morning and -4C

For the 2015 Spine Challenger I have refined my kit and have been able to shave a couple of grams off some off the kit I will be using and carrying. Remember ‘Every Gram Counts’

In my final Spine Challenger blog next month I will share what food I used to fuel me along 109 miles of the Pennine Way.

Snowy Kinder photo taken by Summit Fever Photography who are also making a film of the 2015 Spine Race

If you’re training for Spine race I hope your training is going well. If your training for another event or just getting out there hitting the trail I hope your winter running is going well too…

Chasing the dream….

chasing a dream