Category Archives: Mike Bennett

Broughton Woods Wobble, North York Moors, Sunday, April 12, 2015

AS / 4.5m / 1220ft

Mike Bennett

3 Esk valley usual suspects, Jan Young, Danny Lim and Mike Bennett made it to a damp windy Clay bank car park to enter on the day for this event, another in the Esk Valley series, rescheduled from Feb. Only 55 runners turning up on the day.

The course may be quite short but had all the ingredients of a testing fell race. The climb being the longest uphill section on the Cleveland hills then a mixture of heather tracks, mud, granite slab paths, and rocky descents. Scenery was great if you dared take your eyes off the track for more than a few seconds without taking a tumble. Marshalls on route at critical points, course was reasonably well marked but a couple of sections where you could miss the route. I did manage to stay on the course this week so avoiding any time penalty.

A fast downhill muddy finish, fell shoes tested to the limit.

Jan was 10th female finisher and came away with wine, I managed first in age group with Danny close behind.

Mike Jan Danny

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Cameron Taylor Esk Valley Fell MJ/1/50/300 39:46
9 Kay Neesam New Marske Harriers F45/1/50/350 44:51
16 Mike Bennett M60/1/50/248 50:12
18 Danny Lim M0/7/42/135 51:31
46 Jan Young F60/2/48/390 61:20

55 finishers

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Glaisdale Rigg, Sunday, March 8, 2015

BM / 8.5M 1844’

Mike Bennett

very little separating the Michaels and Mikes.
Photo courtesy and © David Parke

2 Esk valley regulars Mike Hughes and Mike Bennett were the only purplies in attendance at this event, another race in the Esk Valley series.

Course was longer but considerably drier than Captain Cooks with 2 good lung busting climbs and some superb scenery. Mixture of road, bog, heather, pine forest tracks and farmland. Course was well marked, (not always the case with these events), even so a few runners still managed to miss crucial turns.

You need to remember to save something for the very short but sharp uphill bit at the finish, with spectators and earlier finishers watching you feel you have to push right to the end before you can collapse.

A good friendly atmosphere from start to finish and the familiar sight of Dave Parry clipboard in hand to greet you at the finish. £6 EOD with a generous prize list, 3 bottles wine for my first in age group made the day.

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Lands End to John O’ Groats by bike, Sunday, June 15, 2014

1030 miles in 10 days

Dave Shipman, Mike Bennett

Dave …

I know, it’s not running, but enough folk in the club do triathlon, duathlon or ride a range of sportives and local rides like the Durham Big Ride and Beast, or just cycle for fun and fitness, to hopefully make it relevant and interesting.

Mike Bennett and I, along with a colleague, Andrew, have just completed LEJOG, enjoying a fantastic period of weather – only rained once in 10 days!! – and cycling through some of the most beautiful parts of Great Britain. We did it with no back-up, carrying our own gear, on a route worked out to avoid major routes and to find quiet back roads wherever possible, although in reality that did mean more hills and slow progress on many days. For accommodation we stayed in a range of cheap hotels, B+Bs, youth hostels and pubs and to make the whole thing possible we got the train down to Penzance for the start, then back from Thurso at the finish.

Only, err, 1030 miles to go ...

The daily schedule, which we managed to stick to only by toiling through some very long days and late finishes, looked like this:

Day 1 Penzance – Lands End – Newquay 63 miles
Day 2 Newquay – Tiverton 110 miles
Day 3 Tiverton – Bristol 70 miles
Day 4 Bristol – Craven Arms (north of Ludlow) 90 miles
Day 5 Craven Arms – Southport 115 miles
Day 6 Southport – Carlisle 132 miles
Day 7 Carlisle – Stirling 125 miles
Day 8 Stirling – Tomintoul 121 miles
Day 9 Tomintoul – Crask Inn 121 miles
Day 10 Crask Inn – John O Groats 83 miles

Significant aspects along the way were the kindness and warmth of people everywhere and something which really surprised me, the majority of drivers were cyclist-friendly. Only in Preston, where a man in a VW Golf nearly killed me and a young chap in a Peugeot got very verbal were things intimidating. Only the rush hour into Bristol, a stretch into the Lakes and parts of the A9 in Scotland got scary. Otherwise from start to finish we had “pinch me, I’m dreaming roads” several times a day, had a great many laughs – do it with friends/family if you decide to give it a go yourself, it’s a brilliant way to spend time together – and can look back on miles of quiet lanes, notably in Cornwall, Shropshire, the Lake District and Scotland for the rest of our cycling lives. The ride along the seafront at Crosby, with the Anthony Gormley statues looking out to sea, also was unforgettable.

During the journey, from time to time we were given an extra cheer, much appreciated by all of us. Roz and her sister joined us just outside Hereford, but sadly couldn’t ride with us due to family commitments. My brother John and his partner Lyn popped out from a garden centre in Chester and John rode with us til Lancaster. Barry Bird joined us from Carlisle to Moffatt, then turned round and rode back to Carlisle. Apart from that, although there were nearly 50 cyclists starting at about the same time as us at Lands End, encounters with fellow LEJOG or JOGLE riders were rare events after Day 1 until the last day, in reality we all went on slightly different routes, covering different distances at different speeds so were dispersed to the roads. However, in keeping with the growth of cycling fever and the Tour Depart in Yorkshire, wherever we went cyclists were very much in evidence, which is brilliant to see.

Is it me, or are they getting thinner?

Practically and mechanically things went pretty well too, Mike had a couple of punctures, Andrew shredded a back tyre but that was all, the only noticeable downsides were late night rides into Carlisle (near midnight) and Tomintoul (elevenish). Somehow we/I failed to notice the extra ski resort after Glenshee before Tomintoul, which took us over the only hill we had to walk up in the whole journey: head for “The Lecht” if you want a challenge, don’t think I could get up it even on a mountain bike after a rest day, so after over 100 miles on a very hilly day the legs and trusty touring bike gave up!!

Like on most endurance events, we all turned into food processing machines, eating more of anything and everything as the days went by, huge breakfasts and frequent meal stops supplemented by a million muesli bars/flapjack, jelly babies, chocolate milk, Turkish Delight, Bounties, Jaffa Cakes, salted nuts but despite that inevitably had times when the energy levels dropped and all lost a few pounds in weight by the end.

So,would I do it again, most definitely, different route and probably take a few more days, do it from North to South (JOGLE) next time … could we run it as a club relay? Yes,if enough people would commit to running a few 10 mile legs each … though the route would have to take in a number of long distance footpaths to make it both safe and interesting – one for the AGM to discuss perhaps … ?

… Mike adds …

Hallelujah!

I signed up to this thinking it was ‘something to do’ It wasn’t until a couple of days into the event I began to appreciate the enormity of the task, especially given the 10 day schedule with no rest days built in. Having said that we settled in to a routine and the actual cycling became surprisingly manageable despite long days in the saddle. Memorable bits centred around scenery, food and accommodation, the cycling was almost incidental. Maximum calories were consumed, major roads where possible were avoided major hills however were included, the Cheddar Gorge, Kirkstone Pass, Glenshee, the long hill out of Moffat which took an hour to get to the top of and many others along the way. The Crask Inn deserves a special mention, many miles along a single track road (the A836 no less) from Lairg in Scotland, landlord and landlady waited up for us to serve a cooked meal, a few pints of the local Black Isle Beer and a wee dram of the local malt.

Our trusty steel framed touring bikes performed well and got us to the top of all the hills bar the Lecht. They also raised a comment or 2 from some of the older cyclists we met on route.

All in all it was one of the most memorable, (for all the right reasons) adventure holidays I have been a part of. My thanks to David for the route planning and booking of accommodation. (We’ll forget the minor oversight of the road up to the Lecht ski centre in the dark and wet.)

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Classic Quarter, Cornwall, Saturday, June 7, 2014

44 miles

Mike Bennett

Listed as an Ultra marathon organised by Endurance Life, in simple terms it starts at Lizard point in Cornwall, the most southerly point in the UK and finishes at Lands End, the most westerly point. The route closely follows the Cornish coastal path.

I was coerced into signing up for this event last October. Plenty of time to get some training in between October and June I thought. As the date approached and various ailments, commitments etc came and went I realised the training had not quite gone to plan. Flying down to Bristol Friday night, driving onto Truro and getting in at 1:30 am with a 4 am wake up call didn’t seem ideal race day preparation either.

Needless to say 6:20am or thereabouts 300 solo runners including me and 2 friends plus a number of relay teams set off. The coastal path included some stunning scenery, rugged coastlines with crashing surf, small Cornish fishing villages, surf beaches, wooded areas, old tin mines. The camaraderie amongst the other runners was something I’d not experienced in many races before, I guess we weren’t at the sharp end so we weren’t seen as a threat to the leaders. Plenty of water and basic food stops, good reception from the supporters along the way all helped to ease the pain of running the actual event. Despite initial misgivings at the high cost of the event I had to admit as I crossed the finish it was worth it.

Initial results show 197 finishers out of the 300 starters,

150 M Bennett 11:46

167 C Kelly 12:01

196 D Hutchinson 13:15

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Trail Majorca Serra de Tramuntana, Saturday, April 20, 2013

60K / 2,500m

Mike Bennett

Walking the GR221 in Majorca last year with my walking mate Clive we were confronted by several hundred runners on a narrow mountain path going in the opposite direction. This took some careful negotiating to let them all past while still allowing us to continue our walk and not lose time. Upon our return to the UK, a quick search on Google informed us the race we encountered was an annual event consisting of 2 distances, a 100 km 24 hour event plus a 60 km 16 hour with 4800 and 2500m climb respectively. Forget the tourist side of Majorca and think of towering limestone crags, rugged coastlines, ancient olive groves and mix this with the smell of orange blossom and old Majorcan villages and you begin to get a feel for the potential for the event – just a matter of staying on your feet for a few hours.

Taking into consideration our knowledge of the terrain and our level of fitness we opted for the shorter course. We signed up and paid our 80 euros. The 800 race entry was full within approx 2 weeks.

We decided 12 hours would be a comfortable time estimate so that was our aim, also to stick together during the race so when one of us began to flag the other would take over. With a rousing send-off we started out with the 800 others at 8 am on an uphill climb out of Valldemossa. We started out on granite paths through the Holm Oak woods before eventually dropping down into Deia. Temperatures were low for this time of year, around 17°C, a light cooling breeze and good cloud cover made for near perfect running conditions. We made good time to Deia, quick pit stop at a well stocked food and drink station then onwards and upwards towards Soller. More views and orange blossom scent, then a quick stop in Soller. Now for the hard bit, the climb out of Soller, 800m climb with no let up towards Lake Cuber. More stunning scenery, by now we were able to take this in as we were walking this section. Feeling somewhat nauseous still managed to force food and liquids down and again we were off. This was about the halfway point, with most of the climbing done. We remained at a high level for much of this section however there were still a few more short climbs involved.

Plenty of encouragement along the way, including being serenaded by Spanish bagpipes at highest point of the race, anointed by a ‘priest’ with a toilet brush, flute music drifting down the path etc followed eventually by the long descent. With quads groaning by now we jog/walked and picked our way down the rocky path. The descent went on forever. Eventually we got to the monastery at Lluc where we took a 15 min stop. By now it was late afternoon, the sun was fully out, skies were clear and temperature still ideal for running. The remaining 10 miles was a mixture of tarmac roads and paths, the tricky bits were out of the way and it was just a case of putting one foot in front of the other without having to think too much.

We were reduced to walking for most of this section due to fatigue but managed to break into a run for the last mile and overtake a few stragglers. Upon entering the town square at Pollenca we were met with a huge cheer, I looked around but it was only myself and Clive in view. You could have thought we were the winners. We checked our time and place as soon as we finished then struggled to the food tent for beer and pizza. Time was just inside 12 hours, position 411 and 412. (Can’t seem to find the results yet so we don’t know how many finishers there were).

All in all a great event, food stops, route marking, marshalling were all excellent and the scenery and vocal support superb.

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FRA Navigation Weekend, Kettlewell, Friday, March 16, 2012

Mike Bennett

Nina brought up the topic of the FRA navigation course while a few of us were sat in the Spread Eagle following the Captain Cook race on New Years Day. Remembering Tom, Nigel and Shaun’s glowing reports of the course they did a few years back I figured it was time I stopped following people in races and tried finding my own way to the finish and got booked up.

Four Striders attended the weekend at Kettlewell, Nina, Jan, Mark and myself along with 26 other runners and walkers from far and wide. The activities were all based around the Youth Hostel at Kettlewell which was ours for the weekend. Food provided and cooked by the Youth Hostel staff all included in the total cost of £60 for the whole weekend for FRA members, (£85 for non members, £12 to join FRA! You do the maths, it’s a no brainer).

Mike.Jan.Mark.Nina.

photos courtesy and © Dave Taylor

A full programme of events relating to navigating were promised and the course certainly lived up to its reputation. With a ratio of 2 guides per group of 4-5 participants meant we were all under expert tuition the whole time. A short spell in the ‘classroom’ followed by the rest of the activities out on the Fells included small group activities then paired exercises culminating in a 10k solo event. There was even a night navigation session on the Fells in pairs with just map headtorch and compass. Sounds scary but it was amazing just how quickly you can pick up the basics and get going.

From being a bit of a map reading novice I now have a good basic level of competence, the rest is down to me to put into practice.

I can’t rate this weekend highly enough for walkers, orienteers and runners alike. Feedback from the other participants was in agreement with my experience.

Next event as far as I am aware is in Elterwater Youth hostel from 21st September, same format, different location.

A word of caution however, Nina and Mark both finished ahead of me in the solo event so don’t follow me just yet.

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