When I look back at 2017, it was a busy year on and off the trail, at times I may have stretched myself to the point where I began questioning my motives… but, I sit here, having looked through a stream of photos, in many respects catching up on 12 full on months.
At the outset of 2017 I gave myself two options;
1 – Hire a coach and focus on running
2 – See what I could achieve behind the lens
As someone who reviews products for brands, shoots races and creates all my own content, the two above may seem all or nothing, however, I felt like I needed to focus. It’s easy to say yes and be left spinning plates left, right and centre, on the precipice of burning out. You must remember why you do what you do.
I don’t do this for money, if I did, I wouldn’t be able to afford the phone or computer I type on, the camera I shoot or the car used for travelling across the UK. I do this out of passion, to create and communicate. To share my knowledge, content and inspire strangers. So what did I chose? By a twist of fate….
I hired Paul Giblin to be my coach, after reaching out to a few coaches to see what suited me. I’ve worked with Paul previously in my day job and follow his ultra exploits on social (if you have yet to see Paul’s Buckle Up series, in the build up to Western States I highly recommend it). My A race was to be Lakeland 50 and my training revolved around this, in the process using Trail Marathon Wales as a training run. Well, as some of you will know, Lakeland 50 wasn’t to be, as I caught a cold in the middle of tapering which stuck like the preverbal to a shoe. I was pretty down after this, but took that fitness into the Salomon Ring of Steall, where my endurance scored well, but mountain fitness bit me hard.
Finishing the year off, I took on Maverick Race’s Dark Series Hampshire Long Course race, going out like a stabbed rat and holding on for dear life in the closing miles. My splits show going out at full tilt doesn’t pay off. “One day I’ll learn”.
The past couple of months haven’t been great, as my motivation to run 5 days a week in guaranteed darkness hasn’t been at an all time high. Mentally I am rested and know the hard miles need to start NOW.
Green Way Challenge – 40th
Salomon Trail Marathon Wales – 25th
Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace – 170th
Maverick Race Dark Series Hampshire Long Course – 5th
I can only thank Paul for his patience and support throughout and look forward to 2018’s challenges.
The season kicked off with XNRG’s Alps Training Seminar where runners looking at big mountain running and to take on one of UTMB’s races had a host of knowledge from the likes of Robbie Britton, Nicky Spinks, Damian Hall, Colin Barnes and XNRG’s own Neil Thubron.
From here it was on to Run Coed Y Brenin’s Ultra Weekend where I documented a weekend of ultra talks, workshops and social runs around the purpose built running trails of Coed Y Brenin Trail Centre. Salomon’s Donnie Campbell and Michael Jones provided ultra knowledge, ranging from training, kit, racing and beyond.
Then the pace ramped up, shooting XNRG’s Devils Way Challenge, Round the Island & Chiltern Challenge. All very different races in terms of distance, terrain and for me, getting into location to get the shots.
The Lakes were calling and I was invited to shoot Mountain Fuel‘s Billy Bland Relay Challenge attempt. The pace was unreal, as some of the countries finest fell and trail runners went all out to smash the record books…. and many records fell. 5 locations with plenty of running into remote mountain positions called for a lighter set up, navigation and constant motion.
Now back up in the highlands of Scotland, after finishing the Ring of Steall, I found myself on the finish line of the Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra after Matt Ward has roped me in from the crowd to help capture the climax of the inaugural race.
And to round a season of shutter squeezing off, I was at Kendal Mountain Festival for inov-8’s Fell Running Session, which turned out to be the best night I’ve had at Kendal in my years of attending.
In-between all of the above, their were training runs, trips to the mountains, presented films at Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, work (yes I have a day job too), rode mountain bikes and in many respects enjoyed the year.
I have probably missed lots from this year and I know why. It was rammed! From a year that started with an empty calendar bar 3 races, it quickly became one to remember.
To all those that made it what it was, from friends, running buddies, adventure companions and those who hired me, thank you and I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.