Summer Spine Challenger June 2021

Summer Spine Challenger June 2021

After posting a DNF in the winter Spine Challenger 2020 due to extrem stomach problems I was still determined to complete at least 1 100 mile ultra run. The Summer Spine Challenger seemed a much more benign option, held in summer, being dry, warm and with 16 hours of daylight. I hadn’t set myself a specific target, though still had 40 hours as a reasonable target. 40 hours would be less than 3mph average – theoretically walking pace.

Having recced all the route for the 2020 winter event and then run half of it before retiring at Hebden Bridge I was confident that I would not get lost with the route on my Garmin Fenix 6 and SatNav plus the guide, which I never used. So with only 20 miles a week in 2020 I set off on the train from Colne to Edale on the Friday

Finishing time 40:53:27

Summer Spine Challenger Results

Mallory Park 29/03/2015

So the eagerly awaited first race of the season and I was all raring to go. Over the winter I had been given some excellent tuition from Oliver Barnard at Preptech. He had coached me on some of the finer points of racing such as getting on the power earlier, getting the car setup but not upset on turn in and having the confidence to let the car run right out to the apron on certain corners. It is also an eye opener how using a gear higher can pay off if you can be both smooth enough and decisive enough to apply the throttle earlier enough. I definitely recommend tuition from Oliver, the 2011 MG Trophy champion.

I had also fitted a brand new cylinder head complete with cams and VVC mechanism as a compression test had revealed one cylinder down to 170 psi and the other pressures marginal. With the pressures restored and the engine sounding a lot sweeter I was hoping for a trouble-free run up to the event. But that wasn’t bargaining for the driveshaft bearing failure 2 weeks before when my son Charles and I went for a trackday at Oulton Park. Still £50 later for a second hand ‘box out of a Grandad’s ZR and I was on the road again! That is one of the reasons that I have always run near standard cars being a Lancastrian and all that.

The last time I competed at Mallory was the rally of the Midlands in 2009 driving a BMW 325 rally car. I remember we were having a pretty torid time. The tachymetric relay jumped out at Merevale Hall then we got lost in a sea of cones at MIRA proving ground. The only highlight was getting 1st and 2nd fastest times at Mallory Park. We used the infield where the paddock is and the bus stop before the Esses. An ex 205 Challenge champion commented that I was the only one that got the line right at Gerrard’s and that is what reawakened a long burning ambition that I would like to try this going round in circles! After a test in a Formula Vee and then musing about Mr2s, MX5s and Mighty Minis I ended up in a ZR.

The weather forecast of rain and wind was quite annoying in some respects but then I have always enjoyed slippery surfaces so I couldn’t really complain. I got there what I thought was nice and early to only just be able to bag a slot then went for a track walk, which was of debatable use as I was permanently cowed against the rain. It seemed that most of the speed was to be had coming out of Gerrards and the hairpin. Nick Ashman gave me some good tips and advised me to be wary of the painted exit curb coming out of Gerrards, which was to prove quite prophetic…

Qualifying was a bit turbulent and I didn’t actually get a clear lap but only pole sitter Paul Clackett passed me so perhaps I wasn’t doing too bad. It was a definite advantage having the Dunlop full wets that ZRs running to the Trophy regs. are allowed to use and I was chuffed to bits to qualify 3rd overall behind Ashley Woodward. I wasn’t really sure whether there was more to come or not as I didn’t feel to be exploring the limits but then that I would probably have got ragged and slowed down had I have pushed it harder.

There was a lot of indecision in the hour leading up to the 2:40pm race start as we all paced up and down the pits nervously prevaricating over wets or intermediates. Really all this F1 stuff was a bit of a joke as it would have taken me 10 minutes minimum to change all 4 wheels on my own so wets it was. This seemed to be the choice of everyone apart from Ashley Woodward who proved that this was not a good decision by spinning nearly immediately into Gerrards! Keith Egar had made a blistering start from 8th to 3rd but then ended up on the outside of Ashley so lost a lot of ground. I took to the grass trying to leave a big enough margin and just held off Philip Standish in the LE500. From there on I was pretty much on my own. At one moment I got all excited thinking that I was catching Paul but that was just the deception of braking into the hairpin. So I paced myself for easily my best race finish of 2nd overall and 1st in class.

There was still the backmarkers to pass however, most of whom were on far less favourable tyres and RWD so were slipping all over the place. I passed an MG Midget on the outside and was catching Colin Offley’s Sprite on the exit of Gerrards. I could see he was struggling for grip and obviously trying but had plenty of speed and so lined up to pass on the right when suddenly he did what Nick had advised not to do and dropped a wheel on the kerb and then right before my eyes there was a red projectile spearing across the track at 90 degrees. I steered right but found myself funnelled towards the scene of the accident. It was and unescapable collision all played out on this clip. Needless to say both cars are badly damaged but the drivers are OK although I have since heard that Colin has sustained a broken rib so best wishes to him.

Of course at that point I though why am I doing this and not running or biking or doing something much less expensive. On reflection though it was a very good weekend up to that point and hopefully I will be out at Donington Park in 2 month’s time.

Results and lap times.

Calderdale Hike 12/04/2014

The Calderdale Hike is a classic in ultra running circles, having been run since 1979. There are variations of walking and running with 26 and 37 mile routes. I would be competing in the 37 mile run in preparation for the 50 mile Lakeland 50 in July. As I alluded to in my Haworth Hobble ramble I had done the maths and extrapolated 32 miles of Haworth Hobble @ 5:55 into 37 miles of Calderdale Hike @ sub 7 hours. I was to be proved wrong…

Steady away from Sowerby Cricket Club things were going fine and I was enjoying picking out parts of the route from the Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (still wishing I was on my bike!). I use the Garmin Edge 800 as a Sat Nav with 1:50,000 mapping supplied. It is little different from walking GPS with the exception that, if you put it in your pocket the touch screen can get all excited and give you various combinations of super zoom or random settings when you look at it again. It is not purist I guess but it is better than getting lost. The reason I mention this is that you also need to be flexible because the supplied GPX file uses a route that is about half a mile longer as you drop down into Mytholmroyd. The string of runners gives the game away so better to follow the pack than the GPS at this point.

On to Stoodley Pike and the reverse of the Haworth Hobble, overtaking some more cautious runners on the descent and then into Lumbutts Methodist Church for some great ham sandwiches and fluid refill. Things were feeling fine now and I just has to be patient on the big ascent to the Long Causeway and then about 3 miles of total bog across to Gorple reservoir. I felt that I should have been enjoying the bog since I live only a mile away from a boggy ascent up Boulsworth Hill but much as I told myself that this was real man’s terrain I couldn’t wait for the hard standing of the classic Gorple track down to the Widdop checkpoint.

Well 3 hours gone and not even halfway but my legs felt OK and I knew the route over past Top Withens and to Penistone Park so plodded on and ate my first Muller rice. This time it has imploded in my sack so I need to look at a better way of transporting it. It was only that I got to the top of Penistone and saw Stoodley Pike in the very far distance that I realised the enormity of what still lay ahead. If you had have told me that anyone would be able to run to the East of that landmark and further having already come from there I would have said you were mad a few years ago. How many fell walkers amongst us used to shake our heads as runners scurried past us on terrain that seemed suitable for walking only?

The results are here, which show me finishing 44th out of 83 37 Mile Runners. In the bottom half and a lot of work to do before the Lakeland 50.

Strava Run Profile.

Silverstone National 29/03/2014

8ian winstanley 006 SmallThis was to be the first race of the 2014 season with the only time in the car since my last race at Oulton Park 7 months ago being a track day, again at Oulton Park. I would have to rely on my in car from the race 2 years ago at the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit and remember to turn right not left at Maggots onto the much shorter National Circuit!

Qualifying went OK but not brilliantly, lining up 4th out of 12 in class and 11th out of 24 cars in total. My usual good starts don’t appear to be working too well in the mixed configuration Cockshoot Cup field as the RWD cars get a better start – especially the mid engined MGFs and that puts me out of sequence. So I dropped down to around 13th in class after the 1st lap then made up a succession of places at the end of the Wellington straight, where you can be really late on the brakes into Brooklands if you are looking to do a dive up the inside.

8ian winstanley 003 SmallAfter Peter Bramble spun at Copse I was up to 3rd in class then in quick succession both of the quick MG Midgets of David Morrison then later on Mike Peters, retired leaving me 1st in class and 7th place overall. It was quite a lonely race from then on and all I had to do was keep it tidy for my first ever class win in racing. Roll on Croft!

Class B Results

1st Ian WINSTANLEY MG ZR 160 18laps 21:58.2
2nd Keith EGAR MG Midget 17laps 21:20.0
3rd Peter BRAMBLE MG ZR 160 17laps 21:28.0

Haworth Hobble 15th March 2014

This was to be my first “ultra run” (over 26 miles) although I had done a 31 mile practice from our house to Pendle Hill and back and was in the land of the living dead for the last 3 miles. Since I am running 50 miles in July whilst competing in the Lakeland 50 I really needed the long distance practice.

It was the usual set off with some people panting and puffing and running way too fast. I let them go and stuck to my sub 135bpm target. Up the cobbled street out of Haworth and then familiar territory towards Top Withens and over into Calderdale. The average was not too good at below 5.5mph here but I knew the route to the Long Causeway would bring the average up. At the long causeway halt I refilled the water and downed my new anti indigestion tool – Muller Rice. It seemed to go down well but was a little bulky to carry around with me.

Things seemed to be going well and I could see my destination of Stoodley Pike on the skyline. Most of the route down into Todmorden was mountain bike territory for me so I felt at home on the old pack horse trails. The route up to the Pike is a bit of a killer but I was still feeling OK at this point and my average had risen to 5.8mph. I was doing my usual trick of reeling in some of the fast starters as well. Down from the Pike it drops into Pennine Bridleway country in Challis Wood. This is where I started feeling a little queasy and needed a second Muller Rice as I knew the slog up to Heptonstall would be a killer. Walking was about as much as I could manage at this point.

It was the long haul up stairs that was the sting in the tail and most of us were by now running / walking. It was good to chat with others and all pretence of competition had now gone out of the window. This was about survival. You know that you are tired when even the downhills are difficult to run and how much did I wish I were on a mountain bike descending stairs! Only over Penistone Hill and I would be in Haworth. I could see a Trawden vest behind me and ran like hell, nearing the finish and still in front. Then I took a wrong turning and lost out by 11 seconds. It was irrelevant really but it is amazing how soul destroying that can be when emotions are running high.

My finish time was 05:55:28 133rd out of 509 starters so a significant improvement over my usual top 1/3rd finishing rate – see I was tired but not shattered and was hoping to do the forthcoming Calderdale Hike in sub 7 hours based on the fact that it was only around 5 miles longer.

Strava Run Profile