Posted by: Bruce Duncan | January 3, 2012

Christmas Travels and Long Runs

All too soon its 2012.  Where did 2011 go to?  What a year it was, so much happened, my body took a lot of punishment, but I did some amazing things with some fantastic people.

2012 will be very different for me, with no huge challenge to prepare for, more freelance event work, and more normal adventure races to get fit and ready for.  I loved all the things I did in 2011 and the Epic Tri was amazing, what a huge feat we managed to complete with the help of so many brilliant friends, but I’m glad I’m not doing it again this year!

I have had a great last few weeks, spending Christmas in Norway with all my family, New Year in the Lakes with loads of great mates, and getting lots of running in.

Heading up to Sticks Pass (Photo by Stuart Smith)

Towards the end of December I competed in the Tour de Helvellyn, a 38mile ultra run from Askham to Patterdale and then a circuit of Helvellyn and back to Askham.  It was pretty fresh, with lots of snow on the ground over the 2 passes, and very strong winds over Sticks Pass, blowing sharp snow/hail into your face making vision a real struggle at times.  I ran most of the way with Alex Pilkington (last years winner), I was just running steadily knowing I’m still a long way off peak fitness.  It was great to run and chat away with Alex until Dunmail Raise where I began to pull away from him.  With staggered starts it was a great race as you kept passing people and were able to chat to folk as you ran almost all of the way.  The last stretch from Patterdale back to Askham was really tough going, but the target of getting back before darkness was a real help to get me home.  I finished in a time of 7hrs 17mins, which would have given me victory the previous year, but with faster going conditions I was well behind the winner, Kim Collinson flew around the course in a time of 6hrs 5mins, an incredible feat, hats off to Kim who is running really rather well at the moment.

I headed to London the next day, sitting in my car for close on 5hrs was not what my legs needed.  I was really stiff and sore from the run, I’d not felt great for the last few hours, and had struggled to eat, thus depleting my reserves, and felt really weak as a consequence the next day.  I spent a few great days in London with my girlfriend, catching up with old Uni friends, and on Monday night going along to watch the One Show.

After working on the Matt Baker Rickshaw Ride in November, Matt had said that whenever I was in London we should catch up and had invited me along to watch the show being filmed.  It was great to go along and to watch live TV being made, especially as Michael Macintyre was on the show, so there were many laughs.  After the show we all grabbed a few beers and were able to chat and catch up about the rickshaw ride and life after it.  It was really good to see Matt looking so well after he had pushed himself so hard to complete his challenge, and it was impossible to not draw parallels to what I had done with Ant earlier in the year.  So far Matt has raised over £1.8M which is a fantastic amount, and it made me feel very proud that I had helped him to achieve his goal.

Christmas cake decorated by my sister

For Christmas I headed over to Sandness in Norway to spend the week with my brother and his family, plus my sister and her family, and Dad as well.  It was to be a full household, but with 5 little people around it would be an exciting week for sure.  With bed space limited, Jon had set up a bed for me in his tent in the workshop downstairs.  It was very cosy, he’d laid a bit of carpet, given me a real mattress and duvet, and kindly placed me as far away from all the children as possible, for maximum morning sleep.

Christmas is so much fun with small people, the kids are ages 6, 4 ,almost 4, 2 and 6months, so there was a lot of playing, building railway lines, lego contraction, walks in the forest looking for the Gruffalo and getting very excited about what Father Christmas might bring.

The weather wasn’t the best though, with rain almost everyday, mild temperatures and plenty of wind.  This didn’t stop us from getting out everyday though, full waterproofs being employed every time we set foot outside the door though.

On the summit of Dalsnuten with Sebastiaan, Thomas, Claire, Jon, Dad and Oliver

I had planned to get some good running in with Jon, but I had a sore throat (and tired legs from the Tour dH) so took it very easy.  I think this Christmas day was the laziest I have had for over 15years, it comprised of a 200m walk to a play park and back with the kids!

We did get one great run in though through Melsei, which is the forest only a few minutes from their house, and other than the throat I felt pretty good.  The only other real exercise I got it was cycling to the airport to get Ben and Alison’s car from them to borrow while they were in the UK.  I can’t really count the short walks we did with the kids as exercise, but they were fun to see the smiles on their faces as they conquered mini mountains.

Father Christmas saying hello to the children

All too soon I was back in the UK, but the fun carried on.  I was back in Denstone for a good friends wedding blessing.  Lousie had got married in Canada in September, but held the home fixture at Denstone College for all those who couldn’t make it.  It was a great day, the whole gang were there, all the families I used to see when I lived there, so it was a perfect for a catch up.

I headed back to the Lakes on the 30th, to arrive to more heavy rain and horrid conditions for all but the ducks.  A gathering at Tom & Astrid’s house on the friday was followed by a brilliant open canoe trip down the River Lune for Liz’ birthday.  It rained a lot, but that didn’t stop us, and Jane and Dave even felt like a swim! Oops.

Paddling down the Lune - Spot the birthday boat with the balloons!

New Years eve was spent at Ant and Sally’s, with a fun party and great fireworks it was a great way to say goodbye to 2011 and hello 2012.   It was a relatively quiet affair as we were all to be up early the next morning to head to Kirkby Stephen to run in the Nine Standards fell race, an 8 mile run from the centre of the town to the top of Nine Standards Rigg and back again.  I felt good off the start, and my plan was to run all the way to the top and see how I was getting on.  I was only a few minutes off the lead, and pushed on on the decent and slowly caught up my good friend Tom Gibbs.  I couldn’t quite get him, but we had a good tussle, and finished in 5th and 6th position.

My legs didn’t feel too bad upon waking today, so I headed along to Tom and Astrid’s again for another run, call me a glutton for punishment.  We set out for a loop over the Bigland fells, down to Cartmell, up over Hampsfell and then back to Backbarrow.  Tom and I were feeling pretty tired, and Astrid had been a bit ill over the past few weeks, so it was a steady one.  We were out for 2.5hrs and did about 23km over very wet muddy ground, but it had been good to get out, and so soon after a fast race too was pleasing to know the legs were not too shabby.

I think I’ll take it a bit easier over the next few days, with plans to get some whitewater kayaking in while the rivers are all flowing high with all the rain, it has to be good for something!

I hope 2012 will continue to be like it has started, full of lots of adventures on foot, in boat, on bike and involving many great friends in some brilliant locations.

Happy new year to you all.

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