55-Year-old Sharon Gayter Becomes Fastest Woman to Run Land’s End to John O’ Groats

Back to work on Monday, the 55-year-old ultrarunner, Sharon Gayter, finished her run in 12 days, 11 hours, six minutes and seven seconds. Her time beat the previous record by just under 4 hours.

She told the BBC that she was severely sleep-deprived having only slept 3 hours on each of the nights of her 12 day and 822-mile endeavour.

“I wanted to break the record by as much as I could and push to my limits because you never know what’s round the corner, like road closures.”

Her record is yet to be confirmed by Guinness World Records.

The Men’s record for travelling from Land’s End to John O’ Groats is held by Andrew Rivett who ran from May 4 to 13 in 2002 totalling 9 days 2 hours 26 mins.

In 2011, Gayter broke the Men and Women’s records for the distance covered running on a treadmill in seven days.

Talking to the BBC, she said that her body continues to surprise her:

“I’m getting on now and I keep thinking that I can’t do any more, but the body surprises me that it can.

“And while I can still [break records] I will.”

More than 100 volunteers apply to protect iconic London footpaths

A new volunteer scheme hopes to help maintain, improve and promote two iconic London walking routes – London Loop and The Capital Ring.

More than 100 volunteers have applied to become “guardian rangers” for sections of both trails to cover the more than 230 miles of footpaths that the routes span.

Jackie Gower a new Capital Ring Ranger says:

“The Capital Ring and the London Loop are such a great asset for people who love exploring in and around London. I’m really excited to help as many people as possible discover them and hopefully get as much enjoyment out of them as I do.”

London Loop covers 150 miles alone and circles the city linking parks, country footpaths and ancient woodland together.

The Capital Ring is more central, covering 78 miles of open space, nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The volunteers will monitor their respective sections and bring attention to any deterioration, missing signposts and undergrowth.

Live weather readings are now available from the summit of Snowdon

Detailed measurements gathered from the weather station relay wind speed and temperature atop Wales’ tallest mountain – importantly, the website also notes the closing time of the Summit Café.

Part of the Adventure Smart Project, the weather station aims to provide walkers, fell runners and climbers with clear weather information when planning a day out in the mountains.

Installed to serve experienced and first-time walkers alike, the BMC noted that the station is particularly important as the number of call-outs to mountain rescue teams on Snowdon continues to increase.

Winter conditions have yet to test the weather station, however, and it is thought likely that the wind monitor will seize up in a winter freeze.

A webcam has also been installed on the peak as part of the British Mountaineering Council’s project.

Fell running legend Joss Naylor completes Lake District Mountain Trial 57 years after DNF

The 83-year-old completed the La Sportiva Lake District Mountain Trial’s Classic course – an 18-mile course with 7500ft climb.

Naylor – known also as Iron Joss – said it was “unfinished business” after having to withdraw from the race 57 years ago.

At the age of 26, his first attempt was cut short by extreme weather. He said:

“The wind and rain were so bad on that day that you couldn’t even stand up.

“As you got down into the fells you disappeared into the mist.

“I had salt tablets to help the cramp but they dissolved in the storm.”

In more forgiving weather, Joss completed the 12.5-mile route which he couldn’t quite finish 57 years before.

“It took him six hours and 20 minutes, including a stop for a sandwich and we ended the day in the local pub where Joss enjoyed a Guinness. It was also great to see so many people turn out to support him including his contemporaries Peter Hall, Peter Nelson and Ken Ledward.”

Joss’ records include breaking the Lake District 24-hour record three times and FKT’s on the Three Peaks, Welsh 3,000ers and Pennine Way.

Running the Trial this year, Joss raised over £50,000 for the Brathay Trust.

 

New Labour Party report proposes Right to Roam policy for whole of United Kingdom

The Labour Party has published a new report rethinking land matters in the United Kingdom. As part of their self-proclaimed “radical” proposals, the report supports adopting the Scottish policy of Right to Roam for the entirety of the United Kingdom.

In response to health crises and to enhance “our sense of belonging” the report proposes “that rest of the UK adopts the Scottish principle of a Right to Roam across all uncultivated land and water, excluding gardens and other exceptions.”

Such a policy would redefine land ownership in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and open up vast swathes of land for public use.

The proposals take further inspiration from the Scottish system in calling for bodies modelled on the Scottish Land Commission to be established in the rest of the United Kingdom. These bodies would address issues relating to land ownership via research and in the proposal of new policies.

Ramblers CEO, Vanessa Griffiths approved of the report noting the importance of “contact with nature” for health. Griffiths also praised the reports aim of opening the countryside up “so that it is of the benefit of the many, not the few.”

In another policy area that the Ramblers Association has campaigned on in recent years, the report encourages the repeal of legislation “limiting the protection of footpaths and bridleways.”

Suggesting that the current protections for historic footpaths and rights of way are wanting, the report focuses on the managed neglect of landowners allowing public rights of way to fall into disuse and the end of registering rights of way by 2026.

Concluding comments on public rights of way, the report proposes that we “learn from the largely forgotten history of land reform in the UK” in order to inspire a “21st-century land reform movement.”

How to Summit a Mountain for the Sunrise. Our Essential Gear List for the Perfect Pre-Dawn Hike

Planning an early morning summit to catch the sunrise is essential if you want to enjoy a view few are lucky to see. Of course, timing is the main emphasis in most guides on the topic, but gear is just as important. Alongside our pointers for timing your climb for a mountain sunrise, below we have put together what we believe to be the definitive gear list for a pre-dawn hike up your chosen mountain.

If you are a trail runner then hitting a sunrise summit of your nearest fell will be an easier task. Speed is an asset when you are against the clock so taking advantage of your fitness and skills is definitely encouraged. For the rest of us, however, hiking is the best option. As such, planning for time is the most essential part of summiting before the sunrise.

Typically, I take into consideration the length of the footpath from base to summit, times that by my typical mile pace and add 20 minutes for safety. The more experienced you are the less added safety minutes you’ll need but if you are hiking on a new trail or you are inexperienced, don’t be afraid to add however much time you feel you will need.

As speed is important, weight should be taken into account too. You are not thru-hiking and it should be easy to pack light. Here is what I’ll typically bring along on my morning summits:

Essential clothing to wear:

Gear to use:

  • Headlamp (Black Diamond Uomo Cosmo)
  • Phone (useful for navigation as well as the inevitable selfie)
  • Hiking Poles
  • Storage:
  • Trail running vest (Salomon S/Lab Sense Ultra 5 – great for storing everything)
  • 2 x 1-litre water bottles. Typically we’ll just reuse Smart Water bottles because they fit snug in the Salomon vest).

Nutrition to take:

  • 2 litres of water (typically for a walk under five miles)
  • 2 Cliff bars (around 510 calories total)

If you have any additional gear that you like to bring along for catching the sunrise atop your local mountains that you think we have missed, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

How Not to Run (When Recovering From an Injury)

Cross train

Cross training is a good way of avoiding the crushing guilt that coincides with a sudden break from your running routine. Swimming, cycling and walking are all low impact cardio exercises which can maintain your fitness whilst you are out of commission.

Anecdotally, cross-training is an exercise improves running times. Whether it maintains your running ability or even improves it, it is healthy to keep a relatively active routine whilst nursing your injury.

Strength exercises

Alongside your cross training, take the extra time to strengthen stabilising muscles and potentially alleviate any injury related pain you may have.

12 repetitions of sun salutation is a simple way to slip healing exercises into your day while recovering. If you are less acquainted with yoga routines check out Runner’s World’s recovery routine which walks you through their running specific exercises here.

Other exercises which will strengthen your legs and stave off injury for when you get back on the horse are slightly less exotic. Planks, squats, bird dogs, pistol squats, lunges, heel raises etc. are all effective and will be fundamental in keeping you running in the future.

Relax and recover

Put your feet up, read a book (I’d recommend Feet in the Clouds) or watch a documentary (The Barkley Marathons on Netflix, perhaps). Or, if you are like me, keep away from running movies as you might end up excitedly slipping your running shoes on prematurely. The point here is to simply… relax.

With the time that you might have spent running, don’t feel like you are wasting it lying down on the couch. If you are going to recover, you will need to rest and if you are going to rest you must relax. Put your feet up… preferably elevated above your head.

Finally…

Generally, a runner can take two weeks off from running before seeing their fitness deteriorate. After two weeks it will take the same amount of time training as time rested to achieve your previous running fitness.

Two weeks is a long time – take solace in that and tackle the above exercises casually (especially the Netflix and reading).

Trail running – Mountains Need Not Apply

Take living in London for example, the closest respectable hills to London are the Chilterns, an appropriately named area of docile green farmland which reaches up only 250 meters (875 ft) at its highest point. As a Londoner myself, I naturally stick to the trails immediately available to me in the city.

Yes, it is a far call from the dramatic mountain backdrops which dominate the sport’s online social media presence, but for many of us, it is all we know. In fact, running on flat trails offers a wholly underappreciated and underrepresented experience.

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Canals trails often link green spaces across cities.

Recent studies show that time in nature leads to better mental health. Anecdotally, I can vouch for my meandering runs through the flat terrain of South East England as being cathartic experiences.

Mentally, I gain a lot from running on the trails in my area which cannot be said for running on the roads. A forested section of trail along the river might not be as dramatic or photogenic as bombing down a slope in the San Juan Mountains but it offers a moment of calm and meditation which is valuable in and of itself.

Trail Running - Mountain Need Not Apply

Taken on the London Loop. A quiet trail running 150 miles around Greater London

In a time where 55% of the world’s population lives in cities with projections suggesting that the planets city-dwelling population will increase to 68% by 2050, remote mountain trails are simply out of the reach of many runners all over the world. Trail running in unexotic, urban and flat locations is often the only option for the average runner and urban trail running is, in my opinion, the next frontier for the sport.

Urban trail running might sound like an oxymoron, but our cities are increasingly tied together by green spaces. London is encircled by countryside (the “greenbelt”) and 17.8% of Greater London is public “open space”.

Furthermore, 19.3% of the Greater London area consists of important wildlife conservation sites. If you look hard enough, even in cities as urbanised and dense as London, you will find areas ripe for long training runs and even trail races.

As the world’s cities continue to grow the importance of green space is increasingly evident. Environmental benefits, mental health improvements and routes for alternative traffic (cycle paths for example) are just a handful of reasons why cities are beginning to focus on protecting and increasing their green space.

Runners should capitalise on the trails that they likely have access to in their city. Search for remote stretches of greenspace regardless of whether they offer mountain vistas and appreciate the respite from the busy, paved streets that encompass day to day life.

References:

https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html
https://www.gigl.org.uk/keyfigures/
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm

Urban Trails – The Thames Path, Reading

In the three years that I spent living in Reading, I never thought that the countryside was so close until I stumbled across the Thames Path. Initially, I was running on roads and mainly ran repeated loops of the University Campus in the dead of night – it was bleak to put it lightly. In a desperate search for running routes that didn’t entail repetitive loops alongside traffic, I started to explore the footpaths in and around town. I started mapping out all of the trails in and around town – one of my favourites being the Thames Path.

THE PATH ITSELF

Going eastbound from the town centre to Sonning on the path will gradually take you out into the countryside proper.

If you are familiar with the Reading Parkrun course you’ll recognise the first half of the route as it takes you through the riverside fields beside the Thames Valley Rowing Club. Once you leave the fields, the grassy track gives way to a more definite trail of dirt and stone for the rest of the way to Sonning.

Along the route, you will have a couple of opportunities to explore surrounding trails which branch off from the Thames Path. Just after the fields on the outskirts of Reading the Path borders a maze of well-kept and wooded systems of trail which loop around a handful of Ponds between the river and the Thames Valley Park office complex.

With the waning of summer, I find myself exploring the Thames Path far more before Autumn settles in. With Spring and autumn rain, the further along the path to Sonning the more the trail turns to a muddy slush. On bad days running the path is akin to trying to run on an ice rink. Bringing trail running shoes is recommended. In summer, however, you can take a casual stroll, ride or run along the path without having to don a pair of wellies.

If you’re not short for time you can enjoy a drink along the riverside at Coppa Club, a surprisingly trendy bar and restaurant. Or if a cosier, pub atmosphere is what you are after The Bull Inn further into the village offers a more traditional experience.

4 Unexpected Benefits of Running

Running is one of the most popular means of exercise for a reason. We all know that running can help you lose weight, increase your endurance and boost your general health but what other (and more obscure) benefits does being a runner entail?

LOWER RESTING HEART RATES

Every runner tries to hide their smile when complimented by the nurse for an “excellent” resting heart rate (RHR) but a lower RHR is not just a means of impressing medical professionals, it can have beneficial health implications too.

A healthy resting heart rate is an important factor in staving off heart disease. Studies show that just a 12-week moderate aerobic training plan can reduce your heart rate by around 3 beats per minute (BPM).

A healthy resting heart rate is considered to be within the 60 – 100 BPM range but one study found that someone with a resting heart rate above 84 BPM over the course of 5 years would be 55% more likely to die from heart disease than someone with a lower RHR.

BETTER SLEEP

Can you think of anyone who doesn’t enjoy sleep? No, me neither. We all love to sleep and most people probably do not think they get enough of it. Well, guess what? Running helps!

A 2010 study suggests that the more aerobic exercise one gets, the more sleep one can enjoy. Research into the relationship between aerobic exercise and sleeping hygiene found that a 16-week training plan led to improvements in sleep latency, sleep duration, daytime dysfunction, and sleep efficiency.

Further encouraging benefits this particular study uncovered involved fewer depressive symptoms and increased daytime energy levels.

MORE ENERGY IN THE DAY

Running gives you energy – this statement might be counterintuitive but hear me out.

Running certainly tires you out in the short term (as it should) but long-term benefits of consistent exercise mean that it is easier to wake up in the mornings and have enough fuel to get through a day of work without crashing before lunchtime.

Running is one of the most effective ways of increasing your cardiovascular health, building muscle and balancing your body fat composition – these benefits are all connected to increased energy and quality of life.

IT IS ACTUALLY ENJOYABLE

I think the most unexpected benefits that I have personally found running is that it is actually enjoyable. I would even go so far as to say that running is fun. Crazy, isn’t it?

I would bet that a considerable number of people believe running to be a boring means of exercise. I thought this too until I began to run faster times, longer workouts and worked on my form. Once I started improving, it became a game.

I do admit, sometimes running is definitely not fun, but more often than not it is hugely rewarding. If you don’t expect to like it, you might be pleasantly surprised.