Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Buxton Adventure Festival Trail and Fell Running

A couple of weekends ago took me all the way to Buxton Adventure Festival for a weekend packed full of trail and fell running workshops and inspirational talks. With 'CavemanClarke' being a place to shout about everything great in the world of off-road running, this little gem certainly deserves a mention! 

The weekend started with a relaxed drive up Saturday morning in my beloved Bongo campervan. The plan was to have a gentle afternoon run, from the campsite where I was staying, to the Adventure Festival. The events I was travelling to see were all packed into a tight schedule for the Sunday. Upon arriving and tucking into some lunch, I changed into my running gear and headed off across the trails and into the town. Familiarising myself with where I needed to be the next day, I returned to the camper, cooked up an evening meal and relaxed with my copy of 'Run or Die' by Kilian Jornet to pass away the evening. Sunday morning came round and the weather was fantastic. Getting myself to the beautiful Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, I was ready for the first event of the day. 

David Taylor's Fell Running workshop in association with Trail Running Magazine:
Ever wondered what skills and tricks are required to be be a successful and competent fell runner? With many years of trail running experience I was still very excited to learn more about the less-documented world of crazy men and women who chose to run anywhere and everywhere, without marked trails and in the middle of the most remote areas of the UK! David Taylor, fell running guide, was there to give a group of us the low-down on what you need to know, and what you need to be able to do, to be a fell runner. 

Expecting a tall, quiet and gangly farmer, wearing nothing more than a very short pair of shorts and a brightly coloured club singlet, I am pleased to say Dave broke the mould with his trendy Inov-8 clothing and friendly, approachable character. The session started with a very comprehensive kit talk including clothing, footwear and backpacks before moving on to discussions about training and race nutrition and hydration. Training plans were discussed, as well as the importance of navigation and kit lists for races. Tips on reducing the weight of your kit were given as well as highlighting a few individual items of footwear and clothing that Dave personally recommended. 

Before we knew it we were heading up a steep slope for a guided fell run. With a variety of fitness levels and expertise at the event, Dave had planned a series of stops to learn techniques and take time to practise them. Up and downhill form, cadence and posture, speed, strength and agility were all discussed and instructed for everyone to work at their own ability. As soon as Dave thought we had no idea where we were, maps and compasses were produced and we were instructed to work out where we were and how to get to a given point of interest! I am happy to admit, signposts and route pre-planning on my Suunto GPS watch are more my current style of navigation, but this really highlighted my need to practise with a map more often.

Dave was a top-quality bloke! He considered the needs and abilities of everyone, and taught us some fantastic tips and tricks to becoming a better fell runner in a clear and fun setting. It was a pleasure meeting him! Dave is available for guided fell runs, navigation courses and running workshops. An experienced and accomplished fell and trail runner himself, Dave can teach you everything kit, shoes, nutrition, training and racing. For more information or to book a session with Dave, click here.

3 great inspirational running talks presented by Trail Running magazine:
The first of the back-to-back talks that Buxton Adventure Festival had lined up was by Charlie Ramsay, pioneer of the Charlie Ramsay Round. For those of you scratching your heads and wondering what exactly this is, it is where brave and adventurous dare-to-try runners decide to run 23 Munroe's, starting and finishing at Glen Coe Youth Hostel in the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis, in under 24 hours. Maybe a wee bit beyond my current abilities, fitness levels and route planning skills, I was in awe of just how much grit and determination a feat such as this takes. Charlie, with his natural charm and clear enthusiasm for this challenge was happy to tell tales of the original record he set, details and tips of how to train and plan for an event like this, and glad to be accompanied by women's record holder Nicky Spinks to add a further exciting edge to the talk.  Will I be trying it? Not quite yet, but never say never! To have a look at just what this entails, click here.

More on my current level and passion for discovering new and exciting places to run for fun (without the need to run for an entire day and night) was the second talk by husband and wife run buddies Sim and Jen Benson with a highly motivating talk about their new book 'Wild Running'. With a mutual love for running and a whole host of medals and achievements under their belt they set out on a journey to discover where the best places to run in the UK are, compiling a comprehensive book of 150 wild trail and fell runs to try for yourself. The lovely duo passionately shared the excitement of discovery by running, with the logistics of how to care for a family, earn money to pay the bills and travel all over the country to run. If you, like me, are wanting to discover new places to travel and run, Wild Running is a great place to start. To see for yourself just where the best wild places to run in the UK are, check out Wild Running by clicking here.

Finally, to finish off a jam-packed day of off-road running activities was an incredibly inspirational and emotional presentation by new Wainwrights record holder Steve Birkinshaw. Steve is a Cumbrian fell and trail runner who somehow managed to run 320 miles across 214 Lake District Peaks in 6 days and 13 hours. Amazing. Interviewed by Steve Chilton, author of the famous fell running book 'It's a Hill, Get Over It', Steve took us on a journey from the beginning of planning the challenge, to the emotional finish at Keswick Moot Hall. Running to raise money for two MS charities, Steve told us the motivation behind running this seemingly crazy adventure; "My sister has MS, I ran the Wainwrights to raise money for MS charities." Watching clips from the attempt, the sheer determination was clear to all. Bad blisters, extreme fatigue and sleep deprivation, bad weather and many tears of joy and sadness, this was a record that deserves our full attention. Steve raised over £12,000 for MS charities, and if you would like to find out more or make a donation yourself, check out his full story HERE.

Thank you Buxton Adventure Festival and Trail Running magazine for a fantastic line-up and a really enjoyable weekend of trail and fell running fun and banter. I thoroughly recommend next years event and wait eagerly to check out what will be on offer!

Happy running everyone,

With thanks to Buxton Adventure Festival and all their sponsors (including University of Derby, Heason Events, Rab, Trail Running magazine) for the event. Also, special thanks to Jen Benson from Wild Running and Jimmy Hyland ( for the great photography used on this post.

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