One run that really got me inspired lately was Andy Jackson's Coast to Coast in 3 days, which culminated on my first day at Trail Running. I haven't met Andy but heard of his run through his other half Rachel, and his connections with Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA), and that's why it caught my imagination.
As a regular walker, (occasional!) trail runner and particularly now as a walking leader, my local fell and mountain rescue teams (MRT) have become a vitally important reassurance personally, and in planning to deal with emergencies when leading in the hills. Perhaps I should reiterate that this is a worst-case scenario reassurance, and never an alternative to good planning and incident prevention!
It just can't be stressed enough, over and over, that these people are highly skilled, highly trained, highly experienced, and 100% volunteers. Even team leaders like Andy who've dedicated not just years but decades of their life to the cause. In the Dales, our rescue teams have to deal not only with incidents on the hills (walkers, climbers, runners, cyclists, animals & more!), but under them - our limestone hills are riddled with miles of exciting caving routes. What many people might not also realise is the urban input of MRTs - at a major incident or large search, volunteer MRTs are often called in to help, working just as tirelessly as paid Police and other services, yet with perhaps with the most specialist search and rescue techniques. MRT teams throughout the country are, of course, pretty close to my heart as far as charities go.
So it's seriously impressive that somebody who clearly already gives so much for his team was willing to take it one, pretty extreme, step further. To raise funds towards UWFRA's much-needed extension to their Grassington base, Andy decided, following a series of successful ultra races including the Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc, to up his mileage in a more personal challenge. Alfred Wainwright's famous Coast to Coast route is around 190 miles long and walkers should allow around two weeks to complete it. Or, you could just run it in three days with around 3 hours' sleep per night!
Following the live tracker and Rachel's Facebook updates after a day spent researching and reading about various other ultra challenges, and consequently with the armchair ultrarunning fascination running pretty high, it was pretty exciting to see he'd successfully completed a mission I can't even begin to comprehend. It wasn't easy on the support team either and their achievement should be noted too!
How does it feel to run 190 miles in three days? Well, for that I'll have to hand over to Andy, warts and all: visit Andy Jackson's Running Blog
If you're feeling the MRT love though, for whatever reason, or you've just read Andy's write up and feel it's worth a bob or three, please follow this link to donate to Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association:
Andy's JustGiving page
Alternatively, if you fancy a challenge yourself, why not try UWFRA's Wharfedale Three Peaks Challenge on 28th June?!
Dales Rescue Teams
Of course UWFRA isn't the only rescue team out there in the Dales - click the following links for more information on our amazing teams, all of which require our support:
Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team
Cave Rescue Association
Yorkshire Air Ambulance
Mountain Rescue England & Wales
More crazy runners
If, like me, you find all this long-distance running stuff a bit intriguing and/or inspiring, here's a few more blogs to check out: some well-known runners and some just ordinary guys and gals :)
Steve Birkinshaw - crazy, crazy attempt to run all 214 Wainwright peaks in the Lake District in 7 days, this is what I spent my first afternoon on Trail Running researching!
Janson's Bob Graham Round - a fellow 'Rocktart Runner' on his journey towards the iconic Bob Graham Round - a week to go as I type and I'm looking forward to following the adventure! Go Jans!
Lizzy Hawker - the name that introduced me to the concept of ultrarunning when I saw her win a 24-hour challenge on telly a couple of years back, not long after her UTMB success. I began working at a women's sports shop shortly afterwards but none of the ambassadors they chose came close to seeing Lizzy wipe the floor with the fellas she beat by miles that day. Guess trail running was just too muddy for that particular brand.
Scott Jurek - possibly one of THE most famous ultrarunners in the world. News came in while I was at Trail Running that he was in the UK and looking at the Bob Graham. Bouncing with excitement for editor Claire when she got to go and run with the legend himself!! As for the BGR? I believe the verdict was 'Even tougher than Hardrock!'
And for even more inspiration, give Trail Running Magazine a try :)