New Website…

I’ve not dropped of the end of the earth… Or got lost running on the North York Moors (well I did get lost, but I found my van eventually, that’s another story). I have been busy working on a new website for my blog, and I’ve finally finished moving my content from here to the new site…There is still some work to be done… but I wanted to invite you all across so you could see the new site, and update your bookmarks and RSS feeds, there is some new content there, and plenty more in the pipeline…

Head over to: www.reubentabner.com 

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 15.19.28I would love to know what you think of the new site… And thanks for reading TouchOfWinter…

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Haglöfs Open5 Series 2014

One of the most memorable races I did last year was part of the Haglöfs Open5 Series. A 5 hour mini adventure race, where you had to visit as many points (controls) as you can to collect points. The series is back for winter 2013/14 kicking off in Ilkley in October, well worth a look.

Entries open on 1st August the prices will be as they were last year. Five hours of running and mountain biking with some great locations across the country. Kicks off on the 1st weekend in October. Amazing prizes from Haglöfs and the competition will be tight.

The series is put together and run by www.openadventure.com

The Lakeland 50, a race report

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0270Sweat is pouring from me. The air is thick and sticky… My shirt clings to my skin, soaked, unable to absorb any more moisture… I try to shut my mind to the heat, that is slowly cooking me as I struggle to maintain my pace climbing out of Fusedale Valley. It’s like running in to the center of the earth, the further I go, the hotter it seems to get… I long to be on the fell tops, where it must be cooler… It can’t be hotter than here..!

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4452 Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4459Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4460It had all been going so well, a short four mile loop around Dalemain had seen us spread out nicely and the pace had seemed easy, even it the heat… I settled in to a steady rhythm, and before a moment had passed, I was through the first checkpoint at Howtown, a fist full of fig rolls in my hand as I headed towards hell…

Behind and as well as in front, hundreds of runners are strung out over the mountainside, all of us are heading towards Coniston, 40 miles away. We won’t all make it… We struggle on this climb, the first major one of the day, and it’s slowly picking us off…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0278Finally I stop climbing, the ground easies out, and I can breath again… I pick up speed and allow my legs to carry me forward… Haweswater eventually appears from behind High Kop, shimmering in the heat as I start to descend. The air thickens once again, sweat runs free from my brow… We run and then walk, before running again along the lake side… I flew this section when I reccied the course a few months back, today I struggle to maintain any pace, in the heat… I fill my bottle from streams, and drink hungrily, but the water isn’t satisfying, its warm, like that from a tap that just won’t run cold…  I try to eat a gel, forcing  it down, but it won’t go and I wash the stickiness from my fingers…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0260I’ve been running less than 4 hours and the wheels have fallen well and truly off… I’m melting slowly in the sun. I can’t seem to eat, and yet I know I must… I haul myself up from the ground where I’ve been sitting and drink TORQ Energy from my platy-pus, it’s sweet and warm in this heat, but it seems to do the trick, providing me with the kick I need…

Finally, the checkpoint at Mardale Head appears, I drink flat coke, hot soup and scoff cheese and pickle sarnies. It’s an oasis in the desert, I fill my face with “free” food, before shouting my thanks as I head towards Gatesgarth Pass. It’s steep and hot again, I know for many Gatesgarth is a demon waiting in hell, but for me, it’s been a target for most of the morning. I know when I’m at the top, the hard part is behind me. I’ve been looking forward to the climb.  I relish the steepness, knowing its the fastest way to the top. I bump into a friend and we chat about races and adventures past and planned as we fly up the hill, over taking as we go…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4462Reaching the top, I slow for a few moments to take in the view, looking down Longsleddale, before dropping like a stone down the rough concrete path which leads us to Sadgill and the next climb… It passes in a distant haze, as I fly above my body, like a helium ballon, looking down as the slow torture takes place…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4463I wake up collapsed on the road outside the Kentmere Checkpoint. A Strawberry and Blueberrie smoothy is in my hand and it tastes amazing… It’s finished at record speed and I instantly want another, but daren’t risk too much fruit… As it previous Checkpoints, my water bottle is filled without asking, five star service befitting the best restaurants… But I’m not hanging around to enjoy it too long… my watch beeps and It’s time to start running again… Only another 23 miles now, almost there…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4464 Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_4465The rain starts just as I approach Ambleside, I love running in the rain, and it increases the spring in my step, but I have to fight to keep it there. As I run through the streets, people stop and cheer, clapping and raising glasses in the beer gardens… I want to stop and absorb it all, but it pushes me forward, lifts my spirt as I search down the Checkpoint, a mug of hot soup awaits…

Time is flying now, the light is fading with the dark clouds as I run along Langdale. I stop only briefly at Chapel Stile, more soup to warm my gut and to stoke the fire. I resist the chimineas outside the gazebo and I run on, in to the evening glom. I find it very comforting and resist switching on my head torch straightaway. But as I climb up towards Blea Tarn, dusk finally turns to dark and the drizzle returns but I know the way…

The suffering of so long ago, is quickly forgotten as the rain washes away the pain. I eat a Rhubarb and Custard gel and remember the hard boiled sweets I used to love as child… they maybe explain the fillings in my mouth… The next checkpoint at Tilberthwaite is not far now, but it never seems to arrive… And then there in the distance I spy fairy lights… I arrive to find Christmas well underway. Presents under the tent consist of more flat coke, sweets and cookies… There’s a chair, but as the rain fills the roof with water it cascades down my back, forcing me back on my feet… We sing happy birthday for a runners who birthday it probably isn’t, then we sing it again for a runner, who’s birthday it is… I leave as We wish you a merry Christmas  fills the air…

Bazar… I’m in the Lake District, it’s July, it’s pouring with rain, it’s dark… We are sing Christmas Songs…

I set off up the steepest of steep steps, and the take the lower path, down to Crook Beck… but it’s dark, and you can’t see much, and its the wrong way… I turn back and find the right path. I see frogs in the beam of my torch, it’s good weather for frogs…

2 miles to go…

I fall in with a L100 runner for a few minutes as we pick our way over the fell top. The path is faint, and our lights are the only ones in the dark… As we round a corner, I see path dropping off all the way to Coniston, to the warmth, to the dry…

I hit the boost button on my SEO5 Head torch and focus the beam. The rest is muscle memory as I take my brain and put it in my pocket. Its wet, its dark, its downhill, its a roller coaster ride…

I’m grinning from ear to ear, as I fly, passing other runners in the dark, bouncing from rock to rock, feet only glancing. I’ve been dreaming about the for months… Ahead I see Rob and Amanda, who I’ve run with at various points of the day… We chat briefly, but now my legs are no longer mine… and they head towards Coniston…

The streets are quiet at this early hour, until I pass the Black Bull, and the clapping comes from nowhere, I stare into the dark and see two figures, I pass the garage, and there are people there, sheltering from the rain, cheering… I’m chocked…

The final left turn, the final downhill… There’s the gate, more people… The finish arch, the medal… the lights, the t-shirt, it’s all over… Really it’s only just begun…

50 miles: 12 Hours 53 Minutes…

Reuben_Tabner_Lakeland50_0307Powered by TORQ, Carried by Mammut, Light by LEDLenser, Inspired by Life…

Alpine Adventures…

Reuben_Tabner_Aiguille_du_Midi.jpgI’m back in Chamonix for a few days, to spend some more time running on these amazing alpine trails, this time with my girlfriend. The weather has been amazing… The views breath taking…

Reuben_Tabner_185700.jpgIt’s largely a relaxing holiday, taking time out, to drink coffee, watch the clouds, and read as much as enjoying the trails. Whilst here, I’m also making final adjustments to my kit for the Lakeland 50, which is now only 10 days away and moving my thinking forward to the UTMB – TDS which is also getting increasingly closer.

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Salomon City Trail

2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thThe Salomon City Trail visited Newcastle yesterday and I popped along to see what it was all about and to try a pair of the new Sense Mantra’s.

2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13th2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thThe City Trail events are basically an opportunity to try out a selection of Salomon’s running shoes for free on either 2km or 5 km pre-marked trails. At the Newcastle event this choice was between the Speedcross 3 which I already use, the XR Crossmax 2’s or the Sense Mantra’s. Along with the opportunity to test run some shoes, Salomon staff, were on hand to chat Trail Running, fit, and technologies of their shoes and clothing.

2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thI’ve wanted to try the Sense Mantra’s for a while. Designed as a lightweight high mileage training shoe for mid-foot strikers who want natural motion, protection and neutral cushioning, they tick plenty of boxes on paper. Pulling them on, and the fit was perfect, slightly roomer in the toe box than my Speedcross, but with the same foot wrapping fit of the forefoot.

2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thI set off for a rather hot, 5 km loop of the Town Moor, which offers a mix of pavement and hard packed grass paths. It was hot… 27 degrees by all accounts… The shoes felt really good from the go. Noticeably light on the feet, but with enough cushioning to take the edge of the hard pavement surface. 20 minutes later I reluctantly handed back the shoes, knowing they fill a hole between my Salomon Speedcross 3’s and Mammut MTR 201’s.

2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thI picked up a free pair of Salomon XA Sonic 2 Socks, which almost make turning up worth it in themselves, had a quick look at the brand new hyped up Salomon Fellraiser (the shoe I would really have liked to try) and headed home.2013 Salomon City Trail Newcastle July 13thThe Salomon City Trail is touring the UK this summer, with dates left in Leeds, Edinburgh and London.

Three Days in Haugsaurd…

Reuben_Tabner_Norway_7564Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd.I stop and stare at the view. The town of Haugsaurd is laid out below me. The North Sea glistens in the sun behind as ferry’s move back and forth, carrying day trippers, tourists and commuters. I trace trails, weaving between rocks, trees and bogs… This is. Going to be fun…

Reuben_Tabner_Norway_7552 Reuben_Tabner_Norway_7557I’ve come to Norway for the Ironman 70.3, too photographer, not to compete. But that was yesterday, and today I have a late flight from Stavanger, giving me the morning to play. Looking through guide books, there are so many options… So many things to see and do… I want to explore the hills, feel the ground beneath my feet… So I’ve come to Steinsfjellet – The Stone Mountain to run.

Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd. Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd.Trails wind everywhere and signposted routes are soon left, to follow impressions in the ground from bygone feet. Over worn rocks and grass, through peaty bogs, over stiles and past sheep with bells…

Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd. Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd. Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd.Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd.It feels so liberating running on unknown ground, hindered by neither map, compass or time… When I come to a junction I take the route which looks most interesting. I weave across this flat mountain in a crazy zig zagging manner. The sun beats down, as birds sing and insects chirp. I pass over bedrock, through heather, cotton grass, juniper and other alpine style flora.

Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd. Reuben_Tabner_0040Eventually, I know I must head for a ferry and my flight back to Newcastle, so I look for the telephone mast, below which my hire car is parked and pick a trail which looks right.

Trail running in Norway on Steinsfjellet (The Stone Mountain) above Haugsaurd.

4am Alarm…

A Trail Running Team Alpine Adventure Part Three:

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0698The alarms buzzed quietly at 4am. Tired Trail Runners, slipped out of their beds and silently dressed for another lazy day in the mountains. We crept from the dormitory, not wishing to wake the School children, despite their lack of care the previous evening…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0689 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0696It’s still dark outside as we gather in the gloom, it’s an opportunity to test our new LED Lenser Head Torches. That is why we have woken in the small hours, to run in the dark on this mountainside… We race up technical paths, and back down with our lights shining the way.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0714As the dark begins to fade and a hint of light touches the mountain tops, we turn back towards the refuge in time for breakfast. Cereal is served in bowls so small you can hardly fit in a spoon… Nutella is layered onto dry bread, strong coffee is swallowed. And then before the sun is fully up, we shoulder our backpacks and turn back down the mountain.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0734We race away from our refuge, weaving our way down through the trees, past waterfalls, and mountain streams… It’s our last day. A hint of sadness is in the air as we run back towards Chamonix.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0740 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0750Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0752-2We pass through villages and stop at the Pâtisserie to get a second breakfast and a hint of lunch… then continue, dropping down to run along the river bank for a while, before climbing again, back towards home.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0773 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0776 We pass the finish zone for a race, remembering that it’s Sunday. We find a panda and insist on a bewildered photo. Then we continue to climb into the clouds. There are no views for us today…

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0786 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0804 Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0822We reach the final top, and unilaterally decide on the cable car descent to save the knees for another day. It’s a quiet journey down as we reflect on what has been a fabulous few days. At the bottom, we run the final few hundred yards back to the cars. Alpine Adventures are at an end.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0806We say goodbye to Julia who has been a fabulous guide, showing us not only amazing trails, but also pointing out fauna and snippets of history along the way. After showers and with clean clothes we meet again for food, before saying goodbye to Chris, Lindley, Tim and Claire who had to catch flights home.

The final night in France seemed quiet, without the friendly team banter. I sat and reflected on the weekend… 105km with over 5,500 metres of climbing, through some of the most stunning scenery you can imagine, with the best Team possible.

Reuben_Tabner_Trail_Running_Team_0780I met some of the most inspirational people you can imagine in France, and for that I must thank our sponsors, TORQ Fitness for fuelling us through every one of those 105km, Mammut for shoes, clothes and backpacks, Compressport for calf guards, Tifosi for keeping the sun outta our eyes, LED Lenser for lighting the way at 4am, Roy Belchamber for running round like a mad man with a camera, Trail Running Magazine for giving us Claire to laugh at and with, as well as providing inspiration six times a year, and most importantly Simon and Julie of Freestak for pulling the whole thing together

I would also like to thank the entire Trail Running Team for making the best weekend possible, it’s been fun..!

It was raining when I woke up… And raining even more on the way to the airport…

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I did not cry…