Category Archives: Racing

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


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…

UTMB – TDS 90 Day’s to Go

It’s just under three months until the UTMB race series gets underway in Chamonix, kicking off with the TDS – Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie. This race starts in the center of Courmayeur in Italy on Wednesday 28th August at 7:00am and runners have a maximum of 33 hours to complete the 119km to Chamonix.

“A race in open country along the ‘Grande Randonnée’ paths crossing though the Mont-Blanc, Beaufort, Tarentaise and Aosta valley countryside.”

Carte-TDS_coureurs-2013An estimated 1500 runners are expected to line up for the start and I will be amongst them.

With the Lakeland 50 coming the month before at the end of July I have had little chance to think about the TDS, however my thoughts are starting to turn to this race and how I can best prepare for the altitude, the logistics and race day.

I’m heading out to France to run the CCC route in a couple of weeks with the TORQ Trail Running Team, which hopefully will give me some idea of the terrain and the geography of the area. Both the Lakeland 50 and the TDS are my A’ races for the year, so I will be speaking to the guys at TORQ Fitness to ensure that I can recover sufficiently  and maintain fitness between the races and head out to Italy best prepared.images

The Red Bull Steeplechase Returns…

RedBull Steeplechase 2013Last year I took part in the inaugural Red Bull Steeple Chase, a race that promised to be different, that promised to defeat the majority of those who stepped up to take part. It was proved right on both counts. It turned out to be the most fun race I have ever taken part in, it ripped me apart and spat me out the other side a broken man… I vowed to be back…

Start Line CastletonSo when an email popped into my inbox with the following, grabbing my attention, I was sold before I had even finished my morning coffee….


Last year you were one of the brave few to take part in Red Bull’s great British Steeplechase. Well the time has come to dig deep once more and sign yourself up for another epic running adventure.”

Once again the race is sold promising to take us to new heights in our running and endeavour, over hills and dales, through streams and thickets. On a course designed to challenge the hardiest of runners. I have to admit it, I’m looking forward to the challenge… I can’t wait…!

You can read last years tail here… Red Bull Steeplechase 2012 and if you think you are up to the challenge enter the race yourself… Steeplechase 2013

Friday Stoke: MONTANE® Lakeland 100

I have two main aims for summer 2013. To compete in the Lakeland 50 at the end of July and then the UTMB-TDS at the end of August. The first is part of the Lakeland 100, which is sponsored by Montane. They have made a short video to explain what its all about… See you there..?

Lakeland 50 Recce – Ambleside to Coniston

You know its going to be a good day, when it starts with scraping a half inch of ice from the inside of the van windscreen… The alarm buzzing at 6:30am is nothing unusual, but with the clocks change, is a little more brutal this morning. I struggle out of bed and change into my running kit… spoon in porridge and golden syrup and head to Ambleside. Today is a short recce run of the last section of the Lakeland 100/50 course, Ambleside to Coniston about 16 miles all in. It’s my first official recce of the course, and I’m not quite sure what to expect.


I arrive outside Lakes Runner to find about 60 other runners ready for the days run.


We set off at a collectively quick pace through Ambleside, trying to warm up in the frosty morning air. The town is quiet apart from our quick footsteps, but its not long before we turn uphill and slow to a quick walk, our lungs sucking in the cold air.


Our breath is taken away by the stunning views as we climb up round the side of Loughrigg Fell and views over the Fells open out in front of us. The climbing has warmed cold limbs and runners are pulling jackets off and stuffing them in to packs… It’s hot running in the sun, but still we are breathing, cold crisp air.



Soon we are back on the valley floor, running quickly up through Great Langdale, dominated by views of the Langdale Pikes. Lost in a world of dreams and wonderment at the incredible views, I’m taken by surprise to find myself at Chapel Stile the first of todays checkpoints.

Reuben_Tabner_2996On race day, we are told there will be a large marquee here, but today its a car and a table of juice. I grab some flapjack and continue moving, still lost in mountain dreams.


As the path winds up hill we encounter patches of snow. The ground is still mostly frozen, but a miss placed foot will break through the frozen crust in to wet moss below, waking you quickly to avoid freezing the next foot the same way.

Reuben_Tabner_3003I’m still lost in the views, no longer even aware that I’m running, climbing or descending…



We cross Bleamoss, trying to stick to the higher ground to avoid the worst of the semi-frozen bog. A unmanned check point will be here in July, but I’m confused for a moment as the gate should be on the other side of a road… There is no road..! I turn down hill, still confused, running on snow, my feet brushing the capping stones of a dry stone wall. As I stubble down a drift side, I suddenly find the missing road, buried… will this snow still be here in July..?

Reuben_Tabner_3015We continue on down the road, through Tilberthwaite Farm and to the second checkpoint. I grab some water, a chunk of ginger bread and keep going.


We are greeted by a set of steep steps and a tough final climb up past a deep ravine. A snow slope needs crossing before a small scramble through a mini gulley needs all hands and feet.



Finally the climbing is behind us, and its a long steep decent down in to Coniston and a short jog to the final check point and what will be the Lakeland 50 and 100 finish.Reuben_Tabner_3026

It’s been good to run this final stage and think how I will feel after the full 50 miles in July. Will the snow still be there? Or will it be the hottest July on record? My legs won’t feel as fresh as they do finishing today, but hopefully they will still be running!


After topping up on water and eating a handful of jelly babies, I join the Delamere Spartans for what they promise is a slow run back to Ambleside along the Cumbria Way… I was fooled! It was anything but slow..! But the Tea and cakes tasted so much better sat in Bilbo’s Cafe..!


Thanks to the Lakeland 100 crew for organising a brilliant day of running, perfect weather and the challenge of the odd snow drift. Thanks also to the Delamere Spartans for the added 10 miles back to Ambleside!

Torq Trail Running Team

Back before I can remember, I applied for a place on the new concept Torq Trail Running Team. A professional team, with a big difference – it will be made up of amateur runners who live to run on trails.


Well, for the past two months I’ve sat and waited, fingers crossed… and today, an email arrived… Confirming that I have been invited to an assessment day next month. If I pass at the selection day, I get to join Torq Fitness on their newly formed Trail Runners Team. I’ve got to say, I’m stunned and excited, 2013 is already kicking of to be a fantastic year, and now this..!

Successful applicants will receive all the benefits of being part of a professional team, including :

  • A nutritional assessment and nutrition products from TORQ Fitness
  • Team-branded kit for training and racing
  • A three day training and preparation trip running in the Alps on the UTMB course around Chamonix
  • Appearances in features in Trail Running Magazine
  • Support and advice throughout the season

What better preparation could there be for the Lakeland 50 and UTMB – TDS..?