Category Archives: Trips

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.

The Road to Fort William

Last week I made the long drive North to Fort William for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. It’s an event that attracts over 20,000 downhill fans to the sides of Aonach Mòr every year and one that I was again commissioned to photograph for a mountain bike magazine. It’s always one of my favourite events of the year, the crowds, the riding, the location, all add up to a week long buzz!2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Fort William June 9thSpending three days running up and down the sides of the mile long downhill track meant I didn’t get my long runs in. Although that being said, with 25kg of kit on my back and working 14 hour days probably makes for quite good ultra training.

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I took the Monday to recover a little with a short run on the way home and finally a wash fitting for a king!

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A full set of images can be found here… Fort William  Mountain Bike World Cup.

Into Mordor

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3396What a difference a day makes… I slid the van door open this morning expecting to be greeted by more rain, but instead it was a bright clear day… Ok the tops were still hidden in a blanket of clouds, but apart form that… It was enough to make me jump out of bed and put the coffee on…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3397The clouds had rolled in by the time coffee and porridge were finished, but it was still warm enough for just a base layer as I worked my way up hill. The plan for today was flexible, but either a long run or an even longer run… but I didn’t know I was heading to Mordor…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3399I crossed fields and streams, through gates showing the test of time, and up a path laid by generations before for me. Carved from the hill side, with blood, sweat and tears, turning my own into mere insignificance…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3411Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3417As I reach a view point, I’m brought to a stand still by the view below me. The valley drops away, turquoise lakes shimmer in the sun, light patches play the opposite hill sides… what more could you wish for…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3423 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3448Yet higher I climb, through gates on to a track, winding its way through the landscape… I’m absorbed in one foot in front of the other, blocking out my surroundings… but when I look up, my feet stop moving once again… carved through the hillsides, my path goes onwards… to another world…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3439 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3434It’s a world created by man before us. Some may regard the slate quarries as a blemish on the landscape, but they are a stunning monument to what we have achieved. I follow the path through them in awe… and when I reach the road, I turn around and go back for more. Climbing a series of inclines and staircases, exploring tunnels into the mountain, climbing ever higher on ancient steps and paths laid by hand. I stop watching the clock, I stop paying attention to the distance covered and just run free in this dream landscape…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3452 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3457Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3473Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3468Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3471Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3466 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3462Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3455Eventually I climb clear of Mordor and I’m alone once again with the hills… I continue up, climbing in to the cloud, before tucking into a small stone shelter to eat some flapjack…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3478And then it’s down a ridge, jumping from rock to rock, uphill and down again, as the cloud lifts to reveal more views below. I hear the sounds of a distant helicopter, settling in to a hover, I hope it’s a practice, not someone fallen or worse… It’s hidden in the mist, as I race again one foot in front of the other… passing a man and his dog, the wind behind me, not a care in the world.

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3501 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3484Bam..! I fly through the air, hitting the ground hard… For the first time ever, I trip over in the hills… I was enjoying the moment too much, misjudged the height of a rock and caught it with my toe… Blood seeps from my finger where I’ve grazed it on a rock, but worse my new Skins are ripped… At least nothing, except pride is broken so I continue past a little lake and I’m faced with a rather steep climb…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3502I look for the path, but all I see is scree… It must be there somewhere. And yes, there are the faint tell tail signs, but it is barely a path… Snaking straight up, no let up… I pass a group of walkers, complete with stares… I assume it’s the beard… wild in the wind… As before me lies the finish…

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Well, not quite… I eat Scottish Tablet, feeling the sugar hitting my veins, before I set off back down the way I have just climbed, running with the scree where I can, trying to find the path when I can’t… back round the lake and then follow the little stream all the way to the valley floor… Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3508The sun is back out and it’s getting warm, I drink from the water running next to my feet, fresh from the hillside, nothing tastes better. One more stile, and thats it, the final stretch is along the road, a minor inconvenience after a mind bending day…

Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3520 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3518 Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3516Reuben_Tabner_Running_Wales_3511Shower, pub, Steak Pie! Thank you!

(Sorry for all the photos in this one… got a bit carried away…)

Alone with man flu

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So I’m meant to be high up on a Welsh mountainside, breathing crisp clean air. Instead I’m bound to the confines of the hut, feeling rotten, out of puff and attracted to my sleeping bag… Something’s not right… It’s official, I have man flu. And I’m sitting it out in the stunning Llanberis valley, drinking tea and sucking throat lozansgers… I don’t do being ill… Especially during hill time…

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This morning I dragged myself up Elidir Fawr with the intention of continuing on to the Glyders, however after eating my sandwich I turned for home, leaving Katie and Tony to continue the walk. The views on the way down were stunning.

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Strathpuffer – Two weeks to go

In two weeks time, I will be somewhere in the far North of Scotland, it will be dark, no doubt I will be tired, cold and hungry. I will be 8 hours in to one of the toughest Mountain Bike Races on the planet. Theres another 16 hours until the finish line. I have one of the darkest and longest nights of my life in front of me.

On the 26th January, I will be just outside a wee town in Scotland called Strathpeffer, it’s 280 miles north of Newcastle. I’m journeying to this distant place, which sits further north than Moscow, for the legendary 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race, The Strathpuffer. The only 24 hour winter mountain bike race in the world. And if you have never ventured to the Scottish Highlands in winter, they can be fierce, wild and hostile. Over the last 7 years that the event has been running, the weather has thrown down everything from non-stop rain to heavy snow and ice, with temperatures well below zero. The only consistent thing has been the 17 hours of total darkness.

I must be mad…?

The Strathpuffer started in 2005 as a one off local race, but has developed into a national event with its legendary status. It follows the traditional 24 hour mountain bike format with laps of a 7 mile course. It starts at 10:00am on the Saturday morning and you must be on your last lap before 10:00am Sunday morning, finishing by 11:00am. You compete either as a team of four, a pair or solo.

So with two weeks to go, the hotels are booked, the dates in the diary are marked out in red ink and support crew have been briefed. Small packets keep arriving on the doormat, containing essential spares, brake pads, chains, mechs, gear cables and sprockets. An assortment of parts, which hopefully won’t be needed, but most likely will. Warm riding clothes are heaped up in the corner, washed waiting to be covered in mud, snow or whatever the weather will throw at us. Slowly as each day brings it closer, an obsession with the long-range forecast is developing… I’m trying to put off buying expensive ice spikes, but no doubt if I don’t I will need them.

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My spare bike, has been built, test ridden and is just needing minor adjustments. The remaining days have been broken down for testing, riding, and cleaning bikes, kit, body and van.

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Oh, did I say I was riding solo? Or that this is my first ever 24 hour event…?

I must be mad, but there’s no backing out now.

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Beach Bivy Trip

There are fewer simpler ways of camping than the humble bivy bag, and nothing is better than sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sound of the surf. So this weekend we headed North of Newcastle, to a small coastal village. A pub supper eased down with half a dozen of the counties finest ales and we headed to the beach. The air was surprisingly warm for March, and not a cloud in the sky.

Getting ready to settle down for the night…

Half way through the night, I woke to the dreaded bivy sound, the pitter-patter of rain. There’s not much you can do, but hunka down and try to stay dry….

The third ghost

We woke to the sound of the sea….

You can’t beat waking up on the beach…

As we packed up, to walk back to the car, a cafe and hot fresh coffee, it started to snow. Lightly at first, but soon it was all white…

It’s all going white…