Sunday, 21 February 2010

3-Hour Snowy Run Along the Malvern Hills

Location: The Malvern Hills, Worcestershire, UK
Date: 21st February

Workout: long, easy hill run along the chain of hills and back.

Total Time: 2 hours, 57 minutes

Post Workout Nutrition: this fat-fest two hours later.

We'd had a couple of inches of snow the night before. I went out first thing in my Vibrams to take the rubbish out and when I got back it struck me just how much my footprints appeared to be those of a barefooted person!

We went to the Malverns for a long, easy, persistence hunt-like outing. The plan was to run along the chain of hills and then back.

The weather was mixed - sunshine on the plains, but with the hills shrouded in clouds from about 200m upwards. Starting at the northern-most tip of the chain of hills, we tackled the early, steep climb through the forest.

...and soon gained enough height to become cloud-bound. The snow also became thicker on the higher ground where drifts had developed.

When we hit the Worcestershire Beacon (the highest spot at 400m) it was still pretty cloudy:

...but there were periodic promises of appearance from the sun, and sure enough after 10 minutes there was a clearance, revealing the remaining hills in the chain.

Along the way I took a shot of some bushes to give an idea of just how much snow was on the ground:

On the other side of the Beacon we encountered our prey. It didn't seem overly concerned about our presence, persistence or even existence, so we left it to graze while we tackled the rest of the chain ;-)

Then we tackled another hill....

...then another....

...and another...

...before finally ending up at the other end of the chain, with a great view back at the ground we'd covered:

By now the weather had really cleared nicely, allowing some scenic shots from the top of that final hill:

A quick double espresso in the local pub...

...before enjoying blazing sunshine and great views on the way back, so much so that Lightning was able to strip to his vest and air his biceps for the second Beacon photo...

The knee gave me no trouble and although I did slip a couple of times I was able to either tumble shoulder first into deep snow or commando roll to avoid bending it too much. I think I still have to be careful. My physio admonished me recently when I 'fessed up to the recent long fell race when I fell on the knee, and told me I was lucky not to have re-aggravated the cartilage.

The Vibram Five Finger Flow Treks continue to impress, albeit, as I say, that I slipped a few times. As I've mentioned before, I think I have to accept that if I want to go pseudo-barefoot then I cannot demand the same levels of grip afforded by fell running shoes. Nevertheless, Lightning is closely monitoring this segment of the shoe market, and informs me there is a convergence taking place, with Innov8, a leading fell shoe manufacturer, looking to release a minimal shoe soon, and Vibram releasing more mainstream models in the coming year.

GPS Tracking: Lightning and I both use GPS tracking via our mobile phones when we run.... but we are struggling to find solutions that really do the job. It would have been great to be able to show a speed an altitude graph corresponding to the hills of the chain and the pause for the coffee - but alas my device threw a fit when we got back and lost all the data; and Lightning's provider, whilst reliable on the phone, has such crap software that the outputs on the web are barely worth showing. We will keep working on it.


Lightning said...

Yea,that was good fun.I think we could push a bit further next time.maybe go for two hours out and back.Good photos,I think I'll pinch a couple.

Methuselah said...

Yeah - maybe an espresso on the way past in both directions ;-)

Asclepius said...

Nice action guys! I was hoping to see a shredded sheep carcass in the final shot of the sequence!


Methuselah said...

Asclepius - but I did have lamb last night - does that count?

Chris said...

Great photos. You had a good day out!

I was in the hills Saturday too, but it was a bit more gentle!

Methuselah said...

Great photos Chris - some REAL mountains! Hope your back's on the mend.