Tenerife, again

In the context of a week’s family holiday to Tenerife, 12 hours of riding my bike plus a half marathon isn’t bad going. The fact that while you’re riding a bike in Tenerife you’re spending the vast majority of your time grovelling uphill and that some of the grovelling is at a high enough altitude so that it hurts a lot more, it’s perhaps 12 hours that would be equal to a few more hours than 12 in the UK. Perhaps.

Regardless of how much fitness Tenerife can kick out of you, the weather, the views and the varied and often breathtaking surroundings make the whole island one of  my favourite places on earth.


far, far from the beach

The half marathon Debbie and I did was a little bit larger than I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a rather small, grass-roots type of thing in a small village on the coast. When we arrived and saw the hundreds of runners, huge start/finish gantry, grandstands, live music and TV cameras I knew we were taking part in something rather large.


It was a brilliant event. Two laps of a hilly course (typical of Tenerife) along closed roads, water stations every couple of kilometres and lovely weather, if a bit on the warm side for Northern Englanders. I reached the finish line in 1 hour 36, Debbie crossed the line 20 or so minutes later.

I spent the rest of the week riding up and down the mountain while gradually shaking off a thigh injury picked up in the half marathon. Sometimes up the main roads with easier gradients, sometimes up the unrelentingly-steep minor roads while being barked at by (and sometimes chased by) large and demonic farm dogs. Ok, the small West Highland terrier that gave chase wasn’t demonic but they’ve all got teeth…


I took a mountain bike (once it arrived as it somehow missed the flight that I was on) because I knew there was good (and dry!) off-road riding to be had, the only problem was I couldn’t find too much legal stuff that I was prepared to tackle on my own. I’m not a massive fan of falling off cliffs without someone to call the helicopter. What I did ride was good fun but there wasn’t loads of it – I’ll stick to the road bike in future I think. Or grow a pair 🙂

DSC_4640As well as the bike, I took some Craft cycling and running clothing that up until last week I’d not had the chance to wear. The Craft gear I’ve been wearing all winter is mainly windproof, rain-proof and thermal but the jerseys and shorts I took to Tenerife were somewhat thinner and lighter.

The ‘Move’ jersey I was wearing whilst toiling in 28 degrees centigrade are covered in mesh panels and are the next-best thing to wearing nothing at all. I’m not sure what the naked cycling laws are in the Canaries but I assume it’s not allowed….


I also took a whole box of Honey Stinger Waffles – I was starting my rides early therefore there was no chance of having breakfast before I set off so I took those to avoid the dreaded bonk two or three hours into a hard ride. They were ideal – not only do they taste good they kept my legs turning and they fit nicely in my pockets 😉

Time to start counting down the days to our next trip.

Fron Four fell race

Holidays are for relaxing, aren’t they? Not for doing loads of strenuous exercise. Just sitting down, doing very little…
Wrong! They’re for doing stuff in new places. Mad stuff. Big stuff. Stuff that makes you all puffed out, dirty and/or sweaty. That’s what holidays are for.

As a warm-up before the half marathon me and Deb are doing in Tenerife soon, I decided that while we were spending a nice weekend away in North Wales for Easter, a local fell race might be a good plan. I dragged my family and my mate Jamie (who’s a good runner but had never done a fell race in his life) the few miles down the road to the Fron Four fell race. It was only 8 or so miles, how hard could it be?


“just run up that”

Very hard as it turned out. In fact apart from the 3 Peaks Race I don’t think I’ve taken part in a fell race as hard as this one. The amount of pain and suffering in store for all 33 participants started to become clear as the race organiser pointed to the summit of the nearest mountain – Mynydd Mawr – and explained that we’d see that summit up close. Twice. The rest of the route was pretty bloody hilly as well, not to mention the rocks, slate and frankly ridiculous 45-degree hillside traverse that I thought was going to snap my right foot off.

85 minutes later it was all over. I’d finished in 13th place (7th vet), just behind the first-placed female who looked like she was still at school. I apologised to Jamie as he reached the finish line a few minutes later – the poor lad’s first experience of fell running was a proper baptism of fire but he was still smiling.

My description of the Fron Four race might sound like a moan and give you the impression that I didn’t enjoy it. On the contrary, I thought it was utterly brilliant and I’ll definitely do it again next year.

The incredibly tough course, the three pounds and fifty pence entry fee, the cuppa at the end and the usual warm welcome from all involved (that is as much a part of the fell running experience as the running itself) all combine to equal a brilliant way to spend a couple of hours on a spring afternoon. Fabulous stuff.