I'm going to be celebrating(?) 60 years of existance at the end of December so, in an effort to put a positive spin on it all, I plan to mark my 60th birthday by having successfully run up Pen-y-ghent for 60 consecutive days, starting on 30th October and ending on my birthday, 28th December. I'm not sure why exactly but its probably an age thing...
The summit of Pen-y-ghent, at 2,300 feet above sea level, is handily just 2.25 miles as the crow flies from my front door in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and is one of the famous 3 Peaks of Yorkshire, all looming majestically (and often ominously) over the south western corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park - see www.yorkshiredales.org.uk. .
A typical running loop for me up Pen-y-ghent from home is usually between 5 and 8 miles long with approximately 1,600 to 1,800 ft of ascent, depending which way I go. So, for my 60 days of running up there, some days I'll probably run longer routes (some days much longer) and others shorter. My shortest possible route option is probably 4.5 miles long but, given that that involves a supremely steep ascent and descent of the west face of Pen-y-ghent, its shortness doesn't make it the quickest. Anyhow I'm not really expecting the distance each day to be my biggest hurdle (famous last words) but I'm sure that the aggregate ascent, day in day out, will start to make itself felt in my stubbly little legs, especially my quads.
Aside from mangled quads then, undoubtedly my biggest problem will be the weather which can (and will) be a chuffing nightmare. From personal experience a slight breeze in the valley transforms into a howling hurricane hoolie on the top and, ditto, a gentle shower of rain down below is a monsoon like deluge at 2,300 feet.... that will come at me horizontally when its windy! Oh and the porridge thick hill fog will be 'great fun' too, especially when I'm headtorch running in the dark after work - which will be the case for at least 35 of the 60 runs.
I'm planning to have company occasionally though - the dogs Harry and Teasel will be running along with me most days and sometimes the lovely yet 'ard as nails, fell running and print making maestro Hester Cox (aka my beautiful wife) will be running too - see www.hester.cox.com. Other runners may join in from time to time.
I dreamt up this idea in the summer, while basking on a Corsican beach, and, at the time, it all sounded like a truly excellent idea... although to be fair Hester has always had her doubts. Let's just say I'm not nearly so sure about it all now, sat here in the kitchen on 30th October in my running togs, just about to kick the whole thing off!
The main reason for having a crack at this is because it seems (seemed?) like a grand, fun, handily local and unique challenge to undertake - certainly no-one else has done it (or even wanted to do it) as far as I can tell - and one, assuming I can actually 'nail the bastard', suitably worthy and apt for 'celebrating' my 60 adventurous years on earth.
At the same time it's also a great opportunity to raise funds for our local mountain and cave rescue - see www.cro.org.uk - who voluntarily and magnificently save lives above and below ground here in the Yorkshire Dales so, if you can afford it, please do make a small donation to such a worthy cause.
Oh and do have a flick through my pictures below, all taken at various stages of running up Pen-y-ghent last autumn and winter. They give a bit of flavour for the task in hand and a snap shot of some of the weather that will almost certainly be thrown at us.
Thank you very very much
Stolly 30th October 2016