In two weeks time I shall be heading back to the Pyrénées for a little escapade in the Haute Pyrénées. I managed to secure an entry into the Grand Raid Pyrénées - just the short version, a mere 80km. a clubmate of mine is tackling the 160km version. Both events start from Vieille Aure with mine summiting Pic du Midi roughly half way round. I hope to complete in about 18 hours : the winner takes under 10 hours and the limit is 26 hours.
The race website is here.
Here are a few video links of the race:
On April 1st I led my first walk for East Lancs LDWA and rather than lead an existing walk I provided them with a brand new walking route. It may have been new as a walking route but I based it on a running challenge route that my good friend John Coope devised many years ago and we christened Coope's Dozen in his honour. The run is about 17 miles taking in 12 summits on the West Pennine Moors. Last June I completed it with what on the day was called the "fast" group in about 4 hrs 50. From memory the record is about 2 hours 40 but that was by a guy who had won the Snowdonia Marathon twice. I modified the route to gain three miles to give a distance of 20 miles and did my final recce earlier in the week with temperatures in the 70s - record March temperatures were being recorded in some parts of the UK - taking 8 hours in the abnormal weather conditions. Seventeen turned up for the walk and for a first go that was fine - it meant we were able to keep to a decent pace, completing in about eight and a half hours, only 30 minutes longer than I'd taken on my own. The day was perfect, having cooled a little from Tuesday but offering a complete day full of outstanding views with almost unbroken sunshine. White Coppice CC was open for ice-creams etc : this went down very well and experienced walkers enjoyed venturing onto Egg Hillock and Old Adam for the first time in their lives.
Nearly two years have gone by. I've put the weight back on but although far from being overweight by BMI standards, I no longer have the fitness or speed I achieved during the summer of 2010. I need to have a focus. As my plan to become a full-time maths teacher didn't come to fruition I am at a bit of limbo as far as future employment. I'm not quite ready to retire but I don't really need to work full time. Working in education would have been a good compromise - you work hard during term time, 10 hour days being accepted as the norm once you include all the preparation but you do get the long summer holiday, ideal for a four or five week trek. So, until I know what my regular working schedule is, whether that is in some form of eduction e.g. learning mentor or TA, or back in the IT industry, or even something else (I have to be open to options), it's difficult to plan. I would like to do some of the GR5 - the complete length is out of the question so maybe from Strasbourg to Lake Geneva or from there to Nice. What is the complete length anyway? From Dunkerque or from Strasbourg? Next Saturday is the Haworth Hobble, 32 miles and near 5000 feet (1500m) of climb in the central Pennines. Although completing it many times, I wasn't sure whether I was fit enough to run it but a clubmate has persuaded me to run with her and if necessary walk some of it. My slowest time ever for the event was 8hrs 5 minutes, 20 years ago when the weather was atrocious. Hopefully we can beat that. The last time we paired up, also in the 90s, we finished in 5:42, my fastest time - no chance of beating that! Cross country this afternoon so I'll see how I go after completing 10 miles with 2300ft ascent on Winter Hill at 12 minutes per mile pace on Thursday. Below is a photo from the 92 Hobble with a pair of my training partners Ed and John (JtE) in front of the water rising over the reservoir wall.
Coverage of this year's Tour de France includes a couple of stages which go close to the GR10. Thursday's stage went through Bareges and Luz St. Saveur on the road which you can see while on the route. Today's stage of the Tour de France finishes at the Plateau de Beille - this was one of locations to die for on last year's walk - almost exactly a year ago when I was there (July 18th to be precise). Some photos below. The first one was the view from outside the bar/cafe. It had been a fairly early finish, about 3pm so just a wonderful place to relax in the sunshine. The place looks quite empty - it's normally a Nordic Ski centre so it's peak time will be January to April but I suspect it will be rather crowded tomorrow afternoon. ITV4 has live coverage from 2pm day (correction - it starts at 11am for this stage) and I guess the winner will finish at around 4.30 BST. If you miss it live, ITV4 has a highlights programme which goes out at 7pm BST andis available to watch anytime on ITV Player.
The book is finally complete - but no doubt I will pick up the occasional errors and correct them over the coming months.
The book is 167 pages (A4 size) and contains over 300 photographs. The file has a size of 82MB so please be patient when downloading. I can create a version with more compression of the photos if requested.
The best way is to right-click and download the file. It is password protected. If you have already made a donation to one of the two charities, please email me and I shall provide you with the password.
If you've yet to make a donation, the links are below.
I've just finished correcting the typos (that I've seen - no doubt there will be some that I've missed) and emailed Parts 3 and 4 to a limited distribution. If they've not spotted any errors in a week, I shall make it available to a wider audience.
At 167 pages with 318 photos, it's not exactly small.
I've now completed putting together part 1 (Pays Basque) and part 2 (Pyrenees Central - Arrens-Marsous to Bagnères de Luchon). I've sent Part 1 to a few selected people for a bit of feedback and will send out part 2 later today. With a bit of luck I may finish lining up all the photos and proofreading part 3 (Ariège) today and Part 4 (Pyrenees Orientales) during the week.
If you want me to send you a copy, please post up a comment.
I've now added over 300 photos (from the 900 I took) into an ebook of the walk. To reduce the filesize (but still keeping a reasonable quality level for the photos), I divided it into four parts, matching the four regions (Pays Basque, Pyrenees Centrale, Ariège amd Pyrenees Orientales) traversed by the GR10. I've proof-read and captioned the photos in the first part (Pays Basque) and sent it out to a few of my fellow walkers for feedback. I'll make it more widely available once I've incorporated any feedback. Meanwhile, I'll work through the rest over the next few days.