The Berghaus Trail Team weekend

Probably best to get this written down before I forget quite how much awesome stuff happened at the Berghaus Trail Team selection weekend in the Lake District.

After missing last year’s selection day I was well pleased to be invited back once again this year and even if I make it no further I’ve had a fantastic weekend thanks to Berghaus and the Freestak folks.

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Top of Helvellyn via the terrifying striding edge at #trailteam2014 #trailrunning #jyrun

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Talks – Product & social from Berghaus

The selection day itself on Saturday flew by in the end and we had a good chance to meet the fellow runners who’d been invited and much of the day was filled with some really good talks from Berghaus about how they’re working with their pro athletes like the Gatta’s to develop some insane performance gear like their new VapourLite Hyper smock which looks amazing in the flesh for a fully waterproof top. How it can be so light and protective is nothing short of witchcraft.

Certainly there was a product element of the talk but by no means overbearing and some of process they go through with their pros to create the kit is genuinely interesting and they also look like they’ve got a great blogger outreach program for “normal” folks who enjoy running so I’ll be in touch for sure.

Nutrition from Torq

I really enjoyed Ben’s talk and I’d be willing to bet that I wasn’t the only one who had a lot of lightbulb moments as he went over the science of nutrition and how certain foods do certain things to the stomach while racing and I pieced together a few times where my guts went south in a race and I then remembered what I’d eaten earlier and it all twigged. Really interesting stuff.

Again, obviously product led a bit but happy to finally also get to try and take home some gels and bars that do actually taste like they’re supposed to. One bit of instant feedback for Torq that I found when trying one on the afternoon run was I thought the gel packaging didn’t need to be a thick/heavy duty.

Inspiration – Steve Birkinshaw & Helene Witaker

Two of Berghaus’s sponsored pro’s and massively experienced fell running legends shared some of their backgrounds and in Steve’s case, his summer plans for a mind blowing project to summit all the Wainwright summits in one go (that’s 511km and 36km of ascent – IN ONE GO).

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Steve Birkinshaw talking us through his massive Wainwright's challenge plans #trailteam2014

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Just seeing the map he’s got for planning pinned to the wall was overwhelming. He recently won the 220 mile Dragon’s Back race  and is an incredible athlete so I can’t wait to see how this challenge goes!

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Steve Birkinshaw talking us through his massive Wainwright's challenge plans #trailteam2014

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Both their backgrounds and experiences are fascinating and the way they both combine such a high level of sporting prowess while also having jobs and family commitments is great because it shows us more human runners what is possible with great effort.

Afternoon runs

It was great getting out for a big group run from the hostel up to Red Tarn and back. I’ve never done any Lakes or mountain running but I love hill running around my trails here but this was my first experience of running here and everything is massive! Incredible scenery and even a nice easy social run was warming up the legs for sure.

The descent back was great fun, while I do enjoy the brutal nature of hill climbing, I love flying down technical terrain just as much. I’ve made a lot of effort to learn about good technique over the last year or so and it’s always nice to compare yourself to others.

That pretty much wrapped up the official day and honestly, I’m none the wiser on the exact criteria for selection of the final team as I thought there might perhaps be a couple of minutes with each candidate just to have a chat but frankly I don’t mind either way. My weekend was superb fun and just firmed up my love for running in the hills a little more.

A cheeky second run

As an additional treat, following the wrapping up of the official day, both Steve and Helene went back out for another run and while I planned on joining Steve’s group the pace they went off at left me thinking that while I could keep up with a decent effort level, I was in the lakes and wanted to enjoy the scenery a little more and it was a great choice to hike and run with Helene and Kirstie.

Basically Kirstie and I got a personal guide in the form of Helene Whitaker! 

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Weekend highlight, a trip up the fells with uber legend Helene Whitaker! #trailteam2014 #trailrunning #jyrun

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Sunday running

Those who were able to stay overnight were treated to a few options for a sunday run – a couple of 2 hour choices with Helene and Jon (her husband who is also a very accomplished fell runner) and I opted to go off with the 2 hour group led by Jon and we ran up to Red Tarn once again but then carried on up to Swirral Edge (utterly terrifying!) and onto the top of Helvellyn.

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Swirral Edge up to Helvellyn. Pic via @mountainzac #trailteam2014 #trailrunning

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Once up there though, the views were amazing!

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Running in the Lake district around Helvellyn, tough climbing, epic downhills, amazing views. #trailteam2014 #trailrunning

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We then carried on back over several more peaks and winding our way down in time for lunch. It’s easy to see how a short-ish run could extend to a full day out just bagging the next peak and the next peak and so on. It’s addictive and once you’re up on a ridge, it’s nice running.

Thanks to the Freestak team for putting on such an excellent weekend and for letting me be part of it, thanks to Berghaus, Torq, Steve, Helene and Jon for being great guides and inspirations and it was great to meet so many like minded folks and of course thanks to Amanda for driving us both us up from Huddersfield!

Also thanks to the weather – that was awesome.