Free gear and TV fame!

A few days ago I had an email forwarded from my running club inviting me to be an extra in the filming of an ad for a local business. The New Balance running shoe factory at Flimby, West Cumbria, is right on the coast, with great views to Scotland in good weather. When the weather is more inclement, on the other hand, the factory is exposed to icy blasts coming off the sea. A few miles inland there was snow so I suppose the only reason we had rain rather than snow was the salt in the local microclimate.

Looking over the Solway to Scotland

We assembled in the staff canteen which, after several hours with 100 or so people crowded in there, developed an interesting aromatic fug.

In the canteen - for many hours, ironically without food!

There was plenty of time to chat because we arrived for 9 am and did not actually do any filming for nearly three hours. To my surprise, although there were some local runners present, a lot of people were neither local nor runners. However, they all looked the part once kitted out. We had been told to turn up in running clothes without logos – a much harder task than first appears: how many items of “gear” do we own that don’t have a logo? Not many! Since we were all given New Balance gear this turned out not to matter. I was attired in a singlet (purple – hurrah!) and compression capris (don’t leave much to the imagination :(, but surprisingly comfortable once I got used to them ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and new trainers, when I was one of ten chosen to go outside to run up and down a stretch of grass being filmed. It was f****ing freezing and by the time we had done this half a dozen times my hands were totally numb. I was very glad to get back into the factory.

Hardly anyone was at work today - I was told that they can choose their own hours on a Friday

Initially I had been given some purple and white trainers and as you can imagine was very pleased – until I discovered they did not fit, and they were replaced with ORANGE ones ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ™

Orange shoes - not my first choice of colour ๐Ÿ™

Before long I was extremely happy they were orange: some time was spent with one group running from the outdoors into the factory, and the other group running from the factory out to the yard. Between takes we had to hang about at our respective starting points, and very fortunately the orange-shoed group were the group who started indoors – result! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

We were all starving and thirsty by this time – it was after 2pm – and finally we were fed, plenty of buffet and cake and surprisingly good coffee. Then it was a change into different gear, in my case a long sleeved fluoro pink top (I “acquired” a jacket too but it was so big I gave it to Andy – a friend from my running club and not the Andy who usually appears in this blog) and back outside where, although frozen to the bone again I was at least sprinting backwards and forwards. Twenty unlucky people had to stand still in a line and watch the rest of us – as some of these were attired in as little as short shorts and singlets, I am astonished that none of them was overcome by hypothermia.

Back inside again and by now it was 4.30 pm. We had been told that the session would finish between 3 and 4 pm so there was a bit of muttering in the ranks when an announcement was made that we would be required for another 50 minutes. Andy and I were a bit loath to leave before getting paid, but when it was announced that the media company’s cheque book had been “forgotten”, and we would have to email invoices to the office, we suddenly remembered that we had children to collect and could not stay any longer. (Well, Andy has three children so I reckoned I could borrow one temporarily for this purpose.)

It was almost dark by the time we left!

From the factory car park at 4.45 pm

It was a novel way of spending a Friday. Even if we don’t get paid (and this has happened to me in the past when a film company went bust) at least we have lots of unexpected free gear. Oh, and of course a moment of fame. I was briefly on BBC Look North this evening, being interviewed on the strength of my being both local and a runner. Sadly I failed to take the opportunity of plugging my running club. The ad will be out in March I understand – blink and you’ll probably miss me!


Having been banned from tarmac I have to make a bit more effort to go out for exercise as running from home invariably starts with road running. Swimming (breaststroke is SOOOOO boring, but has been prescribed) and cycling (static bike is bearable if I can get the one right in front of the gym TV) have featured frequently for the last week or so thanks to my new gym membership (special offer 6 weeks for ยฃ49). Outdoors I have been a bit careful what I get up to.

During the first fine, frosty weekend of the year Sarah and I went orienteering near Buttermere. We crunched through icy puddles along the side of Crummock Water and up into Mosedale.

Sarah enjoys the sun in Mosedale

The sun in the dale kept us nice and warm whilst on the move, but this did not last.

Looking back eastwards

The water that drains into Black Beck and Scale Beck filled the bog at the bottom of the vale and each step took us through the crusty frost into icy cold ankle deep water – lovely!

Freezing feet!

Haertened by still being able to walk after this outing I decided to try the inaugural Crosby Commoner (a new fell race of a little over 10 kms) this weekend and, in spite of dark clouds and the usual damp conditions, persuaded Sarah to partake as well. There was a decent turnout of what we estimated to be about 60.

During the week I had treated myself to new fell shoes because I was a bit tired of sliding around in the mud in trail shoes.

New shoes: the " before" photo

Sadly we were not accompanied by any supporters or coat-holders so there are NO photos (I’m sure there will be official ones on the web somewhere). The course wasn’t too hilly but one could tell it was the start of the year and I could definitely tell that I have had to cut back on training lately. It was also quite hard work because about 90% of the route involved fighting a strong headwind – rather trying to say the least. Still, I staggered round and, much to my joy, I did not totally seize up afterwards. Back at Sarah’s I was able to get out of the car unassisted and am not walking like John Wayne ๐Ÿ™‚

Happily, although this was the first time I had worn my new shoes, they were perfect and no hint of a blister or hot spot developed: 10/10

New shoes: the "after" photo


We got up a little late today; the after affects of yesterday’s wedding party!

After much guidebook scanning the short approach walk of Yorkshire Limestone was selected. Plus, not having a long mountain approach meant we could take a decent camera to get some good pictures of the Salomon Elios 2 GoreTex approach shoes I got to review this week from Fitness Footwear. As usual the delivery was ultra fast, arriving the day after they were ordered! ๐Ÿ˜Ž The colour scheme suggests a woodland theme – Swamp, Thyme and Wood Beige.

They have lots of features

  • Waterproof oiled nubuck leather
  • Mesh sandwich
  • Molded EVA Midsole
  • GORE-TEXยฎ Extended Comfort Footwear membrane
  • Gusseted tongue
  • Anatomical EVA footbed sockliner
  • Protective rubber heel cap
  • Protective leather toe cap
  • Heel foam upper construction
  • Waterproof bootie construction
  • Contagripยฎ Outsole
  • 3D Fit Padding

One of these features I’m bit worried about is the leather toe cap. Approach shoes get a hammering from the rock and I’m worried that the toe area might get holed quickly. Perhaps they might be better described as Salomon trainers? There is no sewn-in loop behind the heal for carrying them on your harness for walking down after a rock climb, so that also supports the “trainer” definition. However, having said all of that they do function great as approach shoes…

Duh; Approach Shoes silly!

It’s been raining solidly over the past week, and thanks to the Gore-Tex they kept my feet nice and dry walking in to the crag over the saturated ground. ๐Ÿ™‚ Something that Laetitia didn’t benefit from, unfortunately she had wet feet by the time we got to the cliff base. ๐Ÿ™

After all the shoe testing, it was time to climb…

Excellent fingery climbing up the bold start of Ohm's Law (E2)
Crummackdale is beautifully situated looking across to Ingleborough

We finished on Definite Trods Revived. Laetitia had a fright at the crux though… Exactly when she didn’t need it I screamed (a manly exclamation) – I’d felt a cold slither across my ankle! I glanced down and saw a light brown snake1 sliding across my new shoes and ankle! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I “exclaimed”, panicked, and kicked my foot out wildly! Both shoe (which was unlaced) and snake flew off down the grassy slope beneath the cliff! ๐Ÿ˜ณ A few minutes later after my heart had stopped pounding madly Laetitia got back to concentrating on the climb, it’s a good route but it did have a little lose rock! At the final move, after all the difficulties, I’d stopped concentrating and had started chatting about the ‘snake incident’ to Laetitia above belaying. At that moment the massive chunk of rock (about a foot square) I had my right hand on broke off! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ It tumbled on to my right thigh, ankle, and foot! :angry: Luckily I only sustained a few grazes, and even luckier there was no one standing at the base of the crag, it would have certainly killed them! Ouch, my ankle is stiff and sore now! ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Laetitia on Definite Trods Revived

1 On reflection after the initial panic had subsided and I’d had a chance to calm down a bit, I think it was probably a slow worm not a snake. We’d probably disturbed him enjoying the sun at the base of this unfrequented part of the crag.