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/ Trekking Poles on Fell Rounds

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EuanM - on 08 Jul 2018

I'm curious on what the general consensus is on the use of trekking poles during famous fell round challenges; Bob Graham, Ramsey, Tranters etc. 

I've had a read at the Bob Graham tradition and ethics document and while the use of poles isn't explicitly outlawed I get the impression it's not in the spirit of the rules. 

I use poles in all mountain training runs and long ultras with lots of climbing. In the latter stages of the race I probably rely quite heavily on them. 

Not ready for a BG attempt at the moment but would like to have a crack at a Tranters before the end of summer. 

Any thoughts? Poles and GPS are part of the modern toolkit or they have no place in a traditional fell round?

petestack - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

> I've had a read at the Bob Graham tradition and ethics document and while the use of poles isn't explicitly outlawed I get the impression it's not in the spirit of the rules. 

One mention each of poles and GPS, with nothing to suggest that:

> The fundamental challenges of the Round remain largely intact. Trods are more distinct, GPS may (arguably) make for better navigation, poles may aid the physical demands and the community of experienced people to help contenders is wider and deeper, there are many more ultra-length mountain events in the calendar both at home and abroad to aid preparation. But despite these, the mountains and the weather can still deliver the stiffest of challenges.

It's not racing or orienteering, so use them if they help.

Post edited at 18:05
EuanM - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to petestack:

Didn't say they weren't mentioned. 

I'm asking what people's opinion is on their use. 

petestack - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

And I gave you mine. (It's not racing or orienteering, so use them if they help.) Then edited my post to quote the document.

Some ultras (e.g. West Highland Way Race) specifically ban poles and other events (e.g. mountain marathons) GPS. What the BGR document is saying to me is it's still tough with poles, GPS, experienced support and/or appropriate training/preparation, not that any of these are against the spirit!

wbo - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM: what's the logic behind events deeming poles unethical?

 

EuanM - on 08 Jul 2018
In reply to wbo:

Poles offer a clear performance advantage for most. I can’t remember exactly but think it’s 10% less pressure on the legs. 

An advantage that (I presume) wasn’t available to early participants. 

I’m not saying it’s unethical. Just trying to canvass opinions. 

 

 

Dave Kerr - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

I can't see how poles would be not in the spirit of a round, after all, the spirit of the BG seems to involve extensive reconnaissance and massive support crews carrying all your stuff, doing all your navigation and feeding you every 5 minutes! 

If you find they help use them if you don't like them don't but whatever you decide to do on the round do all your training the same way.

For the record I've done one round with and one without and I can't say the round with feels like any less of an achievement.

 

Post edited at 08:36
Moley on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

Poles should be compulsory for the over 60s, I bought mine at 60 and call them my Zimmer aids I wouldn't be without them on long days out. Apart from the obvious benefits when climbing, I feel they give me an extra upper body workout which is important for us oldies as I don't do gym.

I think they are accepted now, as Dave says, every other prop for getting round a bg is ok.

Dave Kerr - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to wbo:

> what's the logic behind events deeming poles unethical?

I suspect it's partly down to the 'we've always done it this way so new stuff is bad' mentality.

Some events have good safety reasons for banning poles for example they're not allowed on the technical sections of the Glencoe Skyline but are allowed on the rest.

Post edited at 09:57
mbh - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> I can't see how poles would be not in the spirit of a round, after all, the spirit of the BG seems to involve extensive reconnaissance and massive support crews carrying all your stuff, doing all your navigation and feeding you every 5 minutes! 

Ha! I tried an on-sight, solo attempt a few years ago, straight after driving up from Cornwall. I made it to Dunmail then collapsed in a heap. Oh for all that help... Mind, a bit more mental stiffening would have helped too, as i think might a pair of poles. If I try it again (unlikely) I would take a pair, as I will on an upcoming (if the resolve holds) go at the much shorter and much closer to me Dartmoor 600s round.

Stig - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

my opinion is that it’s a fell running challenge not an ultra therefore from an aesthetic point of view one should not use poles.

on a minor note you’d need your hands for some of it so having to carry them would be a pain.

i couldn’t care less whether someone chooses to use them though.

 

petestack - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

> An advantage that (I presume) wasn’t available to early participants. 

Like modern shoes, clothing, energy drinks and food etc.? Or modern ropes, harnesses and protection for climbers?

In reply to Stig:

> my opinion is that it’s a fell running challenge not an ultra therefore from an aesthetic point of view one should not use poles.

I don't get the logic there when some hill/mountain races allow poles and some ultras don't.

> i couldn’t care less whether someone chooses to use them though.

Me neither. I have poles, but rarely use them (haven't for years) and never for running. If someone else wants to use them for a challenge for which they're allowed, I regard that as entirely their choice.

Qwertilot - on 09 Jul 2018

You have to wonder precisely how much they'd help on the BGR anyway - an awful lot of insanely steep/rocky climbs where they're rather less use. Obviously incredibly useful for hauling up more sustained gradients.

Dave Kerr - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Stig:

> on a minor note you’d need your hands for some of it so having to carry them would be a pain.

Sticking poles on your bag for about 200m out of 104k really isn't much of a pain!

Graham Briffett on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Qwertilot:

And which are those then? Maybe I'm being forgetful, but I'm struggling to remember many climbs where you actually need to use your hands and might have to stow poles. Broad Stand, obviously, but there's nothing in the 1st 2 legs (going clockwise), not a lot on the big Dunmail-Wasdale or Wasdale-Honister legs and nothing at all on the last (Honister- Keswick legs).  The modern z-type poles can be collapsed very quickly and opened up even quicker, so there's no disadvantage in terms of time or faff factor.

Personally I find them very helpful on climbs and descents on big days out. And I don't have any issue over aesthetics at all.

 

Post edited at 14:38
Marek - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> I suspect it's partly down to the 'we've always done it this way so new stuff is bad' mentality.

> Some events have good safety reasons for banning poles for example they're not allowed on the technical sections of the Glencoe Skyline but are allowed on the rest.

Perhaps slightly broader than that - people with poles are want to wave them around a fair bit which can be dangerous. Ever tried to run past a walking group who are using poles as extensions of their index fingers? "Oh sorry lad, didn't see you. It'll stop bleeding in a bit."

petegunn on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Graham Briffett:

I did a solo round a few years ago and used poles from the start of the second leg and used them all the way to the finish, only putting them away for the scramble up Broad stand.

Mine are super light weight (only 104grams per pole) so could run whilst carrying them if needed.

They seemed to help me and hopefully saved my knees a little.

 

 

Simon Caldwell - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Marek:

Runners generally know how to use poles effectively - not just for poking people if they try to overtake!

After all, why carry the extra weight if you're just going to wave them in the air?

Graham Briffett on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to petegunn:

Agree with you there. I did a supported round a few years ago and had my poles out for all but the 1st two legs. They were not especially light, though I didn't have any problem running with them. The ones I have now (BD carbon ultra distance) are great and very easy to run with. I hardly notice them, even fully extended.

 

Marek - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Simon Caldwell:

Can still be an issue when they're running on easier ground with the poles just held in the hand (as opposed to being used).

wbo - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to Marek: anything can be dangerous.  Wait till you run in a race wearing spikes - I've got 20 year old spike scars

 

steveriley - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

I supported leg 5 recently and my key jobs were forcing drink onto the stag, making bad jokes/generally making light of his effort, and stowing the poles when he didn't need them. Dead easy to collapse down and easy to run alongside until he next wanted them. 

mbh - on 11 Jul 2018
In reply to wbo:

I've got a huge mark across my thigh from a really recalcitrant bramble that I had the bad manners to run into in January this year. Blood everywhere at the time!

Simon Caldwell - on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to Marek:

> Can still be an issue when they're running on easier ground with the poles just held in the hand (as opposed to being used).

True I guess. But I fold mine up when not using them and either stow in my sack or hold in the hand depending on how long until I need them next. Stops them getting in my own way, let alone anyone else's!

Dauphin on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

No recovery/ support skins or Hokas, only Walshes, tiny nylon shorts & Ronhills with a worn out crotch.

 

D

Qwertilot - on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to Graham Briffett:

> And which are those then? Maybe I'm being forgetful, but I'm struggling to remember many climbs > where you actually need to use your hands and might have to stow poles. Broad Stand, obviously, but there's nothing in the 1st 2 legs (going clockwise), not a lot on the big Dunmail-Wasdale or Wasdale-Honister legs and nothing at all on the last (Honister- Keswick legs).  The modern z-type poles can be collapsed very quickly and opened up even quicker, so there's no disadvantage in terms of time or faff factor.

>

I wasn't thinking of climbs that *need* hands, so much as whether they're relatively less use for genuinely steep climbs like Yewbarrow. Much easier to really put energy into poles on more graduated slopes.
(Which I guess you've named plenty of above !)

Not all that sure how well they can be used if really speeding down a super steep slope either - not something I try myself

> Personally I find them very helpful on climbs and descents on big days out. And I don't have any issue > over aesthetics at all.

I use them a lot myself but then I'm a hard/fast/long walker not a runner. 

I do think they're often underutilised in general for some reason. I certainly saw a bunch of people on a trail marathon in the peak district last weekend who would I think really have benefited from poles to help their uphill walking speed.
(It wasn't fast.).

mbh - on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

Bloody poles. I bought a fancy new BD pair on here to do the Dartmoor 600s. Got back after doing one of them (Cut Hill), threw them to the ground, I was so knackered, drove off and left them in the car park. Grrr!

For the record, I used them rarely, but when I did I was glad of them. I'd have been even more glad if I had worked out how to stow them on my running vest when I didn't need them.

Moley on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to Qwertilot:

I've seen them used incorrectly by a lot by runners (walking) uphill, I am no expert, but even I worked out I can't pull myself uphill with them.

Dauphin on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to Qwertilot:

Not all that sure how well they can be used if really speeding down a super steep slope either - not something I try myself

Think of Anthony Sher's Richard III RSC performance, superbly agile spider/ crab down steep rocky descents, even scree running. Four legs is better than two.  You can leap spin and balance like a super hero. Probably super dangerous but then speed descents aren't for the fair hearted. 

 

D

mbh - on 12 Jul 2018
In reply to Dauphin:

Great for crossing streams and avoiding a full dunking, as I found out today. 

I saw that Anthony Sher RIII performance.

Simon Caldwell - on 16 Jul 2018
In reply to Qwertilot:

> they're relatively less use for genuinely steep climbs like Yewbarrow. Much easier to really put energy into poles on more graduated slopes.

I find mine most useful on steep slopes, and less so on graduated ones! 

Dave Kerr - on 30 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

I'm just back from a couple of weeks running in the Alps during which I used poles on every run. I was already converted to their benefits but I'm even more so now to the extent that I'm probably going to be pissed off at races where I can't use them!

EuanM - on 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Out of interest, how did you store them when not in use?

My UD pack is designed to have them attach to the front but I find they bounce around too much. I've taken to just holding them which isn't ideal but less annoying. 

 

Dave Kerr - on 30 Jul 2018
In reply to EuanM:

The bag I was using has a mesh pocket on the front and they fitted in that pretty well. I only feel the need to put them away for quite difficult scrambling / climbing. Stuff that only requires one hand at a time I just hold them both in one hand and swap from hand to hand as needed.


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