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Team inov-8 meets in the Lake District

by Robert Britton
Tuesday 18th March 2014
Tags  Robert Britton   |   inov-8

Robbie Britton enjoys a weekend of all things running at the inov-8 athlete retreat in the Lake District

Robbie Britton enjoys a weekend of all things running at the inov-8 athlete retreat in the Lake District

Photos: Robbie during the Middlefell race © Mick Kenyon www.racingsnakes.com

If you asked me what constitutes a brilliant weekend it probably wouldn't be too far from what Natalie White at inov-8 planned out the for the inov-8 athlete retreat in the Lake District last weekend.

It started with arriving to a bag full of goodies in my room, 4 pairs of inov-8 shoes, a Race Ultra Vest, bundles of t-shirts, shorts, wind proofs and thermo-shells. It was just like Christmas except there were no travel sarongs or aftershaves. I wanted to go out and run in all of it straight away, like an inov-8 Michelin Man. I settled for a wee jog up onto Reston Scar, overlooking Staveley, the home of inov-8 in the Lakes.

The Friday night saw another wee jog with a couple of the other athletes, including established inov-8 guys like Gary Priestley, who'd recently beat THE Jonny Brownlee in a X-Country champs and new chaps like  Aritz Egia, a Basque Skyrunner with a love for the Zegama race.

The next morning we were running again with additions of David Schneider and Eirik Huagsnes, more top European runners who skipped along the trails effortlessly and I was doing my best to make it look like it was easy to keep up (it wasn't but I think I did enough to fool them, for Friday at least!).

We had a quick intro to the team at inov-8 and the schedule for the weekend and then we were back out and running up the Scar, ready for Ian Corless to snap a few pictures of us tanking it downhill in our shiny new gear. It didn't take long to make the shoes a slightly browner, boggier shade of orange ...

The afternoon was a chance to see and talk about the inov-8 shoes and apparel and it was great to have our opinions listened to and considered. These guys are making shoes with the end user in mind and want to hear from everyone, including Eirik's experience on the snow and ice of Norway, Ben Abdelnoor's knowledge of the fells and lakes, Pierre Laurent's watch-hole and even my hours spent in ultra marathons experiencing the trials and tribulations of 100 mile running.

The company are never happy to sit still with a product, and innovation and improvement is always on their minds. The words durability, lightweight, grip and comfort came up a lot and seeing some of the kit to be released in the future was fascinating. The fact that I was a bit too keen on the girl's colours for the shoes might have caused a bit of a stir, but I am the token fruity Southerner in the team, what do you expect?

Friday night saw the arrival of loads more athletes, a lot of top British Fell Runners who had come from their day jobs and were getting ready for race day on Saturday, the Middlefell race from Wasdale Head. Only 6.6 miles long, how hard could it be?

With all the inov-8 athletes from across the UK & Europe lining up at the start this was going to be one hotly contested shindig, possibly the most competitive fell race we might see in 2014, with any one of ten capable of pulling off a victory or even a local flying down the mountain like a man possessed!

Much to my delight the first two and the last two miles were pretty flat and even included some road, yet to my dismay the course took in a 600 odd metre peak in the middle. Balls.

I could still see the lead pack as we got to the fell, but that lasted about eight seconds. Then all I could see was the ground in front of me and my hands firmly on my knees, as they spirited away up the hill and Orlando Edward's bright shorts disappeared last of all. I wasn't going slowly but these guys could shift.

A couple of chaps overtook me on the ascent but I was more worried about the way down. I'd seen people fly down these fells and I didn't know if I could switch my brain off and follow them at the break neck speeds!

Usain Bolt eat your heart out, I guarantee the fastest man on earth lives in the Lakeland Fells and Tom Addison and Orlando Edwards could be the one as they tore past everyone on the way down.

Robbie Britton enjoys a weekend of all things running at the inov-8 athlete retreat in the Lake District

Photos: Race winner and Team inov-8 member Tom Addison at the Middlefell race © Mick Kenyon www.racingsnakes.com

I looked like I was out for a stroll and a picnic as I did my best to trot down the path and an older gent, who looked a bit like a lion, just went as the crow flies, straight down the fell regardless of any change in terrain. To say it was impressive was an understatement.

Luckily there was enough flat trail and road for me to save a bit of face after the hill and pick off all the guys who had overtaken on the way down, although the ones that got me on the way up were just too far gone, even with the 5:10s I was pushing out! 13th place in 55 minutes was great and I knew I'd be feeling that for a few days. Rob Jebb knew his record (43:39) was safe with me.

We spent the next day running over rocks for film, doing repeated bog reps until we looked like swamp monsters, everyone trying to run through a waist deep bit for that "perfect shot" only to hear "that's great. Do it again!". I think I fell over fifteen to twenty times and I don't think it helped that what was knee high for everyone else was waist high for me. Tracy Dean would have been swimming across!

Even though people had just met, spoke several different languages, run all sorts of distances, races and sports, we all had one thing in common. We all had that competitive, driven look in our eyes, committed to do what ever was necessary to succeed (as Ian Corless showed in the quiz with an outstanding team victory) and everyone got on like a bunch of ibex skipping up a mountain in brightly coloured shoes.

It is nice to find out I'm not that strange, or at least that I'm not on my own. My dad may still wonder where all this is going to lead, but I know I'm doing the right thing. Seeing how good the inov-8 team members are reminds me of how far I have to go and the journey I still have ahead, but it is a journey that excites me in a way I find difficult to explain to my Old Boy.

For me, the next step is La Palma, where I head to train, on my own, in a little glorified shed on the side of a volcano. If I'm not strange now, I definitely will be when I get back.

I'm going to be doing a series of blogs from out in the wild and keep everyone informed with what I'm up too via Run247. I'll get out on the course and report back to Blighty about what's going on. British ultra running is on the up so we might as well stick at it together eh?


About The Author

Robert Britton

Robbie is a 100 mile runner who is a member of the Great Britain 24hr Running Squad and Team Centurion and likes to run ridiculous distances as quickly as possible.

To provide enough food to feed a monster running habit, Robbie coaches other ultra marathon runners through www.robbiebritton.co.uk and is also a member of the coaching team at Centurion Running. He likes to dabble with a bit of writing so that others can learn from his mistakes and enjoy the sport as much as he does.

Robbie is also a is a Profeet ambassador.


"Pain is inevitable, suffering is just part of the fun"


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