James Nobles is one of the big favourites heading into this weekend’s Northern Traverse, though as we found out when catching up with him he’s seeing it as very much a learning experience.
The impressive winner of the Dragon’s Back race last year, he’s now swapping a 380km six-day stage event for a 300km non-stop coast-to-coast challenge.
We had five questions for the Senior Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett University ahead of the event, here are his answers…
‘A very different beast’
How has your preparation gone for the Northern Traverse?
Training has gone really well on the whole. I took a good three months off following the Dragon’s Back and then had a solid 12 weeks of training coming into the Northern Traverse. Let’s wait and see if it is enough to get me to Robin Hood’s Bay.
How much of the route are you familiar with?
Not much really. I’ve not had chance to do the recces that I would have liked, but I did get the opportunity to come up for a weekend and look at the section from Shap to Richmond. For the rest of it, I will very much be reliant on GPX and a map!
You have said previously that you went into The Dragon’s Back with no expectation of winning – has that victory changed your mindset going into the Northern Traverse?
I wouldn’t say so, the Northern Traverse feels like a very different beast to the Dragon’s Back. This will be, by far, the furthest I’ve attempted to go in one hit. Prior to this, I’ve done about 70 miles on the Paddy Buckley Round. I’m hoping that I can just switch my legs off and keep the momentum going.
You’ve spoken of a Bob Graham Round attempt in the summer – is that still on the agenda?
Possibly! I had toyed with the idea of a solo, unsupported attempt at the Bob to see whether I could beat my previous time on the round a few years ago, although it was a fully supported round back then. I’m also thinking about a potential go at the Steve Parr round rather than the Bob Graham, but that depends on whether or not I secure a place in the Spine. If I do, I think the Steve Parr round will be on the cards over another attempt at the Bob.
What else have you got planned for 2023 – is the winter Spine still the main objective?
I’m hoping so, although I am firmly sat somewhere in the middle of the waiting list for the Spine. Historically, most people who are on the waiting list get onto the Spine, but due to how popular it was this year, I’m not sure. I’d really love to have a crack at it. Who knows, I might not be cut out for the single stage long distance stuff – the Northern Traverse will give an indication of that!