Matt Jones completes Killer Kielder - Bike Magic

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Matt Jones completes Killer Kielder

There’s nothing like setting yourself a tough challenge, and that’s exactly what Matt Jones decided to do. He penned his own unique format consisting of a 100 mile mountain bike ride through the Kielder Forest, paddling 5 miles in a Kayak across Kielder Water and then running around the Lakeside Way, a gruelling 26 miles, all in the space of 24 hours.

And he successfully completed it the other weekend end. Now recovered, he’s had time to put fingers to keyboard and tap out his Kielder tale.

So Killer Kielder, my epic one day adventure challenge to compete in the Montane Kielder 100, then Kayak 5 miles down Kielder Water and finally run round the lakeside way Kielder Marathon, all in one go in aid of Calvert Trust Kielder. And I did it!

Kielder 100

One thing tells the story, of the 800 entrants to the race only 177 finished! The weather on the day was terrible, it rained non stop from start (6.30am) to finish which when you’re out for hours isn’t fun. I started near the front and managed to stay in roughly the same place throughout the race despite a puncture and some other minor problems (including missing a water station).

I felt particularly horrid and had some real lows between 40-60 miles and was really concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to hold a decent pace to set up the rest of the challenge, energy gels particularly helped me through when my stomach was churning, thanks Science in Sport.

It really was a case of head down and get on with it, hoping that I wouldn’t have a bike or body mechanical cutting the challenge short. Somehow I got lucky and even didn’t have to change brake pads at all (most people changed at least once).

I rolled over the finish line in 10hours 42mins, very relieved to have made it through unscathed. Ben Thomas took the win in 8 hours but I’d like to give a special mention to Rich Rothwell and Ant White, both vets, both still tearing it up at the top of the field coming 5th and 6th respectively.

Kayak Kielder

After stuffing some pasta down me, some chocolate and salt and vinegar crisps (great for staving off cramp) I jumped in to the kayak and was delighted to find that although it was still raining the lake was like a pancake, hurray! This meant I could take the most direct route and made it to the finish at Tower Knowe in around 50minutes.

I was greeted by what felt like a massive crowd and supporters from the sailing club based there were going wild, hooting boat horns and everything, brilliant, what a boost, although I did feel a bit embarrassed that I couldn’t really acknowledge people properly at first as I had suffered quite badly from stiffening up and cramp in the kayak and had to jump out as quickly as possible to stretch.

Kielder Marathon

After a quick shower, some more food, a quiet word with myself and some last minute bag packing for the support bike with trailer it was back out to start the Kielder Marathon.

Probably the highlight of the whole thing was seeing a big group of Calvert Trust guests come out to see me off, they had made signs and everything, it was raining really hard and they had been waiting for me whilst I got myself sorted inside, a real motivator.

Fortunately there was still a bit of light for the first hour of the run where I was followed by Kev and Chief on bikes, handing me bottles and food on cue, thanks guys. Once darkness fell (and it gets properly dark at Kielder) on went the Exposure Lights to turn night in to day which really helped me keep focused on the at times twisty and certainly hilly trail.

This really helped keep up a fairly consistent pace throughout and I used the steep hills as a chance to have a rest and take on water and energy gels by walking up.

Other support crew were following in a 4×4 on the nearby forest roads and this helped with motivation as I saw them at least once a hour and even got a Mexican wave at one point, ace.

For the last mile or so I was joined by a couple of other runners and Sarah on the bike, the legs were like jelly at this point, that typical comical hip swaying run you see at the end of marathons on TV.

Nevertheless with about 500m to go the call came in that if I could manage a sprint finish I would break the 5 hour mark, those who know me will tell you I see everything as a race, and although I was clearly going to be on the podium for Killer Kielder this didn’t stop me finding some strength from somewhere to sprint to the end and then literally fall over the finish tape, exhausted but satisfied.

I was handed my first drink in 6 months which I managed to get some down before feeling a bit ill on finishing at 12.45am Sunday morning

Didn’t really get much sleep that night and felt really ill the next morning, a sort of hungover, breathless feeling that slowly faded through the day and I was able to start the recovery eating. The body was aching but nothing major, truly amazing and I feel very lucky to have got through so well

So although I’ve done a fair amount of training for all this I really stand my assertion at the outset, that it’s all about mind over matter. I found this out when doing the Kielder Marathon last year without any specific training other than my mtb fitness, realising that I was somehow able to push myself beyond what my fitness level alone would allow. So get out there and set yourself a challenge that is unthinkable for a good cause, mentally prepare yourself and then the rest will fall in to place.

My garmin output from the whole thing, think there’s a few errors with signal problems but you get the general idea . It also is set to bike mode so massive underestimation of calories on kayak and run.

And thanks to…

Firstly and most importantly to my other half Sarah who turned into organiser/admin extraordinaire for this whole thing, I definitely owe you a few trips to see chick flicks at the cinema…

Supporters on the day:

  • Kev- Bike support 1/physio
  • Chief- Bike support 2
  • Mum, Diana- cheerleader 1
  • Sister, Louise- cheerleader 2
  • Rich (STAT0)- photo’s
  • Pete (Judge)- mapping and comms
  • Han- cheerleader 3/final mile run support
  • Chazza- cheerleader 4/final mile run support

The people who made it possible:

  • Hazel and Pete and all the guys at the Calvert Trust
  • Alex Mac and all the guys at the Forestry Commission and Northumbria Water
  • My Sponsors:
  • Bruichladdich Whisky- fuelling the adventure!
  • M Steels Cycles- keeping my bike going
  • Exposure Lights- keeping me lit on the run
  • Purple Mountain- great kielder based support shop
  • Perro- design and consultancy for press releases and media

My final plug for sponsorship for a great cause look for pics and more updates on and @killerkielder

Time to drink beer and eat pizza.



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