Over the past few weeks I have been rabbiting on to anyone who would listen how the Harrock Hill Series was commencing. It’s a nifty little fell race, more like a good trail race, but as it’s over a 4 month period 1 per month, allows you to look at fitness etc, enjoy running somewhere a little different, meet other likeminded runners, and enjoy a bit of banter pre and post race in a decent watering hole. There is also the option to win a box of veg or not in the Bowland case last night!! 4 races for £10 or £3.50 if you pay individually.
Last night, weather was good, M6 was awful which resulted in varying routes taken and a bottleneck at registration, a show of hands on the start line indicated a few “never before runners”.
There were some notable Bowland absentee’s from 2012, Richard Davies (no note from Mum!), Ian France (apologies given the previous evening), Sarah Sharratt (turning the wheels of industry with having to work; also giving another FV40 the chance of a box of veg). Mark and Clive, now that they are slimline versions they are off on greater things and ppffts to Harrock Hill Saira Is-Haq was a potential then jetted of to India (bit of an extreme excuse), which rendered Pam Farmer’s excuse of a “community cooking event” a bit poor. However there were some stalwarts, Shaun and I, Paul Walsh, Mark Midgely and a newcomer Andy Farmer. I also saw Mike McDonald but not in a Bowland Vest, when challenged he advised he felt a fraud wearing it as his knees were so bad he couldn’t go up or down at speed and could only manage a dismal 10 mins per mile, so he’s opted for a Northern Vets vest, does better than a lot of youngsters and a smashing bloke. Chatted to George Fletcher who was in a Red Rose top as it was a club champs race.
The run was surprisingly dry and no wading through ankle deep mud, the bovine beasts were vocal and in the first field the presence of 3 marshals charging about and yelling was amusing the cows so much they never thought to give us any hassle. I did my best to keep up with the two Liverpool Striders females as i was really interested in what happened to Bert and Ethel when they left the nightclub on Saturday to go round the back for a Pizza (names have been changed to protect the innocent) but they pulled ahead at the juicy bit – damn.
It was a really good little run and Andy and Shaun were end of the farm track to yell me through to the finish line. I sometimes wonder about Shaun’s asthma with lungs that can yell like that!! I’m sure Andy would agreed – there was talk of a decking!! We ambled back to the pub and went in for a beverage and a natter. Mark decided as he didn’t have to hang around for Sarah to collect any veg he would opt for an earlyish evening, there was talk of who was doing a write up and it appeared a vote had taken place and it was me (again!!) I pointed out it had to be Mark’s turn next. All in all an enjoyable evening.
Mark Midgley 42.08
Shaun Turner 45.04
Andrew Farmer 50.39
Paul Walsh 51.22
Ruth Turner 58.07
Race 2 – date – 26 June 2013
This Sunday I ran Glaramara fell race in Borrowdale, a 5 mile, 700m race, to the summit and back. After signing in, I went to speak to the race organiser, a guy who goes by the name of Scoffer (no idea what his actual name is!?). He’d been up the race route already earlier, when the clag was still “down to the chimneys” as he put it, so I asked him what the course was like, and was there much navigation needed. “on the way up, its easy, just follow the path to the summit, there is a short scramble to the top, then a flagged section to get safely off the summit. On the way back down, there are lots of better lines on the grass, but its easy to go wrong, so just stick to the path if your not sure.” Sounds easy enough then, or so I thought.
Where we were stood was also on the path of the Scafell Trail Marathon, which had set off from Keswick a few hours earlier. Carl Bell went past first, heading back towards Keswick, followed by another runner or 2, every few minutes, but it later turned out that Ricky Lightfoot had won, so he must have been well ahead at this point.
A while later we were joined by another older chap called Billy, who seemed very clued up on everything fellrunning wise, which he would be, when I realised it was in fact the fell running legend himself, Billy Bland. It also seemed that his house must have been one of the ones we were parking behind, as he started to look very worried when someone was reversing dangerously close to ‘his wall’!
At one o’clock I lined up on the starting line, with a grand total of 26 other runners, by far the smallest field I’ve ever raced in, I was the only Bowlander, and nearly all the rest were Cumbrians. Scoffer set us off along the road, through some flat fields, then into the woods, and up what is probably the steepest part of the route. At the top of the woods it was through the wall gate, and onto the open fell, which was a combination of rocky and boggy sections, steadily climbing all the way to the top.
As is often the case in short races, I set off far too fast, stayed with the front runners for a while, then slowly dropped back to nearer the back of the pack. At what I thought was about the half-way point upwards I began to make a good recovery, and caught up with a group of 5 (which in a field of 27, put me relatively near the front again!) and followed them for a while. The visibility was very poor now, and we would be in dense fog from now until nearly back at the wall gate. It soon dawned on me that we were no longer following a proper path, but more meandering around, on lots of boggy sections that looked like paths, and were lost. The exact same mistake as I had made a fortnight earlier at Coniston, following the leader, and not actually taking notice where I’m going.
Maps and compasses were out at this point, and after lots more meandering in the general right direction, we saw the summit cairn and pole, with a small scramble leading up to it, however when we reached this, no signs of a marshal or flags, just a summit, rather than the summit we were meant to be at.
After much more confusion and head scratching, the group eventually made it to the actual summit, where we were greeted with the great news that we were the last to the top, so much for it being easy on the way up!
The decent went smoothly enough though, we followed a bearing from the top, and found the path ok. Once on the path I was more than happy to stay on it, and leave them faster grassy decents to get lost on another time. I managed to stay at the front of the group I’d been in, and was very surprised to be told I was in 18th position when I eventually finished the race. We weren’t the only ones getting lost then.
A couple of Ambleside runners came in a few minutes after me, who after having missed the wall gate on their decent, had managed to come across one of the food stations for the Scafell Trail Marathon, but they didn’t think they could justify stopping for sandwiches and energy gels on a 5 mile fell run.
All in all a great day out, interesting people met, lots of lessons learnt, and a real good fell route, which would have been pretty fast, and nearly all runable in clear weather, or following someone who knew the way!
How does Richard Mellon do it? One weekend after another with one mid-weeker; TWA, 3 Peaks, Coniston, Wrea Caton, Fairfield, Scottish Islands 3 Peaks, Jura.
That is one heck of an itinerary and his results to Fairfield have been really good, top fives in some. The man is a well-oiled machine. ‘I need to run when I’m tired in order to prepare for the Scottish Islands race. Because that’s how it is when you’re doing it’. Fair enough. I love that kind of determination and acceptance of the challenge. He reckons some slower boats have faster runners and vice versa so it could be a well contested race again this year.
He tells me this in the aftermath of Fairfield as we sit sipping tea.
The weather, whilst not brilliant, was not as bad as feared for this one.
All the big names for this counter were present. Delayed by half an hour due to congestion I wander up the start of the route. With 500 runners it is going to be an interesting first mile all the way up to the ‘slurry’ puddle. I don’t think anyone is relishing that bit.
Sure enough, when the RO counts us down at the off, two of the elite runners promptly slip on the down slope causing chaos to the throng behind. Shouts and buffeting as runners dodge them, nobody is hurt though.
A little selfishly, I start a little too far forward which means I don’t have to check myself behind other runners, instead I’m causing them to check. Apologies! I get overtaken by loads right up to the foot of the first climb. Why is Lauren Jeska just in front of me? She must be off form.
A small contingent veers off to the left and I follow. After ten minutes of toil I can now categorically tell you that taking this route makes no difference whatsoever. When we emerge I am behind the exact same runner I started the climb with. I peak back and see Chris R quite a few yards behind me. Poor Chris is in the wars with health and injuries; so much so that his annual holiday at the Jura race is in doubt. Tough luck Chris.
Mark is spectating on the cold tops and gives me an encouraging shout.
I’m feeling quite strong on the climbs all the way to Fairfield but that’s the better part of my running at the moment. I’ve done the race twice now and both times taken the slower route off Dove Crag. I wasn’t going to let it happen again. You guessed it, I got lured down the same old route by Sally Newman; gaaah!
After much faffing about we eventually pop out and onto the better line and who do I see in front of me, Leigh Warby.
It’s a red rag to a bull. I charge after him and haul him back in the last field before the road finish. No sooner am I past him than I slip and fall head over heels (or did Leigh pull off a cunning Suarez type trip, heh, heh)? Anyway, any footballer would have been proud of my rolling about on the ground. Leigh calls out ‘are you okay’ on his way past. ‘Yeh’ and I’m off after him again.
Adrenalin surging through me, my eyes are fixed on his Bowland vest. This last bit is a brutal finish to a tough course. Mark says afterwards that he saw more agony on runners faces in this section than he did in any other part of the race.
I’m slowly reeling Leigh in, ‘gotcha’, I’m thinking. Someone shouts ‘300 metres to go’. God it’s tough but I’m right on Leigh’s shoulder and ever so slowly going past him, ‘not this time Leigh, no siree’. There’s a slight rise in the road and the end is palpable. My legs turn to jelly; from ‘okay, it’s hurting but been there before’ to wobbly jelly. Leigh immediately responds and I hear him clawing me back; his victory over me is, finally, inevitable and assured.
The day turns nice once we’re finished and we hang around for the prize giving. I lend Leigh a book ‘Running with the Kenyans’. It’s a great read with lots of things to make you think about the sport. One of the endearing traits of Kenyan runners is their lack of tactics; they just go out and race how they feel. I think I should have skipped that chapter!
Whilst the hardcore runners were up doing Fairfield Horseshoe there were some other Bowlanders showing the Green and Orange (no not Green and Blacks!) at Belmont Winter Hill. Graeme Menzies, Mark Midgley, Sarah Sharratt, Mr and Mrs Turner.
Belmont Winter Hill is a 4.5 miles 1001ft climb race from Belmont Village near Bolton. There is a little village fete also that was a real damp wash out this year which was a shame as last year the cakes were superb!!
I started to think about this race earlier in the week and tried to enlist the support of a couple of “mates” – however they quickly found other commitments – Govenors meeting, christening, birthdays, Ikea visits, loo fixing – the excuses are to many to list!!! You know who you are – ha ha
Shaun had been struggling with a nasty chest virus but was on the up and up so I had persuaded him that it was a great idea to run this race with me rather than going all out and struggling. The day dawned, wet, cold, windy and generally awful, however I still managed to persuade Shaun he wanted to support me. We arrived at the pub to register and I started to wonder why, all thoughts of how good it would be had gone and I had the usual pre-race anxieties. Why am I here, I’ll be last, make a fool of myself etc etc. Wandered back to the car with my number and bumped into Sarah and Mark on their way to register, turned into the close where we had parked our car and saw another green and orange vest being pulled on – didn’t know the runner but found out later his name was Graeme – Hi Graeme – didn’t you do well!!
So off we went for a warm up and another quick natter on the start line with Mark, quick words of wisdom from the race organiser along the lines of – its wet, boggy and slippy, take care and enjoy and we were off. Along the road until the bridge and then a turn left onto the fell and the first climb up, how interesting on the climb for me I overtook 3 people – that’s a rarity. Got to the top and overtook another young lad who was hands on knees gasping for breath. Shaun encouraged him on and so did I using the tactic “I’m nearly 53 and a grandma – don’t let me beat you” – he soon gathered himself and shot off into the distance. I followed Shaun through boggy, wet ground which was great fun, he turned round at one point to encourage me on and looked shocked I was right behind him so started to speed up to pull me on. We went up the second climb and along and then down and along the track to the start of the 3rd climb which is a scramble type climb. Shaun said afterwards to me that I looked tired there and I did feel it, but looked at the climb and thought its not quite Ski Sunday and I get up there OK so up I went. Got to the top and started the final descent down with a couple of lads who had caught up, that I had previously overtaken. I managed to get down the descent and we left one behind but the other got past me on the final track and into the field. As I entered the field Mark and Sarah were waiting to encourage me on the last little bit by telling me not to let Shaun get ahead – thanks for the support guys!!
I had looked at the previous years results and had wanted to do under 1hr 15m – now I know to some of you better runners that would be quite funny but horses for courses. Anyway when we got the results it was 1hr 1m and 50 seconds – I was surprised and happy but started to think where I could lose some time and try and get under 1hour next year!!
Thanks to Shaun, Mark and Sarah for the encouragement. All in all a good little run out on a Saturday. Would like to put the results on but they are not up yet on the FRA site.
Graeme Menzies – was 40 min something and I think was in 10th place – ish.
Mark and Sarah were around 45 minute mark and then me and Shaun.
Two new peat-digging long-distance routes in Bowland have been inaugurated by that indefatigable Bowlandologist, Duncan E. See the updated Dig The Peat page on the Bowland Fellrunners website (www.bowlandfellrunners.org.uk) for details..
Results from Saturday’s Fairfield English Champs race; It was a tough run – cold, into the wind on the climb and a slippery descent, but Martin Hurst had another excellent run and is moving steadily through the ranks!
Our next Club Championship race is on TOMORROW … MEARLEY CLOUGH - 7:15 start from the Calf’s Head in Worston. See you there
PS – IS ANY BODY GOING TO MEARLY CLOUGH TOMORROW THAT CAN TAKE THE LADIES TROPHY BACK ON MY BEHALF PLEASE? IF SO PLEASE CONTACT ASAP!!