I’d forgotten that Quentin was a v50, so that’s another runner to make up a Bowland v50 team. And then Readey mentions Steve Sweeney over in Donegal. So that’s four quality runners with Mike J, five if you add Clive later in the season.
Borrowdale need to look to their laurels if these GandOs ever get their act together. With three needed per team, Borrowdale have two great v50s but struggle for a third. However, it’s easier to pin down mercury than our stars. Come on guys, co-ordinate; it would be brilliant to get a top spot for the club.
Two of the stars, Q and Readey, are in the car as we head into the gloom covering the Lake District.
It was forecast and we’re expecting it but this area can surprise you with its little micro-climes; so
you never know, it may turn out nice. Actually, we’re all v50 in the car, Leigh has joined us today and
it’s great to see him; his quad tear six months ago still not wholly recovered. I finally get to return
the book he lent me; drugs in cycling back in the 70s, rife for forty years and here we are over-excited about Lance and his little capers. Somehow, I don’t think it’ll ever be any different, no matter what people say.
I could do with a few pills at the moment.
Its’ all a bit of a rush to get to the start line; Graham and the delightful Saira are here and also the other Bowland racing core; Swerve, Colin, Chris B. Paul Neild is here too, he likes this one, and Paul Walsh and Huw and I think I saw Moo.
Somewhere out, over there, dominating the area, should be Grisedale Pike, but a veil of clag obscures most of it. Looks as though the forecasters have got it right so far, and I’m expecting rain and wind when we get to the top.
We don’t really get much rain but that wind is fierce. It’s the cag on for me before I’m half-way up, and the hat and the gloves. Just as well because once we hit the summit the wind knocks us all sideways, forget about donning any top in this, it’ll be in the next county in a trice. We’re all running in slow-mo, bodies arched into the wind and eyes streaming; us lightweights take a right buffeting. We run along a while and then a descent before climbing Eel Crag where the wind picks up yet more speed. Loose stones and slippy, cold rock make this not a pleasant place to be, the runners around are, like me, dreading whatever awaits at the top, just minutes away. There’s half a dozen of us, Gill Myers, Shaun Addison and Ben Grant among them, grouping for safety. Sure enough, the blast at the top is withering, and I can’t believe that the two marshals are still manning the checkpoint. We all arrive together and give our numbers; I wait my turn and have to shout twice in his ear before I get the thumbs up. Crikey, if there is a mishap, they’ll be sure to know who’s missing. Good on you, fellows, your sense of duty is fantastic; you’re a credit to the sport, not to mention as hardy as owt. Jackie Winn has part flagged the course earlier in the day, that Ellenborough lot are obviously out of his gnarly mould.
My leg muscles are shutting down with the cold, short shorts were not the best choice I reflect. But it’s okay because we’re beginning to drop; a proper tricky, trippy and slow descent toward Sail, I’m content not to force it and remain at the back of the group. Finally onto some runnable terrain and then that gallop over a stony and bouldery walker’s path, leg muscles warming up in the process. I quite like this part even though the v65, Ben Grant, shames us all with his speed and prowess. Gill, the vF50, fades a bit on this terrain as does Shaun. From here on in it’s a great, runnable foot race for a few miles to the finish. The only notable thing for me is catching a few runners, which chivvies me along to the point where Ben, who was a good 100yards in front, is right there for the taking. An extra effort and I manage to just nip in front of him at the tape.
Is it your mission to just finish in front of me, he asks; that’s twice now. Yes, I say happily, and then queue for an indulgent chocolate slice of something and a sweet cup of tea.
The rest of the hard core GandO racers have put me to the sword but I now have a state of the art training watch, like Graham’s. In the hands of a technophobe, I’m not going to do anyone any damage, but I’ll look the part which is important in this day and age. Like a Japanese golfer I once saw on the tee with Ping everything, knocked the ball, ooh, a goodly 20 yards.
Colin is just a couple of minutes behind me, getting closer all the while, won’t be long now; Swerve is a few minutes in front and building on his good form of late. Chris B, Readey and Paul N finish not far off each other, I think there’s a healthy rivalry developing there and I’m pretty sure Swerve is going to join them soon.
We wait for Q to get his v50 second place prize and then head back to the car.
Preparing to leave, Saira shouts over that I’m fanciable in that car. Unaware of the light-hearted comments passed between us during the week, my passengers are taken aback at the remark; a little miffed even that I deserve such recognition. I don’t let on about the wee bit of banter that brought about the remark; they keep coming back to it though as we chug along; tee hee.
And then there’s Graham, the other half of the double act, well, how do you think he did today. Suffice to say that Quentin just pipped him in the end, no mean feat. His progress is nothing short of remarkable this season and I genuinely look forward to seeing where it takes him.
Saurday April 5th
Approaching the South Lakes junction, the northern hills were clear in a rain free morning sky. It was 6.15 and the landscape was still, no trees bending in the wind. The omens were good for a pleaseant day. 30 minutes later at Kirkstone Pass there was rain on a rising wind and visability stretched the length of the Inn car park and no further.
The plan was to do Leg One in reverse and meet up with Rachel, Ann, Cooky and Ian F at Pooley Bridge at 11 o’clock. Then we would all head back over to Kirkstone Pass.
Already 20 minutes behind schedule, I headed off over St. Ravens Edge. Visability was about 40 paces but the walkers highway could hardly be missed. Droping down into Threshthwaite Mouth, the air was stilled and the clag hung thickly in the pass. I’d ‘lost’ the wall and had drifted a little northwards untill the falling slope of the land indicated my error.
Once corrected, it was uneventful progress as far as High Street, were a bearded gent, hunkered down in a bivvi and sleeping bag, with his tent pitched against the prevailing wind, called for my number as I passed him by. He was marshalling the summit for the George Falkener Marathon 42. As I headed off for Rampsgill Head, I passed a few of the hardy racers as they pressed into the wind on route to the check point.
On to Rampsgill Head and the only foul-up of the day. But costly in its way. Still behind schedule, I opted for the stoney summit path that would take me off the ridge and down to the High Raise path, by-passing Kidsty Pike. The wind was whistling over the summit and visability was as bad as it had been all day. The path that links the summit cairns can seem obscure on a good day and this day I lost it completely. After doing some retracing, I set the compass for North and followed it off the ridge. I made High Raise and lost no time in heading for Raven Howe. My thoughts now were for those that were waiting at Pooley Bridge. Once below High Raise the clag all but disappeared, and with the wind at my back I was running hard for Loadpot Hill where I hoped to get a mobile signal. No such luck. On to Arthurs Pike and with Pooley Bridge in view I managed to get Rachel on my mobile to say that I was on my way.
I made the car park at Pooley Bridge about 35 minutes behind time, but thankfully found everyone in good spirits despite the unscheduled wait. Just time for some rice and a chat before heading back along the lake side to Park Foot and back on to the fells.
The worst of the weather was to the South and West of High Raise, so our passage from Pooley Bridge was under clear skies albeit with a blustery wind that was very much in our faces. We were a convivial group and chatted our way to the summit of Arthurs Pike, arriving just 2 minutes behind schedule. This wasn’t a day to be overly concerned with the schedule times, but nonetheless, it would be interesting to check them and to see how we did in the prevailing conditions.
I think the others were being kind to me, and more or less allowed me to set the pace, which was to jog the down-hills, walk the up-hills and to do a mixture of both over the remainder. The wind continued its unrelenting opposition to any easy progress and it seemed to have been forever thus, over recent months. Ascending Loadpot Hill, we were blessed with a few brief rays of sunshine, and sight of a rainbow that arced in a semi-circle over the hills behind us. It was a photo opportunity that didn’t go amiss. The weather was not to improve and it deteriorated steadily as we approached High Raise and disappeared into the clag that hung over the summit.
We were up on the peak-to-peak schedule through Kidsty Pike and Rampsgill Head but on this day, for me at least, the trudge up to High Street summit was a bit attritional and I was happy to lag behind till we reached the plateau and the trig pillar. The weather was wearing, but it was the company that was making the day, a solo forray in such weather may have proved to be good training, but it would have been dismal to say the least.
Cooky and I kept an eye on the schedule times as the peaks came went and I feasted on jelly babies from Ian and jelly beans from Ann. The weather was making it far to complicated to retrieve and consume pots of rice. Ian though, was in his element, he’d arrived early at Pooley Bridge and had already been to the summit of Arthurs Pike and back before I arrived. He was revelling in his first taste of Lakeland fells since his BG last year.
Jogging down from High Street, we were soon taking brief shelter against the wall by Thornthwaite Beacon and ready to turn westward and away from the frontal assault from the wind and rain. We quickly descended the hillside which was wet and slick and found ourselves wrapped in sudden silence as we clambered up the wet rocks out of Threshthwaite Mouth. The contours of the hill had brought us an abrupt, though temporary shelter from the elements. We climbed to the left of the wall on wet rock and then switched to the right to follow the grassy trod, before again crossing a wall break and joining the path to Stoney Cove Pike.
Peak-to-peak we were again in front of schedule and it was all down hill from there and we would be at Kirkstone in less than 30 minutes, via Pike How. Descending through the clag from below St. Ravens Edge, the sound of traffic on the pass rose to meet us in our descent, and minutes later we were shedding wet gear in the car park and toweling ourselves dry as best we could, before making the drive back to Pooley Bridge.
Having changed into full dry gear, we congregated in the cafe tea room and enjoyed a feast of cream teas. Clearly affronted by the meagre portion of clotted cream, Rachel endeared herself to us all by telling the waitress that, ‘she would need more’ …..more of a statement than a request !! We gave her the remnants of our jam and cream pots and suggested that she ask the young waitress if there was a spare piece of bread going. It was all good fun.
Ann, Rachel and Cooky took to the road, homeward bound, while Ian and I had a sup and a chat in the Pooley Bridge Inn. Perfect end to a wet and windy day.
Days later, ‘Dame Ruth of Causey’, forwarded me the stats from Rachels Strava. Her actual moving time was 3.36.28, well inside the schedule. Her elapsed time was 4.16.58 which included a photo op, chatting time, retrieving-food time, and waiting-for-me time. Given the conditions of the day, it was great effort, but it was the company that really made the day.
Sorry I’m late posting this on the blog (only 2 races gone so still plenty of time!) for those that haven’t read emails, seen the web site or been hibernating for way too long this years champs races are as below. Some cracking starts to the season notably Rowena’s outright ladies win at Causey Pike taking 1st V40 and 1st V50 (she’s going to need a bigger cabinet)
Hope you all have a happy and injury free season – play nice!
2014 Club Championship
This years club champs will again be your best from 11 races.
Mens: Open, MV40, MV50 5 races to count with at least one from each category
MV60 : 4 races to count
There is a change again this year with the Ladies needing to do any 4 races
Ladies: Open, LV40, LV50 4 races to count with at least one Medium
RACE DATE ENTRY
Bowland only Special M Sunday 23rd March FREE – Graham Lund for details
Causey Pike AS Saturday 29th March £5 EOD
Buttermere Sailbeck AM Saturday 10th May £7 pre-entry DETAILS HERE
Cautley Spout AS Wednesday18th June £6 EOD
Wasdale AL Saturday 12th July £10 pre-entry DETAILS HERE
Inbleborough AM Saturday 19th July £4 EOD
Weasedale Horseshoe BM Saturday 23rd August £7 EOD
Good Shepherd BL Saturday 27th September £7 EOD
Langdale Horseshoe AL Saturday 11th October £8 pre-entry DETAILS HERE
Great Whernside AS Saturday 25th October £5 EOD
Kirbymoor BM Saturday 29th November £4.50 EOD
ps I’ve not hyperlinked the details for races, please go to the web site to the champs page to access the ‘Details Here’ bit….. I blame technology and my unwilling iPad!
p.p.s the link to the web site IS hyperlinked, it’s on the right hand side of the blog!
Having written a draft and thought I had saved it, it is lost so I will have to start again and add a little more now that the bard has already posted.
As mentioned above the ladies race was over and done before the men even started. Mike’s car brought both the Bowland ladies in this race as well as 3 GhandOs tasked with looking after Zoe in the absence of her father. They took their role seriously and made sure Zoe was all ready for the off. The start was a few minutes late as the rain came down but luckily it did not come to much. As has been said, it is a hard race, aren’t they all but this one more so due to the high quality field. Up the road and onto the fell where I was overtaken by Sally Newman, eventual winner of LV50. Then the climb which was just too steep to run except for odd bits to try and catch those ahead. Still those who came past me on the stony track I managed to pass on the climb up big end. Then the fast descent before the sting in the tail coming up and across muddy slippery fields, chased by Jean Brown from Clayton. I just managed to hold her off but it meant no slacking right to the end.
When it came to the prize giving we stayed to the bitter end after the main race was done for the Lancashire champs where everyone in our car came away with a medal and Zoe the under 23 champ received a glass trophy to add to her collection. Finally Bowland are officially the best team in Lancashire, with the team trophy for the best 4 men and 2 ladies. Now where is our trophy cabinet?!
Race preparation for Rich is a tequila at midnight; so I’m just making up the numbers today, he says to me. Well I don’t know what to believe. Is it any better than Mike’s; I’ve done rock all except some speed training….yesterday.
They both look bright-eyed and bushy tailed with no hint of out of sortishness. Should I start alongside of them, behind them or even in front. Actually, I’m not having any such debate in my head, I’m getting used to this kind of kidology so I take my place behind them, way behind them.
On the way in to Barley I see that the Village Tea Room is closed again, I fear a little bit of England has disappeared unnoticed, soup and dumplings nonpareil and now gone forever.
It’s an English Champs race so it’s heaving with all the big names, and there’s a surprise winner this time, a new more youthful leadership to the fore possibly. It’s the first of the series so we’ll wait and see how things pan out.
We’re off, 340 of us, up this much raced road and it just doesn’t get any easier, does it. Sheesh, it’s a tough start, does anyone like it I ask myself. I feel alright for the first couple of minutes and then feel rotten. Here we go, started too quick so I ease back and let dozens go by me. Hey, that’s a GandO vest and it’s got Colin inside it; better keep up. It’s out and into the field, slowly pulling him back. The ground is very muddy and churned up with the Women’s race having gone before. I’m working hard up that first long runnable pull, except I’m walking it, just haven’t the strength at the moment. The variety of terrain on this AS means there’s a lot of jockeying for position. Faster runners give way to faster climbers who give way to better descenders and then the whole process is repeated again. Swerve is climbing like a demon.
I get my breath on that first downhill after a cheer from Gill and Andy. They wouldn’t have been hanging around Pendle had it been swathed in that grey smog of Saharan dust which had been hanging over it all week up till now. The night rain had settled it somewhat. It’s a small world isn’t it; sand from northern Africa nearly ruining a race in northern England.
Anyway, it’s to the bottom and then straight up the front of the Big End. Ben Grant, a rival, stalks my heels. I pull alongside Robert Paradise of Calder Valley. He’s heaving 14 and a half stone up this incline so I exchange a glance with him and get past. His look speaks volumes; aye, on you go, but I’ll have you somewhere on the descent. Slightly held up by climbers in front I pull off the line over into scrubbier terrain, it’s not as easy underfoot but it is quicker for me. Up and onto the top, change gear and run the short distance to the trig, around it and then the fast runnable all the way down. Sure enough, Robert thunders past, his large rugby frame hammering down the hillside, he tells me that his other interest is boxing, and I can believe that. The mud makes things quite slippy so no-one is running with complete abandon.
A variation on the route this time, we’re taken back up into the Stan Bradshaw finish fields. The ground is very heavy underfoot but it’s the same for everyone. I’m leading a small group so there is no easing off this last mile or so; into the finish field which is roped off in a kind of square and a few handbrake turns needed on the squishy counter-camber corners. A Pennine runner passes me on the line, bummer, just gotta get harder at this sport.
As well as being an English Champs it is also a Lancashire Champs race and Bowlanders do very well in the latter category:
If memory serves me right:
Mike and Chris R win first and second v50
Nick H wins v60
Phil M wins v70
Zoe wins u20
Rowena is first v50
Bowland also win the first 4 back
And Rich, well, he was first GandO back. Yes, he beat Swarby with that t‘killer instinct. I’ll have to look into this alcohol based training regime of his; maybe a few scotches for breakfast will have the desired effect.
I think we may also have got second v50 Team behind Borrowdale. With Mike turning out this year and Chris in such good form and the possibility of Clive joining the gang in the summer, Bowland might, just might, win this category.
some photos of the women’s race
New Dungeon Ghyll race
I’m quite a fan of straight up-n-down races and so have had the New Dungeon Ghyll fell race on my radar for a few years. This year it actually turned out that I was free for it and hence I found myself on a wet and gloomy Saturday morning handing over my £4 for four safety pins and a piece of paper with a number on it.
Strangely, the race doesn’t normally attract many runners; normally around the 40 mark. This year was no different, the field was 39 strong and (correct me if I am wrong!) I was the only Bowlander amongst us all. Excellent, first place in the club secured already! The race follows the path up Dungeon Ghyll to the summit of Harrison Stickle, before descending by a traverse first eastwards down a gully and then south-westwards under the summit crags. It’s a devious line that (so I was warned by the eventual winner of the race minutes before that start) is hard to get right. I was still confident; I’d studied the contour lines intensely and had all the key bearings jotted down ready for deployment should I lose sight of someone who looks like they know where they’re going.
At 11am sharp we were off, and within minutes I was glad I’d decided to take off my waterproof and wind shirt. I started off up the paved path in 4th place, trying my hardest to cling on to the position as we worked our way into the clouds. A few passed me and I passed a few, and others started emerging out of the mist who had obviously taken variable lines. I tagged on behind Mike Robinson and kept him and a few others just about in sight until the summit.
Mike soon shot off into the distance as a group of us worked our way down the steep eastern gully in more of a controlled fall than a run. We had a few moments on the path down to Stickle Tarn, before veering off right-wards to begin the traverse. The ground was grassy, steep and wet and therefore very hard going, as I discovered when I went sliding and bashed my knee on a sharp rock. With my knee throbbing and blood pouring down my leg, I thought it was best to slow down a little, and I soon lost track of those in front.
Fortunately, the traverse was soon over and I re-joined the path we followed up for the final sprint down the slippery paved slope to finish in 9th position in a time of 48:31. Mike Robinson won in a time of 43:16, demonstrating some seriously impressive descending!
Just to say thanks to Huw for sorting the river crossing. It comes near the end of the race and a quick recce demonstrated the slipperiness of the rocks. Conclusion, avoid them and jump straight into the middle of the river. Handy to be confident on that in case of a close contest.
In the end it was not too critical.
Earlier it was great to have so many orange and green vests ahead to chase. It is always highly motivating as is the encouragement shouted by the stalwart supporters of Pam and Andy Farmer and Saira on the summit. Thanks for being there in the cold wind. Glad you thawed out by the time you got back down again. 4 ladies in one race too, quite a novelty. Well done to everyone.
Great race and great cakes.