Part of the Bowland championships this year is a special event on Sunday 23rd March.
* We’ll be starting at 11am at Langden Intakes (the riverside snack van in the Trough – SD632512).
* Runners will be set off at intervals, with the less fast folk going off first to give the faster folk someone to chase.
* Individual times will be used for the champs table.
* People are welcome to do it in a pair if they like (in which case you might get the same time if you decide not to outsprint your partner at the end).
Although the intended route is on access land, there are fences (particularly near the valley bottoms where trees have been planted) – but there are plenty of stiles which must be used. If you leave access land then rights of way must be adhered to. We don’t want to compromise the HVS race.
Some of the ground is rough, slippy and pathless if you choose certain routes, and the weather might be bad – so dress accordingly and carry the right kit to navigate, attract attention if you need help, and stay warm and nourished.
If anyone doesn’t fancy running and wants to help out with timing/marshalling then it would be much appreciated.
In 2013 Pam, Saira and I ran the Stan Bradshaw round. To say I had a mare is an understatement, without Pam and Saira I would have stolen Graham Lund’s bike at the marshall point above Nick O Pendle and cycled away. Subsequently whenever any run involving Stan has been mentioned, I’ve developed a twitch, so it was rather a surprise to me when I heard myself requesting a recce run be organised before this years race. Recce duly completed, refusals from Pam and Saira to accompany me (don’t blame them after the mess I was last year) and I sent off an entry. Clubman of the Year and Bat Chick Mentor, Martin Walsh text me a couple of days prior to the race to request I arrive early for a last minute pep talk.
We all met up on the car park and additional instructions for route suggestions were given. Spent some time chatting to Pam and Andy who were going to strategically place themselves a) Andy to help me if I came unstuck en route on the top and b) Pam to ”nag” me up Stainscombe. Martin then announced he was after a steady run as he was off to the lakes for some Joss training so he was happy to run round with me. Pam and Andy set off to cheer on the Bowlanders and we all got ready for the off.
An excellent turnout of Bowland Men at the start – numerous Green and Orange vests, wishing each other luck and good runs etc. Off we went, Martin encouraging all the way up that long road, giving me tips on leg lifting and relaxing, breathing and looking for an “easy” line. He allowed me a set time to get up Buttock then we were through the gates and on up into the mist. Across the top, round Scout Cairn and a MW trod through the muddy bog , where we came across a runner searching for his shoe, soon I spied the “dinosaur” looming ahead and knew how far I had to go. Onward towards Badger Wells and another MW cut through meant we caught up with a couple of fellas. Down to the point where last year I was ready for throwing it in and I really couldn’t believe the difference. Martin asked how I was feeling and I responded with “not bad” I actually felt good, but thought if I let on he’ll beast me and I knew I’d two big ups to go. Down and past the reservoir, through the gate and up the wall, across then down to the little stream and the haul up Stainscombe, then across the top again where I spoke 7 words to another runner which was the only words other than grunts I had been able to utter. Down to the last reservoir and up to Buttock for the last time; Martin was timing me on the allotted time, but advised me that a couple of ladies had closed a gap and he knew how much I didn’t want to be last lady (again!) So he beasted me up Buttock (sounds a bit wrong!) and then we just had the right turn and down through the fields. There they were, Pam, Andy and Lottie cheering me in. So pleased to see them, hugs all round then off to find Shaun, who wasn’t rushing to get back to the finish as knowing my time last year didn’t expect me back for about another 10 minutes.
Quick change and into the Village Hall for cake, Declan recommended the tea loaf. Plenty of smiles from a number of Bowlanders and talk of PB, next runs etc. Declan asked for the time the rugby was on and obviously I was brain dead as I told him, its 3pm tomorrow Wales and England, Stuart nudged me and said Declan?! The penny dropped!!
So that’s it now, Stan is not a Bogeyman anymore – thanks to everyone for the support and encouragement, special thanks for the Bat Chicks for the encouraging texts, Pam, Saira and Ann, Andy for offering to see me across the top and Martin for again, sacrificing his own run.
What’s next – what do you fancy Pam, Saira?
So, what was the main talking point do you think on this cool and windy day. Well, if you’re Graham, Swerve, Readey, Chris B, Colin, Ruth and Simon S, it will be, blimey, didn’t I do well.
Not me though. My talking point is why is the Village Tea Room closed at lunch time on a busy Saturday afternoon; hopes dashed of the vegetable soup and dumpling speciality followed by one of their outstanding scones. Graham, Tigger and myself rattle the door not wanting to believe the closed sign staring us in the face. It’s a bitter blow although a slice of the homemade teabread in the village hall did go some way to making amends.
Meandering back, Graham points out Tigger’s corduroy pants – a touch of class there Dan, and he got lost on the tops (taking him out of the top ten). A conversation while munching on teabread about the merits of Stiff Little Fingers and I’m thinking there are too many similarities with the author going on here.
A clutch of GandOs huddle at the start and I sense an air of optimism about them. It’s early in the season but there have been indicators of several moving up a notch or two. Sure enough, at the off I’m left trailing, the host of Bowland vests bounding away from me much too easily. Much as I want to, I can’t claw back the lost ground.
My climb to the trig is laboured, the run across the tops is difficult in the wind and mist, getting a shout from Pam and Andy going down to the reservoir provides brief respite on an otherwise tough day for me. No GandOs in view and runners are passing me as we contour to Stainscombe. Dashing past me now is the Bingley shirt of Victoria Wilkinson, a nav error putting paid to her race. She gives a sense that she is quietly fuming as a result of her detour and would we all mind just clearing out of her way. Her energy at this stage is wondrous though and in these last few miles she takes three or four minutes out of me; real class on the move and something I don’t get to see from a participant’s perspective very often.
Ascending from Stainscombe, Tigger passes me, went wrong he says. That aside, he is in great form. I bustle and heave my way across the muddy fields and stiles and finish, not exactly exhausted, but feeling I’ve run as hard as I can right now. I hope some better training gets me back some form. Cutting a forlorn figure on one of the gates near the finish is Darren F; a knee injury getting the best of him. Patience and restraint Darren or you could spend more time away from this game you love so much than you wish to.
Swerve, Readey, Graham and Chris B are waiting at the finish, they have all had stormers and not far behind me come Simon S and Colin who, I reckon, must have had me in their sights. They must sense a possible scalp in the offing so I’d better be looking to my laurels in the future. Genuinely, standards are raised within this group of GandO racers and I really think great things are coming. The v50 category especially is filling up with runners who could win things this year. Readey finishes second v50 to Mick Green of Horwich who is just blitzing it. Ruth mashes her previous best time with a little help from that man Martin W. Phil M had to abandon his race as he got completely disorientated across the tops in the mist. Finding himself on his own and not knowing which way to turn, he made the sensible decision to retrace his footsteps back to Barley. There’s always another race, Phil, keep your pecker up.
In the hall after, you can see the race appeals to the top runners; Hopey, Holmesy, Wilkinson, all here and sharpening their race form. Nav errors aside, they don’t seem to have very many off days, do they.
I leave before prize giving to soak up some of the atmosphere of Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll playing his last home game against an improving Italy. Why, oh why, is that man retiring when he can still do things that no-one else in the world can. He’s had some mighty games in his career; this was up there with the best of them. At least one O’D is on form today…
To check the Bowland Gallery….
some excellent photo’s posted from what looks to have been a wonderful day in the lakes this weekend. Well done everybody, hopefully a report will follow..
Miles and miles of gigantic pipes, rusting but still in use, presumably carrying water to the community but I never enquired, line the first half of the race. They must have been 10’ in diameter, straight up the hillside they go, two, side by side and then out along the tops for miles, as far as you can see. They’re beginning the process of replacing them – underground. How fantastical is that, you’re talking solid rock as far as I can discern, one for Duncan to answer, hey Dunc. The endeavour of Man amazes me; the scale, the notion, the engineering.
On the way home I look over to Colwyn Bay and see a monstrous wind farm, I wish they’d bury that while they’re about it.
Driving over a beautiful stretch of the River Conwy to get to the start, I stop to take in the beauty of my surroundings. Work had taken me to Abergele and I’d looked up the nearest race which was here in Dolgarrog; run by Eryri. It was worth the drive to just soak up this countryside.
Signing in just in front of me is Jackie Lee, in that case Lloyd won’t be too far away then; so we all know the winner now before we start. There he is in some striking checked trousers, over from the Isle of Man.
The RO warns of falling into some old ditch on the way back down, possibilities of being sucked into a vortex and being spewed out below – dead. It’s not happened to anyone yet though. But in the six years he’s run it there’s always been an injury. Oh, and can we say happy birthday to his dad marshalling the first corner. He got 62 shouts at the turn. His son, with a videocam strapped to his chest, chuckling away too much is the only one who doesn’t.
On this lovely day I enquire about kit requirements, none, I’m told; how refreshing.
Slight alteration to the normal route because of the work being undertaken, climbing out will go up a zigzag path instead of the steps right beside the pipes.
The route is 5 miles and 1700’, circular, just one big long climb out followed by a long fast downhill. I find myself tracking Jackie. She gives me a lesson in course management as she cuts corners here and there and hops over stiles without a pause; never losing valuable seconds at any point. We duck under the pipes to take a right angle and begin the homeward downhill.
No joy here for me. Among my peers, at descending I’m about average. Jackie, and the fast approaching Keswick lad behind me, are better than average. She edges further ahead and he goes past me easily enough. I don’t mind that as it forces me to concentrate and extend myself. We negotiate the lethal vortex of death without fuss. Actually, I think it’s only a danger if you’re slightly sozzled and visibility’s not so good; otherwise there’s nowt much to write home about. My mind’s wandering because the two ahead are disappearing out of sight in the woods and there’s no-one behind to keep me honest. I pop out onto a road and feel my hamstring tighten. I nurse it to the finish hoping it’s just a small pull and I can still do the Pendle Round next week.
At the finish there’s a lass with a video camera, a proper one. I go into the hall for some tea where some lovely ladies have prepared homemade cakes and sandwiches at 50p a round. Sumptuous they are and being St David’s Day I opt for the bara brith; it was to Dai ffor.
I go outside to see the finishing runners and unwittingly get interviewed by the camera lass who plans to put the race on Youtube. Back in the hall shortly after for prize giving I sit next to some lads who can’t resist the humungous sponge wedges next to the bara brith. It’s St David’s Day I remind them; is it, they say. Blimey, it has less of a mark on the Welsh than St George has on the English. I bet they all know when Paddy’s Day is though – strange that.
HIGH PEAK MARATHON 2014
It must be quite unusual for an HPM team to be made up entirely of runners from the same fell running club and even more unusual for such a team to win a trophy.
Back in November, a Bowland vets team entry was submitted to the High Peak Club and was successful. The team was made up of myself, Alan Duncan, Leigh Warburton and ‘junior’ member Neil Shepherd. With an aggregate age of 237 years it was the oldest team in the race by a large margin. A week before race day Alan withdrew due to a persistent injury and his place was taken by Ian Charters, lowering the aggregate age to 236 years.
Race night was cold, dry with clear skies to start with although later on we had some hill mist, a snow shower and sunshine. It was very wet underfoot with some ground frost. The Bowland vets team set off at 23:34 in what turned out to be an eventful night. We made a steady start and were going well but by the third checkpoint we lost the dibber…. with Leigh attached to it. Thanks to mobile telephony and radio communications, the team was eventually reunited but not before a long and anxious wait in the cold by the other three at checkpoint 4. Having found ourselves at the tail end of the race, we resolved to recover some of the lost time and stay in contention for the vets trophy. At the Moscar checkpoint we enjoyed the undivided attention of the marshals and on Derwent Edge we began catching up other teams. But the stress and the cold had affected Ian, who started feeling nauseous and weak. The rest of us did our best to help him and we made progress through the field without too much loss of pace. It wasn’t until after Snake that Ian felt better and by the closing stages some of us had to try hard to keep up with him. Our time of 12:18:42 was below what we had expected but all the same, we were told that we had won the vets trophy and that came to us as a pleasant surprise!
Following the presentation, a serious argument broke out between the team members, as no one wanted to take the trophy home. The impasse was resolved by the decisive intervention of the team captain, who instructed Ian to take the trophy himself and so hostilities ended there. I recall that some years ago a team member took that same trophy home and proudly placed it on the living room table but was immediately threatened with divorce by his irate wife! Marital harmony was preserved only when the offending object was unceremoniously transported to a dark corner of the garage where it stayed under cover for a year. Unsurprisingly, even the High Peak Club which organises the race, are aware of the problem and have included this warning in the race website: ‘Entrants are warned that the trophies are pretty big and not exactly everyone’s idea of beautiful’
Our sincere thanks to all involved in the organisation and running of this great race, the many marshals in particular, who brave the sometimes extreme conditions on the bleakest parts of the Dark Peak.
2nd March 2014
The Bowland vets team with the Rucksack club veterans trophy in Leigh’s hands.
Photo: Ian Charters