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Clough Head Fell Race January 11 2020

January 16, 2020
by Rowena Browne
Matt and Co were not the only Bowlanders out racing last Saturday and where we were, the promised gales most certainly did not wait for us to finish racing.
Indeed there were 5 Bowlanders out, 3 of whom came back with prizes. Also of note there were more Bowland ladies racing than men. Is that a record?
The forecast was such that the organisers made a wise decision to shorten the course and avoid the summit of Clough head itself. The route was flagged and used dibbers that were SIAC enabled. This meant that when you got to the control you did not have to physically put the dibber in the slot but just wave it somewhere nearby and it registered your presence.
On turning at the first checkpoint, I was nearly bowled over by the wind. My legs would not move fast enough as the gales tried hard to push me too fast. Similar winds on the summit of Clough Head would have been dangerous as we would have been blown towards the edge and potentially off it.
Still we all survived and enjoyed a great little race.
Prizes for Helen Ockenden 3rd LU23, Mary Ockenden 2nd LV60 (although looking at the results again today she is down as 1st LV60 as the previous first LV60 is down as missing a control) and John Taylor 3rd MV70
Well done all


January 16, 2020

by the McBourne

I like Ashurst Beacon. When on Christmas Day you’re sat polishing off a slab of Stilton the size of a breeze block and knocking back the Port like it was Um Bongo, you say to yourself “ah, don’t worry, I’ll be back again racing soon”. Well, Ashurst is the “back again racing” bit.
It’s not a massively challenging fell race but it’s a good loosener into the New Year. As my good friend Bill Beckett of Chorley pointed out; the last climb up to the Beacon can feel like a wall after you’ve traipsed five miles over the claggy West Lancashire countryside.
And being near to Cheshire, I Googled famous Cheshire residents and was met with the flowing locks of Harry Styles. Come on Google, don’t you know that Noddy Holder now lives in Cheshire? And we’ve just been singing his most famous song for the past month!
The race itself is a circular six miler with just under 1,000 feet of climb taking in farm tracks, muddy fields, woods and quite a bit of tarmac. You even get a bit of canal tow path chucked in. It’s certainly runnable all the way round, although my Bowland colleague John said that he walked a lot of the up’s before admitting later “I need to get fitter!” As The Carpenters so eloquently put it John, “We’ve only just begun”. Ages to get match fit for 2020.
Not so James Simon who storms his way to a very credible fourth spot overall. I mentioned to John on the way down that we live in crazy weather times; first race in January ran only in a vest. Last race run in November; ran only in a vest! Although the aforementioned James did seem to be having a wardrobe dilemma pre-race. I think I saw him in vest, long sleeve and waterproof. More changes than your average Strictly finalist.
The promised gales held off until after the end of the race, which is a bonus because the view from the Beacon across the Liverpool skyline to North Wales is impressive to say the least. So thoughts now turn to the next race, our own beloved Bleasdale in February. Although I may hold off on the pre-race Gorgonzola from now on in.

Tour of Pendle 2019

November 17, 2019

There it goes again. And I nearly fall flat on my face for no apparent reason. If anyone knows how to remedy what seems to be a trapped nerve atop the foot caused by the lacing on my shoe, your advice will be much appreciated. I’ve had it for years now and can’t seem to find a solution. Different lacing methods haven’t worked, nor has the Salomon lacing system. Elastic laces as Nick H suggests maybe? Anyway, let me know. 

Btw, don’t try and leave comments on here because you can’t; not till I work out how to switch the moderator status over to myself. And that’s easier said than done.

On Thursday evening a bunch of us, organised by Sam, head up to the Kendal Mountain Festival in the middle of Kendal. It’s a sell out and not much meat on the bones of those attending. We are treated to films and live interviews of mountain runners doing great things and star billing is given to our own, because you are Dazbo – kind of, Darren Fishwick. Anyway, he owns the stage and the audience with his performance but he would have done even if he just stood there and ate a sandwich. He’s just one of us foot soldiers with a quirky sense of humour and a dab hand at Northern prose; top job Darren. Sandie wins the £100 raffle, lucky chap.

But the funniest moment was yours truly at the bar trying to order a cup of KMF Rusable for £1. ‘A cup of your finest KMF for one pound’ says I. ‘Wot’? says the comely barmaid. ‘Your finest KMF’ I repeat and point to the sign below the beer taps. The chap beside me sniggers and I turn to see him and the comely barmaid exchange glances. ‘That’s a Kendal Mountain Festival Reuseable Cup for one pound’, she says. Honestly, my eyesight nowadays. I settle for a pint of Guinness.

Race day itself does not start auspiciously. The McBourne bows out with trochanteric bursitis, don’t ask me, but it’s serious if Matt has to miss his favourite end to the season. And then Rowena sends an SOS as she’s run into some debris on the motorway and its slashed one of her tyres – that’s her and Sophie F not going to make it either. 

The day is grey and mizzly but no wind and then the mizzle lifts. For doing this 17 miler the conditions are perfect and there are still a goodly amount of GandOs on the start line. Even though the temperature doesn’t get into double figures I regret not starting in a singlet only. The secret, as anyone who’s familiar with this course will tell you, is to get to Geronimo like you’ve done nothing; for this race does not start till the ascent out of Ashendean. If you’ve over-egged it before this point then you are going to suffer, end of. A case in point is going up the Big End where I encounter a young lad literally staggering backwards – bonked good and proper. Eyes glazed over he is in a world of pain. I give him a Jaffa cake and tell him to keep working through it. The Jaffa cake is provided by Dave ‘the legend’ Tait who’s marshalling the checkpoint at the bottom – he’s set out three plates on a blanket all with various goodies on them; champion Dave.

Yes, the course is a bit soft, actually knee deep in mud in places and a large stone loosed by the runner in front tumbles down onto my shin as we come out of Mearley Clough. As it continues down I holler ‘rolling stone’ which prompts a refrain of ’Satisfaction’ from the runner behind. Humour at that point of proceedings is laudable.

As usual, the Race Organiser, Kieran Carr, and all the CLeM assistants and marshals do a superb job especially with the added difficulty of restricted parking at Barley. It all goes ticketyboo and I know he’ll have fretted himself no end to make it happen so. We love you loads Kieran. I think I also spot the FRA Chairman there. Has anyone noticed that her name, Charmian, is an anagram of her position? A fine example of Nominative Determinism. I, myself, am waiting to turn into a Candle.

I spoke to Charmian at the KMF and what a good egg she is; we’re very lucky to have her.

So for all of our ten quid we get free attendant parking, a t-shirt, a bottle of beer and a run round one of the great landmarks in the north. And if you’re Leigh Warby you also get a winner’s extra swag to walk away with albeit he is run close by the next v60; only four seconds in it. A head to head like that after three hours of racing must have hurt, I bet. Well done everyone.

Some more notable points about this race; John G forgot to bring his usual pork pie mid-race nutrition and is slightly mithered by it.

Dom H is pale and nauseous and eventually sick at the finish and blames the gel he downs on the road run-in. Nothing at all to do with the scrambled eggs and bacon and avocado you had for breakfast then Dom?

Arnside race today for some of the club, good luck to you all.

Also, great result for Sam H at the Kendal Trail race on Friday. This boy is smokin’ right now.

If you are worried for the bonking youth staggering up the Big End, he managed to hold it together and get to the finish eventually. I saw him in the village hall and he seemed okay.

Dom, seated, and long distance Bowland stalwart Martin Hurst all the way from Shropshire


Myself, washing off muck in the cold stream at Barley



Rowena’s SOS



John ‘where’s my pie’ Graham in village hall after the race


John’s forgotten mid-race pick me up

Screenshot 2019-11-17 at 14.51.38.png

Dunnerdale Fell Race 2019

November 3, 2019

A huge contingent of GandOs take the field at Dunnerdale. And the lure of free beer means that every care is taken to fill the cars to quota. The answer to global warming is thus revealed – free beer will take 75% of cars off the road. Why has it taken so long to come up with the obvious?

But, disaster, the post race pies haven’t arrived. They’ve been ‘pie-jacked’ says Sean B. Free beer will not compensate a pie-jack.The gaunt faces seem gaunter and anxious eyes scan the horizon. They try to raise a ‘chopper but no pie-lots are available to fly it. Minutes pass and a cheer goes up, distant at first but steadily louder. Hoorah, it’s the pie van and a Praetorian Guard of fell runners escort it to the village hall. The pies are distributed in an orderly and solemn silence; the needy, the old and the very young first. But all will be fed.

Enough. The race…kind of.

It’s been said before and I’ll say it again; there are beautiful fell races and then there is Dunnerdale. Only the uncouth and the contrarian would say otherwise. The whole beauty of the Lake District encapsulated in one five mile race.

Of course, if, like me, you take a few seconds to muse and admire the surroundings, the majesty hereabouts is revealed. Unlike Nick H, who’s suffering under raised lactic stress allows no room for such weakness. Nick has a scintillating run that surprises himself mostly. And Crispin, who is himself in great form. A very good scalp to take.

There is also a very healthy changing of the guard at the sharp end of the club’s front runners. By Richard’s own admission ‘about time too’. Sam H leads the GandOs home just pipping Oliver H, then Rich followed by James G. Long may the contest continue. Several new faces at the club were present – a very warm welcome to you all and great to see the charming Simon Bennett running, all the way from Pontefract. I had the privilege of supporting him on his successful BG earlier in the year.

Prizes went to Nick H for v60 and John T for v70.

Thank you ROs and marshals for a great day out and in particular to Anna Lupton who carried out the principal role with great panache and humour – you were a credit.


Anxious faces scanning horizon for missing pie van

results to follow.

Bowland Ride the lights – Blackpool  29th October 2019

October 22, 2019
From Ruth Turner and Ian Roberts
Our annual “Ride the Lights” event is scheduled for Tuesday 29th October.  All welcome just come prepared – it can be quite balmy or damn “brass monkey” 🙂
We meet at Sainsbury’s Superstore, 80 Red Bank Road, Bispham, Blackpool. FY2 9HH – 6.30 pm set off.  Don’t forget your lights – see and be seen!!!  Post ride we adjourn to the Bispham Kitchen, 14 -22 Red Bank Road, Bispham, Blackpool, FY2 9HR.  

Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race 2019 by The McBourne

October 18, 2019

“Hands, touching hands
Reaching out, touching me, touching you”

Not that Neil Diamond is particularly my bag but I couldn’t get Sweet Caroline out of my mind as I scrambled up Stickle Ghyll. There was a lot of incidental touching of hands, not in the heavy petting type of way but due to the sheer volume of runners squeezing their way to Pavey Ark. You couldn’t avoid the odd friendly nudge here and there.

The Langdale Horseshoe is a chunky monkey of a fell race. Last year the weather was atrocious.  I didn’t do it but was on my annual Jolly Boys trip (see previous Screes Fell Race debacle report) and managed to walk from Wasdale to Styhead Tarn and back, so anyone who managed to complete Langdale last year deserves a big doff of the cap. Usually the form for Lakes races is the weather is great all week then terrible on race day. But following substantial rain during the week, we were promised ‘sunny intervals’ for the race; the one good day of the week.

A light shower greeted the start of the race but that was it really. Following those first climbs up and past checkpoint one Thunacar Knott, it was good running all the way. Despite Martcrag Moor being very boggy terrain, the views of Pike of Stickle and the upcoming race ridge from Bowfell to the Crinkles make it a somewhat enjoyable experience. I think I counted just one solitary case of AOT.

Tantalisingly scooting past an untouched Wainwright (Rossett Pike), the terra becomes more firma and gives you a good chance to increase that Jelly Baby intake towards Angle Tarn and the turn for home. I say ‘home’ but you still have the little matter of the clag and the “dreadful but right” runners trod under Esk Pike. Two choices; take your chances scuttling across slippy moss covered rock, or go calf deep (again) in sticky Lakeland mud, all nicely stodged up further by the couple of hundred runners already through. Or you could potter over the top but I didn’t see any takers this year.

I have fond memories of the route from Bowfell to Pike of Blisco from my Cumbrian Traverse in June. Good clambering to Bowfell summit, map out to take a bearing at Three Tarns before a tough grassy climb to Long Top. It’s a shame you miss out the other Crinkles although in severe weather I imagine it’s a very good option to follow the tourist path.

If I’ve learnt one important thing from running with Bowlanders it’s always listen to Leigh Warby’s route choice tips pre-race. Agreed Warby, there is no point in queuing for the Bad Step when you can shimmy down the ledge on the left. Granted my shimmying would probably plop me straight in the Strictly dance off, but it paid off as I landed in front of two runners I was previously behind.

It’s a welcome relief to finally be able to run full pelt between Great Knott and Cold Pike to the bottom of Pike of Blisco. Since Martcrag Moor there seemed to be a lot of time spent concentrating on mossy boulders. According to the race map, the descent off Blisco is the one place to recce beforehand; notorious for runners going AWOL to Wrynose. I hadn’t recced but was confident in my one mile at ninety degrees then sharp left ten degrees calculation. Bob on. All that was left was the gallop back into Langdale.

Back at the pub there was strong gaggle of Bowlanders. Nothing sums up fellrunning more than the sight of Paul Tierney dishing out the pies at the Old Dungeon Ghyll at the end of the race. Here’s a man who the term ‘legend’ doesn’t quite seem good enough. In fact I don’t think they’ve invented a word to describe Paul Tierney yet. Like many of you I had a tear in my eye watching him complete his complete Wainwright round in a little over six days earlier this year. Funnily enough John Graham also had a tear in his eye when he discovered that there was only cheese pies left by the time he came in at the end of the race. Let’s just say John had checkpoint issues. And I hate to tell you John but (adopts Gregg Wallace from Masterchef demeanour) “pies don’t get any better than this!!!”

Whilst stood in the car park field waiting to leave. I noticed that David Wilson was doing the exactly same thing as me. We were both stood silently looking at the Langdale fells in all their autumnal glory. “It’s a lovely valley” said David. I couldn’t agree more.

All together now; “Bap, bap, baaaaaaa, good times never seemed so good…..”

Langdale Fell Race 2019 by Oliver Wade

October 16, 2019


12.5miles ~4800ft Ascent 

Summits: Thunacar Knott, Bowfell, Crinkle Crags, Pike O’Blisco

“Strictly one pie per person!” – the only pre-race instructions given today as 400 odd runners bunched together outside the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel. The rain had just begun to fall, adding to my anxiety to get going, I weaved my way forward through the group until eventually coming to a stop about mid pack, not an ideal starting position, but not the worst either. Before I knew it, we were being counted in, 3…2…1 GO. I set off steadily along the gently undulating path to Stickle Ghyll. Unlike previous races there wasn’t really any major pinch point, so I was able to work my way gradually up the group until I settled down to a pace that felt comfortably uncomfortable, just as the route pointed upwards. 

The climb to Stickle tarn felt brutal. The cold was tightening my chest, the rain making the never ending rocky steps treacherously slippy and the occasional runner overtaking me knocking my confidence. Eventually I popped out at the tarn, where the route temporarily flattens. I wanted to ease off a bit, but was spurred on by some hikers deciding to run along with the group, determined to overtake them I kept on pushing. After and all too short respite on the flat it was back to the rocky ascent up the side of Pavey Ark and my pace retuned to a power walk, with the odd scramble to keep things interesting. As the rain finally stopped I looked up and couldn’t help but slow down to get a picture of the view over the Coniston fells, a beautiful, but brief break before returning to the grind and the comparatively disappointing view of my wet and muddy feet. 

As the climb finally started to ease, the fell opened out and changed from rock to bog. All ready wet feet became even wetter and my pace slowed as each step sucked me ankle deep into the soft ground. After a little push to reach the summit of Thunacar Knott the race finally turned downhill. My momentum built up, faster and faster, taking back some places I had lost on the climb I got into a real rhythm. I even managed to avoid getting waist deep in bog on the notorious Martcrag Moor. Continuing to bound down the hill I felt fantastic, I had no idea what kind of position I was in but I just felt good! 

Then disaster struck. I slipped, slid along for a bit and popped back up, seemingly no harm done and no places lost I continued downwards. Then I looked at my wrist. Hanging on to my paper wrist band was half of the dibber needed for the checkpoints. The other half lodged somewhere in the mud, back up the hill! I had just turned around to retrace my steps, when I heard another runner yelling out the exact same thing had just happened to him. We jogged back up the hill carefully examining the ground while trying to dodge the seemingly hundreds of runners that were flying down past us. It was a bitter sweet feeling to see I was actually pretty far up the field but knowing it would be impossible to get that back now. I seemed to spend an eternity staring intently at the ground, having to repeatedly explain “broke my dibber” to every concerned runner speeding past. Eventually my luck turned, my dibber-less companion and I found them, barely sticking out of the mud, god knows how not one of the passing runners had stood on them, pushing them deeper into the earth, never to be found. 

With the dibber stuffed securely in my pocket I set off, keen to make up for lost time, overtaking a good 15 people before the race once again went skywards. I gradually worked my way past another handful of people, but was all too aware I still needed to pace myself, there was no point in burning out now, still less than halfway round the course. The rest of the climb to the next checkpoint at Esk Hause was uneventful, aside from having to haul myself, waist deep, out of yet more bog, but it seemed like that was just par for the course today. 

After reaching the checkpoint I turned around and began the traverse across the slopes of Esk Pike. Wet grass, wet rocks, and a permanently off camber surface made for slow going across what initially looked like a relatively innocuous part of the course. Up ahead I could see the orange and green of another Bowland vest and with a target to aim for I upped my pace along the rocky ascent to Bowfell. Just as I arrived at the summit I reached my target. Now deep in the clag, and still unsure about the lines across the impending Crinkle Crag ridge, I was glad to be able to tag along with Leigh, known to my dad as ‘Claggy’ for his ability to navigate all the ins and outs of the fells even in the most confusing of fog. 

By this point my legs were heavy and I could feel my energy fading. I couldn’t tell you much about the climb to Crinkle Crags because honestly, I was just focusing on following the shoes in front of me. After hitting the summit, I headed off West to avoid the ‘bad step’ and began the amazing descent down to Red Tarn. The mist cleared revealing the fantastic views ahead and the grassy trod at the side of the path was a welcome break from the uneven rocky terrain. The gradient was just steep enough for me to let go, but not too steep that my legs couldn’t keep up. However, all to quickly the blissful downhill running was over and the final climb of the day up Pike O’Blisco was upon me.

Like usual, the final climb of the day is where my legs gave up and I was reduced to a slow plod, wearily putting one leg in front of the other, no longer trying to gain places, just trying to avoid getting overtaken. I reached the summit and headed off down, still tagging onto Leigh keen to follow his lines. Just as I was getting back into a bit of a rhythm Leigh darted off down a trod I was unfamiliar with, but I blindly followed anyway. I eventually came out onto a steep grassy ledge and before I knew it my feet had gone from under me and I was sent sprawling down a 10ft high drop praying for dear life that I wouldn’t break anything! To my relief, I bounced back up from the fall and was able to carry on, all be it a bit shaken up. Leigh later remarked I’d better sign a waiver next time I decide to follow him! I looked down at my throbbing legs and saw blood running down both, but nothing that looked too serious. I then looked at my finger and was surprised to see half my nail hanging off, with blood pouring out from underneath. Resisting the urge to gag, I carried on. I had planned to just nurse it home now, but after crossing the road at Blea Tarn I headed down the final bit of descent and couldn’t help but pick up some momentum for one final push to the finish. I clocked in at 2hours 55minutes and 37seconds. A time to be proud of, all things considered, but the satisfaction was tainted with the lingering feeling of unfinished business. Looking back on Strava I discovered I lost around 5minutes looking for my dibber. Enough time to comfortably bump me into the top 100, but at the end of the day I guess it just makes it easier for me to get a PB next time, and the frustration was nothing that a post-race pie and a pint couldn’t fix!