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High Peak Marathon

March 2, 2015

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The ‘Bowland Vets’ team – Yiannis, Alan, Leigh and Neil had a good run, finished 11th overall and successfully defended the Rucksack vets trophy which they had won last year.
The event is around 42 miles and takes place in the wildest parts of the Peak District. Teams of four start between 11pm and midnight on Friday.
There were 50 team entries. The weather started dry but turned wet and windy with a good bit of mist on the tops. Terrain and conditions were typical High Peak ones, wet with plenty of peat bogs as well as some ‘good’ running sections.

Bleasdale Circle Fell Race 2015

February 22, 2015

And confetti rains down upon us as; penned in the enclosure, the new RO releases us to the start line. Auspicious of something but I’m not sure what; and immediately Leigh sets us off the hailstones cease and conditions turn benign.

Prize giving is touching I think as Leigh announces the achievements of some of the various category winners;  Rob Hope could make this the season he wins the British – hope I’ve got that right – for the fifth time, overtaking the great Ian Holmes. And our own Quentin, having a fantastic run, is introduced as a World Champion and Mike J, a former English Champion, also starts the season well. Bowland also take the team prize with Mark Chip, Q and Swerve finishing strongly in a field of 130 when usually the race average is 70.

Pride of place goes to Yiannis though, its his birthday and it’s a milestone age I think – don’t want to incriminate myself with the wrong milestone, Yiannis, but I’m sure its over 21. And so we all get to sing Happy Birthday to this humble, remarkable man.

I have 3 helpings of the homemade soup on offer, well, I need feeding up. Winn’s spiced butternut squash hitting the spot in this outing in the heart of Bowland.

Bowland FR always has a great little spirit about it and its very apparent today with GandO runners and the lifeblood support crew turning out in great numbers and really doing the club proud. Jeez, it’s good to be a part of it. Not quite sure what the secret ingredient is but there’s a definite esprit de coeur -and corps; woes and worries of life in suspension for a while.

Newbie Dave Nuttall has a great run today, welcome to you Dave; have to find you a vest from somewhere.

My eyes fix on the bobbing tea cosy; that green and orange one that Saira has knitted. It houses beneath it the beloved bonce of Graham. Saira, I want one, how much? Or is it slowing him down, he should be a bit further ahead of me as we go through the farm after the marshy fields. Its early days yet though for him to find that turbo that was so evident last year. He’ll whiz up the steep climb to Paddy’s in a few minutes, Ali alongside him, and that’ll see me off. I’m glad of the change of gear when we do get there, it’s not that anyone eases off but it takes the sting out of that early burst. Halfway up, like Lot’s Wife, the chap in front stops to gaze behind and take in the views; rubbing salt into the wound heh, heh, he gets me back in the final field.

It’s a slushy, slippy run along the top but by Parlick the tea cosy still hasn’t shaken me off and I fancy my chances on the downhill. Your number’s upside down shouts our Secretary; not normally affected by triskaidekaphobia, Clive has put a doubt in my mind and tells me that this is what all riders do – take a look next time you see a race Dec, he says.

Anyway, I can’t catch the tea cosy downhill, he’s obviously been practicing. An ungainly fall near the bottom takes the urgency out of my chase and I fall further behind; have to try harder.

A great race on a great day; thank you Bowland.

The season has kicked off and there is a lot of optimism for our v50 chances. If today’s race is anything to go by, there is everything to be optimistic about. A bumper crop of quality v50s have come of age.

Cap’n Roberts is communications director and chief chivvier of our efforts for the English and the British Champs. It’s going to take a concerted effort from us all to come up with the goods.

Bowland Do

February 1, 2015


As you are aware the club do is booked for the 28th February at Bleasdale Village hall. The cost of the do is £12.50 which includes a two course meal and a ceilidh band.

Unfortunately, at present we only have 31 names down who have shown an interest in coming to the do. In order for the do to be viable we need at least 50 people to attend. If you were thinking of coming but, as yet, have not let me know, please either email me on or text/ring me on 07729199882.

I can only give it another week before I have to cancel the band so will wait until Friday 6th Feb before I make a final decision as to whether or not it can still go ahead.

It is a real shame that out of a club as good as Bowland that we cannot get enough members together to hold an annual event so please respond to this email ASAP to prevent me from being forced to cancel it.

Pam F.

Ps. I have put a list of names below of the people who have booked to come to the do just for your information.

Pam & Andy F, Wynn and Steve C, Ruth and Shaun T, Ian France and wife, Ian and Pat R, Graham & Saira, Rowena, Richard and Hellena M, Mark I, Dave & Julie C, Mark & Sarah M, Martin W, Anne H + 3, Sophie & Merck, Mike & Glenys G, Ian & Mary C.
Sent from my iPad


January 31, 2015

Wet snow was splattering on the windscreen at Garstang traffic lights. I asked Saira if she really really wanted to go all the way to Horton to get cold, wet and only half way up a hill, hoping she’d say “let’s go home and have tea and cake”. Unfortunately she was enthusiastic to face the wintry night so I pressed on into deepest Yorkshire.

The road into Horton was icy and the car park deserted when we arrived, but at least the snow had stopped and the sky was clearing. If nobody turned up I thought we would have a token run round the main street then head home via the pub to collect maximum points, but then Andy, Gill and Rosa arrived so we were duty bound to do something more adventurous. Gill had been trying to get Andy motivated on the way up, so it was our duty to make sure he got out and enjoyed himself.

We set off together, but soon split into a pair and a trio. Saira was struggling to persuade her feet to bend but they came back to life as we climbed Horton Scar Lane, which strangely had much less snow on it than the footpaths in the village. A week’s worth of footprints had compacted the snow and streams had washed it away from parts of the track.

We ran nearly all the way to the start of the climb proper, as the sleeping Pen-y-ghent loomed closer we slowed to a walk. We could see Andy’s torch a little behind and the fields of Ribblesdale shone a pale white around us, lit by the stars. A fat moon emerged from the clouds and Saira discovered it was possible to turn off her head torch and still see well enough to not trip over anything. In fact we left them off until the summit.

Lower down there was only a light breeze, so Saira thought it would’ve been a nice night for a snowy bivvy, given enough clothing and an arctic sleeping bag. There was more of a wind on top so we didn’t hang around too long to admire the view (for once there was a magical view to admire).

I thought a round trip would be preferable to returning from whence we came, so we set off down the new flagstones towards the crags. Well, slightly to the side of the icy flags actually. The rocks had some serious icicles going on but the fresh snow on the inside of the steps and ledges was undisturbed and surprisingly grippy. We descended with great care.

Our hands were getting a bit chilly with the slow progress and I was looking forward to getting running again down to Brackenbottom. There were more flagged steps to negotiate first, then the going got easier through the limestone and snowy fields lower down. The only other tracks were from bunny rabbits, who seemed to like staying on the path. We bounded down the hill back to civilisation and the car.

Then to Helwith Bridge pub for drinks and a natter.

2014 Champions

January 5, 2015

Here’s the results for the 2014 Bowland Championship, well done to the category winners – Mark, Chris, Ian and Rowena.

Mark completed 6 races and only Rowena and Rachel did 5 – you’ve got to be in it to win it.

All (Category Name  Races Total)
MS Mark Irving  6 287
F50 Rowena Browne  5 231
F40 Rachel Somerville 5 226
MS Graham Lund  4 196
M50 Chris Balderson  4 195
MS Sam Harrison  4 193
M50 Leigh Warburton  4 189
M50 Declan O’Duffy  4 187
M60 Ian Charters  4 184
F50 Ann Holden  4 172
M40 Shaun Turner  4 170
F50 Ruth Turner  4 159
M50 Huw Price  3 139
M50 Colin Whitaker  3 132
F40 Sarah Massey  3 129
MS Dan Clark  2 100
M40 Richard Mellon  2 100
MS Jim Turner  2 94
M50 Chris Reade  2 93
M40 Matthew Owen  2 91
M40 Paul Coope  2 87
M40 Ian France  2 83
F40 Sarah Sherratt  2 81
M60 Martin Walsh  2 79
M40 Mark Chippendale 1 50
M40 Paul Neild  1 50
M40 Steve Swarbrick  1 49
MS Elliot Lorimer  1 48
M40 Sean Bolland  1 47
M40 Alan Lucker  1 46
M50 Richard Davies  1 46
M60 John Taylor  1 46
MS Mark Saunders  1 45
M40 David Wilson  1 45
M60 Ian Cookson  1 45
F40 Emma Gregory  1 44
F50 Jo Taylor  1 43
M40 Mark Midgely  1 42
FS Saira Is-Haq  1 40
M60 Ray Pickett  1 37
M50 Stewart Forsyth  1 35
F50 Pam Farmer  1 34
M50 Andy Farmer  1 34

Open (best of 5)
Mark Irving  241
Rowena Browne  231
Rachel Somerville 226

M40 (best of 5)
Chris Balderson  195
Leigh Warburton  189
Declan O’Duffy  187

M50 (best of 5)
Chris Balderson  195
Leigh Warburton  189
Declan O’Duffy  187

M60 (best of 4)
Ian Charters  184

F (best of 4)
Rowena Browne  188
Rachel Somerville 183
Ann Holden  172

F40 (best of 4)
Rowena Browne  188
Rachel Somerville 183
Ann Holden  172

F50 (best of 4)
Rowena Browne  188
Ann Holden  172
Ruth Turner  159

Jubilee Plunge

January 1, 2015

“That’s second place in the bag” I thought to myself as me and first place sprinted our way along the Clwydian ridgeline. I was trailing the Mercia runner in front by 5 metres or so, and we’d both opened up a comfrotable lead on third and the rest of the bunch. Bar a catastrophe, podium finishes were ours.

The Boxing Day snows had brought a fresh powdery white blanket and that coupled with a clear sky and practically no wind made the walk up Moel Famau – for the start of the downhill only “Jubilee Plunge” race – an absolute pleasure. I’d opted for a Merino wool top and Ron Hill Tracksters, but was regretting not going for t-shirt and shorts. The good weather had brought others out in their droves and the summit was heaving, not just with fell runners.

The snow was soft which made my new(ish) pair of Mudclaws perfect for ploughing down the initial steep descent off the summit. I’d been caught off gaurd at the start but soon worked my way into second place, happy that steep technical descents still seem to be my forte.

Me and first place passed a path leading off left that I thought looked familiar, before we started working our way up Moel Dywyll. Of course, if I’d have realised we were working our way up Moel Dywyll, I’d have realised that the familiar looking path was familiar because it was the one we’d just walked up from Llangynhafal, and hence the one we should be descending. But alas, in the rush of the race this passed me by and it wasn’t until a passing walker asked “aren’t you meant to be going that way?”, whilst pointing at the stream of runners behind us making their way down said paid, that we realised we’d made a pretty embarrassing navigational blunder.

Some expletives were uttered (apologies to the passing walker) and we cut across the deep snow and heather to try and make our places back. We slipped (literally) back into the long line of runners and proceeded to attempt some awkward overtaking manoeuvres, awkward because we were now on a single track path bounded by more deep snow and heather.

The chap from Mercia (Tim, I think his name was) showed his strength and worked his way back to third place. My legs weren’t quite strong enough to go on such an impressive overtaking spree and I only managed to pass about ten people to end up in seventh position on the line.

The race was great fun and despite not being able to claim a bottle of wine at the finish, I was still happy. I’ll be back next year!

Wansfell Fell Race 2014

December 29, 2014

Hail, Caesar; no, no I’m supposed to be Jesus. Sorry, sorry she says, sorry Jesus. Two old sheets stapled loosely together and a sellotaped branch in the form of a ring on my head were supposed to be representative of Jesus’ humble robes and a crown of thorns but the comments I’m getting mean I’m being mistook for a Roman in a toga wearing laurels on my head.

You’re not taking this very seriously says a walker halfway up Wansfell. But I am, my legs are on fire, I tell him pax vobiscum and continue my way up. Trouble is he’s right, done up in fancy dress is an excuse to compete when I’m not feeling terrifically fit but at the same time want to push hard. And a glance at my heart rate monitor also tells me I’m not working hard enough for a race. Mentally I’m not able to take myself seriously dressed like this I suppose.

Anyway, this vicious little post holiday blast is supposed to attract a few in fancy dress, isn’t it? Then why am I the only one in fancy dress, out of hundreds. It’s like being at the wrong party.

Five minutes before the start a delivery vehicle inches its way through the milling throng of runners. Oh no, it’s from my own place of work and its Hanif behind the wheel. He mustn’t see me like this; too late, hiya Hanif; heh, heh hi Declan, should I ask, he asks. No, I say, dressed as Jesus and about to race up a hill in the ice – well, where would you start to explain that. I’ll be interested to hear what the stories are when I go into work next week.

I slip on the icy ground as we turn onto the hill itself, Jesus falls for the first time, I say out loud to no-one in particular. Is that you in a toga says Rick Stuart, I’m Jesus today Rick; oh, he says.

What is that over to my left; the two Rob’s are battling out the lead on the descent. That is going to be close all the way I’m thinking and if that ground is as ice packed as it is on the up then there could be a casualty. Incredible how far ahead they are of me on such a short course.

I’m passing a few of those who went past me at speed soon after the start; a chap in a toga/Jesus outfit can unsettle your race plans, can’t it. They’re going to suffer to the top now. Rhys is at the top and says, it’s Declan, well done. This potential winner of the race, had he taken part, always has a good word to say.

Turning at the top I pause to take in the scenery, it’s like being given a special treat you weren’t expecting. Emboldened, I turn to give my sermon on the mount; Friends, Romans, Countrymen – I thought you were supposed to be Jesus, says someone; yeh, yeh, okay,okay.

Now the descent at this point is quite tricky, I went a full thirty yards on my backside list time I did this, overtaking a few on the way even, but my rear end was flayed in the process. So I set off down not quite so gung-ho.  Actually the snow dusting does leave a little to grip on and with full concentration I make it down to the finish without any drama. I do hear a few yelps behind though as people take a tumble.

At the finish we gather in the sunshine, Paul N, Mark and Chris have had great runs, Paul taking the honours and Chris taking first v50. These guys have all transmogrified into whippets now, it will surely be an interesting season for them. Darren hasn’t done himself justice, could that be because he’s raced three times in the past week including the long Langdale Trail. His Resolution for 2015 is not to race so much – 112 in 2014 – I reckon that will last, oooh, about a month.

Mark bends on one knee as I approach, Hail Ceasar, I’m supposed to be Jesus. Darren F suggests Biggus Dikkus, which is actually very funny. We spot some young deer gambolling on Wansfell then make our way back to the cars.

In the end it was the triumph of Hope over the Jebbmeister in a neck and neck finish that entertains the watchers. First Lady finishes 10th, a young lass from Ambleside.

And back at the registration hall we all tuck into soup and a bun and flapjacks as part of the entry price of a fiver; value or what, and the organisers were all so pleasant as well. Thank you one and all.

I spend an hour or so looking round Ambleside afterwards, a  nice town spoiled by choking traffic. Wordsworth may have been inspired by wandering over the Fells and seeing the wild deer in this area but modern day living may well have stymied some of those creative verses.


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