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Anniversary Waltz Fell race 2017

April 23, 2017

Johnny Giles – Johnny blooming Giles; how can you name a Leeds team of the ’70s and not remember him? Matt B has just gone and lost all credibility with Wayne W and myself. And he was doing so well. Oh, and he misses Paul Madely too.

And what relevance do you think Dylan’s Song to Woody has to fell running? Well I’ll tell you, its the best song on his first album in 1962. This is how Matt takes his mind off the pain of climbing Robinson. He recounts all Dylan’s albums in chronological order and names the best song from each. It may be fell running, but not as I know it. He gets all the way to 1974; presumably he realises he’s at the top and has to think about the race again; v v strange!

I wonder what Chris A thinks about? Am I going the right way; where is everybody; what’s for tea tonight. At Kentmere last year, Chris was a close second to Morgan Donnelly; today he’s a good five minutes ahead of the second man and Morgan is third; such is his progress. I can only say that its quite remarkable. Talented, naturally, but I know that he trains blooming hard too. Its a devastating combination, and brilliant that its in GandO colours.

Another brilliant combination is the management and organisation of a busy, busy race day at Stair. Wynn tells me there are a thousand people here. Between the junior Wa! races, The Waltz and The Teenager this event has transmogrified into a monster. Bowland’s finest have stepped up to the marshalling plate and its a shame I can’t stop and natter to some faces I haven’t seen in ages. Stuart F at Hindsgarth for one and Andy Crook a little later – oddly, both take the mickey for some reason – as does Duncan. That’s right lads, take advantage while I’m bright red in the face and lactic acid is coursing through my system. I can’t think of witty ripostes to any of them, oddly.

Actually, I have a decent run again, just over two hours on this glorious April day. You couldn’t have asked for a better one; wearing my helly is superfluous. I even manage to find that little right hand shimmy off of Cat Bells that Yiannis told me about some years back. Okay, it saves only five seconds but it breaks that elastic band with the guy who’s been on my shoulder for a while. And that last mile is a fast, fast down hill at a lovely gradient.

Andy and Pam are time-keeping the finish and give me a great cheer; heyoop Dec, great run, well done; Chris got here half an hour ago.

Half a bleeding hour ago!

I jump into the icy mountain stream to cool down a little and get some of the muck off.

James Bailey; I don’t know why I keep on calling you Michael, James; has another good race. I think he’s another talent just waiting to take the sport seriously. Think he finishes somewhere in the 20s.

Mark Chip has a tussle with Darren F on that final slope. Tom and Dominic are here too and so is Paul W. Dominic tells me he has an entry for the Etape de Yorkshire in May which he can’t use and wants to know if anyone else is interested in it?

Btw, a certain Aaron Walmsley is trying desperately to join the club. Have you had his details yet Lee?

Thanks Wynn, thanks Steve; thanks for the hot meal afterwards, much appreciated. And thanks to all the people you muster to support and organise the day too. It should be bedlam but its far from it; that takes special skills and leadership. I hope it all went to plan and that you enjoyed it as much as us runners – who have the easy job of just getting to the start line.

2017 AW Result                                                               2017 TWA Results

Sophie looking much too fresh




The Donard Challenge 2017 – British Champs

April 10, 2017

Declan and Chris

Doing this race was really about meeting up with an old friend in Belfast and conveniently wedging in a race up a mountain just a few feet short of 3,000.

There is a modicum of club interest in this British counter as there are two Bowland runners taking part and one of us is a special talent; but that’s enough of me.

Slieve Donard is Northern Ireland’s highest peak; part of the Mourne mountain range in Newcastle, Co. Down.

The last time I climbed up a hill in this area was with a group of thirty from school back in ’76. Somehow four of us, two boys and two girls, got ourselves detached and took the wrong way down off the slieve we’d climbed and arrived back to base hours after everyone else had returned. The bus had gone and a car had waited back for us. In holy, catholic Ireland I’m afraid everyone jumped to the one conclusion; the wrong one as it happens, says I regretfully, as I really did fancy that bonny lass Carmel. The car journey back was made in a stony, pious silence.

After all the horror stories of this race in 2014 and not being able to recce the route beforehand I spend ages looking at the map. My old mucker, never having heard of this hill running sport thinks I’m being a bit precious about it all. And the price of him putting me up for a few nights is to have a round of golf with him the day before. I’m rubbish at that too but the ‘crack is mighty’ as they say.

Its not till he and his wife are approaching Donard in the car that they begin to understand the scale of what fell running ‘eejits’ do. Have you got a warm coat and a warm hat; you’re not going up in shorts are you; why are you doing this; have a go at yoga instead.

The day is bright and sunny but there’s still a chilly sea breeze. And all the runners are in singlets and shorts as its a first class day for a race of this import. Most of the top runners are present; and yes, one of them is our own Chris. This is really going to test his mettle in a different way. There is a bit of flat running at the start and end but its all about the up and the down; especially the down. This will be a descenders race I think.

When we arrive in the car park we see the ever upbeat smile of Darren F. And for a great description of the course you should read what he’s written on the Fellrunner Forum.

Eighty percent of runners here are English; most faces are familiar but its a slightly more competitive field being as its a British Champs. Chris is a definite contender to win but it is going to be very close. He’s getting a name for himself is Chris; Steve Smithies asks me where that young fellow has sprung from out of the blue; he’s winning a lot of races, isn’t he?

I say to myself that finishing top half will do me right, and I’ll have to work hard to manage that.. After the first runnable two miles, its just a head down painful walk, run, walk, walk to the top and then walk some more – about forty minutes of it. Then its a rocky, boggy, technical descent all the way to the bottom again. Oh to have more bottle than I’ve got.

I meet Chris descending, he’s in second behind Tom Addison, some ten seconds. I give a weak shout, any distraction could end in injury for him. The top five spots are keenly contested but Tom stays in front to the end and Chris finishes second. Yet another outstanding performance from our man. Yes he’s good at the flat stuff; he’s even better at climbing and this proves he can descend with the best too. Take a look at the splits – checkpoints 2-3.

He comes up to me after the race and asks me how I got on; brilliant, I say. I just creep into the top half, goal achieved. My climbing is turning into my strength; same effort, just seem to be doing it quicker. Looking at the results I can see that Neil Hardiman was chasing me down big time, he’s good at that descending malarkey.

My mate Paddy quietly tells me that we won’t have that second round of golf after all when we get back later; methinks he has a different view on this obscure and quaint sport.

The race is organised superbly; efficient, friendly and professional. The false start at the beginning just giving it a nice touch.

Performances of note:

– Tom Addison; you can hear his effort as he goes past you in an out and back – almost squealing in pain

– our Chris; because he’s second and because he pushed Tom all the way

– that lass from Lagan AC; what gritty determination

Split Times

The two compadres – Chris, nuff said; Darren had a blooming great run as well


Pendle fell race 2017

April 2, 2017

Well, as it’s a club champs race it isn’t surprising that there are a fair few GandOs here for this race. There are quite a few new faces too, welcome to you all; club membership seems to be increasing all the while, doesn’t it Lee?

Most of you will be familiar with this four miler; out along the road for a mile then up the north-eastern flank of Pendle, down the drovers track and up the sheer face of Pendle again to the trig. From there its a fast ten minute descent to the road again and retrace the road back to the finish. But it’s not easy, these short ones never are; unless you’re club talisman Chris Arthur who storms home in first, a minute clear of any rival.

His training’s going well then. He tells me that his ascending is his strength, only the slippy surface of the second sheer climb preventing him running the whole way up it. That takes some doing in a race; the rest of us ordinary folk can only trudge the whole thing, physically wiped out and incapable from the first climb.

To be honest, my climbing is surprisingly good today. I even get to the trig before Graham Schofield and Leigh Warby. But that’s where my self satisfaction comes to an abrupt halt. Graham whizzes past, he obviously trains hard at keeping his tempo up when he crests a hill, its blooming hard work but the rewards in a race are obvious looking at his form. Leigh eventually catches me near the bottom and then puts thirty seconds between us on that mile stretch of a road, damn and blast. Any late race hardness I once had has disappeared. As a matter of fact three or four people run past me, how annoying. And I’m not throwing up at the finish; I just don’t want it bad enough, do I?

Warby has a stormer, even catching Dave Nuttall on the run in. Pauline was describing in minute detail how they recharged their flat car battery at Booths to get here; it was touch and go. Now, thanks to Pauline, I’ll know exactly what to do if ever I’m faced with a similar situation. Anyway, obviously Leigh performs well when stressed out just before a race; never mind all that ‘focus’ and ‘in the zone’ nonsense.

I miss most of the prize giving but Bowland pull in quite a few as this race is also a Lancashire League counter as well. So Chris and Rowena go up twice for their prizes and Terry Houston wins something in his v60 category. Nice one peeps.

Good performances from Michael (of Chipping café fame) finishing 33rd I think. Not bad for a devoted cyclist about to take up a role with an American pro team in Europe.

And Dominic continues to improve as well. He’s got himself a berth out to Cantabria in northern Spain training a group from the army. Apparently there are really good cave systems in that area – and a 1,000m col for him to cycle up as well.


Stand out performances:

Chris Arthur (of course)

Graham Schofield (again)

Leigh Warby; on fire

Rowena; keeps on bringing home the silverware


Next race is the Donnard Challenge in N Ireland next Saturday. It’s just Chris and me from Bowland for this British Champs race I think.

Most of you I reckon will be at Coledale though; a beauty by any standard.

Stan Bradshaw Fell Race 2017

March 5, 2017

The forecast was awful but the day is great; how do they get it so wrong sometimes with all this technology. And they are so adamant and arrogant about their forecasting; especially the non-meteorologists brought in as a bit of eye candy.

So at the start line for this fast nine miler the 240 runners are dressed in full winter gear all the way through to singlet and shorts. The ROs are pretty relaxed about things though. I’m wearing a pair of gloves and a helly both of which are ultimately unnecessary. The lass from Galway changing next to me is in full winter survival gear. I get to meet club newbies Matt Bourne and Steven Cartmell for the first time. Welcome aboard gents, you’ll definitely enjoy your fell running in the orange and green of Bowland.

We’re in picturesque Barley at the northern end of Pendle Hill; witch country. I note that the Log Cabin café has beef broth and dumplings on the menu; wheehoo, had it before and I’m definitely going to have it again, but only if I come in under an hour and a half I tell myself.

Setting off, it’s the usual route up to the trig, the long slog over exposed and boggy ground to Churn Clough reservoir; round the back to Stainscombe Dole and then we get to know who’s got the stamina in them with that long 15 minute pull back to the top of Pendle. It becomes apparent that I have a little more than most as I make up some places. I’m doing that well I wish it could go on a lot longer, although painful, clearly others are feeling it more. My problem is leg speed though, as in, I haven’t got much of it. Long and slow, that’s me right now, I need to vary my training up a bit; you race like you train, I can hear Mike Johnson saying it right now.

Anyway, over and down through the Ogden reservoirs, one lovely last steep bit and then a good mile or so through stodgy, slippy, cow fields to the finish. It’s so much better than finishing on the road.

1 hour 29mins 19secs.

Yippee, Log Cabin here I come.

After washing in the stream with everyone else, I sit out in the sunshine enjoying my dumplings and get talking to a lady with her German Shepherd. The breed ranges from insipid all the way to ‘don’t mess with me’ wolf looks and tendencies. Hers is a beautiful 6 year old bitch with a wonderful attitude to humans. I tell her as much. The conversation then goes on about how uncanny it is that dogs take on the personalities and looks of their owners. Funny that.

I wander back to the village hall to see the prize giving; Rob Hope got first, easy pickings for him with this field of runners. Al Heaton’s son finishes a creditable 14th, nice one.

Looking at the finish list I get speaking to a gent with a Germanic accent, he’s from Monchengladbach in the north west of Germany. It’s a happy coincidence as I lived there for two years as a youngster and was (am) a keen fan of Borrussia Monchengladbach; Netzer, Heynckes, Kleff and Berti Vogts were my boyhood heroes. He left there in ’73 and came to work in Huddersfield; and loved it. His contract ran out and he moved over to Belgium, which he hated. He got an opportunity to move to London and the company he was with transferred him up to Liverpool thirty years ago. He ‘s a member of Newburgh Nomads and has done his BG.

As usual, but in no way taken for granted, many thanks to the organisers and marshalls. Its all done in typical low key fashion and all the better for it.

Notable performances:

Oliver Heaton, Preston, 14th place

Chris Davies, Saddleworth Runners, v60, 40th place

Dave Tait, Dark Peak, v70, 115th place

Mick Green, Horwich, pacemaker instal, 107th place



Photos set 1…lZUHNfcjZBUHdn

Photos set 2…NraW5oRFNTaWlR


All the way from Monchengladback via Huddersfield – Fred Duenbier



In memory – on Pendle


Bleasdale Circle 2017

February 22, 2017

What a bunch of skinny belinks are on the start line of this race. Steve Swarbrick and Chris Arthur are blessed with size zero’s and then there’s a bunch of GandOs who must have shed a couple of stone each since I saw them last; Paul Neild, Mark Midgely, and Dominic were the obvious ones. That’s nearly a whole Ann Holden right there.

Anyway , the chat is about whether or not the 12 year old record set by Lloyd Taggart will go today or not. The scintillating form of Chris A and the conditions make it a possibility. Steve S is no slouch either and the mercurial Sean Bolland is here too.

The ladies who organise us all and who must be obeyed are doing the club proud; I find that a woman’s touch at these events adds so much to the spirit of a race, it gives it a completeness; that’s probably me being silly.

But the boss for today is our very own Leigh W. If he’s in charge then it’s going to be fine. And it only goes so well because of all the preparation he puts into it. His charm is that he’s the last to consider himself good at it. Leigh, you’re a natch.

And being such a natch we all doing his bidding without question.

As I’m not running I’ve been posted to the checkpoint above that 300 year old farmstead. Ruth is there too and muses at all the goings on over the centuries. Well, I don’t think a lot has actually happened but I stand to be corrected by any local historian. It’s just that out here on the remote flanks of Parlick Hill there doesn’t seem a right lot to inspire any real mischief. Many centuries before though the Druids who assembled in the woods of Bleasdale Circle may have been up to human sacrifice or dancing naked or drinking mead or stranger still, running over Parlick Hill (which translates as Hill Hill Hill, saxon, norse and English so Duncan tells me). The solstice alignments made it a special place for them.

Before a brief resume of the race itself and to focus on a true GandO; did you know that Wynn the Mancunian is a right mishmash of various nationhoods. An English grandmother (a general’s daughter no less) who married an Indian – unheard of at the time – and also Irish and Spanish from not so long back either. Its no wonder she’s difficult, err, feisty. A more generous and giving person you’d travel a long way to find. And she introduces me to her granddaughter whose name I can’t remember, who is moving to Stoke to look after 480,000 chickens. Richard D, please confirm that this is possible for I can be quite gullible.

Anyway to the race; Leigh sets them off and within 50 yards Chris has already opened a gap; they then disappear from view. I dawdle for a while in the village hall and leisurely make my way up to my checkpoint – only just in time as Chris hoves into view and descends like a rocket. He shouts Hi Dec like he’s not really trying but he tells me after that he was pushing himself; he’s four minutes ahead of second placed Steve in this field of 94. And he takes the record by 30 seconds. Its just a great piece of solo running.

Other notable things:

  • Sean Bolland is looking quick; is this the long awaited comeback
  • Kieran Carr falls over on a descent witnessed only by myself; its okay Kieran I won’t tell anyone
  • Paul Walsh has a deceptive lack of speed going downhill; it took forever
  • The very last runner was a young athletic looking man doing his first and very last fell race. He didn’t know what hit him
  • Colin W’s weird fatboy bike. A thing of beauty in its way.
  • Quentin Harding appearing on that TV programme on the Lakes last Friday evening. Fair put me off my beer it did.
  • Some great veteran performances: Graham Schofield again v60, Kieran Carr and birthday boy Dave Tait – both v70s and Karin Goss fv65
  • This Saturday is our annual Do; with a ceilidh and some grub. be there or be square.

Click here to download results.

Race winner Chris Arthur receiving his prize from Terry Houston and Leigh Warby


Look who I found, happy new year Darren.


That farmstead


Wadsworth Trog 2017

February 5, 2017

It’s my first race of the year and it’s another visit to the Calder Valley – Hebden Bridge itself. The steep and narrow roads require caution and care so it’s not surprising to see people are driving so many small cars to negotiate them.

Limbering up before the race, the decision to wear shorts does not seem the wisest one, although not to wear any would cause more of a stir. The wind chill makes it feel like zero degrees and though there’s no rain, getting wet is certain.

I speak with Calder Valley runner, Gavin Mulholland, about the best way of getting to Belfast for the Slieve Donnard race and he gives me a few suggestions. And then this guy, who will finish fourth today, tells me oddly how he hates racing, fullstop, with a passion. He just puts too much pressure on himself.

Nineteen miles of hillocky bog lie in wait on the moors between here and Haworth; with moor trudging overload, cramp is almost certain. A few three hour sessions on benign Pendle in the preceding months are not going to be enough but you’ve got to wade in somewhere – so here I am. Start slow, get to the midpoint like I’ve not done anything, enjoy the second half; fat chance.

The field is stretched at a very early stage; led and won by the evergreen Rob Jebb.

I find myself running alongside the likeable Neil Hardiman of Clayton-le Moors Harriers. He tells me that two years ago on this one he felt the worst he’s ever felt after a race, even collapsing at the finish. The combination of cold, damp, navigation and knee deep difficult terrain make it particularly challenging. All that, and for a lot of us the first Long after a lay off, give it a little spice.

Sure enough, there isn’t a moment in the race when my legs feel light or right; three and a half hours of it. After half an hour I dally at a checkpoint and let Neil go on; he’s just taking me a little faster than I want to go and I’ve been there before – it makes the last five miles quite painful.

A patchy sun emerges and the wind drops to a breeze but I keep my cag on all the same. Among the half dozen running alongside are a trio from Bingley sticking together; these guys will be my pacers and guides all the way to the finish. Its always a relief when you realise that today you don’t have to rely on your own sketchy nav skills; especially on that final interminable third over Wadsworth Moor where the path runs out; several runners overshoot the slight jink you need to make and I can see them up on the horizon a few hundred yards away. On spotting us they make the traverse around but its taken a lot out of their legs and they never catch back up.

Its heather and bracken and up and down and bog and knee deep cow sludge and finally, finally the end comes long after you expect it. The end to a punishing, leg mincing course – its got to have done me some good. Not many partake of the cold shower on this cold day but I brave it out to remove some but not all the caked on mud; stern stuff you see.

In the pavilion the organisers and tea ladies are just brilliant; people are sitting around outside which can’t happen very often at this time of year at this elevation. An Aussie couple are here with their very young son; she has done the run and compares it to trail races in Perth – well there is no comparison. Every step she took was into the deepest part of the puddle, this terrain being so unfamiliar. Anyway, she picks up 5th Lady so well done that Sheila.

On the plus side for me, I think I got around unscathed insofar as no pulls, no strains, no obvious joint aches; that’s massive that is. Probably tempting fate by even mentioning it but there you are.

Next race up is our own Short – Bleasdale Circle.

Nine Standards Fell Race Report. 1st Jan 2017.

January 2, 2017

Don’t panic you can put your dictionaries to one side, this race report is from a less able reporter. Hope you don’t mind but this is more of a tabloid read than the usual standard we’re accustomed to from the bard. As Dec wasn’t at the race thought I ought to say a few words as I’m pretty sure the man making Bowland fell running history will be far too modest to give his account of events.

Nine Standards is a long way off being a classic fell race, way too much tarmac and with a gradual gradient that forces you to run on the ascent, barely steep enough for much if any walking, it’s an out and back so the descent not steep enough to let gravity take over, it’s a hard slog all the way. My mate Allan Miller accurately described it as a race that if it was at any other time of year you’d give it a wide birth. For many it’s become a bit of a tradition, the first meeting of the year with old and not so old fell running friends and of course opportunity to make new friends. It’s a return to competition in a new year and hoping to maybe, somehow, miraculously run stronger and faster than previous years. There’s a good turnout this year 150 we’re told, probably the superb weather that’s greeting us today. I meet an old friend, Paul Tuson, we chat about the good old days, Paul was the winner of the first Nine Standards race “back in the day”. Paul hasn’t run for some years and talks about his new passion, cycling sportives. He’s here today to marshal but confesses he is really here to enjoy the atmosphere of his local fell race. I introduce Paul to Chris, letting slip that I think Chris could be today’s winner, naturally this raises eyebrows amongst the locals particularly as previous multiple race winner and record holder Carl Bell is here. Carl’s a firm favourite in the area having run for Howgill before joining Keswick.

As we assemble on the start line there’s the usual buzz of runners chatting, New Year greetings are being exchanged. I head over to Chris to eagerly report what I think is a gem of information, a few minutes earlier I’d overheard someone asking Carl if he might break the record today, Carl laughed the suggestion off and said it was more likely to go to the in form Chris Arthur, I dutifully relay this information to Chris. Carl comes over to greet Chris, I’m an onlooker privileged to witness this meeting that is so typical of our sport, mutual respect and friendship, such is their humility I imagine the two of them arriving at the finish line together saying to each other “you go first”. It is though a sharp contrast to the contest to follow where both will give their all and win or lose it doesn’t really matter, there are no big egos here, it’s a sport where everyone’s a winner with each runner giving it their best.

As the race organiser gives final instructions he beckons towards Victoria Wilkinson and Carl reminding them that there’s £50 on offer if either of the records are broken,” the conditions will never be as good” he says, Carl looks uncomfortable and nods towards Chris, the organiser seems to almost begrudgingly acknowledge Chris as “the little feller”. Chris doesn’t appear to be fazed by this, though does comment on not feeling great, I wonder if the weight of expectation is having an effect. I apologise for piling on the pressure and suggest he just goes out and enjoys his run, I’d hate to inadvertently put the mockers on his race before the off, that is of course a technique I usually stoop to delivering intentionally to my number one rival. Chris is made of sterner stuff, I needn’t have worried.

We’re off and typically I’m passed by too many runners in the first few hundred yards, but hold back and remind myself of the hour plus of hard running ahead. Mark Irvine is soon out of site, Doug Love comes past me like I’m stood still and steadily moves away. As the race settles down I feel like I’m holding my own, one or two overtake me and I ease past one or two. As we climb towards the summit Chris returns looking great, we both greet each other with words of encouragement. Chris has a huge lead over Carl, a win looks certain it’s all about the record now. Mark bounds by as does Doug not far behind, why is it they look so fresh? As I make the turn round I see Dominic not far behind and looking good. The descent as expected is relentless hard running, as we hit the tarmac I no longer need to have my eyes fixed to the ground, there’s an opportunity to view the panorama, what a view, distant snow capped Lakeland fells, Cross Fell, Wild Boar all looking at their best lit up by the low winter sun and brilliant blue sky above, I feel almost tempted to stop or slow down and enjoy the stunning view and then a little guilty as I resume race mode, I must come back to this area for a training run and take time to enjoy the fantastic views.

I arrive back in the village a minute or so quicker than a couple of years ago, I feel I’ve put in a decent shift that must count as a great bit of winter training and hopefully pay off in the season to come.

Meanwhile it’s the usual chatter with rivals and exchange of similar race experiences, I meet Dominic and we both wonder how Chris went on, we think we catch sight of him and then see a cloud of smoke blowing in the wind confirming his approach, having a quick vape, I think it’s called. I excitedly ask how he did, “record broken by 50 seconds” he quietly and calmly replies, I’m not sure I hear him right, probably since his calmness doesn’t match the significance of his words, he goes on to say how he went out hard and built up around a two minute lead on the climb knowing that Carl’s outstanding descending could win him the race, in the end Chris won comfortably.

So Chris picks up the 1st prize, the organiser hesitates as he calls Chris to collect his prize, no doubt still shocked that the local hero has been beaten. Chris is £50 better off, I try to find him afterwards and let him know that it’s a Bowland tradition that anyone breaking a race record buys the drinks, I’m too late he’s gone and no chance of me catching Bowland’s record breaker.

Mark and Doug both have great races, marvellous to see. Dominic’s not far behind me and has a bit of luck, he was the first to be called for a spot prize, on hearing the organiser call his name Dominic looks puzzlingly and says “what have I done?” With a bit of encouragement and once he realised he wasn’t going to get a bollocking Dominic went up and collected his £20 voucher. Well done Dominic, rounded off a great day, one that I’m sure I will look back on in years to come when I reminisce about the good old days.

For the record Victoria Wilkinson comfortably broke the Women’s record too.

Thanks to the organiser Paul Brittleton and to all his team of helpers that made the brilliant day happen as always you’re the real stars.

Leigh Warburton