Hi Declan, long time no see, you’re looking a lot better – these are words that no serious, advanced in years, fellrunner wants to hear. Lacking in speed and also in stamina all I’ve got left to fall back on is my power to weight; if that’s gone too, I’m goosed.
John Taylor rubs it in further at the finish of the race; you’re not as gaunt as you were. That’s right John, rub it in. This race has put me in my place, which is quite a ways down the field.
Leigh Warby continues the theme in the cafe later; have you seen Ian Holmes’ waist – Holmesy’s race was a stunner, a V50 finishing second and only just behind an in-form Carl Bell – it’s the smallest waist you can imagine, there’s nothing there says Leigh. He’s waisting away, I’m thinking.
Anyway, all this sizeist malarkey to one side and despite a beautiful day, Sam, the RO, has shortened the course due to snowfall; once over Wetherlam and along the col, we’re directed down the Hause, unfamiliar terrain to all us. The climb to Swirl How and the run along to Brim Fell and the descent off Coniston Old Man are denied us. That descent off Coniston is Holmesy’s speciality; I wonder if he may actually have won it had it not been shortened today. I remember him some years ago going over the top in ninth place and finishing in first; spectacular running.
Snow drifts, bog and boulders make for an entertaining descent to Levers Water; a few whoopsies and falls keep the walkers entertained. The reckless and over-confident among us are in their element no doubt, but I only hear of one broken wrist. I’m finding it quite exhilarating after the trials of ascending Wetherlam.
At the start of the race I’m feeling okay, jumping off the track onto the fellside I’m just behind Leigh, it’s then a ten minute climb to the first shoulder. My jauntiness deserts me from there; this is going to be tough. My legs are already heavy so I tuck in behind Nick H for a bit of a tow. Several times I fight the urge to overtake but only because I know I can’t sustain any push to get away. The lass behind me wants to banter about the views but I can’t join in and am only just hanging in there; I’m envious of her energy levels and I reckon she’s toying with me.
Leigh is out of sight half way up and goes on to have an excellent race. The new course plays to his strengths in many ways; grit and determination on the up and a graceful and confident rhythm on the tricky downhill. If you don’t believe me, watch him next time you get a chance.
Summit after false summit after false summit – Nick gets to the top of Wetherlam just in front of me. A bit disoriented with the conditions as they are, we take not a good line over to the top of Swirl Hause – a few unnecessary small climbs allow others to get in front of us. From there it’s a bit of a plunge down the diversion route, along the dam at Levers Water and then a rocky trail to meet up with the miners’ track of the race route and then the well worn route home. It is most enjoyable.
2000’ of ascent and 6.5 miles in all.
At the finish we agree that it had been a good decision to shorten the course, that descent off Coniston Old Man would have been treacherous. Me, I was quietly pleased not to have to scale Swirl How and race along the top; you’ll get there in due course says Warby in his ever-encouraging way. Well if I do get there in due course, Leigh, it’s going to be blooming painful.
I remembered all too well how manic the start to last year’s Jubilee Plunge fell race was, when I found myself bounding over deep heather covered in even deeper snow to try and get somewhere near the front of the pack. There was no snow this year, and I put in a sprint start to make sure I didn’t end up in the heather either. My start paid off, and I found myself at the front and opening a bit of a lead on the steep technical descent off the summit. This kind of descent has become my strong point in the past year or so, and I knew I had to be in front after this section to have any chance of winning.
Last year’s race was a bit of a disaster (albeit a rather enjoyable one). As well as being too slow off the marks, when I did find myself in 2nd place, me and the current 1st place took a bit of a detour up Moel Dywyll instead of bearing left down to Llangynhafal. As such, I etched an image of the turn off into my mind on the way up to the summit this year, and thankfully remembered to take it on the way back down.
Predictably, the chasing group started pulling me back after this turning, on the grassy descent off the open fell, but I was optimistic that the short stretch of road to follow would be to my advantage. It was good to see Yiannis holding the gate open just before the road, and in my attempt to slow down whilst smiling for his camera I nearly ended up colliding with the gate post! Fortunately I didn’t, and whether the road did indeed work to my advantage or not, I somehow managed to hold everyone else off to arrive home the victor. Tom Roo from Mercia crossed the line five seconds behind me, and Ambleside’s Chris Atherton a mere second behind him. I wasn’t the only Bowlander competing; Alan Duncan comfortably came first in the V60 category, even after a heroic outing at the Boxing Day run on Parlick the day before!
Old Fiendsdale social gathering whilst traversing swollen rivers and knee deep peat hags!
10:30 am Start for those of us not wanting to bust a lung🏃
11am start for the speedy peeps 🏃💨
Tea and Cake provided at the end (downside is fast runners will have to wait for the others as Pam is in charge 😀) ☕️🍩🍰🍪
Small donations for scrumptious delights welcome and will be going to Wynn and Steve’s MND tally. 💰💶
Try and make it if you can – elements of fun guaranteed if not just the river crossing 😳😁 🏊
Spread the word for those not on FB.
The little village of Barley must have had a bit of a shock when it awoke last Saturday morning to the hustle-bustle of hundreds of fell runners, friends and family occupying not just the village itself, but half of the surrounding roads and fellside. The organisers – Clayton-le-Moors Harriers, not shy of a challenge – had a task on their hands accommodating us and our accompanying paraphernalia in such a confined location. In fact, to much debate and some discontent, entries had been limited to 150 teams in lieu of this logistical challenge. The V50 category had been chopped out altogether on these grounds, which was particularly frustrating for Bowland, being it our most competitive category. Instead, it was up to us “young uns” to fly the flag and we had a Men’s Open and an LV40 team entered accordingly.
Mark Irving was up first for the lads and Ann Holden for the lasses. Unsurprisingly, Rob Hope was first back, but only by a matter of seconds (apparently he was fighting off a cold!) and Calder Valley’s Tim Ellis and Helm Hill’s Mark Addison were hot on his heels. Mark got us off to a cracking start and up next were Steve Swarbrick and Chris Arthur.
By the next change over – in fact, by the top of the first field after the first change over – Calder Valley had taken the lead, thanks to Ben Mounsey and Math Roberts. Steve and Chris had gone on an impressive overtaking spree for us, and we’d worked our way up into 22nd position. Rowena Browne and Sarah Sarginson had a brilliant run for the ladies and were 2nd quickest in their category for leg 2.
The race was neck-and-neck come the final change over, with Pudsey & Bramley, Horwich, Keswick and Calder Valley all arriving within seconds of each other. Sean Bolland and Andy Jackson had kept up Bowland’s top performance and it was now down to me to do my best to keep us in the top 30.
My legs felt great as I picked up a couple of places in the first few fields, but I soon became aware that the excuse I’d used to justify feeling awful at the Langdale Horseshoe the week before was still valid (and genuine!) – I had a lingering cold and I soon found myself wheezing instead of breathing. Fortunately, I’ve put a bit of speed work in recently and so the cold didn’t have the detrimental effect it might have otherwise, that came instead from me taking a wrong turn a few miles into the leg. I’d use the excuse of me being colour-blind, making it difficult to spot orange flags on green grass, but in honesty I don’t think there was a flag marking the right turned where I headed off left; the organisers had probably deemed it too much of an obvious turning to warrant a flag! In my defence, a chap from Helm Hill I’d just overtaken also turned the wrong way, but realised much quicker than I did. After 40 seconds or so of wondering why the path was slowly getting smaller and smaller, I decided to cut my losses and turn around, to discover I’d lost about five places in the process.
I regained a few places on the next mile or so up to the summit of Pendle Hill, and despite the inability to breath properly, I enjoyed pushing myself as hard as I could to catch up with the Helm Hill chap I’d already overtaken once. I nearly managed it, being only a few seconds behind at the finishing post. And, more importantly, I’d managed to limit the losses and keep us in the top 30; well, 30th to be precise.
The battle up front sounded very tight and Calder Valley came in victorious, with Pudsey & Bramley in 2nd and Dark Peak in 3rd, all three teams being within 1 minute of each other! The Bowland ladies put in an impressive performance with Jo Talyor and Rachel Sommerville on leg 3 and Jenn Hutton on the final leg bringing them home as 7th LV40 team.
A grand time was had by all at Saturday’s Bowland Special. This year’s Special was an adventurous journey through about 12km of finest Bowland, with around 700m of climbing. The huffing, pufffing, swearing, sweating and occasional running was naturally followed by lashings of tea and cake.
The five checkpoints could be visited in any order and there were some interesting route choices, generally resembling an extended Trough Skyline bat run route, with a visit to Brennan Tarn and valley. The intrepid Bowlandologists were:
Sam Harrison 1h40
Simon Sarginson 1h48
Richard Davies 1h57
Rowena Browne 2h02
Elliott Lorimer 2h04
Ian Roberts 3h27
There are some photos on Facebook from Richard and Saira. Thanks to Saira for supreme tea and cake making skills, and also to the sun for shining.
The participants kindly donated £20 for the fight against Motor Neurone Disease.
The map is here if anyone fancies a bash:
The day dawned
bright wet and sunny gloomy for the Hodder Valley Show at Newton-by-Bowland.
45 intrepid seniors and 10 juniors competed in the fell race.
Pics here ….. HVS Photo’s
The weekend before last, I made a bit of a spur-of-the-moment decision to have a crack at running the Welsh 3000s. I’ve written an account on my own blog, so to save re-writing it all, here’s a link for you: http://www.samharrison-ml.co.uk/blog/2015/07/running-the-welsh-3000s. Enjoy!