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British Fell Relays 2015

October 23, 2015

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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.

IMAG1336Mark 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.

Full results >

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