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Firth Fell Race 2017

October 1, 2017

Its the first running of this fell race organised on behalf of the National Trust by some young volunteers – not that the NT needs the money; I saw recently that they are awash with the stuff.

Anyway, this race is an eight miler with 1,400′ of climbing and, interesting for me and others maybe, its my first race back after injury induced absence and any training over the past number of months has been on my bicycle..

And boy have I done some cycling; 6 x 100 milers on six successive Saturdays. All of them up and down the Yorkshire Dales. You can’t beat it when its dry; when its wet its another story. One hypoglycaemic experience recently was less than pleasant.

It started as a pleasant enough day but gave way to a drenching wet and cold two hour ride from Skipton to Clitheroe. I noticed the cold taking a grip from Gargrave, ninety minutes from home, and debated the options with no-one to contact in the fading light and rain:

  • I could stop and seek shelter and wait for the rain to pass. But I figured I’d succumb altogether with being sodden right through and not pedalling to keep the blood pumping.

  • I could knock on someone’s door for shelter and call a taxi but I think modern society would not understand or take kindly to that kind of behaviour

  • I could keep going where at least I was pedalling furiously for survival and gradually getting nearer to home.

Opting for the last I struck a miserable twenty miles homewards in dire conditions, the shakes affecting my steering, talking and singing to myself and, oddly, an aching jaw, as if my teeth had doubled in size and completely filled my mouth.

At 8.00pm and two miles from home I punctured and was fortunate to be just outside Clitheroe Community Hospital. Its not a proper hospital but the doors were open and only the cleaner to be seen inside. With more than a bit of luck a nurse from Blackburn just called in to collect something. She fetched me a blanket and drove me home. I had to run the bath three times to stop the shaking.

So take it from me; goretex is only good up to a point. Persistent rain will will eventually work its way through and then the cold will seep into you.

I digress – apologies.

As I said before, this race is interesting because it may answer the question of; does cycling adequately compensate for running fitness when you are injured? I, myself, have always been doubtful of this. However, my yardstick this time is a good one, I’ve asked my friend and nemesis Leigh Warby to run as well.

Before my injury absence some months ago I haven’t been able to get the better of him in any distance so we’re both expecting me to be off the pace and lacking in race stamina. Well I can tell you now that I finish nearly two minutes ahead of Warby with a time of one hour and nine minutes. That’s sizeable, that is. We’re both left scratching our heads.

Is Leigh off form? Don’t think so; he’s not done much all week and he’s been winning races in his age category lately.

Did he hold back? That’s not his nature; on race day he always wears his tiger’s eye.

Okay, his Salomon’s don’t help on the flags and rocks here but my Innov8s aren’t much better either.

On the face of it, it seems that cycling can actually enhance your running performance.

Such is my consequent delight I’ve gone and entered for the Langdale Horseshoe race next Saturday. Yes, that 12.5 mile monster. Leigh is also entered for it.

So providing I don’t get lost or succumb to hypothermia or let work get in the way; Langdale will also be a pointer to the benefits or otherwise of cycling. I really am expecting my stamina not to last the course.

Comments are warmly invited from anyone on this topic.

Its good to be back.

Btw, I read an article half penned by one time club member and elite tri-athlete Marc Laithwaite on the topic of why runners generally don’t make good cyclists; v interesting reading.

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