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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.


Hodder Valley 2017 results

September 13, 2017

Thanks to everyone who helped at Hodder Valley Show fell race on Saturday. And congratulations to Jenn Mattison and Carl Bell for winning.

The full results can be found here. Photos thanks to Richard Davies.

HVS 2017

HVS 2017 c

HVS 2017 b

Helvellyn and The Dodds Fell Race 2017

May 30, 2017

The perfect bumbag still hasn’t been designed, says Dave Nuttall perusing the Kong stall at Threlkeld. Not tempted by the latest Inov8 offering he puts it back; it’s just missing that Pete Bland tightening strap, he says. Dave is here not to race unfortunately but to perform his duties as Marshal Monitor for the FRA. Well done, Dave, every little helps.

Its a busy day at Threlkeld for this AL, a busy fay of fell races generally. Elsewhere this weekend there’s been Jura, Weets champs race and Hutton Roof that I can think of; and Bowland’s been represented at all of them. What a gregarious lot.

Got to mention that standout win by Chris A at Weets; how good must that feel!

Here, on Sunday, we’ve got quite a few runners who did Weets the previous day; how do people do that; why do people do that. This sport makes fools of us at times. Carl ‘I said I’d never run two races back to back like this’ Bell, third at Weets yesterday, is here and wins this race again today.

And how about v70 Ken Taylor; Buttermere Sailbeck last weekend, Foe Edge on Wednesday and a Rossendale 10k race on Friday – and he clocks a decent time in this one too. Its a part of me is this running, he tells me in the changing room afterwards. Take it away and…well, take it away and…; he can’t finish the sentence. This former GB runner winces suddenly at a stabbing pain in his stomach. I say stomach; they took it out eight years ago, he tells me, I make the most of every day now, I shouldn’t be here.

Elsewhere, Adam Perry is here, he just missed out on the most number of peaks for a BG a week ago. And the lad who was trying for a double BG aborts here as we gather. Told you, its busy.

Its just Leigh and me for Bowland, we’ll keep each other honest today. That climb up to Clough Head is a tough start to this 15 miler and I am regretting the second vest I put on, the cool start to the day is turning into a surprise scorcher. Running over the Dodds looking west I can see majestic Scafell Pike peaking through a halo of cloud. Leigh says he forgot to look as he was too intent on keeping tabs on me. I’m pleased to feel as good as I do heading up to the trig on Helvellyn for the turnaround. And here’s Leigh not 20 seconds behind. By the bottom of White Side he’s at my side and then going up Raise I veer off to the right hand trod while Leigh continues on the walkers path. Losing sight of him till I crest, I can officially confirm that his way is quicker. He’s put 50 yards on me and the elastic band is snapped. I concentrate on picking off the runners that Leigh is passing. At this rate he’ll finish a good five minutes ahead. The return to Clough Head is always a peak or two further than is comfortable and then there’s the toe banging descent; my toes still hurt. Never mind, even though this is Leigh’s strength, I’m taking quite a few places too and finish strongly; one and a half minutes behind him. Its shirts off time in this heat and dig into the wonderful spread put on by the organisers. Wow, it doesn’t get a lot better than this; sunshine, sandwiches and showers. Thanks ROs, love this race.

Stand out performances:

Mel Price v50– what a humble, non-judgemental and tough runner she is. 1st Lady

Scout Adkin – a scottish lass running for Moorfoot on the borders

Annie Conway – ran every climb on the return; stern, gritty stuff

Carl Bell – just outstanding after a tough race the day before

Ken Taylor v70 – as mentioned above

Life at the Back and other low level adventures!!

May 25, 2017

Well with all the “stuff” going on at a high level – Carwyn Phillips – Dragons Back, Leigh W, Declan, Chris Arthur flashing the orange and green everywhere, Ian R cycling from Lancaster to John O’Groats, not to mention the Cliff’s tirelessly supporting others while raising funds for MND whilst dealing with their own personal challenges.  I thought I’d bring it right back down to the end of the line.

2 weeks ago Shaun and I decided to try Sprint O.  Clitheroe Castle – involves getting a map and a dibber and finding in numerical order your quickest route around said map.  On return you are then sent out on a larger course to again get the points in numerical order.  I ran round like a headless chicken, checking into points not on the map, and generally in any order that I found them, so was not surprised to find myself being called to go on the longer course first due to my ineptitude.  However, imagine my surprise to find that next behind me was our very own orienteering great, Quentin Harding, who had kindly made a couple of schoolboy errors, just to make me feel better I’m sure.  So having calmed down a little I managed to finish the course, again not all in order and typically last but had a great time.  Fast forward 2 weeks to Williamson Park.  Home of the Ghandi tribe and they were out in force, certified champion experienced runners, event managed by Quentin, Mike and Chris Read plus numerous family members all sporting team colours, sending everyone off then charging round the course and getting back before everyone (or so it seemed).  This course I managed to get the Prologue in numerical order spurred on by an young lad of approximate age 9 who was in fine form – I think I’ve found my level!!  The main course saw me take 7.33 minutes to find the 1st control, I put this down to panic, however things settled and as it turned out Shaun and I were up against each other for the final few controls which proved to be amusing, I’m sure he tried to trip me into the lake!!!  We arrived at the finish to be cheered in by the smiling faces of Richard Davies and Ray Pickett,   For anyone never having a go at this it’s well worth it – lots of cheerful, supportive, positive people all just wanting you to enjoy it.  Can’t be bad!!

Harrock Hill series started last night with a lone Orange and Green runner – Me!!  Trying not to disgrace the colours by coming last.  It’s only a small on at just over 5 miles but has the lot, and bonus this year NO cows so Emma Aindow-Gregory no excuses!!   After the appalling event in Manchester it was right and proper that 1 minutes silence was held at the start of the race.  Giving everyone time to reflect on how grateful we were to be able to take part on such a wonderful evening.  At the back of the pack it gives you chance to chat and encourage people on.  Got chatting to a couple of nice ladies 1 a lot older than me – shock, talked about life and living it to the full as you just never know.  Rather philosophical while “glowing” and straining up hills etc but it’s all part of “life at the back”.

So my message is dust off the orange and green, get out there, challenge yourself while you can, above all enjoy yourselves and if you can manage to utter a few words whilst gasping for breath  make sure you mention  We need to raise a bit more to get to a landmark sum!!

I’ll keep you posted on Life at the Back !!  😉



Found on Wednesday in Yorkshire

May 18, 2017

Dave Tait….not Achilles, definitely



UK Inter-Counties Senior Fell Running Championship – Chris Arthur helps win Team Gold for Lancashire

May 17, 2017

Well done our Chris, top man for Lancashire in the three man team.

Give him a pat on the back for winning gold as the team just edged out Yorkshire at the weekend

InterCounties2017_individual_and_teams results



Fairfield Horseshoe 2017

May 16, 2017

A feeling of privilege goes through me standing beside Achilles at prize-giving after the race. Well, er.. not quite Achilles; its Dave Tait with a great big plaster on his forehead and a big red and bloodied schnozzler. Could a person get more handsome than a man has a right to? If only my camera was to hand and I could share this vision with you all. And may I say Dave that your wife is a most agreeable person; it is very nice to meet her though one can’t get too close – or her halo will take your eye out. Dave’s had an argument with a slab of stone somewhere round Hart Crag. Not surprising really; after a long dry spell, this morning’s drizzle has made them ice-rink slippy. Ain’t no shoe going to hold for the unwary. Mark M takes a tumble as well and I have a few unsteady moments myself.

The race organisers are using a paper tag as the dibber, you attach it to your shoelace; seems to work well enough.

The first half of this race is pretty straight-forward route-wise. Its a long slog up and along and up and along again till you get to Fairfield but that bottle-neck ditch a mile out is a right pain. Queue jumpers are really testing my patience; should have kept to the wall where I’d be on my own, away from the stream of wildebeest waiting impatiently to cross the croc infested waters.

Ascending to Fairfield, I’m running but feeling frustrated that my stride is laboured – pushing and forcing things – when I want it to be more fluid. A bit like Leigh 200 yards ahead of me and about to disappear into the murk that surrounds Fairfield top. Leigh later suggests that I could back off and let my legs recover a little and it might free them up a bit – he just may have a point there; a good point.

But, as usual, I seem to find I’m on my own as the runners in front disappear in the cold mist so I need to keep my wits about me turning at Fairfield. There’s a biting cold wind which you have to bend into or it’ll take you down those crags where you don’t want to be. I’m glad to see that the walkers’ path is pretty clear even in this visibility and even though my eyes stream in the conditions. Stop-start to Hart Crag, there are better ways but I’m just happy to be on track, taking heart when someone running with purpose goes past over to my left. I have to be nimble and quick through the slabs to get on his tail but he still sails off out of sight and I never see him again. Horses for courses; I’m okay at the climbing and he’s good at this technical stuff. Never mind, he’s put me in sight of some other runners and its a southerly bearing from here to Low Pike.

Now it is quite interesting from here as there are quite a few route choices to be made, pick the right ones and you can make up minutes. Well worth a recce at some point in the future. I pick a runner out front of me and pretty much decide that he’s the one to follow; he doesn’t let me down. He goes low which is a bit counter-intuitive, but it works and we make up loads of places by the the time the routes merge. Nice one, my friend; very satisfying even if I was only following someone whose done his homework. I picked the right guy to copy.

And this last flat mile that everyone complains about; well, I can’t say that I like it but I think it probably does you the most good fitness-wise. You have to give it everything; it inches you that little bit fitter. The guy I follow collapses onto the grass at the finish, and so does the guy behind; I don’t really get that, seems a bit melodramatic to me. But I thank him for leading me down and he shakes my hand from his prone position. I wouldn’t have run past him even if I could have.

Leigh put a good three minutes on me for this one. That chap is just getting faster with his changed diet and his changed routine. He’s going to be in the mix for the v60 cat next year; mark my words. He picks up third v50 – not bad for a 59 year old.

Terry H has effed and jeffed his way up in the car with us too and he’s not far off the pace either despite injuring his knee at Coledale. That fall cost him first v60 on the day.

Out and about on the hills are Pam and Andy who both give me a great cheer somewhere around Low Pike. They set off an hour earlier to walk the whole course.

I take time before the start to have a walk around Rydal Mount which is quite enchanting. It was the home of Wordsworth and they’ve kept the gardens pretty much as he intended them. Nestled in amongst these hills its not surprising he found inspiration to pen some of the best known lines in English literature.

Ben Abdelnoor wins the race; he just looks as if he was born to run fast; top bloke as well.

Good luck to you Crispin on your BG attempt this coming weekend. It doesn’t seem so long ago that you decided to give it a go. Sorry I can’t be there to support you, ‘fraid I have to collect my daughter from university in Scotland. Is someone going to twitter your progress ?

Crispin                                                Moot Hall

DSC_0051Moot Hall, Keswick