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Langdale Fell Race 2019 Bowland results

October 14, 2019

27 entrants

21 took the line

Richard showing the young’uns how it’s done. Well done, Teach.

 

Pos Name Category Club Time
1 Richard Mellon M40 Bowland Fell Runners 02:32:41
2 John Ockenden MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 02:39:33
3 Christopher Balderson M50 Bowland Fell Runners 02:41:16
4 Ellis Bland MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 02:48:55
5 Dave Nuttall M50 Bowland Fell Runners 02:50:22
6 Oliver Wade MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 02:55:37
7 Leigh Warburton M60 Bowland Fell Runners 02:55:45
8 Mike Johnson M50 Bowland Fell Runners 02:59:40
9 Matthew Hirst M40 Bowland Fell Runners 03:16:49
10 Matthew Bourne M50 Bowland Fell Runners 03:20:46
11 Aaron Walmsley MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 03:27:48
12 Sophie Fosker W40 Bowland Fell Runners 03:28:04
13 Will Smith MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 03:29:00
14 Peter Kirby MSEN Bowland Fell Runners 03:29:02
15 Mark Midgley M50 Bowland Fell Runners 03:31:53
16 Rowena Browne W50 Bowland Fell Runners 03:34:49
17 John Graham M50 Bowland Fell Runners 04:08:17
18 Debbie Cooper W40 Bowland Fell Runners 04:30:22
19 David Wilson M50 Bowland Fell Runners M6-7
20 Martin Walsh M70 Bowland Fell Runners Rtd
21 Mark Irving MSEN Bowland Fell Runners Rtd

The Screes Race 2019 by The Mcbourne

October 14, 2019
I used to have a Chemistry teacher who could just not control a classroom. I did however have an English teacher who could silence a bunch of uncooperative crusty teenagers with one single throw of a board rubber. Similarly, post-race on Saturday Joss Naylor was able to shut a whole pub up with a single clunk of a beer bottle on a table; “nah then, we’re gonna do the race presentation…”  Whenever there was a bit of argy bargy in The Rovers, Bet Lynch had a similar effect; music died ‘n all. And talking of music on Coronation Street, has anyone else noticed the references to cool music recently? Not only was Burning Spear mentioned the other week but Michael Head & the Strands too. Google them, you can thank me later.
So on to the Screes Fell Race which coincidentally starts at The Strands pub in Nether Wasdale. A short sharp, five mile, 1,600ft climb to Whin Rigg and back. The race has the added bonus of being the same weekend as the Hodgson Brothers Mountain Relay, so with most of the ‘sharp end’ contenders saving themselves for that, jobbing middle of the pack runners like me can eye up that coveted third place V50 prize.  And with just twenty runners entered I stood a serious chance!

With a brusk “off you go”,  the race makes its way back down the road before taking the track that lies behind Easthwaite Farm towards the bottom of The Screes.  Although I’ve been up to Whin Rigg and Illgill Head a number of times this is the first time I’ve come from the Wasdale side rather than Eskdale. So instead of having the gentle ridge from Irton Pike to idle along there’s now a tough climb up the side of Greathall Gill. And a tough climb it is too, particularly as all 1,600ft is included in one go.

I was up for the weekend staying at the Eskdale bunk house in Boot on the annual Jolly Boys beano from Clitheroe. Twenty four ageing blokes who should know better; a restless night’s sleep guaranteed with a soundtrack of snoring and multiple loo visits. An evening flitting between The Brook House Inn and The Boot Inn the night before was probably not the ideal preparation for a Lakes AS race either, but here I was the following afternoon clambering to checkpoint one at the top of the cairn on Whin Rigg; Yewbarrow, Gable and Wast Water coming into view. You’ve gotta love a checkpoint whereby you high five the marshal as acknowledgement of reaching it. None of your fancy dibbers on this race.

The race then follows a great canter for just over a very muddy mile south to the top of Irton Fell. This return route does have the added bonus of giving extensive views towards Black Combe and the Irish Sea. Jasper, one of the Jolly Boys, was completing his final Wainwright across Wast Water on Middle Fell, so I was able to wave and be with him in spirit. Although it’s probably best to keep your eyes on the descent as it’s a steep and slippy one, with a couple of runners managing the obligatory AOT.

This cracking little early autumn race finishes with a wooded run-in to Cinderdale Bridge before ending back along the road to The Strands, veggie tattie pie, an IPA of heroic strength and presentations courtesy of Joss.  A race that certainly deserves to be supported better so one for the diaries next year, relays or Jolly Boys permitting of course.

Three Shires Fell Race  21/09/2019 – by Oliver Wade

October 1, 2019

11.5 Miles ~4500ft Elevation 

Summits: Wetherlam, Swirl How, Pike o Blisco, Lingmoor Fell

It was HOT. Already sweating, and only on the walk from the car park to the start field, it was looking like today was going to be a tough one. I thought I had arrived early, but after the usual pre-race faffing about, and some emergency sun cream application (thanks for saving my skin Leigh!) it was time to gather at the start. I managed to get myself fairly far forward, learning from my mistakes at previous races, and this paid off. The race starts on a downhill road so the pace is high from the off. There was a bit of a jostle for places, I was anxious to get as far up as possible before the impending river crossing, and accompanying narrow bridge, hoping to avoid becoming stuck in a bottleneck or the alternative of getting my feet wet so early on. Over the bridge with no issues, the race gradually climbed up the valley and I managed to settle into a steady pace, trying to keep a few people who looked like they knew what they were doing in my sights. However, the steady plod was soon interrupted as we veered off through the bracken and up the long slog to the summit of Wetherlam. Looking up at the long line of single file runners winding their way up the steep hillside it seemed like an impossible task. What felt like hours of burning thighs and desperate gasping for air passed until eventually the gradient eased and I popped out into the sun to reach the first checkpoint. 

At the top I took a moment to take in the spectacular views before setting off along the ridge to the next checkpoint of Swirl How. I kept what I thought was a steady pace but seemed to be pulling away from a few of those behind me which was a real confidence boost and before I knew it I was at Swirl Hause and back to climbing. While the scramble up the prison band isn’t the longest climb, you definitely feel it, coming so close after the climb up Wetherlam. Once again, I found myself looking out at the view, it’s easy to get caught up in the race and miss one of the biggest reasons we are all out there, but with the sun shining and clear views all around I had to keep remembering to just take it all in. 

After reaching the next checkpoint at the top of Swirl How the race contours round the summit of Great Carrs; a tricky route in the mist, so I’ve heard, but there were no issues today. I set off hurtling down the grassy slopes with the postcard perfect view of the Scafell range in front to keep me going, and one other solitary runner to aim for. He managed to keep well ahead of me until the descent got steeper and thanks to a slightly better line choice I overtook him. 

Crossing the road at the next checkpoint I gobbled up a few Haribo and set off up the path to Pike o’ Blisco. The climb was pretty uneventful until around Black Crags a loud man with a big stick started yelling at us. At least that’s what I initially thought, until I saw a load of sheep run by and realized it was a farmer herding sheep! With his shouts breaking me out of my one foot in front of the other autopilot I looked back for the first time in a while to see a fair few people gaining on me. As some footsteps behind me became louder and louder I made a conscious effort to up my pace that little bit more, but just before the summit I was overtaken. Runners who had reached the top and were starting their descent to Blea tarn came hurtling by as I made the last few efforts up to the rocky summit of Blisco. 

I didn’t linger at the top, eager to get behind someone who knew what they were doing for the complicated line choices on the descent. However, in the end I made a go of it on my own and boy did it pay off. I seemed to find smooth lines around all the little boulders and crags that can slow you down and pieced together a great route, losing sight of those I had been following. I got into a great rhythm and everything just seemed to fall into place. I managed to keep this flow all the way down to Blea Tarn, however, as soon as the gradient flattened off I knew I wouldn’t be finishing any further up the field. My legs were goosed without gravity to assist them so I set myself to survival mode, allowing a runner I had caught on the descent to accelerate away from me, knowing that if I tried to follow I would blow up spectacularly on the final climb up Lingmoor. 

After a brief flat section by the tarn and smoothly negotiating a cattle grid the last hill was upon me. The steep slog up through a narrow path in the bracken felt like it would never end. By this point the sun was belting down, and all traces of a breeze had vanished making this last push even harder. It felt as though I had come to a total stop, using the fence at the side of the path to drag my weary legs upward towards the last checkpoint. Despite this I had only lost a couple of places by the top, not the total disaster I was expecting. I let my strides get longer and my pace pick up as the path began to once again go downhill, however the momentary joy of letting gravity pull me towards the finish was soon interrupted by a slight incline. The path might have even been flat but I couldn’t muster anything more than a tired jog. I was overtaken one last time just as the path went downhill again so I gave a little push and kept hot on their heels down the steep zig zags off Lingmoor. I could hear the commentary from the finishing field as we pelted down the hillside. Just as I thought it was nearly over the ground flattened out once again and my rival simply pulled away. Disheartened, I turned around but to my relief there was no one in sight. Through the last field support from my ‘adoring fans’ (Fiancée and family) spurred me on and I gave it as much as my legs would allow me and almost managed what at this point felt like an all-out sprint along the last bit of road before turning into the finishing field.  

Unlike usual I didn’t immediately collapse on the ground, I managed to stay upright for a whole 30 seconds or so before my legs gave up and I fell in a heap on the floor. However, despite the tiredness I couldn’t help but feel happy, I knew this was the best performance I’d done in a fell race yet and couldn’t believe it when I found out I was the first from the club to finish. Tucking into the free pasta that had been provided I wearily watched other runners finish for half an hour or so before treating myself to a well-earned pint of Wainwright! My dad later remarked that his best time was around the 2.25.06 I finished in, within a handful of seconds even, but conveniently no record of this can be found. Even if I didn’t beat him, I did have a fantastic day out on the fells in the sunshine and really nothing more than that matters.  

A rush of blood to the head

September 5, 2019

James Gray of Bowland Fell Runners finishes 2nd at the Castle Carr Fell Race with a bloody nose after a freak fall which ended up with a rogue bull rush reed going up his nostril in the last half mile, would you believe it?

 

Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge   5th August 2019    by Mary Ockenden W60

August 25, 2019

In the fell running and orienteering community, everyone knows exactly how old you are, so an approaching milestone birthday cannot be quietly ignored.  So, after being inspired by supporting Nick Hewitt with his 4th (!) JNLC success in October 2018, I considered the possibility of making my own attempt to mark my 60th birthday.  Hence, after months of preparation, including some trail racing in France and plenty more time out on the fells, I decided to go for it.  As my husband, Gavin Smith, had come with me on all the route checking and training he decided he would also like to make his own attempt.  He proposed that we do it together.  Although initially I had reservations, I did finally agree, based on our very similar times on races up to 6 hours long or days on the fells up to 12 hours.  But neither of us knew how we would be after nearly18 hours. We chose the date: Monday 5th August 2019 – a weekday, which made organising a support team more restrictive, but the only date when all three of our children (also keen runners and orienteers) would be available to support.

The birthday came and then before we knew it our son John was driving us to Pooley Bridge for a 4am start in the dark with Chris Roberts.  It wasn’t actually raining when we set out but it wasn’t far off and within an hour we were all back in rain jackets and into the cloud.  After a weekend of thunderstorms and very heavy downpours, the ground was very soggy.  I was very grateful for waterproof socks, which definitely kept out the worst of the bogs but did not stop the rain running down from the top!  We squished our way steadily up the ridge, trying to eat and drink little and often.  According to Chris there was a tent near the top of High Street, but I didn’t see anything in the cloud and rain.  

2019_JNLC_0709_AfterHighStreet2

Descending from High Street in the cloud (photo: Gavin Smith)

Somewhere on the way down to Kirkstone Pass it stopped raining, but we didn’t drop out of the cloud until we got right to the pass.  That didn’t give the support team much warning of our arrival, but fortunately they were brilliantly prepared with hot tea and porridge.  I didn’t really know what I would feel like eating at the end of each leg, but I found the warm food and drink very easy on the stomach.  Thanks John, Tom, Helen, Julian and Nick for your welcome at Kirkstone.

After a short break and a restock of water and food to munch on, we were off again, this time with Julian Lailey.  As we climbed Red Screes, the cloud began to break up a bit and we got a few clear patches down to the pass where we could still see the support vehicles.  The weather steadily improved during this leg, and although the tops were still in cloud, we had some wonderful views down the valleys, with a bank of threatening cloud above.  The support team at Dunmail Raise could see us on the skyline, and once again they had tea brewing.  Smoothie, tea, cheesy bean slice, rice pudding and tinned peaches this time.  In retrospect, maybe this was too much, as my stomach was a bit uncomfortable on the following leg.  Thanks, John, Helen, Annie, Abi, Ian and Mike for food, drink and chairs at Dunmail!

Still on our schedule, we started the pull up Steel Fell, led by our daughter Helen and with Mike Johnson accompanying to take over on Leg 4.  We still hadn’t seen a single person apart from the support team.  With the weather still brightening, we had our first glimpses of the sun, and a beautiful view up to High Raise.  The first people we met were at the top of Far Easedale, at about midday.  The climb up Birks Gill and the tussocks near the top of High Raise felt harder than usual, as legs were beginning to feel the effort.  With a slightly uncomfortable stomach I found it more difficult to eat, but managed to nibble on Hula Hoops, nuts and dried apricots.  I love the climb up Bow Fell, especially when you get the line just right and pop out on the plateau just below the summit.  

2019_JNLC_1358a_MaryNearingBowFell2(Mike)

Nearing the summit of Bow Fell (photo: Mike Johnson)

The tops were all in cloud again by this time, but views below the cloud base were beautiful.  With some trepidation I knew we were approaching the steep and rocky descent off Great End, my least favourite section of the whole route.  Luckily, the rock was almost dry and after the most rocky steep part in the cloud, we were met with a fantastic view all the way down to Sty Head Pass, where we could see our son John, daughter Annie and her friend Abi already waiting for us.  For them, watching, it must have seemed like a slow descent (it was, but I had allowed for that in the schedule).  Hot, sweet coffee with more peaches and rice pudding set me up for Leg 4.  Thanks John, Annie and Abi for carrying an assortment of goodies up to Sty Head (and then carrying all the things we didn’t want back down again!).  It was great to have a choice, because we both found that some foods, that had been great during previous runs, we couldn’t face on the day and some things that we hadn’t asked for but they had brought anyway were just right!

Mike led us ably on Leg 4.  Helen was having such a nice time she decided to carry on with us too, which was particularly useful in case Gavin and I were moving at different speeds (but in fact we were still very similar).  John joined us for Great Gable and Kirk Fell before descending to move the car to Greendale.  After Sty Head we were back into the cloud again, and didn’t see any more clear summits.  Fortunately, the forecast possible thunderstorms did not materialise.  Our schedule allowed for slow and cautious descents off Great Gable and Kirk Fell, including the impressive red gully.  

2019_JNLC_1744_DescendingRedGully2(Mike)

Descending from Kirk Fell (photo: Mike Johnson)

The SW wind was quite strong on Pillar, but perhaps meant that Steeple was not as windy as it can be.  After Steeple, and the end of the rocky terrain, I began to believe that we could actually complete the route in time.  A possible rendezvous with Ian Roberts near Haycock failed due to the wind and clag; we assumed that he had not wanted to wait in the inhospitable conditions and had gone back down.  Middle Fell has always been one of my favourite fells: not too big for horrible weather days, generally quiet and great views in good weather.  As a child. growing up in Gosforth, I often climbed it with my parents.  Subsequently, Gavin and I introduced our own children to it when they were younger.  But I have never been as happy to reach the summit as I was on this challenge!  It was great to be met near the summit by Abi.  John also ran half way up to meet us and then skipped back down to get the tea brewing!  We made it to Greendale Bridge in 17 hours 33.  There was some consternation as Ian Roberts had not yet returned, but fortunately he appeared as a headtorch on the hill about half an hour later!  Unfortunately Joss was ill, so it was down to Ian Roberts to perform the ‘meet and greet’ when he finally returned.  

What a fantastic day!  My overwhelming memory is the fantastic support and enthusiasm of all those involved.  What can be better than a day in the hills surrounded by family and friends, including many Bowland members.  Thank you to all of you.  Thanks also to all who have donated to my chosen charity, The Alzheimer’s Society.

Support:

Driving: John Ockenden

Leg 1: Chris Roberts

Leg 2: Julian Lailey

Leg 3: Helen Ockenden, Mike Johnson

Leg 4: Mike Johnson, Helen Ockenden, John Ockenden (to Black Sail Pass)

Food supplies, welcomes and enthusiasm:  Annie Ockenden, Abi Plowman, Tom Matthew, Nick Hewitt, Ian Roberts

Borrowdale Fell Race 2019 by Oliver Wade

August 10, 2019

16.5 miles, 6500ft, Summits Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Dale Head

Date: 03/08/2019

Weather: HOT and clear

Position: 90th / ~280

Here it was. Race day. I unzipped the tent to patchy sunshine, a good start as today was going to be hard enough without having to navigate through thick clag. I walked to the race from Grange where I had been camping, running bits for a warm up. After heading to the start/finish field to get a copy of the race map I signed on, grabbed my number and ‘dibber’ for the checkpoints, then set about trying to find my new team mate, Leigh Warburton, who had brought me a Bowland Fell Runners vest for my first race as part of the club, and only my 3rd ever fell race. It felt great to be part of a team for a change, and to be running in the same colours I had seen my dad run in for so many years. Heading back to the start field I found my dad catching up with some old friends, he had acquired some last-minute race tactics to pass on to me, the gist of which was “go steady”. This made sense considering it would be the longest run I had ever done and the day was only getting hotter.

It wasn’t long before we were all bunched up at the field gate rearing to set off.  Talking to a friend meant I missed everyone starting to gather and ended up a fair bit further back than I would have liked, but hearing about his race prep of 4 weeks off due to injury and a slight hangover from the night before made me feel slightly better about my own chances. I tried to edge my way forward but it was really an exercise in futility by this point. After a few quick words from the race organizer we were off, I quickly tried to move up the field knowing that sooner or later we would reach a pinch point that I didn’t really fancy being stuck behind. I managed a few places but not before we turned off the road and onto a path that fit just about two abreast. Here we all came to a total stand still, less than 2 minutes in, which felt frustrating and made it hard to find a rhythm, especially with the narrow path making it harder to pass other runners. Following a fellow Bowland runner I managed to skip up past a good 20 or so people but eventually his pace was too quick for me and I had to settle back down. 

After the first stop-start mile the race turned up hill as we started the slog up Bessyboot to the first checkpoint. The ground gets really steep going up here and I was trying to go steady knowing what was still in store, but I couldn’t resist the satisfaction of overtaking a few people here and there (several of which would go on to overtake me in the back half of the race – something learned there!). After about 20 minutes of power walking and the gradually increasing burn in my thighs I had passed the first checkpoint, downed a gel, and was on the vague path round the side of Glaramara towards Allen Crags. I had found this bit quite confusing on a recce but with people to follow it was fairly plain sailing, minus the knee deep bog in a couple of places, giving me time to even take in the view over to the Langdale pikes and Bowfell. I cruised round the side of Allen crags, losing a few places by this point but having the good sense not to chase too hard, and before I knew it the second checkpoint at Esk Hause had arrived.

The path from here to Scafell Pike felt like a slog, but I managed to keep a good pace and didn’t have any trouble boulder hopping along the ridge to the summit. The final ramp up to the summit was full of walkers, with plenty of encouragement being doled out which I’m sure gave a little boost to the top. After ‘dibbing’ my wristband at the checkpoint I took a minute to neck a gel and prepare for the long, technical descent to come. Heading off the top to the scree chute I felt nervous for the first time in the race, I had flown down here on a recce and loved it but with other people around it was a different story. The fear of sending a rock flying into someone else, or vice-versa was lingering in the back of my mind. I set off down at a good pace and overtook 5 or so people pretty quickly, managing to seemingly jump straight over one other runner who had slipped over. The reality of this moment was probably much less dramatic but with the adrenaline pumping and sweat in my eyes distorting my vision that was how it felt. However, my momentum was short lived, trying to slow down to dodge other runners seemed to throw me of balance for a second and wham! My feet went from under me and I flew backwards with a thud. This knocked me back both physically and mentally, I took the rest of the scree slope super steady getting re-overtaken in the process. After taking the grassy line to join corridor route I stopped with the excuse of emptying my shoe of stones, but really just needed a minute to compose myself after my fall. Surprisingly no one overtook me while I was sat down and I steadily set off down the rough path to Styhead Pass, and after a fair bit of tourist dodging arrived there in one piece. 

From here, despite being all uphill, it was all downhill for me. Just as I started the climb I was passed by the first lady, and eventual female winner Majka Kunicka. This was bittersweet as my dad had always told me “you’re doing well in a race if you can keep up with the first lady”, so there was some satisfaction from knowing I had been going well up to now. However, this was short lived with a demoralizing number of people overtaking me on the long walk up Great Gable. I really started to struggle here, the heat was getting to me and at one point or another each muscle in my leg seemed to be on the verge of cramping up. This combined with the pain from my fall biting with every step made for hard going. Once I finally reached the top of Gable I tried to take a moment, get a gel down me, and pick the right line down. I managed to get down fairly smoothly and pass a few of those who’d got the best of me on the up. After contouring round Green Gable it was a steady descent to Grey Knotts and just a case of keeping what little momentum I had going. 

A little while after crossing the fence on Grey Knotts I nipped down a trod which I vaguely remembered was the most runnable line from my recce, however shortly felt slightly lost. One guy had followed me and seemed to pick up on this asking “you sure about this line?”. Not wanting to lead him astray I said, “not totally” thinking I had come down a little too early. He darted off back up the hill, while I committed to my choice which turned out to be the right one! It didn’t take long for me to find the path I knew was around somewhere and as I came around the corner to the front of Grey Knotts I saw 5-6 people who had passed me earlier in the race way back up the slopes. This gave me a great boost and I pushed on to the next checkpoint at Honister Pass.  

Having my family and Fiancé at Honister briefly took my mind of the impending climb up Dale Head. Words of encouragement, water and (probably too many) jelly babies spurred me on upwards. However, this second win was short lived. The cramps returned with a vengeance, the heat seemed to be increasing with every gradually shortening stride and the pain from my fall was only getting worse. I seemed to slow to a crawl, with a never-ending string of people passing me. After what seemed like a lifetime I saw the summit and the marshals waiting, however I didn’t even have the energy to fake a bit of a run for the photographer sat up there, I just kept drearily plodding on. The first part of the descent was no easier and I had to stop several times before Dale Head Tarn to stretch out some nasty cramps. In the process, I was passed by some of the more seasoned racers. The famous Nicky Spinks who I had been hoping to at least finish around the same time as, and hopefully beat, skipped past me, shortly followed by Bowland team mate Leigh Warburton another person I had set my sights on finishing ahead of. This was a real hard moment of the race for me and if it there had been any quicker way back to the start I would have probably considered pulling out. Despite this I made it to Dale Head tarn with Leigh in my sites and managed to get back into a bit of a rhythm to set off after him. Shortly into the next part of the descent I saw him stopped by the side of the path, struck by cramp he had had to stop and I managed to overtake him once more. This spurred me on as I got stuck into the grassy descent down to the river. Crossing the New Bridge I was conscious of Leigh behind me, not as far away as I had hoped, but didn’t dare up my pace for fear of blowing up so close to the finish! As I entered Rosthwaite my dad was waiting, ‘gently’ reminding me Leigh was on my heels, he spurred me on and picked up the pace to run me in, for what to me felt like a strong finish in 4 hours 26 minutes and 41 seconds. 

After barley being able to hand my dibber in I collapsed in a heap on the floor. It took me a while to gather the energy to re-open my eyes and eventually get up for a cup of orange juice. I sat around for a while trying to get some proper food down and watching other runners come in to finish, each one looking just as exhausted as the next. For a moment, I started to ponder the age-old question “why do we do this?” for fun? Surely not? But once you get past the aching legs, sting of salt in your eyes and delusions from dehydration you see the smiles of all the other runners chatting about their race around you and those questions go away. 

I couldn’t face the walk back to the campsite, so got a lift off my mum. Just as we were leaving I saw the winner on the day, Ricky Lightfoot, walking back into Rosthwaite with no sign of the effort he had just put in anywhere. It was a reminder how much of another level some of these guys are on, but also some motivation for something to work towards next time I guess! 

Kentmere Horseshoe 2019 by the McBourne

July 30, 2019
Surely the weather couldn’t be as bad as last year’s Kentmere race could it? But according to Carol Kirkwood and the doom-mongers at the Beeb, a yellow weather warning had been issued for Cumbria right up until Sunday morning. And even as Tom Smith and yours truly took the ‘scenic’ route across the Trough to the Lancaster rendezvous things weren’t looking good. But lo and behold as soon as we got off J36 things looked worryingly promising. An almost Simpsons like parting of the clouds gave way to blue skies. Conversation changed from navigational and route choice issues to who left the bloody sun cream at home?!?! I even heard a disappointed Rob Jebb bemoan the fact that this morning’s mist had now cleared, presumably giving us mere mortals a sporting chance.
A healthy smattering of Bowlanders were dotted about the parking field and what a caring sharing bunch we are. Not only did we share lifts but also water, sun cream and Ibuprofen too.  I’m definitely feeling the Bowland love-in at the moment.
Pre-race, James Simon was introduced to the age old tradition of crumpling your race number in order to stop it blowin’ in the wind, but with very little breeze present it was hardly necessary. Sandy donned a rather fetching cycle cap for shade. Ironic really as he was the only one in the car least likely to be mistaken for a young Bobby Charlton and therefore susceptible to scalp burn.
It’s a cracking race Kentmere. At twelve miles and 3,300ft climb the Harvey’s map description nails it on the head; “it’s NOT long but it’s a long medium”. The majority of up takes place in the first half of the race; a juicy little climb before bypassing Yoke to the first checkpoint on Ill Bell. It’s then steadily up and down until you hit the distinct wall path to the summit of High Street; quite possibly the most runnable of all the major Wainwright summits? On route was the sorry sight of Steve Swarbrick, whose knee twinge had forced him to retire prematurely. Speedy recovery Steve.
Once you turn towards Mardale Ill Bell the return route is relatively straight forward but it does offer great views to the ridge just run and down to Haweswater Reservoir. Whenever I say Mardale Ill Bell I can’t help but sing ‘Get It Together’ by the much maligned Beastie Boys, specifically because of the last line; “I’m like Ma Bell, I’ve got the ill communications”. It’s having Mar and Ill and Bell so close together. It was this that got me up the final climb to Kentmere Pike. Well that and a homemade flapjack.
Last year I was one of the many who missed the trod back down to Hallow Bank following the final check point, ending up coming back though the farm further round. In clear vision this year there was no such problems. In fact the stile that was missed in 2018 is so massive it got me thinking; how in the name of buggery did I miss that?!?! Anyhow, as I tried in vain to keep up with Helen Ockenden we came across our second Bowland casualty of the day; James Simon. Tripped up by a non-crumpled race number. As if. James had come a nasty cropper coming across the slippery rocks on the Hallowed descent. I’ll say it again; speedy recovery.
Back at the finish line there were some happy smiling faces; Sandy Lockett finishing in the top twenty with Davids Wilson and Nuttall also in under two hours. Leigh Warby adding another V60 title to his vast collection. Tom Smith, Helen and Debbie Cooper rounding off all the Bowland finishers. Talk turned to Borrowdale next weekend and the next chapter in this year’s Bowland club champs. With this weather you just can’t beat a good day in the Lakes. Kentmere