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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

Coniston Fell Race 2017

April 30, 2017

If you aren’t doing the PPPs then the less intrepid of us are gathered in Coniston for an easy lollop up Wetherlam, Swirl How and The Old Man – I don’t think. You just have to look at the pained faces of the leaders in the PPPs to get an inkling of their suffering; and these are athletes with pedigree. I’ve never done it, I don’t want to do it, but I know I will – soon. It’s just one of those rites of passage.

And Coniston, well, its a nine mile doddle by comparison; ask Sean Bolland; who even takes a mid race siesta. You think I’m kidding, don’t you. Go on, ask him.

Richard M shows poor form and etiquette by skipping his nap and finishing in 10th spot. At the very least he needs to be black-balled out of the club for his effrontery. Lee, cast him out for the honour of Bowland; do it lest the GandO vest become a symbol of derision and scorn.

And I’m not sure that Doug Love is entirely innocent either. He finishes a bit too high up the pecking order for my liking. Its probably a result of Richard’s bad influence as he is a newbie and just fell into the wrong company; a severe telling off might work but I’m all for giving him five lashes – it just sends out the right message to everyone. And its for his own good; he’ll thank us for it in time to come.

And I would like Leigh Warby to be put on notice too. For no other reason than he is making my life a misery. How often must I be humiliated by this man in front of my peers; made to feel an object of derision and nothing be done about it. How often does he have to pass me through the race and I have to endure his cynical chuckle. Here today, he takes a dead sneaky high line off Swirl How, then shouts over to me while cocking a snook and continues to press on with his unfair advantage.

And finally, while descending The Old Man, having increased his lead with similar dishonourable conduct, he turns around at the bottom to give me a two fingered salute. Dash it, Lee, when is it going to stop – when …. what will it take for people, for you, to stand up and do the right thing?

All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing!

Wayne, on the other hand, is exactly the kind of person we need to look to for guidance and example.

He tells me he does none of this training malarkey, although in a moment of weakness in the car up he mentions that he’s thinking of getting round to some. Well you could have hit me in the face with a wet fish, Lee; I soon put him straight; there won’t be any of that nonsense talk anymore. Embarrassed by his faux pas he promises me he’ll attend the Beer and Sausage Fair in Goosnargh on Monday. See what I mean, Lee, he’s exactly the right calibre of gent we need. I was only too happy to lend him my lighter for his mid-race smoke.

So, in all, a mixed day; poor, poor behaviour from a few who should know better but finishing on an encouraging note with that paragon of fell-running virtue; the Wayne-meister.

Two reprobates together; Martin and Leigh

April 2017 311

Rich; is impressed with the size of this otter

April 2017 309

Anniversary Waltz Fell race 2017

April 23, 2017

Johnny Giles – Johnny blooming Giles; how can you name a Leeds team of the ’70s and not remember him? Matt B has just gone and lost all credibility with Wayne W and myself. And he was doing so well. Oh, and he misses Paul Madely too.

And what relevance do you think Dylan’s Song to Woody has to fell running? Well I’ll tell you, its the best song on his first album in 1962. This is how Matt takes his mind off the pain of climbing Robinson. He recounts all Dylan’s albums in chronological order and names the best song from each. It may be fell running, but not as I know it. He gets all the way to 1974; presumably he realises he’s at the top and has to think about the race again; v v strange!

I wonder what Chris A thinks about? Am I going the right way; where is everybody; what’s for tea tonight. At Kentmere last year, Chris was a close second to Morgan Donnelly; today he’s a good five minutes ahead of the second man and Morgan is third; such is his progress. I can only say that its quite remarkable. Talented, naturally, but I know that he trains blooming hard too. Its a devastating combination, and brilliant that its in GandO colours.

Another brilliant combination is the management and organisation of a busy, busy race day at Stair. Wynn tells me there are a thousand people here. Between the junior Wa! races, The Waltz and The Teenager this event has transmogrified into a monster. Bowland’s finest have stepped up to the marshalling plate and its a shame I can’t stop and natter to some faces I haven’t seen in ages. Stuart F at Hindsgarth for one and Andy Crook a little later – oddly, both take the mickey for some reason – as does Duncan. That’s right lads, take advantage while I’m bright red in the face and lactic acid is coursing through my system. I can’t think of witty ripostes to any of them, oddly.

Actually, I have a decent run again, just over two hours on this glorious April day. You couldn’t have asked for a better one; wearing my helly is superfluous. I even manage to find that little right hand shimmy off of Cat Bells that Yiannis told me about some years back. Okay, it saves only five seconds but it breaks that elastic band with the guy who’s been on my shoulder for a while. And that last mile is a fast, fast down hill at a lovely gradient.

Andy and Pam are time-keeping the finish and give me a great cheer; heyoop Dec, great run, well done; Chris got here half an hour ago.

Half a bleeding hour ago!

I jump into the icy mountain stream to cool down a little and get some of the muck off.

James Bailey; I don’t know why I keep on calling you Michael, James; has another good race. I think he’s another talent just waiting to take the sport seriously. Think he finishes somewhere in the 20s.

Mark Chip has a tussle with Darren F on that final slope. Tom and Dominic are here too and so is Paul W. Dominic tells me he has an entry for the Etape de Yorkshire in May which he can’t use and wants to know if anyone else is interested in it?

Btw, a certain Aaron Walmsley is trying desperately to join the club. Have you had his details yet Lee?

Thanks Wynn, thanks Steve; thanks for the hot meal afterwards, much appreciated. And thanks to all the people you muster to support and organise the day too. It should be bedlam but its far from it; that takes special skills and leadership. I hope it all went to plan and that you enjoyed it as much as us runners – who have the easy job of just getting to the start line.

2017 AW Result                                                               2017 TWA Results

Sophie looking much too fresh




The Donard Challenge 2017 – British Champs

April 10, 2017

Declan and Chris

Doing this race was really about meeting up with an old friend in Belfast and conveniently wedging in a race up a mountain just a few feet short of 3,000.

There is a modicum of club interest in this British counter as there are two Bowland runners taking part and one of us is a special talent; but that’s enough of me.

Slieve Donard is Northern Ireland’s highest peak; part of the Mourne mountain range in Newcastle, Co. Down.

The last time I climbed up a hill in this area was with a group of thirty from school back in ’76. Somehow four of us, two boys and two girls, got ourselves detached and took the wrong way down off the slieve we’d climbed and arrived back to base hours after everyone else had returned. The bus had gone and a car had waited back for us. In holy, catholic Ireland I’m afraid everyone jumped to the one conclusion; the wrong one as it happens, says I regretfully, as I really did fancy that bonny lass Carmel. The car journey back was made in a stony, pious silence.

After all the horror stories of this race in 2014 and not being able to recce the route beforehand I spend ages looking at the map. My old mucker, never having heard of this hill running sport thinks I’m being a bit precious about it all. And the price of him putting me up for a few nights is to have a round of golf with him the day before. I’m rubbish at that too but the ‘crack is mighty’ as they say.

Its not till he and his wife are approaching Donard in the car that they begin to understand the scale of what fell running ‘eejits’ do. Have you got a warm coat and a warm hat; you’re not going up in shorts are you; why are you doing this; have a go at yoga instead.

The day is bright and sunny but there’s still a chilly sea breeze. And all the runners are in singlets and shorts as its a first class day for a race of this import. Most of the top runners are present; and yes, one of them is our own Chris. This is really going to test his mettle in a different way. There is a bit of flat running at the start and end but its all about the up and the down; especially the down. This will be a descenders race I think.

When we arrive in the car park we see the ever upbeat smile of Darren F. And for a great description of the course you should read what he’s written on the Fellrunner Forum.

Eighty percent of runners here are English; most faces are familiar but its a slightly more competitive field being as its a British Champs. Chris is a definite contender to win but it is going to be very close. He’s getting a name for himself is Chris; Steve Smithies asks me where that young fellow has sprung from out of the blue; he’s winning a lot of races, isn’t he?

I say to myself that finishing top half will do me right, and I’ll have to work hard to manage that.. After the first runnable two miles, its just a head down painful walk, run, walk, walk to the top and then walk some more – about forty minutes of it. Then its a rocky, boggy, technical descent all the way to the bottom again. Oh to have more bottle than I’ve got.

I meet Chris descending, he’s in second behind Tom Addison, some ten seconds. I give a weak shout, any distraction could end in injury for him. The top five spots are keenly contested but Tom stays in front to the end and Chris finishes second. Yet another outstanding performance from our man. Yes he’s good at the flat stuff; he’s even better at climbing and this proves he can descend with the best too. Take a look at the splits – checkpoints 2-3.

He comes up to me after the race and asks me how I got on; brilliant, I say. I just creep into the top half, goal achieved. My climbing is turning into my strength; same effort, just seem to be doing it quicker. Looking at the results I can see that Neil Hardiman was chasing me down big time, he’s good at that descending malarkey.

My mate Paddy quietly tells me that we won’t have that second round of golf after all when we get back later; methinks he has a different view on this obscure and quaint sport.

The race is organised superbly; efficient, friendly and professional. The false start at the beginning just giving it a nice touch.

Performances of note:

– Tom Addison; you can hear his effort as he goes past you in an out and back – almost squealing in pain

– our Chris; because he’s second and because he pushed Tom all the way

– that lass from Lagan AC; what gritty determination

Split Times

The two compadres – Chris, nuff said; Darren had a blooming great run as well