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Pen y ghent 2019

June 4, 2019

The name Penyghent could therefore mean ‘Hill on the border’ (compare Kent). Alternatively, ghent couldmean ‘wind’ or ‘winds’ – from the closest Welsh transliteration, gwynt (‘wind’). … It is also acceptable to write the name as Pen y Ghent rather than Penyghent.     Wikipedia

I just ran out of gas says Nicky. Oh! And hmmm! Tom S says she’ll have to get a mention in despatches for the walk of shame. Yes, a mild ribbing is called for with that excuse Nicky.

Anyway, I must confess to being slightly irked that the good burghers of Horton do not give the fell race event more of a starring role in their fete. Mainly because the fete offering is quite meagre by way of stalls, entertainment and interest and here we have two hundred and fifteen runners, many with family in attendance as well, who would give it energy and spirit – all just waiting to be tapped. It wouldn’t take much imagination to transform it surely? Instead, here we are, an afterthought; scheduled to start at the end of things. Never mind, it’s a great race organised by Settle Harriers something for everyone.

Everyone I overtake on the way up, overtakes me on the way down. But Tom is off at a canter and gathers pace all the way round. Top form there Tom:-) Dave L has a good one as well; gotta shift some more weight he says – he’s getting the bug now. Phil Martin, looking nothing like his v70 age, put in an appearance as well.

Tell you something; Tom Matthews is blooming quick. I see that for myself on Monday. And not far behind him is the Reade Meister. Those Intervals are hard work if you play it honestly. John T tells me the clag was down at Duddon and finding the way around a touch difficult. Wonder how Leigh got on?





Duddon Fell Race 2019

June 4, 2019

As I thought, Leigh Warby trounces his rivals.


Helvellyn and The Dodds 2019

May 27, 2019

And the v60 winner from Bowland is Declan O’Duffy. Yep, that’s me. Only it isn’t me. A quiet demur from the assembled runners prompts a re-check and yes, Leigh Warby has won again – and by a whopping margin. If it goes on like this he’ll have WADA knocking on his door for a saliva test.

Iain declares a misrepresentation of the race title. We only have to visit one of the Dodds; henceforth, he says, I undertake to strike the s from all literature appertaining.

That young Keswick runner, Brandon, cruises to another win in front of Ricky Lightfoot. Actually, I wouldn’t say cruise is the right word; this out and back affords a look at the front runners. There’s a real intensity on each face; they’re feeling it for sure. Along with talent they have a high threshold for suffering too. Success is a seductive mistress – and vicious with it.

They’re lucky. They’ll finish before this westerly picks up and the temp drops a few degrees and the rain begins. My ear and head ache with the cold and getting my cag on is a right palaver. I grip it with numb fingers as it attempts to fly away over Matterdale Common. A few things fall out of my Pete Bland bumbag in the process which I don’t notice at the time. I’ve had that same bumbag since I began this malarkey fifteen years ago. Much as I’m attached to it I’m now on the hunt for one that makes it easier to get at stuff. Any advice welcome.

I bring my face to within three inches of the marshall on Clough Head and bellow one – two – zero. His streaming eyes look at me and he mouths – ‘pardon’? One – two – zero I gesture with my fingers and he gives me a thumbs up and I turn into the fierce wind again. Much respect to your marshalls Keswick AC and all because some idiots want to run around the hills on your patch.

My tear filled eyes make me cautious descending Clough Head; not so The McBourne who goes past me easily at the bottom. Ease off on those flapjacks Matt and there’s a fast lad waiting to emerge. You’ve taken a few scalps today. Not so Crispin who is off the pace and has been since Raise. It’s been a long afternoon for you my friend; tired legs or a bug maybe!

Talking of tired legs, Leigh reccied The Great Lakes with Rowena on Wednesday and Iain supported a mate on a leg of the BG only the previous day yet manages fourteenth – what’s going on? You’ve both got it all wrong; all the training books say so. Andy Jackson is in the mix also, finishing just behind Iain. He gives me a shout somewhere on White Side.

A brilliant spread awaits us at the finish; sweet tea and a scone, and another cup of tea and a cheese and pickle sandwich and not one, not two but three slices of that home made date cake – well they are small after all and there’s more than enough to go round.

Thanks Keswick AC race organisers, you’re a credit and I hope your marshalls get their credit and a load of them cakes as well. Brilliant stuff, xxx.



Fairfield Horseshoe 2019

May 19, 2019

‘He seems to be getting older as he ages’, says Sam with the wisdom of youth. Dave L and I find it hard to disagree.

Of course we can only be talking about Leigh ‘I’m going to cut back on these long ones and start enjoying my running’ Warby.

So let me recap on his itinerary over the forthcoming weeks:-







18th – Saturday; Fairfield 10 miler                                                                                                                             19th – Sunday; Glaramara 5 miler                                                                                                                        22nd – recce Great Lakes 13 miler on Wednesday with Rowena (oh yeah – 7000 feet)                                26th – Helvellyn and the Dodds 15 miler (4500 ft)                                                                                                              1st – Duddon 18 miler (6000 ft)                                                                                                          8th – Ennerdale 23 miler (7300ft)                                                                                                                                    15th – Great Lakes 13 miler (7000 ft)                                                                                                                                Man! How much respect can you give a genuinely humble bloke? I feel very inadequate beside him. There will be very short odds on him winning the v60 in every one of them.                                                                                                                                                                   He puts 6 minutes on me today. And today there can be no complaints for it is perfect; the mild weather, the firm-ish ground, the lack of wind, the visibility; it’s a rare day for sure. Even the changing room – for its bedecked with leather armchairs, a fire place and wooden beams – and only four Bowlanders are aware and using it. Everything is going well. Okay, I spill a full bottle of orange squash over my kit…nice; but I smell oh so nice among the starting throng; Mickey Flanagan says as much. Poor old Martin W finds he’s left his foot tag in the car twelve minutes before the off; that’s ten minutes brisk running to retrieve it. He PBs the race by four minutes – I think you’ve stumbled on your race prep there Martin!

Ian Shaw is there with Kelly and their tribe of Uncontrollables. Firstly, Kelly – you have just the best smile and demeanour. And those kids of yours are going to leave their mark on the world. Maybe not as much as that young teenager doing handstand walks at the back of the sprawled and finished runners waiting on presentations. She flings herself into a handstand and nonchanantly walks for a few metres on her hands, then lets herself drop into a crab position and casually flips herself back into a handstand and walks backwards on her hands. She thinks she’s unobserved. Jaw-dropping stuff.

Ambleside AC have organised this race at Rydal. It is an AM classic – I love it. The great Selwyn Wright is handing it over to Jon Deegan and his wife. Thanks Selwyn and thank you Jon. A flapjack and a cup of tea are thrown into the modest price for taking part. It’s been a privilege (and I spelt that right without a spell check – how many could do that? Be honest;-)


The Shaw Gang – see what I mean

May 2 045

Mickey Flanagan on the right

May 2 036.JPG

Mearley Clough 2019

May 17, 2019

Contributed by The McBourne

As we all know, local knowledge is a great advantage when it comes to fell racing. And Clayton Le Moors Harriers know this more than anyone. They positioned themselves en masse, closest to the start and followed the direct line so they were well ahead of anyone else when given the get go. Of course I’m talking about the free post-race pasta in the Calf’s Head rather than the race itself but full credit to them.

And credit once again to them for organising one of the most popular mid-week blasts in the racing calendar. You know sometimes you have those strange quirks of fate when a couple of days after two football teams meet in a major cup game, they then have to play each other in a midweek league game? Well, this had that feel to it; as the majority of runners had gallivanted around the Pendle Cloughs race only a few days earlier, ascending the descent (which is crying out to be an album title if you ask me).

It’s been a week of Cloughs then and it got me to thinking about my favourite Clough. Not that one young man, but Clough Williams-Ellis architect extraordinaire of Portmerion and Northampton’s second finest son. The first of course being comic book write Alan Moore, whom I’m sure I’ll manage to wangle into a race write up at some point.

This race is a fairly straightforward out, up, across and back route from the village of Worston. Decision number one is whether to follow the well-worn path made by the leading runners across the start field or wade through a foot of lush green grass.

I quite often run through Little Mearley Hall during the week and there’s a rather excitable Border Collie chained up at the farm that gets quite animated whenever I run past. Thankfully it’s not here tonight, which is a good thing as it gives me the willies. With nearly 200 runners he would have lost his voice by now anyway.

The field evens out once past Little Mearley Wood and as I approach the first brook descent I can see a number of Bowland shirts ahead of me. I spot Chris Balderson at the bottom of the climb and think “he’s not that far in front of me” but by the time I hit the descent into the second brook I’m thinking “he is that far in front of me”. A grueling climb direct to the pepper pot follows that gives you a good opportunity to a, snaffle a few jelly babies and b, get as much sheep poo on your hands as possible. It’s hands on before you get the chance to stretch your legs a bit across Pendle Moor.

I always think this race can be quite processional, as in there ain’t a lot of overtaking opportunities until you hit the big descent. And that is a great descent. Not for the faint hearted as the direct route is strewn with a number of large boulders but if you’re prepared to throw caution to the wind it’s the place where you can make up a few places come finishing time. One poor Preston Harrier had gone AOT before being helped down by a couple of volunteers, who should be applauded.

We retrace the route back to the finish and another bottle of Moorhouse’s. Great running from notable Bowlanders includes Sean Bolland first V40 (and fifth overall) with James Simon also in the top ten (ninth). Mark Irving who pre-race admitted he’d rather just sit in the sun, places an admirable seventeenth.

With the midges just beginning to tickle, the post mortem takes place in the Calf’s Head where Colin Whittaker learns the harsh lesson that if you want seconds don’t give the game away by taking up your dirty plate. Although I don’t specifically hear him ask “please Sir, can I have some more”, he was made to wait rather sheepishly whilst the rest of the Bowland contingent made sure that none of the pasta went to waste. We had paid a fiver after all.

Pendle Cloughs 2019

May 12, 2019

Damn you Pendle, you did it again! Your gentle slopes lulling us into a false sense of an easy test. And soI duly bonk on the last ascent to the trig point and have to watch the troupe of runners I’m leading round go past like I’m going backwards. Pathetic.

And damn you Jack Holt. For this v70 canters past easily; he’s been following me most of the way even stopping to drink from the various brooks and streams that I do – seeing as I leave behind my water bottle. Fifteen minutes from the end the temperature plunges and it begins to rain – damn you again Pendle and you George Fox, Quaker Shaker founder (only because we pass his well); an uncomfortable end to a testing route. I’m glad when its over. Not so Jack, he’s in the stream at the finish swishing off the muck with a smile on his face. I grab my bottle of Moorhouses and set off to get into some dry clothes. Still cold , I’m sitting on a wall chatting to some runners when Jack comes by and hops onto the wall too, he’s wearing his flipflops. That is one tough dude.

So what else happened?

Iain E is driving Rowena and me to the race. When they arrive to pick me up at the Uni Rowena gets out to let me have leg room in the front. I’m offended, this is surely reverse sexism, or maybe it’s just good manners – discuss!

The M6 grinds to a halt on the way as there’s a jumper on the bridge at J31. The police shut it for a good half hour. I get out to a look and can clearly see him hanging off the railings. I look back at the miles of cars and the people and its probably fair to say that they wished he would jump. We make it with ten minutes to spare.

While on the journey , and as I’ve done this race several times, I go over the nav with Rowena and Iain who have never done it. Iain has never even been on Pendle Hill. Ro tells me that he’s a top orienteer and should be fine. Well she’s right because he only goes on to win the blooming thing. A fairly strong field too; the second placed runner finished ninth at the 3Ps and Tom Brunt was third. Yes, Iain navved himself around and won it. How good is that? I’m so impressed. I can’t help telling anyone who’ll listen.

Rowena has a nasty fall coming round the back end of Pendle and suffers a cut under her left eye and a broken lens to her spectacles. Then the cold rain sets in to ratchet up the discomfort. The Ancient Stoics must surely have allowed her into their club.

The McBourne comes in shortly after me. I wonder whose music he’s catalogued this time? Last time it was Van Morrison – he has taste has the lad. Paul W was there at the start as well but I didn’t get to see him afterwards.

Interesting info:

  • Iain introduced his dad to orienteering and now he’s a World Champion Speed Orienteer.
  • Rowena never drinks on a race; not even a three hour one like this. And she’s an accomplished and prize winning runner. Rip up those training books peeps.
  • My neighbour’s dad has spina bifida and holds the record for the quickest time on crutches for the Great North Run. In his teens he asked the surgeons to cut his leg off so he could run for Great Britain – they refused.

Many thanks to Clem Harriers for organising this race; especially to Mark Nutter and Andy Firth. Such a great atmosphere and spirit.


Rowena and Iain                                          Gary – who did the route in army boots and                                                                                                 bergen

4    5


Well done Downham and Lord Clitheroe


Coniston Fell Race 2019

May 5, 2019

Crazy, isn’t it! Two years ago when I did this race the course was shortened because of ice and snow. Here today it seems inconceivable. The sun is out and everyone is in holiday mode.. As I recall, the diversion was after Wetherlam and before Swirl How. And the time before that Andy F was on Swirl How to give any Bowlanders a cheer. I feel a keen sense of loss at his passing and quietly say so to myself as my number is called out. Warm and generous to a fault, if heaven exists that’s where Andy is right now; manning the Pearly Gates checkpoint with St Peter and cheering all the newcomers. Deeply sorry for your loss Pam.

My own race goes fairly well, mainly ‘cos I’m following a Kendal runner who’s picking some great lines. But it all falls apart descending Coniston. My own fault, I blindly follow and run into a dead end of crags. I lose minutes dithering to get back on track but its race over for me. Leigh Warby though is in top form and takes first v60 easily. First sighting of Rich M this year and he hasn’t been idle. He looks as fit as a racing snake. After the race I muse with Leigh about having a runner’s low. I’m aware that I suffer a mood slump a day or two after a race. Funnily, he has the same. After the high, there’s the low. Or is it just fatigue? Crispin and his wife – sorry, I can’t recall your name –  pass by so I ask him the same. He’s always grumpy, says his wife. He’s running well though, even with the 3Ps in his legs from last weekend.        Can you believe it but the old guard get 1st and 2nd; Jebby and Holmesy fighting off all pretenders.

Warming up in the field before the race I get talking to good ol’ Selwyn – RO for the 3 Shires and general good egg. He’s running today and says he’s had a pacemaker fitted which kind of means he can’t run faster than it lets him. He’s as chirpy as ever and another stalwart of the sport. Some years ago on Jura I remember him lying down groaning on the morning of race day. What’s up Selwyn, I ask – I had one Danish pastry too many last night and its sitting right there in the middle of my stomach. I haven’t had a wink of sleep. – So, even old, experienced heads get it wrong. Take a look at the photo of the couple from Purbeck, Guy and Wendy. Its on the Dorset coast and he’s come up for this race. They did the same for Causey Pike. Guy also bags a few Wainwrights while he’s up here.   

Coniston Results

Guy and Wendy


Mr Grumpy with better half


Debbie, Carlos and Leigh