Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Stoney Middleton Fell Race

Stoney Middleton Fell Race
A short mid week race this one and I was not looking forward to the start as it just goes on and on up the road out of the village of Stoney Middleton which is very steep. A few of our club had turned up for this race and most seemed to have an excuse of an injury or problem as to why they was not going to run well.
I used to smile at older runners when they said to me wait until your older and see what its like.
I now am that runner. At 38 the last couple of years have been harder to keep the training mileage up without getting niggles or twinges. Although ive never really ( touchwood ) been injured I do get lots of pain and cannot honestly say I ever run pain free but then again its like that for lots of runners.
Probably down to the years spent welding and working on site in all weathers. Heavy engineering is a hard trade and it takes its toll. Thankfully I can now leave that to the younger generation.
This wasnt a good course for me as there was loads of trail and road. Hardly a fell race really, more cross country than fell. The roughest and most technical part came three quarters of the way in on the descent were there was a bit of wet limestone to overcome. Maybe i wasnt focused correctly but as I flung myself down the descent and rapidly gained position on the runner in front of me I came a cropper. Bang id hit my knee at full pelt on a tree trying to negotiate a log. The pain was unreal but I managed to hobble on and eventually start running after a few hundred yards. Thankfully I didnt lose any position and was mighty pleased to see the finish funnel in the playing field.
My knee had another fresh gash in it but nothing to serious. Painfull but certainly not requiring stitches.
After going through the usual never doing it again scenario for ten minutes after the race I sat in the back of the van and said to myself I would probably be back next year.

Another injury ( only a scratch though)
So another race completed and I was fairly satisfied with my place in the field. It was a lovely night mind and you have to remeber those, as winter soon comes round. And winter fell races are a different ball game altogether than summer mid week races. A quick lime and soda in the pub in the village and off home.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Kentmere Fell Race

Kentmere Fell Race

High up on Harter Fell

The start of the fell race in Kentmere Village

The summit of III Bell, checkpoint 1 on the race

Kentmere Village Church

The final run in being pursued by a teammate

Yet another Lake District fell race that ive longed to do but circumstances have always been against me. But this year it had been included in our clubs championships so I decided to give it a good crack. Billed in the FRA calendar as 11.9miles with about 3300ft of climbing its not an easy race and has a notoriously difficult long first climb.
Its a frantic start on the road with a one or two runners falling in the scramble. Why people fly off in these long hard races is beyond me as the field soon sorts itself out anyway but each time a starter says go it doesnt matter whether its a 5 mile race or 25mile race its always a dash to get your place.
Like I said a hard first climb and really id just decided to remove the cassete out of my brain and accept that for easily an hour or so its going to be running uphill ( Ouch).
We climb out of Kentmere Village and on to the path heading for Yoke summit which is bypassed to the left as its not actually a checkpoint on the race. III Bell which is the next summit is and I say a thankyou to the summit marshall for his services. Then next summit along the ridge isnt needed to be visited either, so Frostwick as its known is passed by on the left also. Along the technical ridge path now with Thornwaite Crag to our left but we are heading for the furthest and highest summit of the race which is High Street. I cram a few jelly beans into my mouth as I pass the metal post just under Thornwaite Crag and realise High Street is now not to far away.

Although not to far away and not that steep, High Street takes a bit of ticking off but the Trig Point is reached and finally after a long time Im heading downhill but not for too long. This is were it goes a bit wrong. Im suddenly on my own and make the dreaded wrong turn or wrong line as its known in fellrunning. I quickly have to contour across to my right as I realise other runners are passing me. I rejoin and pass them again and head towards Nan Bield pass but stupidly take another wrong line. So enough is enough and my teamate who has wisely decided to follow a local more knowledgeable runner has now caught me up so I slot in behind him and both of us really just allow him to take us the best line through the crags.
We are soon back on the path and we both thank the local runner for his services and start to pace each other back to Kentmere Fell which is the last checkpoint on the race. After the checkpoint its flat out on the descent back to Kentemere which lies far below in the valley. The run in varies from grassy slopes to rocky technical and even boggy. A bit of everything and Im on the limit as i try in vain to keep with my teammate who is faster than me on the descents. My strong point always has been runnable climbing.
All to soon we are on the track which leads back to the start field and both enter the village together on the track. As we enter the field my teammate just manages to outsprint me to take maximum championship points.
We have finished in the top twenty in the race which is good for us both and proves that if you have two teamates together it does help. A quick shake of hands and a few cups of water and its up to the village hall for a sandwich and a cup of tea.
All our fellow teamates manage to finish so its a succesfull day for the club.
Im pleased personally because its yet another new race completed and completed well. One problem I have is the blister which covers the whole of my right heel. A wound from the skiddaw race which has refused to heal up. Driving home is always hard as your body always stiffens up after being put through the rigours of a race.
My treat at home is a long soak in the bath.
All in all a good day and a brilliant fell race. Organised by Pete Bland and his helpers.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Black Rocks Fell Race

Black Rocks Fell Race

Thewooden bridge thats like an ice rink in the wet but thankfully this year it was dry

The return view of the incline. Your legs should be jelly at this point.

Now being local I've done this one a few times but the race does not actually visit the rocks it winds its way from the Rugby club near the mill in Cromford, blasts along the track and basically heads up to the summit trig and returns via the woods back down to the canal path again and back to the Rugby club.

Normally about a hundred runners attend and this year was no different. A quick blast around the field then flat out along the canal to the start of the incline. This is were you wish you had not bothered. Its a mindset of a climb with one of those gradients that has to be ran and just got out of the way. At the top we turn into the woods and then drop down back to the path at the top of the incline. We then head for the summit after another blast along the path. This is where it starts to steepen but if you can keep going you save a lot of time. I know from experience that its just a few hard hard minutes to the trig point so keep running. All too soon i hit the trig point and the marshall gives me a smile and says the hard work is done but actually its not. The descent back down to the woods is made tricky at first by the many rocks and boulders that have to be traversed with the added problem of meeting oncoming runners that are coming up behind you. You dont want to be running into someone flat out. ( It bloody hurts , i know). we then turn off and there is only one way you can attack this descent and thats quick or you will be caught and god forbid have to race for your place back along the canal path to the finish. I manage to get back to the bottom of the incline with about 150yds between myself and the runner behind me. Now everyone knows you should never look back in a race as it costs you time, but every runner i know does this and if they say they dont there lying. I get to the canal bank and for a crazy moment think im in with half a chance of catching the runner in front. I try to sprint but realise my legs are like jelly and have not recovered from the Skiddaw fell race on Sunday. I am catching him but in the end he beats me by about 20 yds. i descover later that he is the first Under 20 runner. Im 38 so not too bad given ive got eighteen years on him. Things dont ache when your 20. A quick lime and soda in the bar and check my position and time and its another race done and time for home. I resist a filet of fish in Mcdonalds on the way back but have to have a Latte.

These are the rocks that we dont visit

A link to Matlock AC. A good club that organise quite a few local fell races.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Skiddaw Fell Race

Setting off complete with water bottle and girly trainers
Descending in the heat, my legs are shot

Skiddaw summit from Fitz Park

The Skiddaw mountain range above Keswick

Skiddaw summit plateau

The Skiddaw Fell Race
Standing at 3054 ft and overlooking the town of Keswick, Skiddaw is one of the major fells within the lake district and having run or climbed its slopes many times id never actually ran the race.
Its a fairly straightforward fell race that starts in Fitz Park at the cricket pitch and climbs past the smaller fell of Latrigg then onto Jenkin Hill towards Skiddaw Little Man then finally climbing up to the main summit of Skiddaw.
Sounds easy but not on a baking hot Sunday.
Now i dont run well in the hot weather and this race is famous for runners blowing up on the baking slopes.
As usual the race flies off at the start and all to soon we are climbing aound Latrigg and Im thnking god this is unreal. I race up with a couple of runners that I know are roughly about the same as me and we share the pace. The first gate is reached and I remember it well from my Bob Graham day. The race is basically the start of the BG round until you get to the summit. Then instead of continuing on to do another 41 peaks the race just turns around and heads back down to where you come from.
By the time we are on Jenkin Hill im suffering and just really shuffling up the steep slopes. From experience i have carried a water bottle up with me and i have a little drink and then pass it to a fellow runner so he can have a drink
Ive always been a help others type of runner and work on the saying of what goes around comes around.
The final plod to the sumit is hard, bloody hard but finally I reach the trig point and thank the summit marshall for his time and turn and head for home. I still have the water bottle which is 1/2 full but have another use for that later.
Now its flat out down down down and more down. My legs are screaming in pain. A group of us are going very fast but as the slopes steepen and we re trace our steps my legs start to turn to jelly.
Slower but certainly not lesser runners are still running up the hill and its time for me to look out for a fellow runner. I slow and hand the water bottle over and its a perfect swap. I continue with a word of thanks ringing in my ear. I shout back good luck and just head on down.
That is a thankyou for a helping hand given to me in a previous race. Like I say what goes round comes round.
Now as we descend back to the gate we have a grassy bank to overcome and this is were my legs just pack up and wont work. Its tough terrain and a runner comes by me but straight away falls and lands on his face. I shout (you okay mate) and he just says yes and gets up and carries on.
Before I know it we blast back on the main path and are nearly home. A quick skirt around Latrigg and down towards Fitz Park but Im joined by familiar company. Two guys from different clubs have caught me and that means a tough run in. The Dark Peak runner goes first and leaves me and the other lad to just lod in and be happy with our positions.
We cross the finish line and collapse after shaking hands.
After 9 miles and 2700ft of climb all i can do is just lie on the grass under the sun. A drink of water out of a bucket and my work for the day is done.
For a grand total of £5 ive taken part in one of the most famous fell races.
My time of 1hr 23mins and some seconds gives me i think 26th place. Tne winner is back in about 1 hr 9mins I think but I never bother much about results.
Incidentally the race record is about 1 hr held by the famous fellrunner Kenny Stuart. I look back up to Skiddaw as I lie there and wonder how the hell that anyone could run that race that quick.
A couple of pieces of cake and its homeward bound down that M6 again.