Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Hopefully It Wakes

This race normally attracts a large field and you get a lovely atmosphere. The childrens races are first and there was a few notable performances from the Pennine young uns.
It was a very warm night but thankfully the cricket field had dried out enough to give ample parking. A couple of vehicles became stuck but plenty of fellrunners gave them a push out. No tractors required.
The race route is fairly straightforward and I know it, so no worries about taking wrong turns at this one.
The start was rapid and after doing two races at the weekend and two fairly hard bike rides this week and a long run I was struggling a bit. Mick Stenton was breathing down my neck and kept me pushing on really. You get a bit of respite around the back side of Win Hill in the woods and I started to feel a bit better. The climb starts again as you turn for home and its pretty steep but really all runnable to the summit top.
I was closing down on Dave Neil and Johnny Wilson and two other lads I dont quite know but they just topped out before me and I knew it would be hard to catch them.
I reeled in one runner but could not quite catch the others even though I went flat out down to Twitchill Farm. The next part is road so I lost my advantage a little bit and the positions kept the same to the finish.
I did try to sprint the runner in front but the finish funnel came all too quickly and that was that.
A nice chat with the tea ladies and a piece of flapjack was most welcome.
Some of the front runners went astray which slightly altered the placings.
I think I came 5th which was okay.
I slumped down at the end pretty exhausted. I really should try and rest a bit more before a race.
Although there is always Winster Fell Race tonight.
Kidding. No many fellrunners do three races a week.
I was only talking to one lad the other week who had done 85 races last year. Thats huge.
I do try and fit in as many local races that I can each year though. Without support they dont happen. Simple as that.
I threw a quid in the Mountain Rescue box as I drove out the car park.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Chrome Hill Fell Race

It was strange how Steve ( SRBT) posted on the Tideswell Race post about the Chrome Hill Race. I had already planned to do this earlier in the year. So another one that I have not done before.
It is an amazing area. A coral reef which is stunning to look at.
The race attracts just a few runners but I love these events. The village fete races are just so grass roots fellracing. That is what they are. Simply run up the fellside and back without much care in the world.
Only 4 miles in length and for about 1 1/2 miles I was leading the race eagerly looking for the tape that was marking the course. On the first climb I was overtaken by two other runners and I settled into third place. By the time we started the main climb up over Chrome Hill I had caught up with them so I decided to hammer it off the top. I reached the bottom of the fell in first place. Again they duly came by and I was back in third place again but first Vet 40.
300 yds later and all three of us missed the right turn that took you back to the Village School and the finish.
We ran for about 1 /12 miles before realising we had gone wrong.
As I said to one of the lads. That's fellracing.
This can happen a lot when you are battling for the lead. |Your mind is so focused on catching the other runners that you miss the tapes.
Everyone at some point does it in fellracing.
What a lovely race though and I will definitely be back now that I know the route.
Well organised and the part over the ridge is pretty spectacular.

The bowl

That is the bowl I won last night at Tideswell. Maybe it is the same as yours Marvin. I am told hand made by local potter Chris Jensen. Very nice. It is sitting in the cabinet along with a few other pieces.
One thing is certain in Fellracing. You never quite know what you are going to win and if you keep at it long enough you can build up quite a little collection of memories.
But I am always mindful that I am lucky to be in a position of winning a few bits and bobs. Some fell runners never win anything at all but they are just as special and important in the races that I do.
Every runner that takes part in a fell race is as special as the next.
One of the things that I have always liked to do after finishing is to go and clap the runners in who are finishing behind me. You see it less and less nowadays but I have always done this. It is very important to me to acknowledge all who take part.
I have even given prizes away.
One of the things that has always griped me in certain races is when the Ladies don't get the same amount of prizes as the men. I have raced when the first ten men get a prize and only the first three ladies get one.
I don't like that. Never have and never will.
Yes I suppose more men take part in your average race, but so what.
I could go on
Anyway its a nice bowl. Not many of us have one
And another bizarre statistic is maybe there is only 1 Bob Graham partnership that has a bowl a piece.
Hope so. That would be special.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Tideswell Fell Race

Did this race earlier tonight and it was a little gem. I nearly did it a few years ago but didn't quite make it. Another one of those low key Peak District races that truly epitomise what our sport is all about. Pull up, pay 4 quid, run the race, have some banter with your fellow fellrunners and then go home.
At only just over 4 miles it wouldn't take long. I think it had 800ft of climb in it.
It really only had 1 big climb which took some getting up but by the time I had reached the top I was in second place and managed to hold that position until the finish taking the First Vet 40 place as well.
I won a lovely bowl 
I don't save many prizes that I win. Wine and the odd bottle of spirits I give away. Ive won more T shirts that I could ever wear. But I save the special ones in a little cabinet.
This bowl will go in it.
As local races go this one takes some beating.
Great organisation and it would make a perfect first time fell race.

Great Lakes Fell Race English Championship

The Great Lakes was tough. The weather was pretty bad and I knew it would be a hard day on the fellside. The race takes in some big summits. Bowfell, Great End, Scafell Pike, Scafell and on and on. Navigation was going to be a problem but I know the route to Scafell pretty well having done it numerous times. The run back from Slight Side to Pike O Blisco would be the tricky bit.
I tend to look at hard rough weather race days as opportunities instead of worrying about going wrong.
The only problem was I was running this race on the back of Ennerdale and Duddon, but this being an English Championship race which I am attempting this year, it had to be done.
I set off with about 20 bearings and managed to get to Scafell okay. Funny but I actually remember feeling pretty good coming off Broad Crag.
By the time I reached the climb to Scafell a small group had formed and I had some pretty good company.
We hammered it to Slight Side and plunged down the gully. The swollen River Esk was a raging torrent and being small I crossed with a group of four and we helped each other over the river.
Blisco took some reaching and I was getting weary coming off the top. The final descent was a sliding down on my butt affair. It killed me and I jumped in the river on my own barely just managing to stay upright. A short run to the finish and I had managed twelfth place. Many of the stronger lads had gone wrong which made for some unusual finishing positions.
Pennine had a great turnout and we had some brilliant performances.
It was an epic day but I have learnt that on bad weather days when the clag is down many things can happen.
Great organisation by Ian Barnes and his team. The helpers and marshals deserve awards for being out in that weather.

Nice photo of me by Paul Dobson

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ice creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme

Had a Magnum last week.
There I have admitted it

Duddon Long Fell Race

Thick clag made this years Duddon race a tricky one. Good navigation skills were needed and I didn't really get my compass out until after reaching Hardknott Pass.
Before that I had made an error and ended up somewhere around Peathill Crag just before the road. So that was error number one.
I got my compass out heading up to Hardknott and navigated fine down into Moasedale. The trudge up Little Stand I tried pulling back the front group but was just shy by about 30 meteres. I then made the mistake a second time by not going a bit easier off the top and navigating properly. Another ten minutes lost.
After re gaining the trod down to Wrynose Pass and the Stone, myself and another runner had probably lost about 12minutes but we carried on strongly to make up good time.
We didnt make any more errors after that but It was clear that position wise we would be a little down.
Its funny how two runners can work together to pull things back but that we did and by the time we reached the last checkpoint of Caw we had done well.
Coming off Caw has not been kind to me in the past but Mike Johnson from Bowland led us down perfectly. He being the other runner that I spent 99 per cent of the race with. A true ambassador for our sport and has been up there with the top runners for many years.
He finished 10th and I finished 11th.
A really tough day and many tales of runners going astray all over the route.
The Duddon race is not the easiest route to navigate and I had not had time to recce it enough.
I was pleased to get round under 3 1/2 hours.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mudguards ?

My Winter Bike ( Sorry no Mercian winter bike pictures available so I have posted up a querky brand instead) is about to be built up using my groupset that has come off my Rourkie. I now have the dilema of do I fit mudguards on it or not. Do I keep myself fairly dry on wet rides?.
I have asked myself this many times over the years. I dont do a lot of chain gang riding nowadays. So do I or dont I.
NO NO NO NO pleeeease nooooooooooooo.
Bikes dont look right with them on. Im forty one not seventy five, I quite like the fact that I can feel the wet up my back on a long ride.
Once you cross that line before you know it you will have a saddle bag, tools and one of the flappy mudguard extensions and be stopping every 20 miles for an egg custard.
I say keep the bike looking sleek and grin and bear it.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Ennerdale Race was a great experience on Saturday. It was a tough day on the fells and one of my target races for the year. I set off pretty quickly and worried whether I would last all the way to the finish. In the end the wheels came off going over the top of Crag Fell which was the last descent. I knew by that time that I was 1st Vet 40 which is what I wanted. It was hard and the previous recces proved invaluable on the day
I desperately wanted to clock under 4 hrs for this horseshoe and coming off Haycock I was getting worried. The clock was ticking and I thought I had not gone fast enough. But I then remembered we had started a little after 11o clock. Adrenalin kicked in and I blasted down through the flagged part at the finish. I made it by just a few seconds. This is a brilliantly organised event and I thanked every marshal en route going round.
Kenny Stuart holds the record at 3hrs 20mins. I mean what !!!!. That is just unreal. That would put him at the finish with me somewhere just past Haycock. I looked at my watch around there and did wonder and think Kenny would have been sat down at the finish now. But hey Kenny was a truly gifted and talented fellrunner. I will be back as I think given the right day I could go faster than what I did. More Kendal Mint Cake maybe and a little bit more refined recceing and err a massive tail wind all the way back to Ennerdale. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Today I passed by

Another set of flowers by the roadside. Someone has been knocked off a bike. Maybe a motorbike rider or a cyclist. It could even have been a pedestrian. My gut feeling thinks its another cyclist who has simply not been seen and has now entered the void. A terrible thing. As a roadman I probably cycle 150 odd miles most weeks which puts me at risk of a collision. I take precautions such as wearing highly coloured cycling kit and Ive always believed that if you ride at a good pace in traffic you are safer then riding slowly. Drivers dont see cyclists. Its as simple as that. I get asked a lot by people if I worry about being struck on my bike. The answer is of course !!!!!. But not one of these people have ever asked me what I actually get out of riding a bike. So after all the risks, and odd times I think what if ?. The art of riding a bike, and it is an art gives me many things. Freedom. No one can ring me, e mail me, shout at me, tell me its my fault. I am alone when pedalling and that is a wonderful thing. The bike has kept me fit. I am now heading for my 42nd year and weigh 9stone 10 and can still ride at 20mph uphillanddowndale. I have not had a cold for over 4 years. It enables me to feel better than i felt when i was twenty. The bike takes me places that I would have never been to. Whilst television becomes more mainstream in our lives I can pedal and gain a hundred things more than that bloody box in the corner of the room can ever give me. But most of all the bike allows me to suffer. Any roadman or woman will tell you about suffering. Most will buy a bike and suffer maybe three or four times. Ive suffered on a bike until I have collapsed in a heap. Everytime i go for a ride I make myself suffer. Suffering keeps you rounded. You have to like the repetition and the work that goes with riding a bike thousands of miles a year. You need that suffering to appreciate the special things in life. More people should ride bikes. That way we would get more awareness of the plight of cyclists. Its time this country gave cyclists more rights and quite frankly got motorists to bloody slow down. Those flowers will die, more will replace them. The cyclist will never be forgotten and I will done my cap sometimes when I pass. The bike is an amazing machine. My life wouldnt be the same without it.