Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Saltwell Harriers Fell Race. 5.5 miles.
This is a gem of a race. Often billed as a introduction to fell racing but this has a bit of everything. Contrary to some totally laughable blogs lately, this like most trails and fells is hotly contested up front by supreme athletes and by club folk fighting against each other and other clubs. The guys up front are truly awesome sometimes. It’s like the tricky ground, hills, bogs, steep falls and rocks aren’t there. Although this is only a short blast of a fell I see these guys do it on 20 and 30 milers and its just fantastic especially when you consider proper fell mile is worth two on boring old road. They move almost without effort at speed most of us can only dream of.
Unfortunately this night was tinged with more than a bit of sadness. I was meant to be racing a good fetchie ( and of course real Life) friend. A guy who is the epitome of the words nice and kind. A real gentlemen. His running has been superb lately and where as i use to be somewhere near or we would take it in turns to beat each other, for a while i haven’t a chance of beating him. He has trained hard to recapture his old form and he’s just flying.
Off course Fell more of my territory than his. Somewhere where although i will never be fast (at anything) i do have the skill to keep the little speed I’ve been given and keep it over tricky ground like bogs and fell and storm down hills. I don’t speed up of course because, well I’m just not fast, rather i can just keep it going.
So we were meant to race our friend and i but the most appalling tragedy happened. His partner, only 35 years old passed away unexpectedly. No words can describe the shock. How do you deal with something like that i really don’t know? I hurt just thinking of it so the pain he must be going through -is just imaginable. We are here for you mate-all your friends, and you have many. Not just now but tomorrow, the months and years to come and always.
So not there in body i decided i would race him in spirit. I know a futile gesture to some but I’m not some. We both were mid pack to start and set off up the long grind of a hill. The fast lads (and lasses -scrappy ) are off like whippets with their arses on fire. Northern Runner and scrappy are well up there . I read later NR isn’t happy. He can do a 34 road 10K and this is shorter and does 48. That’s a marvellous time but he is disappointed. There course record held by a young rising fell running superstar(and England runner) is 40 minutes and a couple of seconds so don’t be so hard on yourself mate.
I’m not that good at climbing and the extra lard I’m carrying doesn’t help but we both got a good position as the first bit of single track thru the heather that can slow you down. I overtook where i could and watched some super fast ones crash thru the heather for a place. Round the Mast and along the fence we were neck and neck. Bogs , heather and more single track follow .In the spaces between the keen and knowledgeable take there chances as over taking takes effort of the line. You have to get close enough and have the reserve to not only overtake but do it quickly as sway from the racing line and it will slows you down. Nigel from my club overtakes. I was just behind him last year and i had hoped to start getting him soon but with a full winter non running it’s going to take a while yet.
Soon a bit of downhill and the moorland opens up. We both overtake on the down to the only fell road to cross. I wonder how many cars see this road. Over the road past the little mining ‘tub’ a reminder off t he toil on these hills in years past.. A single track flat bit now. We slow down and get over taken by about 5 and a lass with the most wonderful arse and figure. I decide we will just take a breather... . A sharp turn and we have the 5 over-takers in sight. One by one we get them all and them on the almost vertical downhill to the stream i get another four. Spalsh straight into the stream . Not as high as last year but cold. A string is strung over the stream with self clippers on so you have no option and that’s really why its there.
Lisrun in the stream.
We fling ourselves out and along the single track parallel to the stream. The path is barely a foot width wide,slanted s downwards with a verticle drop. We pick up those ahead without the skill to run this at speed and overtake when the option arises. Then onto bracken track to the fence and a sharp turn to start the step half mile uphill to the finish. Onto a rocky path and we get passed by a Saltwell harrier and a Northumberland fell running lass without a picking on her. The both pull away but with 200 to go we can see the finish and sprint the last up hill bit something the two haven’t got in them to challenge back.
We have given it all. We both finish in 58:30 . One minute 30 faster than last year and half way up the field. Great crac in the pub with friends, club mates, fetcies muddy idiot lisaT , Northern runner and scrappy among others .. A bottle of hobgoblin prize for me as well.
Here’s to tomorrows battles mate. Some we can enjoy together. I can't imagine the unbearable battles you have ahead but we will be there to fight them as best we can right by your side when you need us most. Take care friend.