Fells and fails or king of the Poodles.
Had a couple of weeks off running races after the born to run Ultra. My knee (it’s a medial ligament problem and yes I’ve been to the fizz) was playing up before and of course to be expected after. As I said in my last blog although I enjoyed the race and I’m tempted to go back next year (instead of my brothers birthday it’s now going to be on Feb 23rd – my mums birthday ! ) my legs really don’t like tarmac these days.
15th April , Guisborough moors 12.4Mile 2789ft Ascent.
So the next race was the Guisborough Moors fell race. I do love this race and the Esk valley fell clubs races in general. This one takes in the iconic hills of high cliff nab , captain cooks , Roseberry topping (and little Roseberry ) before the climb back up high cliff nab and my favourite bit the fast mud fest descent. Started off in my usual slow way but once at the top and onto the open moor I was happy. In fact I was feeling really good for a change. Light at the end of the tunnel I ask myself ?
Up captain cooks, a fast descent and as I’m climbing Roseberry topping I catch a glimpse of purple coming down and ( you go up the stone path but down the heather and mud) and think it’s clubmate Dougie .
Now I haven’t been anywhere near Dougie in a long while so I push on . Up to now its been quite warm and sunny but as we climb we get rain , then sleet , then thick snow they sleet again and then hail. I can’t see Dougie now but I’m trying hard to catch someone in front but can’t get near. We then hit the moor proper and it’s a mud fest through barely discernible single track . I’m not bad on stuff like this and manage ot catch a few. Last climb back up the Nab and soon flying down through the trees with thick clarty mud flying everywhere. No Dougie insight but I had a good run. Back to the rugby club to see clubmates and then Dougie appears..in the blue and white of durham fell runners – he’ wasn’t in our club purple at all. He said he was trying to catch but couldn’t . two years since I beat him so I’m happy with that.
21st April , Anniversary waltz :The Classic Route – Grade AM 11.5 miles, 3600 foot of ascent
Did this race last year when the clag was down and apart from the start and finish I saw nothing! Night before was way to many pints and from the off I know I was in trouble. When will I learn !
Dougie passed me very early on and had a quick chat . beeritis I told him , self inflicted injury ! Anyway , loved the climb up Robinson and even ended up helping a few up the scramble. This year could not have been different with beautiful views , from Robinson to ,Hindscarthto Dalehead , High spy and down the classic route over catbells.
Loved the route but felt like shit to be honest. I more or less jogged it in , taking some photos and chatted to a lad from Northumberland fell runners. Back at base and my two club mates had been in a while but waited for me.
22 April , Hamsterley wild race. 10 mile (probably 500ft of ascent but I don’t really know)
Next day I should have been riding with my bike club but it looked wet and miserable when I was deciding and a text popped up, ‘ Fancy that wild race pick you up in 10 ? . So off we went .
Now I’m loath to criticise the wild races in any way. The RD is is a friend and he works tirelessly for charity and most of the money raised goes to theses charities (water aid mainly ). But this wasn’t what I wanted nor thought I was getting. That maybe not their fault mind, I’ve noticed dolomite going down all over the place recently and instead of muddy trails I got wide open dolomite tracks. We did go over some moor but it was a bit boring and tame. Still it did mean it was fast. Andrew had also picked up Yusuf on the way . Yusuf is living in Durham a while doing some advance maths at the uni is 22 years old and like having your own personal tigger ! bounce, bounce, bounce. He’s great fun. Anyway I could see him just ahead for most of the race but managed to catch him by I’m guessing about 7 miles. Mind I had to work hard for it and after with the anniversary and with this in my legs they were shot!
28th April , The fellsman . 61 miles 1100ft of ascent.
I commented on a blog recently that stats like the above (61 miles 1100ft of ascent ) mean very little really. I you think there is another race alongside the anniversary waltz called Teenagers with attitude that has 7,500ft ascent in just 16 milesbut it’s the terrain that gets you. The reason the Lakeland 100 is so much harder than nearly every hundred is the terrain. They deliberately take you over every rocky pass and you have no choice but to take the route.
Make no mistake this in my humble opinion is race mile for mile is one of the UK’s toughest. Taking friends who had finished it (and in good conditions ) times who were comparable to my times in races like the fling –just under 12 , hardmoors 55 -13-14 . There times for the felsman in good conditions was 22 to 24 hours! Thats some diffrence!
And… that’s why I was a bit of an idiot to go into it with tired legs. Yes it’s all training but there are mid races that you can do this on and this isn’t one of them. Add that to poor weather, feeling a bit iffy and you can only expect disaster. Well , not disaster, I knew I wasn’t good , I kept at it for 6 hours odd but I knew it wasn’t going to be my day and pulled out ,frankly knacked.
Unfortunately only 140 of the 500 were to finish as the weather got worse and worse and after a quick-fire spate of hypothermia cases the organisers had no choice but to cancel the race after about 19 hours. So, I would not have made it home even had I continued. I had to feel for the organisers who were truly brilliant having to do this on the events 50th birthday. Very sad.
But heck I loved the route. It can only be described as wonderfully brutal. Brutal climbs and descent interspersed with miles of deep bogs. Fantastic. This will be my A race along with UTMB next year. Yes that’s how much respect this race deserves and not idiots like me tuning up on tired legs. Anyway the disc tally you get is an absolute thing of beauty and I want it on my wall with all the tally points marked. See you next year Mr Fellsman.
anyway with the Sunday free and wanting a rest I helped marshal art the Durham Duathlon. Grand day out.
2nd May. Carlton challenge 5 miles 1181 ft.
So you wonder why I’m doing the first of of the Esk valley evening summer series just a few days later ! . Well Yusuf is hungry for as much running as possible before he heads home and eager to see as much of the countryside as possible. He’s never done a fell race and i would say he is apprehensive but in truth he’s just excited about everything. He asked about maps, compass etc on our club Facebook page and a club mate puts on all the FRA the requirements. Of course it has the kitchen sink! I tell him not to worry and I’ll bring what he needs. See these races although fells are brilliant for the first timers. I know the RD marks the course and has mountain bikers all over it to keep folk right. Mind he doesn’t tell you that. So I pick the lad up and we are soon at the start. Quick chat with the lovely Fran and some other regulars and we are off. Well the field are. Yusuf and I had gone back to the car and had to hair tail it after the field!
Brilliant course made all the better by the mud and fallen trees. I come across Danny, anoher club mate doing his first fell & going like a bat out of hell ! I dally behind him and quietly tell him to ease up as the 2nd half is all uphill. I thought had shaken of Y but going up Carlton bank I hear his voice asking where the top is. Brilliant, he’s handled the course like a pro! But I have my own battle. Anthony ahead and it’s a long time since I beat him. Push my tied legs and I know if I can get within 10 yards I will take him on the down but he’s too strong. Yusuf come in soon after and the tigger , is beaming from ear to ear.
Fantastic he says – You can’t help but smile.
Danny is soon in and our club mates have all had a great run. It’s pretty cold after and few hang about on the fell for the prize giving. Now I know the RD buys lots of wine and often makes up prizes or just gives it away if he has to much. I want young Y to get a bottle so we hang around and sure enough he does. You’d think the smile could get bigger but it does. !
4th May Black Rock. 4.3 mile.
So a few days later I was going to do a fast road race from Edinburgh to North Berwick for no other reason than I like 20 milers , they’re not many about and I’ve had my eye on it for a while but it clashed. I mention this on FB and a friend Christina says well its Black rock the evening before if you can get a place. The wonders of Facebook and I have my place (officially transferred) and also a sofa for the night.
And what a bloody brilliant race this is. Excellent meet up with old friends and even manage to give a lift to an old mate Rob who works in Ed. Seems with 800 folk going to the races they cancelled the trains !
So you start under a viaduct at sea level and run (I’m guessing these) 300m up a steep hill then it’s down a long hill to the sea and out onto the beach. I used to know the name of the ripple effect on sand but it escapes me. Anyway it’s not easy to run on. Out to an outcrop of rocks (with folk sitting on it supporting and taking pic’s) and back to the long hill (guessing about just less than a mile).
Once up the top it’s the sharp down you started on and then the sting in the tail, it’s sharp left up an equally steep hill . Now I go the finish mixed up. There were so many supporting and those who had finished that I thought the halfway point up the hill was the finish. Just then Scotty appears for the old sprint finish. Now I’m meant to be taking it easy but you just can’t say no can you. Up to half way only for the crowd to part and there is just as much left to run. Just outsprint scotty and we have a great laugh. Bottle of beer prize, wonderful old friends and fish and chips to finish. Brilliant!
5th may . EDINBURGH TO NORTH BERWICK (Road race)
So it’s German rye bread and nuttella for breakie left out from Christina who had left to get the bus out to some place and run back 16 miles meeting me along the way. Love rye bread and the nuttella was surprising nice. Cheers Christina.
Now this race makes no bones about it. It’s for faster club runners. Yes I can hear you now, what am I doing in it. Well my PB is 2; 50 and the cut of is 3;30. Now I know I’m way of any PB pace but I think I’d have to have a mare to get taken out the race.
At the start they tell you a few time the cut offs at 5 and 10 miles. A second more and you are out-AND THEY MEAN IT! Off we go and first 5 in 43 (glancing at my watch), 7 mintes inside, 10 miles in 1;33 also 7 minutes inside so im fine and onto 15. From here it fell apart. I got cramp which I never really get except when swimming sometimes but did get in bed the night before for some reason.I slowed and basically had a nightmare. Folk passed me till in the last couple of miles I was in last place.(not sure how many got took out the race mind as there were a fair fe in the bus ). My first real last place!. The sweeper comes along and really I should be taken out the race as obviously I will not make the finish in 3;30.
Turns out he is whw family and just posted 10 something for the fling. He knows my name and we plod on. 3:33. Meet Ian and Lorraine and Lesley at the finish and tell them what a mare I’ve had. I get severe cramp again in Ian’s car. Heck it bloody hurts doesn’t it ! You'd think i'd been shot when it hit my claf.
Listen to the ceremony and the bus driver taking us back is a bit sharp leaving and some of us are stranded. Runners head for the trains and busses but I manage to cadge a lift back with one of the organisers who is furious with the driver. They ask me if anything could be improved in the race and quite honestly I say no. The organisation was perfect and if it doesn’t clash then I’ll give it a proper go next year.
So my fist wooden spoon. or as Christina says –the German version is king of the poodles ! wonderful !
So that it, my legs wrecked good and proper now by races and training ( i do actually train as well btw ) and with Hardmoors 110, my first race that matters in 23 days it’s into easy mode. I have one fell tomorrow 5M , 1100ft (Yusuf says he’s gonna get me ), a cross country next week and I might do something slow but its swimming and cycling now and try and freshen my legs up. I wish I was fitter and lighter but Hardmoors is important to me so come what may I’ll give it my best shot.
BTw, i was back in time for the marathon of the North or the sunderland marathon as everyone is calling it .had lots of club mates and friends doing this or the 10k so i spent the day in barnes park ,one of my mums favourite places to play when she was little to support. I 'm so plaesed for them especially the first time marathoners. Also so pleased the race got such good reviews. Onwards and upwards for this one i feel .
And while he lives, he wields the boasted prize, Whose value all can feel, the weak, the wise; Displays in triumph his distinguish'd boon,
The solid honours of the Wooden Spoon