A tale for Mike…

While Mike had his illness, we managed to do a few ‘harriers’ outings with him. I thought I would recount a couple of Mike’s last adventures.

The first of these was on a chilly Saturday last November. Mike was picked up in the morning and clumsily bundled into the van like a fumbled get-away! Annie made this look quite easy when she demo’d the manoeuvre, but it was the best that John Murfin, Gary Allsopp and I could do to get him seated ‘in position’. Destination Barbon. Mike had his Mk1 chair with its ridiculously small wheels and no electric motor… We had a little route planned, one that the harriers include on the usual ‘Barbon Run Circuit’ taking in the lovely woodland path up from the church, by the river and up to the footbridge at the bottom of the infamous Fell Race route. We had no plans to do this with him…

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We parked in the village hall, a handy car park for the Church Mouse Café, where we stop for refreshments afterwards. It was a cold crisp day and we got Mike properly wrapped up, so much so he took on the appearance of ‘Michelin Man’. We took shifts on ‘push’, and we were soon going up the infamous driveway way to Barbon house, were the race cars and motorbikes reach 100mph on the hill climb days, we were doing about 2mph flat out. Soon we reach the bridle-path and within a 100m of off-road scuttling we realised we were going beyond the intended usage of the chair. Each time we came up against a pebble or small protrusion, we would come to an abrupt stop and Mike would be flung forward and saved by his belt. We soon found a ‘wheelie’ position provided best progress. Halfway along the path where the river bridge is, we stopped for a wee dram, to stoke us up for the final hard push. John and I were proper slackers, as it seemed only fair and right that Gary does 50% of the work while us two do 25% each, we worked this out because Gary had just come off a long haul jet and had been eating lots of rich food for at least the last 30hours and therefore he needed the exercise.

We made good progress and were soon out of the woods and on the Fell with lovely views in all directions and all the Autumn colours on show. Nearing the river crossing we were pleased to see a new bridge in place, to replace the one that got washed away in the floods of December 2015. Great stuff, we wouldn’t have to ‘ford’ the river with Mike. On closer inspection we realised the chair was a little too wide to fit across, however we worked out that if we rocked him right back we could travel across it and reach the comfort of the smooth tarmac on the other side. Once over, fast progress was made to the top of the village. Going down from Barbondale into the village is very steep though and we again had to keep a good hold of the chair, so that it did not accelerate off un-braked into the village.

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Soon at the café we all piled in and found a little table after a bit of crashing and banging we had Mike installed, we looked like a bunch of ‘L’ drivers trying to get him in place. The people there were really accommodating and we had some great food. It made for a memorable outing! We had a few more little outings with Mike, one around Cowan Bridge to the Highwayman Inn in March, then another in May, which I will tell you about…

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Mike had just come out of a ‘bad patch’ and was keen to get out and have an explore, we were using the new electric ‘buggy’ now. I had learnt from the last time I went out with him (which was with Kerry) that the buggy is quite quick and requires a good pace to keep up with it, so this time I thought I would take the bike. The buggy has had some wheel issues with its old tyres and punctures, however these had all been replaced and it was looking in good shape for a ride out. This time it was just myself along with Mike, Annie suggested we stick to a route of around 6-7 miles maximum. I had something in mind to head towards Cold Cotes. We were soon bombing along the road towards Ingleton, having a good natter, Mike suggested we aim for Gary’s house, hoping that someone would be in. We crossed the busy A65 and were heading up the nice little lane to Gary’s place, all good with battery levels all in check and I had clocked 4 miles so far. Vehicles were in the drive at Gary’s so things looked good for our brew stop, as it happened all the family was in and we got the usual friendly Allsopp welcome and dragged inside. I always like going to Gary’s place as there is always an abundance of cake, how Gary stay’s in such great shape with such temptation near by is beyond me!

We enjoyed a nice cup of tea and catch-up, plus we had recruited another rider to join the outing, Gary got his kit on, selected one of his many bikes and joined us. So we set off up the hill to the ‘top road’ then it would be a simple matter of cruising down into Ingleton back over the A65 and along the back roads to Bentham, via Andrew Hinde’s – rude not to call in for another cup of tea! We had being checking the battery levels and they seemed to be happily in the ‘green’, by now we’d covered some miles, Mike assured us it would go on for at least 10… Soon after crossing the main road, Mike started to lose speed 9mph turned 3mph, after 100m he was stopped. We let the buggy rest for a bit and tried it again, it surged off, then 200m later fizzled out to another halt. By now we were only a quarter mile from Andrew’s, we hoped that he was in, or at least someone was in… We took turns in pushing and this was hard work I tell you! The chair must weigh 60kg plus the weight of Mike, but eventually we had him parked up on Andrew’s drive. No car there, but luckily a knock on the door and Jenny popped out, we explained what had happened, and while we were talking to Jenny, Andrew arrived – fresh from a Fell Race and a super market shop which I really can’t imagine Andrew doing! More cups of tea and a phone call to the ‘Annie Rescue’, we had a good chat with the Hinde’s, with Andrew and Mike recounting some old race’s and stories regaled in the usual ‘Hinde’ wit.  Twenty minutes later Annie zoomed up the drive and we had Mike re-loaded into vehicle and on his way back to Bentham a couple of miles away. So we did not quite manage the sneaky 10 miler that Mike had secretly planned in his head, but we had a great adventure. This was sadly Mike’s last big outing, but it’s one that he’ll remember and we’ll all remember.

R.I.P. Mike you were an ace fella!

2017 Three Peaks Yacht Race – Team Wight Rose

At the start of this year I had planned in my head not to do this Yacht Race for a forth time…

DSC03584 Ship Shape

That was then this is now, and I have decided to write a few words about it as it is my only big race this year and I had a bit of time on the yacht… not often you can do a blog mid Adventure Race!

I have had three great races with the team, getting some good results including winning overall and also cleaning up most of the mountain stages. The skipper Geoff West called me in March and announced that he was fancying another race, this one would make it his fourteenth, he has won seven – he likes doing it and he’s retired – so has plenty of time! I said I would have a think and ask around the ‘odd-ball’ end of the running community who like to do this stuff. Not surprising the Czech Machine – Pavel Paloncy was keen to race it again, so that was half the run team formed. Most others I asked where committed to the other smaller Scottish Islands Yacht Race. So it looked like I was going to have to do it…

That was March, ages away until June. But I was conscious of my lack of running over the last year or so, but the lack of running has given way to tonnes of biking, so I was still fit, but not properly ‘run-fit’. The months ticked by and my running achievement’s were really quite minimal and those few that I did, made for some really sore legs and long recoveries, hence the shift to riding more, as recovery is much, much less. So it reached a point where I thought I would just ‘wing it’ and manage as is [stupid me!] Normally for this race I suffer through Leg 1 – up/down Snowdon, then super-perform on Leg 2 – Scafell and then scrape through Leg 3 – Ben Nevis. Not the best approach really. Also I did not want to let my partner down either – Pavel is optimised for endurance, so he’s not what you’d call super quick, but he just keeps going and no distance or ascent seems to phase him. He is now known as the Czech Machine and many organisers like to invite him to their races to test him and test their race.

The other worry for me on this race is sea-sickness, previously I have suffered then adapted, this year I thought I would be clever and try to get hold of some anti-sickness pills, so I had a chat with  Dr Morris a fellow racer and adventurer and he provided the ‘gear’. June drew closer and my life seemed to explode into a million things to do and some additional problems thrown in for good measure, also the passing of Mike Wynne was a bit of a struggle for me and all my ‘coping mechanisms’ where being stretched to the full. Then the biggest difficulty came – Mike’s funeral was on the Wednesday after the race, I knew in my head that it was I bad idea to race as the chances of finishing Tuesday and in time to get back to Yorkshire would not be guaranteed. I did not want to miss the funeral and Annie had asked me to help bare the coffin. So I asked around the running ‘odd-balls’ again to see if anyone fancied a go – no luck – all busy. I did not want to let the team down either, with sailors coming from Holland and runners from Czech and the boat from the Isle of Wight – it was all kind of a big operation. I had many chat’s with people including Annie and decided that me racing was the best option, I felt happier with this and explained the situation to Geoff, he was concerned but understanding, we agreed to review things as the race progressed, at the time we talked he was starting the seven day journey to deliver the boat to the race start at Barmouth and it had been super windy – wind is what we were wanting – and with good winds we could be finished by Tuesday pm.

As I checked the forecast (as you do!) in the week before the race it appeared a shift of weather patterns was forming, the constant rush of ‘lows’ where giving way to a nice ‘high’, with it – warmer days, little wind, basically lovely beach weather or bike riding weather, but totally crap for a sailing race where I had imposed myself a finish deadline! We drove down to Barmouth, picking Pavel up on the way at the airport, its a nice drive down and we arrived there at Friday tea time. I knew exactly where the sailors would be  – in the bar of the sailing club – they said that they had been hard at all day and were having a rest… It was nice to have Kerry and Henry along at the start as it is a nice festival atmosphere on the race day. I was not expecting the boat to be prep’ed or tidy. I showed Kerry and Henry our race yacht – it was no luxury and in the usual state of mess (only joking!), but that’s how the skipper likes it – he knows where stuff is, but we don’t!

We got through all our pre-race chores, the biggest one being doing a food and supplies shop – quite a lot of food for 5 people for 4-5 days. As midday approached we said our good byes to the family and got on board ready to set off to the start line a mile off shore, start would be at 14:00 – a neap high tide. The wind was blowing, the sun shining, it was a nice place to be. The flare marked the start and we got off to a flying start – 14 boats where sailing and we were at the front and edging away. Leg 1 to Caernarfon is about 70 miles and you round the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula, it is a pretty sail and always an interesting one with crazy tides and currents around the Bardsey Sound (see pic) then the narrow channel into Caernarfon. My stomach was holding up and we were doing 8-9kts, so all was good. A change of direction as we rounded the Peninsula and headed north meant sail change time – time for the spinnaker, sometimes known as a kite, it is a massive sail and simple fills with the breeze and the boat zooms along, we were making 10-11ktsnow  and our time on the first leg would be super quick.

19477822_10212908983896884_1494759491_n Rounding Bardsey Sound

The downside to a quick sail is that the run into Caernarfon would be on low tide, marker buoys mark a channel through the deepest bit. That’s the theory, then ‘bang’ we hit sands and came to grinding halt just 30m off the buoy! Sandbars move. By race boat standards we were in a biggish boat with a 2.3m keel, deeper than most of the other yachts which around 2m or less. Pavel and I were down below getting stuff ready for our mountain run, the sailors scuttled, banged around and shouted above, the wind was pushing the boat onto the bank each time a wave came there was a huge bang as the boat got jolted, sail reefed in the situation seemed slightly better, but the swell was still pounding us. The engine could not shift us, so we anchored to prevent being moved and stuck further. The good thing was we were on a rising tide, if not I am convinced a rescue tow would have been in order. Other following boats eventually caught up and saw us stuck and managed to take a different route, a couple didn’t though, one ‘Team Ajax’ being perilously close and was getting pushed our way, we avoid by a few meters. After about 75mins and a lot of thrashing and pounding I could see our position relative to the buoy move, which meant we were off!

I was now feeling ill again having chucked up twice already I decided to have an anti-sickness pill – but not the best time to have it, the best time to have it is an hour before you go on the water… We made it to the pier at Caernarfon, where the runners discharge the boat. To try to give me some energy I managed some sweets and a gel, I was kitted out and ready, however I was conscious of feeling totally ‘monged’, I recalled Alistair saying the pills did have side effects (as do most pills!)… So now I start my 25 mile run, it’s 11 pm, I have no food in me, I feel like a space cadet and just want a sleep. The start adrenaline helped me adapt a bit, but I did not feel great and the 8 miles of road run to the ‘ranger path’ was pretty miserable. Surprisingly only two teams got past us in the sand bar incident, so we were 3rd on the mountain – White Cloud (Alistair Morris and Phil Scarf) 50min in front and Hare / Hill 80min in front; not likely to catch but something to chase.

It was a warm clear night, the best I have had for Snowdon, it was a nice place to be, but I was not performing and when we heard a gate slam in the distance behind us we knew we were being chased – Pavel took my pack and we hotted up the pace – we had a job to do and that was run as fast as we could as a pair. The summit soon came and I was feeling better after stuffing down some gels and chocolate and electrolyte. The descent was dreadful for me, as the one thing you seem to lose quickest when you don’t do as much fell running, is descending skills. I felt wooden and a lump, then I rolled my ankle – a lot of pain, but soon goes and seems to happen all the time now – I have a knobbly ankle as a result of the abuse. The pain eased and I was back on my way trying to catch my mate back up. It is a rocky long descent from Snowdon and I knew I would be paying for this later… We soon reach LLanberis, which marks the start of the 8 miles of the ‘longest’ road back to Caernarfon. To get through this it’s a case of lock yourself in the ‘pain chamber’ and get on with it.

We closed in on Caernarfon town and saw runners in front, no sign of those behind, this helped boost our moral as we pushed to get to the boat, we caught up with the White Cloud runners, which surprised me as they are quite ‘handy’ racers and my running felt pretty tardy, better still the team behind seemed to have dropped back. We hopped aboard the boat ready for the next sail to Whitehaven, normally about 12-15hrs, but we had to negotiate the Menai Straights and the fast tides that we would encounter would not be in our favour.

19458162_10212908986656953_1221532609_n  Slow progress against strong tide in Menia Straits

19433863_10212908983376871_1551192019_n  Telford Bridge – Like being on a river

Four boats got to the Menia Bridges, impressive engineering – especially the old Brunell Bridge. It was like being on a big Canadian river here, with fast currents, big back eddies, rocks on the surface, rocks hidden – not really the place for a yacht. But it is better to do this route than go round Anglesey, which adds 30-40 miles on to the 110 mile leg. We tied to a mooring buoy and watched the other boats battle it out, inching forwards and back as the wind came and went and was barely enough to compensate for the tidal flow – two forces of nature trying to control our destiny! Eventually with some bold sailing by the 72 year old John Donnelly – skipper of White Cloud, they made it – it took them 60 min to do ½ mile. Then Hare/Hill made it (more on that team later), by this time Geoff was getting super twitchy and decided it was our turn, so we un hooked on set off (see pic), with some canny sailing we got to the best channel and prayed for the wind to keep the sail aloft, we had just enough, our speed being about ½ kt. Once through that the straights open out and then it’s the problem of following the channel markers to avoid grounding and so on to the Irish Sea, normally windy and choppy. Not today. It looked like oil was on the surface and barely any wind. I won’t describe the next 30hrs, as that’s what it took us to do the next 90 miles, suffice to say it brings in a different set of sailing skills trying to eek out every bit of performance from the boat and this is where Kees was at his best – tweaking and fine tuning the sails to eek out every bit of performance. The biggest bonus was that although we did find many wind holes we did every little rowing – which is hard work on a 6 tonne yacht.

So day 2 we were closing in on Whitehaven – 180 miles of sailing done, with 200 miles to go to Fort William. Overnight we passed White Cloud, Hare/Hill and Moby J took more westerly routes, which were longer and no faster. White Cloud was moving faster than us as it was further out at a better wind angle and pipped us into Whitehaven. We had a tidal gate there of 11.20, White Cloud got in at 11.10, we were 8 minutes behind. As you enter the harbour you can put the engine on and reef the sails, effectively completing the sail leg. Approaching the outer harbour, we followed the route that the chart maps as the deepest channel, then ‘bang’ we grind to a holt 50m from the harbour lock entrance, engine on sail up we try to free ourselves, but the falling tide says ‘No’. So we can’t get off we have to sit this out – 11am, we phone harbour master and tell him our predicament and he laughs and says it will be 5pm before we are able to float free. What a pisser! The boat starts to list over, eventually at 50deg, its like trying to sit on a ‘black run’ impossible. Radio on all we can do is chill, but it was annoying as we were prep’ed and psyched for the mountain. Trying to draw out some positives, it was bloody hot and by the time we are on the hill it will be a fair bit cooler. Time to sun bathe a bit, go for paddle, look at the jelly fish, talk to locals curious to our predicament and taking pictures of us…

19441196_10212908983736880_1788538220_n  This was not the plan…    19441328_10212908984056888_873591006_n  6hrs – like resting on a ‘black run’

As the afternoon progresses other boats start to appear out side the harbour and moor up to wait for the tide to rise. 4 boats arrive, Moby J – 2 hours behind, Hare/Hill – 2 hours behind that, then two more. At 4.30 Moby J sneaks past us and into the lock, as it is a smaller boat with less draught, so there off in front… We start to move at 4.45 and make a go for it, but the lock takes an age and is filled with 4 other boats, this takes 30 min and is so frustrating, but by now I am not to bothered about waiting a minute or two longer… Soon we are in and its bikes off, and away we go up to the 5min mandatory kit check stop – all good, teams get asked there estimated time we say 5.20hrs, last year we did 5.25hrs and the record is 5.22 – we want to beat it!

19511804_10212908986376946_1064934714_n  Free from the boat and off to Scafell

It’s a brilliant ride using an old rail line path to get us out of Whitehaven and up to Kirkland village, then we drop into the stunning Ennerdale, 21 miles all in to Black Sail hostel, about an 80min ride – I love this and we get a train going! Black Sail is a bike drop and then we run over the Pass, down to Wasdale and then up the big hill, about 14 miles and should be about 3.45hrs. The evening is stunning, we pass Rod Howard (from Sleepmonsters – ace AR reports! – see pic – Rob Howard)

19458417_10212908986216942_256627457_n    Cruising through Wasdale     19489548_10212908986336945_1700816823_n  The Beautiful Ennerdale

Rob takes some pictures and all is good for us, but the climb is tough in the still, warm evening air – no records today me thinks as the pace drops, but we try our best, Pavel takes my pack on the descent and I take his on the next ascent, so we maximise our progress. We meet the Moby J runners and can tell they are going well – possibly better than us… Soon we summit (see pic) and begin descending, I love picking the best lines and I find some belting grass trods that miss the nasty slab/boulder path (which is a pig to go fast on). I hope this helps us make ground, but they are about 25 min ahead and we don’t see them again, all we can do is keep the ‘foot on the gas’.

19477875_10212908984496899_1496439357_n  Scafell Summit

Soon we summit Black Sail and start passing other teams 3-4hrs behind us, hi-5s as we pass, soon back at the bikes and it is a midge enhanced transition, so no willingness to faff. We are rolling and it feels good, no punctures to great us with, or bike problems. We reverse the route, by now it is dark, so it is headlamp time, the thrill of the narrow rail path as we steam along at 25mph is awesome – I hit a bat full on in the face, it does not hurt me so much but not so sure about him! The watch tells me will be in at around 5.30hr, so not quick enough to get the record but a quick time non-the-less in the hot conditions. We close in on the harbour and we do it in 5.35hr. Happy with that. We are greeted with the sailors who announce we are 10 min too late (a) for the record and (b) to get out of the harbour – arse another 5hr wait…! Being philosophical we will get to have a lovely shower and I would love a beer so much, it is now midnight. The team has some non-race personal issues to discuss, so its team-talk time…

I for one have a funeral that I am keen to attend, Kees (pronounced like case) the Dutch guy, has a mother in Holland who is critically ill (also with cancer). The race so far has been slow and we have had three lumps of bad-luck. Fort William is at least 2 days away, so ETF is Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Given these circumstances and also Pavel’s follow-on plans for a Pennine Way record attempt on the Saturday, on balance it seems the best thing to do is finish racing at here at Whitehaven and retire. Sad as it is not to finish, but it is less sad than missing the others.   –  There is always another race  –   Without doubt we had some bad luck on the sail legs, but the sailing the guys did was very well, always being one of the lead pair of boats. As for the running we managed two King-of-Mountains, but it will be a big shame not to get the overall cup. It was a much closer run this time for us, with Muir Morton and Sam Bush of Moby J team pushing us hard. This makes for exciting racing and as we have trackers it is quite addictive following this race as there are so many unpredictability’s, that can change things either way for teams – we seemed to get on the wrong end of these in this race. In hindsight the smaller lighter ‘Tacktix’ boat we raced in last year may have been much better…

I feel like I want to do it again next year…

White Cloud was the first boat home, then Hare/Hill and double handed crew, who sailed and ran it all – incredible effort! Moby J won it overall on the IRC handicap.

See Sleepmonsters and 3PYR website for more info.

 

My First Three Peaks….

My First 3 Peaks

I was entered to run this iconic race back in 2013 and naively thought that the arrival of our daughter at the end of February wouldn’t make any difference to my training… yes, well anyone with children will know that was never going to work! So 4 years later here I was, lined up with the good and the great, ready to see if I had what it took.

I’ve done a few longer events over the last 6 months (TdH and Haworth Hobble) so the distance wasn’t the issue, but I’m not really a ‘fell racer’ and knew that for me, the speed was going to be my biggest challenge.

So on the day conditions couldn’t have been better, very dry underfoot, nice temperature, cloud rather than full sun and not too windy. OK, so no weather excuses then!

Quick kit check, safety briefing and then into position… and we’re off. Shuffle out of the field and then through Horton, hundreds of runners filling the road ahead of me in a scene reminiscent of a city marathon rather than one of my local fell races. Wow, what an event! Turn left and onto the track up Pen-y-Ghent and nice to see a few familiar faces cheering us on already.

Pen-y-Ghent to Ribblehead
I’ve been up here countless times but it never seems to get any easier. I started off just behind Julia but soon couldn’t keep up with her and that was the last I saw of her (well done on a great time btw). ‘Just go at my own pace’ was my mantra for now, there’s still a long way to go! 33 minutes in and here come the leaders, thundering back down the track that I’m huffing and puffing my way up… how do they do it? Tom Owen followed by Ricky Lightfoot and a steady stream of elite runners. Back to the grind. I reach the finger post and start running again and before I know it I’m dibbing in on the summit (00:49:04) and heading along the wall with the others. Despite my lack of climbing prowess I seem to be quite good at coming down and find myself flying past a good number of more cautious runner. I’m sure they’ll catch me later but for now…

 

I get to the bottom in no time, a few more familiar faces cheering me on and now it’s focus on keeping a good pace to make sure I’m within the dreaded cut off times. I soon catch up to Richard Timms, we run along chatting for a while until a laps in concentration and I trip over a rock and hit the ground. That would have been an embarrassing end to my 3 Peaks career! Dust myself off, back up and soon I pass High Birkwith (01:26:14) and plod on towards Ribblehead. I meet Carmel, catch Richard again (we yo-yo all day) and then hit the road. I hate road running at the best of times but right now I enjoy it even less. I’m keeping an eye on the clock and I’m going to make it to the next check point in time, but this short stretch on tarmac just seems to drag on. Before I know it I round the corner to Ribblehead, crowds and a tannoy announcing my arrival (01:58:05). Friends and family are waiting with supplies and words of encouragement, a quick stop and I’m off again. Having never done this race before I’m slightly nervous about the ‘climb’ to come.

Restocking at Hill Inn

Whernside
Everyone says what a beast the climb up Whernside is, and it didn’t disappoint! I’ve run up Whernside pretty much every way possible in the past but that top section, new to me and on tired legs, is an absolute brute. All four points of contact and every ounce of energy used, expletives and heavy breathing fill the air from all my fellow competitors. The shouts of ‘you’re almost there’ not making any of us feel any better until at last the hell is over and we’ve made it to the top (02:51:55). Wow, that really took it out of me! I don’t usually suffer from cramp but now it was hitting me with full force, stopping me in my tracks. How frustrating. For the next 10 minutes it was run, cramp, stop, stretch, repeat. Eventually it starts to pass and I ‘m back to running. I’m really familiar with the route down, and with gravity on my side I once again start making up lost places. Out onto the road and there was Annie with Mike and family, a quick hello and on to the Hill Inn. I was going to make it, no bus of shame for me today.

The Hill Inn reached (03:20:07) and the pressure is off. Another quick stop to replenish water and food (thanks support team!) and then it’s the last big climb of the day.

coming in to Hill Inn

Ingleborough
I do this climb regularly so I knew exactly what was to come. Walk, jog, walk and I catch up with Steve. Both of us are feeling it by now but keep ploughing on. Anyone who’s done this race knows just how hard this climb is at this stage; regardless of how fast or fit you are. So it’s head down and a slow grind upwards. By now there are almost as many 3 Peaks walkers mixed in with the runners and the steep section sees a bit of a traffic jam. To be honest it’s a welcome relief to go so slowly now. Half way up another familiar face (Pete Ellwood) provides some welcome words of encouragement and a swig of water… I’m finding this very hard now. More Harriers cheering me on and the summit is finally reached (04:18:01).

Now for the run off Ingleborough back to Horton. As soon as I start to run the cramp hits again big time. Ouch! Run, cramp, stop, stretch, it’s a repeat of Whernside for another 10 minutes. Steve runs past and disappears off in the distance, John Oz says hello and then I’m trotting off down the rocky track on very tired legs. It’s a long 5 miles back but soon enough the welcome site of the marquee comes into view and I know I’m almost there. I catch up with Richard and push on, knowing I’m almost there has given me a second wind. Under the railway, cross the road and I’m in the finish funnel to shouts and cheers and I’ve done it. My first 3 Peaks fell Race completed in 05:11:41 What a great day!

* A massive thank you to all the Harriers who made the effort to come out and support all of us runners. It certainly gave me a huge lift to see you all. And an even bigger thank you to Sally and Edie and the Rogerson clan for being my support crew on the day.

[David Alexander]

Coniston Fell Race (Roger Laycock)

Coniston Fell Race
What a cracking race! Steep climbs, fast descents, rocky technical sections great views and excellent cakes at the finish. Perfect! No wonder Matt Fretwell chose this as a first attempt at a longer race; apparently he’d never done anything as long as this 9 mile, 3,500ft classic. Hard to believe for such a good runner who seems to have been having good results with the Harriers for years. Any lack of experience certainly didn’t show and hardly seemed to hold him back as he blasted round in 1 hour 20 minutes, finishing 19th, (from 200+) not far off the front runners and that despite suffering blisters on the long, long final descent off the last checkpoint on the Old Man. An excellent result. Well done Matt.

It felt chilly in the valley before the start, but except for a stiff breeze on Swirl How, the second checkpoint, conditions were perfect. Dry underfoot, clear enough to enjoy the tremendous views into the Lakes and down the coast South of Black Combe; vest and shorts weather with just enough sun to work on a tan. It doesn’t get much better in the Lakes in April- well most times really.

My legs were still surprisingly weary from a three day run along the GR221 in Mallorca (150km and plenty of climbing), an equally excellent, but very different route, the previous week.( If you fancy doing it, let me know). For those who’ve done the Three Shires and know the joys of the first climb up Wetherlam, Consiton too packs much of its ascent into the pull up to the first Checkpoint on the summit. Not quite as brutal as the thigh burning slog from the Langdale side, but the height gained is no less demanding with a lung busting steep start, hands on thighs (for me anyway) for the first half mile and then a long, long trog up to the top. Sometimes tussocks, more often rocky, craggy paths needing concentration, reaching the summit doesn’t come soon enough for those of us who prefer downhill!

The run out to the second marshal at Swirl How is just the same as the Three Shires route with some scope for canny route choice and fast. In perfect conditions a great little section and chance to get air back in the lungs and run with ease. In clag, a different prospect with plenty of scope to go off exploring- I’ve been tempted before! The need not to make a larger and surprisingly easy error, going the wrong way off Swirl How, heading for Wrynose and not South towards Coniston Old Man, forgetting which race your in seems crazy. How could anyone mistake North for South, up for down, but apparently in poor conditions many do. Not this time, with a colourful string of vests setting out the good running route ahead, though sadly Matt, in his high-viz Harriers strip was long gone. (Does anyone actually like our health & safety inspired, luminous green, ‘look at me’, club colours?-just thought I’d ask- on behalf of quiet a few others).

Anyway……there are a few sections overall where route choice can make a small difference before the final run off the Old Man, but the best options from the summit do make quite a difference. I played safe, not knowing the best way off and took the direct line; straight down towards and through the old quarries. Picking a line, trying to maximise running on grass was great fun. Jumping off small outcrops, leaping boulders, taking the brakes off to chase down the runners in front. I managed to pass a few who were less reckless than me, but sadly lacked the speed on the last half mile down the old mine road (more sessions with Andy & Carole needed) to hold them off. Being overtaken by runners I think I’ve already passed for good, takes miles out of my legs. Those that knew the best line appeared out of nowhere, having gained lots of ground on people like me who hadn’t run or reccied it recently. Even more demoralising; they’re in front , but made less effort getting there! A great descent, fast (it’s all relative) furious thigh burning fun.

Coniston is a super race, similar to Fairfield and Kentmere (which I know quite a few Harriers have done) in the type of running and ‘feel’ of the race; classic Lakeland days out. Challenging, but not intimidating, something for everyone, great fun and great atmosphere, oh and great cakes, (or have I already mentioned that?!) Sadly, it usually clashes with the 3 Peaks, which means many Harriers don’t really look at doing it, but if you fancy a change from running a fell route on road, path and pavement, give it a go. You’ll love it!

Roger

Hester’s Hobble…

What a race, what a route and what a lot of mud!

The Haworth Hobble is 32 miles of beautiful Bronte country and starts with a run up the cobbled high street past the parsonage. We soon also passed Top Withins, which is alleged to be the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. Despite its accumulated ascent of about 4,800’, the Hobble is very runnable and the first 15 or so miles were fast. There was an impressive field of runners with the British Athletics team using it as a trial race before the trail championships in June (the winner finished in an astonishing 3.54hrs!). Needless to say, I didn’t see any of them and just kept my head down and did my own thing, which was mainly to try to stay on my feet and not keep slipping over on the wet stones and in the bogs.

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The route takes you along parts of the Pennine and Calderdale Ways taking in some gorgeous windswept moorland and numerous reservoirs. Curlews and lapwings were calling and it felt springlike despite being a bit damp and unbelievably muddy. Rachel Hill was running as a pair and passed me looking strong at about the 9 mile mark. About twenty miles in you get two major ascents and those felt tough. I was feeling sorry for myself on the climb to Mankinholes and then some friends passed me who had done the high peak marathon the weekend before. I knew they’d still be recovering and yet they were chatting away and didn’t appear to be suffering at all. It was nice to see them and it gave me a kick up the bum to try to crack on. The next cp was a bit of a godsend, there were two bottles of whisky on the table and as I arrived I was offered a glass so I necked it and it didn’t half give me a boost. I felt positively cheery and with a fire in my belly I headed for the ascent to monument at Stoodley Pike. Unfortunately the fire went out as I started the climb and it was a matter of just getting my head down and grinding it out.

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I almost cheered at the top and with wobbly legs I made an effort to get running again. We went down a killer hill coming into Hebden Bridge followed by some demon stone steps out of it and then up to Heptonstall, my quads were really complaining now! That was followed by lovely woodland at Hardcastle Crags which helped to keep me distracted & around this point I struck up conversation with another runner and we ended up chatting for most of the rest of the race which really helped to keep me pushing on and stopped me thinking about the hole in my sock, my aching knees and my sore toes. We had another steep climb to tackle and more beautiful moorland before catching a glimpse of the last reservoir before the finish. By this time I was feeling quite happy and relieved to know we were nearly home. Coming back into Haworth was brilliant and people lined up along the route to cheer us on. I’d started the race thinking I’d be happy just to finish it and so I was really chuffed to find I’d done it in 6.13hrs. It’s the longest I’ve run since my reactive arthritis after the Lakeland 100 in 2015. It was great to see so many familiar faces in the hall. I met up with Brian again and was delighted to find that he’d had a great run finishing half an hour quicker than the previous year (when he’d been getting over his pericarditis). Let’s hope this is the stepping-stone to more long distance adventures and a year of good health and good running.

2017 Settle Harriers Results:

Rachel Hill (with Tony Wimbush) 5:53:53

Brian Stallwood 5:58:22 (2nd M60)

Hester Cox 6:13:09

David Alexander 6:42:50

Laurence Ormrod 6:44:57

 

NB Photos are courtesy of Dave Woodhead at woodentops.org.uk

Giggleswick KWL Race

Hi all,

There was another good turnout this year at the Giggleswick KWL on Sunday with 33 Seniors running. This means combined with the Juniors there were 80 Settle Harriers competing, brilliant!

It was a cold afternoon making it difficult to warm up, and, combined with the delayed start time meant there was a distinctly chilly start line. Underfoot conditions were excellent however, and the absence of the usual snow and/or mud made for some exciting racing.
We soon warmed up with the stampede across the playing fields, this soon settled down and we were able to enjoy the delights of the stream crossing, the steep climb and the rock jump not once, but twice!
Well done to Alex Pilkington who executed his signature move of waiting until the end of the second lap before storming past me down the hill to the finish to be first Harrier home.
Congratulations to Carol Evans as First LV50 and 5th Lady overall, 50 secs ahead of the first LV40!
Commiserations to Steven Proctor who sustained an ankle injury on the second lap but still managed to finish. Hope it heals fast!

Well done to everyone who came along to race and many thanks to those who came to support and cheer us along!

Best wishes
Mark

[Also some photos on FB]

Results below:

Pos.
26 Alex Pilkington MV40 26:16
30 Mark Wildsmith MV40 26:33
32 James Annan MV40 27:05
35 Sam Griffiths Man 27:09
45 Adam Procter Man 27:53
58 Will Buckton Man 28:29
71 Carol Evans LV50 29:01
87 Steven Procter Man 29:59
88 David Sexton MV40 30:03
89 Richard Timms MV40 30:24
118 Laurence Ormerod MV50 33:16
121 Rachel Avison Fell LV40 33:18
122 David Wild MV50 33:19
126 Helen Greenep LV50 33:29
134 Nicholas Hutchison MV40 34:07
135 Andrew Hinde MV50 34:16
137 Richard Greenep MV40 34:23
140 Chris Beesley MV60 34:25
144 Judith Marshall LV40 34:44
145 Angie Mills LV40 34:44
146 Julia Murfin LV40 34:47
153 Stephen Moor MV50 35:23
154 Barry Scholes MV60 35:27
155 Julia Hargreaves LV40 35:34
158 Deborah Mahoney LV50 35:47
160 Clare Wild Lady 36:01
169 Helen Hutchison LV40 37:05
173 Ruth Maxwell LV40 37:21
176 Joanne Oakey LV40 38:51

180 Iain Crossley MV60 40:26
186 Jill Gates LV50 42:48
194 Richard Handford MV50 45:35

Tour of Pendle

Some six Harriers took part in the Pendle race last Saturday. I saw Mark W and Tony T at the start (and certainly, not thereafter), whilst I did not see Adrian W, Mark R or David A apart from sighting a distant Harriers vest at one point.

On the way over, I thought that we’d be relegated to the bad weather course as happened last year, since it was raining hard and also cold. The idea of “two laps round a muddy field near Barley” was a gloomy one, so I was delighted to find that the organisers decided to go ahead. It was colder over in Lancashire (the weather not the people) and snow was on the ground even in Barley.

Once away, we climbed quickly into quite deep (though not crisp and even) snow. By the time we got to the top (for the first time of many), it was about 20cm deep and it was snowing quite hard with a cold wind blowing. Some runners seemed to get by happily with shorts and vests, whereas I was more in the overcoat and muffler camp up there. As my wife kindly pointed out when I mentioned this later on, “that’s because they were going fast, dear”. How the leaders of the race broke trail I cannot imagine. On the occasions when I stepped out the muddy rut in the snow along which everyone followed, it was hard work just for a few meters to pass someone. I see the first three were within half a minute of each other so maybe they shared the trail breaking then had a sprint finish…well done guys.

 

I am sure most of you know this race. I had done it before but had mis-remembered how many times you drop to intake wall level before trudging back up to the top. So just when I was congratulating myself on being on the last ascent, I realised to my chagrin that the final and steepest one lay ahead. Doh! Oh well, I drew on my resources of motivation and managed to haul myself up. Over on that side of the hill and on top, the track was now just hard packed snow with no sign of mud, so it must have been getting colder. I managed to pass a few runners who were having problems with grip and practically on all fours to pull themselves up, and I arrived on the top for last time with no-one else in sight ahead and in mist. I took a bearing and counted paces here since the last thing I wanted to do was follow the wrong set of tracks back down the far side of Pendle. Happily, it soon looked like the M6 again, and then back to the finish.

Mark W was first Harrier in a cool 3h 9m, and Tony was just over 3h 30m. I managed 4h 9m which was a fair bit slower than I thought I’d done before. However, that feeling is one of “deja vu all over again” these days, although in fairness to all runners, the conditions must have made a rather slow race. The Harriers acquitted themselves well with everyone finishing in the tough conditions.

Loz

British Fell Relay Championships – Luss, Loch Lomond, Scotland

The Harriers had two teams out this year, a male open and female open (as it happened the female team was in fact a V40 and then male would have been a V40 if it wasn’t for Matt and Mark being so young!). We had difficulties getting 12 runners as a lot of the club seemed to be injured at present – people have to be more careful like me and not get injured all the time!
We travelled up Friday evening as it was a 200 mile journey to Luss (the home of the Highland Games), the girls stayed in a luxury hotel in Glasgow and us fellas camped in a damp field on the edge of a busy road. The morning of the race started fine and dry which meant de-camping and breakfasting for us was almost pleasurable, however the weather was set to change as a band of rain was due to hit (this was the only UK place that had bad weather on the Saturday and we had made a special effort to get the full effect of it!

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Kerry P – roped in to the ladies team at the last minute – coming down from Leg 1.

 
122 teams from across the UK where competing, thats over 700 runners in total, so it was a BIG event, however the organisation was slick and everything seemed to happen smoothly and efficiently! 4 legs where run with legs 1 & 4 being solo and shorter distance, on these legs we had Simon, Kerry, Matt and Carol). Legs 2 & 3 (Mike & Roger; Alex & Mark; Rachel and Carmel, Jill & Judy) where longer and tougher and for this years event they where quite a lot tougher, particularly the ‘nav’ leg, with the longest team taking over 4 hours to complete it. Now I am used to tough terrain and tough navigation and to me this felt pretty darn tough! tussocks and full on compass work, with check points mostly being ‘re-entrants’ (funnily at the start someone asked Mark and I what a re-entrant was..?, and I said it is a map feature that is hard to find! – Mark laughed and said that they would be in for a hard time…

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Mark and Alex, damp but pleased to have finished the ‘Nav’ leg.

For the race commentarywe where asked to provide a short team resume (which I thought I would share, as it gave insight into the team strategy)…

Simon Oxley – Leg 1 for damage limitation. Has a fondness for the longer fell races, but still cuts the mustard on orienteering races, so hopefully he’ll not get lost on this leg.
Mike Egner & Roger Laycock – Leg 2 old Brontosauruses moving through. Mike is to be crowned the 2016 V60 FRA & BOFRA Champion – no one has won both before; Roger is just happy when enough of him is working to allow him to run, has a fondness of Pendle.
Alex Pilkington & Mark Wildsmith – Leg 3 Alex is an ace navigator, happy on bike or foot, the rougher, longer, dirtier the better (notable events include BGRs both summer and solo winter, plus several Adventure Race World Championships at far flung places. Mark is fast and keen for anything; building up to a BGR in the next year, just done the infamous Marmot sportive in the Alps and nearer to home the 3 Peaks CX, also if you need a beer festival organising – he’s your man.
Matt Fretwell – Leg 4 Matt is the kid of the team and will smash leg 4, latest PB is a notable 12th in the 3 Peaks CX, he’s at home on the trails by foot or bike, he can descend a mountain faster than an avalanche.

The results where pretty reasonable: male team 42nd and female 102nd (or 4th FV40), overall winners where Dark Peak, with consistent runners on all the legs. For results and split time geeking see Sportident – also the ‘Strava Flyby’ is quite good fun to watch!

Also thanks to John Oz for coming up to support us.

Alex P

Hodgson Brothers Relay, Sun 2nd October

Well done to our Hodgson Brothers Relay Team who took part in this prestigious relay in the Lakes on Sunday 2nd October.  The race started in Patterdale and the format as usual was 4 stages for pairs with differing distances & routes for each leg.

We finished 43rd out of 70 competing teams and 8th out of 14 mixed teams (mixed = 4 men & 4 ladies).  This was an excellent result as we only had short notice to raise a team having been on the waiting list until a week before the event.  Hopefully we will be included as of right next year – maybe we’ll be allowed 2 teams even – so get in training !

Our leg times and positions after each leg are as follows

Leg 1:  31st : Carol & Roger (leg time 48:00)

leg 2 : 42nd :  Rachel & Mark (1:27:50)

Leg 3 : 51st : Sharon & Hester (1:21:28)

leg 4 : 43rd  Fraser & Alex (1:26:49)

Photos courtesy of Roger are shown below

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A few words from Jo Oakley on the Leeds Tri…

Having dabbled in one or two triathlons each year for three years and been somewhat injured prior to each one I decided I needed a plan this year. So focusing on running injury prevention I hired the lovely Jill Eccleston to help me. Strength, conditioning and engaging brain before enthusiasm was my given goal. Mmmm, the brain bit was tough but think we are nearly there!
‘A’ race set and many months later I’m focussed and injury free (apart from the Morton Neuroma in my right foot which I refuse to have operated on, for now). The inaugural World Triathlon Series in Leeds 12 June on closed roads – how cool is that! My plan was to do what I do on the swim, go hard on the bike and see what happens on the run.
Trying my best to keep the nerves under control in the morning so had a warm up and ignored everyone around me flapping. Onto the swim pontoon feeling ready, when I overheard someone say there was a different exit out of T2 (should I be panicking!!), we briefly spoke about it and I decided not to worry I’d work it out when I get there. I entered Waterloo Lake, deep breaths, here goes (bit of a giggle as I briefly lose control of my excitement!). I was alone for quite abit of the swim which I don’t like as I prefer to have others around me, even if they do hit and dunk you! The back straight was choppy but I felt confident as I was used to that having spent a few trips up in Windermere. Out of the Lake and a 400m run uphill into transition. Another 600m run downhill pushing the bike, carrying cycle shoes and the bag filled with wetsuit, not easy (some very unhappy Triathletes!). Over the timing beam, shoes on, head on, Game On!
First bit was hilly but you could still push on, fast section towards the downhill bit for more fastness (is that even a word?!). I had a quick look at the second turning point whilst going downhill, seemed tight. Powering on into the City and another giggle bursts out as I saw and heard Ian & Jessica which gave me a boost. Tight turning point to go back up the hill out of the City again, a mile on and now I start to feel as if I was tiring and just had to keep those pedals turning so lots of talking to myself and looking at my ‘special’ words written on my bike helped me to concentrate. I wasn’t expecting so many people on the bike course which was a little dangerous at times especially when they wandered to the right as you were overtaking! Heading towards transition and people were slowing and marshals calling to slow down and my reaction – there’s no way this girl is slowing down until she sees the timing beam. Into T2 and I misjudged my racking point costing me a good 10s, bit annoying but never mind. Run shoes on, piece of kendal mintcake in hand I set off to find this allusive run exit!
Pain, pain and more pain. I really didn’t know what was happening but my entire chest was getting tighter with each step. Saw Ian & Jessica which gave me a nudge to keep going. Second lap and the pain was worse so I closed my eyes whilst running to have a think; legs ok, glutes ok, core ok, arms still driving ok – opened eyes and decided to ignore the pain and get on with it. And on with it I did – a personal best on the run, whoop whoop – suck that pain!!
Turns out I had a PB on swim, bike & run. Finishing 7th overall in my Age Group and 56th lady out of 397.