Getting to the start line is always the hardest part of any race and it was certainly true for me, this time. I had, and still have a leg problem, tendonitis is definitely involved but finding out the cause is an ongoing challenge. Anyway, after a frustrating year I was at the start line, many times leading up to the race I had serious doubts, but decided to just keep going with it. After all, it was the UTMB and getting a place is hard enough, so there I was on Friday the 28th August 2015 in Chamonix, ready or not, to begin another big adventure.

The start was pretty amazing with 2563 runners and numerous spectators lining the route for miles, if you’re ever going to get emotional at the beginning of a race, well this is the one. The first 8km was a dusty undulating, spectator lined route to Les Houches, then the first of many climbs began. The first descent was a killer, an extremely steep descent after the climb up to and over Le Delevret, down into Saint-Gervais, my thighs were already screaming. From Saint Gervais, the party atmosphere continued through to Les Contamines. I was still totally surprised and amazed by how many people were out, cheering, ringing cow bells and children all wanting “high fives”. The food at checkpoints was like nothing I had ever seen before on a race, plates of sausage, cheese, cake, sports bars, fruit, soup, and the list goes on and on. I felt like I was making good progress and looking behind me as I zig zagged up to the top of Col de la Seigne, all I could see was a trail of head torches that seemed to continue forever, although looking ahead of me, it was also the same story. I had never been involved in a race with so many competitors before, it was strange, trying to get my head around the scale of the event. By this time I had covered about 37miles and had been out for 10 hours 30 minutes, my toes were starting to feel the hammering effect of the descents already and my thighs were tender but apart from that I was happy, especially when two rows of marshals on top of Arete-du Mont-Favre did a big Mexican wave shouting my name Sharrrrrrron, my name sounds fabulous when shouted by 8 good looking Italian men, certainly made me smile . I arrived in Courmayeur at 9.30 Saturday morning, 48miles into the race after 15.30 hours, and the sun was already cracking the flags. It was fantastic to see Graham and Racheal, but sad to learn Andy Jackson, Racheal’s partner was struggling, not being able to keep food down. There was a lot of vomiting going on along the trails, I had taken many a deep breath trying to keep myself, from seeing what little I had eaten, again. Courmayeur is the half way point (roughly), so here I was given my half way bag. Graham helped me tape my toes up, which were now giving me plenty of pain, he also told me I was in position 664, which completely surprised me and he read some of the messages people were sending via tx and Facebook, this gave me a huge boost as I was getting no sympathy from him,” well you look better than most” was all he said “now go!!!! “
The sun was relentless, 40degrees, with no shade and very little breeze, it took me another 6 hours, covering only 15miles to reach the top of Grand col Ferret, the highest point of the UTMB at 2527m, by this time we had ascended altogether 6569m (about 9/10 Ingleboroughs from sea level). The altitude, tiredness and heat made the simple task of breathing difficult, trying to gulp mouthfuls of water made you out of breath and trying to eat anything was just not happening. At every checkpoint, I had forced myself to quickly drink luke warm noodle soup and eat a banana, they were by far the easiest thing to slide down a very dry throat.

The views were truly fabulous, the long uphill’s gave you time to appreciate the beauty and scale of such an amazing area. The downhills were becoming increasingly painful. When I arrived in Champex-lac at 8.30 Saturday evening, I was now in Switzerland, and was met by Graham telling me I was now in 721st position, the 15mile downhill section had hurt. Graham was going to meet me at the last big checkpoint in Vallorcine, all I had to do was get through the second night. I was by now counting down the peaks, 3 more to go, just 3 more, when the sun comes up I will be nearly finished, OK, one peak at a time, La Glete, gosh !!! That was a tough slog it seemed like a vertical climb, through dense forest over tree roots, boulders and rivers, hoping at any minute you would hit the tree line and break out into fresh air, although in darkness the temperature was still 25degrees. Two more peaks, by now each of my toes had their own heartbeat, and my thighs were fighting their own private misery, as I had decided to ignore them, they were going to take me to the end, of that I had no doubt, the faster you move, the sooner the pain will stop. I have always been able to (up to now), push myself, it’s at times like this, you really find out how mentally tough (or stupid) you are. Vallorcine, 4.30 Sunday morning, 34.30 hours in and 94miles, one more peak to go!

Graham cheered me up by telling me I was in 640th position, although I was really struggling on the down hills, somehow I was still clawing back on the uphill sections and not messing around at checkpoints helps. “Ok see you at the finish in about 5/6 hours” he said, 5 or 6 hours, really that long, get on with it, come on lass just get on with it, by now I was openly talking to myself and seeing all sorts in the darkness. It was a 5mile, steep, tough climb to the top of Tete aux vents with 873m of ascent and it had taken me 2.5hours, the sun was just coming up and I had a big smile on my face it was truly amazing, last climb and wow!!!!! The view, I do remember thinking did I really want this to end or did I just want it to end right there so I could just stop and look at that view forever?

Last descent, the terrain on the UTMB, mainly consists of hard packed trail, lots of single track, plenty of tree roots and rocks, and in most places it was technical on tired legs . The downhill into Chamonix was a mixed bag of frustration, pain, happiness and OMG I’ve nearly done it!!!!! But don’t get too excited just yet.
This is where the emotion peaks, so after 39.26.26 hours (none stop) covering 106miles, 10083m of ascent and 633rd position, I finally arrived back in Chamonix, after running all the way round Mont Blanc, (still getting my head around that). The reception made it all worthwhile, I truly believed I had just won, the way the crowd made me feel, on the last few metres a lady shouted this is your moment enjoy it, so I quickly looked around back down the street just to take it all in and decided she was totally right, then put my arms out as a final gesture that I had made it, holding back the tears, I crossed the line.

Stats:
2563 runners started, 1632 finished (132 were women)

The question everyone asks, would you do it again? It’s getting harder to get a place now on the UTMB, thankfully I got there this time, I enjoyed the whole amazing experience and I feel I did myself proud but there is so much out there to do and this has just opened another door, what’s behind who knows YET? Big fat box ticked and another bench mark set. Thanks to all the support before and during, just like the UTMB it was amazing.

There was another fantastic turnout from Settle Harriers in the Embsay BOFRA races with no less than 17 of our juniors running and 7 seniors.  The junior races were part of our club junior championships (race number 16 out of 17)

In the junior races, it was great to see Keelan, Sam & Charlie making their first appearances for the club (hopefully the first of many).

We had some great  junior performances including 8th in the Under 9s from Rio with Jack close behind in 11th.  Sonny had a fine run to finish 6th in a strong U12s field whilst Erin closed in as 8th girl.  In the long U14 race well done to our 3 representatives – Thomas led them home with an excellent 6th place. Well done to everyone that took part.

In our junior championships, Thomas ‘ run puts him in the lead in the boys competition, just 2 points ahead of Seb, Dougie & Sonny all in joint 2nd !  in the girls competition, Erin leads, ahead of Emily Carpenter  & Lauren.

In the senior race, well done to Mike & Barry for winning their age categories. Carol was pleased with her 1st fell completed fell race for a couple of years and there were good performances from all our contingent.

Settle Harriers Results from Embsay

Under 9s
PositionFirst NameSurnameCatTimeClubComments
8RioEgnerBoy04:57Settle Harriers
11JackSandersonBoy05:08Settle Harriers
16SamGreenepBoy05:15Settle Harriers
19OscarWulfBoy05:18Settle Harriers
37MinnieMillsGirl05:53Settle Harriers
52KeelanBehanBoy07:01Settle Harriers
56SamFillinghamBoy07:23Settle Harriers
Under 12s
6SonnyAshton-FitchBoy09:27Settle Harriers
18JohnEgnerBoy10:15Settle Harriers
22DouglasSegger-StaveleyBoy10:28Settle Harriers
30CharlieBarryBoy11:14Settle Harriers
31HamishGriffithsBoy11:19Settle Harriers
32ErinCumminsGirl11:22Settle Harriers 8th girl
46LaurenEvansGirl14:51Settle Harriers
Under 14s
6ThomasMarshallBoy14:16Settle Harriers
8SebastianSegger-StaveleyBoy14:46Settle Harriers
12BobEvansBoy15:28Settle Harriers
Seniors
17MikeEgnerMV5022:36Settle Harriers1st MV50
27SamGriffithsMan24:33Settle Harriers
43CarolEvansLV5026:41Settle Harriers
50BarryScholesMV6027:41Settle Harriers1st MV60
53JudithMarshallLV4027:49Settle Harriers
62AndyEvansMV5030:18Settle Harriers
68HelenGreenepLV5030:51Settle Harriers

No less than  25 Settle Harriers took part in the BOFRA races at Burnsall.  This included 17 of our juniors as the races formed part of the junior club championships.  This is an amazing venue, particularly when then the suns shines as it did on this occasion.

In the Under 9s races, a special mention and well done to Jack Sanderson who raced as a Settle Harriers for the first time and to Rio who was our first home in 9th.  All our runners (Sam, Oscar and Connie were the others) finished within 23 secs – a real sea of luminous green !  Well done to all.

In the Under 12s, again our runners all packed closely with Dougie first back in 20th overall after a very fast descent.  Close behind were John and Hamish.  Erin was our first girl home (9th girl overall).

In the Under 14s, Thomas hurt his ankle on the descent, but still kept going to finish 6th with Bob, Seb and Matthew all having good runs not far behind.

8 of our seniors tackled this classic course with an incredibly steep and technical descent through thick heather and over a high stone wall at one point.  Josh showed great descending skills to finish just ahead of Mike with Mike taking the first M50 prize just a day after finishing 7th in the World Masters Championships in Wales (M55 category).  Well done to Alastair who tackled this event for the first time and Barry who was leading M60.  jill was our first lady home – also showing great descending skills

It was a great afternoon out – well done to everyone that took part !

Setttle Harriers Results

Under 9s
9RioEgnerBoy03:12Settle Harriers
11SamGreenepBoy03:18Settle Harriers
14OscarWulfBoy03:21Settle Harriers
19JackSandersonBoy03:33Settle Harriers
22ConnieEcclestonGirl03:35Settle Harriers
Under 12s
20DouglasSegger-StaveleyBoy06:53Settle Harriers
22JohnEgnerBoy07:01Settle Harriers
25HamishGriffithsBoy07:04Settle Harriers
35BenGreenepBoy07:30Settle Harriers
36ErinCumminsGirl07:31Settle Harriers
37WillScholeyBoy07:32Settle Harriers
40EdieEcclestonGirl07:42Settle Harriers
50LaurenEvansGirl08:35Settle Harriers
Under 14s
6ThomasMarshallBoy08:10Settle Harriers
11BobEvansBoy08:33Settle Harriers
13SebastianSegger-StaveleyBoy08:38Settle Harriers
16MatthewHolroydBoy09:11Settle Harriers
Seniors
13JoshWestwoodMan17:57Settle Harriers
16MikeEgnerMV5018:29Settle Harriers1st MV50
23AlastairScholeyMV5020:07Settle Harriers
26BarryScholesMV6020:26Settle Harriers1st MV60
42JillEcclestonLV4022:39Settle Harriers
47JessBagnallLady24:10Settle Harriers
61HelenGreenepLV5027:35Settle Harriers
67RichardHandfordMV5030:19Settle Harriers

There was a good turnout at a fantastic venue for the Halton Gill Sports on 30th August.  This included 12 from Settle (7 juniors and 5 seniors) in the fell races and another 4 in the mountain-bike race.

The junior race was a counter for our junior championships.  Well done to all that took part – especially Jessica, Kirsten and Jack in their first races for the club.  Bob had a good run in the Under 14s to finish 2nd,  just behind Jack Muir of Wharfedale in a very tight race.

In the senior race, Mark finished 8th overall whilst Rachel ran strongly to a take the first ladies prize.

In the MTB race, Tom Murfin just outsprinted his dad with Richard and Mark close behind.  1st 4 home were all Settle Harriers !

With all the other games and entertainments provided, this was a great afternoon out !

Andy

Settle Harriers Results – Fell Races

U9 Boys: 9th Jack Sanderson; 10th Sam Greenep

U9 Girls: 6th Jessica Oakey; 8th Kirsten Wulf

U12 Boys: 6th Hamish Griffiths

U12 Girls: 4th Lauren Evans

U14 Boys: 2nd Bob Evans 7m48s

Senior Men: 8th Mark Wildsmith; 21st Sam Griffiths; 23rd Barry Scholes

Senior Ladies: 1st Rachel Hill; 7th Jess Bagnall