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!

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

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!

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…

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.

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

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