It wasn’t my original intention to do so many Lockdown Challenges in one day. I had planned to do the 3 Trig point and 5 Postbox route last Sunday but, being a Southern softie, I was put off by the weather. The forecast for today was much better and so I decided to make my attempt despite celebrating my elder grandson’s 18th birthday at a family Zoom party last night. By a pure fluke, I calculated that my route would cover 2 more Lockdown Challenges, 100km for the month and 3,000 metres of climbing.

Due to the aforementioned party, my 9.30am scheduled start was nearer 10am but, since I had no other plans for the day, I set off determined to do the whole route. The Postboxes on Church St and Townhead Ave were duly photographed. I had opted to do a clockwise route in order to get the steep climb over the saddle and up to Warrendale Knots done early on. In deference to my advancing years, I did walk a little on this bit. After Warrendale, a pleasant descent to Attermire but then a very wet section followed before I reached Stockdale Lane. I stuck to the Settle Loop and then traversed round the back of Ryeloaf Hill and up to Trig point number 2. The next section up to the radio mast would have been better done in waders, I don’t think I touched solid ground for nearly a mile and it was almost a relief to reach the tarmac.

A long road descent was followed by a pleasant run down Lambert Lane as far as the quarries. My intention had been to then cut straight across to the Hunter Bark Trig point. However, I hadn’t reckoned on the barbed wire fencing, so had to go down to the stile and trek back up to Trig point 3, and then return to the Cleatop Woods path. Through Cleatop Woods, across the fields, down Watery Lane – appropriately named this morning – and into town where I photographed  Postboxes at the PO, the Market Square and  Kirkgate. Then home for endless cups of tea.

My thanks to Becky for the Lockdown idea which has got many Harriers back out running with a purpose. My 7 Challenges completed today were #2-3 trig pillars, #7-5 postboxes, #9 – 100km (my total for November is 75 miles which is 120 km), # 14 – cleaning my fell shoes, # 15 – cleaning Anne’s fell shoes, #19 – climbing 3000m (my total is 3371m) and # 20 – write an article for the blog.

Chris Beesley

(click pictures for full size)

Becky’s lockdown_2 challenges are a great motivator for dragging you away from another Netflix binge and Roger and I fancied combining ticking a few trig points (Challenge #2) and some post boxes (Challenge #7). Three trig points seemed fair enough but 5 post boxes was a bit on the easy side, so we spent hours analysing postboxes4nerds.com and cross-correlating with trigs4nerds.com.

This identified 3 trig points – one of which was new to both of us – and 21 post boxes / post offices which looked like a feasible target from Settle; we just needed an optimum route between them. This is like the Travelling Salesman problem, which is notoriously difficult to solve – we clearly needed a quantum computer. Sadly we didn’t have one so we just resorted to shambling around aimlessly, hoping we’d accidentally come across our targets en route.

The first box – a standard Elizabeth II in Settle

Roger came up with the excellent idea of doing the run in Postman Pat fancy dress (lockdown challenge #16). I was all for this, but then it almost came to blows over who would have to be the cat. After relentless arguments we went for a vote, which I definitely won but Roger refused to concede, so we had to scrap the fancy dress idea for the time being.

Our route was based around the 3 trig points with detours to collect as many post boxes as we could fit in. From Settle this was essentially up to Warrendale Knotts (whose official name is ‘TP S5521 Langcliffe’ according to trig point experts), via Langcliffe and Stainforth to Smearset Scar and then via Austwick to the last trig at New House Pasture above Black Bank before returning to Settle via Giggleswick.

 

Our route through Settle was pretty convoluted but cleared up all the boxes we knew about apart from three that were easier to collect to the way back. I later discovered that my online resources had let us down and had not listed the box at Limestone View, although we went with about 50m of it. So anyone wanting to repeat the route could Trump our efforts!

Warrendale Knotts to Austwick was all pretty familiar territory with with 4 post boxes en route. While taking a photo of the Austwick letter box we got into conversation with a FEDEX guy who wanted us to know there was a golden post box in Eccleston near Chorley. I prodded Roger away with my 2m pole before he started getting ideas. 

From Austwick on the paths were pretty unfamiliar to both of us. It’s worth running on those footpaths west of the A65 once in a while – just to remind yourself why you shouldn’t go running west of the A65. It was a succession of gloopy fields, suspicious cows and indistinct routes. To be fair, there were a few highlights. The Victorian letter box at Lawkland was the oldest we found and the one at Eldroth church probably the prettiest.

The nice Victorian one in Lawkland

The trig point at New House Pasture was an odd one. I must have cycled within 100m of it loads of times without noticing it. It sits just above 200m in a wall corner on a sloping hill side that’s not remotely a summit. I guess it’s there to triangulate to Moughton and Smearset which you can see on the other side of the valley.

New House Pasture trig point

A few more gloopy fields and we were safely back from the Dark Side west of the A65. Well, I say safe – but we still had the foot crossing of the railway, the Settle bypass and the unexploded ordnance of the Giggleswick School firing range to contend with.

We survived these and found ourselves clearing up the Gigg letter boxes and up to our final target on Cammock Lane. This one is a bit of a mystery as the lettering has been removed but it looks like it could be another Victorian one. 

Anyway, here’s a picture of Roger trying to post his ballot there for the Postman Pat/Jess fancy dress vote – clearly fraudulent as the deadline had been yesterday.

Roger ‘I’ll see you in the Supreme Court’ Laycock posting his ballot

 

 

 

An account of a post lockdown Lakeland long traverse by Simon and Loz…

What it’s about – Simon

The Joss Naylor Challenge is a route conjured up by Joss in 1990 when he was 54. It traverses 30 summits on its way from Pooley Bridge to Joss’ village in Greendale (in Wasdale). This is about 67km and 5000m of ascent or 48 miles/17000’ in old money.  The route has become known as the ‘old man’s Bob Graham’ and this had probably put me off the idea for a while as memories of how hard I’d found the BG 30 odd years ago still run deep. But then after Loz and I had run the Lakes in a Day ultra a couple of times, we realised that the JNC should be not much harder. It’s a bit shorter but with more climb, although, unlike the LIAD, the climbing is loaded towards the end of the route over most of the big Wasdale fells. The other factor that – unusually – worked in our favour is being relatively ancient. The time limit for completing the challenge is on a sliding, age-dependent scale so at 50 you only have 12 hours but this increases to 15 hours at 55, 18 hours at 60 and a leisurely 24 hours at 65. So for us that gave 18 hours which seemed like a viable challenge, at least from the comfort of an Excel spreadsheet at the kitchen table.

The route is divided into four obvious legs: From the start along the High Street range to Kirkstone Pass; crossing the Fairfield group over to Dunmail Raise; a longish hack up to Bowfell and over Great End to Styhead and then the final leg over the high fells around the head of Wasdale to the finish at Greendale Bridge. A very cold recce last November with Roger over the first two legs suggested the required pace was OK – at least over 7 hours or so. But then of course lockdown brought a halt to anything that wasn’t out of the back door.

A view of Leg 1 from the Pooley Bridge car park

Once Boris allowed us to venture a bit further afield Loz and I did a 9 hour recce of the last half of the route from Dunmail Raise to the finish. The logistics of this are a bit tricky as you end up a long way from your car. Luckily Tom Oxley had just got his provisional driving licence and was easily conned into the idea that driving Hilary over Wrynose and Hardknott to pick us up would be good driving practice. Gill was also there to meet us and asked how we’d feel about turning round and doing another half of the route. We looked at her like she was crazy and, as always, we felt we really needed to get fitter to take on the full Challenge.

However, looking at diaries and family holiday plans suggested that the long summer days could easily slip by without an attempt being fitted in. So we’d better just get a grip and do it. By mid-July the brilliant weather of the early summer had turned into unstable squally stuff but a good weather window was forecast for a few days’ time on Sunday. Roger was keen to join in (as a leisurely recce to see where the hours would be knocked off on his ‘proper’ attempt later on) but was unavailable that day so we assembled a small team of supporters at short notice for a low-key traverse with a 4am start from Pooley Bridge.

Leg 1 – Loz

I’m not one for early starts.  In fact, if this start had been any earlier, I’d have just made a late night of it, the evening before. I hate the restless hours in bed, in a funk over how horribly soon I have to get up.  Once up though, it was a nice pre-dawn, T shirts and shorts even at 3:30.  Just light enough not to need our head torches, which was as well, since they were in Mark’s bag to meet us much later. It’s a slightly odd start through a large static caravan park but then you’re soon on the fell. First peak: Arthur’s Pike, crossing the route of the Lakeland 50 en route.

 

Sunrise on Loadpot Hill at 5am

 

The sun popped up just before 5:00, just as we were keeping our fingers crossed that a stream we thought we remembered was there. If not, we’d be going thirsty. We carried our own kit throughout, so kept water to the bare minimum needed to get to the next source. Filling up and a few dawn pics lost us 6 mins on the schedule. Incidentally, Simon’s computations (spanning many spreadsheets and furrowed brows) had come up with the strikingly precise projection of 17h 9 m for arrival time at Wasdale. We pushed on. At this stage of an ultra it’s good to keep the pedal off the metal, and move efficiently, rather than to risk early flame-out.  We were back on schedule by Kidsty and then saved another 6 mins by Kirkstone. The wind was a bit fresh and cool from the west, but only my hands were cold: unlike my sensible companion, I hadn’t brought gloves.

The section had been enlivened by a fox on Arthur’s Pike and couple of Bambi-style fauns on Raven Howe. Other than that and a couple of tents, we’d seen no sign of life. Dropping towards Kirkstone, I spotted a couple of people on a knoll and to my surprise, they got up and ran towards us.  Turned out to be Becky and Tom. That was nice but even better was to follow when they offered chocolate pancakes straight out of the pan.  Now that was definitely a first, and very enjoyable too – thanks guys! That little burst of energy helped us get the ideal line down to Kirkstone and our first support.

Leg 2 – Simon

Jude and Dominic Spracklen had readily volunteered for a 7:45am rendezvous at Kirkstone where a mini rave seemed to have been going on over night. Rejuvenated by the smell of weed wafting over the fell-side we started the grind up Red Screes. Tom and Becky had also managed to pack up their pancake kitchen and joined us for the climb before peeling off somewhere near the top. Across Scandale Loz and Dom seemed to be deep in conversation about the economics of biomass power generation while Jude kept me entertained by drip feeding raspberry flapjacks – more my level at this point. We seemed to be making good progress though across the Fairfield section and were 18 minutes up on the schedule at Grisedale Hause. Here Jude and Dom ducked off down to Grisedale Tarn and Loz and I last had sight of them swimming around 500’ below as we climbed over Seat Sandal. The BG descent route is a quick way down to Dunmail Raise but you’re constantly aware of your immediate destiny up the apparently vertical face of Steel Fell dead ahead. Hilary’s impressive picnic table greeted us at the road – the last road crossing on the route and the lowest point between the start and finish. This is pretty much the half way point in distance but with most of the climbing still to do.

It’s surprising we got much further after this enormous picnic (Photo: Tom Oxley)

 

Leg 3 – Loz

If Fairfield and Hart Crag had reminded me of Lakes in a Day, a blurred Dunmail feeding frenzy followed by trudging off up a horribly steep fellside was pure BG throwback. Thanks to Hilary though for all the cakes!  Martin Holroyd was with us from here, and he did sterling work to Sty Head. Steep Steel Fell came and went. High Raise is a bit of a plod too. Happily, Joss took pity on his followers around here, and let us off the intervening Calf Crag and Sergeant Man. After that bit, it’s a good downhill to cross just below Stake Pass and into the rockier terrain of the western half of the route.

On Rossett Pike, we got the right line after our recce a few weeks earlier.  Then the third water stop on this leg (which is well provided with streams compared to the rest), at the foot of Bowfell.  That big steep climb up Hanging Knotts was a struggle for me. I had a roll I was trying to eat (and eating gets harder the longer you run); I had my two poles to carry and I was trying to grab a drink as well. Coupled with needing to touch rocks to balance up the steeper bits, I felt like an octopus missing half its tentacles.  Eventually I emerged onto the plateau feeling like my legs were spiralled together. The others seemed to be packing away their almost-finished copies of War and Peace by the time I staggered up to the summit. Politely, they pointed out the direction of Esk Pike and I managed to redeem myself a little by finding the racing line which I’d re-discovered on an earlier recce. It’s the way the Langdale comes (going the other way), but my brain on that occasion had been deep into oxygen starvation by that stage, so I’d remembered nothing.

Esk Pike is a fine hill and I was almost managing to keep the others in sight ahead going from there to Great End. Martin kept musing about turning back – he had to reverse most of the route back to Dunmail – but then he would “just come along one more top” with us, and so ended up dropping down the very rough descent to Sty Head (the slowest bit of the whole route) to complete the whole section with us. A heart-felt thanks to Martin, you really helped us keep moving.

Martin sees us safely to Styhead (Photo: Mark Wildsmith)

Leg 4 – Simon

We’d been on the go for over 11 hours and were half an hour up on our target time here and so had 90 minutes in hand on the 18 hour schedule. Although nothing was said out loud, it seemed to me that barring disasters we should make it round fine and this allows you to relax a bit and enjoy the trip.

Mark Wildsmith had kindly made the big commitment to drive all the way round to Wasdale Head and met us at Styhead. His preparation for supporting us on leg 4 had been a 250km off-road bike ride the previous day – he rightly assumed we wouldn’t be pushing him too hard at this stage. The final leg is about 18km and 1500m with an immediate start-as-you-mean-to-go-on brutal bash up Great Gable. This was about the only place on the route we saw many other people but we were quickly down the other side and up onto Kirkfell. There’s a handy stream outlet from one of the summit tarns here – pretty much the last water before close to the finish. I think we carried about a litre and a half each from here.

Not a bad afternoon to be in the Western fells

Joss’s Gully is a rough but quick way down to Black Sail pass and we were then on the long slog up Pillar. In my mind this is the final crux and it seems sort of downhill after Pillar – psychologically rather than literally. It was somewhere here though that I suddenly felt light-headed and wobbly as Loz and Mark pulled ahead over the rocks. The sure sign of an incoming bonk – so I stuffed down a Mars Bar, quickly followed by a Snickers. On the whole I think we’d done very well on nutrition – eating pretty continuously and mostly proper food like sandwiches and pizza rather than fistfuls of Jelly Babies. But on these long runs you always seem to be not too far from hypoglycaemia so the emergency Mr Mars is a useful tool for me and I was fine again in 5 minutes.

Joss’s Gully on Kirk Fell

After Pillar there’s a cunning traverse to avoid an unnecessary top and you’re on Scoat Fell. Confusingly Little Scoat Fell is higher than Great Scoat Fell and in between the two there’s the out-and-back to Steeple where we had great views across Ennerdale in the late afternoon sunshine.

Three hills to go now and Haycock doesn’t seem bad. There’s a choice of descent routes here and we opted for the fast scree shoot that we’d found on our recce a few weeks previously. There aren’t many runnable scree descents left in the Lakes so this one’s a bit of a surprise. Whatever time we made up here though was probably lost in the palaver of emptying small stones out the shoes at the bottom.

A bit of a slog up Seatallan (Photo: Mark Wildsmith)

Middlefell – the final top! (Photo: Mark Wildsmith)

Seatallan was a grind but Middle Fell beckons as the final climb and is a great view point. This included a view of our parked vans down below in Greendale. Gill, Hilary and Tom had been swimming in Greendale Tarn but were there to greet us – although only briefly as we sped through the parking area on our way to the ‘true finish’ on Greendale Bridge 16 and a half hours after setting off.

On the bridge (Photo: Mark Wildsmith)

Final thoughts – Loz

It was nice to finish and satisfying to have at least beaten Joss’s benchmark time. He must have been feeling generous towards the elderly when he set that one. It had been a brilliant day on the hills, as they usually are once you get going. We’d been lucky with the weather which was only cold a couple of times. And we’d had some very kind support given generously.

The route does have the feel of a real mountain route as opposed to a trail-type ultra. That makes it very worthwhile. I am glad we did it whilst still (just) able to put one foot in front of the other for long enough, and I’d recommend any other ageing runners to give it a whirl while they can.

GPX of the route

Here is a gpx file showing our route with some waypoints added with comments about route choices, water etc. added by Loz. You can upload this route for example at osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk but the gpx file should also upload to other software.

With Storm Denis on the horizon for last weekend I was considering my options on the Friday evening:

  • Bleasdale Circle on the Saturday – 8 km with 380 metres of ascent – a Settle Harriers Championship race
  • Or Barbon on the Sunday – 3 km with 360 metres of ascent – a Kendal Winter League race
  • Or both

Having studied the OS map for Bleasdale, curiosity got the better of me: a school, a church and a parish hall, all with no road leading to them??  I’d have to take a chance with Barbon and just hope that my knee would be up for another race on the Sunday.

The journey to Bleasdale was, thankfully, uneventful; it even stopped raining, and there was just one flood to negotiate which, so long as it stayed dry, I reckoned I’d be able to get back through.

I arrived in good time as I hadn’t pre-entered, but I needn’t have worried; with only 59 out of a maximum number of 120 there was plenty of room for everyone on the start line.  Spot checks were carried out to satisfy the full kit requirement, although by now a lot of runners were wearing most of their kit as it had started to rain again…

The route headed north from the parish hall, turned east to cross sodden farmland for a couple of kilometres past Bleasdale Circle (no time for sightseeing) and then climbed steeply up onto Fair Snape Fell at 510m.  While one couldn’t really describe the conditions as pleasant, the climb up to Paddy’s Pole on the summit was fantastic: the wind was so strong that I seriously considered unzipping my waterproof to harness this relentless stream of free energy.  Would this be classed as cheating I wondered?  In the end it was the reluctance to get soaked which made me desist rather than the ethics.

On the summit conditions really were atrocious as the marshal grabbed me by the arm to steer me round the stone shelter in case I got blown away.  The race organizer had very prudently decided to shorten the course that morning making it a there-and-back to Paddy’s Pole rather than continuing along the ridge to Parlick; in fact at the start line he told us that the summit marshals had been instructed to descend if conditions worsened and that the turnaround point would be wherever you happened to meet them!

As it was, there was only one DNF, everyone got back safely, and I finished a very respectable – for me – fourth from last.  And back at the parish hall there was a seemingly endless supply of hot soup, hot tea and delicious home made cakes.  It was still raining.

Once I was warm and dry and fed, my mind turned towards the homeward journey.  I set off and eventually reached the flood which, to my surprise, was not as bad as I had remembered it.  I drove through it, rounded the next bend, and realized that that was actually a new flood: the original flood was now twice as long as it had been a few hours ago and was receding into the distance!

As I drove home I thought about my daughter Chloe; having signed up for the university caving trip she had driven from Cambridge to South Wales on Friday evening bombarded with dire warnings from her mother about being sensible and intelligent students, and I wondered where she would get her sense and intelligence from…

And Barbon?  Obviously I was devastated when the race had to be cancelled, but secretly I think my knee was quite relieved.

 

Jill Gates

Post-run pub chat at this time of year inevitably turns to our much-loved, iconic local classic, the Three Peaks Race.

In honour of this famous event on our doorstep – and to remind you to enter (it’s a club champ) –   here’s some fun peaky facts…

  • The Three Peaks as a round was ‘invented’ by two teachers from Giggleswick School who completed a circuit in 1887 in 14 hours and 27 minutes.
  • The first foot race took place in 1954, starting and finishing at Chapel-le-Dale. It was won by Fred Bagley, one of three finishers from a starting line-up of six.
  • The route has changed a few times over the years, most recently to use the ‘new’ path round Sell Gill, Penyghent summit, and the flagged route off Whernside. I think we can all be pleased it no longer goes across Black Dubb Moss – aka the bogs of doom.
  • The Daily Mirror sponsored the race for a number of years.
  • Yorkshire TV made a programme about the 1976 edition. Well worth a watch on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyRHE9chNyg&t=286s
  • Chris Hirst is the fastest Harrier, having clocked 3.10.50 and 12th place in 1992. Other fleetfooted completions include Alistair Scholey and Adrian Pickles who have both run 3.25.
  • Carol Evans is our speediest female with a PB of 3.54. Rachel Hill has also broken four hours.
  • Settle Harriers had 16 runners complete the race in both 2014 and 2016 – our largest turnouts.
  • Judy Marshall’s sister, Helen, was first female in 2006.
  • Steve Moor is always last out of the start field. It’s the law.
  • Judith Allinson has been known to serenade competitors with her flute on Ingleborough.
  • Mike Wynne’s marshal post on Ingleborough was legendary. The finest slurp of tea ever tasted.
  • The shoe debate is nearly as old as the hills. It’s possible, apparently, to run it in road shoes in a dry year. However, Andy Peace set his 2.46.03 record in 1996 wearing Walsh PBs and I believe Victoria Wilkinson’s 2018 record run of 3.09.19 was in Inov8 X Talons, both of which are very grippy!
  • The late John Rawnsley, long time organiser of the Three Peaks Cyclocross, which started in 1959, completed the fell race 30 times. That’s as well as riding the cyclocross 45 times! Wendy Dodds has run it 35 times. Jon Sharples has 22 completions to his name running for Clayton-le-Moors. We must have others with multiple runs in double figures – anyone? Who’s our club member with the most completions to their name?
  • If you’re still looking for qualifiers, try Black Combe (AM and a club champ) on March 7.

Anyone else got any fascinating or funny facts about the peaks?

Some ‘historical’ photos…

Julia Murfin

  

13 Harriers took part in the Skipton ParkRun on Saturday 7th December – the 2nd of the Settle Harriers ParkRun meet-ups.

Most were seniors as a lot of our juniors have succumbed to the lurgy going around the schools at the moment.

3 of our contingent ran “PB”s for the course (congrats to Charlotte, Jan & Julia) and we had 4 “first-timers (Sam, Carmel, Richard and Kath)

Well done to all !

 

Skipton ParkRun – 7th December

9 Sam BRUMMITT Male VM45-49 19:38 First Timer!
21 Simon OXLEY Male VM60-64 21:58  
29 Andy EVANS Male VM60-64 22:55  
50 Charlotte PEART Female JW11-14 24:50 New PB!
55 Jan-Friedrich WULF Male VM45-49 01:09 New PB!
69 Carmel RAMWELL Female VW45-49 26:08 First Timer!
73 Richard TIMMS Male VM50-54 26:37 First Timer!
81 Oscar WULF Male JM11-14 28:09  
115 Julia MURFIN Female VW50-54 30:59 New PB!
135 Kath DAVIS Female VW50-54 32:10 First Timer!
159 Sophie TAYLOR Female JW11-14 35:11  
165 Sharon TAYLOR Female VW45-49 35:52  

(Unfortunately Oliver Brummitt had to retire with an injury)

On Sunday morning (24th Nov), 4 of us drove down into deepest Lancashire to compete in the Lee Mill Relays. The event is in its 5th year running and this year there were 87 entries.

The course is just over 10 km starting along a narrow track up through a disused quarry then onto the open fell. The terrain was very wet due to rain and had a mixture of very steep short ascents, good downhills and flat open running.

I ran the first leg in 55:55 however I seemed to come back a different colour to everyone else one bog being a lot deeper than I expected! Next was Will Buckton in a time of 1:02:55 who came back a lot cleaner than me.

Mark Wildsmith ran the next leg in time of 56:00 before handing over to Tom Hare on the last leg who ran a fast time of 52:51 to boost us up into a final position of 15th and a time of 3:47:41.

Which I think was a very competitive all round performance. However, more impressive was a solo runner called Chris Holdsworth who ran all 4 laps of the course in a time of 3:43 beating us by 4 minutes!

A good event for a damp November day and hopefully we will have a team next year.

Matt Holroyd

(couldn’t find a photo of you Tom sorry)

Results here

On Saturday 19th October, 12 Settle Harriers made the 2 hour-plus journey to Fairholmes in the Peak District and joined approximately 250 other teams for the British Fell Relay Championships. Aiming to cut down on carbon emissions around the race-site, competitors parked 6 miles from the start and boarded a shuttle bus.  The whole day, hosted by Dark Peak Fell Runners, was impeccably organised and those in charge couldn’t have done a better job. The back-drop to the hand-over/start area was stunning; the imposing Derwent Dam was accompanied by the forest and craggy hills of the National Park.

The courses were over rugged terrain, with large parts of the courses off-path and over thick heather. A few bogs and steep sections were dotted about the courses, very much making it a proper fell race and one which would take everything out of our legs.

The relay consisted of 4 legs: a solo 5 mile leg with 360m climb; a mapped 7.5 mile leg with 480m of climb (2 runners); an orienteering route of 7 miles and approx. 550m climb (2 runners) and finally another solo leg of 5 miles and 375m climb.

First off for us was Matt Holroyd of the Men’s team and Catherine Speakman of the Mixed team. Both runners placed their teams in great positions for the following legs, with Matt picking off several runners on the descent before finishing 73rd and Catherine moving through the runners to come back 189th.

Our duos for the 2nd leg were Matt Fretwell and Matt Cardus (Men’s team), and Richard Timms and Sam Allsopp (Mixed team). Both teams moved up a lot of places on this leg, as Matt and Matt had the 41st fastest lap time and Sam and Richard had the 127th.

Leg 3 was the most challenging leg of them all, as the runners were only given a map of their route a few minutes before setting off. In addition, this map was not the most straight-forward of maps, and therefore tested their orienteering skills greatly!  Martin Holroyd and Zach Jennings had a cracking run as they propelled the Men’s team into the top 40, with a 48th fastest time of 1:34:45. Carol Evans and Sharon McDonald also had a great run, finishing 206th on their leg.

Several hours after the start of the relay, leg 4 runners eventually set off on their route. For the Men’s team, I moved us up into 34th and 27th Open Men’s team with the 59th fastest leg time and John Osborne propelled the Mixed team several places up into 168th and 18th Mixed team as he registered the 105th fastest time for leg 4.

Both teams had a stellar performance, but more importantly, everyone had an amazing time and the great fell running atmosphere was not lost in the competitiveness of this race.

Report by Sebastian Segger-Staveley

Why? – That is a bloody good question. I blame the Three Peaks. I can see Ingleborough from my house; I walked the Three Peaks when I was 12 with the Scouts; and now I like to run. It seemed to me that trying to run the Three peaks one day would be a good idea so I needed to find some qualifying races that I could fit in around marathon training. The two I chose were the Three Shires race earlier in the summer and The Tour of Pendle.

The recce – I had mixed responses on whether or not this was a good idea. Richard Timms pointed out that a recce might just put me off the idea altogether. I discovered Kirsten was doing the race and so we decided to recce the first half of the course – which I later realised was the easy half. We had reasonable weather that day although visibility was a bit poor on the very top near the trig point. We made our way round very steadily and things seemed to be going reasonably well. About 94 seconds after telling Kirsten that the gradient and ground were far more runnable than the I had found the Three Shires race, we arrived at Geronimo – a very steep drop interspersed with rocky and slippery muddy patches. I came down there with all the agility of an arthritic Grandad (I’m not one). We made our way back to the car-park from the bottom of the slope with me feeling pretty tired and wondering how the second half of the race would be, and whether or not I could up the pace to meet the halfway cut off time on race day.

The race – In the buildup to the race I went to the Harriers speed session on the Tuesday night. I heard various encouraging tales: “Expect to inhale all four seasons on the day”, from Richard; Tony telling me that the other year, it was freezing; he nearly got blown off his feet, the last climb is horrific – “I love it, I’ve done it six times”. On another training run two women from Skipton told me about Pendle, “Its harder than the Three Peaks”, and, “it always snows for that one”. So armed with this encouraging information I was ready to go. Richard assured me I would be fine and do it under four hours. Really?

On the day we were unbelievably lucky with the weather although I still opted for southerner-based kit of long tights, gloves and hat. There was the usual nervous milling about at the start with some ineffectual stretching. As we shuffled through to the start point I bumped into Mark Wildsmith who wished me luck – nice to see a friendly face. We set off alongside the reservoir before breaking up the hill towards the trig point. Early on it was quite crowded so a sensibly paced start was unavoidable. Becky passed me around this point and wished me luck too. As we started to climb up through the fields and onto the open ground I was relieved to see that many of the people around me were also walking parts of it. My target was to finish so I wasn’t going to beat myself up about pace. It was a relief to get to the top and have a flatter section ahead. From the first checkpoint over to the second I took a slightly different route than I did on the recce. Fortunately, because the weather was so kind, I was able to see plenty of runners ahead and pick a similar path to them. In this stretch I even managed some almost sensible pace hitting 7.45/mile. This was to be short-lived though.

Another hard climb from checkpoint three reduced me to walking again. I took the opportunity to shovel an energy gel down and some water and as it levelled off we ran on to Geronimo. I took a slightly different line than previously and while it was slippery, there seemed to be less rock to land on. There was quite a bit of laughing as we all elegantly bounded down the steep slope like balanced, confident, mountain goats. Well…I did hear one person got grass burn on his backside and he wasn’t the clumsiest.
I was delighted to hit the checkpoint 4 cut off in about 1 hour 33 minutes, well inside the two hours required. Now all I had to do was drag myself to the end.

From here on, it’s all a bit of a blur. I know we ran alongside the beck before a fairly short climb back on to the main path on the top. Again, visibility was so clear that there was no danger of getting lost as you could see hundreds of runners strung out ahead. I’m not sure whether it was the climb up to checkpoint 6 or 8 that really slowed me down – possibly both. I know I clocked a 28-minute mile around there…not even a decent walking place. It was a steep, long climb, into a fairly stiff breeze. I was yo-yoing back away from Kirsten at this point. I know she’d had a cold, and I’m not sure I would have kept up with her otherwise. It was a relief to get up on to the top again although it was a bit colder by then.

I was ready for the last climb back up past the trig point as I had been warned about the severity. I plastered a fake smile on my face and set off. It is steep. Doesn’t matter how you look at it. I’m assuming that the faster runners don’t run up this either. There was a brief discussion here between a couple of runners about the possibility of hitting a nightclub later – “unlikely” was the gist of the reply, albeit slightly more abrupt and offensive. I was nearly on all fours on parts of this climb. There was an absolute gent handing out flapjack at the top though – a welcome sugary treat. I had caught up with Kirsten at this point so had some company for the last uncomfortable miles.

As we set off back downhill on the trail I realised that the bottoms of my feet were a bit knackered. I think the Inov8 Mudclaws may be the wrong shoe for me on this type of run – I felt like I needed some more cushioning on the fairly solid ground. But I guess it might just be the distance and lack of experience. I had been warned that this part of the race was the best opportunity to get lost but Mark had told me to keep an eye out for the wall running down the other side of the valley where we had come down Geronimo. Again we could see plenty of runners ahead and due to the great visibility we could clearly see the wall. We made our way down to the final checkpoint with the end not far away.

From there we made our way back down the tarmac road by the reservoir, which was feeling very hard indeed on my tired feet. The finish. Hooray. Thank God. 3 hours 58 minutes 2 seconds. A massive 1 minute 58 seconds quicker than Richard had assured me I could manage – he knows his stuff.

It was a tough race, but then I don’t think anybody considering doing this for the first time would expect otherwise. Its like all these things, you have moments of questioning your sanity; moments of camaraderie; moments of looking at the beautiful scenery; moments of looking at the ominous ascents. I felt confident beforehand that I had the stamina required from running marathons, but I have a long way to go in terms of running technique offroad and have sensibly given myself plenty of room for improvement. Going downhill I am particularly slow and lack courage/am sensible (not sure which). I had done plenty of homework on navigation and bought the race map from Pete Bland sports, but in fact it wasn’t necessary due to the great weather on the day. Obviously relying on the weather being great would be foolhardy round here. I think people questioning whether they should give this a try probably should. I am delighted to have done it and now have the required qualifying races for The Three Peaks.

I owe a big thanks to Kirsten who calmed my fears by accompanying me on the recce. Andy and Carol Evans also have helped me with speed sessions on Tuesday nights that I would recommend to others. And thanks to several other Harriers who offered tips and encouragement who I have mentioned.

Give it a go.

John Eddington

It was a grey, drizzly day but the fluorescent green of Settle shone loud and proud with no less than three teams in fell running’s big day out – the British Hill and Fell Relay Championships at Grasmere.

We fielded a men’s open, ladies’ open and mixed team in the 2018 edition, hosted brilliantly by Ambleside AC on challenging, classic fell routes in testing conditions, with runners barely out of the clag all day.

Pudsey and Bramley were the well-deserved victors after an exciting day’s racing. Nobody would have bet against Keswick when Carl Bell and Mark Lamb led them home on leg 2 with more than a minute in hand, but a disastrous nav leg proved that going walkabout can happen to anyone. Ladies champions were Helm Hill.

Our men’s team of Mark Rogerson, John Murfin, Tom Hare, Alex Pilkington, Paul Lambert and Thomas Marshall finished 55th in a combined time of 4.42. Settle Mixed, represented by Jill Gates, Rachel A-F, Carmel Ramwell, Simon Oxley, John Oz and Matt Holroyd, clinched 178th in 6 hours with the ladies – Judy Marshall, Hester Cox, Becky Howard, Carol Evans, Kirsten Angus and Jess Bagnall – just 13 minutes behind them in 202nd.

Leg 1 took the runners up to Grisedale Hause then the summit of Seat Sandal before a fast and furious descent back to the Grasmere event centre in a four mile, 2,500ft blast. The slippery conditions showed their bite early on with the next to penultimate field soon earning a reputation as the place to take pictures and videos (there’s a good one on FB called Descending – the Good, the Bad and the Bloke From Horwich, which is fast going viral).

Our runners tackled it brilliantly. Judy took a tumble near the finish which dislodged her dibber and luckily another runner handed it in, but anyone following events live online may have seen a ‘dnf’ appearing for our ladies team early on. Not so! The results were amended pretty quickly – panic over!

Leg 2, seven miles and 2,800ft, was for pairs. It was tough, gnarly and very skiddy taking competitors up to Fairfield, Cofa Pike, Grisedale Hause and back down Tongue Gill. Dubbed the event’s Queen Stage, it was a thorough test of ascending and descending skills which our pairs relished. All of them gained places on this leg.

The nav leg was mainly off-piste and featured bracken, eye-wateringly steep slopes and lots of rocks. Kirsten describes how it went for her and Carol:

A late substitution saw me joining speedy Carol on leg 3, the navigational leg, eeeek! Now, I love an adventure, but I described my navigational skills as ‘rusty’. Alex, Martin and Simon came to the rescue with some quick compass refreshing skills and tips, and away Carol and I went maps and compasses in hands.  We followed the masses and gill to CP1 before we headed further upwards into the clag (the weather was not being helpful). A couple of errors, and a bit of luck and we happened upon the fence crossing (we were looking for a wall) and down to the sheepfold at CP2.  A runnable section on an actual path up to CP3 was quite enjoyable before a calf and gluteal burning ascent in a crawling position towards Great Rigg. Back in the clag and trying to figure out the best descent line to Tongue Gill, actually took a bearing here, yey! Got it roughly right as we descended through a rock strewn fell covered in bracken, it wasn’t exactly quick. Then a quick up and over Great Tongue to CP4. Next, a quicker descent with fellow pairs back down to the finishing field, which was by now very slippy, and producing some interesting running styles and techniques, before being cheered home by the Settle team. And of course, we loved it, what an experience, testing our navigation and we did ourselves proud. It was a grand lakes day out and a pleasure to run with Carol and Settle as always. The whole event was great to be part of with around 240 teams, wow! I’m looking forward to the next relay.

And so to the anchors. Leg 4, for solos, allowed teams to field 16-18 year olds while all the other legs had minimum ages of 18. Settle made full use of this by allowing our talented youngsters, Thomas Marshall and Matt Holroyd to step up to senior competition. Both lads, plus Jess for the girls, smashed it over the four miles and 2000ft trip over Stone Arthur, with what many described as a ridiculously steep, exhilaratingly fantastic descent.

As always, a thoroughly enjoyable day out (for the supporters as well as the runners). A chance to catch up with friends from other clubs, bond with team mates and generally celebrate our wonderful sport. Credit to Ambleside for a slick, well organised event with what were universally acknowledged as excellent courses. Well done to all the runners and a huge thank you to team managers Carol Evans and Roger Laycock for a job well done.

Anyone interested in running next year, it’s being hosted by Dark Peak and the intention will be to try for three teams again. Do let Carol and Roger know if you’re interested!

Words – Julia Murfin, Kirsten Angus
Pics – Settle Harriers (various)