TWO MUMS ENJOY A LUXURY LAKES MINI-BREAK

“Oh, you’ll be alright on the Saunders. You don’t have to carry your tent – you come back to the same place for the night, and there’s a bar at the camp and you can get food and everything.”

Complete b*ll**ks of course, but it did the trick! I knew really that John was lying through his teeth when I asked him if he thought I’d done the right thing in agreeing to have a go at the Saunders!

After years of waving John and Jan off on various MMs, it was mine and Jo’s turn, and I was excited and petrified at the same time. I really liked the idea of the running and navigation, however, having to carry a pack and, most of all if I’m honest, the idea of “The Trench” was quite a turn-off.

I needn’t have worried. Quite remarkably, Jo and I managed to weigh in our packs at exactly 5.5kilos each, and as we drove into Patterdale early on Saturday morning, a welcome row of green portaloos were a comfort for the eye and stomach!

Almost immediately we spotted Phil Ward, the Giggleswick sports therapist, who was about to do his 60th MM. As the rain began, he very kindly invited us into his camper van and made us a pre-race cup of tea.

Phil, nursing a calf injury, and his partner, Ian, were doing the same class as us, Wansfell, the shortest running class. Jo had already written something about beating them in Phil’s appointments diary when he had his back turned during a treatment earlier in the week, so there was quite a bit of friendly rivalry already.

Soon we were off. It was quite showery, but spirits were high and we managed a bit of camaraderie with our fellow runners. There were two ladies with pink fairy wings attached to their rucksacks who it turned out were on a hen night – one was getting married and the other was the bridesmaid the following Saturday. We both decided that Jan and John wouldn’t have approved of the fairy wings for weight reasons – our mantra for the weekend was John’s motto: “Every ounce counts”!

It was a bit of a follow-my-leader across the fells so there wasn’t much navigation really needed to find the checkpoints, but we still paid careful attention to our maps, in case the 500 others were wrong!

After a first day of rain showers and bracken trods, a really nasty contouring moment and me up to my hips in a bog (not at the same time!) we descended to the northern end of Haweswater to the much appreciated sight of portaloos at the midway camp.

We ran in to see Phil and Ian were already there! Bah! But results analysis showed we were almost 2 minutes ahead of them! We were 55th overnight, roughly half way down the field.

What a nice atmosphere at the midway camp! We didn’t have any beer, although plenty of people did, and (another personal fear of mine) we didn’t go hungry at all. In fact, I was stuffed! Ainsley Harriot pot noodles and muesli bars, chocolate brownies and chocolate filled us up. We had a sociable time and both did something which was an absolute luxury – we had an AFTERNOON NAP!!!! The mothers out there will particularly appreciate just how special this was!

Up bright and early for the start at 8.05am. The Saunders does not have a chasing start, if you’re not given a time, you can choose your own start time anywhere between 8.05am and 8.35am. The queue to start snaked its way round the entire campsite.

Day two was quite a bit shorter, but still with some significant climbs, and one pretty hairy downhill, which we could easily have abseiled down! The navigation was easier too, because it was a glorious day, a really lucky break in the weather, so we could see exactly where we were headed. What beautiful scenery, we felt really privileged to be out there.

Coming back into Patterdale we were really on a high, and the final charge to the finish was exhilarating. A meal and mug of tea from Wilf’s was very welcome and we even had a massage in the physio tent as a post-Saunders treat!

Phil and Ian had a storming second day and managed to beat us comprehensively. We finished 59th with a combined time of seconds over eight hours, they were 49th and about half an hour quicker.

I think we did about 14.5km on day one, and 12 on day two, with a total ascent round about 1600m,

What a fantastic event. All thanks to Jo, without her it just wouldn’t have happened, and a better partner I couldn’t imagine. I loved it and can’t wait for next year!

Julia Murfin

This years Settle Harriers Easter Jolly was the biggest yet by far:- 22 Adults 19 children and babies and two dogs!

It was the perfect weekend! The Carlisle Diocese Youth Centre based at St John’s near Keswick was our accommodation: a very spacious, light and well equipped centre in an idyllic situation, perched high on a little mountain road miles from anywhere, with beautiful far reaching views of Blencathra and the evening sunsets.

This year saw an even more diverse range of activities taking place; lots of running as you would guess but also road biking, mountain biking, swimming, scrambling and rock climbing, over night camping, walking…. The weekend was the hottest so far in 2007 with temperatures in the mid twenties for both Saturday and Sunday, which was ideal for lounging around outside and sipping cool beers, but not so ideal for 5-6 hours of running. So to the training, which is what it is all about…. Two eager groups departed on the Saturday morning a group of 3 extra keen girls got dropped off on the flank of Helvellyn on the edge of Thirlmere, and did that mountain and then followed the lovely runnable ridge northwards over the Dodd’s to the Old Coach Road, then across the vale and back home. Next group off – after a rendezvous with Loz, 6 fellas and a dog set off to Honister to do a backwards tour of Ennerdale, not hugely long in distance but a heck of a lot of ascent…! Some beautiful running over some of prettiest Lakeland fells. The mountains where unusually quiet, perhaps the heat had put many off…?

During the afternoon a further assault of Helvellyn was made by a junior and senior Murf and a junior and senior Robinson, the juniors looked a lot fresher than their parents on the return! Others went to chill out at Keswick swimming pool, meanwhile a second girls group did the pretty little circuit of High Rigg. …and so to Oz – he and Hannah eventually returned very late in the afternoon, apparently some confusion regarding a rendezvous at Buttermere….(funny this but when Oz returned so did Tracy’s sun chairs…) The evening saw quite a lot of beer being drunk by the adults – mainly Craig! (provided by the local brewer from Settle) meanwhile a lot of adventure and exploration by the younger ones, it was great to see them playing together and looking after each other.

Sunday morning, another warm morning and two hundred of the fattest sausages where cooked up for breakfast and provided us with fuel. The training aspirations where clearly not so intense this morning, some managed a run while others went scrambling, climbing and exploring, with George doing his first roped climb up a 50′ crag. Some went to the river, which was cold, but not too cold for the little-uns to splash around in for an hour! Most of groups headed home mid afternoon after trying vainly to finish off the remaining food mountain, most went by car, although not Dave H who had Murf in tow on their scenic hilly ride home.

Suggestions welcome for next year, although St Johns will be hard to beat, but a change is always good…

Till next year…

Alex

Alex – where’s John?

It was an early start for the first ever OMM this year. Held in the Galloway Mountains, it was a toss up between going up on the Friday and having an extra night under damp canvas, or a 4.30am start on the Saturday. In the end the comfy dry bed won out and it was a half asleep me who joined Alex, Jan and Brian in the wee small hours for the journey north.

Alex and I were in the A class, Jan and Brian the long score and Gary and Pete the short score. We had a long walk from the car park to the start and at 9am we were off. There were some familiar faces from previous LAMMs and KIMMs including the southern London boys, but no sign of our friends from the LAMM who’d trailed us all the way just to pass us at the end!

It was a tough first day with fog and rain, a real test of the navigational skills, and we had a good day route choice wise. After about 3 checkpoints Al started to really struggle, looked like he might stop altogether and I even had to carry his rucksack! (Or was that me, Al? Hmm… maybe!) Seriously, I learnt a harsh lesson that you can’t tackle the OMM after not eating anything since porridge at 4am! A sandwich and a Mars bar later and things were looking a lot better.

Approaching the finish we had a mild déjà vu when one of our LAMM friends popped up as a B class contender and a sprint for the line was on the cards. Al was up for it, but I sadly didn’t have the legs. We finished in the rain thinking we’d be about 20th and so were made up to find out we were second overnight. The first placers were young GB orienteers Neil Northrop and Matthew Crane (who cropped up again in December as the fastest Leg 2 pairing on the Calderdale, running for Dark Peak) who had a significant lead.

Once the tent was pitched it was time to look forward to a restful, comfortable night’s sleep. Actually, it was another typical mountain marathon night spent pretending to be asleep and listening to snores all around!

On the winners’ podium

Day 2 dawned much brighter and dry with good visibility. We set off well and had a good day. We felt we were really flying so we were surprised to find at the end that we were only seventh fastest for the day. We were delighted though, because overall we had held onto our second place by just three minutes. The first place team had increased their lead to win by about an hour and a half, a really impressive performance.

I’m not sure about finishing positions for Jan and Brian but I hear they had a good run. I don’t think Gary and Pete had their best result, but still enjoyed the weekend. Overall we covered about 40 miles and about 13,000ft of climb. A great event, enjoyable experience and certainly one of the highlights of my running year. Cheers to Al for another good partnership on the mountains.

John Murfin

As this was my first race ever I’ve been given the dubious honour of writing up our “race report”. The race participants were Annie, Kerry, Jill, Julia, Tracy (new recruit to club) and myself.

The race took place on Sunday 15th October and went up hill and down dale (or it felt like it to me). Since the race was on a Sunday, we thought we’d better get there in good time. So we went on Friday! We can now recommend excellent accommodation and a good curry house. The annual beer festival was taking place Saturday night so we felt it only right to suss it out. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bit of an occasion for the “lonely hearts club” and after a swift drink we left them to it.

On the race morning it was noted by other competitors that Settle Harriers are not seen “up this way” very often. I felt quite anxious about my performance in the race as I had a Settle vest on. The race itself had quite a few hills in it. Obviously we knew Richmond to be a bit hilly but just when you thought you’d come to the last hill another one was waiting, and it was another climb to the finish.

The ladies team after the race

The results were approx. as follows: Annie at 47 mins, she collected 2nd prize for fastest V40 (we were very proud of her). Jill and Tracy came in at a more than respectable 55 mins. Julia and Kerry were just over the hour by 18 seconds! They’re determined to remedy that next year. I came in… a little bit later (shall we say not quite the last runner but nearly). Annie asked me how I’d found my first race and I think I told her I hated it and would never do it again. I’ve since had time to get over it and now I’m ready for our next weekend away. I hope we still stick to a 10k as I know what to expect now! A brilliant weekend was had by all and we’re definitely going to do it again.

On a serious note, to anyone out there who doesn’t run but wants to, I’d strongly recommend coming out on a Monday night with everyone. It’s a great way to get started as everyone is very encouraging and supportive. They’ve really given me the confidence to think I can run more that just down the street. Most Monday nights they all “drag” me round, as I still find every run a challenge, but I can honestly say I’m starting to improve. So if you’d like to come with us please do so you’d be more that welcome.

Di Horsfall

I  think it was fair to say the Easter Jolly to Kirbky Stephen was a definite success! In all, including partners, children etc. there where 25 people. Most being accommodated by the Croglin Castle Hotel. We all dined in the hotel and had a very good meal. The hotel provided an excellent service, with the landlord and staff being very tolerant of all the young children, babies and dogs charging around the place.

The weather was reasonable for the weekend (good running conditions at least).

The outward leg was about 30 miles (Jan will confirm this as he had his GPS), with 6 runners and 3 cyclists going for it. It was interesting to see that the match was pretty equal, with runners having a distinct advantage on the steep and rough sections.  The overall time taken was about 5hrs 30min, with a pie/cake stop in Sedburgh.

The return leg took most of us over unchartered territory, including Wild Boar Fell and Great Knowtberry. This time 5 runners and 2 cyclists where in action, the routes where different this time.

A vintage vehicle rally was taking place on the Saturday morning, which brought some additional interest to the weekend, together with a free historical bus ride for some of the mothers and children.

Hopefully this can turn in to an annual event, I’m more than happy to do it again, but if anyone else fancies having a go – even a different hotel maybe, then that’s no problem at all!

Hopefully I’ll be back running again soon, when my leg decides to work again….

Alex

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…

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.

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!

Near perfect conditions saw nearly 1500 runners que up start this one. Oz had done me the favour of finding me a late entry in yet another road race in close succession, (as Andrew has already probably rightly pointed out to be part of some late winter madness).

After a mile or so of watching our feet in the crowd, and John had caught up after missing the start whilst tying his shoes, we began our move up through the throng. Once John got into his stride it was all I could do to keep up with him, and up to mile nine that’s about how it went, John pulling away on the hills and me just about catching up again on the descents. In the end I found myself for once in front and for the last three miles or so just managed to stay there with John a constant 50 yrds behind (I had to ask him afterwards as I daren’t look).

In an extremely competitive (Settle Harriers) race I came in 63rd in 01:29:35 and John, knocking 2mins of his last year’s time, came in 74th in 01:30:05.

Actually this road running thing isn’t that bad……..Nurse, where do we keep the straight jackets!

See you on the hills,

Brian

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.

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.


Restocking at 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.

Dave Alexander

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