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.

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

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!


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.

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.

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

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

[Also some photos on FB]

Results below:

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

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.


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

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

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.

Jules and I have just completed the Lakeland Lanequest summer league. The concept of a Lanequest will be familiar to those who know about Mountain Bike Orienteering (MBO). These are bicycle-based orienteering-style challenges, in which competitors are given a pre-printed map with a number of controls marked on, which they try to visit. Unlike true orienteering where all controls must be visited in the designated order, the standard format in the UK is to visit as many controls as possible in any order, with the event having a specified time limit. We were doing MBO events way back in the mists of time when they were actually known as trailquests, winning the tandem title in 2000 thanks mostly to being pretty much the only team in that category. But we’ve been abroad for most of the time since then and have only re-started recently so are feeling a bit rusty.

In contrast to the off-road nature of MBO, lanequests take place entirely on roads, though these can be a bit rough in parts. The high density of controls and short 2h time limit make it a rather frenetic rush of map-reading and pedalling madly interspersed with jumping on and off the bike to punch the control on the scorecard, with the occasional gate and slow tractor added to the mix. While the fastest riders just have to work out the quickest way round all the controls, most of us have the more complicated decisions of working out how many and which controls to miss out, and having to make route adjustments on the fly when we find out how testing the course is.

Now in their 21st year, the Lakeland lanequests took place on 6 consecutive Tuesday evenings over June and July, each one being based in a different village with a cheap pub dinner and pint to follow, and with the best 4 results contributing to the overall league result. Each event used a different region of picturesque country lanes to ride, though we didn’t have a lot of time for enjoying the views! By the time the final event came around last Tuesday, we were sitting in 2nd place overall in the team competition, with the top three teams all sitting within a single 10 point control of each other. So with everything to play for, we had our eyes set on a fast ride and a good score. The final event was based around Staveley (Wheelbase being the main sponsors), and here is the map:-

The map was slightly unusual due to the large number of bridges still under repair from last winter’s floods. As a result, the route choice was fairly straightforward – we quickly realised we had to go via Garnett Bridge (twice) to cross the River Sprint in order to reach the 9 controls beyond the A6, with the obvious bit to miss out being the three widely spaced controls in the SW corner across the A591. We were blessed with fine weather and no navigational or mechanical mishaps and cleared up the remaining 27 controls with just over 2 minutes to spare. Despite winning this event with the highest score of any team all season, we failed to overhaul the eventual league winners by a mere 3 points. Maybe next year…

The 22nd Lakeland Lanequest League will no doubt start up again next summer, but for those who can’t wait that long, Kent Valley RC run a similar winter lanequest league on the first Sunday of every month from Oct through to March.

The best way to keep up to date with the events seems to be the Facebook Lakeland Lanequest page for both the summer and winter leagues. There are categories for senior and junior solos, teams of 2 or 3, and family (generation) groups. And unlike fell running you don’t come back covered in mud!

This year I have eased back the miles on the running, particularly the longer distance ones, the main reason to manage wear and tear on the body as the years go on. I would not say I have abused my body over the years but it has had a harder life than most I think.

So you have to keep the adventure spirit going in some way and with less big Adventure Races planned I started doing more self-supported and extended MTB rides, exploring all corners of the Dales, some forays into the North Pennines, Southern Scotland and Cumbria. Sometimes taking the lightweight tent and sometimes using bothies, sometimes on my own and sometimes with company. There are a lot of bothies in cycle reach of Settle and they also link up to make some good tours. A bothy is really basic, usually just having a wood stove, however after a hard days peddling and especially if the weather is bad, getting inside a dry bothy is like heaven – even better if there is some wood left in there, to light a fire and get warmed up.

At the back end of last summer I was in Riders Cycles at Skipton, chatting to Stuart (the owner) and he suggested I try his YD200 route, he is big into his bike packing! He had organised this as a Bikepack event a  month earlier and said it was popular, I was away with work and could not do it. So on one fine Autumn morning I set off, as the route passed our house I started it from there, rather than Skipton. And indeed it was fantastic and the riding conditions near perfect, but it was a long day in the saddle (14hrs non-stop). Happy with finishing that, Stuart said he had a YD300 planned for mid 2016 – so I said it would be rude not too!

I was slightly apprehensive the last week before the ride, as I had never ridden that far before off road. I had also been given a different bike to use a Trek 29+ – basically a fat bike with 3” tyres, it was heavier than my Chiru 29er, but it was a really comfy ride and much quicker than I was expecting it to be. I planned to go light and fast and not to do an overnight bivvy, which many riders would opt to do, as sometimes I prefer to ride at night and manage with no sleep, it is really exciting, especially zooming along under the beam of the bike light and with the moon peeping through the clouds.

40 riders where at the start, and a civilised time of 8am with a social breakfast provided, it was nice way to start things off, sun shining and a real mix of bikes and people – it was going to be a good, good day. Stuart set us all off in what was a very steady, lethargic start (and Stuart did keep saying it was not a race, in fact it was known as an Independent Time Trial (ITT) – no support, no kit caches, or pre-booked accommodation etc etc.) We were all rolling, myself not wishing to bimble along all day, picked up momentum and slowly rolled passed everyone and by Embsay I was out on my own and in the far distance behind a string of bikes slowly pulled up the hill over into Wharfedale, and that’s the last I saw of anyone. I planned to push hard, several hours of rain was forecast for late afternoon and I wanted to get some distance in. Dale after dale was covered, slowly working my way up towards Reeth, via Nidderdale, Coverdale, Wensleydale, Apedale, mile after mile…

In Reeth I called into Dales cycles for a couple of cans of Coke and some cake, had a quick chat with the owner, who was keen to hear of progress and was off 4 minutes later – 73miles done. Now raining quite hard – Waterproof top on and hood up and pressing on to stay warm, up the massive Fremlington edge, then over to Arkle, then Gunnerside, this was a milestone, some 95 miles and half way and now heading south – yippee all good, but a bit damp – 7pm and it had stopped raining. Over to Wensleydale we go, up the huge Cam High road to Newby Head, then down into Dentdale. A second stop for more Coke and crisps at the Sportsmans pub, I was his briefest customer that evening, another 4minutes stop, the second in only 14hrs. By this stage gates where becoming a nuisance – I had opened a hundred of them! The climb over the back of Whernside to Ribblehead was tough, I felt some tiredness in the legs and my climb rate slowed. 11pm at Ribblehead and time for lights, the night had begun – 64miles to go, just look after yourself and on very familiar territory, so no need to navigate. I have a good memory for routes and with the previous 200km ride I managed to do it all off memory, but with more unfamiliar territory on this ride and the extra distance I needed several more map checks – a wrong turn and several extra miles is not what you want, so it always pays to have a 30 second stop and check.

The eyes were quite tired now from the wind, 4hrs of rain and riding concentration, so I had a caffeine gel at midnight which picked me up, I reckoned my ETF would be 5am, thinking it would take 21hrs in total. The routed winded through Crummack, Feizor, round the Settle Loop over to Malham, along Mastiles Lane towards Grassington and then just 15 miles to go – still all off road though. It was nice to see brother Roger at Stainforth, unable to resist the lure of a night ride, he joined me for the last 42 miles, Roger struggled to grasp the concept that I had already done 148 miles of MTB, thinking 42miles was a good ride! The company was lovely and we shared the night adventure, seeing owls, shooting stars and then one of the best sunrises possible from the top of a misty Barden Moor. By now just 5 miles to the finish and almost all downhill, it was 5am, we were in no rush, but the downhill provided some lovely progress and by 5.20am we were whizzing down the High St of Skipton, 8min later all finished and off the bike at last at Riders Cycle Centre on Engine Shed Lane.    Job Done!

It would have been nice to have someone else pushing me along or to share the ride with, last years quickestrider another Stuart (Cowperthwaite) from Arncliffe, was not doing it due to an injury, shame as we would have been well matched I expect. The hardest part on an endurance event, is feeding the machine, your stomach has a hard time and often craves for stuff you have not got. I ate 16 choc bars, 1 cake, 2 butties, 4 gels and a pack of Haribo, 2 FGS, some biltong and a couple of pepperami, oh and 2 bags of crisps, 3 cans of Coke and about 5 litres of water and electrolytes. I had expended 13000 Calories, completed 190.7 miles and almost 22000ft of climbing. No punctures, no mechanicals and no crashes.

So if your run legs are tired, give the bike a go and explore. Get some lights and have a night adventure, or bivvy out, or go for luxury and try a bothy. Make the most of the long days and dry trails! Try a bike pack. Give me shout for help.

Alex Pilkington