Pen y Ghent: first fell race for some
We travelled to Yorkshire in fine weather, had great weather while there, and returned in good weather. UNFORTUNATELY, the heavens opened whilst we travelled to the race, obscured the hills during the race, and put a serious damper on the Horton gala (and rather stuffing my plan to try to sell some books!). Perversely, it cleared up soon after and was bright sunshine again, and we had a fine sunny evening walk to the pub for a well earned meal.
Arriving at Horton we registered and tried to prepare for what was coming (not that any really knew) around the car in the parking field. Not much warming up took place, possibly to the detriment of subsequent performances, but it really was quite manky. Bumbags packed with standard FRA kit, the athletes assembled for a quick briefing from the race organiser. Pen y Ghent was completely clagged. Some worried faces showed the uncertainty in how the summit navigation was going to go. For some a basic compass lesson was required that morning, emphasising the line of first descending, but I was confident that the summit marshall ought to be keeping an eye on folk. I saw the field over the first bridge and then moved up to just under Whitber Hill to await the return from the gloom.
The leaders came through looking good, with M50 Craig Roberts taking victory (his 10th). Soon Derwent AC’s Rob Morris strode down the hill, having soundly beaten the club’s first athlete (his brother Will Morris, see photo above – at 3rd check point). Not long after our first lady came through, eventually sealing 3rd ladies position in her first fell race (Jo Kent, see photo – descending Whitber Hill). The winning time was 50-46. Our nine athletes came in with times ranging from 1-01-28.– to 1-24-41, which was none too shabby for first timers [results]. Comments afterwards varied from “Never again” to “I would do another one next week if I could”.
We were staying for the weekend in Bishopdale (at The Rookery), and had a great evening meal and a fine (pint of) Black Sheep in the Street Head Inn. The next day there were streams of club cyclists out reccying that part of Le Grand Tour route (a sprint finishes at the pub). Seven gallant athletes went out for their Sunday ritual run, of varying lengths over my recommended route – that I had not noticed having little black arrows on (yep, very steep rises!). Luckily we had Ontrackhysio on hand. Varying degrees of stiffness ensued in the next couple of days, but by Thursday I expect all will be back on track at the Midweek Road League race over the familiar training ground of Trent Park. Will we be back? I am sure some will, some won’t. But I am very sure that all will now have a healthy respect for fell runners/races.
Note: if we thought those conditions were tough, on the same day the Ennerdale Horseshoe race (a FRA champs counter) had to be shortened and brought off some of the tops because of lightning warnings, and the danger that posed. We also heard later that one athlete there had taken a bad fall and badly smashed up their knee.
[Credit: photos 1 & 3 Stuart Slavicky]