Let the racing resume…!

It has really felt like we are getting back to something resembling normal summertime racing over the last fortnight – mid week races, races on both days at a weekend and Harriers all over the place (albeit still in the UK) racking up miles (and miles) of racing and general fun in the hills which is how things should be.

Round the Resers (courtesy of Paul S.)

What a brilliant event. Huge thanks to the organizers and helpers for letting us feel normal again for half an hour or so. The results have already been posted (got to say, chipped timing is the future!) so I’ll just give a quick overview and edited highlights: 

First of all, GDH had a top turnout. This is how I like my racing; if GDH can’t be the fastest, we can certainly compete at being the most social (though Sale and Marple gave us a run for our money on that score). I’m guessing we had 35 or so runners plus a fair few supporters so thanks to all who took part. 

In terms of racing, Paul Peters and Luke Cook had laundry issues so wore the wrong vests but ran brilliantly up at the sharp end. Quite a few GDH had some cracking battles with only seconds between them. J must be pleased with quite a few of the sprint finishes, clearly the coaching sessions are paying off.

As I said the results are already up but more importantly, who looked good in the pics? Well, there’s a few contenders here but I’d say the top two go to Rob Anker and John Gaffney.  Their sprint finish pics are deffo up for profile pic replacements.  Also rans include Paul Peters showing top running form (if you’re into that kind of thing), Charlotte Bliss and Wendy Mc, both clearly just loving it and grinning non-stop and the GDH peloton pic with Nat Hicks, James Knapper, Fruity Crossman and yours truly. It’s a shame some of the other groups battling it out weren’t caught on camera. It’s good to remind yourself who your enemies are. Thanks to John Pollard, Chris Jackson and any other photographer types who came along. It all adds to the experience.

Anyone get munched on by the midgies? I never noticed whilst running by they were giving me some welly at the end.   So there you go, short(ish) and sweet. Round the Resers 2021- a belter.

Langstrath fell race (courtesy of John P.)

With spending a lot of time in the Lakes it seems rude not to do the odd race,
Now a midweek fell race up here is never going to be a picnic because the lads and lasses who turn up for them are usually hardened fell runners, having done a full day’s work at the quarry, or on the farm or doing reps up Sharp Edge…(stereotyping, but they do tend to be on the competitive side). So taking on one of these one (I mean me) has to be prepared to be bringing up the rear and hope it doesn’t get dark before the marshals all go home 😉. With this in mind I pre-entered the Langstrath fell race, a mere 5 miles of 450m ascent, run from Stonethwaite and straddling two valleys, Borrowdale and Langstrath.

On enquiring, Mike, the cheery organiser, asked me for an estimated time so he could place all runners in bib order and at social distances at the start, in order of expected finish time, as the race starts on a very narrow Lane by the Langstrath Country Inn.
And he didn’t want the likes of us clogging up the path as Jacob Adkin and Ricky Lightfoot go for the record. Having not done this before I used Lindsay Buck of CFR, aka the Wasdale wobbler (that’s another story) as she and I are often closely matched. Lindsay had done it variously in 65-70 mins so I put this down for Mike’s purpose. That’s how I ended up with #89 out of 92 starters and lining up 250 metres back down the road in the campsite! But I had company and banter. Not being chip timed this was going to affect my official time by up to a minute (my usual 250m speed 😊).

On a non-race related note, I’d had a lovely day, drizzly though it was, visiting Keswick’s environs, especially Castlerigg Stone circle, a marvel to behold. And with time to spare I parked in Rosthwaite first to have a walk and partly recce a bit of the route I didn’t know. Useful if I was tailed off (but this didn’t happen). The valleys looked awesome in the misty mountain air and the cuckoo of Borrowdale was making itself heard…the third cuckoo I’d sounded in three different valleys recently. Beautiful. And I was able to pay my respects at Bob Graham’s grave, which is in Stonethwaite graveyard. Let’s hope the upcoming GDH BG attempts are not to end in a metaphorical BG graveyard. Good luck guys and gals.

One thing I wasn’t looking forward to was the first major (and mega) climb, up some engineered slate steps which I’d first encountered on the Derwentwater Dawdle at about 16 miles in, not recommended for vertigo sufferers. It’s actually a feature called Lingy End, but the segment records it more poetically as ‘the steps of Doom’.
Bloody Stephen Wilson, the well known race photographer placed himself halfway up these, a cruel position as I commented passing him spitting blood, “that’s a horror show photo mate”. No worries says Stephen, we’ve got a couple of other stake-outs that’ll show you in a better light! Yeah, right. (He was actually).

Back to the start of the race and a couple of things made me chuckle while talking to the motley crue who were arriving in a variety of vehicles from the obligatory campers, Land Rovers, battered bangers to a rather tasty Porsche sports…probably Steve Birkinshaw (yes, the ‘hell has no map’ fellow was also there.) A youngish lad with Cumbrian accent addressed me “you’ve done this before have you?”. No, except to climb a few bits of it I replied, how about you? “My first fell race this” he chirped. “I’ve reccied it mind so I know it’s hard but I’m doing Buttermere in July and I’m trying to get into it”. Fair enough, not yer typical midweek fellsman as I said but he looked in serious mood.

Only thing was I noticed his vest number….44. Now that meant he’d given a fastish time to Mike and could expect to finish top half of 90….so what time did you recce it in I asked. “Ah well, it seemed a bit longer than the official length and I took over an hour…my mate had submitted a faster time to Mike before I had done that, so here we are in the middle pack”. At this his mate, an older guy, appeared, and offered me some outsize safety pins from a neat little pin box (you had to provide your own, covid stylee) and I thought, well organised these two, be interesting to see if they can live up to their ETAs.

I’m going to skip the race description, to be honest unless you were there or you’re going to learn some useful tips (unlikely in my case) I always find a blow by blow account of somebody else’s race a bit…well, academic to be polite. But having said that I will mention a couple of things.

With starting at the back I really was fearful of running out of companions and maybe taking a false trod…Mike had said he’d had to flag a short section before Watendlath Tarn to keep us away from a delicate area of SSSI and to be careful here but I was confident of all but the finishing section really.

So after the steps of doom you emerge onto the fellside just below the melancholy and remote Dock Tarn, and here was the other photographer who captured superb shots and even made me emerging from the tortuous climb look mildly heroic. Great pictures.
The longer section over slippy boulders, marsh and finally rocky path to Watendlath was right up my alley and I made a few places up here, though several fools followed me as I missed an SSSI flag and temporarily went astray! A last climb out of Watendlath was hard but as it levelled I stepped on the gas again(possibly this is a false memory) and while keeping the CFR bloke behind me at bay, began to hunt down the female ahead of me. As I did, she careered off the rock path we were on and I knew went down to a wall line, and took off on a cunning trod, which I soon realised was going to cut a huge corner off, though I wasn’t sure where it led, and when catching her and asking her she was strangely reluctant to enlighten me….oh well it takes all sorts. Both myself and the chasing CFR fella burned her off (great satisfaction and no regrets at all) and finally I knew I was nearly back at Stonethwaite and the bridge we’d first crossed.
Stephen Wilson had packed up and was walking back to the Inn but on seeing me and others coming he clicked off another few pics and I treated him to a full facial tongue a la Will Mather copyright. Stephen later told me he prefers runners to sometimes do something a bit different.

Finished 72nd in 68.36 so it is tough but I’d picked a few off whose estimated ETA had flattered them. And walking away I found Lindsay, the Wasdale Wombler (it really is another tale) only just finishing…and she had passed me on the steps of doom. So how come? She oddly didn’t seem to know about the shorter trod and had continued on the main path, losing maybe a couple of minutes. A little local knowledge eh? Or cheating by copying someone else! And the lad with number 44? He’d finished in 55 minutes so fair play to him. A certain Jacob Adkin of Keswick AC had broken Gavin Bland’s 22year old record by7 seconds in 35.15!! Just another planet 🤔.

Grizedale Forest Trail Half Marathon (also courtesy of John P.)

And so to today and the Epic Events half (and full for some) on the rocky trails around Grizedale, with 557m/1827’ of ascent, so despite the hard trails, hardly a pb course.
I don’t really enjoy running Grizedale unless it’s a wet day, there’s not too many views and it is possible to lose your way if you’re not using and following the visitor centre colour coded routes. No chance of that as Epic have arrows everywhere and are usually mob handed with marshals.

I’d picked up a budget transfer from Chris Smith, who had other fish to fry, so I was seduced into a training run with a fine t shirt and bling at the end. Sue Clapham travelled up from Broadbottom at some unearthly hour for the 8.30 start, with her chauffeur aka husband Chris. He wouldn’t have long to wait in the event field as Sue dashed round (Sue will say plodded 😉, I’d love to plod that fast) to finish 1st FV50 in a superb 2hr 6m.34….and 8th female overall.  I did a respectable 2hr 14.36 though these aren’t our half times as the course was long, I was past 13.1m in 2.07.09.  Been there, got the t-shirt 😎.

Round Sheffield Run

Lots of harriers were strutting their stuff around Sheffield over the weekend.  A quick play in xls suggests the following:

Other Racing gleaned from FB…

  • A Classic Long Round: This weekend Immy T. has been doing her long awaited Paddy Buckley (a circuit of just over 100 km long taking in some 47 summits). No results as of yet however she has been looking really strong and very smiley in all of the pictures posted to FB by her GDH support crew.  Hopefully Immy will tell us more about her welsh running adventure in the next report (and she has promised not to send in any pictures of her feet). 
  • Lakeland 5 Passes Ultra: Wioleta W., Rebecca S. and Kate E. all took part in the Lakeland 5 Passes Ultra yesterday – the weather looked great and the ladies were all very happy based on the FB snaps from our GDH roving reporter, John P.
  • Rat Race The Wall: Ben did this last week and it looked proper hard <70, miles of relentless hills, never ending roads finished sore but in great spirits in approx 17.5 hrs>.
  • Up the Nab – Chris J., Paul S., Neal B., Steve C., James K., Nath H., Rick S., John G. and Charlotte B., did this and, by the look on Steve C’s face, a lot of fun was had by all 😊.

Other Club Stuff

  • June Mash Up: Huge thanks again to Immy T. and Ian C. for organising another brilliant mashup event.  This time, the route was a road score course and 11 pairs of Harriers spent a happy hour learning more about the cut throughs, ginnels and less used footpaths around Glossop.  Top lamppost bothering, all!
  • Virtual Club Champs: Don’t forget to submit your times for June’s virtual club champs in the next couple of days and start working on your ultra stamina and nav (and style 😊) as July’s route is the Glossop Skyline.
  • Weekly Report Crew Update – goodbye and hello: We have had a little swap around here at GDH Weekly Reporting HQ. We are saying a sad goodbye and a big thank you to the Wasinskis who are stepping back from report writing for a while and are waving a cheery hello to Rick Steckles who will be putting pen to paper on things GDH racing related very soon.  

Please do keep in touch (gdhweeklyreports@gmail.com) We love to hear about your running related antics and it makes our job a lot easier, especially as we will be going be back to weekly reporting from 1st July.

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