A Pocketful of Races

A small yet perfectly formed set of races this week….

Wincle Trout Fell Race (Thanks to Paul Skuse)

At the risk of repeating myself, this may now be my favourite race route. It was the first time out at Wincle trout for the 4 of us (me, frank, Crutches and Nick). I’d heard loads of good stuff about this one but normally left it too late to get on it as it books up really quickly. The turnout was pretty impressive. I can’t estimate numbers anything over 20 but Frank thinks 350 ish runners were out on the course. The race intro was very brief “3.2.1 go!” No waffle, all business. I was clueless as where to go but there were plenty of fast lads to follow. The climb out from the car park was the most arduous part of the race. The humidity was certainly not helping matters. After that, it was hit the cruise control and float through the woods. It truly was all runnable; if you’ve ever done RSR it was pretty similar terrain to the woodland bits. I finally got to see Lud’s Church though I was pretty much focusing on my feet at the time.  You know it’s a belter if, when seeing the finish line, you get a sense of disappointment as you know it’s almost over.  No idea about results/times. If interested, they’ll be posted somewhere at some point. Thanks to those who came out and raced.

Peris Horseshoe (Thanks to Chris Webb)

Chris Jackson and I headed to Snowdonia for a classic on the fell running calendar, the Peris Horseshoe. In an age where the cool kids are all running ‘Sky Races’ (myself included, just without the ‘cool’ element!) it’s tempting to overlook a race which has all the characteristics of those races but without the snazzy trimmings. For £7 you get a tough, technical route (~17miles/8000ft) over some gnarly terrain, electronic timing and soup and a roll at the end!

The start heads 3000ft straight up Elidir Fawr through the quarries and Jackson and I were among a group of about 8 all trying desperately not to hit it too hard knowing we’d be regretting it later on. After the summit there’s a glorious traverse around to Y Garn, I’m not sure there’s a better runnable section of fell, with epic views on both sides on a clear day. The clag was down for the race however and I was in the lead group of 3 passing those who had opted for the early start (you can choose to set off 30mins early if you’re not planning on being at the sharp end and don’t want to be finishing too late), Jackson presumably not far behind. Over Y Garn and then down and up to Glyder Fawr before the tricky descent to Pen-y-Pass, getting a good line down here isn’t straightforward, today’s was another variation but was good enough.

The leader had opened a gap which he would maintain to the finish leaving me to battle with another Eryri runner. There’s a fast running section after the halfway point along the Miners Track dodging walkers before the steep climb up Y Lliwedd. This section is awesome, along the ridge, drop into the col and then straight up Snowdon via the crags just above the Watkin Path. I was just behind the guy in 2nd at the summit and chased him down the long descent of Snowdon before the cruel final climb of Moel Cynghorion. I managed to overtake and somehow avoided cramping on the climb before the steep descent to the finish at the cafe just above Llanberis.

I finished 2nd in 3hrs 56mins and Jackson was just behind in 4th (about 4hrs10mins I think). After the Ring of Steall race last weekend, Chris is clearly in some decent form! All in all a cracking day out for £7 and I urge anyone who likes these sort of races to have a go next year.

Lakeland Races (Thanks to John Pollard)

The last two Saturdays have found me, unsurprisingly, in the Lakes for a couple of different races. Last week was the Cartmel based races in the Lakeland Trails series. I’ve waited two years to do this one as it’s on trails I often run when I’m at my caravan. They are very runnable but challenging because of that, with some decent little climbs. Usually though, they are pretty muddy in parts and more like a cross-country, but climate change or whatever it has been so bone dry that I’ve seen hardly a puddle for weeks.

There’s different distances on offer and when I arrived for the last one to run, the 18k, apparently Charmayne Brierley had already completed her 10k and was no doubt off for a wild swim somewhere cold with probably a bike ride thrown in!  I know this because I was told by the only other Glossopdaler there, Anne Williams, ready to do the same 18k as me. As Lakeland still operate wave starts Anne and I were due to go 5 minutes apart so we had a nice chinwag before I joined the start line.

Those of you who know Anne will know she’s a bloody good runner and I was expecting her to catch me somewhere along the line, so I wasn’t surprised to find her floating up alongside as we hit the last incline in the final mile in the woods by the racecourse. It didn’t really give me a kick up the jacksy as I was spent and Anne finished looking fresh as 1st LV50 in about 1hr 45 I think. Well run!

This Saturday was a different kettle of fish, tackling the 19 mile-ish of the Four Passes, an event staged by the small family-run Ascend Events. I like these guys and they put on a good bash on well-conceived Lakes routes. I saw Kate Bowden, Wioleta and Rebecca Smith complete their ‘Five Passes’ earlier in the year so fancied this as a taster.

Intrepid navigator  Nicola Pennington and I joined two fellow runners from Tony Hillier’s HRC group Wayne and Samantha, to have a hopefully pleasant jaunt round a few Lakeside valleys and passes. And this week Kate B couldn’t resist signing up for her 4th, I think, go at it.  We all met up at Rosthwaite village hall in the heart of Borrowdale where it begins, on a seemingly benign and bright morning for pre race cuppas and selfies before Geoff, the RO’s, relaxed ‘off you go’ set us in motion.

I wouldn’t really describe it as a race as it doesn’t have the frantic urgency or tension of a fell or road race, and though some are no doubt competitive we were not going for a time as my friends were more keen to sample some rougher off road terrain, not their usual surface. I was chatting to Kate in the first mile until we met a few bottlenecks to get out of the valley, and then she was gone….aiming for her pb, and I never saw her again! I don’t know how she fared but I hope you got your pb Kate.

Out of Borrowdale our progress proper began with the first steady climb past picturesque Stockley Bridge up to Styhead Pass, accompanied by an increasingly low cloud level and drizzle, and there was no prospect of seeing the higher flanks of Great Gable or even the lesser fells. This Piccadilly Circus of crossroads to the high fells was busy with hikers despite the forlorn prospect of them seeing much from the tops. It was muggy though. Always feel for the volunteers at the checkpoints, and our man at the stretcher box wasn’t particularly chipper in the rain!

Styhead lead us down to Wasdale Green and the first food/aid station at 7.5 miles. Banter is usually had at these apart from cake and the like, and I had a laugh with the guys I’d met and had ‘bants’ with at the 5 Passes. You had to be there.

The rest of the route is history. Out of Wasdale I think the hardest climb came, up Black Sail Pass to its summit overlooking the head of Ennerdale, where on another day you can divert left and do the Pillar-Kirk Fell ridge. Not today. The rain was more persistent and it made the already technical descent down to the lonely Black Sail youth hostel even more tricky with wet rock.

The third pass and climb was Scarth Gap, flanked by Haystacks and High Stile, a much used pedestrian link with the outside world from this unique location. Probably the easiest of the day, though Samantha and I waited for some time below at the Buttermere checkpoint after it, wondering where Wayne and Nicola had got to…? The answer was they’d stopped to help a guy (another competitor) who’d had a fall and injured himself.

It was actually cold for the first time now, at 13 miles in. The remaining vans and motor homes of Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible film crew littered the Gatesgarth farm fields, filming having just ended, and provided a distraction for Nicola. Tom’s private chopper I’d seen earlier in the week had vanished….

The last climb beckoned, along Warnscale Bottom flanking the impressive shape of Fleetwith Pike, but ascending on tired legs to the old miners bothy of Dubs Quarry above Honister Pass. Busy tourist attraction at Honister with various things going on there these days, including the mine tours and via ferratas.

The descent to the last checkpoint at Honister was leisurely and led us naturally on to a section of the Coast to Coast path, leading us to the more pastoral surrounds of Seatoller and finally Rosthwaite. What better way to end then but with pie and potatoes and hot tea!  Job done, but I’ll be back to try for a time next time. I know we all enjoyed it, though one of my friends commented ‘never again’. How can you prefer roads to this though?

Multi-Terrain Relays: Ian and Immy served up another top mashup event this weekend with the return of the multi-terrain relays! Thanks to everyone who turned out to run, marshal and/ or support. Results and LOTS of photos below (courtesy of Ian C. and Alan S.)

#RunandTalk Week 2021: A good number of club members joined a fun and friendly social running event on Thursday to celebrate and participate in #RunAndTalkWeek.

GDH Virtual Champs: September Just a quick reminder that there are only a few days left to complete the Shelf Moor route (in company).

Great running, everyone! Don’t forget to let us know about your running-related antics at gdhweeklyreports@gmail.com

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