I last competed in the Hexhamshire Hobble fell race in 2011 on a wintry day in Allendale. There were blizzards, ice and a bitterly cold wind. This year’s event was held in probably the best conditions for a number of years. No wind, sunny spells and a toasty 8 degrees. There was no alternative but to get the legs out on display. The long sleeved Helly Hansen baselayer with the sleeves rolled up even turned out to be too warm!
There was a fantastic turn out this year with mutterings of an appearance by a certain Mr Ricky Lightfoot. What a coup!
Given the conditions, it was highly likely that the course record would be smashed. I paid my seven groats and made sure my bum bag had the necessary mandatory kit.
The start was prompt and I found myself in the top 10-15 on the first climb out of Allendale town. Mr L was off like a rabbit, bounding up the hill and off into the distance. I settled into my own pace keeping in touch with Andy Blackett (winner of the event the last two years). The terrain was very runnable with the odd bog littered about, some of which I had no option but to plough through and get a soaking. There was some to-ing and fro-ing between Andy and myself for a couple of miles then Lee Bennett stormed past. Andy attached himself to Lee which helped pull me along, barely keeping in touch but certainly in sight.
By half way I was feeling quite strong, thinking the past couple of months of swimming sessions were perhaps paying off. Even my dodgy achilles was niggle free. I passed Andy on the long downhill road section from 8km to 11km, Lee was off into the distance. I had no chance of catching him with only one climb and the ultimate descent to Allendale school to come. There was some welcome encouragement on the last climb from Steph S, (thanks for that Steph). I ploughed on trying to consolidate my position, conscious that I may be caught. I made sure I didn’t look behind me just in case!
After the fast downhill road finish I was pleased with my run, and picked up my 20th anniversary race mug! 6th position in 01:10:49. I shook Mr Lightfoot’s hand and found out that he had indeed stormed to a new course record of 1:02:31 (previously Morgan Donnelly’s 01:05:19).
A great turnout from NFR, who picked up the team prize, based on the top 4 finishers from each club and also based on total time. Emma Bain picked up a combination of 1st lady and 1st V40, great result.
A big thanks goes to Allen Valley striders. The organisation,marshalls and tea and cake were fantastic. A cracking event.