Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Windy Gyle Fell race, 22nd June 2014 8.5miles, 1801’

This year, the Windy Gyle fell race is one of the Northumberland Fell Runners’ grand prix fixtures.  I was anticipating a good turn out on a warm, dry day in the Cheviothills and wasn’t disappointed.  Over sixty competitors out for a run around the Cheviots.

Windy Gyle stands at 2,031ft and sits on the border between England and Scotland.  One of the six Cheviot’s which top out at over 2,000ft.  Apparently it is possible to see the Northern fells of the Lake District from the summit.  I have walked some of the route before, starting at Barrowburn and along the Border Ridge.  I remember it being a steady climb up to the top with fantastic views of the surrounding hills.  God’s country.  It really is a beautiful area to run and walk in.

The race was to start at 10:30am.  I travelled up with my Dad and the ever excited Jasper (English Springer Spaniel, 6 months old).  It was Jasper’s first time in the Cheviots and I knew he would love bounding around while I was off on the route.  My Dad knows the area very well, regularly hiking the hills with his chums so the boy was in good hands.

Phil Green (www.thehottrod.blogspot.co.uk) was organising the event.  He was disappointed not to be running it tooeven though he had done the Cyclone the day before£6 entry plus a quid for a map, terrific – all for a good cause.  I even managed to nab some safety pins from the boot of his car, gratis.   Thanks Phil.

We set off at 10:30am along the road for a few hundred metres before turning left onto the first climb.  I was up with the leading group for the first couple of miles and managed to pull away for a few minutes.  I realised I was unsure of the route at this point so slowed down to be directed.  The climb up to Windy Gyle was a struggleI think the effects of the weekend before, supporting a Bob Graham were still in my legs (well done again, John – epic!).  

Dad and Jasper
I dropped to fourth spot when we reached the summit, Bruce Crombie (Alnwickwas flying.  I was racing with Lee Bennett (Elswick), Jonny Malley (Dark Peak) and Adam Fletcher (Alnwick) coming off the Trig.  Jonny had the right lines having done the race before along with his orienteering expertise.  Adam was strong on the climbs and Lee was gliding on the downhill sections.   We were back and forth for a few miles, which was great to be involved in.  I was feeling much stronger now and managed to break away into second.  

Bruce was uncatchable, looking in fine form for the Chevy Chase.  I passed my dad and Jasper on the last descent, which gave me a boost.  I made it to the finish in second, and congratulated Bruce on a great race.  NFR won the team prize.  Steph Scott had a great run and finished first Lady.

Jasper had a great time tooI think he had my dad worn out! Looking forward to taking him for a run in a few months, it’s still a bit early for the little fella.

I’ll not forget the midge repellent next time, two weekends in a row of being munched on.

Many thanks to Phil for the organisation and great to hear the event had raised over £300 for Mountain rescue.  It was good to catch up with a few NFR’s, not least Steph Scott who hadsupported Steve Birkinshaw on some of his epic Wainwright’s challenge.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Blaydon Race 2014

The last time I ran the Blaydon race was in 2012, where I was running with undiagnosed anaemia. It was a day to forget. I found myself stopping after the first mile and had to take walking breaks on a frequent basis.  It was an odd feeling, not knowing what was wrong and watching streams of runners leave me in their wake.

Nevertheless, that's a long way behind me now. I was on the start line at Balmbra's waiting patiently for the 7:15pm kick off. The weather was good, although very warm. I couldn't help but admire the athleticism of the elite runners warming up.  I was pretty well placed at the start, uncomfortable for anyone with claustrophobia though. 25 minutes of waiting and unable to stretch the legs can't be good for you. But good crack with the other runners.

The gun went dead on time and we were off, runners coming from all directions jostling for position. It's a rather tricky start where you have to be careful not to get barged over and to avoid bollards. Once on the Scotswood road, it was nice to just focus on pace and enjoy the ride.

The first 5k flew by, moving up the field at a steady rate with a parched mouth. I passed the chap who beat me into second place at the Blyth 10k. I was thinking it was going well!  I ran with my training partner for a while, helping each other along, taking in the crowd and support which gave us a boost.  I paid the price for wearing my old inov8's when a blister appeared on the outside of  my left foot. #slinflint

By the 5 mile point I was starting to fade, the last section seemed to go on forever. I dug deep and crossed the line in 29:56, 17th place. One of my best races. My calf's can vouch for that.

Excellent turn out from Morpeth Harriers. Another grand pric race ticked off.  Well done to everyone who competed and for their support. Top ale too!

Windy Gyle next, after a Bob Graham Round leg this weekend. Hoping for good weather.