Sunday, 28 September 2014

Two Breweries hill race, 27th September 2014

What a great idea.  A race from one brewery to another over some beautiful Scottish Border countryside, on a cracking September day.  I reiterate the word 'idea'.  Doing it should be regarded as bonkers.

This was selected as one of the Northumberland Fell Runners championship races and was located in an area which I hadn't visited before.  The hills were akin to the Cheviots.  Rolling, grassy, heathery and deceptively gentle looking.

The drive up took a good two and a half hours.  With little traffic on the roads, Emma Bain and I made good progress and arrived with plenty time to spare to get sorted and hop on the bus to transport us to the start at Traquair house.  It was a lovely setting complete with a marquee tent, it felt like we were gate crashing a wedding.  We hung around for a while before the start having a chinwag, good crack with the NFR's.  The kit check was rather regimental but good to see the rules being enforced.

The first couple of miles were a chance to stretch the legs before the first climb up Birkscairn.  The legs were heavy already, probably from last week's race at Thropton and no let up in training during the week.  Stupid mistake.  

Nice hillage - Cheviot-esque
The views were spectacular and I felt privile
ged to be running in such a place.  The first descent to Glensax was a killer on the quads, seemed steeper than the descent off the Cheviot.  My three week old blister reared its ugly head and began to irritate. The next two ascents and descents were a bit of a blur and by the time we reached to foot of Trahenna I was well and truly jiggered.  I clawed my way up, literally!  There were screams heard from runners ahead, I could sympathise if I wasn't in as much agony as them.

Last road section was quite nippy, although legs were like jelly.  I managed to cross the line on 3:30.  Emma Bain was the star of the day finishing in 3:34.  She's in fine form and strong! I got the points needed to secure the NFR champs so I'm well pleased. Time to ease off the gas before the British Fell relays, feeling goosed.

The catering was top notch at the village hall.  Soup, salad, cakes and all the beer you could want!  Good crack with JT, Paul et al.  Also with the men's V70 winner, legend!  There were some saying it was tougher than Borrowdale, I'd probably agree with that.  Having a climb so steep just two miles from the finish is cruel.

A brutal race but in a lovely place.  It really did kick my arse.  I will return.... one year! 

Well done to all NFR!

Team NFR

Monday, 22 September 2014

Simonside Fell race 20th September 2014

The good thing about a local show fell race is you don’t have to rush around like a mad idiot in the morning getting things sorted for an early start. The Thropton Show gates opened at 12 noon and the race started at 2:30pm. Plenty of time to fuel up and walk the dog. The
only debatable issue was whether to have lunch or a light snack. I chose the latter but ended up being ravenous by the time we gathered for the start.

The weather was muggy and moist in the morning, but began to clear on the trip over at a casual, fuel conserving speed. There was a definite autumnal feel with the falling leaves and rapidly changing colours of the trees. Beautiful. I parked up next to the show field and paid my entry fee.

I was quite tentative about running this race having a niggling hernia which I really need to get sorted out as soon as possible. Hills seem to aggravate it. Mmmm

Top organisation by Phil Green. Clear instructions were given out regarding the route and which areas were marked. We were off. We all had wet feet within the first mile having to cross the river Coquet. I was up at the front, too much responsibility on route navigation! It was a steady climb for the next two miles through fell, forest, heather and a bit of bouldering to reach the top of Simonside (ended up on a slight detour losing around 30 seconds). The descent was very technical with slippery rocks and roots to negotiate. Once through that section it was all out balls out. I was joint leader at the top and was determined to make this my race for the first time.

I retraced the route back to the Coquet and looked back to see how much of a lead I had, not a lot! I ploughed on hoping I wouldn’t lose it at this stage of the race. I reached the show field and knew I had done it, eventually my first ever Fell race win. A great reception from the spectators and a great relief.

Scott Gibson was second (flying!) and Rob Salter third (he did a Park run in the morning too). Winning lady was Karen Robertson. A special mention to Rob and Sam Hancox from Morpeth harriers. Their first fell race and did brilliantly. Sam was with me at the top of Simonside but understandably took it easy on the way down on that terrain. A bit more practice and he’ll be a fab fell runner.

A great race.  Thanks again to Phil and clan. A bit surreal getting my first win, better make the most of it.  Cheers!

Results on Phil's blog:

Proud moment - first win