Orchan Rocks Fell Race

No. 20.   I had to do this – passes within about 1/2 mile of my home.  Second year it’s been laid on – by a Tod Harrier.  And what a fine course he has devised.  5.4 km, 280 m of climb.  A bit of everything.  A little bit of tarmac to climb as a starter, then  through the trees and onto the fell, then more climbing, some flat fast running, a drop and then the main  steady climb of the race.  More flat running, a tumble down through a field, and a long steady downhill all the way to the final run in.  Lovely conditions; the rain held off during the race, and a little bit of wind.

And he gave me race no. 70.  A nice touch.

Managed to fall over tonight on the final downhill & draw a little blood, but didn’t lose any places.  Fairly satisfied with my time, but not how I achieved it – too much walking!  The old deficiency.  Should be better (see previous post).  Only excuse I can think of is that I had a day’s work today and perhaps that affected my running.

Another Andy O race tomorrow.

Wray scarecrow 10km, Lune Valley

A bit further afield today; a paucity of races on offer this weekend.  Possibly because there’s some big race in London tomorrow.  I can’t race tomorrow – there’s a football match to watch.  So, off to north Lancashire and a very attractive area.  All the town and village signs say ‘City of Lancaster’; but Wray is about 15 miles from Lancaster, and certainly is not your typical city.

A lovely race, climbing steadily to about 7 km, then a drop back to the village.  A bit wet and cold after the recent fine weather.  But the rain did not set in definitively until after we had finished.  Rural roads, very little traffic.  Good cakes.

Happy with my race; running all of the Diane Modahl on Wednesday has certainly benefited me.  I dug in at Ilkley, and ran all the race except the unrunnable climbs; and today I ran it all (not true – walked one uphill bit for about 200 m, but did overtake whilst doing so).  Before I started running I would never have believed how significant determination – or psychology – is, in a race.

So I was gradually overtaking the odd runner from about 3 km onwards and nobody overtook me; coming into the village at the end of the race I got past the lady who was directly in front of me on Wednesday; then a spectator instructed me to ‘sprint; you’ll get past him’ referring to the runner just in front, so I did and I did, getting past him about 20 m from the finish.

And I was faster than in Halifax last Sunday, on a course which I think to have been just as difficult.

Wray had scarecrows in lots of front gardens and public spaces; there all week as I understand it.

Having gone up on the motorway, I came back through the Trough of Bowland, always a lovely run.  10 miles shorter but 20 minutes slower.

So – a good day.  19 done now.

Dick Hudson’s Fell Race

Ilkley Moor on a clear evening as the daylight falls.

Where were ta bin when ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Moor baht ‘at?

Ah’ve bin a courtin’ Mary Jane

Well, not exactly.  I was doing a 7 mile (11.2 km) fell race with 600 ft (180 m) of climb.  On a lovely evening.  A harsh climb, then a run out across the moor, touch the field wall at Dick Hudson’s pub, the Fleece, at Eldwick, then run back.  A bit of an adventure really – start in Wharfedale, run to Airedale, and back.  On the way up I followed an Ikley runner who struck off to the right very confidently; nice route up the hill, but, and I guess this was predictable, it was slower than the way everybody else went.  So I had a few to overhaul on the way out, and to keep in front of on the way back.

on the way back courtesy of Dave Woodhead
on the way back
courtesy of Dave Woodhead

And one to take on the final descent.  Very dry underfoot tonight; but the weather is due to change over the weekend, with a cold front coming in, bringing some rain.

An out and back route like this means you watch the front runners on their way back.  This gives a bit of impetus to keep moving.  Actually, there were three bicycles in this race, and the very first was a bicycle; the first lady was in fourth position, and the second bicycle was 7th.  The third bicycle was way back.

Wikipedia says – Ilkley Moor is part of Rombalds Moor, rising to a height of 402 m. The rock is millstone grit, which gives character to the town of Ilkley and gives the area its acid soils, heather moors, soft water and rocky scars.

Ilkley Quarry is the site of the famous “Cow and Calf”, a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder.  According to legend, the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing from his wife, and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley.

Swastika Stone

A photograph of the swastika stone alongside its replica carving and the view it overlooks from Woodhouse Crag. The image at the bottom-right of the picture is a 20th-century replica; the original carving can be seen at the bottom-left.  There are a great number of other carved stones on the moor.
This was a BOFRA race.  I’ve never done a BOFRA race before.  The British open fell running association; it was the professionals’ race organisation, as opposed to the amateur FRA.  And it is much older than the FRA.  The distinction was absolutely vital; many young athletes found themselves barred from amateur sport for life, having, for example, accepted a small cash prize for winning a race.  Happily the authorities finally saw sense around 40 years ago and these distinctions have been swept away entirely.
courtesy of Dave Woodhead
courtesy of Dave Woodhead
Running back into the bright red sunset was a joy.
80.52, which I was quite happy with.
Only 52 to do now.


Diane Modahl 5k trail race

Diane is a Commonwealth champion at 800 m distance, and has been first in the  European cup.  Still competing, her main emphasis these days is encouraging young people with the use of sport.  She comes to this race each year, and competed last year.  Beat me by a mile.

Anyway, all this racing seems to be having good effects.  Four weeks ago, I walked several times; tonight I ran the whole course.  And still felt OK at the end.  And was 1st v65.  As with all Andy O races, I came away with something – a bar of chocolate and a box of chocolates.

As I write, I realise that there are not a lot of comments -might mean there’s not a lot of readers either.  Ah well.  No doubt there’s quality even in the absence of quantity.

Back to Cowm reservoir next week.

Done 17 now.

Overgate Hospice 10 k

This was a nice race.  Steady climb up to 4 1/2 km, then drop back down.  Pleasant route taking us right out on the north side of Halifax.  A good cause, and not a ridiculous price (for a road race.  They’re far more expensive than  fell races).

Smaller numbers than I had expected – around 250.  Felt like less than that.    Pleasant morning.  Not too much razzamatazz before we started – and straight off up the road and away.  Quite a few going past me, managing to take a few;  only walked a couple of short stretches.  And comfortable on the run back down.  A bottle of water, a couple of chocolate bars, a goody bag, and only 200 m to the car to come home again.  And all before lunch.

I was concerned about my time; but the slow kilometers going up were made up for on the run back.  So not too bad a time overall.

Interesting how getting race results has changed.  Up to about 10 years ago, you wrote your name & address on an envelope, slipped in some money, and about a week later, if you were lucky, the postman brought you the race results.  These days, you go online, sometimes as soon as you get home if it’s a fair distance from the race, and the results pop up in front of you.  Often in sortable form, so you can see all your club members, or all those the same age category as you.  The excitement – and frustration – of waiting for the postman has gone.  Replaced by the excitement and frustration of waiting for the computer.

So here’s a picture of a wetter day and a wetter spot, a year ago

Midgley Moor 2014 courtesy of Dave & Eileen Woodhead
Midgley Moor 2014
courtesy of Dave & Eileen Woodhead

54 to go.  That’s 9 x 6; only a few weeks ago it was 10 x 7.


Mike McGee memorial Cowm Res 5 k 15th April

Well, the number was up last week compared to the week before, and they were up again today.  I hoped that might mean I could take more than just 2 whilst going round the reservoir.

A pleasant evening.  I wondered about just a vest, but I think the short sleeved top decision was fine.  For some reason I’d taken my fell shoes and not my road shoes, but that seemed fine in the event.  Warming up – I was running like a sack of potatoes.  But after a bit more effort things loosened up and I managed OK.

So – off again.  People streaming past me as we climbed the initial short hill.  Then it levelled out for the reservoir and we were all going at a steady pace; and on the first lap, slowly, very slowly, I did haul in a couple of runners.  But that was it.  Try as I might, on the second lap, the distance to the runner in front was lengthening if anything.  And I was sure I could hear the lady I’d overtaken hot on my heels.  I really dug in for the descent to the finish line, got there, looked behind, and there was nobody there.  She was a long way back.  No idea what I’d been hearing.   4 seconds slower than last week.  Was it the shoes? or the sack of potatoes?

A packet of toffees and a pair of socks this week.

55 to go.


Countryside and wind yesterday; mainly urban, and wind, today.  But while the wind was just as fierce, it was much more manageable at the lower altitude – even fairly pleasant where we were running with the wind.  And having said urban – we did go past a swan sitting on her nest.  I understand all swans in the UK to belong to HM the Queen.  Not sure if she’s visited this one.

Just to show yesterday’s wind –

Windy Wardle courtesy of Zain Zia
Windy Wardle
courtesy of Zain Zia

Today was a 10 km trail race at Radcliffe.  Unlike Guiseley one week earlier, this race was suitable for road shoes.  Only a few soft or wet spots.  Oh – and there were 92 m of climb.  I was fairly satisfied with my run.  Difficult to gauge when there’s nobody there that you know, so nobody to match yourself against.  But I felt fairly strong, and I felt fairly comfortable running.  And I managed to pick up a few places towards the end, which always feels good.

Though one lady did go past me with perhaps 600 m to go, and I absolutely could not get her back.

Anyway, that’s 1 in  5 races done.  Only 56 to do.

Meantime, Ranulph Fiennes is doing the Marathon des Sables.  Puts things in a bit of perspective.

Wardle Skyline fell race

I’m very lucky to live in an area with lots of fine countryside, and with lots of individuals willing to give up their time organising races through that countryside.  And, once again, the cakes were really good.

At 11.3 km and with 381 m of climb, the Wardle Skyline ranks with plenty of other fell races in regards to how challenging it is.  Today, after a week’s fine, dry weather, the ground was almost entirely dry and hard, only scattered bits of bog and water, generally easy to avoid.  But what this race did have, was wind.

Wind generally is OK.  It’s pleasant to have a bit of a breeze, especially on a warm day, just as it can be pleasant to have a bit of drizzle.  And obviously, when the wind is with you it can be very cheering.  But somehow today was not like that.

This wind was rarely with us.  And I found it so powerful, whether coming from one side, or the other side, and especially when – as it often seemed to be – it was coming straight ahead, that it sapped my energy and made running, and even walking, hard.  But when coming from behind I still found it unpleasant, being so powerful that it did not supply the usual pleasant push whilst running, but instead a fierce buffeting that sapped my energy.

Wardle Skyline
Wardle Skyline

Up a cobbled road, a short stretch of tarmac, then a grassy climb, then level running for a while and one steep lung busting climb, after which it was the usual up and down helter skelter of broken stone, rough ground, eroded mountain bike channels and the like, with a short stretch along a muddy, but dry, quarry road.  Finally, down a cobbled stretch, along a track past a very newly built house, a little more climbing, and a sharp downhill before the final short climb to the finish.  Well marshalled and smoothly organised by Rochdale Harriers.

11 km is around 7 miles; I’d thought 12 minute miles for a fell race, so was looking to beat 84 minutes; despite a poor run, I came in at 78.30, so that was a real boost.  And the cakes definitely made up for the wind.

57 to do.

Joe Salt memorial Cowm reservoir race 8th April

Cowm Reservoir, constructed 1877 to provide a water supply, now used for water skiing, and especially for the British Disabled Water Skiers Association.

Another Andy O’Sullivan race.  Same as last week – but a warmer evening, after another really fine day, no wind, no rain.

84 runners; all the 12 year olds were well ahead of me, just like last night; one V65 ahead, one V70 behind; pushing hard, I overtook a couple of runners going round the reservoir, but that’s all I could manage.  Fairly satisfied, this being the fourth race on consecutive days.

Next race – Wardle Skyline on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a pic from last night’s Bunny Run 2.

Bunny Run 2 2015 courtesy of Jez Nelson
Bunny Run 2 2015 courtesy of Jez Nelson

Oh – and I did not get a Mars Bar tonight; a milk chocolate bar instead.  And also a pink long sleeved technical top, proudly sporting the logo – ‘Wilmslow Half Marathon 2013’.  Andy had quite a few of these to give away.  How come?  Race  organisers from all around send Andy surplus goodies such as this.  I think he must have a garage stacked high and overflowing.  You never know what you might get.


Bunny Run 2

The mid week races are really coming on stream now.  Yesterday was a bank holiday, so a Monday race was a bonus; tomorrow another Andy O’Sullivan race; tonight was a Bunny Run,and I haven’t done one of those for years.  They’re always on Tuesdays, and I joined the Search and Rescue Team a few years ago; Team nights are Tuesdays, for training and the like, and that has taken precedence.  Bunny Runs are organised by the legendary Dave Woodhead, with cheap entry and prizes galore.  Tonight’s was £2.  And everybody got a chocolate cream egg.  I didn’t go back to the pub afterwards, but anybody who did will have got chocolate.

Based in Howarth, the home of the Bronte sisters, Dave’s races get you out above the town. Most get on to wild moorland, the Bunny Runs, short and held in the evening, are nearer town, but tough for all that.  A genuine, short, fell race.

Last week, for Bunny Run 1, the weather was truly atrocious,

Last week's race. Courtesy of David Brett
Last week’s race.
Courtesy of David Brett

so I’m quite pleased really that I did not get there.  Nonetheless there were 200 runners.  Tonight there were considerably more.  It had been really warm all day, a bit colder by the start time of 19.15, and the sun was directly ahead on lots of the flat bits, so quite difficult to run as you could not see the ground.  First loop had a long steady climb on which I struggled; second, longer, loop a harder shorter climb, so others were struggling as well, then a steep descent/ascent through a quarry; third loop the harder climb again.  Obviously all the 10 and 12 year olds were way ahead of me, most of them in fancy dress.  Glorious evening, exhilarating running, and home at dusk.  Marvellous.

Only 59 to do now.