This is one of several fell races which go onto Pendle Hill.  I’ve done quite a few of them; never done this one before; it covered territory I’m pretty sure I’ve never been on previously.  Didn’t see any witches.

5 miles, 1500 ft.  That’s 8 km and 457 m of climbing.  A friend warned me – ‘this is a tough one’.  Maybe I was psyched up as a result, but I was happy with how I got round, and felt it was not all that tough after all.

Once round a field, out along the road through the village, a steady climb up a nice grassy field (when I got home, I found my son had won this race some years ago; he remembered this as a grassy track.  Maybe it’s grown over in the meantime); a steep descent through some bracken and a steep climb out of the gully; by the time I got there, the bracken had been trampled by the runners.  Many of the stems lay parallel, in the direction we were going.  Certainly quite slippy given the muddy conditions.  All adds to the fun.

Then a long steady climb to the first high point.  This was great for me as everybody was walking so I could overtake.  I got past a fair few.  Then a steep drop to a stream; one got past me; I did the last bit on my bottom (deliberately; quicker that way).  Made that place up on the very steep climb up to the turnaround point, but no more; then 2 got past me on the steep descent, and 2 more on the run in down the moor and the field.

A lovely day; a 30 second shower just after the steep drop to the stream and a slightly longer one on the run in.  A bit of a breeze while climbing – very pleasant.  I thought I proceeded OK all in all.  And cakes!  Really nice cakes, and still some available when I got back.  Meanwhile my wife & my daughter had fun at the local pony club, going over jumps and enjoying themselves.  Fell race £3.50, pony club £5; can’t beat it.

So here’s another pic from our Lakes holiday.

view of Windermere - obscured by day trippers c/o Jacques du Parquet
view of Windermere – obscured by day trippers
c/o Jacques du Parquet

Harrock Hill

Different to last night – this was certainly a very popular race.  Over 200 runners.  And one can see why; a nice trot out in the countryside, not too strenuous, never too far from civilisation.

At the start line, I enquired about the route.  ‘I’ve done it a few times, can’t really remember, it’s field, after field, after field’ came the answer.  And so it proved.  I don’t recall much detail either; lots of fields, lots of stiles, too much tarmac, some bits through trees, which was fairly dark.  No hard climbs, no steep descents.  More of a trail race, I would say.

This was the Harrock Hill race, 8.4 km, 275 m of climb, from the Farmer’s Arms at Bispham Green.  farmers copyThat’s near Ormskirk.  Not particularly fell country.  I went for a job at Ormskirk 30 years ago; the area was flat then and it still is now.  Memories of this race include firstly that the Farmers Arms doesn’t seem to be in Bispham Green.  It’s about a mile away; happily the locals are very helpful.  According to Wikipedia, the highest point in Bispham Green is 80 m above sea level.  The Farmers Arms advertises fine dining – including vegetarian and vegan menus.

The stiles were not a problem as we were well strung out; the one queue I did meet, which I assumed, wrongly, was for the first stile, actually formed because the narrow footpath we were to go along had nettles on each side – shoulder high nettles.  People seemed disinclined to run through.  Otherwise there was the stile we approached across a very muddy patch, with a marshall holding back a herd of inquisitive cows; the experience, again, like at the Badger race, of going from sunshine into darkness under the trees and being faced with an immediate drop into a stream; the water jump, situated in a fairly dark spot under trees; and the usual exposed roots and stones one gets in  woodland.  I wasn’t sure which bit was Harrock Hill.  Ended up 180th of 202 runners – happy with that.

57 done.


Lions 5k – 80%

56 races done, 14 to go; that’s only 20% left.  Doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was celebrating completing the first 20%.  That was a 10 km trail race in Radcliffe back in April.  Tonight’s race involved venturing out once again to Littleborough, to complete a low key 5 km road race.  A well tried circuit, out along the main road, left at the lights and down the hill, then under the railway as you start climbing, by means of a pedestrian underpass with a lot of steps to climb, on to Hollingworth Lake, then a gentle downhill to the finish, which comes after you’ve gone through the pedestrian underpass at Littleborough station.  You’ve seen a photo.

41 runners.  The pack fairly quickly left me behind.  Then overtaken by Pete from Rossendale, whom I have managed to beat – first time ever – in a couple of races earlier this year.  Got past a Wharfedale runner who was accompanying her young daughter; overtaken by another chap.  Got him on the first downhill; got Pete just after the underpass; then the same chap came past.  Got past a Man City supporter who seemed to be having some problem with his hamstrings on the right.  Couldn’t catch the other chap.  That’s how it stayed to the end.  27th finisher – fairly good, and my time not totally disappointing at 27.17.

Turns out the Man City supporter isn’t a runner – he was just supporting his young daughter.  Who beat him by 90 seconds (and me by over a minute).  I don’t usually express sympathy for Man City supporters.

Good value; £4; and I came away with a little certificate, a printed copy of the race results, and a survival tent which I was awarded as a spot prize.  Not sure how the Lions will have made any money to donate to their charity.

And I avoided spending anything as the venue was in the Con club.  Don’t usually go in Con clubs.

Probably doing a fell race tomorrow.

Again short of photos.  So here’s one of me dressed up during our big family celebration in the Lakes last month.

courtesy of Ingo Guenther
courtesy of Ingo Guenther

Clearly there’s something good to watch.

Not Burnsall

Nope.  Not Burnsall.  More’s the pity.  However circumstances conspired & all that.  So instead of a very short, very steep fell race on Saturday, here I am venturing into the centre of Rochdale early Sunday morning for an essentially flat road race.  Choice of a one mile fun run, a 10 k, or a half marathon.  We’re off to the footie this afternoon, so the half marathon is just a bridge too far, so it’s the 10 k.

Again organised by John Lloyd – and what a contrast to the 3 day event! Razzamatazz, bunting, a public address system, trade stalls, the centre of Rochdale closed to traffic, the Mayor lined up to start the races; I trust next year there’ll be  an oompah oompah band.

And a good number of runners; 103 finished the fun run, 368 the 10 k and 508 the half marathon.

Nice to run where there is absolutely no traffic.  That’s part of what makes fell running so special.  On this day, with such big numbers, once again the first half mile is frustrating, weaving in and out of slower competitors who stood nearer the start line than me.  Then finally off and away and I’m quite pleased with my run, gradually hauling in runners, running all the little hills, very occasional runners getting past.  It was hot enough – even with a 09.08 start – for me to be looking for shade wherever I could find it.  Finally I was 151st and second v65.  But it wasn’t Burnsall and I would have liked to be a bit faster.

Only 15 left to do.

Golf Ball

We passed it on the race apparently – but visibility wasn’t that good, I didn’t know what to look out for, and this is the 2nd time I’ve done the race and the 2nd time I’ve not seen it.  Something to do with communications or weather or something like that.

My 3rd Rossendale mid week race.   8.8 km and 244 m climb.  Wet wet wet all day, not excepting getting there and walking to the bowling club to register; then dry throughout the race apart from a bit of drizzle.  From above that is.

A pleasant race in many ways – up, traverse, back down again.  Maybe it was the weather; it felt like we were feeling our way in the dark as we circled the spoil heaps of the disused quarry and with the wet I’m always apprehensive of a slip.  Never happened yet, mind.  But that does slow you down.  Especially when you are going down.  Over loose bits of rock.  And mudslides.

So probably not my best race of the year.  Anyway, it’s 54 done.  And I was 3rd V65 in the Rossendale mid week series.  Possibly you can work out how many V65s completed the series.  I’m planning on Burnsall on Saturday.   The Burnsall Classic – 2.4 km 274 m of climb and a five foot (1.5 m) stone wall to come over on the way back down.  Only done it once.

c/o Ingo Guenther
c/o Ingo Guenther

A paucity of recent running pictures so this will have to do.  As you can see, I’m on a cruise ship on Lake Windermere

Sheep fell over – fell race

Predictably my favourite race of the 3.  Hot hot hot when we set out; then it clouded over & cooled down just when we finished.  A straight up and down.  I wasn’t the only one suffering on the way up; managed to get past 4, expected 3 of them to get me on the way down, but only 2 did.  5 km, 193 m of climb.  No descent on the way out, no climb on the way back.  A good number of spectators and some encouragement from them.

So for the 3 day event as a whole – there was a v65 who had come down from Scotland to visit relatives.  Hasn’t been running all that long – used to play football.  Only a year younger than me.  So that was it; he was well ahead of me in each race.  If they’d opted for independence he might not have got over the border.

Just perusing our Club championship; I consistently score higher on road races than on fell races in our Grand Prix.  It’s handicapped by age and gender – my suspicion is that it’s down to the handicapping.  Or am I just kidding myself? Perhaps I should be pounding out the repetitive miles on the tarmac.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be enjoying the interest of uneven terrain of grass, rocks, mud and so forth, nor taking in the scenery, smells and all the rest.  Maybe not.

17 to do – and I’ve done more than 75%.

Watergrove Trail

2nd of the 3 weekend events.  More to my liking than the road race.  4.55 miles (7.3 km) and  411 feet (123 m) climb.  A narrow path with some climb, an undulating track, a climb up a track, tarmac along the bottom of a reservoir dam, a circuit of half the reservoir, a track to climb then some flat track then finally a drop down a steep cobbled road back to the finish.

I’ll blame the road race for my problems with the climbs; I did manage to get past a couple on the climb after the reservoir, but one of them came past me on the drop.  There was a young lad just in front who was running at a very variable pace, so that I thought I could catch him, then it was clear I couldn’t; finally I got past him just as we turned into the finish field.  Not sure why – he seemed distracted by his smartphone.  My main rival, a Tod Harrier, turned out to be one second behind me.  Never realised he was there .

That’s 52.  It’s the (short) fell race tomorrow.

Cannonball 3 day event

John Lloyd – ‘Cannonball’ – is becoming a prolific local race organiser.  And his races are well organised.  My one gripe this evening is that he started us off rather late.

The Shore road race near Littleborough is a 7 km road race with a reasonable amount of climbing.  And it’s in this year’s Tod Harriers championship.  Fewer runners than I had expected; good thing Tod was there as we contributed almost 50% of the runners.  It had rained excessively today; one report mentioned ‘half a month’s worth’ of rain  falling today.  And the rain continued on the way to the race.  But not a drop while we ran.

I’m happier with off road running, but I did need this one for the club road championship.  And it makes 51 – only another 19 to do.  Roll on tomorrow and the trail race.

Pilgrims Cross.

My second Rossendale mid week race; and last week’s was more to my taste.  This was a faster race – longer, 9.7 km – and less climbing – 336 m.  So last week was more exhilarating.   But tonight was certainly popular – 202 runners finished.

Never done this race before, even though it’s relatively close to home, and it goes over territory I don’t really know.  But in fact it turned out to cover much of the same ground as the Bull Hill fell race, though in a very different order; Pilgrims Cross comes up from the north, Bull Hill from the south.  So it did feel quite familiar.

It had been a very hot day, and it was still hot this evening; there was also a period of running directly into the sunset.  Happily that was on the flat over the moor on a fairly good grassy path.  I got past 2 or 3 in that stretch.  After a bit of boxing and coxing I ended up in the same position coming off the moor as when I entered it; then I blotted my copy book when, rather than catching the Rossendale lady I’d been following, 2 others got past me in the last 300 m.  Ah well.  8th of 9 V65s.

Feels like a milestone; I’ve done 50 races.  In less than 6 months.  They have, of course, been the summer months when there are more races; it would be very hard to get the same number in 6 winter months.

Boulsworth Fell

There are two races which take you to the top of Boulsworth; I prefer the other one, with a much pleasanter run out and back.  But this one goes from the excellent Trawden Agricultural Show.  And at £5 for the show and the race, one really cannot complain.

If you read my post about Weets, you may recall that Boulsworth is the second of three hills in the area (Pendle is the other).  A plateau on the top, peat and fairly wet, but merely soft today.  This race does not go right to the top where there is a trig point; concerns about erosion perhaps.

A flattish run out, with a bit of a rise, and I’m finding such climbs difficult these days; then a steep climb to the top.  On the steep climb I managed to get past one lady and I closed on the group in front, but then as I gingerly negotiated the steep downhill she shot past while the group in front had long disappeared into the distance.  Anyway I stayed in front of three other runners who had each beaten me earlier in the week.  A minor triumph, of sorts.

quite a few behind courtesy of Eileen Woodhead
quite a few behind
courtesy of Eileen Woodhead

49 done – or 70%.  21 to go.