Black Combe – first 2016 English Championship Race

Black Combe seen over the Duddon Estuary
Black Combe seen over the Duddon Estuary

It was a near thing.  We were to play (and beat) Chelsea in the FA Cup that evening.  And I wanted to race in the south west Lake District at 12.00.  Could I do both?

Possibly.  But we’re also lambing, so the sheep need checking.  So I saw the 2nd half (the better half as it turned out) courtesy of the BBC, after I got home & had checked the sheep.  Who were, very contentedly, doing nothing of any importance.

13  km, 1000 m climb.  I was apprehensive; I’d found Flower Scar hard this time, and this was an extra 25% in length and nearly 50% in climb.  We set out from home in sunshine; but the clag was down at Silecroft, and even the top of the first climb was not visible.  And my navigation could be better.

750 had entered – monstrous for a fell race.  Happily a lot did not come.  To thin things out, the women were set off 10 minutes before the men.  Even so, there was a field gate to exit the start field, then, after the road, another gate; and some narrow track with sticky mud; the start was a bit of a crush.

My time was well down on 2002 and 2008 when I previously did this race; but I’m pleased nonetheless.  I followed nobody the wrong way; the one navigational error I did make was all down to me, and I corrected it well; and I was pretty consistent in my position at each check point.

In all this I was very unlike shed loads of elite and good runners; some of them  came past me in a big group well into the race; they had made these classic mistakes; follow other runners; don’t use your compass; don’t look at your map; and it shows.

When a runner is 4th or so at the 1st checkpoint, and the 2nd, and the third; then 334th at the 4th checkpoint, you can tell they have messed up big time.  So I enjoyed reading the split times when they were posted, and amusing myself about some of them.  Maybe they should go home when they see the clag is down, and stick to running only in good visibility.

So all credit to Ben Mounsey, for another fine victory; and thanks to Black Combe runners for a really well organised event.

And I got some points.

And my time was about 25% longer than at Flower Scar.

Tod Harriers Score Event

We were taken a little further afield this year, and perhaps just out of our comfort zone.  Down the valley so we were almost running into Halifax.  A lovely day – it had frozen overnight & there was a very thin scattering of snow in parts, so we had blue sky and sunshine.

Really well supported, which is good; a good number of guest runners, largely from Calder Valley Fell Runners, our rivals from down the valley.  Not sure why we chose an area that they know well.  Anyway, it was a Tod Harrier who won – convincingly.

As far as I was concerned, all went well until what turned out to be my last checkpoint, when I went slightly off course, failed entirely to bother to check either my compass or my map, and duly paid for it.

Finally I did get the check point; it was worth 30 points, so quite a premium, but whereas I had expected to get one or two ten pointers after it, on the run in, I got neither.  Ah well.  Seem just to have got back in time for no penalties.

So that’s my last pre 70 event.  We had a nice family afternoon the previous day in celebration and the actual day is now only 60 hours away.