Last at last

Major life event.  It was bound to happen.  At least it was an English championship fell race.  And I was only last by 7 seconds.  Another of life’s hurdles crossed.

But before that – I did the ‘Sale Sizzler’.  Not a cheap sausage.  Sale is the home of the famous Sale Harriers and, as one would expect, this is a very well organised event; it was described to me as ‘pancake flat’ so you may well ask why I was there; someone put it in the club championship.  And, for a road race, it was a surprisingly enjoyable event, generally well away from traffic, marshalled by enthusiasts and generally a good event.  My time of course was appalling by comparison with the fast lads at the front, wanting a PB on a flat course, and my club championship points equally so – but there you go.

Just spelt it eqwally – doesn’t look that bad to me.

I went by tram.  Very smooth journey, except that, arriving at the destination tram stop there was no indication of which way to go.  Kindness of strangers, and all that.  All very ecological – and much pleasanter than getting round the M60 at rush hour.

So – forward, past a pleasant pack run on the fells, where we found that one of the area’s many conduits, huge stone channels taking water to one of the many reservoirs, had slipped down a hillside in the recent floods; path officially closed, but we did manage; and on to my final English Championship race of the year, Pendle 3 Peaks.

There are a lot of fell races on Pendle; this is an A medium, 16km, 870m of climb and as the title implies there are three ascents on the route.  A bit wet, but what I found debilitating was the wind, which was pretty constant.  No particular navigational problems, though that might have been different if the clag had been right down; and I was doing fine for the first 2 hours.  Predictably, my legs started to give way.

The women had been started 15 minutes ahead of the men; I was boxing and coxing with about a half dozen men bringing up the rear of the race, never actually at the back of these; then, just starting the final steep climb, I overtook a woman.  I deduced, therefore, correctly that I was now 15 minutes ahead of at least one other competitor.

It is really steep when you're going up it
It is really steep when you’re going up it

I got a couple of the men on the climb, and got to the trig point; but, from there on in, I walked.  And for the latter part I walked with the sweeper.  So the men ran past; and so did the woman; and however hard I tried, I did lose 15 minutes to her between the trig point and the finish.  Her time was 3.02.34; mine 3.02.41.  If I’d known . . . .

The sweeper told me that he had been with a very slow runner; he’d estimated the runner might do 5 hours or so; but one of his shoes fell apart and he dropped out.  So the sweeper came forward, found our group, and ended up walking back with me.

Anyway, as far as the English Championship goes, being last does not debar you from points; and I’ve ended up 5th V70.  Pleased with that.  Also, to my amazement, I am at present 13th V65!  This may change as there is another long race to come, not included in the V70 scores; but one or other V65 may get points in the final race and end up ahead of me.