I was jostling a bit with the runners around me to try and find an easier path up the grassy incline. Head down, working hard, I suddenly I heard Eric cry out ‘Good start, Simon.’ What he didn’t know was that although barely a minute of the race had elapsed, I was already heading into the red!
I’d decided to do the Great Whernside fell race on a bit of whim. Having read a few fell running books over the years (‘Feet In The Clouds’ and ‘Mud, Sweat and Tears’ being two of the best) I’d long fancied having a crack at a race and doing the 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross piqued my interest even further. So, I joined the FRA (Fell Runners Association), received the handbook on Thursday and saw there was a race in Kettlewell at the weekend. It was rated category A, the hardest, but it was only 4-miles so how hard could it really be!?!
The answer to that question came as soon as I saw the start. There was no preamble, no easy run in, instead the start line had just been positioned at the very foot of the climb. And that climb was steep!
Up the hill and into the red zone! (© Charlotte Hines)
Thankfully after about a kilometre the gradient eased, I recovered a little bit and began to get into some sort of a rhythm. It wasn’t quick and it surely wasn’t pretty, but it was sustainable…mostly! The hillside then kicked up sharply again through some rocks, after which there was a long boggy false flat and then some steps that lead to the final grassy push to the summit. I’d just begun that last leg up when James Warburton came flying past me on his way back down. Different class.
The descent simply reversed the route up and it was fast, though not as rapid as some of the hardened fell runners around me. While I had to pick my way down the steeper sections, they just bounded down like gazelles. It’s impressive too see how quickly it’s possible to descend with the right technique.
Happy to have finished without mishap, I met up with James and Charlotte and not long afterwards Sue came barrelling past us down the fellside. A seriously impressive run.
For such a short distance this race was tough, but it was also a lot of fun. If you fancy a change running on the road, there are several good reasons to enter a fell race; there’s something old-school and pure about it, the atmosphere is friendly, the terrain is varied and the scenery is stunning. Perhaps more importantly though, the post run endorphin high is definitely a category A!
James, Sue and I enjoying the post race high (© Charlotte Hines)
James Warburton, 16th, 35:33
Simon Shaw, 62nd, 43:35
Sue Morley, 150th /17th Lady, 56:05