Holme Moss Fell Race, Cartworth Moor, nr Holmfirth, Sunday, July 22, 2018

AL / 17.7miles / 4134 ft

Paul Evans

I’d not planned to race Holme Moss, having trained with an eye on Wasdale, the week before. However, having being unable to get transport over to the Lakes and ‘chomping at the bit’ for a chance to race again, I scanned the FRA calendar for anything marked ‘AL’ that could feasibly be reached by public transport. This SW Yorks classic ticked all the boxes. The early Sunday train to Manchester dropping me at Huddersfield and a directionally-challenged taxi driver (we had to dismantle then replace a Yorkshire Water barrier due to route choice), running me the last few miles to Cartworth Moor Cricket Club, which sat sun-baked above Holmfirth. It was clear that it was going to be warm and little of the mandatory kit was likely to be needed. Sun-cream and Vaseline were of more use in the conditions. It was also apparent that there was a fair amount of talent from the Yorkshire clubs, with the sharp end of the field assembled on the farm track for the start looking distinctly lean and focused.

The first mile was exactly what you’d expect when the race begins on a hard, straight track, falling initially then rising steadily towards a road, with a hard pace being set by the frontrunners and everyone else hanging on, slowly falling away, in the white dust kicked up by their heels. As is all too often the case for someone who likes a steady start but is aware that after a short time, paths will narrow and overtaking become more difficult, this felt unpleasantly quick all the way along the track, over 100m of road (CP1) and then upwards onto the moor. It was also worrying that in a race of 17 miles, it appeared that little of the 4000′ ascent had taken place in the first mile and would not take place in the last, leaving less distance to squeeze all that climbing into; the reason became apparent as we crested the moor and dropped hard and fast down a dry path cut through the heather to Riding Wood reservoir.

I was conscious that overtaking was impossible here, so needed not to annoy the runners behind by my usual cautious descending, and was therefore relieved that conditions were dry and I reached the metal bridge over the stream feeding the reservoir intact and un-bruised. From here, things steadied a little, and the next two miles were a steady climb up to Holme Moss summit, traversing on fairly good paths the flank of Twizzle Head Moss, ascending at a gradient that increased slowly but permitted running until the final 300m before hitting the road, and the 4-mile point.

We were greeted with cowbells and a blanket of low cloud; less welcome for me was the realisation that on hard ground my shoe choice had been poor, both heels having just enough room to achieve lateral movement sufficient to start stripping the skin from them. I felt I was running well, and estimated I was around 30th, but also knew that every mile from here on out was going to hurt.

Had my feet been in good nick, the fun would truly have begun here, as the meat of the race is in this middle segment, with a rapid descent through tussocks to Heyden Brook, a sharp climb then gradual rise to Westend Moss, mostly on peat that was firm but with just enough spring in it to be fun, then a long descent to Crowden (CP3), the only cut-off at 7.5 miles. Writing this report nearly three months later I cannot really recall how this felt, as the human mind is notoriously bad at recollection of pain, but objectively I lost at least half a dozen places and had a good think about ‘Doffing’, in order to JUST MAKE IT STOP.

Looking back, knowing that I made the cut-off by only 15 minutes whilst still in the top third of the field, it strikes me that this is a race not generous with its timings. Anyway, had I been sensible, the report would end here except for maybe a sentence or two of regret for the wise decision to spare my feet, which by now had blistered, burst and were working on deeper blisters. I didn’t, so on we go – to the farm track that crossed Crowden Little Brook then hand-railed Crowden Great Brook, then to the long haul up Bareholme Moss, ascending back into the clouds (and picking off a few runners also), to CP4 and the inevitable comment of ‘got your number, 118,’ (accompanied by salacious wink) from a Holmfirth Harriers’ marshal; she gave me a jelly baby also, so this was tolerated a lot better than when the same words escape the mouths of a posse of chavs in a Micra on the A167.

From here it was straight back down again through pathless heather, splashing in Crowden Great Brook and stopping to take the waters, then up the other side through rocks and bracken that obscured all vision. It was here that I made my first and only nav. error of the day, staying too far north to pick up the path that led out of the bracken to the base of Laddow Rocks; with visibility of about 0.5 metres in all direction, the compass had to come out to point me through the ‘forest’ and into the light (I shall worry about the carcinogen exposure another day). The rocks were a three-points-of-contact affair, though dry sandstone is as good a surface as one could get for this, with water waiting at the top courtesy of marshals and a quad bike (CP5). This last mile had taken nearly 20 minutes.

Interestingly, memory tells me the next 4 miles (to Black Hill, CP6, and then down to Holme Moss) were fairly easy running along the Pennine Way then a good, twisting track over more firm peat, and it appears that I averaged 9.30min/mile for this chunk of the race, though the map tells me I climbed around 500′ to reach Black Hill, then descended off it again back to the road. I also know that by now my feet were feeling pretty dreadful, but that I’d broken the back of the race and others were definitely flagging even faster than I, so pushed as hard as I could and regained further places.

Road crossed again (at around 13.5m), the next four miles were a re-tracing of the first four, the traverse down Twizzle Head being pretty dreadful on the feet but offering tantalising glimpses of the reservoirs and conifer plantations near the start.

Finally I hit the metal bridge again and set off uphill, determined to run for as long as possible and to overhaul at least a couple of the line of runners strung out up the last hill – the GPS at one point seemed to think I’d stopped moving, but I made up two places when others stopped to gasp in air, and then another two on very wobbly legs on the shooting track back down to the road.

The last 0.9 miles, deathly dull, back along the roasting, dusty farm track, were hard work but also somehow the fastest of the day at 7.17 min/mile pace, gaining me another three places and seeing me finish in 26th place of 126 starters (my 3:18 finish some way behind winner Karl Gray’s 2:33). In other words, all the hard work of the last 8 miles had brought me back to where I’d been at the 4-mile point; such is the glorious futility of fell-running, and tea rarely tastes as good as when provided in vast volumes whilst watching other runners struggling up the finishing field, all various shades of lobster.

In summary: good race, hard but not too technical, bad shoe choice (my flayed heels made walking rather sore for the next week), rather glad I did it even if not originally planned; I’m also rather taken by the fact that entry, 2x advance rail tickets bought the week before and taxi there/bus back came to almost exactly this year’s GNR entry fee.

(Visited 43 times, 1 visits today)

Boundary 500 Classic, Yorkshire Dales, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

125 miles (power assisted)

Nigel Heppell

Tuesday turned out to be a good day.

Weather windy but warm for the time of year and traffic pleasantly light throughout the journey.

Illness removed one rider from the start line, wisely avoiding the perils of sneezing inside a full-face crash helmet, but numbers were maintained with the welcome addition of pillion Lynn.

Four bikes (800; 900; 1000; 1100cc, and 74years old in total), four riders, and one pillion(total age – don’t ask) set off from the Rose Tree Inn, Shincliffe at 10am and travelled down to Kirkleatham Hall, our chosen start and finish checkpoint on the Boundary 500 Classic Challenge circuit. Potential navigational issues for the day were flagged up when we struggled even to find the entrance to the café!

Having decided upon an anti-clockwise circuit our first checkpoint came after a long haul to the location halfway between Leyburn and Masham; unfortunately we added a 20 mile detour through Aysgarth before getting there. A short hop on to the second checkpoint at Masham with lunch at the brewery visitor’s centre.

Back across the Vale of Mowbray to Osmotherley and a delightful road up onto and across the moors towards Helmsley; enlivened by two Hercules transport planes flying up the valley on our right and overtaking us on the same level, if not lower!

Not much route choice from there onwards but we (ok, I) still managed to miss the turning for Rosedale Abbey out of Hutton-Le-Hole which meant we had to reverse our intended direction of travel through the last three checkpoints along the Esk valley. The consequence of this was yet more extra miles but with views of some stunningly illuminated moorland scenery as the sun lowered towards the horizon but eventually with the added hazard of driving straight into the sun as we turned onto the Whitby-Guisborough road to take us back to our start point.

Finish time – 1830 hours.
Stat’s;

checkpointdistance
Kirkleatham Hall, TS10 5NW 34 miles from Durham
Brymor Ice Cream Parlour, HG4 4PG 68
Masham, HG4 4EF 4
Osmotherley, DL6 3BN 21
Beadlam Grange Farm Shop, YO62 7TD 18
Hutton-le-Hole, YO62 6UA 7
Castleton Market Place, YO21 2EG 13
Danby Visitors Centre Car Park, YO21 2NB 3
Lealholm, YO21 2AJ 5
Kirkleatham Hall, TS10 5NW 22

Totals

  • 161miles for the Classic Challenge
  • 230miles return from Durham
  • 248miles Chester-le-St/Washington return

Many thanks to those taking a day out of the working week and all for a fine example of sustained careful and considerate riding.

(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)

Active Northumberland Kielder Half Marathon, Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kimberley Wilson

Four weeks prior to race date, I’d completed my first ever half at the Great North Run; it was definitely an experience. I can’t say an enjoyable one.

I’d signed up for Kielder half quite a bit in advance thinking it’d be good to do another half a few weeks after my first. I was told it’ll be tough, there are lots of hills and the terrain isn’t great.

The lead up to the race, I really wasn’t looking forward to it, my mojo had disappeared after GNR and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to run a good run.

I was running the full race with my other half, Robin Linton, as Kielder has some sentimental value to us both. We had no plan other than to just get around it.

The night before, I boldly said I wanted to beat my time, which Robin told me not to get too hung up on because the course is so much different.

We set off on our way at a nice steady pace, which I was sure I’d be able to keep all the way around. The first four miles were actually quite nice and they went by so quickly. In my head, I was thinking this is going to be okay. The tactic was to take a slow run up the hills, use the downhill for speed and normal running on the flats. It really seemed to be working. People that had passed me in the first few miles were now starting to get behind me but I still felt strong. The ups and downs continued and they were tough; mile 8 of the zigzag was definitely the hardest.

Around 8/9 miles, I remember taking an isotonic drink and thinking how tasty it was, at the same time I was wondering how I still felt so good and strong. I was really enjoying the race.

As we got to about mile 9/10, Robin’s knee really started to give him hassle. I was trying my best to take his mind off it, but he was in pain. We slowed down a little, but I had to keep moving because of the inclines. I was a couple of yards in front and could see the pain on his face, so I turned around and went back to him. He told me that I had to go on, that I had a PB in me and he’d be fine. I was a mixture of emotions, felt awful leaving him but was determined to finish the race. After a quick kiss of good luck, I headed off on my last 3 miles.

They were definitely hard but I just couldn’t stop thinking about Robin. Lots of music we both loved was playing through my headphones and I just thought, get this done and go back for him. I really pushed those last miles, this time attacking the hills, as I knew it was only 5k left.

I got to the 800m marker and people were walking. I stormed passed, with a few people shouting go on!

Approaching the finish line I saw a worried mother (Helen Linton). The first thing I shout is he’s okay! I had a sprint finish over the line and I see a friendly strider face…Wendy Littlewood. I just hugged her and burst into tears whilst struggling to get my breath. I’m telling her (between the tears) that I’d left Robin and felt awful. She then turns me round to show me the time, it’s showing as 2:11. I couldn’t really register it but what she’s telling me it’s amazing. I just hung onto her; I needed that so much. After finally letting her go, to let the other runners have some of her time, I stumbled to get my race bag, trying to keep the tears in.

I actually couldn’t believe I was over 2 minutes faster than GNR and this course was definitely different level. I actually really enjoyed this race and I think I’d 100% do it again with the same tactic!

(Visited 77 times, 1 visits today)

Hardmoors Princess Challenge, Ravenscar village hall, Saturday, September 1, 2018

31 miles 3000ft elevation

Jonathan Hamill

The Princess Challenge is simply a marvellous event, which raises much-needed funds for the Scarborough & Ryedale Mountain Rescue Team. It sees a range of distances offered – the Short n Sweet, the One in the Middle and for me, the Ultra. I ran this event in 2017 as part of my training for a longer event and followed a similar plan this year.

The summer had been warm, and although I had run plenty, it had been a blend of shorter distances. On holiday in France, I knew the Princess was indeed going to challenge me if I didn’t prepare adequately, so I started to step things up. Upon returning to the UK, and some two weeks out I did a long training run of 30km, having gradually worked my way up. Training was going well, and I felt confident.

To throw another couple of things into the mix, I had decided to buy some new shoes (Hoka Speedgoat 2) and christened them on a 6km trail run during the week running up to the Princess. I also had just taken delivery of a new watch (Garmin 935) and the evening before the race, I experimented with it walking a couple of km to and from the car park at Kynren.

I wouldn’t say I was that well-rested – apart from the late evening before the race at Kynren, I had also just returned from a mid-week work trip to Germany. On the morning of the event, I woke, got some porridge down and set off to the event nice and early (the rest of the house still in bed).

After parking up I entered the village hall and saw Carole helping with the registration – I must have looked a sight, and felt still half asleep. I submitted myself to the necessary kit check, fastened my number and settled my head, reflecting on the announcement of the day before, “…there will be cattle movements on part of the Ultra and Middle route! This will be at 10 am on part of the diverted route! If you get there after that you will be held by the marshal at Pittard Point until safe to proceed. It means you have to run the first miles…Sorry”.

Deliberations were suspended as we lined up, and Kathryn joined me, keen as ever for a selfie!

So, in contrast to my original plan that this was to be ‘just a training run’, I decided to set off a little more swiftly to ensure I didn’t encounter the cattle. I was definitely a bit further up the field than I should have been as I looped back to pass the Village Hall (start point) when I remembered I’d forgotten to put my gels in my vest – I had a 30 second argument with myself about whether I could make do, and then to the amusement of Kelly and the team, left the road, to dash into the hall, grab my gels and run back off down the road.

I soon caught up with runners from one of the other races that was underway and plenty of encouragement was exchanged along the first bit of the Cleveland Way, and then I was running solo for quite a while – without my wingman this year.

I think it was after CP3 I met a chap who I ran with for a while towards Whitby. He had a groin strain but was ok to continue. The temperature was getting up, and I remember running into Whitby which was in full swing with fish and chips, wasps and ice-cream (in no particular order).

I knew that 199 steps lay ahead up to the Abbey and also that they would hurt. I decided my treat would be an ice-cream at the top – motivation aplenty! I made short work of the ice-cream and pressed on along the cliff path to CP4 at which point, I thought I was hearing things when the marshal told me I was 5th – ‘from last’, I quipped but he set me straight. Now, I knew I’d been pushing on a bit early in the race, and I also knew it was now warm and the terrain was to get a bit more challenging on the return. At CP5 (was CP3 on the outbound) I paused for more water and some amazing dandelion and burdock drink.

The descent into Robin Hoods Bay total torture on the legs, I’m sure I looked a real sight to tourists seeing me thunder past, resplendent in my rather bright compression socks (and other clothing thankfully). No rest for the wicked and once at the bottom, the Cleveland Way beckoned again, past the aptly named Boggle Hole and Stoupe Beck with the many, many steps.

With the benefit of having run the route before, I pressed on and was passed by a couple of runners at some stage – most notably on the final ascent past the Alum Works to Ravenscar by a very capable lady who was no stranger to ultrarunning. I could not maintain her pace, but kept going, climbing past the National Trust Café and up to the Village Hall – I rounded the final corner to see Kathryn again who hastened me towards the finish.

The finish – it was confirmed I was 6th male, 9th overall with a time of 6:17:42 and a PB of over an hour! To say I was delighted was an understatement.

Thanks to the SRMRT, marshals and organisers who give up their time to run such an amazing event.

Relive link.
Strava

(Visited 34 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Druridge Bay, Sunday, October 7, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Ladies group photo by Lisa Evette Lumsdon

Ladies
posbibnamerace timepackcatactual time
11024Danielle Hodgkinson (Wallsend Harriers)23:49SFsen23:49
20370Natalie Bell31:01SFsen31:01
48336Fiona Brannan31:40FFsen26:35
52319Anna Basu31:48MFV4529:08
55372Nina Mason31:53SFV4031:53
96360Katy Walton32:51MFV3530:11
144384Stef Barlow33:53SFV4533:53
155359Kathryn Sygrove34:19SFV5034:19
177324Camilla Lauren-Maatta34:58SFV5034:58
217346Jan Young36:04SFV6536:04
228315Aileen Scott36:24SFV4536:24
2301131Carolyn Galula36:26SFV4536:26
293331Danielle Glassey39:28SFsen39:28
328316Alison Smith42:01SFV4042:01
Men

photo by Aileen Scott

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1362Luke Pickering (Durham City Harriers)34:02SMU2034:02
18491Phil Ray37:29SMV3537:29
92456James Garland39:43SMV4039:43
100468Mark Kearney39:57MMV3537:27
120453Graeme Watt40:21MMV4037:51
207507Stuart Scott41:32MMV3539:02
264455Jack Lee42:34MMsen40:04
275451Geoff Davis42:43SMV6042:43
363444David Lumsdon45:06SMV5045:06
3671597James Lee45:12MMV4042:42
370501Simon Dobson45:22SMV4545:22
383454Ian Butler45:43SMV5545:43
391442David Gibson45:57SMV5045:57
404469Mark Payne46:19SMV3546:19
436430Andrew Davies47:25SMV4047:25
498490Peter Mcgowan50:30SMV5550:30
505427Alan Scott51:05SMV5051:05
506509Tim Matthews51:11SMV5551:11
5141599Neil Garthwaite51:34SMV4551:34
518447Dougie Nisbet51:49SMV5551:49
534503Stephen Ellis53:14SMV6553:14
(Visited 86 times, 1 visits today)

Warsaw Marathon, Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kerry Anne Barnett

In my attempt to complete 50 marathons before I’m 50 and my aim to complete one international marathon a year, Rob and I headed off to Warsaw, Poland for the PZU Warsaw Marathon on 30th September. I’d never been to Poland before and don’t know any Polish which was a bit of a challenge with the plethora of pre-race emails! However, Google translate kept us right.

On our arrival on Friday, we headed to the expo to pick up our race pack, including t-shirts. My ladies medium was very small… I am not very small… so on Saturday Rob took mine back telling them they’d given him a ladies t-shirt instead of a mans… they swapped it so now I have a t-shirt that fits. But now he feels guilty about committing international fraud. Then we set our course on Apple maps to find the start of the marathon. It took us the long way, so we saw a lot of riverbanks and passed the Chopin Museum.

Maybe 2 days of walking around 13 miles a day around the beautiful and historic Warsaw City Centre, filling up on amazing vegan food, wasn’t the best marathon prep…. but hey-ho it’s a beautiful interesting city.

Race day came along. Our hotel was about 25 min walk to the race village, set up near to the Vistula riverbank. It was cold in the shade and warm in the sunshine, so we waited until the last minute to strip to our Club vests. Most people were in t-shirts and some were in long-sleeved full kit! We had been provided with a plastic bag, a sticker with our race number and an allocated minibus to put our bag on, very well organised.

Walking down to the start area, Rob headed off to the sub-4-hour area and I stayed at the 5 hours plus area. The weird thing at a reasonably small international marathon and being a typical ignorant Brit who can only speak English is not being able to communicate with the runners around you. However, a lovely lady started speaking to me and managed to have a conversation in English. Turns out she’s also vegan so that’s always a good connection. I have to say I was nervous about this marathon, despite it being number 31. No particular reason but I was just a bit nervous.

The starting gun went off and we started moving, took a few minutes to cross the start line, as I was far back in the field, but it was chip timed so that was irrelevant. Off we went with a beep as we crossed the timing mat. Jogging along, we were ‘lapped’ by the front-runners before I’d even run 500m. It’s always amazing to see how fast these guys are running.

The course was fairly twisty and turny and there seemed to be many times we saw the same places. We headed off into the Zoo, not my favourite part I admit, although it was flat and sunny. I did see a hippo, some zebras, some mules, deer and bison, but would prefer they weren’t in cages, but they are.

Highlights included a man who was juggling his way around the marathon, a fella in a suit of armour, the lovely green parks we went through, seeing a red squirrel scurry across my path, the beautiful architecture of Warsaw and spacious wide streets to run through. The fuelling stations were regular and well managed, mainly with young people of Warsaw. They were friendly and encouraging. Woda! ISO! Banana! One or two stations had run out of paper cups by the time I got there but there was still water.

At mile 10 I started to feel my right upper inner arm rubbing against my vest; this had never happened before. I hadn’t put any Vaseline in my belt so was contemplating what to do until mile 3 when I sacrificed my nose blowing buff to tie around my arm to stop the chafing. Worked a treat!

I stuck to my 4 min running 1 min walking strategy until about mile 22. By mile 16 I was consistently passing people who had committed the cardinal marathon sin of ‘going out too fast’ and who were now reduced to walking all of the time. Mile 22 I struggled. Took longer walk breaks, tried to talk myself around. Kind of managed to get back on it and kept the strategy going. It was hot now. Managed a whole summer without getting sunburned then got sunburned at the end of September in Poland! Keep going, keep going.

Think it was about mile 18 that the 5k runners zoomed past. Again an awesome sight! Then running along the Nowy Swiat, a wide street, closed off to traffic on a weekend, lined with restaurants, a few runners amongst the other people just out for a Sunday stroll or lunch was quite surreal.

There were also bridges. One looked like the new “Northern Spire’ Bridge in Sunderland. We crossed that a total of 3 times. On the second time, there was a panda. On the third time, there was a panda, a fox, some people with cola (which I’d been fantasising about for about 10 miles) and a chap in a wheelchair giving out free hugs. I high fived the animals, drank the cola, hugged the chap and saw the 40km sign. Only 2ish k to go.

All of a sudden I was on the finishing straight. Rob was there, taking photos, shouting encouragement. And I was finished! Crossing the line seconds after one of the ‘ever presents’ with his original race number from 1979 pinned on his back. He got a trophy when he crossed the finish line. I got my medal, an isotonic drink, a bottle of water and a banana!

My favourite marathon? Probably not. Enjoyable? Yes, as far as a marathon can be. Well organised? Very much so. Flat? Net downhill. Would I do it again? Probably not, but there is a different Warsaw Marathon in April… a better course our ‘Communism walking tour’ guide told us. Would I recommend this Marathon? Yes, it was a well-organised event and Warsaw is a beautiful city well worth a visit.

The photos were cheap too. 39 zlotys (about £8) for the 51 pics I got. Bargain by UK standards.

(Visited 51 times, 1 visits today)

Roseberry Topping Fell Race, Newton under Roseberry, Great Ayton, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

AS/2.3km/217m

Jack Lee

A long race report feels inappropriate for what is a short sharp and largely chaotic race. For these reasons, it has earned its place as one of my favourites. More expensive per mile than GNR and London but home cooked flapjacks at the end and almost as many spot prizes as runners.

I drove down from Durham and turned up at just after 6 pm (an hour before the start) and met up with Fiona. We then hiked up Roseberry Topping scoping out the route and trying “the Shoot” on the way down and deciding that if we were being competitive then a nearly vertical slope of mud and grass was not the way to go.

Pretty soon after we were lined up for the start of the race amiably chatting with some Eskvalley Runners. When the race began we sprinted for the hill but this soon turned into trudging up the steep slopes with hikers looking bemused as we passed. My face was red and my heart hammering. I could still feel my circuit training from Monday in my legs.

Fiona was constantly taking time out of me, building a lead of probably 30 seconds by the top.

The top is a surreal moment; the edge of the North York Moors laid out in front of me but I had to get myself together in a second and chuck myself back off the precipice.

On the downhill, all hell broke loose with runners still ascending, other descending and hikers caught in the middle. I threw caution to the wind and started to make time on Fiona. Second by second I reeled her in. I thought if I could get within the striking on the final straight, I would have a chance. She, however, didn’t comply and sprinted off beating me comfortably coming just ahead of the second lady.

Afterwards, I ate flapjacks and got a spot prize (my first ever!), when the organisers asked: “who hasn’t got a prize?” I was tired and hurting but happy.

(Visited 64 times, 1 visits today)

Lakes Alive Festival – Wolfing down the miles, Friday, September 7, 2018

Jack Lee

I feel that the Elvet Striders have taken part of some odd and wacky events over time but it isn’t often that you get to impersonate a wolf for a weekend, so when Stuart Scott forwarded me an appeal for fell runners to impersonate wolves for the Lakes Alive festival, I applied.

At this point, I never foresaw actually doing the event. And so it was, with a fair bit of trepidation, that I donned my wolf cape and wolf head and set off on the Friday morning.

The event was part of the Lakes alive festival starting at Humphrey Head (the location of the last wolf in Britain) and running to Kendal. Over the space of three days the wolves had a lot to do. The aim of the game was for the public to come and “hunt” the wolves, which essentially involved members of the public trying to photograph the wolves and the wolves being elusive and evasive. The second day, however, involved a staged event where the public were ferried out to Mill Side and had a close encounter with the wolves but I am getting ahead of myself.

Anyway getting back on track, at 8 am on Friday the 7th of September, myself and three other fell runners from Sheffield set off from Humphrey Head, making the excursion through Allithwaite, Cartmel and Lindale over the space of the day. Each time we saw humans we skulked and hid in the shadows, but not well enough that they didn’t get a sighting. This, combined with howling on hilltops and relative gentle progress, marked a relatively casual first day, which ended in a bunkhouse in Mill Side eating good food and drinking a couple of beers with the trackers turned off.

The next day was focussed on the exhibition events where members of the public were ferried out to Mill Side for two events; one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Early in the morning, the wolf pack set off for an hour or so run, over Whitbarrow where at approximately 11.30am we emerged from mists on the top and howled while visible to the people sheltering in the hide below. We then set off leaping rocks and pieces of broken limestone pavement and throwing ourselves down a steep slope to appear fifteen minutes later around a staged “kill” (in reality a deerskin and head). We approached carefully checking for danger while rubbing scent onto a couple of trees and getting our legs torn to pieces by brambles. Then after a while feasting on deer, all our heads went up in unison and we scampered off into the undergrowth. Only to reappear in the afternoon to go through it all again.

It was after this second performance that my time as a wolf came to an end and after some dinner, I got a lift back to Kendal to spend some time with my brother and father. The next day, however, I decided that the hunted would become the hunter. Not many people had been actively hunting the wolves during the first few days so after a coffee in Kendal I donned my running kit and grabbed my phone and the hunt began. The game platform was composed of a website with a live tracking display of the wolves’ locations, but to access this you had to share your location and I knew from experience as a wolf that if a hunter got within 200m then the wolves would be pinged an alert.

The wolves at this time were on Scout Scar and from my cunning and the route map, I had accidentally kept, I figured out I could cut them off as they circled Kendal from the west. I legged it up Underbarrow roads and waited near the top, but a game of cat and mouse ensued.

The wolves dodging other hunters repeatedly cut up and down the hillside meaning I kept overshooting or dropping short with only a few long distance sightings. I decided to relocate to the Kendal golf course where, hiding behind a wall lying fully prone, I got some photographs of the wolves passing. After a bit of a chase, we then met down in Kendal and I joined them for a final jog to the main staging point of the Lakes Alive festival. We were accompanied by a group of kids dressed up in wolf costumes of their own. All that was left after that was to wolf down some biscuits and a cup of coffee provided, then I left the pack and set off as a lone wolf.

(Visited 49 times, 1 visits today)