The second race in the Wild Race series and by far the best of them in what is a 10.5 mile, 1736ft of ascent slog around one of the finest valleys in the Howgills area a few miles from Kirkby Stephen.
Picking up a flyer for this and checking the date I was disappointed to see the 13th of May was the date set which clashed with the Sunderland’s final home game of the season against Manchester United. So missing this race for the football I was even more distraught when a family christening was booked for this day meaning I would miss both the race and the football. So giving my ticket to an unfortunate Man Utd supporting work colleague I was resigned to a day of singing hymns in church. Then on the Saturday, said christening is called off due to a bout of chickenpox. So with no christening and no ticket for the match, the only thing to do was to get my kit together and run Bowderdale.
Bowderdale really does live up to its Wild Race tag. Pulling into the farm a there was a small but perfectly formed field of slightly mental runners. The weather was clear and dry but bitterly cold with a fierce wind blowing down from the fell tops.
Setting off up the farm track the route then takes a sharp uphill onto to narrow path that contours the valley along Bowderdale Beck. This continues for about three and a half miles before the long steep uphill onto the top of the fell. This hill is tough enough without a fierce wind blowing down straight into your face and taking your breath away and is comparable to the Drag on the Allendale Challenge, only shorter but no less demoralising.
Once at the top of the fell the friendly farmer awaits with a refreshing tank of water. Grabbing a drink and catching a breath it’s off for a fantastic run along the top of the fell back to the start, this time with the wind pushing on our backs.
The run back was spent trading places on the down hills and up hills with a guy from Teesdale AC, me passing on the down, him on the ups. The final two miles are a long grassy sweep down to the finish where speed is gained but attention to your footing is essential. With Mr Teesdale in my sights I took it easy coming down the fell and decided to make my move on the farm track on the final half a mile where it would be easier and less hazardous to pass.
With the attack point was set, I decided to make my move and overtake when I tripped and stumbled for a few metres before deciding there was no way I was staying on my feet leading to a rather impressive forward roll, ending up on my backside facing the opposite direction. Feeling rather stupid, I got up and staggered the final few hundred metres to the finish. Mr Teesdale greeted me in with “Blimey, did you get lost? I thought you would have passed me on that final bit.”
Oh how he laughed when I told him I fell over.