The Yomp Mountain Challenge, Kirkby Stephen, Sunday, June 2, 2013

23M / 4,000' (with 11.5M and 6.25M options)

Shaun Roberts

aka Mallerstang Horseshoe & Nine Standards Yomp

Well, what a difference a year makes. A year ago the marshals were freezing on the hills as the wind tore into their tents. This time round it was bright and sunny, and looked as if it could get seriously hot later in the day, though a bit of a breeze up on the fells made it all very pleasant to run in. Last time around, I’d just done the Half-Yomp, whilst Angela and Sue, as well as our visiting young Turk Yusuf, took on the full thing – about time for me to have a go …

Managed to get over to Kirkby Stephen in time for a nine o’clock start (you choose your own start time, between 8:00 and 10:00), only to see that Angela and John had already set off, as had Paul Evans and Anna Seeley. Off I went, out on the road heading south – before turning off across country, for the long climb up towards the Nab and Wild Boar Fell. The legs felt a tad heavy, and a few small muscles were twinging a bit – something to do with Netball the day before – but within twenty minutes all that had sorted itself out. After three miles or so, Angela and John came into view and we exchanged pleasantries … they were on a 100%-walking strategy, and they were going to stick to it. Onwards and upward … bit of a walk, bit of a scuttle, that sort of thing, gaining height … and Sue Jennings also hove into sight. She was running on her own this time round, and was looking good so far.

Finally it was good to emerge on the flat top of Wild Boar Fell, and I got to the trig point in 1:18. Then a lovely run down to a bit of a ‘saddle’ before another climb up to Swarth Fell, and some more good running to Swarth Fell Pike. Then there was a bit of a knee-knocking descent to get down to the bottom of the Mallerstang valley. Half-way down was Anna, quads suffering a bit from her 31-mile effort the week before … a quick few words, down into the valley, and then up again, in a long series of drags with the occasional flatter section, that took us eventually up via the Riggs to High Seat and High Pike Hill. Three hours in, now, as I came to another steep descent to get to the re-joining with the Half-Yomp route at Tailbridge.

Plenty of climbing on offer ...

So far so good. Felt ok … the usual mix of normal and caffeinated gels was doing the trick for me … so now for the mind games. I started thinking of how fast the descent was from the Nine Standards last time, and was it, perhaps, possible to get back to the finish in under four hours? Why do we do this sort of thing?? A good run would still be a good run whether it’s just under or over some round number, so why do we torment ourselves with this sort of crap?? Especially, in my circumstances, when I’d inconveniently forgotten the considerable climb to get up to the Nine Standards! Met Dougie and Roberta along here – they’d opted for a sensible walk over the Half-Yomp route, and I didn’t blame them – the views were absolutely fantastic in the clear air. So, to the Standards in 3h30, and again, I’m thinking about that round number. It wasn’t going to happen, as it seems that a long four-mile hammer down a hill when the quads have done 19 miles is a completely different proposition to doing it after 7! The hard stony bits felt very hard, and the tarmac seemed to go on for ages.

Good to get back into Kirkby Stephen in four hours and five minutes. I was well-pleased with that, as it’s a similar distance to Swaledale, but way more boggy, and also with more ascent. Saw Paul at the finish – he come fourth, which was a great performance. Unusually, he looked knackered, but explained that his youngest was keeping him awake at night! Sadly, Angela and John were also there, as they’d had to pull out at Aisgill due to Angela’s back giving her problems. Anna came in later on, as did Sue, a good ten minutes faster than her last outing here.

This one is only six days before Swaledale, so I’ll have to see how that one pans out (next year I may have a go at the Howgills Marathon that Dave Robson reported on a week ago). But this is an excellent trip out on the hills, as is the shorter Half-Yomp version. Well worth a go, and you can enter on the day … or not, should the weather be awful.


Full Yomp
Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Patrick Hanna Howgill Harriers M 3:13:16
4 Paul Evans M 3:35:20
18 Shaun Roberts M 4:05:22
22 Emma Wood Unattached F 4:09:49
99 Anna Seeley F 5:40:54
131 Sue Jennings F 6:24:35

189 walkers and runners finished, 7 retired.

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