I looked at the list of GP races on the club website and decided that this would be a good one for me to take part in. It would be well represented by people in purple and I really enjoyed my first outing in to fell racing (Broughton Wood Wobble earlier in the year) and it was a midweek race so I should be free to attend. As it was ‘enter on the night’ there was also no risk of entering then double booking myself. It was only when I got nearer to the race that I realised I had the Tynedale 10k on the next evening. I decided I would do both and just run this race rather than race it.
We arrived at the top of Crawleyside bank (a place that holds only memories of pain for me so far, as cycling up that is less than pleasant) and as we stepped out if the car I was nearly blown over by the wind. Leaving Durham it was a lovely summer’s night so this was not what I had in mind for a slow Tuesday evening run. Anyway, I signed up and moved to the start line with the other Striders where I told them my plans of taking it easy.
After announcements the race started and the first 1.6 miles up to the mast was very difficult. On the DOW run the previous night I contemplated stopping after a mile or so because I was knackered but I managed to keep going so when I felt the same again during this run I told myself to keep going till we crossed the road and we’ll see how we go then.
Up round the mast and there was a long downhill section. Running down the ‘path’ I nearly lost my footing quite a few times and again started worrying about my previous ankle injury and whether a fell run was such a good idea. One runner fell just in front of us but she told everyone who stopped to help to keep going. Danny Lim was right behind me as we reached the bottom of the hill and spotted the road. As Danny overtook me he ran straight into a muddy bog. Knee deep in mud and with me less than a second behind we ended up side by side stuck in mud.
I ran on expecting Danny to retake me but I had my sights set on Alister and Rachel in the distance (I later found out that the reason Danny didn’t overtake me again was that he was trying to retrieve his shoe from the knee deep mud). In my head I did a split time for Alister and Rachel, 45 seconds. I lost sight of them and not until we were heading down to the river did I see them again, 25 seconds. When I got to the top of the bank Rachel was nowhere to be seen but Alister was just ahead of me. I put my fell running descent technique (I had previously Googled this after being overtaken by a sloth during my first fell race) into action and took Alister on the descent (most of which I spent on my backside due to being a bit too eager). I clipped my number and took off after Rachel who I could see in the distance.
The next half mile or so was terrible for running – trying to run straight on a very sloping bank so lots of pressure being put on one hip. I overtook Rachel before I got to the last climb to the finish line. I looked at my Garmin which said 5.2+ miles gone in around 50 minutes. Only 0.3 miles to go so I should break an hour, or so I thought. Cue the hill that never ends. I had nothing left to give so slowly started walking up the hill and waiting for Striders to start overtaking me again. Rachel was first and I tried a feeble attempt to cheer her on. I rounded a corner and I could see the finish line and after another check of the watch I started running with an hour still the target and to stay ahead of any Striders behind me. Up the hill and over the line in ……… 1 hour and 30 seconds. Never mind, there is always next year.
This was a good race despite not really feeling it at the start and the fact that Saltwell Harriers said it was ‘the worst weather we’ve ever had for the race’. Lets hope its blue sky and sunshine next year.