After the anticlimactic finish to the x-country at Blaydon on Saturday I was feeling a little bit like a wound up toy that hadn’t been released so it was with good fortune that the Guisborough Three Tops fell race was the next day and would give me the opportunity to release that pent-up energy.
On the start line at Guisborough Rugby Club were fellow Striders, Jan, Mike B, Danny Lim making his race debut and Shaun. Now last year, I huffed and puffed my way around this course in vain pursuit of Shaun who eventually proved too strong to catch and lost me on the final climb up to Guisborough Moors trig point. For those that don’t know, Shaun has a bit of a history in shaking off his pursuers in this race and this time, although I’d have liked to believe I’d have a chance of keeping pace with him, at best I would have just been happy to beat my time from last year.
With the worst storm in living memory apparently rearranging garden furniture in the South, the forecast for the day wasn’t too bad, albeit a little blustery and with conditions underfoot relatively ok it was looking set for tough but enjoyable race.
A decent turnout for the race meant for a cramped start as the trail narrowed up into the woods for the hard, steep long climb up to Highcliffe Nab. From here the trail opens up onto the Cleveland Way heading to Roseberry Topping. The route then takes a slight detour off the main path through a tight single track which allowed me the opportunity to practice my front rolls. Missing a foothold sent me head first into a ditch but I rectified this with a front roll which those behind me found highly impressive.
Despite this little tumble I pressed on. At the approach to Roseberry Topping I showed my true form and took the fell runners line down the side of the stone wall as others made their way precariously down the flagstone path, gaining a few places in the process. (I’m not that good by the way; I just know a good line down this section) At the foot of Roseberry Topping it was head down time for the slog to the summit. The strength of the wind made itself known at the top knocking me onto all fours. Back on my feet I spot Shaun heading back towards me on his way back down. Time for a battle!
I touch the trig point and start my descent, Shaun’s about 50 meters ahead with three others behind him, I play my trump card, I have my Inov8 Mudrocs on which have a lovely aggressive sole and I say a little prayer before I go for it, and dash past them all flying past Shaun. Now it’s worth mentioning that he’d told me earlier in the day that descents weren’t his strong point, much like it’s worth mentioning that running fast on flat ground isn’t really mine and before I know it Shaun is whizzing past me again as we turn and make our way back up a steep climb towards Hanging Stone.
I keep him in sight, but he steadily increases the gap as we head back up to the final trig point at Guisborough Moor but I’m feeling good and don’t allow him to get too far ahead as the wind picked up and pelted us with hailstones.
On the final approach to the trig point I finally seem to be gaining on him again but crossing the moor slows me down and Shaun makes off for the final descent back through the woods. Damn, lost him. The gap seems too big to close now as we weave left then right for the final descent down a steep muddy track. Then when all seemed lost, there he is like Bambi on ice (or mud) slipping and sliding about trying to maintain an upright position. This is it; I have my chance and open up my stride to whiz past him as I make the final dash to the finish.
The battle is won, the pursuer has his day and the Mudrocs prove their worth as I cross the line in 86 minutes bang on, some 30 seconds ahead of Shaun and over 8 minutes faster than last year! Mike B is already in and it’s not too long before Danny finishes. (Sorry Jan, but I was starting to get cold so made off for a shower.)
Overall, an excellent day on the hills and as a very muddy but smiling Danny will profess, the quality of this race and the drama it can provide makes it a little bit special.
|13||Kay Neesam||New Marske Harriers||FV45||1||1:16:10|