Tag Archives: Camilla Laurén-Määttä

High Cup Nick, Dufton, Saturday, February 27, 2016

BM / 9.3 miles / 1509 ft

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

This is a race I’ve always wanted to do but somehow it has always clashed with cross country. This year it did overlap with the XC Nationals, so with the number of Striders heading to Dufton this year the Striders XC team was probably smaller than it could have been. We added up to a total of 9 Striders, both runners (Anita, Debs, Diane, Catherine, Nigel, I) and a bunch of injured but enthusiastic walkers/cheer-leaders (Mandy, Joan, Jan). Mandy and I arrived early, but there was already a solid queue building up inside Dufton Village Hall waiting to register – and a cake stall at the back of the hall selling delicious cakes and tea. The other Striders arrived soon after and there was enough time to take a group picture and scuttle round the village green a bit.

traditional group pic (thanks to Catherine Smith)

High Cup Nick is quite a popular fell race so there were around 350 runners setting off from the village hall after a safety talk, where I had to guess the content (don’t get lost/shot/run over by sheep?) as I was standing quite far back. We set off along the village road and then turned left towards Bow Hall Farm. The field was similar to that of Esk Valley Fell races in North Yorkshire – reasonably experienced runners but with a variety of paces. After the farm, we turned left onto a footpath following a stone wall along the fields for about 0.5 mile and then turning left onto a wider track. After a while the route turned right onto a narrow path with Stud Gill on the left and a tarn on the right and onto moorland with a tow of runners heading towards the majestic whin sill rocks at High Cup Nick.

We kept running high with the footpath only gradually descending towards a stone wall where the route turned to follow the wall. Fellrunning and dry feet don’t go well together, so now it was high time to get our feet wet by wading over the water-covered stepping stones. We continued trotting along the path and after crossing a little bridge we ended up ploughing through a field of large boulders. I was concentrating on keeping up with the lady in front of me, as the slope gradually steepened, following the steps in the clay. I had recced the route earlier, with my keen dog helpfully pulling me up the slope, but now I had to resort to a bit of scrambling. I didn’t stop to look round me this time, but I knew from last time that the views were fantastic, with the beck meandering down the valley and with solid wave-shaped cliff formations on both sides.

I was now standing at the top of High Cup Nick and the rest of the route mostly followed the Pennine Way. The lady in front of me had pushed away during the climb, but with the help of gravity I now managed to get away a bit faster leaving her behind, but being overtaken by a man in red who had struggled with the climb. Somewhere along the way there was some cheerful shouting from Jan, Mandy and Joan which kept me going. After a few miles of descent it was time to turn off to the right, away from the Pennine Way and across some muddy farmers’ fields and past a rather frozen marshal. I had worried about getting lost at the last bit which went over private land and I therefore hadn’t recced, but with all the coloured flags marking the route I couldn’t have got lost even if I had tried. The route led up in between a few houses and finished off near the village green. Nigel had already arrived and the rest of the Striders’ pack was not far behind. The soup and roll included in the £7 entry fee made this a good value

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Chevy Chase, Wooler, Friday, July 3, 2015

BL / 20M / 4,000'

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

Here's one that Camilla took earlier - on the recce Chevy Chase, a classic fell race open to runners and walkers, has been organised by Wooler Running Club since 1956. This popular race fills up quickly, so I had entered the race in February (so tempting to enter summery races that time of year and so easy to lose count of how many you enter). It is also one of those races where you get cake at the end, always an added bonus. I had arrived early, so had a quick chat with fellow Striders Maggie and Christine before they started their walk 1 h before the runners. Unusually, I was the only Strider running the event this time, so I chatted to unaffiliated runners Liz and Mark whilst waiting. Apparently, many runners had pulled out of the race last minute due to the weather, so Mark had managed to get a last minute place by turning up on the day.

It was still pouring down when we lined up in Ramsay Lane and were told there was a slight possibility that the route may get diverted from the hills later in the event of a thunderstorm. I knew that the first half of the race was going to be the toughest, as we would climb both the Cheviot (815 m) and Hedgehope Hill (714 m) so I took it easy to conserve my energy for later. After the first check point at Broadstruther there was a steady climb over boggy ground, gradually steepening after the Cheviot Knee. The mist was creeping in, so I made sure to stay close behind a lady in a bright yellow top and stripy socks as I couldn’t see very far in front of me.

After a rather long climb and a short flattish run along a flagstoned path I arrived at the Cheviot summit. At this point I hauled out my compass to take the bearings to Hedgehope Hill, as there was no chance of spotting the hill from this distance in the mist. I followed a few runners over a stile and down a steep bank (no footpath at this point). The runners in front of me seemed confident about where they were going so I decided to follow them rather than the compass. However, I soon realised that they didn’t have a clue of the best route, so we all changed direction together following my compass bearing. We would need to cross Harthope Burn at a suitable place but after some additional trotting found a gentle slope and a narrow crossing point only getting slightly wet feet. I was relieved to see some walkers in front of me, so we couldn’t have gone too far off the right track. I was happy to see that they were Maggie and Christine power walking up the hill with great stamina. At last, I could also see the fence that led up to the hill summit.

As I descended down Hedgehope Hill all the fog had lifted and I could see green fields covered by fluffy cotton grass and further away Housey and Long Crags, meaning that Longlea Crag must be hidden behind them. Nearby a group of runners were carrying a lady with a twisted ankle, but they all seemed in good mood. It was getting hotter and I wished I had taken some sun cream with me, but at least I carried plenty of water (and there were often jelly babies on offer at the check points). The last half of the race was a complete contrast to the first; I was running in glorious sunshine through Harthope Valley, past Brands Corner and along Carey Burn to the suitably named Hell Path. My legs were rather knackered after the hills and started to cramp up during the last mile to the Youth Hostel. It was a relief to arrive at the finish and receive a rucksack and water bottle (apparently Liz, the lady I met at the start, had received a spot prize in her rucksack consisting of a large pair of pink pants – the latest alternative to t shirts and wine bottles?).

Overall, this was definitely one of the toughest races I’ve done due to the terrain (good contender this year to Allendale Challenge in terms of bogginess), but my memory is short so I’ll probably be back for more at some point. Also, next year is the 60th anniversary of Chevy Chase so not a bad choice for the 2016 racing calendar..

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Local Level D orienteering event, Sunday, November 9, 2014

Orange Course (3.3km 105m 13 controls)

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

My diary was looking worryingly empty for the weekend – no cross country competitions or fell races. Inspired by my recent orienteering experience as a vampire with a blank map (courtesy of the Northern Navigators’ Halloween Club Night) I decided to try out a NATO event. I had previously thought that these events had something to do with defence and camouflage clothing, but it turned out to just be an event arranged by Newcastle and Tyneside Orienteers. There had been a Saturday night event the day before, no doubt populated by vampires and ghosts, so this time I chose a civilised Sunday morning event.

Unlike pure bred runners, orienteers are a relaxed breed happy to start their treks at flexible points of time, which at this event was anytime between 10 and 12 a.m. I did not read the instructions for how to get to the start very thoroughly, so drove around in circles near Jesmond for a while. There were people of various ages running around with maps but I had no idea where they had appeared from. I asked one of them and he didn’t seem to have a clue either, but eventually I did find the car park.

Camilla checks her dibber.When it came to what to do during the event itself I had done my homework (the NATO website has a collection of FAQs that are really useful for newbies). The courses at Jesmond Dene ranged from 2.1 km (yellow) to 6 km (blue), so weren’t exactly taxing in terms of distance. However, the longer courses are more difficult to navigate so I decided to just do an orange course (3.3 km).

Like the Esk Valley fell races, there was a man in a van taking registrations in an equally cheerful manner, which made me feel at home. I also borrowed an electronic dibber which was to be used at the start, controls and finish so that I later could check my split times for each distance. At this point Dougie (Strider, experienced navigator and race report editor) also kindly assisted me so that I didn’t get lost on the way from the registration to the start box. Kate and Nigel from Northern Navigators had also arrived with their children including Maya (W10) who despite her young age and big smile is a fearsome competitor to have in the same race (she was also doing the same orange course as me).

Now, which map is mine?As a runner, it felt rather strange to stand on my own in the start box with nobody else at the starting line. I was told to just get started when I was ready and then dib my card and pick up an orange map. Off I went picking up the map which had a scale of 1:7,500 (meaning that each cm on the map was equal to 75 m so it was rather detailed compared to an OS map). The start was where the triangle was – I knew that much. Control 1 was at a spring which seemed to be just after a path junction – but in what direction? And was there a building in the car park behind me that I hadn’t noticed as there was a building marked on the map? Could the pavilion on the other side be the round black dot? No, that wasn’t right at all, but it took me a while to figure out that I had run into completely opposite direction to what I was supposed to do. A marshal felt sorry for me and pointed me in the right direction.

Ok, at least I knew where I was going now. I soon found the spring and then the foot of the cliff and the SE corner of the building. On the way between controls I met Saskia and then Debbie from Northern Navigators who both were doing more complicated routes. Control 4 was nicely placed on the other side of a bridge, but what about Control 5? That must be a hill, but there were no hills in between these two footpaths – so maybe it’s the hill higher up (never mind the footpath in between). Suddenly I had strayed far too high up – this was Control 9 not Control 5. Back down again – and there it was at last, Control 5 (by this time I had spent about 15 min wandering about). What a joy to be able to dib at last. I later figured out that the light brown dotted line was a dry ditch not the top of a big hill – and the height difference between each contour line was only 5 m so one line doesn’t make a massive hill. [You can view all the maps, courses and controls on the Routegadget website and follow Camilla’s descriptions – Ed.]

The next controls were luckily easier to find and after my slowest 3 k ever I dibbed at Control 13 at the East side of a round building and then followed the tapes to the Finish and then went to the download point to record my results. The receipt that popped out of the machine mercilessly told me my splits (including 15:35 for Control 5) and total time (58:20). Maya won the orange course in about half the time (29:44) but I wasn’t last (4th place out of 6, but it’s possible that the other ones didn’t run). Northern Navigators did brilliantly overall, with Nigel and Dougie in 1st and 6th position respectively for the Blue course, Saskia and Debbie in 2nd and 6th place respectively for the Green course and Maya’s big sister Jeneba in 6th position for the light green course and little sister Yolanda 7th for the yellow course.

The Finish of an Orienteering Race can often be quite a lonely affair.

I finished off by buying a coffee from the café van and sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sunshine and the wildlife (fat rat crossing the path purposefully and without using a map). Now, should I be doing a light green course next time [Absolutely! Ed.] and when can I fit in the next orienteering event?

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Carlton Midsummer Meander, North Yorkshire Moors, Wednesday, July 9, 2014

BS / 6.2m / 1499ft

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

The sun was still shining over North York Moors and there was a slight breeze as we lined up on Green Bank near Lordstones Café just outside Carlton village. According to the dictionary to meander is ‘to move aimlessly without fixed direction’ which is what I usually do in fell races, so I felt confident that I had the skills needed for tonight’s little race (6.6 km, 390 m climb). The only Striders taking part this time were Scott and I, but I would recommend the Esk Valley Summer Series races to anybody wanting to dip their toes into fell running. These short midweek races are the perfect introduction and not much more strenuous than the Striders handicap as you will probably be walking a fair bit on steeper sections.

The race started on a grassy slope and then followed the Cleveland Way past two marshalled checkpoints. It had all looked quite straightforward on the map with the footpath continuing until the woodland by Broughton Bank, but suddenly I was lost in a sea of bracken with no visible path under my feet. Surely the Mountain Rescue would find me here within the bracken sooner or later? Bracken is poisonous even to sheep so I wouldn’t be able to live on it, but I could live on bilberries and on water from the stream sipping through the bracken until they found me – and I did have a big lunch so could even survive for days.

Ok, maybe it wouldn’t be necessary – my heart lifted as I noticed the line of fell runners further down the bank. But how did they get there? I looked behind me and there were more lost fell runners in the tangle of bracken – maybe I had misled them and we would all have to be rescued together. I did feel very guilty about risking to use the Mountain Rescue’s limited resources for this, so I meandered skilfully through the bracken and, magically, in front of me there was now a grassy footpath. I was on track again, turning left by Broughton Bank and turning back by the stile/check point at Toft Hill.

Hooray, I was catching up with a line of runners struggling uphill through the head high bracken following a clear footpath. The marshal at the top of the hill told me there wasn’t much left now of the course. Going downhill, I concentrated on placing my feet on the flagstones without braking too much and at times I ran along the narrow grass verge. After a while the path turned right and the finish was grassy and only slightly uphill.

It was a great little race, with no free t shirts or mugs or PBs, not requiring superman/superwoman skills, just a little bit of everyday stamina; a mini-adventure keeping your mind and feet busy, which is sometimes all that is needed for a good day out. I’m sure the Mountain Rescue would have found me eventually had I not found my way out of the bracken.

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Fox and Hounds Chase, Ainthorpe, Sunday, April 27, 2014

BM / 9M / 1499'

Camilla Laurén-Määttä, Innes Hodgson

Camilla Laurén-Määttä …

Having missed a few Esk Valley Fell Races due to injury, I was keen to do this last fell race of the winter season. As an added bonus there was a nice pub, The Fox and Hounds, to warm up in before and after the race. The distance of 8.6 miles and the climb of 457 m didn’t sound too bad either. A few seasoned fell runners couldn’t make it, so we were only a handful of Striders (Anita, Flip, Mike H., Innes and I) lining up at the start just outside the Fox and Hounds. It was very misty so there would be lots of opportunities to get lost, although the route went along moorland circling round the Danby Dale.

After a short section on the road we turned up towards the moorland. The climb was mostly gentle enough to run rather than walk but there were some boggy bits slowing down the running. Despite somebody shouting out a warning I went too close to the edge and slid down into a small beck with a bit of a splash although still keeping my balance. Flip passed me after a couple of miles, but did bump down in front of me again from inside the mist a few miles later. He had got a bit diverted from the course but apparently only losing a few minutes. An Esk Valley runner nearby seemed to have got more off the track saying he had got lost around 10 times, so being a local doesn’t always help.

The next adventure was scrambling up mountain goat-style along a rather steep muddy hill but after this the route was mostly level following a narrow path in between heather and bilberry bushes. Further down the valley we ran along a dry stone wall and then turned right following a tarmac road with a few hills, at which point I again had caught up with Flip. Next, we passed a white horse standing outside the Plum Tree House (sounds like something from a children’s story book) and then it was time to climb up the moor again for about half a mile. After a short section along the road we were back again where we started. Mike had already arrived, Flip passed the finishing line a bit before me and Anita arrived a bit later with a nice group of runners that she had found along the way. Innes’ wife and dog stood at the finishing line looking a bit worried about what had happened to him, but it turned out he had only got a bit lost along the way. We finished off with some local ale, tea and sandwiches in the Fox and Hounds – and Flip somehow managed to get Anita a wine bottle as the prize for being the best driver.

… and the alternative route, from Innes Hodgson:

There are many rumours flying around twitter, Linkedin, facebook and several other social networks. I have decided to come clean (after several showers and a scrubbing brush) and give you all the true story of that fateful day.

I had been eyeing this race as a return to fell running for many months, not too far at 8.7 miles not too steep at less than 180ft per mile and at the end of April the weather should be ok. Ah “the best laid schemes …” R Burns.

Things took a turn for the worst on route to the race, as soon as we hit the moors, when visibility dropped below the magic two lamp posts (the cue for fear and comments about the effectiveness of car lights). It was then I knew I was in for some fun! The race started well with a short sharp hill on the road, followed by a run along a narrow path that turned into a sheep track, I watched Phil and Camilla disappear into mist. This was a god send as it meant I could still see the people in front despite the fog. It was not long before my first incident of the race. Following on from my run on Waldridge the day before I took a spectacular dive worthy of Luis Suarez (I still claim that I was tackled from behind by the Heather).

The next couple of miles went well and I found a young lady to run with from Sunderland Strollers, despite a fall down a small gully we managed to keep on course. The course had been marked with pieces of red and white tape, I have run a few fell races in the past but not for about 15 years, this was the first time I had run a taped course. At first the tape was very useful but as the race went on it appeared the tape was running out as the markers were getting smaller and further apart. We finally got to a manned checkpoint and were told to keep right on the next section, we duly did and got lost. After running up and down the side of a steep hill we finally found a road and got on course, we never saw checkpoint 3, mind you we never saw checkpoints 1 and 2 either. Although we were back on course it did not last for long within ¾ mile we were lost and were wandering around a farm for a bit. We found a local gentleman (from the Orient) how gave us some advice and sent us off in the wrong direction, having checked the map yet again we doubled back and finally got back on track and managed to get back to the finish. We were not last despite having run more than a mile further than we were supposed to.

Was it fun? YES.
Would I do it again? YES, YES.
Did I learn anything? YES, YES, YES.
What did I learn?

  1. Don’t go off to fast, in fact go off very slowly. Remember Phil and Camilla are better runners.
  2. Beware tapes they can make you lazy and can be source of mistakes.
  3. Whatever your level of navigation skills, use them!
  4. Beware advice from well-meaning individuals it can misleading and create confusion.
  5. Fell running is fun I have missed it. Have a go, run at least one short fell race this summer.

Please note that the above report is the Times edition. The News of the World edition (“My Dirty Sunday with a Sunderland Stroller”) is only available via phone hacking or bribery.

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Hardmoors Osmotherley Half-Marathon, Sunday, February 16, 2014

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

Having heard about the Hardmoors races from other Striders I was a bit curious and the Osmotherley half seemed to be good practice for other longer off-road races. The interest for this particular race was at an all-time high with around 400 pre-registered entrants in total for the full and half marathon and the 10k and no entries on the day. The weather had been quite foul and we received an email to say that the organiser, Jon Steed, had done a recce of the course dressed in merino layers and sealskin mittens, which apparently was just right for the conditions higher up the moors. I was a bit short of sealskin mittens but hoped I would manage with my woolly layer. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, just a bit chilly when I was waiting outside the Osmotherley Village Hall with fellow Striders Danny and Jerry, who both were doing the half as well (Anita and Mark D. were running the 10k and Sue J. was doing the full marathon – and Dave R. and Flip were marshalling along the half/full marathon routes). Danny was more high-tech than the rest and carried a headlamp-like video camera so that he could watch highlights of his running days when getting too old to race. Being closer to my pension days than Danny I should probably have brought one as well but I will have to do with showing my race reports to any future grand-children. I had considered dropping out of the race as my quads and hamstrings were rather sore after various hilly runs earlier in the week, but having paid £20 for the experience I had decided to do it anyway, albeit as a slow training run.

Camilla isn't so interested in the Parish News - she has a race to run! The beginning of the race was uphill along tarmac, later changing to a dirt track and then mostly following the Cleveland Way. The race was more of a trail race than a fell race, often good underfoot and with more of a mixture of running abilities amongst participants. The route was marked throughout with yellow ribbons so it was impossible to get lost, in theory anyway (more on this topic later). There were also seven marshalled check-points with water and food (mainly Jaffa cakes and jelly babies). Dave R. was marshalling on the half marathon today, so it was good to see a familiar face along the route.

The moorland was in its most striking winter colours of crimson, pink and different shades of green with views down over flatland with slowly spinning wind turbines in the distance. The sun was on its best behaviour and the woolly layer started to feel a bit excessive. The route was an out and back one to Carlton Bank where the landscape was a bit more rugged with flagstones arranged along the Cleveland Way, slowing down the pace a bit. After turning back, my quads and hamstrings started to play up more and I had to walk the last 5-6 miles. I was feeling a bit annoyed at this, but decided to just enjoy the walk rather than worrying about the pace. Surprisingly enough there were lots of fast-looking runners coming up behind me. It turned out that a big group of front runners had done a 3-4 m extra loop as the yellow ribbons seemed to be directing them elsewhere. I managed not to get lost, although was discussing the correct route with another runner along the way. He wasn’t really bothered anymore if he went down the wrong route as he had got side-tracked so many times already.

After a bit more walking in the mud and then down a tarmac road I was back in Osmotherley. I decided to run the last bit with a bit of limping involved and then finished off in the village hall where tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes were being served. All finishers got t-shirts and medals, so the race was reasonably good value for money. I may do one again but only if I’m injury-free at the start…

Is this the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?

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Clay Bank West, North York Moors, Sunday, November 10, 2013

AS / 4.2M / 1143'

Camilla Laurén-Määttä

I don’t think there could be a better start to a Sunday morning than running a fell race on slightly frosty ground in bright November sunshine. I haven’t done more than two or three fell races and this was my first Esk Valley one, but it won’t be my last one. Admittedly most fell races will be longer and more strenuous than this one.

Experienced fell runner Jan kindly gave me a lift along with two fell running students, Peter and Lucy. Being a novice I had carefully studied the route map the day before and it seemed quite difficult to get lost as the route was just 4.2 miles long; up a hill, along the forest and back along the Cleveland Way until reaching the same hill where we started. Jan, modest as usual, explained about being near the tail-end of the field, but I knew she would run past me at some point or other. Peter and Lucy would have to wait for me quite a bit as apparently Peter tended to win the races and Lucy was also a very strong fell runner.

There wasn’t a great turnout of Striders this time, as apart from Jan and myself there was only Mike Bennett, with Danny being caught up in baby-tending duties. There was just enough time to complete the entry forms and get rid of a few layers of clothing and off we went up the hill. Now, the good thing with fell runs is that you don’t need to feel bad about walking up the steepest bits so after a while most people were having a leisurely walk. Time flew past and soon we were at the end of the forest and turned left and up the moorland.

At the top of the first hill I followed the people in front of me, who had obviously done a wrong turn – at this point Jan had caught up with me and explained that the other route was a longer one used in the Viking Chase Fell race. Now it was time to go downhill, which meant I couldn’t keep up with Jan anymore. The rocks on the path felt slippy and I had to keep to the grassy path on the side. Up we went again and then there were two options – along a steeper grassy path (which I followed) and a less steep but stonier and longer route.

I was almost a bit disappointed when it was time to descend to the starting/finish point as I felt I still had plenty of energy left in my legs. Jan had arrived just before me, having fallen over and grazed her elbow slightly, and Mike had arrived quite some time ago. Peter (winner of the race), Lucy (amongst the first ladies) and Jan (first lady in her age group I think) were awarded for their effort with well-deserved wine bottles – not a bad award for cash-strapped students. There was also a bit of time to take in the views of Roseberry Topping from the car park. At this point I should really have taken a photo, but I didn’t, so hopefully there are some nice pictures to insert here to inspire more Striders to do the Esk Valley fell races!

Yes, it's Roseberry Topping again ...
photo courtesy and © Ann Brown
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James Herriot Trail Race, Castle Bolton, Wensleydale, Sunday, July 28, 2013


Camilla Laurén-Määttä

Looking at Mel’s report from the 2012 James Herriot Trail Race, I felt this would be the perfect trail race with some stunning scenery from the moorland above Castle Bolton in Wensleydale. The recent tropical weather would also be perfect for running down those grassy slopes, so I happily sent away my completed entry form in the post. I wasn’t even put off by Mel’s warning about the discoloured drinking water. A few days before the race it turned out that the family car was needed to transport the son to an athletics meeting, but to my relief Barrie and Christine were also going to the race and there was space in their car. On the night before the event the skies opened and the rain that fell would easily have swept away most of the runners from the slopes. Luckily the downpour settled as we were driving there although the weather was rather chilly with some light showers as we arrived.

The brown water described by Mel was gushing out from the taps in the ladies’ at great pressure but according to the sign this wasn’t drinking water. I reluctantly left my warm layers in Barrie and Christine’s car and lined up for the race in running vest and shorts. Not a large turnout for Striders this time – apart from Barry, Christine and myself only Maggie was waiting for the start signal. The gun went off and I started with some slow running bracing myself for the hills I knew were to come soon. I already knew that there would be a small hill, then a bigger hill and then an even bigger hill at the beginning which I preferably would walk at least to some part. As the hill grew steeper most people in front of me did indeed start to walk and so did I. The skies were gradually clearing up and looking down behind me I had a nice view of lush fields, grass-munching sheep and a trail of runners in multi-coloured vests (many of whom were still to pass me at a later stage). The wind was blowing against us as we struggled along.

I concentrated on running down the slope at a steady speed and managed to pass another runner, although the hard gravel under my feet made running rather tough and I retreated to the softer grass banks on the side. The water at the drink stations was clear and tasty this year so probably not from the local springs! The last section of the race went downhill over soft green grass and along a country lane with a little bit of splashing involved to get across a small ditch.

Overall this was an enjoyable race – not too long and not too short with some beautiful views along the way. And my legs and feet aren’t even aching. At least not yet.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 5.5m / 1000'

Dave Selby and Camilla Laurén-Määttä

Dave Selby…

Striders group at SaltwellRunning Striders: Shaun, Alister, Geoff, Dave, Susan, Jan, John, Mike, Phil, Nigel, Colin, Camilla (first fell race), Dougie, Will, Maggie, Stephen, Me (Wavey Davey), and Mike’s daughter, Rosa (first race, ever).

Weather: Perfect for running; broken skies (shock, horror, some blue could be seen), low cloud, cool, lazy breeze, no bugs and no rain.

Dave approaches the finishGetting ready (putting my white socks on) just below the start line at the top of Crawleyside Bank I immediately felt embarrassed and somewhat intimidated. The abundance of athletic, high endurance muscles was high, and the sense of an over presence of folks that had clearly fell raced since their time in the womb. And then there was me.

After a wee delay, 117 runners gathered at the start line for a briefing. As per usual the planned route had changed. In brief, it was DIY up hill where we ran over shale (yes, there will be geology in this report. This rock is a potential source of oil and gas) to the furthest radiomast (~0.75m). Anticlockwise around the mask we followed the fence line (strict instructions to stay on the left of the fence. No idea why) for ~1m. This took you across some rather interesting uneven heather covered moorland, bog with a hint of quagmire, and peaty earth, and over sandstone (a rock that is a potential reservoir of oil and gas). The route then continued across the road (B6278) and then headed south on almost level but wet ground for about 0.5m. A hairpin turn started you off on a blessed 1m decline that terminated at the stream. Then into the stream (which was strangely quite refreshing) to punch your number, before following the streams path, firstly contouring slightly up hill and then abruptly down to the start of the finale of the route – the hill of terror – a hill of varying gradients all the way to the finish line. Six miles of bog, peat, heather, stream, oh and hill loving fun complete. Great fun was had by all, especially by me. It was then off to the Moorcock Inn for the presentation, refreshment, a bit of grub, and prizes.

Question: What is the secret to making bog coloured socks white?

…and Camilla Lauren-Määttä

Having done a few 10k, half-marathon and cross country races I needed a new challenge and a shorter fell race seemed like a suitable one that didn’t involve a lot of extra training. I was told that Stanhope fell race is a good and fun introduction to fell running so it seemed like a good taster race. To be on the safe side I packed down my (dog)whistle, map and compass and headed to Maiden Castle to meet up with Dave Shipman and Will Horsley, just to discover that Dave was dressed in a smart suit, so apparently I had missed something about the dress code (it later turned out that he didn’t actually run in his suit). Will kindly gave us a speedy lift in his 4×4 (I think there must be a correlation between how fast people drive on narrow roads and their fell-running pace) whilst explaining the course, which apparently involved wading through bogs and streams in waist-high water. He conveniently parked his car right on the start line, which I guess is one of the main reasons to owning a 4×4.

There was a good turnout of Striders (Shaun, Geoff, Dave, Susan, Jan, John, Mike, Phil, Nigel, Colin, Dougie, Will, Maggie, Stephen, Alister, Dave Selby, Mike’s daughter Rosa and myself). Most racers looked liked very seasoned fell runners, but when the organisers asked for runners who hadn’t done the race before a fair few raised their hands. We got a detailed explanation about how to stay on the right side of the fence and not crossing streams so that we wouldn’t get lost. Apparently, anybody less than 5 feet tall was also in danger of being washed away by the stream. This seemed suitably adventurous compared to Blaydon or the Great North Run, where the most likely fatality is being hit by a car.

Camilla approaches the finishThe route started by a reasonably comfortable ascent along a gravel trail, but soon we were trampling on boggy ground and dense heather moorland near the radio mast. Dave’s regular training on Waldridge fell was apparently good preparation for this and he merrily bounced off disappearing into the distance. There were also a few wide ditches to hop over before crossing the road. Next came the most enjoyable part of the race, with a gentle grassy down-hill slope and postcard views over moorlands and hills. Wading into the stream to punch the race number at the check-point was also rather fun (and even on me the water only reached up to mid-calf level). After this, there was some not too strenuous running along the stream. I spotted Dave’s purple vest in the distance and made sure I didn’t lose sight of him and the other runner in front of me, as I wasn’t too keen to get lost. We were getting closer to the finish and as Will had explained there was a very steep uphill gradient. I’d decided not to walk, but for a while it seemed that my walking was just as fast as my running so I resorted to some walking at the steepest section. However, being a slightly shorter and lighter runner I managed to overtake Dave in the hill. Eventually, I also managed a half-hearted sprint thanks to Alister and others cheering in all Striders by the finishing line.

I thoroughly enjoyed the race and would definitely recommend trying out a fell race. The atmosphere at the presentation in the Moorcock pub afterwards was very friendly and cheerful with some free food and prizes (real ale) for everybody, regardless of position.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Swinburn NFR M 39.45
10 Will Horsley NFR M 45.56
24 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 49.35
29 Geoff Davis NFR MV55 50.75
33 Mike Bennett MV55 51.36
41 John Wandless MV40 53.04
56 Shaun Roberts MV55 57.05
62 Nigel Heppell MV55 57.34
69 Alister Robson MV40 58.33
78 Susan Davis NFR FV50 61.32
81 Dougie Nisbet DFR MV45 62.24
83 Dave Selby MV40 63.00
88 Stephen Garbutt MV40 64.10
95 Phil Owen MV45 65.17
96 Jan Young FV55 66.10
98 Colin Blackburn NFR MV50 66.53
100 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV45 68.05
102 Dave Shipman MV55 68.47
108 Rosa Bennett F 77.00
113 Maggie Thompson FV60 88.01

113 finishers.

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