Tag Archives: Danny Lim

Borrowdale Fell Race, Saturday, August 6, 2016

AL / 16.8m / 6562ft

Danny Lim

 

Photo of Danny Lim traversing boulder field. I was stood in a field in Rosthwaite, a tranquil village nestled amongst the central fells of the Lake District. “Hello Danny!”. I looked up to see a familiar face, it was Trevor Matty from Dark Peak. Last year, we hobbled together, cramping up in agony as we made our way to the final checkpoint. We never made it in time for the cut-off and rode the “bus of shame” to the finish. This year, we were back with a score. I was apprehensive as I left home, but had a bit of a morale boost when I bumped into Striders Geoff, Susan, Jules, Steph & Mike H at Penrith service station.

The first mile of the race resembled the Great North Run with jostling and walking as the horde crammed through narrow gates. But it wasn’t long before track became footpath then trod. As we passed the final gate, Billy Bland (the record holder of 35 years) was stood there holding it open for us. What a treat it was to see a legend in the flesh albeit it briefly.

As we climbed up Bessyboot, there was lots of enthusiastic overtaking, but I was wiser from last year. This was a race you didn’t want to overcook. I held myself back and followed a runner who was keeping a sensible pace.

First checkpoint reached and it was just the start. It was only 4 miles to the next checkpoint, but it was across the boggiest terrain I had encountered, every step you took, your foot sank into the ground anywhere from an inch to a few of feet! It was energy-sapping work. And all this was going on whilst having to mind steep drops to the side and climbing uphill much of the way.

An hour later, we crossed Bogistan (I made that up) and started the climb to Scafell Pike. The terrain was entirely different, as we climbed scree then a giant boulder field. None of this was runnable as you had to carefully pick your way with each step. As we climbed higher, we became enshrouded in cloud and the wind-chill effect was more noticeable. Once the summit was reached, the best part was to follow, the scree run!

I was too terrified last year to enjoy this, but once you got the knack it was really fun, sliding your way down. Each step you took threatened to set off a mini avalanche and once in a while, there would be a shout of “watch out” as a boulder would loosen and roll downhill. Thanks to Aaron Gourley’s tip, I had a pair of gaiters which saved me from picking rocks out of my shoes.

It was over too soon and now I had to traverse the “corridor route” which was really scenic but there were a few bits where you had to be careful with a few precipitous drops. Before long I was at the foot of Great Gable, her intimidating profile looming overhead. I made the climb up at a steady pace. It seemed to go on forever but it was only 30 minutes before reaching the top. Here, I passed Trevor who seemed to be good spirits, I wished him well and pushed on ahead.

The climb down was equally steep and rocky as we scrambled down. The next few miles contoured around Brandreth & Grey Knotts and it was quite fiddly. Unnervingly, I seemed to have a small group of runners following me. I gave up on the finding the best line and used the fence as a handrail with my pack in tow.

Throughout the race, I had been monitoring my time constantly. Last year, I was cramping up almost every few minutes after Great Gable and made the Honister checkpoint 50 minutes after the cut-off. As Honister came into view below, I glanced at my watch, I had over 20 minutes to spare; I knew barring a calamity, I was going to finish and celebrated inside.

The final climb up Dalehead wasn’t as bad as I thought and my legs though tired still had energy. After tagging the summit & was a steep grassy drop into the valley with no definite path. I disagreed with the line a Calder Valley runner took and thought I’d be clever by taking a direct but insanely steep approach down. So here I was trampling downhill like an arse (and landing on it a few times too!) whilst everyone else followed her whilst staying upright. In the end, there was little difference (minus my dignity) as we reached Dalehead Tarn at the same time.

After navigating a slate quarry, the Rosthwaite finally came into view below. What a welcome sight! The final mile was all downhill and I mustered enough energy to go on the offensive, picking off several runners before crossing the finish line. What a race! If you’re into fells, I’d strongly recommend it as it is has everything; distance, terrain, technicality and pace to challenge you. But if you’re not familiar with this part of the Lakes, make sure you recce it.

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Göteborg Running Club Training Session, Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Danny Lim

Sweden has given the world ABBA, Volvo and Ikea. For runners, we can also include the Fartlek. However, I learnt another new thing from Sweden during my recent trip to Gothenburg.

I was standing in the shadow of an ancient Swedish fort at the top of a steep hill with a couple of hundred lycra clad runners. We were listening intently to the instructions of our head coach Johan. The crowd nodded from time to time, I followed suit, not knowing a word of Swedish. My plan was to follow everyone and hoped it would work.

We started off with 10 minutes of light jogging and active stretching. This was followed by a form of circuit training for runners. There would be short but intense uphill sprints interspersed by pyelometrics or on-the-spot exercises. The exercises could be anything from squats and lunges to “falling knives” and “mountain climber”. My favourite was the resistance exercise where you’d run whilst a fellow runner held you back by a belt (see video). There was minimal recovery periods and my heart rate hardly had a chance to slow down. We ran round this circuit for approximately 40 minutes before finishing off with a couple of uphill sprints.

Though I consider myself a seasoned runner, I found this session to be intense, and though we only covered 4 miles, I could truly say I had a “proper” workout. Although this session all took place within a small area, it easily accommodated 200 runners of different abilities. Everyone could run uphills at their own pace and beginners could do less repetitions during exercises. Perhaps this is a session we could try one day at The club? Happy to help if anyone needs more details.

Finally, I must Thank the coaches and fellow runners for a warm welcome and allowing me to bumble along.

[Video link in links below. No Facebook login required. – Ed.]

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Northallerton parkrun, Saturday, November 7, 2015

Danny Lim

This parkrun has the same vibe as Durham parkrun in the early days. A small, friendly group on runners gathering to run a flat, mainly grassy course around a few football fields. And maybe this is why I have gravitated to this particular event although I now live equidistant to 4 parkruns.

Of course, I had to choose the wettest day this season to run it. We were all soaked before we set off. It was more like running a Harrier League fixture! It was a bizarre, but I found myself in second place right from the start. But I’m no faster than usual, it was just a small field.

I ran this course last month and I promise, it is a very pleasant run in the park. So if you are ever in North Yorkshire, give this a go. Hope to see a few Striders some time.

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Shaun Lee Johnstone Memorial Multi-Terrain Race, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, Sunday, October 18, 2015

10 Miles

Danny Lim

This was one of those low-key, very friendly but efficiently run races. The start was a farmyard near Boroughbridge. From there, we ran through 10 miles of muddy farm tracks, interspered by bits of boggy grass and the ood patch of tarmac; in short, it was proper cross country terrain!

Every turn had a friendly, cheery marshal, and some of the locals turned out in force too. It only cost £8 to enter, but all finishers got a medal, a banana and 10 tea bags of Yorkshire Tea! What more could one ask for. From Durham, it would take just under an hour to get here.

But perhaps the one thing I will remember was my chat with the race director. The race is named afer his son who died of a brain tumour aged 16. Although 17 years ago, his sadness still showed.

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New Fox and Hounds, Ainthorpe, Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BM / 9m / 1499'

Danny Lim

Danny Lim

I seemed to go have gone back in time as I drove through Danby, a tranquil village nestled in the North York Moors. I nearly had lamb chops for dinner, after narrowly swerving from a couple of lambs that insisted on dashing across the road as I drove by.

The race HQ was in the Fox & Hounds Pub. It was a surreal sight, dozens of runners queueing up, surrounded by the locals tucking away into their dinner. Sadly, I was the only Strider in sight. For the first time ever, Dave Parry spoilt us by starting with a lead car. After 100 yards of tarmac, we veered off the road onto moor. This is a race almost purely on soft ground or heather. There was very little hard tracks or stony path, which my feet were grateful for. There was however, plenty of bush-whacking with lots of heather and knee-high vegetation to run through.

The climbs and drops were relatively gentle which disappointed me a tad. But the final mile was exciting as I was chased by a runner that kept trying to overtake me. The nerve of him! I had planned to run this race at a “steady” pace and here I was finishing off with a eyeballs out sprint. I’m going to pay the price at my next race this weekend, I’ll keep you posted.

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G’bro Three Tops II, North York Moors, Sunday, April 5, 2015

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. AM / 8.1m / 2149ft

Danny Lim

If you can only do one fell race in the North York Moors, Guisborough Three Tops would be my strong recommendation. Highlights include the stunning view of Yorkshire villages from Highcliffe Nab; picture-perfect like a postcard. This is followed immediately by a daring downhill dash into headwind so strong that your snot flies vertically, back into your face!

There is the breathless scramble to Roseberry Topping’s trig point past amused walkers and tourists. And my favourite bit of all, that slightly insane descent down the steep, grassy side of Roseberry Topping. A true fell runner will descend in what would be best described as a “controlled fall”.

This time, only four Striders braved the start line; which is surprising considering it is a GP race. Mike Bennett was the first Strider home but was stung by a 15 minute penalty for missing a newly introduced loop. Camilla and Jan also finished strongly, perhaps adding to their wine collection?

Best of all, this race will take place again this September as part of the English Fell Running Championships. So come on! Sign up now at the Esk Valley Club’s website and hope to see you there.

Mike Jan Danny Camilla
Photos Courtesy and © David Parke

Results

G’bro Three Tops II
Pos Name Club Time cat/pos/pts/total
1 Cameron Taylor Esk Valley Fell 71.35 MJ/1/50/250
15 Kay Neesam New Marske Harriers 91.56 F45/1/50/300
47 Danny Lim 101.15 MO/13/36/93
53 Mike Bennett 102.26 M60/2/48/198
80 Jan Young 116.46 F60/2/48/342*
82 Camilla Laurén-Määttä 117.51 F45/4/45/279

95 finishers.

In the Esk Valley Winter series with two races to go, Jan Young is in the lead and Camilla Lauren-Maatta 2nd in their respective age groups. everything to play for.

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Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 22, 2014

Harrier League X-Country Returns To Durham!

Anita Dunseith …

Anita prepares herself for the REALLY hard bit ahead!As the majority of people who know me will be aware I unashamedly and vociferously love XC and Saturday’s ‘home’ fixture at Aykley Heads was the best XC race I’ve ever been lucky enough to compete in.

I acknowledge I’m utterly biased but I thought the course was absolutely brilliant. It had everything, even a Grand National style jump that my hubby has christened ‘The Chair’. There were a surprising number of hills crammed into the 2 mile lap; ‘brutal’ is the word I’ve heard repeatedly to describe the course by its competitors; ‘unrelenting’ and ‘a proper cross country course’ are a couple of others.

The initial part on the field was tricky given the large mounds of grass, then we descended quite gradually for a while enjoying the view over the railway and across the valley. Turn left and it was up a surprisingly steep hill to then turn right and along to ‘The Chair’ (a jump Desert Orchid would have felt at home with). Down again, this time VERY muddy and with a great hairpin right turn at the bottom, disappointingly few seem to have fallen here though! A long gradual ascent along the railway then a steeper climb (with you guessed it, mud!).

We turned left on the ascent to more of the thick brown stuff and struggled through the quagmire desperately trying to keep our shoes on until we reached the ‘piece de resistance’ of the course – a short steep descent put in purely for the privilege of running (crawling) back out of it again four seconds later! A true lung buster with the kind of mud XC is renowned for (Mudwoman’s rain dancing has worked wonders this week). After the ascent it was time for recovery back on the divetty (if it’s not a word it should be) field and on to the second lap!

The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant – the tents and banners were out in force and with pride as usual. There was purple and green face paint (war paint or go faster stripes depending on your outlook), the sun was shining, there was loads of mud, friendly marshals, many of them in purple, offering support all the way round, hugs, chats, so many laughs and even some tears.

Course marshals gather before the action begins at Aykley Heads

One of the really great things about XC for me is that there’s competition at every point in the field. From the pointy elbowed whippets at the front to the super enthusiastic springer spaniels in the middle and us strong determined bull mastiffs bringing up the rear (thanks Kerry for the dog analogies), we all have someone we’re keeping an eye on at each fixture to pit ourselves against. Some days you come out on top and others it’s your nemesis who goes home grinning but (usually!) as you cross the line it’s a handshake or a quick hug of ‘well done’ before more hill reps in time for the next fixture.

There are many times in my life I have complained about how easy gents have it compared to us ladies – they can wee standing up, they don’t have crazy hormones to deal with and will never have their whole day’s mood dictated by whether their ‘bum looks big in this’. But, as I was midway through my second lap on Saturday I looked up at the clear blue sky and heaped thanks on the running gods and the wonderful officials at Harrier League that I wouldn’t have to do a third gruelling lap.

I didn’t run any faster than normal, nothing was particularly different to anything I’d normally do but Saturday was one of those days where everything ‘clicked’ and I absolutely loved every step.

I, Anita Dunseith am a XC addict.

… Danny Lim …

Aykley Heads was transformed into a running festival. A city of tents had sprung up and yards of marking tape snaked around the course. I arrived just as the women’s race was under way. Their faces were etched with grim, unsmiling expressions: “Second lap?” I asked a fellow spectator, “no, just the first!” she replied. The ladies were clearly pulling out all the stops. I was inspired (terrified) to see them cross the finish, as if they were about to pass out.

It was a great course with obstacles to challenge the most seasoned runners. There was the “bad step”, a three-foot vertical bank we had to vault up. In true Grand National style, there was “the bench”, though no runners had to be put down yesterday. “Hairpin Corner” saw many a runner take an impromptu mud-bath. And who can forget the “Slide of Death”, where I suicidally sprinted down before slamming into a fellow runner and crashing into the bushes. This was finished off by that final hill, reminiscent of Geoff Davies’ “Burma road” hill sessions. At the finish there was quality male bonding as I dry-retched with Jon Ayres and David Brown, knees on the ground.

But the pain was neutralised by the phenomenal support from spectators and marshals. There seemed to be a cheering Strider at every turn, really it was unbelievable! My name was being called out so much that my fellow competitors asked, “Are you the famous Danny?” For a moment, I felt like Mo Farah as he raced to Olympic gold at London. A wall of purple chanted loudly in unison as I made my final muddy climb to the finish. I was embarrassed by it all but it made the pain all so much more bearable. Thank you all!

Most memorable of all was the hard work made by the small army of volunteers from the club, including parking attendants, marshals and course constructors, many of whom had been there since early morning. You are the unsung heroes of the day. What an honour it is to be part of such a warm and supportive club.

Car-parking marshals can't wait to start putting up their signs at Aykley Heads

Stephen Jackson, in his XC debut, was the first Strider to storm back home followed closely by Gareth Pritchard. Paul Evans who started in the medium pack, came in at an impressive third place. In the ladies’ race, Penny Browell made a stellar performance, coming home seventeenth, from a medium pack start. She was followed closely by Elaine Bisson and Susan Davis.

Sally Hughes made her debut in the fast pack and gave it her all in the women’s U17/U20. But youngest Strider award must go to Zak McGowan in the U13; way to go Zak! Helen Allen, Claire-Louise Wells, Laura Jackson, Stacey Brannan and Karen Hooper also made their first XC appearances, and what a tough start it was!

The senior ladies team put in an excellent performance which saw them promoted to third in Division One. Although the men had improved slightly, we are perched precariously near the bottom of the second divison. In the words of Geoff Davis, XC captain, “things are very tight at the bottom of the table and we’ve got to pull out all the stops to stay afloat!”. So come on then, see you all at the next fixture, it’s all hands to the pump!

… Geoff Davis …

There was a magnificent turn out of current Striders at Saturday’s event but Aykley Heads was also graced by a posse of former, or less active, Striders who were once as familiar a sight at Maiden Castle as Jacquie Robson and Phil Owen are today! They included:

Alan Purvis – the founder of Striders’ website and one of the initiators of the club’s involvement in the Harrier League. Alan was a frequent ‘counter’ in the HL keeping us out of the 3rd Division right up to his late 60s.

Kim Hall – once the queen of triathlon winning many prizes at events in the UK and abroad. Would tour Europe with husband Mike picking up gongs as they went!

Linda McDermott – wonderful Linda – a veteran of the HL when the women’s field was no bigger than the Striders’ committee. Competed in road races all over the place including the Coniston 14.

Peter McDermott – Linda’s other half and a man of many, many marathons. Always happy to help new runners with his vast experience.

Tony Young – Jan’s better half and a top notch runner in his day. Achieved Fast Pack status at the HL, something most of us just dream about, and a keen runner over the fells. A man still missed by all who ran with him.

Pam Kirkup – a now retired teacher and Striders’ secretary for many a year. Kept the club on an even keel while the rest of us were busy running up and down mountains. If she was a stick of rock and you snapped her in two – you’d see the words ELVET STRIDERS running right through her!

It was great to see them all – let’s hope we see more of them at other races or Strider events.

… Paul Evans

Saturday was a long day, with the anticipation spanning many hours thanks to our hosting of Durham’s first cross-country fixture in over a decade. A true club effort in the car park and around the course saw us provide the vast majority of the volunteers needed to make it happen and, logistically, the day ran smoothly; it did, however, prolong the pre-race agony, as did the delights of seeing the thundering pack of Striders ladies attacking/churning-up the course. The pain etched on their faces did not bode well.

A further two and a half minutes extended the wait further as the male race began; as a medium pack runner I find it impossible to watch the starting pack disappear into the distance without mentally calculating how far they will have gone and how long it will be before even the smallest inroads can be made into them. The time dragged…and then it didn’t. As a slow starter I struggle to keep up with what is always a rapid burst of effort in the first few hundred metres, knowing with my head that 3 x 2.1m = ‘a long way to catch people’ yet feeling with something else that the pack must be stayed with (fellow Striders particularly), even if it goes against the way I run in any other environment.

Aykley Heads is not just any environment and this was not just any day. This was a perfect course, long enough to stretch people, well-watered enough to suck shoes from the ill-prepared, hilly enough to sap legs on the ascents and destroy balance on the downhill and overwhelmingly beautiful, lit by a low, wintry sun. This was a course that beckoned you to attack, whatever your relative strengths, and rewarded you when you did so; both relentless plod and downhill gamble saw me gain places throughout the first lap, eventually catching the first Striders with Jerry Lloyd on my shoulder and Rob Everson somewhere ahead.

There was still no sign of Simon, James, Geoff or Rob in front and Gareth and Stephen were clearly flying from the slow pack, but more and more purple vests continued to be caught and passed, one by one, a brief grunt was all the breath that could be spared in encouragement. Danny, Scott, David, Mike, Jon and Graeme were all running well but were peripheral to what was now a very personal run-off, conducted to what seemed to be a solid wall of noise from the spectators with Strider voices loudest amongst them.

Elswick; Tynedale; Gosforth; Blackhill; Crook; Alnwick; Strollers; Birtley; Jarrow: runner by runner, vest by vest, we worked our way around the course, same but different by now, as each turn was all the more treacherous on the last lap of the day. Jerry still led me down to the hairpin, though he was less steady on his feet by now. Unfortunately I was no better and slightly rolled an ankle whilst dancing past a competitor for the privilege of reaching the grabbing tree one position ahead of him. I stayed upright and the dance went on – down to the railway (where Anita drowned out the passing trains), up the drag where I caught and overtook him, then on, up the big climb (which had finally turned some runners into walkers) and into a new contest with Geoff now in sight.

Paul overhauls Geoff in 'the decisive moment'

A forward lean into the nasty corner descent (knowing he’d be doing the same and letting gravity work for him), a slight over-shoot and up the hill, aware that Geoff, Jerry and an Elswick Harrier were somewhere not far away. Then the final grassy stretch opened up: one right hand turn, with lungs and legs competing but failing to scream louder than the purple horde and it was over!

This was not a nice race. It was a perfect race that demanded all you had and asked for more. It was hard, brutal, elemental running, elegant in its simplicity, treating all who competed equally. Several runners did not finish with falls and sprains demonstrating the risks of this form of running. This was no parkrun or ultra trudge with tea and cake halfway round. Fine margins gained by single runner contests decide Harrier League places and the efforts of both ladies (an outstanding third on the day in the first division) and men (an improved eighth, by a mere 260 points to Elswick’s 263) were just reward for the suffering endured – though we’re still second-bottom in the second division and more will be required if we’re to stay up.

This is a personal account and says nothing of the trials of Helen Allen, Laura Jackson, Karen Hooper, Catherine Smith, Stacey Brannan, Claire-Louise Wells, Stephen Jackson (first male counter) and any other newcomer who picked both the best and worst of XC races in which to make their debuts. It says little of the lovely camaraderie post-race and is not in any way a comprehensive account of a day which will probably prove the best XC fixture of the season in many ways. Finally, it also says nothing of what Jerry Lloyd experienced; Jerry, my thanks for an unforgettable (I hope for you also) 6.3 miles.

Results

Men
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Tim Goulding Birtley AC S Sen 37:04
36 Stephen Jackson S Sen 41:33
63 Gareth Pritchard S Sen 42:44
175 Paul Evans M Sen 45:15
182 Geoff Davis S Vet 45:26
191 Jerry Lloyd M Vet 45:32
209 Matthew Crow S Sen 46:08
216 Graeme Walton S Vet 46:24
239 Scott Watson S Vet 46:59
252 Matthew Archer S Sen 47:22
255 James Garland S Sen 47:27
268 David Gibson S Vet 48:02
270 Michael Hughes S Vet 48:02
277 Dave Halligan S Vet 48:15
281 David Brown S Sen 48:22
283 Jon Ayres S Vet 48:27
302 Danny Lim S Sen 48:56
327 Conrad White S Vet 49:52
329 Marc Jones S Sen 49:56
344 John Metson S Vet 50:18
354 Jon Steed S Vet 50:36
406 David Lumsdon S Vet 52:19
424 David Selby S Vet 52:55
430 Eric Green S Vet 53:08
478 Ari Hodgson S Sen 55:23
490 Innes Hodgson S Vet 56:24
500 Andy Short S Vet 57:12
508 Mark Dunseith S Sen 57:50
512 Phil Owen S Vet 58:09
517 Peter McGowan S Vet 58:31
519 David Spence S Vet 58:34
528 Nick Jones S Sen 60:09
538 Dave Robson S Vet 61:39
541 Lindsay Rodgers S Vet 62:41
544 Stephen Ellis S Vet 65:15
549 Andrew Thurston S Vet 67:19

557 finishers.

Women
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Jo Ritson Durham City Harriers S Sen 28:23
17 Penny Browell M Vet 32:31 *
23 Elaine Bisson S Vet 32:49
38 Susan Davis S Vet 33:23
48 Rachael Bullock M Sen 33:40
53 Lucy Cowton S Sen 33:44
58 Mandy Dawson S Vet 33:53
70 Camilla Lauren-Maatta S Vet 34:09
81 Helen Tones M Vet 34:31
93 Sarah Davies S Vet 34:48
96 Fiona Jones S Vet 34:54
111 Rachel Terry M Vet 35:21
116 Lesley Charman S Vet 35:23
130 Fiona Shenton M Vet 35:37
137 Debra Goddard S Vet 35:53
151 Juliet Percival M Vet 35:58
160 Melanie Hudson S Vet 36:13
174 Helen Williams S Vet 36:44
177 Stephanie Piper S Sen 36:54
198 Jane Ives S Vet 37:36
200 Jan Young S Vet 37:36
246 Jean Bradley S Vet 39:32
248 Nina Mason S Vet 39:38
264 Kate MacPherson S Vet 40:22
268 Katherine Preston S Vet 40:31
280 Joanne Porter S Vet 41:22
286 Anja Fechtner S Vet 41:53
287 Claire-Louise Wells S Vet 41:56
295 Jacquie Robson S Vet 42:14
300 Stacey Brannan S Vet 42:37
311 Catherine Smith S Vet 43:56
317 Louise Billcliffe S Vet 44:27
321 Karen Hooper S Vet 45:27
322 Denise Benvin S Vet 45:43
323 Diane Watson S Vet 45:57
334 Helen Allen S Vet 46:51
347 Kerry Lister S Vet 51:14
348 Anita Dunseith S Sen 51:18
353 Claire Galloway S Sen 55:40
354 Laura Jackson S Vet 61:32

* Promoted to Fast Pack

354 finishers.

U17 & U20 Girls
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Lydia Sharpe Durham City Harriers S U20 19:49
27 Sally Hughes F U20 28:02

34 finishers.

U13 Boys
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Ben Wardle Gateshead Harriers S U13 13:51
27 Zak McGowan S U13 16:29

52 finishers.

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Three Shire Fell Race, Monday, September 15, 2014

AL 13m/4000'

Danny Lim

“T’isn’t a fell race till you’ve got sheep’s turd under yer fingernails”. That phrase came to mind as I was holding on for dear life on all fours on the approach to the summit of Wetherlam. Behind was Langdale valley; picturesque and terrifying at the same time. A lady fell-runner was struggling to climb over a large rock. The gentleman behind placed his hand on her bottom and gave her a good shove. “Oh, thank you!” the lady replied gratefully with a hint of embarrassment. A surreal, quintessentially British scene at the mountainside.

For what we are about to receive ...

Grateful at reaching the summit in one piece, I knelt and punched the ground like Iron Man, or more precisely, placed the dibbler through the reader. It was a horrid climb, my calves and thighs were burning from the accumulated lactic acid. I glanced at my Garmin, only 2 miles into this 11 mile race! Not even a parkrun!

Only 30 minutes ago, Mike Hughes and I were at the start, admiring the muscular, sinewy legs of our fellow athletes. We were both a tad nervous. This was my first AL race and one of the Lakeland classics.

It was a hard, hard race, not just because of the distance and elevation. The terrain was often rough, the ground uneven and hidden in a thick layer of vegetation. I had to keep concentrating, it was very easy to go over my ankle. Large crags and boulders were strewn everywhere, some so big I had to scramble down on all fours or find a way around.

But it was a great day out. I was grateful for Mike’s company along the way and it was nice to see a familiar face on the fell side. Though he did motor ahead towards the end. I was just happy to finish.

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Durham Three Peaks, Wednesday, September 3, 2014

2.53M to infinity

Danny Lim

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun. It’s like being a child again. Like all the best children’s games, they have the simplest of rules. The first runner to reach the tops of three local hills and return wins.

As the main horde of runners rushed for the gate, I was feeling rebellious and clambered over the fence. After narrowly missed being run over, I trespassed through Houghall College before reaching a gap in the hedges; seems like everyone had the same idea!

Earlier, I did a recce and had a cunning route in mind. But all that went to pot when I saw Geoff Davies going off-piste up a steep bank, several runners in tow. Like a bull to a rag, I gave chase (Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!). I thought I was being smart by cutting them off, but ended up sloshing around in the mud, wrestling with a pine tree followed by a prickly holly. Eventually, I hacked my way through the undergrowth only to find Geoff barrelling towards me, having already reached the first checkpoint. I charged ahead, only to have an uncomfortably close encounter with Scott Watson in a slap-stick pantomime way.

This set the tone for the rest of the race, with me recklessly making it up as I went along, getting hopelessly disorientated and being afflicted by a minor mishap. I’m sure I would have done a better time if I stuck to my planned route, but I enjoyed getting lost and making friends with the undergrowth. There was something liberating and maybe that’s why it was so much fun! Next year, I’ll stick to my plan (uh huh).

Thanks very much Paul Evans and all the volunteers for such a fun evening.

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Turner Landscape Fell Race, Lake District, Sunday, August 10, 2014

AM / 10.6m / 2986'

Danny Lim

Gale force winds buffeted me in every direction and visibility was down to 50 yards. I was somewhere on the Coniston Masiff, looking for my second elusive checkpoint. This was a world away from the sunny Duddon valley from which I had started an hour ago. The runner ahead was just about visible and I really didn’t want to lose him.

Then through the mist, a lone waif-like figure stood. Facing the blustery wind, he held himself upright with two walking poles. “Well done!” he called out. As I approached, I saw a weathered, gaunt face framed by white eyebrows and a long, narrow nose. His beady eyes carried a piercing gaze, a distinctive look which I recognised instantly. “Joss Naylor?”. “Aye!”, he replied.

It was a surreal moment, meeting him atop a desolate peak in the mist when I least expected it. Here was the legendary “Iron Joss”, breaker of so many course records, some of which still stand decades on. And here he was in his seventies, marshalling a remote checkpoint, encouraging runners including the ones at the back. And all for a good cause, as all race proceeds were going to the Alzheimer’s Society. For a second, I forgot I was in the middle of a race. A quick handshake and I reluctantly carried on.

From Dow Crag looking into Duddon Valley.

I had lost my quarry and found myself alone in the mist. It was a disconcerting feeling, but I carried on in the bearing I was supposed to take. Eventually, I joined a pack of runners and followed them towards the next checkpoint, the summit of Old Man Coniston. On descending from the “Old Man”, I veered away from the main path, followed a sheep trod which eventually petered out. I found myself on the side of a steep, grassy slope dotted with crags and boulders. I also had a great view of the big, precipitous drop into the valley below. As I fumbled through, trying to traverse the slope, I realised that the runners behind had taken exactly the same line. “You don’t have to follow me, I’m making this up as I go!”, I joked. Nobody had a sense of humour.

We soon reached the next checkpoint at Dow Crag before making our way to White Pike, the last climb of the race. From here it was 20 minutes of exhilarating, quick-stepping, knee-jolting descending through the sheep folds towards Turner Farm Hall. What added to the thrill was knowing I was being chased. I had managed to get ahead of the pack and I could intermittently hear heavy footsteps behind. A last cruel perimeter of the field and I was across the finish.

If you have managed several fell races in the North York Moors and want a step up, this will be a good one to try, though navigational skills is a must. I was initially fazed by my fellow runners. They have thighs that show every sinew of muscle, craggy weathered faces, frames devoid of body fat and a determined and confident expression. But everyone really is friendly and up for a bit of banter, especially after the race. This is only the fourth running of this race, but the route is a horseshoe run over a mountain ridge and boasts great views throughout. It certainly has potential to become a Lakeland “classic”.

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