Forest Burn fell race; traditional country fair race of 5.6k/150m climb over gates, pastures, streams, fell. Striders Will Horsley has organised this since 2007; he did everything, taping the course, took entries, ran, sorted results. Simonside Country Fair and hay show (all a tad soggy) small affair with dog show, falconry, wrestling, exhibition tent (victoria sandwiches the size of hay bales), egg throwing. Well attended despite weather. Nice to chat to familiar (running) faces; Stuart of DFR/Quakers? provided registration tent, promoting outdoor clothing, very lightweight down sleeping bags/ gilet. Race is short with little climbing, so good for fell running intro, as well as family day out.
Forest Burn Fell Race, Simonside Country Fair, Sunday, August 12, 2012
BS / 2M / 100' (shortened course)
A herd of bovine muggers lurking out of sight over the brow of the hill awaiting their opportunity to pounce on some unsuspecting human fell runners were outwitted today by race-director Will Horsley who introduced a last-minute change and shortened the course to a 2 mile out-and-back route instead of the 5-ish mile loop we were expecting. He still managed to squeeze in some nettles and thistles, mud, knee-deep river crossing, long grass and low tree branches, and a 100m climb.
It seemed to take longer than the actual time of about a quarter hour so we didn’t feel cheated, and that left more time to enjoy the Simonside Country Fair with its cumberland wrestling, stick dressing, corn grinding, proggy matting,and birds of prey, all in the company of myriad manic dogs of many breeds accompanied by their owners likewise.
A low key event with entry fee purely by voluntary donation in support of the Great North Air Ambulance.
Forest Burn Fell Race, Next to Gate Pub on B6342 south of Rothbury, Monday, December 26, 2011
BS / 5.6km / 152m
I’ve long since learned from adventures such as Wansfell and Roseberry Topping that a short race doesn’t necessarily mean an easy race, and was duly treating Will’s Boxing Day Burn-Off with the respect it deserved. Race length is no indicator of interest either; there are many longer races that are astonishingly dull, yet this short dash around and through Forest Burn is stuffed with variety.
Will was multi-tasking again as we ran up the hill from the start and before long Casper was just a distant yip on the horizon. Last time I ran this it was August 2010 and the vegetation and weather were completely different. One of the enduring attractions of fell races is that they change so much from year to year and season to season whereas tarmac is just, well, tarmac. There was a quirky and fearsome crosswind as we headed into the valley for the first crossing of Forest Burn, then out the other side, up a hill or two, then back to the burn. I then made exactly the same mistake I did last time I did this race. I crossed the burn as soon as I reached it, rather than following, or even noticing, the marker tapes that led alongside the burn to a better crossing point further downriver. I then compounded the error by spotting the marker tapes as I emerged from the burn and headed for them, before quickly realising I was now doing the course backwards. Comparing my gps trails from 2011 and 2010 I can see that I made the identical error each time.
No entry fee, no prizes, just a pint of Theakstons in the Gate pub afterwards. A nice low-key quality event, just how I like them.
Powburn Show Race and Forest Burn, Saturday, August 7, 2010
3.8M 470' & 3.5M 500'
It is impossible to do Fell Races without becoming familiar with Country Shows and their relative merits. Powburn was filled with lots of tough sweaty looking men swaggering around the showground. But enough about the wrestling and onto the Fell Race. Three and a half miles. How hard can it be? I think we can guess the answer to that one. Cramming a lot of variety into a few miles it’s a straight, functional out and back; or out, up, round the flag pole (an NFR vest on a stick), then back down and finish. It seemed I’d hardly started before I met Phil Sanderson coming back home. A nice varied course with a river to ford that certainly has promise if the weather gets damp. After hanging around to watch a bit of the Wellie Hoying competition (or “willie hoying” as my spell checker suggested) it was back down the A1 for a bottle of wine or two to get in the mood for the Forestburn fell race at the Simonside Country Show on Sunday.
My Achilles was a bit hurty and I wasn’t sure whether to start this race. I adopted the Phil Owen policy of dealing with injuries and decided just to ignore it and hope it would go away. And the small print said “beer to all finishers”. Race numbers were in short supply and I didn’t get one. I think it’s because I’m quite famous and recognizable absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my chances of winning anything were, shall we say, slim. The course was clearly marked, which was just as well because before long I had ran out of bodies to follow. (Not because I was so far out in front, just in case you were wondering). In my excitement I crossed the beck where I didn’t need to and gained some nettle stings and lost some places. I spied the bouncy castle of the showground and soon found an NFR vest to follow home.
These short races manage to cram some great larks in half an hour or so and the informality is great. A relaxed stroll around the showground then home to beer, ibuprofen and ice packs.
Forestburn Fell Race, Sunday, August 10, 2008
BS / 5.6km / 150m
Charge of the light brigade (and me)
I was going to do the Darlington 10K on Sunday but I really didn’t fancy another road 10K as I have done a fair few lately. So when I saw Will’s e-mail with this fell race I thought I would give it a go. I arrived at the meeting point, the Gate Pub in an hour before the race. The FRA website said from the gate pub which sounded like a good idea to me. Parked up and wandered up the hill toward the few runners gathered around Will’s car. Said Hello to Will and paid my £3.00 and was given a number that said I was doing an All Terrain even in Hamsterly Forest. Looking around at the few runners present they all had numbers with different events on. The Snape 10, Saltwell Park 10K, Richmond Castle,,,,, but not two alike. ‘Great’ I thought. I can win ‘my’ event!
When I started running a year ago I was worried about coming last in my first few races and as the race time approached, men made out of wire and sinew seem to materialize out of nowhere ready to race. My fears were back. Bloody hell – reckon I weigh more than this lot put together!
Will took about 40 runners over to the start in the next field. As we waited, shotguns started blasting away to our right. This run was meant to be part of the Simonside show but this had been cancelled due to water-logging. This wasn’t going to stop the Farmers blasting Clay pigeons out of the sky though. Will pointed to a bit of ground, and said ‘the starts about here’ to much laughter – told us not to get run over when we crossed the road and its impossible to get lost. Another laugh at this and Will back tracked to say ‘almost impossible to get lost’ with that and a quick shout of ‘GO’ we were off. Now I say ‘we’ but the wire men flew down the field with me trying to hang on in last place. Over a field of high grass, cow pats and thistles we went heading over a small rise and then down to a stream. Through the stream and up the other side. The 2nd last is now 200 meter in front of me. Hell we have only been going a few minutes and my heart was leaping out of my chest! Across another field of long grass and over the deserted road towards the hill. Not a great hill but enough to slow some of the runners down and me to gain a little ground. Overtook a couple of runners and up towards the hill and over the top. The main peloton were only just in sight now and heading back down to cross the stream but in a different place to that which we crossed earlier. As I got down to the stream I totally lost sight of anyone, but a Marshal was there to guide me. I followed her pointed finger, straight through head high bushes and brambles-surely not! Out the other side and had no idea where to go next when I saw another Marshal pointing towards the stream. Waist deep this time and very slippy rocks (later saw a guy with legs like Mandy’s [see Sedgefield report] from a fall here). Up a very muddy bank and over another small hill. No discernible path was visible and I could see no red tape but I could hear Gunfire! Upwards and onwards towards the blasting and I could see the finish with all the wire men looking relaxed and fully rested after finishing some time ago. Not quite last but far back enough to be asked if there was anyone behind me.
God, for a short race that was hard. Give me a half marathon where I can get my pace together any time! Well not really. It was great, finished at a pub and a prize of a bottle of beer! I will definitely be doing more of these despite my lack of speed.
PS. The winner was the same lad who won race the tram and the Stanhope fell and everything else he has entered. He must be getting a bit bored though as he swapped one shoe with his brother just before the race and ran in odd shoes for a laugh.