Tag Archives: Jack Lee

British Fell Relay Championships 2018, Grasmere, Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fiona Brannan, Geoff Davis, Jack Lee, Mark Warner, Nigel Heppell, Paul Evans

Leg 1; Mark Warner, solo, 5 miles, 2400 ft

I love running and I love mountains but for some reason, I rarely combine the two, so when Paul Evans put a call out for an Elvet Striders team for the ‘British Fell and Hill Relay Championships‘ in the Lakes, it seemed like an opportunity to combine the two. I had put myself forward for the first leg, as I had to be back in Durham for work later in the day. More experienced members of our team helped check I had the right kit to carry around with me, gave me a map and some last minute fell running tips and before I knew it, we were being herded into the starting pen.

Without having considered a race plan, the gun went off and on a spur of the moment decision; I thought it might be fun to ‘blast’ the first field. Zoom, I was off! Head of the pack – Elvet Striders leading the race! But crikey, before I knew it, I had lactic burning like I’d just raced an 800m on the track. Then we started going up – I’ve never run on anything like it; about 3 miles up – getting steeper all the way. The everlasting incline was no place to be trying to clear the lactic acid, my heart and lungs were on fire. This was not running, as I know it; folks were pulling themselves up the mountain on tufts of grass, or rocks – whatever you could grasp. As the race got higher we entered the clouds and visibility was very poor – I was just trying to keep someone close by as I hadn’t really entertained trying to navigate too, but at some point, I reached the summit and then we were heading down.

Through reading, and some of Geoff’s off-road sessions, I know the theory of running downhill (switch off brain, lean forward, don’t brake) but can I put it into practice? – err, no! The whole way down the mountain, despite trying to relax, I was clearly thinking too much and leaning back and braking – my quads were taking such a hammering (5 days after the race, writing this, I still can’t walk properly) but it certainly was exhilarating. After 3 miles of heart and lung burning going up, this was 2 miles of slipping and sliding my way down.

Back to the starting field after handing over to Jack and Fiona, I managed a brief catch up with the rest of the team and used my token for some hot food and drink before heading home. I had a great day – I love the variety of running, but I always seem to enjoy the day more when it’s a team event or relay, it really brings you together.

Leg 2, Jack Lee and Fiona Brannan, paired, 6,7 miles, 2800 ft

Jack: “So that’s what you call dibbing!”

I have never understood fair weather running. Heat makes me overheat while I find a drizzly, windy and generally just a bit crap day brings out my best. I was probably at close to my best at the relays and still I had no chance of keeping up with Fiona on the downs. (Fiona: I’m not a great fan of the ‘up’ part, but I really, really like the ‘down’…)

Our leg of the relays started with some shouts that Mark had been spotted and a fast run away from the line, only to be quickly assaulted by the fells. Usually, the ascent tires me out but today I just plodded on surprised by how easy it was going. (Fiona: it’s true, I’m not much good at ‘up’) Leg 2 started with the ascent of Great Rigg and then Fairfield from Grasmere, and after that it becomes a bit of a blur.

Fiona and I spent 50 minutes trudging up Fairfield with the occasional jog on the flatter section; it was a bit damp but the effort kept us warm, however, when we got to the top the cold wind cut through my clothing. You could get cold very fast if you stayed still but fortunately after a slower start Fiona had found her legs (Fiona: have I mentioned I don’t like the ‘up’ parts?!) and it was all I could do to keep up with her. The next half an hour was one of the most frenetic (Fiona: I think he means fun and exciting!) of my life. I leapt over rocky escarpments, slid down bog on my backside and waded streams all at a frenzied pace just to keep up. I have never descended so fast and was pushing my limits; quite a few times I placed my foot on muddy paths of steep slopes for my footing to go. I was, after all, in a pair of borrowed shoes, as I had forgotten mine. I owe Nigel my eternal thanks and a beer sometime for the loan of shoes. (Fiona; our split times on this section are somewhat more impressive than the ascent, and we managed to gain around 30 places here so must have been doing something right!)

Photograph courtesy of Beau Dog Photography

Eventually, as must happen, the slope became shallower but this just encouraged Fiona to up the pace, so I dug deep and used all the pace I had left just to keep up and after a treacherous descent over the final muddy field (onlookers hoping for exciting slips and falls!) we sprinted in just ahead of fell running legend Angela Mudge and her partner from Carnethy. We tagged Paul and Geoff and our job was done.

Leg 3; Geoff Davis and Paul Evans; paired ca. 6-7 miles, 3000 ft, navigation leg

Having done the fell relays a couple of times before, both times leg 2, 2018 saw me decide to push out of my comfort zone a little and take on leg 3 with the guiding hand of the veteran Geoff D to keep me right and deflect my natural inclination to take route alpha at all opportunities; essentially, I was there to push the pace and to learn, he there to ensure sanity and to guide me in the subtle art of efficient hill running. This played out as follows on a leg of 7 miles and c3000 feet:

Start – CP1: fast start along a lane away from the event field, having been tagged by Fiona and Jack. Easy running on tarmac, then sharp bend upwards to a pair of marshals who hand us our maps of the control locations. A quick glance at the map and it becomes apparent that Geoff’s talents will be of use, as my urges are to go up and over, whilst he takes us nicely up the side of a fast-flowing beck, twisting up the valley over slippery rocks and through bracken to arrive at a stream junction and CP1, other teams arriving and departing rapidly.

CP1-2: the fun starts here, as we exit northeast, traversing up a hill into the low cloud. We follow a sheep trod, and other teams also, then it all becomes very puzzling as we arrive at a tarn that isn’t on the map, but with a saddle that definitely is. We know we’re somewhere around Heron Pike and then, Eureka! Unsurprisingly, the only such body of water on the map is, we realise, where we must be even if we’d been further up the hill, as we’d assumed, and therefore closer to our destination. We lose a good few minutes pondering this, though it turns out, race leaders Keswick lose even more (and, in the process, the overall race). Upwards, over the ridge, downwards, aiming for another stream junction with a sheepfold beyond; I suggest we simply follow the stream to our left and make up for my error with the tarn to an extent by this proving correct, albeit with an element of luck. Dibbed, and done.

CP2-3: easy – take a bearing and follow it, climb gently, descend gently onto a Land-Rover track and the next control, with marshals huddled in a tent.

CP3-4-5-end: easy navigation, but straight up and over, a long line of ant-like figures ascending into the heavens/cloud above us. This gets chilly, and I push the pace fairly hard as we use all limbs to get us up to the very runnable ridgeline, where we make up a few places before contouring around a valley head and then dropping sharply through endless greasy bracken, broken earth and unseen rocks. There are now teams to our left and right, some of them last seen on the climb, some not seen previously. We hit the stream, cross it and then have a choice – up and over or veer round to our left then back right again, adding 300m but taking out the climb. Geoff prefers the latter, so we do it and meet at the next control the teams who entered the water with us: no advantage either way until we then race them downhill on a firm track and realise we have more in our legs, taking out 4-5 further teams. By now the back of the leg is broken and we’re heading home, a little climb taken with aggression and then the final run-in down churned, slippery tracks, CP5 hit, then fields, control on the descent limited and Geoff slipping ahead as I’m just rubbish on this terrain. We re-enter the final field and Geoff’s driving hard and not looking back, knowing I’ll go all-in to catch him again, which I do before we hit the line and tag Nigel. Job done, baton not lost, lessons in the art of navigation on the move gained. Here goes Nigel…

Leg 4; Nigel Heppell, solo, 4.3 miles, 2000 ft

Leg 4 – known as the ‘glory’ leg; also suitable for 16yr olds – I’m well
over-qualified!

Standing for several hours in a field on a wet Lakes day while legs 1,2
and 3 take place, I try to keep as much clothing on as possible before
getting down to race kit and entering the holding pen in what I think
should be a reasonably short time before Geoff and Paul appear for the
handover at the end of their navigation leg. Such is the calibre of the
superstars of the fell running world that the loudspeakers let us all
know the relay has actually been won before half the field even set off
on the last leg and there is a 5min call for the mass start. Peering
into the distant murk, I spot the unmistakable gait of an HH top leading
Paul down the final slope and into the funnel and then it’s my turn to go
off up the lane with a grateful lead on the pack behind.

The official route description says it all; narrow lane; cross beck;
path up to tarn; big zig- zags on climb; scenic dash
around tarn; cross wall; stiff ascent of Heron Pike; nothing to see now
as we enter the cloud base shrouding the tops; onto Fairfield Horseshoe
race line; contour below summit of Great Rigg; speedy contouring descent
onto summit of Stone Arthur; exit cloud cover; hair-raising descent down
leg 2 ascent path; and back into the event field.

On the climb up I very soon hear the sounds of the pack gaining
on me; one or two lanky types begin to lope past; then a whole bundle go
through – I guess the fitter club runners who were held back by the late
arrival of their leg3 runners – then I seem to hold my position; ascent
of Heron Pike is just plain hard work; a bit chastened to be steadily
overtaken by what appears to be a classrooms-worth of school children
but then things level off and we get running again. A few of us trade
places once or twice along the contour and then the fun starts as
gravity kicks in. It always amazes me how timid some become on a descent
over rough ground and now it’s my turn to overtake; beyond Stone Arthur
the slope increases dramatically and keeping a foothold is marginal at
best; no way of slowing down without a fall so go for it, trying not to
wipe out runners caught in front; through hole in wall and into final
descent of event field; others say this is really steep and slippery but
it feels quite relaxed after what went before and I again have to expend
energy running into the finish.

For the road runners amongst you, I ran this at a pace of 15min/mile –

For the fell runners, my rate of ascent was a lowly, but fairly steady
60’/min; and my rate of descent was largely 200-220’/min.

[Footnote – The photograph of Jack and Fiona was generously provided by Beau Dog Photography. There is no oblligation but if you would like to make a donation to the Phabkids then please follow the link and give from as little as £2. Thank you https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lee-and-Sarah ]

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Roseberry Topping Fell Race, Newton under Roseberry, Great Ayton, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

AS/2.3km/217m

Jack Lee

A long race report feels inappropriate for what is a short sharp and largely chaotic race. For these reasons, it has earned its place as one of my favourites. More expensive per mile than GNR and London but home cooked flapjacks at the end and almost as many spot prizes as runners.

I drove down from Durham and turned up at just after 6 pm (an hour before the start) and met up with Fiona. We then hiked up Roseberry Topping scoping out the route and trying “the Shoot” on the way down and deciding that if we were being competitive then a nearly vertical slope of mud and grass was not the way to go.

Pretty soon after we were lined up for the start of the race amiably chatting with some Eskvalley Runners. When the race began we sprinted for the hill but this soon turned into trudging up the steep slopes with hikers looking bemused as we passed. My face was red and my heart hammering. I could still feel my circuit training from Monday in my legs.

Fiona was constantly taking time out of me, building a lead of probably 30 seconds by the top.

The top is a surreal moment; the edge of the North York Moors laid out in front of me but I had to get myself together in a second and chuck myself back off the precipice.

On the downhill, all hell broke loose with runners still ascending, other descending and hikers caught in the middle. I threw caution to the wind and started to make time on Fiona. Second by second I reeled her in. I thought if I could get within the striking on the final straight, I would have a chance. She, however, didn’t comply and sprinted off beating me comfortably coming just ahead of the second lady.

Afterwards, I ate flapjacks and got a spot prize (my first ever!), when the organisers asked: “who hasn’t got a prize?” I was tired and hurting but happy.

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Lakes Alive Festival – Wolfing down the miles, Friday, September 7, 2018

Jack Lee

I feel that the Elvet Striders have taken part of some odd and wacky events over time but it isn’t often that you get to impersonate a wolf for a weekend, so when Stuart Scott forwarded me an appeal for fell runners to impersonate wolves for the Lakes Alive festival, I applied.

At this point, I never foresaw actually doing the event. And so it was, with a fair bit of trepidation, that I donned my wolf cape and wolf head and set off on the Friday morning.

The event was part of the Lakes alive festival starting at Humphrey Head (the location of the last wolf in Britain) and running to Kendal. Over the space of three days the wolves had a lot to do. The aim of the game was for the public to come and “hunt” the wolves, which essentially involved members of the public trying to photograph the wolves and the wolves being elusive and evasive. The second day, however, involved a staged event where the public were ferried out to Mill Side and had a close encounter with the wolves but I am getting ahead of myself.

Anyway getting back on track, at 8 am on Friday the 7th of September, myself and three other fell runners from Sheffield set off from Humphrey Head, making the excursion through Allithwaite, Cartmel and Lindale over the space of the day. Each time we saw humans we skulked and hid in the shadows, but not well enough that they didn’t get a sighting. This, combined with howling on hilltops and relative gentle progress, marked a relatively casual first day, which ended in a bunkhouse in Mill Side eating good food and drinking a couple of beers with the trackers turned off.

The next day was focussed on the exhibition events where members of the public were ferried out to Mill Side for two events; one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Early in the morning, the wolf pack set off for an hour or so run, over Whitbarrow where at approximately 11.30am we emerged from mists on the top and howled while visible to the people sheltering in the hide below. We then set off leaping rocks and pieces of broken limestone pavement and throwing ourselves down a steep slope to appear fifteen minutes later around a staged “kill” (in reality a deerskin and head). We approached carefully checking for danger while rubbing scent onto a couple of trees and getting our legs torn to pieces by brambles. Then after a while feasting on deer, all our heads went up in unison and we scampered off into the undergrowth. Only to reappear in the afternoon to go through it all again.

It was after this second performance that my time as a wolf came to an end and after some dinner, I got a lift back to Kendal to spend some time with my brother and father. The next day, however, I decided that the hunted would become the hunter. Not many people had been actively hunting the wolves during the first few days so after a coffee in Kendal I donned my running kit and grabbed my phone and the hunt began. The game platform was composed of a website with a live tracking display of the wolves’ locations, but to access this you had to share your location and I knew from experience as a wolf that if a hunter got within 200m then the wolves would be pinged an alert.

The wolves at this time were on Scout Scar and from my cunning and the route map, I had accidentally kept, I figured out I could cut them off as they circled Kendal from the west. I legged it up Underbarrow roads and waited near the top, but a game of cat and mouse ensued.

The wolves dodging other hunters repeatedly cut up and down the hillside meaning I kept overshooting or dropping short with only a few long distance sightings. I decided to relocate to the Kendal golf course where, hiding behind a wall lying fully prone, I got some photographs of the wolves passing. After a bit of a chase, we then met down in Kendal and I joined them for a final jog to the main staging point of the Lakes Alive festival. We were accompanied by a group of kids dressed up in wolf costumes of their own. All that was left after that was to wolf down some biscuits and a cup of coffee provided, then I left the pack and set off as a lone wolf.

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Swaledale Marathon – Jack’s story, Swaledale, North Yorkshire, Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. 23 miles

Jack Lee

The Swaledale Marathon like any decent run ends up as a story. This will be the story of how I started full of energy, in a rain jacket with a pack full of gels and water and ended up exhausted, sprinting through Reeth and soaked to the skin in just a Striders vest. However, if you ask any who ran or spectated that day they will give you their stories; most of those are shared with friends such as Camilla and Kathryn, Tim and Phil or Gareth and Stephen and many others. While I rarely ran with other Striders I made many friends who shared my struggle and who while I might never know their names I shall never forget.

Swaledale might not be on the FRA calendar but it has one thing in common with the fell races I have ran…it started with a long, steep and painful ascent. This was towards Fremington Edge and while I had told myself and others before I would stay with friends (Jon and Elaine were the ones I was thinking of) I found that my regimen of strength and core training meant I floated up the hill. I looked into Jon’s eyes on the way up and knew that I was too strong to hold myself back. What had felt like a tough start the year before seemed like a jog down to the shops for milk and so I struck off on my own ahead into a windy and rainy new adventure.

Stephen, Michael and Gareth had gone off in their triumvirate but I became the fourth strider running with a group across the top of Fremington and down into the next valley towards Whaw. An increasingly terrifying gap behind meant that the little group I was in became my new comrades and I had to keep the legs turning over to keep up. It wasn’t difficult but I always feared for later as I had barely held onto consciousness last year in the final mile and didn’t fancy going through that again. I kept up through the valley and up towards Great Punchard Head where we lost a few on the climb, at this point I was with a few other men and the first lady (checking the results her name was Amy and she ran for Rugby and Northallerton). She floated up Punchard…I don’t think I ever saw her walk and we were together for 12 or so miles including all the hard work up Great Punchard Head. I ran almost all that uphill as well with only short stops to walk and make sure I didn’t get ahead as I hadn’t recce’d Punchard as thoroughly as possible.

 

After a while we made it to the bog and I am not sure how any of us made it through that mass of muddy holes and collapsing paths. It had been raining pretty consistently since the start of the race and by now we were all sodden and the coarse was soaked through from current rain and that in the week before; wet bog is a beast of its own but we fought through mile after mile of tough track and a few self-clip points later and one manned clip point we came to the last self-clip on Punchard. My group had whittled down to myself, another guy who seemed nice and Amy (who glided as if on road). She later told me at one point it was her second time doing Swaledale and that she was a road runner by trade. Considering her nav (thumbing the map as she went) and her strength I would recommend a change of focus. Anyway we reached the final self-clip on Punchard to find a very wet looking group of three clipping at which point Michael turned around and greeted me. We had run the fell so well that we had caught up to Michael, Stephen and Gareth apparently.

 

This was the start of the downhill towards Gunnerside and when I said to my new friend that these three were some of the fastest in my club she turned to me and said only “you have them”. Encouraged by this I quickly over took Gareth who was busy writing a determined story of his own (albeit maybe not the happiest of tales). When the navigation went a bit awry I took the rest of them and went down towards Gunnerside. While there I did the manned clip and started tactically stripping…I was too hot in the rain jacket and the rain was down to a mere drizzle for the first time since the start of the race. My new friends left ahead and I was left with Michael, with Stephen and Gareth behind. Michael and I started the uphill out of Gunnerside and he stayed with me for a bit until I said something like “Michael, I have run the race of my life but there is not much left and I know the rest of the route…leave me, I will be fine”. So hesitantly he did.

 

I don’t know how I got through the rest of the miles but I did. I thought I could see Michael’s luminous jacket ahead although it turned out it was someone else and he was actually well ahead overtaking everyone and their mothers. I ran as the rain and wind came back to lash at my Strider’s vest. I fell after surrender bridge while in a small gulley and just remember getting up and thinking that I couldn’t stop. My leg had cramped but I though hiking out of the gulley would stretch it out. I was in a bad way at this point with no strength left although I was fairly conscious at least.

 

I kept going and after seeing Jan’s husband I made my way down the lane of loose rocks with the last self-clip and came out into Reeth where a small crowd with a few cheering Striders (Joanne and Lesley come to mind) coaxed a pseudo-sprint out of me. It felt like a sprint to me but for all I know it could have looked more like a waddle. Everyone else turned up in layers at the least and mostly in rain jackets but I must have looked a sight in only shorts and a soaked vest. I got to the finish line, gave in my card and went for food. I had finished 14th in 3 hours and 36 minutes. 7 minutes quicker than last year in much worse conditions and 37 places higher. With food I sat down and made merry…job done.

 

Well done to everyone who ran a tough and wet Swaledale this year with a special mention to Michael Mason (6th), Elaine Bisson (3rd Female) and the Men’s Team (2nd). An honourable mention to everyone who spectated as well who waited in the rain while we had all the “fun”.

Results available here

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Eric North Memorial Calderdale Way Relay – Leg 5, Wainstalls, Halifax, Sunday, May 21, 2017

7.55 miles

Jack Lee

In honesty it shouldn’t have surprised me that what had started over a year before and eventually developed into a determined pact between two men to come back and conquer a fell race ended in a roar of noise. That noise for the most part was Mark “encouraging” me (not so gently) up the hill towards the final lane and the finish not far beyond. Besides the noise what I remember is mostly made up of fragments of images and a feeling of overwhelming tiredness as I pushed my body to its limit. I felt I had long since passed what should have been my limit but a year’s work is not something to be thrown away easily and the end was all but in sight. So I ignored the fatigue, the pain and the cowardly voice in my head calling for an end to the first two and pumped my legs.

 

This feat of probable stupidity had started a year before when Mark and I, without any idea of where we were going, ran the 5th leg of the Calderdale Way Relays from Wainstalls to Shelf and by divine luck and following people who looked like they knew what they were doing made a good fist of it all; coming in a just a minute over the hour cut off for that leg. We probably could have left it at that and walked away heads held high but I think we are both more than a bit stubborn and we made a pact to try it the next year but this time having recced the course. It took us until the Tuesday before to get out and figure out where we would be going on the race day and there was quite a comparison between our amicable lope over the hills to Wainstalls and then back again to Shelf and the actual race day. It took over three hours and involved a fair amount of time lost, especially at the start. In the end what should have been 15 miles ended up nearer to 17.5 and the light was almost gone but the fire in our stomachs burned all the brighter.

 

Nothing Mark and I do can never be easy and we both did our best to ruin the start of the race with Mark turning up in the nick of time 15 minutes after registration should have ended and my bambi on ice moments in the first mile. The mass start of the race was hectic with not so much warning of the start as a shout from the marshals that the race had started. We all hurriedly dashed off with Mark and me falling into place as the third pair (we would finish 2nd from the mass start by the end). The crush of people meant I wasn’t getting much time to see my foot placements and after five or so minutes I did what I had feared and rocked a bit over on my left ankle. The day before, however, in a rare moment of insight I had bought an ankle support which probably saved our race and after a few limping strides I managed to get running again. At this point we were on the first of the three most trying climbs of the route up a grassy and mucky slope through farm fields to the farm buildings themselves. Here we pushed, keeping up with those around. Until we happily crested the hill and started down a long grassy descent a long what might be an old mining track to the outskirts of a small village.

 

I felt Mark pushing and it was all I could do to keep up with him. Generally either one of us could be ahead on the uphill, the downhills were my ground but on the flat I felt like a sailor without a boat…desperately trying to keep afloat. It continued like this for a good while with a few scrambles through fields and the odd chance to throw ourselves through small gaps in the walls until we reached the longest climb. It started with a steep road section which I happily ran. In the recce we had agreed that both of us could walk and run the loose track afterwards (still steep as anything) but Mark was obviously feeling in fine fettle (see the next photo) and dragged me up at a slow jog with him, passing a few groups with batons on the way. At the top we met two ladies one of which appeared to be very tired and her partner (obviously the fitter) was pressing ahead. We had a brief section of flat…Mark sped up, but I knew after that there was a tight squeeze through a gate and a downhill section. The fitter of the two women was battling to stay ahead of me, however, and I had to call most of my strength just to dive through entrance before her even though her partner was a fair distance behind.

 

The downhill was a relief and for a while I could be the one pushing but what goes downhill in fell running quite often has to go back up and after crossing a small stream we had a short steep climb into a quaint hamlet before a very steep and grassy climb. I had to warn Mark as he tried to miss the turning towards this horrific slope. By this time it was just us and Team 7 (Baildon Runners). We had been nearby each other all the way through the race and now as the end was in sight we both took chances to try and break away from each other. First came their attempt after the grassy slope on the still uphill but not as steep lane and then one of Mark’s shortly after. I pushed and pushed determined not to be holding him back. After a few fields and lanes we came out onto a road just above Shelf and Mark roared into action sailing down the hill and I went with him.

 

It was the uphill shortly afterwards where he started encouraging me enthusiastically, with the two others behind us mirroring. As Mark shouted “Come on Jack” we could hear from behind “Come on Eoin”. I am going to be honest that the climb felt slow. I later found out that we had done the last half a mile in about three minutes. Mark had splits in pen on his arm and he neglected to mention that while we had been 35 or so seconds up on last year at one point we had lost that before the last mile and a half. After what felt like an eternity of torment we came to the turning and I all but sprinted down the lane. I remember a flash of the paving stones and one of the pair behind shouting “30 seconds”. We burst out of the laneway to happy faces and I pumped one fist in the air as I stopped my timer on 59.37. The later results are wrong and still say 1.01 to my chagrin. We had done it and given Louise and Keith a 10 second or so head start on the pack, which was hard earned and I suspect we will never get thanked for…

 

It does look like it was drinks and smiles all around at the rugby club in Halifax but I had already headed off for a few days in the Lakes.

 

 

 

Results are available to download here

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James Herriot Trail Race, Castle Bolton, Wensleydale, Sunday, July 31, 2016

CM / 8.5 miles / 1000 feet

Jack Lee

Photo of Jack, Geoff and Susan.In a week that had already been packed full of running I found myself standing at the start line to the James Herriot Country Trail Run chatting to Geoff Davis and Penny Browell, Susan Davis having dropped back a bit further from the start line. In an instant chatting turned into a frenetic mayhem as the announcer suddenly started the race and a few hundred bodies set off in the same direction at very different paces. The first section must have been 500m or so but took the runners through Castle Bolton and up to the start of the fields and the first climb. The next kilometre was a climb up through fields and small tracks during which I chased a small group of 6-7 men with a Quaker Runner at the tail hoping that they could shield me from the wind buffeting all of us and threatening to blow my number back down to Castle Bolton. It wasn’t long into this climb that my lungs were hurting but almost everyone nearby was puffing like a steam locomotive and those that weren’t were walking. For me it was a matter of digging in, steeling myself mentally and keeping the knees high and legs pumping.

After what seemed like an age with too many false horizons we reached one of North Yorkshire’s typical flat topped fells and the race continued along the spine of the fell, the terrain now undulating with a slight incline. Now it was a matter of holding my place against the attacks from runners behind and staying as near to the Quaker Runner ahead as possible but while I kept most runners behind, besides the odd man storming by at a rate of knots, I lost ground to the runners ahead when I went over slightly on my right ankle again, a problem that has plagued me at almost every recent race. Soon the next stage could be seen, a steep descent followed by what looked like a painfully sharp ascent. The descent came soon after a water station where I failed in attempt to get a cup, when I made a grasp for the one cup the woman offered the other and withdrew the one I was aiming for. It felt like I was flying down the descent with my feet barely touching the ground and arms no longer pumping but aiding balance, there is nothing more satisfying then free distance but soon after the steep climb started it steepened even to the point where at the top I walked a few yards.

After what was the last major climb of the race the rest was mostly downhill on good trail, with gravity doing most of the work until the last 3 or so miles where the course flattened and headed on back to Castle Bolton. At this point I was on my own (or so I thought) I could see the man from the Quaker Running Club 150m ahead and I had left another runner, who had been attacking on the top of the fell, during the descent. So coming up to the last water station I was very surprised when the 1st lady shot into my peripheral vision to get a drink. I then decided to make the most of her water stop and shoot off as fast as my tired legs would take me towards the finish and it worked for a time until with a little less than a mile left she overtook me going at what must have been a min/mile quicker, I had no chance of rebuffing such an attack and she even ended up taking the Quaker Runner ahead by the end as well. For me the race was just a procession to the finish line with a token sprint put in for good measure. What had started in a whirlwind of frenetic energy now ended up in a calm manner for the most part, with runners who were usual quite strung out came across the line. The only excitement was seeing Penny and Geoff coming towards the line, Geoff behind at this point but with a cheeky smile which spoke volumes. I could see that he fancied his chances of an overtake and our mudman didn’t disappoint using all his experience, cunning and competitiveness to pull off a perfect overtake and win the battle of the Striders. A bit late the mudwoman finished to take 2nd in her age category rounding off a thoroughly testing but enjoyable day out in Yorkshire.

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Weasdale Horseshoe, Ravenstonedale Show Field, Newbiggin on Lune, Saturday, August 20, 2016

BM / 8.7m / 2001ft

Jack Lee

“It’s a wonderful day in the West Dales” I tell myself as the wind and rain slam into my body so hard that it makes me stumble on the final ascent of Randygill Top (624m). The rain feels like needles on my face as I pump my legs up the steep bank with my hands pushing my legs down to help power me upwards. Any fatigue and pain in my muscles hidden by the pain; all my clothing had long since been soaked through.

The day had started with optimism, Mike Hughes and I discussing in the back of the car the likelihood of good weather during the race. As we got closer to Ravenstonedale the weather got steadily worse until it was clear the rain was set in for the day. When we reached the agricultural show, the race was starting from, we found registration in a metal horsebox next to the start line and a couple tents were set up next to the horsebox for runners to hide under. We retired to the car to change with both Geoff and I opting to wear our vests and numbers over rain jackets with Mike and Susan opting to wear theirs underneath and flash their numbers at the marshals as they ran by.

Mike electing for wearing the outside in.After sometime spent hiding from the rain waiting for a married couple from the Howgill Harriers to turn up before the race could begin the race started at a fast gallop and I remember hoping that the pace would drop soon which it fortunately did. The first mile or so felt more like cross country then a fell race with mud and a few streams to cross. I stepped in a puddle that looked shallow but went halfway up my shin. It wasn’t long though until the ascent of Hooksey began with most runners alternating between a jog on the reasonable sections and a quick hike with arms pumping legs on the steeper sections. It took a while after that but eventually Hooksey was conquered and I could set my gaze to Randygill Top, well I would have if rain had allowed me to see straight. In reality I was trying to blink away the stinging drops of rain, running with my eyes half closed. I had started with a compass in one hand and map in the other, attempting to “thumb” the map as I went but I had good idea of the route from looking at it in the car so by this point had shoved the map in my pocket

Suddenly the land dropped away with a steep descent and an equally steep ascent up a rough grass track with muddy foot holes worn in. Fortunately, however, the climb didn’t last too long and soon I was shouting (the wind was very loud) my number at the marshals while trying to run off in the wrong direction with another runner called Brian, we were soon pointed East towards Green Bell (605m). The wind that had been in my face the whole climb was now at my back and I was able to stride downhill and then was blown the whole way up to the top of Green Bell. After Green Bell the descent started in earnest. It was glorious, a chance to stride downhill over grass and rocky tracks, that were more like fast-running becks. This is where the true fell runners I had been ahead of up to then gained twenty or so yards. When we got back to the mile or so “cross country” section that had been the start I had to stop twice to tie my shoelaces and lost a minute or so and two hard earned places.

Tentus not-erectus.At this point I had been running in tough (to say the least) conditions for over an hour and was beginning to run out of puff. I had been feeling strong up until this point but now was feeling the fatigue set in. Lucky for me it wasn’t far to the finish line, even though the last hundred metres was uphill and I finished in 1hr 16m (and 19s). After a quick jog to Geoff and Susan’s car I grabbed my phone and went back to the start line to see if I photo the other’s finishing moments. There was no point changing clothes as the rain was still heavy enough that anything I put on would have been drenched before I made it back to the car again. I found Geoff had already finished and we waited for the other two. Soon Susan came storming (which seemed appropriate) through to the finish line and at the same time the tent was blown from above myself and Geoff’s heads, narrowly missing a woman with a child in her arms. Mike came over the line half a minute later. Then after warming up, drying off and some food we head for home. The conditions had been a through test of determination and fitness but I never gave up and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of what was my first proper fell race (Swaledale doesn’t count apparently).

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Catpos Time
1 Todd Oates Ambleside AC MOpen 01:05:43
14 Jack Lee MOpen 01:16:19
18 Nina Walkingshaw Howgill Harriers FOpen 01:19:27
29 Geoff Davis NFR MV50 01:23:17
47 Susan Davis NFR FV50 01:36:40
48 Mike Hughes MV40 01:37:11

56 finishers

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