Tag Archives: Nine Standards

Nine Standards Fell Race, Kirkby Stephen, Tuesday, January 1, 2019

BM 8mile; 549m climb

Nigel Heppell

A straightforward out and back again fell race starting from Kirby Stephen marketplace.
Hosted by Howgill Harriers.


Unusually warm, dry and sunny conditions meant this was a very runnable race.

See if you can work out where the summit lies on the chart below –


1st J Cox (Eden runners) 00:53:17
62 Geoff Davis (NFR) 1:09:08 1st V60
70 Penny Browell 1:10:17
145 Nigel Heppell 1:22:55
166 Dougie Nisbet 1:29:16
196 finishers

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Nine Standards, Kirkby Stephen, Tuesday, January 1, 2013

BM / 8m / 1800'

Dougie Nisbet

Two years’ ago when I last ran this race I had an disturbingly exciting incident in the first mile and had found myself several minutes before the back marker and perilously close to retiring. This year I expected things to be less eventful. We were on holiday in the Lake District so it was an interesting experience to be driving east to get to Kirkby Stephen. Arriving with bags of time in hand I was a little unsettled to see runners clutching their numbers and wandering about with a good hour still to go before kick-off. I checked that the Start Time was indeed noon and headed for registration.

Dougie! Registration was in the Sports and Social Club. How do you know that? Apparantly you just do. In 2011 when I turned up in the Market Square I found registration by trial and error and following people who looked like runners. Top tip to anyone trying this; don’t follow people who already have a number as they’ve already registered – and the first thing everyone does after registration is go for a pee. So you’ll find the toilets, or a rough approximation of them, but not registration.

Once I’d registered I was gently guided to a table festooned with t-shirts. What was going on? Apparantly this was the 25th running of the race and free t-shirts were being issued on a first-come first-served basis. The t-shirts have a picture of the Nine Standards and an abstract representation of the route. It was a really nice touch. A little later as we gathered in the market square the organiser said that we’d be starting a few minutes late due to the large number of entries. No matter, as this fell race out of any race I’ve ever done must have the most convenient public conveniences I’ve ever known, and many runners took the opportunity to wander the 5 yards from the Start to the loos. Well, it’s something to do.

The organiser announced that we had a record-breaking field of 166 runners and a few seconds later 166 runners were trying to squeeze down a narrow staircase, alleyway then footbridge before things opened up. Roberta was here so I paused to put on my happy face, then started moving. I was feeling quite good and optomistic to doing a half-decent time. 166 runners; a lot of them would have hangovers and be once-a-year runners so maybe I’d get a decent position for once.

Shoe choice is tricky in this race. Half of it is on road, a bit is on trail, and a chunk is in on very squashy stuff. I’d opted for my mudrocs having read John Duff’s report from last year, and I think it was the right choice. The Nine Standards appear quite quickly, and appear to get close quite rapidly, but just when they seem to be tantalisingly close, the going gets very soft, and the last mile up to the summit is hard going, especially as by this time the Fast Guys are hurtling back down in your face. I ran hard and steady, out and back, and as I closed down the last few miles I remember thinking that this was an eight mile race, and the distance was beginning to make itself felt.

Over the bridge, up the steps, and the final squeeze through the alleyway to the finish. I leaned against a wall trying to get my breath back, before turning to watch what I’d hoped would be a gratifyingly large number of runners crossing the line behind me. I was in for a shock. This was a quality field – 10 more runners and not many more minutes later, everyone was home. I looked at my time in horrified astonishment; despite running hard and steady, I was almost three minutes slower than two years’ ago, when, much fitter, I’d managed to claw back more places and time after a scarily bumpy start. Must do better.

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Nine Standards Fell Race, Kirkby Stephen, Saturday, January 1, 2011

BM / 8m / 1800'

Dougie Nisbet

Feeling like a naughty child Mr (and Mrs) Dougie hit the A66 westbound to Kirkby Stephen for the Nine Standards Fell Race. I’ve never fancied the ‘long queues’ of Captain Cooks, and Hillforts and Headaches is just a bit too brutal and too short. Besides, I’ve always been a sucker for races with enchanting names and enticing waypoints.

Arriving at Kirkby Stephen I certainly knew I’d crossed the mountains into another valley. Everyone seemed to know everyone else, where to be and where to go except me. I finally found registration in the social club next to the bank and was slightly alarmed to see sinewy athletes earnestly copying route features onto colour-me-in blank maps. Surely we just, you know, went out, up towards them nine pointy things, and came back down again? Was I missing something? Then there was the large sign saying that kit checks would be made at the Start. I was now felling quite uneasy; my kit contained, well, whatever it contained the last time I did a fell race. That could be anything. I’ve not looked in a while …

At the Start I was comforted to see Denise Tunstall from DFR. Finally a familiar face. She’s an old hand at this race and gave me some top tips. I was delighted to see that as 95 runners lined up to start, there was one slightly mystified but curious old wifie who was out for her paper had paused to watch what was going on. That was the crowd. This was a proper fell race.

A mile into the race, climbing hard and about a dozen places from the back I was where I expected to be. Easing of a little before a kissing gate I paused for a bit of a productive cough and was startled when it transformed into a spasm of pain that travelled right down my back and thankfully stopped before it got anywhere embarrassing. I stopped in my tracks, breathless and terrified. The marshalls were watching me closely as I leaned against the fence making shouty noises that even Alister Robson would have nodded at with approval. Things settled down and I pulled myself together and realised that I wasn’t about to die, but had just got unlucky with a cough and a sore back that had rather melodramatically decided to meet on a blind date. I told the marshalls I’d walk a little then see how I felt. By the this time I was about three minutes behind the back marker and was beginning to regret my disdain at paying so little regard to the course map.

I walk/jogged the next mile trying to decide whether I’d retired or not, and at the top of a brae I surveyed the scene ahead. I could see the nine-standards, and, oh joy, I could see the back marker. He was about 3 minutes ahead and wearing a bright yellow top with the words “Do you feel lucky, punk?” on the back. I was good to go. One of the great things about being at the back of the field is the only way is up. Quite literally in the case of Nine Standards.

If you’ve not done this race before it’s a good run. Probably far more tarmac than you’re expecting, but a nice distance; not too long, not too short. And there’s something rather special about running around the summit before a grand charge back home.

Watching the prize ceremony over a cup of soup and a pint of Guinness, there was laughter at the announcement that there’d been 95 finishers, with 94 runners counted around the Standards. The ladies team prize looked like it’d be unclaimed, but two teams of two ladies held up their hands, the prize going to Todmorden, because they’d travelled the furthest! Executive decision making at its best.

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