Black Combe race report
“Is a green and blue vest faster than a brown, purple and yellow one?”
(and more importantly does it look as good?)
A few England Athletics based faffs and letters later (in an only slightly convoluted fashion I’m a member of 3 different running clubs, one for every occasion) and I was ready to make my debut. With the Edale Skyline being in March it was a great opportunity to start my Ambleside career with a Champs race on my former home soil, and contribute to Captain Jack’s plans of world domination. Then I remembered that I’m a wimp and that I don’t do long races, so instead I pencilled in the much more enjoyable (to me anyway) Black Combe on the day before.
It was ideal race conditions, vest and shorts weather but impossible to see anything for 70% of the race, just what you want when you’ve bothered to do a recce. The fields at the start were a bit of a slog but I didn’t feel too bad climbing up to Seaness and just about got there at the front. Heading up the main track I felt really good and ran every step up to the summit, getting a bit of a lead in the process.
When I recce’d the route I probably had about 5 sit downs and a picnic on the second climb up Black Combe, it’s horrendously brutal and I can probably count the number of steps I ran up it using one hand, unfortunately a cheeky look back over my shoulder had revealed Ali McLeod about a minute behind me at the stream crossing so I had to resist the urge to have a little lie down in the increasingly painful yet ever-comfier looking moss and just plough on up the hill.
After about 3 hours (it may have been less) of climbing I was delighted to find a bit of rocky ground that I knew was just round from the cairn. Over to the checkpoint and I finally let myself start enjoying it a bit. A small part of me thought about just relaxing for the last downhill but there’s a descent record down to the bottom which I had been eying up a little bit. I managed to get a good line to the track and then it was a matter of just flogging myself all the way down. 8:44 to Nic Barber’s 8:20 from 2014. Damn (my excuse is that I tried too hard on the climb up to it, next year I’m gunna jog round the rest of the course and save myself for the down). But I did hold on for the win, every cloud and all that.
Apologies that Jack made me write this (I don’t remember it being included in my contract negotiations, next he’ll be wanting me to do long races too) but I hope you enjoyed at least some of it.
Matt Elkington (Kenilworth Runners/Ambleside AC/Hoad Hill Harriers)