In a late change of plan, the eagerly awaited return of the club uphill champs race is upon us…
An uphill only, set course ‘time trial’ format for Club Championship points. Runners will set off in 1 minute intervals and race to the top of Pavey Ark via the Langdale race route (almost). Tricky parts of the route will be flagged
Starts at the Stickle Barn, Langdale
Arrive whenever suits, start times from 6.45pm to 7.30pm
Please bring full FRA kit. In the interests of fairness, everyone will be required to carry the same, dependent on the weather on the night. There will be a check before you set off
Club members or friends of the club aged 16 or over
Free as part of your membership of The Greatest Fell Running Club in the World
I do need at least 1 person to walk up at 6ish and put a few flags out, then do times on the summit. Alternatively this job could be split between 2 (or more!) people. Any other volunteers could be based around the tarn as a halfway marshal.
The sun, as is traditional, shone on Stair for Causey race on Saturday, warming the muck on the parking field to a fine aroma. A few Amblesiders rolled up and with Harry Shuell looking keen we remembered the victorious 2017 Causey team – unfortunately Joe Mann was recovering from jetlag and couldn’t make it this year. We warmed up, double checked the route and Harry had a gel. He’d regret that in about twenty minutes’ time.
As the minutes ticked towards 2pm, runners gathered by the bridge. The field was huge, with a lot of Northern Fells and CFR vests. It turned out they were both out for club champs, contributing to the total field of 152. The pace was fairly gentle up the road, set by Jebby, Josh Jardine and Martin Mikkelsen-Barron. Josh had evidently been recceing carefully, adding an extra few metres with a loop up the road before being shouted back by Rob.
At first, Harry led up the climb to Rowling End. About half way up though, the side effects of the gel started to kick in and he flagged. It was tempting to take advantage of the easing pace but once we hit a wider section of trod I forced myself to speed up. The rest of the climb to Causey was hard, with the nasty running section (I hate running) after the first top. Victoria Wilkinson and Simon Netherway passed me (I think), but I managed to keep pushing and had them in sight over the summit. A neglect for personal safety can get you a long way on a descent, and although my legs wouldn’t thank me for it afterwards I passed them on the steep section and ran down the track alone. I could see Ted Ferguson’s purple vest in the distance but there was no chance it was getting any closer.
I found the secret beck crossing (just) and heard some splashing in the beck upstream which put a bit of fear into me for the last blast on the road. Stupidly going for the flamboyant cattle grid leap I stuck my foot through the final bars. Nobody saw and it came back out straight away so I was able to make a dash to the finish and hold on to 6th, despite Daniel Connolly from Mercia coming up fast behind. Victoria won the open women and Martin M-B won the open men. From Ambleside, Jo Simpson was second U23 and Jane Reedy was fourth V40, Harry saved himself for Carrock the next day and placed 17th, Paul Cornforth was 20th and first V50, Paul Knowles 39th, Paul Simpson 78th and Richard Tait 142nd.
No Easter eggs for the Ambleside team this year but if we keep Joe off international flights we could be in for a shout in a year’s time.
Tomorrow night! The first of our summer hill reps sessions! Meet at the entrance to Rothay Park (next to the primary school) at 1830. Sessions will all start from Ambleside but the hill will change each week so check back here for details. The warm up will start at 1830, but reps won’t actually begin til about 1845, so anyone doing juniors training who wants to participate will have time to leg it to the designated hill This week will be a pyramid of sorts on the road up Loughrigg: 2 sets of (1 min/1.5 min/2 min/1.5 min/1 min) hard uphill, with a jog-down-to-start recovery between reps and a little rest between sets. This will mean that everyone will be able to regroup during the recovery between each rep so it will be a sociable kind of session. I am hoping to make it in time after work, but if not Joe Mann will be there with clipboard, whistle and sweatband to officiate.
Check Facebook (or speak to someone who does!) for information on future locations and sessions.
Huge thanks to so many of you who came out to play on Loughrigg last night. Great effort and great craic afterwards:-) Thanks also to Chris Hodgson and Jim Tyson for kindly volunteering to go out this morning and round up all of the kites – much appreciated.
“Is a green and blue vest faster than a brown, purple and yellow one?”
(and more importantly does it look as good?)
The Dark Peak vest is a beautiful sight: supposedly based on the brown of the peat bogs, the purple of the gorse bushes, and the yellow of the sun, it’s a combination that shouldn’t work but does (honest). It’s a vest I’ve grown pretty fond of over the last two years but after moving to Ulverston in September (and a lot of ‘gentle encouragement’ from certain AAC members), come the turn of the year I finally gave in and joined my new local (pretty much anyway, sorry Black Combe) club.
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.
It was a bit of a lonely run from here, the main things I can remember are singing ‘just keep swimming’ to myself in my head (a personal favourite when racing), saying hello to some sheep and wondering what would be in the pies at the finish (“meat” was the answer). Despite a recce I still had to get my map out to check I was heading in mostly the right direction round towards White Combe (everything just looks the same), before a fluorescent jacketed marshal made finding the fodder rack a lot easier than it usually is.
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.
It was great to see Michelle (who I must point out isn’t a wimp about long races but an unfortunate victim of “Edale-gate”) take the win in the ladies’ race, although when I asked her if she enjoyed it her response was “I would rather do Edale twice than do that”; each to their own I suppose. And Selwyn made the cut-offs so that’s probably more of an achievement than mine.
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)
The (North-West) Mail’s report on the race is available here, and confirms that Matt ran the two-mile descent from the south summit in a scarcely believable 8m 44s.
Many congratulations to both Matt and Michelle on an Ambleside double! Full results are available here.