Mark Hall sends this report from the Weekends leisurely stroll up a few hills
Many a running purist would shun any form of Fell Running, considering the risks too high of an inevitable twisted ankle or something more serious but since I began running some 5 years ago I have always held a desire to compete in a ‘proper’ Fell race.
On Sunday 10th April I headed down the A19 with the fellow Tyne Bridge Harrier, Gareth Huxley to compete in the 34th running of the classic Guisborough Moors Fell Race. This being the final race in the Northern Runner Eskdale Valley Winter Fell Race Series. Winter?…..some chance, it was a perfect day for plodging in the North Sea & slurping ice-cream rather than running a 12.3 mile, 2300 foot Fell Race!!!
As usual I had come fully prepared, buying a new pair of Inov8 fell shoes the previous day and borrowing a bum-bag from my brother that looked like it had be made from recycled Geordie Jeans. It is a requirement to carry full body cover, whistle, energy bar and compass on these jaunts.
After registration Gareth and myself got ourselves sorted by the customary 3 trips to the toilet and then a warm up round the rugby field. During the warm up it became apparent that my Geordie Jeans bum bag was bouncing around too much. Gareth advised …… “Why don’t you get one from the Northern Runner stall?” Good idea, so I purchased a sleek Inov8 bum bag to match my shoes and only £20….. fleecing mongrels!!! (I hope Kylie doesn’t find out).
Over 200 runners lined up for the 11:00 start, I don’t wish to stereo type fell runners but I think Gareth and dare I say it myself, were the young-un’s in the field and the exception to the rule as we had no facial hair (including the women).
At the off, I quickly lost sight of Garth as he ascended effortlessly with the agility of a mountain goat, where-as I simply plodded on, head down concentrating on catching my next breath of air.
The following route description has been taken from the official web-site and give an accurate account of the route but if you wish a summary basically it was like running 20 laps of the Prudhoe cross country, carrying a dwarf and wearing a pair of Doctor Martins!!!
Gisborough Moors is a classic not just because of it’s 34 year history but, because the route taking in the best and most iconic peaks in the area. The race route climbs out of Gisborough through the trees and then sets of across the moors on a good bridleway. After a few lumpy bit’s on a mix of track and tarmc you are at the base of a long and in places quite steep climb to the summit of Captain Cooks. This climb starts off on the road and then becomes forest track and then more single track with the odd bit of steps thrown in just for a change.
You then descend on a good track into Gribdale Car Park, followed by a struggle up the steps back onto the moor on your way to Roseberry Topping. The sharks Fin peak is perhaps the most well know peak as it stands proud from the rest of the moors. The climb up isn’t too bad although it is mainly steps. The sting in the tale is descending down Roseberry Topping and then struggling up Little Roseberry which is grassy and very steep (or at least it feels like that at this point in the race). As you go back out onto the moor the track is good and ideal for fast running although it is often difficult to get your legs moving again after the climb up Little Roseberry.
You are now in the closing stages and after a lumpy bit over the moor you climb up through the forestry to High Cliff Nab before descending back through the forestry to the finish at Gisborough Rugby Club.
I shall admit I walked on some of the more challenging inclines and I can’t claim I glided down the declines but I did get round with only one minor fall. The official photographers were perched at the most brutal climbs so they could catch a fine variety of facial expressions as the runners reached the hills summit. Gareth finished in a commendable 14th position in a time 93:24 and I managed 23rd position in a time of 97:55, which I was more than happy with as a first attempt.
OK we were blessed with a beautiful day and a beautiful course but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Not even my blister infested feet and aching calfs have discouraged me and I shall definitely be heading for the fells again in the near future (well I have to get some use out of my new expensive fell shoes and bum-bag), so give it some serious though and let’s also get the name of Tyne Bridge Harriers known within the Fell community as well as the local race circuit.
Photos, video and positions can be found via the following link.