Fresh from the ‘Tarahumara Trail’ .. Brother Louis sends this report
After hitting a traffic bottle-neck at the Tyne tunnel, Gareth Huxley and I had a nervy journey en route to the Ossy Oiks in the North York Moors, race 4 of 11 in Esk Valley Fell Club Summer Series. But after some Withnail-esk driving, Gareth made more than enough time, to give us at least a minute warm up before the race.
The race organiser, David Parry, could not have served up a better race, the weather was fantastic and the course offered a wide variety of terrain which was set to play a rather large part in the final placings. He gave a little talk before sending us on our way, including the fact that the race distance was only an estimate as it was up to us to find our own way down through the woodland on the final kilometre!
Most of the race’s climb came in the first quarter, along some forest roads taking us away from Ingleby Cross up to the signal point station. Everyone was strung out behind Paul Butler of Loftus & Whitby who seemed untroubled even after taking an early wrong turn, which left us fighting out for the minor positions. My plan was to use Gareth to pace me up to the top, but while my legs were keen the heart and lungs failed with distinction. I was feeling quietly confident of keeping up with him after our last training session, legging it around the town moor, but this was not to be and he bounded off like a mountain goat leaving me sucking in air like a Dyson and struggling to the summit. Once at the top, the course eased off and we all got to gallop across the dry heather moorlands before a long slog on wide trails where traffic was mainly mountain and motor cross bikes. Gareth was getting further and further away from me at this point and I was passed by another runner but this turned out to be a blessing and I was able cling on to his heels and taking note that he was in his road running footwear so I though I’d have him on the decent in my rather more rugged Walsh’s.
The route returned us back to the signal point station and it was here where it all got interesting. Runners were spraying off in all directions. I reckon I was in about 12 place, about 30 odd seconds behind Gareth. It’s here where I thought that my innate sense of navigation, born out of years of orienteering would come in to play, but in fact it was pure luck. I nipped ahead of my flat-shoed friend and I found myself behind, what turned out to be the lad who had marked out the course! He guided me home but even still it was a tough, but a quality decent and the odd scream came in handy indicating the route not to take. The hill left its mark on the runners and there was a fair amount of claret on display at the finish. The final road section was nice and fast and I was surprised to see that I had finished 7th having had the luck on the hill and Gareth wasn’t far behind, but in the not so lucky position of 13th.
It was an excellent way to spend an early summer’s evening and we rehydrated with some local ale in the pub before retuning for the presentation, where Mr Parry had provided almost enough bottles of wine for every finisher.
If you’ve not tried felling running before and think you might be keen, these are a great introduction, challenging but not epic. Details are up on the Esk Valley Fell Club’s website:
They’re on every two weeks and Gareth and I plan to be at plenty more of them, so give us a shout!
Roll on race 5!
Images care of Esk Valley Fell Club Gallery