Falstone Falcon Fell race report by Alan Wallace
Louis (Goffe) mentioned this fell race at the grand prix on Tuesday. I didn’t realise it at the time but he was using some kind of Jedi mind trick and before I knew it I was bundled into a car on Saturday with Louis, Kayoung and John Tollitt and we were off out into the country.
The Falstone Falcon is a small fell race which is part of the Falstone show. Other attractions include sheep, dogs, crafts, jams and photography. There was also “Adult sports” which we unfortunately missed as it was on during the fell race. Very disappointed about that as I was quietly confident about annihilating the opposition in the egg and spoon race.
The race kicked off at 2-30pm and a small field of 26runners, mostly NFR, gathered and after a quick briefing we were set on our way. We headed straight onto the wet fields and I was straight into a smallburn for a foot soaking. Not that I was too bothered as my shoes were still soaking from last week’s race.
Up a small incline and we were onto an old railway track.The race is around 5 mile with 750ft of ascent. I knew the track went on for awhile so I upped my pace a bit while it was still flat. After half a mile or so we turned left onto a field. The grass was long and difficult to run through as the gradient increased and we were heading upwards.
The route was frustrating. At the top of each incline you would be lifted by the sight of some flatter ground but the going was tough with the wet and boggy ground. Lurking beneath the long grass there were plenty of channels and I went knee deep into a couple of them. So it was a case of trying to follow the tracks of the previous runners and hoping for the best.
The route continued like this until we crossed a fence and entered some woods. The terrain was totally different. The floor was typical woodland trail with tree roots, moss and soil. As well as keeping an eye on every footfall you needed to avoid the trees and branches.
After looking at the map of the race on Friday night I had mistakenly thought the terrain would be easy enough on decent trails but looking around at the sharp tree roots and snapped branched waiting to poke my eye out I was starting to realise I needed to sharpen myself up a bit.
After running through the woods for a little I ended up on my backside. We had entered a clearing and there was a grassy trail which I took as an opportunity to up the pace. The grass and moss on the surface was slippery though and I went down quickly. The ground was soft though and I was straight up and off again as we started running on a track. The course started on a downhill and I was passed by an old friend Glen McWilliams.
I decided to try to keep with him as he is an accomplished fellrunner and I obviously would like to beat him ;-). So I managed to hang on at a safe distance as we flew down into a clearing. A handful of other runners were ahead and we seemed to be gaining on them. The reason became obvious as lurking beneath the long wet grass were fallen trees. Ever wanted to snap your ankle? Just sprint through this clearing wearing ablindfold.
Our pace didn’t slow much though as I hung on for dear life. Back into the woods we went and down though a small steep section where I was amazed I managed to stay upright. Across another burn and onto a track for some easier running. At this point though my legs felt like lead and I drifted off the back of the small group.
The course was twisting along through the woods and I lost sight of the runners ahead and I had to slow a little as I wasn’t sure I was on the right track. I was though and we entered to woods again. I took another tumble in the woods and took a couple of seconds to actually stop myself but again I wasn’t injured.
The route followed a wall down through the woods and I was passed by another runner as my inexperience showed. The terrain of this race was a lot trickier than last week’s race and some of the downhill sections slowed me down as I was maybe too cautious.
We crossed the wall at a stile and we were back onto the same long grass from earlier. Down a steep gully and across a stream and up the other side. I knew there was only a mile or so left and I could see a few runners ahead who I would try to catch. Again the ground was frustrating but I was going well and launched myself across a fence which had plastic covering the barbed wire.
Almost finished now and I was gaining fast on the small group of runners but it wasn’t to be as I came in 15-20 seconds after the group of 4. A nice glass of water at the finish and John and I walked over to a stream for a quick dip then got nettled getting back out.
I finished 15th in a time of 48.34 – although the results say 49.34. John finished in a respectable 6th position in 43.59 but Louis won the race in 37.53 :-).
The weather was now fine and the sun was out as John treated us at the ice cream van.
This was a small, friendly race in lovely surroundings. Despite being less than 5 miles it is still a tough little race. If you can finish this race without any small cuts, bruises or nettle stings then you deserve a trophy. But it is a great run out in a beautiful location. I’m still gutted about the egg and spoon race though….
Race results can be found here