Commondale Beacon Fell Race: Report

We’re being spoilt at the moment with an abundance of great race reports, the latest coming from David Beech.


Commondale Beacon Fell Race (8.8miles / 1200 ft ascent): Sunday 24 November 2013

The new Commondale Fell race is a mix of the old Danby Beacon and Castleton Fell Races, situated in the North York Moors national park and starting from the village of Commondale. The event is organised by the Esk Valley Fell club and this year’s race being a counter for the winter series and Esk Valley Fell Club championships.

A great attendance with approximately 160 people racing, coming from all over North Yorkshire and Northumberland, all the fell clubs were well represented. I arrived first as usual, and had a quick look at the route; it appeared to have a long uphill start on a wet muddy track, so maybe my style of going out hard may help on this one. Heading out across Danby Moor and around Siss Cross Hill, a good quality track with some technical sections. Other members from the club running were Alan Wallace and John Tollitt with a few members from Northumberland Fell Runners (NFR).


Race Route


We started fast, and a lead pack of 3 forms, the legend that is Charlie Stead from NFR and Paul Butler from Loftus, who has some recent wins on the series fell races. We headed out across the moors and then started a fast long descent on a very small muddy path and over heather.


Race start

race start


It’s here the 2 seasoned fell runners started to open a fairly considerably lead on me, and I again find myself in that zone between the lead pack and the chase pack, I always seem to end up here… and it does bring its own mental challenges, as its easier to follow or latch onto a group then it is to run alone and maintain pace, it’s way too easy to just run and allow the chase pack to eat you up and over take you, but not today.

I spied my targets, and could see Charlie and Paul having their own personal battle, each overtaking  and chasing, Paul pulling away of the flat and downhill and Charlie doing the same on the uphill’s. I watched this and worked hard to catch up, and made sure I maintained my aim to win, not allowing those doubts to creep in, “oh come on, slow down and have a rest, let them catch up, 3rd place is ok”… then as I drop down a hill to cross a stream I hear the guy behind me, he’s worked hard to catch me but sounds very tired… now the time I need to decide, settle for 3rd and race it out with this guy, or go for the win and see how much I have left.


Running Hard – Charlie Stead NFR behind

running hard with charlie


Stream Crossing – 4th to the rear

crossing stream


We come out onto a road section after a short downhill, and I let it all go at this point and pull away from 4th, its only 5 miles, but I forget the race length, and I just focus on the now and how I feel, run 100% no matter where I am or how long is left, leave it all out on the course I tell myself. There is a fairly long hill coming up, so I just put my head down and tell myself this hill is all that matters, I don’t care what’s after it, I’ll worry about that once I’ve done this, head down and I run my heart out likes it’s a hill rep and I’ve got a rest at the top. I summit, and kid myself by saying “I can rest but I can run and rest… surely”, as I’m discussing this with myself, I find that I’ve recovered and the pain has gone!

Its here I see the lead pair, about 300m away, hmmm… maybe I can catch them, it looks like Charlie is strong and Paul is flagging, I run my little legs off and latch my eyes onto Paul, now in 2nd place, I run hard and refuse to look behind, there’s only one thing on my mind now, Catch him. In no time I’m 2 meters behind him, making sure I control my breathing and looking relaxed, (although I’m hurting bad inside), I go level with him and over emphasize how relaxed I am, and then push past, it’s always important, in my opinion that is, if your racing someone and when you overtake, you have to maintain momentum and put a burst in, be aggressive and break them mentally, this ensures a comeback isn’t on the cards and you make them accept the position behind you.

Going  past and making sure I open a gap, I now find some momentum and think “why not, just run and see what happens”, with 1 mile left and a winding mud track, I can’t see 1st place. Then there’s Charlie, running well and looking fast, but he’s coming closer, “I can catch him” I hear myself saying out loud.  Maybe I have enough distance left to win, I keep running fast and then get within 20 meters, its then I notice we are closing in on the finish, I have to decide now,… “Do I want to win”, opening up I find something left in the tank and confidence builds… I have a fast kick and change of speed when I need it, but… how long will this burst last, gritting my teeth I put a hurting on my lungs, run, run, run… going past him with 400 meters to go, I keep going and don’t rest, I have to run through the line… I finish with the organizer telling me stop running, “you have finished” he shouts, but I want more… I stop and rest, got a little carried away me thinks.

I win, and set a course record for the route, an excellent course and race, and it made me remember a valuable lesson, which is the same lesson and more relevant to my Ultrarunning, “keep running and anything can happen”.


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    • Iain Dalby on 25th November 2013 at 20:02
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    Another excellent read, love the suspense even though I knew you’d won!
    Well done!!

    • Badger on 25th November 2013 at 21:24
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    Phew! having read that I feel like I’d ran the race myself…… Oh, I did. Great report and win. TBH fell division going from strength to strength.

    • Simon Pryde on 25th November 2013 at 21:54
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    Great report, that. And well done!

    • Si on 25th November 2013 at 22:11
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  1. Congratulations David on a fabulous victory and a tremendous display of guts and courage to go for the win and not be content with finishing 2nd or 3rd.
    Should anyone be inspired by David’s report and fancies giving fell running a go the fantastic Hexhamshire Hobble takes place on Sunday. It’s a longish course, with a couple of belter climbs, but conditions underfoot are usually firm and good for a decent pace. Please note though, full fell racing kit will be required; Whistle, compass, clothing etc.

  2. Well done David, fantastic report.

    • keith rooney on 2nd December 2013 at 21:02
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    Certainly an inspirational report.! Fell racing sounds like one adrenain fuelled escapade!

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