Pendle Fell Race 2018 Report
I have avoided this race for years. Mainly because I'm just not good enough and never was and now I'm older and even more just not good enough. However, also I was very influenced by a guy who used to be in Fellandale a few years ago, Graham Ford, now w Valley Striders but was part of the exodus when the club got a bit teeny before its recent and super resurgence. I remember him telling me a tale about him getting hypothermia and being held at one of the checkpoints while he tried to strip naked and had to be put in a blanket and fed jelly babies and hot tea. Something like that anyway and enough to make me never think about doing this one.
So Paul Healey puts it on ROTY. Thanks, Paul. I've seen it all Summer, all Autumn, and thought no I won't be doing it, will I?
And here we are. November 17th w a changing and iffy forecast. And no Tanya running which would have been great, keeping each other going and navigating together had it been foggy.
I had reccied. Sort of. I always do as I hate getting lost in the clag. So the recce day was meant to be fine. And it was. Everywhere apart from Pendle. I had never been here. I decided it was pretty bad, so I would recce from Cp4 only, relying on numbers to follow in the earlier part of the actual race. Miles of fog and compass, no visibility in any direction, three memorials to people who didn't survive (not actually this race but poignant and scary nonetheless), I eventually got to checkpoint 6 area. But the clag was so bad I didn't go down cp 7 or 9 or 11 as I thought sticking w a reasonable path was a good idea. So really I reccied very little for my waste of a day, which was filling me with dread in the run up to race day.
So 17/11 and I've been studying the map,
and setting bearings and asking for guidance (thank you Simon Franklin) for when I get lost in clag, and I'm as ready as I can be.
At Barley, I saw Dave Tait and momentarily thanked God I had someone who knows what he's doing who I might just be able to follow until I saw Carol and Simon who told me he is isn't running but mans a checkpoint. Back to being me and probably, as usual, being the front-runner of the back end of the race and having to navigate for the benefit of those behind if needed.
The technical runner I am, as you all know, so obviously I had my spotted fleecy blanket technical outerwear before the start to keep warm. I forgot my watch. I know it's only a Casio and times up to a whole hour even that is better than nothing. I asked a lady at some point after cp4 how long we'd been running, and she said 8 miles, useful unsolicited extra info, but I did mean time - 1hr 45 by then. Def inside cut off by 15-20 mins so all good.
The start was great. Spotty blanket folded into a roll and stored in a wall. Warm up was the slow jog / walk to Big End (only in Lancashire, really!). Took a nice easy start just as I had been advised to do.
The mist was there at the top but very light and rising and on the way to CP 2 the sun was peeping through and going up to Spence Moor the lovely summer smell of warming damp grass was in the air. Couldn't have been luckier for weather and at last seeing these beautiful hills and moors for what they are.
Geronimo! I could hear shouts of "go on Christine!" which I took to be for me whether or not it was meant for me, and this helped me keep trotting down the steep bank. It turned out to be Tanya w Louis supporting, instead of racing herself. What a voice, despite her cold. At the British fell relays leg one this year someone was shouting for another Christine not me, but this helped me finish just in front of her. I had super descent skills today if I say so myself w legs feeling strong and helped by my slightly too large but w great studs mudclaws, and I overtook a few on my way down to 7 and 9 too, but probably because I started below par by walking so much. Geronimo was great though, and none of the challenge I imagined and blessed by Tanya's calls of encouragement from cp4 all was good.
Until. Climbing up from Ogden Clough and initially recalling my previous life as a cat or monkey, swiftly overtaking people by climbing up on all fours. Then my left foot twisted inwards, and a shin splint type pain started in my leg. The first of the cramps that I'm told everyone gets at some point in their attempts at this race and I was only half way round w three big hills to go.
Onwards and happily ok w beautiful views and to Cp5. Where the Marshall said w typical Lancashire humour "no more climbs, all downhill from here!"
Up climb 3 and the crampy paralysing lower legs and feet started again but both this time which makes running really difficult. But I overtook quite a few on this hill, so everyone must have been suffering the same. The wind was very strong even on the climb up. Thank goodness my son is injured at the moment (no I don't really mean that Lucas) but he has had to delay his return to France to his ski academy and I have been hydro therapy training with him twice a week, including running through water. And it felt just like that running up and across the hill top at that point against the wind, quite easy after all the hydro training.
Descent to 7 lovely and fast and I overtook one or two more. And that up! The little weeny contours on the map look so harmless compared to the big climb I was looking at.
Leg trouble again along the top from 8 towards the start of descent for 9 so slowed up, but all ok and overtook another two on the descent, skipping along. Saw Dave at cp9 but didn't realise there were jelly babies there and should have had something. As soon as I started the climb my right leg, thigh this time, went into sharp spasm and just wouldn't work. Thanks to the Barlick (I think or maybe Trawden, in black and white anyway) runner for the massage to get me restarted. What a sight as I had to go up the hill swinging each leg back into the air with reverse goose steps (the other leg went the same way within a couple minutes) looking like I was doing a gym bunny aerobic routine. This must have looked hilarious if anyone had the energy by then to be bothered to look, but strangely I still overtook two of three (who got me back later). A quick clock check w someone towards the top of the climb, 3hrs 40, and behind my secret hopeful schedule to finish in 4 hours.
All good from there though, if a little slowed down, so overtaken by the three I overtook on the way up. Easy route find w no mist to the trig and on to cp11, so much better than I thought though I did get the compass out to check the bearing as I definitely didn't want to end up too high up Ogden Clough. All good to cp11 and such an easy little jog to the finish but nothing left to give by then. Slower than I'd have liked but very happy with finishing at all and love my badge (t-shirt).
Before the start I said "once and once only", but I think I will be back as this is one of those classically brilliant races and I am very proud I got round.
Great running by the Fellanders out there:
> Paul Healey 3:19
> Simon Franklin 3:36
> Scott Leach 3.43
> Christine Addison - about 4:15 (no watch)
Superb running by second claimers Tom (2:57), Patrick (2:59) Amanda (3:28) and our friend Carol Morgan (3:11)
The first man was 2:15 and first woman inside 2:30.
We had great conditions today. I don't think my recce worries were fully founded as there are a lot of people on the race and following is possible, but there are places where this might not work so well in fog, so for the nervous slower runners, or even the very fast ones likely to be alone, some guidance from the back to demystify it:
Start to CP1: not possible to get lost to the Big End trig. Marshalled to the moor then a big path. From the trig a new path to a new kissing gate to the right of the stone corner seats wall. Then what feels like heading across moor NW but the angle was approx 45• from the wall, but this is one to take a bearing if it is foggy and no one around. Good path though so fairly obvious and plenty of people around.
After CP1 people went in two directions, none travelling down the wall side as marked on the Harvey map and mentioned for bad weather. I went across the moor as described, initially wet and indistinct, but I saw a couple of runners seemingly following the Stan Bradshaw route path. Not sure which would be faster. By the time I was crossing this moor, there was good trod which joined an up and down well-worn path to the join of the climb up from Ogden Clough which comes later after cp4.
To CP2 it's a case of taking The mots obvious path straight across the top of rise in the hill before the last descent, where the path to the right on the second visit heads west towards cp5.
To CP3, an easy path from cp2 to a gate and lane then left at CP3 and up the side of a hill by a new fence. On reaching a top, crossing a wall and turning right following it up, then recrossing and following a wall to a ladder stile. The path is obvious towards Geronimo, skirting to the east of Spence Moor top but in fog a bearing from the stile wouldn't harm. You can hear cp4 from the descent down Geronimo, plenty of people were there.
To CP5 fairly obvious path staying up from the stream and to the right of the fence, through a gate and down to cross the brook and a trod to follow straight up the hill to join the path from cp1-2 near a small cairn. Veering a bit to the right in the descent and starting to head down. Need to go straight on at this angle beyond a path to The tight which looks across to a barn the turn right further along to the checkpoint before heading right again and across the brook and up the obvious climb to the top and memorial stone, following the wall and crossing it to cp6 along this wall.
To 7 there is a bit of a path heading away from the wall which is gentle then steeply down, and cp7 is hidden by the stream. Cross and use the fence and wall to start the climb up. Very obvious upward path from there and then onto the moor and CP8 which is easy to find even in clag as it's big and there was a big Union Jack flag.
There is another shelter somewhere along here as a landmark for foggy days and someone was actually making a fire, poking his head above the parapet and shouting well done to the runners. Think it was before the stile after which the route gradually heads down and across a couple of paths before the final steeper descent to CP9. The route up was marked at the bottom and flagged at the top but no obvious path otherwise, just head up. If reccying alone in fog just stay straight heading up in an S direction. As the hill tops out, there's a small path head left to cross a wall stile turning right on a new path to the new CP10 by the corner seats and then across to the trig.
From the trig, a friendly Ilkley runner (Fewston Border's owner) had told me on the way up to head towards a massive cairn but turn off before and about 600m after the trig then head south. I think I turned about 500m after the trig following others and a decent path/ trod SSW direction. This dropped down to cp11 and an easy path and track past outbound the turn up the hill.