So I shalln't.
Instead, I will write about the Blackfell Race we did yesterday!
It all came about as Gavin's brother-in-law, Dean, has entered Ben Nevis race and needs some 'A-grade' fell runs to satisfy the entry requirements. Plus a bit of hill practice.
So he'd talked Gavin into doing it, who subsequently talked me into doing it and when Hilary and Helen found out about it, they decided to come along too!
This is a proper fell race, no markers, navigation across open fell required, 'local knowledge an advantage' it says on the Bingley Harriers website. Our local fell races are more like tough trail races if I am completely honest, so we felt a little out of our depth.
|Here we all are, smiling before the start...|
None the less, here we were on the start line. It was sunny and blustery in the registration field just outside the village of Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales.
Our mission was to get round in one piece, without getting lost. If we weren't last, that would be a bonus! Well, that was for us three girls anyway, the boys were here to race.
The start was a 2 mile hill climb, steady away on a good, wide stone track. It narrowed near the top, but the field was already very spread out (and only 57 strong!) so that wasn't an issue. First checkpoint at the crossing of Cam Road and the climbing continues but of the more vertical variety now! Steep slog all the way up to the ridge running along to Great Whernside.
Now came the first section of open fell. A moment of hesitation to check the map, before crossing the stile and heading into the tussocks. We'd picked up a local Bingley runner at this point, so we followed him down down down to the checkpoint, losing over 500ft of elevation. It was very awkward underfoot and our ankles took a battering. Checkpoint 2 checked and we turned around for the climb back up to the ridge! Competitors were free to chose what ever way they liked, we followed the Bingley man as he seemed to know where he was going, as did another lady in yellow. In hindsight, there were more direct routes, but they involved a hands and knees scramble as the valley sides were so steep!! As it was, we had to stop once or twice just to stop our calves from screaming but after what felt like eternity, we were back on the ridge and the marshal at CP3 came into view. Now although it was better underfoot, the head wind was enough to knock you off your feet!! We headed onto the main footpath along the ridge where the ground was easier and ran on, unable to speak over the wind, not far to CP4. They advised we followed the fence line, which we pretty much did. It was a gentle downhill here, but again awkward under foot so we couldn't go as fast as we would have liked.
The yellow lady was still with us and between us we navigated the route.
The next bit of open ground between checkpoints 5 and 6 had caused us to scratch out heads, the best route was not obvious from the map and here the 'local knowledge' comes in handy. We had overheard other runners were planning to 'stay high' so we decided to do this too. Going lower looked like it would involve crossing some nasty looking bog.
So, we contoured along the hillside, yellow lady leading most of the way. Didn't run that much of it as it was so tussucky and there were lots of little holes you could easily turn an ankle in. We made slow progress but kept moving, glad to be out of the wind. The Scout Hut was visible across the valley and that was CP6. We had to negotiate a steep bank to get down the path but nothing too bad and soon we'd dropped our last token into the marshals bag and we were on the short cropped grass of the final descent.
This is where my so-called running buddies buggered off and left me! Now they didn't need a chief navigator they were off like the clappers. Monkeys.
The last descent is still very steep, but lovely underfoot and I could hear the crowd at the finish line!
Yay! We'd done it! I was so proud of us all, even though they left me with less than a mile to go.
Both Gavin and Dean had great runs and really enjoyed it.
We rounded the trip off with a quick visit to the Blue Bell for a spot of refreshment
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