Middleton Fells. East Cumbria
19th October 2014
This years’ relay covered the relatively unexplored area of Middleton Fells located between Barbon (just past Kirby Lonsdale) and Sedbergh and provided an opportunity to explore new running ground.
Mick Mac asked early in the year if I would take on the task of organising two teams, an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ team. All seemed straight forward to begin with and I had a full complement of runners plus reserves. However, as time drew closer to the relays a number of runners had to withdraw due to injury and other reasons and we ended up losing half the ‘A’ team at one point. Anyway, after using all the reserves and offers from Andrew Newton and Dave Large to run we had two complete teams on the day of the relay – thankfully!
Pete C, Dave Large, Mike Mac and myself set off to the relays thinking we had plenty of time, only to hear the announcement asking for Preston Harriers ‘A’ team and one other team to collect their numbers. Every other team had already collected there numbers! We duly collected these and Dave Large hurriedly got changed to go through to kit check and to the starting ring were he joined Alan Appleby who was running for the ‘B’ team. At this point I realised I had left my camera and dashed back to the car only to end up missing the start!
Leg 1: A Team: Dave Large
Leg 1: B Team Alan Appleby
Alan Appleby had an excellent run and was first back on Leg 1 which covered ~5miles and handed over to ‘Alan Martin and Roy Parkinson’. Dave Large wasn’t far behind who handed over to ‘Dave Parkington and Andrew Newton’. Leg 2 is the most challenging of the four legs in terms of distance and ascent and covers ~10miles.
Leg 2: A team Dave Parkinson and Andrew Newton
Both Dave and Andrew and Roy and Alan had great runs with Dave and Andrew managing to catch Roy and Alan who had a five minute head start.
Leg 2: B Team. Roy Parkinson and Alan Martin
After a fairly relaxing day it was time for Pete C and me to do our bit. Neither of us could decide whether to wait in the holding pens with our jackets on or off but before we knew it we could see Alan and Roy descending down the hill towards us. I then had a battle with my jacket trying to get it off and stuffed in my bag before we set off.
Leg 3 differs from the Legs 1, 2 and 4 in that no map is provided prior to the race to enable you to reccie and plan your route. The map for Leg 3 is only given after you have started meaning good navigational skills are required to enable you to find all the check points, particularly in poor visibility.
My navigational skills have never been great. Therefore, it was down to Pete C to get us both round in good time. I’d been suffering with a cold on and off for a couple of weeks and didn’t feel great myself when we set off. I thought I might be ok once I got going but I ended up struggling from start to finish – though thankfully I didn’t slow us down too much. The weather was mainly kind to us, given the forecast was for heavy rain and strong winds, apart from on higher ground were the wind really picked up. I remember at one point trying to run downhill and the wind was blowing me back up the hill.
Leg 3: A Team. John Rainford and John Griffiths
We collected our maps just past the first gate then had a steady climb while we tried to work out our route. We picked off the first two checkpoints relatively easily with these being mainly on good footpaths. I was conscious that we were losing places but couldn’t push any harder so decided to just settle on the pace I was going at. The most challenging checkpoint proved to be checkpoint 3 which was located right of a main footpath following a wall to the left. This seem to catch quite a few teams out and unfortunately this included our A team runners John Rainford and John Griffiths. Luckily Pete C spotted this and we dropped to the right and found CP3 straight away. After this checkpoint it was slog along a good path which gradually climbed into ever windy conditions followed by nice downhill running through boggy ground down to a stream followed by one last climb and a long descent to the finish. Approaching the finish, I was desperately hanging onto Pete C and then we had to do a loop of the finishing field which had a slight incline. I think I must have been going slower and slower and Pete C ended up literally pushing me all the way to the finish!
Both John Griffiths and John Rainford thought they had visited all the checkpoints and it wasn’t until the day after when I noticed that the A team had been disqualified which lead to conversations between John G and Pete C regarding the location of CP3 did John G admit that he may have missed that one. I think that Bob Alexandra trophy is heading your way John G….. (though if I was navigating I definitely wouldn’t have found it either or probably the others….)
Leg 2: B Team: Pete Carter and Lindsey Berends
Both Mike Burnham and Jim Doherty had strong runs and fortunately Pete C and myself managed to get back before the mass start for Leg 4 giving Jim a chance to run without being surrounded by the masses.
Leg 4: A Team: Mike Burnham
Leg 4: B team: Jim Doherty
A great day was had by all and thanks to Mick Mac for the support and photos and to everyone who ran.
In total a 187 finished with 26 teams not finishing or disqualified due to missing checkpoints on Leg 3 which unfortunately included our A team.
1st Dark Peak Total Time 3h 43mins 55 secs
129th Preston Harriers B team Total Time 5h 24mins 11secs
Leg 1 Alan Appleby Position 156th Time: 58mins 01secs
Leg 2 David Parkington & Andrew Newton Position 92nd Time 1h 41mins 57secs
Leg 3 John Griffiths & John Rainford (Disqualified)
Leg 4 Mike Burnham Position 146th Time 1h 02mins 54secs
Leg 1 Dave Large Position 186th Time 1h 03mins 01 secs
Leg 2 Roy Parkinson & Alan Martin Position 114th Time: 1h 48mins 11secs
Leg 3 Pete Carter & Lindsey Berends Position 152nd Time 1h 34mins 0 sec
Leg 4 Jim Doherty Position 156th Time 1h 03mins 44secs
Last Sunday, 5th October, 8 hardy fell runners with Mick Mac providing great support headed up to the Kirkstone area of the lakes to tackle the 27th staging of the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay. Ian, a gifted fell runner, died in 1985 age 25 whilst cycling in Leeds. The race is held in his honour.
The race covers approximately 25 miles and ascends 8,000 feet. (That’s 40km/2450m in new money).It is divided into 4 legs of varying distance.
Preston Harriers entered 1 team consisting of 8 runners as the event is pairs based.
The race is set in a beautiful area of the lakes between High Street and Fairfield with dramatic steep fells, tarns and other water features and lovely wooded areas- alas we saw none of it! The cloud base was at a very low level with even the base of Red Screes being invisible from the Kirkstone Inn car park. It was also cool and frequently raining, perfect……if you are Mick Mac that is.
Leg 1 Cat Slater and John Griff got things underway. Cat had run well the previous day at the Road Relay’s and climbed really well on, what must have been, tired legs. I only heard her curse once as we tackled the very steep descent to Hayeswater Gill before the punishing track run down to Hartsop and the changeover. 37th pos.
Leg 2 Andrew Newton and Tony Livesey took over to begin the torturous climb back up Hayeswater Gill to High Street via The Knott. Andrew had also represented the Harriers the previous day at the relays and Tony was carrying injury so thanks to them for their efforts. They were running in dense mist and it is no surprise that they went off course when trying to locate Caudale Moor tarn. They were not alone with many going astray, even internationals Tom and Mark Addison who lost 19 places! Carnethy fared even worse losing 31 places. Tony mentioned he really needed the map and compass this time. 41st pos
Leg 3 Roy Parkinson and Alan Martin took over at Kirkstone pass in what could be described as poor conditions with “the clag” well and truly down. Could it be an advantage though not to be able to see Red Screes- the almost vertical ascent they were to climb? For me the Harriers run of the day this one, not conceding any places and completing the leg in a very respectable time in terrible fell top conditions when other teams were circling like headless chickens looking for Dove crag check point. 41st pos
Leg 4 John Rainford and Mike Burnham took over at Hartsop Hall in what seemed to be improving conditions, to tackle the leg with the most ascent and the two highest peaks. A word of thanks to Mike here for stepping in at short notice but still managing to arrange a pre race recce despite having very little spare time at present. The pair put on a solid display conceding some places but a lot of strong teams were hunting them down after losing ground on earlier legs. 50th pos. 5:28:33 overall.
Borrowdale won the event again for the 12th consecutive time I understand, in a time of 3:39:59- not far off their own record despite the poor conditions.
Thanks to Mick for lending great support and to everyone for giving their best efforts on the day. It is a cracking true fell running event, roll on 2015.
I hope to refine the logistics next year.
Scafell Fell Race. 4.5m/3000’. AS.
As the masses headed to Three Shires, John Rainford and I bypassed Little Langdale and headed to Wasdale for this belter of a fell race and one of my favourites. As we arrived the weather was as last year, clear and sunny in the valley but the mountain tops shrouded in mist, perfect for us who know where you can cut the corners. This race packs everything into it, steep climbs with run able sections, stony paths, rock scrambles, fast grassy descent and the added obstacles of walkers climbing and descending England’s highest peak. Seventy Six set off across the only flat quarter mile in the race to the foot bridge and then commenced the two mile climb to Scafell Pike. Gradual at first on the tourist path then hands on knees as you turn left towards the stile over the wall on Lingmell Nose. Once over the stile the very steep climb continues sapping your energy and by now the runners are strung out in a long line. Finally some rest bite as the gradient eased allowing the pace to pick up as you traverse around Lingmell heading towards Scafell Pike and into the mist. Eventually you reach the broad tourist path where those who don’t know keep left and follow it to the summit but the rest head straight on over the rough rocky terrain cutting several corners before re-emerging back on the tourist path. This is where John passed me on his way back down. You now have to weave around all the walkers and watch for the runners coming hurtling back down. Finally I reached the summit, handed over my tally and the marshal called out my time as 1:03:30. Just a note here, the winner finished in 1:04:57. Turn at the top, switch brain off and leg it as fast as you can back down, concentrating, so you done trip up and embarrass yourself in front of all the walkers. This time you stay on the tourist path until you get to the grassy area where you turn right and pick up the path we came up on. This section around Lingmell is run flat out until you reach the top of Lingmell Nose where you have to slow right down due to the steepness of the descent. Over the stile, checking behind to see if anyone is catching you, continue down the last steep descent to the path and your thighs get a welcome rest as you follow the path down to the foot bridge and back along the flat quarter mile to the finish. This is a fantastic race and highly recommended, but not for the faint hearted.
1st George Grayston (Borrowdale) 1:04:57
19th John Rainford. 1:21:16
55th Mick McLoughlin 1:39:47
Winter Training 2014.
Meet at Scolars on Church Brow, Walton-le-Dale for Hills and Park. 7pm for 7.15pm start.
Meet behind Odeon Cinema for docks, same time.
Afterwards in the White Bull.
25th Sept. Hills 6 x reps Todd Land & 6 x reps Knot Lane.
2nd Oct. Hills
9th Oct. Docks Speed reps around the docks Meet behind Odeon Cinema
16th Oct. Park 12 x reps Avenham Park, from Park Keepers house to Winkley Sq.
23rd Oct. Docks
3oth Oct. Hills
6th Nov. Park
13th Nov. Docks
20th Nov. Hills
27th Nov Park
4th Dec. Docks
11th Dec. Hills
18th Dec. Park
Another good turnout of runners for this event.
1 Paul Dugdale. Kendal. 40.08
3. Jon Green. 41.00
12. John Rainford 47.28
34. Gordon Thompson 54.20
36.Steve Taylor. 55.01
37.Jenny Gornall. 55.08
42.Victoria Cowling. 58.32
43.Alan Appleby. 58.34
52.Phil Lakeland. 1.04.38
No team changes at all after this race with Chorley shoring up overall and vets positions and Red Rose consolidating on the rest. Preston made improvements in most categories with Lytham losing out with only 2 athletes neither being ladies. Wesham didn’t have a full team but the quality of their 3 competitors ensured not too many points were yielded. Blackpool gave the surprise with 3 runners who collected useful points including wrestling the V60 category from Chorley.
Individually Jon Green and Darren Fishwick cannot now be beaten as 1st & 2nd overall but all the other places are still to run for.
As usual if anyone spots an error or has a question please ask.
Lingmell Dash Fell Race 26th July 2014
I’m not sure what possessed me to do this race given that fast, short up and down races are not my
strong point and the 25 + degree heat as well……
Anyway by 10.30am, John Rainford, Mick McLoughlin and myself were heading off too Wasdale to
run all of 4.5miles. Easy you would think but throw in 2500ft of climb followed by a very steep
descent and lots of rocks makes for a very demanding and technical race.
Luckily the traffic was quiet and we arrived in plenty of time and met up with Gordon Thompson and
Mark Birbeck who had decided to make a weekend of it and camp over. We thought it might have
been a bit cooler but the heat was just as intense at Wasdale with no sign of a breeze.
John Rainford, Mick Mcloughlin, Gordon Thompson and myself
After entering and getting changed Mick and myself went for a warm up and discussed the different
routes to ascend and decided we would follow the main path up instead of cutting off and heading
up the steeper hill section.
John Rainford, Mick McLoughlin and myself before the race
Given the location of this race at Wasdale and the busy race calendar the race organised by Wasdale
Mountain Rescue generally attracts a small field of runners. A total of 31 runners entered this year
and we set off at 2pm prompt. The race initally has a fast flat section on road before heading off up
A picture of Lingmell
After heading off I felt strong and thought I would have a good race given the training I have put in
recently. However, after the first mile my legs turned to lead and even walking became a hugh effort.
Mick soon caught up with me and Gordon as a slowed to crawl. Unfortunately our route choice
didn’t seem to help us as every other runner cut off from the path and headed up the steeper hill
section to the stile which probably cost us a minute or two. We’ll know for next year!
As I headed over the stile both Mick and Gordon overtook me with Mark not far behind me. I made
it my resolve to just try and plod on up as best I could. The heat was really intense with no
welcoming breeze as we ascended. Mick and Gordon continued to pull away as I struggled to just
keep up a fast paced walk. However, on seeing the photographer I forced myself to run for the
picture below but it didn’t last for long and I soon resumed my fast paced walk. That smile masks
how much I was suffering….
On reaching what appeared to be the top it turned out to be a false summit and instead levelled off
for a short while before the climbing resumed again to the summit. Even on the flatter sections I
couldn’t seem to find the energy to run.
After what seemed like an eternity I finally reached the summit and I have to admit I was very glad to
turn around and be heading down. With so few runners in the race I was on own by this point and
had to check which way I was heading down. I went off to far too the left at one point and luckily
Mark was behind me who reigned me back in on the correct route!
My descent went reasonable well, apart from the scree section were I came to a screeching halt and
decided to tip toe down but I was quite impressed with my descending for the last half of the race on
the steep grassy section heading into the finish. After seeing Mick’s cuts and brusises from were he
fell on the scree section I’m quite glad I walked down it!
I think we all suffered with the heat but John Rainford managed a very respectable time of 60 mins
47secs. Thanks to Mark Birkbeck for the first picture.
Ist Carl Eris 49mins 21secs
8th John Rainford 60mins 47secs
20th Mick McCloughlin 74mins 18secs
22nd Gordon Thompson 75min 03secs
25th Lindsey Berends 79mins 23secs