UKA British Fell and Hill Relay Championship 2014
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
Many thanks to Dave for stepping in to run Leg 1 at the last minute – though I’m sure Dave regretted this when his cold worsened on Monday after being out all day in the cold!
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