Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Fellsman 2013 review, 61 miles, 11,000ft climb

Joint 9th Overall, 12hours 24 mins - 55 mins quicker than last year and way faster than I ever dreamed I'd do.

What a stunning day all round - for both Checkpoint Marshalls and runners!
Views to die for at Fleet Moss
On reflection, I think that was the best race I've ever done. Not the fastest, not the hardest, not the best result - but as a total package - I enjoyed that more than any other race I've done.  Yes, views like those above all day long certainly helped make this a race I'll remember for a long time but there was more to it than that.

The Fellsman is a pretty special race anyway - there's a massive team of organisers (year round committee and on the day), 500 entrants and massive logistics in keeping the 24 checkpoints in contact. Then there's the course - most entrants regard this as either their hardest race of the year or normally in the top 3 (perhaps if competing abroad) and rightly so - if you're not doing a big climb or a big descent, you're on the rough stuff - perhaps a rough track or a small trod if you're lucky or tussocks if you're not.

Saul, Graham and me had been targetting this race for months - Saul and Graham as perfect Bob Graham prep for a months time, me as a springboard for Saul and Graham's support and later in the year my UTMB TDS race in August in the Alps. Sadly, Graham had to duck out which left Saul and me to make our pilgrimage to Threshfield School like previous years but - unlike any previous year - both Saul and me were running it the same year - he's done two previously and I've done just one but not on the same years. Added excitement ! Although not competing against each other, I think we genuinely hoped we'd both do really really well - whatever that means!
Saul and me on the start line, Ingleton
The weather at the start was perfect - cool, still (ish) and sunny. Time for a quick photo whilst we could still smile and at 9:05 we were off - straight up Ingleborough with the 403 other runners who'd made it to the start line (500+ registering). Saul and me immediately split up as we were running our own races, but almost inevitably we were running alongside each other after Ingleborough as we are normally the same pace.

Hills came and went.
Views for 100 miles came and went.
Competitors came and went.
Checkpoints came and went.

but these are the memories I'll take away ;

* The view looking down from Great Coum Westwards - Cumbria on the horizon with masses of open fell at my feet.
* The view looking down from Great Coum Northwards - The Howgills looking mighty fine.
* The views down towards Hubberholme (nr Cray) across valleys lined with dry stone walls coated in early evening sunlight.
* Lots of people to chat to all day, including marshalls and fellow competitors
*Legs feeling great all day - takes me back to my Bob Graham (but I've never had the flying sensation again since!)
* No low points - last year was a struggle on several ocassions, notably Dent to Blea Moor.
* Running with Kev and Dan from Dent to the end. We made a good team, lighthearted banter for 35+ miles! Kev with a formidable running pace and Dan with a formidable future ahead of him.
* Not being grouped at all - a kind of 'god like status' at the Fellsman - arriving 2 mins before grouping started.
* My time of 12h24 was far in excess of what I ever thought I'd achieve. I expected under 13hours, perhaps 12h45, but certainly not that. And yes, there probably is room for improvement next year now I look back. Not entirely sure, but thinking of the competitors ahead of me, I could have been 3rd Vet ?
* The Cocktail Sausages at Park Rash! Kev and me were craving savoury so bad, and until now dry rolls hadn't cut the mustard. We couldn't get enough of these buggers tho - so apologies to anyone who turned up late and there weren't any !

Like last year, it was nice to have a pint afterwards reflecting on a truly grand day out. It was cold walking back to the school though - but at least my legs were still talking to me. It was good to see Saul when I got back to the school - eyes not quite focused but about what we expect from him after a long race! He'd knocked 15 mins off his PB finishing in around 13h30, so was pleased (ish), but - as ever - there's masses of room for improvement it seems!
Ingleton to Grassington - The Hard Way

Starting off with 2 of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, it's hard to know if the climbs are worse than the bogs!
Strava link here
Fellsman post race discussion here
Results not up yet, but they should be somewhere here

Note to Self : Stay right of the Stream up Buckden!!


Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
I'm glad you had a good time in the fellsman. A brilliant post and well done by the way. Don't worry there were plenty of sausages left at park rash. We had to take 4 boxes back!


Dave (1 of the park rash marshals)

PS I'm nowhere near your league but I'm thinking of entering as a hiker (I'm not a runner unfortunately) again next year for the 3rd time but I've always had to drop out at Dent! If I can get past dent that will be my PB! Haha

Alan Billington said...

That is funny Dave ! I showed those sausages who was boss - I'm not sure if it was you who was telling us that if we'd have been there 5 mins before we could have had garlic bread but that DEFINITELY didn't help !! Nice one