Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Totley Moor Fell Race 2015, 27th out of 253

3rd year on the trot I think that I've done this classic local race from Totley on the west of Sheffield. This year, Nathan, Chris, Andy and me headed up early to get registered and loosen up. Well, I say loosen up - Chris was shaking out 30 mile from Saturday's Dukeries Ultra and Andy was juggling a concoction of painkillers for a shoulder issue (including codeine!) and not running for a week... something tells me Andy's not going to have the run of his life here...

The weather had been very changeable all day including some hail showers but things really picked up for the evening. Before the race started, I decided I was gonna run in gloves come what may - I've really struggled with cold hands this year, so if I put gloves on, that was 1 less thing to worry about.

I felt good going in to the race, biking had been going very well recently - feeling strong, and I'd started the "fellrace weekly" feeling that dominates most of the summer scene here in the peaks. We're sooooo lucky !

Lots of SHUOC guys on the start line and after their domination at Burbage, who would argue against them dominating again ? BANG - the usual lap round the cricket pitch was comfortably despatched before the very long drag up road and track to the first offroad section. I was with Mr Fishwick and the first lady - the latter soon pulling away quite convincingly. All seemed well until the trig when Darren started edging ahead. Over the stile and again about 5 guys came past me on the descent (picture above) - typical for this race to be honest.

The descent is awesome - fast and long. Sadly, it's followed by the steepest section of the race. Pretty relentless too. I passed about 3 of the guys who'd passed me on the descent but being mindful not to push it too hard as we still had a lot of running to be done on the horse field / road / cricket pitch.  I lost one place (to a great descender) and gained a place but felt great as I crossed the line to a very relieved feeling that it was all over again.

Another amazing Totley fell race. I had no idea if I was faster or slower than last year, but looking at last years results some folks were over, some were under last years' times. I was a few seconds slower. Really shouldn't be too worried about times compared to last year, but for some reason I was ? I don't normally give a monkeys about times but I was now for some reason? Looking back, I think I'd always been in 'reasonable' shape for Totley Moor, last year I raced well at Totley and this year I felt strong, so I suppose it's logical to compare the times.

Thanks to Chris for driving.

Results here

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Burbage Skyline Fellrace, 33rd out of 288

This was the 3rd year in a row I'd be turning up for this early season classic and boy is it good ! This is why I love this race so much - each section has it's very own character...

* Chaotic start funnel with people charging and overtaking everywhere, then suddenly turn left and bam !

* The mad descent through boulders heather and old bracken to the stream. Made trickier by people EVERYWHERE ! Leave a 2m gap and someone's in there! People are taking every imaginable route that exists and routes that don't exist. Half way you cross the main burbage track. Time to speed up - the stream ain't far now!

* After leaping the stream (photo at bottom) there's a crazy hard climb to make up places you thought you lost cos you weren't fast enough on that stupid descent (or is that just how I always see it!)

* Flat out descent through very very narrow and twisty heathery trod. The guy in front of me is always threatening to pull away on this section but every year I keep him in check but sadly every year I max out on this section and regret it when I get to the next section which is the...

 Steep pull up to Over Owler Tor / Mother Cap. I always dread this as I hit the bottom of it maxed out from that bloody twisty heathery trod. It's all pretty steep and every section just cries out to me "please please please walk these few steps", but as ever in these fell races it's very hard to slow down with the guys behind seemingly closing in all the time. Lots of big boulder hopping and steps up on this section which had an angle that thankfully gradually eases until the marshalled summit 

* "Flat" section over to Higgar Tor. Well, I say flat but it's the rockiest section of the race. The guy in front of me went straight over into the heather and Andy Watson went over on his ankle here pretty badly too on the night. It's a very "uppy downy" flat section punctuated with rocks on the first half followed by some bogs then the steep hand on thigh climb to Higgar summit. All the time guys behind you breathing down your neck. Amazing views to die for to the left though at this point ! Sadly, each year I remember the winds here being really really bad - from rain that felt like sleet one year to winds that this year felt like they were going to blow my race number off the front of my vest!

* This is then followed by the (boggy this year) traverse of Higgar to the "fast descent to the stream". It's perfect descending territory in theory. Most people just either run fast and sensible (like me) or just plain stupid - running down rutted paths faster than I'd run down tarmac'd roads! Nice n fast tho normally with no incidents apart from 5 lost places normally then it's onto the

* Stream crossings plus climb to Upper Burbage Bridge. I normally do ok on this section overtaking about 5 people (normally the 5 who came past me on the last descent!). Two leaps over the stream (no, don't ask why we cross it twice when we could stay on the original side - god only knows, I've never had the chance to look) and then it's the long steady boggy gradual climb to the bridge. Nice n non technical really and a good chance to get your breath back before ...

Crossing the Stream just after the Start. People everywhere ! (courtesy of Front Runner)
* Crossing the brook (twice - how'd that happen?) and climbing over Burbage North before the super fast descent to the finish line. I always love this section as I normally make up lots of places here. It's a very gradual climb through rocks n easy paths but most people really are tiring by this spot in the race. Always good to hold something back for this bit as it goes on for ages. After the long climb, it's a short sharp twisty narrow descent to the main track and then it's really just 10k pace to the finish line. Thankfully it's a gradual descent until about 200m before the line, so just make sure you hold something back for that final 200m cos someone will be waiting to pounce, that's for sure.

Loved it again this year. It really is the best local summer race. It's got everything as you can gleam from above. I ran well despite not running much (not run in 8 days) I'd biked hard about twice a week and that got me through. For me it's "Biking well = Running well".

Good to have a few Belper Harriers out - Nathan, Ed, Andy W, Andy M, Chris and Helen. Andy Basey made a guest appearance too with Hannah.

Well done to Nathan for 22nd I think on the night - our top finisher on the night. Also thanks to Chris for driving and Andy Basey for actually turning up to something for once !

Results From Previous Years...
2015 33rd out of 288 (Top 11%) in 45:53
2014 43rd out of 310 (Top 14%) in 46:42
2013 51st out of 358 (Top  14%) in 45:38

 (2015 results link here)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Coiners Fell Race, 15th out of 112 ("Short" Route)

Nice little jaunt up to Calder Valley the weekend just gone. Always great to have an excuse to get up to that part of the world - I love it up there but it's even better when the sun is shining and there's a fell race to go to !
The Coiners race was 7-8 mile and around 400m of ascent so nothing earth shattering but as it fell on BH Monday it was easier for me to get to than my local race (Tigers Todger) on Wednesday night when Teresa is on nights. Dave fancies a cycle up a few big hills there too and of course there was Hebden Bridge cafe's at the end. What's not to like ?!?

I got there early and saw the tail end of an English Championship Counter in the junior series. Great to see so many young uns out getting muddy. A quick reccie of the first climb told me I needed to be near the front as there was a stile after 1/4 mile and then it narrowed through woods and went up. On the start line we were told that we wouldn't be disappointed with the quality of the bogs this year on the race "as good as ever" we were promised. What's this ? Bogs ??? I'd not run in mud since about September it seemed ?

The small loop far left (down and back up) was the one half the field chose to ignore !
As you can see from the map there's a steep first climb up to the high Erringdon Moors and then it's pretty much contouring plus a loop down and up at Stoodley Pike.

The start went well and I was in about 10th going over the stile. I felt great on the climb and with a bit in reserve moved up to about 7th on the high moors. I soon got overtaken by the better runners again and by Stoodley Pike I was back in about 9th. Hang on ? I'm at Stoodley Pike but I've not done the down and up loop ? I was following all the guys in front so perhaps there'd been a last minute route change I'd not heard about ? As it happens, all of the Top 30 or so missed the loop out. One way of getting a faster time I spose. Still, press on for some good contouring and maybe make up some places I thought.
I figured that 4 arms would be faster than 2. It didn't work

Oh my god - that descent took me by surprise - those bogs! Big and wet and lots of em. It wouldn't have been so bad, but I'd given everything on the climb as I thought the descent would be a nice gentle brakes off exercise. How wrong I was ! I managed to cling on, but that's all it was - clinging on. I lost about 5 places on the run in with minor tummy problems forcing me to ease up a little too.

Great race, would love to do it again when it's wet and claggy - I think it would take on epic proportions then !

Met up with Dave in The Bike Den - a great Cafe next to the Canal in Hebden Bridge. They do lovely Bacon Cobs, Cakes and Coffee as well as offering cheap "pre loved" bikes for sale. Lovely place. Full Results here