Thursday, 28 April 2016

Masson Hill Fell Race : 17th/157

This is always the first proper Summer evening fell race of the year for me and a few others from the club. Over the last 3 years I've come to adore this race as you'll see from the review here here and here. It really is a mini classic - hence why this year I was really keen to get this into the club Fell Race Series.
Masson Hill Fell Race gps route trace. You can't see the hills like this...
Thankfully Helen agreed - so all we needed to do now was get people interested - how hard could that be when I knew it was quite hard and very steep at the start! The build up to this race had seemingly gone well in terms of me gaining interest in it from club members. Lots of hyping this one up from me to every possible member of the club - plus a few more who weren't in the slightest bit interested. Apologies! I really, really wanted to get new people into the Summer Evening Peak District Fell Race scene - it really is a highlight of summer for me now and I was really hoping this race would get people addicted. Big climbs, big descents and views. All the vital ingredients!!

about half of us after the race - something had tickled us!
On the night an unprecedented cold snap gave us hail storms with one just 20 mins before the start - it made the warm up Marcus and me did feel very Xmas'y ! Thankfully - the blue skies as we left Belper were enough to get people's bums on seats in cars and loads turned up. 27 I think ? From my perspective the race went brilliantly. I'd eaten a little more protein in the day than I would normally and the constant weekly hill reps I've been doing meant my legs just kept on going. It felt ace - in fact the best I've felt in a race possibly ever. Sadly that didn't quite translate into position (although I think I lost 20 seconds due to shoe lace and taking a wrong turn on the descent!) but at least I was first harriers home ahead of Saul and new comer James. Great work

To top the evening off about 15 of us went for a liquid dinner topped off with Pizzas provided by the Ladies captain - how sporting was that !!

17th out of 157 so top 11% but a great great night out

BDL Summer League Race 1 : Teversal, 37th out of 404

First BDL of the season always means one thing - pain!

This year though, I did feel a little better prepared going into race 1. Firstly I'd done hill reps with the club most of the winter. Secondly, I'd done the odd few fell races through the last month or 3 so I wasn't completely rusted up!

About 70% of the Harriers that turned out - there were a lot of us!
As we were going through a purple patch in the club, we had what seemed like a record club turnout - certainly a record number of new members anyway - fantastic to see. It feels like we're really doing something right. 

After a reasonable warm up in my New Balance Zero Drops (don't know the model!) I felt like I was ready to go, so lined up on the start line seeing many new faces turn up and race for the club. I still had to remember to race well though - concentrating on the job in hand. After too many races where I've gone off too fast I'm getting better at doing the first quarter of the race just below max keeping breathing very under control and then slowly upping it. Pace was going well after a few miles, I felt comfortable so I thought I'd try and overtake a few.

All was seemingly going well until 3,5 miles in where we turned the final bend into the mile long finish trail. A "fatal" combination of ;
  • Someone overtaking me who I fancied the chances of keeping up with,
  • Me having just overtaken quite a few runners so already having upped the breathing and finally
  • A slight incline for the whole of the next mile
tipped me firmly into the red zone!!! Bugger. There was nowhere to go now - just let the foot off the gas, get breathing sorted then take off again. To my horror, Tom was only just in front of me now - he was clearly feeling it. I knew he should be well in front of me so I tried to encourage him on and told him not to sprint off else he'd regret it. Afterwards, he thanked me for this as he told me that he too was on empty!

37th out of 404 and 5:59 min/mile so top 9%. Can't argue and was pleased in how I felt for the first 3/4 of the race - just a little more race sharpening required !!!

Strava link here

Monday, 4 April 2016

Lads Leap Fell Race, 21st/146

Lads leap fell race has been on my radar for a while. It's been a "National Champs" fell race in the last few years so I think that's probably why I made a mental note of it.  This year though, it hadn't really entered on my to shortlist until Chris reminded me about it a few weeks back - and anyway this was Chris telling me about it - no doubt he'd be a no show or have a road race / taking Tom to football excuse ? Anyway, I thought no more about it until 3 days before the event and he was still bang up for it. Wow! A quick msg on facebook gets some excuses but also gets Matt onboard. Fresh from his reccie of the Glencoe skyline reccie I was keen to meet up with him.

The forecast for the day was "good from lunchtime" but we arrived at the campsite in almost wall to wall sunshine at 1030.  As expected, the mandatory kit was relaxed so after a few hard warm up bursts up the first climb we were ready to race!
Lads Leap Fell Race Route : Starting from the campsite, steep up to Lads Leap down the 'knarr' then back up the track through the woods to Millstone rocks. All through lovely, lovely bogs !!!
Only two climbs...
In the week leading up to this, I'd just been out on two short but hard local bike routes. My lungs felt like they were getting there but I'd not run for 2 weeks so as all too often I "wasn't sure how it would go". As short races go, this is at the harder end of the scale. One of the hardest short races I've done in fact. Lets look at the facts ;
  • First climb is very long and only just runnable, it then turns to 
  • Bogs - lots of 2m wide bogs to run through / across never quite knowing how deep they are followed by some 
  • Deep Bogs - the more evil variety.  You know the type - as you approach them you are frantically scanning them left to right, then back across right to left, then a bit further right - and a bit further left - just before realising that "no there is not a good option through this, I'm just gonna have to run through it and rely on the fact that no heads of faster fell runners are poking out that it's do-able". Inevitably these bogs result in you fearing that you will emerge with one or both fell shoes remaining in the bog. If you survive with both shoes intact you will probably just end up with an ungainly fall - often sinking up to your knees you will no doubt have to grab on some heather / peat / tussocks to escape. After that it's the 
  • Rocky dried up stream beds which take you left down to the 
  • Fence line laced with barbed wire which invariably you will try to grab as the fence goes down very very steeply to start just before the 
  • Long quarry track. Phew - a track which can be run! Well, I say run but this track just seems to be at the angle which is easy enough to run on but steep enough to never make it easy. Anything more than a slow shuffle up this climb is good. This takes you up to what I found to be the hardest part of the course, the
  • Boggy Climb back to "Lads Leap". Uphill bogs - why can't race organisers always warn us poor runners about uphill bogs! They are evil! 
Thankfully after lads leap, it's all downhill - gradual with tussocks and some rocks to start and then eventually steeply back down to Crowden (photo below) - what is actually a fantastic descent!

The final descent : Caitlin Rice pulling away as I capture the View from Highstone Rocks
I was running in about 19th out to the fence line descent at which point a runner from Southwell came bombing past me and Caitlin Rice caught me up. Caitlin took me on the descent so 21st out of 146 runners and top 14.3%. My legs never really felt "great" - just "ok to good" which reflects I've not run for 2 weeks. 5.9 miles in about 58 mins. Stuart Bond was 48 mins.

All in all a fantastic hour of racing - we could all see exactly why this has been chosen previously as a National Champs Fell race - it certainly leaves you knowing who's the boss !
Me, Chris and Matt - all smiles. Afterwards!

Results here
Strava link here