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

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