UKA British Fell & Hill Relay Championships
Saturday 17th October 2015 in Barley
We were fortunate enough to have three teams in this years Fell Relays: A Men’s Open, Women’s Open, and Men’s Vets.
This year’s event was hosted by Clayton le Moors and took place at Pendle Hill.
Here’s the report from the Men’s Open Team:
“Relays + P&B = unmitigated disaster” – that statement is almost always a truism so it was with significant trepidation that the motley crew of P&Bers made their way to the start line in Barley to attack the 2015 Fell Relays.
As always, the day started well. Rob Hope announcing he was ill, and Joe Baxter still limping from when he fell over a pebble on the reccy 3 weeks before. Chat quickly turned to our previous near-misses at this event. That year that we gave Nixon about 3 hours head start but he managed to get lost on the only hill in Bowland. Or the time that we had a genuine shot at the title but decided to have a drinking game the night BEFORE the Relays in Scotland which ended with Pear Cider at 3am (turns out most other teams do their drinking AFTER the event). Or the time that Rob decided that he, Alistair Brownlee and Tim Davies were too important to disqualify so they didn’t bother with the checkpoints, jogged round together and were surprised when the organisers disqualified the first three teams. Or last year where Rob gave us a commanding lead but Gary Devine and Graham Pearce’s combined BMI of 50+ meant that up any sort of incline we were reduced to a crawl and we came home pretty much dead last. Anyway, surely the rabble we’d organised for this year’s event would have a similar fate, but maybe, just maybe…….
So it was no great surprise to see Rob leading the field after leg 1. Although he did promise us a 2 minute lead, he could only manage 5 seconds, but Joe and Graham set off and maintained a good pace for the first half of the leg. Keeping the pre-race favourites Calder Valley well within range, we made it our mission to bring the team home in a medal spot and our nav pair of Jamie “new boy” Parkinson and Matt “I can’t run on tussocks so why the f*ck have you put me on the nav leg?” Lockyer something to build from.
Now we must admit that although Graham had reccied the leg twice (that’s preparation for you never before heard of from Pudsey) he still made the wrong call off from checkpoint 5 and decided to back himself – navigation being one of his key strengths as we all know – rather than follow Calder. Ooops. Anyway, we recovered into 3rd place, having been leapfrogged by Dark Peak thanks to his stupidity. Joe decided to mark the spot where he fell over on the reccy to…fall over again…but this time instead of just bashing his toe he took a full body graze from his shoulder down to his knee. After some “encouraging” words from his partner Graham (ie “for f*cks sake Joe stay on your f*cking feet you t*t”) the pair came home in 3rd.
What happened next can only be described as a daydream, the stuff of legend. Graham headed home thinking the team were bound to completely cock it up at some point, and went on with the rest of his weekend. Would you believe it, but a text from team-mates a short while later informed him that we’d indeed not only maintained the podium place but improved to finish second overall with John “almost getting back to 2008 form” Heneghan bringing home the bacon on the anchor leg.
Still reeling in disbelief 3 days later, we are all hoping that there’s no scrutiny of the results, no call for inquests into the validity of all of our team runners – we have all paid or subs this year haven’t we lads? – no double-checking of the checkpoints that we actually went to them all and most certainly no random drug testing (we would fail on many counts). What we are doing is wondering just how close we came to gold, the what ifs – but really just pleased to be back in the mix in major competition.
What a result, what a day, PUDSEY & BRAMLEY IS BACK! It’s gold next year lads!
The Nav leg, from the navigator’s perspective
I had been warned that fell navigation races were somewhat different to orienteering races. The map is a different scale. All the paths aren’t on it (nor are some of the buildings, it turns out). It doesn’t distinguish between tussocks and peat hags and lightning fast grass. However I was still surprised when, after following tapes for c. 2hrs, we eventually got given our maps and found a series of checkpoints labelled by letters. ‘Complete the course in alphabetical order’ said the instructions. Panic set in – as a physicist, letters are not my strong point – but fortunately I managed to work out where we supposed to go and off we went, onto the fell, with the bloody Jackson 5 already stuck in my head where they would remain for the next hour. Fell running is definitely not as easy as 123.
As if you to reinforce the fact that this was definitely not an orienteering race, the first checkpoint was 100m away from where it should have been, cue much swearing from myself and a valiant attempt from Matt to calm me down. Fortunately the teams in front didn’t seem to be dealing with the leg any better, and after half an hour we had passed Dark Peak and caught up Calder Valley. Storming up the hill along with the Horwich boys, we reached the next checkpoint 2 mins up on Calder and were flying. How had this happened? For a short while it looked like we might do the unthinkable – run a good nav leg at the FRA’s. However whilst I may be a baby face at this club, I had at least done my homework and knew that this was not the P&B way. The next checkpoint was on top of a hill, but Horwich were going to the right of it. They’d been nailing the nav so far, so maybe they were on to something? Oh look, there’s a marshal stood by the wall which is 200m away from where our checkpoint should be, that’s surely not it, but why not run over and have a look? Nah, not ours. Must be up on the hill after all…
Finally spotting the fluorescent clad marshal, there was the sickening sight of Calder Valley, Dark Peak and Keswick all approaching from the opposite (and correct) direction and arriving at the same time as us. It turns out that if you pay attention to your map you get places quicker. Fair play to them. From here it was a burn up to the finish (down a steep rocky slope, Matt’s favourite), and we did at least manage to regain some pride by overtaking the remaining teams to claim a slender lead over the chasing pack. But what a lead it could have been!
Men’s Open Team: Leg 1 – Rob Hope 1st 35:25. Leg 2 – Graham Pearce & Joe Baxter 9th 1:08:15. Leg 3 – Jamie Parkinson & Matt Lockyer 5th 1:05:33. Leg 4 – John Heneghan 7th 40:42. —- 2nd Team Overall & Silver Medal Winners
Our ladies open team comprised Rachel Pilling on Leg 1; Caroline Harding & Jo Schreiber on Leg2; Claire Green & Jane Sheard on Leg 3; and Sarah Rowell on Leg 4.
Great to see Jane and Sarah on the fells especially!
Ladie’s Open Team: Leg 1 – Rachel Pilling 77th 45:24. Leg 2 – Caroline Harding & Jo Schreiber 110th 1:37:02. Leg 3 – Claire Green & Jane Sheard 83rd 1:31:52. Leg 4 – Sarah Rowell 123rd 1:03:05. —- 102nd Team Overall and 14th FOpen Team.
I’ve not heard any reports from our Vets team, other than that Shane and David Anderson may have have a celebratory drink too many, so they must have enjoyed themselves. Top work chaps!
Men’s Vet Team: Leg 1 – Shane Green 70th 44:35. Leg 2 – Jamie Noon & Neil Armitage 35th 1:17:38. Leg 3 – Charlie McIntosh & Colin Walker 28th 1:14:28. Leg 4 – David Anderson 64th 51:05. —- 43rd Team Overall and 10th Vets Team.
Cracking job all – well done to all who ran, supported, or was down as a reserve.