A chance for P&B’s more sedate runners (and Caroline Harding) to grab some championship points without the speedy-uns in attendance!
A lovely sunny day gave way to dark clouds as start time approached. As Kevin Shand led us down to the start lamppost there was a roll of thunder and the race began in pouring rain. If that didn’t get everyone reaching for the mandatory kit then 2 minutes later the sky unleashed her heaviest battery of hail with such skull-cracking force that it brought a race which had barely started to a virtual standstill.
As everyone fumbled for their waterproofs (though a crash helmet might have been a better option) I dived for cover in the bracken and made a quick calculation that it’d take me twice as long as anyone else to get my kit on, and probably 4 times as long to get it back off again, so best just crack on. Was that cheating?
Stinging limbs, perforated scalps and brain freeze went with us as we plodded up through the bracken and onto the top. Thankfully the hail eased off.
Turnslack is a marked course with an orange flag every 100m or so (many of them planted kindly by Caroline and Steve) which you sort of feel compelled to follow. This does remove the navigation element, but for someone who struggles to do more than one thing at a time this isn’t a bad thing – and Kevin’s a great tour guide. The terrain is varied and good fun. There’s even a great view if you dare to look.
From the turn point at Freeholds top there’s a gallop down to Ramsden Clough Reservoir. It was empty. It was so empty you could see the ‘plug hole’.
The famous tussocks on the final climb (as described last year by Seddon) were like castles with very slim moats round them. I decided quickly it was better to aim for the moats.
The final slog across the top took us right underneath the blades of one of the huge turbines which now dominate the landscape, then the best bit of all; slaloming down through the bracken and the surprise finish, along the pavement and up the steps to the church door.
Danny Hope, returning to the scene of his 2007 victory finished 3rd this time, beaten by a flying Phil Marsden who also took his course record. Although, as Danny pointed out, the ground was bone dry today, whereas it was sopping wet in 2007. Among the women, Caroline was 6th behind winner Rebecca Patrick.
I finished in, I felt, a creditable 30th place. Braveshorts, not in the same form as last year and possibly affected by the great cagoule dilemma, 46th. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves.
Having supped our tea & cake afterwards, sat in the church pews, the winners were announced and could then select a prize from those on offer. I’d not seen this before at a fell race but it worked really well. For example, Steve Smithies got a bottle of Lambrini, Ken Taylor a set of pans, Marcus Preedy chose a frisbee and Gavin Mulholland held aloft in triumph his 9 pack of Andrex. He was seen later wandering the streets of Calderbrook with it, looking for his car.