Captain Cooks Fell Race

A few weeks ago we decided to go away for New Year in the Yorkshire Dales.  Naturally I decided to see whether there were any events nearby and I found a fell race about an hour away starting in a village called Great Ayton.  I've never done an event like this before so had no idea how I was going to do.  Some fell runners do not call this a 'proper' fell race as there is quite a bit of flat on tarmac and footpaths.  However, for me at least it seemed to be a good first event to attempt as a taster of what fell racing is like.  The course was 5.3 miles with about 260 metres of climb.

We started off and as usual I was a little way back from the front but straight away lost touch as the road still had traffic and we had to take avoiding action and funnel through gaps in the pavement.  I probably only lost 5 seconds or so but it meant I lost touch with the front of the field.  The first km was mostly flat on tarmac and as usual I came through the field from about 20th to 9th.  At all times I was conscious about what was ahead of me and was trying to keep off the gas a little.  The second km was a mixture of road and good farm track and was a reasonably gentle climb uphill - maybe 30 metres or so.  By the end of this km I was now placed 5th but also I could tell I was catching the front of the field although the top 4 were still well clear of me.

Fourth or fifth at this point before the start of the main climb.

We were now faced with the big climb over the next 1.5km and it was just a case of chugging away and keep the momentum going.  I quickly overtook the fourth placed runner at the start of the climb and then joined the 2nd and 3rd placed runners.  All of a sudden the 3rd placed runner started to walk and I slotted in behind second.  Bit by bit the climb got steeper and steeper and as we entered the forest I was faced with no choice but to walk, it must have been steeper than a 1 in 3 gradient.  That said I overtook the second placed runner and I was still catching the leader, although he was still some way ahead.  Every now and then the gradient would flatten out and I started to jog although my legs felt like jelly.  Before I knew it the climb was over and to be honest I didnt feel too bad.  The last few hundred metres climbed gently out of the forest to Captain Cook's monument and in the process the runner I had overtook earlier passed me and I slotted in behind.

At the top of the climb.  I've noticed that I always look like I'm suffering (I sort of was), but actually didnt feel as bad as I look!  We were well clear of runners behind us at this point.

I know I'm a weak descender so I just tried to hang on.  To begin with I was fine but it got extremely muddy and I kept slipping and eventually I started to lose touch and as we started a small road section I was probably 10 seconds or so behind but I could sense others were catching up behind.  There was then a small but steep climb and my legs had pretty much gone by this point and as the climb finished I was overtaken and was now fourth.  There was just the muddly gentle descent over the last 1.5km to the finish and I easily managed to defend my position.

On the way down.  Still 3rd at this point.

Overall I came fourth out of circa 250 runners in a time of 33.41 (18 and 22 seconds behind 2nd and 3rd), ahead of fifth who was 19 seconds behind.  Overall I'm pretty happy with how I ran, I clearly seem to have a talent going up hills!  Not bad for my first fell race and I feel there is plenty of room for improvement which bodes well for the future.

I got an honorable mention in the results:
There were four principal contenders in Harry Holmes, Chris Roberts, Paul Lowe and Lloyd Biddell with Sam Garratt and Jason Cavill just behind. This group pulled away on the first big climb up to the monument where advantage goes to those who know the fastest line of descent. Now it was a speed session to the finish where Harry Holmes was able to throw off former winner Paul with Chris just behind then Lloyd. The first junior man was Sam in 5th.

I dont have any other events planned at the moment but will try to have a good month of January training and possibly try to find something suitable in February.


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