Saturday, 24 September 2011

Whernside Fell Race 2011

When some of the lads asked me on Thursday what I was up to at the weekend I announced that it was back over to Penrith, sadly for the last time (work) and then on to the Lakes for a good workout at Whernside... ‘Maybe’s someone’s moved Whernside ‘cause the last time I looked it was in the Dales’. Mmmm. Maybe a quick look at a map might be a good idea; and so it was, just down there past Sedbergh and Dent, the village with the impossibly narrow, cobbled main street.

I rolled up early to let the dog have a run around and then dispensed with the warm up, recognising that 12.5 miles and 3000ft of craggy Yorkshire Dales would raise the temperature enough. The registration was being taken in a very orderly fashion and I passed over my fiver. It was sponsored by La Sportiva and we were each given a map.

There were well over 100 runners and we left the village and padded our way down a narrow tarmac road for a couple of kilometres to Mill Bridge before starting to climb up a gravel track. The ground was very wet but it was mild in the valley initially and the drizzle and low cloud came and went. However, the wind soon picked up as we climbed I made some ground up to Whernside and across past High Pike taking shelter where I could.
I couldn’t decide after half an hour whether to pull out my waterproof jacket, but I was running with a Bingley and a Kendal runner and didn’t want to become detached from them. I spent time running with another runner in a grey t-shirt (at the finish he revealed he was from Bingley-or was that Bramley) and just before the hour we were a little group of 5.

At 56 minutes we stopped at The Crag as we were faced with a craggy drop; I guess that’s why it’s called The Crag but we soon resumed the descent with the help of Kendal man. It was back onto the tarmac and then back off and a steady climb up another track of grass and green slate laminated gravel to Great Coum. After that it was all downhill via Gill Rigg and the mist cleared to reveal a patchwork of fields on the other side of Dentdale and a string of runners below. It was fast and boggy across the sphagnum, sodden peat and tussocks of rushes as we tried to catch the crew up ahead and no sooner had we made contact than another guy appeared from behind. He accelerated past and I stayed with him, in turn passing 2 or 3 on the way down back into the valley and as the air warmed I was happy to see the finish line. The wet, spongy terrain made me feel like I’d ran 20 miles even though it was only 1:48 on the line and it was a strength sapping, punishing run. Carl Bell looked like he’d been finished a while and I didn’t stay for the prizes. Talking of punishing runs, roll on Langdale (That is in the Lakes, isn’t it?!)

1 comment:

joel dalby said...

I happened across your group at the crag and was similarly grateful to Kendal man. I lost touch with the group up Great Coum but as I had no idea of the route I was grateful for the collective for leading the way and just staying in sight. Was a thoroughly enjoyable race and I enjoyed reading your perspective, and the pictures!