Sunday, 23 June 2013

Windy Gyle Fell Race...with added history

When Auntie Aggie asked casually over the breakfast table if I was running today's Windy Gyle Fell Race, I stared into my ricicles and, after a pause, I looked up and mumbled
'probably' through a mouthful of half crunched, sugar frosted puffed wheat.
'You best get on then, fat boy', she added nodding to the clock above the cooker. Its never been the same since it melted when she had a misguided effort to cook by fondu. Mini Armageddon with cheese.
I've had most of the week off and only just got back, nursing a tight hamstring. After a little telephone diplomacy, another two sturdy competitors had been identified and I packed the car and took off up the road with my two passengers.  This fell race is set in the rolling Cheviots in the height of summer. Its mostly on grass, but has short stretches of rough track and tarmac as well.

Around 70 turned out in warm sunshine to sign up. The sky was very busy though, threatening and soon the heavens opened just before the start.  I saw Fred Smith of Saltwell up at the front as we ascended the first climb and having covered around 3km, I passed him and aimed for his team mate who was ahead with a NFR runner. I hooked up with them at Murder Cleugh, the site of an infamous murder in 1610, and then it was onwards to Windy Gyle and the cairn, near the site of an iron age fort and meeting place for the border wardens to settle their differences.

Around the halfway mark, NFR man had put in some distance but I was still with Saltwell man. As I tagged behind him I noticed his ironman tat on his calf.
I concluded that he wasn't going to be any sort of pushover.  As it was, it didn't matter. With the long descent looming, he pushed on, on a short rise and before long there was ten or twelve seconds between us. The descent was stunning and all easily runnable and punctuated with styles and it didn't seem like 8.5 miles before the cars and the gurgling Coquet came into view. With no one behind me, I stepped gingerly over the last style at Trow Road beside a former drovers inn at Slymefoot. 

I crossed the line in around 1:09 and grabbed the camera to fire off a couple of shots before the rain came down in rods and I took shelter in the car. It looked like most of the field got caught in the torrential downpour. One runner was heard to say afterwards 'it was revitalizing'. 

Having now ran this three times, I think this is probably one of my favourite fell races. With a bottle of beer for first in category, we returned to base having taken in some beautiful and isolated Northumbrian countryside and a little of the Borders history. Quality.

1 comment:

phil green said...

excellent as ever Ali!