As I sat close in behind a speedy runner from Tynedale Harriers, resplendent in his all black gear, I tried to concentrate. I tried hard even as the beads of sweat trickled down my cheeks.
His pace was just beyond my limit as we began the short ascent through the pine forest near the halfway mark of last nights Beaconhill Fell Race at Rothbury. I felt my breathing struggle. The legs were not responding. He was getting away (again)....
My mind was somewhere else. All I could think of as hoards of flies swarmed around my sweat-laden bandana in the summer heat was Michael Jacksons 'blame it on the boogie'. As I tried to jettison the tune lodged doggedly somewhere in the acoustic cavern of my psyche, it morphed to something else. The heat was really getting to me.
As he pulled away on the short climb back up to the ridge, it was for the second time in the 6 mile fell race that he had 20 seconds on me. He was even catching a tall NFR runner ahead. As I watched him go, I turned and looked back only to see Saltwell's Smith not far behind.
However, I wasn't done yet.
Having given the flies the heave-ho as I ran along the dry-as-sticks sandstone track, I also passed the NFR runner and was still in the chase. A very hot pursuit.
The competition took a sharp right and set off up the last steep climb of the day, a scramble up the gritstone face through the heather to the top of Simonside. He disappeared from view. But it's easier to chase than lead, at least in my book. I think (pitifully) that it was the fact that he had some grey hair and I guessed he might be my V50 competition that I didn't give in. Over the climb is the ridge and as we both ran along the sandstone slabs along the Simonside ridge, he was coming back. He slowed a little as the paving gave way to rough track on a short descent that required either some 'technical' skills or just being 'abit mental'. In my small armoury of blunt, fell running weapons, that means announcing 'f+*# it' and launching myself down over the boulders and cobbles with arms waving wondering which teeth I might break first if I went down.
I caught him sooner than I would have thought possible and then sat in as we continued over more flattish paving and steps. However I took a different route going down a short drop and hit the front and had no option then but to crack on at full blast across to Dove Crag and down to Lordenshaw Car Park. What a blidy effort for an old man.
Finished 6th and collected a modest bottle of wine for my trouble. He wasn't even in my category it transpired. Still, got under the hour and waited for the young 'un to come in before we took off back home. By that time my head was full of 'Don't stop till you get enough....' OOOW.
Thanks to M for the photos and NFR for the race.