Racing Snakes, bless ’em, have published some photos of us merry lot (couldn’t find you Chris O). Graham – that could be a fellrunning ‘Madness’ video…..
Check out the top of the climb behind me….it really was that steep!
27th February 2016
9.5 miles, 1600 feet ascent
Poly posse: Chris Rowe, Graham Lewis-Dale, Mark Smith, Chris Oliphant and Katherine Davis (running as NFR, but we’ll let her off…)
High Cup is quite the beauty spot – a half mile wide, three mile long beautifully symmetrical bathtub of a valley glacially scooped out of a high Pennine fellside and ringed with dolerite crags. It’s also rather shy – you don’t see it until you’re in it and it’s a genuine ‘wow’ inducing occasion when it shows itself.
|High Cup from the ‘Nick’ (a gap in the crags which we climbed up today)|
Well, it would induce a ‘wow’ if one could form even a syllable. Getting there in the race is a breakneck 2 mile charge from pretty Dufton villiage and with over 7 to go, for me at least it yielded an ‘oh s**t’…
|The laser display board|
270 runners, a record turnout, turned up to be wowed in perfect, late winter weather; a calm easterly, no rain and clear skies. The village hall was stocked with cakes and tea, there was more lycra and down jackets than you could shake a compass at and it really felt like a ‘proper’ fellrace.
|It’s all about the cakes|
Britain’s best were there, with British Champion Ricky Lightfoot going after his own record and to be the first to break the hour (he ended up setting the record and running 1:00:02!).
The Poly fielded a men’s team, with Chris Rowe getting back first in 1:17 and finishing somewhere in the 70’s position-wise, setting a personal pb by 4 mins so a superb run there. Graham Lewis-Dale had a terrific fellrunning debut, finishing about 80th (?) in 1:20 wearing trail shoes which could not have helped on some of the technical ground on the (totally exhilarating) 4 mile descent. Graham had arguably the run of the day from us lot and I suspect new shoes next time out means that this was the last and only time the next runner in, Mark Smith, gets within 2 mins of him as he trailed in at 1:22 (about 100th position?). Chris Oliphant completed the male quartet, coming in at 1:45, chalking up yet another cracking day in the hills.
Katherine Davis was the only Poly lady out today (although she was a funny shade of purple in the colours of NFR), coming home in 1:26 and finishing very strongly – another fine run for the current Poly ladies fell-champion.
|Dutton village green|
The race itself was a three mile steady uphill trail run, a one mile steep climb culminating in a sheer headwall of crags requiring the handling of rocks to pull oneself up and then a four mile steady and then steepening downhill on mixed ground (and some ice) which was a test of nerve, stamina and quads. It had a bit of everything.
Navigation was not required, just follow whichever of the 269 others were in front of you as well as the obliging little orange flags. I would recommend this to anyone wanting to give fellrunning a go. It was a belter.
Mark Smith 27 Feb 2016
PS – the Poly fell championship starts in two weeks on 13 March at Brough Law in the Cheviots. More details here