High Cup – Additional Photos

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!



High Cup Nick fell race

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.

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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’…

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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.

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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.

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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