Blakey Blitz

As pubs go, the Lion at Blakey is remote (well, it’s kind of near Blakey) . It’s verging on the “I don’t believe the satnav” remote and certainly, “how on Earth does this place manage to stay open?” remote.  It’s a perfect place from which to base a fell race and I hope the race brought in what appearances suggested would be a useful few quid to the place.

The Lion Inn – it’s the smudge in the middle of that moorland…

The Blakey Blitz is a 10.7 mile race across the North York Moors which consists of three climbs and descents.  Unusually, it starts with a descent which means even the most cerebrally challenged fellrunner knows they’ll be contending with the brutality of an uphill finish.  The finishing climb gains 600 feet inside a mile. In short, this race promised to be a tricky little bugger.

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Preparations were uncertain.  11 miles (near as damn it) is a classic in-between kind of distance.  Do I take a water bottle? Gels? If so, how many? How many layers? Also, do I head out fast and hang on, or pick it up later (and if so when and will I be able to?).  It’s a procrastinator’s wet dream and so it was proved when at 10:15 on a promising-looking Sunday morning in a lonely pub car park in the middle of a moor, at least three Polyfellers were taking things out and then putting things back into the boot of a forlorn looking Volvo estate.

Jon, David and Mark were joined at the start line by Chris Rowe who looked sprightly and up for it, which made one of us.  Jon and Mark were subtly making sure everyone knew that they had done the Wrekenton XC the day before, textbook start-line behaviour.

As ever with a fellrace, the Race Organiser (RO) vaguely mentioned that we could start running if we felt like it and we were off.  The start was straight into a descent with Smith and Heaney windmill-arming down and Smith throwing in an impromptu commando roll into the bargain (no momentum was lost I should add).  As the first climb presented itself, Jon pulled away as did Chris, not that we saw him, and David and Mark lodged themselves firmly into the mid pack.

The various climbs and descents kind of blurred into a vision of peat and heather before that same initial descent re-presented itself as a climb on tired legs.  Mercifully, the finish line was before the road (I think trying to change speed and/or direction at that stage would be been impossible so it’d have been Russian Roulette with whatever traffic was up there) and all four of us made it home.

Chris Rowe was gone before any of us joined him and was 16th overall.  Despite the excuse of having run the XC on Saturday, and at a canny lick (I’m learning…), Jon Heaney had a great run to finish 21st – class.

Some time later, Mark Smith appeared to take 35th spot and David Gilmore knocked out yet another strong day on the fells to record 65th spot (@ 120 ran?).

OK, calm down ladies…

Well done to the four that ran and chapeau to Esk Valley for another slick race.

Race Summary: 10.7 miles, 2300′ ascent and descent, three climbs and three descents and a 600′ climb to the finish

Polyfellers present:  Chris Rowe (16th), Jon Heaney (21st), David Gilmore (65th) and Mark Smith (35th). @120 ran.




Go get her Mr G…


Brough Law – but no brough justice…

We were lucky today – near perfect conditions to start off the 2016 North Shields Poly fellrunning championships.  Skies that were clear but not blazing or harsh, a breeze that was gently refreshing rather than in any way retarding, temperatures requiring of vest only (which I know could mean anything in the north-east) and even the ground conditions were good to firm.

Even having 13 participants in the red, white and navy wasn’t a portent to grief as all made it round the 5 mile course safely whilst skilfully picking off the 1200′ of ascent and descent.  Up stepped ten polyfellers and three polyfillies and with 82 runners running in total, the Poly made up 15% of the field!

Brough Law is a perfect introduction to fellrunning.  Short, straight up from the start, fast descents and a well marked route. It doesn’t mess about – a 500′ climb starting with the first step of the race.  Puffing and panting within seconds is the norm.  After a half mile of oxygen debt, the course opens up into a runnable moorland, with a gentle descent and another lung bursting climb which is almost runnable for the average runner – making it especially exhausting.  Matters are concluded with a descent back down the way we came up, allowing those of us that can descend but can’t run so well a chance to make up a few places 🙂

37 minutes after setting off, the winner (Lee Bennett from NFR) crossed the line.  Fellrunning newcomer, young and annoyingly talented Scott Ellis came a brilliant 7th in just 40:08, with the even younger William Robson hunting him down in 8th (40:23). Barely a minute later, Chris Rowe completed the top ten (and 2nd V40) in 41:38 with Danny Richardson in pursuit in 11th (41:49).

Whatever the collective noun for Poly fellrunners is (answer on a postcard?), the pattern of our runners finishing in little groups of them continued.  7th and 8th, 10th and 11th, then Andrew Cairns and Graham Lewis Dale smooching over in 18th and 19th, followed by Mark Smith and Katherine Davis in 28th and 31st respectively, with Katherine running well enough to bag second lady, a great effort and well judged, as 30 seconds faster may have resulted in her having to find alternative transport home…:)

Will chasing Scott to the finish

Barry Young comfortably made the starting time by whole minutes and led home David Gilmore who clearly wasn’t knackered enough (below).

Coolest finish of the day

Lisa Henderson had a cracking run to finish ahead of the venerable Mr Johnson with Rachel Inman completing our bakers’ dozen and banking some solid pre-Chevy miles and climbing.

Personally, this race was a event.  A year ago, having just moved into the area and not settled into a running club, I turned up and did this unattached and really felt exactly that. A year on (and a minute faster!) and what a pleasure to run these lovely hills with some splendid folk.


PS – Next championship counter is the Coledale Horseshoe in the Lakes on the 9th April.  Now THAT’S a proper fell race.


Brough Law 13 March 2016

7  40:08 Scott Ellis M 27 MSEN North Shields Poly

8  40:23 William Robson M 18 MU23 North Shields Poly

10 41:38 Chris Rowe M 40 M40 North Shields Poly 2nd M40

11 41:49 Danny Richardson M 37 MSEN North Shields Poly

18 44:20 Andrew Cairns M 38 MSEN North Shields Poly

19 44:38 Graham Lewis-Dale M 34 MSEN North Shields Poly

28 46:11 Mark Smith M 43 M40 North Shields Poly

31 46:39 Katherine Davis F 48 W45 North Shields Poly 2nd F and 2nd W40

47 49:43 Barry Young M 56 M55 North Shields Poly

54 52:45 David Gilmore M 52 M50 North Shields Poly

60 55:12 Lisa Henderson F 35 WSEN North Shields Poly

63 55:57 David Johnson M 59 M55 North Shields Poly

71 1:00:37 Rachel Inman F 36 WSEN North Shields Poly