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 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.
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?).
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.