The only fell event in the Upper Tees , run annualy by Durham Fell Runners , saw 2 of our ageing fellers take on the rocky terrain up beyond High Force.
This is a fine race but sadly not supported as well as it deserves . It is also quite ideal for anyone contemplating a first fell run. The course has a mixed bag of tarmac , track , moorland and some bog , with hard broken rock on the plateaus and a couple of ‘water features’. It is an out and back route and is well marshalled by DFR . You really can’t get lost. DFR are one of the top fell outfits these days and the race gives you a rare chance to run past some of the region’s leading fellrunners who were out in force on the course ! ( In fact you can run past all of them twice – except for Duncan Archer – who only gives you 1 chance).
It is 8 years since I last ran the race – coinciding with another Inglund disaster in the Euros . So it was good to enjoy some real sport before settling down to the comedy. Unbeknown to me (and unknown to me before the race), Iain Ross had also made the trip. Iain was keen to get some mountain miles in his legs for the upcoming Chevy and the Cronkley provided a good mix with the prospect with 17 k or so of distance. In fact the initial climb out of Holwick is not too dissimilar to the lung belter at Wooler.
We soon settled down once the legs had warmed through into groups that we would run with for the event – and with sharp visibility you could more or less track the leaders making their way to the Tees. Approaching half way , the outbound leaders return and then you face the deluded belief that you can’t be too far off the front …until you count the minutes to the return point which is at the Tees just below Cauldron Snout.
The halfway point required a crossing of the River Tees – and up and onto the far bank. Purely to keep Duncan Archer entertained , he’d been asked to man (as Crocodile Duncan, no doubt) an inflatable crocodile while recording numbers. The ‘game’ was to cross the river and smack the croc on the snout….this led to a heated exchange on the near bank about my allergy to reptiles (developed while the Miliband brothers were in political office) as seconds were wasted about the need to make the crossing. Duncan seemed oblivious to all this like one of those genteel ladies who blissfully ignores her chihuahua fouling the pavement. He may have had a rubber inflatable – but didn’t have a rubber ring for those in danger of drowning – claiming instead that the water level was ‘low’ this year.
Racing on – and was personally pleased to make up a few places on the return , even avoiding getting passed on the final descent home. Iain came in soon behind to be shortly awarded a prize as best looking vet in long socks (so they came in useful after all). In typical fell club style , DFR’s receipts for the race were hastily evaporated in alcohol prizes.
This is a very interesting area botanically (so good for vegetarians) and geology (for the rock hard) and lies close by Middleton in Teesdale . It is worth making a day of it with a picnic. Iain and I made do with a steak pie and chips at the inn at the end of the road. Hopefully more can make the journey next time. Thanks to DFR for the photos – they took lots of them.
The race winner came from Kenilworth ! Results in full here : http://www.durhamfellrunners.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cronkley-fell-race-results-2016.pdf