Monday, January 26, 2009


Well, I had 3 options for Sunday- get up early enough to be at the Rugby Club for 8:30 for the CHernobyl 10k; get up early enough to leave home at 11:00 for the Kendal Winter League race near Ulverston; just stay in bed.
The choice was reduced to the last two following a saturday trip to watch Annan Athletic, which involved a meat and potato pie for pre match food, with a meat pie at half time, followed by, yes you guessed it half a meat pie post match refreshment - they know how to look after us northern lads over the Border! This lot washed down with a couple of pints of 'Bellhaven Best Bitter' (jokes welcome about 'if this is Best, what else do they do?).

The pre race diet above led to an interrupted nights sleep, necessitating two 'trots along the landing' (think about it), then Mrs D-S-D woke me up at about 4:30 as she set off to do some 23 mile run near Kendal - hence I finally woke up at 8:45- too late to do the Chernobyl, which had always been my first objective, so the Kendal winter League it was!
The beauty of this race series is that it's oh so civilised, in that you can get up, read the papers, then leave home about 11:00 for a 1 o'clock start.

'This is a fast race' was about all I'd been told ( given the rucksacks full of half truths, ommissions, mis descriptions and tall stories I'd been told before about races in this series, I guess we'd got to the stage of 'the less he's told, the less there'll be for him to moan about after').

Rhiannon then pre start had a moment of Mrs D-S-D indecision about 'how many layers should I wear?' Finally sticking to three, the details are hazy, I spend too much time giving dodgy advise about 'six layers too many, one layer too few' to Mrs D-S_D to remember advise on an individual basis......

'GO' signalled what felt like a mass sprint straight uphill, then straight down the other side, then along a bit of tarmac until we found a way back onto the fell for another long run up, before a short sharp run back down to the finish ( this could describe most fell races, apart from those that are 'straight uphill then back down') - it only took 27:30 to do, which, if not for my bad decision making about toilet stops before the race, necessitating the use of a field gate half way round, would have been about 27:00 dead.

Apparently if you do seven of this series you get a medal, another four to go then I can chuck the fell shoes away, and put the medal in my 'display plastic bag' in the bottom of the wardrobe with the footy medals....................................

The Fell Fella (new nom de plume- sounds better than 'that fat bloke with the pie that the lid blew off'')

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kendal Winter League- ''It doesn't get any worse''!

Well, after last weeks intro to these 'events', and, despite being recorded as DNF ( it must've been someone else who crossed the line with number 113 on then! Strangely, I FELT as though I'd run the course myself, only the organisers seemed to have missed me), I turned up again on Sunday, with Rhiannon and Mrs D-S-D.
Now, after the half lies and untruths I'd been told about last weeks event, Rhiannon had already told me (a) nothing else is as bad as last week, and (b) this one is a boggy course, and I was having difficulty reconciling these contradictory statements, as the starter told us it was 'wet on top' and to 'follow the flags down the wallside coming down', and 'GO'!

The run was up a steep climb, out over a 'plateau' ( an area of alternating boggy wet low areas and higher, well, boggy wet high areas) and Rhiannon, I'm sure had said the race takes about 50 minutes, up the hill round the plateau and back down, so I thought I was doing fairly well to get to the wall with the flags marking the route down in less than 20 minutes. ( The more alert reader will realise that there had been yet another misunderstanding). We had to run nearly back to the bottom of the hill then go up it AGAIN and retrace our steps through the bogs back to the finish, the highlight for me was not falling full length in one of the bogs, but seeing the guy I was running with do exactly that! I had 3 options: (1) Help him out, (2) run past him or (3) step on his back to get over the bog without getting wet! I chose option (2), life's all about making choices..............

So, soaked and mudcaked, we finished and went for some soup and chips at a nearby cafe with Rhiannon and Stu (who'd shown he had more sense than the rest of us put together by going off on his mountain bike instead!)

I'm going to keep at these races, if only because at some time the weather's going to warm up, the sun shine, the ground dry out, I'll run a route as I imagine it to be, and all will be well with the world.......................but then will it still be fell running?

PS Upcoming: Part 2 of Tatras Tantrums and Bavarian Bravado - a saga of the cross country skiers!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


I don't USUALLY watch celebrity based dancing/talent shows, but have just seen Le Saux dancing on ice! He went for a burton in practice and danced like a block of wood ( still did better than I could!), out of his depth and in a strange place - that's just how I felt this morning when I turned up with Rhiannon at the second Kendal winter league fell race.

I can heartily recommend this series of races as you don't have to set out particularly early to do them, nor are they particularly long, in fact, on todays experience they'd be quite any other time of the year. At this time of the year, on the hills above the M6 with nothing between us and the Irish sea, the entry fee of a mere £2:50 buys you a masochists delight!

We were soaked just running from the car to register, the howling wind and driving horizontal rain had even driven the sheep out of the fields, so nothing particularly attractive in the way of livestock to look at either, which brings me to a most unusual occurrence as we lined up for the off, when many of the runners started howling and yapping, not unlike a pack of hounds ( perhaps it was the extreme cold)?....

I'd originally been told this was a flat run twice round a field; this morning before leaving I was told there was a 'hill' to go up (in fact there's two on each lap), and, just before the off Rhiannon let slip that there was a river to cross ( there were two on each lap) and the water was the coldest I've ever been in, apart from the endless cold of the driving wind and rain when we were running.

The starter had what had once been an umberella, but by the time we were ready it was little more than a few tatters of nylon and some spokes. I was a bit concerned that running round a field twice was serious enough for the organisers to count us before we started, but now realise that the 'field' was at least two with a large open common at the top, deep boggy bits in which a short bloke could easily be lost forever, and raging torrents which, if you lost your footing would probably discharge your body at Arnside, just next to the sewage outfall pipe, appropriate really as I felt like a piece of **** as I plugged my waterlogged and weather lashed way round the course, overtaking a youth in a buff which he wore in 'Rumanian woman style' to keep the weather off, and a bloke in full wet weather gear, waterproof walking jacket and leggings, who got away from me on 3/4 of the course, but on the return leg home into the wind he got blown back as the full force of the wind got hold of his loose gear - Ha Ha I thought , how people laughed at my tights but they now proved their worth as I slipped through the squalls!

Anyway, eventually, it was over. No warming cups of tea and cake, just back to the car, heater full on and home to a hot bath and a cup of tea in it (that's luxury, me in the bath, the tea in me).

We both said 'why do we do it'? Rhiannon eventually came up with 'it makes me feel more alive' and, strangely, I think I know a little of what she means - anyone want to come with us to the next one at 'Whitestones' - I think I'm addicted to pain!