Thursday, February 26, 2009


Well, here we are again, with another Sunday morning tale to tell. I travelled to this one with Mrs Gill D-S-D and Sally, and what a sad carload of negativity I had to contend with. Just when you want the positive energy flow to enhance your mind state what did I get?

You guessed, the serial underachievers started off with 'I'm not in the right state of mind for a run, so I'll just go and walk up something to watch them do it', followed by ' I've brought my gear, but I don't think I'll be using it', and 'my head hurts just below the lug area where it's swollen', and 'I've been kneading dough all week and I've nothing left for running, and I don't feel 100% anyway, I think I'll just walk with you'

Buoyed by this wave of enthusiasm for the run ahead, I fell out of the car at Cautley Spout and saw the first of the Junior races running up a reasonable slope to the east of the Spout and thinking 'Ah well. not too steep, gentle rise to the top, gentle run back down...not that bad.'

Paid the very reasonable £2.50 entry fee, and met Rhiannon and Stu, at which point Stu gave me the most realistic pre-race description yet - first off, the seniors went west of the Spout, crossed a river twice, then straight uphill ( horrrendous), across the crest then straight down (horrendous again), back across the river and home. ( Rhiannon would probably have said ' It's just a run out, up a bit, down a bit and then back home'). Then Stu set off on his bike to Sedburgh for a cake and coffee, and a gentle peddle back................

Meanwhile, off we went, after a false start, up another even longer than last week uphill trudge, at one point I suffered a snowball onslaught from Rhiannon (she's meant to be a team mate!), and had to struggle not to laugh at a guy from Keighley who on a really steep bit, was crawling, like a baby, on arms and knees (sorrry mate if you happen to read this!).

At last the summit turn for home - within 50 metres I'd gone over on my ankle and started to be over cautious on the descent!

Next thing I knew Rhiannon had gone past me ( I have a deep seated dread of being beaten by certain Eden Runners over distances of less than 10 miles (You all know who you are!), so I was very very anxious at this point, given my general pride about the speed with which I can usually go down.

Eventually the slope eased, and, across some easier, wetter ground, I was almost upon Rhiannon when she suddenly stopped......... to tie her shoelace! Oh Joy! Do I shove her over as I go past? Remove her shoe and scop it across the fell? NO! I just shoot past, thinking 'thats the get out of jail card played again!'

Finished, and, for the first time in a race I had nothing, absolutely NOTHING in the locker for a fast finish should it be needed. It was the hardest race I've been in, the tank was on empty.....but, at the end, the bloke who finished behind me shook hands, Rhiannon shook hands and Duncan, a fella we've got to know over this series of races also shook hands, a mate of Duncans shook hands and, somehow, although I was disappointed with my performance ( I guess I always will be!), those hand shakes made it all worth while.

We went to a pub in Ravenstonedale after, and, althought there were no chips, we had some marvellous crisps and bits of cake, and a good crack! Oh and one of the fell runners had offered to make us a cup of coffee after the race, after I'd asked him if he could knock us up a veggie burger on the stove in his camper van!

The Fell Fella

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Hows that for an attention grabbing headline - the blog's really about the Kendal Winter League Race at Barbondale just at the southern end of the Howgills, but.......................................................
on the way there we had to stop for a toilet break at the beginning of Barbondale, a lovely unspoilt valley.
We rushed into a wood by the roadside to use the facilities, myself having finished quicker than the girls (for obvious reasons), I couldn't help but notice the different 'styles' - Rhiannon had adopted a 'bear in the wood' approach, she went so far into the woods she was invisible; Sally went behind the nearest tree ( here's a tip for next time: Just because your heads behind the tree don't necessarily mean your backside is too!) whilst Mrs D-S-D adopted her usual approach of 'Sod it, I'll just drop my keks and crouch wherever I happen to be standing'! ( Note: this is acceptable in the great outdoors, but not when shopping in the Trafford Centre)...

On to the race - Rhiannon has at last realised that her generally inaccurate course summaries prior to the start were having a bad effect on my morale, and restricted herself to 'Up, along a bit & back the way you came'. The hill we had to run up was covered in cloud so we could only see the first 100 metres up, but at the start it looked like we were facing a vertical wall of grass.

GO! and we were immediately on the wall! No run in to this climb, half a stride from the start and we were on a seriously steep hill, which got steeper, and steeper, and steeper, even the fell running greats (Wendy Dodds and myself) were reduced to going up this one on hands and feet!

I took a fall as Rhiannon drew level and tried to put me off my stride by mumbling to me in words I couldn't really understand (oxygen deprivation), but I'm sure I heard her laughing!

Lungbursting and relentless, we climbed up into mist and low cloud, until an eventual respite and short run out on the level to a cairn and back again to the descent.

Any steeper and I would have wanted a rope and ladders to get back down, but, here's the joy of this race: just as my legs were screaming for mercy, I slipped at the top of the steepest part of the descent, and, with junior spectators shouting 'SLIDE! SLIDE!', I lifted my feet off the ground and slid down 200 metres on my backside - Brilliant! (the only downside to this was the decision of what to do with the marker flag racing up towards my spreadeagled legs - answer: reach out and grab it before it hit me in the particulars!).

After we'd finished the cloud lifted to reveal a 'hog of a hill', I can honestly say that if I'd seen it all before the race, I would have developed a hamstring twinge, athletes foot, achilles tightness, or an urgent need to get home for a meal which woul dhave saved me from the hill!

Another great race, and on the way back we stopped for a drink. Stu had told Rhiannon there were two pubs on the road back to the M6, one a real old fashioned front room pub with great beer and atmosphere, the other nowhere near as good.

We picked the wrong one!

The Fell Fella
PS On the drive back we realised the outdoor toilet wasn't a wood, but the 'Tradesmans entrance' to the grounds of a large country house, so apologies for that..........

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Haweswater Half Marathon...

The Haweswater race is about as full as it can get, so apologies if you didn't get in.

The long-range weather forecast suggests it could be pretty cold over the race weekend, so we'll have to assess the route conditions nearer the time.

Monday, February 2, 2009


This Sunday saw me, Mrs D-S-D and Rhiannon trailing just south of Tebay to do a fell race in the Howgills, and YET AGAIN I had been misled!

This race had been previously described to me by Rhiannon as 'the loveliest route out of all of them' and ' a lovely run, along one side of the valley, then back down the other side'.

I don't know what sort of a world she lives in, but it must be one where horizontal and vertical mean altogether different things, because as the race actually went straight up a hill, then up a bit further to the top, then back down the hill again - the most 'fell racy' race of the lot so far, no chance for the 'road runner' to use his pace over more or less level ground to gain lost time on the uphill no run along the valley stuff, indeed no sign of a valley anywhere on the route, unless she meant the gorge near the end where you fall down into a beck then have to drag yourself up the other side!

Anyway, things got off to a bad start with Mrs D-S-D becoming stressed at the venue due to parking difficulties involving a hesitant (lady) driver not knowing what to do about leaving/staying, making Mrs D-S_D take a 3 mile detour along single track roads, returning with a whole new vocabulary of swear words.

The race was simply UP then DOWN, in biting cold winds, with a hidden obstacle drainage ditch which caught me out 100 metres before the finish, leading to a comedy fall/slide along the wet rushes, which meant at that point I was probably moving faster than at any other time in the race!

The still stressed Mrs D-S-D had also taken a tumble on the fells, and the trouble continued as we walked back to the car.

A lady was riding her bicycle along the road, and as she came up behind us she started shouting 'Bike Bike! Look out for me and my Bike'. Mrs D-S-D rose to the bait shouting 'Pedestrians, Pedestrians ! The roads for ******* pedestrians too!

As the lady pedalled off to Tebay we hatched a plan to catch up with her, lean out the car window and push her off the bike, give her a good sort out, with one smack for nearly knocking us over ( Yes, I'm still sensitive about being knocked over in Penrith too) and another one 'just for anything else we can think of'!

We didn't !

The Fell Fella