David Burke (68) 116:31, Richard Woods (78) 119:33. (148 runners)
12.4 miles, 850m (2789’) ascent.
21 April 2013.
Whilst the flatlanders were down in London for their marathon, that same morning the hill runners converged on Guisborough for the ‘Gisborough Moors’ (correct ye olde English spelling) fell race, one of the Esk Valley Fell Clubs’ more prominent races and with ascents of Capt Cook’s Monument, Roseberry Topping and Highcliff Nab this was a real tester.
This is the penultimate race in the NEHRA/Northern Runner Winter series and with Richard Woods lying in 3rd spot in the M45 category there was much at stake. As we warmed up at the start Richard was giving the ‘dead eye’ to his nearest rivals. If it was a staring contest my money would have been on him but sadly there was going to be a tad more to it.
On the ‘B’ of ‘Bang’ we were off and it was up, up and more up as we headed up muddy trails through Guisborough Woods and eventually out onto ankle-grabbing gorse covered moorland. I’d been warned by a wizened old sage-like fell runner at the start that this race was all about pacing and too much early speed and the wheels would likely come off leaving you in a whole world of pain and worse ( I didn’t push him on the ‘worse’ bit but judging by his pained expression it wasn’t good ). Richard and myself were together at 3 miles and running well. In the distance the distinctive Capt Cook’s Monument loomed over us and as we began the ascent I began to pull away from my clubmate though I still felt chipper and with the words of the sage fell runner echoing in my head, trying not to push too hard at such an early stage.
Fell Runners spend much time in either dense undergrowth or bog trotting and are consequently susceptible to little known ailments such as Andromeda Strain, The Creeping Clench, Trenchfoot and the eye-wateringly painful Cobblers Nob but it’s falling over that’s the common problem and just after 5 miles I took a hard fall when I snagged a tree root. Helped to my feet by fellow runners I did what any other runner would have done and immediately checked my Garmin was ok. .With cuts and grazes on my face, knee and shoulder I looked pretty dog eared by the time I arrived at the Monument. I was a bit behind my target time so it was time to put the hammer down.
The plan was to pick up the pace from here to the finish and with some undulating tracks to Roseberry Topping I passed several runners before spying the distinctive ‘Yorkshire Matterhorn’ of Roseberry Topping. At the top I turned around and I could see Richard around a quarter of the way up and I knew he would be relishing the steep descent (Disengage brain, brakes off) to the next peak of Little Roseberry.
The course was pretty dry so the route through Newton Moor and ominous Bog Of Uncertainty were a breeze. At this point I was feeling great as I continued to pick off runners at Black Nab and after one more pull up to Highcliffe Nab it was all downhill to the finish and a surprise free giveaway for a fell race, a bottle of water. Kerching!
My time was 1 hr 56 mins and Richard trotted in just behind in 1 hr 59 mins. My plan of a cautious run to Capt Cooks’ and then wind up the pace seemed to have worked as I caught 13 runners in the second part of the race. These times moved Richard back a spot to 4th in his Age Category whilst I moved to 8th with one race left.
These series of races have been fantastic. Hats off to one-man supremo Dave Parry for the timekeeping and results, all the volunteers, the photographers who catch you with eyes rolling, tongue lolling at your weakest moment.
The runners are a friendly bunch and all ages, shapes and sizes and the Age Category Points System really gives you an incentive to run your best against runners of your own age. The Summer Series will be starting soon and fixtures are already up on the Esk Valley Fell Club site.
Report by David Burke