Hello Green Army
Not only do we have 1 race report this week about a certain race, not only do we have 2, but we have 3, all on the same race. Bravo!!
Lets get straight into it.
Step up Lad number 1 – Ian Rutherford
So, the best laid plans to be proper organised for this event, including a pre-visit to the North East for a full reckie of the course had long since been forgotten. The kit-check and prep starting on the Friday evening a mere few hours before setting off. At 3.50am, Saturday, Davyd pulled up and in the still dark very early morning we began to load up the car and off we set. Soon light and yet another beautiful hot and sunny day was in prospect. Travelling any distance in England so early is always fraught with difficulty; over-night road works still in place right across the motorway network so lots of detours and diversions needed but we had plenty of time to play with so it was all good. Just outside Wooler, we found an accommodating service stop for coffee. The scenery now proper stunning in the foot of the Northumbrian National Park; it was also a lot greener than the desert plains of Costa-del-Cheshire I noticed.
Having found the location easy enough we got parked and walked up to register. The folks at Wooler RC couldn’t have been more welcoming and friendly and a great atmosphere was the theme for the entire day. Back to the car and Davyd now in full boy-scout role, complete with camping stove and voila – tea and toast was served. That wouldn’t be the last time today I was appreciate of his efforts.
Getting changed and final tinkering with kit, including a change of shorts – the orange ones sadly just attracting to many unwanted pests (make your own jokes) we made a slow walk back up the hill to the club-house. Still a bit of time to kill including meeting up with Geoff who was running with his friend, both having done this on numerous occasions. From the club it was about a five min walk to the start with a brief stop as Davyd and I were both selected for a random kit check. Having to carry full waterproofs, hat, gloves on what was already a scorching hot day seemed a bit excessive but I understand rules are rules.
So off we went around 200+ of us. Lots of DNS apparently; just too dam hot for a lot.
The road soon left behind, you enter the beautiful national park; most definitely one of the most picturesque parts of the country this is, I shall be visiting the area again.
The first few miles were gentle, obviously feeling fresh, the terrain nothing particularly technical and checkpoint number 1 successfully negotiated. Once up and over Cheviot knee, the climb to the proper summit begins. I could sense Davyd just starting to fall away from me. The sun now high and strong in the sky; my body temperature starting to properly climb. I kept checking back, occasionally mustering for him. The Cheviot climb was long and hard with plenty of skilled climbers demonstrating their superior and more efficient skills as they went past. Occasional turns and exchanging thumbs up with Davyd below me, I managed to successfully overcome the craggy rocky summit. The views were off the charts, totally clear sky, it was stunning. Davyd safely up, posed for the obligatory photo and on we went to the actual checkpoint at the Trig point. And that readers, is where the run flipped on its head. The terrain and decent off the Cheviot is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I remember Geoff some weeks ago and again this morning explaining it’s like jumping off a cliff, privately you’re thinking at the time, ‘oh it can’t be that bad’… but oh my, he nailed the description perfectly. Mincing very gingerly, almost at 90 degrees angle from in front of me I try to get down; not going to lie, I was thinking I was about to die. Davyd in front then proceeds to sit down and literally start to what I can only describe as ass-surfing down the mountain. I’m proper hating this now and genuinely working ever so hard just to stop myself from tumbling down the hill, not breaking a leg or worse. The decent goes on forever, Davyd is now just a distant blob and getting ever further away, there are people literally flying past me and I’m aware I’m getting in the way. There is absolutely no path, it’s just heather and brush, unable to see were each foot is planting. I’ve still no idea how I got to the bottom in one piece; but the fun was only just beginning. Across a stream the ascent of Hedgehope was now underway. It started with actual scrambling,
hauling my weary figure up onto a mound. I was having a proper meltdown. I was broken and we’d only covered around 9 miles. So, how’s Davyd I hear you ask, didn’t he have a wobble even before the Cheviot summit? This guy was amazing. Suddenly I found myself in the company of Kilian but in a Helsby vest 😉 Seriously, the transformation was dramatic. He was absolutely buzzing, full of energy and encouragement; he was dealing with my sense of humour failures well. Honestly, I’m still unclear what happened to me, did I attempt to go off to quick, had I been taking enough liquid, had I eaten enough. Just don’t know. My confidence shot, the terrain way to technical for my tarmac plodding skills I knew I was well out of my depth. Climbing the foot of Hedgehope was relatively okay, feeling a little better, I tried to pull myself together, then the terrain changed once again; away from flat open grass land, to craggy rock and heather. I was struggling again. Davyd, the top fella he is, was an endless source of encouragement and support; I kept apologising, I felt I was spoiling his day; I’ll tell everyone now; he would have knocked at least 30 mins, maybe more off his time had he wanted too. The ascent of Hedgehope was way more tough than Cheviot. Terrain so much more challenging (for me at least), I was proper cooked. And we were finally half-way, oh joy!
Roll up rollup, all the fun of the fair continued as Langlee Craggs was the next ride in town, the teddies were being proper thrown about now. We didn’t take an optimum route off the cragg face and found ourselves knee deep in brushland and heather. Getting through that, almost unable to lift my feet high enough. The danger of following people and assuming they know the route right there. Where it was runnable, I was just about capable of a slow-stagger; kept trying though, just needed to get this done. Davyd, had a bit of cramp but otherwise looked strong. The miles were getting done and the terrain became much more Ian friendly; mile 14 an impressive 11.5 mins.
The run in was yet another challenge. The rocky and eroded trail of Carey Burn. The heat in the valley was oppressive. Dusty and challenging terrain on very tired feet was a right struggle, but knowing the end was, if not in sight but relatively imminent was keeping me going. Once out of the ravine, back on to the national park track, it was the proper final acts. A shout of “Away Pet” as a local lady ran past us as if out for a park run and then establishing that England were just one up from the driver of the Northumbria Water tanker half a mile from the end.
And so, it was done. An unimpressive time, completely down to me I’m afraid. A cold hose down and then some genuine hospitality from the volunteers in the centre, lots and lots of food and drink and the England match on the big projector occupying the attention of the others.
I will never forget this day. So many special things happened and it was a proper insight in to fell running for me. Walking back to the car, past the local hostilely, the shouts for the England match loud and happy. Finally got to take my shoes off and began the journey home. Swapping drivers just before we hit the M1, all I will say is thank the lord Davyd’s car is an automatic 😉
Great report Ian, Lad number 2 looked after you well.
Over to Lad number 2 – Davyd Michell
One Friday night its cold a wet outside, your having a few beers and your mate messages you, I’ve found a race…its 20 miles and its in Northumberland and its called the Chevy Chase, what you think?
Immediately the name caught my imagination, what a great name for fell race over the cheviots, I’m in. A few weeks later the reality dawned that i’ve never ran over 14 miles and that was on the road, still I have 4 months on training to get ready.
Fast forward that 4 months and I’d done quite a bit of training but not as much as i’d hoped, we’d planned to do some longer runs over similar terrain and even a recce, none of that actually happened, still, we’d be ok!?!
The race was on Saturday and the Thursday 2 days before I meet up with Ian for a social run and to formulate a plan of action. The plan was simple – get up a stupid o’clock and drive 230 miles north and run, then drive home.
Friday was all about getting the kit and gear together, I had most bits from my walking days but this still gave me the opportunity to obviously buy some new gear, as everyone loves new gear. So Friday morning I had the chance to try out my new running vest, perhaps a bit last minute! 🙂 much to the amusement of the Friday Fun Club
3am Saturday morning the alarm went off and I got up to go and pick up Ian, we had a 230 mile journey and registration opened at 8:30am for a kit check with the race starting at 10:30. Despite the best effort of Highways England to close off the M60 and A1 for a large section it was no match for us, we were on a mission.
We duly arrived bang on 8am, got our gear together and went and registered. This now gave is 2.5 hours of time to kill. As all good scouts know be prepared, and we were. I’d stuck the camping stove, chairs and kettle in the car so it was time to brew up and get the breakfast on. We also bumped into fellow green army runner Geoff who was also running.
10 am we headed off to the start ready to go, we were loaded up with 2 litres of water each, emergency food, waterproofs, map compass etc as this was run under fell running rules. The other issue was the weather, it was now getting pretty hot at around 25 degrees. After a random spot kit check we were ready to go.
10:30 and we were off. The first mile or so is on road before you head off onto a path and make your way to Cheviot Knee, before tackling the main accent of the 2800ft of Cheviot itself. We started off nice and steady trying not to get carried away, we were covering the ground well and reached the knee in good shape in around 70 minutes. From there the land started to rise rapidly and the main assent had well and truly started, it was at this point I started to feel it a bit, it was getting hot and I was feeling it in my legs. Ian was looking good and was making it look easy. I dug in, but it wasn’t pretty but with Ians encouragement we arrived at the summit.
The view was spectacular and we took a minute to look around whilst getting our trackers check in. The next bit we knew was going to be tough, it evolved a descent off the side of the summit without a path. We headed out following a few other runners and then the route appeared before us…wow..it really was downhill. The steepness was surprising to two tarmac slappers, we picked, fell and slid our way to the bottom and the stream that split the route up the next accent. My legs were shaking, thighs screaming and I was so hot. I’d made it down a minute or so ahead of Ian and just stood in the stream cooling off my feet and throwing water over my head in an attempt cool down.
We gathered our thoughts and then set about climbing straight up the next peak that was Hedgehope, again there was no path and we had to yomp our way up towards the ridge. I started to feel a bit better and my legs were starting to come back to life a bit after the struggle of the pervious peak. The two summits are probably only a few miles apart but that section had taken us an hour by the time we reach the next check point at the summit of Hedgehope. It had also taken its tole on us a bit as the going had been tough. The good news was that was the major climbing over, but we had only covered about half distance.
We descended Hedgehope and thankfully this was not as steep the Cheviot and set on our way to the next checkpoint. The terrain was tricky and quite technical and some parts were just awful with thick gorse, it was my turn now to offer the encouragement. We made it out of that section and we were on a path, thank god! The only issue was that the path was quite eroded and followed a stream with a 3m fall into it if you got it wrong. This coupled with the fact we were 14 miles in and there seemed to be no breeze that had blessed us on the higher ground made tough going. I was now in uncharted territory in terms of distance, but my legs were holding up well and I was having a much better second half of the run than the first. We reached the final checkpoint at 17 miles and knew we only had 3 to go, but hells path stood in our way, a short half mile assent that normally you’d just push on over, but today was a different story. It was a tough climb and we were both now feeling it at the top, still all downhill to the finish, but even that hurt.
We joined the original road that we’d started on and had a mile or so to go. As we turned off the road to the final path we could hear the welcoming sound of the YHA were it all was going to end soon. We rounded the corner and crossed the line together, we’d done it. 5 hours 20 minutes of running, yomping and in places walking. I think its fair to say we were both knackered, the heat and terrain had done its best but we came through.
The race was impeccably orgainised, they had managed to get water out to even the most remote of checkpoints (a first for the race I understand) given the heat. We now set about replacing as many calories as we could before we had to set off home.
As I write this, reflecting on the run I’m still on a bit of a high. The opportunity to run with my mate in some stunning scenery, meet some great people on the way round and support a great small running club who put on an amazing event has made it the event of the year for me so far, which is going to be hard to beat. My legs are in bits, stairs are an issue but I can see that this won’t be a one off. Roll on next year…..
Reckon we could maybe muster a few more bodies for next year, this sounds like a great race
Step up Geoff Collins for report number 3
Chevy Chase Fell Race Wooler Northumberland – Sat 7 July.
What a difference a year makes. After my attempt last year missing a checkpoint I’m back again for another go at the 62nd Chevy Chase fell race. The conditions were very different, dry sunny and baking hot with no rain for weeks and no bog. Last year it was very wet and spongy underfoot.
Its 20 miles through some of the finest scenery in Northumberland giving runners the opportunity to ‘channel their energies into a rewarding and demanding personal challenge’ say the organisers. The route takes you deep into the heart of the land of the ‘far horizon’. Indeed the views were truly spectacular you could even see the distant coast towards Beadnall. A fantastic day apart from the heat and the flies to be in the fells.
This year Helsby RC had a higher profile with two of our best, Ian Rutherford and Davyd Mitchell also taking part. Together with my Newcastle friend Jill who knows the area well, we ran together as a team of two, with much discussion over pacing to ensure we didn’t get timed out on the check points. There is an overall time limit of 6hrs to complete the event. Times are tight particularly at Hedgehope, after that it gets easier.
We met Davyd and Ian in the carpark brewing up and cooking toast on a camping stove. Madly they left at 3am and drove up on the day! I felt so grateful for my comfy bed and leisurely breakfast at Jill’s house in Newcastle.
You go up Cheviot 2,676 feet dropping down into a deep valley before heading up Hedgehope 2,348 feet. Total climb is over 4,000 feet. Its organised by the friendly Wooler Running Club who take over the youth hostel as the race HQ.
It’s an unmarked route with 7 check points. Being able to navigate is key particularly in poor visibility, and of course to make sure you find the all the checkpoints!
This was my first race since the end of last year. Following my knee injury and diagnosis of a stress fractured patella and other age related wear and tear issues. My training on Helsby Hill & Sandstone.
Well done guys, really tough going in this heat
Carol Shaw sent in this report
And last but not least Roy didn’t send in a race report, but asked me kindly to include this in the blog …so here goes
We love Manchestor 10k
Roy ran a respectable 46.51, but could have done better but got sun stroke, it was boiling hot!
Well done mate
Park run seen runners out in Pheonix, Chester, Delamere, Widnes & Whitehaven. Full consolidated results below
If someone could kindly send in race reports for Dearnford Lake Relays, and maybe the midweek fell race, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
See you all soon