Fell Race Weekender
Members present: Colin Maddison, Andy Stratford, Jo Stratford, Jared Kitchen, Emily Thompson, Joe Flynn, Dave Wylie, Jim Symon, Philippa Maye, Lester Payne, Clay Conlon, Craig Marsden, Sue Marsden and Duncan Lee.
Guests: Dakotah Shirfield and the tail ends of hurricanes Marie and Lee.
Keen as ever Dave was up in The Lakes on Friday in order to take advantage of the best day of the weekend. Thus he enjoyed a virtually dry venture along Helvelyn’s Swirral and Striding Edges with the only rain encountered being just before getting back to the car. Colin and I also managed to get out on the hill, stopping off at the oft driven past Whitestone near Newby Bridge. A very pleasant little crag where we did “Cracked wall”(VS 4B) whilst watching heavy showers pass either side of the crag.
Saturday started wet and initially just got wetter. It was grim! Most folk walked down into Coniston to sample the delights of the cafes whilst Colin and I headed round to the “All Weather Gym” at Hodge Close where we admired the waterfalls rather than the missing bolt hangers. Suitably unimpressed we came up with a Plan B, “The Ridge” (Mod) on Raven Crag, which proved to a grand jolly and by the time we’d finished the rain had ceased and the clouds were beginning to break. The improved climatic conditions tempted Clay and Dakotah out for warm up runs whilst most went for a walk to make the most of the days only sunshine. Sunshine that tempted Colin and I back out, after a late lunch we walked up to Sunlight Crag at Levers Water where we caught the last rays of the day on “Sunlight Crack” (HS 4a.)
The highlight of a very sociable evening in the hut was Sue’s classic request “Craig, have you got the nobhobs?” A Suism that reduced her and Jo to tears of laughter.
Sunday again started wet and windy and again got even wetter and windier as the tail end of another ex hurricane arrived in Lakeland. As a result I cut the course short, dropping checkpoint 3 and moving checkpoint 2 to a more sheltered location. Lester drew the short straw with checkpoint 1 on the summit of Wetherlam , the prospect of which initially caused him to linger in the hut for so long that I had to delay the start of the race and latterly saw him sensibly sheltering behind a large cairn just below the summit. Sue and Philippa shared the duty of checkpoint 2 at the northern end of Goats Water and assured me that they had a lovely time despite the weather and getting lost on the way. This navigational error explains the question marks regarding some of the times seeing as no one actually went through the checkpoint whilst they were there. Infact they met more people approaching the checkpoint from the opposite direction as they were walking back to the car.
As is customary the “walkers” sallied forth first, leaving the hut at 10.15 for the long slog up to Wetherlam. All that is apart from Colin, who was still making his sandwiches, but he did eventually stroll out of the door ten minutes after the others. I then some how failed to explain about the start time to the runners as having planned their route Jared and Emily charged forth into the deluge. Keen or mad? The other runners stayed in the dry until the last minute.
All the competitors cleared checkpoint 1 by 11.40am allowing Lester to squelch back to the hut as the walkers and runners took a variety of routes towards Goats Water as the wind picked up causing Joe to comment that “I know why Swirl How gets its name.”It was on this stretch that Craig’s navigational skills saw him leap frogging Clay on several occasions arriving at Goats Water virtually neck and neck with Jared and Emily close on their heels. It was from here that different route choices made a big difference with Craig and Clay opting for a cunning route that worked out a lot better than sticking to the Walna Scar road but did result in Clay repeating his tactic of last year by running off and leaving his pacer near the finish. Thus he crossed the finish line with Craig trailing in a minute behind during one of the few brief breaks in the weather and looking sickeningly fresh, unlike Craig. Either way it was a fantastic effort by both of them. Another fantastic effort was that of Emily and Jared who were the next home thus claiming the prizes for the fastest lady and the Concordia trophy.
In fact it was a fantastic effort by everyone who took part, even Joe, despite his refusal to make the effort to go to Checkpoint 2 who were actually walking in his direction at the time. Mind you he had, in the company of Jim, Colin and Dakotah, inadvertantly visited “Checkpoint 3”, aka the summit of Dow Crag, on their travels. Keen, mad or just navigationally challenged? Dakotah in her defence did state that “my mistake was following Colin.” Despite that she still crossed the finish line smiling as did most people who I suspect were just glad that in was all over, a feeling that was summed up by Joe as he proclaimed “that was a KMC classic you b*****d!”
The vagaries of the handicap system, or maybe just that he was daft enough to do the fell race on his birthday, saw El Presidente taking home the Shelaigh Manning trophy.
Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and took part in the race and to the checkpoint marshals and to Jo for helping provide much needed soup and hot tea to everyone as they dried out. I’ll try and arrange nicer weather for next year’s event