Jez Bragg knows my name!
|Leaving Kingsdale checkpoint|
|A quick stop at Dent|
I had decided my stomach problems were caused by a the rucksack waist strap so was running with it undone and vowed to get myself one of those little packs with the pockets on the front (more on this later...) I was eating again and running well, then came Middle Tongue: The checkpoint wasn't there! I was sure I was in the right place as there's a little wooden post, but after spending about 15 minutes running around the area shouting there was no sign of anyone. Chris and Alex arrived with another guy and we spent five or ten more minutes searching to no avail, before deciding we'd have to carry on and see what happened. I was pretty annoyed to have lost my hard-earned gap on the guys, and not knowing about the checkpoint made it hard to stay focussed on the race - maybe I'd be disqualified anyway!
|Running round in circles...|
Right, two climbs to go: Buckden Pike and Great Whernside. I felt good out of Cray and set off across the fields to the base of Buckden. This felt like a long run in and I was relieved to be on the climb. I seem to always run reasonably well in this last 15 - 20 mile section of the race and actually enjoy the last two climbs, though both are pretty big (about 300m of ascent each). At the top of Buckden I was told "You're fourth, but I'm afraid the gap is massive", but it was a beautiful evening and I tried to work hard and consolidate my position. After the descent of Buckden I don't think I took a brilliant line to Park Rash, but I got there. Mum and Dad were there again (having been for a walk up Whernside in the meantime) which was nice.
|Arriving in Park Rash|
|A little dot on it's way up Great Whernside|
Off the top and two checkpoints left, the run down to Capplestone Gate felt a long way through the rough and wet ground, but looking round I couldn't see anyone so hoped I had done enough to keep fourth place. I knew my time wasn't looking good though, it was going to take me over 12 hours to finish the race, at least half an hour longer than last year! It's always a pleasure to get to the section from Capplestone to Yarnbury which is marked with flags, safe(ish) in the knowledge that there's almost no navigation left. Finally I reached Yarnbury, with only about 3km of road left down into Grassington then around the corner to Threshfield.
The road run was as uncomfortable as it always is, but I put the map away to avoid ticking off every little feature and just tried to get on with it. Grassington eventually arrived, I was nearly tripped over by a person with a dog on a long lead across the road but made it out and down to the bridge. The tiny little climb was hard work but Mum was watching so I kept it going and finally ran into the school to finish.
I think my time was about 12:15, which is a bit slow but nevermind. I did hold on to 4th and had a reasonable gap to Chris Perry who came in next. The gaps in front of me were indeed massive, Adam and Kim ran in together in 10:53 I think, with Jez 35 or so minutes later. Well done guys.
As always, the race was totally brilliant. The Fellsman is a truly classic race and despite the pain I did occasionally take a moment to look around and see the amazing scenery of the Dales. Thanks very much to all the organisers, checkpoint staff and other competitors who make it what it is, and of course to Mum and Dad for coming out on the day to support me! Cheers also to Adam and Matt for showing me the line across Fleet Moss.
|Adam and Kim (www.grough.co.uk)|
Thanks also to The North Face, who sponsor the race, for the great prizes we received for winning the team prize this year. Including one of those posh little rucksacks with the pockets on the front - hopefully I can cross the Great Coum section without incident next year!
So, 6 years after I first "raced" the Fellsman, I sat in the pub on Saturday evening. I have done this for the last couple of years, but this year I felt I had been part of the race at the front (for a while at least) and it made me think of that very long night out in 2008 when I could never have believed it... Hence the title of this post (I hope Jez doesn't mind!).
Next year I want to be in that race all the way round.