Report from OAC’s Dale Foster:
Roseberry Topping Fell Race, North Yorkshire (1.5 miles / 715′).
(HAND GLIDERS & PLASTIC BAGS)
In the modern day culture of Health & Safety overkill, it’s refreshing to know that you can still rely on the medieval art of fell running to find that occasional and much needed break in the safety clouds.
At a recent meeting at work the issue of people being “encouraged” to hold the hand rail whilst ascending and descending the stairs was raised. Sensible stuff really? So, no making a conscience decision yourself then, based on your attitude to risk and perception of the danger involved in traversing between the floors of a multi storey building…..”Hand Railing” to me is a navigation technique where one deliberately “aims off” a compass bearing to hit a strategic point with a known feature to subsequently follow…..but what do I know?
So, by contrast, when the organiser at the Roseberry Topping Fell Race stood in the pouring rain and announced that, “You can go anyway you like as long as you touch the trig point, just be careful”, the world for me began to improve once more. He did add a couple of “rules” and “tips” though.
RULE: “You can use a Hand Glider if you like, as long as you carry it up with you…”
(We can draw 3-peaks cyclo-cross comparisons here, where innovative souls had been known to carry only frames up and attach wheels at the summits!)
TIP: “You can carry a plastic bag up with you, it’s much faster to sit on it to come down, but some of you are too stupid to have thought of that yet”.
As I had been rather tied up at work recently I’d managed to forget my running kit. Luckily I did have fell shoes in the car boot with something resembling a stud still present and a pair of spare black shorts. No top though unfortunately, so it was the formal work shirt then, (less the tie obviously, though I did think of putting it around my head, John Rambo style for extra comedic effect and maybe a fancy dress prize).
The short, sharp and lungbursting shock commenced promptly at 7:15pm, in the pouring rain, with the 1,049′ summit of Roseberry Topping wrapped securely in the damp rain cloud, making visibility virtually zero! Could I manage to get lost in a 1.5 mile tear up, on the favourite hill of mountaineering legend Alan Hinkes. Alan affectionately refers to Roseberry as “The Matterhorn” of England. It felt like it.
The typical short race tear up mentality ensued, caused me to be blowing hard after the first bridleway before we even hit the steep climb itself. I managed to then take the lead uphill eventually!! (Can only think it’s the uphill Switzerland work I’d been on with in the previous week, does help if you train on hills for fell running I guess….)
I expect that the fast and light, well toned front runners were a bit shocked when Mr formal old man in work shirt ran up the hill at the front. I was soon back in my place after the first half of the climb though and put back to fourth with a junior girl passing me at the summit (I am using her carrying only half my body weight here as the excuse).
It probably took around 9 minutes to touch the summit trig and then into my own, neck breaking descending on wet, steep terrain. The adrenalin was with me in seconds and I passed said girl very rapidly, being sure not to take her down with me and observing fell racing etiquette. Another fast looking runner was then despatched quickly before the chase down of the leader. Problem was, he had a good lead on a very short race. I had my Ace up my sleeve, (work shirt sleeve, George Davies Asda collection –nothing Italian or designer). My “Ace” was the dreaded forthcoming “chute”. I had observed “the chute”, (a near virtual mud, grass and rock slide), by jogging up to it prior to the start. I’d also listened to old blokes, (says me at mv40), bang on about for 10 minutes while I queued for my number. To “chute, or not to chute” seemed to be the general debate…. It seems that chute choice was made based on a competitors, i) Stud trust, ii) attitude to risk, iii) general mental health, iv) view of the weather and level of bullying from usually male team mates (If your mate told you to jump of a cliff, would you? That sort of thing).
The “chute” was definitely my answer. The problem is I somehow missed it, and took an easier yet longer “line”. ARRGGHHHH! So another second in my long career of second placings. I’ve had enough of 2nd, but winning three, (YES THREE) , bottles of Vin Rouge did make up for it, along with first Old git, (MV40) So many numbers.
A “proper” , good old fashined fell race that I’ll definitely drive up for again….with the wine, efficient driving on fuel and reasonable entry fee, I think I may even have broke even for the first time ever! Didn’t even have to stop for wine on the return leg home.
Winner: Antony Moss (Totley): 13:01 (Yes Totley and Otley caused minor amusement at presentation time)
Second: Dale Foster (Otley A.C.): 14:03 (first mv40)
Results from fellrunner.