Early on Wednesday evening, OAC’s three intrepid fell runners, myself, Matt Broughton and Colin Best set off for this end of season spectacular up the Cleveland Matterhorn.
We’d planned to get there early so we have time to warm up properly, pay our money and possibly recce ‘the chute’, the steep muddy alternative route down.
Plenty of the usual faces from the NEHRA series of races run by Dave Parry of Esk Valley Fell Club were milling about, including the usual impressively good juniors.
The race sets off in usual Dave style “You run up to the top, touch the trig and back down without going into those farmers fields, right GO”.
There’s a mad dash to get up the lane to the kissing gate before a queue builds up, I went off a bit too quickly and found myself right at the front, so eased off. You then start the trudge up through the woods to the footpath which winds round to the bottom of the summit cone. Hardly any of this is runnable, with a snake of wheezing bodies, hands on knees, staring at the ground, hoping the trig point comes quickly.
I noticed some runners who were behind me had gained time coming UP the chute, so I made the decision then I was going to risk it on the way down.
I was maybe top ten by the time I touched the trig, so I hurtled down ‘Richard Smith Scree’, passing Matt who gave me an encouraging “Go on Graham” (or something), as did Colin. I was just glad to give my lungs a rest, they were burning.
I noticed a maroon vest dart off to the right, so I followed him, now heading for ‘the chute’. When I got to the top, I honestly thought I’d made a bad mistake, it’s stupidly steep, but I set off down tentatively. I was soon deluged in gravel from a descending Redcar A.C. runner who I thought had completely lost it and was falling towards me. Turns out this is how the locals roll (or slide).
As another ‘slider’ past me I decided to change tactics, get on my backside and go for it; what fun!! I tobogganed down to the barbed wire fence, leapt that and headed down the steep tracks through the woods and back to the track home, almost, but not quite catching the chap who’d slid past me.
I was buzzing, so jogged back up to cheer in Matt and Colin who looked similarly in shock. A well-earned meal at a local pub allowed us to set the world to rights – and plan next year’s assault!