Report from Rob Fearnley: I’ll be honest, I only entered this cos an old school pal of mine was entering and said it’d be a laugh. He got a poorly foot though (or so he says) but I turned up anyway expecting to see some friendly faces. In reality I saw plenty of friendly faces……. it’s just that none of them were wearing black and white and it soon became apparent that it was just me representing Otley.
For those of you who’ve taken on the hell-on-earth that is Rombalds Romp you’ll know exactly how horrible the start is. A kilometre plus of unrelenting climb towards the hilariously named Weary Hill, with no respite, before a split of trail and fell runners as the fell lunatics go headlong on to the moor top and the trail runners take the ‘easier’ flank path below High Crag.
To say it was soft underfoot is an understatement and apart from the tarmac climb back up from Bradup and the track down to Grainings Head it was like that all the way round. Once the first climb was out of the way I headed across Shepherds Hill, coughing up one lung and desperately trying to keep the other one down as I got my breath back. The route then heads into the woods at Sike Head, part of which appear to have been cleared by a group of marauding, cider-fuelled, teenage Gruffalos. On into the Harry Potter-esque woods it goes and then down, down, down through a narrow heather track to Bradup.
A that point a kindly marshal points to the left and says ‘a little uphill for you now’. Little??? The road up past Brown Seaves and Whetstone Allotment is Roman straight and unspeakably steep and even harder when mother nature is blowing a hoolie directly into your face! Once up the top though it gives way to a glorious wide track and some less energy-sapping downhill.
As I reached the bottom I was all alone save for a kestrel who’d stopped to hover overhead and take the piss but just as I thought my ordeal was over a very apologetic marshal pointed me left, away from the finish and back into the horrible, thick, brown stuff I’d already negotiated 8km previously. “Nearly there and there’s beer at the finish” said one kindly walker as I plodded onwards. If I’d had the energy, I’d have knocked his cap off!
Finally, the path headed back towards the finish and not a metre too soon as by this point my legs were threatening to detach themselves and file for divorce from the rest of my body. Rombalds Romp is basically an 11km episode of Crackerjack except you get beer at the end instead of a pencil and at no point did I feel like I could ‘crush a grape’. My time? Couldn’t care less. Will I be back next year. Yes, cos I’m an idiot.