Report from Stephen Boddy
Tour of Pendle 16.7m, 4500ft
I have always thought the fell relays were my favourite part of being a member of a running club, but they may have been usurped by a Saturday for the ages. Graham’s party bus picked me up at 8:45 and we were on our way, managing a whole four miles before everyone needed to get out and have a wee. Graham, Rich and Rob all seemed a bit nervous which was making me nervous. Ignorance is definitely bliss and I had entered this race without doing any research, only finding out it had more climbing than Ben Nevis the night before it started. Can’t be that bad can it, I thought.
Despite photo evidence to the contrary, I found the first seven miles quite steady and straightforward. I spent the first three of them chasing Vicky and Laura down and the next four trying to keep up with them. They were both very strong. Calm, chatty and fast in those early stages and the elastic inevitably snapped as I briefly paused to have a drink.
For those of you who don’t know the course, it was designed by an utter, utter sadist and is the most convoluted route I have ever done. The real trauma of it is that the five dizzyingly steep ascents all loom before you as you are edging down the vertiginous descents. I usually enjoy descending but when you know every step down means the same back up, it sucks the fun right out of it.
One of the highlights is the Geronimo descent, which was thoroughly enjoyable. I had the most effective bum slide of my life and the brief relief on my legs was palpable.
As ever in fell races, there was tremendous camaraderie all round the course and I had some great little ‘what on earth is this hobby of ours’ chats with a few Lancastrians on the final hill. The camaraderie was also great amongst the 10 Otley AC runners making the trip across the border. Everyone seemed to have achieved what they wanted to, the only minor regret came from Rich Smith who ignored the advice of some locals and followed his mate Pedro from the Basque region down a blind alley a mile or so from the finish, potentially costing himself a sub three finish. Just means we’ll have to go back next year, Rich.
I was in a slight daze at the finish and didn’t collect my t-shirt or beer. My mind had done some rudimentary calculations and had wrongly assumed we didn’t get race entry, a bottle of real ale and a technical t-shirt all for £9. By the time Graham, Rich and Rob informed me of my error, I couldn’t face the 0.2mile walk back to the village hall as I was pretty broken. It appeared I wasn’t the only Otley runner who was broken, going by the amount of moaning and groaning heard in Graham’s van whilst we were all trying to get our wet clothes off. That last sentence doesn’t read well but I’m not changing it.
To top off a great day, a few of us went to watch Liam in his charity boxing match that evening. He did the club proud with an expert display of control and finesse, although I’m no boxing expert and I was pretty tired by that point. Bravo Liam.
I think Chris Holdsworth won it and Katie Kaars Stepjeln (sp) was first lady.
These are some rough results for our lot.
More pictures here:
Official results posted when available.