13th September : Run for fun : The up and down relay

After the seriousness of the UTMB it was nice to have a go at a purely fun event. A driving force behind Bowland Fell runners club events is Andy Walmsley, who inspired by other similar events decided to organise an up and down relay. It is a beautifully simple idea for a relay race; one runner runs to the top of the hill (in the case the Big End on Pendle) and the other runner runs down.  The most difficult part of this was the necessity to choose a team name. I came up with “the big 3 boys” as both Will and I formed a very unlikely team in that we had both done the big 3 rounds (Bob Graham, Charlie Ramsey’s, and Paddy Buckley rounds).

On a cold showery Tuesday evening 12 teams amassed at Downham car park ready for the race. We walked a mile from the car park to the start line and I waited along with the uphill runners, for the downhill runners to get to the top. I must have clocked up 2 miles of running trying to keep warm whilst waiting the 30 minutes to start. But soon enough we were off. On the lower easier gradient I ran slightly conservative and slotted in behind front runner Clive Davis and 2nd place Declan O’Duffy. After about 400 meters Declan ushered me on as a steeper ramp appeared. I pushed on to close the 50 meter gap that Clive had pulled out. I climbed well and when the course flattened out again at about half way I caught Clive up. Trying to steady myself, and not being sure of the route, I held onto the back of Clive as the course steepened. I started power walking so as not to overtake, and Clive eventually did the same. We then came to the left traverse that I thought was the line. As Clive turned left I started running first and got In front. Christ I was leading a race, fair enough it wasn’t a top level fell race but I will take it, I was still leading some good runners and I vowed to not let it slip. So digging in I ran the reasonably steep traverse and never looked back. There was no point in doing so as I was working as hard as I could anyway. If I got caught well so be it. After about 200 meters the course flattened out and eventually I saw the changeover point a further 200 meters away. A throng of downhill runners were waiting in full waterproofs getting buffeted by the strong wind. But where was Will. I pushed hard into the side wind to reach the gate for the changeover.
I had managed to pull out a 21 (19.02) second lead on the 1.7 mile 1,250 feet ascent, but all this was lost as my partner Will Houghton wasn’t ready. He never expected me to be first to the changeover (neither did I) and was sheltering in a hollow 50 meters to the left. So by the time he came over and took his winter gear off Clive had made the time up and Will and Lee Dowthwaite set off together. Unfortunately Lee better at descending and he proved this eventually beating us into 2nd by 47 seconds. In truth I would have needed about a 45 second lead for Will to stand a chance of victory. But it was a really fun event and everyone enjoyed it and 2nd  in 28.54 is far from a bad result. A drink and chat in the Calf’s head rounded off a great club event. Roll on next year. Remember Will I am the downhill runner!

No comments: