It is always great to compete in relays. Running, in the main is a very individual sport, but the relays give us a chance to compete as a Bowland Fell Runners team. I particularly like the Ian Hodgson Relay as it is a true Fell relay run, on proper fell terrain. I last competed in this in 2007 for an injury / illness hit Bowland A team, and I loved it. So when asked to compete again for a mixed team I was really pleased.
After a less than useful midweek recce of the final leg, I waited with Ali Welsh in squally showers at Hartsop for the leg 3 runners to come in. It was cold and there was mist on the tops so after a discussion with Ali we decided on a low risk strategy of, cutting up off the track early and onto the ridge leading to Hart crag. We also decided to follow the high line around the top of Cofa Pike as the faster line could cost us time in poor visibility.
Soon enough Rowena and Emma were racing towards us with the dibber, and Ali and I were off down the farm track to start the climb of Hart Crag. I was still in a hat jacket and gloves, which would all come off within 10 minutes of running. Over the bridge and then we finally decided to definitely cut up onto the ridge early. This was a tough steep climb, but it did gain us height fast. The jury is still out on whether this is faster than the route straight up the valley. Most teams seemed to think this to be the case as they chose that route. Only 2 other teams near us chose the same line. As we neared Hart Crag we entered the mist, which we would be in until the descent of St Sunday Crag, making the top difficult to spot; but after this Ali found some good lines around to and over Fairfield.
We were both running strong at times battling the wind and mist to spot the lines. But we made it to St Sundays crag in good enough nick to run the ascent and catch a few teams, and one at the very top. Ali picked a great descent line, allowing them to go first and choose a bad line, and we overtook that team without seeing them again. It was good to see the finish fields below and after checking over our shoulders we knew that our position was safe. So we ran relaxed into the finish field; which unexpectedly evoked memories of foot races at junior school; to finish the Bowland mixed relay team’s effort. It was a good effort too as we came 5th Mixed team, 30TH overall in 4 hours 52, and collected some prizes for it too. So that capped off a great day, the slate coaster is always a good memento of the day too
Most of the happy mixed team at the finsh in Patterdale. Sarah, Rowena, Me, Ali and Emma