The Old Counties Tops race : 21st May

35.2 miles
10,171 feet

This was the fourth time out of the last 5 for Bill and I. This really is a brilliant race. As Bill said "the T-shirt was earned this year". This is one of those rare races where you have to complete the race to get the t-shirt; I like that Ideology.

The day was to start with periods of showers, and was fairly cool and cloudy for the 8 am start. Bill and I progressed well to Helvellyn, on the descent I noticed Bill was a bit more tentative. I waited for him a couple of times, but we both rallied on the next climb up to Greenup edge. As we approached the col the weather turned ugly, and light rain became heavy severely wind blown rain. Straight in the face it felt extremely uncomfortable and cold. I said to Bill that it was the first time I'd considered dropping down stake pass into Langdale, for the quick, no t-shirt,  way back. We toughed it out and ascended to Sca fell pike well. On the decent Bill got cramp in the same precarious craggy spot as last year. At least the weather had improved.

From now on it was just a case of getting to the finish. We had a long refuel on the lovely sandwiches at Cockley beck, plus on departing a slice of Wynnes chocolate brownie was a fantastic desert! It was  a bit of a trudge up to Coniston old man. This is a tough climb, and I felt for Bill, as I took it easy, then waited enjoying the views whilst taking some photos.

We descended the Old man fairly well, and made up a few positions on the run in down to Langdale. That weather earlier on certainly meant that everyone that finished earned their T-shirt. Well done to good friends and fellow Bowland fell runners, Steve Cliff, and Yiannis Tridimas on winning the Vet 100 category.

Bill and I finished 38th out of 93 in 9.37:56. Paul Tierney and Matt Reedy won in 6.53:51.

The Howgills Trail 26 : 15th May

26.3 miles
3,672 feet

This was my first try at this race. The route is an up and over the high points of the Howgills out of Sedburgh, dropping into Ravenstondale, before a less steep and easier up and over back to Sedbergh. The first part is on familiar training ground, and  It was a nice day for it, not too hot, but sunny. Prior to registering I bumped into Michael (curly) Irving, for the first time since the Grand Tour Of Skiddaw race. It was good to catch up, and note his unusual warm up technique of having a cigarrette prior to the race. Still, it seams to work for him.

After nearly missing the start due to queuing with the Howgills 13 runners (set off 10 mins later) for the toilet, we were off. The first 2 miles are a steep climb unto Arrant Haw. I climbed ok, probably in the top 7 or 8, but felt I was working a bit too hard. I eased back after the summit and continued at a steady pace. Unlike a lot of fell races this had a lot of swing gates that had to be opened and shut yourself. It really does slow down the momentum, I would guess in total that there were about 30 in total. Apart form this slight frustration I felt my race was going ok. Just before half way I caught and chatted to last years winner for a while. after the halfway CP I pushed on and left him. On the long climb I was struggling a touch but managed to keep running up most of the road. Then kept a decent pace on the trail down to Cautley, and the 2nd CP.

Not long after this I felt the fatigue. My lack of appetite was beginning to bite. In the last 2 miles I really slowed to a point where 2 passed me and I just couldn't respond. I trudged to the finish, feeling a bit disappointed. At one point, 5 miles earlier,  I was running in 3rd, and with the guy that came 3rd. Still it was a good day for a nice race. Not sure I enjoyed the sheer amount of gates to open on the  route though.

I finished 6th in 3.55:06. Allen Smalls won in 3.39:13.