“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”
Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
Now and again you have to do things which you know are going to take you out of your comfort zone and possibly be hard and difficult; no, I’m not talking about running an Ultra Marathon – I’m talking about a 5 mile Fell Race!
Yes, a 5 mile fell race with only 275m of ascent.
It had been a long time since I had done a Fell race, let alone a race, which wasn’t under 10 miles. I had only been training for 3 weeks after having a short stay in hospital with rhabdomyolysis post Iznik Ultra and laid up for three weeks (always good to get your excuses in first).
After an easy 5 miles run in the morning before the race, I knew it wasn’t going to be my best performance as my legs still felt very fatigued from the previous week’s two long runs.
On the plus side the rain had stopped for the race and the 232 other runners and myself gathered outside the Derwent Arms.
As the organiser shouted ‘GO!’ there was a sudden explosive charge of fell runners hurtling down the road! I had forgotten how fast fell races start, I have become accustomed to gentle easy starts of Ultra Marathons where you chat and get warmed up over the first couple of miles. However this was every man and women for themselves, like a rush to the Next Christmas sales!
My legs were screaming at me and Helen Elmore, who I coach, was right next to me as we climbed up the High Street and up onto the winding track up the hill side, I was struggling to push my body, my legs lacked strength, and I couldn’t get enough oxygen in my lungs. As the trail flattened out my lack of fitness was evident as I unable to increase my pace and close down on any places; my lack of fitness was unequivocal as I was unable to get pace down below 6min/mile as the race began the descent back down to Calver.
I had been in a tussle with Simon Mills, fellow Dark Peak Fell Runner and Ultra Runner during the race, which had meant I wasn’t able to ease off the pace and we had a fast and painful last half-mile back into the finish through the village. Thankfully I was able to keep a big enough lead to finish off with a ‘Blue Steel’ pose as I crossed the line and finished first Local Male.
Well done to winner Stuart Bond who reduced his course record and first lady Helen Elmore, I finished 26th (possibly the lowest position I have ever finished in a Fell Race) and to my girlfriend Jen Regan for winning the first local ladies prize.
I don’t know when I will be back fell racing but I know I will be back again to face its pain and its pleasure and enjoy the paths it takes us down.
Thank you Dan Allen for the photos.