Saturday, 5 March 2011

Titterstone Clee - 05/03/2011

Final push to the top, 15 yards behind Rick
All photos by kind permission of Al Tye
BREAKTHOUGH RACE! I feel like I took another big step forward today, although I think the work has been done over the winter, mostly hard climbing on the Tuesday night sessions. On the first two thirds of the ascent there was a slight element of trying to save myself for the Valleys tomorrow, but that evaporated as I realised I was doing well and keeping up with some runners I always felt were better than me.

I had to dig in hard a couple of times to keep running on the way up, but I could have done more. A good fast start helped though and I got to the top in good shape, a few seconds behind a group with David Jamieson, Stuart Trowmans, Rick Robson and Andrew Mason, and just ahead of Andrew Hearle and Anderson Hirst.

Starting the descent
I was into my running at the summit quickly and passed Stuart, then tucked in behind the rest of the group on the initial run-out towards the dyke and steeper part of the descent. Anderson must have descended to the left and either he's a demon descender or it's quicker that way, because I didn't see him again and he finished 15 seconds ahead of me, after being probably the same amount down at the top!

Into my running and preparing to FLY! 889 is Andrew Hearle, a fellow Mercian

There's a bit of rough ground and a slight reascent the way we went, and I managed to pass David and Stuart here. I kicked really hard as the steeper ground started and passed Rick, hoping I might build enough of a lead over Rick to hold on when the going got flatter. This was a proper committed descent: I love it when you just guide your feet and turn your legs over as fast as you can. It's the kind of ground I like best, rough and rock, but with plenty of grassy places to plant your feet. I was flying, but all too soon the ground flattens and my lack of speed started to tell. Rick passed me just at the little stream 300 yards from the end (I called him a rude name, sorry mate), and from then on I was clinging on to his wake so as not to give away another place.

Fortunately there was enough in the tank and I managed to stay ahead of Gary Gunner, another one who must have had a great descent, as he was way back at the top. I clung on for a really satisfying 14th place (small field though!).
When I finished after I shook hands with Rick and went through the mandatory gasping routine, it gradually dawned on me that I might have had a really good run. There weren't as many people around as I expected. I asked David what his time was (25:23) and for a moment I thought I must have done a good time and finished in about 26 minutes. David had to remind me that I'd passed him. It gradually dawned on me I'd had a really good race... 

I actually finished in 25:10 and my%age score, despite an amazingly fast winning time from Lloyd Taggart (he broke the record easily in 16:42 and won by over four minutes) was 85%. I've never had better than 75% before...

My previous times for this race were 34:23 (63%) in my first proper fell race in 2008, and 32:41 (70%)  in 2010. I've made a step improvement in the last year, and this is really encouraging. I think there's more there - I could have taken 30 seconds off today if I'd run a little more above the dyke on the ascent, and maybe another 30 seconds if I'd used the "quick route", and I'm sure with some speed training I could go faster on the gentler parts of the course. 24 minutes should be realistic for next year if the conditions are ok. Now I know I can do it...

I'm not too bothered how it goes tomorrow as long as I finish and get my T-shirt now - running really well twice in two days might be a bit much to ask.

The Clee Hill race is a really friendly old fashioned turn up and run sort of event, and I really love it. It was nice to see so many familiar faces (Lightning of these parts was out and about doing his stuff, and Al and Pete Douglas photting, Charlie's had his hip replacement and was starter again, Elaine did the results etc. etc.) It's a shame there was such a small field but perhaps that's part of the attraction. If the quality of the beer and pork pies in the Horseshoes gets out then we'll be inundated with runners next year...


  1. Sounds like you had a good race.

    I have to admit I did look at Titterstone Clee and the LMV's races earlier this year, but discounted them as I knew I just wouldn't be fit enough to do them.

    Having walked up Titterstone a couple of years ago in an event called the Bent Clees Challenge I know how steep it is.

    Hope today's race went just as well.

  2. Hey Ross

    Yeah it was good, and the LMV too, yesterday. Just going to put some pics up on the LMV post now.

    Am I still going to meet you at the Potter next week? Introduce yourself. I'll be one of the guys with the Mercia vests (if the weather's as nice as yesterday!)