Monday, 16 April 2012

Coledale Engl / Brit Champs Fell Race - 14/04/2012

Starting to motor at the top of the final descent
Saturday saw me up bright and early to meet Pete and Mel in Walsall for the drive up to Coledale. This is the second English Champs race and the first in the British Champs series this year. We arrived in good time and met up with the other Mercia runners near the registration tent. Andy D had been up for the week and was able to give us a good briefing on the course before the start. My target for the day was to get a bit closer to David Malia than I was at Lad’s Leap, and to try to run under 150% of the course record (Simon Booth’s record was 1:11:25, so I was aiming for 1:47:07 or better).

Pete and I wandered back to the car to kit up and then walked back to the event field to see the ladies start – they were off about 15 minutes before the men to avoid perceived bottlenecking problems around the course. We watched them go and then it was time for a few last minute kit adjustments. It was pretty cool in the field when the sun wasn’t out so I went for a thermal top and thin tights thinking it might be cold on top. We’d been given a Buff at registration to celebrate the inclusion of the event in the Buff Mountain Running Cup, and I took that and my gloves with me, as well as the windproof and leg cover. I’d hydrated up, so didn’t take any water with me, just a gel and a few jelly babies. I noticed I had my headtorch with me and hoping I wouldn’t need it with about eight hours to dark, I got it out and waved it around a bit.

The start was very quick, uphill for 150 yards through the field to a gate where I passed my torch to Pauline and Joe Faulkner for safe keeping! From there it was down a stone track (very dusty) at some speed and then onto the village lanes, climbing to the steps which lead onto the Grizedale Pike climb. As promised there was a huge bottleneck here, and we stood pretty much stationary at times. One or two tried to push their way round – I hope they were road runners and have now been sent for re-education. After I guess a couple of minutes delay we were up the steps onto a runnable section of the ascent. I found myself about 50 yards behind David in a group including three Pennine runners I recognised from the Edale Skyline. It’s nice how you often end up running with the same people. Rick Ansell of Tring was there too, I’d last seen him at Mam Nick on the Skyline but he told me he’d sadly had to drop out after that.

The route soon steepened and I mixed walking and running to the top of Kinn, where there was about a kilometre of good runnable and fairly level path before the route steepene again. I had to walk pretty much all of the climb onto Sleet How and then up the well defined east ridge of Grizedale Pike. Just before we got to the top the wind got up and it started to snow gently. I grabbed my windproof (carefully positioned near the top of my bum bag with a bit sticking out to make unzipping and getting it on easier – I’ll do that again) and got it on before the checkpoint at the top (791m / 2,595’). Thank you to the three hardy souls taking numbers as we went through.

The next section was a good fast run contouring under point 739m and then down to Coledale Hause. I started passing the last of the ladies here and also started to feel I was moving ok having felt a bit slow on the big climb. The next stage was the ascent of Eel Crag. This was quite a steep scramble up bouldery grass and a bit of a gully towards the top. There was a bit of rockfall going on up here so I stayed over to the right away from the loosest section. Maybe with 500+ runners the danger here’s a lot more than usual on the race and it would have been better routed 300m up the gully from Coledale Hause before climbing to Sail over easier ground.

Anyway I managed to run all of the second section of the climb to reach a second checkpoint at the summit of Crag Hill (at 839m / 2,753’). There was a fairly steep descent over quite polished rock off here which I enjoyed and took a few places on. I don’t remember the climb to Sail but the race was routed over the summit and I presume I must have done it! Then we were away on the descent, down a good path, or in my case down the grass to the left of it, overtaking more ladies. I was still following Rick here but I’d lost touch with David on the climb up Eel Crag. After half a mile the path swung left to contour downwards under Scar Crags. This section looked narrow and rough, and I attacked hard as the group of 8-10 in front of me slowed, running past Rick and several other blokes with some of the ladies mixed in. Further down the path became rocky and rough but more gently graded on safer ground, and I kept putting the effort in, struggling with the path and trying to use the more level ground to the sides as much as possible. A couple of guys passed me here, and I was relieved to turn off after a mile onto singletrack to contour round to Barrow Door.

I tried very hard to keep running up to Barrow, and managed quite well with only a couple of sections of hiking. Rick passed me again near the top. I knew the descent was long and very runnable, so I got moving as quickly as I could at the top and fairly quickly had passed four or five men. From there on in there were only a couple of ladies I could see in front of me and I kept pushing on hard, using the ladies as a target to chase down rather than feeling any pressure from behind. This works better for me if I need an incentive to keep the speed up. Eddie Davies had climbed up to about halfway on the descent and gave me a great shout up “Bloody ‘ell Jim, well done lad, give it some welly” which was just what I needed. I passed the second of the two ladies a hundred yards from the event field gate and flew on in to finish in 1:43:55, over three minutes ahead of target. I didn’t realise at the time, but I’d also got a lot closer to David because he finished a single place and 24 seconds ahead of me. I reckon I can call that one a good run.

Hopefully there will be some photos to follow!

We stayed and nattered for a little while, but Pete (44th in 1:17:29) and Mel (8th lady in 1:28:27) needed to get back to their families so it was back to the car, the A66 and the M6. A long day, but an excellent trip! Mercia results below:

4 Anna Bartlett LV40 01:26:36
8 Mel Price L 01:28:27
52 Kim Braznell LV55 01:45:04

13 Steven Cale M 01:11:51
20 Tim Davies M 01:13:09
44 Pete Vale M 01:17:29
55 William Neill MU23 01:19:00
57 Andrew Davies M 01:19:07
62 Paul Jones MV40 01:19:57
81 Roland Stafford M 01:22:12
114 Tom Roo M 01:25:42
139 Andy Davies MV45 01:28:14
265 David Malia MV45 01:43:31
266 Jim Tinnion MV40 01:43:55
326 Ross Powell MV55 01:54:26

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