> From Coniston To The Chevy Chase - John Duff

January - got off to a bang with the Hill Forts and Headaches run on New Years Day. Starting at the Newcastle Hotel, the route winds up the flank of Simonside and finishes on the ridge. Despite the weather (low cloud and rain) there was a good turnout. About half an hour sees you up, then there's the jog back down for soup and drinks in the pub. A good way to start the New Year.

February - fellrunning gave way to days out with the Newcastle and District Beagles. Beagling is hunting hares with a pack of beagles and if you are keen (which I am) you can run along after the hounds. On one memorable day at Ingram, hounds ran for 3 hours up and down the flanks of Brough Law and Fawdon Dean. After running up the same hill for the nth time, I wise up and stay with the rest of the followers on top of the hill.

March - for those who can face the prospect of 14 miles on the road, the Coniston 14 is well worth the effort. This scenic run loops around Lake Coniston, starting and finishing in the village. It is superbly organised, friendly, and even has a few hills to keep you going. Try out the Coniston Bluebird Bitter (named after Malcolm Campbell's boat) in one of the pubs afterwards.

April - whisper it quietly, but I walked the Allendale Challenge with some friends from work. On a superb sunny day the course was dry and fast, and the view from Killhope Law excellent. As the runners streamed past with a good compliment from NFR including John Humble on his umpteenth Allendale, I felt a touch envious. Maybe next year I'll run it.

May - saw a return to the hills with the Alwinton Fell Race. This fast 14 miler heads up Clennell Street and takes in Bloodybush Edge and Cushat Law, before a fast descent through Kidland Forest. Running in company with Karen Robertson, I managed to survive a tumble on the descent of Cushat Law but felt the effects on the climb back to Clennell Street where Geoff Davis eased past me.

June - the Windy Gyle fell race is another Keith Cooper special. Sunshine gave way to mist on the climb, with several of the lead runners in Garry Owen's posse going astray. The descent down The Street is fast and furious, and the run is over in about 70 minutes. A gentle warm up for ‎

July - the Chevy Chase. After suffering big style at Carey Burn last year, I was determined to finish in better order this time. Most of the course was run in thick mist - leading to several runners going awry at Broadstruther. I just realised my mistake in time and managed to claw my way back on course. From there, I ran virtually the whole way in splendid isolation, until the runners from the fast start caught me at the end. Afterwards the tea and chat in the Youth Hostel was most convivial.

John Duff

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