> 2004 race reports

Simonside Cairns Fell Race

12th December 2004

On the drive up to Rothbury the fog was shrouding the valleys while vague hints of sunlight suggested that the tops were clear. It was a cold start to the Simonside Cairns fell race but as we climbed the first hill, brilliant shafts of sunlight were warming and dazzling. Surely this was a perfect day to be running in the hills. From the southern edge of the run the rocky outcrops of the Simonside ridge were in sharp relief against the golden hues of the dead bracken and from the summit of Simonside some patches of fog were still lying in the northern valleys looking towards Cheviot. This was the second time that the route has come directly from Selby's Cove on to the southern spur of Simonside. The only regret is missing the festive spirit indicated by the tinsel decorations shining through the eerie gloom of the short section through the wood. This year I was running so hard that I'm not sure if there was a decorated tree on the Simonside ridge.

Tim Wylie of Tynedale was the first to cross the finishing line with Phil Addyman in second place two minutes behind followed by Ray Maynard of DFR. Alison Raw of DFR was the first woman, closely followed by K Davis of North Shields Poly and then Louise Wilkinson. Garry Owens in seventh place is continuing his strong comeback on the fells.

Simonside Cairns results

Paul Jameson

Hexhamshire Hobble

5th December 2004

The Hexhamshire Hobble attracted 97 runners on a fine dry day. In the final race of the NFR Championship series Morgan Donnelly finished in first place in a new record time despite the windy conditions. The first woman was Karen Robertson, followed by Alison Raw of DFR and then Louise Wilkinson in third place. The second man was Tynedale's Tim Wylie who was also the first veteran runner and in third place came Philip Addyman. The women's team prize was taken by NFR with Karen, Louise and Sally Welsh being the three counters. In the men's team competition NFR took the prize with Morgan, Philip and David Armstrong.

Hexhamshire Hobble results

Paul Jameson

Guisborough Three Tops

28th November 2004

The final race in this year's North East Counties Fell Running Championship from Guisborough Rugby Club had a record turnout of 116 runners. Have a look at the results of the Three Tops race. The first man was Charles Stead followed by Philip Addyman, both of NFR, with Joe Blackett finishing in third place, enough to win the North East Fell Running Championship, I think. The first woman home was Heather Monro, a world class orienteer, followed by Pippa Whitehouse, another top orienteer with Karen Robertson of NFR in third place to win the Championship. With Louise Wilkinson and Sally Welsh, the NFR women took the team prize by one point, a timely triumph as all three have performed exceptionally well in the North East Fell Running Championships. The weather was kind to us although the wind was brisk on Roseberry Topping. The mud was so sticky in places it felt like running with weights on your feet. The writer returned by the moorland path and along with only three other runners enjoyed a private race, even though the route choice meant losing some time. I will study an orienteering map of the area before choosing a route for next year.

Guisborough Three Tops results

Paul Jameson

A Tale of Two Races

1st August 2004

an account of the Kielder Borderer written by John Duff with occasional asides by Paul Jameson from a different perspective at the back

Louise breaks record!

The Kielder Borderer: 17 miles of scenic running that shows off the Border country at its best? or the fell race from hell, complete with mud and midges, and designed for masochists? 37 runners assembled at Kielder yesterday to find out. The field was swelled by contingents from NFR, North Yorkshire Moors, and Saddleworth Runners who had made it a championship race.

Starting at the Castle, there is a quick half mile along the Old Railway Line before a slippery climb up through the forest to Greys Pike. The mist was just on the tops, so visibility was down but a least it was cool. After a run along the ridge to Three Pikes, a rough descent through the forest leads to a river crossing and run along the road to Kielder Head. That was the easy bit. (The road choice was a tip recalled by one of the tailend party at the wrong time.)

The climb up through the woods to Grey Mares Knowe was a long one, and with the mist proving slow to clear several runners went astray here. (No problem with navigation when we arrived in the sun. My distant memory suggests that this ascent was harder many years ago when the deer fence and path weren't there. Can anyone confirm.) I was running in company with David Burn and Howard from Saddleworth, and we managed to find the elusive escarpment track, stealing a march on Geoff Davis and Dave Atkinson who dropped too low. However we promptly lost the track, and a party led by Louise Wilkinson caught us up.(No problems losing this track but a problem finding one later.) This led to a mass arrival at the Knox Knowe checkpoint and the question on everyone's lips was: where now? (We had advice at the checkpoint about a path between two fingers of bracken on the far side of the stream and ominous warnings about the tough going.)

The answer proved to be a rough descent down to the burn before an indistinct track led through the heather to the impressive Kielder Stone. (Not many have taken the route downstream and upstream taken by the intrepid explorers at the back of the field, having opted out of the direct and seemingly pathless route through the heather. Advice urgently sought.) From here there was a long and weary climb up to Peel Fell in by now warm sun, before the final pull over Deadwater Fell. (This was the easy part after our exploits and on a path as well! The advice to aim for the fence posts after Kielder Stane was recalled in the nick of time soon after we started to head up the stream.) And the least said about the descent - both stony then marshy - the better. (The descent was a pleasure especially after the warm welcome by North of Tyne Search and Rescue on Deadwater. Both parts of that word had significance for us.)

David Armstrong (3:11:22) running his nth Borderer led NFR home, finshing second behind Joe Blackett (3:07:24). In the ladies' race, Louise Wilkinson (3:27:44) proved she is the Tracey Morris of NFR, knocking one hour off her previous time and breaking the course record. There were other notable performance from Chris Little and Paul Hainsworth who finished together arms aloft, and from Paul Appleby whose times are coming down. Ray Gray and Mike Sanderson were second V50 and V60 respectively, and last but not least Paul Jameson swept up the rear of the field just in time for the prize giving. (Paul was accompanied by Charles and his friend Ruphina who was running in her first ever fell race after Charles had suggested they could do it. I think Charles was a little worried when I suggested it might take as long as the Allendale Challenge. My competitive instinct – yes really – got the better of me at the end and I lost out on the prize for the last runner but on my reckoning gained valuable championship points.)

The fell race from hell? (A race classified as B, proving that numbers don't mean everything when grading a race.) You will have to run it to find out.

Kielder Borderer Results

John Duff

A member of Saddleworth Runners says “It was good to see you all last Sunday, we had a fantastic weekend and look forward to seeing you next year.”

Now read an account on the Saddleworth Runners website

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race

6th July 2004

A field of 64 fell runners assembled for the 9th running of the Saltwell Harriers Fell Race on a fine summer evening after days of heavy rain. Even the midgeys' turned out in force to see the runners off. The early pace was set by Saltwell's veteran athlete Fred Smith with a host of Northumberland Fell Runners in pursuit. The chasing pack led by KIMM winner Steve Birkinshaw, tried to overcome Fred's lead by what looks to the chasing runner as a short cut on the run up to the summit of Collier Law. Those runners will now know that the short cut is not what it seems as Fred was first to round the summit and headed down the very rough fell, sodden from days of torrential rain. Despite stumbling into one of the large pools of water which are conveniently placed, Fred maintained his lead to the road crossing. These pools and the rough terrain seemed to take they toll on most of the field going by the numerous stories at the finish.

After the road crossing the conditions under foot were a lot drier, but this did not help Phil Addyman gain anything on Fred who, stretched his lead after the river checkpoint finishing a minute ahead of Phil, the only under 40 male in the first 16.

Karen Robertson maintained her dominance of the ladies in this race, her 3rd victory, by finishing in 17th position overall, ahead of Louise Wilkinson who, despite injuring an ankle battled on bravely. The race was brought to a close by Roy Dawson running with only one leg fully operational as his other leg awaits a new hip. Ray delayed his operation as he did not want to miss the Saltwell Fell Race, having competed in all of the previous 8 races. I expect to see Roy with his new bionic hip at the starting line for what will be the 10th anniversary of the Saltwell Harriers Fell Race next year.

The evening came to a close in the Moorcock pub with the prize giving, an event in itself. I would just like to add a big thanks to the landlord of the Moorcock, Gordon Moyes, who has welcomed the Fell Runners these last 8 years. Gordon informed me that this was likely to be his last year as landlord due to him taking retirement. I just hope the new landlord is as hospitable as Gordon.

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race Results

Keith Wood

Old County Tops Fell Race

22nd May 2004

"Have a banana! Try the flapjack. More tea?" The marshals at Cockley Beck Bridge seemed intent on catering for our every need. We had arrived at the vital checkpoint with 15 minutes to spare and could now take our time. The Old County Tops Fell Race was in danger of turning into a gargantuan feast.

The race had started 7 hrs 15 mins earlier at The Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale. 76 runners mingled in the cool of the early morning, nervously chatting about the rigours of the day ahead. At 8 am on the dot we were off, plodding down the old road before the first climb over to Grasmere.

The race is run in teams of two. The circular route takes in the highest peaks in the old counties of Westmorland (Helvellyn), Cumberland (Scafell Pike), and Lancashire (Coniston Old Man). This covers 37 miles and approx 11,000 ft of climbing. Speed most definitely gives way to endurance. The order of the day was to walk the ups and run the downs.

After crossing over to Grasmere, the race heads up the tourist path to Grisedale Tarn. I was running in company with three others, and our two teams soon settled into the pleasant company of the back-markers. The front runners took a bee-line up the side of Dollywagon Pike eschewing the path and we followed suit. This set the tone of the race – take the line of least resistance.

Helvellyn was soon ticked off in 2 hrs 15 mins. The views were superb – blue skies and a cooling breeze showed the Lakeland panorama at its best. However there was little time to linger, and we were soon making a grassy descent to Wythburn car park where refreshments – cake and orange juice – were on hand.

The next section up the Wythburn is remote and a bit of a slog. It's all uphill and so difficult to run, and the climb out to Greenup Edge seems to go on for ever. We elected to go over High Raise; others contoured round it and in retrospect that was probably the easier (if not quicker) route. We were now firmly the back-markers and had no-one to follow as those in front had all disappeared. In bad weather this section could have been difficult, but luckily the clouds were high. After a jog off High Raise, a good path leads from Stake Pass to the Angle Tarn checkpoint.

A well-trodden path leads over Esk Hause to Scafell Pike. The tourists were there in number – bizarrely one lady was carrying a guitar case on her back. We reached the second Old County Top in 6 hours where the marshals were dishing out jelly-babies. Mickledore is out of bounds for this race, so we took a direct route off the west side. This was extremely rough in the upper sections with unpleasant scree and rocks; we later learned that others had dropped into Little Narrowcove. However once down, the course through Upper Eskdale and Mosedale to Cockley Beck Bridge is both a delight and runnable, especially if you have recce'd it.

Suitably refreshed from the checkpoint, we headed for the last Top up the back of Grey Friar before traversing under Swirl How. Here we saw the other teams as they made their back from Coniston, and realised that we weren't too far behind. The marshals on top of Coniston Old Man included a fellow Geordie, and we enjoyed 10 minutes in their company watching the climbers on Dow Crag.

The final 6 miles back to Great Langdale are mostly downhill, but seemed to last an eternity. We mustered a sprint [reality – stumbling jog] to the finish in 11 hrs 5 mins, and were greeted with a round of applause. We were last (every time we overtook a team they dropped out), but didn't mind. It had been a great day out, and the finishers' T-shirt was the business – many thanks to the organisers Achille Ratti [a Catholic climbing club].

NFR was also represented in the race by David Atkinson and Mike Jeffrey; the former putting in a particularly creditable performance finishing fifth. This race is a 'must' on your fell-running CV.

John Duff

Coniston Fell Race

3rd May 2004

Saturday 1 May saw the running of our fourth championship race of 2004. This time we were in the Lakes for the Coniston Fell Race and what an excellent turn out of NFR members there was! Approximately 27 members ran the race and there were some excellent performances on what was a beautiful morning. I have not seen the published results yet but in a high class field of around 227 runners Morgan finished 3rd (Ian Holmes and Rob Jebb (both Bingley) were 1st & 2nd), Steve B was 20th and, after an excellent run, Mike Jeffrey was 22nd. In the Women's race Karen was 6th followed by Louise and Emma. I think our women's team may have done very well. But there were lots of excellent NFR performances across all the age categories - WELL DONE EVERYBODY!

Geoff Davis

Gisborough Moors Race

4th April 2004

There was a great turnout of 21 NFR members at the Gisborough Moors fell race. This 12 mile race is held at Guisborough Rugby Club and there were over 160 runners. After a slippy, stiff climb up through the Woods, the run heads over the open moors, visiting the heights of Captain Cook's Monument, Roseberry Topping, and Highcliff Nab. After the recent rain, the course was very muddy and wet in places: some of those who forded the burn near Sleddale went up to their waists. There was also plenty of climbing - the short sharp hills just seemed to keep coming and coming.

I'm told the sea was visible on the return leg, but by then I was feeling the effects of the stiff climb back from Roseberry Topping and so missed that view. The run finished with a final slither back through the woods and a sprint (if you could muster it) down the road back to the clubhouse.

NFR did well in the race honours. Charles Stead won the race; John Metson was 1st V50; Ken Rawlinson 2nd V60; Louise Wilkinson 4th lady; NFR A 1st men's team (Charles Stead, Phil Addyman, Mike Jeffrey, and David Armstrong); and NFR second ladies' team. (first ladies' team, I think, with Louise Wilkinson, Jane Walker and Linda Bray -ed) For some reason the home team of North York Moors AC didn't count for the team prizes (perhaps they are not allowed to win their own race?); but don't worry chaps - you would have won anyway. (North York Moors runners who were previously members of Mandale are serving a self-imposed "exile" for a few months until they are eligible to run for their new club. Good luck to NYM AC. - ed)

Gisborough Moors Race results

John Duff

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