> 2007 race reports
04/03/07 Grey's Pike Fell Race - from Dave Hicklenton


Ink black crows wheel around the austere ramparts of Kielder Castle as the runners gather by the old sandstone walls. Breathing out mist and banging gloved hands together, there is a hushed expectancy punctuated by nervous laughter. Sideways glances confirm the presence of old friends and bitter rivals. The Southern Raiders mingling with athletes from Wooler, Keswick and Midlothian. Faces drawn, determined. No defending male champion this year but Karen Robertson is smiling and confident. Joe Blackett, up from the Dark Peak, has been out on the course since eleven o’clock checking the route and conditions with customary meticulous planning. A few words from Racemaster James and the field is unleashed. Away down the hill, over the river and off on the first easy mile. There’s a dash for the front – Coxon, Horsley, Armstrong, Steel and Jones leading the local challenge. The caterpillar strings out along the viaduct and then it’s “hands on knees – through the trees” over and over - the mantra in time with the muddy footfalls. Slipping and sliding through sphagnum slurry, the panting chain threads up through the firebreaks and the snagging branches. Breaking out onto open ground, the angle eases and gaps in the chain become bigger. The leaders reach the top and turn back – flying past their teammates who struggle upwards. Blackett and Horsley have reached the top first and astonishingly, Will (who was second last year), stops dead. Does he feel responsible for the lack of summit marshall? After waiting a while and directing others, he too heads down after sacrificing a possible winning position. Coxon is now in second but this position is squandered after he takes the wrong direction on the descent. The first of four who follow suit at various times in the race. Maynard and Steel are fighting for bronze medal position and Relentless Robertson is well up in the overall classification. A steady drizzle sets in. Those at the back are walking up to the trig point as, two miles away, the leaders arrive back along the river with the iron grey castle coming into sight through the trees. A final push up the last incline and it’s all over. Joe Blackett has won, but outside Nick Swinburn’s record setting time last year. As the runners drip back into the castle there is concern. Where is Steph? Wasim? The others? Anxious moments but they all arrive. Wrong routes and slow times. Back in the castle the Webmaster allocates the spoils. Smiles all round. 54 started and finished. Relentless is rewarded, Dexter is 3 places up on last year, and scouts look to sign up Adrian Brown. The Southern Raiders claim their prizes, the tea cups are put away and the castle is left to the crows. The wilderness is pristine again. The Theatre of Dreams reconvenes in May at the Borderer.

“Stuart Hall”

Dave Hicklenton

(with a nod to John Humble)

... and some photos:

David Steel - photo: Pat
David Steel powers over the rough terrain
Dexter - photo: Pat
Dexter shows Gary Jones the way
Allon Welsh and Paul Appleby - photo: Pat
... no time for doing business on the phone
Kath Dallinson in luminous green - photo: Pat
... fancy meeting you here!
all photos above courtesy of Pat Dunn

Grey's Pike Fell Race results

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