> 2009 race reports
05/04/09 Allendale Challenge - from John Telfer

Allendale Challenge : April 4, 2009 - 26 miles, 3,000 feet of ascent

After the heatwave of 2007 and the snow of 2008 the weather adopted a middle ground for the 20th running / walking of this popular event organised by our friends at the North of Tyne Search and Rescue Team. The day was given added poignancy as for the first time the runners were competing for the Bev Farnie Trophies. Bev, a previous stalwart as organiser and helper of the Challenge sadly passed away in the past year and her family had provided the trophies in her memory.

Of the 50 or so runners NFR was well represented by around a dozen including a notable few who were using this trudge in the mud as a mere warm up for the following day’s Gisborough Moors race.

Set on our way from the market square in Allendale bang on 10am the initial cavalry charge down the first hill soon gave way to a more sedate pace as the runners wound their way through the back roads and out into the industrial landscape that is the Mill Flue and Chimney. Back on the road before the fast descent to Ninebanks and already Garry Owens was disappearing far off into the distance with Karen Robertson also establishing a commanding lead over the other women given a very clear indication as to where the spoils of the day were destined.

A further stretch of steep road and track then gives way to the open moorland where the runners catch up the rear end of the walking fraternity and so begins two hours of having to dodge in and out of their way and the odd flailing walking pole.

The long haul between Hard Rigg and Black Hill did not seem to be quite as boggy as in previous years but with a strong crosswind and intermittent showers it still was certainly putting the challenge into the event. The following mile and a half up to Killhope Law through the craters of peat were as demoralising and as never ending as ever.

The descent to Allenheads whilst beginning easily enough becomes tortuous and soft grassy paths give way to a very stony hardcore road intent on shredding the soles of your feet. However, a modicum of relief was then attained by the pleasant path along the river banks up to the penultimate checkpoint at Spartylea.

From here it is up The Drag (which is not so named for nothing) up to Ladle Well. For once the weather gods were on our side as the sun chose this moment make an appearance comes whilst the wind is on our backs the whole way up. The final three miles is the first three miles of the Hobble in reverse. Although having considerably less ascent than this race it still seems much longer with 23 miles already in the bank.

As predicted about 3 miles into the race Garry Owens took the men’s title and Karen Robertson won the ladies race. Full results will appear on the NOTSRT website.

Then, as the power of speech and use of various sensory faculties returned and with very posh T-Shirts claimed it was off down to the pub for pie and some of the most fluorescent mushy peas I have ever witnessed.

As ever a hugely well organised day and with over 700 hundred walkers having registered for the event hopefully the most successful one ever staged, as befits its 20th anniversary and the memory of Bev Farnie.

John Telfer

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