> 2009 race reports
23/08/09 Sedbergh Hills - from John Telfer

14 miles / 6,000 feet
August 23, 2009

Dehydration was never going to be a problem as the heavens opened and stayed open for large parts of this gruelling trundle over the Howgill Fells. Phil Sanderson and myself flew the flag for NFR although on this occasion the metaphorical flag spent most of the race cowering beneath waterproofs.

As aficionados of this race will know, there are some very steep ascents and descents  with plenty of narrow traverses with the going underfoot ranging from close cropped grass through muddy path, river, sheep trod and thick tussocky wastelands. The conditions meant that some of the paths had turned to streams, especially on the long drag up from Bowderdale to the Calf.

Despite that it appears that about 130 hardy souls turned up to do battle with the elements. To be honest, other than when the wind got up a bit around Langdale (the Howgills version), it was never particularly cold and there were plenty of true runners making do with just a vest.

Times were down a bit on previous years. Phil’s fascination with exploring the inner reaches of Black Force cost him a bit of time whilst yours truly travelled round at a more sedate pace. However, I fell victim to a missed turn off the path from Winder, the last summit, and treated myself to a thirty second detour and a wicked duel with some rather high bracken, having led a couple of others offline in my wake. Once again it proves the point: don’t think the person in front knows where he is going!

I didn’t spot anyone from the North Eastern running scene but it was hardly a day for lying on the grass waiting for old acquaintances to stroll by. Stewart Barrie and Chris Upson represented the north of the border contingent with Stewart setting a new world record for consumption of Haribos between Galashiels and Sedbergh.

An interesting aside was the insistence of the organiser that everyone should wear their numbers (unfolded) on their vests. Although a dedicated “number on shorts” man, given that my entertainment was being provided by such people I dutifully complied with this instruction. However, I then spent 90% of the race with my number covered up under my waterproof but at least I was doing as I was told!

The results will appear on the FRA website once they have dried out and had a bath.

John Telfer


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