> 2010 race reports
03/07/10 Chevy Chase - from John Telfer

CHEVY CHASE : 20 miles / 4,000 feet
Saturday July 3, 2010

Personally, I could think of no better way to celebrate my 22nd wedding anniversary than having a quiet 4 hours of grateful contemplation in the Cheviot hills to reminisce over the many wondrous events that have taken place since 1988. As luck would have it a fell race had also been arranged for this day, the world famous Chevy Chase no less. An unexpected but hugely fortuitous visit at short notice from my wife’s sister-in-law who had been up in Scotland on business meant I wouldn’t be missed and so with all the cunning of a schoolboy playing hookey from double Latin I crept un-noticed over the border to do battle with the Chevy!

Arriving in a sun drenched Wooler, the Youth Hostel was a buzz of excitement and anticipation as walkers walked to their station for the 9.30am start whilst the hill runners, the foxes of the fells, went about their business under the watchful eye of Sergeant Major Bagness, exuding quiet calm yet authoritative manner patrolling the forecourt and woe betide anyone who thought they would avoid the kit-check.

The gathered throng were sent on their way and as usual Phil Sanderson was 400 yards ahead of me after 200 yards. My initial kidology that I was going to take the first part easy and enjoy the scenery soon translated itself to a more realistic I cannot go any faster even if I wanted and after a couple of miles I reconciled myself to long day of contemplation in the hills.

Gloom turned to near despondency as we hit the stony track out to Broadstruther where the whippets of road and trail put me to the sword. Banishing negative thoughts I thought that conditions further ahead may yet favour the old dog of the hills and therefore I should plod on and not lose heart.

However, despondency turned to near despair as the higher we roamed the more the headwind sought to slap me in the face and take my spirits with it. This mood was not improved by a couple of runners, perfectly decent folk you understand, who seemingly had the ability to both jog their way up the Cheviot whilst holding a non-stop conversation. For heavens sake I was running out of breathe just thinking let alone talking.

The torture was temporarily abated when I was joined on the long schlep up the Cheviot by Jack McWilliams with whom I chatted until the ground levelled off and he went off gazelle like over the flagstones. It was here that I began to encounter the walkers, who unlike their Allendale counterparts, were fully versed in the use of walking poles as a means of aiding stability and forward movement rather than being used as practice for a 360 degree baton wielding competition or to mimic the ground crew at airports with the table tennis bats who tell pilots where to park their planes.

At Cheviot’s summit I made a duff manoeuvre in finding the quickest way off the summit. As this was actually a John Duff inspired manoeuvre it worked extremely well and as he was probably about half an hour ahead of me at this stage I cannot think that he was quaking in his Walshes at having divulged his secret to me. The only time he is likely to find me surging ahead of him is in the race to the bar The Dog and Gun in Keswick in my never waning thirst for knowledge of the hop.

The descent off the Cheviot posed a few problems on the steep grassy parts for those not ideally shod and a few places were reclaimed with much thanks I was able to soak my feet in the Harthope Burn at the bottom, albeit to the slight chagrin of another runner who was trying to use the burn to rehydrate and as a result was now getting eau naturelle avec a hint of sweaty socks. I was tempted to tell him he should have been more worried about the three dead sheep lying ten yards further up in the burn but as he didn’t speak my language I just smiled and gave him a vegemite sandwich (© Men at Work 1983).

Many varied angles were adopted for the ascent of Hedgehope but seeking the line of least likely disaster I stayed well in the middle of the phalanx of wheezing shufflers which didn’t seem to do any permanent harm. From hereon  the wind was in our sails and in doing so it helped to lift the spirits of one old fellrunner now a mere matter of weeks from entering his sixth decade.

Having struggled for the best part of two hours a soupcon of joie de vivre entered my shoes and a fast(ish) descent and gambol over to Langlee Crags saw me make up a few more places and despite a few awkward navigational moments I managed to hit the Brands Corner checkpoint (god bless the yellow fluorescent tabard) but which unfortunately eluded a few.

By this stage I was in hot pursuit (in the running sense) of the third placed woman who set a cracking pace to Carey Burn bridge. As she stopped there to take on board water and as I was on a limited pit stop strategy I was forced on alone in pursuit of a distant runner to act as my navigational buoy (or boy ?).

Despite a slightly sluggish trek along the Carey Burn to the Hells Path checkpoint the sight of Bernard, with dibber and jelly babies to hand, lead to an immediate rise in the spirits.

A mere 25 minutes later saw the beast of the Chevy slain and all thoughts now turned to cool showers, tuna baps and cups of tea. Results and photographs appeared before our eyes as we all took our place in the sun to be serenaded by M.C. Bagness dishing out the prizes to runners and walkers alike.

The race was won by Mathew Roberts of Eryri and despite his achievements my brain immediately began to wrestle with the question as to how many 5 letter words exist which consist of three syllables. I was reliably informed by his team mate and sixth finisher Noel Craine that it is pronounced “Eh – rare - ree”.

And so another chapter in the never ending summer of long days in the hills drew to a close. A wonderful day in beautiful surroundings and conditions with old friends and new with much praise and thanks to Claire and Mary, the matriarchs of all matters Chevy and their many helpers too many to mention but all much appreciated.

Although these things looked effortless on the day, success does not happen without a great deal of hard work and many challenges and trying moments along the way…..a bit like being married for 22 years to a wannabe fellrunner !!! 

John Telfer

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