> 2010 race reports
18/09/10 Simonside Fell Race - from John Telfer


Suffering from the fellrunning equivalent of cabin fever courtesy of my injured ankle which has had me sidelined since early August I journeyed down to Thropton for the Simonside Cairns Race albeit that it was a case of “look but don’t touch” in that I was there to help rather than participate.

Given my enfeebled state I expected a cushy number such as ensuring the beer in the refreshment tent was fit for consumption. However, I was rudely awakened by being swiftly despatched to the top of Simonside by Commander Phil. However, it was a fantastic day to be out, if not a little windy, affording great views as far as the Cheviot.

Having achieved my stated destination there was nothing else to do than lay out the jelly babies on the rock ledge just below the summit, soak up the sun and the views and wait for the invasion. I also got my camera ready for its fellrunner snapping debut. Unfortunately, on taking my first “snap” the battery ran out !!! Rob and Pat you have nothing to fear from me!

Despite the strong wind I could just about manage to keep my binoculars steady to witness the start of the race 3 miles away in Thropton.

After about 25 minutes, surprise, surprise Phil Sanderson broke cover from the forest but surprise, surprise, surprise a white vested runner also appeared but was heading off in a completely different direction…possibly just a runner out on a training run was my not so logical conclusion.

Next to appear were the NFR trio of Phil A, Will and Lee in eager pursuit. As Phil hit the summit he enquired after the whereabouts of James Buis. Unbeknown to me at the time he was the runner in the white vest taking the scenic route. Tempting though it was to tell Phil that he had gone by 5 minutes earlier I assured him he was the first runner through and sent him on his way.

Shortly after the NFR quartet had passed through the runners began to come thick and fast and I counted at least 4 lines of ascent being adopted despite the route being flagged. The next point of entertainment was seeing about half a dozen descending runners heading back into the forest the way they had come before realizing their error and heading back further along the path. I noted a couple of well “kent faces” (as they say in Scotland) amongst the group but your secret is safe with me !!!!

As the field spread out it was noticeable that those towards the rear seemed to be having a much better time judging by the smiles and cheery comments I received despite their obvious discomfort, matched only by my own discomfort having witnessed Jack McWilliams extraordinarily luminous yellow top – whether this was worn for a bet or just something to be put down to the youth of today only Jack will know.

The final runner came through just as Phil was passing the winning post 3 miles away Just as I set about tidying up the summit of tape James Buis arrived following his slight “detour” having admitted to having got a bit lost! Well, true but at least he got the best value for his entry fee having probably having added an extra 3 miles to his journey around the Simonside massif.

Recounting the day’s events to Stewart Barrie earlier today he pointed out the delicious irony of our Phil being the prime beneficiary of someone else’s navigational malfunction. What goes around comes around!!

A most enjoyable and entertaining day. Rather perversely it almost has me looking forward to my voyeuristic experience at the Two Breweries next weekend, hopefully with a fully charged camera. No substitute for taking part but the next best thing!!!

John Telfer

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