> 2011 race reports
09/04/11 Allendale Challenge - from Francis Shillitoe

I’d heard about the Allendale Challenge  18 months ago, and was slightly in awe of the fact that people not only ran marathon distance, but went up and down fells and through bogs as well. Having not run more than about 10 miles (road) myself, I couldn’t imagine undertaking such an endeavour, but on Saturday, found myself in Allendale Square with a newly acquired NFR singlet, a rucksack full of “compulsory equipment” and an array of foodstuffs determined to get around in a half decent time.  Amongst other things the compulsory equipment included spare clothes, waterproofs, survival bag and first aid kit. Looking around at my fellow competitors I wondered how they could fit all this into a bum bag. On the ascent to the chimney John Duff passed me and commented he’d need to sort me out with some “light weight” kit. If anyone could direct me to the nearest Tardis bum bag supplier I would be truly grateful.

The route and running was fairly easy going to Ninebanks, and then the long ascent to Hard Rigg began. A route choice moment happened crossing the stile onto Mohope Moor. My pre-race planning had determined that following the fence/boundary stones  on the right hand side would be the quickest way to the Trig Point summit, but everyone else was taking the path to the left. Being an orienteer, and one of the golden rules of orienteering is to ignore what everyone else is doing, I stubbornly stuck to my plan. I was reassured about a mile later when other runners had decided to take the same route.

From Hard Rigg to Black Hill the fell started to sap my energy. Dodging around a long stream of walkers and trying to stop getting sucked into the bogs was trying to say the least. Rather than going up Dodd’s End I thought I would be clever and cut off the corner. All was well until I found myself waist deep in the bog - do people die in these things? Pulling myself out it was a short hobble to Black Hill and a well earned pit-stop was in order.

To Killhope Law the going was tough. The bog had turned into huge craters and crevasses which made it impossible to get any sort of running rhythm together. The unnatural contortions on the legs, led to the first tell tale twinges of cramp whilst descending the track down to the river, and energy gels and salted peanuts were consumed with great a gusto. The inevitable cramp spasms happened whilst running along the river to Spartylea. They seemed to wear off on the Long Drag, although now, it was as much as I could muster to keep one leg moving in front of the other.  I contemplated the possibility that I might have to walk the rest of the way when I realised that this might be the mysterious “wall” moment and realised that I wouldn’t be the only one suffering at this point and would just have to dig deep  for a few miles. Reaching the road was a great relief, and managed to pick up a bit of a pace on the descent into Allendale and the finish. It was great to chew the fat with other NFRers over pie and peas and proved a most satisfactory end to the day’s proceedings.

A big thank you has to go to the event organisers and helpers (and there were a lot of them).

Francis Shillitoe (Frank)


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