> 2012 race reports
05/05/12 Coniston Fell Race - from Dave Johnson

Chris Rowe, Dave Johnson, Marie Louise Drozdowicz, Trevor Wakenshaw and Neil Gammack represented NFR at this classic Lakeland Race.

It was a sunny, cool day with little wind, a perfect day for a race over the fells. As an added bonus most NFR runners (sorry Chris), were able to prepare for the race in Mr Johnson’s luxurious holiday apartment at Thurston House which was soon full of the smell of various lineaments and embrocations. This stink however, paled into insignificance when Mr Gammack revealed his truly hideous flowery underwear. This prompted an evacuation but only to the race registration at the Coniston Institute Here we met a few more local runners including Martin Hall and his brother of TBH, Martin Frost of NS Poly and the ever present Chris Jamieson from Esk Valley. I had a minor panic when I realised I'd forgotten my Garmin and had to run back to the flat for it, but at least this gave me a decent warm up for a change.

All of us finished within the two hour mark and the race saw a couple of epic battles between some of us. Chris and I exchanged places several times during the race and there was never more than 30 yards between us. Likewise Neil,Trevor and Martin Hall were also closely matched throughout with Neil pulling away on the final descent.

I always find the uphill run up the road and track to the open fell side a trial and today was no exception and as always it was a relief to get stuck into the steep climb up to Weatherlam's South ridge. I left the rest of the team behind right here apart from Chris and concentrated on keeping on his tail although I was sure this wouldn't last long. I felt good on the climb and got to the top three minutes ahead of my previous best. The question was could I keep this up? I was still just behind Chris but we took a really bad line off Weatherlam following some other runners which probably cost us about 10 places so it was catch up all the way to Swirl Hause. Martin Frost of NS Poly had a shock when we appeared behind him on the climb up Swirl Howe because we had left him in our wake on the first climb. We left him behind again on this climb but he was to have the final say.

I was surprised when I passed Chris on the climb up Swirl Howe but he returned the compliment on the descent. I had a great run down to Levers Hause and remembered that in previous years I was usually struggling by this point but today I felt quite fresh. I had been eating the energy chews Lawrence Johnson had recommended and they seemed to be working. Despite these wonder sweets Chris managed to get about 30 yards ahead on the traverse around Brim Fell but I was back on his heels by the time we reached the top of the Old Man.

Chris drew ahead again at the start of the final descent and then a third of the way down and still on the steep stuff, Martin Frost passed us and that was the last we saw of him. All in all I lost about five places before I reached the tourist path. Once on the less steep terrain of the Coppermines path I used my long legs to advantage and gradually closed with and eventually passed Chris. I thought I had left him for dead but no, when I crossed the line in 105 minutes there he was right behind me. Next in was Neil in 112 minutes then two minutes later after a terrific tussle with Martin Hall of TBH, came Trevor followed by Marie.

Trevor and I achieved PBs and Marie was pleased to break two hours after all the injury niggles she has had of late. Relaxing in the sunshine we admired Martin Frost's huge blister which had a foot on it somewhere before reluctantly heading off back to the apartment and preparing to go home after another great day of Lake District Fell Racing.

Dave Johnson

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