> 2012 race reports
29/09/12 Kielder Blast Fell Race - from Will Horsley (photos: Rob)

Kielder Blast: so called because it would be a short blast around the woods, trails and hills behind Kielder Castle and also because the race is the last scheduled at Kielder, breaking a run since the early 80's. It was a new route devised specially for the English Championship and the constraint of coming up with an AS category race resulted in a rather convoluted one but I think I just about got away with it! Another constraint of being a championship race was the different starts for men and women, which played havoc with the timing system (we managed to fix it on the day, but you may have noticed the men had a different start line to the women).

About two-thirds of the entries were taken on the day but my two lovely assistants, Vicki and Rosie, handled the process smoothly and efficiently like only women know how. I was pleased with the entry numbers, not least because it meant I wasn't out of pocket, but also because at one point we hadn't had too many entries and then a mad 20 minutes ensued when the registration desk was besieged. Runners seemed pleasantly surprised with the use of an electronic timing system and we only had one runner who managed to lose his chip and needed a replacement. The race was going to be a real test of the system although the same set-up had been used in several cross country and activity races.

The weather just about held up for the day although recent rain meant it was going to be a boggy and muddy course. The girls went off at 1pm and there was a good crowd and one noisy dog (Casper!) to see them off. The girls would be blazing a trail through some pretty nasty terrain for the boys to follow just one hour later. It would seem the marking and marshalling worked and everyone stuck to the prescribed route. Some of the leading ladies did manage to get confused once on the ascent to Grey's Pike and unfortunately one of the leading contenders retired. A cruel twist of the route meant that an undulating mountain bike trail had to be dealt with before the final swoop or two back to the castle.

Holly Page first lady back

Holly Page, a fellow Durham University student running for Calder Valley and one of the youngest competitors, made it back in under an hour just before the men set off. After the men went there continued to be a steady stream of ladies coming back and it was great to see our very own Karen Robertson comfortably in the top ten.

The men were about as quick as I had predicted with Simon Bailey coming in after 48 minutes and NFR old boy Morgan Donnelly not far behind. Another youngster, Tom Addision of Helm Hill, made up the podium for the men. We had only three ladies in the race but the NFR men did a great job of flying the purple and green flag and we were led home by the ever capable Andrew Higgins. Louis Goffe wasn't far behind and both were in the top 50 which are great results in an English Championship race. At the other end of the field there were a handful of guys in their 70's and 80's and they all came home safely and still smiling, kind of.

A close battle between Simon Bailey and Morgan Donnelly throughout the race

It was nice that several people who had been involved with Kielder fell races over the years were taking part as either runners or marshals, with special mentions for John Humble and Bill Burlton. The race was a terrific team effort for the club and I think we should all be proud that we pulled it off. It would not have been possible without so many helpers on the course, at registration and in the preparations beforehand. Some of my marshals even gave up the chance to run themselves. The course marshals even collected in the markers which meant I was able to get home in time for tea and poor little Casper wasn't dragged round the course again. I really can't express my gratitude enough to all my helpers, especially Rob Stephens who spent hours refining the course map in spite of my rather vague instructions, more hours clearing the course and putting together a photo tour of the route, gallantly volunteering his partner for marshalling duties and then, as is customary now, taking pictures on the way round to give us some of the best pics of the day.

Many thanks to all who came and ran and supported the event - you all made it worthwhile. Thanks also to the race and championship sponsors who all provided prizes: Pete Bland Sports, Inov8, and Trailguides.com . Also thanks to Mark & Donna at RaceTimingSystems.com, and the Forestry Commission for being so accommodating and helpful.


Will Horsley

A last blast of sunlight over Kielder Water

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