Monday, 8 March 2010


I decided a couple of days before the close of Pre-entries that I would enter the 1/2 tour of Pendle. I missed out on the full tour at the end of last year because I didn’t think I was fit enough to do it, although I suspect I actually was. I sent off my entry form on the 28th February with pre-entries closing on the 1st March, but with the Royal Mail being as spectacular as they are these days I knew it wouldn’t get there until the 2nd at the earliest. Following this I then read on the FRA forum that the race was now full so I wasn’t sure if I was actually in or not.

You know, I don’t mind all of this pre-entry malarky because of restrictions that are imposed on crossing the land etc but if a race is going to be defined as Pre-entry then is should be a requirement that the organiser makes available an entry list online prior to raceday, even if it is only the day before, it’s not hard in todays interconnected world to get this information published. Barley isn’t a fair trek for me but it’s still 40 miles each way and it’s a long way to travel to find out your not entered into a race due to limits. (Sorry, rant over)

Anyway, after collecting young Fowl-up I arrived at Barley and headed in to see if I had a number. On walking into the hall I was surprised to see that there was a sign up for “Entries on the day” but thankfully I DID have a number to collect. I picked up a map which thankfully I didn’t need as it was a poor photocopy.

Back at the car, I looked up to the top of Pendle hill and seeing spots of snow I began my dilemma about layers and if I should have leggings on. Spying a few people with leggings on I convinced myself I would wear them but then on the last minute I decided not to. Although I did have a Helly, my vest AND a windy top to start with.

All the runners milled around on the start line and I settled myself into my natural starting position (At the back) before the crowd headed off. At the back we don’t normally hear the pre-race commentary or the word “GO!” and the conversations suddenly end when the crowd of runners suddenly head off in front off you.

I ran the Pendle Hill race last year and the race heads of down the same road but it doesn’t turn up the hill as soon. Eventually turning up the up off the road the climb gets hard quite quickly but by this point the leaders already have quite a gap on the people socialising at the back.

On the trek up to the peak of Pendle Hill I managed to swap places with a few people a few times but generally I made ground. Passing the peak and after the turn I found the running difficult to get a rhythm on the hard icy ground. It isn’t really what you would call a downhill either it’s just a gradual descent for about 3 miles and for over 1/2 of that I could constantly hear someone breathing down my neck,  I kept pushing on but eventually I lost a couple of places to two runners but with passing a couple on the way down I hadn’t really lost any places. During the descent though I looked over to my left and could see the front runners in the distance heading up the 2nd climb. I don’t know how they do it!

After the 2nd Checkpoint and reaching the end of the descent I took the opportunity to take a gel and take on some water before the start of the next climb. I could see it from this point so I knew I was going to need some extra energy soon. And I think I made the right choice as on the next climb I managed to pick off about 4 places but that was tough little climb which by 1/2 way up I was actually starting to enjoy it although I was a little uncertain about the awe of “Geronimo!” to come. At the top of the climb I sort of expected the descent to come quite quickly but it didn’t and there was a little plateau before eventually the ground ever so slightly started to descend, the path split (and the mountain rescue guy pointed his head down the right (left) path and I reached the top of Geronimo!.

Well I had been watching this video all week and I knew it was going to be a good run down which I think I handled quite well considering, although I suspect if I get the opportunity to try it again a few more times I’ll get better at it.

As you come over the crest of the hill and look down it looks very high and nerves kicked in a little. The ground was soft enough for my shoes to grip and I was cautious enough not to make any silly route choices but I can imagine it is a VERY different experience in the rain. I thoroughly enjoyed this bit though and took a good part of the lower 1/4 section on my bum, well it would have been rude not to really!

Crossing the stream and through the gate is a small final climb before a long run in over the fields and the final descent into the finish.

After picking up one more place coming to the top of Geronimo I couldn’t catch up to anyone else before the finish and the one person that was in front of me just seemed to be making up ground quicker than me.

Finishing in a time of 1hr 50min 13sec in 214th place from 244 runners I was very happy with my run and based on (my view of) my current fitness level I didn’t feel I could have given much more. It’s a start and is only my 2nd fell race of the year. I definitely felt that I had earned the MOUNTAIN of Chicken fried rice, Curry sauce and chips I polished off for tea.

Thanks to all the organisers and marshals, and to the mountain rescue guy for guiding me on the right path.



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