Four Carnethy teams had a great day out at the FRA Relays at Middleton Fell yesterday. When the 24 runners have rested their weary heads, the reports will no doubt flood in. In the meantime, here are the results:
A few more photos here.
Reports by Jim and Iain:
Jim’s report –
Answering the Captain’s call for extra runners, I offered my services for the FRA relays. I always enjoy the Devil’s Burdens, and hoped this would be the same, so signed up hoping for a fun afternoon on the hills. I wasn’t disappointed.
Iain Whiteside set the teams, and who was running what. I got leg 2 for Carnethy B, a fairly long leg for two runners. I was paired with Iain Gilmore, which was good because we are very similar runners. Well, except he’s a lot better in every way, much faster, and can descend like a well-greased avalanche….but apart from that we’re pretty much identical! Sigh, it was going to be a long day for me. Bob Waterhouse flew into the handover, and Iain and I set off up through the series of open gates to the fellside. With the number of teams in the event there is no avoiding the fact that it’s a bit of a precession, and not much navigation is required, at this point at least. So the maps were ignored and we concentrated on trying to pick-off anyone in front. To the first checkpoint was undulating, and switched from sheep trod to runnable tussocks. I took a tumble trying to overtake some fella, careering head first into some ferns. Iain done well to restrict his laughter to a mere chuckle and waited for me patiently. We stuck together throughout, with only Iain boosting ahead at the checkpoints to dib the dibber – he managed to time his run quite well in that we always left the checkpoints together and without delay. One observation is that some other teams don’t really run together: one will sprint ahead and then stand around with their hands on their hips looking annoyed, whilst the other will struggle along in the distance behind. I think this a bit odd. Anyway, the long slog to checkpoints 2 and 3 were quite runnable and we gained quite a few places, then an odd traverse and a sharp drop to 4. After 4 the steep ascent through heather was cruel, it really sucked the energy and momentum from your legs, and I was grateful to get onto the track to the summit of Calf Top. The descent proved tricky as the cloud was low, visibility greatly reduced, and it was hard to judge your line down the hill. I stopped a couple of times to see if anyone was taking a different route – being unsure of where I’m going just stops me dead – but we were all in the same area and finally we made it to the checkpoint. Stupidly, I thought it was going to be a nice track across flat ground to the finish, alas I was wrong! More undulations, trackless contouring, and thin trods to the finish fields. On the way Iain and I got into a bit of a battle with two other teams, we rampaged along the trods and all trying to overtake each other without losing track of our pair, so as a group of six we swapped, twisted and turned all the way along at speed, all egging each other on and battling hard. Excellent fun! I tried my best at a sprint finish, but by that point my legs were done. A quick shimmy through the fields and handed over to the Matts. In the starting field we ate our free potato and sausage, drank a pint, whilst watching the Carnethy tent struggle against the wind and Mary’s kids forming a formidable gang with other fellrunning orphans. A grand day out!
Massive thanks to Iain Whiteside for organising it all, and to Iain Gilmore for getting me round ok.
Iain’s report –
The FRA relays are one of the highlights of my racing year (behind the LAMM and the annual club pilgrimage to the Mournes). Unlike most other relays, all legs start and finish in the same place, so you get to follow the action really closely (or stuff yourself with bacon butties or sweets). Well, if the weather allows it. Thankfully, despite the doom-mongering from the FRA, temperatures were high, winds were medium, and rain was low.
I cheered in the Mikes, Bob (and witnessed his spectacular fall), and a kilted Mary on Leg 1 and cheered out the Andrews, Jane and Joanne, Aidy and Adam, and (unfortunately the only adjacent initials of) Iain and Jim on Leg 2. Then, it was time to find Konrad and get ready for our leg.
I found Konrad performing an elaborate warm-up routine that involved a lot of wriggling around on the ground. It seemed to work though, because when the Andrews stormed in (having a great run!), Konrad shot off, leaving me struggling to keep up. I managed to get in the zone by the time we picked up our map and had just enough breath to laugh and say ’this’ll be easy’. The checkpoints were straightforward: those we hadn’t visited on our recce the previous day were all on line features and there was no real route choice for us to get wrong. No problems.
Last year (when we ran the nav leg) we were slow and steady, this year we were fast — being among the top 5 for most legs — but idiotic. We managed to bin 8 minutes on the 3rd checkpoint: a shelter cairn beside a wall on a shoulder of Middleton Fell. We arrived at the wall, beside a track. Good, that’s right. Now, where is the cairn marked on the other side of the wall? Err, not there. Turned out we were on an unmarked track, the cairn didn’t actually exist in real life and we were too far west. A bit annoying, but we should have realised much earlier and not directed about a dozen teams that were closing in on us directly to it.
Feeling like fools, we blasted through the rest of the checkpoints and down to hand over to Andy… Andy, where is he??! Bugger, don’t tell me he’s not ready for us?! Just as we reached the finish, he appeared in the pen and shot off to lift the team into 12th! A great result, and I’ve managed to get over my second relay c**k-up in 3 races. Thanks for the rest of the team for being so understanding! And well done to all the other Carnethy teams running.
Another highlight was the V50 team coming third and accidentally being given the Mixed team prize that included a nice pair of pink knee-length socks and a lot of mint-cake…