The Tour of Pendle as described on the race’s website:
- This is a category ” A-long “ race in winter, it is NOT suitable for NOVICES. There will be a cut-off time at check point 4, anyone not arriving by 12:30pm (assuming a 10:30am start) will be retired and directed back to Barley Village Hall.
- Runners most only enter this race if they have substantial experience of similar terrain, distance, conditions and of navigating across mountain terrain in poor conditions.
A piece of cake then…….
For a few years,I have looked on at my proper fell running mates in awe as they dissapear off for a day up in Barley.The facebook photos and banter for the weeks after always made me a bit jealous.But Pendle hill is ominous in summertime,it’s always windy and don’t even mention the WITCHES .It wasn’t going to be a race I rushed into
Fell running in a nutshell,for those who don’t know is the sport of finding the steepest hill/hills,usually off road, running up them and then chucking yourself off the top!
In other words…..
I love all running however,
I can just be doing mindless laps on a track,running home from work or racing a marathon.it’s my happy place and keeps me a little sane.
Fell running however is special,
Because it is so hard! nothing else really feels better than trudging up a hill in the mud and rain for 15 minutes just to throw yourself off the top like you are a child again!
My mate Mike said it best on the start line,someone asked him about his ironman tattoo and would he do it again,he simply replied
he would but he was worried he would miss days like this!
So I have set the scene….
Pendle is a big race that has intimidated me for three years,so the night before I would have a high carb meal and an early night right……..
I went to my clubs road league presentation night,before I left home,I muttered the immortal words all blokes say…..
I’m only having one,be back in an hour or so!!
Six pints of Guinness and a couple of Whiskeys from Captain chris’s trusty hip flask,I arrived home at 11pm a little worse for wear!
Arriving in Barley on Sat morning I was feeling a little sorry for myself,It didn’t help that at registration,they gave everyone a T shirt and bottle of beer from the sponsor Moorhouses! Could I just go home now and pretend I had run???
Walking back to the car to get changed,looking more like a drunk than an athlete I bumped into my friend Alan.
For regular readers I first met Alan at the lakeland 50 in 2018 and then again by chance on the course of Lakeland 100 this year! We completed most of the course together and without him I may of dropped out.
The problem is,I never see Alan outside of races,so i’m a little worried he isn’t real and just a figment of my imagination!
Meeting up with Clubmate Lisa,she just looked at me and laughed.I really was a hungover mess! And on the warmup I really did want to just get back in my car and crawl up into a ball.
The first climb soon sorted me out,straight to the top of Pendle hill! Whatever Guinness was still in my system was being sweat out at an alarming rate!! Thankfully I had a couple of muddy miles downhill to try and swallow my lungs back into my body!!
The biggest descent on the race is called Geronimo (take a look,just before 8 miles above!),
You can watch some mentalists run down it here on a previous year!
I received some sage advice from club mate and friend Fiona about Geronimo and it was spot on! want to know what she said?
Find your own fiona 😉.
As soon as I hit the bottom,I shoved in two energy gels as we still had four climbs to go,each followed by a nasty descent!
I finally began to feel half normal again and everyone I had spoke to,had warned me that the race did not start till after geronimo.So I decided to push a little…
The climbs are like a sadists wet dream,each a little steeper than the last,but the ground was sodden so at least the descents were a mix of springy grass and mud!perfect for hitting fast and not having to worry about the quads!!! Once again the VJ Irocks were incredible,you just can’t slip in the feckers!!
At the top of the final climb,I was finished.
It had been a long day and i just could not be arsed……..
But Nicky spinks had just pulled up alongside me…….
Now i’m not proud of this,and Nicky may be nearly 20 years my senior,BUT she is one of fell runnings legends,running and winning more races than I dare to even think about!! Including the record for a double Bob Graham!!
They make them tough on Nicky’s farm!
I have never beaten her in a race before.Whether she was having a bad day or not (she was),the race was on!
I however didn’t tell Nicky we were racing,im not an idiot!!
One final pass of the Pendle trig point and its 1000ft downhill back to the finish.Lungs screaming I just turned off my brain and let the legs do what they do best,even passing a few runners going downhill (if you know me you will know I don’t descend v well!)
Hitting the final road mile I went at it as hard as I could,I knew the sub 3 hours was just out of reach but happy with a tough day complete!
I almost fell over the finish in 3:03:54.
Yes we may of been lucky this year with the weather,but I really enjoyed myself and I can see Pendle being added into my diary for many years to come!
Back at the car,I stripped out of my gear and cleaned myself as best as possible with a wet long sleeved t shirt and drove straight to the pub for a well deserved pint (and sit down!)
I just don’t learn.
For the grand sum of £9 I got a day out in the hills with my pals,a race t-shirt and a bottle of moorhouses ale! (I went for white witch if you were wondering) which I enjoyed in the bath at home after the race!!