Saturday, 11 May 2013

Mount Famine 2013

The Three Days in May Fell Race series kicked off yesterday with The May Queen. Last year I got my best result of all time- 5th. This year I missed it.
There was no way I was going to miss Mount Famine though. 8 and a bit km, nigh on 600 metres of ascent (brutal ascents they are too), and weather that never really promised to be much more than a bit damp and windy means that it is far too much fun to contemplate sitting at home revising.

Having done it for the past 2 years I know the course, which, in a nutshell does this:
Brutal up. Up. flatish up. Down. Hard up. Up. Up. along - but trending up. Really Up. Down. Up. Hard up. Up. Horrible Up. Down. Down. Down. Along. Up (forever, and ever and ever until you want your legs to give way) Along, but feels like its trending up. Down. Hard down. Hard along. Finish.

So basically its pretty much all up. Though it ends at the same level as you start. Actually, just a bit lower.
Surely the best and craziest start of them all. 
But it feels like it should end on top of a hill.
Lynne and I arrived early, so that she could help with the registration, and I helped drink tea and chat. As it was a Glossopdale race a fair few of the club were out and about, so it was a nice social occasion.

But not for too long.
We wandered across to the start, and stood around looking at the first climb up Elle Bank for a while. I took the opportunity to make my way up the ridiculous incline to work out where the path was at the top, so that I didn't start out too far along the path from it, working out a plan to get there as fast as possible.
We eventually started, with the starters orders being as low key as normal.
"right guys, uh. 3,2,1,go"
And we started thrashing our way up the hill. A Buxton guy threw himself past me just at the bottom, but I
Off goes Simon Bailey- top right
kept my line and started hacking up the hill as fast as I could. The next thing I knew I was at the top of the hill with only Simon Bailey and one other in front of me. Oh. Oh dear. I think I may have slightly over cooked this....
Then Mark Ollerenshaw came piling past and much the same thought flashed through my mind again.

Oh well, Ive always wondered what it would be like to go out hard and then see if I can hang on. I suppose this is as good a race as any to do it on.
A couple more people passed me on the next part, but I held on during the short descent.
Going up to Mount Famine Alastair was the first of several to go past, with me thinking "oh dear - I'm just going to to backward now".
It's that point in the race where the lungs are hurting, your legs feel slow, people are passing you and you think. "you know. I don't *actually* enjoy this".
Dan Chan, on his charge back to fitness overtook me, and all I could think was that I couldn't let another Pennine vest past me, as I was 3rd Glossop, and that would mean giving away the team prize.

We Ran across the Dragons back, and I gained a couple of places back, overtaking a Buxton runner and
Great picture taken by Nev
Alastair again just at the top of the hill.
Somewhere along the way was Nev, shouting wildly at us and encouraging us with great enthusiasm. No idea where it was, I was far too knackered to work that out.
Off the hill and a Cheshire Hill runner cruised past. Effortlessly taking another 20 metres in front of me, and catching up with Dan and a couple of others. Nothing else to do but head down, last climb, for the moment, before the massive down into Dimpus Clough, where I was planning on really motoring and trying to claw back some time.

On the way down, I found myself a little sidetracked, looking over to the left to see if Simon Bailey was already climbing up out of the clough, but after nearly falling a couple of times, and realising my pursuit wasn't going quite as well as I hoped, it was eyes down and concentrate on the hill all the way down.

Until the bottom. I'd just about caught up with the next 4 in front of me, who had all overtaken me just after the first climb. I don't have a great record on the ascent out of Dimpus Clough, having haemorraged places in both previous editions of the race, so I started the ascent with a little trepidation, stomping my way up the hill, and as soon as it got a little "flatter", or maybe I should say "less wall like" I ran a good few steps to try and gain some time, and, if possible, places.
Up and up, I managed to take 3 places, but a Buxton runner was right in front of me at the top, and the Cheshire runner was a good few lengths in front of him. A fight was on, and a few kilometres still stood between us and the end.

The end
How LONG does the dragons back go on for?! I managed to descent off the lump faster than the Buxton runner, and now with him breathing down your neck, the continuation to the end seemed to go on forever. Nev was there, braving the rather unattractive weather, shouting encouragement and taking photos at the point just before the final up before the final down, and I was being pressed hard.

Across the top, I thought it would be interesting to see what a couple of short accelerations might do, especially down the slight dips in the undulations. The only thing I could gauge it from was how much I could hear his breathing. My mind was completely focussed on not being overtaken.
Then I changed my mind. I looked at the Cheshire runner, an unfeasibley long way ahead, and instead of running FROM the guy just behind me, I started to chase the other one down.
Step by step, down and down, we continued. He was right behind me even to the steep path off the hill and onto the final track, and all of a sudden, he wasn't there and I was gaining on the Cheshire runner.

No. Surely not.
Yes. I'm wearing arm warmers and gloves, I didn't fall in a bog. 
I slowly gained until about 500metres before the finish where I drew along side, lengthened my stride a little, which he matched. Oh. He's playing with me. Do I want to be the one congratulating him for pulling away and beating me? No.
Slacken off, and go again, and this time he fell behind.
I have to keep going now, and managed to hold on right to the end, gasping, choking, coughing and spluttering. I rocked in 5th.
49:28. Sub 50, which was the main aim for today, and only a place behind Mark O. (a couple of minutes behind, admittedly, but still, just one place). Now *thats* the good feeling I was looking for during the race.
Alastair came in as first V40, Caity came in 2nd Female, and Lindsay got 1st V40 female.
Despite our best efforts, Pennine got the team prizes! Well done guys.

Alison and the Glossopdale cake box. mmm. Thanks Alison 
Slightly recovered
And Alison brought out some amazingly tasty ginger and chocolate brownie cake. Definitely worth a mention!

So. Happy with that. Training seems to be going well, and the next race is Old County Tops. Long and slow, not really one to race, but rather, just to survive. Can't wait.

Well done, as ever to Simon Bailey. First by miles. Just out of interest, does anyone actually know what he does for training? My theory is that as a sheep farmer, he doesn't have a sheep dog and just rounds them up, one by one, on foot - thus training through work. This hasn't been substantiated, of course.... but I was just
Something I don't see often, but am really quite proud of.