Windy Hill Fell Race 2014
A late arrival to the Hollingworth lake based fell race foreshadowed how I would arrive at the finish. Pushing past the furore of fell racers ready to make their way over the 9 mile course, I reconvened with the usual Clayton fell running faces – all of us ready to tackle what was ahead. There was an excitement amongst the men, knowing that with a good performance the team prize was within our grasp. With the race rundown by Cannonballs John LLoyd concluded we assailed the early steady climb.
Once the initial charge over the start line was over, the rabble descended into packs all vying to tussle over the potential finishing places. Up ahead the ever present pack leader, Spencer Riley, found himself in a battle over 1st position, with his two other male competitors ready to take the spot should he slip up. This battle came to a compelling fruition once we had passed the M62 bridge. The trail opened up, the track long and arduous, yet each competitor contended for first place.
Reaching the foot of the mountain we had to climb, the fast pace ceased with the leading pack beginning their ascent of the ever ascending moorland. Having front row seats to Spencer’s skirmish for first place had me forget about my own three way feud between 4th, 5th and 6th. Persevering up the hill, I caught up with the two runners ahead, whereas Spencer seemed to lose a little ground.
Arrival at the summit ushered a surreal sense of locality. We’d emerged from the boggy moors to what seemed to be the rocky highlands. With outstanding views in all orientations, this route quickly climbed the mental league table of favourite fell races. Harsh and uneven terrain engaged the runners and manifested each of our resolute capabilities. It was here where the race opened up with 5th dropping to 6th, whilst 4th pushed on. The burning of our rock climbing thighs were quickly cooled as we reached the very summit, all of us ready to pound down to the other side.
It was here how clear it was to see that the front pack had pulled even further away. With Spencer now leading, he had shown his tenacity by not only clambering back to pole position, but by creating a large margin from the rest of us. A former front leader had dropped back into 4th and among the ancient roller-coaster like pathway we exchanged this position back and forth. Now completely isolated from those in front and behind, the passing remarks from the marshals assuring us of having little left to go aided the little stamina we had left – we pushed on..
Unfortunately, we pushed on a little further than intended. Looking at the Strava results indicated that we extended our run by a further 1.6KM, rendering our efforts along the way void as there was no track left for us to make the error up. However, after a good moan and sulk, an experience and memory was invoked and not least between the runner I had shared the heart sinking realisation with. 4th was his to be had by this point, a prize at the end awaiting him too, but we ran back in unison and had a laugh at our own expense. The sort of camaraderie that can only be found upon the Fells. (Maps shown indicate the difference in routes taken)
After arriving back over the finish line, passing through it the wrong way, I was happy to learn that even through my fault Clayton had secured the team prize. Better yet, Spencer had secured the top spot for the men. Having had a full view of his enduring battle for top spot, I can assure you that he fully deserved his accolade with many more 1st place positions to come in the future I’m sure. Fantastic runs from Matt Perry in 6th with a time of 1:02:03, Ryan Wilkinson in 35th and Alan Life in 50th rounded off a spectacular day for Clayton-le-Moors Harriers.
(Photos courtesy of Garry Wilkinson)
In other news, the veteran M70 John Francis tackled the 44th annual Parbold Hill Race in Lancashire, finishing in with a great time of 1:26:09. There was also terrific runs from James Ireland and Tony Scott at the Central Lancs 5k, who came in at 123rd and 184th respectively. Also, runners from both Clayton-le-Moors Harriers and Trawden ran 25km over the hills of Colne and surrounding locations, putting miles in the tank for the forthcoming long distance races.