Pendle Fell Race 2013 – race report

It is the taking part that counts, isn’t it? Discounting the Box Hill Fell Race, it has been a while since I have run a proper hill or fell race. It showed. I was 66th at today’s Pendle Fell Race in Lancashire, a long way back from the action at the front. I should not be surprised. Sydenham Hill or South Norwood Hill in south London simply cannot prepare the runner for challenges of the ilk of Pendle.

I got a terrible start. The organisers were pushing runners back to a start sign, only to start the race from further up the road in Barley, leaving me stuck behind a couple of hundred of folk. After weaving my way through traffic up to and around Ogden Reservoir, we were soon on open hillside, running uphill. My thoughts turned to weakness: when can I walk? Soon, it turned out. The marked race route was runnable, but few were running, so I joined the procession of determined walkers. The summit was in sight when the route plunged down Pendle’s eastern face, before climbing very steeply to the trig pillar. A long, colourful single-file line stretched ahead and behind; it was beautiful in a masochistic kind of way.

Getting down was the easy part. The slope was moderate, the ground predominately dry. I did not time the ascent, but it cannot have lasted more than 12 minutes. I walked back to where I had parked my car, in a layby offering an uninterrupted view of Pendle and the track I had raced along to the finish. The photograph below is that vista. Runners were pouring in, racing downhill, geed on by muffled shouts. I could see some on the very top of Pendle, stick figures silhouetted against the sky. It was a sky that was a sensational blue, sharpening the green and brown edges of Pendle. Meanwhile, the hill’s crevices cradled the last of the winter snow. Not for the first time I could see only beauty. Beauty in this sport and beauty in the places this sport brings us.

Full results here.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. John says:

    Agree with you comment in the first para – I did the Stan Bradshaw Pendle Round in March – the flat south just doesn’t really have the training opportunities.

  2. Andrew says:

    As a teenager my bedroom window looked out over the rooftops to Pendle , Black Hambledon and way off to the north Ingleborough. I miss the inspiration of those views a lot living in London. Running around Tooting Bec and Streatham common isn’t quite the same. I seem to recall coming about 60th too at Pendle a few years ago. Hell of a long way to go for a race. If you ever want someone to split the fuel for weekend trips up north let me know-I’d be keen!

    1. heightsofmadness says:

      Andrew, thanks, I will do. I’ve family living on the Fylde, so the journey from there is less arduous. As you say, running around the commons of south London couldn’t be more alien than the fells.

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