Sorry this is late. I’d put it off because the website wasn’t accepting posts and then … .

 I’d had my eye on this race for a while as I’ve started looking south for races that are closer to home. Turns out we’re only a half-hour’s drive from Kielder. This was billed as an English Championship fell race with separate men’s and women’s races over a distance of just under 10k with a mixture of rough ground and forest/mountain bike trail.

There was a fair amount of slogging through mud as we did a loop through the forest and then started the serious climbing. I settled in with a group of 5 or 6 but as we climbed and climbed first to a fire tower and then to the trig point, I overtook them all and found myself alone catching occasional glimpses of a runner who was quite a bit ahead of me on the way down the hill. However, she must have taken off when she got off the rough grass onto a mountain bike track that we had to follow for what seemed like a long way. This track was undulating in a way that Kielder seems to excel at and I started to get worried as there were no flags to reassure me that I was going the right way. Up to this point the course had been well marked and marshalled. A quick glance behind showed me that I had a following group so, if I was going the wrong way, I wasn’t the only one. Suddenly there was a marshall. “Downhill from here” he said. That was good as I had been feeling that I needed to be going down at some point soon. More undulating perhaps with a slight loss of height overall and then a sudden steep descent to a track. “800 metres to go down the track” said the marshall here. “Great as I’m about done in” thinks I.

 800m down the track was a right turn to run 400m down a ride through the trees to another track and still no sign that I’m nearing the finish stretch. Another stretch down a track, overtaken by a runner from Dark Peak so I try to keep with her for the company. Then after another bit through the trees I realise I’m back on the route out from the start. I’m sure there are folk just behind me so I put in a bit of an effort to try and stay ahead. Suddenly it’s all over and I’m across the line. The event used electronic timing and so I find out straight away that I’m 3rd in the 55-59 age group. Back at the car while I wait for Craig who’s off cycling round Kielder water, two of us agree that the distance seemed rather long. My Garmin recorded the distance as 11.32km with 638m of climb – quite a blast!!


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