“As I stepped off the bus, I was struck by such heat that I could barely catch my breath. I felt that the flaming air all around would soon choke me…I knew I wouldn’t get far, but kept going, with great difficulty, lifting one leg, then the other, as if I were pulling them out of a bottomless, sucking quagmire…My ears were buzzing; the heat seemed to be growing more intense, more abominable.” – Ryszard Kapuscinski
The third British Championship counter and the third one they insisted on scheduling for a sunny day. Ten Westies, two Shetts and one dog packed in to a mini-bus for a trot round the Yorkshire dales with the great and the good of the UK fell-running scene. Sam had chosen country over club to compete in the UK Home International on Sunday (though he proved his worth with his consummate bus-driving, dog-watching, child-minding skills) but otherwise the rest of us were raring to go.
The start was manic with 400-odd runners haring across Tebay recreation ground field and then being funnelled through a narrow gate, along a road and up a small lane. When we got out on to the field the mass the mass of runners split in to three streams each taking different routes across the moorland depending on which elite competitor made the best route choice; from the sky it must’ve looked like multi-coloured Dad’s Army arrow armies moving slowly across the landscape. I had the surreal experience of being in a group crossing paths with another group going at right-angles, dodging runners the whole way.
Once you got past the open-moorland it was a case of following fairly well-defined paths along the undulating ridge-lines of the dales. I felt like a bag of tatties from the get go and the heat didn’t help; it was definitely a plod-day. The final steep climb up Blease Fell was a nasty sting in the tail and then a couple of miles of gentle descent in to the village that seemed to go on forever before staggering across the finish line.
Some water, a beer and burger later it didn’t seem so bad, except the lingering exhausted nausea of being out in the sun for too long.
A quality day out and well-worth the journey to tick the British champs. Well done to all the Westies for taking part and many thanks to Sam & Alistair for organising/driving.