Weekend Round up 12-13 March – Black Combe, Retford Half & more…….

-Black Combe Fell Race. – Report by Tom Ratcliffe.

Black combe – The words don’t inspire too many positive connotations. It makes you think of murky British weather, rain, drizzle, fog (clag), disorientation, big hills, tough fell running.

I pondered this definition in Giles’ car as we left the gorgeous sunshine which the rest of the UK was bathing in and arrived in the far South Western area of the Lake District to drizzle and thick fog. Black combe fell lies in an area of the UK, just off the Irish Sea which is notorious for its poor weather and its harsh running conditions.

photo by Belinda Baquero

photo by Belinda Baquero

This eight mile fell race (for those who don’t go astray from the checkpoints) was the first English Championship race of the year in 2016 and being a championship race it had a huge field of nearly 500 runners which assembled anxiously on a flattish farmer’s field.

Anwen Darlington working hard up the first climb - photo by Rupert Bonnington

Anwen Darlington working hard up the first climb – photo by Rupert Bonnington

As lunchtime started to loom, the ladies began their race over the small stream, across the road, and straight into the first sharp climb. From where we were stood, in the farmer’s field with two marquees, some portaloos and a whole load of runners, we could make out the stream of ladies disappearing up the first hill into the ghostly mists of Black combe.

And then the men’s race started. It felt like a quick start (a Harry Holmes type start) the top runners wanting to make a statement in the first major fell race of the year and one of those starts where you get dragged along at the pace of everybody else.

black c chrisAnd then it was straight into the first climb which had looked steep from the marquee field but felt even steeper once you were on it. The power walking had begun and I could just about make out Chris Roberts (in his brand new black and yellow Knavesmire vest glistening out of the mist – bit of marketing here!) followed by Neil Stabbs.

It was one of those climbs where thoughts, such as escalator / ski lift / Apollo 13 / anything which transports you upwards, start running through your head and you daren’t look up because it is only gets ever steeper.

The precipitous ascent ended but there wasn’t too much respite as the climb continued up to the summit at 600m. I saw Barry Atkinson at this point on his tip toes, like a gazelle, easing his way to the top and Neil and Simon Collins had already started to make their moves on the field.

Then there was some undulating parts to the course and then a grassy, fast descent which got the adrenaline levels rising. After hitting checkpoint 3 with some other runners we carried on descending but we didn’t quite reach checkpoint 4 which I thought was quite odd. I started to think to myself that we had gone off course. I turned around and there was Giles Hawking striding confidently and assuring me that we were heading in the right direction. Giles gave me some hope and I followed him for a bit across this featureless terrain but I was still hesitant and uncertain – I decided to stop and so did a few others. Compass and soggy map in hand, we recalculated where we were and started heading tentatively in the opposite direction.

After a while, through the mist someone pointed out a checkpoint and there was a sense of relief as we ran quickly towards it. I was so pleased at this point that I didn’t really take in what the volunteer said to me in her strong Cumbrian accent, ‘Sorry to disappoint you 151, you have already visited this checkpoint’. We had literally been running round in circles for the last half an hour. It was only later on that I would find out that Giles was doing exactly the same.

Back on track now, it was relief to get to checkpoint 4 and head down to the bottom of the valley for the final big climb back up Black combe. I really enjoyed this climb chatting away to a guy from Lancaster with him giving me tips on where to go next for the final big descent, which I was listening to more carefully than I have ever listened before!

You could hear the encouraging sound of a bell in the distance, which I could only presume was Checkpoint 5 and the very end of the final big hill. We arrived and with the guy from Lancaster’s advice in my head I dashed across the moorland on to the final rocky path.

As you hit the rocky path which twists downwards towards the finish, the ghostly Black combe mist started to disappear and you could make out the two marquees at the very bottom. For the first time in about two hours; it was wonderful to actually see something more than mist, grass, rock and runners.

Apparently people were popping up from all angles at the end of the race – from the fell; from the fields, from the road; the fog was the real winner causing confusion amongst the ranks of fell runners.

Once I had crossed the finish line, I trudged back over the muddy farmer’s field, the stream, to the two marquees and I heard Neil shouting over to me ‘Get lost by any chance Tom?’

I smiled and went over to get a pie and have a chat.

So while Giles and I were making the most of our day out on the fells, there was some excellent performances going on from the rest of the Knavesmire contingent:

  • Harry Holmes sped across the fells finishing in 39th place (1:19:44), followed by Chris Roberts in 61st place (1:22:23)
  • Anwen also flew round the course as if the hills didn’t exist coming in overall 8th lady (1:32:39) and basically running the same time as Chris / Harry for the final descent
  • Neil Stabbs looking really quick on the fells came in 139th (1:30:43)
  • Barry Atkinson fell over at least twenty one times on the final descent, lost his dibber but still managed an absolutely cracking race
  • Simon Collins, although not really been training recently, had a good run, completing the Knavesmire team (1:38:19)
  • Mark Dye and Mandy Clarke also ran really well coming in 330th (1:52:00) and 373rd (1:57:58)
  • Giles Hawking and Tom Ratcliffe came in 428th & 440th respectively
  • Final mentions to Nick Zissler and Katie Smith (who train with us) and had really good races and Anwen’s boyfriend who came second

Overall another top, tough day out on the fells.


– Leeds and Liverpool Canal Canter Marathon.

On Saturday 12th Dave Bygrave and Nev Callow ran the the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Canter marathon, organised by the ironically named ‘Its Grim Up North Running’. Ironic because Saturday was fantastic running weather and the route was beautiful and virtually flat. There were three events (10k, Half and Full Marathons) being run on each of Saturday and Sunday. We had opted for the Saturday full marathon as a steady long training run for our March marathons – London (Nev) and Shakespeare (Dave). Some hardy runners do both the Saturday and Sunday marathons.

The events stayed on the canal towpath the whole way. The marathon route went 10 miles North West from Kirkstall, turning at Saltaire (a World Heritage Site) then back the same way and straight through the start finish area to do another 3 miles towards Leeds City Centre and back again to finish.

It was a well organised event with water/feed stations every three miles. There were drinks and a big pile of cakes at the finish, plus a medal and a goodie bag containing a buff, a can of beer and a Mars bar. And with only 39 marathon entries, you were guaranteed a top 39 finish – can’t be bad!

-Retford Half Marathon .

retfordSarah Attwood was third Lady at this  Half Marathon with a time of 1;27:45.
Also running down in Nottinghamshire was Stef Durkin with a time 0f 1:38:06.

-Bradford 10 K

Ewan Cochrane 39:19
Robert Ward 40:12
Vivianne Fraser 49:50.

-York Parkrun.

25 members of YKH took part.

Parkrun PB’s for ;

Kate Osborn 21:24
Anna Marshall 22:20
Alan Priestman 26:36

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