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My First Fell Race

By Ken Swarbrick


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Well after criss-crossing the M65 several times and then travelling to the back end of nowhere (thank you Louise for the lift) we arrived at the The Royal Arms in Tockholes.

Lots of trim, athletic looking people jogging up and down the road to warm up which already had me questioning what I was doing there and realising the umpteen kilos of kit I was carrying was way more than anyone else.

Pinned my pre-used, slightly crumpled number to my top and we were ready to go.

Nice bit of banter at the start line chatting with people with tiny lightweight headtorches, while I had something similar size, weight and brightness to Blackburn Rovers floodlights strapped to my head. If I wasn't going to light up the course with my running ability then I was going to do it with my light and make a mockery of it being called the Dark'un.

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Knackered, dishevelled and about ready to cry I finally arrive at the top to be told it is now flat and downhill. Yay!!! He did omit the little bit about the extremely boggy stretch of ground as I sank into ground up to my knees. Just praying my trainers would still be attached to my foot as I pulled myself out I remember someone telling me "when it is boggy like that don't try to avoid it, just keep your legs moving as quickly as you can". Lots of squelching as I tried to run, but it seemed strangely effective, as I could hear Angela's Scottish accent a short way behind me clearly enjoying the boggy conditions too.

So glad I had that spotlight strapped to my head illuminating several miles in front of me, made it a lot easier to navigate to each iron spike with reflective tape at the top marking the way. Finally out of the bog I get to enjoy a nice bit of stone path with a tailwind, although the bog had really taken it out of my legs, only to be told I now need to run into the gale force winds and slightly up hill. This is when I really questioned my sanity but I could see on my watch only 3k-ish to go.

Along the track I could see two near identical structures silouetted. "What are they.. barn with conveyor belts?" the madness kicks in " Transformers?..". Finally close enough to realise that they are two excavator diggers. I did start wondering if I could hotwire them.. No, I have no idea how to hotwire a vehicle and I don't know how to drive a digger, but this had taken my mind off the pain and fatigue in my poor legs along that never-ending stretch.

I hit the final descent feeling like I've gone deaf from the rushing wind, finally something I can run on (if my legs weren't so tired), though that head wind even made the initial descent feel like hard work. A bit of careful footwork over the rocky bit that looked like an old river bed to see the glorious lights at the finish, and I could just make out Eve's voice in the background. Never been so happy to hear a familiar voice

So relieved to make it round in one piece. Can I call myself a fell runner? Probably not, but I'm having it anyway.

Back in the pub for chip butties and some of Ann's amazing shortbread.

Will I do it again... I have the list of Fell club champs in front of me and my Visa card. God help me.