Some years back we were driving home across Caton Fell when silhouetted against the setting sun we saw… the magic round about. “Did you see that? I’m not mad am I???” Down into the village we discovered it had been taken over by giant green men, knights and maidens and all sorts of other scarecrows. Since then we’ve gone to see the Scarecrow festival a couple of times and noticed marker flags across the fell. This year we were definitely going to go to the fair – the question was “was I hard enough for the fell race?”. Probably not but this is my year – I’ll give anything a go! Well not quite anything…
I convinced Em to have a go at the under 10s but that didn’t quite work out as what with millions of spectators milling about and marshals trying to direct 6 different race routes she started with the right crew and thinks she finished with the wrong set (results don’t make this any clearer!) and was very upset. Marshalling is important and we were intending to help at Amberswood but through poor planning (mine) we will be in Scotland instead.
Any road, when the potential winners had returned from their extended (psychological warfare?) warm up the race eventually headed off from the village hall straight up a 1 in 4 slope which eased off a bit after quarter of a mile or so to a mere 1 in 10 (by my estimation). Then we had a blessed traverse of a nice cow field with incumbents who shouted at us a bit. Then up a stretch of gravel / concrete track which wasn’t nice. Even less nice was when some of the juniors who’d started after us started whizzing by!
Across the road and onto the fell. Grass, reeds, sphagnum moss, peaty ponds with a lot of up and not much along. Walking was perpetrated but when I raised my eyes there were quite a few others doing the same. I whined to a passing gentleman “are we nearly there yet?”. He told me the next rise I would see the top which cheered me up no end – sadly he was being more encouraging than truthful. Eventually the top was in sight, and reached and then the downhill yee ha! Boggy grass is quite springy to run on but leg sappingly hard work so that even downhill was tough going.
After a mile or so we got onto sheep fields which were very welcome but the marker flags were a bit occasional. I went through one gate and baulked wondering which way to go till a kindly lady in an orange jersey, whom I’d passed not long before, directed me. By this time the only way I was going was down. If someone had put two or three steps in front of me I’d have collapsed.
Serious swoops down into gullies and across streams and another field which didn’t seem to have any marker flags… my friend heard rude words from the other side of the dyke and redirected me again. I said I’d follow her after that but she seemed concerned to help, told me the next bit of the route and I overtook her again (feeling rather bad about it but hey she might have been a vet 40 so some things have to be done), over a bridge and into the fair field… but no we are directed round here and there until at last, at last, we were there!
Sank down and gasped a bit and missed my helper whom I’d meant to thank. Thank you now Viki Hindle of Bentham Beagles! A couple of gallons of water then off to watch pipe bands, birds of prey, ice creams and proper fair stuff in unnatural bank holiday (whisper it) sunshine.
1:12:59 earned me 6th LV45 (only need to take 13 minutes off that for first vet 45 hah!) and 179th place out of 216 physically and mentally challenged persons. Would I do it again? Oh yes – if there had been an extended drought. If it had been raining for a few weeks before-hand? I recon I’d still be up there now chiding myself for laughing at the idea of bog snorkelling…