Great Hameldon Fell Race (Peel Park, Accrington) – More miles and Mad Dog
Where to start…a lovely week of running and a decision needs to be made on which event to write about. London marathon (the double humped back camel v’s the lonesome testicle), CV parkrun with the lovely Ben Ashworth and all the VLM heroes or Great Hameldon fell race with Mad Dog Mark (More Miles) McCrea!
Well Great Hameldon wins! Having to make a tough decision over missing out on the Cake race, I had to find a fell race to have a crack at after a week of finishing VLM. A week off hard training and recovery with tired legs after running my second VLM and Mad Dog quietly (yes he was really quiet!) suggests that I do Great Hameldon fell race.
Well, having done it before and knowing how well the course is marked and marshalled I definitely wanted to have another go at this 3 up 3 down toughie. Weather predictions looked awful the day before and boy, travelling along the M65 with the car blowing side to side I knew this race was going to hurt!
We arrived in good time to register and the usual local vests were milling around from Clayton, Barlick and Trawden. For once the mighty Red Rose didn’t have a male or female team representing. What?
Anyway, onto business and time to get ready to race. Full kit (although we were wearing most of it!) and Mad Dog went very quiet… Looking down at the ground like a confused teenager who’s just been caught doing something they shouldn’t 🙂 nothing said for a few minutes and yes, I was starting to worry! It turns out Mad Dog has left his fell shoes on his dashboard back at the Poachers! Whoops! What now? Try to scab a pair from someone in the pub, yes, good idea! Off we go to lots of muttering and swearing under the breath and low and behold, in disgusting wind and rain, there’s the ‘More Miles’ kit stall! Hurray! Mad Dog gets to race 🙂 £25 lighter (the most expensive fell race ever!) and we’re ready to go!
Starting off in the playing fields, the small field paced off really fast. My marathon legs were already objecting to this work and with only 300 metres into the climb out of the fields they wanted to stop. This race was going to be a real test! 3 miles of climbing to the half way point and thinking back to my last race here in 2014 I began to look forward to the trig and a nice 3 miles back home. The trig was just about visible, the clagg was coming down and the bogs very draining on tired legs. The course felt so much more challenging in the wind and rain. The descent started well with a Clayton runner being overtaken and another in front in my sights. I’m not the fastest on the fells and especially today, but looking at times a PB was definitely on the cards if I could keep my feet stable and knees strong going down. I hit the cross over point of the main loop and with two miles left a push now would get me back quicker than my last race on this fell. A marshal encouraged me to step it up as my Clayton buddy was making ground and probably didn’t like being chicked! I had already spotted a few others behind him, so no time to be flaky now. I had forgotten how tough the second last descent was, you literally have to go down sideways on your feet and look for ledges to place your shoes on. Really really testing and a relief to get down without rolling! Making it to the style and looking for the gravel path I remembered that I had seen some nanny goats last time I raced there, obviously way more sensible, they were nowhere to be seen this time. The Garmin was ticking, no time to wander in my thoughts, a mile and a half left to go and the marshal waiting, again, let me know my Clayton buddy was on his way.
The last twist into the underpass and a little climb up to the last mile. The legs are totally gone at this stage and with another Clayton runner in front of me I started to pick up pace a little although my breathing was horrendous. So much wind with sharp gusts and you just can’t seem to get it settled. Now was the time to make my Clayton buddy work, he turned his head on the little forest stretch to look back up the slope, he’d spotted me and took off! Game on, with less than 5 minutes to go to crack a PB, faith in my shoes became a priority. So much mud, thick and sticky clay type mud with tree roots hidden. Very very tricky work and my Clayton companion was struggling it seemed. He slowed right down and with 20 metres between us we hit the tarmac final section before getting back into the playing fields. He absolutely nailed it and flew downhill, my legs just wouldn’t turn over enough to catch up with him, but, I knew the sting in the tail was around the corner…how much if anything was left in the tank?
Onto the playing fields, sodden wet long grass, and one last final climb just to stick in it and turn it round. That really really hurt and with 200m metres to go my Clayton compadre maintained his lead. I headed into the finish with a nice shiny new PB of 1m 34 seconds. Not a bad days work considering… Mark ‘More Miles’ Mad Dog McCrea did a fab debut time of 51.44 and although he missed his Mud Claws, I don’t think he’ll forget his shoes in a hurray again!
All in all, not a bad day out of the office. A lovely little fell race, a shiny new PB and the Red Rose Captains on the tour de accrington (that’s the far east don’t you know!)
Keep on running,