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Pennine 39 2018

It was another hot one!  A great little race, this one.  Last year’s Runfurther champions, Ken Sutor and Karen Nash, were first man and first woman to finish, doing their prospects of another championship this year no harm at all.  Ken’s time was 5:23:44, with Rory Harris 5 minutes behind him in 5:28:41.  I suspect that may have been a ding-dong battle all the way.  Philip Withnall was 3rd, over an hour later in 6:37:01.  Karen finished 6th overall in 7:06:34, with Nicola Richards 8th (2nd woman) in 7:17:08, and Carol Morgan 13th (3rd woman) in 7:34:24.  I’ve no idea whether the race results are up online anywhere, so here they are in full:

Time Family Name First Name Gender
05:23:44 Sutor Ken Male
05:28:41 Harris Rory Male
06:37:01 Withnall Philip Male
06:50:25 Terry Martin Male
07:00:47 Leeman C Male
07:06:34 Nash Karen Female
07:08:28 Stark Colin Male
07:17:08 Richards Nicola Female
07:18:41 Harrison David Male
07:24:15 Gee Darren Male
07:31:06 Oswald David Male
07:31:13 Humphries Phil Male
07:34:24 Morgan Carol Female
07:37:08 Thompson Honor Female
07:39:10 Wright Jonothan Male
07:47:33 Chisholm Cass Female
08:07:16 Osbaldestin Geoff Male
08:25:21 Allan Stuart Male
08:34:22 Stamford Lucy Female
08:37:43 Ward Steve Male
08:48:12 Scott Katie Female
08:48:17 Love Ally Female
08:48:22 De Grandis Carmine Male
08:48:24 Clayton Barbara Female
08:48:35 Jones Steven Male
08:49:52 Dale Jay Male
08:51:10 Ham Nick Male
08:51:56 Sumner Andrew Male
08:52:05 Hawthorn Marcus Male
09:16:08 Heathcock Kate Female
09:16:30 Barrett Jo Female
09:16:44 Humphris Claire Female
09:35:32 Elsender Neil Male
09:59:03 Ansell Graham Male
10:05:49 Cottam Michael Male
10:05:50 Jackson Alan Male
10:12:46 Hill Janet Female
10:49:21 Scroop Richard Male
10:49:35 Nash Robert Male
11:03:37 Brockington Tim Male
11:35:01 Blamires M Male
11:48:40 Davidson Mick Male
12:02:00 Wright Lisa Female
12:02:16 Cooley Ben Male
12:03:24 Rogers Katherine Female

Nick Ham’s photos are all up on his Flickr site.  I’ve borrowed a few to decorate this post – thanks Nick!

Karen’s now got maximum points from 3 races this year, and the only person that has a realistic chance of catching her is Carol Morgan.  Carol would have to be first woman home, or very close to it, in at least two of the remaining races though.  Ken is also well-placed for another win this year.  He needs a good result at either the Hardmoors 60 or Round Rotherham, but I’d expect him to manage that OK.  Rory Harris could catch him, but would need a couple of wins, or close to wins, to do it.

Here’s Karen’s race report, copied from her blog (click on the title to go to the rest of her blog):

Nav4 Pennine 39

I woke on Saturday at about 6am and my body was already saying ‘No, this is too much, can’t we just walk a bit, lie in the sun, drink beer and watch the football.’ You’d think by now the heat would feel normal but I think it has steadily drained me. The NT was warm, Scotland was warm after Rum, The LAMM was very warm, SW100 was hot and last weekends SLMM was very hot. I raced hard on the Klets clocking up about 34km and 2400m of climb on day 1 and about 28km 1950m on day 2. I was shattered when I reached mid camp and needed a rest before I could contemplate putting up my tent. At the finish on day 2 I was totally wasted. It took several days to recover, rehydrate and to even contemplate sitting in the garden in the sun. But, I loved all these events and activities and having a ball with some great wins too.
I ignored my body and felt a bit better after breakfast but even sitting on the coach to Bowlees I was sure I would struggle today. The suspension bridge was closed so we had a leisurely walk down stream to the next bridge and then back up the other bank. All very calm and civilised although it didn’t help Rory and Ken who were hoping to race hard and get back to watch the England match. I knew I had no hope of that so I opted to wear my England shirt and give my support that way. The start was typical no fuss Joe ‘Any questions? OK off you go then.’ The first CP was only 7 or so miles in and it was mostly flat so that means running! Long ultras mean this is not my forte but I tried hard to just go at a decent steady pace.

The front men were soon out of sight but I could see others spread out up ahead.

Nicola was very close on my heels but at this stage I just did my own thing. In any case I thought the threat would come from Carole or maybe Cass. Cauldron Snout was in full flow- apparently there is no pipe to send water supplies down the valley, they just let it flow. I quickly topped up my water and set off for High Cup Nick. After a few km on the stone track it was a joy to drop off left onto grassy paths and down to the river. After the bridge more grassy paths led to one of the best views in northern England and to reach it from the east is wonderful. There was no time for photos today though as we began our descent to Dufton.

Down and down and down some more so that you arrive at the village road with quads screaming. I grabbed cheese, tomatoes, melon and filled up my water yet again. It was roasting now and I was hoping that Mountain Fuel would have enough electrolytes to do the trick. Just as I left the CP Nicola arrived. Oh heck, the race is still on. What goes down must go back up again so the next section was up, up, up. On the walled lane I could see Nicola not far behind but as we reached the open fell it was a little cooler and my power walk stomp seemed to be giving me a gap. John B was at the foot of Green Fell taking photos and joked that today few people were running even when they saw the camera.

I was scoping out where the next water would be to dip my buff, cool my head and collect more drinking water.

The pull up onto Knock seemed endless and it took a few hundred metres to recover enough to run. There was more flagstone path than I remembered and I was soon at the road snaking onto the aerials etc on Great Dunn fell. I had a gel and felt  it kick in. This fuelled me over Little Dunn and onto Cross Fell. I dropped the three guys behind me and caught the two in front. The ground was dry and my trod to the main path worked well. Jim and the water pipe at Greg’s Hut were a very welcome sight. The water might not have been 100% pure but really we had no choice.

A runner who I had been close to since the start set off with me on the gnarly rollercoaster track. He was determined and it really pushed me to keep running. He got away just before the descent into Garrigill but we were together again at the CP at the far end of the village. Ros and Neil had the radio on and were able to report England were 1-0 up! As I sat chewing a slice of melon they scored again. My garmin suggested 4.5 miles to run but the finger post said 3.5. No time to sit and wonder Nicola would be chasing me down. I like the last section along the river back to Alston. There was some shade and lots of grassy paths and even a mini bog (yep, i found it).  I couldn’t really believe that I had kept my lead and managed to run so well today. At one stile I got cramp and ended up in an undignified heap on the floor but I knew the end was close. Along the final wooded path, spot the Runfurther flags, up the steps and breathe!

7 hrs 06 so 22 minutes faster than last year. I was more than happy with that. Ken and Rory both finished in under 5hrs 30. It took several pints of water before I could move and eat Joe’s famous soup. A shower and more soup had me back on track.  It is beautifully relaxed and sociable in the YHA.

We sat munching, drinking, chatting and cheering in the next runners. Some then left to make their way home but a number of us stayed for a meal and drinks. Great to see so many friends- Stuart who I have not seen for ages, Cass and Nicola who I met briefly as they finished the Lakes Traverse in Shap and loads of Runfurther members.

So pleased also to see Nick recovered and able to risk driving and running. He will have taken loads of superb photos as usual.
For me next is a rest. No races planned until the GRP towards the end of August.

Pennine 39 2017 – updated 12 July

The Race

Read Chris Davies’s race report below for a good feel for what this race was about.  This is a low-key event for connoisseurs, with 39 finishers this year.  First in to Alston was new member Rory Harris in 6:06, second was David Chetta in 6:12, and 3rd was Chris Davies in 6:18 – Chris was first MV40, first MV50 and first MV60!  All three are Runfurther members, as were half the runners in the race.  First woman was Karen Nash once again, 9th overall in 7:28.  2nd woman was Kasia Osipowicz 7 minutes behind Karen, with Catherine Farrow 3rd in 7:54. Nick Ham’s photos are here.

Full race results:

Rory Harris 6:06 M
David Chetta 6:12 M
Chris Davies 6:18 MV60
Mick McKenna 6:22 MV60
Peter Agnew 6:45 MV50
Steve Rivers 7:18 MV40
Richard Wells 7:24 MV40
Jonothan Wright 7:24 MV40
Karen Nash 7:28 FV50
Kasia Osipowicz 7:35 F
Oliver Hazel 7:50 M
Catherine Farrow 7:54 FV40
Geoff Osbaldestin 7:54 MV40
Kevin Smith 7:56 MV50
Louise Staples 7:56 FV40
Ian Heywood 8:07 MV50
Peter Foulds 8:10 M
Robert Gittins 8:16 MV50
Nick Ham 8:18 MV50
Lucy Colquhoun 8:27  F
Rob Kelman 8:50 MV40
Andy Skelhorn 8:50 MV50
Paul Feasey 8:54 MV50
Charlotte Smith 9:01 FV40
Barbara Clayton 9:09 FV40
Mark Clayton 9:09 MV40
Ian France 9:12 MV50
Stuart Clarkson 9:24 MV40
Michael Cottam 9:28 MV50
Richard Townsend 9:48 MV50
Alan Dick 9:53 MV50
Carmen Elphick 9:54 FV40
Tim Jackson 9:56 MV50
Simon Caldwell 10:04 V40
Caroline Cable 10:29 FV50
Richard Fish 10:29 MV40
Robert Nash 10:29 MV70
Katherine Rogers 10:52 FV40
Peter Sowerby 10:52 MV50

Chris Davies’s Race Report

All photos by Karen Nash except for the one of Karen, which is Joe Faulkner’s.

Nav4 Pennine 39
If you’ve never seen it before it must be quite something to approach High Cup Nick from the east.  Running the Pennine 39 you would have had the chance to appreciate the beauty of Upper Teesdale for a couple of hours, and perhaps you might have been wondering why there was a big space ahead where there used to be hills, and then suddenly that amazing U-shaped valley with its frame of rocky edges would have dropped away in front of you, opening up a huge view to leave you looking down and across the Eden plain to the Lake District mountains in the distance.   Only a minute or two to glance at it sideways though, then you’re making your way around the northern edge to find the path down to Dufton.

photo1

Pennine 39?  It’s certainly an accurate description of the number of runners taking part, with 14 Runfurther competitors amongst them, although in terms of mileage some would say that Pennine 36.5 would be closer to the truth.  But in bright weather and temperatures that were for the most part warm but not oppressively so, aided by a bit of breeze that cooled nicely, it was a lovely day for a run in spectacular scenery (it might be closer to P40 next year- Joe has ideas).

photo2
And what a very relaxed race.  The coach picked up the competitors at 8.15am and ferried us south to the start, giving a fine taste of the views for the day ahead.

photo3

An hour and a bit later, after crossing the Low Force footbridge over the Tees one person at a time, we were off – perhaps too fast for the organiser at the first checkpoint who missed the first half dozen runners before setting up shop.

photo4

Mind you, it was best still be fresh when you reached the second checkpoint at Dufton because most of the 5,240 feet of climbing lay ahead, with maybe two or three hours of relatively gentle ascent to follow before reaching the highest point on the Pennine Way at Cross Fell (2,930’).
photo5
Summiting that should have meant the worst was over, but I suspect that some tired runners turning corners on the stony track that followed, each time seeing it stretch out interminably into the distance, may have started to wonder whether they had been singled out for special punishment.
Others may have found the final three miles surprisingly hard.  The riverside footpath from the village of Garrigill to Alston is often beautiful, and frequently shaded by trees, but the frequency of the stiles is hard upon cramping legs and makes it difficult to establish a rhythm.
photo6
But soon enough the Runfurther flags will have come into view, with drinks and soup at the Alston youth hostel immediately available, and a good meal and evening to follow for all who stayed the night.
As for the race, Rory Harris kept David Chetta company from High Cup Nick before pushing ahead five miles from the finish to open a gap of six minutes and win in 6 hours 6 minutes.  For a while these ‘youngsters’ had to keep a wary eye on Chris Davies and Mick McKenna, two vet60 ‘oldsters’ chasing them, but they never faced real challenge.  Chris finished in 6-18 with Mick four minutes behind, and vet50 Peter Agnew, who led until going wrong at the missing first checkpoint, clambering up the youth hostel steps in 6-45. (awesome run from Chris)
There are navigation errors in fell races, and then there are navigation errors.  Lucy Colquhoun had moved into fourth place by the top of Cross Fell but mistook the path down and ended up in Kirkland.  Retracing her steps cost her a whole two hours on what surely would otherwise have been a fine time. That left Kasia Osipowicz and a bruised and battered Karen Nash (having fallen on rocks) battling it out for the women’s top place, with Karen finally taking the lead at the 30 miles mark to finish seven minutes ahead in 7-28.
photo7
Nick Ham finished happy with a PB in 8-18, and he and vet70 Bob Nash (10-29) are still in the race to complete the Runfurther grand slam.
photo8
Chris Davies

Runfurther Standings

Karen’s now got maximum points in 3 races, & I’d expect her to improve her points score still further in one of the two remaining Short races – nobody’s going to catch her now.  I’m expecting Debbie Cooper to finish as 2nd woman, but she has to finish at Jedburgh to do that, so we won’t be sure until the end of October.  Charlotte Smith has already got 4 counters, and may well end up 3rd, but she can be caught.

The men’s side is a lot less clear.  Kevin Hoult looks most likely to win, but there are plenty of contenders for 2nd place, and I’m not going to try to guess.  Chris Davies will be first MV60 again – he’s got a good chance of first MV50 as well, as it;s looking pretty close between him and Martin Terry this year.

As for the teams, it’s always hard to call this early in the calendar.  My money’s on Calder Valley pipping Mercia this year though.  Next race is the Long Tour of Bradwell on 12 August – a great race!

Pennine 39 2016

Race Summary

This turned out to be a brilliant event – many thanks to Joe and the rest of the NAV4 team for putting it on.  We had good weather, ideal conditions underfoot, and Alston Youth Hostel made a great base.  Numbers were limited, but we’d expect quite a few more runners to take part next year.  Highlights were High Force waterfall on the Tees, Cauldron Snout waterfall higher up the river, the amazing view from High Cup Nick, and the relief on reaching the top of Cross Fell, the highest mountain in the Pennine Chain.

Andy Davies (Mercia FR) set the pace the whole way, finishing in 5:54.  Neil Ford (Vegan Runners) was 2nd in 6:31, and Chris Davies (Saddleworth Runners) was 3rd and first MV60 in 6:46.  Karen Nash was 6th and first woman in 7:04, just in front of Andrea Priestley, who went astray through the last few fields.  Karen’s stomach problems just beat Andrea’s cramp in that battle!  3rd woman was Louise Burt (Fife AC) in 7:32.  The first 3 women were all FV50s!  There were 46 finishers.

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Wynch Bridge, River Tees

Full race results

1 Andy Davies 5:54
2 Neil Ford 6.31
3 Chris Davies 6:46
4 Tom Hepburn 6:46
5 Stephen Edwards 6:46
6 Karen Nash 7:04
7 Andrea Priestley 7:08
8 Scott Morley 7:15
9 Michael Sellors 7:25
10 Glen Davies 7:27
11 Ian Williams 7.28
12 Ross Gilmour 7:31
13 Bradley Gurney 7:31
14 Louise Burt 7:32
15 Andy Robinson 7:39
16 Richard Kent 8.14
17 Michelle Brooks 8.15
18 Mick Dobson 8.15
19 Michael McKenna 8.16
20 Sandy Mackenzie 8.18
21 Noel Hogan 8.18
22 Hailey Fletcher 8.19
23 Eddie Fletcher 8.19
24 Mick Cottam 8.21
25 Mark Roderick 8.25
26 Stuart Hurst 8.26
27 Michelle Creed 8.26
28 Alison Brind 8.26
29 Nigel Ainsworth-Barnes 8.27
30 Robert Hartley 8.29
31 Colm O’Cofaigh 8.42
32 Clare Holdcroft 8.47
33 Ros Blackmore 8.49
34 Neil Bowmer 8.49
35 Jenni Cox 8.53
36 Nick Ham 8.54
37 Geoff Pettengell 8.55
38 Andrew Harrison 9.54
39 John Dawson 9.56
40 Alison Cutts 9.56
41 Robert Nash 9.56
42 Andy Johnson 9.56
43 Wesley Evans 9.56
44 Dick Scroop 9.57
45 Gareth Wallis 10.02
46 Tim Welch 10.31

Runfurther standings

Andy Davies is currently first man, and looking a strong contender for this year’s overall winner.  Similarly, Karen Nash is looking very strong in the women’s contest.  Chris Davies is once again looking unbeatable in the MV60 class, and may still be in with a chance of first MV50, but that depends on whether any of the faster MV50 runners end up with four counting races.  Dick Scroop, Nick Ham and I  are the only runners to have run all 6 races so far, and Dick and I still hope to complete all 12 races.  Mercia Fell Runners are starting to look unbeatable in the team competition – they could even take the top two places the way they are going.  The updated Runfurther leaderboard is here.

High Cup

High Cup

Photos and race reports

Karen Nash has written her blog up, and you can find that here.  Hailey Fletcher’s blog is here.  Nick Ham took photos, including the ones on this page, and you can find the rest here.  There are a few more photos on the NAV4 Facebook page here.  Robert Campbell (TeamFans.com) was taking photos, and they’re for sale on the Racing Snakes website here.  20% of the sales of Robert’s photos are donated to the Mountain Rescue Association, and he’s also kindly let us use some of his photos to accompany an article on the race that we’re preparing for the next issue of The Fellrunner.  Jim Imber was also taking photos and they’re for sale on the Racing Snakes website here.  I’ve written up my race, and you can find that below.

The finish at Alston

The finish at Alston

Andy’s race report

The day started well, with a leisurely breakfast at Alston Youth Hostel, hosted by race organiser Joe Faulkner.  I stuck to toast and tea, but there were porridge, boiled eggs, freshly brewed coffee available.  It felt more like being in a well-run B&B than a normal pre-race registration venue.  By 8am we’d all wandered down the lane and onto the coach to take us south to Teesdale.  The race start was by Bowlees visitor centre near Low Force waterfall, and we milled around there for a while, queuing for the toilets and sniffing out the weather.  It appeared to be pretty much ideal conditions, seeming almost to good to be true.  Cool but not cold, no wind to speak of, no sign of rain to come.  Like a few others I made a last minute decision to set off in just t-shirt and shorts, and it turned out to be the right option, feeling good all day.  We all posed for a few photos at the start, and then at 9 we were off across the first field and down to cross the Tees.

The scenery on this race is second to none, and it was great right from the start.  The bridge over the river was a narrow suspension bridge, making running across a tricky business as it wobbled all the way.  Then we turned felt and followed the river upstream, through flower-filled meadows, past Low Force and the spectacular High Force, which had been the scene of a drowning accident only a few days before.  Curlews and oystercatchers were calling along the valley.  And I was running too fast.  A handful of faster runners started to go off into the distance, but I tried my best to keep Karen Nash, Chris Davies and then Glen Davies in sight.  I shouldn’t have done that.  Eventually they all got away from me, and I was taking too much out of my legs.  The climb up the valley was very gradual, but was still uphill most of the first half of the race.  Up the Tees, then a brief diversion along Langdon Beck to the next bridge, then back to the Tees and up the wide valley.  For the first few miles it was very easy on the feet, on grass and easy tracks, but then the ground started to become rocky approaching Cauldron Snout, and I had to be a bit careful crossing the stones.  Round a bend and suddenly the Cauldron Snout gorge and waterfall appears on the right – you don’t see it until you’re there.  It’s a spectacular waterfall, and the route climbs up beside it, heading for the first checkpoint at the bridge above the waterfall, below Cow Green Dam.

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Cauldron Snout

A fast farm access track followed, to the remote Birkdale Farm, then a mile along a newly-surfaced gravel track was a bit less pleasant.  It was a relief to leave the track at a Pennine Way signpost and head down to Maize Beck and the footbridge on softer ground once more.  It was lovely running.  I kept on gradually up the wide valley bottom on a good path, until the lip of the pass was clear ahead.  I knew High Cup already, but it never fails to astonish, particularly when approaching from the east.  The top of the pass is between the wide gradual valley you’ve just run along, and a huge glacial u-shaped valley on the other side that drops precipitately away in front of you, with views way off into the distance.  The Pennine Way doesn’t drop down into High Cup, but instead skirts it to the north on a stony path that eventually turns away to join a track down into the pretty village of Dufton.  As I ran down I was thinking my legs were feeling the strain.  I was running down OK at reasonable speed, but I was only too aware of the big climb to come.

I had a good drink of water at the Dufton checkpoint.  I was nearly halfway, feeling OK, but not too confident that I could keep up much speed from here on.  Scott Morley (Lichfield RC) had passed me before High Cup, but he was still at the CP when I got there, and we left together to start the climb up to the mountain tops.  It starts easily enough, up a delightful overgrown lane to the ruins of Halsteads farm, then more steeply on moorland, then becoming steeper again, to the top of Knock Fell, at 800m.  Scott disappeared into the distance as I struggled my way up at a slow plod.  I greeted Stuart the marshal at the Knock Old Man cairn with relief, and tried to run the rest of the way to the summit cairn, but was reduced to a walk before I got there.

I revived a bit after this.  It’s an undulating route across the hilltops from here, mainly on good paths and easy ground, until the final climb up Cross Fell.  On the way I caught up with Scott again, and also Mike Sellors, both of whom had taken the wrong direction when leaving the Great Dun Fell road, thanks to a misleading signpost.  I was following photocopied pages from Wainwright’s guidebook, and my own memory, and managed to find the right route all day.  Still, Scott and Mike were still faster runners than me, and they pulled away on the final climb, never to be seen again.  I got to the top of Cross Fell, highest point of the Pennines, with great relief, tired legs and a pain in my stomach.  I struggled down the path to the Corpse Road, as every time I tried to run the pain got too great.  I wasn’t too worried though, as it had happened before and I didn’t expect the problem to last.  And in fact by the time I reached the Greg’s Hut checkpoint the stomach was OK.  Unfortunately the legs weren’t.

Greg's Hut bothy

Greg’s Hut bothy

The Corpse Road is a stony track, a difficult surface for tired legs.  You’d think, since you’ve just come off the highest mountain in the vicinity and you’re heading for the valley, that it would head downhill.  But no.  Instead it traversed the hillside for over 5 miles, with as much up as down.  By the time it turned downhill for Garrigill I was absolutely trashed.  A couple of other runners went past me – I was lucky it wasn’t more.  I’ve never been more relieved to reach tarmac.

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Garrigill Checkpoint

A quick drink of water at the CP and I was ready for the last four miles to Alston.  I knew it would be straightforward running but might need attention to the routefinding, and that turned out to be right, as a few runners did go wrong along here.  I trotted along as best I could, just hoping nobody else would come past me.  It’s another lovely stretch of running, along the South Tyne riverside path for a lot of the way, before leaving the river to cut a corner off, which is where it’s easy to go wrong.  My trusty Wainwright didn’t let me down though, and I found the right route back to the riverside path.  At last the flags we’d put up the night before appeared on the path ahead of me and I staggered up the Youth Hostel steps and into the finish.  15th out of 46 finishers in 7:39.  And I was only 3rd MV60!

It was a great race, and I’m hoping to be back next year to do it again.  I was too wiped out to do anything the next day, and I’m still tired now, six days later.  Well done everyone – it was a challenging route, even in good weather.  6 races down, 6 to go.  Bring on St Cuthbert’s Way!