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Three Towers Ultra 2019

The Race

This was the penultimate Runfurther race for 2019, and was a hard 43 miles round the Lancashire moors.  65 started the race, 52 finished officially, with 2 more missing a CP on the way.  Ken Sutor finished first on 7:27:00, Dave Beales was second in 7:33:39, and David Chetta third in 7:47:09.  First woman home was Fiona Lynch in 9:03:52, 8th place overall and a great run.  Karen Nash was second woman, 4 minutes behind Fiona, and third was Sarah Hobson in 10:19:00.  As usual Karen has written up her run, and you can find it on her blog, or lower down on this post.  No Nick Ham, so there won’t be any photos from him this time: the photos here are Karen’s.  The full results don’t seem to be up yet, but when they are you should find them here.

Karen Nash (left) & Fiona Lynch

Runfurther results

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  There’s till quite a lot to be decided at the final race of the year, the Round Rotherham 50 on Saturday (12 October).  We’ve got a good idea of who’s running at Rotherham, as the entry list is online (Sientries), and online entries have now closed.  However, just because someone’s entered doesn’t mean they’ll turn up.  And just because someone turns up, doesn’t mean they’ll run as well or poorly as anyone expects.  And just to add to that, it looks like there’ll be entries on the day anyway.  Here’s how things stand:

The men

First man this year is Rory Harris.  He’s already got 3987 points, and nobody else can catch him.  Second and third places are going to be between David Chetta, Kevin Hoult and Ken Sutor.  Kevin and Ken both have form at Rotherham, and both have entered.  As yet, David hasn’t entered the race.  If the three of them were to win at Rotherham in a dead heat, Ken would be second in the Runfurther champs, and Kevin third.  David wouldn’t have to be far in front of Kevin to overtake him though.  They’d both have to finish well in front of Ken to beat him to second place.

The MV50 title is probably going to be Martin Terry’s again this year, by the look of things.  Kevin Smith could catch him theoretically, but he’d have to run an unlikely time at Rotherham to do it.  Ed Gamble could catch Martin with a good run at Rotherham, but he hasn’t entered as yet.  Martin has, and Ed would have to finish well in front of him to take the title.  Assuming Ed doesn’t run, Kevin Smith will probably be second, and Steven Jones third.  Colin Williams could beat them, but he’d have to run well at Rotherham, and he hasn’t entered.

Alwyn Nixon will be the MV60 winner.  He can be caught in theory by Ken Wyles winning the race at Rotherham, but I’m sure Ken would be the first to agree that’s not very likely to happen!  And anyway, Ken’s not entered the race.  Stephen Hall has entered though, but he can’t catch Alwyn.

Bob Nash is currently the leading MV70, with Dick Scroop not far behind him.  Both have run three counters, and need to finish at Rotherham to make it four.  So far Dick has entered but Bob hasn’t.

The women

There are currently three contenders for the overall women’s title.  Sabrina Verjee has 3948 points, Hayley Evans has 3857 points, and Karen Nash has 3778 points.  Nobody else can catch them, but it’s anyone’s guess what order they’re going to finish in after Rotherham: it’s a bit complicated.  Even though Sabrina can’t gain any more points whatever she does, she can do a lot to determine the finishing order.  Hayley can’t catch her, and anyway she’s not entered Rotherham as yet.  Karen can still win the Runfurther title though, if she is first woman at Rotherham or if she is close to the first woman.  Karen has to score 955 points at Rotherham to draw level with Sabrina.  Sabrina and Karen have both entered the race.  Sabrina is a faster runner than Karen, but Karen knows the route, and has been first woman in two of the past three years.  I don’t think Sabrina has run the race before, and she’s more used to navigating the hills than around town.  If Karen runs at the same speed she ran last year (when she was first woman), Sabrina could only take the title by finishing 24 minutes or more ahead of Karen (unless another woman does, which is probably less likely).  And if she has a big enough margin over Karen, she could even push Karen down into third place, even if Hayley doesn’t run.  So is all that clear to everyone?  Didn’t think so, but it’s the best I can do.

The women’s vets winners are thankfully pretty clear.  Karen is first MV50 as usual.  Sarah Smith would also have four counters should she finish at Rotherham, but she hasn’t entered as yet.  Janet Hill is once again first FV60.

The teams

Four teams are still in contention for the team championship.  Astley & Tyldesley RR lead currently with 7861 points, but none of their runners have entered at Rotherham.  Valley Striders are second with 7421 points, and again none of their runners have entered the last race.  Third are Team Krypton with 7331 points, and Karen Nash and Nick Ham have both entered the race.  If Nick finishes the race, then Team Krypton will probably overtake Valley Striders.  They could even overtake Astley & Tyldesley, particularly if Karen also finishes first woman, or close to first woman.  Mercia could finish first too, in theory, but in practice the best they can hope for is second, which they could possibly manage if Dick Scroop runs his socks off at Rotherham and Nick Ham doesn’t finish.

By the way, please take all the above predictions with a pinch of salt in case I’ve calculated something incorrectly.

The AGM and presentations for 2019

…not much to say here, but as soon as the arrangements are finalised and Karen’s let’s me know what they are, then I’ll be posting them to the website!

Karen’s race report

3 Towers Ultra

Should be easy- local to home, mostly over moors I know, only 44 miles….. Ha Ha. Despite it being local we drove across in the van on Friday evening so that we could sort out flags and banners etc. Just as well because there were not many places to hang things.

I might know most of the area but not the myriad of rarely used paths that some of this route followed. Fortunately I had done a Howler recee for the second half and checked out some of the rest on my own. Yes, only 44 miles but that means some fast running and my body has become rather accustomed to stomping up very big hills or rock climbing. It was going to be tough.
Luckily some things did go my way. The weather forecast that had been pretty dire earlier in the week changed and in the end it was dry until early evening when most of us had finished. It was very wet and boggy underfoot but what’s new on the South Pennine moors and soft ground helps my foot too. I was hoping I would have the company of some guides over the first few miles and this worked out too; well mostly.

Start line

We stumbled along over tussocks and ditches in the dark for about 30 minutes until sunrise but there was a line of local runners to follow. I picked the wrong runners to follow and did a quick visit to Darwen cemetery but we didn’t lose much time there.

Not from today- I had no camera and the sky was not that blue

Once up at the Tower (aka Lancashire’s rocket) I knew the way and could relax.

A nice run down to Slipper Lower, through the woods, across the road and up over Great Hill.

Great Hill

All familiar ground- and I have missed these moors after an absence of two months. There was still one short footpath after White Coppice that I had never been on before though.
I would have been happy on my own but had the intermittent company of several runners including Tim C who was recovering from an injury and taking it easy. Running off Great Hill and down to the cricket ground I spotted David and Laura from Sportsunday photos- I bet they were glad it wasn’t raining. Before long CP1 at Jepson gate appeared. Somehow I was first lady? The next section had some fiddly bits and I am still not sure the best way through the boggy areas and up to Sheephouse Lane. Familiar ground around Rivington  and Winter Hill was straight forward and then CP2.

Winter Hill in the distance- we went up there too

I stopped here to refill bottles and eat a bit but I knew I had not really been eating enough- I struggle as soon as the pace increases and never really fancy much anyway. I was on my own from here through to CP3 as faster men had slowly pulled ahead. It was now warm and I stopped again to refill a bottle and eat again. I was still first lady at CP3 which was puzzling as I was sure Fiona was ahead.
After commiserating with Dick who had pulled out with a serious shoe malfunction I set off for our third tower above Ramsbottom- Peel Tower.

Peel Tower- Howler recee run

I was starting to struggle now and knew I needed to run more but just couldn’t do it. I like these moorland tops but my legs were heavy. After the drop to CP4 I slowed even more and then there was another drop to Book 1- The Long Way Home (you have to return with a page Barkley style.

Recee so I knew where to find the book

As I turned to trudge back up hill a grinning Fiona came flying down. She looked so fresh and was obviously overjoyed to have caught me. She had lost at least 20 minutes getting lost somewhere between Darwen Tower and CP1. She seemed to bounce away along the path and I tried to tell my tired body that once it was contouring I could run too.

Dry paths on the recee

I estimated that he gap was only about 4 minutes as I spotted her ahead and timed myself to that point. Book 2 was down a slightly hidden and overgrown path. Fiona couldn’t find it. With only a slight error and one fence climb I led about 5 runners safely in. As we left the Haslingden area and turned for the final boggy moor Fiona upped the pace yet again. I tried to keep her in sight but lost her at the road crossing. I found the tiny overgrown path and stopped to pick a few raspberries- yes I know it was a race… and then knew it was only 10 minutes or so to the finish. I was going to be outside 9 hours and would not catch Fiona so the raspberries seemed a worth while treat.

No chance of me in shorts today

Stu from Howlers had set up a gazebo in the pub car park and Bob was there with the Runfurther boards and prizes. 9hrs 7 and about 3 minutes behind Fiona. It was good to stand there and cheer other runners in.

Today’s effort had hurt. After a cup of tea, soup and a rest I treated myself to a massage. A good day out for Runfurther runners with Ken taking first man, David having a good run plus Fiona first woman and then me.

Also thanks to the landlady for letting us ‘camp’ in the car park and put the flags where ever we liked. Also for the awesome double fried egg bap for breakfast. Nice little pub if you are in the area.