The Fellsman 2019 – updated 5 May

I cowered at home in Cheshire all day as the rain lashed sideways from dawn till dusk.  When I had to take the dog out for a walk it was horrible.  I spared the odd thought for the poor souls out trying to run the Fellsman, and wondered whether the race would happen at all.  I don’t know why I was worrying.  In Karen’s words: “Fellsman was great if a bit wet.”

Karen’s blog is up here, and I’ve copied her write-up below as well.  Nick was unwell and unable to attend, so there’ll be no photos from him this time.  Not many from Karen either as it was so wet she wasn’t going to risk her phone or camera.

The official results are now up on the Fellsman website, so I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard to use the official times.  As expected the only difference, as far as I can see, is that runners who had to wait to be grouped have gained a few Runfurther points.

Very fast times from Stuart Walker and Rory Harris there, both under 11 1/2 hours.  For me, the standout achievement was Sabrina Verjee’s time of 12:23, 7th overall.

Sabrina appears to be running away with the Runfurther title this year, with three race wins.  One more (a Short one) and she’ll have the maximum 4000 points and will be unbeatable.  Rory Harris has only dropped 13 points (beaten by Stuart Walker in the Fellsman), and also looks to be in such a strong position I’d be surprised if anyone can catch him now.  It’s unusual to be able to say that this early in the series.

Astley and Tyldesley Road Runners are way out in front in the team competition, but they can be caught.

Only three runners have run all four races so far, so they are the only ones who could complete a Grand Slam:  Simon Ford, Kevin Smith and Steven Jones: good luck to all three!

And if anyone knows Jackie Scarf, Jake Holmes or Andy Berry, please get them to join Runfurther: they’ve already got three counters each.

Karen’s race report

Race 4 in the Runfurther ultra series and the 57th running of the Fellsman. For me it would be my 7th time on the course. Pretty sure many of us will be asking at various points “Why have I signed up for this again?” and will then promptly forget the tough bits, decide we loved it and sign up again.
This years course was to be altered slightly as one landowner decided we must not cross even the southern boundary of Fleet Moss. It would involved several miles on tarmac, including a steep downhill, before the extra 300m+ climb back up to Middle Tongue CP. It can’t be helped but it was not going to be popular with many and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
Friday evening did not start well. After a morning of climbing we raced home for a quick shower, food and to grab our bags. The journey across was uneventful and the weather damp but not awful. Arriving before 4pm and with plenty of time to put up flags, banners etc before runners started to register Bob realised he had left vital clothing at home.

Thanks to all the Runfurther sponsors

I leapt out with all the Runfurther gear and he set off on the return drive home and back to Threshfield. At least it was a possible and not a totally insane drive. Once the flags were up I pottered about the very warm school drying out and helping to set up tables etc where I could. Nick sadly was having a worse evening. I didn’t know it then as Threshfield has no mobile phone signal but he was suffering vertigo attacks severe enough to force him back to home. A real shame as he had hoped to complete a Grand Slam this year.

By 8pm all my jobs were done, I had registered and been kit checked and a meal had been cooked and eaten. I returned to the hall to find friends and to encourage people to collect their spit prizes from Mountain Fuel, Ultimate Direction, Injinji and Tent Meals. I had taken extra mint cake for runners and also the teams in the sweep mini buses. Before 10pm we were in bed and thinking of those sleeping on the sports hall floor – not the best preparation for a race in my experience.

Ooo Spot Prizes

The forecast was not great but despite the fad of naming storms and hyping them up a bit we were not due relentless heavy rain, nor gales, nor bitter cold. I had already opted for tights as I can’t be bothered changing to longs at dusk grouping. I decided a heavy weight reliable waterproof was worth the extra 150g as I would likely have it on most of the time. I switched my shoes for some with just a little more grip but hoped some of the bogs would still be a bit drier than usual after weeks of little rain.

Typical- sunshine by Sunday lunch time

A bus to Ingleton at 6.15am meant an early start. Yep it was damp and a little cool but not freezing. The hall was hot as usual but the time passed quickly, especially once Julian and I decided to get together an ‘oldies team’ for the V50 team trophy. We needed 6 so Julian, me, Albert, Mark D, David T and John T were duly signed up. True I had to write several of these in myself… the perils of ageing and glasses…. but all promised to aim to complete.
There were 70 odd dns runners. I guess there will always be injury, illness etc but I am sure the forecast didn’t help. It was dry as we were herded out onto the sports field and had our tally clipped in the first of many boxes. Shortly after 8.30am were were off – in at least 3 different directions as runners opted for their favourite lines out onto the road before Ingleborough. Knowing not to blast off too fast I soon settled into a comfortable pace and chatted with Julian. The lead runners were well out of sight as we clambered over the rocks and onto the summit plateau. It was a bit wild for the marshalls but we didn’t hang around long enough to worry.  One peak down and just another 11 lumps to go.
I hate the rocky steps that are the usual descent. I always fear a slip on greasy rocks, a trip on the upstanding bits and the impatience of faster male descenders behind me. I spotted a runner dropping left to the grassy trod I had heard about and decided to try it. The ground was steep, the grass was wet and there were a few rocks but I did prefer it and for me it was faster. On on now and in search of David and Laura from Sportsunday photos. I never stop at the first CP  and was soon heading up Whernside where David and Laura were lying in wait with cameras.

Three Muskateers- Barney, Mike and Harry?

They earn their money on days like that. I know I am not super fast but I cannot help being competitive.

Heavy weight cag on all day but not really grim

Sabrina was likely to win the women’s race I thought but I didn’t really know who else would be up there. I did know I was 4th and I spotted Maria just ahead. Hmm, could I get 3rd? Early to be worrying about such things but I am sure it spurred me on up the rising grassy rake and then the summit ridge. It was now certainly raining and quite windy. The marshalls on the summit looked cold despite being huddled by the wall.

Jane and Adrienne on Whernside- Thanks

Once off the rocky bits and through the gates I love that downhill ridge . Just the right angle and nice grass. The out and back to the summit means you can see who is ahead and who is behind. I just spotted Sabs as I joined the ridge, she was already coming down. The temporary stile over the ridge wall gave a few runners a heart stopping moment as it shifted but the real shock was the head height barbed wire at the wall gap. I am short enough to run under it but one young man sat at the Kingsdale CP had not been so lucky. I grabbed a piece of flapjack and overtook some more runners by not hanging around. Well its true… 3 mins at every CP would add well over an hour to your time on this race. I slowed on the steep section of Gragareth but kept ahead of most in the big group behind me. Ros had suggested the CP and tents might be huddled by the wall but instead they were correctly positioned at the trig point.

Ros and others at Gragareth CP. That sky!

Again the out and back allowed me to check on the progress of others.  Despite the dry spring and despite it being a ridge with big drops on both sides the path to Great Coum was wet although I actually enjoyed running this section. Simon Ford was going well and Albert was still just a bit ahead. The drop to Flinters Gill started on pleasant grass but was soon the usual bog fest. Julian had reminded me that there is an alternative to some of the rocky bridleway that drops to Dent. I decided to try it and he is right. You still have to join the main path eventually but it is better. I also for the first time ever took the ‘short cut’ that drops you onto the camping field and the CP. Phew almost 1/3 completed in miles at least.

Winner Stuart Walker at Dent

A big group of us swarmed around the food tent shouting our requests of warm cheese and onion rolls, tea and more. The melon was lovely. I tried not to loiter and set off on the lane eating and drinking. Gary caught me up here and although I then didn’t see him for a while we were later grouped together. For now I concentrated on chasing down two blokes running in shorts – not some wierd fettish, just me hoping to pick off the next runners. They stopped to put on over trousers as the next blast of hail and rain went through. As the bridleway climbed over the end of Whernside I was aware of two first timers hoping to gain a reasonable line by sticking with me.  That’s fine. Simon F was just ahead battling along with his poles. I maintained but could not close the gap on him. Still another CP ticked off and 25 miles done. The felled section of forest added a few obstacles to duck under and climb over, plus the forestry vehicles have almost destroyed the boardwalk section. The beck off to the right was full to bursting and the path very wet. The turkey may have gone but the the farm has a very impressive group of cockerels and some rather fierce geese.I made it through unscathed and jogged down the road to the Stonehouse CP.  It’s nice knowing what to expect at CPs and I quite like the pasta. That plus a cup of tea. I topped up my water bottle but had not really used much in the cold damp weather. Albert had left shortly after I arrived so I set off with a piece of cake in each hand. You can never have too much cake and this one had cherries in it. I had hoped Sportsunday might be on Artengill Beck but not this year. A shame as I had not carried my phone or camera in the rain and as we flogged up under the viaduct and beautiful steam train went across. The rain had stopped for a bit now although apparently down in Stonehouse a gale nearly took the tent away. Great Knoutberry is another little dink out and back so yes another chance to see who is around. Barney, Mile and friend came steaming down the hillside with Mike moaning that he was knackered. There was lots of congratulations from both the climbers and descenders. I could see Albert and caught him at the CP. He didn’t appear to be loving the day and I felt a bit bad running off back to the track and on towards Redshaw. Almost at the track I met a huge group on their way up and there were two women. Oh bugger, I need to run harder.


Somewhere around here you pass the half way mark and bouyed on my the thought of soup and hotdogs the boggy land doesn’t seem so bad. At least its either flat or downhill for a bit. Two years ago I marshalled at Redshaw but today I quickly grabbed soup and the hot dog before setting off with the remains of the soup and a banana.  Not stopping and being on my own saved another 3-5 minutes. The 3 young men made the difficult decision to split here. Mike was wasted and could no longer keep up. My novice Fellsman runners were asking me about the next section- you almost swim after Redshaw on the way to Snaizeholme and I think they feared there might be miles of it. I was able to reassure them that it would soon improve and in fact was a big track to below Dodd Fell. Barney and mate came charging past and disappeared into the distance. The CP on the summit was easy to spot but in my haste to head off to the Fleet Moss CP I made a nav error, missed the wall gap and went the long way round. Sadly I took Albert and Mike with me. Somewhere here I also went over on my ankle and it got progressively stiffer as the evening wore on. I contemplated the direct line with the wall climb that Oz showed me but decided to stay legal.  There was a new fence along the road to the CP but luckily there was a safe place to climb over. It was now tipping it down with rain but almost 38 miles were done. It was cold in the draughty tent so I downed two cups of tea and rice pudd, dragged on my over trousers and set off on the dreaded road.
I had lost time on my Dodd Fell detour allowing runners to catch me and then to see the next group as I ran down past the chevrons. The only thing to do was make the most of the tarmac and cover as many miles as fast as I could.

That b***** road

The ‘shorts and over trousers’ men had caught me and I now used them to drag me along. Luckily the rain stopped or lessened off and I was able to vent my sweaty layers. They were not enjoying the road either and I was closing in. I thought back to my birthday treat on the Dales Way a few years ago and how roasting this valley had been then.  I made good time and at Deepdale bridge was pleased to gain the grassy field paths to Yockenthwaite. I could see Simon plus poles up ahead and this encouraged me. He was also a good marker as we flogged up the track, path and trod to Middle Tongue. It went on a bit but at least the nav was straight forward.  The ‘shorts’ men had stopped and the guy ahead of me seemed to loiter at the CP. Ah yes, he didn’t know the way and the next section is peat hags, bog and not much in the way of a path. I was happy to lead us to just below the kink in the wall where you can climb the fence and then contour to the next wall and a better path. He was very grateful. The guy at Hells Gap was huddled in his Land Rover and the whole think was rocking in the wind. Not a place to loiter. Off we sped down the nasty track to Cray. I used the verges when I could to save my feet but was relieved to reach the tent. I knew we would be grouped here and wanted to make sure I was set up for the dark and well fed. Eating was an effort and I was gagging on the last mouthfuls. I put my prism on knowing it could be cold now and especially if the rain returned. For the moment we were treated to a beautiful rainbow.

It wasn’t all rain

The tent was pretty full but 3 soon shuffled off the the Body Bus and retired their way back to Threshfield. I have done the route 6 times and should know the way but was keen to be in a group with at least one other person who could navigate and also who would be good company. Barlick Gary fitted the bill. We ended up as a group of 7 which is the biggest I have ever had but in fact it worked well. We were fairly well matched and all had good and not so good moments. Gary showed me at least one line I had not done before and with our joint nav or me confirming what he thought we did well. The climb up Buckden Pike was stiff but the weather seemed to be improving and the sun was not yet setting. I like the ridge run and we managed to bogs after the Cross OK. I was pleased that we all agreed to keep torches off for as long as possible. We needed them as we approached Top Mere but it helped prevent the group of 4 behind catching us. Only one big lump left now and the miles were ticking by.  The run to Park Rash was uneventful and we were moving quite well but the run had depleted my reserves and by now I was struggling to eat solids. I would have killed for chocolate milk or custard but hey ho. I managed a MF jelly and some mint cake but struggled on the steepest section of Great Whernside. Luckily at the stile to the rising traverse the easing gradient let me recover and feel better again. We were soon able to see the beacon and then the little CP tent. Only 10 miles left now and now real climbs at all. The rain had gone. I knew the way along the fence, down with the fence as a handrail and all the way to the gate but I could not in my head picture the bit to Capplestone Gate. The group continued to work well with a fair bit of jogging and power walking when we couldn’t do more. The deepest bogs were not as bad as they can be. The guys sent me ahead each time although as I weighed less it was no guarantee of solidity and if I sunk in I would disappear fastest.  No worries and we were soon past the CP and on the track and grassy paths. We made a slight detour into a wall corner but it only cost 10metres. The beacons across the more open grass kept us to the right path easily and soon the walled lane was there. I knew Yarnbury was close and I almost got second wind. We de grouped here. I thought I might grind to a halt but as two sped off I thanked Gary, agreed we could easily get back in under 16 hours and tucked in trying hard down the lane. My head torch was getting very dim but it was a blessing as I couldn’t really see the lane stretching off into the distance. Grassington passed very quickly and it was downhill all the way to the river. I checked my watch- over 15 mins left to get up to the school. I jogged most of it and was pretty pleased with 15 hrs 47. I dreaded to think how fast Sabrina had been and what it would do to my Runfurther points but I had done my best and was 3rd Woman. Gary was over joyed at a 50 min PB. He had been good company.
We sat in the hallway a while just recovering before people drifted off for showers, the sports hall floor, a shuttle to a van in the car park or in my case a stagger to the kitchen for tea and then our van.
It was a shame to find Bob already in bed. It hadn’t been his day. Little Stu Walker was 1st in a brilliant 11hrs 18 and then Rory in 11.27. David Chetta was 4th in 12.03, Phil W in 12.21, Simon Bourne 10th in 12.53 and first V60. Sabs was 7th in 12.23 awesome.

A good nights sleep and a Fellsman breakfast set us up for the prize giving where we managed the Vets Team Prize. Old but not Dead Yet…. Julian, Karen, Albert, John, Mark and David. Fab. My ankle seems to have lost its bone and gained a rather impressive swelling.

I think I just ignored it during the race but walking on Sunday was dodgy as it stiffened up. Climbing on it today wasn’t great but hopefully it will mend fast. None of the photos are mine so thanks to Sportsunday and Fellsman facebook. The big question is can I manage the next 3 Fellsman so that my 10th coincides with their 60th and my 60th birthday?

The Fellsman 2018 – updated 3 May with photos

Ascent of Ingleborough: photo by Nick Ham

The Fellsman results are up, and you can find them on the Fellsman website.  If you get to a list of the past few years’ results & think 2018 isn’t there yet, just scroll down & click on “2018” on the right hand side.  Sounds like it was a great race this year without some of the appalling conditions that hit it some years.

Neil Talbott was first to finish in 11:16, new Runfurther member Stuart Walker was 2nd in 11:44, and Lawrence Eccles was 3rd in 11:56.  First woman was Jessica Richardson, 18th overall in 14:01.  2nd woman was Carol Morgan in 14:19, and 3rd was Rachel Slattery in 16:35.  Karen Nash was just 3 minutes behind her.

Special mention for Mike Sellors and Barney Nikolich, both in the Runfurther under-25 category, who ran their socks off to finish in joint 9th place (12:36).  Our photographer Nick Ham only got as far as Dent, so we’ll have no photos after that!

All the results have been incorporated into the Runfurther leaderboard, and that’s on the 2018 results page.  Three runners have completed all four races so far: David Chetta (Mercia), Steven Jones (Dark Peak) and Ian France (Bowland).  David is currently at the head of the leaderboard, but is unlikely to stay there if Ken Sutor runs one of the remaining Long races.  Karen Nash is still first woman, but if Carol Morgan ends up running four counters she’ll probably overtake Karen, on current form.  Josie Greenhalgh could catch her too.

Sarah Jones, Mike Ernill and Jim Maxfield have each run three counters, but haven’t joined Runfurther yet.  If you know any of them, please try to get them to sign up and join us. (Update: Karen’s already in touch with Mike E)

Karen’s written up her blog & I’ve copied that below, and Nick’s photos are here.

Ingleborough summit: photo by Nick Ham

Karen’s race report:

The Fellsman

I love the Fellsman. The route is superb with wonderful hills, views and countryside (almost no road). The organisation is great and so friendly and it just seems a really good value weekend and chance to catch up with so many friends.  I felt rather under-prepared but decided to think of it as my last long run before the NT.

Thanks to all our Runfurther sponsors

By Friday tea time all the flags and banners were up; a task made much easier this year thanks to the sturdy new school fence. More importantly the rain had stopped, the clouds had cleared and the sun had come out. The forecast was good- cold but dry, well maybe not dry from the shins downwards!
The display boards were up inside and I used that as an opportunity to sneak in and be first for kit check. It meant I was able to hand out mint cake and sign up a couple of new members. Suddenly it was gone 7.30pm and time to drive to Ingleton to eat, put up a couple more flags and banners before an early night. I didn’t sleep well which was annoying but not all that unusual. Bob met up with Alison and Jo before heading off the man the Whernside CP.
I had plenty of time for multiple toilet visits and catching up with so many friends. It was nice to see Mark Hartell and let him know that Runfurther was still going strong – I even ran with him off and  on as far as Blea Moor. In the hall before the start Julian asked me to be part of an oldies team which was nice. I had contemplated running with others for a social time but the Hardmoors gang would be going more slowly than I wanted and the Lostockers had a neat team of four. I decided to play it by ear and just run the best I could and see who I ended up near.

The start in Ingleton and SUN

As usual the field split into at least 3 groups as we left the playing fields and by the Ingleborough track runners and walkers were well spread out. To take my mind off the climb I chatted to Mark. The top was cloud covered but not the white out from two years ago.

Chatting with Mark who set up Runfurther

A neighbour was clipping tallies and shouted support. I always lose quite a few places descending to the Hill Inn and although the rocks were a little drier this year was no different.

Always a pleasure to see David and Laura of Sportsunday

I must check out the more direct grassy descent at some time because Rachel went that way and caught me. Initially I was thinking “where did you come from? how did you overtake me?” but we ran the rest of the race always within sight of each other, grouped and in quite companionship which was lovely. I felt OK going up Whernside to get my tally clipped by Bob et al. Running up and back down this ridge is always interesting as you see who is ahead of you and who is not far behind. Three ladies, including Carol M, seemed to be going strong and I was pleased there were some younger and faster runners this year. Kingsdale appeared very quickly and I refilled my water. I was eating my own food as I find biscuits and the flapjack too dry when I am running. The route to the gate/stile was well marked and let to a good quad bike track. It was wet underfoot but the whole hillside is and the line was better than more direct ones I have taken in the past. I slowed going up Gragareth and told myself it was OK to conserve energy for later. For the first time in ages the cheerful joking ladies at the CP were able to stand outside their tent and enjoy the views. I found myself alone on the section to Great Coum. I could see runners ahead and behind but nobody very close. It was boggy by the wall and the worst stretches kept breaking my pattern and slowing me up. I went slightly too far right dropping off the hill but it allowed me a quiet toilet stop before blasting down to Flinters Gill and running with Mark again. The rocky track was as bad as I remembered- apparently there is a grassy path in the field so I must investigate.

and I need to check out this short cut (David Chetta going well)

The cheese and onion rolls were very welcome at Dent and the melon and oranges were superb. One third of the race now done.

Dent always amuses

Mark made better time than me along the lane and up onto the shoulder of Whernside although I could still see him. Rachel was not far behind me. I gradually reeled in Mark and two others and we ran together along the now well worn trod to Blea Moor.

Yep, painting the trig!

The valley bottom was wet as always. The marshalls here had been busy and the trig point was painted a bright white. So much felling in the next valley caused some initial confusion so my line was not perfect but I got back on line just below the air shaft and caught two who had gone much too fast east.

pic from Anthony Hall

I ran the lane reasonably well buoyed up by the thought of food and drink at Stonehouse. There is always plenty of support and people with cameras here. The pasta was a struggle to get down but I managed with two cups of tea and refilled my bottle with more Mountain Fuel. I would have liked to have headed up the lane still eating but decided to sit and concentrate on swallowing.

Cheers for the food and photo Fellsman team

I then spent the next section trying to catch up with Rachel again. She reached Great Knoutberry ahead of me but we were together across the bogs that would lead us down to Redshaw. We were over half way now and to my surprise my time was looking OK. Rachel wanted to try to get under 16 hours as she took 16.08 last time and I knew my times were often 15:30 or 15:45.

Still great weather at Redshaw

Redshaw  was the CP I was on last year and this year it was manned by friends Adrienne, Nick, their girls and Jane. Tom refilled my water as I grabbed a sausage, banana and set off again. Snaizholme soon came and went. Being with Rachel made me keep running whenever I felt I could and we agreed on the best line up Dodd Fell.

Bright but chilly Dodd Fell

Our line off the summit was OK on good trods and we found a good route to the bridleway that leads across the the Fleet Moss CP.  Rachel was back off out faster than me here but I stayed and ate etc. Usually by now I am starting to think about who I will be grouped with. Rachel was up ahead but still in sight as were the two guys we left Redshaw with. I was with another three runners. It seemed any of them would be fine although I was slightly worried that perhaps I would be the weak link in any group. The new fence is a wonderful handrail and there is a reasonable trod now making nav on this section much easier. The blue cup has gone but we arrived safely at the stile and were soon on the very wet quad bike track that contours around to the ‘new’ Middle Tongue CP. The guys there had kindly hung a high viz vest on a pole just to make it even easier. Four of us whizzed our fell track watches (yes on wrists this year rather than the back of tallies) and had our tallies clipped. We were not grouped and all had our own ideas of the best line but were never really far apart. We went through Hells Gap together and then had a joint moan at the pain from the stone track down to Cray. I was ready for food, drink and a brief rest here. It was also cold even in the tent so I added another layer.

at least we didn’t suffer this disruption

It was here that all my plans went to pot. I was feeling a little nauseous and was a bit distracted. Chris Davies was pulling out with foot pain. We shared a hug and I hoped he wouldn’t have to wait too much longer for transport. Alwyn was waiting to be grouped and moaning at the wait. He was cold and keen to get going but we all knew we needed to stop and refuel. There were 8 of us and we all greed this was too much for one group. I had been feeling a little sick and so worried I might slow people up- in fact I never was sick and should not have worried. In the end Rachel, Alwyn, David and I made one group of 4. We wasted some time as the poor CP guy had to keep rewriting the grouping card  but the two groups set off close together and climbed Buckden Pike together. It was chilly up there but the views were amazing and it was almost a full moon that was starting to show.
Here we parted. The ‘second’ group shot off at a steady jog and pulled ahead never to be close to again. Alwyn was not just feeling sick but really struggling to move and retching constantly. We jogged a little along the newish flagstones and to the Polish war memorial. David lives in Grassington and so led the group. Rachel and I also felt we knew the way and so we checked the nav was OK. We were soon at Top Mere even after some stumbling along the wet tussocky area before the good grassy path. David and I were setting the best pace we could and Rachel was doing a great job of making sure we didn’t drop Alwyn. He wouldn’t eat and was getting slower. Park Rash was wonderful- the tent all done up, with a floor and gas heaters. Not moving as fast as we wanted really chilled me so now I added my primaloft. It meant I had on all 3 base layers, the primaloft, my cag and hat and gloves. Alwyn was getting worse and making sure we did not run off needed constant checking. Rachel agreed to keep shouting stop or slow whenever needed. Not being able to run after the initial steep climb was very frustrating. David and I were getting cold and Rachel knew her hope of sub 16 hours was gone.We found the CP hunkered down between the boulders and headed across the the ridge line fence. The next section is never easy as it is so boggy. Rachel and I both knew the trod off right but neither of us were confident in the dark and clag so we agreed to play safe and stay with the fences. This section although a bog fest is down hill and I really wanted to run, if only to stay warm. It was not to be. Safely at Capplestone Gate we could see some other lights ahead and soon caught another group that had a struggling runner.

Great to see the young lads Mike and Barn- they were finished long before me

Mark H was taking it all very calmly but must have been very frustrated. We slowly pulled ahead and after Rachel insisting Alwyn ate something we jogged and walked with slightly fewer interuptions. At Yarnbury we degrouped. Overtaking the other group had put Rachel and I in third place as one of the other ladies had pulled out. I told her to blast the last bit and claim 3rd as compensation for missing sub16. She and David shot off down the lane to Grassington and beyond. I check Alwyn was following and jogged off too.It felt odd to run this section as sometimes my quads are so shot it is a real effort. I even ran most of the way up to the school from the bridge. 16hrs 38 was a PW by almost an hour but hey ho. Poor Alwyn couldn’t help being ill and it is the first time in 6 years that the lottery of Fellsman grouping has caused me any issues.
After stripping off muddy shoes. I chatted to Josie who was waiting for Albert, Tony and Mike plus Mandy and Ros who had pulled out at Stonehouse but found there was such a long wait for transport that they had only just got back. Then I wandered to the kitchen where Bob and others were keeping runners fed and watered. After two cups of tea I managed a chilli baked potato before sloping off to the van to fall into bed and sleep. By 8am I was back in the hall and swapping tales. Nick had pulled out at Dent just lacking energy and so had Phil. John V was back and so pleased to complete another event 50 years after his first.

Dick being spoon fed at Stonhouse – another great completion

Dick was still out there but was making steady progress. The prize giving had a bonus for me- Julian’s oldies team had won and I was the first counter.

So a trophy and prize voucher to go with the Fellsman necktube despite it all. All that remained was to take down all the Runfurther gear and take Dick back to his car in the quarry.

The Fellsman 2017 (updated 6 June)

Karen picked up a lot of new members at the Fellsman – welcome to all of you.  I’m still not running, so I wasn’t there.  Karen was there, but she was marshalling – she wasn’t running as she was saving herself for the Hardmoors 200, which started in Hull just a few days later (5 May).  How she got on I don’t yet know, but I assume she finished.  You can find the Fellsman results on the event website here.  Karen’s marshalling report is on her blog, and I’ve copied it here too – see below.  Bob Nash wrote up his run, and you can find his report here.  Nick’s photos are here.  If anyone knows of other reports & photos please contact me (Andy) & I’ll add a link to them.  Karen’s also written up her epic Hardmoors 200 run, and you can find that here.

First home was Chris Perry in 11:21, then three runners finished together in 11:56: Kevin Hoult, Simon Bourne and Stewart Bellamy – all three Runfurther members.  34th overall, and first woman in 14:45 was Emma Hopkinson.  2nd woman was Sharon McDonald in 15:33, with Josie Greenhalgh 3rd in 15:57.

The Runfurther leaderboard’s been updated, and is here.  I’ve updated it now to reflect the corrected Fellsman times (there were errors in the results initially).  It’s still a bit early to try to pick this year’s Runfurther winners, but Kevin Hoult’s looking very strong again, and there’s no obvious challenger to Karen Nash appearing yet.  Josie Greenhalgh could get close though, if she improves as the season goes on.

Dick Scroop couldn’t run due to injury, so that leaves just two in the running for the Grand Slam: both Nick Ham and Bob Nash finished OK, and have run all four races so far.  Bob finished in 25:02, knocking 2:37 off his time last year.

I’ll add more once I’ve got it.  If anyone knows Paul Swindles, Sam Blanshard or Ian Hodge, get them to fill in a Runfurther membership form – they’ve already run 3 counters but they’re not members yet.

Karen’s marshalling report

The Fellsman, but not as a runner

I had entered this event as it was number 4 in the Runfurther series this year. It’s a favourite of mine as I love the route, the nav, the toughness the weather and the overnight section often brings and also I love the whole Fellsman community. It never takes much of an excuse to go to the Dales for a couple of days and so we had also been and recceed a couple of sections too. Sometime in early April I was having doubts about running the Fellsman as it would only give me at most 5 days recovery before the Hardmoors200.  I tried to convince myself that it would be OK, that I could run the Fellsman slowly. The trouble was that would only give me 4 days recovery and when I mentioned doing it at a slow pace every single friend just laughed. Then I saw a plea for marshalls on facebook. I really struggled to decide but in the end head won over heart. I would help on Friday evening and marshall at Redshaw during the race. Nearer to the event this became even more the correct  decision as I picked up a dreadful cold and I spent some of the days in the run up to the event with a very sore throat and no voice.
Although it was very strange being at the event but not running it did present other opportunities.

On Friday evening I was able to offer to help with kit check, could put up the flags and banners for Runfurther with no stress and then spent the evening handing out Romneys mint cake and Runfurther membership postcards.

We gained 30 new members so the personal touch works.
The weather had been dry for weeks and the forecast was good. The ground would be as dry as it ever gets- I was jealous and expected some fast times. As it happens people were longing for some soft bog by half way and their feet were hammered. A lazy start to Saturday let me chat to Dave about Fell Track and also to make new friends. The marshalls at Redshaw would be a group of ‘all sorts’ and mostly strangers to each other. Chris Driver had set up a facebook group for us which meant we knew who to look out for so it was easy to meet up with Aimee. Her partner had got her involved and it was well outside her comfort zone but she was lively, funny and full of enthusiasm. The Dales were new to her and so I navigated her the back way to Redshaw through my favourite valley of Langstrothdale.

Before lunch time the Redshaw team was present and getting organised.

Mini crises elsewhere delayed getting equipment to us but we used initiative and soon had hot water for soup etc and food laid out ready for runners.

Alison the soup queen

We divided up the jobs and waited. The lovely weather meant we could be outside and admire the views as we watched the skyline back towards Great Knoutbury.

Leading man- Chris perry

Before long there was a trickle of lead runners followed by several hours of almost non stop small groups.

David Chetta

These were my friends and I really enjoyed being able to great them with a smile, encouragement and offers to refill water bottles etc.

A revived Chris Davies

There were lots of hugs and even kisses. Aimee started to wonder if there was anybody I didn’t know.

1st lady Emma Hopkinson

A couple of friends needed gentle bullying to eat, take a hot drink etc and I like to think it helped them on their way.

Mike and Barney- get back to Runfurther guys

I have a formula for working out when to expect Bob in a race and it worked to the minute on this day.

Steve Wilson
Josie and Albert doing well despite no Tony to nav
Nick always with his camera at the ready
 It is rare that I get to support him  and so all the more special to be able to hug him and encourage him on his way.

All this was doing nothing for my voice which had almost disappeared again but I did take lots of photos.

A supportive team

The updated Fell Track system was able to tell us how many runners we still had to expect. Long before our closing time this was single figures. We had all expected to camp at Redshaw but now it seemed sensible to pack up and even take down the tent. We waited until the runners were through Dodd Fell and then set to work. It seemed a long drive back in the dark but I was in the van on a comfy bed by 1.45am – a real bonus.
A decent sleep and I was up and about quite early and in plenty of time to sit in the hall chatting, to welcome Bob home in a massive PB and to enjoy the prize giving.

PB by 2 hours 37

My voice had almost gone but there was just enough left to ensure I won a prize! Dave Driver had made new Fell Track station using Raspberry Pie and had named them all pies. I knew ours at Redshaw was ‘Humble’. A lovely weekend and great to give something back for a change but I do hope I can run the event again next year. Now all I need to do is to complete the H200. Eek.

The Fellsman 2016

The Fellsman results are up, and you can find them on the Fellsman website. Konrad Rawlik was first, in 11:31, Simon Bourne 2nd in 12:13, and Stewart Bellamy 3rd in 12:40.  First woman was Karen Nash in 15:45, 2nd was Josie Greenhalgh in 18:04, and 3rd was Allison Skillicorn in 18:32.  The Vet 50 trophy went to Kevin Perry (13:08), Vet 60 to Chris Davies (13:39), and the new Vet 70 trophy was won by Bob Nash (27:39).  Congratulations to all of them, and to everyone else who finished.

I’ve updated the Runfurther leaderboard, and you can find that here.  Nine members have run all three races so far, and so has Justin Bramall, so if anyone out there knows him, nudge him to send a membership form in.  He’ll get a free buff if he runs another race!  First woman so far is Karen Nash, first man Chris Davies, but it’s early days yet.  Clayton-le-Moors currently lead the team competition, with Team Krypton hot on their heels.

I’ve written up a report of my own race (see below), and posted a few links to photos and other blogs.

The race was awesome – for me anyway.  One of the hardest races I’ve ever done.  Six of the seven Runfurther committee members ran, and all of us finished.  Both Bob Nash and Dick Scroop damaged their backs in falls/swamps, but both managed to finish despite this.  The weather was great, as long as you had warm clothes on, but the bogs were atrocious.  I couldn’t get my shoes off at the end, as the laces were frozen solid.

Karen’s written her blog up and you can find it here.  Adrienne Olszewska’s posted a short report on the Clayton-le-Moors site.  Trevor Burton’s posted his on the Fellsman Facebook page.  Stolly’s blog is here.

There are plenty of photos up.  Aleks Kashefi took a few, including the one below, and they’re up on Facebook – go to the Fellsman page to find them.

Gregareth (by Aleks Kashefi)

Gregareth (by Aleks Kashefi)

SportSunday were there, how could they not be?  Racing Snakes were taking photos too.  Giles Thurston took some really good ones, including this great one below of the sunset on Fleet Moss.  You can find the rest on his website, and I think he’ll get a blog entry on there too shortly.  There are plenty more photos on Facebook too.  Nick Ham’s photos are here.  Mick Armitage’s photos are on Youtube here.

Sunset over Fleet Moss (photo by Giles Thurston)

Sunset over Fleet Moss (photo by Giles Thurston)

Andy’s race report

I have to say I turned up for the Fellsman in a state of some trepidation.  Usually I’m looking forward to my races and raring to go, but I have to confess I didn’t really want to be there this time.  Why?  Well, I didn’t think I was in a fit state to run it.  I was tired.  I’d run the Calderdale Hike the weekend before, with a cold and a cough, and I was nowhere near recovered from any of that.  I’d had dental work done too, and had a really busy week.  I’ve been organising an event myself, and I’ve still got a list of things I should have done but haven’t.  But, I’ve already entered all the Runfurther races.  I’m trying for the Grand Slam this year.  I had to run.

But, I also had to finish.  Last year was my first attempt at the Fellsman, and I only got as far as Stone House, less than halfway round.  I’d got too cold and wet in the sleet on Blea Moor, and couldn’t warm up again.  I couldn’t let that happen again.  And yet there was snow forecast for teatime, and very low temperatures too.  These were the thoughts going through my mind as we gathered on the field in Ingleton ready to set off.  I was already wearing a thermal top, a fleece, a Runfurther Giraffe round my neck, a woolly hat and gloves.  In my pack were a second pair of running tights, two more pairs of gloves, another thermal top, a GoreTex walking anorak and more.  I wasn’t going to be caught out by the cold this time.

And yet.  The sky was blue, it looked like we were in for a great day.  And that’s pretty much what it turned out to be.  I struggled a bit on the long climb up Ingleborough, but I was expecting that.  My legs were still tired, and I’m never that quick going uphill, particularly early in a race when others have fresh legs.  As we approached the summit plateau there was some snow on the ground, but not enough to slow us down, and it wasn’t icy.  The first bit of the descent was pretty horrible, as usual, and I took it easy.  And then I started really enjoying myself.  What a beautiful day to be out in the Dales!  Down to the road, then the plod up Whernside, in the company of Nick Ham and Ian Hodge, although they soon pulled away from me on the climb.  Once on the ridge, faster runners were belting past us coming the other way: Karen, Dave Ralphs, Mick Cottam amongst them.  I wondered whether I’d see any of them again before the finish.  My expectation was that I wouldn’t – I expected to slow down to a crawl, and my objective was just to finish, not to perform additional heroics.

The ridge seemed to go on for ever, but eventually I got to the top, only to find two friends from Delamere Spartans on the top, recceing the Three Peaks.  A quick pause to exchange banter and for them to take an embarrassing photo, and it was my turn to race down again, past the next batch of runners on their way up.  Again, I wondered how many of them I’d be seeing later.  The run down to Kingsdale is a good one once you’ve turned off the stony ridge, and I was going better than I’d expected.  The Runfurther apprentices (Mike and Barney) caught me up on the descent, but that’s the last I saw of them, and they didn’t come past.  Fit young lads, or they were before they both got injured.  I’m not sure the Fellsman was the ideal comeback race for them, but they both finished anyway.

I quite like the climb up Gragareth.  It’s only the last bit that’s steep, and it doesn’t take too long.  Hands on knees, keep the back as straight as you can, and keep motoring!  I got my tally clipped by the hermit marshal on the summit (see Aleks’s photo above), and then followed Aleks along the ridge.  Somehow I got ahead of him, although I’m not sure how that happened.  Great Coum came eventually, and then we all yomped merrily down to Dent.  This year I missed the short cut at the start of the village, but it doesn’t really make much difference anyway.

So, off up the road out of Dent, and I still had a spring in my step.  The track that follows was OK too, although I was starting to feel the miles in my legs by now.  The we cut off left on the pathless stretch across to the Blea Moor CP.  This was where the sleet got me last year, but this year the sky was blue – so the bogs got me instead.  OK there had been soggy bits before this, and it was all much wetter underfoot than last year, but it was approaching the top of Blea Moor that I managed to go in up to my thigh in one of the many swampy bits.  The first of many.  I made my way down to Stone House a bit soggier than I had been, but still warm enough, although until my gloves dried out my fingers got cold for the first time.  Doen to Stone House then, a quick drink of water, and this time I could keep going, up the track under the railway viaduct, and turning left up to Great Knoutberry.  I didn’t know this stretch at all, but there were still plenty of people around to follow, and it’s not complicated.  Out and back to the top, jumping the boggy bits, then due south to Redshaw.  By this time I was feeling that it was time to stop.  I’d run over 30 difficult miles, and it was hard to face up to the fact that I wasn’t quite halfway through the Fellsman.  Following the fence round to Snaizeholme I passed the halfway point at last, somewhere out there in the swamps.  Only another ultra to go then.

I found the trek across to Dodd Fell and up to the top quite easy really, although my legs were no longer capable of running any uphill at all, even on the easy track.  The way off the hill was pathless but easy enough as we could see where we were going, and I reached the Fleet Moss CP in plenty of time to avoid being grouped.  It was getting a lot colder though, so I put on my jacket and added a second pair of gloves.  For most of the day I’d been taking off my Giraffe and gloves whenever we’d dropped off the tops, but from now on it just got colder and colder.  Before Fleet Moss I’d already lost felling in most of both feet, thanks to frequent soakings in ice-cold bog water.

A group of five left Fleet Moss just after I got there, so I followed them out.  I’d recced from here to the end, but that was over a year ago, and I knew the next bit was a bit tricky to follow, although I knew the general idea was to contour round the hillside.  Visibility was so good that it would have been easy enough on my own, I think, but as it was there were plenty of runners to follow.  I thought maybe I’d stick with the group I was following, but I got a bit of a second wind along here, and overtook them, catching up with Andrew Elwood and Kevin Smith, who’d gone past me a lot earlier, looking a lot stronger than I was.  Now they had settled into a fast walk, with very occasional bits of jogging on the easiest stretches, so I thought that would probably suit my pace pretty well for the rest of the way, as I was sure I’d be tiring again soon.  We stayed in touch all the way to Cray, and although we weren’t running together all the way it was in the back of my mind that I should be OK if we go grouped together.  In fact we caught up a few other runners on the descent down the track from Hell Gap, and a crowd of us arrived at Cray together, just before 9, as it was just starting to be dark enough to need our torches.

We ended up grouped as a 7.  Me, Andrew, Kevin, Dave Ralphs, two runners who’d finished just behind me at the South Shropshire Circular in February, and a 7th runner I haven’t yet identified (I don’t think I chatted with him).  As it turned out it was a good grouping, for me anyway.  Andrew knew the route pretty well, and one of the others was using a GPS, so I didn’t need to worry about routefinding.  We kept moving at a fast walk with no faffing around, and I managed to keep the pace up on the way up Buckden Pike.  I then put my head down and started following the heels of the man in front of me.  Was it on Buckden Pike we hit the icy stiles for the first time?  I think so.  Wooden ladder stiles, where earlier runners, feet wet from the bog, had made the stile steps wet.  Then the water had frozen, and the following runners had added further thin layers of ice, until the whole stile was covered and tricky to cross.  Then there were the wooden pallets, placed in front of one stile so you could cross a very boggy area.  They were completely iced over too, and one was on a slant as well, making reaching that stile the most difficult bit of the whole day.

I was becoming more and more out of it, and it seemed to take forever to reach Park Rash, where I dried my gloves out on one of the gas fires, after yet another bog soaking.  Everything was icing up, the bogs had a crust on them now, although nothing like enough to hold our weight.  On the way up Great Whernside we took a line too far left, avoiding the boggy ascent, but meaning we had to traverse right across steep ground to regain the path higher up.  I struggled here, and for the first time the others had to wait a minute or two for me to catch up.  My legs no longer had the strength to cross difficult ground, or to climb at any speed.  My brain gave up now too.  I was no longer capable of making decisions, I just wanted this to end.  On I plodded though, doing my best to keep up with the others, and generally managing it just about.  Years later we saw the lights of Yarnbury, then the CP itself.  That’s it, all finished bar the shouting.  Ungrouped, the others all disappeared down the road, at a speed I couldn’t dream of.  I jogged down, feeling so relieved I couldn’t put it into words.  Through the sleeping village, over the bridge, up the hill and there was the school.  In the door, mumble out my number, someone cut off my tally and I sank onto a chair, incapable of speech.  An angel brought me a mug of tea.

And that was it, I’d run the Fellsman.  It was 2:15 in the morning, and my official time was 17:44.  It was an amazing experience, and it pushed me to my limits.  And the Grand Slam’s still on track: three races down, nine to go.  I drank the tea and shuffled to the gym/dormitory.  I struggled to get my shoes off, as my feet were still numb, and the laces were frozen.  I forced myself to keep going, and managed to have a shower, before taking painkillers and getting into my sleeping bag.  At this point the feeling started returning to my feet, and I realised my left foot might give me a bit of bother.  I fell asleep anyway, too exhausted even to let pain keep me awake.  The next day I drove home, trying to avoid changing gear, as whatever I’d done to my foot made it agony every time.  Even now, six days later, two of my toes are still swollen and partially numb.

Marlborough Downs Challenge on 15 May?  Bring it on!

The Fellsman 2015 (updated again)

Well the Fellsman weather god struck again on Saturday.  After a week with the weather forecast changing radically about twice a day, we really didn’t know how it would turn out.  We were pretty sure it was going to turn cold though: the one thing all the forecasts agreed on was that the hot sunny weather would finish before we started the race.  479 had paid to run, but 105 didn’t turn up, many of them probably stayed in bed after checking the Met Office.  So less than 80% turned up at the start.  279 brave souls made it to the end, and 92 of us didn’t.

We headed off up Ingleborough, and in no time we were in the clag.  People went astray even on the way up Ingleborough – not me, though that was more by luck than judgment.  At least it wasn’t too cold.  By the time I got to Dent I felt fine, but it was getting colder.  On the way up Blea Moor I realised I was actually pretty wet – my Goretex jacket was letting water through.  On the top the sleet hit, and I got cold so quickly that be the time I got down to the Stonehouse Farm checkpoint I had to pack it in.  I was soaked to the skin, and even with all my kit on I couldn’t warm up enough to set off up Great Knoutberry safely.  Nick Ham had to retire at Dent for much the same reason, and Dick Scroop retired at Cray.  So it was up to Karen to save the tattered reputation of the Runfurther committee, which of course she did.

Plenty of runners clearly had more moral fibre than Nick and I (or possibly it was more fibre pile) and stuck to the task.  From 3 o’clock the weather started to improve.  Still cold, but dry, with clearing skies and even some sun later on, before it got really cold again as darkness set in.  First home was Adam Perry in a PB of 10:23 (no great surprise there), with Jez Bragg second in 10:44 and Konrad Rawlick third in 10:57.  Fourth home was Jasmin Paris, in a remarkable new Ladies Record of 11:09, which was surely the top performance of the day.

The final results are now out, and I’ve updated the leaderboard.  A few times were reduced slightly from the provisional results to account for waiting time, and I’ve added Mick Cottam’s Fellsman result & Andy Armstrong’s Hobble result to the leaderboard, which were both missing first time I posted it.  Karen Nash has written up her blog, and you can find her account here.  Nigel Aston has sent me his write-up, and that’s here.  Nick Ham has also written something on his blog here.  There’s a very good article, mainly about the first 4 runners, in the Grough here, which includes good photos of Karen Nash and Mick Cottam as well.  Guy Mawson has written up his race on his blog here.  James Pawson’s blog is here.  Henry Morris’s blog is here.  Stolly’s (Brian Stallwood’s) blog is here.  Sport Sunday took photos, and you can find them here and here.  Nick Ham’s photos are up on Flickr here.  And here‘s the Strava Flyby routes.  If anyone’s got any other write-ups or photos, just let me know and I’ll add a link or post them on here.

The Runfurther Championship is hotting up already, which is not surprising given that this year’s first three races were all in the Runfurther heartland.  26 runners have already run three counters each.  Of these, Stewart Bellamy has a clear lead over Alan McKeown and Chris Davies in the men’s section, with Barney Nikolich and Michael Sellors behind them, running as a pair in each race so far.  Carol Morgan and Karen Nash are neck and neck in the women’s side, with Carol currently two points ahead.  Chris Davies is top MV50 and MV60 by miles.  Similarly Karen Nash is way ahead as top FV50 and I can already predict Janet Hill is likely to win the FV60 category this year, even though we’ve still got 9 races to go!

If we look at the runners who’ve only run two races, last year’s men’s winner Ian Symington and Jez Bragg are both well-placed to overtake Stewart, and I certainly wouldn’t rule out Kevin Hoult, who beat all three of them at the Hobble.  None of the women who’ve run only two races are likely to catch Carol or Karen, on current form.

It was my first Fellsman, and I’ll be back to get round the whole thing, next year I hope.  The organisation of this event is a huge enterprise, in another league to the ultra I organise myself, and I take my hat off to Jon and the team who put it together so well.  Many thanks to all of them!

Uncollected prizes from the Runfurther members’ draw at the Fellsman are waiting for:

  • Chris Cash
  • Neil Duerden
  • Martin Huddleston

Please contact us to arrange collection at your next Runfurther race!