Pennine 39 – Write ups

We had a warm day for the Pennine 39 with excellent visibility. Nick’s photos are here Pennine 39. 16/07/2022. | Flickr, I’ve blogged it here, and Karen’s blog post is reproduced below.

I love this event and have done it 5 times before. For me it is a whole weekend of chilling with friends but with a race in the middle too. As usual we arrived on Friday afternoon but this time direct from 5 hours on Kendal climbing wall – not ideal race prep but great fun. The flags and banners were soon up and prizes handed over. Joe was busy with shuttle runs to the railway stations but I caught up with him eventually. After food in the van I walked back up to the YHA to catch up with yet more friends.

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Pennine 39 2021 – updated with Karen’s race report

The Pennine 39 is a great race, and I wish I was still running.  I’d have loved to have been there this year.  The race results are here.  Rory Harris won by miles in 5:28, Philip Withnall was 2nd in 6:01, and nearly an hour later Paul Hodgson came in 3rd in 6:53.  Karen Nash was next in 6:55, with Claire Nance 2nd woman in 7:16, and Nina Mason 3rd in 7:58.

The Runfurther leaderboard is here.

Cross Fell summit

Karen’s race report is up on her blog, and I’ve copied here too (see below).  Nick Ham was there and running, which is good news after the physical problems he’s had recently.  And as usual he was taking photos.  You can find them all on his Flickr pages, and I’ve borrowed a few to use here.

Cauldron Snout

Karen’s race report

Nav4 Pennine 39

 Not sure why 39 as it is less but what a superb weekend. Love these guys and it is never just a race but more a whole weekend of friends, banter, great food, drink  and superb scenery.

As usual I wandered p the M6 crazy early. It was sunny when I left Preston and I thought I might get a walk from Hartside on the way.

No such luck; by the time I passed Shap there was thick cloud and the Pennines had disappeared. Hartside when I reached it was a bit grim in the rain and cloud so not enticing for a walk. I had a quick chat with Mick who was resting there (in his car). We had not seen each other since early in the first lockdown when I cycled to his house to deliver his Runfurther mug! The YHA at Alston was wet and midgy so I sheltered  in the car until things improved.

It didn’t take long to put up a few flags and banners, including the two on the finish path that are such a welcome sight and guide us in and up the steps. I had even beaten Joe but YHA Linda invited me inside.  Many hands made light work so once Joe and Sandra arrived with the mini bus we soon had registration set up, gazebo erected and a kitchen full of food and drink. I manned registration leaving Joe free to tour rail way stations to collect arriving runners whilst Sandra started cooking. I also got first pick of beds in our room- happily chose a bed close to window for fresh air and away from others. Didn’t spot the big water pipe behind my pillow though! Not the best night’s sleep.

With only 50 odd runners registration was easy- except perhaps for allocating people to buses. Too many wanted to go on the early minibus for various reasons and in the end I felt I was bullying some onto the main big bus. Nick kindly walked to the chippy and got our tea and by then the YHA was filling up nicely which made for a sociable evening catching up with friends.

Even though I was nominally on the late speedy people bus I was up super early thanks to bird song, the water pipes and people moving around. The forecast was some heavy perhaps thundery showers so I opted for 3/4s not shorts (and then regretted this). I also opted to start in a short sleeve and a long sleeve which was far too warm for much of the time. A leisurely breakfast and I still had loads of time and so went to catch the big bus with the masses. There was plenty of space and only about 4 runners left for the late bus.

The early bus- Mick, Ian, Ken, Jenny. Photo- Nick Ham

Learning from my last race here I was determined to do my own thing and not get pulled along to fast at the start. Easily said! Phil W went off like a rocket and Ilkley man was in close pursuit for a while. Phil’s partner Clare was just behind me and I knew from Bowland challenges that we were a similar speed. The Tees was in good flow and the waterfalls were spectacular even though there was no time to stop and look properly. As we swung away from the river the runners were well spread out and I was pleased that I knew the way. The first few miles along the Pennine Way are easy running and pleasantly grassy. By Falcon Clints I had slowed on the slippery rocks and Clare caught me up. I took a tumble here a few years ago and am now rather cautious. They were over faster than my memory suggested and we were scrambling up the rocks next to the impressive Cauldron Snout.

Photo Nick Ham

No real CP here this year due to Covid, just a cheery marshall to take our numbers. Then it was a section on the stone track for a few km. Passing Birkdale farm I grimaced at the memories of Hadrian 100 and the state my feet were in after the epic crossing of cross Fell and having been wet for so long. No such issues today. By now we were catching runners from the early bus and without realising I pulled ahead from Clare. The sections both before and after Maize Beck bridge are wonderful and very runnable (no rock) and we made good time. There is a sneaky short cut as you approach High Cup Nick and this put e a little further ahead.

Photo Nick Ham

The view is one of the best in England but I have seen it many times and so did not loiter. Suddenly I spotted Ilkley man ahead and so my aim was to see if I could catch him by Dufton (without doing anything totally crazy). By now it was raining quite steadily; strange how this can happen almost without you knowing when it is warm. I contemplated my cag but didn’t want to stop and felt OK as I was moving at a fair pace. Approaching Dufton I passed Ken and Jenny plus two others. The CP this year was next to the village hall and there was a little crowd. No melon in the sunshine today.

Photo Nick Ham

I provided plenty of entertainment as I tried to drink my box of custard too fast and ended up with a fair bit of it around my face- ah well, it made Mick laugh. I grabbed a couple of items from my drop bag and got my water refilled before heading off out of the village just before Clare arrived. I passed Nick and others and then caught Ilkley man (Colin) as we made our way up the big walled track. I was grateful that he kept trying to run as it spurred me on. Clare cannot have stopped at all at the CP as when I turned around on the lane she was following me up hill. Oh bugger- keep plodding. On this big climb to Knock Fell I usually run out of water and have to use the stream- no such problems today. I managed to pick off a couple more runners before the summit and then as I turned towards Great Dunn Fell massive stomach cramps kicked in. Too much custard? Luckily my emergency loo stop was just compete as Rory came flying past- the first runner from the late bus. I had no hope of staying with him but decided to try to run when he did and walk when he did (just more slowly). The radars came and went as did Little Dunn Fell.

Photo Nick Ham

By Cross Fell Rory was out of sight and I couldn’t see anybody behind me either. Part was up the hill the cloud got a bit thicker – not a serious issue and I could still see a couple of hundred metres. the two tall cairns appeared and then the trig and stone shelter. On the Hadrian 100 in the dark and awful weather we almost missed this trig and didn’t see it until we virtually walked into it. Hoping I could remember where to turn for my little trod I set off for Gregs Hut. I didn’t quite get it right but did manage to cut the corner and found a trod of sorts. As I filled up at the pipe the marshall came out to take my number and to let me know there was another runner a few hundred Metres ahead. I think it had stopped raining now.

From 2019 Gregs Hut

The first year I ran this race I was convinced it was all downhill from Gregs Hut to Garrigill. Lesson learnt and I now know very different. The track drops and climbs several times- none are very steep and if you are expecting them not too bad at all. After the disused mines area the track is now much better and easier to run on.

2019 The track to Garrigill

I didn’t run every step but more than I used to perhaps. I wasn’t going to race the guy ahead as he must have been on the early bus but it was useful trying to slowly reel him in.  Fortunate for him too that we reached Garrigill together and I shouted him back knowing that the CP was off down a side road. Glancing at my watch told me that I was on track for my usual sort of time and could finish I about 7 hours. A quick yell of Hello to Angela and I was off to find the river side path. I ran this whole section seeing nobody either in front of me or behind. I couldn’t remember exactly how many miles it was so just concentrated on going as fast as I could without blowing out. The little turning up right was very overgrown and I hoped not too many runners would miss it. Then nice grassy running led to the final tiny climb and the gravel path into town. The flags were soon in view and so spurred me on to a final effort. Reward was a PB of 5 mins and my first time under 7 hours. 6hrs 55. Happy with that.  I think I have done every P39 now except the very first one which might have been invitation only for Joe’s birthday.

Suddenly I was chilly and the midges were out. Time for a shower and fresh clothes before refuelling with lots of soup, bread and cake. The whole evening them became a long session of eating and drinking as we chatted to friends and cheered in later runners. A big curry, apple crumble, beer, wine… and late to bed. So pleased to see many people finish in great times. Rory won and knocked a minute off his PB. Nick smashed his estimate and even beat his time from two years ago. Oh and England won the football match- no TV but radio updates which in some ways was actually more exciting.

Despite the late night I was up early and the flags and banners were down before most people had surfaced for breakfast.

On the way home I stopped near Tebay to explore a hillside that we frequently drive past but I have never been up despite the lovely rocky scarp slope and a hill with a trig point behind.

I wasn’t disappointed. Steep and pathless at the start but wonderful grassy paths on the top and great views into the Howgills. Only a very short walk/run today so I need to go back and explore further.

Pennine 39 2019 – updated 25 June

Greg’s Hut, Cross Fell

The Pennine 39 results aren’t up on the Nav4 site yet, as I write this, but Joe’s sent them to us, so here they are:

1 39 Ken Sutor Male 46 MV40 05:31
2 12 Stuart Fludger Male 46 MV40 06:32
3 27 Karen Nash Female 58 FV50 07:00
4 33 Steve Rivers Male 50 MV50 07:10
5 46 Colin Williams Male 55 MV50 07:20
6 6 Ian Challans Male 38 M 07:21
7 40 Chris Timms Male 38 M 07:22
8 35 Chris Sandison Male 47 MV40 07:24
9 31 David Owen Male 44 MV40 07:28
10 30 Geoff Osbaldestin Male 46 MV40 07:39
11 20 Ben Holmes Male 37 M 07:45
12 18 Charles Hazlerigg Male 34 M 07:48
13 38 Peter Sowerby Male 57 MV50 07:58
14 44 David Ward Male 46 MV40 08:04
15 1 Jason Allen Male 47 MV40 08:06
16 34 Neil Robinson Male 48 MV40 08:06
17 3 Rick Ansell Male 59 MV50 08:41
18 13 Katie Godfrey Female 27 F 08:44
19 22 Mohammed Sharif Jallad Male 27 M 08:47
20 45 Neil Wilkes Male 43 MV40 08:49
21 2 Simon Andreassen Male 52 MV50 08:57
22 4 Kim Ashworth Female 29 F 09:06
23 15 Louise Greenwood Female 49 FV40 09:06
24 50 Jenny Wyles Female 54 FV50 09:07
25 51 Ken Wyles Male 60 MV60 09:07
26 5 Paul Booth Male 43 MV40 09:13
27 9 Owain Davies Male 37 M 09:14
28 23 Rosie Jones Female 39 F 09:14
29 17 Nick Ham Male 55 MV50 09:27
30 42 Gareth Tosh Male 57 MV50 09:32
31 7 Michael Cottam Male 56 MV50 09:35
32 8 Richard Craig Male 43 MV40 09:46
33 11 John Figiel Male 53 MV50 09:54
34 19 Janet Hill Female 64 FV60 10:11
35 29 Sara Ordway Female 39 F 10:38
36 41 Nicky Torr Female 45 FV40 11:04
37 49 David Wyatt Male 46 MV40 11:04
38 24 Debbie McCart Female 57 FV50 11:27
39 25 Mel McCart Male 58 MV50 11:27
40 36 Richard Scroop Male 72 MV70 11:39
41 28 Robert Nash Male 75 MV70 12:03
42 43 John Vernon Male 68 MV60 12:03
43 14 Julie Graham Female 50 FV50 13:05
44 26 Elise Milnes Female 59 FV50 13:05

Ken Sutor won again, a few minutes slower than last year.  Karen Nash was first woman again, a few minutes faster than last year.  I suspect Ken may have been a bit slower this year because he didn’t have Rory Harris hard on his heels this time.  Stuart Fludger was 2nd, an hour behind Ken, and Karen finished 3rd, half an hour behind Stuart, in 7 hours dead.  Once more it was a select field turning out for this great race, with only 44 finishers.  I suspect it’s the remote location that keeps the numbers down.

Karen’s race report is up on her blog, and as usual I have copied it here too (see below).  Nick was there this time, and his photos are up on his Flickr site.  The photos here are his as well, apart from the top one.

Good to see Ken running well, and if he runs more Runfurther races he could be challenging Rory for the 2019 Runfurther title.  The same goes for Karen.  Although she’s a slower runner than Sabrina (who’s beaten Karen three times this year), she could well end up with four 1000-point counters again this year, if she keeps up her good form.  There are still three Long races to go, and if she’s first woman in two of them, she’ll have the maximum 4000 points again.  Sabrina can only match that by being first woman in the Dig Deep 30 in September.

Karen’s race report

Nav4 Pennine 39 (a race or a social weekend)

Actually it was both, but no surprises there really. I love Nav4 events- always great scenery, interesting route, superb CPs and post race food and loads of lovely people.
Our weekend started early on Friday with a rapid drive to Romneys in Kendal to collect mint cake for Runfurther.

Mint cake for all the remaining Runfurther races

Then it was a dash back to Hutton Roof to climb. The forecast had promised warmth and some sun but the reality was cool, breezy and some sun. Off came the shorts and one went the long tights and a few more top layers.

Spot the continent

Still we managed 10 climbs on the little crags and it let me practice placing trad gear again and getting some faith that the gear would actually hold me if it had to. By late afternoon we were driving to Keswick for our second collection of the weekend.

Eco new bags for Mountain Fuel

This time Mountain Fuel from Rupert. With the van loaded up we then drove to Alston, ignoring the road closed signs when we spotted cars travelling in both directions high up on the fellside. By 7pm all the flags and banners plus display boards were up and spot prizes displayed.

Alston YHA- what a great venue

After a quick meal in the van we joined Dick, Nick and John in the pub for a brief committee meeting.
It was a fairly leisurely start and plenty of time to be ready for the bus to the start at 8am. As I stood in the sunshine it was already warm, although not as hot as last year. Ken Sutor was running so the means Runfurther point would take a hammering but I wasn’t sure about the women. There were some I did not know and I ‘worried’ over whether they were fast. This was the fourth running of the race and I have done it every year. The first year we raced down the little field to the gates and over the bridge, then the next year we walked slowly and carefully across the failing bridge and last year we took a long detour walk to reach the other side. This year some paths were closed due to filming but at 9am on Saturday it was deserted. We were able to revert to the original start from just off the road. Race briefing was quiet and quick. We were off. I charged the first field to make sure I didn’t get stuck at the gates or the bridge – plenty of time to slow down a little on the riverside path.
The first stretch on the Pennine Way follows the river and you get glimpses of the waterfalls, including the spectacular High Force. The path is very runnable with just a few trip hazards. It then crosses pleasant farmland to the first bridge over the Tees before hugging the riverside below cliffs of Falcon Crags most of the way to Cauldron Snout.

Cauldron Snout

This section is scattered with rocks and most have been worn smooth by the river of millions of feet on the PW. Time to slow down and take care. As it tumbles down from Cow Green reservoir and over Whin Sill the flow is always impressive. It was all constructed as the outflow to take water down the Tees without the expense and ugliness of a pipe. A short scramble up the rocks and we were at CP1.

Ros at CP1

I was on my own. I could see a bright green vest ahead and knew that in front of that were Ken and Ilkley man. Behind me I could see orange vest but not much else. I couldn’t see any women but maybe they were running a cautious race with a speedy second half.  Before long I ceased worrying and just enjoyed the day. Running alone I kept a steady and more sustainable pace than sometimes. I was really having fun. Even the track to Birkdale and beyond didn’t seem so bad and I amused myself with memories from exactly a month ago when I was running the opposite direction in the dark and the rain during the Hadrian 100. After the pull up to 600m or so you get the lovely reward of turning off the vehicle track and running on grass. Happy feet again. I love this section towards the bridge over Maize Beck and the stunning High Cup Nick and even before you get there the views are lovely. The area is so quiet compared to the Lakes and the bird life is brilliant. I made good time to the Nick and although I didn’t stop I did soak in the views as I concentrated on staying ahead of orange shirt man. The next section is a rapid 400m plunge down to Dufton with views into the Lake District. It starts on grass but even once you reach the track there is plenty of grass verge. By now there were a number of walkers heading up the hill and most were congratulating us. I resisted the temptation to steal the post van that had been left idling at the top of the lane and knew I could be at the CP slightly ahead of schedule. Lins and Mel were in charge. My water bottle was taken and refilled- I added more Mountain Fuel powder and grabbed melon, tomatoes, crisps and cheese. I love real food at CP. I set off at a slow jog munching cheese and tomatoes. As I was leaving orange shirt man was just arriving.
The next climb to Knock Old Man is a beat all the way up to 794m. It was warm and steamy but not as hot as last year. The streams all had more water in than I remember so I was able to refill my bottle easily. I could see the green vest ahead struggling and decided to reel him in. No running just a steady and determined plod. Then I could see another runner further up and so I targeted them too. It made the climb go faster and nobody was actually catching me yet. After the cairn the plateau is fairly runnable and then downhill to meet the radar station road. There are at least 3 route options here. The guy ahead stuck to the road and didn’t turn off. That was the last I saw of him. Orange vest (Steve Rivers) was keeping an eye on me and followed. Go to snow pole 71, cut up the re-entrant, meet the wooden steps and contour the main hill. What follows is a lovely roller coaster down from Great Dun Fell, up over Little Dun Fell, down the other side and finally up Cross Fell. At 893m this is the highest point on the route. I tried to pull ahead to keep my trod a secret but Steve spotted me and followed. It’s nice and grassy, only a little boggy and cuts the corner slightly too. Someone had already been down it, I guessed it would be Ken.

Greg’s Hut

Arriving at Greg’s Hut I was greeted by Little Dave.

Nick at the hut

He was well bundled up in clothes so it must have been chilly stood about even though I was only running in shorts and T shirt.

Dave with water? (Pipe?)

We had a brief chat as I filled my bottle at the pipe and moaned about the ‘new’ yellow brick road that had been created.

Others at the pipe

The track down to Garrigill is about 6 miles or so and it goes on a bit. It also is definitely not all downhill!

The Yellow Brick Road

Somewhere along this Steve caught me up. It was good as we made each other run more than if we had been alone. A supporter walking up assured me that I would not be caught by another woman so that was good. Now it was just my race and perhaps an attempt to get a PB. A MF jelly perked me up and although I thought Steve had arrived strong I suddenly realised that I was alone again. I used the verge where I could to save my feet and the new hardcore on the road was better than I had feared. Thanks to the steam-roller guys who had done a good job. Garrigill appeared and I forced myself to keep running most of the way to the CP.

CP at Garrigill- nearly back home

Again the food was laid out and I knew I had to stop. Ignoring the food and a cup of tea would save 2-3 mins but I might run out of energy on the final river path. Stopping and eating would make dipping under 7hrs a big ask. I stopped. It is meant to be fun after all. Under 4 miles to go and despite the stiles mostly nice running. I knew the way and ticked off the landmarks in my head. First the footbridge, then the dink up right at the farm then the little bridge over a side stream and finally the start of the woods which mean you are almost back. I had set my watch early when Joe was doing his race brief and so could not be sure of my time. I ran fast, even up the final steps. 7 hours exactly. Bang on the time of last year. It would have been nice to get 6hrs….. but apart from the usual pain in my right foot I felt good. My legs were not really tired and I had not actually been pressured or racing people. Strange that just running at a steady pace got me the same time.

Top positions

Ken of course was already back and had won in 5hrs 31.

Stuart Fludger was an hour later and I was less than 30 mins after that. More a reflection on there not being many fast men on the day but I would get my 1000 Runfurther points. Steve came in 10 mins later followed by Colin, Ian and Chris. I had run with Chris last weekend and shown him the way several times. Today without me he had missed turning off the PW in Dufton to reach the CP but phoned Joe to let him know.

Lovely pressie

Joe presented me with my photobook and hoody- some lovely memories of all the days out and friends I have made over the last decade running ultras. It was a good opportunity to get a few more friends to sign the card.

So many memories

Nav4 carrot and corriander soup was wonderful and allowed me to recover enough to go for a shower. Refreshed from that I came down for more soup, bread, cake, tea, crisps…. yep love eating after an ultra.Others were having a tough day.

Nick was slower than last year but happy to have been able to complete after an op and recovery. Dick, Bob and John seemed to be taking forever.  I ate a bowl of Joe’s chilli as I waited.

They were now last though as Elise and Jules had ambled round stunned by what was to them new scenery and taking lots of photos.

Joe had given beer tokens so once I had made sure that Bob was very tired but sort of OK we went to the pub. When I returned to the YHA Bob had already walked back to the van and bed.
A leisurely and breakfast of several parts on Sunday set us up for taking down all the flags etc and the drive home. The plan had been to go climbing again but Bob was knackered and his leg sore and I seem to have damage the shin on my left leg, although on the plus side the ankle seems to have fixed itself.

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.


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).

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.


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.


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’).
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.
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.
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.
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.


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 ( 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.


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.


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!