The Fellsman 2024

My favourite race of the year. This year I did a little better than last year, ate more and only spent 20 minutes shivering at Cray, rather than last year’s 90. Claire caught me up and we finished together again, over an hour quicker than last year. Next year I plan to eat EVEN MORE! and not have to stop at all.

Courtesy of Andy, the leaderboard has been updated to reflect the results of the Fellsman here.

Karen had a pretty good run, her write up is below the fold. Mine will follow when I’ve had time to finish writing it.


The 60th Fellsman

 For us the start was exactly the same as last year- climb for four hours and then drive to Threshfield. Put up flags and banners in the sunshine. Catch up with RO friends. Put up display boards, spot prizes, hand over winners prizes and mint cake bars, set out rope mats and dog toys.

Bob then went to help unload the food vans. I was first in the line for registration and soon had Martin, Ian, Mick, Fiona and others to catch up with. Once the staff had the wifi up and going I was used as a registration guinea pig and so was soon inside and warm! I passed quickly through bus tag, disclaimer and on to the infamous kit check. All good and speedy although I believe the queue outside got quite long later and the weather got a bit damp as well as cold.

I went back to our van to eat- bonus of Bob helping in the kitchen is we get to park at the school. Once fed I grabbed a beer, checked Bob was OK, handed over his food and went back into the main hall. Plenty of friends to talk to and I managed to sell rope and so make more money for Mountain Rescue as well as pass out some spot prizes. By 9.30pm I was ready for doing final faffs and getting into bed. Bob knew he would be on a late night and an early start so had said he would sleep in the staff room. I slept quite well despite marshalls in other vans coming back late and getting up early.

It was a chilly start so I put the van heater on as I ate my breakfast. The forecast of a cold dry morning with rain perhaps later made the decision to start in long tights easy. I knew I would be grateful for them early on and later that evening even if I was a tad warm in the middle of the day. Then after one final check of gear I headed off to say bye to Bob, go to the loo and get the 6.30am bus. Not being a circular route means an early start even though race off is 8.30am. There seemed to be more runners than seats on the bus which was a bit unfortunate and I felt sorry for the lady sitting on the stairs being sick. I hope she recovered, started and finished. As we pulled into the car park in Ingleton I spotted a big queue and so shot off to the toilet. When I returned the queue was even longer and we were soon very cold. I was already glad to be wearing my long tights and third layer plus cag. We were already kit checked so it was hard to see what the delay was but I don’t suppose they were just trying to annoy us! We inched forward and then inside to warmth where I collected by number, whee watch, tally card and then tracker. Belt and braces but apparently we cannot get rid of the iconic tally. I then moved into the next room and found more friends to chat with and started to warm up. I had not seen Matt N or Brian for ages. Julian was busy sorting out our ‘oldies’ team when it was announced the start would be delayed by half an hour to cope with the queues.

So by 8.30 we were being herded out into the cold sunny morning on the field. Our first tally clips had been taken. More and more people seem to be opting to start up the steep grassy slope now but I was determined not to get carried away despite the bottle-neck at the gate. Before the tarmac ended we were fairly spread out and then taking slightly different lines on the grassy paths. It is up and up and up to the first CP on Ingleborough so there was plenty of walking as well as some running.

Stunning morning at CP1 but very chilly

My neighbours marshall this first CP and were looking pretty frozen as we arrived. I debated trying the direct line due north and down the grass but could not see anybody going that way and didn’t think it wise to experiment. The rock steps and slabs were drier than often so I made reasonable time but it is apparently a quicker line.

By the time we arrived at the Hill Inn I was confused. Neil was ahead of me moving fast so was I being slow? But Claire was with me so was I too fast? In the end there was nothing to do except stick with what felt comfortable and do my own thing. A cheery voice shouted hello as I left the road- Andy N was marshalling the 3Ps race. I trotted on the best I could aiming to keep Neil and the Morts within talking distance. It was good to leave the main tourist path and take the grassy ramp up to the ridge. I am always surprised how long it takes to get to the summit but as usual there was a stream of faster runners coming down to distract me. The summit CP was the usual cold and windy spot- not a place to linger. I was cautious over the rocky path and Cat pulled ahead. Once on the grass I was more comfortable about speed and seemed to fly down to Kingsdale. The CP was quite busy so I grabbed some Voom and filled my water. I tried eating on the climb but it was a struggle. I sipped mountain fuel but couldn’t manage more than a couple of mouthfuls of Voom bar. It had an interesting red dye effect on my hands though! The Voom mint cake like stuff went down more easily but I don’t think I could stomach much of it in one go. The climb up to Gragareth ridge is one of the steepest on the route and I took a couple of brief breathers. I like the run out to the two cheeriest marshalls ever and the views were amazing. I got led onto a new to me trod on the return loop- shorter but a little damper. The ridge goes on and on towards Great Coum on mostly nice grassy paths. I missed my usual short cut near the end but was running with Claire as we left the CP and began the drop to Flinters Gill. The track/trod by the wall was as wet as usual but we missed the scree easily. I really dislike the rocky path as it drops to Dent so experimented in the field but think I cut back a little sooner than necessary. The young man who usually points the way was missing due to exam revision but I found the path OK and was soon on the campsite.

Dent = hippies with fruit, tea and cheese sauasage rolls

The guys at this CP always make me smile and I refueled on melon and cheese roll. Claire was still with me for now but soon pulled ahead as we trotted along the tarmac. I found I was running with Cat and we chatted a bit with me keeping her on course before she too pulled ahead a little on the climb over the end of Whernside. The weather was warmer now but I was not too uncomfortable in my long tights and was just happy that it was dry and sunny.

Stonehouse CP ready for action

I know this section well and soon found the trod off the main path and then the best of the pretty non existent trods through the bog below Blea Moor. It was here that I ended up with Bill J again, something that is becoming a regular thing on this race. We jogged and chatted all the way to Stonehouse. I was pleased to find most of the paths were drier than usual and the geese in the farm yard had disappeared. Stonehouse meant fancy dress, a kit check and food. I managed a small portion of pasta and a piece of cake before starting the plod up Artengill Beck.

Not mine sadly- I would have had the steam train

I had opted to use my old KIMM sack not my race vest and this was the first of many times I regretted this as there was no easy access to my phone so I missed the steam train going over the viaduct above me. I did get my poles out and this seemed to help me get into a steady rythmn and almost kept up with Bill. As we crossed the stile for Great Knoutberry it was interesting to see who was about 15 minutes or so ahead as they headed back down the hill. Just before the top there was a brief spell of hail but pleasingly it didn’t last. I made good time down the grassy paths, one of my favourite bits, and was soon ahead of Bill and running with Cat again. Redshaw was soon in sight and I pointed out the way. I marshalled here once and so know the team. Today I grabbed a cup of tea, banana and a small sandwich and watched as Cat who didn’t stop disappeared up hill.  The path to Snaizeholme was damp but not dreadful and the CP was in sunshine. I felt I was struggling a bit so concentrated on not letting the gap to Cat and the other runners get any larger.  Last year Matt N met me here and encouraged me to run. He was racing this year but the memory actually had the same effect and I was soon on Dodd Fell. The sky was now starting to look more evil and as I crossed the wall and started on the final path to Fleet Moss it started to rain. By the time I reached the CP I was chilly and thinking this was the start of the predicted bad weather I added a layer and then my over trousers. I managed a little food and chatted to Ken who was bailing here. I knew a couple of runners had just left and so headed out and used their backs to pull me all the way down Langstrothdale. The rain had now stopped and I was feeling like a boil in the bag meal with sweat running down my body. I prayed I would be cooler once I started the climb back onto the moor. I like the Dales Way path and we were soon in Yockenthwaite (love the names here)and heading onto Chapel Moor. This is the ‘new’ bit and there is no obvious trod yet or perhaps people just take a multitude of different lines. Interestingly the erratum OS sheet provided by the race does not show a patch of fences and gates which for me are key to getting the correct line. It is a long long pull up over rough ground but I knew the stone wall would eventually come into sight and then behind the top corner would be the CP tent. Again I struggled to get my ‘whee’ to whee and the delays were becoming frustrating.  Next stop was the slightly adjusted Hells Gap CP and some easier running before the even easier drop to Cray. The rain seemed to have gone but I could see mist beginning to shroud the top of Buckden Pike. I did manage a little food at Cray but not much. I set out alone towards the hill and then stupidly let myself be persuaded to try the right-hand side of the stream again. We still got to the tourist path but I think I prefer my usual way. The mist was getting thicker and I was now alone again. I hoped to see Joe at the top but the clipper was held by a young couple. The massive flag stones led the way south and I put my torch on to avoid the trip hazards. The flag stones now extend all the way to the War memorial stile. Then it all changes in a very bad way. Usually I veer left a bit away from the wall and so avoid the worst bogs. Today on my own in the dark and thick mist I stayed near the wall to make sure I didn’t miss the gate. Sadly this meant awful bogs and before long I fell thigh deep into one. I was so grateful to have my poles and even more relieved when I got out with both shoes still attached to my feet. Ironically not long after the gate I ended up in a group of six plodding our boggy way to the Top Mere CP.

A loose group of us made our way to Park Rash and the CP by the road. I tried to eat again but was now really struggling and thought I might be sick. I left the CP alone and slightly disorientated. I cut right too early which was not a disaster as I could follow the wall but it was slightly longer and steeper.  Just before the ridge top and CP other runners appeared and we reached the CP together. Again no whee from several of us!  It was good to run off Great Whernside together and share the joy of spot the trod and avoid the bog! We split up before Capplestone Gate but arrived at the CP together. I hoped to stick with Martin T here and it worked for a while but he was stronger as we neared Yarnbury and was soon out of sight. This last CP is always a welcome sight. There was no need for food and I felt I ran more of the tarmac even if I could not keep up with Martin. Second year in a row where I have lost the V60 trophy by 4 minutes or so after running with the man for a few miles! Grassington was almost silent as I jogged down the hills and over the bridge before the final pull up to the school at Threshfield.  16 hrs 34 so a little slower than last year but not a PW. I think 8th F, 2nd V60, 1st FV60 and my tenth Fellsman run.


Bob met me at the finish desk and once I had collected my snood and medal he fetched me tea. I knew I should eat and so sat in the hall eating chilli and drinking yet more tea with rhubarb pie and custard. The body bus arrived as I finished and so I had a chat with Nicky who had bailed at Cray. She will be back to complete next year.

The chairs had no back support

hil and Claire were showered and fed and soon headed off to bed. It wasn’t long before I slowly wandered back to our van. I struggled to sleep at first but by 8ish was up and back for breakfast.

Rather more climb than they advertised

There were some great runs from Runfurther runners- Phil in 4th, Lawrence 10th, Claire 3rd F. Winning man was Kim C in 11.07 and Emma was 1st F in 11.36.

We managed to get the oldies team prize again and so I left with a bag full of Timothy Taylor goodies.

After the prize giving I took down flags and banners. Took display boards etc back to the van. I was thrilled to find I had made £45 for Mountain Rescue from mat sales and dog toys. I then went to find Bob who was still working hard in the kitchen with Jean and Tom. He had been on the go for most of 40 hours with little sleep and just a short bike ride in a quieter interval.

Washing up reward

I washed up, dried up and cleaned for a few hours before we made our excuses and drove home. A fairly exhausting weekend but good to support such a great event.