How Now Brown Cow?
Race HQ for the Knowl Hill fell race was at the Brown Cow pub in Norden near Rochdale. Another great turnout of 11 A&T runners met there to register, including Kieran and Kerry, who were taking part in Knowl Hill fell race as the final part of Rochdale Harriers’ 3 day event, excitingly entitled “Rochdale Harriers’ 3 Day Event”. Not a very imaginative name, but it was a tough set of races, so well done to them both for completing all three races so strongly. The fell race itself was well supported, easily beating last year’s 137 runners with 205 entrants. I suspect that this was partly down to it being included in the Run the Moors champs, with several clubs well–represented. As conditions were good and the course was well-marked and marshalled, there were no kit requirements.
Before the race there were handshakes and good lucks all round for the A&T crew, and after the usual safety talk, we were started by a local councillor blowing a whistle, immediately going into the first climb. Following the recent experience of the Foe Edge start this felt pretty mild, as we followed a gentle slope up a road for about a mile, before going left onto the moors, to follow a trail around a reservoir. However, it soon got harder as we hit the first bump, which slowed even the toughest, knarliest old fellrunner to a hands-on-knees shuffle. Usually these local fell races only have one hill like that one, but after conquering the first we soon hit another, even bigger one which had a slightly sharper gradient and so was more like a scramble for most people. I was struggling by this point and a few people overtook me, which meant that they all had targets on their backs for the downhill, which I was praying was going to come soon.
“Been around the World and I I I, I can’t find my baby”. Huh? Interspersed with concentrating on not falling off the edge of a mountain, I always find that strangest things jump into my head on fell races. Okay, so Lisa Stansfield was the only person that I could think of from Rochdale, but why start an annoying ear-worm halfway up a scramble, when I should be ensuring that I don’t put my hand in a pile of sheep poo? … Anyway, back to the race and another sharp, but runnable climb took us to the top of Knowl Hill itself. Every racer had a tag on a string that they had to hand in at the top of the hill to prove that you’d made it that far, not made easy by the strong wind across the top blowing the token all over the place. But bliss, we now had some downhill and flat bits. And better still for me, some “technical” bits that I’m usually good on, meaning that I was able to overhaul the chaps that had overtaken me on the earlier hills. I was still jiggered, but moving well, soon catching another small group and made my move to pass them down a hill. As I drew level I tripped at full pelt and dived spectacularly head first into a bog, making a huge splash and getting absolutely covered in mud from head to toe. Fell races are ace!
I don’t really know how much further it was to the end as my watch was covered in mud, but after several more ups and mostly downs, we finally reached the end down a cobbled and slippery road.
All in all, it was a good, fun and testing fell race. Plus as always, spectacular views were guaranteed, with good support this time from Dave and Frank the fell running dog. Apparently there was also a dead sheep.
Well done to everyone from A&T, results can be found through the link below and the fell champs have been updated on the website.