Monday, 9 November 2009

Roaches Fell Race 15mi. 08/11/2009

This provided a rare opportunity for me for a 'short' blast in the hills. I almost got my lungs burning! It's a serious runners' event that's based from Meerbrook Village Hall and very well organised by Macclesfield Harriers. The out-and-back route climbs via a filthy, slurry-infested dairy farm near the beginning and end (I bet their milk goes off quickly, and KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT as you slosh through to keep the splashes out), up along the Roaches ridge, down the other end, across the river, up and down a lot more before climbing Shutlingsoe (a mini Ingleborough?), where we go around the trig point at the top before retracing our steps. We enjoyed a brief respite in the weather and the sun shone upon us, but it was nippy and the mud was voluminous (especially around that farm). At its worst it reminded me of a mini Tough Guy. Trying to run across that on the return leg risked inducing crippling cramps.

This must be the only fell race that puts out red carpets for us. In the early stages, as we queued at a stile near a farm residence, we caught the unbelievable sight of red carpet covering the grassy bank on the other side up to the gravel track! It was there to protect the grass from the worst of all those fell shoe studs. By the time I returned, it was rucked up and folded and serving no useful purpose. SACK THE CARPET FITTER I say!

The out-and-back format allowed a glimpse of the speedy ones on their return leg as the slower ones, destined to finish well down in the bottom half, continued towards the climb up Shutlingsloe to the trig point turnaround. They ran just within their capability that they could sustain until the end. So did I. The difference was exactly 1 hour at the end of 15 miles. They must be a different species to me.

I have no business here in such racing snakes', speed merchants' races, so despite my best, lung-busting efforts I still finished well down in the bottom half of the field. Nonetheless I was pleased to beat my previous time of 3:21 (in 2007) by 13 minutes. 3:08 - only 9 minutes to knock off to get a sub-3, then I might get into the top half. Perhaps next year? But that would require less quantity and more quality, like, lay off the ultras and do speed sessions every week. No chance! I run for fun, not for obligation.

I did not take my camera because I would have tripped up in the river and wetted it, and as we know it wilts even at the smell of dampness (although on hindsight a complete dunking might teach it a good lesson on what real dampness is). However, 'finniganjones' took some amazing action shots here, which just have to be linked. The descent to the river on the return leg was steep.

Next week is a 5-mile fell race (Dunnerdale). I have never turned out for such a short jaunt in the hills. Dare I say it's hardly worth getting out of bed for, but it precedes the Vasque Runfurther party in the evening which I must attend, so in for a penny.....
I expect to be humbled even more comprehensively. I might be last and I might kill myself in the process.


  1. i love your phrase ' i run for fun not for obligation'
    can i use it myself please nick
    enjoy the party
    see you out and about in 2010..we're making a comeback!

  2. Dave, quote away. It's my pleasure. I look forward to seeing you and Charlie again soon. SNOD is beckoning already.

  3. Sounds like a hard race, will try that one next year. Good effort considering the "sprint" distance (for you).

  4. Hi Nick

    Unrelated question to the Fell race but I was looking for some advice on what size backpack I would need for the Lakeland 50 (registered for 2010). Havent got a pack yet and am in despair about what size would fit the bill.

    Knowing you have done the race I would be indebted to you :-)



  5. Hi Rich,
    I use a Lowe Alpine Rush 25 (25 litre) with separate waterproof liner for all my major events. Others may get away with smaller ones, but you don't have to fill 25 litres even if you have them. It's old and probably won't be obtainable now. You need to look for one with a front chest strap and a waist strap with pouches on either side for convenient storage. If the shoulder straps have pouches on the front, even better.
    There's a picture of me wearing the Rush 25 at this year's Fellsman. It's the 5th picture. You'll need to access my Fellsman report and the pictures are linked from there. (I'm the one facing the camera with a cheesy grin, by the way). The shoulder strap pouches are fixed and extremely useful but it may be difficult to track down a rucksack that has them.
    Good luck.

  6. Thanks Nick for the information. Much appreciated.

    Will read up straight away :-)

    What are your plans for next year looking like?

  7. Hi Rich,

    Inov-8 do a really good 22 litre pack and has all the pouches and straps mentioned above. really light weight and fits great.


  8. Hi Rich,
    The usual - something for every weekend - as many of the Runfurther events as I can squeeze in plus LDWA events and a few more ultras to keep me occupied between them. In other words, more of the same.

  9. Nick,

    How are you? We liked your buff (Roaches). Roll on the end of May 2010.


  10. Mark. I'm not too bad - just about recovered from flu lurgy. I just need to get my body used to running again. I haven't done any for weeks - coughing too much gunk.

    What's with end of May 2010? LDWA 100 by any chance?

  11. Hi Nick.

    I finished ~10s behind you in this race (only my third proper fell race). I found it really tough, but I'll be back next year and I know I can crack 3 hours. I went a bit too hard on the way out...

  12. Hi Rob. I've heard it said that this is quite long and tough by some fell race standards. You and I can encourage each other to get sub-3 next year.