Posted on July 1, 2012 by Chris Baynham-Hughes
In the ever running quest to improve my training I have decided that I am simply not getting enough tough climb in. The climb that I do is just too short and in many cases, just not steep enough. My fix is to get one day per week out in the Clwydians or in a fell race.
Last week presented me with the opportunity to race twice with a 40 minute blast for Hot foot up Famau and just over an hour of peer pressure in the Tattenhall Tough Team challenge. I loved them both.
Hot foot up Famau just has nowhere to hide and despite the name, requires a reasonable downhill effort as well as getting up “the gully”. Whilst they half kill me, I love the shorter fell races as they are just all out and you really get to see what you are made of. Inter club rivalry also plays a part and given my absence from racing short distances and the improvement of my main rival Jimmy O’hara, I was more than concerned!
Long races tend to make you slow as you are maintaining a slower pace which is sustainable over the longer distances. At the end of the day if you never run fast, you’ll never run fast. Adair is the best runner at the club and is a reasonable distance ahead of me. I’ve come close once before, but never beaten him on a fell race – there is usually 30 seconds per mile difference. Jimmy and I have always tussled for second place. Most of the time it has been by the skin of my teeth, but I’ve not been beaten by Jimmy yet; we turned up the the race with Jimmy having beaten Adair so I figured I’d have no chance. Added to this one of the Helsby Ladies (Jayne Joy) has also been cranking out stella performances so at the start I was thinking if I could just get in before Jayne did then I’d be chuffed.
Adair and Jimmy really went out hard. Given that I had no thoughts of beating these gents I just ran my own race and tried to stick in the trailing pack. As we headed downhill I found myself caught up. My nemesis (downhill) appeared to be my strength as I blasted past a load of people and then found myself getting frustrated when caught behind a bunch in a narrow section. It was soon over though and I powered up the next hill.
To my surprise, not long after the next hill I overtook Jimmy. It flashed in my mind that he must have gone out too hard, but then I figured he was playing mind games as I reluctantly overtook knowing he’d be on my shoulder for the rest of the run and since I never look back I’d never know! The pressure drives me on though and heading into the next down hill I once again found myself making places up.
Adair was 20 yards in front, but he was running, at this stage I had switched into my fell walk and managed the odd shuffle to try to keep the pressure on Jimmy. The gully had been described to me as hell; after some of the climbs in the BG I actually found it surprisingly pleasant! I also managed to smile long enough to get one of the best running photos of me ever taken! (Thanks Mick Charman!)
Later on one of the Helsby runners told of their experience of the gully. Upon entering they followed a trail of blood all the way to the top. one of the other competitors had managed to cut a finger and had smeared blood everywhere as they made their way up! If only they had written “Welcome to hell” or just “Help” it would have been genius!
I managed 14th place on the day and came second to Adair who pulled away once we got onto the flatter section – his leg speed is just in a different league… as I was reminded two days later 5 minutes into the Tattenhall Tough Team challenge. It’s a favourite race in the year as it is run in teams of three. We always ensure we stay together, but it’s essentially your last runner home that stops the clock.
The course takes off on the roads out to the sandstone trail then it’s our playground. Back onto the trails we make up some time, especially on the railway line which is an exceptionally steep quarry track which comes complete with a man dressed as the grim reaper offering to stop the pain! Naturally we were marshalled up there in the first place by Elvis… who else!
We set out fast and were 4th team going into the trail section. Coming out of the trail section we had broken one team and passed another, but we just couldn’t hold on once we hit the roads and were slowly taken down by a mixed team. Third overall, the first team to finish as a team and second in the men’s – a great result and fantastic fun to run with Jimmy and Adair. A bottle of win as spoils and a cheeky beer to finish – definitely the way forward. I look forward to both of these again next year.