Sunday, 25 September 2011

5km PB and First Fell Race Win.

After a few weekends on the road I had a weekend during which I stayed up north.
Saturday morning I decided to finally make it to Middlesbrough Albert Parkrun. Having finally filled in my membership form after Thursday's interval session this was my first run as a member of Billingham Marsh House Harriers (for brevity henceforth referred to as 'BMHH') and on the flat course I was hoping for a big PB, my previous Sheffield Hallam mark standing at 18:06. I set the pace to start with, one guy came with me and dropped me after 1800m but I managed to hold off a few chargers for 2nd place. I was pleased with my time of 17:21 as my legs felt far from fresh - at the beginning of the year I'd targeted working my way down towards the 17min mark so was pleased to be moving in the right direction (although the course profile may have aided this a fair amount!).

After the Parkrun I headed straight to the first race in the CLOK autumn sprintO series. Unfortunately my first run at an event put on by the club I'll be joining next year wasn't very successful, oxygen debt (with a bit of cockiness?) leading to some ridiculous mistakes on easy controls. The less said the better.

Sunday was the day I'd been looking forward to - the first race of the local NEHRA/Northern Runner Winter Fell Race Series, the Viking Chase 4 Peaks Race from Carlton Bank, hosted by the Cleveland Search and Rescue Team. Despite the clag being down and threatening drizzle the assembly field was a throng of humanity (OK, I embellish a little), this race being the final race in the English Junior Fell Race Championships - for once it was nice to see Jack Ross turn up and know I wasn't going to have to watch him disappear into the distance!
So there is a view then! The finish field (centre-left) from Carlton Bank, the first hill on the route (from Wikipedia)
...a different Carlton Bank(s)...
The race took in 4 summits in an out-and-back format with a difference - you went out over the summits but (thankfully) came back around them. At 7.8miles with 1800' ascent I wasn't really looking forward to the course's undulating nature.
The route - taking in Carlton Bank, Cringle Moor, Cold Moor and Wain Stones. 
There was a fairly large field and two guys set the pace from the off. I didn't let them get too far ahead (maybe 100m) but was aware of people fairly close behind me. The first descent off Carlton Bank was very slippery, rocky steps combining with the rain to create some rather treacherous conditions. Whilst the 2 ahead weren't getting away I was mincing a fair amount and could hear footsteps closing behind me.
'Anyone got some ice-skates?' New racing hair-cut at the bottom of Carlton Bank (courtesy Dave Aspin, Esk Valley).

Look, I CAN cross a stile without stacking it! (courtesy Dave Aspin)
I sat in 3rd place over the next hill, legs feeling yesterday morning's effort, the leading pair disappearing into the gloam ahead of me. At the bottom of the 3rd hill I was significantly closer than before and made a move upto and through one of them. I then passed the leader, who came with me and led me onto the 4th summit. I re-gained the lead on the descent to Clay Bank, took on a mouthful of water and set off on the flatter return - a forest track which started with an uphill struggle. The path eventually flattened out somewhat and although I didn't feel as though I was pushing too much my legs weren't aching half as much as they did up the hills and I couldn't hear any footsteps behind me.
Now it was a case of maintaining an honest pace and not looking back or at my watch (I'm getting better at the former...) I was very pleased to win my first race, finishing in just under 61 minutes, 1.20 or so ahead of second placed Paul Butler (who won the previous summer and winter series). The race record of 58:20 is, I feel, obtainable with a dryer route, fresher legs and a bit more work.
My Garmin data can be found here.
Nearing the end. (courtesy Dave Aspin).
I won 8 tinnies and a nicely engraved 'Lord Stones Trophy' vase - my first prizes in a while after my recent slew of 4th places!
My new paperweight.
Next weekend's the Ian Hodgson relays. I'm really looking forward to racing over a similar distance with Danny Chan, I'm hoping we can put a few Pennine cats amongst the big boys' Pigeons!

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