Category Archives: News

Lowther Trail Run – Sunday 10th August, 2014

Report by Mike Gill

The Race Lowther Trail Run
Overall Score 24
Please score the following categories out of 5  
PB Potential 2 – Steady away from the show ground and then the climbing starts and  some lumpy bits to follow so limited PB potential
Atmosphere 4 – Despite the very wet conditions it had a good feel
Organisation 4 – Good initial instructions and signage into a dedicated parking area at the show ground, route well taped and a couple of water stops/dibber points
Scenery 5 – Very scenic with good views of Ulswater from one of the tops
Value for Money 5 – Your £10 entry fee also got you into Lowther show after for free
Beginner Friendliness 3 – Billed as a Trail Run but more like a Fell Race so not for the faint hearted, friendly supportive group of runners
Club Support & Social 1 – Only Bounder out on the day (would recommend more do it next year)
Tell us more…  
In Short Hills, rough stuff, river to plodge through & lovely views

 

The Bounders have taken part in the Lowther Trail Run which has been part of the Lowther Show for many years. Initially discovered by Gordon Hindson it quickly gained a place in our running year. Lowther Show (just outside Penrith) is a large show initially held over 3 days Fri, Sat & Sun and the run used to take place on the Friday. The route then was about 60% on lanes and the rest off road. After 2 years where the weather washed the show out completely it ceased to be put on. Thankfully it is now back stronger than ever.   A 2 day event now over Sat & Sun with the run being held on the Sunday.

My day started with a dreek prognoses for the weather due to the tail end of hurricane Bertha heading towards the UK. Sure enough it was wet and stayed wet for the whole day but the forecasted high winds didn’t appear and the temperature at 13/14 was ok with no wind to chill you. The initial instructions were clear and precise and guided us into the Lowther estate and to a reserved car parking right next to a large marque which was race HQ and also looked out onto the carriage driving arena where we had a grandstand view of the magnificent horses and carriages going through their paces.

We had got there with over an hour to spare so registration was quick, number put on, a dibber fastened to your wrist for the 2 checkpoints later to be encountered. The rain continued pouring down as the runners gathered. A fit looking lot I must say with a good lot of females running. They all had the lean mean look if you know what I mean.

Given the wet conditions we were asked at the briefing to carry a waterproof and not to depend on others if in trouble. A simple whistle and we were off from in front of Lowther Castle.

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The first bit was a downhill clatter over the meadow in Lowther Parkland, a sharp turn at the bottom before tracking the river, crossing a bridge and then the huffing and puffing started as we pulled up through Askham Village and onwards up the fell to Heughscar Hill. (Fab view of Ullswater below) We then changed to a southerly direction as we descended to the Cockpit. By then I realised that today wasn’t going to be a fast run for me, my legs were very heavy from the previous days hard hilly cycling sportive at The Hell of Hexham. So I mentally readjusted and decided that today was going to be for enjoyment only. Felt good after that decision.

The run was billed as a Trail Run but in truth it was more a Fell Run with only about 2 of the 13 miles being on road. We had a stream to plodge through, the girl running next to me asked ‘is this the river crossing?’ fraid not I replied. That came a little later as we had to wade through the River Lowther which was about knee deep (with a safety line rigged up for the nervous) That was good, wet feet matched the wet rest of us!! Shortly after that we got our comeuppance when we had to haul ourselves up Knipe Scar. Yes I walked up it….didn’t see the racing snakes at the head of the field but I comforted myself by agreeing that they too couldn’t have ran up that could they?

At that point most the graft was done and after some undulations over grassy bits we started a long descent back into the Lowther estate. I had half a mile of climbing through some woods and out I popped by the Castle itself and trotted over the line feeling rather smug with myself as it was all over. Still chucking it down but not cold.

This run is one to bring the family over to as Lowther Show has loads going on and would keep everyone from children to grownups well occupied all day. Your £10 race entry gets runners into the show free and you can purchase discounted tickets for extra people when you enter the race (sorry run)

Despite the rain Ann and myself had a great day out and I even picked up the Gadgy prize, a nicely engraved crystal tankard courtesy of sponsors Isuzu.

L2As the race organiser said at the end he was very pleased to see an increased number running (about 80) and to spread the word for next year. Word spread Bounders put the Lowther Trail Run in your mind for next year.

Mike

 

Cross Bay Challenge, Morecambe – 6th July 2014

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Report by Stoo Gordon

The Race Cross Bay Challenge, Morecambe
Overall Score (out of a possible 35) 24
   
PB Potential 0
Atmosphere 4
Organisation 4 – Lack of clean running water at finish
Scenery 5
Value for Money 3 – £29 + £10 for t-shirt (optional)
Beginner Friendliness 3
Club Support & Social 5 – Thanks to Nigel Cook
   
In Short Great experience, Very Scenic, Great Fun
In Full  The first time Nigel Cook mentioned the Morecambe Bay, Cross Bay Challenge, I immediately thought of the cockle pickers that got caught by the tide and thought, that could be tricky. I then read several reviews from people like Nigel, who had previously, ran this race. All said the same thing, that it was fun, friendly and scenic. Not a mention of Scary anywhere. So the Gordon posse set off on Sunday morning (passing the Matalan crew just setting off on their jaunt) on the 2 hr drive to join the 400 people on the Beach at Hest Bank.Now if you went the way Nigel did, being on his own, you had to travel to Flookburgh to leave your car at the finish and get one of the buses at 09:30, back to the start (45min). Which meant a lot of hanging around at the start, as the race began at 12:30. That aside I was looking forward to giving this a go and was glad Nigel was there for company and a bit of guidance along with the experienced guides on quad bikes of course.2

The weather was really quite good : breezy with plenty sunshine. The views from the start were stunning and as far as the eye could see, was the Bay stretching out in front of us. You could see the opposite side of the Bay and to be honest it didn’t look that far, not 13.1Miles. But then you don’t go directly across do you? When you look at the route you go a long way inland first, before you cross. There is a reason for that. It’s to cross the River Kent.

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We set off after a small briefing, reminding us to stay within the marked zones or you might end up in the quicksand. Gulp! The initial few miles were on very wet, wrinkled sand, not the most comfortable conditions, but that was soon forgotten when we approached the first water crossing. The racing part of the challenge ground to a halt. Splash!, in we go, woohoo what a laugh and actually quite heavy on the legs trying to wade across about 30-40ft wide thigh deep lukewarm water.

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That was the first of many water crossings of varying depths, most notably the bit where we crossed the River Kent. Now by this time I was quite used to getting wet but this was different. The under currents in this crossing would have swept a small child out to the Irish sea in no time! Not being much bigger than said small child, I somehow managed to make it to the other side. There is a marshal posted here (probably to let the coastguard know if you fell over) so that was alright, I felt it was safe. It was slow going but strangely enjoyable and cooling as the sun was now beating down constantly. Another crossing achieved we plodded on with soggy sand filled shoes. At this point I remembered Nigel telling me to run in my oldest running shoes as I was not going to be taking them or my socks home.

(Those of you who know my bright yellow, self cleaning, trail shoes, will be happy to know they are safe and well. One of my 3 pair of Asics had to go.) There was a point about ¾ of the way through that we came across a huge expanse of flat sand with nothing to see except sand in the distance. But if you look to your right at this point, It is then your eyes are treated to the magnificent view of the lush green coastline. Stunning hills in the background, a feast for sore eyes. It was around here Nigel spotted the finishing Marquee like a mirage in the distance. It took a long time in getting any closer. Final water station at 10 Miles then onto the finish in just under 2hr 30m.

Water stations were at 4M, 7M, and 10M. Finish line facilities included Sports massage for a small donation to Cancer Care, other merchandise including your t-shirt could be purchased here and there were a variety of refreshments on sale. Portaloo toilets are available at the end but no showers or running water.

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The Gordon Posse went back to the start point to watch the tide cover our tracks, and of course to have fish and chips.

It was a really good day out. I Would certainly recommend this to anyone thinking of doing it. I personally am looking forward to doing it again.

 

Windy Gyle Fell Race – 22/06/14

WG1

Race report by Andrew Dick. 

The Race Windy Gyle Fell Race
Overall Score 28
Please score the following categories out of 5  
PB Potential 0
Atmosphere 5
Organisation 5
Scenery 5
Value for Money 5
Beginner Friendliness 4
Club Support & Social 4
Tell us more…  
In Short Stunning views a feast for the eyes
In Full: I was bullied into entering this, my first fell race and only my fourth ever race. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to the hills and fells of Northumberland, spending a lot of my working days in them. But I walk them, slowly, measuring things and writing things on maps. Running up Windy Gyle at 2031ft was something I was nervous about, mainly because I had very little confidence in my abilities as a new runner. I have thought fell runners to be an exclusive athletic super group often spoken of in hushed tones. My mate from Heaton Harriers, Lisa B (I mentioned in the Bamburgh 10k report I wrote) had twisted my arm up my back to run it with her. I love maps, I work with maps, correct maps, draw maps basically I’m a map geek. Lisa B, on the other hand, is rubbish with maps so needed me to be the navigator. I love a challenge and I know the terrain. So I thought what the hell, even if I’m last at least it’s a step along the road of becoming a fell runner.There was a kit list to observe and after about 5 seconds research knew my hill walking gear was too heavy and bulky. I also needed trail shoes, this was going to be expensive I thought. Derren Sarginson suggested More Mile Cheviots as a great entry level shoe, so off I trotted to Start Fitness. The shoes were very reasonable at £27 (after discount) which made the colony of moths in my wallet very happy. The rest of kit was equally reasonable with a really cheap fixed hood windproof, waterproof jacket from Go Outdoors and a Karrimor bum bag from Sports Direct. I was really chuffed with the bum bag, I didn’t wait to get home, I put it on in the car park and pranced about the rest of the day wearing it. Every mirror I walked past I stopped to admire the practicality and versatility of the bum bag. Bum bags, they must be due a comeback. How about the Bounders kit to include bum bags in the future? I’d buy one.

The drive to the start takes you along the most impressive road in Northumberland. There are songs written about this valley with the river Coquet flowing between MOD ranges to the South and the hills and border fence to the North. If it wasn’t for the live firing 24/7 you could believe that nothing has changed in this valley for hundreds of years. However the constant thumps and booms are a reminder that you’re in the 21st century. The only times the guns are quiet are at lambing break between 15 April and 15 May. Anyway, I digress, back to the race.

The start point was from Windy Haugh, just past the cafe and near the sheep pens. The race organiser was Phil Green from Heaton Harriers, a club colleague and next door neighbour of Lisa. Registration consisted of exchanging a very reasonable £6 entry fee and a few insults between Lisa and Phil. Maps were available for £1 each with the money going towards the Search and Rescue who were marshalling the check points for the race. Phil had relaxed the kit for the day with only a jacket mandatory. I looked around at everyone and realised I had bought the worst bum bag ever. I’d never experienced bum bag envy before, there were ones that looked like weightlifters belts with two water bottles, there were smaller ones like money belts. But they all looked better than mine. I was gutted. I’d even posed for photo’s proudly wearing my bum bag to the front to make sure it was included for posterity. See below, some Heaton Harriers, my bum bag and I.

Lisa introduced me to Jason Taylor, a fellow Bounder but running in his NFR colours for today`s race. I picked his brains for advice, telling me to power walk the steep bits, run the flats, to take it easy and not go sprinting up the first few hills. Lisa and I jogged a little to warm up and chatted with other runners all very friendly with Lisa telling everyone it was my first fell race. As if they couldn’t tell by my shiny new trail shoes and crap bum bag.

Race started at 10:30 “from behind” Phil’s car, a relaxed and very informal atmosphere, already I loved this. A quick few words of advice about the route and course from Phil and all 68 runners were off. The first part was a 500m run along the road to the first gate onto the steep climb up Barrow Law. After Lisa and I promising to run together with me insisting she didn’t run off, I shot off up the hill leaving her behind. It was here on this first hill a huge smile formed on my face. My mind was made up, this is the type of running I want to do. I didn’t stop grinning and laughing the whole day. I was in my element. Lisa was right, I would love fell running.

Route took us along the border country ride route towards Murder Cleugh where apparently in 1610 a murder took place. Phil had told us that the bridleway then splits into two around the Eastern flank of Ward Law and to take the right hand fork, so I followed the pack naively and took the left hand side. A clumpy sheep path trudge and a dog leg back onto the path up Windy Gyle. I had settled into a run walk rhythm actually keeping up and overtaking other runners, the grin was growing on my face, I was loving every second of this. The final climb up to Russell Cairn and the Trig point at 619m of Wyndy Gyle was over really quickly mainly because I was chatting to someone from Bingley Harriers.

WG2

The next parts were downhill, which crossed the border fence so technically this fell race takes in two countries; views were spectacular as rolling green hills lay out in all directions. Pace picked up as the route which followed the Pennine Way levelled out for a reasonable distance before following the old drovers route “The Street” down the back of Black Braes which was tremendous fun hurtling down arms outstretched for balance. Then another climb up and round Swineside Law which was short enough to run all the way up. The track then ambled down gently until the last steep descent of Hindside Knowe, another chance to spread out the arms and hurtle down to the road and the finishing line which as like the start, was Phil’s car. Once all but one runner was back Phil made the presentations which were all very relaxed affair by the side of the road. With the race raising £300 for mountain rescue.

When Ian Young asked me to write a race report, I struggled because the entire race was a blur. The build up from nerves and apprehension disappeared once I had climbed the first hill, to be replaced with elation and enjoyment. This was definitely just the start of my fell racing. Position? Well I was 53rd out of 66 finishers in 1:32:57 which was irrelevant as I’d beaten Lisa, my true goal of the day. I could have ran it faster on reflection which is something I’m taking into my next fell race. But what a fantastic introduction to this type of event, relaxed, friendly, and encouraging and yes, I’m well and truly hooked. And the crap bum bag that uncomfortably dug in my side bouncing about like a basketball the entire run went straight in the bin when I got home. Roll on Stanhope on July 1st.

Results:

http://www.northumberlandfellrunners.co.uk/html/raceresults/2014/WindyGyleResults.pdf