Lesley Pymm reports: I ran this before many years ago and found it very hard, but enjoyable. Soon after I entered, I had an e-mail informing me that the rules on equipment had been tightened up by Fell Runners Association and that all runners had to carry (or wear) full body waterproof cover, hat, gloves, compass, whistle and a map. This turned into quite an expensive race as I had to get a new bag to carry it all in. Then I found out that some runners had not been allowed to run in a recent FRA race as they did not have sealed seams on their jackets. I managed to get a decent jacket on ebay from a man who bought it because it was required in an event and he had never actually used it.
Anyway, properly kitted out I duly turned up at the hotel where race HQ was and hung around waiting to amble off to the start. There were no others from BvH, although I did see some people I knew from BRAT and some of the Shropshire clubs. It was a bit worrying when I realised that a lot of the people I know who run at my sort of pace were marshals.
The start was different to last time I ran there, and much further away. We all gathered in a clearing in the woods at the bottom of the Wrekin for the race briefing and then were moved along to where we actually started. Soon we were off and climbing gently. That didn’t last long and the climbing became steeper and steeper. On the top we just did a short loop and then were going back downhill on scree. I remembered this and was trying to stay upright. A man who was behind me charged past and then suddently landed on his backside. It wasn’t long before I joined him. Everytime I tried to get up again I slipped over, so decided that discretion is the better part of valour and went down on my bum.
On the forestry path at the bottom a marshal assured me that my shorts had withstood that decent and that I was decent (clever??) and I trundled along again to go uphill at the same place that we had climbed up the first time. The man in front of me was using branches to haul himself up and one broke as I got level with him and overtook. This time, when we got to the top we turned right and ran along the ridge. The faster runners were coming back at this stage and shouting encouragement. I saw the three BRATs doing well, but couldn’t see anyone in front going in my direction. At least I knew that I wasn’t last!
Another steep downhill. I didn’t remember this one as being difficult, but it was this year. I think it was wetter underfoot and more slippery. I did some of this on my backside too! After that there was some lovely running through woods and then a climb back up again. There were people out walking by this time and they were encouraging. It was very misty and hard to tell exactly how far I had to go. Eventually the trig point loomed out of the mist and I was on the top and going along the ridge for the last time.
The final downhill was not too slippery and I managed to do it all upright. It was lovely running and then I went past the point where we had started and knew that I must be somewhere near the finish. A bit further on and I was there! What a lovley run with a total clim of about 2,400 feet. My time was about 30 minutes faster than last time I ran it. The course was more slippery and, although slightly shorter – not 30 mins shorter, so I was well pleased.
Back at the race HQ there were sarnies and chips which were included in the race entry. We all got a buff. I was 1st W60. I really knew about this run for the first couple of days of the following week as my quads were screaming at me when I was on my bike. I managed to jog on the Wednesday and did a track session on Thursday. I didn’t actually use my new jacket, but at least I now have it for other FRA events!