It was the most perfect of February days. A clear, vivid and vibrant light cast its rays over the Lakeland fells today, lighting up the Golden hues that mark these late days of Winter. Following on from yesterdays blustery and squally day, the winds had fallen light and the ground was frozen firm. Today was a good day for a fell race.
The ‘Golden Pearl’ was a specially extended version of the Reston Scar Scamper, organised by Pete Bland to celebrate his 50 years of marriage and 30 years of the inconic running shop that bears his name. To mark the occasion, the race was to be double the usual distance, two laps of the Reston Scar fellside.
The pace was brisk leading out through the narrow back lanes of Staveley, I was instantly out of my comfort zone, hard running along the tarmac lanes that run towards the Kentmere valley. The air was cold as I jostled amongst the other runners.
As we neared the weir on the River Kent, the route veered left, striking up hill, initially on a concrete track, before picking up the fell path that led onto the open fellside. The field bunched together as road speed gave way to fell-speed, i felt happier as I tagged in behind in a small group a couple of hundred of metres behind the main front pack.
The race soon settled into a currently familiar rythymn, my legs were tired even on moderate ascents but I didnt give any ground, as soon as the incline eased or gave way to moderate descent I would be briskly past by a burst of runners sat on my heels. The pace felt hard, I tried to take in the awe-inspiring views across to High Street and te central fells, but I couldnt, this race was hurting. Momentarily I even questioned what the hell I was doing.
Leading down to Jebbs Gully, the ground steepened. I came into my own, passing four or five runners as I took the direct and fast line straight across a steep drop of tussocks. A few would pass me again once the flat has resumed, as we jostled for position. Pulling uphill once more, Sharon Taylor who would go onto be first lady, pulled away. I just didnt have the stamina and coming down the moderate descent towards Staveley I was fighting, stiff and defensive, unable to open up. All that was required now was to go around again.
If anything the second lap was easier than the first, the field was spread out a little more, and despite the constant chase of other runners around me, I took solace in the line of runners far behind. By now I was well and truly warmed up, stashing my windshirt (which I had only worn due to the fact I had forgotten my bum-bag!) as I started the climb once more out of the valley. I tried to run most of the way, reminding myself of the pain on training runs earlier in the week as I ground up the fellside.
Again, a steady stream of 3 or 4 runners past me on the relatively flat path across the open fellside, only for me to pass them all again on the steep descent, slightly less in control on the second round than the first, but with the same effect. This time only a couple would pass me again, the descent from Reston Scar the second time around being a little faster than the first but still not overly quick. Before long I was back pounding the tarmac, I tried to focus on the road ahead and knuckled down, knowing full-well this was not my strongpoint.
Streaming around the back of the millyard, there were only a few hundred yards left to go. Only 20 or so runners milling around the finish. That would do for now.
‘Golden Pearl’ Reston Scar: 11.25 Km, 600m ascent. Time: 1:05:31 Position 24th