It was a weekend for hardy souls on the hills and also disappointment with a large number of races and events cancelled. One of the most significant casualties was the Edale Skyline which was the first counter in the English Fell Running Championship. A local race to me, I’d planned to be out supporting a number of friends running but, as you can see from this video , when I went out for my normal Friday morning run, I had serious doubts whether the race would go ahead. With high winds, drifting snow and impassable roads, race organiser Ian Fitzpatrick had no choice but to pull the plug on the race. Despite some unbelievably ill conceived moaning by some individuals on the FRA forum, he definitely made the right decision. Top Dark Peak Fell Runners Jude Jepson and Heather Marshal headed out onto the course and took over two hours to reach Win Hill. Judging from this, it’s more than likely that none of the field would have made the cut-off at Mam Nick. I set out with friends from Chinley to attempt to reach Mam Nick and we were turned back by Arctic winds and 12 ft drifts before we even reached Rushup Edge.
One race did happen though as the Trailplus “Cumbrian Commotion” remarkably went ahead at Grizedale Visitor Centre.
115 teams managed to make their way to the venue and were greeted with a winter wonderland of, in places, biblical proportions. The final briefing from Magner gave way to a spontaneous mass snowball fight, evidence of which here shows that everyone was out to enjoy themselves, whatever the conditions.
A short, but testing, opening run stage of just over 2km led into a dramatically shortened mountain bike leg. Short it may have been in distance (c12km) but certainly not in terms of pure graft and lung power required. Not that the conditions were preventing a storming performance from Team Haglofs UK who were soon extending a commanding lead.
The comparative calm of the event hub gave way to a raging and biting easterly wind on top of Carron Crag as teams ran up and over the spot and down to the kayaking challenge. This too had to be curtailed with a course loop set very much within a more sheltered bay area close to a Narnia-esque Machell’s Coppice.
And then the return…a gruelling climb back up over the fell and down to the finish. In final acknowledgement to the conditions, the usual cargo net scramble was omitted…well it was buried beneath 10 inches of snow.
Team Haglofs winning time of 2hrs 24mins 36 secs gave them a 12 minute margin over the Transition Tramps-Mark 2. As if to epitomise the commitment of so many, the winning all-female team, Ruff Riders, made it all the way up from London.
And if the performances on course were impressive they were matched by a host of marshals, medics and water safety personnel, whose efforts ensured that all in all, there was not so much “commotion” in Cumbria after all.
Footnote: Event organisers, TrailPlus, offered a free transfer to those teams opting not to travel and the vast majority have already opted to Cumbria for 2014.
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