It was a rather small contingent of Cambridge Harriers which this year ventured to the Isle of Wight to take part in the Fell Running Championship Series which is run under FRA Rules and incorporating the SEAA Fell Running Championships in which you have to complete all 3 races to qualify.
Largely due to the late announcement of the fell series taking place, lack of accommodation and various injuries sustained, only Clem Dixon, Graham Maynard, Pat Austin and Christian Poulton made it across the Solent to the Isle of Wight and Ventnor for the first two fell races held on Saturday 11th and the final third race on Sunday 12th September.
These races are usually well attended by London clubs & this year Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets and Serpentine managed to send reduced but over still quite sizeable groups with the total number of runners over the weekend competing was 157. Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets again this year had a clean sweep in the team competition winning both the men’s and women’s team prizes.
As in many previous years the weather in Ventnor benefited from it’s own metrological micro-climate with fine, warm, light winds and dry conditions with plenty of sunshine between intermittent cloud cover. Perfect racing conditions.
Race 1 - St Boniface Down (3.8km / 235m)
For the 1st race of the weekend, all four of us competed on Saturday morning over a short but very steep up and down looped course, it starts on the Ventnor sea front with a lung busting climb up through the town centre and then onto the south facing grassy slope of St Boniface down via a stepped pinch point which thankfully this year wasn’t too congested and then a short loop around a radio tower before ending with a short but very steep fast downhill decent to the finish at St Catherine’s School.
Race 2 – The Ventnor Horseshoe (12km / 443m)
The 2nd race of the series, the Ventnor Horseshoe, takes place on Saturday afternoon so you have about 3.5 hours to rest and recover and is a longer route with the same start and finish as the 1st race but after the pinch point the rout changes to an extended loop heading inland over the top of the downs run over a mix of undulating trail, track and along part of an old railway line ending in a series of stiles with a particularly nasty set of very steep steps to navigate at the mid-point. Due to lack of maintenance and use this year we all found that the paths and trails were quite overgrown and we all came away with minor scrapes and scratches to tour legs and arms
Once on the top of the downs it’s a gallop along a gravel path which leads to the radio mast and the same steep grassy downhill sprint to the finish at the school.
Only two of us, Clem Dixon and myself competed in this race and due to a poor navigational decision on the part of a section of the leading pack, of which I luckily didn’t make myself, I was gifted a top three podium finish much to my amazement as I ran into the school to find out I was placed third.
Race 3 – The Wroxall Round (21km / 487m)
The 3rd and final race, the Wroxall Round is held on Sunday morning. Clem and myself ran also this race but we were joined by Graham Maynard. The start of the race is again at the sea front but with the course heading along the sea front before rising a little more gradually as it heads inland to form a large circular loop taking in half of the same route as the 2nd race before finishing at the school.