Not The Ben Weekend
Midges, Tug of War and a traditional village fate awaited three Cambridge Harriers who ventured up north on an alternative fell running weekend. Having failed to gain entry to this year's Ben Nevis race, Clem Dixon, Mark Newell and Christian Poulton travelled up to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire to participate in a couple of local fell races, all new to the Cambridge Harrier fell runners group.
The first race of the weekend, on the Saturday, was a classic local low-key fell race forming part of the Blackshaw Head Village Fete. Covering a distance of 8.9km (5.5miles) / 274m (900?) of climb the fell race winds its way over fields and open moor starting and finishing at the fete field. The weather on Saturday was as good as it gets for West Yorkshire, mostly sunny with a light breeze and dry making for good conditions under foot.
A short, fast race with only one technically challenging series of waterlogged wooden steps meant that our times were good. I finished in 5th place and bagged the M50 prize, with Clem coming in 24th and Mark a respectable 72nd.
The second race on Sunday was a far more serious affair as the Castle Carr Fell Race was an English Championship counter and consequently the field was very good. The race was both technically and navigationally challenging traversing the private estate of Castle Carr and much of Midgley Moor above Hebden Bridge. Covering 24km (15miles) / 1220m (4000?). The route was mostly unflagged and as you were expected to find your way between nine checkpoints, over rough trails, paths, open moor and fell, navigation was one of the biggest obstacles. Yours truly had two navigational upsets which cost me a few places and lengthened my race by almost half a mile. One of the most challenging aspects of the race were the tussocks that you had to run over on the moor & fell. On tired legs this proved very difficult for us all with the general post race agreement that this wasn't the most pleasant of races we had occasion to run recently. Both Clem and I took tumbles. Nothing hurt except our pride and a few minor cuts and grazes though.
With the high standard of runners this year, finishing places were further down the field than it would ordinarily have been. I was the first Cambridge Harrier to finish, in 69th place with Clem managing 174th and Mark finishing last in 210th. Considering there were 10 DNF's & timeouts this was still a very respectable placement on a tough and demanding race for us all.
Blackshaw Head Fete Tug of War
Cambridge Harriers were well represented in the fete?s traditional Tug of War competition, having been cajoled into joining a few other stragglers to form an impromptu team. As well as the raw muscle power needed, it is also a very technical sport. Unfortunately the Cambridge Harriers were lacking in both and succumbed to a narrow defeat to the local team comprised of strapping young Yorkshire lads. The sport was part of the Olympic Games from 1900 until 1920, but has not been included since. Perhaps this is something the club committee should consider introducing when our track at Sutcliffe Park re-opens in the Autumn to further broaden our track and field expertise?