All the fun of The Fellsman 2015

The Fellsman 2015

Having had such a great time on the Fellsman on 25th March with Duncan and Dave, I thought it about time to write up a short review of the great day that was had by all of us. The Fellsman has been running for 53yrs and has somewhat of a reputation for being over rough terrain and in generally poor weather for some reason, the 61 miles of it – 100km being over the Northern and Western Yorkshire Dales over rough ground, bogs and only faint tracks when you are lucky..

The weather forecast for the 25th was terrible after a week of solid good weather before it, typical apparently and we all met up the night before the event in Threshfield, sleeping in vans in a field next door to the Finish line which would be handy at the end of a long day.. Buses were arranged to take us to the start in the morning but due to our relaxed approach to registering, we were biletted onto a particularly early bus to the start, and after a good feed and a kit check the 3 of us retired to sleep, waking at 0430 hrs so we had enough time for breakfast and to cook the spectacular Bacon Avocado and Mushroom Pittas that Duncan suggested we take on the bus with us.. Genius food to start the day…

Anyways, after no sleep on the bus we dragged ourselves into the start, in various levels of dread/excitement and wrapped up against the foul weather outside. My TNF  Waterproof Jacket was straight on, as well as extra layers to keep warm in and a last cup of coffee nailed before we poured outside into the starter field and a “Ready,Set,Go” type of start that was refreshingly old school..

Steady away was the order of the day as we jogged and power marched out and up towards Ingleborough feeling great although full of suspense as we were all first timers, and Duncan hadn’t run further than 21 miles in training and this was his first ultra event. Feeding and hydration ( apart from the rain wetting us) is the way to keep going on the long ones so we were prepared with a plethora of snacks,gels and bars for the jolly that lay ahead.

We were creaming along happily until descending from Ingleborough towards The Hill Inn in thick cloud and instead of following our own knowledge of the route, carried on after around 20 people heading way to far East for a km or so until we ground to a halt, checked the maps and headed back on to the route – a salutary lesson in using ones common sense and not just following the pack – I hope the 20 odd people found their way back on route at some point, a bit disheartening to stray so early on….

Through rain and cloud and with some quality humour we rumbled on over whernside in much better weather than when we scouted it, even though the weather was dire anyway – cloud low and chilly wind with soothing drizzle…Wwe were all wel wrapped as we cracked onto Kingsdale, Gragareth ( a steep little climb) then rolled over to Great Coum and down to Dent for some welcome refreshments of sausage rolls, cheese rolls, hot beans and tea and coffee, the snacks at the aid stations all the way round were manned by cool and helpful people and great snackage…(Thanks everyone by the way- awesome)..

20 miles plus in and feeling OK we climbed out of the valley back up towards Whernside to engage in bog trotting again with tussock wrestling to pootle our way over to Blea (Bleak!?) Moor by which time the weather had improved and it was snowing, 4 seasons in a day. We thrashed it down into Stone House back in Dent Dale to check in and feast again at the half way station and a long climb ahead.

Duncan was feeling the burn and the distance in his legs due to a bash on the leg he sustained on Great Coum and personally I always find the few km up to the half way mark  of any big trip out pretty hard psychologically, despite feeling Ok with forward movement..The lighter skies and  crossing of the half way point drove us forward for a long section over a weave of hills and bogs again with back tracking, chilliness, bogs and tussocks with some great views back over the Dales as the weather cleared..

Checkpoints and bogs rolled on , we were now hyper aware of our bodies – alert for hunger, dehydration, cold, fatigue, psychological doubts, too fast too slow, night fall imminent, one foot going in front of the other in relentless forward progress with lashings of dry humour as we approached what we perceived as the key section of the route, across  the dreaded Fleet Moss!!!……

In fact after a fine feast and some very hander insider knowledge we headed out onto what looks like impenetrable peat bogs, and skirted sneakily along the edge of them on a really sweet little trail for miles (a long section this one, until we found a quad bike trail to contour round to a hidden checkpoint then a direct line off the feels and down to the Cray checkpoint by the road after a nifty check in at Hells Gap ahead of a large group of folks we had overtaken on our bog traverse of joy and marvel. There is nothing like a load of tussocks and bog to encourage a good sense of humour and all sorts of strange leg sensations when you are 40 plus miles into a run… Marvellous stuff …

So rocking into Cray meant another fine feast and also a standby whilst we were grouped into bunches of a minimum of 4 and also required to don full length leg coverings for night on the hills – rules are rules, but actually i t was nice to change into my compression tights and swap into a dry pair of socks ( at least they were for about 20 minutes)… Heading out with Richard to make our we group into a 4 the light began to fail on Buckden Pike as we piled up the front in as direct a line as possible once again, leaving our torches turned off for the whole travers to Park Rash bar the last 2 0r 3 km so that following teams wouldn’t see our track – we were heading again in straight lines across bogs whilst keeping in mind the restricted areas on route that must be respected..

A last feast at Park Rash and we prepared for the final hill, legs aching with every step forward to be honest but at least by now they have reached an even level whereby the get no worse and the aching is tolerable as long as you just keep moving forward….

A heavy Frost, beautiful starry night and great views back across the Dales fells awaited, with a distance string of torch light beams dotted hither and thither across the fells to remind us of the other people who were going to be out for way longer than us … Hard core indeed!!

Descending from Great Whernside brought with it the usual spills and thrills of frosted bogs and waist deep mud at times , all great on fully battered legs – not at all a struggle – but the end is calling one onwards now and we all new that we would make it as a team…

Epic track from Capplestone Gate that just went on forever following mysterious flashing orange beacons to guide one across the empty and quite featureless moorland  until one rocks up to Yarnbury behind Grassington… Ans is it all over  – Not Yet – There is a load of tarmac which by now was playing havoc with legs and providing much entertainment for us as we hopped and skipped slowly down on delicate quads into Grassington, maintaining our fine sense of humour until all of  a sudden ( actually another hour or so later) we rolled up towards the Finish Line at Threshfield School and Daves Partner Mel awaiting to lead us into the finish – Awesome day out in a great place, with good mates and great views, lovely weather and a simple task to occupy us for the day:-

Start at A and Get to B via such and such… Simple and elegant and such fun to complete the trip. A great mision and I am really pleased that we all made it together…. Looking forward to more of these type of adventures this summer and glad that I have got a 100km trip into my legs early season to hopefully set me up for some more adventures both in races and just out in the hills…

Goals for the Summer:-

The Paddy Buckley Round

Gran Trail Courmayeur

Royal Ultra Sky Marathon – Gran Paradiso – Piemonte Italy

And to have loads of fun, run and bike lots and make the most of life generally.

Keep pushing on and enjoying the mountains….

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