Few days to go before Manchester Marathon. Have I done enough? Will there be a wall at 22 miles?
Last Sunday was my last race before Manchester, an easy 10k would do. No, a British Championship Fell Race.
Every year Eryri Harriers make a pilgrimage to Northern Ireland for a fell race. Didn’t go last year because it was a medium distance race the week before London Marathon. This year’s race was a short. According to the details it was 6 miles and 850m of ascent. What could go wrong…
The mist descended, it was raining, the wind was blowing. Couldn’t see the summit from the start line.
The race started at noon, I took my usual place on the start line, somewhere near the back!
Once we were out of the woods and on the mountain, navigation was going to be the key. The map showed a gap in the wall and then straight up to the first summit, Millstone. So why, like a lemming, did I follow 4 or 5 runners in front of me and turn left? Lack of confidence navigating? Maybe.
I’d overtaken Maggie Oliver in the woods. I was to meet up with her again after the group I was with eventually turned to go up the mountain, that was a couple of minutes lost. Maggie and I stayed together until the summit. After the summit we agreed to run together on the descent. Compass out, a bearing of 45 degrees and off we go. Our target was a quarry, taped off for safety but also as a handrail to find CP4. After stopping a few times to check the map we spotted the quarry, ding dong, navigated perfectly. Run down through the woods and head to the finish line. 2 hours and 6 minutes, slowest 6 miles ever. Except I did 6.74, that was the lemming bit after going through the wall.
Talking to others at the finish made me realise my distance wasn’t too bad, there were stories of 7, 8 and even 9 miles. People coming off the mountain and down the wrong valley.
In the end, after the results had been veified, 15 disqualified for not making every checkpoint, I was 196 out of 252 starters, happy with that!