Carrock fell is situated in the Northern Fells and on its summit sits an ancient hill-fort, though not many details are known about this. The fell itself consists of bouldery slopes surrounded by smooth grass and artificial mounds.
Sounds delightful doesn’t it?.. Well lets see how delightful it is when you get up on a Sunday morning, travel down to the start of the race and get told to run up it with poor visibility, sideways rain and gale force winds that are capable of pushing me backwards off the damn thing. Oh and don’t forget to run over and say hi to its wee neighbour High Pike whilst you’re at it ey! Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good fell race, but these conditions are something I have never had to cope with whilst being way too far out of my comfort zone.
The first climb up the side of Carrock Fell was enough to put me off for life. In fact I nearly turned around 5 times to go back down and say never again. My lack of ability, experience and fitness dawned on me within the first few hundred metres of climbing and I found myself near the back of the pack fairly quickly. Reaching the summit gave no let off from the strong head winds and heavy rain, though there were some spirit lifting and extremely dedicated/bonkers marshals standing up there giving me a sense of hope. The race became easier from this point in. I knew once we were up there then the hardest part had been completed. I managed to stay with 2 girls who had a lot more local knowledge than me, this turned out to be a somewhat crucial part of finishing the race in one piece and with no major dramas.
From the summit of Carrock Fell we needed to make our way across the ridge to High Pike. Sounds fairly simple really unless there’s bog, more bog and even more bog. Anything that once resembled a path now resembled a stream and don’t even bother trying to work out where the hell you are by looking around you because you can’t see anything but fog. This is where the girls come in useful. It became clear that we had made something of an unspoken pact to stick together and continuously get lost just to make ourselves that bit more miserable. Had we not stuck together at least one of us would be still sat on the top of that fell wondering when some hot man in a helicopter would be coming to save us.
One of the girls carried a geet fancy GPS handheld thingy with the pre-loaded route on. Though that just seemed to show us that we were not where we were supposed to be. I had a damp paper map, a slight bit of common sense and managed to get a vague sense of direction after a man popped out of nowhere and told us where the summit of High Pike was. Of course, it took another two whole minutes to get lost again when we saw two marshals jumping up and down in the distance. I can only assume they were thinking ‘Hurry up’ whilst shouting ‘yeyyy, well done ladies’. The wind was now almost behind us and the rain subsided allowing me to find a few moments of peace on the fells, a feeling you cannot find elsewhere. From the summit of High Pike there was a lovely fast descent towards the finish line, the first time the wind had actually came in useful. Though it was far from drama free, as I decided to go diagonally across marshland, stopping inches from taking part in my very own duathlon. Finally at the finish, with some very patient Saltwell Harriers waiting for me, it was time to head straight back home with some of Paul Richardson’s dad jokes to keep us only slightly entertained ?
Overall a challenging race with shit weather and shit jokes. Finished off with a shit time and finding out Iain went and got cake at the end and didnt bring me any.. nasty! ha!
Fell race series points-1
Saltwell Harriers meet two days a week for up to three sessions. All sessions are led by running leaders. All sessions begin and end at the Gateshead Leisure Centre on Alexandra Road. Members have FREE USE of the brand new onsite showers and changing facilities