On the 1st January when most sensible people were still nursing a hangover, others were running on the Town Moor or up at Morpeth, I decided to have another crack at Fell Running. This time it was the Captain Cooks Race down in lovely Cleveland. Having dragged Lyndsey out of bed for moral support and company, we headed south expecting to be the only Saltwellians. Little did I know that Tim Foster had also had the same daft idea, with Keith Wood there in an advisory role. This basically meant standing at the top of the hill and shouting when we got near, which was very welcomed.
After queuing up for the pub, sadly just to get my number, and wishing Tim all the best for the race, I lined up in the main street of the village for the mass start. Not being particular familiar with fell running I lurked in the middle of the pack waiting for the off. This was a school boy error because I soon realised, as the swarm of people bounded up the road towards the fell, that I had started too far back and could not get up to speed. It wasn’t long though before I would have given anything for speed. As the roads gave way to a farm track, then to a muddy path and then to what can only be described as a near vertical ascent up through a wood, the speedometer was tittering above zero, not helped by the copious amounts of food and alcohol consumed over the Christmas period. It quickly became a case of just get up by any means necessary. Definitely need to work on uphills. It wasn’t long though until Captain Cooks Monument loomed on the Horizon and the hard bit was done. The terrain flattened and I managed to pick up my pace once again and with the encouraging bellows of Keith “Come on Saltwell” echoing in my ears, I got the bit between my teeth and set off on the downhill section, arms and legs windmilling all over the place. I must have being doing something right as I picked up a lot of places and continued to do so on the road section which was sandwiched between the fell and the woods that made up the last bit of the course.
In typical Saltwell style i.e. not really doing a reccy of the route or taking a watch to gauge the distance, I continued to push on gaining a few more places, including three places when I made an audacious passing manoeuvre coming of a style. Then as I was going for another pass I rounded a corner and realised I was at the finish. Great in one sense but not in another as I still felt like I had plenty to give. Second school boy error of the day, know the course, know the distance and know my pace.
After dusting myself off and handing out the obligatory handshakes, I found Lyns who had been waiting for me at the end who proceeded to give me the usual debrief….well done baby you did great but some of the people who beat you really look like they shouldn’t be able to best you. Cheers.
It wasn’t long before Tim came bounding over the line to complete the Saltwell finishers, in an excellent time of 44.05 and position 114. For those that are interested I was 69th in a time of 41.12.
Plenty of room for improvement but a great race and I think the fell running bug is definitely starting to bite.