Thursday Night New Members Night

On Thursday 30th November, we will be hosting a new members night. This is an ideal opportunity to come along and meet our coaching and run leader team, chat to some existing members and have a go at one of our sessions.

We will be meeting in the Pine Room next to the visitor centre from 1845 and you have a choice of a chatty ~5km run or a hill session led by one of our leaders. All abilities are welcome to either session, you are always able to work at your own level.

Tea, coffee and cake will be available after your run which will be an ideal chance for a bit more chat.

Chapelfell Top Fell Race

For a preview of the race and general race organiser chat with Charlie Baker, click here for the latest episode of On the Back Foot.

On the Back Foot; Chapelfell Top preview

Chapelfell Top Fell Race

Information for Runners

Sunday 23rd July

Men’s race 1pm start

Women’s race 2pm start

We are looking forward to welcoming you to our fell race up Chapelfell Top. The race is unmarked and goes across rough ground. Please ensure that you are wearing appropriate footwear and clothing and are prepared for the conditions. 

This race is licensed by the FRA and is run in line with their rules. GPS must not be used for navigation and no walking poles are permitted in this event. 

Kit requirements:

Race number; collect at registration

Timing dibber; collect at registration

Map; available to download on the race website, some will also be available at registration

Compass

Whistle

Waterproof top with integrated hood and taped seams

Bring and be prepared to carry depending on the weather forecast: 

Waterproof bottoms with taped seams

Hat

Gloves

Race day information

  • Car parking will be available in a field to the east of the village, £5 per car. Please car share if possible as space will be limited. What3Words https://w3w.co/depth.brambles.normal
  • Portaloo toilets will be located in the finishing field behind the cattle mart. 
  • Registration will take place in Barrington Hall on the village green and will be open from 11am. Please arrive in plenty of time to park and go through registration prior to your race start time – allow an hour.  Men’s race starts at 1pm. Women’s race starts at 2pm. 
  • Water will be at the finish. Some paper cups will be available but please bring your own bottle if you can. These can be left in the finishing field while you race. 
  • Post-race refreshments will be available to purchase from Scoops and Smiles ice cream van, Piggy Blinders burger van, Chatterbox Café, the Blue Bell Inn (offering cakes, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks) and the Golden Lion pub. 
  • Pete Bland will be at registration with his van for any last minute kit purchases. 
  • Prizegiving will take place at Barrington Hall after the completion of the women’s race (approx. 3pm). 

We look forward to seeing you on the day and hope that you have a great run! 

Fran Blackett

fblackett@outlook.com

07533366211

A weekend at the OMM Festival, Grasmere

The OMM Festival is a relatively new event and seems to be developing each year. The event centre is based in Grasmere, Lake District and the options are incredibly flexible with it advertising itself as being inclusive and family friendly. You can visit for the day; stay locally and come onto site or for the runs or talks; or you can camp (in tents or vans) on site all weekend. 

The event centre:

This was well organised with fields for vans and tents and ample portaloos! The main marquee had a well-stocked bar and a decent food provider. All registration for events took place here but it never felt busy and I don’t think I queued for anything all weekend. There were a whole range of talks happening across the weekend and although I did not attend any of these there were some that sounded interesting and had we not had the children with us we certainly would have gone along. 

The event centre

The running: 

There seemed to be a running event to suit everyone’s tastes. This year the following running events were available: 

  • 5km 
  • 10km 
  • 17km 
  • Marathon 
  • OMM Lite short (9 hours total) and long score (12 hours total)

I believe that next year they will be adding an evening fell race into the mix. 

Our weekend:

This was the first year that either Andy or I had been and I can confirm that the whole event was incredibly family friendly (I emailed prior to the event to request an early start time to help accommodate childcare and this was happily sorted out by the organisers which felt welcoming and inclusive). We arrived on the Friday evening. We were camping on site all weekend and were efficiently shown to a camping spot. It felt slightly discombobulating to be seeing the OMM banners in hot, summer sunshine and without the feeling of impending doom that normally comes with seeing them in late October. Andy and I had decided to run solo at this event and had both entered the short score (which was 5 hours on the Saturday and 4 hours on the Sunday). We had our boys with us and Andy’s parents had kindly jumped on board with a plan whereby they stayed at the YHA in Grasmere and came down to the event centre each day to look after Joss and Kenny while Andy and I ran. Huge thanks to them for this! It felt great to have the boys with us. For years they have been going off to Granny’s house or Grandma and Grandad have been coming to look after them at home while we disappear to ‘race in the mountains all weekend’ without them really having a grasp of what we are doing. The boys were so excited to come to registration with us and were fascinated by the dibbers being attached to our wrists and seeing the start and finish gates really helped them start to understand what we were doing. 

There were plenty of events taking place during the day on Saturday to keep them entertained and feeling involved. They had great fun taking part in the Teddy Dash (it was only 200m but all children got a race number). There was also an orienteering course around the fields of the event centre as well as an orienteering maze which was complete with dibbers and download so that they could see their times. This appealed particularly to our eldest who seems to have a strong competitive streak. Can’t think where that comes from.

The Teddy Dash 

A little note on what a short/long score navigation event is: 

For these events you are given a set amount of time to be out which begins when you dib at the start. As you cross the line you are given a map. On this map are many controls spread across the event area. The controls each have a number of points ranging from 10 to 50 depending on how challenging they are to get to. The game is to collect as many points, by visiting the controls and dibbing there, as you can within the time limit for your event. If you are late back then you begin to lose points. If you are more than half an hour late back then you lose all the points you collected. The winner is the person with the most points. 

Fran’s Saturday: 

As I mentioned earlier, to help stagger the times that Andy and I were out on the fells, I had negotiated an early start time of 8am. This meant I was starting with those completing the long score event (they would be out for 7 hours, I would be out for 5). This didn’t really make much difference to anyone competing but it did mean I had a trophy on my dot which Andy’s dad was tracking all morning. I was sorry to disappoint him when I finished that this was only the case as all others on the short score just hadn’t been running for as long so didn’t have as many points! The weather was clear and it was obviously going to be another hot day. It was pleasant starting at 8am but this wasn’t going to last. The organisers are working hard to make this an inclusive event and accessible to those who are not familiar with navigation events. This included a race briefing at the start where the organiser went through the usuals of tell us if you retire, make sure you have your kit with you etc and then he dropped the bombshell that you had to remain on footpaths and rights of way for the duration of the event, even when on the open fell. Normally, once on the open fell then anything goes and I spend very little time on paths as I contour and find optimal routes (well, most of the time!). This seemingly small rule change was going to take up a lot more thinking time for me. 

Pre-race briefing 

Briefing complete, it was time to dib the start, get my map and make a day plan! I have done countless events like this. In the beginning, Andy and I would always do the score courses. There is no set distance, you get as far as you can within the time, if you can’t find a control it doesn’t matter you can just move on and look for another one with no penalty so they are really great for those that are less confident on their navigation skills. However, they are stressful in that you have a lot of decisions to make about which way you are going to go and which controls you are going to visit, how long that will take you and will you be back on time. I have moved towards preferring to enter linear courses where you have to visit every control on your course in order (if you can’t find one you DNF which is the main downside!). 

Which way to go? 

So when I dibbed the start last Saturday, took the map and looked at it I was filled with a familiar panic! Which way was I going to go?! Normally a clockwise or anticlockwise loop jumps out at me but nothing did. I decided to head out on a loop that would take me up and above the event centre before looping back down to Loughrigg (CO, CM, BC, BG). 

The navigation looked straightforward and I reasoned that I would be able to get a good look at the map while I completed this loop. This worked well. I made decent progress and came up with a plan. From BG I decided I would head up Loughrigg (BB) and then down to DF to the east of Elter Water. When I got there I would look at the time and come up with a plan. I could either start heading back towards the Event Centre or head up the Langdale valley. I was toing and froing with a female pair who passed me on the ascent of Loughrigg then I caught them on the descent then together we made our way onto the road. Then I lost sight of them. Pleasingly as I arrived at checkpoint DF, they approached shortly afterwards from the opposite direction. They had gone the long way round on the road whilst I had taken a shorter if more fiddly way navigation wise. This pleased me as it is why I can perform much better in these events than a straightforward race to the gun. A little wily route choice can keep me in pace! 

Fran’s route from the summit of Loughrigg

The time was looking pretty good so I headed up Langdale valley. This meant a long stretch on the Cumbria Way, tarmac road and hard track. I was wearing Inov8 mudclaws. Not the best footwear choice it turned out (I trashed them, losing about 4 studs by the end of the day). I also got really hot. Really, really hot. By the time I reached checkpoint AE I was cooked. My heart was racing and my legs were jelly. I was now looking at the clock and wondering if 2 hours was going to be enough time to get back to the event centre. Score course anxiety kicking in! I had a steep 400m climb ahead. Normally, I reckon on doing 100m of elevation gain every 8mins or so which would have given plenty of time. But I knew I was no longer moving that well. On my way along the road I spotted a river. I topped up my soft flasks and decided to dunk my cap. This was joyous! Why hadn’t I done this earlier? On I plodded. I didn’t feel stressed. I had decided that it wasn’t worth giving myself heat stroke for. If I was feeling that rubbish, then my body was telling me something. So I just took my time. One step in front of the other and grovelled my way up the steep climb. 

I was aiming for checkpoint CC at the top and then I was on my way back. However, the checkpoint wasn’t exactly where I expected it to be (later, Andy would tell me that he had also struggled to find it as there were two parallel paths). My head was so fried by this point – I had been concentrating on my own for 4 hours – that I did not have the problem solving capabilities to fix it. I am full of regret now. I must have been so close to it! I enjoy running solo, it is challenging – and I can go where I like – but in moments like these a partner would be able to pick up the slack and help me out or tell me to get a grip and solve it! 

Checkpoint abandoned, I headed back to the Event Centre without any other real problems. 8 minutes inside the time. I definitely should have spent that 8 minutes looking for checkpoint CC! 

Finish line on day 2. This was sprinkling cold water down on me which was glorious. 

Andy’s Sunday:

After day one, I was in 2nd place on the short score course, having matched the points gained by Charles Levitt and being 2 minutes late back, so being 2 points behind.  Picking up the map there was an obvious horseshoe of Great Rigg for 140 points, but it would have been hard work picking up more than that, so I looked at the rest of the map.  It was clear heading West towards High Raise (CH) then Pike of Stickle (DH) would give good points, and lots of options on the way back in.  I saw 3 routes to High Raise, Easdale Tarn (BN) via (BO) followed by Far Easdale (BH) gave 70 points, Helm Crag (AH) gave 40 points or Greenburn (AM) gave 40 points.  I went with Easdale Tarn/Far Easdale to get some points in the bag, recognising this would mean I would probably not be able to take all the options I saw for the 2nd half of the route.

I took the green route for 70 points, rather than the pink or red for 40 points each.

Things went smoothly to High Raise, then I lost concentration on the way over Thunacar Knott, it is ground I know well, and I thought, “Thunacar Knott, I’m not on the BG, I can bypass the summit of this one to the East” I didn’t look at the map and realise the path I was on would lead me towards Pavey Ark and I had to go round past Harrison Stickle then descend before climbing towards Pike of Stickle. This error probably cost me 15 minutes, and I made it to save a few seconds by not considering the map.

Long story short.  As I was descending to Pike Howe (CB) the sole of my right shoe started to peel off, I put my glove over the toe of my shoe, but that kept coming off, tried some first aid tape, which wasn’t strong enough, then took off my left sock and put it over my right shoe.  Scott Collier did this for 1.5 days at the Saunders MM once, so I figured I would be ok for the next 2 hours.  It worked well, but faffing around probably cost another 5 minutes.  I was now much later than I planned, binned off most of my options for the way home, and headed for (DO) for another 20 points.  I misread the map in my panic incorrectly identified the correct wall corner, ended up in a jumble of drystone walls, abandoned the last planned control, and ran back to Grasmere, got lost looking for the bridge over the river and came in 12 minutes late to loose 25 points.

If I’d found the right wall corner it would have given me 20 more points and led me to a shorter run in which would have probably got me in on time to avoid the 25 point penalty and I’d have won by 8 points.  However at the end of 9 hours running there will always be some errors or sub-optimal choices and I’m pleased with how it all went.

Andy’s planned route in blue, actual route in red
Prizegiving, second place in the short score

If, after reading all this you think you might fancy coming along next year, the dates are 1st-2nd June 2024. It would be great to have a larger DFR crowd there. Ideal if you fancy a two day navigation event but don’t much fancy a cosy night spooning with your partner in a 1 man tent. However, remember, you don’t have to spend hours chasing points round the hills; enter the 5km and spend the rest of the time enjoying what the beer tent and ice cream van have to offer! 

Click here for more information here is a link to the event website  https://theomm.com/omm-festival/?v=79cba1185463

2023 Preview

Here is brief preview of key club events happening throughout this year. It is not an exhaustive list but I think includes the key fell running events of 2023.

January 

Sunday 8th – Commondale Clart – club champs, short 

February 

Saturday 4th – Wadsworth Trog -club champs, long 

Saturday 11th – Ladies on Tour to Carrock Fell, Lake District 

March 

Saturday 11th – At the Double – club champs, medium 

April

Thursday 27th – DFR organised Cockfield Chase race, RO Andy Blackett 

May

Wednesday 10th  – Cautley Horseshoe – club champs, short 

June

2-4th June OMM Lite Festival, Grasmere – a weekend with camping, food, beer and races to suit all tastes from 5km trail runs to 7 hour score course. Andy and I are taking the boys for the weekend. It’d be great fun to have a bunch of people from the club there for a relaxed running filled weekend.

More info on the OMM Lite here: https://theomm.com/omm-festival/ 

Saturday 10th – Roman Wall Show – club champs, short 

Sunday 11th – Navigation day in Hamsterley Forest, details TBC.

July 

1-2nd Saunders Mountain Marathon – the friendliest mountain marathon on the calendar. Courses to suit all abilities. Grab a partner and give it a go! https://slmm.org.uk

Saturday 1st July – Chevy Chase– club champs, long

SUNDAY 23rd JULY – DFR organised CHAPELFELL TOP ENGLISH CHAMPS RACE – clear your diaries – with the possibility of up to 500 runners, we’re going to need marshals galore (up to 10-15).

August 

Sunday 20th – Sedburgh Hills – club champs, long 

September 

Saturday 2nd – Grisedale Horseshoe – club champs, medium 

Saturday 9th – DFR organised Cronkley Fell race, RO Paul Hodgson

Sunday 10th – Lake District Mountain Trial – a classic in the fell running calendar. A chance to test your navigation and mountain craft in a long running event. https://www.ldmta.org.uk

October 

Sunday 1st – Hodgson Brothers Relay, Patterdale, Lake District – we pick our strongest male team for this prestigious event to take on the best runners from the best clubs. There is a limited number of clubs accepted to participate and a waiting list of other clubs keen to jump in. With this in mind we need to field as strong a team as possible. Clear your diaries fast lads!! 

Saturday 21st  – British Fell and Hill Relays, Keswick, Lake District – organised by Keswick AC this year so pretty easy to get to. Last year we had three teams (male, female and mixed) complete the relays which was incredible. If you’re excited to take part then put the date in your diary! 

December 

Sunday 10th – Simonside Cairns – club champs, medium 

Saturday 16th – DFR organised Bollihope Carrs race, RO Andy Blackett 

Monday 18th – DFR organised Silent Night race, RO Andy Blackett 

Kong Mountain Marathon

Fran Blackett

  • Arran, Scotland
  • August 2022

This was the first two day mountain marathon organised by the team that have been behind the ‘mini mountain marathon’ series for the past ten years or so and the first mountain marathon held in Scotland since the final LAMM in 2018. When the location was announced, it seemed rude not to go and support this new venture.

For Andy and I this event came at the end of a month long van/cycle touring family adventure along the length of the Outer Hebrides and then back down through mainland Scotland. Our participation in the event was only possible thanks to the dedication of my mum who drove up from Durham, and met us on the Arran to take over childcare duties for two days whilst we went and destroyed ourselves in the mountains.

As a result of all this, we were probably the least prepared running wise that we have ever been going into one of these events. However, this did mean that I was probably the most relaxed. The pressure was off. If I was rubbish then I had 5 weeks of little to no running to blame! The weather was set fair and as we took the short ferry ride from Ardrossan to Brodick and the mountains of Arran came into view then I felt really excited for the weekend ahead.

We were not the only Durham Fell Runners to have made the journey. Steve Lumb and Tom Carter were taking on the A course (running with separate partners), Digby Harris was on the long score course and Meghan and Rory were running together on the C course. Here is my account our Arran adventure.

Day 1 – 30km, 1541m ascent

The weather was incredible and as we set off we were in high spirits. The first few checkpoints were relatively straight forward and there were plenty of cheerful and friendly exchanges with fellow teams on the hill. Our first decision came as we looked at our route from CP 4 to 5. Andy was very taken with a route that went over an inviting and attractive looking ridge. I was more keen on a riskier route that descended below the ridge and contoured through a bog. As we mulled over ‘midge or ridge’ neither of us were keen to budge. In the end we went midge and I was relieved that it was a good line! Then from CP 5 – 6 the fun really started. It looked relatively straight forward on the map. What the map didn’t tell us was just how horrific the terrain was: tussocks, reeds, tree saplings for four long kilometres. The cheery exchanges with fellow teams were now grumblings and mutterings about how slow and grim the terrain was.

Battling our way through this sapped our enthusiasm for the game!

After finally reaching CP 6 we were heading inbound to mid camp. Although there was still a long way to go, it felt good to be heading in the right direction. One more decent climb ( I am sure it was steeper than it appears in this photo. It certainly felt it!) and then everything else was pretty straight forward until our final route choice to the final CP of the day.

Grovelling my way up this climb to a summit checkpoint

Andy was keen on the direct line. I had spotted a slightly longer route that got us off the rough ground more quickly and joined a path along to the CP which was on the path/stream junction. I was tired. I wanted to be off the hill. It seemed a safe option. Andy didn’t feel strongly about his route and so we took my line. And we were glad that we did. The direct route down off the hill to the CP went through what was marked as ‘mixed woodland’ on the map. In reality this was impenetrable rhododendrons, trees and gorse. Many teams lost a lot of time negotiating this. Finally the finish was in sight. We were very relieved to have made it.

Midcamp: As we made our way towards the camping fields we saw a guy eating his meal in the middle of the road. ‘Are the midge that bad?’ ‘Yep’. He was not wrong. The midge situation was desperate.

This picture here shows me blowing up my Neoair through my midge net. Yep. It was that grim.

A respite from the midge was provided by a Ceilidh (with bar) that had been arranged by the organisers. A room full of sweaty runners all in their hill gear giving their all to some excellent dancing must have been quite the sight.

Day 2 – 27km, 1576m ascent

I am not sure how to give an account of day 2 without it being a massive whinge but I will give it a go! This was the hardest day I have ever had on a mountain marathon. Maybe the hardest day in the mountains I have ever had! The lack of fitness played a part. My base fitness was good enough for one tough mountain day. When I asked my body to go again the next day, it did not have a lot to give.

After a glorious 400m along a path, the day got going with our first climb. Up through wet grassy tussocks which made my legs (cut to ribbons by the previous day’s fun) sting like crazy and then deteriorating into loose, grumbly rock that just came away in your hand. It’s 745am.

Me: Is it too early to lose my sense of humour?

Andy: Yes

The first climb of day 2.

CP 1 was successfully located and we tried to rally ourselves. It was another clear and beautiful day. The sight of runners silhouetted against the skyline struck me. This is a pretty crazy game to play but there are these incredible moments of peace and calm among the stress.

A brief moment of calm

We were taking each CP one at time, trying to remember to eat and taking turns to boost moral when low moments became too much. And then we reached a rising contour into a hanging valley across rough boulder and heather covered ground. This was the lowest of the low points. As we approached the ridge line to a checkpoint ‘cross on a hill’ (I think I will always remember this one) it was all too much. 

Me: I just can’t do it any more

Andy: Well I’m not going back down through that **** ground

Me: I don’t want to go back down there either

Andy: Well then you’ll have to keep going up

Me: I don’t think I can

Andy: What do you want to do then?

Me: Call for help

Andy: Fran, I am not calling Mountain Rescue

Upon reflection. I think Andy was right. To call for help was not the best course of action. He let me sit down for a few minutes, gave me a gel and we regrouped for the final push because as it had taken us so long to get to this point we were now in a race against the clock to beat the 4pm cut off. Miss the cut off and we would DNF the whole weekend. Brutal. The next checkpoint was the summit of Goatfell and then it was a long and painful descent down to the finish line. It was tight but we made it with just 10 minutes to spare. The sight of my mum and the boys at the finish line was such a joyous feeling (although they had spent so long waiting they were more interested in their snack they’d just been given!) and there was so much relief at having made it.

Joss and Kenny cheering us in to the finish
Day 2 finish – a low key end to an epic 2 days

In the end we finished 26th of 29 finishers. 14 teams DNFd so I like to count these and say that we finished 26th of 43 starters. Meghan and Rory finished 5th in the Short Score. Digby Harris finished 9th in the Long Score. Tom Carter did not finish a brutal A course. Steve Lumb’s partner was injured during day 1 on the A course so they did not complete. He ran with a new partner on day 2 (as her partner was also injured) and so completed with A course with an *!

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM)

Eskdale, 2022

What is it?

‘The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM) is a two-day mountain navigation competition (or race) that is held annually in the Lake District for teams of two runners.

The event comprises  6 linear courses of varying lengths and technical difficulty and one ‘score’ course where competitors choose which controls to visit over a 2 day total of 12 hours.

The first day finishes at a mid-way campsite. Competitors must carry the lightweight camping and safety equipment listed in the rules. Competitors need to be competent in the use of map and compass in the mountains’

How did the 2022 SLMM go?

This year the event centre was in Eskdale. A beautiful location. DFR member Joe Addison had headed over earlier in the day on Friday with his running partner, armed with beer and deck chairs ready to do some carb loading whilst soaking up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the weather was distinctly ‘unSaunders’ like (sunshine is usually pretty much guaranteed). For those of us who arrived on Friday night, heavy rain meant it was a mad dash to complete registration and then back to tents or vans to hide from the weather.

For Andy and I this was our fourth Saunders together and our eighth mountain marathon. So we have our getting ready routine pretty sorted. By this I mean Andy keeps telling me to stop faffing and aims to leave 5 mins before we actually need to leave so we passed James Osborn’s van in plenty of time on our way to the start. Andy stuck his head in to wish them good luck to be met with James and his partner Matt staring at food laid out on the van floor with James realising he had forgotten to pack anything for his breakfast on Sunday morning. It seemed best to leave them to it. James can run for 8 hours on one mini snickers bar so we weren’t overly concerned for them!

Thankfully, the worst of the weather cleared by Saturday. There were some heavy showers during the day but nothing too dramatic, the cloud stayed high enough and the wind was not as high as forecast.

Andy, myself, James, Matt and Digby were all in the Kirkfell class. Digby and his partner had a great run on Saturday, finishing top of the DFR entries. Andy and I did not have our finest day. We made some questionable navigation decisions, running 36km (3km further than James and Matt). Cue plenty of self-analysis!

In the Wansfell class, Patrick Bonnett was running with his daughter Emily. This was also the class that Joe Addison was running in.

This year the mid-camp was in Wasdale Head. It really was a spectacular location. A lovely breeze coming off Wast Water kept any midges at bay. Two camping fields meant we could all spread out and there were plenty of non-boggy, flat spaces to pitch your tent. A real treat. Although we did spend the evening staring up at Yewbarrow towering above us promising that no one was going over that in the morning!

Patrick’s camp
If you ever come to a Saunders, don’t camp next to Patrick. He always has the gourmet food. And isn’t up for sharing.
Patrick enjoying his gourmet grub.

On Sunday, Digby had another strong day and finished well in 8th place. In consoling ourselves on Saturday night, I told Andy that we always have a strong second day and we did have a much better day. We concentrated a lot better and continued to move OK. We came within two minutes of the next pair but this was not enough to make up for Saturday’s losses and move us up any places.

James and Matt, Kirkfell, start of day 1
Fran and Andy, Kirkfell, end of day 2.
Patrick and Emily, Wansfell, finishing day 2

Overall, it was another fantastic event. Always so well organised. It is hard to describe the intensity of spending two days out in the hills hunting for checkpoints but I find it such a welcome relief from the everyday. I would be no good going for a spa weekend. I would just lie there thinking about all the other things I should be doing. For me, these two days of pure mountain fun are such a treat.

‘A great weekend in a rarely visited part of the Lakes. Well organised, friendly and competitive enough to make for a challenging couple of days but without being too ‘hair shirt’ Patrick Bonnett

‘Another fabulous weekend at the Saunders hunting down checkpoints, this time in Eskdale and surrounds. We were blessed with an overnight camp beside Wastwater to debate the day’s route choices over a beer. A civilised and inclusive event catering for people of all abilities’ Digby Harris

‘A great way for like-minded individuals to have as much fun as they can and eat as much rehydrated food as they can possibly carry. It can be a ‘leisurely’ holiday or a real challenge and anything in between.’ Joe Addison

‘Matt and I both agreed in the run up to the event that we would take it easy. Matt was recovering from a ruptured Achilles a couple of years ago and I was still recovering from a round of tendinitis. Neither of us were on our A-game. It started well and we were moving well together. The Blacketts were only 5 minutes behind so we could hear their intimidating calls at the early checkpoints. We made some great route choices through the day that played out well despite our relaxed effort. Only one nav error, which is pretty good for me! Matt had his poles out most of the time that left me to do the nav – a risky move! Overnight camp on the side wastewater was incredible. Just enough breeze to keep the midges away and good chat with everyone else. Day 2 and Matt was struggling a bit with his hip. We decided to walk back. The route choice changed from ‘fastest’ to ‘easiest’ and we had a nice day in the hills. Overall a great weekend with great people and plenty of hours in the hills. I give Saunders Mountain Marathon 5*. Would recommend.’ James Osborn

If reading this has tempted you to think about having a go then we have plenty of club members with incredible mountain marathon experience. I would not even like to guess how many Mark Bevan, Alan Hunt, Patrick and Steve Lumb among others have done between them and I know they would be happy to answer questions/give encouragement.

Roll on the next one; Kong Scottish Mountain Marathon on Arran http://kongmountainmarathon.org.uk Entries open until 20th August. I can’t wait. 

Ladies on Tour

This morning a group of ladies from our Tuesday sessions (plus special guest Clare O) had a wonderful run from Reeth. We had the wind to our backs as we made our way up on to Fremington Edge and then, sheltered by the wall, had a lovely run along the ridge. Then came the fun bit! It is such a wonderful descent down a springy, grassy path before a short, steeper technical section. The section along by the river is always more undulating than you would like it to be but we were back in Reeth before we knew it. A fabulous, relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable run out!

DFR Ladies Nights are up and running

It was not planned that our very first Durham Fell Runners Ladies session would take place on International Women’s Day but it felt pretty powerful that it did. 

Having recently completed my Leader in Running Fitness course it was my main aim to set up these sessions as a way of making that leap into joining a new running club a little less intimidating and for new female members. The vision is that these sessions are accessible to all, regardless of current fitness levels, with the focus being on getting out into the forest, building confidence and just taking in the magic that running somewhere remote gives.

And so it was that last night thirteen brave ladies took the plunge and came to Hamsterley Forest for the very start of this adventure. It was a lovely early spring night with little wind and a lovely moon peeping through the trees as we completed our warm up then set off for a lap of the Gruffalo trail where we learned and practised the art of looping back. When we run out this will mean that no one is left behind and that everyone is able to keep moving at their own pace. Then we completed a paired activity with the focus being on maintaining a consistent pace. It is fair to say that everyone absolutely smashed it with some very impressive timing. Then we had a cool down and before we knew it the session was finished. 

 A huge thank you to everyone who turned up – you were fantastic.    See you at the next session on 22nd March.    If you have any questions then please email me at fblackett@outlook.com.   If you fancy joining us then come along for our next session, we meet at 1900 in the main Hamsterley Forest car park.   

Thank you for a truly inclusive first session. And having the moon out and listening to the river added to the magic.

Rachel