Hexhamshire Hobble

Running for DFR today: Meghan McCarthy (30th), Marie-Louise Ridley (47th) Jim Clapp (53rd), Fran Blackett (71st) 

We had a good turnout of runners for DFR at the Hexham Hobble today. Given the events and challenges of the last week I think that we were all feeling extra grateful to the organisers and marshals for getting this race put on. The Hexham Hobble is a great route of about 16km with roughly 400m ascent. It is always incredibly well marshalled and, at points, flagged making it an excellent introduction to fell racing if you have never done one before. In fact, it was my very first fell race back in 2013. I ran it again in 2014 but then hadn’t returned until today. When I entered on a whim a few weeks ago I was imagining a lovely, crisp winter morning with all bogs and puddles frozen over. I should have known better. Andy always bets his left testicle that there will be snow at the Hobble. Although the weather was pretty kind (just a bit of an icy headwind on the second half…), the conditions underfoot were pretty horrific: wet, slippy mud; icy patches; soft snow (not the nice frozen kind that you can run along); slushy, FREEZING cold puddles and bogs. I was full of regret at deciding not to wear waterproof socks. The first climb is the worst, steep up the road out of Allendale and then it levels off as you turn off the road onto tracks and trods across the fell. Then it is undulating until you hit a middle road section with a steep down and then up back onto the fell before a final road section as you descend back into Allendale and the finish. As per the race organisers instructions everyone dispersed quickly at the finish so I can only assume that everyone had a great time! And the ladies managed to scoop the team prize so that was an exciting bonus! 

Thanks to Tom Bentley for the photos.

Leg 10, Old A66 nr Troutbeck to Mosedale Road end

Having negotiated a herd of excitable young cows Dawn and I arrived at the ascent of Souther Fell. The bracken was as heinous as we’d expected! We bashed on through it and eventually reached grass and then our first summit of the leg. Then a lovely run along to the col before the longer climb up Blencathra which was unusually quiet. Just one tent near the summit. Dawn called the young man out of his cosy sleeping bag to come and take a picture of us! Then we had the lovely descent down to Mungrisdale Common. It was such a joy to be on the grass after yesterday steep and rocky ground. The rest of the leg was pretty straight forward with good going and a few short climbs. Before we knew it we had reached the summit of Bowscale Fell, our final Wainwright of the leg. Then it was another fabulous grassy descent down to the road to hand over to Graham and Tom D.  

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Leg 10; Fran and Dawn

Dawn and I had recced this leg several times together. As we sat in her car in Rydal watching Rory and Tom make their way to the handover point we knew exactly what was coming! We could also see it was going to be another scorching day. As we made our final preparations I tried to savour the feeling of being cold as I tried to apply suncream to legs covered in goosebumps! Soon enough we were on our way. The hills around Great Rigg, Fairfield and Seat Sandal were busy with runners taking part in the Lakeland 3 Day mountain marathon. On the first part of the climb of Seat Sandal a group of three guys flew past us. We recognised Ricky Lightfoot but had no idea this was Finley Wild on his BGR record attempt! We’d probably have tried harder to get out of the way we’d known. The rest of the route went pretty smoothly. The climb back up from Low Pike was as brutal as ever, probably more so in the heat. As was the final rocky, rising contour to Middle Dodd. I think we’d probably been on track to be on time but this and the final climb up Red Screes did for me and we lost about ten minutes I think. A final run down the steep descent to Kirkstone, dodging the many tourists, took us to the end of our leg. 

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