Curbar Commotion Fell Race – A million miles from London 2018

Two days prior to this race Id received some very exciting news, something I wasn’t expecting at all…….Id won the chance to run in next years London Marathon!!

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy road running, doesn’t run much further than 10 miles, and races 2 or 3 times a month, running a marathon isn’t something I’m interested in at all. However, seeing posts on Instagram of people taking part in London earlier this year made me jealous, not for the actual 26 mile run but the atmosphere that surrounds the event and the community…..I wanted to taste that.

I applied for a place through the ballot, knowing the chances we’re slim but just trying my luck anyway. Id resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t get in and forgotten all about it until I started seeing all the disappointed posts on Instagram of the unfortunate people who hadn’t got in this time. It was then when I checked my emails, and was completely shocked when I sore the email saying I had been successful in the ballot! I was speechless and continued to be for days after, I was buzzing with the news and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Curbar fell start

Two days on and I’m back in familiar surroundings, stood on the start line of a 10 mile race around a very wet and muddy Peak District, about to spend over an hour slipping and sliding on very boggy terrain and climbing nearly 1400ft…….this couldn’t be any further away from the London Marathon if you tried, but this is me and what I love doing more than anything.

I didn’t feel particularly up for the race beforehand but there’s not many races I do to be honest, I always feel a little tired and unprepared before most races I do. I positioned myself near the front as usual though and was ready to attack it like I attack all my races, and that’s to run hard and keep up with the top 10 if I can.

For the first 1/4 mile it went to plan and I was running with all the usual faces that I compete with, but then I started flagging slightly and dropping off the pace of the others which was worrying so early on. About 2 miles in and I noticed that the runners that I try and keep with and usual spend all race jostling with were gone, already pretty much out of touching distance.

I was running on my own the for a few miles as we made our way up to the summit, just being able to see the pack I wanted to be but knowing I wasn’t going to get them. Then from nowhere, two other runners came past me, which gave me a kick up the arse to push myself more and try and keep with them. For some reason though I had nothing to give on the climbs, and the two runners slowly left me behind. This started playing on my mind and I was beating myself up and starting to lose confidence. My strength in fell running is the downhills, its here where I make up time and positions, but the course doesn’t really have any long downhills so it didn’t play to strengths and I was struggling.

As we came into the last mile we had left the mud and bogs behind and had hit the tarmac, which was the terrain for the final leg back to the finish. I could hear more footsteps behind me which really pushed me on, as after the race I’d had the last thing I wanted was to lose more places. With about 1/2 mile remaining we came on to the main road where the finish was, so it was a fast flat finish. The footsteps I could hear behind me soon started passing me, I could feel my shoulders slump as he went past as I was gutted Id lost another place. I wasn’t having this again though, I was getting that place back!! seeing the finish line about 200 meters ahead I put the afterburners on, stretching the legs and pushing the shoulders back, a glided past him and raced ahead. I just wish Id of had that strength and determination 6 miles ago.

Curbar fell results

As I came through the finish line I was spent, physically and mentally exhausted. Not for a long time have I had a race like that where I have argued with myself all the way round, putting myself down and getting frustrated. I congratulated all the other runners that had finished in front of me and had our usual analysis of the race for a few minutes whilst we waited for the results to be posted up. To my utter surprise when the results were shown, Id finished 20th and in 1:13:39, which was quite an improvement on last years result at this race. The result made me feel a little better about the race as I was ready to forget about it and wipe it from my memory, although the result was better than last year and what I was expecting, I was still unhappy that I wasn’t further up the field with the runners I’m usually with, and disappointed with how I couldn’t attack the course like I wanted to.

Regardless of this I still enjoyed the race, its a great course and the wet and muddy conditions made it an exciting race, I just need to improve on my hills and get stronger. Its fair to say that I didn’t think about London once on this run, and I haven’t thought about it much since either. I know I’m going to love taking part in the marathon and being involved in it all, but for me its all about fell running and training to get better at this, as this is my domain and what I want to progress at. Time to knuckle down and get stronger for the next one in a couple of weeks.

Longshaw Fell Race 2017- The reason I love fell running

With just over two years experience of fell running, and only 39 races under my belt, I’m still relatively fresh to the whole ‘fell running scene’, but out of those 39 races Iv competed in I can safely say that this was one of my favourites. Apart from two, Iv come away from every event Iv attended with a big smile on my face and a huge feeling of accomplishment, and those two exceptions were only because I had a nightmare of a run. I can think of a few different events where I have enjoyed the course more than Longshaw, but this event just had everything that makes fell running the amazing sport it is, and the reason why its the only genre of running I’m interested it.

To set the tone of the day, it was wet!……very wet……and cold! It was hard to believe that September was only a week old as we tried manoeuvre the car on a mud bath of a car park, whilst the rain bounced off of the windscreen. With it been a Sheepdog Trials event and stalls etc on we decided to all go as a family to this one, so whilst Paul (father in law) and I ran the girls could have a walk around and enjoy the show, but the good old British weather had other plans. Luckily for the girls they could just sit in the car, but I choose this sport as a hobby, so I had to put my shorts and vest on and brave the cold and wet climate.

longshaw fell race 3
Me with about 2 miles left

Once you get out there and start running though you soon warm up and forget about the rain, you’ve got more important things to worry about, like trying to skip over rocks and miss deep bogs than worry about the rain. This particular course is quite fast compared to other fell races Iv done as it didn’t have the big climbs that some have, that’s not to say it didn’t have any though as there was one beauty of a climb 3.5 miles in, but apart from that though it was quite an undulating course. The wet conditions made it a little trickier than normal as the stones and rocks which covered most paths were slippery, and some puddles were a lot deeper than what you’d expect a puddle to be once you’d put your foot in it. On a personal note with the run, I didn’t feel like Id ran my best. I felt like I was a little off of the pace on this occasion, and runners that I’m normally racing alongside seemed to be a lot further in front of me and finished quite a way ahead. However, I still think I finished in the top 15 (no results as yet) which I’ll be more than happy with if I did, and hopefully my time won’t be too much off of the leaders so my points are good, as your points are rewarded with how many seconds/minutes you are behind the winner. I look forward to the results to see how Iv got on.

 

Longshaw fell race 2
Spectators cheering home the finishers

Racing aside, the best bit of the day was the post race atmosphere and the main reason why I wanted to share the event with you. Like I said earlier, Iv done 39 races now and everyone apart from a couple have been great experiences, and even those two bad races I had, the atmosphere was still amazing. I know that running in general is a great community, whether its road running, trail running, track, or us fell runners, everybody is really friendly and always sociable. I just feel though that the fell running community has that something special, that something that separates it from the rest, and Longshaw had it in abundance on Saturday morning.

Every race I go to I see and race against the same old faces, from all different running clubs and from different parts of the Sheffield and surrounding areas, and as time has gone on Iv got to know them and made some good friends. I must of spent an hour after yesterdays race just going around talking to different people, some giving me advice I ask for, some wanting advice from me, and others just having a catch up with…..I love it. There’s something about being in the countryside too, the good outdoors! Even though it was pouring down with rain most of the day and it was cold, everybody from runners to spectators were walking around and mingling, just enjoying the atmosphere and surroundings. People from this part of the world seem so much more light minded, relaxed, like they don’t have a care in the world, and this comes across at fell race events.

family
The end of another amazing day with my family

I know I’m probably being biased, and I do have some great friends that Iv made at road running and parkrun events, I just feel the fell running community is like a proper family, and I feel so privileged to be apart of it. Longshaw Fell Race might of been wet, cold, and bloody tough to run, but I loved every second of it!