Chipping Show – 24th August 2019
Craig Wellens gives us a personal account of Rochdale Harriers at Chipping Show.
Race 11 of the Run the Moors Fell Grand Prix brought us to Chipping, a picturesque village in the heart of the Ribble Valley in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. The fell race is part of the Chipping Agricultural Show so not only a race to look forward to but also a nice day out too. Where else can you prepare for a fell race by watching sheep racing, tug of war, tradesman’s turnout (don’t ask, not sure!) and of particular interest to Fiona the egg catching competition.
Runners on the day were Fiona Williams, Steph Harrison, Alex Frost, Matt Cox and I, it was nice to see Eric and Noman come to support, laugh, mock etc.
The weather on the day was scorching, 24 degrees at least and unbroken sunshine, it all added to a brilliant experience on the day and the subsequent heatstroke thereafter. The race itself is advertised as a BM of 12.1k distance and 549m of climb but on the day it was a good half kilometre further.
The race started from the show ring right in the centre of the show then exits the showground to run over boggy and rough fields, through at least three streams for the first three kilometres to the base of Parlick Hill. This first section was a little sapping, the rains during the week making the going heavy but the scorching sun on the day making this incline on the route to the big hill tougher than it should have been.
The climb up Parlick Hill (432m) was a walk, nobody able to run. Once on top there was an opportunity to get some speed up again on the slightly flat ridge of Blindhurst Fell past Nick’s Chair (I didn’t see him?) that in turn started to rise up to the Cairn of Paddy’s Pole (again, don’t ask) at 510m.
So now we’re at the top and we’ve done all the graft it’s time for a bit of downhill running right? Not the case I’m afraid, the decent down the back was technical and in places as easy as trying to run down a gable end, on the flipside the views of the Fylde and the Ribble Estuary are amazing. The descent wound its way down thereafter on rough sheep trods and open moorland, through rocky glades of bilberry and loose stone only to culminate at the foot of the second big climb.
Now on the west of the Blindhurst Fell, bear in mind we’d started at 2pm so the sun was at its strongest and burning into the backs of our heads as we made the climb back up, some of us on all fours, some gripped the fencing to facilitate their ascent others just sat there dumbfounded and I know at least two left the contents of their stomach on that climb! I was getting a bit disorientated and when I topped the climb I was met by a lady from one of local running clubs who could say no more than “lost, lost”, I pointed the way and then comforted by the fact someone felt worse than me legged it off back along the ridge to the trig point on Parlick Hill!
The descent was easy enough, a bit rough but runnable and quite close to the line of ascent, the white tents and marquees of the showground four kilometres distant, visible and tormenting a dehydrated runner now dying and wishing he had taken more liquid with him. The run back to the show was then exactly along the same course as the first few kilometres, the finish line for the first ten or so runners in the show ring the rest of us at a finish line at the back of the show. I have to admit this was the hardest fell race I’ve done this year, it’s a tough race.
So ultimately a good race for us all especially regarding points in the area fell Grand Prix, a special congratulations to Fiona Williams (1:23:29) who was first lady, winning a brilliant shield for her endeavours followed home by Steph Harrison (1:33:40), Alex Frost (1:39:46), Matt Cox (1:54:59) and Craig Wellens (2:09:38).
P.S. Disappointingly mention must be made of Fiona’s failure to enter the egg throwing competion on the grounds that “there may be professionals competing”, so just the one trophy today for the Harriers then!