Coniston Fell race

News Race Reports

On Friday 2nd May five intrepid club members, Gary P, Patrick, Paul G, Gary G and Tom D travelled to the Lake District to take part in the Coniston Fell Race, one of the all time classics and this year a round of the English fell championships.
On arrival in Coniston the sun was shining and the scenery was stunning, we were pleasantly surprised to find that our YHA accommodation was within a few yards of the finish line. After recceing the final tricky descent from the Old Man of Coniston, a good meal and a few beers helped us cope with the symphony of snoring and other strange sounds in the bunkhouse!
On the Saturday morning the weather was ideal for running, not too warm with excellent visibility. We began to wonder if we had the right weekend as there were very few runners around but on rounding a bend to the start line the lane was full of what seemed to be very fit fell runners!
The route is a loop of almost 9 miles with 40 minutes of nonstop climbing to the first checkpoint at the top of Wetherlam, a tricky rocky section along Prison Band led to checkpoint 2 at Swirl How then came some good running to the final checkpoint at the summit of the Old Man. It was on this section that Gary G lost time following a roving photographer, thinking he was a runner with a faster route! Patrick and Gary P were neck and neck at this stage having a good brotherly tussle whilst Paul and Tom were just surviving.
The main topic of debate at the start of the race is which is the best route from the final checkpoint to the finish, either the main tourist path down through the quarries or a steep grassy route to the south. The right line can be the difference between either a good placing or finishing amongst amongst the also rans. Gary P took 5 minutes out of Patrick over the 1.5 miles to the finish whilst Gary G used his descending skills to overtake many competitors and almost catch Paul.
A final sprint down the lane led to the finish some 100 yards from our accommodation.
Out of more than 400 of the best fell runners in the country Gary P finished 181st in 1.32.27, Patrick 217th in 1.37.28, Paul 295th in 1.49.06, Gary G 310th in 1.51.47 and Tom 400th in 2.29.15. The race was won by Tom Addison in 1.07.57 and Victoria Wilkinson was first Lady in 1.17.11.
All in all an excellent two days leading to a commitment to again make a trip to a classic fell race an annual Club event with Ben Nevis in September 2015 being the current favourite!
As a footnote, following the long drive back on Saturday evening, on Sunday morning GaryP took part in the Bluebell run at Church Stretton and finished 2nd overall first over 40 – the rest of us could hardly get out of bed!

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