Race Best Ltd are organising a virtual fell series, involving a short run (4 miles, 900ft ascent), two medium (8 miles, 1800ft ascent) and one long run (11 miles[?] and 2400ft [?] ascent). The first race attracted a good field of well over 200, with age categories in 10 year bands up to 60+ (hard on the over 70s!). Since runners plot their own route, it could be said that the category winners helped their cause by selecting a convenient route (without gates/stiles, bracken/brambles and with a good running surface). I hope that doesn’t sound like sour grapes, but it may help to excuse Croft’s lamentable showing – with two clear exceptions!
Tim J carefully planned a route starting above Highwood House, at the southern end of Bircher Common, through the gate into the woods (as for the previous handicap route) down into Fishpool Valley, and then up to the ridge (where on the X-C we’d have just come off the Ambrey), straight over for 50m then left along a narrow path to the foot of Yatton Bank. At the top of the bank, a right turn to the stile leading onto the Ambrey (as on the X-C), over the top and down (as X-C) and then continuing along the path to Whiteway Head (rather than turn right down the usually muddy slope to the fire track), onto the common and follow the old handicap route down to the bottom.
Jo ran round with Tim, and showed him a clean pair of heels down the last grassy slope, finishing in 42.05. She was then 2nd in her age group, but later results pushed her down to a still creditable 8th. Tim was a bit over 30 seconds behind, having courteously shown Jo the way! I had run round just before them, lost a few seconds looking for the path to Yatton Bank, and then hit disaster, spending well over five minutes lost in bracken, searching for the path up the Bank. Not only was my time disappointing, but I also failed to send my MapRun result to my Strava account, and so my pitiful showing didn’t go public – fortunately! A few days later Tom, Flora and Gary decided to boldly go where …. They had problems getting MapRun to work, and therefore problems finding the route (functioning MapRun would have pinged each time they passed a ‘checkpoint’). Not to be daunted by one failed attempt, Flora, never one to give up, went back a second time, … and then a third to master the route, and improve her time. Tom and Gary had decided they knew defeat when they saw it!
From yesterday, July 11th, the second round is open. So, find yourself a route with 1800′ of climb, and 8 miles long, with less than a mile of road/fire track, record your result and fire off your details to email@example.com. You would though need to pay the entry fee of £5 per race, details on the Race Best Ltd website.