Tuesday 3 May 2011

I'm ashamed to say......

..... we never got to Keswick to run the ½ marathon on May 1st. A painful swelling on the ball of my wonderful partner's foot put paid to any thoughts she might have had about running it whilst a persistent tummy bug thwarted my plans. Being a blue-blooded Yorkshireman I'm not sure which hurt most, the abdominal pain or the mental anguish of having paid my entry fee and not getting my money's worth from it!  I could have run, while my partner spectated, but there's no way I could have given of my best. I'll freely admit, I don't race for fun. I might RUN for fun in all seasons through our beautiful countryside but when it comes to racing it's a bit more serious, it hurts, and I'll go through hell to get into the prize list. Some would call me a pot hunter and I suppose I am, but if that's what encourages me to run and keep fit well into my dotage, then so be it.  It's better than the alternative!
Street Party
So what did we do over the May Bank Holiday? Well, quite a lot really. It began on Friday with a wonderful Street Party that brought out almost everyone in the village for a three hour spree of wining and dining. There were a couple of brief interruptions, the first for mass participation in a funny sort of game called Heads and Tails, the second for a hilarious Duck Race where a dog jumped into the water and rendered the result void by decapitating two of the participants. There was a re-run while the offending animal was kept under control. I'd refused to 'buy' a duck on the grounds that none of them had any known form!  All this fun and frivolity was in celebration of some helicopter pilot who was marrying the woman he lived with.
Saturday was 'Three Peaks' day when we drove to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to watch my favourite race. We arrived ¾ hr before it was scheduled to start and couldn't believe the amount of traffic being funnelled into three large fields. Competitors from farther afield had camped overnight to make the 10 o'clock start.  A huge marquee (that cost the Association £2,000 to hire), a smaller one for registration, a Start and Finish gantry, trade stalls and loud speaker system were all in situ ready for the 'Off'. The whole shebang covered several acres of ground while 763 runners, plus an equal number of followers and spectators milled around.  I couldn't help thinking how vastly different this was from my first experience of the race in 1956 when there were just 23 starters and the entire 'furniture' consisted of the Entry Secretary's table and chair in a field behind the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale.
Dog among the ducks
Although there was warm sunshine out of the wind it was cold and blustery on the tops, particularly on the highest summit, Whernside, where runners were in danger of being blown over. It didn't seem to bother Tom Owens of Shettlestone Harriers who skipped down the summit rocks of Ingleborough and disappeared across the moor before I could get a picture of him. I've never been more impressed!  No-one had a cat in hells chance of catching him as he went on to win the men's race by almost three minutes in 2.53.54. Young Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners was second. Anna Frost, a Kiwi who specializes in mountain races, was equally impressive in the Lady's event. Her winning time was 3.30.00, four minutes ahead of Helen Fines of Calder Valley Fell Runners.  My old mate Bill Wade of Holmfirth Harriers, a few days short of his 70th birthday, got a rousing reception as he crossed the Finish line in 5.38.32.  The amazing Wendy Dodds had 281 runners behind her when setting a new LV60 record of 4.34.01.  Such achievements invariably evoke the odd tear as I watch them striding proudly down the finishing field to all the well-earned cheers. I know exactly how they feel as I reel with nostalgia and wish I was young again. Then again, if the Three Peaks Race Association ever introduce an MV80 category.......!
Sunday was declared a day of relaxation. Well, sort of. After numerous eruptions of my tummy problem over the past 24 hours I reckoned it a good idea to give Chapel a miss in the morning, thus retaining my stainless reputation! Instead, I took myself for a bumbly run in the great outdoor church of Grassington Moor to boost my spirits in the more natural surroundings of sun and wind and wild music.  Eight miles was all I could manage in my weakened state. The rest of the day was spent in a sheltered corner of the garden soaking up healing sunshine whilst partaking of copious amounts of fluid to flush out the offending bugs.  It seemed to work for on Monday we set off from Grimwith reservoir for a 10 mile walk/run around the nether regions of Wig Stones and Cranberry Moss, on the Nidderdale border, where we got hopelessly off route in the trackless bogs but still enjoyed our wild situation in glorious weather. My strength appears to be returning.  Roll on the next race.


  1. Lovely write up and good to hear you're on the mend. Good job you didn't race after all you've been up to - where would you fit it all in! Best wishes for a swift return to full health.

  2. When I read your posts and look at the photos, I just want to move to Yorkshire! Sounds like a great weekend - apart from the tummy bug. Hope you're back on pot-hunting form soon!

  3. Sorry to read you didn't make Keswick Half.
    Always next year! Ref. "pot hunter" ...someone who deliberately chooses low key races avoiding higher profile events to win an award? That's NOT you, surely? Even if you are the only one in a race category and therefore pick up an award, it is your deserved reward if only for surviving!
    Sadly some former rivals have passed on, other former rivals choose only to run for fun, other former rivals will stand jealously and watch you race and record great times. So in short you are not a pot hunter and deserve all that you receive! You are an inspiration to young and old alike. Keep it up!! Terry

  4. Only just happened across your blog via Runners Forum, where I've been a sporadic visitor for several years. Found your recent race reports both interesting and inspirational. I look forward to your future write-ups.

    By the way, I fully agree with Terry's comment above. Oh, and happy birthday ;-)

  5. Hi Old Runningfox,
    I have missed you! So sorry to hear about your parnter's foot and your sore tummy. Wishing your both a speedy recovery. I love how you admit that you don't run for fun:) You are a true runner and racer! Lovely pictures as always.

    Take care of yourself! Hugs!