Windy Hill fell race 2016 – report

Dreadful. My performance and result on the day, not the race itself – that was a classic fell challenge with a brutal climb and great organisation.

I have to preface this report with the fact that while I’m annoyed at how my race panned out, the bigger picture is that I needed to be within the top 4 Meltham runners over the line to seal victory in our club fell championship which I achieved and am thrilled about!

However, I put a lot of effort into my training in order to do well on race day and in this respect my race was as bad as I could have made it.

My race ended at 6 miles with a massive fall/slip which saw me ram my knee and hip into a gatepost.

I was pretty much cooked by then anyway after shooting off the start line up the first minor climb way too fast and utterly failing to pace myself sensibly despite not needing to run so hard.

Windy Hill is, broadly speaking, 3 miles up a massive hill and 5.5 miles working your way back down. Thanks to my early suicidal pace my legs were cooked and I ended up walking halfway up the main climb when I should have been reasonably comfortable running. There’s no doubt Dewsbury’s efforts last week were still in my legs but my pacing was dreadful.

Once I made it to the top, I was still somewhere just inside the top 20 having been passed by Andy Whitworth from the club on the climb and he was slowly edging off into the distance but I felt a bit more comfortable once it leveled off at the top and I made good progress reeling in a couple of runners on the technical descents and rocky path moving at speed.

Fell. Running.

The course is very muddy in places and my X-Talon’s handled it pretty well for the most part but while pushing very hard and closing the gap a bit on Andy, I put my foot in a large patch of mud and while I expected it to be slippy, my foot still went and I was very unlucky to lose my footing and my knee drove straight into a gatepost and I jarred my hip with the impact.

I could barely breathe.

My knee swelled up pretty much instantly and I could see blood through the mud but it was my hip that was most painful.

I had to sit there for what must have been a couple of minutes as I was totally winded – on Windy Hill no less.

My annoyance

I was furious with myself at this point. Not only had I paced my effort dreadfully in the early stages, I’d now fallen and injured myself trying to close the gap on Andy when I had absolutely no need to as he wasn’t competing for the fell championships. Stupid. I could have taken this a little steadier and run more conservatively.

After sitting there for a couple of minutes I had the dreadful realisation that of all the runners now streaming past me, one of them might be Sam who needed me to finish 4th or worse and him to collect his points to grab the title. I had to get up and start the 2.5 mile walk back to the finish and reflect on losing a championship by pushing too hard without need.

A few more runners went past – every single one asking if I was ok which is always nice – and so far none were Meltham vests so I managed a bit of a peg leg hobble and just hoped my early running had perhaps left me with enough of a cushion to hobble back to the finish before 2 more Meltham runners.

Luckily it was pretty much all downhill from where I fell so I was able to ease into a jog then a comedy run as my hip and knee eased up and I got down to the finish holding onto my second Meltham place. I probably wouldn’t have caught Andy anyway although I felt I could have closed significantly on the descent but ultimately job done but at quite a cost on the day.

I was about 15th when I fell and I think I finished 38th in the end. Not really bothered about the result this time though.

Championship won

When all is said and done though, I had a bad race a week after a sensational race at Dewsbury. You can’t have it all I guess but this one was all about winning the overall championship and I did it so I can (and am) thrilled about adding the club fell championship to the parkrun championship I won the other week.

Event organisation

Thanks to Cannonball and all the marshals on the chilly and windy course cheering the runners. Will be back next year and try to stay upright!