Barbondale Fell Race 

First race since Peddars Way Ultra. Forecast: 45mph winds, rain, sleet…I was lying in bed this morning thinking ‘do I really need to do this race?’ 

Ed was making it easy for me, he wasn’t really up for it either and was giving me ‘outs’ all over the shop. As I watched my last video of a shiba inu set to the soundtrack of This Charming Man by The Smiths (check it out on Fb: you won’t be disappointed…well, you might be if you don’t like shiba inu’s…or The Smiths) I decided we’d regret it if we didn’t race, so that was it, we were in the van on the way to Barbondale.

This was by far the scariest race I’ve ever done. It’s straight up, like on your hands and knees…and straight down, like on your arse. There’s no messing on with ‘runnable’ sections, no runnable start, nothing. It starts on the slope and ends on the slope. It was freezing, sleeting, grey- absolutely grim. It’s a short race, only about 4.8km, I clung to that thought as I looked at the wall that was Castle Knott.

We gathered for the start, the wind was biting and we were huddled like neon penguins, some people were smiling. I wasn’t.

It started and within a minute or so everyone around me was walking. I made friends with the ground, it was all I was going to see until I reached the top. Soon we were reduced to crawling, on all fours, like animals. No banter, just heavy breathing and the sound of waterproof jackets flapping against the gales. I thought about nothing.

We reached the first cairn, I wasn’t racing anyone but myself so I didn’t pay any attention to people around me. I don’t have the luxury of being competitive, I’m just trying to survive. The weather came in, the wind was arresting and the snow made visibility poor. My jacket hood had caught the wind and was attempting to put me out of my misery through strangulation. It was a nice distraction from the relentless uphill.

I made it to the second cairn, the turnaround point. The wind was behind now and it was all downhill. Things felt better. I took inspiration from penguins and slid down the grassy sections, overtaking a good few people on the way. I reached the bottom and hit the finish. I was actually smiling at the end! It was hard, it was pure physicality, no room for mind games, in the moment start to finish. I loved it.


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