Week Ending: 7th January 2018
Watched the Morning After fell race runners come smiling their way back through the streets of Church Stretton. Very jealous I wasn't running.
90 minutes + 30 minutes. Caer Caradoc and Long Mynd.
A trip down memory lane running the hills surrounding Church Stretton. These hills are responsible for me taking up running seriously, after an impromptu entry into the 2006 Boxing Day, Devil's Chair Dash fell race led to one of those ah-ha lightbulb moments in life.
I entered the race on a whim after seeing it advertised in the local paper and am not really sure what drew me to it - I wasn't doing any running at the time, focussing solely on mountain biking - perhaps it was that it sounded so ridiculous, a mid-winter fell run with no training, why the hell not. Anyway, entry secured we struggled a little to find the start line as it was tucked away down a dead-end valley in the middle of nowhere down a tiny singletrack road and ended up turning up late to the start. The organisers were very relaxed and let me start anyway, so without a warm up and straight out of the car I started up a track that very quickly became narrower and steeper. Immediately gasping for air, I was pleased to see that I quickly started catching a few of the back-markers and managed to settle into a sort of jogging shuffle as I tried not to walk on the steepening terrain. Suddenly a shout of "RUNNERS" came from just ahead, followed by what sounded like stampeding horses, as the leaders came charging downwards back towards the start/finish. I remember actually stopping and getting out of the way, such was the speed they were travelling. It was incredible to see people running so fast down such a steep, slippery, rocky hillside and after my initial shock abated, my second thought was, <<I need to learn how to do that !>>. I can't honestly remember much more of the race, except that my descent was like a baby taking its first steps compared to the guys in front. I was sliding all over the place, my road running shoes providing no traction on the wet ground, and my cyclist's knees and quads could not handle anything more than a gentle jog down the slope to the safety of flatter ground. However, despite my less than graceful downhill skills, the seed had been sown and I was immediately hooked on this crazy sport called Fell Running.
Fell Running is a uniquely British sport of medium to long distance (5km to Marathon) events in the hills (fells), with routes often taking the shortest route up and down a hill, not necessarily on a track and often unmarked, so local knowledge rules (check out the excellent book Feet in the Clouds, by Richard Askwith). I loved it, and completed a summer racing the Shropshire Fell Running series before leaving it behind when we moved to Australia.
After finishing my run, I headed back out with Harry, and Esme, with her kids Wilf and Dora for a brilliant 5k loop up Cardingmill Valley. Wilf proved to be an absolute gun on the hills, nearly keeping up with me on the climbs and flying down the other side (aged 9). A real talent!
45 minutes. Wey Navigations.
Counting down the days until our return to Australia. Did a bit of exploring today on the canal paths making up the Wey Navigations. Obviously flat tracks, but nice to be able to get off the road and run, even this close to London.
30 minutes. Wey Navigations.
Basically a repeat of Thursday's run. We fly tonight.