Sunday, 22 March 2009

On reading 'Fellrunner'

Interesting article by John Easterbrook in the current issue of 'Fellrunner' magazine. He compared the record holders' times and the climbs in fell races and derived a mathematical model to explain them. One interesting number leapt out. Gird yourself. Record holders run flat bits of the course at pace of 5min 38s/mile. Yep. If you're not running 5.38, forget it.
With this happy thought in my head I set off, after a basic breakfast of cereals, toast and tea (the standard breakfast as developed by dietitians at the Institute of Pretty Much Everyone who Goes Running) for a fantastic local challenge; A loop which starts at Sadgill, heads up the Gatescarth Pass, veers northwest to Harter Fell and continues anticlockwise over the Knowe, Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts back to Sadgill. 7.8 miles, 2,210 feet of ascent/descent.
The ascent is grim. Gatescarth is an unrelenting stony path, in a beautiful valley, which starts off fairly comfortably and gets steeper and steeper as you approach the Pass. The journey was marked by the sight of a herd of sheep (who were curiously the lovely pink colour of sandstone in the sunset) being shepherded up the path by a Defender and two collies. The collies dutifully rounded me up with the sheep and the farmer encouraged me to go through the flock as he was taking them right to the top of the Pass.
Once at the Pass the freezing wind was absolutely howling across the tops. My windward side was chilled, but my lee side was in the sun and was hot. I was reminded of the old statistician's joke: "With my head in the oven and my feet in the 'fridge, on average I'm perfectly happy". Bundle of laughs, statisticians.
Once the ascent relented, the flat and downhill bits were fantastic. Wind-assisted, with gorgeously dry, soft peat underfoot and legs flowing. It felt brilliant. A final steep, stony descent to an equally stony path and that was that. A wonderful time in the hills. It's why you do the wet reps under grey skies in winter.
And did I touch 5.38? Did I **!$%£^&*!!! I did see 7.42 at one point, but the grovelling uphill resulted in my moving average pace being 13.35 with an overall time of 1hr 48mins. Now, 'Fellrunner' also tells me that the Langdale Horseshoe Fell Race on 10th Oct is 14 miles/4,000ft. That's double what I did this morning. So about 4 hours then. Hmmm...
Smile Rating 9/10

1 comment:

  1. you know you will. you've set the challenge now in your head. thanks i learnt something reading this missive - lee side - never heard of that before