Clwydian Hills Fell Race

1st November 2015 – Cilcain

Fell runners tend to be a fairly hardy bunch in many respects. Whilst an image of crusty aged individuals prancing round sodden moorland in the teeming rain wearing nothing more than an old vest and implausibly short shorts might not be entirely accurate there is certain a kernel of truth to it. So whilst signing up for a fell race on the 1st of November might normally require a degree of mental toughness in anticipation of grey skies, gusty winds and squally bursts of rain this was definitely not the case on 1st of November this year.

Instead a record field of 159 runners flocked to the village of Cilcain on what was a perfect summer’s day – just three months too late! The sky was cloudless, it was utterly tranquil and the temperatures quickly climbed beyond that achieved throughout most of the summer. So it was the gaggle of eager runners started out on a stony track leading up onto the Clwydian Range as the sun approached its zenith.

This was the first running of a new route variation which offered slightly more climb than previously though was also very slightly shorter. The route itself merited some discussions prior to the start due to the placement of a couple of check points that enabled competitors “route choice” (which often is arecipe of getting lost and wasting lots of time). Fortunately good visibility and placing those checkpoints in an obvious valley and summit mitigated this somewhat.

The newer course was certainly tougher than the older one by some margin. The going between some of the new checkpoints was trackless and required runners to battle through gorse, ferns and heather attempting to find the most efficient way to move forward. Hence runners meandering about; some attempting direct routes had to thrash through vegetation – others followed wandering sheep tracks – not ideal since the sheep were oblivious of the checkpoints being sought. More often it was a combination of the two; there might be some routes better than others but none could be called “optimal”.
It goes without saying that the warmer temperatures caught many out; certainly some that failed to carry water probably suffered in the later stages of the race and this was one of the factors causing a wide range of finish times. I can imagine how we must have appeared to the walkers enjoying the sunshine on the summit of Moel Famau. This was the top of the last climb and so we probably all tottered past, panting, muddy and drenched in sweat – not a resounding advert for the “enjoyment” this sport offers.

However it was all then downhill to the finish and the pleasant weather allowed runners to limp and hobble around the finish awaiting team mates. A little later we managed to make it back to the village hall and gladly partook in tea, cake, soup and mince pies (in a random order in many cases), awaiting the prize giving. No one in fell running does it for the prizes though those offered at this race were very good indeed – many thanks to lots of generous sponsors. As usual Buckley did amazingly well against some of the larger well known clubs and all should be rightly proud of their efforts. So much so that we were also 3rd team and likely would have won that category if it had been counted in a more conventional manner!

2nd – Jez Brown – 2nd Overall
4th – Simon Edwards – 1st M40
18th – Andy Pritchard
44th – Paul Stinton
49th – Hayley Evans – 2nd Lady
71st – Huw Lewis
73rd – Dave Boothroyd
91st – Steve Bellis

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