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Battered on Windy Hill Fell Race

Battered on Windy Hill Fell Race

Clock17th February 2019

Legs & lungs burning, I turned through the gate on my right, looking forward to some respite, a pick up in speed and settling into the rhythm of some undulating fells. Instead I struggled to catch any breath as the 75kmh+ wind hit me head on – distorting my face as I tried to push on… Welcome to Windy Hill Fell Race 2019! 🙂

Windy Hill Fell Race - Rochdale Harriers

Ready for the off

This was my first time at what is a very well known local fell race. I say local, it attracts runners from as far as Shaftsbury! I entered because it’s a superb route and it was an opportunity to build strength and stamina as I start building towards the Lakeland 50 in July.

 

Pre-race nutrition consisted of boiled eggs, avocado, nuts and plenty of water. A group of us met up to car share and chat about what was in store, anticipation building as we got to race HQ for check in. The atmosphere was great because people were here when it would have been far easier to bail in these conditions. There were a total of 12 Rochdale Harriers participating (not all are in the pic above) – a fab turnout on such a day.

Onto the race and the good news was I stuck to my pre-race tactic of taking it steady on the climbs of the start all the way to the top of the Roman Road. The bad news was that as the ascending continued relentlessly, I became increasingly aware of the lack of strength in my legs at the moment. It was going to be a long haul back to full fitness and that’s when the negative voice set in. “You’re shit at this.” “Why do you do this to yourself?” “So many people have overtaken you on this climb it’s untrue.”  That said, I also kept reminding myself that I was doing this precisely to build fitness. To participate. To challenge myself. So what if I’m not in the top half of the field, at least I’m out here in incredibly challenging conditions. Most people would be having a lazy Saturday morning by comparison.

Windy Hill Fell Race jeff mccarthy

Pic by Cannonball Events. Trying to pick up speed into extreme headwind.

 

Where it really did become a mental and physical challenge for me was on the incredible headwind just at the point I was hoping to really kick on down the descents and on the flats/undulations (did I mention it was in excess of 75kmh?!). At times it was a real effort to simply keep moving! This is the fun of fell running ultimately though. You never know what you’re going to get. Well, unless the mountain weather forecast predicts all of this in advance that is lol!  So I’d told myself I could really claw back my average pace on the descents you can see on the race profile below. Being a confident (read stupid) descender, I love running down steep fells. On this day, with the extreme wind and hail, plus a lack of fitness it just didn’t happen. I simply ground out the miles, got my head down and cracked on to the finish. There were times I was literally laughing in the face of the conditions – what else could you do? And it was great to finally take part in this race. I’ll definitely be doing it again 🙂

 

Windy Hill Fell Race profile Windy Hill Fell Race route

 

In terms of race results, I was 134 out of 239 so not too bad. Looking at my time and the pace on various parts of the race, I’ll be very confident of going at least 5 mins quicker in 2020 🙂  Lots of official race pics are here. There are some corkers!

So now it’s onto the National XC Championships 2019 where on one hand I fear I’ll embarrass myself and on the other, I’ll take pleasure in the fact this is more time on my feet and part of building fitness through the whole year. Onwards and literally upwards (a lot of the time).

 

All the best
Jeff

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