Running Away

­­Two ‘out of area’ recommendations; one race and one run

1. The Sussex Fells

Well ok, not quite, but the ‘Jack and Jill Challenge’ is in the FRA fixtures handbook and 1000’+ of climb is 1000’+ of climb wherever you do it. The race is run in conjunction with the somewhat more d­emanding 30m ‘Downland Challenge’, although being that I competed during a visit to family in the Brighton area, the 5.5 miles of the Jack and Jill appeared a far more socially responsible event to enter (phew!).

Imagine the Wrekin Streak twice and you begin to get the picture. Wide, well used tracks mean fast and furious running with minimal opportunity for subtlety. It’s a day in the country for roadrunners and a chance for the rest of the family to picnic somewhere en route.

It was a rare privilege to be the first Mercia runner home, countered only by being also the last. Still, it was nice to get some recognition from the days starter cum commentator who announced, just before the gun, ‘We’ve even got runners from as far away as Mercia today…wherever that is’

If you’re in the Brighton area at the same time next July, give it a crack, it’s well organised and a serious work out for heart and lungs alike.

Now then, that Mercia result in full:

Winning Time 31.59 (1.30 ahead of second)

GH (36th) 42.02

203 ran.

2. The Dalesway ‘run’ or High (Tea) Traverse

This is not really the form I realise because articles in a club magazine about long distance running will generally have references to nail biting record chasing, doggedly slogging through sloughs of despond during 3am hailstorms etc. whereas this is about fine weather, taking it easy and drinking tea.

Let me explain: I have wanted to complete the Dalesway ever since I lived on it, some years ago, close to Ilkley. Sadly, although my spirit has always warmed to the idea of long distance, my body has not. This was therefore the ideal solution – plenty of running, but completed in ‘holiday’ mode. Thus, breaks on our route could be of any length with completing a day before nightfall as our only, vague, target.

We ran as a trio covering super fit, fit and me. As record breaking was not on the agenda, we jogged in a leisurely manner, stopping only to take on tea where the establishment was suitable and café food to avoid excess bum bag weight.

We divided the 84 miles (plus a few more for off-route supplies replenishment) from Ilkley to Windermere into 3 days of roughly 28 miles per day, with civilised accommodation each night (first night pub 200yds, second night in pub!).

We did keep a detailed record of our times and stops but I’m not telling you as it’s irrelevant to real runners and probably confusing to any whom may follow in our footsteps. Suffice to say we were out for over 8 hours on days one and two, and would have been again on our last day were it not for one of our trio’s hare brained idea to sprint finish in order to ensure a sub 8 hour finale (7.58 as I recall!).

As a route the Dalesway is beautiful from beginning to end and can be run in any way from elite one-day heroics to six-day stroll. We slotted somewhere in the middle, and had such a good time that I would recommend it to anyone whatever their speed, motivation and fitness.

Fortunately, as you know, Windermere is a Mecca for lovers of the steeped leaf, which meant that immediately after our finish and the lakeside photo of ear to ear success grins, we repaired for refreshment – to be followed later on by celebratory refreshment of a more serious kind.

Will we do another one in the same vein? – you bet!

PS We used the Paul Hannon Dalesway guidebook which is a carbon copy of the Wainright approach. A combination of this, good signage and a spot of navigation from my companions ensured error free progress throughout.

Grahame Hughes