Thursday, 8 January 2015

New Year's Day Fell Run

Taking part in a fell run was a late addition on to my #40before40 list.

I just happened to switch The One Show on one evening and found former 400m runner Ewan Thomas taking part in one and thought it looked like fun.

Knowing we were going to be spending New Year in Yorkshire, I Googled away.

The results took me to where I found details for the Captain Cook's Races, which was taking place on New Year's Day in Great Ayton on the North Yorkshire Moors.

There was no pre-registration, so I thought I'd keep it open.

So, we travelled up to Yorkshire on Monday 29 December to stay with Mrs Ps family ready for New Year.

With one eye on the fell run I decide to take it easy on New Year's Eve and stuck to water from 11pm.

Despite going to bed around 2am, I woke up on New Year's Day feeling pretty good.

Although I did decide to make sure I was okay by using one of the breathalysers that you have to have in your car when you drive in France.

I passed the test.

Just making sure I was okay to drive on New Year's Day

So, after scrambled eggs and porridge, I set off from Wetherby on the 50 mile journey north to Great Ayton (it was actually the furthest north I've ever travelled in the UK).

I did feel some trepidation as I got on to the moors driving towards large hills that were covered in mist, or about to be enveloped by cloud. I was also unsure what to expect race wise, and definitely felt like I was going outside my comfort zone.

I parked up, got changed in to my running gear and headed to the Royal Oak pub to pay my £7 entry fee and register.

The Royal Oak at Great Ayton

My race number 

Obligatory pre-race selfie

Waiting to start the race

At the start of the race I did feel like a bit of a southern wimp stood next to hardened northern runners who were wearing just running vests and shorts.

Unsure what to expect weather wise, I was wearing running leggings with shorts over the top; a training vest, long sleeved running top and a short sleeved vest on top; a running jacket; hat; and gloves.

The race set off though the village on the road, before heading on to a farm track and then into the countryside. 

Gradually the 5 mile course became muddier and muddier, and hillier and hillier.

As we headed up to Captain Cook's monument, a climb of 1043ft, it was walking and crawling pace only.

I reached the plateau to be welcomed by an amazing view across the North Yorkshire Moors, as well as being hit by huge gusts of wind.

The view across the moors 

Heading towards Captain Cook's monument 

Once we reached the monument, we started our descent.

To begin with it was on a stone path, which was a bit slippy, but this soon gave way to a mettled track where you could really get some speed up.

However, that didn't last long, and we were soon heading down mudding slopes.

It was at this point in the race where I started to lose ground and was regularly overtaken by fell running experts in trail shoes with spikes. 

While I in my normal running shoes descended like Bambi on ice. Quite how I didn't fall over or lose a trainer in the mud, I'll never know.

We then got back on to the road and I managed to pick up some speed again, as well as avoid posing for the official photographer.


There was a point here that was brilliant. As we ran down the road, we passed a house where an older and very dapper gentleman, was stood in the road, ringing an old school bell and shouting 'Happy New Year' to all the competitors.

The race then back on to fields and through a wooded area before we reached the finish line.

My unofficial time was 53:32.

When I checked the website I found that I did it in 52:44 and finished in 205th place out of 271 runners.

I was actually a little disappointed when I saw the results and know that if I'd had some trail shoes with spikes, then I could have finished higher.

Also, if I'd checked in my boot a little more closely I would have found these, which would have probably done the trick....


On reflection it was my first attempt and it was one of the best activities that I've done, and I'd recommended it to anyone who wants to try something a little different. 

Slightly muddy trainers

Sightly muddy socks

Enjoying a celebratory mince pie and cup of tea

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