Fran Racing – Gribdale Gallop

Wednesday night I flew home from work, dragged the poor dog up the lane for a poo while at the same time eating a pre-race bread roll and scrambled into my lycra.
Hilary came with a car full of Harriers and off we went to Great Ayton for the Gribdale Gallop fell race. I regard this race as a kind of anniversary as it was my first fell race two years ago.

Thankfully it was not as hot as it has been recently, indeed quite the opposite and as we stood on the start line, shivering in the pouring rain, I was wondering if I should have worn long sleeves after all? Too late, we were off! We had two full women’s teams, a 7th spot and a lone man. One of the ladies (and first Harrier home) had just come back from the Lakes where she’d come 9th in the LL50. She’s a machine.
I stayed with Hilary, Helen and Becky up the first climb to Captain Cooks Monument. Hester (our machine!) was already way off in front, not far behind us were Pat and Carol and our individual male, Alan.
Squeak squeak of rubber on wet rock as we crossed the flags and into trees to the gentle descent of East Cote Moor. I love that bit, but was convinced Becky was hot on my heels and I belted down the path as hard as I could to stay in front. Out of the trees at The Park above Kildale, then down a tarmac lane as fast as I dared as it is so very steep. At the bottom, there’s about 8 feet of flat, then straight into a sharp ascent on slippery mud. It was at this point a random spectator said to the runner behind ‘Ay up Ron, bet you’re loving this!’ It wasn’t Becky after all!

The muddy climb is quite tough and I wasn’t expecting to run it all, but I did and was very pleased. Still couldn’t quite catch up with Hilary and Helen who were having their own private battle a few yards ahead.
At the top of the climb is Percy Rigg and we head into the driving rain and gathering mist on stony track. Not sure what the moor here is called, possibly part of Hutton Moor, but it undulates it’s way into the top west edge of Guisborough Woods.
On the climbs, I’d pleased of the rain and was rather warm, here though exposed to the elements I could see how a sprained ankle could lead to hypothermia, even in July.

Successfully reached The Hanging Stone one of our checkpoints and gave it a hearty slap. I dithered for a second because both previous times on this race I have got lost here. Hilary and Helen disappeared down the side of the outcrop but I wasn’t sure that was right. The chaps behind me doubled back and I followed them, they looked like they knew where they were going! Off the main track onto a cycle track which snakes like a toboggan run down the bank! It was also running with water now. Carol was catching me up and I pushed my descent a little faster then I was comfortable with to stay in front. Popped out onto good track once more, Hilary and Helen were exactly the same distance ahead as they were before! Bugger.

Pushing on towards the third climb of the race, the infamous Roseberry Topping. Everyone walks up Roseberry, I still managed to overtake two people on the ascent though. I said howdy to the two H’s at the summit trig, it was bloody windy up there! Now my least favourite part of the run, coming back down Roseberry. It’s steep, slippery and narrow. I lost some of the places I’d gained, grr. I doubt anyone else had any more grip than I did, but no-one else was crying about it. Annoyed myself a bit there. At the bottom, I found Alan and Becky just starting the climb. I also knew Carol was still right behind me. I squidged my way up little Roseberry to the gate which marked the final flat mile back to the finish. Hilary and Helen were no where to be seen, they will have flown the last mile, locked in a head-to-head battle no doubt. I pushed on through the puddles, managing to claw back one place. I was paranoid I could hear Carol just steps behind me, but a quick glance over my shoulder said it was my imagination. I kept on none the less.

Suddenly, the path turns downhill and you’re greeted with the noise of the finish coming up from below, I could hear people shouting my name as I wobbled down the stupid stone steps and threw my arms in the air in mock celebration as I crossed the line! My people had come to be entertained, I couldn’t let them down
The rain continued and made trying to get dry clothes on rather tricky. We ate biscuits and drank squash as we waited for the rest of the field to arrive home.
Hester was in the top 10 women, both Pat and Carol won age category prizes and I think overall everyone enjoyed it, despite the weather. For Becky and Helen, this was their second fell race and they’re loving it.
I was pleased with my performance (except the descent of Roseberry) and came away with a new course PB and I ran the correct route this time instead of getting lost!

Fran