British Fell Relays – Braithwaite, Cumbria, 21st October 2023
18 Harriers joined a melee of 1,500 /250 teams of the UKs best and brightest fell runners.
Fantastic result for the Open Men’s team (Andy, Allen, Billy, Mark, Nath, Robbie), who came 22nd (19th in category) – which we think might be the best result we’ve had in more than 10 years (ever? Would love to hear counter claims!). Well done anyway – cracking result!
Open Ladies’ – 203rd overall / 34th in cat (Catherine, Kathleen, Emma, Rachael, Laura, Hannah)
Vet 40 Men – 130th overall / 22nd in cat (Steve, Dan, Jim, Rob, Tom, Jon)
The BFR is a relay that comprises of a solo, pairs (long), pairs (nav) and solo course. The location changes each year and this year all courses came down the long muddy nose of Barrow fell at Braithwaite.
Now over to our roving reporter Kathleen, who can articulate the endeavours like only she can…
“Firstly, a massive thanks to our brilliant leader Tom who once again orchestrated 3 teams, a finely tuned symphony. As always, no rock unturned. Thanks to our kind drivers, bakers and supporters Michael and the Applewhites.
Le Grand Arrivee:
Up the quiet motorway as dawn broke – slightly veiled mountains in the distance, excited chatter from the ladies in the car – everyone up for giving it a go. No one really knowing what that meant 🙂.
A quick march to the event field – these people are all like us – they have got up today and arrived here to do their bit for man, club and beast.
Arrival in the tent, the familiar rustle, pillage, furious rifling. The flying carpet beneath, covered in all manner of baggage, contents strewn to the 4 corners, alongside an ice cream box of flapjacks. Brief, fleeting conversations – are you all set? no, (well maybe apart from Mark Burley 😉) .
The horn of Gondor:
Dashing to the start line to see our Leg 1 runners – like the ride of the valkyries, all waiting for the horn of Gondor to sound. A startling charge.
Into the holding pen with Emma for our Leg 2 – I knew I was in wonderful feet. She felt nervous like me – both shaking. Catherine charged down the slippery hill looking really strong – we felt very proud – off we went. All the adrenaline surged at once – ‘We’ve gone off too fast – I feel dizzy’ stated Emma – thank God, it’s not just me, I puffed, as we settled ourselves into a lovely rhythm.
Up onto the fell, I didn’t even used to really know what that was when I used to cycle round the lake district many years ago – we once saw ‘fell runners’ on one of our trips, our friend pointing to them charging down the mountain. I remember thinking what one earth are they doing, why would they be doing that? I felt the answer – I felt wonderful trailing up there behind Emma. Trying really hard, brain to muscle to sinew connection, everything alive and kicking.
Emma was brilliant – knowing exactly where we were and what was to come – we thought about the wonderful Terry and Barry looking down at us, dragging us up the sod.
Many sods of grass were indeed to come as we slithered down them with everyone else. We felt strong overtaking some other teams and gained confidence as we knew we weren’t too far now. We mounted yet another rocky crag and heard the commotion below. The distant tannoy, the cheering teams, my favourite cowbells.
We loved seeing our club mates Steve and Michael as we charged down – the end in sight, the excitement, endorphins pumping, brain to muscle connection now with utter ease as the hormones flew us down on the same magic carpet, so battered and filthy, but you could still smell the roses.
The moving parts of the silk loom all clacking together again as we saw the happy, windswept faces of our team mates and heard their very personal accounts and experiences. The atmosphere cheering in our Leg 3 runners and in and out our Leg 4 runners was like an Electric Eel Crag flashing through the clag. Such delight on the faces of the runners and the cheerers.
Le grand Depart:
All coming together proud and happy at the end of the day of our great achievements together. Aladdin’s cave of filthy accoutrements torn down – but the sediment remained. We stood proud for our team photo – the contentment and pride as we trudged back to the car – we could smell the roasted cauliflower, pizza, garlic bread, veggie curry wafting through the heating vents as we mused upon it for quite some time down the quiet motorway. The crags and fells around Braithwaite now fallen silent – the lone herdwick inspecting the churned up ground, as the breeze swirled and the stars lit the sodden gunnels.”