Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bunsall Classic Fell Race

For those non-fell runners, Burnsall Classic is about 1.5 miles long and goes straight up and down the fell-side next to Burnsall, a picturesque village on the River Wharfe. It's one of the oldest fell races and has a great tradition. The record is under 13 minutes, I think. It always attracts a few big-name fell runners, such as Ian Holmes who won it last year. It's part of Burnsall Sport Feast, which includes a 10-mile road race and lots of kid's races. It's also a bit of a fete, with bouncy slides and the like for the kids.
I did this fell race last year but didn't have time for a warm up, and Mrs Noel missed the race completely because we arrived so late. I have secretly been aiming for a top-ten finish in this year's race since then. However, I've mainly been concentrating on cycling for a few weeks, so didn't think my top-ten dreams were realistic.

We warmed up well this year and I remembered what I learnt from last year - it's hard to overtake on the way down, so it's best to reach the summit in the position where you'd like to finish. I did this pretty well this year and was only overtaken by a few people on the descent, and overtook someone who was a slightly slower descender than me.

With about a quarter of a mile to go (just as this photo was taken) I passed my sister who was looking after the kids. Although I hadn't told her of my top-ten aspirations, she said "you're eleventh". This led to a testosterone-fuelled sprint on the final road section to overtake the guy in-front of me (you can just see his heels in the photo). For once, the sprint worked, and I caught him about 20 yards before the start of the funnel. It's amazing how much sprint you can have left when it really means something. So I can tick another of this year's ambitions.
It was then my job to count the ladies in. First was quite a long way clear of the female pack, but second was only just ahead of Mrs Noel. She later explained she had fallen entering the final field otherwise she was might have taken second. Mrs Noel was also first LV40, so won two prizes. She's getting used to all this prize winning now, but she claims to be mentally preparing for the day when she comes home empty-handed. Perhaps I should suggest some championship races.

We stayed to compete in the egg throwing competition. This involves teams of two people throwing an egg to each other over increasing distances. If you break or drop the egg, you're out. My brother-in-law and I managed three successful throws and catches until I aimed one high and wide and he was only able to deflect it to smash on some child's leg. Luckily, the child didn't seem overly concerned. Here's a picture of the early stages of one of the heats. If you look closely, you may be able to see an airborne egg.

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