Saturday, 15 May 2010

Mount Famine - this is fell running

This is one of my favourite fell races. I've probably done it four or five times now, so I've put a bit of pressure on myself to do a better time each year.

It's a very sudden and pretty daft uphill start. You run up a grassy and tree-filled bank which is to the right of a valley-bottom footpath. So instead of jossling for places, everyone takes their own line for the first 200 metres. Here's a shot of the 2008 race, which sums it up pretty well.

I'm always quite a fast starter and am a better climber than descender so I normally try to get into a good position after the first climb. This time I was just ahead of Tom Brunt at the top of the first climb. Tom is a proper fell runner and wins races, so maybe I went off a bit too fast (again!!).

There were lots of steep climbing bits and I've found a new technique which seems to work. When the bits are too steep to run, most runners take large steps and put their hands on their knees to help them up the hills. I find that this works but I find the transition from slow steps to fast cadence running is quite hard. So today, I tried fast cadence walking and it seemed to work well. I certainly gained a few places by doing this.

Here's a shot of me looking dazed but happy about a third of the way into the race. I was pleased to finish tenth and to take about 1 minute 20 seconds off my time from last year. This now means there's more pressure on next year's time. There's probably a fine line between focus and obsession.

Mrs Noel was due to do this race as well but has a throat infection so has lost her voice. I should probably avoid making comments about the relative merits of this.

Photos courtesy of FRA forum members "Rudolph Hooker" and "finniganjones", respectively.


  1. Nice photo - sums up what fell-running's all about!

  2. Another great result Noel, well done.

  3. Thanks 4 Winds. It's funny how draining this start is - it's ony about 200 metres.

    Cheers Simon. I thought I'd done a bit better - judging by the people who I was close to, but I later realised most of them had raced the night before as part of the "3 days in May" series. Madness!

  4. another great result, makes me wonder why the sandcastle building and beer drinking training technique isnt gaining more attention,well done.

  5. Cheers Dave

    I've heard drinking and sandcastle building was what Lance Armstrong's team used to do in their secret training camps.