Monday, 4 October 2010

Ian Hodgson Relay - Victory for Pennine

After Stanage Struggle two weeks ago I was considering winding down my running for the year. I had no more target races and there were four better runners than me who made up the men's half of the 8-person mixed team for the Ian Hodgson relays. But then disaster struck the Pennine mixed relay team camp, as one of our runners came down with a respiratory infection and they had to turn to first male reserve - me.

This was great news for me, as I really like the idea of competing as a team. It also meant that Mrs Noel and I would be part of the same team. We thought we were in with a fair chance of doing well, as our lady's half of the team is strong, and despite also having a Vet40 team, and a late-entry open (men's) team, we put a lot of our better men in the mixed team.

For those who don't know it, the Ian Hodgson Mountain relay is a 4-leg fell relay race where pairs of runners do each leg and then hand over to the next pair. Overall, it takes about 4-6 hours for the whole race. The rules state that you have to run together. This means if you're with a runner who's faster than you, you have to do your best not to slow them down.

I was given the first leg, along with my teammate Muir, who is faster than I am, but not embarrassingly so. Our leg was about 4.5 miles and had about 2800 feet of ascent in it. This is really very steep compared with most of the fell races I do around the Peak. However, I've done races such as Scafell Pike in the past which are similarly steep.

The good thing, for me, was that it finished in a higher place than the start, so there was more climbing than descending on the route. Luckily, we managed to find ourselves behind a few pairs of runners who obviously knew the route very well, so we could pick the best lines and follow a good pace. After a terrifying descent down some screes, we finished our leg 9th out of about 60 teams. I guess I would have kept up with Muir a bit better on the final descent if I hadn't stopped to take a photo on the way down. Only joking - this was taken on my reccie the day before. Note how much it resembles an 'aerial' photo.

We then handed over to Mrs Noel and her partner Lucy, who proceeded to run the 3rd fastest lady's time on their leg. After some great runs from the other 4 team members, we won by about 10 minutes. I think this is the first time Pennine have won anything at this event, and it's definitely the first time I've won anything. We should probably have taken a team photo, but we were too busy being grinning and patting each other on the back.

I can now wind down for the season on a high.