Otley and Kettlewell fell races

You wait ages for one then two come along at once. Thought I’d share how my first 24 hours back with Valley Striders (after a 10 year interlude) have gone. Two fell races on successive evenings. I’ve given myself an evening off this running lark tonight quite happily!

On Wednesday I did the Otley Chevin race. This is a good introduction to fellrunning for us north Leeds types, being the nearest fell race to Leeds on the calendar and a relatively straightforward prospect – run to the top of the Chevin from Otley town centre and back. Of course, it’s still pretty demanding in its own way. Most of the 700ft climb comes steeply all at once and needs pacing carefully, otherwise you really suffer on those interminable steps (215 – count ’em). Once at the top, you’re very quickly into the rapid descent, so not much time to do the transition from uphill to downhill running (two very different disciplines). And the sting in the tail is the long, flattish run-in through the coach park and down the cobbles of Queens Terrace – difficult to do a flat-out finish along here.

Anyway, it all seemed to go pretty well and it was good to be back fellracing in a Striders vest for the first time since Withins Skyline 2007! Stiffness wasn’t too bad in the morning, which encouraged me to head up Wharfedale later in the day and have a crack at the Kettlewell Anniversary race as well. This presented a rather different kind of challenge, having 2 significant climbs and descents in its 5 miles, plus an abominably stony track towards the finish (almost like scree running at times). After the exertions of the previous evening, I was even more glad to reach the finish line than usual. However, this was more than compensated for by the spectacular scenery on a gorgeous Dales evening, plus the route being mainly on sheep-cropped grass, always a pleasure to run on. And the convivial, informal banter of the “50 folks in a field” doing their mildly eccentric midweek thing definitely takes the pressure off – no big race nerves here!

Due to working weekends at the moment, I’m on the lookout for midweek short fellraces like these this summer, and happy to offer a lift to any Striders that want to give one a go.


The initial climb of the Kettlewell Anniversary race up to Gate Cote Scar

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