If Carlsberg made athletes…(Yorkshire Special Edition)

This is a Yorkshire special edition of my original blog, kindly translated by Dave Woodhead

By’eck Yorksha is famous for menny things – everyone nos it’s t’best county i’ t’lan’ by eur mile. Owt ‘a’ tastes or luks reet gran’ ‘as Yorksha i’ its title – Yorksha puddings, Yorksha teeur, Yorksha Bap ‘n t’ Tour de Yorksha ta nem bur eur few. Most importantly it’s alsoa ‘ooam o’ menny o’ t’ country’s finest ivva fell runners includin t’ Brownlee brothers, Ian ‘olmes, Rob Jebb, Victorieur Wilkinson ‘n Nicky Spinks. Neya wonda it’s known as ‘God’s own county’.

Yorkshire

Yorksha eur few weeks agoa i’d bin selected ta run for Yorksha int’ UK Inter-Counties Fell Runnin Championship – t’ ‘ighest standard o’ competition i’ fell runnin. For uz it’s allus eur girt ‘onour, nowt mecs uz prouda than wearin t’ vest wi’ t’ whi’ rose. Plus considerin t’ insane standard o’ athletes i’ wee county a’ t’ moa it’s almost akin ta earnin an international call up.

  1. Theur musteur bin born or li’ i’ Yorksher
  2. Theur mun be able ta speyt fluent Yorksher
  3. Theur mun be able ta run reet fast up’t gurt ‘ills
  4. Theur mun li’ pie ‘n peas
  5. Yorksha teeur mun be theur blood type

 

Thankfully ah tick orl t’ boxes.

‘ROB JEBB ‘AS BIN THEEAR, SEEN IT, DONE IT ‘N WON IT (SEVERAL TIMES OVER)’

Joinin uz int’ Yorksha team wor eur stellar line up o’ fell runnin superstars. our Thomas Adams wor t’ fust nem ont’ team sheet. Tom’s eur girt bloke ‘n eur gran’ bonnie lad o’ mine. ‘E’s eur regular GB international ‘n on ‘is day is virtually unbeytable, especially ont’ fasta, mooar runnable courses. T’ next nem ont’ list barely requires an introduction. Rob Jebb ‘as bin theear, seen it, done it ‘n won it (several times over). ‘E’s worshipped li’ eur god i’ Yorksha ‘n t’ shea mention o’ ‘is nem is enuff ta scare most opposition intoa submission. last bur not least are twoa young Yorkshamen whoa are t’ future o’ fell runnin. Ilklheur ‘arriers’ Jack Wood ‘n Dark Peyt’s our Thomas Saville. Jack ‘as bin winnin everythin i’ ‘is guinell recently ‘n, li’ our Thomas, is reeight much t’ real deal. Rememba thea names as thee are likely ta feyture a’ t’ top o’ race results for menny mooar years ta cum. Dis wor undoubtably ‘un o’ t’ strongest Yorksha teams i’ve ivva bin eur part o’ ‘n unsurprisingly we wor t’ pre-race favourites for team gowd.

DSC_0057Pictured above: A pre-race photo with Rob Jebb (L) and Tom Adams (R) (Woodentops)

The Inter-Counties Championship is an event which attracts eur ‘uge range o’ athletes FRA orl o’a t’ country. Dis race is unique int’ sense ‘a’ t’ reeight best runners FRA everee discipline can orl compete togetha ‘n t’ winna is allus someone whoa is t’ most complete athlete. int’ past menny o’ t’ courses selected fert Inter-Counties av bin mooar favourable teur t’ fasta trail or cross-country runners. ‘Oweva, dis year ‘ood be different wi’ moel eilioa as t’ chosen battlegroun’. T’ fact ‘a’ Rob Jebb ‘ed decided ta compete suggests ‘a’ dis is eur classic fell race ‘n not just eur few ‘illy laps o’ eur park. It wor eur race ‘a’ ah wor alsoa relishin. previously uz best ivva finish int’ Inter-Counties ‘ed bin 7th (2015), followed by 13th ‘n 15th. Today ah wor ‘opeful o’ a’ least eur top 10 or ‘appen even eur top 5. Ah wor already familiar wi’ t’ rahte as ah clegged it it 8 years agoa when it formed part o’ t’ British Championships, finishin i’ 22n’ place ‘a’ day. I’d alsoa teken um tahhm ta recce t’ final mile ‘n steep descent o’ Moel Cynghorian on Wednesday wi’ uz gran’ bonnie lad Math Roberts (cvfr) whoa lives i’ Llanberis. Preparation is, afta orl, t’ key ta success. ah think it’s ‘cos o’ dis reeight reason ‘a’ ah felt reeight relaxed ‘n confident a’ t’ start.

DSC_0066.JPGPictured above: The start of the race (Woodentops)

‘I WOR RACIN REEIGHT SENSIBLY ‘N USIN ORL O’ UZ EXPERIENCE AS EUR SEASONED FELL RUNNER

I began t’ race a’ eur reeight steady pace ‘n watched menny o’ t’ favourites clowt t’ front a’ pace. Ah didn’t panic. Li’ eur bi’ race ah could sense t’ others int’ pack watchin uz closely ta mek eur move. asteead, ah ‘eld uz groun’ ‘n settled intoa eur reeight comfortable speed ‘n rhythm. as t’ gradient began ta climb ah started ta fettle uz way thru t’ field, firstly intoa t’ top 10 ‘n then up ta 7th place. Ah wor racin reeight sensibly ‘n usin orl o’ uz experience as eur seasoned fell runna, ah knew ‘a’ um o’ t’ others ‘ood pay t’ price for eur fast start on such eur tough course.

DSC_0040Pictured above: The climb to the summit of Moel Eilio with Chris Farrell (Greater Manchester) just in front (Woodentops)

Ah felt gran’ ‘n as we approached t’ summit o’ moel eilioa i’d managed ta cop our Thomas (Adams) ‘n ah fahn’ missen i’ 4th position. Dis wor eur pivotal moa int’ race. FRA ‘eear ah worked togetha wi’ multiple English ‘n British champion Simon Bailey (Staffordshire). We encouraged apiece otha ta try ‘n cop t’ leaders – wee Christopha Smith (Middlesex) ‘n our Max Nicholls (Kent). It wor ‘un o’ those moments i’ll nivva getget, urgin apiece otha on, sharin wattah ‘n wukkin tactically despi’ bein part o’ eur different team. Ah rememba sayin ‘we can doa dis, these lads aren’t fell runners…we can bea’ ’em ont’ final descent’. Ta which ‘e replied ‘i think we need ta cop ’em ont’ climbs fust!’. ‘E wor reet. Ah wor bein reeight optimistic bur it wor t’ fust tahhm int’ race when ah rememba thinkin ‘a’ we meight actually be able ta win. Wee Christopha ‘n our Max wor clearly t’ fastest athletes, bur fell runnin is abaht sa much mooar than just pace. ah knew int’ back o’ uz min’ ‘a’ ah could descen’ quicka than anyone ‘n ah ‘ed eur strong feelin ‘a’ rahte choice ‘ood laik eur key role i’ decidin t’ fortunes o’ orl.

We continued ta chase bur it wor difficult ta tell if we wor closin t’ gap. T’ meeam thin wor thee wor still i’ seight. Ah tried ta cop uz breyth ont’ descent o’ Foel Goch as ah knew we ‘ed eur gurt climb ahead teur t’ summit o’ Moel Cynghorian. It wor ‘eear ‘a’ made uz killa move ‘n managed ta breyt away FRA Simon. We’d worked sa ‘ard togetha while naw bur ah knew if ah woontad ta win dis race then i’d need ta attack a’ um point. Ah wor feelin strong ‘n ah could sense eur 3rd place finish ont’ cards providin ah judged uz efforts correctly – theear wor still eur long way ta nip on. It seemed ta tek foreva ta finally reach t’ top, theear wor eur numba o’ false summits teasin uz along t’ way. Ah tuk eur few deep breyths ‘n composed missen afowa ah turned ta fyass t’ final descent.

‘THIS WOR GOAN BE EUR REAL SPRINT TEUR T’ FINISH – EVEREE SECON‘ ‘OOD COUNT!’

Ah began ta folla t’ leaders bur realised thee wor takin eur poor choice o’ line teur t’ botta. Ah could see ‘a’ thee wor gonneur tooa far teur t’ reet ‘n thee wor ‘eadin t’wards wha’ looked li’ an orange flag or eur marshall wearin ‘i-vis ‘appen. Ah knew it wasn’t t’ reet line bur it did mek uz question whetha or not t’ organisers ‘ed added an extreur checkpoint. Doa ah folla? or doa ah trust uz gut feelin ‘n nip on uz own way? Ah glanced o’a uz shoulda ta see which line simon wor takin. ‘E wor ‘eadin gallock. It confirmed wha’ ah wor thinkin ‘n ah sharp switched direction. Ah knew wee Christopha ‘n our Max ‘ood soon realise thea mistake ‘n ah knew Simon ‘ood be flyin daahn t’ descent li’ eur bloke possessed. Dis wor goan be eur real sprint teur t’ finish – everee secon’ ‘ood count! Ah tuk t’ most direct line bur it certainly wasn’t t’ easiest rahte. T’ groun’ wor boggy ‘n ‘eavily saturated, theear wor eur beck ta negotiate ‘n then eur fierce lahl kick up ta eur track which led t’wards t’ finish. Ah knew ah ‘ed ta gerr theear fust ta gi’ missen enny kin’ o’ chance o’ winnin dis race. Dis last mile wor goan ‘urt real bad. As ah reached t’ top ah tuk ‘un last glance behin’. Ah didn’t av much o’ eur gap bur ah knew it meight just be enuff. Simon wor naw i’ 2n’ wi’ wee Christopha ‘n our Max reet behin’. Ah gev it everythin ah ‘ed gallock ‘n tried not ta skeg back. Ah wor runnin scared ‘n theear wor still eur long way ta nip on. ah expected orl three o’ ’em ta pass uz a’ enny moa, it wor li’ bein i’ eur bad dream ‘n feelin li’ thy not runnin fast enuff. Ah wor on uz absolute limit bur ah knew wha’ wor a’ stake ‘n ah wasn’t goan roll o’a ‘n concede defea’ just yet. ‘Keep wukkin, keep sprintin ah thought…you can doa dis!!!’

13239392_217748495276012_1969911668960856083_nPictured above: The final sprint along the track – victory in sight! (Sports Pictures Cymru)

I clegged it as ‘ard ‘n as fast as ah uz legs ‘n lungs could both manage ‘n it wasn’t while t’ reeight last 100m ‘a’ ah knew i’d won. Ah couldn’t beleev it! as ah crossed t’ line ah could’ve cried ah wor sa ‘appy, ah nivva dreamed i’d ivva win eur race dis gurt. Ta win t’ Inter-Counties Championship whilst wearin eur Yorksha vest is jannock literally eur dream cum true for uz. It wor just ‘un o’ those days wheear absolutely everythin went reet ‘n ah clegged it t’ perfect race – cleva, tactical ‘n reeight experienced. I’d won ‘cos ah wor t’ best fell runna ont’ day, not ‘cos ah wor t’ fastest athlete. Ah fahn’ missen apologisin ta wee Christopha ‘n our Max whoa finished i’ 3rd ‘n 4th respectively. ‘Ed thee not av teken eur poor line ont’ final descent ah would’ve bin sa’ ‘eear writin abaht ‘a suited ah wor wi’ winnin eur bronze medal. Bur dis is ‘un o’ t’ menny reasons why fell runnin is such eur gran’ ‘n unique spoarts. Ta win eur race a’ dis level absolutely everythin ‘as ta nip on reet ont’ day. Aye theur need ta be fast ‘n obviously theur need ta be able ta climb ‘n descen’ li’ eur proa. Bur most importantly theur need ta be able ta choose t’ reet tactics, navigate confidently ‘n, o’ course, av plenty o’ jouce on thy side. I’d done everythin reet ‘n reaped t’ rewards. dis ‘ed bin eur fell runnin masterclass.

DSC_0033Pictured above: The first 4 men (L to R) Chris Smith, myself, Simon Bailey and Max Nicholls (Woodentops)

Ah wor alsoa supa suited for Simon. We’ve battled against apiece otha menny times afowa ont’ fells bur today ah felt li’ it wor eur shared victory, we’d chuffin’ pushed apiece otha ta 1st ‘n 2n’ ont’ day. Ah wor disappointed for wee Christopha ‘n our Max – thee deserved mooar for thea efforts bur assured uz thee wor ‘appy wi’ t’ result. They’re both chuffin’ girt guys ‘n real athletes. I’ve neya doubt they’ll both lern uz eur lesson i’ mounteeam runnin a’ t’ next trials race!

13245418_654796408002359_1893029775781462515_nPictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Champions 2016! (Woodentops)

In t’ women’s race ah wor suited ta see wee beeam ‘Eidi Dent (Cumbria) tek t’ gowd ‘n demonstrate ta everyone (once agin!) just wha’ real form she’s i’. Dis lass chuffin’ is destined for girt things. Run o’ t’ day ‘oweva mun nip on ta Lou Roberts (Cumbria) for ‘a amazin 2n’ place. As eur V40 she’s int’ form o’ ‘a life ‘n deserves tremendous praise for orl o’ ‘a results sa far dis year. Annie Conway rounded up t’ top 3 ta mek it eur clean sweep for Cumbrieur ‘n showin ‘a’ thee chuffin’ are t’ dominant force i’ women’s fell runnin.

DSC_0182Pictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Team Champions 2016! From L to R: Rob Jebb, Tom Adams, myself, Jack Wood and Tom Saville (Woodentops)

DSC_0591Pictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Team Silver Medallists 2016! From L to R: Georgia Malir, Holly Page, Katie Walshaw, Sharon Taylor and Claire Green (Woodentops)

Surprisingly afta such gran’ individual results we managed ta defen’ wee Inter-Counties team title which truly t’ icin on eur reeight large cake! T’ Yorksha wimmin finished i’ 2n’ place behin’ eur reeight dominant Cumbrieur. eur gran’ day for wee girt county ‘n ‘un ‘a’ will surely keep t’ Woodhead’s smilin while t’ next ‘un!

The finest day o’ uz athletic carea sa far.

StravaMen’s Results |  Women’s Results | Team Results | Photos

DSC_0517Pictured above: Rob Jebb showing me how to drink like a Yorkshireman (Woodentops)

Ah may av enjoyed t’ rare trea’ o’ lampin Rob i’ eur fell race bur when it comes ta suppin ‘e’s reeight much i’ eur class o’ ‘is own. If Carlsberg made athletes…they’d be FRA Yorksha ‘n they’d be called Rob Jebb. wha’ eur legen’.

 

 

If Carlsberg made athletes…

By’eck Yorkshire is famous for many things – everyone knows it’s t’best county in t’land by a mile. Anything that tastes or looks reet good has Yorkshire in its title – Yorkshire puddings, Yorkshire tea, Yorkshire stone and the Tour De Yorkshire to name but a few. Most importantly it’s also home of many of the country’s finest ever fell runners including the Brownlee brothers, Ian Holmes, Rob Jebb, Victoria Wilkinson and Nicky Spinks. No wonder it’s known as ‘God’s own county’.

Yorkshire

A few weeks ago I’d been selected to run for Yorkshire in the UK Inter-Counties fell running championship – the highest standard of competition in fell running. For me it’s always a great honour, nothing makes me prouder than wearing the vest with the white rose. Plus considering the insane standard of athletes in our county at the moment it’s almost akin to earning an international call up.

Below is the strict selection policy for the Yorkshire fell running team (as proclaimed by Dave Woodhead):

  1. Tha musta bin born or live in Yorkshire
  2. Tha must be able to speak fluent Yorkshire
  3. Tha must be able to run reet fast up’t big hills
  4. Tha must like pie and peas
  5. Yorkshire tea must be tha blood type

Thankfully I tick ALL the boxes.

ROB JEBB HAS BEEN THERE, SEEN IT, DONE IT AND WON IT (SEVERAL TIMES OVER)’ 

Joining me in the Yorkshire team was a stellar line up of fell running superstars. Tom Adams was the first name on the team sheet. Tom’s a great bloke and a good friend of mine. He’s a regular GB international and on his day is virtually unbeatable, especially on the faster, more runnable courses. The next name on the list barely requires an introduction. Rob Jebb has been there, seen it, done it and won it (several times over). He’s worshipped like a god in Yorkshire and the sheer mention of his name is enough to scare most opposition into submission. Last but not least are two young Yorkshiremen who are the future of fell running. Ilkley Harriers’ Jack Wood and Dark Peak’s Tom Saville. Jack has been winning everything in his path recently and, like Tom, is very much the real deal. Remember their names as they are likely to feature at the top of race results for many more years to come. This was undoubtably one of the strongest Yorkshire teams I’ve ever been a part of and unsurprisingly we were the pre-race favourites for team gold.

DSC_0057Pictured above: A pre-race photo with Rob Jebb (L) and Tom Adams (R) (Woodentops)

The inter-counties championship is an event which attracts a huge range of athletes from all over the country. This race is unique in the sense that the very best runners from every discipline can all compete together and the winner is always someone who is the most complete athlete. In the past many of the courses selected for the inter-counties have been more favourable to the faster trail or cross-country runners. However, this year would be different with Moel Eilio as the chosen battleground. The fact that Rob Jebb had decided to compete suggests that this is a classic fell race and not just a few hilly laps of a park. It was a race that I was also relishing. Previously my best ever finish in the inter-counties had been 7th (2015), followed by 13th and 15th. Today I was hopeful of at least a top 10 or perhaps even a top 5. I was already familiar with the route as I ran it 8 years ago when it formed part of the British Championships, finishing in 22nd place that day. I’d also taken some time to recce the final mile and steep descent of Moel Cynghorian on Wednesday with my good friend Math Roberts (CVFR) who lives in Llanberis. Preparation is, after all, the key to success. I think it’s because of this very reason that I felt very relaxed and confident at the start.

DSC_0066Pictured above: The start of the race (Woodentops)

‘I WAS RACING VERY SENSIBLY AND USING ALL OF MY EXPERIENCE AS A SEASONED FELL RUNNER

I began the race at a very steady pace and watched many of the favourites hit the front at pace. I didn’t panic. Like a bike race I could sense the others in the pack watching me closely to make a move. Instead, I held my ground and settled into a very comfortable speed and rhythm. As the gradient began to climb I started to work my way through the field, firstly into the top 10 and then up to 7th place. I was racing very sensibly and using all of my experience as a seasoned fell runner, I knew that some of the others would pay the price for a fast start on such a tough course.

DSC_0040Pictured above: The climb to the summit of Moel Eilio with Chris Farrell (Greater Manchester) just in front (Woodentops)

I felt good and as we approached the summit of Moel Eilio I’d managed to catch Tom (Adams) and I found myself in 4th position. This was a pivotal moment in the race. From here I worked together with multiple English and British champion Simon Bailey (Staffordshire). We encouraged each other to try and catch the leaders – Chris Smith (Middlesex) and Max Nicholls (Kent). It was one of those moments I’ll never forget, urging each other on, sharing water and working tactically despite being part of a different team. I remember saying ‘We can do this, these lads aren’t fell runners…we can beat them on the final descent’. To which he replied ‘I think we need to catch them on the climbs first!’. He was right. I was being very optimistic but it was the first time in the race when I remember thinking that we might actually be able to win. Chris and Max were clearly the fastest athletes, but fell running is about so much more than just pace. I knew in the back of my mind that I could descend quicker than anyone and I had a strong feeling that route choice would play a key role in deciding the fortunes of all.

We continued to chase but it was difficult to tell if we were closing the gap. The main thing was they were still in sight. I tried to catch my breath on the descent of Foel Goch as I knew we had a big climb ahead to the summit of Moel Cynghorian. It was here that made my killer move and managed to break away from Simon. We’d worked so hard together until now but I knew if I wanted to win this race then I’d need to attack at some point. I was feeling strong and I could sense a 3rd place finish on the cards providing I judged my efforts correctly – there was still a long way to go. It seemed to take forever to finally reach the top, there were a number of false summits teasing me along the way. I took a few deep breaths and composed myself before I turned to face the final descent.

‘THIS WAS GOING TO BE A REAL SPRINT TO THE FINISH – EVERY SECOND WOULD COUNT!’

I began to follow the leaders but realised they were taking a poor choice of line to the bottom. I could see that they were going too far to the right and they were heading towards what looked like an orange flag or a marshall wearing hi-vis perhaps. I knew it wasn’t the right line but it did make me question whether or not the organisers had added an extra checkpoint. Do I follow? Or do I trust my gut feeling and go my own way? I glanced over my shoulder to see which line Simon was taking. He was heading left. It confirmed what I was thinking and I quickly switched direction. I knew Chris and Max would soon realise their mistake and I knew Simon would be flying down the descent like a man possessed. This was going to be a real sprint to the finish – every second would count! I took the most direct line but it certainly wasn’t the easiest route. The ground was boggy and heavily saturated, there was a stream to negotiate and then a fierce little kick up to a track which led towards the finish. I knew I had to get there first to give myself any kind of chance of winning this race. This last mile was going to hurt real bad. As I reached the top I took one last glance behind. I didn’t have much of a gap but I knew it might just be enough. Simon was now in 2nd with Chris and Max right behind. I gave it everything I had left and tried not to look back. I was running scared and there was still a long way to go. I expected all three of them to pass me at any moment, it was like being in a bad dream and feeling like your not running fast enough. I was on my absolute limit but I knew what was at stake and I wasn’t going to roll over and concede defeat just yet. Keep working, keep sprinting I thought…you can do this. Not long to go now…jeez maybe I CAN do this!!!

13239392_217748495276012_1969911668960856083_nPictured above: The final sprint along the track – victory in sight! (Sports Pictures Cymru)

I ran as hard and as fast as I my legs and lungs could both manage and it wasn’t until the very last 100m that I knew I’d won. I couldn’t believe it! As I crossed the line I could’ve cried I was so happy, I never dreamed I’d ever win a race this big. To win the inter-counties championship whilst wearing a Yorkshire vest is quite literally a dream come true for me. It was just one of those days where absolutely everything went right and I ran the perfect race – clever, tactical and very experienced. I’d won because I was the best fell runner on the day, not because I was the fastest athlete. I found myself apologising to Chris and Max who finished in 3rd and 4th respectively. Had they not have taken a poor line on the final descent I would’ve been sat here writing about how pleased I was with winning a bronze medal. But this is one of the many reasons why fell running is such a fantastic and unique sport. To win a race at this level absolutely everything has to go right on the day. Yes you need to be fast and obviously you need to be able to climb and descend like a pro. But most importantly you need to be able to choose the right tactics, navigate confidently and, of course, have plenty of luck on your side. I’d done everything right and reaped the rewards. This had been a fell running masterclass.

DSC_0033Pictured above: The first 4 men (L to R) Chris Smith, myself, Simon Bailey and Max Nicholls (Woodentops)

I was also super pleased for Simon. We’ve battled against each other many times before on the fells but today I felt like it was a shared victory, we’d really pushed each other to 1st and 2nd on the day. I was disappointed for Chris and Max – they deserved more for their efforts but assured me they were happy with the result. They’re both really great guys and outstanding athletes. I’ve no doubt they’ll both teach me a lesson in mountain running at the next trials race!

13245418_654796408002359_1893029775781462515_nPictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Champions 2016! (Woodentops)

In the women’s race I was pleased to see my friend Heidi Dent (Cumbria) take the gold and demonstrate to everyone (once again!) just what outstanding form she’s in. This girl really is destined for great things. Run of the day however must go to Lou Roberts (Cumbria) for her amazing 2nd place. As a V40 she’s in the form of her life and deserves tremendous praise for all of her results so far this year. Annie Conway rounded up the top 3 to make it a clean sweep for Cumbria and showing that they really are the dominant force in women’s fell running.

DSC_0182Pictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Team Champions 2016! From L to R: Rob Jebb, Tom Adams, myself, Jack Wood and Tom Saville (Woodentops)

DSC_0591.JPGPictured above: UK Inter-County Fell Running Team Silver Medallists 2016! From L to R: Georgia Malir, Holly Page, Katie Walshaw, Sharon Taylor and Claire Green (Woodentops)

Unsurprisingly after such fantastic individual results we managed to defend our Inter-Counties team title which was truly the icing on a very large cake! The Yorkshire women finished in 2nd place behind a very dominant Cumbria. A fantastic day for our great county and one that will surely keep the Woodhead’s smiling until the next one!

THE finest day of my athletic career so far.

StravaMen’s Results |  Women’s Results | Team Results | Photos

DSC_0517Pictured above: Rob Jebb showing me how to drink like a Yorkshireman (Woodentops)

I may have enjoyed the rare treat of beating Rob in a fell race but when it comes to drinking he’s very much in a class of his own.

If Carlsberg made athletes…they’d be from Yorkshire and they’d be called Rob Jebb. What a legend.

 

P.S. If you’re a lover of Yorkshire like myself then it’s also worth checking out my two favourite Youtube videos…

Yorkshireman vs Predator | Yorkshire Airlines

 

If you enjoyed reading this blog then please SHARE and FOLLOW on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Strava | Instagram

Supported by inov-8 | Powered by Mountain Fuel

 

Race the train!

‘I FIND THAT THE HARDER I WORK, THE MORE LUCK I SEEM TO HAVE’ Thomas Jefferson

Running has provided me with a tremendous amount of opportunities over the last few years. I’ve been fortunate enough to represent my club, county and country at what I do best, I’ve competed in some brilliant races at home and abroad and I’m supported by three fantastic sponsors who have all helped me to achieve some amazing things. I consider myself to be a very lucky and privileged person. That said, I also know that I’ve worked extremely hard for all of my success thus far. I set myself challenging targets and do everything I can to achieve my goals. To quote the great Thomas Jefferson – ‘I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have’.
 A few weeks ago I received a phone call from one of the producers of BBC TV’s programme Countryfile. He asked me if I might consider being involved in an episode that would be filmed in Snowdonia. Immediately he had my full attention. This particular part of North Wales is extremely special to me. I love the Welsh people and I love the beautiful, natural environment with its majestic mountains and stunning coastline. I have many fond memories of spending summer holidays here during my childhood but most of all, I’ve always had a natural affinity and obsession with the country’s greatest natural landmark – Mount Snowdon. I’ve climbed Snowdon many times and last year I even finished 3rd in the prestigious Snowdon International mountain race. Since then I’ve made it my personal goal to one day return and try to add my name to the history books with a memorable victory of my own.
Snowdon Twilight.jpg
Pictured above: A glorious sunset over the town of Llanberis, taken after the Snowdon Twilight Race 2015
So what exactly did they want me to do?
The proposal was particularly exciting. The idea being that I would take part in a race to the summit against one of the nation’s best loved presenters –John Craven‘Brilliant!’ I said. ‘I can definitely beat him’ (I hoped!)…I mean he must be at least 70! I might not even need a warm up!. Then came the real challenge – John would hitch a ride on the Snowdon Mountain Railway and I would run to the summit. It seemed I might just need that warm up after all.
Snowdon-1
Pictured above: The summit of Snowdon (courtesy of the Snowdon Mountain Railway)

JOHN CRAVEN IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE NICEST AND HUMBLEST MAN I’VE EVER MET IN MY LIFE’

As I made my journey to Llanberis I started to feel a little anxious, especially at the thought of working with a TV legend like John Craven. But there was no need for me to feel nervous in the slightest. As soon as we met, any fears I had were immediately put to rest. I can confirm with the utmost confidence that John Craven is quite possibly the nicest and humblest man I’ve ever met in my life. In fact,  5 minutes later I’d completely forgotten just how famous he was and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of his company – what an absolute legend.
IMG_4136
Pictured above: The pre-race picture – Red vs Blue!
The morning of filming finally arrived and I woke up full of excitement. The sun was shining and the conditions were perfect – the mountains around Llanberis looked breathtaking. John was in such a good mood after watching Sunderland AFC avoid relegation the night before that I thought he might even have the energy to run up Snowdon with me! Although when he realised just how warm it was I think he was very relieved to have a ticket for the train.

‘HE (KENNY STUART) IS ONE OF MY HEROES AND ARGUABLY THE GREATEST FELL RUNNER OF ALL TIME’

I was given an Osmo camera to film my journey whilst John took the train and conducted three interviews en route to the summit with Stephen Edwards (Snowdon Race director), Ken Jones (Snowdon Race founder) and Kenny Stuart (Snowdon Race record holder and fell running legend).

image3
Pictured above: John interviewing myself and Kenny on the summit of Snowdon.
I must confess to being very relieved when I heard Kenny was taking the train to the top of the mountain – I was more scared of racing him than the train! At 59 years of age he is still in fantastic shape and looks every inch the athlete. One of the highlights of the day for me was getting to meet and chat with him. He is one of my heroes and arguably the greatest fell runner of all time. During his incredibly successful career he set a number of truly outstanding records, many of which will never be broken. He was also British champion in 1984 and 1985 and among the records he set in those years were 1:02:18 at Skiddaw, 1:25:34 at Ben Nevis, and 1:02:29 at Snowdon. A truly inspirational man and I was grateful for all of the advice he gave me.
IMG_4135
 Pictured above: With fell running legend Kenny Stuart – one of my heroes!
Unfortunately I must remain tight-lipped as to the result of the race but I can confirm it was a very close finish and should certainly make for good viewing.
In addition to this Top Gear style contest the episode will also help raise the profile of mountain running in the UK, showcase Snowdonia in it’s glorious splendour and highlight the effect the race has on tourism in the area. Remarkably it adds a colossal £250,000 to the area’s economy during race weekend. It’s amazing what the power of one mountain can do.
The programme is scheduled to air on BBC 1 on Sunday, 29th May 2016 at 7.00pm.
The 41st Snowdon International Race will take place on Saturday 16th July 2016 at 2.00pm and the highlights will be shown on S4C (time and date TBC).
final-ridge.jpg
Pictured above: The final ascent to the summit (courtesy of the Snowdon Mountain Railway)

 

If you enjoyed reading this blog then please SHARE and FOLLOW on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Strava | Instagram

Supported by inov-8 | Powered by Mountain Fuel

Up The Nab

What a difference a few days can make. Last Saturday I was sitting on top of Whernside in deep snow watching the 3 Peakswrapped up in every single piece of emergency kit I own. Four days later and I’m running in glorious sunshine wearing nothing but a pair of tiny shorts and a racing vest. Only in our country is the weather so varied and unpredictable – This is England.

As I stood watching the 3 Peaks I couldn’t help but feel jealous of those who were competing. I had entered the race but decided not to run a few weeks ago. After such a good result at Black Combe in March my priorities suddenly changed with my new focus being to win the English Fell Running Championship this season – a bold and ambitious dream I know, but if you want to win big then the first step has to be believing you can do it.

PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS’

Up The Nab – the 2nd race in the English Championship, was set to be a hotly contested race. In a ‘short’ race counter there is no margin for error where 30 seconds can often be the difference between 10 places or even more. I knew I’d have to be on top of my game if I was to pick up some serious championship points.

Preparation is the key to success and I was keen to take a look at the course despite the fact I knew the route would be flagged on the day. Even though navigation was never going to be an issue it’s always beneficial to complete a recce as you can see the severity of the climbs and, most importantly, judge where best to make your serious efforts on the day. So with this in mind I’d arranged to meet Des Gibbons (the race organiser) who’d very kindly agreed to take me round the route. Des is an absolute diamond of a bloke, a real character and a brilliant ambassador for the sport. To be honest I was looking forward to the recce just as much as the race itself.

IMG_4113.JPGPictured above: A fantastic evening with fantastic company (Des, Caitlin and Joss the dog showing me the ‘Up The Nab’ race route)

I make my way patiently through rush hour traffic and arrange to meet Des at Glossop Rugby Club, the HQ for the race. As I sit in the car-park I’m greeted with a lovely surprise as Caitlin Rice, one of the country’s leading female fell runners, pulls up beside me. Apparently Des is worried that he won’t have the energy to talk to me on the way round so he’s invited her along to keep me distracted. I’m really pleased because Caitlin is a lovely woman and a very humble champion. It’s always a pleasure to share the fells with such good company.

We’re not waiting long. Des whizzes into the car-park like Lewis Hamilton and explains he’s only just got the train back from work and is working again tonight straight after this recce. It’s clear that he lives his life in the same way that he drives his car…very much in the fast lane! The fact he’s taken the time out of his busy day to meet me tells you exactly what kind of guy he is. I promise him a few pints on race day (afterwards of course!) and we enjoy the a fantastic recce in glorious sunshine.

‘IT’S ALL SET TO BE A CLASSIC BATTLE BETWEEN THE VERY BEST IN THE COUNTRY’

IMG_4118Pictured above: Perhaps the widest start line I’ve ever seen!

Race day finally arrives and field is stacked. There are very few of the top runners missing and it’s all set to be a classic battle between the very best in the country.

As I stand nervously on the start line I think clearly about my race tactics. The first climb is extremely runnable so I plan to attack early in my usual trademark fashion. I hit the front and work hard to try and build up an early lead. This is partly because I like to start fast and partly because I want to try and split the field early. As I approach the summit I glance back to see I’ve a few metres on the chasing group and I’m feeling strong. From here it’s a quick descent before another short climb which leads to a fast runnable track. I try and put in another effort but something’s not right – it feels like I’m missing an extra gear. I’m beginning to feel the heat already and it’s not long before I’m overtaken by all three of my main rivals – Sam Tosh, Simon Bailey and Steve Hebblethwaite. My tactic now is to try and stay with this elite group of athletes. I have to finish in the top 5 if I’m to have any chance of keeping my hopes of winning the championship alive.

Pictured above: Attacking early with my trademark start.

A couple of miles in and I’m desperate for a drink. I’m that thirsty I even contemplate licking the sweat from my arms but I don’t have time to do anything other than try and hang on to the leaders. I can hear another runner close behind and soon after I’m overtaken by none other than my good friend and fell running legend Rob Hope. My heart sinks. Rob finished 5th last weekend at the 3 Peaks and we joked about how funny it would be if he beat me a week later with ‘Peaks legs’. Well when I say ‘we joked’, what I really mean is that ‘he laughed’ and I just pretended to – it wasn’t funny then and it’s even less funny now. The trouble is it’s actually happening. I’m going backwards fast and I’ve another 3 climbs and almost 3 miles left to run. I need to save this race quickly or my dreams of becoming English champion are about to disappear before my very eyes. I’m at my limit, breathing hard, grafting like mad and desperate for a drink. Seriously, I could murder someone for just a mouthful of water. I can’t believe Des hasn’t put a water station at every mile! I mean, what kind of 4.5 mile fell race doesn’t have a water station at every mile?! Just wait ’til I finish – I’m gonna complain to the FRA.

‘THERE’S NO WAY I CAN LET ROB BEAT ME, I’LL NEVER HEAR THE BLOODY END OF IT’

It’s not often I’m praying for the end of a run but this one can’t come soon enough. Each time we hit a descent I try and claw back some time to keep myself in the mix but this race is slipping away fast. I’m in danger of dropping out of the top 10 if I’m not careful so I grit my teeth and hang in. There’s no way I can let Rob beat me – I’ll never hear the bloody end of it! He’ll be texting me all night to gloat so I’m just going to have to man up and tough it out. 

Here comes the penultimate climb…..OUCH! This hurts bad. My lungs are on fire, my mouth is bone-dry and my heart is about to explode in my chest. Well that’s certainly how it feels. Remind me again why I do this to myself? We finally reach the top and I’m right behind Rob with the 3 leaders just in front.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 14.49.51Pictured above: Working hard on the penultimate climb.

The penultimate climb on video (courtesy of Simon Entwhistle)

I desperately try and catch my breath. The lads are already back in their stride after the climb and I have no choice but to follow suit. I make a bold move and jump in front of Rob. I worry I’ve gone too early. Thankfully he doesn’t respond – perhaps his ‘Peaks legs’ are finally kicking in. It’s about time surely? Just one more climb to go. I dig deep and hold onto 4th place until the summit. I’m blowing hard now and I can’t wait to start this final descent. I can see Simon and Steve in front battling for the lead but my eye is fixed firmly on Sam Tosh in 3rd. I throw myself down the hill as fast as I can. This is going to hurt.

IMG_4119Pictured above: Descending down the final field.

As I enter the final field I’m spent. I watch Simon take the win from Steve and see Sam hold on for 3rd. I haven’t got the energy for a sprint finish so I quickly glance behind. I’m relieved to see that I’ve done enough for 4th place and I’m pleased. It’s another 47 points in the bag and it’s my second best ever finish in an English Championship race.

StravaMen’s Results | Women’s ResultsPhotos | Video

‘I’M NOT MAKING ANY EXCUSES, I WAS BEATEN BY THREE BETTER ATHLETES ON THE DAY’

It takes me quite a few minutes to recover. I know I’ve worked seriously hard, I literally couldn’t have put any more into that race. This is by far the worst I’ve physically felt all season. A number of people ask me if I’m happy with 4th? To be honest it’s a question I never thought I’d ever be asked. Who wouldn’t be happy with 4th place in the English Champs? I suppose I should take it as a compliment. There’s an expectation on me to win every race now and I have to accept that it comes with the price of being a successful athlete. Obviously, I race to win but as I mentioned in my blog about Black Combe – to win a English Championship race absolutely everything has to go well. This was not my finest performance. Although I’m in form I didn’t get my tactics right at the start and I didn’t feel at my best. But I’m not making any excuses, I was beaten by three better athletes on the day and had Rob not raced at the 3 Peaks then I’m sure I would have been 5th. The main thing is I didn’t give up and I fought hard to earn a top place finish, so in many ways it’s one of my best results this year. Most importantly, this puts me in a very strong position with 4 races still to go.

English Fell Running Championship Results Table

It must’ve been a fantastic race to watch, it was an epic battle. I must also take this opportunity to praise the super talented Simon Bailey. He deserves huge credit for his win, as do Steve Hebblethwaite and Sam Tosh for their superb efforts. Before the race I predicted that all three men would be fighting for first place – they are my biggest rivals this season and it now looks likely that one of us will be crowned champion at the end of the year.

Congratulations also to Heidi Dent, Vic Wilkinson and Lou Roberts who were the top three women respectively. Heidi’s time and winning margin was unbelievable and she will be very hard to beat this season. Amazingly, Vic still finished 2nd despite racing hard at the 3 Peaks last weekend and based on this season’s results Lou really is back to her very best. 

‘WE ALL RUN FOR THE SAME TEAM, WE JUST WEAR DIFFERENT VESTS

Despite an intense rivalry between all the top athletes, what makes fell running such a fantastic sport is the friendship and community spirit between all of the runners. My favourite part of every race is catching up with old friends, making new ones and planning our next adventures together. As I said to my good friend Carl Bell after the race…‘We all run for the same team, we just wear different vests’.

Other sports could learn a lot from fell running.

Pictured above: With Carl Bell (L) and Calvin Ferguson (R)

 

If you enjoyed reading this blog then please SHARE and FOLLOW on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Strava | Instagram

Supported by inov-8 | Powered by Mountain Fuel