race reports

Jack Bloor Fell Race 2014

Tuesday 13th May 2014

Ilkley – Category BS (5.2m/1148ft)

By Martin Jones

The Jack Bloor Fell Race is an annual fell race held on Ilkley Moor as a tribute to Jack Bloor (1926-84) who was a pioneering climber and fell runner who also helped establish the Three Peaks Race and was a renowned orienteering coach. All the profits from the race are used to help young people improve their skills in outdoor sports.

The race is on this year’s Abbey Grand Prix as well as being part of the Fell League calendar. It was also my first ever fell race!

After the torrential afternoon rain the evening was sunny and perfect for running. Registration was opposite Darwin Gardens on Wells Road with plenty of parking on nearby streets and there was a large contingent of Abbey’s at the start line with 16 taking part.

We were all ushered into the start pen and after a few announcements the race started. Not everyone went the same way and a number of runners veered left through the trees on their journey up to the first checkpoint, with the bulk of the field taking the direct route straight up the hill. After the initial bottleneck of people working their way up the hill everyone picked or followed others in trying to find the easiest way up the first long climb. Not being particularly familiar with Ilkley Moor the climb seemed to be pretty relentless and according to my Garmin I clocked the first mile in 13m 24s with 178m/583ft of climb.

It then levelled off and we went slightly downhill through bracken before briefly joining a track that led to another steep but short climb. After reaching the top of this climb all I can remember from that point onwards was how wet and boggy the rest of the race was. It was a long slow slog up through marshes and I learnt my first lesson: don’t run too close to the person in front because when they go waist deep in sludge you will too! There were runners sinking everywhere. Every single stride was ankle deep in water and every now and then you’d have the surprise of disappearing into the ground.

Numbers were recorded at the third checkpoint, Cowper’s Cross which is where we joined the stone flag pathway that leads down towards Trig Point. I think this was my favourite part of the race as for the first time in about half an hour you get a little recovery and can began to get some rhythm going. Other Abbeys said they hated this part and I can see why but for me I now had the opportunity to appreciate the view without my head pounding!

After around a mile of appreciating the view and realising that fell shoes on stone flags aren’t so good after all, runners started to veer left in different directions. I followed a couple of runners through what looked like a reasonable track but realised quite quickly that the next half mile or so was going to be ankle to shin deep in water through shoulder high reeds and grass. After a couple of minutes of this I didn’t get one of my legs up quickly enough and promptly fell over, which was ok because I think the bloke behind me did as well – a knowing nod and we were on our way. It didn’t seem to end but eventually it did and after falling over again I was passed by Rob Jackson who signalled a way through the heather. Trouble is the heather looked like it was from a Teletubbies set and at some point I fell through that as well – it was just too dense to get your feet through plus by this stage the rest was welcome.

Now, the race is measured at 5.2 miles but at 5.2 miles I still couldn’t see the descent let alone the finish! I laboured on eventually reaching the last checkpoint but going over badly on my ankle in the process. I don’t remember much of the descent other than thinking in pain at the top that it looked like jumping off a cliff. I lost a couple of minutes coming down, going over on my ankle another three times and watching other runners streaming past, jumping and bouncing down through peat and undergrowth. It felt like an unforgiving descent but finally I made it to the bottom grimacing, through the stream and over the line collecting a bottle of pale ale along the way. I’d gone over half mile off course somewhere but managed to just scrape in under an hour.

Finishing the race felt like a real battle, not so much against the other runners but the hills and the terrain itself. Despite having an ankle the size of a football and being covered in peat and mud I really enjoyed it!

For those who’d like to try a fell race but aren’t sure, I’d really recommend it. It’s very friendly, cheap to enter and although it is challenging, as long as you pace sensibly it’s very runnable. Picking the right race is also important – I hadn’t reccie’d the course, was not that familiar with the moor and have zero navigational skills but there were people to follow at all stages of the race and it was just a case of staying focussed and enjoying it. Like with road races there are runners of all abilities and ‘short’ races like this are ideal for first timers.

Scott Leach took some excellent photos of the race which give you an idea of what it was like. They are also on the Yorkshire Runners Photos Facebook page.

 

Position

Name

Club

Time

Category

1

Ian Nixon

Pudsey & Bramley

41:25

M

51

Gill Myers

Wharfedale Harriers

51:47

LV50

4

Sam Alexander

Abbey Runners

43:02

M

10

Phil Livermore

Abbey Runners

44:03

M

19

Ian Furlong

Abbey Runners

45:17

M

24

Greg Weatherhead

Abbey Runners

46:07

M

58

Andy Davidson

Abbey Runners

52:36

MV40

65

Gareth Cavill

Abbey Runners

53:27

MV40

74

Richard Foster

Abbey Runners

54:18

M

78

Mike Ayers

Abbey Runners

54:56

MV50

86

Timothy Jacobs

Abbey Runners

55:44

MV40

102

Robert Jackson

Abbey Runners

57:44

MV40

116

Martin Jones

Abbey Runners

59:52

MV40

117

Ian Patchett

Abbey Runners

59:52

MV50

126

John Fortescue

Abbey Runners

61:05

MV50

190

Stella Cross

Abbey Runners

71:46

LV50

193

Dave Beston

Abbey Runners

72:07

MV50

194

Laura Edwards

Abbey Runners

72:21

L

 

 

 

 

 

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