How it was for me - British Fell Running Championship 2015

Finlay Wild - British Fell Running Champion 2015

This year one of my main goals was to have a good crack at the British Champs. I was second equal with Morgan Donnolly in 2013 (to winner Rob Jebb) in quite a close final result, decided on the fourth and final race of the series - the fantastic Peris Horseshoe in Snowdonia. I learnt a lot by doing these races, particularly the importance of reccying: racing onsight, navigating from the front in the snow and mist of the Mourne Mountains was less than an ideal strategy and I found myself narrowly second (to Gavin Bland, previous British Champion) in the Silent Valley race. Unfortunately, on returning to the Mournes for the 2014 Champs race on Slieve Donard, I hadn't listened to my own advice and ended up coming totally unstuck - again without the benefit of a reccy - in the thick mist, along with half the field. So 2014 was out too for me and the Champs.

Come 2015 I was keen to have another go, but was clear from the start that reccying of the courses was essential. The first race, Ras Y Moelwyn starts from the lovely village of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. It promised to suit me well as it wasn't too long, and looked to be quite rough. I headed down early and had a good long look at the course, working out the best lines and getting a feel for it. After carefully checking race rules, route details and mandatory checkpoints it was time for the race, which I thoroughly enjoyed as a really variable and interesting course on which everything seemed to come together for me (fitness, navigation, pacing) to achieve a clean win. I didn't forget my plan however and diligently stopped by at Wasdale for a Lingmell Dash reccy on the way back home to Scotland. 

Now the pressure was on, Durisdeer in the Scottish Borders was the next race, which after reccying I knew would be a toughie. Rob Jebb's record seemed very quick considering the mix of tussocky slow terrain, and hard steep grassy ascents. There was also a fair amount of flattish running, which relatively speaking wouldn't be my strong point. Again this was a race I enjoyed as my prior reccy allowed a route choice which put me from around sixth place into first place without much extra effort from me, on the descent from the first peak. From here in I was being chased and had to dig in to try and keep ahead. Going up the big penultimate climb I felt slow in the rough grass and Rob Hope followed closely by Tom Owens came past me. Still quite close together I hung on as best I could down and then up the final small climb. I knew Tom was gone at this point, but put my all into a fast grassy descent to pull back on Rob and finish in second. Post race cakes were a highlight, probably some of the best of any race I've yet been to.

Lingmell Dash was the short race of the series, and I felt it could go reasonably for me as long as I didn't let the fast ascenders get too far ahead. It's fair to say my strength is in descent, but with only around 15 minutes downhill on this one I was going to need to really go for it. A spanner in the works was a minor calf injury around 10 days before the race which had me frantically attending for sports massage and physio. Thankfully things held out; I wore an elasticated bandage for some extra support which seemed to help without hindering motion too much. Watching the ladies race first gave quite a good tool for making some final tactical decisions, and the race really went how I had expected. I lost some ground on the ascent, to be fifth at the top, but managed to push on down and get back into second behind English Champion Simon Bailey. I couldn't quite catch Simon - who also beat me on the slightly similar Blisco Dash in 2013 - but my second place was enough to secure the Championship for me. The Seven Sevens in Ireland looks a brilliant tough race although with the Champs in the bag and with various other non-running commitments, I decided not to go this year.

So, a satisfying result and the effort of reccying and a generally more methodical approach was well worth it. Next up I look forward to racing another Ben Nevis, then a trip to New Zealand before back to some longer Scottish hill missions. Thanks to Norman Walsh for footwear.


Finlay Wild at Lingmell Dash, photo by Holmfirth Harriers

Comments

  1. Hi Finlay! I would love to get in touch with you ASAP about a documentary project.
    Would you please be able to give me a ring on 07523290709, or email at kate.villevoye@i-d.co?
    Many thanks!
    Kate

    ReplyDelete

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