Saturday, 6 August 2011

Teggs Nose Fell Race

Every year the Macclesfield Sheep Dog Trials are held (cue jokes about most of them being found guilty).  They are held just a couple of fields away from our house, and each year we say we really ought to go and support them.  In addition to the sheep dog element there are plenty of other honest country pursuits featured too - corn dolly making, tug-o-war competitions, and ethnic minority lynching.  Ok, I made the last one up, but this is the kind of event much favoured by the kind of folk who think the Countryside Alliance are a bunch of townie do-gooders.  Anyway, there are two staples of the weekend, the Sunday night concert in the Grand Marquee (this year featuring the Grumbleweeds - how are we going to resist that?), and the Saturday afternoon fell race.  Well, this year I decided to support the event by having a go at said race - the Teggs Nose Fell Race.

I made that decision 43 minutes before the event was due to start; the rain was holding off, I decided that the bike-mechanicing currently needed could wait till tomorrow, and so it was on with the running lycra, vaseline and trail running shoes.  Five of my English pounds later I was be-numbered and on the start line with about another 100 or so hardies.  Slightly surreally the man getting us under starter's orders was Nicholas Winterton, though I think he adds a 'Sir' these days.  So, one speech later we were off on the 7.5 mile course.

And it turned our to be the hardest 73 minutes of physical exercise I've had in ages.  Typically, everyone went off at a mad pace, and I was soon to regret it when we hit the first hill.  Let me try to paint a picture.  Apart from the first and last mile, there was literally no flat surfaces.  At its most benign the course took us through thistle- and nettle-dominated farmers' fields, where dodging the cow pats was as challenging as the terrain.  At its most evil, the uphill was like mountaineering and the downhill was steeper than a ski jump.  It was a battle just to stay on two feet, and I don't think many of us managed it, needing the assistance of our backside to descend.  In between the uncomfortable and the benign were the footpaths of Teggs Nose Country Park, twisting, turning, and going through endless gates.  When the sun came out the flies were attracted to us in the same way you see them round a cow's behind, and when it didn't the atmosphere was muggy and repressive. All in all, it was fairly hard work, and there were times I wasn't completely sure I was enjoying myself.  Particularly when I slipped in an especially muddy gateway, caking my lower limbs in an bovine-related digestive by-product.

However, I made it back it in one piece, and it only took about 10 minutes to decide that I'd really quite enjoyed in.  If I have a go next year I'll probably do a modicum of extra preparation.  I think the winners did it in about 53 minutes to my 73, but hey ho, there were plenty coming in still at 93 minutes.  It wasn't cycling, and I'm not entirely sure how much cross-training benefit there was, but it was better than the turbo-trainer!

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