The Ilkley Moor Fell Race
It's been a very hectic day, but in a thoroughly good way. First, I really enjoyed the fell race this morning and actually ran a lot harder and quicker than expected. Having made the most of last week's mild weather on the bike I haven't really been in running mode. I had planned to be very relaxed about the race and packed my camera into the bum bag with the intention of taking some pictures en route, but somehow meeting up with my mates and enjoying a bit of banter, I felt the adrenaline start to course through the veins. The weather was mild and the course quite dry. I stripped down to my running vest, dropped the camera off with a friend, and found myself ready to race and give it a bit of a go!
My main sparring partner got the break on me at the start and although I had him in my sights all the way around the course, I just couldn't find it in my legs to catch him up. On the final climb up to the Badger Stone I realised that it was going to be his day and just relaxed a little to coast home. Well run Mike! I did take the scalp of another (fair bit younger) mate on the way down, but at the finish found out that Mark had already done 40 miles on the bike before the race. That slightly took the gloss of that little victory! It's proving hard to get one over on my mates.
I've realised tonight that I first run this race exactly 20 years ago. Then I ran it in a time of 42.31 (my best ever was 40.44) and today I finished 50.24. I suppose that's not too rapid a decline! I finished in the top third of the field, generally my aim these days. I was on a terrific high afterwards, catching up with a lot of people I've not seen since last summer. I was even blipped at the finish by the good DrMackem! It feels very odd being billed as your blip father. And it seems strange to see my running persona on view here. I'm now regretting not having had a shave all weekend, but I guess it suits the rugged fell runner look! So thank you doctor for that photo (I think!), and the lovely write-up. It was good to see you.
Got back home with the intention of taking up a lunch invite but we had some impromptu house guests and I was overtaken by events (sorry Anna!). I also realised that I'd got so caught up with the post-race craic that I'd clean forgotten to grab a photo. It seemed appropriate to get a shot from somewhere along the course so I took off for a gentle jog to retrace the route up to the Badger Stone. This is of a favourite little spot, which marks a short steep section after a fast run off from the cairn. There is always a friend or two situated here to give me a shout. It's also a lovely spot to sit of a summer's evening.
Finally home once more, and having got changed yet again, I set off with my sons and our guests to return to the site of Friday's Murmuration. The starlings duly put on another amazing display for us. We now have two theories as to what they are up to. The first is that they are simply getting in training for their upcoming migration, starting their display at the same time every night, but flying for longer each day as dusk gets later in the evening. The second is that they are trying to gather a good crowd on the ground so they can have fun shitting on people! Of the five of us, three (including me) got splatted. Simon took one directly in the face! Perhaps that's what they were all chatting about in the trees afterwards.