7 Feb 2016 – Charnwood Hills Race

This year’s CHR sold out in some 25 mins, the 350-odd places snapped up so quick the website almost crashed. One of only two fell races in Leicestershire this race has now become one of the most popular and oversubscribed, given how many Leicestershire athletes we see on the actual fells (apart from Stilton of course and a few exceptions!) perhaps previous entry in a set number of FRA races over the previous 12 months would be a good race pre-requisite? Given that near 700 ran the Bradgate Derby runner league race and only 300-350 allowed here it may be a way for the race to move forward as a CL Fell race not just an extended XC.

Anyway CHR 2016, a mere three Striders this year with colds and flu depriving us late on of two Stilton entrants, it’s Rob Beers and Greg Pettingill out there suffering with heavy colds and Katie Hateley swearing she`s done no training. Not thankfully overly cold but a cold wind and quite a breeze, a few spots of rain in the sky but it has rained heavily the few days before and the mud is very plentiful.

The usual start off around the field with many people going off as usual with a far too positive split and an early faller who got tangled up in Mr Pettingill`s legs! The Greg-meister has made an impressive start and I’m towing him as we head into Bradgate Park and the looming Old John in the distance, at least I`m comforted by the fact he didn’t run all of that said hill. Yours truly does and then it’s the usual job of getting the breathing back to normal on the descent and down a very muddy cardiac hill into the (Bloody) golf course. Sue Pettingill is playing lead Stilton cheerleader today at Broombriggs and ahead of me is Greg climbing (walking!) upper broombriggs, I finally feel I’m gaining on the veteran warrior a little although I throw far too much into my descent towards Beacon Hill. Never my favourite climb the Beacon but for once no-one over takes me, a nice downhill off the Beacon where I sensibly go past Greg who is at the time suffering somewhat (you wouldn’t have thought given how effortlessly he was running).

Into the (Bloody) golf course and Cardiac Hill is a mud rink, back into Bradgate Park and by now I`m feeling not having a gel or water as by the technical section by Lady Jane Grey`s house my feet have the agility of your average Ogre. The last two miles I felt I lost 2-3 mins and the pace slowed greatly for me, I looked behind to see Greg climbing the long slow path towards the school thinking he had no way of catching me. Anyway a `Bottrill-esque` finish saw him take me in the last 100 metres followed by my climbing into the final field like it was Everest!

Greg Pettingill (73rd, 1:59:27), Rob Beers (77th, 2:00:09) and Katie Hateley a superb debut (131st, 2:11:14), felt like a letdown in the end (elusive sub 2hrs!) but given we were full of cold and results of similar runners I reckon team Stilton did very impressively.

And again thanks to the Blue Lion at Thrussington for their impressive Chip Cobs!  [Rob]