Round Hill Fell race falls in the category of “races I’d never have heard of if they weren’t on Tony Hazell’s club championship list”. But as it was local and I had half an idea to get into more fell running in the future, I decided to give it a go.
Organized by Otley AC, it’s got all the benefits of a small local race – very friendly, £5 on the day entry and only short queues for registration and toilets. I believed the message on the Otley website that the bogs don’t dry out even in the summer a bit too much and went for trail shoes – obviously completely unnecessary in a summer like this.
After a fantastic low key race briefing (“All right, if you need to pull out, let the nearest marshall know. I’ll count you down from 3”), we were off. I didn’t really know what to expect and how to pace it, so went with trying to keep up with a Hyde Park Harrier I finished near to in a few recent races. The first mile was fast on trails, then it opened out onto the moor. From there on, it was undulating and tricky underfoot. Following someone definitely helped pick a good line through the rocks. There was quite a bit of climbing in the first half, but no obvious summit, so I spent most of the race wondering which part Round Hill was and if it was still yet to come (turns out it came after 5k).
The descent after Round Hill is over a mile long and a good reminder that I need to work on my descending as 2 runners from Ilkley and Wharfedale came flying past me about twice my speed (I need to learn to “switch my brain off” as someone helpfully told me at the end!). The rest of the race felt tough in the mid-20s heat (quite different weather to Northumberland Coastal the previous weekend…) and with a few more hills. One of those times where you feel like you’re suffering badly, but not being overtaken, so it can’t be that bad.
The last few miles felt endless, but I tried to keep myself occupied by working out what 8.7 miles was in km in my head to check how far to go… finally I was off the moor and onto the finishing trail to cross the line. The water provided at the end a huge relief. Despite the heat, the post race cup of tea (a bargain at 50p) also went down well.
I was delighted to just break the hour mark and sneak into the top 10. The dry conditions made for a fast race and the winner broke Richard Pattinson’s 12 year old course record (Richard still holds the M40 and M50 records!). Well done to all the Harriers who ran and I’d thoroughly recommend this race to others for next year – it’s called a fell race, but it doesn’t need any of the fell race kit to be carried or any navigation, so is more accessible than other fell races.
*Main image credit: Phil Boynton at Round Hill Fell Race by Otley AC