A common mistake in fell racing is to presume that the hillier the race is, the more difficult it will be. Arnside Knott fell race on Sunday definitely proved that to be false, as I arrived at the finish line more worn out than most other races I’ve done. It was definitely more intense than Great Whernside a few weeks ago.
Lorna uttered something to me before the start to the extent of “make sure you’re at the front of the group at the start”, and with this in mind I soon found myself in sixth place, huffing and puffing my way up slippy limestone covered in even more slippy leaves. The “make sure you’re at the front” strategy was to avoid the bottleneck as the race route took us onto a little single-track footpath just after the start, and it worked perfectly. I was pushing myself to maximum intensity, but in a manageable way so that I could (almost) maintain my pace for the duration of the race. After just over a mile, the guy in front cramped up and I slipped up into fifth place. After a stretch of road the final ascent of the Knott began, and I managed to overtake once more, putting me into fourth place until the summit. I had lost sight of the lead runners by this point and all that spurred me on was the knowledge that I was being pursued closely.
After dodging some curious cows standing around the summit trig, I started the descent, doing my best to avoid ploughing into those still making the ascent (the route is straight out and back), whilst valiantly trying to maintain my position. A real sting in the tail came in the form of a steep ascent about a mile from the finish, and at this point my legs decided they’d had quite enough ascent, allowing two guys who had been chasing me on the descent to finally pass. I managed to hang onto sixth position until the finish, frustratingly being only one second behind fifth place across the line.
My finishing time was 37:48, whilst the winner (Paul Webb) smashed the course record by nearly two minutes, finishing in 34:56. The full results are available here.