Posts Tagged ‘pule’

Ian Roberts Fell Race

At the end of the race me and several other runners found that we couldn’t remove our shoes because they were frozen to our feet. As I sit here writing this nearly 3 hours after finishing the race I’m still unable to feel 2 of the toes on my left foot. They’re numb, completely numb. To my adjoining toes they feel like something in my sock that shouldn’t be there. A very odd sensation. All part of the fun.

It was a bleak night but I didn’t expect to wake up to hills covered in snow this morning. This should make it interesting. There were already many tales being told in Marsden Cricket Club (race HQ for the Ian Robert’s) of the various adventures people had already had getting there this morning. With dark skies, high winds and snow showers we might well be in for some more.  Was I really going to spurn the warmth of my insulated coat and head up the hill? Of course I bloody was. I made my way up to the start with fellow Peak Bog Men Stephen (Diver-Driver) Fraser and Alistair McDonald.

I’m pretty sure comedy starts to fell races that begin in Marsden are quickly becoming the way things are done round here. We’ve already had what’s been termed ‘The Keystone Cops start’ to the Trigger earlier this year. Phil Hobbs stepped up to the ‘starting mound’ to do the housekeeping and start the race. One hundred and five fell runners primed and ready to go, eagerly staring up the track waiting for the countdown. When…”Is that a car …coming towards us?” Up pootles a rather surprised looking farmer in a pick-up truck carrying a huge bale of hay. One hundred and five fell runners now find themselves clambering off the track to find enough space to let him through. Normal service was soon resumed and we were off.

I’d decided to go for a fast start (for me anyway) up to the footbridge after the first road crossing. It was fun. Keeping up with the faster runners and jostling for position as we raced along the track. I forgot to slow down after crossing the bridge though and got dragged along at a pace much quicker than I’m comfortable with. By the time we hit the first ascent of Bobus I was knackered.  I arrived at the top having only lost 3 or 4 places but now expected to lose more on the section around the catchwater leading to Black Moss. I didn’t so was quite pleased and feeling the recovery from the quick start and ascent was going quite well. I looked up to see everyone crossing the bog at the same place – usual in snow when it’s easier to see and run in a broken trail. I decided they were all sheep-like idiots and that I could pick off a least half a dozen by blazing a much more efficient trail of my own. At least 12 runners passed me as I floundered helplessly through the snow covered, energy sapping bog.

My attention was soon diverted from the resulting low morale of this error by the freezing gale force wind which side-swiped us as we traversed the dam of Black Moss reservoir and the realisation that my trousers were falling down – I had neglected to tie the waist cord before the race. Why it took me several minutes of fumbling about to learn that it was almost impossible to tie with gloves on I can only put down the hypothermia and altitude sickness. I got annoyed with myself and sped past at least 6 runners before we got to the paved section of the Pennine Way, hoicking my trousers up every couple of minutes. Funny, but I’ve just read my previous account this race  in 2010 to find that I sped up in this exact same place on that race too. I think it may be down to the turn in the course which puts the wind behind you – a good thing for us tall fellas as we act like sails in high winds.

I wasn’t looking forward to the decent on the paving slabs especially as they were covered in snow and ice. I was planning to run as much as I could on the grass by the side of the path. Once on the slabs I was surprised at how runable they actually were so I stayed on them and flew down gaining a couple more places after the stream crossing at the bottom. Whilst running down this section I got chance to look up and was staggered by the scenery. It was beautiful, covered in a layer of snow with the tussocks and other vegetation sticking through the top and the rocks on Pule Hill in clear contrast. I didn’t have time to stop and take a photo so decided I should come back later.

Pule Hill - ian roberts fell race

Running into the wind almost brought me to a stop as I ascended the Standedge Trail and I was overtaken by 3 strong limbed athletes. I tucked into this group and stayed as close as I could to use them as a wind break (you know what us tall fellas are like in strong winds) until we turned off the trail to head along the catchwater to the bottom of Pule Hill.

I could see a steady stream of runners walking up Pule and, anticipating that the wind was going to be a factor, was ready to do the same myself. But I didn’t. I didn’t make any ground on the group in front of me who were walking but I did manage to run all the way up even though my legs had turned to jelly. I was surprised at this point to see a race marshal cheerily urging me on and pointing the way whilst trying to hold the hood of their coat tightly to their head against the wind which was doing its best to blow the poor soul off the hill.

Now, I try not to look behind in races – it scares me and and makes me feel under pressure – but at some point I had glanced over my shoulder to see Alistair McDonald not far behind me. I wasn’t making the most of the decent of Pule Hill because of my jelly legs so was expecting to lose a couple of places on this section. By the time I had got to the top of the incline and turned east over the moor and into the wind again I was pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t been.

Feeling like one of those young chaps who prefer to wear their trousers with the wasteband around their knees and tiring from the distraction of having to periodically yank my trousers back up I decided to have another go at tying them. I was celebrating the success of this endeavor when came the distinct and inevitable sound of a firmly pinned race number fighting with the weather for its freedom. Not long after I was overtaken by a runner who was travelling at great speed – I decided to let him go.
“He’s probably not in the race anyway.”
“He’ll have just got out of his car at the bottom of the hill.”
“On fresh legs.”
“Yeh that’ll be it.”
“The noise of the race number? Gortex! – yeh, makes a right racket in wind.”

A few minutes later, on the steeper section of the decent, Alistair glided past with effortless speed. This did speed me up a bit but I couldn’t stay with him. By the time we reached the track where we’d started the race he was about 50 meters ahead of me and quickly gaining on a group further in front. After the uneven, soft, spongy decent of Pule this section completely confuses the legs often resulting in them refusing to work. By the time I had got to the road crossing I was glad that it  was marshaled. I wouldn’t have cared if there had been a bus coming, I just wanted to get to the finish.

For some reason the second ascent of Bobus was slower than the first :-). And I noticed that the 2 runners who had recently overtaken me had started to walk.  The marshal at the stream junction which lead us down into Butterley Clough had erected a tent to fend off the weather. This last section is horrible. Most people that do this race can be heard complaining about it. It’s evil. Possibly the worst section of any fell race in West Yorkshire – which of course makes it the best! The deep tussocky terrain and steep decent can turn the hardest of fell runners into quivering wrecks. Today though the snow made it almost a pleasure. And, though I did take a spectacular fall and was barely able to get back on my feet I really enjoyed it. The tracks in the snow also pointed out a far better route than I had ever found on this section before. Even the ascent up the other side of the clough was enjoyable. And even though I’d been overtaken on the descent I was catching Alistair and the group of runners he was now struggling to get passed.

On the muddy zig-zag decent to the footbridge several runners made bold moves which nearly ended badly. I decided to stay put. Play it safe. Not take any risks. This, of course, didn’t last very long. I like bold, daring moves. Like…well…throwing caution to the wind and blazing my own trail through bogs. So I knew it wouldn’t be long before I tried something. Just then I spied an opportunity. A small rise next to the path. “If I throw myself at that I can get past most of this group and tuck in behind the two at the front before I reach the bridge.” It only worked! I crossed the bridge with only 2 people in front of me before launching myself up the other side of the gully determined not to lose the places I had so boldly won.

By the time I got to the top of the gully I felt quite sick. I had nothing left. Legs and lungs screaming in protest I somehow managed to get myself over the style and start running again. The track  – with a wall on one side and young trees on the other – is barely wide enough for one runner and had been turned into thick foot-clawing mud. The chap in front of me was the same runner who had passed me on the decent into Butterlley Clough and had himself performed several daring downhill maneuvers to get there. The chap behind was Alistair. He couldn’t have been more than an inch behind me. He was going to power past me at any moment. “If only I could get past the chap in front. That would put someone between us and it might just put him off.” Finding legs from who know’s where I made a mad dash through a small gap in the trees. I’d done it! I’d got past him. I could see the end 30 meters away! All I’ve got to do is stay on my feet and keep going. I could tell by the faces at the finish line that it was close. I could also tell the other two hadn’t given up. Desperately trying to gulp oxygen from the freezing air I dug in a bit more. Surprisingly my legs responded. I sped up. Forcing myself forward I moved closer to the finish. I went over and ended up on my arse.

If there was such a thing as a prize given for the least amount of time spent on the floor after a fall I would have won it. Somehow, without conscious effort I was back on my feet and across the finish line before the other two. Hardly able to breath and bent double trying  not to throw up I was thanked for the “great battle”. Unable to speak I responded with pats on the back.

The other two, Alistair and (I’ll post his name when I get it from the results) had seen me slip – as the result times show they were inches behind me – and without any communication between them they both decided not take advantage of  my misfortune to gain the extra place. That, to me anyway, is what this is all about. And that’s why it was such a great race.

I came 44th – my best ever place in this race with a time of 65 minutes and 9 seconds by best ever time.

Ian Roberts Fell Race 2013 Results

first & third road crossing and the path up Bobus

first & third road crossing and the path up Bobus

second road crossing looking back at path from the Standage Trail to Pule Hill

second road crossing looking back at path from the Standage Trail to Pule Hill

Pule Hill - ian roberts fell race

Butterlley Clough

Butterlley Clough

Pule Hill - ian roberts fell race

Pule Hill

Read Full Post »

It was probably about -8 when Diver-Driver, Dr Ali and I set off up Pule Hill at 8pm on a frosty Monday night. The air was crystal clear and there was still lots of snow on the ground from the week before.  I don’t think we’d got off the track that leads up to Intake Head Farm before Diver-Driver’s appreciation of mine and Dr Ali’s comedic and intensely funny Scottish accents wore off. By the time we arrived at the air shaft Diver Driver was walking off into the darkness  by himself and threatening an early bath. Gritting his teeth he stuck with it and was still there to provide a flask of fortifying brandy on the summit of Pule. This along with Dr Ali’s hip flask of whiskey warmed the cockles and raised the spirits as expected.

Under shooting stars we set off down towards Worlow Quarry then followed ‘the bumps’ down to Hades Farm where we paused again to take on more fortification and admire the stars. We were back down to the village and in the pub by 10 where we were greeted by several chaps drinking whilst huddled round the only source of heat in the place – a small fan heater perched on the bar. Happy days. 🙂

Awaiting photos from Dr Ali.

Read Full Post »

Phew, finally caught up. With the lads up a Cairngorm at the weekend a reduced party (Diver Driver, Dr Crowe and Michael) took to the crags on Mother Pule. A first proper Monday night out, the longest day and a beautiful evening.

First up Flying Buttress, it still needs a minimum of 3 pieces of gear in the vertical crack, a bit of faith onto the ledge and some awkwardness to feel around the horizontal bulges but the handholds are as good as ever.

Fraser led a corner (next to the hideous green scoop) with aplomb and to round off Dr Crowe had a go at Square Buttress. The first go ended with a Dr Ali-like lunge for the main break. It was followed by a Dr Ali-like pendulum across the face. All the year’s experience came into play – if at first you don’t succeed then light a cheroot and have another go, and so it went, with bats flying around and a curlew and an owl calling at opposite ends of the hill. Dusk came and we went to the pub. Marvellous.

Read Full Post »

Our first trip to Pule, Drs Ali and Crowe, Mr Tuck and the Prof. A stark reminder of the off width and bulgy, slightly overhanging nature of the quarry. The forgotten art of downclimbing was retrieved from our collective unconscious. I think each pair only completed one climb as a pair. Certainly Dr Crowe and the Prof had to lay seige to a crack that was just out of their reach – a bit like the Ottomans trying to take Vienna – each attempt adding another piece of gear. The Prof finally hit the move needed to take the top. Dr Crowe in a fit of ambition demonstrated the lack of balance that keeps his belayers on their toes and fell off soimething he’d led last year. Truly going backwards. A beautiful evening and the first post-sunset finish needing headtorches in order to abseil down to retrieve (or not) bits of stuck gear.

Read Full Post »

It was the fine weather and finding out that the race didn’t start untill 11am that made the decision to do the race for me. After weeks of not running and a late night (or 2) I was about as prepared as I ever am. A text to Diver-Driver secured my lift up to the cricket club and we were off.

A quick look over a map of the route revealed a couple of cunning changes. The first was the ascent of Pule Hill to my favoured route and the second was a completely different finnish. Instead of the normal finish around the top of Carr Clough to the cricket club, a second ascent of Bobus had been added. The route then followed the catch water for a couple of hundred metres before taking a steep descent deep into Butterley Clough. Another small ascent up the other side of the clough before zig-zagging down to the stream  and on to the finish back at the cricket club. This, I thought, would make the course significantly more difficult.

Ian Roberts Route Map 2010

Starting off about two-thirds into the pack I managed to maintain my position along the trail and onto the stream crossing (scene of last year’s youtube classic). Finding it less strenuous to run slow rather than walk fast, I decided to try to maintain a steady, but slow, pace regardless of terrain. Seemingly the right choice, this lead to me overtaking half a dozen people who had opted for walking the first ascent of Bobus. It was a relief to get to the catch water at the top where the going was flatter and beautifully spongy. The half-dozen I had overtaken on the ascent were soon breathing down my neck and I think they had all passed me before we got to the dam of Swellands Reservoir.

Turning Northwest over Black Moss dam I was met by a fierce wind which took a little out of my pace. I was soon engulfed by the half-dozen who had now been joined by Nigel – Diver Driver’s brother. Wanting the freedom to travel at my own pace on the upcoming flagged pennine way section, I mustered a sprint which took me beyond the half-dozen. I was pleasantly surprised that: a) this sudden burst of energy didn’t kill me and b) it worked. Widening my stride to lessen the impact of the slabs on my delicate, puny knees I wasted no time getting down to the now sadly empty Redbrook reservoir.

Slowing down along the ascending Standedge Trail I managed to keep my position. Maintaining my strategy of run rather than walk, I adopted a ‘rest pace’ along the catch water leading to the bottom of the ascent of the sharp side of Pule Hill. During this section I was caught up and overtaken by the half-dozen but I felt confident that my Pule ascending skills would pay off. A third of the way up Pule I was picking off the tail enders of a large group who were walking the ascent. Sadly my strategy failed when the group swallowed me up and made the effort of passing so many people on the steep climb not worth the effort. I gave in and had to walk the last half of the ascent. Bloody tourists 🙂

Ian Roberts Fell Race 2010

Ian Roberts Fell Race 2010

The top of Pule saw the wind again (no surprises there!) and I managed to keep pace with Nigel – who had overtaken me on the way up. In what seemed like no time at all we were at the junction at the top of the incline where the route took a ninety degree turn East. At this point I saw a runner somersault into a small gully. Nobody seemed to notice. Memories of Dr Ali’s chin at Ravenstones Brow played through my mind so I was glad when I saw the chap leap back to his feet and dart off across the moor.

The section from Pule across Brown Hill did for me last year. With no path and only random trods it is difficult to get a bearing so this year I took a compass. Also the going is tussocky and full of rough gulleys which makes it hard work for tired legs. I was pleasantly surprised to find that ths year it had been marked out very well with flags. The compass stayed in my pocket.

Upon reaching the trail where the race started my legs quickly turned to jelly. I remember this from last year and think it must be a symptom of the radical change of terrain from the damp, tussocky tendrils to the firmness of the trail. I developed a horrible niggling pain in my right thigh. I paced Nigel and a couple of other runners until a couple of hundred metres before the stream crossing where I overtook them to get a clear run up the second ascent of Bobus. This was most definitely a lot easier the first time round but I plodded up again without breaking my now almost static gait.

Ian Roberts Fell Race 2010

Ian Roberts Fell Race 2010

Someone was breathing down my neck as we ran along the soothing sponginess of the catch water track again but this time I didn’t know or care who it was. A marshal was on hand to kindly point out the descent route which would take us down to Butterley Clough. Horrible with deep tussocks but with gravity working in my favour it wasn’t long before I was overtaken by the couple of runners who had been breathing down my neck. After I was overtaken by a third runner and with the end surely not far away I summoned enough energy to retrieve two places with a death defying leap when the two runners hesitated crossing a narrow gully.

The descent into Butterley Clough steepened into the sort of angle that almost required roping up. After crossing the stream and ascending the other side of the gully the route flattened out into the most evil terrain imaginable to man at this stage of a fell race. Deep tussocks with no discernible route through. Jellied legs now became liquified, heading off in all directions with any attempt to control them utterly futile. I began to get cramp in my right calf and just managed to flop over the style at the end of this hellish section and onto the path which zig-zagged down Carr Clough to the stream.

Ascending the other side of Carr Clough I wasn’t far behind a group and was tempted to run after them to try to gain a couple more places but seeing no obvious place to overtake on this narrow path I decided that as long as nobody came sneaking up behind me I was happy with my position.

Rounding the corner I was surprised to see the finnish line and overjoyed to see Jess, Zuni, Nerissa and Phoebe all waiting there to cheer me home. A fantastic ending to what is the most enjoyable fell race I have done. Back to the pavillion with the family for hot tea and sandwiches.

Addition Results: Just found out that I came 63rd, 21 places up on last year 🙂 and my time was 69:44.

The finish line

The finish line

Read Full Post »

With the good Drs Ali and Crowe opting for Huddersfield climbing wall Mr Tuckle decides to take advantage of the last of the snow before the thaw. Deciding against Black Hill I opted for a trudge up Pule Hill, a much safer bet on my own.

The lane leading up to the A63

The lane leading up to the A62

snow drift

Some interesting snow drifts have formed on the old farm track


My initials peed into the snow. Some people never grow up. I blame the parents


I don’t think anybody will know which way I came


My foot disappeared down a snow covered hole. Looking back I realised I had wandered too far right and had ended up over the gulley with a stream in the bottom. As I tried to push myself back out with my left foot it too began to slip down the bank into the gulley. Waste deep, I scrambled out. Realising that the conditions were a little too rough to be tackled alone I broke open my flask, had a coffee and made my way back down.


I put my time to good use by building a snowman which, on reflection looks a little scary. His name is Jim. Follow snowmanjim on twitter


I bade Jim the snowman farewell and set off for home


After all the trudging through deep snow it was good to be back in the village.

Read Full Post »

Managed to get out on a cold, damp wintery afternoon for a blast round a variation on the Ian Robert’s Fell Race route. Great fun apart from the vicious nettle sting on my knee from the path off Old Mount Road.  I dediced to try to better my 2009 result in 2010.  As the 2009 race came after 4 or 5 months of no training whatsoever it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

Ian Roberts Fell Race Route

Video of Ian Roberts Fell Race Sunday 8th March 2009. With that famous fall at the begining. If you look closely you can see me near the back looking well prepared.

Read Full Post »

run pule hill

Full credit to Dr Ali for this one. The rain started as he arrived at my door at 8.45. My lightest waterproof in the back of the car which had been taken away to be repaired, I had to brave the elements in only a windproof top – Ah well! It wouldn’t do to be getting soft now would it?

pule hill os

To Tunnel End and then up the relentless but enjoyable slog which is the north side of Pule Hill. The rain stopped but the going underfoot was wet and boggy. Talk was of twitter and running in the dry but it’ll never happen. Nearing the top of Sentinel – though difficult to be accurate as my head torch batteries were on the way out – we were hit by a blast of rain and wind which stayed with us until we reached the summit. Dr Ali’s trusty hip flask, furnished with a fine drop of Jura was enough to raised spirits and we set off east towards Worlow to pick up the ‘bumpy ridge’ back towards Marsden.

We stopped before the farm and decided not to wake the dog but to cut off towards Old Mount Road. Standing in the full moon it seemed like every detail was visible turning the ‘bumpy ridge’ into an eerie moonscape. We were soon back down the hill, into the village and back home having enjoyed a fine nocturnal run.

Read Full Post »