Ding Ding round 1 and the “worst” fell race in Britain.
I’m standing in a Thai fighting ring looking out at 400 cheering Glaswegians, chants of “go on big man” echo round the hall, there’s a huge powerful bear of guy grimacing at me from the other side of the ring and I have a fighting stick in one hand and a shield in the other, an announcer shouts “We have a 3 round battle in Lombok Stick fighting style”……. Ding ding round 1….. instantly the bear runs at me and leaps high in the air , I instinctively sink down , raise my shield , BANG !! he pummels my shield with a huge hit , my feet sink into the floor as I absorb the blow , Instantly it hits me , fight mode , I spring to my feet and bring up my guard , we attack each other , each time I get in close he overpowers me , I attack him and its like bouncing off a brick wall ,my hits just seem to bounce off him ,yet he hits my shield with monster blows that rock me on my feet , I am faster though and I go underneath his lunge and hit him smack in the forehead but he doesn’t bleed , his granite head takes the full hit .. All I’ve done is succeed in riling him up a bit more … he piles in and we are wrestling… BANG !! He smacks my eye with his shield… the bell goes, I’m bleeding and its all over I’ve lost … first to bleed loses, the only rules…
2 weeks before Dave Scott of Sandbaggers Expedition fame, had asked me to stand in for his friend Jay, a Glasgow enforcer, a no mess hard man who “enforces”…. these two were going to fight it out at a Thai mixed martial arts show , all money going to charity .. however Jay had to cancel and Dave didn’t want to let the show down, I had laughed at him at first when he asked me , not a chance, I mean come on, who would risk that so close to going to the Marathon Des Sable, but the thought of the charity money and the buzz of taking him on gripped me and I couldn’t say no…….I had the fight skills, I just had to hone them to Sticks so it was on … Dave “the grizzler” Scott of Newton Mearns and Mark “mountain goat” Lyons of Hawick would battle it out in Glasgow town hall on Saturday 19th of February … the result a brutal no holds battle, an amazed crowd going nuts for more, a big egg on Dave’s head and a big black eye on mine but a nice charity donation at the end …… result!!
My week leading up to the battle had been a tough one! with over 80 miles ran over the fields and nearly 10 miles swam in the pool… nothing like resting up before a fight, it was all good in the end though and after the fight I dropped Dave in Edinburgh at Dr Andrew Murrays wedding before heading back to the Borders.
the “worst” fell race in Britain ……….
I eventually grabbed about 5 hours kip before Kenny Short arrived bright and Early in the morning for us to travel to Kielder to run in “The Borderer” , reputed to be the “worst” fell race in Britain ,at nearly 18 miles long and with 4500 feet of climbing this is one super tough day out , made even tougher on the day by freezing fog , wind , thick snow and sub zero temperatures.We were met by “KJ” hawicks Keith Murray , this guy is a fell runner of the highest calibre and is often in the top 10 finishers , he really can go some .. Between KJ, Kenny and Billy Fraser , Hawick is certainly well represented in the top 20 of most races.
The first 2 miles raced up a super steep hill into a forest ,think a 2 mile long Millpeth , then it turned a corner and it got steeper!! my legs were on fire , calves were like rocks by the top and I was glad to see the first checkpoint at the mast , from here we raced over the Northumberland fells overlooking Kielder , Englands last great wilderness , from high up on the Deadwater fell we ran through snow , heather and knee deep mud over to Peel , then down to the Kielder stone before a long hard climb to Knox knowe , Grey Knowe and Greys Pike before racing back down to the castle … this was one super tough hillfest of a race , apparently one of the toughest most gruelling races in the fell runner calendar and I certainly wont argue against that .. It was fantastic !
The crowd was great, the usual eclectic mix of fell runners from all over , fell running is a close community and even after only a couple of races I’m getting to know a few faces … its a friendly affair and not as competitive as road running , races are judged on how tough they are and times really don’t come into it for the most part .. and the Ready, Steady Go!!! nature of it all is raw and exciting, just pay your money in the morning , line up and try to make it to the end alive and still uninjured …. amazing , if there is one thing I am sure of , it is that once Ive finished with the deserts and mountains , I will most certainly be Fell running for a long time after.
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