mum and dad bought me membership to the FRA for christmas, the price of £12 was a sign of the low-key, great value things that were to come (they even failed to put enough stamps on the envelope when posting out my membership pack; the £1.98 Post Office charge to collect the package kind of added to the charm of the whole episode).
noting the requirements for 'full body covering, map, whistle and compass to be carried at all times', I duly made my way to the Lamb Inn on the Hayfield/Chinley road along with the rest of the family ("it'll only take me a good half hour",I told them) on the day. Given that my specialist kit extended only as far as the aformentioned trainers, and a whistle my dad found in a drawer somewhere, I arrived looking like more like some sort of bizarre decorator than a fell runner:
undeterred, we made our way to the start, at which point the call of nature reminded me of the organiser's mention of 'no safety pins/no toilets' in the race description. After having availed myself of the nearest dry stone wall, I duly climbed over a stile to join the race and was given my first lesson in the grip of Walsh PB's on a hard surface: I went arse over tip, taking most of the stile with me, bashing my knee and jarring my back. Nice one.
the race itself was good fun: an uphill start, some gentle uphill, fun descents, with a whacking great 1:3 climb about halfway through the race. Delay #1. The open moorland that followed was also tough going, tussocky and uneven so that you daren't crack on too much for fear of spraining an ankle.
then we saw the first of two marshalls, directing us 'straight on' - job's a good un, but i had to pull up shortly afterwards as a result of the knock in the back I sustained before the race. Delay #2.
before i mention Delay #3 I must admit to being a self-confessed Map Geek: I will often look at maps of things like my work, my home, local town centres, just to check everything is still where it should be. So you can imagine my delight when I found a map of the race route over Christmas - i spent the next two weeks studying the route and every contour of the map.
so for some bizarre reason, in the final third of the race I spotted a group of runners ahead of me running up Mount Famine (not part of the route) and slogged up behind them to the crest of the hill, where a kindly soul out walking pointed out the error of our ways to us; we duly ploughed back down the side of the hill to complete the race.
Delay #4/Pearl of Wisdom #1 (part 1 of a series i expect): don't wear a pair of your dad's 15 year old XL Ron Hill tracksters whilst doing a fell race, as they will fall round your ankles round about the time you should be running 5 minute miles down a hillside.
so I came in second from last (actually Third from last, but two people DNF) but had a cracking time in the process, washed down with half a bitter in the pub afterwards and an afternoon on the sofa.
fell racing - you can't beat it.