Ravenstonedale Red – 10 (country) kilometres
Report by Stuart Jones
Saturday 24th November (1:30 start)
‘Run two races in two days,’ they say, ‘and you’ll run two bad races.’ I ran two totally contrasting races this weekend, with just 20 hours between them; PB’d the first and then scored a lifetime PB in the second. Perhaps I am the exception that does something or other to the rule?
Ravenstonedale Red is hosted by Howgill Harriers. They don’t advertise it widely. Capacity has been increased to accommodate 300 runners in the main event. The village of Ravenstonedale, near Kirkby Stephen, probably couldn’t cope with more cars or buses, even if the roads could. Registration is in the village Heritage centre, with the Portaloo (singular) outside. You take your bag back to your car.
The starter stood atop a dry-stone wall to issue instructions, and said, ‘Go’. A quick, and short, lap of the village (Kings Head, St Oswald’s Church, Scandal Beck playground and The Black Swan) and it’s off towards the Howgill Fells themselves.
Farm houses on the route had tables at the door offering honey, jam, eggs and scones, but there was no time for any of that (or at least not for the front half of the race – I have no idea what the back end was up to!)
A loop back to the village and rush past the water table plastic cups) and out again on a slightly different, bigger and more uphill second loop. This one went nearer to the snow-topped hills, turning at The Fat Lamb. It really is obviously farming country.
The sting in the tail, just as the uninitiated is expecting it to be a fast downhill return, is a wicked s-bend uphill at about 10% incline. Short but satisfying. This stretch, like much of the race, is on narrow country lanes and is a joy to run. The only car (an open-road race) on this 2k section trundled along nestled within the runners as it had no option. There was one more ‘bump’ on the road and back, once more, to the village.
The knot of spectators at the bridge clanged away all afternoon on a cow bell, encouraging all the runners to put in their best efforts.
Afterwards we gather back in the Heritage Centre for the best sort of ‘goodie bag’. There is a cup of hot soup and French bread to drunk. There’s a huge table of cake to buy and mugs of hot tea.
Prizes went out in all categories from Open through to V75, in 5 year increments, male and female. I guessed both male and female winners at the start line (tall, lean, scraggy male (like a Lakeland sheep), and tall, lean, beautifully made-up and coordinated female (like a spring-loaded warm-up leader). Then they do ‘spot prizes’ where, perversely, the sacks of kindling are the most sought-after wins. A four-night stay in a local cottage, two nights at the Black Swan, a hamper, wine, more wine, and YES! I won the kindling! Fame at last
No medal, no t-shirt, no official photographer, no chip on the race number; who cares?
There is absolutely no good, logical, reason for me to travel all that way from Sheffield to the east South Lakes, and yet I will return for another bash at this lovely little ‘racing as it should be’ event next year.
I ran a two-minute race PB at 46:08, to finish in 64th place out of 211 finshers.
The winner was Carl Bell (Keswick AC, and formerly Howgill Harriers) in 33:14.
First female was Sharon Bulman (of New Marske Harriers AC) (FV45) in 39:25. She won the women’s V40 race last year, and the year before, and …
Full results at: