As the day wore on, and the clouds got lower & lower, Bella emerged as top Scottish team (& 11th overall) in this years British Fell/Hill Relay Championships at Kirkland Leaps in West Cumbria on Sun 18th Oct.
The championships are a 4 leg relay with legs 1 & 4 run as solo, and 2 & 3 run as pairs. Maps & checkpoints for Legs 1,2 & 4 were provided beforehand which allowed us to run the routes on the Saturday (in beautiful sunshine!) to find the best lines & identify some landmarks. Leg 3 is the navigation leg, with map supplied 500m after the leg start, so with 20 metre visibility adding to the joys of the deep bogs, high heather & tussocks it was a real test.
In total 7 Scottish clubs entered teams making up a total field of 148 teams. The teams consisted of some of the top hill runners, road runners & triathletes in Britain. But fast runners don’t always know where they are going, resulting in drama at the end when the top 3 clubs were disqualified for missing a checkpoint on the last leg.
But no such drama for the 2 Bella teams, as everyone climbed well, descended well & navigated (almost) flawlessly. The boys team are still kicking ourselves, missing out on a top 10 spot, with slight navigation errors on legs 3 & 4. But thats what will have us going back for another shot next year, in the Lomonds of Fife.
A final mention for the best sprint finish of the day has to go to Stuart on the last leg for the Mixed Team, after flying down the final steep descent, crossing the field and lunging for the electronic dipper box on the line. The photo evidence shows the monumental effort – and the Race Face Award for 2009/10 is already closed!
I cannot recommend these events highly enough, the sense of team spirit is 2nd to none, and the bad weather only added to the fun and to the decibel level of the supporting Bella team members. The Devils Burden Hill Relay at the end of January uses a similar format, and your next chance to come along to an event like this, go on, you know you want to….
Representing Bella were:
Bella Boys Team (11th) – 1. Matt, 2. Mark/Marcos, 3. Andy/Dougal, 4. Kenny
Bella Mixed Team (73rd) – 1. Katie, 2. Brendan/Davie, 3. Emma/Dave, 4. Stuart
Cheers to Andy Birnie for the Race Report