In my last interview, Lawrence Sullivan challenged me to participate in my first fell race taking place 7 days later. He chose Midgley Moors race, which is a 5 mile run with a 1250ft ascent. A category A, a tough one!
To be able to participate, I needed to borrow the minimum equipment. Thanks to Philip (N°16 in the picture above) for landing me a pair of Walsh fell running shoes, a compass, a whistle, a full body cover, a buff - which explains my pineapple head on the picture- and an exclusive Fell Ponies t-shirt.
Ready like a pro, I went confidently to register on the day of the race- N°21. A Frenchman in a fell race? Your first one? After friendly laughs and a good look at the other runners around me, I started to really understand how hard it would be.
On the starting line, I was facing the first hill, ready to go. 50m of uphill running later, I felt it was already time to start walking - my calfs were on fire and my lungs needed more air. Good start.... Fortunately, except for some really strong runners who were already at the top of the hill, many around me felt it was the moment to slow down too, so I wasn't the only one. Warm encouragement coming from the spectators gave me some extra energy to start running again and I was glad I did as there were some sneaky photographers around.
5 check points later, a wrong turning taken across the heather - really hard to run through - a disappointing second walking session for half of the next big hill and I finally managed to reach the end in 55.52, finishing at 77 amongst 124 participants. Phew!
My legs were hurting and I was out of breath but all these pains quickly disappeared thanks to massive congratulations from other runners and organisers and a warm cup of coffee. I was left with a great feeling of accomplishment and 5 words on my lips: when is the next one?
Only one regret: I haven't seen as much of the landscape as I do when I am walking but I guess this was because I was too busy looking for where to put my feet on the ground so as not to fall.
If you are in UK and want to know more about fell running, go and visit the Fell Running Association's website or just go to a race and ask. People are really helpful and friendly!