Chevy Chase, 3rd July 2021
There was a good Claremont contingent at this year’s Chevy Chase. Richard Slack was amongst them, and he sends this report:
The 64th Chevy Chase Fell Race: Saturday 3 July 2021
This was another long-awaited race, the running of the Chevy Chase having been postponed in 2020.
As usual race HQ was Wooler Youth Hostel although all registration and post-finish exhaustions were out-side and understandably relatively low key, but that sense enabled the organisers, Wooler Running Club, to give the race go-ahead. Essentially, the Chevy is a lollypop route with the first and last 2.5 miles or so from the Youth Hostel and out over Wooler Common before reaching Carey Burn. From there the route heads out, as described to the “land of the far horizon” covering 32 km (20 miles) and 4,000 foot of ascent summiting Cheviot 2,676 feet/815m and Hedgehope Hill 2,348 feet/714m before returning over Langlee Crags and Brands Corner (by Brands Hill) to the Carey Burn after the infamous Hell Path.
The day dawned rather gloomy and grey but fitting for the return of the Chevy, the weather gods held back any rain and amazingly the cloud base was just tipping the tops all through the race, so relatively easy navigation – or at least we could see where we were going! Five Claremonters carried the torch for the Sky Blues. However, Kris seemed to enter a different race where runners ran fast and up hills – just not sure how that is possible beyond the Gateshead Hills sessions. The four of us, Dave L, Maria D, Jamie, and myself, decided to let him go and not to hold him back. However, Maddie did cheer all of us off! Kris did not disappoint finishing 8th overall in a superb time of 3 hours 16 minutes.
As for the four of us, the red shoe (see group photo) peloton began to take shape. Not necessarily intended, but we all just got into a steady rhythm of group running, and each of us in turn at our low points was delighted (ok, that’s in hindsight!) to be kept going by the others. We had quite a simple strategy – just keep going, not go hell for leather on the outward route to Cheviot and keep some reserves in the tank for the last 10 miles after Hedgehope. Dave and I had suffered badly with leg cramps in 2019 after Hedgehope so a steady pace did the trick this time around. Maria had a welcome to the steep descent off Cheviot with a close inspection of the turf on the way down, but our group resolve became more determined the further the race progressed. For those familiar with prior Chevy reports, I can also confirm that Jamie finished the race with all gear and shoes intact.
Reaching the top of Hedgehope, we were rewarded with a fruit sweet each – see how much fun fell racing is, and extra water rations if needed at Langlee Crags and Brands corner. After doing a recce with Kris earlier in the year I was confident we had sussed out some good lines between the check points and pleasingly remembered them – cheers Kris for that! Continuing as a four we made good progress and reached Hell path. In 2019, some of the larger rocks that you must clamber over presented me with a real mental challenge as to how to get over or around an obstacle with cramping thighs. This year, although still tough, hell path passed uneventfully before the rise (seemed like a mountain at the time) back up to Wooler common. Thereafter an easy two miles (ha ha) back to the finish but Maria and Dave pushed us on. The three of us finished just under 5 hours, with an actual run at some sort of pace up the last bridleway to the youth hostel, with Jamie a couple of minutes after. Lashings of juice and fresh cooked chips then awaiting us (The Famous Four go to Cheviot).
What a great day out. It was fantastic running as a group, aka the red shoe peloton, and at a managed pace which made the race highly enjoyable although still tough (small understatement). We’ll hopefully all be back in 2022 when Jamie should become a Chevy legend in his tenth running!
Full results here