Windy Gyle Fell Race, 16th June 2024

Thanks to Izzy Neatrour for this report from England’s wild border country:

“Last Sunday me and Sarah Kerr headed up to the far reaches of north Northumberland for the Windy Gyle Fell race. After feeling a bit bored and disillusioned with recent road races, I was looking forward to something different. The FRA (Fell Runner Assoc) website provided a refreshingly minimal (but sufficient) amount of pre-race information, including the charming ‘venue’ (Roadside sheep pens 800m N of Barrowburn Farm, Alwinton) and a list of unknown acronyms under ‘required skills’.

Sunday promised dry weather after a wet week, and we made the long drive up from Newcastle. Once we were past Alwinton we continued for several miles along a narrow windy road to a patch of grass with a few parked cars and scantily dressed hardy humans. While Sarah was wondering where the toilets and coffee shop might be, I identified Race HQ as the car with the open boot. We handed over our paper registration forms and a fiver, and the organiser explained the route on an OS map. We were assured that marshals would be at key navigation points and that later parts of the route would be marked with tape.

The 9-mile route was truly stunning from start to finish, with nothing but skies and hills in every direction. The good weather also meant there was always a line of runners to follow, and the compass awaits its day in the sun. Hard slog up to Windy Gyle, followed by a nice section along the Pennine way (crossing into Scotland briefly), and then an enjoyable descent back to the start. The route is mainly grassy and not too technical so it was really possible to just let go on the downhills. Until I find a purely downhill mountain run, this is as good as running gets.

Sarah, the wee mountain goat, was a distant fleck from the start and came in a very impressive 2nd woman. I followed her in 4th. The race results were rapidly posted on a large piece of cardboard (displayed in the boot of race HQ) and a table of prizes was set up, mainly consisting of bottles and cans (I think left over from someone’s 70th bash). First place, first dips on the beer, and so on. As the final prizes were being announced, the weather turned and gave way to heavy rain marking the end of great morning (and a taste of how different a race it could have been). I was happy to walk away with a can of Guinness and a hunger for more time in the fells.”

Eric Adams was also in the race. I haven’t seen any results yet, but Sarah was 2nd female and Izzy 4th. Their Strava accounts show Sarah finishing in 1 hour 20 minutes, Izzy in 1hour 25 mins and Eric in 1 hour 26.

Tom Tinsley -