It was a glorious, if slightly chilly Wednesday evening, which was to see the first fell race of the Shropshire Summer Series; Caradoc Classic. I'd never done this particular race before and the butterflies in my stomach were well aware of that fact, as they fluttered on the drive to Church Stretton. I don't normally feel the nerves before fell races so i was glad to relax a bit when i met up with everyone else from BRC at registration.
Fell races are a far smaller affair than most road races, and always friendly and welcoming of everyone. You end up with a real mix, from speedy under 15 kids to over 70s, and you'd be incredibly brave to try and guess who's going to finish where. Looks can be deceiving and experience plays a massive part when racing on the open hillsides.
7:15pm and we made our way to the start, Caer Caradoc looming over us in the evening sunshine. My nerves came back...
The race started with a runnable 1.5km stretch to the foot of Caradoc before a steep climb up to the first false summit. Smile and wave to the camera and an exhausted 'thank you' to Julie, Sharron and Andrew. We climbed again, levelled off, then up yet again to the turn around point. The view at the top was stunning, clear skies and patchwork fields as far as the eye could see. But now the fun bit.
My legs were like jelly, breathing hard, desperately trying to stay in touch with the runners in front. Finally, back onto the tarmac and a short sprint to the finish; time to breathe!
As I watched everyone else come in it was wonderful to see the mixture of real effort and pleasure on people's faces. Fell running is hard, but I can't imagine a more amazing way of spending half an hour on a gorgeous Wednesday evening in Shropshire.
Quite simply, I love living where I do, I love running and I love the hills. I'm very lucky to be able to be part of such special moments with a brilliant, supportive running club around me.
Well done to everyone that took part at Caradoc, but special mention to Derek in his first fell race, Rich getting a massive PB and Jenny on winning her age category. Now onto the next in the Summer Series, the Wrekin Streak.
Strava link - https://www.strava.com/activities/959361822
Results - http://www.merciafellrunners.org.uk/node/2912