Friday, 25 June 2010

Back in Black - GWFR recce

I only do do a couple of races a year (Brown Willy on Bodmin Moor on New Year's Day and the Grizzly in March) and so fancied having a go at the Great West Fell Race on Dartmoor at the end of July. Barefoot. It's an AS category race (short and sharpish) and I haven't found out yet if I'll be allowed to start as it's under FRA rules.

Apart from the first (and last) 20 yards which is mostly sweary rocks, the rest is pretty straightforward. The track which winds up the side of Longstone Hill is a bit knobbly but nice and soft just off to the side.

There are plenty of sheep trods from here to the top of Yes Tor and its easy to pick lines through the clitter. Once up to the trig point I was on familiar barefoot ground across to High Willhays.

The route from High Willhays to Black Tor is a bit tricky - tussocky with long grass and plenty of ankle-snapping holes to watch out for with just the odd sheep trod. this is the view from Black Tor down to Black-a-Tor Copse and the West Okement valley.

Another knarly track on the homeward leg, but it's easy to pick a line just off to the side. On my next recce I may stay higher off the the track from Black Tor and see how that goes.

From here it's back to the Longstone Hill track and down to the finish with a run along the dam and a short section of tarmac to the car park.
It seems a shame to don the mincers for such a short section of the race, but it's either that or fairy about at the start and finish. Another month of conditioning and another recce may change my mind, though............


  1. Looking forward to the race report Paul - make it a barefooter ;)

    Clitter - that's a new word to adopt. Sounds like a litter of clattery stones?

  2. Think I'll just grin and bear the fairy rock dance and leave the mincers at home - won't be fast, but won't be last! (hopefully)

    Clitter's a good Dartmoor word - much fnak and fnar when a friend called the terrain 'clitterish'

  3. Sounds awesome. Short & sharpish seems to sum it up perfectly.

  4. It's a lovely area (but then I've got a soft spot for most of Dartmoor). The West Okement valley is beautiful and makes for a cracking run with the sting in the tail up to Kitty Tor.

  5. cant see how they can argue with your choice of good to see how you do

  6. Like the concept of unfootwear, URC! Genius!

  7. FRA rule 9. Equipment.
    Competitors should arrive at races prepared to carry any or all of the following equipment:
    a. Windproof whole body cover
    b. Other body cover appropriate for the weather conditions.
    c. map and compass suitable for navigating the corse.
    d. whistle.
    e. emergency food (long races).
    bla bla bla. No mention of foot wear;-) go for it.

  8. Oh and glad the flertation with your feminine side seems, at least for the time being, to be over.

  9. Cheers Lightning! A mate suggested clearing a bit of a path through the sweary rocks at the start which is worth a go, so it'll be all bf.

    I don't think my feminine side likes me very much, so I'll leave it alone for a bit!

  10. Running barefoot sounds interesting! After reading 'Born to Run' I have been trying to pluck up the courage to try it for myself!
    Good luck for the race though, maybe see you there!

  11. I'll be the one mincing and swearing at the start and finish unless I get up there and do a bit of clearing!

  12. Just seen on the GWFR site that they dont allow bare foot running?!? Surely they should promote this as I would think you erode the paths far less than 50 runners all wearing agressive gripped soles!

  13. Just spotted that! Will do it in mincers or see how I get on with my VFFs. Bit of a shame really, but s'pose they've got to cover themselves