Race Report: Neil Ford at the Pennine 39

Result: Pennine 39: 39 mile trail race with 1,500 metres of climb, 18th June 2016

Neil Ford 2nd out of 51 in 6.31 hours.

The Pennine 39 race is a fairly new event, organised by the same company that runs the Tour de Helvellyn. Run entirely on the Pennine Way, it starts in Bowlees in the upper Tees Valley and heads past Cow Green Reservoir, before passing the spectacular High Cup Nick and descending into the Cumbrian village of Dufton. The next section starts with a big climb to four tops, including Cross Fell, at 890 metres the highest point in the race and the highest top in England outside the Lake District. The route then traverses moors via an old miners track before dropping down to the pretty village of Garigill for the final riverside run into the finish in Alston.

Although the weather can be testing on Cross Fell, it was very calm on the day of the race, with a lot of sunshine and no wind or rain. Most of the race route was attractive but the old miners track was hard and stony, wearing both the patience and the feet of runners. My own experience of the race was marred by the lack of a checkpoint and feeding station at Garrigill, as the organisers had been let down by a volunteer and the replacement had not turned up when I came through the village.

I’d been banking on getting some supplies at Garrigill for the final four mile section but the lack of anything to eat and drink caused me to stagger for a mile or two. I eventually resorted to drinking from the River North Tyne (not recommended!) and then knocking on a farm door for some food. Thank you to the kind lady who provided me with bananas and an apple, the only obviously vegan things she had to hand! I had expected to be overtaken by a horde of other runners by the time I reached the finish line but must have had a big lead on the chasing pack. I was very happy to end up in second place, albeit a long way behind the winner. There was a fairly small field despite the race being part of the Runfurther British Ultra championship.

Congratulations Neil!

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