Saturday, 13 October 2012

Darren Holloway (Pennine)



Daz’s untimely death last weekend whilst competing in the Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay sent shockwaves sweeping through the world of fell running and many other places beyond. I didn’t know Daz beyond saying hello at races but I never missed a post on his blog “Laidbackfellrunner”, and I am struggling to come to terms with the idea that the supremely fit athlete I saw bounding down the boulder-strewn slopes of Ben Nevis, as I struggled upwards during this year’s race, won’t ever be doing that again.

The tributes paid by friends and fellow runners, on the FRA Forum, give an indication of just how highly regarded Daz was and show how much he will be missed and not just by his wife and family.

No words of mine could convey his love of the fells and fell running as well as his own do and so this is essentially a guest post, albeit very sadly, a posthumous one. Daz’s recent report on the Pennine blog describing the 2012 Scafell Pike race is a remarkable description of a fell race and it says much about Daz and his love of the sport whilst Andy Holden’s photo captures some of the enthusiasm he brought to the fells.


Scafell Pike Race
Posted on September 27, 2012 by daz h from the Pennine Fell Runners blog.

I have climbed Scafell Pike many many times over the years. I do not like the cairn at the top and I am not that keen on the number of people that are usually scattered all over it. Maybe when I run up it I want it for myself.
But it has its attractions.
You normally approach the top to the sound of the many walkers eating their crisps.
The Scafell Pike race which is run by Richard Eastman and co is a race that has evaded me for a good while but this year the chance was there to do it and that I did.
You receive 2 x tags at the start a bit like Ben Nevis then very quickly get down to the business of thinking how you are going to tackle the brute of a climb of Lingmell Nose then onto the main path and then the summit.
I line up confident with some of the usual suspects. Watson, Pyke, Cornforth, Mcgoldrick, and others. I have come to know them well over the years and each has their own style of running. We all have our race to run , we have gone through our pre race habits and rituals and now there is nothing but effort and pain until we all cross that finish line.
I am not going to hit this flat out at the start. Forty seconds later I have thrown that tactic out of the window as I try to hang onto the pace as we blast over the dry bed of the river. The yellow marker flags take us to the bridge and onto the main 3 peaks walkers path. I know this route like I know my own training runs and way too much effort here will kill any runner further up the climb.
Left and onto Lingmell Nose. Stephen Pyke is right behind me and he forces me to push on. Sam Watson has skipped ahead and gained 50 metres on us and we will not see him again until he turns at the summit. I curse at the fact that I am 42 and do not have youth on my side. We trudge up the side of Lingmell with arched backs and hands on knees in quiet mode. No one talks on a gradient this steep.
Further up it will ease but that will mean having to run and from then on the cards will have been dealt and the field will be taking shape.
We run now. Stephen Pyke has closed on me and by the time we reach the main path he has gained an advantage and I am red lining to keep with him. Its not five minutes now before we will reach the approach to the main cairn and I will myself to hang on.
Thank god we made it but no time to feel any relief as I hand in my tag and turn to face the rocky way back down.
Walkers do strange things when you descend at speed and I wish I could tell them all to just carry on and leave it to me to go past them. I get to the corner, hang a right and realise I have gained a few meters on Stephen and push on harder on the dry rock path.
I will need those precious seconds as the grassy part on Lingmell will not do me any favours and all too soon I feel him behind me. I do not have a plan from here but thoughts of do not make one mistake and hammer over those remaining little rocky parts that adorn the run down onto Lingmell Nose.
I nearly fall twice dropping over the nose and my feet are going way to quickly for comfort but the stile at the bottom is all I can think of. I know Stephen is close as the marshals at the stile shout his name. They clearly know him.
We turn onto the main path and I give it everything. This path favours my style as it is strewn with boulders and rocks and my short fast stride helps me down to the wooden bridge.
Its torture from here as my legs start to seize up and that finish line feeling flows over me. You know how many times have you told yourself as you get near to a finish line, Just a bit further , Just a bit further.
Its a stumble through the beck and the cold water on my legs gives me a lift as I try to sprint for the finish funnel. 50 yards, 50 damm yards then the effort is done.
I enter the funnel and throw my tag down. Stephen crosses the line just behind me. He has run me ragged and I am grateful for his handshake and well done.
I quickly realise that I am first vet 40 back. It means little. A statistic.
The main fulfilment has been the battle against the fellside and my fellow runners and as I walk back to the beck to wash my legs I applaud other runners coming in.
We all have worked equally hard, we all have our reasons and we all have just made history.
There is a bucket of flapjack at the finish and some water. It is like nectar and just like at the Three Shires the week before I have to smile to myself on an amazing day.
So another race done and yes you all should do this race. It is a gem. Someone is telling me about the Wasdale Head show in a couple of weeks and I wonder if I can do that as well. So many events and so little time.
We are so fortunate to have this wonderful sport.
Only 99 runners today but I did not see one unhappy person and as I drive away I wonder where next. Where will this sport take me.
After hundreds of fell races the sport still has that magnetic pull that it had the first day that I wore a set of fell shoes.


Don’t be sad that it is over – be glad that it happened

1 comment:

  1. Daz's last post was exciting, inspiring, humbling and poignant.
    "So many events, and so little time..."