I joined Pensby in the summer of 2016 and when I heard about the fell league thought, this is one type of race I won’t be having a go at. Things can change.
I am registered blind, but have a little useful sight. My eye condition is opticatrophy and as a result, I can see colour, light dark and pick out shapes, but everything is very blurred. The field of vision I have is very small. I find it hard to pick out objects such as lampposts, telegraph posts and overhanging branches. Running in the dark is even harder where a lot of colour is lost too.
However over the last year I have started to think that it would be good to have a go at running on a fell run route, maybe as a practice so I don’t hold anyone up from Pensby as they guide me or anyone else in the race who gets stuck behind me on a narrow section. When Nigel posted that the last race of the Summer Fell League was approaching and it was one anyone could do, I couldn’t resist. When Nigel then came back and said he would guide me, it started to dawn on me what I had done.
Ben and Nigel, on the descent from Meol Famau.
Standing at the start line I was asked how I felt and nervous, worried and excited would describe it accurately, but our plan to start at the back and hopefully have more space sounded perfect to me. The race started and the first part was right up my street, a nice road section! When the incline started and we made our way past people gradually. It felt great. The path was stony, but nothing too tricky. This did change after a bit and Nigel talked me through where to put my foot and warned me of every step up. It was a section I couldn’t run as it was too involved for my sight to keep up with, but most people were walking, so that was fine. Nigel kept telling me that it would get steeper and he was absolutely right. The last section up to the top was definitely a walk.
Downhill sounded great, but as we set out, I got a shock. This was the steepest ground I have ever run down. It took me by surprise and I was glad when the ground flattened a bit. After a bit I got used to this and it was great to run, though I wasn’t looking too much at the view, as I didn’t really want to see the drop. We once again got to a section which was a bit tricky for me to run, but as we made our way down the track. I stumbled a couple of times as I clipped the ground to the side, but nothing scary.
Once we got back onto the road it was much easier for me, as I could make out the surface I was putting my foot down on and see the edges of the road easily. The last climb towards the finish was great and seeing everyone from Pensby at the last bend cheering me in really rounded off a great experience.
Thank you to Nigel and everyone at Pensby for making the whole spectrum of races possible for me. This capped it off perfectly.