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BB Kong Fell Race, Blencathra and Blease Fell: Kong Winter Series 5


Race: BB Kong

Date: 17/02/2024

Distance: 5miles

Ascent: 2500ft

Organiser: Kong Adventure


Time: 01:22:11

Position: 149/184

Cuisine chosen: Golden Crunch biscuit



Route Description


This is a proper gnarly fell race. A short section on road, a blast through some fields, then you are on an upward slog towards Blencathra. Use the time on the fields to pick your position as the climbing is mostly done in single file. Once at the summit of Blencathra, you have done most of the climbing and you are free to spread out. The descent is steep and treacherous, wear shoes with as good grip as possible. The run starts at the fields you went through near the start.



BB kong fell race map
Created usuing Outdooractive


Race Report


The acronym for today's race was BB which stood for Blencathra and Blease Fell, the two fells we were running up. However, my personal acronym for the day was BS. This is not in the vulgar, conventional use of these two innocent letters which I would not sully this good blog by repeating, it is a more personal acronym: Bin Shoes.


I have possibly the world's pickiest feet. Due to a bone in the wrong place in each ankle, I am unable to point my toes, something that very much aggrieved my swimming teacher as a child. I, on the other hand, was blissfully unaware of this issue, not realising that pointing your toes was something normal humans could do. I was vaguely aware that ballerinas did it, but I thought they were a rarity; like people who can roll their tongue or sit through an entire episode of Big Brother without weeping. It was only after seeing a physio for a knee complaint years later, that this issue was realised.


Anyway, back to the Bin Shoes. My feet have decided that La Sportiva Mutants are the only shoe that they deem worthy to be seen in, meaning that for every activity I do; be that going for a run, going to the shops, going to work or, you guessed it, putting out the bins, must be done in these shoes*. I have developed a good system to prevent the potential intense financial burden such foot-pickiness may cause: as the grip of each set of shoes begins to deteriorate, they will get demoted. This means each shoe goes on a magical journey from the fells, to the streets and then to the alleys (specifically, the alley with my bin in). I tend to get a different colour each time so as not to confuse myself and use the wrong shoes for the wrong activity, however, a recent sale at Pete Blands meant that, for the first time, my current running shoes were the same colour as my bin shoes.


*I was expressly forbidden to wear them at a wedding.


I arrived at Threlkeld and found a perfectly Nissan Micra* shaped gap to park in (and park in it I did). I changed out of my Bin Shoes and into my fell shoes (the bin shoes also have a second job as chauffeur loafers) and went to register. I could not see Blencathra, a large blob of cloud replacing it, and I wondered if this was in fact a good thing. On the one hand, visibility would be awful on top, the view would be non-existent and I would be more likely to get cold. On the other hand, if it was out of the cloud, I would see how high it was and it would make me sad.


*The old-school Micra that looks like a baseball cap, not the new trendy one


The race began and we jogged along the small road section, several bemused locals watched as we passed; one person's dog even doing their best impression of someone starting a chainsaw. We reached the fields where I promptly did my first slip of the day, my right foot skidding out to the side. All around me people were slipping and sliding, with one person doing a full and spectacular roll, so I thought nothing of it. Out of the fields and the ascent began and a lifetime of being a below-average fell runner really began costing me time and places. Usually a fan of a good ascent, I just was not feeling it today, and I struggled my way upwards. The clag was thick, and people would disappear in the fog only to reappear in front of me as they moved in and out of the 20ft of vision available to us. Eventually, we reached the summit, ran along the humpback ridge of the fell, and began the descent.


Here is where the BS acronym really earns its place as my acronym of choice. The descent is very steep, very grassy and, due to all the rain, very slippery. The first section was curiously ridged and wavy, and I began to feel I was running across an enormous shepherd's pie. Once past the ridges, the gradient steepened becoming, essentially, a free fall (with fall being the operative word). As I began to descend, my right foot skidded from under me again and I fell and began to slide. I reached down to slow myself, before realising three things


  1. I was going far faster than I would be if I were running

  2. This was far easier than running

  3. My legs were cold enough that I did not feel any form of pain 


I decided to go with it, sliding and leaning like a champion bobsledder, avoiding hazards, as my pace increased. I began to wonder about the controversy it would cause should I inadvertently win the award for fastest descent without running a single step. I imagined the schism it would cause between those who believed you should be allowed to slide down a fell on your bum and those who did not.


Fortunately for the fell running community, I came to a gradual halt. Standing and beginning to run, I scarcely made it 100m before again, my right foot slid out from under me. I slid again, this time not as far and, as I was already on the floor, inspected the sole of my shoe. One look was enough: it was a Bin Shoe. It turns out, in the car park, I had only changed one of my shoes and was currently wearing one with grip, and one that lacked grip. Fortunately for me, as Bin Shoes go, this one had quite a lot of life left in it, even on occasion being taken out of retirement for a walk on the low fells. I kept my speed down on the rest of the descent, ensuring I did not injure myself as I knew I would be safe and well should I go down the fell slowly. I leisurely meandered down until I reached the bottom of the fell in one, slightly bracken scraped piece. 


And that was pretty much the race done, I splashed across a small stream and went through the finish line (which was actually a gate). I was home and dry. Actually, I was damp and in a field, but that does not sound so poetic. I had made it down, despite having only one-wheel drive. I felt accomplished, I felt competent. I felt like I could do anything. 


I turned, to walk back to the registration point, and promptly slipped over.


An excellent and well-organised race by Kong Running, thank you for a great Winter series and I urge anyone in the area next year to give them a go.



 fell runner on blencathra
Almost done Image Credit: Grand Day Out Photography



And if you want to read more of what I have written, you can see all my posts here:



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